1.31.2012

Book Club and Everything In Between

Sorry no delicous food recipes today. I was out of town this weekend and still haven't been to the grocery store, so I thought I'd catch you up on what I've been reading lately.


I started reading the confederacy back in August...and didn't finish it until November. So you're probably wondering why you would want to read a book that took me 4 months to read...Well I have a slight problem in that I refuse to read more than one book at once and since this is not what some would call "easy reading" it took me a bit longer. I was inspired to pick it up after Erica finished reading it. It had been on both of our "to-read" lists. I'm so glad that I did. The book is hilarious and part of me wishes that it would be possible to make it into a movie (although I think it might lose some of it's hilarity). Now whenever I see someone who's just completely ludicrous looking or acting, I think back to Ignatious and all of his craziness. You should definitely pick this book up...it won't disappoint!



Zeitoun was our December book club selection. I had never heard of it prior to getting the selection for that month. At times I had to put the book down as it made me sick to my stomach how people were treated in the aftermath of Katrina. I would recommend this book if you're interested in a real life account of living in the wake of Katrina.

This book was recommended to me by Dan. It's a memoir about grief and dealing with grief by one of his favorite authors. Reading it shortly after the passing of my grandma helped me to put things into perspective and be ok with my emotions. “Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” I'm looking forward to reading her follow up Blue Nights when I steal it from Dan.


Dan had loaned me this book several months ago and I just hadn't picked it up. Then when we were in FL, it was laying on the counter at my parents house. I was thinking to myself "how did that get here". Then my dad also told me I should read it, so with two recommendations I picked it up next. It's a fabulous story that follows 4 people in their loneliness. It's a tearjerker. And now that I've read it, I am noticing references to Carson McCullers everywhere! She wrote the book when she was only 23. Fittingly, the book I'm currently reading for our February book club, Swamplandia!, was written by Karen Russell who is only 29. I'll let you know how it is!

-Abbie

1.30.2012

Sunday Morning Bagels.

My dad would totally disagree with what I'm about to say, but here it goes...I'm a morning person. To a certain extent at least. No offense dad, but I've come to find out I am more of a solo morning person.When I was younger and would wake up on the weekends at 10AM (realistically 11AM), he would have been up for HOURS by then. With bottled up energy. Just waiting for someone to bug  talk to about any thing. Which kinda made me grmupy and not a good morning person at all. Now, I like to get up early (without an alarm - alarms make me cranky too), drink my coffee, catch up on my favorite blogs, check the weather, figure out my day, pick out my outfit and so on. And the husband usually sleeps in, so in turn, I feel productive in the morning. Its when I have the most energy I guess (or that's when the caffeine is the strongest). Maybe its because I now go to bed at 9:30PM and feel like I have to make the most of the time I am actually awake. I dunno. It works.
Let me tell you how productive this Sunday morning was for me. Really productive; that's how much. I made bagels. That's right, by hand and from scratch and they were good. Like really good. They take some time to make, but seriously - yum. And the time it takes is mostly just waiting for the dough to rise. While it was rising, I made some apple butter, and more dough for my "every day" bread....ya, told you I was productive.



Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Inspired by Food Coma // Makes 8 bagels
3 1/2 Cups Bread Flour
2 Teaspoons Active Yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Warm Water and maybe a few more tablespoons if neede
2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
2 Cups Raisins

Note: If you don't have a stand mixer, just substitute your arm routine at the gym with kneading this dough for roughly 10 minutes.
  1. In 1/2 cup of warm water, add sugar and yeast. Let this sit for about 5 minutes without stirring.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, yeast and cinnamon in a bowl of a stand mixer (using paddle attachment).
    Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the warm water mix.
  3. Turn stand mixer on low speed to combine all the ingredients adding a tablespoon of water at a time if it is looking too dry. Once it all comes together let it knead for 10 minutes. If you don't have a stand mixer, knead dough by hand for 10 minutes.
  4. While kneading, throw in the raisins. Make sure they get really worked into the dough.
  5. After 10 minutes, place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel for an hour. You can just spray the bowl with some non stick stray. After an hour the dough should double in size.
  6. After an hour, punch down the dough to release the gases. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into 8 even balls. I use a dough knife and a scale to help with this task. Side note on the dough balls: Make them as smooth as you can. Shape each piece into a round ball. Then, take a dough ball, and press it gently against your workspace moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms.



  7. Then, stick your thumb through the center of the dough ball forming a bagel-like shape.
  8. Place bagel dough things on your workspace and cover with a towel for another 10 minutes.



  9. Bring a pot of water to a boil and turn the oven on to 425*. After the 10 minutes are up and the water is boiling, place each bagel in the water and boil 1 minute per side. You can use a fork or spatula to flip them.
  10. Once boiled, place them onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes until you eat them. You may burn your taste buds off. Enjoy plain, with cream cheese or melted butter.
  12. Store in an airtight container for about a week. If they last that long at least.


Variations:
  • Plain Bagel: Omit the raisins and cinnamon
  • Everything Bagel: add chopped garlic, chopped onion, coarse salt, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds.
  • Sesame/Poppy/Salt Bagel: add desired amount to the top before baking.
  • Blueberry Bagel: Knead in frozen for fresh blueberries (2 Cups)
If adding toppings, do so after the boil and before you bake them.

Enjoy!

Erica

1.26.2012

Balsamic Quinoa


My next season of Team in Training is coming up – which means I will be training for another marathon, which means I need to put down the beer, red wine, and burgers I’ve been enjoying over the past month start eating a bit better.

Solution – Quinoa!

1.19.2012

Cooking Fail....Almost!

The other night was almost a cooking fail but don't worry...I saved the day, or soup, as the case might be. I've been wanting to make this recipe for beef, potato, quinoa soup from Skinny Taste for a couple of weeks now. Finally, I went to the grocery and picked up all of the necessary ingredients, and along the way picked up two bags of potatoes...they were buy one get one...so if anyone has yummy potato recipes send them my way!

I got home from work on Monday and was starving and had planned to make this soup. Mind you, I usually just read the ingredients to see if it's something I think I'll like and don't really read the directions, so I didn't realize I would need about 2 hours, plus my prep time (I'm not a very efficient chopper!) before I could eat, but I was determined to make this soup! 

I've gotten everything cooking and I open the meat and I think that it might've gone bad, so I throw it in the pot half expecting to have to go out to eat or get poisoned. Then I promptly call mommy dearest to ask her opinion on the poisonous level of the meat I just threw into my soup pot. She assured me I wouldn't die so I moved forward. 

I have never really cooked with bouillon before, so I only put in one cube since the recipe didn't specify. When it was time to add the potatoes and quinoa I noticed the broth was very clear. I stood there scratching my head thinking to myself hmmm and then I decided maybe I should read the directions on the bouillon packaging and sure enough, I was supposed to use 1 cube to every cup of water, so I unwrapped 4 more of those little guys and threw them in and hoped for the best. 

I also happened to make a bit to much cooked quinoa. Don't worry, I had a great solution for that! I added half a can of mandarin oranges and had it for a snack at lunch the next day :) I do have some good ideas.

Did I forget to mention that I didn't have any fresh cilantro and I maybe had 1/4 of a teaspoon left of dried cilantro so that was all I used. 

2 hours later and hopefully a bunch of disasters avoided...I scarfed down two GIANT bowlfuls of this delicious soup. And just think how much more delicious it would've been if I had let the bouillon be in the soup for as long as it was supposed to and if I had used fresh cilantro!  

Oh and since I'm still here to write about it...I didn't end up poisoning myself! 


-Abbie 


P.S. sorry no pictures of my wonderful creation...soon I'll be taking more pictures.

Hot Chocolate and Homemade Marshmallows.

The weather is changing here in Northern California from warm, sunny, and 65 to cold, rainy, and 50. True Northern Californian weather for this time of year is what I am told. My Florida/Colorado sunny self is not too excited for this change.

I've also come to the conclusion that I will probably never have a good tan again. Check out this photo from college of Abbie, Brianne, and I. That tan is probably unhealthy, but it looked good to me.
Needless to say, good sun tanning weather is not the near forecast so I am trying to get prepared with warm beverage options and soups galore.

I think I found a hot chocholate recipe that is super yummy and the homemade marshmallows make this cup of comfort even sweeter.


1.16.2012

"Its a Major Reward!"

We won a award!! Yay for us!
(P.S. Do you know where the quote from the title came from? Hint: Its from a  movie from a holiday that just past...)

I often find so much inspiration from Strudel and Streusel and they have kindly sent this over our way. Thanks ladies!!

This awesome award comes with some tasks and duties...
1. Thank the person who gave us the award. - Thank you Strudel and Streusel!!
2. Post the badge on our blog. - check
3. List 7 things people may not know about us. - keep reading
4. Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers and notify them - umm...

Want to know more about us?

1.15.2012

Great Sports Weekend!

This weekend has certainly been filled with sports, get-togethers, and yummy food. 

Saturday I had a nice 4 mile run with BoMF. It was the first "long run" for training for the Nikia Half Marathon at the end of March. It was also my second run as the proud owner of a Garmin 210 watch. I'm not really sure how I've run this long without one! It's amazing, especially for someone like me who is obsessive with knowing exactly how far I've run and how fast I ran it in! I'm pretty much in love.

Then the activities for the day began by watching the Olympic marathon trials with some of my running friends. Overall I was pretty content with the outcome aside from Ritz not making the team. I was also impressed that I was able to steer clear of any spoiler alerts before the I watched the races. 

And while that was going on FSU totally DOMINATED UNC! At the end of the game Dick Vitale asked for a picture with Dulkys, who was on fire from the get-go! Watching it made me miss Tallahassee and FSU. 

Speaking of Tallahassee and FSU it was incredible to watch Tebow and the Broncos get destroyed by the Patriots, who I normally despise, but yesterday they were the lesser of the two evils!  Have you seen Tebowie?


Then today my adopted team, the Baltimore Ravens, pulled out a W against the Texans. I'm thinking if I'm going to stay here, I need to invest in an Anquan Boldin jersey. Yeah, I might be obsessed with FSU...it's fine!


I made these Crispy Parmesan Potato Puffs from How Sweet It Is to take with me to watch the Ravens game, and they certainly did not disappoint! Instead of panko, I used Italian breadcrumbs that I already had and I think they worked out pretty well. They probably would've been a bit crispier had I used the panko but I was satisfied. I did have to bake mine for about 10 minutes longer than the recipe calls for but I do have a tiny apartment size oven, and I tend to favor things that are crispier (i.e. most people might say they are burnt). I'm excited to make the leftover puffs into fried smashed potatoes in the morning for breakfast :)


Enjoy your MLK day!


-Abbie

1.08.2012

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Trivia time: Do you know where “I left my heart in San Francisco” came from?

I didn't. I had to look it up. It was a song written by two guys who moved to NYC from San Francisco. They were kinda nostalgic about it all saying they left there their heart up on a hill and stuff. It was recorded by Tony Bennett back in 1962. Don't worry Coloradans, a piece of my heart is still there and Florida as well – but I truly fell in love with the San Francisco this weekend. I mean, I really liked it before – what's not to like right? But it was just overwhelmingly amazing on Saturday that I finally had to admit that it was the big L for the city and me.

It all started as my running friends and I met up to run over the Golden Gate Bridge. I can check that off my bucket list. And let me tell ya...it was breathtaking. We had a picture perfect weather day... literally. Check out the photo - postcard-esque right? P.S. I made that word up. Erica original. 
It was 6 mile stop and go run - I was totally touristy taking photos along the way. 

Afterward, we were starving and headed to Home Plate in Cow Hollow/Marina District for a late breakfast. They gave us little scone appetizers that were perfect for curbing the hungry, cranky green eye'd monster that tends to show up if I don't get my food fast enough, especially after a run. The main entree was a really REALLY yummy pesto omelet with spinach and mushrooms. I am hoping I can re-create it some Sunday morning.

After breakfast, we headed pretty much the biggest farmer's market I've ever been to at the San Francisco Ferry Building. The Ferry Building in one of my favorite places in the city. And on Saturday's year round, they have venders, farmers, jam and cheese makers, eggs, butters, honeys, olive oils, beans, ice creams, coffees and more spread all around the outside of the building. You name, its probably got a tent somewhere around there. I picked up a blend of goat and milk's cheese and tons of citrus. It was obvious it was citrus season in the bay area as you looked around and saw that was a huge majority. I've been snacking on oranges (several varieties) like crazy.
Current Fruit Basket
To wrap up the day in the city, I got a delicious cup of Blue Bottle Coffee. Last time I was at the Ferry Building, I probably waited in line for 30 minutes to get a cup. Kinda worth it if you like coffee though. Soooo good. During the market – they have a little stand outside and I got my coffee in a jiffy. Perfect.

I don't know what it was about today out of all the other days I've been to the city, but there was something in the air and it clicked, California is my home now. Maybe it was the fact I had to give up my Colorado plates Friday (my last tie of residency there), or the perfect weather, or the running, or caffeine high from the coffee, who knows.  Too bad the husband and I each would have to rob a bank to pay a month of rent to live there. Oh well. I'm happy being as close as I am. :)

{Erica} aka official CA resident as of 1/6/2012

1.02.2012

Happy New Year, with a side of Ranch!


Welcome 2012! The year 2011 was full of...goodness. We moved across the country, started new jobs, celebrated a year of wedded bliss, I ran my first marathon and there are lots of other wonderful things that have been added to my list of adventures.

Now let's talk New Year's resolutions. What do you think? Are they silly? Fun? Practical? Never do them? For me - I looove goals, so it is just an excuse for me to do or try something new. This year, I am going to try and make as many things as I can from scratch.

Being in a new city with a small friend base, I spent my New Year's cleaning out my pantry and organizing (this including chalk board paint by the way...for labeling jars!) After reading several food labels in my pantry and not being able to pronounce some/most of the ingredients, I figured this was a good change. And since I've started doing this already over the past few months (bread, pita, marshmallows), I know it can be done. Plus, homemade fresh stuff taste *so* much better! I am determined to make these things easy, so I can do it often and share it with others.

I started this weekend with making Ranch Dressing and it did not disappoint. I made a few batches messing with all the different adds ins and decided the simpler the ingredients the better. The fresh herbs and garlic get stronger as it sits in the fridge and really makes it pop. I mean, this stuff is good. Really good. And easy! Chris wanted to make his hot sauce so it was a perfect combination. Plus it was fun to both be in the kitchen making stuff together.

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