Recipe Review: Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes with Tarragon

Beautiful.  Easy.  Delicious.  Need I say more?  You can view this recipe here

Marinated Heirloom Tomatos with Tarragon

Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes with Tarragon

Serves: 8 servings (serving size: about 3 tomato slices)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons extravirgin olive
  • 2 pounds (about 6 medium) heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well. Arrange tomatoes on a platter. Sprinkle tomatoes evenly with salt and pepper; drizzle with shallot mixture.

THOUGHTS

  • Y’all this recipe is so easy and when I served it at girls night every girl raved.  This dish is super simple to make and would be a great dish for a potluck. 
  • This dish doesn’t do well as “leftovers” so I’d make sure that you feed it to a large group or cut the ingredients in half if you just want to feed 4 people. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

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Recipe Review: Easy Minestrone

It’s no secret that I love me some soup.  I’m especially a fan of soups that are chock-full of veggie goodness and beans and take practically zero time to prepare like this one from Taste of Home

Easy Minestrone

Easy Minestrone

Serves:  10 (or so it says, I think closer to 4-5 if you’re serving this as the main course)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni  the recipe calls for this, but I don’t include it (see the ‘thoughts’ section for more info)
  • 5 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the first 11 ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Just before serving, stir in macaroni and heat through. Serve with cheese.

THOUGHTS

  • This soup is delicious.  I especially love it topped with parmesan cheese.
  • I prefer this soup without the noodles because they have a tendency to get soggy and smushy.  I’m not a fan of either so I just leave the noodles out. 
  • To speed things up, I chop my tomatoes, carrots and celery in the food processor. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

Window Shopping Wednesday – West Elm (Furniture only)

I love spring.  I love decorating for spring.  I want my house to be finished so that I can decorate for spring.  Lots of wishful thinking going on around here, haha.  I’ve been eyeing some goodies from West Elm for a while now and I dedcided to do a Window Shopping Wednesday tour of West Elm for the next few weeks just like I did with Z Gallerie a while back.  Ready to get this party started?

This weeks featured shop:  West Elm Furniture

I’m kinda loving this Oliver Chair.  I even love this tropical print although if you’re not digging it, it also comes in several other (tamer) fabrics.

oliver chair

This Sutton Sofette is the perfect size for small apartment or even for the end of the bed if you have a really large bedroom.  Those clean lines are just yummy.

Sutton Sofette

This Carved Wood Side Table would make a great addition to any room.  It’s neutral enough to go practically anywhere and it’s slightly Moroccan look adds an international flair!

Carved Wood Side Table

In case you’ve been living under a rock let me clue you in… the industrial look is all the rage right now.  What I love most about it is that it looks good AND it’s functional.  What a concept!  This rolling cart (which comes in several different sizes) is a great looking storage option.  I can just see this in a kitchen loaded down with labeled glass jars showcasing items like flour, sugar, rice, etc.

Design Workshop Rolling Carts

Bone inlay + a herringbone pattern… COME TO MAMA!  This wall mirror would look exquisite if you had two side-by-side over a long bathroom vanity.  Oooo!  I want!!

Parsons Wall Mirror - Bone Inlay

These dining chairs are so posh.  I think they could glam up any space in no time.  Don’t you just love them?

Willoughby Dining Chair

This wood-tiled dresser just screams ‘nursery’ to me.  It could be used for a boy or girl and then be used later on down the line once they’re all grown up.

Wood Tiled 6-Drawer Dresser

Thanks for shopping with me today!

Recipe Review: Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche

I’ve mentioned several times that I’m not a fan of eggs.  There’s something about the texture that just makes me gag, regardless of the way that they’re cooked.  The only exception to this seems to be quiche and I think that’s because the vegetables in the quiche break up the texture of the eggs.  While I was preparing for my Foods You Should Eat Everyday Challenge I tried several quiche recipes beforehand so that I could make one during the challenge. 

Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche

Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vertically sliced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5 cups broccoli florets
  • Cooking spray
  • 1-1/4 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion and garlic; sauté 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Add broccoli; sauté 1 minute.
  5. Spread broccoli mixture into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray.
  6. Combine milk and next 8 ingredients (milk through eggs) in a large bowl. Pour milk mixture over broccoli mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan.
  7. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until top is golden and a knife inserted in center comes out clean; let stand 5 minutes.

THOUGHTS

  • Sadly, this recipe wasn’t a success in my book.  I didn’t really like it at all and ended up not eating a large portion of it.  However, I still think that other people who like broccoli quiche should give it a try.  I’m fairly certain that the reason it didn’t work for me was the egg whites.  Other people who aren’t texture-sensitive to eggs would probably enjoy this recipe.
  • In the directions #5 and #6 where it says to pour the milk mixture on top of the broccoli, I totally disagree with this.  I think that you should mix them all together in a bowl and then pour it into your pie plate.  If you just pour the milk mixture on top then all of the cheese settles on top of the broccoli and creates a crust.  I prefer my cheese to be more incorporated. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

Recipe Review: Coconut Banana Bread

I’ve had some leftover flaked coconut in my pantry for a while now and when I stumbled across this recipe here I just knew I had to make it. 

Coconut Banana Bread

Coconut Banana Bread

Serves: not listed

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Click here

THOUGHTS

  • I made one big loaf instead of 4 mini loafs (like the originator of this recipe did).  One piece of this bread with a large glass of milk makes for a delicious breakfast.  So yummy. 
  • I couldn’t find light coconut milk like the recipe calls for so I used regular milk and it tasted just fine.  If you can’t find the light, don’t stress about it. 
  • I would suggest that you pulse your sweetened flaked coconut a few times in a food processor before incorporating into the recipe.  Leaving it ‘as-is’ made for a slightly stringy texture in some areas. 
  • This would also make a great gift for Christmas or some other occasion where you want to give several people homemade baked goods.  Since you can make 4 mini loaves with one batch you could make quite a few in a relatively short amount of time. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

Recipe Review: Chicken with Twenty Cloves of Garlic

So I love this dish, like a lot.  It’s a Kraft recipe that you can find here.  If you happen to click on that link you’ll notice that it says that in France, they make this dish with 40 cloves of garlic instead of 20.  I might just have to make it with 40 next time.  I made this dish for girls night the other night and we were all calling “DIBS!” on the garlic cloves.  Soooo yummy. 

Chicken with Twenty Cloves of Garlic

Chicken with Twenty Cloves of Garlic

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
  • 20 cloves garlic, peeled (I used the pre-peeled kind you can find in the refrigerated section of your stores produce department)
  • ¾ cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup creamy Caesar dressing
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic; cook 4 min., turning chicken after 2 min.
  2. Stir in broth and dressing; cover skillet with lid. Cook chicken 3 to 5 min. on each side or until done (165ºF).
  3. Sprinkle with Parmesan; cover. Remove from heat. Let stand 1 min.

THOUGHTS

  • Using the pre-peeled garlic makes all the difference in the world with this dish.  You can cut your prep down to about two minutes by using this which means that you can pop this on the stove quick, fast and in a hurry on a weeknight. 
  • The picture shows this dish being served with roasted carrots and potatoes but I felt like this made for a really monochromatic dish so I served it with marinated tomatoes and the Buttery Almond Green Beans.  I’ll be sharing the tomato recipe soon. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

When Books Turn Into Movies

Jurassic Park, Twilight, Harry Potter, The Help, The Hunger Games, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Water for Elephants, The Da Vinci Code, Chronicles of Narnia, The Great Gatsby, The Notebook, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Eat Pray Love, Lord of the Flies, and hundreds upon hundreds more…. these are just a handful of books that were turned into movies.  I’ve only read about half of the books that were turned into movies listed above but I’ve seen more than half of the movies.  Sometimes, I don’t realize that a movie was actually based on a book until long after they’ve both been released.  Sometimes, I hear about a new movie that’s coming out that’s based on a book.  Sometimes I hear about this great book that I should read long before there’s any public mention of it being turned into a movie.  Sometimes I wonder if book authors are the only people left with any original ideas and that’s why so many movies are made out of their books. 

So a friend of mine and I were having a debate the other day about a movie that was coming out and whether or not we wanted to read the book that it’s based on before we saw the movie.  My argument was this:

I read Twilight long before it became the insane sensation that it is these days.  I stumbled upon it in a Barnes & Nobles one day and decided to buy it.  Right after the second book, New Moon, came out is when the series became a worldwide sensation.  I was already on that gravy train before it even left the station.  Anyway, you know how when you read a book you imagine in your minds eye how things are playing out?  You see the way that you think the characters look, the facial expressions they make, the scenery around them, etc?  Well to me, that’s the fun of reading a book… you get to use your imagination.  So here’s the problem… when the movie Twilight finally came out, it didn’t reflect what I saw in my minds eye.  The people they chose for certain characters weren’t the people I would have chosen.  The movie was made to appeal to more of a tween audience (in keeping true to the books young adult genre) but I’m not a tween so of course, I wanted it to be portrayed as something a bit more mature.  There are scenes in the book that don’t appear in the movie and scenes in the movie that don’t appear in the book.  Basically, the film wasn’t directed or produced by me and therefore, it seemed inferior.  Not because I’m a great director, but because what I had seen in my imagination when reading the book was awesome and the movie just didn’t live up to it.  Also, after watching the movie I decided to go back and try to read the book and I couldn’t.  I kept hearing the conversations the way that they were spoken on the movie screen, not the way that they were written in the book.  I kept seeing Kristen Stewart in my mind instead of the imaginary Bella Swan I’d seen before.  Basically, the book wasn’t the same.  I couldn’t take away the sights and sounds that the movie had put in the forefront of my mind and go back to the wonderful imaginings that Stephanie Meyer had managed to conjure out of thin air. 

books into movies

My conclusion, then, which I shared with my friend is this:  I get so much more enjoyment out of the book then I ever do out of the movie.  Therefore, I will always choose to read the book first.

What about you?  Are you a book first or movie first sort of person?

Window Shopping Wednesday – Golden Future

Like a lot of women, I love jewelry.  I think that the right accessories can either make or break your outfit.  That’s why I fell for this shop the moment I saw it.  I always have a hard time finding the right jewelry for a more casual weekend outfit and these goodies are just perfect.  I even adore the layered effect!  The owner and maker of these lovely creations is Yilan and keep in mind that all bracelets can be customized by changing the color and length of the bracelets.

This weeks featured shop:  Golden Future

Are you a bike enthusiast?  I have a few good friends who are and I think they’d love this Bike Bracelet set!

bike bracelet set

This tree of life bracelet is so lovely.

tree of life

I think this feather bracelet might be my favorite.  It’s so dainty and feminine.

feather bracelt

Know a tween who is a huge Hunger Games fan?  I bet they’d flip over this arrow bracelet or this Hunger Games bracelet.

arrow bracelet & hunger games bracelet

I’m going through a bit of an elephant phase so I’m in love with this elephant bracelet.  It needs to come home to live with me.

elephant bracelet

This compass bracelet really speaks to me for some reason.

compass bracelet

How fun is this octopus bracelet?  I can just see this as a go-to accessory for the summer.

octopus bracelet

This cross bracelet has the ability to work for a guy or a girl depending on the color of the bracelet that you choose.  I think this would be a great gift for a kid who is being baptized, going through confirmation or just in need of a daily reminder.

cross bracelet

Thank you for shopping with me today!

In Honor and Remembrance: My March RAOK in Honor of Sandy Hook

raok sandy hook

As I’m writing this, it’s actually the 18th but the other day, on the 14th, I did a Random Act of Kindness in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary.  You can read about my year-long pledge here

Hi friends. 

I’m so sorry for being a few days late with my RAOK for March.  It was a crazy week last week.  I actually spent the week in Calgary for work.  I flew home on the 14th and was able to squeeze in an RAOK on the way home.

We stopped for dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Gringo’s.  Right before we paid our tab I scouted the surrounding tables to see if anyone caught my eye.  As luck would have it, there was this absolutely adoreable elderly couple across the room from us.  I asked our waitress to have their waiter come over and when he did, I told them I wanted to pay for their dinner.  He looked at me like I was from Mars, but he brought me their tab.  I paid it in full and then wrote this message for them:

photo-edited

(note: I also marked through the ‘total’ and wrote ‘paid in full’)

I also gave both our waitress and their waiter a 50% tip. 

Then we left. 

Yep, that’s right.  We didn’t stick around to see their reactions.  We just wanted to bless them. 

It felt great to do something small for someone else especially when I was having a crazy day.  Sometimes when we’re really busy, we forget to take a moment to focus on someone other than ourselves. 

What Random Act of Kindness did you perform this month?

Recipe Review: Baked Cheddar Broccoli Rice Cups

I have a confession to make.  I have a bit of a condiment problem.  You see, I don’t really like them unless they’re tomato based (like ketchup or salsa).  I won’t eat mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream, guacamole, or pretty much any dressing with the exception of something oil based (like Italian).  There’s something about that creamy consistency that most condiments have that just sends me running for the hills.  So, when I came across this recipe from Amazing Pinterest World I was intrigued, but nervous.  It contains ranch dressing and I just wasn’t sure if I was going to like it.  Man was I surprised!

*Please note that Amazing Pinterest World is not the originator of this recipe.  She just posts recipes that she finds on Pinterest.  I am not sure of the original source. 

Baked Cheddar-Broccoli Rice Cups

Baked Cheddar Broccoli Rice Cups

Serves:  4 (2 per person) or 8 (1 per person)… trust me, you’ll want 2.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup quick-cooking brown rice (like Minute Rice)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 10-oz. box frozen, chopped broccoli, thawed and excess water squeezed out
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Prepare rice as directed on package, substituting stock for water. 
  3. Place cooked rice in a large bowl and let cool slightly. 
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, using only 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, and stir until combined.
  5. Transfer mixture to eight well-greased muffin cups–I like to use an ice cream scoop–and top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. 
  6. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops are lightly browned and edges are starting to get crispy.

THOUGHTS

  • OMG y’all these were SOOOO GOOD.  Surprisingly, however, my husband… who loves ranch dressing, hated these and asked me to never make them again.  I’ve decided that he’s broken.  That’s really the only explanation I can come up with.  Since he hates them I’m thinking very seriously about making them on Sundays for me to take to work for breakfast a few days a week.  I know it’s sort of a weird breakfast meal but you get your grains/fiber from the brown rice, your protein from the egg and cheese, and some veggie goodness from the broccoli.  That makes for a pretty good breakfast right?
  • I honestly can’t remember what I paired these with but I think it was baked chicken.  Then again, I could just make a meal out of these babies and forget the rest.  Sooooo yummy.  Go make them!

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.