Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Risotto!

Have you ever made Risotto? It's delicious. It's kind of like what would happen if oatmeal and rice had a baby. I mean, that it's thick, creamy, and comforting like oatmeal but made of rice and not sweet like rice pudding but savory and scrumptious. It's not too difficult although I think it has a difficult reputation.

I based mine off this recipe. but I changed some stuff. Here are my calorie approximations for my altered version, and instructions:

Step 1: Saute some olive oil, onion, and garlic in a pan. Enjoy the smell.

Step 2: Add the rice, I used 1 cup. Straight into the pan. Stir to coat the rice with the oil. Let it sit in there a minute and get warm.

Step 3: Add 1 cup of white wine. Stir and simmer until it is mostly absorbed.

Step 4: Add 3 cups of warmed stock, I used vegetable this time. Add them one cup at a time stirring in between. Do not add the next cup until the previous one is mostly absorbed. The first picture is after adding liquid. The second is "mostly absorbed." This process should take a while so don't get too impatient. Sing yourself a song or something. I think this is why Risotto gets a poor reputation but it isn't hard, it's just stirring. I think you could even have a husband or a child do the stirring. Note: Do all your prep stuff first, you don't want to be fumbling with the wine bottle opener or can opener while you're supposed to be stirring.

Step 5: Taste a grain of rice, it should be tender. If not... add more liquid.

Step 6: Add 1 can of pumpkin. Stir.

Step 7: Add fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, not quite 1tbsp of butter and grated fresh parmesan reggiano.

Step 8: Try not to devour too quickly and miss the taste.

I was thinking, this could be super delicious on thanksgiving. Especially if you're not too married to mashed potatoes and stuffing. Pretend Menu: turkey, pumpkin risotto, roasted brussel sprouts with parmesan, fresh cranberry compote, and pear tart for dessert. (I make up menus while stirring)

Happy Eating!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Banana Bread

Baking is so much work. The measuring, the thinking, the many ingredients, the timing. Cooking is much easier, a pinch of something into a bowl, a taste here and there.

There are some wonderful things about baking that you don't get with cooking. 1. The big reveal at the end, what will it taste like? 2. Being there as the whole house smells of banana, sugar, and cinnamon. 3. And of course, the fun fact that you bake more desserts than you cook. Banana bread is more like dessert than bread, evident in my calorie approximations. Warning, don't click if you think of banana bread as a serving of fruit!

I think baking would be more fun if I had a team of people to measure out all my ingredients and set my mise en place before I swooped onto the scene in a cute apron to assemble, like on tv.

My banana bread recipe was altered from this one. It's bananas, brown and white sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, butter, milk, pecans, chocolate chips, and vanilla. There are a million options when it comes to banana bread so you can pretty much take whatever you have and turn it into banana bread, it's like leftover bread. I found a recipe online using canned pineapple and shredded coconut.

Happy Baking!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Status Update

I've been sick all week and I hate being sick. I know, no one likes being sick, but I really hate it! Unfortunately, that has been my life; waking up late, walking to the couch, and napping on the couch all day. I went to a Walgreen's Take Care Clinic yesterday after being sent home from work. I'm now pumped full of inhaled steroids and antibiotics. I'm feeling the most awake I've felt all week, although I am still in my pajamas past noon.

To the point... I did not meal plan, grocery shop, or cook anything. Our eating out budget has skyrocketed this month and I am so ashamed I'm not even going to tell you how much we are over, it might be about double. Sigh. There is a feeling of complete failure when you look at your spreadsheet and realize that you didn't meet your goals. On a positive note, we may have totally overspent but we didn't swipe any credit cards!

I have little to blog about considering there has been a lot of nothing at my house.
Eliza did leap onto the couch to cuddle with me which made me feel better for 3 minutes until she stepped on me and about crushed me. Here is a blurry picture of my week with the two puppies.


My mom has always loved tea. As far back as I can remember my mom would drink hot tea when she was upset or if it was cold outside. She drank black tea with milk or cream and I thought it was exotic.

We began to drink tea together as I entered into middle school and as I learned more about tea the more I realized that it's popularity stretches far past my mom. There are a few basic kinds of tea; black, white, green, herbal, and red. Although I would fight you on red tea, called rooibos, because it isn't tea, it's an african bush. It's considered tea nonetheless and I am trying to accept it. I like black tea (no cream) but I normally prefer white or herbal teas. You should know that you can't put cream into herbal tea, it will curdle immediately.

There is a store near where I live, called Infusion Tea. It's amazing. They carry dozens of teas and I love it. It's like the golden corral of tea choices. Right now I am sipping their Green Tea Jubilee. I'm also coughing and sniffling. Whenever I am sick I crave tea. They say it has antioxidants or whatever that can make you healthy so maybe my body is craving what it needs.

Do you crave certain things when you're sick? Chicken soup never did much for me, I just don't like it.
Happy Feel Better Eating!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini

For our vegetarian week I included these Stuffed Zucchini in our meal plans. I love making stuffed Zucchini. Something about making those little zucchini boats all carved out in the middle. They're so cute!

I (pretty much) followed a recipe too! I didn't measure anything but I did look at the ingredent list! The recipe is from Real Simple. I love their meal ideas and I often get a lot of inspiration from the website and the magazine. It's nice to have a recipe base that uses ingredients I actually have. What good is a recipe that calls for things I never keep in the house?

Real Simple also includes nutrition information on all their recipes, which is so great! Here is the one for this recipe. It's high in fat, thanks for the cheese, almonds, and olive oil. Keep in mind that the amounts are estimates, and if you added or removed an ingredient it could change.

Nutritional Information

  • Per Serving
  • Calories 452
  • Fat 28g
  • Sat Fat 6g
  • Cholesterol 15mg
  • Carbohydrate 34g
  • Sodium 883mg
  • Protein 20g
  • Fiber 7g
  • Sugar 5g

Happy Eating!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I haven't done a "product feature" in a while. In the past I've talked about my favorite cookies, or my favorite pickles but I think it's about time I introduced you to my favorite soda...
Cheerwine. It's seriously delicious. It's a it's a sweet cherry soda with similar (but better) tastes as Dr. Pepper. It's made in Salisbury, N.C. and it's only distributed to the Carolinas, which is plenty upsetting when you live in Orlando. Chris was able to try Cheerwine for the first time when we took our honeymoon in Saluda, N.C. He loved it, of course.
How is there a cheerwine on my counter, since I haven't been back to North Carolina since the honeymoon? I'm so glad you asked! 4Rivers Smokehouse has started carrying Cheerwine. This is the best thing to happen to Central Florida in a long time.
The original Cheerwine in the glass bottle is made with cane sugar and it's a sweet treat without all the corn sweetener of many sodas.

Happy Eating (or drinking in this case!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Wednesday

Can you believe it's already Friday?
Things in our week have been hectic! My work schedule was changed around and the meal plan was given a good shaking.
On Wednesday we were going to make Pumpkin Risotto which I was super excited about but that didn't happen. What did happen was Chris and I drove 30 minutes out of our way to eat some delicious pizza and have some pumpkin beers.

This restaurant has the coolest pizza, it's one big big slice with whatever toppings you want. I had
onion, mushroom, and fresh tomatoes on my giant slice and Chris had just cheese on his giant slice.

Overall, it was a great surprise date night. I like being out of the house but not working.
I hope any surprises during your week have been as good as mine.

Happy Surprises!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spaghetti Squash

I'd heard about spaghetti squash from someone at work. She raved about it! Whenever someone talks passionately about food, my ears and tummy seem to perk up and listen. She said it was her absolute favorite thing and when I found out they were in season, it was a quick decision.

First I had to bake the squash. 350 degrees for about an hour. I poked it with a fork a bunch of times, set it on a baking sheet, and let it go. Then, an hour later, I sliced it in half and scooped out the seeds. They look like pumpkin seeds but you have to be a little more delicate than when you carve a pumpkin since the squash part is so stringy.

Then I took a fork and scooped out the squash, it really does come out in tiny little strings that look so much like spaghetti. We had it with a jar of tomato basil pasta sauce. Tell me that doesn't look so much like traditional spaghetti!? So cute! I love re-purposing food to look like other food.

It's a little crunchier than pasta, but really I loved it! It was about as bland/flavorful as plain spaghetti with maybe a nuttier flavor. We talked about whether you could trick someone into thinking it was pasta, and I doubt it but I bet they would like it.

We even had garlic bread since there wasn't so many grains in the "pasta." Chris was excited about garlic bread. Here is a link to my calorie approximations.

Happy Mid-Week Dinners!!

Tuesday Lunch

It was 10:30 at night when I realized I hadn't made lunch for the next day. Oops. The great thing about a meal plan though is that I knew exactly what I was making and I knew we had the ingredients. (Chris was super excited I trashed his Burger King dreams)

Succotash with "chicken" which isn't chicken at all, it's soy protein and wheat gluten. Gardein brand has 90 calories, 2 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein and 0 sugar! I had $1 off coupon. I'll be honest, the flavors were little bland, but so is plain grilled chicken! Compare the ingredients to a chicken nugget and I bet you'll be able to pronounce mine and not the "real" chicken nugget.
I've made succotash before and we both loved it. Plus, I had half a bag of frozen shelled edamame leftover from dinner the night before. Brief refresher: Corn, Tomatoes, Edamame, Onion, little olive oil and a little vinegar plus Spices. It's totally that easy. I even used canned corn and tomatoes; no salt or sugar!
We're all set in the fridge with 2 lunches for less than $3 a serving!

Happy Lunching!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Groceries Delivered?

I had a small procedure done on monday to test some stuff... it's super boring and I'm not really sure why I had it done because the doctor was all, "it definitely looks fine."
ANYWAY... I can't do anything! I'm not allowed to clean, cook, grocery shop, shower, walk the puppies, or basically do anything at all. It's unfortunate because today is my grocery shopping day. (I'll still post my meal plans but who knows how it will work out since I'll have to squeeze grocery shopping in tomorrow)

This has me thinking... can you have groceries delivered? I've heard of it in larger cities like New York and places where you don't necessarily have a car. I've also heard of it for elderly folks who can't make it to the store anymore. What about the rest of us?

This what I've found:
Net Grocer: This one is basically like online shopping from an entire grocery store. You choose what you want, click "add to cart" and voila! It's delivered to your door. They even have a "Natural & Organic" section. They ship using FedEx, and shipping costs are linked to how much you're spending total. They have everything from cookies to butter to deli meats although prices are steep!

Schwans: My mom actually uses Schwans for some things. Their foods are pretty much all frozen. Frozen meats, vegetables, fruits and pre-cooked meals. The food looks pretty delicious and the things I've tasted at my mom's were great. This is a cool place for ordering if you don't have time for much meal planning. It's not per item groceries. They have a "Live Smart" section that has lower fat, sodium, calories and no trans fats. Prices don't seem too high but there is a delivery fee that I couldn't see without signing up for an account, which I didn't do.

We Go Shop: This website takes your grocery list, and sends someone to the store for you. They use to create the list, which is a super fun free service where you create your shopping list in their forms, but you provide all the information about quantity and brand. (You can use Lifejot without using We Go Shop) For up to $100 of groceries there is a $24 service fee but get this, they will take your coupons to the store for you!

Happy Grocery Delivery Day!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meal Planning!

Chris and I are trying something fun this week... it's VEGETARIAN WEEK. When Chris and I met I had been a vegetarian for about a year and a half. 6 months later He had converted me into a fish and chicken eater and not too long after that my vegetarian days were over. I loved being a vegetarian. I'm super super excited about this meal plan! plus... I am working during the day almost all week which means dinners together.

Dinner: Edamame & Publix Sushi

Lunch: Edamame, Corn, and Tomato Succotash.
Dinner: Spaghetti Squash, disguised as pasta, with tomato sauce and garlic bread.

Lunch: Black bean and soy crumble Chili, maybe in the slow cooker!?
Dinner: Pumpkin Risotto, loosely using this recipe.

Lunch: Zucchini with Quinoa, using this recipe.
Dinner: Stuffed Peppers, using leftover chili for stuffing.

Friday: (Melissa working a double)

Saturday: (Melissa working a double)

Happy Vegetarian Eating!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bacon, Banana, Chocolate, and Peanut Butter

In my last blog I shared about our amazing experience at rm seafood. What I skimmed over was our DESSERT. You probably already know how much I love dessert. At my first glance of the rm seafood menu I knew this was the dessert for us on our special outing. Here is the thing about desserts at restaurants, normally they suck. You know it's true. It's previously frozen dried out brownie with generic ice cream and corn syrup drizzle. Not delicious.

Vegas is known for Elvis, who I admittedly know nothing about. I know he was a singer, I know that he danced almost as good as I do after a few glasses of wine and I know that he might have had an affinity for sparkles based on the costumes I've seen. I learned something new about him this last time in Las Vegas. He liked to eat bacon, banana, chocolate, and peanut butter together. Crazy right?! Sounds like leftover bachelor food to me.

If it made the menu at a fancy restaurant that everyone loves then maybe it isn't gross. We gave it a try, and out came The Fat Elvis Spring Rolls:

How cute are they? Little sugar coated fried spring rolls looking so adorable in a little pile. That sauce is passionfruit carmel sauce and I might sell my left kidney for more of it!

The chocolate was warm and oozing out after you took a bite but the banana was nestled in there pretty good and didn't try to escape. The bacon was that thicker cut bacon and the salt gave all the sweet flavors a nice escape. The textures of peanut butter and crispy spring roll... they went so well together. If I were going to be Miss America I would give all the world one of these spring rolls!

I don't have a fryer and I can't make them at home, very disappointing. Do any of you have recipes using these "Elvis" inspired ingredients? I'd love to try it at home!!!

Happy Elvis Eating!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

rm seafood

Las Vegas may be pretty far inland but we didn't let that deter us from trying this very well know seafood restaurant.
Rick Moonen, the chef, has worked to make the restaurant known for sustainability. Being responsible with our money and tracking every penny has helped us be much more interested in where our food is coming from and how it effects the environment when we eat it. Fishing is tricky because more and more seafood comes from farms. RM Seafood makes sure that 95% of the menu proteins are sustainably raised or caught.

The restaurant has an upstairs (code for formal) and a downstairs (where we ate) and they are open for lunch (less expensive). Chris had a spicy tuna roll and a red king crab nigiri. I had the grilled shrimp with saffron risotto. We enjoyed the "fat elvis" warm chocolate-bacon banana spring rolls at the end of our meal. Picture menu following:
As amazing as the seafood was those bacon chocolate banana spring rolls are tempting us to take another trip to Vegas.
Happy Eating!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

11 month anniversary

Do you celebrate month-iversaries? I've never been one to do that, I'm confessing I'm nohopeless romantic. Before meeting Chris (and even now) I wasn't too sentimental or gushy about things besides Pride & Prejudice.
My parent's gave us the most amazing gift for our wedding; a box of 12 envelopes. One to open every month of our first year of marriage. They were beautifully painted and filled with restaurant gift certificates and movie tickets. Things for "date night" every month. It's almost turned me into a month-iversary celebrator.

We got married in Las Vegas and we had a reception lunch at Wolfgang Puck's Bar & Grill in the MGM Grand. It was so perfect. It was a plated lunch with a choice between chicken and salmon. It was casual. The wine was delicious. My parent's were very generous. We all loved it actually, so this time we were in Vegas we had to stop at the restaurant for a trip down memory lane. It was right before our 11 month-iversary.
I remember that lunch like it was yesterday. I was nervous and excited and determined not to spill anything on my dress. This time was more relaxed and the food was just as delicious.

Happy Eating!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Grocery Shopping

It feels like the same thing every week around here. I shop for groceries. I tell you about how much I spent. sigh.
Why don't you tell me what you're spending! I "try" to spend about $60 a week. What is your budget? Do you think I'm under budgeting or overspending?

This week:
2 Kashi Frozen Dinners - Coupon! saved $3
2 Kashi Frozen Pizzas - Coupon! saved $3
2 Dannon Greek Yogurts - Coupon! saved $1.10
1/2 gallon Skim Organic Milk
2 Heads of Broccoli
1.72lbs Gala Apples - Coupon! saved $3
1 box Organic Granola - Coupon! saved $1
4pack Canned Corn
4pack Canned Green Beans - BOGO saved $4.99
2 Luna Energy Bars - Coupon! saved $1
Febreze Spray - Coupon! saved $1
Cascade Dishwasher Soap - Coupon! saved $.25
Swiffer Duster Refill - Coupon! saved $1
Charmin T.P. - Coupon! saved $.25
Glad Trash Bags - Coupon (joint coupon on 5 P&G items) saved $3
Glad Flexible Straws (i LOVE these!) a bargain at $.59
Gillette Deodorant - Coupon! saved $.50

TOTAL coupon savings: $18.10

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hubert Keller

As I mentioned in a previous blog, Chris and I had the distinct pleasure of dining at Huber Keller’s The Flur de ly the last time we were in Vegas. It was the dining experience of our lives up until this point.

Well, we had another amazing time at another one of Hubert’s restaurants (we’re obviously on a first name basis at this point). The Burger Bar. It’s a simple idea; pick your meat, bun, and toppings. It’s at the Mandalay Bay.

Melissa’s Burger: Turkey Burger, on a wheat bun, with grilled onions, salsa, and avocado.

Chris’ Burger: The Peppercorn Burger. Chris chose one of the pre-made options.

It was fun making your own burger, which is what I did. It is a lot of pressure though. What if you’re combination sounds good in your head but not so tasty on a bun? That’s why you hire the chef right? So Chris ordered a pre-made menu option, and I can’t blame him. His was pepper-y and super “American” with cheese and squishy white bun. He loved it, and I love him. I was going to share their "sample menu" with you from the website but it doesn't actually look like the real menu at all.

Happy Burger Eating!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Grocery Shopping

It was a light week for groceries at our house. Don't you love it when you already have most of the items you need?

I spent $8.41 at Freshfields Farm on produce. That bought me: Organic Baby Spinach, 3 Bananas, 1 Roma Tomato, 1 Green Pepper, 1 Orange Pepper, 1 Yellow Onion, 1 Hass Avocado, and 2 mini Pumpkins (for decoration).

I spent $33.74 at Publix. Only saved $2.10 with coupons this week because I didn't need anything that I had coupons for and I didn't want to buy it just because I had a coupon. I bought some frozen breakfast sandwiches (coupon!), frozen vegetables (sale for $.99), 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 2 bottles of salsa (sale BOGO), 6 luna protein bars, 4pack of lightbulbs, 2 greek yogurts (coupon!), .6lb of shrimp (sale), chicken tenderloins, and of course, my favorite, milk. I SERIOUSLY need to find some coupons for Stoneyfield Organic Skim Milk. Does anyone know where I can find some? It is my favorite milk and we go though a gallon a week, which runs us $7.78.

Those 6 Luna bars totaled $5.94 and my impatient self paid full price and then tonight I scored a bunch of $.50 off coupons. Ridiculous! Lost Savings: $3.

On a happier note... I already had black beans, brown rice, tomato sauce, whole wheat pasta, flour & bread ingredients, a frozen pizza, oatmeal, cereal, and coffee creamer.

Picnic Lunch

As the weather is changing and fall is already officially upon us I've been getting into the spirit. Pumpkin decor, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin beer... The list could go on and on. It is still Florida though and fall weather means perfect weather for a picnic!

Chris and I had a picnic lunch today at Rollins and was so beautiful. I made us some shrimp salads with white shrimp, baby spinach, tomatoes, orange peppers, and avocado. Simple flavors like that can be the best. We had an apple and a clementine for dessert. Here is the link to my calorie approximations for the salad.

Do you like to take fall picnics? Your meal might look tropical like mine, but it probably looks more northern. If I lived up north I think my picnic menu would include pumpkin coffee, baked apples, and roast beef sandwiches with horseradish sauce. What does your imaginary picnic menu have on it?

Happy Picnic-ing!

Meal Planning

A little bit of planning goes a long way, If you haven't been converted to a meal planner you simply must tell me why. It makes everything so much easier.

My plan for this week is as follows:

Monday Lunch: Shrimp Salad with Avocado
Monday Dinner: Chicken with Whole Wheat Pasta and Tomato Sauce

Tuesday Lunch: Tuna in a Whole Wheat Pita with Baby Spinach
Tuesday Dinner: Black Bean Rice Bowls with Multi-colored Peppers

Wednesday Lunch: Eating Out!
Wednesday Dinner: Frozen California Pizza Kitchen Pizza (we didn't end up eating it last week)

Thursday Lunch:Protein Bar and Leftovers
Thursday Dinner: Chicken Pot Pies

Friday Lunch: Clear the fridge of all leftovers (we're leaving town!)
Friday Afternoon: Board the flight to Las Vegas!