The Highlight Reel: 29 February – 06 March

Screw you, leap year. You have the audacity to add an extra day without making my employer pay me an additional 0.274%?! I declare shenanigans!


Apparently, this was DC’s unofficial Whisk(e)y Week, with two whiskey festivals taking place only a few days apart and a spate of events in between to prevent one’s liver from ever recovering. For reasons that are not at all clear to me, WhiskyFest (the bigger, more expensive of the two) was on a Wednesday, which basically eliminated any chance of my attending. Whisky Live, however, is always on Saturday, and after two years of hemming and hawing, I finally decided to go.


The VIP package got us in 30 minutes ahead of the crowds, which actually weren’t too bad, and included a lovely, cut crystal Glencairn glass and access to a special tasting area with more whisky (because 150 options isn’t enough). Apart from a single barrel Four Roses poured for me by their new master distiller, I wasn’t blown away by anything in the VIP area. Some of the general access bourbons were fantastic, though.

Jared at The Bourbon Source really blew everyone else out of the water with his selection, but it wasn’t exactly a fair fight—he brought a bunch of dusties whose rarity alone provides a special allure.

Joe from Barrell Bourbon had a similarly impressive spread and excellent product to boot. I’ve been clinging onto a bottle of their Batch 001 for about a year, and now I want all of the others. Curse you, Joe!

And I finally got to try Brenne, a French single malt whisky about which I’d heard many good things. It lived up to the hype, and now I want these, too. And that’s how they get ya…

The event was so much fun that it warrants its own post, so I’ll get right on that.


With The Missus out of town on Friday, I decided to try something a bit out of the ordinary. No, not the chocolate chip cookies: dinner at a gun shop. That’s right, the local gun shop—which has a sign outside that reads “Guns and Coffee”—hosts a free spaghetti dinner on the first Friday of the month. It’s too off the wall for me not to try, and it was actually quite good.

My having been raised well, I couldn’t show up empty handed, so I threw together some chocolate chip cookies beforehand. I’m toying with my recipe, and I can’t decide whether the changes were a net improvement, but everyone there seemed to enjoy. The cookies were gone before I left.

Oh, and I ate McDonald’s on my way back from Whisky Live, because it was the only thing open near me. I mean, apart from Taco Bell, which is farther away and even worse. I feel dirty.


A long time ago, I was a triathlete. Not a good one, mind you, but a triathlete all the same. Then time and budget constraints got in the way, so I quit swimming and evolved into a guy who just runs and bikes a lot, but never in conjunction. This week, for the first time in years, that changed.

In the midst of a long, lung-burning trainer session, my apparently oxygen-deprived brain decided that a short run off the bike was just what the doctor ordered. The next 30 minutes of cranking the pedals to steadily increasing fatigue wasn’t enough to convince me otherwise, so when my bike workout was done, I quickly changed into running gear and sped out the door. Somehow it wasn’t terrible. It actually felt…good. I just might try that again. In fact, I might even go for a swim. Maybe.

Interwebs of Intrigue


The Highlight Reel: 22-28 February

A quiet week, and one most welcome. After all the home projects and party prep over the past few weeks, I was ready for some downtime. Is it any wonder I’m now trying to plan a short vacation?


The Missus and I tried to attend the Capital Remodel + Garden Show on Saturday. She was hoping for a chance to see the Property Brothers, but apparently so was everyone else, and it was an utter mob scene, complete with traffic jams and long lines to even get in. We had to punt and go back the next day. Who knew that identical twins with a TV show were such a draw?


Have you been to McLellan’s Retreat? No? Go! Like, now. Why are you even still reading this?


All-you-can-eat BBQ is a dangerous, delicious proposition. My friend and I again came away from Fat Pete’s feeling too stuffed to move gracefully, but this time I didn’t eat so much that I felt sick. Progress!

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The first round of destruction.

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Did you miss my easy homemade hummus recipe yesterday? It’s maybe not as delicious as a nonstop stream of smoked meat, but I like it fine.




Ripping through my shirt is perhaps a sign that I need to lift less, eat less, or both.

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I tried to comb my hair and this happened. #gymratproblems

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Interwebs of Intrigue

This is where I plunk down stories/videos/crap that caught my attention.

Easy Homemade Hummus


love hummus. It’s great with carrots. It’s great with pretzels. It’s great as a sandwich spread. It’s all around wonderful, but it’s also kinda expensive, given the quantities I’m liable to consume in any given sitting. When I think about the amount of money I’ve spent and the number of plastic tubs I’ve thrown in the recycling bin, a little part of me dies. Assuming $4.00 per tub × 2-3 tubs per week × 52 weeks/year, that’s $600+ each year. Why was I buying this stuff pre-made?!

For one, I didn’t realize how easy hummus is to make. You basically just dump a can of chickpeas and some spices into a food processor and blend until smooth. Don’t have a food processor? No problem; use a blender. Don’t have one of those? Use a stick blender. Don’t have one of those? Sorry, can’t help you, but I can assure you that it will pay for itself after only 10-15 batches of this stuff. This recipe makes two pounds and costs less than $2. Just do the math!

Okay, so there’s a little bit more to it than just dumping the whole can in and processing, but not much. Since I doubt you’d be reading this if you wanted to experiment on your own, here’s how I do it, as precisely as possible (because cooking is more art than science).

Easy Homemade Hummus

Makes about 32 ounces (900 grams)



  • 2 cans cooked chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
  • 5 tsp olive oil (just less than 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup reserved chickpea liquid (or water, if you accidentally tossed this)


  1. If you haven’t already, drain chickpeas and save the “juice.”
  2. Add chickpeas, spices, olive oil, and lemon juice to food processor.
  3. Process until smooth (about 1-2 minutes), scraping sides at least once if you don’t like chunks.
  4. Sample and adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Transfer to bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with lemon slice.
  6. Try not to eat the whole batch—I’m not responsible for an upset stomach if you do.



Sweet Baby Jesus! Cupcakes

I don’t like beer.  I never have.  But I needed beer for a party that The Missus and I were throwing, so I found myself in Dominion Wine & Beer asking the knowledgable clerks what I should buy.  One of them spoke about Sweet Baby Jesus! as though it was dessert in a bottle: decadent, creamy, sweet, rich. Basically, the perfect beer for people who don’t like beer.

I’d seen Sweet Baby Jesus before, but I didn’t know that it was a Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter (whatever that is); I just thought it had a great name. So after hearing the description and seeing that the store had but one single bottle available in their mix-and-match case, I decided to give it a shot.

I still don’t like beer. Not even this one. I also don’t like being wasteful, so put my noggin to work and tried to figure out what I could do with the leftovers. It didn’t take long to think of cupcakes. I mean, it’s not as though I can make my own Reese’s Cups, at least not with beer. Any how, I broke out my baker’s spreadsheet, pulled up the cupcake tab, and got to tinkering. The result was an incredibly rich but not terribly sweet chocolate cake with just a hint of peanut butter flavor. Just a hint of peanut butter just won’t do. Peanut butter frosting to the rescue!


The end product was guinea pigged by guests at my housewarming party. Bold decision or calculated risk? Regardless, they were a hit! A bunch of guests asked for (demanded, even) the recipe. Hence the rush to write this, despite a paucity of photos. So without further ado, here’s the recipe.


Sweet Baby Jesus! Cupcakes


Makes one dozen jumbo cupcakes or 18 regular cupcakes



  • 3/4 cup (1 & 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup Sweet Baby Jesus!, room temperature, flat
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (full fat), room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Simple syrup (optional, for brushing)


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  • 1 tablespoon milk (optional, for thicker frosting)
  • Miniature Reese’s cups (optional, for decorating)


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter and cocoa powder until smooth.
  2. Whisk Sweet Baby Jesus into butter–cocoa mixture.
  3. Using an electric mixer (I prefer my KitchenAid, but a hand mixer will do), beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until completely free of lumps.
  4. Add in the cooled chocolate mixture and blend on low speed until just combined.
  5. Whisk together dry ingredients and add to the mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl at least once.
  6. Divide batter evenly among baking cups, filling each about two-thirds. Don’t overfill or you’ll end up with muffins that won’t frost easily!
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center cupcake comes out clean. Unless you know that your oven heats evenly, rotate the trays once during baking.
  8. Allow to cool on a wire rack, then brush the tops with simple syrup to lock in moisture.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting as follows.

  1. With an electric mixer, beat butter and peanut butter on medium speed until fully combined.
  2. Gradually add sugar and beat until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.
  3. Beat in milk if desired.
  4. If you get any frosting on your hands, try not to lick your fingers (unless you’ll wash them before handling the cupcakes)

When it’s time to frost the cupcakes, don’t go overboard. The frosting is even richer than the cake, and too much of it makes for an imbalanced treat. I frosted just to the brim of the baking cup, then perched a mini Reese’s cup on top for good measure.

I hope you like them as much as my guests did. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments, and don’t be afraid to share!

The Highlight Reel: 15-21 February

To lamely paraphrase lame philosophers everywhere, “when a snow day falls on a holiday, is it really a snow day?” Regardless of how you choose to answer that question, when it happens, I feel like we should get the following day off, just for good measure. Who’s with me?! Yes, Monday was President’s Day, and we in the DC area awoke to a couple inches of snow and the prospect of not being able to go anywhere because no one in this area knows how to drive in moderately inclement weather. At least it wasn’t another Snowzilla.


Would you believe it if I told you that we had more projects to do around the house? This time, repainting and wallpapering a bathroom.  On that subject, when you move a washing machine to paint behind it, is that OCD or just being thorough?  Regardless, attention to detail is important, amiright?



Our halfhearted plans for a Grammy Awards drinking game were basically put to rest by the paucity of awards actually given out during the broadcast. Looking up who won this or that award before the ceremonies is decidedly anticlimactic and would also lead to consuming large quantities of alcohol very quickly, which was never the intent. So instead, just good whisky for me during that glorified music festival.


Yamazaki 18 Japanese Single Malt Whisky

While the Grammy festival may have been a dud, our own housewarming party was a resounding success.  We made a batched cocktail inspired by this gin-elderflower-strawberry concoction that was so popular it required a second batch.  Recipe coming soon!


One pot chicken lo mein might just have the best flavor-to-difficulty ratio of anything we’ve ever made. Just throw everything in a pot and wait? It’s a veritable epiphany! What’s more, the concept is so versatile that it’s sure to be the basis of many meals and recipes to come.


One Pot Wonder Chicken Lo Mein | Photo & Recipe: The Wholesome Dish

A party at our place means baked goods, and even though most of our guests were unaware of that, I couldn’t let them down. To that end, oatmeal raisin cookies and a brand new cupcake creation.  And let’s not forget the homemade hummus, a charcuterie spread, and chili lime drumsticks.


Oatmeal raisin cookies


Where cupcakes come from

Recipe posts are already in the works, so stay tuned!

[UPDATE] Sweet Baby Jesus! cupcakes recipe is live!



After suffering from serious fatigue issues a few times recently, I decided it was time to change up my routine a bit. I didn’t so much change what I was doing as the order in which I was doing it, building in more recovery time between hard efforts and worrying less about “filler” workouts.  It largely paid off.  I hit a recent squat PR, and I continue to get faster on interval and tempo runs.  My long run didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but not every workout can be a winner, and it’s important to always focus on the big picture.

Interwebs of Intrigue

New “feature” this week: A list of stories/videos that caught my attention over the the past seven days, generally but not always related to the theme of this blog.

See you next week!

The Highlight Reel: 08-14 February

Ugh, I’ve been slacking even with these weekly wrap-up posts.  My apologies to what I assume are the 1-3 of you who actually read my ramblings.  Let’s blame holidays and home projects as opposed to my laziness, k?

The lack of writing might also reflect what I’ve realized is an exceedingly pedestrian life as of late.  No partying, traveling, or racing means I have to be proactive about doing blog-worthy things if I am to keep this up.  Which again goes to the laziness, I suppose.  Any who, here’s the Highlight Reel.


That feeling when you go to eat breakfast and realize a piece of your tooth is missing…
Thankfully, I actually just broke off part of an old filling, so it wasn’t painful.  And I found a fantastic dentist just a short walk from home.  AND my dental insurance covered all but $25 of the repair and cleaning!

On a more positive note, more home projects off the list (which somehow doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter, but that’s for another post).


Gallery Wall


Rustic-ated plate covers


De-brassed door hardware


With more yet more progress around the house, I rewarded myself with a fancy ass cocktail on Sunday.  Good bourbon makes for better drinks, so boo hoo to you if you think I’m wasting expensive whiskey.


As-yet-unnamed cocktail


The Missus cooked! The Missus cooked! And it was fantastic! I wish every day were Valentine’s Day.


Ginger soy salmon with rice and veggies

Oh, and I tried a quesalupa, because I have a strange fascination with Frankenfoods.  It actually wasn’t bad, although I don’t have any urge to rush back for another. Good thing, that, because we’re within walking distance of Taco Bell.




If you’re going to do a bunch of stiff-leg deadlifts, don’t plan on doing much for the next day or two.  Thankfully I made this mistake Monday, so the entire week wasn’t ruined. Still in the process of dialing back my gym work so that I don’t require an entirely new wardrobe, and I miss it already.  RIP, gainz

On the running front, I continue to make progress toward not being heavy and slow (now just heavy and not fast), which is very much welcome.  I did intervals for the first time in ages, and to my delight I didn’t die or end up like Shalane Flanagan after the Olympic trials.

The Highlight Reel:01-07 February


Another week of limited boozing, albeit with a bit of Super Bowl and finished-a-ton-of-projects indulgence on Sunday.  On a related note, I made some progress on the long-term project of drastically reducing the number of open whiskey bottles that had accumulated over the previous year.  Hooray, me!  Although I may have opened two others…oops.  At least I took a pretty picture



We made a couple of The Missus’ tried and loved recipes this week, both of which came together nicely.

Pesto Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Roasted Asparagus

One-Skillet Mac and Cheese with Sausage and Bell Peppers (sorry, no photo)

In addition, we experimented with a new recipe, BLT grilled cheese, and were quite satisfied with the outcome.

I also made my famous-among-friends oatmeal raisin cookies for a work thing but somehow forgot to document any of it.  I’m a failure as a food blogger, essentially.  Guess I’ll have to make more.


Evidently, I can’t do three straight days of hard workouts combined with a lot of time on my feet and come away feeling refreshed.  Who knew?

Yes, this was a week to remind me that I’m human.  I actually heeded my body’s advice this time and kept to easy efforts until I felt ready for a real workout.  To my utter amazement, the world kept turning, and I didn’t suddenly get fat!  Rest may go against my very nature, but it’s not actually a bad thing.


As alluded to above, huge headway on the honey-do list.

  1. Refinish our cabinet? Check!  
  2. Hang the crates that The Missus stained?  Check!  
  3. Caulk in new doorway?  Check!  
  4. Install bike rack?  Check!  
  5. Hang decorative lights?  Yeah, that too, and all over the weekend!