Soaking Up the Last Bit of Summer: Outdoor Movies & Shows

Eeeep – it’s been a while since I’ve posted! Happy Friday, y’all!

I’m so excited – even though I have to work late today, and extra some tomorrow, tonight we’ll be going to the outdoor amphitheater to see Jim Gaffigan.

If you have not watched Jim Gaffigan’s stand up, get on Netflix, search for him, and prepare to basically roll on the floor for at least an hour and a half (or watch this YouTube video clip). I love his brand of humor, he’s hilarious without being ridiculously vulgar or obnoxious, just incredibly witty and clever. [He also has a new sitcom I’m thrilled about].

I can’t wait! So, I thought I’d revisit some of my pictures from our last visit to the outdoor amphitheater when we had a packed up Thai Salad picnic, with a game of checkers before the movie! So much fun.PicMonkey Collage

I hope you get to have a great weekend and soak up some of the last of summer, fall is on its way!

What are you doing this weekend? Any plans to enjoy the last bit of summer? Or are you looking forward to fall? 

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A Day in Richmond, VA [Time Traveling & Things to Do]

So, I’m on day two of Whole 30. We’re short staffed at work, running with about 20% of the staffing we should have. One of my cats has some bizarre looking cut on her neck I’m worried over. I’m kind of all over the place, here. So my posting has been erratic to say the least – sorry!

Anyway, today I wanted to share our itinerary and day through Richmond, VA. I was completely blown away by the charm of the city, the historic buildings, the skyline on the river, the historic mansions and homes, and the hospitality of the people in the area!

THINGS TO DO IN A DAY:

Maymont Mansion & Estate Tour
Agecroft Hall Tour
Lavender Fields Herb Farm (We didn’t get a chance to stop by, but it was on the to-do list – I hope we get to go next time we’re in town! I love, love, love, love lavender.)
Monument Avenue

We started our day at Maymont Mansion, built in 1886 by James Dooley. The tour started in the “below stairs” part of the house, with a view of the servants quarters. If you spend any time watching Downton Abbey, you’ll be right at home imagining the lives of the servants there. There are museum like exhibits with things set up similar to the way they were when the Dooleys lived in the home. We then headed up to the main level where a tour guide took us around the different rooms of the mansion.

(You’ll have to forgive the grey and cloudy day. Despite the weather, everything was still so beautiful!)

The Dooleys’ style was, let’s say, eclectic (see here for what I mean). They had pieces from all over the place, different eras, all mixed in together. It wasn’t necessarily my style, but there was so much to take in and the tour really was informative and entertaining. After the tour, there were also beautiful gardens to explore, and an EXTENSIVE Japanese garden area that seriously felt like we stepped into Asia as we walked through the bamboo.

Afterward, we grabbed lunch and headed to Agecroft Hall. For both Nick and I, this was really the highlight of the day. Not only is it just a “cool old giant mansion” to explore, it is literally over 500 years old. It was built in England in the 1500s, and moved to Richmond VA in the early 1900’s. Only about a third of the house was reassembled here, but it is still absolutely enormous. The detail of the home is incredible, kept the way it was in the 1500s, complete with a tour guide explaining just how people lived 500 years ago. Even if you’re not a history nerd, the estate, the grounds, the home itself is incredible to explore!

We ended the day by walking down historic Monument Avenue. Every few blocks or so there are enormous statues to the greatest thinkers, activists, poets and figures from throughout history. But for Nick & I, we were really drawn into taking in the enormous mansions and grand homes, walking hand in hand down the tree-lined boulevard. It was just as cheesy and beautiful as it sounds. We also spent a ridiculous amount of time on Zillow on our phones, deciding if these were homes we could ever afford :-) [fyi, no.]

Later, we relaxed downtown at Tarrant’s Cafe where we had the best She Crab soup, ever. I’d highly recommend it if you have time for a nice sit down dinner! It was such a fun day, and I’d highly recommend Richmond as a place to explore and immerse yourself in history, culture, southern charm and good food!

Monday, Monday, Monday

The weekend flew by and here we are on Monday. I thought I’d give some time in review to the pieces of my week:

What I’m Watching: Mad Men. Netflix has fed the beast that is binge-watching. I’m in the middle of season three, and I can’t get over Don’s man-issues. I don’t know. At first I was so fascinated by their lives and the lies and the terrible awful world of 60’s advertising. But now I’m just kind of tired of Don being a scum bag… Still glued to it though.

What I’m Reading: (and thinking on) – A sermon on Feeding the 5,000 by NBW. I don’t think any summary I could give of it would do more justice on the topic than she already has.  “[But], as crazy as it is – I believe in miracles – not because I think I’m supposed to, but because I need to. I need to believe that God does what we cannot do.”

What I’m Eating: All the sweet, little cherry tomatoes that have come off my tomato plant! Yay for urban container gardening! I desperately miss my squarefoot garden and its bounty, but for the second floor deck of my apartment complex, this will do! (Plus, “lemon” cucumber from the produce stand nearby!)
DSC_0374

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I’m Wearing: (well, looking forward to wearing). I recently ordered these two dresses (here) and (here) for upcoming weddings. I’ve had mixed luck with online shopping recently, some things have came and fit like a glove, others I’ve had to send back. But it’s always exciting to come home to a new package by the door after work.

What I’ve Appreciated: The #morethanaframe community hosted by Cassie and Amber. An insta-post of mine made it to their challenge recap this week, and if you’re looking for a great group of authentic, encouraging, Spirit filled ladies, be sure to check them out.

What I’m looking forward to: It’s my cats “birthday”s tomorrow. Yep. Two years I’ve had the two, lovable, loving, adorable, pain-in-the-butt kitties. They’ve got so many “dog bakeries” for pups around town, but nothing for cats! My solution: this. (You’re welcome). I’ll let you know how it goes!

PicMonkey Collage

 

(^Also, loving the makeover to this sewing table we did last week!)

Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Pasta

When smoked salmon is on super sale, you buy it! And when you aren’t sure what you’ll do with it aside from eat it on crackers, you clearly decide to make a pasta dish.

This recipe is somewhat a play on a carbonara (note the peas), but instead of egg in the sauce, chives and cream cheese make up the bulk of the sauce with a little heavy cream and the smoked salmon stands in for the saltiness of the usual bacon.

The smokiness of the salmon pairs really well with the chives and peas, and overall this was such an easy and delicious dish!

Smoked Salmon Pasta Ingredients:

1/2 box penne (I used Gluten Free)
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz smoked salmon
1/2 cup frozen spring peas
1 6oz can sliced mushrooms (or you could use fresh, I just didn’t have any on hand)
1/2 of one sweet onion
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

Directions:

  1. Set a large pot of water, seasoned with salt, over medium high heat and cook penne according to package directions. Strain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, begin sautéing garlic and onions in a little olive oil over medium heat, for two or three minutes. Add in the diced salmon, sliced mushrooms, and chives, letting cook for about two minutes. Next, pour in the heavy cream and cream cheese, letting it all melt and begin to bubble. After it lightly simmers for about two or three minutes, it should have begun to thicken and make a nice sauce.
  3. Add the drained pasta into the sauce, and gently fold to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired, serve immediately, and enjoy!

Serves 4.

Smoked Salmon Pasta

Balsamic Roasted Beets with Caremelized Onions and Goat Cheese Créme

After a recent trip to the farmers market and being Pinterest-inspired by beautiful roasted beet recipes, Nick and I realized neither of us had ever made them ourselves or tried them roasted.

 I’ve never been a huge fan of beets, outside of them being from a can, diced up in a salad and covered with salad dressing. So, needless to say I was hesitant to know if I’d like these or not. Even more so with Nick, as he’s a bit pickier than I am!

  

The good news is, both he and I loved them. The goat cheese cream sauce really compliments the balsamic glazed beets and their sweetness so well. We’ll definitely be making these again soon! 

 
Ingredients

  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 medium sized beets
  • Olive oil (for drizzling)
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Lay out a piece of tinfoil and place your washed beets, whole, into the middle. Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Fold the tinfoil around the beets, forming a packet they can steam and roast in. Place on a baking sheet.
  2. Next to the packet of beets, do the same thing for the sliced onions, drizzling olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and forming a packet.
  3. Place the pan into a 375 degree oven to roast for 40-60 minutes. Keep an eye on the onions as they will likely roast sooner than the beets. The beets are done when you can pierce them and they are soft.
  4. Meanwhile, make your sauces. For the balsamic glaze, simply pour the balsamic and honey into a small sauce pan and let it come to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently. After a few mibutes, it will have thickened. Remove from heat.
  5. In a blender (I used the small smoothie attachment of my Ninja, but you could also use a food processor), add goat cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the heavy cream. Pulse until a nice sauce is made, and place in the refrigerator to keep until serving.
  6. Once the beets and onions are done, remove them from the oven. Let them cool down a bit before handling. The skin will peel off the beets extremely easily, but be careful as it may stain your hands! Slice them, and arrange on a serving platter. Drizzle on the balsamic glaze and goat cheese créme before serving. Enjoy!

Lemon Parmesan Crusted Salmon

  Lately, I’ve been trying to eat a little less red meat and incorporate more fish into my diet. So, there’s been a lot of salmon eaten!

  

There’s been Honey Siracha salmon, teriyaki salmon, ginger miso salmon, chipotle glazed salmon….. The list goes on. But the common factor in those recent recipes has been the sweet glaze on the salmon. So, I really wanted to try something different, and more savory. Inspired by an easy Lemon Parmesan crusted chicken I’ve always liked, I added some dill and chives to the sauce to compliment the salmon, and this turned out perfect! 

  

Ingredients

4 salmon fillets

1/4 cup mayonnaise 

1 tablespoon dried garlic 

1 tablespoon dried dill

1 tablespoon fresh diced chives

1/2 of a fresh squeezed lemon’s juice

1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

  1. Lightly grease a shallow baking dish, and lay the salmon in it.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, mix together the lemon juice, mayonnaise, dill, chives and garlic.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, cheese, and olive oil.
  4. Spoon the mayonnaise mixture onto the tops of the salmon, then gently press in the breadcrumb mixture to create a nice crust.
  5. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes at 425, until salmon is cooked through.
  6. Remove from oven and slice remaining lemon to garnish each salmon filet with. Individually squeeze the lemon if desired before eating, and enjoy!

{Gluten Free} Spinach & Mushroom Baked Ziti

Gluten Free Spinach & Mushroom Baked ZitiThere’s good news and bad news.

The bad news is I’ve had a lot of headaches in the past few months after eating.

The good news is I realized it only (mostly) happens after I’ve eaten a meal containing gluten. This means I know how to get rid of the headache!

The bad news  is that I really, really like foods with gluten.

The good news is that there are so many easy substitutes, that this really isn’t such a bad deal after all :)

Gluten Free Spinach & Mushroom Baked Ziti

This gluten free ziti is a product of my deep desire for a Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna, and the fact that the little grocery store by my apartment didn’t have any gluten free lasagna noodles. They did, however, have gluten free ziti. So, I figured, why not?

Gluten Free Spinach & Mushroom Baked Ziti

And the result, is so, so good! I shared this meal with a friend from college and she took home a bunch of leftovers she liked it so much. You could just as easily make this with regular ziti, if you’re tolerance for gluten is better than mine! Either way, it’s delicious!

Gluten Free Spinach & Mushroom Baked Ziti

{Gluten Free} Spinach & Mushroom Baked Ziti

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 box of Gluten Free (or not) Penne
  • 1 (12-ounce) carton small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried garlic
  • 1 bag fresh spinach leaves
  • 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, dived
  • .5 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 jar mushroom spaghetti sauce
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

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