Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mid-week Parties and Rescue Dogs!

One of the awesome things about having blogger friends, is blogger-friend parties :)  I mean, you know there will be an endless supply of delicious food and lots of stuff to talk about!

Tuesday night, Elina had a little party at her condo so that we could enjoy some time on her patio before it gets too cold!

There were friends, bloggers, and some blogger +1’s, not to mention a delicious spread of eats

warning: crappy dark iphone photos..IMG_1766


Off the top of my head, some of the delicious items were:

  • Elina made pepperoni monkey bread (hot out of the oven), and Russian cheesecake pops!  Both were amazing.
  • Shannon brought a savory cheesecake topped with homemade tomato jam.  That jam was delicious, we were brainstorming different uses for it :)
  • Cara made some zucchini roll-ups stuffed with goat cheese, pistachios, and mint.
  • Megan and Meghan picked up some tasty Whole Foods treats, such as slices of baguette topped with ricotta and sour cherry jam…this combo was AWESOME!
  • I made a quick batch of Feta and Roasted Red Pepper dip the night before, and just kept it in the fridge at work during the day.


It was a beautiful night and I had a fantastic time talking with everyone!  The one downfall of mid-week parties is being extra tired at work tomorrow, but it’s worth it sometimes :)

Big thank you to Elina! 

The other thing I wanted to talk about was my Fur-baby.

Tomorrow marks our 1 year anniversary of when this little bundle of love came into our life!  (yeah I jumped the gun on twitter…it’s actually the 30th, but that was a Thursday last year!)

I just wanted to that this opportunity to just remind everyone that if you’re thinking of getting a dog PLEASE consider a Rescue!

Before I started looking, I didn’t know that much about Rescue dogs, and so I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I think sometimes the word “rescue” or “shelter” dog gets a bad rep.  Some people think it means troubled dogs, or dogs with behavior issues, or the not-as-popular breeds.  Now, unfortunately there are many dogs out there that are troubled and have issues…not that their born that way, but the poor things ended up in bad homes and weren’t properly cared for.  Still even some of those dogs just need a little love and attention to become your perfect pet :)

On the other hand, there are also TONS of dogs out there that were surrendered for nothing that they did, but simply that their owners couldn’t care for them for some reason or another.  Sad but true.  A lot of people get pets when they really shouldn’t or aren’t ready.

Sure, it might take a little more effort than just buying a puppy from a breeder or a store, but putting in that extra effort can be incredibly rewarding.  Even better if you find a great shelter or rescue to work with…they want to make sure to match you with the dog that best suits your life.  They don't want to risk someone ending up with a dog that they might take back to the shelter.

There are also rescues for ALL breeds!  I knew I wanted a Shih Tzu or something similar, so I ended up working with a rescue that focuses on small dogs :)  Getting all Rescued and Rehomed was very thorough and worked with me until we found a perfect match… 

This was him right after we brought him home:IMG_5253

I seriously don’t think I could have asked for a better dog for me and Brian.  I’ll still never know why he was brought to a shelter, but the woman at the rescue found him there (at a high-kill shelter) and brought him home to eventually come to his forever-home with us.


He was house broken, calm, loves car rides, LOVES to cuddle, always wants to be near us, we can leave him home with free range of the house and not have to worry about him getting into anything, doesn’t chew on anything except his toys, and just makes me SO incredibly happy every time I see his little face.


Well anyways…enough typing.  Just wanted to say how amazing this year has been with our newest family member, and it makes me that much happier to know we saved him :)


I think he needs a furry sibling… ;)

IMG_0834 Dogs make me happy. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Brunch and Babies

My friend’s babies…sorry to disappoint any of my family reading ;)

I love brunch and breakfast foods.  I also love entertaining friends with delicious food!  However, other than Thanksgiving and our summer BBQ, I really don’t have people over as much as I’d like.

So, I invited some of my good friends over for a brunch! 

If you’re not used to entertaining, I’d say a brunch is a good way to start.  Most dishes are simple to prepare and there are lots of options that you can cook a head of time :)  Breakfast foods also tend to be cheaper too! 

I was even able to fit in a much needed manicure/pedicure…

(that’s Essie’s Glamour Purse)

AND a quick apple picking excursion, the day before the brunch!


It was the last weekend in September and I HAD to go apple picking!  It’s my favorite fall activity EVER.


Unfortunately the usual cool sunny fall weekends of previous year’s apple pickings, was replaced with a hot HUMID post-rain day!


At least the crowds weren’t bad.  But the humid stagnant air + being out amongst nature = mosquito fest 2011. 


Another bad equation to factor in:
Post-pedicure lotioned legs + mosquitoes = mosquito MAGNET! 

It was bad, I instantly got about 6 bites within 15 min.  So we hurried up.  Brian would fetch the apples and I’d stand with the bag constantly slapping those little bastards off my legs!



I felt much better when we were back in the car with AC, 1/2 bushel of apples, 1/2 dozen HOT cider donuts, 1 caramel apple, and a burger for Brian.  Oh and the extra strength Benadryl cream I was slathering on my calves ;)

Back to Brunch.

The Menu:

Mimosa’s (brought by a guest)
Other juices (guest)
Coffee and Espresso drinks (me)

Pumpkin bread and banana bread (guest)
Mini lemon poppy seed muffins (guest)

Baked blueberry French toast (me)
Egg Bake with wild mushrooms, shallots, thyme, goat cheese, and gruyere (me)
Tomato Basil frittata (me)
Roasted red and sweet potatoes with onion and rosemary (me)

Have guests bring drinks and apps.  In this case, I had some friends bring muffins/quick breads that people could snack on while they waited.


French toast casseroles like this usually have to be made a day in advance anyways so they can sit and absorb the liquid.  These are always a crowd pleaser

Serve with maple syrup on the side.

Egg bakes/baked frittatas or quiches can also be baked ahead of time and just warmed up before serving.

I baked this on earlier in the morning.


  Unfortunately potatoes can’t be cut too far ahead of time, so leave this until the morning of.


I bought some flowers, and my friend also brought a beautiful arrangement.

I also love using big bowls/vessels of seasonal fruits for decor (apple picking apples!)


I’ll be back with recipes.  In the meantime here are some of my friend’s adorable babies!

I couldn’t believe there were FOUR little ones at my house today!  Exciting and scary at the same time :)




First date:



So cute :)    

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  Once again, SO not ready to go back to work tomorrow…*sigh*

Speaking of brunch:  What’s you're favorite brunch food to either eat or make!?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes, Less Guilt

Not that there should be any guilt at all when consuming delicious pumpkin cupcakes smothered with cream cheese frosting.  However, I don’t know about you, but I do feel a little better when I know the dessert I’m enjoying isn’t loaded with excess sugar and fat.

But that’s just me.


Also apparently I’ve been living under a rock because I had no idea there was STILL an issue finding pumpkin!  Couldn’t they have figured that one out last year?! 

Anyways, luckily I found some cans of the organic stuff at my local market, and now contemplating going back to stock up…they didn’t have much.


Ok back to the cupcakes…

I needed to make something to bring to my friends apartment to watch the Pats game.  I tend to gravitate towards dessert, and this time consulted some of my “healthier” cookbooks for ideas.

I came across an old favorite from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave…her Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

My first thought was to just straight up switch the carrots for pumpkin (I was kind of feeling to lazy to shred carrots).  Then there were some more tweaks here and there.


Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Ellie Krieger

Makes 16-18 cupcakes
Note: The frosting makes more than you need, but I wanted to use the whole box of cream cheese.  You could cut it down to 6oz of cream cheese and 1 cup confectioners sugar.

  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup natural applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin
  • 8 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese (recommended: Neufchatel)
  • 2 T butter, softened
  • 1 – 1.5 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
    1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
    2. Combine dry ingredients (flour through spices) into a medium bowl, whisk together to combine and set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla.
    4. Mix in pumpkin.
    5. Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix together until combined.
    6. Line muffin tins, and fill about 2/3 to 3/4 to the top.
    7. Bake 20-24 min until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
    8. Cool!


    1. With an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, butter, and 1 cup of confectioners sugar.
    2. Add up to 1/2 cup more sugar until desired consistency is reached.  I like my frosting on the thicker side so it holds its shape when piped. 



    Once cool, frost!



    Why is cream cheese frosting SO good???  The best part is the little bowl of extra frosting in the fridge right now :)



    These were devoured pretty quickly by my friends :)


    Mmm pumpkin season has just begun :)

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    A Fall Weekend Hike

    Ok, so I know it’s technically still summer, but the weather was screaming FALL this weekend!  It was beautiful!!  Cool/Cold at night (in the 40’s…AWESOME sleeping weather), and then it would warm up to the high 60’s/low 70’s during the day! 

    I wanted to be outside!

    I miss hiking.  Brian and I used to go hiking/camping up in the White Mountains in NH every year in Sept when we were first dating.  I think it was after we got engaged that we were suddenly too busy for this trip.

    Either way, I wanted to find a place close by that we could have an easy 2-4 hr hike!

    The Department of Conservation and Recreation (dcr) website is a great resource for outdoor activities in Massachusetts!


    Wachusett Mountain is about 1hr 20min from Boston, and is most known for being a local ski resort.  However, there are also a bunch of trails leading to the summit for hikers! 


    Even broke out my hiking shoes I haven’t worn in years!


    Before finding the actual trails, we went up this utility road which led to a wind farm!!

    Those windmills are HUGE!!

    From there we broke off on a trail.


    Bonus if you have someone willing to carry the backpack :)


    It only took about an hour to reach the summit!  A relatively easy hike, but I was definitely feeling it in my legs. 

    Once we reached the top, there were people having picnic lunches, as well as a group of people watching a particular type of hawk migrate south. 


    I could only see a few “specks” way up in the sky but apparently it was a sight to see all these hawks flying south. 

    You could also see Boston!  It’s hard to see in the photo below but its in the middle off in the distance.



    Going down is always the worst for me…its just hard on the knees.  Next time I need to remember my hiking poles! 


    Hope we can get in another hike before it gets too cold!  My one gripe with this Mountain is the lack of “bathrooms”.  Even a lot of the bigger more remote mountains in NH have those vault toilets.  It’s just not fair how much easier it is for guys to go anywhere!!  I opted to “hold it” haha!

    After the hike we headed to Gardner Ale house as Brian’s beer app told him it was nearby ;)

    I missed photos of our food as I was STARVING by the time it came, but I did capture the beers.

    Sampler for Brian:


    Shipyard Pumpkin head for me..


    Bad choice.  I wish I stuck to their own beers…  I don't like the Shipyard anymore…tastes like Bud Light with pumpkin/spice flavors.  Not good.  I’ve tasted WAY better Pumpkin beers this year!

    Other deliciousness:


    Saturday included FINALLY trying the frozen Trader Joe’s chocolate croissants!  You need to leave them out overnight to rise, so we never think of it!


    Um.  Amazing.  Warm, chocolatey, flakey, buttery…SOOOO good!

    Sunday I whipped up a breakfast sandwich


    • egg
    • rosemary ham
    • gruyere
    • whole wheat British muffin

    Half of a cider donut (left over from Saturday…got them at Idylwilde farm)




    A sampling of cider


    Gave the pooch a bath


    And baked some cupcakes to bring to my friends house this afternoon to watch the game!


    Oh yes.


    More on that later.

    Oh and this little gem I picked up at Target…



    And just like that weekend’s over…