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.
I had never been to a Trader Joe’s until I found this recipe. I had this idea that Trader Joe’s was this super crunchy, ultra expensive grocery store. But then I stumbled upon this recipe that seemed like the perfect weekday meal (ie: one that takes 40 minutes or less from fridge to the table). Ok, so turns out that my perception of Trader Joe’s wasn’t exactly on mark. There is more than just granola and organic yogurt.
This truly is a great meal. There isn’t more than a couple of ingredients–all which are very easy to prepare. You toss everything together and bam, you got yourself a fancy meal.
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!
Remember picture day back in high school? It was such a big ordeal. Picking out the perfect outfit, applying gobs of makeup, and finding a hair-style that’s just right. Yes, very similar to Goldilock’s adventure. Unfortunately for me, every year my pictures turned out the same. Eyes mid-blink. Uncomfortable smile. Messy hair.
Today, we had picture day at work. Well, kinda. See, our firm hired two new employees who needed photos for our website. Since the photographer was already going to be around taking their pictures, I thought, “hey, this is a great opportunity for me to get a better picture.” Maybe I can just sneak in and get a new pic. [no worries. I got the thumbs up from our marketing coordinator].
Why did I need a new picture you ask? Yeah–I’m not the most photographic of individuals. It wasn’t my best work. Meaning I’m that girl who has been complaining about her work picture ever since it was taken.
Today was the third time I’ve had my picture professionally taken for work. Move over, Beyonce. There’s a new diva running this town. But, channeling my inner celebrity paid off. I got to look at my new work pictures, and while I won’t be auditioning for America’s Next Top Model anytime soon, I no longer looked frazzled.
Photographing soup has always been a bit of a challenge for me. If it isn’t full of chunky ingredients, a creamy soup looks bland. What I should do is buy some cute, unique bowls from Goodwill to jazz it up. But its so easy to get lazy when it comes laying out colorful and eye-catching backdrops for my website. Thankfully, this recipe is full of delicious chunky ingredients, so my fiestaware bowls sufficed. This spicy soup was delicious, easy to make, and can be ready in twenty minutes. The perfect meal after a long day of work!
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!
I am starting my second round of p90x. And this time my focus is on nutrition. Which is particularly challenging during this holiday season. But so far so good! Especially with delicious meals like this taco flatbread pizza!
For me, the hardest part of eating healthy is not living alone. When I lived by myself in law school, healthy eating was never an issue. I controlled what food was in my fridge and what cluttered my cupboards. Now as husband and wife, grocery shopping is a team sport. Since Matt is a woodworker, he is all about the snack food that’s easy and fast to eat–which basically means unhealthy (but delicious) food that is rather hard to resist.
So finding meals that are healthy but still have that snack-like taste can be difficult. This taco flatbread pizza was an excellent compromise–full of protein, little bit of veggies, and still falls into the pizza family so both Matt and I were happy. This has definitely made it into our recipe rotation.
Ok. Truth time. I do not like the movie Elf. I find no redeeming qualities in the movie, irrespective of the reality that I love Zooey Dechanell. The movie is just not funny. There. It’s out there. Just had to get that off my chest. BUT even though I will not spend my Christmas season watching Elf doesn’t mean I’m not excited for winter because…
It’s party season!! And this girl LOVES parties. Eggnog. Christmas cookies. Ugly Sweaters. Love Actually (now that’s a movie!). Wow, my heart is fluttering as I type this.
With all these parties, it’s likely that you’ll get an invite to a party where you need to bring something. Here is a great taco dip recipe that is SUPER easy and CRAZY delicious. Million gustas.