Wednesday, November 30, 2011

first of many

here's the first of many posts about christmas. this year i'm decorating from the outside in. can't wait to show you the rest!

bought the wreath + accessories at michaels... all 40% off! and brandon even helped me design it!

wintery doormat

little bunny was excited to try on her santa hat

Monday, November 28, 2011

RECIPE: Baked Zucchini Sticks & Sweet Onion Dip

One of the first recipes I discovered through Pinterest is one from the official King Arthur Flour website. It is a bit involved, but the end results are well worth it! I suggest checking the original site for step by step photos that might be very helpful.

3 medium sized zucchini
1 T salt
1 c panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
1 T italian seasoning
2 eggs
parchment paper

Cut zucchini into 3" sticks, about the diameter of your finger. Place sticks in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let them drain for one hour or longer. Salt will cause the zucchini to give up excess liquid.

After an hour or so, rinse to get rid of salt and pat dry. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat eggs in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasoning. Dip each zucchini stick in the egg, then in the dry ingredient bowl to cover thoroughly.

Line sticks on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, then use tongs to flip and bake for an additional 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.

SWEET ONION DIP (yields 1.5 c)
1 T butter
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
2 T cider vinegar
2 T honey
2 T dijon mustard
3/4 c mayo

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and add sliced onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions caramelize. This takes around 20-30 minutes if you do it correctly. When the onions are medium brown, remove them from heat.

Place onions in a food processor or blender along with other ingredients and process until fairly smooth. Refrigerate. May also be used as a sandwich condiment!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

thanksgiving dinner #2

(this was technically my third thanksgiving dinner... i ate venison with the callaways on thursday night!) on friday night, i cooked a thanksgiving dinner for brandon and myself. i had been looking forward to it for weeks and it was a great success! i had some help from brandon's dad, who smoked a turkey breast for us. everything else i did on my own! you can't read the menu in the photo very well, but our meal left to right, top to bottom is as follows: smoked turkey breast, sweet potato casserole, cheddar cheese ball, cranberry walnut stuffing, deviled eggs, creamy mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls + herb butter, dill dip, veg-all casserole, & pumpkin pie!

the best part about thanksgiving? plenty of leftovers. my fridge is stuffed!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Conrad Family Thanksgiving

If you know me in real life, I am sure you've heard me complain about my family's Thanksgiving tradition of eating fried oysters. Most families have turkey. Some families have ham or chicken. But us? We have deep fried seafood. Yum? Last year I posted on my LiveJournal about Thanksgiving, so I've stolen my 2010 photos to post here. Ever wonder the process to make fried oysters? This year, I helped Granddaddy bread them and even learned how to fry them properly.

1. Unpack jar after jar after jar of smelly, slimy oysters.

2. Bread oysters with crumbled crackers, egg, and condensed milk. (This year, I learned that the secret is actually to double bread them!)

3. Fry in peanut oil.

4. Enjoy?

5. At least we have pumpkin pie!

I am not an oyster fan, so I usually make chicken casserole for myself. One year I even bought grape chicken salad from Lowes Foods to eat on Thanksgiving Day. Oh, how I can't wait to make a "real" Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow for Brandon and myself (photos forthcoming!). We are actually eating turkey! What do you eat on Thanksgiving Day?

Note: I realize that this holiday is about more than food. I enjoy the time we get to spend together as a family, too. It's nice that Christmas will follow shortly and we'll get to have everyone over to our house again (this time for spaghetti, probably).


apparently it's the time of the year again to reflect on everything i'm thankful for. there are a LOT of things! most years, i make a list that includes things like "my parents" and "ice cream" and silly stuff like that. but this year i think i'll leave it with this: i am so thankful that i have everything i could ever need and much more than i could ever deserve. i've been blessed with a good life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

RECIPE: Hash Brown Casserole

After trying Cracker Barrel's hash brown casserole recently, I fell in love and knew I needed to makea similar recipe ASAP! I found a "copy cat" recipe on this site. I maintain that it tastes nothing like Cracker Barrel, but it is still very good!

1 lb shredded hash browns (if you buy frozen, make sure they're thawed)
4 oz sour cream
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 c margarine or butter, melted
1/4 c chopped onion
1 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese

Salt & pepper potatoes to taste. Mix them together in a bowl with butter, sour cream, soup, onion, and 1 cup cheese. Spread in a greased baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until cheese on top begins to bubble and turn dark.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RECIPE: Chicken Chili

I liked my original chili recipe so much that I knew I wanted to find an equally delicious one for a white bean/chicken based chili. Not everyone loves red meat! This recipe initially came from a magazine (Better Homes & Gardens maybe?) and I edited it a bit, like I always do. It is so good. Can't wait to make it again!

CHICKEN CHILI (serves 6)
2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
7 oz can diced green chiles (find this near the taco kits in the grocery store)
1 t chili powder
1 t oregano
1/8 t cayenne pepper
2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 15 oz. can great northern beans, drained & rinsed
1 15 oz. can white corn, drained
2 15 oz. cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
4-5 c cooked & shredded chicken
2 c shredded pepper jack cheese

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Cook onions and garlic for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often, until tender. Stir in chiles, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne; cook 1 minute. Add all beans, corn, and broth to pot. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in chicken and cook for another 10 minutes or until heated through. Add 1.5 c of cheese a little at a time until melted. I serve mine with the remaining shredded cheese as a topper, along with sour cream and bread on the side.

Monday, November 21, 2011

chef #23: hannah's chili

i love many things about the fall and one of those things is the opportunity to whip out my chili recipe. if you live in nc with me, you might be confused about the season because of the 70 degree weather we've been having. it is almost december, right? at any rate, i love chili and i'm going to share my personal recipe with you. eat up!

HANNAH'S CHILI (serves 6)
1 lb ground beef
15 oz can kidney beans, undrained
15 oz can chili beans, undrained
30 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 green bell peppers, chopped
medium onion, chopped
1 packet chili seasoning
small can tomato paste
1.5 t worcestershire
1/2 t hot sauce
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t each:
   garlic powder

brown beef and drain. add all ingredients to a large pot, bring to boil, then let simmer for 2+ hours. add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice to cut the heat if it's a bit on the spicy side. note: use whatever spices you'd like! the ones i've listed just happened to be in my cabinet on the day i created this recipe. i serve my chili with some shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips for dipping.

look for my recipe for chicken chili tomorrow!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

flamingos in raincoats

HELLO WORLD! <<< i say that like it's really my first blog entry and i haven't been blogging for the past 8 years. i started on blogger in 2003, moved to livejournal in 2004, switched to tumblr at the beginning of this year, and have finally returned here. a thrilling journey, right? below this entry, you'll see all of my posts from 2011 that i carried with me from tumblr. however, today marks a new start for me... hopefully the last new start in the blogging world for a while! i am excited to be on blogger and hope that you're excited to see me.

a quick word on my blog title... blog titles stress me out! i spent days and days trying to think of just the right title. should it be serious? should it be witty? should it be song lyrics or my name? i had a dream a few nights ago and in it, i looked out my window and saw a bunch of flamingos and goats standing in the rain wearing little yellow rain jackets. so there you go. welcome to flamingos in raincoats. happy to meet you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

my thoughts were so loud i couldn't hear my mouth

modest mouse | the world at large

this song sums up my entire life right now. don't you love that?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

i heart hummus

{a note: i wrote this post well over a month ago and it has been waiting to be published for a while! lately i have not been loving hummus for the simple fact that i ate a LOT of it for a LONG time. do not let this fact deter you from going out and buying some!}

lately i’ve been loving hummus. it’s the perfect snack or appetizer and it’s pretty healthy, too! according to wikipedia (the source of all confirmed and legitimate facts on the internet, of course), it is full of iron and vitamin c and can be a complete protein for vegetarians/vegans. main ingredients include mashed chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste). i have yet to make any hummus of my own, but i’ve gotten it out at restaurants a couple of times and bought several flavors that are available at the grocery store, including:
  • roasted red pepper (my favorite!)
  • pine nut
  • roasted eggplant
  • spinach & artichoke (least favorite)
  • 40 spices
  • zesty spice & garlic

tribe hummus is a great brand, but i prefer harris teeter’s hummus! i eat my hummus with tortilla chips and brandon eats his with celery stalks.

{hummus from mcouls in greensboro, nc}

{hummus trio from brixx in winston-salem, nc}

what's your favorite snack these days?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

chef #22: low fat parmesan cream sauce

i wanted to use some bowtie pasta that i’d had in my cabinet for a while but didn’t want to eat a heavy, fatty cream sauce (though that does sound delicious). i searched the internet for a lighter version, modified it a bit, and was very pleased with the outcome.

2 T butter or margarine
1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1/2-1 t pepper
pinch nutmeg
pinch garlic powder
1 c grated parmesan cheese
3 c milk
melt butter in pot over medium heat. add flour a little at a time and cook for about a minute, being careful not to let it burn. stir continuously! whisk in milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic powder. bring to a boil, whisking; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. add parmesan cheese a little at a time and keep on low until time to serve.
{a note on pepper: i accidentally used 1 t pepper in my sauce. it was very good, but i personally really like pepper. if you don’t like pepper as much, use the recommended 1/2 t.}

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

afternoon in salisbury, nc

this semester, i am enjoying having tuesdays and thursdays free. last week, my free tuesday was spent visiting mocksville and salisbury, nc. i had never walked around the downtown salisbury area and it was really neat! the weather was gorgeous, which also made for a nice stroll.

i visited the train depot for the first time

brandon was trying to figure out the departure times before he read the bottom of the sign that said it was current in 1908... oops.

we saw a building reppin' coca-cola

and one reppin' cheerwine

the general store sold "redneck" wine glasses

and pumpkins!

we even found easy street

which had a pretty fountain.

the end!

hello november

as i start writing this post, we are 8 minutes into the month of november. october was an interesting month (both good & bad) for me and i am glad to see it go. i’m ready to celebrate the holiday season, followed by the promise and excitement of a new beginning for 2012. i just registered for my second semester of grad school. wow. sometimes i stop and look at my life and can’t believe that it’s mine. how did i get here and where am i going? do other people have these thoughts?
i’ve been listening to a lot of mumford & sons lately:

"well i’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before

and there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears

and love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears
get over your hill and see what you find there
with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair."