Monday, April 22, 2013

Creamy Avo-Fredo Sauce

Not to brag or anything, but I just made the best pasta sauce EVER.

It was so good that when Eric wasn't looking, I licked my bowl. And spoon. And food processor.

It all started when I had one lonely avocado ripening quickly in my fruit/vegetable/candy basket. Of course I couldn't let this thing go to waste, and I didn't have the rest of the ingredients for guacamole, so I looked around the kitchen, threw a few things in the food processor, and came up with this delightfully light, but sinfully delicious...
Creamy Avo-Fredo Sauce!! 

I served my sauce over some whole-grain rotini noodles, but any pasta would work! I would give the whole-grain noodles a try though, especially with this sauce. It makes a yummy combination! 

Here's a picture of the pasta I used, in case you want to be a complete copy-cat: 

Now for the good stuff...

Creamy Avo-Fredo Sauce
Servings: 2

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup half and half (I used fat free!)
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic (or 1 medium clove of fresh garlic) 
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice (or the juice of half of a lemon) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

  • Scoop out all the meat from the avocado and place in food processor. Put the rest of the ingredients in, and process until smooth. 
  • Resist the urge to eat it directly from the food processor. 
  • Serve over your pasta of choice, sprinkle with parmesan if you'd like, and enjoy! 

**I served the sauce over freshly cooked noodles that were still warm, so it warmed up the sauce a tad. You can heat up the sauce if you'd like, but I think it's awesome just straight out of the food processor. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sweet Clementine Chicken

Who loves her slow cooker?

Meeeee!! Hopefully you do too, because yesterday while my boyfriend was busy being sick and lazy, I created a new slow cooker recipe...

Sweet Clementine Chicken! 

Eric and I love clementines so much that we buy a whole box and pretend like we can eat them all before they go bad. Most of the time we actually succeed. Clementines for breakfast, clementines for afternoon snack, clementines (and Nutella) for dessert...that's how we roll.

Yesterday I thought - Why not clementines for dinner? With chicken? In the slow cooker?

Feel free to use oranges instead of clementines - also I bet adding some zest would be fantastic. Unfortunately, my cheese grater didn't work too well as a zester on these clementines.


  • 3-4 chicken breasts or 6-8 chicken breast tenderloins (I used frozen chicken because it's the bomb.)
  • 1 cup honey
  • juice of 3 clementines
  • 21/2 Tablespoons soy sauce (I used low-sodium.)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (Use more if you'd like it spicy!) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 head of broccoli (or more) - chopped into florets
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Combine honey, clementine juice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Test to see if you're OK with it's sweetness, spiciness, etc. 
  2. Spray bottom of slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place chicken in slow cooker. 
  3. Pour sauce over chicken. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top, if interested. I was interested. 
  4. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 7-8. If you're using frozen chicken, you MUST cook on high. I checked my chicken after about 21/2 hours on high and it was done, but I'm pretty sure my slow cooker is freakishly fast. 
  5. Once your chicken is done cooking, reach in there with 2 forks to shred or cut the chicken into bite-size chunks. Then, add broccoli and cook on low for about 20-30 minutes. Just enough time to make some coconut rice! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Sukyaki! (Sue-key-ah-key-exclamationpoint)

Or as my brother used to say - "Sukyucky." I was always the better child.

When I was young, my favorite chef was Mom and my favorite meal was Sukyaki. Not much has changed, except that unfortunately, I'm the chef in my household, so I must make the Sukyaki. Tonight while making said Sukyaki, I made an exciting change! I switched out icky green peppers for broccoli! I asked Eric if I should now call it Beef and Broccoli. He said, "No. Sukyaki is too much fun to say." I agree.

So, with my mother's permission, here's how it's done...


  • 1 lb Top Sirloin - cut into strips OR if you're too lazy(guilty!) to cut it into strips, buy some beef stir-fry instead.
  • 1/2 small onion - cut into strips
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (or less if you must)
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 head of broccoli crowns (or kick it old school and use a small green pepper cut into strips)

   1. Brown meat in oil over medium heat. 

Mmmmm....bubbly oil.

    2. Add onion slices and broccoli crowns. Stir around and cook until tender (about 4-5 minutes).

     3. Add sugar, soy sauce, and dissolved cubes/water mixture. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for about 15 minutes. 

     4. Serve over rice (I used brown) and enjoy! 

Now, you be the judge. Is it Sukyaki or Sukyucky? :) 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Slow Cookin' Sunday

I have a major crush on my slow cooker. In turn, Eric has a huge crush on me because of the yumminess that comes out of said slow cooker. I feel like anything I throw into my slow cooker comes out tasting INCREDIBLE. Also, so many times I don’t have the exact ingredients that a recipe calls for, or maybe I don’t have the right amount, but somehow, it always works out. Magic!

This weekend has been one of the best weekends ever. Friday night E and I decided to have a relaxing night in. Well, it wasn’t too relaxing since we were absolutely FREEZING in the living room. You see, ever since we decided to go anti-heat this winter, the living room is the coldest room in our apartment. The bedroom is the warmest. So at about 7:30, we decided to stay there for the rest of the night with all of the blankets we could find and pop in The Dark Knight. The only problem was – how were we to properly eat snacks in bed? That’s when we decided we need to buy this:

The MALM Occasional Table from IKEA! It comes with wheels so you can keep it at the foot of the bed, and roll it up when you need something to set your laptop, book, breakfast in bed, movie snacks, etc. on.

On Saturday, my lovely parents came to Charlottesville to do lunch and of course go to the UVA vs. Boston College basketball game. I looooove my Hoos! We are impressively good this year, especially with a team full of freshmen. It makes me excited for the years to come! Eric got really good tickets from his work and UVA won, so it was a great game. 
Yeeaaahhh Joooeeeeyyy!!
(to be screamed at least once at every game)
Justin Anderson is super fun to watch.

Picture credit goes to Matt Riley

Also, when Dad wasn’t looking, Mom slipped me a $20. Wooohoooo!! With our newly found riches, Eric and I decided to do dinner and a movie!

Like many other Charlottesville residents, E and I are obsessed with Marco and Luca’s. It’s amazing how yummy something so simple and cheap can be! I usually get a double order of dumplings, BUT since I’m trying to be healthier, I stuck with a single order. Eric got dumplings and sesame noodles, and we each got a bottle of water. Guess what our total was? Only $12! I love delicious bargains.

We’re not done yet – we came across another great deal. Since we missed Skyfall in the regular theater, we were stoked to see that it was now showing at Carmike, home of the best popcorn. Get this: We got 2 tickets, a medium popcorn, and 2 medium drinks for $12.25.

So now you see, with all our basketball-watching, money-saving, movie-watching madness this weekend, we needed a lazy, slow-cookin’ Sunday!

I present to you: Slow Cooking Mac and Cheese

I actually got this recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff and made just a few changes! It was so creamy, delicious, and filling. Eric even asked if he could bring some leftovers for lunch tomorrow! Usually I’m the one forcing leftovers on him. This mac and cheese was THAT good.

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions: Boil the elbow macaroni in lightly salted water until al dente, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in both cheeses and stir until melted. Spray slow cooker ( I used 6 qt.) with non-stick cooking spray. Combine cheese mixture (it’s OK if it’s a glommy mess of solidified cheese and butter), soup, sour cream, milk, dry mustard, salt, and pepper in prepared slow-cooker. Stir in the drained macaroni. Cook on low for 2 hours, stirring after about 1 hour, and then again when there are about 30 minutes left.

Serve and enjoy! We enjoyed it so much that I totally forgot to take pictures of the finished product in the slow cooker. I do however have a picture of Eric’s precious leftovers!

Yummm….so creamy! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Easy and Versatile Wreath

First of all, let me say that I’m a little embarrassed to be writing this post.

Why? Because some of you bloggers and Pinterest freaks (by the way – follow me!)  out there are super duper crafty and will laugh at my creations. 

BUT, I don’t even care. Maybe, just MAYBE, this post will help someone who is a little craft-challenged like myself.

So, if you’re laughing at this, you’re welcome.

If you’re inspired to make your own versatile wreath, you’re welcomer.

How it all started…

One fall day, after a few glasses of wine, my BFF Whitney and I decided to be cute little wifeys/girlfriends and make wreaths for our house/apartment. She’s the wife in the house, I’m the girlfriend in the apartment….but hey, I’m not jealous of her awesome life or anything.

I must have had on monster heels! 

I was using this burlap wreath tutorial as a guide, but I quickly turned into a grumpster-dumpster when my wreath was looking NOTHING like the tutorial. So, I ditched my metal wreath form for a simple Styrofoam wreath form. Then, I simply wrapped the burlap around the wreath, bunching it up and pinning it as I went. 

The wonderful thing about a burlap wreath is that it’s SUPPOSED to look not-perfect, so I succeeded! Also, you can stick straight pins right into the Styrofoam wreath. How fun is that?

(There would be a picture of my plain burlap wreath here, but I didn’t take one. Blame the wine.)

Now came the time to decorate! I got all of my fall decorations at JoAnn Fabric. Then, I learned my lesson and got cheaper winter/Valentine decorations at the Dollar Tree, Kmart, and Pier 1. WAY cheaper, but still cute!

Part of me really wanted an excuse to use the hot glue gun, BUT at the last minute I had a thought – If I continue to use pins for the decorations, I could use this wreath for the REST OF MY LIFE. So, I highly recommend pinning on your decorations for easy removal. Remember, you’re smart and using a Styrofoam wreath form, so it’s easy to stick in pins!

My Christmas bows and snowflake ornament came from Kmart. I first made the wreath without the “Welcome” sign, but then I missed it, so I pinned it back on. Now, it’s there to stay.

I just recently updated my wreath for Valentine’s Day. I got my cute hearts from Pier 1. Also, while I was there, I picked up an owl ornament for my Christmas wreath NEXT year. It was only 54 cents. Original price = $5.95. Winning!

The Valentine’s Day wreath could probably look a little bit better….but like I said, I’m craft-challenged. Deal with it. Feel free to brag and show me YOUR Valentine’s Day wreaths so I can get some ideas for next year!

I’m looking forward to decorating for spring. Tulips? Birds? Bunnies? What do you think? 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jenny Flake - Let's Be Friends!

You don’t know who Jenny Flake is? You silly goose. Follow her blog, Picky Palate, and thank me later.  

If you love her blog, buy her cookbook, also named Picky Palate. Then, tell me what you’ve cooked, and I’ll tell you what I’ve cooked, and we can be BFF!!!!!

So, I know you’re supposed to eat all of your chicken and veggies before digging into dessert (thanks Mom and Dad), BUT today dessert is first. Why? Because recently I’ve made 2 extremely delicious recipes from the aforementioned cookbook, Picky Palate. By the way, don’t let the title fool you. I DEFINITELY do not have a Picky Palate – I love trying new foods and usually end up liking whatever I try! (thanks Mom and Dad)

Please excuse me for not posting the recipes here, but if I did, I’m pretty sure Jenny Flake wouldn’t want to be my friend. I will include some drool-worthy pictures though!

First up: Blueberry-White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I was super stoked to get my very own Raspberry Ice KitchenAid Mixer for Christmas. I cried many happy tears. Thanks Eric! A few days later, I received THE cookbook (thanks Mom and Dad) and knew right away I had to find a cookie recipe to make!

These cookies are absurdly delicious. So soft and gooey and oatmealy and white-chocolaty, and you can kinda eat ‘em for breakfast because they have fruit and oatmeal….right? Right. Everyone who tasted them loooooved them!

Next we have: Soft Double-Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These remind me so much of my mom’s delicious chocolate-sour cream cupcakes. You might ask why I don’t just use her recipe to make her cupcakes. WELL, I would tell you that I tried that, for my dad’s birthday one year, and we weren't able to eat them. Well, we would have been able to eat drink them if we would have had straws. Yeah, they were bad. Now, I will admit that I was probably about 12 years old when I made liquid cupcakes, so I should be brave enough to   try her recipe again, but I’m not.

These cupcakes do have THE secret ingredient – sour cream. If you’re like “Ewww, gross…sour cream in a cupcake? No thanks.” Think again. You want your cupcakes to be moist right? That’s what sour cream does. Mmmmmm sour cream….

I also highly recommend adding this fun baking gadget to your collection. It makes icing cupcakes super easy.

So easy, a caveman Eric could do it! He loves helping. I love him. J

The Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator comes with all sorts of pointy attachment things. I think one of them even lets you inject stuff! Mmmm…stuff-injected doughnuts.

Next, I promise to share some non-dessert recipes from Picky Palate, because they are also amazing. Until then, buy her cookbook! You won’t be disappointed. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Best Words Ever Heard

"You were right and I was wrong." ~Abby - January 15th 2013

Ain't No Rice Like the Coconut Rice

I just got two new cookbooks delivered to my door! Woop woop! I of course skimmed through these cookbooks at Barnes and Noble, but then bought them on Amazon and used E’s free two-day shipping! That’s the way to do it. Since you’re dying to know, I got Hungry Girl to the Max and Cooking with Trader Joe’s – Lighten Up! You can expect to hear more about these books in the near future!

Speaking of Trader Joe’s, who else is a fan? It’s such a fun, cheerful place to be, especially when you have 3-Buck Chuck, cookie butter, and guacamole hummus in your cart. Now, THAT is a good time. Also, their prices are FANTASTIC!! One of my favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s is their light coconut milk. I can buy a can for 99 cents instead of paying $2.39 or more at the other grocery stores around here. Eric and I can eat some coconut rice, that’s fo sho.

Speaking of coconut rice, look at that yummy plate of goodness I made the other night. Apricot chicken, roasted veggies, and coconut rice topped with lima beans. This is probably one of my favorite meals becaauuuseee…(Did I already warn you about my obsession with lists?)

  1. I was able to have everything ready at the same time. This is mostly thanks to my lovely slow cooker. Slow cookers are the way to go. I keep a bag of frozen chicken tenderloins in my freezer for slow-cookin’ magic. The apricot chicken recipe I used comes from SixSisters’ Stuff. Check ‘em out! The best thing about slow cooking is that every single recipe I’ve tried in the slow cooker comes out tasting incredible. Soups explode with flavor, chicken is you-don’t-even-need-a-knife tender, and leftovers are much appreciated.
  2. Coconut rice makes Eric a very happy man. When he comes home from work and smells coconut rice, he dances around the apartment, giggling like a child.  It pretty much makes my day.
  3. Have you tried roasting vegetables? It’s currently my favorite way to prepare them. You can use any combination of veggies, but with this particular meal I combined broccoli, onion, and baby carrots. Here’s how to roast ‘em like a champ:
·         Place all chopped up veggies in a large Ziploc bag.
·         Pour about a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the bag and zip it up.
·         Shake, rattle, and roll the bag around until all your veggies are nicely coated in oil.
·         Pour contents of bag onto a baking sheet. You can cover the sheet first with some parchment paper if you’d like.
·         Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and garlic salt. OR get creative and try some other seasonings – parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, oregano, ginger – whatever you’d like! I’m sure it won’t taste too awful.
·         Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes. 

Next time you are scrambling for a side to your main dish, opt for some roasted vegetables instead of french fries or mashed potatoes. Trust me, they’re just as delicious, if not more deliciouser. Also, use the term “more deliciouser” in a sentence this week.  Do it. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Girlfriend

Did anyone else read that Eric is going to start cooking??

Reasons why this scares me:

  1. 1.     One time I asked him to make (by make, I mean pour hot chocolate packet into mug and add milk/water) me hot chocolate in the microwave and he was not capable.
  2. 2.     I saw him looking at a “recipe” for fish tacos. It involved canned tuna, flour tortillas, and the microwave.

We shall see…maybe he will surprise me! Surprise me….should that be reason #3?


Time for my introduction. I’m the girlfriend – Abby. I’m lucky enough to live here in Charlottesville with Eric and our precious pup, Charlie. Charlie has many nicknames, and I talk about him a lot, but I’m sure you can keep up. He’s a Cavachon/old man/baby. He’s also SPOILED, but hilarious. Hopefully you’ll laugh at his shenanigans as much as Eric and I do. Well except for that one time he got drunk off of red wine and stumbled around the apartment, diarrhea-ing everywhere. That was not funny.

My Loves <3

In MY blog posts, you can expect to find pictures of Charlie, yummy recipes I’ve either created or found via Pinterest or via my ridiculously large collection of cookbooks. I’ll probably include some cool things about us, some cool things about Charlottesville, some reasons to laugh at Eric, and some things/ideas that are important to me. I probably WON’T include all of my awesome invention ideas, because you will steal them. I mean….Ice-Pack Lingerie. I know, right? Genius. Don’t steal it. But DO send me some ideas of clever brand names for Ice-Pack Lingerie. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Introductions From The XY Side

Welcome to our new blog! 

Since you're here reading, I might as well tell you what this blog is going to be about. Mainly food. Some fun around the Charlottesville, VA area. Maybe some other stuff... That's just about the gist of it. It'll be a "fly by the seat of our pants" ordeal, I'm sure. 

I'm +Eric. I live here in Charlottesville with my amazing and beautiful girlfriend, +Abby. I'm an Android Developer at WillowTree Apps, and love food, technology, reading, and music. I also spent 6 years in the US Air Force as an F-15E Crew Chief, before getting out to pursue real life. Just for full disclosure: I'm a huge geek. Not one of those "oh it's cool to be a geek, so I'll play along" geeks. I'm an actual geek. And a geek about many things. Mobile Devices, Military Aircraft, Home Theatre, Software Development, Movies, and various other topics that I'm sure will pop up from time to time. 

We also have a dog. His name is Charlie, or as I like to call him, "Sir Charles of Barkingham". Abby will likely talk more about him, since that's kind of her thing. He definitely thinks he owns the joint though. Here's a picture:

The most important part of the start of this blog is that it marks the beginning of a year of healthier eating and living. I mean... who doesn't want to be healthier? Abby is definitely the chef of the duo, but I may just try my hand at some Gourmet Mac n Cheese. And by "Gourmet" I mean I'm going to do more than take it out of the package and microwave it. Maybe, just maybe, I might actually become a cook after this.

Stay tuned for Abby to chime in with her introduction.