Thursday, April 30, 2009

Artichoke Marscapone Grilled Sandwiches

Here’s another one of those minimal effort but maximum taste dinners. I loved the creamy, sweet marscapone with the tangy artichoke heart. There’s no better way to compliment a great filling than to top it off with warm, buttery bread!

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  • 8-10 oz artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (feel free to sub cream cheese or ricotta cheese)
  • 2 slices sharp cheddar, optional
  • 2 tsp herb seasoning
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 slices rye or whole wheat bread (I used Arnold’s Sandwich Thins)

In a mixing bowl, combine the artichokes, mascarpone, some salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among two slices of bread. Top the sandwiches with the remaining slices of bread and slice diagonally. Butter each side and grill. Serve warm.

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Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

Spring CSA – Week 3

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1 head of green butter crunch lettuce
1 bag of spinach
2 bundles of spring onions
1 bundle of green garlic
2 lbs of 100% whole wheat flour

Give Away Alert

  • Shawna is giving away PranaBars

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Birthday Sprinkled with Smiles :-)

I treated myself with the one thing I wanted to eat most, a total childhood indulgence, a freshly baked vanilla sprinkle donut (with a skim milk hazelnut coffee)!! My absolute favorites and they gave me the donut free for it being my birthday! It was the perfect way to start my morning off! *smile*

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I also got several other sweet gestures today!!

  • LOTS of birthday wishes and cards from friends, co-workers and family
  • My mom singing “happy birthday” on my voice mail
  • Flowers at my desk from a co-worker foodblog 061
  • Lunch with a co-worker at Tosca  (along a complimentary slice of tiramisu with birthday candle)
  • After lunch a sprinkle sugar cookie appeared!! foodblog 065
  • Invited for a popsicle outing tomorrow at LocoPops
  • A gift card and a lunch invite for next week at a place of my choosing
  • Two new Williams-Sonoma cushioned mats from Mom! (new on the left, old on the right) foodblog 069
  • Dinner out this weekend at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Raleigh (plus the Canon PowerShot SD890IS 10MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom) from Andy foodblog 067
  • DVD of The Tale of Despereaux (I recently read the book)
  • Birthday $$$
  • And the birthday wishes just keep coming, I really love and appreciate it!

Let the celebration continue with my favorite beer (from Wine Authorities)!

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Thanks everyone for making me feel so loved and my day extra special!

Give Away Alert

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28 Things That Brighten My Day

Today is my 28th Birthday!!


My super-great husband gave me a brand new camera (and even allowed me to pick-it out, so I was sure to be happy with it). I can’t wait to play and learn more about my new “Canon PowerShot SD890IS 10MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom” – sweet!

In celebration, I thought I would share 28 things that are always sure to brighten my day!

  1. My Durham family (Andy, Finley, and Wilson)
  2. My extended family and friends
  3. My job and co-workers
  4. Cooking
  5. My Vegetable Garden, that’s underway
  6. Wine Authorities
  7. Durham Farmer’s Market (Dolly Mama’s Chocolate)
  8. Brinkley Farms’ CSA basket
  9. Supporting Durham’s local restaurants
  10. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church family
  11. Meeting new people
  12. Writing my blog and reading others (my 3 faves, below)
  13. Simply Fabulous blog
  14. Bites + Bowls blog
  15. Kath Eats blog
  16. Trader Joe’s
  17. Miller-Motte Massage Clinic
  18. Priscilla Patrick's Hatha Yoga on PBS
  19. Gazelle/Ski Machine exercise
  20. Pawley’s Island Hammock (on beautiful 80 degree days)
  21. Martha Stewart Radio, Sirius 112
  22. TV Shows (new Ellie Krieger episodes, The Rachael Ray Show)
  23. Magazines (Everyday Food Magazine, Body & Soul)
  24. Vacations (Kentucky, North and South Carolina beaches, Asheville)
  25. UK basketball
  26. Exploring and finding new shopping centers or neighborhood restaurants
  27. Birthday Gifts!
  28. Driving with a GPS unit 

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CEiMB: Spicy Marinara Turkey Meat Sauce with Whole Wheat Pasta

This weeks CEiMB pick was selected by Oddball Oven Mitt and is a personal favorite of my husbands. He was walking by the other night and commented that he’d love to have pasta with meat sauce sometime soon. Since I knew this recipe had already been chosen, I happily adapted it to meet Andy’s request.

(You’ve probably not noticed, but I always switch “spaghetti-type” recipes with whole wheat short pastas. I’ve never liked the thin texture of spaghetti or angel hair pasta. On nights that I don’t cook, once or twice a month, Andy makes spaghetti and pasta sauce for himself, since he likes it and I don’t.)

Without further ado, here’s my adapted version.

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Meat Sauce:
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 qt bag of spicy marinara sauce, thawed
  • 1 15 oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 box (16 ounces) whole-wheat rotini

Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil for pasta.

In a 4-quart saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the ground turkey and cook until just browned.  Add the spicy marina sauce, parsley, and thyme. Bring all the ingredients to a low boil, reduce heat and cook for approximately 15 minutes, until liquid has evaporated slightly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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While the meat sauce is cooking, cook the whole-wheat spaghetti according to package directions.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the pasta to the meat sauce, toss and heat through over medium heat. Divide evenly among 4 pasta bowls and garnish with parsley and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan.

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We had leftover homemade garlic bread sticks and butter crunch lettuce salad with a toasted sesame vinaigrette topped with dried cranberries and feta cheese.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

The Ditch Dog and Classic Coleslaw with Caraway

I had such a wonderful day today! I stopped by WIne Authorities (to pick up a bottle of rose, which is new style of wine for me to try; a 6-pack of Bell’s Oberon, my favorite beer; and a Mothership Wit, New Belgium organic wheat beer. While there Seth was so generous and placed some $ on my Enomatic Machine card for all the customers I try my best to send there way!! How cool is that!? I just love the vibe and friendliness of their shop.

Also, one of my co-worker’s brought me a decorative wooden meat tenderizer and mortal and pestle from a Mexican Festival she attended (so sweet), I was told I that I look like Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron

(which is always nice, whether I truly do or not), I received several nice and appreciative blog comments today, and when I came home I was welcomed by two birthday packages!! Since my birthday is a little later this week, I’m NOT going to open these quite yet. It’s more exciting to think about them for a few days anyway!

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The Ditch Dog

Yep, a hot dog of your choice topped with a creamy mac-n-cheese of your choice! I don't think food could get much better than this.

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  • 2 feta and spinach chicken sausages, heated
  • 2 hot dog buns or 4 small rolls, warmed
  • 1/2 cup leftover mac-n-cheese, heated
Inspired by this recipe on Martha Stewart

At the grocery today, I found two huge bunches of tulips marked down for $1 a piece (which is yet another reason my day was so good)!!

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Classic Coleslaw with Caraway

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  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek-style yogurt, or 2/3 cup regular plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag shredded coleslaw mix
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds

If using regular yogurt, place it in a strainer lined with a paper towel and set the strainer over a bowl. Let the yogurt drain and thicken for 20 minutes.

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In a large bowl whisk together the Greek or stained yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Add coleslaw mix and caraway seeds and toss to coat.

The dogs “thought” they wanted some of the cabbage…don’t worry they didn’t one single bite of it.

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Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: The Ditch Dog and Classic Coleslaw with Caraway

Tuesday: CeiMB - Turkey Meatballs with Quick & Spicy Tomato Sauce and Whole Wheat Spaghetti with leftover Homemade Bread Sticks and Buttercrunch Lettuce Salad

My Birthday: Dining at Tosca

Thursday: Artichoke and Mascarpone Grilled Sandwiches

Friday: Kentucky Hot Brown

Derby Day: Kentucky Burgoo and Chocolate Walnut Pie

Sunday: My Birthday Celebration, dining out

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Menu Planning

I recently commented on a question about this topic over at Leah’s Simply Fabulous blog and wanted to expand on it a bit more. First, here’s my excerpt from Leah’s post:

“Take Jessica for example, she is very organized in my opinion! I love her meal planning strategy and I have gotten great ideas from her!! She posted this in the comments section the other day:

I wanted to share a few tips on how I menu plan.

I keep an electronic food calendar, I use Google Calendar, and place recipes on it by day when I see one I want to make from another blog, magazine, cookbook, or cooking website. I place the title of the recipe in the subject line and post the link or what recipe book/magazine it can be found in the description section. Also, I place the recipe in the month when the main ingredients are seasonal aka if it’s zucchini I’ll place it in June or July when I know the farmers market will be full of them. Before you know it, in a few months you will have collected a plethora of recipes.

If I don’t get a chance to cook a dish when I expected too, I just drag and drop the recipe onto another date on my electronic food calendar. I also can print the calendar out and keep it in the kitchen. I even schedule “leftover” days if I know a recipe will make a lot or for nights when I’m busy I’ll purposely plan to make something that is super fast.

The best advise I can give is do what works for you and START SMALL. For me the key to staying organizing is to break up a goal into small steps, and once you’ve mastered a step add another.

Want to know what Jessica has on the menu this week?  She features Meal Plan Monday each week on her blog.”

So I wanted to expand on this a bit more…

Food Calendar

I suggest creating a “food calendar” (as mentioned above) on online so that you can access it anywhere and at anytime. I also suggest that you print out the calendar in a “monthly view” and keep it out in the kitchen in plain sight (on the fridge or with your recipes for the week). At the end of every week I pull out my food calendar (normally online) and print or pull the recipes for the dishes I’ll be cooking. I keep these all together in one stack and place the recipes in order of when I plan to make them. This is where “Menu Plan Monday” really helps out (see below).

Weekly Grocery List and Shopping

  • Keep a pre-printed stack of Grocery Lists with items listed that you frequently purchase. I have a separate one for Trader Joe’s items and BJ’s Wholesale Club. Email me at andyjess2002 at yahoo dot com, if you’d like me to email you these.
  • Before grocery shopping quickly look over the recipes you plan to make and add these items to your list.
(I stay flexible with ingredients, I don’t have to have the exact ingredient to still make a dish. Once you’ve cooked for awhile, you’ll learn what can be swapped out or substituted. I look at cooking as a general guideline, but like being creative and experimenting with my own ideas and flavors.)
  • On Sunday’s I flip through the newspaper and look over my grocery stores circular and the coupon inserts (date and save these– visit Money Saving Mom to see what‘s on sale at which stores and what coupons match-up).
    • Watch for sales and stock-up or rearrange your food calendar to accommodate.
    • Add any essentials to your list: milk, OJ, fresh fruit, bread, etc to the list and your all set.
(I don’t purchase bread weekly, since the two of us can’t eat a whole loaf that quickly, I keep a combination of bakery-style sliced whole wheat bread, whole wheat English muffins, whole wheat pita pockets, baguette, etc in the freezer and pull out and thaw a few slices or pieces at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or wrapped overnight, as needed. If it’s bread slices you can also toast them a couple times from the frozen state and they’ll come out perfectly toasted.)

Storing Printed Recipes

See my previous post on the recipe filing system I use.

Menu Plan Monday

A great way to get inspired on menu planning is to check out Org Junkie’s weekly Menu Plan Monday. I link to this weekly, you can find all my previous recipes and menu plans here.

Want More?

For even more check out my previous posts for photos on how I organize my groceries,

I would be glad to entertain any additional questions or to clarify/expand on the topic more.

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Pizz-O and Homemade “Pizza Hut” Breadsticks

Saturday Night Recap: After a trip to Home Depot and Stone Brother’s and Byrd Garden Shop we decided to have the leftover homemade mac-n-cheese. Andy spread 8 bags of mulch and I planted our two front door pots with edible plants, along with sage and thyme in the herb garden out back. Wow, it was HOT out today, 89 degrees!! After showers, a chilled glass of white zinfandel was calling my name…and that’s when the leftovers started looking more and more like a better option over the pizza and breadsticks I had yet to prepare.

Last weekend, on my four plane rides, I had the opportunity to flip through several magazines. I was inspired by a fresh herb and tea article in April’s Body and Soul magazine. While I’ve always had an herb garden, this summer I decided to plant our all of our outdoor pots with edible plants too. I purchased sorrel (tart and lemony lettuce), lemon balm, and chamomile. The chamomile will bloom mid-summer and produce small daisy like flowers, it will also begin to spill and flow over the pot. I love the idea and the more I use these three plants the more they will grow and produce! I’m going to plant lavender in the pots in the backyard along the patio.

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Thyme and sage, I still have a few more herbs to replenish for this year: rosemary, oregano, dill and tarragon (Mom’s favorite).

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It looks like scattered showers next weekend, but we’re still hoping to get the vegetable garden dug and planted. I’m going to also put several plants of basil and parsley out there, since I can never have enough of those two herbs.

We loved being able to fit 10 bags of mulch and 5 bags of organic compost into the bag of our new car.

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AND this morning at church I was SO pleased to hear that one of the CYF fundraisers for this year was selling heirloom tomato plants – score! (I also love that they’ve been selling CFL light bulbs!! I purchased 5 tomato plants (click on the name for pictures of each): cherokee purple, consoluto genevese, consoluto fiorentina, little julia, and golden currant.

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Pizza and breadsticks were on deck for lunch/dinner today…both of these turned out phenomenally. I was quite impressed with myself.

  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil  
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, chopped into chunky pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, room temperature for easy spreading
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, 4-5 sprigs, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh store-bought pesto
  • 1 cup grated smoked mozzarella
  • 1 ball fresh whole wheat pizza dough
  • 3 slices prosciutto
  • Cornmeal, to sprinkle on the pizza pan

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Heat a skillet with one turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon, over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the garlic and mushrooms (I also added spring onions).

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Once the mushrooms have wilted and turned deep brown in color, stir in the roasted red peppers. Set aside until it is time to assemble the pizza.

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In a bowl combine the ricotta, lemon zest, thyme, 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Reserve.

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To assemble the pizza, sprinkle a round pizza pan with cornmeal. This will keep your pizza from sticking when it is cooking and help it slide off the pan when it is done. Roll out the pizza dough in a circle on the pizza stone.

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Spread the pesto out across the rolled-out dough, using the back of a spoon to get it everywhere. Top the pesto with the sliced prosciutto, then spread the ricotta mixture over it.

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Add the reserved mushroom mixture to the center, leaving about a 11/2-inch border around the pie. Top with the mozzarella and fold the topping-free edge over until it meets the mushrooms. Keep the pizza round by pleating the edge as you work your way around the pie.

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Brush crust with some EVOO for a beautiful golden brown color. Transfer to the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice and enjoy! DELISH!

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Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

Homemade “Pizza Hut” Whole Wheat Breadsticks

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  • 1 ½ cup hot water
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup non fat dry milk
  • 1 Tb yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups ap flour
  • 1/3 cup melted Smart Balance butter
  • Parmesan and desired seasonings
  1. Dissolve sugar, salt and dry milk in hot water. Add enough flour (~1 cup) to make a soupy mixture. When the mixture is no longer hot but still warm add the yeast and stir well.
  2. Add the rest of the flour, enough to form a moderately stiff dough. foodblog 057
  3. Knead the dough until smooth. foodblog 058
  4. Roll dough into a rectangular shape the size of your baking pan. Spread half of the butter onto the baking pan, then place your dough into the pan and spread the remaining butter on top of the dough. Top the breadsticks with garlic salt, Parmesan cheese, seasoning salt, or other desired seasonings. foodblog 066
  5. Cut the dough into breadsticks with a pizza cutter and let rise for 10-15 min. Bake at 350 degrees for 20- 25 min. foodblog 088
Recipe courtesy of Real Mom Kitchen

Andy’s plate while watching Star Trek

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Mine dining el fresco

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Where I plan to spend most of my afternoon…

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