Monthly Archives: April 2011

Living in a house full of boys (even my dog is a boy) has not in any way stifled my girly girlyness. I absolutely adore being  a girl and all of the perks that come with that honor.

For example I love being able to cry at a moments notice with the only reason being “What?! I’m a girl! I can cry if I want to.”

I love owning 20+ pairs of heels and still being able to justify purchasing yet another pair.

I love being a mother with all the heart ache and joy this never ending, crazy fulfilling, life altering position has to offer.

I love talking about, experimenting with, and wearing makeup! My sister and I would play makeup for hours when we were younger and would beg my mom to let us walk out of the house all painted up. Of course she usually said no, but once in a while she would let us go to the grocery store with her all dolled up. I laugh to myself when I imagine what we must have looked like.

I love being a wife to my husband. In my late teens I thought marriage was for chumps and vowed to never let myself fall victim to such a dreary fate. What a naive young lady I was. I had no idea how much power and authority there is in this supposed lowly postion called “wife”. Being my husband’s biggest fan and crazy in love with him (& he with me) has effected our lives in such a way I never thought possible. All I had to do was let go of myself and let him in. Easier said than done sometimes, I know.

That said I love marriage and weddings, so of course I’m beyond excited about the royal wedding!! Oh stop rolling your eyes, you know you are too. What a story! Kate and William meet, fall in love, and he makes her a princess. Dosent get any girlier than that! No way am I going to watch (drool) over this wedding in my house full of boys. I’m off to a tea party with my girlfriends where I can “oooh” and “aaah” over every little detail without being teased. I whipped up these creamy, dainty opened face tea sandwiches for the party. The tarragon compliments the roasted chicken wonderfully and the crunchy almonds on top really make this sandwich special. Of course seeing that these are being made in honor of a wedding, cutting them into the shape of a heart only seemed fitting.

I recently had the pleasure of being able to escape to Mendocino with my husband and a handful of very dear friends for a few days. While driving through Napa it dawned on me what an amazing place Northern California is to live. Don’t get me wrong Southern California is beautiful with it’s beaches and perfect weather, but as far as I’m concerned Northern California is the place to be. Tahoe with it’s year round beauty and activities ranging from rafting to snowboarding, the Napa valley with it’s world famous wines and miles of breathtaking country side, San francisco with all the culture, shopping, and personality that rivals any other metropolis twice it’s size, and the best part is it’s all just a short day trip away!

While on the coast we shared some amazing wines with our friends, enjoyed long conversations on our balcony overlooking the ocean, reminisced the memory of a loved one we all recently lost, and ate so much good food we had to shake ourselves out of our food comas in order to drive home.

My favorite meal was a lunch in an unassuming restaurant overlooking the water that served oysters so fresh I almost cried. No really, tears almost came to my eyes. Thankfully my friends are understanding when it comes to my overreacting to good food. I don’t remember the name of the place, but I will never forget the linguine with fresh clams I had. The sauce was rich in flavor and spiked with a pesto type concoction. They also broke the no cheese with shellfish rule and sprinkled a generous amount of parmesan cheese on top (God bless the rule breakers), and it was served with the yummiest piece of toasted cheese bread I ever had.

Of course I had to make this for my boys who thankfully share my love for shellfish. The best part was watching them count each others clams to make sure every plate was even steven.

So you’re going to your in-law’s house for Easter brunch & your mother-in-law has asked you to bring something.

You feel scared and honored all at the same time. Scared because she is an amazing cook and takes Easter brunch very, VERY seriously. Have you ever seen those butter sculptures of Easter bunnies in the dairy section? Ya, she’s the person that buys those. Honored because she is finally, FINALLY taking you seriously as a cook in your own right & is trusting you to bring something awesome to the table.

What to bring, what to bring…

I know! A fruit salad would be nice. No, your 12 year old could make a fruit salad. It’s gotta be something with a little more pizzazz. Hmmmm…

What about a big fancy cake in the shape of a Easter bunny?! First you’re going to need to find the proper shape cake pans. Then you’ll need to find some fondant, and don’t forget the food coloring, and…. Oh my goodness that sounds like too much pizzazz.

I got!! Coffee cake. What is so special about coffee cake you ask? Well, the cake in this one is perfectly light and buttery. The streusel topping has bacon in it.

Yes…

Bacon.

I’m not one to show off, but this seemingly ordinary, yet extraordinary coffee cake just might steal the show…

Growing up Catholic Easter along with Christmas was a major holiday in my house. A lot like Christmas my sister and I would wake up excited to see what kind of treats were waiting for us, except I never believed in the Easter bunny liked I believed in Santa. Mostly because the thought of a huge rabbit breaking into my house in the middle of the night to bring us chocolates scared the heck out of me! My sister and I got to wear new dresses & I remember enjoying my Easter dress more than the Christmas dress because the fabric was lighter which allowed it to twirl better. Also I didn’t have to cover it up with a heavy winter coat, without the coat I felt like I was able to show off my dress more at church that morning. Sigh…my poor mom, what a diva I was! That’s right, “WAS”.

I love being able to start new traditions and help create new good memories for my boys on Easter. They love their baskets in the morning, all of the time with family, and of course the food! In the past I have spoiled my family with a lamb dinner, but because it’s so crazy expensive this year I substituted the lamb chops for pork chops. I’m glad I did because it came out fantastic! The chops were quick to fry up & the balsamic reduction made them super special. Don’t let the term “reduction sauce” scare you away. Like most cooking terms it sounds fancier than it really is & of course I’m happy to walk you through it.:)

Don’t you love it when your friends and family think that you’re smarter and fancier than you really are?

I do!

Because I am surrounded by such talented, creative folks the opportunity rarely presents it’s self. For example some of my friend’s can compose amazing music, some of them can sew lovely baby items, and I have a girlfriend whose brownies are famous in at least five different zip codes. Get this, I have a sister-in-law who owns a cow, milks that cow, and then from the milk she makes all kinds of delicious cheeses. My only response to that is “Wow”. It’s a tough crowd to impress,  but when it does happen I like to bask in that feeling for as long as possible.

For some reason making a frittata for breakfast tends to trick people into thinking you really know what you’re doing in the kitchen. I suppose the word “frittata” sounds fancy, and it does look pretty cool when you are pulling a skillet full of beautiful food out of the oven. Did I mention how yummy they are?! Ok, I guess I get why they can be a little show stopping.

The greatest thing about this dish is that it’s incredibly easy to make & as far as what you want to put in it almost anything goes! I’m not too sure if chocolate and garlic goes, but hey I’m not one to get in the way of anyones creative process.

The combination of veggies, cheeses, and meats are endless for this baked egg breakfast. All you need is a oven proof pan, a few eggs, a little imagination, and a crowd of loved ones to “oooh” and “ahhh” your creation doesn’t hurt.

Apr 12

Spa Salad

So I’m a mom, and I have a ton of friends that are also mom’s. The best thing about my friends is that we all do things a little differently.

Some of us homeschool our kids, and some of us don’t. Some of us work outside side of the home, and some of us don’t. Some of us experience small mental breakdowns because our baby (he’s 3) is totally potty-trained, signed up to go to preschool in the fall, and can burp on command with the rest of his brothers thus demonstrating that he is not a baby anymore. Maybe that’s just a me thing…

Even though we all approach motherhood a little differently I’ve noticed there is something we all kinda do the same. We all tend to put our needs and wants at the bottom of our list.

You know what I’m talking about. Having to cancel on a girls night because someone got sick at the last minute, considering grocery shopping kidless “me time”, or holding off on buying those cute new sandel’s for yourself because everybody else in your house needs new shoes.

Now I’m not going to get all Oprah on you and remind you how important it is to take care of yourself. You already know that if you neglect yourself too much you’re going to find yourself locked in your bathroom with a bottle of wine crying because nobody seems to care about putting their shoes away. Maybe that’s just a me thing too…

When I need a little TLC ASAP I make myself a salad. Yes you read that correctly, a salad and let me tell you why. This lovely little salad is all for me. I only put in the things that I want to eat. I make myself sit down and actually enjoy this decadent salad that I made just for me. Did I mention that I don’t share this salad with anyone?

The next time you feel like you’re about to go crazy because everybody came home with book reports that are all due on the same day (aarrrgh!) just take a time out and fix yourself something beautiful to eat. At the very least it will give you the energy to call a sitter and get a spa day on the books!

Growing up my family ate “real” food before it was a trendy idea.

Meaning my mom made sure the fruits and veggies we ate were fresh and in season, pasta sauce NEVER came out of a jar, and soda did not exist in our home. Even when we ate out it was at a local restaurant and my mom knew everyone in the joint! I was well into high school the first time I ever ate at a Fridays and I was not impressed.

Does this make me a food snob? No way! It just means I like the real thing. If I’m going to eat a cookie it better have real butter in it, and if I’m going to eat a burger it better have real cheese on it. I’m super thankful for this outlook on food my mom raised us with & I try my hardest to feed my family the same way. A Costco pot pie does slip in every now and then (they are so stinkin good), but at the end of the day I’m happy with what my boys consider to be real food.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of working in the kitchen with my mom. If you are going to cook with my mom you keep your mouth closed and your eyes and ears open. She works fast and takes feeding people good food seriously. Cooking together is not all work and no play, if you’re good she’ll reward you with a mimosa (or three). Every time I cook with my mom I learn so much, and on that day we made breakfast burritos that had people singing her praises.

These slightly spicy, kinda crunchy breakfast burritos were inspired by my mom, but I added a few little twist of my own. Being the kind of daughter I am (the bratty, awesome kind) if she says black of course I’m going to say white. Love ya mom!

I’m not a meal planner. Come to think of it I’m not any kind of planner. Did I plan on having four kids before 30? Heck no! Do I know what I’m going to feed those kiddos tomorrow night for dinner? Nope.

I gave meal planning a good go a few years back. Did the whole thing. Lists, charts, schedules, blech. The word trapped comes to mind.

In lieu of meal planning I try to keep my freezer, fridge, and pantry stocked with anything I might need to be able to cook anything we might want.

In the morning I’ll decided if we’ll be eating chicken, beef, turkey, ect. and take that out of the freezer to defrost. Hopefully by 5pm I’ve come up with a plan.

I whipped this pasta dish up a few days ago & will definitely be making it again. It’s savory, creamy, and has bacon in it. Would I have thought this up by sticking to a strict meal plan? Probably not. Here’s to flying by the seat of your pants!

Continued from the “What to Feed an Army” post, here are those brownies I promised. And you thought I was going to keep them all to myself…

When I was a teenager we always, ALWAYS had three things in our freezer. Frozen concentrated pink lemon aid, pizza rolls (perfect late night snacking for slumber parties), and rocky road ice cream. My dad’s love for rocky road ice cream knows no end. He is absolutely devoted to it. I’m pretty sure if I went over to visit him right now there would be a carton of Breyer’s rocky road in his freezer.  I would put money on it, 10 bucks at least…

My dad is also famous for his love of chocolate. Now I have met some chocoholics, but none as serious as my dad & I have happily inherited this love for chocolate from him (I also got his eyes & sparkling wit;).

Now my chocoholism comes in waves and will just hit me like a ton of bricks at a moments notice. For example I could be folding laundry, minding my own business and BAM!! I NEED M&M’S RIGHT NOW!!!! When this happens I pray I can find some form of chocolate to inhale. More often than not my boys have already ransacked the pantry (even my hiding spots) and the only form of chocolate we have in the house is a teeny tiny tootsie roll left over from last Halloween.

Not gunna cut it.

So inspired by my dad’s love of rocky road ice cream I came up with these. The first time I made them I used mini marshmallows, and it was good but I knew they could be better. My husband told me his mother used to make brownies kinda like these and would spread Jet-Puffed marshmallow cream on top. Genius…