Monday, September 30, 2013

Try-It Overload

I've been cooking a lot the last couple of weeks but haven't had a chance to post what I've been trying out. Here are some of the recipes that I think are worthy of your stomaches.

Easy Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork. We had a food day at work and I was in charge of bringing pulled pork. Confession: one of the reasons why I cook with chicken and turkey so much is because I'm afraid of other meats. It's silly, I know. I consulted my friend Jessie and my mom, and they gave me some pointers so I faced my fear and cooked with pork. And this recipe was a winner! I made it the night before, refrigerated it overnight, then heated it up the next day. The blog it came from is called Yummy Healthy Easy and that's exactly what this recipe was. (And it has Diet Coke in the recipe... that's awesome.)

San Antonio Migas. I get the Food Network magazine but rarely make recipes from it. Don't ask me why. So I made it a goal to cook at least one recipe from the most recent issue. I had also always wanted to try my hand at making migas so when I saw this recipe, I knew it was the one. This is a fun alternative to your typical egg breakfast. I actually had it for dinner, but would love to try it again.

Chicken Tortilla Soup. I've been looking for a really good chicken tortilla soup recipe for quite some time. I've tried quite a few recipes but haven't really found any winners... until now. Pioneer Woman came through yet again! And this recipe isn't even that unhealthy (which is good for her). It was flat out tasty.

Chipotle Turkey Chili with Apples. I am drawn to weird recipes. If you tell me, "Hey, I have a good chili recipe!" I'd probably respond with, "Eh, ok?" But if you tell me, "Hey, I have a good Chipotle Turkey Chili with Apples recipe!" THAT, is when I get on board for. This chili doesn't even have beans in it but the flavor was incredible complex and it had the consistency of chili. If you like weird recipes like me, here's one you should try.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How would you spend your days...

You've probably heard this before, but I love ice breaker questions. I love asking people questions and having discussions about things you don't normally discuss in every day conversation.

Tonight, I went to the first small group of the season for my church. It was a lot of new people that I haven't been in a group with before so my friends put me in charge of ice breakers... because that's what I do and that's what I love. I decided to go with the question above. I thought it would get people talking about what they like to do and what they are passionate about.

If you didn't have to work for a living, how would you spend your days?

My answer? "I would travel, and bake, and cook, and create things... then I would write about it." I didn't really spend a lot of time in deep thought coming up with my answer... but for some reason that's what I said. Thinking about it more, that answer is a little selfish. I want to spend my time helping and loving on others, too. I would like to think that I could do that while traveling and baking and cooking and creating things. The good news? Even though I do have to work for a living... I can still do those things. And write about them here. So thanks for being here...

*Side note: upon further discussion at small group tonight, my friends have decided that I should write a book and make a movie and become the next Eat, Pray, Love but better. I'm on board. Add that to my list of things to do.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last day of summer...

...which means tomorrow is the first day of fall! It's finally here, y'all! I'm currently sitting outside Starbucks, drinking my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the year, wearing a scarf, and feeling pretty great about it. Have I mentioned that I love fall?

It's been a crazy week. I moved... New house. New state. New roommate. New room (and we thought my LAST room was small...) New kitchen. New commute. A lot of new things... We don't have wifi yet so I haven't blogged until now but it's probably a good thing. I suck at change... initially. So I wasn't the happiest of campers in the beginning. But I'm over it. I'm feeling settled and I'm good. I should be back to blogging soon because we should get wifi sometime this weekend.

Until then... happy end of summer. And an even happier beginning of fall!

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Ask me what's now."

The other day my friend Katie shared a blog post with me entitled "26, unmarried, and childless". Funny because I just happen to be: 1. 26, 2. unmarried, and 3. childless. The post was a really good one. You can read it yourself here but to give a few highlights.

1. Questions/comments from people like "What's next?" and "When are you going to get married?" and "Better get started!" are seemingly harmless small talk questions... but they hurt more than most people realize.

2. Us childless, unmarried 26-years-olds are quite aware of where we're at in life. We are aware that we are getting older and we are aware that the path we are on doesn't really line up with the "normal path" that everyone else is on. And sometimes it's hard.

3. This is the good part... so I thought I'd put it in the bloggers' words, because they are better than my own...
"I would like to suggest one thing, though: instead of asking me what's next, ask me what's now. Ask me what God is teaching me, ask me what I'm struggling with, or what brings me joy. I am learning, I am growing, and I am happy. I would love to tell you all about it."
What's now:

-I work for JPMorgan at a job that is a challenge right now. I'm in this weird place where I am doing the job of the people above me but management is taking their time to promote me. It's hard. But God is teaching me a lot: to be content with where he has me and to love people wherever I am, no matter what I am doing, no matter what my title is, and no matter how much I am getting paid.
-I am moving to a house with a girl I don't really know to a city that I never in a million years thought I would want to live in. I've had a great year with my current roommates, but I'm excited to live with a roommate who is more in the same stage of life as me - she, too, is 26 (ok, she's actually 27), unmarried, and childless.
-I bake a lot. The other day my friend King said, "Abby, I foresee you opening a bakery someday. No one that I know likes something to the point that it is weird like you, so I think it's going to happen." (My response, "Uh... thanks, King? You think I'm weird?") Opening a bakery falls in the "what's next" category. So right now... right now, I bake a lot.
-I love to play games.
-I love to sing.
-I love to learn how to do new things, e.g. sewing. (Unless I don't catch on quickly, then I'm pretty quick to give up. Just being honest...)
-I struggle with being single. I work with my ex-boyfriend and being around him every day is hard.
-I love my church.
-I love my family. I have been thinking lately about how incredibly proud of my three brothers I am.
-I'm learning the balance between being non-confrontational and being too "assertive." I used to run from conflict... now I'm becoming assertive. I'm not afraid to deal with things and tell people exactly what I feel and think. I fear that I'm leaning too far on the assertive side. I'm working on finding the balance.
-I get joy out of being creative and making beautiful things.
-God is teaching me more and more about his grace every day. I've just recently been digging into the fact that I feel guilty a lot. I feel like I could always love people more, or work harder, or keep my cool better, etc... and I end my day feeling guilty about it. I asked my friend April the other day, "Is it normal for Christians to feel guilty all the time? We know that we're never going to measure up... Where is the line between being humble and knowing we're not enough and feeling guilt because of it." I'm still trying to figure it out, but I'm confident that God's grace through Christ is the answer.
-I think that's enough for now... you get the picture. This is what's now.

"So please, my dear friends, don't ask me what's next. Ask me what's now."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ice Cream. (And other pumpkin things.)

So, I made this rule that I couldn't bake with pumpkin until there was a chill in the air this year... Well, today I made food with pumpkin. I didn't bake it... there was no oven involved. But I made ice cream with it. And let me tell you why...

Last summer before I moved in to my current place my roommates and I were e-mailing back and forth what we were bringing to the new place. "I have a TV... I have a couch... I have a vacuum..." My roommate Kathryn listed off some kitchen things that she was bringing and she included an ice cream scoop. I replied with what I was bringing and mentioned that I had a ice cream maker to go with her ice cream scoop. It became a joke that Kathryn felt a bit... inferior (for lack of a better word) because her ice cream scoop was a little less substantial than an ice cream maker. We said we would have to combine forces and make ice cream sometime. We even took this picture way back documenting the plan.

Last night as I was packing up the kitchen I was putting away my ice cream maker when we realized that we never made ice cream! We decided that just wouldn't do so tonight I made some. I used my ice cream maker... we scooped with her scoop, and it was grand.

I chose to make Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. I thought it would be the perfect recipe to transition from the hot summer weather into the cooler, pumpkin-eating fall. The recipe was pretty good! It tasted just like pumpkin pie and was pretty easy because I opted to use a recipe that didn't involve any eggs. The only downside is that when you don't use eggs and strictly use milk or cream, often the ice cream leaves a milky film on the roof of your mouth. Sick... I know. Unless you are my roommate Paige who loved it. I was complaining about it and she said, "I wish I could take your feeling and double my feeling because I like it that much." What a girl...

Anyway, we had a good time partaking in the ice cream. Only one more night with those lovely ladies before I move out. I'm soaking up all the time I can get.

Here is a list of some other pumpkin recipes that I hope to try out over the next few months. If you find a pumpkin recipe that's just to die for, share it with me! I'd love to hear about it and try for myself...

Pumpkin Spice Cake by Gimme Some Oven.

Pumpkin Pie Macarons by Annie's Eats.

Almost No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie with Maple Whipped Cream by Joy the Baker.

Pumpkin Roll by Brown Eyed Baker. (I've always wanted to make one of these...)

Pumpkin Smoothie by Skinnytaste.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles by Gimme Some Oven.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Baking Mid-Pack.

I took a half day off of work today to put a dent in my packing. It's Wednesday. I'm moving on Saturday. Yikes. I did a pretty good job of being productive for a few hours. I was halfway finished with packing up my kitchen... then I took a nap. Upon waking up from that nap I started perusing pumpkin recipes so I can be ready to bake with pumpkin when the time comes. While looking for pumpkin recipes I came across this...

Brown Sugar Maple Cookies.

Brown Sugar Maple Cookies? Could there be a better combination of cookie? Any brown sugar based cookie is a winner in my book because brown sugar makes cookies soft and I love me some soft cookies. And maple... oh maple. I love maple. I quickly scanned the ingredient list - I had everything for it in my kitchen!

Oh wait... I did have everything for it in my kitchen until a couple of hours ago when I packed half of it  away in boxes. Did I let that stop me? Heck no! I unpacked boxes for these cookies, y'all. And they were goooood. If you like brown sugar and maple - these cookies are for you.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


 (October is hands down my favorite month of the year.)

I mentioned the other day that I've been dreaming about fall. It's no surprise really... This happens every year. Right at the beginning of September I think it's time to bust out the boots, and scarves, and pumpkin spice lattes, and fall recipes and go crazy and blog about it all. It's not that time quite yet. I'm making myself wait to get my first pumpkin spice latte of the season until there is actually a day with a chill in the air. Fingers crossed that that comes before Thanksgiving. Anyway... fall isn't quite here yet, so in the meantime I'm Pinteresting it and preparing myself for the glorious months to come.

This. is. magical. I'm hoping to take some good leaf shots this year. My new house has tons of big trees so hopefully they will be half as beautiful as this picture.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. I have this rule that I can only bake with pumpkin between September 1st and Christmas Day. I think I'm going to wait a few weeks to start baking with it though. I'd hate to get tired of it too early. These cinnamon rolls will likely be one of the first things I bake.

Speaking of pumpkin recipes... This is funny. Am I right?

Rainy leaves. I don't know why fallen leaves make rain ok in my book... but for some reason they do. 

Fall fashion. I'm ready for boots, scarves, oxfords, cardigans, layering... I'm just ready for it. 

Soup. Enough said. (Ok, maybe not... here's the link to the recipe for the pic above. Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup from Skinnytaste.)

Ok, I think that's all for now... I'm sure you'll hear more from me about this. It's fall, y'all. It must be talked about.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Try-It Friday: Thai Style Peanut Pasta.

Have you heard of one pot wonders? I'm sure it's nothing new to you, but it's kind of fascinating to me. You put all of your ingredients in one pot, cook it, and ta-da! "Um, ever heard of a slow cooker, Abby?" Yes... yes, I have. But this is different. It's a pasta dish that you cook the pasta, vegetables, seasoning, etc. all in one pot until it boils down to become cooked pasta goodness with a yummy sauce. I had seen the idea before but my friend Jessie had suggested this recipe to me so I thought it was time that I give it a try... And I'm a fan.

I love pretty much anything Thai. Ok, this isn't legit Thai. I was telling my co-worker about it and she was like, "Oh yeah, did you use *insert some legit Thai noodle here* noodles?" "Um, no, I used fettuccine." So it's not legit Thai. But legit or not... it was tasty. I had my mom over for dinner and she liked it too. My friend Jessie suggested that I add more veggies and chicken and those were great suggestions. The dish wouldn't have been as great without them.

Thai Style Peanut Pasta.

Go ahead... give one pot wonders and non-legit Thai food a try! You'll thank me. (Thanks for the suggestion, Jessie! You'll thank Jessie, too.)

*Update after my aunt Georgie tried out the recipe and had a few questions for me*
-It calls for tamarind paste but I didn't use it. Jessie told me you could substitute brown sugar and rice vinegar for it, so I used 1/2 tablespoon of each in place of 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste.
-I cooked my chicken separately in the oven, just seasoned with salt and pepper, then I diced it up and added it to the pasta at the very end.
-The recipe says to cook it for 10 minutes. I cooked it longer and it wasn't quite as saucy as I wanted so don't be afraid of stopping at 10 minutes - it should give you the results you're looking for (unless you want drier pasta then cook it until your heart desires).
*Hope this helps!*

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Sorry I haven't blogged much lately. My computer has been a little under the weather. Last weekend it decided to stop charging. I thought it was going to be a simple fix but a new battery, logic board, hard drive, and a couple of other things I've never heard before later, and it's back in action. It's now running like it's brand new for 1/4 of the price I would have spent for a new one. This is good news!

Anyway... here's a list of things that have been happening lately...

I've been packing. Next weekend I am moving back to the Missouri side of Kansas City. I will miss my current roommates dearly but am excited for this next adventure in my life!

I've been making macarons. Not to be confused with macaroons. These are light, meringue-based sandwich cookies that are high maintenance to bake but well worth the work. I made champagne macarons and strawberry macarons (which are basically your basic almond macaron with pink food coloring and a strawberry buttercream filling.) They've been a fun new challenge in my baking universe.

I've been working a lot. Things at work have been busy. I shouldn't complain because I get paid for it, but an hour of mandatory overtime every day isn't exactly my cup of tea.

I've been dreaming about fall. Every year I have to kick off the beginning of fall (or close enough to it) by watching You've Got Mail. I watched it the other night with my friend April - it might have been a bit premature because our temperatures are still in the 90s... but oh well.

I've been thinking about Christmas. I know what you're thinking... "Wait a minute, first fall, now Christmas? It's still technically summer!" My church is doing this Christmas event to serve families in our community and the planning has already started. I'm in charge of decorations. The fact that brainstorming on Pinterest is part of serving Jesus is a pretty cool thing.

Alright, that's enough for now. Just thought I'd give you a little update since it's been a while.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Try-It Last Week: Thai Chicken Tacos.

I've been meaning to post about these all week but am just now getting around to it. I've been busy (ahem, Suits, ahem) Ok, not really that busy. I made these Thai Chicken Tacos last week as an impromptu dinner for my family. There weren't any leftovers and I thought they were so good that I made them for myself again a few days later. They are THAT good.

Thai Chicken Tacos

The meat in these tacos really isn't anything too special. It's chicken martinated in rice vinegar and soy sauce then you cook it in a skillet. What makes these spectacular are the fixin's. You serve the taco with cabbage, bean sprouts, green onions, and cilantro. I'm not normally a huge cabbage or bean sprout fan, but those combined with the rest of the ingredients gave the tacos a nice, fresh crunch. The thing that makes this recipe though...? The peanut sauce!

I love peanut sauce.

The first time I made the tacos I used this peanut sauce recipe (I added some extra peanut butter and brown sugar to thicken it up a bit and it was good. The second time I used a different recipe that I had left over from my attempt at spring rolls that I had made a few days before. That was good too but I can't find the recipe again. Anyway, use your favorite peanut sauce. (We also drizzled a little bit of Sriracha to give it a little kick.)

Anyway, these were a hit. They were easy. The ingredients weren't too crazy. (The only kind of weird one was rice vinegar but you can find that at any grocery store.) They were a unique, flavorful take an a classic taco and I'd highly recommend them.