Love & Tapas: Chorizo, Cannellini Beans, and Spinach Crostini


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This Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d give you a little insight into my personal life. You see, my boyfriend and I have very different ideas about some important topics, but our most polarizing views are over what makes a good meal. We’re both to blame, really. I’m all snotty with my charcuterie and cucumber martinis. He’s all stubborn with his Chili’s Boneless Buffalo Wings and Bud Lights. So when I try to explain to him my love for tapas, he just doesn’t get it. “Oh, it’s a small plate. How fancy! Applebee’s has small plates too; they call them appetizers,” he mocks. He has that writer’s wit, so I let him get away with mocking me. Make me laugh, and you can do no harm. And so, somehow, it works. Because let’s be honest, there are times when I too enjoy a little buffalo in my life. And there are times when he’ll begrudgingly admit he enjoys a little charcuterie. Still, I’m guilty of constantly trying to trick him over to my side. This dish is my attempt to explain to him the difference between tapas and Chili’s Triple Dipper combo.

This dish was inspired by a plate I had about a year back at one of my favorite tapas restaurants while I was staying in Chicago for work. The lemon and gently wilted spinach give it nice light freshness, while the chorizo infuses the dish with a deliciously subtle spiciness and smokiness. But let’s be frank‚ÄĒbread and broth is really just the quintessential comfort food, and for me that’s the best part. It takes me back to grilled cheese and tomato soup days. And weren’t those the days? Pile the spinach, bean, and chorizo mix on top of crusty bread and sop up all of that brothy goodness. I promise you’ll forget your eating spinach and beans.

I also love the versatility of a dish like this. You can make it with a bunch of other small plates for a tapas party. You can make it as a fancy appetizer, a nice side, or even as a main course. You can also use this technique to try a number of different flavors. I’ve wanted to try it with roasted butternut squash, toasted pumpkin seeds, and wilted kale. Try that and let me know how it goes, will you? Maybe drop some off at my doorstep too.

Hope Valentine’s Day finds you happy and full from delicious food and [most importantly to this girl] delicious dessert. And may your subtle ploys to morph boyfriends and husbands into foodies result in sweet, little victories. Continue reading

Large Scale Crafting: The Fireplace Makeover


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By the time I was 14 years old, I probably had more experience in home improvement than most middle aged men. I had painted houses. I had installed sheet rock in a garage and a basement. Installed carpet. Tiled counters. Laid laminate floors. You see, in my house the bonding with my mother always happened in the kitchen. But with my father, it was always over a hammer and nails. And growing up, I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s funny the way life works. You grow up hearing that one day you’re going to become your parents, but you don’t believe it. And then one day you wake up and you’re blogging about mosaic glass tile installation and making meatballs. They got me good.

If you think about it, home improvement is really just large scale crafting. And lord knows I love my crafting. If you’re looking around your house thinking you’d like to try your hand at home improvement, a tiling project is an easy place to start. Hopefully this will give you some background information on what you’ll need and reassurance that it’s not much different than crafting!ūüėČ

I bought everything I needed at Home Depot, so I’ll link to the products in case you want more info. Forgive the photos‚ÄĒit was all via phone cameras. Continue reading

Snacks & Sacks Recap: Super Bowl Style


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In honor of my favorite American holiday, I thought I’d reminisce back to the first five weeks of the NFL season–when we Philadelphians still believed we might stand a chance at being mildly competitive this season and Paint The Town Pretty was churning out football snack recipes left and right.

If you’re working yourself into a frenzy this morning, googling up a storm of Super Bowl snack ideas that haven’t been beaten into the ground (much like my poor Eagles), I’m here to help you out. Below I’ve listed links to the 5 recipes featured during our Snacks & Sacks Saturdays posts that will leave you feeling superior to the fool who brings veggies to this year’s party. Click on the photos below to be taken to the recipes.

I’ve also solicited Super Bowl viewing tips from our resident football expert, Bob Wankel of Inside The Iggles, to make sure you’re well versed in what’s going on with tomorrow’s game. Happy footballing, kids. And may the gambling gods be ever on your side.ūüėČ

Crab Fry Potato Skins: Philadelphia Style

Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls

Loaded Mashed Potato Bites

Mini String Cheese Stromboli

Cilantro Lime Baked Tortilla Chips

Know What’s Up: Super Bowl Edition
 Bob Wankel
 Inside The Iggles, Editor

Super Bowl 47 will kickoff at 6:30pm on Sunday night. While the game itself is always billed as a marque sporting event, sometimes the games don’t live up to the hype. This one should. So as the game approaches, here are three things you’ll want to know in order to impress at your Super Bowl Party:

  1. Just how big is the Super Bowl? It’s been the most-watched program in American history each of the last three years. It’s more than a game it is an event. CBS will run a 4 hour pre-game show before turning it over to Phil Simms and Jim Nantz for game coverage. CBS will utilize an astonishing 62 camera to cover this game. How many are used during normal regular season games? Good question. Anywhere between 9-12. Like I said, it’s an event.
  2. Looking for some gambling advice? This game figures to be extremely competitive. The Ravens are a 4 point underdog which is a pretty significant number given that many believe Baltimore will win the game outright. But it’s often said that if something is too good to be true, well it probably is. That line suggests to me that Vegas is tempting you to take Baltimore, and if that’s the case, it’s usually for a reason. The 49ers were a better team in what I believe was a better conference this season. And as impressive as Baltimore’s run has been, I believe San Francisco is a deeper and more dynamic squad. I think it’ll be close, but I’ll take the 49ers to cover. Let’s call it 30-24.

3.  Some things you are sure to hear tomorrow night are:

  • “Ray Lewis killed two people.” Lewis was charged with double murder in 2000, but the charges will ultimately be dropped. Lewis was certainly there the night of the incident, but his level of involvement is murky. It’s unfair to call the guy a murderer though.
  • “Ray Lewis used deer antler spray to help him recover from an injury earlier this season.” Believe it or not, deer antler spray contains a chemical called IGF, which works in a similar way to HGH. Both are banned by the NFL. Still, the accusations against Lewis are unfounded, and there’s no reason to believe he used the drug at any point.
  • “Ray Lewis is a self-serving ‘look at me’ athlete.” Well I’ll give you that one.
  • “Jim and John Harbaugh are brothers.” I’d say CBS raises this angle at least eight times tomorrow night. If the game becomes non-competitive, you’ll know more about the Harbaugh family than you do your own by the end of the night.

Enjoy the game.

Mediterranean Confetti Chicken


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With the Super Bowl right around the corner, you’ll soon be getting your fill of beer and deep fried delight. I hold no judgment. I’m in the same boat. My fridge is stocked full of garbage I wouldn’t normally eat, in anticipation of this weekend’s showdown. I’m pretty sure the Super Bowl is where New Year’s resolutions go to die, and I’m okay with that. I’ve accepted it‚ÄĒembraced it even. If you know that you’re about to walk into a calorie laden explosion of processed cheese this Sunday like I’m about to, why not start off the weekend on a light note?

This chicken dish is a favorite of mine‚ÄĒmostly for the taste, partially for the ease. Lemons, capers, tomatoes, and onions give the dish a fresh and light taste. Continue reading

String Beans, Chick Peas, and Tomatoes


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We’re eight days into the New Year, and if you’re still on track with your resolution to eat more vegetables than cupcakes‚Ķwell then this is for you.

I make string beans the same way every time‚ÄĒgarlic, lemon, parmesan. It’s wonderful. It really is. But in a desperate attempt to liven up my usual bean routine, I threw together this dish and decided it was worth sharing. I’m not a big fan of cherry tomatoes. Aside from the fact that they always seem to find their way off of my plate and onto the floor at the most inopportune moments, I’m not crazy about the taste. Until you cook them. And then mmmm mmm mmm. I swear they’re like a completely different vegetable (yeah, yeah..fruit..i know). Their sweet, tart taste compliments the earthiness of the chickpeas really well, and the crunch of the fresh string beans in icing on the cake (mmm..cake).

I made this dish originally as a side, but I enjoyed it so much that I made it the next night and ate it over brown rice as a meal. Hope you enjoy!

Continue reading

Asparagus and Red Pepper Rolled Chicken


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Christmas came and went, and I could hardly keep up. A nasty cold kept me confined to my apartment for the three days before Christmas, and it surely impeded this year’s holiday elfing. Still, I had a wonderful holiday with my family, staying true to some age old traditions and making some new (albeit crazy) ones as well.

As 2012 comes to a close tonight, I can’t help but reflect on the past year. Although my first “test” posts actually happened in 2011, I think this blog was really born in 2012, when I finally committed to doing it and telling people about it. While the pace at which I’ve posted has fluctuated based on work schedules, travel, and health, I’ve really enjoyed sharing my recipes and ideas with you, and I thank those of you who have supported me. I made about 1,100 New Years resolutions last year. I’m not too proud to admit that 1,099 of them fell to the wayside. But one of them stuck. And that was to find a creative outlet that would balance my left-brain focused day job. This blog has been a fun endeavor for me, and I’m sure it will continue to be in 2013.

I hope you all have a safe and happy New Years Eve and that you have at least one resolution that brings you as much happiness as this little blog has brought me. If one of those resolutions is to eat healthier (and you know it is), this simple chicken dish is a quick and easy way to get you started. Cheers! Continue reading