Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sweet Potato Dog Food & Dogs REALLY Don't Understand Moving ...

Homemade Sweet Potato Dog Food 

One Sweet Potato
2 TBS peanut butter 
2 TBS flour

Punch holes in sweet potato.  
Microwave for six minutes. 
Cut in half and scoop out soft sweet potato.
Stir in peanut butter. 
Heat in oven at 200 for 5 minutes. 
Mix ingredients again.  

Rasco approves.

Dogs Don't Understand Moving

The first few days we were here, I am pretty sure Rasco thought he was going to die.  He was always on edge and frankly just sad. Every new city sound startled him and when I left he acted abandoned.  But after a week he — and maybe me too — has finally adjusted.  

I was reminded of this awesome Hyberbole and a Half post about dogs moving throughout the first stressful week and I suggest any dog lover read it too. 

But I think we both are starting to adjust and even enjoy our new surroundings.  But more to come on that soon! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chocolate! Peanut Butter! Pretzel! Cookies & Moving

My parents were kind enough to drive a Uhaul cross country for me with my dog in tow.  I cannot do enough to thank them, but I made sure to have these crazy delicious cookies waiting upon their arrival. 

I created a delicious concoction of my dad's three favorite goodies: Peanut Butter, Chocolate & Pretzels. I'm pretty proud of how this original recipe came out and I wanted to share it with you! 

Snapped these pictures at my sister's the night before the big move!

Original Chocolate! Peanut Butter! Pretzel! Cookies 

• 1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter
• 1 cup light brown sugar
• 1 stick (half cup) softened unsalted butter
• 1 egg
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
• 1 cup crushed pretzels
• Half bag chocolate chips (4 ounces)

Cream sugar and butter.
Beat in egg and almond extract.  
Add in peanut butter.
Blend in dry ingredients.
Once everything is blended, mix in pretzels and chocolate chips.
Roll dough into 1” balls and place on greased baking sheet.
Flatten with fork.
Bake at 375 for 12 minutes. 

So I moved ... 

You can take the girl out of New Orleans ... 

I moved to DC officially this week.  But I have kind of been living here for a month ... more on that later.  For now, I would like to share a little about my new apartment.  I am still unpacking, so in lieu of a boring moving post, I am going to share some of my apartment wants from Pinterest. Doesn't that sound fun?

These agate bookends from etsy will look great on my mantle, via Pinterest

I am dreaming about these elephants in turquoise or yellow, via Pinterest

This Anthropologie lamp, via Pinterest

I am obsessed with my new Ikea throw, via Pinterest ... 

So are my fur nephew Louie and my little guy Rasco! 

For more of my apartment wants check out this board on Pinterest

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kugel & The Seder Plate ... A little late!

Ok, I know I'm late. The end of Passover was over a week ago ... 

Last week, Leah and Adam invited Julie, Andrew and me to enjoy a late Passover Seder.  It was my first Passover and I had a great time eating matzah ball soup, kugel and drinking four glasses of wine.  Leah, who shared a Seder recipe with me last year, was kind enough to let me photograph her dinner and provide her kugel recipe.  Thanks Leah!


Leah wanted me to tell you kugel is not dish specially reserved for Passover — just something she wanted to serve at her Seder. She explained that Kugel is not kosher for Passover because noodles contain Chametz. Chametz is a product that is both made from one of five types of grain, and has been combined with water and left to stand raw for longer than eighteen minutes, essentially leaven grain. That's why we eat matzah durring Passover, unleaven bread. Egg noodles aren't kosher for Passover, but they do make some sort of gluten free noodles that you can substitute for Passover.

  • 12 oz wide noodles 
  • 1c milk
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 stick butter (or 3/4 stick)
  • 5 eggs
  • 16 oz sour cream (or light sour cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • cinnamon to taste (I use about 1/2 t)
  • Frosted Flakes cereal

Cook noodles and drain. 
Add next 6 ingredients and pour into 9x13 Pyrex baking pan.
Cover with Frosted Flakes and sprinkle with cinnamon.  (Some people do cinnamon on top but I like to mix it in with the noodles.) 
Bake at 350 until done (usually 30-45 minutes). You may have to cover the pan loosely with foil so the frosted flakes don't burn.

What's on the Seder Plate?

Charoset: (Leah shared this recipe last year) The grain, red wine and raisin mixture seen above.  This dish represents mortar used by Hebrew slaves to build the pyramids. 

Karpas: A vegetable other than bitter herbs (parsley) dipped in saltwater at the beginning of the feast, representing pain and tears. 

Beitzah:  Boiled eggs, a symbol of mourning and sacrifice.  

Saltwater: See Karpas 

Maror and Chazeret: Bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness/harshness faced by Hebrew slaves. In Ashkenazi tradition, either horseradish (seen above) or romaine lettuce may be eaten in the fulfillment of the mitzvah of eating bitter herbs during the Seder.

Z'roa:  Leah's Seder was vegetarian, so we do not see this lamb shank on her Seder plate.  The Z'roa symbolizes the korban Pesach, Pesach sacrifice.  The Pesach sacrifice was a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. Since the destruction of the Temple, the Z'roa serves as a visual reminder of the Pesach sacrifice. It is not eaten or handled during the Seder. 

& the Orange ... 

The story goes, according to Adam and Leah, that a crotchety, sexist rabbi once told a young girl that a woman belongs on a *bimah as an orange on a Seder plate. (A bimah is the raised platform rabbis stand on.) People then decided to show their support for female rabbis by including an orange on the Seder plate. 

This story, though Jews follow the tradition, is false.  Leah sent me a link explaining the real reason for the orange: "The actual story is that Susannah Heschel began the tradition in the early 1980s as a protest against the exclusion of homosexuals from Judaism."

"The orange is now said to be a symbol of the fruitfulness of all Jews, including women and gay people." 

***Leah sent me several explanations copy and pasted in an email with her own notes.  I am not positive where some of where her original links came from and cannot provide proper attributions. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013



So my best friend Haley just introduced me to something lovely (which isn't surprising because she is very lovely)! I'll let Haley explain it to you in this clip from her post

"Natalie at Nat the Fat Rat introduced a social media campaign yesterday centered around lady love. The #MightyLove Project is a way to "positively flood the internet with love," and compliment all of the beautiful and successful women in the world. Between now and April 12th everyone is invited to "spam the internet with compliments to all the women in our lives we are grateful for." If 500 people hashtag compliments by the 12th, Go Mighty will make a $500 donation to a battered women's shelter in New York City. So, today here's a little bit of #mightylove for my favorite ladies."

Haley went on to compliment the wonderful women in her life, and I am very lucky to be one of them. Without further ado, cheers to Haley and the fabulous women in my life!

You are so very kind and it emanates from you. The little things take notice and love you right back. I am so glad to have you in my life — college (and the condo) would have been a lonelier place without you.  You are beautiful, graceful and going to be one formidable lady lawyer someday soon!

My big sister Julie is the best big sister in the world.  How do you write down what someone means to you, when they simply mean everything?  Thank you for always having my back, teaching me things and just being my partner in crime. You are fun, gifted, beautiful (you got the height and the hair), strong and always able to point out the pretty things.

When you came into my life, it got a little more fun.  Thank you for being the most supportive best friend in the world.  I know things that are important to me become important to you, and vice versa.  It is so rare to find a friend that cheers as hard for you as she does for herself.  You are great company, thoughtful, hilarious, pretty and I look forward to the trouble we'll find in the future.

You get stuff done. No matter what, you are there for me.  You have been a third sister to me and Julie and we are both incredibly thankful to have you in our family, forever.  I am so proud of you - Rachael is a doctor.  You are strong, smart, funny, and have perfect skin ... seriously how do you always look so pretty?

My mom is Molly Weasley.  She is that free-spirited, fun, intuitive, devoted and loving kind of mom.  She would take down Bellatrix Lestrange without blinking an eye.  She protects all of her babies, even the ones that turn up at her house (people and animals alike).  I am not the warmest person naturally and I take things too seriously.  My mom introduced me to letting go and empathy.  Thank you mom for absolutely everything. I love you.

I invite all of you to take 20 minutes and really think about the women you love and what a mess you would be if you had never met them. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How to throw a Crawfish Boil

Let's face it ... Crawfish are ugly.  So why do we love these tiny, weird sea monsters in Louisiana?

Today's post is also featured on National Geographic News Watch —where I am a frequent blogger.
This piece is a variation of a previous, March 2012 Old Country post.   

Why do we eat these weird looking things?

Photo by Julie Becnel

It isn't spring in Louisiana without an inaugural crawfish boil. Crawfish (not crayfish) season spans from March to June. Louisiana spring festivities are marked with Crawfish.  I can't imagine Easter and May graduation parties without it. Farming, however, has extended crawfish season year-round — but locals usually abide by spring boil traditions. 

The worship is almost ritualistic, crossing all cultural and age groups in Louisiana. Many populations claim they were the first for crawfish, and possibly they all were.  Crawfish are an easy, abundant food source in Louisiana.  The alien looking, mudbugs were once viewed as rural cuisine.

There are a few guesses at what turned boiled crawfish into a widespread spring staple. (Other than the fact they are delicious and cheaper than shrimp.)

I have heard folklore that the Depression caused Louisianans to stop turning up their noses at a food source.  I'm not saying people didn't eat crawfish, I have seen étouffée recipes that go back generations. [For my crawfish étouffée recipe, click here.]  The boiled crawfish Louisianans so revere has only been popular for decades.

Crustacean cuisine continues to evolve, modern chefs serve crawfish pie, crawfish cheesecake and crawfish sushi, to name a few.

How do we boil these weird looking things? 
According to my Dad ... 

- 50 pound sack of crawfish
- 2 bunches of celery chopped
- 2 bags of onions (3 pounds each) — cut up 1 bag, keep the others whole
- 1 cup of Cayenne Pepper
- 6 garlic bunches, halved (cut horizontally through the toes)
- 6 bags of crawfish boil
- box and a half of salt
- 10 pounds of red potatoes (corn too if you want)
- 3-5 pounds of sausage, optional

Wash the crawfish in an outside tub with hose. Flip them over to make sure all of the bait and junk has been cleaned off.  My Dad warned, "They're going to bite you.” For the best tasting crawfish, purge them twice. 
Bring water in large crawfish pot to boil.
Throw it all in!
Once it boils again, cook 12-15 minutes
Turn it off and let soak in the hot water for 15 minutes
Dump them out and eat!

Seriously, how do we eat these weird looking things?

Photo by Julie Becnel. 

-       Peeling. The process of peeling a crawfish can be a little overwhelming to boil newbies.  So, I recommend this step-by-step guide provided by Southern Living.
-       Beware. Don't eat crawfish with straight tails. It means they were dead before you boiled them.
-       If you love something … Set one free! As a kid, I would always pick one lucky crawdad to set free in a ditch before my dad could boil him.
-       You remember my good friend Tony? Sprinkle Tony’s Chachere’s creole seasoning on top of the boiled bugs.  Seriously, if you haven’t met Tony yet, you should.
-       Abita Beer. Pair spicy crawfish with cold beer. Ever since Louisiana brewery Abita Beer introduced its seasonal Strawberry Harvest Lager, Abita Strawberry and crawfish have gone together like peas and carrots. (This is my personal favorite.) 

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