The garden is dying down and I have more cherry tomatoes than I know what to do with. Everyone that has walked through our front door goes home with some.
Mr. Allan has been battling the flu this weekend and I needed a quick easy dinner with ingredients that were on hand.
Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Pasta
1 lb pasta of your choice ( I used whole wheat spaghetti)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
fresh mozzarella, diced
handful of fresh basil, sliced thinly
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Boil water for pasta. Salt water generously and cook pasta according to directions.
While pasta is cooking, halve all tomatoes and dice the mozzarella. (My local grocery store makes fresh mozzarella and sells it in a small clump. This worked well since the fresh mozzarella keeps it shape. If you use shredded mozzarella, you'll likely have a melty mess!)
Rinse basil. Roll basil and thinly slice.
Once pasta is done, drain and reserve 1/2 cup or so of pasta water. Mix pasta, water, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Add approxiamtely 2-3 TBSP of oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
I needed a quick easy home baked good. My boss passed on a recipe for Blondies to me when I first started working with her. It's simple, easy, doesn't have a ton of ingredients and usually gets rave reviews. You don't feel guilty making something out of box, as this recipe is super simple for a great baked good made from scratch!
(Note- I always double this recipe!)
Preheat oven to 350
1/4 cup of unsalted butter (melted)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
Melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Mix melted butter and brown sugar together. Let mixture cool and sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Once butter/sugar is cool, add in egg and vanilla. Slowly mix in dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips.
Grease or spray a 9 by 13 pan (spray well!!). smooth mixture into pan (just a note--it's a pretty thin layer --don't be worried!)
Bake for 25-27 minutes. Just be careful not to overbake. I did once and the large amount of brown sugar makes these like bricks if you overbake them! I blame it on our old crappy oven in our beloved Newport apt!)
Once these puppies are cool, I run a butter knife or spatula along the edges of the pan and shake it out onto a cutting board.
So easy, most of these ingredients I have in the pantry at all times and a crowd pleaser!
I've been a hair funk for the past 6 months. After I got married, I went for the post wedding chop. I was blessed with this strange very curly in the back and bone straight up front thick hair. I can't go without washing it for a day or else I get weird curly hair along my hairline. I also can't go without drying it. I resemble the Ogilve perm girl who stuck her finger in a socket
If you don't know what Ogilvie is...you obviously weren't a child of the 80's
But...after the post wedding chop, I embraced my shorter locks but knew Mr. Allan preferred them long. After the newness of the cut wore off, I missed having long hair to toss about and it was way easier to do yoga poses with my hair in a pony tail vs. flapping in my face. It's been the great grow out for the past 5 months of so. Finally my do can be pulled back. However, I've been struggling with shampoo and conditioner choices. I was a big fan of Trader Joe's Citrus Shampoo. For $3 a bottle, it did the job. However, some bottles are good, others not. I may sound a little crazy..but sometimes it conditions beautifully, other times, I'm stuck with a snarly mess.
I then switched to Kiss my Face. I love that it's an all natural product, but I went through the conditioner at warp speed. I would use one bottle of shampoo in the time I used two bottles of conditioner. I know you're probably saying..hey genius, buy an extra bottle of conditioner...but Target is always out of it, obviously someone's having the same issue as me.
So....my product of the week is my new favorite shampoo and conditioner- Bumble and Bumble. It's pricey, but a nice treat I like to indulge in. It conditions well, has a clean feel to it and makes my hair soft. I want to dry and straighten my hair when I use this. This product makes it worth my while. A pet peeve of mine is going out with wet hair or just shoving your hair in a pony tail while wet. Have I done it? Yes. Is there an exception once in a while. Yes. But, it just makes me feel so unkept, like I wasn't worth the 20 minutes in the morning to make myself look nice.
My Target PSA....right now they're selling a twin pack of Shampoo and a twin pack of Conditioner...so it's basically buy one get one free!
This weekend I turn the big 3-2. Hard to believe!! Mr. Allan and I just celebrated, well we really just reminisced on the couch, that 10 years ago last week we went on our first date. 10 YEARS!!! That seems sooooo long ago. I was a mere 21 and Mr. Allan was freshly 23. I even remember that on my 22nd birthday he bought me this completely neutral gold fancy Halmark card.
But, once I entered my late 20's and came into the big 30's decade, I started to realize that I need to take care of my skin. I wear sunscreen faithfully on my face everyday (Clinique City Block SPF 40) and I started to look into the dreaded anti aging moisturizers. Seriously--where the hell does one start?? There are so many words tossed around on labels--anit-wrinkle, anti-aging, anti-oxidant, protection against free radicals, spf this and that. A girl gets confused.
It seemed in college, that every girl had their big yellow bottle of Clinique's mositurizer. It just didn't cut it for me. I moved onto Oil of Olay Regenerist, then onto Aveeno. Aveeno was a high scorer for me. It didn't smell like a perfumed up Nana and went on so easily and didn't leave a greasy mess on my face. Then I thought I needed more, and went onto Lancome. It's pricey and, honestly, was no different than my $17 bottle of Aveeno.
I hit home on a shopping spree to Sephora a couple months back. I saw the ads with Courtney Cox, I wandered over and before I knew it, I had samples of Kinerase in my hand.
The first week, my face felt a little greasier. I didn't know if it was because it was humid out, if I'm just naturally an oil slick, but something told me to stick it out. After a week, my skin settled in and I'm hooked on this stuff. My face feels smoother and I think it looks smoother..which is all that's important!
so my new skin regime...
Clinique City Block. I put it on right after moisturizer...can't live without it. It's like wearing your seatbelt..you notice if it's not on.
My new favorite moisturizer....
While I do like Kinerase, I can not lie. This stuff is expensive. I'd put the price but if Mr. Allan reads what it costs, I will be banned from purchasing it ever again.
A website I stumbled upon that I now consult for every major make up/skincare purchase
I've been trying to make an effort to use "greener" products at home. I use so many papertowels and cleaning agents with harmful chemicals in them. I do most of my grocery shopping at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. So, I've been picking up products here and there testing them out.
My first household product war.......
Trader Joe's Next to Godliness Dish Soap
Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap
While I'm a huge fan of Trader Joe's, their dish soap doesn't cut it. It smells wonderful, the price is right, but this stuff just doesn't sud up. I use my little dish soap wand and often wonder if I need a new wand. I've purchases 2 bottles of it. The first time I was disappointed, then I saw it in the store again and decided to give it one more try.
I currently have 3/4 of a bottle under the sink and went out and bought some Mrs. Meyers. Mrs. Meyer's has a great scent, (Lemon Verbana is my favorite!) and it suds nice and lasts a long time.
Sorry Trader Joe's :(. I will still faithfully buy my frozen organic vegetables, organic brown rice, fair trade organic coffee, whole wheat pizza dough and steel cut oats from you! But...Mrs. Meyer's dish soap takes the prize on this one!
I made the best recipe the other night. I just had to share. It involved grilling some sweet potatoes, Newman's Own Olive Oil Vinagrette, and fresh herbs. I hate heavy summer salads. Summertime is about hopping in your bathing suit, beaches, sand, pools, shorts etc...so I crave light healthier recipes that don't require mayo, sour cream, and other creamy heavy ingredients.
Here's the recipe..I used the herbs that it called for since they were in the garden!
Grilled Sweet Potato Salad with Green Onion, Basil, Thyme, and Feta
(Makes about 4-6 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)
2 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, about 2 lbs. total
(orange-fleshed sweet potatoes may be called yams in some stores)
1/4 C + 1/4 C purchased vinaigrette dressing (I used Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
2-3 T thin chiffonade strips of basil (thinly sliced strips)
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 C crumbled Feta
Preheat gas or charcoal barbecue grill to medium-high heat. (You can hold your hand there about 3 seconds at that heat.)
Peel sweet potatoes and cut into slices about 3/4 inch thick. Lay slices on a cookie sheet, then measure 1/4 cup vinaigrette and brush each side of sweet potatoes with dressing, seasoning each side with salt and freshly ground black pepper after you brush on the dressing.
Grill the sweet potato slices, cooking about 4-5 minutes on first side, then rotating to cook 3-4 minutes on that side. When you have nice grill marks on the first side (or when sweet potatoes are getting dark on that side) flip the sweet potatoes over and cook about 7-8 minutes more on the second side, or until sweet potatoes feel tender when pierced with a fork. (Total grilling time will be about 15-20 minutes, but I started taking them off the grill as they felt done, and the larger pieces took more time.)
Let grilled sweet potato slices cool for 10-15 minutes, then cut into cubes and place in salad bowl. Add sliced green onions, chiffonade basil strips, and chopped thyme and gently combine with sweet potatoes. Stir in the other 1/4 cup of vinaigrette, using as much as you need to moisten the salad (you may not need all the dressing, depending on how wet you like your salads.) Gently stir in the crumbled feta, season salad with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and serve salad at room temperature.
***Just a couple notes: I used 3 medium to large sized sweet potatoes and left the skin on and this salad came out fantastic!)
Enjoy and thank you Kalyn's Kitchen for a fantastic recipe!
where are you? Well, I know where you are, but you've been sparse this summer with your insane crazy travel schedule.
Your wife needs you home to:
take out the trash
scoop the litter boxes
clean out the recycle bin
clean the spot where the cat threw up on the white bedroom rug (again!)
make the pool less cloudy
and kill the large fly and spider that have been circling around the house all week
While I'm well aware that I am capable of completing one or more of the above listed tasks. They suck and I think they're husband jobs.
I went to a fantastic event last night at Castle Hill Inn in Newport RI. The Rhode Island Local Food Festival put on by Farm Fresh was held there.
What event wouldn't you enjoy at this breathtaking venue....
Farm Fresh is a local non profit organization that aims to help preserve RI farms, build healthy communities and create access to local fresh food. Besides being one great organization, they threw one hell of a party last night.
The food was all local and spectacular. From Chez Pascal to Local 121 to Seven Stars Bakery and new restaurants like Tallulah's, local eateries put out some tasting size dishes that were out of this world.
This is an event that must become an annual thing! (thanks sue for bringing me!!!)