Thanksgiving Empanadas!

Z and I are celebrating Thanksgiving down on Amelia Island this year. We drove down on Monday and have been enjoying quality time with his family.

This morning, Pepe started the process of making beef and vegetarian (olive, mushroom, and onion) empanadas. They were ready at lunchtime and everyone surrounded the kitchen like vultures. Abby and Pepe even brought some special sauces from Peru to share. As expected, the empanadas were incredible!







Time to rest before the main feast!!

In The Kitchen Lately…

It’s funny that I don’t blog as much as I used to. I am actually cooking way more now than I have in a while. We meal plan every week which is really fun and saves us from the “What’s for dinner?” dilemma.

Here are some meals I’ve made lately:

Spicy roasted salmon with peppers, quinoa, and an avocado tomato salad


Spicy rice noodles with zucchini and baked cod

Fish noodles

Mustardy kale salad with roasted sweet potato and apple

kale salad

Vegetable soup, kale chips, and roasted squash


Roasted squash seeds from above squash

squash seeds

Baby cucumber from our garden

baby cucumber

Hodge podge: baby cucumber, avocado, cheddar cheese, and grilled veggies (asparagus, onions, and sweet potatoes)

grilled veggies

Falafel (store bought) with Greek lemon potatoes and salad


Homemade tzatiki



falafel sandwich

Squash and pumpkin soup with pepita oil and homemade rosemary bread

squash and pump soup

Tried to propagate basil and failed.

dead basil

New honey! Yes, Van Morrison.

She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee

tupelo honey

Tie dye juice. I need more of this in my life!

tie dye juice

So that’s what’s been going on in our kitchen here in South Arlington!


I’m finally finishing a blog post about our trip down to Florida in August… Smile Stay tuned!

One-Year Anniversary Getaway!

Can you believe that z and I have been married for a whole year!? It’s hard to wrap my mind around how fast the year went by!


z planned a mini, surprise getaway! I was given a list of what to pack and told that we were driving a couple hours away in Virginia…

He sent me a collage as a clue for our adventure. I saw that we might be going to a brewery, some mountains, and a nice restaurant. All things we love:

anniversary collage

Road snacks.


Tons of fog and rain on our drive.


First stop: Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, VA


We ordered a flight to share since it was lunch…on a Monday!


Cute mini pint glasses.


z ordered the pulled pork sandwich, and I got a tofu (with local Twin Oaks tofu) reuben on a gluten free bun. The insides were yummy but the bun was not so I didn’t eat it!



z had planned a hike around the brewery but it was raining so after lunch we headed to our next destination… The Iris Inn in Waynesboro, VA.


To be honest, this was the biggest surprise to me. We had our own luxury cabin with a beautiful view of the trees and mountains! I wanted to live there.




Each cabin had an open floor plan, a screened-in porch, mini kitchen, gas fireplace, big tv, and…


…a hot tub on the porch!


(source – above 3 photos)

We checked out the room (so gorgeous – highly recommended), took a nap,  took a dip in the hot tub, and then got ready for dinner!


z picked a restaurant called Zynodoa in Staunton, VA, which specializes in southern cuisine made with local ingredients.  From the Zynodoa website:

Zynodoa is proud to support Virginia’s independent farmers and producers. We pledge to use only the finest, freshest ingredients seasonally available. Our produce and livestock are primarily sourced from the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont regions. Our seafood comes from the Chesapeake Bay. At Zynodoa, we know and respect our farm partners, and we do our best to honor their food and their labor.



Complimentary Spiced Nuts


Bruléed Cornbread Scones.


Rockfish with Sweet Potatoes, Smoked Tomatoes, and Bok Choy


Tea-Infused, Roasted Beets with Carrot Puree and Mushroom “Paté”


Our entire meal was fresh, comforting and delicious. We skipped dessert because we had the top tier of wedding cake and champagne at the cabin!




We relaxed in front of the fire with our dessert, watching cable (what a luxury)!


Such a nice surprise getaway to celebrate a year of marriage! It’s pretty great to be married to someone so awesome! 


Cheers to many, many more years!

Current Favorites.

Here are some things that I’m really loving these days.

My favorite nephew Carter! I can’t handle the Redskins shirt. Seriously cute!


Noosa Pumpkin Yoghurt – believe the hype. It’s amazing.



Our new vacuum – three words: brush roll cleaner! Thanks to my brother Shawn for introducing me to this amazing device! Never again will I have to use scissors to cut my long hair out of the vacuum’s brush roll! YES!


Gluten-Free baking mixes from Williams-Sonoma!


Our new table runner that was on sale at World Market.


Stonyfield Organic Half & Half! We are using it in our coffee and going through one of these a week!


Half-Caf iced green tea…


…in this pitcher!


Horizon Cheddar Snack Crackers. Yes, I’m five years old.


This book! I was early to a job interview so I popped in to a little bookstore in Adams Morgan and found this book for $1.00!


It helped boost my confidence!


And of course, these two guys are my forever favorites!


Have a great week!!



What are you loving these days?

Aunt Denise goes to Miami!

On June 10, 2014, one of the most amazing things happened: my brother, Shawn and sister-in-law, Amanda welcomed a beautiful baby boy into this awesome, crazy world! I am so happy and beyond excited to be an aunt! Now presenting:


Carter Emmett Chiaverini Crouch

Even though I couldn’t get down to Miami right away, I immediately bought a plane ticket and headed down the third week of July. He was already a month and 5 days when I first met him. This was my welcoming committee and I immediately fell in love <3


It was around lunch time when we arrived, so we headed straight to Blue Collar in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami. A&S sold me by telling me that Blue Collar had been on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (aka Triple D – aka one of the best shows ever)!

Blue Collar has a huge chalkboard with daily meat specials (they update it every day and post it on their Facebook page) and an insane list of veggies:


I went with the veggie burger which was a homemade crispy patty (corn, broccoli, peppers, onion, and some other delicious things) with a spicy tarter sauce on a delicious bun (I think they either make it or get it from a local bakery). So good.


I do want to say that there will be a lot of Carter pictures in this post, but I am not apologizing because he’s cute and I’m an aunt.


From the way I ate during the week, you’d probably have no idea there was a newborn in the house. As usual, A&S outdid themselves.  They are such good cooks! Remember when z and I visited in 2010 (you can read about it here, here, and here)? And when we spent Christmas down there (here, here, and here)? Their house is the place for a happy palate!

This is a layered eggplant dish that I don’t want to call eggplant parm. Because this dish was not smothered in unnecessary cheese and was not breaded beyond recognition.


This was made with care and finesse and was ridiculous. Way to go Shawn!


Wednesday morning gluten-free banana pancakes!


Cuddles with mama!


For lunch on Wednesday Amanda made homemade chips. Yes.


I could eat this every day.



That night, Amanda went out and Shawn requested…TOFU! I was happy to oblige. Now that I eat seafood, I eat a lot less tofu, but this was fun!

Brown rice, sautéed peppers, and marinated, baked tofu.


Funny, side story: I sleep with a stuffed walrus. It’s weird but I use it as a pillow and need it to sleep. Louis knows not to take my walrus but when he does, he gets really scolded. In Costa Rica, Samba stole my walrus and everyone tried hard to put it back before I found out. So…it travels with me to Miami and…gets stolen by Edgar! All the dogs love it!


I love my puppy nephew.




For lunch on Thursday we had sushi (and wasabi-bombs)!


For dinner on Thursday night, A&S made an all-homemade Mediterranean feast: falafel (from dried chickpeas), tzatziki, roasted cauliflower, hummus, and Greek salad (tomato, cucumber, kalamata olives, red onion, feta, and red wine vinegar). I think I need a food processor…


Hi sleepy!


After breakfast and cuddles, I headed to the beach. This was the only day I went to the beach because apparently newborns shouldn’t go tanning…


Windy, sunny selfie. I only stayed for an hour because July in Miami feels like sitting on the sun.


Friday night dinner: parchment tilapia (with shallot, tomato, and olives), oven dried candy tomatoes, roasted broccoli, and wild rice. I can’t pick a favorite meal from the week, but I did come home and buy shallots, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and then I made this fish… I’m a shallot convert. I have bought them each time I’ve been shopping since I came home.


Unfortunately Saturday came quickly which meant I had to fly home. Not before a photo shoot with my nephews…


The whole family (minus Edgar) accompanied me to the airport again and I sat in the backseat to soak up the rest of my time with my little guy!


The second I left, I missed him already (and have every day since I got home). I am so proud of A&S for being great parents and I’m so thankful Carter is here! I love being an aunt and can’t wait to see my buddy again!

Love to my little Miami family! You guys are perfect!

Costa Rica 2014

At the end of June, z and I flew to Costa Rica to visit A&P! They were staying for 2-months in the middle of their drive from Santa Cruz, CA to Peru! You read that right – a drive from North America to South America (with an 85 pound Golden Retriever!).

We flew from DC to Miami to San Jose! Not a bad trip at all, especially when you find rattlesnake gummies!


We got to the airport and took a shuttle to get our rental car. We were so glad we packed leftover quinoa and grilled veggies because we were super hungry!


The drive from San Jose to Esterillos Oeste is about 90 minutes (or 2 hours when you get lost).


We drove up and over lots of mountains and through many little towns – we listened to the Costa Rica v. Greece game in the car and got to hear the screams in a small town when CR scored!


After a long drive, we found A&P at Surf Mi watching the end of the game. It went to overtime and penalty kicks but Costa Rica won! It was crazy to be in a bar full of Costa Ricans when they won!

After the game, we headed to A&P’s house which is one block from the ocean in Esterillos Oeste.


For dinner that night we went to Hotel Rancho Coral: A restaurant and hotel!


The next morning, we stocked up on produce in Jaco.


There were tons of puppy cuddles.


Tons of mango (found and cut by Pepe!).


Beautiful foliage.


And a beach that was literally a stone’s…or coconut’s throw away!


These guys are the local pups – they are taken care of by everyone in Esterillos. We observed that all animals (wild and adopted-wild) were so cherished and respected.


We loved spending time with A&P – beaching, eating, and slack-lining!


Surf Mi was a favorite (we were there 3 times in a week)!


Tuna all around!




Homemade plantains, beans, rice, and salsa!!! Yes!


A definite highlight of the trip was our visit to the Manuel Antonio National Park.


I quickly learned that the Spanish word for SLOTH was Perezoso! Sloths happen to be one of my MOST favorite animals in the world! I was immediately on the lookout!


We saw wildlife…



Incredible views…




And yes, dream come true – we saw a sloth!


After a great hike and sweet, but slow sloths, we headed out…but not before some cold coconut water!


Dinner that night was at Los Alemendros


A&Z’s dad was in Costa Rica just a week or so before we were and left a special message for us: Order the brownie sundae!

Done and done.


I just have so many “favorite” parts of this trip – including any and everything having to do with Samba! He loved digging big holes and lying in them. How cute!?


Another beach day, another meal at Surf Mi…


More tuna! They do tuna really well!


It was so nice to eat out but also really nice to share cooking duties at the house. Our final meal was a delicious pasta topped with a homemade relish-like mix with onions and Peruvian peppers.


We left the morning of July 4th and Samba (the blur in the picture) was not quite ready for us to leave…


We drove back to the airport (and yes, got lost again) and saw all the support for the Costa Rica World Cup team!


We made it home just in time to watch the fireworks from our cab!


What a fun week! Thank you to Abby, Pepe, and Samba for being great hosts! PURA VIDA!

In the kitchen last week…

We are just back from visiting z’s parents in North Florida (and celebrating our big birthdays). I have been a busy bee in the kitchen this week. Actually, I’ve been a busy bee with a lot of projects in general this week.

We got home two Friday nights ago, after a 10 1/2 hour drive. That Saturday morning we packed up smoothies and walked a few blocks down the road to watch the Arlington County Fair 5k.


My parents came over later to visit and go to the fair with us. I can’t handle this picture…


Now that we’re in our new house, we’re on the same street as the fair.


We pretty much headed straight to the food carts. I got veggie lomein with TONS of sriracha!


z got BBQ, mom got pad thai with grilled chicken, and dad got a sausage roll. Oh – and lots of lemonade! There’s something about a hot summer fair and cold lemonade that makes me so happy.


Mom and I headed inside to see all the ribbon winning cakes, flowers, vegetables, and art. We were especially interested the Reserve Grand Champion-winning Coconut Cake made by Sarah! We’re so proud!


z started a new position on Monday, so I wanted to make feed him well on Sunday night. I made baked cod with chili flakes and shallots, along with this baked squash. See those tomatoes? They’re from our little farm. 


On Monday, I made a big batch of coconut grits to eat for breakfast during the week. I boiled water, salt, and a can of unsweetened coconut milk before whisking in my quick grits. Super easy!


When it came time to eat, I finished the grits with a drizzle of maple syrup and a healthy sprinkle of unsweetened coconut flakes! So good!


Another successful project this week: Homemade Yeast Bread (the kind with real yeast, a dough hook,  and patience)


The loaves on the right have a nice sheen due to the whipped egg whites I brushed on top. I think they all turned out pretty well!


Veggie tortilla soup was on the menu for Monday.


My DIY project of the week was priming and painting a hideous piece of white/faux wood furniture that was left by the previous owner of this house.

This is after the first coat of primer:


After two coats of primer and two coats of yellow paint…


I will eventually get around to recapping my many vacations this summer, but I’ve just been so busy doing this:


Somebody find me a job. Seriously.