30 November 2011

Vegetarian Fajitas

Last night I woke up around 3am and couldn't get back to sleep. My mind started reeling and settled on the one thing I hate to think about- all the idiot things I've ever said. I don't know if everybody does this, or it's just a gauge of my insecurity at times, but every now and again I get distracted by my past. I go through all the moments I said things I wish I could take back, or all the things I spoke in ignorance or times I made a complete fool of myself.

Honestly, who cares about that stupid joke I made 5 years ago. I'm absolutely sure I'm the only one still dwelling on it! Ah, but my condition can't be helped. And to make matters worse I start to fear that certain things I say with confidence now, may be haunting me in my bed in another 10 years. That's a scary thought friends.

Thankfully, if there's anything I'm sure I won't regret sharing, it's this recipe. I feel quite confident of it and I know you will be too when you give it a try.

One of my favorite things as a carnivore was fajitas. The sound of a sizzling skillet headed my way gave me goosebumps! Here I've adapted the recipe to suit me as a vegetarian, and I think I may love them even more. Mostly because I don't come away feeling stuffed, but satisfied instead! I'm happiest to say, it's a Hannah original!

Vegetarian Fajitas
serves 6

1 tbsp oil
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 large red onion cut into wedges
2 green bell peppers cut into strips
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
1 yellow (or orange) bell pepper cut into strips
1 carton of mushrooms (sliced)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 of a vegetable bouillon cube
3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 cab black beans, rinsed and drained
6 whole wheat tortillas (medium size)

For topping: green onions, cheddar cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, etc!

1. Heat skillet over med-high heat. Add garlic and red onions, stir for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the peppers, mushrooms, spices, bouillon, and water.  Let simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes (until almost cooked through).

3. Add cornstarch and stir until a thin sauce is created. Once things are cooked through, drain the black beans and throw them in the pan to heat through.

4. While fajitas are cooking, place a grease shield over top of it and place tortillas on top. This is my go-to method for steaming my tortillas so they are nice and flexible for rolling up my burrito!

5. Fill the shell with fajita stir-fry, and any toppings you like!

6. Sit back and enjoy a healthy, satisfying, south-of-the-border meal...


Do you ever dwell on the things you regret?

29 November 2011

Totally Awesome Tunes Tuesday: Road Trip Music

It's time for another Totally Awesome Tunes Tuesday! Last week I asked you to send me your favorite songs to drive to and I have to say that you all have such excellent taste! Love the oldies here. I tend to go back for good road trip music too, as you'll see...Check out the road trip song picks from this week:

From Meghan at Wishful Thinking:

Click to hear: My Favorite Game by The Cardigans

From Christina at The Olive Tree:

Click to hear: Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson

Click to hear: I Want You Back by Jackson 5

 From Emmet Katherine at Hippie Lace:

Click to hear: Any tunes by Joel Plaskett

From Hannah at Culture Connoisseur:

Click to hear: Impossible Germany by Wilco

Click to hear: Killer Queen by Queen

Click to hear: The Long Black Veil by Johnny Cash

Next week's topic is Christmas themed! I want your all-time favorite Christmas tunes, even the silly ones that people might point and laugh at you for. 

Email the link to the  YouTube song to me at culture_connoisseur(at)yahoo.com

28 November 2011

Weekend Update| November 28, 2011

The old red barn.

How can 4.5 days off fly by like a normal weekend? Life's not fair. We had such a great time in Pennsylvania. We went up to go visit my grandparents on my dad's side and for the first time I got to bring John along. It was the first time he really got to meet any of my family on that side and I had a great time showing him around the place!

My family lives in a small town in Pennsylvania (population 441). They own a large plot of land where they farm Christmas trees, and they have been there so long (generations!) that the road they live on is named after my grandmother's maiden name

I have much more to tell you about my family's farm and a few stories from our family line, but today all we need to worry about is food! What a delicious meal. As you can see, our table was full to the brim! We had all kinds of goodies and it is literally all I ate while I was up there. For two days I ate nothing but Thanksgiving leftovers. I was fat and I was happy. :)


I guess one of the more unusual dishes is pictured here. I don't know how many of you have noodles on your table at Thanksgiving, but we do! They buy some kind of homemade noodles there local and when they cook up they are so soft and doughy. They've been serving it on Turkey day as long as I can remember and it's one of those special things I look forward to.

The food wasn't the highlight of my trip though, the people were! I hadn't seen that side of my family in about 10 years! It was so awesome to hang out with my Aunt Dawn and her husband Jim (who I met for the first time!) and with my two cousins, Chris and Brandon. The last time we spent time together I was 15, and we were all just kids. It's so different (and awesome) to spend time as adults, and really talk. I wish I had a few more days to soak it all in....

My Aunt Dawn and I.

I can't wait for our next trip up there. Not only was Thanksgiving a memorable experience, but taking John around the farm and telling stories of my family and our past was more than I could ever ask for. Like I said, I'll be sharing some of that with you this week, as soon as I pretty up those pictures!

Here's a teaser photo- me and one of the Christmas trees on the farm. Yup, I'm a tree-hugger alright!

Question of the Day:
So, what was the best part of YOUR thanksgiving?

Don't forget! If you haven't emailed me your favorite road trip tunes do so now! Totally Awesome Tunes Tuesday is coming tomorrow. :) Email me at culture_connoisseur@yahoo.com!

24 November 2011

Thanksgiving- A Reflection

                                                                       Source: designbykelli.com via Kelli on Pinterest

Good morning and happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you are all huddled up around a table with family this beautiful day and will have many beautiful memories to share come Monday.

We arrived here safely in Pennsylvania and are freezing are buns off! I don't know how you northerners live in these temperatures half of the year! You have got thick blood! We enjoyed breakfast around the table trading stories and John and I just went on a golf cart drive around the Christmas tree farm. I can't wait to share pictures with you all.

These days our culture tends to focus more on the turkey and stuffing and less on the actual meaning of the holiday. So I'm drawn here today to share how thankful I am for the life I've been given, the family I was born to, and for each and every one of you that enrich my life in such a real way. I know that we're only "friends," but I feel like I have gotten to know so many of you and I'm thankful for all of your thoughts and points of view, your input, and your encouragement through this last year. It's the community here that keeps me coming back each day and I'm so thankful for the day I first hit "post" and started on a wonderful journey with all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I wish all the best to you and yours.



23 November 2011

10 Ways to Keep the Peace This Thanksgiving

                                                                        Source: treasurefield.tumblr.com via Beth on Pinterest

Here we are. On the eve of one of our favorite days of the year. A day full of travel from far and wide, delicious foods tempting our gluttony, and the inevitable volcano that erupts when locked in tight quarters with people you're supposed to love. And you do love them, you just can't live with them, right?

Well, you're in luck today! Because I'm here to share my 10 Ways to Keep the Peace. I hope they bring a smile to your face...and maybe even help you get through the holidays a bit smoother...

Tip #1- Embrace the art of avoidance. Sure, a trained professional would tell you that the quickest way to healing is to "get it all out in the open." These people clearly have not met your family...

Tip #2- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT discuss politics unless you are sure everyone sides with you.

Tip #3-  Keep some candy in your pockets. When those brats you call nephews start to terrorize you in your Lazy Boy candy will be the cure.

Tip#4-  Pass out little bites of turkey every hour or so. The triptopan will act as a sedative. A sedate family is a happy family.

Tip #5- Keep some jokes up your sleeve. When someone at the table lets loose a Freudian slip and the table has gone silent a quick joke will bring everyone back to speed (and effectively activate tip #1).

                                                                                            Source: ks-waiting.blogspot.com via Beth on Pinterest

Tip #6- Keep an open mind. So your brother brought the flavor of the week home to bum some turkey from your table? Instead of giving him a piece of your mind, take some time and get to know her.

Tip #7- Reminisce. When things get awkward, harkening back to the old days will bring everyone back to what matters and remind them that under it all, you're still family.

Tip #8- Alcohol.

Tip #9- Games. You can't get angry when you're having fun.

Tip #10-  In all seriousness...cherish the time you have. You never know if someone could be missing from the table next year. Your time together is valuable. So soak it all up and enjoy the good times and the crazy ones!

Question of the Day:
How do you handle the stress the holidays inevitably bring?

22 November 2011

My Top Picks for Thanksgiving Recipes

Good morning blog friends! The countdown is on and we've got two days till Thanksgiving! I'm sure many of you are finalizing your meal plans and cleaning your house in anticipation of your guests arrival. Or, if you are like me, you're packing up your bags in anticipation of cooler climates and a family get-together. Either way, I wanted to share some of my top picks for recipes this Thanksgiving. Not only are these recipes healthy, but they offer a little "BAM!" to mix up a traditional table. Check it out!


Warm Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal: Click here for recipe.

Oven Baked Blueberry Pancake: Click here for recipe.
                                                                                     Source: chocolateandcarrots.com via Hannah on Pinterest

Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins: Click here for recipe
                                                                               Source: bittersweetblog.wordpress.com via Hannah on Pinterest


Grilled Vegetable and Bean Salad: Click here for recipe.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad: Click here for recipe.
                                                                                Source: prouditaliancook.blogspot.com via Hannah on Pinterest

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup: Click here for recipe.
                                                                                 Source: simplyrecipes.com via Hannah on Pinterest

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup: Click here for recipe.

Main Dishes/Veggie Sides:

Vegetable Casserole: Click here for recipe.

Farro, Caramelized Onion, and Wild Mushroom Stuffing: Click here for recipe.

Zucchini Boats with Tomatoes and Basil: Click here for recipe.
                                                                             Source: prouditaliancook.blogspot.com via Hannah on Pinterest

Sauteed Bok Choy: Click here for recipe.


Vegan Garlic Rosemary and Chili Cornbread: Click here for recipe.
                                                                                  Source: healthyblenderrecipes.com via Hannah on Pinterest

Artichoke, Roasted Bell Pepper, and Feta Biscuits: Click here for recipe.
                                                                            Source: twopeasandtheirpod.com via Hannah on Pinterest

No Knead Bread: Click here for recipe.


Crustless Cranberry Pie: Click here for recipe.

Pumpkin Pie Brownie Cupcakes: Click here for recipe.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies: Click here for recipes.

Question of the Day:
If you're cooking for Thanksgiving, what is on your meal plan?

21 November 2011

My First Thanksgiving

Well, this is my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. It isn't, however, my first vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, as the family I am going to visit in Pennsylvania has absolutely no idea I'm a vegetarian...

I'm banking on the fact that a Thanksgiving table is usually plump with variety, leaving plenty of goodies for yours truly to eat. But when you think about it, the following items also could contain meat- gravy, stuffing, casseroles, green beans, etc. So it's also likely that I could have a plate full of cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and bread. Not exactly balanced, but you won't find me crying in my cranberries. I'm really just happy to be with family. And there's always opportunity for the glory of a veggie filled table next year.

                                                                                          Source: google.co.za via Andie on Pinterest

The real question is whether or not to let them into my secret. The men in my family are big time hunters, canning up venison and freezing freshly slaughtered birds all year. Something tells me if I "come out" I may not hear the end of it and may end up in a can myself. If I had to guess, the pin above would really sum up their feelings.  ;-)

Coming up this week:
Tuesday: My Top Picks for Thanksgiving Recipes!
Wednesday: 10 Ways to Keep the Peace This Thanksgiving
Thursday: Thanksgiving- A Reflection
Friday: Too. Much. Pie.

18 November 2011

The Wild Wild (Mid)West

Chelsea and Justin's home- a beautiful old home built in 1908 that they've renovated.

Ok, ok. Maybe that title is a bit of an exaggeration. There's nothing too wild about the parts I saw (unless you count the wild animals on display at the Livestock show in Louisville...) This past weekend was my first visit to the midwest, and I guess you could say it was everything I expected it to be, and that's a really awesome thing.

We went to Scottsburg, Indiana to visit my sister-in-law Chelsea, her husband Justin and their little boy Zeb. I had heard many things about this little town- with a population of around 6,000 people and no major shopping centers I thought that I was in for quite an experience.

Coffee shop where we went to breakfast.

And an experience is exactly what I had. I experienced really sweet people who lived in a pretty close-knit community. I experienced a delicious breakfast in a quaint little cafe. I experienced long walks in the cool breeze with family, leaves crackling underneath my shoes and story after story about how "this little building used to be the schoolhouse" or "that old shop used to be the hospital." This town had a history! And though the store's wares may have changed, little else did.

And that's so charming.

Downtown Scottsburg

This was the kind of town where I could really let my mind run wild. Being so small and close I imagined it was a perfect backdrop for a story like Footloose or Dirty Dancing. Where everyone knew everyone else's business, and were forced to live according to senseless laws.

I imagined all types of scandals while I was there, because it seemed like a town where something small could easily become the talk of the town. And I'm sure that decades ago (and maybe even now) that was the case. Oh to be a fly on the wall of the local church halls and burger joints back then...

Downtown Scottsburg. Looks so different than Florida!

We spent the morning walking around downtown Scottsburg and came back to the house to pack up and head to Louisville, Kentucky for the day. I was so exited! Wow, imagine- me exploring the home of the Kentucky derby and fatty fried chicken!

We drove over to the Ohio river and walked along there for a bit before stopping to play at a playground with little Zebbers. It was a cold morning, especially on the water, but that didn't stop us from having a blast running around the grounds working up a sweat like little kids. :) Here's some pictures from the walk:

Downtown Louisville (I was told it is pronounced...Looavull)

I can't believe I used to fit in this size slide...

For lunch we headed over to the Old Spaghetti Factory. Apparently this restaurant is all over the country, but I've never been to one as they have neglected the far southeast. Have you ever been? The inside of this place was so much fun to gawk at! All the deep rich colors I love and funky mis-matched tables and lamps. The food was also great, and for the price I'm ready to go back for more. It was the perfect end to our little tour of Louisville.

Sunday we had the opportunity to meet with Chelsea and Justin's house church. They are one of our biggest financial supporters in our work with Pioneers and it was so fun to finally meet the people behind the monthly check. They are so sweet and earnest and sure do know how to put together a Sunday meal!

I had a blast hanging out with family last weekend and can't wait to do it again! Next time plus one, as Chelsea is about to give birth to a beautiful little girl in the new year!

John and I are beyond blessed to have such a wonderful family that lives in such a neat part of the U.S. I can't wait to go back!

Question of the Day: 
What's your favorite place in the midwest? 
Are you a big city person or small town rural?

17 November 2011

A Crafty Christmas

So, you know I promised Indiana pictures this week, right? And I'm sure you have figured out that I've been procrastinating the post this whole week, too. It's another one of those days. Last night, I really did have big plans to finally finish editing and uploading my pictures. But then we started watching a Modern Family episode and that turned into an Office episode followed by laughing over clips of An Idiot Abroad and finishing up with our favorite show- Cheers!

Instead, I wanted to share some interesting craft projects I've found while knocking around on Pinterest. These crafts are perfect for the holidays, and I have plans to bring a few into fruition.

                                                                   Source: thepartystudio.wordpress.com via Hannah on Pinterest

I love these for Christmas goodie bags. Just swap out the tag with a "Merry Christmas!" and you've got yourself a sweet little gift!

                                                              Source: tinyapartmentcrafts.blogspot.com via Hannah on Pinterest

The awesomeness of this ornament really needs no explanation. I've watched all the movies, and am now on book three of the Harry Potter series and I'm thinking of making this ornament as a gift to myself this year. (And maybe a few others for the serious fans I know...)

                                                                        Source: goodhousekeeping.com via Hannah on Pinterest

Here's another sweet ornament idea! I think you could have a lot of fun with this. You can stick with the traditional fabrics, find a pretty sheer golden toole, or even find some funky Dr. Seuss style fabric to bring a little How the Grinch Stole Christmas into your Christmas tree.

                                                                   Source: deliacreates.blogspot.com via Hannah on Pinterest

Here's another great gift idea for people on a budget (like me). It's perfect for that special someone who values going green and who loves shopping for their fruits and veggies! Aren't these fun? I would feel so cool checking out with these bad boys.

                                                              Source: junkgardengirl.blogspot.com via Hannah on Pinterest

Lastly, but certainly not leastly, here's a great idea for a DIY garland. Maybe you're a SERIOUS crafter and, unlike me, you already have miles and miles of mis-matched ribbon laying around. Here's a great way to put it to use and bring some holiday cheer into your home. This is on my to-do list as it's easier to store than fake greenery type garland and is probably a bit cheaper too!

Question of the Day:
When it comes to Christmas presents, do you buy your gifts or make them yourself?