Wednesday, April 27, 2011

stuffed peppers

I'd be lying if I said I haven't been dreaming about stuffed peppers since having a delicious plate of them at a Mexican restaurant about a month ago. I finally decided to try them out since I had leftover green peppers from my lackluster quiche. I searched for a recipe but never found one that sounded exactly like what I wanted or I didn't want to invest in so many ingredients. I gleaned a general idea of the process from here and here and decided to make up my own recipe.

Don't laugh, but I have issues with rice. It baffles me. Growing up, I didn't know much existed beyond the white variety and thought it all should take a minute to cook. (No offense, Mom) I have since become aware of the infinite world of rice but am still generally confused by it (and bitter about how long it takes to cook!). Hence the dilemma at my deli last night. The clerk must have thought I was a moron because I reviewed the rice selection for about 10 minutes before picking one up. I might have even walked away, doubted my choice, and went back to peruse the rices for another 5 minutes. 

Luckily, I found a version that didn't take too long to cook up (although anything longer than a minute seems like an eternity). I combined the cooked rice with some onions, black beans, corn and goat cheese then stuffed in all in two cored green peppers. Then I popped them in the oven for 45 minutes. It was surprisingly good! If I hadn't been starving and started the whole process earlier, I would have left them in the oven for a lot longer. My peppers were still a bit crisp. Ideally I would have liked them to practically deteriorate away. Next time I would also add some kind of sauce, like a red or green enchilada kind. Oh! And maybe come chicken would be good too. I swear my version was good, but now I can't stop thinking about how to make it better!

P.S. Sorry about the shrivel-y closeups of the pepper. They taste much better than they look!

Monday, April 25, 2011


It was a weekend of sporadic photo taking, so I will try to piece it together. After work on Friday, we began the weekend celebrating Erik's last day at TBA (a office which caused him many headaches over the two years he worked there) and wishing him luck at Supermass Studio (a new landscape architectural endeavor). We met at Dorian Gray for a drink or two then headed to the Back Room, a semi-concealed speakeasy in the Lower East Side. 

Unfortunately, Kurt and I were double booked for the evening and had to leave the celebration drinks early. One of the designers Kurt works with, Danny Forster of Danny Forster Design Studio, is also the host of a show on the Science Channel called Build it Bigger. The new season just began and we were invited to the premiere party. I got to meet some of the architects and engineers Kurt is working with on a current project and hang out on a cool penthouse near the Highline. We had some good drinks and food and unsuccessfully tried to watch the premiere episode, but the absolute highlight of my evening was...

...seeing Stacy London!! (I swear I'm on the What Not to Wear tour of NYC!) I apologize for the creepy iPhone photo. I was trying to be sly. No one else seemed to phased by the monumentality of this occurrence, so I didn't want to be a crazy fan and try to talk to her. She looks much younger in person and was dressed very hip. I think her on tv persona is much more polished but she looked great in person too. Now the only What Not to Wear team member I have yet to see is Carmindy, the makeup expert. My mom suggested I start hanging out at beauty stores and I am bound to run into her. If you need me, I'll be as Sephora :)

Saturday was pretty dreary. I've been casually looking for a new apartment and met with a broker to see a studio in a neighborhood I like that is a little off the beaten path. It was laughably disgusting and expensive. It doesn't make me feel too confident about striking out on my own. I'm okay with a small space but I can't fathom putting half my paycheck towards a decrepit hole which is most likely in a shady neighborhood. Keep your fingers crossed that I can find something eventually!

After the unsuccessful apartment viewing, Jenn and I took a trip to Mood Fabrics (from Project Runway fame). I had a coupon and wanted to get some fabric to get moving on my chair.

I don't even sew and this place was amazing. There were three levels and what seemed like miles and miles of fabric. There were some gorgeous prints in the home decor section which made me yearn for my own apartment even more. Too bad they were all pretty pricey. I'm noticing a theme here...

I ended up with some textured grey fabric for the chair. It is kind of bland but I have some major plans for a patterned DIY pillow to go with it. If I ever make any progress on these items I promise to share!

On Sunday, the weather was beautiful and HOT. I went for a lovely run in the morning and Jenn organized an Easter feast in the afternoon. She baked a ham and several treats. There were other contributions like an Indiana/Amish specialty of mashed potatoes topped with noodles (not to be confused with pasta). We stuffed ourselves with food and had some good wine and eventually ended up playing several rounds of Catchphrase. It was a great way to kick back with friends and finally celebrate the arrival of Spring!

I wanted to go with an "Easter egg" theme and brought a quiche to the feast. After reading this post, I decided I would try to make it a little healthier and go with the crust-less variety. I'm usually a slave to recipes but took a chance and just mixed some things I thought sounded yummy. In a pan, I cooked half an onion, some garlic, and a green and red pepper. Once they got soft, I added a bit of spinach and cooked until it wilted. I mixed it all in with the eggs, some half and half (maybe not so healthy anymore), and some grated Parmesan cheese. This all went into a casserole dish and I topped with with discs of goat cheese which I had chilled in the freezer and baked it all for a while. It was pretty good but I wasn't blown away. I think my hopes were too high. And I hate to say it, but I think I love quiche for the crust. Butter makes everything better, right?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

surprise gift (sadly, not a puppy)

Look what Kurt brought me at work today! He was in the neighborhood checking out one of his finished projects and stole this little gem for me. Take that eleven02! :) It smells awesome. You would think spring is right outside my window but in fact there are only 50 degree temperatures and rain. One of these days.....

I'm working on becoming an honorary landscape architect, so I'm brushing up on my plant IDs. However, don't be misled by my label. Koreanspice is one word. I lost some major points for that. My professor is such a hard ass :(

Thanks for the flowers, Kurt!

chickpea crazy

For some reason I've been on a chickpea kick lately. They seem moderately healthy and easy to make things with. I think I've reached my quota for a while and will be taking chickpea hiatus, but I did make a couple interesting concoctions.

One time Jenn made some roasted chickpeas at 731. I swear they were the best thing I had ever tasted. I was excited to find this recipe for Kickin' Chickpeas on a new food blog I have been following. I made them once this weekend to take to a BBQ. They were definitely kickin' and were a little too spicy for my taste (although the Martigs loved them). I tried again at home with half the amount of cayenne and a dash of sugar in hopes of making them a little sweet. They are still pretty tangy and the sugar is nonexistent. I brought them to work and they have gotten rave reviews from my coworkers.

It doesn't make much of a difference to buy three cans of chickpeas as opposed to two, so I grabbed an extra and found this recipe on another food blog (can you guess how out of control my reader is these days?!). Yes, underneath that pile of cheese, there are some chickpeas. I made a few amendments to the recipe like using prosciutto instead of bacon and omitting several ingredients because I was lazy. In the end, my pan had too much liquid in it, so the beans never got "toasty" but it was still pretty good. Lots of Parmesan cheese always helps :)  

Monday, April 18, 2011

lemon off

Remember the Pumpkin-Off from last fall (and the infamous Mac-n-Cheese off which happened in my pre-blog days)? Well, we are trying to make a series of it! Everyone's been dying around here for a taste of Spring (I'm not the only one!), so the next challenge ingredient was Lemons!

This was the spread before everyone dug in. We had some delicious contenders. There were quite a few classics as well as some unconventional options.

I'm partial to my own entry of Lemon Basil Pasta. The Pioneer Woman never lets me down :)

Michele's Chocolate Chip Cookies with Lemon Zest

Majo's Lemon Meringue Pie

Kurt's Lemon Water (in our Amsterdam souvenir)

Jenn's Lemon Ricotta Tart

Hillary's Lemon Lasagna

Stephanie's Lemon Icebox Pie

Monica's Lemon Cupcakes

The aftermath :) Once everyone sampled all the dishes, we voted for our favorites. The categories were Best Sweet, Best Savory, and Best Overall.

I placed! Luckily, there were only a few savory entries and Hillary's lasagna took the prize for Best in Show. I got the trophy for Best Savory dish and Stephanie's Ice Box Pie was the Best Sweet winner. We had a great time and left stuffed with lemon goodness. I can't wait for the next cook off! We've got rhubarb scheduled for June and maybe corn in the fall. 

Send creative recipes my way! I have a title to uphold!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Months ago, I got a text from my friend Jessica saying that she had seen Bark on the Food Network and I needed to go have a hot dog in her honor. I pass by it occasionally but had never gone until this past week. Kurt had some friends in town from Ohio and we decided it would be a fun, quirky Brooklyn place to take them.

All their ingredients are organic and local. They even have a long write-up of the farms where they get the food. They even give sources for the wood that goes into the tables and the clean energy they get from the power company!

I thought hot dogs were going to be the only thing on the menu but I was mistaken. They have burgers and sandwiches and even do brunch on the weekends. I decided I needed to stick to the hot dog plan and ordered the Beans and Frank paired with a Sixpoint Bark Red Ale.

Kurt and I also split some cheddar fries. The guy at the register tried to talk me into Disco Fries which are cheddar fries topped with gravy! I was tempted but stuck with the classic for our first Bark experience. There is always next time to go crazy.

I really liked the interior. It was clean and simple but also rustic. This would be great vibe for my next apartment! Now I just need to be on the lookout for an exposed brick wall :)

You can't really make it out but they have several places for your garbage, including a compost bin.

Now, I very much enjoyed our Bark visit but in the end we really just had hot dogs. Yes, the pigs probably came from an organic farm upstate were they had acres and acres of mud to roll around in with all their pig buddies (reminds me of this). I appreciate that. I really do. I just don't think it tasted much different from the hot dog you get at a baseball game which costs five times less. It was good. I just wonder if it is worth the upcharge. Next time I plan on trying out those disco fries and maybe the veggie dog. Maybe I am missing out on the milkshakes too! 

Keep me posted on future restaurant requests!

explosions in the sky

I can't believe I am just getting to this post now! The week before Kurt and I went to Alabama, we saw a great show at Radio City Music Hall. Kurt, Erik, and I bought tickets to see Explosions in the Sky, one of Kurt's favorite bands, months ago as soon as they went on sale. We joked that we got these tickets long before we even considered booking flights.

None of us had ever been to Radio City before and it was such an experience. We don't typically frequent such lavish venues :)

Yes, I was creepy and snuck a picture in the women's restroom. Actually, it was only in the lounge before you get to the actual bathrooms. It was so cool! The space was round with faceted mirrors on all the walls. I can imagine glamorous women lounging on the stools, fixing their makeup back in the 50s. The decor was definitely from a different era.

The stage is breathtaking. The space is enormous and the acoustical panels on the ceiling are beautiful while being incredibly functional. We didn't catch much of the opening bands (Low and Eluvium) but heard they were very good.

It's hard to describe the music of Explosions in the Sky. I think you are best off listening to a song or two on your own. In a very generalized sense their genre is instrumental rock. No singing at all. They barely even speak while on stage. There was a short introduction and a thanks for coming at the end. Kurt was reading a review from the show that noted only one of the band members has a proper microphone on stage. It's sole purpose was for those very abbreviated salutations.

The show was excellent. The music is very powerful and Radio City ended up being the perfect venue. The acoustics were incredible. At times I was afraid it was too good. I was convinced I was going to leave a little more deaf than when I came in. 

It was totally worth it though. The music is all encompassing. It think it is best experienced loudly. The songs seem to blend together without a break. The band members are so engrossed in what they are doing. It was amazing to watch. A highlight of the show was when one guitarist sets down his instrument and joins the drummer for a very intense duet. 

It was a great show. Kurt has been talking about it ever since. I asked him to do a guest post since I wouldn't be able to do Explosions in the Sky justice. He declined but I hope he will add some commentary below :)

Kurt and I have a little bit of Explosions in the Sky history. Back when we first started dating, they were slated to play in Central Park at Summer Stage. Tickets were expensive, so we talked about going to sit in the park and listen since the sound would definitely carry. It rained pretty heavily that day, so we wavered on going at all but decided it would be worth it in the end. First of all, the park is beautiful after a storm. The colors are rich and everything is slightly foggy, almost dreamlike. We found ourselves a bench outside the bandshell and just chatted while waiting for the show. I will save you the sappy details but it was one of my fondest memories of the early days :) Now we've got 2 great shows under our belts!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

rural studio wedding: sunday

Sunday was sadly our last day in West Alabama. We still had many things to see though! After loading up all our bags into the rental car, we drove to Greensboro for a farewell brunch at the Pie Lab.

We had some yummy quiche and salad before a quick goodbye to Charles and Betsy and the rest of my sweet Auburn friends. It was great to see everyone! Kurt and I also got matching t-shirts (not to be worn at the same time) of the state of Alabama screen printed with a catfish print. Then we set out on a very speedy driving tour of some more projects.

Road leading to Mason's Bend

Willie Bell's House (my second year project) and the Papercrete House behind it

Butterfly House

Glass Chapel (didn't Kurt do an awesome job taking these pictures in a moving car while driving?!)

Hay Bale House

On our way out of town we came back through Greensboro and caught a glimpse of one of the town's water towers proudly displaying "Greensboro: Catfish Capital of Alabama". Kurt decided this probably makes them the catfish capital of the world. Something to look into :)

The Pig

We took a brief stop in Newbern to check out "the campus".

Red Barn

Studio inside Red Barn

Wood shop

Fire Station and Town Hall

GB's Store

Kurt settling into the Southern way of life.

Sub Rosa

Chantilly and the amphitheater. Kurt was quite distraught that the Rural Studio doesn't involve landscape architects on projects like these. Whoops....

Spencer House. Thanks for being such a good host, Mackenzie! 

Morisette House. Apparently, the Rural Studio is making a big push to grow a lot of the food they consume, so they are working on a big garden in the front yard.

Great Hall

Super Shed and Pods

Eventually, we had to start our journey back to Mobile for our evening departure. Here we are crossing the Alabama River.

I kept telling Kurt about kudzu and we saw a lot on our drive.

Red clay too :)

Another Piggly Wiggly, this time in Monroeville.

I had this grand plan to take Kurt across Mobile Bay. We purposefully took a detour to the east, so we could take the huge bridge across. Unfortunately, I didn't know which road to take and we ended up on the one beside the bridge. It was still pretty crazy to drive practically at the level of the water.

We were running short on time before our flight but decided to stop near downtown Mobile for lunch/dinner anyway. It was an absolutely gorgeous day (aren't they all?!) so we found a restaurant with outdoor seating across the street from a park where there was a festival going on. I wish we had more leisure time to sit back and enjoy it! Through a random turn of events, we even saw someone we knew!

Eventually we made it back to the airport, dropped off the rental car, and made it to our gate. Unfortunately, our flight from Mobile to Atlanta was delayed. In order to prolong our time in Alabama, we had scheduled some of the last flights of the day. We were afraid we weren't going to make our connection and have to spend the night in Atlanta! It took some running through the airport and begging with the Delta woman at the gate but we just barely made the flight. Phew! That was a close one.

Fabulous weekend! If only I could have brought the beautiful weather back North with us :(
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