Vegetarian Week #3

Okay, so this post is super overdue.  There is a reason though.  Last week, I had a bug and, as a result, Nick did a lot of the cooking.  He did an amazing job cooking, but when he cooks, he forgets that we are blogging and doesn't take any pictures.  

So instead of going into detail about our meals, I'm going to tell you about "flexitarianism."  Flexitarianism is a growing trend of people who are conscious of their meat consumption for health, environmental and economical reasons.  It is the one of the best diets around.  The idea is to seek out vegetarian meals more often and to have meals focus less on meat.

An article from MSNBC and an article in the Feb. 2011 issue of Bon Appetit helped me decide that this is what I will do once January's vegetarian diet is over.  One of the keys to our new lifestyle (that's right, Nick too), is to have Meatless Monday's.  It is also perfect for blogging, as well as for our health and the environment.


Saturday Breakfast: #4

In the past, these posts have focused on breakfasts when we have done something snazzy or new.  This time, I decided to focus on some of the basics instead. 


Cheesy Scrambled Eggs and Toast with Peanut Butter and Honey (oh and OJ)

I absolutely love breakfast.  Sometimes I forget how important breakfast is to me.  I know it is odd, but breakfast has always been my favorite.  Oh yeah, that lovely salt and pepper shaker set came all the way from France.  Nick's sister and her husband got them for me while on their European excursion.  


Kitchen Wish List

I love my kitchen, and all of the gadgets in it.  However, there are a few gadgets that I wish I had...

1. A food processor.  I know that most of the things that are done with a food processor can be done with other gadgets or by hand, but gosh darn it, I want it to be easier. 
2. I fell in love with KitchenAid Mixers at college.  Each kitchen had their own mixer, heaven.  I want it in Green Apple (an explanation to come later).
3. A knife is pointless if it isn't sharp (ha, that's a pun).  This one is from Crate and Barrel.
4. I find that there is never enough room for cupcakes on my cake stand.  A cupcake  carrier from Crate and Barrel would keep them so much fresher.
5. We had a wok, but when we brought it out to make the disastrous stir-fry it had rusted (it was really old).  This new one from Crate and Barrel would do the trick.

Is there any kitchen gadget you can't live without or wish you had?  Let us know.


Six Months!

In celebration of our first six months of marriage, we decided to do a post based on a set of books given to us by my maid of honor.  The books are quizzes that ask questions to see how well you know your husband/wife.  Nick picked five questions I would answer about him and I picked five for him to answer about me. 

Nick's Questions:

1. Did she ever win a contest of any sort? If so, what was her prize?
    N: Yes, she won jump rope "speed rope"?
    L:  I won awards in jump rope for double dutch speed and criss-cross mostly, but I stunk at speed step.

2. When dressing for an evening out, does she put on makeup...
    ___ Early in the process?
    _X_ Last thing?
    ___ Not at all?
    L: Always last, except when it is super hot out, then I do it sooner.

3. If you want to make her unhappy, serve her  Salsbury steak for dinner.
    L: Eck, I hate Salsbury Steak!

4. When she was a little girl, what did she answer people who asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
    N: Astronaut, because she went to space camp.
    L:  So close, astronomer

5.  If you two had to move out of the country, where would she choose to go?
    N: England
    L: I would pick England, since we know the language.

Lauren's Questions:

1. Who will he say is the funniest person he knows?
    L: Jordan
    N: Ok, so the first one was easy...

2. In which pocket does he usually carry his wallet? How many photos does he keep in it?
    L: Left back, 4 photos
    N: Correct pocket, no photos though

3. Which habit of yours most annoys him?
    L: When I know you are going to talk and ask "What?" before you say anything.
    N: No, although it is aggravating. It's when you pop every joint in your body at once. One or two is fine, but when it's all of them in a row it sounds like you are breaking.

4. What does he think about the possibility of intelligent life on other planets?
     ___ Very likely
     _X_ Possible, but not likely
     ___ Out of the question
     ___ He has no idea
     N: Yeah, that's the answer I'd pick

5. If a serious fire broke out, what object or objects would he try to save first?
    L: Sophie and computer tower
    N: Oh darn, I didn't think about the cat. I was thinking our pictures and other sentimental stuff.

Well, that was fun.  We hope you enjoyed! 

 P.S. The books are Do you know your Husband? and Do you know your Wife? by Dan Carlinsky.


On our nightstands: #3

Oh my, it took me a long time to finish Eat, Pray, Love.  I have been reading it for a few weeks now and, honestly, the last 50 pages are what has taken me so long.  I tend to get wrapped up in some project or another and get consumed.  I was not consumed with Eat, Pray, Love anymore. I am finally done reading it though.  

I have to say, I'm not sure what I think about it.  There were parts that I found very inspiring.  Things about finding yourself and evolving into the person you want to be and overcoming sadness, really spoke to me.  Other things just didn't sit well with me.  I like reading books that I can relate to, and there were several things that I just couldn't relate to.  

I understand the appeal to this novel though.  It is romantic.  A story of a woman striking out on her own to discover herself, find new love, find God and learn to live with herself.  It is a story of the modern woman.  Gosh darn it, I always thought I was a modern woman, until I said that.  I am independent, but I can't stomach the idea of getting a divorce from my lovely husband to strike out on my own.  I'd much rather discover myself, find new love (I count this for friends and babies- not now of course), find God and learn to live with myself all with my husband!!

Next on the list of books to read is Her Fearful Symmetry by Audry Niffenegger, who also wrote The Time Traveler's Wife (which I absolutely loved!).  I started reading it today and like it a lot so far.  I'll keep you posted on how it is.


Stir-Fry Redo

Lately I have been trolling the blogging world for popular blogs to follow.  I found a site that listed some of the top blogs by category and began my search for new ideas on food, art and decor. 

One of the first blogs I decided to follow is Perrys' Plate.  The blog focuses on fresh, homemade and healthy food.  While sifting through the blog, I came across a post on some stir-fry gone wrong (much like ours).  She, Natalie, that is, did not give up there though.  Instead of ditching the leftovers, she made egg rolls out of them.  With the theory, that just about everything tastes better when fried. 

Here is a link to her post and my inspiration on what to do with Nick's, ummm, how shall I say this, not so appetizing leftovers. 

This is what we did...

Icky left overs.

We put about 2 tablespoons worth of the chopped up leftovers into each egg roll wrapper.

 Before frying.

After frying.

We also made some noodles to go with the egg rolls.

The new version of the stir-fry was so much better than the original.  I am so happy it turned out.  Nick was also excited that I salvaged his "disaster."


Saturday Breakfast: #3

Okay...I'm lying.  We did not make this on Saturday.  Nick had today off so we made breakfast.  We've made this one before, but it turned out even better this time.

Banana Pancakes with Caramel-Banana Syrup!

Here is the banana syrup made with butter, brown sugar, water and bananas...so GOOD.

 Nick made some adjustments to the batter recipe; instead, of using self-rising flour we used a pancake box mix and took out the eggs and buttermilk.

The delicious end result!

We adapted the recipe from the Bon Appetit cookbook. 


Nick's Vegetarian Stir-Fry

Nick here...Long-time lurker, first-time poster, I think. My name's on the blog, maybe I should actually write about something!

After having a wonderful supper at Thai Taste earlier in the week, I thought I'd try my hand at stir-fry on Friday evening. We bought broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, and I thought I'd even make the most dreaded of vegetarian foods, tofu. Lauren had ordered tofu with her meal at Thai Taste and it was honestly delicious. It was dry, tasted like the sauce, and almost had the consistency of a strip of meat, so I thought I'd be able to replicate it and make an awesome stir-fry.

I've made stir-fry in the past, and the trick is to have everything ready before you start cooking, because the pan is super hot and you need to stir it constantly to stop the food from burning. I had already pressed, sliced and dry-fried the tofu and it was marinating in store-bought stir-fry sauce with extra minced garlic. The vegetables were washed and cut so I added them to the hot oil and started cooking. The smell was great, and in a few minutes I added the tofu and sauce. Another minute to warm it all up and off the burner it went.


I made an easy fried rice (well, easy but time-consuming) to go with the stir-fry and then we sat down to our meal. 

The spoon that I scooped out the stir-fry looked like it was sticking out it's tongue on a face of water chestnuts and a carrot when I put in the pan...that should have been my first suspicion that something wasn't quite right.


We dug in to eat, ....and it was awful. Well, at least I thought it was. Nothing had blended, the vegetables tasted raw, and the tofu... oh, the tofu... it was plain gross, like really really bad. It hadn't taken any of the flavor of the marinade and tasted like something you weren't supposed to stick in your mouth. Almost like a plastic-rubber-snot mixture that was chewy on the outside but turned into cottage cheese before you could swallow it all away.

So, in case you want to keep track, it was 3 hours of work = disgusting meal. We ate some of the meal and the fried rice, but I was not satisfied and pretty angry. So we went out and I got chicken teriyaki takeout from a restaurant nearby, and Lauren got a chocolate milkshake. YUM!

Friday night supper, done.

Lauren would like for me to point out at this juncture that there is a reason that I don't cook too often. Not because what I cook always taste bad, far from it in fact. I think my meals, as a whole, are some of the best tasting that we eat. (What's a blog for if I can't brag a bit) No, the reason I don't cook often is because as a rule, whoever cooks doesn't do dishes. And I am a MESSY cook and it takes Lauren ages to clean up my disaster area. This isn't something I do on purpose, just happens.

Let me submit for evidence, Exhibits A and B...

Anybody have a good story about botched meals they want to share? Let us know in the comments. Help me feel better about this meal by laughing at your misery.

Vegetarian Week # 2

Week two was a bit more difficult than week one.  For starters, I started to crave meat.  I wanted a hamburger from Burger King so badly....it was ridiculous.  I pushed through though and managed to tackle week two without a slip up.

This week we made Caribbean Succotash (Bon Appetit, Jan. 2011- magazine only) and stuffed peppers.

 Caribbean Succotash


The Caribbean Succotash was pretty good.  Sadly it was our first vegetarian meal that tasted like it was missing something. I tried to add flavor with extra crushed red pepper, but it didn't do the trick.  We made the succotash and plated it over white rice.  If you would like the recipe just let me know, sadly it is not available online so I can't link it.

Stuffed Peppers

These stuffed peppers were amazing!!  I didn't use a recipe the way I usually do.  Instead, I just made it up while I was at the grocery store.  They were so easy though and didn't take very long either.
I used:

4 large peppers
1 box of Spanish rice
1 can of black beans
1 can stewed tomatoes with jalapenoes
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 cup of shredded cheese

Cook the rice according to the box.  Once the rice is cooked drain the black beans and stewed tomatoes and add to the rice along with the onion to heat through.  In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to boil and blanch the peppers (I left them in for about 5 minutes to cut down on cooking time).  After the peppers are blanched, stuff them with the rice mixture and divide cheese on top of the peppers and bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.



Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche

Once upon a time, ice cream was my favorite dessert.  It is still in the running, but lately, baked goods have been my weakness.  

This week, Nick and I decided we wanted some cupcakes.  We bought a chocolate box cake of and some dulce de leche syrup. 

Let's just say that we have found our weakness.  After we made the cupcakes, we filled them with the syrup.  Our plan was to frost them, but they were much better without the frosting. 


Crochet 101

I learned how to crochet my freshman year of college from a few friends.  To be honest, I'm not really sure which one taught me, but all of a sudden there were three or four of us crocheting all the time.  Each of us began making the same blanket with different colors....everyone finished but me.  It was just too tedious and too big to take around with me to work on.

From then on, I was strictly a scarf girl.  Last Christmas break, Jude and I began working on an afghan.  She finished it shortly after, but that is when I began planning a wedding while taking 19 credit hours at BSU.

This Christmas break, I vowed to keep going with it.  I am almost done and pretty pumped about it.  I got the pattern from Lion Brand Yarn Company.  

I love this afghan and can't wait until it is done.  I chose different colors than the picture.  I am using Cranberry, Linen, Dusty Blue, Taupe and Purple.  As soon as it is done, I'll post pictures. 


Vegetarian Week # 1

So far being a vegetarian isn't very hard.  I mean, do not get me wrong, it is much easier to not be a vegetarian.  I am having fun with it though and am not missing meat too much.  I think the thing I miss the most right now is ground sausage.  I know that is a random thing to miss, but I always put ground sausage in my spaghetti sauce and make patties for breakfast. 

For the most part breakfast and lunch are the easiest.  Dinner is harder because for one Nick is home and for another we go out to dinner some.  So far I have eaten out at Pita Pit (with Judith) and Noodles and Company, both of which were easy to eat at.  We have cooked two amazing dishes at home, well, other than the simple cheese quesadilla or PB&J.

Here is the yummy cheese pizza I made the other day.  It was so good!

 We used a store bought crust, but it was still so good!

Nick also cooked dinner this week.  He made a Vegetarian Cassoulet.  Let's just put it this way, we both burnt our mouths because it was so good we couldn't wait until it cooled down!

 Still in the pot.

Homemade bread crumbs!

The finished product.


On our nightstands: #2

Now that school is over with (whew), I can finally read whatever I want, whenever I want.  I love it!  Since school has let out in December I have read one and a half books.  

The first was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  This is not the typical story I read.  Lately, anyway, I've been all about what I call "beach books."  Books that have little meaning other than a simple pleasure while the waves wash up on the shore.  They are usually love stories that end in happiness.  This book was different.  Not that it didn't have a love story, but it was from a man's point of view and was more about accepting life for what it is.  At any rate, I would recommend it!

The book that I am currently reading is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  It is a memoir of her journey of self discovering crossing Italy, India and Indonesia (more specifically Bali).  I'm about 2/3 of the way through it and feel as though it is lifting my soul.  I don't want to sound cheesy and certainly don't want to run off across the world, but I want to be like her.  Full of passion and curiosity with a purpose in life to enjoy it and live in the moment with passion, pleasure and love.

Nick got a Barnes and Noble gift card from work for Christmas and used that gift to purchase Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume by Jeff Smith.  I do not know much about it, other than that their are three brothers who go their separate ways.  It chronicles their journeys.  He is enjoying reading it, which is all that matters.


New Years Resolutions

I'm not a huge resolution person.  I feel like they are just words and most of the time, I don't follow through.  This year though, they won't be just words, I'm telling you. 

So here goes:

Wants to become as healthy as he can be by working out more and eating healthier.  This will be a family effort.

I have decided to try out vegetarianism for the month of January.  The current plan is to do it week by week to see how I hold up.  I also hope to post more on the blog and create some kind of schedule for me to follow, such as reporting on the book I'm reading on Mondays or posting photos on Wednesdays; I need some kind of regiment.  I also need to hunt for another job so we can begin saving for our adventures.  

At any rate, I think overall, we both just want to be better people.  People that have experienced things in life and can tell our kids (in the future of course) the amazing story of our life together.  Our life of adventures, challenges, mistakes, happiness, passion, learning and LOVE!


Hello 2011

Ahhhh, it is so nice to be done with 2010.  Not that I have a problem with 2010, it was just possibly the busiest year of my life (so far anyway).  

Some of the highlights of 2010 were: planning the wedding, completing my internship, passing Allegre, getting married, a new job, spending an amazing year with great friends and graduating from college.

So, as you can see, it was a bit hectic, but I loved it.  

Here are some pictures from our first married Christmas!  Every year Nick and I make cookies for Nick's family.  This year we made three kinds: Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies, Lemon Sugar Cookies and Nutmeg Ginger Snaps.

  Crushed Candy Canes

Finished Product

Lemon Zest

Finished Product
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