Category Archives: Raves

I Have to Share My Awesome Dinner

Toast

Tapenade Toasts with Roasted Vegetables from Ladies Home Journal

Somehow (and to be honest, I have absolutely no idea why) I am receiving Ladies Home Journal.  In the March issue there is a spread on soups and toasty sandwich recipes.  I came across this recipe, and I use that term loosely, for Tapenade Toasts with Roasted Vegetables.  Since I have been trying to incorporate more veggies into my life, and because this was the perfect excuse to eat bread, I wanted to give it a try.

It. was. AWESOME!!!!!!

Here is the link to the LHJ recipe, and here is what they said to do:

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss 1 sliced zucchini, 1 small sliced onion, 1 sliced bell pepper, and 1/2 pint grape tomatoes with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Roast, turning once, until vegetables are soft and golden, about 30 min. Spread 4 slices toasted ciabatta with prepared olive tapenade and top with roasted vegetables. Serves 4.

I changed things up a little bit to fit my needs and use up the vegetables that I had in my house.  (Like swapping Roma tomatoes for the grape tomatoes, and adding mushrooms.  Stuff like that.)  Oh, I also left out the salt on the veg because I knew the olives would be salty enough.  I whipped up a simple olive tapenade in the food processor with green and black olives, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley.  Feel free to use your favorite jar version.  It was so good, seriously.  You must try it.  The saltiness of the olive tapenade pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the roasted vegetables.  I added some cheese on top of the bread, which is not necessary, but I am a cheese addict.  We had Satori Raspberry Bellavitano because it was on special at Earth Fare.  I’d never heard of that cheese before, but it was very tasty and worked perfectly with this combination of flavors.

I wish that I had taken a picture of my plate, but I was too hungry and it was too good.  🙂  You should definitely try Tapenade Toasts with Roasted Vegetables for yourself.  I am absolutely going to do it again soon.

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First Trip to the Farmers Market

Tim and I took out first trip to the local farmer’s market this weekend and love it.  I’ve mentioned that we get fresh organic produce delivered to us once a week, but there are some staples, like bell peppers and salad mix, that we buy in addition to our delivery.  I’m really trying to improve our diet and eat more whole foods, so I really wanted to go to the farmer’s market.  We are lucky to have a good growers market close by, and it’s silly that we haven’t even checked it out to see what they have to offer.

Child playing in the pumpkins

First up, we were greeted by this little guy playing with some pumpkins, right by the door.  Atherton Market is an indoor market, but there were a few booths set up outside, including woven wares and a guy who can help you set up your own chicken coop.

Farmer’s market

Obviously there were a ton vendors selling fresh organic locally grown fruits and veggies.  We came home with red bell peppers, zucchini, fresh mint, and a couple bags of mixed greens.

Fresh Flowers

There were also some beautiful flowers and floral arrangements.  I don’t often have flowers at my house, but they were really lovely.

Floral Arrangements

What was really cool to newbies like us, though, were the non-produce booths.  I’ve only been to one farmer’s market in my life and it was a pretty small one, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  There was a fish monger and a farm that sold locally raised, grass-fed beef and lamb.  We bought a delicious agave mustard from the Pickle Guy who had quite a variety of probiotic pickles and dips/salsas.  The artisan bread maker’s booth was really tempting, but I’m limiting my bread intake because we eat way too much of it right now.

Olives and Oils

I was very interested in this booth that offered a variety of oils and balsamic vinegar infused with different flavors.  They also had several types of olives and other jar items.  The booth was busy, so I didn’t get a chance to stop for a closer look, but I will definitely pick something up next time.

Fresh Roasted Nuts

A fun new find was this booth that sells freshly roasted nuts with no added salt or anything.  So fresh, in fact, that the peanuts were still warm.  I didn’t think that it would make that big of a difference in taste, but it really does.  The nuts are fantastic.  In addition to buying bags of their nuts and dried fruit, they also offer the option of creating your own trail mix blend.  I usually don’t like store bought trail mix.  Throwing raisins or dried coconut into a random mix of salty nuts, pretzels, candy etc., and calling it healthy just doesn’t do it for me.  We chose a mix of almonds, peanuts, dates, cherries, and papaya.  This trail mix is SO DELICIOUS!!!  In fact, it’s a little too good.  It’s really hard to limit myself to a small portion.  We walked away with one bag of trail mix, but next time we may have to stock up.

Fresh pasta

Another nifty booth sold freshly made pastas.  They had a ton of flavors, and a whole list of raviolis and gnocchi.  Everything was so tempting, it was tough to decide.  We bought some lobster ravioli and spinach gnocchi.  Though we haven’t had the gnocchi yet, the lobster ravioli was fantastic.

The Atherton Market is large, and open five days out of the week, which is great.  If you live in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend checking it out.  Tim and I had a great time, and will definitely be going back.  I encourage you to see what farmer’s markets are local to your area.  You never know what you are going to find.

Why I Love the Olympics

I really enjoy watching the Olympics.  I didn’t always enjoy them.  In fact, when I was a child I rather resented them.  My parents always watched them, so there was nothing on the “big TV” for weeks until they were over.  However, as a teenager and certainly as an adult, I have grown to enjoy the Olympics very much.  It wasn’t until this year, though, that I finally figured out why.

It’s not because I like to watch sports.  Though I enjoy playing sports (or at least I did when I was younger), I have never enjoyed watching sports on television.  So why then?  There is a certain amount of joy watching others fulfill their life-long dreams.  And, though it probably makes me a little bit evil inside, it can be entertaining to watch a few of them totally eat it.  But none of these reasons are why I really love the Olympics.  I love the Olympics because for brief moments I actually feel proud to be an American.

I am not a political person, and I don’t often get into the politics of this country.  I can say, however, that America does not often give me reasons to feel proud or patriotic.  There are many reasons that I am glad to live in America, and I would never leave the country to live somewhere else, but in general, we are total assholes.  There have been many times in our recent history that have made me ashamed of our government and the actions of the people.

But the Olympics is a place where we really shine.  The Olympics provides us with heros, with people who we want to see succeed.  Michael Phelps, the Fab 5, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, Missy Franklin… the list goes on and on.  The Olympics is a time where we come together as a country to support our representatives with good will and respect.  I get a thrill to see an athlete up on that medal stand, tearing up at the National Anthem.  The Olympics have the same effect on me that a great Fourth of July fireworks show has.  I feel a moment of pride and gratitude to be an American.

Especially in an election year where politics get ugly and people get angry, it can really feel like this country has gone to the dogs.  Elections bring out the hate in people.  There is so much vitriol being spat out in every direction that it seems impossible to escape.  The summer Olympics come at a good time here in America, because we certainly need the boost.  Despite being bombarded with campaign commercials, (which I could really do without, thanks) I love watching the Olympics to get at least a few fleeting moments to feel proud to be an American.