Friday, March 25, 2011

The next restaurant chef? Who me?!

In an effort to be more frugal. I have started cooking more at home. I've challenged myself to try at least one new recipe a week, so Sunday after church I go to the grocery store and purchase ingredients for recipes, making sure that there's some cross over in ingredients needed in each recipe (as to save the moolah ;) haha)

So this past week I purchased the makings for baked ziti, chicken fajitas, and french onion soup.

Last week I made my own spaghetti sauce from scratch and it was delicious, so I knew I had sauce, and ziti noodles, and the herbs, so all I really needed was the cheese. So I thought about what I liked to eat with cheese on it, which brought me to french onion soup. So knowing I had to purchase onions for that (obviously) I thought what else do I like onions in which brought me to chicken fajitas....see how my wicked mind works - muahahaha

Anyway I found this amazing recipe online - you can find it here:

I adapted it to what I knew I had in my pantry and went from there.
Firstly. Onions. Lots of onions, you chop onions until you think your arms are going to fall off, then keep going.

I cut up 3 of these monsters...

...yes you are correct - that's a big freaking onion - 3 of them came out to 9 dollars, not so frugal, but hey! we're making delicious soup and sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

Next I put them in my pan, with 1/2 a stick of butter and sent them to Onion Heaven (where all onions go to be cooked to perfection then be eaten by moi) it's a sick fantasy I know.

About halfway through the process (like 20 minutes) they'll start to look like this...


So you keep stirring, and drinking wine (well at least that's what I do), and while that magicalness is happening on the stove, you can prepare other things on the side. 2 of my favorite ingredients to put in anything are balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire (try saying that 3 times fast, shoot just try saying it once) sauce...

...these two ingredients are essential to the soup tasting delicious, so don't skimp if you don't have - go GET!

Next I got out 6 cans of beef broth, 1 can of chick broth(neither of which are pictured) 1/2 a cup of red wine, a bay leaf, fresh thyme, and parsley (my fresh parsley got ruined in the fridge, I accidentally put a bowl on top of it and smushed it :-( oh well, dried worked just as well).

Once that's all prepared and laid out on the cutting board like an offering for a deity your onions should look like this....

...let them caramalize for like 5 more minutes, then dump everything, except the balsamic vinegar in the pan.

It'll look like this:

...put that back on the stove to simmah down now for like 20 min, then turn your broiler on and focus on your bread and cheese (I think God made bread and cheese on Day 6 and just never looked back).

At the Wegman's up here they have a phenomenal bakery. I got this amazing Asiago Cheese Italian loaf of bread ("French Onion soup with Italian bread?!" you say, well heck I'm up for a little cross-cultural dining, how bout you?) and sliced it into really thick slices and put it on a broiler pan (as pictured here):

...then while those slices were in the broiler for 2 mins on each side I got out my ramekins...

Once those pieces of bread are nice a toasty and your soup is all happily married (you sneak in the balsamic vinegar at the very end) and warmed up in the pot. Remove the herbs and spoon the soup in the ramekins, then place the bread on top, like so..., the cheese. God bless the cheese, I used a combo of Swiss and Gruyere cheese (O.M.Cheese - so freaking good).
I sliced the cheese really thin and put it on top of the ramekins, then sprinkled it with paprika for some color and spice.

...then stick those puppies in the broiler. They only need like 5-7 minutes, just until you get the cheese to the consistency you want. Seeing as how I have enough soup to feed my entire building and have been eating it for the past 2 days, I have found that 6 1/2 minutes is the ideal time. It'll come out looking like this:


And that is the story of how I made the most amazing French Onion soup - I'm telling you guys, once you make your own, it's hard to think about a store/restaurant-bought soup that tastes as good.

Stay tuned to see what I make next week.....

Monday, September 20, 2010

What am I doing? What's going on? What's happening here?

I could be cliche and begin every post, I haven't written in this in such a long time, OR we could all just pretend that it's only been a day or so since I've last written, cause sometimes it feels like that ;-)

Yes, it's been a while, but there are big reasons for that - the past 1.5 months have been INSANE! Between pro-staff training, getting my building back from conference services, getting the RA's back, RA Training, Front desk workers, Schedule, Hiring, Firing, Parents, Student Conduct, Building Council....the list goes on and on. I have been so busy I don't know what to do with myself. 2 weekends ago was the first time I had a day where I was not doing some sort of work-related activity or event in 40 days (it was like the worst lent ever).

While things have been crazy, things have also been amazing. My sister Danielle is due in 3.5 weeks, she's getting bigger and more beautiful by the second. I can't wait to meet my darling Goddaughter ----k---- BIG HUGS!! I'm blonde again (and LOVING it). My sister Katie is turning 21 tomorrow! Two good friends are getting married in October and I'm able to come down for both weddings which is super exciting! I took a day trip to Washington D.C. with my friend Spencer and his friend Lamar and had a fantastic time (Video footage to come shortly)! I'm going to New York this weekend to meet up with Mary, who will be here for her friend Audra's wedding - SO EXCITED ABOUT THAT!
ANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNND I just applied for a Ph.D Program up here at the University of Maryland College Park focusing on Education Leadership, Higher Education, and International Education - so we'll see how that goes.

I've been doing some research on Millennial Students (this will help to define Millennials for those of you that don't know - - let me know if it doesn't work ) for one of the committees I'm working on in the department, and have really jumped head first into the project. My work focuses on trying to understand why students today aren't as affected by hate-bias incidents as students used to be. It talks about how Millennials fear is manifested in a way that isn't physical in nature, it's cerebral. For example: If a student's cell phone was stolen - they wouldn't feel scared that someone stole their phone or that they were in danger because someone stole their personal belongings, they would feel scared because they can't get in contact with anyone to help them. Millennials have grown up feeling "safe" all the time, they're always with somebody - parents, teachers, counselors, after-school programs, etc...they've never experienced the latchkey childhood many before them did. So in the 70's or 80's if someone were to write the N-word on someone's door that student would feel scared for their personal safety whereas students today think it's more likely that it's a joke or not that serious. Anyway, that's what I'm working on now...we'll see where it goes, but I'll stop because I'm sure I'm boring all of you.

As far as I go, I'm good. I've set up my apartment to almost completion. I bought a desk at Ikea and put it together by myself :-) I also bought a sofa there and put that together and in my living room. Once everything is finished and cleaned I'll take pictures - I know I've been promising, but I want it to be perfect! I'm a little homesick, but it's not taking over my entire existence, I'm sure I'll be fine when I can see my family sooner rather than later. I'm just getting over a nasty sinus infection - the little snot-rocket germ generators I live with spread sicknesses faster than Trojan on your computer, it's ridiculous - however, a liberal dose of antibiotics and sleep have me well on my way to good health.

I think that's all I've got in me to write about today. I'll work on the pictures of my apartment and video of my trip to the capitol.

Mad Love
Kelly McNell :-)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

No pretenses.....

I feel one of the greatest life lessons I learned over the past few years, was to process. Process how I'm feeling, what I'm feeling, why I might feel that way, the basic cause and effect of human emotions etc...

Lately I've been doing a lot of processing about my move and my life in general and about how I am feeling about it all, and the truth is.....fantastic.

While getting ready to move here I was never super anxious (in a bad way) or worried or nervous - part of me just knew that everything was going to be ok and it is. I've met many wonderful people, I really settling into life here well. It feels different (in a better way) than being in Orlando.

For the longest time at UCF I felt like I was just there, just a presence, hovering stagnantly, living day to day life doing what I did to get by, it was so...routine. Everyone knew me as the girl who spoke at Orientation, or the girl who worked in the LEAD Scholars Office, or the girl who would get me in trouble if she saw me drinking right now, but here....I feel like I can truly be myself and not be worried about any of it. It's not like I'm going streaking through the quad, or getting hammered and making bad decisions. I'm just Kelly.

....ugh I'm having a hard time trying to explain myself right now. I do really well with analogies, so let's try one of those....

Ok so say that you are mutual friends with a couple. Then they break up, then the boy is having a party at his house and you want to go, but you don't want to be unloyal to the girl (who isn't going), and you don't want to be an asshole to the boy, and all you really want to do is go party with your friends, but if you go the girl will be mad at you for going and the boy will just want to talk shit about the girl to you all night long and in the end nobody is happy....................yeah here I don't have any of that....and now that I think about it maybe it's just because I'm new and don't really know anybody hahahahahaha that didn't really work so well

Man....I'm a hot mess - I guess what I'm trying to say is that, for the first time in a really long time, I feel like I can be myself no holds barred and can live my life for me.

I am wearing clothes I used to not, I am flirting with more men than I used to (I used to rarely, if ever - this is a big step for me), I've opened up a lot and have stopped closing myself off (turns out I'm an extremely private person - I didn't even know I was until my bffl Jess opened my eyes to it), I am joking and laughing more, I am just happier.

I liked my life in Orlando, don't get me wrong, and maybe a lot of the things that I found wrong with it were products of my own actions or decisions, but maybe just maybe this move was more than just a new career for me, maybe God had a different plan and he realized it was time for a new start for my heart and life...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Work.....hard work

So, I've been working here at the University for what is now my 3rd week. I like all my co-workers and we have a lot of fun together.....but I have this problem. I can't seem to find the motivation to do ANYTHING work-related lately. I think it's because I've been working in an annual community for the past 2 years and now that I'm here and my RA's don't come back for a month I just want to chill and hang out with my co-workers haha. I will do the work, but part of me just thinks "eh, do it tomorrow". It's horrible! I feel like such a schlub, but at the same time over the past two weeks I've done a lot of learning, about: how my community works, how the department works, who our campus partners are, what I need to do to prepare. I've been getting all my ducks in a row you could say, now it's just a matter of walking those ducks somewhere to do something...anything lol

In other news I've been researching doctoral schools, Towson will pay for tuition at ANY state school in Maryland and all I have to pay for is the fees....the max at any school I would have to pay is $855.00 a semester. Um, if I can get my doctorate for $855.00 a semester you better BET I'll be doing it. Ever since I started researching it, I've found myself more and more excited about it and the possibility of going back to school. In the past couple of months I have had this perpetual feeling that I was missing something, and now I've figured it Going to classes, absorbing information, utilizing it for research and the betterment of not only myself, but my career as well is something I'll never grow tired of. I've always felt that education was one of those things that you could never have enough of. I'm still researching and hopefully will have more info on that later.

Hope all is well on your side, lovely followers!
I'm out like a trout :-D

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This is your captain speaking, I'm sorry for the delay folks....

.....SO I'm super sorry that I've been horrible about updating my blog!
It has been a whirlwind of a month - I'll tell you what....

After my fantastic going away party where my outfit was one of three highlights of the night!
The second was when a girl faceplanted on my feet - hilarious story!!!! I will tell you all about it one day and if we're together I'll reenact it for you)
The third was me slipping in a puddle of spilled drinks and doing a split on the dance floor (owwwwwwies - I didn't stretch properly...I'll be ready next time!!)

After that GLORIOUS night - it was time to pack pack pack pack pack!
My brother, sister, and bffl Jess helped me pack and get organized to move out of the Res Hall and home for a few days.
After that, it was time for a road trip up to Baltimore, Maryland.
I moved in on Monday the 28th-Wednesday the 30th. I spent time with my wonderful family who flew up to help and get me settled into my new life.

My apartment is almost finished (waiting on that elusive first paycheck) I just need a desk for the guest bedroom for the computer and potentially a new love seat and bookshelf for the living room). But they got me set up - hung pictures on the wall and made their mark on my new apartment - i can never thank them enough for being here with would def not have been the same or done as quickly without them

Forth of July was spent with new colleagues and friends cooking out on a beautiful Maryland day.

I'm adjusting to living on my own...not knowing anyone well enough to call them up and say "hey whatcha doing? wanna hang out?" so it's been a lot of movie watching and book reading at the apartment. It's weird to not have so many people in my life, like I used to at UCF, or like my family in Okeechobee. As much as I talk about technology and how it's going to take over the world *something I might do my doctoral research on* I have to take a step back and graciously thank the creators of Skype and Google Video chat - without which I would not be able to SEE and TALK to my family and friends as often as I do...def makes the missage diminish.

I found an amazing church that I've been going to for 2 weeks.
It's called Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, isn't it absolutely gorgeous? And better than feels right, it's the perfect fit for me. I feel like it's part of what I always felt was missing in Orlando...I searched for the right church and never could find it. Something was always off with those, but this one....perfect

As far as me goes: I'm good, no GREAT! I'm working hard - loving my new job, and it seems as though they like me too (hehe)! I love Maryland, I do not love the lack of cell phone service I have or the fact that I'll prob have to get a new phone, and number. I of course miss my family, and Mary and Meg....but idk I feel like I've gotten used to not seeing them all the time, I feel like I miss them the way I did at UCF (wishing they were there, with me, experiencing things, partying, etc...) so it's the same, but different too bc I'm 1000 miles away.

I miss Jess...a lot - it's weird to have someone who's a constant in your life just be gone one day. She's my best friend and her presence is something I definitely took for granted bc I hate the fact that at the end of the day I'm not with her processing about work, or joking about any/everything, or singing silly songs about shelves and such (say that 5 times fast lol). I look at this picture of us holding hands....

and I instantly cry, but it makes me smile because I also 1.) think of my party and how much fun we had! and 2.) how pretty and artistic I think the picture is. With all of that combined: us partying, having fun, and how pretty and artistic we both are in our own ways and together - clearly defines our relationship and how awesome and crazy and beautiful it is.

My mom bought me tickets to come home this weekend - it is indeed very soon after I moved up here, but there is a family party/reunion of sorts at the Lake House and she and I felt like I should be there. So I not only do I get to see my whole family, but I get to see my beautiful 6 1/2 month pregnant sister Danielle and rub her belly and talk to my niece Cara Grace and I am SOOOOOOOOOO excited about that!!!! BUT I also get to see Jessi-poo on Sunday while waiting at the airport for my flight.

All in all it's been a good month, it's going to be a great weekend, and it's going to be an even better year working here at this beautiful University.

I think that's all the writing I have in me for today. But I will write soon...PROMISE and I'll post pictures of my HUGE apartment and my office and everything.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hairspray - Going Away Party

So I know it looks like a lot, but basically I have been DREAMING about this party for weeks now. Tomorrow night I will be having a Hairspray themed going away pub crawl in downtown Orlando in honor of me moving to Baltimore. I have been building up this outfit and party for a while and have really talked it up a lot - failure is NOT an option....not that I think it will be, I just know that betwixt this outfit, my undying wish to party hearty and how much fun this party is going to be - Friday night will be a night for downtown to remember!!

I've added pics of all the things I'm planning on wearing - tomorrow night I will DEFINITELY add a picture of myself all dressed up in everything.I'm EXCITED you should be too....also COME TO THE PARTY!!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ready, Set, Reflect...


Today marks 2 weeks until I start my new job at Towson University in Baltimore Maryland and the beginning of my new life 1,013 miles away from my friends and family. It's going to be a challenge, but an exciting one at that. I can't wait to learn more about the city and myself as I grow into my profession and new life.

I've been extremely reflective lately about everything in my life and how in just a month, so many things can change.....the following is a note I posted on facebook last week about how much has actually changed:

I've been doing some reflecting about my life and the changes that have been happening so rapidly and so greatly for everyone I know - it just makes me think about how much I love my life and I love all of you

Since May 1st:
I was offered a job at Towson University
I accepted said job :-)
I Graduated with my Masters Degree
I got to spend time with bffls - Mary and Meg
I did something I wasn't comfortable with and in turn became more confident in myself
I met one of the funniest people I've ever encountered - Paul Wojdacz
I bought a new car (I named him Indy) and sold Andy (he is sorely missed)
I celebrated with my roommate and bffl turning 25
I also watched her get a tattoo!
My little sister spent time with her best friends and they all did something daring!
My older sister and brother-in law bought a new house
They also found out that they will be having a beautiful baby girl in October
The two of them (the crazies) also just bought a 6 month old Chocolate Lab named Mia
I found out 2 people/friends in the department who will be parents by the end of the year!
and my friends Monica Saldarriaga, Carla McKnight, Ashley Conyers, Brittany Biancalana, Brett Ambrosini, and Peter Bandel all were offered and accepted amazing jobs!!

With all of these amazing things happening I can't help but be excited for everyone and what is to come next!
If I missed anything, let me know :-D
<3 Kelly

So as you can see a lot has happened....I can't wait for more to happen, I have such a great feeling about it all!

I will post more soon!
MAD LOVE - Kelly