I Cooked: Vegan Sofritas

Hats off to full-time vegans. I admire their commitment to a cruelty-free lifestyle, but selfishly, I love cheese too much to ever go down that road. And eggs. Most delicious baked things have eggs. That being said, I’ve realized actually cook and eat plenty of vegan food. Vegan food is just food without meat or other animal products in it, so of course it can be delicious and honestly, it’s often healthier than the alternative. I’ve gone over my fiance’s love for Mexican-style food before, so suffice it to say that this recipe looked like something he would like and I would like too!


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons diced mild Hatch Chiles
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (16-ounce package) organic extra-firm tofu, crumbled or cubed small
1 cup vegetable broth


Heat a large skillet over medium heat and warm the oil. Sauté the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chiles and taco seasoning, and continue cooking and stirring until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste; cook another minute. Add the crumbled tofu and beer or broth, turn up heat to medium-high and cook until the liquid has reduced, about 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve with tortillas and enjoy!


This might actually be my favorite Mexican-style recipe I’ve made! It was well-seasoned without being hot spicy, very protein-y with the tofu (which tofu-suspicious Drew actually didn’t hate here), and was actually pretty damn easy to make to boot! I used twice as much of the mild chiles because I prefered not to use the chipotle chiles, and I think it turned out just fine so feel free to make that sub if you feel the same way/live in an area where that’s harder to find. I also used taco seasoning rather than handmaking Mexican seasoning like the recipe called for because I am cheap and lazy and it was still delicious. Minimal prep, very tasty, perfect basic meal to put into rotation!

I Ate: Centro

Remember how I posted about the Greek/Asian fusion place that closed down? The Midtown-area space was too enticing to sit vacant for long, and Centro is the new tenant there. It’s walking distance from us, so we decided to stop in and try it out for lunch one day.


They completely renovated the space…it’s much more luxe, with some exposed piping giving it an almost upscale steampunk kind of vibe. Centro is a tapas/small plates type deal, so you order a few small dishes to share. Tapas is hardly a new dining concept, but it’s definitely unique for the area, which features more of a salad and sandwiches (nice ones, but still) kind of vibe for lunch options. Good service, unique dishes, neat space.


Centro is located at 234 California Ave, in Reno, NV. This is on the north end of the Midtown area. Parking, like the rest of this area, is street only, but not too hard to find. Lunch is very reasonably priced, with dinner a little more expensive but still doable. Recommended for outside-the-box eats in Midtown!

30 In My 30s: Part One

Not really a point to this, just a picture I liked that I haven’t gotten a chance to share yet

I just finished up a year-long series on 20 lessons I learned in my 20s. I really enjoyed writing it, and so I’ve decided that as I move into my 30s, I’d let to set up a list of 30 things I’d like to have happen in the next decade. Some of them are travel-based, some of them are professional goals, and some of them are personal goals I’d like to achieve. Since 30 is a lot of things, I decided to split this list up into two posts of 15. There’s no real order here, nor are these split up in any sort of particular way. I don’t know if these will all happen, and even if they don’t, I’ll be fine, but all of one month into 30, here’s what I’d like to see happen in the next ten years or so:

  1. Get A Dog: I want a pug. I’ve wanted a pug for years. Drew knows this. We’re planning on getting one in the next few months, which I am really excited about!
  2. Get Married: Assuming everything goes according to plan, I should have this one checked off in the next 7 months! I know marriage is in many ways just a piece of paper (that grants important legal privileges, but still), but it’s still something that’s always been important to me and that I’ve wanted. And Drew is just about the best guy I can think of to spend the rest of my life with.
  3. Merge Finances: This goes along with the above, but when you hear over and over again that the biggest issue for married couples, that most often drives them apart, is money…it makes you nervous about how to pull this off. Right now, the plan is that once we get married, we’ll have our separate paychecks go into our individual bank accounts, subtract our individual “necessaries” (car payments, car insurance, student loans, etc), then put a particular percentage of the remainder into the common account for common expenses: groceries, home, any sort of joint travel. The rest will remain in the individual account for “fun money”: shopping, individual nights out, whatever we want. That way we both contribute in equal proportion to our common expenses while retaining our own money that we get to use however we want without having the other person questioning it. It looks great on paper, let’s see how it works in practice.
  4. Make Significant Progress Towards Paying Down My Student Loans: This is a huge one for me. I’ve got a lot of debt from law school. I pay almost $900/month towards my student loans. About 60% of my loans are federal, and I’m in an income-based repayment program for these ones. But I’ve got two private loans that just eat up my extra cash. Which even if it doesn’t go into my spending basket, could still serve much better purposes, like…
  5. Save Money For Retirement: Embarrassing confession time- I haven’t done this yet. Like, at all. See above re student loans…I simply don’t have the money.
  6. Buy A House: I thought it was silly, in the context of my 20s, to think about buying a house. Even if I could have afforded one, I think of the 20s as having so much change that buying a house, like some of my law school friends did within a year or two of graduation, seems unnecessarily rooting. But now that my life is so much more settled, I find myself really wanting to put down those roots, to have a space that’s our own, that we can do whatever we want with because there won’t be landlords coming by to charge us at the end of the lease for each nail hole we’ve left in the wall.
  7. Make My House A Home: I’ve not been awesome, historically, at decorating. Partly because I think: “Ugh, if I put that up it’s just going to have to come down again eventually”. But I really want to have a house that’s homey. I want to arrange everything just so, and then watch that fall apart because life happens and of course it does. And then get inspired every few years to make a change and make it.
  8. Have Kid(s): I want to be a mom. Not right this second or anything, but sooner rather than later. And Drew is on the same page…it just remains to see whether we’ll stop at one (like he’d prefer) or go for two (like I want). But having kids is something I’m sure I want.
  9. Raise Good Kids: This is the rub…we can have kids, but raising them right is the hard work part. What does it mean to raise them right, anyways? Is it most important that they be accomplished? Or kind? Or happy? How do you instill the values that are important to you while shielding them from the worst of what society has to offer? I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll find out.
  10. See My Parents Every Other Christmas: Living 2000 miles away from my family can be tough. You miss them, you know? I started out with really good intentions of every other Christmas back in the mitten. Which is not happening like it should this year because of all the traveling. And I want to correct course, and make sure I do get back there, because my parents are only going to be around for so long and I love them and miss them and want to spend time with them.
  11. Have A Weekend With Kailey And Crystal Every Year: We’ve all been friends for years and years, and even though they live about 10 minutes drive away from each other, I’m on the ass-opposite end of the country. When they came out to visit last year, we decided we wanted to make it a priority to get together every year for a girl’s weekend. Drop kids with their dads, and just hang out. Last year was Tahoe, and last week was Denver (post upcoming) and I can’t wait to see where we explore next, but I have no doubt we’ll have fun wherever we are.
  12. See My Sister At Least Once Per Year: I’ve only got the one sibling, and I love her, and it’s hard to not have her here when I’m planning a wedding and just generally living my life. She’s one of my closest friends and whenever we get the chance to just hang out and watch movies and talk and tell each other stories I have a lot of fun. But she’s a nurse, which means she has a really hard time getting away from work, so I want to make it a priority to figure out a way to make it so I don’t spend more than 12 months without getting to see her in person.
  13. Get Better At My Job: I don’t mean to say I think I’m bad at my job. But I’m new-ish to the profession (my boss says you don’t even start to really get it until your third session and it’s almost impossible to be good before your fifth…I won’t have my third session until 2017) and I want to be good at it, because I really like it. And if I want to stay in it for a long time, which I want to do, I need to be the best I can be at it.
  14. Be Happy In My Job: This isn’t hard now, I love my job and will chatter away to just about anyone about that very thing. But I know that won’t always be the case. People can change, circumstances can change. Once I’ve got kids and the fuller schedule that brings, how I feel could change. What my job is now is not what it always will be. And even if the job I have now isn’t the one I always have in my field, I want to find something where the good outweighs the bad and I’m, if not excited, at least not dreading going to work in the morning.
  15. Get Involved In The Community: Reno is my home now. And despite what you might think of when you think of Reno, it’s a really interesting, exciting little city. Filled with great people and ideas. I want to give back, and finding a group/cause to get involved with and maybe a board to be a part of is a priority for me.

I Cooked: Spinach and Feta Casserole with Quinoa and Parmesan

The seasons here in Reno, though we do get all four of them, are different than the ones in Michigan. I’m grateful that winter is a less cloudy experience, but sometimes we get frustrating things like how summer wouldn’t end, fall (my favorite season) lasting for all of about two weeks, and then straight on into winter…we’ve already had two snow events, with one including a significant power loss! It’s kind of making halfhearted stabs back at fall out there, but the point of all this ramble is that it’s definitely casserole season. And when I found this recipe, I thought it looked warm and tasty and perfect for this time of year.

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3 cups cooked quinoa
16 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup finely sliced green onions
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/4 cup + 1/8 cup finely grated Parmesan

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Cook enough quinoa according to package directions to make 3 cups cooked. Let quinoa cool slightly while you prepare other ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350F. Put thawed spinach into a colander, then use your hands to squeeze out as much of the water as you can.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and then mix in the milk, sliced green onions, dried thyme, and salt. When ingredients are combined, mix in the drained spinach. Then mix in the crumbled Feta and 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, followed by the quinoa. Use a fork to mix until the ingredients are well-distributed into the quinoa.

Put the mixture into a 2.5 or 3 quart casserole dish that you’ve sprayed with oil. Cover the dish and bake about 35 minutes, or until the quinoa mixture is heated through and feta is starting to melt. Uncover and sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, then bake 10-15 minutes more. Serve and enjoy!

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So I made one major modification to this recipe and used quinoa instead of rice for extra protein punch, which actually might not have been the best call? The grains of quinoa are so much smaller that the spinach (as much as I really do like spinach) was kind of overwhelming. The whole thing tasted very green, if you know what I mean. So I’d either use the originally called-for brown rice and/or add more cheese if I make this again and would recommend you do the same! That being said, it was good in a staple kind of way and you end up with lots of food, so I can see this becoming something we’d do when we have kids to feed!

I Ate: Mi Casa Too

While I’m all about me some Middle Eastern or Italian food, Drew’s favorite kind of food is Mexican. Which, as I’ve mentioned before, doesn’t tend to be my favorite. But love is compromise, and I’m getting more used to Mexican food the longer I’ve been out here, and Mi Casa Too has always been a place Drew’s liked, so we went for a date night!

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The food itself, honestly, is mostly so-so…standard issue Mexican fare, but neither especially poorly nor especially well executed. Just kind of there. Which sounds harsh, but I’m just trying to say this is not a place to go for amazing food. It’s like Olive Garden. No one (I hope) goes there because they’re looking for incredibly good food. Well, the salad and the breadsticks are pretty awesome. I digress. Mi Casa too is a place to go for amazing margaritas. Seriously, they’re really good here. My cheese enchilada? Nothing to write home about, either in praise or complaint. Service has been great every time we’ve been here. Decor is pretty standard “Mexican restaurant”.

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Mi Casa Too is located at 2205 W 4th St, Reno, NV, which is in the Northwest Reno area. There’s a parking lot (sometimes gets a little full on really busy nights). Good for a date night, or when you’re just craving decent Mexican at reasonable prices. Definitely try their margs!

D+G: 7 Months To Go


And another month ticks off the calendar…this last one felt like it went really fast, but that’s probably because it’s only been a few weeks since my last update, even though it’s now almost exactly 7 months to the wedding! I have to say, I’m glad that I had a little advance notice that we’d be getting married next summer before we got officially engaged…I got to get a head start on a lot of things I needed to get done! I feel like I’d be really overwhelmed right now otherwise.


  • Dress tried on: It’s perfect and amazing and exactly what I wanted. It does need to be shortened because even with my wedding heels I’m 5’5″ and I should be like 5’8″ for the dress.
  • Guest list mostly finalized: There’s two tiers of guests…those that we expect that there’s a better than maybe chance that they’ll come, and those that we feel like we should send courtesy invites to, but will almost certainly not actually attend. So while the list is technically bigger than I prefer, the actual attendee count should stay inside the lines.
  • Save The Dates are in hand!: We got back our wedding photos right at the end of October, and that picture above is actually the one we used for the Save The Dates that we ordered! The hard work is going to be the final narrowing of the list.
  • Registries: We’ve got one set up at Amazon for the crowd that’s hip to the online ordering way of things, and Target for those that would really rather shop in a store. Honestly, with how many people we’re inviting that are going to have to make significant expenditures just to be there with us (tickets to Reno aren’t cheap, and then two night’s hotel, and maybe a new outfit for the festivities…), we’re not expecting to be showered in gifts. Which is fine! We’re in this to get married and celebrate, not to get presents.


  • Send Save The Dates/for real finalize guest list: I wanted a small wedding (50 people). Drew wanted a larger one (probably around 100). We compromised at about 75, and our current list is a little bigger than that, so making the last few cuts is not going to be fun.
  • Finalize venue: We went back and forth on this for a while. Here’s the deal: I lobbied hard for a hotel wedding from the beginning. Since we want to have a fun party, we want people to be able to drink as much as they want and not have to worry about how to get back to where they’re staying (with as many out-of-state guests as we’re having, that would be doubly as hard for them). So why not just give them (and us) the least stressful experience possible? Why not just do the whole thing at a hotel? Drew wasn’t as sold on this as I was at first, so while we talked to our first choice hotel venue (doesn’t have space on our date, but supposed to have a new space done by our date), we went and looked at several other places to see what was what. The more we looked at, the more convinced Drew became that no, a hotel was the best choice after all. So we’re still in touch with first choice vendor, and we’re looking at backup vendors in the event that we need them. Luckily, Reno is a city with a lot of hotel ballrooms! This actually takes a ton off our to-do list, since most vendors (cake, catering, etc) will come in-house.
  • Decide on hair/makeup: I’m still torn about whether or not to do a veil, and to a large extent it’s going to depend on what a hairstylist and I can come up with for an updo that will accommodate one in my baby-fine hair. Watching my carefully-shellacked style fall down/apart is the story of my life, so I’d rather skip a headpiece if it means my hair will be easier to deal with.
  • More honeymoon contemplation: We’re still not sure what our plan is and I’d like to get it locked down soon. I want to start planning things to do and see (and eat!) wherever we happen to land!
  • Invites: These are actually all designed, just need to get the venue finalized and we can get them printing!
  • Find an officiant: I’m planning to ask a judge whose campaign I worked on during the last cycle to do it because she’s awesome, but I need to schedule an appointment to actually do that.
  • Get dress shortened: Just need to find a bridal tailor/seamstress. It can’t possibly take tooooo long just to take a couple inches up, so I’ve got time (but I’d like to get going on it).

I Baked: Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies

Our friends Hector and Nicole have, for the past two years, hosted a Halloween murder mystery party. Last year it was the Roaring 20s, this year it was 80s prom! They’re a lot of fun, it’s a good group of people, and last time I saw Nicole she mentioned that they have more than enough booze but would love it if people brought snacks. I found this recipe and knew it would be perfect because the Reese’s Pieces are seasonably colored, and Drew loves peanut butter more than life itself and/or me.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 and ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
⅔ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup chocolate chips
Reese’s Pieces (mini or regular, ether is fine), 1-2 bags


In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add vanilla, and beat to combine.

Slowly add dry ingredients, and beat just until combined.

Stir in oats and chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes, while preheating oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Pour Reese’s Pieces onto a plate or into a flat bowl.

Roll dough into cookie-sized balls. Place cookie dough into the plate/bowl of candies. Gently use your hand to press the dough down into the cookies and flatten the dough into a disc, then transfer to cookie sheet.

Bake, nine at a time, for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to darken (don’t leave them in too long, after the edges are browning, or they’ll burn on the bottom).

Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes.

Transfer to plate/wire racks for cooling. Then eat and enjoy!


Here’s the thing: I don’t myself have any special love for peanut butter (I like it, but I’ve gone months without eating it). So while I tried a few bites here and there of these cookies and I liked them, they weren’t really for me. They were for Drew. Who ate about half of the total. I didn’t make them as enormous as the recipe calls for (I did 9 per cookie sheet) and got six batches out of them. Which is a lot of cookies! So I’m guessing they were good and you should make them for the peanut-butter lover in your life!

I Ate: Garibaldi’s

During the session, the question “where are we eating lunch?” was a pretty constant refrain. A hangry lobbyist isn’t a very effective lobbyist, after all. There are a handful of places within walking distance of “the building”, as we refer to the Legislature, and one of them is Garibaldi’s.


If you’re looking for culinary ingenuity, this might not be the place for you. Garabaldi’s does pretty standard classic Italian fare, but it’s tasty and the portions are large. My love for carbs is real, so it suits me just fine. The garlic bread, in particular, is very good. Service is good, attentive but not hover-y. The ambiance of the restaurant is neither good nor bad…it’s a bit on the dim side inside, but not too dark to see or anything, and the booths are tables are all cozy enough. It’s a normal, homey Italian restaurant in a small city with good food. Sometimes that’s all you’re looking for!


Garibaldi’s is located at 307 N Carson St in Carson City, NV. I have no idea what it’s like during the rest of the time, but during session it can get a little busy during dinner (lunch usually isn’t a problem). Prices are super reasonable, though, and the food’s good. Parking is street only, but readily available. Definitely a solid choice when you find yourself in Carson City!

Birchbox: October 2015

Honestly? This might be my favorite Birchbox ever (and I’ve been getting them for three and a half years now). I chose the Power Pose curated box from Estee Lauder and I really love curated boxes, guys. Only dud was the primer (which I’ve sampled before and never use because I don’t wear makeup very often), and the rest were products I was actually interested in, with a nice mix of things that I could/will buy for myself and some things that are out of my price range, but fun to try out.


Darphin Stimulskin Plus Multi-Corrective Divine Cream (Dry Skin): Let’s start with “out of my price range” for $300, Alex, because holy crap this stuff costs like $300! What makes that sting a little less is that it’s not doing super much for me…I was almost scared that this was going to make my skin look like smooth velvety magic and I was going to feel like I had to have it even though it’s $300. But while it’s certainly a rich moisturizer, my skin looks the same as it does with my $40 moisturizer. Still, there’s a little thrill in getting to try something so exorbitant.

Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Foundation Primer: I’ve sampled this before, and like I said above, I don’t use primer. Pitched it.

Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief: THIS. This is the kind of thing I have Birchbox for. It’s something I wouldn’t have tried on my own, is in my price range, and it’s a great product. I’ve decided since I turned 30 that it’s time to take those first tentative stabs of taking care of my skin that I’ve been making for a few years and double down on them, so I’ve been thinking it would be nice to have a night moisturizer…Nevada’s dryness is aging my skin, but my skin is also oily and prone to clogged pores. This is light enough that my skin can still breathe while still doing it’s job. It’ll be a purchase.

Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm: Speaking of Nevada’s dryness, there’s nothing but straight-up normal Chapstick-type lip balm (or something more intense) that does anything to keep my lips from peeling off my face (when we were overseas, I applied lip balm all of twice and had no chapping at all…I miss humidity sometimes). I loved this for the color (I got the Mega Melon, which I was worried would be too orangey but was actually very subtle) and quality, and will probably buy more, but it’s not lip balm for the high desert.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Synchronized Recovery Complex II: This is also the kind of sample I love to have, for a different reason. Because it’s not cheap (although I’m sure that a bottle would last forever), but seems intriguing enough to want to try. I do have dark eye circles and sometimes puffiness, so I’m interested in eye creams. This was good, but not amazing. I noticed a little improvement to my dark circles, but not a ton. So, it’s not worth $65 to me. But now I know!

I Cooked: Thai Chili Tofu with Spinach & Quinoa

Drew’s love for tofu is…not. He has no love for tofu, which means I’ll make it if I’m super into trying a new recipe, but otherwise tend to avoid it. Sometimes, I try to find tofu that it looks like he would like, and this recipe looked like it would work out great for both of us: tofu for me, interesting flavor for him!


2/3 c quinoa, uncooked
1 1/3 c water
1 lb extra firm tofu
4 c spinach, roughly chopped
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/4 tsp garlic powder (divided)
3/4 tsp Asian seasoning (divided)
3 T soy sauce
2 T lime/lemon juice
1 Tbs olive oil


Add the quinoa and water to saucepan. Heat to boiling, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer. (The quinoa will likely finish before the tofu and kale is done. Feel free to start the quinoa closer to the serving time if you’d like. If your quinoa finishes early, no worries. Just turn the burner off, but leave it covered, in the pan and it will stay nice and warm.)

In a small prep bowl mix the sugar, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp Asian seasoning, soy sauce, and lime/lemon juice.

Cut the tofu into bite sized pieces, and lay it in a single layer in a non-stick skillet.

Turn the burner to medium high. As the tofu cooks, press it gently with a spatula, periodically. This releases some of the water in the tofu. Check the bottom side of the tofu, and when it is browned a bit flip all of the pieces. Repeat the same gentle pressing on this side, cooking until the bottoms have also browned. This whole procedure takes about 15 minutes give or take a few minutes.

When both sides of the tofu have cooked, add the sauce into the pan and stir to coat the tofu with the sauce. Keep cooking, stirring, until the sauce has thicken and formed a glaze on the tofu, about 5 minutes.Remove the tofu from the pan.

Add the oil to the same skillet, followed by the spinach. Toss the spinach with the oil, and cook, stirring constantly until the spinach has wilted. Stir in the remaining 1/4 tsp of Asian seasoning and 1/4 tsp of garlic powder.

To serve, spread quinoa on each plate, and top with some of the spinach and tofu.


I subbed in spinach for kale, like I usually do because I don’t like kale’s texture, but if you’re into kale I think it would honestly probably work better here than spinach did. And at the end of the day, to be honest, it was a mixed bag. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t good, it was! It was very good! But Drew was only so-so on the tofu, and while I enjoyed what I ate (I had two servings, so clearly I liked it), it felt like a lot of work and moving parts for something that was just dinner for the two of us. This would be the kind of meal I might have pulled out if we were having some company and I wanted them to get an interesting, fully-plated vegetarian meal. So what I’m saying is I’ll hold this one in my back pocket if I need to impress anyone, but it’s not going to become regular weeknight type of food. If the idea of multiple things going on at once is less intimidating to you than it is to me, or if you want to make someone think you’re an amazing cook, this is definitely a recipe you should try!