Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Pasta

By Natalie

This pasta dish is so versatile and easy. Micah went back for seconds. I ate the rest right out of the pot. You can add any type of veggies that you want to roast. Micah doesn't particularly enjoy asparagus. Next time I might add broccoli. I couldn't find any argula like the original recipe called for and I didn't have any dried herbes de Provence. Tony Chachere's is my go to spice.

Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne with Goat Cheese
Adapted from Cooking Light

1/2 lb of pasta
12 asparagus spears (or however many meet your fancy)
24 grape tomatoes or 12 cherry tomatoes
s & p
2 tbsp of lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tsp of Tony Chachere's
1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
1  1/2 tsp of honey
1/2 c of crumbled feta
  1.  Set oven to 400.
  2.  Heat a large pot of boiling water, and add pasta. Once pasta comes to a boil, salt to taste. Cook pasta, and drain. Set aside.
  3. While pasta is cooking, put asparagus and tomatoes on a shallow baking dish.  Sprinkle cracked pepper and sea salt over veggies. Then drizzle oil.  Toss to coat. Cook asparagus for 6 minutes, then set aside. Continue cooking tomatoes for 4 more minutes. Set all veggies aside and let them cool for 10 minutes. Then slice to bite sized pieces.
  4. In a small bowl mix the lemon juice through honey ingredients with a whisk. Then slowly add 2 tbsps of EVOO.
  5. Combine the veggies, pasta, and sauce in a bowl. Then add the feta.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Penne a la Vodka

By Natalie

Yesterday my dad and I went out for lunch at On the Border. I love it! I had cheese enchiladas, and I just won't think about how many calories were in that dish. Then we headed over to Irving to see the Genghis Kahn exhibit. I was the navigator. I thought my dad said 333 Macarthur, but he really said 3333. So, we got a little lost, but we eventually found it. We also discovered that Irving is a little shady. The Genghis Kahn exhibit was okay, there was even a mummy. The most interesting thing we saw were these Mongolians khoomei (throat singing). It is the most bizarre thing to witness. I kept looking around to see where the sounds were coming from, because there is no way that a human was capable to make those noises. The 2 performers were very handy on the fiddle and lute.

I have found the key to success. I will not eat a meal before I go to spin class. Yesterday, I ate half of a cliff bar. I felt really energetic during spin class. I also was sweating buckets. After class, I ran half of a mile until yoga class started. Since my muscles were already warmed up I thought yoga would be fun. So, I went to yoga class and Micah came back and picked me up in an hour.

That means that I didn't start cooking dinner until 9:00. Who deserves a medal? This girl. I made Sandra Lee's Penne a la Vodka. It is really easy to make, and was very tasty. I suppose it would be difficult not to be good when it includes bacon and heavy whipping cream. I can count the number of times I've bought bacon on one hand, and this week I'm making 2 meals with bacon. I'm going to fatten us up!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mean Black Crows and Halibut

By Natalie

I made macadamia crusted halibut with a pineapple salsa. I took the recipe from Sandra Lee's cookbook. This was my first time to cook halibut, and the meat is so white. I tis not fishy. It was pretty expensive, $23 per pound.  I only bought half a pound. I'm not sure if it was so expensive because I was shopping at Central Market or what. And, macadamia nuts are not cheap. The pineapple salsa was good even without onions and cilantro. I didn't have any cilantro, so I used basil instead.

I waited until 8:00 PM to go for a run to let it get "cool." Ha! It never cools down in Texas in the summer. I ran 5 miles, but I moved at a snail's pace. I was about half a mile from home, when a crow started to chase me. I was running and I would hear "caw-caw." I thought hmmm that's strange that crow sounds awfully close. When I got to the corner it started dive bombing me. I crossed the street screaming and almost threw myself down in the road.  The crow was still after me. I decided to run down the middle of the street to get away from the street. The crow came after me one more time, then finally left me alone. I strongly dislike birds.

A few years ago, Micah and I were driving along the road in Houston and a black crow was doing the same thing to a man running down the street. We felt so bad for him, because he was going to go home and tell his family a crow chased him and no one was going to believe him. I felt bad that we couldn't help him verify his story.

Be careful out there.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grilled Cheese, Book Club, and a New Dress

By Natalie

We were down to nothing in our fridge. Anyone else find relief in using all their food at the end of the week? I really take the "kids are starving in Africa" to a whole new level, just ask my co-workers.  With just the bare essentials we made a 3 cheese grilled cheese (provolone, Monterrey jack cheese, and SHREDDED cheddar cheese). It was really delicious, and oh, so cheesy. I had a side of Campbell's bean & bacon soup. It's okay, you can call my trashy for eating that. Micah does. Here's a recipe to make home-made bean & bacon soup.

Book Club
Our book this month was Water For Elephants. We ventured over to Irving to watch the movie at the dollar theater. It didn't have stadium seating, and you could feel the bar in the seat. I felt like we were slumming it a bit. The movie was good even a second time. Afterward, we went to Vito's Italian restaurant, and it was a little gangster. One of the patron's had some choice words tattooed on his knuckles. I'll give you a hint, it's a 4 letter word, and it starts with an "f". I felt like he was cussing me out while I was eating my dinner.  Also, the service was terrible. What totally made up for it was the company. It's such a treat to hang out with Jennie, Erica, Julie, Julia, Jennifer,  Mel, and my mom. Can't wait to see everyone in July. I wish we all lived closer, instead of spread out over the metroplex.

New Dress
Last week my mom and I worked on making me a dress. Well, I cut it out, and she put it all together. She's the best. Isn't the dress just darling?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Farmer's Market Sandwich

By Natalie

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and it looked delicious. I had a sandwich with eggplant on it in Boston, and it was good. I was willing to give eggplant another try. When I told Micah what we were going to have, and he was ready to head to Chick-Fil-A. I told him I would cut the eggplant thinly. I used my mandoline for the 2nd time, hooray. I cut the zucchini and eggplant thinner than the recipe required and cooked the veggies in a grill basket. I was excited to use my rosemary from my garden.  I did not bother with onions (of course!) and added sliced avocado. We had homemade guacamole and chips as a side. By homemade, I mean I mashed avocado with Pace Picante sauce.

 For lunch, I met Jennie at her mom's house in Plano. Her dad is in town from California, and it was great to see him. But, the star of the meet up was Kyle. Isn't he just precious? So cute, and very well mannered. Did I mention, he's also a genius?
 Oh, and let's not forget Cody, Peggy's 11 year old sheltie. He's so docile compared to Barley. Probably as hairy as Barley though!

Later that night, I met up with Christine to see X-Men.  I really liked the cartoon when I was growing up, and have seen all the movies. I was glad Christine was fine with seeing this movie! Afterward, we went to Snuffers, and enjoyed their legendary cheese fries.  These cheese fries made me long for Dixie Chicken's cheese fries in College Station. Good thing football season is just around the corner. I also enjoyed two margaritas, yummy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream and Spiced Carrot Muffins

By Natalie

For lunch we went to Cheese Cake Factory and I enjoyed a delicious portobello mushroom burger. The fries were excellent. We didn't get any cheese cake, sad day.

I made Key Lime Pie Ice Cream. I had extra key limes from making a key lime pie for Father's Day. This ice cream is pretty tangy. I added some crushed graham crackers as a topping. There are quite a few recipes out there, I chose the one that didn't require cooking and waiting around for it to cool. I thought about skipping the step of refrigerating, but I think it made a huge difference. It allowed the ice cream to get really creamy before I put it in the ice cream maker. You should definitely try it, especially if you like squeezing 1 pound of tiny key limes.

My best gal pal, Jennie is trying a vegan experiment this summer. I wanted to help her out a little, so I decided to make her some muffins. I was perusing The Happy Herbivore cookbook and decided to make Spiced Carrot muffins (the link is to the cupcakes, which are very similar to the muffins). This was the recipe in which I had everything on hand. The great thing about making vegan muffins is you an eat as much batter at you want! These are really tasty and moist. I didn't have any ground cloves, so I just subbed with pumpkin pie spice. I want to try the Chocolate Zucchini muffins next.

Saucer Party

By Natalie
 Yesterday we celebrated Micah's 2nd plate at the Flying Saucer.  You have to drink 200 different beers to get a plate. His 2nd plate took about 3 years, whereas his first plate took 9 months. Flying Saucer gives you a party once you drink 200 beers, and you get $100 bar tab. Woo-hoo!

Here's Micah's plate that they'll hang up:
 Here's the happy couple!
 My favorite red shoes!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Patterns and Peaches

By Natalie
I spent the day hanging out with my mom and dad. I cut out my dress, and my mom started sewing on it. It'll be done soon, with much bribery and convincing. Don't I have the best mommy?

Work Out
At 9:00 AM they have the Aquatics class at my pool, and they close down all lap swimming. Must get there before 9:00! My pool is um, very interesting. The elderly think the lap pool is a place where you just lounge about and hang out at one end of the pool, or hang on the lane ropes. I'm losing my patience very quickly with this pool congregation. I swam an easy 500 meters, and then did a little strength training. I won't even go into the elderly nudity that I've had to endure in the locker room. I need my eyes washed out with alcohol, and my brain erased.

 Skillet Pork Chops Saute with Peaches from Cooking Light
I didn't have any white wine, so I subbed Micah's home brew. I had a little bit of trouble getting the sauce to reduce. This is no surprise, I'm terrible with sauces.  I also didn't add any shallots, just a little onion powder instead.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pot Pie

By Natalie

I have quite the to-do list going for the summer. Soon I'll be down to all the things I don't want to do. Today I tackled washing all the curtains in my house, and I cleaned out the last closet. Don't stress out though, I got plenty of relaxing time in too. I watched Blue Valentine, which was very depressing.  Michelle Williams from Dawson's Creek was in it, and she was pretty revealing. I do not recommend it.

Work Out
Micah and I went to spin class. Today was tough. I wonder if there will be a day when spin class feels easy?  After spin, Micah and I hit the pavement. I ran 3 miles without walking, hooray! I felt great during my run, except for the gnats. When I got back I had at least 5 gnats stuck to the sweat on my neck. Disgusting. I was a minute under my goal time, it's okay I'll get better. It's still 95 degrees at 8:15 PM.

I slaved over this vegetable pot pie. Details coming Friday! For now a picture will have to do.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Seafood Mondays

By Natalie

By 9:30 AM I had made smoothies, had a cup of coffee, folded 3 loads of laundry, did the dishes,  unloaded the dishwasher, and ran 5 miles.  I needed a nap by 10:00.

We eat seafood on Mondays, because this is grocery store day. I took a trip to Central Market this afternoon, and it was crowded. What's the deal? I was hoping to do my shopping in peace. The seafood counter took forever, and I gave up completely at the deli counter. At least my check out was quick.

I finished The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I started this book yesterday, and was instantly sucked in.  It's a really easy read, although I feel like it lost some steam near the end. The main character is lovable, and you root for her the whole time.

Today I ran 5 miles, and my pace was just pitiful. It was really windy, but you need the wind or else you would melt. I made it, but felt pretty terrible the rest of the afternoon.

We made Pioneer Woman's Spicy Orange Garlic Shrimp. I accompanied this with rice and broccoli. Micah & I enjoyed this dish. I only added 1/4 tsp of cayenne, Micah wilts when things are too hot. 
In my house, we fill our wine glasses to the brim. To hell with dignity.
photo credit: & me

Father's Day Dinner

By Natalie

I made dinner and dessert for my Dad. It was delicious!
 Barley is a good boy waiting for a piece of chicken!
 Micah cooked this beer can chicken on the Big Green Egg at 225 degrees for about 2 hours. It was very flavorful and juicy.
One of my Dad's all time favorites is potato salad. He loves to eat it with gumbo or on top of pretty much anything. I on the other hand strongly dislike it.  I  made myself a side of mashers.
 I got this recipe from Elly Says Opa. Notice Key Lime Pie is not green. Yellow Key Lime pie is the real deal. I waited until just before serving before I add the heavy whipping cream.
 I served cinnamon ice cream alongside the Key Lime pie. If you like drinking the milk after you've had Cinnamon Toast cereal, this is the ice cream for you. I added 1 tbsp of cinnamon, which is a tad too much. I think next time I'll try 2-3 tsp. I used the vanilla ice cream starters from Williams-Sonoma.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mushrooms and Long Bike Rides

By Natalie

Saturday is the day we do our long rides. We are training to ride in the Hotter n' Hell in August. Which distance we'll do is to be determined at a later date. Long ride to me means 24 miles, and long ride to Micah means 50.  The plan was to start at the trail head at Hillcrest & 635. Then ride the 6 miles to White Rock Lake and then the 9 miles around the lake, and come back. The trail out to White Rock is nice and not too crowded, there are no lights or stops. The trail around the lake is a bit more crowded, especially on the weekends. Next week we need to get to the trail by 7:00 AM to avoid the heat and crowds. I think it is the most crowded from 8-10 AM.

Micah planned on doing the route twice.  In actuality, I rode 26.75 and Micah rode 51.5 miles. I am so proud of Micah! This is the furthest he's gone. It was pretty hot when he returned, and the wind didn't let up much. It is always pretty windy around the lake.

Pork Chops Smothered in Mushrooms

Barley is always by my side when I'm cooking. He's the best at catching food that falls on the floor.

For some crazy reason I went to Wal-Mart not once, but twice. I knew I was taking a risk going on a Saturday, but I needed some things for our Father's Day dinner.  First off, I could barely push the cart around the store. Why do I always get the bum cart? Second, when I went to check out they had ONE checker working. I went up to said checker and informed him, he's the only one working and everyone else has left. He found someone to open up another register. And wouldn't ya know, the person in front of me wrote a check?! She had been standing in line for about 10 minutes, couldn't she have written it out while standing in line?

The second trip consisted of the same thing. No one to check you out.  After we finally got checked out, Micah said, "quick let's get out of here as fast as we can." I took this mean to start running with our hands in the air screaming, "I hate this place."

I'm sticking with Central Market. Although I did go there on a Saturday, and that place is crowded. You can't even maneuver in the produce, and I didn't have a cart. I bought my chicken and bee-lined it to the cash registers. No more grocery store trips for me....until Monday.

Happy Father's Day

By Natalie

My Dad taught me to drive stick. He took me over to the high school parking lot, and said I have to make it up this hill, then I can drive around town. I made it up that hill.

He taught me about finances. On weekend mornings, I would help him balance the checkbook and write checks to pay the bills. He encouraged me to start a mutual fund at 16 with my high school job. He taught me to be a saver, and for this I'm truly grateful. You won't find me out running up credit cards. He tries to teach anyone who will listen about saving money and living debt free.  His financial hero is Dave Ramsey.

My Dad taught me that its okay to dance around your kitchen even if you have no rhythm. I get up and dance around the living room all the time. Micah thinks I'm crazy. But, I get it from dad. So You Think You Can Dance also turns me into a leaping and spinning fool.

I don't know the words to any songs. I just make them up as a I go along, my dad taught me that this is okay.  My mom on the other hand knows all the words to songs.

In my family, my Dad and I are the "brown heads."  The "brown heads" follow the rules and don't get into trouble. We are the type that watch the "blonde heads" jump off of waterfalls, while we stay behind the fence that says, "DO NOT ENTER." In our world, "rules are rules."

When I think of my Dad, I can't help but think of his most common phrases growing up. It makes me laugh and laugh.
 "Cats kill dead animals."
"You are burning the candle at both ends. You are hurting your spleen. You are going to get mononucleosis."
"Nothing good happens after midnight."

My Dad is one of the most loyal people you'll ever meet. He helps people. He is honest. I'm glad he's my Dad.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fantastic Friday

Here are the top 10 reasons why Friday rocked:

1. I got a WHITE iphone 4.
 2. My engagement ring and wedding band came in the mail. I sent them off to be cleaned and replated. They look amazing,  just like the first day that I got them. Best of all, I only had to pay to have them shipped 1 way.

3. I got to eat lunch with my bestie, Jennie. We ventured down to Oak Cliff and went to BEE's Enchiladaeria. I think they are a little over confident in the name of their establishment. But, Jennie is trying out a vegan experiment, and this place really caters to that!

4. I did not have to work out. I haven't really been killing it this week, but I always enjoy a day off. It was Micah's day off too. We had to rest up for our long Saturday bike ride.

5. Micah worked from home, and only had to work a half day.

6. Then we took a nap. It was wonderful.

7. We finished season 3 of Breaking Bad. This show has been a little slow this season, and as usual Jessie is the downfall of Walt. (I really dislike the name Jessie for a boy).

8. I finished "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."

9. I did not have to drive to Wylie to feed my parents' dogs.

10. My parents brought me Key Lime Jalapeno jelly. Doesn't that sound interesting?


Steak and Edamame Salad with Maibock home brew.
This was not our favorite. If I make it again, I'm going to eliminate the condiments. And simply toss them in some soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bike Ride from Hell, Watermelon, and Bell Peppers

By Natalie

I swam 500 meters this morning, which only takes about 10 minutes. Not much of a work out, and I was planning on running afterward.  But, I forgot my tennis shoes!

When Micah came home he had the genius plan to ride our bikes over to my parents which is about 16 miles away. The plan was to ride there, feed the dogs, and then ride back. When we were 1.25 miles away from home, I got a flat tire. We changed it without much of a problem.  When we were at mile 13 a buzzing insect flew into my helmet. I was shaking my head trying to get the bug out. Then I took of my helmet to shake him out and my sunglasses flew off in the road. I pulled over to go get my sunglasses, just as a car ran them over. The ride to my parents isn't really meant for bikers, lots of traffic. Once we arrived at my parents, we abandoned the bike ride, and took my parents' car home. Only problem was the car was on EMPTY, below the E. I didn't think we were going to make it back home. And we had no money, no shoes, and no license to stop and get gas. At least we had our road IDs!

Watermelon Fest
I actually do not like watermelon. But, I hijacked some watermelon from the Gilmore's on Sunday. I really wanted to try Watermelon Jalapeno pops, but forget to get a jalapeno at Sprouts.  So, I made these other treats instead. Micah has already had 3 glasses of the limeade. I decided to add a splash of vodka, which makes it extra yummy!
Watermelon Limeade

Watermelon Lime Sorbet

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Orzo and Lemons

By Natalie

I made Tuscan Lemon muffins. They are very tasty. When you bake them, be careful not to over cook. They will be really light in color.  I increased some of the amounts to make them extra moist. I had 2 right as they came out of the oven.

I made Orzo Salad with Zucchini and Feta. I changed this recipe up quite a bit.  While you are boiling the pasta, I sliced 2 zucchinis into half moons and placed them in foil. I covered the zucchini with Chachere's and butter, and cooked for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  Then made the sauce 3 tbsp of EVOO, 3 tbsp of rice wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper, s & p in a small bowl. Set aside.  I halved some cherry tomatoes. Once the pasta is finished run under cold water. Then add the tomatoes, feta, sauce, and cooked zucchini to the pasta. S & P to taste.

I felt like crap all day, and was really dreading spin class. I contemplated not going, but Micah made me. About 30 minutes into the class I thought I was going to throw-up, but I kept going.  At the end of class I felt great. I know that working out always makes me feel much better about life, but sometimes it is really hard to get the motivation to get up and go. After spin, I had enough energy to run 2 miles!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dinner for the Week of June 13th-17th

By Natalie

Panko Crusted Salmon
I skipped the step where I sauteed it in a pan before putting it in the oven. I just smeared mustard and piled on the panko and stuck it in the oven. Very easy, and takes around 10 minutes! We had baked potatoes as a side.


Orzo Salad with Zucchini and Feta
I try to make something light on Tuesdays because we have spin class. 

Carribean Stuffed Peppers
This recipe is taken from the Big Green Egg cookbook. Micah & I don't love stuffed bell peppers but wanted to try this recipe out. I bought Jerk seasoning in the spice section.  I bought my red bell peppers at Sprouts for a great price. I'm going to use ground turkey instead of ground beef.


Edamame Salad with Crisp Steak Bits
I had some extra flank steak in the fridge that I've been meaning to use. This seems like an interesting combination. Certainly high in protein.

Pork Chops with Mushrooms, Dill, and Sour Cream Sauce
A few months ago I bought some dill in the produce section. Then I planted it in a small planter. I'm excited to use fresh dill that I've kept alive!

Miserable Monday

By Natalie

Today I woke up at 7:30. The latest I've slept this summer vacation is 8:00. Wow. I'm ready for some days to sleep in.

I went to Wylie and fed my mom's dogs. Driving over there is getting on my last nerve. I'm making Micah go over there this evening.

Then I went to the dermatologist to get my skin checked. I had to have 2 moles biopsied. At least it was mostly painless. But, who wants to get shots and stabbed on a Monday?

Then I drove to Carrollton to pick up my Granny. We went and visited my cousin Katy, who is on her 7th day in the hospital. She's hoping to get released on Tuesday. It will probably be Wednesday. Poor dear.

Made my grocery list using GroceryIQ.

Came home and called insurance companies. Let me tell you, that was really fun. I had to call and get a refund, please tell me why they didn't notice they had $222 of mine? Why did I have to call and request it? Bastards.

Then I paid $53.80 for my vehicle registration.

Now, I need to go to the grocery store, but I just don't know if I can manage it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Busy Busy Thursday

By Natalie

The day was moving along just fine, until I dropped my iPhone on my hardwood floors. Here's the result:

It's still working, but I'm a little afraid that I'm going to cut my finger on the screen.

I went to a yoga class this morning. We worked on shoulders, which was convenient since mine has been feeling a little stiff.

I drove mom to the airport and then met up with these lovely ladies (Sarah, Christy & baby Anna, Jess & Caroline) and Hayden at Su Vino.

 Su Vino has a special place in my heart because of their almond champagne. Delicious! I got to hold baby Anna, and she's just so cute!

After wine tasting at noon, I jetted over to UT Southwestern to visit my cousin Katy. She's in the hospital for the next 10 days getting her antibodies exchanged. I made a stop at Whataburger and had a grilled cheese AND fries. I can't even tell you the last time I went to a fast food restaurant. I feel pretty guilty.

After all of my driving over the metroplex, I came home and made Pork Chops with a Blueberry sauce.

Then I had to have a glass of wine since the recipe required wine.

For dessert, I had mixed berries sorbet. It is so creamy, and was worth staying up late last night to make.

Oh, and Barley is peeved at me. I am trying to treat his continuous ear infections. He does not like it AT ALL.