Category Archives: vegetables

Post-classes: Vacation Day Nine (Tallahassee: Edward Ball Wakulla Springs Park)

I decided to take my parents toย Wakulla Springsย on their last day here, because it was a sunny day and the last time I had attempted to take it in it had started pouring rain as soon as we got on the trail. It turned out to be a great decision because we saw plenty of turtles, alligators, and even got a chance to see manatees in the wild! This is what I’d been hoping to show my parents all along, so I’m glad we all got a chance to experience it together. If you go to Wakulla Springs, I STRONGLY recommend taking the river boat tour. It’s reasonably priced and without it you most likely will have a very difficult time spotting anything. the glass bottom boat tour wasn’t running when we went, because of “dark water” but we still saw plenty. I highly recommend visiting this park. Also, you will get to see the untouched “real” Florida if you take the tour (from the boat), at the end of the stretch of spring where people are allowed to go, and where they only visit a few times a year. The first and third movies in The Creature of the Black Lagoon series were filmed here, as well as Tarzan. If you’re going to take the trail anytime in the spring/summer, wear bug spray! I got many mosquito bites. We did see some lizards though.

main sign

We even got to see a turtle on our way into the park, crossing the street! The car you see in the sign above contained people that also stopped to admire the turtle.

turtleeeee

one

two

three

four

five

six

seven

eight

nine

ten

beautiful

so nice

There is also a swimming area, a beach-y place to lay about in the sun, and a lodge with a soda shop (for milkshakes, hot dogs, etc.) and a real restaurant where we chose to eat lunch.

lodge

outside

ceiling

picture

Here’s the menu:

menu one

menu two

We got the Chicken Caesar salad, Po Boy shrimp sandwich, and the grilled shrimp salad.

caesar

shrimp salad

sandwich

Everything was great! My parents agreed the shrimp was very fresh and I thought my salad was great too. The lodge also offers lodging (imagine that) and beer/wine. Anyway, highly recommended, and a great way to end my parent’s visit.

lizard!

Post & photos by: Melissa

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Post-classes: Vacation Day Three (Atlanta: Aquarium & Silver Skillet & Poor Calvin’s Absolute Fusion)

This morning we got up early and promptly went back to sleep after the alarm woke us up. We headed out to the Silver Skillet, a local diner, for breakfast. Afterward, we went to the Georgia aquarium and we finally ended up eating dinner at Poor Calvin’s Absolute Fusion, which is a Thai/Asian Fusion restaurant.

My mom did both the beluga experience and the whale shark swim. I went around with my dad to ALL the other parts of the Georgia aquarium. But lets start with the breakfast at the Silver Skillet.

Silver skillet

front

menufront

two

three

four

inside

table

I got the sandwich with bacon eggs and cheese, my mom got the ham skillet and my dad got eggs and sausage.

sandwich

ham skillet

egg sausage

We also had biscuits, which were good, and I was SO excited to see this tabletop because it is almost exactly the same as our kitchen counter used to be (our house was built in the 60s.) So I loved it. (those shapes!!)

Next we went to the aquarium.

lionfish

turtle

tanky

seahorse

seahorse 2

jellies

fishes

fin

grouper?

whale shark

penguins

Beluga whales!

beluga

bel

whale

fish

snake

Albino alligator!

albino

two

three

Piranha

fishie

WHALE SHARK!!!!

whaleshark

Behind the scenes: They grow their own coral!

growing coral

more

Sorry Atlanta lovers, as a Seattle fan I’m still a bit upset over the playoffs. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

BOO FALCONS

Still a cool dolphin though.

still cool

another

last one

Lastly, we headed over to Poor Calvin’s, and parked by central park.

inside

one

20130502-215652.jpg

Thought I would show the drinks up closer.

drinks

I had the crispy beef, my mom had the unicorn fish, and my dad had the steak. I also ordered the sangria (amazing) and my mom had the “Frankly my dear” cocktail. Both were great, and all the food was too.

We had the calamari as an appetizer.

calamari

steak

fish

beef

sangria

rose cocktail

The staff was really friendly and they also gave us a gift at the end of our meal: a chocolate-covered apple with a 15% off an entree coupon.

dessert

We very much enjoyed our day today and had a much-needed great meal and drink at the end. Glad we didn’t settle for the loud, not-as-great hotel bar. ๐Ÿ™‚
If I lived in Atlanta, I think I’d go to Poor Calvin’s to drink as well, seemed like a very nice bar with friendly staff.

Post and photos by: Melissa


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


Sweet potato chips take 2

I had some sweet potatoes left over from when I last made sweet potato chips, and I figured it was about time to use them. I decided to make sweet potato chips again, but to fry them this time. Here’s a recipe for some slightly BBQ-flavored fried sweet potato chips. You can also use regular potatoes, (I’d use yukon gold given the choice) but this is what I had to work with and they tasted great!

Ingredients:

2-3 medium sweet potatoes
Enough oil to cover the bottom of pan about 1 inch

For the seasoning (all can be adjusted to taste):
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Recipe:

1. Prepare your seasoning mix while you heat the oil over medium-high heat to about 350 degrees.

seasoned

2. Slice your sweet potatoes to desired chip thickness (if you have a mandolin or v-slicer that would be great too, but I just used a sharp kitchen knife.) You may peel them or not, just be sure to clean them well.

slices

3. Add sweet potatoes to oil in batches (careful not to splash hot oil!) and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. When cooked, carefully remove (I used a slotted spoon) and drain on paper towel-lined plate. Repeat in batches until all are cooked!

frying

chips

4. Add chips to bowl and toss with seasoning. Enjoy!

yum

Post & photos by: Melissa


Pizza!

So I made a pizza with a pre-made dough ball from Publix. And it turned out so much better than I even thought was possible! The best part is that they were recently buy one get one free, so I have another in my freezer to use soon. Just thought I would share that with you.

this is the frozen one

So, I took the pizza dough, after letting it rest on the counter for an hour, and with floured hands, pressed it down into a circle-shape on a Pam-ed pizza sheet.

totally a circle

I then used some pasta sauce that contains sausage and garlic (though yours doesn’t have to!), which I had previously heated on the stove to make it thicker because I didn’t see pizza sauce at the store, and spread that on top of my pizza crust. I also added spices to the sauce while I was cooking it on the stovetop. I topped this with grated mozzarella cheese and then sliced mushrooms and basil.

looking gooooood

I placed the pizza in my 400 degree Fahrenheit oven and baked for 25 minutes (though I ended up checking it at 10, 20, and 25 minutes.)

tah-dah

It turned out beautifully and tasted great!

nom nom

This was so easy and a great way to make your own pizza/choose whatever you’d like to have on it for not a lot of money. The pizza dough was BOGO (as mentioned above) and only $2.69 regular price. The crust wasn’t soggy at all, it was very firm throughout and I feel like even with just cheese this would’ve been great. ๐Ÿ™‚

Post and photos by: Melissa


Black bean and guacamole tostadas(?)

I’m not sure exactly what to call these, but I got my idea from this recipe so I’m going to call them tostadas. This recipe makes a really easy snack, lunch, or dinner (and I suppose breakfast, but I think that would be a little weird.) Here’s my version:

Ingredients:

3 large tortillas (your choice)
6 Tablespoons grated cheddar cheese (or more if you’d like!)
1 can black beans, drained
1 Tablespoon of taco seasoning (from a packet)
Cilantro (shredded, to taste, I used about 2 Tablespoons)
3 large spoonfuls of guacamole (I made mine with a powder mix+avocados)

Recipe:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the drained black beans in a small saucepan and heat over medium. Add taco seasoning and stir, then add cilantro and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes, until heated through.

all stirred in

 

2. Spoon some of your black bean mixture onto a tortilla, and top with guacamole.

toppings

 

3. Fold your tortilla as desired, and top with cheese.

topped with cheese

 

4. Bake for about 10 minutes. Then, raise heat to “broil” for about 3 minutes, with oven cracked open, or until cheese has slightly browned. Remove from oven (carefully!)

crispy cheese

 

5. Enjoy!

so cheesy! :D

 

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa