Monday, May 31, 2010

Date Night

Tuesday night Matt and I had our first "date night" as a married couple. We recently realized that the only time we go out is with friends. Although we're always having fun, whether it be at home or with our friends out and about New England, we decided that we should go out with just the two of us every week. Last Tuesday was our first date night and I decided I would plan the evening. Dinner and a movie! We went to Cafe 47 for dinner and then strolled down Newbury Street stopping at JP Licks for an ice cream before ending at the movie theatre to see Iron Man 2.

It was cute. Matt kept confusing the night with our first date. "Not knowing" how to start conversations or if he could hold my hand. I quickly reminded him that we've been married for almost 5 years and this was just our first date NIGHT not our first date. Anyway, we got past the confusion shortly after we left our building so the rest of the night was just fun. It was so nice to get out of the house, away from life stress and just enjoy each other and living in the city.

I bought a Groupon a couple weeks ago for Cafe 47. I have been wanting to try this new restaurant for awhile and finally had a reason to get out of our neighborhood to try it. I'm glad we did! It was such a cute little restaurant. The restaurant is warm and inviting with exposed brick and an open bar kitchen. The jazz duo that was playing was fantastic. We loved every minute of our dinner.

I started with a house salad while Matt enjoyed the wedge salad.

I really wanted to try their pizza because with a short detour they can be on our way home from work. So I figured they may be a good place for an after work take out. Matt and I decided to split a slice of pepperoni pizza as an appetizer. It was good and filled my need for pizza but it doesn't replace our favorite pizza place, Figs.

I got the Atlantic Salmon for my entree. It came with a roasted red pepper sauce on a bed of sauteed spinach and vegetable risotto. The salmon was cooked well-done, which is just the way I like it. The risotto was perfect. It included vegetables that I would not have thought to put into risotto, such as carrots and peas, but it was delicious!! Last but not least the spinach was perfectly sauteed with massive amounts of garlic and olive oil. Yum!

Matt really enjoyed his entree as well! He got the grilled chicken kebab that came with the vegetable risotto as well.

Dinner was great and I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant. If we ever find ourselves near Cafe 47 around a meal time we will definitely come back!

After dinner Matt and I walked down Newbury street so that we could get dessert. We stopped at our favorite ice cream shop, JP Licks. I got a small coconut chocolate chip yogurt with rainbow jimmies in a cone. YUM! (Matt took this photo with his iPhone app, Hipstamatic, which is why it looks vintage)

It was a beautiful spring night for ice cream and a walk to the movie theatre! Matt and I loved Iron Man 2 but we pretty much love anything with Robert Downey Jr. It was the perfect first date night.

I can't wait to see what Matt plans for next week! It's his turn!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Matt and I are on our way to Maine for a couple of days this weekend! When I get back Monday night I'll finish blogging about my week which includes a great date night with my hubby, a trip to an expensive gym, and a delicious Turkish meatball recipe! Enjoy the wonderful 3-day weekend!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chicken Fajita Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Monday after work I decided that we were going to try a recipe that I had got in my work mailbox from our "LivingWell" group at my company. The recipe was for Chicken Fajita Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing originally from the LowFatLifestyle website. It was quick and easy to make. For the chicken I used up the rest of the frozen kebab chicken from my mom's graduation party. The seasonings of the kebab tasted very similar to fajita seasoning so it was perfect. You can see all of the yummy garlic and the caramelization.

While the chicken was cooking I assembled the salad. I decided to add some jalapenos to the salad for an extra kick. Yum!

This is the salad after the chicken and the dressing was added.

Matt's review of dinner: "It's good!" He helped himself to seconds too!
Lauren's review: Easy to make. Lots of good, healthy ingredients. The only reason to keep the recipe would be for the dressing recipe but the dressing was just okay in my opinion. Too much of a sour cream taste for my liking.
Final decision: Not a keeper

After dinner Matt and I took Bailey for a walk down the hill to Cafe Podima for some frozen yogurt. I ordered vanilla yogurt with Reese's Pieces mixed in. What I got was vanilla with Reese's Pieces, coconut, a little Oreo, and even a piece or two of pineapple. They apparently didn't clean their mixing machine very well before mixing my dessert. It was good but a little strange. Matt had malted vanilla yogurt with Heath Bar. His came out perfect so I made sure to have a bite or two to make sure it really was perfect. It was.

Chicken Fajita Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing


1 pound skinned, boned chicken breast tenders - cut into thin strips
Cooking oil spray 1 tablespoon lime juice dash of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
6 to 8 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 cup sliced green bell pepper 1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
1 small red onion, sliced into rings
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fat free cheddar cheese 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans - rinsed and drained (optional) 1 medium tomato - diced

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing:

2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup low fat or fat-free sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

To Make Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing: Combine all ingredients, and stir well with a whisk. Cover dressing and chill.

Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat until hot. Add chicken and sauté 8 minutes or until chicken is done and no longer pink inside and browned on the outside. Sprinkle with 1-tablespoon lime juice, dash of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro. Set aside.

Combine lettuce, peppers, cheddar cheese, tomato and beans and toss with chicken. Drizzle with cilantro lime dressing and serve with baked tortilla chips and your favorite salsa or pico de gallo.

Serves 4

Funday Sunday

Even though last Sunday flew by it was fantastic. It all started with breakfast. I made scrambled eggs and heated up a couple of Eggo waffles while Matt contributed Dunkin Donuts coffee and a donut. While we ate breakfast we started the Grey's Anatomy season finale. WOW is all I have to say! The finale was incredible! I think I cried the entire two hours. Once my eyes dried off and my face was back to normal I decided to go for a run.

Saturday I had tried to go for a run along the Esplanade only to discover a big festival along the river so my run turned into a slow "high intensity interval session", stopping and going around Boston. I was hoping Sunday's run would make up for Saturday's. For those of you who don't know I am not a runner but last year decided I wanted to be so I started training for a half marathon last year. My longest run ended up being 5 miles. I have always had issues with my knees but during my 5 mile run I bent down to itch my knee and felt a snap which was followed by a lot of pain. I shouldn't have but I pushed through the last half mile after the pop and I think I really hurt myself. I went in to my doctors office to see about a brace, exercise recommendations or to get a "prescription" to a physical therapist. What my doctor ended up telling me was that "some people just aren't built for running" and there was nothing I could do but stop running or hurt myself further. I went home and cried. The race I had signed up for came and went. I was still not running and was very bummed about it. After the encouragement of fellow blog runners, Caitlin and Betsy, found a physical therapist and set up appointments back in April. After seeing my therapist at Marathon Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine twice a week for almost 7 weeks I have been able to run pain-free. Sunday my beautiful run took me the farthest I have been since my injury, 3.5 miles! I know it's not a lot but it was a huge accomplishment for me. I was so happy! I know it has nothing to do with food but I had to share!

I took a quick shower after my run then headed down to Whole Foods to grab some essentials for our Lost series finale party that I was having with me, myself, and Matt. Dinner was a homemade pepperoni, jalapeno, and red pepper pizza. Then after the first two hour special we took a break and had dessert before starting the finale. I decided we should have something tropically inspired so I made a sorbet sundae. Mango sorbet with strawberries, kiwi, and coconut. Perfect for our little Lost party!

Regarding the Lost finale... was anyone else slightly disappointed with it!? I thought everything was going great until probably the last 30 minutes then it all went downhill. I expected more from these great writers! I may have thrown a little temper tantrum. Oh well...

I couldn't have asked for a better Sunday!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flank Steak with Coffee-Peppercorn Marinade & Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Last Saturday night we finally got together with our friends Julia and Chris. We haven't seen them since our trip to the Bahamas in December! They've been busy buying a home so we traveled North to visit their new, beautiful place! Here's the cute couple in front of their new, huge home with a fantastic backyard (that you can't see) for all of our puppies to run around in!

To celebrate Matt and I brought part of dinner, a marinated flank steak to cook on their grill and dessert. The entree was Flank Steak with Coffee-Peppercorn Marinade, one of my saved recipes from the FoodNetwork. For dessert I tried to make Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies from Epicurious.

With Julia's additions to my steak we ended up with a fantastic, well balanced dinner. Grilled marinated zucchini and summer squash with a delicious spinach and strawberry salad. We have very nice friends. They insisted that the steak was good. However, I finally got the truth out of Matt on the ride home. He agreed with my opinion of the recipe. Aside from flank steak not being the greatest cut of beef, the marinade sort of fell flat. There wasn't as much flavor as I would have liked. The two of us decided that it didn't earn a spot in our recipe box.

On to dessert.... unfortunately, I tried to bake the cookies " until center is slightly firm and top is cracked" per the recipe instructions. This resulted in the first batch of cookies to be cooked for another 6 minutes which is when I saw cracking. Then by the time they cooled they were burnt chocolate hockey pucks. I only had four cookies left to bake. This time I baked them for only the suggested time, 12 minutes, and they were still a little too crispy for my liking. I forgot to take a picture of the final product because I was in scramble mode trying to figure out how to fix my disaster. But here is a picture of the dough balls before they were pressed and baked.

Thanks goodness for Matt being my logical, calm side of my brain because he reminded me that we had half of the delicious sorbet still available from the night before. He saved the day! We all ended up having one crispy chocolate cookie and a scoop of sorbet for dessert. Matt and I decided that the chocolate cookie recipe wasn't a keeper but dessert reaffirmed our decision to keep the sorbet recipe!

Even though my two planned recipes weren't very good we all still had a wonderful time at dinner! It was so nice to catch up and see the big project that they've been working on since we saw them in December. We also got to see the Celtics win game 3 in the NBA playoffs against the Orlando Magic over dinner and drinks.! It was a great night!

Flank Steak with Coffee-Peppercorn Marinade


3 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound flank steak, trimmed of fat

Whisk coffee, vinegar, oil, sugar, garlic, peppercorns and salt in a glass dish large enough for meat to lie flat. Add steak and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

Heat grill to high.

Remove steak from marinade (discard marinade). Lightly oil grill rack (see Tip). Place steak on grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain and serve.

To oil a grill rack: Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies


3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons steel-cut oats
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter large rimmed baking sheet. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture and beat until moist clumps form. Mix in oats with spatula until evenly distributed (dough will be very firm). Add chocolate chips and knead gently to blend.

Using moistened palms, shape 1 generous tablespoon dough into ball. Place on prepared sheet; flatten to 2-inch round. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing rounds about 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until center is slightly firm and top is cracked, about 14 minutes. Cool on sheet.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Whipped Feta and Pepper Dip, Chicken Mojito with Mint and Lime over Couscous & Strawberry Margarita Sorbet

Last Friday night we had a couple of friends over for dinner. It was a beautiful warm, spring night in Boston so I kept that in mind while I planned our meal. I ended up picking Whipped Feta and Pepper Dip from Martha Stewart's Blueprint, March/April 2007 (I wish they still published that magazine!), Chicken Mojito with Mint and Lime over Couscous from Women's Health, and Strawberry Margarita Sorbet from Cooking Light, June 2006. I picked our appetizer because it had a little heat to match the day's temperature which helped me pick the entree and dessert recipes. There is nothing better than a mojito or a margarita on a warm day! It was a great menu and a great dinner party!

I served the dip with Kashi's TLC Crackers, Original 7 Grain. I unfortunately couldn't find peppadew's at any of my grocery stores so after doing some googling I decided to use my hot cherry peppers and a couple slices of jarred jalapenos. I made this dip the night before which let the flavors intensify while it chilled. Everyone thought the dip was great! It was such a huge success that I didn't remember to take a picture until the bowl was empty. An empty bowl is always a good sign though. The recipe is a keeper!

I made dinner right after we polished off the dip. It didn't take very long and was easy enough for me to read the recipe, cook, and talk with our friends which is usually a difficult task for me to do. I thought the flavors were great. The only flaw with the dish was how I prepared the couscous. I used the leftover chicken stock for the fluid, which gave it great flavor, but I let it sit longer than the box recommended so we ended up with overcooked, clumpy couscous. In the end everyone thought the dish was delicious except for Matt. He thought it was good but apparently doesn't like couscous. He told me that when I picked the recipe but I thought he must have had couscous confused with something else. Who doesn't like couscous?! I was wrong. I decided I'm going to keep the recipe and see if he likes the dinner better over brown rice the next time I make it.

Last but definitely not least was the Strawberry Margarita Sorbet. It was delicious! A perfect summer sorbet! For some reason I forgot to take a picture of this beautiful dessert?! Probably because I made Matt serve it while I sat back and relaxed. Everyone loved this dessert. It definitely earned a spot in the recipe box! Just be aware that the sorbet recipe takes awhile to make. I started making the dessert Thursday night at 9:00PM and I wasn't going to get to put the mix into the ice cream mixer until 12:30AM. I quickly decided to take Matt's advice and leave it in the fridge overnight and put it in my mixer first thing in the morning so that I could go to bed. Also, after it mixes it needs to be in the freezer for 8 hours. Definitely need to keep the timing in mind next time I make any ice cream or sorbet!

Enjoy the recipes!

Whipped Feta and Pepper Dip


4 ounces cream cheese
6 ounces feta cheese
10 small (or 5 large, about 1 1/4 ounces) peppadew peppers, removed from brine
1 teaspoon brine from peppers
1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon water

Combine the cream cheese, half of the feta, half of the peppers, and all of the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Blend them until smooth. Add the rest of the feta cheese and peppers and pulse until chunky. Chill.

Makes 1.25 cups

Chicken Mojito with Mint and Lime over Couscous


1 cup couscous
24 spears asparagus
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sugar
4 chicken breasts (or one per person), cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup light rum
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Cook couscous according to package directions.
Preheat oven to 400. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Chop asparagus into bite-sized pieces, arrange on cooking sheet, and coat with cooking spray (we used olive oil in a diffuser bottle). Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Roast 15 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and sugar. Saute about 3 minutes.
Add chicken and saute 3-5 minutes until golden brown on all sides. Add rum and broth and simmer 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper.
Put a bed of couscous on each plate, top with chicken mixture and asparagus. Garnish with mint.

Serves 4

Strawberry Margarita Sorbet


1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
1/2 cup tequila
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
2 cups hulled strawberries

Combine 1 cup sugar and water in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Pour sugar mixture into a medium bowl; stir in lime rind and next 4 ingredients (through orange juice).

Place strawberries in a food processor; process until smooth. Add strawberry puree to sugar mixture; stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or until chilled.

Pour strawberry mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spoon the mixture into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 8 hours or until almost firm.

Makes 4 cups

Monday, May 24, 2010


Wednesday and Thursday ended up being leftover nights. Wednesday night I used some leftover chicken kebabs from my mom's graduation party. I cooked up the chicken and added it to whole wheat pasta, marinara, zucchini, and pecorino cheese. Matt found the perfect words that described how we felt about this dinner. It was a pre-blog Lauren dinner. Good but nothing special. Sustenance.

Thursday was another pre-blog Lauren dinner. Leftover meatloaf sandwiches which are delicious and nutritious. I toasted deli flats, re-heated the meatloaf, placed the meatloaf on top of one side of the deli flat then topped it with marinara and mozzarella, finally I put it under the broiler until the cheese melted. It's a great way to use the leftovers from my meatloaf recipe and it's perfect for a busy night because it takes 5 minutes to assemble dinner.

Friday morning I brought in the basil plant that I was previously so excited about to give it to a friend. I thought maybe her place would get more sunlight than our condo. After showing my poor plant to my co-workers they informed me that my droopy looking basil plant was beyond repair. I killed it. It was a sad morning.

My morning was quickly improved when Matt decided we were going to Four Burgers for lunch! Lunch was just what I needed! I had a turkey burger with cranberry chutney and pepper jack cheese for lunch, shared a side of sweet potato fries with Matt and our friend, Sean. Then for dessert I shared a chocolate frappe with Matt. All better! My Friday was saved by a delicious lunch!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ciao to Chopping Meatloaf

A long, long time ago... in January... I made the decision to purge all of the recipes that I had collected over the years. I challenged myself to try a new recipe a day. This post laid out the challenge and explained how I was starting. An empty recipe box with the exception of 5 recipes that I knew were good enough for a place in the box. Well, last night I decided that I had to make one of those recipes. I figured my little group of readers may enjoy this recipe and I had all of the ingredients in the house. I made my version of the Women's Health Ciao to Chopping Meatloaf. Unfortunately, you can't find this recipe on their website probably because this was from one of their first magazines. This recipe was one of my first "reliables" that I probably made at least once every other week. I've even served this dinner to the majority of our friends throughout the last couple of years.

Last night dinner was no exception, it was fantastic. You can tell by the green and orange that you can see in the photo that I use a little more than the recommended amount of zucchini and carrots. I served the meatloaf with a side of roasted beets. I washed, peeled, and cut the beets into chunks. Then drizzled them with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. They went into the oven at 375 for ten minutes, then flipped them and put them back in for another ten minutes. Delicious!

Matt and I both recommend this recipe so the recipe was quickly put back into my recipe box.

Ciao to Chopping Meatloaf

Serves 4


1 pound (lb.) extra-lean ground turkey
1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
1/2 c. whole wheat panko bread crumbs (or any plain bread crumbs)
1/2 c. grated carrots
1/4 c. grated zucchini (I typically put 1 whole zucchini in the food processor and use it all)
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. dried sweet basil
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. salt
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray nonstick loaf pan with olive oil spray. Mix all ingredients. Press into pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until there is no pink.
*40 minutes was a little too long last night. I recommend checking it after 35 to ensure it doesn't get too dry*

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Mom's Weekend - Graduation Celebration

Friday night Matt and I made it up to my parent's house in time to have dinner with family! My sister was kind enough to wait for us along with my aunt and cousin who had just arrived before us from New Jersey. I didn't take any photos but there was ham, macaroni salad, and Matt made me make the pear salad again. It was a great dinner! The rest of the family (mom, dad, graya, and poppy) kept us company while we ate so we could all catch up.

Friday was an early night because Saturday was an early morning. We all had to leave the home at 9AM to get to the graduation site to ensure we got the best seats in the house, thanks to my mom's mandate. Her graduation was great even though it was freezing! The graduation took place in an outdoor music venue and Saturday morning was cold. Brrr!

So proud of my mom! Her gold tassel was because she earned honors. She was so happy!

Doesn't she look pretty in blue and gold?

After graduation my sister, Joce, and I went get a quick manicure and pedicure. It had been the first time that I have been to the nail salon in about a year. It was such a nice treat. After getting our nails done we walked over to my favorite ice cream shop, Bailey's Bubble, so I could get a kids vanilla soft serve in a cone with sprinkles. I ending up feeding three-quarters of it to the fish in the lake because we realized that we were running late for our combined celebration lunch. My cousin turned 9 years old on Saturday so it was a day of celebrating!

Here's the birthday girl

Lunch was pretty good but no one in the family can remember the name of the restaurant. Anyway here are some food.

Appetizers: pepperoni dip and fried green beans

My garden salad and Tuckerman's beer

Another cool shot of my beer and Matt's Guinness

The cheese steak that I shared with my sister. I didn't even touch the fries. Way too much food. Oh, and Matt was experimenting with a faux white background, light box, with a napkin. I think it looks silly. We're going to have to try this again.

Matt's steak tip salad which was delicious!

The view from the restaurant's porch

Again we had to get up early, Sunday morning, to say good bye to the family and then to help set up for my mom's BIG party!

It was the perfect day!

Getting ready

The dogs not-so-patiently waiting at the door (left to right, Bailey, Dudley, and Molly)

My mom got beautiful table arrangements

My dad hard at work, beer in hand, cooking up the food for the party

It wouldn't be a party with out a margarita and strawberry daiquiri maker! I forgot to take a picture of the SnoCone machine which was right next to this machine. My family likes to go all out!

Or lots and lots of alcohol.

The food:

Chicken wings

Kabobs. There was beef, lamb, and chicken.

Cheese and crackers

Shrimp cocktail

There was a lot more food too! Macaroni salad, potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french bread with a pesto anchovy spread, salad, chocolate cake, rugalach, and cannolis. My family probably had about 50 people stop by throughout the day.

The middle-aged adults (which was an age range of 23 - 33 years old) snuck out to our boat for a quick spin around the lake. We didn't make it too far. It was very windy which meant their were white capped, large waves which resulted in a very wet boat!

The lake

My sister and her friend braving it at the front of the boat

After our boat trip we went back to Bailey's Bubble for my fourth (shh!) ice cream of the weekend. Yum!

It was a great weekend! Lots of fun but too much food! I did get one run in with my sister but it was after an ice cream trip (or two) so it was very slow and painful. I won't be making that mistake again. If I'm going to get ice cream I'm just going to be lazy for the rest of the day!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend like I did! Matt and I took Monday off again so we have another short week. Hope it's not as busy as it was last week!

A Week in Review

Between taking Monday off to finish our home renovation project and all of the plans that we had for the rest of the week, last week flew by! I didn't even cook once! Crazy! This will just be a quick recap of our week.

Tuesday night we got together with our friend, Ian, who was leaving for Tanzania to train the locals how to test for and teach prevention tips for AIDS. I admire him! We hadn't seen Ian since February when we had him over for one of my first meal posts. So Tuesday was a great, late night of catching up over some home-cooked food. Ian made us a fantastic salad to start with spinach, candied pecans, dried cherries, pear, grated parmesan cheese and a balsamic dressing.

Then he made a home made pizza with soy and almond milk cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil, orange peppers, and marinara. It was the first time we had ever had non-dairy cheese and we both thought it was a great substitute! We didn't even notice a taste difference. Ian had to point it out halfway through our first slice. Yum! It was a week for firsts, first time to have almond butter and first time to have non-dairy cheese. So adventurous!

For dessert Ian had made chocolate, white chocolate chip cookies and plated it with some beautiful Dean & Deluca sugar cookies that he had received for his recent birthday.

I had also brought the ingredients to assemble a mock strawberry shortcake: macerated strawberries, pound cake, and vanilla ice cream.

It was a nice, long, indulgent dinner accompanied by great wine and fantastic conversation! We decided we need to get together more often than our current every three month rotation.

Wednesday after work neither of us were very hungry so we decided to just have a salad for dinner. Matt insisted that I recreate Ian's salad because he loved it so much! I had almost all of the ingredients except for the parmesan cheese and candied pecans. My replacements were regular pecans and blue cheese. I also made my own dressing with garlic, honey, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil. It was just what we needed!

Thursday night Matt had a guy's night out so I was on my own. We have some Boca burgers in our freezer so I decided I should just make myself a quick and easy dinner. I heated up the veggie burger, put it on a toasted deli thin with a thin layer of Trader Joe's Edamame Hummus (which is another first and amazing!) and a couple dashes of hot sauce. It was a very satisfying dinner. However, I realized later that night that I should have made myself one of my fish recipes instead of a frozen veggie burger. Oh well, maybe next time.

Friday after work Matt and I headed up to New Hampshire for my mom's graduation celebration weekend but more on that later...