Category Archives: Food

Virginia BBQ(ew)

Peter and I tried a new (new to us) BBQ place. If you want the short review, here it is: 2 thumbs down, don’t go. If you want the longer review, feel free to keep reading and to see the pictures.

It’s called Virginia BBQ and apparently it’s a chain. We went to the one in Fredericksburg.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of carpet in restaurants. First thing I noticed when I walked in was dirty carpet.

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Second thing I noticed was the lack of customers. Third thing I noticed was the crappy restaurant decor.

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Those trophies weren’t for their BBQ – they were for some random car show. Um, ok. Makes sense.

And how about this lovely blue hue on the seats? Coordinates well with the cheap country decor and other random stuff.

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So, onto the food. I’m no BBQ expert but I’ve tried a bunch of different kinds in VA and NC and beyond. I can’t say it was horrible like I was going to gag or anything, but it was definitely the greasiest I’ve had. And the workers were probably the greasiest too from the looks of it. I got NC style.

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While Peter was up getting some napkins, I asked him to bring me some NC style BBQ sauce from the “sauce bar”. He brought two back:

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Wasn’t sure about the lighter colored one with floaties on the right, so I just stuck to the sauce on the left. The bottles of sauce probably haven’t been cleaned out in years. Ha.

On their website, there is a quote from one of their reviews that says “The best potato salad I’ve ever eaten. Ever.” Peter got the potato salad (apparently the last bits from the bottom of the barrel according to the guy at the counter) and it didn’t look so great. Kind of gray. I played it safe with some french fries.

Also on their website, there’s a review that says, “…the service was exceptional on our visit…IT WAS OUTSTANDING.” Oh boy. On our visit, the guy that brings the food out, holds the tray out impatiently without saying anything, but with an attitude and a look that says “c’mon, take your freakin’ tray”.

There was radio music playing in the background and right next to where we sat there was a tv playing informercials (ahh, overlapping audio!). I was really hoping to watch some Slapchop or Forever Lazies (only got info on the Magic Bullet).

Oh, I almost forgot one of the best things! There was a FUN CORNER! Seriously, a corner of fun! Get outta here, so exciting!

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Outside, Abby got her picture taken by one of the pigs:

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Here’s the other one. Seems kind of wrong to have a picture of the pork sandwich on the pig (but then again, I’m eating it so I shouldn’t talk). As I took this picture, a breeze blew and I could smell cat pee.

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We agreed that this restaurant could definitely benefit from Restaurant: Impossible with Robert Irvine. Seriously.

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Depeach Mode

The other night, I attempted a new taco recipe, courtesy of Pinterest: Chicken tacos w/ grilled peach salsa

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It included the following:

For the chicken: grilled chicken, chili powder, lime juice, salt

For the salsa: grilled peaches, red onion, cilantro, balsamic vinegar, salt

For the topping: kale, olive oil, lime juice, salt

Corn tortillas, some olive oil

I basically did the salsa mixture first. Cut the peaches in half, grilled them (on the stove), and then added the rest of the ingredients in a bowl once the peaches were done. I then grilled the chicken mixture while putting the (raw) kale topping together. Then just plunked everything into a little corn tortilla!

I have to say, I was hoping it’d be better but I’d probably make it again. I don’t think I’m a fan of raw kale so either I’d cook it or substitute something else. My peaches also weren’t exactly ripe either.

Either way, it paired well with a Dogfish Head Festina Peche beer. Yum!

A Is For Avocado, Y Is For Yum

One of my new favorite, easy work-week sandwiches is this:

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It’s delish.

– Take 2 slices of bread (make open-faced sandwich)
– Add avocado
– Add strawberries

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– Drizzle some balsamic vinegar or other similar dressing (try not to go overboard, it’ll make the bread soggy)
– Add as little or as much goat cheese as your goat cheese lovin’ heart desires
– Put in toaster oven on medium (may have to watch and adjust)
– EAT, ENJOY, ENERGIZE

Family Friends & Food

Last weekend was a fun one. It started out by meeting up with friends at Amy’s house in Alexandria. Her birthday was on Wednesday so we were celebrating that and just wanted to get out for a little bit. We began with our standard appetizers, snacks, and beer before heading out (no worries, Kelly is pregnant so she was the DD). By the time we left for dinner it was around 8. Julie also came out with us so we picked her up in Kelly’s new mini-van and cruised in style. ūüėČ First up was dinner at O’Connell’s in Old Town. It was busy there and had a good atmosphere; we sat upstairs. I had the spinach and strawberry salad with house wine. Very good.

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Next, we headed over to Murphy’s Irish Pub where I dined on Yuenglings. It was fairly packed there as well. I didn’t notice much of the place, as we just hung out upstairs, but eventually we did head downstairs as they ushered everyone away as it got close to 2am. There was a band downstairs so we hung out there for awhile.

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Walking in Old Town in boots/heels is not ideal – lots of cobblestone and brick sidewalks.

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Then we mini-vanned it back to Amy’s for a ‘sleepover’. It was very late by the time we went to bed but surprisingly it didn’t feel very late to me.

Maugle Mania began on Saturday when Alan and Joyce came down for a 2-3 day visit. We first met up at Red Robin (where I haven’t been to in years) and then took them back to our house which they were seeing for the first time. Julie then got down to our house and after Abby went to bed it was time for wine and popcorn, and breaking out the classic Flight of the Conchords dvd and laughing, laughing, laughing. “Wear the eye patch Bret, wear the funky, funky eye patch.”

On Sunday we had some Crack(er) Barrel brunch. Abby kept telling the waitress that she didn’t like the curtains on the windows.

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Later on that evening, Peter and I had dinner with Alan and Joyce at Castiglia’s down the street (as opposed to the main one downtown). Before I say anything about this place, I must say the Sicilian pizza was very good. However, the place was so odd and we had the strangest server. It’s hard to put into words but he was super awkward. The music they were playing there was also an eclectic mix (like Italian background music with Spanish singers). I think we’ll be going back to the downtown location from now on! After introducing Alan and Joyce to Sweet Frog, it was early to bed that night then as the next day was work and Alan and Joyce were heading up for a fun day in DC. It was good having them here for a few days!!

Abby Turns 2!

On May 22nd, our little girl turned 2!  Where did the past two years go?  I feel like I was just planning her 1st birthday party a little bit ago.  This year we kept it low-key and had family over to our (still temporary) humble abode.  It was rainbow-themed so it was quite colorful and Abby had a lot of fun!  Thanks to Nana, Pop Pop, Granma, Chris, Jennifer, and Julie for coming!  And to Grampy and Barb who came the following weekend!

     

Good morning birthday girl!

 

I had some fun craft time.

 

(Non-alcoholic) jello shots, rainbow fruit kabobs (kabab), rainbow lollipops, skittles, peanut M&Ms, fruit salad, rainbow goldfish crackers…

I also made pulled pork in the crock pot.¬† It was the first time I made it and it was really, really good!¬† Such a simple thing to make.¬† Took some pork, root beer, and bbq sauce.¬† Deeeeeeelish.¬† Good thing I didn’t try to make rainbow colored pork though.

Abby got some really nice presents from everyone and she had a great time pulling them all out of the guest room and opening them one by one. 

Since it was rainbow-themed, I had decided I wanted to make Abby a rainbow tie-dye cake.¬† I saw something on Pinterest so I followed that.¬† Needless to say, it did NOT come out like what I had pinned.¬† I think it’s because a) I used vanilla cake instead of white, b) I ran out of vegetable oil and had to substitute with some corn oil, and c) I just wasn’t as artsy when dealing with the icing.¬† The colors were much more muted¬†compared to¬†what I went off of.¬† Oh well, it was still fun!

 

 

You might¬†think, “That’s pretty cool, not too bad!”¬†¬†Yeah, I won’t share the picture where I got the idea.¬† ūüėČ

 

Again, I won’t show you the inspirational picture.¬† This came out looking quite pastel.¬†

 

2 years!  Little big girl!

 

   

 

Low Fat Chicken Enchiladas

The following recipe was something I found on Pinterest so I can’t take credit for it, but it was so good so I thought I’d share on here as well (pics below are mine, not from Pinterest).¬†

Servings:  6-8

What you need:

 

For the sauce:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
  • 1 1/2¬†cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup fat free chicken broth
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the chicken:

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 8.5 oz (2 breast halves) cooked shredded chicken breast

* * * For easy pulled/shredded chicken, place 2-3 chicken breasts in crock pot and fill with enough water or chicken broth to cover.  Place on high for 4 hours.  When chicken is cool enough to handle, pull apart chicken with two forks. * * *

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 6-8 (7-inch) reduced carb whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded low fat Mexican cheese
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions or cilantro for topping

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, spray oil and sauté garlic. Add chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic on low until soft, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spray a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Put 1/3 cup chicken mixture into each tortilla and roll it.

Place on baking dish seam side down, top with sauce, then top w/ cheese.

Cover w/ aluminum foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes.¬† Top w/ low fat sour cream or scallions if you’d like.¬†

 

 

Served with black beans and spanish rice.¬† ūüôā

Turkey Veggie Meatloaf Cups

One of my favorite meals to make at home lately has been Turkey Veggie Meatloaf Cups.¬† It’s SO easy, tastes yummy, and they are good to freeze for future dinners.¬† Here’s what you need:

 

 

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, or as needed

 

РPreheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray muffin cups w/ cooking spray.

РPlace zucchini, onions, and red bell pepper into a food processor, and pulse a few times until finely chopped.  Put veggies into a bowl, then mix in ground turkey, couscous, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard until well mixed. 

– Fill each prepared muffin cup about 3/4 full.¬† Top each cup with about 1 tsp. of bbq sauce of your favorite kind (we used Bull’s Eye Original).¬†

–¬† Bake in preheated oven until juices run clear – approx. 25 mins.¬† Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

 

Servings:  Approx 10

Prep Time:  20

Cook Time: 25

 

I just served it with sugar-snap peas and mashed potatoes.  Super simple.  Having smaller portions, a la muffin tins, made it better for me and the smaller portions I eat.  Sometimes dealing with large globs of meat/meatloaf is not appetizing.  In this case, all was good.

 

 

 

 

Bunnies, Baskets, Eggggggggs

I hope everyone had a great Easter! 

This was Abby’s 2nd Easter and first time we got to hide eggs for her to find.¬† Nana and Pop Pop hid eggs for her at their house on Friday and then Granma came down to our place from PA for the weekend which was fun.¬† Abby got Easter baskets from Granma and the Easter Bunny (chocolate, clothes, headbands, books, bendy bunnies, Max & Ruby stuff, Easter window gel-clings, flowers, chirping chick, snacks, fingerpaint, etc.) and also went on a¬†hunt for plastic eggs in the house.¬† It was a bit distracting though in the house with stuff everywhere so later in¬†the morning Janet and I took Abby to Tapp Field of the Wilderness and made our own little Easter egg hunt there.¬† That was much better and Abby had fun searching for the eggs and putting them in the basket.

 

 

 

 

 

I¬†had also boiled a dozen¬†eggs for dyeing but we never got around to it.¬† Now I’ll be having egg salad all week¬†(yummy)!¬† I was a master chef¬†for Sunday night’s Easter dinner.¬† I say that in a joking¬†but¬†for real¬†way – I am no master chef but my meal came out pretty darn good!¬† I made a 7 lb. apple cider-glazed ham in which the warm apple cider glaze was delish.¬†¬†It consists of apple cider (duh), honey, cider vinegar, dijon mustard, butter, chili powder, and apple pie spice.¬† I¬†also made¬†cheddar cheese scalloped potatoes, glazed orange carrots (butter, OJ concentrate, brown sugar, parsley), and baked asparagus with balsamic soy butter sauce.¬† Oh and we also had salad (spinach, strawberries, walnuts,¬†crumbled goat cheese) and Janet¬†had made a warm pineapple filling and a carrot cake (yum yum yum)!¬† All in all it was very good and I’m looking forward to making more baked¬†asparagus – the few times I’ve had it they were not baked so they were gross and mushy.¬† Baked is much better.

 

Hopefully for next Easter we’ll be moved and more settled so we can figure out a church to go to for Easter service.¬† ūüôā¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

 

 

 

 

Food De Fa Fa

I’ve been on somewhat of a cooking / baking spree lately and am having fun trying new recipes.¬† Our whole household is just getting over a nasty cold so I haven’t been out and about too much and thought it’s been a good time as any to try new meals.¬† First Abby got a cold, most likely when she went to the Dr. for a regular check-up.¬† There was a little boy in the waiting room coughing all over the place.¬† ūüė¶¬† Abby seemed to pick it up and a few days later she was coughing and sniffling.¬† This was her first cold ever so I feel like she’s been pretty lucky.¬† Then of course Peter and I got sick and it was a hard cold to shake off.¬† I did however, finally pick up a cool mist vaporizor that has been put to good use.¬† We’re much better but it’s still not totally out of our system.¬† My mom also got sick and my dad is well on his way of getting it last (sorry guys!).

 

So, I know there are¬†those out there who make fun of people who take pictures of their food – me included at times.¬† Well I’m jumping on the bandwagon for a blog post, in order to display some of my recent meal creations.¬† Don’t get all excited – it’s not gourmet or anything super duper fancy.¬† I’ve just never been big on cooking¬†and I felt like sharing some of my creations since it’s a bit new for me.

 

Honey-Mustard Roasted Chicken and Squash   

 

 

 

 

This meal included chicken breast, butternut squash, red onion, honey-mustard dressing, salt, rosemary leaves (crushed), garlic powder, and sugar snap peas.  Place chicken in baking pan w/ nonstick cooking spray and arrange squash and onion around chicken.  In bowl, combine dressing, salt, rosemary, and garlic powder blending well.  Brush chicken and veggies w/ about half of the dressing mixture.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir veggies, add snap peas to pan.  Brush chicken and veggies w/ remaining dressing.  Bake an additional 20-25 minutes or until chicken is tender.  Garnish w/ fresh herb sprigs. 

 

This one was really good and I finally was able to use the dang squash that I’ve had sitting around on the counter for ages.

 

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

 

 

 

 

These were good warmed up and with a bit of butter for a breakfast snack.

 

Shrimp and Sausage Paella

 

 

 

This meal included lean turkey Italian sausage, water, seasoned Spanish yellow rice mix w/ saffron, quartered artichoke hearts, sweet peas, diced tomatoes with Italian-style herbs, medium shrimp and we also included salad and bread.

 

This was so easy to make and it turned out really good!¬† We had a bunch of leftovers which was good for Peter to take to work (I’m not great with leftovers haha).

 

Home-Style Meatloaf with Sweet Maple Glaze

 

 

Pretty typical meatloaf.  This included: lean ground turkey or beef, plain bread crumbs, dry onion soup mix, pepper, milk, egg, ketchup, and maple syrup.  It was good that night but the leftovers got too dry and it had to be thrown out.

 

Banana-Strawberry Smoothie

 

 

I love having smoothies every now and then, to get some fruit intake if I’ve been bad.¬† This just includes 1 banana, a bunch of strawberries, yogurt, milk, and ice.¬† Best served in Victory pint glass.

 

Broiled Tilapia Parmesean

 

 

I just made this one last night.¬† Peter and I both really liked it, but then again I’m just getting over my cold and can’t taste things 100% yet.¬† It was a quick meal to make and I added red skin seasoned potatoes and green beans.¬† Abby liked all three as well.¬† The tilapia topping included parmesean cheese, butter, mayo,¬†lemon juice, basil, black pepper, onion powder, and celery salt.¬† Fish was boiled 2-3 minutes on each side, then another 2-3 minutes with the parmesean topping on the top only.¬†

 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies 

 

 

 

These cookies are good (as far as I can taste, given my stupid cold) and are very soft because of the pumpkin.  Includes flour, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, pumpkin, baking soda, egg, vegetable oil, chocolate chips, walnuts. 

 

Tonight is my husband’s birthday and his sister is coming to visit from PA so I’ll be making some Mexican Fiesta type foods for our lil’ celebration.¬† I’ll take some pics to continue with round 2 of food blogging.¬† At least I am following one of my resolutions, yay!

You Say You Want A Resolution

Christmas and New Years has come and gone, whoosh!¬† Holidays were great… we traveled to and from VA to PA¬† twice in one week and also had our 3rd Christmas family gathering in Virginia.¬† Abby enjoyed her 2nd Christmas and is getting the idea more.¬† We went to the National Christmas Center in Lancaster, PA and she loved Santa again.¬† I wonder if she’ll love him next year.¬† She is kind of obsessed with Santa and snowmen this year!¬† I had lots of time off from work so it was wonderful to hang out with family and be with¬†Peter and Abby.¬†

New Year’s¬†Eve was my Dad’s birthday.¬† He was born 4 minutes before midnight.¬† “Congratulations, it’s a boy!¬† Happy New Year!”¬† To celebrate, we went out to dinner at Famous Dave’s (BBQ) and then to Sweet Frog for some really yummy fat-free frozen yogurt.¬† Then Peter, Abby, and I returned to the Wilderness, put Abby to bed, put on comfy clothes,¬†read books and watched Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve.¬† I had thought about opening some wine but changed my mind.¬† Alcohol-free NYE!¬† After the ball dropped, we pretty much went to bed.¬† Next year we will try not to be so wild and crazy.¬† We need to tone it down.

 

The next day, I realized I had not seen a single mummer on tv.¬† Later on, I realized it’s because they’re not shown in Virginia apparently.¬† Oh those crazy mummers.

So around this time of year, many people come up with their New Year’s resolutions and/or goals they can work towards.¬† Usually I do this, sometimes I don’t.¬† I like the idea of a fresh start¬†with a new year.¬† I’ve come up with some resolutions/goals for this year.¬† Let’s see how it goes.

  • My main one is to save money where I can.¬† We are still trying to sell our house in PA and the housing market is a bit ridunkulous right now.¬†¬†While it stinks to be paying a hefty mortgage each month for a house no one is living in (miss you house!), we are lucky to be in our temp house currently, which is no mortgage/no rent (but boy oh boy I cannot wait to get some more space and move into our own, forever home).¬† However we’ll have to start paying for our storage soon and eventually some kind of rental fee for where we are.¬† We are also fortunate that my job has allowed me to work from home since we’ve moved.¬† By not commuting, that has saved¬†us money and woo to the hoo, I don’t have to wear¬†stupid work clothes!¬† That is definitely one way I save – by not¬†having to buy clothes or shoes, for work or casual.¬† I¬†am in need of some new¬†kicks but I can easily¬†hold off awhile longer yet.¬† I also don’t plan on taking any big trips this year – more smaller trips if anything or day trips.¬† I’ll probably save most vacation time for our pending move.¬† One good thing is our electric bill the last two months in a row were $0 (up in PA).¬† Our electric is still turned on (low), but I’m still not sure how¬†two months were $0.¬† I’ll take it!¬† One¬†of the main ways I’m planning to save money is to not eat out as much and if we do go out, get something small and cheap and never order anything to drink besides water (unless we’re going to a brewery, well then…).¬† And that takes us to my next resolution/goal.
  • Get better at making lunches and dinners at home.¬†¬†I¬†don’t have a problem looking¬†for and finding new recipes and I (usually) don’t have a problem with the actual cooking (I am referring to my willingness to cook, not my cooking skills).¬† My main problem¬†is planning ahead and finding the time to plan the meals and make sure I have what I need¬†and/or prepped¬†ahead of time.¬† I should print out a calendar page and plan a few weeks of meals ahead of time and get a binder or something.¬† Seems so simple doesn’t it?¬† Ahhh…
  • Well, another obvious goal is to SELL OUR HOUSE in PA.¬†¬†Brick cape cod with a white picket fence anyone?¬†¬†Upside-down St. Joseph in the ground must be water-logged or frozen… he ain’t workin.¬†
  • The subsequent goal to the one listed above is to buy a¬†house in VA.¬† Maybe another blog entry could¬†be about my house wish list.
  • I’d also like to improve my minimalizing, reducing, recycling, etc.¬† I once saw a video about a family of four who lived a very minimalistic life and after one year, were able to hold their¬†very small amount of actual garbage in just two hands.¬† Everything¬†else was either recycled, reused, put in a compost, etc.¬† It was¬†pretty extreme and I know I can’t go that far but I’d like to simplify where I can, aim to be less wasteful, and so on.¬† My ranger husband is a good person to live with in this regard because he’s already great¬†at most of this.¬†
  • I’d like to be better about staying in touch with friends and¬†family.¬† I want to get back to sending more snail mail and cute little cards and notes and pictures, rather than email all of the time.¬† It’s still fun to get stuff in the mail.¬† I’m not¬†much of a phone talker so I like to communicate by writing.
  • Learn some sort of new (inexpensive) craft/hobby.¬† Haven’t given too much thought to this one yet.
  • Enjoy our first full year in¬†the state of lovers!¬†
  • Be a good mommy and wife (this goes without saying though).¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†