There is nothing that can greet you in the morning like a wonderful cup of coffee. As I write this, I’m still sipping on my first cup of absinthe-flavored coffee. There are few things that can start your day off quite like a strong cup o’ joe and it’s important to know how to do it right! Don’t be disillusioned – we don’t make French press or espresso every morning of the week. We’re normal and have a coffeemaker where we can preset the time it brews, the night before. Before that, we had a little 4-cup coffeemaker that wasn’t even capable of being preset. But we certainly do enjoy making more specialty coffees, particularly on the weekends! Below you will find the instructions for making a wonderful brew of French press coffee, with step-by-step pictures (don’t get used to that – this was easy to take pictures of along the way; I’m not usually that coordinated!).

As we wrap up the week with this final addition to our “how-to” series, I hope that some of the information we’ve provided has been enlightening and/or helpful to you in your day-to-day life. There’s so much more advice we could share on a variety of topics, but these were at the forefront of our minds when planning this little series. We just wanted to share more about where we’re coming from when we discuss certain aspects in the blog that are ingrained in our kitchen, but may be foreign concepts to you. We take many of these to heart because they are what helps our kitchen run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, which has really come to light while we’ve been living in two different cities! Together or apart, these same principles still apply. We hope you enjoy this last little nugget and as always, please feel free to leave us some feedback in the comments!

Alright, so you’ve planned your menu and done your grocery shopping. Now what? In your menu (especially if you’re following the notepad I shared in the first post), I hope you included something to pack for your lunch. If not, leftovers make great lunches! However, I’m personally not a fan of eating a hot, heavy meal in the middle of the day, which is usually what leftovers means for us. Instead, we prefer to have lunches that are ready to go or only need minimal preparation in the morning, to throw in a lunchbag and head out the door. For so many reasons, I encourage you to do the same. Controlling what you eat in the middle of the day can make a difference in your energy levels and productivity at work. Or if you’re still a student, it can take some of the stress out of making the time and finding where to grab lunch. No matter what stage of life you’re in, packing a lunch can be less intimidating and more creative than you imagine!

 

After taking the time to meal plan and create a weekly menu for yourself, the grocery shopping is the logical next step. It seems like a simple enough task – walk into a store, buy some food and other stuff – but it’s where even the best of us get tripped up. Temptations line the aisles and if you don’t go in with a plan, you are just begging the universe to point you in the direction of things you don’t need. Or perhaps there’s just that really tasty looking bag of chips on the end unit at Trader Joe’s…you just never know what traps you will fall into! Grocery shopping in an effective and efficient way is just short of being an art form. With some guidelines for yourself, you can turn it into a (fairly) painless process. Less time spent at the grocery store means more time to do other things that you probably enjoy more It can also mean more money in your pocket, but more on that in another segment of this series. Grocery shopping is one of those evil necessities you have to do, but most people typically don’t like (unless your weirdos like me and Will). Read on, friends, for tackling one of the most challenging types of errands you have!

I can’t even tell you how excited I am to share this “how-to” series with you!! This is has been planned for a few months; Will and I have bantered back and forth about it, deciding what to include, what to say and whether or not we were qualified to do a series like this. After some initial hesitation and a few poignant conversations with friends, I think the time has come to share with you just how we operate our kitchen. I often reference some of our techniques (making a menu, packing lunches, etc) and I think it would be useful to those who read this blog, to understand why we do things the way we do and what works for us. It may explain some of our recipe choices and what I’m talking about in my little intro write-ups in each blog post. I hope that through this series, you will discover ideas and suggestions that will be useful to you!

AMAZING RECIPE ALERT! Wowza, do we love this one. In fact, it took several renditions of making these before finally grabbing a picture because, well, we ate them too fast. With Will gone, I finally tackled the (slight) challenge of making these awesome vegetarian burritos. While there are so many good things about these, probably one of the best is that they are designated freezer friendly food! Yes, my friends, something on this blog that is 100% practical and freezable! Before talking about these burritos, I was reviewing older blogposts and it occurred to me: we don’t offer many freezer-specific meals. Now that I’m “temporarily single” with Will living in another town, it has taken time to adjust to my new cooking habits and eating capacities. Along with those, I’m realizing that only so much food can be consumed before it either goes bad, or you get bored of it. Therefore, my freezer is becoming my friend. Well, I’m at least trying to form a friendship with it. We’re on okay terms right now.

Occasionally I’ll get a burr up my butt to try a new food. For the last few weeks, I’ve been really hung up on wanting to try making something with artichoke at home, but was not brave enough to make it myself. I researched and saved several recipes, hoping that one day I would work up enough guts to bite the bullet and figure out how to attack one of those things. Thankfully, I waited long enough that I managed to convince Will to make something with artichoke for me instead! I had saved up this recipe for a day where we had a bunch of eggs sitting around with nothing to make with them. It just so happened to coincide with the brief few days Will was home from Italy and before he left for Blacksburg, when we came upon that need. I asked if he would be so kind as to tackle the artichokes on my behalf and he begrudgingly acquiesed. While I found this recipe to be successful (it makes great leftovers), Will strongly recommends just buying the frozen or pre-cut artichokes, as they are apparently not worth all the effort he put into them.

Tapas

Posted by Megan | Dinner, Global, Meat, Misc, Pork, Seafood, Sides

I cannot underscore how much I love that my husband loves a good kitchen challenge. We have been saying for weeks months that we wanted to do a tapas night. We even went out of our way to make sure and buy the “Spanish” cookbook from World Market, since we love our other country-specific cuisine books we’ve gotten from there. When Will was back in town for five days, we decided it was finally time to make these foods. He went out and got all the ingredients, so there would be no turning back. Being the wonderful and understanding man he is, he didn’t even expect me to help prepare this dinner, hah! We even scheduled to have it on a Friday night of one of my yoga teacher training weekends, which are in Richmond. After the long trek back, I came home to find this beautifully presented, professionally-cooked tapas night, waiting for me!

Mint Mojito

Posted by Megan | Drinks

Summertime means cocktails time! If you’ve followed the blog before, you know how much we love having an herb garden and this is why. It’s because when you want a beverage (or food) that needs something fresh, like mint, it’s right there. There is nothing worse than having a craving and needing to run to the store to complete a recipe, when you have all but one ingredient at home. I’ll admit even for this one, we didn’t have club soda so we just used water the first time. Club soda is now in our house, prepared for the next mojito craving!

I love making this recipe for lunch! Originally derived from a smattering of foods I would purchase while studying abroad in Ireland, I have adapted this for the more health-conscious Megan. This fits right in with my obsession with sweet corn, developed during that same time spent in Ireland, and my penchant for adding it to everything. Back in the day, I didn’t know how to grocery shop properly and would just wander around the Dunnes (or Tesco) picking up things I liked, here and there. That ranged from peanut butter, to kid’s chicken nuggets, to canned sweet corn and Kerrygold butter, just to top it all off. I now know the value of selecting fresh vegetables and fruits, in addition to making a game plan before wandering into a grocery store (more on that in another post, later). When I would get back to our apartment on campus, I would be left with who knows what and would try to pull it together.