That Good-Kind-of-Busy

Well hello there! Remember me? It has certainly been a while since my last update, but I guess that’s what happens when life just doesn’t seem to let up. In a good way, of course! Great things have been happening around here. Most recently, we celebrated the marriage of my brother-in-law, Caleb, and new sister-in-law, Miriam. And boy, did we celebrate. First there was the “destination shower” – aka, when the bride, groom, mother-of-the-groom, best man (my husband) and maid of honor (myself) do the traveling because we are the “out of town relatives” to everyone else in the family. Then there was a joint bachelor/bachelorette night out for the lovebirds. Come wedding weekend, my house was pretty much the headquarters since we live closest to the wedding venue, so it was full of joy and love as we hosted the rehearsal dinner and day-after brunch, accommodated our cousins, and served bridal-getting-ready quarters. Seriously though, it was a fabulous time and all the good-kind-of-busy one could hope for. Congrats Cay & Mir!

Fun foodie fact: this bride loves donuts and opted for jelly filled and Boston creme instead of a traditional cake!
And because I have to show off this dress and hairdo I absolutely love… oh, and of course my hot hubby and cute Grandma, another pic from the beautiful day.

Oh wait. This is a food blog, right? I suppose you might want to know what I’ve been eating for the past three weeks! Well, back at the bridal ( / groomal) shower my mother-in-law and I put together in New Jersey, we got lots of raves for the Mediterranean / Middle-Eastern inspired menu that included eggplant caponata; a salad of fresh local tomatoes, marinated olives and cubed feta; grilled chicken shwarma pitas with a tahini-yogurt sauce; grilled eggplant, zucchini, colored bell peppers, carrots and onions over herbed pine nut couscous; Smitten Kitchen’s Butternut & Chickpea salad with tahini dressing; and Moroccan spiced lamb and apricot kabobs.

After returning from Burlington extremely jealous of the farmers market there, I was happy to discover the Harvard Farmers Market in Harvard, Ma, about 40 minutes away but worth the drive.

Proof that I went: I even made it into the Harvard Post! Photo courtesy Wicked Local Photographer Orlando Claffey.
In addition to those carrots, I couldn’t resist the giant Kentucky Wonder Beans and gold and red grape tomatoes, which needed nothing more than a little olive oil, a quick toss in the grill basket and some cubed feta to become a simply delicious dish.
Similarly, a hefty pile of grilled fresh Italian globe eggplant, grape tomatoes and romano beans finished with balsamic vinegar, basil and fresh goat cheese made a dinner for one that reminded me just why I *heart* food.

And another simple variation, loads of veggies tossed with whole wheat pasta and cottage cheese. Cottage cheese? Totally. A simple way to add protein and a touch of creaminess to this vegetarian dish. Summer vegetable gardens may be trickling to their ends, but if you are lucky enough to pick another zucchini and wondering by this time just what the heck to do with it, I’ve gone one more highly recommended, simple and delicious ideas. I tend to forget about this one when I’m grilling since it involves the stove top, but this is truly one of my favorite ways to eat zucchini (and summer squash). What is it exactly? Zucchini “noodles” sauteed with nutmeg and toasted almonds. I simply use a zester to peel long, skinny ribbons of squash. Then just heat up a pan with a splash of olive oil. Add a clove of minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the zucchini noodles. Saute for just a few minutes – they don’t need much, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. At the end, toss in sliced toasted almonds.

Let’s see, what else? Oh! I celebrated my 26th birthday. Not wanting to totally spoil the hard work I’ve been doing with my diet and exercise lately, I decided to invite some friends over to nosh on a light-yet-filling spread of Asian-inspired hors d’ouevres. Since I loved these Thai Fish Cakes and Chicken Sate Lettuce Wraps with Pineapple-Jicama slaw so much, I really wanted to share them my friends. I rounded out the menu with these Cucumber Cups filled with Thai Beef Salad and some fresh summer rolls filled with shrimp, mango and avocado. The result? “mmms” and clean plates all around. I was really truly proud of myself for managing to entertain with a meal that was so guilt-free and full of fresh, seasonal flavors. For dessert, I kept the healthy theme going and also played a bit of a trick on my friends by making cupcakes using a low-carb, sugar-free, gluten-free recipe for chocolate cake from Lauren at the Healthy Indulgences Blog. You may be surprised when you find out about the secret ingredient (I will let you click over and find out for yourself!) but honestly, I think, and was told, this was one of the most moist and chocolaty of chocolate cakes.

Speaking of healthy baking, I’ve also been experimenting with some of my own recipes. These cupcake brownies you see are a from-scratch version of the popular “No Pudge” mix, healthified even more by using almond meal in place of some of the flour (to reduce carbs and add healthy fats) and Zsweet in place of sugar. Oh, and there’s a hearty swirl of healthy PB2 in there too! I’m not quite ready to share the recipe yet (it could use a tad more tweaking) but I felt like sharing the pictures anyway. Makes me seem even busier, right? I’m also working on a chewy, lower-carb pumpkin cookie with almond meal. Version 1.0 is complete, so watch for a recipe to follow soon.

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11 Responses to “That Good-Kind-of-Busy”

  1. 1

    Kerstin — September 13, 2009 @ 4:50 am Reply

    Oh wow, I don't know where to start, everything looks great! Happy belated birthday! I wish you would have hosted my bridal shower – yum!

  2. 2

    Kalyn — September 13, 2009 @ 9:08 am Reply

    You do look great in that purple dress! Fun seeing the photos.

  3. 3

    Leslie @ A Blonde Ambition — September 13, 2009 @ 11:04 pm Reply

    These photos are great! Love the dress!I really like your blog, just became a follower!

  4. 4

    beesknees — September 14, 2009 @ 2:51 pm Reply

    You look great! And happy belated birthday. The food looks great as always 🙂

  5. 5

    JennDZ - The Leftover Queen — September 14, 2009 @ 10:13 pm Reply

    Wow it sounds like good times all around, especially with all that good food! 🙂 Love that dress, you look beautiful!

  6. 6

    Miriam — September 14, 2009 @ 11:55 pm Reply

    Cara, you are an unbelievably good cook and were so amazing for all the weddin' happenings!! Couldn't have done it without you! Thank you for everything!

  7. 7

    Proud Italian Cook — September 15, 2009 @ 3:30 am Reply

    Happy belated 26th Cara, all your food here looks colorful, healthy and delicious! BTW, you and your dress look gorgeous!

  8. 8

    fresh365 — September 15, 2009 @ 8:24 pm Reply

    Cara- I was at the Harvard Farmers’ Market on sat as well. I’ll be back the first week of Oct. Let me know if you come by, as I’d love to say hello!

  9. 9

    Melissa — September 17, 2009 @ 3:38 am Reply

    Your dishes look phenomenal…if it wasn't so dang late, I would get up and make some of that for myself (assuming I could make it that well haha) Sidenote – your dress was stunning!

  10. 10

    Melissa — April 5, 2011 @ 1:14 am Reply

    Your dishes look phenomenal…if it wasn't so dang late, I would get up and make some of that for myself (assuming I could make it that well haha) Sidenote – your dress was stunning!

  11. 11

    beesknees — April 5, 2011 @ 1:14 am Reply

    You look great! And happy belated birthday. The food looks great as always 🙂

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