Favorite Things

I know I haven’t posted in a while.

I break the silence (perhaps only momentarily) with a list of 20 of my favorite things!

1. Family timeImage2. Photography

3. New book smell

4. The beach

5. Falafel

falafel... mmm

6. Ethiopian cuisine.. drool..

7. A hot shower in the middle of winter

8. English accents

9. Sherlock (BBC version)

10. Niles Crane

11. Homemade deodorant

12. Solo airport travel

13. Independent foreign films

14. Adapting/creating recipes

15. Horse breath

16. Puppy dog eyes

A.Dawn's T_day-7-2

17. Sk6ers

18. Nail polish

19. Tights

20. Boots

Hooray!  That was fun!

Your turn!

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And the award goes to…

I’m sorry I didn’t come back “tomorrow” from my last post. Things have been all up and craziness. We’re moving my Grandma this coming weekend and I feel like I haven’t seen my mom forever, so Sunday I hauled myself down to their house to have lunch with Grandma and dinner with Mom and Dad. Then a friend I haven’t seen forever called, so I went to her house for dessert, a movie and some wine! Yesterday my teeth started aching, dang wisdom teeth, so I have to try to schedule an oral surgery appointment that I can’t afford.

See? Craziness!

Now for some exciting news! Last week I received a note from Sheila over at Elements. The note informed me that I was a recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award! I was so excited and honored! My first award! And an award from a fantastic blogger! Sheila has some beautiful photography of such yummy recipes. The kind of recipes that make you want to have taste-o-vision installed in your computer so you can taste all the yumminess. Please head on over and check out her awesome blog!

Thank you SO much, Sheila!

The rules of accepting and passing on the Versatile Blogger:

*Thank the person who awarded you and link back to them in your post.
*Tell 7 random facts about yourself.
*Pass the award on to 15 new found bloggers.
*Contact each blogger you want to pass the award on to and let them know you’ve done so.
*Let the giver of the award know you accept it…or not!

7 random facts about me:
1: I love to dip things. Salsa, guacamole and chips, veggies and hummus, apples and peanut butter, bread and olive oil.. I’m even known to put condiments on the plate instead of on a sammich just so I can dip it.
2: I spent a year working in a dressage horse barn in Brentwood, New York (on Long Island) and 4 months working on an Arabian horse farm in Tucson, Arizona. Unfortunately I’m not currently riding.
3: My mom is my best friend.
4: My favorite meal of the day is breakfast. Oatmeal, bakes, granola, toast, cereal and almond milk.. it’s ALL good!
5: I have an Associate’s Degree in Fine Arts. I’m sorta working on a painting right now but I have painter’s block!
6: I’m traveling to London this year or next to visit my Aunt’s sister (she’s working over there right now) and brother-in-law. Any suggestions on vegan eats?! And Indian ones? =)
7: I don’t have a favorite genre of music. All types of music have beauty and emotion and I want to experience it all.

15 Newly Found Bloggers:
1. Noelle @ An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
2. Anna @ Newly Wed, Newly Veg
3. Heather @ with a Side of Sneakers
4. Snacking on Sunshine
5. Heidi @ Food Doodles
6. Mighty Vegan
7. Jamie @ Make it Healthy
8. Vegan Culinary Crusade
9. Nichole @ Vegan Niche
10. Dreena’s Vegan Recipes
11. Bitt @ Bitt of Raw
12. Mel @ Melomeals: $3.33 a Day
13. Namastegurl
14. Jessica @ Clean Green Simple
15. Sarah @ Baking Serendipity

So there we have it! I love TONS of blogs and I wish I could pass the award on to everyone. Just know that if you haven’t been listed here, I still visit your blog daily and drool over your recipes. =)

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

Apologies..

I do have some awesome recipes to post.  I promise.

It has been so busy here.  My weekend flew by in a whirl.  Unfortunately we had to put my cat to sleep on Saturday morning.  She had kidney failure and wasn’t responding to treatments.  It was a rough morning, one to match the pouring rain and blustering winds.  After the fact I still had the Halloween party at my bro and sister-in-law’s house.  The following day was a birthday party for my friend’s little girl (she’s 3 already, wow!) and all of a sudden it was Monday again and I still hadn’t gotten to the heap of laundry in the corner.

I’ll post photos and all sorts of yumminess just as soon as I get my own computer to a wifi hot spot!

Cupcakes, costumes, muffins and perogies are coming your way.

Stay tuned!

I be jammin’


Oh yeah, I went there.

Corny, I know, but its SO true! I’ve been wanting to make jam forever but I’ve been afraid! I don’t know how to can and don’t have the materials to attempt a true canning experience (which is why I also haven’t made sauerkraut yet). But the other day I decided to throw caution to the wind and make a “practice” batch of jam!

It was the perfect timing. Annie had just given me some fresh jalapenos from her dad’s garden and I had some blueberries in the freezer! SCORE! I got to work loosely following a recipe I found here. Man o man o man it was DELICIOUS!

Especially smeared on some toast with some peanut butter to munch along with my overnight steel cut oats.


Luscious!

Give it a shot – you won’t be disappointed!

Blueberry Jalapeno Jam
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen and thawed
1/2 cup chopped pumpkin
1/4 cup jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 teaspoons water

In a small bowl, mash berries and add lime juice followed by the water; set aside. In a food processor, whirl around the peppers, vinegar and pumpkin until its as processed as you like. I like mine pretty smooth. In yet another bowl, mix together sugar and gelatin. In a small pot on the stove, combine berry mixture and pepper mixture, bringing to a boil and cooking 5-7 minutes. Add sugar mixture to the pot and whisk vigorously to make sure it dissolves and there are no clumps! Bring this to a boil again and cook about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit before transferring to a 16 ounce jar. It thickens as it cools, I promise! Cool completely before throwing a lid on and storing in the fridge.

Taste of Peru (and Awesomeality)

Kyle got a job!  Pharmacy tech at Walgreens!  Woo hoo!  On a whim, we decided to haul our butts an hour and a half to the north side of Chicago after I got off work to celebrate “in style” at a place that’s been on my radar for a looooong time.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had Peruvian food before, but let me tell you:  Guy Fieri wasn’t kidding when he said “I don’t care if you live within 200 miles of this place, you should walk here.”

The food was phenomenal.  Right off the bat, they serve delicious fresh bread with an insanely flavorful, spicy avocado sauce.  Mmm mmm mmmmmm.  See, Kyle and I were celebrating (both job and foodstuffs) so we split the peruvian tamales and an empanadas de pollo as well.

Nom!

Empanadas and tamales

The tamale was out of this world good.  It was by far the best I’ve ever had.  I will be craving another one of those bad boys soon, I tell ya!  Hell, I would go here every week if I didn’t have to drive so far to get my dinner!  For the main event, I ordered the arroz con mariscos and Kyle went with the lomo saltado, which was featured on the show (as well as the tamale).  I was so excited that I couldn’t even wait long enough to take a picture of Kyle’s food.  Hehe!

Paella to the extreme! Lookit all that seafood!

Cesar, the owner, was incredibly friendly, offering me some of his extra spicy sauce he was about to eat with his own meal (I forgot the name of the peppers he said he used, but he grows his own !!), assisting me in opening the crab legs in my paella (I’m REALLY horrible at it haha) and chatting it up with us while we dined.  Cesar sent out a little Peruvian chocolate filled with caramel (chocotejas) for us to try, too.

Chocotejas

He even agreed to take a photo with me after he and the waitress ran out to give me my hoodie I left sitting at the table.  Oops!  Leave it to me to forget that but remember my leftovers!

Me with Cesar!

After bidding us a safe drive home and making sure we got out of the parking lot alright (how many restaurants in Chicago will do THAT for you??) we were on our way!  It poured rain all the way home and took us about 2 hours to get back but it was totally worth it!  We will definitely be going back.  And soon!  I can taste that tamale now…

Pitas, Weddings and Birthday Treats!

Nutella Brownies!

I’m going to tease you with these deliciously moist and dense, hazelnut-y, Nutella-y brownies while I ramble on about some other stuff!  Some other stuff I’ve taken a while to post about this awesome new place we discovered last week.  But hey, better late than never when it comes to awesomeness like the following!  Ladies and Gents, I give you:

Extreme Pita!

We stopped in to keep me from passing out from hunger on a whim while out shopping last week.  It was between the pitas and Noodles and Company.  I chose pitas all because they had delicious smoothies too!

Mmm de-LISH!

I was SO excited – I got a souvlaki chicken pita with banana peppers added and a root smoothie (it’s not listed on the page yet but it was a delicious combo of carrot, ginger, passion-mango-fruitiness!)

I'm ready for my close-up!

It was so good I ate the WHOLE thing!

Kyle got himself a Classic Italian pita.  He seemed to love his, too!

Eetsa Classeec!

We’ll definitely be visiting Extreme Pita again!  Nice people, great food – its totally a keeper!

I haven’t had too much baking time lately – things have been crazy busy.  I whipped up a rosemary blue cheese bread a few days ago but the bread didn’t turn out quite as I’d planned.  I think I retarded the yeast.  Oops.  Bound to happen sometime!

One of our crazy busy things was my cousin’s wedding this past weekend.  Congrats to Joe and Dawnn!  =)

The happy couple!

We had a fantastic time!  The reception was held outside in their gorgeous backyard.

Cheesin'!

I want to live here!

We laughed, we danced, we stuffed ourselves full of the most delicious catered Italian food I’ve ever had!  I was way too excited to take a picture, though I did think about it briefly while stuffing my face full of eggplant parm, chicken picatta and portabella mushroom pasta (amongst other double helpings).  I also had my first taste of the infamous Rainbow Cone (which I’d never even heard about before the wedding).  The shame!

Rainbow Cone cake and.. hey how did that doughnut get there??

It sure was pretty and what I was told was the butter pecan layer (but I actually think was the Palmer House layer) was delicious.   I don’t see myself sprinting back anytime soon since I like to choose my own oddball creations, thankyouverymuch!  I’m also more attached to froyo than ice cream anymore.  But hey, if you like sherbert, this is your place!  =)

You want to lick the screen don't you?

It’s Kindra’s birthday!  So I whipped up a batch of Nutella Brownies I found over at Nook & Pantry (browse about a bit – there’s some awesome stuff on there!).  Since I never have stick butter in the house anymore, I pondered what would happen if I used olive oil in place of the stuff.  Well let me tell you: these were freaking INSANELY good, the perfect richness.  I cannot wait to take them into work to present them to the gals there!  Too bad I don’t have a silver platter.

Nutella Brownies
4 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup Nutella
6 tablespoons turbinado sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon hazelnut extract
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 (325 if using a glass dish) and line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Roughly chop chocolate, place in a bowl along with olive oil and melt in the microwave until all incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together Nutella, eggs, sugar, salt and extracts. Add chocolate mixture and beat until well combined. Next comes the flour and hazelnuts, but only mix until just combined. Pour into prepared dish and bake 20-25 minutes or until the brownies aren’t shiny on top anymore. I know, real scientific of me, but the toothpick test didn’t work! =) ENJOY!