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No excuses

Well friends, I really have no excuse anymore for not updating my blog. I don’t have school anymore, work has been pretty slow, I’m (almost) done moving into my new place, and my computer is working again. Hopefully I can get back on track and stay on track! I do have lots of recipes to catch up on; hopefully I can remember everything I’ve been making. Admittedly, I don’t have any new recipes from the past two weeks because I was busy packing and moving. I might have a fun, cute recipe for this week if everything works out well though.

So what else have I been up to? I finally officially graduated with Master’s from GWU a few weeks ago and had a great weekend with friends and family around to celebrate!

My amazing family was sweet enough to buy me a new camera for graduation too! I got a Canon XSi and I’ve been playing around with it as much as I can between moving and unpacking boxes! I’m definitely excited to have some (hopefully) better pictures for the blog. Thanks family! 🙂

I also moved into a new house last weekend after living with roomie, Evan for four years. It’s pretty different living with new people, but I’m excited to be in a house again instead of an apartment…to have a yard and a kitchen that I’m really excited to use!

Other than that, I’ve just been applying for jobs, jobs jobs. I won’t bore you with the details, or lack of details.  I also have another project in the works, once it gets started I’ll share, but I’m pretty excited about it.

Well, hopefully I’m back for good now and Gretch can leave me alone 😛 (Just kidding girl, I appreciate you bugging me to update!)

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Black Bean Burgers – a few weeks late – ok more like a month

Well I really dropped the ball on updating this guy, huh? I have no excuse really. I did keep up with my recipes though, so I’m going to try to get caught up on them (along with a few other things) this week. For starters…

A few Fridays ago (okay, like a month ago), I hung out with one of my best friends, Alpa, who happens to be a vegetarian. I had been planning on trying to make some kind of non-meat burger, but I wanted to do it when Alpa was around. For years she would come to our cookouts and we would get some veggie burgers just for her. We used to eat the Morningstar ones in college with all the veggie roommates. I was really skeptical of them at first, but with enough cheese, veggie toppings, and condiments, I quickly became a fan. Since then, I have tried to completely get away from buying prepackaged meals. I get migraines pretty regularly and have been struggling to determine different triggers. A big one for a lot of people is MSG, which is in tons of pre-made food. Plus, I like the idea of knowing everything that is in my food, so I’d rather just cook it on my own.

I looked up a simple black bean burger recipe to test out. I actually used the one on Whole Foods’ website.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-2 tbsp. EVOO
  • Hamburger buns
  • Veggies for toppings

The recipe also called for hot sauce, but I decided to just wing it with all of the spices, I’m not a big fan of spicy (much to Alpa’s dismay)! We mashed up the ingredients into patties (it made 6) and cooked them in a skillet. Very simple. I will say that I made these another time since then. I simply threw everything into my food processor and gave it a whirl. The consistency of these was much better than when we mashed them by hand. Either way, it’s a very inexpensive meal that will leave you with plenty of leftovers!

 

My dinner date!

It doesn’t hurt to have one of these to go along with it either:

I need to start cooking some meals that will result in prettier pictures!

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Life on the Farm

Another much belated post…don’t act like you’re surprised! Last (last) weekend I took a trip down to Louisa to visit my sister, Twila, and her husband, Andy. They live on a small, but growing, farm and it felt great to get out of the city and relax for a few days! I love spending time at their house, it always feels nice and cozy. I was especially excited because it was the first time I saw her since she found out she is pregnant!!! I’m going to be an aunt in September and I could not be more excited. I took her a little UNC onesie and bib, but came to find out that Andy’s mom had bought them two UNC onesies already! Guess that kid will have no other choice now. Smile We had a pretty chill weekend, watching movies and playing with the animals. Some of my friends up here seemed to be surprised that they have a farm.  Here’s the rundown on animals: 1 pig, 5 adult goats (including a fainting goat!) and 2 little adorable baby goats, lots of chickens, a rabbit or two (I haven’t seen them in awhile, are they still around?). Then inside the house, there are 3 dogs and 3 or 4 cats. I think 3. I’m much more interested in the doggies.

Here’s one:

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I posted that one online and everyone said “ohhh, he’s so cute!” Here he is showing his true colors:

photo (3)

Just kidding, he’s usually pretty sweet, but he gets out of control with the bigger dog sometimes. He also growls when you pet him, but it’s his way of showing he likes it. What a weirdo.

I snagged a few pictures of the goats on Saturday too, but it was feeding time, so they weren’t too interested. Here’s Twila with one of the babies:

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Here’s Cookie (I call her Cookiepants), the fainting goat:

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I didn’t get any pictures with Twila and Andy, sadly. I’m headed down there again at the end of the month for a Spring cookout, so I’ll be sure to get some then. Hopefully she’ll be showing a little too.

Be sure to check out their Facebook page. Andy and his dad have been working hard to build a greenhouse and they’re starting to grow all kinds of fun things!

That weekend was just what I needed. We watched a few movies (Due Date was surprisingly hilarious), ate some bbq while listening to some bluegrass bands, and then surprised my stepmom for an early birthday lunch!

Twila and Andy, thanks for letting me hang out for the weekend. I had so much fun spending time with you guys!!

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Chicken Noodletastic “Soup”

Well I finally went to the doctor last week (that sentence originally said yesterday, but when do I ever post a timely entry?). Guess what? I have a sinus infection, duh. I got some meds and here we are on Monday and I feel like a million bucks compared to last week. I came home from the doctor and decided to tackle my soup recipe that I had decided on earlier in the week. I learned one major thing this week: follow. the. directions. While the dish tasted really good still, I wouldn’t exactly call it soup. I based my soup off of this recipe from Food Network, with some slight changes. I didn’t use any celery in my soup. Celery is just ok to me. It doesn’t have much flavor and I really don’t like cooked celery. It’s just mushy nothingness. I didn’t think I’d miss it and I was right. I also didn’t have any fresh thyme, just used some dried and it still tasted delicious!

I also learned the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth. Since I’ve been feeling crummy for the better part of two weeks now, I decided to take the easy route and buy chicken stock from the store instead of making my own. Chicken stock is made from the bones of a chicken and chicken broth comes from the meat. Chicken stock also has a fuller, richer flavor (you’re welcome!). I used 2 quarts of chicken stock in the soup. What I didn’t do was use 8 oz. of noodles. Here’s where I need to learn to follow directions. My bag of noodles was 16 oz. instead of 8 oz. I didn’t really pay attention to what I bought (I blame the plague). I dumped the whole bag into the pot and immediately panicked as they took over my soup. I tried to fish as many noodles out as I could, but it was still very noodle heavy. After Evan and I both had a bowl, there was essentially no liquid left to the soup…it kind of looks like stroganoff, oops. I think if I add another box of stock, it’ll be okay though.

 

Chicken Noodletastic Soup

2 tbsp EVOO

½ large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium carrots, chopped

4 fresh thyme sprigs (if you can find them)

1 bay leaf

2 qts. Chicken stock

8 oz. wide egg noodles

3 cooked boneless/skinless chicken breasts, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Coating a large soup pot with the EVOO, sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, bay leaf, and thyme. When they’re starting to soften up, add your chicken stock and let it cook for about 5 or 6 minutes. Then add your noodles (remember, 8 ounces!). Cook for a few minutes, and then finally add your chicken and let it warm. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pretty simple recipe, really. I’m really picky about meat in soups (why I don’t like most canned soups), so I used the boneless/skinless breasts. Makes a huge difference.

 

Pandas love chicken noodle soup.

I’m brainstorming ideas for a recipe this week, I’m thinking of baking something, maybe a dessert. I’m not sure what I want to tackle yet. Anyone have any suggestions? It’ll likely happen tomorrow since it’s my day off and I can actually get some daylight cooking photos, hooray!!

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T.G.I.The Weekend.

So I actually wrote half of this yesterday, but never finished it…so here’s to some weekend blogging….

Finally. The week is over. What a week it has been…I won’t miss it one bit.

For most of the summer I’ve been obsessed with iced coffee, but this morning I had a bit of a brisk walk to the metro and my office has been even chillier than usual, so I opted for a nice cup of hot tea. I think part of me just wants to believe that Fall is closer than it actually is, but that’s okay.

Fall in a mug

That’s my trusty work mug. I love it. I bought it in Atlanta while I was on a work trip. While we were there, we went on a tour of the CNN studio. Ever since it has been my “work mug” and has even come to my new job. It makes me miss traveling for my old job, we had a lot of fun on those trips and we’d always manage to find a really good steak, mmm! (I skipped breakfast, can you tell?)

This past week hasn’t been all bad really. Last weekend was fantastic. My best friend, Jess, was in town from Colorado again…well technically she was in Williamsburg with her parents, but they invited me down for the weekend and I was more than happy to go. It had been years since I spent a weekend with the Lunsfords and her parents are amazing. Plus they’re all really into history too, so they’re my people 🙂

We went to Fort Monroe down in Hampton on Saturday afternoon. I had never been there before and really didn’t know anything about it, but they had all been there and thought I should check it out. It was beautiful! It’s a fort right along the Chesapeake Bay that was built in 1819 and used during the Civil War. It became a safe-haven for slaves during the war because slaves would escape from Virginia and go to the fort and the soldiers at the fort wouldn’t return the slaves to their owners in Virginia since Virginia was a foreign country to them. I thought that was really cool. Also, after the war, Jefferson Davis was held prisoner at Fort Monroe for about 2 years. The exhibit they had on Jefferson Davis was really interesting too (they hung a giant American flag in his room!) I could’ve stayed there all day. The area was gorgeous, there were plenty of picturesque buildings, an old lighthouse, and everything was right by the water. I didn’t take as many pictures as I would’ve liked, but I can definitely see myself going back and spending more time there.

Jefferson Davis' Cell

Then we went to a Norfolk Tides game and ate some good ballpark food and drank some beer…made for a pretty great evening. It was a great weekend with the Lunsfords and reminded me a lot of high school (minus the beer).

The other highlight of my week was meeting up for dinner with my friend Harry. He left for Somalia today for the next year and I’m so glad I got to spend a little time with him before he took off. I’m so excited for the adventure he’s going on (working at a school there) and I can’t wait to hear all about it, but I’ll definitely miss him being here. Harry is one of those people who I know I will have fun with no matter what we do. I talked to him some about blogging and I hope he’ll start one while he’s there, it’d be a great way to keep up with what he’s doing over there. Good luck buddy!!

Harry and me

Other than that, I spent most of the week being stressed out about work and not feeling very well…not the ideal way to spend my last week of “summer vacation.” Not that I had any kind of vacation. Classes start next week though, and I’m pretty excited about them, I think it’s going to be a great last semester!

Well, time to get some work done and get ready for dinner, it’s Restaurant Week in Alexandria! I’ll leave you with a picture of the “art” Mike created with our purchases from the farmer’s market the other day.

The pepper eyebrows are my favorite!

Have a great weekend!!

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Another muggy day in the district…

It’s humid as can be outside (as usual), and just when I’m about to get off work to go home and jump in the pool, the clouds roll in and spoil my plans. I swear I’m gonna get to the pool one of these days. Maybe I’ll start working on my new project instead (mwahaha) just kidding, not at all close to evil. It’s more domestic stuff…who knew, right Gretch?

As mad as the storm is making me, except not really because I love a good thunderstorm, this video just made my day, so I’ll leave you with it:

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Oh Virginia weather

It is crazy hot outside today. Luckily I got to spend my Saturday indoors organizing files! Hooray!

I can’t complain about making a little extra cash though! Anyways, off to Harrisonburg for the rest of the weekend. So I leave you with a nice little comic from Natalie Dee:

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