Friday, April 29, 2011

Thankful for...

It's Friday, which means a list of some sort is coming your way!  This week has been a little light on recipes and, for that, I'm sorry.  These past two weeks have seemed so busy with holidays, visitors, wedding planning, and even playoff hockey.  Thanks for sticking with me :)  Without further ado, a list:

1. I'm thankful for beautiful spring weather!  After a long day at work, I decided to skip the gym in favor of gallivanting around the city with my intended.  We walked, jogged, and even raced up the (what felt like) thousands of stairs outside the Petersen Center.  Hearts racing and hair blowing in the wind.  Loved every second of it!

2. I'm thankful for Steve Carell's talent and humor.  I mean, goodness, that guy is one of the best!  Last night's episode of The Office was the farewell to his character of seven years, Michael Scott.  It was hilarious and sweet and so appropriate to both his character and the show as a whole.  Did you watch?  I did... and criiiiiiiiiiiiiied.  A little embarrassing, but that show just holds such a special place in my heart.  It always will.  I won't spoil anything, but his goodbye to Jim is what really sent me over the edge.  Tears streaming down my face, I tell you!  Yikes :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuscan vegetable soup

Welp, guess that's a wrap!  It's the morning after a heart-breaking loss and the official end to the Penguins' rollercoaster of a season.  I'm mentally exhausted... and I think I may have developed a small ulcer last night while watching the game.  But I'm not nearly as upset as I thought I'd be.

Maybe it's because we were playing without two of the best players in the world for half of the season.  Maybe it's because this season's list of injuries takes longer to read than Tolstoy's War and Peace.  Maybe it's because, at one point, 60% of our roster was composed of a minor league squad.  Maybe it's because, despite all of that, the Penguins managed to put together one of the most exciting seasons in their history (Winter Classic, HBO's 24/7, etc.).  It's been one heck of a season.

But maybe, just maybe, it's because I completely bucked routine -- I had ice cream before a delicious dinner and loved every second of it. 

The thunderstorms couldn't keep us from heading out for 31 cent scoop night, even if we had to scratch plans to enjoy a walk there.  For her -- cookies and cream.  Ohmygosh, I forgot how much I loved this flavor!  The Oreo cookies are soft but the center is still creamy.  I love finding almost whole cookies in my ice cream... yum!  For him -- chocolate chip cookie dough... maybe I sampled a bite, you know, for a quality check.  Did you make it out to enjoy a scoop?

And then I came home, belly full of sugar and cookies, and did something unexpected.  I whipped up a batch of the best vegetable soup you'll ever taste and, um, added some chicken, all in under 15 minutes!!  Say hello to the sure-to-become-a-favorite-of-yours Tuscan vegetable soup:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Have you tried...

...savory oatmeal?  If your answer is "no" well, you must try it immediately!!  And, don't turn up your nose just yet.  Just like rice and couscous can be savory or sweet, so too can oatmeal.

Not sweet.  Not dripping with maple syrup, or topped with luscious blueberries or banana slices.  Not even sprinkled with a little brown sugar.

Instead, topped with a sunny-side-up egg, cheddar cheese, a sprinkling of green onion, and a dash of salt and pepper.  A little something like this bright bowl of breakfast cheer:

[image via Martha Stewart]

I've read about savory versions of oatmeal for months but never quite had the guts to try it for myself.  After yesterday's nauseating adventures with sugar (someone maybe went a little overboard with Easter sweets), I wanted something satisfying and slightly salty to start my morning today.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Royal doughnut fever!

Hello hello!  It feels strange to be back in front of a computer after an extended and (mostly) technology-free weekend.   I hope everyone had a fantastic Easter/Passover and enjoyed some time with family and friends, and possibly snuck in a Cadbury egg or three :)   

As planned, three generations of Kemp women enjoyed a day of tea...

...and flowers in Pittsburgh.

So after a weekend of dainty sandwiches and lots of wedding progress (bridesmaid and flower girl dresses - check!), I'm not quite ready to return to everyday life.  How about a little royal wedding fever to distract you?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Busy Friday

It's Good Friday... and still Passover.  And I'm off work!

I'm home with my family.  My grandma is visiting.

We're having a Kemp females lunch here.

And, following that, a field trip here.

And enjoying the rest of the holiday weekend watching a little hockey, running many wedding-related errands, and relaxing with the family.  Happy Easter!  And, a very happy birthday to my favorite pharmacist, Natalie!  :)

One Year Ago: Dreamy creamy (easy!) scones

Monday, April 18, 2011

Crab cakes

Easter is just under a week away, and that means I am looking forward to seeing my grandma when she visits (I'll be missing the rest of the extended family... hi!).  I often wonder if everyone loves her family as much as I do.  Sure, they're absolutely out of their minds at times, but that makes it easier for me to blend in.  We Kemps are an interesting bunch... a bit stubborn, you might say.  How stubborn?  We've been known to do absurd things like cut down trees over a badminton matchThat stubborn. :)

We're also a bit stubborn when it comes to crab cakes.  Don't get me wrong, we love all things crab and have never, at least to my knowledge, turned away a crab cake.  (Who would do such a terrible thing?)  But because my parents were born and raised on the eastern shore of Maryland, a.k.a. crab country, they grew up with a very clear picture of what a crab cake should look like: large lumps of crab meat, absolutely no bread, and a patty that can barely hold itself together.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easy white bean dip

Finally!  Friday!  And a five minute dip recipe for ya.  It's so quick, I swear that I blinked and it was finished.  Especially convenient when one has the kind of ravenous evening that brings all of this into one's apartment. And, apparently, attracts fiances from near and far.  As I was taking this picture, the door opened and a certain someone strolled into my apartment...

And went straight to the dip, passing me by!  The nerve!

The real question is this: did I mind?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nooooooothing compares, nothing compares to you...

I'm talking about chocolate!  Sweet, sometimes bitter, smooth, plain or filled with surprises, glorious chocolate.  After an absolutely dynamite office lunch from Coca Cafe (I recommend the ham and brie on pretzel bread) yesterday courtesy of the bosses, almost everyone enjoyed a brownie for dessert.  Me?  Not so much.  Instead, I wrapped one up to take home and store until Saturday.  I was so proud of myself for resisting temptation!  A pat on the back was deserved before I returned to work. 

As the rest of the day went on, all I could think about was having a little morsel of something sweet.  Anything.  Maybe a few grapes would quell the craving.  (Spoiler alert: They did not.)  Drank an extra glass of water thinking maybe I could trick my brain into thinking I was simply thirsty and no longer needed sugar.  A grueling sweaty workout would surely distract me long enough to send me home craving real foods.  I just had to make a quick stop at CVS to pick up Ziploc bags... and I came away with all of this:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Herb-marinated pork loin

I tend to complicate things.  Overthink things.  Obsess over things and make lists so I won't forget them.  I even have trouble shutting off my brain at night.  So much so that I keep a notepad next to my bed so I can jot down ideas lest I forget them come morning.  You could say I'm a details person.  (Understatement of the year, right parents?)  Sometimes that's a good thing.

Other times, well, I've learned that it's necessary to let go.  To go with the flow.  Every minute doesn't need to be accounted for on a vacation.  (Rachel and I have even gone as far as setting aside blocks of time to "be spontaneous!" on our travel itineraries.  True story.)  So, when I came face to face with a recipe like this, well, I wasn't quite sure how to act.  It just seemed so... so... low maintenance.  So easy.  So hands off.  It almost felt like cheating to call it a recipe. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cornbread & beef skillet pie

I'll admit that I've done more than enough moaning and groaning about winter wearing out its welcome here in western PA.  But, that negativity is behind me, and I've welcomed warm temperatures with open arms (and an empty stomach).  I like to think that mother nature and I have turned over a new leaf.  Started a new chapter.  We're totally Ross and Rachel circa the second season of Friends (hint: they're together).

So, if everything is sunshine and daffodils, someone please explain to me why I've all of a sudden started craving hearty cold weather comfort foods!  It's like I have a secret wish for snow and brutally cold temperatures to linger.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Bring on spring!  Apparently, I've subconsciously realized that the days for soups and casseroles are numbered, and I better squeeze in as many as possible before it's too late.  You know, when just the thought of turning on an oven causes beads of sweat to form on my forehead.

Having wrestled with the idea of possibly longing for a few more weeks of cool weather, I've come to the only logical conclusion possible: if loving aromatic fingers-and-toes-warming one pot meals is wrong, then I don't want to be right!   But, if you're going to point the finger of blame, please direct it toward the cornbread and beef skillet.  It made me do it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My very educational weekend

(That title makes me think of Scrubs.  Anyone else?)

It feels like it's been ages since I've done anything that could be loosely considered productive.  Yep, it was one of those weekends.  It began with a feeling of freedom -- "I can do whatever I want!" -- since there was no list of chores or errands to complete anywhere in my apartment (shocking, no?).  So full of energy and life.

And then it turned into a feeling of laziness -- "I don't want to do aaaaaaaaaanything." -- but it wasn't totally unwarranted (I'll explain shortly).

Despite my rollercoaster motivation levels, I did learn quite a few things this weekend.  Allow me to share...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Only the finest for Friday

Today is my day off.  [insert uncoordinated dance here]

I woke up and did yoga.

And then I made myself the most high brow breakfast I could muster.

A soft-boiled egg and toast.

(What can I say?  Those one-armed planks are a killer.)

I felt so European... and I loved it.

(Also, note to self: buy an egg holder.)

And then read this and will be smiling and smirking for the rest of the day.  The writer has a way with words, an ability to seduce the letters (and the reader) and make you feel like she's sitting right next to you, chattering in your ear.  I'll share it with you because I like you and want you to laugh, too.  After all, it's Friday!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spinach, onion & bacon frittata

Sometimes I make a big old mess in the kitchen.  Picture a sink piled high with pans, bowls, and every cutting board I own.  I could clean the dishes as I go.  (I don't.)  I try to savor the meal I've created without distractions and in a seated position.  (Enter Family Guy reruns and leaning against the counter, plate in hand.)  I stare down the Pisa-like tower and wonder if mind control works on dish soap, a sponge, and a Pisa-like tower of dishes.  (It doesn't.)

Thankfully for you and me, this isn't one of those times.  Rather, this is a tale about how less is more.  Less dishes, less ingredients, and generally less fuss.  How I ditched the apron, popped in a DVD and barely paid attention to what was on the stove and ended up with an unreasonably delicious meal in spite of my apathy.  Don't you just love when life works out like that?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

At last, my love has come along...

Remember when I proclaimed my love of Rice Krispies Treats Cereal for the whole interwebs to see?  (Hint: If you don't, click that link.)  And then asked begged anyone who happened upon it to buy the entire stock for me?  Yes, I was a desperate woman.

Well, a glorious thing happened as a result of that request.  One of those moments that makes me truly thankful to have a blog and be connected with the most fun and helpful people in the world.  Ask and you shall receive!

My coworker was at Wal-Mart on Sunday evening and spotted the purple box of my dreams.  Tucked away on a lower shelf was a column of Rice Krispies Treats Cereal boxes, 15 to be exact.  She kindly texted me with an accompanying picture asking if this was really it, to which I replied something like, "YES YES YES!  Thank you!  Ahhh!"  Who could've guessed the sight of three little elves could induce such joy.

A few more texts later, including one that was almost sent but deleted saying, "How many do I want... how many boxes do they have?", and my sweet colleague left the store with 4 boxes of the miracle cereal.  She delivered them to me at work the next day, and the rest is history.... just like the first box.

And, last but not least, happy birthday to my dear Mom! :o) 

One Year Ago: Cheesecake 101

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Baked apples stuffed with amaretti cookies

I love dessert. No kidding!  Lots of pictures today to prove it.

In any size... (black bottom cupcakes)

Or shape... (ooey gooey St. Louis butter cake)

Or color... (red velvet cake)

Or quantity... (single serve egg-less chocolate chip cookie dough)

Get the idea?  I love dessert so much that I've been known to finish off even lunch and breakfast with a little something sweet.  You know, to make sure those full cakes and big batches of cookies don't go to waste.

But, these days, if anything sweet is still around Monday morning, it's going to be seriously neglected until Saturday.  In light of my promise, I'm learning to make one or two serving desserts.  I swear it goes against my very existence to make sweets not to be shared, but I'm trying... really!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Oh, thank goodness it's Sunday... wait, what?!

It's Monday already?  But... but... I only had one day off this weekend, and it was busy busy busy!  Actually, whom am I trying to fool?  I'm not complaining at all.  Working on a Saturday means there is a three day weekend in my future.  And, it's amazing what being able to wear jeans to work will do to one's productivity -- off the chart :)

Truth be told, I was so busy near the end of the week that I plum forgot to photograph a recipe that I made on Thursday night.  You see, I was busy helping Matt pack for a field trip for one of his geology classes.  Oh yes, even graduate students have field trips.  Their itinerary involved hiking and looking at rocks... or something.  We went to Target and bought pretty much every (calorically-dense) snack food imaginable.

Power Bars (he couldn't wait until the trip to indulge in one), Pop-tarts, Larabars, a poncho and water bottle (not for consumption, obvs), Reese's Cups (?!), and Velveeta (not for the trip but he just couldn't resist).  Not pictured: Kashi TLC bars, apples, and Tex Mex trail mix.  Not to be left out, I may have picked up a few items that caught my eye...