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. 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 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!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Eat What's In Season

Farmer's markets and produce stands are opening up everywhere and there is no better time of year to frequent your local spots to pick up the freshest and best produce. There is so much truth to "eating in season". The strawberries that we picked up from the patch last month were beyond wonderful- so juicy, so sweet and bright, bright red. I can buy them at the grocery store year round, but they don't even compare. Fruits and vegetables taste better in the seasons in which they favor and Summer, especially, seems to be bursting at the seams with the best flavors.

I found this list in a local magazine, and thought it would be great to share some of what's in season now. In addition, I'm sharing some recipes and/or ways to use each fruit or vegetable.

Strawberries, Blueberries and Raspberries- Give me all the berries! Right now, I'm enjoying fresh berries with yogurt, in smoothies and even plain. Plain Greek yogurt with raspberries, pistachios and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup is my favorite breakfast right now! If you're looking for something a little more indulgent to do with your berries, combine them all and make this Fresh Berry Pie.

Cabbage- It's not just for your St. Patrick's Day corned beef dinner! I love using cabbage for sandwich wraps because it doesn't break as easily as lettuce and holds everything together. If you're into coleslaw, this Jalapeno Lime Slaw is bright, fresh and perfect for Summer dinner parties.

Tomatoes- Quite possibly my favorite of all the Summer produce. Caprese Salad. Need I say more? Tomato Basil Pappardelle and BLTs both tie for second.

Cauliflower- This poor vegetable doesn't have the best reputation but roasting it makes all the difference. This Cauliflower, Chickpea and Kale salad just might change your mind about cauliflower. Mashed cauliflower also makes a great alternative to mashed white potatoes. I typically steam, mash and mix with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Simple and delicious.

Cucumbers-  Cukes are so versatile! I love to use them as hummus dippers or add to lettuce wrap sandwiches. Cucumbers, tomato and red onion make a wonderful Summer salad and cucumber slices and mint are two of my favorite water infusers.

Zucchini- The vegetable that everyone feels like is coming out of their ears once the Summer is in full swing. I happen to love it every which way. Grilled, roasted and made into noodles! Zucchini noodles are a favorite around here. Top them with pesto or use them as a main dish served with meatballs and sauce.

Fennel- I never liked this when I was younger but I have grown to love it! Sliced pieces of fennel bulbs make for great vegetable dippers. It has a slight licorice flavor and a great crunch. It's also good roasted. Ina Garten has a recipe for Parmesan Fennel Gratin that looks tasty!

Take advantage of what's in season this Summer!

Monday, June 2, 2014

{What Will Ate} Baby's Paleo Pancakes

My sweet little eater loves every single meal time. When it's time to get into his high chair, he screams and laughs and smiles and pulls out all of his best tricks because he is just so excited about filling that belly! And much like me, he likes his food on a schedule.

Breakfast at 8am.
Lunch at 12:30pm.
Dinner at 6:30pm.
And perhaps a few snacks in between.

I know that I say it all the time, but I absolutely love cooking for Will. Knowing that he is eating well balanced meals made in my kitchen is so gratifying. I try to mix up his foods as much as possible so that he is not eating the same thing each day. He gets a great variety! Some of Will's favorite breakfasts are oatmeal with fresh fruit puree, greek yogurt with fresh fruit, scrambled eggs and these delicious pancakes. With three simple ingredients, they are easy to make and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand. AND HE LOVES THEM. Ripe bananas make these naturally sweet and I always add a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

Don't be fooled by the title of this blog post. When Will gets paleo pancakes, I eat them, too. I just double the recipe and enjoy a pancake breakfast date. 

Baby's Paleo Pancakes

1 ripe banana, mashed
1 egg
2 Tbsp. unsalted almond butter

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Put a small amount of coconut oil in a large pan and heat on medium heat, letting the oil melt and spread evenly. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour batter into pan. When pancakes start to bubble, flip, and cook on the other side.