Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summery Eats

In normal summer fashion, we would backpack, camp, hike, cook, photograph, write and eat for 12 weeks.  Veggies would be flowing from the fridge, wine would be topped off, and this blog wouldn't be nearly so neglected.  This summer wasn't normal. With the passing of my stepfather, transferring to a new school location, switch up on hubby's job, oh and getting pregnant- this summer was anything but normal.  So instead of the traditional summer fare, I feasted on bagel thins, saltines, ice water, and very few things that grow from the ground.  There were food adversions to things I normal love- and previously raved about on here! I'm looking at you portabellas, stay far far away from me and we'll be okay!

So for the 10 or so weeks of summer allotted this year, most of them were spent on the couch sleeping off what felt like a never ending hangover- minus the big night out!  Trips were put on hold, working out is a day dream I have, and the refrigerator never looked so sad in all it's plugged in life.  Steve's beloved chicken and I made enemies and it was a bland, bland summer.  Sometime in early August things started to change.  Energy levels crept back up, different foods full of life and color were purchased, small amounts of our feathered friend were being consumed... oh yeah welcome 2nd trimester, WELCOME!!!

The dogs were getting walked again, even if walking is the only thing I can deem as "exercise" it was something that didn't involve our couch. Good enough for me...

So to wrap up summer, and bring on the month that will eventually lead to Fall we toasted with a summer inspired dish. Yes it is long overdue, as summer ushered in months ago, but well worth the wait.

Grilled Shrimp with Gazpacho Salsa
1 lb Large shrimp (Costco had tiger shrimp that were perfect for this!)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup olive oil + 2 Tbsp
1 tomato, diced (seeds, skin, juices and all)
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper
lime juice

Peel shrimp and marinate in olive oil and wine. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

In large bowl, mix all of the veggies up.  Toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Give it a stir.  Dust with garlic powder, stir and taste. Dust with Cayenne pepper, stir and taste.  I start with small amounts of seasoning and adjust as needed.  I like the punch of cayenne, and did 3 separate additions until I finally reached the desired heat.  Add just a hint of lime, not even enough to actually measure out, for brightness! 

Get a grill super hot, and grill the shrimp- ours took about 1 1/2 minutes per side! They were pretty big. Once you flip to second side, top lightly with some of the salsa.

Remove from grill and serve with the Gazpacho salsa.

Whether you are welcoming in summer, or sending it on it's hot and humid merry way- these are the perfect way to kick start your meal.  And now that I'm back to the land of the veggie-loving living, let's hope for a more updated well spiced life.

oh hey there vegetables.... let's make up for lost time!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

For a good time make these....

... and then call me for dinner!
Do yourself a favor and put this into your dinner ideas for this week or next! Share them with someone you love- not like- L.O.V.E. !! When I came home from work I wanted to go with something different- as in I've eaten so much chicken I may have feathers soon!  I recently picked up some portabellas, both large and small. My original plan was ground beef and baby bellas, but everything I googled for inspiration ended up resembling beef stroganoff. Not exactly what I was going for!

This was born out of the desperate need to eat beef, not doused in creamy sauce, over egg noodles.  We all draw our inspirations from somewhere, just so happens mine was from a list crossed off, and face full of frustration. Wheels spinning, ingredients flying out of the fridge, and oven preheating dinner was put together in about 40ish minutes!

If you need sweet revenge, make these and eat them in front of whoever is deserving of it. It's the adult thing to do!

Beef Stuffed Portabella Caps
1 lb lean ground beef
2 large portabella mushroom caps- could have used 4 oops
1/2 cup diced onion
3 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp Panko
4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
salt and pepper
garlic powder
red pepper flakes
Goat cheese garnish

Pre heat oven to 400.
Use a spoon to clean the inside of the mushroom up. Chop it up to mix in with beef.  Over medium heat cook onions and garlic until fragrant and translucent.  Mix in with beef, panko, and vinegar.  Stuff the mushrooms resembling a GIANT meatball!  Top with garlic powder, sprinkle with pepper flakes, rosemary, and basil!  The key is in the rosemary!!!  I baked these for 30 minutes.

I served this over whole wheat pasta with kale- tossed with olive oil and black pepper.  To wrap it up generously place goat cheese on top. The creaminess of the goat cheese mixed with the rosemary ties the whole thing together. 

Steve's already put in a request for them again!

Go ahead and pin this, spread the spice!!! Pin It

Monday, April 30, 2012

Kiwi Mango Vinaigrette

I posed the question on Facebook the other day about kiwi eating. I go for the full kiwi effect- fuzz and all! A friend equated it to a toothbrush for your belly, and I like that!  Many went the way of a fuzz free kiwi.  For tonights dinner, I went without the fuzz!
I needed some fresh and light dinner to balance the festive food filled weekend.  So atop a piece of grilled mahi, resting on mixed greens, went this dressing! Garnished with avocado slices and red onion, it's the kind of dinner that energizes you! Lucky for me there is leftover dressing for lunches this week. Mixed with quinoa, this would be a healthy lunch powerhouse!

Kiwi Mango Vinaigrette
1 peeled kiwi
1 peeled mango
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp honey
1 handful fresh cilantro
salt and pepper- to taste

Allow the food processor time to whirl the mixture into a light, sweet, slightly tangy dressing!

The Main Event

After months of planning, The Bride and her Main Man made it official in front of friends and family.  She was absolutely stunning! She knows how to throw a party, and even convinced hubs to dance with me (a request usually saved for the kitchen or the deck!)
With an early afternoon arrival we nibbled on chicken salad while waiting on the Glam Squad to come do their magic.
Though I haven't done it yet I think it would be equally amazing to go all veg with it and substitute Chickpeas for chicken...

This made enough for  6 people, plus leftovers for post reception noshing!

Leave 5 skinless/boneless chicken breasts marinating in Italian dressing for 4+ hours.
Cut into strips and grill.
Place chicken breasts in food processor  and pulse for a quick chop of the chicken.
For the dressing mix the following together before pouring over chicken;
1/2 cup Mayo (I love the reduced fat with Olive Oil!)
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (tweak to your liking of zingy-ness)
1 packet Good Seasonings Zesty Italian mix
2 tsp Agave Nectar
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp Onion powder
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp dill
2 Tbsp basil
Mix well, and pour over chicken!  Enjoy on whole wheat wrap, or fluffy soft bun!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Have cheese, will travel!

Blogger says this is my 102nd post.  Missed the big 100 post party... oops! Guess I'll have to make up for it by blitzing the blog to get to 200 posts... and really get down!

Today is the wedding day of a very awesome childhood friend.  We met 20 years ago when my family moved into our suburban utopia, and her family was right down the street!  Cue bike riding, park days, pool playing, and sleepovers that laid the foundation of youth into adolescence!
A couple of weekends ago we celebrated The Bride in Charlottesville style- a rented car took us to wineries and we finished up the evening with dinner and drinks! Needless to say more silly memories were made and random fits of laughter spontaneously erupts when the bride, her sister, and I are able to get together!

To balance out the wine we were tasting I packed some cheese and crackers. I love the versatility of goat cheese. It pairs equally as well with sweet fruits as it does savory herbs.  The spread for crackers originally was a blend of chopped roasted almonds, and dried cranberries, mixed in with goat cheese, and drizzled with honey!

With an early primping start to today's wedding festivities I'm loading up a cooler with chicken salad (recipe soon....mmm) and some easy snacks! Today's goat cheese medley has roasted pecans, dried cherries, and an agave drizzle!  Its tasty AND pretty- with a slight pink hue after spending a brief couple of seconds in the food processor.  Easy and tasty always make a wonderful match.

In an oven set at 400 degrees roast chopped pecans for 5- minutes.
In a food processor, pulse dried fruit (cherries today), pecans, and goat cheese.
Form into ball, or log, or whatever fanciful shape you desire...a goat cheese dove perhaps?!

Time to get ready for some celebrating!  Congratulations to two wonderful people! I feel so incredibly lucky to be there to celebrate the day with you!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A rainy Saturday night

While running Saturday errands, we decided to do smaller nibbles for dinner. Without the desire to settle for 1 particular style, we opted for an assortment of foods that would typically be meal starters.  To kick off a rainy evening of grilling, guitar, wine, and beer, we ate smoked salmon sushi rolls.  The smoked salmon with red peppers, cucumber, and avocado were perfect with  wasabi soy sauce. Ever the novice sushi roller, several attempts were made to create the rolls cylindrical appearance.  They were a great way to start the night with my favorite person!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Back

With Spring's arrival it was time for our annual backpacking trip- see hubby's recap! Easter weekend offers one of the first chances for us to get away, sleep in our tent- jam packed with 2 pups- that kicks off our year of travel! Energized by a quick birthday hiking adventure last weekend, we set out to push a little further, hike a little harder, and sleep amongst towering trees and brightly lit stars.

While trips are amazing, so is the feeling of getting home to the creature comforts we've been without for a few days that makes us appreciate them that much more, and planning the next adventure.  So with screaming calf muscles and serious cravings for anything not from a wrapper or crammed into bar form, I loaded us up on protein tonight.

I made these amazing meatballs a few weeks ago- a spin off of burgers one of my dear friends created a few summers ago!  Tonight's version was tweaked a bit more.  One of hubby's friends hooked us up with fresh ground deer burger- not a fan of venison, leave it out!  Feeling adventurous, seek it out! What is more perfect than something so free range and organic...?!  I'll jump off that soapbox!

When prompted with meatballs for dinner, a lukewarm reception is expected. Nothing is sassy and exciting about a meatball. It conjures up vision of crockpots, toothpicks, and indigestion inducing sauce.  But throw in some roasted garlic, fresh spinach, and a grill and the luke warm reception is replaced with mouthwatering, and second helpings! 

I served mine with sauteed onion, mushroom, and asparagus quinoa- and substituted israeli cous cous for hubby's quinoa! 

Grilled Spinach and Feta Meatballs
1 lb. ground chicken
1/2 lb. ground deer burger
1/2 cup feta
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2/ Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves roasted garlic (chopped)
1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sea salt

Mix well together and roll into 2 inch balls. Place on foil sprayed with cooking spray.  Heat grill to high heat and cook meatballs on foil, on the grill.  Roll every five (or so) minutes until they are well cooked.  Mine were on about 20 minutes.

If only all of life's ordinary- at times boring- situations could be solved by a grill... what a tasty world it would be!

Monday, February 20, 2012


This winter has lacked that whole "wintery feel" with repeated weeks of 50 and 60 degree temps. So what better time to start a yard reconstruction project than on a Saturday night- by the glow of truck headlights- only to finish during the only snowstorm we've seen this year.  Totally normal right?!  The  true feat of the weekend has been the relaxed vibe that settled in, sometime Friday afternoon-while a stylist set free the split ends of my hair!!  One dinner date at Emilio's later, with sangria obviously accompanying the boiled octopus tapas and the stress of the last few weeks drifted away.
Enter Saturday morning. While cruising cooking light online, I came across and ultimately started craving this.  Not having Canadian Bacon didn't discourage my morning masterpiece. Not really feeling the heaviness of traditional Hollandaise sauce, my goal was to create something lighter while keeping the full flavor intact.  Thankful to the many vegan recipes dedicated to egg/butter free Hollandaise Sauce- this blend of ideas was created and savored, mentally stored for my next fancy feeling feast- and 1 less chicken loses it's life! Win-win for everyone, don't you think

Holy Healthy Hollandaise
1/4 cup drained and rinsed Chickpeas
1/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
Splash Worcestershire
Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 Tsp Turmeric
3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/4 cup water

Give it some alone time in the food processor- enough to take the grainy texture from the chickpeas and make it smooth.  Warm in a sauce pan and server over everything... eggs.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

I dig my blog, obviously or I'd never sit down to write it. I love looking back to see what was happening last year- or even almost 2 years ago. Recently reading last years post of Valentine's Day, made me realize (again) somethings never change. I'm still the same Valentine's Day Scrooge! Not that I don't want to share romantic evenings with my hubby, I just don't want the preset version of when, where, and how. Hallmark standard is buy me things, take me out, do this on February 14th. I'd rather have my version- build me something beautiful, cook with me, do so whenever the mood strikes you. We did spend the 14th in the kitchen. We did create something special, but for no other reason than it's been a hell of a busy past 6 weeks and we wanted to hang out. After spending 6 weeks searching for a replacement vehicle for my "purchased at 21, driven all over God's creation, buttons popping off daily" Jetta, we brought home our newest mountain chasing, beach cruiser. Major life todo for 2012- checked off (stress slowly lowering)! Work life went all cra-zay for a minute there, as it does every mid year- and that too slowly settled. So after a pretty long work meeting on a no different that any other Tuesday night we cooked.

Honey Sriracha Glazed Salmon over Israeli Cous Cous
Over medium high grill, place salmon. In last few minutes of grilling glaze with equal parts honey-sriracha.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with olive oil lemon sauteed calamari.  Serve over Israeli cous cous with sauteed fennel and spinach- and loads of fresh garlic and onions!

Now pour some wine, light some candles, turn on some music- and pass me the Russel Stovers!
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Strawberry Soft Serve

Something I saw the other day stuck with me and I haven't been able to shake it- strawberry ice cream.  Not normally my go to choice, I'm more of a chocolate girl, but I have been CRAVING some strawberries in a major way.  As luck would have it the only sugars passing my lips this week come from fruits and veggies, and soft serve is as easy as a frozen banana. After dinner- a Clean Eating Magazine recipe won again- a lightened up version of taco bowls for me, and enchiladas for my main man, I attacked my TRX with a vengeance.  My arms are jello, and my legs are shaking- but that didn't stop me from whipping up two bowls of homemade strawberry soft serve- by whipping up I mean I had to hit the pulse button a few times, complicated stuff we have going on!  Into the food processor went 2 frozen bananas, and a  handful of frozen strawberries.  It did it's food "processing" for a few minutes, and viola- creamy, cold, strawberry soft serve without any additional sugars added! No extra sugar... no big deal!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

something forbidden...

What better way to spice up a Monday evening than to start it off with something a little forbidden, and a wine glass full of water ;) I have a special bag of forbidden rice I keep in my pantry. I save it for special recipes and Monday nights! Right before drifting off to sleep last night I flipped to a picture in my Clean Eating Magazine of Salmon over Forbidden rice salad and made a mental pin! After a long day at work it was nice to already have a plan for dinner

Forbidden rice gets its name from a dish saved for Royalty, in Asia, a really long time ago- before Whole Foods made it un-forbidden to all us non-Royals!  Google will tell you all the nutritional stats related to the black grained rice- totally worth a read. It will describe its slightly nutty flavor. Nothing you  read will compare to the mild flavor and fantastic texture of actually eating the rice. Its worth a trip to the Whole Foods, no matter how many hippies hybrids cut you off in the parking lot... I joke... kinda :)

Tonight my forbidden bed... of rice.. was topped with Thai-inspired sauteed salmon and veggies.  Veering off from Clean Eating's recipe I came up with this little beauty. Totally worthy of  weekend dinner, but easy enough to make on a Monday- a rainy, inside recess, kind of Monday at that!

Bring two cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup rice. Cover and lower heat for 25 minutes.
While rice cooks mix the following together in a bowl:
1 diced red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro- save 2 Tbsp for garnish
1 finely chopped jalapeno- seeds and ribs removed depending on how spicy you like it!
4 thinly sliced green onions- save 1/2 for garnish
2 minced cloves of garlic

You'll also need:
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tsp lime juice
4 Tbsp lite Coconut Milk- I seriously opened a whole can for 4 Tbsp- expect more Asian Food this week Hubby!
1 tsp sesame seeds
splash of vinegar- I used apple cider

Over mediumish heat, add oil to a pan and quick swirl the first 5 ingredients- less than 2 min.  Add lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, and sesame seeds and heat until just bubbling

Remove mixture from pan.

Allow pan to regain heat and add Salmon.  Cook over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. 
When fish flakes its done-  I like mine medium rare, so a little less time works better for me.

Assemble over your forbidden rice bed, and top with pepper/onion/jalapenos.  Add fresh onion and cilantro on top. 

I ate mine like this, ya know since I've broken up with non fruit sugar for the week, but hubs was super stoked when I drizzled honey sriracha over his.  Equal parts honey and sriracha mixed and drizzled over ANYTHING and you're set! It was perfect for tonights dinner.

**Don't forget to find A Well Spiced Life on Facebook!!! Instant post updates for you and motivation for me... win win situation I think!

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it's what's for lunch...

Sunday generally sets the mood for my week. It will either be rushed with half finished projects, or a crossed off to do list that leaves me well placed for the upcoming work week.  This Sunday was productive, a good sign for my upcoming, scheduled to the brim week!  In order to maximize time at home Monday- Friday, lunches have been set up with easy to grab (and no sugar for me...) options that we can take to work.  Hubby and I don't typically eat out at work, except for the occasional lunch date, which means we pack lunches everyday for both of us.  Aside from being so much more affordable, what we pack is pretty healthy!  There's standard always fruits, veggie bags, almonds, greek yogurt, and standard leftovers or salads.  I have been consistently taking a leafy green salad. Sometimes its exciting- like tomorrows with roasted beets, goat cheese, and black olives- other times its pretty standard and leaves me hungry shortly after eating it, probably out of food-boredom. To keep things exciting, and make sure I have time to devote to my TRX and running shoes, our salads are set up and ready to go!  Toppings and add ins are chopped up and ready to be assembled super quick!  Of course leftovers always make an appearance throughout this week- we're starting with some super homemade beef and veggie soup.

 Having dinners planned out helps too- but that isn't super rigid. Some nights I want to cooooooooooook, and some nights I just want to eat, and quickly!  It all depends on what the day has been like.  I make a loose plan, that is super flexible, or randomly browse the epicurious app!  This week should include a veggie lasagna, meatballs (of some variety), soup (I'm thinking chicken and dumplings), salmon- and that is about as far as my planning goes.

With a few less things to worry about this week, maybe there will even be more posts! Could it be, AWSL has regained momentum?!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hey Sug-ah!

The other day a friend posted on FB (sidenote AWSL has a FB page!!! Welcome to the 21st century lil' blog o' mine!)  a link about SUGAR!!!  This comes coincidentally after a "Paula Deen has diabetes news cast."  I have very passionate feelings about the S word.  My sugar limitations are strictly a personal  eating belief, that even in moderation- you can still have TOO much.  We don't drink sodas, rarely have juice, and stick to desserts made in someones kitchen-mainly around the holidays.  It's pretty easy to weed out the major sugar sources from our home BUT we do love our craft beer, red wines, dark chocolate, and Agave  nectar.  With debates surrounding agave and its likeness to High Fructose Corn Syrup, I feel like I am a hypocrite when I use it in coffee, oatmeal, or to sweeten up a smoothie!   Why have one but not the other?  To shake things up this week I'm taking the classic avoidance approach with the sweet stuff. Coffee will just be blonde, not sweet!  Chocolate will be unapproachable, and red wine will have to just gather some dust in dining room for a bit longer. 
- this mornings smoothie had no extra sweetness added, just the fruit!

This also means no more granola bars for breakfast, greek yogurt without honey, and paying extra attention to anything not homemade. EEEK!

Why this week? Why this challenge?

Why not?!  No sense in putting something off, when motivation is chomping at the bit for a good personal challenge!  I've nixed the major offenders- soft drinks, lil' debbies, juices, daily desserts- but that doesn't mean I can't make my diet even better!

Cheers (tap water in a wine glass of course- you can't buy that kind of class!) to a challenge!

Greetings From...

SUNNY FLORIDA  er, Wintery Weather VA is more like it! We woke up yesterday to a wet, ice covered deck, followed by morning rain.  Though today has been dry, the cool temperatures remain.  Not to worry we are looking at high's in the 60's this week, because that makes a lot of sense!  For some odd reason, I have been on a mid-winter smoothie kick. Last week it was pumpkin laced, today we have "Hi- wish I were on a warm beach, but not in a bikini yet" flavored variety.  Your standard frozen strawberries, banana, and mixed fruit that you need to either use or get rid of blended with 1 cup greek yogurt, 1/2 cup 1% milk, 1/2 cup water, and topped with unsweetened shredded coconut.

Its pretty standard, but if I lean up against the fireplace (after I fight for a spot between these two heat hogs, like hubs demonstrates above), close my eyes really tight, I am suddenly sitting on a beach- with nothing but the sand, ocean, and my strawberry smoothie. Where did your breakfast take you today?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

this and that

2012 is off to a busy start! With so many things to accomplish, and so few free hours to do so,  the blog has been lacking updates. I  promise we aren't starving artists overhere! It's anything but.  So far our new year has us planning an epic trip, catching up on the never ending decorating of our house, getting ready for a FABULOUS friend's Spring Wedding, checking off major life todos, and planning a 5 year anniversary celebration.  Like anything a routine will develop- and things will settle down!  Until then- FOOOOOOD!!!!

Tomato tower- with "oven fried" greenies!

Grilled Shrimp, rockfish, and pineapple

Hubby's BBQ chicken pizza- a Pioneer Woman Recipe

Grilled bread with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

Asian Seafood Stirfry

Fish Tacos- wrapped in lettuce