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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jack Daniels Distillery

So this weekend, my fabulous grandmother and aunt came to visit as a (very) late Christmas trip!  There's really nothing to do here that isn't outdoorsy, and it was pouring rain all weekend, so...we sat around bored and talking for the most part.

On Sunday, we went on the Jack Daniels Distillery Tour in Lynchburg, TN, which is only a ~30 minute drive for us.  The tour is about an hour and a half long, and really fun.

It's pretty crazy though, when you think about it, because Moore County (where it's located) is a DRY county.

(Yes, you read that right)

One of the biggest whiskey manufacturers in the world is located in a place where it's illegal to buy, possess, or consume alcohol.

This means that there's no free tastes on the tour (although in all likelihood, you WILL get a serious buzz from the fumes), and that you can only buy Jack in "commemorative bottles" in the White Rabbit Gift Shop.

On the plus side, you get free lemonade:)

They have all sorts of cool historical things, like these fire trucks from the early 1900s:

Another interesting fact: Jack Daniels started making whiskey when he was 7, and started operating his distillery at 16.

Statue of Jack, who, I'd like to note was only 5'2 and wore a size 4 mens shoe.  I'm pretty sure the statue isn't life size because I'm 5'5 and:

He was a very surly looking man, haha:)

I also got a fabulously huge (and completely practical, I swear!) gift from my grandma that I'll update about later:)

Until Next Time,


Friday, January 20, 2012

Monarch of the Glen

Honestly, this isn't really a post about anything in particular, it's more of a ramble about a show I recently found on Netflix (I spend way too much time on that website, seriously).

Anyway, it's called Monarch of the Glen and it's totally fabulous.

It's funny.

It's filled with beautiful scenery of a place I desperately want to visit (Scotland! Sigh!)

And what tops it off like fresh whipped cream on a luscious chocolate cake?


(Also, am I the only one thinking of the aforementioned cake?  Yes?  Damn...)

The show isn't just about that gorgeous man, though.  It involves the entire family, as well as some other people from the village.

The show is funny, heartwarming, and all around amazing.  It's called Monarch of the Glen, and everybody should watch it:)

Until Next Time,


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Random Things I'm Obsessed With:)

From top left: Borgia, Vegetarian paella, Downton Abbey, the Arctic Circle, Greece, Elizabethan Blackwork, Rome, Lugano (Switzerland) & the Big Bang Theory

What are some of your obsessions?  Let me know in the comments!


Until Next tIme,


Sunday, January 15, 2012

10 Dishes I'm Determined to Make This Year

                                          Vidalia Onions Stuffed with Rice

                                           New York Times Vegetable Paella

                                           Potato & Cheese Pierogi

                                           Pasta Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino

                                                       Chocolate Bourbon Cake

                                             Smith Island Cake

                                                        Sixlets Cake

A good falafel sandwich (although I'm fine with just finding a good restaurant that serves this)

                                                  Baba Ghanoush

                                           Soft Pretzels

My mouth is watering just thinking about these!  If anyone wants to join me in my culinary adventures, I've linked to the websites I'll be using.

Happy Cooking!

Until Next time,


Friday, January 13, 2012

Sour Cream Cookies

Sour Cream?  In cookies?

I hear what you're saying, believe me.  The first time I came home and saw these delicious looking cookies, I was more than a little disgusted when I found out the secret ingredient.

Trust me though- these are delicious and addictive.

They're not particularly waistline friendly though, so keep that in mind, although it helps that the recipe only makes a few.  I indulged in the cookie dough, so the recipe only made 16, but if you refrain, you could possibly get 18-20 (if you're lucky).

For the cookies:

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and egg.  Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients, then combine thoroughly.  The dough will be very soft and difficult to handle, so refrigerate for at least an hour, although overnight is best.

Don't expect the dough to get really firm, because it will be fairly soft straight out of the fridge.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on a greased baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes at 425 degrees fahrenheit (I had to bake mine for almost 12 a batch, so mileage may vary!).

While the cookies are baking, mix up the burnt sugar frosting (which doesn't taste burnt at all, just delightfully rich!)


2 tablespoons butter (do not use margarine or something like Country Crock.  It will turn out bright yellow and horrible.  I know this from personal experience!!)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 teaspoons hot water

Melt the butter in a small saucepan until golden brown.  Then combine the rest of the ingredients, adding the water by spoonfuls until you achieve the right consistency.

When the cookies are cool (or not hot enough to scald you), frost the cookies, and devour like a maniac (or share, it's really up to you).

I know these sound weird, but just give them a try!  So delicious!

Until next time,


(Recipe adapted from "The Best of Country Cooking" 1998)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Back to School


I was absolutely not looking forward to my classes this semester (and to be honest, I'm still not), but a good/decent/minimally entertaining professor will go a long way towards alleviating college-induced stress.

Take my history professor for example:



So, being a History major, that goes a looooooooong way when it comes to making me enjoy classes more:)

Other than US History, I'm taking Psychology, English Literature, Biology, & Math (ugh) for a total of 16 credits. Originally I was scheduled to take 17, but as I casually mentioned before, my German II class was cancelled at the last minute due to low enrollment, so I had to quickly sign up for a 3 credit class at the same time.

Anyway (if you can't tell), I really have nothing to write at the moment because the cookies I'm currently baking are refrigerating (but those can be posted about tomorrow!).

So just for funsies, an excellent way to remember to use proper grammar:

Until Next Time,


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Black Bean Soup & Dean's List

I've been wanting to make this for what seems like ages, but I kept putting it off because it seemed (wait for it) "time consuming."  For the most part, this requires almost no hands on time, but it takes care of itself when the beans are soaking overnight, and simmering during the day.

Winter makes me feel lazy, I suppose.

In other news, I made the Fall 2011 Deans List!  I've never made it before, so I'm super, incredibly excited.  I thought I was definitely out of the running because of the two B's (because two B's disqualified me for it last year), but they didn't!  I was pretty depressed because I start school on Monday, and I loathe my school, but I'm actually not dreading it too much anymore (even though they cancelled my favorite-class-ever, German II.  Thought I was going to cry after that).

Anyway, ingredients:

1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight
8 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely (preferably in a food processor, because we all know how much cutting onions sucks)
8-10 baby carrots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
One 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (undrained)
6 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
dried cilantro for a garnish


1. Soak the beans overnight and drain the next morning.
2. In a large pot, combine the beans, the 8 cups of water, and the two bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for an hour and a half.  Drain the beans and discard the bay leaves.
3. In the same pot (but without the beans in it), heat the olive oil.  Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and sautee until fragrant and partially cooked (five minutes or so).  Poor in the tomatoes, beans, stock, oregano, cumin, salt, and cayenne.  Simmer for thirty minutes.
3. Transfer three cups of the soup to a food processor and blend, then recombine in the pot.  You can process more if you want it thicker and more stew-like, or less if you want it thinner and more soup-like.
4.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with a little cilantro.  If you're the "think-ahead" type, you can use fresh cilantro, but since I'm not, I used dried (worked just fine).

This soup makes (in technical terms) a "butt load," so it's great for a pot luck, a big family meal, etc.  I took half the leftovers and froze them for a later meal, which is great if you live by yourself (or just have a couple people in your family).

It's also a good idea to freeze this in single-serve portions, because I know a lot of us have vowed to save money this year:)


Until Next Time,


(Recipe adapted from Vegan Planet)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award!

Imagine my surprise this morning when I opened gmail and found that I had a comment on my previous post alerting me that the lovely Katie from fireworksxo had given me the Versatile Blogger Award!  I have to say, this absolutely made my day, if not my week:)

Soo along with the award comes some responsibilities:

1. You must thank the person who awarded you the award including a shout-out with a link on your blog.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Send the award on to 15 other bloggers whose blogs you like to read and let them know about it.

My Seven Facts:

1. I was born in Germany, but grew up in the U.S.  Next year I'm moving away (although to where depends on my transfer application acceptances!)

2. I had a short story published last year on Squawk Back.  Still not sure if I recommend reading it or not.  In the same vein, I wrote a full length (500 pages) novel when I was ten that I'm still editing (spoiler alert: it kind of sucks!).

3. I'll try anything once, as long as it doesn't interfere with my morals (so no eating animals/bugs, or purposefully hurting another person.)

4. I can't stand silence, and as a consequence, fall asleep watching NetFlix every night.  It's usually a documentary, like The Dark Ages, but I also frequently watch American Dad.  I can personally attest that falling asleep watching something can influence your dreams.

5. My lifelong goal is to visit every country in the world.  At this point in time, I've visited 7%.  Another goal is to be a History Professor of the Italian Renaissance, and produce/star in documentaries.

6.  I love to act and got a standing ovation in the last play I was in.  If I weren't going into History, I would definitely try to go into acting.

7. I seem to attract natural disasters: I've lived through almost a dozen hurricanes, two earthquakes, two tsunamis, and a near plane crash over the Pacific.  I am thankful for every day I'm alive, but I seek to conquer my fear through insane activities.

Bloggers I love:

1. The Creation of Beauty
2. Stokely Rainbow
3. Sweet Confessions 21
4. West Street Glamor
5. Life of a Sweetaholic
6.You Know You Love Fashion
7. Rosie Anna x
8. Peacefully Watching
9. The Written Escape
10. What The Shoe
11. The HF Blog
12. Left Banked
13.A Ti Te La Voy a Contar
14. A Typical English Rose...
15. Mi vida, My Thoughts

I can think of many more bloggers that I would love to include, but can only list 15.  Much love to everyone who reads my blog:)

Until Next Time,


Monday, January 2, 2012

Vegan Dinner: Rice with Beans & Vegetables & an amazing mug brownie!

I finished todays workout absolutely famished and in the mood for something healthy.  I opened the refrigerator and found....leftover pizza, a zucchini, and a bag of carrots.

*overly dramatic movie scream*

I was absolutely not feeling the pizza, so I thought a minute and remembered a spectacular vegan burrito recipe from the "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch" recipe book.  The only issue was that I'm (gasp!) out of tortillas!  I decided that the filling was good enough to eat on its own, and used the recipe and the scant ingredients I had to whip a bowl of rice with beans and spiced veggies.  Even my dad, who didn't care for it in a burrito, liked it this way (or at least he said...).  I'm thinking perhaps it was the broccoli in the original  dish that he objected to, so that's that.

Below is what I used, but I'll also include the original recipe if you'd like to do the original (although we're not big on squash in our house, so we always skip that).

For the rice, make it the same way I detailed here, or make a pot of brown rice according to the package directions.  To make the beans, empty a 15 ounce can of black beans into a saucepan or a microwave safe bowl and heat until hot.

Original Burrito Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut or extra virgin olive oil
one yellow squash, diced
one green pepper, diced
one mild green pepper (like an Anaheim) diced
1/2 red onion, diced
one zucchini, peeled and diced
four cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice, tortillas

Like I said before, I didn't have all that, nor was I feeding four people.  I made enough for my dad and I, plus enough for tomorrows lunch for one person.

Modified Recipe:

A swirl of extra virgin olive oil
one zucchini, peeled and diced
6-7 baby carrots, put through a food processor and chopped into tiny bits
a small palmful dehydrated onion (or a tablespoon or two of the regular kind)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon of lime juice

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the carrots.  Cook for a moment or two, then add all the spices, plus the garlic, onion, and zucchini.  Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the lime juice.

It really doesn't get much easier than this, and its not only delicious, but healthy- which in my opinion, makes it taste even better.

Of course, what's even better than dinner?


This is a recipe I found ages ago, and have continued to modify until it suited my purpose.  You can use any kind of liqueur, water, or milk in place of the raspberry, but that's what I have (and like), so that's what I used.

Cocoa can be varied based on your personal taste, but I like mine rich and chocolatey.


                                                  Half-baked the way I like it.

Warning: This is incredibly rich.  I always share with someone because it's simply too much for me to eat on my own.

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon cocoa
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur (I used Chambord)
2 tablespoons canola oil
chocolate bits to sprinkle on top (totally optional, but oh-so-delicious)

Combine all the ingredients and microwave for 45 seconds (if you like hot, melty, half-baked brownie goodness) or the full two minutes if you want it done.

Original recipe found here.

Bonus: adorable cat story:)

My cat is pretty smart. Like, above average smart (at least in my opinion).  She changes the channel on the TV when she doesn't like what I'm watching (and always somehow switches it to Cartoon Network. Hmm...), and opens cupboards and closed doors.  It's pretty cute, if occasionally irritating.  Today, however, I walked into my room and found that she had turned on my electric blanket and crawled under it, napping peacefully.  I've never seen a cat turn on an electric appliance before and it just bewildered me.

                                               The mischievous feline herself:)

Hope you guys enjoy!

Until Next Time,