Making a Rain Barrel.

z and I went to a rain barrel workshop that was offered by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. There was a brief overview about why rain barrels are useful, environmentally friendly, and cost-saving. We also got to see a demonstration of how to put the rain barrel together before they let us make one ourselves.

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Our rain barrel used to have pickles inside!

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I literally had to climb in to help attach adhesive and a washer to the inside part of the spigot!

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I’d say I did a good job…

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z hard at work!

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We’re proud of our rain barrel!

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We are excited to get Gherkin (yes, we named our rain barrel) painted and in to our yard to save money and water our plants!

Mardi Gras 2014

Last Tuesday was Mardi Gras! As lovers of all things New Orleans, z and I always celebrate!

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Our meal showcased our favorite blackened seasoning blend: Blackened Redfish Magic from Chef Paul Prudhomme (remember when we went to his restaurant!?)

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z read my mind and brought home some Abita!

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abita

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Blackened tilapia, black beans (cooked with the “holy trinity”), rice, avocado, and cornbread!

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For dessert, I made my own colored sugar (granulated sugar and food coloring) to put on top of the baby king cakes.

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(Even though they sort of look like king cakes, these are really just super healthy, vegan cupcakes I made using a mini bundt pan)

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Happy Mardi Gras, ya’ll!

Here’s how we’ve celebrated Mardi Gras in the past:

Meal Planning Rocks.

Remember when we bought a house and were renovating the kitchen…yea it’s still not done, but at least the fridge is decorated and we’re able to use the kitchen.

Meal planning has been a huge help to us since we moved in – it helps us save money, save gas (1 trip a week to the store), and answer the “What’s for dinner?” question! We have successfully meal-planned for each week of 2014 and we’re not stopping any time soon! Here is a sneak peek in to our process each weekend:

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We create a meal plan and post it on the fridge each week! This helps if either of us are out of the house and the other wants to start prepping dinner.

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This week, I knew I wanted to make a big pot of chili and cornbread on Sunday which would help us with leftovers during the week. I first made a giant pot of black beans (from dry beans) with soaked beans, garlic, bay leaves, and epazote. I used this in the chili and saved some because it’s Mardi Gras on Tuesday and we want to celebrate with festive food (blackened fish with rice and beans).

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We typically do one pasta night and at least one fish night which greatly eases the process of choosing meals. After the meals are chosen, I make a list of all the ingredients that we need to purchase as well as other staples for breakfast, lunch, snacks, etc. Please forgive my handwriting!

Side note: I never remember meeting an adult with poor handwriting while growing up and now, at 29 years old, I fear I may be the only “adult” with really awful pen(wo)manship!

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I try to keep all my grocery shops under 100 dollars for the week. Meal planning, and keeping a stocked pantry/freezer, really helps with this goal!

Here are some of the fun, and zero-stress, weeknight meals we have made thanks to proper meal planning:

Parmesan Spinach Quinoa and Grapefruit Avocado Salad

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Pho

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Fish Tacos

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Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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Pizza and Calzones (with homemade dough)

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Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

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Swordfish Curry

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Pressed Sandwiches with Sweet Potato “Fries”

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It feels almost luxurious to have cohesive, delicious meals on a weeknight, but it’s totally possible if you meal plan! We are definitely big believers in this house!

Turmeric and Pancakes (Not Together)

I have been on a turmeric kick lately, all thanks to this Instagram post by Lilveggiepatch and the long list of health benefits!

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Homemade turmeric shot…(convinced my mom, dad, AND little brother to take them too!)

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Turmeric and coconut oil eggs…

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and swordfish curry. Turmeric is awesome!

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Want to know how to incorporate more turmeric into your day? Check out this great post by Mind Body Green: 10 Ways To Get More Turmeric


Now on to the pancakes! z and I got this huge electric griddle from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas. I use it almost every weekend to make a big batch of regular and gluten-free pancakes that we freeze for the week! I typically make blueberry pancakes for z and change it up with my GF cakes.

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I just got a new cookbook: BabyCakes Covers the Classics – after I was finished reading it cover to cover (like a novel), I had to make the gingerbread pancakes!

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spices

pancake batterbabycakescooked cakes

Yum!


I’ll leave you with a random picture of z, Louis, and z’s new wooden 6-pack carrier I got him for Christmas from this Etsy shop: ReImagine UpCycling

He loves to store beer in the basement fridge (yes, we have two refrigerators) and bring them up 6 at a time with his new carrier! Cute.

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It’s a snow day around here, so I’m likely to shoot out a couple more blog posts…

Lovely Lavender Lemonade

It is so warm and sunny today! I’m celebrating by alternating between the hammock and back stoop to write this post! I’m also drinking a new refreshment I made today:

Lovely Lavender Lemonade
1 tablespoon lavender
1 cup sugar
1-2 cups boiling water (depending on how strong you want your syrup)
1 3/4 cups lemon juice
2+ cups ice water
Lemon slices (optional)
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To make the lavender syrup, put the lavender and sugar into a heat-tolerant bowl. I massaged my lavender and sugar together to infuse more flavor but you can leave that step out. Next, add your boiling water to the bowl and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

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Cover the bowl for at least 25 minutes (longer if you have patience). After you have waited as long as you possibly can, strain the syrup into a pitcher.

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Add the lemon juice, water, and lemon slices to the pitcher and stir!

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Pour in a glass and enjoy the sunshine!!

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Homemade Pasta (and a visitor from the North)

Little Margi came to town a couple weeks ago. It was so nice to have a visitor in our new house! We spent the weekend hanging out, having sushi with foca, and making homemade pasta!

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1 egg for every cup of flour.

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SLR selfie.

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z making meatballs.

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New pasta cutter!

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I don’t have a pasta roller…so Margi rolled a lot of dough!

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Oh Instagram.

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so fun. so good. let’s do it again.

NYE 2013

Oopsies – this post got lost in my draft folder! This is how we spent our last night of 2013:

z made blackened shrimp with peppers, onions, and rice before we headed to…

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…the 9:30 Club for Trombone Shorty and Trouble Funk (hooray for go-go!!!).

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There was a balloon drop, champagne, and FREE southern biscuits (veggie for me and chicken for z)! Yum!

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Happy 2014!

Snow Day Catch-Up!

Here in Arlington, we got 10 inches of snow which is 10 more inches of snow than I’d like to have.

I have not updated in a while, but there have been some super fun cooking projects in our house lately! Here is a sneak peek into what we’ve been up to (detailed blog posts to come for some of the recipes)!

Vegetarian pho using this recipe:

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Homemade pasta with meatballs (during Margi’s visit):

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Éclairs from scratch for our Super Bowl Party (z also made homemade meatballs that were a hit):

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Roasted Red Pepper Soup:

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Beer pizza dough for pizza and calzones:

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Homemade tzatziki (to add some love to leftovers):

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z and I have successfully meal planned for the past 4 weeks! It is saving time, money, and the stress of figuring out “What’s for dinner?” Good work team.

 

More to come…unless I get lost in the snow.

Two New Food and Wine Recipes

Whenever we get our Food & Wine magazine, it’s my #favoritemailday.

FW Readers Choice

Z and I each chose a recipe from this issue of Food & Wine magazine. Z’s choice was up first – any surprises that he chose shrimp? Nope, didn’t think so ;)

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He was able to do everything in one pot! Hooray Le Creuset!

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So good. I should have licked my plate.

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Two words: BUTTER, BABY!


I chose the next recipe!

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This is z’s chicken in the homemade tomatillo sauce. I didn’t have any because my stomach wasn’t feeling the best.

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z’s plate! Look at the taco holders – ahh!

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z said the sauce was very mild (we’re used to big flavors and hot, hot heat). Props to my cousin Tony for these two condiments which saved the dish! Phew!

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Trader Joe’s does salsa and hot sauce well!


It’s so fun to experiment – especially now that we have room to cook!

Crouch and Redmon Family Christmas 2013

How did I get so blessed to have such a big, fabulous family?! I love Christmas because it means I get to see everyone! The Barrett Family Christmas was a couple days before and on Christmas day I got to see the Crouch family and my immediate family! Woo!

2010 was our last year with Pop Pop but we are carrying on traditions <3

 

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Can’t wait for next Christmas when my niece/nephew jellybean is here!

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Love, love, love my family.

 

Remember we were in Miami last year for Christmas – it was NOT as warm this year!