Sweetsonian

Sun-Dried tomato and Jalapeño cheddar biscuits

1

3.06.14 by sarah

sun-dried tomato jalapeno biscuits

Tuesday night, I found myself in a much-needed yoga class.

The past couple of weeks have been unconditionally brutal. You know those days where you literally have every single minute planned? Yeah. Try that for ten days straight. It makes my bones ache. And it takes me at least a few days to get back to normal, because stress is just something that I can’t handle these days. I was covering ARPA-E as a photographer (hellooooo, government nerd fest), gave a presentation to a design group in DC with some coworkers about why Energy.gov is awesome, and even ventured out to Vienna, Virginia, to see a friend of a friend of a friend perform, who happens to be an amazing singer/songwriter.

In high school and college, I thrived on stress. I needed to overload myself in order to get things done. I also used to drink so many vodka-red-bulls that I probably should have had a heart attack by junior year. But now, just the thought of having plans every night of the week makes me cringe. Even this last weekend — I could say it was relaxing, because I spent most of it snuggled up in bed or petting puppies tied up outside of Chipotle, but it was a weekend that had every living moment planned. There was no sudoku in bed, or impromptu Netflix wormholes, or hours with a book on the Java House patio. Lots of fun, but it still felt busy.

So finally, after what seemed like 4247895 days of straight-up booked calendar entries, I made it to the gym. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to schedule yoga. I savor my workouts as something I opt to do in the time that I have for myself — and no one else. So finally, this week, I refused to pencil anything in. I went to yoga — a time slot and an instructor I had never been to before.

I set up my mat, and relaxed for a few minutes. And… ten minutes into the class, the teacher was still missing.

I’m sure the other 20 people in the class had varying levels of stress from their days and the week before, so when our gym manager came down to apologize, it was clear that the instructor wasn’t coming. But the most amazing thing happened — a woman sitting in the front row promised that she was a certified yoga instructor, and volunteered to teach the class.

Naturally, a room full of yogis is probably the most laid-back group of people ever, so almost everyone exclaimed something to the effect of “that would be AMAZING,” and that was that. And she led a class that I’m sure everyone enjoyed, and she started the class by asking us to practice forgiveness, because she hadn’t instructed yoga in over a year and a half.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how amazing that experience was — the personalities, and the yoga itself. Anyway, please forgive me for the radio silence. It’s been a long few weeks. Treat yourself with some easy biscuits (side note, these would be GREAT on a breakfast sandwich).

sun-dried tomato jalapeno biscuits

sun-dried tomato jalapeno biscuits

Sun-dried Tomato & Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 fresh jalapeños
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  2. First, remove and discard the seeds from your jalapeños. Dice them finely, into about eighth-inch pieces. Combine them with the diced sun-dried tomatoes, and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the Bisquick, milk, and cheese — mix with the dough hook until everything is fully incorporated. Then, add in the jalapeños and tomatoes. When mixed, remove the dough from your mixer, and using your hands, form into a large, flat mound about an inch to an inch-and-a-half thick. Cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter or some sort of jar — I used a 3-inch biscuit cutter.
  4. Then, melt your butter in the microwave, and stir in the garlic powder. Use a pastry brush or a spoon to dress the biscuits with a generous layer of butter.
  5. Bake for about 13 minutes, until the biscuits are a light golden brown.Makes 7 to 8 large biscuits.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Music to cook to — february

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2.21.14 by sarah

 Good news, everyone. February is almost over. Are you dreaming about warmer weather?

We’re having a warm spell (60 degrees all weekend, hooray!) before next week’s mini polar vortex. I’m crossing my fingers that it will be our last. In the meantime, here’s a playlist for your weekend — cook to it, jam to it, or sit in the park and soak up some sunlight. That’s what I’ll be doing!

m2c2_feb-01

My Apartment :)

4

2.12.14 by sarah

Considering the fact that I moved into my Dupont apartment almost a year ago (April 19th, to be exact!), I probably should have posted these photos long ago. But to be honest, I went through so many temporary, mostly pleasant roommates for a variety of reasons — primarily to accommodate a friend who needed an apartment for the summer — that it was impossible to get settled in until I had a more permanent situation.

This past weekend, I got my hands on a great wide angle lens — the 24-105 mm — and experimented with some apartment photography. It also gave Emily and me reason to do a true deep clean of the apartment. After all, we’ve been Airbnb’ing it since last summer, and I hadn’t taken photos since my initial move-in. Those photos were kind of sad. Now, the apartment is as homey as ever!

bookshelf // sweetsonian

Color-coded bookshelf — haters gonna hate. The lighthouse photo was a gift from a close friend. The map came from a 1940s Morocco travel guide I purchased from Second Story Books in Dupont, and the watercolor gradient was made by Yours Truly. Bookshelves from Target.

living room // sweetsonian

Antique, surprisingly comfortable sofas were purchased on Craigslist. I’m planning on reupholstering them when I can afford it — probably in a cream or gray linen, depending on what my next apartment looks like. The rug is from Rugsusa.com (great resource for cheap rugs… but be aware, my apartment is usually covered in blue dust), and the coffee table was handmade in that apartment — hairpin legs found here. Since we don’t have a designated dining area, I purchased this “outdoor” gateleg table from Ikea. We love it. And we keep folding chairs in the closet for when we want to host a real, sit-down dinner.

bedroom // sweetsonian

Le bedroom. Blue velvet chair was a gift from a friend’s mother (who moved into the city and needed to offload furniture). Faux antelope throw from World Market (similar here), and the desk was handmade at the same time the coffee table was :)

credenza // sweetsonian

Baby fiddle leaf fig — purchased from Amazon when it was only 4 inches tall. My, how she’s grown! I got the typewriter from Past and Present, a recommendation on Sydney’s list of best thrift shops in Winchester, VA. Hat boxes belonged to my great-grandmother, New York City’s most fabulous teacher. And yes, they are filled with vintage Dior hats, purchased sometime in the 1940s and 1950s.

kitchen // sweetsonian

Last but not least, the kitchen. Hope you enjoyed this :)

entrance // sweetsoniankitchen // sweetsonian

 

Insta-January

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2.11.14 by sarah

insta-january // sweetsonian

 

1. Bubble baths are the best. Sometimes skipping the gym and opting for a glass of wine in a hot bath need to happen.

2. Snow falling after a late night at work — I was in the office for the State of the Union speech, and as I was hailing a cab, the presidential motorcade passed me on Independence Avenue. You know it’s the President when there’s an ambulance. And, after the motorcade passed, it was silent. You could hear the snow falling gently on the ground.

3. I finally framed and hung my foodie souvenir from my summer trip to Oslo — the paper take away bag from the cutest little pie shop called Hello Good Pie. They have a fabulous Instagram, in case you were wondering :)

4. I can drink tequila. And I didn’t get the spins! Fabulous dinner with two of my favorite people in New York City — Agave in the West Village is a place I’ll be visiting again and again.

5. Last week, my apartment building voted to take a financial settlement. We drank champagne on the floors of our hallway with two of our neighbors. It’s going to be a great summer.

6. My work computer decided to switch to Japanese one day. I learned that my favorite videographer ever knows Japanese. She promptly fixed it.

Easy as Chicken Pot Pie

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2.10.14 by sarah

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

The last time I was in New York, it was frigid. We spent our Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn — I spent more money than necessary on handmade jewelry at Artists and Fleas (quite possibly my favorite place on the earth), and after wandering to the waterfront for pretty photos of Manhattan and strolling around Brooklyn in the Nordic-temperature shade, we stumbled into a little cash-only joint named Juniper.

It smelled delicious, and had a space heater at the door. And right as we walked in, we eyed a giant bowl of mac and cheese that had just arrived at a nearby table. We salivated. So, we stayed.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

For being a restaurant with maaaaybe 6 tables, it took an unnecessarily long time to get our diet cokes and later, the check, but the comfort food was pretty amazing. I had the chicken pot pie, which I instagrammed and later dreamed of. After a few bites, I looked up at Shaeda and said, “We have to make this.”

She agreed.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

It seemed to be no coincidence that both Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart Living featured chicken pot pie recipes. It’s like their editors knew that we’d all be facing a brutal winter this year. In the past two months, I’ve seen more snow than I’ve seen in the three years it’s been since Snowmageddon. It’s lovely, but I do find myself checking flight prices to Miami every other day.

So today, I was determined to make this. I found the adorable mini saucepans at the TJ Maxx downtown (score! Similar ones here) and came up with a simple, but comforting recipe for chicken pot pie. Most recipes called for potatoes, and some for cream, but y’all know about my attempts to stay on track with some form of a healthy diet. I was surprised to realize that chicken pot pies don’t actually need much, other than chicken, vegetables, butter and puff pastry. It’s high in flavor, low in guilt. I’m okay with that.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup carrots, sliced into coins
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • About 3/4 lbs. chicken, diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 or 3 cups fresh spinach
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a skillet, melt the butter and saute the shallot and onions. Once the onions start to brown (maybe after 3-4 minutes), add the carrots, celery, and chicken. When the chicken starts to brown and burnt bits start to collect at the bottom of the pan, stir in the 2 tablespoons of flour.
  3. Add the chicken broth, and a pinch or two each of salt and pepper. Also add the spinach and stir, letting the stew simmer and thicken.
  4. Transfer your stew to two oven-safe bowls, dividing evenly. When I made this, I placed my puff pastry directly on top of the bowls. The puff pastry didn’t rise as high as it normally would, which I believe had something to do with the dough touching the stew directly — so on my next batch, I cooked the puff pastry on a baking sheet separately, and then placed the cooked puff pastry on the stew afterwards.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, until the puff pastry has risen and turns a golden brown. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

Links I’m Loving

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1.31.14 by sarah

linklove
{ in no particular order… }

  1. The cutest bloody mary how-to (hand illustrated… my fave!)
  2. This tortoiseshell necklace, under $13. Sold.
  3. A gorgeous, flowy maxi dress for Mexico. I can’t help but dream about my next international adventure.
  4. Puppy friends. Because, well, we all could use more puppy friends.
  5. I’ve been working on producing content for “Space Week” at work, and a coworker sent me these photos from Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Trippy.
  6. Ever since visiting Rochelle’s Primitive Reserve wood shop in Los Angeles, I’ve been obsessed with live edge wood furniture. This is gorgeous.
  7. Obsessed — more warm weather day dreams. This would be nice in Mexico and Spain.
  8. I’m getting so close to being able to do a yoga headstand without the wall. This guide (along with Emily, resident crazy yoga lady roommate) is helping me build the strength to get there. #abslikewhoa2014
  9. Cat in the snow. I really don’t need any other words.

Thinking Happy Thoughts.

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1.29.14 by sarah

mykonos // sweetsonian

It seems like everyone’s posting photos of tropical vacation destinations all over the internet. Maybe the 14 degree weather outside has something to do with it.

It’s been an exciting week — with State of the Union behind us, I feel like I have a ton of content coming up. And some fun infographics — sneak preview of the cute little alien I illustrated here!

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wishing I were on a beach in Greece right now. Plus, we have a couple of months of winter left, so I’m trying so hard to not say that I wished it was spring. Two. Months. Left. After all, Snowmageddon happened halfway through February. I have a lot of frigid weather left.

All of this dreaming about vacations has me in financial panic mode. So naturally, I’m going into collections mode with freelance clients, which is something I’ve fallen behind with. And, if any of you know what I’m talking about… the longer you go without pestering people for money, the more awkward and shy you feel about starting up again.

So here goes.

I mean, I have a trip to Mexico planned and paid for this May — Presidents’ Day Weekend wedding! And I’m hoping to take an extended road trip along the coast of Spain this summer… so yeah, bring on the freelance work.

Join me. I’m thinking happy (and warm) thoughts :)

mykonos // sweetsonian

mykonos // sweetsonian

Soup Swap!

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1.27.14 by sarah

soup swap // sweetsonian

Remember the days before people named storms? The first crazy name for me was Snowmageddon, back in 2010 (best storm ever, as far as I was concerned). But these days, it seems like every storm on the East Coast needs a corny name of its own. It’s silly.

As a friend of mine says, “back home, we just call it ‘weather.’”

Anyway, with the Polar Vortex, part two, on its way, I thought I’d share something my office really enjoys: soup swap.

We stole the idea from Shaeda’s office, but we’ve done it twice so far, and it’s still a huge hit. Basically, everyone makes a giant batch of soup, divides them into individual containers, and brings them all to the office, where we keep them in the refrigerator. Some coworkers take the soup home to share with their families, but most of us just keep them at the office so we don’t have to carry lunch every day (plus, we’re usually here after hours, so soup swap takes care of dinner most nights, too).

Here’s a sample of the recipes my coworkers brought in. They were all delicious! Hope y’all have something to warm your heart and your stomach until this cold spell passes.

Lentil & Sausage Soup  // Fresh Corn Soup // Lemony Chicken & Orzo Soup }

 

Humblebrag Cranberry Upside Down Cake

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1.24.14 by sarah

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

Since I started working for the Energy Department, I’ve been pretty lucky in the sense that I’ve gotten to take several trips to the White House grounds, either for work or for tours. And, as much fun as photographing events in the EEOB next door is, the tours are particularly exciting — and honestly, visiting the White House grounds never gets old.

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

Between fall and winter, I was able to score tickets to two White House East Wing tours, thanks to awesome coworkers (who are the well-connected ones that actually get invited to these things). The most recent adventure was right before I left for California for Christmas — most of my office took a trip together for the Holiday tour, which is extra special because you’re allowed to take photos. They had the GWU a capella group singing Christmas carols and Michael Jackson tunes, and Christmas trees galore. It. Was. Gorgeous.

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

I’m heading back in a few weeks for bowling in the basement — something my Norwegian friends could not believe was a “thing.”

Next time, I’m bringing my camera.

Anyway, this recipe comes from the adorable little book that the White House gave out to everyone that attended the Holiday Tour — it’s filled with illustrated pictures of Bo and Sunny running around the White House. And, at the end, this recipe for cranberry upside down cake is featured, straight from the White House Pastry Kitchen. Honestly, make this cake while you can still find cranberries in at the grocery store. If you’ve missed the season, then sub in any sort of fruit — peaches, apples, cherries, you name it. It’ll all taste pretty amazing.

Someone tweet these photos to Michelle. I’d die of happiness if she saw it.

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

Cranberry Upside Down Cake, from the White House Pastry Kitchen

Ingredients:

Caramelized cranberry topping:

  • 1/4 cup butter (half of a stick)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1-2 cups fresh cranberries

Cake:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Cooking tools: Cast iron skillet or cake pan (use parchment paper if using a cake pan), three mixing bowls, silicone spatula.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a cast iron skillet (mine is 9.5 inches wide), melt the 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cranberries, making sure the cranberries are coated in the butter and sugar. After a minute or two, turn the heat off, and let them sit while you prepare the cake batter.
  4. In one mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Using a stand mixer (or any electric mixer), combine the 1/2 cup butter with about half of the sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, mix in the orange juice, and then add the egg yolks, one by one.
  6. Gradually, mix in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk.
  7. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar, until they hold a firm peak. Then, gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
  8. Once completely incorporated, pour the cake batter into your cast iron skillet, covering the cranberries.
  9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, when a toothpick comes out clean. After baking, let the cake cool on a wire rack (or the grate of your stove) for an hour or two. When you’re ready to serve, run a knife along the edge of the cake, and flip onto a plate.
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