Monthly Archives: May 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Pre-wedding Moon

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BVI 2011

Okay, so I know a pre-wedding moon isn’t actually a thing. But, we made it up so at least in this household it is. I’m beyond excited to leave on our pre-wedding moon Wednesday! As you may or may  not know, the nature of Robert’s job means that he works crazy hours between January through the end of April including most weekends. BUT, I get my guy back in May when he returns to a more human-like schedule.

Last year we celebrated by taking the most incredible trip to Paris and the Loire Valley. We still talk about that trip all.the.time. This year with everything we have going on and lots of travels for other weddings we’re taking a more low key vacay to Cabo!!

If all goes according to plan, by 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning (someone please remind me why we booked such an early flight?) we’ll be well on our way to Mexico (oh right, it was so we could be sitting by the ocean with a drink in hand by about 2 p.m.)

In general, we’re  the type of people who enjoy going places where we can see and do lots of things–as anyone who has ever received a Robert itinerary knows. But to be perfectly honest, we’re looking forward to five whole days of doing as much nothing as possible. I want to sleep in, eat leisurely meals, sit in the sun slathered with SPF, sip fruity cocktails, read a book or two, and just hang out with my guy. It’s also my first non-working vacation in a loooooong time. Ever since a sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands two years ago forced me to leave work behind (uh, laptop on a boat = bad idea) I learned just how crucial it is to take time away from work (and e-mail…and social media). I had never felt so relaxed in my entire life and I can’t wait to recapture that feeling again.

I hope you all have a fabulous week! I promise I’ll consume plenty of chips, guac, and margaritas for you! Adios!

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What’s Cookin’?

Hello there! I’m so excited to bring you another round of What’s Cookin’ today with three tasty recipes. If you’re new to What’s Cookin’, it’s a round-up of some recipes I’ve recently made and loved with very few, if any, changes to the original. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Lemon Blueberry Bread via PBS Fresh Tastes Blog 

Lemon Blueberry Bread

Lemon Blueberry Bread

I am a sucker for lemony things. I just love the bright, tangy flavor. So when I saw this recipe I knew it was only a matter of time before it happened in my kitchen (now that blueberries are easy to find). Happily, that time arrived this weekend and it was just as good as I had hoped it would be. I increased the zest to 3 tsp rather than the recommended 2 tsp. I highly recommend doing the same, but if you’re making this for someone who’s not as crazy about citrus 1 or 2 tsp will do. It tastes like a giant muffin and the center stays super soft. Add a smear of room temperature butter and all is right in the world.

Red Pepper Pasta with Mushrooms and Spinach via What’s Gaby Cooking

Red Pepper Pasta with Mushrooms & Spinach

Red Pepper Pasta with Mushrooms & Spinach

Weeknight pasta dishes don’t get much easier than this: Boil some whole wheat fettuccine; saute mushrooms and spinach; blend jarred roasted red peppers and garlic. Combine everything together and dinner is served. The sauce develops a creaminess–at times it even reminded me of vodka sauce–yet there’s not a single drop of cream (or any dairy for that matter) in the whole thing. I also love the fact that you make the sauce yourself so you can totally control the amount of sodium that you put in. It’s a vegetarian recipe, but you could easily add some sauteed chicken breast to up the protein content.

Salmon with Sriracha Sauce and Lime via SELF magazine 

Sriracha Salmon

Salmon with Sriracha Sauce and Lime

I have a saying in life: If it’s good enjoy for Gwyneth it’s good enough for me. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but I pretty much knew this recipe–from Gwyneth’s new cookbook It’s All Good–would be a winner before I even made it. We eat salmon nearly every Monday night and I’m so happy to have another option in the mix that we love so much. Another reason this dish rocks: It only has five ingredients (six if you count cilantro) and half of them–maple syrup, sriracha, and sea salt–you may already have in your home. I served it with some brown rice and broccoli for a deliciously easy meal.

Wedding Wednesday: DIY Chalkboard Frames

It’s been a while, but I’m back with another round of Wedding Wednesday! I’m so excited to share with you my first ever DIY project: Chalkboard frames!

DIY Chalkboard frames.*

DIY Chalkboard frames.*

I don’t know what it is about chalkboard frames, but every time I see them my heart does a little flutter. We’ll be able to use the chalkboard frames in some places we’d otherwise use paper. Once I got the idea to make them, a few Internet searches helped me realize just how simple this project would be. (And I’ve never DIY’d anything before besides food.)

So, last week I stocked up on supplies:

  • Four inexpensive white frames from Michael’s (I went with white because we can either leave them as-is or they’d be easy to paint if we decide to add some color.)
  • Primer, chalkboard paint, a foam brush, and a roller brush from Home Depot
Primer and paint that I used

Primer and paint that I used

Sunday morning in a slight wine-induced haze (thanks to a super fun dinner party Saturday night with some of my girlfriends) I got to work. Here’s how it all went down:

1. Line your work surface with newspaper.

2. Remove glass from wood frames.

3. Using a foam brush, paint one side of the glass with a coat of primer. (The paint lady at Home Depot suggested I use  gray primer since the chalkboard paint is dark. Since I know nothing about painting/crafting I listened to her, but my research shows you’d be fine with white primer, too.)

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One coat of primer 

4. Once the primer dries (in an hour or two) paint on the first coat of chalkboard paint using a roller brush. Once that’s dry (another hour or two) paint on a second coat.

Two coats of chalkboard paint!

Two coats of chalkboard paint

5. Once the chalkboard paint dries, run a side of chalk over the surface. I can’t exactly explain why this is important to do, but every tutorial I read recommends it as a way to “prime” the chalkboard. I figure it can’t hurt : )

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6. Wipe off the chalk, place glass back in frame with the chalkboard facing out.

Voila!

Voila!

I recently learned about chalkboard markers, which write like ink, but still look chalkboard-like. I can’t wait to get my hands on some! This means we won’t have to deal with that dusty chalky mess and can write more cleanly, but we’ll still get that classic chalkboard effect I love so much. Since this project came out so well and was so easy to pull off we’re thinking about mayyyyyybe using these types of DIY chalkboard frames (but bigger) for items like our seating chart or even our menu.

Stay tuned for more DIY projects for our Big Day. It’s a safe bet at least one will include food : )

*As of today it’s only 136 days to go!

Roasted Coconut Granola

Toasted Coconut Granola via ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Breakfast of champions!

I have always loved granola (sweet clusters of goodness, what’s not to love?), but this recipe has taken things to a whole new level. Obsessed may be more like it.

Last week Robert and I flew to the east coat to celebrate my PopPop’s 85th birthday in Ocean City, Maryland where Robert met a few dozen family members for the first time. It was so fun and so special. (I think I owe him a diagram so he can see how everyone’s related!) We then spent a few days in New York City with my family and I even had a chance to show him around my hometown on Long Island. While staying with my parents, I finally got to try the homemade granola my mom’s been raving about for a while now. And she was right – it was insane! The best way I can describe it is light, crunchy, with just the right amount of sweetness. I didn’t realize it until I tried her’s, but so many times granola can feel heavy. Not this stuff! The batch my mom made had dried blueberries as well as chopped almonds and walnuts.

When I got back to Chicago I knew I had to make a batch of my own ASAP. When I looked at the recipe I realized  I could use coconut oil instead of olive oil. I hadn’t used coconut oil since I made this recipe so I figured it was a great opportunity to see what else it could do. I also found these roasted coconut chips at Trader Joe’s, which provided the perfect crunchy addition.

photo-5You could easily add some dried fruit, too, but my favorite way to eat granola is over plain non-fat greek yogurt with fresh sliced strawberries. Yum!

One thing to note when you make this recipe is that it has an egg white in it. The point of the egg white is to create little clusters of granola–you can clearly see did not happen in my batch. Of course, I had to consult my mom and she pointed out that you’re supposed to whip the egg white (included in the instructions below) with a whisk until slightly frothy. I just gave it a few turns with a fork, which is why it didn’t actually accomplish this clustery job. Next time I make this recipe I’ll be sure to show you what it looks like when you whip it whip it good...

Roasted Coconut Granola 

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups chopped raw pecans

2 oz roasted coconut chips

1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave or honey)

1/4 cup warmed coconut oil

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 egg white, beaten with a whisky until slightly frothy

Preparation 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Pour onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake about 50 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking. Let cook on baking sheet.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit 

Red Pepper, Potato & Spinach Frittata

Frittata with red peppers & spinach

Red Pepper, Spinach & Potato Frittata 

I have this thing about eggs. And by “this thing” I mean I’m not very good at cooking them. Sad, but true. So I was a little skeptical when I set out to attempt a frittata which includes eight–count them–eight whole eggs. Still, I was determined and it couldn’t have been any easier or tastier! Plus, who doesn’t love a one pot, er, skillet meal? I’ve made this recipe both with a potato and without and it was awesome both times. I also added a bag of raw spinach as a great way to sneak in some healthy and colorful greens. The secret to that golden color on top? When it’s done cooking, place the skillet under your broiler for about two minutes. Voila!

The frittata is hearty enough to serve as dinner (yes, even for the person in your life who claims he or she doesn’t like breakfast for dinner….don’t listen to them and just make it, they’ll love it). It also makes filling leftovers for lunch and is super easy to whip up for a crowd for brunch.

My favorite way to eat it: Served alongside a big pile of mashed avocado or guac!

Red Pepper, Potato & Spinach Frittata 

Serves 4

Ingredients

Olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, stems, ribs, and seeds removed, sliced into very thin strips

1 russet potato, peeled and cut into thin round slices

Salt & pepper

1 bag baby spinach

8 large eggs

1 Tbsp Sriracha (optional)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400. Heat some olive oil in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers soften, about 3 minutes. Add spinach. Saute until wilted. Remove onion, pepper, and spinach to a bowl and set aside.

Add a little more olive oil to skillet. Add potatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are lightly browed, about 10 minutes. Transfer potatoes to bowl with onion mixture and toss to combine. Return mixture to skillet, flatten so it’s evenly spread across the bottom.

In a bowl, beat eggs and season with some salt and pepper. Add Sriracha and beat to combine. Pour eggs over potato mixture, tilting skillet to distribute evenly. Bake in oven about 15 to 20 minutes until set. When finished cooking, remove skillet from oven. Move the top rack to the highest location and turn on the broiler. Place skillet under broiler for about 2 minutes until the top turns golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve.