05 November 2011

Sweet Potato Hash

This here is the perfect meal to put you in the mood for fall.  Its heartiness and slight sweetness give it a surprising richness.  It is rustic, which here is an endearing quality. It makes you want to curl up in front of the fire, or go play in a pile of leaves.  And it is easy to make.  Need I say more?!

I got all of the ingredients for this in my last CSA basket of the season.  So it was easy for me to throw together.  I know the combination of spices sounds odd, but I promise they work brilliantly together.  When I found this recipe, I knew it would be perfect.  I stumbled across it looking for some more variety in my sweet potato recipes.  Don't get me wrong, I love my spicy roast sweet potatoes, but thats about all I ever make with them.

25 October 2011

Applesauce Muffins

Since Jonathan and I started dating, he's always talked about the applesauce muffins his mom bakes.  When I made applesauce last week, he saw that as the perfect opportunity for me to try out this muffin recipe.

He thinks they came out perfectly, but I would have made a few changes.  I think these got over baked.  We cooked the second batch for less time and they came out a lot better.  I think I would also adjust some of the seasonings.  These were heavier on allspice than I like, so I would have taken that down a little bit.  This is completely personal preference, I've never really been a fan of it.  Finally, I think these would be good with nuts mixed in or topped with granola to give them a little crunch.

19 October 2011

Apple Sauce

This past week in my CSA, I got a ton of great fall produce, including 2 bags of apples.  I found a great applesauce recipe on smitten kitchen baby (don't laugh, it is delicious) and was excited to have so many apples sitting around to make this applesauce.  This will only save in the fridge for a week or two, but you can freeze it in ice trays or in small tupperware containers so you only have to defrost a small amount at a time.

There is not much more I can say about this applesauce.  It is so much better than the sore bought stuff, it is sugar free so it is very healthy.  Basically we have apple puree with a couple other flavorings added.  

17 October 2011

Red Wine Cupcakes

I love wine.  I love chocolate.  I really like pairing red wine with chocolate.  Back in the fall, I decided it would be fun to make a red wine chocolate cupcake.  I know it sounds a little crazy, but if the flavors go together so well, why not try to turn them into a cupcake?  Since I don't really have a reason to bake very often (why make a whole batch of cupcakes just for myself?), I sorta forgot about this idea.  Until February, that is, when there was an episode of Cupcake Wars where they had to use wine in their cupcakes.  

So I did some research and saw that there are several red wine chocolate cupcakes floating around the internet.  For the most part they are all pretty similar, but not quite what I wanted.  I started combining the recipes and finally settled on a recipe that I really liked.  I also combined several frosting recipes to get the flavor I wanted.  I thought they tasted awesome.  You don't get a strong wine flavor (for those of you who don't like wine as much as me), but you get a light yet fudgy cupcake with an unusual zing.  And the mascarpone in the frosting really rounds out the flavor of the cupcake.  I recommend using a big, slightly spicy wine.  I have cinnamon in the frosting that compliments a spicy wine very nicely.  But it also works with a lighter red.  Just make sure to use something you like to drink, or ask the clerk at the wine store for something good and versatile in your price range.

23 September 2011

Peach and Blueberry Sauce

I've started eating a lot of applesauce lately.  It is delicious, healthy, and convenient.  Well, the unsweetened kind is healthy.  Last Halloween, I made my first batch of homemade applesauce to use in an applesauce cake to take to a party.  And I just didn't realize how easy it was to make applesauce!  I mean... you plop some apples, water, and whatever flavoring you want to use in a pot, cook for half an hour, then puree.  And voila... applesauce!

So a couple days ago, I found myself browsing smitten kitchen and stumbled across a recipe for peach sauce.  I have a TON of peaches in the freezer from the CSA this summer.  And these peaches are so sweet they don't need any sugar.  Perfect for making a healthy fruit puree!

22 September 2011

The 100

Great news!  I am finally out of my boot!  I am not allowed to go full-force back into my workouts, but I am able to build back up to what I was doing before.  Luckily, I only had minor muscle atrophy in my left calf, and tightness in my ankle.  So there is not too much I have to build back, and I got a list of exercises from the physical therapist to regain the muscle and mobility.

I won't share the physical therapist workout, because that would be super boring.  But I will share one of my favorite quick at-home workouts.  My goal is to work back up to it by the end of next week.  Be warned: this will kick your butt.  But in a fun way!  The first time I did this, I wanted to quit after the first set of leg lifts.  But the end was way easier after pushing past that first hurdle.

The only change I make is that when Callie comes with me, I turn that last step into a 20 minute walk, because Callie really isn't very good at running on a leash.

So here it is, The 100:
100 jumping jacks
90 crunches
80 squats
70 leg lifts
60 jumping jacks
50 crunches
40 squats
30 leg lifts
20 jumping jacks
10 minute run

And then go pass out because your butt has been kicked.

06 September 2011

Homemade Greek Yogurt

I apologize yet again for the huge break in postings.  You see, a few days after my last post, I broke one of the bones in my foot playing with Callie.  It has been very difficult for me to spend a lot of time cooking since cooking requires standing, and standing is difficult without the use of one foot.  And I haven't been able to do a lot of working out, except the playing card workout described in the last post, since every workout I know is basically impossible with a cast on your foot.  This means no blog posts for you guys.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I read online about how to make homemade greek yogurt.  I am a HUGE fan of greek yogurt, I eat it all the time.  It is fat free or very low in fat, has twice the protein of regular yogurt, and typically has a lot less sugar and other additives.  But it gets really expensive, the kind I eat is close to $4 for a 16oz container.  So if there is a way to make it at home cheaper, I'm all in!  And it was an easy process that required minimal cooking.  It takes a while, but thats mostly just letting the cultures in the yogurt do their job.  And it was delicious!  My first batch got some water mixed in from when I strained it, so it didn't get as thick as the store bought kind, but I'm ok with that.

16 August 2011

A Change Moving Forward

I know this is a cooking/food blog, but starting today I am venturing from that theme a little bit.  Oh, there's still food here, don't get me wrong, but there are going to be a few more "lifestyle" posts as well, focused mainly on exercise.

Its a constant challenge for me to find a balance between delicious, often quick dinners with healthy food.  And find time to exercise within my busy schedule and usually tight budget.  I've been trying to lose a few pounds this summer, which has been an added challenge.  I feel like I've always eaten pretty healthy, and have become really frustrated with my inability to keep off the weight I lost last summer (in fact, I put on every pound I lost, plus a few extra).  I know I have a huge sweet tooth and I love southern food... but I also love fruits and veggies and try to keep fruits and veggies as about 75% of my diet.

So at the beginning of the summer, Jonathan and I set out to lose weight together (and by together I mean both on the same program and keeping each other posted long distance) on Weight Watchers.  We both signed up for Weight Watchers Online, and the weight has just been following off Jonathan.  Not so much for me... It has been very discouraging.

I figure there are other people out there with the same struggles (maybe even some who might read my blog occasionally, hint hint, you know who you are!).  And I have come across a lot of other blogs that focus on healthy food and exercise of some sort (yoga, running, whatever).  I've also found that I hold myself more accountable when other people know that I am supposed to be doing whatever workout, and I think the same jut may be true for other people out there.  So here's the plan: I am going to aim for posting some new or interesting workout occasionally, around once or twice every month.  And let you know how it worked for me.  I like having a lot of options... variety is the spice of life!

Today I give you... the Playing Card Workout

11 August 2011

Crisp Flatbread with Goat Cheese and Peaches

Last summer, while I was studying abroad, I missed the entirety of NC peach season.  No biggie, you say, they're just peaches.  But what you don't understand is that peaches are my favorite food.  Hands down.  There isn't anything I would rather eat (except maybe chocolate... then I would just put some chopped chocolate on my peaches!).  So this summer I've been making up for last year's lost peach time, and I added peaches to my CSA order.  So I get 12-18 peaches every week.  Yummy!

But what I don't know is why I've been obsessed with the combination of peaches and goat cheese this summer.  I feel like any time I want a quick lunch, I smear some crackers with goat cheese and slice a peach.  Maybe its because I have an abundance of peaches this summer...  Whatever the reason, I keep trying to find different ways to combine these flavors.  

09 August 2011


Until a couple of weeks ago, I never had much interest in gazpacho.  Gazpacho is a cold tomato-based vegetable soup, that has about a million variations.  I had no real opposition, I knew it was a really healthy, light meal.  I knew it would be great for the summer.  And I know every season on top chef there are 4 or 5 versions of it (that and ceviche).  It just always seemed weird to eat what basically looked like cold salsa.  

But a couple of weeks ago, I saw a picture of gazpacho that looked delicious!  It was thick, with a few chunks of veggies, but mostly smooth.  It was topped with more chopped veggies, chopped avocado, sour cream, grilled shrimp, and served with a slice of grilled bread.  I had almost everything for it in my fridge, and it seemed easy enough to make.  And I have been hooked on it ever since.

05 August 2011


Congrats to Devon and Brian, who were married this evening.  It was a beautiful wedding, and I am so excited for this new chapter in their lives!

31 July 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

I know, that last thing you guys want to hear about in the middle of bathing suit season is an indulgent dessert.  But this is DELICIOUS.  Its chocolate and peanut butter.  Its crunchy and creamy.  How could that go wrong?!?  And because this is so rich, you don't need to eat much, just a few bites will do.

This is a 3-layer dessert bar.  It has a crunchy caramel-y crust, topped with a creamy chocolate peanut butter layer.  Then that is topped with a final layer of chocolate.  YUM!

17 July 2011

Summertime Treats

With high temperatures topping out over 90 every day, I've been in the mood for frozen goodies.  And it doesn't help that every recipe resource I look at has tons of recipes for popsicles and ice creams and frozen yogurts (oh my!).  But I don't have an ice cream maker or popsicle molds.  So I've been wondering if I could take any recipe for a frozen treat (popsicle, frozen yogurt, ice cream) and make it in a different format, as a popsicle or granita.  It would give me a lot more flexibility

So I took 2 recipes, one for a popsicle and one for frozen yogurt, and made granitas out of them.  I would say that, overall, the experiment was a success.  One recipe was chunky, and it didn't do well as a granita (which is sorta what I expected), but it froze into a nice texture being stirred occasionally.  The other worked out very well as a granita.  Both would work great as popsicles.

What I learned from all of this is that I could take any recipe for a frozen treat and make in a format other than what was suggested in the recipe.

Grilled Pizza, 2 Ways

Over the fourth of July weekend, Jonathan and I went to visit his family in Asheville.  It was an awesome weekend, I love visiting Asheville!  One of the evenings we were there, Jonathan and I made grilled pizzas for everyone.  I think grilled pizza is one of the most fun dinners that I know how to cook.  Once all the ingredients are assembled, its really quick to make.  The crust gets nice and crispy, almost like a flatbread.  And the grill adds a phenomenal smoky flavor to the pie.  I also like that it is a really freeform dish, it looks super rustic.

I picked up a growler of Fullsteam Summer Basil Farmhouse Ale to go with the pizza.  Its a really good summery beer with just a hint of basil flavor.  The basil gives it a good little zing.  Ever since I tasted this beer last year, I've been wanting to drink it with grilled pizza.

Black Bean Burgers

A couple days ago, I decided to cook vegetarian.  I do this a few times a week, but it usually isn't very interesting.  This time, however, I tried my hand at black bean burgers.  I've made them several times before, but they are always really finicky.  Too much or too little moisture, and the patties won't stay together when you cook them.  Too little binding and the patties will fall apart, too much and they won't really be black bean-y.  And the patties are incredibly delicate.  You have to get a good sear in order to flip them in one piece, but you don't want to burn them.

13 July 2011

Roast Beet Salad

A couple weeks ago, I got beets in my CSA basket.  I've always thought beets were really pretty - they have super vibrant colors (red, yellow, orange, pink) and the insides have an almost swirly pattern when you cut them open.  But I've only even eaten beets once, let alone cooked them.  The one time I've eaten beets, they were served with warm goat cheese, candied walnuts, and honey.  

I wasn't a huge fan of the beets in that dish (they were boiled), but I know that roasting deepens the flavor and caramelizes the sugar in a lot of semi-sweet vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, etc).  So I decided to roast my beets to see if I liked them a little better.  I've heard of roast beet salads from several cool chefs, so I figure what better to do with my roast beets?  And, I ended up really liking this.  Enough to make it again sometime for sure.

Tex-Mex Tabbouleh

Jonathan has been doing SO well with eating well this summer, I try to let him pick out the recipes when we cook together.  This one, in particular, was a winner.  When we made it, we didn't have a ripe avocado, so we just made it without.  And for anyone who reads this regularly or eats with me regularly, you know that this is a flavor combination that I use ALL THE TIME.

While bulgur wheat is traditional in tabbouleh, I substituted quinoa in this recipe because (a) quinoa makes it a heartier, gluten-free salad, with a less commonly used grain, and (b) my grocery store had quinoa and no bulgur wheat.  OK, so the real reason I made this substitution is that there wasn't any at my grocery store.  But let's pretend it was for all those other cool reasons.

12 July 2011

Sorry for the Break, Again

I apologize for the month-long break from posting.  I don't really have a good excuse this time... I've just been super busy.  But I am finally back in Newport News for more than 4 days, so I am going to try to catch up on the posts over the next week.  But I have some pretty tasty recipes lined up for you!

09 June 2011

CSA, Week 2

I just picked up my second CSA order.  Zina, the woman who runs the CSA, gave us 3 shares instead of the 2 we had ordered this week.  So I have LOTS of extra veggies to try to use up.  If you have any suggestions, holler!

This week, I also got the first delivery of my meat share.  Looking forward to digging in!

Here's what I got:
- 11 (!) pickling cucumbers
- 3 beefsteak tomatoes (double the size of my fist)
- 3 summer squash
- 1.5 lbs strawberries
- 10 NC peaches (Mmmmmmmmm....)
- enough green beans for 4 people
- a bag of mustard spinach
- enough new potatoes for 4 people
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1.5 lbs beef cube steak
- 1 dozen eggs

08 June 2011

Summer Fruit Cake

One of the interesting things about CSAs is that I have to figure out a way to use up all the produce I get each week.  In the past, I've planned meals for a couple of days then gotten just what I needed for those meals.  But now, I have some produce leftover that either I haven't found a use for, or I am unfamiliar with.  This week, my elusive "leftovers" have been beets, peaches, and blueberries.  The beets I will get to tomorrow.

But the peaches and blueberries I could take care of tonight.  A couple of days ago, I saw a recipe for a strawberry cake that looked absolutely dreamy.  I didn't have strawberries sitting around.  So I used the peaches and blueberries I had in the fridge.  I changed up the cake recipe a bit too - added some cinnamon and brown sugar.  I LOVE the combination of cinnamon, brown sugar, and peaches.  With this combination of fruit, I would add some cornmeal into the batter.  It would make it a bit heartier.  Cornmeal cakes make me think of southern food, and it makes me think of a blueberry corn muffin that I really like.  This also makes a delicious breakfast!

05 June 2011

Creole Butter Beans

For the past few days, I've been un-enthusiastically searching for good sounding recipes for butter beans.  I got them in my CSA last week, and was excited about them until I discovered that butter beans is just another name for lima beans.  I've never met a lima bean that I actually liked.  In fact, I've hated them since I was a kid.

So what in the world was I going to cook with them.  In searching online, I found a lot of recipes for cajun or creole butter beans.  They all had pretty much the same ingredients - onions, peppers, cajun seasoning, tomatoes, hot sauce, sausage - and I figure if you throw enough of those goodies into a recipe, it'll make anything taste good.  The other problem I had with creole butter beans was that it's a thick, hearty stew-like dish.  Its been close to 100 degrees all week, a stew is the last thing I am in the mood for.

02 June 2011

CSA is Finally Here!

I got the first delivery of my first CSA last night, and I couldn't be more excited! 

For those of you unfamiliar with this type of program, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Basically, you buy a share in a local farm, then every week or two you get a basket of goodies from the farm.  Given their recent surge in popularity, there all sorts of options out there.  Some programs require you to do some amount of work on the farm.  Some programs deliver while others make you pick up your goodies at the farm.  Some even let you go online ahead of time and choose what types of veggies you want that week.

The CSA I joined (A Country Affair Farm in Williamsburg, VA) gives me enough produce for 2-3 people each week, and I pick it up at a restaurant near my apartment.  I don't get to pick what I get each week, but I don't have to do any work up at the farm.

01 June 2011

Memorial Day Cookout!

I took the long weekend to go visit my family down in North Carolina.  It was a great break!  Callie got to spend the weekend with her favorite playmate.  As an added bonus, some family friends were at the house for dinner Sunday night.  

My dad decided we needed cookout food since it was a holiday weekend, even though they weren't over on Memorial Day.  So I took over preparing dinner and drinks.  The usual dishes were there - sour cream potato salad, corn, baked beans, brisket, sweet tea - along with some things I wanted to make - sangria, watermelon lemonade, vinaigrette-based potato salad, and grilled fruit salad.

24 May 2011

Beer Can Chicken

This is my favorite way to roast chicken.  It seems to be the only way I can manage to make a moist, flavorful roast chicken.  It works really well on the grill or in the oven.  My grill is too small for this, so I always make it in the oven and it work just fine.  Its great for tailgating, and it puts me in a summery mood any time I make it.

My kitchen helpers
I really love that this is super simple to make.  It can be seasoned any way you like, but I typically use a basic poultry or barbecue rub.  Whats important is the process.  Because of that, this post will be formatted different that normal.

10 May 2011

Fro Yo

During beach vacations, I always want ice cream.  They just go together.  But I want something a little healthier, as I'm trying to get in better shape for the summer.  So here's a good substitute (thanks Meredith, for the idea!).  And I love that's its tangy, fat free, and super easy to make.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Makes 1 quart
2 c strawberries
1/2 c sugar
1 lemon
1 big container Greek yogurt (I use fat free)
1 T vanilla
1/2 c chocolate chips
Chop strawberries and mix with sugar and lemon.  Let sit for 2 hours.  Use a potato masher or fork to slightly mash strawberries.  Stir in vanilla and yogurt.  Pour into prepared ice cream maker and let set.  About 5 minutes before frozen yogurt is ready, add chocolate chips.

09 May 2011

Chicken Fajita Salad

Cinco de Mayo was this past Thursday, and I had a final the following morning.  I was bummed.  I really like margaritas, and I LOVE Mexican/Tex-Mex/Spanish food.  So I decided that even if I couldn't go out and have a good time, I would at least make some Cinco de Mayo-inspired food.

I found a fajita recipe online that had a marinade very similar to the tequila lime chicken that I make occasionally.  On a side note, the thing I don't like about my tequila lime chicken is that it takes 12 hours to marinate, so I have to decide the night before that I am going to be making it.  The base recipe I have also serves 8 people, which is approximately 7 more than I am usually cooking for.  So I don't make this as much as I would like.

The recipe that inspired this meal was for a chicken and steak fajita, and was supposed to be served with a homemade salsa.  It also wasn't as spicy as I typically like.  Now, I expected this, since the recipe was written/posted by an Italian chef (ahem: Giada) on the food network, so we aren't talking about the queen of spicy food.  But that's an easy adjustment to make - I just added some extra heat to the marinade.

02 May 2011

Grilled Ratatouille

For some reason, I've always been interested in ratatouille.  Maybe its because of the name... let's be honest, ratatouille is just fun to say!  Actually, it is because of the name.  Because as I think about it, I've never really known what ratatouille is.  I've always known it is a French veggie dish, but not much more than that.  I've learned that ratatouille is just a fancy name for roasted (or stewed or grilled) vegetable salad.  It always seems like the French like to keep around fancy names for really simple, commonplace dishes.  But I suppose if they invented the dish, they can call it whatever they want!

I was watching the Food Network this weekend (at 7am... thanks, Callie) and Rachael Ray was making ratatouille.  Granted, this was a beefed up Rachael Ray version of ratatouille.  This is ok sometimes, but it struck me as heavy, even though it was completely vegetarian.  And its PERFECT grilling weather out, I just don't feel like eating a rich, hearty stew.  So I got to looking into some more ratatouille recipes online, and I found one from Bobby Flay that looked absolutely delicious.

01 May 2011

Apology + Tidbit

Sorry I fell off the face of the earth for the last month!  As many of you know, I have a new four-legged addition to my family, and she has demanded a whole lot of my time the last few weeks.  It is also the end of the semester, so I've been busy with my course work.

But I thought that if anyone is still checking this regularly (can't blame you if not... its been a little boring for a while), I'll throw up a simple recipe to keep you checking back.  No pictures or anything, since I didn't think about this until after I already ate dinner.  I had marinated grilled chicken breast, with a simple pasta salad.  Its simple and healthy, both of which have been meal goals of mine lately.  Simple because Callie doesn't allow me much cooking time, and I think the healthy part is obvious.

23 March 2011

White Bread

I've toyed around with the idea of homemade bread several times.  I love baking, especially from scratch, but bread is another creature all together.  What with the kneading and the rising, there are so just too many ways I could mess up.  Plus its such a lengthy process!  I'm not home long enough to mix dough, knead, let rise a few hours, knead some more, shape the bread, let rise again, bake, cool, blah, blah, blah...

Enter the recipe that inspired this post!  All this headache with trying to bake homemade bread, and I still try every once in a while.  But just last week, there was a batter-based bread on smitten kitchen.  There is still a bit of waiting involved, but no kneading and very little chance of overworking the flour.  This recipe was for sally lunn bread, which had a much debated history.  From what I've been able to figure out, this bread is named for either a French Protestant cake called "soleil lune" or a type of bun made by a baker in England.  Plus, the bread on her site included a fantastic-looking honey butter spread.  How could I resist honey butter spread?

22 March 2011

Spicy Tuna

The other night, I was in the mood for sushi.  Shocker, I know, since I am always in the mood for sushi.  But I didn't really feel like going out for dinner (plus I still haven't found good cheap sushi around here).  So I decided to try out a spin on a recipe I saw in last month's Fitness magazine.  The article was about healthier versions of popular take-out dishes.  One of the feature recipes was their take on a spicy tuna roll.  

The reason spicy tuna rolls made their "naughty list" was because of the white rice and mayo typically found in the rolls.  This version skipped the rice and used a low fat mayo.  Technically, this wasn't sushi or sashimi, as the tuna was seared, but it certainly filled the same flavor profile and satisfied my sushi craving.  And it was quick, easy, and healthy.  

17 March 2011

Vacation + Zucchini Fritters

I apologize for being totally absent for the last week and a half.  I went on a much needed vacation over spring break last week (Raleigh and Atlanta!) and have had midterms to deal with.  Atlanta was a great break from school and work, but the trip was over way too quickly.  I had some of the best food I've ever eaten on the trip as well... Top Chef contestants Kevin Gillespie and Richard Blais both run restaurants in Atlanta, and we were able to eat at both.  

02 March 2011


I've been on a long search for the perfect hummus.  I've tried several different recipes, but they always turn out mealy or tasting too much like olive oil or tahini.  I've even made a few that turned out almost waxy.  So I always end up eating a couple of bites of my homemade hummus, then going back to store bought.

If you've never had it before, hummus is a delicious middle eastern dip made from chick peas (garbanzo beans), olive oil, and tahini (sesame seed paste).  The tahini  you buy at the grocery store will separate into layers of paste and oil, similar to natural peanut butter.  Just stir it up before you use it.

I especially love roasted red pepper hummus.  Its like a delicious cross of hummus and salsa!  So when I stumbled across this recipe, and had all the ingredients in my pantry, I had to try it out.  It even features sriracha, one of my absolute favorite ingredients!  If you don't like sriracha or don't want your hummus spicy, you can use another hot sauce or leave it out altogether.  With the little amount that gets added here, its not hot as much as just a warm flavor.