Monday, July 26, 2010

Search & Rescue

Bloggees!!! I have missed you more than you know. I'm surprised you didn't call the Search & Rescue crews. Want to know where I've been? Certainly NOT on vacation...unlike BfDeLuxe, who IS, for the record, enjoying the Greek beaches on a daily basis for the next 2 months (grrrr).

This past week I have spent every single day in new grad nursing orientation. Although exausting, it has been so fun also!! I have met some really fantastic girls who will make wonderful nurses on their units. Tomorrow is my first day on the unit with my preceptor for the whopping 12.5 hour shift. The same goes for Wednesday and Thursday. Talk about being tired! Needless to say, I have not had time to actually post on here! I have been taking the pics I wanted to use for previous posts but I never actually had the chance to sit down and write them. Don't worry, I hope that tomorrow after my shift I will be able to spend even 30 minutes posting some of my quick & delicious recipes you can use when you're busy working.

What have YOU all been doing these past couple weeks?? Leave me a message letting me know what has kept you busy this summer. Can't wait to talk to you all again VERY soon.

xoxo, Christina

Monday, July 19, 2010

30-min "make ahead" lunch

Today I woke up with a craving for eggs. This doesn't happen all too often because my cravings tend to be for sweet stuff. But as the day went on the eggs were still lurking in the back of my thoughts!! What's a girl to do?! Make egg salad of course!

First- Place 6 eggs in a deep saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over a medium-hot stove top. ONCE the water boils, the eggs will be completely hard boiled in 7-8 minutes.

Second- While the eggs are boiling away, chop 1/4 red bell pepper & 2-3 stalks of celery. Place in a bowl along with 3 tbsp Mayo, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and a few shakes of Cayenne pepper. Third- Once the eggs are finished boiling, rinse under cold water. This will make it easier to peel. Peel each egg, then chop thickly. You want your sandwich to have thick bits of egg, NOT puree.
Next, Combine eggs with the contents of the bowl. Gently mix with a wooden spoon. Cover, and refrigerate until you're ready to eat it!! I pre-made this today because tomorrow I start my NEW JOB!!! It's four days of classroom orientation before I hit the unit full force. I'm SO excited!! Nonetheless, I have four LONG days ahead of me and need something to keep me full. I have plans to put this egg salad in the center of a whole wheat tortilla, top it with fresh tomatoes & avocado slices, and eat it during my lunch hour.

Do you think the other new grads will mind if I stink up the classroom with the smell of eggsalad?! :) HAHAHA...

Have a wonderful Tuesday, everyone!! I'll be posting a great dinner idea when I get back tomorrow evening. Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cookies to the Rescue...

When all else fails, these cookies NEVER do me wrong. These are the most amaaazing vegan cookies I've had. You can really tweak them to include whatever "mix-ins" suit your cravings that day. Ready for these bad boys??

Let's get baking!!

What You'll Need:

2 cups of walnuts (if you prefer pecans they work just as well...or you can mix the two!!)

3 Tbsp canola oil (or whatever other mild flavored oil you have)

1/3 cup light brown sugar (I don't like my cookies too sweet-alter for your tastebuds)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups oat flour (or you can use whatever you have; I used a mix of white and buckwheat)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips (or if you aren't concerned about keeping them vegan, ANY chocolate works just fine)

How to Make:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a food processor, blend the 2 cups of nuts for about 20 seconds until fine. Add 3 Tbsp of oil and bled for 2 minutes, or until you get a "peanut buttery" consistency. Place this mixture into a large bowl.

3. Whisk together brown sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan on medium/high heat. Remove as soon as the mix begins to boil. (This doesn't take but a minute so stay close).
4. Pour sugar mixture into bowl with nut mixture. Add in vanilla extract & whisk until nice & smooth.

5. In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients ( Flour, Baking soda, salt, cinnamon).

6. Once well mixed, add into first bowl & stir until just combined.

The mixture will appear thick, don't worry...this is normal.

7. In a small bowl, combine raw oats with chocolate chips (or any other mix-ins you prefer). As long as the total sum of mix-ins equals 1 1/2 cups you're fine. I used one cup of Ghirardelli choc chips and 1/2 cup dried cherries.

Y'all...these Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips are insanely good. I'm not joking. TRY THESE, asap. They put semi-sweet choc chips to shame with their decadence. Also, when a chocolate craving strikes, you can eat 16 of these for only 6g of sugar...but I assure you, after 3-4 your craving will subside because they are RICH! I realize these ruined the "vegan" part of the cookie but I don't care...because they are delicious...AND i'm not a vegan :)

(Choc chips + Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats)

8. Add your mix-ins to the bowl with the nut/flour mix & stir with a wooden spoon until evenly combined. This is a little difficult due to the thickness of the mix. If all else fails, mix with your hands. BEST part... you could totally eat this raw if you can't control yourself because it's VEGAN! No raw stuff to worry about.

9. Take out two cookie sheets and line with parchment paper (or use baking spray). Using a mini ice cream scooper, fill up your baking sheets with even balls of cookie dough. I usually get at least 30-40 cookies.

10. Gently press cookies down to flatten slightly. Bake for EXACTLY 9 minutes & 30 seconds. This timing has been perfected by my trial and error. Any less and they'll be smooshy; Any longer and they'll be too dry.

End result...


I totally ate 4 of these back-to-back at 3am last night and then went straight to bed...and guess what?? I don't care!! Guilt free my friends. Not only are these PACKED full of whole grains & fiber, BUT they are also heart healthy with lots of nuts & dark chocolate. As we speak I'm going to eat one...for breakfast. Who said you can't eat cookies in the morning??

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sunday Family Dinner

Although over a week late, I promised I would post about last weekend. This past Sunday, my family & I had a big dinner to wish BFdeLuxe safe travels to Greece. It's always so nice when I can spend time with all my favorite people at the same time, under one roof. What a blessing.

Our Menu

Hors D'oeuvres: Feta,Spinach, & walnut-Stuffed mushrooms (from Anne over at
Greek-style bruschetta
Main Course: Homemade salmon burgers with lemon aioli mayo, BBQ ribs, & citrus Grilled shrimp
>Side Dishes: Potato & saganaki cheese skewers
>Dessert: Homemade individual very-berry cheesecake

Spending time with my bf & family at the same time is my absolute favorite thing to do. I know many families don't live close enough to do family dinners each week but it's definetely one thing I couldn't imagine my life without.

On a different note, BF made it to Greece safe & sound...OH! remember in my previous post how I said he is going there strictly for work and no play? I was wrong. He is DEFINETELY hitting up the Mediterranean waters each day (and rubbing it in my face). That little brat!! Gotta love him. I hope he'll send pics soon so I can post them!!

Have a great Monday, everyone!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Hey y'all. So much to catch up on. I have good (great) news & I have bad news. Which do you want first?? Ok good news first...I passed my boards!!!!! Hip Hip Hooray!! I'm officially Christina, RN. Thank goodness. Lots of prayers later, I did it. I really couldn't be happier. "New Grad orientation" begins next week then the following week I'm on the floor with my AMAZING preceptor. I'm super nervous about being officially responsible for other people's lives but I'm also so grateful that I've made it.

Ready for the bad news?? BFdeLuxe is leaving :( While I'm bringing home the hard earned bacon, he will be here...

Yes that's right...BF is going to Sparta, Greece for not one but two whole months. WHAT?!? Does anyone else besides me see something wrong with this?!? Ok fine, I'm bitter. But I think I can be. In all fairness, BF will not be laying out on a beach chair everyday for two months. His family has many, many acres of land filled with olive trees in the southern coast of Greece. These aren't just regular ol' olive trees. They are planted in the SAND. As you probably know, sand is one of the best filtration systems in nature; So basically, there olive oil is as "extra virgin" as you can get. And let me tell you, it's AMAZING!!!

Bf's family have recently (in the past year) started importing this heavenly oil to the United States after placing 2nd in an international olive oil competition that took place in California. SECOND PLACE!!! I'm pretty certain this year they'll get first. I have no doubt. And please, don't think I'm saying this as a biased opinion. For many months, I bickered with BF about how "olive oil is olive's all the same". But let me tell you, it's not. Not even close!!! Don't take my word for it, try it yourself. Currently they have stores carrying their product all around Virginia and parts of Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Best part- it's on tap!!!! This means you're always guaranteed to get FRESH olive oil...not something that has been bottled up and sitting on the shelf for Lord knows how many months.

If you love to cook and are passionate about quality products, I really hope you'll give this olive oil a try. I assure you it's the best one you've had. And it's completely pure, first cold pressed, and straight form the source. No mixing of different nasty oils here!! I think their webpage is just about finished, here it is!!!

(if it isn't up yet, PLEASE check back....)

Point of the blog is that BF is going to Greece to help his father with the gathering & processing of the oil. It takes SO much work. I'm hoping that with a little encouragement & positive comments on here from YOU, my awesome readers, he will agree to be a "guest blogger" and post some pics & stories of his trip.

I'm going to be so bummed here without BF but I'm hoping you all will keep me company. Now that i'm DONE DONE DONE with studying (well, at least until I start school again next summer) I will have plenty of time on my hands to cook & bake & post. I don't know how many of you actually read this blog because only 5 are actually followers...but I hope you know how much I enjoy doing this & how much I appreciate you all taking time to read my posts. Leave me messages & keep me company...61 days to go until BF returns. Let the countdown begin.

XOXO, Christina.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Typical Morning...

Cell phone, laptop, Starbucks, PB toast, Fruit, and my NCLEX book...yup, typical morning.

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend so far!! Stay tuned, BFdeLuxe and I are cooking a nice meal tonight for the whole family. Drool-worthy pics to come...

Simple Summer-time Supper

As promised from my last "Farmer's Market" post, I wanted to show you all what I did with the homegrown zucchini & squash I bought. This is a very common side dish to make using these beautiful vegetables in the Greek cuisine.

Doesn't it just look like summer?!?! So healthy & fresh. Ok, ready to make it?? Here we go...

First, place squash & zucchini into a pot of water, cover & bring to a boil.

-These will be completely "done" in less than 15 minutes after boiling. You just want them to soft when poked with a fork. Remove the veggies from the hot pot of water and place into a bowl to cool for a few minutes.

In the meantime...I'm going to prepare tonight's seafood- Tilapia!! I prefer to get these frozen from Costco. They make dinner time much easier. I wanted to make these in aluminum pockets. If you haven't done this before, you MUST. Not only will it keep your fish super juicy during the cooking process, but it makes for easy clean up too.

-First, lay out your aluminum foil sheets (one for each filet) & lightly coat with olive oil. This keeps the fish from sticking to the inside.

-Next, slice up some lemon or lime. I used lime this time, but it's up to you.
-Place one filet of Tilapia on each aluminum sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with plenty of S&P and paprika. Then top with 2-3 slices of lime.
-Now we make the pockets. Bring up all four side of the aluminum foil and make a tight seal at the top. You want to make sure they are puffy rather than flat. This allows the fish to cook without losing the juices.
-Bake these lovelies at 350 for about 20 minutes. The fish is done when it's flakey. While this is baking, let's get back to our vegetables. This step takes all of 2 minutes. Thickly slice your zucchini & squash, liberally coat with olive oil, and season with simple S&P and fresh lemon juice. I could eat these everyday.

-The fish was still cooking, and I knew I wanted something more with dinner, so I popped a couple sweet potatoes in the microwave for 6 minutes. (Sidenote-I really don't like the microwave. It's not a healthy form of cooking...but when the craving strikes for sweet potatoes I will not wait an hour for it to bake). -My favorite way to eat 'em, a little butter + a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Guess what? The fish is done...

-Serve this with its juices. Will not disappoint!! Look at the finished product:
- I hope you take some time to try out this yummy meal. You can tweak the fish seasonings to your liking. You could use S&P and oregano with lemon, or make it cajun style!!

Kali Orexi!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Weekend recap

Hey y'all!! Sorry for the halt in blog action. Between the holiday weekend, studying for my boards, and wrapping up a fun wedding weekend, I haven't had much time to blog!!! I hope you all had a wonderful & safe 4th of July.

With that said, let me catch you up on some weekend fun & good food. Living in the DC area has so many benefits such as amazing shopping, food variety, conveniences, 1000 Starbucks withing a mile, etc...but one of my favorite things is that we have access to over 100 wineries just in under a 2-hour drive!! My parents and I packed up and drove to Rappahanock Cellars this weekend. If you're looking for a place to get away from all outside communication, this is it. Located in the beautiful Front Royal area, this winery is a gem!!
We tasted 3 reds & 5 whites + 2 amazing dessert wines. I must say, of the 10 wines I tried, I really was very impressed by at least 7 of them. My wine palate is still in the growing process so I'm sure you Wine-o's would have loved all 10. We ended up purchasing this lovely bottle:
-What makes the Noblesse Viognier different from their regular Viognier is that it is fermented & aged completely in stainless steel barrels. Their traditional Viognier is aged partially in French oak barrels AND in stainless steel. I absolutely LOVED it!! It initially gives off a citrusy scent of lemons & oranges but when you take that first sip you taste fresh sweetness. If you don't live near the metropolitan area you can order this bottle on their website. Check it out!

-How cute is this little barn area?? There are tables & chairs where people can relax, picnic & enjoy some wine.

-I tried to convince BFdeLuxe to get up and sing me a little song on the stage but I'm pretty sure he ignored this suggestion. Stage fright?!

I also want to introduce you to my newest food splurge...homemade wine jelly! Yes, you read correctly. W.I.N.E. J.E.L.L.Y. Best part, during the cooking process, the heat doesn't get high enough to burn off the I guess you could get a buzz if you ate enough jars fast enough. They had 4 different types including Merlot, Chardonney, some other one I can't remember, and Norton. I purchased the latter. It is made with the RC's Norton wine & has hints of spicy cloves & mocha. Trust me, this tastes amazing on peanut butter toast and even better on top of baked brie. Yummmm!!!!

Wine jelly + Glass of wine = Double Whammy!

READERS: What are some of your favorite wineries near you?? What makes them stand out among the rest?? Leave me a comment!!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!! xoxo, C.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Farmer's Market

Summer + Saturday = Farmers Market to me. They have ever since I was a little girl. I look back and very descriptively remember my Mom and I taking our baskets and going into town for the freshest local produce. Mid summer we would get homegrown tomatoes, green beans, zucchini & squash, the juiciest peaches you can imagine...late summer/early fall would fill our bags with delicious crisp apples.

We are so lucky here in the metropolitan area to have some of the most lovely farmers markets. Today I went with my Dad and picked up these lovely little items:

Fresh Green Beans

-My Mom and I sit down and pick all the beans out of these, then put everything in to a pot & make a traditional Greek meal out of it with tomato sauce and potatoes (will blog this recipe when we make it)

JUICY homegrown tomatoes

-I'm thinking we are going to use these for fresh tomato, feta, & oregano salads...or fill them with ground turkey, feta, and orzo & bake in the oven.

YELLOW grape tomatoes

-Are these not adorable?? And the smell is so earthy!! These little balls of sunshine are wonderful on their own as a snack, but I prefer to chop them up & use them for homemade bruschetta. Not only do they add a different taste when mixed with red cherry tomatoes, but they also add wonderful color.

Zucchini & Squash

-BEAUTIFUL!! They really are. I like to slice these thick, steam them, then top with delicious olive oil & lemon juice. Amazing side dish!

Flat-Leaf Parsley

-I could actually smell this as I went into the farmer's stand. And at only $1/bundle, I couldn't pass it up. Fresh herbs are unbeatable in recipes, no?!


xoxo, Christina

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quesadillas...(and a porkchop)...and Wine

I think it's safe to say that today was one of the most gorgeous summer days. Low 60's, High mid 80's + cool breeze. It was a perfect "sit outside and study on the laptop" kind of day. No?!
After spending hours reading on the back patio, it was time to get supper cooking. Have you ever had one of those nights where you just don't know what to cook? It was sorta like that. Mom & I wanted something light. Dad wanted porkchops & we kinda had a hodgepodge meal.


The girls (Mom n' Me) were having grilled chicken & veggie quesadillas with 1/2 a baked sweet potato each.

Dad was getting his porkchops & sweet potato.


-First we seasoned 2 chicken breasts & 2 porkchops

(The chicken was seasoned with S&P, olive oil, and a sprinkle of fajita seasoning; The pork chops with S&P, olive oil, lemon juice, and lots of oregano)

-Next we chopped 3 large button mushrooms, 1/2 a vidalia onion, 1 cup fresh spinach and 1 red bell pepper and sauteed them for about 5-6 minutes in quality olive oil...on that note, I am really anxious to introduce to you my FAVORITE olive oil in the world which comes freshly cold pressed from Greece. It deserves a post of it's own so stay tuned in the near future.

(For the veggies we used S&P and a sprinkle of taco seasoning)

-While these were sauteeing, we heated up the indoor griddle for the chicken & pork. First, we cooked the chicken since it takes longest. Then the pork. REMEMBER-pink is bad (this is the ONLY time those words will come out of this mouth, btw).

-When the vegetables are done sauteeing, I removed them from heat and added in this lovely bowl of chopped avocado & cherry tomatoes. - Now, we assemble...these are the fabulous wraps I used. They are not only super soft, but they are also whole wheat & healthy!! Under 200 cals for the whole thing PLUS there are only abot 5 ingredients in them. YES!!
-Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces...
-Put one of these wraps on the FLAT side of the hot griddle and add veggies, cheese, tomatoes, and avocado to one side of the wrap...
-Sprinkle on whatever cheese you prefer (this time I used full-fat Taco cheese, mmmm)

-Flip the empty side of the wrap over and press. Let this grill until it becomes golden brown underneath, then flip and repeat. -Take quesadillas off the grill and cut into four slices...I was so hungry after being sick for 2 days & not eating that I refused to give up even a crumb from my wrap. Those 4 slices were going into my belly if I had to stuff them in there personally. Just LOOK at the result...

I can't forget about Dad's dinner!! Once the porkchops were done cooking, I plated it with his favorites- a sweet potato + cinnamon and applesauce! Look & drool...btw, the sweet potatoes were baking at 400 for about an hourish+...they do take awhile so you could instead microwave them for 5 minutes and get the same result. Go ahead, I won't tell.

This dinner was so perfect for a summer night. It was light, homemade, and full of really wonderful vegetables. I hope you try it soon!!!


As promised, I have a few wines to review!! I took a few sips of each of these because I knew I wouldn't be functional if I had an entire glass. (Lightweight?!)

Not too long ago I had tried the El Molino Malbec and really liked it, so I gave this white one a try. This Argentinian white is very light, smells like flowers, and tastes ever so slightly of fruit, no hints of oak. It really is lovely on it's own or with a nice light dinner. If you can't splurge on your favorite expensive wine, this one is not only cheap but nice!

Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon

Very nice Chilean wine!! Much lighter than a Merlot. Smelled like blackberries, but upon tasting it, I noticed a little coffee/chocolate hint. Good stuff!! This is probably much better accompanying a good pasta dish or juicy steak!

Three Fox Vineyards -Il Volpe Sangiovese 2008

This comes from a local winery here in the metropolitan area. BFdeLuxe brought it to me as a surprise! He said it's one of their award winners.Here is the description posted by the vineyard:

"...has the typical Sangiovese nose (yeasty, leathery) and palate (lots of cherry, toast, coffee, and spice notes). This is a wine to savor on its own. It's also big and bold to go with meats and cheeses..." (

It reminded me a bit of Kombucha (for those of you who know what I'm talking about). I say give it a try yourself as my wine palate is still in the early stages of developing. My Dad really enjoyed it, so it depends on each persons preferences. Bf liked this winery so I'm excited to go there myself and taste the rest of their wines!!