March 31, 2010

In the Kitchen: orzo & kalmata olive pasta

Finally, I cooked something that I can post about! Haven't done an "in the kitchen" in awhile, I guess I haven't been hanging out in my kitchen enough lately :) This recipe is inspired by or should I just say, a knock-off? of a pasta salad I love from Whole Foods. I got a little tired of paying $11 a pound for! It's a cold salad which makes it perfect for having for dinner one night and then bringing it for lunch later in the week. It's also one of the pasta salads that is even better on the second day than the first, after all the flavors have melded together.

INGREDIENTS:
- Orzo Pasta
- Kalmata Olives
- Crumbled Feta
- Celery (chopped)
- Cucumber (cubed)
- Onion (finely chopped)
- Fresh Baby Spinach
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Olive Oil

This is definitely not a recipe that needs to be exact, adjust the ingredients depending on how much pasta you decide to cook.

I got a little over excited with pulling things out of the fridge...just ignore the tomatoes for now, they really aren't a part of the pasta!


Love Orzo! My Dad and Grandpa use it in one of our family's favorite home cooked Italian meals. Reminds me of home and family :)


PREPARATION: 
First, get some water boiling and throw the orzo in, you might as well put a lot in and make a big batch so you can have yum leftovers. While you wait for the water to boil and the pasta to cook, cut up the celery and onions. And make sure the spinach is washed and ready to go.

When the pasta is done and drained transfer it to a medium sized mixing bowl/serving bowl. While pasta is still warm throw in the spinach, this will cook it in a way and wilt it a little bit. You can add a little olive oil now too to keep the pasta from sticking.

Next, bring on the olives! Throw in as many Kalmatas as you can handle.


Next, bring on the feta! And add the celery, cucumber and onions too. But yum, the feta....


Now, add the balsamic, and mix it all up. Taste it to see how much more you want to add or if it's good as is. And that's it, all done!

And now you have dinner and a couple of lunches to brown bag! Also, the picture doesn't show it well, but the pasta will have a brownish hue from the balsamic. Don't worry, it's normal.


Cleary I have an olive problem. I ate this with one of my favorite snacks -- Mini bruschetta toasts with kalmata olive tapenade and cheese! Throw parmesan and mozzarella on top and melt in the broiler, so yum.





I'm sharing this recipe over at Trendy Treehouse for Sharing Ideas Wednesday! 

The Trendy Treehouse

March 26, 2010

Gearing up for the fifth third river bank run!



It's that time of year, time to shed the winter layers...and no I'm not really talking about clothes. I'm talking about some extra uh...insulation I packed on from winter hibernation! Yikes, gotta get rid of that stuff!

Good thing the River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, Michigan is perfectly timed so you can train and run and sweat and by May 8th you'll (hopefully) be ready to run and ready for looking good in Summer clothes! Nice timing.

This race is definitely a GR tradition, this is it's 33rd year. More than 18,000 people are expected to compete in the 2010 event which features the largest 25K road race in the country and offers the only 25K wheelchair racing division in the world.

I've run the 5K race, (there is also 10K) since 2006. I had a nice three year streak going there and then I messed it up last year by at the last minute deciding I just wasn't going to be ready for it. But not this year! I'm determined to run it and get out of hibernation in the process.

Flashback: The '06 run with my smudgie/bff/cousin. Please note this is post-race, we were tired and maybe a little sweaty, OK! Man I wish I had the digital pic of us when we walked/ran the race in 2002 or so. Classic. (Kate, at least that one's safe in our scrapbook! Haha)

And I certainly won't pretend to be training for a marathon here, that's hard work for sure! But for my level the 5K is the perfect length! Just long enough that it won't be a walk in the park for me (far from it at this point!), but short enough that I won't kill myself doing it. Maybe in 2011 I'll train for the 10K....

I slacked this week on the running, but I'm going to have to pick it back up tomorrow! According to the countdown I've got 42 days and 17 hours left to prepare. I'll be keeping you updated on the progress!!

March 25, 2010

Meet me in st. louis

How have I not blogged about this yet?? I think I just yesterday came down from this crazy euphoric high I was on because of -- yeah, that's right, Basketball! Who have I become?! Ha. I knew I had officially lost it when after our insane win on Sunday my first reaction was to actually start crying. Tears of um, joy... Wow. I've always known I bleed green, but I have taken this to a new level. And I like it. :)

Izzo told the team with about four or five minutes left to go, that if we won this game it would go down as one of the greatest games in Michigan State basketball history. He is a smart man. We won, and not only was it one of the best games of that entire March Madness weekend, it is definitely in the record books as one to remember (unless of course you hail from Maryland...).

Everyone has probably seen the replay of this, but you HAVE got to check out the last 38 seconds of the game. We were up for the most of the game, but with our best player newly injured and sitting it out Maryland started to catch up. Watch the miracle unfold. No idea how our big boy, non-ball handler-but still amazing, Green manages to dribble the ball all the way down the court, hear Lucious calling his name, pass him the ball (as amazingly Roe knows to duck out of the way) and then watch Lucious sink the shot for the win. I could watch this a hundred times. Oh wait, I probably already have...




Did you see the whole team pile at the end there?! Love it. And did you see Kalin (our injured best player) hugging Izzo? Here's an excerpt from an article on espn.com:

Lucas was the only player not in the massive pile of Spartans that squashed Lucious at the opposite end of the court following the sophomore fill-in's winning shot. Lucas hopped over to coach Tom Izzo near midcourt instead. "I told Coach Iz I loved him," Lucas said with a small smile. "He said the same back to me.

See you in St. Louis Spartans! Sweet Sixteen here we come!!!! I think you know what I'll be doing tomorrow night at 8:37 PM :)

P.S. Yesterday as the Spartans departed for St. Louis from the Lansing, MI airport the fight song played over the airport PA. So cool!!




Words for wednesday


Whew, busy day, I'm making my words for wednesday cutoff by 8 minutes! But goll darn it, you are unrepeatable and I wanted to put this up! :) Night blogosphere. 

P.S. Posting on my PC from Safari (apple internet program) Um...downright giddy to find it correcting my spelling within here like it does on my macbook at work. SWEET.

quotablecards.com 

March 18, 2010

PW Goes Hollywood!!

Reese Witherspoon is The Pioneer Woman -- New Movie!


This is crazy! How awesome for Pioneer Woman, Ree! I love reading her blog and find her to be so many things -- a source of good laughs over her confessions posts, an inspiration for beyond delicious cooking and a teacher in the ways of photography. Shoot, sometimes her posts even bring a tear to my eye! I will definitely be seeing the movie if this is in fact true!

The boys in green, ready to dance . . .

Alright, this is the point where I go from aboslutely loving Michigan State basketball to becoming obsessed! We play our first tournament game tomorrow at 7:20 EST. I'll be rushing home from work to head straight to a State bar to watch the boys. I'm a little nervous to see how we'll do, but I'm trusting that Izzo has whipped them into shape for the game. We play New Mexico State, a 12 seed. GO GREEN!

In preparation for "the dance," a little homage to my man Raymar Morgan. I sure am going to miss him next year. He's a senior so this is it for him at MSU. Really enjoyed this article from Detroit News writer Eric Lacy.

An excerpt: 
With possibly one game left in the senior's career, Morgan said Monday he realizes time is running out to leave a mark on the program.


"I think everybody just has to look themselves in the mirror at one point in time and just has to accept if they like the man that they're looking at," Morgan said. "I've done that. I've finally accepted who I see in the mirror."


Morgan has been on a tear lately with drives to the hoop and solid defense. I got a feeling he might make New Mexico State pay on Friday night with the same kind of approach.


#1 and #2 ...

It's a tradition for the seniors to kiss the S in the middle of the floor during their last home game.


Raymar waving to the fans, walking off the Breslin court for the last time.

I love this one. Really pulls at the heartstrings. When Raymar walked off the court for the last time, he hugged Izzo and Izzo got all teared up. It was enough to make this girl shed a few tears!
...
All images from msuspartans.com. Matthew Mitchell

Special delivery for Chi Town

I got a special delivery tonight...


And it involved Ice Cream! Lots of Ice Cream!

I grew up eating Hudsonville Ice Cream, it's a Michigan favorite! Especially with flavors like Mackinac Island Fudge! It's been made right in West Michigan since 1926! And the big news? Hudsonville Ice Cream is making it's Chicago debut next week! Beginning next week (just in time for Spring!) and going through April, Hudsonville 'scream will be sold at 122 Jewel stores in the Chicagoland area!


In honor of the debut, people throughout Chicago are hosting Ice Cream socials -- with everything supplied by Hudsonville! I couldn't have been more excited to see the truck pull up tonight! Although I admit, I was hoping for a serious semi-like truck, (I thought that would have been hilarious). They did make some deliveries in the big truck, but for my neighborhood and street, they needed the little guy, still very cool!

Needless to say, my freezer is packed and ready for my party on Sunday!



Sister's favorite flavor...  Michigan Deer Traxx. Do yourself a favor and grab a carton of this from Jewel next week, you will love it. Trust me :) And it's local! I love that, it's only a 2 and a half hour drive to the creamery in Holland, Michigan.

And one last thing, I am LOVING this special scoop I got from them for my party. How cool is this?!

More pictures to come after the party! Sweet ice cream dreams tonight :)

March 17, 2010

Words for Wednesday

Those Irish folks sure do have some nice blessings :)  A little something for St. Patty's Day...

March 15, 2010

Weekender

I went to bed last night after hearing our weather and expected another gloomy or even rainy day, so I was very pleasantly surprised to wake up to some sun and even blue sky this morning! It made for a nice end to the weekend --it also made me feel pretty peppy, so I got some things done around the house and was pretty productive, by Sunday standards.

*Can I just tell you this? As I sit here typing this out my glasses are barely able to be seen out of, so streaky and almost foggy. These are new glasses and I usually just wear them at night after I take my contacts out. Apparently they have some special, anti-refrac? lens or coating. Well, they are THE hardest glasses to clean. It is beyond frustrating. I just got out my special lens cloth and was cleaning them, but even the special cloth wouldn't clean them, what the heck?? Then I wet them and dried with the cloth again, no dice. And then I proceeded to repeat that process about 5 times...still foggy and streaky. I am extremely annoyed. What kinda of lenses are these?? This is ridiculous! Grrrr.

Alright, sorry, really needed to vent about that.

On to the good stuff. I went for a run by the lake this afternoon, as I got over there it was starting to cloud over, but it still felt awesome to be running outdoors for the first time in ages! And I always loving running with the water and skyline in my view, you just can't beat that.


Lake Michigan was pretty choppy today! A few shots at the beach...



Belmont Harbor

March 11, 2010

Blooms

I could not pass these up when I saw them at Whole Foods. They are the largest, prettiest looking daffodils I have seen that aren't planted in the ground! I could not get over how large the blooms were and I love having a little spark of yellow in my living room. It seems like I've been searching on and off to find the perfect yellow patterned pillows for my couch, for ages. I guess I'll have to keep getting my yellow via fresh flowers for now!


Can't wait until I see some of these blooming outside! And preferably, right in our backyard. My neighboor and I planted a ton of bulbs last fall. It took us hours dropping in what must have been 100 or more bulbs, all in the hopes of a beautiful Spring in the city! Fingers crossed that those babies make their way up pretty soon!

Words for Wednesday

March 9, 2010

vrbo

Have you guys ever used VRBO? Also affectionately pronounced, VerBo. I might be preaching to the choir here -- but just in case you haven't stumbled across it, it's an awesome site. I first heard about it a few years ago from someone at work who had used it for a vacation. I kept trying to repeat the web address to myself, vrbo, vrbo...it stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner!

You would not believe the database this site has, almost anywhere in the world you would want to go, has a vacation rental listed!


My first experience with staying in a place found on VerBo happened last week.  We rented a condo for our stay in St. Thomas. We initially found the place and contacted the owner about a year ago, checking for availability and asking a few other questions. There were so many places to choose from! But we were extremely pleased with the place we stayed in.

Of course I can't vouch for everyplace on VRBO but the owners of our condo were wonderful! They thought of everything! We felt right at home, the kitchen was stocked with all sorts of supplies, right down to the chip clips. It was a nice change from staying at a resort in a hotel room, we enjoyed having our own kitchen and a really comfy couch to plop down on. And plenty of space to spread ourselves and our clothes out!

Our condo was at a hotel/resort but many of the places had been converted into private condos. If you really want to check the place out, the listing is here.. And below is a shot (taken by sister of course) of the complex. We had three balconies! How nice is that?


You can read reviews of the rentals so you can (hopefully) get a true picture of what it would be like staying there. VRBO also offers a rental guarantee as well. After interacting with the owners I think you can get a pretty good feel of what kind of people they are too!

I think this would be awesome way to go to Europe. Sign me up for a villa by the sea in Italy and I would be set. How fun would that be to get a big group and rent an entire house?! Some places do only rent by the week, but others have daily rates more like hotels. You can usually work with the owners too. Our place in St. Thomas was very flexible, the owner easily worked it out with us to stay one extra day for a total of 8 nights.

It's fun to look up places and dream of your next vacation. Especially on a say, cloudy, dreary, not- quite-spring-yet, day. Happy Browsing!

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