Monday, October 31, 2011

Chicken 'n Dumplin's

Happy Halloween!

Austin and I borrowed costumes from last year (because they were so good - not because we were lazy) and went 'costume climbing' at the gym on Tuesday.  Tonight we won't be doing anything fun because of work though - but I am trying to think of some fun "tricks" to teach in yoga tonight! 
When we were little we always dressed up as something really good (actually I think I was a witch almost every year) but then we had to cover up our costume with snowpants and our big winter coats because it was so cold.  This only got worse when we moved to Utah and kids just stopped trying altogether and 90% of them were "dressed up" as skiers or snowboarders. 

I thought the kiddos in DC would be luckier than we were, but then it snowed here on Saturday.  The snow didn't stick but it still gets me ready for winter. 

Even if you're one of those people who hates winter, there is at least one good thing about it: warm, heavy, satisfying meals.  These chicken 'n dumplin's are all of those things.  They're also easy!

These are so simple to make and the best part is that you'll only have one dish to clean when all is said and done.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shenandoah National Park

The weekend before last, we drove down to Shenandoah National Park to go bouldering, hike around, and do some leaf gazing.
The leaves had already changed for the most part, but it was still one of the prettiest places I have seen near DC.  I think we will have to plan a snowshoeing trip up there this winter.  Winter camping too?
As we were on our way out of the park...after I got pulled over for speeding through the park (she let me go with a warning - thanks park ranger!)...we stopped to do some yoga tricks!  Why not?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


It's another cool, rainy day in the nation's capitol today.  Considering that last week on a similar day, my umbrella flipped inside out and I had to wrestle with it on the stairs of the metro, I will be walking home in the rain without that thin veil of protection.  It's cool - I will just have mascara running down my cheeks and my wool sweater will smell like a wet dog.  But really.  It's fine.  You know why?  Because I have leftover chili just sitting in the fridge waiting to be reheated.  Waiting to be eaten in front of the TV (once I have changed into my pajamas).  So really, it's perfectly fine.  I'm even kind of looking forward to it. 
Unrelated topic: last night while I was making this Chili, I remembered these tea towels that I bought at a craft fair in Adams Morgan a few weeks ago!  Aren't they neat?  They are made by this woman from up in Philadelphia (Girls Can Tell) and she makes a ton of really awesome stuff.  Click here to see what she offers!

Anyway, you probably want some chili by now...

Recipe from Mom
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 lb. ground beef
~1 c. dried kidney beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 lg. can crushed tomatoes
chili powder
tobasco sauce
salt & pepper
1.  Soak your kidney beans in water overnight...or if you want your soup tonight and not tomorrow put the beans in a saucepan.  Cover with water and simmer until softened (still won't be as soft as canned).  About 1 hour.  Continue to add water so the beans are always covered.  If you don't have time for that either, you could buy canned kidney beans (1 can).

2.  Cut up your onion and garlic and throw it in the pot with your ground beef.  Cook until all of the meat is cooked thoroughly.

3.  Drain fat out of the meat/onion mixture.

4.  Add beans, tomatoes, sauce, and spices.  (Taste it and adjust the chili/tobasco as you like it)

5.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

That's it!  Pretty simple.  Not a lot of beans to please the picky eaters and the beans that are in there don't get mushy like canned beans.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Dumplings

Here it is.  Yet another apple + dough recipe.  Even though they all (apple crisp, apple pie and now apple dumplings) seem so similar...apples + cinnamon + sugar + flour...they are so different!  Each delicious in its own special way.  And this one's probably my favorite of them all. 

I remember when I was little and we would go over to my Grandma Flinn's house for dinner, my sisters and I always wanted to have apple dumplings!  For being one of my favorite things to eat of all time, you would've thought that I would have made them before now.  For some inexplicable reason, I didn't.  In fact, I waited so long before making these that I forgot what they were even.  It wasn't until I could smell them cooking in the oven that the taste came back into my mouth.  They didn't disappoint at all. 
These apple dumplings are the perfect balance of sweet and doughy.  The dumpling doesn't have any sugar in it, so all of the sweetness comes from the apples and the sauce.  If you have quite a few apples that you want to use up, you might want to double the recipe - I promise they won't go to waste.

New Address!

Hi everyone!...I just wanted to let you know that I have changed addresses.  You can now find me over here at posting all of the same stuff just with a different name.  Make sure you click on the "Follow" button on the right hand side and add the new blog to your feed. 

There will be a delicious new recipe up very soon too!...Also, I am going to be working on some renovations to the site's interface so if you have any suggestions please don't be shy!

Sorry for the inconvenience...I promise I won't be moving again anytime soon...enjoy this picture and forgive me :) 

Red River Gorge, KY

Last weekend, Austin and I headed off to Kentucky to finally get back outside and on some ropes!  I was starting to forget why I even liked climbing but once we got outside where it was quiet, away from any sounds of traffic, and the air was clean, it all came back to me.  
The weather was perfect, the rock was gorgeous (and hard), and the company was great.
These pictures were from a climb called "Too Many Puppies" which was on some of the prettiest rock I have ever seen.  Beautiful red sandstone with black veins swirling through it...not quite Navajo Sandstone, but I'll take it!
This trip inspired me to get outside even more, so we are off to Shenendoah National Park tomorrow for some hiking and bouldering, but mainly to see all the changing leaves.

Apple Pie

Were you wondering what to put in that delicious flaky crust you now have sitting in your fridge?  How do you feel about a classic?  Apple pie!  Warm, cinnamony, and always delicious.  In my opinion, it's even better the next morning for breakfast!  This is one of those recipes that I always thought was some Flinn family revelation.  A secret only for us.  It is so good, it had to be something special.  Nope.  It's in the checkered cookbook (Better Homes and Gardens) that every home is almost guaranteed to have on its shelf.  But a delicious recipe like this, has to be shared.

If you're lucky, it might just be the best apple pie you've ever had!

Pie Crust

It finally feels like fall here!  Actually, the past few days have felt a little more like winter, but I'll take it either way.  I am 100% ready to walk outside and not have my hair stick to my sweaty face.  I love fall.  Fall means sweet potatoes and pecan pie.  Fall also means the holidays are on their way, and you know what that means?  I get to go home!
Speaking of pie...I've never made it that much.  Maybe it's because up until a few days ago, I didn't have a rolling pin.  Maybe it's because I (still) don't have a pastry brush.  Maybe it's because I'd rather have cake.  Who's to say really?

Anyway, when I did make pie, I never made crust.  It seemed like a pain.  I'm not going to lie: it is kind of a pain, and the frozen pillsbury kind that you roll out tastes good anyway.  I don't blame you if you just use that.  BUT!  If you want to feel fancy, make this super simple pie crust!


Sorry for the long break between posts.  I have been working on some stuff over here and it hasn't left much time or energy to be cooking, let alone posting about it.  However!  This is one of the easiest meals you'll ever make so you (I) really have no excuse.  Also perfect because you can customize it to whatever you/your family likes to eat.  Let's be honest - you can customize it to whatever you have in the fridge.  You don't need a specific type of cheese, or a certain vegetable/meat.  Just throw in whatever you want and it will taste delicious!

Recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen
1 pie crust
2 c. +/- cheese
veggies, meat, herbs
3 eggs
1 c. milk
1.  Spread out crust in bottom of pie pan and prep ingredients.  Veggies can be raw or cooked.  (*Meat needs to be cooked before you put it in the quiche though*)
2.  Layer bottom with cheese.
3.  Add all of your toppings.  (Sorry, bad picture - it was all a little steamy still)
4.  Mix together eggs and milk.  Pour over top.
5.  Bake at 375° for ~45 minutes.  Knife test.

"Easy as Pie" Pie

Sometimes do you wonder where the phrase "easy as pie" came from?  Peeling and coring fruit, mixing, baking, checking to make sure the filling doesn't explode or flow over the crust onto the bottom of the oven and set the house on fire.  That doesn't sound that easy.  This pie is where that phrase came from.  This is easy.  Any way you slice it!  (Haha, pardon my pun!) 

An added bonus is that you can pretend that it's still summer.  Here in DC, we're not really having to stretch the imagination too far.  This is probably the easiest pie you will ever make and it tastes just like pure summer!  It's especially easy if you cheat on the crust like I did.  If you have a great crust recipe, make that one.  I'm sure it's better anyway.  Better yet, share the recipe with me.  You can make this pie in any flavor that pudding comes in and the hardest part is waiting for your pie to set in the fridge!

Vegetable Pizza

Happy Labor Day!  I've really grown to like Labor Day.  Before I always thought it was just a stupid holiday like Flag Day or Columbus Day, but now I really like it!  You know why?  It's the only holiday out there that's just for you.  For you, the hardworking, under-appreciated working man/woman.  So go out and celebrate it!  Enjoy the great outdoors, have a cookout, build a fire, and eat some of the last fresh, summer vegetables that you'll get until next year.
This recipe is very "midwestern."  Which is not mutually exclusive of "delicious."  Yes, it has mayonnaise.  Yes, it has ranch dressing.  Yes, it has unsophisticated yellow cheese.  It's not made with créme fraiche or a vinaigrette or some fancy cheese that comes from a goat.  This is an american dish for an american worker!

Irene's Brownies

We've been through a lot since last Tuesday.  First, there was the earthquake.  I'll admit for a split second I too thought that we were being attacked, but then I realized what it was.  I realized that everything was fine.  And I didn't feel the need to tell everyone in the world that I felt a shake (Yes, I realize the irony of this post because of course, I am doing exactly that.  Nonetheless...).

Then on Friday we had to make hurricane preparations.  Having never been in a hurricane before, I didn't really know what to expect.  I can now say that there was a bit of over-preparation in DC for Irene, but I gave in and filled my bathtub with water too.  I sat around all day Saturday watching the Weather Channel as they tried desperately to hold onto their spike in ratings for as long as possible.  When we got bored of that, we went up to the roof to really feel it.  You know what a hurricane feels like when your are at a safe distance inland?  Windy.

Uncle Don

This weekend, Austin and I went up to my aunt's house and visited with all of my family.  Unfortunately the reason for going up there was not a good one.  My uncle passed away a couple of weeks ago and his house and the weekend felt lacking because of it.  We had a nice service and and spent a lot of time reminiscing about all that Uncle Don taught us.  Most importantly for me personally, he taught me to love and appreciate nature.  It always felt like we were out in the wilderness at his house in the woods, and he really did start my passion for the outdoors.  I am so grateful for all of the wonderful memories and I will miss him always.

Banana Bread

I do this thing when I go to the store.  I buy bananas.  I have big plans to eat those bananas everyday and I think they are going to be so good and they're going to be so convenient.  Here's the thing.  I don't really like bananas that much.  And I will never even think about eating a banana that has a brown spot on it.

But have no fear, those brown bananas that sit on your counter are not destined for the trash.  In fact, those are the best bananas to cook with!  Wait until they are really overripe, and the flavors are more concentrated.  Then whip yourself up some delicious quick bread!

Peach Cobbler

I talked to my mom since my last post (of "my dad's macaroni and cheese") and I was politely informed that, "he's not the only one who makes that."  So anyway, today I thought I would share a recipe that I can credit to my mom.
I'm not saying that my dad never made it, but I did always remember watching my mom put it together and thinking it was magic how the peaches start on top and get to the bottom.  Still don't quite understand that one!

I guess we'll just call that one of life's little mysteries.  Don't look it up on your's ok to just not know.  I promise, it will all be ok.

You know what the best part of this recipe is?  It's mostly fruit.  You know what that means?  You could call it breakfast and I wouldn't judge you for it.  Warm it up and pour some milk over it call it hot cereal. Who could argue with that?  No one, that's who.

Macaroni and Cheese, Please!

Are you in the mood for comfort food too?  That's so cool that we can be twinners!

Sometimes you just need a big plate of carbs, right?  I have eaten this macaroni and cheese a thousand times and yet never made it myself.  For some reason, watching my dad make it, I always thought it was much more involved than it really is.

It really is a perfect weeknight dinner, especially when you are needing a little taste of home!

Catoctin Mountains

On Sunday, Austin and I went up into northern Maryland to the Catoctin Mountains State Park for a long day hike.  We have been a little afraid to hike here because so far it has paled in comparison to Utah, but we were pleasantly surprised by the trails through the park.
It was a nice 8.5 mile loop that had some really nice overlooks.  The best part was that it was about 10 degrees cooler than DC and most of the time the trail was far enough away from roads that you couldn't hear the traffic.  I'm sure it would be a beautiful place to visit again in the fall when all the leaves are changing too!
It's about an hour and a half outside of DC and completely worth the drive! - which is easy for me to say since I slept through the whole thing :)

Better than a Snack Pack (Cream Puffs)

I remember once when I was little, my parents left town and I got to stay with my friends down the street.  One night after dinner, Mrs. Sale brought out dessert.  Any dessert would have been good but this dessert was homemade vanilla pudding with whipped cream on top!  My sisters and I still haven't stopped talking about it.

So, it's a little surprising that today was the first day that I made some of my own.

...then I put that into some cream puffs - in short, I promise this will be better than a snack pack :)

The 2nd Installment (Safari)

The First Installment (Safari)

Here is the first sampling of pictures from Nairobi and all of the camps that we went to (Amboseli, Ol Pejeta, Ol Kinyei, and Olare Orok) - they are organized in that order, as best as I could remember.  I hope you enjoy the pictures even just a fraction as much as I enjoyed being there!

Apple Crisp

Tomorrow, I am going to New Jersey to meet my parents and sisters and then Sunday morning we are going on to Kenya for a safari!  I have been looking forward to this for a year and a half now still can't quite believe that it's here.

I think I have everything packed up and ready to go.  I'm sure I forgot something, but hopefully it's not too important.  

So, I apologize in advance for the posts that will not be coming your way for 2 weeks - but stay tuned because I promise it will be worth the wait!

But before I go, I wanted to give you something sweet :)


6-8 Apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 c. Water
1 stick Butter
1 c. Sugar
1 c. Flour
1 tsp. Cinnamon

1.  Place apples in 9x13" casserole.  Pour water over top and lightly salt.
2.  Melt butter.  Add sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Stir gently with a fork until crumbles form.
3.  Cover apples with crumble mixture.
4.  Bake at 350˚ for about 30 minutes.

*I make mine with extra crisp on top (since that's the best part anyway!), and it tends to take longer than 30 minutes to cook up (more like 45).

The Wild West

Remember how I told you I would post the rest of my pictures soon.  Well, I lied.  Working really gets in the way of everything else.
Yes, you read that right, I am now working - well for one more week, then I go on Safari!!!  I didn't want to get to too overwhelmed, you know :)  Yesterday, Austin and I spent the majority of the day in Target getting the last of the stuff that I need for Kenya.  You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find clothing that is not bright or white.
Anyway while I was at home, I went to Gage's graduation (Austin's brother) and his graduation party.  It was a pretty standard high school graduation, but it felt weird to see Gage finished with high school!  I first met him when he was only 12 years old and since I am the youngest in my family, I've never experienced that before :)
Other than that, I went for a walk on one of the trails by my house and took some pictures:
Then on Saturday afternoon Austin, his grandpa, his dad, my dad, and I went out to Echo Canyon to go shootin'!  I shot 5 pigeons this time and I got to fire a muzzle loader!
Other than it being too short of a weekend, it was pretty perfect :)

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