Recipe: Butternut Squash and Mushroom Quesadilla

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I love receiving magazines in the mail and reading them cover to cover, ripping out any tasty recipes, cute craft ideas, or workout regimens. One of my favorite features is the “homemade upgrade” column in Women’s Health magazine, where they put a healthy twist on popular dishes. Sometimes their recipes are a bust, like a cauliflower- and bean-based sauce that supposedly tasted like Alfredo. (I’ll save the calories elsewhere and eat real Alfredo sauce, thank you very much.) But sometimes they are super delicious, like the butternut squash and mushroom quesadilla that Todd and I made last weekend in between browsing furniture stores and wedding venues.

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Going Green: The Changing Nature of Environmental Education

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I’ve only blogged about it indirectly, but I’m pretty big on surrounding ourselves with nature and becoming conscious of today’s many ecological and social problems, including global warming, pollution (both on land and in the oceans), sustainable living, alternative energy, food production and processing, and food labeling. Although I haven’t yet managed to live plastic free (so cool!), I have been trying to use more homegrown produce from my garden, buy locally at the farmer’s market, read environmental news as often as I can, and keep my carbon footprint to a minimum. I do believe that each of us can do a little bit each day to understand and protect the earth—and promoting “green education” in schools seems to be a good way to do that. So I wanted to share a short essay I wrote on the topic for one of the classes I’m taking.

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My First Ever (Hopefully My Only) Engagement Party

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Nothing beats celebrating life milestones with family and friends, and that’s what I did this past Saturday. My parents hosted an engagement party for me and Todd in our backyard and decorated with balloons and streamers. My mom and Todd’s mom cooked all of the food; although I forgot to take pictures of it, I can tell you that it all tasted delicious, from the baked ziti and eggplant parmigiana to the glazed corn beef and roasted Brussels sprouts. We finished the celebration with a huge napoleon cake—my favorite! Because it gives me so much joy to think about how many people care about us and how nice it was to spend time with all of those people, I wanted to share some photos from the event with all of you.

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Recipe: Eggplant Parmigiana

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I’m always hesitant to attempt Italian dishes because my mom cooks them so well. But last weekend, after our long 17-mile bike ride, Todd and I decided that we really wanted eggplant parmigiana. Unfortunately, we’d never tried to make it before. After doing some online research and soliciting guidance from both of our moms, we managed to put together our own recipe. The eggplant parm (and the beef/veal meatballs we made on the side) both tasted pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. Keep reading for the eggplant parm recipe, and share your own variations if you’ve also cooked this Italian staple (which was the earliest version of a parmigiana, according to Wikipedia).

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Growing My Green Thumb: Learning about Orchids

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Did you know that there exist four times more orchid species than mammal species? I had no idea until I decided to do some research on orchids and how to best care for them now that I’m taking my love for gardening to work in the form of a little potted orchid. Sitting between my Corgi calendar and my Tiffany-inspired note set, it provides me with a sense of calm. I’ve decided to name it “Fuzzy” in honor of an inside joke I had with my former coworker (we previously attended BookCon together), who has moved on to a new job.

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Biking 17 Miles along Shore Parkway

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Now that I’ve overcome my fear of biking, I really wanted to get in a good bike ride this past weekend, before an autumn chill settles in. So, Todd and I decided to take a ride along the Shore Parkway bike path. The bikeway follows the Belt Parkway, which travels east from Brooklyn into Queens. We found a parking spot only one block away from the trail’s start (west of Plumb Beach, near Emmons Avenue). Then, we donned our helmets, took a preparatory gulp from our water bottles, and embarked on our nearly 17-mile roundtrip.

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