Tuesday, August 24, 2010

a GRAVES good time in North Carolina :)

It never fails when I go home to Tampa for Breaks my family gets together with close family friends and eat! Sometimes its for special occasions like Birthday parties or Graduation parties.
But most of the time
its just a time to get together, eat,and entertain. The Graves live in a hand-built log home in Tampa. It is beautiful and a great place to entertain. They have a living tree that runs through their living room! The Graves and my family are tied at the hip - We truly are the same family!

We recently went to North Carolina for the second year in a row. We stay in a small town called Franklin and it is the perfect getaway from our stressful lives. The house we rent is tucked 30 minutes up in the Pisgah National Forest. Its a place where you can sit and relax on the front porch with a nice cold glass of lemonade, rocking away in a rocking chair.

Franklin every Saturday during the summer has a musical event called "Pickin in the Square."
Local bands play a variety of music - blues, jazz, country, classic rock, etc - local vendors sell
homemade ice cream and candy, and little kids can run around having fun. Our families act like little kids so of course we danced the night away and took part learning the art of Hula Hooping :) It was a great time and it turns out the boys were pretty good at it!

Another reason I love going to North Carolina for a vacation is the local grown produce. For some reason if you pick the blueberries and blackberries off a bush and then come
back to the house and make a homemade pie - it turns out to be the best thing you ever ate. North Carolina has the most abundant
fresh produce that is just asking to be brought back to your kitchen. Their local Wild Mountain Honey adds sweetness to any dish while their juicy tomatoes are so fresh that you can eat them like an apple. Food is much more appreciated when simple flavors and local ingredients are incorporated.

We went on some new adventures this Vacation - pontoon ride on a localLake, Trout fishing, and of course visiting waterfalls! The pontoon ride was amazing!

We rented a boat and packed an awesome lunch to enjoy while tubing and relaxing in the valley of the Pisgah Forest. The houses were so beautiful with large front porches and windows everywhere! Waterfalls a
nd dams were scattered around the HUGE lake.

When we went trout fishing it was a new experience in itself.
I am not a very big fisherwoman. I love eating fish and seafood but waiting for one to bite my line?....not my thing. But I wanted to give it a try! We ride into town and go into the local visitor center trying to find the BEST trout farm. We got back in the car and drove a couple miles to a house. The lake was the size of a swimming pool and it looked abandoned.We all looked at each other and laughed. On to the next trout farm...hoping that it isn't in someones back yard. We pull up to a really cool farm that has a little restaurant attached and sledding slides that huge inter tubes raced down.
The trout farm was a little bigger than the front yard pond we were at before, so we got fishing poles and baited up our hooks. All 10 of us threw in our poles fully baited but....nothing. 10 minutes passed....nothing. 20 minutes passed....sti
ll nothing. We were starting to give up hope because we couldn't catch 1 fish in a completely full lake.
FINALLY after 30 minutes, my boyfriend
Ryan caught one.
Then one by one everyone starting catching trout! We caught 12 total and had them cleaned and were very excited to get home and put them on the grill!

Steve put onions, salt, pepper, and olive oil in the cavity of the trout and covered it with foil. Placed the fish right on the grill and grilled the fish to perfection. We ate the perfectly tender trout out right out off the foil. We served it with cheesy grits and garden grown zucchini that was in the back of Grammy's garden. The zucchini was about a foot long in length! Steven cut it lengthwise -
seasoned it with salt and pepper and placed a thick piece of bacon on the flesh side. Just like the fish, he grilled it to perfection and it was so yummy!

I am pretty sure my passion for cooking comes from all the amazing cooks in both my family
and family friends. We see cooking and eating as a way to all come together and enjoy good food and company. Its something I will carry on with my own family!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Make List :)

So, unfortunately my computer is broken, so I can't upload any photos! But I have been cooking up a storm! Jen and I have been hosting dinner parties with all of our sisters, we are eating fantastic food for so cheap. We each take turns making an appetizer, dinner, and dessert! We make gourmet afforable food you wouldn't expect college students to make. http://collegegirladventures.blogspot.com/2010/06/great-friends-great-food.html Jen's blog is completely updated and up to date with all our dinner parties, so check it out! :)

As for me and my cooking adventures, Sophie and I each week are lowering our grocery bill. This week we bought $25 (each) worth of groceries for 2 weeks! Thats amazing! I spent more this weekend going OUT to eat then I did with 2 weeks of groceries. WOW! But we bought tons of healthy food options to make yummy meals. On monday we made an AMAZING homemade pizza with zucchini, squash, and mushrooms with a vodka sauce and mozzerella cheese! It was so good.

But tonight I am making a new dish I have never made before! I am really looking forward to it - Turkey Burgers with Zucchini and Carrots. It seems really fresh and yummy! I got the recipe off Real Simple. And if anyone knows me they know I LOVE REAL SIMPLE. Its seriously the best magazine ever. Here is the website with the recipe! http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/turkey-burgers-grated-zucchini-carrot-10000001617870/index.html

Enjoy! I will hopefully be fully bloging again soon, until then I will post the recipes I make!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fooding at Work!

Somehow I always have a craving for cooking great food at work. I browse tons of food blogs and my mouth waters while sitting at the front desk. I usually send my self about 4 emails filled with recipes for dinners!
Tonight is Girls Night In! Sophie and I will be doing nothing but sitting on the couch, eating, and watching movies allll night! :) We tend to be cuddle bugs and watch sappy chick flicks on the regular so this isn't out of the ordinary for two Best Friends/Roommates!
But, I thought the perfect thing for dinner would be Spinach Pesto Pasta with Paprika Chicken from one of my favorite blogs: http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/2010/05/spinach-pesto-pasta-with-paprika.html. Sophie is a huge fun of pesto so I think this one will be a hit!
The blog Closet Cooking, http://www.closetcooking.blogspot.com/, is really good at making my mouth water when I am at work. I made his Zuchinni Fritters and they were to die for so I can't wait to make this dish tonight!

Doesn't it look soooo good!?!

I will make this tonight and post pictures with the recipe I used! Stay Tuned!

As for now, back to work!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Busy Bee

Sorry I haven't blogged yet! I have been really busy and never have my computer when I want to write a post!
This week my roommate Sophie and I have been cooking up a storm! We are really trying to save money and eat healthier this summer so we have been utilizing our small kitchen in our apartment. We are going shopping on the weekend and planning meals for the entire week! This week our means consisted of Hamburgers with Swiss Cheese and Zuchinni Fritters, Grilled Chicken Tacos, Pasta with Princess Sauce and Shrimp,and Shrimp Quesadillas!
Its my mission to teach Sophie how to cook - she is starting to realize cooking healthy and at home is fast, easy, and cheap. I caught her cooking up a storm a couple nights ago!

Here are some of the recipes we made this week:

Hamburgers with Swiss Cheese and Zucchinni Fritters

Makes 2 servings

1/2 pound Ground Beef
Garlic Powder
Onion (optional)
2 slices Swiss Cheese
2 Sandwhich thins (whole wheat)

1. Mix together the ground beef, onion, and spices in a medium bowl. Score the meet into 2 equal patties.
2. Put in a Medium Frying Pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Once browned on both sides, add the Swiss Cheese. Put a lid over the burgers to allow the cheese to melt.
3. Put on a toasted Sandwich Thin and enjoy!

Zucchini Fritters

I found these Fritters on my new favorite blog . They are so easy to make and SO good. I tried the plain jane version just to make sure I liked them - and sure enough they were awesome. You can dress them up anyway you want because the zucchini is able to hold tons of flavor. I think I want to try a Mexican Zucchini Fritter soon!

Makes 2 Servings

1 Medium Zucchini
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
Onion (to taste)
Dried Spices (fresh if available - basil, dill, oregano, red pepper flakes)

1. Mix all the ingredients except the oil together in a medium bowl.
2. Heat a skillet with oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan)
3. Drop spoon fulls of Zucchini batter into the skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides (about 4 minutes)

* Top with any condiment of your choice! Salsa and sour creme are good options, but ketchup works just as well!

Grilled Chicken Tacos

Makes 2 Servings

2 Whole Wheat Tortillas
2 Chicken Breasts
Mexican Blend Cheese
Taco Seasoning
Olive Oil

1. Add Olive Oil and Taco Seasoning to the Chicken Breast
2. Grill the chicken until cooked through( 7 minutes on a George Forman Grill)
3. Add the remaining toppings to the whole wheat tortilla and enjoy!

Pasta with Princess Sauce and Shrimp

Sophie and I were in the mood for some yummy pasta, I wanted Alfredo and she wanted Tomato so I had this brillant idea to make a Princess sauce! In my family we always make Princess Sauce, its a combination of alfredo and marinara (tastes like vodka sauce without the vodka ;]) It was actually REALLY easy to make from scratch, the alfredo recipe was low calorie because of using 2% milk rather than heavy cream. I got the Alfredo Recipe off . It is simple, healthy, and cheap!

Makes 3 servings

1/3 pound pasta (Spaghetti Rigate is awesome because the ridges catch the sauce)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
2 Tbsp minced Garlic
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons cream cheese
Salt and Pepper
Dried Basil and Oregano
1/3 cup Diced Tomatoes
1/3 cup jar Tomato Sauce
Frozen Shrimp (unlimited - we used 9 shrimp)

1. Add butter, olive oil, and garlic to a medium skillet. Cook for about a minute.
2. Add flour, cook for another minute and then gradually whisk in the milk and cream cheese.
3. Stir constantly and cook for about 4 minutes, then whisk in the tomato sauce and spices. Cook for another 4 minutes.
4. While the sauce is cooking, boil the shrimp in a saucepan of water for about 2 minutes - they cook so quickly.
5. Add in the shirmp and the diced tomatoes before serving!

Shrimp Quesadillas

Sophie and I still had left over shrimp from our Pasta with Princess Sauce and Shrimp so we decided to make shrimp quesadillas. My big LOVES the Shrimp Quesadillas at Los Compadres so I decided to give it a go! We used everything we had in our pantry so it virtually cost nothing to make!

Frozen Shrimp
Taco Seasoning
Mexican Blend Cheese
Green and Red Bell Peppers
Diced Tomatoes
1 tablespoon water
Whole wheat tortillas

*Preheat a grill ( we used a George Forman)
1. Boil shrimp in a sauce pan with water for about 2 minutes.
2 While the shrimp is cooking, prepare the quesadillas - add any mixture of toppings but be sure to load up on the cheese!
3. Drain the shrimp and cut into bite size pieces, add to a small skillet with water and taco seasoning so the seasoning coats the shrimp.
4. Add shrimp to quesadilla and add more cheese and top with a second quesadilla.
5. Place the quesadilla on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes!
6. Enjoy!

Our meals this week were so easy to make and used all the ingredients we bought at the grocery store and the farmers market. It was a lot of fun and I can't wait till next week for a whole new batch of meals!

Friday, May 14, 2010

First Blog!

Hi Everyone,

So I am a little late jumping on the Blog Bandwagon. I made a few blogs in my English class during my Freshman year but never really continued it. My best friend Rima made a blog of her semester studying abroad in Rome and my other best foodie friend Jen just created her own food blog too! I knew I had to try it.
I spend HOURS online checking out different food blogs. I usually use sites like tastespotting or foodgawker that incorporate photography and food (two of my favorite things). I usually browse through the different blogs and copy and paste it into an email. I am writing a recipe book!
I am excited for this summer because I am living in an apartment with my best friend Sophie! Best part -- there is a kitchen! I usually live in my sorority house where I anxiously wait outside the kitchen door promptly at 6:00 pm for dinner. I relied on our cook John to hit my foodie appetite but it didn't seem to work. Now, I have all summer to come up with some awesome recipes and experiences cooking in my OWN kitchen. Goal for the summer is to experiment and experience new foods with my friends. Dinner parties and gatherings will be a summer ritual! I hope you enjoy my blog! I know I am going to enjoy writing it!

--Amanda :)