Tuesday, February 21, 2012

So The Gimpster and I Bought a House...

Life has been insane lately, as the Gimpster and I bought a house, and closed the end of January.  We had a TON of work to do, with cleaning the house, moving all our stuff, and now painting, organizing, and attempting to unpack.  I have no idea where my camera cord is, so I'll have to show before and after pictures when I find it!

In the meantime, I can say it was a beating.  We spent all Friday after we closed scrubbing the house from top to bottom with my sister's help, while Gimpy changed our locks, installed a new programmable thermostat, and did boy things.  The next morning we got up early, I brought a few bags and beer over to the house, and Gimpy went and got our UHaul.

Moving is always an adventure, but it becomes more so when one has two extremely heavy couches, that don't fit through the stairways.  What do you do in that case?  Send them over the balcony.  Sadly, there are no pictures of that.  Imagine instead 6 people on the ground waiting to receive a heavy couch, and 4 people attempting to lower it down to them, without dropping it.  It was chaos.  

Then came the fact that I have too much stuff.  Seriously, I think it was asked at least 4 times "how does one girl have so much stuff??"  My friend's newish boyfriend was one thing, but my British friend who has eaten out of our acorn shaped soup bowls, and had a three dimensional Easter Bunny cake... should know why I have so many things!

So, we load up all of my things.  It took a while, and was actually pretty funny considering I had thought for a few minutes that we'd be able to load all of my things and then load up Gimpy's stuff and make one trip.

Ha.  What a joke.  Floor to ceiling, look at how absurd this is...
You can see how happy he is...

That's not even all of it.  So, we got all of my stuff over to the house, and started unloading everything.  This was much easier as far as the couches were concerned.  Out of the truck, up about 8 stairs, and into the first room.

So then the guys went back to Gimpy's house, and the girls and I unloaded 23 boxes straight into the kitchen.  Nope, not an exaggeration, and yes, there were more of them that needed to be unloaded... ha.

It was an exhausting day, but we fed everyone some pizzas, and sent them home.  We unpacked a few more boxes, and I made Gimpy take a nap - he was exhausted, and his knees were killing him.  Then we went out for my dear friend Caroline's birthday, and came home and passed out.  All in all, it was an absurdly full day, before a very full couple of weeks.  Stay tuned for more stories to come from the move.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chicken Béchamel Lasagna

A few years ago I made a Chicken Béchamel Lasagna, and my friend Angie has been on my case ever since to make it again, and actually write down the recipe for her!  Last night Gimpy and I were having her over for dinner with a few others, so I decided to make it and actually write down what I did for once.  This lasagna is great, and if you are looking to make it more low carb, you can do it as manicotti instead.  I did that once for a ski weekend because another friend was making a lasagna with red sauce, so I wanted to mix it up.

Chicken Béchamel Lasagna
1 lb chicken
1 lb spinach
7 cups milk
1 lb mushrooms
1 cup onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
1 stick unsalted butter
4 cups shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Balsamic vinegar
Package of lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 350.  Put chicken in a pan, and cover with balsamic vinegar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.  Cool, then shred in the food processor.  In the meantime, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Blanch your spinach and remove it.  Put your pasta in the spinach water and cook until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

Put the butter in a deep pan, melt and add the mushrooms.  Cook about 5 minutes until tender.
Add the onions and diced garlic, and cook until translucent.  Add the flour, and cook for 2 minutes to form a roux.  
Whisk in the milk, and cook 5 minutes until it starts to thicken, stirring occasionally.  Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 2 cups of the cheese, and the spinach.  Cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  
Spray your lasagna pan with olive oil, and then put 3/4 of a cup of the béchamel sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Set aside a cup of the sauce, and add chicken to the pot of sauce.  Begin to assemble your lasagna with a layer of pasta, sauce, parmesan cheese, and continue till your ingredients are used up.  For the top layer, use the sauce that you set aside without the chicken on it.

Cook in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Cut, serve, and enjoy!  Of course I forgot to take a picture of the finished lasagna, but at least I wrote down the recipe for Angie this time!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another Banner Year

It's January 1st, which means that everyone in the bloggosphere is doing a year end wrap up, so I think I'm obliged to as well!  2011 was an amazing year, my life is so blessed in so many ways.  I have the most unbelievably amazing boyfriend, fantastic friends, and a wonderful family.

We started the year with the Gimpster's friends visiting from Virginia, me teaching him how to snowboard and a few celebrations of St Patrick's Day.  Gimpy's brother got married down in Virginia Beach, we had a luau, a suit party, and I ran the Long Branch half in my best time ever (2h 02m)!

The girls and I went into the City for the Derby, and had a blast at the Preppy Pub Crawl.  Gimpy got a new job locally, and we celebrated with wine tasting, hiking, and just having a great day together.  We had some more weddings, more birthdays, and did some boating.

We had a mechanical bull riding party, the girls and I had a killer tailgate at the Kenny Chesney concert, and we hosted a White Party to rival P Diddy's.  For that, I made vanilla pudding shots!

Vanilla Pudding Shots
Packet of vanilla pudding mix
1 cup cold milk
1 cup cold caramel baileys

Mix the pudding powder with the milk and baileys according to the package direction and put it in small cups.  Chill for a few hours, and then take them like a jello shot!  So tasty, it's like vanilla frosting!

We went on the wine bus tour, and did some apple picking.  Had Halloween, twice.  Went on Santacon, which was not very well organized, did some sewing and had the 4th annual 12 Bars of Christmas.  We had a wonderful Christmas in Virginia with Gimpy's family, and got the amazing news that the people whose house we're buying signed the contract!

So we have lots to celebrate in 2012!  I am so looking forward to this year coming up.  Gimpy and I have so much to be excited for.  We close on our new house January 27th, and will be cleaning and moving in that weekend. It's a huge step for us, but I am so ready for this next stage in our life together.

On that, I resolve that I will be much better about blogging in 2012!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

There is a restaurant in town that makes this unbelievable butternut squash gnocchi.  It is the right amount of sweet, salty, and completely delicious; the perfect Fall meal.  I could eat it by the bucket, and so could most of my friends, but at $8 per plate it's not a habit to get into!

The Gimpster and I are house shopping - yes, you read right - house shopping, so our house budget is taking away most of our restaurant and bars budget so I was determined to get this one right.  I need to get the sauce right also, but I mastered the gnocchi!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
1.5-2lb butternut squash
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
2 pinches of cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
3-4 cups of flour
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400.
Chop the butternut squash into little cubes and put in a glass baking dish.  Toss with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and chop the butter into 8 pieces and sprinkle them around.  Bake for 45 minutes until fork tender.

Put in a bowl and mash with a fork until there are no lumps.  Let cool to room temperature.

Add flour a cup at a time until it forms a dough that pulls away from the sides.  It took me close to 4 cups to reach the right consistency.  Flour a smooth surface and your hands.  Put a pot of slightly salted water on the stove and bring to a boil while you begin to roll out the first thing of gnocchi.  

On the floured surface, make sure you have a small pile of flour on the side and put a scoop of the dough on the board.  Roll a long thin piece of gnocchi out, and cut into 1" pieces.  I pinch mine from the sides so they look a little bow shaped, but you can use a fork to give them the traditional grooves if you'd like.  
Drop one into the boiling water and let it cook for 3-4 minutes until it floats to the surface.  Taste it, if it tastes gummy or falls apart in the water you need more flour.  If it is good, roll out all the dough and boil the portion you want to eat.  In a small pan, heat up some butter, pour over the top of the gnocchi, and top with shredded parmesan cheese.  

This recipe ended up making enough that I froze several portions of it.  To freeze, put a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet, put the gnocchi on it and put the sheet in the freezer.  Once they are solid, peel off and put in plastic bags and freeze.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Love Fall, and Especially Apple Picking

There is something magical to me about Fall.  It's my all time favorite time of the year, the crisp air, the beautiful colors of the leaves changing, pumpkin spice latte, boot season, and let's be honest, much better hair weather than the Summer time! 

A few weeks ago the Gimpster and I went apple picking with a small group of friends.  The sad thing was - it ended up being 80 degrees and it was the second weekend of October!  Needless to say, I could not wear any of my cute boots, but we did get to go on a hayride.

The next weekend we were headed to Virginia for Gimpy's homecoming, so I had to figure out something to do with all of my apples aside from the required apple crisp that I made that afternoon.  I wanted to be able to use a lot of apples - I had 28 or so to cut up and cook - so I made two batches of apple cumble coffee cake.   

Apple Crumble Coffee Cake
For the cake:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples

For the crumble:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 350. 

In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time until fully mixed in.  In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add to the wet ingredients a little at a time, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla until all are blended together.  Fold in the apples and pour into a buttered 13x9 baking dish. 

To make the topping, mix the dry ingredients in a new bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or if you're like me and don't have one, two knives.  Pour the crumble over the cake and bake for 35-40 minutes. 

Once I made the coffee cake, I realized I still had a TON of apples left, and I didn't know what I could do with them all.  I don't have the freezer space right now to freeze whole pies or anything!  Luckily a co-worker told me that you can easily freeze apples.  I set off right away peeling, coring, and slicing the rest of my apples so that I now have about 6 baggies in my freezer each filled with 2-3 apples ready to be thawed and used in baked goods all winter long!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy 95th Birthday Grandma

My paternal grandmother is one of the strongest, most amazing women I've ever met.  She married a man she loved and very importantly respected, raised six strong sons, traveled the world, and continues to teach everyone around her on a daily basis.  This weekend, she turned 95, and we had a big family birthday party to celebrate. 

I was in charge of flowers, so I went out to Whole Foods and looked around to see what would be appropriate for five centerpieces on a beautiful Fall day.  I am a big believe that the mark-up florists charge is astronomical, and I know their overhead is huge, and flowers are fragile so they need to have their prices to make a decent living and profit, but I also think with a little imagination you can create something beautiful for considerably less money. 

Gimpy and I went after church to check out the flower selection.  They always have beautiful blooms, and have much more of a selection than other grocery stores, and better prices than a florist.  I picked out some Harvest Bloom roses, which have an interesting meaning - friendship that's falling in love.  I got some beautiful mustardish colored daisies, some hypericum berries, and some greenery.   I think they came out beautifully.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I have been a total slacker this summer.  I stopped working out, went to far too many happy hours, and spent all of August taking care of The Gimpster after yet another ACL surgery.  Don't even get me started on how much I want to pull a Shane Stant on the jerk that maliciously took out his knee...

That being said, I promise to write all about new fantastic barb-e-que foods, the White Party, this year's wine tasting mini-bus, vanilla pudding shots (seriously, amazing), and more.  Starting this weekend - so by Monday there will be a new post.

Little J