Lately, I haven’t been feeling the guilt when it comes to my work, but I’ve been feeling it when it comes to the neglect it has caused me to show towards my family and friends.
I know they support me and I know they would never make me feel this way, but it’s more of my own blame.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
- 15 ounces fatfree refried beans
- 15 ounces black beans, cooked
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels (I used fresh)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/8 – 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (or to taste)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Spray a large, non-stick pot with cooking spray, and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook for one more minute. Add all the remaining ingredients and cook until the flavors blend, 20-30 minutes.
- Serving suggestion: Garnish with fresh tomato, sour cream and avocado.
This is one of my favorite soup recipes. It reminds me of tacos in a bowl.
With the end of summer near, the need for as many summer cookouts as possible is a must.
And finally, crisp summer whites must be enjoyed while the air is still warm and the sun sets just into dinner time.
In my opinion, wine goes with just about every meal, but tonight, it really brought the flavors of this salmon to life.
Cheer to an amazing summer!
Most of the morning was enjoyed by the pool.
Food is a very important factor before engaging in the sport of wine tasting…trust me.
Our frist stop was a well-known winery that attracts many tourists for their elaborate vineyards and elaborate tours.
They offered two different kinds of tours, one lasting 90 min and one lasting 30 min. We opted for the shorter one.
The tour was a walking tour that allowed us to taste and drink throughout.
We were led into the actual cellars where the wine is made and stored.
After Mondavi, we stopped at two more wineries but I don’t seem to have any pictures.
Our final dinner in Napa was simply amazing. We chose a restaurant that had been on my list of recommendations and were 100% happy with the choice.
Brix is known for having contemporary French inspired California cuisine that sits directly in 16 acres of prime Napa Valley gardens and vineyards. The views were outstanding and dining on the patio was an incredible experience.
The problem with wine tasting all day is that by the time you eat dinner, you really can’t drink another glass. I originally stuck with water, but then I remember that it was my last night in Napa and I needed to go out the right way.
The food was unbelievable!
I chose the Strip Bass which was lightly cooked in a simple olive oil and lemon seasoning along with fresh squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I swear it tasted just as they picked these vegetables right from the garden.
Toly went with the chicken.
We both enjoyed our meals so much.
Finally, no world class dining experience is complete without a sweet ending…
Our waiter raved about the apple tart that was served with a vanilla gelato and blackberry sorbet.
These are on my hit list with a bottle of wine from Napa (hint hint)!
Our hotel kept recommending this spot to grab breakfast so we figured it had to be good.
I had a hard time choosing, but eventually stuck with what I knew best…oatmeal.
I was so impressed by the fresh local made Kefier on the menu and asked for this on the side.
We found a quaint little table outside and filled our bellies before the long day ahead.
Before San Francisco, we made a stop in Mill Valley for a glorious morning hike in Muir Woods National Monument.
Muir Woods is known for their breathtaking views and the massive redwoods.
We did the moderate Ocean View trail that lead us right up to the top of the mountain.
On the way down, I took the ideal opportunity for an impressive photo shoot.
After a vigorous morning hike, it was time for lunch. We cleaned up and made our way into San Francisco.
Lunch was the first thing on my mind and luckily the first place I saw was exactly what I was hoping for…
Authentic San Francisco Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl.
I fully believe in taking advantage of each cities most well known fare when visiting and Boudin’s sourdough is definitely one of them.
Toly apparently feels the same.
Later in the day, we moved north to Sarasota.
Another gorgeous town.
With a full day of sightseeing behind us, it was nearing dinner but we were both pretty full from lunch and the many samplings we partook throughout the day.
We contemplated eating in the city, but figured it would be better if we waited a bit and made the drive back into Sonoma. That way we would be hungry and wouldn’t have to drive back tired.
This ended up being a fantastic decision because we stumbled into an incredibly authentic and charming Italian Restaurant that was probably the closes to Italy I’ll ever get.
This restaurant was actually one of Rachel Ray’s features and has won numerous awards.
He was right, this was salmon perfection.
We wasted the night chatting for hours, sipping on cappuccino, and taking in each other’s company.
But what would this authentically delicious Italian meal be without the icing on the cake….
Or Tiramisu for that matter.
Day 4: Tuesday, August 16
Tuesday was our 3 year anniversary and clearly the best day of the trip.
When I did research on wine tours in Napa, I found a few that seemed a bit sketchy. I then remembered when Jenna posted about an unforgettable experience she had with Platypus Tours and decided to look into it.
The Platypus Wine Tour is known for creating a unique and exclusion tasting experience that goes to 4 different wineries. The bus picked us up at 10am, where we were greeted by a few other couples.
Our first stop…
Whetstone was formed by a young winemaker and his wife. They nestled their tasting room in a small italian inspired villa that was remote yet unbelievably breathtaking.
Whetstone is most known for their one of a kind Viognier, originating from the Russian River Valley and this quickly became my new favorite wine.
By 11am, we set out for our next tasting….
Another gorgeous estate that came equipped with a view.
We were served lunch at this point.
By this point, we were starting to feel good but still had 2 more tasting ahead of us.
Probably the least favorite of the four, but still notable. After the tasting, things started to get silly.
All I can say is, thank God we had a driver.
We had such a blast on the tour and were completely impressed by the service and the entire experience. Well worth the money!
I’m not sure how people do this for a living because after a full day of wine tasting, I ended up like this…
Apparently it’s a sport and I need more practice than I thought.
I was so thankful we made 9pm dinner reservations although I probably could have slept right through the night.
Good thing I didn’t though because I would have missed out on quite possibly the best dining experience of my life.
I knew Chef Michael Chiarello’s restaurant sat in Napa but I almost forgot until someone at our tastings told us that we had to go here for our anniversary dinner. It is one of the most well-known ristorantes in the valley and will leave you speechless.
True fact: I have always loved Michael Chiarello and used to watch his show almost every day. I didn’t actually expect him to be at his restaurant but wouldn’t you know, he was there, cooking my dinner!!!
I wanted to get a picture but I chickend out. Just take my word, I was star struck.
To begin this journey of food delicacy, Toly and I split a starter.
And after much debate, I finally made my choice….
The picture simply does not do this justice. Hands down one of the top 3 best meals of my life.
As stuffed as we were, dessert could not be passed….
It had been far too long…
I’ve been swooning over these for months. Apparently, they are not sold around here anywhere, so when they appeared in my HLS swag bag, I melted.
The rest of the afternoon was eventful. I’m sure most of you heard about the earthquake on the east coast. Well, here in PA, we definitely felt it. It was frightening but I’m sure even more alarming in VA and DC.
Even more eventful was RPM tonight. I went with the intention of just practicing because it had been a few weeks but the instructor asked me to ride on stage and teach 1/2 of the class.
Totally unprepared and a little sore from a 12 mile run, I managed to kill it.
I’m teaching again on Saturday and can’t wait! Nothing is more thrilling than coaching a group of people to kick butt on a bike.
I got home quite late from spin and thankfully asked Toly to start dinner.
The leftover strawberry orzo pasta salad was a perfect accompaniment and required no prep at all.
- 1 C cooked Orzo Pasta
- 1/2 C sliced strawberries
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1/4 C crumbled feta
- 2 T Almonds (I used sesame coated)
- 1/2 C fresh torn basil
- 2 T Lemon juice
- 1 T Olive Oil