Screw It, It’s Friday

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Happy Friday, ya’ll! I’ll keep it short since I’m sure you are dying to get your weekend started. 

I made a few changes around here today. Look up. The menu bar changed! Look to the right. I have a button! (Totally patting myself on the back for that right now. I made it all by myself. Well, mostly. This awesome post helped bunches.)

I’m probably a little late to this party, but I have a sponsor page now! It’s pretty stark for a sponsor page, but it’s a work in progress. I want to start with just button swaps for now, until I get my stats a little higher. Also, I don’t want to deal with anyone’s actual money until I’m more confident I can use Passionfruit. Screwing up where money is involved is probably not the best way to make friends. 

So go, click, swap with me! Then go do your fun weekend shiz. I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine. Mr. B brought me home a big bottle of pinot grigio. God, I love him.

What’s everyone getting into this weekend? Anything fun? I’m going to buy a dryer, so it may not be the best weekend ever. Oh, well. I have wine.

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More Vacation Pictures (And Why We All Got Fried To A Crisp)

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If you stopped by yesterday, you know that the entire week that we were in Clarksville, VA the weather was amazing. Sunny and scorching hot – perfect boating weather. So it’s really no surprise that a few (ok, one) full day on the water would leave us all a little crispy. Fortunately, we were wise enough to pop down to Food Lion and stock up on SPF 50. (If you know my family, you know that’s huge. We all tan easily and rarely burn, especially in the middle of July, so we rarely use anything stronger than SPF 15. SPF 30 max, and that’s only when we are reintroducing our skin to the sun after a long Pittsburgh winter. Please save the sunscreen preaching…I know.) We all made sure to reapply liberally and often the rest of the week, and by the time we got home, most of our burns had mellowed to a golden tan or slight pink. And honestly, with stuff like this in our backyard, how could we not spend the whole week outside??

Despite how gorgeous it was, we spent most of the week with this view of the house. My parents brought their pontoon boat and jet skis, and Mr. B and I took our boat, so everyone spent most of their time in or on the water.

Despite how gorgeous it was, we spent most of the week with this view of the house. My parents brought their pontoon boat and jet skis, and Mr. B and I took our boat, so everyone spent most of their time in or on the water.

 

Joey joined us on the boat most days. He preferred the relaxed atmosphere of the pontoon. He curled up in the shade and napped.

Joey joined us on the boat most days. He preferred the relaxed atmosphere of the pontoon. He curled up in the shade and napped. He was in heaven.

 

We spent a lot of time relaxing in a few of the many little coves.

We spent a lot of time relaxing in a few of the many little coves…

 

...and in the middle of the lake on some of the most beautiful water I've ever seen.

…and in the middle of the lake on some of the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen.

 

Even Joey enjoyed floating around.

Even Joey enjoyed floating around.

 

The guys did a little fishing. My brother caught a nice this nice bass...

The guys did a little fishing. My brother caught a this nice bass…

 

...and Mr. B caught some catfish that my brother fried up for dinner.

…and Mr. B caught some catfish that my brother fried up for dinner.

 

It was delicious. Even my dad - who claims he hates seafood so much that he hadn't eaten any in 45 years - tried it. He liked it so much he went back for seconds.

It was delicious. Even my dad – who claims he hates seafood so much that he hadn’t eaten any in 45 years – tried it. He liked it so much he went back for seconds.

 

We explored the lake a bit and found the (huge) dam...

We explored the lake a bit and found the (huge) dam…

 

...and on the North Carolina side of the lake we found this cute little beach where we stopped to have a picnic.

…and on the North Carolina side of the lake we found this cute little beach where we stopped to have a picnic.

 

Everyone had a blast with the jet skis, especially Mr. B. This was the first time I'd really seen him cut loose on one, he's crazy!

Everyone had a blast with the jet skis, especially Mr. B. This was the first time I’d really seen him cut loose on one, he’s crazy!

 

They even used the jet ski to pull Mr. B on a wakeboard. Everyone reported back that it's much easier on a boat - for both the driver and the boarder.

They even used the jet ski to pull Mr. B on a wakeboard. Everyone reported back that it’s much easier on a boat – for both the driver and the boarder.

 

And of course, there was a lot of tubing and wakeboarding. You know, because we weren't sore enough from the sunburns.

And of course, there was a lot of tubing and wakeboarding. You know, because we weren’t sore enough from the sunburns.

There was also a lot of eating. My parents’ boat has a grill, which was super handy. Plus, my brother is a chef. He didn’t do a ton of cooking but he did make us some delicious roasted chicken one night, and his salsa verde was ahhh-mazing. Weirdly, it’s great on top of a hamburger. I didn’t get any pictures of that though because I was too busy stuffing my face. Oops.

 


Vacation Recap (And Why We Should Have Stayed At The Lake)

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Happy hump day! I can’t believe this week is only half over. It hasn’t been a good one.

We got home from the lake on Saturday, unpacked and vegged out on the couch because that’s really all we had the energy for. We woke up Sunday morning to find that the pump that brings the water up from our well had crapped out. So we spent all day finding/picking up/installing a new pump. It was gross and expensive. Then on Monday, the dryer died. Mr. B’s appliance-repairman uncle came yesterday and determined that it was beyond repair. Freakin’ awesome. So I am now researching and hunting down a new dryer that doesn’t cost a million dollars but will last longer than 3 years. Can anyone recommend a good gas dryer? I will love you forever if you can point me in the right direction because I’m clueless.

Anywhooo, let’s pretend I’m still on vacation. Because really, we never should have come home.

Ten of us spent a week at a lake house in Clarksville, VA on Kerr Lake, which is also known as Buggs Island Lake. Kerr Lake is a huge man-made reservoir with 800 miles of shoreline that covers more than 50,000 acres. It straddles Virginia and North Carolina. Clarksville is the tiny, adorable town on the water. We had amazing weather, it was sunny and 90+ every day, with only one passing thundershower, and the water was 80 degrees. We really couldn’t have asked for better boating weather. I didn’t use my beach towel all week; it was so hot that it felt good to air dry. I love warm weather, so I was a happy camper.

Ok, now that we’ve got those boring details out of the way, here are some pictures:

The beautiful house we rented.

The beautiful house we rented.

 

It looked much bigger from the back. Isn't that deck amazing?!

It looked much bigger from the back. Isn’t that deck amazing?!

 

There was a short, wooded path to a private dock. It was so pretty!

There was a short, wooded path to a private dock. It was so pretty!

 

The lake was high, so we had to wade to the dock. It was less of a pain in the ass than I'd imagined. Plus, the water level dropped as the week went on, so by the time we left it wasn't even knee-high.

The lake was high, so we had to wade to the dock. It was less of a pain in the ass than I’d imagined. Plus, the water level dropped as the week went on, so by the time we left it wasn’t even knee-high.

 

The house was situated on a wildlife reserve, so we had this bald eagle as a neighbor. We could watch him from the dock, it was pretty amazing.

The house was situated on a wildlife reserve, so we had this bald eagle as a neighbor. We could watch him from the dock, it was pretty awesome.

 

There was a small orchard down the road, complete with grape vines, pear trees, and what we can only assume is a homemade lawn ornament.

There was a small orchard down the road, complete with grape vines, pear trees, and what we can only assume is a homemade lawn ornament.

 

The town of Clarksville is so quaint and cute. This is a view of it from the water.

The town of Clarksville is so quaint and cute. This is a view of it from the water.

 

It's even cute at night.

It’s even cute at night.

 

 

This old tobacco warehouse in the middle of town is now used as boat storage in the off-season.

This old tobacco warehouse in the middle of town is now used as boat storage in the off-season. (Sidenote: it looks like my dad is acting as a tour guide here, but I think he was just pointing to the liquor store next door.)

 

This cute little antique store was run by the sweetest old lady, who was probably older than most of the treasures she sold.

This cute little antique store was run by the sweetest old lady, who was probably older than most of the treasures she sold.

 

We found an amazing little B&B/restaurant/wine bar where we had dinner on the patio. If you ever visit Clarksville, you have to stop at Cooper's landing. The food was delish and the patio was beautiful.

We found an amazing little B&B/restaurant/wine bar where we had dinner on the patio. If you ever visit Clarksville, you have to stop at Cooper’s Landing. The food was delish, the service was excellent, and the patio was gorgeous.

 

 

Every year near the end of July, Clarksville hosts Lakefest. Here, everyone is gathering in the thrift store parking lot to enjoy some live music and carnival food.

Every year near the end of July, Clarksville hosts Lakefest. Here, everyone is gathering in the thrift store parking lot to enjoy some live music and carnival food.

 

There is even a little carnival for Lakefest. Without exaggeration, this is the entire thing.

There is even a little carnival for Lakefest. Without exaggeration, this is the entire thing.

 

And obviously, since this was a family vacation, we had to take the requisite matching-shirt-family-photo.

And obviously, since this was a family vacation, we had to take the requisite matching-shirt-family-photo.

We had a great time exploring the little town, but we spent most of our time on the lake. Come back tomorrow to see all the fun we had on the water 🙂


Homemade Ketchup Recipe

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I’m a Pittsburgh girl. I bleed black and gold, I know what it means to “redd up” a room, and I’m a ketchup snob. Only Heinz will do. If I can’t get my hands on a bottle of ketchup branded with the famous “57 varieties”, I’d rather do without. Because of this, I was intrigued, but not hopeful, when I found recipes for homemade ketchup floating around Pinterest.

I tried several; some were too tomato-y, others were too sweet, the rest were just “off”. So, I set out to create my own ketchup recipe.  It took some tweaking, but I’m pretty pleased with the result. I don’t know if it’s as good as Heinz, but Mr. B couldn’t tell the difference.

 

HomemadeKetchupRecipe

 

Try it out for yourself, and let me know what you think! Do you have any quirks or specific preferences because of where you were raised? What are they?

 

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Cheesy Chicken Meatballs

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CheesyChickenMeatballs

The other night I made these cheesy chicken meatballs, intending to put them on top of pasta with alfredo sauce. When I pulled them out of the oven, Mr. B and I “taste-tested” them, and we ended up eating them all by themselves. So, while I’m sure they would be a delicious addition to a pasta dish, they also make a tasty little appetizer.

First, I used my hands to mix up all the ingredients in a large bowl.

Mush it all up until it forms a nice sticky ball like this.

Mush it all up until it forms a nice sticky ball like this.

 

Then, I rolled them into 2-inch balls, and fried them up in hot oil until they were browned on all sides.

 

FryMeatballs

 

After frying the meatballs for just a few minutes, I transferred them to a glass baking dish and baked for about 20 minutes.

 

Make sure they reach an internal temp of at least 170 degrees.

Make sure they reach an internal temp of at least 170 degrees.

 

 

Ta-da! Cheesy chicken meatballs!

 

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My New Favorite Snack

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I love avocados. I love them so much, in fact, that when I noticed that the local grocery store had organic avocados on sale (2/$3!), I did the unthinkable. I *gasp!* deviated from my shopping list. That’s right folks, I purchased something that wasn’t on my grocery list. This is very out of character for me, as my weekly lists are carefully planned and strictly followed. But, like I said, I love avocados. And a good bargain. So into the shopping cart they went.

When I got home, I realized I hadn’t planned to make anything in the upcoming week that called for, or could reasonably include, avocados. That’s ok, I thought, I’ll make guacamole. Alas, I only had about half of what I’d need to pull that off. So I got creative, and that’s how I found my new favorite snack.

It’s so simple that it doesn’t even need an actual recipe:

 Avocado Snack

All I did was slice the avocado into little chunks, place a chunk on a tortilla chip, and sprinkle with fresh lime juice and black pepper. Voila! Delish little snack. You’re welcome.


Fried Cheese

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A few weekends ago, Mr. B and I were running errands and stopped on our way home at a little cheese shop that I’d been wanting to check out since I moved to the area. I was not disappointed. They had a very respectable selection (especially for our small town), including many cheeses made on site. Mr. B and I taste-tested quite a few, and eventually came home with a very spicy pepper jack cheese and a delicious, creamy Havarti. As we enjoyed our finds that evening with a selection of crackers and mustards, Mr. B turned to me and said, “you should fry this”. So I did. Ask and you shall receive, Mr. B.

This is how I did it:

Ingredients

 

 

I got out 3 small bowls. In the first, I put ½ c. all-purpose flour:

flour

 

In the second, I beat 2 eggs with 2 T. milk:

Egg and milk

 

In the third, I mixed ½ c. panko, 1 t. garlic salt, 1 t. parsley and a dash of pepper:

Panko

 

 

Then, I sliced my cheese (the Havarti is pictured here, about a half pound) into 1-inch squares, about ¼ inch thick:

sliced havarti

 

I melted ½ c. coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat:

melt oil

 

Once the oil was good and hot, I coated a chunk of cheese- first in the flour, then the egg mixture, then in the panko mixture- and fried it up:

dipping frycheese

 

I cooked each piece for just a few minutes, until golden-brown and crispy, then removed from the oil and let cool.

friedhavarti

 

I enjoyed both the fried pepper jack and the fried Havarti dipped in marinara sauce, but Mr. B got creative. His favorite was the fried Havarti with a dollop of apricot preserves on top:

Fried Havarti with apricot preserves

 

This can be done with just about any type of cheese, and you can adjust the spices in the panko accordingly. Get creative, and let me know what combinations you like!

 

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Infused Olive Oil

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You know those fancy dipping oils you see at the grocery store with all the pretty herbs and the not-so-pretty price tag? I love them. They are fabulous for dipping big chunks of bread in, but they are also wonderful to have on hand to cook with! I love drizzling them on pasta, using them in recipes instead of plain ol’ olive oil, or topping homemade bread dough with some before popping it in the oven. Luckily, you don’t have to spend an absurd amount of money on them, some are easily whipped up in just a few minutes with ingredients that you’ve probably got in your pantry.

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The herb/spice options and combinations are endless, but I always make two to keep on hand – rosemary with sea salt and red pepper with a hint of garlic. Here’s how I do it:

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(For the red pepper) in a small fry pan or saucepan, combine:

  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. crushed red pepper 
  • ⅛ tsp garlic salt

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Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, taking care not to burn the pepper flakes. You’ll know it’s done when you can smell the red pepper. Let cool then transfer to a storage container. I use cruets that I got for a steal at a flea market; they look so cute hanging out on the counter next to my stove.

 

For the rosemary and sea salt oil, I follow the same processes using:

  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. rosemary (I use my fingers to crush it a bit before I add it to the oil)
  • ½ T. course sea salt

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See? So easy!

Enjoy!


Almond Glazed Mini-Muffins with Raspberry Filling

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Almond Glazed Mini-Muffins with Raspberry Filling

These tasty little muffins are easy to make and go great with a fresh cup of coffee. And because they are so tiny, they are a perfect little mid-day sweet treat.

For the muffins you will need:

  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ c. milk
  • ⅓ c coconut oil, melted
  • 2¼ c flour
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 3 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • raspberry preserves

For the glaze you will need:

  • ¾ c powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ T milk
  • ¼ t almond extract
  • ¼ t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°.  Beat the eggs and milk, then stir in coconut oil. If coconut oil begins to harden, just set your mixing bowl in a larger bowl of hot water for a few minutes until coconut oil liquefies again. Add remaining ingredients and mix until flour is just moistened. Your batter should be slightly lumpy. I don’t even break out the blender for this; I just stir it for a few moments with a spatula.

A little lumpy, but all mixed in.

A little lumpy, but all mixed in.

Spoon batter into greased mini-muffin cups so that each cup is just under half-full.

 

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Spoon a tiny dollop of raspberry preserves into the center of each cup. I use a baby spoon for this, it is the perfect size.

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Cover raspberry dollop with batter, so that each cup is roughly three-quarters full.

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Bake 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Remove from muffin pan and let cool.

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While muffins are cooling, mix all glaze ingredients in a small bowl.

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Drizzle with glaze and enjoy!

2013-03-15 15.25.58Makes 24-30 mini-muffins.

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe.


Oh, Happy Day!

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Living where we do is very, very inconvenient. Yes, it has it’s perks and I am glad I live here, but it’s kind of a huge pain in the ass. Take today for example. Joey is a little porker who loves to eat, so today I had to go to Tractor Supply to get him more food. The nearest Tractor Supply is about a half hour away. Not exactly popping down the road for a quick errand, so I put it off until I had other errands to run while I was in town. Luckily for Joey, I also had to make a bank deposit before he ran out of food completely. Yep. I drove a half hour each way to deposit some cash and get a bag of dog food. Even if he didn’t eat the special brand that I buy at Tractor Supply, I still would have driven that far because that is also where the nearest Walmart is. Like I said, in-freakin-convenient.

To reward myself for not letting the puppy go hungry and to make myself feel better about driving all that way for dog food, I stopped by the Wine & Spirits store to treat myself to a bottle of wine. (Here in PA we have to buy wine and liquor from state-run stores, we can’t just grab a bottle of booze at the grocery store or gas station. Stupid laws.) Even though it is one of the teeniest liquor stores I’ve ever been in, it is the closest, being located in the same plaza as Tractor Supply. So handy.

I walk into the Wine & Spirits to find that not one but two of my favorite wines are on sale. And not like marked-down-by-50-cents on sale. Like, three-bucks-off on sale (both of them!), which combines two of my favorite things: wine and a good bargain. Oh, happy day!

Two of my favorites: Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio, and Fetzer Gewurztraminer. Tasty and affordable. And bonus: on sale!

Two of my favorites: Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio, and Fetzer Gewurztraminer. Tasty and affordable. And bonus: on sale!

 

Suddenly, the day was looking a little brighter. Spending over an hour in the car in crappy weather when I could be home getting other stuff done was no longer totally awful, because I was going to have a well-stocked wine cooler when I got home. Added bonus: they will both be on sale until the end of the month. It’s the little things. Cheers!