Warm Quinoa Salad

Here's an easy quinoa dish for you today that's perfect for the summer bounty of veggies. What I really love about it is it can be catered to whatever's in your fridge and whatever your tastes might be. I linked to the inspiration below and if you follow it you'll notice that I changed it up quite a bit. The blog it's featured on made the quinoa salad as a cool/room temp dish but I thought a warm quinoa salad would deliver a more comforting bite.

Inspiration from this market quinoa salad

Here's what I did
   While 1 cup quinoa cooked in 2 cups chicken stock
   Prepare balsamic vinaigrette: whisk together 2 tbsp evoo, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp dijon, salt and pepper, juice of a lemon
   Saute 1 diced onion, 1 diced red pepper, and 1 zucchini. Add cherry tomatoes near the end.
To cooked quinoa add a handful or two of spinach and balsamic vinaigrette then follow with diced mozzarella and sauteed veggies.

Bagel Spread

A few weeks ago we had out of town guests staying with us. I usually dabble around with weekend breakfast offerings when we have guests. I typically make muffins but I wanted to try something different this time!

I decided on a bagel spread!

For a savory option: smoked salmon, tomatoes, red onions, capers, and cream cheese
For a sweet option: variety of jams (apple butter, strawberry jelly, apricot jam, fig butter) and cream cheese

Fortunately our guests didn't mind that I couldn't properly toast bagels.

Despite my bagel toasting misgivings I really enjoyed the bagel spread which gave everyone a nice variety to choose from!

Bok Choy Salad

We most commonly use bok choy in stir fries, where we will saute the chopped stalk with all the other veggies and then thrown in the greens at the end to wilt. This recipe used it differently, with the leaves used as salad greens and the raw stalk chopped up and tossed in the salad. The dressing seems like a really odd combination of ingredients, but it was surprisingly quite delicious (although you can never go wrong with peanut butter as far as I'm concerned). I'm glad we found a new way to use bok choy and look forward to having this again!

Bok Choy and Pineapple Salad from the chow  
Serves 8 (we halved)

For the dressing
1/4 cup natural smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 medium limes)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce (we substituted miso sauce)
1 medium garlic clove, smashed
1 teaspoon chile-garlic paste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
   For the salad
2 pounds baby bok choy
2 1/2 cups fresh small-dice pineapple (from about 1/2 medium pineapple)
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 medium English cucumber, quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
*We added some shredded rotisserie chicken to the salad

For the dressing
   Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a blender and blend on high until smooth. With the motor running, slowly stream in the oil until it is fully incorporated; set the dressing aside in the blender.
For the salad
   Cut the bok choy in half lengthwise, rinse it, and dry it. Cut the leaves crosswise into 1-inch-wide ribbons, cut the stalks crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces, and transfer both to a large bowl.
   Add the remaining ingredients, drizzle with the dressing, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Meal Plan Monday Post

Hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day weekend. Patrick and I went up to the lake for a night. Some family came up Saturday so it was nice having dinner outdoors together. It was a wonderful feast! And then we came back Sunday for another feast - the neighbors were hosting a Memorial Day cookout.

Meal Plan for Monday May 18 - Sunday May 24

Monday - Summer orzo salad

Tuesday - Met some friends at Brixx (impromptu invitation)
Wednesday - Ginger beef and mushroom stir fry with brown rice

Thursday - Beets and pasta throw together with CSA goodies and things we needed to use in pantry / fridge

Friday - Scallops and mixed greens salad
Saturday - Cookout at the lake

Sunday - Neighbors hosted a cookout

Saturday sunset while driving home from Lake Gaston

Bros Brunch II

At the end of April we hosted another Bros Brunch during Duke's Alumni Weekend which made the affair officially the second annual Bros Brunch. Patrick's fraternity brothers that were celebrating their 5 year reunion returned for the festivities.

I wasn't quite sure how many folks would be coming over for brunch so there's quite a large spread. The food menu from last year was a great reference and I did the drinks bar the exact same as the first Bros Brunch.

Here's a rundown of the Bros Bunch buffet!

Shrimp cocktail and Mini Quiches
[Hors doeuvres to greet guests when they arrived]

Buffet spread at a glance

Blueberry Muffins & Ham Rolls | Potato Gratin & Breakfast Casserole

Cheese Quiche, Cinnamon Rolls, & Bacon

Bloody Mary bar, Mimosas, and Fruit

I did most of the prep the day before and had everything organized in this bros brunch google spreadsheet which has the recipes. We look forward to more Bros Brunches!

Scallops and Grits

I had never heard of grits until I moved to North Carolina, and once I had, the name and appearance suggested that it might just be wet sand and I did not try to eat any for many years. For any other Yankees out there, grits are ground corn cooked into a porridge, traditionally eaten at breakfast. It can be served plain, with cheese, or dressed up, most often as shrimp and grits.

Ultimately I did come around to grits and have enjoyed keeping a box in the pantry. Whitney will prepare a grits dish for breakfast every now and then, most often with a fried egg and whatever assortment of vegetables we have on hand (especially avocado, tomato, green onion), cheese, and for a special treat, bacon (like this one). Sometimes though we will feature grits in a dinner entree, such as with this shrimp and grits recipe, or the scallops and grits featured today.

There's no real surprises here; it's pretty much shrimp and grits, with the shrimp replaced with seared scallops that we love so much. We followed a recipe from The Chew that included parmesan, mascarpone, and yellow onions, and it turned out great! We served it with a kale salad.

Scallops and Grits from ABC's The Chew
   For Grits
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups polenta (we substituted quick cooking grits)
1/4 cup Mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
   For Scallops
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds nantucket bay scallops (cleaned) (we substituted sea scallops)
1/2 lemon, juiced

To make the Polenta: In a 4-quart saucepan add the stock and bring to a simmer. Season the stock with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly add the polenta while whisking and reduce the heat to low. Cook over low heat for 2 hours, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mascarpone, Parmesan and 4 tablespoons butter. Season to taste with salt.

When Ready to Serve: Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and sweat until translucent and aromatic, 5 minutes. Blot the scallops dry on paper towels then season with salt. Add the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter to the pan and cook it until it starts to become brown, bubbly and nutty smelling. Add the seasoned scallops and cook until just barely cooked through and light golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir in the parsley.

To Serve: Spoon some polenta into a bowl, top with some bay scallops and a drizzle of brown butter.

Chard Rice and Beans

I was particularly excited about making this dish until I was in the kitchen and realized my grave error. This recipe calls for orzo and I assumed this usual pantry staple would be hanging out in our pantry. But no! It had been used and not replaced. So I had a small panic attack figuring out which grain / pasta would be the best substitute - whole wheat penne, brown rice, couscous, or quinoa. Ultimately I decided on brown rice and this turned into an interesting spin on rice and beans. I think we were both pleasantly surprised.

Swiss Chard with Orzo, Cannelini Beans and Pancetta from kitchenconfidante.com
Serves 4-6
1 c orzo [feel free to substitute brown rice; I used a family size boil in a bag]
1 tbsp olive oil
6 oz diced pancetta
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large bunches Swiss chard, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 15 oz can cannelini beans [rinsed]
2 tbsp chicken broth

Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook the orzo for about 9 minutes, or until al dente [or cook rice according to package directions]. Drain and set aside.

In a deep sided saute pan or medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium-heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the pancetta and cook until crispy. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the Swiss chard, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the Swiss chard, stirring periodically, until it begins to wilt. Add the cooked orzo, cannelini beans, and chicken broth, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with parmesan cheese, and serve immediately.

Strawberry Crepes

Patrick and I expanding our crepe repertoire! Patrick decided crepes would be a great brunch option one weekend without any prior forethought. Looking through the fridge I saw some strawberries and mascarpone cheese (which is a lighter cream cheese). So I knew we could whip up strawberry crepes!

For the filling we mixed sliced strawberries with balsamic vinegar and mascarpone. The strawberry filling was then wrapped in the crepe and dolloped on top.

We served the strawberry crepes with a side spinach salad and an orange.

Meal Plan Monday Post

When I shared our first meal plan in May I mentioned that the month started with a bang and it isn't letting up! Before we know it we'll be wondering where it went and trying to slow down for June. Despite a seemingly free schedule at the beginning of a week, things just pop up and all our nights are full before we know it!

We did takeout two nights this week which is very unusual for us. On Thursday we attended an informal seminar after Patrick's work and when we got home after 7pm we were just really tired. Unfortunately everything on the meal plan (for that night and subsequent nights if I had wanted to switch) was a bit too intensive on the prep and cooking time. Then over the weekend we had a day trip get cancelled so that meant throwing together all the meals for that day! We managed to rummage through the fridge and pantry for breakfast and lunch but had to call in some assistance for dinner. We also worked in the yard all afternoon doing some back-breaking work and earned our pizza!

We'll challenge ourselves not to do any restaurants this coming week! Without further ado here's our week:

Meal Plan for Monday May 11 - Sunday May 17

Monday - Dijon salmon, mac-n-cheese, steamed broccoli

Tuesday - Creamy fettuccine with brussels and mushrooms

Wednesday - Turkey zucchini meatballs, black rice
Thursday - Chinese takeout
Friday - Beet risotto with chard and brie

Saturday - Brunch at Parker and OtisPippin at DPAC
Dinner Leftover risotto
Sunday - Breakfast Cheesy grits with eggs, salsa, and avocado
Lunch Mixed greens salad with pear, brie, and almonds; pimento cheese crackers on the side
Dinner Pizza takeout

Gifts We're Lovin' - Pie Crust Bag and Butter Warmer

It probably won't surprise you that one of the most frequent categories of gifts that Whitney and I give to each other is kitchen tools (so much so that it's about time for another round of kitchen de-cluttering!). This post will highlight two such recent gifts that we've been enjoying.

The first one is a pie crust bag. When Whitney said she was interested in this I had no idea what it was, but when I found out I figured it would be pretty useful. Rolling out pie crust can be fairly annoying with it sticking to the counter or rolling pin and constantly checking whether it's big enough and is in a proper circle. With the pie crust bag you roll the dough inside a bag zipped together from two circles, which solves the sticking issue, and the edges of the bag give a clear guide for how to roll the dough. We've found it to be very helpful with our recent pies and quiches. Here are some step-by-step photos from a crust Whitney made:

The second gift is a butter warmer. We keep our microwave in the garage since we don't use it very often and want to save the kitchen counter space for cherished items like our toaster oven. One thing we use the microwave for is to melt butter, which can be somewhat challenging; it either doesn't melt, or if you slightly overdo it, it foams up and makes a mess. The butter warmer is a small vessel that can be placed on the stovetop to melt butter or warm anything else, and it allows us to stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on it, and then conveniently pour it as soon as it's ready. Here it is in action!

Spring Rolls

We've tried spring rolls a few times now and Patrick really likes them. To me, they're not quite worth the effort and usually turn out a bit sloppy. But I know my husband likes them and I do my best to keep him happy! So this meal was exactly that - one I knew Patrick would like. I served avocado shrimp spring rolls with a veggie stir fry.

Inspiration from Avocado Shrimp Spring Rolls from whatsgabycooking.com
Yield 6 rolls

Rice paper for rolling [recently we've been using these brown rice spring roll wrappers]
1 large carrot, thin julienne cuts
3 scallions, thinly sliced
fresh mint and fresh cilantro [omitted]
1 avocados
1/4 pound fresh shrimp, cooked and sliced
Bunch of spinach
For the sauce
2 tbsp miso
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sriracha
1/2 tsp sesame oil

For the Avocado Shrimp Spring Rolls
Soak one spring roll paper at a time, for about 30-45 seconds in a shallow bowl of water. Once fully soaked, place the spring roll paper onto a clean cutting board. They should be pliable when you take them out of the water and then become soft once they are on the cutting board. If they don't quite get flexible enough to roll, dip them in some more water.

Place the fillings in the bottom third of the wrapper. I used about 2 tablespoons of the rice noodles, a few cuts of carrots, 1 teaspoon sliced scallions, a pinch of fresh mint and basil, 2 avocado slices, 2 pieces of shrimp and a piece of butter lettuce per roll.

Fold the wrapped over the filling and start rolling everything into a roll. About halfway through the roll, stop and fold in the sides. Then continue to finish rolling until you have a tight roll. Transfer the finished roll to a clean plate and drape with a damp towel while you assemble and roll the remaining spring rolls. Once all of the spring rolls are assembled, serve immediately.

For the sauce
Combine all of the ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk together. Taste and add more soy sauce if you want it a bit saltier. Set the sauce aside until ready to serve.

The veggie stir fry was very basic - heated the wok, added some peanut oil, and then threw in veggies in order that I thought would take the longest to cook. Here's my veggie prep:

Carrots, red peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, jalapeno, garlic, and ginger.

While the veggies were in the wok I boiled soba noodles and then added them to the wok with some sesame sauce.

Throw together crab pasta

This throw together recipe is almost too easy to share but I think it's a great way to showcase how you can really make "throw together pasta" with random things in the pantry / freezer slightly more glamorous than it sounds.

I love imitation crab meat and I am fully aware that this is a bit odd (and I'll be honest - this is probably the real reason I didn't want to put this post together because you'll think I'm weird). If you're not familiar with the stuff, I buy something that looks similar to this:

Anyway it's something I pick up every now and then to have on hand which is what happened on this particular occasion. There was a bit of a transitional period for meal planning when the CSA started back. This was throwing me off my weekly meal planning a bit and I knew when I was at the grocery store one day that I had a few days at the end of the week I wasn't sure what we'd have yet. So I picked up the crab meat and then a few days later realized we could make a homemade alfredo sauce, there were peas in the freezer, and then were onions and garlic in the pantry waiting to be sauteed and all served with some whole wheat spaghetti!

Skinny Fettucine Alfredo from gimme some oven
Serves 4

12 ounces fettuccine (or any pasta shape)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup low-fat milk (I used 1%)
3/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, in generously salted water.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine. Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.
Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melted. Reduce heat to medium-low until pasta reaches al dente.
Drain pasta, then immediately add pasta to the saute pan with alfredo sauce. Toss to combine. Serve topped with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

While the sauce was being made, water was being boiled for the pasta. Then in a saute pan over medium heat with a little extra virgin olive oil, we sauteed a diced onion and added garlic after the onion had softened. When the pasta had 2-3 minutes left we added in the peas. Finally everything was tossed together with the sauce!

Oatmeal pancakes

My mom was in town recently and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try this oatmeal pancake. She's been interested in our overnight oatmeal but claims to not be a fan of oatmeal. Oats have lots of benefits - they're whole grains so they're great sources of fiber, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins which means they can lower your cholesterol, help maintain weight, and not lead to spikes in blood sugar. Just because you don't like oatmeal doesn't mean you can't enjoy oats!

We topped our oatmeal pancakes with freshly sliced strawberries and had an orange with breakfast too.  The recipe provides some optional stir-ins which we may try next time. They came together fairly quickly and were quite delicious!

Quaker Oats' Favorite Oatmeal Pancakes
Makes 12 4" pancakes

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups old-fashioned or quick Oats, uncooked
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt, optional
1-1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Optional stir-ins
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
1 medium-size ripe banana, mashed, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup finely chopped apple, 1/4 cup chopped nuts and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt; mix well. In medium bowl, combine milk, egg and oil; blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not overmix) Add one of the stir-in options, if desired; mix gently. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease skillet. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter into hot skillet. Turn when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Turn only once.

Do you eat oats in other ways besides oatmeal??

Meal Plan Monday Post

Well May started with a bang and it's continuing to fly by! I imagine it'll be June before we slow down. We had a few splurges this week - dinner and a movie date night plus visiting Patrick's family so more eating out meals than normal. But this is why some weeks we cook every meal so these special times are that much more special.

Meal Plan for Monday May 4 - Sunday May 10
Monday - Throw together pasta with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella

Tuesday - Dinner [CPK] & a Movie [Furious 7]
Wednesday - Junior League meeting with catered dinner
Thursday - Steak salad with sauteed veggies
Friday thru Sunday - in Chicago

I did my first Wine & Design this week! Check it out:

20th Month Anniversary Dinner

Popping in with an extra blog post today! Today Patrick and I celebrate our 21st month anniversary. We haven't been celebrating every month after we passed the one year mark but we are still trying to honor the special day and, if it's not a crazy week, we'll have dinner on our fine china.

Last month we decided it would be appropriate for a fine china dinner, put the kitties in the room with their litter box so they wouldn't break anything, and fixed a delicious salmon dish with a mini carrot cake for dessert. We toasted at our new dining room table with our last bottle of honeymoon wine!

We served a salmon with apple and kale salad that was a Food Network recipe and the mini carrot cake from the Dessert for Two blog. The Viognier wine was from the Veritas Vineyard & Winery outside Charlottesville. I put the recipes into a google document and you can view it here.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Kale Apple Salad from Food Network
2 salmon fillets (about 1” thick)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves very thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
2 tbsp dates
½ of a Honeycrisp apple
2 tbsp finely grated pecorino
2 tbsp toasted slivered almonds
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring the salmon to room temperature 10 minutes before cooking.
Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the kale, toss to coat and let stand 10 minutes.
While the kale stands, cut the dates into thin slivers and the apple into matchsticks. Add the dates, apples, cheese and almonds to the kale. Season with pepper, toss well and set aside.
Sprinkle the salmon all over with 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Raise the heat to medium-high. Place the salmon, skin-side up in the pan. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn the fish over with a spatula, and cook until it feels firm to the touch, about 3 minutes more.
Divide the salmon and salad evenly among four plates.

Carrot Cake from Dessert for Two Yields 1 6" cake
IngredientsFor the Cake
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup packed grated carrot (from 1 small carrot)
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup chopped walnuts

For the Frosting
3 ounce block of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Grease a 6” round cake pan with shortening or cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350°.
In a medium bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the canola oil and sugar. Beat very well, about 1 minute.
Add the egg, cinnamon and vanilla and beat another 30 seconds. Beat in the carrot for about 15 seconds--you want it to break up a bit so it stains the batter orange. Sprinkle the flour and baking powder on top and beat until just combined. Do not overmix. You may stir in the walnuts at this point or save them for the frosting, your choice.
Pour the batter into the pan, place it on a baking sheet, and bake for 24-26 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick before removing from the oven--moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick is ideal.
Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before attempting to frost it.
To make the frosting, ensure all ingredients are room temperature or you will end up with lumps. Beat together everything with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Tip the cake out of the pan, place it on a serving plate upside down (so that you have a flat surface on top) and spread the frosting on the cake. Garnish with walnuts. This cake tastes even better if allowed to sit one day (in the fridge) before serving.

New Corningware

In an effort to reduce our plastic tupperware usage we purchased this Corningware oversize mug set with covers. I read this Mother Jones article ("The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics") about BPA-free plastic and did some follow-up googling / research about it. This gist of what I learned is that companies aren't revealing what they've replaced the BPA with in their plastics now so really the substitute for BPA could be just as bad or worse than BPA.

A few years ago Patrick and I tossed all our mismatched leftover containers and purchased one of those sets where all the containers nest and the lids snap together. It was amazing. Well now a few years later those plastic containers are really starting to degrade with cracks.

The wear and tear on the plastic containers coupled with the fear of the unknown in plastics made it a good time to invest in ceramic leftover options. This Corningware oversized mug set fit the bill! They are 2 cup sizes which is perfect for our leftovers.

We're slowly working on ridding the kitchen of plastic. One big change we've made is using mason jars for smoothies. Aside from leftovers the plastic tupperware containers are also used for freezing chicken stock. I'm working on figuring this out. So like I just said - it'll be a slow change to become plastics free but we'll get there eventually.

Shrimp and Grits

We've had shrimp and grits a few times since our initial attempt and it is always a delicious success. It's pretty hard to go wrong when there's bacon involved, but the creamy grits and assortment of complementary vegetables all come together to make a hearty comfort food. I especially liked the fresh tomatoes that we added this time around; the light acidity nicely balances the savoriness of the bacon, mushrooms, and grits.

Here's what we did!
Cook quick grits in chicken stock.
Cook bacon and remove from pan. Saute mushrooms and onions in bacon grease until close to done. Add garlic and shrimp and cook until shrimp is done.
Serve grits in bowl and top with cooked ingredients, fresh tomatoes, and green onions.

Blood Orange

We tried a blood orange! Patrick wasn't quite sure what to think of this citrus fruit. The blood orange looks quite similar to a regular navel orange. There was some darker markings on the rind though.

But then we sliced it and said "whoa!"

The blood oranges were purchased as a substitute for grapefruits to make Clinton Kelly's "Fantasy Sweet" cocktail for The Bachelor Season Finale. If you're interested in making this Fantasy Sweet cocktail for the upcoming Bachelorette season (premieres Mon May 18), here you go!

THE FANTASY SWEET from ABC's The Chew & Clinton Kelly
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 grapefruit segment
2 blackberries
1 sprig mint
1/2 ounce simple syrup
ice (to serve)
champagne (to top)

In the bottom of a rocks glass, add the vodka, grapefruit segment, blackberries and mint. Muddle until incorporated. Add the simple syrup and stir. Fill the glass with ice and top with champagne.

Melina's Fresh Pasta

Last year for Patrick's birthday I surprised him with a pasta making class hosted by Melina from Melina's Fresh Pasta. If you're local and interested in pasta making we loved the class and would highly recommend it - here's the post we shared about it (mentioned towards the end)!

Melina's Fresh Pasta products can typically be found throughout the area at local farmers markets, through some of the co-ops, and a few of the local food home delivery companies. The past few months we've been giving Papa Spud's a try which is one of the local food home delivery companies that supplies Melina's Fresh Pasta. There was a groupon to try Papa Spud's and I thought it would be a great way to bridge the gap from the end of our CSA season to when it began. Now that our CSA has started back I'm not sure if we'll be double dipping into the various produce box programs ... but I digress, back to Melina's!

The other week when I was completing our Papa Spud's requests I thought it would be a great opportunity to try some ravioli from Melina's Fresh Pasta! Much to Patrick's surprise I tried a fig and gorgonzola ravioli - being adventurous! The products come frozen so we had the option to toss it into the freezer and save it for a "rainy" day when everything was falling apart and we needed a quick kitchen meal.

Well that rainy day came much sooner than we expected! We prepared the ravioli the same week it arrived. I think we were just drained from a busy weekend and start to the week and just needed an easy meal! We served the ravioli on top of spinach so it would wilt a bit and drizzled the plate with a little evoo and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese!

So good, so easy! We may need some more Melina's Fresh Pasta on hand to save us from those "rainy" days!