Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth of July

Hiya eaters!

Long time so talk. How are you?

I’m…bleh. Leon and I got home from our Virginia Beach vacation last night and I’m feeling a little lazy and unmotivated. Oh well, I guess that’s what happens after a short vacation.

And since that laziness extends all the way to my blogging, I figured I’d just do a photo-dump. Also, I totally blanked on taking photos of most things, so this is the best I can do.

Car selfless with Charlie on the way up to Virginia Beach.

Car selfless with Charlie on the way up to Virginia Beach.

He's rejecting my love.

He’s rejecting my love.

This really is #nofilter.

This really is #nofilter.

We're making the same face!

We’re making the same face!

(Insert all the pictures that I didn’t take on the 4th.)

On Friday it was Leon's birthday, so we went out to dinner at Chick's Oyster Bar.

On Friday it was Leon’s birthday, so we went out to dinner at Chick’s Oyster Bar.

I ate two, which brings my lifetime raw oyster count up to three.

I ate two, which brings my lifetime raw oyster count up to three.

I love crab cakes!

I love crab cakes!

Leon requested apple pie for dessert.

Leon requested apple pie for dessert.

On Saturday we went for a family walk down by the water.

On Saturday we went for a family walk down by the water.

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Charlie and Papa's dog, Toby, were exhausted after we made them exercise so much.

Charlie and Papa’s dog, Toby, were exhausted after we made them exercise so much.

An interesting, almost champagne-y beer to round out the weekend.

An interesting, almost champagne-y beer to round out the weekend.

Your turn, eaters:

What did you do this weekend?

What’s your favorite kind of seafood?

Later eaters!

Weekend at Home

G’day eaters!

Leon and I got home yesterday from an amazing three-night trip to Georgia (A.K.A The Dirty Dirty).

For those of you who are new around here, I grew up in Macon, Georgia and my mom and a few of my friends still live there.

Leon and I drove down on Friday morning to spend the weekend. My Mom got back from a two-week business trip to China on Friday. My brother, Brady, had a triathlon on Saturday morning. And Brady and I talked Mom into having a graduation party for us on Saturday night. (And I needed to have my yearly mole check with my dermatologist on Monday, which I’ll talk about Thursday.)

Happy road trip puppy.

Happy road trip puppy.

Needless to say, I was pretty jazzed to take a trip home.

We had a low-key night on Friday. I made tacos and Charlie ran around like an idiot in the free air of Mom’s giant backyard.

On Saturday we got up supah early to watch Brady race.

Pre-race warm up.

Pre-race warm up.

Off and running.

Off and running.

Leaving it all on the course.

Leaving it all on the course.

He did great and finished 3rd overall.

Post-race.

Post-race.

Post-race.

Post-race.

And then Leon hopped behind the beer tent to pour Brady a beer.

'murica.

‘murica.

After the race we napped and then I went into party planning mode.

I got 5lbs of pulled pork barbecue, 2 qts of Brunswick stew, a keg of Bud Lite, and made a few simple cold salads.

A small bunch of people came over, including my friend from college, Liz, who works in Atlanta now, and my best friend from high school, Coco, who just moved back to Georgia on Saturday after spending a semester working at Disney World. Plus some people who have known me since I was probably about five.

Coco and Leon.

Coco and Leon.

It was a great time, I didn’t take a single picture, and we barely made a dent in the keg, despite our best attempts.

Sunday morning started slow and then Coco came over, we did a little shopping, and then Sunday Funday happened.

Leftovers are awesome!

Leftovers are the best-overs.

We had a ton of leftovers (and leftover beer) so we sat around, watched bad movies on TV, and ate and ate and ate and drank while it rained like crazy outside.

It was awesome. (And I think I ate a pound of pork by myself.)

Brady cracks himself up.

Brady cracks himself up.

Seriously.

Seriously.

And on Monday we drove home.

Now I’m gearing up for my work week, which started today and ends…eventually. Hopefully I’ll find some time in there to make it to the grocery store.

Your turn, eaters:

Does a weekend at home sound like a vacation to you?

What’s your idea of a good way to spend a rainy day?

Later eaters!

Graduation Snapshots

Hellooooooo eaters!

I’ve been MIA lately and for that I’m sorry.

I’ve missed you lots, I promise.

But I graduated college yesterday, so I’m back.

After a few weeks of running around to tie up loose ends, a night of worrying about whether or not I passed one stupid class, an hour of defending my thesis, and a weekend of celebrating, I have finished college.

And it feels pretty good, I think.

Honestly, though, I don’t know. I’m still stuffed and reeling from everything that happened so quickly over the last couple of days. So while I try to process things and figure out my next step, here’s a handful of pictures from the last few days.

My new wreath, because it's tacky to have the same wreath up from Thanksgiving.

My new wreath, because it’s tacky to have the same wreath up from Thanksgiving.

Going into my second hour of standing on line to walk into graduation.

Going into my second hour of standing on line to walk into graduation.

They can't take it back now.

They can’t take it back now. #HireMe

Mother and brother.

Mother and brother.

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I’m in love with my dress.

And I'm in love with him.

And I’m in love with him.

My mom's boyfriend upon hearing that my camera was one the wrong setting so none of his pictures came out.

My mom’s boyfriend upon hearing that my camera was one the wrong setting so none of his pictures came out.

My sister at dinner.

My sister at dinner.

An amazingly tender steak from Print Works Bistro in Greensboro.

An amazingly tender steak from Print Works Bistro in Greensboro.

I'm in love with the shape of this martini glass. So feminine and refined. The martini wasn't half bad, either.

I’m in love with the shape of this martini glass. So feminine and refined. The martini wasn’t half bad, either.

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After two dinners out and a lunch at my house, my fridge is packed to the gills with delicious leftovers.

A well deserved afternoon relaxing with my pup.

A well deserved afternoon relaxing with my pup.

Your turn, eaters:

What did you get up to this afternoon?

Do you take leftovers from restaurants or is that tacky to you?

Later eaters!

PS — I’m coming back to blogging. Expect to see at least 4 posts a week from me.

Multi Purpose Dough

G’day eaters!

So…I know I said I’d pick the GoodBelly probiotic giveaway winner on Wednesday or Thursday, but that, obviously, didn’t happen. Other things happened and now suddenly it’s Sunday.

So here goes:

Georgiana, you are the winner of a 12 day supply of GoodBelly shots! Email me your mailing address at kara_h_thomas @ yahoo.com.

And another thing that I said I would do, but haven’t yet is to share a recipe I created for my thesis. And since I have my first full draft due in a week or so, my mind is thoroughly saturated with thesis things.

So here goes:

Do you know the crappy pizza buffet restaurant CiCi’s Pizza?

When my brother and I were much younger my mom used to take us there a lot. We all loved pizza. It was cheap. And there was a huge TV that always played cartoons. So understandably, it was the perfect place for my mom to take us kids when she didn’t feel like cooking.

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been to CiCi’s, but for some reason I remember them having these really great cinnamon rolls on their dessert buffet. They also had some kind of goopy chocolate dessert pizza and maybe something with apples, if I remember. But for some reason the idea of cinnamon rolls really stuck out to me.

More importantly, the idea of cinnamon rolls made out of pizza dough really stuck with me. Because, ya know, I’m positive that if there were cinnamon rolls they were made out of the same dough at the pizzas.

So with that in mind…

One Dough Two Ways

1 packet (2 ½ t) dry active yeast

1 ½ c warm water

2 T honey

2 T oil, plus a little extra

2 t salt

2 ½ c whole wheat pastry flour

1-2 c all purpose flour

Mix the honey into the warm water and then add the yeast, giving it a quick stir to break up any big clumps. Let this mixture proof for 5-10 minutes, or until there is at least an inch of foam at the top.

In a large mixing bowl stir together the whole wheat flour and 1 c of the AP flour with the salt. Once the yeast has proofed add in the oil and then pour all the liquid into the bowl with the flour. Stir the mixture a few times until it starts to form a ball and them use your hands to mix it until it forms a cohesive ball. Add more flour, about ¼ c at a time, as needed.

Once the dough has become a slightly sticky ball, remove it from the bowl and place it on a well-floured surface. Begin kneading the dough, adding flour as needed to keep it from sticking, for 10 minutes.

Line a bowl with a piece of plastic wrap. Drizzle a little oil into the plastic wrap. Place the ball of dough into the bowl and cover with a towel. Leave the dough to proof in a warm spot for 1-2 hours, or until it has about doubled in size.

Pizza

The pizza part, which is made using half of the dough you just made, is pretty self-explanatory. Make it and then bake it at 500^F, on a pizza stone if you have it, for 10-13 minutes.

Cinnamon Rolls

½ batch of dough

¼ c butter, melted

3 – 4 T sugar

1 ½ T cinnamon

Bring the dough to room temperature. Lightly flour a big, open surface and a rolling pin and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Pour the butter onto the dough and, using the back of a spoon, spread it evenly over the rectangle. Sprinkle the sugar and the cinnamon evenly over rectangle.

Then roll the dough by slowly and evenly rolling the long end furthest away towards you. Once the two long ends meet, gently pinch the seam closed. Them using a sharp knife cut the roll into ~2” segments and place an inch or so apart in a buttered cake pan.

Let the pan of rolls proof for an hour in a warm spot, until the rolls are touching.

Bake at 375^F for 7-9 minutes, or until the tops are just barely golden brown and the outsides are firm, but not hard.cinnamon rolls1

I ate a few of these rolls plain, but then Leon suggested they needed a glaze. So I whisked up some powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, a glaze similar to the one I made for my pumpkin donuts, which is why I didn’t write down any measurements.

But glaze or no glaze, these were really good cinnamon rolls. They become amazingly good when you consider how complicated normal cinnamon rolls are — lots of scalding milk and excess sugar — and how simple these were.cinnamon rolls2

The trick in these rolls really is to not over bake them. A minute or two too long and you’ve got cinnamon-y dinner rolls.

And then eat them within a day or two.

And eat them warm.

Maybe with a side of bacon. Or after pizza.

Or just eat them at every meal, like I did for a day or two.cinnamon rolls3

Your turn, eaters:

Do you have an unconventional way of making something?

What’s a meal you remember loving when you were a kid?

Later eaters!

Happy Merry!

G’morning eaters!

I just wanted to say a very merry Christmas from my little family to your whatever-size family!

PS — I did the Christmas chipper this morning. Did you?

Holiday Photo Dump

Hi eaters!

Sorry for completely disappearing these last few days. Between a date night and then a traveling day I haven’t had the material or time to blog.

So to make up for it, here’s a lovely photo dump with my attempt at humorous and informative captions.

1) This is what I read while waiting for my brand new tires to be put on. 2) If you enjoy humor and essays, this is the book for you.

 

An ornament from Sur la Table that I really wanted.

 

For all you Greensboro people, Crafted on S Elm is so good.

 

This is a sign that a restaurant is trying too hard.

 

Scrambled egg and chorizo tacos with avocado, pico, queso, and potatoes.

 

Leon and I celebrated Christmas on Wednesday night.

 

Egg nog with a splash of rum is delicious. Egg nog curdling because I didn't drink it fast enough is not.

 

My amazing boyfriend got me a very luxurious flavor of coffee from a local roaster.

 

The puppy nest I made Charlie in an attempt to help him feel better about being at my mom's house.

 

Lunch.

 

One of my all time favorite candies — Cadbury milk chocolate Easter eggs — is now in Christmas form!

 

Mom's boyfriend got someone to send him a real Christmas pudding all the way from Tesco grocery store in England!

 

I had no idea that you're supposed to pour brandy on a Christmas pudding and then light it on fire.

Your turn, eaters:

What’s your favorite candy?

How do you feel about drinking out of mason jars?

G’night eaters!

Pre-Thanksgiving Feast

Hi eaters.

It’s been a long and slightly painful day, thanks to a visit to the chiropractor.

But Leon bought me pie for dinner dessert and now my dog is lying on top of my leg (yes, just the one leg) so I’m pretty happy.

Now let’s talk Thanksgiving, shall we?!

Dinner was set for 3pm on Saturday, so the cooking started on Thursday. And the bulk of it was done of Friday. But we still had plenty of cooking to do Saturday morning.

I'm in my cooking crevice.

So while Leon and I cooked, Mother set the table.

Light and airy, just like I like it.

As you can see, I kept it all very simple. I fell in love with the idea of butcher paper and crayons, so that’s exactly what we did.

Crayons in reused jars, because they're classier than the crayon box.

And then I went around and wrote everyone’s name above his or her plate. (Fyi, “his or her” is the proper pronoun here, not “their.” #WordNerd)

While everyone was mingling we snacked on a little appetizer plate of cheese and crackers and dips and a bowl of candied almonds that Leon made.

Three cheeses. Three spreads. Two crackers.

Please don’t confuse the three cheeses and three dips as any sort of pairing. The only thing that was even slightly paired was the goat’s milk brie and mixed berry jam.

And finally, after a long morning and one last frantic cooking spree, dinner was served.

The most beautiful bird I've ever seen.

On the menu:

Guinness roasted turkey, sausage and cornbread stuffing, Eureka Paprika split pea soup, mashed potatoes, balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, wild mushroom and butternut squash risotto, cranberry chutney (a simpler version than the recipe I posted here), a massaged kale salad with roasted acorn squash, 1/3 whole wheat rolls, gravy, and maple butter.

Yes, that is our unused flat sheet used as a tablecloth.

I think that’s it. I’ll be posting recipes for a lot of those dishes this week, so stay tuned.

I piled my plate high and ate every bite. And surprisingly, I didn’t feel grossly full. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that everything save for the turkey, stuffing, and gravy was vegan.

So.Freaking.Good.

Mother’s boyfriend is vegan and I certainly don’t mind vegan food, obviously. And once Leon agreed to make mashed potatoes with Earth Balance and coconut milk we were set.

Anyway, everything turned out really, surprisingly well. The Brussels sprouts were a touch underdone, but that was the only glitch so I was beyond thrilled.

I was so thrilled by how well everything went that all day I was walking around punching the air and yelling “O’Doyles rule!” (Two points if you can tell me what movie that’s from.)

Everyone retired to the RV for a while (Did I mention that Mother and her boyfriend drove up in his giant RV?) to watch the NC State vs Clemson game. I took a little nap first. And then we had dessert.

Dippables.

I know I was talking in my earlier post about bourbon sweet potato casserole and vegan coconut nutmeg pudding. But when I thought about it, I really didn’t need another complicated thing to the list of things to cook. So I went easy. Really easy.

Thanks to this fondue, I've got a really awesome chocolate tip to post about.

And it doesn’t get easier than chocolate fondue in a crockpot, let me tell you.

The only problem with chocolate fondue is that there are no leftovers, hence the pie for dinner tonight.

Possibly the best part of the whole day, though, was that Mother did ALL the dishes. But then, Charlie’s bow tie is a close second.

Isn't he handsome?

What do you think, eaters:

Could you vegan-ize or mostly vegan-ize your Thanksgiving feast? What wouldn’t you compromise on?

What would be the best thing a house guest could give you/do for you?

G’night eaters!

PS — Seriously, get ready for as many Thanksgiving recipes as I can cram in before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Teaser

Hiya eaters!

My family was in town for our Pre-Thanksgiving party. A great time was had by all, but boy, did it make for a stressful week.

Luckily, it all paid off with roughly 48 hours of fun and food with my family.

But now both Leon and I are absolutely exhausted. And I’m laying in bed eating leftover hardened chocolate fondue off a spoon.

12.5 lbs of golden poultry perfection.

So for tonight, I’ll leave you with this picture of the gorgeous turkey Leon cooked and a promise to be back tomorrow with the first of a few recipes that you should almost definitely work into your Thanksgiving menu.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you have your Thanksgiving menus set?

And for my Canadian eaters, what was your favorite dish at your Thanksgiving?

G’night eaters!

Thanksgiving Prep

Hokai eaters!

It’s crunch time for Thanksgiving. I’ve got T-minus 5 days until my family rolls into town, at which point my house will have to be pristine and fully decorated (which means that I’ll finally get to give you all the house tour that I have been wanting to do forever), all my feast shopping will have to be done, a lot of the feast will have to be prepped, the dog will have to be thoroughly run so that he might be well behaved, and I’m sure a few other things.

But I’m jazzed as shit about it. I kind of love deadlines and a bit of (self-imposed) pressure and having lots of things to do that I enjoy.

Oh, and my house could really use a thorough cleaning. So there’s that.

And I’m happy to say that I’ve already got a good head start on everything.

Whole Foods had fresh turkeys on sale for 99¢/lbs all weekend, so our turkey is already bought.

You have no idea how excited I am about these leftovers. I've even started pinning recipes.

Can you believe that 12lbs was the smallest turkey they had? Oh well, I do love leftovers.

I did a pre-cleaning of the bathroom a couple of days ago, so the next cleaning will be much faster (which means I’ll spend far less time huffing bleach).

The décor is made (for the most part because apparently pumpkins don’t exist after Halloween) and half of it is hung up.

I am supremely proud of this wreath. AND I gave it a few coats of super hold hairspray, which will keep me from sweeping up moss bits every day.

Once I pick up some clear thumbtacks the other half will go up. And hint hint it’s a lot like this.

And I have made my super neurotic lists of everything regarding the feast.

It's like a low-tech Excel sheet.

The master list has 5 categories — the food, ingredients, cooking dishes/utensils, serving dishes/utensils, and cooking time and place. Then I made another list where I divided up the ingredients I need among Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, and Earth Fare. All my shopping will probably happen on Wednesday because EF gives 5% off to students on Wednesdays and then I’ll only have to make one trip to the other two stores to get everything on their lists plus whatever I might not find at EF.

Or I might at least do the WF’s shopping early because I know exactly what I’m getting there and will probably get whatever I can’t get from EF at HT.

Ya know, because I don’t want to be too neurotic and rigid, right?

Yup, this is definitely me having it all.

(And I wasn’t being sarcastic that time. I really do love all that stuff.)

Your turn, eaters:

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Do you like to be super planned out or more casual for hosting parties?

G’night eaters!

Clemson Football

‘Ello eaters!

It’s still early in the evening, but I’ve already made tomorrow’s lunch. Yup, the weekend is definitely over.

BUT it’s been a pretty fantastic weekend, so I don’t mind all that much.

Ya see eaters, Papa managed to get a bunch of tickets to the Clemson vs Duke game this Saturday, so Papa and co, Brady and his girlfriend (who both go to Clemson), Leon, and I all drove to Durham early Saturday afternoon for the night game.

There was Whole Foods pre-game food — beef jerky, spicy sweet potatoes, ribs, bean dip, and lots of Halloween candy with nuts (because Maddie, my sister, is allergic).

There were beers in the parking lot because apparently they don’t sell beer at college sporting events.

A sea of orange.

There was a stadium at least a third full of orange and purple (Clemson’s colors), despite it being an away game.

There was our clan, decked out in orange and purple…except for Leon who wore a Duke shirt.

My purple knees, not my blanket.

They can’t all be winners, right?

I kid. Because he made up for the Duke shirt by intuiting that I wanted nachos in addition to my hot chocolate during the halftime food run.

Seriously, stadium nachos are so horribly good.

There was a score of 17-48 Clemson when we left after the 3rd quarter.

And there was brown rice spicy tuna and avocado sushi for post-game food.

So despite the fact that my back was hurting pretty bad (I have a chiropractor appointment tomorrow that I’ll tell you about) and that all in all we spent less than 24 hours together, it was a pretty awesome little weekend.

And now, m’dear dear eaters, I’m going to drink hot tea in an effort to not eat more candy.

Your turn:

Do you have a team, college or professional, which you root for?

How much Halloween candy do you still have left to eat?

G’night eaters!