Made from Scratch: Dinner Salad

We're not talking side salads, I'm throwing a complete meal your way! Let me start by saying, I experimented with this salad one night while dining solo. Therefore, I’m not quite sure if it will satisfy the male appetite, so feel free to throw a big hunk of meat on top for some gusto.

One evening last week, I found myself holding a bag of spinach in one hand and a head of broccoli in the other, hoping desperately that if I stood there long enough a delicious meal would appear before my eyes.  Never happened, but here we are.

Not wanting to spend time cooking a big meal for myself, I decided baking would be the easy option, I thought 450 degrees sounded nice, so there I began.

I gave the broccoli and a lonely red onion a nice chop. Into the dish they went, accompanied by a drizzle of olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Who doesn’t love the taste of broccoli and lemon?! I added a ½ tablespoon of minced garlic and grind of black pepper, then gave it a quick stir.

Next, I placed my new creation in the oven…10 minutes passed…eh, I’ll give it 5 more, I thought….waiting, waiting, growling stomach…

With a bed of spinach to break the fall, I plated my delicious entrée and topped it with toasted pine nuts and feta.

Looking all perky and bright, it screamed spring and tasted the every bit delicious!

Last night, I was once again left solo for dinner.

Feeling excited about the chance at a second attempt and a little sneaky having not yet shared my secret dish with Brett, I whipped up the salad in record time with some intentional alterations.

I added sweet potato, asparagus and a pinch of brown sugar.  I subtracted the lemon, we were out.

Let me know if you come up with a great version of your own!

Made From Scratch: Spicy Turkey Burgers

We try to set aside one night a week for date night. This means cooking something together and sitting down at the table, maybe lighting a candle or two. On this week's menu, spicy turkey burgers with a side salad. When we cook together, I leave all things meat related up to Brett. Unfortunately, that means on nights when I'm cooking solo, he is likely to come home to a vegetarian dish. It doesn't take long before I find him in the kitchen grilling up some juicy chicken breasts to garnish the next dish I conjure up....I gladly oblige.

Brett found the spicy turkey burger recipe from Bon Apetite (here), of course, we adapted it to our liking and I encourage you do the same! Adding garlic powder gave it a nice flavor and we eliminated the cilantro.  Next time, we'll add diced bell peppers.

Showing those patties whose boss...

My realm: the salad.

I'm a believer that if it's in the fridge and it hasn't expired or wilted than it's begging to be tossed in a salad! The more the merrier, unfortunately for us, we were out of everything this night....So, in went the lettuce and spinach combo, tomatoes (I always have to sneak these past Brett, not a fan) toasted pumpkin seeds, carrots, avocado, shallots and a little feta.  Here's the key, top with this creamy mustard vinaigrette (here). If you're concerned about the mustard part, don't be, Brett still has (had) no idea mustard is an ingredient, it pairs well with everythingWith two hands on deck, the meal was complete in a half hour. We topped our burgers with avocado, spinach, jalapeno (for me) and a little feta. I'm sure there are many variations to try, let us know if you come up with something spectacular! Enjoy.

Made from Scratch: Pesto

Given the time, we'd rather make something from scratch than buy it pre-made. I'd say we're pretty consistent in this, whether it's decor for our home or a weeknight meal, it always looks and tastes better when it's your own.

I had this revelation that maybe some of you feel the same, so I decided to periodically share with you, our made from scratch creations. (I can't promise this will be a weekly series...I'm much too distracted.)

First up, Pesto.

I LOVE pesto. It's versatile, light, fresh and easy to throw together. I like to make a big batch at the beginning of the week and then turn it into a few different weeknight meals. Last night, we made pesto pasta. This isn't a cooking blog, per se, so I'm not showing step by step instructions; however, I'll provide you with a link to the recipe. This one is from 101 Cookbooks (here).

Although the recipe calls for kale, we only had spinach at the house. Both are equally delicious and work wonderfully in this dish.

I favor a thicker pesto so I go a bit easier on the food processor and olive oil.  Also, if you are a fan of feta, try substituting it for parmesan in this recipe.

A few delightful additions: chopped sun-dried tomatoes, grilled chicken and toasted pine nuts.

Lilly waiting patiently for my attention. This face gets me every time!

I hope you enjoy this recipe, keep in mind to taste along the way, adding the ingredients to your liking. Recipes are only suggestions not absolutes! If you have pesto leftover, throw it on a pizza crust with some caramelized onions, your favorite cheeses and a drizzle of truffle oil...it will knock your socks off! bloglovin

The Wait is Over

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of adventure. In between college football, countless meetings with delivery trucks/installation people and a weekend in D.C., we actually found time to pack our belongings and move into our new home. That’s right, We Moved!!

Although the lack of sleep is prevalent in my eyes, I’m all smiles. After three wonderful days of occupancy, we can honestly say that it was worth the wait!!

Our month in photos...

The moment we arrived back to Texas, we hit the ground running and began moving the same day. Neither an eye infection nor dead car battery could stop us, we could see the end in sight.

Coming up, a house tour.

Loonies, Toonies and Foodies

We're back from Vancouver, blisters on our feet, five pounds heavier and bursting with information. Our strategy before the trip was to figure out a way to maximize our dollar without sacrificing our experience. Thanks to a generous gift of 50k airline miles from Brett's parents, we were ahead of the game from the beginning. The average nightly rate for a hotel room, on the other hand, a total killer. So we began looking for alternative accommodations. Enter Airbnb.com

This stunning one bedroom, one bath condo in the heart of Yaletown was only $586 for 4 nights. Too good to be true right? That's what we thought, until we arrived to find the condo in mint condition and the owner, Linda, to be perfectly normal. She was flexible to our travel needs and even provided us with a list of her favorite restaurants, a quality gal!  This was our first experience with Airbnb, so I can't speak for its success rate in other cities, but I encourage you to give it a glance before booking a hotel.

Like I mentioned (here), we planned a self-guided food tour before leaving for the trip.  I created a map detailing the restaurants we hoped to visit, and I have to say, although it may seem intense, it was referenced daily. Being as we were in Canada, we could only access wireless networks... had to forgo the iPhone for the old school map.

Aside from Yelp and recommendations from friends, bartenders are the best source of information. First order of business on vacation, go out for a drink!

Where to EAT - Vancouver's diverse culinary scene is a direct reflection of it's  population, often referred to as the "City of Neighborhoods," you will not be at a loss for selection.  Our favorite spots include:

1. Twisted Fork Bistro - We only visited for brunch, incredible food and french pressed coffee.  If you are into scones, give them a try with some of their homemade jam. A little pricey, but the portions are large enough to share.

2. The Templeton - We found this place by accident while waiting for Twisted Fork to open. Our favorite restaurant from the trip. It's completely unassuming, an old diner style with very few seats.  The price point is excellent. We only tried their brunch, but would go back for lunch or dinner.

3. Meat and Bread - Located on the edge of Gastown, I would suggest grabbing lunch (preferably the meatball sandwich or chicken noodle soup) before perusing the boutique lined streets. Great place for quality meat.

Bin 941 - recommended by our waitress at Twisted Fork, as well as, our condo owner Linda.  We enjoyed some incredible tapas, though the mother of all tapas, as we ordered two dishes and were completely stuffed.

Japa Dog Stand - Located on the corner or Burrard and Smithe. We couldn't possibly leave Vancouver without trying the infamous Japanese style hotdog.  A beef frank topped with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, sautéed onions and dried seaweed. After the first bite, we were hooked.  It wouldn't be a weekly staple, but I can see why there's a crowd, very tasty!

Terimayo Japadog

GUU - If there was one restaurant to visit while in Vancouver, it would be this one.  The line starts forming 15 minutes before the doors open, so you have to plan accordingly.  It's loud, energetic and the food is amazing. Japanese Tapas, this time it took 5 small dishes before we tapped out. Total price $35.

Where to DRINK - Surprisingly, Vancouver has quiet a few restaurants specializing in pre-prohibition style cocktails, something I have grown quite fond of over the past months. If that's not your thing, no worries, you are sure to be impressed with their beer and wine selection.

Alabi Room - If you're looking for something laid back with a sophisticated beer, wine and cheese selection, this is your place.  Referred to as a "Modern Tavern" and accomplishing the term rather well.

Pourhouse - Pre-Prohibition style cocktails and dim lighting, I fell in love the moment I walked in the door.  Brett and I split the Bolognese, it was fair.  Just go for a drink.

What to DO - A constant stream of rain kept us from taking full advantage of Vancouver's outdoor activities for the first 2 days. However it didn't keep us from exploring the city, there's something relaxing about wandering unfamiliar streets without any expectations...we did a lot of this.

Granville Island.  $11 will get you a roundtrip on the aquabus, no need to take a taxi. Once on the island, head straight for the Granville Island Public Market, a great place for lunch and people watching. If it's a nice day I would gather ingredients for a picnic and head to one of the beautiful beaches on Vancouver Island.

Spokes Bicycle Rentals - our day of sun included a bike ride around Stanley Park. Although there are plenty of rental shops to choose from, I thought Spokes was in the best location. Just under $40 for the afternoon.

Looking forward to another trip, maybe skiing in Whistler?