...dijon pasta salad with shrimp...

So, I have to admit something.  I didn't love this recipe.  Benjamin didn't really either.  I saw it in yet again the Cooking Light Enlightened Cook section, and not only that, it was under "budget meals" saying it's only $2.07 a serving.  Oh to be newlyweds.  All about the budget right now.  I looked at the recipe, saw I had everything in my pantry (which is really a couple shelves), and decided this would be a weeknight meal.  It wasn't bad at all.  In fact, I think if you like dijon and tang, you'd like this.  Also, I think it would be better cold.  Having it warm just didn't do it for me.

Here's the recipe.  I think you should make it if all of these things sound good to you.  What I really think sounds good (as I was chopping the onion and capers) would be to have a fresh bagel, smoked salmon, and cream cheese with those ingredients...

So, in an effort to tell you the good, and the not so good, and because I think cooking things like this makes us smarter about which recipes we chose to make, here you go.  Enjoy- if that's your thing.


  • 3  cups  uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
  • 1/4  cup  fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  • 1  teaspoon  minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4  cup  olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 12  ounces  medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped fresh spinach
  • 1  cup  canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4  cup  minced red onion
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped capers


1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
2. Combine juice, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in salt and pepper.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp to pan; cook for 2 minutes or until done. Stir in spinach, cannellini beans, red onion, and 2 tablespoons capers; toss to combine. Add the pasta and juice mixture to shrimp mixture; toss. 

...quick crispy cheesy chicken...

Remember when I made these before?  Maybe not.  Well, I did a variation of these with cheese and ham.  That was tasty.  These were too.  Stacey came over for dinner and I was in an "Oh no, I have nothing in the fridge, what can I make?" mode (even though I knew she was coming to dinner for about a week.)  I turned to eggs, panko, and flour.  Breading this chicken and then sauteeing up the tenders in the sauce pan we love oh-so-much until they were golden, flipping them, adding a bit of cheese, and plopping them into the oven at 350 for about 8 minutes or so resulting in crispy, juicy, chicken to spice up the menu. We had a big salad, good wine, and called it a night.

...eggplant parmasen...

I made this recipe one Saturday a couple weeks ago when I knew I had time to make something just like this.  A recipe with a couple more steps than I can handle time wise on a weeknight.  Starting recipes around 6:30 really makes me more interested in 30 minute wonders, or well, the slow cooker.  Sounds nicer than saying "crock pot" don't you think? 

This recipe is yet another from Cooking Light, and their "Enlightened Cook" section. The first step in breading then baking your eggplants until their crispy (flipping once while cooking) is really the key to this recipe.  I also loved how I didn't think there was enough ricotta or tomato sauce, but it baked down to be the perfect consistency.  I'd make this again soon, if it weren't for the fact that we ate it for a whole week and I need a break...

Recipe thanks to Cooking Light

Ingredients You'll Need

  • Eggplant:
  • large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 cups whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • (1-pound) eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Filling:
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • (16-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • large egg, lightly beaten

  • Remaining ingredients:
  • (24-ounce) jar premium pasta sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely grated fontina cheese

  • 1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  • 2. To make eggplant, combine 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon water in a shallow dish. Combine panko and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a second shallow dish. Dip eggplant in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere and shaking off excess. Place eggplant on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden, turning once and rotating baking sheets halfway through.
  • 3. To make filling, combine basil and next 6 ingredients (through egg).
  • 4. To assemble, spoon 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Sprinkle eggplant with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Top with about 3/4 cup pasta sauce; spread half of ricotta mixture over sauce, and top with a third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Repeat layers once, ending with about 1 cup pasta sauce. 
  • 5. Cover tightly with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Remove foil; top with remaining third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts. 
Enjoy with your favorite beverage, a nice crisp romaine salad, and your best friends.

...cigars and port and eric too...

Last weekend Eric came up from Richmond to hang out with us.  This weekend he's back.  Tomorrow he deploys to Afghanistan for 6 months.  It's pretty surreal.  I tear up watching people I don't even know deploy, or come home.  This is definitely the first time I've known some one so well whose going.  Eric, you'll be in our thoughts and prayers often. Come home safe and soon!

Last weekend we saw some sights and mid afternoon Eric and Benjamin (and maybe me too) enjoyed some cigars and port outside at our communal patio table.  Ah, the good life.

...grilled eggplant with basil and feta...

I had some eggplant left over from an eggplant Parmesan I made and needed to use it up.  I threw it on our grill pan and got it nice and cooked.  Which, as you may know can become a problem.  I was marinated in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a hit of balsamic vinegar.  I dished it out, threw it on a platter, chopped up some basil, tossed on some feta, and all of the sudden it looked nice, and tasted pretty tasty as well....

...chicken stuffed with spinach, feta, and pine nuts...

Ok, are you ready?  If all goes according to plan, I'm about to load you up with recipes for the week.  No need to wonder what you're going to cook this week, ok?  As for me, our menu for the week is yet to be decided.  You first.  No.  Really...

I made this recipe thanks to Cooking Light's September issue two weeks ago and it was a good one.  Like many recipes, I was a bit confused at times.  There was more filling than I needed, and there was no way I was going to flip the chicken and have cheese go everywhere, but since you finish cooking it in the oven, it all works out.  This was a quick and if I do say so myself, impressive weeknight dinner.


5 ounces fresh spinach, -- chopped (I used a whole bag)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) -- crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts, -- toasted (mine weren't)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, -- minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 Cloves Garlic -- minced
4 6 Oz Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup fat free, lower-sodium chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Heat a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach to pan; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, tossing constantly. Place spinach in a colander; press until barely moist. Wipe pan clean.

3. Combine spinach, cheese, nuts, thyme, juice, and garlic. Cut a horizontal slit through the thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff 3 tablespoons filling into each pocket. Seal with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

4. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until brown. Add broth, and cover pan. Place pan in oven. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until done.


It's Friday!  Instead of leaving you hanging for who knows how long, I'm just going to keep the posts coming, ok?  Here we have a picture that was sent to my phone today.  That's right.  An eharmony mosaic up in Times Square.  Guess what?  Benjamin and I are in it.  You win.  You probably already guessed that.  Youbetcha.  I submitted photos and we made it.  It was sent to me from a friend who got on the eharm after we did, and just got engaged to her match!  Congrats you two!

So, it's about 100 degrees today which it totally messing with me and what my made up ideal weekend would look like.  After all, I did make pot roast the other day and I'm ready for Fall.  Instead, I guess I'll enjoy open toed shoes for a bit longer... I would like to say goodbye to the heat driven allergies though- they can leave now.

Happy Friday!

...details details...

I'm sorry to be posting yet another wedding post, but these pictures are the only ones on the computer I've had access to the most, and I know tonight I probably won't be able to get to food blogging.  If we're back before 9 I'll try and get one up for you.  In the meantime, here's a picture I absolutely love by the talented Emily of our rings.  We found them at a little shop on Coast Village and loved working with Daniel, the jeweler.  He did an awesome job and I hope to add other items of his to my jewels collection someday.  hint, double hint.  I also wanted to show you the programs that came from the awesome picture Annemarie took, then Liz turned it into a silhouette.  It's currently in our hallway hanging too...

...city life...

My apologies for the lack of food posts.  it's really on my list of things to do this week.  trumping 'you' has been work, making dinner, making lunch, and well, other house things.  I'm trying to get into a better routine and this week have hit up a yoga and Pilate's class at the gym just 2 blocks from my office.  It's not only a great workout, but a nice little break from sitting at my desk.  After Pilate's today I went to Pret A Manager (having failed to make lunch because this morning I woke up to sear meat for pot roast...10 hrs in the slow cooker today equals dinner tonight.)  Kate talked this place up, and for good reason.  It's so fresh, I feel almost like I packed my lunch after all.  I got their super health salad (that's the name) and a coconut pineapple water.  I'll pack my lunch the rest of the week after the price of such a simple meal, but not disappointed in the least.  Thanks Pret, and thanks yoga-lates.

...the cake...

I'm not so sure I ever highlighted the amazing cake my dear friend Anne made for the wedding.  She picked flowers from the garden to garnish it with.  It was just perfect.

...an ode to the open road...


It's been a big week here enjoying dc.  Kate was in Thursday as we headed to see Jenny & Johnny at the Black cat, then this morning Eric arrived for the weekend before deploying to Afghanistan.  House guests galore!

Today we headed to Crystal City for lunch with Bob then headed downtown to go to the Spy Museum and then over to the Portrait Gallery.  There's an exhibit there now with Norman Rockwell pieces- collections of George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg.  Well done to them.  This Spy Museum was worth every penny ($18 a person) and the portrait gallery was great.

We headed to Old Ebitt to show Eric that, get a drink, then headed back to catch the Clemson football game, make some steak, drink some wine, and enjoy the weekend.  On the way there we saw the Cowgirl Creamery shop, stopped in, and immediately were offered a wine tasting.  For free. Happy Saturday to you!


I wish there was a paint color called "beet."  That was silly- I'm sure there is.  Regardless, every time I cut one open I think about how awesome the color is, and how great the colors are in general that God puts in food.  Really.  Avocados, lemons, beets.  Color.

I simply cut mine (peel sometimes, sometimes not- I scrub them good) and throw in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper for abount 15 minutes, toss, then another 20 or so until fork tender.  Love them hot and cold.  Cold with some goat cheese really is a great combo.  We got these beets from a farm stand near Hillsboro, VA.  They were $3 for a huge bunch, and I think- delicious.

...william hill...

One of our favorite wineries from the trip was William Hill.  Located off the Silverado Trail and then some, this winery not only has impeccable views, but excellent wine.  We've been enjoying this wine now that we're back, and it still is on the top of our list. 

Tonight we had steak paired with their Petit Verdot....awesome.  Last night was scallops and Bench Blend Chardonnay.  Excellent.  Needless to say, if you see a bottle of their wine somewhere- get it and enjoy.

...poached salmon...

As I write this I'm realizing there are more than a few posts I need to do.  So, you might just be getting a slew of updates from me.  First up, a salmon recipe my Mom made often, and still does, and a recipe that's become the staple way to make salmon now for me.  It's pretty much as simple as they come, and one of those recipes where even if you don't know what you're doing, it'll hopefully turn out moist, not dry.

Take the salmon- season lightly with salt and pepper- and put it in a pan with some olive oil.  Add white wine to come up to about 1/4 to 1/2 of the salmon.  Throw some capers on top.  Don't worry about the juice from the capers.  Put the lid on and let it simmer up and cook.  I don't have an exact number to tell you- but I'd let it go for about ten minutes then check and see if it's done.  If you stick a fork in it and it easily comes apart when asked, you're good.  The wine caper sauce (I've been known to add a little butter at the last minute too) is really good atop some rice or angel hair.  You can even take out the salmon, add in some spinach, cook that down, then throw everything atop pasta.  I'd say that's a simple weeknight meal, wouldn't you?

...hog island oysters...

As I sit here with another batch of granola bars in the oven I thought I'd highlight one of the best days of our honeymoon.  I'll probably post more about our trip to Napa/Sonoma, but maybe only if I post a recipe too so that all of you who don't really care about our trip won't get mad at me (over the interwebs..)  Anyways.  We were at Louis Martini Winery (which we didn't love) but the girl there told us to go to Hog Island Oysters in Marshall, Ca.  It was one of the best recommendations we got the whole trip and a very fun trip.

We headed out in our fun rental car and into the beauty of northern california.  Surprisingly the hotel didn't understand why we were going somewhere an hour away; I'm surprised they didn't recommend it to more people!  We went on a Thursday and apparently their picnic tables are rented through November.  I'd more than highly recommend this.  You go, you shuck oyesters...you bring a picnic, they give you lemons and hot sauce.  Benjamin asked how fresh they were and loved the guys response.  "Well, it was alive until you opened it.."  Picking algae off an oyster is a good way to mark it's freshness.

I wasn't a lover of oysters until this day.  They were so fresh and not as salty as the ones you find on the east coast.  I'm not trying to be partial to California- I hear it's true.  It came out to be a buck an oyster which isn't bad at all when you consider what you could pay at a restaurant.  We drove around and stopped off hoping to see the ocean, but alas it was a bit further than we thought.  I'd highly recommend you go the Hog Island Oysters on your next visit to Northern California.  I know we'll be back...

virginia. wine country?

Two weekends ago Benjamin and I headed out to Virginia's wine country.  Purceville and Haymarket to be exact.  We picnicked at Hillsboro then headed in for a tasting.  It was....ok.  I've been there before and liked it, and this time I would say it was ok.  Gotta be honest.  We mentioned that we thought maybe a bottle was off, and they tasted, and tried, and told us they thought it was fine.  (just Virginia wine...).  After that we headed to an awesome market where we got local buuuuutttter and some sweet corn (great combo) and also some beets.  I love me some roasted beets.  I'd also like to paint something in the color of "beet."

Afterwards we headed to Haymarket and La Grange for some sangria.  Apparently others got the memo and this place was packed.  We thought they might be out of sangria but thankfully they came through.  Having come off a week in Napa we wondered if maybe they tasted a bad bottle or two and thought, "hey, at least we can make Sangria!"  That said, a lot of people were lining up to buy wine too!  It was a beautiful setting and a great day in the country...

...welcome to my kitchen...

With this new season and new place, there comes a new kitchen.  I think it's safe to say we're using every inch of space.  The other day I felt a bit like Julia Child (fun when you can say that) thinking of just nailing all my pots and pans to the wall.  I won't be doing that, but I can see how and why she did.

So blogosphere, here it is.  And here's a pic from granola making as promised...

operation enjoy dc

When Ana and I lived here after college, we didn't much like DC.  In fact, we got to the point where we had to have "OEDC: Operation Enjoy DC."  Well, Benjamin didn't know about this at all, but he's doing a good job which is making me enjoy it here to a degree I didn't think I would.  Or maybe I should say, didn't think I would- so soon.  Rather than have a few posts about what we've done in the past week, I figured I'd post one.

This Thursday we met up with Bob, Benjamin's friend from the USAF who is stationed in Montana but here for a conference.  He's staying at the Gaylord at National Harbor, so we met up with him there.  I had to let go of my hopes of eating Rosa Mexicano when he said he hated Mexican food, so we found ourselves at the sports bar in the Las Vegas style hotel.  This place really made me feel like I was in Vegas.  Impressive, yes.  Similar to Vegas, am I really needing to go back?  No.  The night was beautiful and just turning to get cool.  We had a great time catching up with Bob over a burger, then walking around and sharing a drink at Bobby McKeys where two guys rocked it out for all 8 of us.

Friday night we found ourselves at Fashion Night Out in Georgetown because well, we're just that classy.  OR we like a deal.  We walked around shops that were staying open later and enjoyed a free drink here and there, some music in the streets, and most importantly, my first (and also free) Georgetown Cupcake!  I have to say, I got a bit more excited than I'd maybe like to admit standing in line thinking about the few episodes of the show I've watched.  I was trying to tell Benjamin how it's not as annoying as he might think.  Not sure that worked.

Regardless, we're having fun and enjoying it here.  I made a great eggplant parm tonight I'll try and post tomorrow.  Happy Weekend!

...granola bars...

It's been a month of transition.  New place, new life, new jobs, new new new.  The newness hasn't worn off, but I'd say we're just now coming into what might be called a routine.  Last night I had a night I needed- rest, relax, clean (makes me feel better to have a clean house- speaking of, we got the shark as a wedding present and it's rocking my world..)  I digress.  We're going from life as we knew it to life as we'll now know it. DC, metros, longer hours, less down time.

In this process, I've been cooking and have posts to share, hooray!  Unfortunately for you, I didn't take this picture.  Fortunately for you, at least I'm semi blogging about food!  Once I download the pics (hopefully tonight) I'll post them.  With this marriage, came an awesome camera so be excited readers, I intend to look really fancy.

picture thanks to the kitchn

I modified the original recipe with what I had around the house.  You know me- I'd rather use what's in the pantry than run out for something else.  I also added some raspberry jam instead of the dried fruit they recommended because I didn't have any, and I used some salt and peppered cashews instead of the pumpkin seeds.  Also, I used store bought granola (oops) and some oats instead of the puffed wheat, etc. they recommend.  Come to think of it, I think I've made enough modifications to call this recipe my own.  My point is, you too can come up with some modification.  It's all about making something sticky, patting it down good in the pan, and having the right ratio of oaty goodness.

My Granola Bars, modified from this recipe
9x9" pan  

3 1/2 tbsp. creamy natural peanut butter
3 tbsp. honey (my santa ynez honey is running low.. :( )
3 tbsp. agave syrup
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. raspberry preserves
2 cups granola
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not the quick-cook kind)
1/3 cup chopped salt and pepper cashews
Preheat oven to 325°. Line 8- or 9-inch square pan with a parchment or cooking spray.  I used spray. Warm peanut butter, honey, agave, jam, and brown sugar until sugar has melted and peanut butter has thinned. Mix dry ingredients in big bowl. Pour liquid on top, mixing as you go. When everything is equally coated, spread the mixture into the pan. Press mixture down. Bake for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely then cut and enjoy and bring them to work or pack them in your husbands lunch.