Eating with the Armstrongs


Summer has provided some good eats for us with out-of-town guests, birthday celebrations, and the use of my favorite cooking method: the grill. We have greatly enjoyed all of the following recipes and will be making them again!

Key Lime Meringue Pie

Summer in a dessert. The airy meringue topping made this pie an over-the-top treat! My only change is that I made a graham cracker crust rather than the shortbread crust the recipe calls for. I just can’t get away from the fact that graham cracker crumbs + sugar + butter is the best thing on earth. Find the recipe for it on the back of any graham cracker box.

Dark Chocolate Pie with Almond Crust and Raspberry Compote (Vegan & Gluten Free)

In all honesty, when I hear “vegan and gluten free” for a dessert, the I think: “dry and tasteless” because it’s just hard to believe that the omission of flour, butter, and cream can be a good thing. But much to my delight (and health to my body) that’s actually not true and I’m happy to say that I’ve enjoyed several gluten free desserts lately. This pie is absolutely incredibly rich, smooth, and perfect. I made it for a birthday party and everyone raved. The recipe calls for strawberries, but I used raspberries because they are my favorite thing to pair with dark chocolate. Also, I didn’t have any vanilla, and really didn’t miss it, however, I will include it next time as I know it would only add another layer of flavor. The dark chocolate chips are melted with coconut milk and maple syrup for a creamy pie filling and the toasted almond pie crust is divine. My one other note is that I used the whole can of coconut milk rather than just the cream as the recipe calls for because I didn’t have time to chill it overnight, but the consistency was perfectly creamy. Please make this!

Zesty Lime, Shrimp & Avocado Salad

We made this for the Fourth of July and it is truly all things summery, flavor packed, and tasty. How can you go wrong with lime and avocado? I grilled my shrimp to add an extra note and also added black beans which made the salad less pretty but more filling.

Pineapple Cashew Fried Rice

Definitely a different flavor profile from the typical fried rice and one I gladly welcomed. Cooking the rice in pineapple juice and coconut milk provided a scrumptious sweetness that paired wonderfully with salty soy sauce sprinkled on top.

Greek Meatballs

We really enjoyed this version of meatballs. Rather than using lamb like the recipe calls for, I substituted ground beef. The inclusion of Bulgar wheat adds a nice crunch. I served this with my homemade hummus and a little salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh basil & feta topped with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Yum!

Yukon Gold & Sweet Mashed Potatoes

My friend Abigail introduced us to these a few months ago, and I’ve made them a couple times since as they are absolutely incredible! The sweet potatoes add a whole new element to the traditional mashed potatoes. They are great as the original recipe goes but I have also substituted sour cream instead of cream cheese with great success as well.

Happy July and Happy Eating!


{One Year Anniversary} Shrimp & Roasted Asparagus Risotto

On Monday, Matthew and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary! I can hardly believe that we have been married for a whole year. This year of being married to my best friend has been a year full of joy.

We had a wonderful evening of celebrating: enjoying a delicious dinner, watching our wedding video and to our great delight our wedding cake tasted great! (Thanks mom for wrapping it up so expertly.)

One thing that I remember thinking on our wedding day is how absolutely crazy and absolutely miraculous it is that at one moment I was standing at the altar facing the man I love, but in that moment before the vows and rings and pronouncement and kiss, I was single, I had my maiden name; and then after the pastor said a few beautiful words and we promised each other rich and beautiful promises and placed on our fingers these lovely bands…voila! Married! One! Forever! I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the wonder of it.

And still it is such a wonder. A glorious miracle.

And yet, even after that moment I was still me and he was still him and here we are together. Maybe I thought that when the vows were said, the cake was cut, the garter was tossed, we would become older, wiser, more mature, more patient, more perfect people.

But we aren’t. And that is what I have learned this year. I’m not. I am just not perfect. Sometimes I’m quite impatient. Most of the time I can’t get the laundry done in less than four days. Usually I still struggle to be on time. And often my words come out too harsh, I overreact, and my tendencies leans towards selfishness.

But in the places that I am not, I am  learning that gloriously miraculous thing called grace. 

The gift of grace is free. This is a gift that when taken, is easier then to give. Because I am learning that life is a process, a journey, a struggle, and what I need each day is to breath in His grace so that I can extend a hand of grace to my husband, to my neighbor, to my friends, to the stranger.

And only, really only, when I allow myself to be filled to the brim with grace can I then take a step forward into the woman God has purposed me to be.

When grace fills me up, I spill grace onto and into the hearts of others.

And you know what, that really has nothing to do with risotto, but we all know that risotto is one of the most delicious foods in the whole world.

It is a bit time consuming, but don’t be intimidated! It’s not complicated and it’s flavor and creaminess are well worth the time commitment. We had a lovely risotto bar at our wedding which is why I made it to for our anniversary dinner. Make it for someone you love. It is truly divine.

Shrimp & Roasted Asparagus Risotto

adapted from 


  • 6 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, pealed & deveined
  • 1 bundle of asparagus
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

to make:

Preheat oven to 425. Rinse asparagus and place on a large baking sheet, drizzle with two tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and one teaspoon pepper. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool the cut into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Peal and devein shrimp. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook on both sides 1-2 minutes until pink. Allow shrimp to cool until easily touched, then cut into bite size pieces. Set aside.

In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in 1/2 cup of broth, stirring constantly until the broth is fully absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in butter,  parmesan, asparagus, and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Parmesan Polenta with Shrimp & Mushrooms

Today I accidentally cut a lady off in traffic. Note: accidentally. Anyways, I could see that this lady was MAD.  Major road rage, throwing hands up, disgusted expression-the whole shebang. So, as I drove past her, I got a glimpse of her face and realized I knew this girl! I wont’ say in what context so that her identity won’t be revealed. But this girl and I totally know each other. I really don’t think she saw me, but it made me laugh. A lot. And I think this girl would be totally embarrassed if she knew I saw her.

Anyways, polenta is delicious. And really cheap! I used to by the pre-packaged polenta (what was I thinking?!) that costs about $4.00, but I discovered that really the best option is to buy from the bulk section where the polenta costs less that fifty cents for a cup!

It looks so simple. And tastes so delicious! The consistency of polenta is similar to grits. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then I’d say it’s like mashed potatoes or even risotto. But my favorite things about polenta are its creaminess and the fact that you can flavor it however you like! Parmesan cheese and butter is my simple yet scrumptious flavor combo for this recipe. Can’t really go wrong with those two ingredients.

To accompany my polenta I sauteed some shrimp that were tossed around with a few seasonings.

And some mushrooms with just olive oil, salt, and pepper. In my opinion, they just don’t need much more than that!

All together this was a simple, filling meal with lots of yummy flavors. I hope you like it!


Adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen


1 cup ground polenta

2 cups plus 1 cup of water

2 cups of chicken broth (using water here is fine too)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup parmesan cheese

1 lb shrimp, deveined and peeled

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon parsley

1 package of mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

To make: 

After peeling and deveining the shrimp, put it on a plate and sprinkle with chili powder, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix together and let it just hang out for a bit.

In a 2 quart pot, put cold water and chicken broth, add polenta. Turn on to a medium-high heat and stir until it comes to a simmer, continue stirring and bring to a boil. The polenta will begin to thicken, add a little more water if needed to achieve desired thickness. Lower heat to low and cover the pot, stirring every ten minutes for about 30 minutes until polenta is creamy. Add butter and parmesan cheese, mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the polenta is cooking, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a sauté pan and bring to medium heat. Add shrimp and cook, turning once for two minutes. Remove shrimp, place on a plate and cover with foil. Add one tablespoon olive oil to the same pan, add sliced mushrooms, sauté until soft and color darkens, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the shrimp back to the pan with the mushrooms. Serve on top of warm polenta.


Broiled shrimp with tomatoes, basil, and brie

This is a girl’s night dinner for sure. Which was perfect for a small, girls-only dinner that I hosted last night to celebrate the birthday of a dear friend.

I love girls-only dinners. It’s fun to talk about what’s going on in life and, more importantly, to talk about how you feel about what’s going on in life. It’s fun to laugh about the differences between men and women, and to watch this hilarious, and perfectly true Brian Regan clip about the male/female thought process.

But, on to the food. I made this delicious shrimp, tomato, basil & brie recipe from one of my favorite blogs-How Sweet It Is.  It sounds fancy, but was actually very simple to make and didn’t take long in the oven.

We loved sopping up the delicious flavors with lots of fresh bread. The brie is the star to the show, with it’s tangy, buttery richness. Since the summer has totally killed my basil plant, we used just a little fresh basil supplemented with dried. Otherwise, we followed the recipe precisely and it was divine. Go on over and check out the recipe!