Monday, September 23, 2013

"An explosion of Fall"...

Morning, everyone!  How the heck are ya??  Man, I knew this weekend was food-packed, but I didn't even realize how much until I went to upload all of the photos for today.  Seesh...better get to it, shall we??

So my Friday night plans continued our 'gal's night tradition' of Welcoming the Fall with Federici's pizza...

...and a trip to the Christmas Tree Shop in Freehold, NJ for some FESTIVE decor...


...and an impromptu photo shoot this year for alllll the best holidays including Thanksgiving... 
(my BFF said this NEEDED to go on the blog.  So, ya know, there ya goJ)

...and AHHHHHH...CHRISTMAS!! J 

I was SOOOO excited when I had bought Katie this cute little "K" pumpkin of her very own...
...but it, unfortunately, didn't last much longer than this photoJ  My little hulk managed to shatter it even though it was made of THICK, TOUGH plastic.  Tears.  Oh well, at least I got 1 photo of itJ

Anyway, back to Friday night which was rounded out by a trip to Jersey Freeze for some peanut butter & mini Reeses topped ice cream.... 
...which isn't very "Fall-y", but is always deliciousJ  We usually "Welcome Fall  earlier in the month and it's pretty warm...but by ice cream time this year, it was actually prettyyyyyyyyy chilly and we had to run off to the car to warm up.  Again: I'm OK with thisJ

The res of the weekend was absolutely GORGEOUS around these parts...

So Saturday we decided to start the day with a leisurely weekend breakfast trip to Tortilla Press...  
We literally opened up the joint.  It opened at 10:00am.  We rolled up at 9:59 on the dot.  OPPSSS!!  Sorry, staff!!J

Ya can't blame us when we knew as soon as we arrived we would be greeted with cinnamon & sugar dusted tortilla chips with sour cream dip...

Which Katie LOVED!  Girl LOVES to DIPJ

Next we had our favorites:  The Breakfast nachos...

...topped with perfectly seasoned potatoes, peppers & onions, bacon, salsa, guacamole & sour cream, the thing about Tortilla Press is that there food is NOT greasy AT ALL and everything tastes SOOOOO FRES, which I think says a lot for something as indulgent as Breakfast NachosJ

I was wishing for something savory, so for my breakfast I sampled the chiliquies (MINUS the scrambled egg topperJ) which are corn tortillas layered with cheese & tomatillo sause and topped with avocado & salsa... 

The chewy & cheese tortillas filled with the tangy and savory tomatillo sauce was outstanding, but it was the VIBRANT and FRESH salsa that REALLY made this dish over the top.  All with a topper of avocado to mellow it all out.  Aces, I tell ya!  This dish is ACES!

And it was easier for me to branch out and try something new knowing I was gonna get a bite of my Tortilla Press favorite from Scott:  The cinnamon-stuffed french toast!  JUST. SO. GOOD!
Tortilla Press's food + outstanding service just makes this an AWESOME brunch choice, especially if your looking for something a little outside your standard brunch fairJ

Katie gives it both a low-five... 

...as well as a high-five!J 

 We walked off some of our breakfast with a trip to the farmer's market...

...complete with some alpaca gazingJ  Katie was a little more impressed than last timeJ 

The rest our meals were made at home for the weekend, including a mac & cheese on Saturday night made with... 

...butternut squash & gouda cheese sauce...

...caramelized onions & sauteed apples...

...oh yes...and BACON!  (based on this recipe)

We had the mac & cheese along with some of our "house favorite":  Green Goblin Garlic Bread.  My niece & I made the executive decision to make this with FOUR cloves of fresh garlic, so we were sorta hilariously surprised when Katie INHALED it!  Even WE thought it was strong since the garlic doesn't have much time to mellow out in that 6 minute cooking time!

And since my niece was spending the night and we were planning on watching Insidious on a RAINY, CHILLY night...(how Halloweeeeeeeen-y!)

What better for dessert than old school Jiffy Pop! 
Yes, we went thereJ

I also whipped up a quick batch of brown butter (cooking a couple tablespoons of butter over medium/low heat until brown & golden)... 

And topped some fresh popcorn (NOT the Jiffy Pop!) with a drizzle of brown butter, sea salt & some pumpkin pie spice...swoooooooooon!  Soooooo delicious! 

Sunday morning brought pumpkin crepes (here's one of the few that actually came out in a near-circleJ)...


...and topped with the BEST part!: maple syrup mixed with (MORE) brown butter & cinnamon!
OH MAN!  THESE were superrrrrrrrrrrr decadent and indulgent, but such a special treat for THE FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF FALL!  My niece called it "an explosion of Fall in your mouth"J  However, they were SUPEEEEEEEERRRRRRRR sweet and by 1 1/2 of these, it was OVERJ

And FINALLY, we finished off our weekend with a classic Sunday dinner...

Made with fresh tomatoes from the farmer's market, which I quick boiled... 

...then dunked in cold water to easily help peel off the skin... 

...then sliced, de-seeded & slow roast for an hour on 350... 

...along with a couple heads of roasted garlic for good measure... 

...and then hit with the immersion blender to whip everything into a sauce.  
OK-let's be honest, by the time I added the meatballs and simmered this for awhile, there was NOT a lot of sauce....so it's a LOT of work & A LOT of tomatoes (2 pints of mini San Marzano tomatoes-not pictured, and 1 pint of Roma tomatoes) to make this sauce.  It's DEFINITELY a 'lazy Sunday' type of thing!

At least the efforts were worth itJ  The sauce was fresh & delicious, tinged with the flavors of roasted garlic, fresh basil (which I also added at the end) and the roasted tomatoes.  
  
The last time I made FRESH sauce was about 6 years ago.  I think it'll be another 6 before I get a chance to try it againJ  Try this the next time you have 97 tomatoes & 12 hours of 'free time'J hahahahahhahahaha

And despite ALL that food, the scale managed to still be friendly this morning since, aside from an extra slice of pizza on Friday night (that I knew I REALLY wanted), everything else I managed to eat in 'less' portions (both of the above pasta photos = 1 cup of pasta, believe it or not!  The angel hair REALLY looks like a lot!)  I even managed to sample JUST ENOUGH tortilla chips, breakfast nachos & chiliquiles on Saturday morning so I didn't feel STUFFED but managed to sample and enjoy everything!  Just thought I'd share since I've been talking about weight loss/portion control a lot lately.

Alrighty...now after typing ALL of that:  I gotta get me some breakfast!

Have a good one!J
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