Beer Can Chicken

We got another 5-lb chicken in our Fresh Fork delivery last week. ANOTHER chicken! Just when I thought I was done sticking my hand inside that cavity to find the giblets … nevermind, I digress.

I already made pretty much the best roast chicken ever (Thanks Mom!) … and I don’t have a deep fryer … so what was I to do with another 5-lb chicken? One of my coworkers, Gail, kept suggesting I make Beer Can Chicken. I have to admit – I was skeptical. Beer Can Chicken? Didn’t that involve sticking a beer up a chicken? That wasn’t something I was really ready to do.

The chicken and the beer can meet ... it gets more awkward. (Yes, I have red/white/blue Bud cans)

The chicken and the beer can meet … it gets more awkward. (Yes, I have red/white/blue Bud cans)

But when we picked up the chicken, I still didn’t really know what to do with it. And so when I asked B, and he also suggested Beer Can Chicken, I knew it was likely a done deal. So I found a few different highly-rated recipes and decided to give it a try. The result? Awkward? Yes. I may have had a few conversations with the chicken while I was making it. They kinda went like this:

Me: (As I’m pushing the chicken on top of the beer can) Oh boy, I’m so sorry…soo sorry..so sorry Mr. chicken!

B: Who are you talking to?

Me: Uhh, the chicken?

B: Why? What are you saying?

Me: I may be apologizing. I just feel so rude … I’m literally sticking a beer can up this chicken’s … umm …

B: You realize it’s dead, right?

Me: (starting to feel sheepish) Yes …

B: And you realize you already stuck your whole hand inside of it to clean it and take out the giblets, right?

Me: I still have no idea where these giblets are! I think I got another giblet-less chicken!

Okay, that’s probably not word-for-word what happened … but you get the idea. And then when the can had to come out of the chicken? That was even worse. Anyway, if you think you can bring yourself to stick a beer can inside a chicken, then this recipe is for you. Pretty simple, pretty delicious – and the leftovers are just as good!

beer can chicken | i crashed the web

Beer Can Chicken (based on this recipe)

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 c. garlic powder
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tbs oregano (I used dried)
  • 1 tbs basil (I used dried)
  • 1 tbs parsley (I used dried)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (12 fluid ounce) cans light-flavored beer (I had Budweiser®)
  • 1 whole chicken (mine was 5-lb)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped into one inch pieces
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and chopped into one inch pieces
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped into one inch pieces

Here’s what you do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Clean and rinse chicken. This where you’re supposed to discard the giblets, but I honestly didn’t find them. Again. Anyway, wash the inside of the chicken and dry it completely.
  3. Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl – garlic powder, salt, onion powder, dried oregano, basil, parsley, and ground black pepper.
  4. Pour 1/3 of one can of beer into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place the open beer can (2/3 full) in the center of the baking dish.
  5. Place the chicken, legs down over the open beer can. With the breast of the chicken facing you, use a knife to cut a small slit on each side of the front of the chicken and insert the tip of each wing into each slit. It will look like it’s crossing its arms.
  6. Rub the dry seasoning mixture over the entire chicken. Place chopped veggies in pan surrounding chicken. Open the remaining beer and pour 1/2 of it into the pan under the chicken and over the veggies. Save the remaining beer.
  7. Bake the chicken for about 45 minutes and then pour remaining beer into the pan around the chicken. Continue baking for about 45 more minutes or until the juices run clear. A meat thermometer should read 165-170 degrees when inserted at the thickest part of the chicken.
  8. Remove the chicken from the oven and remove the beer can. Be careful – it’s hot!
  9. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil, and allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy with veggies!

raw beer can chicken

Before …

beer can roast chicken

After!

Happiness Is a Warm Loaf of Zucchini Bread

Dessert breads are THE BOMB. Dot Com. Don’t you agree? Pumpkin bread … banana bread … apple bread … and of course, zucchini bread. And because it’s “bread” it’s not dessert, right? And it’s a perfect pre or post-workout snack, right? Of course! (Disclaimer- I am NOT a certified dietitian or physician so please don’t take my medical advice)

So when I got some extra zucchini from our CSA a few weeks ago, right before we went on vacation, I put it in the blender, grated it, and froze it for later use. Later didn’t take long – one night last week I opened the freezer and the container I had frozen the zucchini in fell right out and cracked open. Which was a sign that I had to use it immediately! I called my mom and asked for her to share her favorite zucchini bread recipe. She makes it at Christmas, during other holidays and just for fun – so I of course had to ask her to share.

She texted me pictures of quite a few recipe cards – but told me that the “Betty’s” recipe was the one she uses most often. No, my mom’s name is not Betty. And no, I have no idea who Betty is. But since my mom said it was her favorite (and she had written “v. good” on the card) of course, that was the one I had to use. And I was not disappointed – the bread was delicious! Right out of the oven when it was warm, I couldn’t help but try it. And then again as a snack with peanut butter on it. Don’t judge until you try it!

easy zucchini bread {i crashed the web}

“Betty’s” Zucchini Bread – apparently from a really old (before I was born!)  Bon Appetit (according to my mom’s recipe card)

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 c flour
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c sugar
  • 3/4 c vegetable oil
  • 2 c zucchini; grated and well drained (since mine was frozen, I defrosted it in the microwave and then removed as much liquid as I could)
  • Original recipe also calls for walnuts and raisins. I’m not a fan of bread with either in them (and I didn’t have either on hand) so I didn’t use them.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift first 5 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat eggs in a large bowl until light. Gradually add sugar and beat until thick and a bright yellow color.
  4. Add oil gradually and beat well. Mix in zucchini.
  5. Add sifted dry ingredients and blend well.
  6. Add batter to a greased and floured 12-cup bundt pan or two 8×4 inch loaf pans. My mom typically makes a bundt – I used loaf pans.
  7. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool before removing from pan and slicing.
  8. Enjoy! Serve warm or cold. It tastes delicious by itself, or with peanut butter (trust me). Or with honey. Or with butter. Or with cream cheese frosting!
easy zucchini bread {i crashed the web}

YUM.

bon appetit recipe card for zucchini bread

Check out the recipe card and my mom’s notes – “1980” and “V. Good Bundt”

Some questions for you:

  • Zucchini bread – yay or nay?
  • Favorite dessert bread? This is one of my favorites. I also really liked the Bailey’s bread I made last St. Patrick’s Day!
  • What do you put on your zucchini bread or other dessert breads? As I mentioned, I tried it with peanut butter. It was delicious. I also put peanut butter on banana bread.
  • Do you keep old recipe cards? No! But I do have a big recipe binder that I take out from time to time. I also love looking through my mom’s recipe cards when I’m home.
  • Who do you call/ask for recipe suggestions (outside reading my blog of course…KIDDING)? If it isn’t obvious yet, my mom! 
  • Do you like nuts or raisins in your bread? No, no and no. I typically take raisins out of my baked goods if they’re in them. And I could do without nuts. But nut butter? YUM! 
  • Have you ever made a recipe from a recipe card that was older than you?
  • What else do you use zucchini for? Lately I have been using zucchini a lot. I searched old posts and found zucchini fries, zucchini and pasta, zucchini stuffed with quinoa and more!

Friday Five: Five Things I’m Smiling About

Phew – TGIF! This is one of those busy weeks where I really feel grateful that it’s finally Friday. Not that it’s been a bad week- quite the opposite. It’s actually been a GREAT week filled with stuff I love. Here are 5 things that were awesome this week and what kept me so busy (and smiling):

1. Learning About Some New Businesses With My DCA City Advocates: Tuesday was a great DCA City Advocates meeting! for those of you that may recall, the DCA CA program is a civic engagement group I’m involved with. It’s a program that fosters civic engagement among individuals who love living in, working in, or just visiting Cleveland. This month’s meeting we got to meet and hear from the winners of the recent 5th Street Arcades grant competition:

  • Sushi 86– This is actually my go-to downtown sushi restaurant. B and I had a stint where we were going there once a week anyway, so I’m excited that they can get some funds to increase their space and start offering sushi-making classes, meetings and so on.
  • Soulcraft Woodshop– This is a furniture gallery that will showcase and of course sell work by the woodshop’s local designers and furniture makers.
  • Bright Green– This is an organic and natural products store – they feature products for children (like organic baby blankets), candles, tea, home supplies and more. Many of their products are actually made on the west side!
  • POUR Cleveland– This hand-crafted coffee shop hasn’t opened yet, but I’m SO excited for it to arrive. They will be working with Counter Culture coffee shop, where one of my good family friends works in North Carolina. They will also have tastings and classes, plus pastries.

They each told us about their business plans, why they chose downtown Cleveland, challenges of being entrepreneurs, and so on. If you’re in Cleveland I definitely recommend checking out the 5th Street Arcade at some time and seeing all the new shops!

Informal interviews with the winners

Informal interviews with the winners

2. Half Marathon Training and Running with Friends: Okay, so I finally started training for the half marathon I’m running in October. Yes, I’ve been running like 25-30 or even more miles a week so I know I’m in fine running shape, but I haven’t been following any sort of schedule or doing any long runs so it I guess it’s time to actually get back in training mode. Training means that for the time being my weekly mileage will be cut down (the first few weeks are pretty lame in terms of mileage and I won’t be running every day) but I will be focusing on some speedwork with tempo runs, and also allowing my body to heal during rest days. Imagine that! And don’t worry, the longer runs will come soon enough so I better enjoy the lack of intense time-commitment while it lasts. AND not only did I decide to start half marathon training, but I ran with friends twice this week! That’s right, I ran with people before work on Wednesday AND Friday. This is a new thing for me – but I enjoyed it. Cari and I ran Wed. morning – she had 2 miles on her schedule, so I ran 2 without her and 2 with her. Friday, I ran with Nicole, who I met through Bridge Builders. She’s training for a marathon and I hope to keep running with her as she trains and maybe even get in some longer runs with her.

3. My PB2 Arrived! Not only did I run out of PB2 a few weeks ago, but I also ran out of regular JIF peanut butter and am down to the last spoonful of our Smucker’s Crunchy supplies. Can you imagine that? Thank goodness, Amazon came through and my supply of PB2 came earlier than I anticipated. AND I ordered even more than last time – so hopefully I’m all set for a few weeks.

<3 this stuff. Seriously addicted.

4. Patio Drinks @ Parnell’s: I love Parnell’s downtown. It’s one of those low key bars where I always feel welcome. There’s no need to dress to impress, and there’s almost always room on their patio. And it’s more than likely you’ll get a bartender with an Irish accent. #Justsaying. Anyway, this week I enjoyed patio beverages with Laura, Chris and Victoria, my old DCA City Advocate cohort. We haven’t all been together in a few months and we definitely need to start getting together more regularly – we used to see each other more than once a month! Not only was the company and beverages good, but I also got to meet a Twitter friend I’ve had for more than 5 years but never met in person. Being a social media person, I’ve gotten used to the fact that there are some people I know all about but have never met in real life, and vice versa — but meeting in real life is still super awesome!

Patio Drinks @ Parnell's Pub Downtown - Barrels as tables!

Patio Drinks @ Parnell’s Pub Downtown – Barrels as tables!

5. Volunteering @ the National Senior Games: The National Senior Games are in town! What’s this you ask? It’s like the Olympics – it’s a multi-sport event but actually boasts MORE athletes! And just like the Olympics, it’s always held in a new city – and this year it’s in Cleveland! So right now we are hosting some insane number of athletes (like nearly 11,000), all ages 50+, and their families. Pretty cool huh? Tonight I’m volunteering at the Celebration of Athletes, which happens to be hosted by Olympian Scott Hamilton! I’m so happy to be not only volunteering with a few of my fellow DCA buddies, but also to help out (even if it’s just  a tiny bit) with such a cool event that brings visitors to Cleveland.

Scott Hamilton (center) will be at the event tonight. Pretty cool huh? He was an Olympic figure skater. And clearly also in Blades of Glory.

Scott Hamilton (center) will be at the event tonight. Pretty cool huh? He was an Olympic figure skater. And clearly also in Blades of Glory.

Hope you had a fabulous Friday as well! Some questions to ponder (leave your answers in the comments if you can!):

  • Are you a fan of Olympic figure skating? Honestly, not really. I don’t NOT like it, but it’s not my favorite winter sport. I LOVE watching the luge and bobsled races. 
  • Are you on Twitter? How long have you been on there? YES! Obviously. I’ve been on apparently for more than 5 years.
  • Do you have  “Twitter friends” or friends that you haven’t met in real life?
  • What is your peanut butter supply like?
  • Do you prefer running with friends? Solo? Both! 

My mom’s homemade granola {recipe}

Remember when a few weeks ago we got some organic oats from our CSA? I’ve been debating what to make with them – cookies? Energy bites? Oatmeal? These awesome oatmeal caramel cookie bars? But when our CSA this week gave us some organic yogurt, I knew exactly what I’d be making – homemade granola.

I looooove homemade granola. My mom makes a fresh batch of it nearly every week (probably more when my brother and I were home) and this is the recipe she used when I was growing up. I will warn you – it’s addicting. My brother and I could probably eat the whole recipe in one sitting! With or without yogurt.

easy homemade granola

The Best Homemade Granola (my mom’s recipe, with a few of my own twists)

Here’s what you need: 

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats, or organic oats
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed (my mom doesn’t always add this but I did)
  • 1 cup your favorite dried fruit (you can use any combination of dried fruit – I used dried blueberries, dried cranberries and dried cherries)
  • 1 cup your favorite nut, loosely chopped (I used almonds this time – my mom has used pecans and slivered almonds as well and they are AWESOME)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 – 1 cup maple syrup (I used about 1 c. of what we had on hand which was pure maple syrup from Canada!)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl – oats, flaxseed, nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon and brown sugar.
  3. Add in vanilla and maple syrup. Mix well until everything is well combined and dry ingredients are coated.
  4. Pour out onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes, checking and stirring at about halfway through.  Your house will smell amazing. I LOVED waking up to the smell of homemade granola cooking in the oven!
  6. Let cool and enjoy!  Serve with yogurt, cottage cheese, mix with other cereals or just enjoy on its own!
best homemade granola recipe

all the ingredients before mixing

easy homemade granola

Summer Yellow Beans with Onions, Lentils and Toasted Almonds (And a mini Fresh Fork Week 7 Recap)

I’m slacking off this week. Thursday after our CSA pickup, I didn’t take a picture of everything we got. Shocker, I know … but I can assure you that nearly everything has been eaten AND enjoyed already. Here’s what we got:

  • 1 whole chicken, approx 5 lbs
  • 1 lb yellow wax beans or green beans
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 candy onion
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 quarter peck cling peaches

We haven’t used the chicken yet (I hope to make something yummy this weekend …. and don’t worry, I hope NOT to have another giblet incident again) but have already enjoyed the blueberries, peaches, swiss chard, beans and onion!

Here are some photos instead of how we’ve enjoyed the food:

Perfect snack - blueberries and peaches!

Perfect snack – blueberries and peaches!

salmon yellow beans swiss chard

Dinner! Veggies are all Fresh Fork – sauteed swiss chard, balsamic marinated salmon, and yellow beans with lentils, onions & toasted almonds (recipe below!)

And now – what we did with all the yellow string beans. Besides eat them as snacks – because I definitely did that. Yes, I brought a baggie of them into work  – they were so sweet and perfect as a crunchy snack! But then I only had 1/2 pound left for dinner (shh don’t tell B that I ate the rest) – so I had to supplement them with some other stuff, like lentil and onions – which meant they actually came out awesome! Even B really liked them – he asked me multiple times how I had made them, and not in a weird, eew how did you make this type voice, so I take that as a good thing.

Summer Yellow Beans with Onions Lentils and Toasted Almonds ~ I Crashed The Web

Summer Yellow Beans with Onions, Lentils and Toasted Almonds

Here’s what you need:

  • 12-15 almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 candy onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound yellow string beans with the ends cut off
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth if you are a vegetarian
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups lentils, already cooked (or 1 15-oz can if you don’t have any prepared)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once preheated, toast the almonds on a baking sheet for about 5-10 minutes or until they start to take on a darker color and begin to smell. Watch them  – you do NOT want them to burn!
  2. While almonds are toasting, boil some water in a large pot. Add the beans and cook for about 3-5 minutes until they’ve begun to soften slightly. Drain beans.
  3. In a large nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and diced onions and cook until onions are translucent. Add half of broth and cook until broth starts to disappear.
  4. Add beans and rest of broth and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until beans start to get tender. Add the Italian seasoning and lentils. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until entire dish is warmed through. Transfer beans to a serving bowl.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Enjoy!
Finely chop the almonds and toast for 5-10 minutes at 350.

Finely chop the almonds and toast for 5-10 minutes at 350.

First get some awesome onions from your CSA. You may have to clean them off.

Get some awesome onions from your CSA. You may have to clean them off.

Dice the onions and sautee with garlic.

Dice the onions and sautee with garlic. Add part of broth and cook until broth cooks down.

Summer Yellow Beans with Onions, Lentils and Toasted Almonds {I Crashed The Web}

Boil the trimmed beans for a few minutes.

Add green beans, rest of broth and cook for a few minutes. Then add seasoning and lentils and cook a little more.

When onions are soft, add green beans, rest of broth and cook for a few minutes. Then add seasoning and lentils and cook a little more.

Summer Yellow Beans with Onions, Lentils and Toasted Almonds {I Crashed The Web}

Put in a fun plate and top with toasted almonds.

Summer Yellow Beans with Onions, Lentils and Toasted Almonds {I Crashed The Web}

Enjoy!

For other Fresh Fork Recaps:

A Mini-Vacation: Put-In-Bay and Kelleys Island!

NOTE: I was provided free round trip ferry tickets for Put-In-Bay by Miller Ferry. I was also provided with free Perry’s Family Fun Center combo tickets. As always, all views are my own. 

This weekend, B and I got to enjoy an island vacation getaway! Take a look at some of these awesome pictures – and guess where we were:

20130721_115639 20130720_171143 20130721_085011 b and me on top of monument

A tropical island paradise? Yup – if you haven’t figured it out by the title, we made the weekend trip to a few of the islands in Lake Erie. That’s right – for my non-Ohio friends and my family who have asked – there are islands in Lake Erie. Quite a few actually,  and they are beautiful! Beaches, bars, restaurants, boats, history (they were part of the War of 1812!) and more, they made for a great mini-vacation for B and me.

This is a map of the islands. And the view of them.

This is a map of the islands. And the view of them.

We had originally planned on just spending the day on Put-In-Bay because I had gotten complimentary ferry tickets from Miller Boat Line and a family combo pack to Perry’s Cave & Family Fun Center – but when we went to the dentist on Monday, our plans changed. Our dentist is good friends with B’s parents and we spend New Years with them on occasion. He and his family also have a house on Kelleys Island and when they heard we were going to be on Put-In-Bay, they told us we were welcome to stay with them during our trip. So we changed our plans and got to enjoy BOTH islands – Put-In-Bay AND Kelleys. Here are some highlights from the trip:

Put-In-Bay

Riding Miller Ferry over to Put-In-Bay. We got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday so we'd have the whole day to enjoy our trip!

Riding Miller Ferry over to Put-In-Bay. We got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday so we’d have the whole day to enjoy our trip!

We've arrived! We walked across the island to get from Miller Ferry to downtown PIB (There's also a bus that's $2.50. We just felt like walking)

We’ve arrived! We walked across the island to get from Miller Ferry to downtown PIB (There’s also a bus that’s $2.50. We just felt like walking)

Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial

We decided to visit Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial

It's an International Peace memorial. I learned that US and Canada have had more years of peace than any other countries that share a border!

It’s an International Peace memorial. I learned that US and Canada have had more years of peace than any other countries that share a border!

And the view on top of the memorial was AMAZING.

And the view on top of the memorial was AMAZING. I definitely recommend checking out the monument, going to the top for picture and then checking out the Visitors Center to learn more.

We had someone take a pic of both of us at the top of the monument. The sky and water was so blue!

We had someone take a pic of both of us at the top of the monument. The sky and water was so blue!

We sweated a little playing mini golf at Perry's Family Fun Center

We sweated a little playing mini golf at Perry’s Family Fun Center. Each hole marker has a fact about the War of 1812 – it was pretty cool and educational!

B's a pro. He beat me by 5 strokes!

B’s a pro. He beat me by 5 strokes! He also got a hole-in-one on the first hole.

We saw some gorgeous butterflies in the steamy Butterfly House.

We saw some gorgeous butterflies in the steamy Butterfly House. They have more than 50different butterflies at a time, from Costa Rica and other exotic places.

Butterflies!

We cooled down in Perry's Cave. It's called that because Commodore Perry  found the cave and the pool inside and used it for drinking water for his seaman during the War of 1812!

We cooled down in Perry’s Cave.  The cave is 50+ feet below the ground and is pretty much always 50 degrees. It’s called that because Commodore Perry found the cave and the pool inside and used it for drinking water for his seaman.

We grabbed lunch and drinks at the Put-In-Bay brewery. I tried their Watermelon Summer Draft - it was actually pretty good! Too sweet to have more than one though.

We grabbed lunch and drinks at the Put-In-Bay brewery. I tried their Watermelon Summer Draft – it was actually pretty good! Too sweet to have more than one though. Oh and yes, those are girls in bathing suits walking across the street behind me. That’s a perfect visual explanation of Put-In-Bay 🙂

Our beers from the brewery. Kinda blurry/misty but the glasses say "Don't Give Up The Ship" which is on flags all over the island, just like the flag Commodore Perry hung on his ship!

Our beers from the brewery. Kinda blurry/misty but the glasses say “Don’t Give Up The Ship” which is on flags all over the island, just like the flag Commodore Perry hung on his ship!

Parade! Every Sunday the island has an antique car parade.

Parade! Every Sunday the island has an antique car parade.

parade

Kelleys Island

We got to Kelleys Island and of course got a couple picture. Yay us! (my dentist cook this picture)

We got to Kelleys Island and of course got a couple picture. Yay us! (my dentist took this picture)

There was also a parade on Kelleys Island - this time with CANDY - for Islandfest!

There was also a parade on Kelleys Island – this time with CANDY – for Islandfest!

After the parade, we walked to downtown and enjoyed some live music at the Casino. And this view - talk about peaceful!

After the parade, we walked to downtown and enjoyed some live music at the Casino. And this view – talk about peaceful!

B then got a quick sailing lesson! Sadly (for the boat) there wasn't too much wind.

B then got a quick sailing lesson! Sadly (for the boat) there wasn’t too much wind.

I'm happy to be on mini-vacation. And on a sailboat on Lake Erie :)

I’m happy to be on mini-vacation. And on a sailboat on Lake Erie 🙂

After sailing we went to the beach. I went swimming in the Lake for a while and caught some late-afternoon rays. Yes, I take selfies. But B goofs off in the background so technically it's not a real selfie right?

After sailing we went to the beach. I went swimming in the Lake for a while and caught some late-afternoon rays. Yes, I take selfies. But B goofs off in the background so technically it’s not a real selfie right?

The next morning B and I got up early and went for a short run around the island. We stopped to admire the glacial grooves that are on the island

The next morning B and I got up early and went for a short run around the island. We stopped to admire the glacial grooves that are on the island

Of course I made B take a picture of me during the run. It seems to me that I wear that shirt running a lot. That's me in front of one of the many the Kelleys Island quarries.

Of course I made B take a picture of me during the run. It seems to me that I wear that shirt running a lot. That’s me in front of one of the many the Kelleys Island quarries.

This is way more pictures of B and me together than we usually get on a weeklong vacation!

This is way more pictures of B and me together than we usually get on a weeklong vacation!

All in all it was a GREAT trip and a perfect relaxing weekend that I definitely needed. I can’t believe I haven’t been to these islands sooner – I’ve lived in Cleveland nearly 6 years and I’ve never made the trip! I hope we’ll be back soon. Thanks again to Miller Boat Line for the free tickets!

Some cool things I learned on the islands:

  • The Perry Monument is taller than the Statue of Liberty, but not taller than the Washington Monument.
  • Sailing is difficult. If B wants to learn, we’ll need a few more lessons.
  • I may get seasick on sail boats. Hopefully not …. but it’s not confirmed yet.
  • Vacations are better with parades. Two parades in one weekend makes for a GREAT vacation. And parades are better with candy.
  • From 9-10 a.m. Put-In-Bay is pretty quiet and peaceful. After that it got loud and much more crowded.
  • Put-in-Bay’s population is estimated at 450. The majority of island residents are in the tourism industry and 63% of them are of German descent. Put-in-Bay School’s Class of 2011 had 13 students, the largest class Put-in-BaySchool has seen since 1975. Can you imagine that?!

  • Kelleys island is about four by two miles and is the largest freshwater American island in Lake Erie.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to Put-In-Bay or Kelleys Island? If yes, what’s your favorite place on the island(s)?
  • Did you know that Lake Erie had islands you could visit?
  • Do you like beaches or do you prefer other types of vacations? I love beach vacations! Give me some sand, sun and water and I’m good to go. 
  • How big was your high school class? Mine was just about 500 students. I can’t imagine 13!
  • Have you ever been in a butterfly cave? Did you study butterflies in school? I remember a butterfly unit where we each had our own caterpillars and watched them turn into butterflies. It was pretty cool. Much cooler than the mealworm unit!
  • Do you know how to sail?

More Crock Pot Deliciousness: Slow Cooker Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Soup {recipe}

Have I told you how much I LOVE my crock pot? I know I have. I’m sure I have. Well, if I haven’t – let me tell you now: I LOVE MY CROCK POT.

lovemyvcrockpot

check out my skills. i made this.

I came across this recipe when we had a pot luck for work a few months ago. When I saw the list of stuff people had planned to bring to our crock pot luck (get it?) and saw it was buffalo chicken dip, chicken paprikash, some desserts, and so on, I knew I had to bring something healthy. So naturally I scrolled through one of my favorite blogs, Skinnytaste, and decided on this recipe. I made it and REALLY enjoyed it. I enjoyed it again and again actually – because there were tons of leftovers! Why’s that? Apparently “spicy” and “black beans” are scary at potluck. Yup, scary. A few of my coworkers shied away from it when they heard it was “spicy” (it’s not really) or it had “Black beans” in it. Which meant – more for me! (and it also meant that when half the office got sick from the potluck the next day everyone agreed it WASN’T my bean soup that got them sick … because none of the sickos tried it. It feels good to be cleared of the food poisoning charge) And more for B, who really liked it as well. So this week when I noticed my crock pot was looking kinda lonely (as tends to happen when its 80+ degrees out) I decided to make some of it again. Not only does cooking in the crock pot mean I’m not cooking on a hot day (it cooks for me while I’m at work!) but it also means that I can stay outside and enjoy the sunshine a little longer knowing that dinner is ready when I get home 🙂 Oh, and did I tell you that it’s low fat? (Yup, one large bowl that’s 1.5 c has less than 6 grams of fat and 300 something calories) crock pot chicken and black bean soup spicy Slow Cooker Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Soup (modified from Skinnytaste, very slightly. but look at her recipe because her pictures are way better!) Here’s what you need:

  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3.5 c low sodium chicken broth
  • About 20-30 oz canned tomatoes with green chilies (I found 10 oz cans and 15 oz cans and used 2  of the 10 oz this time, last time I used 2 of the 15 oz cans)
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, minced
  • 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 skinless chicken breast

Here’s what you do:

  1. Using a food processor, combine one can of beans with 1.5 cups of the chicken broth. Puree them together and add to your slow cooker.
  2. Add the other can of beans and the remaining 2 c of chicken broth to the slow cooker.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, bell pepper, jalapenos, diced green chiles, cumin, chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder and chicken breasts.
  4. Set your crock pot to High for four hours, or Low for 6-8 hours (mine took 6).
  5. Before serving, remove the chicken and shred. Place back in the slow cooker. Serve!
  6. Original recipe suggests serving with avocado, cilantro, sour cream, etc. I just had mine plain and enjoyed it tremendously! B added more hot sauce to his.
spicy black bean and chicken soup in your crock pot

Again, Skinnytaste’s pictures are much better…look at hers.