Caprese Pizza

I PASSED THE BAR!! You have no idea how good it feels to write that.  After months of waiting, worrying, and some more waiting, I got the coveted letter from the Bar of Law Examiners Friday morning at 11:00 and screamed in excitement.  So loud that one of my co-workers came into my office to see if I was ok.  Ha.  I was shaking with excitement for a good hour. The final hurdle standing in the way of my legal career has finally been conquered.

Now that I’ve lawyered the bar exam, my next feat will be working with yeast.  I have a long list of recipes I want to try that work with active yeast that I have putting on the back burner to try “someday.”

Well, that someday wasn’t today.  (hey, I passed the bar.  I figured I earned myself a break)  But next week I am going to overcome my fear of yeast and give it a good college try.  This pizza was so delicious that it will probably be one of my first recipes I’ll make using yeast.  Figure even if I fumble a bit, the powerful basil and mozzarella flavors will overpower any mistake I may make.

 

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Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Boats

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  Well, at least in Canada.  And since I married a Canadian, it meant it was Thanksgiving in our house.  We invited some of our favorite friends over for a full-out Thanksgiving meal.  As expected, we all went around the table and said what we were thankful for.

It made me realize something.  I have the greatest life. I grew up in this quinessential small town where when you go to the grocery store, you know every single person there.  I was raised by a mom and a dad and a brother and a sister–a family who doesn’t always agree but always believes in the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

Forced family fun required special glasses–my mom, sis, and me
my brother and dad on vacation in mexico. ps. happy birthday brother!

I married a man who loves me just as much as I love him.  Who honestly would do anything to make me happy-including toying with the idea of buying me a french bulldog despite his so-so feeling about owning a puppy.  I married into a family that is extremely loving and welcoming.

sisters

My cellphone is filled with numbers of friends from across the states. Sure, some numbers haven’t been dialed in months, but the voices at the end of line are comprised of friendships that allow us to pick up right where we left off. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s what it means to have a solid friendship.  And all  of that, equals the greatest life.  Sure, there are things that could make my life easier, better, less of a hassle.  But I’ve never wished for a perfect life.  Just a happy one. And there is nothing greater than that.

five years and counting!

And just as Minnesota is notorious for, we skipped straight from summer to a cold fall. Because of the early morning frosts, our garden had it’s last harvest.  I completely stripped my plants from any and all usable ingredients.  It was overwhelming how fruitful my hall was!  I felt so lucky to have so many fresh veggies to work with at this late in the season.

 

Per usual, my jalapenos grew out of control!  I wanted to figure out something fun to make with them!  And that’s how my bacon-wrapped jalapeno boats were born!

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Sesame Encrusted Baked Chicken

I finally have joined the rest of the world–I own a smart phone!  After years of free phones that can hardly text, my phone is fully functional, complete with GPS and Words with Friends.  But the best part of having a smartphone is the camera!  For the past couple of years, I’ve had to bug Matt for his phone whenever the urge for a photoshoot struck.  Now I can whip out my own phone without the hassle of convincing Matt to fork over his.

My last recipe required so much prep work and cooking time.  This recipe is much more worker-friendly.  The ingredients are all ones that you can normally find in your cupboard.  It was a simple, yummy meal that I recommend on those busy nights.

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Twice-Baked Butternut Squash

How do people do it?  Hold a full-time job.  Work out.  Make dinner.  Spend time with a significant other.  Practice a hobby.  And still go to bed at a decent hour.  After one month of working full-time, it has definitely readjusted the way I look at the working world.  Much respect.  I have no idea how everyone does it.  It’s clear that I am still acquiring my sea legs.  Hence the lack of posts in the past month.

This recipe is not tailored for the working-folk.  Today, I came home from work at 7:15. I had called Matt at 6:30 asking him to start this recipe.  Yet we didn’t eat until 9:15!!  I haven’t had dinner this late since I lived in Spain. As my roommates in Spain quickly learned, I fucking hate cena (late dinner).  So save this recipe for the weekend.  A day when you come home early.  Not a day when you have to work all day.

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Homemade Pesto.

The weather is crisper.  The leaves have carpeted our backyard.  Fall is definitely in the air.  As much as I love wanting to smush pumpkin into everything I eat and wearing boots and sweaters, it is going to be too cold for my plants to survive.  While I can move some of my basil and tomato plants into my basement, my summer of fresh veggies and herbs is coming to a close.  To mourn the loss, I decided to make recipes that call for lots of fresh herbs that I won’t be able to make this winter without a high grocery trip bill.  It was time to make pesto!

Despite having a food blog for over half a year, I don’t have fancy tools for the kitchen.  No food processor.  No sharp knives.  No Kitchen-Aid.  I rely on hand mixing and hand chopping (with awfully dull knives).  And that’s ok.  Because when I finish a recipe, I love saying I made this without any fancy kitchen utilities and it still tastes awesome. And I kick ass.

The best part about this pesto recipe is that while most people rely on a food processor to make pesto, this recipe doesn’t need one.  In fact, rumor has it, the best pesto is made when you chop the ingredients by hand.  And that made my day.  Who needs fancy, expensive kitchen machines when you got your hands : )

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Eggplant Parmigiana

Fall is finally here!!  It is my favorite season–cool, crisp weather, sweaters, scarves, boots, pumpkin lattes.  Usually fall marks new beginnings for me since a new year of school starts–but this year is the first year in 20 years that I didn’t start school.  Luckily, the great feeling of a fresh start didn’t fade this fall because I started my first, real job as a lawyer a couple weeks ago.  Still, it’s odd not working on homework or spending time on OneNote.

Fall also means more heartier meals.  Something to stick to your ribs.  And this makes me think of eggplants.  I always avoid recipes that require deep frying so making eggplant parmesan has never been something on my to-do list.   Thank God I found this recipe! I still get to enjoy eggplant parmesan without all the deep fried hassle and high calories.

 

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Layered Feta and Eggplant Zucchini Dish

So many new things have been happening in my house.  I got a job!!  Only after a couple months after graduating law school, I got a position as an associate attorney at a law firm that specializes in banking and business law.  I started last week and so far I am loving it!  The firm has been so welcoming.  It feels like I hit the jackpot.

Waving Matt good-bye on my first day of work.

And the day after starting work, Matt and I decided it was time to paint our kitchen cabinets.  We’ve only had our house for a little over a year, and it definitely falls under the category of a “fixer-uper.”  The kitchen had cheap, dark, wood cabinets.  They added nothing to our kitchen.  My mother-in-law suggested we paint them, and it was time for us to take her advice.

before.

Still putting last minute touches on the newly, painted cabinets.  So no “after” picture yet.  With the new job and a diy project turning my kitchen upside down, cooking fell to the back burner. But after a week hiatus, it was time for a new recipe.

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Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

Do not let the slow cooker part confuse you.  This recipe is not a quick toss everything into the slow cooker and enjoy sort of recipe.  It’s a bit more labor intensive but oh so worth it!

Now that I have been cooking regularly for several months, I have been trying to modify and create my own recipes.  Many Italian recipes I have been finding online requires a jar of spaghetti sauce.  That is the first thing I eliminate from every recipe I try.  Instead, I substitute a can of tomato sauce.

I do this for two reasons.  First, with tomato sauce, I can control the level of salt and spices.  Spaghetti sauce generally is full of salt.  I can just add a pinch of salt instead of being subjected to the already mixed salty sauce.  Plus, my herb garden allows me to add fresh spices instead of the dried ones.  Second, a can of tomato sauce is far cheaper.  So with health and my wallet on my side, I haven’t missed the jar of spaghetti sauce in my recipes.

True to form, I have modified this recipe slightly.  Subbing out the spaghetti sauce and modifying some ingredients and prep.  This recipe was a huge hit.  It allowed us to enjoy the delicious taste of wings without the deep fried fat.

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Pizza Pasta Bake

This weekend my in-laws came to visit.  It’s a 6 hour drive from their place to ours so they usually do not get in until around 9 or 10.  The visit always starts out with my father-in-law suggesting we get pizza.  But because it’s around 9, all the places around us only do delivery and Matt and him debate whether delivery will take too long.  And after discussing it for 20 minutes, a delivered pizza would likely already be on its way.  So this time I decided to skip the whole first act and make something.  This pizza bake was a huge hit.  My father-in-law got his pizza fix, and Matt got his bake fix.

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Cheesy Zucchini Bake

While I was studying for the bar, I wanted fast and easy homemade meals.  Our freezer was full of ground turkey so I decided to cook it up, mix it together with pasta, cheese, and herbs and turn it into a bake.  Matt feel in love with the meal, begging me to remake it.  So after making various versions of the pasta bake, I decided it was time for a vegetarian bake.

Our fridge is becoming increasingly more full of fresh veggies from our garden every day so I cut up our multi-colored zucchinis, some basil, green onions, and jalapenos, mix them with some cheese, spinach, and dried herbs. and the cheesy zucchini bake was born!

isn’t this tomato cool! it’s a striped tomato.
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