Saturday, September 29, 2012

roasted beet, goat cheese & candied pecan salad with cherry vinaigrette

The other day, in a particularly kind turn of events, Adam accompanied me to the mall. This is no small feat for any man, given my penchant for shopping. As a small repayment, I bought him lunch at Nordstrom Cafe, where I ordered a salad very similar to the one you see before you. It was so tasty, that I decided to recreate it myself at home, thankfully with much success! Beets may be an acquired taste for most, but I find roasted beets to be absolutely delicious, especially when paired with tangy goat cheese. This salad is light and refreshing, while still being perfectly suited for fall.

Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese & Candied Pecan Salad with Cherry Vinaigrette


Mixed greens with herbs (I found a great mix at Trader Joe's)
1 large red beet, roasted (you can also buy pre-roasted beets, again at TJ's)
1 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup candied pecans
Cherry Vinaigrette, recipe below


The roasted beets, candied pecans, and cherry vinaigrette can be prepared ahead of time; this will make your life much easier. Roughly section the beets into 3/4" chunks and crumble the goat cheese. After that, it's straight-up assembly. Greens + beets + goat cheese + pecans + dressing. Ta da! Enjoy.

Cherry Vinaigrette


1 T. red wine vinegar
1.5 t. honey
1/3 cup dried cherries
1 T. chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste


Whisk together the first three ingredients. Add the dried cherries, and macerate slightly with a fork. Add the chopped mint. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the cherries to steep in the liquid for 24 hours, if possible. When serving, you can include the dried cherries (as I did), or strain them from the liquid.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Naturally, I've already lost my Claddagh jewelry, but a pretty photo nonetheless.

Since I've been reminiscing about my last September spent gallivanting across Ireland under the guise of a dental externship (which by the way UMD, is not a real word, just saying), I wanted to explore this train of thought a bit further. Please indulge me. Prior to planning this extended vacation, I have to admit I could name exactly three must-see cities in Ireland:  Dublin, Cork, and the inside of a Guinness vat. However, to my surprise, the greatest parts of the trip for me were actually Howth, the Aran Islands, and the west coast city of Galway. Okay, and the Guinness, too.

Galway is very much a college town, bustling with energy, people and, of course, nightlife; however, the city offered so much more than just a somewhat blurry but fantastic Friday and Saturday night. The restaurants here, nestled in the cutest of alleyways lit with stringed lights, were easily among the best of the trip. On the edges of the town center, we were met with breathtaking scenery, historical landmarks, and the small village of Claddagh, where the famous Irish rings were first crafted. Galway also provided a perfect launch point for trips to the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, and other fantastic excursions. All in all, if given the blessed chance to return to Ireland, I would choose its stunning western coast in a heartbeat.

One of the main little streets through the city.
Dark clouds rolling in over cheerful houses.
Loved this little guy.
Ginger shortbread (we'll call them Irish gingersnaps)
Beautiful restaurants and storefronts.
More Claddagh.
The weather may not be tropical, but it always made for interesting photos.
Aggressive ordering of the seafood tower to start dinner was the best choice ever.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

the aran islands

As fast as summer flew by, September is somehow slipping away even faster. I have no idea how we are suddenly nineteen days in, and I've barely posted anything. This month feels like a slump to me, because I have about 100 recipes and outfits and other things I had intended to post for summer but never got around to; however, I'm not yet ready for fall. I decided to look back at September of last year to see what I was doing at this time.

Lo and behold, I was in Ireland! I never got around to sharing photos from some of my favorite places on the Emerald Isle, and the Aran Islands definitely falls into that category. The setting is so quaint and isolated that it's impossible to imagine people actually live in such a secluded environment, but they actually do. From breathtaking scenery to furry friends and amazing seafood, the Aran Islands have so much to offer. It is one of the most magically moody and captivating places I have ever been, and I would go back in a heartbeat. So, I'll flash back to 2011 and share them with you now, reminiscing... wishing... wanting... missing.

The beautifully rugged landscape fading into the sea.
The most adorable thatched-roof Irish cafe.
Just stunning.
A Celtic cross watching over the island.
Can this be my house? If you lived here, you wouldn't need much.
The most deliciously rich seafood chowder with freshly baked Irish soda bread biscuits.
One of my favorite photos from the trip.

Cliffs jutting out into the ocean--a mesmerizing, deep blue unlike any I've seen.
Loved this sign, weathered by the ocean wind.
The weather changed by the minute, from ominous to brilliant sunshine and back again.
Another one of my {random} favorite shots.
Oh, hello you!
Are you being coy with me?
The sweetest little seafood shack.
Bright and colorful.
Amazingly moody.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

my week in photos {sept 16}

This week was a total blur, and I'm not really sure where the time went... or even what I was doing? I do know that an Oriole's night game (and a win) was a nice way to break up the weekly grind. Chubs struggled through a rough week as well, as you can see above. Beyond that, the new Campbell's Warhol cans and Starbuck's anniversary design caught my eye and made me happy, as did one of my favorite hidden little houses in Otterbein. I hope everyone had a great and relaxing weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2012

salami, ricotta & pesto flatbread

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant and been so blown away by the food that you can't bring yourself to order something different the second time around? This is a rarity for me, as I'm obsessed with variety when it comes to ordering; however, Adam and I struggle to branch out at our DC favorite, Founding Farmers. The Salami, Ricotta & Pesto Flatbread (last seen here) is so straightforward, but makes the cut time and time again. I decided to avoid the dreaded beltway, and recreate the appetizer at home as a simple, fresh dinner with salad. The dish could have been even easier had I not wanted to copy the restaurant's rustic, roughly-chopped pesto; using a food processor, or even buying nice store bought pesto, would still be delicious. This flatbread would also be a great appetizer for company, as it can be assembled in no time.

Salami, Ricotta & Pesto Flatbread

Italian bread, sliced to desired thickness
Whole milk ricotta cheese
Pinch each of salt and pepper
Thinly sliced Italian salami (preferably nice quality)
Rustic Pesto (recipe below)

Brush one side of each bread slice very lightly with EVOO. Mix a small pinch of salt and pepper into the ricotta. Spread seasoned ricotta on bread, almost to edge. Add sliced salami. Spoon Rustic Pesto over salami. Eat. Love.

Rustic Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 T. pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 t. lemon juice
3-4 T. EVOO

Roughly chop basil leaves to desired size (tip here). Chop pine nuts and garlic to the size of large bread crumbs (scientific, I know). Combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, sea salt, lemon juice and grated cheese. Add EVOO until all ingredients are just covered with oil; pesto can be stored under thin layer of oil in refrigerator for several days.

Monday, September 10, 2012

honeymoon dreaming

Surprisingly, I can't remember a single time in my life that I have "dreamed of my wedding day" like many girls apparently do. It simply never crossed my mind, beyond the idea of imagining Mr. Right (who, as it turns out, was beyond imagination). However, daydreaming about a someday-honeymoon has crossed my mind on occasion. After the initial wedding plans were laid, Adam and I immediately veered off course and started planning the big getaway. 

Originally considering an all-inclusive getaway to Antigua, we decided that a week in the Caribbean would always be a feasible jump from Texas within the next few years. A two-week trip to the Amalfi Coast of Italy, however, may just be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Amalfi Coast is an absolute dream of a destination, and is often described as the most magical and beautiful place in the world. After booking the backbone of the trip, I took notice of Amalfi and Capri references, and I couldn't believe how many of my favorite bloggers had traveled to the same locale. Check it out! (here, here, here, here, oh and here).

So here's a little preview of our honeymoon, that I'm so thrilled to share with you and dream about for the next ten months (but who's counting). Our goal was to see a few of the beautiful places this part of the world has to offer, without packing too much into a trip; days of lounging in blissful relaxation are a must when honeymoon-planning. With two days in Naples, six in Positano, a quick day-trip to Ravello, and six more in Capri, I think we will be able to see so much while still luxuriating by the pools and beaches of the Mediterranean. It's a tough life, I know, but we're working through it just fine.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

turkey burgers with bacon jam, brie & homemade pretzel rolls

How can you possibly read the name of this burger and not immediately want to take a gigantic, mouth-stuffing bite of heaven? You can't. Not possible. You combine gooey melted brie with sweet and savory bacon, and stuff it all inside a pretzel roll. It's sinful, really. Bacon Jam made an appearance in its (rightfully) own Gingersnaps post recently, but I couldn't leave you without an idea of what to slather it on, so I decided to write a post about the burgers. I apologize that I only had two very average photos to share, but I was too busy stuffing my face.

While I came up with the idea for the burger myself (uuuhthank you!), taking your first stab at pretzel-making is best left to precise recipe-copying, so I went with these Bretzel Rolls. Despite using turkey instead of a more satisfying fatty meat, these burgers were not lacking an ounce of flavor, and were well worth the effort. Besides, I dipped about six leftover pretzel rolls in my finally-opened Guinness Mustard, appropriately purchased in Ireland last September (so worth the effort).