Author Archives: lifeofadabbler

About lifeofadabbler

I am a recent alum of George Washington University with a BA in Sociology. I love to bake, organize and craft. I love to dance and do yoga and pilates (if only I could afford them...). I like things that are a little messy (but not dirty!) because I think it adds character. Oh yeah, I also hate onions.

What I have been reading…

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So, it is obvious that I am terrible at blogging (as was evidenced by the fact that I had a pending comment from March when I logged into my account today). BUT, I am going to try to get back into doing this however I can.

One idea that I have is to post interesting articles/books/etc. that I have read in the last week. This should be beneficial in a few ways: it will keep me posting regularly, it will keep me reading regularly and it will lead to me sharing fun stuff with anyone who might be reading. So here we gooooo:

ARTICLES:

“Young, Privileged and Applying for Food Stamps” by Karina Briski

  • Why?: Clearly I am highly simpatico with this girl. As a fellow sociology major with middle class roots who had major struggles on the path to securing gainful employment, I can totally relate and see the relevance of this article. Plus, I am a bleeding heart liberal who thinks the government should help everyone who is struggling, so what can I say?
  • How long will it take to read?: 10 minutes or less. Although you might be tempted to stay on The Billfold‘s site a bit longer because it is kind of amazing.

Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter

  • Why?: Well this is the article everyone is talking about…after being bombarded by it at my office, on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show (see above: bleeding heart liberal), etc. I decided it was time to read. Can I talk for a second about the full range of emotion I experienced when reading this article? I felt happy, depressed, angry, confused…this article hit me hard because it validated a lot of the fears I have been having about the future. I won’t delve too far into my personal issues here, but this is certainly a must read for all women (and probably all men, too).
  • How long will it take to read?: Depends on how fast you read, but probably safe to set aside 20 min-half hour for this one. Totally worth it though.

In Praise of Downtime” by Ellen Ruppel Shell

  • Why?: A good follow-up piece to the above. Just another little push to think about the way we work. A good quote from the article: “We keep a large percentage of the working population idle, because we can dispense with their labor by making the others overwork.” #thinkaboutthat
  • How long will it take to read?”: Less than 5 minutes. Might take a few minutes longer to think about, though!

The Afterlife of Cheap Clothes” by Elizabeth L. Cline

  • Why?: Because like everyone else, I am in the habit of buying WAY too much stuff, especially clothing. This article is a brief glimpse into her larger work: Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, and really illuminates the problem with clothing waste. This article has made me think a lot about what to buy and how to get rid of items when I am done with them.
  • How long will it take to read?: Less than 10 minutes. Save an extra 10 for scouring the internet for a better way to dispose of clothing you don’t want anymore (and send me ideas….I am very interested in a nonprofit that distributes clothes in 3rd world countries, if anyone knows of one).

BOOKS:

Okay, this is a cheater category…I read both of these books while I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago, but I would still highly recommend!

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (loved reading it after seeing the movie. I read the whole thing in one day. It is definitely that kind of book! Can’t wait for the next one.)
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey (totally indulgent, but as a lover of Tina Fey, this was completely what I expected from her.)

LISTENING:

As a person who is constantly running around like crazy, I can’t always fit everything I want to do into my week. This morning, while feeling guilty about not making it to church for another week, I listened to last week’s sermon from a local church. Great discussion of hope and Christianity, for anyone who might be interested: Where Do We Find Our Hope? by Jacob Smith

Alright, that is it for now! Send me any recommendations you have for some good reading and enjoy the last few hours of the weekend!

My Review: Amande, Almond Milk Yogurt

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So a few months ago I saw a post about Amande, a cultured almond milk yogurt that was being sold at a select few Whole Foods stores.  As someone formerly on a dairy-free diet, and a lover of almond milk, I decided that when I ran across it at the brand-spankin’ new Whole Foods on the campus of my alma matter that I should try it out. The following is my (unsolicited) review of the product!

Let me begin by saying that I am not much of a yogurt person, and when I have abstained from eating dairy products in the past (for asthma/allergy reasons) I developed a deep hatred of soy yogurt (ewwww).  I have long been a fan of almond milk, so I picked up my strawberry amande almond milk yogurt and a little baggie of bulk strawberry granola with deep anticipation.

When I opened the container I was a little skeptical.  I found a layer of separated watery yogurt at the top.  I mixed it in, and crossed my fingers that it would be fully incorporated.  Once I took a bite this is what I found: flavor-wise this yogurt is awesome.  It is not too sweet, definitely not sour, and it is definitely reminiscent of “real” yogurt.

My real hang up (and I suspect the issue for many), was the texture from a visual standpoint.  There is no getting around the fact that this yogurt is not smooth…it is, in fact, rather chunky.  This is a turnoff for me, but I took a bite anyways, and am happy to report that the texture doesn’t feel off.  Once I added some granola, it pretty much fully masked any chunkiness.

Overall, I found my experience with Amande very positive.  I would definitely eat it again (I would love to try some other flavors!) and I would highly recommend it over soy yogurt for the lactose intolerant/vegan out there.

So, if you spot some Amande at your local Whole Foods, definitely check it out!

 

 

Anyone else have any thoughts on “fake” dairy products?  I’m always on the lookout for great alternatives!

 

 

 

{Americanized} English Breakfast

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So, I am aware that I have been absent from blogging for quite some time.

 

Well, I got a job.  Not THE job.  But a job.  It involves eating sweets all day.  And smiling.  And it isn’t all bad.

 

It does leave me with little need/inspiration for baking delicious things, however.  (Who knew? Working 45-50 hour weeks+unlimited treats at work=no time/desire for home-baked goods! )

 

Well, yesterday my mom told me I needed to post on here.  And moms are always right (right?), so I decided I would do it on my day off.   Which is…TODAY! yayyyyyyyy

 

So this is what I’ve got for you:

My Americanized version of a proper English Breakfast.

 

As some of you may know, I spent last fall in Edinburgh (Scotland).  Although there are a lot of things about this time last year that I don’t miss (i.e. SNOW, annoying 17 year olds singing “F You” by Cee Lo Green outside of my dorm room door every Friday night over and over again, and dinners of potato and more potato), I do sometimes feel nostalgic about galavanting around Europe on the weekends, black cabs, and beans with breakfast.

 

Yes. That is right.

 

Beans with breakfast.

 

It is the best thing ever and you must do it.

 

My version of English breakfast is as follows (because this is how I like it): Baked beans, wheat toast with butter, 1 egg (over-medium) and bacon.  🙂  It is NOT traditional.  But it fills the void and I like it!

If you want to check out how to make a real English breakfast I suggest checking out this post on Eating for England.

 

SO GOOD.

 

Now it is time for laundry here! Wooooooo….have a great day!

(Also, kitty pic!  Just for fun!)

 

Salted Cinnamon Peanut Butter Cups

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Just in case you hadn’t noticed I am a pretty big fan of peanut butter.  I apologize to anyone out there with a peanut allergy…I can’t imagine how rough it must be to live without it (or to try to avoid it).  I will say the awesome thing about cooking for yourself is that you have the luxury of ignoring the world ‘peanut’ wherever I use it and replacing it with ‘almond,’ ‘cashew,’ or ‘sunflower.’  All excellent PB substitutes.

Anyways, since I love peanut butter and I love chocolate, I know that they are totally a match made in heaven. I am obsessed with Reece’s.  They were totally that candy that I would trade anything in my halloween candy stash for.  Today I decided I really wanted one, but I didn’t want to leave my apartment/spend money to get it, and I knew I had been neglecting my poor little blog, so I decided to hit the kitchen and make my own!

I tried really hard to come up with a good way to thicken up the filling with what I had on hand, so they would be closer texturally to a Reece’s, but never really got there.  That was totally fine though because they turned out delicious!  I also sprinkled some cinnamon and salt on top, because it sounded like a good idea.  And guess what?…

It totally was. Mmmmmmm.

So if you are okay with having a peanut butter cup that has a slightly less pronounced line between chocolate and peanut butter, I highly recommend making these.  If you are a purist, I would recommend searching elsewhere.  But really…just humor me and do the cinnamon and salt thing.  You won’t regret it….at least I don’t think you will…

Salted Cinnamon Peanut Butter Cups

*Makes about 12 pieces

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons (I used chunky) peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup crushed cereal (golden grahams) or graham crackers or cookies
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • cinnamon
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Crush your cereal/graham crackers/cookies until fine using either a food processor or by putting them in a plastic bag and using a can.
  2. In a small bowl mix together peanut butter, sugars, crushed cereal, honey and oil until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl microwave chocolate chips in 15-second intervals until smooth and melty.
  4. Make tablespoon size drops of chocolate on a piece of foil or parchment paper.  Scoop a slightly smaller amount of peanut butter mixture on top or each drop. Cover the peanut butter with another scoop of melted chocolate; spread to cover and seal in the peanut butter.
  5. While still melty, sprinkle on cinnamon and salt, to your liking. 
  6. Place in the freezer for 10-15 min to allow candies to solidify.
  7. Enjoy! 

Linguini Alfredo with Bacon

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Okay…I am about to be real serious.

 

This is probably one of the most delicious pasta dishes I have EVER eaten.  I clipped it from a magazine and put it in my personal recipe collection, where it had been neglected for at least 1-2 years. Last night Tom and I were relatively sure that we did not have adequate ingredients to make anything at home.  Then I thought about the delicious maple flavored, applewood smoked bacon we had sitting in the fridge, and I remembered this baby…

We cooked this dinner up in about 20 minutes AND we had every single ingredient on hand!  Well, kind of…we did substitute linguini for fettuccine, but besides that we were all good!

So basically, you need to check this out immediately.  Nom nom nom (also, yes, there IS salad in the background!).

Linguini Alfredo with Bacon

Makes about 3 servings.  Adapted from Cooking Light’s Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package linguini
  • 5 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped (preferably maple flavored if you can get some!)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
  • salt, pepper, parsley and cayenne pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil and do any necessary prep work for sauce. Cook bacon; reserve grease (oh I know, this is bad), turn heat to medium-low. Begin cooking pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking, add minced garlic to reserved bacon grease.  Let brown.
  3. Slowly add flour to pan.  Let brown.  Slowly add milk, stirring constantly.  Allow to thicken and bubble slightly.
  4. Add cheese slowly, stirring constantly.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Combine with linguini in medium size serving bowl.  Add bacon crumbles to top and stir.  Enjoy!

ALSO: I have a new Twitter account where I will be tweeting about other daily dabbling!  It is: @AlexIsDabbling !  Follow me, tweet at me, tell me what you want! xoxo

Meatless Mondays: Zucchini Parm

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So there is this little thing called “Meatless Monday” that has been going on for quite some time.  I, unfortunately, have never participated on purpose…accidentally: sure, but that clearly that is just a rotten coincidence and I can’t play cool like I am someone who really cares.

Well, last Monday was different.

As many of you may know, Football started up this last week, and with it, MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL aka the perfect opportunity to make a meatless dinner.

You may be confused right now…how can football night=good opportunity for Meatless Monday?

The answer to that question is: a local bar was (1) playing the New England Patriots game and (2) having unlimited Bud Light and chicken wings.  NOW.  If there are 3 things that I am not a fan of they would be (1) watching football, (2) Bud Light, and (3) eating anything that is still on a bone.I apologize if you are feeling offended by my distaste for these 3 highly American things…I try to make up for it with liking baseball, craft beers, and devouring anything covered in cheese.  That is all I can do! But, I digress…

Since Tom was out watching  the game with some Law School peeps, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to make something meatless and filled with squash (Tom=not a fan).  I saw a recipe for Zucchini Parmesan on foodgawker a couple days before that I decided would be a good option.  It was super simple to make, only required a few ingredients, and was relatively cheap to boot.  I only spent roughly $7 on the ingredients, and remember, I am living in a ridiculously expensive city.  Anyways, here is my take on the dish!

Alex’s Meatless Monday Zucchini Parm

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchinis
  • mozzarella cheese
  • 1 small box noodles (I did Macaroni because I had leftovers from Mac and Cheese, but you could use any type)
  • 1 can red pasta sauce
  • Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic

Directions:

  1. Begin by cutting up your zucchini in half (long ways) and then into relatively thin slices.  Slice up or grate mozzarella.  Get some water boiling.   Add pasta to water (it should take about the same time to cook as it will take to make the sauce).
  2. Pour a thin layer of olive oil into pan on medium-high heat and add about 1-2 cloves of garlic.  Let garlic brown in pan, then toss in the zucchini. 
  3. When the zucchini is a nice light brown on both sides, push it all close together and place/sprinkle the cheese on top.  Let cheese melt.
  4. Add in pasta sauce.  Mix.  Don’t be afraid of mixing in the cheese–it will make it gooey and delicious. Season to taste. 
  5. Drain pasta, distribute into individual bowls.  Top with Parmesan cheese.  Have a piece of toast with it because there aren’t enough carbs in this meal yet.  Pour yourself a nice glass of red wine.  Enjoy with reruns of SYTYCD…woops….

 

Is this Missoni thing for real???

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Hey there world.  Let me just start off by saying that I try not to get up on my high horse too often to criticize peoples’ actions.  Generally I find straight criticism pretty useless, but I tried to walk away from this one and I really just couldn’t…

I’m talking about this Missoni for Target fiasco.

For those of you who missed what is going on here, an Italian fashion company by the name of Missoni (read about them on Wikipedia) partnered with Target to offer a low-budget version of some of their iconic designs in the chain.  Missoni is a popular, luxury brand, which does not come cheap– a Missoni dress from Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue or Nordstrom will run you somewhere in the $800-$1,5000 range.  The Target collection offered a “comparable” dress for somewhere around $60.

Long story short, when people found out about this “deal” they descended upon Target stores and Target.com ferociously and bought up the entirety of the collection in the first day it was available.   Many of these people (not all, of course) knew or learned of the demand for these items and turned around and put what they had made out with on ebay or craigslist with enormously inflated prices.

When I heard about this I initially understood what the fuss was all about (even though I personally had never heard of Missoni…at least by name*) and was not at all shocked about the price-gouging via ebay.  All seemed like pretty normal business to me.  The problem really hit me when I started to notice just how ridiculous the defenses people use for asking inflated prices for these items are (not that this is something different than other occasions where people price-gouge).  Today I was cruising my local craigslist and saw the following reasons:

  1. “They don’t match my decor.” x2.  Okay…sure…this excuse seems believable enough, but if the problem is that it doesn’t match why couldn’t you a) return them or b) not charge 3-4x the amount you paid for them…
  2. “____ bought me the exact same one.”x2.  Again, Target does allow returns…even without a receipt you can get store credit.  Also, I sincerely doubt that you are telling the truth here.  Your boyfriend braved the early morning opening to get you a not-very-cute skirt?  Hmmmm…skeptical Alex is skeptical….
  3. “It doesn’t fit and I can’t return it.” C’mon people!  We all know Target allows returns!!!! Stop itttt.
  4. “I stormed the presale and can’t afford all my purchases.”  Well that is honest…but again, returning it will get you the amount of money you spent back!

I guess the point I am trying to make is:

If you can’t just admit you are being greedy and trying to turn a profit, and if that makes you feel guilty, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it! 

Honestly kids, there are a lot of people out there who would have liked to have had a shot at this collection, and hoarding it and trying to make a quick buck off of it is really just kind of rude.  I really hope that people resist buying this stuff off of people at these crazy prices to teach them a lesson.  I personally have no interest in this collection and I think people are kind of overreacting about the whole thing, so I for one will have no problem avoiding their ever-so-enticing “deals.”

ALSO:

If I decide I can’t live without some sweet geometric patterns, I’ll just wait it out til all you crazies are dropping your Missoni for Target off at the local Goodwill 3 months from now.  You probably won’t ever have had the occasion to wear it anyways…it will go nicely with my $4 barely used J.Crew 100% Cashmere sweater.

Oh, I love being frugal.  🙂

*While in the process of researching Missoni a little bit, I figured out that I have actually been in the Missoni Hotel in Edinburgh.  Actually a VERY cool hotel!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

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Today is one of those days.

One of those wait all day for the electrician to show up kinds of days…

One of those boyfriend and cats need to nap kind of days…

One of those can’t focus on applying for jobs because I had a really great interview for a job I really want this week kind of days…

So, what is my remedy?

Baking cookies, of course!

I have accumulated a lot of recipes in google reader over the last…couple of years?  So that is generally my go-to place for any kind of recipe.  After parsing through that list of bookmarks and not finding anything that I (a) was really inspired by or (b) had all the ingredients for, I decided to check out my new love–Pinterest.

I had pinned this recipe from food + words and decided it would be a good starting point for my first adventure in making my own recipe.

I have been reading the book Ratio, by Michael Ruhlman and used his cookie dough ratio (1 part sugar; 2 parts fat; 3 parts flour) as my starting off point for this recipe.  After tweaking it as I went I came up with this recipe!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Inspired by Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies by Jaclyn at Food + Words and the “Cookie Dough” Ratio featured in Ratio by Michael Ruhlman

Makes about 15 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chocolate peanut butter*
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream brown sugar and butter in a medium size bowl.  Add chocolate peanut butter, mix until well incorporated.  Add egg and vanilla to mix and combine.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together (or sift) flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add dry mix to wet in small increments.  Use tablespoon of milk with last bit of flour mixture if necessary to combine.
  5. Use ice cream scoop to scoop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Press down with fork.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.

*Chocolate Peanut Butter

Adapted from the same recipe on Food + Words

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. canola oil

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in bowl.  Mix well. You can use a food processor if you have one.  I don’t in this apartment so I just hand-mixed and it turned out great! 🙂

These cookies are delicious!  The peanut butter and chocolate are both relatively faint, neither are overpowering.  If you really want to taste one or the other (or both!) I would recommend adding either peanut butter chips or chocolate chips.  Otherwise, they do not flatten out at all, are dense, and almost moist.  I am a fan of voluminous cookies and these definitely are! Hope you enjoy!

xoxo

 

 

Delectable Dinners!

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Hello again, my lovelies.

This afternoon I thought I would share some of the delicious dinners that the BF and I made last week in our sweet, little city apartment.  🙂

View out the living room window of our sweet, little apartment

First up:  The Pioneer Woman’s Mac and Cheese

Okay, so as food blog freaks and Food Network addicts might know, the Pioneer Woman recently got her own show!  I have been a massive fan of her site for the past…4 or so years, and I, for one, truly believe that her positive attitude and passion for butter were in need of another media platform.

To move along with this story, Tom and I were watching her show and had the image of her making some amazingly delicious looking Mac and Cheese burned into our heads.  Friday night we were invited to a dinner party with some fresh new law school people and decided that this was the time to make the full, behemoth recipe!

Fair warning: a group of 3 women and 5 young men barely put a dent in this massive amount of dinner delight.  I would HIGHLY advise halving the recipe if you are only trying to feed a small (or normal size) family or are not a fan of having a few days worth of leftovers.  As previously discussed, I love leftovers, so we are all good here!

My one and only change/suggestion would be to skip putting it in the oven.   You should have seen the ooey-gooeyness of this mac and cheese before the oven!!! While it was still tasty, I am pretty sure skipping the baking is the way to go.

Anyways, check this stuff out:

Now go make it!

NEXT: Thai Peanut Chicken with Rice Noodles

This is a favorite of Tom and mine.  Usually Tom makes the dish with coconut rice (OMG SO GOOD) rather than rice noodles, but alas we have neither rice cooker nor pot with lid, so we had to change it up.   We were really happy with how this turned out, and again, wound up with a BUNCH of leftovers.  I highly recommend trying out this recipe.  It is pretty cheap to make (although you do have to invest in a few more exotic ingredients), has VEGGIES, and could easily be made cheaper/vegetarian with some tofu instead of chicken.

Mmmmmmmmmm (and yes, that is a strawberry-kiwi mojito in the background….recipe to come if we ever get it just right…).

Well that is all for now!  xoxo ❤