Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chili and Cornbread

Chili and cornbread is a meal the I remember having for many Halloweens. After hearing a friend talk about eating chili all week and my Mom telling me that she was making some, I HAD to make a batch myself! :) My Mom's recipe calls for Bush's chili beans...they have chili seasoning already in them. However, they were nowhere to be found! So, I did what any person would...improvise. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 cans chili beans (this was an organic medley of beans found in chili- nothing added, just beans)
1 can of black beans
1 HUGE yellow onion
1 TB cocoa powder
chili powder
garlic salt
pepper

Directions:
Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili beans, and black beans into a crock pot (or huge pot on the stove). Turn the crock pot on to start heating them up. By the way I did this the quick way and had this on high for about 3 hours. Then, in a skillet, saute the chopped onion in some EVOO. Add the onion to the crock pot.

Here is where it got tricky...I didn't measure these ingredients out because I wasn't expecting to not have the Bush's chili beans. I sprinkled a good amount of garlic salt in the mix. Added a little more than half of the McCormick chili powder container. Grinded a TON of pepper. Then, while on the phone asking my Mom desperately for advice, she suggested I add some cocoa! I added about a tablespoon of cocoa into the mix and it REALLY made the dish!

I also made some jalapeno/corn cornbread muffins!

Ingredients:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 TB sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter (real butter, not that fake tub butter)
3/4 cup corn
3-4 TB chopped jalapenos

Directions:
Mix dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in one bowl. Mix butter, milk, and eggs in another. WARNING: make sure to melt the butter and let it cool before you mix it with the milk and eggs. I had a little mishap and mixed it in at room temperature. Let me just tell you that it wasn't pretty. Now, you can add the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Add the jalapenos and corn. Plop into a 12 piece muffin pan and bake for about 20 minutes on 425. You'll want to watch these at around 15 minutes just to make sure they don't burn. I guess all ovens are different.

And here is the finished product!!

IMG_2601IMG_2603IMG_2606IMG_2613IMG_2612IMG_2616

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nanaw, hot chocolate, and papers

I hope everyone is getting excited for all of the Halloween festivities tonight! I decided that I will stay in this year so that I can actually to do stuff that I want to do. For example, catch up on 90210 and read cookbooks. When I haven't had a lot of "me" time, which is typical around this time of the school year, being around a crowd really irritates me. So, no Halloween stuff for me tonight and I'm perfectly fine with that! :)

I have a big paper due in my cognitive science class in about a week and a half. I'm happy to report that I have roughly 3 pages left to meet the minimum length requirement. I almost didn't think this would happen. About 8 pages into writing the paper I realized that I should have picked another topic. I decided to write mine on the differences/similarities between cognitive and behavioral models of choice. Although I know a lot about decision making, it's definitely not the field I'm most interested in...so this paper has been tedious to write. At least I'm learning a lot! Also, I realized that I'm basically writing a math paper...


I always love sipping on warm drinks while I do work. Somehow, I feel like it helps fuel the creative juices...obviously this is not true haha. Have y'all heard of the "Pick-Me-Up" hot chocolate? It has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee! The only bad thing about single serving pouches of hot chocolate is the fact that I can't add a ton. I love my hot chocolate with "molten lava" floating at the top...as you can see...no lava there, just marshmallows!


Yesterday was really productive...I got just about all of my letter writer's materials together! As you will see, I'm a little OCD when it comes to organizing things...


I'm sure you're wondering what the heck "Nanaw" is? Well...it's a nickname that a certain someone started calling me about a year ago. You see, I have this problem: when the clock strikes 10pm I get a bad case of the yawns...which then leads to me fall asleep shortly thereafter. I mean, I will fall asleep mid-conversation, while watching a movie that I actually want to see, and during various other things. It's quite problematic. James basically decided that Nanaw, in other words a nickname that meant GRANDMA, was fitting. Obviously it stuck because this happens all the time. While this name started because of my tendency to fall asleep early, he also uses it refer to how I hate sleeping in, have to have my meals at certain times, and lots of other things. However, I am happy to report that I didn't go to sleep until 12:30 last night...and I never once semi-fell asleep. I guess today, for once, I won't be referred to as Nanaw ;)

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! Remember when were were in elementary school when we'd be counting down the days until Friday? Yes, I know we still do this now, but we did this for a different reason then. Can anyone guess why???

T.G.I.F.!!!

That line up was so good. I remember everyone would watch that on Friday nights. Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Step by Step...can't get better than that! Those were the days when "sike" and "phat" were cool to use too.

Today I started off my "day off" by making a batch of banana/almond butter oatmeal. Yes, I used up the spotty bananas! A lot of people cook their oats on top of the stove but I usually microwave them because I don't have a lot of time in the morning. However, today I opted for stove top oats. Let me tell you, they tasted EXACTLY the same. I did whip the bananas with a hand mixer instead of mashing them to see if there was a difference...but nope! 

Today marks the day when I start my PhD program apps! So hopefully...coffee+oats=productivity?



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bananas

How do you all feel about bananas? I know that's an odd question to ask, but for me it's been a love/hate relationship. Growing up, I wasn't too fond of the funny shaped yellow fruit. It wasn't until college that I actually grew to like them. What changed?? Adding peanut butter to a (barely any green) banana! I hate the taste of a banana with any spots...the more spotty it gets...the worse it is. This became problematic when I started living on my own. Obviously they come in bunches of 5-8...so inevitably there would be 4 bananas that would be "bad" by the end of the week. There are a few remedies to this spotty banana problem:

1. Banana bread! Freeze the nanners and pull them out when you want to make the bread, or muffins.
2. Use them in oatmeal! Because the bananas are so sweet at this stage, you don't have to add additional sweetener to your oatmeal.

How do you use up spotty bananas? 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Step by Step Recipe

I hope everyone is having a good week so far! I am so excited to hear that a bunch of my friends read my blog. Apparently I'm doing something right with it haha. :) This is one of my favorite times of the year because the mountains look pretty with all of the leaves changing colors. For those of you who are JMU alumni, this was taken on the path as you are walking to the modular buildings from UREC. You can see the sidewalks in the background that lead up to ISAT.


Remember last week when I made the cupcakes? I only used 2 eggs, so I have 10 left to use. Because breakfast is probably my favorite meal, I figured I'd put the eggs to good use! I thought it would be neat to do a step by step recipe for those of you who might not be experienced in the kitchen.

Scrambled Eggs and Kale over Cheesy Grits
-1/4 cup grits
-slice of cheese (or more)
-half cup of kale (I eyeballed it since it was frozen)
-2-3 eggs

1. Compile all of your ingredients.


2. Microwave 1/4 cup grits for about 2 minutes...you'll want to check halfway through to add more water if needed. Add frozen kale (or spinach) to skillet. Scramble eggs.


 3. Pour eggs in skillet with the kale! [before]
 4. Done! [after]
 5. Stir the cheese into the grits. Put scrambled eggs and kale over the cheesy grits. Tada!

Yes, I know this doesn't look super appetizing. I mean, scrambled eggs + anything isn't a beautiful creation. However, it is good!! I am also a huge fan of baked eggs. I'll try to make that recipe soon! Have a great night!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Miscellaneous Things

Last Saturday I went to Staunton for a pre-birthday celebration...here are some pictures of the outing...

We went to The Depot Grill after we saw The Taming of the Shrew at the Blackfriar...

 

 Walked around town....downtown Staunton is absolutely beautiful. They have done a great job preserving many of the old buildings.



We ended the trip with a stop at The Split Banana Company for some amazing gelato...I got chocolate and cookies and cream!


Yesterday my Dad and his girlfriend came in town for the day! It was so nice to see them and catch up!:) The one present I'll mention is Crane's stationary. If any of you LOVE writing letters, thank you notes, or just writing notes...you will be hooked to Crane's after you buy one set. Many are around $12-$15 a box but they are well worth it if you can afford it. We stopped by A Bowl of Good for lunch. That's one of my favorite lunch spots in Harrisonburg because the food is amazing AND they buy local! :)

I have some exciting COOKBOOK news! I got a new one last night:


A bunch of the recipes that I will be making in the future will come out of this book. Obviously I won't be posting the recipe but I'll post the name and that it came from this book in case you end up wanting to buy it! The author seems extremely practical because he mentions ideas for leftovers for some of the recipes among other things. Also, the recipes are marked with symbols that note if a recipe is fast, vegan, or can be prepared ahead of time.

Lastly, I had pumpkin and apple cinnamon doughnuts this morning for breakfast. The doughnuts are from The Apple House in Linden, VA. My dad always brings them for me when he comes to visit:) 


It's time to actually do work now...I'm off to spend most of the day working on my thesis and a paper I have to write for my cognitive science class...




Friday, October 22, 2010

Welcome to the Mid-Twenties...

Welcome to the mid-20's! I turned 24 yesterday...crazy! Here's a little synopsis of my day.

I decided to wake up at 6:30 (a little early) so I could have a leisurely morning. I had the best bowl of oatmeal: 1/2 cup oats, milk, mashed banana, and a huge spoon of almond butter. Pure heaven is what it was. I played a little bit of this new game I got (nerd alert) called Torchlight. It's such a good game.


You know what I listened to today? The Mariah Carey Christmas album, on repeat. Every year I debate as to when the "start date" will be to listen to Christmas music. If I set the start date for after Thanksgiving, that doesn't give me enough time to enjoy the plethora of Christmas music in my iTunes library so I end up listening to Christmas music into January...which is weird. SO, I figured the only remedy would be to listen to it early. I had planned to allow myself to start listening Nov. 1st if I felt so inclined, but I wanted to yesterday and since it was my birthday I threw away my "rule." Hahaha. This sounds so silly but I'm sure everyone has their own idea of when you should be "allowed" to start listening to Christmas music...so I'd love to hear your opinion!! :)

After work, I gathered all of the ingredients to bake my birthday dessert. Yes, I know, make my own birthday dessert? 1. I wanted black bottom cupcakes. 2. I wanted to bake as a present to myself, since I don't get to often. 3. I didn't want store-bought dessert for once :)


I slightly altered this recipe by Joy of Baking to include a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips between the chocolate cake layer and the cheesecake topping! To make this recipe extra chocolate-y you could throw some into the chocolate cake batter...but you don't want it to be too rich as you're already pouring cheesecake batter on top! Haha. This was the result:




They were absolutely amazing!!! They are the first cupcakes that I've had in a long time that were not dried out at all!  I had a few friends over for wine and dessert last night and we ate 8 of the 24 that I made! I've already had 2 today and I'll probably have another before the day is over :)

All in all, a great birthday!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Catching up

Sorry I have been MIA lately. As most of you know, I re-took the GRE on October 8th then a few days later I had a midterm in my neuroscience class. Life was pretty crazy!!! I ended up increasing my score on the GRE by 90 points from a 1010 to an 1100. I was VERY happy with that and I'm thrilled that I don't have to take it again (except for the Psyc. GRE in a few weeks). I also ended up with an A- on my neuro midterm!

Over the past 2+ weeks I have really deviated from my normal schedule and it hasn't ended well haha...for example...

1. I bought desserts, plural. Cookies, ice cream, desserts at coffee shops...you name it, I ate it.


2. I ate fast food and drank soda. After I finished taking the GRE, I was dying of thirst and hunger. I  brought a water bottle full of water; however, those nifty BPA free aluminum containers get really hot! So needless to say, I needed water stat. The closest place to get something, besides a sketch gas station (they didn't have Sheetz or WaWa), was Wendy's. I hadn't had Wendy's in over a year...maybe year and a half. But the fries and diet coke were amazing.

3. I got pizza with MEAT. Need I say more?

4. I watched TV. I decided to use watching The Office as a reward for studying hard for the GRE. During a typical work/school week, I don't watch any of my shows (Glee, Modern Family, The Office, 90210) until the weekend. However, the week before I took the GRE, what does Netflix do? They put season 6 of The Office on instant play!

Thank goodness I am almost back to a normal schedule. I've decreased my caffeine intake and I'm going to the gym tomorrow. Ok, so what have I cooked lately? Well...not much. I pretty much lived off of almond butter and jelly sandwiches for the past 2 weeks...and spaghetti. Nothing too creative or extremely healthy. Sorry for the poor picture quality...I used my iPhone for these.

I finally wore this pair of lululemon socks that my Dad got for me this week. They are honestly the most comfortable socks I've ever worn. They are warm but also breathe well...a combination that I didn't know existed!


Mr. J's bagels  is one of my favorite breakfast joints in Harrisonburg. The morning of my neuro midterm I got a breakfast special...bacon and cheese on an asiago bagel...I probably had over 1000 calories in one sitting but it was well worth it.


During the week I also roasted squash and onions and put it over pasta. 


That's all for now...hopefully I'll be cooking something fun this week! :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I love oatmeal

When I was younger, I wasn't the biggest fan of oatmeal. That was when I had only tried the traditional type with raisins, milk, and cinnamon. However, once I was in high school, the wonderful world of oatmeal was revealed to me! I tried peaches and cream for the first time and I was forever hooked! In college I probably ate the cinnamon roll oatmeal every day for 2 years...absolutely amazing. There became a point when I realized that these oatmeal packets contained a ton of sugar (for what it was) and sometimes trans fat. That's when I began to make my own oatmeal! It's so fun because you can mix it up depending on your mood. Steel cut oats vs rolled oats...pumpkin...peanut butter...banana...there are endless flavor combinations! Because I made the pumpkin pancakes on Saturday, I've had about half a can of pumpkin leftover. So I figured the best way to use it up was to make pumpkin oatmeal! :)

Pumpkin Oatmeal

-1/2 cup oats
-add milk or water to make it the consistency you like (I prefer unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
-a few tablespoons pumpkin (3 maybe...didn't measure it)
-douse the whole thing with pumpkin pie spice!
-add any other toppings (banana, almond butter, walnuts)

The key to making this sweet is using very ripe bananas. I hate the taste of ripe bananas, I usually throw them in the freezer the second they get a brown spot. So this is a perfect way for me to use them up! If it's still not sweet enough, add a little stevia or other sugar.



Have a great day! :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lentils over Couscous

Here is a recipe I made Sunday night. I really liked the combination of spices!

Lentils over Couscous

1 huge yellow onion
6+ cloves garlic
7 cups of water (more or less depending on if you want a soup or just lentils)
1/8-1/4 tsp cardamom (if you don't have it, you don't need it)
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne (I would use more than this...but maybe add at the end)
1 1/2- 2 cups lentils

I used a huge pot for this....the size that you'd use to cook 2 boxes of spaghetti noodles. First, I sauteed the onion and garlic in about 1/2 cup of water for 5-7 minutes. You could use olive oil instead if you prefer. Once that was cooked I added all of the spices and let that cook for a few minutes.


Then I added the rest of the water and lentils. This will take a little over an hour depending on how long it takes the lentils to soften. You'll want to stir this every 15 min or so and add more water depending on the consistency you want.


Here is a picture of the finished product:


I put the lentils over couscous and then added a few peas on top. Sooo good! I ended up adding more cumin and cayenne pepper to my serving.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Last night of freedom

Since I'm re-taking the GRE next Friday, I only allowed myself to make plans last night. It was a fun night filled with relaxation and some of my favorite things...

Brie, fig preserves, the Enjoy cracker sampler, strawberries, and 2 of my favorite inexpensive bottles of wine (shared of course haha). It was the first time I tried the President Light Brie...it was great! Since it was 30% fewer calories and 50% less fat, I was a little skeptical. However, it was just as creamy and delicious as the full fat/calories version:) I'm definitely getting that again! A few years ago, I was introduced to pairing brie and fruit...such an amazing combination! Since then, brie is not complete without a little fig preserves or pear jam to top it off! Be sure to try it next time you have brie! Since we had some sparkling wine, I thought strawberries and chocolate (for me) would be a nice combination. Our grocery store has such a nice organic aisle so I decided to get some of my favorite chocolate instead of ice cream. I chose the Dagoba Beaucoup Berries bar: 72% cacao, with pure vanilla and dried cranberries and cherries. My FAVORITE Dagoba bar is the Lavender Blueberry bar:) Unfortunately, grocery stores don't typically carry it. I bet they'd have it at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.

Here are a few pictures from last night:






I decided that I would wake up early this morning and make something fun for breakfast! Breakfast food is one of my favorites probably because most Saturday mornings growing up, I'd wake up to the smell of my Mom's famous pancakes and warm syrup :)  Since fall has finally arrived, I have been craving anything and everything pumpkin...so I decided to make Pumpkin Pancakes! See below for the recipe....

Pumpkin Pancakes (Vegan)

Mix together dry ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together the wet ingredients:
1 cup canned pumpkin (make sure it's not the pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.....and then you have your batter! Make sure you taste it before you start making the pancakes. You might want to add more pumpkin pie spice depending on your taste. These weren't too tricky to cook, but my normal pancake recipe is very thin (think crepes) so these definitely take a lot longer to cook. There were REALLY good!! :) I will be making these again soon.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Friday!

Today started out relatively productive! I caught up on e-mails and went grocery shopping all before 9:30am! :) I decided I would make some vegan "meatballs." I've seen a lot of bloggers make similar things because they freeze well and make great snacks or salad toppers too! I adapted this recipe from Life of Joy. Here's the recipe:


Vegan "Meatballs"

First bring 1 3/4 cups of water to a boil. Once boiled, remove from burner and add 2 cups of TVP. Let this sit while you saute your onion. Saute 1/2 of a large vidalia onion in olive oil until it yellows.

Stir in the TVP into the onions. Add:

1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
1/2 tsp. dried parsley



Then I mixed in 1/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup all purpose flour.


Once the mixture cools you can roll them in to miniature "meatballs." I baked them on 350 for about 25 minutes. Baking time depends on how crispy you want the exterior to be. However, test one when they come out of the oven to make sure the middle is cooked.



Now off to do work!