Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall Chili Recipes, Ya'll

With the weather being cool and rainy lately (especially rainy at this particular moment), I've really been craving warm and hearty crock-pot meals for dinner. In the last few weeks, I've pulled my crock-pot out more times than I haven't. I've always been a huge fan of soups this time of year, but Ryan is convinced that soup does not constitute a "meal." Since he was never really on board, I rarely ever make any sort of soup, including stews, chili, and chowders. HOWEVER, we had friends over a couple of weeks ago to watch the Pats game and I made a big batch of chili to share. Surprisingly, Ryan actually enjoyed it! So, clearly with this sudden change of heart I have been making as many variations of "soup" that I can get away with. Tonight, I'm sharing two of my favorite chili recipes, which happen to be polar opposites of each other. The first is a traditional chili recipe I have made time and time again, tweaked from one of my favorite Southern Living recipe books. The recipe makes a TON... I mean a ton! But it can always be cut in half OR frozen to make TWO meals!

Traditional Big Batch Chili 


Ingredients: 

  • 4 lbs. Ground Beef
  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 3 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 (8 oz) cans Tomato Sauce 
  • 1 (6 oz) can Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 cup Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 (16 oz) cans Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
  • Toppings: Sour Cream, Cheddar Cheese, Green Onions 
Directions: 
1. Cook ground beef until no longer pink; drain. 
2. Place meat in slow cooker; stir in the rest of the ingredients. 
3. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours or high 5-6 hours. Serve with desired toppings

Simple and Traditional! 


The next chili recipe is a little more unique. I had a couple of sweet potatoes in the house that I wanted to cook up and I thought they would be a great addition to a turkey chili, but I COULD NOT find a recipe online that I liked...so, I made one up! I was a little nervous about how this would turn out, but it was delicious! Next time, I will probably add more beans. (I didn't add as many this time because my friend Heidi doesn't like them and she was coming over for dinner.) 

Turkey & Sweet Potato Chili 

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. Ground Turkey
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes, diced
  • 30 oz. Tomato Sauce
  • 30 oz. Diced Tomatoes 
  • 1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 2 tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Cumin
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste 
Directions: 

1. Brown ground turkey and onion; transfer to crock-pot.
2. Combine remaining ingredients and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours.


There you have it! Two very different, very tasty chili recipes to try out during this wonderful time of year!

Happy Hump Day, ya'll!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Visitors For Weeks

This past weekend rounded out our month long stint in the bed and breakfast business! We absolutely loved hosting each and every guest and getting to share our home away from home with our family and friends from all over! Our first guests came to us around mid-September and can be read about here

Week 2:
 
For our second weekend, we hosted our brother and sister-in-law, Brandon and Rachel. They came in on a Saturday afternoon and  after a rocky start to the day (missed flights and horrible customer service...), we decided it would be best to head STRAIGHT to one of the many, many bars in Boston. I mean, who wouldn't want need a beer or two after a morning like that?! We spent the day walking around the Quincy Market area before heading across the street to the North End for some drinks and dinner. Eliot and Lauren ended up making their way into the city to meet up with us at Fiore, where we sat upstairs at the rooftop bar, which was awesome! When we decided we were ready to eat, we made our way over to a restaurant called The Living Room for some seafood. Since it was such a nice night, we decided to sit outside once again to enjoy our dinner before calling it a night.

The next day, we drove out to Marina Bay for brunch at Captain Fishbones. This place is seriously our favorite brunch stop. I mean it's a $10 all-you-can-eat brunch buffet right on the bay. Need I say more? After brunch, we drove down to Newport to explore for the rest of the day! Before getting into the heart of this city, we stopped a town early at a local winery for a tasting or two. The name of the winery was super creative... wait for it... Newport Winery! It was a gorgeous day and the property was pretty amazing! We tasted five different wines before going on a quick tour of the property and barrel room. Needless to say, we had a pretty fun time. Once we finished up there, we drove into the heart of Newport to walk around the town for a bit, stopping for dinner at The Smoke House ( I think?) which was delicious! We went into a few shops after before deciding it was time to head back home for the night. We spent the rest of their trip at the Sam Adams Brewery and other places around Boston.

 





 
 
 
 
 

Week 3:
Brandon and Rachel left on Tuesday and my Uncle Dave and Aunt Carolyn flew in on the following Friday. Since I was at work, Ryan drove into the city to pick them up in my car, which they took out to explore Hingham's Shipyard for the afternoon. Friday night for dinner we went to a hibachi restaurant in Braintree.

Saturday morning, we woke up nice and early and I made a quiche for breakfast. Once everyone was dressed and ready to go, we drove into the city, stopping at the Christian Science Church, Trinity Church, Quincy Market, and Harvard Square/Yard. While Ryan and I feel like we know all of the super touristy spots by heart now (I mean... we could probably GIVE the Sam Adams brewery tour!) we had never been to the two churches, both of which were pretty cool experiences. For dinner, we met some new friends, one of which was in Uncle Dave's class and now works for his old company, in the North End at Fiore. We rounded the night out with a couple cannoli's from Mike's.




On Sunday we headed back into the city for one more day of fun. This time, we got tickets for a trolley tour which came with entry to a Boston harbor cruise. The trolley took us all over the town, but we only got off in Charlestown and the old Navy yard to pay a little visit to Old Ironsides. While we all really wanted to do a Duck tour, I highly recommend the trolley tour...I think you get more for your money, especially if you get tickets to the harbor cruise as well! We took the last cruise out into the harbor around 4-4:30, which was a perfect time to go out as the sun was setting. Since we were all wiped by the end of the day, we headed back home, stopping at Papa Gino's for some pizza dinner. Monday morning, I dropped our guests off at the rental car place so that they could continue their journey through New England for some fall colors!






 
While it's been a whirlwind of a month, we've enjoyed spending time with each and every one of our guests! We had a great time exploring our city even further with our families, but if I don't see Quincy Market for a while I'll be a happy girl.

To switch things up this weekend, we're leaving the city behind for some good old fashioned fall fun apple picking! Have a great weekend, ya'll!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The One Where The In-Laws Come to Town: Pt. 1

Hello Hello!! I know this is super late, seeing as we're going into weekend #3 of visitors up in Boston... but better late than never again, right? (Clearly I have not been very timely with my blog updates, but such is life.)

Anywho, a couple of Saturday's ago, Ryan and I drove in to Logan Airport to pick up Ryan's mom, Susan, and Aunt Jane for a long weekend of fun! As soon as we had our visitors in tow, we drove straight to Newbery Street for some lunch and shopping. We decided to eat lunch at Joe's on Newbury before walking up and down the street, checking out a couple shops and enjoying the beautiful weather. Once we had our fill of Newbury, we got back into the car and drove over to Quincy Market area. Around 4, we stopped in to the Red Barn Cafe for some afternoon coffee to take with us while we did some souvenir shopping in the area. Since the day had started pretty early for our guests, we decided to head back to the apartment fairly early to change into some comfy clothes, relax on the couch, order some pizza, and watch a movie before calling it a night.

In Quincy Market!
On Sunday morning, we woke up, ate a little breakfast, and headed to church in Quincy. After church, we made the short(ish) trip to Salem to explore the Massachusetts town known for killing off "witches" way back when. Neither Ryan nor I had ever been to Salem so this was a new experience for all of us! We showed  up in the town with empty stomachs, so our first order of business was getting some lunch. We walked around for a little bit before settling on Murphy's Pub (I swear we were in MA not Ireland!!). After lunch, we walked over to the Witch House to take a little tour of the former house of one of the judges in the Salem Witch Trials.

 
 
Also in Salem, we walked around a very, very old graveyard which would be very cool/creepy during the Halloween season. Actually the whole town would probably get pretty creepy for the entire month of October. We also searched high and low for the PERFECT souvenir for Aunt Jane to take home to Beth...with little luck. However, our search did bring us to some pretty interesting stores. One of them housed a real-life "witch" who had an alter set up in her store (which was full of potions and spells and other nonsense) to send messages and cigarettes to the dead, because apparently once a smoker always a smoker....
 

 


While Salem is known for some pretty messed up stuff, they really seemed to embrace their history. There were people all over the place dressing the part. However creepy the overall feel of the town was, we still really enjoyed our little visit and the areas we walked around were pretty cute! We would definitely go back at some point. Just not in October. I am not into the whole scare-the-bejeebers out of yourself activities.

On Monday, Ryan and I unfortunately needed to work, so Susan and Aunt Jane spent the day entertaining themselves around Weymouth. Shortly after I got home (to a pot roast cooking in the crock pot and an apple pie chilling on a rack- seriously love having mom's around!!) , the four of us headed to the shipyard to enjoy the beautiful weather and walk around for a bit.


 

We walked around the docks, Old Navy, and a couple other areas before heading back to the apartment to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal  and apple pie. We spent the remainder of the night hanging out and playing cards!


We had an absolutely wonderful time visiting with Susan and Aunt Jane and feel so blessed that they were able to get out here to spend a couple of days with us!! Miss you guys and can't wait to see everyone again around Christmas time!!

Tomorrow we get new guests for the weekend! Happy Friday, ya'll!!


 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

101 in 1001: Go To A Concert at the TD Garden

Last Monday (Better late than never on getting this post up, right?!?), Ryan and I were privileged enough to be able to take one of his customers to an Eagles concert at the Garden. This just so happened to be one of my 101 list items, which I can now HAPPILY cross off!

After work on Monday, Ryan and I hopped in the car and made the drive in to Boston with surprisingly minimal traffic. We parked at the Garden lot and walked about half a mile over to the North End, where we were meeting Ryan's customer and wife for dinner. We ended up eating at a new-to-us place called L'Osteria, which came highly recommended by the other couple. I am very happy to report that dinner definitely did not disappoint! With full bellies, we made our way back over to the Garden to find our seats and enjoy some music from one of America's legendary bands!

We didn't know this before we arrived, but the concert was basically a timeline of the history of the Eagles. The show started out with just Don Henley and Glen Frey sitting on stools, playing some of their first songs while giving commentary of how the rest of the group formed. One by one, Tim Schmit and Joe Walsh walked on stage, along with some other guys that played with the band but weren't credited members.

 
 
So you'll have to excuse the quality of these pictures... We weren't allowed to bring cameras into the venue or take pictures on our phones, so all of these pictures were pretty much taken while trying to hide my phone from the guards standing by! Not the best but you get the gist! Our seats were awesome and the music was awesomer (that's totally a word...right?!) 



The Eagles played pretty much every song of theirs that has even been popular plus a couple other songs that I assume were from their newest album released in 2007. The best part of the concert though was seeing each individual personality come out. I mean, they are all so different and each got to lead a section of the concert. Joe Walsh is a freakin' riot! Although, it's pretty evident that he has taken a drug or two in his day....




Packed House!

 
All in all, I can't think of a cooler band to see perform at the Garden! Not only did we get to listen to some AWESOME music all night long, but now I get to cross another item off of my list! Win and win!
 
Happy Thursday Night, Ya'll!! Friday is on it's way!!
 


Friday, September 12, 2014

A Real Treat

While in Ireland, Ryan and I couldn't really communicate with our families as often as we're used to. We wanted to keep them apprised of our adventures across the pond but we didn't really have much time (or Wifi) to spend calling home. Not to mention we were five hours ahead of our normal time zone. I've always been a fan of sending letters and thought this would be the perfect way to let our families know we were thinking of them along the way. Enter Treat Greeting Cards . For those of you that haven't heard of Treat Greeting Cards, it is the newest company under the Shutterfly umbrella, specializing in affordable and customizable cards and gifts for every occasion, with tons of absolutely adorable designs. Treat makes sending "snail mail" so much more exciting- I mean who wouldn't want to receive a special card in the mail with their very own face plastered all over it?!?

Before we left for Ireland, I perused their website, picking out the card I wanted to customize and send back home since I knew we wouldn't have much time once we were over there. The entire process was incredibly easy and our card came together in minutes. On top of that, Treat offers to mail the cards directly to your recipient, meaning we wouldn't even have to wait until we got home to mail these bad boys out! Win win win!


Family, I hope you know we were thinking of ya'll, even while we were out exploring the country! I also hope you enjoyed your BEAUTIFUL cards! It was really a "treat" putting them together for ya'll!



Side Note: My 101 in 1001 list has been updated and can be viewed by clicking the "101 in 1001" tab at the top of the page! 

Happy Friday, ya'll!! Enjoy your weekend! 


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Our Irish Holiday: Part III

Hello and happy Sunday, ya'll! The rest of last week was jam-packed with the new job and starting up another class. This semester I am only taking one class though, so while that class is going to be difficult, it CAN'T be as bad as taking three classes in one semester... RIGHT?!?! Here's hoping, anyways! 

I think I'm going to try to jam the last three full days into this one post, so bear with me if it gets a little long... 

Day 5: On our fifth morning, we woke up at our little cottage in Glenbeigh, showered up, ate breakfast, and hit the road to head to the Dingle peninsula. Dingle was about 45 minutes from us but we had been told by our bartender in Cork to stop in a little beach town called Inch on the way to break our drive up. The morning started out kind of gloomy and overcast (as most mornings do over there) but luckily for us, the clouds parted and the sun came out for just a little bit right as we got to Inch, making for some pretty views! We spent a little bit of time hanging out on the beach (watching some CRAZY people windsurf) before walking up to the local coffee shop for some to-go coffees for the rest of our drive. 



We spent the next couple of hours driving the dingle peninsula, pulling off every five or so minutes to admire the view, taking pictures along the way. We met some pretty friendly (and hungry) birds along the way that seemed to follow us from stop to stop, which led to some good entertainment. Luckily, we didn't finish our chips from the lunch I packed so we had a little something to treat our new friends. 









Our ultimate destination for the day was at the westernmost point in Ireland, called Slea Head Drive. When we got there, we noticed people hiking up the nearby mountain and decided to follow along. We estimate that the hike was about a mile long, which wasn't too bad, except the entire trail was COVERED in sheep poop and it was extremely windy, causing me to lose my footing a couple times. I may or may not have landed on some doo-doo along the way. Once we got to the top, the wind was even stronger, but the view was amazing! 


Once we had hiked back down to the bottom, we got back in the car and headed back to Glenbeigh, stopping for dinner in a little town named Killorglin. We ate dinner at a place called Bunker Tavern, which was just okay. The highlight of the meal came well...after the meal when we decided to try our first Irish coffee's of the trip. The bartender explained how to make an Irish coffee to us, telling us that true Irish coffees will have equal parts whiskey and coffee and a homemade whipped cream on top. I've decided that this is pretty much the only way anyone can get me to drink whiskey. But honestly, you could probably put any alcohol in coffee and I'd enjoy it.


Since this was our last night in the cottage, we decided to spend the rest of the evening polishing off the rest of the Guinnesses in the fridge.

Day 6: This morning, we loaded all of our stuff in the car bright and early and left Glenbeigh for our next location, Doolin! To get to Doolin, you either have to drive around a waterway called "The Mouth of the Shannon" or take a ferry across the bay, car and all. Since it was supposed to save us time and miles, we opted to take the ferry.
On the Ferry! No, I did not style my hair that way. It was another pretty windy day! 
Once we got off the ferry, we decided to go the more direct route towards the Cilffs of Moher (pronounced "more"), which put us on some pretty TINY and windy roads. We made it to the cliffs in good time, however, the weather was so foggy that we literally could not see the end of the parking lot we were in, let alone the cliffs. We decided to stick it out for a while in the hopes that the weather would turn around so we spent a good bit of time in the visitor center, wandering around the gift shop and checking out the museum on the cliffs. We ate lunch in the cafeteria there, ordering two bowls of the seafood chowder to go alongside the sandwiches I packed. While we were eating lunch, we noticed that the clouds we clearing up a bit. About five minutes later, the sun decided to grace us with it's presence so we packed our lunches up and headed outside as fast as we could! 





The cliffs were seriously majestic and I'm so glad that we got to spend some time there while the sun was shining. Once we had walked around for a while and gotten our fill (if you ever really can get your fill of a view like that), we decided to make the drive up the road to our bed and breakfast for the night in Doolin. We stayed at the O'Conners Guesthouse, which was absolutely the most beautiful bed and breakfast of the trip! 



Once we got checked in, we walked up the road, past some very friendly cows, to the famous local Doolin Pub, O'Conners for a drink before dinner. We passed by a local fudge shop, buying some Irish cream fudge, dark chocolate fudge, and a caramel shortbread bar. At the bar, we ordered a couple of drinks and spent some time chatting with a local gentlemen who seemed to know everything about everything, which was pretty fascinating. 



We walked back towards our bed and breakfast to a different pub, Fitzpatrick's for dinner, however, they had about an hour wait which wasn't going to work for us. Fortunately, there was a little pizza shop next door with no wait. 


After dinner, we went back to Fitzpatrick's and listened to a band called "An Ril Dil" play music for the rest of the night, buying their C.D. to take home with us on the way out. 


Day 7: On our last full day in Ireland, we woke up, ate ONE more traditional Irish breakfast, and hit the road to drive back to Dublin (about a 3 hour drive.) 

Get in my belly.... 
On the way back to Dublin, we stopped in a little town called Kilbeggan to tour the local whiskey distillery.


While Ryan and I have toured the Sam Adams brewery a few times (like 6 or 7 to be more precise), we knew nothing of how whiskey is made so this tour was really interesting to both of us. This distillery was split into two different sections. Half of it was the old distillery and the other half was the working distillery where Killbeggan, John Locke, and Tyrconnel are all made and bottled today. We toured both sections (my favorite part) before going to the tasting room for a couple samples (Ryan's favorite part). 





After the tasting, we were both pretty hungry so we stopped in at the cafe onsite for some lunch before continuing on our drive to Dublin. Once we got into the city and found our hotel, we got unpacked and decided to walk over to the Temple Bar area again for dinner. On the walk, we stopped in at a liquor store known for giving out lots of free samples, where Ryan purchased his first bottle of Irish whiskey. Once we got into Temple Bar, we started hearing some live music and decided to walk towards it. Turns out, a band made up of three young Irish men had pretty much taken over an entire block, with pubs at each of the four corners. People were outside drinking, dancing, and listening to some good music so we decided to join them, grabbing some beers at the Mercantile Tavern. 


We grabbed dinner at Trinity Pub and more drinks at a different pub closer to the hotel before calling it on our last night in Ireland. The next morning we woke up pretty early, packed our stuff up, and drove to the airport to drop our rental car off and hop on a plane heading to Boston, ending our Irish holiday.

This trip was amazing and gave us memories we will cherish forever. Ireland, you always hold a special little place in my heart.