Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Green Onion + Dill Quinoa

Quinoa is a staple pantry item in our house. It's the healthier of the grains and is packed with protein which is an added bonus. I love using quinoa as a salad base. I toss it with fresh chopped vegetables and a simple vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. I always make extra so that I have a few days of lunches to enjoy, too. For those of you who make your own baby food, I also mix quinoa into Will's vegetable purees and he loves it!

This quick and simple quinoa dish has quickly become a Summer favorite around here. It makes a tasty side paired with grilled meat and veggies and can be made ahead to serve cold, or at room temperature. In fact, if it sits for a bit, the flavor only gets better. Fresh dill makes all the difference. A bed of this topped with a piece of cedar plank grilled Salmon would be divine. 

Green Onion + Dill Quinoa
recipe from Cooking Light

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Rinse and drain quinoa. In a heavy bottom saucepan on medium-high heat, combine water and quinoa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and the quinoa can be fluffed with a fork. Stir in green onions and dill. 

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa and mix together. Serve at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Charlotte Eats: Va da Vie Gelato

After a rooftop (all-American) lunch at JJ's Red Hots on the Fourth of July, Mark had the genius idea to stop for a sweet treat on the way home. Va da Vie opened about 8 weeks ago and we have been anxious to treat ourselves.  I am not a gelato professional, and am definitely not an expert, but this stuff is the real deal. During my family's 2007 trip to Italy, gelato was a daily indulgence and the gelato I enjoyed at Va da Vie was as fresh and authentic as any I had while in the Motherland. 

I had a scoop of Lemon Ricotta and Mark doubled up with Stracitella and Bacio, all of which were incredibly delicious. Will was a huge fan as well. What a good little Italian baby!

Va da Vie is locally owned, and the gelato is made from scratch daily. Best of all, the owners source local ingredients. This gem of a gelato shop is located in the Park Road Shopping Center in a small building on the edge of the large parking lot.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Saturday Summer Cooking Demos at Pour Olive

For all of you reading in Charlotte, my favorite Dilworth spot, Pour Olive, is hosting Saturday cooking demos all Summer long. This Saturday (June 28), from 2-4pm, find out how to include Pour Olive's premium oils and vinegars into your fourth of July eats. 

Come hungry and thirsty. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and adult beverages will be served. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summertime Sips

You never have to convince me to join Happy Hour, especially in the summer. Impromptu end of day cocktails with friends may be one of my favorite little things in life, especially in the summer. Whether it's meeting at a local pub, or gathering around on someone's screened in porch, Summertime Happy Hour is never a bad idea. 

It's H-O-T here in Charlotte and light and refreshing drinks are a must! I'm usually a red wine girl but drink more white in the summer because they are crisp and cool. Here are some of my favorite sips lately.

Leinenkugel Summer Shandy- Goes down like water! It's light and refreshing without being too sweet on the lemon. A perfect Summer beer, in my opinion.

Margaritas- DUH. My favorite recipe, better known as the Markarita, is our absolute favorite. If you are looking for something with a little more umph, these Margaritas on the Rocks are INCREDIBLE. I made a pitcher for Mark's birthday this year and the only complaint was that we didn't make more. 

La Croix- I rarely drink pop, but sometimes I need bubbles and regular water just doesn't cut it. I love this stuff! It's the ultimate pool or beach beverage as it doesn't leave you feeling bloated like a beer does. The lime is my latest favorite. It almost tastes like a Bud Lime...without the Bud. 

Apothic White- Again, white wine rarely makes an appearance in my wine glass, except for the Summer. This white blend is slightly sweet with really bright flavors. 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Veggie Salad

Summer cooking just may be my favorite. Mark mans the grill, and I have extra time to focus on tasty salads and side bites. Vegetables on the grill are seriously the best. With a little olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh produce is transformed into charred goodness while still maintaining that crispy crunch. 

If you are looking for fresh new recipes to add to your Summer menus, go ahead and put this one at the top of the list. I want to eat this every day. This salad embodies everything that perfect Summer recipes are made of. Fresh ingredients, bright flavors and bold colors. I cannot get enough. 

The best thing about this recipe is that you can add your favorite farmer's market finds! I think cauliflower, asparagus, tomatoes and even roasted beets would be fantastic additions. The light lemon and olive oil mixture that finishes off the vegetables is killer and the shaved Manchego on top is everything. A heaping plateful of this almost makes me forget that I love meat.

Summer Veggie Salad
recipe from Cooking Light

8-10 baby bella mushrooms, halved
1 red onion, cut into 8 sections
2 ears shucked corn
1 large red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
1 medium zucchini, cut into large chunks
1 large yellow squash, cut into large chunks
olive oil for drizzling

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Manchego cheese, shaved (for garnish)

Prep your grill.

In order to cook the corn a bit before grilling, wrap each ear in a wet paper towel. Place on a plate and microwave for about three minutes.

In a large bowl, toss all vegetables in olive oil and season with cracked pepper. Using a grill saute pan, cook vegetables on the grill for 5-10 minutes, until nice and charred. When the corn is cool, cut off of the cob. 

In a small bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, mustard, thyme, pepper and salt. Toss in a bowl with the grilled vegetables. Serve with shaved Manchego on top. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Little Will: 12 Months!

Sweet little Will is TWELVE MONTHS OLD! I will spare you the "time goes by too fast" detailed sentences, but that statement is so true. It's been the fastest, yet best year ever and I still cannot believe that this little boy is ours to keep forever. We celebrated Will's first birthday with our families on his actual birthday and had a big party the Saturday after. I will post photos from both soon.

During Will's twelfth month, I found myself saying "this time last year" daily. The month before he arrived is still so vivid in my mind and I cannot believe an entire year has passed. Those delirious new parents of a newborn days seem so far away but re-living them through photos remind me of just how happy we were to become a family of three.

Will continues to be perfect in every way! At his one year appointment, he weighed 20 pounds, 7.5 ounces and was measuring in at 29 inches long. He did not enjoy this visit AT ALL. In fact, he cried harder, louder and longer than I have ever heard him cry in his entire life. Poor little buddy. But the good news is that he is happy and healthy and thriving...and according to our awesome pediatrician, is just like every other one year old in the world and hates going to the doctor.

This past month, Will started pulling himself up to a standing position with assistance. He pulls up on everything these days and is so proud of himself. I love watching him become more and more confident. His personality is hilarious and I think he is going to be a constant little entertainer who loves being in the spotlight. Hmmm...no clue where he gets that one from.

Will's little voice is becoming more and more clear as he figures out sounds and intonations as he communicates with us. He copies so many things that we do and it's so funny to watch. His "talking" is just about the cutest thing ever and I love listening to him babble in his crib when he wakes up from his naps. He says "da-da-da" all day long and when I answer with "ma-ma-ma", he just keeps saying "da-da-da". He'll get it one day soon, I hope! He loves reading, bath time, anything with wheels and listening to Hakuna Matata.

Last month, Will enjoyed yet another trip to Boone to watch Aunt Natalie graduate from Appalachian State! Nat was an all-star Mountaineer and was able to get us front-row, VIP tickets to the graduation ceremony. Will was pretty much in heaven and provided the graduates with some free entertainment. Natalie is going to the be the very best third grade teacher and we are so proud of her. 

My aunt and uncle made the trip to North Carolina for graduation and little Will just loved them! This was the first time they met Will and it was so special to see them together.

Will's little social life never stops! We see our friends often and there is always fun to be had. We went to the strawberry patch in mid-May and had so much fun. He still loves our once a week music class, story time at the library, and our new favorite activity, music with Mr. Nigel. 

I have been working with Will and his sippy cup for a few months now, and he FINALLY got the hang of it. We stopped by my grandma's house for lunch after music a few weeks ago, and something must have clicked. He would take a sip and put his cup down and clap in my grandma's face- such a proud little boy! He's been sipping like a champ ever since.

We celebrated Memorial day with my family and some of our friends and Captain America stole the show. Another festive piece of Target Dollar Spot head gear for the win!

At the end of the month, our neighborhood hosted its annual Spring picnic! It was so much fun to have Will with us this year. At last year's picnic, I was two days overdue and my belly was bursting at the seams. That night, we hung out at our neighbors until the wee hours of the morning and everyone kept planning scenarios of what they would do if I went into labor. Little did they know, I would be on my way to the hospital at 10am the following morning and that less than 24 hours later, we would have our little baby Will! My how fast things can change. 

Oh, William Michael. We love you to the moon and back and have cherished each day of your first year. We cannot believe how much you have grown and changed before our eyes and we are so proud of the little person that you are already becoming.

Being your parents is the greatest thing in the entire world and we cannot wait to see what year number two brings.

Happy 12 months, little one!

*Special thanks to Aunt Jen {The Polka Dot Posie} for the cute monthly stickers. Thanks for making our monthly photo shoots a little more fun! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Little Will!

It's official...baby Will is a year old! How did that happen!?

A year ago today, the most perfect and beautiful baby boy made his way into the world and our lives were forever changed. It's crazy to me how fast an entire year has gone by, although it seems like we have been a family of three forever.  

We can't wait to celebrate this sweet little one all week long. What a wonderful year it has been- truly the best ever. Happy Birthday, William Michael!