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Weekly Menu

What a rainy weekend!  It kind of ruined all of our original weekend plans.  If you live in Columbus, hopefully you were still able to have some fun... maybe some adventures from this list?  Unfortunately, much of our weekend was spent inside because of said rain... but the upcoming weekends will be outside, rain or shine... let's get this summer started!  ;)

spinach quiche cbc summer teeth 
double bins snoop 

In between getting rained on, we headed over to Inniswood Metropark where their meticulously maintained gardens are a perfect place for shutterbugs capturing nature or using it as a background for family or wedding photos.  The rose garden is just starting to bloom while the trees gave some relief when it started to rain again.  Afterwards, we made a stop at Hoover dam on the way back home where we had planned to get our kayak and paddle board out on the water if it wasn't for the rain.  

innis woods park 
innis woods park hoover dam 
innis woods park innis woods park 
innis woods park

Our CSA deliveries have started for this summer which means lots of spinach, spring onion, strawberry, and feta salads!  Such a simple salad and I look forward to them every Spring.  Even after three or more weeks in a row.  I always keep a vegetable garden, which varies in successfulness, so having a CSA really does keep our meal planning more seasonal.

I'm not quite sure how this week is going to go yet, either very busy or slightly laid back.  I do know that at the end of it, I'll be heading to visit some cows at Snowville's open house.  Hoping for blue skies and lots of samples!  ;)  Any way, here is the meal plan knowing that it could be a pretty lofty dream...

greek quesadillas
mexican stuffed shells
cheesy couscous casserole
pasta puttanesca
grilled cheese 

Weekly Menu

The unofficial start of summer has come and I am so ready for it!  Grilling, camping, getting out on the water, ice cream, gardening... all of my favorites rolled up into one season.  And what a way to kick it off than a beautiful three-day weekend!

With no sign of rain, we had the top off the jeep and it really felt like summer.  Then supporting Jeni's reopening was delicious... can't tell you how many times I thought "wish I could get some Jeni's" during the few weeks it was unavailable... but it made this bowl taste even sweeter.  :)

jeep hair dont care jenis is back pattycake bakery park of roses
Had a pretty bad sweet tooth this weekend as we made a pit stop at Pattycake Bakery while strolling around Clintonville.  Their chocolate chip cookies are sooo good, definitely best in Columbus!

blackhand gorge blackhand gorge wildflowers blackhand gorge new keens

Went to Blackhand Gorge for a little hike to break in my new Keens (yay, REI anniversary sale!).  Quite the adventure with part of the trail being closed, then Google Maps taking us down a one lane gravel road to nowhere, and then getting lost in the woods for a bit.  It's always nice to unplug though, if only for a few hours.

Of course, all of this wouldn't be possible if it weren't for the men and women that fight for our freedom.  As the common Memorial Day saying goes... all gave some, some gave all.  And for those people, we remember them this weekend.

This week's menu...
parmesan crusted chicken and steamed broccoli
pan fried ravioli and caprese salad
fish tacos
shrimp po' boys 
coq au riesling and asparagus

Nutella Raspberry Tart with Wholly Wholesome

nutella raspberry tart

Despite my reputation at work, I actually don't bake that often.  Baking from scratch requires quite a few ingredients and I hate going to the grocery store for just one or two items (even though I can walk to it).  So when Wholly Wholesome asked me to review their products, I gravitated toward the premade pie crusts since I have had those tarts from Europe in my thoughts (chocolate tarts in Rome and raspberry tarts in Paris).  

Wholly Wholesome is a all natural, organic baked goods brand.  Many of their products are also gluten-free.  As such, they are normally in your grocer's freezer section which is great because you can always have some pie crusts or pizza dough stocked up and just pull it out of the freezer the night before.  You can find Wholly Wholesome in Whole Foods, select Kroger stores, and many other organic grocers (use their store locator).

wholly wholesome

So this tart... using a pie crust... it is sooo easy!  Only five ingredients!  Starting with your Wholly Wholesome flaky pie crust, which is perfectly buttery.  Then the Nutella ganache... yes, Nutella ganache... drool!  Topped with juicy raspberries which are $0.99 at Kroger so I bought all of them.  :)  Totally rich and dreamy... and barely any work at all (thanks to Wholly Wholesome).  You have to try this recipe!

Weekly Menu

I can't believe another week (and weekend) has flown by!  The heat and humidity have kept me a little out of the kitchen the past few days opting for some delicious local restaurant patios (in between rain storms).  But it will be cooling down a bit this week leading up to the unofficial start to summer... although it certainly feels like summer has started already!  :)

This weekend was Race for the Cure in Columbus, which is the largest in the country!  While it raises lots of awareness and brings everyone together, it always seems to fall short of reaching its fundraising goal.  If you would like to help them reach that goal, please donate here.  We have all been impacted in some way by cancer, let's find a cure...

 race for the cure columbus race for the cure columbus hot chicken takeover kombucha

After the race (well, walk), we met up at North Market, basically the best food court/grocery market ever.  Perfect for a range of dietary restrictions and tastes.  :)  I went to Hot Chicken Takeover and went with "warm" this time after having a very mild "mild" at Crew Stadium (I mean, Mapfre Stadium).  Oh man, they weren't lying when they said it's hotter than your normal medium!  Good thing I had some waffles to tone it down for my sensitive taste buds!  Grabbed some Pistacia Vera and Destination Donuts on the way out... you know, to treat myself for all of that walking.  ;)

On tap for this week, this is the plan...
lamb burgers and salad
veggie calzones
fish tacos
grilled cheese and caprese
veggie sushi

Weekly Menu

Hope you had a great Mother's Day weekend and enjoyed the beautiful early summer weather we had!  I don't ever remember a May quite this warm, but I'm certainly not complaining!

Since the weather got me in the summer mood, I went ahead and planted my summer garden.  This is the first year I won't have tomatoes in my garden, which is the most common vegetable (well, fruit) grown in home gardens.  So it will be mainly peppers and squash this year.  Some lettuce, beans, and herbs will fill in the rest of the space.  Oh and can't forget the strawberries which are already starting to fruit in my reclaimed wood container boxes.  

strawberry fields forever

After eating out quite a bit for Columbus Beer Week last week, there are a couple dinners I didn't make, so they are returning to the meal plan this week.  So without further ado...

asparagus frittata and hash browns
spring salad

Planning a Trip to the Dominican

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I have never been to Mexico, but seeing the Mayan ruins is definitely on my bucket list.  Until that trip gets planned, the closest I've been is the Dominican Republic, I guess...

After my sister and her husband honeymooned in the Dominican and my parents, step bro, and his wife went on a cruise to the Dominican... I couldn't be the only one in my family that had not been!  So I started looking into it (after we had already booked our Saint Lucia trip) and one of my friends from work wanted to go, so we made it a girls trip!

After reading some reviews and asking around, we picked Excellence Punta Cana.  It was ranked in the top three in several categories and had free beach horseback riding!

vacation in Dominican Republic vacation in Dominican Republic 
vacation in Dominican Republic vacation in Dominican Republic 
vacation in Dominican Republic vacation in Dominican Republic 

Now I have been to a couple resorts in the Caribbean and this one was okay.  You have to pay for your own transportation to and from the airport (a $70 40-minute taxi ride!).  The resort itself is a little older, but the people are nice.  Everyone speaks Spanish, but will speak English (which was good considering my foreign language skills are severally lacking).  There were several third party excursion companies set up on the resort, we ended up doing the dolphin excursion which was on my bucket list of things to experience.

I'm more of a beach girl than a pool girl, and the beach was pretty nice.  Apparently Excellence is the only resort in Punta Cana that actually gets pretty sizable waves, which means no water sports.  :(  I was totally pumped to get out in a kayak or paddle board, but no such luck, the flag is always red.  After checking out some instagram posts for the resort on our last full day I noticed some fun palm trees must be just around the bend in the beach.  After a short walk, the ocean was so calm and clear.  I wish I would have tried to convince the resort's water sports guy to let me take a kayak about 50 yards off the resort.  I did see someone snorkeling, but I assumed it was their own gear.

vacation in Dominican Republic 
vacation in Dominican Republic vacation in Dominican Republic 
vacation in Dominican Republic vacation in Dominican Republic 
vacation in Dominican Republic vacation in Dominican Republic

I love getting the window seat on the airplane!  The big puffy clouds are always so calming to me.  And look what I found in the seat back pocket!  Columbus is #3 fashion city in the country behind NYC and LA!  

Of course I can't leave out a food review!  Excellence has nine restaurants and ten bars.  The restaurants range from grab-n-go, buffet-style, casual, to semi-fancy.  They have asian, italian, french, mexican tapas, pizza, and the lobster house.  The night we went to the lobster house for dinner, the electricity went out to the whole resort for about ten minutes.  It was pitch black out besides a few candles.  We ate our appetizers by the light of our phones!  The power outage may have impacted our lobster, because it definitely was not excellente.  :(  Our favorite was the italian restaurant which also is the breakfast and lunch buffet, which were also good.  

If you're looking for juice, make sure to get your fix from the breakfast buffet (lots of fresh squeezed options).  Everything at the bar is some kind of sugary Tang-like drink, so your screwdrivers taste like syrup.  Also, room service is included!  So definitely take advantage of that when you have had a long excursion day.  And there are several full-sized liquor bottles in your room... also included.  If you finish the bottle of wine, you probably won't get another one.

Excellence Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana

The last picture is Garcia making these shots that as soon as he made one, about a dozen other people started ordering them.  They tasted like mint chocolate chip ice cream!  Since that is one of my favorites, I paid special attention to how he made it.  The green is Midori (of course), the white is Baileys blended with a few ice cubes to make it extra cold and frothy, then a drop of chocolate sauce.  Pretty simple and so so good!

All in all, it was a decent resort with friendly staff and fun night entertainment.  Since it is adults only, but not couples only, it would be a good place to come with a group of friends.  Just don't set your expectations too high...  


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