Thursday, April 28, 2011

Almost a Princess

I would be lying if I said I haven't become obsessed with the Royal Wedding. I brushed it off at first, pretending I have better things to worry about, but I was just lying to myself. Having watch William and Harry grow up before my very eyes and at the same time as me, I only find it appropriate to celebrate. I would be doing myself an injustice if I didn't. Besides, I'm a hopeless romantic who loves a dreamy love story and believes whole heartedly in happily ever after.

My alarm is set. Now all I have to do is find a good recipe for crumpets. And Kate's recipe for perfect hair.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thank You, Martha

I pull my recipe inspiration from all over the place but lately, my daily recipes from my Martha Stewart iPhone app have all proved to be dinnertime winners. Just as I was making my grocery list and menu for the week, my phone buzzed, as it does everyday at approximately 2:45pm and this recipe popped up. I made it Tuesday night and can't wait to make this gem again. I have found that one of my favorite things to use in my cooking is fruit. Our minds tell us that fruit should only be used in sweet dishes but I am a fan of mixing sweet and savory and using fruit in non-conventional ways. I have never paired mango with chicken but I can tell you now that I will be doing it more often. It was a sweet surprise in each bite and the fresh ginger and cilantro added an extra pop. To cut the heat, you could leave out the jalapeno all together but I love a little spice so I happened to add even more peppers than the recipe called for, and even left in the seeds! (the part of the pepper that really pops with heat)

Chicken with Mango & Ginger

Recipe from Martha Stewart

1 large mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch wedges

8 chicken cutlets (I used 4 chicken breasts and filleted them)

1 piece of fresh ginger (about 1 inch), peeled and cut into matchsticks

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 medium jalapeno pepper (I used 2)

Coarse salt and ground pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lime wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place mango wedges in center of four-inch-long pieces of parchment. Top with chicken, ginger, cilantro and jalapeno. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Fold parchment into a twist or envelope shape and tuck neatly. Place packets on a baking sheet and bake until packets are puffed up and chicken is cooked through. 18-20 minutes. (my chicken breast fillets were a bit thicker than cutlets, so I cooked for 25 minutes and it was perfect. Serve with lime wedges.

Tip for cooking with fresh ginger:

A friend of mine recently taught me this trick and I am obsessed. I now keep my fresh ginger in the freezer. I just pull it out when I'm ready to use it. Its easy to peel then just cut or grate!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I recently enjoyed a magical week in Charlotte, a fun-filled Bachelorette weekend in Charleston celebrating my dear friend Mary Katherine and have been trying out new recipes galore. I have so much to share and many things to blog but at seems as though I have become very distracted. Typically, after Mark and I enjoy a delicious dinner together, we settle in and relax for the rest of the night. This is usually the time I sit at my laptop and type up a little love to leave here on my blog but as of lately, my evenings have looked a little something like this.That's right. I taught myself how to crochet!! Back in January, one of my best friends and Charlotte roommate, Ashley, told me that she taught herself and that she was hooked! She told me I must learn immediately and that it would be something that I would love. Well, I kept putting it off but after a lovely dinner at Ashley's and laying my eyes on her painstaking project for myself, I couldn't get this off of my mind. I picked up a hook and some yarn last week and by Sunday evening, I was motoring away. It's amazing the tutorials you can find online (like the one I found yesterday on how to replicate J. Lo's flawless makeup and hair!!). With a little patience, a few YouTube videos and a little studying of some illustrations I found on the Crocheting for Dummies website, I think I found a new relaxing hobby. I started out with the Double Crochet stitch and so far, I'm loving the way this is turning out. I'll be back to my regular scheduled blogging as soon as I have the courage to put this project down...or just learn how to equally distribute my time!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Little Lovie

Babies are truly tiny miracles and I have been awaiting the arrival of this little guy for such a long time. It seems that for months, I have been getting updates on "Baby Velvet" and wondering if a he or a she would be arriving into the loving arms of Sophie and Doug. My visit home came just at the right time because sweet Jack is not even two weeks old yet!! He is such a bundle of love and the moment we met, it was love at first sight. The Nido girls are especially thrilled to welcome another lovie and Jr. Homie into the bunch...he's our first official shared nephew and we can't wait to spoil him! And I have yet to figure out why babies smell so ridiculously good.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hey Y'all!

I am back on Southern soil for the week and it feels so wonderful to be in the Queen City! Everything is in bloom, my street looks the same as I left it and HELLO ALLERGIES. My trip was originally planned for only this weekend, when I will be travelling to Charleston, SC for my dear friend Mary Katherine's bachelorette party weekend but when Mark found out he had to be out of town for work all week, we decided a week in Charlotte might be just what the doctor ordered! I am loving a little extra pampering from my parents, spending time with wonderful friends and making some pit stops at some of the places we are not lucky enough to have in our small-ish Midwest city (ahem, Anthropologie, Ilios Noche and The Blushing Bakeshop!!).

The good food doesn't only come from my kitchen in Illinois...where do you think I learned all these tips, tricks and passion for the palate? Here's what appeared on my dinner plate last night-

paparadelle pasta with fresh steamed clams

Maybe I'll tackle this in my own kitchen soon. Much love to all!

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's Friday!

I just finished my work day and I am sitting here sipping on a Compari and Tonic. Our windows are open and Mark is providing entertaining commentary while watching The Masters. My pizza dough is rising and in a few hours we will be biting into our newfound homemade pizza favorite, roasted mushroom and arugula. We loved it so much, we decided an encore was necessary tonight! O even picke up the new Spring brew from Blue Moon. Pizza plus beer is Friday bliss in our house!

This week has been busy, busy and more busy for the both of us, and there really isn't nothing too new to report. Besides my new salmon adventure earlier in the week, we've kept it to staples and favorites on our dinner plates this week (marinated flank steak, chicken parmesean burgers and chicken piccatta...yum!) Amidst a week full of busy workdays, I did manage to enjoy my daily e-mails from my new "nephew", Jack!! The blonde Nido sister finally gave birth to her sweet baby boy and I could not be more thrilled. I can only imagine how I will be when I have my own children because every time I see a picture of Jack, the tears start rolling down my cheeks! Never have I been so emotional over the birth of a baby. I love him so much already and I cannot wait until I get to kiss those baby cheeks next week while I am in Charlotte!

The days of music videos are not close to what they used to back in 1998 when I would rush home to watch Total Request Live and I would record Britney Spears' videos on VHS and intently watch them, learning each and every dance move. My sisters and I discovered Sara Bareilles in the beginning and when Andi sent me this video, I was tickled. I'm pretty sure she just elevated herself to genius level. Happy weekend, everyone!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Salmon Al Cartoccio

We love salmon at our house and the health benefits are a huge added bonus, but it seemed that our salmon consumption was getting out of control and the thought of one more bite was starting to make us feel sick. Too much of a good thing is...well...not always a good thing! Needless to say, we have been on a salmon boycott for the past for months. I came across a recipe from my kitchen idol (Giada- duh!) and I decided it was time to resurrect salmon onto our dinner plates. My biggest pet peeve surrounding salmon is the extra oil that seems to appear as the fish cooks. This recipe not only eliminated that oily mess, but masked a sometimes fishy flavor that isn't always appealing to the taste buds. The flavors are bright, the fresh herbs take center stage and I have another Giada recipe added to my list of easy go-tos. Another weeknight dinner win.

Salmon Al Cartoccio

recipe from Giada Delaurentiis

4 salmon fillets (I used one- 1lb. fillet)

Olive oil

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

3 tomatoes, chopped

2 chopped shallots

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped (I subbed in Rosemary)

1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in foil in a baking dish, oil side down. Mix tomatoes, shallots, lemon juice, rosemary, oregano, and 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a bowl to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the tomato mixture entirely over the salmon and seal the foil pouch. Bake until the salmon is cooked through, about 25 minutes.