Apr 222014
 

What a weekend! Busy busy busy.

It feels like I haven’t seen Michael in two weeks! We had a house guest for 5 days recently so I didn’t see much of him and then this past weekend he went up to Seattle to hang out with a friend and see a concert. My mom came down from Seattle (I wonder if her and Michael waved when they drove past each other I-5?) to help with some wedding stuff.

The biggest project was getting the invitations made. My friend Star, who is also officiating the ceremony, gets a discount at Kinko’s so we were going to take advantage of that to save some money. About a month ago Michael and I picked out our invitations, ordered the digital file, and I’ve been waiting (impatiently) to take it in and get them printed!

First things first, I got up a little earlier than usually to get my workout out of the way.  I lifted weights, worked with some kettlebells and then ran on the treadmill. After stretching a bit (my hips feel tight lately) I hurried home to get cleaned up.

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Then, my mom and I met Star at Papa Haydn’s for brunch. Turned out that brunch was only on Sundays, so what was brunch turned into lunch. But that was okay because the food there is great. My aunt also joined us, so it was just four ladies doing lunch! I got their seasonal salad which had goat cheese, granny smith apples and hazelnuts on it. I love this salad!

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Then I got their French Onion soup. Theirs is really good but not as good as Petite Provence, I think. My mom and Star both got the French Onion soup, too, and my aunt got the pasta and clams.

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I love French Onion soup! It was rich and hearty and very filling. I had an iced tea with my lunch and had planned on also getting coffee but I FORGOT. How did I forget to get coffee?!?! I sure felt it later in the afternoon when I couldn’t stop yawning. We did splurge and get dessert. Kinda have to at Papa Haydn’s!

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Star got a small bowl of pistachio ice cream and my mom and both got a macaron. I got the salted caramel one–wowza! It was so great! I’ve only had macarons a few times before. I loved the salty creamy sweetness of it.

After brunch we went to get the invitations made. Star’s discount saved us a ton of money but we had to wait to get the invitation. For some reason I thought they’d just print them up while we wait but it takes longer than that. They can fit 2 invitations to one sheet and 4 RSVP cards to one sheet, so they were printing them up and then cutting them for us. They should be ready in a few days!

After dropping the flashdrive off, my mom and I drove all over town for like five hours trying to find envelopes that will go with the invitations. We found the perfect ones for the RSVP cards but not the actually invitations. Either they were the wrong color, the wrong size or too flimsy. Who know it would be SO HARD to find envelopes. We went to like 5 stores and it was VERY frustrating and exhausting and not very fun. I was pretty much over it by the end of the day. In the end I found some on amazon (good grief) and ordered them. Will see if they work!

While we were out all day, dinner was cooking in the crockpot. I knew I wouldn’t be interested in cooking something after spending all day running around. I knew the easiest thing to just throw into a crockpot would be a black bean soup. I found a recipe on another blog for Black Bean and Rice soup and threw that together.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Calories per serving: 194 calories for 6 servings, 145 for 8 servings

From: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2006/12/black-bean-and-rice-soup-with-lime-and.html?m=1

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (15. oz. each) black beans with liquid
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth (or use vegetable stock for strictly vegetarian or vegan version)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (or more)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
  • 1 tsp. ground Ancho chile powder (I used Penzeys)
  • (could substitite regular chile powder)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Chipotle chile powder (I used Penzeys)
  • (could substitute finely chopped Chipotle chile in adobo from a can)
  • 1/4 cup white long-grain rice (not more!)
  • (I use Uncle Ben's Converted Rice for South Beach)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or more)

Instructions

  1. In small Crockpot, combine beans, tomatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, Ancho chile powder and Chipotle chile powder.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or 3-4 hours on high), until tomatoes are disintegrating and beans are starting to fall apart.
  3. When soup has reached the consistency you want, turn Crockpot to high if you were cooking on low. Add 1/4 cup rice and cook until rice is done, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add fresh lime juice and cilantro and cook 5 minutes more.
  5. Serve hot, with additional fresh lime pieces for each person to squeeze into soup and more cilantro if desired.
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I added some leftover chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that I’d frozen from a chicken tortilla soup I made a few months ago. I’m glad I froze the leftovers because the chiptole peppers and sauce added a really nice smoky flavor to the soup. I also added a handful of diced carrot to the crockpot. When I make this recipe again I’ll probably add more vegetables–maybe some celery and more onion. I goofed and added the rice at the beginning instead of at the end, so next time I will pay attention to that!

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Loved the soup! It was a little spicy, really flavorful and just delicious. I put a spoonful of sour cream on top, drizzled some lime juice over it, added green onion and dinner was served. I had some crescent roll dough so I baked those up and we had some tortilla chips with the soup. The soup was really low in calories.

After dinner we worked on some crafty things for the wedding. I’m using old corks as place card holders. So my mom and worked on cutting those and making them ready for the place cards. It was hard work! It took a few hours but we got them all done. I’m really grateful to all the friends (and even a blog reader!) who mailed me bags and boxes of corks they had saved!

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My mom also brought down a bunch of old photos for me to sort through to find some for the wedding/rehearsal dinner slideshow. She brought some very embarrassing and horrible photos, but there were a few gems in there, too. :) I think this one was when I was three months old:

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Aww the 80′s….This is one of me and my brother:

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We got a ton of stuff done but not everything we had hoped to accomplish. Next trip. :)

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Apr 022014
 

On Sunday night I met up with a friend for dinner because we had a lot of catching up to do! We met at Oaks Bottom Pub in Sellwood because they had a happy hour that ran until 6pm. Michael was out at a concert that night and it was nice to get out of the house and have some girl time. I’d spent most of Sunday cooking for the week and then watching episodes of West Wing on Netflix.

I’d been craving a BLT sandwich for a few weeks and decided to get that instead of something off the happy hour menu. It came out and it was a LOT bigger than I was expecting and it was also fried. But oh well, it was delicious. It had slices of avocado on it and melted cheese and that made it amazing. Glad I got the salad as the side!

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Erika got the sliders from the happy hour menu and an order of tots. Their tots are pretty good (and they also have something called “Totchos”–basically nachos made with tots). I had a few of her tots but the sandwich was so big I didn’t have much.

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Kind of a massive amount for happy hour! We both got a beer but stuck to just one. Partly because I’m trying to limit my liquid calories and also because I’m not a huge fan of their beer. I got the seasonal IPA and it was ok but not great so why waste my calories?

It was such a nice night and our happy hour excursion turned into a 3+ hour gab session. It was good to catch up; we’ve both had a lot of stuff going on lately. I suggested that when the weather is a little nicer she meet me somewhere to walk Bella. I’m always up for a walk! As long as it’s not raining. :)

I’d planned on prepping some dinner to go into the crockpot Monday morning but my dinner date Sunday went late. By the time I got home, I just wanted to cuddle with Bella and Fat Kitty in bed and read a book (Maya was under the bed, as per usual). So Monday night when I got home from work I decided to make a quickie soup for dinner.

I wish I was one of those “throw everything together in a pot and it tastes fantastic” kind of cook. I’m a recipe follower. I need actual measurements and instructions. I guess I’m just a really literal person when it comes to the kitchen. That being said, I did kind of “throw things together” on this one. Originally I wanted to make the Pasta Y Fagioli Soup “recipe” that Michael’s mom gave me a few months ago. We’d gone over there for dinner and she made this fantastic soup! But she’s a “throw everything together” kind of cook and this is what she gave me:

Pasta Y Fagioli Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 lb ground beef, browned
  • Diced onions, celery, carrots, garlic
  • 2 16 ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 can each: chicken, beef and vegetable broth
  • Seasoning: garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, pepper, Italian seasoning, Bay leaf
  • 1 15 ounce can kidney beans
  • 1 15 ounce can white beans
  • Fagioli pasta

Instructions

  1. Add everything into large pot and simmer.
  2. Serve.
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I thought, ok I can give this a try! I can WING IT (yeah right). Except I went to make the dinner and didn’t have any canned beans. I ALWAYS have canned beans. How am I out?!? Nothing but black beans and that kind of changed the whole recipe. So I made something similar to this recipe minus the beans, Also, the only pasta I had besides spaghetti was gluten-free fuselli. I honestly didn’t care that it wasn’t the right pasta. I’m not a stickler. Pasta is pasta to me.

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I browned half a pound of beef (it was left over and needed to be cooked) and halved the rest of the recipe. Minus the beans. I let it simmer for about 45 minutes on the stove. I cooked the pasta separately and then added it to the soup mixture about 10 minutes before it was going to be ready. I also baked some biscuits–you know, the kind that come in a tube? It’s been probably 8 years or so since I had them and was craving it so I got it. They were surprisingly low in calories. A serving was 3 biscuits for 160 calories. Not bad!

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With my throwing things together, I actually got 5 servings out of the dish and that made it 271 calories for 5 servings. If it was half of the original recipe at 4 servings it would be a little higher but still pretty low.

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Michael was a big fan of the soup. I was too. It was delicious and hearty. The kitchen smelled delightful! I would most definitely make this recipe again with one minor tweak — it needed more fluids! Since I was omitting the cans of beans (which the original recipes I consulted said to include the liquid in the beans) there was less fluid. I think I’d add some beef broth or maybe some water.

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Despite not being “soupy” it was still delicious and I loved the flavors. And the biscuit. :)

What’s your favorite soup?

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