Friday, September 28, 2012

Food for Warmth

I wouldn't venture to say we cycled too many staple recipes throughout dinnertime in my family growing up, and there certainly weren't any family recipes passed down from generation to generation (with one exception being my great grandmother's fudge that I have yet to master). Our entirely Western European (English, I think) genetic makeup contributes little to our dining because don't they just eat fish and chips or something? And despite being raised exclusively in the South, we don't really have any southern roots per se.

Needless to say, when it comes to my go-to cuisine, I'm sort of at a loss.

If I were to adopt a genre of food, though, I think it'd be anything with Latin influence. I just love it. But with fall here, I for one am in the mood for soups, chilis and generally anything made in a Crockpot that doesn't look like something that's been left out in the rain too long (which, incidentally, cuts out about 95% of Crockpot recipes). Basically if it's warm and hearty, and perhaps sprinkled with cumin or cilantro, I want it.

And fortunately, there just so happens to be one recipe that my mom somewhat regularly makes and it hits on all the qualities I'm shopping for in a meal this fall.

Ingredients (serves 6 or so):
1 lb. ground turkey (or ground beef or tofu or even just extra black beans mashed up)
1 cup water
1 packet taco or fajita seasoning
1 fresh jalapeƱo (optional)
1/4 cup rice (white or brown, but I usually use white for this recipe)
15 oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles
15 oz. can black beans
Toppings (see below)

Brown the meat in a large skillet with a little olive oil. Drain out the water from the meat and add water and seasonings. Mix in uncooked rice and tomatoes. Cook for 35-40 minutes stirring occasionally. Drain black beans and add to mixture. Cook for additional 15 minutes, adding more water if needed.

Top with Mexican cheese, salsa, lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, black olives, guacamole, etc. etc. etc.

This dish is great alone or with tortillas or tortilla chips a la nachos. Added bonus: it freezes and reheats well. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sweet Reminders

Sometimes I need a little reminder about the important things. These prints I designed last week, featuring a quote from Ann Voskamp (for me) and two favorite Bible verses (for my sister and her husband), do just that. Just grab a few Ikea frames on the cheap and they're ready for hanging!

Spare fabric + twine makes for excellent packaging 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Cup(cheese)cakes

Enough about running.

This weekend I got in the kitchen and baked a Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake, making my list of Deb's cheesecakes I've tried at number three. Yes, there's a list. And no, it did not disappoint.

I threw in a little twist, though, as I needed to make a cupcake version for my boss's birthday and a Sunday bruncheon (did I just make that up or do people say that?) that ultimately got cancelled. Oh well, more cheesecake for me. Am I right? This was my first attempt at cup(cheese)cakes and let me say: it was a wise choice. I love cheesecake, but dare I say sometimes (just sometimes, people) a whole slice is just too much for me. This is the perfect portion, in my opinion.

My only major deviations from the recipe came at the end. On its own, this cheesecake is great. But what is already sweet I say make sweeter. I whipped up a chocolate ganache using 1 part heavy cream to 1.25 parts semisweet chocolate and oh. my. cup(cheese)cake.

 All great recipes start with a tower of Milk's Favorite Cookies (minus their centers) - I doubled the crust recipe which equates to about two sleeves of Oreos

 Oops, cookie break

Anytime I open chocolate from foil, I wonder if I'll get the golden ticket

I've never had a problem with caramel-making, but this caramel recipe was particularly difficult to follow so I sort of improvised by adding some water, cranking up the heat and stirring a lot, though stirring is not advisable (not my rules)

From caramel to chocolate caramel to chocolate sour cream caramel to chocolate sour cream cream cheese caramel (note my use of the improper Kitchen Aid attachment; use the beater, not the whisk!)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Marathon Monday

I've done a foolish thing.

It all started a few months ago when I was feeling particularly "blah" about my current state. I hadn't been keeping up with running and, coupled with my recent gym membership cancellation, I needed something to motivate me. A goal, perhaps. And that's when I got the idea - the kind of idea that I told myself for the past 24 years I would never do - to run a marathon.

To start, I scoured running and race sites alike looking for a marathon in the next few months (because of course I was simultaneously reading up on marathon training and determined that I needed approximately 16 weeks to get up to speed). Atlanta wasn't an option because who wants to run a marathon where the majority of the training happens? Not me. No way.

Over the following days, I kept up my search efforts until finally realizing that going to another city alone to run a marathon is not only depressing but boring. Enter my good friend Morgan, who just so happens to be running the Walt Disney World Marathon in January with her aunt. Now, you should know that I have never been to Disney (I know, I know!), so this idea made sense. Morgan extended the invite on a Friday afternoon and I gave myself a "few days" to decide.

Cut to earlier that day, I had ordered this book and it arrived on my doorstep looking all smug. Literally within minutes of talking to Morgan, I was ripping open the package and staring down at its white pages filled with marathon training secrets and tips. Instantly I felt inspired and found myself on the phone with Morgan hearing myself tell her I had registered for the marathon.


Here I am, finally at day one of my training. Coincidentally, it starts with a day of rest and now that I can do. Overall, though, I'm feeling rather nervous. There are a few challenges I'm anticipating:

-Thanksgiving week: I'll be in Amsterdam and I find it hard to believe I'll be running on the reg...
-Fall backward: with the end of daylight savings comes the beginning of very dark mornings and evenings this winter. I'm going to have to figure out when I can (safely) run since the majority of my training will be alone.
-Cold: I hate the cold. More than the cold, though, I hate running in the cold. Bless my little ears!

And so begins a series on Flowers are Lovely called "Marathon Monday" where I attempt to post a summary of my training weeks each Monday on my much-needed day of rest. I'm hoping this holds me somewhat accountable seeing as I wouldn't to disappoint the tens of readers my little blog gets each week (er, month, but who's counting?).

Happy running, folks!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

happy 25th.

Today is September 18th. This means one thing and one thing only. Ok, two things: happiest of birthdays to my lovely roommate Elizabeth! And happy half birthday to me! 

Elizabeth, while these pom pom garland strands and shoddily-cut construction paper letters may not be my finest work, please know that they were made with love.

Here's to 25 more years (followed by another 25 and another 25, obviously) filled with:
-Georgia football
-ice cream
-late nights
-half marathons
-Taqueria del Sol
-tacos in general
-guac, guac and more guac (with tomatoes & garlic, totally)
-well-oiled machines
-rainy walks
-rainy talks
-words on repeat on repeat on repeat
-Anthropologie EVERYTHING
-apartment (and one day home) decor
-cleaning sprees
-fashion passion
-indoor plants/trees and a vase of flowers or two
-Regina Spektor
-more ice cream (preferably chocolate know the brand)
-not throwing up
-and a cherry on top...of a few scoops of ice cream

And, duh, Elvis. Always lots more Elvis.

Happy birthday!

Ah, yes: also my 24.5th birthday!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

That place called home.

I spy a Fox head

I took the Myers-Briggs type indicator test at my last job and "learned" that I wasn't much of a details person. Now, this shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, including myself. Even less surprising is the confirmation that I base all my decisions on my emotions, but that's another post for another day.

But details, you see: details and I have never been very good friends. Details always get the better part of me, whether it's accidentally buying two of the same album on iTunes, typos or even precisely measuring out ingredients for a recipe. Call me careless, attribute it to my ADHD or honestly just blame it on my constant speeding through everything I do, but I just can't for the life of me conquer details.

When it comes to my apartment, though, it's all about the details. It's the hand-crafted touches scattered throughout. It's the meticulous choosing of colors. It's even the textures and shapes and size of everything that goes inside.

Here's a quick peek inside my roommate's and my quaint little apartment: welcome!

Remember this garland?

What about this tray? The flowers are made of magazine pages and straws for stems and yes, that's absolutely an empty Patron bottle serving as a vase.

But wait, there's more! Remember those chairs? And the pillows? And the painting?

 Oh my, or how could we forget the placemat project? 

 Greek Isles

Wall hangings: on the left, pages from an old botanical print book

9th grade 2D art project turned hallway accent 

Still in love with my chalkboard jars for flour & sugar and obviously any household thing Anthropologie makes a porcelain version of

Living Room:
Curtains: also West Elm, but not listed online
Coasters: Antropologie

Flour & Sugar Chalkboard Jars: Pier 1
Farmers Market Basket: Anthropologie
Green Glass Goblets: Pier 1 clearance a few years ago

Dining Room:
Vase: purchased at Goodwill
Salt & pepper shakers: one of my grandmothers? Vintage, people!
Candlesticks on major sale at Anthropologie