Greek Appetizers + Bites

Greek Appetizer Plate Mr. RC and I always seem to be short on time, but we love cooking together so much that we don’t always want to eat out. Our solution has been creating themed appetizer plates, with mostly ready-made options for ease, but enough homemade parts to still get a little cooking time together. We’ve been doing these for quite some time now and have developed an array of themed app-dinners (as I like to call them) so I thought it would be fun to share them with you over the next several months. First up, our favorite Greek/Mediterranean themed app-dinner. We probably eat this at least once every couple weeks during the summer. The lighter fare and refreshing elements make it especially perfect for warm summer nights. Here’s what we like to include in our Greek appetizer spread:

  • Hummus (homemade)
  • Greek Yogurt Dip (homemade, recipe below)
  • Tahini Dip (store bought)
  • Stuffed Grape Leaves (we want to try making these but for now they are store bought…the canned ones sold at Trader Joe’s are really good)
  • Pita Pieces or Pita Chips (store bought; homemade recipe here)
  • Falafel (homemade; Trader Joe’s sells a good one too)
  • Olives (Trader Joe’s Greek Olive Mix or Fairway’s olive bar)
  • Feta and/or haloumi cheese
  • Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumber 
  • Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant Dip (Trader Joe’s) or Roasted Veggie Dip (recipe here)

To make this into a bigger, slightly more complicated meal we’ll serve these appetizers alongside a Greek Salad or Spanakopita.

Hummus Greek Olives falafel Greek dips Mediterranean Appetizers Feta Greek yogurt Dip Greek Yogurt Dip Mediterranean appetizer plate

Feta Greek Yogurt Dip
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups Greek yogurt
  2. 1/3 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  3. The juice of 1 lemon
  4. 2-3 tablespoons of Za'atar (depending on flavor preferences)
  5. 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  6. A large dash of garlic powder
  7. A dash of cumin
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir until well-combined and serve. Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to a week.
Notes
  1. This does taste better after it has sat in the fridge for several hours, so if you can I highly recommend making this ahead.
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Denim Does It

loose top, jean shorts, Converse sneakers When it comes to jean cut-offs, I’m more of an easy-does-it-on-the-holes-and-rips kind of girl. But these shorts have me saying “denim does it”, and by ‘it’ I mean as many rips and holes as these babies can possibly hold. I’ve had these denim cut-offs for close to 8 years now, and before that I had them as jeans for 5-6 years. They are several sizes too big, they have more holes than a piece of swiss cheese, and I’ve tried to make myself get rid of them at least a dozen times. And yet here they are. Despite the many other pairs of denim shorts that have come and gone in my closet, these have remained faithfully comfortable, soft, and perfectly worn in, and I have yet to find a pair of shorts that compare. So in my closet they shall stay…

Mexican Style Shirt denim cut-offs outfit Southwestern Style casual summer outfit Old Navy white bucket bag jean short cut-offs simple summer outfit H&M Hat (similar) // Alternative Apparel Shirt thrifted via Crossroads Trading// DIY Jean Cut-Off’s from Buckle Jeans (similar) // Converse Shoes // Old Navy Bag

Shop My Look + Similar Items Below 

Brooklyn Backyard Reveal, Part 1

urban gardening It’s finally time for the big backyard reveal! I know, I know, it’s already halfway through summer and I’m just getting this up here. I blame…..the fact that we’ve been enjoying the yard so much, I almost forgot to take pictures??! Does that work as a valid excuse? Excuses or not, the backyard pictures (part one) are finally here!

I wanted to start by first sharing our garden and all the veggies we’ve been busy growing (yup, we’re #28goingon60). One of the biggest reasons why Mr. RC and I wanted outdoor space was specifically so we could have some home-grown produce. I grew up in a family of gardeners and home-grown produce was a part of every summer meal. Of course, when I was younger, the only reason you would find me in the garden was by force (weeding was on my chore list) or because I was sneaking a veggie snack. Of course, now that I’m older (and wiser) I realize how much I missed the simplicity of fresh picked tomatoes and lettuce for a supper salad, or picking a few green beans to snack on, so, despite everyone telling us that a garden in Brooklyn would never work, we decided we would make it work (we’re such #gardennerds). Currently we have 4 types of tomatoes, 4 types of peppers, peas, beans, swiss chard, radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, chives, parsley, basil, sage, dill, rosemary, cucumbers, yellow and green summer squash, and a grape plant. Below are a few pictures of our plants plus a few tips for “urban gardening” (mostly courtesy of my 13 year-old brother who spends his spare time working on a farm and is quite the little gardening whiz). Stay tuned next week for part 2 of the Brooklyn backyard makeover reveal.

herb plants squash blossoms Brooklyn Backyard Reveal, Part 1 || Runway Chef urban garden tips vegetable plants grape plant mini grapes Brooklyn Backyard Reveal, Part 1 || Runway Chef tomatoes green beans Small Gardening Tips

Know when to start something by seed and when to buy a plant already started

  • Seeds are great for things like lettuce, herbs, spinach, peas and beans as well as things that grown into the ground (i.e. beets, carrots, onions)
  • Buy starter plants for things that take longer to germinate, so tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, and cucumbers are all good examples

Use pots to make your space go further

  • Anything that grows up and not out is great for a pot, i.e. things like tomatoes and peppers.
  • Herbs are also great in pots. While some of them do spread out, we tend to use herbs enough in our cooking that the plants are always getting trimmed back.
  • Of course, keep the shape of your plant in mind when picking out pots. Tomatoes will need something very large, herbs mostly work well in smaller, round pots, and things like thyme or mint spread out so I would recommend using rectangular shaped planters.
  • Don’t be afraid to try growing something less traditional in a pot. We have both cucumbers and squash in planters, and while the squash have yet to produce fruit, both plants are doing really well. In a way, the pot replaces the mound of dirt traditionally needed to plant things like squash so I think that’s why it works so well. Just make sure you have room to let the vines spread out.

Combine plants to maximize your gardening space

  • Coordinate your plants based on how they grow to get the most gardening space out of your planters. What I mean by this, is place plants that grow up with plants that stay low or grow out. So for example, peppers grow up and squash spreads out, so in one box we have the peppers in the middle (along with some dill) and then the cucumbers are on the edge growing down over the sides of the box. Thyme is another plant that grows low and does well on the edge of a flower pot. If you have a wall or trellis, put things like peas and beans next to that and then put something low growing beneath them.

Make sure you consistently water, weed, and fertilize

  • I know this kind of goes without saying, but the biggest key to a successful garden (big, small, or just in pots), is making sure you keep things cleaned up and weeded, water consistently, and fertilize (or use soil that has fertilizer added to it).

Do you have a garden? If so, I’d  love to know what you are growing.

Healthy Living- Detox Water

Detox Water As promised, I wanted to share more about my skin routine and the different things I do to keep it healthy in the most natural and organic way possible. While I will eventually get to what I put ‘on’ my skin, I think it is more important to start with what you put ‘in’ your skin, as I believe true beauty comes from within (both physically and emotionally). There are two parts to what I put into my body for healthy skin: vitamins (which we will discuss later) and detox waters. Two out of three of these detox drinks use water and simple house hold items. In fact, they seem so simple you might even wonder if they make a difference. I’ve done plenty of research over the years and have pulled some facts together so you can make your own educated decision, but in my opinion detox water definitely makes a difference.

Lemon Detox Water

Lemon Water 

8 ounces of water + Juice of half of lemon (can be diluted more to suit your tastes)

Every morning I roll out of bed, brush my teeth, and then grab a glass of lemon water. Every.single.morning. My skin has started to glow just a little bit more, and I’ve noticed my morning breathe growing fainter and fainter. Here are some other benefits:

  • Packed with vitamin C, citric acid, potassium (nourishes brain and nerve cells as well as your heart), calcium, phosphorus, magnesium
  • Lemon juice in a glass of warm water first thing in the morning helps flush out toxins and replenishes body salts (also good after a workout)
  • Aids in the production of bile and digestive juices which aids in your digestion and also relieves indigestion symptoms
  • Enhances enzyme function which stimulates your liver and aids in cleansing your system
  • Helps prevent wrinkles and acne and promotes clear skin
  • The pectin fiber in lemon is beneficial for colon health as well as an appetite suppressant thus helping you lose weight
  • Lemon is a powerful antibacterial and helps aid against the common cold as well as the growth of pathogenic bacteria that cause infections and disease
  • Gives you an energy boost which is helpful for those trying to cut caffeine
  • Maintains healthy eyes and fights against eye health problems
  • It balances and maintains healthy pH levels in your body
  • Dissolves uric acids which helps reduce pain and inflammation in your joints and knees 

Please note: One side effect of lemon water can be its harsh effect on your teeth enamel. It is recommended that you brush your teeth prior to drinking lemon water and then do not brush again until at least 3 hours after. You can also swish plain water around your mouth after drinking your lemon water. You can read more about the benefits of lemon detox water here and here.

Apple Cider Vinegar detox water

Vinegar Water

8 ounces of water + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (make sure it is unfiltered)

or

8 ounces of seltzer water + 1 tablespoon of vinegar + a splash of juice (typically cranberry juice…you want some that is 100% juice with nothing added)

The benefits of drinking vinegar water are similar to lemon water. It’s great for detoxing and it’s also high in potassium. I find that drinking vinegar detox water helps me to stay detoxed and debloated. Some other benefits include:

  • Apple cider vinegar has all the same benefits that apples do, meaning it is packed with enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants, beta carotene, calcium, iron, pectin, silicon and potassium.
  • It helps keep blood pressure low
  • It can aid in the prevention of colon cancer
  • Apple cider vinegar helps lower glucose levels which in turn can help with diabetes
  • It also aids with weight loss by acting as an appetite suppressant, reducing water retention, increase metabolism, and helping with digestion

Please note: To receive these benefits you must use apple cider vinegar that is raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized, made from organic apples, and includes something about ‘the mother’ (aka the translucent film floating around in the vinegar) on the label. The brand I like to use is Bragg’s, which you can find online, at Whole Foods, or any other health store or specialty market. You can read more about the benefits of apple cider vinegar detox water here.

Dermal Health Detox water

Herb Pharm Dermal Health Drops 

8 ounces of water + 1 dropper of Dermal Health, 3x a day

While this compound is also great for detoxing your system and keeping your liver clean, its primary focus is detoxing the skin to help aid in relief of skin diseases such eczema, psoriasis, and acne. I have been drinking leon and vinegar water for years, but this detox solution is a recent recommendation. It was recommended to me by the lady who runs the herb shop in our neighborhood, and while it didn’t clear up my skin issues, I have noticed a big difference. Here are the ingredients found in this compound as well as links to pages with each of their benefits:

  • Burdock Seed: here and here
  • Stinging Nettle Seed: here
  • Sarsaparilla Root: here
  • Yellow Dock Root: here
  • Spilanthes Flowering Herb: here
  • Ginger Rhizome: here

Please note: This is by far the most expensive detox drink on the list and also probably the hardest to come by. The flavor is also not the most pleasant. 

*Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. These are simply things that have worked for me, my research on them, and my observations of how they have worked. Please consult your physician with any questions*

Happy Hour

Lobster Landing {Lobster roll lunch spot in Connecticut}

Do I want to be funny? Inspirational? How about motivational? Or maybe just plain informational? These are the thoughts that run through my head as I sit down to type out each week’s Happy Hour post………Who am I kidding?! That’s a total lie. The thoughts that actually run through my head consist more of “I wish I had another one of those lobster rolls”, “I would so much rather be back at the beach”,”What are you going to write Alyssa?”, “I could go for a happy hour cocktail right now” “Alyssa! Focus! You need to write something!”…Ya, well this week’s “something” is what you just read. Neither inspirational nor motivational, but as they say “That’s all I’ve got for now kids”.

Hope you’re all having a great week and, in case you missed it, I’m giving away 2 gift cards for FREE ICE CREAM. It’s almost too easy to enter…simply leave a comment with your favorite ice cream flavor on this picture or here on Facebook, and that’s it! Winner will be chosen by random on Sunday, the 20th.

old records {The start of our record collection}

antiques {Some vintage finds from over the weekend}

summer squash {Unusually shaped squash…apparently this type is referred to as “Eight Ball”}

fabric {Fabric to make new covers for our bedroom pillows}

Happy Hour - A Weekly Round-up of Happy Things on Runway Chef {via}