I have been pretty good at working out and staying fit ever since we discovered P90X.  My body fat percentage has dropped by at least 3% and I'm fitting into all my clothes - comfortably. 

But, I have a weakness:  Culver's frozen custard.

I try to go only once every couple of weeks, but they recently had a flavor I could not refuse: PUMPKIN PECAN.  My favorite part of Autumn is all the pumpkin stuff.  So, you can imagine that I was looking forward to the day that Pumpkin Pecan was the flavor of the day.

The day came.

We drove-thru.
And it was beautiful.

It was SO good. I know it's full of fat and calories. I don't want it every day.  I just want to know it's there. 

Culver's has it down, though.  They give you this monthly schedule of their flavors of the day.  So, you look it over before throwing it in the recycling bin....until....you see a day with a flavor you can't resist.  Then, you can't throw it away.  You have to put it on your fridge so you don't miss that special day.  And, of course, Ella and I have different flavors on our favorites list, so that means we're both looking out for special days!

And there, on the fridge, the flier stares at you....reminding you that it's out there, waiting for you to drive-thru.

But, you need to remind yourself of the last time you got custard.  It was only......how many days ago? If I can count it on both hands, I'm not allowed to go! I figure that will average out every couple of weeks.

So, there it is: My weakness.  I wonder what the flavor of the day is TODAY??
Ella has always had good taste. If you ask her which local restaurants are her favorite, she'll pick some of the nicest in town.  Around a year ago, though, she asked, "Why don't we ever eat at Target?"

"Eat at Target?"  I didn't even know you could eat at Target.  I mean, I know they have slushies but food?  So, one day, I surprised her and after a shopping trip, we had dinner.  They have a small Pizza Hut in our target, so we split a personal pan pizza and three breadsticks. 

I thought that would 'cure' her curiosity.  I mean, the ambience is nothing  -  flourescent lights, a ton of people, a bunch of stuff made in China...

But, I was wrong. 

Now, whenever we go to Target around dinner time, she wants to eat there!  So, we were shopping for a little Halloween party the other day at Target and sure enough...she wanted dinner.  And, with a checklist of need-to-be-dones, I was open to the convenience.
(No, I don't take my camera to Target, this was taken with my phone!)

She loved it again!

I guess it's the irony that kids love....eating dinner where you normally shop.  As we get older, the thought of going out to dinner does not create visions of a superstore - we've just lost the excitement of irony.

And, I shouldn't complain. At least it wasn't Walmart.
I told Ella that we could make whatever she wanted for dinner....she said, "How about an Ella Special?"  Ok....what's that?  Well, she created it as she spoke - a pasta dish with pizza toppings!

All I can say is...it was wonderful! We each made our own designer pastas.  These could easily be served in restaurants.

We set out all of the potential ingredients we had on hand.
I was craving a ground beef (organic/grass fed of course) and green pepper pizza, so that's what I made.
And here it is baked...
Ella's had turkey pepperoni, pineapple and ham...
Greg had a 'deluxe' version.
I am so proud of Ella's creativity! This will be on the rotation at our house from now on!
Have you heard of that show on Food Network called, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" where celebrity chefs share the best spaghetti or souffle or donuts, etc.?  Well, I have a new take on it - The best thing I ever made.  This time it's all about pizza - but not just any pizza: Grilled pizza with homemade mozzarella cheese.

It all happened one night with one of our favorite friends Mark.  We all get together to have "Project Runway" marathons and dinner.  Mark is teaching Ella about fashion design and she's loving it.
So, we had the guest of honor....then we needed the ingredients:
-My favorite and EASY homemade pizza dough recipe (email me if you want it!)
-Homemade mozzarella cheese, which is really SO easy - you have no idea (unless you make it too!)
-Fresh basil
-Olive oil
-Pizza sauce (can you believe my favorite brand is Meijer organics?  I just haven't made one better!)
-Lots of fresh veggies.
I shaped the dough into four pizzas.  Greg grilled one side and then the other and then brought the crusts inside for toppings.  We each made our own to fit our own tastes.
Then they went back on the grill.  Beautiful! Look at those colors!
These were, by far, the best pizzas we've ever made. They tasted like they just came out of an old-school pizzeria.  Smoky like they just came out of a wood-fired oven....crust that was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside....fresh, organic mozzarella made just a few hours before....fresh, organic veggies....and....great company. 

Definitely worth a TV show, don't you think?
Hey all you food revolutionaries - I know it's been awhile, but we're back on track and ready to spread the word on wholesome, unprocessed, sustainable cooking.  For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I've been teaching the world recipes from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution book.  For more information on his philosophy, click here.

So, this week, we're making breakfast.  I try to keep the recipes economical and practical (most are in the book), so I chose Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal. Mmmmmmmm!
Jamie has several varieties of oatmeal, such as blackberry/apple, dark chocolate/Seville orange and banana/whiskey/nutmeg, but I chose banana cinnamon, because it seemed to be the most practical.

Here's what you need:
-2 c. old-fashioned oats (Jamie says quick oats, but I can't imagine cooking them this long. We used old-fashioned and it was perfect)
-3 c. water, milk, or soy milk (I used water)
-sea salt
-2 ripe bananas
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-2 - 4 Tbs. maple syrup or honey
-small handful of sliced almonds
-small handful of coconut (I toasted mine briefly over med-low heat in a small pan)
-2 Tbs. poppy seeds (I omitted these because I just didn't have them!)

First, you make your oatmeal, by mixing the oatmeal and water and a pinch of salt and simmering it over medium heat.  Stir often and in 5-6 minutes, you should have beautiful oatmeal.  You can add more liquid if you want it thinner or cook longer for thicker oatmeal.

When the oatmeal has around 2 minutes left to cook, prepare your other ingredients.

Then, throw them in the oatmeal! I left some of the coconut and almonds out so I could sprinkle them on top.

See? Yummmm!
This was so good and way more filling than my usual blueberry oatmeal! 

A few notes:

This recipe makes 4 servings, but I think it would have fed around 6!

Also, you may have noticed that the boss is missing. Do not worry, all is fine. He just slept in this morning, which made it a wonderful cooking experience! No kitties on the counter! Yay!
You may recall a little competition we set up early in the summer.  It had to do with tomato growning.  You see, I am no  gardener, but I wasn't crazy about Greg's attitude toward the Topsy Turvy without even giving it a try.

So, we went to the Farmers' Market and bought two nearly identical tomato plants.  He planted his in the dirt, and I planted mine in the Topsy Turvy.

Let me just take a moment to explain what a great gardener Greg is.  I think it comes from two main areas:  Patience and Genes.  The man is the most patient person I've ever met.  Sometimes, it drives me a little nuts (this is why I am not a good gardener!). He plants, he tends, he weeds, and in a few months, he harvests.

It's also in his genes though.  His grandma Dot had the biggest personal garden I had ever seen.  She had a cellar full of preserved food and a kitchen full of fresh veggies whenever we'd visit.  His dad also has a killer vegetable garden. We visited last weekend and have been feasting on beautiful tomatoes, peppers and squash ever since!

So, you now see what I was up against. 

Oh, ok. Here are the results~

Ha! My poor little tomato plant DIED within 2 weeks of planting it. I watered the thing like crazy, but it dried out so fast.  I know the Topsy Turvy has worked for some people, but I've also heard stories similar to mine.

Bottom line is, I'm not too shocked by these results.  I mean, Greg is a great gardener.  I am a little worried that every plant I try to keep alive eventually dies, but that does give me a good excuse to stay out of the garden!

Don't get me wrong. I love gardens. I love what comes from gardens.  I just don't like gardening.  Never have.

I guess it's not a bad deal for either one of us.  He gardens and I cook.  That's fair, isn't it??
On our anniversary, Greg and I went to the hopping town of Fennville.  Ok, so it's not hopping, but we had one of the best dinners we've had since moving to this area  (7 years ago!), and we'll be back.  The place is called Salt of the Earth.

We sat down at our table and were immediately relaxed.  It's a casual atmosphere with pure class.  The service was outstanding, from start to finish, and you could tell that everyone was a team. I'm not sure I've ever seen a restaurant run this way (and I've worked at a few!).

So, to start with the menu. . . Gordon Ramsey would love this menu - it's one page, simple with something for everyone.  Jamie Oliver would also love this menu.  The dishes are made with sustainable, local products.  WE loved this menu!
We always like to try a few things and split them when we go someplace new.  So, we ordered an appetizer (or 'shared plate') - the pierogi.  I forgot to get my camera out soon enough and just caught the last few bites.  Pierogi can sometimes be heavy (they are usually a crust of flour, egg and water stuffed with potato!) but these were so light and flavorful.
I told Greg to pick an entree, because I saw something on the menu I couldn't live without. He chose the trout.  it was a hard decision, but I MADE the waitress tell us if she could only pick one item for her last meal what would it be?  The trout....so Greg chose that. Beautiful presenation and delicious.
I saw someone else eating a pizza and new I had to have one, so I ordered mine with fresh tomatoes and garlicky spinach.  Wow.  That's all I can say. Wow.
And then, as you leave, you walk by this beautiful rack of baked breads.  One for us and one for my inlaws and we were out the door.
But that wasn't the end of it.  We kept glowing over the meal and telling everyone (and now I'm telling you!) about it.  And... for the record, the pizza is just as good the next day, hot or cold (believe me, I have personal knowledge of this).
It's sad that our fresh mint is fading, but it's not gone yet! So, I thought I'd take advantage of it and make Jamie Oliver's Minted Peas.  This is, of course, part of Jamie's Food Revolution, so I hope you like it!

I do have a confession to make...ok, more like a disclaimer.  So, to quote Ella after taking a bite of these peas, "I'm not really crazy about the peas..." (and she usually likes peas).

But, Greg and I were, so here you go!
Take a picture of the book page....check.

Get out my ingredients...check.

Tell Stout to GET OFF THE COUNTER....um, Stout? Where is he?  He's either really upset about the 'no-more-on-the-counter-because-that-mean-puppy-is-chasing-you-when-you-are-secretly-friends' rule or.....
He's afraid of the electric knife (the peas were for our Thanksgiving in July dinner, which happens just about every year when we didn't cook the turkey the Thanksgiving before).
Must be the knife. He's never too mad to cook with me.

Anyway, all you'll need is:
-2 scallions (I didn't have any, so I used onion)
-1 butterhead lettuce or 1 romaine heart
-4 c. frozen or fresh peas
-2 heaping teaspoons flour
-2 pats of butter (I used one)
-1 vegetable or chicken boullion cube + 1/2 c water (I just used 1/2 c. chicken stock)
-salt and pepper
-4 sprigs of fresh mint

First, prepare your veggies - chop the scallions (onions), wash and finely slice the lettuce, and finely chop the leaves from the mint sprigs.
Put the scallions into a pan with the butter and fry for a minute or so.  Stir in the flour adn then add the peas and lettuce.  Pour in the water and add the boullion cube or pour in the broth.
Let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and then mix in the fresh mint!  Serve with turkey and sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving any time of year (that part is optional).
We especially love Thanksgiving in summer, because Greg grills/smokes the turkey on his big ole grill!

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    My name is Kristen Porter ~ I am a corporate attorney by day, and a writer/artist/renaissance-woman wanna-be by night. 

    This is my blog...my summary of life and attempt to capture small moments forever while appreciating their impermanence.  Those small moments are what make life so wonderful!

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