Growing up I was one of the children on the free lunch program at school. I often ate peanut butter and sugar sandwiches or hamburger helper because that is all we had available in our home. While we never starved—due to great programs available to us and parents and grandparents that worked very hard to make sure we were okay—we never did really get to try new things or enjoy different kinds of vegetables. A lot of what we ate was frozen, in a can or fast food.
The times that I did get to experience great foods, often at my grandmother’s home where she would spend hours over the stove making home made spaghetti and meatballs or fresh strawberry topped pancakes, introduced me to a world with which I would someday fall in love. As I grew up and began to earn my own money and buy my own meals, I discovered my deep love for food— fresh, different, amazing food. My first year of marriage I think my husband and I spent $800 a month on groceries for just the two of us. YIKES! (Although, it sure is nice to have a partner that values good food as much as I do!)
We can’t spend that much on food nowadays with more bills and a kid (and one on the way). Though, even when we struggle with money, our food budget is one area that I work hard to maintain enough budgeted money so that we can enjoy fresh fruit, vegetables and quality proteins daily. I meal plan weekly to make sure that we are spending our food budget wisely and getting to try new things. Trying new things, enjoying great food, and sharing that experience with others is pretty much what my life is about. Which brings me to this post… I just had to try artichokes because I had never really had any success with them before!
These crazy looking vegetables have always alluded me. I love them in an artichoke spinach dip, but the one time I tried making them myself I had no clue how to even approach eating them, much less cooking them! Recently I was craving a really amazing Italian meal. At this point in my pregnancy I just knew I had to give into the craving before it drove me really mad, so I planned an Italian themed dinner party with friends. I knew that this was the perfect opportunity for me to give artichokes another try. After googling how to eat the suckers, I researched several different recipes to get the knack of how to cook them, and then tackled the project for the party.
After discovering just how easy artichokes can be, I’ve now made them a few times and love them more and more! Below are some tips for cooking (and eating) artichokes plus my recipe for Parmesan and Garlic Stuffed Grilled Artichokes.
The first time I tried cooking an artichoke I tried trimming, cutting and de-choke before cooking the artichoke. This led to a lot of pricks on my fingers, a bunch of furry bits all over my kitchen and most of the heart of the artichoke in my waste bin. It was an utter disaster and made me not want to try again. Thankfully, I found that doing just a tiny bit of prep and then steaming the artichoke makes the whole thing go much smoother.
This recipe makes 12 quarters of artichokes that make for a great appetizer for a party of 8 to 12 guests or a hearty side for a meal for 6-8 guests.
A couple of weeks ago I got to help coordinate and attend another awesome Portland Bloggers’ Meet-Up. We always to try mix times, themes, styles of meet-up each time that we meet. This time we went for a speed networking style meet-up in the morning/early afternoon… due to the time of day we knew that we wanted to serve up some brunch items.
Brunch is one of my favorite meals and serving it up at a party is always a great choice because you can mix all types of favorite breakfast and lunch items, sweet and savory. We were thrilled with Bowery Bagels offered to bring in some of their delicious NY style bagels and schmears. Of course, planning the event, all I could think about was where we were going to place the table and how we were going to set it up to accommodate the needs of knives, spreads, toasters and all the fixings for a really great bagel spread.
Thankfully, Bowery Bagels did something that I would have never in a million years thought of (though, I sort of can’t believe I never did because it is so simple and smart) that made the entire brunch spread easy and beautiful. I mean really, there is no way to really make a bunch of plugged in toasters look super pretty unless you go out and get a bunch of coordinating toasters.
The simple fix that Bowery did to serve up the bagels? They pre-toasted and schmeared the bagels and cut them up into little perfect bites.
I would have been worried about soggy bagels, but their New York style bagel was perfect like this and the bagels lasted throughout the whole event and the leftovers even lasted in the fridge for a few days more of bagel goodness. In addition to creating the bagel bites with the cream cheese schmear, Bowery thought of the vegans or dairy-free attendees by also making a platter of bagel bites with a vegan non-soy cashew spread.
A big thank you goes out to Bowery Bagels for introducing the Portland Bloggers to their bagels and introducing this simple, but GREAT party tip into my life. This post is not sponsored, however, I am the owner of Portland Bloggers to which the bagels were donated for an event. All opinions are my own!
I love eating outdoors as soon as the weather calls for it. A great outdoor meal to me doesn’t always have to incorporate cooking outside (ie grilling) but, it does need to be simple and easy to transport outdoors. The below outdoor meal entree is not just INCREDIBLY simple to make and holds up to my outdoor meal criteria, but also was extremely affordable to make.
When Grocery Outlet sent me a gift card to try out some of their deals, I went in with no idea what kind of meal I was going to make. But, after just a few minutes perusing the aisles and checking out their ad I had a plan in place. I picked up all of my ingredients in one trip to Grocery Outlet and had the meal on the table in thirty minutes after getting home. Today I’m sharing the main course item that took about 10 minutes from start to finish. This entree would be perfect for an easy weeknight meal alfresco!
This post was created in collaboration with Grocery Outlet. All opinions are my own. Thank you for reading and sharing posts that are created in partnership with brands that help support this blog.Grocery Outlet operates 210+ stores in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.Visit the Grocery Outlet website to find a store near you and sign up for notifications when their new ad comes out!