September 17, 2014

I’m in a bit of a pickle. The temperature outside my house is still in the 90s, but I am dying to get into the fall flavors with my cooking. What a predicament, I tell you! I am hearing from many others across the country that the fall weather is in the air. There is pumpkin spice to be had, chili to be put on the stove, and fireplaces to be lit. Funny, because I won’t be thinking about putting on a pair of boots or wrapping a scarf around my neck for at least another month or two. But, whatever – I’m throwing caution to the wind, cranking up the air conditioning in my house, and pretending that the fall weather is around for now! Especially when it comes to roasting some acorn squash seeds.

roasted acorn squash seeds

Oh yes. Roasted squash seeds always make me think of fall. Have you roasted pumpkin seeds before? I always loved scooping the seeds and “gunk” out of pumpkins when I was a child, but I wasn’t so much into the idea of eating the seeds when my mom roasted them up in the oven.

roasted acorn squash seeds

Yeesh – what was I thinking? The realization that crispy, roasted squash seeds are a fun snack is something that came to me later in life. Better late than never! I love the idea of being able to use an entire ingredient when I cook, so when I made some acorn squash for dinner yesterday (that delicious post is very soon to come, by the way) I made sure to set the seeds aside when I cleaned it out. A few simple steps, and I was left with some golden, crispy, wonderful bites to snack on. Score!

roasted acorn squash seeds

I opted for a very simple preparation on this batch of seeds, but I’m thinking there will be a lot of variations with spices to come as the winter squash season gets itself into full swing. Cinnamon…cajun…garlic…there are quite a few thoughts going through my head right now!

Do you like to roast your squash seeds? What are your favorite flavor combinations?

roasted acorn squash seeds

Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Ingredients

  • Seeds and pulp from 1 acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Gently toss seeds and pulp in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread seeds in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Allow to cool before serving. Enjoy!
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September 16, 2014

When it comes to bags, is there a style you prefer? For me, I tend to go for the extremes when it comes to the size of my handbag. I either choose a small clutch to hold only the bare necessities for a night out, or I reach for a large tote that will allow me to carry everything but the kitchen sink. So, in honor of my extreme choices, today I decided to round up a collection of totes and clutches!

Ah, the simple tote bag. I’m loving them right now…but I do have to be cautious on what I add for everyday wear. It’s great that I can tote along a book, my sunglasses, a notebook, and even my DSLR if absolutely necessary. I do have the unfortunate tendency to overload my bag if left to my own devices. Thankfully, the whole working from home thing has allowed me to lighten things up (I tended to be a pack rat when I went into the office, making sure I had anything and everything I could possibly need throughout the day). On the other hand, when we head out for dinner on the weekends, a clutch is much more my speed. If I can get away with only carrying around my wallet, cell phone, and some chapstick, I’m a happy camper!

Now – which to choose out of this grouping of 15 totes and clutches? That, my friends, is the question.

totes and clutches fringed totes totes and clutches clutches solid clutches

Totes

1. Mossimo fringed toteTarget // 2. Graphic toteNordstrom // 3. Fringy Frou Frou Tote by Betsey JohnsonNordstrom Rack // 4. Two tone faux leather toteNordstrom // 5. Pipa Mixed Media Tote by Kenneth Cole Reaction - T.J. Maxx // 6. Faux Leather Wesley Tote by London Fog – T.J. Maxx // 7. Reversible faux leather toteNordstrom

Clutches

8. Knuckle clutch by Magid - T.J. Maxx // 9. ‘Harmony’ tassel trim pouchNordstrom // 10. ‘Santa Fe’ clutchNordstrom //11. Printed clutch with fringingASOS // 12. Scallop clutchASOS // 13. Deux Lux Joy ClutchNordstrom Rack // 14. Urban Expressions ‘Gisele’ Convertible ClutchNordstrom Rack // 15. ‘Zoe’ zip clutchNordstrom

September 14, 2014

Fall sports have begun and you know what that means: tailgating season! Watching fall sports is not only a fun pastime, but hosting viewing parties is a great reason to celebrate with some food and wine! Especially when the spread includes some basil and sundried tomato hummus.

Basil and Sundried Tomato Hummus

One of my all-time favorite snack foods to nosh on during at home tailgates is hummus. The versatility of this spread alone makes it a perfect choice for parties. You can dip it with pretzels or pita, or opt for a healthier option with carrot sticks, bell pepper slices, and celery. It doesn’t have to serve as only a dip either! Are you planning on preparing a sandwich tray for your at home tailgate? Consider using some hummus as a spread inside in place of mayonnaise. You won’t be sorry.

Basil and Sundried Tomato Hummus

Making a batch of homemade hummus is seriously a cinch, and having basil from the garden definitely gives it a fresh flavor you just can’t achieve with store bought varieties. Another plus? Creating this appetizer ahead of time is recommended (a day in advance is best), so you won’t have to worry about prep work on the day of your celebration. All you have to do is scoop it into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and set out a bowl of pretzels and vegetables for dipping!

Gallo Family Vineyards mini bottles

Basil and Sundried Tomato Hummus

Oh, and we can’t forget the wine, can we? For this basil and sundried tomato hummus, I would suggest pairing Pinot Grigio for white wine fans, and Pinot Noir for red wine fans. The Pinot Grigio is light and crisp, and will pair well with the chickpeas and veggies you use to dip. The Pinot Noir’s smooth and light finish won’t be too heavy against the dip and should satisfy the red wine drinker. Fortunately, Gallo Family Vineyards has the most adorable mini bottles of wine that are PERFECT for tailgating on your home turf. The small servings allow your guests to pick from a variety of flavors in the lineup – everyone can have something they like without opening up too many large bottles.

What will you be serving up during your at home tailgates this season?

Basil and Sundried Tomato Hummus

Basil and Sundried Tomato Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, plus additional for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. First rinse, drain, and peel the chickpeas. To peel the chickpeas, place them between your thumb and forefinger and pinch. The skin should separate easily from the chickpea. Discard the skins.
  2. Place the peeled chickpeas in a food processor and pulse about 60 times. Clumps should form in the mixture.
  3. Next, add tahini, lime juice, garlic, salt, and basil. Blend until pureed.
  4. Drizzle in the water about 1 tablespoon at a time and continue pulsing until the mixture is light and smooth in texture. At the end, add in the sundried tomatoes and pulse a few additional times to incorporate (this will allow the tomatoes to be chopped, but not completely pureed into the mixture).
  5. Allow hummus to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Overnight is best. Top with a few chopped sundried tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil before serving. Enjoy!
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Make sure you check out Gallo Family Vineyards’ Wine BBQ Pairings today! If you are searching for Gallo Family Vineyards’ wine near you, check out their store locator. You can even download a $1 off digital coupon for your next purchase!

GFV-family-logo
Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards. Make sure you check out Gallo Family Vineyards’ website, like them on Facebook, start a conversation with them on Twitter, see their photos on Instagram, and watch them on YouTube!

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September 11, 2014

I almost can’t believe I am able to say this: I have kicked my caffeine habit. Hopefully once and for all.

It’s been two weeks and 5 days since I’ve had a “regular” caffeinated beverage. For years I was proud of the fact I’d never grown to enjoy coffee or tea. I drink the occasional latte or Frappuccino, but it’s usually once a month or less. I don’t have a morning coffee/tea – neither does Justin. I always laugh because I am convinced I found the one man in the world who doesn’t want to drink coffee in the morning. We don’t even have a coffee maker in our home. So sorry, anyone who comes to visit us…

Diet Coke kicking the caffeine habit

My one vice: a soda at lunch time. I admit, I became addicted to it over the years. Although I never needed caffeine to wake myself up in the morning, I would hit the midday slump and required a Diet Coke or another beverage to give me that boost for the second half of the day. I knew it was a bad habit, but I justified it daily because it was the ONLY caffeine I was having regularly. Everyone else has morning coffee: why can’t I have my daily Diet Coke? It has been the one beverage other than water I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’ve never been a fan of sports drinks, energy drinks, smoothies, fruit punch, or other beverages.

Ay yi yi. Since I’ve been working from home I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to break myself of this addiction. I knew it wouldn’t come easy; I’d attempted in the past with poor results. But I was determined this time, and I think it just might stick this go-round.

I’m not going to lie: the first week with no caffeine was brutal. Like any addiction, I was going through withdrawal. I started my first day on a Saturday so I wouldn’t notice quite so much. We were busy and running around – I didn’t even notice. Sunday was much the same. Then, on Monday when I went back to my work routine it hit me like a freight train. I would make it through the lunch hour, but at around 3pm Monday through Wednesday I would hit a wall. A wall so hard it rendered me unable to do work and I had to lay down for a 20 minute power nap.  Afterward, I’d feel much better. The rest of the week was a bit better, and the weekend went as usual. The second week that wall never did come around to smacking me in the face. Relief! I’m now almost all the way through week three and I don’t have any hints of an afternoon slump occurring. I’m back to regular functionality.

I will admit though: I am still craving a Diet Coke. A lot. We still have cans in our refrigerator (talk about a lesson in self control. Do I win an award for this?), and I look at them longingly at lunch time. But I know I have to go cold turkey for a few weeks to get myself into good habits before starting the “occasional” Diet Coke routine. I’m going to be honest: I’m not giving it up completely. I know I’ll still want to enjoy a soda every once in a while, and I’m totally fine with that happening. Once a week, perhaps? Everything in moderation, right? I am just happy to say I am not reliant on a daily dose of caffeine to to get me through, and that I’m not ingesting whatever chemicals are involved in the soda on a regular basis. I am calling that a huge success!

Have you tried to give up caffeinated drinks? How did you do?