Monthly Archives: April 2013

Post-classes: Vacation Day One (Atlanta)

Hello! I am no longer a student. Well, I guess I technically still am until Saturday when I graduate. But I’m done with classes. Anyway, I’m taking a mini vacation with my parents to celebrate and the first step of this trip was for me to drive up and stay in a hotel for a day in Atlanta. So I have done that. And now I will let you know how it went. 🙂

First, the weather was beautiful. I hit a few minor traffic problems but nothing to complain about (which, for me, is rare.) First I’ll show you the view from the hotel. Not too shabby, I’d say.

view1

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view3

When I got here the system had gone down so they had a huge backlog of guests and I was getting a bit anxious, but the hotel manager (I think?) came and offered everyone standing in line a drink, which was very nice. Of course he checked my ID, but I’m welllllll over 21 now so it wasn’t an issue. Once I got settled I headed out to check out places to eat and get some dinner since I hadn’t eaten since I had eggs for breakfast.

I ended up at Grant Central Pizza & Pasta. Decent pizza, but what I really wanted was somewhere convenient. And this was less than a mile from the hotel and an easy walk (I was tired of driving.) Boy was I glad I walked because when I got back to the hotel my street had turned into a one way to deal with all the traffic from the Atlanta Braves game! I also got to eat my pizza on a really dirty picnic bench in the park. So, you know, it was good all around.

pretty

pizzaaaaa

I also saw Dakota Blue, which is across the street from the pizza place and is supposed to be nice for brunch.

insides

inside bar

pizza box and

meat lovers

my park bench

Then I walked through the area (Grant Park) and took some pictures of houses and a church. I also found a yard flamingo. 🙂

signage

cutes

very cute\

house

side view

another one of course

one side

and the other

built ittttt

windowses

sign for church

pretty

I was far from these

flamingooooo!

I believe this had something to do with the “park” itself.

the park

I also came across a random patch of grass that I guess was ALSO a park???

this is a park in itself

Smoking is prohibited on THIS patch of grass. Ahem. Anyway, after I got back to the hotel I decided to check out what all the fuss was about and it was for the Braves game, so I walked over to the stadium to take some pictures from afar. They also have a tribute to the 1996 Olympics.

can you see it??

how about now?

fielding

There was also a tribute to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics lining the sidewalk on the way to the field.

 

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post and photos by: Melissa

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Cranberry Pecan Spinach Salad

First I thought I’d start this post off by sharing a bit of the lovely spring weather I’ve been lucky enough to experience lately…

lovely lake

And show your our ducks. It’s a Muscovy duck, I believe.

ducky

Anyway, I’ve been really busy lately and haven’t been cooking a lot, so I decided to try eating healthy by re-creating a salad that I had in a hotel restaurant over the summer during my road trip. The restaurant is Kahill’s Steak-Fish Chophouse in South Sioux City, Nebraska. It was the BEST restaurant we visited during the trip and even though if you know anything about me you know I’m not into salad or most raw vegetables, this was the best salad I have ever had. All I had to remind me of the ingredients was an at-best blurry picture of the menu.

tah-dah

So, without further ado, here is my take on this salad. This recipe is for TWO SERVINGS but ingredient amounts can be adjusted according to your preferences. Obviously to make this salad vegetarian-friendly you can just remove the bacon!

Ingredients:

4-6 oz. Baby spinach
1 pear
1/8 cup gorgonzola cheese
2 strips bacon
1/4 cup red onion
4 oz. spiced pecans (RECIPE HERE, or use own recipe, or purchase from store)
1/4 cup crasisins or dried cranberries
Cranberry vinaigrette (to taste. I couldn’t find this so I used raspberry pomegranate vinaigrette but I find that this salad doesn’t even need dressing)

Recipe:

1. Wash and drain spinach.

2. Chop pear into small cubes.

pear cubes

3. Cook bacon and crumble into desired size.

bacon-y

4. Finely chop red onion.

5. Add all ingredients to bowl and toss.

tossed

6. Serve with or without your vinaigrette.

salad complete!

with vinaigrette

7. Enjoy!

Post & photos by: Melissa


Vegetarian burger patty (quinoa, panko and garlic)

Although for one summer I was a pescatarian (which wasn’t horrible, although it lacked variety and did get very tricky to go out to eat/side note, wordpress tells me that pescatarian isn’t a word which seems awfully silly) I have never before attempted to make my own vegetarian burger patties, and have instead opted for the beefy variety. In case you’re unaware, a pescatarian is a vegetarian who eats seafood products (fish, scallops, crab, etc.) but not other meat (chicken, beef, pork, etc.)

But back on topic. I came across these burgers on one of my favorite food blogs, which I’ve previously mentioned in posts, How Sweet It Is. I happened to already possess most of the ingredients, and I was sold on the idea of a veggie burger with garlic and red bell pepper in it, as those are two of my favorite ingredients to cook in just about anything. So, without further babbling or praise for my favorite food blog, I’ll share the recipe because these turned out delicious and were rather easy to put together.

Ingredients (for 4 patties):

1 can (15 oz.) white cannellini beans
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped red peppers (the recipe calls for roasted, but I didn’t have time for that. I’m sure it would add to the flavor.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon flour
Olive oil (for cooking)
Other desired toppings (lettuce, tomato, whatever. I like my burgers plain. Cheese or bacon would be a good addition though, in my opinion. Unless you’re actually a vegetarian. Also optional: buns)

Recipe:

1. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.

mmmm

2. In another bowl, roughly mash beans with a fork until smooth. This is not going to look pretty.

appetizing right?

3. In large(ish) bowl, combine beans, quinoa, garlic, and red peppers. Stir to combine. Add the bread crumb mixture and your beaten egg, and combine again. Finally, add the flour (I almost forgot!) as this is an important step to ensure your patty doesn’t crumble and fall apart when you cook it.

combine that stuff

ready for patty-cake

4. Form 4 roughly equal-size balls of…veggie patty. It’s ok if not all your beans are smashed.

play ball

5. Coat a medium-large pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high (about 7 on my stovetop.) Add your patties and flatten, making sure you press the sides with a spatula so it sticks together rather than crumbling at the edges. You may cook them all at once, but I did choose to do it separately, as it was my first time trying this and I didn’t want to ruin all of them at the same time.

patty

After about 5 minutes (depending on temperature) flip, and it should be golden-brown and crispy. Cook the other side to the same crispness and then remove from heat. Repeat for all patties.

crispy~

6. Enjoy!

mmm crispy patties for me!

Post & photos by: Melissa


Asiago garlic bread (loaf)

Since I had already tried making asiago bagels I decided to do something different this time, and bake a loaf of asiago cheese bread. I chose to add garlic to mine because that’s always a winning combination. The recipe calls for optional rosemary, which I think would be a great choice too. It should be noted that this recipe takes SO long for the dough to be ready to bake ~3 to 3.5 hours, with steps in between wait times. But let me just tell you that it was so worth it. This bread is light, cheesy and flavorful. It would’ve been crispier if I could’ve baked it a little longer but you may know by now that I get very paranoid about burning my baked goods.

Ingredients:

3-3.5 cups of bread flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 package dry active yeast
1.25 cups water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons of rosemary or thyme (optional) and/or 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1.25 cups asiago cheese or other firm cheese, cubed (swiss, gruyere, etc.)
Cooking spray (like Pam)

Recipe:

1. In a large bowl, combine 1.5 cups flour, the sugar and yeast and mix. Add the 1.25 cups of warm water (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and stir until all combined into a ball. Let stand about 1 hour, until bubbly.

first

bubbly

2. Stir in the oil, rosemary (or other herb/garlic) and salt with a wooden spoon. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is soft, easily leaves sides of bowl, and is easily handled. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 15 minutes.

handle that

3. Sprinkle flour on flat surface (counter or cutting board) and place dough. Knead the dough, pulling toward you, pressing away with your palm and rotating 1/4 each time between pressing. Sprinkle more flour if the dough sticks. Knead in 1 cup of the cheese. Spray a bowl with the cooking spray and place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover and let rise 45-60 minutes, until about doubled in size.

cheesy

poof cheese

shiny

4. Deflate your dough with your fist. Spray a cookie sheet with the cooking spray. Gently form your dough into a football shape, about 12 inches long. Coat loaf with flour. Let rise in a warm place, covered, another 45-60 minutes until about doubled in size.

dough ready!

5. Place an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan halfway filled with water on the bottom rack of your oven. Heat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Sprinkle or spray your loaf with water and sprinkle desired amount of flour. Cut a line in the middle of your bread lengthwise about 1/2 inch deep and fill with remaining cheese.

full of cheese

7. Place in oven on middle rack, above the water-filled pan’s rack. Bake about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake another 20-25 minutes, until browned and cheesy. At your own risk, bake a bit longer to get it really crusty. I was unable to do so, but this bread is still delicious and will get harder if left on the counter.

yum

8. Enjoy! Experiment with your own combination of spices, cheese, garlic, onions, whatever! I think this is a versatile recipe that you can easily customize. 🙂

cheese holes!

Post & photos by: Melissa