#whatgetsmethrough

These past few weeks have been beyond brutal on this (LAST) rotation.  But, instead of blogging about how stressed and tired I am (and how uninteresting my life has been), I have instagramed the highlights of my days.  The moments that get me through, and that when added up, remind me that these weeks haven’t been quite so bad.

keeps.me.going.

keeps.me.going.

zona.fresca.tacos

zona.fresca.best.salsa.ever.

irish.car.bombs

irish.car.bombs

st.pattys.with.friends

st.pattys.with.friends

father.daughter.love

father.daughter.love

underrated.underappreciated.candy

underrated.underappreciated.candy

friday.morning.munchkin

friday.morning.munchkin

dog.walk.sunrise

dog.walk.sunrise

cant.beat.view

cant.beat.view

family.photo.while.brunching

family.photo.while.brunching

love.these.two

love.these.two

soft.kitty

soft.kitty

refreshing.peach.tea

refreshing.peach.tea

this.face

this.face

french.toast.carb.overload

heaven.on.a.plate

sushi.boat.

sushi.boat.

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One Sweet Day

I hope everyone had a great Valentines Day yesterday.  Whether single or with someone, it’s a great excuse to eat chocolate and drink wine!

We split Valentines into two nights, with Ryan taking me out for a nice dinner last night and Sunday night I will be cooking him a dinner.  What I’m making Sunday was intended to be a surprise but he already knows what it is, so I will just have to keep it as a surprise for you guys.  Can’t spoil a good blog post, can we?

Last night we went out to Mortons Steakhouse for a special dinner and oh my gosh were we blown away.  We had only been one time before, but we each ordered the same thing as last time because it is that good.  Ryan got the 12 oz. filet and I got the shrimp alexander.  In case you are wondering what type of  crazy goes to Mortons and doesn’t order steak, it’s me!  For those of you who haven’t noticed, I don’t eat red meat.  Not to worry- Ryan will be guest blogging on here for all of this blogs meat needs.

Back to this shrimp alexander.  Before attempting to describe something so heavenly, I’ll give you  a visual.

Morton's Shrimp Alexander

Morton’s Shrimp Alexander

I hope you all appreciate the picture because honestly, it is a little embarrassing to snap a picture of your meal at a very nice restaurant, especially when everyone around you is on an intimate date.  I think this should be an initiation act for rookie food-bloggers .  I feel more official now ;)

Now, my attempt at giving this amazing dish a description.  These large, succulent shrimp are wonderfully breaded (don’t believe they’re fried, not sure though) in the most perfect mix of seasoned bread crumbs.  The real out-of-this-world part is the sauce.  Now, normally I am not a “sauce girl”.  I feel sauces usually just add empty and unnecessary calories to a dish that already tastes great.  So, if I am raving about a sauce/dip and practically slurping it up (i.e. this tzatiki sauce), you know it is awesome.  The sauce is a Beurre Blanc sauce- a wine and butter mixture- that is heaven to your mouth.  It is buttery and creamy without tasting too rich, and it pairs with the breaded shrimp beautifully.

Ultimately, this shrimp was so amazing that I can say without a doubt it is the best shrimp I have ever had.  Therefore, I will most definitely be adding this to my “Best Thing I Ever Ate” page.  And for those of you who would love to try this dish on a special night out at Mortons but can’t bear the thought of not getting a steak- worry not!  This dish is available as an appetizer!  But I warn you- an appetizer portion of this will be nothing more than a tease to your tastebuds.

I do have to mention that, surprisingly, the side dishes and desserts at Morton’s do not overly impress me (for $12 a pop).  We tried the potatoes au gratin (which has bacon although not stated on the menu- annoyance #1), the truffle fries (good but can get elsewhere), and the chocolate soufflé (good but can get elsewhere).  In my opinion, you go to Morton’s for the entrees, plain and simple.

I know some feel Valentine’s Day is a silly, commercialized holiday, but I am a sucker for it.  Even though we should treat our loved ones special every day of the year, realistically life gets busy and stressful and that doesn’t always happen as intended.  Valentine’s Day is a good reminder to relax, appreciate the important ones in your life (significant other, parents, friends, pets, yourself), and most important of all, eat chocolate and drink wine!

My Valentine & I (photo not taken on Vday)

My Valentine & I (photo not taken on Vday)

All my favorites

All my favorites

How sweet was it of Ryan to get me all my favorite candy.  Can you tell I like “red” flavors?  And dogs?

IMG_0669

Misha's Black Bottom Cupcake

Misha’s Black Bottom Cupcake

And no occasion would be complete without Misha’s Cupcakes (read about my obsession here).  We finally branched out and tried some new flavors.  This one is is a black bottom: chocolate cheesecake cupcake with buttercream frosting.  Yum.

Now that is what I call one sweet day!

How did you all spend your Valentines Day?  What delicious treats did you eat?

Boyfriend-Approved Meatless Monday Recipe: Emeril’s Spicy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

The Challenge: introducing Meatless Monday to a meat-loving boyfriend.

I have recently been loving the idea of Meatless Monday, as it forces me to be creative in the kitchen.  My boyfriend, however, is a hard core meat lover.  I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the TV show Parks and Rec, but my boyfriend shares the same food attitude as Ron Swanson.  Anyway, the point being that Meatless Monday is something I kind of slowly snuck into his diet without him knowing.  I simply prepare a delicious meal on Mondays, don’t use the word meatless around him, and we are good to go.  The challenge here is that the meal has to be really tasty, otherwise my cover will be revealed!

Homemade sauces are an easy and healthy way to be meatless, which is boyfriend approved because the meal is so filling once combined with pasta.

I loved the caramelized onion and cherry tomato sauce I made last week, but I wanted to try something a little different.  I got this recipe from the Food Network website, and we really loved it.  So, I wanted to share the recipe and my thoughts/tidbits with you.

I apologize for the poor photo quality.  This sauce was not oily or glistening as the picture makes it seem.  I think it may be time to start saving money for a good camera…

Spicy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

Spicy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

You Will Need:

1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 (28-ounce) cans whole Italian plum tomatoes, with their juices
3 whole heads roasted garlic [see “How To” note below], cloves removed from peels

How To Roast Garlic

Roasting garlic is a very easy, albeit time consuming, cooking skill.  I had actually never done this before, but I was only one google search away from mastering the skill.

Rather than confuse you with a lengthy step-by-step, I highly recommend that you watch this video.

Emeril’s (Spicy) Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce Recipe:

[Yield: enough sauce to top about 3-4 pasta meals]

time: 1 hour 30 minutes + 30-40 minutes for roasting garlic

  1. In a large saucepan saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat until soft and lightly golden, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomato paste, salt, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, and basil, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you place them in the pan, and their juices. [Note: do not add the actual tomato juice that the tomatoes are canned in!]
  5. Stir to combine well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the roasted garlic cloves and stir to combine. Continue to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes longer, or until the flavors have come together.
  7. Serve over pasta and enjoy!

My Thoughts & Tidbits

  • This sauce has kick to it!!  We were pretty surprised by how spicy it was, and we like spicy things.  I feel that the hotness of the red pepper flakes and the hot sauce overpowered the roasted garlic taste.  Next time I plan on reducing (or maybe even omitting) the red pepper flakes and adding 1-2 extra cloves of garlic.
  • The spiciness of the sauce did die down when it was re-heated for leftovers the next day.  The sauce was delicious this way, as all of the flavors came together perfectly.
  • This sauce pairs very nicely with whole wheat pasta.  I feel like some sauces are not powerful enough to mask the sometimes cardboard-y taste of WW pasta, but this one does the trick.  So go ahead, make it healthy and use the good-for-you stuff.
  • Note that the roasted garlic portion is 3 heads, not 3 cloves.  Yes, this is a lot of garlic!  Yes, you do need it all!
  • As previously noted, crush the tomatoes and their juices for the sauce, but do not add the actual juices that the tomatoes are canned in.
  • This sauce would taste amazing with some spicy chicken sausage in it.  Next time I make this without a vegetarian meal in mind, that is definitely what I will add!
  • This recipe is a bit time consuming between roasting the garlic and the steps in which the sauce simmers.  However, you are not actively engaged for much of this recipe.

This sauce was fantastic!  It is healthy, flavorful, versatile, and inexpensive.  This is a great base recipe for vegetarians, meat lovers, boyfriends, and even kids.  Next time you need an easy yet hearty meal, try this fresh, homemade tomato sauce!