Friday, May 22, 2015

Five for Friday: Philadelphia edition

Happy Fri-YAY! I am home from my business trip and reunited with my phone, so all is good in my world. Wahoo!

I spent Tuesday-Thursday in Philadelphia for work, and I just have to say that each time I visit that city, I enjoy it more and more. Granted, every time I start to feel like I know my way around a little bit, I end up completely lost, but oh well.It's a great mix of city and not-city, and I always enjoy discovering new things and places.

[source]
Being phone-less for the week, I am pretty much picture-less, too, but I still thought I'd share a few things for Five for Friday! It's been a while... oops.

1 // On Wednesday, my team had lunch at Devil's Alley. My co-worker and I split the daily special, which was a tuna melt (yum!), and the fried green tomato BLT. Both were fantastic. It was a great lunch spot - check it out if you're in the area!

2 // Being in Philly meant I got to see my BFF, Lizzy, for a few hours! She picked me up from my hotel on Tuesday night & we grilled on the patio at her apartment building - it was great to see her and visit for a bit without any other plans going on! Definite perk of this particular work trip. Between our recent girls' weekend and the bachelorette party in Philadelphia, I've seen her several times over the last few months, and I love it.

3 // A co-worker managed to snag dinner reservations at Zahav for Wednesday night, which was a huge deal - everyone was super excited for the chance to try this renowned dining experience. I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into - Israeli / Indian / Middle-Eastern food is not my cup of tea, usually - but I was pleasantly surprised by what we experienced. We opted for the tasting menu, which included a variety of salads to start, multiple small-plate appetizers, and multiple entrees, so that everyone could try a few bites of a ton of different things. With the exception of a few dishes, I enjoyed everything I tasted!

4 // I traveled to Philadelphia via Amtrak - my first train ride! That's a lie, since I ride the commuter train to work every day, but it was my first time on Amtrak. I was very pleased with the service. Will definitely look into that in the future when we are booking trips north.

5 // We took a quick trip through Reading Terminal Market yesterday afternoon before heading out of the city, and I stopped at Flying Monkey Bakery to pick up a treat for the road. Enter chocolate-dipped banana whoopie pies. Ohhhhh my heavens. So delicious! I am already thinking of ways that I can re-create at home. Yum!!

It's wedding weekend for my sweet friend, Brittany, and her fiance - can't wait to see them tie the knot tomorrow and begin their lives together as newlyweds! What fun Memorial Day plans do you have? I'm hoping for a cook out with C on Monday. Burgers on the grill sound amazing.

linking up with the five on friday girls:  Darci, Christina, April,and Natasha

linking up with karli and amy

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Nomophobia

Nomophobia, per Wikipedia, is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

You guys. A horrible thing has happened.

I left my house at 5 AM yesterday, on my way to a business trip. I was all packed up, carrying my purse and backpack and rolling my suitcase along behind me. As I got on the train that would take me to Union Station, I realized something awful: I didn't have my phone.

That's right. I'm currently hundreds of miles from home, on a work trip, phone-less.

It is exactly as terrible as you would imagine.

I have never in my life realized just how reliant I am on mobile technology. The number of times that I went to grab my phone, purely out of habit, is startling. I actually thought at one point yesterday, "but how will I know what time it is?!" before realizing, umm.... clocks.

I am going on 24 hours without a mobile phone. Keep in mind that I have a laptop, a wireless hot spot device, and my nook, so I am completely connected to technology as much as I need to be... and yet I feel like I have lost a limb of some sort! It's absolutely ridiculous how much I feel affected by this. I'm a little embarrassed, in fact. I'm pretty sure this is a sign that I need to make a conscious effort to disconnect a bit more often. Yikes.

Can you imagine not having a cell phone for 48 hours? Has this ever happened to you? I still can't really believe that I managed to leave the house without my phone in my hand... wow.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

One-Bowl Brownies from Scratch

If you've learned anything from my baking adventures around here, it's that I truly believe that everything is better when made from scratch. This mantra applies to cookies, cakes, pie crust, muffins, and - you guessed it - even brownies. Don't get me wrong - there are some really good boxed mixes out there these days, and it's super simple to doctor a boxed mix to get great results. However, with just a smidge more time and patience, you can almost always make something from scratch and have it taste better and get the added benefit of knowing exactly what ingredients went into your creation. I like that.

In the spirit of honesty, I will admit to you that I usually have a boxed brownie mix or two stashed in my pantry - there are just occasions when you need to be able to have something in the oven in two minutes flat! (If you're wondering, Ghirardelli brownie mix is the. best. ever. so don't buy anything else!) Mixes are fine. But for the times when you don't need to use a mix, I have found a fantastic recipe for homemade brownies, which I'm super excited to pass along today!

These brownies are awesome because they only require one bowl, and everything just kind of gets dumped together. This is a "can't really mess it up" recipe, which I like, especially on a weeknight when I want something delicious but not overly complicated. You do the wet stuff first, then add the dry stuff right in on top, mix it all together, and bake it. Almost like a boxed mix! I did everything with a whisk and a spatula, too - no need to bring out the big Kitchen Aid or electric hand mixer. We are keeping the kitchen clean today! Who doesn't love that?



One-Bowl Brownies from Scratch
original recipe from Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
    • Tip: drop in a sauce pan over super low heat and stir occasionally until fully melted, then remove from heat until ready to mix batter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • One 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips

Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. 
  2. Stir together the sugar, melted butter, vanilla and eggs in a medium bowl. 
  3. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder all at once and stir until just combined. 
  4. Stir in half of the semisweet chocolate chips and spread the mixture in the prepared pan. 
  5. Bake until the brownies begin to pull away from the edge of the pan and set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. 
  6. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with remaining semisweet chocolate chips and let stand until the chips are melted, about 5 minutes. Spread the melted chips evenly over the top of the brownies with a spatula. Let the chocolate cool for about 10 minutes, then lift the brownies out of the pan with the foil and cool completely on a rack.

The batter for these brownies calls for three eggs, which makes these a lighter, fluffier brownie - almost like a chocolate cake before you cut them up, but once they've had some time to settle and cool, they do get a little denser and fudgier. The cocoa powder gives them a rich chocolate flavor, without being overwhelmingly sweet.

Spreading the remaining chocolate chips over the brownies, sort of like a ganache, gives a really luscious texture to the brownies - when you cut them, it gets crackly and awesome. Yum! (The picture above is before I spread the chocolate chips out - I was tempted just to leave them dotting the top, which would have been fine. I used a thin spatula to evenly spread them into a nice, chocolaty layer in the end.)

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Weekend to Catch Up

I woke up this morning to weird, dense, horror-movie-style fog enveloping everything in sight... made for a rather ominous Monday morning! Let's hope that burns off and clears up - I much prefer the sunshine!

We have several busy weekends in a row coming up, so this weekend, we decided to capitalize on the opportunity to rest and relax. It was much needed! C & I both needed some time to recharge, and to catch up on things around the house that have been neglected lately.

I can tell you two little guys who definitely didn't mind the break. There were lots of snuggles!

Weekend activities included.... 

Lawn-mowing (not by me). 

Laundry (by me). 

Watching the Caps lose two games (blerg). 

Watching Foxcatcher (so, so strange). 

Burgers on the grill with my in-laws for Mother's Day, along with my favorite pasta salad and fruit salad - summer meals are the best. 

Snuggling with the cutest niece ever.  

Lunching with Aileen and her husband at Vivify (there is nothing better than eating outside on a patio rooftop in this case!). 

Making a giant batch of spaghetti sauce. 

Napping. 

Grocery shopping.

Nothing too crazy... but just the kind of non-memorable, memorable weekend that I like. The little nothing moments that are what truly make up our lives, right? I don't hate it.

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

currently // may

[source]

designing // not a lot... but making some mental plans for what needs to be painted / cleaned / replaced in the house this summer.

enjoying // Paul Simon radio on Pandora - a recent discovery that I really can't get enough of.

ordering // nothing fun! my Amazon Prime purchase this morning was new smoke detectors and a water filter for our refrigerator... see ya Friday.

celebrating // my mama's birthday last weekend, mother's day next weekend, a friend's graduation from DPT school the following weekend, and a wedding over Memorial Day weekend! whew.

tasting // spicy food! I fully partook in Cinco de Mayo yesterday with a guacamole and black bean burrito from a food truck for lunch and enchiladas for dinner. Homemade enchilada sauce is da bomb - although I have a few tweaks in mind for the recipe we used last night.

linking up with In Residence and Gold & Bloom!