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Hello, there! I could make a lot of excuses for my extended absence, but that would be mundane. The point is I’m back and you may notice a change in the topics I write about. I am trying to become less gluttonous (chocolate, butter, cream, more butter!) and am working towards a more health conscious approach to cooking and life in general. While I will still post about new recipes, I may also write about my latest fitness adventures and goals.

 I had all but abandoned my baking until last Sunday when I made this Orange & Rosemary Butter Cake for some friends who could use some comforting. The aromas in the kitchen were enough to make me want to ditch my diet and training plan. I cannot wait to make this cake again so I can try it. If it’s half as good as the batter tastes, then this recipe is a keeper! I have discovered quite a few recipes that I am really excited to try so bear with me as I get back into my blogging groove.

Curious what I’ve been up to this past year? Here’s the highlight reel:

  • July 2011 – earned a promotion
  • August 2011 – began grad school & diagnosed with hypertension (Coincidence? I think not!)
  • October 2011 – finished Urbanathlon Chicago 

    2011 Chicago Urbanathlon

  • January 2012 – quit grad school; ran my first half-marathon
  • February 2012 – began practicing Bikram hot yoga and taking Zumba classes
  • April 2012 – vacation in Washington, D.C.

    I love D.C. in the spring!

  • April 2012 – completed my first Warrior Dash

    2012 Warrior Dash Jackson, MS

    It’s gettin’ hot in here!

Stay tuned…there’s plenty more adventure ahead as I prepare for my first triathlon and taking my group fitness instructor certification next month. Onward and upward!

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Our first meal in Greenville was breakfast at Coffee Underground on Main Street. I couldn’t resist their Mediterranean omelette (spinach artichoke dip, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, & portabellas), home fries, and a Chai tea latte. Trust me, the iPhone photo doesn’t do it justice. This charmingly funky café has it’s fair share of character. Personally, I love the Red Room with it’s dim lighting and exotic Middle Eastern flair.

After stuffing our bellies full, we wandered around the farmers’ market. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is a city to be envied for it’s market if nothing else. With a diverse array of vendors, one can find virtually anything from farm fresh eggs and pickled green beans to lotions and candles to pitcher plants and fresh herbs.

That night we went to Jill’s favorite sushi restaurant, Tsunami. We started with the Asparagus Yakihitashi before feasting upon numerous varieties of sushi. Afterwards, we sauntered over to Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria to shoot some pool (man, I’m rusty!) and have a few drinks. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to go to a bar and not come out reeking of smoke. Don’t worry, I’ll refrain from jumping on my soap box.

The next day, I set out for a little shopping. I tried my first bubble tea at O-CHA Tea Bar. While the barista was kind enough to guide me through the seemingly endless bubble tea options, her questions started sounding a little weird. Do you want it creamy? Do you like pearls? How about some jellies? All I wanted some tea! Somehow, I convinced myself she wasn’t a pusher using street lingo for drugs and instead of fleeing, I ordered a blueberry tea with both pearls and jellies. Give me a merit badge for bravery. 😉 After all that anxiety, I really didn’t care for the drink, but now I can say I’ve tried it.

Perhaps the best meal we had on our trip was lunch at Poppies Gourmet Farmers Market. After a fun morning of waterfall hunting, we’d worked up quite an appetite. With more adventure on the horizon that day, this was the perfect place to grab a quick (and delicious!) lunch while enjoying their lush garden. I was torn between the fish tacos and  the black and bleu burger so Kevin graciously agreed to order the burger while I ordered the tacos. It worked out perfectly since we switched plates halfway through our meal.

Our last taste of South Carolina was breakfast at Spill the Beans. This shop has quite possibly the best location in Greenville, right next to the breathtaking Falls Park. The atmosphere made up for the staff’s lack of enthusiasm. This is certainly not the place to go if you’re in a hurry. Luckily, we weren’t. A funny miscommunication between our friend and the barista led to an order of oatmeal generously topped with whipped cream. There’s no better way to start your day than with a good belly laugh and an attempt at healthful eating gone awry.

Countless laughs, oodles of food, and a whole slew of treasured memories! I’m ready to go back…like right now.

Wishing you all a gorgeous, fun-filled weekend and a Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, most especially mine.

If there’s one thing that makes me look forward to Mondays (well, almost), it’s Meatless Mondays. Well, that and new episodes of Chuck and 24!  Last Monday night I made this Spinach Red Pepper Frittata for dinner.

Spinach Red Pepper Frittata

Recipe courtesy of MeatlessMonday.com

Onion and red pepper are sautéed until sweet and contrasted with crunchy hash browns. Garlic spiced spinach brings some leafy greens and a healthy dose of Vitamin K to this hearty frittata. This recipe has been adapted from Pat Cooks and Bakes.

Serves 4

  • 1 teaspoon butter
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    1/4 cup onion, chopped
    1/4 cup red pepper, diced
    1 1/2 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
    1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
    1 clove garlic, minced
    4 eggs
    1/4 cup nonfat milk
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the butter and olive oil in 9 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. When butter melts, add the onion and red pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.

Add the potatoes and cook 6-8 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown. Add the spinach and garlic and cook 1-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

In a medium bowl beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together until smooth. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, lifting edges and allowing uncooked egg to flow underneath intermittently.

Sprinkle with cheddar if using (Of course you’re using. Who wouldn’t want cheese in their frittata?) and bake 15-20 minutes, or until set. Cut into 4 wedges to serve.

Bon appetít!

The food world is all a buzz about fiddleheads this spring. Up until a year ago, I’d never heard of such a thing. Turns out, fiddleheads are actually unfurled ostrich fern fronds (say that 3 times fast!).

Unfortunately, fiddleheads are not harvested here on the Gulf Coast. The best I could do was buying some from Fresh Market which made their way to me from Portland, Oregon. Eek!

On to what you’re here for, the recipe! I made this dish partly because of my desire to try fiddleheads, but I also needed to use up some leftover veggies (i.e. clean out the fridge).

Pasta & Fiddlehead Sauté

Ingredients:

  • Egg noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pat of butter
  • Fiddleheads
  • Baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • Leeks, chopped
  • Fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Coarsely ground black pepper (to taste)

First, put on a pot of water for the pasta. Then, begin by thoroughly cleaning your fiddleheads (it will take several good rinses). Next, boil the fiddleheads in a pot of salted water for 3 minutes. While the fiddleheads are boiling, melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic and leeks, sautéing just until slightly tender. Add mushrooms and fresh thyme. Drain the fiddleheads and add to skillet. Once the mushrooms begin to soften and brown, add salt and pepper to taste. Add drained pasta to skillet. You may need to add a splash or two of pasta water to loosen things up a bit. Top with cheese and a little more fresh thyme. Serve immediately.

There was a lot of variation in the flavor of these fiddleheads. Some were sharp like arugula with an extra burst of wildness. Others were bland, adding more texture to this dish than taste. Perhaps the poor little dears suffered motion sickness during their cross-country trek.

I came across a fabulous site while on my fern fact-finding mission, Wild Harvest. This is the go-to resource for info on wild things…and where the wild things are. Sorry, I just had to go there. For more fun with fiddleheads (don’t you just love that word?), check this out.

Now, I’m longing to plan a “gathering” vacation for next spring where I could forage for fiddleheads, ramps, and morels to my heart’s contents. Of course, I’ll need a new basket and a scarlet cape to properly traipse through the woods. It would be very Little Red Riding Hood-esque. 😉

That’s right, folks, you’re looking at THE Food Examiner for Mobile. My first article was published today, so please visit my Examiner page and let me know what you think.

My darling husband and I enjoyed a lunch date last week at Jamaican Vibes which inspired my inaugural Examiner article. I just adore restaurant review research, especially when the food is as good as it is at Jamaican Vibes!

If you like what you see, and I hope you will, subscribe to receive email alerts when I publish new articles.  Now, back to my happy dance…crank up the Bob Marley!

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is brought to us by Mary of Popsicles & Sandy Feet. Mary selected Dorie‘s chockablock cookies.

I’ve nicknamed these cookies after my good friend, Tagg, who’s favorite saying is, “If you ain’t got a lot going on, then you just don’t have much going on.” Well, these cookies certainly have a lot going on! With the oatmeal, coconut, chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit, there’s no way these chunky cookies will be mistaken for homebodies.

I used a combination of rougly chopped bittersweet chocolate, pecans, and dried mango. In retrospect, mango was perhaps too mild of a choice. I think a tart fruit, such as dried cranberries, would be better suited for these busy cookies. All in all, I was pleased with how these turned out and I like the versatility of this recipe. I think a combo of white chocolate, dried pineapple, and macadamia nuts would be sublime!

Visit Mary for the recipe and remember to check out our blogroll to see the fabulous creations of the other TWD bakers. And be sure to come back later when I share this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. It may just inspire you to sing a Christmas carol or two.

It was an honor just to be nominated. Forget that! I’m a winner, baby!! 😀 A big, heartfelt thanks to Joy of Deciding for Life for bestowing my little blog with such a cool award. If you haven’t visited Joy’s blog before, please do so. This woman is a wealth of information when it comes to all aspects of the adoption process. Her personal experience from being adopted as an infant as well as being a birthmother gives her unparalleled insight into the adoption world. So inspiring!

So, here’s the skinny on the Kreativ Blogger Award:

  1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
  2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
  3. Link the person who has nominated you for the award.
  4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
  5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
  6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
  7. Leave a comment on the blogs you nominate to let them know they have been nominated.

Now I have to share seven things about myself that people might actually find interesting? Eek! Here goes nothing…

Number 1:  I recently became obsessed with Depression Glass, especially the sherbert servers. This is yet another offshoot of my longtime obsession with table settings, which was instilled in me while attending etiquette classes as a young lass. I recently purchased these little beauties on eBay:

Number 2:  I’m running the Azalea Trail Run (a 10K race!) with my husband & sister-in-law this Saturday.

Number 3:  My mom is teaching me to sew. Until recently, I could scarcely sew a button back into place, but now I’m making my own curtains! I have a ton of projects planned most of which revolve around the kitchen and dining room (see #1 – obsession with table settings). But what am I most excited to make? An adult-size sock monkey costume. That’s right, I’m going to be the Kia Sock Monkey for Halloween!! “How you like me now?”

Now if only I could talk my husband into being the red cyclops for Halloween!

Number 4:  If I won the lottery (of course, it would help if I actually played the lottery), I would buy a HUGE amount of land and start an animal sanctuary like Best Friends in Utah. If you’re in the market for a pet, please visit your local shelter, SPCA, or go online to PetFinder. Shelter pets/rescues make the best companions! Mocha was a stray that our friends fostered until we moved into our house and had room for her (thanks, Ocie & Hope!). A year later, we adopted Coal from the Animal Rescue Foundation. We found the yellow lab a couple of weeks ago crossing a busy street. After an unsuccessful effort to find his previous owner, my in-law’s have taken him in (much to our delight!). A fine pack of dogs, no?

Number 5:  I’m a sucker for goofy movies. Anything with Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, or Ben Stiller is simply a must-see for me. A recent addition to this list is Zach Galifianakis who played Alan in The Hangover. I almost died when he made his “one-man wolf pack” speech! I am sooooo sophisticated. 😛

Number 6:  I love antiques, especially culinary antiques. Shocking, right? I’m currently pining over the copper bundt pans, oversized mortar & pestle, and wooden chopsticks holder at Aubergine in Fairhope which specializes in culinary antiques from England and France.

Number 7:  Nerd alert! I love learning new things so I take classes whenever I can. I’ve studied photography, cake decorating, French desserts, massage therapy, and even a brief lesson in belly dancing. Now, where did my pocket protector go?

Attempting to narrow my favorite blogs down to seven was absolutely agonizing! There are so many talented and creative bloggers out there. My choices may seem all over the place, but I am the Eclectic Connoisseur, right? Here we go!

  1. Cynthia Eden, author of “sexy paranormal romance and dark romantic suspense” – Hands down the most talented young author out there! If you’re into alpha males, strong-willed heroines, and plots full of twists and turns, then you must rush out and pick up a Cynthia Eden. Actually, go ahead and buy as many as you can. Trust me, you’ll get hooked! Her latest, Eternal Hunter, gives us an up close and personal look into the world of supernatural beings, one that’s full of danger and desire.
  2. A Beautiful Mess by Elsie – Elsie is one of the first Etsy artists I discovered. Now, I’m totally addicted to her blog where she mixes cuteness with Indie style.
  3. Everyday Adventures (of me in the city) – Jessica is a Chicago-based blogger who always has a  fabulous adventure to share with her readers. Plus, she does the best giveaways, spot-on movie and product reviews, and you’ll love her award show recaps. She’s a riot!
  4. She’s Becoming Doughmesstic by Susan – This woman is all about keepin’ it real. Susan and her cakes are a constant source of inspiration. And she’s been known to have an awesome giveaway or two or three!
  5. Phe.MOM.enon by Holly – This lady can (and does) do it all. Not only does she do a marvelous job with her blog in addition to being a busy mom, she’s also the creator of Utah’s The Hive and the Blogging for Babies campagin. Where does she find all this energy?
  6. Deanna Raybourn – Deanna is another of my favorite authors. I finished The Dead Travel Fast last week and all I can say is “wow!”. If you’ve somehow missed her Lady Julia Gray series, you better get with the program. The much anticipated fourth novel in the LJG series will arrive in October!
  7. And last, but certainly not least, is Laurie, the fearless leader of Tuesdays With Dorie. Where would I and the rest of the TWD bakers be had Laurie not created this warm, cozy (virtual) kitchen for us? I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around that one!

Thanks, again, to Joy for presenting my blog with this award. Not only was it fun to share some of my favorite blogs with you, but I made a new friend in the process. You see, Joy is a self-proclaimed lurker, having visited my blog often, but never commenting. How delightful to “meet” a reader! If I have any more friends lurking in the bloggy shadows, please introduce yourselves. I promise not to make you feel bad for lurking…seeing as how I’m married to a lurker. Now, go forth and spread the love to your favorite kreativ bloggers!

Don’t get your hopes up; this post is not dedicated to Ol’ Blue Eyes. It’s about my eager anticipation of Valentine’s Day! With all the drool-inducing images in the Williams-Sonoma catalogs and the cover of Southern Living’s February issue, I can hardly wait to bake some homemade heart-day goodies. But since I haven’t made any love-themed treats just yet, I thought I’d share with you some Etsy goodies I find truly inspiring. Prepare yourself for some serious salivating. Try saying that three times fast!

Valentine's Oreo Truffles by lauralynn85

This just screams, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”, especially if your someone-special loves oreos as much as mine does.

beautiful lacey hearts by Ryjoliean

beautiful lacey hearts by Ryjoliean

 So gorgeous and delicate! 

My Sweet Heart Marshmallows by lavieenrosebakery

Makes me want to share a big mug of hot chocolate with my sweetheart. 😉  

Vintage Valentine Heart Cookies by whippedbakeshop

Love these!

1940s Heart Bib Valentines Apron - Vintage Reproduction by TheWayWeWear

This beautiful apron is just too precious not to share with you.

If you have any special Valentine’s Day traditions, I’d love to hear from you. Nothing too intimate, please. I hope you all have a ridiculously romantic Valentine’s Day with the one you love!

For this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, Kristin of I’m Right About Everything selected Dorie‘s Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes. Any time I see a recipe that involves chocolate, I get kind of pumped up. When I see the same recipe calls for a swirl of cocoa, sugar, and nuts inside said chocolate cake, well…that just thrills me.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but these mini bundts just weren’t as delectable as I’d hoped they’d be. Perhaps I overcooked mine, because I thought they were a little on the dry side. I also took issue with the chocolate glaze as many of the other TWD bakers did. This glaze is more like a thick icing, hardening within seconds as opposed to the 15 minutes indicated in BFMHTY. Hence no photos of my glazed cakes  – they went from beautiful to grossly deformed looking in a matter of seconds thanks to this so-called glaze.  I think a thinner, more syrupy chocolate topping would be just the thing for these little jewels. Maybe a chocolate sauce with a touch of hazelnut or espresso, mmm….

I will definitely try this recipe again, but with a few adjustments. I’m really digging the hazelnut chocolate sauce idea. I think I’ll sub hazelnuts for the pecans I used in the cocoa, sugar, nut swirl.

Want some more fresh from the oven lovin’? My fellow TWD bakers have plenty to share with you so check, check, check ’em out. Visit me again soon to see what I made for January’s Daring Baker’s challenge. Warning – you’ll gain 10 pounds just looking at it! 😉

chocolate pots de creme topped with creme chantilly

I am a naughty, naughty woman for neglecting my blog for this long…please forgive me. As you’ll see, I have been keeping busy in the kitchen – albeit not my own.

Last Saturday, I went to my local Williams-Sonoma for a cooking class on, you guessed it, French desserts! [insert girly squeals of excitement] Somehow, I managed to reign in my enthusiasm and refrained from giving the instructor, pastry chef Amy Archer, air kisses (although I think it would have been completely appropriate for this class). Instead, I chose a more dignified route and set about to become the teacher’s pet. 😉

We were welcomed with warm apple cider and Chef Amy’s savory pecan pumpkin spread with bacon. Cream cheese, pumpkin butter, bacon, green onions, and pecans? That’s downright scandalous!

The menu for the class consisted of: Tarte au Citron, Honey Madeleines, and Chocolate Pots de Creme with Creme Chantilly. Ce magnifique!

honey madeleines

Surprisingly, I favored the honey madeleines over the other two desserts. While the chocolate pots de creme were out of this world, the madeleines really sent me into orbit. The texture was intriguing – like cake, but even lighter. Or maybe it was their faint resemblance to seashells that fascinated me. A mystery well worth unraveling if you ask me. Chef Amy used clover honey, but I’m eager to try them using the fig honey I bought at the farmers’ market a couple of weeks ago.

tarte au citron

The filling of the tarte au citron was extremely tart. I probably will not make the filling, but I enjoyed the pat sucre or “sugar dough” very much. Needless to say, I was in the most sublime state of gluttony I could imagine by the time class ended. If they’d served wine, they would have never gotten me to leave.

I should really stop my ramblings and start preparing some spooktacular treats for all the little ghouls and goblins tomorrow night. Au revoir and happy Halloween!

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

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