Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011


I had a lovely time visiting my family for Christmas this year. I got to go home for about a week and get some wedding things settled. Matt, Caitlin, Mike and I got to go to the Steeler game on Christmas Eve. The game wasn't the most exciting, but we had a good time watching people and providing our own entertainment. 

If looks could kill...we definitely would have died on Christmas
We had Christmas at my parents house this year. It was a ridiculous time as usual. The highlight of the night was probably the game I got as part of the grab bag. My cousin, Sarah, got me the game Quelf which we all played after we finished opening presents. In my opinion...it's a formalized game of King's Cup. The picture to the right is the result of wine and too much fun with Quelf, but it's my favorite picture for the night. 

I'm pretty bummed I'm towards the end of my break. I typically do not like New Year's Eve, but we are going to a party at my friend Melissa's tonight and I am looking forward to it. New Year's day I do love because of the good football and we had a great tradition growing up. More details on that later, but for now...HAPPY 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Banana Bread
I love banana bread, but hardly ever make it. We usually eat all our bananas before they are banana bread quality, but I finally saved up four and got to make this treat. I love this recipe because the bread turns out very moist. I don't like when banana bread is dry. It does take a pretty long time to bake though, so don't have a place you need to get to in the near future when you start this recipe. In the directions below it says to bake an hour or so, but I swear its more like 2 hours.

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.
Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Binder

You know in all those wedding movies and wedding reality TV shows how all the Bridezillas have the infamous wedding binder? Well I'm now THAT girl. In my defense this is no binder of wonderful and wistful ideas that I have dreamed of since age five, nor is it something I pulled out upon Matt's proposal, it is just an organization tool. None the less I still feel like a borderline Bridezilla, but I really couldn't handle the amount of paperwork without the help of a binder anymore. There's a lot to keep track of already, and there will be more in the near future.

Over my long awaited break from school I have appointments for flowers and photography. And I probably need to work towards getting a few more things done as well while I am in Pittsburgh. Oh and just another note...I am also that girl who did something cutesy to ask bridesmaids to be in her wedding, but you have to wait on that information for a few more days. So over the next week this may turn into a slight wedding blog. I apologize in advance. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Peppermint Bark

 Here is my Christmasy Recipe of the Week. Great news! It's super easy, tastes pretty good, and you can make it to your liking very easily. I made a few different kinds of bark last Christmas, but this combo was my favorite so I made a quick batch last week as a hostess gift for a Christmas party we went to. Last year I made this using White Mint Chocolate Candy Melts, but this year I couldn't find those. I highly recommend getting that flavor. It was amazing. This year I used plain white chocolate melts. I got mine at Michael's. 

For this recipe all I did was mash up a couple candy canes. Melt a whole bag of the chocolates. I did it really quick in the microwave. Pour the melted chocolate on the shiny side of a piece of tin foil and spread into a thin layer (see below). Sprinkle candy canes and let harden. Break into pieces and enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Lemon Sage Chicken
This was a random dish I found in my FoodNetwork magazine. I edited it a little to fit what I actually had in the house and to make things easier. I love lemon (like a lot), I love sage, so I loved this dish. I will definitely make it again. 

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts (trimmed and pounded)
Flour for dredging
2 eggs
Juice of one lemon
4 sprigs sage
2 tbsp. butter
Olive oil

Directions:
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, coat each breast in flour. In a bowl whisk together eggs and lemon juice. Dip the floured chicken in the egg mixture, coating both sides. In a skillet heat olive oil. Add chicken to skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown. Flip chicken and add sage leaves to the pan, cook until chicken is golden brown on both sides. Remove chicken from the skillet. Add the butter to the remaining sage leaves and cook until butter is browned. Top chicken with butter and sage. 

Also...I LOVE lemon so I added some more lemon juice to my chicken once it was plated :)






Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All I want to do...

...is think about where I'm going on my honeymoon. It's a problem. Although, in my opinion, a great problem to have. I would say I spend a great portion of my after work and after dinner time researching airfare, resorts, countries, etc. for a honeymoon. Do I have bridesmaids yet? No. Do I have a definite idea of flowers? Not really. But obviously honeymoon destinations are more important. Now I task you dear reader with two questions to answer. 1. Where did you go/want to go on your honeymoon? And 2. What are your ideas for our honeymoon? Please take into consideration that Matt is not someone who can sit on the beach all day. We can still go to a beach, but there needs to be some other activities around as well. Yay! Can't wait to read suggestions!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fabulous Fifth Grade Field Trip

During my tenure at good old BES I have been invited, or invited myself more like it, on one field trip. This is when two of my very dear friends taught kindergarten, and one of them had a very intense group of five year olds. So why not take your school counselor. I got to go to Cows and Corn that year...after it had rained for about one week straight. It was a delightful experience. This year I got invited to join the fifth grade team on their field trip to DC. It was great! I'm so glad I went.

Capitol Christmas Tree
The planned agenda was to go to the National Tree, the Natural History Museum, monuments, and the National Tree. Well my group and I deviated from the original agenda just a little bit to make things more interesting, and interesting it was. We got stuck in a police barricade and almost run over by a motorcade. We made sure to visit all the trees including the Capitol tree above, the national tree was looking a little sad and not even picture worthy. My company on this excursion made it all the more interesting. So a very big thank you to the fabulous fifth grade team at my school for brining me along. I would say this was definitely a field trip cut out for me. Cows and Corn was a little too rugged.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Swordfish Parmesan

When I was growing up my parents were always going to this restaurant called Monterey Bay. My dad loved the swordfish parmesan there. During my budding years as a wannabe chef I attempted to make this for him at home. When I was home for Thanksgiving we decided to make it again. Typically I make this in a pan on the stove, but it's really stressful. So I decided we should try it in the oven. It definitely wasn't as good as usual, but it sufficed. 

To prepare the swordfish steaks: Toss steaks in flour. Dip floured swordfish into whisked eggs. In a pie pan mix bread crumbs (for the picture above we used regular bread crumbs, but I would use panko in the future), parmesan, salt and pepper. Coat swordfish in bread crumb mixture. 

To cook: Bake in the oven or coat pan with olive oil and cook on the stove. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Girls on the Run, Fall Season Wrap-up


A while ago I mentioned that I was having a really hard time enjoying my GOTR experience this fall. My dear friends above were a little rambunctious and required a little bit too much maintenance for a volunteer activity. Well things shaped up very shortly after I wrote that post. Maybe they had heard a little too much of my complaining about their behavior. 
This is the end of our season. Each girl completed a 5K the weekend before Thanksgiving. Don't we look fabulous in our green this season?!?! I loved it and I think they did too. We will see you back in the Spring :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Ciabatta, Pancetta, and Chestnut Stuffing
This is the only stuffing I will eat. EVER. I'm not joking. I use to hate stuffing until my sister made this a few years ago for the first time. Ever since then we make it each Thanksgiving and I actually look forward to it at dinner. I highly suggest it for your next Thanksgiving. Or maybe even Christmas. Oh and please excuse the photo. I totally forgot to take a picture and didn't remember to do so until dinner had been served so this is the last little bit in the pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to thestuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.
Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thankfulness

Hi Friends! It has been for.ev.er. I wanted to update some things over my vacation from school, but forgot my camera cord and we all know that Recipes of the Week would not be the same without some food photography. I have a few recipes lined up for the next few weeks, hopefully the first (a Thanksgiving recipe a little late) will be posted later this week. But for now...some life updates.

Matt and I went to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving. Definitely something I am thankful for. Matt may have a different opinion. The most ridiculous thing happened upon our arrival. We got to my parents' house pretty late. We were just about to go to bed when Matt came into my room saying he didn't think he was supposed to sleep in the guest room. I was pretty sure that's where he was supposed to sleep since that's where he always sleeps when we go to Pittsburgh. I kept insisting he was supposed to sleep there and he kept insisting he didn't think so, that I needed to come see the bed. At this point I thought maybe my dad had left a mess in there or maybe the bed was unmade, but Matt made me come look for myself. So I walk into the room and made up in the bed, between the sheets, were three hunting rifles. I about died laughing. I went and asked my parents if they were trying to send a message about us getting married. My mother also burst out laughing and was totally embarrassed, and I think my dad felt really bad. Apparently the carpet cleaners had just come and instead of the guns being under the bed on the floor my dad had hid them in the bed and forgot about them. The next day during a toast at my aunt's, my grandmother, resembling a pit bull, also reminded Matt about how the day he marries me will be the luckiest day of his life. Matt counts these two events as part of the top three funniest events of the weekend.

We also got quite a few wedding things nailed down. Most importantly we have a date set. We will get married on August 12, 2012. Our reception will be at Pittsburgh's Grand Hall at the Priory. Getting those things set make the planning process a lot more exciting and much less stressful! I also got a dress! You will be getting no details on that :) I'm sure you will be getting periodic updates on our upcoming nuptials, but I promise not to turn this into a wedding blog.

Like I said...lots to be thankful and excited for this year...especially family and an upcoming wedding. I promise a recipe very soon!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Penn State Football

These past few weeks have been rough for Penn Staters to say the least. As a PSU football fan I have been invested in thinking about what would happen post Joe Paterno long before his untimely departure from his position. This weekend it occurred to me that the person I think/wanted to have the job will probably not get the position, let alone continue at Penn State after this season. I think Tom Bradley deserves the job. But if rumor has it this will not happen. I think it's sad. This is a man who has been offered head coaching jobs countless times, offers to coach in the NFL, and someone who clearly is loyal to PSU.

This is a little bit of a ramble-y post, but it was something I was thinking about and I really haven't posted much since my initial thoughts before Joe was outed. I am also still shocked every morning to hear PSU talked about on Today or the local news. I can't believe the nightmare continues. Gameday was rumoring Tony Dungy, Mike London, and Pat Fitzgerald. I do like Fitzgerald, but I don't think he would leave Northwestern. The other two I'm indifferent on. Urban Meyer has also been talked about in the past. Not a fan. I'm sure he would be a good coach, I just don't think it's a good fit. Just some random thoughts for a rainy Tuesday!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Channa Masala
I'm calling this the "Semi-Homemade with Erin" Recipe of the week. My take on Food Network's Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. I always want to make Asian food, but for some reason I lack all the confidence when it comes to actually making it. I think it because it has a lot of sauces and spices I don't always have on hand. I always scope out the International Food aisle at Wegs and quickly give up, but a couple weeks ago I broke down and bought a Channa Masala kit to assist me. I don't really ever buy kits because I think I can do it better myself. This was my baby step toward making Indian food by myself. All I had to do was cut up a lot of onion...I mean that was the most difficult part. You also have to do some mixing of ingredients and cook rice, etc. It was delicious. I do still really want to learn how to make some Pad Thai...like I really badly want to learn this. If you have any tips please pass them along. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Pumpkin Cookies
Cookies:
½ cup sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt

Penuche frosting:
3 tbsp. margarine or butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup milk
1 ½ to 2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350º. In large bowl, beat sugar, ½ cup brown sugar and 1 cup margarine until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, vanilla and egg; blend well. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in walnuts. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.

In medium saucepan, combine 3 tbsp. margarine and ½ cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Cool 10 minutes. Add milk; beat until smooth. Beat in enough powdered sugar for desired spreading consistency. Frost cooled cookies. Let stand until frosting is set.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dear Old State

It's no secret how much I LOVE Penn State. To say that I am upset about the recent headlines is an understatement. I really can't speak calmly about it. My blood pressure rises each time I look at facebook, watch ESPN, or read the news online. I'm heartbroken. And for once I'm not exaggerating. I'm going to attempt to convey my thoughts in a fair and organized matter, but I really still can't even make sense of the things the media is saying so proceed with caution.

Let me begin by saying that in no way am I denying or defending Mr. Sandusky's alleged actions. If he is found guilty (which I do believe he will be and should be) he should be punished for what he did. That being said, read my first sentence again...Mr. Sandusky's actions being the key phrase. The wrong doings here and the illegal actions are only his. Responsibility for his action's does not lie with Penn State football, Joe Paterno, or Penn State University. This is where I become upset. How many websites, headlines, newspaper articles, and television programs are showing Jerry Sandusky's picture? Slim to none. Joe Paterno has become the fall boy for all of this and I think it's beyond unfair. It has been noted that the incident was reported the the authorities and the District Attorney decided not to prosecute.

Let me use the analogy/reasoning I have been using with my colleagues and friends this week. I'm a school counselor for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. If teachers, or any school employee, suspect a student is being abused they are to report it to me and I am to report it to the appropriate people. Technically, I am also ethically responsible to not divulge whether social services was called or not. How does that teacher know I reported it or not?  Would it be fair if I chose to neglect my responsibilities to blame the teacher who did their part? And from personal experience, alerting the appropriate people does not always mean action is taken, an investigation is done, or that the right verdict is found.

To me it seems that Joe followed the law. Admittedly, I am also a very proud Joe Paterno loyalist. I keep a figurine of him in my office for inspiration because if he is almost 85 years old and can wake up everyday and go to work then I can too. Joe Paterno started at Penn State in 1950. 1950. None of these media people could walk (or were born) when he walked onto that field for the first time. The things that Joe Paterno has done for not only Penn State football, but college football in general, Penn State University, and the town of State College are so many that most people can only hope to be half as gracious as him in their lifetime. If there is one Penn State employee I could think to trust it would be Joe Paterno. Isn't it Joe Paterno that is credited with an outstanding dedication to not only football, but the character and education of his players? A mentality that says education first and football second? Yes, it sure is. That's the Penn State way. It sickens me to see so many alumni turn their backs and say ugly things about a place they use to call home and a person I'm sure they loved if not Friday, then at some point in the past.

The New York Times has reported that University officials are planning Paterno's exit as I type this. This has got to be the most heartwrenching news I have read today. It may seem dramatic, but I really am having a hard time bearing the thought of this. Does the man who followed the law, spent 61 seasons on the field at Beaver Stadium, spent 61 years improving the lives of young men, the town of state college, and the University Park campus deserve to be outed because of someone else's poor choices? In my opinion he does not.

Penn State is an institution deeply rooted in tradition, loyalty, and pride. I say this is a contributor to the media frenzy, the nation wide disbelief that something like this could happen in a place called Happy Valley. But that's just it. Jerry Sandusky and his actions are not who, or what, we are talking about when we say, "WE ARE." We are so much more. We are not only football. We are Penn State. And Penn State is people, organizations, a community, so much that I can't put into words. I am Penn State. I have never been more proud to be a Penn Stater than I am today, or will be tomorrow. For the Glory. FOREVER.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Great Falls


I have been living in N. Virginia going on four years now and have finally made it to Great Falls Park. It's something I have always wanted to do, but it never ends up happening. It was a perfect fall sunny day on Sunday and that made it even better. The trails we did were pretty much easy ones, but there was some moderate adventure involved. At one point I forged a river like in the the people in the Oregon Trail game. I didn't some close to death, but I did get a wet foot. The forging part is a slight exaggeration. Great Falls is pretty close to our house so I would like to go there more often, especially during different seasons to see what it looks like. If you live in N. Virginia I highly recommend this as a weekend activity. Next time I will bring water and snacks and maybe a book.




Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Diva is Back


As you know if you read my blog regularly, this lemon tree and I have a major love/hate relationship. Why does the lemon choose to do this to me? I don't understand why it has to drop it's leaves on a regular basis. Can someone please explain this to me? And I know you probably can't tell from the poor quality of this picture but there are flower buds all over it. Such a diva brat.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Pumpkin Scones
Here is recipe one of two in pumpkin tasting. I made these for the BES birthday breakfast last week. They were quite a hit. I was not impressed, however. I used the recipe below, but I doubled it and used half whole wheat flour and half regular all purpose. I got about 30 scones from the double recipe. So if you like pumpkin and you like scones...I think this recipe is for you :)

Ingredients:

For the Scones:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 large egg
For the Powdered Sugar Glaze:
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
For the Spiced Glaze:
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Been FOR-EV-ER!

I haven't blogged in 10 days. TEN! I'm not sure that's ever happened. It has been a very busy week. Girls on the run, Matt's family visiting, a baking extravaganza, and a wedding. All this combined with regular life commitments leaves very little time for blogging. So just a few thoughts as I sit here and watch College Gameday (the best part of Saturday mornings in the fall).

1. Why is it that the first time you do something...it's typically the best time? The reason I pose this question...Girls on the Run. Last Spring was fabulous. Everyone behaved, the kids all enjoyed themselves, life was great, it was like the perfect combination of everything. This season is much more challenging. Does this make sense to anyone else?

2. Today I am going to a wedding. This is the tenth wedding I have been invited to, and the seventh I've been able to go to, in the last 17 months. I'm a little wedding-ed out. This one is in Alexandria bringing the total of Virginia weddings I have been to all the way up to one. As far as I can tell right now, I'm getting a break until next August.

3. I completed two pumpkin recipes soon to make their debut on this blog. They got good reviews and even I like one of them.

4. Tomorrow there will be a showdown in the 709. Patriots vs. Steelers. Which side are you on?

Ok I'm going to cut myself off now and promise some more quality blogging in the future. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Pasta and Lentil Soup
Delicious! And not only will I use this recipe again, but I will make lentils more often. I bought the dry kind instead of the canned to save some money and I was worried I might mess things up, but it was pretty simple and I had some left over lentils to eat for lunch the next day! I also doubled the recipe below so we would have lots of leftovers. I think I either used a pasta shape that was too big or I should have added more water, but it was still very good.

5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
8oz small pasta
2 14oz can of lentils (one drained, one undrained)...I used 14oz dry lentils and cooked them the night before I made this.

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and cook until onion is soft. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and add pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Add the lentils and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until pasta is tender. Stir in 1/4 cup of parmesan and add salt to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with remaining parmesan.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall and Pumpkins

I like fall. And it seems like every year when fall is nearing all anyone can talk about it pumpkin this and pumpkin spice that. Well I like fall because it gets a little cooler and because it's football season. I do not like pumpkin flavored items. And just the thought of pumpkin pie sometimes makes me cringe. This year, however, I'm trying to force myself to re-taste all things pumpkin in effort to join this pumpkin bandwagon everyone is always on. 

Things I have re-attempted:
Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks
Pumpkin Beer
Pumpkin Cookies

The Pumpkin Spice Latte went OK. I started with just a little tall latte a few weeks ago. It was drinkable, maybe even enjoyable. Comparable to the gingerbread latte I like at Christmas time. Then I got a venti last weekend. Bad choice. I'm off PSL's again. The pumpkin beer is debatable. The one we currently have in our fridge is hardly pumpkiny. I tried one at a bar and it was like a pumpkin vanilla overload. So the jury is still out on this one. Pumpkin cookies...also still undecided, I've had good and bad. 

In my opinion the best thing about pumpkins is still the seeds roasted in the oven. But the whole reason I'm writing this post is because my team at school is in charge of Birthday Breakfast this month. I am in charge of bringing a dessert/sweet. I am thinking about doing something pumpkin and I want to know what your favorite pumpkin item or recipe is so I can attempt it as a Recipe of the Week and hopefully get myself to enjoy pumpkin just a little more. Ok, ready, set, send me your pumpkin ideas!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Gnocchi with Squash and Kale

Ingredients:
2 tbls. butter
1/2 medium butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 tbls. roughly chopped sage
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 bunch kale stemmed and roughly chopped
17.5 oz gnocchi
3/4 cup grated parmesan

Melt 1 tbls. butter in a large pan. Add squash and cook until tender. Add garlic, sage, red pepper flakes, and one tsp. salt. Cook until garlic is soft. Preheat the broiler. Add chicken broth to skillet and bring to a boil. Add kale and stir until wilted. Add gnocchi and stir to coat. Cover and cook until gnocchi are tender. Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup parmesan. Stir in remaining butter. Transfer to baking dish and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Place under broiler until golden and bubbly.

***FYI. I did not like this. It was mostly something I made cause I knew Matt would like it. It wasn't awful, but not something I would choose to eat regularly. Its probably really good if you like gnocchi, but I'm just not a fan.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Wedding in Review

Just Married and back on the Trolley
This weekend was fabulous. Fabulous friends, fabulous weather, fabulous wedding. Personally, I think this wedding was a major success. Everything ran smoothly, the weather was amazing, the food was better than fabulous, and I don't think I saw many people without gigantic smiles on their faces the whole night. That dance floor was packed the moment people entered the room. I have never been at a wedding where people got up and started dancing when the first course was being served. That's how fun it was! Congratulations again to my good friends Melissa and Ted!



Friday, October 7, 2011

11 Garner Court

My junior year of college I lived in 11 Garner Court on Garner Street in State College, PA. It was one of the most fabulous years of my life. It was the year I turned 21, I mostly had to worry about going to class, and I lived with some of the best friends any girl could ever ask for. I wish there could be more years in my life like that. The girls I lived with that year were my core group of friends throughout college, and I am lucky enough to have most of those girls still in my life on a regular basis. Why am I telling you this today? Because I am spending the weekend in Pennsylvania at the wedding of my friend, Melissa. I feel the need to share a memory about dear Melissa.

Everyone deserves an all out celebration for their 21st, especially when you go to PSU. Well Melissa was leaving 11GC (as we fondly call it) for Austrailia the semester she would turn 21. Obviously this was unacceptable. We had to work this out. We threw Melissa a pre-21st birthday. It was also a surprise. As I recall, seven years later, I was in charge of distracting her and walking her around town in frigid temperatures while party decor went on. I really ran out of motivation and lies quickly and I believe she was onto something. I finally got her to the restaurant when I was supposed to. The real party started when we got home, however. There was obviously some age appropriate beverages and somehow the delightful young ladies I lived with decided to have a cake fight. If you know me, you can imagine my reaction. I had these people on a chore chart (not kidding). They were cleaning with toothbrushes the next day and butter knives to get it out of the grout (again, not kidding). Melissa was also somehow scotch taped to the kitchen counter.

Just a little snapshot of the good old days. Congratulations Melissa and Ted!


Just a little FYI about this pic. I believe this was actually taken on my 21st birthday...which is probably why I look like I'm dying. And one very key member of 11GC is missing. Miss Rachel is not pictured because this is before we knew her. She was the lucky person who sublet Melissa's spot in 11GC when she left for Austrailia. And my friend Nicole (all the way to the left) did not live with us she was an honorary member. And let me tell you I found some classic pictures while trying to find one of all six of us. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup


Ingredients:
Olive Oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups half and half
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/3 pound shedded sharp cheddar
salt and pepper
croutons

Heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until softened. Add chicken broth, half and half, potatoes, bay leaf, and 2 cups water, one tsp. salt, and one tsp. pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer until potatoes are soft. Meanwhile steam broccoli in microwave. Once the potatoes are tender, remove the bay leaf and transfer soup to a blender. Blend until smooth. Return the soup to the stovetop. Thin with water if necessary. Stir in broccoli and seat with salt and pepper. Add cheese and stir until melted. Serve soup topped with croutons.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook...

Now you have to know my title is me saying facebook, facebook, facebook in exasperation as you begin to read this post. I just don't know what to do with dear facebook anymore. You must also know that I do truly like facebook. I spend entirely too much time with facebook, but I'm becoming frustrated. My original frustration came when anyone in the whole wide world could have a facebook...high school students, adults, dogs, babies practically. This was when I was in college and believed only college students should be allowed to have a facebook. YES, I realize this means my sorry butt would be long removed from facebook at this point, but would that really be a bad thing? Probably not. Life would probably be simpler and a lot less dramatic for some.

My latest outrage (and no I really don't care about this formatting business that they change everyday...I can deal with that) is that I recently posted pictures to my account. In the past I could control who sees my pictures, and I had it set so that only my friends could see my pictures, but after I posted said pictures this past week a person I didn't even know commented on my picture. I was completely confused about this. After all, I thought I had my privacy settings under control. I investigated the next day. Apparently now if you tag anyone in your pictures their friends can see them too. Regardless if you have your privacy settings set to FRIENDS ONLY. So my question is...why is there even a FRIENDS ONLY setting if facebook is just going to violate that anyway?

I realize that I choose to maintain a facebook page and all of this can be stopped with a simple click of the deactivate button, but why can't Mr. Zuckerberg just chill out and keep things slightly simple for once? Why does it have to be so confusing for the average subscriber that doesn't have to make a flow chart in order to make sense of the rules of facebook? I'm just trying to keep my job.

The questions that I have been wrestling with most of all this week is do I keep my account? Obviously, I'm keeping my account. How else could I see the train wrecks that unravel on facebook almost daily without it? So then I went to do I stop posting pictures? This is a possibility, but my mom, my cousins, my aunts, etc. (aka my main reason for posting pictures) check my facebook so they can see the pictures I'm posting. It's the easiest and most efficient way to share the pictures with others. So, I'm still undecided and still annoyed at facebook. Am I crazy? Ok, I think I'm finished.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Eggplant Parmesan
This recipe is one of the most delicious I have ever posted. I am a huge eggplant fan, but have never taken the time to make it correctly by myself. This was 100% worth the time it took. I would say it took about 1.5 to 2 hours total. Definitely a weekend recipe. My only complaint is the time it took cause I wish I had the time to make it more often.



To make the eggplant:
2 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
Salt and Pepper
4 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup Parmesan
1 cup Flour
Olive Oil



  1. In a large bowl, toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt; transfer salted eggplant to colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and salt. Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on a triple layer of paper towels; cover with a triple layer of paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.
  2. While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-thirds of the oven, place rimmed baking sheets on both racks, and heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat eggs in second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in bag with flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
  5. Remove preheated baking sheets from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place half of breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.
To make the sauce:
28 oz crushed tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
basil, salt, and pepper to taste

  1. Heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and season to taste.
To assemble:
8 oz mozzarella
1/2 cup parmesan
basil 

Top half the eggplant slices with mozzarella cheese. Place in the oven until melted. Meanwhile, place a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Arrange eggplant slices with mozzarella on top of sauce. Place another layer of eggplant on top of mozzarella. Place another thin layer of sauce on top of eggplant. There should be enough eggplant for one more layer. Sprinkle parmesan and one more thin layer of sauce. Sprinkle the remainder of mozzarella on top and bake in the over until cheese is melted. 

**Just FYI...I wanted my eggplant to be crunchy so I didn't layer with a whole lot of sauce. The layers in the baking step can be adjusted to how you would like your eggplant to turn out. I'm fairly certain anyway you do it will be delicious!