2.12.2014

A pause. To think, to gather, to regroup.

Hi friends,

I have decided to take a major pause in blogging for awhile. Instead of doing something and thinking "Oh! This would be good to share" I'm starting to search my brain with what to do in order to share. Which is totally backwards. Lent is coming up, and I feel like this year is a good year for me to actually work on something meaningful. Something that will bring me closer to my God and my faith. And while thinking about all those things, the blog kept popping up in the back of my mind as something that I would have to tend to. Something I was not looking forward to doing. I thought about giving it up for lent, and realized that a) I didn't want to use lent to ease my life. b) the fact that I kept going back to it meant that it had lost the joy.

I don't think this is a goodbye. I'm hoping that during this time I will feel freed to work on some new projects without pressure, to cook without thinking of how well it will photograph, and to just be. I'll still be around on the twitter and the instagram of course. So feel free to keep up with me!

I hope to see y'all after Easter!

L

2.04.2014

Black Beans from Scratch



Okay everyone, I know it's a stretch, but can we make cooking dry beans popular? I've posted about them a few times before. I've made kidney beans and black beans for tamales but these are by far the best beans I've made yet. They are sweet, a tad spicy, and delicious in so many different dishes! We made quesadillas, tacos, and bean dip with just the one batch.


Black Beans
2c dry black beans
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped small
1/4c mango, chopped small
2 dried chipotle peppers, whole (don't chop these!)
1tsp chili powder
juice of one lime
1/2tsp cumin
carton of chicken stock (at least 4 cups)
1/4c dark brown sugar or molasses

1. Heat olive oil at med/med-hi in large stockpot, and add chopped onions, mango, and whole dried chipotles
2. Once onions and mango have cooked down (about 5 minutes) add other spices
3. Rinse dry beans, to get rid of any dust or stones (I know, stones?! What the what? But I've actually never found any, myself) and add to the onion-spice mix
4. add chicken stock, making sure the beans are completely covered
5. Cover pot with lid, and simmer about 4-5 hours, making sure to check the liquid level every 30 minutes
6. As liquid gets low, add water to bring it back up to covering the beans
7. Check beans after 4 hours, if they are still kinda crunchy add more liquid
8. When beans seem mostly done, pull out the chipotle peppers (they should be floating at the top) and add the brown sugar or molasses
9. Enjoy! Or keep in the fridge or about a week or in the freezer for a month (can be reheated in the microwave)


I found that the beans were so flavorful that they were a delish addition to burritos and quesadillas! For the bean dip I added about 1/2 of sour cream to 11/2c of black beans and blended it with a stick blender. Success! And awesome with tortilla chips.


Hooray! I hope you try your hand at dry beans! They are cheap and can turn out wonderful!

L

1.31.2014

InstaFriday!

Happy Friday everyone! This week has been crazy town! I've been home the last four days because my county cancelled all schools for, ready?, FOUR snow days in a row! I've been having a blast cooking and crafting and having fun. Hooray!


I got the fitbit recently, and last Friday T and I even went to the gym on a Friday! It's way more motivating that I thought it would be, which is good for me!


I think that Friday night pizza might become a new tradition. I can see it becoming a hit.


Our first snow day we went to the gym first thing in the morning. It was full of teachers! Ha, probably the first time any of us had been able to go in the morning in all of 2014. How could I tell it was teachers? Well, conversation for one (the dreaded talk about the pay scale), and then lot's of people were wearing their coaching Ts or shirts with school logos. I met one guy who busted both his knees while teaching wood shop! (he must have recognized my own knee physical therapy stuff, ha)


This past Tuesday I dubbed Taco Tuesday. I made some scrumptious black beans (from plain ole dry beans, recipe coming on Monday!) and added mexican rice and some yummy cheese. I think they were the best beans I've made, yet! We even had some in quesadillas, and I saved more in the freezer for bean dip on Sunday! 


The whole rest of the week has been this. Lots and lots of sewing. I'm trying to bust through some scrap piles I've had hanging around, I can't wait to share the finished project! 

I hope everyone had a safe and warm week! I know that I've been drinking chai tea like no ones business. In fact, today might be the first day since Tuesday that I venture out of the house for something besides the gym! I can't complain though, I've loved having some unscheduled relaxation time. 

Happy Friday!

L

linking up with LaurenElizabeth and LifeRearranged


care to follow me in real time? I'm on insta and twitter, with my new and improved handle! @thelaurenhuber

1.30.2014

Homemade Calzone


I am so proud of this, you guys. You see, when we get to the end of the month, making meals out of what we have left, is my favorite. Ok, not really my favorite favorite. That would be homemade margaritas with delicious ribs that have been outside on the grill slowly cooking for hours. But when it comes to freezing temps and end of the budget and not having to leave the house for any ingredients? This is it.


And it was super easy. Half of my favorite pizza dough. Splash of sauce. Dollops of ricotta. Shake of parm. And then a brush with butter at the end. It couldn't be easier.


It was so easy, in fact, that the hardest part was just waiting for it to cook and then cook. Torturous.


I'm not even sure if listing the "ingredients is necessary... but here you go

Calzone (those are the ones with sauce, right? Stromboli's have no sauce... I think)
1/2 pizza dough recipe
1/3c pizza/spaghetti/red sauce
1/2c ricotta
Tbs parmesan
1Tbs butter

1. Start your dough and set it aside to rise (1 hour)
2. Once dough is risen, preheat oven to 375F
3. Take dough out of bowl, and gently stretch it on your pan. Don't worry about it being perfectly round or anything, it should be pretty flexible.
4. Add your "toppings" to half of the dough, leaving about an inch along the edge clear for crimping later. (We only used ricotta and sauce. But mozzarella would be relish. Or pepperoni! Anything that doesn't have a ton of water in it would be good. Pineapple or whole fresh tomatoes might make the dough a little soggy, for example)
5. Fold the empty half over the top of the topping-ed half. Stretch, carefully, to fit. Crimp at edges.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, brushing melted butter over the top in the last five minus of cooking, until golden. If needed, raise heat to 400F to brown the outside nicely at the end (about 5 mins)



Dig in!

L

1.28.2014

Pineapple Coconut Smoothie



Okay, I know what you're thinking. Smoothie? In the winter?! Yes. Did I drink coffee and then jump in a hot shower right afterwards? Also yes. And I don't regret a thing. I made this as a post workout smoothie (It's a snow day out here in NC, which means gym in the morning and casual breakfast delights, what a treat!) but you could easily sub in your favorite spirits, too. Don't dig milk? It would probably be even better with dairy free coconut milk - genius!

Pineapple coconut smoothie
(recipe is for one. I used the magic bullet to blend it. You could easily double, triple, etc. )
1/2c frozen pineapple
1Tbs shredded coconut (I used sweetened)
1/4 scoop vanilla protein powder (super optional. This was a post-workout breakfast for me)
1/4c milk (have a little extra on hand in case you need  to thin it out)

1. Throw everything in the bullet and blend!


I like my smoothies super thick, like eat them with a spoon thick. But the best part about smoothies is you can change them up on the fly! Want to add more milk? Go for it! Want it sweeter? Add some honey. Feeling frisky? Add some rum! The options are totally in your control here. And control feels great when the weather is being crazy, so show weather who's boss and scream "I don't care about snow! I want a smoothie!". Then close your eyes and pretend you're at the beach.


L

1.27.2014

7 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Ok you guys, I'm gonna be serious with you for just a sec. You see, I'm a warm weather girl. I love shorts and tanks and pools and sun. Lot's and lot's of sun. And once Christmas is over and I've made it to work in sub 40 for over a week, I start to get a bit down. It always feels silly to think about it once the winter has passed, sort of like retelling a bad dream that is nonsensical. But when winter is here, I know it's real. The cold months can be hard on some people, I am one of them, and I know I'm not the only one. So this year I've decided to take some real action against these winter blues, want to join?

My top 7 recommendations to beat the winter blues until Spring arrives;

1. Get some exercise


I know, I know, everyone is all about the exercise this time of year. But honestly, it's as good of a time as any! Especially since winter usually means less time outdoors and less "active" time in general. I splurged and got myself a fitbit. Have you heard of it? It tracks movement and syncs everything up to the app on your phone. Sweet technology of the future!

2. Make stuff


 Crafts, food, something! Try making something that you've never made before. For me, creating always helps to bring my spirit up. Need some ideas in the kitchen? How about finally trying to make those biscuits from scratch? Or maybe homemade pizza, filling your whole kitchen with the smells of fresh bread and melted cheese. Yummmm.

3. Send stuff


Do you remember being little, and loving getting mail? I had a handful of pen pals in different cities, because we moved a lot. Here's the awesome thing, getting mail is still fun! There's something about seeing a nice envelope with handwriting on it (first sign it's not a bill!). So bust out that old stationary, bonus points if it's liza frank, and send some good old fashioned mail. You'll feel great knowing you're sending a little happy. And hey, you might get something back in return!

4. Get some sun


This one is the hardest in the winter! All I want to do is stay inside, and drink cocoa, and stay as far away from the cold as possible. But, I will say, bundling up and heading outside for a brisk walk does usually help to bring my spirits up. Of course, my cold maxes out around 20 degrees. Those of you up north in the negatives? Just make sure you're super bundled.

5. Spend time with friends and family


Celebrate, laugh, play, enjoy. Commit to hosting people or having a friend over just to hang out. All of these things can help to raise the spirits.

6. Go to church


I'll tell you what, having a community, that literally celebrates seeing your face once a week, is pretty awesome. Socializing with people that you don't see on a daily basis but who are still unconditionally welcoming, is better still. And most of all, knowing that everyone is there to celebrate the larger purpose, the bigger plan, and a shared goal? An excellent feeling to renew the spirit. Haven't been in awhile? Now's an excellent time to start up again. Not sure where to start? Try asking friends. You might be pleasantly surprised with how many people are genuinely excited to share their experience with you.

7. Make Plans


All of the above are easy for anyone to talk about. The saying, easier said than done, comes to mind. So make plans, write in your planner with pen, schedule your time. When the winter blues hit hard, it's easy for your brain to convince itself that you'd rather do nothing. So stay a step ahead, make yourself accountable to do things this winter. The best part? Spring is coming. I promise.

L

Linking up with Molly today!

still being [molly]

1.17.2014

InstaFriday

I love Fridays because they give you a chance to look back and realize what a week you've had! Whether it was stressful, relaxing, chaotic, or dreamy, this is the perfect time to look back and say "Ah! Well there's that!". 

 1. Pizza Night

 2. Sister's birthday. She's getting way to old for me!

 3. New glasses. New earrings. Trying out some new stuffs in 2014.

4. Peeling myself out from under the covers to make muffins. Worth it. 

5. That, my friends, is a full moon. And that, my friends, explains so much about the crazy that was this week!

I also love linking up with other bloggers on Fridays. What a fun way to meet new people and see new things! (And maybe even find your new insta-pen-pal-soul-mate who inspires you and takes pictures of cool stuff). Care to follow along? I'm lconnell10

I've linked up with LaurenElizabeth and LifeRearranged.

Happy Friday!

L

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