Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good soup for you!

Welp, Autumn is just trucking on in these parts. Beautiful leaves litter the ground,
 

sometimes the days are crisp, sunny and beautiful 
 Obviously it's warm enough for the geese to still be hanging around. It's so cute how they all stand on this inner-ring on the big fountain at UW, right under the spray. It's like they're part of a synchronized swimming team. 

Of course, since it's Seattle, it's starting to rain a lot. Luckily for me, I love the rain, especially when it comes to running in it. What an attractive picture for me to share with everyone eh?


 And finally, when I wake up in the morning, the sky is doing this:


 Wah!

The only thing I don't love about Fall is it's tendency to turn me into a hibernating creature.  Instead of eating salad and going for runs like I (kind of) do during the Summer, I now really prefer snuggling on the couch with chocolate covered potato chips (yeah, those heart attacks exist at Trader Joes, and yes, they are as delicious as they sound). So to fight this battle, I turn to healthy and oh so delicious soups.  Let's talk about how soups are the greatest food on Earth and how I am sad that I am just now discovering this. The problem is: canned soups. They ruin it for ya. I would say 95% of canned soups taste terrible, and the other 5% are fine, but still can't hold a candle to the homemade stuff.   Of course those delicious and fatty chowders and cream of ------- can always do something for you, but the crazy thing about homemade soups is not only how delicious they are, but also how absolutely healthy and filling they can be with so little effort. Recently my good friends cauliflower and brocolli were on sale, and so I took that opportunity to find and alter some soup recipes to my liking. The first:

Brocolli and white bean soup, courtesy of my dear friend Maaaatha (as I like to call her) of course.




  • 1 pound (or more) of broccoli, cut into florets, stems thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves (or you know, 6), thinly sliced
  • One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • Shaved Parmesan (or whateva), for serving

  • Steam broccoli for about 3 minutes until tender. Leave aside about a cup of florets for garnish. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add beans and stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Remove from heat and add broccoli; puree in batches in a blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with broccoli florets, toasted pine nuts, and shaved Parmesan.  That's it! Easiest and most delicious thing ever right? Also, make sure to serve with lots of carbs so that you aren't TOO healthy.


    Now, this silky cauliflower soup truly rocked my world. I think I could possibly eat it for every meal for the rest of my life. And would you like to see how easy it is?

    • 1 head cauliflower
    • 2 tablespoons evoooooooo (haha couldn't resist))
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 quart low-sodium chicken stock OR, if like me you only have half a quart sitting in your fridge (you know, from half of it being used for the broccoli soup), make up the difference with skim milk. In fact, I highly recommend doing this modification. Just do some extra seasoning to make up for lack of stock.
    • 1/2 cup finely grated cheese. It said parmesan, I used gouda; cheddar would easily suffice. The motto of my life is "Cheese...it's all good!"
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (I also did some garlic salt and red pepper flakes. Because I am a red pepper-flake addict)
    Remove the leaves and thick core from the cauliflower, coarsely chop, and reserve. Heat the olive oil in a large  soup pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and stock (and milk!) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft and falling apart, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and, using any sort of food processor or blender, puree the soup, and return it to the pot. Add the CHEESE and stir until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Bon appetit! Tastes like a soup with whole milk, cream, all that other stuff, but it's NOT!

    Keep enjoying this frabjous Fall!

    Zoo-tiful

    On Wednesday, when I got out of class at 11, instead of spending all day in the library, Will and I took a field trip to the zoo. I've been trying to get Will to go to the zoo FOREVER, and he has been very resistant. I mean, I get it, we both are pretty big animal lovers who have had awesome first-hand experiences with animals in the wild. So when he says zoos are depressing, I definitely agree with him. It sucks that the giraffes at Woodland Park Zoo live in an enclosure the size of my two room apartment that I feel is too small for the sanity of my baby cats. Last time I saw a giraffe, it was hanging here:

    But, I will tell you this, I would venture to say that I have been to the zoo ("the zoo" being any zoo, but mostly the Hogel Zoo in Salt Lake City, and then the zoo here in Seattle) over a 100 times. Yes, drop your jaw.  Throughout most of my childhood, my family would buy a season pass to the zoo, and then go there, ALL THE TIME, like sometimes every week. We even bought a season pass to the Seattle zoo when we lived in Yakima.  And I truly believe that a large amount of my passion and interest for animals blossomed through these early experiences. Do I wish the world was a perfect place, with no zoos, no extinct or endangered animals, and no habitat destruction taking place? Yeah obviously. However, I think that zoos are becoming top advocates for protecting the environment, and are able to teach the necessity of such mindfulness to youngsters much better than any other source.  Also, visiting the zoo was a BLAST. Yeah, we got a little sad at times (I felt particularly emotional watching the elephants), but I'll stop my preaching (do your part to take care of the world so that future generations can enjoy it!) and let the true greatness of that afternoon shine through!

     I loved all the "uncaged" bird rooms, particularly the rain forest exhibit.  It felt surreal sitting on a bench talking about dinner, while birds of paradise flew around us. 

                    
    The penguin exhibit is also a highlight because you can watch them "flying" underwater. It's beautiful! 



    I always make Will take pictures with fish. I know deep down he appreciates it.


    I think this picture is kind of hilarious. I like to pretend there is kind of a patronus relationship going on. Seriously though, there were four white lady wolves and they were stunning. We spent a solid half hour watching them sprinting around and playing together (their enclosure, thankfully, is very huge) And they looked much more at home in the North West Fall foliage than the lions.  

      See?




    Of course, the best part was spending the day with William, instead of stacks of papers.  It was a new dating activity for us, and a probably one of the last un-rainy days we'll have this year. Though man, was it freezing (the grandpa sweater almost didn't cut it). 








    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Awesome-sauce

     Alright, gonna start this blog off by saying, if you don't know what the title of this blog is referring to, then you're missing OUT. You are obviously not watching Parks and Rec. which is hands down the funniest show on tv right now. And I'm a comedy girl, I watch a lot of funny shows (The Office, 30 Rock, and How I Met Your Mother being the other mains).  This show is so funny that Will and I not only watched all four seasons on Netflix, but we then started over and watched them all again (What? We live productive lives I promise). Seriously, sometimes a scene will happen where I am laughing so hard that I'm like "Wait, gasp, wait, pause, gasp, I can't pay attention because, gasp, CAN'T STOP LAUGHING" Okay, have I hyped it up enough for you? That being said, the first couple times I watched the show, I thought it was really dumb. So give it a few episode chance okay? 
    Now back to the theme: Awesome sauce.  This is not a blog post about an awesome sauce, though I could probably do that sometime too. This is just about things that are absolutely awesome-sauce, Andy Dwyer style!


    -I came up with the best thing to do when people don't log out of their Facebook instead of just changing their status to something lame. Instead, listen to really embarrassing songs on their Spotify account. Muahaha.


    -Went to Ikea yesterday (cuz' remember in my really hard life I have 3 day weekends?) and finally bought frames for some "art" that I bought online. I know, I'm such a grown-up! And seriously, they make my apartment look so schmancy pants. I mean, I haven't actually hung them up yet cuz that's a lot of work for one day, but the fanciness is coming.


    -Thanks to the mantra "Treat Yo' Self!" from Parks and Rec last week, I went and bought some amazing Dove body wash at Target versus the off-brand not as wonderful smelling kind. Cuz' honestly, it takes me like a a year to go through that stuff, so I'm going to spring the extra $1.50.

     -I'm starting to do work in actual schools! In fact, I have three elementary schools I will be visiting this year almost weekly, for reasons varying from job shadowing, research, and field experience. It's fun getting to dress up like a professional grownup (See below) Also, can we talk about how cute elementary schools are? This one class I visited was decorated legitimately like Hogwarts. I wanted to die. Also, all little kids! The way they smile at you and like you just because you are old and therefore cool...great stuff. Can't wait for this to be my full time job (even if there is more to it than just smiling at cute kindergartners).




    -Speaking of jobs....who knows that a school psychologist is? Um, well obviously I do, but gotta say that most people I talk to give me this blank stare when I tell them about my career aspirations. So if you have any interest about learning about a great future career, or just knowing about a person in the school system that may have a strong impact on your children (if you have any) then go here...School psychology...waaa?


    -I made pumpkin bars this week! When I was little, my mom made pumpkin bars every year for our contribution to various Halloween parties.  I've done the same for the past 4 years and let me just say, don't make these unless you have people to share them with because, you know they probably should just be called fat bars that taste delicious. 

































    -Will and I had our three year anniversary this week. We went to this gorgeous, authentic Italian restaurant, Marcellos, with a groupon. Since we both get out of class late on Thursdays we didn't get there til 9, so we had the place and the staff to ourselves. I wish I had taken pictures of how lovely it was. Mostly, I was just so happy that I was out with my amazing boyfriend who still makes me laugh every day  hour. William and I are both struggling students, so we rarely go out on your typical dates of dinner and movies. Luckily I consider going to the grocery store together just about as fun (I think we both get a high off of great bargain finding. Seriously, there is a lot of enthusiastic high fives and "woohoo!"ing going on). William is truly the cream of the crop in human beings.  He is ridiculously smart, incredibly kind and compassionate, crazily talented at lots of things, super funny and silly, obviously handsome, and also, perfect. He is really lucky to have me. And, I love him. When I came home from school he had left me these flowers and this card (oh yeah, he also makes me homemade cards for all occasions).  He will probably murder me for saying this out loud, but he basically wrote a very poetic statement about seasons changing and leaves falling, but our love enduring. Awww. 



    In short, this week was...Awesome sauce

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    The coziest chili

    So fact about me: I'm slowly learning to love to cook.  Before I met William, I didn't know how to cook a thing! Frozen pizzas and rice-a-roni were my daily go-tos.  Then William came in to my life and was like, look, this is how you boil water and make rice, this is how you cut vegetables and eat them, etc. It was revolutionary. However, once I started living in the same city as William, and Nicole for that matter, I stopped cooking because they were both so effortlessly good at it. For example: William will be like oh, I'll just take some eggplant, and carrots, and potatoes, and spices, and pasta and blah blah blah and then just whip up this amazing, unheard of dish that is phenomenal. How can I compete with that?  As he continues to tell me, by practicing. He is such a know-it-all. But he's also right.  So after finding like, the most all time amazing chili recipe ever, and using it and perfecting it to my very spicy-loving tastes twice, I am ready to share it with the world. Just to warn you, I'm a dash, and estimating kind of cooker.  I really never know exact amounts, and really, who doesn't change things up a bit to fit their personal tastes? So just go with me, and be willing to experiment.  Don't be afraid to add more veggies, beans, or whatever, just keep in mind to up the liquids (like the tomatoes or wine) to keep it saucy.
    What you'll need:

    -1lb ground beef (I don't eat meat that often, but this chili is so good I've started keeping an eye out for when ground beef is on sale just for this meal. I think it would be good, but not amazing with out the beef, if you're thinking of keeping it strictly veggie.)
    -About a teaspoon each of sage and thyme. I honestly had some sage on hand and then threw in some italian seasoning and called it good.
    -3 cloves of garlic (at least!) minced
    -1 yellow onion, chopped
    -1 jalepeno pepper, chopped (seeds removed)
    -1 anaheim pepper (for more spicy) or bell pepper (for less), chopped
    -1 tablespoon chili powder (I use WAY more)
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (also use WAY more)
    -Red pepper flakes, to taste
    -Salt and pepper, to taste
    -1 cup red wine (it says burgundy, but I just grabbed a $2 bottle of the merlot at Trader Joe's cuz' some lady's comments said it tasted good, and yes, it does, so I feel like any smoky, cheap red you can find would probably turn out nice)
    -1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
    -1 16 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
    -1 16 oz . can corn, drained
      (Meat before adding any of the liquids)

    Brown meat with sage, thyme, and garlic, add onion and peppers, sauteing for 5-6 minutes until translucent. Add spices, stirring until they you know, mix in. Add cup of wine, let simmer until liquid reduces by half (this doesn't take long).  Mix in tomatoes, bring to a boil.  Add beans and corn.  Let it sit covered on medium-low heat for...the recipe says an hour, but it really only takes a half I would say, so taste-test often. Top with sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, whatever! Serves four (or two really hungry people for the whole day).

    Enjoy while watching football on a drippy, fall day with your best eating-buddy!
     
     First day busting out the slippers!
    Oh yeah,p.s. I also got these shoes, and this awesome table cloth at Value Village this weekend for $10 total. Thanks shopping gods! 



    I keep on fallin'

    I'm having a hard time getting back into the school frame of mind after a perfect, relaxing fall weekend!
    Today was supposed to be wake-up-at-the-break-of-dawn-day, write-that-paper-thats-been-stressing-you-out-day.  Instead, I woke up and it was GORGEOUS. So change of plans, it turned into walk-around-Green-Lake-wearing-your-new-boots-holding-you-handsome-man's-hand-and-Starbucks-in-the-other-day.  Much better day right? Happy Monday!



    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Happy Birthday Best Friend :)

    Today in class, instead of paying attention, I started writing a list about all the things I love and appreciate about Nicole Capalungan. Cuz' it's her birthday folks!  Here are just a few:
    1. She's an amazing cook. I would commit heinous crimes for her a)lasagna rolls b)chicken marsala and c) fried rice.  Mmmm, fried rice. 
    2. Nicole and I can easily talk each other into things.  I have many ugly items sitting in my closet thanks to her supporting me in buying them (remember those motorcycle boots I loved this summer? I have never worn them, and also, I hate them).  I, conversely, can easily talk her into getting McDonalds at 1am, watching crappy movies that I really want to watch, and (sometimes!) going running with me (I would like to know if ANYONE else has been successful in that feat...cuz I doubt it).
    3. I love that Nicole will get McDonalds with me at 1 in the morning, or ice cream just because we deserve it, or sushi because it's been a hard day.  I think I may be hungry right now. 
    4. Nicole is the funnest person I know (see reason 3). I know that every one of her friends will agree that when Nicole is around you are guaranteed to laugh A LOT. Like pee your pants, tears come out, stomach hurts laugh. And it's not even like she's this big joke teller (haha though she is wonderfulllly sarcastic.) She just knows how to make everything fun.
    5. She laughs at my jokes, and I'm not that funny.
    6. She introduced me to William, and has always been our number 1 champion. It's also nice having your best friend and boyfriend be such good friends because then you can live the Lizzie McGuire dream (sorry Nicole, I'm going to make you be Miranda). 
    7. As a girl whose moved around a lot, having a close friend for 9 years (can you believe it's been 9 years???) is a big deal. It's fun recalling the day we met, the conversations we used to have walking home from school as our little 13 year-old selves, the sleepovers, and dances (and also practiced dance moves at sleepovers).  As I was trying to pick out pictures for my little picture timeline you're about to see, I realized that Nicole and I haven't done many momentous things together.  Yet some of the best memories of my life involve driving around for hours in her car, visiting her in Bellingham, watching movies in her bed, moving to Seattle together, sitting on our front porch late into the night talking.  Like I said before, it takes very little to have a good time with Nicole. 
    8. We live together EXTREMELY well. Last summer we shared a tiny bedroom in a godforsaken house with no water for two months-- both going through personal emotional crises-- and we also simultaneously had a blast (we went to a lot of movies--ask us about the end of Eclipse! Great story). I honestly don't think there is another person in this world I could have done that with and not murdered them while they were sleeping next to me in our tiny bed in our tiny room. 
    9. Nicole has been there for me through some of the absolute worst moments of my life. It's crazy because sometimes the hardest moments in our life have been similar, and have been happening at the exact same time. At those moments, it's been great to have my friend that I can drive around for hours with that makes me laugh til' I cry. 
    10. She's pretty and I get to borrow her clothes!


    And now....a short photo timeline. 



    :)

    Nicole and friends visit Cassy at college (mainly just for Taco Johns)

    Cassy and friends visit Nicole at college 
    This was like the ONLY picture I could find of all 3 of us? I think because usually, one of us is taking the picture (and by one of us I mean Nicole or Will, cuz I need to be in all pictures)

    College is over!(kind of)

    Bellingham roomies!

    Seattle roomies!


    Nicole's birthday last year!

    Our most recent picture together- Boating on the 4th of July

    Happy birthday lady! Love you boo!

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Happy Monday!

    Last night the boo and I went to our company party that took place at Lunchbox Laboratory.  Yes we work at the same place....though we've never worked at the same time, so it works out.

    Anyways, one reason why this event is noteworthy--besides all the free stuff and good times that were had--is that I took the Seattle bus for the first time to get there! I get a free bus pass with my tuition...er, well it's not really free, but its a required fee, so I just pretend its free... but I live pretty much in walking distance of everything I need in my life (school, work, Trader Joes) so I never use it. And then William drives me to Target of course, so I've just been waiting for the perfect opportunity to try out the bus. Obviously I would never have taken a night time bus to downtown Seattle without Will as my protector, but since it would mean no driving around trying to find parking, he was game for the bus plan, which worked out great.  I, being the journalist that I am, asked all the hard, piercing questions like "Do you think the seats located in the accordion connecting part of the long bus are the most dangerous to be sitting in if the bus gets in an accident?" and "How will we know when to get off?"  Luckily, Will knew where to get off, and how to get back home after the night was over, so all the bus riding disasters that you could think of, and that would probably make this blog more interesting, did not happen.

    And in case you were wondering, the party was almost as cool as the bus!  They had a photo booth that not only put the pictures online for you to download, but also printed you out beautiful, glossy hard copies right on the spot.





    I promise there were more people at this party, and that we actually spoke with them, and did not just hang out by ourselves.


    So for some reason I woke up at 6:30 this morning (the reason being my cats loooove to schedule romping time at 6:30 in the morning), but I don't think most of my co-workers will be rising as early (it was an open bar situation).  Luckily, our work scheduled a 10am CLEANING PARTY to make sure that everyone doesn't waste their day away.  How nice of them right? So I have that to look forward to in a few hours, and then only one class on Mondays  (statistics! for 3 hours! I know, it's like 3 parties in 24 hours).  Anyways, I'm feeling like it's going to be a great week. I'm off to have some raisin bran. :)