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.

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?

16 November 2011

Italian Vegetable Sub Melts

This here's a little creation I made one day when I had a fridge full of vegetables left over for my week and needed a creative way to use them. In the past I have been a huge fan of meatball subs, but of course don't eat them since a) they are bad for me, b) unless you make the meatballs yourself God only knows what you're putting in your mouth, and c) they are bad for me.

I decided to try and make a healthy version of the meatball subs with veggies. "How is a meatball sub anything like a veggie sub?" you may ask. Well, it has bread, tomato sauce, and cheese and in Hannahland that's enough to fool me.

Italian Vegetable Sub Melts
Serves two

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 a medium onion, diced
1/2 a large zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1/2 bell pepper of your choice, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
5 mushrooms, diced
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 shakes dried oregano
1-2 shakes parsley
4 tbsp tomato sauce/pizza sauce
2 sub rolls
4 slices provolone cheese

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add the vegetables and seasonings and cook, stirring frequently to lightly brown them.

Set the oven to broil, cut open the sub rolls and place on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven for 2 minutes to toast. Keep an eye that they don't burn.

Take out the rolls and spread each with tomato sauce. Fill with vegetables and cover each with two slices of provolone. Place under the broiler for another 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and starting to bubble and brown.

Serve immediately!

Question of the Day:
Are there any foods that look good but you refuse to eat because of its contents?

15 November 2011

Totally Awesome Tunes Tuesday| Sad Songs

It's time for another Totally Awesome Tunes Tuesday! Last week I asked you to send me your favorite songs to cry to and I was delighted to find my inbox full of good tunes. These songs are all new to me, so I'm so excited that my little plan to music swap is actually working! Check out the sad song picks from this week:

Autumn from Stay Gold, Autumn shared:

November by Azure Ray

Demie from Punctuation Mark shared:

Problem Queen by Danger Mouse and Norah Jones

Amanda from Simple Girl, Simple Pleasures shares:

Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson

World Spins Madly On by The Weepies

This week's Tuesday Tunes topic: "Road Trip Playlist." I want all the tunes you can't drive 5 miles without!

Send me a link to the YouTube video for the song and a picture of the artist and I'll post them here next Tuesday for another music swap day!

Email all entries to culture_connoisseur(at)yahoo.com.

14 November 2011

Weekend Update| November 14, 2011

Little Zeb and I.

Well, I'm not quite prepared for my weekend update. Friday night we flew up to Indiana to visit John's sister and brother-in-law and our nephew Zeb. We stayed Saturday and flew out late last night getting in around 11:45 pm. Needless to say, I am in no way prepared to share all the photos with you. So pictures of my time in Indiana and Kentucky (we did a day trip to Louisville) will be up tomorrow. I can't wait to share them!

Until then, I wanted to leave you with this awesome video. I don't usually post videos on my blog, but this one is too good not to share. Enjoy! And I hope you all had a great weekend!

11 November 2011

Anniversary Cruise Photos

Good morning, and happy Friday! Not to brag, but I've got the day off today. Three hoorays for being a government employee! I finally had some time this morning to round up my cruise photos to share. I hope you enjoy them (I know we did!) and that it brings some warmth into your day if you're dealing with those chilly temperatures...

Here's some of the photos from on the ship. We were on board the Disney Magic and the service was absolutely wonderful.

Anniversary Cake.

They tied our hands together and sung us a Happy Anniversary song!

A ghost towel for Halloween.

Pirate night. We didn't come prepared but John did find a bandana. :)

We stopped at two ports in the Eastern Caribbean- St. Maarten and Tortola. In St. Maarten we headed over to the French side to check out a fort, and then over to the dutch to visit a secluded beach and do some snorkeling. Tortola was just ok. We got off the boat for about 30 minutes and then headed back to relax by the pool and eat more food...

John at the overlook of the French side of the island.

On our trek up the hill to the French fort.


A cloudy day in Tortola. Steve Zissou impression.

Our final and most exciting stop was Castaway Cay, the Disney island. It has everything you could ever want in an island and we had a blast snorkeling and relaxing at the adult beach. We say little Dorie fish, striped angel fish, and even one huge gray fish with warts all over it. Isn't this location breath-taking?


Bring me two Pina Coladas...

Fun in the sun!

I hope you enjoyed my trip photos! We had such a wonderful time spending every waking hour together. I guess we're one of those odd couples that never gets tired of one another. It was a much needed break from real life and the perfect way to celebrate a fantastic year of marriage and see a little more of this beautiful earth.

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite spot in the Caribbean?