adventures in iowa part 2

I would be so thankful if you would take a second to go here to check out and consider voting for my entry for Project Food Buzz Challenge #3!  I need you all now more than ever! You guys are the best:)

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Whew!  What a weekend!  Between our road-tripping wedding weekend in Iowa and pulling off a dinner party on Sunday, I am still trying to bounce back energy wise.

Aside from a serious lack of sleep, we had a seriously epic time.

Thursday night was the rehearsal dinner for the lovely couple – and not only was there great friends, but the food wasn’t too bad either.  I was prepared for the worst and had a Larabar in tow just in case…but I ended up with a plate full of roasted potatoes, corn (very fittingly), salad and a piece of bread.  Unfortunately (or fortunately:), I was having so much fun, I didn’t manage to get any food pics.

probably the only time you’ll ever see the husband holding a pocket knife and a corn husk:)

After an early morning workout session (bike and eliptical) at the hotel Friday morning, I spent the day exploring the cute little city of Burlington with a couple of friends…and they let me go wild snapping pictures.  I’m sure I was driving them crazy by the end of the day, but they were so sweet and gracious about it – standing around waiting on me and trying to look natural while I snapped away!

But first…lunch at a classy little cafe, Bistro 322.  I ordered the veggie and white bean hummus wrap with mixed greens on the side.

As you guys know, I just took a beginner’s photography class during the month of August, and aside from photographing food, I haven’t really practiced all that much.  Unfortunately it’s kind of challenging for me to get inspired just going about my day-to-day at home, but I’m really working on finding inspiration in my own surroundings.  Even though Burlington is a fairly average little town, it has loads of charm…plus, the weather was breathtaking!

Lately I’ve become obsessed with jumping pictures.  And I was feeling a bit frisky with the 70 degree weather and all:)

After an afternoon full of sightseeing, we sauntered over to Illinois before making our way back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding!

The wedding was at a quaint little church on the outskirts of town.  And it just so happened to have a giant corn field right beside it.  We had spent enough time gazing at the corn from afar…it was time to get up close and personal!

With the corn and with each other;)

And last, but definitely not the least – it was reception time!

We danced the night away:)

Stay tuned for the last part of our Iowa adventure tomorrow as we road-tripped back home, stopping at one of the finest sightseeing locations in Iowa.  At least from what I’ve seen.

And again, I’d be so thankful if you’d consider giving me your vote!

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Project Food Blog Challenge #3: Share a Little Ole with Us

Welcome to Challenge #3 for Project Food Blog!  Thanks again, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who voted for me in rounds 1 and 2.  I’m so thankful to be competing in round 3!

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It’s 4:20 pm on Sunday, and as I stand over my kitchen sink, scrubbing wine glasses and frying pans, I feel content and joyful thinking back over the last few hours.

You see, I hosted a last minute dinner party for my husband and two sweet friends, and even though everything has been a bit crazy around here, I can’t wait to do it all over again.  We ate. We drank. And we shared stories.  All over a comforting and delicious 3 course meal.

It’s hard to believe that this time yesterday I was still driving back to Oklahoma from a 4 day wedding event in Iowa, filled with amazing food and exhilarating reunions between friends.  It was one for the books!

But then I found myself pulling into my driveway at 10pm Saturday night, thankful that I had cleaned my house ahead of time and planned my menu on the long, 10 hour drive home, yet still a bit nervous for the array of tasks ahead.  First on the list – get last minute ingredients and fancy up the table!

Thankfully, I had the best sidekick ever, to help pull off this epic party.

I knew in order to host a vegan dinner party with very little time that would still make my guests feel on top of the world, I needed to plan a menu that I’d be very comfortable with.  And for all of you who read my blog often, you know what that means.

Two words: Tex-Mex.

I grace the pages of this blog with Tex-Mex food quite often – it’s delicious, it’s relatively quick and easy and it doesn’t cost a whole lot!  Plus, who doesn’t love the thrilling flavors of Tex-Mex food?  But this couldn’t be just any Tex-Mex meal…it had to ooze luxury and class.  And considering my dinner guests aren’t familiar with vegan meals, I wanted to give them an unforgettable first impression of what vegan food has to offer.

With that in mind, allow me to invite you to share a little Olé (spanish for “cheer”) with us.

We started the afternoon off with refreshing glasses of iced Passion tea, paired with appetizers of Spicy Chipotle Salad, organic blue corn chips and three different kinds of guacamole – chipotle, barbecue and classic.

I like to think of guacamole as my forté.  I love to make it, and I still have yet to find a recipe my husband likes better; however, I decided to spice things up with a little variety as this was no ordinary dinner party.  The barbecue version won the award for most loved, while the classic came in a close second.

The appetizers were a huge hit, and I pulled them away just in time to bring in the next course: Mini Lentil Tacos and vegan Tempeh, Bean and Zucchini Chimichangas.

I’ve made this chimichanga recipe once before, but today I took the opportunity to change it up a little bit by adding a spicy drizzle of vegan Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce.  It was the perfect touch of creaminess with a bit of a kick! The tacos were a simple combination of some of my most favorite ingredients, topped with a fluffy vegan sour cream.

And just when everyone thought they couldn’t fit another bite, I tempted them with classic Fried Plantains, just warm enough to melt a scoop of vegan French Vanilla Ice Cream.

This was my first time to make fried plantains, so I went out on a limb a little bit.  Actually, let’s be honest…this was my first time to ever fry anything!  I gritted my teeth (and possibly even squealed a bit) when I plopped that first plantain down in the bubbling oil.  And I have to be honest, I was beginning to think I’d made a huge mistake.  But, when I took that first bite of the crispy outside and the gooey inside, all regrets melted faster than the ice cream on my tongue.  Bliss.

With full bellies and smiles on our faces, my guests and I spent the next couple of hours enjoying a slow Sunday afternoon…thankful for the simple things in life and good friends.

And now, as I place this last plate aside to dry, I glance at the clock, realizing how little time until my dinner party post is due, and I can’t help but think how thankful I am…

that Foodbuzz is on the west coast, giving this Oklahoman two extra hours to meet the deadline! ;)

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**I’ll be sharing some olé with you all as I post these recipes throughout the coming week!

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thank you

A stop at starbucks and we’re hitting the road! Back in Stillwater in t minus 10 hours. Hope you’re all having a restful and lovely weekend!

And thank you so much for all of your voted on my Project Food Blog entry – it’s all because of you that I’ll be moving on to round three! You guys are the best readers in the world and I’m so thankful for you:)

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