Thursday, July 31, 2008

Operation Baking GALS

Just had to shout it from the rooftops... I've joined Operation Baking GALS and couldn't be more excited.

This has to be the #1 most worthwhile way for me to get all my baking cravings answered while not ending up wearing the extra lbs AND doing what I do best... supporting our troops abroad.

Not sure when exactly I'll get started but check back for monthly care package content details... or heck, go to their site and join in the effort yourself!

If you aren't able to join in the effort, feel free to send me the names of any troops you know abroad and I'll toss his/her name in the hat to be a recipient of some of these delicious homemade goodies... or at the very least send me all of your favorite portable dessert recipes!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Not In Boston...

But you might have thought we were last weekend with all of the Red Sox paraphernalia surrounding us!

Instead of Boston, though, it was the quaint area along the Delaware-Pennsylvania border and instead of a Sox game, it was the wedding of our friends, Ethan and Carolyn, two avid Boston fans.

The wedding festivities started with a delicious and relaxed meal following the rehearsal at Buckley's Tavern. This also will go down in history as being the site at which Ethan bestowed upon each of his groomsmen, my husband being one of them, their official "Pimp Cups" (and as they say... "the rest is history"). My enormous, broiled crabcake became only secondary news to these infamous drinking receptacles, but suffice it to say, all of our entrees were delicious.

The ceremony Saturday late afternoon was beautiful, held at the downtown Wilmington, DE, Westminster Presbyterian Church. Most special about the ceremony was that an old family friend of Ethan's as well as Carolyn's pastor growing up co-officiated making it that much more special.

We arrived back at the hotel and reception site, the beautiful Inn at Mendenhall just up the road in Chadds Ford, PA.

The couple had put so much thought into each aspect of the reception - it was so fun! Our placecards were also photo coasters so we could take them home and keep our favorite picture from the day in it, and also, each table was named after a favorite spot in Boston. Such cute ideas!

You sadly can't really tell exactly the design in this picture, but each of the guests were also treated to little tins of Sox-logoed M&Ms!

And finally, it was apparent (see the groom's cake below) that while the couple is together in their love for all things Boston, including the city's baseball team, they had some work to do in terms of their NFL teams... Ethan being a staunch Giants fan, and Carolyn true to her Eagles.

But nothing could take away from the joy of the day. We truly enjoyed celebrating with Carolyn and Ethan and were so glad that we could be a part of their wedding weekend!

Of course the "pimp cups" had to make one last appearance at the reception...Hilarious.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Version, Same Great Story

The Grubbs take DC - version 3, edition 1

Some stories are best left to the pictures... especially when time is of the essence - which seems to be our life in a nutshell these days.

Our dear friends, Jayne, Jason, and BG (well, we have yet to meet BG but we are sure to become fast friends) arrived fresh from Kernersville, NC, Friday evening; we met them at the house shortly after our 3rd to last (who's counting?!) Wake softball game. They were so kind to bring with them this enormous container of deliciously beautiful peaches (which are the genesis of quite a few recipes, assuming I get around to posting them - but trust me, these peaches are/have been amazing).

We munched on some snacks including fresh tomato bruschetta and one of our other favorites, carrots and pretzels dipped in TJ's original hummus before diving into my latest batch of homemade vanilla ice cream topped with a warm fudgy chocolate sauce.

Saturday, we had a leisurely morning, best for our preggers momma, and enjoyed our favorite sausage biscuit casserole, fresh veggie frittata, and fresh fruit before heading into the city towards our destination.

The Library of Congress - this has fast become one of Chris and my favorite spots in DC and to the point, we've been there twice in the past month and a half.

If you have a chance to visit, definitely check out both the exhibit on Thomas Jefferson's Library and Creating the United States.

I should really let the pictures speak for the rest of the weekend... but suffice it to say we made it back home to some relaxation including National Treasure II (we were motivated by the beautiful structure that we'd just visited), of COURSE some guac and TJ's spicy flaxseed chips, followed by a yummy dinner of our latest go-to... Honey-soy-basil grilled pork tenderloin, balsamic dressed crunchy romaine salad, and Costco garlic bread. But the crowning glory was my attempt at my mom's amazing ice cream cake - and granted he is a bit biased, I am happy to report that a certain Grubbs family member gives this recipe 5-stars and we all highly recommend you try it.

We finished the night, and essentially another short DC weekend, with a night tour of the monuments and the WWII Memorial.

And I leave you with these images - to help you reflect on and remember those who gave their lives in sacrifice of all that they believed this Nation could become. We are so grateful.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nothing Neutral About It

What comes to mind when you think of Switzerland? Mountains... Alps? A neutral county? Skiing? Anything to do with winter and snow? Chocolate... fondue... bruschetta... my mind, as typical, wanders to things related to food. Wait... bruschetta? How'd that slip in there?

It's true, this is probably the only place that you're going to see anyone pair bruschetta and Switzerland, but did you know that Switzerland's National Day is August 1st? What a great stretch... our National Ice Cream Day was July 20th and Switzerland celebrates their day soon after!

And to celebrate, Zorra of Kochtopf has invited us to send her something Swiss... OR red and/or white! And here's where my fresh tomato bruschetta comes in... not to mention it has been the perfect recipe to use up our monstrous tomato plants currently taking over our backyard.

We have enjoyed this recently perhaps too many times, but it can't be helped since it's a delicious and easy appetizer and just feels perfectly "summer" since I usually pick the fresh tomatoes from our garden about 30 minutes before the dish is on the table!

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

1 baguette, sliced into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices
3/4 c olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves

my measurement: two handfuls of cherry tomatoes (or as many fresh tomatoes as you need for your crowd), chopped
2 TBSP+ fresh basil, cut in a fine chiffonade
pinch of salt
balsamic vinegar, to taste (about 2-3 TBSP)

Preheat your oven to 350. In one layer, spread baguette slices on a greased baking sheet. Brush each slice with a conservative amount of olive oil. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 5-7 minutes, being careful not to burn. Immediately upon taking the baguette slices out, rub each slice on one side with the cut side of the garlic cloves; reserve the cloves after using.

Evenly dice the tomatoes and put into a large bowl. Mince the garlic cloves used for rubbing the baguette slices. Add the garlic, basil, salt, and balsamic vinegar. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

To serve individual appetizers, prepare each baguette slice with a spoonful of tomatoes. Or, to prepare a self-serve option, put the tomato mixture into a serving bowl and place the garlicky-toasted bread slices close by.

However you celebrate Switzerland's National Day, I hope it's delicious! Check Zorra's round-up on the big day, August 1st!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


For the 5 of you who read my blog, you know my posts are usually characterized by a somewhat unrelated (or at least cheesy and/or attempt-at-being-humorous) title... but I didn't want this one to be misunderstood or to risk misleading anyone...

I . Gorman Jewelers delivers, hands-down, second-to-none, the best service I have ever experienced in my life.

No matter what the industry, geographical market, etc. is - I. Gorman could run seminars on superior, consistent customer service. *no coincidence... I deal a lot with imparting information and training about service excellence at work and have tried numerous times to have these folks put on our agenda, but since they aren't seen as relevant to the world of higher education, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands

I have paid this lovely jewelry store quite a few visits during my tenure at my current job, and even though the amount of money actually paid to the aforementioned lovely store is a lot closer to $0 than I'm sure they'd like, they treat me, every single time I walk in there, like I just bought one of their BEAUTIFUL hand-crafted pieces.

I could belabor this point but I think it's pretty simple, I. Gorman Jewelers wrote the book on service. *oh, and Z Gallerie did NOT read it, but that's for another post

Tofu at the Beach?

Two questions come to mind -

  1. How did I end up spending the evening at the beach since we live in DC?

  2. And why tofu? Did I actually eat/make/order it?
Two quick answers -
  1. Thanks to Clare & Don's celebrating the return visit of a certain American in Copenhagen

  2. I've never seen a menu from a restaurant that wasn't vegetarian with so many tofu-filled dishes offered as I did last night
So while I can't comment on the tofu prepared at Clare & Don's Beach Shack, I can highly recommend their Pomegarita (pomegranite margarita) and their regular Margarita on the rocks, as well as their Beach-A-Rito with blackened shrimp. I also heard close to silence around the table once we finally got our food (their service was akin to a lazy evening at the beach, if ONLY we'd been at the beach!), which I always take to be a good sign. Even though the service wasn't quite speedy enough for us DC-folk (though it did force us to sit and enjoy the meal, a rarity around these parts), the restaurant provided a fun, laid-back atmosphere and really tasty food (something for everyone and health-conscious options like brown rice, too!), especially for the price.

We'll be back... and next time I'm trying the hush puppies.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oh Captain, My Captain

I feel as though this ship has been incessantly calling out to me for a few months now so I finally gave in. And I think we will readily admit that it was one of those them temptations we are glad we caved into.

This was also our first foray into the world of our fun new Cuisinart Electric Skillet. I'd seen a similar recipe in the freebie booklet that came along with our slow cooker, but had passed it by, though, not without a long second glance as I'm pretty hooked on any dish that involves chicken with tons of veggies.

Ever since our pantry was stocked with fresh new herbs (okay, I got only two or three new ones - I'm not one to splurge, even on amazing herbs), I've been looking for delicious recipes in which to use them. This is certainly one of them - it made for a beautiful plate, easily covered almost all of the healthy food groups, and had a great mixture of tastes (loved the hint of curry!); this recipe quickly found its way into the "must make again" folder!!

Chicken Country Captain
*curious about the name of this dish?

1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts *I pounded mine out for even thickness
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 bell peppers, chopped (any mixture of yellow, green, and red - you know I used frozen)
1 TBSP curry powder
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes with their juices
1 c chicken stock, nonfat, low sodium
2/3 c golden raisins
4 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
2 TBSP slivered, toasted almonds

*I did make this in our electric skillet but you could just as easily make it on the stovetop - I did love the skillet, though, for not making the kitchen quite so hot!

Preheat electric skillet to 400 degrees. Combine flour with salt, pepper, and cayenne in a flat bowl; lightly coat chicken breasts, shaking off excess.

Pour olive oil into skillet and swirl to coat the bottom. Brown chicken breasts about 4 minutes per side or until golden. Remove and keep warm. Reduce heat to 200 degrees. Cook the garlic, onion, and peppers for 2-3 minutes or until slightly softened. Add curry powder, thyme, and bay leaf; stir. Add tomatoes and chicken stock, bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts, loosely cover skillet and simmer for 12-15 minutes.

Remove cover; add raisins and green onions. Simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. Remove and discard bay leaf. Garnish with chopped parsley and toasted almonds. Serve with brown rice.

Adapted from the Cuisinart Electric Skillet recipe booklet

Other excuses to use your dried herbs and spices or a garden full of fresh herbs:
The Tastiest Turkey Burgers Ever
Grilled Salmon, Basil Grilled Shrimp, and Roasted Red Potatoes
Italian Sausage Soup
Tilapia in Mustard Cream Sauce

Monday, July 14, 2008

Shoulda Known...

Had I thought this all the way through, I would have guessed that someone out in the big huge food blogging community (that I sometimes pretend to be a part of) would have started an Ice Cream blogging event in the hot and humid month of July.

Thankfully, though, as friendly food bloggers would go, the hostess is being kind enough to let me enter with my recently posted July 4th creation.

Who knew that National Ice Cream Day is July 20th - we must celebrate! Another round of deliciously fresh homemade vanilla ice cream (*note my substitution) is already in the freezer... but maybe a quick recipe of our other favorite, peppermint ice cream or perhaps a rich ice cream cake.

I already know what's in the works... but you'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Red, Vanilla, and Blue

Another food-eating holiday has come and gone... though I am happy to report that this one was taken full-advantage of.

Since I tend to be a wee Patriotic... and not to mention finally having an entire house and backyard deck to play with, I was excited to make a whole day of our Fourth.

We enjoyed the afternoon with Bril, Karen, and their little Olivia and our neighbors, Andrea and Chris, as well as pretty much the rest of our street. We still love neighbors!

Everyone came over in the late afternoon and we snacked on some guac and new chips (not being a traitor to our favorite TJ's spicy flaxseed chips but just trying something new... oh, and they were sold in large quantities at Costco), fresh tomato bruschetta self-serve style, and an experiment in chicken wings (this recipe is fantastic - I do recommend the Tabasco addition... and I also recommend buying the chicken already cut into drummettes... chopping cartilage was NOT FUN).

A few hours later, we had the guys grilling the burgers, my mom's 5-bean bake (a new staple for us) cooking in the oven, and I put the finishing touches on our favorite "fancy" fresh green salad - complete with crisp Romaine, candied walnuts, homemade balsamic vinegarette, sliced scallions and pears, and bleu cheese. Karen had perfectly added to the menu with her crowd-pleasing "cheesy potatoes" *think home-cooking at its best here.

After being treated to some neighborhood fireworks intermittent with the scattered showers that have plagued DC Fourths for the past few years, we were all ready for a sweet to finish the night. I was so excited to share my new-found homemade vanilla ice cream recipe. *I substituted 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract as I'm still holding out on buying real vanilla beans - the horror, I know It was another 7/4/08 experiment (much like the chicken wings) and turned out to be a keeper.

We enjoyed scoops of the fresh ice cream either as part of a homemade chocolate chip cookie sandwich or just as an accessory to the traditional cookies.

It was a great day spent with great friends; we hope for a repeat at the start of the Olympics - we're considering everyone taking a country per night or just doing one huge "Opening Ceremonies" party. be continued

Thursday, July 03, 2008

How Dare She!

I'm not an Oprah-watcher myself... but thanks to Kristy, I have an up-to-date report that Oprah has officially called me out (I mean, not by name, but you know... close enough).

She claims THIS is the best turkey burger ever! And to that, I say... Them's fightin' words! GAME ON!

A taste test is certainly called for... can her turkey burgers from Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach possibly be as good as Christie's? You can bet the next time ground turkey is on sale (usually $1.99/lb), I will be giving her recipe a try. Let me know if any of you venture into Trump-land with Oprah's recommendation...

This is WAR!!!

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