Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review - Dinner A'Fare

A colleague introduced me to a genius concept for busy working folks called the Dinner A'Fare. The Dinner A'Fare basically provides everything you need to prepare a main entree in no time at all, the ingredients all neatly packaged in Ziploc baggies and rolled together in a plastic wrapped log with simple preparation instructions. You can purchase a package (several to choose from) of half (2-3 servings) or full (4-6 servings) online, simply select a delivery time and voila, they arrive at your home, as promised. If you do not live in a deliverable area, they will ship to you! If you do live in a deliverable area, but plan on being away from home, just leave a cooler at the front door and they'll pack it all up for ya. 

Last week, I hit a breaking point. Long work hours left no time and energy to cook, let alone grocery shop, so I placed an order. I found the service to be impeccable. I got a reminder call the day of delivery with a one-hour delivery window and the name of the driver. Impressive. 

I will admit that tonight we tried our second meal. Neither of us were ecstatic over the was quite bland...needed some more punch to it. This one, however, was amazing...grilled shrimp with asian pesto. I enjoy cooking, and not to toot my own horn or anything, but I've gotten to be pretty decent at it. With that comes more criticism, so I'm a tough cookie. I will definitely keep some of these in the freezer for those long days! Give it a try...the price is right too.

These are all the ingredients and directions. Simple and straightforward. Literally from Ziploc baggies to plate in 15 minutes...take that, Rachael Ray!
And the meal...sorry, was starving and ate some before I remembered to take a picture. Thank goodness I had some of that fabulous Trader Joe's rice in the freezer!

Any other quick weeknight dinner ideas??

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Signs of Fall

Maybe it is wishful thinking, but I THINK we are starting to see signs of fall on its way. The mornings are a little crisper, there's a nice little (warm) breeze and football is starting to eek into our weekend plans. Bring it on! Fall represents so many of my favorite things...most of all, I look forward to all things pumpkin!

We had our first leaf fall in our backyard yesterday, and thanks to a mosquito treatment that wipes away all those nasty things, we could spend a little time outside with the dogs.

Doesn't he look like he's done something wrong? Buster has perfected his saunter.

If there ever was an entry in the dictionary for "button nose," there would certainly be a picture of Oli's face!

The picture of Oliver above is something that I always want to remember. These are the steps from our backyard up to the porch and the only way inside the house from the back. Oliver has a love/hate relationship with this staircase. He will make it to the third step, lose momentum to get to the top, turn around, go back down the steps and try again. He always goes right along the side of the house, nearly touching the brick. Sometimes it takes him 5 tries to make it all the way to the top. I've learned to be patient, as I don't want him to trick me into carrying him up the steps. I guess they are a little cumbersome for his tiny little legs. He is a peculiar little creature like that. 

What do you love about fall?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Maltese Prince

OMG! I think the highlight of my day today (other than giving a city tour to a fabulous new Atlantan!) was finding this pillow on One Kings Lane. I am obsessed with this site, but this is my first purchase.

Oliver is going to be stoked!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vintage Find

Today, my sister and I took a trip to Roswell and enjoyed treasure hunting at The Board of Trade - it was a great spot with some incredible deals! Once the items have been there for a particular amount of time, they are discounted up to 50%. I found these vintage framed prints for 30% off, for a grand total of $42. I'd say that's money well spent.

I hung these to the right of my back door (between the kitchen and dining room) above a catch-all basket. Don't judge - we have gardening gloves, motorcycle gloves, bug spray and a rusty shovel all available for a quick grab. 

I think the red walls really set them off!

Hopefully I'll make it to Scott's Antique Market in September for some other great finds. Where do you like to hunt for treasures?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Salmon & Squash

Although I miss my hubby's company on nights when he is traveling for work, I take advantage of cooking things for myself that he doesn't really like, such as...honey-glazed salmon and butternut squash! Random combination, I know, but it totally worked.

This is the BEST salmon you will ever eat, and it is beyond easy. So easy, in fact, that there is really nothing to take a picture of during the cooking process.

For the honey-glazed salmon, you'll need:
  • 2 Tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 4 salmon fillets
Combine all of the glaze ingredients and brush over the salmon fillets. Grill for about 6 minutes on each side. See...easy as pie!

I had never cooked a butternut squash before. I got inspired when I saw this beauty at our farmer's market in Brookhaven. Using a combination of recipes I found online, thought I'd give it a shot!

Using a very sharp knife, slice the squash down the middle. This is harder than it looks. Be careful!!

Scoop out those seeds and toss them. This made me excited for fall and pumpkin carving!

Next, I put a pat (pad?) of butter and generous tablespoon of brown sugar in the little bowl of each half of the squash.

Then I sprinkled a little Kosher salt and maple syrup on the squash. Put the squash halves in a baking pan and pour some water in the pan. This will keep them from drying out when you put them in the oven.

Meanwhile, the dogs know somethin's cooking...can you believe this disgusting drool? I literally have to clean this door every single day.

Bake the squash for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees, or until they are somewhat soft. I'm not sure that I cooked mine long enough but it was still delicous.

From here, you can do lots of things! I just scooped mine out, mashed it up a little bit and it was ready to eat. I like a little texture in my food. You could also put the scooped out squash in a blender to puree it, warm and serve...or use it to make butternut squash soup! Think I'll try the soup next time.

Anyone have any other butternut squash recipes that are yummy?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day at the Woodlands

Does anyone else take Garden&Gun? It is a  "his and hers" favorite around our house. It is the epitome of southern, easy and rustic elegance. It's what I strive for in my life! It's who I want to be! OK, you get it, I love it. This magazine is totally inspiring to me. I had my Garden&Gun moment this weekend when Josh and I drove up to Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville. It could fill the magazine in a heartbeat. We will absolutely go was perfect, and just like their ad...only sixty miles from Atlanta but a world away. This mountain girl needed a little escape from the hustle bustle of the big city!

Do your research on the history of Barnsley Gardens...very interesting. If you are a romantic at heart, you'll really love it. Actually, I hear that the story behind this spot might become a mini series some time soon.

How amazing is this?

The biggest swan we'd ever seen...seriously, this thing rivaled our 100 pound chocolate lab!

A sampling of the cabins. The green one was our favorite with the circular golf cart path in front.

I went a little "nature" crazy here. So many great photo opps.

OK, does anyone recognize these or am I the only mountain girl out there? These are Silver Dollar plants. We had these in Brevard growing up. I think my sister and I called them "money plants" - close enough. I flipped when I saw these...isn't the memory a weird thing?
My handsome Rebel!

Love these next two pictures. Colorful.

What do you do to recharge and get inspired??

Monday, August 1, 2011

Quick & Healthy Dinner Idea

Tonight, we ate tilapia and rice for dinner...flavorful, delicious and super easy to pull together. No recipe needed. This is an idea that Lynn Ford (my cooking muse) gave me!

For the ingredients, you'll need:
  • Tilapia fillets (I used 3)
  • Seasoned flour (or just all-purpose flour plus salt and pepper)
  • Limes
  • Butter or nonstick spray
  • Cilantro (optional)
  • Trader Joe's Peruvian Chimichurri Rice with Vegetables (in the frozen section)
First, rub both sides of your fillets with the flour. I used a preseasoned flour from Kentucky Kernel that looks like this:

Zest a lime and sprinkle over one side of the floured fillet. Heat a skillet for about a minute and spray with Pam, or use a tablespoon of butter, to prevent the fillets from sticking. Put the fillets zest side down and allow to cook over medium heat. I add the juice from half the "zested" lime right about now and sprinkle the other side of the fillet with more lime zest. Let cook on this side for about 2 minutes. Then, flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the juice from the other half of the lime. Flip probably one more time until the fillet is done.

Prepare the rice according to the package - I do mine on the stove top rather than in the microwave. This rice is TO DIE FOR.

You're done and ready to serve! Sprinkle a little cilantro on top of the fillets if you have it. The only thing that would've made this meal better is an avocado on the side...the one I had was just too ripe, shoot!