Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rosemary Gin & Tonic

Right after Austin and I graduated, we moved out to Washington DC to "further our careers."  I guess we probably did accomplish what we set out to do, but the entire time that we lived there, I don't think we ever felt like we fit in.

We should have known that we wouldn't.  The signs were definitely there.

When we were looking for an apartment, we found one that we really liked (the one that we ended up renting for the first 13 months), and the property manager's website had a quiz to see which of their many buildings would suit your lifestyle the best.  
The quiz asked questions like, "What do you like to do on Friday nights after a long week at the office?"  The answer choices were, "Hit the clubs and dance all night," "Have a G&T with my bros," and ""Unwind on the couch with a rental and a beer."  -- Just to give you an idea of what we were dealing with.  It never once asked if you enjoyed being outside or listening to the sounds of birds chirping.  So, after Austin and I finished the survey with our most truthful answers, the results popped up!  They told us that we should look into renting a single-family home from an independent lessor.  

An online survey for a rental property literally told us, you're not going to fit in at any of our properties!  Yeah sure, it was accurate, but still, you'd think they'd want to rent their units.  
We defied them anyway and rented an 800 square foot apartment on the 5th floor of the 12 story building.  We never met any of our neighbors.  The concierge, Wilhelmina, hated us (until we brought her cupcakes).  And even though we never really fit in in our building or the city in general, I did learn to appreciate a good G&T (without "my bros").

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pistachio Pesto Fettuccine

I did my first foot race yesterday.  Actually this was the first race (of any kind) I've done since freshman year of high school when I was on the swim team.  I forgot how people cheering could actually get you pumped for something.  Wouldn't it be nice if people were always cheering you on?  Like when you're grinding your way through  a tough project at work, or when you're having a hard time getting out of bed to make it to the gym?  I guess it would probably lose it's mystique if that were the case.
But then again, if every day of your life was like game day or race day, that would give you an excuse to carbo-load all the time.

Austin and I didn't carbo-load before the 10k yesterday, unless you count eating chocolate chip cookies as carbo-loading.  Maybe if we had, I wouldn't have been so scared that I was going to pass out right after the finish line.  I heard that 125 people had to be assisted by the paramedics at some point during the race (mostly due to the heat) - I really didn't want to be one of those people.
Next time, I'll eat this before I go.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Project 365: Week 21

May 20 | Not a super bright one, but a rainbow to start out the week nonetheless.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Watermelon Agave Julep

What do you have planned for this weekend?  I hope you have Monday off.  If you're not traveling, I hope you're at last planning on to sit outside (maybe on a beach...ok, poolside), drink a cocktail, eat watermelon.  Relax.  Three-day weekends are for relaxing.  Or escaping.  You choose.

Since I'm lazy, I like to accomplish as many tasks as I can at once.  So naturally, I put my watermelon in my cocktail.
On Monday, Austin and I are racing in the Bolder Boulder 10k.  It's the first foot race we've ever done and I'm nervous.  I was feeling positive about it until last weekend when I got sick.  Now I'm nervous.  But I paid my $50, so I'm going to go run 6.2 miles Monday morning, and afterwards, I've got a date with a cocktail at a poolside barbeque.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I decided to make a new resolution.  I know it's not January 1st and it is not the season to be getting all motivated, but I'm doing it anyway.  Here goes: I resolve to do the things I want to do more often.

That wasn't too hard.  Doesn't seem like it should be very difficult to accomplish either, but for whatever reason, I have a lot of guilt associated with doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.  It's part of the reason that I keep myself on track, posting 3-4 times a week with new recipes and pictures (which I like), but it's also part of the reason that every time I sit down on the porch after work and read my book, I feel like I can't fully enjoy it (which I don't like).
Luckily for me, the daylight hours are extending which makes it feel like there are more hours in the day.  More time to do all of the things that I need to do AND all of the things I want to do.

I read this post today by Joy the Baker, and it really inspired me to take some time, go out and get some inspiration.  I've probably always known that you need time away from your passions (baking, blogging, etc.) so that you can come back to them more alive and energized, but sometimes I guess I forget what I've always known.
And them sometimes your two worlds collide.  What you need to do IS what you want to do.  There's no struggle.  You're happy while you do it, it all flows so seamlessly, everything just works.  For me, making bread epitomizes that feeling.  I have never felt more successful in the kitchen than when I pull a freshly baked loaf of bread out of the oven that I kneaded with my own hands.  It's not just the finished product that gives me so much joy though, it's the entire process.  It feels self-indulgent, but then I get to take pictures, write about it, and share it with you!

Of course, I get to eat it too.
Oh man, this bread in particular brought a smile to my face!  When you cut into it, the cinnamon sugar swirl oozes out and any that has made its way to the bottom of the pan while cooking has caramelized, making a kind of double crust.  Steam wafts up to the ceiling.  The bread is light and fluffy.  No big air pockets.  It doesn't sink in the center.  In a word, it's satisfying.  I highly suggest you try it out for yourself.
So while there are days when your wants and your needs align, there are other days when you need to get out for a "solo bike ride" or a hike or maybe just a walk around your town.  Today is one of those days for my, so while I'm out on my hike, you enjoy this bread :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Raspberry Smoothie

I had to leave work early today because I'm sick.  We humans are pretty good at blocking out unpleasant memories and because of that, every time I get sick, it feels worse than ever before.

Have you noticed how when you're sick, everyone wants to give you advice?  It's nice really, just an observation.  You should take this medicine, not that medicine.  Eat this, not that.  Exercise, no wait rest.  Take as much vitamin C as you can get in you, actually more than the daily dose won't do anything.  It's confusing.  I don't think there's any right or wrong really.
All I know is that I came home from work and I slept for about 8 hours.  I ate chicken noodle soup and drank a Strawberry C Monster.  The Dingo was pretty sure I came home early so I could play with her longer, so she was pretty disappointed when she kept pushing on me but got no reaction.

My only 2 pieces of advice for you if you get sick:
1.  Watch something stupid (like Bridezillas).  That way you won't be tempted to stay awake to find out how the show ends.
2.  Drink smoothies.
I hope that works out for you (and me).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Project 365: Week 20

May 13 | Really pretty sunset after I got home from yoga with a friend, Monday night.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chicken Carbonaro

Today is a great day!  It's a great day because Austin is finally out of my kitchen.  I will have space again.  I won't always be surrounded by paleo, weighed-out portions of carbs, fats, and proteins.  Yesterday was Austin's last day on the Zone Diet!

Today, he woke up and ate cookies for breakfast, put sugar and cream in his coffee, and smiled.  There was a lot of smiling.  There was no measuring.  Today, we are both happy!

His challenge lasted 31 days and he successfully completed (makes it sound like a competition...yeah, that's accurate) all 93 meals and all 62 snacks.  In the meantime, I gained 5 pounds and my dinners for the past month have usually consisted of Cheez-Its and muffins.
About halfway into the month, most of our conversations started revolving around: "what do you miss the most?" and, "what are you going to eat first?!"  At first, he couldn't really get past wanting chocolate cake.  Then he started thinking about meals too, not just dessert.  He requested this Chicken Carbonaro, but since he hasn't had dairy for a whole month and he was already lactose-intolerant (kinda) before, I talked him out of it.  But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have it!

If I had been torturing myself for the past month, I would probably choose this meal too.  In fact, when I go home to visit and my parents ask me what I want for dinner, it is almost always Chicken Carbonaro.
This Carbonaro is not at all like the traditional Italian dish.  It is loaded with chicken, bacon and green peppers.  There's no egg, but we definitely kept the cream and parmesan cheese in there.  I used to think this was really hard to make because we did not have it that often, then when I tried to make it myself for the first time, I realized that really there was no excuse for why we didn't eat it every night.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Banana Nut Muffins

Growing up, we lived about 20 minutes away from my grandparents house so we saw them pretty often.  Usually we would go over there and watch the IU (Indiana University) basketball games, make laps on the big wheels up and down the (really long) driveway, and pester my grandpa for more money to buy candy at the gas station down the way.
In all of those times visiting my grandma and poppop, I only remember eating a handful of things: Chicken and Noodles (loved it), Apple Pie (each time she made it, it was the better than the last), "Yay Big Meat" (my grandma would describe how big the beef was by holding her fingers about 2 inches apart and say it was "yay big" - hated it), Pumpkin Cookies (again, loved them), and Banana Bread.

Her banana bread was so light and moist and when you bake it, the top turns this dark espresso brown color which is magically sweeter than the rest of the bread.  There is a reason that I loved it then and I still do now.
To make her perfect banana bread into muffins, I just tweaked a few things (namely the baking time, amount of batter, and the amount of pecans).  The muffins are still sweet and not dense at all AND now they're portable.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Project 365: Week 19

May 6 | I got my cupcake decorating kit from!  Be prepared to see some cupcakes "baked pretty" very soon!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rosemary Loaf Cake

Somedays you go into the kitchen with your best intentions.  You have an idea and a recipe.  You have the ingredients necessary.  Despite all of your efforts and good planning, something isn't right.  
Yesterday, after a trip to the grocery store, I spent about 4 hours trying to make macarons with the aim to pack them up and send them to my mom for Mother's Day.  Instead, I spent 4 hours and got little, thin wafers that, quite honestly, didn't even taste that great.  They ended up in the trash and now I'll have to send a lame card or order flowers or something.  

Sure, cookies that don't turn out perfectly is not that big of a deal in the scheme of things, but it did have the ability to ruin my day.  Because I didn't get those treats in the mail by this morning, my mom isn't getting anything special this Sunday, and what I would really like to do is have a meal with her.  My sister could probably make dinner, I could make dessert.  My other sister could take a nap on the couch ;)
So do me a favor, if you are lucky enough to spend this Sunday at the same table as your mom, make her something delicious.  Appreciate it.  I recommend this Rosemary Loaf Cake.  

Sorry about the macarons, Mom...maybe this cake will be arriving at your house soon!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thick 'n Creamy Potato Soup

Have we moved on from soup?  Are we only eating fresh, raw salads and berry pies from here until October?  We're only going to eat alfresco and have garden parties and wear big hats that block the sun?  We'll drink iced tea and lick ice cream out of waffle cones.

That all sounds really nice and I like a fresh blueberry pie more than most, but unfortunately summer fruits and veggies aren't quite in season (at least not here in Colorado where we had 10 inches of snow last week).  So I think we should embrace hearty, soul-warming soups for a little while longer.
Once we've packed up all of our winter clothes and put them in storage, we can officially start the diet of fresh greens followed by berries and ice cream.  Washing it all down with fresh-squeezed lemonade and cold beer.

Even then, there are always rainy days, right?  All I'm sayin' is give soup a chance!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Project 365: Week 18

April 29 | I really hope sinking my hands into warm, yeasty dough is the only therapy I'll ever need.  I don't think I've ever felt more relaxed.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Red Apple

Yesterday, I had to go in early for our board of directors' meeting.  It was fine, but you know, early.  I like sleep.

When I walked out to my car after work, I noticed a little paper flapping in the wind tucked under my windshield wiper.  The woman wrote the ticket a whole 4 minutes before I got there!  Yes, my meter had expired - that does not however mean that I was happy about it.
The rest of the afternoon I spent trying to get myself out of a funk.  I thought yoga would help, but when I got there, I ended up having to teach the class instead of take it. Again fine, but didn't really help my mood.
I'm not advocating alcoholism or anything, but sometimes when you've tried everything else (or at least a couple things), a cocktail might just be the solution you're looking for.  Plus, the weekend is quickly approaching and it's practically begging you to sit outside with a cocktail and unwind.  Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Choconana Cupcakes

When I was little, I never did any of the classic pranks that other kids were getting in trouble for.  I never went TP'ing.  I never "forked" someone's yard.  I never even prank called innocent listings in the phone book.  I generally didn't like to get in trouble which meant I only did things I knew I could get away with ;)

So, I remember when May Day came around each year and you were instructed to doorbell ditch and leave flowers on your unsuspecting neighbor's stoop, I was more excited than I probably should have been.

Do kids still do that?  I think maybe it's a Midwestern thing? - Austin's never heard of it.
If this is a tradition that's been lost, we should bring it back.  How excited would you be if you were surprised with flowers (even flowers made of tissue paper) on your doorstep?  In fact, why don't we start leaving more nice treats at our neighbors' door?  That'd be nice.  
It's up to you.  You can make these cupcakes and eat them all OR you can spread the love.

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