Keeping Busy

Hey y’all! Happy Memorial Day weekend!

With all this time spent at home, we know y’all have been picking up or revitalizing old hobbies to keep yourself occupied after the work day.

We thought we’d share some popular hobbies in our own office to show off some office talent. Maybe this will inspire you to try new things or motivate you to do that thing you keep putting off! 

Quilting 

During quarantine I have had more free time for art and sewing, and one project I have been working on during this time is a block printed quilt. I have… fabric that I printed on and [photos of] the current state of the quilt after adding batting, a base layer, and doing some quilting. All of these photos are process photos, (it isn’t finished yet!) but I am hoping to finish it soon.

– Rachel Elbon

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Drawing

For my hobby, I love drawing/making art, and ever since I bought an iPad almost a year ago, I’ve been creating a lot of digital illustrations with this app called Procreate. The coolest part about the app is you can generate time lapse videos of your drawings and it’s a super cool way to share and document your process. I post my drawings and timelapse videos on my art Instagram account @marcelcao_art!

– Mara Caoile

process video for image on left

process video for image on right

Writing

As a way to cope with my grandfather’s passing and the availability of time at home, I’ve started writing down memories. I journaled every day from middle school to first year of college and have missed expressing emotions through words! It’s definitely therapeutic and I love how my use of language matures with each day.

–  Elizabeth Ott

Channeling Your Inner Child 

I have definitely picked up some hobbies since mid-March, most notably fashioning Minecraft scenes out of Legos and baking tiny desserts in my new Easy Bake Oven. Yesterday I took a break from researching Fair Housing standards to erect a Minecraft Skull Arena (don’t ask me, ask my son) and bake a tiny lemon curd pie.  Don’t worry, when it’s safe to share food again, I’ll be sure to bring my most perfected concoctions into the office, so that you can have 1/8th of a bite of a tasty treat.

– Claire Claytor

Planting

Trying to have a green thumb! I moved a handful of plants around the yard and planted several new. So far so good! And does adopting another dog count? [We think yes!]

– Anjona Patel

Cooking/Baking

Dallas Caudle and his family have been spending these days cooking and baking the day away. Here are four recipes that they’ve made that he thought were particularly delicious!

Low-Carb Pepperoni Pizza Chicken Bake (Low-carb and gluten-free comfort food)

Ingredients

  • 1 jar (14 oz) low-sugar pizza sauce, reduced to 1 cup (See note about pizza sauce)
  • 4 very large boneless-skinless chicken breasts (at least 8 oz. each)
  • 1 T Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano 
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 8 oz. Shredded Mozzarella
  • Sliced Turkey pepperoni

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Put the pizza sauce in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until it’s reduced to one cup, about 20 minutes. Don’t skip this step or the dish will be watery.
  3. While the sauce reduces, trim the chicken breasts and  cut each one  crosswise to make two same-size pieces. Put chicken pieces one  at a time inside  a heavy  plastic bag  and  use  a meat mallet (or something heavy) to pound the chicken until it’s as thin as you can get it without it shredding apart.   (Don’t worry if some pieces break apart a little.)
  4. Mix the oregano and garlic powder in a little bowl and then sprinkle both sides of each piece of chicken with the mixture.
  5. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in the largest non-stick frying pan you have (you may have to do this in 2 batches if your pan isn’t big enough.) Add the chicken pieces and cook for 2 minutes on each side, just long enough to brown the chicken but not long enough to cook it through.
  6. Choose the smallest glass casserole dish you have that will fit all the browned chicken pieces, and lay the chicken in the dish in a single layer. Cut the Mozzarella into slices and cut the slices as needed to make enough pieces to mostly cover the top of each piece of chicken.
  7. By now the sauce should be nicely reduced, so spread sauce over the top of each chicken breast. (Use it all.) Top with Mozzarella and pepperoni slices, covering the top of each piece of chicken as much as you can.
  8. Bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown and the pepperoni is slightly crisped.

Turbo Chicken/Bacon Veggie Soup 

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups turnip, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 4 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 2 cups yellow squash, sliced and quartered
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cups shredded collard greens 
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon and olive oil over medium 1 heat for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock and water, then add the celery root and chicken. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the squash, green beans, and swiss chard and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir in the fresh basil just before serving.

Banana Bread (from Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. 
  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
  4. Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears. 
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. 
  6. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing. 
    Spread slices with honey or serve with ice cream.

Spatchcock Chicken Sheet Pan Supper (by Ree Drummond)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves minced 
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lemons, halved 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • One 4-pound whole chicken, patted dry 
  • 1 pound small Yukon gold potatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sliced zucchini pieces (3-by-1/2-inch sticks)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 

Instructions

  1. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oregano, thyme, 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the juice of 2 lemon halves and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Place a kitchen towel over the top of a cutting board. Place the chicken on the towel breast-side down and locate the backbone. With sharp kitchen shears, cut along one side of the spine followed by the other, then remove the backbone and discard or reserve for stock. Flip the chicken over and lay flat. Press down firmly with your hands on the center of the breast. The breastbone should pop and the chicken should sit relatively flat. Season the chicken all over with 2 tablespoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper.
  4. Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to a rimmed sheet pan and distribute evenly. Place the chicken skin-side up in the middle. Rub the chicken’s skin with 3 tablespoons of the oil and herb mixture.
  5. Toss the potatoes with 3 tablespoons of the oil and herb mixture. Distribute the potatoes around the chicken on the sheet pan. Roast for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 400 degrees F and continue roasting for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, toss the zucchini, cherry tomatoes and garlic in the remaining oil and herb mixture. Scatter around the sheet pan and roast until the chicken is totally cooked through, an additional 12 to 15 minutes. 
  7. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let it rest while you arrange the potatoes and vegetables on a platter.

Separate the chicken into 6 pieces: 2 breasts with wings, 2 thighs and 2 legs. Arrange in the middle of the platter. Squeeze the remaining lemon halves over the platter and garnish with chopped parsley.

I hope y’all were inspired and enjoyed seeing what some of our team is up to these days – have a great weekend!