Saturday, March 30, 2013

Snow Day

Hello from the green mountains of Vermont! Yesterday morning Matt, Riker and I got up literally before the crack of dawn to make the 7 hour trek up to my parents' house for the weekend. We were originally planning to come on Thursday night after work, but when Thursday evening rolled around we were both exhausted and not too sure we could handle such a long drive that late. Instead, we got up at 4 AM Friday, packed a bag full of yogurts, fruits and other snacks, and after two coffee stops/bathroom breaks we made it home by 11:15 AM. We wanted to get there nice and early since we had plans to be on the mountain skiing by early afternoon.

We actually had some discounted tickets to ski at Stowe, leftover from our friends trip to VT back in January, but I realized about 5 hours into the drive that I forgot the tix at home. Epic fail. Oh well. I really had my heart set on skiing, so after dropping Riker off with my mom, we drove out to Sugarbush for a half-day pass (Stowe is majorly expensive even for a half day).

I love Sugarbush, and this time we skied a mountain we haven't been on yet and it was absolutely beautiful. It snowed most of the time we were there, interspersed with rays of sunshine, and it was a perfect afternoon. Followed by a nice evening of dinner with the fam.

We met my grandma and parents at Harrison's Restaurant in Stowe, a cozy little underground place featuring gourmet American fare. My mom's been wanting us to try Harrison's for a while, so I was excited to check it out. Especially since we got the best table in the house, right by the fireplace.

We started with curried and white wine mussels and a bottle of red, both of which were delicious after spending the afternoon in the snow.

For my entree I selected the pecan crusted Ahi tuna with broccolini, brown rice and sweet potato puree. It was beautiful!

The tuna was perfectly cooked and I ate every last bite.

We would've loved to stay for coffee and dessert, but Riker had other plans for us. He was a bit of a crankpot and definitely wasn't in the mood to sit there any longer, so we headed home for the rest of the evening. I had brought back some hazelnut cookies, champagne truffles and speculoos chocolate from Germany for everyone, which made for perfect little sweet nibbles with coffee after Riker went to bed.

Talk about a great first day home.


This morning we had a leisurely breakfast at home before my mom and I left the boys at home and headed out for coffee and errands. A new coffee shop opened in town that she said had the best lattes, so I had to judge for myself.

She wasn't kidding. I had a Vermont maple skim latte, and it was fantastic. We sat and chatted over coffee for a while and had a nice time catching up. Eventually we made our way home and then the whole group ventured out to the nearby town of Montpelier for lunch.

I had told my mom if there was one place I wanted to eat this weekend, it was The Skinny Pancake. This small cafe is famous for amazing savory and sweet crepes, made with all locally sourced ingredients - even the meats and cheeses are from local farms. My kind of style!

I ordered the veggie crepe with spinach, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, basil and sunflower seed pesto, and Cabot cheddar, and I added smoked salmon for some extra protein. The crepe was crispy on the outside and the filling had so much flavor, I became an instant fan of this place. They also carried our favorite beer, Heady Topper, which was the icing on the cake. It's so hard to find, so you know we had to order one. ;-)

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing a little shopping, taking a walk through Hubbard Park (talk about some serious hills!) and taking a nice long drive in the afternoon sunshine.

Riker is teething and pretty cranky, so grabbing hot tea and taking a drive was actually the best part of the day - he likes sitting in the car and he usually sleeps. ;-)

We also found a farm that sells its own grass fed beef, and since Matt is really trying to eat healthier, sustainable meats, we stopped and stocked up on a cooler full of steaks and roasts for him to take home.

I nabbed the last carton of free range eggs too. Good find!

Now we're back home and making dinner, planning a relaxing evening in with a movie and some cards. Hope you're having a great holiday weekend so far!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sweet & Salty

And the winner of the Spodee giveaway is...

Lindsay! Please email me your address and I'll get your prize pack out to you.

So the rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful. Matt was exhausted when he got back from the bachelor party in Baltimore yesterday afternoon, so while he napped Riker and I hung around doing a little of this and a little of that.

Don't ask why his car seat is in the entry way. But I was cracking up when he grabbed his blanket and favorite book, propped himself in the seat and read to himself. Too cute. During the few minutes Riker read quietly to himself I was able to cross a big to-do off my list: new bathing suits! I have a few warm weather trips coming up, and I haven't bought a new bathing suit since the summer before I got pregnant with Riker. Yeah, you could say it was time. I ordered 3 from Victoria's Secret and am hoping one of them fits well.

I snapped pics of lunch and dinner, but they didn't look too appealing so I'll spare you the photos. It was nothing you haven't seen before - salad with avocado and cottage cheese for lunch, a stir fry for dinner. I did try a new kind of tofu I picked up at Trader Joe's last weekend, "sprouted tofu."

I'm not sure how it's different from regular tofu, but it was really firm and made a mean batch of ginger garlic tofu with veggies.


Matt is on spring break this week which means I have an extra set of hands with Riker in the morning, and I'm pumped about it. Normally I can't go to the gym on weekday mornings because Matt leaves for work super early, the gym daycare doesn't open til 8:30, and I have to start work by 9. With Matt home this week, I'm taking full advantage. I made a protein shake for the road and left the house at 6:30 this morning to start my day with some serious arms & shoulders strength training. Before I got busy with the weights, I got my heart rate going with a modified intervals workout based on a routine I found in my exercise folder. I liked this one because the "hills" were easy in the beginning but finished with a tough uphill.

Once I got home and showered up, Matt and Riker headed out for a fun day and I got started on my work to-do list. It was snowing today and looked so beautiful outside, and more than once I wished I had the day off so I could spend the day in the kitchen making warm, yummy things while staring out the window. But alas, the work must get done.

At least the day went by quickly, and before I knew it it was 6:30 and time for dinner. I'd asked Matt to bake off a spaghetti squash for me, so by the time I came downstairs it was cooked and ready to be glorified with some unusual ingredients.

One of the Recipe ReDux bloggers posted a recipe for Maple Spaghetti Squash for last month's Oscar theme, and I've been dying to try it. I stuck to her recipe for the most part, but used less olive oil and more maple syrup (from Vermont of course), added salt, pepper and a pinch of thyme, and swapped out walnuts for toasted pecans. It was really good - I loved the sweet & salty combo.

Riker's off to bed and Matt's busy in the garage brewing his first batch of all-grain beer, so I'm about to snuggle up with a piece of TJ's dark chocolate and my new book. I'm a few chapters into my next trilogy, Legend, and am pretty hooked so far. Gotta love those young adult dystopian novels! ;-)

I guess dinner got me in the mood for more sweet and salty, because I just realized the one chocolate I was seriously craving this evening was the caramel and black sea salt. Soooo good.

Have a good night!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Accidental Cookie Truffles

Ah, Sunday. It's been a pretty relaxing weekend so far, which is just what I needed after a hectic work week. I'm sitting here sipping on my special dark roast coffee, listening to John Mayer and watching Riker play with Butters and laughing his face off, thinking life is pretty good. Riker's been sick so often over the last few months, so when he's feeling well and running around laughing and jabbering and playing fetch with the dog, it melts my heart.

Yesterday after breakfast Matt and I split up for the weekend. His sister and her husband just bought a house on Thursday and they're tearing up floors and refurbishing everything, so he headed there to help with demo work and I headed to his parents' to handle cooking for the gang.

I would've like to help them with the house overhaul, but I was on Riker duty and definitely couldn't let Riker run around unattended in there. I figured the next most helpful thing would be to supply the workers with hot meals so they wouldn't have to leave every time they got hungry, or resort to ordering pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I did the cooking at Matt's parents' house so I could hang out with MomMom while I worked, and we had fun chatting together through the day. I made a big batch of pasta fagioli with plum tomatoes, celery, carrots, escarole, white beans, Lightlife soy crumbles, parsley and ditalini pasta. I reserved a bowl of the soup for myself before I added the ditalini. The stuff is super hearty even without the pasta.

After simmering it on the stove for a few hours, I transferred it to my new Stay or Go Crock Pot and drove it over to the boys. That way they could leave it plugged in and enjoy a hot bowl whenever they got hungry. Along with the pasta fagioli, I brought a hot loaf of crusty garlic & herb bread, a batch of peanut butter cookies for afternoon munching, and a basket full of plastic bowls, utensils, napkins and condiments (parmesan cheese, hot sauce, butter, salt & pepper). I felt like The Pioneer Woman bringing a hot picnic lunch to the cattle workers. All I needed was a flatbed truck and some cowboy boots. ;-)

For the cookies I used Julie from PBF's recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, which are a huge hit because they are so moist and peanut buttery; they're also pretty protein packed since they only consist of peanut butter, eggs and sugar - a good treat for hard manual labor. I accidentally burned the first batch since I wasn't used to the oven, but the tops still looked great, so I scraped them off, rolled them into balls and called them "cookie truffles." They were the first ones gone out of the basket!

Matt had a bachelor party in Baltimore last night so left town around 2:00 and was gone for the night, so after the lunch delivery Riker and I came home and spent the afternoon hanging out just the two of us.

He was still not feeling well yesterday and was teething again so his mood was in and out, but I enjoyed the good moments when they came. He doesn't eat much when he's not feeling well, so he went to bed early and I was on my own for dinner. I don't do fancy when I'm cooking for myself, so it was a hodge podge veggie bowl eaten curled up on the couch watching DVR'd CSI episodes. Matt hates CSI, so I try to catch up on them when I've got the house to myself for the night. ;-)

In the dinner bowl:

- A crumbled up Ligtlife Portobello Mushroom Burger (love these - they are made from non-GMO soy and pack 20 grams of protein!)
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Spinach
- Fresh broccoli
- Grape tomatoes
- Garlic and balsamic vinegar

Not half bad for a thrown together meal. I was super lame and kept falling asleep through my second CSI, and finally gave up and went to bed at 10. #Oldlady!


This morning's breakfast looked strangely similar to yesterday's.

Riker and I shared a cheese omelet for breakfast, but this time with sautéed broccoli, garlic and fresh basil. It was yummy as usual. I used two of my favorite Trader Joe's finds when making it - bagged organic broccoli florets, and pasture butter.

Strange for two reasons: first, I prefer not to buy pre-cut veggies because they're often a waste of packaging and are more expensive. But the Trader Joe's florets were actually cheaper than a head of organic broccoli, and I can grab handfuls of it when I need it without chopping and getting those little broccoli bits absolutely everywhere.

Two: I rarely use butter because it's not the healthiest of fats, but I refuse to use margarine...if I'm using anything, it's gotta be the real deal. Matt spotted this Organic Valley Pasture Butter Limited Edition at the market and we were intrigued. It's says it's "made in small batches with milk from pastured cows", only from May to September "when organic grasses naturally provide the highest levels of CLA, omega fatty acids and beta-carotene". So basically, it's from happy cows eating natural things. And honestly, you can taste the's so sweet and fresh tasting! I sautéed my broccoli in it this morning, and it gave my omelet a punch of great flavor.

I don't have much on the agenda today besides getting a workout in when Riker naps, and doing a few things around the house. Matt will be home sometime this afternoon so I'm looking forward to some family time later today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Munich Top Five

This Saturday morning started off in a typical and omelets. Matt whipped us each up an omelet stuffed with fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes and vintage cheddar cheese, and they were delicious.

As I was drinking my morning coffee I found myself wishing for one of the foamy cappuccinos I had multiple times a day while I was in Germany. The cappuccinos abounded! I got to thinking about all the things I loved most about Munich while I was there, and thought a "top likes" overview would be more fun than rambling through each day there, especially since I was working for much of the time, so here we go! My Munich Top Five.

1. The Charm.

This was actually my second trip to Germany; a few years ago I spent a week in Berlin attending a conference, and I really enjoyed the experience. I spent a few hours in Munich on that trip as well, but this was my first time actually getting to see the city, and I have to say...I loved it much more than Berlin.

It was so quaint and beautiful. I was told while there that Munich/the Bavaria region is very unlike the rest of Germany, and Germans often joke that when you go to Bavaria, you're going abroad.

Berlin had a very big city feel, but Munich - although quite large with an extensive subway system, huge airport, and Olympic stadium - had a smaller, college town feel I adore.

The architecture and streets were beautiful (that street above is where I stayed), and the main square at Marienplatz was open and bustling and reminded me of when I studied abroad in Florence.

Munich is also a hop, skip and a jump from The Alps, which you can see from various points and when flying in and out. They were breathtaking, as was the rest of the surrounding landscape. I'd love to go back and explore the countryside more, and it would also be nice to go during summertime when all the outdoor beer gardens (apparently there are over 2,000 of them!) are in full swing.

2. The people.

Everyone we met was so hospitable. The residents were not as fluent in English as the people I'd met in Berlin, which I actually liked more. Why should they be fluent in English? It was tough to find English menus or signs, so I did a lot of asking: asking for recommendations on what to eat or drink, asking for directions (one night we got lost for a good hour in the rain, and must've stopped to ask 10 people for directions). Everyone was so willing to help us out and wanted to make sure we enjoyed our stay.

The people in Munich are so nice they don't even check your tickets at the subway! The first time we rode, we purchased tickets and stumbled around really confused about where to insert them - there are no turnstyles or anything. Turns out, they work on the honor system. You just punch your ticket in a little puncher machine and it time stamps it, so if anyone checks they see when you bought it. Pretttty sure that would never work in NY.

3. The coffee! 

Europeans are serious about their coffee, which suits this java lover just fine. In addition to good strong regular coffee, cappuccinos and lattes were offered everywhere, even at the office and at my hotel...for free!

You better believe I grabbed one every chance I got - first thing in the morning before heading to meetings, again at the hotel breakfast, and again in the evening. Hey, foamy and delicious cappuccinos don't come along for free very often. Or ever.

And the cappuccinos at the airport restaurants were ginormous!

4. The food, of course.

 I wasn't able to eat much traditional German food being a pescatarian, but I did enjoy some local fish, and loved the traditional European breakfast served up at my hotel breakfast bar. Um, free hotel breakfasts pretty much never include fresh mozzarella and smoked lox in the U.S.

I am a huge lox fan so loved piling it up on top of house made chive cream cheese on locally made whole grain bread, with cucumbers to top it off. The yogurts were also pretty tasty.

I had to try at least one Bavarian pretzel while in Munich, and I was definitely not disappointed. There was a bakery down the block from my hotel, so I ran over at 7 AM the morning I flew out to pick up some freshly baked pretzels to take home. Gah, so good.

They were crunchy on the outside with just the slightest amount of salt, and super fluffy and doughy on the inside. They weren't hugely fat, and had a wonderful buttery flavor. I usually like a lot of salt on my pretzels, but the salt was not needed on these. I'm scarred now - the New York pretzels just won't do after trying one of these.

I also liked that it was easy to find healthy options, whether it was fish and spinach for dinner or fruit and yogurt for breakfast.

I did indulge in a few treats, including some truffles, a delicious Thai curry and basil pasta for dinner with clients, and of course a locally brewed beer or two, but overall I felt like it wasn't hard to stay on track.

5. The environmental consciousness.

On a daily basis I was reminded how environmentally conscious Europe is. The escalators only turn on when you step on them (I actually thought they were broken until someone pointed it out to me), the water comes out low-pressure, and you have to ask, and pay for a bag at the grocery store.

The stores just expect that you'll bring your own bags, and if you don't, well you're going to pay 25 cents a piece for them. I love that! I swear the cashiers at Shop Rite would give me a separate bag for every single item I purchase if I'd let them. I really wish the U.S. would adopt this policy. By the way, the beer up there is definitely for consumption at this house, but all those cookies and chocolates are being carted off to my office for my coworkers. ;-)

Things I wish I'd known

There are a few things I wish I'd known before going to Munich. Unlike Berlin, cash is king in Munich. Most of the cabs, and even a lot of the restaurants, don't take credit cards, and no one anywhere takes AMEX. I figured that out the hard way and had to make a cab driver cart me around town to find an ATM to take out enough cash to get me through the few day trip.

Also, after I figured out the subway system, I wish I'd never taken a cab to begin with. The cabs are expensive - it cost me 70 euro to go from the airport to the hotel, and the train would've only cost about 10 euro, which I found out on my way back to the airport when I was leaving. The train system was a little complicated (definitely asked for help there too, and some nice German lady bought me my ticket), but it goes literally everywhere and is very cost friendly.

And there you have it! I hope to return some day and spend more than a few days so I can get a better feel for the city, but it was really a wonderful trip for the short time I was there.

Now I'm off to relax on the couch for the rest of the evening. Hope you're enjoying the weekend!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Seeing Doubles

**There are still 2 days left to enter the Spodee giveaway and win a bottle of wine! Remember you can enter up to three times; if you like SSA on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, just leave an extra comment telling me you did so.**

A few people have contacted me about some issues with commenting and pinning from the blog, which should now be fixed:

Commenting: You need to click on the "comments" link at the bottom of the post, or click on the actual blog title, in order to leave a comment. The best option is to choose "Name/URL", and enter your first name and a comment, then post it. A URL is not required, and a Google ID is not required. If you're still having trouble, please email me at so I can help!

Pinterest: There was an issue with the HTML on the blog, preventing the Pin It button from working on recipe pages. I've fixed the URL link and the HTML, so the Pin It button should now work!


Yesterday was another double salad day.

After my trip I felt a little vitamin deprived and wanted to pack my day with veggies, so when lunch rolled around I made a big mixed green salad with carrots, cucumbers and broccoli, and a mess of tuna salad made with Sustainable Seas tuna, avocado, lemon juice and salt & pepper. I hate to admit it, but this sustainable tuna is growing on me. It tasted really good with the creamy avocado, and packed over 20 grams of protein. Filling!

Tuna + salad came again at dinnertime...

This time in the form of seared Ahi tuna steaks and California greens.

We bought the fresh tuna at Ahearn's fish market last weekend and stuck it in the freezer until yesterday. The tuna was so tender and flavorful (don't think I can ever buy it from ShopRite again after this), and Matt cooked it perfectly with a little coconut oil in the cast iron skillet. I seasoned it before cooking with salt, pepper and wasabi powder, then topped it off with a sprinkling of my new citrus fleur de sel from Munich. Aaaamazing.

Under the seared tuna steak was a salad bowl filled with:

- Mesclun greens
- Carrots
- Broccoli
- Cucumbers
- Chopped avocado
- Chopped fresh coconut (loving this as a snack lately!)
- A tablespoon of chopped macadamia nuts
- A simple dressing of coconut oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper

It was fantastic, and made me ache for summertime.


I was pretty exhausted waking up this morning...the jet lag and Wednesday's 22-hour day is catching up with me, and Riker is teething again so was wide awake at 4 am. I was in no mood to make an omelet and needed something I could take on the road to dropping Riker at daycare, so I went with another yogurt parfait.

This one was pretty similar to yesterday's, but I swapped out maple syrup for honey, added strawberries, and skipped the basil. Portable and satisfying. And the mason jar makes me happy. ;-)

Now it's time to get to work. I am so looking forward to a relaxing weekend, so gotta power through my to-do list on this Friday. Catch you later!