Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pappardelle with Mushrooms, Parsley + Pancetta

This recipe was originally posted in 2012 and it still remains one of my all time favorites. A giant bowl of this makes me SO HAPPY. This was my favorite pasta while in Italy and I think that it is the perfect meal to cook in your kitchen for any special occasion. Mark played chef on Sunday and made me this delicious meal for my birthday. We enjoyed dinner with my family at our house and he certainly wowed them with his take on this rich and creamy pasta. 

Pappardelle instead of linguine; Shitake and cremini instead of porcini; And an added bonus, crispy pancetta. A bowl of this is pure happiness. Also filed under pure happiness? Celebrating another wonderful year. 

Family, pasta, wine, cake and ice cream. It was my perfect kind of day.

Pappardelle with Mushrooms, Parsley + Pancetta
recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 lb. pappardelle pasta
4 thick slices pancetta, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups chopped mushrooms of your choice
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 cloves minced garlic
1.5 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pappardelle and cook until al dente, 7-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom sauce pan (Mark used the French oven) on medium heat, cook pancetta until brown and crispy, 5-6 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate with paper towel. In the same pan, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes. Add the cream, thyme, salt and pepper and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream is reduced and thick, about 4-5 minutes. Add the parsley and stir to incorporate. 

Drain the pasta and add to the pan, tossing with sauce to coat. Add 2 Tbsp. of the cheese, toss and remove from heat. Garnish with extra parsley, grated cheese and fresh ground pepper.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Recipe Roundup

Unless I am baking, I have never been a recipe follower. I usually start with a recipe for inspiration and go in my own direction from there. This is how many of the recipes I post on my blog are born! Time spent in my kitchen is my creative time and I enjoy every minute. The hour I take each week to sit down and plan our meals is therapeutic for me. I scroll through Pinterest, flip through my cookbooks and look back in my recipe archives, making it a goal to make at least one new recipe a week. We've been enjoying a lot of new bites lately and there are several new recipes that I have followed to a "T". Here's a quick recipe roundup from my kitchen to yours!

1. Healthy Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Oat Breakfast Bars- Another find from my sister, I love these breakfast bars! These are great for busy weeks to grab and go on the run!

2. New York Times Tuscan Kale Salad- Obsessed doesn't even begin to describe my feelings for this salad. It appears on our menu at least once weekly and I have been eating some version of it for lunches almost daily.

3. Margarita Cupcakes- These should appear at every celebration! My has made these a few times and they are always a huge hit. I made them last weekend for a Stock the Bar Party and everyone went back for more. 

4. Against All Grain Pumpkin Muffins- This recipe comes from the Against All Grain cookbook (my new bookshelf fave!!) If you google the recipe, it's published on several other blogs, although if you are looking for a Paleo cookbook to add to your collection, Danielle's cookbook is just wonderful!

5. Chicken Cacciatore- I made this during #snOMG and it was a warm and comforting meal. We ate this on top of quinoa and the leftovers were tasty! 

6. Whole Foods Black Bean Burgers- I have been on a black bean burger kick and these are another recent lunch staple. I actually did make a few changes to this recipe. I subbed 1/2 cup almond meal and 1/2 cup of cashew meal instead of the breadcrumbs. I also eat them plain without a bun and a little avocado and fresh lime juice on top!

7. Cauliflower Burrito Bowls- If you have never tried cauliflower rice, here's a perfect and delicious way to enjoy it. These burrito bowls are so tasty, fresh and incredibly healthy. This blog (The Roasted Root) is also full of TONS of great recipes. 

*photos 2, 3 and 4 are my own. The rest are credited appropriately underneath the photos

Monday, March 17, 2014

Little Will: 9 Months!

On March 9, Will turned NINE MONTHS OLD! I still haven't figured out a way to make time stop, or at least slow down. 

At his nine month appointment, Will weighted 18 lbs. 14 ounces and is 28 inches long. His bottom two teeth are very visible and his top two teeth should be popping through very soon. He isn't crawling quite yet, though we know he is very close. The little monkey currently rolls around everywhere trying to get to things! 

I feel like Will is changing more now than ever. Each morning I wake up wondering what he will surprise us with that day.  The funniest thing this month is that he is really aware of copying us. He has a crazy little tongue roll that he does over and over when he is trying to get our attention.

My favorite milestone of the month!? Will is finally big enough to sit in the shopping cart! This has been life changing and taking him to the grocery store is such an event. He smiles, waves and makes friends with everyone who will pay attention to him. He's living the dream now! 

In mid-February, we experienced a few magical snow days here in Charlotte. 

I am a lover of the fluffy white stuff and being snowed in for three days with my little family was just so much fun. I'm not sure Will knew what to think of it all, but I will never forget it. 

Valentine's Day was extra special because of our little cupid. Just look at this face! 

At the end of February, we got to see sweet Susanna and her mom Julie for a quick Charlotte visit. 

These two babies love each other already. 

Living close to family is something we are truly thankful for. Our families love Will so much and watching him form relationships with them is so much fun. Aunt Andi knows how to make this little guy laugh!

I am so lucky to be able to spend my days at home with this little boyfriend of mine

What did we ever do without this little charmer! We love you so much, Prince William!

Happy 9 months, little one!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes {Chocolate Guiness Cupcake with Baileys Buttercream and a Whiskey Ganache Center}

Cupcakes are always appropriate. There is something about a personal size cake that makes you feel happy. Bad day? Eat a cupcake. Someone's birthday and you can't be there to celebrate in person? Eat a cupcake. Bachelor finale? Eat a cupcake. They are the perfect celebration dessert and make for a fun display at parties. Add a little alcohol and you've just scored big. 

Here's a booze-y cupcake recipe for your St. Patrick's Day. Three layers deep, these rich little cakes feature Guiness, Jameson and Baileys. The Irish tri-fecta. A chocolate Guiness cupcake is filled with a whiskey ganache and topped with a gigantic swirl of Bailey's Irish Cream Buttercream. What more could a leprechaun want? I may have missed the St. Patrick's Day bar crawl downtown Charlotte, but baking with alcohol, which resulted in Guiness for breakfast, is the next best thing. 

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes 

1 cup Guiness Stout
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1.5 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
2 tsp. Irish Whiskey (I used Jameson)

Baileys Buttercream:
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbsp. Bailey's Irish Cream

To make the cupcakes; preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guiness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk mixture until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until well combined. Add the Guiness- chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 of the way full. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center, 17-19 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

To make the whiskey ganache filling; finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir from the center outward until just combined. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until just combined. Let the ganache cool until thick, but still soft enough to be piped.

To fill the cupcakes; using the bottom of a large decorating tip, cut the centers of the cooled cupcakes, going about two thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping bag with a large tip and fill the holes of the cupcakes all the way to the top. 

To make the Baileys Buttercream; Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium- high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium- low and gradually add the powdered sugar until incorporated. Add the Baileys, and increase the speed to medium high and whip for another 2-3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy. 

Using a decorating tip, frost the cupcakes and top with sprinkles for extra luck!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Newborn Baby Favorites

The internet is an incredible tool at our fingertips and while there is sometimes too much information out there, I am thankful for the wonderful resource that it is. When I was pregnant with Will, I turned to many parenting blogs and sites for recommendations on books to read, products to buy and general "what the heck is going on with my body while it's growing a human" questions. 

One of my favorite parts about preparing for our baby was researching baby products. I embraced my inner nerd and went to town. Much like planning our wedding, I made a binder, dividers and all, to keep track of any and all things baby related. In addition to browsing blogs, I have a wonderful group of girls, both close family and friends, who gave me tons of great advice and recommended their favorite products. I loved finding similar lists on other blogs and thought it would be fun to compile my own list of my favorite newborn products. Bringing baby home from the hospital is a crazy, amazing, whirlwind of an experience, and all of these products proved to make our first months at home easier. In fact, all but a few of these products are still used in our house every day.

All of these products were recommended to me from either other bloggers or my other mom-friends and I hope that I can pay it forward and 

1. Fisher Price Rock n Play
This portable baby basinet was a lifesaver the first few weeks that Will was home. Will has been sleeping in his crib since his first night home from the hospital but during those first few weeks, he napped in this during the day. I could carry it from room to room and he loved being cozy and slightly upright during daytime naps. 

2. Aden + Anais Swaddle Plus Blankets
Is there any mom who doesn't love these!? They are so soft and the perfect swaddling blanket. Will came home from the hospital in one of these (so did Prince George!) and spent his first two months swaddled up in these while he slept. We still use these to cover him up in the car and for playing on the floor. The more you wash these, the softer they get!

3. The Miracle Blanket
Easily my most favorite item on this list. The Miracle Blanket was recommended to me by a dear friend and I am still kicking myself that I didn't have this purchased before Will was born. It is the best swaddle on the market, in my opinion. No zippers or velcro, which I also really like. These really help with the newborn startle reflex and help keep them snug once the little loves can break out of a simple blanket swaddle. Once we started using this (at about 2.5 months), Will started sleeping through the night. This blanket is a miracle, indeed!
4. Ubbi Diaper Pail
Many people told me that I wouldn't need a diaper pail right away but let me tell you, I am SO GLAD that we have had this from day one. This product is a little pricey compared to other diaper pails, but is well worth the money in my opinion. The pail is metal, and not plastic, so it really keeps the smell out. Another plus is that it doesn't require special bags. We use our normal kitchen trash bags. 

5. Boon Lawn Drying Rack
If you have to have a drying rack for baby's feeding essentials on your counter at all times, it might as well be a cute one. The green grass removes from the white base, making for easy cleaning of the actual rack as well. 

6. Baby Gap
Baby Gap is my favorite place to shop for Will. He might as well be a brand ambassador. The cotton First Favorites collection are the softest baby clothes ever made! Will still lives in Baby Gap basics. The plain white footed pajamas are my favorite. I have also been very impressed with the quality. After many, many washes, all of Will's clothes from Baby Gap are still in great condition. The sizing is consistent as well, which is always helpful. We love falling into the Gap!

7. Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs
These burp cloths are a two in one deal. They have a snap closure on the back so that they can be used as a bib. Like all things from Aden + Anais, they are super soft and the prints are adorable. 

8. Ergo Baby Carrier and Infant Insert
Babywearing is fun! I remember the first few months, like clockwork, Will would treat us to a scream fest almost every night around dinner time. He would cry and cry and cry and as clueless first time parents, we felt upset, helpless and exhausted. Boy, were we exhausted. This time of night we always pulled out the Ergo and almost immediately, Will would calm down and either relax, or go to sleep. Little buddy just wanted to snuggle. Now that he's older, we're using the Ergo without the infant insert for everyday errands and outings. 

9. Fisher Price My Little Lamb Swing
Because I was very active during my pregnancy, I had a feeling that Baby Moore would love the swing- and he did! He still does from time to time. Our swing was loaned to us so we weren't picky, but the newer version of this swing has the ability to change the seat from a laying position to upright. Either way, the swing was a hit! Another product I would LOVE to get my hands on if the time comes is the Mamaroo! A much smaller footprint and I think the company is so neat.

10. Sleep Sheep
Sound machines were one of the most frequently recommended items to me. The sleep sheep attaches to the crib or car seat with a velcro loop and has timed noise for 15, 30 and 45 minutes to help baby sleep. I will say that Will doesn't have to have it on to sleep, but I am certain that it helps. We are lucky to have such a good little sleeper!

11. Aveeno Baby 
Thankfully, there are so many natural baby products out there to pick from today. We happen to LOVE Aveeno baby products. Clean, Simple and gentle, everything from their baby wash to their diaper rash cream and everything in between, keep our little guy nice and fresh, without irritating his skin.

12. Puj Tub
Whoever invented this thing is a genius! This lightweight, foam tub folds up into the perfect shape for your bathroom sink for bathing baby in the first few months. It was so nice not to have to use the big tub while will was tiny. This product is a must have for sure!

13. Summer Infant Baby Monitor
Another item on the pricey side, but well worth it! The camera can be controlled with the monitor and has a wide range of sight. The video monitor is certainly not necessary, but we sure do like being able to see our little buddy snuggled up and asleep. Multiple cameras can be purchased to hook up to the monitor as well, which is another plus!

In addition to these products, here are a few of the books that I felt really helped me while I was pregnant. I tried to pick and choose what I read, because too much would have made me go bonkers, but I truly loved these books. 

Moms on Call- If you read any parenting blogs, chances are you have heard of the Moms on Call. These ladies are retired nurses and moms and have lots of good advice on scheduling and sleep training. We found their book and online seminar very helpful. Moms on Call for the win!

From the Hips- Easily my most favorite book to read while I was pregnant! I am not a fan of "fluff". Give it to me how it is and don't sugar coat it. I found a lot of pregnancy books to beat around the bush and never really get to the "down and dirty" of pregnancy, labor & delivery and everything else related. I appreciated this book for its raw honesty, humor and real quotes from "anonymoms" about their experiences. This book is great! 

The Happiest Baby on the Block- This was recommended to me by several friends and family members and there are tons of good nuggets in here. Mark could recite the 5 S's forwards and backwards and upside down. And let me tell you- THEY WORK. 

*All of the thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% my own. I was not endorsed by any of the companies and their products mentioned. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Zucchini Linguine + Meatballs

We're all guilty of over-indulging on the weekends and because of that, I always like to start our weeks off on a healthy note. This weekend was gorgeous here in Charlotte and we enjoyed crisp, cold beers on our screened in porch, two delicious grilled meals and a few extra scoops of ice cream to top off the days. After a couple of days like this, it's like my body craves healthy foods. 

Mondays are my favorite nights to keep it light and simple, without sacrificing big flavor, of course! If spaghetti squash isn't your thing, give zucchini noodles a try! I use my mandolin to slice them, saute for a few minutes to soften (you don't even need olive oil!) and top them with whatever you like. If you don't have a mandolin or a spiralizer, get creative! A vegetable peeler works grate and results in more of a zucchini ribbon. You can't go wrong with whatever you do. I cannot wait for the produce stands and farmers to open up as the weather continues to get nicer and zucchini is really in season. I foresee a lot of meals like this in the Spring and Summer. This time, it was a simple marinara and some basic meatballs. A healthy, yet comforting weeknight dinner you can feel good about!

Zucchini Linguine + Meatballs

for the zucchini linguine-
2 small-medium zucchinis, sliced into noodles
One 13.5 oz. box or can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. good olive oil
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
salt + pepper to taste

1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey, or a mixture of both
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated parmesan
handful fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt + pepper to your liking

In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic, and cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and turn heat to low. Stir in oregano and salt and pepper, and let simmer. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix meat, egg, parmesan, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, spoon out meatball mixture and form into balls and line onto baking sheet, evenly spread. Bake for 15 minutes, or until meatballs and browned and cooked through. 

Plate zucchini noodles with a little sauce, meatballs and top with more sauce and a sprinkle of fresh parmesan.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mushroom, Tomato and Onion Scramble with Basil + Goat Cheese

Nothing is quite better on weekend mornings than a tasty breakfast. I have been going to an athletic conditioning class on Saturday mornings and when I get home, I find that I am STARVING. After an intense morning working out, I try to make a protein packed meal filled with fresh ingredients. Eggs and tons of veggies to the rescue! 

Omelettes are my very favorite way to eat eggs, but since I have yet to master the art of constructing a beautifully folded omelette, I prefer to make scrambles. A deconstructed omelette if you will. My scrambles are usually the result of whatever I have in the fridge, sauteed in a pan and scrambled together with eggs. Mushrooms, tomato and onions are an easy favorite and when topped with creamy goat cheese and fresh basil, it really is restaurant worthy. Add a few pieces of crispy bacon on the side and you have the perfect brunch that will keep you full until dinner time. 

Mushroom, Tomato and Onion Scramble with Basil + Goat Cheese
(generously serves two)

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
10 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
10 grape tomatoes, quartered
2 Tbsp. olive oil
7 eggs, whisked
Goat cheese, crumbled
Small handful of fresh basil, julienned
Salt + pepper to taste

In a medium saute pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until slightly browned and soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add in tomatoes and saute for another 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Pour eggs over vegetables and turn heat down to medium-low. Swirl and fold eggs around with the vegetables every few minutes. When eggs are cooked to your liking, transfer servings to plates and top with goat cheese and fresh basil.