Final Day of Adventures at the Cooking Cottage {Day 3}

The final day at the Cooking Cottage started with a heart-pumping and adventurous workout sponsored by Snap Supercandy.

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Our trainer for the workout was Rob DeCillis, who works with Spartan Races. Rob is also a new dad. His wife actually had a baby the day before and he still drove an hour to train us. What a guy!

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Our hour-long workout started with a dynamic warm-up in the backyard. It also included some fun, animal-inspired moves (i.e. bear crawls, frog jumps), which are always a good time. Haha!

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Then, we headed to the woods to do some trail running, which included a number of sprinting intervals and plyometrics. We were constantly changing exercises, rep schemes, and intensity during this workout, so the variety kept me motivated and engaged the entire time.

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After the workout, we all quickly showered, got ready, and then enjoyed a coffee tasting and brunch, hosted by Starbucks.

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Each of the three brunch courses included a special coffee pairing to compliment the specific dish’s flavors. I love this concept. It’s such a near idea. I kind of want to host a tasting at my house with some friends. Wouldn’t that be fun?

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Anyway, onto the food!

First course: Asparagus Flan paired with Starbucks Reserve Jamaica Blue Mountain Amber. The asparagus flan was so, so, so good””fresh, flavorful, and nothing like I have ever tasted before. Someone asked for the recipe, but, unfortunately, the chef is keeping it a secret. The flan paired really well with the Jamaica Blue, and it definitely brought out some interesting flavors!

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Second course: Fall Vegetable Frittata Napoleon paired with Starbucks Reserve Sumatra Wahana Estate. Sumatra is one of my favorite coffees, so I was excited to try this one, and it was excellent. It was smooth, interesting, and delicious. The smell of freshly brewed Sumatra = heavenly.

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Third course: Nutella Crepes paired with Starbucks Reserve Panama Geisha Auromar. This was my favorite course of the meal. I mean, Nutella crepes with banana? C’mon, you can’t get much better than that! And the chef grilled (yes, grilled) the Nutella to enhance the flavor and give it a little crispiness inside the crepe. Incredible, right? And the Panama Geisha was really something special too. The flavors were so complex””it’s almost like they were layered. The initial taste was fruity and floral and then finished with a wonderful sweetness””all in one sip. It was pretty cool.

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After brunch, we switched gears and learned about Cooking Matters, an organization that provides adults, children, and teens with the skills, knowledge, and confidence needed to make healthy and affordable meals. If you haven’t already heard about Cooking Matters, they are an amazing organization.

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We met Megan Bradley, RD, who gave us a guided tour of the grocery store, which was similar to what Cooking Matters provides to families. During these tours, families are taught how to shop for affordable, healthy food, including how to read labels, compare prices, and store fruits and veggies at home.

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A few great tips from Megan that I found especially helpful:

  • Shop the produce at the front of the store””it’s typically the most affordable and in-season
  • If you have fresh produce that is about to spoil, such as berries or chopped peppers, use a sheet tray to freeze them, so you don’t have a big, frozen clump later on.
  • Even though a leaner meat is typically more expensive than a fattier one, you’ll lose more of it because so much of the fat cooks off. It’s also a healthier option!

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After the tour, the group participated in a “Ten Dollar Shopping Challenge” to show that it’s possible to cook a healthy dinner on a budget. I ended up selecting the ingredients for a Sweet Potato Hash made with sweet potatoes, ground turkey, spinach, and onion, which rang up around $9. (I look like such a soccer mom in this photo. Derp.)

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After everyone made their grocery selections, we shared our dinner ideas and then all of the food we purchased was donated to a local food pantry.

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Then, we all headed back to the cottage to cook lunch.

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Megan showed us how to make an easy peach salsa and gave us some great ideas for turkey tacos.

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She taught us how to make a homemade taco seasoning with just four spices and suggested mixing all kinds of grated veggies into ground meat for some added nutrients. Our turkey tacos had grated zucchini and carrots mixed into the meat, which added some nice color, flavor, and, of course, nutrients.

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We also made a Fruit Crisp for dessert. The recipe was so easy and works well with pretty much any kind of fruit. We used sliced banana and frozen blueberries, but apples, pears, peaches, and even grapes would work too.

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Lunch was delicious””make your own turkey tacos with all the fixings!

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And Blueberry-banana crisp with a cinnamon-honey yogurt. Mmm!

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After the Cooking Matters session, we all packed up our things and said goodbye. Even though I had just met the folks at the Cooking Cottage, it was actually a little sad saying goodbye.

Once I loaded up my car, I drove to the ferry, rode the ferry across the sound, and then drove to Providence where I am staying until Tomorrow afternoon for a media trip with CVS.

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What an amazing few days at the Cooking Cottage. I had such a wonderful time. Thank you, Cercone Brown, for inviting me to experience it!

Questions of the Day

Have you ever done an adventure race/mud run?

What’s your favorite Starbucks coffee/drink?

Have you ever heard of Cooking Matters?

55 Comments

  1. I did a Merrell Mud Run a few years ago and loved it. I felt like a little kid! I’m not sure if I’d feel the same way doing a more challenging race, but the mud run was fairly easy and a lot of fun until I had to climb the wall at the end! I am seriously lacking upper body strength.

  2. It looks like you all are having so much fun!

    I just did The Dirty Dash a couple weeks ago for the first time. It was intense, but SO much fun! I would totally do it again!

    Favorite Starbucks drink? There’s no way I could only give you just one answer… I love a Coffee Frap when I want something cold, and I love their Pumpkin Spiced Latte or their Cinnamon Dolce Latte when I want something hot. 🙂

  3. How cool that you got to do the tour! I’ll be leading one at the end of October for work. The participant brochure is really a great resource for the families. Hoping I can get a group of WIC parents together for it.

  4. This sounds like such an amazing experience! My favorite Starbucks coffee is Cafe Verona – in fact I just bought a package of their k-cups to see if it’ll taste as good in my Keurig. Fingers crossed! I’d never heard of Cooking Matters before but it sounds like an awesome organization. It’s such a common misperception that it’s expensive to eat healthfully, but I love that it really doesn’t have to be.

  5. I did the Warrior Dash a few years ago and have to admit it was fun yet challenging – what more could you want!
    Looks like such a great little trip – beautiful scenery, workouts, and delicious food. Success!

  6. I did one Mud run with my daughter last year, The Hero’s Mud Run and it was a lot of fun.
    My favorite Starbucks drink is a chia latte.
    I never heard of Cooking Matters, it sounds like you had a great few days.

  7. Everything looks great! I love all the different events and sessions you were able to attend. All of them seem so informative and interesting, filled with great ideas. Looking forward to reading about your next trip!

  8. I’m in love with the Starbucks Blonde roast. Maybe because I am secretly 12 years old and find it hilarious to order a “tall blonde”.

    Cooking Matters sounds like such a great organization! I love the $10 challenge you did. I complain a lot about food price, but that’s because I’m spoiled and like the pricey stuff 🙂

  9. We have a local mud run called the Big Nasty. My husband and I ran as a team last year. It was fun to do with him even though I panicked at the 20 ft wall climb. He was able to talk me over it though 🙂

  10. My church works in partnership with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to provide Cooking Matters classes to folks in need, and I lead grocery store tours and assist with the cooking classes. It’s an awesome program! I have made the turkey tacos and fruit crisp.

  11. Hey Tina!! The trip looks great, but I am wondering how your stomach took all the coffee? I have a bad stomach and know if I have any coffee, besides decaf, i am doubled over in pain.

  12. What a great experience! I love how the food everyone purchased was donated to a food pantry.

    I like the chocolate chai tea latte at Starbucks. Nonfat & no whip, of course. 😉 Since I don’t drink coffee, I love how they have a lot of options for tea.

  13. I googled Asparagus Flan and there are several recipes that come up. The one from Emeril looks fantastic and it seems to me that you could substitue some healthier ingredients for the higher fat ones he listed.

  14. Looks like you had a ton of fun!

    I did a mud run last April and it was a lot of fun. I may do another one someday.

    Favorite Starbucks drinks are Strawberries & Creme frapp and my holiday favorite Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. I wish that drink was around all year long. I’ve been told I need to try the Pumpkin Spice Latte so that’s on my list of fall items to try out.

  15. I participated in the Civilian Military Columbine in MA earlier this year.
    The first part of the Columbine incorporated Crossfit, the rest was mostly mud, water and hills. It was quite the challenge but well worth it.

  16. I’ve done 2 Spartan Races and have 4 scheduled for next year. They’re a lot of fun! The coolest thing about them is you can make them competitive if you want or you can just enjoy the race, the mud and the obstacles while going at your own pace. My favorite Starbucks coffee is the Thanksgiving Day Blend. It’s so good and really reminds me of fall. I’ve never heard of the Cooking Matters before your posts, looks like a lot of fun though! Thanks for sharing!

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