Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kick-off to Homecoming in Blacksburg...

After my conference ended I hit the road and made the trip from Greensboro to Blacksburg to meet up with Andy and to check out our home away from home for the weekend...our RV.  This is the second time we've visited Blacksburg in an RV (remember this?) and we were looking forward to enjoying another fun football weekend at Tech. 

They switched the parking around a bit so this time we were parked on what used to be the first hole at Tech's golf course.  It was a pretty appropriate parking spot considering our relationship started 10 years ago on that very golf course.

After getting settled in we quickly changed into our golf clothes and headed to Tech's new golf course, The River Course, but not without a quick lunch break at Macadoos and a shopping spree at the bookstore.  :)

This was our first time playing The River Course and we were definitely impressed, to say the least.  Of course it helped that the trees were decked out in Hokie orange and maroon! It really is a gorgeous course and while our golf games weren't quite as pretty, it was still a great afternoon on the links. 

After golf we headed back to the RV, changed into some more "downtown" appropriate attire and made our way through campus to some of our favorite night time spots in Blacksburg.  We started at Sharkeys and once we fought our way through the muuuuuuch younger crowd (ugh) we ordered some "Strong" Island Iced Teas (the long time Friday special) and found a somewhat quiet spot in the corner.  Shortly after, our great friends Chris and Aimee joined us and we spent the next 30 or so minutes discussing how cheap the drinks were, how short the skirts were, and how old we felt! Ha! :)

After a quick stop at Champs and some super yummy and equally unhealthy chicken dippers, we all agreed it was past our bed times and we all called it a night, opting to save our energy for a day of tailgating and football watching. 

Did I mention it was only 10?

Conference in Greensboro

Last week I headed to Greensboro, NC for my organization's 19th Annual Conference.  While not the most glamorous of locations, it really was the perfect spot for my crew of engineers to gather for a week of education, networking, and a lot of beer!

This was my 6th conference with this group and have to brag and say it was definitely our best one yet.  We had a champagne toast to celebrate 10 years of the certification program that I oversee.  We also had Jeff Hammond (a famous NASCAR pit crew chief, so I'm told) as our keynote so we used that to theme the conference with lots of NASCAR and racing decor.  We even got a race car with our logo on it and had some of our exhibitors sponsor logos on it at as well.  It was pretty cool, I must say. 

For one of the evening receptions we brought in a simulator car and our attendees got to take a five minute race around the Charlotte race track.  I took a spin in it as well, but lasted about 30 seconds before I had crashed and burned...I blame my heels...and chardonnay (see, you really shouldn't drink and drive!)

While it was a long and hectic week and I missed my family like crazy the satisfaction of knowing we put on one heck of a conference made up for it. 

Next year, we head to Orlando and we're already getting excited about it...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Train to the Clifton Fair

We discovered the Clifton Fair last year and had so much fun we made a point to put it on our calendar for this year as well. 

This year we discovered that the train runs from Burke to Clifton and the ride is free!  We were so excited to take Adam on the train and he loved every minute of it.  Andy dropped us off and drove to Clifton so we wouldn't be tied to the train schedule for our return home, and Adam and I headed off for our big rail adventure!

Adam's eyes were so big just taking everything in as we waited on the platform.  Then his ears perked up as he heard the train coming towards us and started shouting, "train coming! train coming!" 

The ride wasn't too long but we did get the added bonus of having another train come up right beside us!  Adam was in train heaven! 

The fair was also very fun, but the train ride was certainly the highlight!  Can't wait until next year!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Someone get this kid an agent...

Is he a natural or what?  And I promise none of this was staged...except of course the part where I forced him to wear a vest in 70 degree weather....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I hope...

I am in L.O.V.E. with this little boy...

I hope he'll always let me hold his hand and let me show him new things...

I hope we'll always be able to have little chats and tell each other secrets...

I hope he'll always be my little buddy...even when he's my big buddy...

I hope...

Incase you were wondering...

Adam's eyes are blue...

Like, really blue...

Speaking of blogworthy...

I'd say these awesome photos Uncle Lee took on Saturday evening count...

There are no words...

Monday, October 10, 2011


This post marks my 500th entry on Liddy Cakes.  I started this blog on a whim with the original goal of keeping track of fun recipes we've tried and as a creative outlet for myself.  I always enjoyed writing so it seemed the perfect excuse to keep those creative juices flowing.  However, over the years, and the 500 posts, this blog has turned into a living journal for my family.  What started out as a husband, wife and dog, has turned into a father, mother, son and seemingly attention depraved dog (but please don't let her fool you, she's as spoiled as ever.)

We've experienced the most amazing
joys, found ourselves surrounded by the best friends and family anyone could ask for, enjoyed gourmet and not-so gourmet but still equally delicious meals, hosted dinner parties, and traveled the world, more than once.  

All along, we've found ways to make what might seem like mundane work weeks "blogworthy" as we've ventured out to
parades, wineries, new restaurants, beaches, and parks.  It might sound silly, but I do believe this blog has pushed me to try new things, to turn what might be an enjoyably lazy Saturday into an adventure, all for the thrill of having some fun and (hopefully) something inspiring to post on the blog. Let's face it, when you document your life, it ought to be worth documenting.  So, thank you Liddy Cakes, for pushing us to explore our surroundings, experiment in the kitchen, and record these sometimes fleeting moments in our life that we will be able to treasure always. 

Here's to another 500 blogworthy moments!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin patch...

With the arrival of fall weather last weekend, we took advantage and met up with Greg, Erica and Blake at our local pumpkin patch.  It was a little wet still from the rain the day before, so that made it a little messy and challenging to stage any photos, but we still had fun chasing Adam through the tunnels and picking out a few pumpkins to take home with us.

Love this time of year!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Braised Pork Shoulder...the sequel...

With all that leftover pork we had to think of some way of reinventing it for another evening's meal, and I came up with what I think was a pretty creative option...we turned it into a pumpkin and pork pizza.

We have a pizza place up the street, Johnny's, that has pretty good pizza, but our favorite thing to order is their pizza dough.  They sell their dough, un-cooked of course, in a small and a large and for $4.50 for a large dough it's a pretty good deal and takes a ton of the work out of making homemade pizza. :)

So with the dough rolled out and the crust pre-stuffed with mozzarella (Andy refuses to eat a pizza that doesn't have a stuffed crust) I simply used the leftover pumpkin sauce from a few nights before as the base, then topped with leftover pork, cremini mushrooms, red onion, more mozzarella and some arugula for color and extra crunch. 

It was so good and a great way to use up leftovers without feeling like you were eating leftovers. Of course, I didn't mind the leftover pizza for lunch the next day. ;)

Fall veggies with cheese easy!

Our next evening's dinner was the epitome of easy and a great use of seasonal veggies to add some much needed depth to a store bought main dish. We again used my October "Real Simple" for the inspiration for this dinner and we'll definitely be doing this one again as it is also an Adam pleaser--bonus!

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes (Trader Joes always has pre-cooked, pre-peeled, pre-sliced squash and it's cheap!)
1 container of cemini mushrooms, halved (we also used a container of shitake--again, Trader Joes has great prices on mushrooms)
-While RS didn't call for it, we had asparagus on hand that needed to be used so we added that to the mix
1 pound of fresh cheese tortellini (they even sell whole grain versions so that's what we used)

Pre-heat oven to 450.  Toss the veggies in some olive oil and add in some salt, pepper and for added flavor some sage or rosemary. Roast the veggies for about 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, cook up the tortellini, saving a little bit of the pasta water.  Once the veggies are done, toss them with the pasta and reserved cooking water in a sauce pan and grate some fresh parmesan or gruyere cheese on top.  For an extra kick, I always add just a little nutmeg when using fall veggies like these, just adds that extra kick. :)

More cookin...(Tomato Soup & Paninis)

We've found a new obsession---homemade paninis!  We used my October "Real Simple" for this night's dinner and cooked up some super easy tomato soup with roast beef and horseradish paninis to dip into it (served with leftover green beans from the night before).  It was a perfectly easy, yet satisfying meal for a Monday night. 

Soup Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil
2 large onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Soup Directions:
Heat the oil in large saucepan, add in onions and garlic and cook until softened.  Add the tomatoes and juices, broth, thyme, salt & pepper.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slight thickened.  Then blend in a blender (we skipped this step and instead used our Magic Wand we received as a wedding gift---we didn't register for it, but we've gotten a ton of use out of it in the past 6 years--thanks again Dan & Eloise!) :)

For the paninis, we used sourdough from Trader Joes, a horseradish/mayo spread that we had on hand, roast beef, fresh arugula, and gruyere cheese and our George Foreman grill (yes, Andy still has his from college) to heat them up. 

They were so delicious and I think I see a panini maker in our future--there are so many fun options and they couldn't be easier on a work night. 


Cooking up a storm (Braised Pork Shoulder)

Now that the lazy, hazy days of summer are behind us, we've reinvigorated our weekly menu planning and new recipe searching activities.  Most of our inspiration came from the October issue of "Real Simple" and their month of easy meals that we have made quite a few dinners from.  We're sort of circling back to the begining of the year when we made resolutions to grocery shop less and cook more healthy (for the most part), new and fun dinners. 

I suppose this first recipe might not qualify for "healthy" but it did contain some greans, some protein, and on a fall Sunday, let's face it, a Braised Pork Shoulder just sounds awesome.

We adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart's October issue from 2010 (side note...I just LOVE when my October issue of Martha comes, it starts off my three favorite month's of Martha magazines!)

6-7 ounce pork shoulder

6 medium/thick slices pancetta
2 thinly sliced onions
1 head of garlic
2 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds (using mortal and pestal, crush the fennel and coriander together)
2 cups of Belgium style ale (we used a Sam Adam's fall harvest brew, can't remember which!)
1 cup of low sodium chicken stock
Olive oil, salt & pepper

*Pre-heat oven to 300
*Finely chop pancetta and crips up in olive oil in a dutch oven then remove
*Caramelize sliced onions in dutch oven for about 20 minutes then remove
*Season the pork with some salt & pepper then add a little more oil to dutch oven and sear fat side down for about 5 minutes or until golden, flip and repeat
*Add in your combined fennel and coriander with chopped up garlic and cook about a minute or so
*Add back in the onions and pancetta as well as the beer and chicken stock and bring to a simmer
*Then cover and put in the oven for roughly 4 hours or until the pork is shredding

Our spin on it was that before we began shredding the meat we took about a cup of the liquid from the dutch oven and added to a sauce pan.  We then added a small can of pumpkin puree, some nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and a little more chicken stock and let it thicken up (we probably added some additional pepper and salt). 

We then boiled some pappardelle pasta and plated it up with some shredded pork on top, with some steamed green beans and then topped with the pumpkin sauce. 

So delicious, so fall, and so great for leftovers (wait until you see what we did with those!) :)