DSC_0443Happy Monday folks! I hope everyone had as productive of a weekend as we did. Per usual, I spent most of my weekend involving cats! But we also managed to sprinkle in a good dose of concerts, friends and food this weekend too. It made for a particularly busy and exhausting couple of days, full of good people and good eats. Really good eats, actually. I look forward to sharing some of the things we made in the kitchen, in the future! Things like hash brown casserole and bourbon pecan chocolate chip cookies. You know, tasty, decadent, sinful foods. We saw an old friend (from grad school!), met new friends at a vegan potluck and celebrated the end of the Spurs season with our dear Spurs friends. We went to a choral/orchestra concert, a senior recital and a wind ensemble concert. I played with kittens and hung out with old cats. We cooked, we baked, we drank. All in all, a great weekend.

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Happy Friday friends! I hope you’re gearing up for a busy, fun weekend, like we are. We’ve been squeezing it all in recently, with the end of the academic year drawing to a close. I’ve been attending concerts and recitals most weekends and this one will be no exception! We’ve also been watching lots of soccer, as the BPL season comes to and end, and Will has been playing a lot as well. Plus, on top of all that, kitten season is nigh, so I have lots of adoption-related activities coming up at The Humane Society including a Kitten Shower tomorrow to garner interest in fostering kittens. On top of it all, we’ve been hosting lots of friends, now that we finally have a kitchen table that Will has completed! We had some friends from college over last weekend and are hosting our Spurs group after final games this Sunday. And then we’ve also been GOING to friends parties, including a Siete de Mayo party at Mandi and Billy’s house last weekend and are going to a Minimalist Baker-themed potluck tomorrow for a friends birthday. All the social activities!

DSC_0201We had the most epic weekend this past weekend. I got to check two things off my bucket list: see a Beatle perform live and meet an idol. On Friday, we drove down to Portland after work to see Paul McCartney perform. It was an unbelievable production, lasting 3 hours. Of course the music was incredible, but so was the artistry of the lighting, graphics, media, pyrotechnics, everything. It felt surreal to see an artist as influential as Paul perform and he was truly a gentleman and a real class act. He told stories, paid tribute to friends, performed a variety of songs from all stages of his career and genuinely seemed grateful to still be performing sold-out concerts worldwide. I can’t fully describe what an amazing experience it was to see him. Let’s just say I cried. A lot. It was overwhelming.

Sriracha Deviled EggsI got to play with a kitten yesterday at the Internet Cat Video Festival and it was the best. On Sunday, I got to hang out with some cool middle-aged and older cats. Equally the best. I could go on for hours about why I love volunteering at The Humane Society, but now that I am officially at the level where I can handle/socialize with the cats, I am thrilled. You see, there are many steps you have to take over the course of several months, in order to be allowed to handle the cats, for safety reasons (and also to make sure you’re a serious/committed volunteer). You do a LOT of cleaning of cages and food bowls. You dump a lot of stinky litter boxes in the trash. You build lots of hidey boxes and the more exciting adoption boxes for kitties to go home. You feed lots of cats their dinner. You clean up the messes they make in their cages while they watch you with feigned interest. You talk to a lot of cats and start to question your sanity as you meow back at them while doing the dishes (so many dishes). There are so many steps before the glorious day where it’s just you and a cat or kitten, chilling in an adoption room, as you play, pet and observe them to give them a stellar write-up about why they would be the perfect home companion. But when the day arrives that they go home, it is worth it. Knowing that your personal attention with a 12-y.o. senior cat, who might have arthritis issues and not be able to jump up, but will purr like a motor and let you pet him for an eternity, helped to get him a home the next day? Priceless. 

DSC_0300Though we do not define ourselves strictly as “southerners,” there are certain things that remind us of “down-home” cooking that we not-so-secretly enjoy indulging in. In the months after we’ve moved, we’ve become increasingly more interested in cooking things from the South and expanding what we have always enjoyed about Southern cooking, into a strictly-vegetarian palate. It sounds like a contradiction, but it’s true! Not everything is chicken & waffles or BBQ. In doing so, this was one of our first ventures into pairing Southern-style foods to make a fully vegetarian meal, not lacking a meat-focused central component. This ended up being dinner AND lunch leftovers one week and while it makes a ton of servings, it certainly fills you up every single time.

Sweet Potato Mac and CheeseHi everybody! It’s Courtney again. The Courtney who usually sends in sweet, fatty, overly decadent posts to guest. I do that because those are the dishes I get most excited about, but they aren’t what I eat most of the time – even 20% of the time. Most of what I eat is full of veggies and plant-based protein sources. This dish, though. This combines everything I love about a rich, winter casserole (it’s been down to the single digits here in Boston and we need things to stick to the ribs!) and features more veggies than you can shake a stick at. Even better, nearly everything is local. The Boston Public Market – a year-round indoor farmer’s market – opened this year and is right on my commute home. Everything at the market must come from within 100 miles of Boston. This has been wonderful for my life but terrible for my wallet.

Cooking With Willis LogoThe day has finally come that this has happened. I present to you, the new and improved: Cooking With WillisCooking With Willis is finally a .com/privately owned webpage!!!! EEEEEE!!!!!! And not only did we buy the domain after years of debate, we also now host on WordPress instead
of Google Blogger. This is a big deal you guys. I have literally been going back and forth about doing this for at least two years. After reading tons of research on Pinch of Yum and discovering a new website to help guide me through it all, Fabulous Blogging, I finally decided it was time to bite the bullet and convert. I appreciate everything that Google Blogger had to offer over the last three and a half years, but owning my own domain and having more personalization features for the blog were increasingly becoming top priorities. Plus knowing that WordPress was the more universally accepted blogging platform, as well as the website platform most often used in the workplace, it only made sense to do a total conversion. So following POY’s and FB’s steady instructions, I personally managed to buy a domain and hosting package, import everything from Blogger to WordPress and to select a template that we hope will work for us, at least in the immediate future.

We have casually been exploring Tacoma on the weekends through the means of open houses aka looking at homes we are nowhere near able to buy. As Will likes to remind me, our current house-buying budget is…$0. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t start to get the juices flowing regarding things we would be looking for in homes, neighborhoods to look at, and the very very beginning stages of looking at what the heck a mortgage is and all the steps you need to take to acquire one. After being in school for four more years (combined) after completing our undergraduate degrees, we kind of feel like we’re getting a fresh start on our early 20s, since we missed out on some of the things non-graduate students do. Full-time jobs with two real incomes in a partnership (okay, not everyone has this but WOW is it cool for us to finally be at this point), being able to buy 90% organic food without sacrificing other things, being able to go to sporting events (if it’s with a GroupOn or LivingSocial deal), walking to one of the many bars in our neighborhood to grab a beer “just because,” and the many other fun things that come with being a full-time adult. With those also come the savings priorities, which is where the open houses come in. After retirement and boosting the regular savings account, as adults…what should we be saving for??

Happy freshman move-in day, William & Mary! It’s almost impossible to believe that 8 years ago, we were moving into our freshman dorms and wouldn’t even meet each other for months to come. I remember it as an exhaustingly hot, 10000% humid day of annoyance and lots of groaning, as my parents, uncle and I hauled all my new college stuff up to my 3rd-floor dorm room (no elevator or AC). Despite the friendly faces passing out lemonade and free things, it was a super stressful experience and my family’s tempers flared, as the separation anxiety kicked in. We also lacked a decent fan, so there was an emergency trip to Target that my parents had to make with all the other freshman parents in town. Oops!

You know what brightens up a Monday morning? A perfect muffin. A couple weeks ago, I wanted to make savory muffins using at least one herb in our “garden” (two pots of herbs – a huge downsize from previous gardens of ours) and a cheese. I searched high and low on the internet and in my cookbooks for muffins using herbs and found surprisingly few options. It’s not that there weren’t recipes available, they just weren’t “the one.” Then I came across this gem – the words goat cheese and rosemary immediately jumped out at me and I was sold. I didn’t love the ingredient list, but figured I could work around some of the features to get the most flavor bang for my buck. Boy was I right. These muffins turned out stellar and made me wonder why there wasn’t more like them on the internet! These muffins tasted so amazing and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them because their golden-brown color just glowed (it doesn’t hurt either that the sun stays bright until almost 9 PM in Tacoma and we have a great window for food photos). There’s really not much else to say about these other than everyone should try them ASAP and savor their rich, cheesy goodness. I’ll let the pictures do the talking for this recipe…