Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moore March Madness

March is always one of my favorite months and the 2011 edition was filled with treats, lovies and extra happiness! Andi and Ozzie showed up at our doorstep, I spent a long weekend in D.C. with my very best friend and my parents got to enjoy a few days with the Newlyweds! Somewhere in between all of that, I went over the mid twenties hump and blew out 26 candles.

The month started out with a visit from Andi who spent her entire spring break with us! Besides treating her like a Queen during her week off of P.A. school, we spent a fantatsic Saturday in Chicago, got her hooked on this season's Americal Idol and ate our way through approximately 5 cartons of ice cream. God bless Mark for surviving an entire 10 days of the sistership. If only Nat could have escaped from Boone for a week retreat in the Midwest. The trio is not quite the same when it's not complete.

A week later, I hopped on a plane to the nation's capital to spend an extra long weekend with my soul sister, MOD!! The weekend was spent celebrating the engagement of Meghan and her Prince Charming, Scott and we also snuck in some wedding dress shopping and quality time together. It's another year of wedding love and I am so excited to be a part of this one!! My heart is so happy and full and when the same goes for dear friends, life is that much sweeter.

As soon as I got home from MOD & Scott's love nest, it was time to get our own love nest ready for my parents' visit. They arrived in the evening on my birthday- just in time to celebrate! We spent the entire weekend eating wonderful food, relaxing and enjoying being together. I have to admit, I was a tad nervous about cooking up some delicious meals for the two people that have had the most influence on my kitchen skills. I even told my dad at one point that cooking a meal for him was like a new Priest saying mass for the Pope! I must say though, MFN and SLN were impressed and even asked for seconds. Giada's Lamb Ragu with mint and Emeril's Basil Lemon sorbet both got RAVE reviews. I have also been lucky enough to enjoy the same birthday cake for the past 26 years! Angel Food with White Mountain frosting and sprinkles! It's a lovie birthday tradition and the famous Nido cake made its usual appearance. Thanks, Mom!! The older I get, I realize that my parents are still my parents, but have turned into the most wonderful friends. Bottom line- I have the coolest parents ever!

Another reason to celebrate in March- Mark and I have been married for 6 months...half of a year! I remember thinking on our wedding day that it really couldn't get much better but I am here to tell you that each day is better than the last. My heart is so full!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sesame Seared Tuna

Who says a weeknight gourmet dinner is unattainable and too time consuming? With the 12 ingredients listed below and a couple pieces of gorgeous sushimi tuna, this beautiful meal can land on your dinner plate in well under 30 minutes. I wow-ed Mark with this one and he even admitted it might be one of his favorite bites yet!

Sesame Seared Tuna with Wasabi-Ponzu Sauce

recipe from Cooking Light

1 Tbsp. chopped green onions 2 Tbsp. low- sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. lemon zest

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. honey

1 1/4 tsp. wasabi paste

1 tsp. grated, peeled fresh ginger

2 tsp. olive oil

3 Tbsp. sesame seeds

1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

2-4 Sashimi grade Tuna Steaks

Combine first 10 ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Now introduce yourslef to one of the very best dipping sauces you will ever encounter. Ever. Now set aside and resist the urge to slurp up the sauce by drinking straight from your small mixing bowl.

Heat a quick pour of olive oil in a medium non-stick skillet on medium heat. Combine seeds in a shallow dish. Splash a small amount of soy sauce on each sides of the tuna steaks, just enough to get it wet. Create a "dipping station", shown above, and dredge tuna in sesame seeds, coating the entire steak. Sear for 3 minutes on each side. Serve with Wasabi-Ponzu sauce.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Perfecting the Art of Pizza

Mark and I ADORE pizza. It's the #1 comfort food in our house and we have quickly turned into connaisseurs. It's one of those foods you can get creative with and you all know how much I love to play. Thanks to my Kitchen Aid Mixer and years of watching my mom, I have gotten our homemade dough down to an art and we haven't had a reason to eat pizza out since. With a good dough hook at my fingertips, a couple of hours to let the dough rise and my Williams-Sonoma pizza stone, I am now a firm believer that there is no other way to enjoy this Italian staple. I have been using a simple Emeril Lagasse recipe for my dough and have had a nice winning streak with it. I also recommend investing in a good pizza stone. Purchasing one of these combined with making your own dough will forever change your relationship with pizza.

Last night, I let one of my favorite menu items from Ilios Noche serve as the inspiration and added a few things of my own. The end result was a crusty carb-loaded foundation topped with earthy-deliciousness that is mushrooms and salty prosciutto. Topped with Locatelli cheese and fresh arugula, the layers of flavor will blow you away.

Roasted Mushroom Pizza with Arugula & Prosciutto

Baby bella mushrooms
6 slices prosciutto, torn
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Baby arugula (a few handfulls, plus extra to top the pizza when it's done)
Olive oil
Locatelli, Parmesean, or Romano cheese (shaved)

Slice mushrooms and place on a baking sheet. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Top pizza dough (recipe below) with half of the mozzarella, then cover with baby arugula. Arrange mushrooms and prosciuto evenly and top with the rest of the mozzarella. If using a preheated pizza stone, bake at 500 degrees for 8 minutes. Cut in slices and serve with a handful of fresh arugula atop the pizza slice and sprinkle with shaved Locatelli cheese. For a Vegetarian friendly pizza, skip the prosciutto!

Pizza Dough
recipe from Emeril Lagasse
(makes one large pizza)

1 cup warm water
1 packet dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/4 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. salt

To the bowl of an electric mixer, add the warm water and yeast. Stir to dissolve the yeast, then add in the sugar and dissolve as well. Add the olive oil, salt one cup of flour at a time. Slowly add flour as it mixes in. Mix the dough with a hook until the dough comes together and climbs up the dough hook. Let rise for 1-2 hours (less time for a thin crust pizza).

NOTE: I am madly in love with my pizza stone and won't cook my pizza any other way now. For the perfect "stone oven" at home pizza, preheat the pizza stone in the oven at 500 degrees. Meanwhile, roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured counter top. Transfer to preheated stone, and top as desired. Bake on the second lowest rack of the oven for approximately 8 minutes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hello, Love!

Some girls hear the angel choirs singing when they open up "The Little Blue Box". Don't get me wrong, a sparkly treat from Tiffany's is nice, but "The Large Orange Box" made famous my Le Creuset has surpassed the blue box in my book! I feel like when it comes to the kitchen, I am finally legit.
I guess turning 26 does have its perks!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Don't Skip Dessert

What happens when you combine over-ripened bananas, an empty kitchen, a husband working late and a girl who never says no to dessert?

Banana Chocolate Chunk Blondies
Recipe from The Wannabe Chef

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup all purpose flour

Let oven preheat at 350 degrees. Cream butter and brown sugar until well whipped. Next, add in mashed banana, chocolate chips, vanilla extract and salt. Last, slowly mix in flour until just incorporated. Spread the batter in a small baking pan (9x9) and bake for 4o minutes, or until you can remove a clean toothpick and the edges are brown.

But wait, this is only getting better. In order to make this into the "perfect bite", your blondies need frosting. Duh! While the brownies are baking, whip up a batch of this super easy Fluffy Peanut Butter frosting to top your blonde banana beauties.

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
Recipe from
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsp. milk, or as needed
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat peanut butter and softened butter in a medium mixing bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar and when the mixture starts to get thick, add 1 Tablespoon of milk at a time until the frosting is delightfully fluffy and everything you have imagined.

Spread more than a dollop of frosting on warm blondies. Serve "Santa Style" (with ice cold milk).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Love Nesting: Gallery Walls

My creative wheels have been on non-stop, high-speed spin these past few weeks and not only do I have a long list of projects I want to tackle this Spring and Summer, but I now have a designated "love nest idea binder" that I have started to fill and organize with magazine clippings that inspire me. This week, I am obsessed with the idea of a gallery wall somewhere in our house. I love pictures and think that a proper display of them in a home really reflects the people that live there. I have been thinking about ways that I can incorporate some of our gorgeous wedding photos on our wall as "art" and I think a gallery wall just may be the perfect avenue. While sifting through all of the pictures I have bookmarked, I noticed a common theme: neat, organized and well thought out. Don't get me wrong, I love a whimsical arrangement of all shapes, sizes and mediums, but when it comes to our house, I love organization and clean lines. We loathe clutter around here!

These white frames look so crisp and tidy against the taupe walls. I love the varying sizes, fun mix of prints and it's not "too much".

I absolutely adore black and white pictures. And these oversized frames- LOVE.

This is my kind of gallery wall! Even, organized and a common theme throughout.

"Neat and orderly". Enough said.

Varying black frames with black and white photos is a nice, classic look.

Just plain fun.
And let me introduce you to another project I have been dying to make- a framed chalkboard! I do believe our kitchen needs one ASAP.

all images via {Google Images}

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Better than Take Out

It should come as no surprise that one of my favorite parts about being a newlywed is having someone to cook for! I have had a passion for the palate for as long as I can remember and sharing it makes my time in the kitchen that much more enjoyable. Next to running, my favorite way to wind down from a long workday is to pour a glass of wine, crank up the music and craft a meal. I am extremely lucky that Mark is willing to try just about anything. Most of the time I cook with Mediterranean flavors and inspiration but when we switch it up, I have found my next favorite ethnicity to taste test is Asian. I love the unique combination of flavors and I have found that it's almost always possible to make these Asian inspired dishes super healthy. There are always tons of fresh ingredients, lean protein and flavors that pop. With the help of a dear friend, I discovered this recipe today and knew that we had to eat it. Tonight.

Luckily, this oriental cooking kick has "Asian-ized" our kitchen and we are well stocked with all of the essentials, and then some. Why order take out when you can have the flavors handy and ready for use in your own kitchen!? I didn't even have to go to the store to cook up these little fellas. We ate our Asian meatballs over brown rice, topped with the sesame lime dipping sauce, located below. Don't even think about skipping out on the sauce- it's arguably the BEST part.

Once again, this took under an hour to prepare and as soon as I finish typing this, we'll be just in time to settle in for Glee. This recipe is a weeknight win!

Asian Turkey Meatballs
recipe from Skinny Taste

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 egg
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. minced ginger (I used pickled)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
Note: I have been keeping pickled ginger on hand lately and I am in LOVE. If you noticed the red specks in the meatballs in the photo above, that's the pickled ginger!

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together so that all of the goodness is incorporated. Form into balls that fit just in the cup of your hand. My batch made exactly 15 meatballs. Bake at 500 for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce

4 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. water
1 chopped scallion

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Italians in Happy Hour Heaven

Somedays, a Happy Hour is just more necessary than others. Today is one of them. Here's how Italians (and Italians in training, ahem...Mark) wind down after a long workday or in my almost- a- Physician- Assistant- sister Andi's case, a study marathon.

Compari + Tonic

Equal parts Compari and Diet Tonic Water (I always opt for a little more Compari)
Fresh Lime Twist
Pour over ice
Pretend you are sitting in an outdoor street cafe somewhere in the Motherland

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Add Happiness

Normally, I like to keep my little space on the interwebs fun and light but every now and then, something, or someone, sparks me to add a little something more. Every year, as the Lenten season begins, I find myself in a time of reflection and growing in my faith. This time also makes me to strive to be a little better in all aspects of my life. It is not because I am not concientious of these things every other day of the year, but Lent and Advent always seem to put me on "high alert". Ever since I was old enough to know the meaning of sacrifice, I have given up something for Lent. Chocolate, eating between meals, refraining from bad language. I even hid away my NSYNC CD's one year! A few years ago, I remember a conversation with my parents that sometimes it's not always about giving something up that is hard to live without, but rather adding something good. While at Ash Wednesday mass earlier today, the priest left us with something that I have been thinking about ever since: "This is God's world. We are just the temporary tenants. Do something good with it".
Earlier this week, I had a great conversation with a lovely friend about paying attention to the small things every day and for making sure we are thankful for the good things around us. It made us realize that no matter how happy and blessed your life is, there is always room to add! Around Christmas time, I expressed my desire to keep a gratitude journal. Something I would write in everyday to highlight everything I was thankful for during those 24 hours. I wish I could say that I was successful in my attempt but sadly, after the first few days of January, my journal remained in my nightstand drawer and has been there ever since. With a new season of Lent upon us, I have decided that now is as good a time as any to pick back up where I left off and continue journaling my gratitude for the next 40 days in hopes that I will not only continue, but that I will be so overwhelmed with gratitude that I will see more in my everyday life than ever before. I have an amazing husband, unbelieveable family and the very best friends possible. I owe the blessings in my life the reflection and thanks that they deserve. I thank God everyday, but I don't think it will ever be enough. It's been 24 hours and I already have a list of things I know I will be writing tonight before I go to sleep. It's amazing what one can notice if you just take in everything around you. (all the while I refrain from eating marshmellow Peeps until Easter!! And for those of you who know me, know this will not be easy for my sweeter than average sugar craving sweet tooth!!)

What can you do today to add happiness?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday Funfetti Fail

Do not let this sweet stack of pancakes topped with a flawless scoop of ice cream fool you. In our attempt to celebrate Fat Tuesday with Funfetti, we failed miserably. It's the effort that counts though, right? I have been wanting to try this recipe for awhile now but since Andi is the Funfetti Queen, I decided to wait until her visit to try these out. I learned from my English sister Sophie yesterday that it's a British tradition to eat pancakes on Fat Tuesday, and the sprinkles in the Funfetti reminded us of King Cake (which would have been a million times better than these), so naturally, we thought this was a winning idea. And paired with ice cream for dessert? We thought nothing could mess this up.

Wrong! Not only was the consistency not right for a nice pancake, but I am convinced that all of the sugary goodness in the mix just messed up the cooking process causing for very strange, blob-like, alien cakes. Maybe this recipe could have used more liquid? I am not really sure. But I am also not interested in trying again. Thanks to Andi for being the brave pancake flipper and laughing the entire time and another thanks to Mark for being wonderful and putting up with our sister shenanigans all week long!

Waffles and French Toast are the superior breakfast starches in my opinion. Now that I think of it, I have never been a pancake girl. Perhaps these little celebration cakes were doomed from the beginning. Some things are just meant to be enjoyed in their original form and should not be messed with. I'm adding Funfetti cake mix to that list. The recipe below is on loan from Sophie. This is the way pancakes should be enjoyed on Fat (Pancake) Tuesday!

Basic English Pancakes
recipe from Sophie Jones

1 3/4 cups All Purpose flour
1/2 tsp corse salt
2 cups whole milk (room temp)
3 eggs (room temp)
5 tblsp melted butter
Blend all together in your kitchen blender.
Have extra milk to adjust consistency. (I'm not using whole milk tonight)
I use pam spray for my pan, not butter or oil
Coat bottom of a hot skillet/pan with a thin layer of batter and let edges crsipen before flipping over. i always end up throwing the first two away b/c they don't work out.
Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar to serve.
Happy Pancake Tuesday!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nutella Ravioli

Ravioli for dessert. Plus, our good friend Nutella. I shouldn't have to try to convince you any longer. If there isn't Nutella in heaven, I don't want to go.

Although I stand firmly in my belief that Nutella is best enjoyed with only a spoon, there are always a few special circumstances that take the decadent chocolate hazelnut spread to a whole new level. My sister, Andi, is spending her Spring Break with us and I'm over the moon because not only does she provide amazing company and constant belly laughs, but dessert is a must when you have company in the house and we wouldn't want to break the rules while she is here. After a failed shopping trip on Saturday (failure= nothing was purchased), we made a quick trip to the store for a Tapas style dinner and a melt in your mouth dessert was a must on our list. Andi picked up some wonton wrappers and we both knew right away how they were going to be used. Our fist attempt at Giada's Nutella Raviolis five years ago almost set the Nido family kitchen on fire and we were ready to give these pearls another whirl. I never fry things in my kitchen so this took a little faith and extra love notes to God while we were prepping and frying! We couldn't have been more happy with the results and as usual, Mark's eyes popped out of his head when he was presented with these beside a giant scoop of delicious peanut butter ice cream. Once again, the genius of Giada never ceases to amaze me.

Nutella Ravioli

16 wonton wrappers

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 jar Nutella

Vegetable oil, for frying

Nonstick cooking spray

Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Place 1 wonton wrapper on the work surface. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with one egg. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of Nutella into the center of the wrapper. Fold diagnoally over the filling and press the edges of the wrapper to seal. Please the ravioli on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers and Nutella.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Add enough oil to a heavy frying or sauce pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat. Working with 3-4 ravioli at a time, carefully add to the hot oil and cook until they are golden brown, about 30-45 seconds per side.

The longer the oil was heating, the quicker the raviolis cooked. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked ravioli to another baking sheet, and keep them warm in the oven while frying the rest. Serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar and a scoop of ice cream.

Although, these pillows of perfection are just fine on their own.

Friday, March 4, 2011


It may have been Charlie Sheen's obnoxious use of the above term over the past week, but I came to a revelation of sorts this week in regards to my cooking: Winging it = Winning it! As I reflect on our meals over the past six months (yes, I keep a food journal), I realized that all of our very favorites have been either made up, interpreted, or tweaked from something I saw on the Food Network or decided looked good in Southern Living. Just give me the ingredients, and I'll figure out a way to get to the end result. The only problem with this method, is that I get so caught up in the moment, listening to my music, sipping my wine, and putting everything together, that I often forget to write down exactly what I did.

Cooking Light is a magazine I subscribe to, and is also a go-to website when I'm looking for new healthy weeknight recipe ideas that won't leave me stranded in the kitchen for hours after a long work day. I whipped this meal up in under an hour on Wednesday night and it was a WIN! The description of the recipe lured me in, but once I read through all of the steps, I neatly placed it back into my recipe binder. I had already swapped out squash for sweet potatoes and should have known that after that switch, it was all over! Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, and trust that your final result will just twirl on your taste buds. This surely did!

This might be the first time that I have posted an entire meal from start to don't let the lengthy directions scare you. I promise this was making its way to our bellies in under an hour!
Pan Roasted Chicken, Sweet Potatoes
and Chard Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

4 chicken leg quarters

1 fuji apple, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4 Swiss Chard leaves, thinly sliced
Bacon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Sweet Potatoes:
1 extra large sweet potato, cubed
Salt & pepper to season
1 Tbsp. real maple syrup

2 slices bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
Red wine vinegar
Olive oil

Start by pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken leg quarters in a baking dish. To prepare your chicken, combine salt and pepper in a bowl. Lift chicken skin and rub with salt and pepper mixture, and add some minced garlic. I also stuff a slice of lemon under the skin for extra flavor. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees.

Peel and cube the sweet potato, drizzle with very little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I sauteed these in a pan until they were beautifully caramelized and golden brown. If you don't want an extra thing to "babysit" while you are prepping your salad, roast them on a baking sheet and throw them in the oven with the chicken for about 25 minutes. When they are done, toss with 1 Tbsp. of pure maple syrup.

Meanwhile, combine swiss chard, sliced apples and lemon juice in a large bowl and toss together. Set aside.

To make the vinaigrette, cook two pieces of bacon until nice and crispy. When the bacon is done, remove from the pan and leave the bacon grease. This will be used as the oil portion of the vinaigrette. Do not turn the stove off, to keep the grease warm. Mince two cloves of garlic and sautee in the bacon oil. It will sizzle immediately so constantly stir it until the garlic is cooked. Add some red wine vinegar to de-glaze the pan and get all of the juicy bacon flavors. Toss the sliced mushrooms into the pan and coat with the vinaigrette. Serve warm over the chard salad.
Note: The bacon I used was extremely lean and did not yield a lot of oil while cooking. I added in about an extra tablespoon of olive oil to my vinaigrette.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dreamy DIY Project

I have been swooning over this DIY project ever since MOD sent it to me in a Valentine's Day e-mail. She knows me all too well and we decided not only did we did we have to each make our own, but they must be matching. I absolutely love this whimsical Anthropologie inspired look! Anything from Anthropologie makes my heart dance, twirl and beat abnormally and this wreath screams vintage deliciousness. Once I get an idea in my head, I obsess over it. So, after lusting over this wreath for approximately 72 hours until I finally had time to gather my supplies, I rushed to Michael's to pick up everything that I needed. Two weeks later, I have my very own (shown above) and I could not be happier with the end result. I finished this on Saturday but after a rainy, damp weekend, I decided our Spring wreath deserved a jovial day to make its grand appearance. We enjoyed its presence in our house for a few days but I have been dying to hang it up! Thankfully, the first day of March arrived today with sun and blue skies so I skipped outside and hung my DIY pride and joy. I think the branches of the grapevine wreath are perfect for this transitional time in the season and I just adore the ivory colored felt rosebuds. I found some smoky-sage green satin ribbon to top it off. Each rosebud is cut and rolled by hand and took a bit of time, but I just worked on it little by little until I was happy with my "cluster". I think I will be entering our house from the front door every day from now on!


  • 18" grapevine wreath
  • 8-10 sheets 9x12" felt (each sheet creates 4 rosettes, if you want more roses, buy more felt)
  • glue gun
  • scissors
  • CD
  • pencil


1. Fold felt sheet in half, then in half again, creating 4 layers.
2. Trace the CD onto the felt with a pencil (the CD will not fit on the entire space, but that is okay and makes the edges of the each of the roses unique- like snowflakes!)
3. Cut out the traced circle (I recommend using sewing scissors. Good scissors will allow you to cut through all four layers)
4. Spiral cut each circle, either a few at a time or one at a time.
5. Start from the inside and roll along the cut that you made.
6. Secure the ends with glue.
7. Once the roses are made, carefully decide the placement of the roses on your wreath and glue them in.

For a great picture tutorial, check out Linley's directions here.

Special thanks to the lovely blog girls Linley and Taylor for their inspiration for this project!