November 30, 2011

Delicious Breakfast!

When I was in Pennsylvania over the Thanksgiving holiday my 10 year old cousin taught me probably one of the best and most delicious ways to cook an egg.  I am not really an egg person, nor am I much of a breakfast person; I normally eat breakfast around 9 AM while sitting at my desk which doesn't leave much room for creativity.  But thanks to this recipe I am now able to have a hot and low calorie breakfast at my desk.

All it takes is 1 egg, 1 wedge of Laughing Cow cheese and (I prefer) an English Muffin.

Place the egg in a coffee mug and scramble it, then place the wedge of cheese in the coffee cup as well.  Wet a paper towel and place it over the cup.  Microwave for 1 minute.  While the egg is microwaving, toast the English Muffin.  

The result is a perfectly cooked egg with cheese melted through and placed on a yummy English Muffin.  

November 29, 2011

Reorganizing the Stockpile!

Last week I found a six tiered shelf in the 'trash room' of my apartment building that (I assume) was meant to be thrown away, however it is a perfectly good shelf and something that I realized would be great for organizing my couponing stockpile!  So I took everything out of the linen closest (where my stockpile had previously been stored) and placed the new(ish) shelf in the walk-in closet of my bedroom.  I separated the items into 'edible' and 'non-edible' and this is the result - now I have even more room for free/couponed items!  Yay!

One of my friends told me that my stockpile looks like a bomb shelter - but in my defense, this is definitely a bomb shelter you would want to be in if something were to happen!

A Week of Giving Thanks

It has been a while since I last posted but the past week was quite busy!  Last week started out quite normal but then Monday afternoon I was tasked with shopping for, organizing and cooking 'Thanksgiving dinner' for about 65 people (to include the YouthBuild programs from Schenectady and Troy as well as their staff members and volunteers) to take place Wednesday afternoon.  
For the dinner I made a super easy and very delicious corn casserole!

2 eggs
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 box of jiffy yellow corn muffin mix
8 oz of sour cream
1 can of corn 
1 can of creamed corn

Mix together, pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until golden brown and baked all the way through.

So how do you feed 65 people you may ask?  Well thanks to my amazing couponing skills and turkeys and dishes that were brought by my fellow staff members we were able to have Thanksgiving for only $84 with lots of leftovers, which were donated to the students and the YWCA of Schenectady.

My good friend Elise, who also used to work for the YouthBuild program offered to come help me cook and it made everything run much more smoothly.  We cooked for a pretty long time but the end result was amazing; we had so much good food, nearly each of the students were able to take home a pie and various leftovers for their Thanksgiving dinner the next day and everyone had the opportunity to reflect on the year and give thanks for the programs at NPCS.

After the meal I was way to tired to drive to Pennsylvania that night so I decided to come home and head out the next morning.  I got up around 5 AM and started the trip to Pennsylvania to meet my family for Thanksgiving; the trip felt unusually long but I arrived around mid-morning.  Waiting for me when I got to my uncle's house was an entire cooler of homemade beer - so excited!

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious and after too much food, beer and an early morning drive I passed out on the futon.  Oddly enough I was knocked out enough to allow my uncle and mother to place newspapers and liquor bottles around me and take pictures.

But at the end of the day we were left with a very pretty sunset!

November 19, 2011


This is what happens when you officially over do it.  
Thank god for frozen California Blend veggies!

November 18, 2011

We're Building A House!

Wednesday Northeast Parent & Child Society (i.e. where I worked) kicked off a major project that will involve transforming a severely run down house in the Hamilton Hill area of Schenectady into a livable home for a low income family.  The project will be completed by students in NPCS's YouthBuild and Energy Corps programs under the guides of trained construction workers and staff.  While earning their GEDs and various other certifications the students learn construction skills and will gain hands on experience by working on rebuilding this house.  The project is being sponsored by Saint-Gobain which is the largest distributor of construction materials worldwide.   

House that will be reconstructed.
NPCS threw a pretty big ground breaking ceremony and a bunch of dignitaries were in attendance - the mayor, city counsel, representatives from YouthBuild USA and Saint-Gobain International and nearly all the VPs/Directors/CEOs of NPCS.

The 'big check' and floor plans.
Some of the students spoke.
And so did the (interim) mayor.
Then two students broke down the door with the 'golden' sledge hammer.
Taking a look inside.
And me with one of my students - Emmanuel

November 13, 2011

Tis' the Season for Donations!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been working on putting together a bag of donations for the  Thanksgiving food drive run by 'Concern for the Hungry' in Schenectady, NY.  There is SO much need and so much poverty in Schenectady, especially in the Hamilton Hill/Vale areas that I figured any little bit would help.  So for about the past two months I have been clipping coupons for 'Thanksgiving' items and have been picking up items here and there.  Tomorrow I'll head over the the elementary school where the donations are being stored and drop them off.  I was hoping to volunteer to pack and distribute the items but oddly enough the organization is no longer accepting volunteers (which I guess is a good thing).  

The donation list included ... 
5 boxes of stuffing mix
24 jars of baby food
8 cans of soup
2 cans of 'cooking' soup
8 cans of green beans
6 cans of corn
2 cans of peas
50 tea bags

November 12, 2011

A Saturday of Cooking

I decided last week that I needed to make a couple of meals this weekend that I would be able to freeze so that during the week I would be able to have a nice cooked meal.  I have been super busy during the weeks recently with class, workouts and work and lately I have noticed that I either have no time or no motivation to cook.  

Today's menu was ... 
Chicken Noodle Soup
Two Veggie Lasagnas
Two Bean Zucchini Chili
Vegetarian Calzone

First the chicken noodle soup!  I placed a whole chicken in the crock pot and covered it with onions, carrots, celery and a bunch of spices.

 I covered it with water and turned the Crock Pot on 'Low' and let it cook over night.  In the morning I strained the chicken and the broth - being sure to drain the broth into a big pot.  Then I placed the chicken in the fridge to cool for a while.

Since the broth from the crock pot may not be enough, I supplement with some Swanson Chicken Broth.  I also chopped up a couple of carrots, celery and an onion to cook with the broth.  Once that is complete I picked the chicken and placed the pieces in the broth to cook.
While the broth and carrots/celery/onion/chicken is simmering I cook the noodles separately.  (I learned after the first time making chicken noodle soup that if you cook the noodles in the broth it basically becomes a chicken noodle casserole.)  After everything is cooked I divided up the broth into containers and let it cool.  Once cooled I add the noodles!

The next thing I made was a very large calzone, which I cut in half and froze separately to make two meals.  I love having calzones on Friday after a long week and they are super easy to make and then reheat.  The dough I used is a whole wheat dough from Trader Joe's.  I filled the calzone with ricotta cheese, mozzarella and some broccoli - yum!

Next up was two vegetable lasagnas - they are so delicious and feed me for nearly a week.  I normally make two 8 x 8 pans of lasagna at a time and freeze them and then pull them out whenever I need.  I previously posted about making veggie lasagna here but this time it was even easier because I used some peppers from the farmer's market that I had frozen from the summer.

The last thing I made is a new recipe and one that I found in a magazine on my way down to Virginia last week - Two Bean Zucchini Chili!  I chopped up an onion, two peppers (one green and one red), two zucchini and sauteed everything in some margarine.
Once everything is cooked down I added a can of petite diced tomatoes and about half a can of tomato sauce, as well as two cans of beans and added chili powder and some crushed red pepper; I covered the pot and let the chili simmer for about an hour.

Once it was finished I divided the chili into containers and it was ready to freeze and looked delicious!

So after about three straight hours of cooking, this was the result!

I placed almost everything in the freezer, which is now incredibly full and I am set for quite some time with meals!

Happy Saturday!!

November 11, 2011

My New Addiction!

Hot yoga!  I am addicted!  I have decided that it is pretty much the greatest thing ever!  
There were a couple of reasons why I decided to begin hot yoga - I have been running and spinning a lot lately but I noticed that my flexibility was suffering.  I am not an inherently flexible person and even though I know I should, I do not normally stretch after running.  Second, after about five years of power lifting and a decade of throwing my back has become completely averse to weight lifting; every time I walk by the weights at the gym my back tenses up.  So I figured I needed to find a way to 'weight lift' without actually lifting and yoga seemed like the perfect solution!  And lastly, my workouts seemed to be in a rut and I wanted something different.  Hot yoga has been great and it really fits into my schedule; normally I run or spin in the morning, work all day and then either attend class (grad school) or hot yoga at night.  The place I go to also offers a ton of weekend classes!

The place I go is about 5-8 minutes from my house and is called the The Hot Yoga Spot.  There are a few yoga studios in Albany but this one is the closest to where I live and also offers the best deals.  Because I am a student classes are only $10 a session, instead of the regular $15 and I normally buy 10 classes at a time for the discounted rate of $85.  Everything is done online which makes it super easy to sign up.  Some have said that it is still pretty expensive and it is, but I figure that because I eat out and go out so much less than I use to, all the money that I use to "waste" can be put toward something fun and productive! 

Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany!
 The hot yoga classes are low impact but SO intense.  By the end of the class my yoga mat is basically the equivalent of a soaked bath mat!  (I am doing my research and looking into buying a yoga towel, which is supposed to be more absorbant and stay put better than the regular beach towel I have been using.)  I usually go to the beginner class (because it is at a convenient time) but I have also gone to a couple 'advanced' classes (normally on Friday or Saturday so I can sleep in the next day) - the advanced classes are definitely tough but I am getting better and better each time.  And dude to the heat (90 - 100 degrees every session) I feel like I am getting an even better workout and sweating out every stress and toxin in my body!

Doesn't it look hot?!
Hot yoga has definitely become my new addiction and I would recommend it to anyone!

November 9, 2011

Shout-Out to 8th Grade Science!

All those science fair projects have definitely paid off ... because I can create a damn good display booth!

Today I attended the New York State AmeriCorps Kick-Off with some of my Northeast Energy Corps students.  All programs that attended were required to have a booth at the display fair - and I will say that there was definitely some 'booth envy'.

November 8, 2011

Tuesday Beer Night

Its been that type of day ...

My new favorite beer brought back from Virginia!
Legend's Brewing Company - Brown Ale - RIchmond, Virginia

Four Days in Virginia

This past Thursday to Sunday I went to Williamsburg, Virginia for a wedding!  It was great to be back in Virginia, visit my alma mater and spend time with my best friend!  The trip began at 6 AM on Thursday when I arrived at the train station; my train left at 6:30 AM and we traveled to NYC.  After an hour 'lay over' at Penn Station (I am not a fan of Penn Station) I hoped a train for the 9+ hour trip to Williamsburg!

WiFi on the train!  Heck yes!  Made the trip SO much better!
Franklin Field at UPenn (where Penn Relays are held) - oh the memories!
Awesome recipe I found on the train that I plan on making this weekend!
(Somewhat) creepy train pic!
After I arrived in Williamsburg (about an hour late I may add) Dana and I immediately went to Buffalo Wild Wings, sort of a tradition of ours.  After that it was Cold Stone, Trader Joe's and then back to her apartment to relax and catch up.

Friday we decided that it was outlet time!  There I found the best invention for a 'non-native' New Yorker...

This amazing invention would be an ice scrapper placed inside a fuzzy 'Columbia' mitt!  So you hold onto the ice scraper inside the glove so your hand remains warm as your scrap.  Ingenious!  Dana laughed at me because I have never seen one of these before and even she has one - although she hardly ever uses it.

Saturday morning before the wedding I went running around Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary's campus and it made me realize how much I miss the area!

Campus ...

Looking toward the Sunken Gardens.

The Wren Building
The wedding ...

Inside the Wren Chapel
Wren Chapel

Wedding program.

The happy couple!
The Reception ... 

Cute table card.

Table setting.

Dinner ... so delicious!

Wedding cake ... equally delicious!

And after the wedding and reception ...

My feet hurt!!

After the wedding and a pretty substantial nap, Dana and I decided to go out and watch the LSU/Alabama game at one of Williamsburg's three bars (delis)!

Dana in her 'ho' outfit!

My new favorite beer!  Legend Brown Ale brewed in Richmond, VA!

The long weekend was great despite two 12+ hour train rides!  It was great to see Dana and the wedding was a lot of fun.  Now it's back to the grind!