Friday, September 21, 2012

Celebration Pumpkin Bread!

It’s a virtual Bridal Shower!!  Jen is our lovely host and she got us all together to celebrate the upcoming wedding of one of my favorite local bloggers…Megan!! 

Since we all know Megan is a fabulous baker, we thought it was only appropriate that we celebrate with some of our favorite baked goods!

Lucky for me (and Megan), this is the time of year when I have the urge to make one of my favorites…Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread!!


I’ve written about this recipe before, but it was originally a bread my mom made that I was obsessed with.  She gave me the recipe which I’ve included in this post, but of course I had to tweak it and make it a smidge healthier :)  You can find my version here



Happy (virtual) Wedding Shower Megan!!!   The big day is almost here!!  Wish you the best!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Back to Basics: BLTs!

I feel like it takes me so long to feel “back to normal” after a vacation.  This maybe partly due to the fact that I continue to have a half empty suitcase on my floor for a good week after returning…

Well this weekend I finally did all my laundry and even spent some time in the kitchen! 

Nothing too time consuming, but it was nice even to have a sit-down breakfast.


An old standby…French Toast!  I made it with TJ’s Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane which is a pretty dense chewy bread so it needed to soak in the egg mixture for much longer. 


With bananas, strawberries, real maple syrup and butter!


Great way to start the day.

The simple meals got even better as we approached lunch time. 

We had taken Bromley to the dog park, and on the ride home I started getting excited for BLT’s!

We had some gorgeous tomatoes that were ripe from the garden and what better way to eat them than with salty bacon, lettuce, and toast!


Also super excited to use the bacon from our latest Meat CSA!


This is hands down the best bacon I’ve ever had! 


Sandwiches ready for assembly!


Lightly toasted bread, a little smear of mayo, and the rest.

The key is to cooking the bacon on med/low….if you cook it too high, it starts to curl up and bend and that doesn’t make for easy sandwich assembly.  Cooking it for longer on med/low gets it just as crisp but still maintains its shape. 


Lots of bacon :)

And a deli pickle for good measure.


I savored every bite! 


Why are the simplest things always the best!

I kind of want another one right now.

It’s also been really great getting back to a normal workout schedule!  My legs are still sore from Saturday morning Crossfit:

7 time:

5 sandbag cleans 
5 back squats (at 80% of your 1 rep max)
5 strict pull-ups

The sandbags are 60lbs.  I can clean over 100lbs using a barbell but these sandbags are really awkward!

Tactical Sandbags(source)         

Then the squats!  I haven’t done a 1 rep max in a while, but my most recent 3 rep max was 140lbs so I used 110 for this workout.  35 of those…are hard. 

It was a good one and I am feeling it!

Oh and did I mention we had a little belated anniversary dinner Saturday night at Menton!  :) 

All in all a great weekend.

What’s your favorite sandwich???

Monday, September 10, 2012

Victoria Part 2: Butchart Gardens & Sea Plane

Monday is done and over with.  The first full week back at work after 2 short vacation weeks is going to be rough.

Although the nice cool weather today made it a bit more pleasant.  Feels like Fall around here and that makes me happy :)  Hopefully that will kick my butt in gear to start cooking and baking more!! 

Good thing I still have more to share from my trip.  Lets finish my time in Victoria, BC.  I’ve got a few more notable things to tell you about.

I don’t have pics from this dinner, but I have to tell you about it because it may have been the BEST meal of the whole trip.  It was a slightly chilly night in Victoria and none of us were in the mood for a huge meal after our afternoon tea.

We ended up at this French restaurant: Brasserie L’ecole mainly because I decided I wanted French Onion Soup :)  Which I had, but first we shared some mussels.  They were cooked in a tomato, pancetta, rosemary sauce with garlic bread crumbs.

I wanted to pick up the bowl and just drink that broth.  Best mussels I’ve EVER had.  The soup was also delicious, but I just had to tell you about this place and those mussels. 

Ok, so the next morning after breakfast we headed on a bus to a popular tourist destination:  The Butchart Gardens.

The Butchart Gardens was a private estate turned public site and now a National Historic Site of Canada.  Basically 55 acres of gorgeous gardens.

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Gorgeous right?  They even sell the seeds of most of their flowers in case you see something you want to plant at home.

The most exciting part of the trip?  Our flight back to Seattle in a Sea Plane!!  SO happy we did that instead of the ferry again!!!


Oh and guess who got to sit in the co-pilot seat?????

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Very cool.

The engine was a bit smelly and the sun was beating down on me before we took off, but then it was amazing.


I could see Mt. Rainier in the distance throughout most of the 40min flight.


As we got closer to Seattle the view got even better!

The space needle!



See Mt Rainier above the buildings??

Landing was crazy…it looked like we were headed straight for those buildings, but then he turned and we descended down to a lake in the city.

The next series of pictures are a bunch I snapped on the way down…

 IMG_5245 IMG_5247 IMG_5248 IMG_5249 IMG_5250 IMG_5251 IMG_5252 IMG_5253 IMG_5254 IMG_5255  IMG_5257 Made it!

Such a cool experience!!  You need to try this if you ever get the chance!!


Have you ever taken a sea plane or small plane like that?  Did you like it or was it scary???  Brian was a little nervous at first, but he thought it was awesome as well :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pacific NW: Victoria & Tea at The Empress

Helllloooo there!!!  I didn’t disappear I swear!  I was just on vacation, and leading up to vacation was craziness at work and getting ready for said vacation. 

Brian and I went out west to Seattle to visit my mom.  She is living there temporarily for work, so that leaves us a free place to stay right in downtown Seattle!

She also took the days off that we were there, and we had a blast exploring Seattle as well as heading to Victoria, BC for 2 days.

I’ll do part 1 of our time in Victoria :)

Thursday morning we took a ferry right from Seattle, through the Puget Sound and into Victoria, BC which is on Vancouver Island.


The ferry takes just under 3 hours, which put us in Victoria at around 10:30am!  


That’s the Empress Hotel where we would be staying that night.  One of our top activities we wanted to do while in Victoria was the well known afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel.

You already know mom and I love to go to afternoon tea, and we have been going every Mothers Day for years to various locations around Boston.  

After checking into the hotel, we set out to explore.




Victoria is a really cute city with lots of shops and very walkable as a visitor.   

Later on we went back to the hotel to change for tea!  This was Brian’s first afternoon tea.





We had the classic afternoon tea and each selected the type of tea we wanted to drink.  Mom and I both chose the Empress Blend.

First to come out was fresh organic blueberries with whipped cream




A classic tea service generally has finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and finally pastries and sweets.


The tower was served with 3 each of everything.


From left to right:  smoked salmon, egg salad, curried chicken salad, ham and cucumber, and a sun dried tomato tapenade.

I’ve never liked egg salad, but I actually tried it this time and wasn’t too bad!  Not crazy about it, but I liked it :) 

My favorite was the smoked salmon.

The best part, in my opinion,…scones


These were particularly delicious scones…light and fluffy with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam. 


For the sweets we have French macarons in the back, then a pear cheesecake, in front of that is a pistachio/chocolate checkerboard cake covered in marzipan, and little lemon tartlets up front. 


By this point I’m getting too full to finish but had to try everything.  They were all so good it’s hard to pick a favorite…although I am partial to lemon curd :)

We all had a wonderful afternoon



Can’t wait to share pictures from the Butchart Gardens and our Sea Plane ride back to Seattle…THAT was awesome.