Hi!! I’m having such a lovely weekend, and I hope that you are too. I’m sorry I didn’t post yesterday, but, as you will see, it was a busy day. Plus, with this being my 100th post, I didn’t want to shortchange it. 🙂
I woke up Saturday to the sound of birds and… buzzsaws. It was warm on Friday evening, and I decided to sleep with the patio screen open to let some fresh air into my winter suffocated apartment. They are building a new hotel next door to my building, and I’ve been hearing all sorts of construction sounds for the better part of a year now. They’ve planted some ornamental trees and it looks like things are in the final stages. I’ll be glad when the racket is done!
I got up and headed over to the farmer’s market. Today, it looked like it usually does when it is in full swing with people, dogs and green things everywhere. There were lots of plants for sale, along with the usual treats. I was most excited to finally score some fresh asparagus!
I also bought some spring onions, a cucumber, another bag of the gorgeous lettuce mix I tried a few weeks ago, a bunch of pink lady apples, a thyme plant, a mint plant and a sugar snack tomato plant. It’s planting season out on the balcony, and I’ve had such good luck with the plants I’ve gotten at the market in the past. I had a sugar snack cherry tomato plant last year, and it did pretty well in my big balcony pot. I’m hoping for similar results this year!
When I was shopping, I had lunch in mind. Like many foodbuzz featured publishers, I received this package of pasta in the mail the other day to take for a spin:
I love wild mushrooms, and I was sure to love the taste of these! I thought about different sauces, but decided that, since the pasta was pretty high in calories, I needed to bulk up the meal with a ton of veggies instead. I decided that the beautiful spring green onions and the fresh asparagus from the market would be the perfect complement to the pasta.
I thought the onions were so pretty! I sliced up all three of these rather large green onions and sauteed them, along with a clove of garlic, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a teaspoon of olive oil and a spray of cooking spray. I know that a mix of olive oil and butter is common in cooking, but you get a mix of oil and spray more often in my kitchen. I cooked them low and slow for about twenty minutes. Just look at how bright and green they are!
While the onions were in the skillet, the asparagus was roasting in the oven. I love roasting asparagus, and I think the caramelized flavor really adds another element to the vegetable and to this dish!
Once my onions had cooked down nicely, and the aspara-guys had gotten a nice tan, I mixed the two together. The pasta was nearly done at this point. It only took four minutes for the pasta to boil, which was pretty awesome!
I loved the bright springiness of this dish, and I also knew that all of these veggies would help to fill me up since I was planning to eat 1/3 of the package of pasta instead of 1/2, which was the amount that the package determined to be a serving. I tossed the two together and ended up with this:
What did I think of the pasta? I loved the wild mushroom filling and the quick cooking time. It was definitely delicious. I do think that it is probably too high in calories (320 for six of the pasta pillow) for me to have on a regular basis. Even so, four pieces of the pasta with all of the veggies, preceded by an apple with cashew butter and followed by dessert kept me full for awhile.
Speaking of dessert, I tried something I’ve been meaning to try for awhile now:
I took one of the remaining pieces of chocolate banana snack cake out of the freezer, cut it in half, and added a layer of mighty maple PB before giving it a 15 second zap in the micro. It was a good as I had suspected, but then, it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and PB!
After all of that, I made a trip to Whole Foods and then followed that up with a really long, but good, workout. It included time in the gym as well as running outside, which I always prefer to running on the treadmill. I love the calorie burn I get from running, but I just don’t love running all that much. I have my moments where it feels really good, but it’s never my favorite thing. It’s always nice to be outside, however, and, since I haven’t figured out how to elliptical al fresco, I’ll keep running in my mix. 🙂
After that, I hopped in the shower and got ready to go and meet some friends for dinner at this place on Capitol Hill:
While I have certainly tried a number of places in DC since moving here in 2004, I have avoided going out as often as I would have liked because I find eating out to be such a challenge on a diet. Now that I’ve tried to take some of the pressure off, I find it easier to go out and to just try to make some smart choices. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to skip dessert, as you will see, but it does mean that I will likely opt for healthier choices in the other courses as a little bit of a compromise. It’s a treat, and one that I think should be enjoyed! I took photos of my dinner, but, since I was trying to be all stealthy and not use my flash, they look kind of weird. I thought I’d share them anyway.
First, I had the arugula salad with blackberries, goat cheese, almonds, watermelon pickles and a blackberry vinaigrette:
This was a nice big pile of fresh and peppery arugula topped with some of my favorite things. The pickles were sweet and had a bit of spice, but they were different than the watermelon rind pickles we used to make when I was a kid. Ours were cut into cubes, and were bright red in a cinnamony sweet pickle syrup. These were a bit more subtle and were really delicious along with the other components of the salad. I got the dressing on the side, of course, and it was really good. I’m pretty sure it contained fresh pureed blackberries, which would explain the slightly chunky texture, and it was perfectly tangy and sweet. I ate as much of the dressing as I wanted, but that turned out to be only around half of the little dressing container.
I should mention that there were some fun pull apart type garlic rolls before the salad, but they didn’t photograph well at all! They were tasty, and I love the interactive element of pulling them apart and sharing them around the table. Yum!!
For my main course, I had grouper topped with pesto sitting on a bed of buttermilk mashed potatoes and strips of carrot, zucchini and yellow squash. That was all topped off with a carrot cider broth:
It didn’t look nearly as neon in person. 🙂 I’m not the world’s biggest fish eater (aside from sushi…), but I’ve definitely expanded my fish eating horizons since moving to the east coast. I am honestly not sure that I’ve ever had grouper, but I am certain that I would order it again. The flesh was firm and tender, and the flavor wasn’t fishy or strong at all. It also didn’t hurt that it was sitting on top of a pile of mashed potatoes and surrounded by a sweet carroty sauce. The mashed potatoes are the thing that tempted me the most.
I’d checked out the menu on-line before going to the restaurant and done a bit of research. Nerdy? Prepared! I learned that, of the meats/seafoods featured on the menu, grouper was one of the lowest calorie choices ounce for ounce. Now, if you sit the grouper on top of, say, a stick of butter, it obviously doesn’t matter. This plate seemed reasonable to me, the portion wasn’t out of control, and, most importantly, I enjoyed it while trying something new. Maybe I saved a few calories by ordering the grouper, and maybe I didn’t when the accompaniments were figured in. I just think that making some sort of educated choice made me feel good about my meal. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that! I also learned that I like grouper, and next time I see it on a menu, it will be a contender!
Feeling pretty good about my choices, I decided that dessert was a must. That’s no surprise, right? There were some really delicious sounding things to choose from on the dessert menu including an almond pound cake, a bourbon pecan pie and some Pennsylvania Dutch style donuts. At the top of the list was a dessert called “Baby Cakes,” and the caption underneath said that they were the chef’s favorite. This was curious indeed! I asked the server to tell me about them, and, after hearing his description, I knew exactly what I wanted!
I almost always prefer little samples of different things over a big plate of one thing. The baby cakes were perfect for me! The little cake in the upper right hand corner involved bananas and a bit of fluffy whipped cream with a hint of mocha? I’m not sure, but it was good. The cake beneath it with the swizzle of glaze is a bit harder to describe. One of my friends had baby cakes as well, and she said it reminded her of coffee cake. I have to agree. I think there was some white chocolate involved and there was some raspberry on the bottom. It was good, and definitely breakfasty. On the bottom left hand corner was a delicate lemon cake with a lemon powdered sugar glaze. I love lemon cake with glaze, and this was one of my favorites on the plate! In the upper left hand corner… carrot cake. Oh my! Just look at the frosting. It was sooooo good! It probably gets my first place ribbon. Top and center was a very dark and rich chocolate cake that won my heart too. I had my baby cakes along with a nibble of another friend’s Pennsylvania Dutch style donuts, and I was a happy girl.
I would definitely recommend Art and Soul for an evening out. The atmosphere was very nice and comfortably casual, and the food was very good. The noise level was low, which made it perfect for chatting with friends, and the service was great too.
So, that about sums up my Saturday. I have some plants to put into pots today and a few more things to do to get ready for the week. I’m thinking about making some cookies today, but I’ll have to get the other things done first. One other thing I have to do today is to tell you about my 100th Post Giveaway!!!
I really enjoy writing my blog, and I’ve gotten to know some very cool people and found some awesome blogs since I started my own back in January. I can’t believe that I’m already at my 100th post! I wanted to have a little giveaway with some of my favorite things as a way of celebrating. Without futher adieu, I give you “Sweetie Pie’s Prize Pack:”
I’ve included a box of Kashi Honey Sunshine (my favorite “snacking cereal”), Lesser Evil Black and White Kettle Corn (one of my favorite snacks), a jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams PB from PB& Co. (often part of my morning chocolate and strawberry fix), some chocolate Jay Robb’s whey protein (since I’m a fan of JR, and thought I’d share the love), a jar of the orange fig spread that I adore mixed into my Greek yogurt, one of my favorite little Z bars, and one of my favorite Theo chocolate bars too. These are all things that I love, and I can’t wait to share them all with one lucky winner!! Here’s how to enter:
- For one entry, post a comment on this post telling me which of the items you would most like to try, or, which item is already one of your favorites.
- For a second entry, If you have a blog, link back to this post and tell your readers about my giveaway. Please let me know that you’ve done so in the comments section. If you do not have a blog, you can e-mail me at email@example.com, with the word “giveaway” in the subject line, and you will receive a second entry.
- Finally, you can earn a third entry if you have a blog and you add me to your blogroll. Just let me know that you did so in the comments section.
If you have been reading, but not commenting, now is your chance to say hello!! I’d love to meet you! I will announce the winner next Saturday, and I’ll be receiving entries until midnight on Friday evening, 5/1/09. I can’t believe it’s almost May!!
Now, I’m going to do a bit of balcony gardening. I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend!! Ciao for now.