Monday, December 30, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Stuffed Peppers & Zucchini
This was an experimental recipe. I have been venturing into the world of peppers - of which I have never been a real fan - but I am starting to like some stuffed peppers. I LOVE stuffed grape leaves. My freshman year roommate had a grandma that would always send her back to PSU with a bunch of them...I have never had any as good as those. I have made them myself in the past and the filling is so good. I will have to debut them on the blog at some point. Anyway, I tried to make a similar filling for these. If I ever make these again, I would cook the peppers for a little bit before stuffing them, since I completely cooked the filling first. Overall, though, I thought the zucchini was better than the peppers.

Ingredients:
5 or 6 Green peppers and/or zucchini halves
1 lb ground beef
2 cups rice, cooked
1 onion, diced
lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
mint
salt
pepper
olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Hollow out green peppers, half zucchini and remove the seeds to have room for the filling. At this point I would probably roast the peppers for 15 minutes before stuffing them. Begin cooking rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, for the filling, coat a large pan with olive oil, saute onions and garlic until translucent. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Season mixture with mint, salt, and pepper to taste. Add cooked rice to the ground beef mixture. Stuff peppers/zucchini with meat and rice mixture.

Add about a half inch of water to a baking dish. Place peppers/zucchini in the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Place in oven for about 20 minutes to a half hour. Transfer cooked peppers to plate and serve.


Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Friday Love

In honor of the year 2013, I want to recap it's top ten moments for this {Friday Love} post. Overall, it's been a big and fabulous year, and we should end it on a positive note. I can only hope 2014 trumps 2013. I'm crossing my fingers. Happy New Year, friends!

{ONE}

New Orleans. In January, Matt and I traveled to New Orleans. He was there for work, and I went along to have fun.

{TWO}

THON. Penn State Dance Marathon raised a record breaking $12,374,034.46.

{THREE}

Bowling. I can't even begin to describe my involvement with the bowling league. Looking back it was a great decision. It kept me busy while Matt was at class, it brought me closer with some great friends, and it was all around comedy every. single. Thursday. {THREE} also goes to Game Nights! I have never wrote a game night only post, but I have mentioned it in many posts. Game nights took over for bowling and I love it!

{FOUR}

Buying a House! This is probably the top moment of 2013. Definitely a big accomplishment!

{FIVE}

BurlingtonBoston, and Maine. Summer vacation.

{SIX}

One Year. Matt and I celebrated our first anniversary. We went to Ray's the Steaks and ate cupcakes at home, like our wedding :)

{SEVEN}

30. I had a big birthday.

{EIGHT}

Oktoberfest. We started a tradition of holding an Oktoberfest. First in Pittsburgh, then in Virginia.

{NINE}

Penn State vs. Michigan. My whole family traveled to Penn State and saw one of the greatest games in PSU football history!

{TEN} 

Running. I wouldn't have though I would be posting this as ten on my list in January, but I decided to train for a half marathon. Let's hope it makes the top events of 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Love

{ONE}

Winter Break. In September I never thought I would make it to winter break. It's been a long time coming. I'm so thankful it's here.

{TWO}

Semester Break. I'm pretty sure that I get happier for Matt's semester breaks than I do for my own breaks. When Matt's in school it's painful. This semester he had to write his major paper for his program. Extra painful. I'm so happy he is done and that he got a good grade! I'm even happier we are one class away from graduation!!!


{THREE}

Hark the Herald Angels Sing. I just like too many Christmas songs. This is my pick for this week. When I was little this and The First Noel were my faves. I'm pretty sure I am going to make Matt listen to Christmas music the whole way to Pittsburgh...I'll probably sing for him the whole way too. He's so lucky!




{FOUR}

Joy to the World. I had to do two Christmas songs this week because I have a special version of {Friday Love} coming up next week to celebrate 2013. I think Joy to the World might be my current fave for Christmas songs :) It makes me think of going to church on Christmas Eve with my family.



{FIVE}

BES Holiday Sing Along. This has been a tradition at Bennett since I started, and I think it's a lot of fun. Right now I could provide some inappropriate commentary, but you can just watch the video instead! My fave part of the video is when I start laughing so hard in the background and the little friend in the white shirt who is looking at me like I have 7 heads because I can't control it. After I turned off the video he started yelling my name and asking what in the world was so funny.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Pasta with Sausage & Peppers
I made this so long ago. It was summertime. I have made it a bunch of time since. Both Matt and I really like it. I think the trick to this (especially if you aren't into tomato sauces), is to just barely coat the spaghetti with the tomato sauce. It really adds to the flavor, but isn't the main flavor. The fresh mozzarella is really key too. I highly recommend this dish!

Ingredients:
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow onion
2 spicy Italian sausages (1 for each person)
spaghetti (desired amount)
marinara sauce (a few spoonfuls)
fresh mozzarella

Directions:
Thinly slice both the pepper and onion. On the stove top, simmer the pepper and onion in olive oil until caramelized. Meanwhile cook spaghetti and grill sausages. Once sausages are grilled, slice into bit size pieces. Drain spaghetti and drizzle with a little olive oil. Add sausage slices, the desired amount of peppers and onions, and coat with a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce. Serve with fresh mozzarella cheese on top.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Renaming

Blog readers...I have to say I am a little disappointed. There were hardly any votes on my poll. Eight, to be exact, which is funny because I know that 56 people viewed the {Friday Love} post where I told you about the poll, and 250+ people have visited my blog since I put the poll up. Hmmm.

Anyway, the winner (with 4 sad votes) was Life: One Plate at a Time. Since I posted the poll, though, two people have mentioned an alternative title with the same thing in common and I actually think I like it the best. One friend suggested "Life With a Little Flare" and another, "Food with a Flare." What I think I am going with is "With a Little Flare" and the subtitle of "life one plate at a time." Obviously, it's making it's debut today at the top of the page.

Matt tried for a good hour to rewrite the HTML to make it look like I want it to, but neither of us can figure it out. I had to change my fonts to get rid of some of the gigantic spacing between the two lines of text at the top, and I really want the subtitle to start more under the H in With. Any advice on how to remedy this problem?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Love

{ONE}

Snow Days. Does this really need explanation? I think not! Who doesn't love a snow day!?!? An unexpected day off is always amazing! It's one reason living in Virginia is better than living in Pennsylvania.

{TWO}

Online Shopping. For the past couple of years I have only done Christmas shopping online. Have you ever been to Tyson's Corner on a regular old Wednesday in the middle of April? It's like the biggest cluster I have ever seen. There's no way I'm going during the holidays. Online is the only option in my world.

{THREE}

Christmas Cards. These little surprises in my mailbox make getting the mail exciting again. Thanks for sending us fun mail, friends!

{FOUR}

O Holy Night. This is the first of my top three of favorite Christmas songs. My fave Christmas songs are church hymns. I couldn't find a version on YouTube I was completely satisfied with, but this will work.


{FIVE}

This Color Test. I saw this test online a month or so ago. I took it and got a 7. I had Matt take it and he got a 62. The lower the number, the higher your "color IQ." Somehow it came up when we were in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving and my parents took it. My mom was so so funny when she was doing it. She scored off the charts bad. Try it and see how you do. No one has beat my 7 yet, can you?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Happy Snow Day!


I'm very excited to share come pictures of our first snow day of the 2013-2014 school year. One reason living in Virginia is beneficial :) We did a couple of Christmas decorations on Saturday night before the snow and ice came. This morning everything is coated in ice so I went out to take a few pictures. I hope we get a lot more snow this winter!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Love

{ONE}

New Blog. Obviously there have been some changes around here. I think how it is formatted right now is mostly the way it is going to stay. The last thing that will change is my blog's name. I am adding a poll to the right side of this page. There are 5 options: Life By the Bowlful, What's Cooking on Lednock, Life: One Plate at a Time, and Now Serving..., and What's On Our Menu. Please vote for what you think is best! I'm really looking forward to the results :)

{TWO}

Starbucks Holiday Drinks. I just love when the Starbucks red cups come out! And strangely enough for someone who doesn't like sweet coffee drinks...I love the gingerbread lattes. I wish I could buy one everyday!

{THREE}




Bows. How cute are these hair bows? Cute, as in tacky-cute! My talented friend made them for all of our Girls on the Run this season. They are made out of duct tape. I shamelessly sported the one below all day on Monday at school.


{FOUR}



Night the Cat. This is a little bit of a long story, I'm going to cut it short. Another friend and I share a silly student. She's in first grade and she's obsessed with lip gloss, cats, and cupcakes. She's always getting her lip glosses confiscated at school. Well one day this cat (who has a long backstory of his own) showed up in the classroom with her lip gloss and a cupcake nose. He's taken on an elf on the shelf role. The kids named him Night and wrote him letters. Night will be writing them back this weekend. I'm so excited about my new pen pal project!

{FIVE}

Salt & Vinegar Chips. This is possibly one of my most favorite foods. The problem is I never really get to eat them. If there is a bag near me I will consume the entire thing. Well, actually, I will consume enough to make my mouth hurt so bad I have to take a break and come back as soon as I have feeling back in my tongue. Therefore, these are not allowed to be in our house. I sometimes text Matt and tell him he should buy them for me on the way home. He never does.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Spicy Italian Stuffed Peppers 
These are so good, and so super easy. I can't believe I just started thinking about making stuffed peppers at home. I have recently started making two kinds. This is my favorite of the two. You can short cut the recipe by stuffing the raw peppers with the sausage mixture and not roasting them beforehand. Both ways turn out just fine.

Ingredients:
6 Anaheim Peppers, with stems and seeds removed
2 spicy Italian sausage links
shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
Make a slit down the length of each pepper. Place the peppers in the oven at 450 and roast until skin starts to separate. Meanwhile mix the sausage and cheese together. Remove the roasted peppers from the oven and allow to cool. Peel the skin off each pepper. Stuff each pepper with the sausage and cheese mixture. Place the stuffed peppers back in the oven until sausage is cooked through.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Pages

With the updating of my blog I have added new pages to the site. You can see the addition of new pages in the header at the top left of the screen. The tab "About Erin" includes a little biography about me and about the blog. There is now a recipe index as well. That was quite a project. I am seriously hoping people use it. At least I probably will. It was fun to go back through almost everything I made in the last three years and revisit some of the disasters and remember a lot of the things I made only a couple times...and should remake soon.

Some things I don't like about my updates that I still can't figure out how to fix: the 'gadgets' on the side of the page and the links posted on my pages. My links use to open up into separate windows, but now they open using the same page. This annoys me and I want the old system back! My gadgets are now on a tab that moves in and out when you scroll over it...I want the gadgets to actual be in a right column on the page like they use to be, but can learn to live with this annoyance if I have to. I also use to be able to click a button to automatically link to Facebook and I can no longer figure out how to do that. I would love to have that convenience back as well. On a positive note I do love the new search which give a little drop down snippet about any keyword you search. So any tips on my problems? If you have a remedy please share.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Construction

I am working on a new look for my blog. I have been considering this FOR-EV-ER...but always get too nervous to actually make the change. Along with my new design I would really like to change my blog's title. I never loved "the.life.&.times.of.erin.," but I was worried I didn't just choose something I would never just start writing the blog. I am taking suggestions. I would really like something with a food in the title. So please friends...rename my blog. Bear with me as I attempt to make my blog look and sound like what I have pictured in my head :)

Turkey Turkey

Happy Belated Thanksgiving blog friends! It has been an eventful few days in Western Pennsylvania. Matt and I are spending Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh with my family, after spending the previous weekend in Boston with Matt's family. We had a pretty uneventful drive up on Wednesday evening. I can only hope for an equally uneventful drive back to Virginia tomorrow!


Thursday morning Matt, my sister, my mom, and I got up super early to participate in the Pittsburgh Turkey Trot (race number one in my half marathoning quest). Some of us did the 5K and others did the fun mile. The most exciting part was getting to cross the bridge, and finishing. The least exciting part was the part of the route that was downtown...since mostly everyone was on the North Shore part of the route. My aunt, uncle, and cousins met us at the turkey trot as well. It was a chilly morning, but after the race started I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I warmed up. After our race we came home and got ready to go to my aunt's house for Thanksgiving. I was super hungry so it was kind of nice to be able to get some exercise in in the morning and then be hungry for my favorite holiday meal!

At the starting line hiding from wind.
Cold Turkeys
We spent all day Friday helping my sister and brother-in-law move into their new house. It was slightly less daunting than moving into your own house, but a great reminder about how happy I am we now don't have to move for a long time. I spent a good deal of Friday night and Saturday morning cleaning some of my things out of my parents' house since we now have space to keep it in Virginia. Among my favorite things that I found are a letter to the tooth fairy (with my tooth still taped on) asking that she leave my money in quarters and informing her that I was sleeping over at my friend's house. It has been a fun and productive weekend in Pittsburgh. I can't believe we will be back in only a couple of weeks to celebrate Christmas!

Congratulations to Mike and Caitlin on their new house!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Soft Pretzels
I've never really loved soft pretzels, but over the years we have developed a stronger bond. And these are amazing. I made them for our Oktoberfest a few weeks ago, and then last week when it was my turn for game night to accompany chili. I would one hundred percent make these again. They are super easy and even a little fun. I want to make them some other time and do fun shapes :)

Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

Directions:
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well. Return the dough to the bowl, and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil.

In the meantime, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Love

{ONE}

RunKeeper. In case you haven't heard...I registered for that half marathon I was considering a few weeks ago. I'm actually kind of excited about it. I have been run/walking/training a few days a week. Things are going pretty well. I have the RunKeeper app on my phone that I really like to use. It tracks time, mileage, calories burned, and you can coordinate it with music. I really like it. I suggest it if you have a use for it.

{TWO}

Fantasy Football. For the last few years I have been involved in a fantasy football league with my dad's side of the family. My team is always awful. This year things are actually going halfway decent for my team. It makes things a lot more fun.

{THREE}

Kids React to Gay Marriage. Have you seen this video? Normally when I see a YouTube video posted on FB, I skip over it. Especially if it's 15 minutes long. I must have been bored and decided to watch this, but I'm glad I did. I loved it. Their reactions are just so genuine it kills me.



{FOUR}

Pat Collins. If you are a DC area person reading this blog...you should know who Pat Collins is because he is the most ridiculous newscaster of all time. He can make any news story the most dramatic piece of television you have ever watched. I seriously can't stop laughing any time he is featured. I can't even pick a clip to post here he's so outrageous. Although, the grape suit might take the cake. Hard to believe he works in the nation's capital.

{FIVE}

Jeans Day. It basically gets me out of bed every Friday. It really does...I wish every day could be jeans day!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Eleven Eleven Eleven

Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

Two years ago today, Matt and I got engaged. Our engagement post on the blog is still one of my favorites because we each wrote our perspective of the day. We talk about our engagement day a lot...Matt constantly reminds me that one of the first things out of my mouth after he asked was that I thought I was dying (and I was serious, I was so sick). Above is a reading that was done at our wedding. I just love it and thought it was a fitting post for today. I hope you like it too :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Spaetzel
Last week I posted about my second Oktoberfest. I mentioned in that post how the day of Oktoberfest was also the day that I realized that I could never cut it as a German housewife. Spaetzel was the recipe that brought me to this realization. Have you ever made spaetzel? If you have...I commend you. If you have and you enjoyed it...I think you might be insane. If you haven't, don't....just go to a German restaurant. Please. I do have to say it was one of the more interesting recipes I have ever followed. I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. She makes it sound entirely too easy and pleasurable. The recipe to make the spaetzel itself is simple. It's the process that is the killer. I really wish I would have had Matt video tape me pushing the batter through the colander. I also wish we had video of the ice bath process. There was spaetzel (in various forms) everywhere. It was crazy. I do not suggest this, unless you really love spaetzel and cleaning every surface of your kitchen area.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
7 eggs 
1/4 cup milk

Directions:
Combine all three ingredients. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. 

Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil. Set a large colander with holes anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2-inch wide over the pot. Pour 1/4 of the batter into the colander and press it through the holes with a spatula. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes then use a slotted spoon to fish spaetzle out and drop it in the ice bath. Continue with remaining batter in 3 batches.

When you’re done with the batter, drain the spaetzle well and toss it with a small amount of olive oil to keep it from sticking. You can use it right away, or keep it in the fridge for a day until needed.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Love

{ONE}

No-School-November! This might be a horrible {love} to broadcast, but I love the school month of November because it goes by so quickly. We have a teacher work day, conference day, Veteran's Day, and Thanksgiving break. I will say it's chaotic, but there's no days off from the beginning of the year until Veteran's Day so I am always happy to see November come!

{TWO}

Halloween in the suburbs. Remember when I had my mini-meltdowns over moving to the suburbs? Most of the time I'm over it. I do have an occasional pang of sadness when I think about our first house together, our old neighborhood, and our more adventurous lifestyle, but suburbia has grown on me. Thursday we actually got to have the suburban Halloween experience. I was strangely looking forward to this. I was somewhat disappointed at our turnout. I was expecting a million kids, but we really didn't get that many. I'm chalking it up to a little bit of rain and my lame neighbors not participating. Seriously, I have never seen so many dark houses.

{THREE}




{FOUR}



{FIVE}

Google Chrome. Everyday when I go to work and have to use my HP laptop (that takes an eternity to start up and half the time after it's started up I have to restart it because my novell applications won't open) I miss my Apple. But what's worse is we are still living it up in the dark ages with internet explorer to boot. I just really wish that every time I want to google something I could just have the luxury of typing it in the spacebar. Google Chrome...thank you for being efficient.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oktoberfest, Round 2!


This weekend we had another Oktoberfest! You can read about Oktoberfest, Round One, here. This round the food was a little more authentic. We held our festivities in conjunction with the Rimkus' turn for game night, so they did most of the cooking. There was a variety of brats, german potato salad, german chocolate cake, sauerkraut, and lots of non-German snacks. I made spaetzel and soft pretzels. Everyone provided a lot of seasonal beverages including Oktoberfests, pumpkin beer, and pumpkin pie shots. I still highly recommend this theme as a fall extravaganza. 

Saturday was also the day that I decided I would have never been able to cut it as a German housewife. I plan to write a whole entire post on spaetzel making, but let me tell you it is one of the craziest, most interesting things I have made in my life. Never, ever again, friends. The soft pretzels on the other hand, I can't wait to make again. We ended the celebration with some lovely American pastimes - football and baseball. We watched Penn State get demolished by Ohio State almost instantly, and then switched to the World Series where things didn't go too much better for the Red Sox. At least Matt and I were in good company :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Love

{ONE}

Birthday Breakfast. The last Friday of each month at my school is Birthday Breakfast. Each team takes a month and they make breakfast for the whole staff to celebrate the birthdays that were had during that month. It's the best. There is so much good food that you never have the time for any other morning. Great tradition.

{TWO}

Wegmans. I have written many times on my blog about my love affair with my Wegmans. It makes grocery shopping a pleasurable experience. Everything is just so clean and fresh looking in my Wegs. I also truly believe they have the best prices in Northern Virginia. This is a battle that Matt and I continuously have, but I think he's even come to my side at this point.

{THREE}

Fall Weather. This is the first week I feel like we got our first real week of fall weather. It was a little bit of a shock to the system, but I'm happy it's here. I enjoy the crispness along with the sunshine :)

{FOUR}

Chick-Fil-A. Last Friday my school had a social outing at a local Chick-Fil-A. The music teacher at my school won a party for 50 people and graciously donated it to all of us. We got to order whatever we wanted to eat. We also got the opportunity to take a backstage tour. The owner of the Chick took us through the kitchen and showed us around. The most impressive parts were the pop machines that run under the floor all the way to the cash register area, and my favorite...I got to see the real chicken breasts that they use for their sandwiches. I have a "thing" about chicken breasts...and I'm still impressed with how good they looked unbreaded.

{FIVE}

FRIDAY!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Half-sies?

A few years ago I was going through a little stage where everything ended in "sies"...half-sies is one of the "sies" that has remained in my regular vocabulary. For example: "do you want halfsies?" The halfsies I want to talk about today though is a half marathon. Yes, you read that correctly. I want to talk about a half marathon.

About a month ago I posted about looking into new hobbies. I decided to get better with my blogging. I taught myself to arm knit. Recently, I have been considering training for a half marathon. There's one problem. I don't run (really ever), and I don't like it every time I try it. So I can't decide...should I commit myself to training for this and completing the Pittsburgh half in May? Then there's the fact that I only want to run the half marathon in Pittsburgh...one of the hilliest places ever. Maybe not the smartest, but it's probably the most motivating city I could pick. I also know my limits and wouldn't plan to run the entire way. I would train for a walk/run.

I think the pros would be exercise, something to look forward to, the training would last the majority of this ridiculous school year, and participating in a half marathon would be a big accomplishment. The cons...I don't like the sport of running, in order to not die on mile eight I would have to be serious about the training (even through the winter months), and not really knowing what to expect I guess. Some days I think the pros far outweigh the cons, but then others I think to myself....13.1 miles of terror. So, seriously, what do you think? To halfsies or not to halfsies. My goal is to make the decision over the weekend.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Grilled Jalapeno Poppers
I made these to take to our PSU tailgate. Prior to this weekend I had only had this recipe with the peppers being baked in the oven, so I was a little nervous about how this would go on the grill, but it worked out great. I prepped all the peppers in Virginia, meaning I had them all sliced and stuffed, and then just grilled them at the tailgate. So these are a great make ahead snack for any occasion. And if you choose to bake them instead, just place them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 425. They were a huge hit, so I highly suggest this simple recipe.

Ingredients:
3/4 pound pork sausage
8oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
50 jalapenos

Directions:
Brown sausage in a skillet until cooked through. Set aside to cool. Slice jalapenos in half lengthwise. Clean out seeds. Combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and sausage. Fill eat jalapeno half with cream cheese mixture. Place stuffed peppers on the grill until the pepper is soft and filling is bubbly.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Homecoming!


Last weekend Matt and I joined my family in State College for Penn State's homecoming game. I don't think I have been more excited for a weekend away for a long time. It's no secret how much I love Penn State, but I was extra excited since we were all going for the same weekend and we were all going to the game. Matt and I also took Friday off so that we could go to the homecoming parade. That turned out to be a big flop, but I did get to do a little afternoon bar tour with my brother-in-law and his parents, eventually to be joined by my parents and sister, while Matt studied in the library. Worth the vacation day.


My aunt, uncle, and cousins also joined us for tailgating!
Saturday we spent all day tailgating. We had so much great food. This year our tailgate had the addition of a tailgate pizza oven. Tailgating is so interesting. I feel like the stakes get higher every year. I would love to be independently wealthy (for a lot of reasons) to be able to travel around and tailgate at different colleges to see what they do.

Tailgate pizza oven
This year for homecoming we played Michigan. After losing by 20 points to Indiana the week before I don't think people had a whole lot of hope. Naturally, being the Penn State football optimist, I knew they were going to win. What I didn't know is that it was going to be one of the best games I have ever attended. I would also like to note that during this game we were completely surrounded by Michigan frat boys. It was one of the most annoying situations I have ever found myself in. Things started looking up when we took an early lead and the frat boys quickly lost their luster. The massive amounts of alcohol they were drinking all day also started catching up with them and they were fighting falling asleep and/or vomiting for the entire second quarter. After we got through that, the game was awesome. It started looking bad at the start of the second half when Michigan caused some turnovers and took the lead, but Penn State never gave up. At the end of regulation they drove the length of the field to send the game to overtime (four overtimes really). Let me add that Christian Hackenberg is no joke. That kid is going to be ridiculous over the next few years. 

Blue Band at halftime
I was ecstatic they won! I am also so happy we took the weekend to go away for this game. I actually went back to work happy on Monday. I am currently ranking this as my third best game experience in Happy Valley. I will never forget one my first ever Penn State games in 2002 (my freshman year!) when we played Nebraska. It was by far the sickest football game I have ever attended. Beaver Stadium was so loud, and it was such a huge game to win, and I was in the student section which is the best place to sit in the stadium to get the full effect of Happy Valley if you ask me. A close second would be the PSU vs. OSU game in 2005 (my senior year!). Both teams were ranked. PSU had 2 rough seasons my sophomore and junior years...there was big hope in Happy Valley that we might get to BCS bowl. Again, Beaver Stadium was continuously loud. When they played zombie nation that year there was a constant feeling the stadium might collapse. I can remember each of those two games so well. 

While this weekend was so good, it was also nice to come home to a grown up house and lifestyle. I did find myself laughing a lot this weekend about the way life use to be. When we were out and about in town it was just so funny to look at and observe some of the things that you forget are so "normal" when you a college student. My favorite was seeing 3 girls come out of a single bathroom stall. At first I thought to myself "what the hell." Then I remembered I use to do that. When you are 21 that's where all of your most philosophical and profound conversations use to happen...in the stall of a bathroom, in a dive bar, at 1 a.m. I think I can happily say I'm enjoying my new higher standard of living, but having my biggest responsibility be getting to the football game on time, or making it to class would be nice. 






Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Love

It has been such a busy week. I have a lot of catching up to do over the weekend...mostly cleaning, life organizing, and some blog posts. For now, though, I'm so happy it's Friday. Enjoy some love, and have a great weekend.

{ONE}

Pillows. You never really, truly know the importance of a pillow until you spend a weekend without one. This past weekend at Penn State we stayed in a cabin (I'm going to make this a shorter story than it could be. Just accept we stayed in a cabin.) Matt and my bedroom consisted of two sets of bunk beds. I remembered to pack linens and towels, but we forgot our pillows. Let me add the bedroom of our cabin contained no heat. After doing some creative arranging of the bedding provided, things were looking up, but I can tell you my quality of sleep would have drastically increased with the addition of a pillow. I have never been so happy to sleep in my own bed on Sunday night. I still wish we took a picture of that sleeping situation.

{TWO}

This article has to be one of the funniest things I have read in a while. I love facebook as much as the next person, and am guilty of some of the behaviors described, but I'm sure you can identify with all of the facebook personalities listed there. Seriously read it, or skim it, for yourself. I guarantee you will be laughing thinking of all your facebook friends. My favorite is "The Cryptic Cliffhanger."

{THREE}


Sparkly armpits. One of the great things about being an elementary school counselor is the great deodorant talk I find myself give a couple times a year. Well I found myself giving one of my best speeches yet Wednesday afternoon. Some of our lovely girls on the run were in need, who was I to say 'no.' Somewhere between me talking about working hard and running and trying to give them a free deodorant sample, I found myself preaching about sparkly armpits (mostly because these weird little samples they give my pubescent friends are now glittery). I don't know where it came from, but I think it made an impact. Everyone was leaving that day talking to their moms and even their dads about their sparkly armpits!

{FOUR}

Squash. Yes, I'm serious. Squash. I love vegetables, but we were always eating the same ones. Mostly broccoli and asparagus, and the occasional brussel sprout. Well this summer I started with zucchinis and yellow squash and found a new love for them. Last week I went into the spaghetti squash realm...and am trying to like it, but it's not as easy. And yes, I'm still trying to like pumpkin flavored items.

{FIVE}

I always am talking about how much I LOVE Katerina's, and how it's the only place worth eating in the suburbs. Well a few weeks ago Matt made us go somewhere else. We tried Nora in Gainesville. It was very good. I would definitely go back. It reminded me of making Lebanese grape leaves with my freshman year roommate. So good.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Friday Love

I got so carried away with number {ONE} on my list that I forgot to post {Friday Love}...so here's a little Sunday love! 

{ONE}

As you are reading this you should know that I am being reunited with so many of my greatest loves. Matt and I are joining my whole family in State College this weekend for Penn State's homecoming game against Michigan! I am seriously so thrilled. I am really, really hoping that I bring some of that Happy Valley air back with me to Virginia. I am sure this trip will warrant it's own post in the future, so enough on that for now.

{TWO}

THIS SONG.

{THREE}

In last week's Friday Love I mentioned my new addiction to New Girl. Well, another show I got addicted to through Netflix is Parenthood. Does anyone else watch this? I never hear anyone talk about it, but I think it's pretty good.

{FOUR}

Pumpkin cookies. A great fall recipe. I actually made these last night to take for out tailgate at PSU. Let me tell you (again) I am not a pumpkin fan, but these cookies are ridiculously good.

{FIVE}

Arm knitting. I saw a picture of scarf I really liked on Pinterest a few months ago, so I clicked on it. Turns out some chick "arm-knitted" it. I decided to give it a try. It turns out it's super easy. Again, I think I can write a whole post on this. Maybe I will quit my job and become an arm-knitter.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

The Best Pork Marinade
Yay! I love this. We really eat it all the time. I use to make just plain pork tenderloin with maybe some seasoning salt or something, but this is way, way better. And it's super easy. Whenever I buy pork tenderloin I buy a big pack of them. Then I separate them and put them in the freezer. So whenever we have this it's already in a big ziploc for me to marinate it. I suggest overnight, but a couple hours will work too!

Ingredients:
1⁄2 cups olive oil
1⁄3 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp parsley
2 tsp dry mustard
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1-lb. pork tenderloin

Directions:
I cook the pork with all the marinade in a baking dish in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 450. After it is cooked through, remove and slice. I then spoon the marinade from the baking dish over the sliced meat.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Love

In this first edition of {Friday Love} I am all over the place. Maybe we could call it a Friday of old loves and new loves. I hope to become more focused and planned as the Fridays go on, but for now enjoy the first ever Friday Love.

{ONE - AN OLD RECIPE}

This past week I made Eggplant Parmesan. It's time consuming, but so worth it. When I went back through my blog to find my post about it it was 2 years to the day I was looking it up (also my sister's birthday). Must be the time of year that gets me thinking about it! It's funny to see my old plates and countertops too! I've heard a lot of people say that writing a blog is self-centered, or egotistical, and maybe it kind of is, but I think it's really cool to be able to look back over the last 3 years and see what I was doing during a certain period in my life...even if it's just remember what our countertops and plates looked like.

{TWO - A NEW TEAM}


Yes, friends, my love-hate relationship with Girls on the Run is back in session. Our team started on Monday. We have our smallest team ever thanks to "strategic advertising." I am pretty excited about our small team. I think it makes the most difference for the girls and definitely keeps me sane.

{THREE - AN OLD GIFT}

Last Christmas my sister gave me a subscription to Birchbox. I had never heard of it. The concept is pretty simple. You receive a small box every month of different beauty products. It can be anything really...skincare, nail polish, make-up, small accessories, etc. Then you can review the products and accumulate points. The points add up to money you can use to buy products on the site. I am not huge into beauty products, but I did enjoy getting my box every month. My favorites were the nail polish and hair products.

{FOUR - NEW GIRL}


At the end of the summer, when I was finished babysitting and had some free time, I became addicted to the show New Girl. I saw that it was recently added to Netflix and watch the whole first season. I had tried to watch a few episodes on TV prior to this, but never really got what was going on. It was so nice to just be able to watch the entire season at my leisure. Then I was faced with a problem: Season two was not yet added to Netflix, but season three was starting to air. The night season three began, season two was added to Netflix. I was so happy. I watched the second season in a week and am so excited I can now just watch the new episodes on Fox with the rest of Jess' fans...true story. I'm torn between being proud and ashamed of watching all of season two that fast. First world problems. There's just so many good episodes. My current favorites being "Menzies," "Pepperwood," and "Eggs."

{FIVE - MY OLD CITY}


How exciting is it that the Pirates have made the playoffs? Can I tell you that the last time this happened I was beginning 3rd grade in 1992...this is also the last time they had a winning season. Twenty-one years. This is serious. I grew up going to a plethora of Pirates games. I remember watching Three Rivers Stadium implode in 2001 when I was a junior in high school and the opening of PNC Park when I was a senior. I love PNC Park. It's one of my favorite stadiums...definitely in the top 2 with Beaver Stadium at PSU. I'm sure the sheer fact that I'm blogging about them will bring them nothing but bad luck.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Calabacitas
You might know about my love affair with Wegmans. If you don't, it's serious. I drive past many grocery stores to shop there. I have since moving to Northern Virginia six years ago. It's far superior to any grocery store in my opinion. Well sometimes when I do my grocery shopping my Wegmans friends are giving food samples and just cooking away in the store. It's AWESOME! One lovely day during the Wegmans Hatch Chile Festival they were making this dish and they game me some. It was delicious so they gave me the recipe and I made it. It's a little summery, but I bet you could still find everything you need at WEGMANS! On a side note...I'm so happy it's October. I thought it would never come!

Ingredients:
Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic
1 small sweet onion
2 zucchini chopped
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup corn
1 cup roasted green chiles
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese
salt, pepper, and cumin to taste

Directions:
Heat oil in large skillet, add garlic, onion, and zucchini and cook until softened. Stir in salt, pepper, cumin, half and half, tomato, corn, and green chili. Cook on low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese to melt.

Friday, September 27, 2013

FRIDAYS

Ok blog readers...I have a few things to ask you. Let me start with a little back story. You might have sensed from my last post that I'm having a little bit of a rough go of it right now. I've recently decided that I should maybe start a new and exciting hobby. Maybe a new hobby would help me be excited about something, or at least give me something to look forward to besides the weekend and the month of June. I don't know what my new hobby should be though. So, any ideas? I mean seriously look at that link I posted above...those are some interesting hobbies.

I did remember that blogging is one of my hobbies and maybe I should try to put more effort into my blogging, however, one of my blogging principles is to not pressure myself to write a certain number of posts because then I might not like blogging anymore. I have been considering doing a "new segment" entitled something like "Friday Love" when I post like a top five of things I love right now, or I post a bunch of links to things around the internet on Fridays. I read a couple of blogs that do things like this and I enjoy reading, or clicking, them. What do you think...top five list, or links to other things on the internet you might like reading?



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Food for Thought

I've had a few "come to Jesus moments" with myself recently, and this weekend I did a lot of thinking. I guess I just want to share them on my blog because maybe someone needs to be reminded of it themself. After all, it's really easy to lose sight of all the positive things and people in our lives. I really got to thinking last Friday. It was our scheduled game night, and we had decided to make a come back to the bowling alley. I was looking forward to it all week. But after the work day finally ended I was just done and over it, I didn't think I wanted to go out anymore. After talking with a coworker and calling Matt (who was supposed to meet me at bowling), I decided to go. Best decision that I could have made. I even got a "rooster" in the 10th frame. I guess that's the whole reason I am writing this post. Yes, I'm writing a post because getting a rooster at cosmic bowling on a Friday night really showed me the meaning of life...this isn't dramatic at all. Things like your family, and game night, and the time you spend on the weekends with the people you choose to spend it with is what really matters. Those people you choose to spend time with and how they make you feel is how you should form the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself. There's always going to be someone or something that gets in the way and makes you feel less than, or doubt yourself, and it's hard, but all you can do is try your best and remember what really matters.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
I told you in my last recipe that I had a recipe for a hot quinoa dish. Well here ya go. I think it turned out pretty good, and surprisingly Matt loved these. They were pretty easy to make too. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
6 Portobello Sliders (I'm sure you could use 2-4 regular sized mushrooms too)
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
3 handfuls of fresh spinach
2 roma tomatos diced
goat cheese
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Directions:
Marinate portobellos in olive oil and vinegar for an hour or two before beginning this recipe. Once the mushrooms are marinated roast in the over for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile cook quinoa according to the directions on the package. Once quinoa is cooked through add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Add spinach and tomatoes to quinoa and mix together. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and top with quinoa mixture. Sprinkle goat cheese on top. Place back in the oven for about 3 minutes. Yay!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thirty.


I'm thirty. Officially. And I survived. It was quite a weekend. On Friday I was having a leisurely morning all to myself enjoying the Today show and looking at Facebook and whatever else I felt like doing. Basically I was delaying the inevitable...my job. I finally got myself together and drove to work. I received the following text from Julie Rimkus: "What is up? Stopping for breakfast? I'm dying for McD's?" My thoughts: "Is she pregnant?" and who says "What IS up?" Then I thought something might be up since that was completely random and I was later than usual for work and someone must have noticed. So I strolled on into work and turned the corner to my office which I thought might have people waiting for me, but it just looked dark and the same so I figured maybe Julie Rimkus was in fact pregnant, hungry for McDonald's, and doesn't know the appropriate use of slang. Then I looked in the window and saw the madness and 10 people shoved in there hiding in the dark for probably the last half hour when I felt like taking my gold old time. All the pictures on my blog today are of my office surprise. 



RUDE.
Sunday was my actual birthday. Matt suggested going on a shopping trip so I could pick out what I wanted for my birthday. I took him up on that offer and we spent the day at Tyson's doing some shopping. Earlier in the week I said to Matt that I was going to look up some restaurants I might want to go to for my birthday. He kept asking me why I wanted to do that and wasn't there only one choice. Thoroughly confused I asked him what he was talking about and he told me that the only restaurant worth eating at was Katerina's. While I was glad he had finally come to this realization, I couldn't understand why he didn't want me to pick the restaurant for my birthday. I thought he was kidding so I dropped it. I brought it back up on Saturday and he was adamant that we should go to Katerina's. This is when I thought something was up. He started telling me that we had to come all the way home after Tyson's so that he could cut the grass and shower. And that's what we did. I decided not to be difficult about it since he was probably already trying not to freak out about whatever surprise I thought was happening. When he stalled all evening long insisting that we could not possibly leave the house until he was done reading an article about Alex McCandless (the guy from Into the Wild) and his death, I could only imagine who was waiting at Katerina's.

I did decide to make things interesting on the car ride. I threw a fake fit about how I really wanted to go to Founding Farmers and this was so unfair. I probably said a lot of other ridiculous things to keep the ride entertaining, but we still went to Katerina's where all my friendsies were waiting. It was great and obviously I love Katerina's so I was happy to go there. It was a wonderful weekend and I am very thankful for all of my thoughtful and generous friends and husband for making turning 30 not so bad, and even a little exciting. That being said, when we got home we watched an episode of Mad Men and as I was getting up off the couch I started complaining about my sore hip and sore feet. Seriously, this happened. I immediately told myself to stop sounding like I was 30.

*Disclaimer: Julie Rimkus is not pregnant.




Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Summer Quinoa Salad
I know summer is over, but I'm a little behind in my recipes. And really every produce item is basically available year round so I'm sure you can still make this now, or in February if you want. I love quinoa. Mostly I like it cold like in this recipe, but I have a hot quinoa recipe coming up soon. Apparently its some wonder food, so it's worth a try.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
Strawberries
Blueberries
Arugula/Spinach mix
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
Cook quinoa according to the directions on the package. When quinoa is cooked add olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Let chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. Remove from fridge and add spinach/arugula (about 4 or so oz.), sliced strawberries (I probably used about 3/4 pound), and a couple handfuls of blueberries. Mix together and add olive oil or lemon if needed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Labor Day/Oktoberfest


Over Labor Day weekend Matt and I traveled to Pittsburgh to visit my family. My sister wanted to throw an Oktoberfest party and requested our presence. I believe the idea started as a way to try all the seasonal beers that come out in the fall, but then took on a German theme as well. The menu for the day included brats, sausages, hot dogs, and kielbasa for the main course as well as soft pretzels, potato salad, and other various sides. The assignment: everyone had to bring a hard to find, unique, or seasonal brew. For those of you who don't know, the majority of my extended family lives in Pittsburgh and joined in this event as well. 

I did research online about where we could get some different beers in Pittsburgh. We ended up venturing into New Kensington to the House of 1000 Beers. I have to tell you this place turned out to be a little bit of a gem. While shopping among the 1,000 beers we enjoyed one of their 40 beers that they have on tap...and none of them were your average beer. They had an entire section dedicated to pumpkin beer and oktoberfest. We each bought a six pack...none of the beers we had ever tasted before. Matt chose one he still is talking about as the best beer of his life...and it should be since it cost $9. I found the beer pictured above (Sweet Baby Jesus - a chocolate peanut butter stout - not that amazing) and bought it for my mom since she really likes Jesus (and I'm sure really appreciates me posting it on my blog). 

This was a great event to welcome fall. And since there is still plenty of time left between now and the end of October you can have your very own Oktoberfest! Just make sure to invite us!



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Chicken and Eggplant Stir-Fry
This was not an all star recipe. The problem was with the sauce. Wayyyy to salty. And from someone who adds extra salt to everything, that's saying something. Maybe a chicken and eggplant involved stir-fry with a different sauce is the way to go next time. Or maybe little less soy sauce and some more wine? You be the judge.

Ingredients:
(for 2 people)
2 chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 small eggplant, in 3/4 inch pieces
3 jalapenos, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup basil leaves
3 cups cooked rice

Directions:
In a large skillet with olive oil cook chicken until golden. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate. Add eggplant and olive oil to the skillet and cook until soft. Stir in jalapeno and garlic. Add 1/2 cup water, wine, soy sauce, cooked chicken, and 2/3 cup basil leaves; simmer 3-5 minutes until thickened. Serve over rice with remaining basil.



Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Warm Up

I typically call the week before school starts "warm up week." You get back into a schedule, but you have a little more freedom with your lunch time, social schedule, etc. This week was one for the books. I'm not going to elaborate. All I can say is this was the most unpredictable, ridiculous week in the history of my professional back to school career. I will leave it at that. Here's to hoping things don't continue during the actual school year, and that the current state of education gets it's act together pronto.

In more positive news this is also the warm up weekend for college football. It's the one redeeming quality of back to school season. Matt and I are in Pittsburgh this weekend to spend some time with my family. I'm excited to watch Penn State in Pennsylvania with my other PSU faithful, even if they are that playing in New Jersey this weekend. I just love Penn State so much! And I love watching College Gameday on Saturday mornings in the fall! WE ARE!!!!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

So Long Sweet Summer.

I stumbled upon you and gratefully basked in your rays. I really did. I hit peak tan about July 26th. I love sunbathing. So long sweet slumber. While I did wake up bright and early most of the summer, I did have more restful sleep. And the past two weeks that I've had off I have been taking advantage of extra sleep. I fell into you, now you're gracefully falling away. Work week is happening and it's almost September.

Hey thanks, thanks for that summer. Thanks to everyone who made my summer great. My babysitting friends, my game night friendsies, and our road trips to Pittsburgh and New England and celebrating our first anniversary. It's cold where you're going. It will be cold, but first it will be fall which means football and college gameday. And if it's cold maybe that will be a 2 week blizzard. I hope that your hearts always warm.

I gave you the best, I gave you the best that I had. I really did. Even if it meant 3 hour and 45 minute battles over cup of noodles, burned arms, cooking a lobster, driving countless hours in traffic, and visiting 12 states. Passed down the letters and passed down the best that I had.

So long sweet summer. I will miss you and all my free time and anxiety free mornings, noons, and nights. I stumbled upon you and gratefully basked in your rays. I will miss my tan. So long sweet slumber. I fell into you, now you're gracefully falling away. I hate the winter in Lexington. I hate the winter in Lexington. Lexington, Lexington, Lexington. Virginia, Virginia, Virginia.

So this might have been one of the weirder posts I have ever composed, and Age Six Racer probably has some way deeper, darker meaning, but I'm taking it at face value and saying So Long Sweet Summer. (I may or may not sing this at the top of my lungs multiple times between 10 minutes ago and tomorrow morning at 8:45). I know I am lucky and get more of a summer break than most, but it's always really hard to go back to work after such a nice long break. Here's to a fabulous summer in the suburbs with a new home and continuing to make good memories at game nights and on vacations to see our families. And here is to the 2013-2014 school year. It already promises to be no less than interesting. 


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Recipe of the Week!

Lobster
I know I said that my last post was the last one, but I guess this could be counted as a vacation post. Especially since the only place I would really eat a lobster is on vacation in Maine. I think thats the first time I ever really had lobster 2 years ago. Growing up my dad was allergic to shellfish, and my sister developed the allergy as well, so we never really ate any of it. When we went to Maine I wanted to learn how to make lobster. Matt's mom came up one night to teach us how. 

Before.


This picture was taken right before the lobster snapped his tail
and Matt threw it behind him across the kitchen. I wish I would have caught that.
There really isn't a recipe, recipe. I think the highlights of the process are boiling a large, salted pot of water. After the water boils, drop in the lobsters and cover the pot. Note the time that the water starts to boil again and let them boil for another 16ish minutes (that was for 1-1.5 pound lobsters)...more or less depending on the size. Serve with butter and lemon (because I LOVE lemon). We also had some salad and roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes.