Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pasta with Edamame and Salmon

One of my favorite things to have on hand are Wild Alaskan Salmon Burgers from Costco. A bag of 12 costs about $13 and they cook in 5-8 minutes. They're super versatile; I eat them on buns, salads, with pasta, with eggs.

For a lazy, quick lunch today I boiled some pasta, added frozen edamame 5 minutes before it was done, and put a salmon burger in a skillet. When the pasta and edamame were cooked, I added them to the burger, flaked it, added a little olive oil, lime juice, dill, red pepper, salt/pepper.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I really like tofu. I like trying new recipes for tofu. But I have awful luck with pan-fried tofu recipes. They almost NEVER turn out like they should. So many say "cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown and crispy" but I cannot get marinated tofu to brown in less than 15-20 minutes and it splatters like crazy making a mess of the range and the floor. It might get a little crispy, but as soon as I add a sauce, it gets chewy and soft. I've tried coating tofu in egg and flour or breadcrumbs, but the coating gets soggy or falls off and it sticks and splatters. I've tried "deep" frying, in an inch or two of oil, and it's okay, but both me and the house stink afterward.

Well, I think I made some awesome tofu two nights ago for pad thai. I'm really excited about the recipe, and think it's going to be my go-to method now for crispy tofu.

Crispy Tofu

1 block extra-firm tofu cut into 1/2-inch cubes and blotted dry

1/2 c cornstarch
1 tsp garlic salt
few sprinkles ground pepper
red pepper flakes to taste

Mix dry ingredients. Put tofu in big bowl, pour dry ingredients over top. Gently toss, shake, swirl tofu until each piece is totally coated with the cornstarch mixture. Add more cornstarch if necessary. Heat about a quarter inch of canola oil in a non-stick skillet over med-high heat. I usually add one piece of tofu and see if it really sizzles when added. Carefully slip tofu into skillet, piece by piece, and turn when golden brown (about 3-5 minutes depending on heat). I made two batches because I have a little skillet.

I ate about 1/4 of the tofu before adding it to to the pad thai. It was crunchy, salty, spicy, fried, and delicious. After tossing it with the sauce, it did soften up a little, but still crunched.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

caramel attempt one

I was craving caramel apples last week so I looked up a few recipes. 101 cookbooks website had a delicious-looking recipe
and this one on epicurious looked amazing. I compromised and used ingredients from both, although I can't quite remember the ratio. I added half&half, butter, brown sugar, honey, and salt. I had a heck of a time... the mixture looked really curdled after it came to a boil. I'm not sure if it's because I used half&half instead of heavy cream, brought it to a high temperature too quickly, or because I only made 1/2 cup of caramel sauce. Regardless, it looked gross when I took it off the heat but really came together after setting the pan on ice water and cooling while whisking. I ate it all. I'll keep working on this recipe because I think it'll be worth it once done just right :).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lemon Parmesan Pasta

We've been settled in to our new place for almost a month, but it wasn't until a couple weeks ago that we had our first "real" meal at the table! I made about 8 oz of pasta, drained it, added some lemon zest and juice, salt/pepper, lots of grated parm, and fresh spinach. It was really simple and really delicious. Here's the table all set with new dishes and place mats! More pictures soon of our new hutch and dining/living room :). First official day of school tomorrow!
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Place!

Well here's the front porch. Mom's coming with my Great Grandmother's bedroom set and my aunt's couch on tuesday, and we're buying a hutch for the dining room! "complete" photos soon, for empty-house photos see below:
Indianola House

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick DC Trip

Had a quick trip to DC with mom and brother Sunday and Monday. We stayed at a gorgeous hotel, walked around the mall at midnight, visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (mammal exhibit!), and ate delicious falafel at Amsterdam Falafelshop
Downtown at Midnight

Hotel Lobby

Stuffed mammals at Smithsonian

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Time Flies

Time seems to pass so slowly sometimes. Then I realize it's been almost TWO WEEKS since I last updated! I'm sorting papers right now, but soon I'll find my camera cord and upload lots of photos of the new place and a few recipes I've made lately.
One bit of news: our wedding photos were posted on the photographers website a day or two ago! Overall I love them, and I'm excited to have some prints to hang and an album to put on our new coffee table.

Friday, July 24, 2009


We're moving! Today and tomorrow! Right now Dylan is taking a carload of the "craft/guestroom" items to the new place. I'm still packing up the kitchen and organizing what we already have packed up. It's chaos, but we can't wait to settle into our new place with our new things and really make an effort to get/stay organized. I'll post pictures of the empty place as soon as I upload them, and will post more once we're moved in. Right now we're thinking western-themed living room, ship/ocean themed dining room, and air travel in the guest room. We have so much stuff...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

101 simple salads for summer

Mark Bittman is one of my all-time favorite columnists and cookbook authors. Several times a year he posts an extensive, amazing, simple recipe list. Today it's 101 Simple Salads for the Season

Here are a few that initially popped out:

13. A red salad: Combine tomato wedges with halved strawberries, basil leaves, shaved Parmesan and balsamic vinegar.

35. Combine cooked or canned black beans with shredded cabbage and this vinaigrette: olive oil, fresh orange juice, not much sherry vinegar, ground cumin.

38. Cube watermelon; combine with roughly chopped mint, crumbled feta, sliced red onion and chopped Kalamata olives. Dress lightly with olive oil and lemon juice. Despite saltiness of feta and olives, this may need salt.

49. Toss greens with walnuts, blue cheese and raspberries; drizzle with a simple vinaigrette. Sell for $14 a serving.

95. Mix cooked couscous or quinoa with orange zest and juice, olive oil, maybe honey, sliced oranges, raisins or dried cranberries, chopped red onion and chopped almonds. Serve over greens, or not.

Monday, July 20, 2009

mason jars and dance floors

I love mason jars- I love drinking from them, canning, storing stuff in them, and decorating with them. I have vivid memories of canning homemade salsa, chili sauce, and pickles as a child, and recently I've made/canned applesauce, apple butter, and blackberry/strawberry jam. While planning my wedding I obsessed over several wedding blogs. One was a backyard wedding where I found inspiration for mason jar lanterns. My brother and I made 10 and hung them from Shepard's hooks around the dance floor. The centerpieces ended up being a large circle of 6 jars, alternating ivory votives in jelly jars and bouquets in pint jars. They were gorgeous (thanks Jess, Hillary, & Ed!). I bought a lot of jars, and I have all of them left over, which means lots of canning in my future :). Here are a couple reception pictures from after the party:

We considered a lot of options when it came to dancing: a bigger tent and a real dance floor underneath ($$$$$), a snap-together hardwood floor to put on the concrete patio, dancing on concrete, on the grass, digging a pond and putting colored lights and a clear dance floor over top (we seriously had one company suggest this)... and ended up talking to the builder who suggested a roll of laminate flooring over concrete. We were able to buy a remnant of a neutral, smooth floor, which cost at least several hundred dollars less than any other option. It was super easy and fast and now my aunt/uncle are covered for the next decade of patio dance parties. I absolutely loved what they did with the lights over the floor: I hit up BigLots a day or two after Christmas and found pearl lights marked down to $5 and bought 8 boxes. They were a little more elegant than standard white Christmas lights, and were just beautiful.

I'll leave you with some blurry boogieing!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Banana Cupcakes

Lately I've just been wanting simple, easy food- basically lots of pasta, salads, and soup. I got Moosewood's Simple Suppers from the library the other day, and love it. The first (and only) thing I've tried at this point, are the banana cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting. I thought they were delicious, but a little sweet. My husband said "I want to be buried in these" :)

moosewood's banana cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting
wet ingredients

1 1/2 c mashed bananas
1/2 c veg oil
1 1/3 c brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 c plain yogurt

dry ingredients
1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
8 oz cream cheese (room temp)
3 T butter (room temp)
1 c powdered sugar

1 T cocoa
(I also added about 1 T strong coffee)

Use an electric mixer to combine wet ingredients until smooth, sift dry ingredients together then add to wet and mix on slow speed until completely combined. Spoon into 2 lined cupcake pans, filling each cup 2/3 full. bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

For icing- mix all ingredients with electric mixer until smooth, ice cupcakes after they cool.

**A note about my icing: I realized as I was beating the butter and cream cheese that we didn't have powdered sugar, so I used about 2/3 c granulated sugar that had been food processed. it didn't get very fine, and the icing ended up looking a lot like melted chocolate ice cream, but it was really, really good.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

So I've been married for three weeks and it's pretty wonderful. Both Dylan and I thought the wedding and reception were perfect. It was warm, but the rain held off and everyone made it safely. Our buddies Glenn and Travis wrote original songs for the ceremony, Jess did an incredible job arranging the flowers, the reception site looked absolutely gorgeous thanks to my cousins/aunts/uncles, and people raved about Jeni's Ice Cream (we decided on lemon with blueberries yogurt, dark chocolate, and gravel road). I'll post lots of photos once they're all uploaded.

Right now we're looking for a place to move in two weeks, I'm still trying to land a full-time job, and Dylan's looking for something new and a little more exciting for work.
I'm also thinking about making the banana cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting I saw in a
Moosewood cookbook I checked out from my new favorite library, Grandview Heights...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

favorite youtuber

If you haven't seen anything from Michael Gregory, I strongly recommend you check out his videos. They're so, so clever. And catchy. The first is an old favorite. The second, I just saw tonight, and think it's adorable.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Farm Day!

Earlier today my friend Mia and I took a little road trip to visit Guy's Family Farm in Clarksville, Ohio, where I'm buying most of the flowers for the wedding. It was wonderful. We met with Sandy, who gave us a little tour and introduced us to her family, puppy, and kittens. It looks like we'll be able to use the following in the bouquets and centerpieces:




Sweet William

I'm just thrilled, and can't wait to see what JessP does with the flowers. For centerpieces, we're going to arrange mason jars on each table, alternating bouquets in pints and votives in jellies. Can you believe it's only two weeks away?!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


It's been too long.

First, the good news. Dylan and I had our engagement photos taken a few weeks ago by East Avenue Studios, and they turned out absolutely beautifully! I highly recommend them to anyone in need of photographers. The photos were all taken at Whetstone Park of Roses. Dylan proposed under that tree- it was where we spent most of our time together in Spring, 2007 :).

Now the excuses. I've run into a few problems over the past two months- the first was that my macbook retired. A little wine-damage rusted the mother board and it would've cost nearly as much to replace the computer as it would've to fix. Thankfully the hard drive was intact so we were able to buy an external casing for it. Then Dylan's computer died two weeks later. My sister saved the day a few weeks after that, by sending her old iMac, which has been wonderful.

In the meantime, three wedding projects got nixed:

1. I decided the table runners would be a little too busy (and a little too much work) with the stoneware and china I was finding, and decided to return the fabric to Joann's.

2. We found a caterer, who includes glassware, silverware, china, and linens with dinner. So I stopped looking for vintage china and stoneware, and now have about 100 plates I'll be trying to sell at an upcoming yard sale. I'll keep you posted about when/what that will be.

3. The paperwhites stopped blooming. I was doing a third test batch a few weeks ago, and none of them grew buds! I was worried June might be too late to try to force them, and now we've got 75 bulbs to plant in the yard (when we move to a place with a yard)!

So, in addition to flowers for bouquets and corsages, we need them for centerpieces! That Guys Family Farm is about halfway between Columbus and Cincinnati, and responsibly grows beautiful flowers. The plan is to pick up a few hundred stems a day or two before the wedding.
Hopefully, they'll look something like this based on what was available last June:

The last thing I'll write about is ceremony music. Three of our best friends are going to play for the ceremony, so now it's just a matter of finalizing the songs we'd like to have them play. Right now we know the bridesmaid's processional will be an instrumental interpretation of Romulus by Sufjan Stevens, and I'll walk down the aisle to one of my favorites, Waves, by i woke up i did the same thing (Glenn). Still trying to decide preludes, postludes, and recessional. Please, please, please offer suggestions!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Table runners and sangria

Newest project in the works: wedding site

I also bought 3 fabrics for table runners:

I'll make them about 14 inches wide, but I'm undecided about the length. I think we'll rent ground-length white table clothes for 5ft round tables and lay these on top- maybe they should be 84 inches? Any ideas?

For the reception, I decided mojitos would be a little labor-intensive, so I think I'd like to have punch bowls or pitchers of white sangria! I have a test batch in the fridge right now. Never made sangria before... so we'll see how this turns out.

Recipe I used: 8 strawberries, 1 granny smith apple, 1 nectarine, 1 lemon, 1 lime, 3 tbs sugar, 1 bottle chardonnay, 3 shots peach schnapps. And we'll top if off with soda water when we're ready to drink.

I have no idea how it'll taste... but it's pretty!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

the dress the dress the dress!

this isn't it:

This was the dress I thought I wanted to get married in. Before I was engaged (but knew I was going to get married within a year or two) I fell in love with this dress from jcrew, but it was $1300, which was a lot more than I wanted to spend. I spent a lot of time online looking for a scoop neck, a-line dress that was under $500, and ended up finding something on target's website for $80. I figured it was worth a shot to order it, try it on, and pay a bit more to have alterations done so it looked more like the jcrew dress. When it came, I thought it fit perfectly, and for about 2 1/2 months I was convinced I could make the target dress into something I loved. But the past three weeks or so, I haven't wanted to go near the dress. I've been having nightmares about my wedding day and that dress, so I decided to go out with Mia and just see what else was possible for June 20. We went to Easton thinking there might be bridesmaids dresses at Nordstrom, parked nearby, and popped into BCBG Max Azria to see if there was anything worth trying on. There were only a few white dresses, none of them very interesting, except for this one...

and it was really beautiful and so much like some of the $5,000 dresses I was pining for...
vera wang collection- 12248

and there was only a size 8 in the store, but it was almost $400 which seemed like a lot. I tried it on, and really, really liked it. It was a bit big in the chest, but the length was perfect, it was light, and moved, and was so comfortable. We had them hold it, went to a few other stores, didn't see anything, and I decided it was definitely worth $400. I went back to buy it and for whatever reason, it rang up as only $250! I also bought an antique gold and rhinestone barrette that's beautiful and was on sale for $11.
So the past 24 hours I haven't been able to stop looking at it or thinking about how it's really, truly mine. I took it to a tailor a little bit ago to have it taken in a bit. It's probably good it will be out of the house for a while, otherwise I'd wear it out and get it dirty trying it on so often.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Well, I can't believe it's been a week since my last post. Time is just flying. One wedding "to do" that's been crossed off for a while was finding bridesmaids dresses. I wanted to find something affordable, flattering, summery, and something that could be worn again after the wedding. I look at the j. crew sale page pretty often, and love so many of their dresses. A note about j. crew sale items: there are patterns to their sales and promotions, usually a cycle between free shipping and 20% your total order. So I saw this dress, loved it, but it was $170. A few weeks later, this color was on sale for $99, fast forward a few more weeks, $69. I was worried that some sizes might sell out, so when there was free shipping I ordered dresses for everyone. When the dresses finally arrived, one of them was actually a yellow blazer instead of a yellow dress, so I went into the store to return it. By this time, the promotion had cycled to an additional 20% off, so while I was returning the blazer, I asked about a price adjustment, and they did it! All the dresses ended up costing about $55 a piece.

I'm also making progress on my plate collection. I had a great run to the Ohio Thrift on Cleveland Avenue and found about 10 dinner plates and 4 salad plates for $.20-$.60 apiece! I'm about to run to a few other locations- Ohio Thift is the only thift store I've found that have individually color-coded plates. FYI- the last Wednesday of every month everything in the store is 50% off!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pasta Salad

I love pasta salad but I don't normally crave it in the winter. The sunny and 64 degree weather in Columbus today has my body confused, because I can't think of anything but spring cleaning and pasta salad.

A few weeks ago I was at Trader Joe's and found 1lb bags of multigrain fusilli for $.50. I'm not sure if that's the normal price, but I bought four bags because it was cheap, looked tasty, and 1 serving has 8g protein and 6g fiber. So in this recipe, I used Trader Giotto's Multigrain Fusilli with Flax. I also used the minced garlic from TJ's. I bought a jar recently and just love it. I've been using it in everything lately.

Fresh Herb and Lemon Pasta Salad

In a small bowl combine:

1 tbs chopped fresh mint
1 tbs chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
zest and juice from 1 lemon

In a large bowl combine the following and toss with the dresing:

1 lb cooked pasta, rinsed until cool, and drained
1 cup shredded zucchini, loosely packed
1 shredded carrot
1 chopped green onion
15 oz can chick peas, drained, rinsed

I ate a bowl of this at room temperature right after I made it and really enjoyed it, but I bet it would also be good warm or cold, too. I really threw together bits of what I had around, so the measurements are all estimates, but probably pretty close.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Reception centerpieces

Well, I think it's starting to feel a little more like spring this week. It's actually beginning to get light outside before 7, it might be 58 tomorrow, and I can't stop thinking about my wedding-flower garden...
I think I'm going to start seeds indoors in the next week or two, take a few trips to Cincinnati to till our old vegetable garden, fertilize, and plan, and then... to plant! I'm really so, so excited by the thought of growing most of my flowers. I know I'll be making frequent trips back home over the next 3 month anyways, so I'll be able to see the flowers growing and help weed and water. We'll see. I met with my florist (and best friend) on Skype the other day. She's in France right now, and recommended 5 start finding pictures of bouquets I love instead of focusing on flowers that bloom in early June. That makes a lot of sense.

The photos below are from a site,, that has some amaaaaazing photos and ideas. Really, there are too many.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Growing Paperwhites!

Since I've been little, I've always taken an all or none approach to self-improvement. Usually I'll make a list and try to fix everything at once and end up changing nothing. I still haven't learned! I just made too many resolutions this year. So far- the kitchen has stayed cleaner, I've been cooking more, and Dylan and I have been working out at least 3 times a week. But this blog has been seriously neglected and there are so many things I would love to be documenting right now! I'm still doing a lot of wedding planning. There are only 115 days until I get married and so many things to do!

One of the big, BIG things I've decided to try and do myself are the flowers. I've had little gardens, and patio plants, but I've never grown flowers. It might be too big of a thing to try and do myself, but there's not a lot of cost involved, and so much potential.
I don't think I've mentioned this yet- but I bought 100 paperwhite bulbs a month or two ago. I was reading about live centerpieces, and thought it would be really cool to grow my own or buy plants or something. Paperwhites seemed to be the easiest and prettiest to try, so I went ahead and ordered them for about $60. I decided to plant two early to see how long it would take for them to bloom, if jars and pebbles would work, how they smelled, etc. Well, my first one just bloomed! Only one of the two bulbs I initially tried grew roots. One just got moldy- I'm not sure if it was the bulb or the amount of water... but I started a third bulb two days ago and it's doing just fine! I'm keeping the rest of the bulbs in my bathroom closet- which isn't insulated (so pretty chilly) and it's completely dark.

Here are a few pictures:
Below is the two-day old baby. I pulled the little guy out of the dark two days ago and stuck him in the jar on top of about 2 inches of pebbles. I added just enough water to touch the bottom of the bulb, and set him in front of a bright window.

Here's a full-grown one. I planted him about 4 1/2 weeks ago. You can see all the roots!

w is the full-grown one next to the baby and a close-up of the flowers. It was a little wobbly, so I pushed two wooden skewers on either side of the bulb and tied the whole thing with a little ribbon. There were three sets of buds (my flower anatomy is bad- i'm not sure what they really are called...) and the first two bloomed about 4 days ago. The third just bloomed yesterday! The one flower is reallllly fragrant. I don't mind the smell at all, but the one bulb can be smelled in both rooms downstairs.

I'm pretty excited about these. I hope the flowers last at least a week or two- it'll be so much less stressful knowing I can have a larger window to start the bulbs and have blooms in time for the wedding!

More soon on the other flowers I'm hoping to grow for bouquets!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Lately we've had a little snow and lots of freezing weather. Right now it's 3 degrees! I made split pea soup a few days ago and just reheated the last of it. Here's what I did:

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

a few tbs. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1lb split green peas, rinsed
4 cubes vegetable bouillon cubes (for 8 cups)
about 10 cups water
splash soy sauce
rosemary, black pepper, and salt to taste.
few tablespoons fresh parsley

In one pot boil the peas, 8 cups water, and the 4 cubes, covered, for about 30 minutes. I usually use Knorr Vegetable Bouillon. It's cheap and available at Kroger (or in Dolle family Christmas stockings).

Meanwhile, in another, big, stock pot cook the onion and garlic in oil over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes (covered.) Add the celery then peas/broth when soft, and the parsley. I pureed about half of this, then added the soy sauce, rosemary, pepper, and an additional 2 or so cups of water. It simmered, covered, for another 45 minutes or so, until I was ready to eat, but would've been good sooner. I topped my bowls with spoonfuls of sour cream and dunked sour dough bread.

A note about cubed bouillon:
I really like but Mark Bittman and really enjoyed a recent NYTimes article of his-
Fresh Start for a New Year? Let’s Begin in the Kitchen, but I don't agree with what he has to say about cubed bouillon. I've tried making fresh vegetarian stock for soups... and sometimes they turn out to be amazing- but it's usually more chopping, cleaning, and time than it's worth.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

When I first moved into my new house I imagined myself doing a lot more making than I actually have been. I had lists of projects, recipes, and plants I wanted to try, and was going to document them all here. But that hasn't been the case. And when I have taken pictures of things I'm making, I'm too lazy to upload the pictures from my camera to put them up here. But I have new year's resolutions, and news from November!
First, the news: I'm engaged, and getting married June 20! The date was finalized after weeks of indecisiveness. Dylan and I are getting married at the church I grew up attending, and the reception is going to be in my aunt and uncle's back yard. There's tons to plan and think about, so this blog might temporarily become a blog for wedding/reception ideas.
Second, the resolutions:
1. Update blog regularly, my goal right now is three times a week.
2. Exercise regularly. Again three times a week.
3. Cook more often. I've gotten into a habit of making really boring food that isn't very delicious nor is it very good for me.
4. Keep things cleaner around here.
5. Start working at least three days a week. I'm substitute teaching these days, which means I choose the days and locations that I work. I'm not taking classes anymore so there's absolutely no excuse for me to not work at LEAST three days a week. I really should work 4 or 5.

And now, I'm off to do laundry and straighten up the kitchen so I can blog about the black bean soup I'm going to make.