Friday, March 30, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Macaroni and Cheese
I made this what feels like forever ago. It was a special treat for Superbowl Sunday! The Superbowl may have not turned out the way we (more like Matt) wanted it too, but this mac and cheese was delicious. It was pretty simple too and lasted a long time for the two of us.

4 cups dried macaroni
1 whole egg
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups skim milk
2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard (more if desired)
1 pound sharp Cheddar, grated (not pre-grated cheese), plus more for baking
Seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Optional spices: cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the macaroni until still slightly firm. Drain and set aside. In a small bowl, beat the egg. In a large pot, melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook for a couple of minutes, whisking constantly. Don't let it burn. Pour in the milk, add the mustard and whisk until smooth. Cook until very thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.

Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Whisk together until smooth. Pour the egg into the sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth. Add in the cheese and stir to melt. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt and the pepper. Add any additional spices if desired. Taste the sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

Pour in the drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Serve immediately (while it's still very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese and bake until bubbly and golden on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

*I adjusted this recipe slightly...I added cayenne to mine and I also topped it with panko bread crumbs and a little butter. I also didn't serve it right away. I made it ahead of time and put it in the fridge and baked it later. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wedding Update

Last weekend Matt and I made the trip to Pittsburgh. There was a LOT of wedding plans to be made. The main event was our tasting for the reception. Our reception venue does things a little differently. They hold a bridal open house for all booked brides and grooms and allow you to taste their food, their drinks, cakes, etc. There was a lot of people there, but things went very well. We officially decided on our menu, I had a very serious debate on chair covers, and I still don't care about cakes.

Saturdays events included a visit with Father Tom (the person marrying us), lunch with my aunts and cousin, a random stop at Abby Lee Dance Company (I'm shamelessly addicted to Dance Moms and I don't care at all), and a rehearsal dinner decision. First of all, I am very happy to say that Father Tom was a walk in the park compared to the tortures of "THE class." We still have details to work out on the ceremony, but I'm trying to adopt the philosophy of "it will come together"...not easy for me. Lunch was delightful and Matt's mom survived meeting the extended family, granted we were in public and it was not a holiday. Lastly, I am very excited about our rehearsal dinner location, The Church Brew Works. It's a supercool (I'm not even getting spell checked on supercool?) venue and the food is good. After Matt seriously asked the manager if he could call and cancel the day before and my head turn approximately 360 degrees, I think we made a memorable impression. Matt also asked the manager about when the dance moms ate there on the show. We might have a problem.

Sunday we did our second round of cake tasting from Jennuine Bakery near my parent's house. This will be our cake vendor, but I am leaving the cake details as a surprise :) Sunday was also the day of our reception tasting. This whole weekend had a lot of food involved. We all had Monday off and just tied up some loose ends including finalizing invitations and wedding shoes.

That was a lot of wedding. Sorry if you are bored by it and annoyed by my random sidebars! I'm sure you will all just be thrilled next week when I blog about wedding DIY (potentially).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We're Back!

It's Girls on the Run Season once again at BES! We have an overwhelming number of participants this season. A whopping 36 third through fifth graders. I could not believe my eyes when I got the roster. I was worried. That's a lot of people, especially when they are all females and it's springtime. DRAMA and chatterbox central! Knock on wood as you read this next part. So far they have been AMAZING. It's really unbelievable to me how good they are. Let's hope it continues.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Lentils with Sausage and Kale

1 c dried lentils
2 T olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 t crushed chili pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, tough ribs removed & sliced
2 sausage links, sliced (I used chicken sausage)
salt & pepper
1 T balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Add the lentils into a medium-sized pot and cover with lots of cold water. Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and saute the onion, red pepper, and chili flakes until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and add in the kale and let that soften before adding in the sausage and let that cook for a few minutes, adding in some of the lentil water if it gets too dry.

Drain off most of the water off the lentils, but keep at least half a cup or so and add it all into the sausage and kale mixture. Stir in vinegar and toss everything together. Adjust seasonings if needed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Honey Boo Boo Child

I was going to attempt my first "Wordless Wednesday" with the picture above, but nothing I post is wordless, and this character needs at least a little explanation. Ladies and gentlemen, Erica Jefferson. Also known as Honey Boo Boo Child. So this can be limited word Wednesday. Honey Boo Boo makes Wednesdays and Thursdays at BES more bearable. She's my part time counselor this year and she is the bomb. She puts up with my antics and even participates in them. I hope she stays forever!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Who is the Real Trustee?

This question, posed by Phil Knight, still stands to be answered. Today I got an email from the Penn State Board of Trustees. Why in the world they continue to dig themselves deeper in the hearts of true Penn Staters continues to amaze me. Why we are entrusting the good name of our university to those fools who continue to drag it through the mud goes beyond what I can fathom. My favorite parts...their complete slander of Graham Spanier, their further justification of the firing of Joe Paterno, their clarification of the now legendary phone call to end Joe's career, and the ever present lack of responsibility for their own contributions to this crisis.

I don't even really like Spanier and I'm offended for him. If the BoT truly believed that Spanier was so out of line in his leadership in the days preceding his firing...what took so long to get him out? And if the Grand Jury report states that Paterno/Spanier/Penn State has done nothing wrong or illegal, then what gives the BoT the right to say Spanier took insufficient action?

The illegitimacy of the Board of Trustees is most obvious between their first and second statements on Joe Paterno. The first deeming him a legend, a model of grace and generosity for other universities. The second blaming his poor leadership, his moral failures for the despair of the Penn State nation. When will the BoT take some personal responsibility? If we the alumni, the students, and the community rely on them for put the needs of our university first, to protect the integrity of Penn State, why didn't they know more about what Spanier was doing November 5-9, or what Sandusky was doing in the locker room, or more about the day to day procedures of the athletic department? Take some responsibility!

Finally, the phone call. Seriously? You're really going to say you couldn't make your way across campus, literally a 15 minute walk, to tell a man that had given 61 years, probably built the building you were sitting in, that you are firing him? Cowards, classless idiots. You couldn't face the media storm you put in front of an 85 year old's home to personally deliver that message? You are the moral compass that Penn State is supposed to look to now? I think not.

Like Sue Paterno said...he deserved better. And so do we.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

So I got a little caught up in the cooking process and forgot to post a recipe of the week. Better late than never...

I'm no Italian...if you are, you probably just want to exit right now. This is my sad, but quick, excuse for lasagna. I'm not even a big fan of lasagna, but usually at the beginning of each week I make one really big dinner so that I can get leftovers. Matt has class two nights a week and isn't home for dinner, so my big dinners make enough food so that he has something to take with him to class on those nights. This lasagna is something I used a few weeks ago. I think it works, but it's nothing elaborate. 

One box lasagna noodles, uncooked
.75-1 lb ground meat
16 oz ricotta
1-2 jars tomato basil pasta sauce

In a skillet brown ground meat. Spread a little bit of sauce in a 9x13 baking dish. Then layer uncooked noodles, ricotta, ground meat, and sauce (in that order) until pan is full. Top with sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan. 

This could be made without meat and add spinach. I have done that before and it's delicious. I would also recommend adding more sauce than you think necessary because the noodles absorb the sauce in the cooking process. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Honeymoon Reveal

Does this help? YES, friends who guessed Hawai'i, you are correct! I am so pumped! We will be vacationing on the island of Maui in just 5ish months! Just a little story for those of you who may have heard a completely different honeymoon plan from me just a week ago. I will start at the beginning. For Christmas Matt's parents gave us a week at their time share that they were hoping we could use for our honeymoon. We could exchange it for any where that was available. I checked that website religiously, multiple times a day for months and there was nothing we were interested in. We pretty much gave up and decided we better just investigate some trips we might like to take. 

I priced out quite a few options...Ireland our top choice was very out of the budget. Alaska was at the very top and we wouldn't have been able to do all the things we wanted to either. Then I looked into a few west coast trips and last weekend we decided to do Salt Lake City, Yellowstone, and Jackson Hole. I had everything for that trip completely planned out. It was all but booked. I don't know why we waited to start booking stuff for that trip, but luckily we did. Then last Friday I was seriously procrastinating going to work and randomly checked the time share website and there was Maui. I started screaming for Matt. After a very intense 5 minutes of whether to click, or not to click, the exchange button we did and then we were both late for work. So worth it! 

So the clues...clue #1 is Haleakala Volcano, clue #2 is the Ioa Valley Needle and the Hawaiian dish poi, and clue #3 is Kaihalulu Beach on the Road to Hana. I literally was soooo happy last Friday it made dealing with work a breeze. 

And I just had to add these photos (the only ones I have scanned, because I didn't have a digital camera) from 10 years ago on my first Hawaiian vacation :) If only that swim suit still fit.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Honeymoon Clue #2

Some more honeymoon landscape

Local Cuisine
(probably not a future recipe of the week)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Honeymoon Clue #1

BIG NEWS! We decided on a honeymoon location. Let's see who can guess where we are going. Please do not guess if you are someone who already knows the answer :) Here is picture clue number one!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Black Bean Soup
I love black bean soup from Panera, so I tried to make my own. I don't think it was as good, but it was still pretty good. I followed the recipe below, but I doubled it to have lots of leftovers. I thought it was very salty, so in the future I might not double the bouillon. I topped my mine with avocado and cilantro sour cream, but you could do nothing, tortilla chips, cheese, etc. And just to let you know in the process of this soup making I had a major kitchen disaster. I accidently pushed the power button on the blender with the top off. It was straight out of a movie. Soup everywhere and a very burnt hand. Be careful!

1 onion finely, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1-1.5 cups boiling water
2 fifteen ounce cans black beans,  undrained
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 lemon juiced
1.5 tbsp. cornstarch

Combine first six ingredients in a lot pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add half a can of beans, salt, and cumin, cook 5 more minutes. Puree soup in blender. Transfer the soup back to the pot and add the remaining beans. Combine the cornstarch with equal parts water, add to soup. Add lemon juice and cook until thickened.