#header-inner {background-position: center !important; width: 100% !important;}

Sunday, March 31, 2013

In Christ Alone

Pin It

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Lyrics from In Christ Alone

One Year Ago: Cornmeal Cranberry Muffins
Two Years Ago: Sweet Onion Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Three Years Ago: Mixed Citrus Greens Salad

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Odds & Ends

Pin It

1. One of my favorite things in the world is traveling. I will gladly forgo many other "luxuries" and instead spend that money visiting new places. In our 4 1/2 years of marriage, Ryan and I have had the chance to visit quite a few places. Needless to say, I really loved Ashley's (my blog designer!) post on Favorite Sites & Apps for Travel. Many of them we already use when planning trips (Yelp!!!), but I'm excited to check out a few of the other ones she named. She did a great job of explaining what each is useful for and which have worked best for her. 

2. Speaking of traveling, Ryan and I are headed to Texas for a long weekend in a few weeks! We're spending two days in Austin and two days in San Antonio. We have a few ideas about what we want to see, do, and eat while we're there, but as always, I'm looking for personal recommendations! Please leave your favorites in the comments!

3. While we're on the topic of warm places, let's talk about shorts. I'm usually not a fan of wearing shorts in the summer because most of them are so dang short. I could've pulled the look off at 17, but not so much almost ten years later! I recently headed to the Gap Outlet where I found a few different styles of shorts that fit perfectly! They have their longer "boyfriend" style shorts, pictured above, but even their normal shorts came in varying lengths, a few of which didn't leave me cringing in the dressing room. Even better, they were like $20-25/pair...get thee to a Gap Outlet!

4.  Let's talk about popovers. For whatever reason, I forget about them....and then suddenly I'm struck with a memory of how pillowy and custardy they are and I find myself craving them with a vengeance. The craving stuck a few Saturdays ago and I made them to serve with breakfast. Even if you don't have a popover pan, it's worth trying them in a muffin tin. I also recommend adding a bit of orange zest to the batter!

One Year Ago: Black and White Cookies
Two Years Ago: Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three Years Ago: Black Bean Burgers with Mango Salsa

Friday, March 29, 2013

Yogurt Oatmeal Date Muffins

 Pin It

I love sugar as much as the next person (okay, probably more), but I’m making a real effort to reduce the amount of sugar I intake. Because I’m not going to give up (daily) dessert anytime soon, I try to make sure that I’m not adding more sugar than is needed when baking. Of course, sometimes you just want the full amount of sugar in your chocolate chip cookies to give them that extra chew and classic taste. But more often than not, the amount of sugar in a recipe can be reduced with no adverse effect on flavor or texture.
These muffins don’t start out with a ton of sugar to begin with, but I really took this sentiment to the extreme when I completely forgot the sugar the second time I made these. It wasn’t until I’d filled each muffin cup (a double batch, no less!) and licked a bit of batter from the spoon that I realized my mistake. I quickly sprinkled a bit of raw sugar on top of each muffin, stuck them in the oven, and hoped for the best.
While they were unsurprisingly not all that sweet, they actually tasted fine. The sugar crystals on top of each muffin helped, as did the sprinkle of raisins throughout, but even without sugar in the batter, they weren’t a disaster…and I didn’t feel guilty eating them for breakfast! If you think about it, I don’t add sugar to my oatmeal or my yogurt when I eat them plain, so it wasn’t such a far stretch to omit it from my oatmeal yogurt muffins. I have included the sugar in the recipe below, but feel free to omit and sprinkle with raw sugar instead!

Two Years Ago: Homemade Tagalongs

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pork and Greens Stir Fry

Pin It

If we’re home on the weekends during the day, I usually don’t make a true lunch. It’s more likely that I’ll make a special breakfast, or that I’ll be busy cooking all day and snack my way through lunch. Ryan’s learned to fend for himself on the weekends, finishing up leftovers or throwing a frozen burrito in the microwave. Sometimes, however, it’s nice to have a ‘real meal’ on a Saturday afternoon. Enter this stir fry, which is easy, healthy, and tasty—making it a great candidate for a weeknight dinner as well as a weekend lunch!
Ryan actually put this meal together while I worked my way through a final exam in the other room. It was a good way to use up greens, which we always have in our fridge, though you could easily add bell peppers or any other vegetables you have on hand. We didn’t serve over rice since we had rice in our dinner plans already, but I recommend eating with some sort of grain to soak up the excess sauce!

One Year Ago: Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
Two Years Ago: Homemade Tagalongs
Three Years Ago: Cajun Tilapia with Peppers and Polenta

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Citrus Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

Pin It
Like many of you, I'm guessing, I love going out to eat with friends. Finding new restaurants or taking comfort in our regular spots is one of my favorite things to do. Still, there's nothing like spending time in the kitchen with your friends. No matter how good a restaurant experience is, it doesn't beat working away in the kitchen, chatting with friends and blasting music. Anyone else with me?
This salad was the product of some food and friend time in the kitchen. My friend Colleen was in town for the weekend and my sister Renatta was over. The three of us spent the morning prepping a few different recipes for our dinner later that evening while swapping stories, creating new lyrics to songs, and making messes. Colleen was my sous chef, and she peeled and slice each piece of the citrus. I refrigerated the dressing separately from the fruit and tossed it all together just before serving. The salad didn't just help make memories; it was memorable itself! It's tart with just enough sweetness to keep you from pursing your lips too much. The brightness of the grapefruit, oranges, and limes make it a lovely addition to your Spring table, and it might be just the thing to add to your Easter brunch this weekend!

One Year Ago: Carrot Cake Bundt
Two Years Ago: Edamame Succotash
Three Years Ago: Chinese Chicken Salad 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Slow-Cooker Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Pin It

Remember last summer, when my brother Quinn was living in St. Louis and we would have family dinners with him, my sister Julia, and my brother-in-law Nate? Sigh. I miss those days, and the days of spoiling my brother with his favorites! Thankfully, we haven’t let our family dinner tradition die, even though Quinn returned to school in Minnesota. We’ve just swapped my sister Renatta for Quinn and we make it a point to whisk her away from St. Louis University’s campus from time to time to feed her a home-cooked meal, compete in Just Dance, and watch (and re-watch) Pitch Perfect.

Because she doesn’t eat a lot of meat on campus—and I don’t blame her, remembering the questionable state of meat in my own college dining hall—I try to serve it when she’s over. Most recently, it was by way of these Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches, a recipe I pulled from Everyday Food magazine when it was still in print (anyone else really missing it?!).

You brown the chicken and sauté the peppers and onions to maximize flavor before throwing it all in a slow cooker for a few hours. Die hard buffalo chicken lovers will want to up the hot sauce—the ¼ cup was enough to keep everyone happy but we would’ve welcomed even more heat! Serve on buns with blue cheese, if desired, and eat, preferably while listening to ‘tales of a college freshman’, if you’re lucky!

One Year Ago: Slow Cooker Penne with Eggplant Tomato Sauce
Two Years Ago: No-Bake Banana Split Pie
Three Years Ago: Moroccan Carrot Sandwiches

Monday, March 25, 2013

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

 Pin It

You’ve heard the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, right? Well in this case, one woman’s ripe bananas are another woman’s treasure! My friend Juli loves bananas, but only up to a certain point of ripeness (lightly speckled). Whenever her bananas cross that threshold, she brings them to work for me. It’s not uncommon for me to have a few bananas stinking up my cubicle at the end of the week, when she brings me her “trash”. I gladly accept because even though I buy two bunches of bananas a week, they’re almost always gone before I have a chance to do anything fun with them.
To me, of course, Juli’s bananas are hardly ripe! I usually let them ripen for several more days before I peel and freeze them. Lately I’ve been using them faster than I can freeze them. Most weekend mornings I start the day off with a spinach smoothie (ensuring that if the rest of that day’s eating goes to crap, at least I had something green). Any other leftover bananas have been finding their way into a batch of my new favorite bananabread. Wanting to change things up a bit, I decided to make some banana bars with cream cheese frosting…and now I think all other forms of ripe banana usage should be on the lookout because these are some serious competition!
Adapted from a Taste of Home recipe, I significantly reduced the sugar, both in the bars (by 1 cup) and the frosting (by 2 cups). The end result was still plenty sweet, and that’s coming from the Sweet Tooth Queen herself! The bars are light and cakey, with visible flecks of banana, and the cream cheese frosting makes it all better—because when doesn’t cream cheese frosting make something better?!

So long as “trashed” bananas keep heading my way, you can expect to see more banana baked goods around here!

One Year Ago: Carrot-Ginger Salad
Two Years Ago: Broiled Tilapia Gyros
Three Years Ago: Portabella Pita Pizzas

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Finding Time in 2013: Pastaria

Pin It

Pastaria is definitely the new “it” restaurant in St. Louis right now. Everything Gerard Craft touches seems to turn to gold, and his latest restaurant is no exception. I knew I wanted to pay it a visit during our Finding Time in 2013challenge, especially since we love his restaurant Taste so much, and when I found myself in the mood for pasta (a rarity) a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to go. Everything I’ve read warns people to eat at Pastaria on a weeknight, lest they want to subject themselves to a very long wait in this ‘no reservations’ restaurant. Of course, I ignored the advice and we found ourselves at Pastaria during the dinner hour on a very busy Saturday night.
When we were quoted an hour and twenty-five minute wait, Ryan almost convinced me to abandon ship and give the restaurant a try another month. But once in the restaurant and seeing plates of fresh pasta arriving at tables, not to mention the gelato counter, there was no way I was stepping foot back into the cold in search of another place to eat. We grabbed drinks from the bar (wine for me, beer for him) and spent fifty minutes chatting and people-watching until our buzzer went off—turns out if you’re willing to take first-available seating, your wait won’t be as long as anticipated!
They led us to our seats at the counter of the open kitchen, directly in front of the wood fire oven. For parties greater than two this obviously wouldn’t be an option, but for us it was perfect—not only did we get to watch the kitchen staff hard at work, but I loved the warmth coming from the fire! They started us off with bread (I’m pretty sure it’s from Companion Bakery, my favorite bread source in STL!) which we dipped in copious amounts of olive oil, coarse salt, and pepper. Whoa. There’s something to be said about the power of high quality olive oil and warm bread, and I may or may not have asked for a second piece.
As tempting as the pizzas coming out of the oven right in front of us looked, we knew for our first visit we had to try the pasta. It is pastaria after all! We split the Pistachio Ravioli (pistachio, mint, lemon brown butter, Grana Padano) and the Garganelle (braised beef, olives, bread crumbs, gremolatawith a side of their roasted Brussels sprouts. While I could go on and on, I’ll leave it at this: Fresh pasta makes all the difference, as these non-pasta fiends discovered! The braised beef in the Garganelle was to die for and I would’ve been happy eating just that (although then I would’ve missed seeing how perfectly it paired with the green olives and orange zest!). Brown butter is always a good idea, always!
It goes without saying that we enjoyed our meal, which we capped off splitting a serving of the salted caramel gelato. If you go for nothing else, go for the gelato! They had a number of interesting sounding flavors (s’mores and basil were two other contenders), but I’d heard too much about the famed salted caramel to not give it a try. It met expectations, with just the right balance of sweet and salty, and the smooth creaminess that you expect in gelato.
I may not love pasta, but I did love Pastaria, and we will be back!

One Year Ago: Sourdough Pancakes
Two Years Ago: Vacation Eats: Charleston Part II and Ashville
Three Years Ago: Bulgur Salad with Citrus, Toasted Almonds, Feta, and Spinach

Pastaria on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Odds & Ends

Pin It

1. I thought it was spring?! Don't even get me started on the weather here lately. Instead, please go read this poem. The poet goes to my church and I recently started following his poetry blog. He could not have summed up winter more perfectly!

2. We're one week until Easter! You're making these coconut nests or crispy chocolate covered peanut butter eggs, right? (And by you, I mean mom, you'll have those coconut nests at home next weekend, right?!)

3. You need this gif text app! My siblings, the two husbands, and I are on a group text and we are having way too much fun jazzing up our texts with gifs that convey emotions when words just can't! 

4. More love for my readers, who leave great comments with feedback! Camille made my nacho black bean burgers (one of my favorite meatless burgers!) and said, "I did this exactly as written; it was a SUCCESS! My fiance even loved it and he is not the 1st one to try anything new." She also included a few tips in her comment, such as the fact that they freeze well!

One Year Ago: Ghirardelli Chocolate Brownies with Ganache
Two Years Ago: Vacation Eats-Nashville and Charleston Part I
Three Years Ago: Arizona Recap

Friday, March 22, 2013

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Yogurt Waffles

 Pin It

Lately it seems that when I make a special breakfast on the weekends (special being something that isn’t a smoothie or oatmeal!), they are typically egg-based. My love of pancakes, waffles, and French toast is well-documented, but they’ve just been lost in the shuffle over the past few months. That all changed a few Saturdays ago when I wake up with an intense craving for waffles. I was due for a grocery trip so I needed to make do with what I had.  A Google search led me to Martha Stewart’s oatmeal yogurt waffles, whose ingredients were all things I already had on hand.
Ingredients-wise, these were pretty hearty: whole-wheat flour, old-fashioned oats, Greek yogurt. And texture-wise, they weren’t as light and fluffy as a restaurant Belgium waffle. However, they kept us fill (for hours!) without sitting like rocks in our stomachs, which I consider a win! The waffles would have been great with fresh fruit on top, but that was unfortunately on the grocery list and not in my fridge. Butter and maple syrup still got the job done and when I cleaned up from breakfast, I made a mental note not to go so long without waffles again!

One Year Ago: Enlightened Greek Salad with Chicken
Two Years Ago: Tuna and Vegetable Salad
Three Years Ago: Sweet Potato Bread

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna

 Pin It

Do you ever entertain on weeknights? Although we typically do most of our entertaining on the weekends, sometimes a weeknight dinner with friends or family is a nice way to break up the week. My problem is, of course, that by the time I get home from work most nights, I don’t have a ton of time to get dinner on the table—especially if I’m also straightening up the house last minute or setting the table in preparation for guests. Enter this lasagna, the perfect make-ahead meal! I actually made it over a weekend, froze it, and then put it in the fridge the morning I planned to serve it. All it required was about an hour in the oven when I got home, which leaves you ample time for slicing bread (I served with Alexia garlic bread), throwing together a salad, or pouring wine.
I’m most familiar with tomato-based lasagnas, but this creamy white sauce was a nice way to change things up. The type of sausage you use will heavily determine the flavor of the dish. Use something mild if you’re serving to kids or picky eaters. I actually wished I’d used a spicier sausage (or at least thrown some red pepper flakes in there!), but it all comes down to personal preference. Either way, I love that lasagna isn’t hard to put together but is ‘fancy’ enough to serve to guests!

One Year Ago: Mini Quiche Lorraine 
Two Years Ago: Sweet Potato Butter
Three Years Ago: Carrot Soup

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chocolate Pudding Pie with Peanut Butter Cookie Crust

 Pin It

When I first met Ryan in college, I was seriously impressed by his cereal-eating ability. For me, cereal had always been a breakfast food. Not so for Ryan or his roommate Daniel. They kept at least 6 boxes of cereal in their dorm room at all times and it served not just as breakfast, but also as a mid-morning snack, a post-lunch dessert, a midnight snack…you get the picture. For the first four years of our marriage, the cereal affair continued. Ryan kept boxes of cereal at work which he enjoyed for breakfast each day, but we also kept a box or two at home for all of those other times a day when cereal was necessary. That all changed a few months ago when Ryan decided he and milk weren’t as great of friends as they once were, and cereal has become more of a rarity around these parts.

No cereal in the house means no milk in the house, since I don’t like milk all that much either (let it be known that, for both of us, ice cream is an entirely different obsession story). I do buy milk occasionally, usually when a recipe calls for it, but I’m not often left with excess milk on hand. Thankfully I have a few favorite ways of using extra milk: homemade ice cream, of course, but also pudding!
I think I’m finally getting the hang of homemade pudding, which requires patience and lots of stirring! This batch turned out perfect—no lumps and bursting with rich chocolate flavor. After reading the allrecipes.com reviews, I reduced the sugar and added some extra cornstarch. This resulted in a sturdier pudding, convenient when you’re putting it in a (peanut butter cookie!) crust and slicing pieces of pie. If you want a creamier (but likely, messier) pie, reduce the cornstarch by 1 tbsp. Although I kept things simple with the crust and pudding, this would be divine with homemade whipped cream on top!

One Year Ago: Crispy Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Eggs
Two Years Ago: Marshmallow Brownies
Three Years Ago: Veggie Tuna Pasta Bake

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Onions, and Feta

Pin It
 This post begs one of two questions: ‘How many ways can I make kale salads?’ and ‘How many ways can I add butternut squash to salads?’. To answer the, first, there’s this kale salad with apples and craisins, kale and shredded brussels sprouts salad, and this marinated kale and green bean salad, to name a few. And when it comes to butternut squash, I’ve put a Mexican spin on it, with black beans and rice, tossed itwith a tahini dressing, and mixed it with olives, apples, and feta. It’s obvious they’re two of my favorite salad ingredients, so it was only a matter of time until I put them together!
This makes a large salad portion—probably enough for 6-8 if you’re serving it as a side dish. Granted, four of us finished it off (and I probably ate 1/3 of it!). The dressing is simple (lemon juice, olive oil, salt, & pepper), but you don’t need anything fancy because the roasted squash, roasted red onion, and feta add plenty of flavor on their own. If you’re eating it as a main dish for lunch or a light dinner, bulk it up with some toasted and chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts!

One Year Ago: Seven Layer Greek Dip
Two Years Ago: Chicken Sausage Apple Couscous
Three Years Ago: Butterhorns

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cilantro Yogurt Marinated Chicken

 Pin It

We’re more than halfway through March and just a few days away from spring. FINALLY! We actually grilled this chicken over a month ago, when I was convinced that if started cooking like it was spring, the weather would cooperate. My attempts might have been unsuccessful, given the snowstorm we faced at the end of February, but eating food off of the grill at least made me feel like spring was around the corner!
This chicken is marinated in Greek yogurt and cilantro, which makes it incredibly tender. I’m sure regular yogurt would be fine, but since we often have a fridge full of Chobani, that’s what we used. I was a little disappointed that the cilantro flavor didn’t come through stronger (although it did provide a nice green tint to the chicken!), but this is easily solved by serving it with a few sprigs of cilantro on top.

Do you have a favorite marinade for grilled chicken? Let’s hear it!

One Year Ago: Thai Glazed Cashews
Two Years Ago: Cilantro Lime Black Bean and Sweet Potato Pitas
Three Years Ago: Zucchini Artichoke Spinach Quiche with Bulgur Crust