Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Here, There, Everywhere

I feel like the world's worst blogger. When I get busy, my blog pays the price and falls by the wayside. Since anything edible is one of my biggest passions, I really like to write about food. My problem lies herein- I haven't really been cooking for the last week and a half. I mean, I have been, but I haven't been. I've mostly been making meals that are super-fast and/or I've already posted about. This does not equate to interesting blogging, since no cooking means no food pics. The hubby and I fly out on Friday morning, so I'm hoping to do some creative baking while I'm in Oregon. The lighting for taking foodie pictures is perfect in my parent's kitchen, another aspect I'm excited about. So be patient friends, recipes will come :)

 Over the weekend, the hubby and I participated in another 5K. This one was also for breast cancer awareness. The hubby and I were able to con one of our couple friends into participating with us, and we had a great time. I scored a PR, beating my time from the Path to the Cure by 2 minutes! I was pretty proud :) I ran the entire thing, I even turned on the gas for the last mile. Practice is definitely helping. The red hot question of the day: Will I be able to make myself go outside and run under never-ending gray skies and rain? I certainly hope so.

What do I have left to do before we leave? Off the top of my head... laundry, pack, wash the dogs, clean out the fridge/pantry/house of fresh food, get in a couple of more runs, and in general, make sure the house is ok to sit for a month. Argh. So FYI... the blog will be slow for the next couple of weeks. I always plan to blog regularly while I'm in Oregon, it just never really works out that way. It is vacation, after all.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Turkey Pesto Avocado Sandwiches

It has been a crazy week around here! I feel like I haven't had a single second to myself. In fact, I feel slightly guilty for taking the time to sit down and write this post. But, my oh-so-tired feet sorely need a minutes rest, so hammer away at this keyboard I will.

I'm busily trying to tie-up all my loose ends before the hubby and I fly the coop for a month. Doctor's appointments, vet appointments, hair appointments, finding Halloween costumes to take with us, making sure we have everything we need to travel, etc. All this while trying to fit in runs, Zumba classes, blogging, glasses of wine, and exhausted sighs. Argh! I'm ready for a vacation. 8 days!

I'd returned from Zumba Tuesday night around 7:15, needing to make something for dinner fast. As luck would have it, I just happened to have everything I needed in the house AND I'd made homemade pesto the day before. I assembled the sandwiches, threw them under the broiler for a couple of minutes, and dinner was served. Quick, super-easy, and so good!

And that's all I have time for. Really! I'm off to make a pot of soup to have ready for tonight's post-Zumba dinner :)

Ingredients (makes 2):

Multigrain baguette loaf
Pesto, homemade or store-bought
Deli-style thinly sliced turkey breast
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded


1. Turn the oven broiler on.
2. Cut baguette into large chunks. Cut chunks in half to create "slices". Using your fingers, scrape some of the bread's interior out. Spread pesto on the bread slices. On the "bottom" slices, layer turkey, and on top of the turkey, layer the avocado. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of the avocado.
3. Place bread slices on a cookie sheet. Place under the broiler, and bake for 2-3 minutes, or until the mozzarella is melted and slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday in West Virginia

Hubby and I continue our quest of trying new things....

We got a tip from a fellow runner to try running in Ritter Park, which is located in Huntington, WV. The hubby and I had never heard of this park, so we decided to find it. I'm so glad we did, the park is just gorgeous! The park is immaculate and well-manicured. Miles of gravel track loop and wind through the park, where numerous runners huff and puff their way around. There were ducks and squirrels everywhere. This was the place to run. This was my third day running in a row, so I was a bit tired. I'm looking forward to going back when I'm more rested, this is the perfect place to get lost in the beauty around you.

Not the most attractive duck, but I found him charming :)

A long flight of concrete stairs in the park lead to this rose garden high atop the park.

The rose garden even has banquet rooms you can rent for events. The view was just amazing.

The weather was perfect for running. It was about 68º, sunny, no breeze.  I just love fall around here.

More selfies!

A perfectly shaped rose.

Stairs leading to the rose garden, creek below. The creek winds through the park.

Ducks in the creek! 

Leaves beginning to change color...

For lunch, the hubby and I headed about 15 minutes from Huntington to Lesage, WV. There's a little restaurant in Lesage that was featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-In's, and Dives" called "Hillbilly Hotdogs". It was time to try it. It's quite the site to check out.

Cold beer is a must after a fall run. I chose a Pumpkin Hard Cider, which I liked. I definitely wouldn't be able to drink a 6-pack of the stuff, but it was a refreshing change. 

The picnic table we sat at outside was covered in license plates from all over the country. I, of course, had to find the Oregon one. Visitors can sign the plate from the state they are from! I decided that since technically I live in Kentucky, I couldn't sign the Oregon one. But if we bring my parents back here, they sure can! :)

License plate tree.

Splurging on beer battered onion rings.

I chose the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Yum! The hubby had a HUGE Bacon Cheeseburger, which was gone before I could even take a picture. LOL.

Checking out the grounds. 

Riding the Hillbilly Express.

Pondering how they actually got that van up there...

It was a fun Sunday :)
Happy Monday folks! Have a great week!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Creamy Pumpkin Custard

Here's the DL: I made a large batch of those Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies for the hubby to take in to work. Since the recipe only uses 6 tbsp of pumpkin puree, I had almost a whole can leftover. What's a girl to do?

Since today is Game Day for my Ducks (Huck those Fuskies!), I didn't want to spend all day baking. I also wanted to go for a run this morning. What the heck was I going to do with that pumpkin that wouldn't require oodles of time? I found this super easy recipe upon Googling "easy pumpkin recipes". Google was right about one thing, this recipe is majorly simple. The prep took 10 minutes, which I completed while my coffee was brewing this morning. The custards baked for 50 minutes while I drank my coffee. That's it. That was the whole process. I pulled them from the oven, and immediately left to go running. The custards were completely set by the time I got home. It really doesn't get easier than this.

These turned out really well. The flavor of the custard is similar to pumpkin pie filling, but has a different texture. The custard is a little bit stiffer and fluffier. I know that sounds weird, but the texture is hard to describe. The best comparison I have is that the texture is similar to those whipped yogurts you can buy. It's really a perfect fall dessert, though. The hubby and I are going to enjoy these tonight with a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, but whip cream's got to be a sublime topping choice as well.

I hope everyone's having a great fall weekend, and college football game day!



3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz evaporated milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt


1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin through evaporated milk. Whisk until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar through salt. Whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet. Whisk until well combined.
4. Divide pumpkin mixture among 4 ramekins. Place ramekins in a casserole dish. Fill casserole dish with enough water to go halfway up the ramekins. Place casserole dish in preheated oven, bake for 50 minutes.
5. Remove ramekins from water bath, and place on a cooling rack. Cool to room temperature. Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge before serving. Store custards in the fridge.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Running Playlist #1

I fear I have a new addiction. If you had known me 10 years ago (actually, you might have!), you never would have thought I would voluntarily run. I still can't believe how much I like it. Is this growing up? I feel like I've changed so much since I turned 30, how can that be? I've changed more in the last 10 months than I have in the last 10 years. Other changes I've noticed since turning 30:

1. I can't sleep in- What the heck
2. I can't stay up late- What the double heck?
3. I'm obsessed with having fresh flowers in the house.  
4. I've discovered I love mowing the lawn- Yeah, you read that one right.
5. I want to try new things- I've never ever wanted to try new things.

Going along with #5, I actually tried a Zumba class last night. By myself! This is an accomplishment, I usually need someone dragging me kicking and screaming to try a new activity by myself. I found myself nervous before the class, worrying I would look stupid or I would be intimidated. But I forced myself to go, and I'm glad I did. No more fear, I'll be able to continue the class on my own. 

Anyhoo, it's early on Wednesday morning here and I'm just waiting for it to get light to go for my run. And when I do go for my run, I'll be running to my new playlist. It's Miley Cyrus heavy, so beware!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Album Review: "Bangerz"

Image source: www.wikipedia.com
Fair warning, friends. This is a highly indulgent post. I think the last album review I did was for Nickelback's "Here and Now" album in 2011. Hmmm, I seem to have a thing for reviewing music that the majority of people view as "uncool". That's ok, I'm secure enough with myself to confess to buying this album. Back to my warning- if you don't want to read a highly liberal review of a controversial album written by an equally liberal person, I'd suggest closing this post out. That's ok, you can come back tomorrow for the usual foodie posts :)

Let me begin by saying, I'm a fan of the album. Yep, sure am. Let's face it people, this girl started in the business as a child. What's the one thing you can count on children to do? Grow up. No, Miley is not the same person she was when she was 8. She is 20. Sometimes I think people grow up, become adults, and then they come down with amnesia when it comes to their childhoods. I think most 20-year old's are preoccupied with the opposite sex, booze, and partying (or was that just the 22,000+ young adults that went to the University of Oregon?). This album could have been made by me when I was 20 (you know, if I could sing or write music!). Now hold on, let me explain.

I thought I knew everything when I was 20. I'd been in college a couple of years, gathered an impressive amount of knowledge, and basically thought I was a genius. I really thought I would want to party, drink, and never grow up for my entire life. I was right, everyone else was either wrong, or lame, or both. I thought I knew what I wanted, what I liked, and that I would never change my mind about anything. Does this mindset just come with the territory of being 20? Anyways, this is the place that Miley is now, you can tell. A place I can identify with, a place I've been. I'm not there anymore, but c'est la vie.

This is clearly a break-up album. No if's, and's, or but's about it. I can see why Miley and her man had to announce their breakup prior to this release, because the album says it all. I love it. It's got a crazy hip-hop theme, but you can still find some straight-up pop on there, like "#GETITRIGHT". The album's also angry and real. For all the controversy and stunts she's pulled, the girl can sing. Yes, I watched the VMA's. Yes, I heard her. It wasn't her best performance. She sang live on "SNL" and the "Today Show" since then however, and she's sounded strong. Listen to "FU" or "Wrecking Ball" and tell me she's not talented. "4x4" was immediately added to my running playlist. It's probably my absolute favorite song on the album. The song features Nelly, and if you were to buy any songs from the album, that's the one I would pick. There's a ton of other catchy collaborations from other artists as well, such as will.I.am, Future, and French Montana.

One more thing... Miley raps. If you aren't a fan of Ke$ha, you aren't going to be fond of Miley's MC skills. I happen to like Ke$ha, and personally, I gotta give any white girl who wants to rap some credit for their bravery. The bottom line? This is pop music, people, and it grows and evolves into something more outrageous every. single. day. And just when you think you've seen it all, some whippersnapper is going to come along and make everyone say "Miley WHO?". That's just the way it is. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy this very entertaining and catchy album.

Best Downloads: "4x4" ft Nelly, "Wrecking Ball", "We Can't Stop", "FU", and "Maybe You're Right".

Skip: After listening to this album extensively, I wouldn't skip any songs. Buy the entire album (the deluxe version!). It's worth it. Some critics say the album just sounds like noise. I completely disagree, the album is fun and very listen-able.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sticky Toffee Cake

The hubby's birthday was yesterday!

It was a gorgeous day here. While the folks just east of us in Louisville were forced to deal with 7 inches of rain and flash flooding over the weekend, we were somehow spared any sort of weather activity. I think we had a downpour Saturday afternoon, but that's about it. Sunday, however, was just an all-round nice day, and more than likely, our last summer-like day. That's ok, we took advantage. The hubby and I took the puppies into Portsmouth to walk along the river.  We ended up trekking 3 miles, just enjoying scenery and letting the dogs indulge their sensitive noses. Haloti loved the entire ordeal, he didn't quit yanking on his leash until about the last half mile. Gizmo walked for, maybe, a mile and a half. He does have the smallest legs in the family, after all. The hubby carried him most of the time, but Giz still enjoyed himself. Sometimes I think he likes being carried better :)

After that, we pretty much holed up in the house for the day, bingeing on "Breaking Bad". We just started Season 5, Part 1. Man alive, I'm going to miss that show. I've managed to not watch or read any spoilers, so how it all ends will be a surprise. We did manage to tear ourselves away from our "Breaking Bad" marathon long enough to eat birthday cake. This year's cake choice was Sticky Toffee Cake.

I made this cake on Saturday, and I'm so glad I did. It took a long time. A really long time. This cake isn't for the faint of heart. I used a traditional British recipe (you can find it here), and it definitely required some elbow grease to get the job done. First of all, the recipe uses actual dates. Steeped in black tea, then emulsified. I'd never done that for a cake before. Second, the recipe calls for melted butter. Butter is usually where I incorporate air into the cake, by creaming it with sugar. This recipe calls for beating the eggs and sugar until fluffy to incorporate air. What the recipe didn't say is that this takes forever. About 20 minutes in fact. No joke. Third, the sticky toffee sauce is really sticky. I'm not sure why that's applicable, but it did get all over my hands- and subsequently my kitchen, hair, and body. 

The effort was worth it. Everyone loved the cake. The hubby raved. It turned out oh-so moist, and incredibly flavorful.The hubby's mom, aunt, and uncle ended up taking home most of the cake. I did use American equivalents for British items not easily accessible to me. Other than that, I used a food scale to measure the ingredients since the measurements are in grams instead of cups. I'd highly recommend this cake if you have a toffee, caramel, or spice-cake lover in the house. 



400g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
2 mugs of black tea
200g light brown sugar
50g dark brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
4 large eggs, room temp
200g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
350g self-rising flour
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Sticky Toffee Sauce-

100g light brown sugar
50g dark brown sugar
30g butter
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
125ml condensed milk


200g unsalted butter, softened
400g powdered sugar
half the cold sticky toffee sauce
splash of milk


1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease (2) 9-inch spring-form pans. 
2. To make the cake: In a small saucepan, combine dates and tea. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Take an immersion blender, and blend mixture until smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs with the sugars and honey. Beat with a hand mixer until fluffy, 15-20 minutes. Slowly whisk in the melted butter. Fold in the date mixture and vanilla with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, combine flour through salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet, folding together with the wooden spoon. Stir until just combined. Divide mixture among two spring-form pans. Bake in preheated oven 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pans. 
3. To make the sticky toffee sauce: Make the sauce while the cake is baking. In a saucepan, combine the sugars through the salt. Stir over gentle heat, until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and whisk in the cream. Take a toothpick and poke holes in the top of the cakes. Pour a generous amount of the sauce over the tops of the cakes. Allow the cakes to completely cool in their tins before turning them out.
4. To make the buttercream: In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the rest of the sticky toffee sauce, reserving a couple of tbsp to drizzle over the top of the cake. If the frosting is too thick, add a little bit of milk until you reach your desired consistency. 
5. Sandwich the cakes together with half the frosting. Spread the remaining on the rest of the cake. Drizzle the remaining sticky toffee sauce over the cake. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

I think we still look like young-in's :)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm staring out my living room window right now, astounded by the abundance of colored leaves. This is our first fall in the new house, and while we were in the area at this time last year, I didn't seem to notice transition as much last year. This year, however, has been just lovely. The weather is starting to change, but we are still having sunny, warm days. The leaves have shifted color, but they haven't fallen. If the weather could just continue on like this through the winter, I'd be a happy camper :)

Wishful thinking. Truth is, I'll probably be ready for winter when it gets here, too. Funny how that works. I always look so forward to the start of a season, but am soooo ready to move on to the next. In the meantime, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy these cookies.

These cookies are unlike any other pumpkin cookie I've tried before. Pumpkin cookies are almost always cake-y. There's nothing wrong with that. I love a traditional pumpkin cookie. But, once I saw this recipe, I knew I had to give it a whirl. The promise of a chewy pumpkin cookie? Too good to pass up.

This recipe doesn't disappoint. The cookies are most definitely not cake-y. They are chewy. They are also soft, chocolatey, delicious, and addictive. You won't be able to leave these alone. I packed up and shipped off most of this batch to my in-laws, but another batch is being made this week. Don't worry, this batch will be leaving my house forever to travel to the hubby's place of employment. Phew.

Changing the subject completely, the hubby's birthday is tomorrow! I'm so excited, I'm tackling a sticky toffee cake for the occasion. Fingers crossed it turns out!


1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup chocolate chips


1. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugars until no lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour through pumpkin pie spice. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, combine the two. Fold in chocolate chips, try to disperse throughout the dough.
3. Chill dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or dough will be too soft to work with.
4. Preheat oven to 350º. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 2 tbsp-balls, placing them on the parchment paper. Slightly flatten the balls. Bake in pre-heated oven 8-10 minutes. Cookies will look underdone, but cooking them longer will dry them out.
5. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet 10 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. The longer you let the cookies cool, the chewier they become. Let them sit for at least 60 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Recipe courtesy of Sally's Baking Addiction

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lately: 10/3/13

Haloti chased this poor little groundhog up into a tree at our house yesterday, around 3 pm. The poor little groundhog was so scared, he didn't come down until the middle of the night. I kept checking on him all afternoon yesterday, but he didn't move a muscle. He sat like this all day yesterday. I'm happy to say that when I went to check on him this morning, he was gone. Thank goodness. I was having nightmares of trying to get him down after Googling "getting a groundhog out of a tree video". Watch the video. So glad we don't have to do that :)
Retail Value: $127.10
Paid: $45.30
Savings: 64%
Crispy Chicken BLT Salad.
The hubby got me some gorgeous fall flowers last week.

The vacuum scares the beejeezus out of Gizmo. Somehow, he managed to score a ride-along to stay safe from that evil, noisy machine.

Made a batch of lunch burritos to freeze for the hubby.

Fall is upon us, and in this house that means breaking out the heating pad for the pups to share.

Haloti stays true to his namesake, and supports those Duckies!

My shirt for Huntington's Path to the Cure.

After putting in 3 miles on a sunny fall morning last week.

Spaghetti with Toasted Breadcrumbs, Swiss Chard, and Poached Eggs.
One day closer to the weekend! Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Seviche-Style Shrimp and Avocado Tacos

This dish is a lesson in simplicity. It doesn't take a million exotic ingredients, and all day to put a flavorful dinner on the table. This recipe is about as easy as it gets.

I was first introduced to this recipe by my mom, the summer before my senior year of college. I was living with my parents for the summer, taking Calculus at the local community college and working full time as a teller at a bank. I distinctly remember this summer for a couple of reasons:

1. That summer was insanely busy. Very little sleep was had that summer.
2. My mom was on Weight Watchers, and I was doing Slim-Fast.
3. I passed Calculus!

So as my mom was discovering Weight Watchers, she was also bringing lots of healthy new recipes to the table. Literally. This was one of them. I wasn't quite the foodie I am now back when I was younger,  so I completely changed my mom's recipe at the time. I added sour cream, salsa, cheese, onions, and shredded lettuce. And oh yes, flour tortillas.  Looking back, this could have occurred because the only thing I was "eating" all day was Slim-Fast and I was always ravenous by the time I got home. Anyways...

While all that jazz tasted delicious, this recipe really shines by the way that these few ingredients meld together. So please, resist the urge to add more toppings. Slowly put those flour tortillas back on the grocery store shelf, and pick up the corn ones. And for heaven's sake, don't omit any of the ingredients. Just trust me on this one :)

Ingredients (serves 6- 2 tacos each):

1 lb cooked shrimp, tails removed, roughly chopped
1 cup tomato, chopped
1 cup avocado, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup lime juice
12 (6 in) corn tortillas


1. In a large glass bowl, combine shrimp through lime juice. Cover, and chill for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide shrimp mixture among tortillas. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.