Last weekend was my sister-in-law’s wedding. I first met Matt’s sister Nicole when she was a high schooler. She was this perky, outgoing girl who immediately made you feel at ease. It was as if you had known her your whole life. Because that is quintessentially Nicole. She lives her life with her heart on her sleeve. Sharing intimate stories. Gushing love. Always being completely honest. So if something is on her mind, she’ll let you know. She’s always all in or all out. It’s something I’ve always admired about her.
She was the first sibling of Matt’s and mine to get married. So the wedding weekend was a bit surreal. How can she be getting married? She is the little sister. But she looked beautiful. The wedding was beautiful. The family time was beautiful. There’s nothing like a wedding to make you feel grateful for family.
Matt and I were in the wedding party so we got to walk down the aisle together, which was pretty fun. The two of us hadn’t been in a wedding party together since our own wedding. Not having to worry about anything except being where we are suppose to was a great change in pace. Our little boys were in the wedding too. They wore little dress pants with suspenders and bow ties. And they were too adorable. Despite complete breakdowns and tantrums at the rehearsal dinner, both boys walked perfectly down the aisle and were quiet the entire wedding ceremony (and we are Catholic so we are talking an hour and a half mass). After the mass, the boys went off with my parents while Matt and I jumped on the party bus for photos.
Of course, the wedding was a full on traditional Italian wedding. Guests were greeted at the reception by a table of shots. Each guest is to take a shots to toast the new couple for good luck. Traditionally, those shots are taken with the bridal party, but I have no idea how those Italians do that and don’t get completely bombed. Here, there were bartenders that just handed them out so we didn’t have to worry about spending the entire reception slurring our words (because I swear, I smell liquor and suddenly I am completely incapable of articulating a clear sentence). Our meal included antipasto, a pasta plate followed by a meat plate. The late night snack was a nacho bar (oh man, for Matt’s and my second wedding, we are totally stealing this). The dessert table was full of almond cookies, biscottis, and canolis. Yeah, in case it isn’t obvious, food is an important piece of the celebration.
And a panzanella salad is one of my favorite Italian salads. It is one of the few salads that Matt loves because a good quarter of the salad is garlic, butter toasted bread. He calls it “the bread salad” and its one of the few salads where Matt gets seconds. The combination of the toasted bread with cucumbers and tomatoes tastes like summer. It’s a quick and easy recipe with just simple, real ingredients. Real Italian cooking at its finest. So for your next celebration, if you want to toss in a little Italian tradition, try adding this bread salad.
Well, I had another baby! On December 15, 2016, little Maxwell decided he wasn’t going to wait another second and was born. And even though he was born on his due date, I was anything but prepared. See, JR was 12 days late. Yes, 12 days. While I certainly was not rooting for another almost two week late baby, I had convinced myself that Max would not be showing up anytime near the 15th. Perhaps sometime in the 20’s–like Christmas. But surely not on his due date. So when my water broke at 9:40 p.m. on December 14th, I immediately panicked (our house was a complete mess. I had lost my phone. I hadn’t done laundry in weeks.) But after a mere two and a half hours of labor, Maxwell was born. It was perfect.
Of course, now that Max is here, I should be in the “lose the baby weight” phase. But there was Christmas. Then New Years. And donuts are freaking delicious. Plus, who is going to eat all those Junior Mints?! And while I am technically down to my pre-Max weight (note: not pre-baby), my belly is squishy. It would be nice to be back to my law school size. Since it’s the beginning of the year, I can jump on the “new year new you” bandwagon. My social media has been swarmed with Whole30 posts so it is a constant reminder that I too need to be more aware of what I am eating if I want to see results.
That’s where this salad comes in. It’s healthy and quick to make. Plus, you can toss in as many vegetables you’d like, add chicken, salmon, etc., and make the salad more filling (and more of an entree v. side dish). But, regardless of what ingredients you put in the salad, it is truly the salad dressing that holds it all together. My friend Mel shared her dressing recipe with me, and now it is my go-to dressing. Ok, it is the only salad dressing I use these days. It’s light but full of flavor. And I can eat a salad and still feel healthy that it isn’t covered in a creamy, fattening dressing.
It’s been a while. Again. Still been making new recipes. Still forgetting to take pictures. I’ve been lazy.
But there is something I have been spending my time taking pictures of. Surprise! There is a new addition to our family. Three weeks ago, a little French bulldog moved into our house. Her name is Pancake.
It’s been an adventure. Neither of us have owned or trained a dog before so we enrolled into a puppy class. Pancake is becoming proficient at playing fetch, and she’s great at sitting, but now that she has learned that sitting equals treats, walking on a leash has become more difficult. She will walk a few steps, sit, and wait for a treat. It’s only been three weeks so hopefully she will get the hang of it soon.
Our kitchen also has experienced a new milestone. I finally made something using yeast! I’ve been saying for months that I wanted to learn how to make dough, but every time the opportunity arose, I opted for Pillsbury’s.
This lazy streak has come to an end! Matt is an avid woodworker (the best if you ask me!) and he subscribes to every woodworking show, blog, youtube channel. One of the woodworkers he follows had a post about making a pizza peel with a recipe for tomato pie which included a homemade crust. Matt took it as a sign that it was time for me to finally learn to work with yeast. Clever guy 🙂
I love this tomato pie recipe because of the simplicity of it. While I love a pizza piled with toppings, sometimes you crave the bare necessities. Plus, you make this pizza up-side-down. The cheese is the first topping with the sauce on top. This unique structure and simple ingredients enhances the flavor of the pizza. It was the perfect recipe for me to start my journey working with yeast. And we’ve now made this pizza over 10 times. I’d say it’s a keeper! And I now consider myself a “yeast expert.” Well, as long as it involves this recipe…
Remember when I disappeared for a couple months. Well, I kept cooking but stopped taking pictures. In case it isn’t obvious, I’m not big on the staging portion of the photography part of this whole blogging thing. Eh. Instragram is about as good as it gets for me.
Instead of learning how to take killer photographs, I’ve been getting the most out of summer now that Minnesota weather is finally cooperative. Exhibit A: dancing on the boat on the way from dinner.
And I’ve had my fair share of meals made for me.
It’s been great. How can you not love Minnesota summers! With the fresh herbs growing in our garden, guacamole has been my go-to side dish. While I LOVE guac, I wanted to mix it up. After seeing a guacamole with goat cheese on a menu at a local restaurant, I had to try to recreate it.
This guacamole is far richer than traditional guacamole. The kind of guacamole you’d have at a fancy restaurant. A fun twist. The goat cheese makes it much thicker and not really cheesy. I really loved it, but I personally prefer traditional guac. Matt likes them both the same. Try it for yourself and let me know which you prefer!
It only took six months, but I finally feel like I have a real handle on my job. Instead of being perpetually on defense, I finally feel like I am on offense. Now, I can anticipate what needs to be done, understand where I am in a file, and no longer feel like I am constantly asking my boss questions (although, he may not agree. haha). It’s a good feeling. Unfortunately, I am not infallible. So I am not in the clear yet. I still spend a good amount of time reading statutes and learning something new about banking law. But, that’s the whole reason why I went into law. Everyday, there is something new to learn. (wow, yes. that is correct. i am that nerdy. gross). So, I’m in a good place.
In that some vein, I am getting far more comfortable with my cooking skills. I no longer stay clear of recipes that require multiple tools, crazy ingredients, and complicated steps. This recipe is not hella complicated but it is amazing delicious. It is a bit time consuming, but it is worth the extra time and effort. After making this, I felt on top of the world. Trust me, it’s a recipe you do not want to miss.
It’s that time of the year where everyone is either sick, getting over a sickness, or is about to be sick. No gusta. This sickness cloud sat over our house for a couple days last week. Matt couldn’t get out of bed. I went home from work early (a true sign of sickness–I’ve never called in sick or went home early from work since I was 16). Now that we can stomach food again, I had the urge to make some comfort food.
With my health back, I was ready for a challenge. I’ve been wanting to make homemade tomato pesto soup for quite some time after having a delicious tomato pesto at Crave, a local restaurant. And this recipe not only met my expectations, it surpassed it. To my surprise, this recipe isn’t as challenging as I thought it was going to be. Sure, there are multiple steps. You need a hand blender. And lots of tomatoes. But most of the work involving waiting rather than mincing and chopping.
Honestly, this soup may be the best thing I’ve made thus far. It tasted like Italy. So natural, fresh, and basily. Perfect. I couldn’t stop bragging about it. I texted pictures to family and friends. Blabbed about it at work. But it was so fucking good.
Ok, enough of my shameless face shoving. Go make your own batch so you can do the same!
Matt is a big snacker. This snacking habit has only been encouraged by my particular “house rules” when it comes to dishes in the wood shop. No glass, no fiestaware, and no silverware near the power tools. So Matt made his own wood bowls that he fills with chips (that later become full of wood chips. somehow that doesn’t deter him from eating his potato chips).
Periodically, I like to surprise Matt with new dips for his chip addiction. Last week was Matt’s half-birthday so I decided to try this olive pesto. I know, I know. Who celebrates half-birthdays? But it all started several years ago when Matt went out to his friends for a couple beers. It just so happened to be his actual half-birthday. Somehow, the guys started saying it was Matt’s actual birthday and despite the reality that bartenders look at your ID–the bartenders bought it. He had a night of free drinks, dancing on the bar, and running around ringing the birthday bell. Ever since, we celebrate Matt’s half-birthday. Complete with a half-cake and special dips.
This olive pesto was a fun twist on the traditional pesto that I love so much. It was quick and easy to make, and it would probably taste delicious mixed with pasta.
Breakfast has always been my favorite meal. Every morning, I wake up with my stomach grumbling and really can’t get much accomplished without having a good breakfast. And one of the many things I love about the law firm I work at is Friday breakfast. Every Friday, someone brings in breakfast for the entire office. Last week it was my turn. I used it as an opportunity to try a new recipe. I got good feedback from everyone and will definitely be making this again!
One fun thing about this recipe is you can switch up the ingredients. Toss in raspberries, blueberries, apples, strawberries. Whichever you prefer or whatever you have on hand. Also this recipe can easily be made with or without chocolate chips. So play around with this recipe and make it your own.
I’ve also joined the world of smartphones. Which means I’ve been talking pictures of everything! I was at a restaurant with a great friend last weekend and had to take a picture of this amazing soup–a tomato pesto. New goal: figure out how to recreate my own tomato pesto soup. Hopefully soon I’ll be posting my first recreation recipe!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!