Normal Soup

I told you we’d get to some food here–soup to be exact.  So, nothing celebratory or exciting but it is January and I don’t know about you, but the adjectives ‘celebratory’ or ‘exciting’ aren’t the immediate afterthoughts to the word ‘January’.  This soup is a good freezable, heart-defrosting, winter hug.  It’s even vegetarian, and could be gluten-free if you substituted the pasta for quinoa or some gluten-free pasta.  It’s the ultimate ‘normal-people’ soup.  No weird ingredients, no need to go to Whole Foods!  Actually on second thought, I really can’t call this all that normal because it’s borderline hippie.  Like soup made by hippie peasants of Pittsburgh?..(anything with kale can’t really grow that far from the the rainbow)  Regardless—It’s still one of those things you can freeze half of and magically have dinner on the table when you need food and don’t feel like risking you life using your car to sled to the nearest Giant Eagle or Trader Joe’s….

Chickpea Kale Soup
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1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3oz of tomato paste (I used 1/2 a 6oz can) I think that’s about 3 Tablespoons? eh. just use enough to make it red without infecting it with chunks of tomatoes.

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

3 Tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary (I use this because I had a bunch of fresh rosemary to use, you could totally use dried (1 Tablespoon) but you can’t really skip this ingredient because it’s a big deal in here.

2 (15oz) cans drained/rinsed chickpeas

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 bunch of curly kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup small pasta (I used whole wheat orzo)

Saute the onion and red pepper flakes and about 1/4 teaspoon pepper and a pinch of salt on medium-high  in your dutch oven/soup pot, whatever you’ve got there that you make soup in. Do this for about 5 min, till the onions are golden then add the garlic and saute another minute or 2.  Then stir in the tomato paste and chickpeas.  Add 4 cups broth (I use those broth cartons, they are 1 quart each so just throw in 1 of those now) the oregano, basil, rosemary and smoked paprika.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30min.  Then take it off the heat, and use an immersion blender to blend/smash up those chickpeas.  Or just put some of the soup (about half, we aren’t making hummus soup just smashing enough chickpeas to give this soup some texture).  Transfer the blended mixture to the soup again (if you used an outside-of-pot blender) add the rest of the broth (or just a second quart carton) the kale and bring to a boil.  Then simmer forever.  Really as long as you can, at least 1 hour.  The more you cook this thing the better it gets!  If you are in a big rush you don’t have to simmer it for an hour even but it will be quite tasty if you do.  At the end of whatever your simmer-time is add the tiny pasta and cook for another 10 min.

You’re done!

**Here is what I did because I had all day to do it but I don’t expect you to have all the live-long-day**:  I boiled the kale down for about 20 min then transferred the soup to my slow-cooker and cooked it in there for 4 hours on high.  At the 3.5 hour mark I added the tiny pasta to cook in.

Is anyone else looking forward to some spring/summer happenings?  I’m not usually a summer chickie but lately I’ve been really itching to a little get-away or to go to a concert or play music or SOMETHING out of the ordinary.  Any of yinz know of some fun musical things coming through in the next couple of months?  So far I am aware of the following that might be a blast:

Kurt Vile (@ Mr. Small’s on Feb. 22)

Dr. Dog (@ Stage AE on March 16)

The Avett Brothers (@ Stage AE on May 12)

Oh well, we’ve got time to figure this out.

We’re still eating normal soup because it’s January.

And can I just show you some visual updates from Christmas-through last night when I taped a bunch of pictures to our fridge in a hurricane of emotions, then garnished it with a plush heart??
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One more pic of the tasty hippie peasant soup.

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Nothing like a little Domico Family Christmas Hazing for the new guy!  I love him.  He was a wonderful toilet paper snowman ❤

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Loving this picture of my mom holding her new cornbag of warmth and good feels!  I didn’t know how dark and cold my life (and feet) were before owning a cornbag.  Thank goodness for nurse buddies who know what you need! 🙂

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The tree! the tree! And a screen of glow

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Happiest Perfect Fluff of Love.

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Coffee on the perch!!  Probably my favorite things about going to the homeland.  Early rainy coffee on the porch with my parental unit and sweet man 🙂

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Alright sweetcakes.  Time to nap for the bebbies tonight.  Goodnight/Happy TGIF to those celebrating.  To those I’ll see tonight: Get ready.

There will be we-work-weekends-pity-brownies!

The Cure For Paper Cuts

So I had this long beautiful post-NCLEX post all typed up for ya just in the final stages of filtering out the excessively wacky brain leakage and then yesterday happened. Yesterday was a huge brick in the face and ended with 3 therapeutic measures,

1.  burning stuff

2. sugar

3.  grandpa’s old cough syrup.

…all combined unapologetically.

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Before I share this antidote for the paper cuts of life, I want you to interpret this sign:

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You are probably a smart cookie and perhaps can translate this to me.  I wish you were in the baby subaru with me when I parked in the most fateful zone and came back to a subaru-less spot just 1.5 hours later.  Let it be known that it is the worst time of the year to need to drive your vehicle anywhere within the downtown state college area (ArtsFest=FartsFest.  Used to like it but now I hope it drowns in parking tickets).  After forgoing more than 2 other parking spaces that I believed were risky zones to park in, I chose this spot, practically a state away from where I had to be so looking back I might as well have simply parked perpendicular to the road in the middle of Beaver Ave and it would’ve cost exactly the same amount.  You may be looking at these 4 bass-awkwards signs and see exactly what the powers that be see but I am a lowly civilian who saw this as a “park here for 2 hours, but after that=towed”.  Turns out that red arrow did not mean the tow zone was in the yard (which I figured was a silly sign to make anyway because most people probable know not to park in people’s front yards, but maybe that had been an issue here?….whatever.  I park.) Came back.  No Car.

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After calling all 3 towing companies in the state college area, full of motherly anger and rage at whoever was the evil-doer that kidnapped my angel of a car against her will, I was informed the baby subaru was out in Timbuktu awaiting pickup with a hefty $115 kidnapping charge AND an extra smack in the nose from the local police in the form of a ticket (slowly pouring salt water over the mother of all paper cuts).  The towing guy was the nicest person all day so I couldn’t be mad at him, “oh, ma’am…you do look upset…”-Friendly Tow Man (I decided he was my ally and the real enemy was the State College Borough).  After picking up my angel car and feeling like the worst car-parent ever I went back to the war-zone of downtown to (in my mind) wreak justice upon the horrible government and their ability to park wherever they @#%$ well please.  (Sorry, the last time I cursed as much as I did yesterday was junior year of nursing school). That visit went just as realistically as you’d think, they don’t really give two cares about fresh penniless nurses trying desperately to follow the parking laws.  As I seethed in the corner of the parking department, paying my ticket with smoldering eyebrows, I silently wished the biggest IV needles and un-lubricated catheters upon their future hospital stays.  (WOAH, that is mean.  Sorry I’m not sorry yet.) End story:  If I ever have money to burn (never will this happen) I will use it to park wherever I want in the most obscene places all over State College, PA.  I will continue to do so until my penalty fees are funding 90% of the local government, to which then I shall immediately stop parking like a nut leading them to a financial car crash.  (yes I understand that also would never happen but let me pretend).

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Well, yesterday just wasn’t my day.  But this year has been at least an A- so win some, lose some.   SO. It’s been a little while since an update and a lot of things have been in the works…in a nutshell:

I’M A BONAFIDE HONEST-TO-FLIPPIN’-GOODNESS REGISTERED NURSE.

Can I get an “R-N”???!! (pronounced like “AMEN!”) 

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So yes, there’s that, and there’s also way more detail and story where that came from, which I will tell you in a future post.  Anyways, I’m Registered and I want those parking villains to KNOW IT.  Not that it would help my futile cause at all but I will say that walking into the Mordor The Parking Office I had a little extra sass in my off-balance step because all I could think of while stomping up the cement steps (refraining from a very tasteless gesture I was a little too tempted to make at all security persons in view) was “Do they KNOW who I AM?!?!….I’m A NURSE.”   …“I’m a limo driver!” …. Kind of wish I’d been in some real scrubs-y attire with my stethoscope of righteousness around my neck for this encounter.

Guys, sometimes I’m a butthead.  But you knew that.  I wasn’t a butthead to the people in real life, just a very clearly frustrated, smelly, sweaty, tired 22-year-old lady who…just can’t.

Let’s get back to how I enticed you here.  And that would be this:

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Whiskey-Kissed Salted Caramel Sauce (barely adapted from this blog. Essentially the exact same recipe but with a little salty action)

1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream (room temperature)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 Tablespoons whiskey of choice (or whatever was on sale)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

**follow directions on this blog, just use these measurements (too lazy to type). Anyways, this is a cure if I ever did have one.  Administer in large quantities PRN till relieved.  Happy Thursday!

 

The Breeze

I don’t know how your natural ceiling looked like monday night but I was mezmerized during my 7:00 walk back to my apartment from the hospital by the most brilliant sunset.  It’s colors were so distinct and deep! There are plenty of beautiful softly-colored sunsets that have a nice hazy look to them but this one looked almost liquid.  Directly over my head was actual navy-colored night sky speckled with some winking stars, and far off in the distance the navy was slit and leaking orange, yellow and rose.  I have to hand it to Hershey here, they have pretty choice sunsets.

Queue The National.

This evening I thought we’d share some fall things (like every other blog on the blogosphere now!) But it’s fun. So we will do it anyway!

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First we have the soundtrack:

You’re probably sick of hearing me talk about him but Gregory Alan Isakov is still the guy for this time of year. Can’t get away, so here are some more of the same stuff I threw at you a few weeks ago:

Amsterdam–Gregory Alan Isakov

Autumn Fallin’–Jaymay

When I Walked Into the House–Future Historians (can’t find a youtube for this but definitely check it out on spotify or something!)

Wonder Why–Vetiver

Superman–Lazlo Bane

Sweater Weather–The Neighbourhood

Empire Waist–Halloween, Alaska

The Breeze–Dr. Dog

Ghost–Folly and the Hunter

Annabelle–Gillian Welch

And Food

White Bean and Chicken Chili–another Giada gem here.  After trying this recipe once I knew it was a freezer need, so now another batch is waiting in the ice chamber for the week where I shut down and forget how to cook.  A+ you should definitely try this.  From the What-It’s-Worth Dept. I used turkey instead of chicken and in the second batch I used kidney beans instead of white beans.  Sky didn’t fall, and it’s still delicious.

Apple Dumplings–this is my Grandpa’s recipe for them and nothing beats the cinnamon/sugar seeping into the tiny crevices between the apple slices.   It is crucial to the deliciousness of this recipe that you use one of those apple spin-slicer gadgets.  Ask the wisest kitchen wizards you know, they probably have one.

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread--This is the keystone pumpkin bread recipe in my family, my mom discovered it in a Cooking Light magazine several years ago and it’s been golden ever since.  Sometimes I use whole wheat flour with the white flour (such as 2 cups whole wheat, 1 cup white or whatever you feel like).  I’ve used applesauce instead of oil (if you care to try that short of thing) in this and it actually didn’t taste different, which is nice because then you can eat the whole thing right?

Olivia’s Pumpkin Bread–this recipe is from my friend Olivia (didn’t see that coming did ya?!) who made this bread last week and therefore had her apartment and extended apartment (the people who just show up whenever they please just to drink their wine in her kitchen while one of her roommates may or may not be obliviously showering and unaware of the crazy neighbor who bypassed the locked front door….we’re very comfortable here.) all show up for several nights and mornings just to eat ourselves into blissful pumpkin coma.

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 (15oz) cans pumpkin

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Mix all the dry ingredients, set aside, then mix the pumpkin, oil, vanilla, and eggs together.  Add this to the dry mixture and stir just till combined.  Pour in 2 greased loaf pans and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

Movies:

‘Blue Like Jazz’ (yes I’m sure the book is great too and I would like to read it someday, but definitely give this movie a shot regardless if you’ve read the book or not!) this is a good one to watch alone, but I’m sure it’s certainly enjoyable with others too.

Ruby Sparks-it’s a good night-in movie to watch with your buddies, it’s a nice combo of light-hearted, a bit fantastical but the themes are pretty relatable and interesting to talk about.

Lord of the Rings–all these movies are choice cold-night-in movies and sometimes you just need something epic, ya know? I crave an epic story/film the way I crave sugar.  Yes, I must hang my head low and admit I’ve never actually read the books (i’m not a true LOTR fan..Sorry). But doesn’t take my enjoyment away from watching a good story on film.  Sometimes we just have to see a good guy win against crazy impossible odds.  Ah, now I all I want to do is re-enact the battle of Helm’s Deep with a blanket fort.

Actually that’s not true, what I really want to do is practice creeping up on my roommates and rasp-ily whispering “they stole it from us!! We make’s them crawl.” Until they tell me I’m to remain in my room until I can act like a human.  Sometimes we just need a little time-out to remember we do not live in a mythical land and are not possessed by an evil ring.  Like once a week.

“Umm, You Have Pudding In Your Hair”

That’s what sweetest-sister-Claire lovingly pointed out to me as we both absorbed some instant pistachio pudding yesterday’s rainy afternoon. Ugh! Why do I like this stuff??  What is with me that  I’m attracted to aspartame-flavored synthetic bright green gelatinous mass?  Yumm. Green goo. Let’s eat it!  Well, there are some pistachio flecks for decoration.  Now it’s in my hair?!? What A Slob. Ew Ew EW.  Rebecca, you might as well throw on some sweats and go back to Downton Abbey re-runs.  Once there’s pudding in your hair you’ve lost the game.

New Slang–The Shins

On Trees and Birds and Fire–I Am Oak

Turns out it wasn’t the pudding, it was frosting from a cake I’d just made.  So that probably means hairs in the cake too.  Good thing it’s being test-fed to the familia 😉

Anyways, after possibly freaking you out with the last post I felt it was only right to offer some sweet recompense for wading through the crazy.  Every once in a while I do think you can take some honesty, and maybe in turn be honest with yourself and the things you struggle with.  Anyways, thanks for sticking around! You’re a gem.

So now I’ve got you jonesing for some greenish instant pudding, right?

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I used to LOVE pistachio pudding, it was the go-to pudding of growing up besides butterscotch and my dad’s favorite.

“Does this taste…different to you?” –Sister Claire

Hmm, YES. Something is amiss. where’s the party gone?

Suddenly I really look at what I’m eating–a neon swamp.

Not ready to let go of childhood love for said swamp, I needed to save our relationship. Stuck it in cake, worked like a charm.

Pistachio Brownies (lightly adapted from Girl Meets Life, cake batter blondies)

1 box white cake mix

1 box instant pistachio pudding mix

1/4 cup canola oil

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

frosting and chopped pistachios–optional, but the tasters agreed it was a preferred variation.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, egg, and milk in a bowl and stir till combined and the batter is smooth.  Pour into a lined/greased 8×8 baking dish and bake for 20 min.  Let sit in the pan for at least 10 min to cool.  When the blondies are completely cool frost them with choice frosting and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. (can you understand how lazy I was with this recipe?? I totally Sanda Lee-d it with all my pre-made stuff and preservatives!)

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If you like green+artificial+whimsy+LooksClassierThanItIs+PistachioLoversAnonymous then you will like these and we will eat them together in front of the Haters.  **Nobody actually hated these, in fact they got impressive reviews from friends who are either afraid to tell me the truth or they actually liked them! 🙂 Good deal, they’re a keeper. 

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Steel-Cut Oats With Some Netflix

It’s Tuesday, want a cookie?

My grandma was always right on the cookie train, and I recall very few times growing up when we would be in her kitchen and the cookie tin wasn’t full of oatmeal walnut (sometimes chocolate chips too!) cookies.  Yes please ma’am.  Pass me that jar and a small water tower of coffee and the day is gone.

Before I loose you to sugar fixation here are some fun things/links/tunes I’ve enjoyed as of late and perhaps you will too!

After the new season of Arrested Development aired I succumbed to actually paying the $7 a month for a netflix account instead of continuing to bum off friends accounts.  This was entirely guilt-driven and not out of goodwill and financial honesty.  Now I enjoy endless supply of dinosaur documentaries, so the $7 is worth it.  The other day I watched this film: Sleepwalk With Me  by this comedian, Mike Birbiglia.  I liked the film because it was a tad bid dark and realistic-seeming while still carrying his comedy routine.  None of the characters are all that likable, but you can really sympathize with most of them.

Stuck–Canopy Climbers

State/Meant–Megafaun

Today I’m sharing a cousin of the oatmeal cookies. (frankly nowhere near as great as my grandma’s cookies but still a pretty darn good one!)
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Steel-Cut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup stone cut oats

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)

1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

1/2 cup olive oil

2 eggs

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips (but if you’re baking with me it’s 1 cup)

*this dough was a little too wet towards the end so I added about 3 tablespoons more white flour, so if your dough seems a bit loose have extra flour on hand.  ***update 7/1/13* A talented baking co-worker informed me that adding plain old flour to a wet dough isn’t going to help because it’s just extra gluten that’s going to turn your cookie into a brick.  Solution: grind up some oatmeal in a coffee grinder (or if you already have oat flour on hand) add a few tablespoons of that because it will balance out the dough without making it a brick because oats are a gluten free grain.

Combine flours, oats, steel cut oats, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, cloves, almonds and salt in a bowl and set aside.  In another medium-large sized bowl beat (on high speed or till your arms are numb) together the olive oil, sugar and eggs for 2 minutes, then add the vanilla and almond extracts.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet, folding in just till combined then fold in the chocolate chips.  Refrigerate dough for an hour.  (I hate it when recipes require refrigeration, so I’m telling you this is optional, you don’t HAVE to do it.  BUT if you feel like you have the endurance to wait a bit longer for a chewier, more solid cookie then you should chill it for at least 30 minutes.  In fact, chill it for however long it takes you to go on a quick run because I’m telling you, your best running times will be the ones when you know you’re running home to cookies.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drop cookies onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Blueberry Peach Crumble Bars + It’s Friday!

Happy Friday Darling-Face!

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Mom signed us up for that blueberry fundraiser again (*joy*) and now we have 2 large shoeboxes of those little gems sitting in the kitchen.

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SO we are baking!

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With some Friday Tunes of course:

Junebug–Robert Francis

Middle Of June–Noah Gunderson

Rich/Poor–Trampled By Turtles

Possession–Humans

Blueberry Peach Crumb Bars

(Or Sprite Bars?) adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe)

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups flour

1 cup cold butter, (cubed)

1 egg (or 2 tablespoons water mixed with 1 tabelspoon cornstarch, this is what I used and it worked just fine)

2 teaspoons vanilla (I was planning on using almond extract here but we were out so vanilla turned out swell too, let me know if you try the almond version!)

1/4 teaspoon salt

zest and juice of 1 lime (hence how these things taste a little sprite-ish)

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

3 medium peaches, peeled and sliced thinly. (you must boil peaches for a minute or two then run them under cold water to loosen the skin and then use a paring knife to clean them off.  You may have already been aware of this, you’re so smart! I was behind the game on peach-peeling.)

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl combine the 1 cup of sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Then cut in the butter till the mixture is very fine and crumbly.  Add the egg (or water+cornstarch) and vanilla (mix those two together before adding it to the flour mixture)  to the flour and mix till the dough is still crumbly but able to be molded.  Press 2/3 of the crumble into a greased 9×13 pan and set it in the fridge with the rest of the crumble to wait while you make the filling.  To make the filling: combine the berries, peaches, lime zest, juice, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in another bowl and mix till fully incorporated.  Spread the berry+peach filling over the first layer of pressed crumble then sprinkle the remaining crumble evenly over the top.  Bake at 375 for 50 minutes (till golden).  Share!

And now, more obligatory glamour shots:

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Go sit on your porch and hope it doesn’t flood again! Have a lovely weekend, all the best.

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hope your weekend was well-spent, because Monday is dawning upon us and I don’t know about you, but I want some sugar to help me forget what day it is till wednesday (at least).  Here ya go!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Condensed Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies, by Butter Baking Blog)

2/3 cup unsalted softened butter

1/3 cup sugar (Butter Baking called for superfine sugar but I used regular and it was all good)

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (the big kind that you find in the granola bin section!)

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your baking sheets.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt then set it aside.  Beat together the butter and sugar for 2-3 min (make it fluffy!) then add in the condensed milk and beat in another minute.  Add in flour mixture just till combined then stir in coconut and chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoon (or baseball-sized) onto lined baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes till slightly golden. Cool on the rack and enjoy!

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