Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bison Burgers with Bourbon Onions

I've made your run-of-the-mill beef burgers, your turkey burgers and the occasional sirloin burger. But I have to say, the bison burger I made last night was one of my favorite burgers I've ever made at home! 

When I lived in Staunton a few years ago, it seemed like every restaurant in town had a bison burger. I didn't really know what advantages bison may or may not offer, but I knew it seemed exotic, so I ordered it all the time! 

 It turns out bison actually does offer a big advantage: it's extremely lean and still delicious! I accidentally overcooked these burgers a bit and they didn't suffer at all...not dry or flavorless remotely. I bought the bison meat, which was extremely affordable, at Harris Teeter.

 I didn't mix anything fancy into the patties, although I might consider adding onions just for kicks some time. I did add the following spices (mostly eyeballing the amounts) to each side of the patties: freshly ground pepper, salt, Cajun seasoning and garlic powder.

 I thought it would be fun to top my burger with bourbon onions...I accidentally burned mine, but they were still a tasty addition, along with Swiss cheese and my favorite Boar's Head Pepperhouse Gourmaise.

Sean, of course, topped his with one piece of lettuce. God bless him and his simple tastes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Most Comfy Dress I've Ever Owned

Friends, this t-shirt dress from Old Navy is one of the most comfortable, flattering, easy, breezy dresses I've ever owned. You can dress it up, you can dress it down, it's appropriate everywhere and it's on sale for $18. 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend in Pictures

It's so sad to see a long weekend come to an end, isn't it? Let's just relive it in pictures, shall we?

Sean was out of town for his annual camping trip, so I decided to take myself to TJ Maxx and Trader Joe's and treat myself to goodies, like Trader's macarons (which are delicious, by the way)...

And a new Steve Madden purse for summertime! I also took myself on a little date to a yard sale, where I bought old reference books on architecture and history (I have fantasies I'll use them for collages I'll probably never make) and then stopped by a festival to enjoy food trucks and live music. And I've made great progress in getting caught up on "Scandal!"

Once Sean got home on Sunday, we dug into frozen chocolate bananas and the new season of Arrested Development. I belly laughed in a couple episodes (feral jesus, anyone?).

I got some new cheap sunglasses that seemed extra Golden Girls-esque and they are perfect for summer.

And we enjoyed a Memorial Day meal with Ashleigh and her mom at Oceans and Ale, home of my favorite fish tacos and the masonrita, served in a mason jar.

And now we're back to work. Sigh.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Best v.156

Beautiful photo of Natalie Wood, found on Pinterest

I hope your Memorial Day weekend is going swell! My husband just got back from his annual camping trip, so we are digging into the new Arrested Development episodes. Enjoy my favorite links of the week!
  • The stories behind Arrested Development's best jokes.
  • Pictures of Charlottesville then and now.
  • Backstreet Boys review their silliest quotes.
  • Jimmy Fallon engages in the Game of Desks.
  • I totally went down the rabbit hole on this website tracking modern day ruins, like abandoned theme parks.
  • Beyonce's tumblr is great, but Solange's blog is pretty great, too.
  • Jenny's incredible tip for breaking in shoes in 5 minutes.
  • Famous gems through time! I'm still reading a book about Elizabeth Taylor, so this was perfectly timed!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jams of the Week

Cleaning Jam: Hoover Linx

Our terrible apartment carpet is the WORST. It pills, it's tan, and it has all kinds of weird stains from who knows when. Combine that with my very long hair shedding all over the place, my husband's penchant for eating Pop Tarts in his armchair and his love of leaving black sock lint everywhere and you've got a picture of how gross our floor regularly looks. 

To make matters worse, my cheapie vacuum, bought in 2006 for maybe $60, smelled TERRIBLE and picked up nothing. We don't have any animals, or even stairs, so I did a bunch of research and picked up the Hoover Linx cordless stick vacuum. I'm happy to report it's great! It's super lightweight, super powerful and it's cordless! And it's easy to store! For now, it's a great main vacuum and when we eventually need something more heavy duty, it'll be great for quick jobs.

Dessert Jam: Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream Bars

I don't care what brand, I just love this concept. Mayfield, PET, Blue Bell, Ben &'s all good!

TV Jam: "Arrested Development"

It's back this Sunday! It's almost too good to be true! I watched the show when it aired on Fox originally and was devastated when the show was ultimately canceled. I've watched it repeatedly over the years, but it still seemed important to watch it again as prep for the new season on Netflix!

Movie Jam: "Star Trek: Into Darkness"

Have you seen the new "Star Trek" yet? I really loved it. My parents and aunt are pretty heavy Trek fans, and my husband is, too, so I'm one by influence and extension. I really enjoyed this one and Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect villain!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Grapefruit Elderflower Spritzer

Do you ever notice a pattern with the items you're pinning on Pinterest? If it's got grapefruit, I'm there. I've been reading all these great grapefruit juice cocktails lately and the other night, I had a craving to try one. So I whipped together my new favorite drink, which doesn't really have a name, so you're welcome to call it the Mrs. Kennedy. It's pretty simple:

  • Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
  • Vodka
  • St. Germain 
  • Splash of tonic
It is delicious, easy to drink and refreshing. I'm deeming it the cocktail for early summer.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cooking with Wine

 Almost since its inception, Wine Club has been talking about having a "cooking with wine" night. Well, it only took four years, but we finally did it! Our menu included: a salad with a homemade red wine vinaigrette...

 Chicken with proscuitto and basil, poached in white wine...

and Red wine-marinated steak bites...

Erica's chicken dish was delicious!

 Jen made a delicious chilled strawberry soup that included wine. This dish would be amazing for summer get-togethers! I'm not sure which recipe she used, but here's a sample recipe.

 She also made a delicious tomato and cucumber salad with wine vinaigrette.

 We sampled a few wines, including Chateau Tour de L'Ange Macon Rouge wine.

 and classic Rodney Strong sauvignon blanc!

 I made...with very mixed success, sparkling wine gelee with raspberries. It was simultaneously beautiful and looked like Halloween food.

And our favorite wine for the night: Sei Amici lambrusco, a delicious sparkling red.

It was the first time we'd ever eaten around the table, family-style, and it was sweet and fun! If you're wondering about the mixed success of my gelee...don't worry, I've got that story for tomorrow.

Sparkling Wine Gelee

I have this terrible affliction where I can never do anything the easy way. When cooking with wine came up as a proposed theme, I thought, a-ha! Time to make wine gelee! How hard could it be, right?

Truthfully, I don't think it's hard, but for some reason I was not completely successful. I personally think the recipe calls for too much sugar and maybe not enough gelatin, but you can be the judge.

First, I mixed raspberries with a 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.

In another bowl, I combined 1/2 cup of Prosecco and added 3 1/2 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin. The directions said to "sprinkle," and I don't know if I could accurately call what I did "sprinkling." I'm thinking this might be where the trouble began. I let it sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, I brought 1 cup of sparkling wine, 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a boil and then stirred it until it dissolved.

The directions then said to pour the boiled mixture into a pitcher and add the remaining sparkling wine, the raspberries and remaining tablespoon of lemon juice. Frankly, I'm not totally sure it needed that much more wine, because my gelee had a very hard time hardening to anything close to a wobble.

I then poured the fancy Jello into wide glasses and a mini bundt pan and refrigerated overnight.

And it was totally still wet and mushy the next morning...not even close to a jiggler. The situation was only worse when I brought the pan to Wine Club...the little bit of hardening had melted back into Jello liquid.

Luckily, Erica had a stroke of genius and put the pan in the freezer, creating a frozen gelee that was quite tasty and kept its form. Ta-da! An edible dessert.

So, it was a disaster that worked out, but I'm open to suggestions on where it might have gone wrong.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Best v.155

Gloria Vanderbilt, found here.

Whew! Have I been busy! I had back-to-back-to-back events this week, so I'm finally relaxing a bit today. We saw Star Trek, so now of course my Sean has decided it's time to re-watch The Next Generation, which is basically his favorite thing to do at all times.
  • I got sucked into looking at all of the historic sites listed as "in danger" by the National Trust.
  • I'm sure you've heard about Amy's Bakery's meltdown, but in case you missed it, it's a must-read.
  • Never Nudes flock to the Bluth banana stand in NY...omg, I cannot wait for Arrested Development.
  • Absolutely INCREDIBLE reader-submitted photos for the National Geographic photo contest.
  • Buzzfeed is determined to make me feel really, really old.
  • A hilarious satire of the NY Times' culture story on why young people aren't driving.
  • The trailer for The Great Catsby.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Things I'm Preoccupied By These Days

Oh, friends. I feel like I fell down on blogging! Here are the things that have been taking up my spare time lately:

Re-Learning How to Design

I spent several years designing newspapers, but that's a very specific type of design. Now, I'm designing a TON in my new position and finding myself obsessed with looking for inspiration on Pinterest, Behance and Design Work Life. I especially love this poster by Carlos Zamora.

Cars vs. Houses

For years, Sean and I have been putting off buying a new car (both of us have 10-year-old cars) and we've saving for our first home. Now we've finally reached the point where we can get moving on that, but we've been feeling kinda overwhelmed about which hurdle to tackle first. One friend recommended applying for a mortgage before a car loan because it would look better....but then there's the nagging knowledge that the car needs more and more upkeep. Ugh! Being a grown-up is tough as hell, isn't it?

Scanning Old Pictures

I finally found the time to scan pictures I borrowed from my dad at Christmastime! This is a shot of my grandpa George back in the 40s. What a handsome fella!

Planning Our First Family Vacay

I haven't been on a proper vacation with my family members since I graduated from college, so I'm very excited because we're planning a trip with my mom, stepdad and grandparents to Washington, D.C. in September. I've been many, many times and Sean was born there, but I'm still pumped not only to spend time together, but see some of the touristy stuff we never get to see and also to play tour guides. What are your favorite less-than-obvious things to do in DC or places to eat?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Best v.154

Happiest of Mother's Days to you! I'm so grateful for the strong and generous women who have played some part in raising me. I'm also amazed and humbled by watching so many of my friends become mothers themselves. All hail lady power!
  • One of the nerdiest things I've ever loved: Geo Guesser!
  • So inspired and in love with this mom's photographs of her 5-year-old daughter.
  • If you ever watched Star Trek: Next Generation, you will die watching this video of Riker sitting down like a weirdo.
  • Was the Great Gatsby broke?
  • Damn! They're ruining the American Girl Dolls!
  • John Krasinski, lip sync hero.
  • Wisconsin family discovers a fallout shelter perfectly preserved.
  • What would happen if the writers of Parks & Rec and Game of Thrones traded places.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Burrito Bowl at Home

 Do you guys read Dinner: A Love Story? If not, you should be. Jenny excels at writing in a relatable way, and especially cooking for picky eaters. I was reading her blog searching for dinner inspiration for my picky eater (Sean) and stumbled upon an incredibly brilliant, why-didn't-I-think-of-that idea: make Chipotle-inspired burrito bowls at home!

That way everyone can get the toppings they want, and you can pack in a bunch of veggies. It's also perfect because you can make it as hard or as easy as you want, as Jenny points out. We went with EASY.

 I cooked up chicken breasts in the same seasonings you would use for tacos, then added peppers and onions, along with a few squeezes of lime juice.

And we served it on top of cilantro and lime-flavored basmati rice (honestly, it didn't make that much of a difference...any rice would work). I added avocado to mine ...I'm still trying to get Sean on board with avocado. It was delicious and easy and breezy. Add it to the regular round-up!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Wine Fest in Pictures

It's hard to believe three years have passed since my last spring Wine Fest in Norfolk! We skipped 2011, I was in Ireland in 2012, but I was excited to find I would be free after lunch with my pal Sarah to gallivant around at Wine Fest. For the uninitiated, Wine Fest is a chance to sample the best (and some not-so-great) Virginia wines...OR it's a chance to buy bottles at a discount and day drink with your old and brand new friends. For us, 2013 brought the latter.

Showing off our new floral iPhone cases for spring...Ashleigh's is J.Crew and mine is from Rifle Paper Co.

The AT&T booth gave away free mix-and-match fake Ray-Bans! Everyone was sporting them.

Candid laughing shot!

It was a great day, but I'm pretty jealous of my pals' wine sippy cups. Def. on my wish list!