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Playing Tourist in Seattle

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I just dropped Tessa off at the airport, but we were already discussing when we can manage to get together again! It was so much freaking fun to have her here for a few days, especially because I used her visit as an excuse to play tourist in my new city. Tuesday night, after her arrival, I dragged her to get pho. What can I say? I have an addiction. She enjoyed it. Well, she said she did. She really had no choice. I think I spent 4 days talking it up to her and going on and on about how amazing it was. I’m known for doing that kind of crap.

Actually Tessa and her husband came to visit us in Fort Wayne once and I spent the entire month before they arrived telling them about my obsession with Cindy’s diner in downtown Fort Wayne and more specifically, how they had The.Best.Buttered.Toast.EVER. When Tessa and Greg arrived, I woke them up at 6am and forced them to go eat greasy, trans-fat filled, margarine-covered toast. Yeah, that actually happened. Being friends with me IRL is totes awesome.

Moving on to Wednesday, we were busy! We started off with breakfast happy hour at Toulouse Petit, where I had a delicious Croque Madame. After a bit of putzing around I talked Tessa into going to yoga with me (fun fact: my first studio yoga experience was an intro course with T like 7 years ago). The rain and wind were kind of crazy at this point so we debated back and forth about going to Pike Place Market. The sun came out and we convinced ourselves we had to get out. We braved the winds to explore the market, where I subsequently lost my mind over a stand selling dried fruit with no added sugar. Seriously guys. No.Added.Sugar. I repeated that like 28 times and then bought 2 bags. I regretted not buying 4.

We stopped for lunch at Beecher’s and dove into some flagship grilled cheese while sitting on rather uncomfortable milk bottle stools.

Hmm… This sandwich is melty cheese, pesto, and tomatoes between crispy bread. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but it just didn’t totally float by boat, you know? I probably wouldn’t go back for a sandwich, but Beecher’s cheese curds and flagship cheese are both A-OK in my book.

We had both already eaten lunch obviously, but we were lured into Piroshky Piroshky. Anthony Bourdain is a fan, and the smells were intoxicating. Unfortunately our microwaved cinnamon raisin cardamom braid was not all that. It was bland, with no cardamom flavor to speak of, and it had a weird texture. I’m not saying don’t go to Piroshky Piroshky, but I am saying maybe try to go savory rather than sweet. I’d go back to try a potato, onion and cheese piroshky.

Oh, before we move on, please look at the awesome thing T and I found at some random toy store in the market. They were corn dog and broccoli action figures who are also apparently archenemies.

Umm, yeah. We nearly died laughing while repeating “flimsy tube of meat” and “stinky side dish.” For some reason when we tried explaining it to Brent that night at dinner, he did not find it as hilarious as we did.

Thursday, Tessa proved her rockstar status as best friend by going shopping with me. No easy task. I am a total freak when it comes to shopping. Honestly. I wander aimlessly into stores, get overwhelmed, and usually leave in near tears. As a result of my inability to shop and the cross-country move, my wardrobe has consisted of a pair of yoga pants, a pair of ill-fitting skinny jeans, 3 t-shirts, a tank top, and a fleece jacket. If that didn’t require an intervention I don’t know what does. T was a trooper and we made a lot of progress at the clearance racks at Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack. Thank God she was here to help!

Our touristy dinner of choice for Thursday was dinner at The Crab Pot. Featured on Man vs. Food, The Crab Pot is a ridiculously popular restaurant on the Seattle Waterfront.

I was not joking when I called The Crab Pot popular. They do not take reservations and there was a 30-45minute wait when we arrived. On a Thursday. In March. Ugh. I was starving and really did not anticipate much of a wait. We distracted ourselves in the bar, where I consumed a ridiculous drink.

That was called the Tsunami and it was blue and delicious. And served in a giant glass carafe. Hey, no judging. We were celebrating. Thursday was our five-year wedding anniversary.

Brent, party of 3! Dinner time! The Crab Pot is known for their “Seafeasts” which are buckets of seafood dumped on butcher paper on your table. Sounds classy, no? To complete the theme, they also give you bibs and wooden blocks and mallets, with which you are expected to beat your dinner into submission before consuming it.

Our bibs were donned. Our mallets were ready.

Brent was looking pretty serious as we waited for the arrival of our bucket o’seafood.

And it has arrived. We ordered the Westport Seafeast, which contained Dungeness crab, Snow crab, Mussels, Clams, Shrimps in their shells, Andouille sausage, Corn on the cob, and red potatoes. Let the madness begin.

In attacking our dinner, I went straight for the dungeness crab. It’s what I came for and it did not disappoint. I wasn’t actually all that interested in any of the other elements, but I did have a bit of the snow crab, mussels, and clams as well. I would definitely go back to The Crab Pot, but I would probably just get the whole Dungeness crab. It’s a fun place to take out of town guests!

And this morning I rode the lightrail with Tessa to the airport, snapped one last picture and said good-bye.

I can’t be too sad though. We leave for our anniversary trip to San Francisco bright and early tomorrow morning at 6am!!

I Have Been Busy

Very busy! In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone to The Rally to Restore Sanity in DC…

where I found the long-lost twin of Jerry Garcia…

and dressed as a double rainbow with my best friend.

That wasn’t enough traveling for me, so I also headed to Chicago to pick up my mom so that we could roadtrip to Wisconsin to see family. I hadn’t seen my aunt Sherry and cousins in 5 years!!

It was such a great visit, and definitely worth the 16 total hours of driving.

This past Sunday, Brent and I headed to Kalamazoo, MI on another mini roadtrip for All Stouts’ Day at Bell’s Brewery. I love stouts! The Double Cream Stout was definitely my favorite.

I’m finally back home now, and easing myself back into my routine of blog-reading, cooking and , oh yeah, studying – 4.5 more weeks!

Brent is on me again to cut down our eating out budget, an idea that my waistline can certainly agree with, so I’ve made the effort to cook at home this week. Tonight’s meal was the first “new to me” thing I’ve made this week. I tried the Orange Pan-glazed Tempeh from 101 Cookbooks, which I saw on (never home)maker last week.

I forgot the lime and cilantro because Brent and I were too hungry by then, but both would have been very good I’m sure. My only note on this recipe was that it took me 20-30 minutes for the sauce to reduce down to a “thick glaze,” but it worked well nonetheless. Tempeh is one of those foods I don’t eat or make frequently and I’m still on the fence about whether or not I like it. I found it super filling though! I ate 3/4 of mine and Brent finished the rest.

Have I mentioned that I finally bought a rice cooker a few weeks ago? I freaking love that gadget! So worth it. πŸ™‚

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!).

Food Catch-Up

I’ve been cooking, but not posting about it. Here are some reviews of recent meals. Last week I made Bok Choy and Rice Noodle Soup with Turkey Meatballs. Sounds good right? And the picture in the cookbook was pretty convincing too. The ingredients smelled wonderful and I was convinced it would be one of the best meals I’ve made at home. Ehhh, not so much.

It didn’t taste bad. It just didn’t really taste like anything. I liked the idea of making the turkey meatballs with some tofu as well, but those just feel completely apart. They definitely needed some type of binder. It was definitely a disappointment. I can’t really recommend it. They can’t all be the best meal ever, I guess.

Earlier this week I made a Tuna Casserole from Rachael Ray. I rarely make tuna casserole and this one sounded like it could be a winner – lots of spinach and no cream of whatever soup. The only change I made to the recipe was to use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.

The recipe made a ton, but I decided I might as well make the whole thing and hope the leftovers would be good. It came out pretty well. While I was making it, I told Brent it looked more like spinach casserole. I loved the combo of the tuna, creamy cannellini beans and tuna. And anytime I can throw this much veg into a single dish, I’m pretty happy.

Brent commented that he could do without the beans, but I really liked them. We’ve eaten the leftovers, which were pretty good as well. I think I would definitely make this recipe again.

Today was my last day of clinical for the semester, so afterwards my clinical group had a potluck (so much food!!) and finally got a group photo after putting in a full day.

Only two more days of school! I’m already making lists of things to clean and things to cook over break! Can’t wait!

Already November

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I can’t believe it’s already November! I’ve already decided that 2009 is going down as the fastest moving year of my life. We have less than two months left of the year — and only 3 weeks until I host Thanksgiving. Yikes.

I’ve made a few things I wanted to share with you all, including Pan Bagnat and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, but ummm… I just never bothered taking pictures of them before devouring them. Oops. Both were delicious and I have witnesses who will agree with me on that. Both were served to my friends when they came to visit this weekend. I don’t have a lot of pictures from the weekend, but here’s a funny one of Greg and Larry.

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Sometime last week I wasn’t feeling that well and in an effort to avoid dragging myself to the grocery store I made this peanut butter noodle dish. Soba noodles, broccoli, shredded carrots and this peanut sauce, minus the cilantro.

IMG_0432I thought it was really delicious and so ridiculously simple. I’m definitely going to try to remember this for the next time I want a quick pantry meal.

Tonight, after a weekend involving candy, cupcakes and alcohol, I just wanted something simple and healthy for dinner. I baked some of my frozen Jamaican Veggie Patties and sauteed some broccoli with garlic. I was hoping for the best with the veggie patties. They had been frozen for nearly 6 months, but I wrapped them really well and they showed no signs of freezer burn. I put them straight into the oven frozen and baked for 50 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they came out. Still flaky and delicious.

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It’s only 8:30 but I have to start getting ready for bed — a lovely 6am clinical awaits me tomorrow. I’m trying to cook more the month of November, so hopefully I’ll have more to post on the blog in the future. πŸ™‚

Kathryn and Jesse Get Hitched

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Like I said earlier, we had a blast this weekend! Ross, Tessa, Kathryn and I have been friends since freshman year of college and spent the 2-3 years after that as roommates. For nearly 7 years they’ve been my second family. I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends. This weekend was an awesome celebration of Kathryn and Jesse’s wedding and it was the first time all of us have been back at the University of Illinois inΒ nearlyΒ 2 years. The ceremony was on the main quad of the campus, with the reception at the union. The after party continued at Murphy’s, which was one of our old haunts. (Fun Fact: I worked as a bartender there during school).

"Backstage" -- Kathryn getting ready!

"Backstage" -- Kathryn getting ready!

Umm... just more confirmation I have no rhythm and am always willing to make a fool of myself

Umm... just more confirmation I have no rhythm and am always willing to make a fool of myself

Kathryn and Ross

Kathryn and Ross

Tessa and Greg

Tessa and Greg

The Monroes

The Monroes

Two of my favorite guys

Two of my favorite guys

Ross and I

Ross and I

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Brent and Greg... both are almost as funny as they think they are

Me and the Bride

Me and the Bride

The girls

The girls

The happy couple

The happy couple

We had so much fun, I can’t wait to do it again! Now we just need another wedding…. I’m looking at you, Ross. πŸ˜‰

Sushi, Booze and Byrnie

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As I said before, we went home to Chicago this weekend. Friday night, we stopped at Tess and Greg’s place as we usually do when we come into town. Tessa had been wanting to take me to this “conveyor belt sushi place,” which sounded both odd and amazing.
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Sushi Station was heaven on Earth for me. I loved everything about it, especially the Paradise Roll, which consists of avocado, tempura shrimp and toasted coconut. There was no waiting for food and I could spontaneously choose whatever I wanted, and I got to try so many different rolls rather than just one or two. I actually made Brent go back here for lunch on Saturday. I am that obsessed.

After dinner, we had a very entertaining Friday night, involving a bit of booze, The Game of Life, and some Nintendo Wii. We tried a variety of new drinks, including electric lemonade, the best of the three we tried.

HPIM3782We also tried a salty chihuahua. Blech. I like tequila, but I disliked everything about this drink for some reason. However, our drink choice only got nastier when we tried the last drink. I seem to have blocked out the name. I wish I could forget the taste. I don’t know what it was but it involved banana liqueur. Never Again.

Friday night also marked our first introduction to Byrnie, Tessa and Greg’s 9 week old schnauzer puppy. This dude is crazy.

HPIM3780He does not sit still for anything. Makes me appreciate my big, lazy dogs. πŸ™‚ He is sure is adorable though!

HPIM3789I just think this photo is hilarious. He looks like a stuffed animal!

HPIM3785Also noteworthy was the fact that Tessa made cupcakes!! These were Vitamin C Cupcakes from Cupcakes Galore, and I loved their zestiness. I ate one four! Tess sent me home with some and I even had one for breakfast Monday morning.

HPIM3791There was some other stuff thrown in there, like a backyard wedding and a super cute pedicure, but those are the highlights. Tomorrow is already Wednesday! Sweet!

Weekend Recap Park 2

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Saturday I woke super early to get a run in with Brent before my four hour drive to Chicago. I don’t mind that drive with other people, but it’s pretty boring when I’m by myself.

I got into town around noon and I was at my parents house for about 7 minutes before mom started running around claiming we were going to be late. My little brother Zack had a double header with his little league team so we drove over. The weather could not have been less perfect. It was cold and rainy. I mostly huddled under a blanket from my car and texted Brent about how cold I was. My mom however, was a pretty devoted fan.

IMG00036-20090606-1410In addition to being cold, I was also hungry so before my hangriness got out of hand Sarah and I left and got some Mexican food from a place I used to frequent in high school. My veggie burrito was so delicious, but I couldn’t come close to finishing it.

HPIM3490After that I headed to the mall, for an awesome blogger date with Mara!! This girl is awesome! OH, and I found it funny that upon meeting me she told me I was tall. This seems to be something a lot of people don’t realize and it surprises people when they find out I’m 5’10”, so keep that in mind should you ever see me. πŸ™‚

One thing I’ve always drooled over on Mara’s blog is that amazing frozen yogurt she gets, so I told her that’s what I wanted to try. We met at Yogen Fruz and I had such a difficult time deciding what to get, but I went with a blended pineapple and mango, with fresh strawberries on top. I absolutely loved this. I can’t wait to go back!

-1Mara and I walked and chatted nonstop pretty much throughout the entire mall, but I definitely made sure to head to Anthropologie! I love that store. I had to get myself a little something. I got two small dip-sized bowls, which I love! Meanwhile, Brent was on the phone begging me not to bring more dishes into our home.

HPIM3510For more of our fun date, including a special photo op with a celebrity, head over to Mara’s recap of the day. I loved meeting a fellow blogger! I wish I lived closer to anywhere so I could meet more of you!

Sunday I worked out at the gym with my parents and then headed to my friend Kathryn’s bridal shower. I finally made it back to the Fort around 9pm and totally crashed! It was a fun, but really exhausting weekend.

Back with more kitchen creations later!

Pizza and Bowling

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Did you have a good weekend? Mine was a really nice mix of socializing and vegging out. It included some homemade pizza.

HPIM3445This was my favorite flavor combination thus far. It had a simple tomato sauce made with slightly pureed canned tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes and oregano. My toppings were kalamata olives and roasted red peppers. The crust was whole wheat artisan dough. YUM!

A few of you asked how I make my whole wheat version of the artisan dough. I have two versions. The one I used for this pizza and that I use for Brent’s sandwich loaves is:

  • 5.5 cups of whole wheat flour
  • .5 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 3 cups water
  • 1.5 T yeast
  • 1.5 T kosher salt

The reduction of flour helps because whole wheat flour absorbs more water and the wheat gluten really helps with the texture. This version is still much more dense than the all white flour version and it doesn’t produce the great holes and super crustiness of the original, but I’ve found it perfect of flatbread type dough and a regular ol’ sandwich loaf.

The other version I use is simply to sub 2 cups whole wheat flour for AP in the master recipe. This is the maximum amount I’ve found I can sub to produce pretty much the same results as the original recipe. Hope that was helpful!

BOWLING

Saturday night we celebrated our friend Jonathan’s 30th birthday with a night of bowling. We had a lot of fun, and we appreciate Ashley and Jonathan inviting us!

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Me waving my hands in disgust after bowling a "4."

Brent's unique and awesome bowling posture. He would like you to know he beat me 3 games in a row.

Brent's unique and awesome bowling posture. He would like you to know he beat me 3 games in a row.

Sweaty, Sweaty. (Stolen from Ashley's facebook)

About as cute as we get. (Stolen from Ashley's facebook)

I’M COOL!

You may remember this post where I talk about how to be cool according to my little sister. Well I got a “cool” new phone yesterday!

Isn't Lucy cute?

Isn't Lucy cute?

I let my family know about my exciting new toy and Sarah sent me a text that said:

Awesome! Finally dont have an ugly flip phone anymore, your cool now πŸ™‚

And my Dad’s response was:

If Sarah says your cool, then you have arrived!

Thank goodness I have my family to let me know whether or not I’m cool! Now I’m off to watch the Bonnie Hunt Show and the Price is Right. πŸ˜‰

Cedar Point AKA “Up is so much worse!”

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I am exhausted. Physically and mentally drained. Sort of like I’ve been kept awake for 72 hours and put into a garbage bag and beaten with a bat. My body isn’t too pleased with me, but we had so much fun!

We picked a great day to go. The sun was out but not too hot and the park wasn’t super busy so we had minimal line-waiting. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, but I will mention that Top Thrill Dragster was probably the most vividly terrifying 17 seconds of my life. I was scared about the 90 degree downward descent, but after the terror of being shot 420 feet into the air at a speed of 120mph, the way down seemed like a picnic. I was shaking and shouting “up is so much worse!” when the ride came to a stop.

HPIM3406Greg and Brent gearing up for our 12 hour day! My legs and feet were killing me by the end of the night!

Jamie does not care for the “spinny” rides, so she served as photographer and bag holder for a few of them. Ross always cracks me up.

HPIM3412And Brent often likes to pretend that he’s too cool for everything.

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HPIM3425The “Wildcat” proved to be tame enough for Ross to wear his sunglasses. Jamie seemed a bit more hesitant.

Tessa is not quite the thrill-seeker that some in our group are, so standing in line for our first ride of the day freaked her out quite a bit.

HPIM3407She powered through and ended up going on most of the roller coasters with us (although she wisely avoided the Top Thrill Dragster).

HPIM3436Brent took the bumper cars pretty seriously. I kind of sucked at them and had most of the kids in line laughing at me as I repeatedly rammed into the walls and couldn’t turn around.

HPIM3428As some relief for our tired feet, we rode across the park in the sky, which was actually one of the rides that kind of scared me the most. Look at all those tiny people in the background.

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HPIM3433Our group: Jamie, Brent, Me, Tessa, Greg and Ross (We came from 3 different states and Ross and Jamie came all the way from Connecticut!) I love adventures with my friends. Hope you had an awesome 3 day weekend!