Eating with the Armstrongs

The coming of fall has been a dream! A few things I’ve enjoyed lately…

My birthday was really special this year. I felt so loved by friends and family and specifically enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner at Frankie Marcello’s with my husband (get the chicken piccata!), tea with my girl friends at the English Tea Room  (the Earl Grey Supreme is divine) in Covington, dinner and drinks with Matthew and my parents at Galatoire’s Bistro (you’ve got to try the banana bread pudding!), and gifts galore!

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The pumpkin latte with house-made maple whipped cream at Magpie Cafe. Need I say more?

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The grand opening of Trader Joe’s. I won’t mention how many times I’ve been so far. But some of my TJ faves so far include: 21 Seasoning Salute (a salt-free blend of yes, 21 different spices, perfect for chicken, fish, burgers, eggs, etc..), Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea, Tuscan White Bean Hummus, Gorgonzola Crackers, and Coconut Bonbons, and my husband’s fave Cookie Butter (dangerous).

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Rollerblading with my puppy, Boone. Maybe the most fun and scariest form of exercise ever. I’m bringing rollerblading back!

My fall herb garden. I transferred most of my herbs from my larger garden into pots so that in the unlikely chance that it freezes this winter I can bring them inside. I love having fresh herbs right outside of my house to use in my cooking. I’m growing: rosemary & thyme, arugula, cilantro, chives & dill, sage & parsley, and not pictured, basil, oregano, mint, lavender and patchouli.

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Besides all these delights, lately we’ve enjoyed:

California Chicken Rice Bowls: this is a flavorful and delicious meal. I made it for a friend who recently had a baby, and they loved it! Also great with quinoa instead of rice. I topped it with feta cheese rather than blue cheese and skipped the walnuts.

Butternut Squash Pasta: husband approved! The sauce has a unique sweetness that changes things up a bit from your normal pasta sauce. I added a whole can of tomato paste as well as a de-seeded roasted red pepper to the blender when blending the sauce. I enjoyed the added savory and tomato flavor to offset the sweetness of the butternut squash. The recipe makes a ton, so I’m going to use the leftover sauce for pizza sauce later this week.

Lebanese Style Stuffed Eggplant: It may sound out of the box, but these stuffed eggplants are absolutely divine. The flavor profile is actually not as unusual as you might think. I used cous-cous instead of rice. Try it!

Balsamic Pot Roast: we enjoyed this out of the ordinary take on pot roast. Pot roast is a great dinner for a cold night after a busy day, as the slow cooker does all the work!

Homemade Granola: served as cereal with milk or a topping for Greek yogurt with maple syrup and fruit, this is one of our go to breakfasts. It is simple to make and much cheaper than buying from the grocery. Plus you can control the sugar content. I like to make a batch on Sunday afternoon and enjoy throughout the week.

Blueberry Upside Down Cake: an easy but impressive looking dessert. Perfect with vanilla bean ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

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Ode to Baton Rouge

We have lived in Baton Rouge for a whole year today! What a celebration. Baton Rouge is our favorite city we’ve ever lived in. Seriously. Small town feel in a city with lots of people, lots to do, and plenty to eat. Our life here has been filled to the brim. A few reasons we love Baton Rouge:

1. Summer Rain. In the summer it is really hot and really humid, but this is tempered by weekly rain showers and thunderstorms. I love the coziness and the effect it has on my garden.

2. Restaurants! This city has no shortage of delicious places to eat. Sushi, Cajun, Italian, Greek, Seafood, Steakhouses, Organic Cafes, there are a plethora of flavors and cuisines found here. Some of our favorites are: Waka House, Gino’s, Magpie Cafe, Whole Foods, Albasha’s, and Roberto’s (ultimate fave).

3. Louisiana-isms. Instead of saying, “I have to be at work at 10:00.” People say: “I have to be at work for 10:00.” Grammatically incorrect, yet endearing. “Come see,” means “Come here”, thankfully the use of “y’all” is in full force, and my favorite are all the french words mingled in like “etoufee” and “roux”.

4. Festivals & Parades. People like to get out and have a good time. Parade days take up the entire day are are filled with food and friends. It’s a little rowdy at times, but a blast to be around such lively people.

5. LSU. We had a blast going to LSU games in the fall and look forward to football season starting up again. Again, it’s a full day affair surrounded by purple and yellow. It’s fun to jump into the passion!

6. The trees. Louisiana has great trees. Everywhere you look there are trees towering up. My favorite are magnolias.

7. Hospitality. People here open their homes and hearts to everyone they meet. Generosity and friendliness abound.

8. Fresh produce and the Farmer’s Market. South Side Produce, an open air produce market, and the bi-weekly Farmer’s Market allow me to buy delicious, fresh fruits and veggies.

9. My husband and my puppy. Living life with my husband this year has been a blessing and a joy. My little puppy Boone is the cutest thing ever. He is a born and bred Louisianan puppy. And I love him.

10. People. Hands down, my favorite thing about Baton Rouge are the friends we’ve made. Remember when I told you that we moved to Baton Rouge to start a church? I’m amazed that in just a short time our little church of 9 has grown to nearly 200 people. I love that our church has grown primarily through friendships and relationships: friends inviting friends. It definitely feels like a big family, and a happy one at that.

We love living in this city! If you don’t live here, you should visit!

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