Thursday, August 25, 2011

if I had a girl.

She would own this.


So stinking cute.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

best dinner ever.

Well that may be an overstatement, but we made a new recipe the other night, and I wanted to share.  I was pursuing the Cooking Light website (my main source for most of our meals- fast, easy and generally healthy).

This meal was light, yet filling.  It was great cold, but warm too.  And it looked so fancy on our plates.  It will certainly be a meal we serve when we have dinner guests.  It makes a ton, and looks like it should take longer then it does to prepare.

Without further ado, I present you with Warm Tortellini and Cherry Tomato Salad:


Ingredients

2 (9-ounce) packages fresh cheese tortellini
1 1/2 cups (1 1/2-inch-long) slices fresh asparagus (about 1 pound)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups trimmed arugula
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup (3 ounces) pregrated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add asparagus to pasta during last 2 minutes of cook time. Drain.
While pasta cooks, combine vinegars, oil, and pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pasta mixture, arugula, and remaining ingredients; toss to coat.

So there you have it, a great vegetarian meal.  Oh, and if tortellini isn't your thing, a thick pasta and some cannellini beans could be a great substitute.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

fall is coming...

I went in to Lowe's today to pick up a few items, and I saw their front area decked out for Halloween. It made me so excited!  I love fall!  So to get you in the mood, check out some inspirational photos brought to you by pintrest.




And yes, we are still enjoying summer.  But I love a good season change!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

the key to my heart, free stuff!

I'll take pretty much anything for free.  I get it from my dad.  Samples from Costco, perfectly fine house items by apartment dumpsters, online coupons- it's all gold in my eyes.

What do I love more?  Free stuff of things I actually use.  I watch that Extreme Couponing show and don't quite get why they go crazy over the 75 containers of ranch dressing.  They will never use it all before it expires.

So when free stuff comes my way, for things I actually use, it is a good day.  Such as this sweet note that the hubby left in my wallet-


Yup, that's for a free Starbucks- he knows me all too well.

A while back when we moved into our house, I blogged about tackling a few projects, and using Goo Gone.  Well the folks over there caught wind of my our blog through Google Alerts, and signed us up to be GooRu's- aka get a bag full of free stuff!

We were totally on-board.  A) it made us feel like celebrities that someone other than our family found our little blog, and B) Who can say no to free swag?-  Not this girl!

Our package finally arrived the other day- and it was all so exciting!



We got a shopping tote, a tee, sticker, towels, Goo Gone, and the coolest goo scrapper ever.  For real.


I was so excited, that I put my new gear to the test right away.  Enter our gross front door.  When we bought our house the door came complete with two plastic hooks.  I assumed they held some sort of wreath.  So the first day in, I ripped them off, but they left a sticky, 3-Dimensional pile of icky.  And there she stayed- until today!

Here's the before.  Yuck.


And after some product and my new scrapper, it's all gone!


Much better!  It will be nice to see this clean slate everyday- and I can't wait to use my new little tool!

*These are all our opinions- and it's the real deal.  We just love to share when we love something! 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

donations needed!

This guy:


Has been training for this ride:


But he needs to raise money for his team to help with research and a cure for MS.  Any donation amount is accepted, and it can be anonymous, and it is all appreciated!  Thanks!

Click here to donate to Ryan!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

menu planning.

Ryan and I had fallen off the "eat like normal people train" after moving.  I know, that was in March- about time we get back on.  We blame being busy and so many projects, but truth is, we both can be pretty darn lazy.  What whipped us back to shape was our food bill.  We looked at what we'd been spending eating out, and it was getting a bit nuts.  True, sometimes picking up Chipotle is cheaper then buying ingredients for a meal, but sometimes it is more.

And, lucky for us, simple meals work just fine.  We aren't big foodies, and consider mac and cheese + tomatoes on top a meal.  So that helps wrangle the food costs down low.  Also, shopping at Trader Joe's is a huge help.  Their stuff is generally cheap.  And oh-so-tasty.

I also HATE grocery shopping.  I hate it.  I would rather clean the house for three hours then run to the grocery store for 10 minutes.  I don't know what it is.  But, I think it stems from when you go to start a meal, and realize you forgot cilantro.  That is the worst.

So in the interest of lessening our food costs, and minimizing the grocery trips, we decided to meal plan.  Not a novel idea, and not a new concept for us, but we now have a organized way to do it- and it makes me happy!

I found this great menu + shopping list free downloadable PDF from The Project Girl. I liked the one that just had the meals per day, not per B, L, D.


So I printed it out, and Ryan and I planned for last week. We went to TJ's on Sunday night with our list- and left with a $60-ish grocery bill.  [It would have been lower if I hadn't splurged on some dog treats!]  With that, we had breakfast for the whole week (usually cereal and yogurt + fruit), fruit, vegetables, snacks and new meals for about three nights.  We usually only plan three home cooked meals a week.  I know, week is 7 days, how does that work out?  Well, depending on the week, we may have plans with friends or dinner at the in-laws.  We also eat leftovers.  Most meals make way more then 2 servings, so we will eat those a few days later.  We find if we plan on more, we usually end up throwing out old food.  And I hate that.

We are happy to report it worked wonders last week.  It made making dinner so much easier not having to run to the store, and made shopping a breeze last Sunday.  I did find the printable wasn't 100% how I'd like it, so I might create my own here soon, but I'd thought I'd share our fun new tool.  Happy menu planning!

Monday, August 01, 2011

the perfect cookie.

I'm a chocolate chip cookie lover.  In fact, if I've made some one night, they usually end up being my breakfast the next morning.  I figure I'm going to eat them at some point during the day, might as well be when I wake up!  Since I've been out on my own, cooking for myself, I've tried many recipes to get the best cookie.

I finally found it last year, and I'd thought I'd share.  I love oatmeal cookies, but I hate raisins   I love the cinnamon and oatmeal.  I also like cookies that are on the crisper side, but chewy too.  I purchased the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook after viewing a few of her episodes on the Food Network.  I was flipping through the dessert section when I found the recipe for Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies.  I wasn't enthused about the pecans, or raisins- but when I read the recipe I thought it sounded wonderful with the omission of those ingredients and the addition of chocolate chips.  So that's what I did- and I haven't made a different recipe since.

For those interested:

Ingredients
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
around 2 cups chocolate chips, or more if you like!

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the oats and chocolate chips and mix just until combined.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop 2-inch mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

Now, what else makes the best chocolate chip cookies?  Well, I have a few favorite tools.

1. My KitchenAid mixer- Not only does this thing look adorable on the counter, but it is useful too!  I especially like it when you have to hand mix in chocolate chips or oatmeal, as the base is so study you don't have to hold it.


2. My cookie scoop- My mom is the queen of kitchen gadgets, so you can assume I have inherited the gene.  But, I swear by my cookie scoop.  It makes every cookie the same size, perfect shape, and makes it so much cleaner to make cookies.


3. Chicago Metallic Bakeware- I got my bake ware set for my 25 birthday from my parents, but I spent a lot of time researching what I wanted.  I knew I didn't want nonstick, and I wanted something sturdy.  This brand had the best reviews, and after using them for 1.5 years, I am a fan.  I love using the jelly roll sheets for my cookies.


4. Cookie Spatula- Ryan thinks it is hilarious that I have a spatula that is dedicated to cookies.  But I do, and it is a-mazing!  This thing gets the cookies and gooey chips off in a snap, since it is made of silicone.

So there you are!  I made a batch of cookies last night, and can't wait to sit down with a few to watch The Bachelorette finale tonight.  Who you routing for?  Ben or JP?
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