Three Good Reads

I hope everyone is having a nice Labor Day weekend! August has flown by and I just realized that I never posted my book review for Peanut Butter Fingers August Book Club. I finished the book on my road trip from New Hampshire to Texas, and I’ve read two other good books since!

Gone Girl

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was the pick for August book club. Below is the Amazon.com book description:

“Marriage can be a real killer. 
   One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn. 
   On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 
   As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
   With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.”

I really enjoyed the book. The element of suspense kept me wanting to read more and more. There are so many twists in the book that it’s hard to talk about the plot too much. My feelings about the characters, especially Amy, changed dramatically from the beginning of the book to the end. If I try to explain why, I’ll just end up spoiling the book!

I suppose the only thing I didn’t really like about the book was that I can’t imagine what happens in the book happening in real life.  Though the characters seemed real and somewhat relatable (at least at the beginning), I don’t think too many people can relate to what actually happens! The plot is just too twisted and insane!

Again, I feel like I have to keep mum on this book review. I think most people would enjoy this book, even if you aren’t usually into crime novels and thrillers. It’s well written, suspenseful, and will leave you wondering what happens next!

Where We Belong

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I should probably begin by saying that I have never read a novel by Emily Giffin that I didn’t like. She is definitely one of my favorite authors, especially for light hearted beach reads. My favorite books of hers were the first two, Something Borrowed and Something Blue, but they are all good!

Her latest book, Where We Belong, was just released this summer and I knew I wanted to read it ASAP. Below is the Amazon.com book description:

“The author of five blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin, delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them together

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.

For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.”

As usual, I loved the book. My only big complaint is that it ends making you wonder what happens next. Ironically, the book doesn’t have too much of a plot, yet I found it to be a page turner. It mostly tells the story of the relationship between Marian and Kirby in the beginning.

I really liked both characters, though I felt I could relate much more to Marian. I loved that Kirby’s name was Kirby because you don’t hear the name often and it happens to be the name of one of my good friends! I had to tell her there was a book with her name as the main character, but of course, she already had the book on her night table waiting to be read :) .

Overall, the book was funny, honest and engaging and kept me interested from page one. I’m hoping there will be a sequel because it really just kind of ends without ending!

Sarah’s Key

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The latest book I read was Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I know, I’m really late hopping onto this bandwagon! I’m sure most people have read this bestseller by now, but if you haven’t, you should! Here is the Amazon.com description:

“A young girl.

A fateful key.

A woman searching for the truth…

Experience the novel that has touched millions.

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten-year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard—their secret hiding place—and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released. 

Sixty Years Later: Sarah’s story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to questions about her own future.                                                                                                       

With more than five million copies in print and over two years on the New York Times bestseller list, Sarah’s Key has made its way into the hearts and minds of readers everywhere. Now, with this beautiful new hardcover edition, the gift of powerful storytelling can be shared with the ones you love.”  

This was a much more emotional read than the other books. I knew what it was about going into the book, but the book actually surprised me and wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought the book would be mostly about the little girl’s experience and the tragedies she went through. While that was the main idea behind the book, the author weaves in the personal journey that the journalist goes through. I really liked that aspect of the book. It made it more interesting and relatable to see Sarah’s story through Julia’s eyes.

I’m really glad I finally read this book and would highly recommend it. I think you will enjoy it even if you aren’t into historical fiction. It’s an emotional page turner with a moving story, great writing, and great characters.

And that’s my book update! I just downloaded The Last Letter from Your Lover and I’m looking forward to finding out the next book for Julie’s September book club! Enjoy your day off tomorrow!

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What I Ate Wednesday #19

Good morning! I’m over halfway through my first week of grad school classes. Luckily I have Fridays off! Although, I’ll probably be using them to study biostatistics because I think that class is going to consume my life. Oh well.

I can’t believe that fall is creeping up on us. This will be the last summer What I Ate Wednesday post – August flew by! Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

Breakfast was my typical overnight oats – pictures above are night vs. morning. I made my Nutella overnight oats (recipe here) but substituted the Nutella for Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter again. My overnight oats never fail me!

For a mid-morning snack I had an “Envy” apple from New Zealand. I love living near a Whole Foods and Central Market again so that I can get cool apples! :)

Lunch

For “lunch” I had a strawberry banana oat smoothie to hold me through my three hour class. I had block classes in college, but I forgot how long they can drag on!

When I got home from class I snacked on a Chobani apple cinnamon yogurt with pumpkin granola. I still contend that apple cinnamon is the best Chobani flavor! I’ll probably be eating it even more in the fall because it will feel seasonal :) .

Dinner

For dinner, I didn’t have exactly the above picture, but something pretty similar. My Mom made a pasta tossed with zucchini, roasted red peppers and a light cream sauce. It reminded me of my Lemon Yogurt Pasta (recipe here) and I forgot to take a picture of last night’s meal so I used this one! It was made with gluten-free pasta and I actually couldn’t even notice that it was gluten-free. For any GF folks out there, the brand was Schar and it was their penne pasta.

I finished the night off with a triple chocolate chunk cookie that caught my eye at Whole Foods along with glass of wine as I  caught up on Pretty Little Liars. (Yes, I love my ABC Family shows!)

And that’s What I Ate Wednesday Tuesday! Grad school is keeping me busy, but I’ll be back with a new recipe soon!

 

Posted in WIAW | Tagged | 11 Comments

Uchi Houston Review

Good morning! First off, happy birthday to my Mom! Second, my computer is alive (knock on wood) and just in time for my first day of grad school classes. Whew!

I was planning on sharing a recipe today, but my amazing meal at Uchi Houston this past weekend is taking precedent! Uchi is a Japanese fusion restaurant that had it’s first successes in Austin, and just recently opened up in Houston. Reservations must be made far in advance and if you try to go without one, you’ll be waiting quite a while. We had a reservation for my Mom’s birthday dinner, but even if we had to have waited, it would have been worth it!

Uchi is becoming famous for their extremely unique and flavor blasted dishes. They definitely live up to the philosophy stated on their website:

“Combining local seasonal ingre­di­ents with an infinite spec­trum of seafood from around the globe is the basis for Uchi’s culi­nary philos­ophy. We invite our diners to explore their gastro­nomic bound­aries by pairing tradi­tional Japanese offer­ings with new and refreshing flavors and textures.

At Uchi, we serve the freshest product we can procure every day. We main­tain close rela­tion­ships with local farmers and we fly in seafood every day from both Fukuoka and Tsukiji markets in Japan. The essence of Japanese cuisine is the ingre­di­ents; at Uchi we prepare our dishes using inno­va­tive food combi­na­tions for the most unique dining expe­ri­ence in Houston.” (source)

After reading all of the stellar reviews, I had high expectations going into Uchi. They did not disappoint! We decided to order the chef’s tasting menu with a few other dishes. All of the plates are meant to be shared. I’m happy to report that I tried (and loved) every single dish!

First, we had the Hamachile: baby yellowtail٠ponzu٠thai chili٠ orange supreme. This was my first time eating yellowtail sashimi and I will never forget it! It’s really too hard to describe most of these dishes other than incredibly delicious!

Next, we had the Walu Walu: oak-grilled escolar٠candied citrus٠ yuzupon٠myoga. This dish was cooked fish that had an amazing sauce underneath. The fish itself is apparently quite controversial. According to The Kitchn, it’s actually been banned in various countries because part of the fish is indigestible to humans and can cause serious gastrointestinal problems. None of my family members got sick, we simply thought it had  an amazing and unique flavor.

Then came the famous brussels sprouts. Since I had done my research on Uchi before we went, I knew we had to try these babies. They were heavenly! They are deep fried and tossed with a caramel fish sauce and chile lime sauce. They are simply the best brussels sprouts you will ever eat. I actually found the recipe for them, but it is far too complicated for me to attempt!

Next up was the Maguro Sashimi and Goat Cheese: bigeye tuna٠pumpkin seed oil٠ fuji apple. I’m a big tuna fan, so I loved this one. The goat cheese was an unexpected combination, but of course, it worked beautifully!

We were then served the Zero Sen: yellowtail٠avocado٠shallot٠ cilantro٠tobiko٠yuzu. This was the first sushi roll my Mom has ever had that she liked. It was also my first ever sushi roll without soy sauce. They suggest you don’t dip their rolls in soy sauce (though they do provide it as an option). I’m glad I didn’t ruin the flavors by masking everything in salty soy sauce. It was too delicious.

Next up was the Pitchfork roll: wagyu beef٠leek crisp٠ avocado٠yuzu kosho. I picked this one out just in case my Mom didn’t like any of the fish (she’s not a sushi fan, or at least wasn’t until now!). Another ball hit out of the park! So good. I loved the addition of the leek crisps to replace the typical crunchy stuff you find on top of sushi rolls.

It seemed like our food never ended! The waiter then came out with the Hamachi Nabe: baby yellowtail٠koshi hikari rice٠ farmegg٠soybroth. This was Uchi’s twist on fried rice. The flavor was so rich and delicious. I definitely have a new found love for yellowtail!

Next up was the Yokai Berry: atlantic salmon٠dinosaur kale٠ asian pear٠yuzu. This was another one of my dish choices because I read great things about it in reviews. The waiter said it was their healthiest dish. All of the flavors worked great together and the sauce was mouthwatering. It was a dish where you needed to make sure you took a bite of each element at the same time or you wouldn’t get the same delicious taste in your mouth.

Just when we thought we were about to get dessert, we were served the Machi Cure: smoked baby yellowtail٠ yuccacrisp٠marconaalmond٠ asian pear٠garlic brittle. It was described as a twist on nachos. The most delicious and creative twist on nachos ever!

Then, the waiter brought out one of his favorite dishes as a birthday surprise for my Mom, the Biendo: tempura shrimp springroll٠ nuoc mam٠grapes. I almost didn’t try this because I am not a shrimp fan. As I loved everything else, I took the plunge! The sauce was amazing, and all of the elements melded together perfectly. Yum!

Finally, we had dessert – the Peanut Butter Semifreddo with Apple-Miso Sorbet. This was by far the most original dessert I have ever had. It was incredibly delicious. The peanut butter flavor was not overpowering and each element of the dish was so unique and tasty. I really don’t even know how to describe the semifreddo – maybe a mousse like cake? It was just so good. The perfect ending to a fabulous meal!

I would highly recommend venturing to Uchi if you are ever in Houston or Austin. My parents promised to take Luke there when he arrives in Houston and I cannot wait to have my tastebuds wowed like that again!

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What I Ate Wednesday #18 and Sorrel Urban Bistro Review

Good afternoon! I hope your Wednesday is flying by! I’ve been busy with grad school orientation and everything that comes with getting ready for school. Classes start Monday! I’m currently blogging from my Mom’s laptop because mine is in the critical care unit “drying”. Please pray that it survives because I really need it for classes (and blogging of course!).

Since it’s Wednesday, I wanted to share some of my latest eats! This week, I’m not going to do the typical breakfast, lunch, dinner thing. Instead, I’ll let you know what my summer staple foods were this week and show you the best dinner I had this past week. Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Summer Staples

Of course, overnight oats! After traveling for a week, I was so happy to finally have my overnight oats back. My latest combination has been making my Nutella Overnight Oats with Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter instead of Nutella. Yes, I love Nutella, but it really does have a lot of sugar and Justin’s version is much healthier. If you add just a little honey, it’s almost as good! (I add banana or raspberries after I stir it all up!)

Smoothies are always a summer staple for me. Lately I’ve been making strawberry banana oat smoothies by adding a few strawberries, a frozen banana, a few ice cubes, vanilla greek yogurt, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, chia seeds and a handful of oats to a blender. The oats help add some substance and keep me full longer, especially if I’m having a smoothie for lunch. And I’m all for adding spinach to my smoothies, but sometimes it’s fun to have smoothies that are other colors of the rainbow!

Sorrel Urban Bistro

Now for the really tasty part of my week! One of the best parts about living in Houston is the abundance of good restaurants! This past weekend, I went to Sorrel Urban Bistro with my parents. Sorrel happens to be a farm to table restaurant, which is clearly a concept that I love. The food was delicious! We ordered off of their three course restaurant week menu.

To start, I had the Local Greens with House Ham, Figs, Local Sharp Cheddar and Fresh Thyme Vinaigrette. I’ve never had a salad with figs in it, so it was an interesting twist. The sweetness of the figs and saltiness of the ham complemented the rest of the salad perfectly.

For my entree, I had the Slow Roasted Organic Chicken Risotto with Golden Raisin, Greek Feta and Crispy Leeks. It was amazing! I loved the addition of the crispy leeks and raisins and the local goat cheese was delicious too. My Dad also ordered this entree and could not stop raving about it. 5 stars!

For dessert, I opted for the Texas Honey Spiked Cream Brule with Blueberries. I’m actually not a huge cream brule fan (I mostly just don’t like the candied part on top), but this was an excellent dessert.

Overall, it was a great meal! The restaurant is a bit out of my price range, but hopefully I’ll be back again – I know my parents will!

And that’s a wrap for What I Ate Wednesday! All of my recipe photos are on my laptop, so I am hoping and praying that it comes back to life so I can post some new recipes soon. Until then, my fingers and toes are crossed!

Posted in Restaurants, WIAW | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Bread

Good morning from the lone star state! I made it back to Texas! It’s a bit hotter down here, but otherwise Teddy and I are enjoying being back home (Teddy was born in Texas). Teddy is having a ball having more people and another dog around. So far, he’s managed to take the stuffing out of about five of Sophie’s (my parent’s dog) toys in the course of about an hour.

He chooses a new victim every 10 minutes or so. He thinks it’s Christmas because he has 30 new toys at once!

I’ve been busy unpacking and haven’t managed to cook anything yet, but I will soon! In the meantime, I thought I’d share the recipe for one of my latest kitchen ventures before I left:

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Bread! I originally saw the recipe for this delicious bread on Daily Garnish and have wanted to make it ever since. I am a huge banana bread fan and love the strawberry banana combination in my smoothies. I don’t know why I never thought to add strawberries to banana bread! It is an extremely tasty enhancement to banana bread, and strawberries are still in season for a little while longer!

This makes such a great breakfast and is a nice and healthy snack too. You could adapt any banana bread recipe and add some chopped strawberries, but I went off of Emily’s because she always has great healthy recipes on her blog. I substituted and used all whole wheat flour. Some people don’t like the texture of baked goods that exclusively use whole wheat flour, but I think it’s just as good!

It’s a pretty simple recipe. The hardest part is having the delicious scent of banana bread permeate your house and have to wait 45 minutes until it’s baked to eat it!

First, preheat your oven to 350 and chop your strawberries into bite sized pieces.

Then mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until they are fairly smooth.

Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the bananas along with the chopped strawberries and stir to combine.

Then add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined.

Pour into a greased bread loaf pan and bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Bread

Adapted from Daily Garnish

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (loose)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Chop up your strawberries into bite sized pieces.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  4. In another bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until they are fairly smooth and creamy. Then mix in the applesauce, eggs, vanilla and chopped strawberries.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour into a greased bread loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 45-55 minutes. Mine was done at 45 minutes, so keep an eye on yours! When the bread is done, an inserted toothpick will come out clean.
  7. Let cool for at least five minutes and enjoy!
Posted in Breakfast, Recipes, Snacks | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Cocoa Roasted Almonds

Greetings from Nashville! I’ve had a busy few days. This past weekend was spent celebrating my 24th birthday and packing up my car in preparation for our road trip from New Hampshire to Houston. My birthday was, of course, filled with delicious eats!

Too many to even begin describing, but you can probably tell from the photos that everything was quite tasty!

On Monday, my parents and I departed New Hampshire with everything we could fit in my Toyota Rav4 (plus Teddy of course!). Somehow we managed to fit it all. We stopped in Virginia on Monday night and drove to Nashville on Tuesday to stay with my brother and his wife for a couple days. We have one final stretch left!

While I’m enjoying the great country music capital, I thought I’d share the recipe for my favorite road trip snack: Cocoa Roasted Almonds.

I made them on a whim as a break from packing and they’ve been a delicious snack on the road. They are sweet, salty and full of chocolate flavor!

I hope you’ll resist the urge to buy flavored almonds at the store and give these a try in your kitchen – you’ll be glad you did!

First, preheat your oven to 275. In a large bowl, mix together the almonds and honey.

Then mix together the cocoa powder and sea salt in a small bowl and gradually add the mixture to the almonds until they are well coated.

Bake at 275 for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

Let cool for thirty minutes and enjoy!

Cocoa Roasted Almonds

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the almonds and honey.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and sea salt.
  4. Gradually add the cocoa powder mixture to the almonds and stir until the almonds are well coated.
  5. Bake at 275 for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning.
  6. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!
Posted in Dessert, Gluten-free, Recipes, Snacks | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Cake Batter Puppy Chow

I think I have professed my love for cake batter a few times on my blog so far, but just in case you didn’t know, I really love cake batter! My latest cake batter venture?

Cake Batter Puppy Chow!

If puppy chow is foreign to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Puppy chow is something that I never even heard of until I was in high school and my friends decided they wanted to make it one night. (And no, it has nothing to do with dog food, though Teddy wishes it were his dinner!) Once I popped my first few puppy chow bites into my mouth way back when, I couldn’t believe I had lived my whole life without ever having eaten it! Traditional puppy chow is made with Chex cereal, semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter and powdered sugar. I’m not a huge peanut butter fan, but I still think it’s delicious.

My cake batter puppy chow mixes things up by using white chocolate instead of semi-sweet, wheat Chex instead of regular (to make it healthier, because obviously wheat puppy chow is much better for you ;) ), and cake mix instead of peanut butter. It turned out amazing and I will definitely be making it again!

I think one of the reasons that puppy chow is so popular is that it’s super easy to make. The hardest part is not consuming it all before it cools! Good luck!

Cake Batter Puppy Chow

Adapted from Adventures in Food

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 1 box  Wheat Chex cereal (not family size), about 6 cups
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1.5 cups funfetti cake mix
  • 2-3 tablespoons colored sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

  1. Lay a piece of parchment paper or foil on a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and cake mix and set aside. Place the Chex cereal in another large bowl.
  3. Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave at 50%. It depends on your microwave – so I microwave mine for a minute, stir, and see how much longer they need. You can also melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler if you have one.
  4. Once the chocolate is melted, gradually pour the chocolate over the chex cereal and stir until each piece is coated.
  5. Quickly add the sprinkles and stir to combine.
  6. Then gradually add the cake mix mixture and stir until all of the cereal is well coated.
  7. Pour the puppy chow onto the cookie sheet and let it cool for at least 15 minutes.
  8. Enjoy!
Posted in Dessert, Recipes, Snacks | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday #17

Morning! I have to say, it is so nice to be able to wake up and relax while I enjoy my coffee and breakfast versus rushing off to work. Packing, on the other hand, is no fun. I can see why people pay other people to pack for them! I’m not sure how my Dad is going to fit everything into my car unless he has magic powers… we’ll see soon enough!

In the meantime, it’s time for another round of What I Ate Wednesday! This month’s theme is summer staples. Smoothies are definitely a summer food staple for me. There’s no easier way to get spinach into my daily diet and a smoothie is just so refreshing when it’s hot outside. If you’re looking for some new smoothie recipes, check out my recipe page for some new ideas! Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

Breakfast was a fresh everything bagel with spinach and artichoke hummus. We can never get good bagels here in Manchester, so I picked some up while we were traveling this weekend and now I’m taking full advantage of delicious bagels for breakfast. If we didn’t have bagels right now, I’m not sure what I would do because we are out of chia seeds! Oh the horror! I can’t make my summer staple breakfast of overnight oats. I drove to three grocery stores yesterday, two didn’t have them and one simply had none in stock. I’ll probably be searching for them again today because I can’t forgo overnight oats for too long!

Lunch/Snacks

Since I’m no longer working, I was able to snack my way through the afternoon. First up was an Orange Creamsicle Spinach Smoothie (recipe here). Delicious, refreshing, and definitely a summer staple for me!

Later, I snacked on a Core Warrior Raw Almond Raisin Bar. I got a pack of these bars when I won a giveaway from Allie. This was the first one I tried and I wasn’t really a huge fan. It just wasn’t sweet enough for me and it had an odd texture. Maybe I’ll like the other flavors better, we’ll see!

A couple hours later, I was hungry again, so I munched on a juicy pluot. I always forget that I prefer plums to pluots – I just can’t resist buying pluots in the store due to their fun name :) .

Dinner took longer to cook than I could wait, so I snacked on grapes while I waited impatiently.

Dinner

The deliciousness of dinner made up for the wait! I cooked up my healthier version of Indian butter chicken (recipe here) and served it over quinoa. This is a recycled picture because I was too hungry to photograph! This was seriously tasty and I went back for seconds too.

And that’s a wrap for what I ate Wednesday Tuesday! Be back tomorrow with an amazing new dessert creation! *Warning, it’s not very healthy!*

Posted in Uncategorized, WIAW | Tagged | 8 Comments

Weekend in the White Mountains and the Mythical New Hampshire Moose

Good morning! I am officially on vacation. Well, not really vacation, but I’m not working :) . Luke and I did take a little getaway to the White Mountains over the weekend though. We stayed at the Adair Inn in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. It is the nicest and most adorable bed and breakfast we’ve ever been to (it was our second visit there).

The innkeeper upgraded us to a suite and it was very luxurious. Our room even had a heart shaped soaking tub!

The bed and breakfast is set on a huge estate with acres and acres of beautiful landscaping and trails. Everything is just gorgeous!

Everywhere you turn there are beautiful flowers, ponds and gardens!

We spent a good amount of time relaxing at the inn and enjoying delicious food, and the rest of the time we spent hiking. On Sunday we hiked up Bald Mountain.

It was a beautiful but windy day!

On Monday, it was even more beautiful out and we hiked to Ripley Falls.

We had such a great time hiking! When we came back from our hike on Sunday afternoon, we found homemade cheesecake waiting for us at the bed and breakfast. What a treat!

We then relaxed for a bit followed by a delicious dinner at the Adair. We sat on the patio and had a gorgeous view of the gardens and mountains.

Dinner started with a complimentary hourderve, or amuse-bouche, from the chef.

For an appetizer, I had the Smoked Chicken Crepes and Luke had the Adair Antipasto. Both were delicious, but my crepes were the best!

In between courses, the chef served a lemon sorbet. It was nice and refreshing!

For our entrees, I had the roast lamb loin and Luke had the vegetarian plate. Both were quite tasty, but Luke’s plate had so many unique foods like a grilled vegetable strudel and herb spaetzle tossed with truffle oil, which made his entree a bit more fun!

As you can imagine, we had no room for dessert, but the chef finished our dinner off with complementary chocolate truffles. Yum!

After our amazing dinner, we had a mission. Moose hunting! I have been trying to find a moose in New Hampshire for two years now with no success, so we wanted to give it one last try before we move to Texas. This was our fourth time actively looking (ie. going out at dusk and driving around for hours in the forest!). We followed a local’s advice and sat at place where moose “come every night” for over an hour. This is all we saw.

I am officially convinced that moose do not exist in New Hampshire. Those road signs are for nothing! Luckily, we returned to our room to find delicious cookies on our bed (part of the nightly turn down service) :) . Way to cheer me up! It’s little things like this that make the Adair Inn so nice!

We then shared our last bottle of Virginia wine, a 2008 Keswick Vineyards Norton. It is my absolute favorite red wine and I’ve been aging this bottle for three years. It was just as delicious as I remembered. If you’ve never tried a Norton, you should! They have a really unique, spicy flavor that I adore. Unfortunately, this vineyard no longer sells Nortons. It was a bittersweet last sip knowing I can’t get any more!

The following morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast before we checked out. It started off with homemade granola and local yogurt.

We then enjoyed fresh fruit, followed by the Adair’s famous giant popovers!

The main course (yes, there was more!) was cinnamon amaretto french toast.

Double yum!

We left satiated and stuffed. It was the perfect weekend getaway! I’m off to begin packing… I’ll be back tomorrow with a WIAW post – catch ya then!

Posted in Fitness, Restaurants, Travel, Wine | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Sun-Dried Tomato White Bean Dip

Morning! Who’s excited for Olympic women’s gymnastics tonight?! Me me me!

Gymnastics is the only summer olympic sport that I truly love to watch. The other stuff is fun to watch if I have nothing better to do, but I actively try to watch gymnastics. *If you watch the competition live during the day today and spoil who wins in the comment section I will go nuts! Please don’t! It’s hard enough keeping my eyes averted from all the news sites.*

Gymnastics was one of my long-term sports as a kid (along with dance and a brief love affair with ice skating). I spent countless hours having my Dad “spot me” trying to do back handsprings and the like. Those were the days! I think I remember quitting because as I got more advanced they started requiring us to run during practice. Ha!

I’ve been trying to decide if I’d prefer that Aly Raisman win tonight (or this morning really) or Gabby Douglas. I’m leaning towards Aly – her story resonates with me more and I love her parents! (If you haven’t watched them watching her compete, please do it now). I also dislike that Gabby is 4’11 because one of my hurdles with many gymnastics moves back in the day was that I was too tall. I would have envied her when I was 10!

Let’s hope one of our two ladies wins the gold!

Sun-Dried Tomato White Bean Dip

Moving on to food! One of the staples in my fridge every week is a dip or spread. Whether I’m having a homemade panini or a wrap for lunch, I always need a little extra flavor and it’s the easiest way to give my lunch some oomph!

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been “too busy” to make a lot of the things that I usually try to avoid buying at the grocery store simply because they are so easy to make at home, like hummus and granola. I finally convinced myself that yes, I in fact do have 5 minutes to make my own dip and I was just being lazy. I wanted to switch things up from my usual hummus, so I made this Sun-Dried Tomato White Bean Dip instead.

Delicious? Yes. Easy? Yes. Healthy? Yes. Worth making my own and not being lazy and buying it at the store? Yes.

Versatile too! Spread it on your sandwich or toast, dip your veggies or crackers in it, add it to your eggs or breakfast burrito – the possibilities are endless. I’ll be making this dip again, that’s for sure!

Just put all of the ingredients in a food processor or immersion blender and blend until smooth! Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with paprika and enjoy!

Sun-Dried Tomato White Bean Dip

Makes about 1.5 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of navy beans (other white beans would work too, canneloni etc.)
  • 12 sun dried tomatoes, either in oil or that have been soaked in water
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (add more or less to your thickness preference)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika for garnish

Directions:

  1. If you are using dried sun-dried tomatoes, first soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes to make them soft and pliable.  If you are using the kind that are soaked in oil, you do not need to do this step.
  2. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor or immersion blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Garnish with paprika (optional) and enjoy!
Posted in Fitness, Gluten-free, Recipes, Snacks, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments