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Pineapple Passion

By boat drinks, food, gluten free, holiday fun, jimmy buffett is my hero, lifestyle, pineapples and palm trees, product reviews, recipes, summer, tropical fruits, videos 7 Comments

Tomorrow is National Rum Day, which was brought to my attention by my lovely friends at Cruzan when they offered to send me a sample of their new Passion Fruit Rum to celebrate the occasion. While I’m all about random spirit-inspired holidays, you know I don’t need a reason to swirl up a tropical beverage any day of the week. I’ve been especially partial to rum ever since last month’s pina colada-making vacation days at my parents’ pool, where I read Jack and Di Rum Song (and all three of Anthony Bjorklund’s other Jimmy Buffett-inspired tales). Also, since my adoption of a gluten-free diet has limited my beer drinking to a few here and there hardly any ever, I decided to finally splurge on this Margaritaville Frozen Concotion Maker I’ve been wanting for eight years. (I figured I’d register for it when I got married, but who wants to wait around for that?) =)

This particular recipe was inspired by the official Cruzan Pineapple Passion — I just tweaked it to make do with the ingredients I had on hand. (Slackers don’t serve drinks in hollowed-out pineapples, sorry.) Pineapple and passion fruit are two of all-time favorite fruity flavors (remember?), and blended with fresh lime juice and simple syrup, this frozen concoction is sweet, tart, refreshing perfection. =)

P.S. This is my first attempt at video editing. I hope you enjoy it!

Super Simple Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

By food, gluten free, recipes 2 Comments

turkey & wild rice soup

In my continued efforts to eat better and cook more, I managed to throw together this soup last week with some turkey tenderloins and a few other ingredients I already had on hand. I know it’s hot as sh*t outside, but it’s freezing in my house and my office. Plus, this was so easy to make, and I had a bunch left over, which I froze in single-serving containers for future lazy lunches. =)

1 medium to large Vidalia onion, chopped
8 oz. baby carrots (about half a small bag), cut in half
2 turkey tenderloins (about 1 lb.), cut into 1-inch cubes
64 oz. all natural chicken broth (2 cartons)
1 cup water
1 cup organic wild rice (I used the 365 Everyday Value Organic Wild Rice Blend Basmati & Wild Rice from Whole Foods)
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Sea salt
Black pepper
Parsley (for garnishing)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. In a large stock pot, combine onion, carrots, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat.

2. Season turkey by sprinkling with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add to boiling broth.

3. Bring broth back to a boil, then let simmer for about 20 minutes.

4. Bring broth back to a boil. Add 1 cup wild rice. Let simmer 30-35 minutes.

5. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

P.S. This recipe is gluten-free!

This & That: Links I’m Loving This Week

By at the office, blogs, fashion statements, food, hair care, lifestyle, links, lists, recipes, shopping, summer, this & that, weather, you might learn something 2 Comments

This & That Links 1

1. Is the warm weather finally here to stay? I hope so because Samantha’s glamorous resort-inspired look on her blog Could I Have That? is making me crave summer more than ever.

2. J.Crew’s new tropical print popover means people might think twice before poking fun at my Hawaiian shirt collection this year. (Also, these board shorts are almost identical the pair I wore the day I moved into my dorm room freshman year of college…shoulda saved those, too.)

3. One of my new year’s resolutions was to find ways to connect with other bloggers, so when I discovered the Virginia Bloggers community the other day, becoming a member was a no brainer. Looking forward to finding ways to network with this group.

4. I used one of these strawberry stem removers at my parents’ house last week. Brilliant. About to order one for myself as soon as I publish this post.

5. After being out of the office for a full nine days, I was relying on my noise-cancelling headphones to help me hunker down and get caught up at work this week. Unfortunately, they’re getting on in years and starting to fail me. Time for a new pair?

6. Emily’s new beachy waves tutorial was the first thing I saw when I woke up Tuesday morning, so I had to give it a try. I polished mine off with a little Bumble & bumble Surf Spray, and my wavy ‘do saw me all the way through to Wednesday night.

7. This collection of photos about an inseparable pair of twins who lead an identical life made me smile.

8. I’m the type of person who is always wondering, “What’s next? What’s next?” I often have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy where I’m at right now, so I’m in total agreement with these sentiments from Cara of The Champagne Diet: “You are exactly where you need to be.” (Image by Rui Molar.)

9. Looks like more rain for the next 24-48 hours as Tropical Storm Andrea makes her way northeast up the coast.

10. Getting a little bored with my gluten-free diet (yes, I’m still at it), so I’m looking forward to giving this recipe a try over the weekend.

Just a few links from around the web that caught my eye this week. How about you? Find anything interesting online recently? Share a cool link in the comments!

Holiday Spritz Cookies

By food, holiday fun, recipes No Comments


The one (and only) thing on my agenda today is baking spritz cookies with my mom. These have been my favorite Christmas cookies for as long as I can remember. The recipe comes from this old school Betty Crocker Cooky Book, which is full of lots of other delicious baking ideas, too.

A few years ago, I finally got my own Wilton cookie press to make my own, but it’s still just a little more fun to make them up here at my parents’ house. (Mostly because my dad cleans all the pans after we make a huge mess.) Also, since I’m technically on vacation up here, I won’t feel guilty when I consume about 20 of them during the baking process…



The Best Macaroni & Cheese on the Planet

By at the office, food, recipes 6 Comments


At some point last year, the Contracts department started a tradition of a monthly pot luck “Brunch Bonanza.” Each month, we bring in a breakfast or lunch dish to share with the group. There’s fourteen of us, so we’ve always got plenty of new things to munch on. In the past, I’ve contributed things like coffee, quiche, lasagna, soup, taco dip and bagels. This month, I fed my co-workers this amazing macaroni and cheese. It’s not something I make very often (because it’s a pain in the ass), but it’s literally the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had.

This recipe below is based on this one from Martha Stewart, but I’ve cut it in half and altered it just a tad, so it’s meant to serve six portions. It is very rich, so I normally serve it as a side dish. In this case, I was feeding a big group, so I doubled it back up to the original measurements in Martha’s recipe. =)

The Perfect Macaroni & Cheese
With Extra Sharp White Cheddar & Gruyere Cheese

3 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/4 cups (about 9 ounces) grated extra sharp white cheddar
1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated Gruyere
1/2 pound elbow macaroni

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish; set aside.

2. Shred the cheese. (Keep the cheddar and the Gruyere separate — some will go into the cheese sauce, and some will get sprinkled on top).

2. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. Melt 1 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

3. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

4. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

5. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 1 3/4 cups cheddar, and 3/4 cup Gruyere. Set cheese sauce aside.

6. Fill a medium saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. (Make sure to rinse thoroughly with cold water – this removes excess starch from the pasta to keep your macaroni and cheese from being grainy.) Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup Gruyere over the top; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Cheese is expensive, but I promise you — the higher quality cheese you use in this dish, the better it will taste. If you’re going to go through all the effort to make this, use some decent cheese.

2. No need to waste any food. It is perfectly acceptable to dip the cast-aside bread crusts in any cheese remaining in the pot while you’re waiting for the macaroni and cheese to bake.

3. It is also perfectly acceptable to fantasize about using said cheese as a hot dog topping in the future.

4. The only way I can think of to possibly make this any better is to add lobster. If you try that, please let me know how it turns out. =)