Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Do you guys watch the show Best Thing I Ever Ate?  I do!  I love that show.  Every time I watch it I find my mouth watering in a want-to-plan-a-vacation-around-eating-at-the-place-they-are-describing kind of way.  So many things look so good and the way the chefs describe everything, I just WANT it!

Recently, I watched an episode on breakfast or brunch food, and I can't even remember which chef or which restaurant it was, but they had blueberry ricotta pancakes somewhere and they looked AWESOME.  I knew I had to make some.

I basically used my go to pancake recipe, but changed a few things.

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

1 egg, separated
3/4 cup flour
1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter (but not hot)
1/2 cup blueberries
1//2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Seperate egg, and beat egg white til stiff.  Set aside.
In a seperate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
Beat egg yolks with milk and melted butter.
Stir yolk mixture with flour mixture.  Add ricotta cheese and lemon zest. 
Fold in the egg whites and add the blueberries.
Drop by 1/4 cup on to hot greased griddle.
Serve with warm REAL maple syrup (Hey, I'm from New England!)
Makes about 6-8 pancakes.

The ricotta and egg white make these pancakes really light and fluffy.  I thought they were delicious!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Five Friday Favorites

Life is pretty routine for me lately.  Usually a typical day goes something like this:

-Morning routine (shower, breakfast, take Clyde out, do hair, get dressed, etc...)
-Come home
-Walk Clyde/exercise
-Make dinner
-Do house stuff (dishes, clean kitchen, laundry)
-Crash in front of TV
Being that I don't want to bore you guys to death with my somewhat mundane routine, that's left me without tons of blog content.  Even my meals have been kind of on the simple, uncreative side (hey, sometimes baked potatoes for dinner is where it's at).  I will say, that I'm happy and well, and still passionate about things.   

Here's some of my favorite things lately. 

1.  For breakfast, I've been really into blueberries, plain organic yogurt, Quaker oatmeal squares, and milk, together in a bowl.  You just layer them all together and enjoy. 

I've had this for breakfast three times in a row this week, which is unheard of for me, because I usually like to mix up my breakfast options.  The combination of the tart blueberries with the sweet oatmeal squares and the creaminess of the yogurt, which is also kind of tart, is just awesome.  Try it!

2.  My natural beauty products. 

clockwise from top right:  Nature's Gate Colloidal Oatmeal lotion, Mineral Fusion mascara, Burt's Bees night cream, and Avalon Organics essential mineral smoothing cleanser.

If you read Erin's blog, you know that this is something she's very passionate about- using and spreading knowledge about products that are natural.  Reading her posts definitely got me thinking about it, and I know use these products, plus non-toxic foundation, shampoo, and conditioner.  I also have non-toxic floor cleaner and other cleaning products.  I just think it's important to not be exposing yourself unnecessarily to toxic things if you can avoid it. 

3.  This song:  Bon Iver - Halocene

I just think it's beautiful...

4.  Walks with Clyde (or which ever dogs are around).

I'm still not running a whole lot, but I have been walking really consistently, almost every day.  I just really enjoy the time outside and watching Clyde prance around all cute with his tongue hanging out, taking in nature.

5.  Parenthood. 

This show is outstanding.  Half the time I'm cringing because the characters are doing something that's obviously going to get them into trouble, but a lot of the time I'm smiling because the show is touching.  If you're not watching it, I think you should be.

What are you into lately??

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Double Dog Dared

Well, it's been a crazy weekend over here.  I offered to dog sit for Rascal while Kelly was out of town this weekend, so I've been trying my hand at a two dog world.  I admit at times I've wondered if I would want a second dog, when seeing cute ones listed on Pet Finder, so this was an interesting trial.

The first night did not go too well.  I didn't get Rascal til around 8pm Thursday night, so he and Clyde didn't have time to get all their crazy "Hey new dog!" energy out of their system before bedtime.

Both dogs sleep in the bed (Rascal sleeps with Kelly and Brad), and I wasn't sure how it would go over to NOT let them both sleep in bed with me, so they were both up in bed with me and neither could settle down.  One would hear something and bark and set the other off. 
Plus, they wanted to go out in the middle of the night.  Ugh, it was a long night...

The next day I headed out to work and hoped for the best, not sure how the two of them would do alone in the house.  I was just hoping Clyde would have both ears in tact when I got back.

I imagine there was some of this...

and some of this...

I checked on the dogs during my lunch break and they seemed ok.

Friday night we stayed in.  There was a lot of fighting over my lap.  And more playing.

Saturday was probably the best day we've had. 
I took the boys on a long walk in the warm mid 60 degree weather.  It was great!

All part of my plan to sufficiently wear them out.  Muhahaha!

I also got them both "doggie sundaes" from Brewsters, a tiny scoop of ice cream with a dog biscuit on top.

They were a big hit.

I had the Reeses Pieces Sundae.  Soooo good!

It's been fun having two dogs around, but it's a lot more work than one.  For one thing, I know Clyde so well, that I can tell in a second when he needs to go out, wants food, wants to sit on my lap, etc... 
It's harder for me to read Rascal. 
The other thing that's hard is that the two of them are constantly competing for my attention, my lap, and who can bark louder.  It can be exhausting getting them to calm down.  If this was a test to see if I would want a second dog, I would say no.  I kind of like just having one to focus on and take care of.  I'm not ready for a second dog at this point in my life.  It was fun trying it though!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Eggplant Bharta

I haven't been blogging about food quite as frequently as I once did, but one thing I've become pretty addicted to over the last year is Indian food.  There's a place near my office that has a lunch buffet, and I find myself craving it about once a week or so.  Since I don't always go every week, I've taken to making my own versions at home.  Chana masala is probably my favorite dish, but the other night I had an eggplant ready to be used.  I don't know about you, but pretty much the only two things I can ever think of to do with an eggplant is make eggplant parmesan or grill it with other veggies.  That's kind of limiting.  I remembered that there was an indian dish with eggplant (that's the good thing about going to a buffet where you can try different things), and started googling recipes.

I basically made this one, adapted for a smaller portion and minus/plus a few ingredients.

Eggplant Bharta

1 eggplant
1 small/medium onion sliced or diced (whatever you prefer, I sliced mine thinly)
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic chopped very fine
1" piece of ginger grated fine
1 gentle shake of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon) - optional for heat
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsps finely chopped fresh cilantro
Plain yogurt (optional)

Preheat oven to 450.  Cut eggplant in half and place cut-side up on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 25 minutes until flesh is soft.
About halfway through eggplant cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook onions til softened.  Add cumin, garlic, and ginger and continue cooking a few more minutes.  Then add the rest of the spices and the tomatoes and continue cooking.
When you eggplant is finished, scrape the inner flesh from the purple shell (carefully, it'll be hot) and place on a cutting board.  Using a kinfe and fork, kind of chop it up and then add it into the pan with the onion mixture.  Cook about another 10 minutes to blend the flavors all together.  Add cilantro and yogurt if desired.
Serve with nice or nan.

It's a great vegetarian dish and something to mix up your normal rotation of dinner options at home.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Love Story

I saw this little love post floating around the blog world and thought I'd participate.

1. How long have you and your significant other been together?

We met and started dating 10 years ago.

The early years...

2. How did you meet? {What's your "love" story?}

Haha, Greg and I met online in a Yahoo chatroom.  Old school!  We cahtted a bit and then emailed each other a few times before setting up a date.  The first time we met in person was in Arlington, VA at the Ballston Mall.  We walked to a Mongolian BBQ restaurant nearby and then finished the evening at a nearby bar called carpool.  There was an immediate spark :)
3. If married, how long have you been married?

We got married in May of 2006, so almost 6 years ago! 

4. If you are married, where did you get married at? Big or small wedding? We got married in Hilton Head at my parents' plantation on the balcony at the clubhouse with the reception inside the clubhouse.  It was pretty small- 54 people.

5. Do you have any nick-names that you call one another? Do share!

We both call each other "Babe".

6. Name 3 things you love most about your honey.

He is very patient, which is the opposite of me.
He is very kind/nice to people, even people he doesn't like (usually they can't tell he doesn't like them, because he's so nice).
He's very smart.  Very math and science oriented and mechanical.  He understands how things work.  I'm not like this, so I really admire that.

7. Tell us how he proposed?

Ha!  As mentioned recently in my Greenville trip post, Greg was going to propose to me in a beautiful park.  The plan was foiled when I came home from work the day before to find my seemingly lazy husband playing Playstation with a pile of dishes in the sink.  Frustrated that he left the house such a mess an argument ensued and it was one of those arguments that dredged up other issues, one of which being that I was kind of tired of waiting for him to propose to me, since we'd been looking a rings for a while, and I was starting to feel like he was never going to actually propose.  Once that was brought up, he produced the ring and told me he was planning on proposing that weekend, but would just do then.  Thus setting the tone for "romance" in our relationship forever...hehe.

8. Is he a flowers and teddy bear kind of guy for v-day, or strawberries, champagne, and rose petals?

Greg is really good with gifts on holidays.  For past Valentine's Days, he's given me a road bike, calla lillies (our wedding flower), cupcakes sent from our local cupcake place when he was away, flowers, chocolate, Bath and Body Works stuff...  He's good.

9. Are you a sunset dinner on the beach kind of girl, or pop a movie in and relax on the couch?

I'm both.

10. Tell us one thing you'd like to do with your significant one day. If you could do anything? Go anywhere?

Go to Europe together. 

11. Tell us what you plan on doing on this Valentine's Day.

We actually already celebrated this weekend, since it worked better with our schedules.  We went to Pewter Rose Bistro, where I had pork tenderloin with mac and cheese and asparagus.

12. Are you asking for anything this Valentine's day?

I asked Greg to get my tires rotated for me!  He did it yesterday.  He also got me flowers and a gift card this year.

13. Give us one piece of advice of keeping a relationship strong and full of love.

Have trust.  Especially if your are a pilot's wife.  Be kind to each other.  Try to do things to keep the romance alive, like go on dates, trips, and do thoughtful things for each other. 

14. Show us a picture of what love means to you.

I like this one, which is kind of an outtake from our wedding, where everyone else is posed and ready for the camera and Greg and I are in our own little world talking about who knows what :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Songs to Make You Smile

I went on a quick run tonight for the first time in about a week and a half and covered about 2 miles.  I've had that crappy cold lingering so running with a wad of phlegm in your throat doesn't exactly feel that great (TMI, sorry!) and I've been mostly walking at tonight instead of running.  I didn't wear my Garmin, but I could just tell my pace was pretty slow, which is ok.  Getting started was kind of rough, but eventually I got in to the groove and part of my groove was definitely due to my playlist.  A couple happy songs came on and I realized they were really making a difference in making my run a good one. 

I thought I'd share a list of songs that pretty much always get my smiling and are great for a run, a car ride on a sunny day, or if you just need a pick me up.

Click to enlarge

Do you have any songs that are guaranteed to make you smile?

With that, the rest of my evening involved tacos, heavy on the guac....

And I'm about to go do some snuggling with Clyde while catching up on Glee.

Hiope you guys have a great night!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Day Trip To Greenville, SC

Hello friends!  Well, here we the beginning of another week and unfortunately I don't feel like I accomplished a whole lot this weekend.  I've had this lingering cold and it seems like every few days it really kicks my butt and I end up in pajamas with a box of kleenex, glass of OJ, and a dachshund in my lap...  Cozy, but kind of useless...

Anyway, I thought I'd share a small day trip we took (before we went to Punta Cana) to Greenville, SC.  Us and Greenville go way back.  Greg used to overnight there fairly often when he worked for the Regional airlines.  He liked it so much, that when he decided to propose to me, he was planning on taking me there to ask me to marry him.  Well, that didn't really work out for the proposal.  It's a long story that involves an argument over Playstation, dishes, and ended with a ring, but basically he asked me the night before we went to Greenville, instead of there!  In any case, we did go there the weekend we got engaged and both love the little city.

Me circa 2005 with my new engagement ring (which was on my middle finger til I got it sized).

Greenville is about a 2 hour drive from Charlotte.  We hopped in the car late morning, and got there around lunchtime.  We picked Smoke on the Water as our lunch spot.  Mainly, because we were starving and it was one of the first places we saw.  I liked that they had homemade BBQ sauces at the tables in these cool glass bottles.

Starving, we did something uncharacteristic for us, we got an appetizer.  Greg wanted to the pimento cheese.

It came with celery and seasoned toast.  It hit the spot!

We were unaware that the restaurant also served housemade cornbread though.  We ended up taking this home, and I think Greg ate it later.

For lunch I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. 
I wanted something I could try the BBQ sauce on.  I got seasonal veggies on the side.

Everything was very tasty!

After lunch we quickly browsed a couple nearby shops, then headed to car to get a peacefully resting Clyde  and head over to Falls Park on Reedy, the park where my proposal was supposed to happen.

Clyde loved running all over the park.

He's such a little monkey!

The park is gorgeous.  Pictures don't really do it justice, and it looked draber than normal on this chilly winter day.  There's a pretty waterfall with a suspension bridge over it in the middle of the park.

It's cool because it backs right up to downtown and to Furman University.

We walked over the suspension bridge.

On the other side, some geese came over to us.  I think they thought we had food ;)

We wandered out of the park and into downtown, doing some windown shopping.  We found a little pet store that we could bring Clyde into, and went in there.

It was a little chilly, so we decided to look for hot chocolate.  We found a little shop.

It turned out they didn't have normal hot chocolate, they had "sipping chocolate", which is basically real melted chocolate that they give you in a smaller cup because it's so rich.

After getting our sipping chocolate we walked a little more.  Greenville has these little brass mice throughout the city, so we looked for some.

I think we only saw about three...

On the way out, we saw the ice rink set up and watched for a little bit.

We had a great day in Greenville.  It will always be special to us since we had our engagement weekend there.  Back when we moved from Virginia to Charlotte, we talked about moving to Greenville too.  The problem is that the airport there is so much smaller, which makes commuting for Greg even harder, and I didn't have an opportunity to transfer with my job to Greenville, like I did to Charlotte.  At least it's a pretty short drive for a visit! 

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