Monthly Archives: March 2010

finally grocery shopped!

Last night Tobie and I had the apartment to ourselves, so I decided to get some grocery shopping and meal prep done for the week . I love having a stocked fridge!!

I have a baby shower at work on Thursday that I volunteered to make cookies. Yes- me + baking again… This time I went for what I’ll call semi-homemade. I purchased Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix. To “spice” them up, I decided to add a bit of vanilla to the batter and add frosting. 

I made a quick Royal Frosting which consists of vanilla, egg whites and confectioners sugar (I usually per batch use 1 egg white and enough confectioners sugar to get to the consistency I want). PS. I also invested in some food dye 🙂

End result- Less messy than my lemon cookie event earlier in the month. Getting there 🙂

For dinner, I decided to make enough for my lunch tomorrow and Perry’s dinner on Thurs (I’ll be out for a girl’s night).  Tomatoes and mozzarella were on sale at the grocery store (buy one get one free), so I decided to make a quick caprese salad.

I also picked up a basil plant. I love fresh herbs, but struggle to buy them everytime I make a dish. Having a herb garden is so fresh and convenient- I hope to have a nice little one on my deck this spring/summer.

For the dressing, I like to use a the typical Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper mix, but with a bit of honey (sweet tooth kicking in). Be careful to only add a taste!

I also made whole wheat pita sandwiches. I marinated some eggplant in a white balsamic vinegrate/oil mix, which I roasted in the oven. I then layered some of the left over mozzarella (I planned to use goat cheese, but I needed to use up the mozz), roasted red peppers, basil, spring greens and the roasted eggplant and put the sandwiches in the oven long enough to just let the cheese melt.

The sandwich was good, but I think I’d like it on a panani better- at least this was healthier!

– jess

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Hershey’s Better Basket Blog Hop

Hey guys!

Ashley from Daily Goods invited all of her blogger friends to join Hershey’s Better Basket Blog Hop.  Hershey has been partnered with the Children’s Miracle Network for over 20 years. And they started the Better Basket Blog Hop in which they donate $10 for each blog participating in the Blog Hop to the Children’s Miracle Network, up t0 $5,000 for blog posts written by April 4, 2010.

In order to participate you have to create a blog post giving another virtual Easter Basket to another blogger and link back to the person who originally gave you the basket.

Here’s the detailed rules so that you can make a difference:

  • Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
  • Create a blog post giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
  • Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
  • Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.
  • Leave your link at BetterBasket.info/BlogHop comment section. You can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop, and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s there.
  • Hershey’s is donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network (up to total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4th, 2010).
  • Please note that only one blog post by each blog url will count towards the donation.

Being bloggers we are part of an amazing community. We have amazing readers and friendships that started all because we started blogging. Let’s use this power to create a difference and help others.

I am inviting ALL of my fellow bloggers who want to make a difference. It will take 10 minutes out of your time. Every post helps, and will add money to the Children’s Miracle Network fund.

We can make a difference

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grapes and pistachios?

So, I haven’t been eating that well this week. Most of my meals were take- out or quick on the go. I can even admit that I had french fries and bin candy for lunch yesterday.
 
 
 
I had MALL FOOD on Wed: Bistro Sensations 1/2 salad 1/2 sandwich– I love their reduced fat balsamic salad dressing.  I usually pick the same 4 veggies – sun dried tomatoes, corn, broccoli and beets. The mozzarella pita sandwich is always really dry- I think I’ll try a soup next time.
 
Last Night (Thursday) Dinner- Pei Wei (affiliated with PF Changs) – It’s right down the street and had never tried it before! I ordered Pei Wei Spicy Tofu and Veggies with brown rice to go (you’ll have to imagine it since I forgot to take a photo). It was soooo spicy, but the sauce also had a nice sweet kick. Perry ordered a salad with chicken and they forgot his chicken!
 
My friend Kyle thought he’d get crafty last night and eat pistachios and grapes together for the sweet and salty effect. Anyone have any odd, yet tasty combinations to share?

-Jess

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college friends and fondue

I spent a relaxing weekend outside of Phili with some friends from college. Saturday afternoon was gorgeous.  My friend Shawna and I drove up from Baltimore and met our friends Jamie, Clover and Lydia around 2pm for lunch.  We found outdoor seating at a local restaurant called http://www.solarisgrille.com/. They were a bit understaffed for the lunch rush, but we was just happy to have a seat outside and time to catch up.

Hummus Platter to share

A bit too greasy vegetable eggrolls

For dinner, Jamie (our host) planned a fondue dinner.  She was prepared with a Melting Pot cookbook and a Cuisinart fondue pot (I think I need to step my fondue game up; I only have a tiny pot that you have to light).

She made a cheddar fondue (w/ Worcestershire, horseradish, dry mustard and beer!) and then a chocolate/caramel/peanut butter combination for dessert. Needless to say we were stuffed.

Last night, I prepared some chicken salad for lunch. I substituted Greek yogurt for the usual mayonnaise and tofu for the chicken. I made the mistake of buying silken tofu, which crumbles easily. I won’t do that again (yuck!).

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OPA!!

Another successful Trader Joe’s purchase! Ahi Tuna steak is a favorite of Perry’s and I admit I’ve never bought it before for him. My dad is an avid fisherman and always brings home fish during the in-season. So I really never have had the urge to buy fish from the market. I made an exception this time.

I marinated the fish in teriyaki sauce and let it sit, while I made some sides. There was left-over ricotta from my pizza night and some button mushrooms in the fridge for stuffed mushrooms. I softened the mushrooms in the oven first and made the filling from ricotta, seasoned breadcrumbs and the mushrooms tips. I filled the mushrooms and put them back in the oven to finish cooking. I then pan fried the fish for about 6 minutes on each side. For greens, a quick salad with the left over spring greens and a quick balsamic dressing. Within 45 min dinner was ready!

 

I wanted some wine with dinner, so I pulled out something that the local liquor store owner suggested. It’s called McGuigan Black label and is a sparkling red wine. He said that he has it every year with Thanksgiving dinner. I won’t be buying this one again. I assumed it would be sweet, but was oddly not.

I went out to Ryleigh’s in Federal Hill Md on Wednesday for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s on the main strip of bars, but in my opinion stands out for 2 reasons: The Blood Orange Crush (twist on the Orange crush found easily around here) and a great menu with better than bar food. Ryleigh’s even has an oyster bar with a guy shucking fresh ones- I always worry he’s going to cut his hand!

I had trouble finding a vegetarian Irish food option, so I got a Guinness or two to make up for it. I ordered the Fall Veggie sandwich with portabella, sprouts, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, goat cheese- I’ve ordered this a few times before. My sister ordered grilled calamari with chickpea paste, balsamic reduction and roasted red peppers- she really enjoyed it, but it came out a while before the rest of our food, so was a bit cold.

My coworker Christina has a favorite deli near her house in Owings Mills called Gourmet Girls. I decided to go with her for lunch yesterday to give it a try.  She ordered her favorite the OPA and I seconded that. The OPA is an open-faced toasted pita with garlic hummus, roasted tomatoes, feta, cucumbers, red onion, calamata olives and iceberg lettuce. It is absolutely amazing. I’m not sure if it was the roasted tomatoes or the toasty pita that made this variation on a Greek salad so great…or maybe it was their dressing?

-jess

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veggie lovers

I picked up Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough last night. If I’m going to make pizza, I love to smother it will tons of veggies (going against the 2 topping or less rule).

Prep: Spreaded some extra virgin olive oil and tiny bits of garlic on the spread out dough. Then topped with mozzarella and some ricotta. Added a sliced up fresh tomato, artichokes, mushrooms and spinach.

Before

After

I felt the need for a salad on the side, so I made one with some items I had on had- spring mix, cranberries, artichoke and chunks of sharp white cheese.

Successful pizza night 🙂

I bought a 2nd whole wheat pizza dough that I need to use before Sunday- any ideas??

-jess

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Union Jacks

I’ve been waiting patiently for Union Jacks to open in Columbia. Union Jacks is a British Pub in Bethesda and Ballston, MD that is branching into Columbia. It finally just opened and in walking distance for me!

I heard that along with a large selection of beer, Union Jacks will also be focusing on their food menu. I stopped by this Friday (opening night) to give it a try. The place was super crowded for the first night. The hostess told us the kitchen was backed up, so we had to wait to get a table. As we were waiting, we wandered around to see the bar, billiard room and dining room all decked out with British flags, a Telephone booth and a Beatle’s poster. We lucked out and grabbed a seat at the bar, just as a couple was leaving.

Our bartender was very personable and asked for our drink order to start. I felt the need to go British, so I ordered an Amber ale called Jacks. The menu was a mix of American and British dishes.  I decided on the Red Thai Curry Mussels appetizer and Perry went for Crab dip that was made with parmesan and panko bread crumbs.

Proper place setting 🙂

The food came out without much wait at all. I loved my mussels, finishing every last bite and sopping up the sauce with the bread. Perry seemed very happy with the crab dip, clearing the plate as well. I can already see us becoming regulars.

On Saturday, my friends and I went down to Federal Hill, Baltimore for a St. Patrick’s Day fest and my friend Dave’s birthday celebration. It was windy and pouring out, but we still had a blast. I’m glad that I wore my rain boots!

Pub Dog Green Beer

 I was really excited for all the green drink options, but I think Stalking Horse’s green slushie won me over.

Stalking Horse Green Slushie

On Sunday, I went to the Williams & Sonoma baking class with my cousin, Bridget. Sorry no pictures! I was hesitate to take any, since it was taught in the middle of the store. Here’s a peanut butter bar recipe that was shared:

Use your favorite type of peanut butter, either creamy or chunky, to make these yummy bars.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter,
      at room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions:

Before you start
Be sure an adult is nearby to help. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter, then line it with parchment paper, letting it hang over 2 sides.

Start the batter
In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt and stir with a whisk until well blended. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and peanut butter on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Finish the batter
Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Turn off the mixer and add the flour-oat mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended.

Bake and cool
Using the rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the pan and spread it evenly. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until the top of the cookie is golden and looks firm, 25 to 30 minutes.

Ask an adult to help you remove the baking pan from the oven and set it on a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely. Lift the cookie from the pan, dust it with confectioners’ sugar and cut it into 1-by-4-inch bars. Makes 16 bars.

Peanut Butter Bars

The instructer made these bars look so easy to make- I’ll have to try the recipe myself soon!

I’m heading to Trader Joes tonight and will let you know what I find!

– Jess

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