Friday, October 4, 2013

Kotor, Montenegro

5/29/2012, Tuesday, Kotor, Montenegro


 
Early morning: I woke up again bright and early just as Captain Yannis was turning the Solstice 180 degrees to face the bow towards the opening out of the Montenegro fjords (see pic to the right). Today we all decided to sleep in a little and try to leave the ship between 9-10. There was a chance of rain for later in the day so we did not want to get off too late.




Kotor: The plan for today was Tyler, Brandon, and myself would climb all the way up to the fort while mom and dad just strolled around the city together. We easily reached the tender and before long we were stepping off in Kotor. I pointed up to the red flag at the top of the fort and told Brandon and Tyler that was where we were headed!






Kotor, Montenegro is a small medieval town along the Adriatic sea. We did not get a map or anything for Kotor, it is pretty easy to get around. We followed the crowd to the entrance of the medieval town. And walked through the cool opening in the wall.Medieval towns have a lot of charm!






As I stated, our goal was to climb the trail up to the top to see the fort. We were also told the view from up top is amazing! By this point I had consumed more dessert in the past week than my entire life combined so I welcomed the hike! We left mom and dad and easily were able to find the start to climb the winding path up to the fort. We paid the guy 3 Euros to climb and started.


Not long after we started did Brandon and Tyler start complaining, already? Come on guys! We made it to the half-way point where a guy sells water and there are a few benches to cool off and rest. This seems to be the point where those who decided they do not want to continue go back down and those that are determined continue on. We lost Brandon at this point and Tyler was being a good sport. Well honestly the reason he stayed was because he didn’t want to leave me alone, he really did not want to continue.



This picture does a good job showing the zig-zag donkey trail we hiked up. Yes, it really is an old donkey trail. I thought it was fun :)





Tyler needed another break so I took more pictures. The wild poppies were so pretty!


We finally made it to the top. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the top. It was nice and breezy up top and we could see the storm clouds rolling in.







We viewed for a little, took in the view and headed back down. There is not really a lot to do up top besides take the view in, which is truly spectacular. The ship looks so BE-A-Utiful from up high!


Going down took 23 minutes. I found almost “skipping” down was a lot easier than stopping and stepping each individual step. I flew down the switchbacks and stones and made it to the bottom in no time.

Video from the fort at the top of Kotor:
http://youtu.be/eBUza1kXkL0


We took the tender back to get some lunch. And by lunch, I mean dessert. I just walked up a donkey trail, I think I burned enough calories to start of the sweets again :)



After lunch we decided to nap… until… what sounded like someone was putting dynamite in the mountains and exploding them. It made both of us jump right up out of bed. It was thunder! The thunder has a deep rolling, growling, roar that moves through the mountains. The sound most bounce off the sides of the fijords. The video does not do it justice, like most videos.

Here is a video of the thunderstorm in Kotor:
http://youtu.be/A4AVYRm7MA0

We could no longer sleep. I found my dad and he wanted to play backgammon. We headed up to the Sky Lounge to grab a couple seats, play backgammon, and get ready for our departure from Kotor.

Sky Lounge:




We headed to the Sky Lounge to watch us navigate through the fjords and make our way out to the Adriatic Sea. The thunder storms continued and the rain rolled down the windows of the Sky Lounge. However, by the time we existed the fjords the sky cleared up,


We all went our separate ways. Most of us went to nap. I did some P90X and headed to the gym for some more cardio. I gained about 7 pounds by now. EeeEEk! I know "some" of it was bloating but lets be real, I did order 4 desserts in one night!

We saw the magic show before dinner tonight. We thought it was good and enjoyable. Next we explored the ship before heading to dinner. After dinner we ran into the magician who was very chatty with us and drunk; very drunk. Just look at this picture!

After trying to have a conversation with the magician we watched the “Dancing with the Stripes” a dance contest that featured guests and crew. It was very entertaining. See the video below; there were some real characters! Off to bed we went. You can see Esperanza, our cruise director, in this picture. I liked her a lot, she was a great cruise director!



“Dancing with the Stripes” dance contest:

http://youtu.be/NVthFQOX6eE

I want to end this post with one of my favorite pictures from the trip!























Other stops on our trip:

Barcelona Day 1 (exploring on foot)
Barcelona Day 2 (hop on/hop off bus)
Cote d'Azur and Monte Carlo, Monaco
Florence, Tuscany, & Pisa
Rome
Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Positano
1st Sea Day
Kotor, Montenegro
Venice, Italy Day 1
Venice, Italy Day 2
Dubrovnik, Croatia




Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stuffed Green Peppers Recipe

Credit: www.kalynskitchen.com

The countdown is on... wedding in T-minus 60 days!

I needed something semi-healthy and still satisfying tonight after a long day at work. Stuffed peppers is my go-to recipe for this!

I adapted this recipe off of pinterest, here is the direct link: Kalyn's Kitchen

I make more if an Italian style but you could also make this in a Mexican version! I bet that would be delish! 

Stuffed Green Peppers with Rice, Vegetables, and Sausage
Makes 4 stuffed peppers and a little extra 



Ingredients:
1 C long-grain brown rice (I used Uncle Ben's Brown Rice, but any long-grain rice will work.)
4 large green bell peppers, bottom trimmed, cap end cut off and diced, and seeds removed
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
2 links (about 8 ounces) turkey Sweet Italian Sausage (or other sausage of your choice. Use diced mushrooms instead of sausage for vegetarian version.)
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1/2 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese - See more at: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2010/09/recipe-for-stuffed-green-peppers-with.html#sthash.mhgpo2ko.dpuf
4 Green Bell Peppers
1 package of Italian sausage
1 cup uncooked rice (any kind, I usually use brown)
1/2 large onion
1/2 cup parmesean cheese
1/2 cup of other cheese- Mexican mix, mozzarella, etc.
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 
preheat oven to 375 degrees
1.) Cook the rice according to directions. Set aside. 
2.) Prepare the vegetables. Trim the bottoms off the bell peppers so the lay flat and don't topple over. Trim off the tops and clean out the insides. Chop up the left over top of the green pepper. Dice the 1/2 onion.
3.) Place the diced vegetables and sausage in a pan. Saute until sausage is completely cooked. Once cooked, add the rice and stir. Add the cheese.
4.) Stuff the peppers with the rice/sausage/vegetable filling, press down to pack them. If you have left overs, use ramekins.
5.) Cook for 30 minutes. Add cheese on top if you desire towards the very end of baking.




Stuffed Green Peppers with Brown Rice, Italian Sausage, and Parmesan
(Makes 4 large stuffed green peppers, recipe created by Kalyn when her market had a great sale on peppers!)

1 C long-grain brown rice (I used Uncle Ben's Brown Rice, but any long-grain rice will work.)
4 large green bell peppers, bottom trimmed, cap end cut off and diced, and seeds removed
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
2 links (about 8 ounces) turkey Sweet Italian Sausage (or other sausage of your choice. Use diced mushrooms instead of sausage for vegetarian version.)
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1/2 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Cook rice according to package directions, or using a rice cooker. (Rice can be cooked ahead and used in this recipe later.)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Trim bottom of bell peppers so they have a flat surface to stand on. Cut off a fairly generous amount of the stem end of peppers, then remove seeds. Place hollowed-out peppers in a baking dish that you've sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil. (A dish that's close in size to the peppers will work best.)

Remove stem part from the pepper caps and trim off any white membrane, then dice pepper caps and the onion into fairly small dice. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet, then saute diced pepper and onion for 3-4 minutes, until they are starting to soften but aren't browned. Remove pepper-onion mixture to a bowl, add 1 tsp. more olive oil, then squeeze sausage out of the casing and cook until it's lightly browned, breaking apart with the back of the turner.

Put the onion-pepper mixture back into the pan with the sausage, add the dried spices, and saute 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors. Then add cooked rice and Parmesan cheese, season the mixture with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and cook just long enough to warm, about 1-2 minutes.

Stuff the filling mixture into the hollowed-out peppers, using a spoon to press the mixture down so it's tightly packed into the pepper shell. (A few years ago I stopped pre-cooking the peppers before stuffing, and now I prefer peppers that are stuffed raw.) If you have any extra filling, you can put it in a small ramekin and bake along with the peppers. Bake peppers for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and put a generous pinch of grated mozzarella on top of each pepper. Put peppers back into the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.

You can freeze leftover peppers for a month or two, although the frozen peppers will be a little softer in texture (but still very tasty.) I cut them in half top-to-bottom before freezing and freeze two halves in a small baking dish with a snap-on lid.
- See more at: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2010/09/recipe-for-stuffed-green-peppers-with.html#sthash.mhgpo2ko.dpuf
Stuffed Green Peppers with Brown Rice, Italian Sausage, and Parmesan
(Makes 4 large stuffed green peppers, recipe created by Kalyn when her market had a great sale on peppers!)

1 C long-grain brown rice (I used Uncle Ben's Brown Rice, but any long-grain rice will work.)
4 large green bell peppers, bottom trimmed, cap end cut off and diced, and seeds removed
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
2 links (about 8 ounces) turkey Sweet Italian Sausage (or other sausage of your choice. Use diced mushrooms instead of sausage for vegetarian version.)
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1/2 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Cook rice according to package directions, or using a rice cooker. (Rice can be cooked ahead and used in this recipe later.)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Trim bottom of bell peppers so they have a flat surface to stand on. Cut off a fairly generous amount of the stem end of peppers, then remove seeds. Place hollowed-out peppers in a baking dish that you've sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil. (A dish that's close in size to the peppers will work best.)

Remove stem part from the pepper caps and trim off any white membrane, then dice pepper caps and the onion into fairly small dice. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet, then saute diced pepper and onion for 3-4 minutes, until they are starting to soften but aren't browned. Remove pepper-onion mixture to a bowl, add 1 tsp. more olive oil, then squeeze sausage out of the casing and cook until it's lightly browned, breaking apart with the back of the turner.

Put the onion-pepper mixture back into the pan with the sausage, add the dried spices, and saute 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors. Then add cooked rice and Parmesan cheese, season the mixture with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and cook just long enough to warm, about 1-2 minutes.

Stuff the filling mixture into the hollowed-out peppers, using a spoon to press the mixture down so it's tightly packed into the pepper shell. (A few years ago I stopped pre-cooking the peppers before stuffing, and now I prefer peppers that are stuffed raw.) If you have any extra filling, you can put it in a small ramekin and bake along with the peppers. Bake peppers for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and put a generous pinch of grated mozzarella on top of each pepper. Put peppers back into the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.

You can freeze leftover peppers for a month or two, although the frozen peppers will be a little softer in texture (but still very tasty.) I cut them in half top-to-bottom before freezing and freeze two halves in a small baking dish with a snap-on lid.
- See more at: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2010/09/recipe-for-stuffed-green-peppers-with.html#sthash.mhgpo2ko.dpuf
Stuffed Green Peppers with Brown Rice, Italian Sausage, and Parmesan
(Makes 4 large stuffed green peppers, recipe created by Kalyn when her market had a great sale on peppers!)

1 C long-grain brown rice (I used Uncle Ben's Brown Rice, but any long-grain rice will work.)
4 large green bell peppers, bottom trimmed, cap end cut off and diced, and seeds removed
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
2 links (about 8 ounces) turkey Sweet Italian Sausage (or other sausage of your choice. Use diced mushrooms instead of sausage for vegetarian version.)
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1/2 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Cook rice according to package directions, or using a rice cooker. (Rice can be cooked ahead and used in this recipe later.)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Trim bottom of bell peppers so they have a flat surface to stand on. Cut off a fairly generous amount of the stem end of peppers, then remove seeds. Place hollowed-out peppers in a baking dish that you've sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil. (A dish that's close in size to the peppers will work best.)

Remove stem part from the pepper caps and trim off any white membrane, then dice pepper caps and the onion into fairly small dice. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet, then saute diced pepper and onion for 3-4 minutes, until they are starting to soften but aren't browned. Remove pepper-onion mixture to a bowl, add 1 tsp. more olive oil, then squeeze sausage out of the casing and cook until it's lightly browned, breaking apart with the back of the turner.

Put the onion-pepper mixture back into the pan with the sausage, add the dried spices, and saute 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors. Then add cooked rice and Parmesan cheese, season the mixture with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and cook just long enough to warm, about 1-2 minutes.

Stuff the filling mixture into the hollowed-out peppers, using a spoon to press the mixture down so it's tightly packed into the pepper shell. (A few years ago I stopped pre-cooking the peppers before stuffing, and now I prefer peppers that are stuffed raw.) If you have any extra filling, you can put it in a small ramekin and bake along with the peppers. Bake peppers for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and put a generous pinch of grated mozzarella on top of each pepper. Put peppers back into the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.

You can freeze leftover peppers for a month or two, although the frozen peppers will be a little softer in texture (but still very tasty.) I cut them in half top-to-bottom before freezing and freeze two halves in a small baking dish with a snap-on lid.
- See more at: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2010/09/recipe-for-stuffed-green-peppers-with.html#sthash.mhgpo2ko.dpuf

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Will you be my bridesmaid ideas

Will you be my bridesmaid? A little phrase every newly engaged lady looks forward to saying. If you are the type who has been planning your wedding since you were 5, I imagine you also have thought about your right hand ladies for a while. My bridesmaids live all across the South and I wanted to ask them in person and in a personal way.


I went to the store and bought each of my ladies favorite wine (and margarita for my bf who does not drink wine). I soaked the labels off and made a simple label on my computer. On the label I included words, phrases, verbs, adjectives, and inside jokes I have with each bridesmaid.

At the bottom I included the line "Will you be my bridesmaid?"

The ladies loved it! And it brought on the tears, hugs, and happy girl time!





Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake and Graham Cracker Ice Cream

This is a life changing ice cream!  This ice cream has real cheesecake chunks, fresh strawberries, and actual graham crackers pieces!



Ever since the first time we used the ice cream maker I got as a bridal shower gift we have been hooked on coming up with creative recipes. We had a friend coming over who does not eat chocolate (crazy! Who doesn't eat chocolate?); I usually make cheesecake when he comes over. However we wanted to use our ice cream maker. And just like that, we came up with a fresh strawberry ice cream with cheesecake and gram crackers. The recipe starts as a basic ice cream recipe, then we added the magic to it!

Warning: this is not for the dieter (even though I am dieting, I still could not resist it).

Strawberry Cheesecake and Graham Cracker Ice Cream Recipe
Makes  5 cups (serves 10 1/2 cup servings) 

Ingredients:
I package of Edwards  frozen original cheesecake slice (comes with 2 slices), thawed
3 Graham cracker "sheets" crushed up as much as you like
1 1/2 cups of strawberries (we used one standard sized fresh package)
3/4 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
1.) Put the strawberries into a food processor and pulse/chop strawberries until a desired consistency.
2.) In a medium bowl, whisk milk, sugar, and and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in heavy cream and vanilla. Stir in the strawberries (with juices). Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.
3.) Turn on ice cream maker. Pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened. At the 15 minute mark, pour in the Graham crackers and the cheesecake by the spoonful. (If it over flows, just scoop some out and save for later, or eat now!). Transfer to an airtight container (we used mason jars) and place in freezer for 2 hours.



Of course you can eat it right away, it just will not be as firm.

Enjoy!
Ashley


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fall Engagement Photo Session in Atlanta

Fall engagement pictures in Atlanta, Georgia


We decided to have our engagement pictures taken in Georgia in the fall when the leaves are changing. Since our wedding will be on the beach, we thought it would be nice to have a change of scenery. My friend, Gina, was able to introduce me to her photographer friend who recently moved to Atlanta. We spent the entire day together exploring the north suburbs of Atlanta. We used Danielle, owner of DiBlasio Photography of Georgia

Here are some of our favorites...

First, Tyler and I love Scrabble so we got creative with the Scrabble tiles: 



We stumbled upon an old barn and had fun taking pictures around it:





And like any good engagement session, we used an abandoned field:







Next stop, a creek:







And our last stop, Roswell Mill: