Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Cookbook Club: Cooking for Jeffrey

Happy love day and happy first day of the Cookbook Club linkup! We're so excited to have you here and see what you all have cooked from Ina's book. Don't forget to use the linkup tool at the bottom of this post to participate in the linkup and share your recipe! 

This Maple Roasted Carrot Salad has been on my radar for awhile and I was excited to give it a try. Ina is my go-to girl in the kitchen, especially when it comes to salads. Ina said this may be her "favorite salad ever". Twist my arm! Ina, all of your salads are my favorites ever. I love that her salads are always filled with simple ingredients and TONS of flavor. Fresh greens, sweet roasted carrots and a simple vinaigrette? What's not to love.

I served this with a roasted pork tenderloin and roasted baby red potatoes. It was the perfect salad and added beautiful color on our plates. This would be a great salad to serve at a dinner party. I skipped on the goat cheese and almonds because I forgot to add them to my grocery list this week but it was still delicious! I also added some chopped romaine to thicken it up. There are so many layers of flavor going on here and I'm completely smitten with this salad. You better believe I will add those in the next time I make this- which will be soon! 

The recipe below comes straight from the book. I cut back on the amounts as I only made enough for two servings. I also subbed baby carrots for the regular size ones because that's what I had on hand. Enjoy!

Maple Roasted Carrot Salad
recipe via Ina Garten's Cooking for Jeffrey

2 pounds carrots
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pure grade A maple syrup
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
3 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated on a Mircoplane
6 ounces baby arugula
6 ounces goat cheese
2/3 cup roasted, salted Marcona almonds

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Trim and scrub the carrots and cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them into large diagonal slices. Place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Transfer to a sheet pan, making sure they have room to spread out. Use two sheet pans if necessary. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. 

Once they are done, toss right on the sheet pan with the maple syrup and roast for another 10-15 minutes until the edges are caramelized. Be sure to watch them every few minutes. Toss them with a spatula and let them sit aside for 10 minutes. 

Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, then set aside for 10 minutes. 

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whisk in 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Place the arugula in a large bowl. Add the cranberries (with their liquid), goat cheese, almonds and the vinaigrette. Toss together and sprinkle with salt if needed. Serve at room temperature. 

In case you are planners like we are, we have chosen the cookbooks for the next two months! March's book will be Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  April's book will be Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I'm so excited to cook from both of these books! 

Thank you for participating this month and we look forward to meeting you all back here in March! 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

{Cook}Book Club

I'm excited to kick off February with a little something new I'm doing in collaboration with my friend Allie over at Key Ingredients! We have been talking about doing a link up for awhile and we are finally making it happen. Allie is a dear friend and we met almost five years ago when our oldest children were just tiny babies and we instantly bonded over our love of food. 

We both have a passion for cooking and making healthy meals for our families. A cookbook link up was a no- brainer when we started talking about this idea of creating a link up!

Here's what we'll do. Every month, we will choose a cookbook to cook from. If you want to participate, pick your favorite or new recipe from the book and make it! On the second Wednesday of each month, we will all link up to my blog or Allie's and share what we've made! Don't have the specific book? No problem! So many of these wonderful recipes can also be found online. Take photos of your finished dish and tell a little bit about it. Add in a review of the recipe and any notes on changes or anything that you may have done or would do differently. Post the recipe if you would like and make sure to credit the book/source!

To kick off our Club, we are turning to one of our very favorites- Ina Garten! Her recipes are some sort of magic and she is a favorite among the both of us. It only seems fitting that we use her newest cookbook, Cooking For Jeffrey, as our pick for the month of love. This cookbook is packed full of delicious recipes and even better stories. If you are a fan of Ina and Jeffrey, you will LOVE this book. It focuses so much on them as a couple with beautiful stories intertwined with the recipes. It's a book you can use in the kitchen AND curl up on the couch with. The stories are wonderfully written!

We hope to see many of you here next Wednesday, which also happens to be Valentine's Day! This gives you a week to find something yummy to make and post. We can't wait to see what everyone is cooking! 

- Nina and Allie

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thursday Things

We have thawed out from our wonderful and unexpected Snowcation last week and back to our regularly scheduled programming. Charlotte is known for mis-forecasting these things so the amount of snow that we got was a true surprise! 

Local schools closed on Tuesday night in preparation of the storm and it snowed pretty much all day on Wednesday, giving us three consecutive snow days. We did all of the snow day things! Snow angels, snowmen, hot chocolate, Christmas music and lots of snuggling. 

Right before our snowy week, Mark and I spent the weekend in Asheville with friends and it was just what we needed. We stayed at the most spectacular house that used to operate as an inn/bed and breakfast. Everything was decorated so ornate and quirky and it was all sorts of magical. 

A perfectly relaxing weekend with lots of good food, wonderful friends, sparkly snowy skies and THE BEST AVOCADO TOAST OF LIFE. Seriously, if you find yourself in the Asheville area, please enjoy brunch at Sunny Point Cafe. The avocado toast and Bloody Mary will change you for the better.  

We aren't doing a true January Whole 30, but we are trying to stick to it as much as we can. I've found a few new recipes that have been hits with all of us!

- Smoky Chicken Burgers from No Crumbs Left
- Marinated Onions from No Crumbs Left
- Chicken Pesto Paleo Spaghetti Squash from Paleo Running Momma
- Steak with Mixed Olive Tapenade from Cooking Light

I purchased this CC Cream from it Cosmetics a few weeks ago and I am LOVING it. This product has a cult following and it definitely lives up to the hype. Perfect for everyday but still enough coverage if you want a "full face". It's better than a tinted moisturizer but less heavy than a traditional foundation. 

I'm still not giving up on the Golden Milk Latte. This recipe from Ambitious Kitchen is next on my list and I have high hopes. 

SHISHITO PEPPERS! Where have these been all my life. We had these in Asheville and I'm obsessed. Apparently these are hard to find in grocery stores but Trader Joe's almost always has them in stock. Blistered in olive oil and sprinkled with a little sea salt- SO GOOD. I'll be adding these to our regular rotation.

And lastly, a special thank you to Justin Timberlake for this new music!!! I pre-ordered the entire album and it's like a happy little treat the past few weeks as each new song is released. I'm a number one fan for life.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Golden Milk Latte

If I have to have a vice, I feel like coffee isn't the worst of the worst. I have a cup and a half to two cups in the morning and usually a cup around 3 in the afternoon. This is partially for the caffeine and partially because my sweet tooth hits me hard around this time of day and coffee helps that! I won't give up my coffee all together, but I'm all for making "healthier" choices and cutting back where I can. 

I'm not fully on board with the golden milk lattes but I love a good health food trend and am always willing to try them out. Turmeric is what packs the big punch here. It has tons of great health benefits including having anti-inflammatory benefits and increasing the antioxidant capacity in your body. I won't be giving up my afternoon coffee all together but I will definitely be drinking these every so often as a little health boost! 

If you're looking for other ways to get your turmeric in, this detox tea is one of my very favorites in the winter. 

Golden Milk Latte

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of black pepper
2 tsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. pure maple syrup

In a small saucepan, heat almond milk until it's hot but not boiling. Add turmeric, ginger and cinnamon and whisk to combine. Add the coconut oil and pepper and whisk until the coconut oil melts. Add in maple syrup, plus more for added sweetness if you like. Pour into a cup and drink up! 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hello, 2018 + First Meal Plan of the New Year!

Two thumbs up for a peppermint latte but two thumbs down for no more red cups. 

If I'm being honest, the end of the holiday season always leaves me feeling a little sad. We wait and wait and wait for this time of year and then it passes us by in a blink! We soaked it all in and truly enjoyed the season but I always wish it could last a little it longer. Our twinkly tree is still thriving and glowing and we are enjoying it through the rest of this week. I need a few more snuggly nights by my tree with a Hallmark movie playing in the background. I even made a "Winter playlist" to ease me back in because I can't stop with the Christmas music abruptly. 

I do love the fresh start of a new year, though! We have been in vacation mode for awhile now and it will be nice to get back to early mornings in the gym, routine and my favorite- MEAL PLANNING! We aren't doing a true Whole 30 in January but I'm trying to keep our meals mostly Whole 30. I've found Instagram to be a huge resource for meal ideas and I have so many friends who are on board as well so I always have people to recipe swap with. 

Here's what's on our menu this week:

Chicken Picatta + Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts + Salad

Cajun Salmon + Green Beans + Roasted Red Potatoes

Hawaiian Chicken Burgers + Roasted Sweet Potato Fries + Salad

Sausage + Greens Roasted Veggie Bowls 

Turkey Taco Spaghetti Squash

Sushi Takeout (I have been craving this for WEEKS!)

If you are looking for healthy recipe inspiration for the New Year, here are a few of my favorites to follow:

No Crumbs Left
Pretend It's a Donut
Ambitious Kitchen
The Defined Dish
Pinch of Yum

Also related to the start of the new year, I just jumped onboard with Emily Ley's 2018 Simplicity Challenge. I'm a few days behind but luckily, the past three days have been easy to catch up with. Today's challenge was to clean up your phone! It sounds a little silly, but it felt so good. I deleted apps that I don't use, turned off almost all notifications and organized everything into folders. I also deleted old contacts and moved time sucking apps to the last page of my phone. You can follow the challenge on Instagram by following @emilyley and #simplicitychallenge2018. (not sponsored- just loving the idea of incorporating this in January)

Cheers to a great 2018!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Cookies for Santa!

It's the most magical night of the year and the little ones in our house are patiently waiting for the big man in red to make his arrival. We are looking forward to a wonderful couple of days with family and soaking it all in together. 

It's not too late to make cookies for Santa! My baking assistants went a little sprinkle crazy, but I don't think that Santa will mind one bit! They also insisted that he get a dinosaur and a unicorn on his plate. 

This sugar cookie recipe from Everyday Annie is my go to and never fails. The lemon zest gives them a little something extra and is my favorite addition. I skipped the royal icing and just did a simple frosting with 1 cup of milk + 2-3 Tablespoons of milk. I separated frosting into a couple of bowls and then colored each one using this gel food coloring

Simple Sugar Cookie Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. whole milk
gel food coloring

In a bowl, combine powdered sugar and milk and stir until it reaches the right consistency- make sure it isn't too runny! Add more milk or sugar as needed. Divide into bowls and add food coloring- then you are ready to decorate! 

P.S. Sprinkles are necessary.

Wishing you all much joy, peace and love as you celebrate this Christmas! Merry Christmas Eve!!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Faves

Checking in on this wintry afternoon with a little edition of Friday Faves. It's such a cozy day here which is always welcome at the end of the week. I'll take any excuse to snuggle in for the day. 

I cannot get enough of these Bulletproof Peppermint Mochas! I'm normally not a sweet coffee drinker, but Starbucks Peppermint Lattes call my name this time of year. It's the best festive treat. Thankfully, this homemade version is so easy to whip up and much healthier, too! A perfect mid-afternoon treat. Plus with the addition of collagen- PROTEIN! (and good hair, skin and nails, too)

Attention moms and dads...World Market sells pre-built gingerbread house kits! I seriously love these people. All we had to do was decorate, which really is the best part of it all anyways. 

Look at all of this beautiful, fresh greenery! We are team real tree in our house and over the past few years I've started using more and more fresh greenery during the Christmas season. I added fresh eucalyptus to my pine garland last year and loved it so much that I recreated it this year! I usually do a refresh halfway through the season but Trader Joe's makes it easy. 

I'm ready to do some Christmas cookie baking! I think I may have been Santa in a past life because this time of year I ALWAYS want to end the day in my pajamas, sitting by the Christmas tree with a glass of milk and some cookies. Sally's Baking Addiction is my go to for ALL THE TREATS. 

Stuffed Mushrooms are never a bad idea. 

If you're local to Charlotte, here's a link to 25 Picks for where to see Christmas lights in Charlotte! And here's my own little list of favorites that I posted here last year. 

We have a giant magnolia tree in our backyard and I've always had grand plans of using the leaves to make beautiful things. I finally got a little crafty with them and now I can't stop. I made swags for our garage lanterns and a big wreath for inside. I also did a swag for our mailbox and added some greens from our tree. Maybe I'll attempt some garland next!? I got a ton of questions about the wreath when I posted a picture of it on Instagram stories so maybe I will post a tutorial next week.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!