Fondue in the Forest

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Hello my wonderful readers!

I’m back home in Reno (although I’m still dreaming of London), but I’ve had a wonderful summer and it’s time to get back to business.  Before I came home, I went to my parents’ cabin for the first time in two years which is where I used to spend my childhood weekends hiking, fishing, and riding quads.

It was also my getaway for watching movies and reading countless books which I did not always have time to do with all of my extracurriculars.  I cannot even tell you how many times I blew through the HP series up there.  7 books and 8 movies were no match when I had a good two weeks of lounging on the porch swing with an iced tea in my hand.

Some of my best memories from growing up were at my cabin, and I wish more than anything that I could make it up more.  Luckily, I have Tahoe just a short 30 minutes away, but there’s nothing like (vacation) home, right?

Anyways, I had a really amazing time with my family hiking, white water rafting, and of course, reading.  We also had some really great food.

Cue fondue.

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Before I share with you our delicious dipping recipes and whatnot, let me first disclose that all of the pictures posted today were taken by my baby brother (except for the fondue pic taken above, which was posted by my mom).  He’s the guy in the maroon striped sweater.  He’s only 17 and far more talented than I will ever be.  So thank you to Garrett (and mom!) for the beautiful pictures shared today.

About fondue:  Fondue is really really fun.  Like, really fun guys.  Although I did this with my family, I’m totally considering getting a fondue pot to have parties with my friends.  Especially since I learned some good tips and tricks from this experience.  We actually did an Italian version of fondue called bagna cauda which is a method of cooking the food in hot oil.

Some tips for a fondue (bagna cauda) party:

1. No more than 4 people should be at the fondue pot at any given time.  Just trust me on this.

2. Wear clothes you won’t be totally sad about ruining.  I don’t think I ended up dripping anything on myself, but there’s always a risk.

3.  Lay down a black garbage bag or old table cloth.  There will definitely be some drippage action there.

4.  Have plenty of dipping options.

5. Consider having some small appetizers or a nice side salad to munch on.  Although fondue is very fun, it’s also time consuming, so you’re waiting a few minutes between each bite.

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Are you ready for some kick-ass dipping sauce recipes and also some wonderfully safe cooking instructions?!

You bet you are, champ.

*Recipes and instructions courtesy of Pillsbury.  Some recipes adapted slightly.*

Bagna Cauda Ingredients:

4 cups peanut oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled (optional)

Cubed beef tenderloin, Cubed chicken breast, Cubed squash, Mushrooms, Cheese cubes (coat with melted butter and bread crumbs beforehand), Shrimp, Cubed pork tenderloin, etc.

Pour oil into a fondue pot.  Add garlic, if using.  Heat until 350* F.  Place setting on warm to maintain heat.  Remove garlic, if using.  To cook ingredients, place 1-2 items on fondue sticks.  Place in oil and cook until desired doneness.  Dip in favorite sauces.

Garlic Basil Aioli

1/2 c. mayonnaise

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped

2 Tbs. olive oil

Salt, to taste

Curry Dip

3/4 c. mayonnaise

1 tsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. curry powder

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Salt, to taste

Horseradish Sauce

1/3 c. mayonnaise

1/3 c. sour cream

1 Tbs. prepared horseradish

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Directions for all sauces:  Whisk all ingredients in a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

*We also used A-1 steak sauce as a dipping sauce*.

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In addition to bagna cauda, we enjoyed the sunset, had a lovely campfire where we looked at the stars, and I got to play with my puppy.  All in all, it was an amazing weekend.

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Song of the Day: Suicide Saturday–Hippo Campus

My Happy Things 7.14.15

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I’m back from London :-(

I’m so sad, but I also figured that I would make myself happy by posting my last “happy things” London edition.  After some very spotty wifi services, I can finally show you guys all the cool things that I did!

I had the most amazing trip, and I can’t wait to show you all more pictures as I download and edit.

I’m on to Utah to spend some time with my family at our cabin, but I will post right when I get back!

Here are my happy things for the week:

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Going to Abbey Road!  This was the coolest experience.  I almost died trying to get this picture, but luckily the cars stopped for half a second to let me get this.  It was truly magical.

Also, this group of three people randomly walked up and asked me to be their fourth Beatle which was kind of fun.  I didn’t get to be Ringo, but I think I’ll let it slide.

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The vintage teacup exhibit at the V&A Museum!  Oh my gosh guys.  This was my dream.  I’m not kidding.  There were rows and rows of teacups like this.  Six rooms full.  It was my heaven.

And yeah, that little blob on the end is me.  That’s how many teacups there were.

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The ceilings at the Courtauld Gallery.  They were so beautiful!  I was almost as excited about the ceilings and walls as I was about the art.  I saw some Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas which was amazing!  I could have spent all day in there.

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Going to the Harry Potter Studio Tours in London.

I can’t even explain this one.  It might become a whole post in itself.

I’ll just say that if you’re a Harry Potter fan, this is something you can’t not do in London.  It was one of my favorite activities I did while I was there.  I may have cried at one point (but that’s not something we need to talk about).

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It took me the whole month to find a pour over, but I did it!  The CoffeeWorks Project saved my life.  I am forever grateful.  It was the raddest little coffee shop, and I’m so glad I got to go.  You guys are the besssss.

NYC Baby by Karen O is one of my favorite songs!  I had it stuck in my head for the last few days I was in London (???), so I figured it had to be added.

Thank you to London and to the amazing people I met while I was there.

It was truly incredible.

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Song of the Day: posted above

My Happy Things 6.28.15

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Bonjour! (I think that’s spelled right).

I have some really fun things to share with you guys this week, because I just got back from a weekend in Paris with my best friend!  (Shout out to my BFF Hannah.  She’s my #1 reader).

Unfortunately, I did not get as much time as I wanted in Paris (there’s so much to do!), but I will be going back in the near-ish (?) future, and I will definitely get everything accomplished on the next trip!

Paris is pretty much exactly what you want it to be, which means that I may have eaten my weight in cheese, bread, and wine.  But it’s fine.

Probably.

Maybe.

(RIP cholesterol.)

I also found chocolate croissants.  I died a little.  Seriously, the hype is justified.

And I don’t just say that about any croissant.

Really I don’t…

Here are my happy things for the week:

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Rave bathroom!  When we got to our hostel in Paris, we immediately noticed that the bathroom was bathed in black light.

(Haha, get it?  Bathed.  Bathroom.  Okay.)

Anyways, it was really fun to take pictures in.

And also made it really hard to put on eyeliner…

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Macarons!  Please note: this is a macaron.  The yummy little coconut balls are macaroons.  And it is an important difference for somebody who loves baking as much as I do.

Anyways, I really wanted to get some macarons in Paris before I left.  This morning, I took two metros, got lost, and walked for half an hour to find Laduree, which I’ve heard so many rave reviews about.

I haven’t tried them yet (I’m trying to wait until after dinner!), but if the price speaks for the quality, then they’re probably pretty damn good.

I’ll update you soon.

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Fancy drinks with glow sticks!  Perfect for our rave bathroom!  We ended up at this fun little bar last night around happy hour.  Happy hour = 5 euro Cosmopolitans that taste like really delicious cranberry lemonade.

They’re dangerous, and also taste much better with a glow stick.

Plus, the bartender let us have 5 euro drinks even after happy hour was over.

He was quite a guy.

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Basque food!  Somehow, we randomly ended up at this little French/Basque restaurant.  Coming from Reno, where Basque food is suuuuper popular, I was stoked!  It is one of my favorite cuisines, and I actually got to have it in France!  Very exciting day for Sara.

Also, we sat next to legit Basque guys.

They told us all about being Basque.  We pretended that we understood them.

It was a perfect night.

Last but not least…

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html?_r=0

Gay marriage is legalized in the U.S.!!!  I’m so proud of our country.  I wish I could be there to celebrate but since I’m not, I’m sending my love and support from the U.K.!

Go America and love and equal rights!

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Song of the Day: Can’t Take my Eyes Off You–Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons

(Which is actually being played live outside of my dorm window right now.  Cool!)

My Happy Things 6.19.15

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Hi hi hi hi hi!!!

I’m super stoked about doing my second “happy things” because I’m finally in London and I have soooo much stuff to share with you!

For now, I’m only going to share my happy things, but when I get back from London expect a really long, detailed London post (or two).  I’m having the best time here making friends and exploring London.  Not to be too cheesy here, but London is very serendipitous.  Also, most of the pictures aren’t great because they were taken on my iPhone, but you get the idea.  I’ll have better pictures later, but for now I’m just too antsy to edit!

Can you tell I’m a little excited?

I’m kind of really excited!!!

Here are my happy things for the week:

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What you see here is me in the midst of utter joy, because I was standing right in front of Big Ben.  Also the London Eye.  I’m so in love with it that I actually want to go back just to get more pictures like this.  No, I don’t have a problem.  Not one that I’m willing to admit to anyways.

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This bakery & coffee shop is called Bloomsbury Coffee House.  It’s pretty close to my dorm, so after class I decided to stop by and grab a coffee.  They really know what they’re doing, and I will be visiting again.  I plan on writing a review of the coffee shops I visit while I’m in London, but for now just look at this cute little set up they have going.

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Gelato!!!  Just go to Scoop if you’re in London.  Okay?  Just do it.

I got amaretto and pistachio.  I almost always get nutty “old-people” flavors.  It’s actually a joke in my family.

This demo version of “You Only Live Once” by The Strokes.  I actually like this version a *little* better, but don’t tell anyone.  I’m posting this because I SAW THE STROKES LAST NIGHT AND IT WAS PRETTY MUCH THE BEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO ME.

But that’s a story for another day.

For now, have a lovely weekend, and I will update you soon, soon, soon!

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Song of the Day: posted above!

My Happy Things 6.11.15

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Hello friends.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Thursday night.  (It’s Thursday right??) (Probably).

Anyways, I am currently in Las Vegas for a night before I leave for London.  Even though I’m not there yet, I thought I would start with “my happy things” to kick things off and prepare for blogging abroad.

Here are my happy things for the week:

The trailer for Inside Out!  Like many people (mostly kids, I presume) I’m obsessed with Pixar/Disney, so I was super stoked when I first saw the trailer for this.  That was about a year ago, so this movie is a long time coming.  I’m not sure when the release date is in London, but since my mom is also crazy about kids’ movies, I’ll probably have to wait to see it with her anyways.

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These tulips in my kitchen.  I’m not sure where they came from (I imagine my roommate got them for his girlfriend), but I don’t care because pinkish purple tulips rock regardless of where they came from.

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Spending a day at Tahoe with one of my best friends!  I have a theory that there is no way to be sad if you are in Tahoe.  It’s just not even a possibility.

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Drinking coffee and reading my Bon Appetit at my favorite coffee place.  This is totally the usual, but I never complain when I have a pour over and a magazine full of beautiful food pictures.

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The pretty quad at UNR.  My iPhone does it no justice, but it’s truly one of the most amazing places on campus.

Fun fact: Every single time I walk through the quad, “Campus” by Vampire Weekend pops into my head.  Without fail.  Every time.

This video of one of my favorite bands/albums.  The Lonesome Crowded West is an amazingly nostalgic album even if you’ve never heard it before, and I always find it very raw and emotional.  Lately, I’ve really been on a Modest Mouse kick (actually, when am I not?), so I was really excited to stumble upon this video.  I haven’t watched the whole thing yet, but I definitely will be tomorrow during my 2 hour layover.

Other random things that made me happy this week:

Eating Mexican food with my dad and grandpa tonight after my plane landed.  Going home to the house I grew up in and seeing my puppy.  Finding a really amazing thrift store dress at half price (will make an appearance soon).

More happy things to come soon!

I can’t wait to show you all of the amazing things I find in London and Paris!  Ah!

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Song of the Day: Long Distance Drunk–Modest Mouse

P.S. I made the header picture from scratch all by myself using PicMonkey!  That website roxxxxx.

Chicken Fajitas

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It’s happened, guys.  I finished my first summer class, and now my brain = alskbxlzkjcgqergldknblddzweksdjclxdssalskdj.

As in, I cannot find the motivation to do anything more than lay in bed watching Gossip Girl and drinking insane amounts of green tea.  For the whole entire week.  (Also, don’t judge the GG.  It’s officially my guilty pleasure).

It is also this resignation of my cranium that has put me in a dark, uncharacteristic succession of intense procrastination that I cannot seem to shake off no matter how acute my anxiety becomes.

Side effects of my procrastination have resulted in me putting off shopping and packing for London until yesterday afternoon (I leave tomorrow) as well as clicking multiple “Read More” links on posts concerning Zodiac signs and guitar tuning (I don’t play guitar).  (Yet).

Luckily, I was able to force myself into packing and getting my shit together yesterday/today, and I’m (almost) ready to leave for London tomorrow!  Yay!

My new goal is to motivate myself for the two more summer classes I start in London on Monday.

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If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a sort of Mexican food kick lately.  First it was Chinese food, and now it’s cilantro lime shredded chicken and burrito bowls.

As it turns out, I need to get as much Mexican food into my body as I can in the next day, because Europe has no authentic Mexican food.

There are many European people that have never even had real Mexican (or Tex-Mex for that matter).

It’s the sad truth, and I’m not quite sure what to do with my life except console myself with Indian food and conversations with cute British boys.

(Life is so hard, right?)

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Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

2 bell peppers, cut into thin strips

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c. olive oil

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2-1 tsp. onion powder (to taste)

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. oregano

Tabasco, to taste

1 lime, juiced

 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Place chicken strips, peppers, and onions in a zipper plastic bag or plastic bowl with a lid.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Pour marinade over chicken, peppers, and onions.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24.

When ready to cook, heat 2 Tbs. cooking oil in a large saute pan on medium heat.  Remove chicken, peppers, and onions, and add to saute pan.  Discard marinade.

Cook until chicken is cooked through and peppers and onions are soft, about 8 minutes.

Serve with tortillas, and other taco toppings.

Serves 4.

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I <3 u Mexican food.

I’ll see you in a month.

Make sure to check in for my London posts in the coming weeks!

And while I’m gone, make sure to indulge in some tacos and cheeseburgers for me.

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Song of the Day: Bear–The Antlers

A Mint Green Summer

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It’s warm in Reno!  Officially.  I wore a sundress.  No givsies backsies.

Aside from the fact that I’ve been stuck inside everyday in a 3 week Labor Economics class, I’ve been really enjoying my summer so far with BBQs and bike rides.  I’ve yet to make it to Tahoe (stomach flu is out to get me), but I will be there this weekend no matter what!

Catch ya girl on the beach with an iced tea in her hand.

Or something that sounds a little cooler…?

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Also, I have some very very very veryyyyyyyy exciting news.  I will be studying for a month this summer in London through my university!  I’m so excited to explore the city and post fun little things I do on SSL.

I’m going to get so British guys.

So British.

Anyways, since I’ll probably be busy with my studies and traveling around London, I want to start a weekly post where I list a few cool things I come upon throughout the week.  This could be a piece of art at a museum, a fun outfit I wear, a nice meal, a new song/video I find, a great cup of coffee, or anything else that I love.  Basically my “happy things”, which is something that I actually think about, but have never expressed in writing.  Since I believe that happiness is unlimited, I will not have a set number of happy things that I post about.  If I happen to have 10, then I will write about 10.  If I have 2, then the same.

And of course, I will write a few regular posts when I can (except for recipes, because I won’t have kitchen access).

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If anyone has some recommendations for London or Paris please please please tell me!  I’m looking for some fun, local things to do once I get tired of tourist attractions.  So far, I’m seeing The Strokes and that’s about my whole plan.

Yep.  Really killin it with the planning.

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*Song of the Day: England–The National*

Cabbage Crunch Salad

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Reno weather has finally gotten much more sunny and much less rainy.  I don’t really quite understand what’s happening but the rain was non-stop for like, 2 weeks.

At this point, I’m not sure why I’m even surprised with crazy Reno weather.  One time a few months ago I walked into the grocery store in 80 degree, completely sunny weather and walked outside to a blizzard.

It may not have been quite that dramatic, but it was pretty close.  Anyways, that’s typical Reno weather.  Welcome to Northern Nevada!

Although I have loved the constant rain, cool weather, and cloudy skies, I’m also really excited for it to clear up so that I can go to Tahoe and lay on the beach next weekend!  I’ve heard it’s going to be in the 70s and sunny.  Being an OG Vegas girl (where you barely wear clothes from mid-May to mid-August), I’m going to need to wear a swimsuit very soon.  Although I definitely consider myself a Renonian at this point in my life, I can’t completely get away from that part of my upbringing.

Anyways, to celebrate the warmer weather, my friend invited me to go to a BBQ that her friends are hosting.  To feel like I contributed in some sort (and since I feel the incessant need to please people), I decided to make one of my family’s favorite recipes.

To be honest, I’m not really sure where this recipe came from, but I know my grandma has been making it for forever.  We make it quite frequently in the summer, which is why it’s definitely my BBQ staple item.

The recipe itself seems a little odd.  It is.  I may have even used the adjective “ghetto” to describe it before.

But it’s soooo good, and you definitely need to make for your Memorial Day BBQ.

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Ingredients:

Salad:

1 head green cabbage, shredded

4 green onions, chopped

1 c. slivered almonds

4 Tbs. sesame seeds

2 packages chicken flavored Top Ramen

Dressing:

1 c. vegetable oil

6 Tbs. sugar

4 Tbs. cider or red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 package Top Ramen seasoning

Heat oven to 350* F.  Spread almonds and sesame seeds evenly on a baking sheet.  Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until nuts and seeds are evenly toasted.  Cool.

Combine shredded cabbage, green onions, almonds, and sesame seeds in a large salad bowl.  Set aside.

Combine dressing ingredients until smooth.  Toss dressing with salad, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to marinate cabbage.

Right before serving, crush Ramen noodles and toss with salad.  Serves about 20.

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Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!  Thank you to our amazing troops, past and present, who have fought for our freedom.

We are so, so grateful.

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Song of the Day: For Emma by Bon Iver

Cilantro Lime Chicken Burrito Bowls

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Remember when I promised you guys this recipe when I posted  cilantro lime shredded chicken a couple weeks ago?

Well…here it is.

I did it.

*claps for you Sara*

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This recipe is essentially a play on the burrito bowls from Qdoba, Chipotle, etc. etc.  I’m normally a big fan of these places because I can get a decent fast-food meal without actually eating fast food.

 Not that I don’t ever eat fast food, because I think we’re all guilty of doing that sometimes, but if I want to still feel good about myself at the end of the meal, I choose Qdoba (mostly because it’s on the way home).

Although, I’m still a little bitter that there are NO Cafe Rios in Reno.  Whywhywhywhywhy??

I literally crave their pork barbacoa.

I’ve had dreams about it before.

Yeah.  Really.

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However, I still really love Qdoba and Chipotle.

One of my favorite nights from last semester actually happened in Qdoba.  My friends and I randomly ended up there one night (probably way too late in the first place).  Luckily for us Reno college kids, there’s a late night Qdoba stop approximately five minutes away from campus, so it’s always a no-brainer on where to go if nothing else is open or will let you in.

Anyways, we essentially ended up at Qdoba until 1 a.m. eating chips and salsa and laughing manically over each others’ weird family stories.

For the sake of privacy, I will not get too far into these family stories, but just know nothing is more fun than watching your friend practically choke on a burrito because she’s laughing so hard at a horrifying incident somebody experienced at Disneyland.

Trust me.

Ingredients

Cilantro Lime Chicken

Rice

1 1/2 c. brown rice

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 c. water

Zest of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

Onion powder, to taste

1 chicken bouillon cube

Corn Avocado Salsa

1 c. corn

1/2 avocado, cubed

1/2 jalapeno, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Lime juice, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings

Beans, cheese, salsa, tortilla strips, cilantro, lettuce, etc. etc.

For the rice:  Heat about a tablespoon of cooking oil over medium heat.  Add brown rice and coat in oil.  Stir constantly until rice is browned (but not burnt!).  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add water, lime zest, lime juice, onion powder, and chicken bouillon cube.  Cover and cook for 45 minutes, or until water is absorbed.  Add cilantro and more lime juice right before serving.

For the salsa: Heat oven to 350* F.  Spread corn evenly on a greased baking sheet.  Drizzle corn with a little olive oil and salt.  Toss to coat.  Roast for about 10 minutes, or until corn is slightly browned.  Let corn cool for about 10 minutes.

Mix corn, avocado, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper.  Adjust seasonings as needed.

To assemble: Place a couple scoops of rice in a bowl.  Top with chicken, salsa, and other chosen toppings.  Serves 4.

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These could be made with beef, pork, seafood, etc.  To change it up, you could add a bunch of salad ingredients and make it a burrito bowl salad.  (Also, if you don’t want to roast the corn, you can make the salsa with plain corn).

I won’t tell.

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Song of the Day: Forced to Love–Broken Social Scene

Stripes in Downtown Las Vegas

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Hello hello.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but in many parts of the country, it’s very pretty and springy with warm, breezy weather that makes you crave popsicles and want to wear nothing but flowy, pastel colored dresses.  Unless you’re in Reno.  No, if you’re in Reno, it’s sweater weather with rain and gusts of wind.

While I really appreciate the sweater weather with rain, I do not appreciate the wind whatsoever.  Although the wind makes me very, very sad, the Sierra Nevadas are getting some much needed snow/rain which is really exciting.  Also, it makes it much easier to be inside taking a three week labor economics course.  (However, I really can’t complain because my professor is this cute retired old man that is definitely a feminist, wears oxfords every day, and claims he “gets off on economics”).

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While I was in Vegas over the weekend, the weather was sunny and averaged in the 70s, so my brother and I decided to go downtown in Las Vegas and snap a few pics.  By downtown Las Vegas, I mean old downtown, not The Strip!

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This was our first time being down there.  It’s kind of funny how you can live somewhere your whole life, and never see some of its best parts until you move away.

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This is my little brother in front of a coffee shop sign I fell in love with at The Container Park.  Hi Garrett.

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Pants: RSQ   T-shirt: H&M   Bag: Vintage   Necklace: Old   Belt: Old   Shoes: Audrey Brooke

*Thanks to my brother for taking many of these pictures <3*

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Song of the Day: Peach–Your Friend