Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

double chocolate zucchini bread

Happy new year everyone!! What did everyone do to celebrate?? We had a very low-key night, stayed in, finally finished watching Stranger Things 2 and I nursed a cold. I have to say, I’ve been so lucky and somehow haven’t gotten sick since before I was pregnant. But this on is a doozy. And sadly, Landon has it as well 😦 It’s one thing for me to be sick, to be able to take medicine or use whatever remedies I feel like trying but it’s so hard to see him sick when there is so little I can do for him. Fingers crossed it doesn’t last much longer.

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Sausage & Apple Stuffed Squash

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This dish just screams fall to me! The squash, the apples, the herbs. Made me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a glass of wine, which is exactly what I did right after eating this 🙂 For the presentation that you get with a stuffed squash, the prep and hands-on time is relatively easy. This makes a great dish on it’s own for dinner, or as a side dish for a dinner party. You could even use a roasted acorn squash to serve your Thanksgiving stuffing, if you really want to get crazy! The other great thing about this recipe, you can easily change up the ingredients that you put inside to tailor it to your own diet or tastes. Add some grains, like cooked rice or quinoa, remove the dairy, change the meat to chicken sausage or add beans for protein instead. The possibilities are endless. So get creative and let me know if you try any substitutions. I’d love to hear about it!!

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Poblano Corn Quesadillas

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We officially have a crawling baby! Which means, my life is about to get a little more hectic. As of yesterday, Landon is on the move and ever since then he does not want to be confined in any way, not in the bouncer, not in the playpen. Just wants to be able to move freely. No more setting him down on the play mat to run to the restroom, or turning my back to do dishes while he sits in one spot playing. Nope.

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Ratatouille Stuffed Shells

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Well, today the baby got himself from lying on his tummy up into sitting position for the first time. I love each new skill he develops but this one has mama in a panic! Crawling is just around the corner which means I’ll be spending this week baby proofing!! And…it also means there will be a DIY baby gate post coming your way in the near future. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, stay tuned!

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Kale Summer Salad

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I have a confession…I love having friends and family over, hosting dinner parties & BBQs and cooking for lots of people. Problem…I’m not actually very good at it! I mean, the food is great and I’d like to think we create a fun environment but every single time, I spend a lot of the time in the kitchen preparing food and not mingling and hanging with our loved ones. It actually makes me really anxious too, something about people watching me cook, having a messy kitchen and not being able to just enjoy myself.

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Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas

sheet pan shrimp fajitas

I feel like I’m a bit obsessed with sheet pan cooking these days. Anything I can throw on one pan, toss in the oven and POOF! dinner is done!?!? Count me in!

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Green Goddess Sandwich

green goddess panini

I started painting my kitchen cabinets about 7 months ago, right when we got home from Hawaii. Also, around the time we found out I was pregnant. The problem, I went to continue painting after finding out a baby was on the way and was of course concerned with the chemicals I was using. I found that the paint de-glosser I was using was EXTREMELY harmful to pregnant women and children (and probably everyone else, but not on the same level as a child’s developing system) so I didn’t continue the project, thinking I was out of luck until after the pregnancy.

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Spring Frittata w/ Asparagus, Leeks and Dill

spring frittata with asparagus, leek & dill

I was actually about to blog something different but saw photos of this frittata and realized I never shared it! Crisis averted 🙂 I made this as part of Easter dinner and it was delicious. Makes a great side dish or appetizer for a spring dinner party.

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Crispy Coconut Kale, Roasted Salmon & Coconut Rice

The dogs have been awake since 4:30am…(insert annoyed tone of voice here)…bad news, this will be an extra long Monday…good news, I have time to blog! Side note, I really need to look into a doggy daycare close to home so I can wear these pups out a couple days a week.

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Paprika Chicken Thighs

paprika chicken thighs

I decided last week to start tackling our breakfast nook in the kitchen, it was becoming my least favorite spot in the house and a catch-all for bags, mail, boxes, whatever we walked into the kitchen with. So here is what the area looked like when we bought the house…

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Party Perfect Appetizers

This last weekend we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday by throwing her a surprise party. It was so much fun to get all the family together for an evening of food, drinks and fun! I’ve never managed to actually pull off a surprise, to keep it a secret and all, but I’d say this was successful. People came in from Washington and California to help celebrate this beautiful, caring mother/daughter/sister/aunt/friend who always tries to take care of everyone else.

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Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Puree

sausage & spinach stuffed shells
I’m on day 4 of being sick in bed…I am NOT good at being sick like this. I am bored out of my mind and want so badly to get up and leave the house but am such a mess and exhausted that all I can do is lie in bed. So ready for this sickness to be done!

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Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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I made frosted sugar cookies for Valentine’s day last night. I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in sugar cookie dough and cream cheese frosting…Needless to say, I have a stomach ache this morning.

In other news, what is everyone doing for Valentine’s Day?? I want to hear all your cute plans. I’m not big on holiday’s in general, especially Valentine’s Day and Halloween. On top of that, we both work weekends so going out on a night when everyone else is out, restaurants are booked and parking is hard to find, probably not going to happen for this couple. Nice night in with dinner and a bottle of wine it is!

I made these lettuce wraps a few nights ago and they were DE-LI-CIOUS! A little messy, but delicious. And very easy to prepare, marinate the chicken, mix up the sauce and chop some veggies. The chicken marinated for about 2 hours but the actual prep & cook time was about 20 minutes. Great for a weeknight if you start your marinade the night before or in the morning.

Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Makes 8 wraps
2 1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp gochujang sauce
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
8 Bibb lettuce leaves
16 cucumber slices
3 green onions, sliced diagonally

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Place 2 tablespoons soy sauce mixture in a small bowl; set aside. Add chicken slices to remaining soy sauce mixture in bag; seal. Refrigerate 2 hours.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Sprinkle sesame seeds over chicken.
4. Place 3 tablespoons rice in each lettuce leaf; top each lettuce leaf with 1/3 cup chicken mixture, 2 cucumber slices, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons green onions. Serve with reserved 2 tablespoons soy sauce mixture. Serve.

Original recipe from Cooking Light.

Squash Egg-in-the-Hole

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I’m beginning to feel like the struggle of juggling the many things I have to do will never go away. No matter how much a plan and schedule, something will always come up to throw things off track or derail the progress. This is just something I’m working on dealing with right now. Trying not to be overwhelmed by all the things I expect myself to get done and not getting frustrated when things don’t go as planned.

One thing I got used to this summer, while not working, was having delicious and healthy food all the time. I had so much time for meal prep and cooking that I made breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. As you probably guessed by my above rant, I have not been keeping up on this lately. The search continues for things that are quick and easy to prepare but are still filling and healthy…enter Squash Egg-in-the-Hole. So delicious, so filling and so fast! It took me 30 minutes to prepare this, I could make a dozen and it would serve as breakfast for an entire week for the two of us. This is a great weekday breakfast for busy mornings that you can make ahead of time, pop in the microwave and eat before running out the door.

Squash Egg-in-the-Hole
Makes 4 servings
1 large acorn squash
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
cooking spray
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
2. Trim off about 1/2 inch from each end of the squash; discard. Slice remaining midsection of squash crosswise into 4 (3/4 inch thick) rounds. Remove seeds and membrane with spoon.
3. Brush both side of squash with oil, and place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and crushed red pepper. Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
4. Remove baking sheet from oven. Crack an egg into the center of each squash slice; sprinkle eggs with remaining salt. Return pan to oven, reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake for 12 minutes or until eggs are cooked. Transfer to plates using a spatula; sprinkle with thyme and bacon. Serve immediately.

Original recipe from Cooking Light.

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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By now you know that I don’t love veggies, but, they are very necessary for a healthy diet. When you only eat a handful of different vegetables, eating them can get old real fast. I needed to try some new side dishes to keep simple weeknight dinners interesting. Cue the bacon! I know, I know, it takes away a bit of the healthy edge. Let’s be honest though, getting my husband to eat brussels sprouts…I had to bring out the big guns.

By sautéing the brussels sprouts in the bacon drippings, you get amazing flavor and don’t forget to add in the leaves that fall off the brussel sprouts when you slice them in half. These leaves roast up to a nice crispy brown, my favorite part of this side dish!

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 lb fresh brussels sprouts, stems removed and halved
8 slices thick cut bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2″ pieces
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Cook bacon in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until mostly cooked but not browned, about 7-8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from frying pan and set bacon aside.
2. Add brussels sprouts to frying pan and bacon drippings. Sprinkle with desired amount of salt and pepper and sauté until lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
3. Transfer brussels sprouts and cooked bacon to a 11×8 baking dish, mix to combine and roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

Squash, Kale & Chicken Pot Pie

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December is in full swing and we’re only 4 days in! Being in the retail industry, my holidays have always felt hectic but this year, with a new job, remodeling a new home and the usual holiday insanity, things are feeling even more overwhelming. I had all these great intentions for the blog in the month of November, but, as always, I grossly overbooked myself and wound up not having enough time to do all the things I wanted to do. I decided to focus solely on the “Thanksgiving feast” posts. I hope you all enjoyed those and, at the very least, got a great recipe or two for your own Thanksgiving dinner. Now, it’s time to get back to basics and back to giving you more décor and DIY…right after I finish with this Chicken Pot Pit 😉

I made this for dinner a few nights ago and it was insanely delicious! Chunks of chicken, squash and kale in a yummy chicken broth gravy…umm…YES!!

Squash, Kale & Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 2 large dinner size pot pies or 4 side dish size pot pies
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 small bunch kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 lb cooked chicken breast (about 3 medium boneless skinless breasts)
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg

You have 2 choices for serving your pot pie: 1) cook in a large cast iron skillet making one large pot pie or 2) cook all ingredients through step 5 in a regular skillet, place vegetable mixture in individual dishes and cook personal size pot pies (which is what I did). If you do decided to use a large cast iron skillet, you will need to adjust cook times for puff pastry to cook thoroughly.

1. Cook chicken in desired manner. I boiled mine, small stock pot with salt and boiling water, add chicken and boil for 20 minutes. Remove from water and cut chicken into 1″ pieces.
2. Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add garlic and sage to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes.
4. Add kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle flour over, stir in broth, and mix to combine.
5. Add squash and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is just softened and broth is thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Add chicken to skillet, stir, and season with salt and pepper.
6. Spoon chicken mixture and gravy into individual oven-proof dishes. Unfold pastry and smooth any creases. Depending on the size of your serving dishes, cut the pastry to the shape and size of dish with 1″ of excess dough to hang over side of dish. Place over dish allowing corners to hang over sides. Whisk 1 egg and 1 tsp water in a small bowl. Brush pastry with egg wash; cut 4 slits in top of pastry to vent.
7. Bake pot pie until pastry is beginning to brown, 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake until pastry is deep golden brown and crisp, 15 minutes longer, Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

*Original recipe from Bon Appétit.

Green Bean Casserole

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I’m gonna be really honest…I don’t like green beans or green bean casserole. But…it is a Thanksgiving staple, right? So I wanted to give it a shot. I wanted to try a recipe that had a bit more flavor and this recipe did the trick with a rich, creamy, nutmeg wine sauce. Part of this recipe is making your own French fried onions, you could easily cut this step out (don’t buy the shallots and vegetable oil, instead buy the canned French fried onions) and make this recipe even easier. Also, I made this in my cast iron skillet but you can use a baking dish instead.

Green Bean Casserole
1 1/2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup shallots, thinly sliced
(can substitute previous 2 ingredients with canned French fried onions)
3 Tbsp flour, divided
8 ozs mushrooms (shitake, bella or crimini), sliced
2 Tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 cup half and half

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Wash and trim green beans. Blanch in boiling, well-salted water for 3 minutes. Immediately transfer to ice water bath and set aside.
3. Heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep, medium skillet. (skip this step if using pre-made French fried onions)
4. Pat shallots dry, then toss with 1 Tbsp flour. Season with salt and pepper. Fry shallots in oil (in batches) until golden brown, then transfer to a plate to drain on a paper towel.
5. Melt butter over medium heat in a medium pan or cast iron skillet. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are golden brown.
6. Add garlic and nutmeg and cook for another minute or two. Add 2 Tbsp of flour and cook for 1 minute.
7. Slowly add white wine, cook for a minute and stir to break up any flour lumps. Slowly add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture for another 2 minutes then turn the heat down to medium-low.
8. Add half & half and cook, stirring, until mixture begins to thicken. Take off heat.
9. Add green beans to mushroom mixture. Add 1/4 cup of fried shallots. Mix to combine and season with salt & pepper. Transfer green bean mixture to 9×9 baking dish or bake in a cast iron skillet. Sprinkle remaining on top of casserole. Bake for 20 minutes until green beans are warmed and mixture is bubbly.

*Original recipe from Plum Pie

Fall Harvest Salad

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My friend Janine texted me one day about a homemade salad dressing, saying that I HAD to try it. Of course I believed that it would be tasty and that I would like it, but for whatever reason, I didn’t try out the recipe. A few weeks later, Janine and her hubby were at our house for the weekend. We were getting ready to eat dinner, I was asking what kind of salad dressing everyone wanted on their salad and Janine quickly whipped up this Maple Vinaigrette Dressing.

I mean…this dressing has changed my salads forever!!!

This is another recipe for your Thanksgiving table, course #1 to get everyone started, a beautifully colored and incredibly full-flavored fall salad.

Maple Vinaigrette Dressing
Makes 1 1/2 cups dressing
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 cup olive oil

1. Combine balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and salt & pepper together in a blender or food processor.
2. With blender or food processor running, add olive oil in a steady stream, to combine.

Fall Harvest Salad
1/2 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 1/2″ wedges
olive oil
salt & pepper
4 cups spinach
1/2 cup shaved parmesan
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place squash on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
2. In a large bowl, toss spinach with 1/4 cup of Maple Vinaigrette Dressing (more to taste if desired).
3. Top spinach with squash, parmesan, pecans and cranberries. Toss to combine and serve.

Sweet Potato Fries w/Lime Mayo

IMG_3132I am really struggling with my time management this week. Do you ever feel extremely overwhelmed with everything you need to do but yet the overwhelming feeling makes you just want to ignore everything rather than motivate you to get it all done? Most of the time, I feel like I’m pretty good at self-motivating and checking things off my to-do list. Not the case this week. I came home from work last night so overwhelmed with all I needed to accomplish that my husband just looked at me sideways and stayed out of my way. Oops…

Anyway, with a full week of work packed into 4 days, a mid-week trip to California, wedding dress shopping for with my little sister and life in general, I’ve decided that it’s time to get back on track with my trusty planner.

On a completely unrelated topic, somehow, I could eat about 3 lbs of these sweet potato fries and still not feel guilty. They are DE-LI-CIOUS paired with the lime mayo, the flavors blend so well, you’re friends and family will think you went to culinary school! AND…they only take 30 minutes, start-to-finish, so they’re great for week nights too.

Sweet Potato Fries w/Lime Mayo
2 large sweet potatoes cut into 1/2″ strips
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp finely grated lime zest
2 tsp fresh lime juice
chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potatoes and oil on a foil-lined large baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, 25-30 minutes
3. While potatoes cook, whisk mayonnaise, lime zest and juice in a small bowl. Refrigerate until fries are ready to serve.
4. Season fries with salt, top with cilantro, and serve with lime mayo for dipping.

*Original recipe from Bon Appétit.

Broccoli & Pecorino Pesto Spaghetti Squash

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Well! What a week, full of ups and downs! I accepted a new job that I am so excited about! Don’t you worry, I have every intention of keeping this blog going but was feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of essentially working a full-time job while still keeping this “part-time hobby” going. I’ve had so much fun this summer with my DIY projects, remodeling and cooking and getting to share it all with you on this site but have been stressing about scheduling and juggling it all. I put this aside for a bit as we traveled to Napa Valley last weekend for a beautiful family wedding and got to spend time with some of my husband’s family, such a great time! It was also there that I experienced my first big earthquake, as you may have seen on the news. Quite the eventful weekend. We returned home and I learned that one of my recipe posts, Parmesan Fritter Salad with Bacon Buttermilk Dressing, would be featured by the National Pork Board on their social media sites, a very cool thing for a new blogger like myself. I felt reinvigorated about the blog and confident that I could keep this thing going. At the end of this last week the website was down for a day and once it was back up and running, our internet decided to crash (possibly because I bumped the cords on the Wi-Fi router while I was painting…meh, what are you gonna do?) We are finally back up and running and I’m ready for a new week!

I made this pasta for dinner when we got back from Napa, after a weekend full of yummy food and lots of wine, our bodies needed a healthy meal. I don’t love pesto, I’m pretty sure it’s because of the pine nuts, so when I saw this recipe that used broccoli and pecorino rather than pine nuts and parmesan I had to give it a try. Of course, I substituted spaghetti squash for pasta noodles. I think on my next “pasta dish” I may give zoodles a try…any one tried that before? Anyway, this dish turned out to be delicious and I will most certainly make it again.

Broccoli & Pecorino Pesto Spaghetti Squash
Serves 2
For the spaghetti squash:
1 large spaghetti squash
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Using a large slicer or chef’s knife, cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove and discard the seeds from the center of the squash. Rub the 2 halves of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Place squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until center is soft.
4. Once the squash is finished cooking, remove from the oven, turn it over and use a fork to remove the inside “noodles” from the squash.

For the pesto:
2 heads of fresh broccoli, florets removed from stems
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp grated fresh lemon rind
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup) plus more for topping

1. Steam the broccoli florets. This can be done in a vegetable steamer, in the microwave or my choice, in a stock pot fitted with a basket steamer. Microwave method would be to put florets into a bowl with about 1 1/2 inches water in the bottom and cook for approx, 5 minutes, until broccoli is soft. Stock pot method, fill stock pot halfway with water, bring to a boil, place florets in basket steamer, cover pot with a lid and steam for approx. 10 minutes.
2. Once broccoli is steamed, combine it with the remaining ingredients in a food processor, pulse until finely chopped. With processor on, add 3/4 cup warm water through the food chute until sauce reaches desired consistency.
3. Place sauce in a large bowl, add noodles, and toss to combine. Serve immediately topped with more shredded pecorino cheese and a few extra basil leaves.

*Original recipe from Cooking Light