man, am i tired

All that traveling has really taken a toll….

I’m pumped mentally to start sorting/purging/packing for the BIG MOVE in a couple weeks, but I think I’m a little overwhelmed into inaction…at least this morning.

There are still SO MANY other random things on my mind, like, “Should I get new bedding for the guest room?” and “How am I going to lose these sneaky pounds that have crept back on before the wedding?” and “I wonder if that English class I took at PSU will count for the Diversity credit at Buff State?”

And, will I ever get together with Regina for her birthday?!

Thankfully, Andrew kept the house pretty clean–dare I say, spotless–so at least I don’t have a ton of THAT stuff to do today.

But, before all that, I must clear my brain and enlighten you with details of my trip!

Let’s see, where did I leave off….?

Oh yes!  A gas and coffee stop on Wednesday morning after leaving the driveway in the dark at 4:58 a.m.

And this is what greeted me upon my arrival in Carmel at 1:30:

A happy grandma and a light lunch!

We ate a bit, then we both snoozed (I think) before heading out to dinner at Seasons 52 with the Richters.  I got Ahi Tuna but it was too done.  Next time: RAW seared only on the sides!

We filled the subsequent days with lots of shopping, errand-running and yummy food. Here are some snippets:

Lunch at Le Peep, where (in true Holly-fashion) grandma and I split an omelet and blueberry pancakes.

Later that night we ordered Bazbeaux Pizza (the Genova–with eggplant and goat cheese!) with salad while watching…

…the opening ceremony of the Olympics!  I am, four years later, STILL disappointed I didn’t catch the Beijing opening ceremonies.  Note to self: carve out a night in July four years from now to watch the next summer Olympics’ opening ceremonies.  (I did view a few YouTube videos, though, to satisfy my curiosity.)

We’d picked up cheesecake to-go, so we enjoyed some of that while watching what was going on across the pond.

While in Carmel, I got some Chick-Fil-A…my usual: a one-strip kid’s meal with fries.  That concoction you see below is a ketchup/light mayo/hot sauce mix.  I dare you to give it a try!

We spent my last afternoon at the movie theater, seeing Brave.  I really enjoyed it–it was funny and touching.

That evening I headed out of town and stopped in Dayton to stay with our friends, Jen and Dave, and see Emily and Dan, who just moved into their first house!

After I took an early-morning tour of the place, all seven of us headed out to breakfast at Mimi’s (because, and I quote Emily: “Andrew isn’t here to veto it.”)  I miss this crowd!

dinner x 2

I didn’t get a chance to post this last night, and my breakfast wasn’t anything worth taking photos of (although I did add frozen cranberries to my smoothie this morning–a first for me), so I figured I’d lump the photos in with tonight’s dinner.

I’ve been on what seems like a constant quest to empty out our tiny freezer here, which is filled with my stash of nuts and frozen fruits, among other things.  I had one pound of beef remaining, and I didn’t want to make burgers.  Sloppy Joes it was!  I found Ellie Krieger’s recipe in the cookbook of hers’ that I brought with me to the hotel.

It’s made with lean ground beef, the usual ingredients (red pepper, tomato sauce), flavorings (molasses, Worcestershire sauce, etc..) and one from left field: pinto beans.  As per my usual modus operandi with beans as an ingredient, I added half what the recipe called for.  I do this because Andrew isn’t a huge fan of beans (who am I kidding?  He doesn’t like them.), but I feel the need to at least try to stick to the integrity of the recipe, so I just use less.  Or another variety altogether.  Neither Andrew nor I like kidney beans, so I’ll sub pinto or white beans sometimes.

Beans fall into the “try them until you like them” category for me.  There are so many things I hated as a kid that I now like (or at least don’t hate) as an adult because I’ve continued to eat them.  I mean, I don’t LOVE beans, but I know they’re good for me and that they can be wonderful in certain dishes, so I eat them.  And come on.  How old are we? We can’t always eat only what we like.

I served Andrew’s sloppy joe on four leftover hawaiian sweet rolls that I kept intact and then sliced down the middle.  They created a nice, large bun for his sandwich.  I used some leftover dressing from the quinoa for a spinach salad I whipped up.  It was all green (spinach, celery, green onions and cucumbers) with some dried cranberries for color and sweetness.  Apparently, Andrew didn’t like the dressing (although he didn’t complain about it on the quinoa), so he pretty much turned up his nose at the salad.  Oh well.

I do have another recipe for sloppy joes I’ve used before that he said he prefers, so I’ll either use that next time, or maybe I’ll come up with my own.  I don’t normally do that (I really like using recipes from my cookbooks–it’s like crossing things off a list), but I really would like to make a healthy, from-scratch version that tastes like the canned stuff you get in the grocery store (because that’s what Andrew wants).

Anyone have any recommendations?

Tonight I made another of Ellie’s recipes, this time her Curried Butternut Squash Soup.  Yet another meal driven by freezer contents, this one used up a bag of frozen squash puree.

Barefoot Contessa has multiple butternut squash soups, to include a curry version, so I’ll have to do a “butternut squash soup cook-off” sometime this fall to determine our “go-to” soup.  I love doing cook-offs with recipes I have in cookbooks.  There is just something about having made all the different versions and definitively picking a winner that gives me such satisfaction.

Both Andrew and I really liked it.  It definitely had a strong curry flavor, with just a hint of sweetness.  And so easy to make (especially when the squash is already cooked and pureed!); you basically saute some onions and garlic, add chicken stock, curry and squash and boil.  I pureed it in two batches in my blender since the onions were still in chunks.

I served the soup with an eggplant and yogurt dish I’d torn out of a Food Network magazine forever ago.  Another easy one, you just cut up eggplant, roast with shallots and garlic, then dress with yogurt and dill and toasted walnuts.  YUM.  Unfortunately, Andrew took one bite and declared he wouldn’t eat it, so I ate his, too.  (I’d anticipated something like this, so I wisely divided up the two servings of eggplant into three smaller ones, so I really didn’t end up eating that much.)

They may not have all been home runs, but I enjoyed making them all and writing notes down in my cookbooks.  I’ll be feasting on leftovers tomorrow!