So this is REALLY overdue but I wanted to share some photos from our housewarming celebration in November! We had a lovely, small gathering of about 12 friends for brunch on a Sunday. It was really an awesome day! I never entertained more than about 2 – 4 people at a time at my old apartment. It was really small and the kitchen was rough for cooking large meals. With the new apartment being bigger (with a super boss kitchen) I couldn’t wait to get a bigger group together for an afternoon of eating, drinking, football watching, and chatting 🙂
Let’s talk about the most important part though… the food! I wanted to make a “fall inspired salad” so I went hunting around the internet. Interestingly enough, I found this great recipe on the Weight Watchers website. I made several tweaks but used their recipe as my base. I splurged a little and bought pre-cut butternut squash because there are few things that are MORE worth it. Butternut squash is delicious but it is like the demon vegetable. I have almost sliced off a finger, stabbed my cat, and broken up with Mike while attempting to cut / peel a butternut squash. Pre-cut is the way to go! I roasted it in the oven with a ton of rosemary and some olive oil and salt.
I added some additional vegetables to the salad because we had them on hand and I love salads that are loaded with lots of veggies. I included cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and cucumber. Fig spent the majority of the morning in the sink. I’m not really sure why, he’s totally fascinated with the sink. How cute does he look here???
The dressing in the recipe called for apricot preserves but I decided against them. I had to buy a whole jar of something, might as well make it something we’ll actually use (apricot preserves… seriously? bleh) TJ’s honey apple butter had a similar sweet / fruity taste, and it’s delicious on toast with peanut butter or stirred into oatmeal. I had to add a lot more apple butter and rice vinegar to the recipe to make enough dressing for all the shallots in there. Instead of adding walnuts, I used a pre-mixed bag of rosemary seasoned pecans and cranberries. Kept with the theme of the salad very well and it was WAY cheaper than buying a bag of walnuts.
All mixed up and ready to go w/ dressing on the side!
I also wanted to include some kind of egg dish because, to me, brunch is not complete without eggs. I decided on a veggie egg casserole. I used this recipe for inspiration. but made some changes. I used TJ’s mini sweet peppers, vidalia onion, a bad of frozen broccoli, and a bag of frozen spinach.
I also added a couple sweet basil pesto chicken sausages we had in the refrigerator.
And OF course a healthy serving of cheese on top! This recipe was a huge success. I used a TON of eggs (like 18 eggs) but it was a super easy way to make eggs for a big group.
Anddd at Mike’s request we also served TJ’s pumpkin pancakes. This mix is so good… we are stockpiling it like it’s the freaking apocalypse. I think we currently have 3 boxes of it. Making pancakes for this many people was definitely hard, but Mike was a master pancake flipper.
Perhaps my favorite part of the day was that I FINALLY got a chance to use my Grandmother’s china. I have had for the past 2.5 years and I have never used it. It just sits in my china cabinet! I was thrilled to have an opportunity to use it.
Then it came time to set up the drink bar! We served bloody marys and mimosas, which ended up looking great! Plus, we got to use all this stuff we never use… like pitchers and an ice bucket! I should totally use pitchers more… they rock. We made the bloodys make-you-0wn style so people could control the heat. Mike basically dumped half a bottle of hot sauce in his 🙂
Food was served buffet style, which was perfect! We all just sat around eating, drinking… and well… being merry! My friend Haley was kind enough to bring Cake Love cupcakes which were a HUGE hit.
I loved having the chance to have friends at our house! When can we do it again??
I’ve been trying really hard to keep within my “no more than three meals out” per week stipulation in Operation Spend Less Money, knowing full well it was probably going to be the hardest one. I like to cook and usually bring my lunch to work, but sometimes I get busy or it’s just easier to go out. And on the weekend, there are few things I love more than going out to brunch. After running on Saturday or after a lazy Sunday morning, brunch is THE BEST. So this weekend, I set out to make a delicious brunch at home. For me brunch does not mean pancakes or waffles or anything sweet. It means eggs. I love eggs and brunch feels incomplete without them. Plus, I spend all week eating yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast at my desk, so come the weekend I’m looking for delicious, savory eggs. While cooking up brunch, I brewed up a batch of my favorite “coffeehouse coffee” with cinnamon and ginger. To give it a mocha-ish feel, I added 1% chocolate milk to my coffee… which was the bomb.
While sipping on my coffee, I dug through my refrigerator and cabinets to pull together the ingredients for a delicious Mexican inspired breakfast quesadilla. Ingredients included: eggs, tortilla, sliced cheese, diced tomatoes, corn, and refried black beans.
In the pan I fried up two eggs and melted the cheese. I always leave my eggs slightly on the running side, because that is how I like them 🙂
When it all came together, my only regret is that I had a bigger tortilla because this baby got MESSY! But it was truly and completely delicious.
Cutting this thing in half was no small task let me tell you. I ended up serving it with a sliced half a banana and apple, which complemented it perfectly. I wish I had some potatoes, peppers, and onions but perhaps next time. I’ll admit, it’s not exactly the same as going out to brunch, but it was a really good alternative. I can’t say I’ll never go out to brunch again… but at least now I think I can make it more of a once in a while thing 🙂
Trying to keep fresh produce in the house can sometimes be a delicate balance. I try to predict how many meals I’m going to cook in a given week and pre-plan them so I am not just buying produce on a whim. This is especially important when I get my produce delivery, because if I’m not careful in preplanning I will end up with a lot of spoiled produce and that makes me sad. It’s wasteful on many levels. However, sometimes I end up with my back against the wall so to speak with my produce. I found myself in such a situation this week. My best friend Sarah came in to town from Philadelphia in preparation of a four day girls weekend in North Carolina with my parents. I had produce that was just about to go bad, and I needed to use it all up ASAP. My go-to solution when I need to dump a lot of produce into one dish is a frittata. They’re not only delicious, but they’re also healthy, and you can load them up with any veggies and herbs you want. For our dinner I decided to make a broccoli, vidalia onion, and sharp white cheddar cheese frittata.
I had to buy eggs for my macaroni and cheese recipe, so I had plenty of those on hand! The process for making a frittata is ridiculously easy and you can substitute absolutely any produce you desire. Start by pre-heating your oven to the broil setting (my oven is basically ancient so it says it has a “broil” setting but I think it’s really just a super hot oven. If you don’t have a broiler… don’t sweat it. A hot oven will do you just fine). I like to chop my produce up into relatively small pieces because it makes the frittata a little more congruent in the end.
I coated a medium sized skillet (you can use larger if you prefer) with SmartBalance Omega spray and sauteed the broccoli and onions for about 5 minutes.
I added the eggs and cooked it covered for about another 5 – 7 minutes (this process is not at all exact so just check it often. You want the egg to start firming up but not be completely cooked. You’re better off using a low heat over a longer period of time).
I topped it with cheese and cooked covered for about another 2 minutes.
Cover the handle of your pan in aluminum foil for your own safety and pop it uncovered into the oven. Let it broil for maybe 5 minutes, just until the edges and topget slightly browned. You want it to be kind of crispy on top.
I served it with a large sweet potato that I microwaved for about 8 minutes.
So I got a bunch of arugula in my produce delivery last week and I was really excited about it because I LOVE arugula. It smells so good and as far as lettuces go it has the most interesting taste to me. I think my favorite salad would be an arugula salad with strawberries, pecans or walnuts, and goat cheese… AMAZING. Problem was that I got my produce delivery on Friday and then promptly peaced out to Pittsburgh for the weekend with my friends. I was in a rush to leave so I just threw everything into the refrigerator and ran out the door. By the time I got back, my arugula was really wilted. It hadn’t gone bad, but it definitely wasn’t going to stand up in a salad. Then I tried to think of things that I cook using arugula, and I was totally stumped. I’ve never had it cooked before!
When I was deciding what to make for dinner for Mike and I last night, I stumbled upon this amazing recipe from The Kitchn for Egg, Arugula, and Herb Tartines . When I told Mike what I planned to make he asked the obvious question… what is a tartine? Don’t be alarmed, it’s just a fancy word for open faced sandwich. I used extra chives because I had them leftover from my chive / squash pancakes, and I did not use butter to cook the arugula / herbs. I used some SmartBalance spray to coat the pan and that was all. I used toasted sunflower honey bread from Harris Teeter which is DELICIOUS. Any good quality, hearty bread will do though!
To complement the egg tartines, I thought I would make a potato dish to make it a classy version of eggs and homefries for dinner. I had several sweet potatoes and a bunch of fresh spinach also from my produce delivery, so I decided to make a skillet potato dish inspired by a favorite Indian recipe Saag Aloo. I was going to make oven roasted sweet potatoes but those take an hour to cook, it was getting late, and we were getting hungry. Saag Aloo is delicious but it is often made with cream or coconut milk. I decided to make a slightly healthier version and let the veggies in the dish stand on their own. I had never tried it before with sweet potatoes (I’ve always used red potatoes) so it was kind of a gamble. I diced up a few sweet potatoes and cooked them with just a little olive oil. Add the spinach, continue to cook, and finally finish with some amazing Indian spices. I used Curry Powder, Coriander, and Cumin… it smells AMAZING.
Plated up and ready to eat!
Tehehe Mike and Fig can’t stay away when I’m cooking 🙂