Broccoli Bites

For the past couple of months I’ve been having a few friends gather and we watch movies and chit chat at my place. Thursdays have become such a fun and relaxing day, and one where I can try out some new recipes! Fun food that is good is always on the menu! Last week I made Broccoli Bites. Now the original website said “for kids” but aren’t adults just older kids? Either way the recipe was really simple and made more than enough for the 5 of us!

In case you were wondering the movie last week was Sleepless in Seattle, and oh my gosh, it was fantastic! I really hadn’t seen a lot of Tom Hanks movies and was a little nervous, but truly fantastic. One of the best things about these movie nights is that each week a different person brings a movie and we have no idea what it is going to be! At the end of the post I’ll list all the movies we’ve seen so far, they’ve all been really good!

Broccoli Bites

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Ingredients:
16 oz package of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
3 eggs
salt
pepper
1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

Directions:

1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. With your hands, for small patties and lay on a parchment lined baking sheet
3. Bake at 375, for 25 minutes (the original recipe said to turn the patties after the first 15 minutes, I forgot to do that and they still turned out fantastic!)

**Movie Night Movies**
Despicable Me (2010)
Charade (1963)
Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Four Feathers (2002)
Leap Year (2010)
Perks of being a Wallflower (2012)
The Impossible (2012)
Over the Hedge (2006)
Phantom of the Opera (2004)
The Help (2011)
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

This Thursday is fondue night! Stay tuned to find out how it went, and what our next movie was. Have you ever made fondue in a slow cooker before? If so, let me know in the comments and if you have any suggestions.

Stuffed tomatoes

As summer approaches I tend to look for recipes that are light, and use fresh in season produce. One thing I’ve noticed is there always seems to be an overflow of tomatoes, not that I mind, thankfully there are lots of uses for tomatoes in cooking.

Stuffed tomatoes
original here

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Ingredients:

2 large tomatoes
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2/3 cup cottage cheese
¼ cup diced cucumber
1 tbsp + 1 tsp snipped chives

Directions:

1. Trim off top ½ inch tomato and remove core. Scoop out ½ the flesh and make a bowl. Discard seeds, dice remaining flesh and reserve. Season inside of tomato shell with kosher salt and pepper.

2. Whisk together olive oil and white wine vinegar. Combine with cottage cheese, cucumbers reserve tomato flesh and 1 tbsp chives. Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

3. Stuff cottage cheese mixture into tomato shells and serve.

Some other tomato recipes I love!
Zucchini Pizza
Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Lasagna Cups
Avocado Southwestern Salsa
Simple Tomato Sauce
Baked Tomato and Mozzarella

**Hey guys, it’s also the 1 year anniversary of my first blog post! Wow who knew I would actually keep up with this? Not me! But I’m so happy I did, I’ve cooked and baked so many different things this year; it’s been amazing!!**

Fettuccine with Tomato Cream Sauce

You know how some people are considered “crazy cat lady”? Well I think I’m well on my way to becoming a “crazy plant lady”. Example:

20130619-220301.jpg In my defense I do like to cook a lot and don’t have a balcony in my apartment so my plants are all in my living room, as it is the only room in my place that gets awesome sun! However now that I have added herbs to my plants, my living room is starting to resemble a jungle. Not that I mind, I love it actually, however I think it may sometimes come as a surprise to people coming over for the first time. I wouldn’t do anything different though, because cooking with fresh herbs is so worth it! Like the below recipe, from Cooking Light, the original recipe called for olives and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Well I don’t like olives and that cheese was pretty expensive so I omitted the olives and went with an Italian blend cheese.

Fettuccine with Tomato Cream Sauce

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Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked fettuccine
½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, I cut up the tomatoes
3 oz cream cheese
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup small fresh basil leaves, I used bigger leaves and cup them up
½ oz cheese

Directions:

1. Cook pasta in 4 quarts boiling water with ¼ teaspoon salt for 8 minutes or until noodles are almost al dente. Drain pasta and reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water.

2. Heat a large skillet over med-low heat. Add oil to the pan, swirl to coat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rest of the salt and tomatoes; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sir in reserve pasta water, and bring to a boil. Add the cream cheese; stir until smooth. Add pasta and red pepper; cook 3 minutes or until pasta is al dente, tossing to coat. Divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls, top each with fresh basil and cheese.

**I paired this with some local red wine and had baked zucchini (recipe here) as a side, yummy**

Other pasta recipes I like:
Penne With Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Cream Sauce

Whittleton Branch Trail

I posted a the below picture on my Facebook wall and one of the comments that was posted by a friend was, “Is that a northern Copperhead aka poisonous?” You know what? That question made me realize several things, first I need to make sure I can identify the poisonous animals/bugs in the area, two that we are really lucky not to have gotten bitten, and three, yes I believe it was a baby copperhead snake.

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To be honest this past weekend when I went hiking was the first time I’d ever seen a snake by the trail, and it just goes to show how important it is to stay on the trail! If we hadn’t been on the trail, where we could see the ground there is no doubt in my mind that sooner or later one of us would have been bitten by a snake. Which brings me to another safety point; don’t hike by yourself, please. Even Bear Grylls has a camera crew with him.

Alrighty! Now on with the fun stuff, the hike! I was pleasantly surprised when my friend Kelsey texted me and asked if I wanted to go hiking. You better believe I did! Wittleton Trail is also at a camp site, we had to ask where the trailhead was, I was super pumped about going on a new (to me) trail! If you are planning on taking this trail, the hikers parking is at the front of the campgrounds, and then follow the road to the end of the campgrounds and there is the trailhead. Now we’re off!

Nature absolutely amazes me, for instance look at these trees that are growing on the side of a massive boulder! Could you do this? I think not!

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The total mileage of this trail was right around 4 miles, we actually took two trails, the first was trail #216, Wittleton Branch Trail (1.80 miles, one way) and the second was trail #217, Wittleton Arch (.20 miles, one way).

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There were several bridges that we got to cross, like this mossy bridge.

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The water was a bit low, which made for the below picture a lot easier, as this would have been an active stream we would have had to hike up to continue on the trail.

20130617-192640.jpg That is one thing I really like about the trails in the Gorge, is that sometimes you have to hike up a streambed to continue on your path. That was something I had never encountered before in the forest preserves of the Chicagoland area. Here is another streambed that is all dry.

20130617-192732.jpg Let me tell you, even if there was water hiking through it would have been worth it! look at these trees!

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Along the trail to the arch there were several nice green cliffs along the way

20130617-192942.jpg Spring is a great time to hike in Kentucky, it is just SO green!!

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We made it!!

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20130617-193204.jpg There was a little bit of a waterfall, again I believe if the water levels were higher it would have been a bigger waterfall!

Another trailed marked off my Spring/Summer Bucket List! Click here to see all I’m trying to accomplish this year!

Check out my other hikes in the Boone National Forest:
Gray’s Arch
Double Arch

Gray’s Arch

Gray’s Arch

This hike was during the last weekend of May, my friend Kate, her pup Tux and I went out to the Red River Gorge. Several years ago during my first summer exploring the Gorge I took this trail with a couple of friends and was amazed at how big the boulders below the arch was. I’m not sure why I would think things would be very different this time! The boulders were still enormous.

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It’s a moderate trail about 4 miles, there are several sets of stairs, being that it was Memorial Day weekend when we went the trail was full of people. Although this is one of the more popular trails in the area, beside Natural Bridge, which has a ski lift. Tux, a very sweet pup came along for the hike, he was having a blast after he had gotten used to all the new smells along the trail.

20130610-204710.jpg Here he is scouting out the other people on the trail.

20130610-204803.jpg The trail goes up to right below the arch, we didn’t go that far, since it was pretty steep and we didn’t want Tux to pull us down it, he’s a strong pup! This is a great trail with really pretty views, the stairs were recently redone at the time of our hike and were in great condition. Now on to some pictures of our hike!

20130610-204852.jpg Kate and Tux

20130610-204934.jpg Kate and I

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20130610-205147.jpg Boulders near the arch.

20130610-205231.jpg Tux chillin on the ride home, precious!

Related:
Cabin Fever = Adventure Planning
Other Hikes I’ve taken this Year:
Double Arch Trail – Red River Gorge
Whittleton Branch Trail