Grilled Cheese Love

In case you didn't know already, grilled cheese is quite possibly my favorite food ever. Don't worry mac & cheese, I still love you too. My friend Amy sent me this article this morning "there's a lot of memories and there's a lot of happiness in the very simple grilled cheese and soup.". Although the article is more about entrepreneurship then it is about grilled cheese, it must've been good luck because the Grr Che truck happened to be parked in my neighborhood today. Win for Abbie!



The Great Outdoors

This past weekend I went down to Blacksburg, VA to visit Dan. Blacksburg is a really small college town but has really great outdoors things to do. When he comes to Baltimore, we do city things and when I go to Blacksburg, we do mountain things. It's a pretty awesome balance. 

We had planned to ride our(his) bicycles to New River Junction and float down the river on Saturday, but a mini thunderstorm stalled us after our ride to downtown Blacksburg, so we played darts and ate tots instead. Really, it was a win/win situation. On our ride back to his house...well let's just say that when someone who rides frequently at dusk asks if you want to stop and get out the lights you should probably stop and get out the lights! I'm pretty sure that was the fastest (newbie) bicycle ride I've had thus far!

Sunday's plans didn't get foiled and we hiked The Cascades for the second time since he's lived there. It's a beautiful 4mile roundtrip hike that ends at a waterfall. Last summer, I refused to swim in the icy cold water. I'm happy to say that this time I sucked it up and got in with maybe only a little coaxing from Dan. Next time, I'll go sit in the waterfall. Baby steps! We finished our weekend off by grilling some delicious grass-fed beef hamburgers from the Bburg's farmer market.




While the rest of the country was going through a heat wave this weekend we were able to enjoy a few lovely 75 degrees and breezy days here in California. Since we didn't partake in the rest of the heat wave, we decided to make some heat in our kitchen...hot sauce that is. 

Chris has been slightly obsessed with trying hot sauces lately. It stems from watching Man vs. Food and thinking he could do the same spicy food challenges that the host does, or at least try really spicy things one time instead of eating a whole plate of them. Ever since we watched a few episodes (possibly a whole season in one day) he has been on the hunt for a really great hot sauce. We picked a few up here and there at grocery stores and other shops but neither one of us were overwhelmed by any of them. Then he found a recipe so we could make our own hot sauce using all fresh ingredients.

It actually turned out yummy. We made Friday night with Chicken and Grilled Corn Quesadilla it was delightfully tasty! Don't get me wrong, it was spicy, but if left me wanting to eat more and more of it.



Habanero Hot Sauce

8 Habaneros, stemmed, divined, and deseeded – unless you wish you injury your mouth forever with hotness
4 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 Medium Onion, chopped coarsely
4 Cloves of Garlic, smashed
1 Tablespoon Turmeric Powder
¾ Cup Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
¼ Cup Cilantro Chopped (optional, we left it out because Chris thinks it tastes like soap)
Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil

Preheat Oven to 425*. Lay the tomatoes, onions and garlic and 4 of the habneros on a baking sheet. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes. Once roasted, take those ingredients and all the others and blend together until smooth. Pour into a sealed container for storage.

A word of advise...use gloves and wash your hands well after handling the peppers. Unwashed hands can lead to bad, burning things.


Broccoli Pesto! That's right....broccoli.

Since I have yet to start my new job, I have a little extra time on my hands these days. Not that I am bored...I am very thankful to have this time to settle into my new life. So after I started my day with a yoga class in Benicia, I decided to go through the kitchen to see what I could make for lunch. I noticed it was full of veggies that I bought at the farmer's market last week and I needed to use some things up quick or else they would go bad - and there is nothing worse than wasting yummy food (and money for that matter).

After browsing through my recipe blogs I found one on Green Kitchen Stories for broccoli pesto and thought...hmmm that sounds interesting. Luckily, I had all the ingredients at home to make it! Yay!

It took me about an hour because I roasted my chickpeas and only had my magic bullet to use (I had to do it in batches). But it was worth it! So yummy. Try it out, tell me what you think and if you used any variations I can try for next time.

This is how I did it...Enjoy!

Roasted Chickpeas
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper, & cayenne

Heat Oven to 400 degrees
Drain the peas and pat dry with a paper towel.
Toss in olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne
Cook 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Careful, because they pop in the oven...I had some cleanup to do after.
(if you want to roast 2 cans, they are a good snack too)

Broccoli Pesto
2 cups of raw broccoli
1 cans worth of roasted chickpeas
1/2 cup olive oil
generous handful of fresh basil
Juice from 1 lemon
4 gloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
water to help thin and blend as needed

Throw everything in a blender to smooth out. Add a bit of water if it seems to hard to blend and season to taste.

I added mine to some pita and tomatoes for a fantastic lunch.


Portis, Quinoa, and Mac & Cheese

This weekend I stayed in Baltimore for a nice relaxing weekend which turned out to be pretty exciting after all. Friday I finished The Dog of the South by Charles Portis. After spending 7 months, that's right, 7 months reading Midnight's Children by Salmon Rushdie, it only took me about a week to finish the Portis novel. You probably recognize Portis for True Grit (also a great read). I highly recommend Dog of the South. It had me chuckling out loud for most of the book.

Saturday morning was my course supported long run for the BRF followed by a very long nap flanked by both of my animals, Mav and Harper. They didn't even do anything to deserve that nap! Then I went to a housewarming BBQ for my newly engaged friends Amy and Scott. I made a variation of this recipe with strawberries instead of mango, mostly because I don't know how to cut a mango! And it was all gobbled down minus one scoop! It was my second time making the salad, the first time with the mango for July 4th. I had an excellent mango cutter at the time! The recipe came from Veggiebelly, a blog that Erica introduced me to. I've got several other recipes lined up that I want to try. 

Sunday was spent watching the women's world cup and being heartbroken that they lost. And then enjoying the last few hours of Artscape. The country's largest free arts festival, and they weren't kidding! I was there for 3 horus and only saw about 1/3 of the booths/vendors/acts/etc. My favorite part of the evening had to be dinner. I LOVE FAIR FOOD, so Artscape was like heaven to me, especially since they had lots of food trucks in addition to the traditional fair food vendors. I decided on a grilled cheese with mac and cheese and bacon on it from the Grr Che truck. 3 of my favorite foods combined into one? HEAVENLY!  I also saw lots of items I wanted to purchase but I stuck to my guns, and only walked away with one item, which I love!

Oh and did I mention that all of this was done with Chris Connelly? NBD.



Baltimore Running Festival

Well it's official! I'm registered for the Baltimore Marathon on October 15th! This will be my first full marathon and I'm scared and excited all at the same time. I have the lofty goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon which means I'd have to run a 3:35 marathon which is averaging 8:12 min per mile for 26.2 miles! Yikes! I forget that 8:00 min per mile is no longer my "easy" pace like it was in college. Needless to say, it's a goal and something to strive for.

I just finished my third week of training. Saturday was a course supported long run so there were a ton of runners out previewing the first half of the course. The not as hilly half. I ended up running with two of the people who will be serving as pacers for the actual marathon. In total I ran about 13.5 miles and I ran if faster than I ran my half marathon (13.1) race back in March. That gives me a little bit of confidence going forward, but I still need to drop about 20 seconds per mile...oh and maintain that for another 13 miles...oh and on the more hilly half of the course!

I've got a lot of work to put in between now and October 15th, but I'm looking forward to it. I'll leave you with two of my favorite songs by one of my new favorite bands, Tennis. It is the Baltimore Marathon afterall...



Love Gifts

Love gifts are something special. They are little treats sent to the ones you love to let them know you were thinking of them. Two of my best friends and I started doing this in college to give each other a little pick me up and we have each continued to send them and share the idea with others throughout the years. We still send them every now and then as we've moved to different parts of the county. So next time you are in the store and see a little something that reminds you of someone you love. Get it and send it to them. Trust me, they will enjoy it. 



Hello IKEA...nice to finally meet you!

One of the things I was most excited about doing this week was visiting IKEA. It is in a town called Emeryville, CA which is about 30 mins from our new home. I have never been to one before, but I have always heard it is amazing! I didn't have much of a game plan when I headed out the door this morning, but figured I'd pick up a few things to fill the spaces in our new home. Little did I know! THIS PLACE IS HUGE! I spent the first hour and a half just looking at things, mostly furniture...come to find out, that was only the first floor!! For those who have never been there before either, it is set up so you look at things, and write them down on a shopping list to pick up in a warehouse. When I went to fill out my list - I got a bit overwhelmed trying to think of what I REALLY needed and where it should go in the house. Then I stumbled upon the second floor, which was flooded with accessories. Oh boy...so I walked around that floor for nearly another hour trying to put pieces together. Then I kinda freaked. I honestly don't know why. I just plopped my cart down and walked out the door. I was hungry and tired after several hours of browsing and figured I needed a better game plan before I made a decision. Plus I didn't want to put everything together at home and hate it and have to return it all. I needed to be sure.

I decided to go to a few more shops in the area then head on home before rush hour. I came home and made a delightful grilled cheese for myself and over all felt good about not buying anything for the day. It wasn't wasted...it was just research.



Abbie and I have decided to write a blog!!! We both are mildly obsessed with reading blogs throughout the day and sharing amongst ourselves our blog finds. We were chatting today and decided...we could do this! Hence, the beginning of our new...adventure!

Keep posted as we plan to write and share whenever we explore and find something fun to tell our friends and family around the country about. 
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