“Veggie” Mac n Cheese

Another food adventure has ensued tonight. One that left my kitchen a mess but my tastebuds happy.

I’m all for trying to revamp classic recipes and trying new things. Today I added VEGETABLES to mac n’ cheese. But as you can see from the picture (my breadcrumb topping skills are still in need of work) there is no greenery. So where are the veggies? Well, they’re in the cheese sauce.

I found this recipe on pinterest via pinch of yum.

I followed it, mostly, but added some hot sauce, crumbled some bacon, threw in some garlic, and used different cheese. Also, my hand mixer didn’t get it as smooth as the recipe calls for (I don’t have a blender) but it got the job done for the time being. Having three pots on the stove (an electric stove mind you. Which I hate) with limited counter space seemed to be there greater challenge, however.

Aside from that, the sauce came together quite nicely. Pro tip: add to a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. It really made the cheese “cheesy” for lack of a better word.

So due to the lack of blender the consistency is a little like almost whipped mashed potatoes but the flavor is spot on. If I didn’t know there was butternut squash in here I would never have guessed.

I’d make this again, with the appropriate kitchen appliances, and maybe add something else to it next time. I’ve done buffalo chicken mac n cheese and I bet it could work with this as well.

And, I mean, I don’t have kids yet but when I do have them this is a sneaky way to get in some vegetables (maybe my mom should have used this when I was a kid). I guess it’s another check in the new recipe column!



Breakfast, party of four

When I wake up most mornings I make coffee, some toast,  and then I’m on my merry way. I tend to forget that breakfast is a meal that most people share together. I haven’t eaten breakfast with someone besides my email in months.

That track record was broken when I went home this weekend. While we didn’t do the whole pancakes and bacon spread, I did have another person to drink my coffee and eat a bagel (god I miss those) with.

I think we live in a day and age where we’re constantly on the go and the former becomes the norm. We share more meals with our computers than we tend to with people. For me personally, I tend to remedy this at lunch or dinner, but breakfast is a challenge.

I don’t know why but even in the context of dating, I feel like going to breakfast is more exciting than going to lunch or dinner. Maybe it’s because I consider coffee a necessity and if I’m allowing someone to see me before it, well, they must be special.

And is there anything better than waking up and having the coffee already made for you? And then someone makes breakfast for you? (because food always tastes better when someone makes it for you) I have to give my parents credit for that one. I walked downstairs Friday morning and the coffee was perking and after saying good morning my Dad asks, “What would you like for breakfast?”

Going home really is the best. And so is sharing breakfast with someone besides my laptop.


Throwing things together, or as some people call it, cooking

Let me start by saying that I love to cook. My friends would say I’m a great cook, but I would say I’m still learning.

Take tonight for instance.

I’ve come to notice that once you have to fend for yourself, you fall into the same patterns. Chicken, steamed broccoli, rice, repeat (at least when your pinched for time between working the days you’re not taking classes).

So tonight I decided to mix up my typical broccoli. I added the usually array of spices (salt, pepper, garlic, oregano) and then threw in some new ones (paprika, beau monde, and herb du province). And I had a sweet potato so why not throw that in the mix as well! Toss it with some olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic to finish it off.

Voila! Toasty roasted goodness

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And it’s delicious.

So while that was roasting I decided to try something completely new: savory cabbage pancakes (or asian latkes as I’m going to call them).

I used the recipe linked above as a base and of course tweaked it because I didn’t have everything necessary but I had to use the cabbage before it went bad.

So after splashing oil everywhere, I successfully made a handful of latkes. And for my first time they were pretty good. Technically they weren’t perfect (it was a tad goopy in the middle), but cooking is a learning experience isn’t it?

I’ve had friends say that sometimes they get nervous about cooking, in regard to it not tasting good, not coming out the right way, or not knowing what to do.

Hey everyone starts somewhere. And everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Take me for example, I can make lasagna but when it comes to making anything egg wise (save scrambled) I’m at a total loss (sometimes I can’t even make scrambled eggs).

And I still burn things, under bake things (as evidence of this evening), and sometimes it just tastes terrible.

But that doesn’t deter me from making (well, trying to make) something completely new and out of my comfort zone. Some cooking isn’t an exact science either. Aside from temperatures and bake times, I usually just throw things together and hope it tastes good.

So you can take this as me rambling on a Monday night or find it as an inspiration to cook something new, or to start cooking in general.

Bon appetit!


When your grandparents are the GOAT

Moving into a new place always has its trials and tribulations as I’m sure many of you know.

For the last week and half I have been riding solo (while my roommate is killing it with the NFL), trying to figure out how to essentially, “run a household.”

Mostly I’ve had a handle on things, others not so much. But who would have thought that my grandparents in Long Island, NY, would be the ones to walk me through everything. Via PHONE CALL. They don’t even know what they’re looking at, what model it is, or what condition it is in.

Yet somehow they have been able to explain almost everything that so far as been “not up to par.” And let me tell you, they know what they’re talking about.

Weather it’s plugging burners in on the stove, setting up a TV, or dealing with my A/C unit, every step they have told me has resulted in success.

See, this is what Google and (most) customer service lines lack. The knowledge of knowing how to do things before there were resources like those. As great as the two former can be (some of the time), Google isn’t able to decipher what the “hook looking thing on the burner is” and why it won’t “come unclicked.” My grandfather, however, knew exactly what I was talking about. And sure enough my stove top is working.

I guess it’s like having  on-call handy men that you pay with phone calls and life updates.

My grandma was very adamant that if anything else is to go wrong (which it probably will), do not hesitate to call. She even gave me the hours that are better to call her and my grandpa. How cute is that?

They really are the best.

I think it’s also a way for them to feel like they’re here and able to help me from 1,000 or so miles away. And I wholeheartedly appreciate all of the help and advice they’ve given me in the last week (and in the last 22 years).

If this gets you to call your grandparents just because you need help putting something together, do it. It may turn into a call you haven’t had in a while and becomes a really nice memory. I only get to see my family a few times a year (the result of going to school so far away). Also, enjoy your grandparents, not everyone has them. And fewer are lucky enough to have a relationship (especially a positive one) with them.

So handyman Vic and handywoman Marcia, thanks for all of your help this week and more. I love you.


It’s been a while

It’s amazing what can happen in seven or so months, isn’t it?

I really did try to stay on top of this but between communications law, graduating college, enjoying my last true summer, and starting as a grad assistant, I was a little overwhelmed.

The last seven months have taught me some things and I’ve learned and done some things in the last seven days I never thought I would.

Let’s start with some of the smaller picture stuff.

I have really underestimated how resourceful someone can be when living on their own. If you would have told me a week ago that I would figure out how to reset my breaker and fix my stove, without my Dad’s help, I would have laughed.

That was one of the more beneficial things. I’ve also come to realize that you can’t fix stupid and it is nearly impossible to get a real person on the phone when calling a customer service line. That, and when you get a person on the phone (from the same company) they all tell you different things! Excuse me while I go cry because I’m so frustrated and no one seems to be able to help me.

Now I know why some people drink during the week.

But things tend to work themselves out (ever so slowly) and eventually you find that your eyelid has stopped twitching and you’re thinking that maybe nothing else terrible is going to happen in the next 24 hours (fingers crossed).

I guess all of those little things tend to make the big things seem even bigger.

One life lesson I learned the hard way is that sometimes there’s no explanation for people’s actions and there’s nothing you can do about it. Does it make you feel like the scum of the earth? Yes. Does it make you feel like everyone is against you and you must be a terrible person? Of course it does.

But then there are the people who make you realize what you have.

Friends you haven’t seen in seven or eight years who want to be in your company. Who will go to a concert with you or just take a drive to the beach in a cool car. Friends you drive over 20 hours in one weekend to be with because you missed each other that much. The people who offer you a place to sleep in case you can’t move in early and might be homeless for five days. The friends who through it all are a shoulder to lean on at 1 am when you partied just a little too hard.

Those are the people who make it okay that people leave our lives for whatever reasons they have.

And then there are those who have, at least for me, been there since day one, my family.

This was the first summer since I was 14 that I did absolutely nothing. I got a job, worked one shift, quit, and spent the summer bumming on the beach with my parents.

Let me tell you, it was great.

The reality is, I probably won’t ever have that much consecutive time with my family again for a really long time. So maybe most of my friends had really amazing internships, I have a pretty amazing family.

Now I don’t want to bore you with every detail of my life since I turned 22 but I think I gave a pretty good synopsis (for those of you besides my Mom who read this). Hopefully I can get better about this again.

So here’s to the start of my victory lap pt. 1 (aka graduate school)


I’m feelin’ (almost) 22

Somehow my 21st year is nearly at its end. 

I have to say it was a heck of a lot better than 20 (which I was mostly miserable for). 

21 has taught me a lot of things. 

It taught me that hangovers just get worse (unfortunately). 

It taught me that even if you haven’t seen someone in five years, when you meet again it’s as if no time has passed. 

It taught me that most first dates are terrible. And if the first one is bad the second one isn’t going to be much better. 

It taught me that doing things spur of the moment (like driving five hours to Nashville for a weekend) can provide you with some amazing memories. 

It taught me that I can’t always be the one giving in a relaxation shop. 

It taught me that people from your past can pop up unexpectedly after years of no communication. 

It taught me that hard work truely does pay off. 

It taught me that sometimes you have to grin and bare it even if you’re frustrated beyond belief. 

It taught me that no matter how old I get I will still call my mother at least six times a day. 

It taught me that the people you meet in college are there for you through it all. 

It taught me that going out for drinks doesn’t have to be an all night rager where you blackout (happy hour is a lot nicer to my head). 

It taught me some people changes and some never will. 

It taught me to continue to be that “annoying friend” (the one who always calls and tries to make plans even if they fall through some times). 

It has taught me that and so much more. 

So I started my last day of 21 with coffee in a BB-8 mug and Chick-til-A. I’d say I’m ending on a high note. 

It’s the Most Stressful time of the year

Yes, it’s that lovely time when Thanksgiving break is over and Christmas break has yet to start.

And what fills that lovely time? Projects, papers, and finals.

You know, for about 45 minutes yesterday I thought I had my life together. What a blissful 45 minutes it was. I was even able to close my eyes for 15 of them.

Then, of course, the world came crashing down. Cue running all over the place, hitting traffic, parking and hoping not to get a ticket, and having meetings that last way too long.

From there it has only gotten worse.

I didn’t sleep.

I woke up at 4 am panicking about everything I have to do.

It’s pouring (why didn’t I stay in bed?).

I have way too much to do in a short period of time.

The only bright spot is that my professor must have sensed the anxiety brewing on campus because he brought in coffee and donuts. Praise the lord for caffeine and sugar.

So even though I don’t have any finals, I may or may not spontaneously combust between now and next Tuesday. If I make it to my birthday next Friday (or back to New Jersey in general) will be nothing short of a miracle.

Now my professor wants to talk about the FUTURE and what our PLAN is. HA! Can I make it through the next week first please? That’s all I ask.

Send prayers and pizza for your girl.