September 27, 2012

4 years & going strong

Happy 4-year anniversary, PDubbs!

I love you more & more each day. 

September 24, 2012

Recipe: Quinoa Egg Bake

This week is going to be crazy! PDubbs has his first "hell week" of the semester this week. Today, he had a presentation followed by a 2-hour biochemistry exam. There's an "active learning" module he has to prepare for Wednesday. And he'll spend the rest of his free time studying for his medicinal chemistry final that he'll take Friday afternoon. While he's slaving away, I'll also be reverting back to a student with 4 full days of classes this week. In the midst of this, we will be celebrating our 4-year anniversary(!!!) on the 27th with a date night Friday night after his exam. And Papa Dubbs is coming to stay with us Saturday & Sunday to celebrate his birthday and help us take care of some maintenance things around the condo.

So we have great things to look forward to at the end of the week! But getting there will be a challenge. And we're going to need some good fuel for our bodies and minds throughout the week. We know ourselves well enough to realize that if we don't plan ahead, we will go hungry from indecision and sheer exhaustion. We planned out some new, healthy & hearty meals over the weekend to get use through the week. We even stocked up on groceries to minimize shopping trips that usually end with extra impulse buys.

Sunday night we started on the right foot with a quinoa egg bake. It's full of super foods, like quinoa, eggs and spinach, that are high in protein and vitamins to jumpstart our bodies & minds. The quinoa settles to the bottom to create a sort of crust while the parmesan browns up beautifully for a crispy exterior. It was absolutely delicious and made enough for us to have leftovers later in the week!

Quinoa Egg Bake
Barely adapted from Whole Foods
Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
8 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3-4 cloves)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350'F. Grease an 8x8 inch glass or metal baking dish.

2. Rinse quinoa under cold water until water runs clear. Drain well.
If your strainer is like mine, you may need to line it with a paper towel so you don't lose all your quinoa!
3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, garlic, spices and quinoa. Stir in spinach and pour mixture into prepared dish. Cover with aluminum foil and gently jiggle the dish so that the quinoa floats to the bottom.

4. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle top evenly with parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered for 15 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes then slice & serve. Feel free to top with salsa or sriracha (PDubb's favorite!). 

Get. In. My. Belly.

September 23, 2012

Recipe: Pumpkin Shortbread

Hooray for fall! My love for October has been heavily documented (here & here) on this blog. While October is clearly the favorite in my book, my excitement does not stop there. Oh no! I spread the love to all months that one can partake in wearing sweatshirts, driving with the windows down, and eating anything pumpkin-flavored.

Barney was one smart dinosaur.

For the past 3 years, I've started celebrating my favorite season by baking the same fall-inspired dessert: pumpkin biscotti. I jumped the gun this year and made it back in the beginning of September. And it was everything I dreamed of all year and more! Perfect for dipping in coffee, as an afternoon snack with tea or crumbled into some yogurt.

I finished off the last of the batch yesterday with my morning coffee and went into pumpkin withdrawals approximately 27 seconds later. I need pumpkin-flavored treats nearby at all times during this glorious season.

I've pinned a bunch of pumpkin and fall-related recipes on Pinterest lately. Pumpkin granola, pumpkin cheddar mac & cheese, pumpkin chili, pumpkin fudge... you name it, it's out there. But I hadn't seen a recipe for one of my favorite types of cookies - shortbread. I love the buttery goodness and crumbly texture. And adding pumpkin to it? Perfection.

After a little research, I finally found a recipe that seemed to fit the bill. Plus, the author seems just as smitten with pumpkin and its respective season as I am! These cookies are absolutely beautiful and smell just like fall when coming out of the oven. They're not as crumbly nor as sweet as your typical shortbread. But they are the perfect complement to a strong cup of coffee!

Pumpkin Shortbread
Barley adapted from Adventures in Shaw
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 cups flour (I used all-purpose, but I would love to try whole wheat to see if it adds some nuttiness)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1. Using a stand (or hand) mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Scrape down bowl. Add flour & salt in 2 additions, scraping down the bowl in between, until incorporated. Add pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice until dough forms.

Smooooth like butter
After sugar added. I think this is fluffy?
Hello, beautiful autumn elixir.
Va-va-voom, check out that color!

2. Turn dough out onto wax or parchment paper. Roll into thick log, about 12" long and wrap in paper. Place log in freezer for 1 hour.

Plop aka The New Jim. (Anyone watch The Office this week?)

3. After 1 hour, cut the log into 1/4"-thick disks and lay on baking sheets covered in parchment paper. Refrigerate cookies while the oven preheats to 350'F. Bake 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks before serving.

Right before hitting the oven.

September 21, 2012

Post-Grad Life

Whoops, forgot I had a blog!

I guess the headline of this little blog is a little outdated since I'm no longer a college girl nor do I live in Gainesville. I'll have to make some changes around here if I want to keep my wonderful readers happy!

Anyways, things are great here in Jacksonville! I'm about 45 days into my nursing career as an RN in a CVICU and I absolutely love it. I'm still orienting to the position so I work with a preceptor, who shows me the ropes and prepares me to take care of patients by myself. My preceptor, Chesley, is a Samford alum and she's awesome! She's helped me a lot the past 5 weeks and I'm feeling more and more comfortable with my role and responsibilities every day. I'm working day shift right now but I'll transition to night shift in a few weeks. 

Pharmacy school is in full swing for PDubbs. He's already had 2 exams, several presentations and about 50 lectures since beginning a month ago. Most of his lectures are filmed in Gainesville and then posted online so he can watch from the comfort of his office in his pajamas. A couple of times a week he has to drive to the Jacksonville downtown campus at Shands Hospital for presentations, lectures and other Pharm activities. So far, so good!

As far as Jacksonville goes, we're trying to learn our way around the city and find fun things to do. Earlier this month, we went on a bus tour of local Jacksonville breweries with my old friend, Whitney. Whitney & I played soccer together for 4 years growing up and we both went to UF and kept in touch but had different groups of friends and extracurriculars. We hardly ever saw each other, which goes to show you just how big UF can be! But she moved up to Jacksonville for grad school at UNF and we were all in need of some familiarity (and good craft beer!). It was a lot of fun and definitely something worth showing guests from out-of-town!

That's pretty much it around here. We have a pretty good routine worked out and things are going smoothly. I can't make any promises about how often I'll post here since I never seem to fulfill those promises (sorry!). But I'll post big updates or random things when I feel inspired. Like the fact that the new Mumford & Sons album comes out this Tuesday - I.AM.SO.FRICKIN.EXCITED! They'll also be on SNL this Saturday :)