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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Things We Love: Lolling Reunions

Rachel and Bryan came up to visit us this weekend, and it was so fun! We actually hadn’t seen each other since my wedding last August, so it was LONG overdue.

The weekend involved lots of eating, drinking, and hanging out, and I’m sure we’ll be posting more soon. Here are a few pictures of how things tend to be with us:

Rachel (L) and I (R)

Thing start out normal…

get off track…

and wind up somewhere like this.

Oh well.

Of course, we’re not completely alone in this.

My Josh (L) and Bryan (mustache)

We can’t leave out our favorite guys. They help foster the crazy.

It’s so refreshing to spend the weekend with great friends.

Seriously can’t wait til next time!



Garden Grows: Chapter 4

Fenced in

We got a fence! And by got, I mean my awesome husband built one. Just wooden stakes and chicken wire, about 3-4 feet tall. Should be enough to keep the bunnies out of the vegetables. That and the marigolds.

snow peas

Our snow peas are doing fantastic! They’ll start climbing up the strings soon.

summer squash

Our summer squash suddenly sprouted up.

green beans

The green beans magically appeared. I might have done a happy dance.

The lettuce and broccoli have teeny tiny sprouts too, but they’re not too exciting yet, annnnnnd… I can’t remember which is which. My bad.

Everything else is just slowly doing well. Can’t wait to see what it’s like in another week or two!

Weekend Update: Saturday Morning

Saturday mornings are our special time. We sleep in, cook a big breakfast, and hang out before Josh goes to work (boo).

One of our favorite easy breakfasts is egg in a hole. I grew up eating it. It was one of the few things my dad ever cooked, and I learned how to very young. When Josh and I started dating, I introduced him to it, and he has grown to love it just like I do.

This morning I decided to mix it up little. I cooked them up the usual way (PW has a good “recipe” for them here), and instead of just serving them as is, I added sliced avocado, a few dashes of hot sauce, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Make sure you leave the yolk runny, and enjoy!

Foodie Friday: Grown Up Muffins

As part of our quest to stop wasting money in a million little ways, we’ve decided to start making premade breakfast items. The past year, I’ve eaten a LARA bar pretty much every day, and I’m getting a little sick of them. Josh can’t even eat them due to all of the nuts, so he’s been buying breakfast at Panera or Starbucks most days. Since we’d really love to get me out of my horrible old car within the next six months, we’ve implemented a budget (sigh), and spending so much on breakfast isn’t really good for that.

Muffins are always a good option for things like this. You can make them ahead of time, and just grab one as you run out the door. I’m always running out the door in the mornings. However, I really didn’t want it to be a super sugary junk food of a muffin. I wanted something hearty, something that would be tasty and filling and give us a great start to the day.

These muffins totally fit!

Obviously, some of the ingredients I had to switch out (no nuts, so double the dried fruit. Need to find another way to work in some protein). They’re super dense and really good, a great recipe to use as a base for a variety of fruits.

Grown Up Muffins (recipe here)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups sugar (1/3 brown, 1/3 white)
  • 1/4 pound carrots (about 2/2.5 cups, coarsely shredded)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease/line 18 muffin cups.

In a large bowl, sift together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk in the sugars. Add the carrots, pecans, and dried fruits to the flour mixture and mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla. Add the shredded apple and mix well. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake for 15-25 minutes. I let mine go to 20, and probably should have taken them out at 18. Live and learn.

Store in an airtight container for 5 days, or freeze some.

Four Years Ago

Four years ago on this day… I got married.

We look so young!

We had the most amazing food, this is our chef.

Best. Day. Ever.

Favorite Smells

Last night I was cooking dinner (chicken curry) and as my house filled up with the luscious smell of curry I started thinking about my favorite smells. Allyn said this wasn’t too weird to post about, so here goes….

1) Bacon. No need to discuss this further.

2) Curry. I love the smell of curry. This may be one of those personal preference things, but there is something about the smell of it that makes me start salivating. I could eat curry every single day of the year.

3) Lemon garlic rosemary butter sauce. I make it to dip artichoke in or pour over pre-made ravioli. The mixture of the freshness of lemon, the tartness of garlic, and the woodiness of the rosemary is amazing. And yes, there is something floating around Pinterest about heating water with lemon, rosemary, and vanilla. And no, it does not smell as good as when you have garlic and butter in it.

4) Chicken stock simmering on the stove. I swear realtors should start simmering chicken bones in  pot of a house they want to sell. Nothing is as comforting as chicken soup when you are sick. Get that feeling anytime by making your own chicken stock.

5) Allyn’s Bolognese sauce. Have you made it yet? Amazing.

6) Lilies. My favorite flower.

7) Fresh basil. I just planted 6 pots worth of basil and am worried it’s not going to be enough.

8) Honeysuckle. True story: a few weeks ago I was at my grandparents house for a family birthday party. My brother and I spotted what we thought was honeysuckle growing over a fence. We ran to start tasting. Sadly it was not honeysuckle.

9) Old Spice. Allyn said her husband, but I’m just going to broaden it out to Old Spice. I love the smell of Old Spice, even before their clever marketing campaigns.

What is your favorite smell? Does anyone else still suck honeysuckle?

Garden Grows: Chapter 3

One of my little strawberry babies

Cilantro in the front bed, where I can baby it a little

The full front bed. Lilies, yarrow, loropetalum, and cilantro

Cherry tomatoes

The beautiful back garden

The rest of the back garden

Sweet marigolds


After close to 6 hours working in the yard this weekend, my knees are bruised, my back is sunburned, and victory is mine! Everything that needs to be planted is in (minus some lavender seeds I need to start inside), and now I can sit back and hope that it all grows.

Things that I planted:

  • Cilantro
  • Strawberries
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Lots of marigolds (to keep the bugs away)
  • Green onions
  • Snow peas (planted previously)
  • Acorn squash
  • Chili peppers
  • Bell peppers
  • Summer squash
  • Basil
  • Tomatoes
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce

Fingers crossed!


Foodie Friday: Curried Chicken Salad

We love curry. A lot. In fact, Josh’s favorite comfort meal that I make for him is full of curry, so I decided to work some into our lunch rotation.

I used the Barefoot Contessa’s Curried Chicken Salad as my starting point, then adjusted a lot of the add-ins to suit our tastes and my weird dislike of random things (celery and raisins? No thank you) and Josh’s nut allergy (cashews are a big deal breaker).

I packaged it into serving sized containers for us, then had both pita bread and lettuce cups as choices to take along. The winner, hands down? The lettuce cups. While we agreed that the pita made it more filling, the lettuce cups just added a really nice brightness and crunch to it. Lesson learned.

Curried Chicken Salad

  • 2 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on 
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (Get the good stuff. I used Hellman’s)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup mango jam/jelly (you could use a chutney, but my store didn’t have any)
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups red grapes, quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degress. Drizzle chicken with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 35-40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Combine mayonnaise, white wine, mango jam, and curry powder in food processor until well mixed and smooth. Prep your apple and grapes. 

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and put in a bowl with the apple and grapes. Pour about half of the dressing in and stire well. Keep adding until it reaches desired consistency. Let it sit in the fridge for at least a few hours for the flavors to really combine. It gets better every day.

Serve with lettuce wraps.

Wasted Wednesday: Coconut Lime Ginger Cocktail

So I tried a new drink recipe last night, thinking that it would be a liquid version of that heavenly coconut lime verbena lotion that always makes me think of the beach.

The recipe comes from eat make read and the jury is still out on how I feel about it.

In complete fairness, I didn’t have the light rum the recipe calls for, so I used dark rum instead, resulting in a somewhat less pleasing appearance. I’m not sure how much this would change the taste. It does pack quite the punch, which I consider a very good thing. I do think I’ll make it again, especially since we already have ginger syrup in the fridge, because we’re special like that. You know how we love a good infused syrup!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 oz ginger syrup (recipe below)
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1.5 oz unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1.5 oz light rum

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for about 10 seconds until well chilled, then pour into a glass. I strained mine, since my coconut milk had a few tiny lumps, but that might not be necessary. Enjoy!

Ginger Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan on high until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain out the ginger and let cool. Keep in fridge.


Foodie Friday: Spring Green Orzo

The great lunch challenge has been a success so far (with one minor misstep), and we’re learning what we like as we go. We’ve found that our favorite lunches, the ones that even at the end of the week we’re still excited to eat, have been orzo salads with citrus based dressing. This is great for many reasons, one of which being that it’s really easy to fill them with a lot of vegetables, and no meat. Now, we seriously love meat, BUT we don’t need to eat as much as we do, so making tasty and filling lunches without them gets us at least 5  more meals a week each that are meatless. Not too shabby.

This salad is perfect, full of different textures and flavors. I grilled the asparagus on a grill pan for some nice subtle smokiness, but sauteeing it in a skillet would be fine.
I really meant to take a picture of this, but I was too hungry.

Spring Green Orzo

  • 1 pound orzo
  • 1 good sized bunch asparagus spears
  • 8 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 cup frozen peas


  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo to al dente in well salted water. Drain, drizzle liberally with olive oil, and spread out on a sheet pan to cool (I typically try to stir mine around every 5-10 minutes or so, otherwise it gets a little clumpy).

While the orzo is cooling, pour the frozen peas into a bowl of warm water, and set aside to thaw.

Trim the tought ends off of your asparagus. Heat your grill pan ( a cast iron skillet would work too) and then cook your aspargus in batches. You want it in a single layer so you can get some nice scorch marks. Cook to your texture preference, rotating spears often. I think I did about 5 minutes a batch, so it still had a little crunch. Remove from pan and cut into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. You could use a flavored oil here (I had some lemon olive oil), but it’s really not necessary. Saute your spinach until wilted. Remove from pan with tongs or a slotted spoon to let the water drain out. Set aside.

Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor and blitz thoroughly. Taste, and add enough salt that it becomes a little saltier than you would normally have it. This is the only seasoning for the pasta and vegetables, so the salt is key.

Combine the cooled pasta and vegetables in a big bowl and pour about 2/3 of the dressing on. Mix thoroughly, and then taste. Add more dressing if desired.