August 23, 2013

Sweet Potato Tuna Cakes (w/Broccoli)

These were delicious!  I know the combination sounds a little weird and if you are not a fan of sweet potatoes or tuna (like Adam) this is not a recipe for you.  But if you love all the ingredients (like me) this is a very good, healthy and quick dinner!
Sweet Potato Tuna Cakes w/Broccoli
1.5 large sweet potatoes or 2 medium sweet potatoes
1 can of tuna (I used Albacore White in water)
2 cups of frozen broccoli
2 TBS light sour cream
1 TBS chili powder
1/2 TSP salt

Wash and peel the sweet potatoes ~ cut into chunks ~ add the sweet potato chunks and frozen broccoli to a pot a boiling water and boil until tender then drain ~ once drained add the sweet potato chunks and broccoli to a mixer ~ add the tuna, sour cream, chili powder and salt ~ mix on high until smooth ~ heat a non-stick fry pan to medium heat ~ while the pan is heating form the sweet potato mixture into small patties ~ heat the patties in the pan and flip until they are browned on either side ~ serve and enjoy!
One batch ended up yielding about 8 patties.  I ate four for dinner and took a couple for lunch the next day - they reheated really well!


These may not have been the prettiest thing I have ever made but the taste made up for it - they were good!

August 21, 2013

When My Co-Workers Come To Town

Last week all of my coworkers came to town!  There are five Senior Project Associates on staff and all with the exception of myself are remote employees.  So about 4 times a year we all come together for a big staff meeting; frequently we will see each other at conferences, trainings or travel with each other throughout the year but only a couple times a year are we all in the office at once.
This time around we were getting together for a number of reasons - mental health first aid training (MHFA) which was taught by one of my coworkers, a baby shower, a day long team meeting and PRA track day at the Saratoga Racetrack!
Mental Health First Aid training curriculum and MHFA's mascot ALGEE

After MHFA training we all raced over to my boss's house for a surprise baby shower for my colleague!  My contribution to the shower, aside from some of my favorite children's books were a mountain of milk chocolate cheesecake peanut butter brownies!

These puppies are AMAZING!
Opening presents at the SOAR surprise baby shower!

The next day we would have an all day team meeting which was then followed by PRA's track day at the Saratoga Racetrack!  Every year my company takes a day and goes up to enjoy the track.  This was my first year attending and it was so much - we have tickets to the grandstands so we are required to dress up, the buffet and drinks are included and the President of our company buys us each a $5 win ticket for the first horse race.  My horse came in second - so close!

The year was the 50th Anniversary of 'the Track'
Race schedule and my win ticket bet!

It was an awesome day to be at the track!
Overall track day was a blast - I got to hang out with a bunch of my coworkers outside the office, bet on the races, watch the horse run and even though I only won $2.85 it was well worth it!  I am already looking forward to next year's track day!

August 20, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up

We did A LOT this past weekend - much of which is not pictured.  The summer is beginning to wind down which means it is time for the fair!  I love the fair and look forward to it every year!  Where I grew up the fair was a BIG deal - people would take their vacation week to go to the fair.  There are also quite a number of fairs in the area so on Friday we decided to head to the Altamont Fair.  If you're interested you can read about last year's fair experience here!  Given that it was a Friday night the fair was packed!  And even though we stayed away from the rides and had to battle a couple of lines for our favorite fair food I still had a blast!
Warning - get ready for LOTS of pictures of cows!  For some reason I have a thing for the cow barn, it is by far one of my favorite parts of the fair!
It was a beautiful night for the fair! 
Baby cows!  ... eeer calf

Largest cow at the fair!

Really excited to be in the cow barn!
I think this was right after I pet the cow.

Gotta eat a corn dog when you go to the fair!

Saturday we headed up to Manchester, Vermont to do a little shopping!  Elise needed back to school clothes and I was on the hunt for blazers for my upcoming work travels, although after quickly realizing that a decent blazer would run me well over $200 (even at the outlets) I switched the hunt to nice black sweaters.  I ended up getting some pretty amazing deals at the Ann Taylor outlet - $130 dress for $17, yes please!  We ate lunch at The Works an awesome bagel/paninis place in Manchester - I got the 'super chicken' paninis made with all local/organic ingredients - it was fabulous!

Super Chicken Sandwich!
After a day of shopping in Manchester we were starving when we finally made it home - which was fine because before we left that day I put together a pesto pizza with clingie mozzarella - thank you Trader Joe's for your awesome pizza making ingredients!  Pizza and a nice salad definitely hit the spot after a long day of shopping.

Yummy pesto pizza!

Sunday we knew we would be spending the majority of the day helping Adam's aunt clean out her attic and basement - so before that we decided to head over to Five Rivers to walk around.  Five Rivers is one of my favorite places in Delmar and a perfect place if you are looking for a quick and easy walk through tons of nature. 
One of the many trails at Five Rivers.

Everybody wave!

Looks pretty 'scummy' but still a nice walk!
Now it's Tuesday and I already cannot wait for it to be the weekend again - super busy week at work then I am heading to El Paso, Texas on Sunday!

August 19, 2013

Hiking Mt. Greylock in Williamstown, Massachusetts

A couple of weekends ago Adam, Elise and I went for a hike on Mount Greylock in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in all of Massachusetts.  And while we didn't hike to the summit (that would have been an ALL day hike) but we did hike a couple of the more strenuous trails which involved a waterfall and a great view!  The hike started out on a farm and slowly snaked it's way up the mountain to a camp ground.  The ascent was TOUGH!  The trail map billed it as strenuous and they were right - it look us quite a while to make it up the steep incline!  Eventually we arrived at a campground where we took a break and then headed over to a waterfall.  The waterfall added about 1.6 miles to the hike but it was well worth it!
Signs at the trail head by the farm - many trails!
Made it to the waterfall!

My people in front of the waterfall!

This picture shows the true height of the waterfall, it was pretty big and on a steep incline.

They think they're bad ass!

After hiking back from the waterfall we had lunch and then made out way to the Stone Ledge, which while not the top of Mount Greylock had some great views.  We hung out up there for a while just taking in the views before heading back down the mountain.

Stone Ledge on Mount Greylock!

Awesome view!
Panoramic shot of the mountain view!
The descent proved to be just as challenging if not more so than the climb - I would venture to say that the way down was steeper than the ascent.  By the end my knees were killing me!  But we eventually made it all the way down, through the farm again and back to the car.  The hike was a lot of fun but also exhausting, I am pretty sure I fell asleep on the car ride home.  We have plans to eventually hike to the summit of Mount Greylock - I think it would be especially fun to do in the fall when the leaves are changing colors!

August 12, 2013

Parmesan Crusted Broiled Tilapia

Happy Monday!  I have a GREAT recipe to help kick off the week!  Two weeks ago I was looking to make something for dinner that wasn't ... chicken.  We eat a lot of chicken - chicken wraps, chicken stews and chicken dinners in general so I wanted to mix it up.  Enter - tilapia!  I really like fish but I am always somewhat nervous about cooking it, I always feel like I am going to under cook the fish and then more often than not I end up overcooking it.  For this recipe though I was spot on!

Parmesan Crusted Broiled Tilapia
2 large or 4 small tilapia fillets
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese1/8 Cup Butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons Mayo (I used light mayo)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Dill (optional)
Pepper to taste
Turn broiler onto high and adjust oven rack to the top ~ In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except the tilapia and set aside ~ Place the tilapia on a foil lined pan (skin/darker side up) and broil for 3 minutes ~ After 3 minutes remove from the oven, flip the fish over and divide the parmesan mixture over the uncooked sides of the tilapia ~  Return to the oven and broil for an additional 3 - 4 minutes.
(Note - during the second round of broiling the excess sauce that fell on to the pan began to smoke a bit (not the fish, just the excess sauce) because of this I would recommend lowering the rack for the second round of broiling)
I ended up not taking a picture because to be honest mine sort of fell apart while transferring it to the plate - but regardless it was delicious!  The flavor of the sauce was excellent, the ingredients mixed well and it ended up being a great light summer dish (even though I would make this during the winter as well).  Enjoy!
Parmesan Crusted Broiled Tilapia
(This picture is not mine but rather stolen from someone who's fish didn't fall apart in the pan to plate transition.)

August 8, 2013

Adventures in Baltimore, Maryland

The last day of our trip had us saying goodbye to Washington D.C. and heading up to Baltimore to meet up with my parents.  Once we arrived one of the first things we did was go straight to Faidley Seafood in Lexington Market to get crab cakes.  My parents have been raving about how delicious these crab cakes are for years and they did not disappoint!  Hands down probably the BEST crab cake I have ever eaten!

Best crab cake ever!
After downing a couple of crab cakes we were stuffed and ready to walk it off.  Turned out that Edgar Allen Poe's grave site was just up the road from the Lexington Market so we went to check it out.

The Poe House

He was only 26 when he died!  The cemetery was very interesting - many historic graves and more than a few ravens were left in various places.

After seeing Poe's grave we walked back toward Orioles Park at Camden Yards!  We wanted to take a look look at it before game time when it would be super crowded.
Statue of Brooks Robinson and his golden glove!

The 'rents with Cal Ripken Jr.'s #8

The bird!
My favorite baseball player growing up!  (Steroids aside, I still love Raffy)

After walking around the ballpark we walked down to the Inner Harbor!  We did a little shopping, had some ice cream, watched the dragon peddle boats and walked to Fell's Point.

Dragon peddle boats at the Inner Harbor!

Finally it was time for the game!  Red Sox vs. Orioles!  We sat in the bleachers but still had great seats!  It rained a little before the game so the weather cooled down to just the right temperature.  Adam and Elise are HUGE Red Sox fans and of course I grew up watching the Orioles - so while I rocked my newly purchased Orioles t-shirt they were decked out in red and white!  It was a great game but in the end the Red Sox ended up winning 7-3.  Growing up we went to Orioles Park to see games multiple times during the year so it was great to be able to go back as an adult and see a game.

View from our seats!

Two happy Red Sox fans!

After the game we went back to the hotel and crashed - three days of walking around and I was exhausted!  The next day we were up early, said goodbye to my parents and began the long drive back to Albany. 
All in all a GREAT trip to Washington D.C. and Baltimore!

August 7, 2013

Adventures in Washington D.C. (The Monuments)

After spending the majority of the previous day at the National Zoo, my people finally arrived in D.C. and we were off to visit with family!  The next day though we set out with the goal to see practically every monument in Washington D.C.  I had not done this in a LONG time; probably since high school so I was excited to walk around, and it was a gorgeous day!  We set out on the loop - the National Mall, Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason (yes there is a monument to George Mason), FDR, MLK, the National War Memorial, Korea, Lincoln, Vietnam, WWII and lastly the 'flaming sword' which I am pretty sure is a monument to all the wars. 
Adam and I in front of the Washington Monument - still neat even covered in scaffolding

View of the Jefferson Memorial from the Tidal Basin (i.e. where the cherry blossoms bloom every year)

Me and George Mason!
(I felt a little bad for good ole GM - his monument was incredibly poorly maintained - the grass hadn't been mowed and there was algae covering the entire pond; but his statue was still pretty cool!)
Entering the FDR Memorial

FDR is one of my favorite memorials!

Had to get a picture with the puppy!

My tourist buddies!
MLK Jr. Memorial
Unfortunately the monument was covered with scaffolding and construction equipment because they had begun removing the 'drum major' inscription that week.

Just hours before we arrived someone had thrown green paint all over the base of the monument!  Because of this the majority of the monument was roped off and we weren't able to get very close.

Elise on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
Entering the World War II Memorial.  This and FDR tie for my favorite memorials!

Woot woot Virginia!

New Yorkers

The flaming sword!

Once our monument tour was complete we headed over to the sculpture garden for 'Jazz in the Garden' - an awesome event they do on Fridays during the summer at the National Sculpture Garden.  I didn't take any pictures because I was too busy drinking sangria but it was a lot of fun.  After that we headed over to Graffiato for dinner - which I can only describe as a complete culinary experience!  It was amazing and we had the best time.  Graffiato is owned and operated by Mike Isabella of Top Chef fame (yes I watched that season so I definitely geeked out a little)!  Also, Adam's cousin used to work at Graffiato and knew practically the entire staff - which was great for us because they kept bringing out dishes for us to try.  We left full, happy and having tried foods that I will not soon forget!

All I can say is - AMAZING!
Our day playing tourists in D.C. was awesome and I was really happy that I was able to do it with Adam and Elise.  Next up - we head to Baltimore to meet up with my parents, eat the best crab cakes ever and watch the Red Sox beat the Orioles.