Springtime DIY projects

I got a major bug last week to refinish our patio furniture. I started with staining our teak bench and before I knew it I had also tackled 2 chairs and 2 side tables!

This is the bench that started it all. AFTER 4 labor-some coats of stain:

bench

This is me staining a side table while my goldendoodle helps out…I mean sleeps…beside me. That may or may not be a bloody mary behind me.

me painting

I thought it would be interesting to stain the bottom and paint the top a contrasting color. After staining the bottom with 2 coats and allowing it to dry overnight, I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and sprayed the top with a few coats of outdoor spray paint. After the spray paint dried, I gave it a coat of the clear stain for extra protection.

outdoor table redo

This side table used to be faded-rusty-black. It got several coats of the same color spray paint used on the wooden table. LOVE!

peacock blue side table

Supplies. Valspar outdoor color spray paint (I went through 2 cans for the 2 side tables) and Minwax outdoor clear stain (1 1/2 cans for the bench, 2 chairs and bottom of a side table).

paint supplies

Like??

balcony 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

The 17th was my Mom’s 59th birthday. Happy birthday Mom!!

ingredients for flourless chocolate cake

She stays away from gluten, so I went on the hunt for something that she could feel good about having a big ole piece of. After searching through some recipes that called for 3-4 different types of flour that I didn’t want to go out and buy, I searched for “flourless cake” and came up with this one. It was perfect for her birthday/Easter egg hunt/dinner at my sister Angela’s house.

melted chocolate chips, butter and sugar

This was the cake after baking and before it was inverted on to a cake plate.

flourless chocolate cake

I added sliced strawberries to the finished product.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

 

The cake is an amazing combo of cake/brownie texture. Very fudge-y but not heavy. Super smooth and moist. Ultimate chocolate flavor! Super awesome with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. One of those go-to recipes that will WOW your guests (from 17 months to 59 years).

nephews

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract
  • Garnishes: sliced strawberries or raspberries

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray, too, then set the pan aside.
  • Place 8 ounces of the chocolate (2 cups of chips) and 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat (I used a large heatproof bowl over simmering water instead of placing the chips and butter directly in a pan). Stirring often, melt chocolate with butter until completely blended. Remove from heat. (Alternatively, you may use your microwave to melt the butter with the chocolate, if desired). Add sugar and mix well until it’s almost dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Sift cocoa into bowl and stir until just blended.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake has risen and top has formed a thin crust. The cake should be just firm in the center when done. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate, removing sides of springform pan. Remove and discard parchment paper and set cake aside to cool completely. (I made the cake the night before, then made the glaze a little while before serving).
  • When cake has cooled, make the chocolate glaze. Melt remaining 4 ounces chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, then stir in milk, honey and vanilla. Pour glaze onto the center. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, very gently smooth glaze along the top and sides of the cake. Chill cake, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes before serving to set the glaze and make the cake easier to slice.

Slightly adapted from Whole Foods

Roasted Pork Loin Roast

Roasted roast. It’s a roast that was roasted. I shouldn’t be writing at-all-ever.

pork loin roast

I’m also giving you a recipe that you won’t be able to exactly recreate because you can’t buy this spice. Unless you live in or near Richmond, VA and go to the South of the James farmer’s market at Forest Hill Park…in THAT case, yes.

It’s a mix of locally grown, dried herbs and salts. Lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, lemongrass and sage! The last ingredient is LOVE…awwww! ***sticks finger down throat but then smiles***

spice mix

When the roasted roast was done and sufficiently rested, I sliced it and topped it with the onions and pan drippings.

pork loin roast

Roasted Pork Loin Roast

  • a 1.75-2 lb. pork loin roast
  • 2 teaspoons of a dried herbs mix (lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, sage, lemongrass, Himalayan pink salt and sea salt)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 medium to large onion, halved and sliced

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 degree. Salt and pepper the roast on all sides. Heat a large oven proof saute pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add EVOO and pork roast. Once it’s seared to a nice golden brown on one side flip it over and add the onions and wine. Sprinkle the dried herbs all over the pork and the onions. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the internal temp reaches about 145 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Smoothie Pina Colada

In my thoughts I had named this smoothie “Tropical Smoothie” but that’s before I tasted it. I always clean the blender before I enjoy my morning smoothie, so before taking my first sip Travis made an announcement. “It’s like a smoothie pina colada,” he said. Duh, YES. I totally thought of that first. Hello.

This yogurt is thick and rich and made better by whirling it into a smoothie. Then you have yogurt perfection. (there I go stealing lines again)

coconut yogurt

The yogurt is full-fat (13 grams per serving) and I’m sure that’s part of reason it kept me full until lunch. The protein in the almond milk and the banana and pineapple in there helped too!

smoothie pina colada

Where’s the rum?

Smoothie Pina Colada

For 2 smoothies:

  • 2 cups unsweetened, vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 large banana, frozen and broken into chunks
  • 2 containers of Liberte coconut yogurt perfection (hahaha)

Method

  • Place all ingredients in high power blender on “smoothie” setting. ENJOY responsibly! :)

Weekly Eats

The latest installment of my week in food:

Sunday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, peaches, banana, cinnamon, flax seeds and organic peanut butter

Lunch: Leftover tuna steak and noodles with kimchi on the side

Dinner: Spaghetti night! The noodles were DeBoles organic artichoke pasta (angel hair). The sauce was organic marinara from Fresh Market. The meat was garlic, parsley and orange zest sausage from Sausage Craft. Served with Whole Foods frozen Mediterranean blend veggies…corn, edamame, shredded carrots and broccoli…GOODNESS!

Monday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, blueberries, blackberries, banana, chia seeds, cinnamon and organic almond butter…very bitter…I think it was the blackberries

Lunch: General Tso’s vegan chicken (from Whole Foods) and edamame pods sprinkled with sea salt

Dinner: Alamo – chicken burrito (salsa, rice, black beans, guacamole, cheese)

Tuesday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, blueberries, pineapple, banana, flax seeds and organic almond butter

Lunch: tuna and avocado sushi made with brown rice and red quinoa…from Whole Foods and eaten in the car on the way home from shopping!

Dinner: Sauteed turbo fish. It was on sale at Whole Foods and the fish-monger recommended it. It was ok but compared to all the fresh fish we had in the past month it lacked in flavor. Served with roasted brussel sprouts and quinoa mac-n-cheese

Wednesday

Breakfast: granola bowls

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: turkey meatloaf, potato salad (at Travis request…I ate only a spoonful) and peas

Thursday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, blueberries, banana, flax seeds, cinnamon, cardamom and organic almond butter

Lunch: Sushi from Ellwood Thompson

sushi

Dinner: Eat your greens Asian chicken salad

Devin and Randolph  Eat your greens salad

Friday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, blueberries, banana, strawberries, navel orange, flax seeds, cinnamon and organic almond butter

Lunch: Chipotle burrito bowl. I tried the new vegan marinated tofu…de-lish!

Dinner: The Boathouse – raw oysters, a wedge salad and a fire-roasted crab, brie and asparagus pizza…all shared with my man!

Saturday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, blueberries, banana, pineapple, flax seeds and organic almond butter

Lunch: scrambled eggs with mixed sliced mushrooms and goat cheese. I also ate some edamame a couple hours later.

Dinner: Kona Grill with friends! Happy 36th birthday Chris!!! 

Weekly Eats

The latest installment of my week in food:

Sunday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, cherries, banana, cinnamon, nutmeg and almond butter

Lunch: salad with spinach and mixed greens, cucumber, goat cheese, leftover chicken thighs and balsamic vinaigrette.

Salad with chicken

Dinner: Seared salmon, zucchini “noodles” and a little side of kimchi.

Monday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, cherries, strawberries, banana, cinnamon, flax seeds and almond butter

smoothie

Lunch: Leftover zucchini “noodles” topped with black beans, a fried egg and served with salsa, cheese and sour cream

Dinner: Pasture – I had the seafood stew

Tuesday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, raspberries, blueberries, banana, flax seeds and almond butter

Lunch: a big bowl of pho at Haiku 

Dinner: Chicken-tortilla-soup aka my favorite soup ever-ever. 

Wednesday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, banana, blueberries, cinnamon, chia seeds and almond butter

Lunch: Leftover soup

Dinner: shrimp and quinoa “salad” and steamed fresh green beans…”steamed” by me…not the “steam fresh” brand…whatever

Thursday

Breakfast: granola bowls with plain greek yogurt, strawberries, blackberries and granola

Lunch: chicken salad and marinated cucumbers from

Dinner: Edo’s Squid - seared tuna (rare) and garlic noodles

Friday

Breakfast: granola bowls with Noosa “tart cherry” yogurt, strawberries, blackberries and granola

breakfast

Lunch: odds and ends from the salad bar at Whole Food

Dinner: Grilled london broil (Travis picked it up and it was not very good to me…he liked it though) and roasted cauliflower. I also ate some pita chips and edamame hummus while waiting for the charcoal.

Saturday

Breakfast: smoothie with almond milk, blueberries, banana, cinnamon and peanut butter

Lunch: Leftover soup

Dinner: Stuzzi pizza - I had the vegetariana

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken and chips and veggies all whirled(is that a word?) together means yummy soupy-goodness. I have seriously made this so many times that I realized not sharing it here was like I was lying to you somehow. I think my spoon goes into my bowl so fast that I just don’t think about you. Sorry. I think.

It easily doubles to feed your 2 brothers, 2 sisters, their husbands and kids…ummm…a big crowd…

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white/yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • (you can add a diced red pepper here…I didn’t have one)
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 28-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • pepper-jack cheese
  • 5-6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2-1 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 3/4 cup Mont Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers
  • 1-2 roasted chicken breasts or meat from one small rotisserie chicken, pulled
  • 1 cup frozen corn

Toppings:

  • Mont Jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Limes
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • more crushed tortilla chips

Method

  • Heat oil in dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat and add vegetables (next 6 ingredients). Season with salt & pepper. Saute until tender or about 15 minutes.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, seasonings, fresh cilantro and chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and let cook down for 20 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the crushed tortillas and simmer for 10 more minutes or until soft.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Blend it! Trust me. It somehow tastes better when the soup is smooth!
  • Add the shredded, roasted chicken, corn and the cheese and stir around to incorporate.
  • Spoon into bowls and finish with your favorite toppings.