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August 21, 2011

Hey guys!  Things are getting crazy here!  I’m almost through getting the blog on my new domain.

  So from now on visit the new site:  [still under construction]

Thanks for being so patient with me!!!

You guys rock!

Vanessa 🙂

Secret Ingredient — Peaches

August 19, 2011

As promised today is all about the Secret Ingredient Challenge!! 


Peaches are everywhere you look this time of year, so why not show them off a little, right?

The whole purpose to this challenge is to really exercise my creative side when it comes to food.

Sure I could have done something common like a peach cobbler or crisp, but everyone does that.

So I decided to use the peaches in a savory dish rather than a more familiar sweet one.

So what did I make?

:: Drumroll ::

Peach Gazpacho!

I liked the idea of a gazpacho with a sweet punch to it.

The peach wasn’t in your face, more of an underlying flavor, but it complimented the other ingredients quite well.

Here’s my main ingredient list:

Cucumber, tomatoes, garlic, shallot, parsley and of course, peaches.

First thing I did was prepped the ingredients, like so.

I peeled and pitted the peaches then chopped them.  I peeled the cucumber and chopped it.  Tomatoes were chunked and the rest of the ingredients were coarsely chopped as well.

I, contrary to previous cold soups that I’ve made, decided to not cook any of the ingredients.  So everything went in the blender as they were.

I added some other flavorings at this time too.

Salt, black pepper, white balsamic vinegar, sriracha and olive oil.

That’s it.  Just hit blend and let it get to the desired consistency.  In my case, smooth.

I quality controlled the soup to make sure it didn’t need anything. It didn’t.

Time to bowl it up!

I garnished it with some greek yogurt, avocado, torn parsley and crushed tortilla chips.

I really wanted to put some extra diced peaches on top, but I had a brain fart and pureed them all.


I know I say this everytime I make a cold soup, but this was SO refreshing!

This has been the Summer of cold soups and agua frescas.

I’m not complaining.

That’s a spoonful of YUM right there.

Just sayin…

Peach Gazpacho

Servings: 2 


3 Peaches

1 small Garlic clove

1/2 Shallot

1/2 of a Tomato [I used a Cherokee Purple]

1/4 of a Cucumber

White balsamic vinegar, just a splash

Sriracha, a tiny squirt [if you like a little heat]

Salt + Pepper, to taste

Olive oil, just a drizzle [maybe a few Tbsp.]

Parsley, a few Tbsp. chopped.

Garnish that I used [but not limited to]: Avocado, parsley and greek yogurt.


— Peel, seed and chunk peaches.  Peel and chunk cucumber.  Chunk tomato.  Peel and chop garlic and shallot.  Chop parsley.

— Stick all ingredients in a blender and puree until desired consistency.  Taste and adjust as necessary.

–Stick in refrigerator until cold.

–Bowl up the soup and garnish as you wish.


Hope you guys try it out! It’s yummy!

It turns out that I’m not the only one who took on the challenge this week!

I was thrilled when I heard that Laura from Blogging Over Thyme, wanted to participate!!!  Someone who was just as excited as I was about this!  Laura actually inspired me with picking peaches for our first challenge so thanks!!

She made a delicious looking smoothie with her farm fresh peaches!

[Photo by Laura]

Seriously I want one of these STAT!

Check out her blog for the recipe and nutrition stats on her delicious creation!

Thanks SO much Laura for participating with me and sharing what you did!  🙂

I will return soon to announce the next secret ingredient!!

Muahhh. [Evil laugh]

Hope you all enjoy your Friday evening!  I’m off to find some grub here in Bristol, TN!

Vanessa 🙂

Chowin’ Down Uptown

August 18, 2011

In case anyone was wondering I’m still procrastinating.

I’d say I’m about 80% packed for Tennessee and um, 10% packed for NY and Jersey.


I did a few productive errands today but got way sidetracked by a trip to the mall.

I did pick up two skirts from Anthropologie for $30 each!  So I guess all’s not lost.

Then before I knew it, it was time to meet some Charlotte Food Bloggers at Chow Down Uptown!

I met Julie, Taylor, Jamie and Mary Uptown.


The place was jammin’ by 5:45!

It makes me happy that so many people support this event.  It really is great.

I’ve always said that if I somehow or someway had the money, I’d start my own food truck.  I mean the food is the easy part.  It’s the money and permits that get tricky.  Alas, it will stay a dream for now.  [Hint, hint to any investors out there 🙂 ]

There was a giant inflatable pig in the parking lot.

I like him.

I perused the trucks trying to decide what I wanted to get.

I decided on Roaming Fork first.

This truck always seems to have the longest line and wait, which I admit peeves me a bit but it is what it is.

It just means good business for them!

I got the parmesan, garlic and herb french fries.

You really can’t go wrong with fries.

They were pretty tasty.

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to get for my main dinner.

That is until Roots pulled up and joined in the fun.

I have a thing for this food truck.  I don’t think I’ve had anything bad from it.

::Knock on wood::

I chose two jerk chicken tacos for dinner.

The tacos were topped with a melon slaw and greek yogurt.

These were so YUM!

I loved the melon slaw on top.  So genius.

After we all had our meals, we decided to have a cupcake party from Cupcake Delirium!

Mary got the lemon blueberry cupcake and Jamie got the Smore’s cupcake.


Both looked delish!

Taylor got the amazing, delicious Elvis cupcake [which I clearly forgot to photograph].

I must admit the Elvis was tempting, but I was determined to try something new.

So I asked the creator which one she thought was better, the root beer float cupcake or the vanilla caramel pretzel cupcake.

She convinced me into the root beer float cupcake by saying it was pretty rare that she makes them.


This was so good.

The root beer was subtle enough where it wasn’t overpowering.

The frosting was AH-MAZ-ING.

So glad I got this.

I kind of want another one.

Then we noticed that Fox news was there and I decided to be crazy and stalk the paparazzi.

You can just call me the “stalk”arazzi.


Sort of.

We even saw few familiar faces at the rally!

Julie saw a few of her students [SO cute!].  We saw Scott [Charlotte’s social media guy] too, one of those people you tweet with but never met in person! So that was cool!

We talked some more about eating more than boys and My Drunk Kitchen videos and then we parted ways.

Not before we snapped a picture of all of us!

[Thanks for the photo Taylor!]

Now I’m attempting to finish packing.

Should be starting my drive sometime between 9-10 am tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Check out my corn and avocado soup that was featured on chilled summer soup slideshow!


Vanessa 🙂

Spicy Zucchini and Corn Relish

August 17, 2011

It’s Wednesday.

That means I’m leaving for my first work trip in less than two days.


This is why I haven’t blogged in two days, STRESSED!

Laundry. Packing. Cleaning everything. More laundry.

That’s been my life.  So I apologize for my horrible blogger manners.

Another thing I’ve been doing has been cleaning out the fridge.

Today I wanted to use up the zucchini and corn that I had.

At first I was thinking of making a cake, but then I changed my mind and made this delicious relish!

A delicious, spicy zucchini and corn relish, to be more specific.

First I diced up the zucchini and threw it into a bowl.

Fun fact:  I secretly love making things when they need to be cut smaller.  It’s like therapy.


Sometimes when I’m stressed and just plain pissed off in the kitchen I’ll grab some mushrooms or a cucumber and slice it really fast.

I’m telling you, it works wonders.

Plus I get to practice knife skills, which sometimes go by the wayside.

Anyways, back to the relish.

Next I cut the corn kernels off a cob and added the kernels to the zucchini.

I’m really going to miss Summer corn.

I diced up some white onion and threw it into the mix.

Then I got crazy and chopped up some [homemade] pickled jalepenos.

In the bowl they went.

Seeds and all!

Hence the spicy portion of the relish.

I heated up some olive oil in a saute pan and added the zucchini and corn mixture to it.

At this time I spontaneously added a few chopped frozen peppers to the pan too.

I stirred it all around and really let it get all caramelized.

I seasoned it with salt and pepper and squeezed some lime juice into it.  Oh and I added a little honey for sweetness too.

Once done, I sprinkled in some chopped parsley and removed it from the heat.

Now this relish would be fine on its own with a bag of tortilla chips.

However I wanted to use it as a condiment of sorts.

Although I’m sure some of it will get eating with chips anyway.

:: Ding ::

^^Lightbulb went off

A grilled hot dog is a perfect vehicle for the spicy relish!

Now usually I’m pretty picky about what goes on a hot dog.

I almost always say sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard is the way to go.

Definitely NOT that horrible French’s yellow mustard. Blegh.

This corn relish was pretty tasty on top of the hot dog though.

It was sweet and spicy all at the same time.

Mmmh delish!

Can’t wait to use this on more things in the next couple days.

Alright, I’m off to drink a glass of wine do some more cleaning.

Food truck rally tomorrow with some Charlotte Food Bloggers!!  I can’t wait to eat a cupcake and see some awesome people too of course 🙂

Oh one more thing.  I announced this on Twitter but in case you missed it.  The deadline for the Peaches secret ingredient challenge ends Friday!  So if you participated feel free to tell me what you did or send pictures!  I’ll be showing you guys what I did with my peaches on Friday too!


Vanessa 🙂

Cleaning Out The Fridge Gnocchi

August 14, 2011

I got a late start today.

My body begged me to stay in bed.  I didn’t put up a fight.

Finally, I got up, had my coffee, took a shower and got dressed for the day.

I decided to be at least a little productive today.  So I put a load of laundry in.

Then I decided to take inventory of the food in my fridge to see what I needed to use up.

It was obvious I had my work cut out for me.  I had tons of leftovers in tupperware containers inhabiting my shelves.

So I started to think of my fridge as a mystery basket from “Chopped”.

Butternut squash.  Potato.  Ricotta cheese.  Egg.  Parmesan cheese.


What I came up with was pretty darn tasty.

“Cleaning out the Fridge Gnocchi”

It should be noted I did not measure a thing for this dinner.  I just added things until it felt right.

That probably makes no sense to anyone but me.

Anyways, I started by putting the ricotta cheese [promise a post next week about this] into a bowl.


  To the cheese I added one egg.

I mashed up the leftover butternut squash and potato that I had and then added that to the bowl.


Then I grated some parmesan cheese into the mix too.

I mixed all of that together until it was incorporated pretty well.


Then I added some flour into the bowl.

I wasn’t sure how much flour I was going to need, so I started with 1/2 cup and worked my way up until it felt right.

From what I understand from the few times I’ve made gnocchi, is that you know the dough is ready when it’s “tacky”.  Meaning you want it to be sticky, but not too sticky where it’s getting stuck in between your fingers.

Make sense?

I chilled the gnocchi dough for about 20 minutes and then I floured a board and dumped some of the dough out on it.

I gently rolled out the dough into a rope, sprinkling more flour if needed.

Then I cut them into little square/rectangles.

You could leave them just like that, as little nuggets if you wanted to.

But I wanted more.

There’s a few methods to forming gnocchi.  You can “thumb” them or “fork” them.

I wanted to fork them.

All that means is that you roll the gnocchi nuggets along the tines of the fork to create ridges.

As I “forked” them, I placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet, lightly dusted with flour.

Don’t they look so cute?

Once I was finished “forking”, I placed the whole tray in the freezer until I was ready for dinner.

[[…Cue Jeopardy theme song…]]

Once it was time for dinner, I put a pot of salted water on the stove until it came up to a boil.

Then I added the frozen gnocchi to the pot.

You know the gnocchi is done when the float to the top.

It literally takes a minute or so, if that.

Side note:  While the gnocchi was cooking I melted some butter in a saute pan and browned it.

Once they floated I transferred them [via spider] to the pan with the brown butter.

I tossed the gnocchi in the pan with the butter and added some frozen peas and walnuts to it as well.

I just tossed it all together until the peas thawed and walnut toasted a little.

Then I dumped it into a bowl and topped it with some fresh herbs and more parmesan cheese.


You know for being what it was, these guys were actually pretty good.

Were they my best gnocchi?

No, but they were tasty for sure.

I was wishing that I had sage leaves though.  Fried sage leaves, butternut squash, brown butter = Trifecta.

A small bowl of these go a long way, as they are super rich with the ricotta and butter.

So I put the other half of the gnocchi is a plastic bag and kept them in the freezer for a later date.

Maybe when I have sage leaves. 🙂

All in all I’m pretty satisfied with how my spontaneous, mystery basket of a dinner turned out.

I’m sure the “Chopped” judges would have given me an “A” for creativity 🙂

Have a good night!!


Girl’s Night Out

August 13, 2011

Today I was at work at 6 am.

I didn’t have high hopes for doing much of anything after I got off work.

I thought my afternoon and evening would be full of laundry, napping and movies.

Then I got a tweet from the lovely Mary extending an invite to dinner and a movie with her and Jamie .

Hell yeah.  Girl’s night out!

We saw Harry Potter and it was surprisingly kind of crowded in the theater.  Meaning all of the prime seats were taken.


It also should be known that this was the first Harry Potter movie I went to go see in the movie theater.  I was never a huge fanatic, but enjoy watching the movies when they are on tv.

After the movie, we decided to walk over to the restaurant for dinner.

Cafe Monte, a french style bistro!

None of us had been here before so it was a new experience!

The decor was so cute and charming.

Complete with display cases of pastries and desserts.

Just as it should be.

Our reservations weren’t until 7:00 and we arrived around 6:30, so we sat at the bar and had drink while we browsed the menu.


A glass of Pinot Noir for me.

We finally got seated and decided on sharing a four cheese fondue for an appetizer.

Gruyere, Swiss, Mozzarella and Pecorino all bubbly and melted together in a cute little crock.

Sliced french rounds bread for dipping.

I can’t think of a better vehicle for cheese.

For my entree, I chose the Trout Amandine.

The trout was tasty and the skin was crispy.

It was served with french green beans, fingerling potatoes and caper butter.

Mmh caper butter.

Twas’ delicious.

Of course being the nosey person that I am, I took pictures of the other entrees at the table.

Jamie got the Lobster and Crab risotto with tomato confit.

It looked delicious.

Mary got the Chicken and Wild Mushroom Crepes in a Madeira Wine Creme.

Not gona lie, these crepes looked pretty darn good.

Too bad I’m not a fan of mushrooms.

We weren’t sure whether or not we were going to get dessert.

After perusing the dessert menu, we decided to share a huge slice of carrot cake.

Mmh carrot cake.

It was even more delicious washed down with some french roast coffee.

Twas’ a fabulous girl’s night out.

Thank you kind bartender for going out of your way and taking our picture. 

Great dinner with great company.

Nashville here we come!! 🙂

In October of course…

In other news I’m off tomorrow, woo!  Not sure what trouble I’ll get myself into.

Any suggestions?!



Procrastination Station

August 11, 2011

Well hello there readers!!!

Usually this is a food blog full of pictures and delicious meals.

However as of lately it’s become what I like to call “Procrastination Station”.

Meaning it’s become one of my favorite forms of procrastination.

Instead of being productive with my free time, and getting things worked out and together for my month of work traveling, I’ve been doing everything but.

Here are some of my favorite forms of procrastination…

Making to-do lists and drinking wine.

Seriously, I have an insane amount of lists going on right now.

Some necessary. Some not so much.


Watching tv show marathons.

Yesterday was Top Chef.  Today was America’s Next Top Model and Chopped.

What will tomorrow be??

I’d have to say though, that cooking in my kitchen has been hands down my favorite form of procrastination.

I’ve been cooking lots of savory things to get rid of some produce in my fridge before next Friday.

So I thought today would be an opportune time to squeeze in some baking.

So I stalked out some blogs [<–Procrastination]

And found a recipe for these gooey chocolate cookies.

Thanks to Tracy’s blog Shutterbean.

Note: Another form of procrastination has been listening to Tracy and Joy the Baker’s podcast.  If you like sarcasm, good laughs, food and downright craziness, then this podcast is for you.  Seriously check it here.

Chocolate overload.

Totally better than brownies.

I love it.

I’ve also been daydreaming in “la-la land” lately too.

I’m lusting to go to the Foodbuzz festival in San Francisco, but don’t have the funds to do so.


But I’ve been thinking about my upcoming roadtrip to Nashville with some  fabulous  blogger  ladies.

And I’m getting really, really excited.

Oh, and I should mention I was a tiny bit productive today.

I took my first baby steps to becoming self-hosted.  I had already bought a domain name but today finally bought a hosting plan.


Now comes the tricky stuff.

Cross your fingers.

Alright, time to go procrastinate some more with another cookie and my daily dose of trashy reality tv drama via Jersey Shore.

Speaking of Jersey Shore, after I finish up working in New York, I managed to get a flight back to Charlotte at the end of the week, which means guess who’s hanging out at home for a few days?  <–This girl.

Note: It’s been a good two years since I made a trip to the old stomping grounds.  I think I’m way past due.

Have a good night!!

Vanessa 🙂

Pie in the Sky

August 10, 2011

Today I was convinced technology hated me.

It took me the longest time to upload pictures because my computer was not cooperating.

There was even a point a time where I thought I wasn’t going to get this post up at all.

That all of my hard work in the kitchen had gone to waste.

So I stepped away from the computer, had a glass of wine, ate dinner and took my mind off of technology by catching up on celebrity gossip.

When I felt somewhat calm again, I returned to my computer and attempted to upload my pictures one last time.

And wouldn’t you know it.  It worked. 🙂

I cooked up a storm today in my kitchen. I made a ton of things that I’m hoping to blog about in the next coming weeks.

One of the projects I was most excited to make was homemade pizza!

That meant dough from scratch!

I used this recipe as guidance, since it was my first time making the dough.  Better safe than sorry right?

So first I dissolved one packet of active dry yeast into 1 1/2 cups warm water.

Then in a separate bowl I mixed together 5 cups all purpose flour and 1 1/2 tsp. salt.

Once mixed, I added the yeast/water mixture to the flour and salt.

I mixed it together until it formed a soft dough ball.

If you follow the recipe above exactly, you’ll need to add a little more water, as the dough is a bit dry.  No biggie though, just add water one spoonful at a time until it comes together.

I floured my countertop and kneaded the dough for about 1o minutes.


Man it’s been awhile since I’ve kneaded dough.  It’s a workout in itself!

Once the dough was smooth, I oiled a large bowl, put the dough in it and covered it loosely with a damp dish towel.


I stuck it in my oven [that was turned off] for about 2 hours, until it doubled in size.

Woohoo it grew!

I was a little excited at this point.  That means I did something right.

I took the bowl out of the oven and punched the down in the center to deflate it. <–That was fun too


Then I transferred the deflated dough onto the countertop and cut it into three pieces.

I formed each piece into a ball and put them in their own [oiled] bowls.


I covered them loosely with plastic wrap and put them back in the oven to rest for another hour or so.

Then I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap.  I froze two of them and put the other one in the fridge for later.

Since the oven was now free, I figured I’d get started on some pizza toppings!

I sliced and roasted some butternut squash and potato.


I just seasoned them with olive oil, salt and pepper.

I cooked them in a 375 degree oven F until they were tender and took them out to cool.

Once it was close to dinner time, I took out the pizza dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.

Then I floured the countertop [again] and rolled out the dough.

I like a somewhat thinner crust so I rolled mine out until I was happy with the thickness and transferred it to a greased sheet pan.

I pricked a few holes in it with a fork and drizzled a little olive oil over top.

I blind baked it in a 350 degree F oven until about halfway cooked through.

I then took it out and let it cool a little.

Then it was time for the toppings!

I used this amazingly creamy ricotta cheese that I made [posting about that soon] as the base.

Then I topped it with the roasted potato, butternut squash, some caramelized red onions [had them in the fridge], Cherokee purple tomato and grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.

I baked it for another few minutes and then turned the oven to broil to really crisp and brown everything.

When it came out I sprinkled a little oregano, fresh parsley and garlic gold nuggets over top.

Then things got crazy and I drizzled some balsamic reduction over it all. Ohhh yeah.

Served with a glass of cheap, Trader Joe’s red wine and I’m a happy girl.

This is a billion times better than any frozen or delivery pizza that I’ve ever had.

Seriously between the homemade crust and ricotta cheese I was dying with how good this was.

I’ve also never had butternut squash on a pizza and you know what?

That was delicious too!  It added a nice bit of sweetness.

I can’t wait for the leftovers tomorrow.

The true test of this pizza will be if it’s just as delicious cold.

Yes I’m a sucker for cold pizza.

So what did we learn today?

– When technology or other life things suck, step away from it for a little and do something else.  More times than not, it will work itself out.

– Make your pizza dough. Seriously go get the flour and yeast and do it now!  You’ll thank me later.

Have a good night!

Vanessa 🙂

P.S. Don’t forget to challenge yourself!

P.S.S.  Charlotte Food Bloggers are meeting up at Chow Down Uptown Food Truck Rally on Thursday 8/18!  A day before I leave on my work trip, yikes!  Hope to see some of you there!

The Challenge

August 9, 2011

Hey guys!

Do you know what today is?

Yes, I’m aware that it’s Tuesday.  Guess again.

Today is the day that I’m announcing the first ingredient in my “Secret Ingredient Challenge”!

Any guesses what it might be?

I went to the market today with a completely open mind and honestly bought a few things that I never buy.

With so many things to chose from, I wanted to go with something seasonal and fresh.

After all, that’s when food tastes the best right?

So this week’s secret ingredient is…



[Laura you will be ecstatic with this one]

Peaches are so in right now at the markets.  People are selling them by the case, literally.

So I thought why not take advantage of it?

Yeah, I didn’t buy a case, just so you guys know.

So what’s the rules in this challenge?

The point is to take the secret ingredient, in this case peaches, and make something delicious with it being the star.

Example: peach cobbler. 

As far as a time frame goes, I’m going to set it at one week from the time the ingredient is revealed.

Remember this challenge isn’t just for me, it’s for all of you guys too!  So if you feel like participating don’t be shy and let me know!

If you take pictures or make a recipe or blog about it yourself, I want to know!  Send me the link or pictures, etc. and I’ll include it in my post a week from now!

So what’s in a peach?

Only you can decide…

Any questions?

Your challenge starts….


Vanessa 🙂

Sunday Eats.

August 7, 2011

Typically on Sundays I like to be in the kitchen all day experimenting and creating new things.

However today was not one of those typical days.

I cleaned like a mad woman.

I ate cold pizza for breakfast.

I did laundry.

Then instead of coming up with something new, I turned to food that felt comforting to me.

An old, childhood favorite, crispy, baked chicken wings.

They’re really pretty simple.

Just make your own spice blend of your choice.

Honestly I’m not even sure if I remember exactly what I put in that mix.

Paprika was there.  So was garlic powder and salt.  The rest is a blur.

It should be noted that as I was gathering spices, I knocked over my black sesame seeds.

Let’s just say I’m still picking them up.

Damnit man.

So once the spice blend is done.  Then I just took my really awesome and favorite broiler pan and sprayed it with non stick spray [you can never be too careful].

I washed and patted dry some chicken wings and put them on the broiler pan.

I generously sprinkled them with the spice blend, but only on one side.


I baked them in a 375 degree F oven for about 25 minutes.

Then I flipped over the wings to the other side.

And sprinkled them with more spices.


Then back in the oven they went for another 20 minutes.

While those were going, I went rummaging through my fridge to see what produce I could use up.

Since I have an overabundance of potatoes, I went that route.

I just wedged a couple sweet potatoes and tossed them with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.

Onto a sheet pan they went and in the oven for 20 minutes or so.

It also should be noted that I flipped the chicken wings back over to the side they started on and popped them back in for 10 minutes to finish.

A few minutes of waiting and dinner is served!

Ketchup on the side for the sweet potato wedges of course 🙂


I love these wings for a few reasons…

1. SO freaking flavorful.  Plus you can customize the spices in a million different ways. No sauce needed.

2. No frying!! Which means no messy fry oil to clean up. Major points!

3. Crispy, delicious skin. Oh yeah, I said it.

I also was a good girl and ate my veggies in the form of a salad.

Romaine lettuce, avocado, red onion, Cherokee purple tomato, corn, black beans, feta cheese and a homemade fig balsamic vinaigrette.

You know come to think of it, that salad would have been good on its own for dinner.

But hey, it’s Sunday and I wanted a feast.

Plus now I have leftovers for tomorrow.  Winning!

Alright this girl’s got some reality tv shows to watch! Hellooo Real Housewives and Kardashians.

Please don’t judge me.

[What are your favorite reality shows?]


Vanessa 🙂

P.S.  Planning on choosing an ingredient for the secret ingredient challenge this week.  It has not been decided yet, so open for suggestions and ideas!