Oct 22
Expected to pop…9 Comments

Tap, tap…is this thing on? Is anyone still here? Well, the cat is now out of the bag, Blair and I will be welcoming our first child in April of next year! We are beyond excited that I am baking up something pretty special. It has been a long journey for us and I may just get comfortable enough to share our experience with you, after two losses and finding an incredible doctor, we are happy to be welcoming our little miracle. My daily prayers now include all of you women suffering from infertility and loss.

When I first started the blog, I thought that I would be one of those bloggers who was able to do it all when I was expecting, boy was I wrong. The first trimester kicked my butt, I had heard about the morning all day sickness, but honestly it made me feel like the biggest wimp. I was unfortunately one of those women who needed to run to the bathroom first thing in the morning to get sick, I also had nights where I couldn’t eat anything much and would get sick again. Carbs were my best friend and take out had been a God send, there was easily one week where the Wendy’s lady knew my order immediately.

Slowly,  I am starting feeling like my old self and even have been back in the kitchen cooking meals. I am still waiting on the incredible energy that the second trimester brings, but I am happy to be hungry and not nauseous anymore. As much as I would love to resume normal blogging, I think I need to ease myself back into things. I have been noticing that my priorities have been shifting a bit, and I would like to think I could also use this space to document pieces of my pregnancy, we will see what happens. As for now, I apologize for disappearing like that, but I think I have a pretty good excuse ;) . Like I said, I am excited to begin this transition from dainty chef to dainty mom.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Aug 26
Rainbow Cupcakes for Jessica’s Pot of Gold Virtual Baby Shower8 Comments

It’s amazing how the Internet has changed the way we communicate.  The food blogging world has introduced me to so many new people and I am happy to call some of them my friends. Even if we are not physically near and have never met in real life, we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders whether we have good or bad news to share.

Today we are meeting for a very happy occasion, Jessica from Sunny Side Up’s virtual baby shower to welcome her baby girl into the world! She just so happens to be due on September 4th, which also happens to be my birthday as well! Since Jessica has grown up dancing and teaching Irish dance, and now is naming her sweet baby girl Maeve Grace, our hostesses Krystal of Mrs. Regueiro’s Plate and Jessica from My Baking Heart decided to pick the theme “Jessica’s Pot of Gold.” We were all asked to contribute a dish inspired by the wonderful land of Ireland.

Make sure you check out Jessica, Krystal, and Jessica’s blog for the full round-up of posts.

I had a hard time coming up with the perfect idea for this shower. For the longest time, I have wanted to challenge myself and make a rainbow cake. This would have been the perfect occasion!  The time I was making this treat also fell around Blair’s birthday and a wedding that we were attending so I couldn’t justify making another cake. Blair’s choice is always Funfetti, so I went with cupcakes instead. And to make it an added bonus, I used a recipe for just two cupcakes. One for me and one for me Blair, just kidding. I have been smitten with the idea of recipes that just yield two cupcakes. I have made chocolate and pumpkin spice in the past.

I absolutely loved how these came out, and hope that Jessica enjoys them too. Maybe she will whip these up for her husband, Jesse before they become a family of three. I won’t be able to help you out in the cupcake department once baby girl is able to eat sweets. You better take advantage now. Congrats Jessica, I can’t wait to meet Maeve Grace!

Rainbow Cupcakes for Two

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon skim milk
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
food coloring (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
For the Frosting:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place two cupcake liners in the center of a cupcake pan and spray lightly with cooking spray. In a small bowl, beat together the oil, egg, milk, vanilla, and sugar until well combined. Add in the flour and baking powder, stir until fully incorporated.

Divide the batter into 6 small cups (one for each color), 2 teaspoons in each cup.  Add the food coloring to each separate bowl, stir until you get your desired color. Begin with the red, divide the batter evenly between the two liners, 1 tsp. per cupcake. Make sure you place it into the center of the cupcake. Repeat with the remaining colors (orange, yellow, green, blue, purple), each color will spread into a thin circle before you add the next to the center.  Bake the cupcakes for about 12-15 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are done, allow them to cool completely. In the meantime, make the frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, beat until you get a nice smooth consistency. Decorate the cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

*There will be leftover frosting, it is pretty delicious to eat from the spoon, just saying.

Source: Chocolate and Carrots

Posted in dessert, quick and easy |

Aug 14
I’m lovin’ it: Summer edition1 Comment

We have had an awesome summer so far, but I am really looking forward to the fall. I am not really all that excited about the new school year yet, but rather the fashion, the weather, the apples, and fire pit nights. Here are some things that I discovered over the course of the summer. One thing that will be missing from the list is my recent obsession with Jersey tomatoes and peaches. Last week our menu consisted mainly of recipes with tomatoes.Peaches have been a daily snack of mine with some cheddar cheese, a heavenly combination. I will be sad to see the peaches go, but I will definitely be enjoying those tomatoes until the bitter end!

Ever since my Zumba instructor stopped classes, I have been slacking in the workout department. I had tried a Pure Barre class awhile back with my sister, but we had just purchased our house and it was not in the budget at the time. They recently opened a new studio in the town next to mine, so I have been going and I am now hooked.   It is very low impact which could be a bonus in the future, but man is it a workout! The only drawback is that it is really expensive, I am hoping they offer a fall special so I can continue it!

Blair and I are caught up on all of our favorite TV shows so we needed to find some new ones to entertain ourselves on weeknights. We started watching House of Cards, we just finished season 1 and now I need a new show to watch since we are all caught up. It is scandalous and I really hope that this is not really what goes on in politics.

A show that I have been watching by myself has been the new ABC drama, Mistresses. It randomly came on after The Bachelorette and I found myself immediately addicted. Call it a guilty pleasure. And it is not nearly as trashy as I thought it was going to be, ha!

I mentioned that I am excited for Fall fashion so of course I have done a little shopping. My very first purchase were these flats on a trip to Target. Somehow I always manage to pick up some type of clothing or accessory while I am there. These are a little out of my comfort zone, but I am excited for the cooler weather to start wearing them. Just a small note, they seemed to run a little big so definitely go down a size.

Speaking of fashion, have you heard of Stitch Fix yet? I am obsessed, even though I have received only one “fix” so far. I heard about it on so many blogs that I finally signed up! There is a waiting period, but I have a referral link if anyone is interested! The gist is that you create a style profile and a stylist will send you 5 items based off your profile. It is sent to you,  play dress-up you try everything on, keep anything you like, and send the rest back. There is more information on their site.  I am currently waiting on my second fix to arrive and I am so excited!!

Sara Bareilles is one of my absolute favorites. I have been listening to her new album, The Blessed Unrest, on repeat.

And finally, Songza. My friend Amanda told me about this and I have been using it constantly. When I am not listening to the above, I have been streaming this both on my computer and on my phone. I love that there is no thinking involved, you choose your activity, your mood, and it generates a playlist for you. It would be great for entertaining purposes as well.

Posted in personal | Tagged |

Aug 12
Cherry MargaritasLeave a comment

I have been sitting on this margarita recipe for the last few weeks and I apologize for that. Since cherries will soon disappear from the markets and grocery stores, I needed to share this with you ASAP. Cherry has been one of my favorite flavors since my childhood. When offered any type of candy, popsicle, juice, etc. I would naturally choose the cherry flavor, but it wasn’t until this last summer that I tried an actual cherry. Mind-blowing, I know. The reason most likely being those pits and where to put them. Cherries seem to be the perfect beach or picnic snack because it tends to be a lot easier to dispose of the pits in those places.

When we got a bounty of beautiful cherries in our CSA and fish tacos were on the menu, I knew that these margaritas would be the perfect way to get our meal started. And boy was I right. Even though I don’t own a cherry pitter, these margaritas came together fairly quickly. The only thing was my hands were pretty much stained red after I pitted all of the cherries, it was well worth it. I will definitely be squeezing a few more of these in before cherries are gone for good.

 

Cherry Margaritas

Ingredients

For the homemade margarita mix:
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
For the margarita:
Homemade margarita mix (above)
24 cherries
3 oz tequila
2 oz orange liqueur

Instructions

Make your simple syrup, by combining the water and sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat, warm until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the lime juice and pour into a blender. Pit your cherries and add them to the lime/sugar mixture. Add your tequila and orange liqueur, blend for 20-30 seconds until the cherries are no longer whole. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a small pitcher. Using a spoon or spatula, stir to get as much liquid out of the mixture as possible. Pour the margarita over a glass of ice.

Source: Confections of a Foodies Bride

Posted in quick and easy | Tagged |

Aug 07
August 2013: I Heart Faces “Jump” ContestLeave a comment

Submitting this image to the “jump” contest for my mom and sister, Laura. She’s got way more flexibility than I ever will.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Aug 02
Grilled Caprese Pizzas2 Comments

Hello, readers, are you still out there? Long time, no blog. We’ve got to stop meeting like this. I can’t quite put my finger on why I haven’t had any motivation to blog. Maybe it is the lack of routine in my life, a little bit of writer’s block, and a lot of trying to get that perfect shot that I am proud of. I can’t promise that next week I will be back in the swing of things, but I plan to make a little more of an effort since my readers family is wondering where I have been. For now, I am soaking up everything that summer has to offer. Like tomatoes. I am crushing on them big time right now. And if tomatoes on their own couldn’t be wonderful, try roasting them, it takes them to a whole new level.

Last summer, we fell in love with these Grilled Naan Pizzas, they are a quick and easy meal that we also enjoyed throughout the winter on our pizza stone. They are also versatile and you can easily please all your family members by having them choose various toppings they enjoy on their pizzas. When I saw the idea for just grilling the naan first and then doing a Caprese topping, I was sold. I wanted to elevate the flavors just a bit and that is why I decided on roasting the tomatoes. With every bite of this pizza, I wanted more and more of it. I was extremely disappointed when it was all gone and I was sad that I had made only two. For some reason, I thought that roasted tomatoes were gross, but man have I been missing out. Two of our meals next week include them, you can say that I am borderline obsessed. Hurry and make this before the summer nights are gone!

Caprese Pizzas with Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients:
4 cups grape tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 naan breads
olive oil mister or cooking spray
cubed mozzarella
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

 

What you’ll do:

For the roasted tomatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl add the grape tomatoes and 3 garlic cloves. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a baking dish or on a roasting pan, place the tomatoes and garlic cloves, ensuring they are in on thin  layer. Roast for 20 minutes, give them a good stir. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of hot water, if the tomatoes seen too dry. Return to the oven and cook for 20 minutes more.

For the pizzas:

Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the vinegar becomes syrupy and has reduced to about a tablespoon, about 8-10 minutes.

Heat a grill pan or grill over medium-high heat. Coat both sides of one naan with olive oil or cooking spray. Cook on each side until just beginning to get grill marks, about 2-3 minutes. Repeat with remaining naan. Top each naan with roasted tomatoes, cheese, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with prepared balsamic reduction.

Source: Roasted tomatoes from Claire Robinson, Pizzas from Oh My Veggies

Posted in main dish, quick and easy |

Jul 15
4 ingredient marinade7 Comments

Simple. That is usually my motto when it comes to dinner time in the summer. Hassle-free is another one that comes to mind. This marinade meets both of these requirements. I want to spend just a little bit longer lounging at the pool or reading my book. (Not that I have been doing either of those things lately since the weather here has been rainy. I swear it has rained every day since school has let out, and at this point that has been a long time. Alright, my little tangent is over.) I want to be able to have dinner ready in no time so I can enjoy what summer is all about.  I am sure you feel the exact same way.

This marinade consists of 4 simple ingredients that I can almost guarantee that you already have in your home. I love the fact that the only thing I had to buy was the chicken itself. The recipe didn’t specify what type of vinegar to use, I ended up using rice vinegar because I thought that would complement the soy sauce nicely. The end result is a sticky, sugary chicken that is juicy and delicious. I was a little upset about marinating and only grilling two chicken breasts since it would have been a great topper to salads throughout the week. The recipe below doesn’t specify how long to cook your chicken since that will depend on the thickness of your chicken you use. And honestly, Blair is the one that takes care of the grilling anyway, some day I will have him share his secrets. Enjoy the simplicity of this dish, I am sure it will become a family and mommy favorite!

4 Ingredient Chicken Marinade

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar (I used Rice vinegar)

What you’ll do:

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, whisking to make sure there are no lumps from the brown sugar. Soak chicken in marinade for 6-8 hours. Heat grill to medium-high heat and grill until chicken is no longer pink.

Source: No Biggie

Posted in chicken, main dish, quick and easy |

Jul 12
Blueberry Crumb Bars1 Comment

We are surrounded by delicious blueberries here in NJ. As I have mentioned before, I love blueberries when they are baked into things, but have never been a fan of them on their own. These crumb bars are the perfect summer dessert for your next family gathering or BBQ. There is not a lot of fuss involved with them, and the best part that you can easily swap out the blueberries for your favorite other berry. They are adaptable in that way.

The recipe starts with a dough similar to pie dough with some added flavor thanks to the lemon zest. The blueberries get coated in lemon juice and some sugar to add to their sweetness. We all know my love for lemon + blueberry, they really are a match made in heaven. You can serve these bars warm or cold depending on your preference, I liked them better warmed up a little with some vanilla ice cream on top because ice cream makes everything better! I think next time I might even consider swapping out half of the white sugar for some brown sugar which would add some nice flavor, darn I guess that means I need to match anything batch soon ;) .

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces), cut into chunks
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Add in salt and lemon zest; mix. Using a fork or pastry cutter blend in the butter, vanilla, and egg. Dough will be crumbly, that is the consistency you want. Pack half of the dough into an even layer into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Fold in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the berry layer. Sprinkle with more sugar, if desired.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Source: barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Posted in bars, dessert |

Jul 10
Margarita-Glazed Fish Tacos2 Comments

Yes, you read that title correctly. This indeed is a seafood recipe gracing this blog, I bet you thought this day would never come, neither did I! I am slowly trying to be better about trying new foods and fish is one of those things that I have never cared for. I guess if I am going to push new foods onto my children one day, then I have to serve as a good role model myself. Since everyone I know raves about fish tacos and my love for Mexican food knows no end, I figure it was a good place to start. Plus it probably didn’t hurt the situation that we planned to consume some margaritas prior to the meal, you know…liquid courage.

The whole idea of buying fish and then cooking it consumed me in a bad way. I needed Blair’s help. I chickened out at Wegman’s when I went to the store to get groceries for the week. So I dragged Blair to our local seafood place on Saturday morning to buy the fish. As soon as the man asked what he could get us, I nervously declared “I don’t like fish.” I am pretty sure Blair wanted to crawl under the counter out of sheer embarrassment. The man helping us didn’t seem too shaken by my comment, and directed me to tilapia, which I have had before, but it was doused in ketchup. He assured me that it was a good place to start and it was what they used for their fish tacos. After a quick lesson on how to cook the fish properly, we headed home.

As dinner time approached, I could feel myself getting antsy about the meal. The prep was minimal for this recipe and we decided to do the grilling on our grill pan since fish man told us it would be tricky on the grill outside. As I finished taking photos of the tacos, the moment I was dreading was coming. I took my first bite, Blair instagrammed it, and I thought to myself, “Well that isn’t so bad after all.” I am sure the pico de gallo and copious amounts of guacamole helped out some, but this will not be my last seafood recipe that I will share. I am actually excited to start trying out some new recipes and have been pinning some that have caught my eye. I think I have finally conquered my fish fear, just don’t ask me to get crazy and cook something too fishy!

 

Margarita-Glazed Fish Tacos

For the fish:
1/4 cup tequila
1 tsp lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
1/4 cup orange juice (1 small orange)
1 lbs white fish (cod, tilapia, etc)
Salt
Pepper
6 small tortillas
For the pico de gallo:
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt

What you’ll do:

Add the tequila, lime juice, zest, orange juice, and fish to a large zip-top bag and let sit for no longer than 30 minutes, the citrus will break down the fish if it sits any longer. Heat your grill to medium-high.

While the grill is heating, combine the ingredients for the pico de gallo and set aside. Season with salt to taste.

Once your grill is hot enough, coat the grill really well with cooking spray or olive oil. We did this and still had some stickage.  Grill the fish for about 4-5 minutes each side, until the center is just opaque. While your fish is cooking, pour the marinade into a small sauce pan over high heat and bring to a boil, reducing it to make a glaze/reduction. Season the fish with salt and pepper and flake into bite size chunks. Serve the fish on tortillas or shells,  top with pico de gallo and a drizzle on the prepared reduction.

Posted in main dish, mexican, quick and easy | Tagged , , |

Jul 08
Broccoli Pesto Pasta1 Comment

I suppose I am still a bit on vacation mode from the weekend, I am sure many of you felt the same exact way this morning when that alarm clock went off today. Coming off a long weekend is never easy, back to the grind and back to reality. We entertained friends here for the fourth then we headed down to the beach to get some family photos taken with my whole extended family- 13 of us to be exact! The rest of the weekend was spent lounging on the beach enjoying the sun that has been missing for quite some time in the state of New Jersey. All I wanted to do last night when we arrived home was relax some more and catch up on some TV so blogging didn’t happen.

This would be a great recipe to ease yourself back into the work week because we all know that cooking is probably the last thing on your mind today. For some reason, pasta dishes always seem to an afterthought of mine. This one will not be forgotten! We were drowning in broccoli last week from our CSA and I knew I had wanted to use some of it for this pasta dish. The pasta is coated in a creamy sauce (thank you Greek yogurt) and has the perfect amount of seasoning to it. The garlic and onion add body to the sauce while the red pepper flakes add just a hint of spice. Broccoli is not necessarily my favorite vegetable to eat, but in this dish it is a stand out that may just make me into a broccoli fan after all!

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

1 lb. broccoli
1 lb. pasta
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
Up to ½ cup heavy cream (or greek yogurt)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan, for serving

What you’ll do:

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Meanwhile, chop the broccoli crowns into florets.  Using a vegetable peeler, remove the tough outer skins of the broccoli stems, and chop the stems into ½-inch discs.  When the water has started boiling, add the broccoli to the water to boil for about 3-4 minutes.  After the broccoli is fork tender, remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.

Keep the water at a boil.  Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions until al dente.  Reserve 1½ cups of the pasta water and then drain the pasta well.  Return the empty pot back to the heat.  Add the butter and olive oil to the pot, letting the butter melt  Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes more or until fragrant.  Return the cooked broccoli to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes more to heat through.  Season with pepper to taste.

Transfer the broccoli mixture to a food processor or blender.  (If you are using a blender, make sure to allow the steam to escape by removing the lid and cover with a towel). Pulse in short bursts, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is finely chopped.  Add in the cream or greek yogurt and process until smooth.  If necessary, add the reserved pasta water a small amount at a time to get your desired consistency.  Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.  Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve with Parmesan on top.

Source: Annie’s Eats who adapted it from Smitten Kitchen

Posted in Uncategorized |