Creative Moment: Relax

I’ve been running around DC like a madwoman today, filming tidbits of political celebrities for work (Arne Duncan is by far my favorite secretary. Yes, he is one of only two Secretaries that I’ve actually met).

After what felt like 24 hours of explaining film shots, setting up cameras, breaking them down, and repeating the entire process, I sat down at my desk and heaved a sigh that could have continued for days.

And then I found this video on Colossal. If you’ve had a hectic day, just watch and listen. And, if you have the energy, read up on it here.

A new face.

portfolio screenshot

I have a couple of confessions to make.

I haven’t been cooking Sweetsonian-worthy meals or desserts lately — since I’ve been so crazy freelancing, I’ve actually taken up a less indulgent pattern of eating to make up for the lack of exercise.

I’ve also been freelancing more than I thought I ever would, which leaves less time for, well, everything else. Clearly, I love love looooove what I do, so I’ve been dedicating more hours than exist in a day to my work. But, the upside is that when I blog, I won’t just be blogging about food.

Today, I gave my design portfolio a lighter, brighter face. I would absolutely love if you would take a look! And I hope you have a lovely week ahead. I’ll work on posting some recipes from photos that I’ve already taken but have yet to write about yet.

Bicycle Obsession

While I was in Los Angeles, I upgraded to a road bike.

I am not ashamed to admit that I fell head over heels in love with an adorable refurbished purple bike with pink drop handlebars.

I had my dad help me take it apart, box it up, and ship it to the UPS store near my house — where it is scheduled to arrive today. I’ll be putting this baby back together after work, and riding it home.

Needless to say, I’ve been obsessed with bikes. I even prepped myself with a dedicated Pinterest board.

So, in celebration for my new bike’s arrival, here are some adorable bicycle-related finds that I’m also swooning over. And below, check out the new wheels for yourself!

Kate Spade Tandem Bicycle Stationery, $25.00 // Wine Bottle Bike Belt, $50 // Bicycle Plates, $44
Bicycle Necklace, $28 // Bicycle Scarf, $10 // CB2 Bike Rack, $50 // Bike and Owl Pillow, $78


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On New Year’s Resolutions

Looking back — 2010 was good to me.  I’ve never been one to set new year’s resolutions, but I’ve always believed that self-improvement was a never-ending goal.  And if I make a “resolution,” per se, it’s one of those “always put in one hundred percent” resolutions.  Like one year, I decided to look my best every day.  It wasn’t just about putting on make up or doing my hair before leaving the house, but about exercising, eating well, not drinking too much, and dressing to impress.  All in all, my resolutions gear towards making good decisions.
And sure, everyone makes bad decisions every now and then.  Like when my roommate ate her entire Advent Calendar in one sitting, or the time I had to opt out of a half marathon because I ran my body into the ground by running six days a week (I know, so stupid).  But for the most part, this year was filled with some epic wins, and minimal fails:

  • Staying employed.  Take that, recession.
  • Upgrading to a digital SLR — photography improved significantly.
  • Running my first half marathon (and signing up for my second!)
  • Leaving the federal government for a much better non-profit job.
  • Snowmageddon.  Best week ever!
  • Travel like whoa: Boston, NYC, LA, Delaware (two times each), then Louisiana/Mississippi, Bogotá, and a mini plantation in Virginia (arguably a Dachshund farm).
  • Hosting countless dinners at my house… favorites below.
  • Successfully teaching Rachel how to cook and run — our friends in Los Angeles couldn’t believe it.
  • Breaking into the international development blogosphere.  I need to work on that more.
  • Cooking about half of Christmas dinner for my family in California, thus demonstrating the cooking skills I’ve built up since moving out :)
  • Convincing a significant amount of people to move to DC this year.  You know who you are.

    And now, Sweetsonian in review — here are some of my favorite recipes, along with your favorites (thank you, Google Analytics).

    • Sweet Potato Fries and a Spicy Tomato Garlic Aioli.  By far the most popular recipe — it got almost 8k page views a couple of days after I posted it!  I have to say, it was one of my favorites, and definitely a favorite amongst my friends.  I made a variation of it for my family’s Christmas dinner in California — huge hit.
    • Bacon Jam.  I didn’t realize how obsessed the world is with bacon.
    • Mexican Tacos.  What a fun day that was!  I miss the days I spent with Silje, our Norwegian embassy exchange intern.  Here’s a resolution: see Silje this year.
    • Almond Ice Cream.  I just bought a new ice cream maker.  My affinity for almond ice cream will be a primary motivator behind my half marathon.
    • Pizza Bianca.  Also a favorite memory of mine — having my best friend visiting for July Fourth weekend in Washington.
    • Waffle Iron Panini.  You really should try this.  No need to buy a panini grill!
    • Chocolate Waffles.  By far my favorite thing on this blog, hands down.
    Happy new year, world!  Thanks for reading, commenting, tasting, and testing my kitchen work.  I look forward to all of your feedback in the year to come.

    I Know, I Know…

    Hey world (or the 8 people that do actually read this).  I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise.  I’ve gotten your facebook messages, and frankly I’m shocked that you’re tired of looking at snickerdoodles.  Blasphemy!  Pat would be very disappointed in you ::cough:: Diana (although I’m disappointed in his lack of phlog updates, so I guess it evens out).
    I confess, cooking has not exactly been at the top of my priority list for the past couple of weeks.  Work has been obscenely busy and life has been slightly roller-coaster-like lately, so I’m going to stick with that excuse for now.  It’s legit, I swear.  Anyway, for your entertainment, here is a picture of the wine-bottle terrarium I built in the fall, when I first moved to DC.  Isn’t it pretty?
    Sadly, I found a weed in my bottle garden last weekend.  How in the world a weed was able to weasel its way into my wine bottle is beyond my comprehension.  I thought that might strike some food for thought.  At least it provides for some pretty green in the dead of winter.  Anyway, once I get a spare moment in daylight to photograph some more recipes, I’ll bounce right back.  Winter is killing me, slowly.

    Feta Artichoke SDT Stuffed Chicken

    It’s true, I’m infatuated with the combination of home made pesto and feta cheese. Considering this is my second savory post has both those ingredients, you’ll probably see this combination come up again relatively soon (I can assure you of this, since I already have my next non-dessert recipe planned).
    Maybe I’m just on a pesto-feta kick. Maybe not. The “kick” has lasted at least four years. Anyway, normally I include sun-dried tomatoes in the chicken, but a friend came over for dinner, so I thought I’d mix it up and relocate the sun-dried tomatoes into couscous as a side dish. Note to self: experiment when you are not cooking for anyone else… especially friends donating their photography skills, like the one that joined me for dinner that night.
    Not that the couscous wasn’t enjoyable… it was okay. I’ve adjusted the recipe to include almonds, pine nuts, basil, and oregano. Will post later. These pictures really focus on the couscous, but the meal was all about the chicken. Use your imagination to understand how awesome the stuffed chicken is–It blew my photographer’s mind (in his words, anyway).

    Preheated oven to 350 degrees
    Appox. 8-inch baking dish
    2 breasts of chicken
    1/2 cup pesto sauce
    1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
    1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    3-4 artichoke hearts (either soaked in water or oil, both work well)
    2-3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    1/2 cup white wine of choice
    salt and pepper to taste
    First, chop the artichoke hearts into small chunks, maybe a quarter of an inch big. Then, dice the sun-dried tomatoes into similar pieces. Combine the artichoke hearts, tomatoes, pesto, feta, mozzarella, and olive oil in a regular-sized serving bowl, and toss thoroughly. I prefer to just use my hands to mix this–it’s easier. Just make sure your hands are clean.
    Then, carefully make an incision into the side of the chicken breasts, parallel to the cutting board, and slice open a pocket as large as you can without piercing the other sides of the meat. Fill each breast with as much of the stuffing as you can, and press down to seal. Place both in your baking dish, drizzle with a little olive oil, pesto, salt, and pepper, and then baste in the white wine for flavor and moisture. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the juices run clear. For decoration, pull the dish out 5-10 minutes before it is ready, and sprinkle some leftover artichoke-pesto-feta mix on top of each, and let it bake for the remaining time.

    Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers

    Stuffed vegetables are something I have been wanting to do for a long time. It’s something that we always had at home, and my family’s recipe was good, but not akin to my particular tastes. It took me years to even so much as appreciate the taste of bell peppers. A friend called me one day to arrange a Saturday night of cooking and reality TV–I can work with that.

    These stuffed peppers are awesome, and not too difficult.


    Preheated oven to 350 degrees
    1 large pot
    1 baking dish

    4 large bell peppers
    1 pound ground turkey
    3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 onion, finely diced
    1 medium sized zucchini, also diced
    1 cup sliced mushrooms
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    ~24 oz. pasta sauce of choice (I prefer homemade)
    Italian spices to taste (oregano, basil, thyme, etc.)
    1 cup mozzarella cheese
    salt and pepper to taste


    First, wash the peppers and, cut the tops off, and clean out the seeds. Set them aside for now.

    Then, heat the olive oil, garlic, and onion over medium heat, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the ground turkey, and brown the meat. Then add the mushrooms, zucchini, only half of the tomato sauce, and spices to taste (including the salt and pepper). Cover and let simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes. Then, remove from heat and add most of the mozzarella cheese (leave some for garnishing).

    Using a large spoon, fill each of the peppers as much as you can, and arrange them in a baking dish. Decorate with mozzarella cheese, and drizzle olive oil over the peppers. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.