Sunday, October 21, 2012


This weekend's eats are brought to you by GOURDS - butternut squash, pumpkin, and spaghetti squash.   With the exception of fresh summer berries, fall flavors are my favorite.  I could feast the entire fall and winter on roasted squashes, baked pumpkin treats, and crock pot vegetarian chili.

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash + Indian Spiced Tofu + Roasted Broccoli and Red Pepper

Pumpkin Oatmeal Griddle Cakes with Sauteed Molasses Apples

Asian Salmon + Spaghetti Squash + Asparagus Spears
Which season features your favorite eats?  Did your weekend feature a similar orange theme?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Riverside Dining

Saturday night, we ventured into Vinings for a family dinner in celebration of Mom's birthday.  

The restaurant of choice was Canoe - our favorite Atlanta restaurant.  Nestled along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, Canoe provides an elegant meal featuring local meats, seafood, and produce.  

We arrived an hour before our reservation and sat riverside and enjoyed cocktails and appetizers.  It was a beautiful fall evening with crisp, yet comfortable, temperatures.   
Does anyone else share my desire to have a backyard which looks identical to the picture below?

We always have great conversation when we are all together, and tonight was no exception.  Royce provided valuable financial advice for my less-than-ideal medical school loan debt.

Dad and Mom certainly enjoyed having both "kids" home for the week.  They are just a couple weeks away from celebrating their 34th wedding anniversary!  How many people can say that?

My drink of choice for the evening was a mojito.  Delicious!

Fall colors are just starting to peek out in the trees along the riverbank.

Everyone is all smiles once the cocktails are flowing and appetizers are served.

Mom has a fond love for cheeses, and thus the "Cheese Plate" was an easy selection.  On a vegan diet, the closest thing to cheese is nutritional yeast, and thus this was an extra special treat.  There's simply nothing better than the creamy texture and rich taste paired with a cracker.  The plate also included dates, roasted nuts, and a balsamic jam.

Canoe considers their "House Smoked Salmon on a Crispy Potato Cake with Vermont Goat’s Cheese" to be their most popular appetizer.  After a few bites, we could certainly agree with that sentiment.

 So happy to have spent my birthday weekend at home celebrating with the other birthday girl!  Mom and I are frequently asked if we are sisters and I think this picture justifies that thought.  

In addition to genetics, the other thing we share is a love for bread!  All week we had been discussing our LOVE for the Canoe bread basket, and we strategically planned breakfast and lunch that day to leave room for several slices of the doughy goodness.  Unfortunately, I was so overtaken by carbohydrate fantasies that I failed to capture the bread basket on film.  The selections that evening were sourdough, cinnamon raisin walnut, olive, and chili-rubbed flat bread.  I indulged in a slice of each except for the olive bread.

As a starter, I selected a bowl of "Roasted African Squash Soup."  The temperature was gradually dropping and I simply couldn't pass on the added warmth from the soup. For my dinner entree, I selected "Cornmeal Crusted Rainbow Trout, Peruvian White Beans, Eggplant Hummus, Collards, Grape Tomato Vinaigrette".    The combination of the flaky fish, creamy hummus, and well seasoned collards resulted in a very well rounded entree.

As a birthday surprise, our table was presented with two desserts.  

Chocolate Grotto with Salted Caramel and Pretzel Dust 
Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae, House Made Cracker Jack 

Both were rich and decadent, but Mom's favorite was the ice cream sundae.


Our family evening out at Canoe was the perfect way to celebrate and enjoy time together.  Fantastic weather, gorgeous scenery, great conversation, fresh and flavorful entrees, and a sweet indulgence all combined to create a very memorable meal.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Birthday Vacation

Last I posted, it was September.  Now, here we sit in the middle of October.  Prior to last week, I didn't have much to share, as work had pretty much taken over my life.  There weren't many spectacular workouts,  meals were microwavable and anything but creative, and my normally positive attitude was lacking in the positivity.  Fortunately, vacation was well timed.

For the second year in a row, I arranged several days of vacation around Mom and I's birthdays.  Tuesday afternoon I hit the road and made the trek from Charlotte to Atlanta to come home to two of my favorite people + my favorite furry pal.

Immediately upon arriving home, Bailey and I took off for a walk in the woods.  She needed to expend some of her endless energy, and I needed a breath of fresh air and time to clear my thoughts and enter vacation mode.  After an hour of hiking, we were both feeling much better.  The remainder of the evening included curling up on the couch and falling asleep before 8pm.  Call me an old lady, but this girl was beat!

Thursday morning, I started my 28th birthday celebration bright and early by accompanying Dad on a hill run workout.  After six miles, we returned home to a hearty breakfast that Mom had prepared.  We enjoyed a frittata with spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes, fruit salad, and english muffins.

That afternoon we enjoyed some quality family time relaxing on the deck.  Grandpa and Grandma joined in the party and we enjoyed the beautiful fall afternoon.

My birthday dinner was simple, yet delicious.  Mom prepared a mixed greens salad topped with tomato, carrots, cucumber, avocado, and a drizzle of balsamic.  Meanwhile, Dad fired up the grill and prepared pizza crust.  I topped the crust with the toppings, and then back on the grill they went for a few more minutes.

Pizza number one included a base of herbs and roasted cherry tomatoes, followed by layers of sauteed mushrooms, fresh mozzarella slices, and roasted vegetables.

Pizza number two featured a mouth-watering caramelized balsamic onion marmalade,  marinated tempeh, and a Parmesan-Gouda cheese blend.

The dinner table was quickly silenced as we all enjoyed the feast.  In no time at all, we nearly devoured the entire bowl of salad and both pizzas.  

Gift opening followed, and I received all sorts of great goodies.  From Mom and Dad - a Coach purse, Pandora charms, and a Bosu Ball.  And from Grandma and Grandpa - a fall-themed decoration for my house.

Last, but not least, Mom and I made wishes and blew out the candles on our strawberry birthday cake.  It's hard to believe such young looking parents can have a 28-year old daughter, right?!

Friday featured a swim workout, shopping, and student loan drama.  Fortunately, we saved time for a game of dominos and 70s music that night.  It's a long story, but that combination originates from many Key's Crew vacations in the Florida Keys nearly 20 years ago.

Dad has been gradually progressing his training en route to running his first half-marathon on Thanksgiving.  As his coach, I've been providing him with workouts to hopefully pave his way to success.  Saturday morning, he had his longest run to date - a 10 miler.  Bailey and I very excitedly set our alarms to join him.  For a guy who two years ago couldn't run a quarter mile, he's turning into a real runner!  He was quite a rock-start and nailed those 10 miles, hanging onto a pace thirty seconds faster than his usual.

We returned home and greeted the birthday girl - Mom!  After enjoying a relaxing morning to herself, she was ready for her birthday breakfast.  She requested pumpkin pancakes, and given my pancake obsession, it didn't take much convincing for me to whip up a batch.  We topped the fresh pancakes with homemade applesauce, a dash of cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Yum!

Saturday afternoon we took a cue from Bailey and enjoyed lazy time.  Highlights included naps, reading, lunch, washing cars, and ceiling fan assembly.  

Finally, we gathered ourselves together and prepared for Mom's birthday dinner at Canoe.  I've been anxiously awaiting this meal since Mom initially sent the email reservation reminder a couple weeks ago.  Since this post is already getting quite picture heavy, I'll save the recap of our birthday dinner celebration for a separate post coming soon.

I can't believe that nearly sums up my vacation.  Where did the five days go?  It was a fantastic break and I loved every minute of the getaway, yet I can't help but wish it was longer.  I consider myself to be incredibly lucky to have such a close relationship with my parents and brother that enables us all to thoroughly love spending time together.  Next up - 1st Annual Belated Charlotte Thanksgiving!