Friday, December 7, 2012

Healthier Mashed Potatoes

Comfort food - meatloaf, green bean casserole and mashed potatoes.  Also known as food for a man's man or a woman who apparently doesn't care about her waist line! I mean I do care, but its so hard to practice self control this time of the year when food and booze I'm not telling you this was the healthiest dinner ever, because clearly it wasn't, but I did lighten up the mashed potatoes by using Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and the hubs said it was the best dinner since Thanksgiving.  I took that as a huge compliment, but now I realize Thanksgiving was only 2 weeks ago not so sure...but still I'll take it.  The meatloaf was: Pioneer Woman's Favorite meatloaf and I used Campbell's green bean casserole recipe so with those 2 things being sure beats for delicious I was willing to take a chance with the potatoes and I am glad I did.  Recipe after the jump!
Sincerely Loving Food,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas!

Toys in every store!
 There are festive mantles

And GT Santas

the best kind

Christmas Trees all a glow

man someone should put a skirt on that tree...

And more Santas

I just love this time of year, putting out all the decorations, fun times with friends, eating so much my pants don't fit, never mind who said that, wine at every party...tonight is my tennis teams' ornament exchange.  It is always such a fun time and usually there is one more bottle of wine than attendee so it is really fun and we play dirty Santa with ornaments - I hope I get a good one.  I am making brie baked in puff pastry with nuts and brown sugar - so good, especially with a glass of merlot.  What is your favorite Christmas party?  
Sincerely Loving Food,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Where did it go?

What?  Tomorrow is the last day of November?  Who saw that coming?  I feel like turkey month flew by, but man it was fun.  When I think back in my mind this is the whirlwind...

The Opening of the new basketball arena at GT

alot of tennis, working alot, trying to recover by sleeping alot... no pics of that boring stuff...

fried at turkey at the GT vs. Duke game

the beach for Thanksgiving and Ralph playing fetch on the beach

And then there's the food...I don't even know where to start with all the food I prepared and ate this month, here are the highlights

And the best part of the month?  The discovery of this drink!  
Originally from the blog - Cooking in College - this was almost my favorite thing to drink at Thanksgiving!  Second only to the gravy, I mean wine...who drinks gravy....anyway hot or cold this is is freaking fall in a glass - apple, caramel, booze - what more could a girl ask for?

I guess that's about it, now its onto chestnuts, open fires, stockings, reindeer, fat men in red coats...Mariah Carey with her boobs out at Rockefeller Center...oh did you not see that, on live television last night?  Literally a butt in the front -  It was absurd!  For crying out loud Mariah you are singing at a Christmas tree lighting in 30 degree weather, not dancing on the pole in Cabo.  Anyway - all I want for Christmas, is to erase the image of Mariah's boobs from my brain....and maybe get some really cute measuring cups, Anthropology style...

Sincerely Loving Food & Looking forward to Christmas!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Single Girl's Ramen

Last night I had Ramen noodles for dinner, yeap that's right like the 99¢ package of sodium enriched, dried out, curly noodles.  But you know what, it was darn good!  The hubs was playing tennis so I didn't have to cook for two, just for myself and I had already taken my bra off  it was cold outside so I wasn't leaving the house, project single girl dinner with ingredients on hand it was.  I found: 2 cremini mushrooms, 1/2 an onion, about 3 inches of usable zucchini and an egg.  DELICIOUS - okay maybe not at first read, but believe me this came out good, like I am planning on making it again good.  I boiled the noodles in water as directed for about 2 minutes and then drained off half of the water, and put the pan back on low heat and separated the noodles with a fork and stirred in the mushrooms, zucchini and onion which I had thinly sliced.  Then I sprinkled about half of the "beef flavoring" in the pan and gave it a good stir.  AND THEN - the piece de resistance (I don't know how to really spell that but it sounds French in my head) I made a little well in the middle of the pan, cracked an egg into it and put the top on.  90 seconds later, the white was set the yolk still looked a little runny and I was ready for the Ramen experience!  I poured it all into a bowl and dug in with a spoon and fork...the egg yolk made a nice sauce over the noodles and veggies and since I had sliced the veggies thin they were cooked just enough, but still retained their flavor.  I am already thinking of what ingredients I will mix into my Ramen next time - and I'll be sure to take a pic.  

Do you like Ramen?  What is your go to single girl dinner?  Ramen may have just taken over tomato soup and grilled cheese for me...And please don't say salad, that is a boring skinny b answer...unless you really like salad, in which case I don't believe you...

Sincerely Loving Food,

Friday, November 2, 2012

For 2: Beef and Bok Choy

If I had to pick one ethnic cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, hands down, without a doubt it would be Chinese food.  I would even eat Chinese food on Christmas if it was allowed, HA - remember that scene in A Christmas Story where the turkey burns and then family ends up at the Chinese restaurant and the wait staff sings FARARARA so funny linked here  if you don't know what I'm talking about go watch.  Anyway...back to the point I like to attempt to make some Chinese, at least inspired, food at home every now and then.  Granted I don't go the whole 9 yards with wonton soup and egg rolls, that would be tots awesome, but it still fills the void of my craving for a little while.  This beef and bok choy dinner came together very quickly, was incredibly flavorful and seems to be healthier than my take out house fried rice.  Recipe after the jump.

What is your favorite ethnic cuisine?  Are you as excited as I am about watching Christmas Story 12 times in the next 2 months?  Have a great weekend!
Sincerely Loving Food,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

For 2: Mussels with Wine and Cream

I love mussels, like when I see them on a restaurant menu I close the menu because there is no doubt that is what I am getting.  I live in Atlanta, not exactly a sea port, so when I was picking up lunch from the hot bar at Whole Foods the other day and saw the 3 pound bag of cultivated mussels on sale I promptly ditched my previous dinner plans and threw the little guys into my cart.  And, no, you cannot ask why I had a cart since I was just picking up lunch from the hot bar.  With the addition of just a few common ingredients and the mandatory slice of crusty bread dinner was served
Recipe after the jump!
Sincerely Loving Food,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall Decor

Almost 2 months ago I wrote about Autumn being just around there corner, well now here we are with 50 degree mornings, leaves changing colors and talks of Halloween costumes and parties in the air.  Unfortunately my Yellow Jackets haven't produced on the field the way I hoped they would, but I am very happy with the way my front porch decor came together.
So for now I will take pride in that, oh and the Falcons first 5-0 start in team history!

Right at the front steps I put a mum ($6 at Kroger) Welcome sign ($12 at hobby lobby - last year) a scare girl ($5 at Big Lots - last year) and a pumpkin ($2.50 at Aldi).
I love buying decor at Hobby Lobby and Big Lots - the prices are fantastic and the goods can be reused from one year to the next!

On the front door I hung a wreath I made with some leaves, pumpkins and fall berries I bought at Michael's when they were having a 40% off fall decor sale
Grand total for this was about $13, sure beats that $45+ ones at Pottery Barn!  Have you decorated for fall?  Obviously I go the "cute" route, but I do love driving past the "scary" decorated houses...that reminds me almost time to carve a pumpkin!
Sincerely Loving Food and Fall,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

For 2: Buffalo Chicken Burgers & Ralph's Birthday Cookout

Just like I said we would, on Friday we grilled out for Ralph's birthday.  It got dark crazy early, silly fall with your early sunset, so my pic is a little dark but we still had tons of fun!  And Ralph can still find the tennis ball even in the dark, so he had fun too - about 2 solid hours of fetch!
The buffalo chicken burgers were tasty, juicy and spicy, but the blue cheese spread cooled them off just enough, and the grilled zucchini strips were the perfect accompaniment. Click "keep reading" below for the burger recipe, and, what is a party without wine?  A pretty lame party in my opinion, so we each had our own bottle, don't judge me it was Friday and a party...Oh and in another effort to keep the party from being lame, there were party hats, or a party hat I guess I should say:
At least for a minute there was...
Sincerely Loving Food,

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Ralph!

So maybe it's a little silly, but today is my little Ralphie's birthday and I am so excited!  He has brought so much joy to our lives and I really can't imagine our home without him.  I think the hubs might be a little scared, considering I have made him a birthday hat, birthday cake and bought him a birthday present, of what will happen when we have an actual child, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.  We got Ralph when he was 7 weeks old, the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year, but were told that he was born on or around October 5th, so we stuck with that date.  Tonight we are going to grill out while watching the braves game and playing an endless game of fetch to celebrate the little guy hitting the 1 year mark.  Here are some of my favorite pics of him through the last fabulous year!

The  first day we met him, 11/21/11, we had to give him back for a week and wait for him to come live with us, it was so hard! 

The first night he was home with us  

One of our first family photos, he was so tired after my Mom's surprise 50th birthday 

 How can you not love that face?  

Me and my boy on Christmas Eve with his Christmas bow  

Look at all of his Christmas toys - can you say spoiled?  

With his favorite toy, which he later tore to shreds, the elephant  

Still his favorite place the ottoman 

The best kitchen helper 

In front of our new couch thinking where is my ottoman, don't worry we put it back 

 In the kitchen once again, thinking please drop something 

His first big dog bone

With is GT Bandana 

Watching the US Open 

The king of the yard 

Looking forward to many more happy memories!

Sincerely Loving Food & my dog Ralph,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

For 2: Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Sauce

Rachael Ray claims to make meals in 30 minutes.  Personally, I have never actually been able to pull one of those off in 30 minutes...maybe its because I can't carry as many things at one time as she can, but that isn't the point.  The point is I really did make this dinner in less than 30 minutes and not only was it fast; it was filling, healthy and delicious.  And, I venture to guess it feed me and hubs (with leftovers for my lunch the next day) for less than $10 - yes this might be the healthiest, most cost effective, loaded with the most adjectives recipe I have ever written.  Toot toot - yes that is me, blowing my own horn.  Here is a picture, but like I have said before, I'm not so good at food pics so just remember this tasted way better than it looks!
What is your favorite type of squash?  Mine changes with the season: yellow crocked neck in spring, zucchini in summer and butter nut and acorn in the fall/winter.  This was my first venture with spaghetti squash and I think it has a promising future at least tied with acorn if not elbowing it out for second!
Sincerely Loving Food,

Monday, October 1, 2012

Easy, delicious, gasp - Healthy - Chicken Salad

I took this chicken salad, smooshed between 2 slices of bread with a piece of provolone, (times 5 cut into triangles) to my tennis match yesterday and no less than 5 people asked me for the recipe so I figured you all might like to give it a whirl as well.  This is a great version of chicken salad to make for a picnic, tailgate, any outdoor party because there is no mayo, which also makes it more waist line friendly :)   I used roasted red peppers and sun dried tomatoes from a jar because I always have them in my pantry or fridge; they are great ingredients to keep on hand as they both add a whole lot of flavor to any dish while keeping the calories low. 
Sincerely Loving Food,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's next? Autumn, that's what!

Where has the summer gone?  Labor day is 2 weeks from Monday - the official end of summer - at least for me anyway.  Time to pack away the white pants and pull out the tailgating gear, yeap that's what signifies the changing of seasons for me - wardrobes and sports...Oh, and I guess food, you know some foods just go with some seasons.  I am so looking forward to fall, football, sweaters, stew for know all the good stuff!  Here are the specific things I am most excited about:

Crafting a wreath inspired by this one for the front door
Printing this
from Antsi-Pants and putting it up somewhere in my house.  The download of the image is free - amazing!

Making this butternut squash gratinthis macaroni and cheese, and this creamy chicken soup.   I know I could make all of these things now, but they just aren't quite as appetizing when it is 89 degrees outside as they will be when it is 69 degrees outside. 

I will be soaking in these last few days of summer before fall starts...even though once "fall starts" it will prorbably still be 90 degrees here in Atlanta, but that's okay, football will have started, I will judge people who are wearing white pants, the new wreath will be hung on the door, and we will be eating a delicious gratin for dinner.
What are you most looking forward to this fall?
Sincerely Loving Food,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Funday

Because it's Friday, thank gawd we finally made it, and because I love fast food, let's have a little dialogue here...I was having  happy hour on Wednesday when my friend Katie posed a very interesting question, "If you could have a create your own value meal from any and all fast food joints, what would your combo be?"  I have to admit I sat quietly, pounding my BudLite Lime for a solid 3 minutes before I opened my french fry loving mouth.  "appetizer: cheese sticks from Arby's, entree: Baconator from Wendy's, fries from McDonald's and for dessert a fried apple pie from The Varsity."  Bam - in my opinion that would be the best value meal of all time.  I know all this food is bad for you and processed and most likely contains a week's worth of sodium, but its not like I am actually ever going to do this, it's just for fun.  We are speaking in hypotheticals here.  I eat salads and veggies and lean protein most of the time, I am just talking about a little splurge of the imagination.  What would your dream combo please?  Come on play along and make me feel like a little less of a piggie...
Sincerely Loving Food,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Garden Progress: The Lowes Down

I think one of the biggest hurdles of having a beautifully landscaped lawn is the cost.  Plants are expensive!  However, with a little TLC and a good bit of water you can get the expensive look for an inexpensive price.  The secret is the clearance "aisle" at your neighborhood Lowe's; sometimes its multiple aisles and sometimes just one or two plants.  I'm sure Home Depot has a clearance spot too, but Lowe's happens to be right around the corner from me so that is what I know about.  For example take a look at this:
This is Camelot Rose Foxglove and see that price tag - $14.98, are you kidding me $15?  But notice the brown crunchy leaves on the side?  Because of those this sucker was marked down to $2!  That's right, about 14% of the original price - 86% off sign me up!  Whenever I go to Lowe's I walk over to the clearance department and check it out.  I look for plants that still have a little bit of green on them; if the plant is all brown and crunchy there isn't much hope.  I also look for $3 or under, there is no real reason for that, it's just my breaking point.  Once I get home I trim off the brown parts, leaving only the green and set the container down in a bucket with about 2 inches of water for at least 3 hours; I prefer to have it soak over night but in a pinch 3 hours is my minimum.  After that I plant the little guy in a hole twice as big as the pot (obviously take the plant out of the pot, just use it as a guide) and back fill it with miracle grow garden soil or something like that, soak the ground around the plant and make sure to water once a day for at least the next 5 days.  Usually by then the plant has bounced back and you will start to see it perk up and look a little "greener" at that point you can reduce watering to 2 or 3 times a week, depending on the plant.  Check the tag that comes with the plant, the backside of it says how much sun, water, etc that specific species needs. 

Don't get me wrong, some will grow and some will die, but that is true whether you spend $2 or $14.95.  But, when you rescue you plant I think it is all the more worth it.  See here's what that Foxglove looks like just 2 weeks later, all the leaves are perky and green and there is even a pink bloom - success!

Sincerely Loving the Garden,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stolen Recipe Success: For 2: Steak Salad

Our house is all about compromise.  We watch Chelsea Lately while we are falling asleep because we watch some stupid ESPN crap Mike and Mike in the morning getting ready for work; we buy 2% milk to settle the whole vs. skim debate, he cleans the toilets and I clean the counter tops.  It works for us.  Same thing happens with a salad for dinner...I like salad for dinner, the way to make it acceptable to a man - top it with a steak.  Specifically The Pioneer Woman's Marinated Flank Steak.  Holy Moly - this was honestly the best home made steak I have ever had, which is saying a lot considering it is about a $5 cut of meat.  The flavors in the marinade all made the meat taste so meaty...sorry I really can't think of a better way to describe it and when cooked on the grill the outside got a crispy char on it...just perfect!  I adapted her recipe just a little, to be able to chop less and watch more TV, and served the steak sliced over a salad with mixed greens and romaine, chopped red bell pepper, green onions, and a few broccoli florets tossed in ranch.  Oh and topped with Feta cheese because cheese makes everything better!  DELICIOUS!!!

Sincerely Loving Food,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

For 2: Turkey Gyros

This was a very exciting week night dinner, especially considering it included ground turkey.  So many times ground turkey is tasteless, boring and well boring, but not this way!

And the picture doesn't even begin to do it justice, note to self next time get the meat in the middle of the frame not the sauce...anyway.  I had gotten some ground turkey on super sale at the market and was bound and determined to do something different with it, not that there is anything wrong with our favorite Mini Turkey Meatloaves, but we have them all the time.  I had driven past a Great Wraps earlier in the day, which really tempted inspired me, so I thought a Gyro was the way to go.  I formed the turkey onto skewers in a flatted oval type shape to make them easier to grill and fit well in the pita, which I highly recommend, but you could just as easily make patties and cook them on the stove top.  For the side dish I made a box of couscous and threw in some cut up olives, half a diced red bell pepper, about 3 chopped green onions, and lemon zest and juice which was delicious.  Along with the pita bread I put some feta cheese, sliced red onion, and "greek sauce" (greek yogurt+greek salad dressing+lemon juice+mint+thyme) on the table for use to each top our Gyro with.  If you like cucumbers you could go the traditional way with tzatziki sauce, but I hate cucumbers, so I made my own sauce.  So have fun with the basic turkey recipe, use your favorite pita and toppings you enjoy but make the turkey, you won't be sorry!
Sincerely Loving Food,

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cucina Viva Review

A new little store has opened around the corner from our house called Savi Market.  Previously on this little plot of land sat an old store called Mom and Pops and it was basically a convenience store that didn't sell gas.  All we ever bought there was beer and ice; it was a little dirty.  Then it closed for a few weeks and opened with a fancy new sign and it was all shiney and they even had some little bistro tables out in front.  Well, come to find out the place is awesome now!  They sell made to order sandwiches, basic groceries and a few "gourmet" items like this risotto
I love traditional risotto and the process of it: toasting the rice, adding wine and broth ladle by ladle until it is the perfect consistency and all of that, but for a week night this little pouch of flavor that you just add broth to and simmer like traditional rice was so convenient!  It didn't have as much mushroom flavor as I would have liked, I really really like mushrooms, but over all it was tasty and did have the true risotto consistency.  This quick side paired with easy skillet chicken and a small green salad was a great dinner that came together in less that 45 minutes - I call it a winner!

Sincerely Loving Food,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Garden Results: First Crop

We got home yesterday from a little visit to FL for the hubs birthday, he is from the Sunshine State, and when I went out back to check the garden I was so happy with what I saw.  I grabbed my pruning shears and harvested all of this:
Obviously we didn't grow the can of non stick spray...I just sat it there so you could would appreciate how freaking huge that zucchini is! The bell pepper is a little under sized, but I think that is due to the zucchini plant keeping the pepper from getting enough sun...I am going to move it tonight.  The crocked neck squash is just perfect.  We are going to eat at least 2 of these things tonight...I will be sure to let you know how I prepared it.  My tomatoes are close, but they weren't quite red enough to be cut off the vine, hopefully within the next week or two...finally garden results, not just progess updates - HOORAY!
Sincerely Loving Food,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Garden Progress

Thanks to some really nice friends, on Saturday morning I was able to go into an old over grown garden and dig up some really nice flowers that were being choked out by weeds.  My friends rent a home in an established neighborhood in Atlanta and the previous owner of the house was obviously very into gardening, like it was beautiful at a point in time and had signs labeling the plants and had some serious money put into it.  Now that the house is being rented, the garden isn't being kept up and some of the flowers were starting to die, which is sad, so they said I could come and get whatever I wanted.  Come Saturday morning off I went armed with trash bags to line the trunk of the car, a shovel and some gloves.  I couldn't fit everything I wanted in the car...lucky for me they said I could come back whenever I wanted.  Selfish I know, but I am saving the plants so my selfishness is for the good of mother earth right...please agree and make me feel better, thanks!  I ended up with about 4 of what I think is a tiger lily that will look like this
and a HUGE clump of lambs ear that I was able to seperate and put in multi locations across the yard as it will grow back really well.  Lambs ear looks like this, and it even feels furry just like the name says it should
As a reminder our back yard has a patio level which is where most my work this spring has been taking place.  The patio would be at the top of the long part of a capital L and the side of the house/airconditioning unit at the end of the short part of the L.  Maybe this will help you get the lay of the land...

Here is what the "short side of the L" looked like in the beginning of April, sort of a mess, pieces of some old mini wood fence, weeds everywhere, just not very pretty
Here is the same area at the beginning of May, a little cleaned up, no weeds, some flowers planted are starting to grow and we added some chairs (only one is pictured for some weird reason though)
And here is the long part of the L at the beginning of May, this is right after we built the raised beds, planted some seedlings and move the pots so they get the full sun they need

And finally here is what it looks like today!  Flowers growing, no weeds, there is some new lambs ear right in the middle, slowly but surely it is becoming beautiful!  The new tiger lilies are right in front of the air conditioner, but still a little hard to see as they were a little droopy from the move.  They should bounce back in a week or two though!
Long side, zucchini, squash, peppers and tomatoes growing in the raised beds.  Lambs ear running down the right side and herbs overflowing from the pots
and check it out the other chair finally appeared
I love those chairs!  My new favorite place to sit back, read a magazine and enjoy a cold cocktail after a day of gardening - whoever invented zero gravity chairs is a genius!  Please forgive the glare from the white thighs...
And obviously I couldn't have done it without my assistant Ralph!
As happy as I am with all the progress, it is slow going.  That is the thing about gardening, there is no "quick fix."  It takes time for things to become beautiful and colorful and lush.  I can't wait until this area is full of color and vibrant and looks like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, but I have to remember some of those gardens are 20 years in the making and this is my first spring here.  I will just keep looking for plants that need rescuing, scouting the clearance aisle at Lowe's and working in the garden on the weekends....and maybe in a few years I will make it on that cover!
Sincerely Loving Food and Flowers,