Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me! ALMOST

In exactly 40 days I am going to be turning the big 3-0.  I am a huge fan of birthdays and typically celebrate all month long. This one being such a milestone and all I kind of thought that maybe, maybe it wouldn't be as fun.  But heck, it seems I am just as excited for this one as I have been for all other 29 years of my life. 

Now, I already have some big plans. I am going to make myself a cake but I have also set up a cake for the hubby to pick up on the actual day. Sure, this might seem overboard but I was happy to do it.  I like cake!

Normally my only other request for the day itself besides cake is that I do not do dishes. This pretty much means we go out or get take out. Either way works for me and we never do anything too special or fancy. 

As for gifts, well I am not expecting too much. Its more of the idea of a day being about me than the actually presents.  But of course, that mindset has not stopped me from eyeing some pretty things here and there. I wouldn't be too upset if a few ended up in my possession come September 10th. 

So here we go...a few of my favorite wants right now!

Mosaic Triangles Jewelry Box

My jewelry box is from the 1980's. No joke. Now I have a big girl house, and a few big girl jewelry pieces I kind of think it is fitting to get a big girl jewelry box. 


I live in ballet flats. I think I own one pair of heals and I am not  even sure if they still fit. I heard these are the best of the best. I want some!

Seriously Delish

One of my favorite blogs is coming out with a cookbook. I have been trying to cutback on the whole cookbook purchasing but this is one I am definitely owning a copy of....

Speaking of which I want this one too!

Dishtowels...I want this one

and this one 

this one.

And last but not least this little sugar pot.

Happy Birthday to Me....ALMOST!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Raspberries, Clam Chowder and #WIAW

The weather has been beautiful the last few days. Sunny but not too hot and humid.  We can home from work the other day went for a walk and then picked some raspberries from the 4 wild bushes we have round our yard. We really had no idea they were there until about 3 weeks ago.  Sadly the birds were more knowledgeable than us and got to them first.  We managed about two handfuls though during this haul.   Of course, they don't last long once picked but they sure taste good. A perfect dinner making snack.

We picked up a loaf of my most favorite whole wheat bread last week. I savor every slice. Monday I had a lovely plate of toast. One with raspberry jam.  The other with chocolate peanut butter and 1/2 banana sliced. 

Lunch at work was clam chowder and strawberries. Work is so cold with the A/C cranked up on high.  Soup is just what I need mid-day to warm up. My parents were visiting last weekend and Saturday afternoon I had the genius idea to have my dad make clam chowder. He makes the best clam chowder.  We froze two servings to enjoy in a few weeks and had a little each day since.  

Dinner was 1/2 of a panini sandwich. This was chicken cutlet, fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. If you live around New Haven you know that there is Italian sandwich/pizza shop galore around here. We have a local deli that makes the best sandwiches. I am always a sucker for the chicken cutlet.  If I didn't care about healthy eating I would snag one of these 

If health wasn't an issue, what would you eat every day?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grown Up Gouda Mac and Cheese {SRC}

Hello Mac and Cheese! The ultimate comfort food is welcomed in my home anytime of year. 

This month for the Secret Recipe Club I had Christie from Kitchen Hoor's Adventures.  Christie, like me, has been in the kitchen since she was little.  And did you know what? She is famous. She has been on 
Emeril Live! Pretty cool huh?  I searched quite a bit from dinner recipes to desserts deciding what I wanted to make.  There were so many good options.

At first I didn't think Mac and Cheese was in the running with it being summer and all.  Steamy hot pasta just didn't seem right but I my mind kept going back to this recipe.  It looks so good. Plus this stove top version required no oven time.  

We had this dish on a Sunday night but let me tell you how fast it came together. Literally you start the pasta, grate the cheese and whip up the cottage cheese and cream cheese while the pasta is cooking and then once done you mix it all up.  So super simple. I am going to be keeping it handy for the week nights when I have no energy to make dinner. 

The gouda adds all the flavor while the cottage cheese and cream cheese add the creaminess you look for in a good Mac and Cheese. We loved it.  Since it was just the two of us we had plenty of leftovers but it heated up nicely and made for a quick and easy lunch during the week. 

Thanks Christie for sharing a great recipe! We will be making this again. 

Grown Up Gouda Mac and Cheese

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Keywords: entree cheese pasta
Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 16 ounces macaroni
  • 2 cups Gouda, grated
  • 1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
  • 2 ounces low fat cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cooking pasta according to package directions for al dente.

Combine the cottage cheese and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor and mix until smooth and creamy.

When the pasta is done, drain and place back into the cooking pot.

Pour the cottage cheese mixture over the hot, cooked pasta and stir to combine.

Add the Gouda cheese and stir until melted.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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Secret Recipe Club

See below for the other delicious recipes from Group D!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Almond-Poppy Seed Pound Cake with Lemon Neufchâtel {Pass the Cook Book Club}

This month for the Pass the Cook Book Club, Julie picked the cookbook,  Emeril's Kicked Up Sandwiches cookbook.  Each month a group member chooses a cookbook and picks three recipes.  You choose your favorite recipe from the three, cook it up, and share the adventure with all of you.

One of the things I love most about this group is learning about new cookbooks. I have my fair share of cookbooks but it never ceases to amazing me the vast number I have no idea exist. As you can imagine, Emeril's Kicked Up Sandwiches cookbook, has all sorts of sandwich recipes but each recipe makes everything from scratch.  You can find all kinds of bread and sauces within this book along with completely amazing sandwich combinations.  

The options for this month were Almond Poppy Seed Pound Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese, Turkey Waldorf Sandwich, and Beef Shwarma with Tzatziki Sauce.  They all sounded pretty yummy but I had neglected my sweet tooth for a while now. The sound of a sweetened up sandwich won me over.

I left out the poppy seeds - they are just not my thing. I also added some raspberries to the sandwich filling because well, they are pretty and wonderful.  It summer!  This was the perfect snack.  The cake itself wasn't too sweet so it didn't seem excessive for a big sliced sandwich in the middle of the day.  However, it was sweet enough to call this treat dessert after dinner. 

The only down side to this recipe was the fact the oven had to be on for over an hour. I made the stupid mistake of making this on a hot and humid day in the middle of the afternoon. My bad.  Yup, I just said my bad.  

Almond-Poppy Seed Pound Cake with Lemon Neufchâtel

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert lemon
Ingredients (serves 8)
    For the Cake:
    • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
    • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
    • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 1 ½ cups sifted cake flour
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract
    • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
    • 1 cup confectioners sugar
    • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeeze lemon juice
    For the Lemon Neufchâtel:
    • (makes 1 cup)
    • 8 ounces Neufchâtel or cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
    • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    For the Cake:
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease with butter and lightly flour an 8 ½” x 4 ½” loaf pan.

    In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on low speed for 1 minute. Slowly add the granulated sugar, and continue to mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add 1 egg, and when it is completely incorporated, add one-third of the flour. Mix for 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining eggs and flour.

    Add the almond extract and the poppy seeds, and mix for 30 seconds more, until evenly distributed. Scrape the bowl with a rubber-spatula and transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan.

    Bake for 35 minutes. Then rotate the pan and continue to bake for another 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in one of the cracks has a trace of crumb. Removed the cake from the oven, set the pan on a wire rack, and let it cool for 10 minutes.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth.

    Pun a thin metal spatula around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan, and place a wire rack or a plate on top. Carefully invert the cake onto the rack and lift off the loaf pan. Set another wire rack on the bottom of the cake, and turn it right side up.

    Set the rack over a parchment-lined baking sheet, and drizzle with lemon glaze over the top of the warm cake. Using a rubber spatula, smooth the glaze around the sides of the cake. You can scrap any glaze that has dripped onto the parchment and drizzle back onto the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing, about 2 hours.

    For the Lemon Neufchâtel:
    Combine the Neufchâtel, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl, and blend well with a rubber spatula or spoon. Use at room temperature. (Cover and refrigerate any unused portion for up to 1 week.)

    To assemble the sandwiches, cut the cake into ½” thick slices. Spread the Lemon Neufchâtel between 2 slices, forming a cake sandwich. Enjoy!
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    If you want to become a part of the cookbook club read this post and click for the Facebook group

    Here are what the other lovely bloggers came up with for July:

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    A lazy summer and WIAW

    Happy Hump Day!  Yeah for being half way done with the week.

    Monday I woke up early to go to Maine. I had two meetings. I haven't been up that way in a while and I forgot how long the drive is. By the time I was on my way home yesterday I was so sick of being in a car. 

    Breakfast was at Dunkin' Donuts. There happened to be one right across the parking lot from the hotel.  Not my favorite thing for breakfast but it works. Somehow though they always get my order wrong. No veggie cream cheese for me this day. 

    Lunch was on the road home. We stopped in Portland for Elevation Burger. Kind of like Five Guys only way better. I did the basic cheese burger with lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapenos. 

    Back at home we had homemade pizza. His and Her's. My was fresh mozzarella and garlic. Mr. J had some pepperoni, onions and peppers.  I forgot to put on the fresh basil from our garden but it made it on the slices before we ate. Always a welcomed addition.

    What is the last long car ride you went on?

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    On the Road Again and WIAW

    After traveling this past weekend to see my brother and his family we made it back home only to turn around and take off again. Before leaving though we Mr. J  managed to whip up this fantastic dinner on the grill. We had tons of veggies from a CSA just calling to be grilled. Mr. J was loving the grilled red and yellow beets. My favorites were the beet greens and zucchini. 

    Breakfast was a fruit smoothie. OJ, frozen banana, and blueberries. It has been so hot. Getting ready in the morning is not fun.  Smoothies. Cold smoothies make mornings much, much better. 

    The airport I am in and out of the most does not have the best dining options. The one sit down restaurant has a chicken sandwich I normally get however last weekend I switched it up with the nachos. They hit the spot. I was so looking forward to getting them again.  Mr. J got hot wings and then ended up nibbling away half of my nachos. 

    Dinner was at my favorite restaurant in Clemson, South Carolina. The Blue Heron always has good food. I got the Ribeye steak with green beans and french fries on the side. 

    Looking at this post I think I need to nix the red meat for the next couple of days.  It was good eating though. 

    I also love the Southern hospitality and manners.  Yes, sir.  Yes, mam. All the men always hold open the doors. Seriously, why do the Northeast states not have the same manners? 

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Caprese Garlic Bread

    Phew, I am tried. It is the best kind of tired though. Mr. J and I took a long weekend and hopped down to Washington DC for a visit with my brother and his family. My nephew was so cute. And although it was super hot and humid we managed to do some exploring at the National Zoo, Old Town Alexandria and my personal favorite Julia Child's kitchen at the American History museum.  It was a great weekend and a bit sad that we are on our way back to Connecticut as this is posting. 

    Before we left we made some amazing summer garlic bread. It was piled high with cheese, tomatoes and some balsamic reduction. I have been against oven use for a while with it being so hot but this bread was definitely worth it. 

    The fresh tomatoes and basil scream summer flavors and blend together with the smoothness of the cheese and balsamic reduction. And I don't know about you but I am a bit obsessed with garlic bread in general.  The garlic taste is still flavorful in combination with the other ingredients. 

    I could eat this every day for the next month.  You can serve this as a side or as an appetizer but we just had it for dinner.  

    Yep. Both halves. All gone. One night.  

    Cheesy Tomato Garlic Bread

    by Emily Morris and Two Peas and Their Pod
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Keywords: bake appetizer basil cheese garlic tomato
    Ingredients (serves 4)
    • 1 loaf Italian bread, horizontally cut in half
    • 4 tablespoons salted butter
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
    • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place both sides of the baguette on a large baking sheet with the cut side up.

    Combine butter and garlic in a small bowl and spread evenly on bread halves. Place the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the bread, making sure the cheese covers the bread completely. Bake the bread for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

    As the bread is baking, make the balsamic reduction. Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring the vinegar to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by about half, about 7-10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

    When the cheese is all melted and starting to bubble, remove the bread from oven.
    Top the bread with tomato slices, salt and pepper, fresh basil and drizzle with balsamic reduction to taste. Cut into slices and serve.
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    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    What I am reading lately...

    It has been a while since I wrote about what I have been reading lately. I have several I want to let you know about. No time like the present to jump right in.

    The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings, the author of The Descendants, is a novel about Sarah St. John. Three months ago she lost her twenty one year old son, Cully, in an avalanche. She is just starting to go back to work and figure out how to continue with life.  Her father tries to distract her with various QVC purchases.  Her best friend is struggling with her own messy divorce.  

    While cleaning out Cully's room she uncovers details of his life she knew nothing about. These details bring up more grief and questions about her abilities as a mother when Cully was alive. Family, friends and even strangers help Sarah find direction in her life. 

    The book is sad but not sappy and portrays love, friendship and overcoming grief. The book reads smoothly and fast. I got done with the whole thing in one flight. 

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    4th of July Recap and WIAW

    I hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend.  It ended up pouring here all day Friday so Mr. J and I watched a lot of tv and had fun lounging on the couch. The weekend was beautiful though. We got our 4th celebrations in with a parade, a BBQ, and some fireworks. 

    We also got some house work done. Over the winter our front door got a huge crack in it. This weekend we got a new one. Now I just need to paint it. Looks good huh?  We also started replacing our windows. Two down. Twenty some to go.

    And no summer weekend is complete with out some grilling. We made lots and lots of kabobs to feed the hungry family. They were so good. I don't know why we don't make them more often.

    This week I took a quick trip to Iowa. Lucky for me I got in and out dodging all of the severe storms.  Breakfast at the hotel was some cereal. A mix of raisin bran and Cheerios.

    Lunch was in a cute little Victorian house. You could order a mini burger and salad. It hit the spot perfectly.

    I didn't have a long layover so I grabbed some fried rice to eat on the plane. It was actually one of the better airport meals I have gotten lately. I ate in on the plane though and I smelled Chinese for the whole 3 hour flight. I hope my neighbors weren't annoyed. 

    I took a bit of break blogging the last few days. It wasn't planned that way but it was not to shut down for a bit. I have a few posts coming up but I think for the rest of summer things will be a bit slower around here. 

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

    Chopped Greek Salad

    I have been living on salad lately. It got hot and humid in Connecticut.  Oven use and really anything that takes lots of effort is just not going to happen.  

    I have been making a salad mix on Sunday and then having it for lunch all week long.  Genius I tell you.  Prepping on Sunday and packing it into single serving containers makes for the easiest no thought grab and go lunch ever. And it is delicious. 

    This chopped Greek salad was a snap to put together. A can of garbanzo beans and a handful of your favorite chopped veggies - cucumbers, tomatoes, and some peppers. And I don't know about you but I cannot call something Greek without some feta cheese. 

    Toss it all together and stir in the dressing.  Yum, yum and yum. No lettuce means no worrying about wilting greens. I enjoyed this salad served just like this or also as a topping for greens later in the week. 

    The dressing is just enough to bring all of the flavors together but not overwhelming in and of itself. 

    My only problem is that Mr. J will not eat garbanzo beans.  So this salad left all for me. I guess this might not be such a problem after all.  

    Chopped Greek Salad

    by Emily Morris
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Keywords: raw salad
    Ingredients (serves 4)
    • 1 hothouse cucumber
    • 4-5 ripe roma tomatoes
    • 1 large red bell pepper
    • 1 small red onion
    • 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1/2 cup feta crumbles
    For the Dressing:
    • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tsp. oregano
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    Make the dressing: in a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Set aside.
    Dice the cucumber, onion, bell pepper and tomatoes (removing any excess liquid from tomatoes).
    Put vegetables and garbanzo beans in a large bowl.
    Add dressing and toss to combine.
    Can eat immediately or refrigerate to let flavors combine. Stir before serving.
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