beef jerky & dog treats.

Shane purchased a food dehydrator back before Christmas, and I’ve been itching to get my hands on it. However, with planned family visits, running, and general holiday chaos, I  decided I needed to wait until I had some spare brain power before I went sucking the moisture out of things.

Yesterday, I worked from home and decided to tackle my first batch of beef jerky. It’s amazing the kind of time you have when you don’t have to get ready for work, drive to work, drive home from work, or cook dinner. (Shane had to fend for himself with the leftovers in the fridge).

Our dehydrator is a Sedona Raw Food Dehydrator. It can operate fully with 9 trays, or only use half the machine for 4 trays. I thought that was kind of a nice feature since I was only using 3 trays for my jerky.

I spent a couple of minutes searching Pinterest for jerky recipes, but I couldn’t really find a winner. I decided to make my own marinade, use a flank steak that had been living in the freezer for a month or so, and go from there.

jerky

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. flank steak, cleaned of fat and sliced into thin strips
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • .5 tablespoon honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

After cleaning the meat and slicing it in thin strips, I let it rest in a bowl of the marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge. If I had planned better, I would have soaked it over night. But I really wanted jerky last night, so I rushed it.

From there, I pulled the strips out onto paper towels and patted the meat dry to prevent any dripping in the machine. Then I laid the strips on the trays evenly and inserted them into the machine. I set it at 155*F for 6 hours.

The final product is amazing. So much better than store-bought jerky. I could never get over the weird sweet taste of the prepackaged stuff from convenience stores. I would always make myself eat it for a quick burst of protein after a run, but man, oh man. This homemade stuff if amazing.

Hunter also got a treat. I found this homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog treat recipe from Damn Delicious. Every single recipe I’ve tried from her website has been wonderful. Most of my go-to recipes are Damn Delicious recipes – one-pot garlic parmesan pasta, beef and broccoli, and the crab artichoke dip are my all-time favorites. 

Hunter absolutely loved the homemade treats and they were significantly cheaper than buying a small bag of beggin’ strips or meaty bones. I got about 22 gingerbread men (the only cookie cutter I had on hand) out of one batch of dough. I guessitimated a half of peanut butter pumpkin man is a serving size for him (he’s a 70 pound Husky), so almost 50 treats from about $4 of ingredients. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Happy Friday, y’all. If I get through my 9 mile run tomorrow, I get to go see Wicked! 😛

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pepperoni rolls.

I think the boyfriend’s West Virginia-ness has rubbed off on me a little bit. The first time I went up to see his family, we were at his dad’s house and he offered me a pepperoni roll. Now I wasn’t hungry at the time, so I declined and used my deductive reasoning skills to figure out that it was bread and pepperoni. Apparently, they are a big deal in West Virginia. Shane told me he didn’t realize they were just a WV thing until he moved out West and couldn’t find them anywhere.

Fast forward a few months and I decided I would attempt to make them one weekend when I was going to Virginia. Well now I can’t stop. They’re so addicting! Seriously, don’t make these. You’ll regret it.

Ingredients:

  • Bridgford Parkerhouse Style Roll Dough (located in the freezer section)
  • Deli sliced pepperoni
  • Will power & self control

Instructions:

  1. Let the roll dough thaw and rise following the instructions on the bag
  2. Flatten out the balls of dough
  3. Put a whole slice of pepperoni in the center and roll close
  4. Bake at 375 for 13 minutes

Per roll; calories 106, carbs 15 g, fat 4 g, protein 3 g, sodium 236 mg, sugars 2 g

For extra spicy goodness, I make half of them with pepperjack cheese.

Oh, and this is Henry when he’s not being disgusting:

henry!

spicy.

The boyfriend likes pad thai…at least that’s what he keeps telling me. I mean I’ve only seen him order it like twice in the past four months, but whatevs. Who am I to judge?

Being that he has an affinity for spicy noodles, I decided to make spicy thai noodles. Now I used that recipe as a guideline and I added chicken.

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The Line-Up:

  • Sesame Oil
  • Crushed, red pepper flakes
  • Honey
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice noodles
  • Chicken breasts

Step 1 – Cut up your chicken breast and cook it in a medium sized skillet on the stove. Or if you’re like me and didn’t decide to have chicken until an hour before dinner, defrost it for a good 30 minutes.

Step 2 – Bring water to a boil and boil your noodles. This was my first experience with rice noodles and I can’t say I’m an expert at it.

Step 3 – Heat sesame oil and red pepper flakes (1-2 tbsp to taste) over medium heat for about 4 minutes.

Step 4 – Strain the pepper flakes out of the oil and whisk equal parts honey and soy sauce into the oil. I used 2 tablespoons in my little batch, 3 tablespoons in boyfriend’s.

Step 5 – Mix sauce, noodles, and chicken together.

Hunter

 

Mine was perfect – and I think Hunter was willing to do anything for a taste.

Shrimpies!

Inspired by the fact that the Pioneer Woman calls shrimp “shrimpies” like me, I decided to throw caution to the wind and to make her shrimpie quesadillas. I had a sick boyfriend on my hands and lots of groceries due to the fact that we are trying to be more contentious about going out to eat, so I picked up some NyQuil for the boy and went home to cook!

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Her recipe is quite easy, and the only trouble I ran into was the flipping of the quesadilla but I remedied that by making half quesadillas at a time. I adapted it slightly to use what I had on hand.

Cast of characters:

  • 1 bag of peeled, deveined frozen shrimpies, thawed
  • 1 can of enchilada (red) sauce
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • mexican blend shredded cheese
  • whole wheat flour tortillas
  • butter
  • sour cream
  • olive oil

Now for the schedule of events:

  1. Thawed the shrimpies and threw them in a bowl with the enchilada sauce
  2. Chopped up the onion and green pepper
  3. Laughed at the boy who was wandering around my apartment in my leopard print Snuggie that was held together in the back with chip clips
  4. Threw some olive oil in a skillet and turn it on high until it was smoking
  5. Threw the veggies in the skillet – disclaimer: do this carefully or you’ll burn yourself with hot oil splatters. Heed my advice.
  6. Cooked them briefly until they turned brown/black
  7. Removed them from the skillet and set aside
  8. Threw shrimpies into skillet and cooked until they became opaque
  9. Removed them and chopped them into smaller pieces
  10. Added butter to the skillet and added a tortilla
  11. Placed shredded cheese, veggies and shrimpies on of the tortilla (and then added more cheese)
  12. Placed a second tortilla on top and flipped

And BAM! There’s a tasty shrimp quesadilla waiting to be smothered in sour cream and salsa.

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best.day.ever.

Have you ever had one of those picture-perfect afternoons? One that you don’t feel restless or like you’re missing out on something else. Well I did yesterday (happy Labor Day to me!). It was one of those effortless afternoons that didn’t require a lot of planning or perfecting (maybe that’s what made it awesome, I don’t know). We went hiking at Raven Rock State Park and it was awesome – minus the sensation of early on-set asthma after climbing about 75 wooden stairs to get back to the trail.

Raven Rock 1

The trails are pretty easy and the views are incredible! It was refreshing to take in some vitamin D and fresh air. It was also pretty cool to hang out with the boy without technology interfering or worrying if my outfit was okay. Plus, he had to stop and pet every dog we encountered and I heard him say “howdy” to at least ten other hikers.  I think I’ve stumbled upon an outdoorsy type. He was rambling on about canoes and camping at one point – I tried to block it out.

boy

That picture is going to irk my mother and sister, who up until now probably thought he was a figment of my imagination.  Boyyy, the back of your head is ridiculous.

After hiking, we stopped at Sunni Sky’s and then finally found our way to the Aviator Smokehouse where I proclaimed, “I deserve man food!” I ordered pork tacos and was definitely the winner of the Who Ordered the Best Meal competition.

piggies

Happy Tuesday-masquerading as Monday!
leah

I heart food.

I like food. I really like food. So much so that that’s all I’m going to talk about today.

I spent this past Saturday morning at Aldi, where I bought two of everything for my one person household. In hindsight, I should have gone to the Farmer’s Market in Raleigh, but it was raining and super muggy. I bought  two bags of grapes, two containers of strawberries, two different kinds of bread and even two packages of mini Babybel cheeses. This probably had a lot to do with the fact I hadn’t had breakfast. Never shop when you’re hungry.

Anyway, I decided to try the fruit cleaning trick I’ve been seeing floating around on Pinterest and Facebook. 1 bowl (or sink in my case) of water, 1 cup of white vinegar, and 15 minutes to soak.

fruits!

I should have taken a picture of the “after” water. It was gross and grimy, but my fruit now sparkles and shines. I would definitely recommend doing this. I used it on my veggies as well. It also forces you to store everything properly instead of just leaving the plastic strawberry boxes half-opened in the fridge.

After a much-needed nap, I decided to make some parmesan garlic knots for dinner. I took a can of Pillsbury breadstick dough and balled each individual stick of dough into a ball. (Frozen dinner rolls – thawed – would work well, too). I melted half a stick of butter in the microwave with a half teaspoon of onion powder and teaspoon of garlic salt. From there, I dipped the balls of dough into the butter mixture and plopped them into a disposable aluminum foil baking pan. I added a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and tossed it into the oven for about 25 minutes. Yum!

noms

Now that I’ve thoroughly made myself hungry, I’m going to go watch the clock until it’s time for lunch at the Taco Trailer. Happy Taco Tuesday, everyone!

Flat cakes!

I thought that my porch would be my favorite thing about the new apartment, but my kitchen takes the cake! It has so much room and I don’t feel boxed in. I have space to leave Kevin the Kitchen-Aid out all of the time; and finally, every little utensil has found a home. Needless to say, I jump at any opportunity to spend time in there.

Sunday night I had to whip up a cake for a work social. I picked out a recipe, pulled on my apron and got to work! I sent this to Sarah since we bought matching aprons in NYC – she told me to make sure the pages weren’t stuck together in the cookbook. I love friends who love Friends as much as I do!

Central Perk

I decided to make a devil food’s cake with oreo and cream cheese filling. I whipped up the cake batter and decided to try a trick I read about on Pinterest. It said that if you wrapped your cake pans in wet towels while in the oven, your cakes wouldn’t dome/would be perfectly flat. Being that the domed cake is my arch-nemesis, I decided to give it a shot. I cut up an old (clean!) dish rag and soaked it for a few minutes. Then I wrung the strips I had cut out and wrapped them around the two cake pans I had. I secured the towels with safety pins. From there, I put the round cake pans onto cookie sheets just to prevent the towels from sticking to the oven rack. See below for details.

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Thirty minutes later, I pulled out my cakes and it worked! I had two beautiful and perfect cakes. I plopped them onto a cooling rack and mixed up the cream cheese and oreo filling (14 oreos, 1 8-oz cream cheese bar, 2 cups of cool whip, and 1/2 cup sugar). I was so proud of my flat cakes that I think I snapchatted and texted everyone I knew who would care.

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The cake got rave reviews. I’m still hearing about it today. One person referred to it as the “chocolate wonder of death” and someone else said they would have paid big time to have the same cake in a restaurant. You’ve got to celebrate life’s little successes every now and then. 🙂

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Smooth operator

It’s official, I’ve found my calling. If this whole MBA business doesn’t work out, I can definitely open a smoothie shop. That’s how good the smoothie I created this morning was. Holy smokes, it was incredible.

Photo Jun 18, 7 52 24 AM

Sorry there isn’t a better picture of it – it was that good. I couldn’t wait to snap an artsy photo.

Strawberry Lemonade Oatmeal Smoothie

1 frozen banana – sliced (thanks for the tip, BKAlderson!)
1 cup of strawberries (I used half frozen/half fresh)
2 Tablespoons non-fat plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup quick oats
1 packet Crystal Light Lemonade to Go
1/2 Tablespoon of chia seeds

Blend in all of the ingredients and viola! One perfect, tangy yet sweet smoothie that keeps you full for hours. That’s why I added the chia seeds. Being a desk-worker and a snack-lover can be a deadly combination and I’ve been looking for foods that keep me fuller longer so I don’t reach for empty calories. This hit the spot! Enjoy!

Food truckin’

First and foremost, I’ve found my new favorite blogging spot. Hello little piece of paradise:

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Now back to the important things! Christopher came down to the land of the pine and accompanied me to a food truck rodeo in Downtown Raleigh. Apparently everything I wanted to do this weekend revolved around Downtown. Good thing my new apartment is only 20 minutes away. We waited 30 minutes for Mexicano from Captain Poncho’s (yum!) and I got my first locopop of the season!

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I learned that you only fit in downtown if you have wayfarers or aviator sunglasses, some sort of ironic t-shirt or tank, and converse or Toms. Clearly, it’s my kinda place.

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Well I’m off to enjoy this weather and read for a bit before I attempt to make quinoa for the first time. Unfortunately, my ombré dyed pillowcases did not work out. Hopefully, my quinoa will be a success! Happy Sunday!

belated friday favorite

I know, I know. It’s Saturday. I don’t have my days mixed up, I just knew that my plans last night were worth postponing Friday Favorites so I could tell you about it. In Downtown Raleigh, they celebrate the first Friday of every month. There are art exhibitions, street performers, and almost every restaurant and bar has a special going on. Three of my dearest friends from work and I decided to go out and celebrate and have delicious food (well one was volunteering at an art exhibit so there were only three of us at dinner). We started our evening at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. I had been to it’s sister restaurant, Chuck’s, a few months back where I was ceremoniously served champagne and the most amazing cheeseburger I have ever had in my life. Some girls want diamond rings and the man of their dreams, and some girls want amazing cheeseburgers and champagne…but I digress. We all ordered chicken and waffles with a different side to share. Now for someone who avoids fried chicken at all costs, I must admit it was amazing. I don’t know if it was the amazing waffle that the chicken was on or if it was because it was drizzled in honey. Either way, I wish I could have finished my meal. Holy cow, it was amazing. I ordered biscuits and honey for the table, there were amazing collared greens and pimento mac & cheese. I’m pretty sure I told the girls that if I were ever in prison on death row that I would choose that meal to be my last. If you’re ever in the Raleigh area, you must go!

#chickenandwaffles

After dinner, we found our way over to Cobblestone Hall at City Market where the Salvation Army was putting on an art exhibit entitled, “Reclaiming the Discarded”. It was fascinating to see pieces of art by local artists mixed in with frightening statistics about human trafficking. I sincerely hope they raised tons of money.

raleighlights

After browsing the art and retrieving our friend who was volunteering, we made our way to Calavera, a tequila and empanada bar. I’ve been there several times, but being that spicy things aren’t my forte I like to stick with a margarita and watch everyone else sweat. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have pillow cases in some hot pink dye that need to be washed. Happy weekend, friends!