Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Most Thankful Thursday

(Timepiece Studio)
This year, I have so much to be thankful for. I took an exciting step in my career, felt more at home in my city, got engaged and spent a wonderful year planning our dream wedding, and ultimately, celebrated the best day of my life with everyone we love. The list I could write about my blessings this year would be long, and most of all, I am thankful for everyone in the pictures above. Our families and friends, those people who have been with us through thick and thin, who love us unconditionally, and who have supported Jeff and me from the beginning of our love story. Every former bride told me that during the wedding, you have to take moments to look around and take it all in - everyone is there for you. I felt that so strongly throughout the wedding planning process, the weekend itself, and in the weeks that have followed. Completely supported, very happy, and very lucky.

I use the phrase "an embarrassment of riches" often, and today, it applies to our family and friends. When it comes to these people, my cup runneth over. Special, loyal, hilarious, loving, devoted - thanks to each of you for the gifts you have given me and for being along for this unpredictable and amazing journey. I couldn't love you more! 

And of course, to Jeff. Thank you for being my partner in crime through it all. I'm so glad that I'm your wife.

Happy Thanksgiving, all! 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stuffed and Baked, Two Ways

I'm a huge fan of yams and sweet potatoes, and the other night, I was thinking of interesting ways to serve them and incorporate more ingredients into a meal. I love baked potatoes filled with toppings, but I had never made a twice baked potato. I decided to give it a shot. They were a perfect side dish, but what I love the most about this option is that it could easily be turned into a meal and the additions can be mixed and matched to your heart's content. I think a Thanksgiving version with leftover turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce or graving would be amazing, or a Southwestern version with green chiles and black beans. The sky's the limit! 

Next, it was girls' night in, and I wanted to make a hearty and vegetarian appetizer. I saw these mini portobello mushrooms at the market and thought they were adorable (a great reason to cook something) and decided to fill them with some of my favorite things - cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and a little spinach to round it out. Two of these felt like a meal - they were so filling! The portobellos were great for heavy hors d'oeuvres, or you could use smaller mushrooms for a bite size version.

Twice Baked Yams:
(Makes 3 main portions or 6 side portions)

3 medium sized sweet potatoes or yams (I used jewel yams)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 cup + 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper, black pepper, and onion powder

Wash your potatoes. Place them on a paper towel lined microwave safe plate and microwave for 15 minutes, turning once, or until potatoes are soft to the touch. Set aside until cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet.
In a medium sized pan, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and cooked through.
In a medium sized bowl, add mushrooms and garlic, cheddar cheese, yogurt, and spices. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each one lengthwise and gently scoop out the flesh, leaving a little rim in the skin. Repeat with the rest of the potato halves, adding flesh to your bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together with a spoon until fully combined. Add additional spices to taste.
Place potato skins on your baking sheet. Scoop heaping spoonfuls of filling into the skins. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown. 

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms:
(Makes 6 mushrooms)

6 mini portobello mushrooms, washed with stems removed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces herbed goat cheese
1 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups spinach, cooked (I used frozen cut leaf spinach)
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place your mushrooms open side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and mushroom stems and cook until soft.
In a medium sized bowl, mix garlic and mushroom, sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, spinach, and egg. Season with salt and pepper.
When mushrooms are done in the oven, remove and turn up heat to 400 degrees. Scoop filling into each mushroom, heaping extra on top. Sprinkle Parmesan on mushrooms.
Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and tops are golden brown.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cozying Up to the Cold

While I may complain about the cold and lament about missing California sunshine, I truly love fall and winter weather. The smell, the fleeting evening light, the crunch of leaves and then snow. I love getting bundled up in scarves and hats, wearing boots and wool socks, being embraced by soft layers. I love curling up on the couch, drinking red wine and eating hot and hearty comfort food, escaping the cold for happy hour and nights with the girls.

Living in a snowy city isn't always my favorite thing, but I do love having seasons to look forward to, colors and climates to change, new wardrobes to switch in and out of the closet. In an effort to assert my inner recessionista, I've been trying to shop less and repurpose more, mixing and matching pieces that I've always worn just one way. While this does make it feel like I have brand new things, of course I'm still lusting after items that would be perfect for the colder weather. Here are a few pieces that would round out my winter wardrobe...

Fall Fashion

Coat -Snood - Cardigan - Blouse - Jeans - Pumps - Dress - Booties


Monday, November 4, 2013

Basil and Spinach Pesto Pasta

Jeff and I are spending Christmas with my mom and stepdad in Athens, Georgia this year, so naturally I'm daydreaming about all the home cooking we're going to enjoy. I have a fairly long list of my favorite things that always taste better when parents make them, but I got a strong craving for one dish in particular, Mama's pesto, and couldn't wait to give it a try.

This was my first time making it, but like so many of her recipes before, I was left wondering why it had taken me so long. This pesto is simple, healthy, and absolutely scrumptious. Best of all, it tasted exactly like she makes it. Instead of being a few tablespoons as a side dish, it is the main event and leaves you wanting seconds, and not feeling too guilty about a big portion. I'm excited to try some other mix-ins - sundried tomatoes, red peppers, kale, or arugula to see what flavors I can bring out. For now, this classic version is a new favorite in our house.

(Makes approximately 4 cups of pesto or 10 servings of pasta*)

1 small bunch of fresh basil
1 large bunch of fresh spinach
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of pine nuts
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons nonfat milk
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
10 cups dry rotini (I used gluten-free brown rice rotini)

Wash your basil and spinach and pat dry. Cut off ends and discard. Roughly chop leaves.
In your blender or food processor, add all of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Depending on the thickness that you want, add additional olive oil and/or milk.
Cook pasta per directions. Pour pesto over hot pasta and stir gently until full coated.
Season with additional salt and pepper.
I served ours with baked chicken thighs and oven roasted cherry tomatoes.

*I made the full recipe, but will freeze half of the pesto for another time. You can also keep it in a sealed jar or container in the refrigerator for up to one week.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Friday!

Cheers to the beginning of a long weekend - we gain an extra hour on Sunday! There is always a to do list on the weekends, and I plan to spend my down time writing thank you cards, continuing the name changing process, unpacking wedding presents, and starting a new book.

I hope your weekend is filled with fun, rest, and laughter. I am thankful that the sun is shining, that I have ballet and babies to look forward to, and that my cute boys are waiting for me at home. 

(stolen from Instagram)