What’s Cooking Wednesday: Fajitas

I identify as a bit of foodie. To indulge that passion, I’m going to share some of my culinary attempts here on my blog. Since I’m a vegetarian, you won’t find any meat, poultry, seafood or gelatin in any of my meals, but don’t let that stop you from giving them a try (you can always add animal protein if you absolutely can’t live without it).

So without further introduction…  Here’s installment 1 of What’s Cooking Wednesday:


Derek and I make fajitas often, probably once or twice a month. They’re delicious, easy and filling. We use a meat alternative instead of chicken. In Washington it was usually a soy product from Morningstar Farms. Tonight we tried a mycoprotein (comes from fungi) made by Quorn. Both good- I actually couldn’t taste a difference.

Start by warming some oil in a pan and then tossing in some fake chicken. I think it tastes better if you add some fajita seasoning (we buy a little packet and use it for two or three meals). But we forgot to pick some up so we improvised with chipotle tabasco, water and a little salsa.

Slice a couple peppers- green, red, orange, yellow, what you feel like- and add them to the pan after a few minutes.

(For a two person serving I recommend one and a half peppers and half the bag of chicken substitute)

Cook til everything is warm and the peppers are soft.

Layer on a tortilla with sour cream, cheese and salsa if you like.

Eat and be amazed at how quickly you made this tasty dish.

Fajita Night can be made even more enjoyable if a delicious dessert follows the meal:


Weekend in Review

I live on the East Coast now! It’s crazy- definitely hasn’t sunk in yet. I feel like I’m on vacation. And I guess I kind of am for the next two weeks: this week- exploring New Hampshire and helping D settle into his apartment; next week- chasing gas balloons from Albuquerque with Katie & Adam. But first, let me fill you in on the last day of the trip and the weekend.

On Friday Grandpa and I left the hotel by 7:30 and drove the remaining 290 miles from New Columbia, PA to South Windsor, CT. A little bit of traffic and some construction work slowed us down a little, but we arrived at G’pa’s home by noon. We were met by my lovely Grandma and their two pups, Sammy and Sadie. They are golden-doodles. And even though they are still puppies, I was wrong in thinking they would be little. They’re so tall! (I didn’t get a picture, sorry, but I will next time I see them). G’ma had an appointment at the hair salon, so she had to run. I napped on the couch for a bit while G’pa unpacked. After Grandma returned home, she showed me her latest sewing projects and newest fabrics (she pretty much has a fabric store downstairs).


my newhome- so cute!


Uncle B was in the area so he came over and I followed him 39 miles to my new home in Woodstock, CT. That puts the total mileage for the trip to 3210 (!!). And it definitely felt that long, too. But all in all, it was a nice trip. I can’t remember a time, ever, when my Gramps and I had the opportunity to spend that much time together. And aside from the incorrect GPS mileage, there really weren’t any problems.

Derek drove to my Aunt and Uncle’s house Friday night- got in around 6:30- and the four of us joined Uncle B’s daughter for Mexican food down the street. It was a nice meal and it was SO good to see Derek, I missed him a little. 🙂

Saturday, my Aunt and Uncle went to the UConn football game. D and I watched their babies (see photos below), did some laundry, napped and ran some errands. It was a gorgeous day, in the high 80s and just windy enough to make the autumn-colored leaves dance on the country roads. I was all smiles.







And then Sunday was my Grandma’s 70th birthday. Aunty Sharon planned a surprise brunch for her, so family and friends gathered to celebrate at one of her favorite restaurants. The surprise aspect worked until my Grandpa couldn’t find our table at the restaurant and we ended up having to shout “Happy Birthday!” to get their attention and keep them from wandering aimlessly. The food was good and the company was great. There was plenty of laughing and story-telling.

After brunch, we went home. I finished unpacking my clothes, only to immediately re-pack for the next two weeks. Since the weather was warm my first two days, but rain and cooler temperatures are expected and I don’t know where the balloon chase will take me, I had a tough time choosing what clothes to bring. I packed at least half my closet- I’ll have to leave a lot of in Hew Hampshire with Derek while I’m gone but at least I should be able to find something for any forecast. 🙂

We got to his apartment yesterday evening, after picking up some groceries to make dinner. He had a lot of reading to do for class today, so I watched a movie by myself and we both ended up falling asleep before 11. His apartment is almost perfect- the kitchen and bathroom are a little small, but his living room and bedroom are quite large. It needs some decorations (that’s where I come in) but he did a great job picking it out. And the neighborhood is cute; it reminds me of where I lived in Eugene.

He has a long day on campus today, so I did a little walking around this morning. And I’m currently sitting at a nearby coffee shop because he doesn’t have internet yet. It’s drizzly outside, though, so I won’t do as much exploring as I planned. Tonight or tomorrow, we’re going shopping for apartment stuff and costumes for a Wild West themed murder mystery party we were invited to this weekend. Wednesday he has a short school day, so I’m gonna go with him to campus to check it out. Thursday and Friday, we’ll explore and cook and watch movies and just enjoy each other. I think it’s going to be a great week.

And then a week from today I’m headed to New Mexico for a Balloon Adventure- more on that next time.

Missing you all but loving my new life so far,


Day Five: 532 miles driven

I am so over my little, packed-to-the-brim Kia Spectra and the seemingly endless amounts of highway between me and my new home. One more (shortest of all) day and then I’m there. I can’t wait! If I was with anyone other than my Grandpa, I would suggest we forget about the hotel for the night and just keep going.

We drove 532 miles today and tomorrow is a planned 290. Tonight we’re staying in New Columbia, PA which is apparently close to Bucknell, one of the schools my uncle attended.

It’s been warm all day and my Grandma says it’s supposed to be in 90s in Connecticut tomorrow. The drive through Pennsylvania has been quite pretty- rolling hills sprouting trees of all shapes, changing leaves mix shades of yellow and orange with green. You’d love it Rebecca.

That’s all I have for you tonight. I hope you’re all doing well back home. I miss you all!

Looking forward to telling you all about my new home this weekend,


Day Four: 384 miles closer

We cut the number of miles traveled almost in half today. Even still, I felt tired all day. I guess the constant driving and lack of sleep is catching up to me. I sleep for at least 9 hours last night and found myself napping often in the car. And then when we got to the hotel, I took another hour long nap. I’m hoping I feel more like myself tomorrow.

Since we had a short day, we slept in a bit today and left the hotel just before 9am. A quick stop at Starbucks (for a pumpkin spice latte) and we were on the road. After about 200 miles of driving, we stopped at Culver’s. Derek recommended it since they serve frozen custard (and everyone that knows me, knows I love ice cream). It was pretty  much like Dairy Queen, in terms of food, but the custard was delish.

At the 314 mile-mark we made it to Indiana. About 30 minutes into the state, the time zone changed to Eastern time. So, West Coast friends, I am now 3 hours ahead of you. Please keep this in mind when drunk dialing.

The speed limit has dropped and the highway patrol presence has increased now that we’re out of cowboy country. We were averaging around 85 mph the first three days, but today was closer to 70. Which means it’s taking longer to get where we’re going, but we’re getting better mileage- so that’s a plus.

We’re in South Bend, IN tonight. I’m not real impressed with the town, and my grandpa is definitely not impressed with the hotel. But it’s no matter, really, because we’ll be leaving pretty early in the morning. Tomorrow we headed to New Columbia, PA and then Friday we’ll finally get to Connecticut. Yay! I can’t wait to unpack and get settled.

Sweet dreams jelly beans.

Day Three: another 648 miles


Wisconsin sunset

I write from four miles inside the Wisconsin line. We drove almost the same mileage as yesterday, but it felt like a much easier day. I guess that’s probably because Grandpa did most of the driving today. Unfortunately, I’ve been having a really difficult time sleeping the last few nights. Gpa pulled more than his weight today and let me sleep in the car. Tonight I’m taking a sleeping pill.


A brief recap of the day:

We forgot to set an alarm last night, so it worked out well that Grandma called at 7am and woke us up. We had a quick breakfast and hit the road at 8:03. I felt like a Starbucks, but the closest one was 150 miles away. I’m hoping I can get one tomorrow morning.

The sky was beautiful, blue with white, puffy clouds. No rain and the temperature stayed in the low 70s all day. At 9:23 we switched over to central time zone. Several hours later we crossed into Minnesota. Just before 7pm, we made it to Wisconsin.

The route today was I-90 the whole way. We saw a lot of cows, sunflowers and even more corn. I’ve been wondering as we pass fields of animals without a house in site, who do they belong to?

Tomorrow, and the rest of the week really, we’ll have shorter days. Tomorrow night we’re staying in South Bend, Indiana-only about 375 miles. If anyone has visited this part of the country, we’re taking recommendations of how to spend our extra hours.

I’ll end with Herb photos, because you know you love him. Goodnight all.

Day Two: 645 more miles

I’m extra tired tonight, so I’m going to let Herbert show you how today went down:


We drove forever in Montana



Finally a new state!



A couple hundred miles later, we were in SD



We checked out Mt. Rushmore



About a half hour later, we made it to Rapid City where we're sleeping tonight


Ahh… it’s been a long day. I’m definitely going to the hot tub tonight.

Goodnight my dears. I’ll write tomorrow from Wisconsin.

Change of Plans

My grandpa used his GPS to determine the distance between each of our hotels. Yeah, not so reliable this time. Here’s the itinerary he booked:

Rainier, WA- Billings, MT = 800ish miles
Billings, MT- Rapid City, SD = 350ish miles
Rapid City, SD- La Crosse, WI = 640ish miles
La Crosse, WI- New Columbia, PA = 900ish miles
New Columbia, Pa- South Windsor, CT = 300ish miles

After giving up on Billings last night, we knew that 900(!!) miles was too much for one day. So we added another stop to break it up. From here on:

Today: Butte, MT- Rapid City, SD= 550ish miles
Tuesday: Rapid City, SD- La Crosse, WI = 640ish miles (still the same)
Wednesday: La Crosse, WI- South Bend, IN= 375ish miles
Thursday: South Bend, IN- New Columbia, PA= 530ish miles
Friday: New Columbia, PA- South Windsor, CT= 300ish miles

So now we’re get home on Friday afternoon instead of Thursday but the drive should be more manageable. I think it’s more fun this way anyways, adjusting to what we accomplish every day.

On the agenda today- 540 miles (approximately 9 hours of driving), and if there’s time: Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Deadwood

Stay tuned…

Day One: 672 miles traveled

So, as it turns out my grandpa’s calculation was off. By about 200 miles. Billings, MT is over 800 miles away from my mom’s house not 600 like I wrote earlier this morning. After 13 hours in the car, we decided to change our reservations and stay in Butte tonight. It means we’ll have to cut our tourism time short tomorrow, but I’m totally fine with that. Here’s a brief recap of today:

7:56am- stopped in Issaquah for breakfast. Grandpa and I both agreed that my oatmeal was better than his pancakes.

10:34am- after I drove about 200 miles, we traded. I don’t know where we were at this point, because most of Eastern Washington looks the same, but we did see a lot of neat windmills.

11:16am- first stop for gas. Nothing interesting to say about that.

12:48pm- around mile 348, we decided to find some lunch. Grandpa felt like a salad from Red Robin, so we looked it up in the GPS and found one in downtown Spokane. When we neared the restaurant, we found that there were no parking spots available, being that it was downtown and required parallel parking. Since it was pouring buckets, we gave up and continued our search for the Dirty Bird farther east. Fortunately we found one less than 10 miles away in Spokane Valley. Food was satisfactory and there was parking aplenty.

Sometime around 2:30pm we passed into Idaho.


Herbie leads the way across the Idaho border


And then about an hour later we crossed into Montana.


We missed the sign, but this is Montana


5:48pm- more gas at mile 545. We lost an hour to Mountain Time, which just made the day feel even longer.

7:30pm- Grandpa decides Billings is too far for tonight (I agree even though he didn’t ask my opinion) and changes our hotel reservation. This is the sunset I was able to photograph from the side of the road while he was on the phone:

7:48pm- we rolled into Pizza Hut for the last meal of the day. Bud Light and cheese pizza hit the spot.

Our hotel was just a block away, which is where I now sit. I’m thinking about sitting in the hot tub for a few before bed. Or maybe just lay down and fall right to sleep. Either way, I’m going to check Gpa’s mileage estimates for the rest of our stops so that we don’t make another 200 mile mistake.

Goodnight my friends, I’ll check in tomorrow.

And We’re Off…

I woke up at 5:35 am this morning. It’s now 6:06 and we’re pretty much set to go. The car is packed, the coffee is brewed and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

We’re stopping in a few hours for breakfast and then a few later for lunch. Final destination for tonight is Billings, MT, approximately 600 miles from my mom’s house in Rainier.

I think I’ll take the first leg of the drive, otherwise I’ll fall asleep and forget to wish my beautiful city of Seattle farewell. After that, it’s all flat, boring so I’ll let gramps drive as often as he’ll like. He learned to drive in the thick of East Coast cities; he drives tough and fast- wish me luck.

Crossing my fingers for a Jimmy John’s lunch.

Meet Herbert

As I prepare to leave on a 3,000 mile journey, I thought it appropriate to introduce you to my travel buddy, Herbert. Derek gave me Herbie last June when I was driving between Tacoma, Eugene and Bellingham frequently and the little monkey friend has lived in my car ever since.

Herbie escorted Derek to New Hampshire a month ago, and after a trip through the mail, he is back in my safe-keeping for my cross-country drive. So he’s pretty much a pro at road trips. Expect to see photos of Herbie at our various stops along the way.

The adventure begins tomorrow at the 6am hour. I’ll do my best to write every night so ya’ll know what’s up.

Stay tuned…

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