Staycation Weekend – February 2014

Hello and Happy Tuesday! So because Kevin had to work last weekend we decided to celebrate Valentines Day and our six month anniversary a week later! Since we’re on a bit of a budget we decided to stay in the area instead of truly “going away” for the weekend. Originally I wanted to stay in a little boutique hotel in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, but then I found a special deal on a hotel in the Dulles area for – are you ready for this? — $56 per night. And this wasn’t just any hotel on sale – this was the hotel that Kevin and I usually stayed at on our layovers in DC when we were in between overseas for work – so it holds some sentimental value. For those who are interested, we stayed at the Hyatt Place Dulles-Herndon East. (For the record, there is also a Hyatt Place Dulles North and Dulles South, but no West. Interesting.) Anyway – this hotel is a complete gem for the price (Usually the cost is typically around $89 or $99 per night). Not only does it includes a hot breakfast, which is a huge bonus for me seeing how much I love food, but it also boasts 24 hour room service, a bar, an indoor pool – (huge in Virginia in February), and a fitness center. Not to mention each room has a separate sort of sitting area which includes a sofa bed, so it’s a total win. The hotel is about a 45 minute drive to downtown DC, so if you’re ever in the area and looking for a deal – I highly recommend it!

hyatt place dulles herndon east

We didn’t really have a plan for our weekend, so after some deliberation and online searching we ended up driving in to DC to check out Union Market DC. Union Market is an artisan market in Capitol City and has a bunch of adorable artisan stands. Parking in the area is free and we scored a spot right outside the building – woohoo! Once inside we did a lap to check out the shops and ended up at the Red Apron Butcher for lunch and beer.

red apron butcher union market dc_eatwriterunrepeat.com

It only just occurred to me that I didn’t take any pictures of the beer or the sandwiches we got, but suffice to say they were awesome. Some more pictures:

cordial fine wine and beers union market dc | eatwriterunrepeat.com

righteous cheese union market dc | eatwriterunrepeat.com

union market dc | eatwriterunrepeat.com

From Union Market we decided to check out Port City Brewery in Alexandria, VA. I’m not going to lie, from the outside it was a little underwhelming:

port city brewery virginia | eatwriterunrepeat.com

But once we got inside it was nice – it was sort of a mixed ambience between modern America and old style Bavaria…at least that’s what I felt anyway. It was pretty crowded when we arrived, so we decided not to take the actually brewery tour and opted instead just to drink. and because the bartender and my husband are both from the same area of California and both have family from the same area in Oklahoma (weird, right?) we scored free flights! Sweet! The flight was pretty spectacular – six different tastings for $9 — and they were all great beers. I’m not an IPA person, I’ve mentioned this before, but I was really impressed with their Monumental IPA, as well the American Pale Ale which I’m also not normally a fan of. Kevin and I decided that there wasn’t one beer we wouldn’t order if we saw it in a restaurant, and that’s saying something!

port city brew house flight | eatwriterunrepeat.com

Anyway – if you ever get a chance to get to Port City Brewery in Alexandria, you won’t regret it. At least, I think you won’t! 😉

port city brew house virginis 2 | eatwriterunrepeat.com

After the brewery we were hungry again, so we checked out restaurants in the area and ended up at Rocklands Barbecue and Grilling Company for some barbecue. It was awesome, and that’s all I have to say about that.

rocklands BBQ | eatwriterunrepeat.com

rocklands BBQ | eatwriterunrepeat.com

After the barbecue we pretty much called it a day.

We checked out of the hotel on Sunday morning and brunch with some friends from our Bible Study before returning home and preparing to head back to reality, but it was really nice to spend some time away from our house, but not really away from home. And the best part? The entire weekend cost us about $250! Not too bad for a mini-getaway weekend!

I’m already planning our next one.

Advertisements

Paleo Dark Chocolate Mousse Cups with a Honey Pecan Crust

Hmm. That’s a pretty lengthy title. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really figure out how to shorten it. I could have just left it at “Dark Chocolate Mousse Cups” but my favorite part about this decadent dessert is the pecan crust, so I couldn’t leave that out!

eatwriterunrepeat.com || paleo dark chocolate mousse cups 5

Yes, I know this looks like a Valentines Day dessert and theoretically should have been posted before today. But tomorrow is Husband’s and my six month anniversary (gasp!) and so this is sort of a two-for-one dessert. Plus, Kevin had to work on Valentines Day, so I made these while he was at work to surprise him when he got home, so the recipe wasn’t exactly ready for Valentine’s Day. Work with me, here.

eatwriterunrepeat.com || paleodark choolate mousse cups 3

So I have a confession to make. I’m not a huge sweets and dessert person. It’s true – I’d much rather dig into a plate of french fries or some cheese and crackers or some other salty snack than dive face first into a bowl of chocolate mousse. It doesn’t really help that I’ve recently figured out if I eat too much sugar too late at night (read: after 1900, which hardly qualifies as late for most people) I won’t sleep, so I’ve been avoiding sugar for the most part. But I am married to a man who could probably live off of steak and chocolate, so I decided I’d whip up a special something for him to celebrate our anniversary.

eatwriterunrepeat.com || paleo dark chocolate mousse cups 4

These babies are incredibly easy to make, which is a bonus in my house! The hardest part is waiting for the chocolate to firm up in the refrigerator, but it’s so worth the wait. You could easily make these without the honey and pecan crust at the bottom of the and just go with chocolate mousse, but I needed something to go with the chocolate, and what better than blended honey and pecans? Total win.

I used a mix of 86% intense dark chocolate and a little bit of semi-sweet baking chocolate to sweeten it up a bit. I prefer my chocolate darker and more intense, so feel free to use whatever percentage you’d like! You could probably experiment with flavors as well…and now that I’m thinking about it I bet using a spicy maya chuao chocolate bar for this would be insanely good. The sky’s the limit with this!

eatwriterunrepeat.com || paleo dark chocolate mousse cups 2

Paleo Dark Chocolate Mousse Cups with a Honey Pecan Crust

serves 8

active time: 10 minutes

inactive time: 2-3 hours

Crust Ingredients

2 cups pecans

4 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp honey

Mousse Ingredients

1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight (or coconut cream)

8 oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Instructions

Make the crust: Add the pecans to a blender and grind until coarsely chopped. Add cinnamon, coconut oil and honey and continue blending until crust forms a thick paste. Divide the crust evenly between eight serving cups and press down. Refrigerate while you make the mousse.

Make the mousse: In a small saucepan on low heat, combine the coconut milk and chocolate. Important note: your coconut milk must be solid in order for this to work. Refrigerating a can of full fat coconut milk overnight should solidify it but it doesn’t always work (I have no idea why), so if you’re worried, you can just use a can of coconut cream instead. Stir the coconut milk and chocolate mixture over low heat until a gorgeous dark chocolate sauce forms. Pour chocolate evenly between all eight cups and refrigerate for another 2-3 hours or until set. Garnish with unsweetened coconut flakes (or a strawberry, or a mint leaf, or any number of pretty garnishes) and dig in!

eatwriterunrepeat.com || paleo dark chocolate mousse cups

Happy Belated Valentines Day!

Happy Thanksgiving! (better late than never?)

Happy two days after Thanksgiving!

I am happy to report that our first Thanksgiving was a smashing success! I mentioned in my last post that Kevin and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year – our first major holiday as a married couple and in the new house. And it was my first time hosting a major holiday ever, so I was pretty happy with how everything turned out! We ended up having 12 people over – smashed in our dining room between three folding card tables and a mash-up of borrowed chairs. It was awesome.

thanksgiving 1 watching Dad butter up the turkey!

I was a little nervous about the amount of people so I didn’t turn down offers of help when I got them. My sister brought cranberry sauce, a pie, and some appetizers; my neighbors graciously brought green bean casserole and another pie; my parents brought bread, rolls and a third pie; my mother-in-law bought a ham and we took care of the rest – turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn.

As usual, Kevin and I read a bunch of turkey recipes and then just sort of did our own thing. I had found a recipe for a lemon-herb-butter roasted turkey which I was planning on trying until 10:45pm the night before Thanksgiving, when my darling husband decided he wanted to brine our turkey…never mind that we didn’t really have any supplies for brining; it ended up working out pretty well! Once the turkey was brined, we nixed the lemon, made an herbed butter compote to lather our turkey in, stuffed it with an apple, an onion, and some mixed fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, and thyme – yum!) and tossed it in the oven for a couple of hours.

thanksgiving 3

beautiful!

I was worried about oven space for the potatoes until I got the brilliant idea to make them in the crock pot. I thought why not, right? My crockpot applesauce turned out so well, I figured potatoes weren’t that much different. So I looked up a few recipes online and went with it. The verdict?

potatoes

Total win! The sweet potatoes were a huge hit – I simply diced a couple pounds of sweet potatoes and tossed them in the crock pot with a apple juice, cinnamon and nutmeg and let it cook for about 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally. Once the potatoes were soft I mashed them up and topped with pecan halves – delicious!

The mashed potatoes surprised me as well. I diced and added the potatoes to the pot with chicken broth and minced garlic, let them cook for 4-5 hours, and once they were soft enough to mash I mashed them and added some sour cream and grated parmesan. They were so easy, and because we set up our dinner buffet style, you can serve the potatoes right out of the crock pot! It definitely helped ease my stress on Thanksgiving day!

I should have taken more pictures but I was too busy enjoying the company of good friends and family; and of course we spent a lot of our time with Baby Bear – he loves his Aunts Jen and Britt and his Uncle Will! It made my heart so happy to see him with my family – it was the first time most of them had met but within minutes it was as if they’d known each other forever!

We talked my younger sister into spending the night, and because it is a tradition in my family to avoid the stores on Black Friday (I get claustrophobic in crowds), we decided instead to bake Christmas cookies!

thanksgiving 8

Similar to the cookies we made for fall with my sister and brother-in-law, these sugar cookies are a longstanding tradition in my family. And because it is now officially the Christmas season, what better way to celebrate than with Christmas music and sugar cookies?! (Don’t worry, we’re getting our tree and decorating later today!)

It was a blast showing Baby Bear how to make the cookies, although admittedly he got bored pretty quickly. Still, I think he had fun, and of course everybody likes to eat cookies!

thanksgiving 6

me and Aunt Britt-Britt!

thanksgiving 7

getting ready to decorate!

cookie lights!

cookie lights!

I’ve said it a few times already – but it’s amazing what that little boy does to my heart. Sharing some of my favorite holiday traditions with him makes me so happy, and seeing him and his daddy – my family – fills me with so much love that sometimes I think my heart is going to burst. I may sound mushy and schmultzy but it’s true. I had no idea what it felt like to be a mom…and it’s a crazy and incredible experience.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

And now, we’re off to get a tree! Hooray!