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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Weekend Lolling

As I’m typing this I’m doing the ultimate in lolling. I’m laying on the couch sipping a beer (with lime!) as other people are doing my dirty work. Literally!

A few months ago Bryan and I attended a silent auction for charity. Since it was charity we got a little crazy with our bidding (free wine bar passes might have had something to do with it too) and won various items. One of which was a professionally landscape designed planned for our yard. Yeah, we needed it.

We are starting to implement this plan, although slowly, as it starts heating up. We will be getting rid of the majority of plants back there. But they are not going to waste! My husband’s family wanted several features we were getting rid of. This is awfully convenient for us. They do the digging and hard labor and we’re left with a clean slate! If I didn’t have family wanting the plants, I’d consider posting the plants on Craigslist. But let’s face it, how many people really want free monkey grass?!

Lolling at its best, my friends!

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Foodie Friday: Fire-Pot Soup

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Image via Eat, Live, Run

This might be my new favorite soup. My go to soup. My “had a bad day and want something cozy” soup.

Bonus? It’s really really easy and doesn’t take hours and hours of simmering to get amazing flavor.

While it is curry based, like Josh’s favorite soup, it’s a much lighter soup. The original recipe calls for a mixture of tofu and shrimp, but I just did all shrimp, and it was delicious. I need to find a good brand of tofu before I risk ruining anything as precious as this soup.

Note: The recipe calls for simmering a stalk of lemon grass and some pierced chilis in the broth for about ten minutes near the end. I did, but I can’t say that I tasted all that much of a difference. All that to say, if you can’t do this step, it will still be a super tasty soup.

Also, the recipe calls for curry paste (which is key). I’m lucky enough to have a decent ethnic aisle at my grocery store and had trouble finding it. You might have to go to an Asian market though.

Hot Pot Soup (original recipe)

1 lb raw shrimp (I bought frozen peeled tails off)

3 tbsp thai curry paste

1 tbsp canola oil

6 basil leaves, torn

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 14-oz can coconut milk

2 cups chicken broth

1 6-inch stalk lemongrass

1/2 lime, juiced

2 red or green Thai chilies, pierced with a knife

1/2 cup dry jasmine rice

cilantro for serving

Directions:

Cook the rice with a cup and a half of water, preferably in your rice cooker, and set aside.

Heat a tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook shrimp til pink, about 30 seconds. Remove and set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in the skillet and add curry paste. Smash the two together for about 2 minutes, until well combined. Stir in the coconut milk and chicken broth.

Add all of the remaining ingredients (minus the shrimp, rice, and cilantro) and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lemongrass and chilis. Chop up the shrimp and stir them in.

Put a small amount of rice in the bottom of a bowl and then ladle the soup over it. Sprinkle on chopped cilantro and enjoy!

 

Working It Out: FAIL

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As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I started doing the Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD. I got about a week and a half into it and was actually starting to enjoy it, in a warped, sadistic sort of way. I was even seeing results already. Things were getting a little tighter, and I was feeling better.

Then, my knee started bothering me. I injured it back in middle school, but, come on, that was a long time ago. Apparently I do have scar tissue in it or something though, because even though I started modifying the routine and not doing the high impact sections, my knee just kept getting worse.

So I stopped.

It took a good two weeks for my knee to start feeling semi normal and not like it was going to give out on me.

It’s as if I wasn’t meant to work out! I tried, and my body rebelled.

Unfortunately for my body (or really, fortunately), I’m not giving up. I’ve started looking for very low impact routines that focus mainly on my core, which is the area I really want to work on anyway. Right now the current contender is Crunch: Pick Your Spot Pilates

There are a few reasons I’m going to start this routine.

1) It almost completely excludes using my knee.

2) Abs, butt, and thighs each get their own 10 minute routine, so you can do one or all of them, depending on your time/focus.

3) It’s available for free on my Netflix Instant. Just being honest.

My plan is to start is this weekend, so we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have a positive update.

 

 

Travel Planning: Summer 2012

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Bryan and I are in serious talks for a summer vacation. FINALLY! Guess all that daydreaming is starting to pay off.

We’re planning on visiting family in Norfolk, VA for part of the time. While we’re in that area we are also talking about going to DC or perhaps making it a “Virginia is for Lovers” tour of the major cities in Viriginia.

So, lollers, I need you to step up and give us some advise. What would you recommend for Norfolk, Richmond, Charlottesville, Virginia, and/or DC? I am taking recommendations for the following:

– places to stay

– things to see

– places to eat

– regional beer to try or visit

– things we should absolutely avoid

– things we should absolutely without-a-doubt go out of our way to see/do/consume/etc

For your efforts you will be rewarded with a full trip recap.

 

Things We Love: Local Food

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Josh and I rolled out of bed early for once this Saturday and hit up the Franklin Farmers Market. It was kind of an exploratory mission to see if we could stick in our current grocery budget and still support local farmers (did we ever).

This is definitely going to be our new Saturday tradition. Even though I love love LOVE sleeping in on Saturdays, it’s worth it. We loved getting to talk to the farmers, and even got tips on how to best take care of some of the herbs we already have. Also? We got to eat this, the greatest biscuit of all time:

It was a biscuit with the most tender piece of spicy fried chicken I’ve ever eaten, honey drizzle, and homemade pickles.

Pretty sure Josh and I were both dancing as we inhaled it. This will be our new Saturday breakfast, I can tell. It came from a brand new food truck called Biscuit Love, and holy moly, worth every penny.

We also got herbs, spinach, colorful cauliflower, local honey, fresh peas (I tracked down and grabbed the very last bunch), garlic scapes, eggs, pork chops, radishes, and squash. Whew. Here’s our haul:

Oh, and we ate fresh strawberry glazed donuts.

Yeah, I’d say it was a success.

Anyone else a big fan of their local farmers market?

We love our farmers!

Foodie Friday: Vodka Sauce

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Back in my single days, there were a few dishes that my then roommate and I used to make regularly because we loved them so much. One of them was penne with vodka sauce. We tried multiple recipes, and finally found…the one. The most magical one. Easy, creamy, a little sweet, with a good spicy twist.

When Josh and I started dating, I sort of filed that dish away mentally as “something I’ll make one day when he’s not around.” Then I forgot about it. I mean, it had a cup of heavy cream in it. Not something he could eat.

Over the last few months, I started craving it again. Then one day I realized, duh, coconut milk would work perfectly for the cream. So I started trying to hunt down the elusive recipe and couldn’t find any that looked right. Luckily, my old roommate has typed it into a Google doc and saved it at one point, so there was no need for tears (it was close).

We have no idea where we got this recipe, but it is, in my opinion, the best vodka sauce of all time. No biggie.

Josh’s response to this dish? “Why have you been holding out on me?!”

Note: To make it vegan, I switch out coconut milk for the heavy cream. Since the coconut milk is naturally sweeter, I omit the sugar from the recipe. Also, I always double the amount of red pepper flakes for a good kick.

Penna With Vodka Cream Sauce

  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (double for extra kick)
  • 1/2 c vodka
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (about 8 leaves)
  • 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 lb pasta

Cook pasta according to directions, making sure to reserve some of the pasta water.

Process garlic through garlic press into small bowl and stir in 1 tsp water. Heat olive oil and garlic and red pepper flakes in saute pan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add vodka and simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in cream, ground black pepper to taste, basil, sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt. At this point you can transfer the sauce to food processor and pulse to a course puree. I actually prefer to leave it a little chunky so I don’t bother to do this. Return sauce to pan and simmer over medium heat to thicken for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add a small amount of pasta water to add flavor.

Serve over pasta and enjoy!

(We would usually drink our beloved lemon drops with this) 

 

 

Garden Grows: First Harvest

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We got our first reward from the garden!

Tiny, but delicious.