Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Married Girl's Recipe for the Single Girls Life: Quick and Easy Truffled Parmesan Pasta!

Even though I'm a married girl now, Mr. 3's business often takes him out of town and I find myself reverting back to my single girl habits (random meals of the things I want to eat that often don't ~go~ together....avocado with hot sauce and a bowl of cereal anyone?) including trying to save myself a trip to the grocery store by throwing what I have in the cabinets together.

I rummaged through the cabinets, craving carbs, and I found a bag of veggie pasta from Trader Joe's which I had bought on impulse a few months back.  I usually try to stay away from pasta, but after a quick check, I found that 3/4 cup dry pasta was about 200 calories.  Typically, pasta servings are measured after they are cooked, not before.  Since pasta basically doubles in size when it's cooked...I basically got about 1.5 cups of pasta!  That led me to create this recipe which is perfectly sized for 1!

Quick and Easy Truffled Parmesan Pasta
3/4 cup dry Trader Joe's Organic Vegetable Radiatore Pasta
Olive oil (You will need an olive oil sprayer like the Misto or this Misto)  
Parmesan cheese  to taste
Truffled Sea Salt (a little goes along way!)

Prepare pasta according to directions.  Drain and put a small layer in the bottom of an individual bowl. Spray pasta with olive oil and season with truffled sea salt and Parmesan.  Repeat in layers. Add pepper if you are that sort of person.  :)

This is what you wind up with:

Quick & Easy Truffled Parmesan Pasta
Personal Photo
The truffled sea salt makes the dish sooo rich and wonderful! If I had a can of mushrooms and some sundried tomatoes I would have thrown those in as well to bulk up the pasta with some veggies.  It was super quick to make and super yummy.*  By misting the olive oil onto the pasta, I got a nice flavor with fewer calories.  I also used a shave Parmesan cheese blend that is 20 calories for 1 tbsp and I used probably about 4 tbsp on the dish.  The key is to use a really good quality cheese you need less (I like Bel Gioioso Salad Blend which you can get in big bags at BJs.  The cheese from the green Kraft can is probably NOT a good choice).  I think you are getting the whole dish for around 350 calories depending how heavy you go with the cheese and olive oil.  Definitely a tasty treat to take your mind off of any wedding diet woes!

If you give it a try let me know what you think!  Let us know if you have any yummy recipes to share when the hubby/man/life partner is away!

* I would advise you not to make more than one individual serving.  I practically licked the bowl and if there had been a whole pot on the stove of it already made...I would have landed face first.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Watch Me As I Wax Poetic on Truffled Sea Salt

Mr. 3 and I have recently grown to love...and by love I mean drool, crave, and long for truffled popcorn.  We have seen it turn up on a few menus in the DC area restaurants and it's always to die for....but at $6-$9 for an order it is bit expensive for a popcorn appetizer....but also worth every penny.

All that said, Mr. 3 and I were super excited to find out that we could buy truffled sea salt at a store in Tyson's Corner:

Black Truffle Sea Salt
$6.99 for 1 oz
The Olive Tree

Mr. 3 had to go out of town for work, but I've been busy experimenting and I absolutely love the flavor it gives!  Everything tastes very rich, earthy, and wonderful.  I even managed to recreate our truffled popcorn by popping some kernels the old fashioned way on top of the stove and sprinkling the salt over the top.  No butter necessary.  I'm super excited for movie nights now and when we have date night at home.  Our version is bound to be healthier and definitely cheaper!  If you'd like to try it, you can visit The Olive Tree in Tyson's Corner or order online.  This would also make a wonderful small gift for your favorite cook or hostess!

How bout y'all?  Fans of the the truffle?  What other flavored sea salts have you tried?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Honeymoon Planning

Mr. 3 and I desperately wanted to treat ourselves to a two week honeymoon, but because of Mr. 3's work obligations, we couldn't arrange for a two week honeymoon immediately following the wedding.  Instead, we decided to take a mini-moon to recuperate from the craziness of getting hitched and we decided to delay our official honeymoon until October.

Right after the wedding, Mr. 3 and I headed to the Northern Neck of Virginia for a 3 day stay in a small cabin on an inlet of a marina. 

Honeymoon Cabin
Personal Photo
We ate ice cream and stuffed ourselves with seafood, went putt putt-ing, canoed our newly married selves out of the marina to a nearby beach, and took a private boat cruise around the inlets.

Putt Putt Kissy Kissy Face
Please excuse bad hair and lack of was 106 degrees, humid, & no spray tans nearby!
Personal Photo
Immaturity by the Sea
Mr. & Mrs. 3
Personal Photo
We had a great time, but it wasn't a vacation so much as a quick moment to breathe before the craziness of our hectic schedules started up again.  Now we are making arrangements for our big two week honeymoon extravaganza!  We had discussed going to a bunch of different places, but we wanted to go someplace: affordable, with a relatively short plane ride, neither one of us had been before, and an area that would give us enough activities to keep us occupied, but where we wouldn't be running from historical site to tourist trap for our entire trip.  I'm not a fan of baking on the beach (I'm melanin challenged and I hate glistening...aka sweating), so we ruled out the Caribbean and Central America pretty quickly.

After some round and round discussions, we finally decided to go to California for almost two weeks!  I was out there last year for business, but work being work, I didn't get to see everything I wanted and we stayed in San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

Mr. 3 and I narrowed down our itinerary to: 4 nights in Sonoma County, 5 nights in Monterey, and 3 nights in San Francisco!  Plans are still in progress, but we looking forward to wine tasting, snorkeling (with wet suits!) in Monterey, a trip to Alcatraz, a visit to the Monterey Aquarium, and driving all the scenic routes.  I can't wait! 

Where are you headed on your honeymoons or where did you go?  Any tips or tricks for free upgrades, send them our way!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Paying for Your Wedding: Benefits to Putting It on the Credit Card

I really don't advocate paying for a wedding on credit or loans.  It's a bad idea to start a marriage saddled in debt from a day's worth of fun and every time you look at the interest rate on your credit balance it will tarnish your wonderful memories from your happy day.

That said....I am a full believer that you should charge as many of your wedding costs to your credit card as you possible can, making SURE TO PAY IT OFF IN FULL EVERY MONTH.   There are a number of good reasons for this:

1)  Disputing charges.  It's much easier to dispute charges if a wedding vendor doesn't fulfill the terms of the contract if you charge the expense. (Be sure to ask if the vendor charges a fee for a credit card payment.  From my experience, these can range from 3-5% which can wind up being a significant amount for expenses like catering and rentals.)

2) Tracking expenses.  If you can devote a credit card to wedding only expenses, you'll find it very easy to figure out how much money you are spending overall.

3) Rewards points.  This is my favorite benefit to using a credit card.  Try to find one with either a really good cash back rate or decent travel perks.  Mr. 3 and I are going to use my rewards points to pay for our 10 day rental car on our honeymoon, our airport transfers, and a sunset cruise!  Make sure to also check to see if your credit card offers any traveler benefits just for being a cardholder.  I didn't discover until we started planning our honeymoon that Visa Signature offers free wine tastings at over 60 wineries in Sonoma County! 

Have any tips?  Send them our way!