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Back to School

January 7, 2015

Well, today is our first day back at school.  I know I say it every year, but this break felt both very long and very short.  This marks the first time ever that my teaching load is spread out over all five days of the week.  In grad school, I taught four days out of five; at Penn State Altoona, my classes were ALL jammed into Tuesday/Thursday; and here at UAH, my teaching load has been Monday/Wednesday/Friday.  So we’ll see how this goes. Winking smile

Last night, I made a comforting soup for dinner—it’s been cold here!  In fact, the high tomorrow morning is 6 degrees and they’ve already placed the schools on a delayed start.  Welcome to the South—where they delay school because cold.

But hey,

This is false.   I am extremely bothered by the cold.  I’m ready for summer.  Now.

Anyway, the soup.

I made meatballs with ground beef, parmesan cheese, an egg, minced garlic, grated onion, some Italian seasoning, and some garlic salt:

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I cooked those in a heavy-bottomed pot then removed them once they were browned.  To the pot, I added onion, celery, red bell pepper, and zucchini:

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Cooked until soft.  Added 2 tbsp. tomato paste; one can of diced tomatoes; 8 cups beef broth. The meatballs went back in as well.

This was brought up to a boil, boiled for 5 minutes, then reduced to a simmer and cooked for about an hour.

Topped it with more parmesan and ate it with crusty bread for a delicious dinner!

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Gotta get moving—those freshmen are probably SO excited to see me!  Winking smile

Happy Wednesday!

Good Luck in 2015

January 3, 2015

Morning, friends!

It’s 7:15 and by some miracle of God, Lila is still sleeping, so I thought I’d blog about our “good luck” eats from New Year’s day.

Do you eat black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s day?  I thought it was a thing that everyone did/knew about, but I guess it’s just a southern thing.

These black-eyed peas actually kind of count as a fifteen minute meal—the prep was done in fifteen minutes, and then you just have to let them sit and simmer.  So easy!

In a heavy-bottomed pot (my new Christmas present!), I heated some olive oil and then added a chopped onion, chopped celery (bought it pre-chopped to save time), and a chopped green pepper.

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I let these cook and soften for about ten minutes.  Then I added 1 tsp. garlic salt, 1 tbsp. brown sugar, and 1 tbsp. liquid smoke, plus two cans of black-eyed peas (drained and rinsed):

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And two links of slice chicken kielbasa sausage:

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Cooked that for the remaining five minutes, and prep was DONE:

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Whew.  Just under the fifteen minute mark. Winking smile

I added two bean cans of water (you could easily use chicken broth), brought it up to a boil, and then reduced it to simmer for another hour.

We enjoyed it for dinner with some garlic-maple sautéed kale:

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Hopefully this delicious meal will ensure our good luck in 2015!

Hiking into 2015

January 2, 2015

Hi friends. One of our goals for this winter is to get outside, even when it’s grey and cold out (which is, umm, every day).

We made good on this goal yesterday with our first hike of the new year.

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Not the prettiest day, but the fresh air sure felt good!

Welcome to January!

Welcome, 2015

January 1, 2015

Hi friends!  Welcome to 2015!

One of my (many) goals for this year is to..wait for it…blog more.  I go back and forth about this space– some days I wake up and think I should just shut it all down; other days, I get the urge to blog twice a day again.  That urge usually goes away very, very quickly (as you can tell by the sparsity of posts over the past months.

Anyway– I’m not here to make excuses or promises.  But yes, it IS one of my goals to blog more regularly in 2015.  We’ll see how that goes.

I have to admit, it’s tempting to blog about Christmas (and, err, Thanksgiving).  But I’m not going to.  I’m just going to say that we had a wonderful holiday season with both of our families, and leave it at that.

And our New Year’s Eve?  That was a little less wonderful.  We had plans to go to a friend’s house for a NYE party, but poor Lila woke up from her nap by getting sick all over her new big girl bed.  Needless to say, we were home for the night.  :-(

It was actually a good night, though.  We’ve been around friends and family like crazy for the past 2-3 weeks, so it was really nice to have a low-key New Year’s Eve.  And I *do* mean low-key.  I took the dogs on a walk:

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Before we realized we wouldn’t be going to the party, I had spent the early afternoon making this bacon and onion marmalade:

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Um, yeah.  It was amazing.  After Lila went to bed, we had it for dinner on crusty french bread with melted sharp cheddar cheese.  #winning

We watched Boyhood last night (so good!), and called it a night.  It wasn’t wild and crazy, but it was just the night we needed, I think.

Other goals for the new year?  Run more.  Try new fitness classes at our gym.  Drink more water.  Ah, the usual.  :-)

But that’s another post, I suppose.  What are your goals for 2015?

Happy New Year!  Hope 2015 is a great one for us all.

Practice

January 1, 2015

Just a test post to see about phone blogging. :)

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Happy New Year, all. See you in 2015!

15 Minute Dinner

December 8, 2014

Cooking is one of the (many) things in my life that has changed since having a child.  When we lived in Pennsylvania (remember that?!), I found it incredibly relaxing to come home after a long day of teaching and cook dinner.  I thought nothing of trying new dishes, buying strange ingredients, and taking on meals that took upwards of an hour to prepare.  Eating was really fun then—we were new vegetarians, and we really made a big effort to not just live off of a few staple meals, but rather to step out of our comfort zones and explore new dishes. 

But now?

Sigh.

Honestly, the thought of cooking after a long day at school, or especially a long afternoon with Lila…it just feels exhausting.  It’s so much more…involved now.  I have to get Lila distracted with something—usually a Daniel Tiger—and even then, she’s in the kitchen every five minutes asking for more milk, or help putting on her Cinderella dress, or (the worst), she doesn’t come in at all, but instead just yells “UH OH!!!”, and waits for me to come in to see what the fallout is. 

Good times.

Cooking used to be something that relaxed me—I’d sip on a glass of wine and Ryan would hang out in the kitchen while I cooked, both of us sharing stories about our day.  Now it’s something I do frantically most nights, pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator and pantry and trying to come up with some way to throw them together that will be halfway palatable.  Of course, I still like to cook, and I think it’s important—I want Lila to grow up in a home where dinner is made, not unwrapped or delivered.

This is all to say that for us, right now, the best dinners are the ones that take about 15 minutes to make.  Thirty minutes? Please, Rachel Ray.

I’m thinking about doing a series of 15 minute meals, to show you what WE get on the table in record time.  I’d like to hear your speedy dinners as well.

Last night’s dinner was definitely a quick one.  Of course, I had a sous chef helping me, so that speeds things along. Winking smile 

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Lamb Pitas with Easy Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients:

1 package ground lamb (1 lb.)

1 onion, diced

4 tbsp. fresh oregano, minced

1 small cucumber, chopped

1 cup Greek yogurt (I use Fage 2%)

garlic salt

1 tbsp. lemon juice

store-bought pitas, feta cheese, chopped cherry tomatoes

Directions:

In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Add onion and cook for 10-15 minutes, until starting to brown.  Add lamb and 2 tbsp. of oregano.  Season with garlic salt and continue to cook, breaking up the lamb with the back of the spoon.

While lamb cooks, in a mixing bowl, combine cucumber, yogurt, the other 2 tbsp. of oregano, and lemon juice.  Mix well and set aside.

Once lamb is cooked, transfer to a serving bowl.

Top pitas with lamb, sauce, and feta cheese and tomatoes.

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This meal is Lila-approved.

Happy Monday!

Hidden Kiss Cookies

December 7, 2014

Hi friends!

Last night, I had a College of Liberal Arts party to go to, so yesterday afternoon, Lila and I put on our holiday baking hats.

We don’t really have baking hats.  Though I wish we did.

I browsed a lot of different cookie recipes before settling on this one, from the current issue of Southern Living:  Hidden Kiss Snow-mound cookies.  I liked the name.  Plus, the dough doesn’t have any eggs in it (it’s basically an almond shortbread), which meant that we could eat as much of it as we wanted.  #winning

Lila was, as always, a great helper:

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She helped to unwrap all of the kisses, and didn’t even try to sneak *too* many into her mouth.

I made the dough while she unwrapped the chocolate, and then we placed a kiss in each dough mound:

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The mounds were then topped off with MORE dough, thus creating the complete snowmound.

How many times can I say “mound” in this post?  Clearly we’re going to find out.

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Baked:

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…and topped with “snow”:

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These were delicious! Put them on your holiday “to-bake” list!

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