Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Learning to Cook: Pesto Pizza

Part of this learning-to-be-an-adult process is the fact that I now have to fend for myself in the kitchen.  Thankfully Real HouseMom is a whiz in the kitchen, so I've helped her here and there and picked up some of her tricks.

But not enough that I actually know how to cook.

Because I don't.

I mean, I'm great at boiling pasta, mashing potatoes and scrambling eggs (and I make awesome sauteed vegetables, if I do say so myself), but beyond that I'm clueless.

Thanks to my addiction obsession with Pinterest, my Food board is chock-full of meal ideas that I want to try.  I asked for (and received) a Crock-Pot for Christmas, so there are a ton of slow-cooker recipes that sound delightful.  I've repinned meals that are low-fat, meat-free, extra-cheesy, five-minute and every other category you can think of.

My theory is: the more ideas I have of yummy meals, the more likely I am to actually teach myself to cook......and not just order from Grub-Hub or fix myself a PB sandwich.

ANYWAY, I digress (as always).  So.....

Drumroll please.....

Here is the first meal I made for myself in my new big girl apartment (courtesy of that $130 trip to the Jewel).

I was too excited to take "during" photos, but I'm proud of the "after"!  Plus it's too easy to need photos =)

TA-DA!!!  It's a pesto pizza!

And seriously, it was delish!

Here's the recipe that I loosely followed: Budget Bytes' Pesto Focaccia Pizza

By loosely, I mean that I just bought a whole-wheat pizza crust.  I'm learning to cook.... teaching myself to make pizza dough/focaccia bread is way too much at this stage.  It was fun and super easy-- just a pre-made pizza crust, jar of pesto, bag of shredded Mozz and some roma tomatoes.  Even I couldn't screw it up!  I just followed the cooking instructions on the label of the pizza crust and it turned out great =)

If you have any recipe recommendations or first-time cooking tales, I'd love to hear them!

Have a great Thursday =)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Fresh Start!

I realize it's been a long time (about two months!) since I last posted.  That's because shortly after we were in Columbus, GA, our team manager Emm got herself a job in Oklahoma City (where her brand new boyfriend lives) and put in her two weeks' notice.  The Office then promoted me to team manager and sent a member of another team--that had just closed out--to fill in for her.  Thankfully Cee and I got along great!  The last month of tour flew by, including Thanksgiving in Little Rock, a couple NHL games in Raleigh and a visit from Boyfie while in Columbus, OH.  Friday, Dec. 16 was the last day of our contract, and I finally got to go home and see my family.

Now, I had already signed a lease for an apartment (well, it's the second floor of a city house) in the Wrigleyville area of Chicago.  And I decided Boyfie and I were going to spend New Year's Eve in the city so I informed my family that I was moving out between Christmas and New Year's.  So on Thursday, Dec. 29, a whole army my family & "friends" helped move me out of my parents' house in Naperville and into my new apartment in Chicago.  Real HouseMom's best friend's hubby has a sweet Ford pickup truck, so he and Soccer Dad loaded my new box spring, mattress, dresser, and whatever other big stuff we were moving and headed to the apartment.  Real HouseMom and Brosef stocked the Toyota Highlander with a bunch more of my stuff (bins, boxes, etc.), while Boyfie and I filled my Mazda Tribute (her name is Charlie) with all my hanging clothes and a couple other last-minute things.

That's our house!  We live on the 2nd floor, with the "balcony" we could use if we had a death wish.

Thanks to switching rooms in the sorority house every semester of college, I've become a master at moving stuff and getting it set up and put away asap.  Tip: the easiest way to move clothes is the way you want them!  All the stuff you'll have folded up in your dresser can be "packed" in the drawers for transport, and everything you'll have hanging in the closet can just be left on the hanger and carried like that.

So I was all moved in and settled in time for New Year's Eve at Mystic Celt in Chicago!

Boyfie and me -- first picture of 2012!

Yesterday Boyfie left-- after a wonderful six-day visit!-- and went back to Indiana... and my bff {future} Mrs. K came to visit with her almost-16-month-old daughter CJ.  We went to lunch, played on my bed, chased CJ back and forth across my apartment (she just learned to walk) and looked out the window at dogs that passed and left-up Christmas lights.  Love that little munchkin, she and her brother GG refer to me as Aunt Jul =)

Soooo today was my first really independent day since I moved in almost a week ago.  The charming sounds of the garbage trucks in the alley outside my back-of-apartment bedroom window woke me up at 7:33am but I didn't mind being up.  Eventually I got out of bed and, acting all domestic-y, decided to make some tea.  I don't know why, and I hope I'm not alone with this problem, but for whatever reason I always forget that I have a tea bag steeping.  Half an hour later I had tepid, horribly strong tea that even a packet of Sweet-n-Low couldn't salvage.  Down the drain it went.

Undeterred, I was determined to have a productive, grown-up day.  I wrote a check for my rent, which I dropped off at my landlady's house about 5 doors down, and even changed my mailing address through the US Postal Service and the three magazines I subscribe to.  So far, so good.

Then came my grocery shopping trip.  Thankfully there's a Jewel-Osco a couple blocks down Addison, since I don't have my car downtown.  Since I always just impulse-buy whatever sounds good and then end up with the most random pantry ever, I thought it would be wise and mature to plan out my meals ahead of time, then just buy the ingredients I need.

I'm so glad I did that.  The combination of higher prices (and higher taxes) in the city plus the fact that I had absolutely NO food in the house-- including staples like milk, peanut butter, cereal, etc-- meant that this will be the most expensive grocery shopping trip I'll ever make (until I'm a mom trying to feed a horde family).  The total?  Almost $130, and that's after my $15 preferred card savings.

My receipt from the Jewel.... Yikes!!

Anyway, today is Real HouseMom's birthday, so I'm about to take the L to Union Station to catch a train back to Naperville for dinner with the fam.

Have a great Hump Day =)