On March 9th I started a new Instagram account featuring photos of meals I’ve prepared and food enjoyed during my travels. With our world in crisis this account has connected me with chefs and foodies around the globe – and right now we can all use more connections. You can find me on Instagram at laurasprettyfood
I’m a fan of the sheet pan meal craze. It’s quick prep and easy cleanup while oven roasting gives ingredients enhanced flavor and texture.
Using ingredients I had in my pantry and fridge, I made a dish both colorful and satisfying. As I usually cook for one these days, I’m sharing ingredients, technique and cook time. Depending on how many you’re cooking for and if it’s a side or a meat free entree, fill up your sheet pan accordingly.
Sheet pan Gnocchi & Veggies
- jalapeño – sliced into rings
- cherry tomatoes
- white onion – cut into large wedges
- garlic cloves – smashed
- olive oil
- coarse grind black pepper
- toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine the gnocchi, jalapeño, tomatoes, onions and garlic cloves. Drizzle olive oil over bowl ingredients, then salt and pepper. Toss together to coat thoroughly and pour onto sheet pan in a single layer. Place pan in oven for 18-20 minutes until it’s sizzling. Top with pine nuts and serve.
Warmer weather is a few weeks away so watch for more sheet pan recipes. My herb garden and farmer’s markets will be my inspiration and I can’t wait to share my creations.
Mediterranean Veggies & Shells Salad
- 1 c uncooked medium pasta shells
- 1/2 c kidney beans
- 1/2 c garbanzo beans
- 1/2 c navy beans
- 1 c Haricots Verts (fresh or frozen)
- 1/4 c minced onion
- 1 c chopped bell peppers (I used yellow, orange & red)
- 1 small chopped jalapeño
- 1/2 c chopped celery
- 2 T capers
- 3-4 T chopped fresh herbs – I used parsley, cilantro & thyme
Boil pasta in 6 cups heavily salted water for twelve minutes. Place the Haricots Verts in a colander. When the pasta is cooked pour into the colander with the beans, draining the pasta while blanching the beans. Set aside to cool. Place the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the pasta and Haricots Verts to the bowl and combine. Pour the dressing (recipe below) over the mixture and stir to combine. Eat now or refrigerate for later.
- 3-4 T fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 c olive oil
- 2 t sugar
- 1 T dijon mustard
- 1/2 t garlic powder
- red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
I mixed this together in a Mason jar, shaking it vigorously before lightly dressing the salad.
Depending on what you have on hand, you could substitute ingredients for some of these:
- chopped carrots
- green olives
- basil, mint, oregano or chives
So go crazy and create your own combination- it’s all about having fun while making delicious, healthy food right?
On a recent trip to Nevada, my sister and I took a three day/two night girl’s trip which included a day spent in Death Valley. The weather was perfection with the sun adding warmth, color, light and shadows. It was a magical place and a dream to photograph. The photos below are my favorites.
When visiting the Smokies the food is a major part of the appeal. There are endless choices – I’m highlighting a few that I love.
My longtime favorite bbq spot, Smokin Joe’s in Townsend never disappoints. While I’ve had their brisket and ribs this time I ordered the pulled pork with fried okra and corn nuggets (fried cream corn). OMG.
A new find was Trailhead Steak and Trout House also in Townsend. I started with fried green tomatoes, a Caesar salad followed by their grilled trout that was perfectly prepared. While I neglected to photograph those meals (too hungry?) I did manage to capture the following:
Scenes from The Island in Pigeon Forge
Scenes from Wears Valley and the Smoky Mountains
While exploring one day I came upon the Waldens Creek Stables, now closed but still an interesting photo opportunity.
And another day comes to an end…
Driving the Cades Cove Loop you’ll find several churches with small cemeteries. It was early Sunday morning when I came upon them and I was able to hear parts of the sermons and hymns at each as I walked with reverence around the graveside pathways. It was peaceful and I was in awe of the history in this place.
The Dan Lawson Place, which was originally constructed in 1856, is a transitional piece of architecture – the home features both sawn lumber and hewn logs. In addition, the pioneer cabin featured a modern chimney made out of bricks.
Over the years, Lawson expanded both his land holdings and his residence. By the time of his death, the cabin had been expanded to have a large porch and an additional second story. The large, covered porch was used as a post office that Dan ran from his house.
I visited Cades Cove on three occasions this trip and my posts only provide a glimpse of the beauty. The peaceful meandering loop road connects you to nature. At any hour of the day you’re assured of unforgettable scenic views and often wildlife sightings making it a must-see when you’re visiting the Smoky Mountains.
Since my last visit in 2016, the Foothills Parkway was completed. The Wears Valley entrance was less than a mile from my cabin and I decided to check it out. I drove it several times during my stay; it’s scenic with many turnouts for taking pictures and little to no traffic.
”The Foothills Parkway is a national parkway which traverses the foothills of the northern Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee, located in the southeastern United States”. Wikipedia
A trip to the Smoky Mountains isn’t complete without driving the Cades Cove Loop. I drove it three times during the trip choosing daybreak, midday and late afternoon to experience the changing light and wildlife sightings. It’s a one-way 11 mile drive that progresses slowly as you savor the scenery, take photos and stop for animals.
I get a thrill seeing the black bears that are a beloved fixture in Tennessee. I’d been following several Facebook groups in the weeks before my trip with numerous posts of mother bears with multiple cubs. I’ve always had multiple bear sightings on past trips – my hopes were high. I saw one bear cub on my late morning drive. He scampered across the road in front of me and was gone before I could get a photo. He was my only bear on this trip but there’s always next time.