Posts made in April, 2012

april foodie penpals

2

Posted on Apr 30, 2012 in Food

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you had a fantastic weekend.

It’s time again to share the loot that I scored through the Foodie Penpal program this month. Not sure what it means to be a Foodie Penpal? Well, basically, we are a group of food-loving bloggers and readers that get together and exchange food-filled care packages once a month. I absolutely love giving and receiving foodie gifts. I highly recommend joining if you love food and love getting stuff in the mail (who doesn’t?).

This month, I got a rockin’ package from Cheryl over at Live Fit Daily. She hooked me up with a boatload of goodies from New Hampshire! I stoked to find out that New Hampshire is famous for their maple syrup production and Cheryl made sure to include some maple-y treats for me and the syrup-sucking Babyface. Plus some delicious kettle corn that supposedly the best in New Hampshire (I believe it!). She also included the MOST DELICIOUS NO BAKES EVER ON THE PLANET. Seriously, these were life-changing.

And being truly awesome, Cheryl also clued into my love for sparkly nail polish and hooked me up with the beautiful, glitter-y pink color. Which is currently on my toes as I type this. Good work, Cheryl. Good. Work.

Thank you so much for my package, Cheryl! And a big thank you to Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean for being the supremo maestro of this whole mega swap party every month. Unfortunately, this will be my last Foodie Penpal swap for a while because we’re really trying to tighten our budget, but I highly recommend it to everyone! I can’t wait to get back into the swap once moving costs have settled down a bit.

Curious what I sent? Head on over to The Little Spoon Blog to check out the gluten-free goodies I shipped out to Katie.

who says you can’t go home?

29

Posted on Apr 27, 2012 in Lifestyle

Wondering why I’ve been pinning an insane amount of home decor stuff on my Pinterest lately?

Or maybe why I freaked the hell out when a tornado came close to my parents’ house?

Well, it’s because it isn’t my parents‘ house anymore. It’s our house. That’s right, my friends, Babyface and I have grown up, signed a million pieces of paper and become homeowners. And not just any house, we bought my childhood home from my parents in Southern Indiana. It’s an incredible house built on 10 acres of rolling hills. We are thrilled!

Honestly, this is probably the worst kept secret on the planet because it has been in the works for years. When my parents built the house and shaped the property over 20 years ago, they did it with the thought that it’d stay in the family. For the longest time, it didn’t seem like me or any of my siblings were in the right place to take over the Broken Plow (the name of the “estate”). But a few years ago, Babyface and I sat down and talked it through. It would require us moving away from our beloved Bloomington, but in the end, we decided the benefits of owning the place I considered “home” outweighed our love for B-town. We told my parents we were ready and the wheels started turning. We closed on the property in January (interest rates were so great, we went ahead and locked in). And my parents have been “renting” from us while they build their retirement cottage on an adjacent lot.

I’ll spare you from all the details, but honestly, it’s all been bit clandestine. It’s crazy how easily it has all fallen into place. The only hitch so far was that blasted tornado. The ink was barely dry on our mortgage when it hit. Babyface has been trapped in homeowner’s insurance hell for the past month as we work to get the roof, skylights, and gutters all replaced on the house and the roof replaced on the barn. Let’s ignore the fact that two of our dwellings got hit by tornadoes less than a year apart. And that we’ve had to do our first insurance claim on a house we don’t even live in. Oh well, at least we got a new roof out of it, right?

I bet you’re wondering about a few of the details aren’t you? Well, we’ll be moving in June, after my parents’ have finished building their new house and have moved. Both Craig and I will keep our jobs in Bloomington (it’s about a 75 minute drive). Obviously, commuting that much isn’t ideal, but we seem to have figured out a way to make it work. My employer has been really amazing and has granted me permission to work a combination of in-the-office and telecommuting. And Babyface’s schedule is so flexible, that he’ll only work the days I work in-the-office, so we can commute together.

As far as the actual property? Gosh, it’s amazing. A big house. Lots of bedrooms. A basement (which is necessary considering our history with tornadoes). A beautiful fish pond. A barn. A garden. A lake. A swingset built by my grandfather. An orchard. Hidden in the woods (hence the pictures of the house, you can’t see it from the road).

So there you have it. We’re moving! Yay! We’ll miss Bloomington—a ton—but moving back home to Kentuckiana definitely feels like the right choice for us.

confessions…

34

Posted on Apr 26, 2012 in Lifestyle

1. Every evening, I sit down with my Google Calendar and plan out the next day, to the minute. I even plan out how long I can “relax”. It’s sad, really.

2. I only really have two pairs of pants that I wear. One is a pair of black skinny jeans and the other is a pair of denim trousers. I have a ton of skirts and dresses, but it’s constantly about 20° in my office, so pants it is!

3. I really don’t like taking showers. I avoid them for as long as I can. They are just so much damn work. The only thing that’ll motivate me to take a shower? A hard workout. Showers feel awesome after a good sweat session. If it wasn’t for workouts, I’d be tempted to only shower on a monthly basis. Gross, right?

4. I have a new, much lower, grocery budget and I’m terrified of it. We  I really needed to rein in the food spending and May is going to be our first challenge. Even with buying all-organic, natural and local foods and being a food blogger, there is no reason two people should need to spend $800 a month on groceries. I wish I was making that number up.

5. I have a secret. Come back tomorrow.

Want more confessions? You can view all of my confessions posts here.

Do you have any confessions to share?

neapolitan porter float

12

Posted on Apr 25, 2012 in Food

Hi, friends! Babyface had a rockin’ idea for a dessert drink a few weeks ago and asked if I’d share it with you guys whenever he made it. I told him I’d even do him one even better—he could write his own post about it! So here’s Babyface to tell you guys all about his stroke of boozy genius (it was seriously yummy, kids). Feel free to heckle him about his need to gratuitously stick the letter u into a lot of words. It’s a Canadian thing. Take it away fantastic husband of mine…

I don’t normally find myself coming up with great ideas to put out into the blogging world. It’s just not something that my brain tends to focus on. To be quite honest, I’m not sure what I’m thinking about most of the time, but something is definitely going on up there, because I wake up with these wretched headaches and the events from the previous day are a complete blur and… wait.

That’s not from thinking at all!

Quick, word game: what liquid substance rhymes with cheer and invokes said emotion when you drink it?

If you answered deer, you were wrong. Slurpees made from venison are not on the menu, nor should they ever be.

What is on the menu is the thought that I managed to wrangle the other day. It came to me like a flash of lightning, as it were. Neapolitan beer floats. Chocolate ice cream. Vanilla Porter. Strawberry Whipped Cream.

Boom, goes the dynamite.

It was a recipe so unbelievably brilliant that I had to build a bridge that took it from an idea to a reality. I’m sure there are others out there like it, but since I’m awesome, mine automatically = the best.

Let me just say this first: this recipe is in no way, shape or form low-calorie. You could make substitutions here and there and make it a little lighter, but the idea with this one was to make something as delicious as I possibly could.

So, green means go!


A few years ago, the beautiful and I were browsing the selection of beer in the “beer cave” at our local liquor store and being that she is a designer and I am a photographer, we were, of course, choosing beer based solely on how pretty it looked. The brewery that we chose on that fateful day was Breckinridge Brewery, based out of Breckinridge, Colorado, and gee whiz am I glad we judged that book by its cover. Ever since then we’ve loved every beer of theirs that we’ve tasted. So much so that we checked with the state to see if we could legally adopt it as our child. They said no and so we settled for a trip to Denver to visit one of their pubs, instead.

As much as we love every one of their beers, there’s the one Breckinridge brew that stands atop the podium as champion; our favourite child, if you will.  Every single one we drink just gets better and better because it’s rich and creamy and dark and it’s like beer and dessert and more beer all together in a pretty little package. A pretty little package called the Breckingridge Vanilla Porter.

If you are a beer drinker and you’ve never had one of these, do yourself a favour and go out and find one. The six-pack that I picked up for this recipe was actually in our local Kroger, so in the past few years, the availability has definitely widened and hopefully those of you interested in this recipe can find it!

If you’re not a beer drinker, I have a feeling that you’d still really dig this recipe, because while the porter is the most important ingredient (in my opinion, anyways) the chocolate ice cream and the strawberry whipped cream aren’t very far behind, and are probably the two things that just made your mouth start to water.

Well, first of all, control yourself before you ruin your keyboard, and second of all, begin to realize that you’re going to make a ridiculously delicious float.

The most time-consuming part of this recipe is the whipped cream because you’re going to make it from scratch. The rest of it is akin to making your regular ol’, run of the mill float.

Neapolitan Porter Float

by Craig Johnston

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: None

Makes: 2 floats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Half bottle Breckenridge Vanilla Porter (or other dark beer)
  • Two scoops chocolate ice cream

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring berries, sugar and water to boil and continue to stir until berries break down and thicken into syrup. Remove from heat and push through a fine strainer into a bowl. Stick syrup in freezer to cool down.
  2. Meanwhile, pour whipping cream into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add powdered sugar and mix on low until just blended.
  3. Turn mixer on high and add cooled syrup (save a little to drizzle on top at the end). Make sure to scrape the sides so all of the syrup is invited to the whipped cream party, and do so until light and fluffy, as whipped cream should be.
  4. Find an empty glass (a classic style beer mug would be best, bonus points if it’s a stein) and add two generous scoops of chocolate ice cream.
  5. Pop the cap off of the vanilla porter and slowly submerge the chocolate ice cream in it until it’s about half an inch from the rim of the glass.
  6. Scoop whipped cream on top of current float ingredients.
  7. Drizzle with remaining syrup. Find a straw, plunge it in the float and be happy.
  8. There should be enough whipped cream and another half bottle of beer to make two of these to share with someone special. In the event that person happens to be you, just find a bigger glass and go to town!
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Hi! It’s me again. Cass, here.

Right after you indulge in this amazing boozy treat, take some of that cheer of yours and use it to get in the Sweat for the Cure Raffle. Today is the LAST DAY to buy tickets. We’re still about $245 behind what my sister needs to be able to walk with us. I would love nothing more than for us to hit that mark today. This is me, on my knees, begging. PLEEEEEASSEEE. Go join in the fun!

gyro nachos

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Posted on Apr 24, 2012 in Food

There is this really amazing little Middle Eastern restaurant that is so close to where I work, I can see it from my office window. Their lunch menu is full of delicious classics like falafel sandwiches, gyros and kebabs. We hit it up a few weeks back, and I was immediately drawn to the specials board where something called “Pita-chos” were listed for $7.99. Pita? Nachos? What the what!? I jumped all over that and ended up getting this amazing plate set before me a few minutes later.

The iPhone photo doesn’t do them justice. They were awesome. Crunchy pita chips topped with gyro meat, tzatiki and all the standard gyro toppings. I knew from the first bite this was something I just had to recreate at home.

Like most American homes, my kitchen does not include gyro meat machine/spindle/cooker thingy (technical term). And beyond the lack of necessary equipment, I wanted my version of these nachos to be a little less heavy on the lamb. As you can tell in the pic from the restaurant, the gyro meat was the star of the dish, but I much prefer meat to play a supporting role. So in place of the mountain of gyro meatliciousness, I sprinkled on some Greek-flavored ground lamb. With less meat, I could focus on upping the beautiful, brightly-colored veggies, which I think make the dish!

This recipe makes a lot of nachos. It could easily serve four people for a fun, finger-food dinner or serve a small army as appetizers. Or, you know, serve two, very hungry Johnstons who stuff themselves sick. This recipe makes two plates the size of the one in the photos. I think these would make an awesome twist on the standard nachos for your next Stanley Cup playoffs viewing party. For example.

I think I might actually like these better than regular nachos. I feel like I’m cheating on Mexican food by saying that, but, damn, these ‘chos be rockin’.

Gyro Nachos

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon Cavender’s Greek Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 whole wheat pitas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 batch Ten Minute Tzatziki
  • Favorite gyro toppings (chopped cucumber, chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta, sliced black olives, chopped parsley, diced red onion)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. In a large skillet, brown ground lamb with Cavender’s and oregano over medium low heat until cooked through. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Pull apart the two sides of each pita (so they are only “one ply”) and using a pizza cutter, slice each into eight triangles. Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until crispy and brown.
  4. To assemble nachos, layer pita chips on a plate, top with lamb, tzatziki and favorite toppings.
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What’s your go-to lunch spot?