Monday, December 31, 2012


This will be a short post...I felt like I really had to reach 100 posts for 2012, not leave it at 99 for the year. It's been a great year with the obvious highlights of getting married and going on a great honeymoon. I can't say it's going out too well...both of us had a little stomach bug so our New Year's plans are canceled. Typically I am the one that gets sick since I have one of the germ-iest jobs on the planet, but this time Matt got it too and I'm experiencing my first "man-sickness." 

Let's just hope he's better by tomorrow. Tomorrow Matt goes to New Orleans for work and I get to join him Thursday night. I'm super excited. I have never been there and am very excited to add Louisiana to my 50 states goal. So, my blog friends, if you have any New Orleans tips, please send them my way. I hope you all have a Happy New Year and a fabulous 2013!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Ropa Vieja
This ropa vieja recipe was very simple and made tons of leftovers. As you can see I served with roasted brussel sprouts (recipe here). The ropa vieja was good, but a little on the tomato-y side. I would probably cut the amount of crushed tomatoes, or eliminate the ketchup when making it again. 

1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (with seeds)
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak or flank steak
2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Cooked white rice, for serving

Combine the tomatoes, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, cumin, jalapeno and 3/4 teaspoon salt in crock pot. Add the steak, bell peppers and onion and toss to coat. Cover and cook on low, undisturbed, 8 hours.

After cook time...coarsely shred the meat with 2 forks, and serve over rice.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from 709 and 709's extended family! 

Flaherty Family at Kennywood's Christmas Lights 
Steeler Cousin Love

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Crockpot Potatoes
Ok so this really isn't a recipe, it's more an idea. I had no idea you could do this. I like baked potatoes, but rarely ever have them because by the time I get home from work I don't really want to wait an hour or so for them to cook. Well, I saw this idea on can just put baked potatoes in a crock pot and leave them all day. I tried it for my turn to cook bowling dinner (more on this some other time) to make stuffed potatoes and it worked out great. Just stick as many potatoes as you want in the crock pot (I did wrap mine in foil cause I thought they might get messy or something in there alone) and cook on low all day. The only downfall is that they don't get crispy skins in you are into that, but I would say the potato is way softer and better overall than when cooking them in the oven.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

National Tree Lighting

I mentioned I was going to attend the National Tree Lighting a few posts ago. Here are some very belated pictures from the event. It was definitely an experience. I'm glad I went, but I'm not so sure I will be back for a few years to come. It was very cold, and let me tell you there was a lot of waiting around for the Obama's who were 45 minutes late. I have a theory that good old Melia was being a typical teenager and not wanting to attend because she did not look pleased at all. Neither did Grandma. 

If you look close your can see Baracksies

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Pasta Bake
Back in the day, circa 2003, when I was living the dream, there use to be this pasta sauce on the market called "Pasta Bake." Basically all you had to do was take an uncooked box of pasta, a jar of this sauce, and then refill the same jar with water and dump it in a pan together and bake it til edible. I might have been living the dream, but that grossness I just described (which was delicious at the time) is not so dreamy. That being said, I would take my college lifestyle sophomore year in good old 208 Carlton Apartments any day. My roommate Jordan and I has some very interesting recipes that were go to and Pasta Bake was a winner. I guess this is my grown up version.

This pasta is filled with eggplant, portobello mushrooms, and spinach. I also made the sauce. To start I put the chopped veggies in a skillet and cooked them until soft. I also cooked and drained one box of pasta (in the picture above it's the end of one box and the beginning of another thats why there's 2 shapes). I put a few spoonfuls of ricotta in the cooked pasta and stirred it together and then added the sauce (recipe below), veggies, and pasta together and combined them. After that I just sprinkled with some shredded mozzarella and baked it for 20 minutes. Obviously you can use jar sauce instead of making it, and use any veggies or meat you would like. 

Simple Marinara Sauce:
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1tbsp. red pepper flakes
1tbsp. oregano
1/2 cup torn basil leaves

In a sauce pan heat olive oil (covering bottom of pan), garlic, and pepper flakes until garlic is golden. Add tomatoes, half cup of water, and oregano and bring to a boil. Turn to low and simmer adding basil and salt and peper to taste. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits (from the Elementary Friends)

Remember how I said the natives were restless? Just a few reports from the day:

Teacher One: Found out one student was selling advertisements for a play a couple of kids are writing and another student is starting his own lotto, while at lunch a student hit another kid because he had to break up with his girlfriend. To end the day a crazy one of my special children answered a math problem correctly and turned around and said "are you going to clap for me now?"

Teacher Two: Student: "What?! You're not married yet? Well better get a move on Grandma." Of course, said student said this after kissing the counselor's hand & then lamenting when he heard she was "a married woman."

Yours Truly: After telling a student to stop kicking himself in the head, "I will not stop. I am not your pet." This after a 45 minute battle over a spirit stick with the reindeer name Dancer on it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Love(s)

It's been awhile. Soooo to make up for it this will be a multi-topic long post. Sorry! Nothing is really going to be related to each other so bear with me.

1. Penn State. I have contemplated for the past few weeks about writing a post on this season of football. It's been an incredibly emotional year to be a Nittany Lion. I decided against writing a post about it because in the end the haters are going to hate. I am very proud of this years team, however. And yesterday on Facebook my sister really summed it all up:

"I am so proud of Penn State. W. Soccer is going to the championship game, Wrestling and W. Volleyball are #1 in the country, Bill O'Brien is Big Ten Coach of the Year (no doubt because of his and the players commitment to each other) and we are approaching another February where students will dance for 46 hours to raise millions in the fight against pediatric cancer. This just scratches the surfa
ce of Penn State. I hope with each accomplishment the haters and critics feel a bit more idiotic about things that were said over the last year and I have no doubt students and alumni will grow prouder and become more "obnoxious" to the outsiders. But, who knows, I hear its all about football at that school..."

2. Thanksgiving. We had a very enjoyable trip to Boston to visit Matt's family. Although we were nervous about what airport travel could bring, everything went very well and the flights and airports were all that packed in my opinion.

3. School. The BES bears are restless! I typically have lots of events the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it has been quite busy in the mental health department. I might have to pull out my direct access to Santa ASAP. Did you guys know that Santa can listen through the intercom in every classroom?!? This is probably not PC.

4. Christmas. Today we got all of our decorations up. And this Thursday I am going to the National Tree Lighting. My friend at work had an extra ticket and invited me...we have actual seats. I will get to see Michelle, Sasha, and Melia's outfits up close and personal! Pictures to come!