Monthly Archives: August 2011

Meatless Monday…Veggie Burgers and Edamame Broccoli Slaw

For the last month and a half we have challenged ourselves to have a meatless meal each week.  This week I turned to Betty.  Yes, I like to call my cookbooks by their first names…Betty…Joy…

So Betty has a decent vegetarian section and I found Veggie and Bean Burgers.  I altered it a bit and added some more seasoning.  They were awesome!  My favorite veggie burger by far! It had a creamy texture and a nutty flavor and was perfect with a toasted whole wheat English muffin, a slice of tomato, spinach, and a dollop of mayo.  I am drooling a bit right now; good thing I have a burger in the fridge for lunch!

Coming up with a side dish for our meatless meals is a little bit of a challenge.  I always want to do something creative but we are not so imaginative with side dishes.  Jonathan suggested edamame, so we bought a bag of shelled edamame and I threw some things together and we ended up with a pretty tasty slaw.

Veggie and Bean Burgers (adapted from Betty Crocker, New Edition)
serves 4….or two and lunch the next day

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
3/4 cup broccoli (measuring broccoli is ridiculous, so I used a small crown)
4 button or crimini mushroom
1/4 bell pepper (red or green…I used green)

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
1 clove garlic

1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 t. grated onion (I used a micro plane grater…you could just finely chop ’em)
1/4 t. ground red pepper
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

sliced tomatoes
four whole wheat English muffins
baby spinach leaves

1. In food processor pulse the broccoli, mushrooms, and pepper until finely chopped. Mix with the rice in a medium bowl.

2. Add beans, egg, and garlic to the food processor.  Process until smooth.  Add it to veggie mixture and mix in the bread crumbs, onion, red pepper, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper.

3. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Form the mixture into four even patties.  Cook 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Serve on English muffins with toppings.

Edamame and Broccoli Slaw
Serves 4ish…probably more.

1 pound frozen shelled edamame
1/2 package broccoli slaw
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 T mayonaise
2-3 T apple cider vinegar
1 t. soy sauce
1 T honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the edamame according to package instruction. Drain and run under cold water to chill them

2. Whisk together yogurt, mayo, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper.  Taste and tweak as necessary.

3. Add edamame and broccoli slaw to the dressing and mix

Try the recipes out and let me know what you think!





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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants


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Steinstossen, Schnitzel, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake

It’s Sunday evening and I am not hungry for dinner.  My belly is sufficiently full of schnitzel, potato pancakes, and Molasses cookies.  We headed up to Oregon, OH for the German American Festival this afternoon and were rewarded with the smell of sausages and sauerkraut as we turned into the parking lot.  Mostly this festival is an excuse to eat delicious fried food and drink authentic German beer, but they did have a few interesting events…my favorite being the Steinstossen, or stone throwing contest.  For the men’s competition, the guys had to throw a 138 lb stone…or would that be a rock?  A boulder?  Hmmm.  The farthest we saw someone through was 12.5 feet.  Granted, he was like seven feet tall, but still no small feat.  The ladies had to throw a 75 lb stone.  The record when we left was over nine feet!  I picked up some good tips on form and technique and I am ready to try it out myself next year!

Hanging out with the Germans wasn’t the only fun thing we did this weekend, we also had dinner with our new friends, the Ryan family. We supplied the dessert and in true Brynn fashion it was homemade.  I started out with a simple pineapple upside-down cake, but I wasn’t satisfied.  It may have been the fact that the only round platter/cake plate I have is substantially larger than your typical 9 inch cake, therefore making my cake look pretty puny.  

I needed an accompaniment and what goes better with cake than ice cream.  So…I whipped out my friend Joy (Joy of Cooking, that is) and found her recipe for Vanilla Frozen Yogurt.  Four simple ingredients: plain low-fat yogurt, sugar, whole milk, and gelatin.  

I whipped it up and poured it in my ice cream attachment for the Kitchenaid and we were in business.  When it was still soft out of the machine it tasted a bit like frozen Cool Whip, but as it hardened it morphed into true frozen yogurt.  Yum yum!


Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


Favorite Photo Friday

I am beginning to think it is fall despite the fact that I just about sweat to death when I went for a jog today.  I have been collecting inspiration for autumn mantels as this is the first time EVER I have had a mantel.  I have never been the type to decorate for the seasons…well, maybe a mini christmas tree in the corner, but never corn stalks, pumpkins, gourds, wheat, etc.  I want to…I want to really bad!

For the last four years I’ve lived in a state that didn’t have fall.  Needless to say I am psyched to see the leaves change.  In honor of that I bring you two of my favorite fall photos:

This one I took in Frederick, MD back in 2004 when I was a nanny.  This was one of about thirty pictures I took of these beautiful leaves.

Some of you may have seen this photo before.  It is one of my favorite places, right along Rt. 15 near the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania.  I drove by this barn every time I went back home to my parents’ house when I lived in Maryland and Virginia.  Every time I drove by I suppressed the urge to jump out of the car and take a picture.  Last November when we were back in the area for a wedding Jonathan pulled over and I hopped out and finally got my picture.  It was during this trip I realized I hadn’t seen fall in three years and that I truly missed the changing of the seasons.  I am thrilled to be in Ohio where we are guaranteed the weather will get colder.

Thanks for stopping by!


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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


Happy Homemaker

That is what Jonathan has started to call me…Happy Homemaker.  I am on day three of being an official housewife, and I have probably another week or two until my services are called upon to substitute teach. That is my plan for this year, substitute teach and get a feel for what education is like in these parts.  I was a little spoiled teaching where I did in Florida as it afforded me the opportunity to be creative and innovative with my teaching.  This is not the case in many other places.  Anyway…I am not here to talk about the state of education in this country.  I am here to talk about the yummy meal I made on day two of being a housewife.

I dug down and pulled out my Cuban heritage and made ropa vieja, frijoles negros, y arroz amarillo.  Muy facil y delicioso! Ahem, I mean I made Cuban beef stew, black beans, and yellow rice.  Very easy and delicious.

Ropa vieja translates to “old clothes” as that is what the beef looks like when it is all shredded apart and yummy.  I’d prefer not to think of them as clothes.  Anyway…I’ve made this a few times and have stopped looking at recipes much because with all traditional dishes in a particular culture, everyone has a different recipe and everyone says it’s authentic.  Here’s what I did:

Disclaimer:  I don’t really measure anything…ever when I cook.  Baking, maybe…cooking, no.  So, these are all approximations

2 bottom round steaks (or any meat that would be tough to eat if you didn’t stew it all day)
1 large can tomato puree
3/4 small can tomato paste
2-3 bell peppers sliced…red or green doesn’t matter
1 onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
sprinkle of dried rosemary
sprinkle of cumin
splash of white vinegar (maybe about 2 tablespoons?)
2 little cubes of beef bouillon (optional)

  1. Sear the steaks in a little oil over medium-high to high heat…just to get them brown. Watch out for your smoke alarms, mine didn’t like this step.Sprinkle with salt and pepper if you please.
  2. Place them in the bottom of a smallish crock pot.  I started out with our big one, but opted for the smaller one as you need to cover the meat and veggies with liquid and it would take too much to do that in the big one.
  3. If your pan has all kinds of yummy brown bits pour a little water in and scrape them up.  Pour this over the meat.
  4. Place the peppers, onions, garlic, and spices on top of the meat.
  5. Pour on enough of the tomato puree to come to the top of the veggies
  6.  Mix in the tomato paste and vinegar
  7. Cook on low for 8 hours
  8. You’ll know it’s done when the meat shreds apart when you poke it.  I just kept poking it and stirring the pot with a spoon until it was all shredded up and stew-looking.
  9. At this point, taste it.  If it tastes a little too acidic, add some honey.  If it tastes a little too tomatoey and not beefy, add some beef bouillon.

For the black beans I went easy and opened two cans…just like Grandma used to.  I popped them in a pot with half a green pepper (diced), a clove of garlic (finely chopped), a sprig of oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Set it on low and let it simmer away.  The longer the better.  I usually add onion, but we ran out.

The rice was easy and not what I usually do.  My family always has white rice with our black beans, but at my favorite little restaurant in Gainesville, Mi Apa, they serve yellow rice and it is really yummy.  I didn’t look to see how to make yellow rice, so I just sprinkled a packet of Sazon seasoning into the rice water.  Miraculously I ended up with yellowish/orange rice.

A fabulous meal!


Posted by on August 24, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants, Life


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Our 2 month old house…

On this day two months ago I set out with my Corolla full of plants and a flat screen tv, bound for Ohio.  A lot has changed over the last sixty days.  Here’s a look at what the house is looking like now after being lived in for a little bit:

The kitchen:This is a pretty different kitchen than the one we bought.  We ripped out the old wood-trimmed formica countertops and had granite installed.  With the counter came a new sink and faucet.  It actually makes dishwashing somewhat enjoyable!  We brightened the paint color from sage to celery…hmmm, sounds a bit like Thanksgiving.  I changed out all the brass knobs to brushed nickel.  We bought the new knobs before we realized how simple and cheap it was to spray paint them!  The floors are the final difference…old stained linoleum to new linoleum.

The dining room:As I’ve mentioned before we didn’t want a formal dining room and the dining are off the kitchen is more than big enough to accomodate the “breakfast table” Jonathan grew up with.  The bookshelf in the background was a little country style cabinet we picked up at Goodwill.  It had scalloped trim and doors with heart-shaped cut outs.  Very much not my style.  But, the price was right and changes easy to make.  Now it’s just a cute little blue bookshelf that holds our cookbooks.  I still need to refinish it as there are raw wood parts glaring at me from the bits and pieces I ripped off it.  It’s good for now!

The living room:So, you’ve seen the blue wall and a little bit of the mantel, but here’s the rest of the living room.  We bought a new reclining sofa and “wide seat” from Ashley furniture and we absolutely love them.  They are super comfortable leather just the right size for two tall folks like us. The rug, bookshelf and purple stool are from IKEA.  As for the stool we decided on something a little non-traditional for the side table.  My aunt found the stool at IKEA and we promptly walked it over to one of the living room set ups to see if it would work as a table.  Obviously it did, but the color didn’t.

Unfinished wood + primer + 3 coats of Glidden Bright Black Raspberry=

The craft room:Many of you know I finally got myself a craft room after four years of using the dining room table and plastic storage bins under the breakfast bar in our old townhouse.  It has been wonderful to work in there and not have to put everything away for dinner.  It seriously expedited the construction of my latest quilt.  I’ll share more about that later…after it finds a home in its recipient’s house.  Though this isn’t the best picture, it gives you an idea of what’s going on in there.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour around the more finished parts of the house.  When the other two bedrooms are finished I’ll be sure to share them!


Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Home Decorating


It’s Been a While

I knew this would happen.  I knew I would start blogging and do a great job writing frequent post…for a little while.  I knew I would eventually fall off the blog-wagon and wouldn’t know what to write, felt I didn’t have anything to say, or just plain forgot.  Now it’s been two weeks and I’m feeling the pressure!

When I started this blog I didn’t want it just to be about my DIY projects and such, I wanted to share parts of our new life in Ohio.  So, while I haven’t taken a break from being creative around the house, I decided to take the time to share about life in general.

One of the  most exciting adventures lately was our spectacular Carnival cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel last week.  Being the seasoned cruisers that we are (this was our second) we knew we didn’t want to spend the oodles of money for excursions through the cruise line.  We spent what seemed like an endless amount of time researching things to do in our two Ports of Call.  The thriftiest of our adventures was in Grand Cayman:

Walk five minutes from the port to Eden Rock dive shop….$0
Rent snorkel, mask, and fins……………………………………..$14 each
Rent a locker for the stuff we brought but didn’t need……….$5
Walk ten yards to the ocean………………………………………$0
3 hours of snorkeling in one of the most popular spots…….$0

Grand total for Grand Cayman……………………………………$32 What?  That’s pretty awesome!  It would have been at least $50 a piece if we went with Carnival. Plus, we would have been bumping elbows with a bizillion of our closest shipmates.

On to Mexico…From the beginning I’ve kind of been against Cozumel.  I hate how touristy it is.  Having spent time in Zacatecas, in central Mexico, for a service trip years ago I couldn’t handle the fact that people get off a ship in Cozumel and think that is what Mexico is like.  The thought infuriates me, as Jonathan will tell you.  So, this time around (we went there on our honeymoon cruise too) I thought I wanted to go into the actual town, and shop at actual Mexican shops.  Once we got off the ship the heat and touristy-ness was way too overwhelming so we hopped into a taxi with another couple from the cruise and went to our heavily researched and planned destination…Paradise Beach.

So, apparently Cozumel is lined with beach club after beach club and you could probably go to any one of them and have pretty much the same experience.  Paradise Beach turned out to be a great way to spend the day for not too much money.  For $14 each we got beach chairs, umbrellas, access to kayaks, snorkel gear, inflatable ocean toys, and a fabulous pool.


Add in about $12 each in food and drink and it’s a pretty good deal.  My absolute favorite part of the day was the inflatable ocean toys like the Iceberg and slide.  We had a blast swimming out to the toys and attempting to scramble up them like we were 12.  I conquered the Iceberg on my second attempt.  It is harder than it looks.

All of our time at sea was spent in and out of the pool and in and out of buffet lines.  To accomodate for this factor I wore maxi dresses…everyday.  My expanding waistline thanked me.   It was a great cruise and we enjoyed ourselves.  We especially enjoyed the conversations we had with random people in the pool.  Those were the best!

Finally, since it is Friday and I foolishly set out to make a photo post every Friday I will leave you with this:

The view from our beach chairs in Cozumel

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Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Life


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