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Tag Archives: cocktails

Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili

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As I said, I went to visit my parents this weekend, which meant I needed to stock up on things unavailable in the Fort. Essentially this means that every time I go home, I go a little crazy at the bulk bin section in Whole Foods. This past weekend was no exception, and I left the store with 3lbs of wheat berries, among other things. Now I just needed a way to use those wheat berries, without Brent objecting too much. Brent has already made it clear he is not a fan of the “weird chewiness” of wheat berries, so I sought a way to disguise them a bit.

One of my favorite recipe sites is Eating Well, and so I checked there first. One of the first recipes that came up was this chili recipe. I like beans, chili and wheat berries, so it sounded like a good fit to me. The only change I made was to use fire-roasted diced tomatoes because I love them in a big way.

Loved, loved, loved the flava of this chili. It was a total winner. Even Brent said “Yeah, the flavor is really good. I can tolerate the wheat berries.” Praise of the highest sort, obviously.

Things are going pretty fantastic here at casa Monroe, so to celebrate, I dragged Brent out for a drink. We went to Old Crown which is definitely my current favorite place for cocktails in the Fort. In fact, when we sat down, the bartender said “Hey. You guys were here last week, right?” Guilty.

After a magnificent whiskey sour, we got back home in time for The Biggest Loser, and I’m going to hang out with Brent and catch up on some Hulu shows.  🙂

Dinner, Dessert, Drinks & Dancing

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This weekend my friends Tessa, Greg, Kathryn, and Jesse came to visit us in the Fort! I love getting together with my friends, and I was so excited this time because we planned on going dancing! I am quite possibly the world’s worst dancer (Brent tells me I should hate dancing because I’m so bad at it), but I enjoy it so much! Before the boozin and groovin, I fed the troops. I made a batch of Teany’s Top-Secret Chili from this book. This is probably my favorite chili recipe. I love the seitan in it.

Everyone enjoyed dinner, as I knew they would (Tessa’s the one who gave me the recipe. She loves it). I also had a pitcher of pre-made POM margaritas, which were also a big hit. No meal, especially one for my friends, is complete without dessert! I made a batch of Mucho Margarita Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I once again used my tequila-lime buttercream frosting. So deliciously sweet and tart!

After some dinner, dessert and a few drinks, we were off the the bar. I made a fool of myself, had way too much fun, and stayed out way too late! Luckily, once we were at the bar, I managed to have equal amount of water and booze so I woke up feeling as close to normal as I could hope for.

I’m glad I got in a fun weekend with friends because I start back at school on Wednesday, so the rest of my summer may be a whole lot less fun. I’ll leave you with a photo of Kat, Tess, and I from the cab ride (love college roomies!).

In Honor of Cinco de Mayo

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I present to you the POM margarita! The folks at POM Wonderful contacted me a while ago (a long while!) to see if I would like to sample some of their pomegranate juice. I was delighted to do so, but unfortunately it took me a while to get around to doing so. With the house and school and family stuff going on, the juice sat in my fridge for quite some time, until I decided to bust it out in the form of an adult beverage.

I have to give Brent the credit for this drink. I was on the couch while he whipped this up in the kitchen. For one drink he used: 2oz tequila, 1/2oz simple syrup, 1/2oz lime juice, 1/2oz POM and a splash of triple sec. Amazing! I was pretty much in love with this margarita. I highly recommend it. 🙂

Belated Valentine’s Day Post

Hey all. My posting has been so sporadic, sometimes I wonder why I bother, but the blog is (if nothing else) a fun reference for me when I’m meal-planning. On to tonight’s post. If you read last year’s Valentine’s Day dinner, you may remember that Brent always cooks me dinner. This year was no exception.

While he was preparing dinner, Brent presented me with a cocktail ( also tradition), which was Stoli strawberry vodka, lime juice, and some sort of punch. Delicious and pretty. 🙂

Our appetizer was a mixed baby greens salad, topped with balsamic caramelized onions. He just sautéed this until caramelized and added splash of vinegar to deglaze the pan. At least I think that’s what he did. I was on the couch 😉 These onions elevate any salad to spectacular.

For our main course, Brent went with Sole Meuniere and fingerling potatoes. I love these potatoes! Unfortunately, the sauce for the fish was just a bit too sour. I guess I don’t love lemon as much as I thought I did, but it was nice to try something different.

In addition to schoolwork, I’ve been obsessed with the Olympics. Brent thinks my focus on the Olympics is borderline insane. I think he’s just sick of ice dancing. Oh, also I got my cholesterol test done, and it’s super high. 😦 Can’t outrun genetics I guess. I have a follow-up doctor’s appointment in two weeks, and I’ll get a better understanding then, but you may be seeing some dietary changes in the Monroe house.

I have more to post, so hopefully I’ll be back before next week!

Fresh & Flavorful

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Tonight was like our Friday because I’m going out of town tomorrow to visit my family and attend a bridal shower. Obviously tonight’s dinner need to include the bounty from the CSA, but I also wanted pizza and cocktails! Like I said, it’s like Friday. 🙂

Our “first course” was a fresh, flavorful CSA salad made with the lettuce mix and the pea shoots (and some English cucumber), along with some homemade red wine vinaigrette.

HPIM3474This was so flavorful. I have no idea which lettuces were included in the mix, but I got so many different flavors from it. I tasted something herbal, and brent claimed he tasted “something oaky, kind of like bourbon.” The salad was tender and absolutely delicious.

Up next, I made personal pizza for each of us. I thought it would be fun for us to each make our own pizza, but all Brent was willing to do was put the toppings on his. My pizza was out of this world good. (I could sense Brent rolling his eyes even as I typed that.) My toppings were homemade tomato sauce, roasted red pepper slices and goat cheese all stacked on a whole wheat crust!

HPIM3479I like to cut my pizza into to tiny slices because it takes longer to eat and extends my delicious enjoyment. 🙂 It was absolutely phenomenal! I’ve become addicted to these roasted red peppers. Love them! Tasty. Tasty. Tasty!

Our dessert course was… mojitos! They made use of the CSA apple mint. Brent makes a great mojito, probably because it’s his favorite drink. 🙂HPIM3488

Now I’m enjoying my mojito while watching season 4 of Weeds on DVD. Tomorrow is work, animal shelter, 4 hour drive and then Chicago deep dish pizza!!! I’m hoping when I come home I’ll have a wonderful nursing program acceptance letter waiting for me!

Nearly Done!

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I finished final number 2, and I got results from my micro final too! I’m feeling pretty good about ending the semester. 🙂 Unfortunately, I also had to go to the dentist today. Blah. So this evening before my test, Brent made dinner (Thanks!) while I was napping off my Novocain. Something Mexican would have been fun, but we had a block of tofu that needed to be used so we had some soba noodles with tofu, sugar snap peas, red bell pepper, and carrots. The sauce was made of, according to Brent, “some Asian condiments.”

hpim3279It was delicious – even if I could only chew with one side of my mouth. After finishing my exam (which went very well) in record time, I stopped at the store to grab some lemons and limes in preparation for a celebratory cocktail. I was feeling particularly dedicated though, so I did head to the gym for a cardio workout first.

Now I am finally on the couch enjoy said celebratory cocktail: a margarita! My recipe for margaritas is super simple, maybe not authentic, and not too strong: 1 part each: lemon juice, lime juice, tequila, triple sec and simple syrup.


I need your help! My work is having a potluck cookout on Friday and they would like me to bring a dessert. I’d like to make something bite-size or at least individually portioned, but I’m kind of cup-caked out, and I’m not sure cookies would be exciting enough. Any suggestions?

Cheered Up!

As I mentioned earlier, I got a great surprise yesterday afternoon, which was just the break I needed from my pity party. The very sweet Nicole sent me an awesome Secret Valentine package!

hpim2844I got a really cute mug with the Thoreau quote: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams…” which I love. English was my second major in school, and I spent quite a bit of time dealing with Thoreau. With the mug was a cute mini book of inspirational quotes and a very sweet note from Nicole inside. 🙂 A West Chester University key-chain, which was a very cute personal touch and lots of mini candies — M&Ms, Twix, and Snickers, which Brent was all over, and quite a few new bars! I haven’t tried any of these yet, so I’m really excited. What is even more exciting are the mint chocolate M&Ms! I’ve seen these but never tried them, and I LOVE mint chocolate things. Yum! Thank you so much Nicole!! This package made my day! 🙂 I also want to thank Lee for organizing this great exchange!

I spent this afternoon wrangling with butter and sugar to produce the toffee!! I hope you’re excited Julie! It will be on its way tomorrow!

hpim2850Dinner was pretty quick and easy. Sadly, it has a pretty low blog-worthiness because it is a repeat of the Bulgur Salad with Green Onion Vinaigrette from Bobby Flay. Still delicious.

hpim2853I again added a can of chickpeas, and we have leftovers for lunch tomorrow! I actually felt like being lazy and going out to eat, but after much internal debate, my wallet was spared and we ate what was on the menu.

I have spent the better part of my evening struggling with a less than awesome physiology lab and being stressed out.  I managed to clean the kitchen, bathrooms, and vacuum up copious amounts of dog hair as well. I did, however, skip my workout. My mental health had to take priority over a sweat session. Brent left for the gym without me, but, because my husband loves me (and it’s a big hassle for him when I’m stressed), he came back with secret ingredients and made me this!

hpim2855So now I’m enjoying a mid-week Cosmopolitan while watching Lost! I love Brent, really, even though he annoys occasionally. This sort of thing makes up for the fact he continually leaves his shoes in the kitchen for me to trip on. 🙂

Friday Night Cocktail & Saturday Night Grocery Shop

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After the week we had, I felt a Friday Night Cocktail was a must. We didn’t want to really buy alcohol, so I used what we had in the house: tequila! I made a tequila sunrise with 1 ounce tequila, 4 ounces orange juice, and a splash of grenadine.


I had a fairly full day today. From 10-2 I was attending volunteer training at our local animal shelter, where I’ll be volunteering one afternoon a week. I’m happy to be helping, because this is the same place we got Larry from. (Brent has made me promise I won’t bring anymore dogs into our home :)) After that, I studied a bit, made it to the gym for a run, and then went grocery shopping.

This week’s meal planning was a little unusual because we’ll be gone on Thursday and Friday. My brother’s graduation from basic combat training in Friday morning in Fort Knox, so we’ll be traveling down there and spending Thursday with my family and coming back Friday afternoon, so we bought quite a few car snacks so we don’t have to stop for food during the drives.


hpim2719THE LIST:

  • eggplant
  • shallots
  • onions
  • ginger
  • cilantro
  • garlic
  • Yukon Gold potatoes
  • bananas
  • 1 sweet potato
  • apples
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • Dates (I’m making my BSI entry tomorrow morning!)
  • cumin
  • 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • Celestial Seasonings Chocolate Caramel Enchantment Chai tea
  • tortilla chips
  • little bag of kettle chips
  • Planter’s Fruit & Nut Trail Mix
  • KIND Almond Coconut Bar
  • Clif Maple Nut Bar
  • chopped walnuts
  • 1 Chobani Blueberry Greek Yogurt
  • 1 gallon skim milk
  • eggs
  • frozen green beans

All for a grand total of $47.12, and this should feed us until Saturday morning breakfast. 🙂

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! I’m making Brent’s favorite dip and some guacamole for myself for the Super Bowl tomorrow. Yum! Anyone doing anything exciting for it?

Friday Night Fiesta!

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Tonight’s dinner, (I swear it was a real dinner even though it totally looks like junk food), was awesome! Last week when I was making the grocery list, I asked Brent what he wanted for dinner and he said “Nachos!” I’m sure he was joking a little bit, but it sounded good to me so I went with it.

hpim2673On top of that pile of tortilla chips are refried beans, cheese sauce, and “salsa.” The refried beans were made by cooking and draining some pinto beans. Then I heated a bit of oil in a skillet, added in some minced garlic and sauteed. Next I threw in the cooked beans and a bit of their cooking liquid, added some cumin, chili powder and salt and a bit of lime juice, smashed with a potato masher and voila! Yum!

The cheese sauce is just a roux of butter and flour, a cup of skim milk simmered and thickened and then I melted in some sharp cheddar with a dash of salt and some cayenne pepper. Love cheesy sauces! 🙂

Finally, the “salsa” was just diced tomatoes, chopped green onions and cilantro with a bit of lime juice, all mixed together. This meal was so delicious and wonderfully junk foody – perfect for a Friday night – but it also had fiber and protein from the beans, and thanks to my plentiful amount of salsa, quite a bit of veggie goodness as well. I tried to go heavy on the beans and salsa, so I felt pretty good about it.

To go with our yummy nachos, we had our Friday Night Cocktail – Margaritas!! We do not have margarita glasses though, but we managed to survive just fine without them.


I’m normally a wuss with margaritas and get the frozen fruity kind, but this homemade, on-the-rocks version, made with tequila, triple sec, lime juice, lime cordial and simple syrup, was really good — a lot like the whiskey sours we like, but with tequila. 😉

I hope I have a productive weekend. We have an open house to go to tomorrow, but I’m hoping to do a lot of studying as well.

What is everyone else doing this weekend? Anything exciting?

Getting Snowed In

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I was very excited to make some wonderful scallop pasta dish last night, but I realized I was out of a lot of ingredients I assumed I had on hand. So, I made due, but it wasn’t very exciting. I used the rest of a can of whole tomatoes with some basil, oregano and garlic to make a tomato sauce, added a dash of red wine (because wine sauces always taste good), threw in the scallops and added some spaghetti. It did the job. I thought it tasted fairly good. I liked the sauce, but it wasn’t an overall amazing dish.


Moving on to more exciting things: Friday Night Cocktail. Brent picked this week’s drink, which was Lynchburg Lemonade, made with Jack Daniel’s, triple sec, Lemon juice, simple syrup, and finished with lemon-lime soda. It was good. We really like Fresh Whiskey Sours, and this was very similar, except sweeter.


I had one of these while we watched Capote, and then because it was 10PM on a Friday night, and I’m 23 going on 60, we did a crossword puzzle in bed and I passed out.

I woke up this morning to snow, and a lot more of it coming down. Because I’m a wuss and hate driving in snow, I switched my workout schedule around and made today a cross-training day and did 30 minutes on our elliptical. This was the most boring 30 minutes of my life. I had my iPod, but I guess without the subtle people-watching to distract me at the gym, I was so bored, mostly staring at a bookcase full of Brent’s old computer science textbooks. I used to watch TV while on the elliptical, but because we cancelled cable the TV doesn’t work upstairs. However, I guess my husband is smarter than I am because he hooked the DVD player up to that TV and is now watching (and repeating the lines to) the Simpsons on DVD while he does the elliptical. NERD! 🙂 Anyway, now I’m enjoying a smoothie made with banana, cantaloupe, milk and soy protein.The cantaloupe smoothie has kind of grown on me this week. I like it a lot now.


The snow is supposed to continue all day and the weathermen are predicting we end up with 4 to 9 inches, so I won’t be leaving the house today (and I’m hoping Brent will do the shoveling). Luckily I have a few ingredients in the house, and I’m planning to make something from Veganomicon later tonight for dinner. I hope you all have a great weekend!