Monday, June 29, 2009

Tacos y Margaritas

It has recently been brought to my attention that I talk about food a lot. Okay, so maybe I do. I can't help it! I love to eat, and cooking helps me to eat things I actually enjoy. It's become a really fun hobby for me! I catch myself thinking about different things I could make or interesting combinations of foods I could try. Right now, I'm mostly a recipe person...but one day, I hope I can venture out into the world of the unknown and develop my own dishes. One day. I'm still working on the basics.

I think one of the reasons I am really into cooking (and eating!) lately has a lot to do with my personality. When I really get into something, I really get into it. I've always been like this, and I probably always will be. It goes hand in hand with a smaller part of me that, when I need something, screams at me that I need it right this second! That part is a little easier to keep under control...and being really into some things usually isn't a bad thing. Right now I'm really into cooking, but I'm also really into working out and staying in shape. Sometimes, I get really into writing (e.g. the existence of this blog), doing crafty things, reading, or trying something else random and new. So, it's a balance.

But anyway, food. I'm really into food right now, and I love food pretty indiscriminately. I'm not super picky, with the exception of a few things I just really don't like and won't eat (mushrooms and asparagus...ew). But if I had to write an ode to my most favorite kind of food, it would certainly be to Mexican food. There is just something about the combination of meat, tomato salsa, beans, lettuce, and cheese that I am absolutely wild for. In that vein, I made tacos for dinner last night. There has never been an easier assortment of things that you can throw together, wrap up, and have turn out SO deliciously. Tacos certainly always get a thumbs up.

And of course, in keeping with the Mexican theme, it was very important to have margaritas to accompany our meal. I mean, was there ever even a question?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cook Yourself Thin

So, it's quiet typing time because B is currently sleeping. He has been home for about a week and has another week left of his internship for school, and is so exhausted from the work schedule. But, he is working kind of close to my house, and one of my favorite normal couple things we've gotten to do is meeting up for lunch on his breaks. Usually, he comes over to my house and I feed him leftovers. We had a lot of leftovers from the sisters' graduation party, but yesterday I realized there was nothing in the fridge for me to feed him.

My mom really wanted the Cook Yourself Thin cookbook for Mother's Day last month. It's based on a show on Lifetime about altering meals you typically make that are super bad for you and making them somewhat healthy. I looked everywhere for this freakin' book, and it was nowhere to be found in the Baltimore area! It was incredibly frustrating. But anyway, my sister ended up ordering it on Amazon, and we eventually got it...although a couple weeks after Mother's Day. Since we went to all that trouble, I decided to test out some of the recipes on B during his lunch break; I settled on this recipe for Buffalo Chicken with Caesar Salad (because their salad didn't sound too appetizing to me) and this Peach Crisp.

The Buffalo Chicken turned out okay; it was definitely passable in the salad. It just didn't have all that much taste. I think it definitely needs to be marinated for longer than ten minutes in order to have the spiciness that buffalo chicken should. The peach crisp was soooo good with vanilla ice cream. It's one of those desserts that is perfect for a hot summer day. I know I was just blogging about how I don't really care for baked fruits, but this is definitely an exception.

B told me both dishes were really good, but he compliments everything I make (Secretly, I think he is just thrilled to have someone to cook for him). After he got off work, we went up to Aberdeen to see the Ironbirds game and met up with a friend of his. It is things like this I really like when he's home, just getting to spend time together and fall into some semblance of normal routine. Speaking of routines...I think this incessant yawning means bedtime!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My favorite people all together

Yesterday, we took my three cousins to the promenade in Havre de Grace to play on the playground, see the baby ducks, and get ice cream. The getting ice cream part was pretty disasterous, because it was almost 90 degrees outside and it was melting all over everything. That, and Rosie thought she would love to have a Key Lime smoothie, which my mom tried to talk her out of because she obviously wouldn't like it. And what do you know? She didn't! I feel like at some point in childhood, you learn that lesson. It might be exciting to branch out and try something new, but usually good old chocolate or vanilla will do just fine. Luckily, she has nice cousins who share their ice cream with her.

Aren't their outfits cute? They were 7 dollars at Wal*Mart! Ellie and Rosie won't be here for the 4th of July, as they will be back in Louisville, so they got to wear their patriotic outfits for our trip to the park.

Later that night, I got to see all of my favorite people in ONE place. B and I met up with my friends at Bahama Breeze in Towson, which lately is our favorite restaurant. It is SO good. Last time we went with B's mom, I got salmon with a mango cream salsa and garlic mashed potatoes. This time, I got chicken tortilla soup and a crispy chicken salad with roasted corn salsa and ranch dressing. One of the cool things about Bahama Breeze is their "lighter portion" option, which is cheaper and still definitely enough food to not go hungry. Everything I've ever gotten there has been so delicious.

Since I've graduated college, it's much harder to see my friends. I was so used to people being in my apartment, or just being able to walk down the hill and hang out while studying or just doing nothing at all. It's definitely the number one thing I miss about college and living on campus. But, now that I have graduated, I definitely value the time I get with my friends so much more than I used to. This was even more special because B is in town, and it's even rarer I get to spend time all of my favorite people together. It was so fun :) After dinner, B and I went home to try to recreate a dessert I shared with Amber at the ESPN Zone for Joella's birthday that I have been lusting after since.

B's reaction: "You should blog about this. This is the best thing you've ever cooked."

So, I love baking. I've made B a ton of stuff from scratch. With him being far away and without home-cooked food the majority of the time, I've sent various care packages with baked goods pretty regularly since we started dating. I also will usually have something ready when he gets home after being away, and sometimes again when he leaves to take with him. An entire year of homemade goodies. But this? This is the best thing I have ever cooked. A cookie on the bottom (from the prepared dough you buy at the grocery store, no less), some vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and whipped cream. The best thing I have ever cooked, he says.

It's okay, I'm not offended. It was pretty darn good.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wallet-sized Photos

For the past month or so, B has been asking me for a picture to put in his wallet. (He's probably been asking because I always say "Oh, where's the picture of your cute girlfriend?" every time he opens his wallet, but that's besides the point.) He wanted one of my senior pictures from high school, but I thought that was strange because I don't really even look like the person in those pictures anymore. I wanted to just print out a wallet sized picture of the two of us, but he wanted a picture of just me. I was looking through some old pictures the other day and pulled out this gem. For some reason, he turned this one down as well. I can't imagine why! I'm a huge fan of my cherry headband and the slip-on Keds (They went with everything!).

I actually remember the day my mom took me and my two younger sisters to get these pictures taken in our matching cherry Gymboree outfits. I'm sure it would be just a mundane memory in my mind, but the exception to this story is that it happened to be an occasion during which I threw an epic temper tantrum. My friend Amanda was over playing before our portrait appointment, and it was a relatively nice day outside. Because of this, Amanda was wearing shorts. When it was time for my sisters and I to get dressed, I was NOT happy at all about the fact that I had to wear pants and my friend was wearing shorts. Obviously, shorts were far superior. This was probably in addition to the fact that I had to wear basically the same outfit as both of my sisters, when I was SO much older and more mature than they were.

I wonder if this was around the same time that my mom let my dad cut my bangs instead of taking me to get a proper haircut. As the story goes, my dad decided that he was perfectly capable of just trimming my bangs straight across. How hard could it be, really? But when he thought he was done, he looked at me to admire his work and realized that one side was slightly longer than the other. So, of course, he trimmed a little bit off of that side of my bangs. But, oops, now that side was a little bit shorter than the other. And so on and so forth until my bangs were only about one inch long. I'm pretty sure my dad stayed away from styling my hair from that point forward. I couldn't find any pictures of that particular period of my childhood, but I think that's probably for the best.

It's funny the memories that a single picture can bring up after so much time. But, I suppose I will have to keep trying to find B a picture of me to keep in his wallet, since this wasn't exactly what he had in mind.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's a full house

So, things in my house are a bit insane these days. This weekend is my sisters' combined graduation party, so there are people in every bedroom, and then some. My sister and cousin shared my bed last night, and I slept in the usual location on my couch bed (with the dog).

As a result of this insanity and the graduation party, there is a moon bounce in my backyard. A bit absurd, if you ask me, but it gave me and Zoë something to do yesterday. Although, jumping for an hour on a moon bounce is probably the equivalent of running 5 miles. Zoë seemed unfazed, but I was exhausted after that.

I have lots to do today, so I'll leave you with this video of Zoë jumping on the moon bounce and singing "First grade, first grade" from her kindergarten graduation.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Earring Holders!

So, I was brainstorming one night last December for something cute and easy I could make for a couple of my close friends for Christmas. I was looking around my room, trying to think of something that would actually be useful. Now, I love picture frames; I really do. But I have about nine billion! I often have to stop myself from creating or purchasing yet another picture frame for my room (especially at Kohl's- they have super cute ones!). For this reason, I really didn't want to make my friends more frames. I was looking at my mess of a jewelry box, and that's when it hit me!

Using the wooden picture frames they sell at Michael's, along with some basic modeling wire (also from Michael's), I made these earring holders! I know my earrings all end up clumped together in my jewelry box, in random drawers...all over the place. I just attached the wire to the back of the frame with some tacky glue (although now I think hot glue may have been the way to go) after painting them appropriately, and VOILA! I even finally got around to giving Kristi hers (albeit a, several...months after Christmas).

Last night, I finally got around to finishing up my own! I was silly and used my brilliant idea, made a couple and gave them to my friends, and then let my own sit around for a very long time before finishing it up. I can't wait for it to dry so I can actually start using it.

If there is one thing that I walked away from my sorority with, it is craftiness. (Oh, and super awesome amazing friends, but that goes without saying! They even need more adjectives and superlatives than those!) I've heard the crafty chaos that occurs around Big/Little time and Initiation as the "Phi Mu Sweatshop." As a Big, you certainly learn the art of staying up until the wee hours of the morning painting wooden objects (or even as a Little, such as in the case of mine!)

We always expected that the things that we learned in college would be applicable in the real world, right? Well, this is just one of those special times.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A dinner fit for a king! (or just my boyfriend)

One of the reasons I super looove summertime is because of...fruit! Sure, beaches are nice and it's fun to wear sundresses and I do like the sunshine, but I love the season of fresh fruit best of all. I love sitting outside eating watermelon and strawberries and grapes and...the list goes on. My signature fruit salad involves quartered strawberries and halved red grapes. That's it. It is delicious in its simplicity.

Now, I'm not really one for using fruit in baking. Dessert foods are meant to be chocolately and creamy and not have any semblance of healthiness in the form of fruit or otherwise. However, B is a big fan of cherry desserts and since he was coming home from Seattle after living out of a hotel and eating fast food for almost a month, I figured I could make a bit of a sacrifice and cook up some cherries in a dessert (despite my better judgment). But I couldn't just make dessert! I decided to put together dinner for his arrival home. I made garlic bread, a caesar salad, blackened chicken alfredo, and a cherry strueusel pie.

B's flight was delayed in Chicago (the pilots were MIA en route from Toronto), so we didn't end up eating until around 10. But it was delicious regardless. While B was driving home from the airport, I set the table (complete with Spongebob napkins) and finished up dinner right when he got here (I will spare you my jumping up and down excitement to see him that made him call me a 'jumping bean').

I used this recipe from Cooking Light for the alfredo sauce, and it turned out really well! I will probably never live down buying a 10 dollar hunk of cheese from my family (Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is expensive!), so while I wouldn't make this dinner all the time because that would be expensive, I would definitely make it again! Next time I might try substituting on the cheese front and see if I can't come up with something a little more budget-friendly but just as good.

I served the alfredo with blackened chicken, which I made just using a spice rub and browning in a cast iron skillet for a minute on each side before throwing it in the oven until it was cooked through. It was a perfect spicy compliment to the sauce.

For dessert, I adapted this recipe from Bon Appétit for Sour-Cherry Streusel Pie and baked it in an 11x7 dish (I don't really like making pies, and cooking it in a rectangle made it less like a pie and more like a crisp. So I'm weird, whatever). I just used prepared pastry for the crust and doubled the topping because streusel is delicious! I think B really liked it, as he had a scoop with vanilla ice cream after dinner and again today on his lunch break from work. I'm still not a huge fan of baked fruits, but it was pretty decent, if I do say so myself.

B and I were both stuffed after dinner, so I think it was very successful and I did my girlfriendly duties for the day (or maybe even a couple days). It is so nice to have him home. I do love spending time in the kitchen, but I've had my fill for a bit. Tonight I think we're just going out for cheesesteaks. There is room for trashy food in any diet. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We're artists!

Amber and I were artists today, and by artists, I mean the way you can say that word real obnoxiously in fake French. ArtEEsts! Just like all of the women who insist on calling Target, TarJAY; it makes it much more classy. Anyway, Amber came up to see me, and we enjoyed some Noodles and Co. before heading over to Amazing Glaze to paint pottery.

If you've never been to Amazing Glaze, I strongly encourage you to go! Because really, who doesn't like to paint? You pick out a plain piece of pottery, paint it up, and they burn it in a kiln for you to make the paint permanent and much more vibrant and shiny than in these pictures. Amber painted a dish for paper clips for her desk and a super cute frame for a picture of her and her boyfriend. I painted a little dish...for random stuff, in my room, somewhere.

Okay, so it was cute and I'm sure I can find a use for it! Everyone needs little dishes. I think. I'm sure once I get to take it home, I won't be able to remember how I ever lived without it.

After painting pottery, we made a trip to Waffle House (Yeah, so we ate twice in the course of this post, if you were keeping track. Big deal). Hopefully everyone is cultured enough to know the value of Waffle House so I don't have to explain the appeal of that part of our day. All in all, it was a very successful day.

So now it's Monday night (but really Tuesday), and I only have two more morning wake-ups until B is home! (I say morning because I might actually wake up more than just twice. I like naps.) So, off to bed so it gets here faster!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hot Fudge Failcake

I was sitting around on Saturday night with nothing to do when I was stricken with a chocolate craving of the worst kind. You know the type- where you literally need to have something chocolately and delicious right. that. second. I was feeling too lazy to make a trip to the grocery store, so I raided the pantries. I had come across this recipe at My Wooden Spoon while Stumbling one night, and just happened to have the ingredients to whip it up. A cake that separates into layers of cake and chocolate fudge? Count me in.

It seemed like the perfect solution to my vicious craving! Unfortunately, once I had mixed up all the ingredients and thrown that sucker in the oven, I realized I was completely ice cream-less. Oh, sure, I could have just sucked it up and enjoyed the cake with a tall glass of milk…but alas, once I had the vision of chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in my head, like many things I dream up, it just would not go away. So, I jumped in the car with exactly 30 minutes until the cake needed to be taken out to hunt down some vanilla ice cream (My sister was home, so it’s not like this is the set up for a story involving my house going up in a fiery inferno while I was gone. The search for ice cream was a bit drama filled, but that’s a different story for a different day).


I got back in the nick of time to pull the cake out of the oven, but for some reason it had turned out super watery. So, cursing and telling myself that I should have just picked up the break apart chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store and saved myself all this trouble, I popped the cake back in the oven for an extra ten minutes. The wateriness was a little better, but all in all, this hot fudge cake didn't live up to the very high expectations I had for it. I'll just have to find something better for next time such an urgent chocolate craving strikes.

cake and ice cream

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fearless Tour

Now, don’t laugh, but I have such an affinity for Taylor Swift. I loved her after her first album came out, when I could listen to her repeat for hours. When I saw her last summer at Nissan Pavillion opening for Rascal Flatts, I loved her even more. Amazing company and her performance made her concert tonight at Merriweather so awesome.


Besides the fact that it was an awesome concert, it was so good to hang out with so many of my closest friends, many of whom I don’t get a chance to see all that often. The atmosphere of a country concert is one of my favorite things, and I was thrilled to actually have a vehicle for tailgating. Amber often playfully recounts “trunkgating” out of my Ford Focus before Taylor Swift last year. But my truck again proves its usefulness. :)


Now I have "Fearless" stuck in my head, but I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Things I am grateful for.

Is it totally lame to use this blog post to gush about how freakin' lucky I am?

I have a family that supports me no matter what I do. They support my decisions, even when I decide I want to be a real estate agent. Oh wait, no, a personal trainer. A web designer. A pilot (okay, this one has actually stuck). A PR specialist. And now, finally, a teacher. And they help me to reach my goals no matter how out of reach they may seem. Plus, they feed me and let me live at home, being 23 and unemployed, and even if I am a little bitter, I know I’ll be forever grateful. Once I get out of here (just kidding).

I have a boyfriend who makes me laugh every day. At the risk of sounding sappy, he really allows me to be 100% myself and loves me for exactly who I am. And, for some strange reason, he thinks I’m funny and laughs at my lame jokes. And that, my friends, takes a special kind of person. Believe me, I would know.

I have the most wonderful friends, who have seen me at my best and at my very, very worst, and have stuck beside me regardless. In each of them, I see something I admire and aspire to. I am surrounded by people who make me want to be better.

I have so much opportunity to make a change in the world, and I think becoming a teacher is really going to make me feel all the more grateful to be able to affect change. It’s what was missing in PR for me. I’ll pray that I can be the kind of teacher that inspired me when I was young to learn, and to learn all I could, and instilled in me a passion for discovery and knowing.

Sometimes I feel discouraged by the fact that I am a year out of college, and seemingly no closer to my dream job than I started. But it’s thoughts like these that bring me back to reality, and show me just how good things are.

Maybe my sappiness will help you to think about all of the reasons you're so very lucky, too.

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