Blog Recipe Roundup

I try to keep things fresh in the kitchen by trying out new recipes. Variety is extremely important to J and if I can keep it interesting, I have an easier time getting him to eat healthier.

This week I made 30 Minute White Bean + Chicken Soup from how Sweet it is. This soup is amazing and easy to make. The only changes I made was leaving out the mushrooms (I forgot to buy them) and I used an Italian Cheese Blend instead of Fontina Cheese. The bacon flavor of this soup gives it just enough stick to your bones flavor to make it perfect for a winter dinner. I paired the soup with tuna fish sandwiches. Quick and easy as long as you cook the chicken the night before.


Leeks can give soup such an understated flavor. Perfect for those who find onions a bit too strong.

Maverick Ranch Bacon No Nitrates

I love bacon but hate nitrates so only buy nitrate free bacon. (Here is a discussion on nitrate free bacon from Chowhound. I do not find that it tastes worse than regular bacon but everyone is different.)

30 Minute White Bean and Chicken Soup

I am looking forward to eating more of this soup for lunch. It has that will taste better the next day quality to it.

While the soup was cooking, I took some pictures of Tail. He might be possessed.

Possesed Cat

Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Ten Miles, The Mall, And Deep Dish Pizza

I had my first long run of the new training plan yesterday. It was a breezy ten miles through my favorite local park. I ran ten miles on a one mile loop. I need to find some new places to run before my mileage increases.

J needed to go to the mall to pick-up a few things. So we headed into Orlando and to the Mall at Millennia. This mall always has such beautiful Christmas decorations.

Mall at Millenia Christmas Decorations

Mall at Millenia Christmas Tree


If you are interested in seeing more lovely pictures of the decorations, please visit The Good Spot.US.

So we shopped a bit and by that point I was ready to gnaw my arm off.

We headed over to the only deep dish pizza place I like, BJ’s Brewhouse.

I had a Nutty Brewnette, which I always get there and find very tasty, while J had a dirty martini.

Nutty Brewnette & Dirty Martini BJ's Brewhouse

From the BJ’s about the Nutty Brewnette:

Nutty Brewnette® is an American-style brown ale. A blend of four different dark malts contributes to a flavor profile that is sweet with “nutty” notes. A healthy dose of hops makes this beer hoppier and more balanced than most English brown ales.

We had the boneless wings for an appetizer. They were quite good and not greasy at all. I really liked the Garlic Parmesan sauce.

Boneless Wings BJ's Brewhouse

Then comes the pizza with pepperoni and extra cheese. So good.

Pepperoni Pizza BJ's Brewhouse

Two slices each and we were stuffed.

This pizza does really well reheated, so we were glad to have some to take home.

How do you like your pizza?

November: The Month I Ran My First Half


Women’s Half Marathon St. Pete: November of 2011 will now be known as the month I ran my first half. Seeing all the planning and training pay off, all while having a great time running, was really the most wonderful part of the month.

Florida Hospital Celebration Health 10K: I learned what not to eat unless you want to run a 10K with a brick in your stomach.

Food Rut: Talking about my recent food rut was a catalyst in actually seeking out new recipes and planning out my meals. When you have a husband (looking at you J), who has a great need for variety, it’s important to keep dinners interesting and varied while at the same time trying to keep it healthy and cost-effective.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival:The Epcot Food and Wine Festival was filled with fun (and beer and food). Even though it was cold and crowded, J and I ate from one country to another. I love Epcot, it’s always interesting to be drunk at Disney and I can imagine it is much more fun to do that without kids.

Biggest Failure:

F Is For Failure: I took a day off of work to see the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn and fell asleep at 8PM.

Favorite Pictures:

Cat Stare

Sleeping Cat Gives The Evil Eye

Cute Cat Ready To Attack

The only picture of me at the Women’s Half Marathon. My number was scrunched up under my FuelBelt which I did not notice until I saw this picture.

St. Pete Women's Half Marathon 2011


Women's Half Marathon St. Pete Bag

What are your highlights for November?

Walt Disney World Food And Wine Festival 2011

J and I picked the worst day for the Food and Wine Festival. Not only was it cold and windy (for Florida) but it was packed. We have annual passes and go to Epcot regularly, I have never seen this many people there ever.

Disney Food and Wine Festival

Disney Food and Wine Festival Sign

We made do and decided that drinking lots of beer would be the best way to warm up.

Disney Food and Wine Beer

In Canada we had Cheddar Cheese Soup and Moosehead Beer. That soup never fails to impress. If you are in Epcot, I highly recommend eating at Le Cellier.

Disney Food and Wine Canada Soup and Beer

They had a cranberry bog which was new this year. It kind of reminded me of home, we have a lot of these in New England.

Cranberry Bog

Cranberry Bog Food and Wine Festival

I asked J if he would take a picture of me because I am never in any of our pictures.

The first was taken before I realized he was taking one. He found this hilarious.


Next one was fine.

DinaRuns 2

Look how windy it is.

DinaRuns 3

My favorite beer of the day was the Kona Pipeline.

Kona Pipeline Beer

The description from their website:

Pipeline Porter is smooth and dark with a distinctive roasty aroma and earthy complexity from its diverse blends of premium malted barley. This celebration of malt unites with freshly roasted 100% Kona coffee grown at Cornwell Estate on Hawaii’s Big Island, lending a unique roasted aroma and flavor. A delicate blend of hops rounds out this palate-pleasing brew.

You could smell and taste the coffee flavor. This may be my new favorite beer.

Kona Pipeline Beers

Our last food stop was in America. We had the lobster roll, lobster claw, and the pumpkin moose. The beer is the Sam Adams brewed yearly for the Food and Wine Festival.

Lobster Sam Adams Pumpkin Mouse

I had to include my favorite view in all of Epcot.


This is a view from the bridge leading into France. It is also the spot where J proposed.

What’s your favorite beer?

Happy Hour

I actually did something on Friday after work other than putting on my pajamas, eating Subway, and catching up on TV with J. Being a year out for the 2012 Presidential Campaign, the ground work is being set-up, to start organizing. I met with one such organizer yesterday to discuss how I could help and get the Polk County Young Democrats involved.

We met at Ave Bar in Winter Haven.

Ave Bar Winter Haven Florida


Ave Bar is located next to Arabellas which is on my want to try restaurant list. I was surprised that it was so crowded. The place was packed!

I ordered a Blue Moon.

Blue Moon Beer

It was yummy.

I took a look at the menu.

Bistro Pizza Winter Haven Florida

It was pretty extensive and mostly Italian. Definitely worth a return visit for dinner.

I ordered the Caprese Salad. If I see this on a menu, I almost always order it. It contains all of my favorite things which are cheese, basil, and olive oil. (It was good minus the fact that I burned to roof of my mouth a few days ago shoveling a too hot burrito into it. So of course the acidic tomatoes and balsamic vinegar mixed with beer and an orange was burning! Oh well, I was hungry and thirsty so I took it like a champ.)

Ave Bar Carpese Salad Winter Haven Florida

I didn’t stay out too late. J was waiting for me with Subway, Chuck, and my pajamas.

Do you have a go to meal that you always order?

Alton Brown Is My Cooking God (Baked Potatoes A Love Story)

I make the worlds worst baked potatoes. (You can ask J and he will surely confirm.) They are always under cooked and rarely have a crispy outside. So who to turn to with a culinary dilemma?



I used the recipe found here. The key is poking holes in the potato and cooking directly on the oven rack. Genius! I did change-up one thing, instead of canola oil I used Roasted Garlic Oil from Stonewall Kitchen.


I picked this up on a trip to the Cheese Shop On Park. If you like garlic, this is a must try.

I try to purchase fish once a week for dinner and always will purchase salmon when they have the wild caught variety in the store. I rubbed more of the Roasted Garlic Oil on the fish with salt/pepper and some Italian seasoning and cooked it in parchment.


Found a new use for my Touchpad. Sirius while cooking.


A few other tips I learned from AB (I can call him that because I follow him on the Twitter.)

1. When making nachos, use balls of tinfoil to prop cooling racks on top of a baking sheet. You can make a ton at one time and it makes clean-up easier.

2. You can use parsnips instead of carrots while baking.

3. Cooking should be fun and you don’t need a ton of fancy gadgets.

Besides being sick, I got some bad news at work today. Eating a baked potato that was actually cooked all the way through may have been the highlight of my day.

Do you love Alton Brown?

Have any great cooking tips to share?

What I Ate Wednesday Birthday Edition

Today is my 30th birthday. I feel happy but kind of sad at the same time. (Mostly sad that I have to work and this is the busiest time of the year. Not sure I ever want to work another job where the fiscal year-end is the same week as my birthday.)

Regular readers will know about my 30 Before 30 list. I will be writing an update about that later in the week.

Now onto the food.




Plus black coffee.

Lunch was a salad beast.

Lunch Salad



Grape Tomatoes


Chick Peas

Feta Cheese

Olive Oil

Also a peach, not pictured.

Snacks were string cheese times two and two bananas.

String Cheese


Dinner was leftover salad. Pretty much the same as lunch, minus the tuna.

Dinner Salad

Pasta recipe from this months Runner’s World. It was OK but the meatballs were really good.

Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Feta

Smart Taste Pasta

Turkey Meatballs (with more feta)

Feta Cheese

Do you do anything special for your Birthday?

Is 30 the new 25?

What I Ate Wednesday

Yesterday’s run was kind of crappy. During it, I started to realize that doing a hard 60 minute workout the day after running seven miles might not have been the best idea. - If I ever had to run for my life, I would probably die.


Live and learn. Moving forward, I will probably have Sunday be an easy or rest day.

Now for the money shots, a day in the life of Dina’s food.


Cereal Kefir Shredded Wheat Uncle Sams

Shredded Wheat

Uncle Sam’s

Sliced Almonds


Strawberry Kefir




Salad with Goat Cheese

Super Greens

Grape Tomatoes



Goat Cheese


Olive Oil

String Cheese

String Cheese


Chobani Lemon Yogurt


Pre-Run Snack

Wasa Cracker

Whole Grain Wasa Cracker



Six-Inch Veggie on Honey Oat Bread (From Subway)



Green Peppers


Swiss Cheese

One Pickle


One bag of Baked Lay’s

This post linked up with peas & crayons for What I Ate Wednesday.

Were you able to buy the livingsocial deal for Whole Foods? It is crazy to me how much buzz the deal got and how many were sold. Should be interesting to see if more grocery stores jump on the bandwagon.



Bloggers Invade El Bodegon

Wednesday night, I went out on a work night (trust me, this is a shocking occurrence.) I was lucky to get to break bread with a lovely group of Central Florida Bloggers.

We ate at a local Spanish restaurant called El Bodegon. The restaurant would be great for a date night, very cozy and romantic. I had a salad and chicken that was cooked in garlic and lemon.

El Bodegon Chicken

I really liked the salad but the chicken was just OK. I did love the many olive’s on both dishes, can rarely go wrong with those.

(The pictures below are courtesy of Michelle and her camera that takes very nice pictures.)

Central Florida Lady Bloggers 2

(An actual picture of me, please be amazed.)

Central Florida Lady Bloggers 3

Central Florida Lady Bloggers

(Photo below courtesy of Claudia.)

blogger 2

I had a lot of fun and was also able to check off something from my 30 Before 30 List.

12. Do one thing that makes me uncomfortable (like introducing myself to people) and get comfortable with it.

I am not shy exactly but meeting new people and putting myself “out there” can make me anxious but it is something I want to do more of. Plus the more you do anything, the easier it gets.

Please take a moment to check out the women above and their blogs.

Kristina from Love and Zest

Claudia from Sanford 365

Roz from Roz Pearcy

Michelle from Crazy*Running*Legs

Jackie from MomJovie

Carolina from Peas In A Blog (She also sent me the invite. Thanks!)

Katherina from Zephyr Runs

Andrea from Run, Eat, Date, Sleep

Have you ever attended a blogger meet-up?

Do you ever get anxious meeting new people?

What’s For Dinner Wednesday

This weeks dinners have been quick and easy.

Monday was tuna on sprouted toast with sun dried tomatoes and greens. Left over white bean humus from The Shipyard Emporium with baby carrots.

Tuna Carrot Hummus

Tuesday was Turkey Tacos (you can also use chicken or bison here.)

1 1/4 or Ground Turkey Breast

1 Tbs. chili powder

1 Tbs. red pepper

1 Tsp. ground cumin

Sprinkle of salt and garlic powder

Cook for about ten minutes.

Add one can of kidney beans and heat.

Toppings included avocado and lime, salsa, Mexican cheese blend, and jalapeno’s.

Turkey Taco 1

I eat the rest of the turkey and salsa on assorted greens for lunch during the week. That is one of the great things about cooking like you have a family of four but being only two people.

Recipes To Try:

Avocado Basil Pesto These are some of my favorite things.

Sprouted Lentil Humus Burger Have tried some raw foods but would like to try more.

Pasta with Fennel, Sardines, and Pine Nuts – I am obsessed with sardines. I may gross out my coworkers by eating sardine sandwiches at work.

Any great new recipes to share?

Do you (or someone you work with) eat something at lunch that grosses you out?