Date night at The Grange

After being cooped up at home recovering from a sprained ankle, it felt so good to get out this weekend.
Saturday night ended up being a date night for me. Apparently the new dating “rules” say dinner out on the first date is old fashioned or “too much pressure”. I thought I’d buck the trend this time and say yes when I was asked!
We are so lucky in Providence (and Rhode Island really) to have so many great restaurants at our fingertips. My date was not from RI so I was excited to offer my suggestions on where we should go. He is not a huge meat eater so I suggested The Grange, a wonderful “vegetable restaurant” located on the Westside of town.
I felt at home on the grange…right away. A bustling but cozy interior with candles flickering. With a seat for two by the window, it was the perfect setting for getting to know someone. We started out with a pair of craft cocktails; mine: bourbon based with some bitters and what not. His: a vodka base with some thyme and a little more.
With the conversation flowing, we ordered some specials, all sourced from local farms highlighting what’s in season.

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We started out with some perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts with smoked mushroom and a tangy tasty cranberry mustardo on the side.

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Next, some sautéed Pioppino and Oyster mushrooms sourced from R.I. Mushroom Company

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Delicious delicata squash ( did you know you can eat the skin?!) on top of soft polenta with radishes and dollops of parsley pistou.

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To accompany these varied vegetarian dishes, my date chose a bottle of Zinfandel. A perfect choice I might add. Not too intense.

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Still talking and still hungry, we added a couple more plates.
A quinoa salad with lettuces, avocado, beets, sweet potatoes and sprinkling of sunflower seeds and all topped with a roasted garlic dressing.

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Lastly, one of my all time fave dishes: risotto. This dish was so creamy. Incorporated into the creamy rice was: sunchokes, red wine onions, turnips, baby kale and fried green olives.

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We enjoyed our wine, and cleaned our plates. Everything was delicious!

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The night was still young, we were enjoying ourselves. Since we were on the Westside, we drove over to Pastiche. Miraculously we found a parking spot but the charming bakery was mobbed as usual. There was no getting in…. Not a problem. We ended up going to The Duck and Bunny, my choice for best date spot for dessert in Providence. This charming spot on Wickenden St., is considered a “snuggery”. It is an adorable, cozy and warm spot to enjoy a pot of tea

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We also had something sweet, banana and Nutella crepe and a slice of banana cream pie. Scrumptious. A sweet way to end a fabulous evening.

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Whether you’re headed out for a first date or your 100th, I hope you’ll consider these Providence gems.
Here’s to more cozy, romantic, full of promise evenings.

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Road to Recovery

Thursday night I slipped, fell and badly sprained my ankle. Really not the best time to be laid up. Let’s be real there is never a good time to be laid up (or laid off for that matter).
Let’s make the best of this recovery time shall we?

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Since I can’t get around much let alone drive, I’ve been reaching into my freezer, pantry & fridge to see what I have to sustain and help heal me.
From the freezer:
Mushroom Barley Soup! Yumm.
Made this easy soup recently with 10min. Barley from Trader Joe’s, an onion chopped, garlic, and a bunch of sliced mushrooms.

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I sautéed the garlic and onion in some olive oil. Added the mushrooms and then a splash of red wine. Sauté for a bit more. Add a container or so of Beef broth and bring to a boil. Add barley till cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Hearty, warm and comforting.

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From the fridge:
Chicken sausage sautéed and served on a bed of baby spinach with a drizzle of Seggiano extra virgin olive oil, sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Light, healthy and delicious.
From the pantry:
My favorite Tea!

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Best treat of all:

From my friend! Spinach Bacon Pie
So very scrumptious. I’ve been heating this up and enjoying for breakfast or lunch!
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I do spend much of the day with my foot elevated, listening to my favorite Radio Station and job hunting on my computer.
Hopefully, in no time, I’ll be running laps at the track. Until then, have a great day friends!

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Fall Entertaining: Rhody Style

It was a raw, blustery, weekend. I never wanted to leave my cozy apartment. Which actually got me thinking about having friends over and entertaining.
Entertaining friends and family does not have to be an expensive, drawn out ordeal. It can be as easy as pizza pie with the right ingredients!
Here is my local take on a cozy weekend night get-together with friends.
Start off with an Antipasto. My key ingredient is a wonderful Sopressata made by Daniele, Inc.a Family owned and operated charcuterie nestled in the woods of Rhode Island where the air is clean and unspoiled.

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To my board I added, marinated artichoke hearts, assorted olives and peppadew peppers stuffed with my favorite fresh and local mozzarella
The peppers would also taste terrific stuffed with a sharp provolone.
I poured myself a glass of red wine, turned on some music and nibbled and sipped away.

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On to the main course:Pizza!! Made with local ingredients.

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Pizza sauce from Poblano Farm
Fresh Mozzarella from Narragansett Creamery
Prosciutto from Daniele
Crust from The Pizza Gourmet
I put the cheese on first, then added scallion, sliced yellow and orange peppers, prosciutto and dollops of sauce.

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I baked that in the oven at 400degrees for about 6min.

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While the pizza was baking I (poured more wine) tossed arugula lightly with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I topped the pizza with it when it came out of the oven.

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The pizza was scrumptious! As much as I wish I had friends over to join me, it allowed me to enjoy the pizza all to myself. I was not a complete piggy, I did save some for lunch the next day.
Speaking of the next day, l had plenty of prosciutto leftover and eggs were screaming to be scrambled. I got to work pouring myself some coffee
and chopping some vegetables ( summer squash, scallion and cherry tomatoes).

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As the vegetables were sautéing, I whisked my eggs.

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I added the Daniele Prosciutto towards the end of my scramble. What a delicious combination and oh so tasty breakfast.

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Affogato style

We fell back an hour over the weekend — a rainy, blustery weekend. So, of course, I loved the early morning sunshine waking me up today. The downside is… it is dark so soon!
I definitely needed a little pick-me-up on this hectic Monday. My youngest was a brave one during her allergy test so I brought her to our local Ice Cream Cafefor a treat. She went with a scoop of “Milk and Cookies”. I dove right in and ordered an Affogato (drowned), an Italian beverage featuring a scoop of ice cream covered in espresso.

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All these years drinking coffee and loving ice cream, I have never tried this combo. I loved it. This one was Fall inspired, as I had a scoop of pumpkin ice cream in my cup instead of plain vanilla. My eyes about bulged out of my head when the Barista poured 2 espresso shots over my ice cream instead of one. I’ll just be up for a bit and hopefully get loads of work done.
It was a lovely, smooth and creamy combo. Nice mild pumpkin flavor that offset the bitterness of the espresso.
A nice grown up touch would be a splash of Amaretto or even Bourbon. Yumm….
I’ve kicked off my week on a high-speed note.
Happy Fall, friends!

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A Curious Thing Happened

I was feeling inspired today and decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies.
Normally it does not take much to inspire me to bake but this week has been especially challenging. I was laid off last Friday from a company I’ve worked for for 4 1/2yrs.
It was not an utter shock but still stung nonetheless. I’ve been doing a good job of staying off the couch and not feeling completely sorry for myself, but the desire to bake for myself and my girls eluded me till today.

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I stuck with the classic chocolate chip recipe gracing the back of every bag. I had everything I needed in stock so why not? I thought “Wow, I cannot wait to bite into a warm, chewy, crunchy, chocolatey cookie.”
I mean look at these cookies!

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And then, a curious thing happened. As I was biting into this warm morsel, ready to devour a handful, I realized I was not loving it! “Wait, What?!” I know, crazy isn’t it? I blame it on this program. It’s a program I’ve followed twice now with amazing results. The best part? I listen to my body more. Even though I thought I wanted some delicious cookies, what I really wanted was roasted veggies sprinkled with sea salt.
Now the girls will have the cookies to themselves and I won’t gorge myself.
I’m still so happy I felt inspired again to bake. I’m looking forward to pulling out my cookbooks and cooking and baking up a storm this Fall. One of the blessings of being laid off.

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Monday Monday

Was feeling a little blah today. I knew a great way to feel better would be to cook. To me cooking is therapy. I can think thru things while I’m chopping, slicing, pureeing and so on.
Came home from work, put in my apron and went down to the garden. Ha! Ok, who am I kidding? I cannot manage a garden, but I am proud to say I can manage my herb pot!

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I cut some Basil (I am also growing Parsley and Thyme), brought it upstairs and washed and carefully patted dry.

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I placed about 1-2 cups of basil in the food processor. In a non-stick skillet, I toasted about 1/2 cup of walnut halves in a non stick skillet, on low heat stirring until lightly browned. Add nuts to the processor along with some sea salt and a couple cloves of garlic.

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After putting the cover on, I take the little top off, turn the processor on and add olive oil until a smooth consistency is achieved. For pesto I like to use a good extra virgin olive oil. My oil of choice is Seggiano

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Once the pesto was done pureeing, I sautéed half chopped onion, a small clove of garlic chopped and a handful of halved cherry tomatoes. After a few minutes I added 3/4lb of shrimp. Cooked just until pink.

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While everything was being puréed and sautéed, I boiled some rotini until al dente.
I tried my pesto; yumm and so green!
I tossed everything together, pasta, pesto and shrimp sauté. Served myself and smiled.

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This Monday didn’t turn out half bad after all……. Cheers my friends!

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Polo Anyone?!

I’ve lived in Rhode Island for 9 years now and I still have things on my RI Bucket List I want to cross off. Tops on the list? Visits to Block Island, kayaking in South County, a sunset sailboat cruise in Newport Harbor and more. This Summer I finally crossed a big one off my list: Newport Polo!
Matches take place every Saturday from May thru Sept., on the polo grounds of historic Glen Farm in Portsmouth, RI.
In preparation of this super fun Saturday I had 2 decisions: what to bring & what to wear?!! Sandwiches & sundress of course!
Here are Lisa and Theresa looking fab in their sundresses!

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Our friend Frank had arrived early and set up the space. When attending Newport Polo it is best to arrive early(especially if you have general admission tix), to claim a great spot. Plus you have more time to tailgate!!

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Once we had arrived and were settled in with a tasty beverage (Pimms Cup was my cocktail of choice), Theresa and I decided to check out the ‘Alex and Ani Pavilion’. A great viewpoint to be sure. A wonderful place to people watch.

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I was also looking for ladies in hats. I figured that was a Polo tradition; wearing your finest hat to watch the match! I could not find one hat in my closet, but was looking forward to seeing what other ladies found.

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Found some!!!
This one was my fave. I just LOVED this ladies entire outfit! She decorated the hat herself. I’d give her first place. She was so flattered that I stopped her to ask about her hat. She happily posed for a picture.

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Not one to sit still at a fun event like Polo, I was off again in search of terrific tailgaters. There are folks who attend these matches every week and they don’t mess around. Right away I spied some youngsters manning the grill for their Parents. Burgers anyone?!

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It’s easy to make friends at events like this, just say hi, ask them what they’ve got cooking and of course compliment them on their hat!

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The purple lady was a riot with such a fabulous hat! It was her Moms’. She then very enthusiastically offered me her tailgate special: Kahlua S’mores. Carefully broil marshmallows, top with crushed graham crackers. Make an indent in the middle. Add droplets of Kahlua and pop in your mouth. Yumm!

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After about 6 of these(what can I say?! She kept handing me more!), I had to move and check out the “car” tailgaters. These folks are serious. Cool cars, tents, bars and so much glorious food!!

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Because I was so busy socializing, I did not get to participate in the Polo tradition of stomping the divets. I did however make it in time to stick my hand out while the players come around and “high five” everyone “the Polo-way”.

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I also (despite being allergic) wanted to see the horses. So strong and beautiful.

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What a delightful day it was! USA won their match. We took the back roads home through Bristol and made it in time to see a spectacular sunset on Bristol Harbor. I look forward to attending more matches next season.
Today I’m headed to the Brown/Harvard football game, but you still have 1 chance left to experience Newport Polo this season. Today at 4pm are the finals!! Get your chores done and head on down to Glen Farm in Portsmouth and cross this great Rhode Island event off YOUR bucket list.
Cheers!!

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