Saturday, May 18, 2013

Strawberry Balsamic Flatbread with Goat Cheese & Mint

Hi Everyone! Happy Saturday!  It's a beautiful Spring day here today.  So much has happened this week (with lots of good food!) and the days are going by so fast.  It's hard to believe there is only a month left of school.  We can feel summer coming! I started planting flowers in my yard earlier this week and discovered that aside from frosting a cake, planting is the best therapy known to man! By far my favorite hobby~

Before I tell you about the yummy strawberry flatbread I made for Mother's day, I have to tell you about my latest read.  It's the second Sarah Addison Allen book I've read this month called The Girl Who Chased the Moon. O-M-Gosh - it was fantastic!  Good enough to keep me up till 3 am just to finish it.  My expectations were pretty high after Garden Spells, but I must admit I like this one just as much if not a bit better.  Like in Garden Spells, there is an element of magic and mystery (like a bedroom were the wallpaper changes on it's own - pretty cool, right?), and also a common theme of going back home and facing your past. Seventeen year old Emily Benedict's mother has suddenly passed away, and she is sent to live with a grandfather that she never even knew she had, in her mother's childhood home.  There she discovers that her mother was not the person Emily thought she was.  She encounters her mother's old schoolmates and finds out why she left town and never returned.  There is also subplot between two of her mother's former classmates, Julia & Sawyer, that had me sobbing around 2 am last Saturday evening : - )

And now for the flatbread.....

I got this recipe from one of my favorite blogs Joy the Baker.  In her recipe, Joy makes her own dough (click here for the yummy recipe).  I didn't have enough time on Sunday so I got a fresh pizza dough at the bakery in the grocery store.  It worked out perfectly and I was happy with the results ♥  

1 fresh pizza dough (nice and puffy)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp orange zest
1 tbs sugar
1 cup thinly sliced strawberries
sea salt for sprinkling
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
balsamic vinegar
1 tbs fresh mint, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Work the olive oil, orange zest, and sugar into the dough.  Knead it for a minute or two until you can see the orange zest evenly distributed throughout the dough.  Spread onto a greased cookie sheet.  Top with sliced strawberries and sprinkle with sea salt. 

Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, and fresh mint. 

Cut into squares and serve.  YUMMM!!!!!  Open a bottle of wine and enjoy with friends.  It makes a lovely appitizer. 

We are out and about today, off to the library and then to a birthday party this afternoon. I'm also planning on making something delicious (with frosting...hint, hint) that I can't wait to share with you.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! ♥

Saturday, May 11, 2013

40 before 40: #6 The Museum of Fine Arts


About a month ago I decided to make a list of 40 things I want to do before I turn 40.  When I first decided to do this I thought that it might be a difficult task to come up with 40 things, but when I started writing I was amazed at how easily it came.  There are so many things that I want to do! 

A lot of things that I enjoy my husband and friends are not interested in.  Does this mean that I cannot enjoy them alone? Is it OK to do things alone? One day while I was having coffee it clicked. Yes, it is OK to do things alone.  In fact it's enjoyable. And believe it or not sometimes I prefer it. With that being said, I made my list.  I said to myself that I was going to do the things I have been putting off  either with company or without.  My list ranges in everything from attending a symphony to eating sushi and everything in between.  I've never been one to be adventurous, so just writing things down on paper made me feel liberated. (I know, I'm such a nerd ♥)

A beautiful day in Boston.

I wasted no time getting started. One of the places I've always wanted to go is the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (#6 on my list).  Spring is an absolutely gorgeous time of year to be in the city and when I read in the paper that they were doing a special "Art in Bloom" exhibit I knew it was my calling. Art and flowers are two of my favorite things. It's a sign. So one fine Sunday morning, armed with a coffee and a camera, off I went. 

Walking into the building I was overwhelmed with a feeling of greatness.  The building itself is huge! It's also beautiful.  It has gorgeous marble staircases and ceilings that look like this:


I got a map and navigated myself down halls and through rooms filled with sculptures, art, jewelery, porcelain, flowers, and even instruments.  I was blown away!


The tea room


This is the entrance to a room dedicated to the works of Michelangelo. The lighting was dark so I could not get good enough photos to show you. I saw some of his original sketches for many of his famous paintings and sculptures. It was fascinating.

There was a whole exhibit decided to Blue & White!  I loved it!

  Inspiration everywhere!

I want all of these for my house!
And then it happened.  I was wandering through the European Art section and I entered this room. 

Claude Monet's Water Lilies right before my eyes. Shouldn't this be in Pairs or some other exotic place?  My heart skipped a tiny beat and I lost my breath for a second.  I've had a small copy of this painting in my possession for years and now here before me is the original, painted in 1905.  It's even more beautiful than I dreamed. Every stroke tells his story.

Hanging next to it were other works by Monet. I turned to my left and I saw a Vincent Van Gogh. 
This one is called Ravine and was painted by Van Gogh in 1889 while in a mental institution.  I was hoping to see Starry Nights, but it was not there.  Still, Don McLean's "Vincent" was in my head the entire time.  I love that song ♥
I recognized this painting of Venice by Renoir. I've seen copies of it a hundred times in books, but never the original.  In person, it's quite beautiful. 
I was getting tired and decided to treat myself to a snack.  I got a coffee and an apple oatmeal scone.  It tasted so good!  There is still so much to see but it's almost time for me to go.  I'll never see it all.  I'll have to come back. A promise made to myself right then and there!  

view of boston through a window

Right before I left I checked out the Contemporary Art section....

These bedazzled boxes and jars were actually on display.

Goes to show you that just about anything can be considered Art!  Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder...wink, wink.... : )

 house rules

I had a lovely time at the museum that day.  I'm so glad I went, and not once did I even think about the fact that I was alone.  If I had, then I may not have gotten to feel my heart skip a beat when I saw that Monet.  It was a feeling that I will never forget and a lesson learned for me.  Don't put off doing the things you love to do.  Happiness lies within yourself and only you can make it happen. ♥

In the weeks to come I'll be sharing with you other things off my 40 before 40 list.  I have lots to do and just about 15 months to do it in.  Wish me luck~

Monday, May 6, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

It's a beautiful sunny morning here so I decided to take my breakfast outside! There is still a bit of chill in the air, but as long as I have my cozy cardigan on, I'm loving the fresh air! Pretty soon I'll be able to do this all time, but we are not quite there yet.  patience is a virtue...

This past weekend I made these banana chocolate chip muffins.  Another awesome recipe from the Meal Makeover Moms.  Have you checked out their website yet? It's so good!  These muffins have everything that you love in them and taste just like chocolate chip banana bread.  The secret ingredient is flax seed (or you could use wheat germ).  It is completely tasteless, but the health benefits will blow your mind.  We've been gobbling these up like crazy.  Even my 5 year old likes them.  I don't dare tell him they are healthy, because then that would be the end of the that!  I just load them with dark chocolate chips and he's happy as can be!

recipe from

1 cup flour
1/2 whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ or ground flax seed (I used flax seed)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup low fat milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 

Whisk together the flours, flax seed, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Combine the bananas, eggs, sugar, oil, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl and stir until well blended.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.  Stir in the chocolate chips. 

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.  Bake about 20 minutes, or until the muffins are light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 


Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove them to a wire rack and cool an additional 5 minutes before serving. (**to make 24 mini muffins, bake about 14 minutes**)

I have pulled pork bubbling away in the crock pot and I'm off do do errands before I pick my little one up at school. I hope the sun is shining on you today and you find a little bit of quiet on a busy Monday ~

Have a great day! xo