Awesome Weekend

Hi friends!

I know, I’ve been MIA again…it’s a sad trend. I’m sorry.
This weekend was so crazy I honestly didn’t get on a computer until today. I’m going to work on a bunch of posts for you guys, including Asian Day at school, a recipe and an instructional post.
This weekend was the third weekend in a row I got to hang out with my sister! It was so much fun.
Friday started out by going down to Chinatown to go to Sushi-Go-Round.
I’ve been here a few times before and I think the concept is pretty brilliant. It’s a bar that has a rotating belt of sushi in the middle going round and round until you choose what you want and you pick it up off the belt. Each plate is colored so that you know how much it is. At the end of your meal, your waitress simply picks up your stack of plates and adds it all up. Simple sushi. I love it.
OH! I didn’t tell you…my cousin, Austin, was here because he just graduated from high school! My sister and I gave him a weekend in DC and tickets to OAR for his graduation present. Congrats!!
Sadly, he didn’t try any sushi…
 Next, we walked around DC like we always seem to do when my sister is around.
Once we got tired of walking around, it was time for a cold drink…
Every Friday there is a free jazz concert in the Sculpture Garden, appropriately named Jazz in the Garden. The place gets packed and there is never any room left around the little pond, let alone on the grass.
The weather was great. The company was better. It was an amazing afternoon.
Afterwards, we headed to Rosa Mexicano where my camera and I were just not getting along. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Sangria pitchers we drank at the garden. But I ended up having ice cream for dinner (again, nothing to do with the drinks beforehand) and it was fantastic. Right now, they have an incredible Ice Cream Menu. I had the Sweet Avocado, Mexican Corn Truffle and Toasted Marshmallow. I could not even pick a favorite. They were all incredible in their own way. The avocado had a little bit of bitterness that was needed to distract you from the fact you were eating avocado ice cream. The corn truffle tasted like a fancy cookies and cream and the toasted marshmallow…well, you can imagine how good that one was.
It looks like they are having an ice cream cooking demo THIS SATURDAY! I think you should check it out.
Anyways, after I had ice cream for dinner we went home to rest up for the next day.
OAR!!!
Do you like our OAR-inspired jello shots? If you need jello shot advice, consult my sister. They were amazing.
OAR holds a very special place in my heart. I’ve been listening to them for about ten years now, and we’re really lucky to catch them live in the DC area because they are from Rockville! Saturday’s show was their last stop on the summer tour, so it was full of really old songs and some really great new songs, too.
A concert isn’t a concert without a good tailgate, and unfortunately, I only have a few pictures (none of which are food). I honestly can say that I can’t blame the drinks for this one. I blame Mr. Weatherman.
An hour or so into the tailgate, we found ourselves building this…
And then we saw this…
So, it poured. We got wet. We still had fun.
I had an amazing weekend with some of my favorite people and am in a slight depression because they are gone…
Come back!!

This little piggy went to…

L’Academie.

We met another pig today. This one was way younger smaller. Sorry vegans/vegetarians.

P.S. That’s Chef Brian. He graduated from L’Academie and has been teaching there for three years. He’s a pretty great teacher, but one thing that I really like about him is that he is also a great writer. He writes for Bethesda Magazine and other DC publications, so look him up if you’re into food writing!

Good Morning from Lake Anna

Not too bad, right?

Someone is making himself right at home.

We rented a house in Lake Anna to celebrate one of our friend’s birthdays. So far lots of eating and drinking has been going on…not so much swimming. Apparently there’s a nuclear plant around that makes half of the water as hot as a hot tub. It’s pretty weird/gross/wrong on so many levels.
If we come back with green hair, an extra toe or so and Reddick turns into a cat. Blame it on the water.
Have a great weekend!

Reddick’s New Life

Until yesterday, I felt a little bad for leaving Reddick alone all day. While he has graduated from being crated all day and has free reign of the living room, it still must suck being here alone all day. He’s been so good. Like, almost too good. I’m so surprised that he hasn’t completely destroyed something at this point. I won’t work him out in the morning because I really think that it just makes him crazy. We spend the afternoon at the park once I get home.

Anyways, I felt bad until yesterday because yesterday was my first Friday home with him and I got to see what he does all day. I’m crazy jealous.

I cleaned my cabinets, did laundry, vacuumed, moved furniture and the kid didn’t budge. If only we could all take day long naps…

Kitchen Tour

I finally started taking pictures! Without going too crazy (and looking like a complete creeper…remember, I’m also trying to make friends here) I snagged some pictures of our kitchens today.
Like I told you before, we start our mornings in lecture. We do this in the James Beard Classroom.

Every morning, recipes are written out for us to copy into our notebooks.

The rest of the day is spent in the Paladin Room.

Maybe next time I’ll remember to snag some pictures with all of us in action. Don’t you wish you had this kind of kitchen at home?! I’m seriously in heaven all day long…even if it’s 110 degree heaven.

Adirondack Love

Hi everyone! I’ve been a little lazy about posting. There’s something about the Adirondacks that just makes me want to tuck my computer and cell phone away and disconnect from everything. I’ve been home since Thursday night and while the weather hasn’t been great, it’s already been an amazing few days.
The first thing I did when I got home was to go and visit my new baby cousin! She is six weeks old and is the smallest little bundle of cuteness. For a little baby, she has so much personality (or it could easily be gas, I’ll go with personality). Her smile is contagious and I’m so happy to have another baby in the family!
 
Yesterday morning, Reddick and I woke up to run around the lake. It’s about a 4.25 mile run. We were able to squeeze it in before the rain came in (and for the record, the rain hasn’t stopped…). Once we were done with that we made our rounds and visited my grandmother, aunt and her pup and then eventually this little one…
I’m so excited to see my little Reido again. We’re going to have such a fun week.
This was Reid working on her serious face…
Last night was my other cousin’s graduation. You’ll meet the rest of my family in the next post! And instead of going out, my sister and I decided to bake these last night. YUM.

Blueberry Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Here is the story of the almost best vegan baked good I’ve ever made.

I was putting the ingredients together for this cake (adapted by the Recipe Hall of Fame Dessert Cookbook) and saw that I had the vegan substitutes in my fridge. I pulled out my almond milk and vegan butter sticks and went to work. This was going to be amazing.

It wasn’t until right as I was flipping the cake over that I realized the cake was not at all vegan, it had two eggs! Oops. So here is the recipe for another almost-vegan baked good.

Blueberry Pineapple Upside-Down Cake


Ingredients
1 8 oz. can chopped pineapple
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup butter (or Smart Balance sticks)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I only had unsalted peanuts, so that’s what I used)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Melt 1/3 cup butter in an iron skillet.
2. Sprinkle the brown sugar and the nuts over the butter.
3. Lay pineapple chunks and blueberries over the sugar mixture.
4. Cream 1/2 cup butter and sugar together.
5. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
6. Add the flour and milk, a little at a time.
7. Add vanilla and baking powder.
8. Pour the batter into the skillet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
9. Let cake stand for 10 minutes and flip on to serving platter.

The cake was amazing. It doesn’t surprise me with the amount of butter and sugar in it, but we can all splurge sometimes. Maybe next time I’ll try with an egg replacement to make it 100% vegan.

Learning to Love New Foods

A few weeks ago one of my friends asked for me to write a post about liking new foods. I am not a very picky eater at all. Growing up I was always ready (ok, forced) to try new things. I can’t thank my parents enough for forcing us to try different foods when we went on vacation. It was a great idea and something I highly recommend to avoid picky eaters in the future.
For those of you who are not open to eating everything you may be looking for a few ways to get some new flavors into your meals. But first, why do you not like these certain foods?
If you don’t like something is it because…
…you haven’t tried it?
…you tried it and didn’t like it?
…it made you sick?
…you just think it looks gross and looks like it tastes gross to?
 
If you haven’t tried it, try it! Seriously, what do you have to lose? If it’s a little scary for you, try it with something that you like already, but not one of your favorites. Sometimes if I mix a food with something that I love and it doesn’t turn out so great, it taints my favorite forever. I don’t want you to be adding more foods to your “do not eat” list, I want it to grow! Some simple things to try foods with are sauces: ketchup, ranch dressing, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, sour cream, plain yogurt etc. They have enough flavor that your new food won’t shock your taste buds but are simple enough to let enough flavor come through.
If you tried it, and didn’t like it, give it another shot. Was it too mushy? Was the flavor completely off? I think every food deserves at least two chances. If the food was baked before, try grilling it or (god forbid) frying it. If it doesn’t work the second time around, it is what it is.
If it made you sick, make your peace. For the longest time I couldn’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because one made me sick while taking medicine while I had the flu. It was awful. After a little practice, I slowly made peace with peanut butter and jelly because honestly, who wants to live without that? At this point, it’s mostly a mental thing. Is it weird to say to eat that food in a “happy place”? It makes sense to me. It really sucks when food makes us sick, but it’s usually a one time thing (if it’s food poisoning, allergies/intolerances are a different story) and we can go back to those foods.
If you think it looks gross…it might be, but that’s ok. In the office on Friday we bad a bag of melted chocolate toffee to share. Once broken up you can imagine what it might looked like…but it was still amazing. Some foods are just not pretty. Some consistencies suck (and so do their adjectives: mushy, moist, etc.). Polenta isn’t the most beautiful food in the world, and is usually a big yellow slab of mush, but it’s delicious. Throw some veggies and a good sauce on top and you won’t even know it’s down there. Cover up what you think is gross. Make it a sandwich or a wrap or even toss in some pasta or lettuce. The options are endless.
I hope you find these tips a little helpful. I completely understand though that there are some foods out there that are just not for you. For me it was olives, until I literally forced myself to like them and lemon jelly beans.
Challenge me! Tell me a food that you absolutely hate and see if I can come up with a solution. I need the practice! I have a success story to share with you on Monday!

Confessions to my Readers

I haven’t exactly posted much about what is going on in my head as far as the blog’s future goes, but I thought of a creative way to reveal these ideas to you. My life is changing and I want the blog to reflect the amount of excitement that’s going on in my life. I don’t have too much going on in my regular life right now (until things get crazy) so that’s why you’re seeing these kind of posts. There are some things I share with you and some things I don’t on the blog. I hope this posts helps us get to know each other a little better and keep your attention until school starts.
I’m just going to jump right in and reveal my little confessions to you:
  • My day to day life is not all that exciting. I don’t really think that blogging about my breakfast, lunch and dinner is all that entertaining. Now there are some blogs out there that I read every day that do just that. It’s not wrong, but I think my life is kind of regular most of the time. I eat a lot of Larabars and eggs. If I have a massive waffle with strawberries, bananas, whipped cream and nutella, I promise…I’ll show you.
  • I spend way too much money on froyo. I preach to you guys a lot about spending and saving money, and although I only go once a week, it still adds up. I should stop. Although I do make a rule for myself, if I spend over a certain amount, I’m not allowed to go back for a week.
  • I eat Pringles. MJW loves them and I always steel some when I put them on his plate.
  • I also eat Nutella right out of the jar. Don’t tell me you don’t. I know that you do.
  • Blogging about who to invite and picking our bridal party is therapeutic, unnecessary and completely stressful. I’m still on the fence.
  • I don’t like oats in a jar. I tried, but it’s not working for me. Sorryyy.
  • I want to blog about most details of the wedding but I will not talk about our budget. I will tell you how we are going to do everything we can to save money though.
  • I love sugar. I crave something sweet after every meal and usually it’s ice cream. I probably have a bowl every night. I don’t blog about it, but it’s 100% ok.
    • I’m slightly nervous as to what culinary school is going to do to my weight. We eat a four course meal every day. I have some ideas on how I’m going to deal with this (like not eat the whole thing) but I’m still a little nervous.
    • A few bloggers wrote whole posts on this topic, but I’ll just say it – MJW and I are far from perfect. He rocks and our marriage is going rock, but he makes me slightly bonkers sometimes. We have our issues and just because I don’t blog about them, doesn’t mean they aren’t shaping our relationship and making us stronger.
    • I love to lay in the sun. I use sunscreen, but let’s get real, this girl looks way better with a little color and sun-kissed locks. Although I’m going to work my butt off this summer, there will be some pool time.
    • And the biggest one at all…I’m going to start eating meat again. More on that tomorrow.
    Phew, that feels better.

Life is Good

First things first, have you all checked out my new header? I thought that considering the blog (and my life) is moving in a different directions, it was time to get a beautiful header to go along with it. I am in love with it and crack up every time I see it and see Reddick’s face. He wasn’t part of the original plan, but after learning how much you guys love reading about him and the suggestion from my sister, he got added in. I have to give a shout out to Char who designed the header. She was phenomenal to work with. I only wish that I had the funds to redesign my whole blog because I was so impressed with her work. She also designed Lisa’s blog, The Splattered Apron (which is so cute, by the way). If you ever need any design work done at an incredibly reasonable price, please contact Char at Delight Designs.
I’m in a pretty good mood so I thought I’d share this glow with all of you. Weird? Maybe. But you all know enough about me by now that I’m barely two shades of normal.
Life has been amazing lately. For the first time in years I feel like everything is falling into place.
I’m marrying my best friend. He really is my best friend. He was my best friend before we started dating. I’ve been waiting to marry him for over seven years now. I’m so excited to go home in a few weeks and start the process. We’re going to look at a few venue options at home and have an engagement party!
I’m living the dream. Honestly. It’s cheesy, I know, but looking back on old conversations I would always say “my dream would be to work for myself and work with food”. I don’t know why I ever thought that I didn’t deserve that dream. I’m glad I got my sh*t together and finally took the plunge. Life is way to short to be anything less than 100% happy.
I like living here. I always liked living here in Maryland/DC, but it was always really hard for me to be away from my entire family and most of my friends. I still get a little homesick and I still miss everyone, but I’m making a place for myself here. I’m not afraid to go out alone and talk to a stranger (not in a creepy way). I’ve made friends in my building, through blogging and many other ways. It took a little while for me to get comfortable enough to open myself up to these new groups of people, but it feels great to have friends here and to have a calendar full of plans. (I’m not that big of a loser, I promise.)
I’m over my fears. My grandmother always says things like, “oh you don’t have any problems starting anything, you make friends so easily, your so outgoing” and I was like that, until I stepped out of my little hometown bubble and saw how big and scary the world was. I admittedly hid under a rock for a long time. I didn’t want to meet new people. I didn’t want to try new things. I just liked being comfortable. Again, life is too short to be comfortable. Now I’m organizing blogger meetups, hosting parties, entering recipe contests and going on weekend trips without knowing anyone. I’m out of my little slump and it feels great.
I honestly don’t think I have any complaints right now. Things are stressful, sorting out my tuition, part-time job, bills and the tons of traveling we have to do this summer, but I’m ok with it. We will deal. I’m actually embracing my to-do list.
A lot of you have told me that you are envious of the courage that I have to quit my job and follow my dream. I can’t sit here and tell you that everyone is in the perfect place to do the same thing, because that’s not reality. But I do hope that somewhere in the near future you are at that place – mentally and financially – so that you can, too, follow your dreams.
If you don’t have the funds, start saving today. I’ve been saving for three years and it’s providing me a good cushion for the next few months.
If you don’t think you have the support system, look around this world. Your family and friends might take awhile to wrap their heads around your decision. The blogging community has been so incredibly supportive. It’s such a positive group.
If you have no idea what this passion is, it’s ok.  I honestly had no clue what I was doing until a few months ago. I talked to a lot of people. I visited different schools. I asked a million questions. I became quite the pain in the butt to those who are around me a lot (thanks MJW, Mom and Sister). It didn’t come to me overnight. You will sort it out. It might be tomorrow, it might be five years from now, but it will come.
Thank you for all your support! You have been amazing and I can’t wait to tell you all about the crazy year ahead of me!