Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Dinner/Commute Dilemma

You know those awkwardly-timed, post-work events on your calendar...the ones where it would be pointless to drive home in traffic because you would just have to hop right back in your car to get where you're going? Well, it's time for true confessions.

I love those little ditties on my calendar because it is the perfect excuse to head over to the Seward Coop deli for dinner and pleasantly spend an hour or so in the presence of happy people and yummy food. (Seward is a short, no-highway jaunt from my office.)

My usual order? The pesto turkey melt on whole wheat. Turkey, pesto, tomatoes, spinach, and cheese...all grilled to gooey perfection. 

Look at those wonderful melted cheese strings connecting the bread! Glorious. The sandwich comes with kettle chips and a dill pickle. Occasionally when I order this, a chip attaches itself to the sliced edge of the sandwich via the melted cheese. A turkey-pesto-melt novice may be inclined to remove said chip, but don't be adds a wonderful bonus crunch. I tend to love potato chip additions to most sandwiches.

As an avoiding-my-commute bonus, Seward has very affirming napkins. It's the little things, right?

What delicious places are you stopping at to solve the dinner/commute dilemma?

-The Delicious Dabbler

Monday, August 12, 2013

Anatomy of a Wrap

Tonight I'm making (assembling is probably more appropriate) a go-to lunch or dinner option when I want something that is quick, healthy, and scrumptious. 

T somehow managed to get us "volunteered" to work at the neighbor festival happening in the park across from our house. Our job is to supervise the kiddie bounce booth, ensuring a timely 2:00 minutes of jumping is had by all. Wish us luck?

Because of said kiddie bounce booth duties, this recipe was perfect for tonight.

To assemble this delectable ham and cheese wrap, I start with a whole wheat tortilla and add stone ground mustard and mayonnaise. That "base" is then topped with sliced colby jack cheese, ham, spinach, cucumbers (from our family garden!), and green onions. I especially love the green onion for the visual interest and the way their shape is a perfect match for this wrap when it is rolled up and assembled.

This post is short and sweet, but alas, the kiddie bounce booth awaits! Who knows....I might even jump in for a round of the cake walk after our shift.

What are you making for dinner tonight?

-The Delicious Dabbler 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dabbling in Dana Point, CA

Last weekend, T and I flew out to CA to visit my aunt and uncle who recently moved there. They are some of my favorite people in the world to just be with, so I was so looking forward to the visit...and being in beautiful CA was a total bonus. My aunt is also one of my greatest food and entertaining inspirations. She is passionate about food and can transform the most simple ingredients into a delicious and special experience.
After we arrived, my aunt picked us up at the airport and we headed to nearby Laguna, CA, to eat at Carmelita's. Chips, salsa, and black bean dip (a personal favorite), are served to every table and we supplemented that deliciousness with guacamole. The presentation was whimsical with plantain chips and cotija cheese. 
At the recommendation of our server, T and split a tacos platter complete with steak, chicken, shrimp, and queso fundido (cheese, pico, bacon, chorizo, and guacamole). It was easily enough for three and that queso fundido was lusciously indulgent. 

After lunch, we walked along the boardwalk (cue  The Drifters "Under the Boardwalk") in Laguna. I loved all the bright colors and graphic patterns of the umbrellas. 

After a post-lunch nap on the deck, my aunt and I went for a walk in a nearby preserve. Prepare for a gorgeous scenery photo montage. 
What is it about being next to the ocean that is so calming and serene?

And, because you already know that I find wildlife warning signs oddly entertaining, here's another gem for you. No goring this time, but a gem nonetheless. 
That night, we made BLT pizza on the grill. My aunt picked out the recipe because she knows that T has a particular love for bacon. The cheese and bacon "sauce" were rich and creamy and the fresh tomatoes and arugula were the perfect balance.
The next day we tried paddleboarding for the first time, and ate another delicious meal at Maro. It was so fun to get to try some of my aunt's favorite restaurants and get a sense for her eating experience now that we are in different cities. It was also so lovely to be able to relax outside after the last several crazy weekends. I got to read cook books and food magazines out on the deck while occasionally dosing off. It made me reflect and realize that I haven't been able to slow down and enjoy cooking as much as I love to in the last month. The beautiful recipes inspired me to refocus on making complete meals during the week and to start baking for fun again. Remember, "When in doubt, bake it out."
Our trip concluded with breakfast in the company of my favorite flowers. So happy. 
In the midst of a great chat about book recommendations with my uncle and T, I got to enjoy this amazing omelet. Bacon, spinach, cheese, and tomatoes enveloped in the fluffiest eggs. Add toasted olive bread with butter...perfect. In addition to being one of the most wonderful women I know, my aunt also happens to make the best omelets. How lucky am I?

Cheers to wonderful food enjoyed with the people you love, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lighter and Brighter

Two weekends ago, T was out of town for a bachelor-party-fishing extravangza, so I seized the free time to tackle my kitchen nemesis: dark red walls. T and I just celebrated the one year anniversary of buying our home, and now that grad school isn't standing in my way, I have slowly been making my way around the house and making the decor reflect our style. The previous owners were pretty into dark and enclosing colors, and my taste tends toward light, calm colors with as much natural light as I can get. 

Here's the red in all it's dark glory. In the great rush to begin freeing myself from the holds of the red, I nearly forgot to take a "before" photo (I was also apparently too excited to hold the camera steady). I have had a year-long struggle with this room because our longer-term goal is to turn the walls you see above into a large cabinet/island space that opens to our living room. I had a mental block about investing any money/effort into something that I knew eventually I wanted to take a sledgehammer to (you can sense the anger I have harbored for these walls). But, then I thought, 'Paint is cheap! Why don't you enjoy this space more even if you are in it for a little while?' So, to the paint store I went...and yes, I fully encourage self-talk about decor.

Two wonderful coats of paint later, and I arrived here. Talk about a transformation. Even after the first coat, when the red was still fighting its way through and the walls looked a little splotchy, I still liked it better than the red, and the hope for lightness and brightness motivated me through the second coat. 
I added an extra dose of love by hanging some family photos, centered around this vintage print from Sun Harvest Citrus. Remember this place? T's ice cream heaven.
I was so inspired by the transformation, that I finally got around to hanging our birch "me and you" art. These pieces were part of the head table decorations at our wedding and were made from birch trees cut at our family's cabin. This is a favorite saying of ours and T has it engraved in my handwriting on his wedding band (isn't technology cool?). I'm so happy to get to see it every day now, hanging above a picture from a cabin hike. 

At this point, you may be wondering...where is the food?? Well needless to say, on Sunday after the painting and picture-hanging was complete, I was in the mood for someone else to cook delicious things on my behalf. So, T and I headed to Wise Acres (I know, you already guessed that) and enjoyed another delicious meal. 

Per usual, I ordered the scone of the day: caramel cinnamon with peanuts. It was lovely. And super per usual, T stole many bites. 

T ordered the "Back to Bed French Toast," with a side of bacon. The perfect order for someone who really did need to go back to bed after surviving a bachelor party weekend.

I ordered the Bacon and Brie Burger (again), and it was as delicious as ever. T "shared" (or stole) several of the fries. 

What kind of transformations have been happening in your favorite cooking places lately?

-The Delicious Dabbler