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Friday, November 29, 2013

giving thanks

we had such a great thanksgiving yesterday.  we spent the day at my parents' house and we really enjoyed cooking with my mom, spending time with our family, playing with the kitties, and of course eating way too much! 

hope your thanksgiving was lovely too!
love, laurie

Thursday, November 28, 2013

happy thanksgiving!

happy thanksgiving!  we have so many things to be thankful for, and it is so nice to have a day set aside each year to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives.

today i am looking forward to cooking thanksgiving dinner with my mom and ryan, spending time with our family, and of course digging into all of our favorite traditional thanksgiving dishes . . . turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, veggies, casseroles, cranberry relish, and pumpkin pie!

have a wonderful thanksgiving!
love, laurie

image source

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

roasted sweet potato and carrot soup

recently, i was looking for a way to use up a few vegetables that we had around the house.  i decided to roast our leftover sweet potatoes and to throw them into a soup with some leftover carrots, onion, and garlic.  the result was an absolutely delicious soup that was super nutritious and really easy to make.

this soup is loaded with veggies.  just think of all of those good vitamins and nutrients floating around in there!

the roasted sweet potatoes give this soup such a wonderful flavor.  there is a splash of unsweetened coconut milk in the soup to make it just a little bit creamy, and we topped it off with some sriracha for a bit of a kick.

the sweet potatoes and the carrots make the soup a great shade of bright orange.  (one of my favorite colors.)  it's the perfect thing to brighten up an otherwise cold and dreary day.

if you're looking for a simple vegetarian soup recipe, look no further.  by the way, if you substitute olive oil for the butter, this soup is vegan!  we're satisfying all types of picky eaters here . . . meat free, gluten free, and dairy free!

roasted sweet potato and carrot soup
prep time: 5-10 minutes
baking time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 35-45 minutes
yields: 6 servings

3 medium sweet potatoes
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
32 oz. low-sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water

preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  peel the sweet potatoes and dice them into small cubes.  place the sweet potato cubes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.  toss to evenly coat.  roast the sweet potatoes for 20 minutes, tossing after the first 10 minutes.

in a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  add the diced onion and saute until tender (about 5-7 minutes).  add the diced carrots and cook until tender (about 5-7 minutes).  stir in the minced garlic and the curry powder.  add the vegetable stock and the roasted sweet potato cubes.  cook for 10-15 minutes.  use a blender or an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  stir in the coconut milk and the water.  let the soup simmer for an additional 10 minutes.  serve hot with sriracha.

love, laurie

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

just make yourself comfortable, kitten . . .

we spent the day on saturday christmas shopping, and then on sunday we wrapped the christmas gifts that we bought for our family.  while we were wrapping the christmas gifts, ryan bent down over the dining room table for a moment to get something.  before we knew it, leko jumped up on ryan's back!

leko sat on ryan's back for a few minutes and then he stretched out and decided to lie down.  i guess he had enough of wrapping presents, and he was ready to rest.  instead of just taking a nap somewhere by himself, he thought it would be a good idea to make himself comfortable on ryan's back.

poor ryan was pretty stiff by the time that leko was done with his circus trick nap, but it sure was cute!  silly kitten.

love, laurie

Monday, November 25, 2013

coconut pancakes

the weather sure has been cold lately, and this weekend it was no different.  it was absolutely frigid.  we spent a majority of the day on saturday christmas shopping, and we couldn't believe how cold it was outside.  it even snowed a little bit on saturday (and then again on sunday too).  without a doubt, i am not ready for the weather to be this cold yet!

when it gets this cold outside, i like to think of warm tropical places . . . that's my mental escape from the cold pennsylvania weather that has been leaving my fingers, my toes, and my face frozen lately.  when i think of warm tropical places, i think of pina coladas.  (i make a mean non-alcoholic pina colada by the way.)  

on sunday morning, in an effort to mentally escape the cold weather, i made a batch of coconut pancakes.  oh, these pancakes are so good!  they are perfectly light and fluffy, and they have a great coconut flavor.  these pancakes are loaded with coconut flavor.  there is coconut milk, cream of coconut, and shredded coconut in them.  then, they are topped off with roasted coconut chips.  although there are several forms of coconut in them and on them, they are not too sweet at all.    

if you're in a warm tropical place right now, i'm jealous.  if not, i invite you to day dream with me and to enjoy a batch of these coconut pancakes.

coconut pancakes
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 10 minutes
yields: 7-8 pancakes
adapted from a cozy kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 large egg
1 tablespoon salted butter, melted

in a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.  in a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, cream of coconut, and egg.  add in the melted butter and whisk until combined.  add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until no lumps remain.  fold in the shredded coconut.  

heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan on medium heat.  pour 3 tablespoons of batter onto the griddle for each pancake.  cook for 2-4 minutes, until small bubbles begin to form.  flip the pancakes when they start to bubble, then cook for 2-3 minutes, until they are golden brown and cooked throughout.  once cooked, top the pancakes with the roasted coconut chips.  serve warm with maple syrup.

love, laurie

Friday, November 22, 2013

fun thanksgiving facts

since thanksgiving is less than a week away, i thought it would be fun to share a few facts about thanksgiving . . .

infographic source
ps: did you know that a turkey can outrun a person?
love, laurie

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

entertaining commercials

without a doubt, many commercials have been pretty lame lately.  half the time you can't even figure out what the commercial is supposed to be selling, or the commercial makes no sense at all.  however, i found these two recent commercials to be rather entertaining . . .

this volvo commercial is totally ridiculous.  it was filmed in spain at sunrise in just one take!  that's insane.  consider my mind blown.

and for something a bit lighter, there's this kmart commercial that had me laughing out loud.  ha!

kmart is really on a role lately.  do you remember this kmart commercial from last spring?

have a great wednesday!
love, laurie

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

chicken piccata

sometimes life gets crazy and we need to make dinner in a pinch.  when we are super busy and need to whip up something to eat quickly, one of our go-to recipes is chicken piccata.

not only is this chicken piccata recipe easy to make, it is also super flavorful.  the flour and the egg give the chicken a great coating, and the combination of the lemon juice, the white wine, and the capers make a great sauce.  i just love the flavor of this chicken dish.  it is so light and fresh, and it is perfect served over pasta!

chicken piccata
prep time: 10-15 minutes
cooking time: 25-30 minutes
yields: 4 servings

2 whole boneless/skinless chicken breasts
4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoon salted butter
1/2 cup chablis white wine (or chicken stock)
1 large lemon, juiced
1 jar (3.5 oz.) nonpareil capers in brine
salt and ground black pepper to taste

butterfly the two chicken breasts and then cut each piece in half so that you have four pieces of chicken.  wrap the pieces of chicken in plastic wrap, and gently pound them with the flat edge of a meat mallet in order to flatten them.

preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.  in a large skillet over medium heat, preheat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.  remove the chicken from the plastic wrap, and dredge each piece of chicken in flour.  shake off the excess flour and season with salt and pepper.  in a bowl, whisk together the egg and milk.  dip two pieces of the chicken in the egg mixture and then add the chicken to the skillet.  cook for 3 minutes.  when the chicken is browned, flip the chicken and cook the other side for 3 minutes.  remove the chicken from the skillet and transfer it to an oven-safe baking dish.  cover with foil.  add more olive oil to the skillet as needed, and dip the remaining two pieces of the chicken in the egg mixture.  again, add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes.  when the chicken is browned, flip the chicken and cook the other side for 3 minutes.  remove the chicken from the skillet and add it to the baking dish.  put the chicken in the oven to stay warm.

add the butter to the hot skillet and allow the butter to melt.  add the wine, to the skillet and scrape the bottom and sides of the skillet with a spatula.  add in the lemon juice and the capers with their brine, and bring to a boil.  season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  remove the chicken from the oven and pour the sauce over the chicken.  serve hot over pasta.  garnish with parsley and slices of lemon.

love, laurie

Monday, November 18, 2013

ready for shipment

leko always loves to be right in the middle of whatever we are doing . . . literally.  the other day, we were packaging up a few things that needed to be shipped.  we went into another room for just a few moments.  when we came back, this is what we found . . .

silly kitten!
love, laurie

Friday, November 15, 2013

fun links

the weather sure has been wacky lately.  earlier in the week it was 30 degrees and snowing, and this weekend it is supposed to be 55 degrees and sunny.  craziness.  at least it's friday today!  hello, weekend!  since it's friday, here are a few fun links that i found around the internet recently:

simple leaf place cards for your thanksgiving table

these pumpkin cream cheese truffles sound delicious

a super cute polar bear cub playing in the snow

this penguin made me laugh

speaking of penguins, cute penguin nail art

cats with unique fur markings

speaking of cats, this is pretty much my motto

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, November 14, 2013

vegetarian qunioa chili

during the past few months, we have made a conscious effort to limit our meat consumption.  don't worry, we're not turning vegetarian.  (i love chicken parm and a good cheeseburger from time to time, so there is no way i could ever go completely meat free.)  however, we do try to limit eating meat to only one or two times per week.  overall, i have to admit that i feel much better because of it.

lately, we have been finding a ton of vegetarian recipes as substitutes to some of our favorite meat dishes.  recently, we made this vegetarian chili and we both agreed that it was one of the best chili recipes that we have ever had.  this chili substitutes quinoa for ground beef, and i absolutely promise that you won't even miss the beef.  the quinoa mimics the texture of the ground beef in the chili, and it is absolutely delicious!

for sure, this recipe is going to become a staple in our house.  we can't wait to make it again.  it is the perfect recipe to throw together during the cold weather months.

we made a batch of this chili and had it for dinner all week.  (we love leftovers!)  we made a big pan of homemade cornbread to serve with the chili too.  chili and cornbread . . . now, there's a match made in heaven!

vegetarian quinoa chili
prep time: 10-15 minutes
cooking time: 60 minutes
yields: 8 servings
adapted from cooking classy

1 cup dry quinoa
4 cups water (divided)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (1 lb. 12 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) sweet corn, drained and rinsed
juice of 1/2 lime

rinse the quinoa well in a strainer.  combine the quinoa and 2 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring the water to a boil.  cover the saucepan and allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy.  set aside.

heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  add the onion and saute until tender (about 3-4 minutes).  add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, spices, sugar, and 1 1/2 cups of water.  stir to combine.  bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.  mix in the cooked quinoa and allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes.  stir in the beans, corn, and lime juice, and cook until heated through.  serve warm, plain or topped with sour cream and/or shredded cheddar cheese, and with cornbread.

love, laurie

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

lover boy

leko is such a lover boy.  whenever we sit down, leko jumps up on our laps to cuddle.  of course, we absolutely love it!  on saturday morning, ryan sat down for a few minutes while we waited for our pancakes to finish cooking.  in a matter of a split second, leko was up on ryan's lap and curled up into a little ball.  i just couldn't resist taking a picture of him sitting on ryan's lap.  he's such a cutie!

love, laurie  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

apple cider doughnut pancakes

we absolutely loved our trip to ritter's cider mill last weekend.  we brought home a quart of freshly pressed apple cider from the mill, and it was absolutely delicious.  since we had a little bit of our fresh apple cider left over, we decided to make apple cider pancakes for breakfast on saturday morning.

these apple cider pancakes reminded me so much of the baked apple cider doughnuts that we made a few weeks ago.  the apple cider flavor in the pancakes is subtle, but the spices really stand out.  instead of covering these pancakes in maple syrup, we let butter melt over the top of the pancakes and then we sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar.  just like the doughnuts.

the combination of the melted butter and the cinnamon sugar mixture on the tops of the pancakes resembled the look of creme brulee . . . yum!

these pancakes were a fun fall treat for a weekend breakfast, and they were oh so good!

apple cider doughnut pancakes
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 10-15 minutes
yields: 10 pancakes
adapted from tokyo terrace

pancake ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, separated
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon olive oil

topping ingredients:
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salted butter, at room temperature

sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl.  in a separate bowl, whisk together the egg white, buttermilk, yogurt (or sour cream), honey, and apple cider.  in another bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and the olive oil.  add the egg yolk and olive oil mixture to the egg white mixture and whisk until combined.  pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.

heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan on medium heat.  pour 3 tablespoons of batter onto the griddle for medium-size pancakes.  flip the pancakes when they start to bubble.  cook until each side is golden brown and they are cooked throughout.  combine the granulated sugar and the ground cinnamon.  while the pancakes are still warm, top them with butter and allow the butter to melt over the pancakes.  sprinkle the cinnamon sugar topping over the melted butter.

love, laurie

Monday, November 11, 2013

veterans day

one of the reasons that i love working at a a university is because it is always so neat to see what projects the students are working on and what creative ideas they come up with.

in honor of veterans day today, the student veterans alliance displayed american flags in the memorial commons on campus.  the project is called the "flags for the fallen campaign" and each flag represents a fallen service member.  there are 6,750 flags in total, and the flags are arranged in perfectly straight lines.  the project is such a nice tribute to the veterans who served our country, and it is so touching to see the display in person.

love, laurie