All Dolled Up

As you know, yesterday the hubby and I celebrated two years of marriage. Here’s a little recap.

For breakfast, Farmer Ben made cinnamon swirl French Toast with mascarpone and his homemade strawberry topping…along with some super strong French Roast. Divine.

Delicious-ness.

Delicious-ness.

I had planned on making a special anniversary dinner, but between working like a mad-woman, wedding things and an unexpected trip to my mother’s house after work, I had neither the time nor the ambition to cook anything last night.

Luckily, we had a gift certificate to use at a local fancy-schmancy restaurant.

I hurried home after visiting with my mother and hurried to get all dolled up.  I also need to mention that I love having short hair because it literally cuts getting ready time in half. The perks of having an awesome hair stylist.

Ben came home and saw that I was dressed up and asked where we were going.

He later admitted that he wanted to jump up and down and yell, “Yes! We’re going out!!!”

I’ll let you imagine that for a moment.

Anyway, after making a quick reservation and giving Ben some time to get ready, we headed out the door.

This was our first time at this restaurant and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately Ben wouldn’t let me take any photos of our food, but I will tell you that it was delicious and we will be going back. We started our with a bottle of Spanish red…obviously, my pick.

I forced Ben to take pictures before our wine came out.

Pre-dinner photos:

So handsome.

So handsome.

Please notice my gorgeous tan-lines.

Please notice my gorgeous tan-lines.

After I forced politely asked our server to take a picture of us on our anniversary, we each received a complimentary glass of champagne. Winning!

We really do like each other!

We really do like each other!

Anyway, I’m sure you’re interested in what we had for dinner. I know that’s all I would want to know….

Appetizer:

The house smoked salmon. And complimentary olives, baguette and butter…all were devoured.

Entrees:

Ben ordered an elk steak special and oh my goodness it was good.

I ordered twin filets with tawny port and a gorgonzola demi…totally worth it. I have a weakness for gorgonzola, so–completely unlike my normal dining experience–I knew exactly what I was going to have within two minutes of looking over the menu.

Both of our entrees came with smashed potatoes (not the bagged kind that most restaurants get!), carrots and green beans topped with REAL Hollandaise. Yum!

For dessert, we split the crème brulee. Again, fantastic.

Although the prices were higher than most places in the area, it was totally worth it…even if we hadn’t had a gift certificate that covered most of our bill. Maybe it’s because I work in a restaurant, but I didn’t find anything over-priced, especially for the quality of the food.

The food was good and hand-crafted, the service was excellent and the atmosphere was perfect for a quiet dinner for two–not too casual and not overly pretentious, either.  We left with full bellies and happy mouths.

Overall it was a perfect evening.

If you’re in the area and looking for a great restaurant, check out Anthony’s Restaurant and Bistro.

What about you? Where do you go to celebrate? What is your go-to meal when you order? Do you take forever or do you know right away? Are you an obnoxious photo-taker like me? Wine: Red or White? Domestic or imported?

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today… I won’t be posting too much over the next few days at it is wedding weekend for our dear friends! I can’t wait for the celebrations. So, happy early weekend!


Fro-Yo Bites-2 ways.

I wanted to make the Lean Green Bean’s Frozen Yogurt Bites, but I didn’t have any granola on hand…and I didn’t feel like making any.

So I took everything out of the cupboard that was almost gone and dumped it into a bowl improvised.  I think I did pretty well…but I’ll let you be the judge.

These bites are so easy to make, it’s just silly. Seriously, I can’t even call this a recipe. I’m going to give you two ways to make these, the first what I actually made and the second, what I would have done if I had these items on hand.

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Before the freezer

The sky is the limit with these, so play around with your ingredients!

Fro-Yo Bites-2 ways:

Adapted from the Lean Green Bean

First Way-What You’ll Need: 

  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt, I used Strawberry
  • 1 small banana chopped
  • ~1/4 cup flax-seed meal
  • ~1/3 cup  chopped cashews
  • ~1 cup Heritage O’s (or Cheerios)
  • ~1/3 cup cocoa nibs

Second Way-What You’ll Need: 

  • 1+ cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt.
  • 1 small banana, chopped
  • ~1 cup puffed/crispy rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • ~1/4 cup cocoa nibs
  • Optional: coconut flakes, to taste

What to do-Either Way:

Combine ingredients until everything is well coated. You may need to add another spoonful or two of yogurt, depending on your taste (I did).

Scoop mixture into ice cube tray and place in freezer until  mixture hardens. If you don’t have a free ice cube tray, you can also line a pan with wax paper, freeze and cut into bars.

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Evidence…

If you’re feeling adventurous, dip frozen bites into melted chocolate. Re-freeze. Definitely do this step with the second variety. Yum!

Makes 14 bites. Store in freezer.

Enjoy!


Easy Peas-y (Tuna & Egg) Pasta Salad

I’ve been really into salads lately. Farmer Ben and I went grocery shopping on a rainy Monday night because I desperately needed to eat something green. We purchase Olivia’s Organics brand when the greens are out of season, they are an (awesome) east-coast based company. Check them out!

Since Monday, I’ve eaten approximately 47 salads. Now, I know this sounds crazy. But I get creative.

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His & Hers Salads for lunch.

Yesterday, my salad consisted of leftover chicken, avocado, tomato (grown in VT!), radishes, red onion, sprouts, a Serrano or two…and some spring mix/spinach as an after thought.

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I can totally fit more in this bowl.

You see, I belong to the school of thought that believes that the salad is not about the lettuce. It’s about the toppings. Some days, I’ll cover my greens with bleu cheese, other days, I’ll pick seeds, nuts and other crunchy goodness… Lately, I’ve been loving Serrano peppers and cranberries. Tomorrow it could be steak. Most of the time I have so much on my salad that I don’t even use dressing. That would be overkill.

I guess I’m just trying to say that salad is delicious.

Today, my greens are covered in a tasty pasta salad and a few other veggies.

I opted to use olive oil instead of mayonnaise (mayo would work just as well and probably be more just as delicious) to make it a bit healthier. And per usual, I didn’t really measure, so this recipe is more of a guideline.

Easy Peas-y Pasta Salad

*Makes about five 1-cup servings (because if you’re like me, you usually have seconds).

What you’ll need:

  • About 8 oz (half a box) of pasta uncooked. I used elbows.
  • 1 can tuna fish, drained
  • About 3/4 cup peas (I used the canned variety)
  • Green Olives, pits removed and chopped, about 1/4 cup…or more.
  • Spices of your choice, to taste (I used dill-lots, smoked salt-just a pinch, smokey paprika-about 2 tsp, garlic powder-a couple of pinches, and a lot of cracked pepper)
  • 2 Serrano peppers, chopped (These are super hot, jalapenos would also work really well)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped (I left this out because a certain husband doesn’t like raw onion, sigh.)
  • A few splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
  • ~1 tbsp.Dijon Mustard
  • ~1 tbsp. olive oil (enough to coat the pasta)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • A splash or two of balsamic vinegar (This was a brilliant afterthought…that I forgot)

What to do:

Cook pasta according to package. Drain and let cool (I stuck mine in the fridge to speed up the process).

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Using a fork, be sure to break-up tuna fish and stir.

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Loving all the green, yellow and red!

Serve over a giant salad, as a side dish, or… right from the bowl.

*Nutrition Highlights According to MyFitnessPal: 

265 calories, 31 carbs, 7 g fat, 16 g protein, 2 g sugar, 285 mg sodium, 27.5 mg potassium, 4.3 g fiber, 20.1 % Daily Value iron

Happy Friday! 


Real Talk: Tuesday Night

This is happening in the kitchen… well, technically in the freezer, right now.
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I promise I will be back with regular posts tomorrow.

Happy Tuesday.

PS. I originally titled this post Monday Night. It’s going to be a long week.


Crunchy Quinoa Granola

I went a little granola crazy this weekend. The hubs and I decided to do snacks and foodie items for Christmas this year, so I made two batches of granola. It went fast.

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Wholesome Crunchy Gift Giving

The first was adapted from this recipe by Joy the Baker.  I also got the mason jar idea from her. Genius.

Not gonna lie, I wasn’t sure about the goji berries, but they were awesome! 

The second was something  I sort of made up on the fly because I was running out of oats. And it was absolutely amazing.  It was also super festive because I used red quinoa, cherries and pistachios. Did I mention that it was delicious?

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Totally festive, crunchy, protein packed granola. No big deal.

This is a super savory granola, but if you want to sweeten it up, feel free to add more agave nectar. I don’t think it needs it…

The quinoa and cocoa nibs give this an awesome crunch and the coconut oil gives a super savory, rich flavor. I think this is my new favorite granola!

Look at this recipe as more of a guideline than something set in stone.

Crunchy Quinoa Granola

Ingredients

4 cups rolled oats.

2 cups red quinoa, uncooked–be sure to rinse and drain it!

3/4 cup sunflower seeds

3/4 cup cocoa nibs

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut-I like the flakes because it adds some awesome texture

1 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped (I chopped mine a little too much, you’ll want big chunks for that beautiful green color!)

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 pinch smoked salt

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 1/2 cups dried cherries

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325.

Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

Combine all dry ingredients except the cherries in a large bowl, give it a good toss to make sure it’s well mixed.

Heat coconut oil and agave nectar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until combined. 

Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.

Add to dry ingredients and mix well, ensuring the mixture is well coated.

Pour granola onto baking sheets, making sure to spread evenly.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown, pulling out twice to toss mixture (so it doesn’t burn).

Let cool completely and add dried cherries. Granola will last several weeks in an airtight container. Serve over milk, yogurt or by the handful.

Enjoy!

Happy Wednesday!


Pumpkin Coffee. Need I say more?

Yesterday, I talked about a homemade and healthy version of the quintessential fall caffeinated beverage: the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I used this recipe from Eating Bird Food. I made a few small tweaks, but the main parts are the same. I love that she shared this and that it doesn’t contain any artificial colors or …other ingredients.  Mad props!

This is not nearly as sweet as your Starbucks go-to. But it’s tasty. Try it!

Here is what I did.

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Goodness

adapted from the above link

What you’ll need:

Brewed Coffee of your choice (French Roast, anyone?)

About 1/2 cup milk. I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk as the post suggested, but I’ll use half and half or whole milk next time for a creamier taste/texture…because I’m naughty like that. 

A few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree–I usually try to do my own, but if you don’t have time for that, this stuff is organic and contains only pumpkin. Just my style.

Cinnamon-a couple of good pinches or grates on the microplane.

Nutmeg--go the fresh route. You’ll thank me later! Again, just a few good grates-the fresh stuff is strong!

Allspice--just a pinch or two.

A good splash of vanilla

Creamed Honey or Maple Syrup-a small spoonful. This would also be amazing with maple cream or brown sugar.

What to do:

Combine pumpkin and milk in a small saucepan, heat over medium-low heat. Using a spoon, break up the pumpkin and stir.

Once mixture gets to a simmer, add in your other ingredients to taste, I just did a pinch or a few good grates of each. Stir.

Pour coffee into a mug.

Using an immersion blender, blend mixture until milk is frothy and foamy. You can also use a regular blender-anything that will fluff up your milk.

Pour mixture over coffee.

Top with ground cinnamon and whipped cream if you’re feeling fancy.

Drink with your hubby or friends over a good book.

Happy Tuesday!


Lentil Burgers

Lately, I haven’t been eating as well as I would like. It’s partly because I’ve been eating on the run and partly because I’ve been lazy about planning ahead.

It’s been all about beef, bacon, nachos, potatoes and cupcakes. Granted these are all grass-fed/local/from the garden…but I admit, I have been over-indulging.

Don’t get me wrong, I love greens but I have just wanted something a little more… meaty and cheesy.

So, in an effort to cut down on my carnivorous binge, I made some veggie burgers. I served them over greens with a quick yogurt sauce (greek yogurt, lemon juice, honey, dill and garlic powder).

These are super easy to make AND go really well with salad….so you’ll have plenty of room for shredded beef nachos later on… I’m only sort of kidding…

So much color and goodness!

Lentil burgers are also totally good for you-packed with iron, protein, potassium, fiber and good fats!

Anyway, I used orange lentils in this batch but I would advise using black lentils instead–they are a bit firmer and will hold up better to mashing/mixing. You’ll need to rinse your lentils before cooking them to make sure any little stones are picked out.

Lentil Burgers:

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

2 cups cooked lentils (I cooked mine with our favorite Thai Stock from Wegmans)

1 15 0z can beans –I used great northern beans- garbanzos, black beans or pinto beans would also work

4 large eggs

1 to 1-1/2 cups bread crumbs

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

a few good cranks/pinches of black pepper and sea salt

Parsley-I used about a tbsp

A few squeezes of lemon

1-2 tsp. Smoky Paprika

1 tbsp. Olive Oil

Optional:

  • Olives–Ben and I stumbled upon Lindsay’s Naturals Green or Black Olives and they are amazing! We had a can in our cabinet so I threw some in for some added texture.
  • Jalapenos–I’ll probably make these again just so I can throw in some fresh japs from the garden! YUM!
  • Your favorite cheese-I used about 1/4 -1/2 cup of Cabot Mozzarella

What to do:

Combine lentils, eggs and salt in a large bowl– use your trusty dough blender or a fork to combine until your mixture is still slightly runny but chunky-it’ll look like really wet/chunky hummus.  (You can also use a food processor).

Add in remaining ingredients (except olive oil), stir until just combined. Let sit for a few minutes so the breadcrumbs absorb excess moisture.

Your mixture should be wet, but still able to be formed into patties.  If necessary, add in more breadcrumbs a little bit at a time. Or, for more moisture, add in more water/egg.

(I mentioned using black lentils instead of orange-I found my moisture to be REALLY wet/mushy with the orange and was out of breadcrumbs, so I added in some unbleached flour-it worked just as well).

When you have the right consistency, heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat, form patties and add to skillet.

Cook covered until bottom begins to brown-this took about 7 or 8 minutes. Flip and cook another 7 minutes until other side is lightly browned. 

Serve over your favorite salad or on a bun as a veggie burger.

Makes about 12 burgers ~177 calories per burger. You can store uncooked patties in the fridge for up to a week.