Friday, July 18, 2014

Big News.....





So as you can see by the picture above, things have gotten pretty exciting around here! We are so excited to be welcoming a little girl into our family sometime in mid-September.

I haven't been blogging much again because life has been spent getting ready for this one and well, just enjoying life! I also never blogged about the job I had for about the last 10 months or so. I ended up leaving the job last month because we've decided that I will be a stay at home mom while the baby is young. While I was still teaching dance classes, my other job was as an intern at a full service travel agency! Yes, they still exist and people still use travel agents for sure! The company I worked for was called TravelStore  and they focus on selling luxury travel with destination specialists that can send you anywhere in the world. They focus on escorted tours, cruises, and my favorite, personalized FIT trips (foreign independent travel).

The cool thing is, that this agency is part of the Signature Travel Network which is an exclusive travel consortium. This means, that the agents can use this network to get the client exclusive benefits on cruises, hotels, and resorts.

I really enjoyed my job, learned a ton, and worked with a great group of people! I got to go on a mostly paid FAM (familiarization) trip to Hawaii (my first time there!). Plus, I loved meeting all of the hotel, cruise, and tour suppliers that would always stop by our office. It didn't pay a lot but the benefits of the job were really great. I will do a travel journal of the Hawaii trip because we saw some great hotel properties! If you have travel plans in your future seriously consider contacting an agent at TravelStore!


BACK TO BABY NEWS:


Here are a few pictures:



I'm currently 31 weeks and so far I've been feeling really good! I won't being doing a ton of pregnancy updates because I'm already in the 3rd Trimester and this really is a food blog. However, I want to share some things because I know as a pregnant mom-to-be I have gone to look at many blogs to get ideas or advice! I might do a post of favorite things I've bought or used in my pregnancy so far!

Anyways, that's all for now!

Ciao,

Betsy



Monday, June 9, 2014

California Walnut's Virtual Salad Party!! #VirtualSaladParty



 I was invited again to participate this year in California Walnuts Virtual Salad Party! I can't say no to a summertime salad celebration. Especially, since today it got up to 100 degrees! It is going to be a hot summer. We were asked to make a dish from the following three chefs: Aida Mollenkamp, Joanne Weir, or Mollie Katzen. Last year I made Aida's Farro with Carrots and Shallot-Walnut Gremolata and loved the recipe. It was my first time cooking Farro, and doing this post reminds me I need to use it more often!

I love my all of my Mollie Katzen cookbooks, so this time I decided on one of Mollie's recipes. I chose to make her Watercress Salad With Browned, Pan-Marinated Tofu Strips, Shallots, And Walnuts. This salad was so yummy and the flavors were very refreshing.

What did I enjoy most about making this dish? I really enjoyed the way that you prepare the tofu. By using the method of pan-marinating, you really do get a nice chewy texture.

Was the recipe difficult to make? The only semi-difficult part was cooking the tofu. I'm still learning how to use my gas stove-top and the Med. heat was a little too hot at first so the tofu began to stick. However, once I turned it down slightly it was fine and continued to brown and release from the pan.

The only thing I did to change the recipe was to add Feta cheese at the end, which I think really added to all of the other fresh flavors.

This really is a fantastic recipe and I think it would be great for people who don't like or have never really tried tofu. I love the way Mollie Katzen describes her recipes too using words like "compelling" and "irresistibly yummy" Also, I found organic watercress at Whole Foods but they said I was lucky to find it because they don't always carry it. I guess you could always substitute the salad with arugula, spinach, kale or maybe dandelion greens? I guess I will have to make it again and try it with one of those greens!

Don't like tofu, no problem! I think you could easily adapt this recipe to make it with chicken or steak strips. We ate ours with a delicious loaf of rosemary & sea salt Cibatta bread. Who knew a tofu salad with a nice loaf of bread could be a filling, fresh summer Italian meal! (We knew because we eat salad and bread all the time for dinners!)





Watercress Salad With Browned, Pan-Marinated Tofu Strips, Shallots, And Walnuts


  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, cut into thin rings (rings separated with your fingers)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound very firm tofu, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 3 large bunches watercress, trimmed of the largest stems, and in a medium-large bowl
  • Very ripe and sweet cherry tomatoes – whole (if tiny) or halved (if larger) – optional

Crumbled Feta Cheese to sprinkle on individual salad servings

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a large, wide skillet over medium heat and wait about a minute. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the shallot rings and ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, or until the shallots become very soft. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. In the same pan add another tablespoon of oil, stir to distribute, and then add the tofu strips. Sprinkle in another ¼ teaspoon salt, stir to combine, and then spread out the tofu in a shallow layer. Let it sit over the heat without stirring for a few minutes – until the tofu browns lightly on the bottom. Stir to redistribute, and let it sit again to brown and firm up further. Add another ¼ teaspoon salt, and do this yet again. The tofu will become chewy and compelling.
  3. Stir in the walnuts, and the remaining salt. Spread it out again a couple of times, cooking and redistributing the mixture until it is fairly uniformly golden. Return the shallots to the pan and stir them in. When it looks irresistibly yummy, add the vinegar one tablespoon at a time (it will sizzle on contact), stirring to combine after each addition. Turn off the heat and let it sit to absorb for another minute or so.
  4. Add the tofu-walnut mixture to the waiting watercress, and toss to combine. Serve right away, topped with a scattering of cherry tomatoes, if desired.





 I hope you get a chance to try this salad out! Check out the Califonia Walnuts website too. Other participants posts will be linked and they have such amazing recipes on there as well. I was looking at it the other day and wanted to make every single recipe!


Ciao,

Betsy

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