Monthly Archives

July 2011

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

July 28, 2011

It’s been hot in this part of the country lately. We’re talking majorly hot for Iowa, and pretty humid, too. But that hasn’t stopped me from firing up the oven and roasting some asparagus. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

Summer or winter, it doesn’t really matter to me. Roasting is an absolute necessity in my everyday cooking, mainly because it’s easy and requires very little hands-on time. But you already know how much I love roasting, don’t you?

I make this asparagus quite frequently. Last fall when Joey and I visited our aunt, uncle and cousins in Wisconsin, I made this asparagus to go with dinner. The four kiddos we were feeding were all under the age of 11 and this asparagus was a major hit! If I remember correctly, there were even requests for seconds. Now that’s a sign of a good recipe if I’ve ever seen one.

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

*1 bunch asparagus with the ends trimmed
*1/2 tablespoon olive oil
*1 clove garlic, minced
*Salt and black pepper 
*1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

*Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking pan with foil. Line asparagus on baking sheet.
*In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and garlic. Drizzle over the asparagus in the baking pan. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
*Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how thick your asparagus is. During the last two minutes of baking, sprinkle Parmesan cheese atop asparagus and bake for the remaining two minutes.

Happy Cooking!



What I Ate Tuesday…

July 27, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted a daily food log. Now that I’m back at work and settled into real life again, I figured it was high time I shared.

*2 slices whole wheat toast spread with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter each and 1/2 sliced banana
*Almond milk latte

Mid-morning snack
*Vitamin Water Zero 
*Taste panel day at work so I sampled a few small bites of a few different recipes.

*2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
*2 tablespoons honey-roasted peanuts
*1 oz. crumbled feta cheese
*6 baby carrots
*2 tablespoons light honey mustard dressing

*Fage 2% Greek Yogurt with Strawberry
*1/3 cup Banana Nut Cheerios

*24 oz. water
*1 medium pear

*Parmesan-Roasted Asparagus (recipe coming your way tomorrow)
*Sliced, roasted sweet potato with ketchup
*Boca Vegan Veggie Burger

*A small slice of pie leftover from our wedding 🙂

Question of the day: What new food discoveries have you made lately? Anything I absolutely need to add into the weekly food rotation? 


This Week….

July 26, 2011

Last weekend I…

1. Made a pasta bake filled with veggies, multigrain pasta and sausage (on the right, for him) in hopes that it would be a dinner success. Instead, it was flat, bland and dull.

2. Played every board game we own (well, those suitable for two people) with Joey over the course of two days.

3. Explored our new town while hunting down a disc golf course we spotted online. Joey played and Nutmeg and I walk alonside.

4. Took a glorious, hour-long nap on Sunday afternoon.

5. Started our search for a new church in the area. We were met with a little success, but I don’t think the search is over just yet.

Overall, it was just what we needed. Relaxing, low-key and it involved very little driving and it appears as if next weekend is going to be the same. Bliss!

Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend ahead?



Coffee Blondies

July 25, 2011

Call me crazy, but I’ve always been more of a vanilla girl than I am chocolate. It’s not exactly as if I would turn down a chocolate dessert (hey, I’m not crazy), but I just prefer the simplicity and clean flavor of a vanilla-centric treat.

Personally, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for blondies. They often get thought of as the brownie’s less-attractive sibling, but I dare to disagree. What they lack in chocolate they make up for in rich vanilla and caramel flavors.

Since Joey grew up in a house that frequently had a large sheet pan full of homemade bars on the kitchen island, I figured I would do my best to recreate that experience for him in our new home. And while this recipe makes a full jellyroll pan full of bars, they are thinner and lighter than a traditional brownie would be. If you want a more brownie-like consistency, pour the batter into a 13×9-inch pan instead and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Edited to add: Joey took one bite of these bars and said they were the best thing I have ever made. Ever! He continued to rave, saying the flavor was, ‘like the best things about kettle corn (salty, sweet and caramel-y) all in one bar.’ If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is! 

Coffee Blondies
Recipe adapted from
*2 sticks unsalted butter
*2 large eggs
*1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
*2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1 tablespoon instant coffee
*2 cups brown sugar
*1 teaspoon baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon baking soda
*2 cups whole wheat flour

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large jellyroll pan with butter. Set aside.
*In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, eggs, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, coffee and brown sugar. Beat in the baking powder and baking soda, followed by the flour. Stir until just combined.
*Spread mixture into the prepared pan in a thin, even layer.
*Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and center is puffed and golden. Cool on wire rack. Serve with coffee ice cream, if desired.

Happy Baking!



My Beauty Routine

July 22, 2011

This isn’t a post I ever thought I would be writing. To be completely honest, I’m pretty low maintenance and definitely find it hard to spend loads of money on expensive beauty products, no matter how wonderful they may be. But when reader Carla e-mailed me asking for my routine, I figured it would make a fun mix-up from my typical recipe-related ramblings. So, here it goes…

Neutrogena Naturals Fresh Cleansing + Makeup Remover  
Use: Morning and Night 
Lately I’ve been trying to move toward using more natural skincare products. Seeing as that our skin is our largest organ, it only makes sense that we try to eliminate the number of chemicals we use in regards to it. That’s why I was so excited when Neutrogena came out with a line of natural skincare products. For years, my dermatologist recommended I use Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, which I loved. This product is it’s more eco-friendly, natural cousin. For years I struggled with acne-prone, oily skin. My derm also told me that over-washing oily skin can make symptoms worse so I try and stick to only washing my face in the morning and before bed now. 

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer for Combination Skin
Use: Morning and Night 
In the past, moisturizing was one area I was seriously lacking in. I was never able to find something that didn’t leave my skin feeling greasy and didn’t cause breakouts. Enter another Neutrogena product (no, they didn’t sponsor this post). This moisturizer is lightweight and perfect for summertime. During the winter, I typically switch to something a little richer, such as Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief, which does wonders for parched winter skin. 

St. Ives Naturally Clean Green Tea Scrub
Use: Two to three times a week 
I was formerly a devotee to St. Ives Apricot Scrub but was always secretly worried that the scrub itself was a little bit more abrasive than it should be. About six months ago I picked up what looked to be a gentler alternative to my favorite scrub. The package claims it helps reduce redness in skin and also keeps skin clear of clogged pores and breakouts. I can honestly say I’ve noticed a difference on all three accounts. 

Clinique Perfectly Real Makeup 
Use: Daily
Goodness I LOVE this foundation. I’ve never been one for heavy makeup and prefer my skin to look natural and dewy so I require a lot from my foundation. Even though this particular product is fairly lightweight, I still work a few drops of my moisturizer into the amount I’m going to use on my face for a dewy, moisturizing look. It also makes my makeup last much longer, which is a major bonus. 

Clinique Blushing Blush Powder Blush in Berry Delight
Use: Daily
I’m a blush freak. If there was one beauty product I couldn’t live without, blush would most certainly be it, followed by bronzer. I know there are quite a few cheaper options out there for blush (hello CoverGirl!) but I keep coming back to this particular type since I use it every single day and it lasts forever. 

Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara
Use: Daily
I can’t get enough of this stuff. It doesn’t weigh my lashes down and keeps them clump-free. Naturally, I have pretty long lashes, but this mascara takes them to the crazy-long realm and makes me feel like I am wearing false lashes every time. Bonus: the wand is delicate enough to get those tricky bottom lashes, too. 

bareMinerals Warmth All-Over Face Color 
Use: In the winter when I’m looking pale 
We live in Iowa. The sun takes a lot of days off here and in the winter my skin doesn’t get many rays at all. It’s great for warding off wrinkles, but not so great if you don’t fancy looking like a ghost. This bareMinerals powder is my go-to bronzer in the winter months because it gives me natural looking color. 

Kerastase Conditioner Resistance Age Recharge Firming Gel Masque
Use: Once a week 
Helllooo beauty splurge! When my stylist first recommended that I use this product on my hair I almost dropped dead at the price: $41 for a small jar of deep conditioner? But I had already purchased the product before I noticed the price (big mistake) so I took it home and waited for it to work its magic. Quite honestly, it’s been the best thing I’ve done for my parched, bleached hair that I’m desperately trying to grow longer.