A Bloggerific Year

Year in Review | Domesticated Academic

The blog had a great year and I cannot say THANK YOU enough. With about a half a million views this year, I am grateful, humbled, and I have to say: hungry!!!! As I review the recipes from the year and am working on some new recipes for the next few weeks, my stomach is still thinking about the next meal!

I made some changes the second half of the year. I cut down on my posts the second half of the year and put more time into them. Quality over quantity. I also started being more mindful about my photos and they’re always a work in progress. I built a photo box and have been using or trying to photograph in more optimal light.

The Power Muffins were the most popular and all the posts were pinned, facebooked, tweeted, etc… with gusto. As we all usher in a new year, WHAT RECIPES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE? Maybe I’ll say “challenge accepted” this year to some of the requests as long as I can afford the ingredients!

Happy New Year!

Power muffins | Domesticated Academic

Power Muffin anyone?

Two Ingredient Lemon Bars | Domesticated Academic

Two Ingredient Lemon Bars

Nutella Cookies | Domesticated Academic

Three Ingredient Nutella Cookies

Healthy Alfredo Sauce | Domesticated Academic

Healthy Alfredo Sauce

5 Ingredient Pumpkin Bars | Domesticated Academic

5 Ingredient Pumpkin Bars

One Way I Increased My Happiness

One Way I Increased My Happiness | Domesticated Academic

Something funny happened a few weeks ago. I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family at Lake Norman in Charlotte. The first few days were beautiful, but then a nasty, rainy day showed up and we all were inside enjoying the lovely lake house. The house: pristine. Beautiful deck, ample space for four of us, full kitchen where I made Thanksgiving Dinner, docks with kayaks, etc…nothing left to be undone, even a massive 55 inch or bigger, TV and you know what we did?

We crowded around my 13 inch macbook to watch Christmas Vacation on Netflix…..I had forgot the VGA converter cable. I wish I had taken a photo. 

In my journey of self-reflection this year I had some life changes this year and one of them included:

shutting off my cable (dish network)

Why?

Not only was $60+ of my hard earned paycheck going out the door every month, but like you, I had 100 channels but nothing I WANTED to watch. I was not unhappy with my service, Dish isn’t in charge of quality programming. Their customer service had always been fair with me. I had no complaints of them as a company.

First world problems everywhere…..

I found over time though that turning on my tv meant:

  • a bad mood
  • some laughs
  • DVR dependency
  • hatred towards commercials
  • hatred towards the volume of commercials (isn’t that supposed to be illegal?)
  • mindless watching
  • time wasting

My bad mood stemmed from news, stupid shows, the ‘dumbing down’ of society.

The laughs came when I got sucked into the above comment. I also love me some Stewart & Colbert.

I hardly watched TV, I DVR’ed everything so I could skip through commercials.

Commercials. dontgetmestartedbitches…..where’s the ‘devil face’ emoji?

Mindless watching consumed me. I like the noise, but I found myself stopping what I was doing, even if it was a task like unloading the dishwasher, and two hours later, I’d awake from my TV coma to see the sun had set. Ugh!

Time wasting. TV is numbing. It’s a distraction. It was an escape. I used TV to ignore so many things.

So, I shut it down.

And started counting my money honey! 

I still have a TV. I saved the equivalent of what I wasn’t spending and bought a wireless blu-ray player to stream content. I restarted my subscription to Netflix. I have hulu (limited commercials at the SAME volume) that are tolerable. After saving another month or so, I bought one of those digital converter boxes because I like the news SOMETIMES. I will watch the Olympics A LOT.

I can get almost all of the content I watched before (and then some) online. In a decision of TV or Internet: Internet won.

What am I doing with my money?

  • Paying other bills
  • Treating myself once in a while
  • Not missing subtracting that $60+ each month from my account.
  • I’m reading more. I’m writing more. Which has nothing to do with money but it has added to the quality of my LIFE, which is priceless.

As you race through the holidays at warp speed and watch the Christmas Story marathon on TBS all day, what is ONE single way you can increase your happiness? As we unwrap a pile of consumer goods, what does that really mean to you and your family?

Do I miss TV/cable sometimes? Yes. When I travel somewhere with cable, I watch it. It’s fun, but it’s now considered a treat, just like that pint of Ben & Jerry’s in my freezer. But, there’s still not much on there I WANT to watch. I like to be entertained, but I also like being more peaceful and more money staying in my pocket.

Do I want you to cancel your cable? Nah, you do what you want, you’re an adult. But, sharing this can shed a light on forcing us to reflect.

Bacon Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

bacon cheddar mashed potatoes | Domesticated Academic

You will LOVE these because the bacon and the cheese get married to creamy mashed potatoes and then you die and go to mashed potato heaven. The end. Good story right?

These were the happiest accident that ever landed on a holiday table. In charge of Thanksgiving dinner, I had some bacon and cheese that looked lonely. So I added them to my potatoes. And my family LOVED them. What’s NOT to love? Potatoes mashed to perfection and then add piles of cheese and cooked bacon with the slightest hint of minced onion. The onion is a secret my Mema used to employ and her potatoes were always excellent.

bacon cheddar mashed potatoes | Domesticated Academic

Be as generous or as stingy with your mashing aides–milk, sour cream, butter, whatever floats your potato boat, I won’t judge. The same with the bacon and cheddar–go big or just use the “stay home” portion, it’s totally up to you.

You’ll need: (a large stomach)

Serves 6-10 with leftovers….potato patties anyone?

  • 5 lbs. potatoes, peeled, chunked & boiled until soft
  • 8 oz. cheddar of choice (grated)
  • 8 oz. bacon, cooked & chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • milk
  • butter
  • sour cream
  • salt & pepper
  • jalapeno (optional)
  1. Mash the cooked potatoes with milk, butter, sour cream, or other aides of choice.
  2. Fold in bacon and cheddar.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve hot!

Roast Rosemary Potatoes | Domesticated Academic

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes | Domesticated Academic

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

French Onion Soup With Tortellini

French Onion Soup with Tortellini | Domesticated Academic

You’ll love this spin on a classic because it’s full of flavor and packages up the cheese in perfectly sized bits of pasta! I love french onion soup. I don’t always have the kind of time a good soup needs, but every once in a while…I get a hair up my ass and think, “i’m going to do it anyway.” Sunday is a great day for me to stand there and layer all of the amazing flavors. I put something on hulu on my laptop–SNL during this prep, and go to town. People add all kinds of cheese and hunks of bread, but in my brain: tortellini. Carbs and cheese in one perfectly sized portion that cooks up in just a few minutes….No muss, no fuss here! I also like the tortellini to make the soup a ‘real meal.’ While I love this soup as is, it’s not very filling for a long afternoon of work and the pasta adds some bulk to it without ruining it. If you’re a traditionalist, leave the tortellini out….it won’t hurt my feelings.

French Onion Soup with Tortellini | Domesticated Academic

I add cheese too. And this time, I actually made homemade croutons from the heel of my weekly loaf of bread: olive and rosemary. Turns out, the last few slices make excellent croutons for soup. Cut the bread, drizzle with some olive oil and bake for 15 minutes at 350 and you’re on the your way to amazing.

ps: who the hell can ever spell Worcestershire correctly the first time? So good, so complicated to spell. I biff it every. single. time. Thank computer programmers for spell check.

You’ll need:

1 hour

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig or 1 teaspoon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 HUGE heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 quarts beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 oz. frozen or fresh tortellini

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes.
  3. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes.
  4. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs (if you used dried thyme, you’re stuck w it, you won’t be bothered by it.)
  5. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir.
  6. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
  7. Now add the beef broth, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce and bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Add the tortellini according to their cooking instructions.
  9. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve hot. You can melt cheese over bowls of it, add croutons or slices of baguette, you can pretty much go wild from here on out with your soup.
  11. Trust me on the tortellini…

crock pot chicken soup | domesticated academic

Crock Pot Chicken Soup

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup | Domesticated Academic

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup