The Dekalb Farmers Market

If you have never been to the Dekalb Farmers Market, I would highly recommend a visit. It’s a hidden gem in the city of Atlanta, and ever since I fell in love with the Athens Farmers Market, I have been obsessed with exploring markets to find the freshest, most colorful food I can find. (Side note: I miss the colors and flavors of Athens so much! It’s such a great college town. Go dawgs!)

Ever since I made the big move back to Atlanta, I’ve been dying to visit the Dekalb Farmers Market. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. As soon as I walked in, I was overwhelmed by the amount of color that I saw: fruits, vegetables, spices, cheeses, flowers, desserts, and even flags hanging from the ceiling. Whether I looked up, down, to the left, or to the right right, there was color to be seen. I was in heaven! Farmers Market FlagsLettuce HeadsPeppers

I purchased some delicious fruit (my favorite being a pineapple the store clerks peeled in front of me), fresh arugula, one of the yellow peppers, and an assortment of snacks I couldn’t resist. I left with five full grocery bags, and my total was $28.67. So not only do they have some of the freshest, most colorful food I’ve ever seen, but also some of the cheapest!

Did I mention my private tour guides? My cousin and her babies go to the Dekalb Farmers Market nearly once a week and are experts at maneuvering through the crowded yet colorful lanes. The two-year-old had an absolute blast — she was counting the vegetables we put in the cart, planning dinners for the week, and admiring the unique colors we saw around market. Her favorite things that day were a light green lemongrass and a bright purple eggplant. She loves color at an early age, too! Maybe it runs in the family. Cousin fun!

I hope my trip to the farmers market inspired you to shop and cook with a little more color! Does anyone else have a favorite market in Atlanta? Happy cooking!

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Valentine’s Day Recap

Valentine’s Day was yesterday, and now it’s time for a colorful reflection! I hope you spent your day dressed in head-to-toe red and surrounded by loved ones. I spent the majority of my day making goodies for the people that I love.

First, I made a Gluten-free Valentine Chex mix (it tasted just like puppy chow) for my non-gluten eating dad and sister! Gluten Free Chex Mis It was delicious! And the pink, red, and white colors were just perfectly festive! The recipe produced so much Chex mix, that I had enough to give some to my boyfriend (Peter) and my roomie (Erica) — all very special people in my life! Here is the recipe I found on Pinterest and a quick video I made using Vine to share the recipe’s ingredients.

When I dropped the Chex mix and Valentine’s cards off at my parent’s house, I got to spend time with someone I love very much — Hudson. Just look at this face! His blonde eyelashes. That pink nose. And his awesome snuggling skills. What a lover. Hudson

For our evening festivities, Peter volunteered to make dinner and I was responsible for making dessert. We had a decadent mushroom risotto and smothered pork chops with mushrooms from Hugh Acheson’s cookbook, A New Turn in the South. Hugh is one of our favorite chefs; we love all of his restaurants and his cookbook is awesome. (Thank goodness for the chives and thyme that we used in this recipe. The green added some much needed color to the dish!) This meal ranks as one of my all time favorites cooked by my personal chef, Peter. DinnerFor dessert, I made a red velvet and strawberry trifle. I have made this once before, so I knew it would be a success both in taste and color. Here is the recipe from Taste and Tell Blog. She does a red velvet week every year around Valentine’s Day and has some great recipes!  The vibrant red strawberries and cake mixed with the white yogurt was the perfect color combo for the occasion.
Red Velvet and Strawberry Trifle

Here’s to many more colorful memories with the people that we love!

Rainbow Cupcakes

I had been seeing pictures of rainbow cupcakes for a while, and I finally decided it was time to make some for myself! So Pinterest directed me to this post, and my roommates and I were in for a colorful treat.

I bought one box of Funfetti cake mix, one tub of Rainbow Chip icing, and a pack of food coloring. I mixed up the batter, and then separated it into five smaller bowls. Next, we put in the food coloring, which immediately turned the white cake mix and into vibrant colors. We decided to make the colors orange, blue, green, purple, and red.

We used regular cupcake tins, and my roommates and I took turns creating our cupcake masterpieces. It was like the batter was our paint… Each one had a different color scheme or pattern, and we were so anxious to see the final result!

They came out wonderfully… It looked like we had tie died the cupcakes! We were so giddy when we cut into them—this baking activity definitely made us feel like kids again. (FYI: We decided this would be a great activity for the youngins.)

After they were done cooling, I put white icing onto the rainbow cupcakes. It was a perfect color contrast. And it was so fun to find different colors and patterns with every bite.

Happy baking!

Pizza Dip

As far back as I can remember, my grandma made pizza dip at every family gathering.

While it would cook in the oven, all seven of the grandchildren would take in the distinct smell and wait impatiently for it to be done. As soon as my grandma would put the pizza dip on the table, it was a mad dash for who could eat the most. No one in my family would leave the table until the dish was empty. It was, and still is, my favorite appetizer.

Even though my grandma has passed away and no longer makes her special pizza dip, it has become one of my favorite recipes to make for any occasion. Whenever it is cooking in the oven, I marvel in the smell—a smell that conjures up both memories and my appetite. I proudly carry on her tradition and know that my grandma would be thrilled to know that I am sharing her recipe with my friends as well as keeping the dish a part of my life.

So now I share with you, my grandma’s infamous pizza dip recipe. Enjoy the memories, the smells, and most importantly the final product… I promise you won’t be disappointed.

What you need:

  • 8.5 by 11 Pyrex dish
  • 1 box of cream cheese (8 oz.)
  • 1 jar of Ragu’s Pizza Quick Snack Sauce
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese (not pictured)

How to make it:

  1. Lightly grease the Pyrex with cooking spray (I use Pam).
  2. Let the cream cheese get soft, so that you’ll be able to spread it. Cover the entire Pyrex with the cream cheese. (Sometimes, I heat the cream cheese in the microwave so it is easier to spread.)
  3. Next, chop the entire onion into small pieces. Cover the layer of cream cheese by sprinkling the onion into the Pyrex. (You don’t have to use the whole onion, as long as there is enough covering the layer of cream cheese.)
  4. Measure out one cup of mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle it evenly over the layer of onions.
  5. Pour the entire jar of Pizza Quick sauce over the layer of cheese. (Finally some bold color! The dish was looking so bland…)
  6. Lastly, sprinkle any kind of Parmesan cheese over the layer of sauce. You don’t need to cover the entire dish; it’s really just a sprinkle!
  7.  Cook for an hour at 350 degrees or until it is golden and bubbling! Serve with tortilla chips, wheat thins, or even veggies… and enjoy.

The Athens Farmers Market

As a student, I take my sleep very seriously. And the only reason I will gladly set my alarm before 9 a.m. on the weekends is to attend the Athens Farmers Market, which has quickly become one of my favorite Athens activities. My friends and I choose to get there early because that is when the vegetables are abundant and color is everywhere.

Stands are set up with local Athens vendors that sell an assortment of products—potatoes, arugula, tomatoes, bread, even freshly made pasta. I once asked a vendors if the basil he was selling was fresh, and he told me that he picked it that morning. You can’t get much fresher than that.

As I go from one stand to the next, I am overwhelmed with color…the red of a tomato, the purple of an eggplant, the intensity of a sunflower. And when I get home and start cooking, I am always delighted by the taste. What I buy from the farmers market has vibrant color and an amazing taste. I have certainly become spoiled by the quality of what I buy from the local vendors.

If you have never been to the Athens Farmers Market, I urge you to go and experience the excitement. I guarantee that you will leave with great food, a smile, and items that will make your kitchen and food colorful!

BLUE for charity: water

Our social media class is working on a group campaign to raise $5000 for charity: water, a non-profit organization that deals with the water crisis in underdeveloped countries.

Our goal: to raise $5000 so we can build a well, which would give 250 people clean water.

Our first plan of action was to hold a bake sale to get a basic start on our fundraising. And to my excitement, we decided to have it themed blue—that’s right, all cookies, cupcakes and treats were blue to make a statement that we were baking for water.

Check out our baked goods:

There were three different kinds of blue inspired cupcakes! These have awesome blue water droplets.

I made the blue rice krispie treats. It was so easy—I just put food coloring in the recipe!

We had buckets filled with blue tissue paper for decoration.

And we even sold water.

Charity: water is a great cause, and to learn more about it view their website.

More importantly, we need YOUR help in reaching our goal of $5000! Please visit our class site here to contribute in our efforts to build a well. Thanks in advance!

Italian Amore

I was reminiscing through my pictures when I came across my album from when I traveled to Italy.

I studied abroad in Italy this past summer, and everyday I was overwhelmed with its beauty. The architecture, people, food and scenery constantly took my breath away. And looking back at those pictures I realized… COLOR was everywhere.

I studied in Verona, which is located in the Veneto region in the north. (It is said to be the city where Romeo and Juliet took place, thus it is called the city of love.) Each building was painted a pastel color and had contrasting colored shutters on its windows. Flowers hung in baskets out of windows. And no matter where I looked, color was present.

Below is a picture of Piazza Bra, which is one of two main piazzas in the city of Verona. The architecture here was defined and the color of the buildings, street signs and even the road played a significant role in the city’s beauty.

 

Here is a picture of Verona taken from the top of the clock tower in the center of city. This is the bird’s eye view of the city where you can see the colored roofs, rolling hills and unique buildings. Man the birds have it good…

Yes, the entire city looked like this. In fact every city I traveled to in Italy had its own breathtaking attributes and I regularly found myself standing in awe of what I was looking at.

 

As I traveled around the rest of Italy, I quickly learned that the country’s landscape—as well as the food and wine—was also full of color and beauty.

Here is one of five dashing towns in Cinque Terre, located on the Italian Riviera. A hiking trail connects the towns, and I hiked from town to town while mesmerized by the intense blue of the Mediterranean Sea, fierce green grass on the side of the mountains and the rainbow of buildings in each town.

The Amalfi Coast was, in my opinion, the most beautiful and elegant city I visited. Here I am with my travel partner and BFF on the balcony of our hotel in Positano. Cascading hills lined with colorful homes and hotels as well as dainty flowers were everywhere I looked.

My friends and I were lucky enough to get to experience hands-on Italian cooking by taking a cooking class in the countryside. Below are stuffed zucchini flowers with chives and goat cheese filling. We beer battered them and baked them in the oven—quite a decadent appetizer. Also, we handpicked spices from the garden to create a fabulous dinner where I was able to focus on the exceptional taste with each bite.

Now the only thing left to do is book my next trip!! Anyone up for a visit to Italy?