Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Foodie Penpal Reveal

Today's the day- time for the foodie pen pal reveal!  This was my first month doing the foodie pan pal exchange, so I should probably explain what it is.  There are 1,000+ people involved, and it's sharing food and recipes all over the country and even into Canada.  Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean organizes it all- she is amazing!  On the 5th day of the month, you are mentioned with a blogger.  On the 15th, you send a package to your matched blogger (spending limit of $15), and after enjoying the goodies for over a week, you reveal who you were matched with and share what you received in your package :)  

Sounds fun, right?  If you're interested, visit The Lean Green Bean.  

Now, time for my package.  I was lucky enough to start off the foodie pen pal exchange with Lindsay herself.  I received so many goodies from her; I am very impressed with how much fit in her $15 budget (I didn't do as good of a job with my package....there's always next time!).  

Look at this amazing spread!!  4 magazines, homemade treats, supplies
to make my own no-bakes, and many of Lindsay's favorite things!

There were full when I got them.  Candied nuts on the right and cookie
crumbs on the left.  Lindsay said this wasn't her best baking attempt, but
I thought they were delicous and ate them all in less than 3 days :)

Here's all the stuff in my box that I have never tried before...I can't wait :)

I sent a package to Jessica at the Enlightened Kitchen.  Check out her blog and how she enjoyed her first foodie pen pal exchange too!  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Spoiled Bride- Final Edition

What makes me so the most spoiled bride?  It's because I'm marrying Austin.  I know, uber sappy-- but at the end of the day, the most important thing about being a bride is that I get to be Austin's wife :)

Austin and I have been together for almost five years, and I cannot imagine my life without him.  We met freshman year in he cafeteria but did not start dating until we were seniors in college.  After graduation, we spent three years in a very long distance relationship (six hour drive).  Finally, once we became engaged, I got a dream job in the same town he is in.  Hurray!!

In less than one week, we will finally be married and be husband and wife.  I CANNOT WAIT!!  I am incredibly lucky to be able to share my life with Austin!

One of our first pictures in Fall 2008

Sorority formals Spring 2008

I found this picture lying around- how cute is he?

Senior Week at Hilton Head

Engagement- Thanksgiving 2010. A neighboring table snapped this with their cell phone

Cannon Beach, OR- Summer 2011

2009 at my cousin's wedding.  This Saturday, we will be the ones getting married at this chapel!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Founding Farmers

Almost two months ago, I was in DC for a conference.  We went to the zoo, I ate at Mike Isabella's restaurant (you've heard all this before in previous posts), but I left out another tasty restaurant right in the heart of DC.

Founding Farmers.  The restaurant is eco-friendly, it is owned by a collective of American family farmers, and it is focused on sustainability.  The building is even LEED certified gold!  I was so excited to try it out, and even more excited to spend time with my cousin Nancy!  We waited over an hour to get seated, but it was a wonderful DC evening-- fine to sit outside and really enjoy the company :)

The food definitely didn't disappoint after that wait.  We started with a skillet cornbread and honey butter  The cornbread even had corn nuggets in it.  I don't think they pulled out the Jiffy mix that I normally use at home :)

Then our dinners- melted in my mouth.  I had the scallops and risotto.  Nancy was a little healthier with the farmer's salad.  Both amazing!  I wanted to (and may have) licked my plate clean.

Since I was on "vacation," we decided to get dessert.  Red velvet cake and a fruit crisp.  They both tasted so fresh- I brought the leftover red velvet (made with beets and not food coloring) back to the hotel and had it for breakfast the next morning.  Perfect.

Thanks to Founding Farmers for a scrumptious meal and to my cousin Nancy for taking me out to one of her favorite DC restaurants :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Eggplant Involtini

Yum; that's all  I have to say.   This recipe, adapted from Bev Cooks, is filling and hearty (Austin said he didn't even know there wasn't meat in it) and tastes so fresh.  It's a perfect summer dish!

Eggplant Involtini

1 eggplant, sliced thinly into 6-8 strips
2 tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup ricotta cheese, skim milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 green pepper, diced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 egg
1 garlic clove, minced
Basil (fresh is preferable, I couldn't find any at the store, so I used freeze dried basil, and it worked perfectly!)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (my meal had mexican blend cheese)
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Use food processor to smooth fresh tomatoes.  Add diced tomatoes to food processor and continue to pulse.  Spoon about a cup of tomato sauce over the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish.

In batches, place slices of eggplant on a microwave safe dish and cook on high for 3 to 4 minutes, until pliable. Continue with the remaining slices.  After eggplant cooks, pat dry with paper towels.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, parmesan, egg, garlic, basil, green pepper, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl or cup. 

Spoon the ricotta mixture in the center of each eggplant slice. Sprinkle with basil. Roll slices up and place in the baking dish, seam side down.

Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the roll ups. Sprinkle with cheese- both shredded and some additional parm cheese

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted.  Just retying the recipe is making my mouth water!

Serves 5, 6 points a serving.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Spoiled Bride, Part 5

The parties have all ended....I have had in all 4 bridal showers and 2 bachelorette parties.  I am blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life who want to celebrate my upcoming marriage.

Here are some pictures from the first and last bridal showers (hosted by my Austin's mother and my amazing boss!):

1/2 of my bridesmaids

Don't I make the best faces?  Almost every gift was wine related--
guess people know I love a good glass of vino.

The whole group at Le Yaca, a fabulous french restaurant.

The company was great, of course, but let's talk about the food at Le Yaca!

The two choices for entrees were salmon and seafood stuffed crepes.  I went for the crepes (they were also covered in cheese and a cream sauce---OMG!).



Crepes from another view- they were that good!!!!

Deliciousness on a plate for dessert.  Don't know exactly what it is, but I ate  every bite  :)

Thanks to Katia Mastropas for the amazing pictures from La Yaca.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Beer and Cheddar Cheese Risotto

I have pasta on the brain- I have been craving something rich and creamy, and risotto absolutely fills the role...yum.  Beer, cheese, Italian, and risotto.  I am in heaven- thank to Gourmet Betty for helping with this craving!

Beer and Cheddar Cheese Risotto

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion (I used a scallion because I was all out on onions- gasp!)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 12oz beer (I used Sam Adams Coastal Wheat)
1 1/2 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1 cup arborio rice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 pound Italian sausage (casings removed)
1/4 cup cheddar cheese (reduced fat)
1/2 bag fresh spinach, chopped
Salt, pepper

In a medium to large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and Italian sausage.  Cook and break apart sausage.

At the same time, heat up broth in a small pot and keep warm.

Once the sausage is cooked, add the rice and stir until toasted, about 4 minutes.

Add a third of the beer to the toasted rice, cook until liquid is absorbed, then continue to add beer 2 more times until the bottle is empty.  Then add the broth is 1/2 cup increments. Wait until the liquid is absorbed before adding additional liquid to the pan.

Cook until the rice is tender and creamy. Stir in the butter, cheese, and spinach until well mixed.  Add Salt and Pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

Serves 4, 11 points a serving.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Oatmeal Topped Peach Cobbler

From the CSA this week came a huge container of peaches.  I'm not a fan of peaches on their own (I know, I'm weird), but I love them in a good cobbler.  This recipe is even good with the cobbler cold, but at its best right out of the oven!

Oatmeal Topped Peach Cobbler

6 cups fresh or frozen peach slices, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat flour *listed again so not have to separate originally
3/4 cup brown sugar *
3/4 cup rolled oatmeal
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 stick butter, cold, cut in 8 pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 9 baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine peaches with 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 flour and lemon juice.  Spread in baking dish and set aside.

Combine 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, oatmeal and cinnamon in food processor, and pulse until blended.  With the food processor running, add cold butter a few pieces at a time. 

Spread topping ingredients evenly over the peaches, sprinkle with oatmeal, and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Serves 8, 6 points a serving.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spoiled Bride, Part 4

At the end of June, my wonderful friends had a bachelorette party for me!   I'm in Virginia, but many of them are in the northeast, so two short plan rides (and a sprint from one gate to another during a 40 minute turned 5 minute layover) had me safely arrive in Hartford, CT.

My friends had a whole evening planned- a great dinner, drinks at the hotel, LIMO ride to Foxwoods Casino, more drinks (too bad a Celtics game made the bar a little crowded...), and then out dancing for the rest of the night!  The next day we spent wandering around Mystic, enjoying the seaport and each other :)

All 7 of the girls who traveled and planned the bachelorette party were people I went to college with, and it means so much that I such amazing friends- even if we don't talk regularly, when we get together, we all pick up where we left off.  Lucky me :)

At Dinner

Outside the club at the end of the night

Kristie (the newest bride-to-be) and me

In the limo...what a fun way to travel!

Mystic, CT

On the Mystic drawbridge

Friday, July 13, 2012


Do you love Top Chef as much as I do?!?  Well, you should!  I have a lot about cooking from watching each season, and it also helped me to expand my palette and try new things.

Problem now is that I don't have cable, so no shows, and especially Bravo shows come into my home in the evening :( My friend Sadie of Frosting & Filagree generously lets me into her house for Top Chef each week!

As I travel around the country for work, one of my new goals is to visit the restaurants of the Top Chef contestants....first one- Graffiato by Mike Isabella.

This was the last stop in DC before taking the train home a few weeks ago, and it was perfect last thing to do in our nation's capitol.

Check out all the AMAZING food we ate:

We were there at 2 pm- still the brunch menu, so still lots of options.

Tortellini with peas, scrumptious :)


Meatballs, eggs, and polenta- my favorite!

Crispy Gnocchi- melts in your mouth!

Hanger steak- the potato cubes were the best!

Berry pizza- this was my least favorite, but I think it was because the rest of the meal was so amazing!!

Jersey pizza- I brought this back with me to eat on the train!  Fried calamari with
cherry pepper aioli sauce on top.  This was the best train meal I have ever had :)

You should definitely visit when you're in town!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Italian Veggies

Austin and I came home from the gym last night (Yes- we are going to the gym- hurray!), and we had no idea what we were going to make for dinner.  I don't do well without plans, and all Austin wanted was pasta.  As you know, there is nothing I LOVE more than a carb-filled plate of pasta, but wouldn't that negate my workout at the gym??

I thought so, hence a compromise.  We would make pasta but it would only be half a meal.  I rummaged around my fridge full of veggies and found a great way to add to the pasta :)

The pasta was whole-grain penne with Trader Joe's vodka sauce- so yummy!

Italian Veggies

2-3 summer squash, sliced
3-4 red potatoes, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
basil, oregano, Italian seasoning

Coast pan with olive oil.  Cook onions, potatoes, squash, and spices until onions are translucent and potatoes can be pierced with a fork.  Drizzle with balsamic.

Serves 4, 4 points a serving.

And here's the amazing thing-- while my dinner was still Points Plus friendly, I was too full to finish my plate.  AND, I stopped eating instead of stuffing myself- that's progress :)