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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Odds & Ends

Pin It

1. How to Be a Good Dinner Party Guest: 41 Rules. I already talked about how much I liked their book, and this blog post by 
Jenny Rosenstrach is a great list of reminders for anyone who accepts a dinner invitation in someone's house!

2. This just in! After many comments from some of my readers, I've finally created printer-friendly recipes! Under each recipe you can find a "Printer-Friendly" link, which will take you to a new page that will print the recipe only--no pictures or sidebars. Maybe some day I'll go back and add this feature to archived recipes, but at the very least you can take advantage for all recipes going forward!

Banana Republic Ivonne Pump - Nude/black

3. My mom got me these Banana Republic pumps for my birthday and I wore them this past week and was thrilled to discover they are super comfortable! I have a love / hate relationship with most heels. I like how they look but I hate the pain they typically inflict...not a concern with these! They come in black to in case you're looking for a more neutral option!

Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Orange Avocado Dressing
4. Wanting to try a new salad? Give this Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Orange Avocado Dressing a try...we had it again recently (thank you Julia for making it and bringing it over!) and I was reminded why its one of my favorites!

One Year Ago: 4 Year Blogaversary & a BIG Announcement 
Two Years Ago: Peach Yogurt Bundt Cake
Three Years Ago: No Bake Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
Four Years Ago: Peanut Butter Cookies
Five Years Ago: Homemade Blizzards

Friday, August 29, 2014

Corn and Zucchini Salad with Feta

Pin It
Corn and Zucchini Salad with Feta | The Sweets Life
Corn and Zucchini Salad with Feta
One of the best things about the four unique seasons is that every couple of months a new bunch of foods are suddenly in season and you get to change up your cooking. I don’t know about you, but I’m always more than ready to kiss heavy soups and stews goodbye after a long winter! When it comes to summer foods, however, I’m never quite as eager to send them on their way.
Corn and Zucchini Salad with Feta | The Sweets Life

Although it’s almost time to start welcoming apples and pumpkins, cinnamon and sage into our kitchens, I’m still holding on to my summer favorites for a little while longer. This corn and zucchini salad is going to grace our table a few more times in the next few weeks. Even if you can no longer get fresh corn at its peak, pick up a bag of frozen corn and give this a try! The mix of flavors and textures makes for a unique contrast, but collectively it screams summer. Let’s hold onto those seasonal favorites just a little bit longer! 

One Year Ago: Smoky Pulled Pork with Tangy BBQ Sauce and German Chocolate Sheet Cake
Two Years Ago: White Chocolate, Cranberry, Oatmeal Bars 
Three Years Ago: Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf and Snickerdoodle Scones
Four Years Ago: Chicken, Mushroom, Asparagus Bread Pudding and Columbia Crest Cork & Fork Dinner Party

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Salsa Verde Quinoa Bake

Salsa Verde Quinoa Bake | The Sweets Life
Salsa Verde Quinoa Bake 
I am really getting on board this whole freezer meal thing. While it's a particularly lifesaver for me as a working mom, I can't imagine there's a single person who wouldn't be excited to skip a night of cooking without having to resort to takeout or fast food, simply because you have a meal or two in the freezer. This salsa verde quinoa bake actually wasn't intended to be a freezer meal; I made it one weekend and had it in the fridge, ready to bake, when plans changed and we didn't end up baking it or eating it. Rather than shift the remainder of my menu plan for the week, I decided to see how it froze.
Pin ItSalsa Verde Quinoa Bake | The Sweets Life
A few weeks later, I transferred this from the freezer to the fridge on what I knew would be a busy weeknight. The only work I had to do that afternoon, aside from putting it in the oven, was to top it with crushed tortilla chips and cheese. Any step I can manage with a baby on my hip is totally doable! 
Salsa Verde Quinoa Bake | The Sweets Life
My inspiration for this dish was actually a completely different recipe which, after a few major changes, resulted in this fabulous casserole. On a whim I picked up three jars of salsa verde and I can already tell you that the other two will be used to make this dish twice more! You could easily swap a different kind of bean (or even chicken!), switch out the vegetables, or add shredded pepperjack on top for more of a kick. This is so easy to make and doesn't require a ton of dishes; double your batch and make one for tonight and one for the freezer!

One Year Ago: Lightened Up Pad Thai and Mixed Fruit Chicken Salad
Two Years Ago: Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits and Lemon Basil Hummus
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars and Summer Tomato, Feta, and Basil Galette
Four Years Ago: Banana Blueberry Bread and Salsa Verde Bake (another version, also vegetarian!)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Zucchini and Walnut Arugula Salad with Basil Lemon Vinaigrette

Zucchini and Walnut Arugula Salad with Basil Lemon Vinaigrette | The Sweets Life
Zucchini and Walnut Arugula Salad with Basil Lemon Vinaigrette 
My birthday was last week and I'm now the big 2-8. If I'm being honest, 27 is going to be a tough year to top! We traveled to a few really fun places, made a lot of great memories with our families and friends, and most importantly, welcomed Brecken into our lives, who has proven to be the greatest joy we ever could have imagined! 
Pin ItZucchini and Walnut Arugula Salad with Basil Lemon Vinaigrette | The Sweets Life
There are a lot of people who moan and groan about growing older and while I understand why, I feel like I'm becoming more of the person I was created to be as time goes on. I said something similar last year when I turned 27, and it's amazing to reflect back on the past year and see that same sentiment ring even truer. 

Here's to another year of growth, of health & happiness, and of good food! Salads like this certainly help achieve all of those things. I've made this salad a few different times now and can attest to its super healthy and happy powers ;) We have always eaten it as a side dish, but add some protein (chickpeas, chicken) and you have yourself a satisfying main dish...maybe make some wheat oat flax buns to serve alongside!

One Year Ago: St. Louis Food Media Forum
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bars
Three Years Ago: Strawberry Basil Pesto Pasta Salad and Harvest Restaurant
Four Years Ago: Banana Caramel Cake and Roasted Red Pepper Artichoke Bruschetta

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Odds & Ends

Pin It

1. Two Couples, One Mortgage. Does this intrigue you? Freak you out? Can you even imagine it? My sister and I have joked about having a large house with an adjoining door, much like you'll find in hotel rooms. While even that seems like a bit of a stretch, this takes it to a whole new level. Could it ever work?

(image source)
2. Confession: I have a soft spot for pop tarts. My BFF Colleen and I used to buy s'mores pop-tarts and eat them in the trunk of her SUV back in our glory days in high school. I don't know that I've eaten a pop-tart since high school, but every so often the urge strikes and I find myself questioning whether they'll be as good as I remember. Reading this Pop-Tart Taste Test on Serious Eats left me craving them, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to pick up a box, and soon. The question is, do I go with the s'mores, brown sugar, or frosted strawberry?!

3. This is just depressing. Think the U.S. will ever get with the times?!?!

4. Last summer I did a giveaway for Kodiak Cakes flapjack & waffle mix, and they're back this summer with a NEW product to share! They sent me some of their new Power Cakes mix to try and our household is officially smitten! The Power Cakes differ from the original in that they have added (non-soy) protein. Like the original mix, they only need water and the batter is ready, but you can add milk or milk + an egg for even more protein. One of the worst things about pancakes is that, as delicious as they are, they leave you hungry an hour later...not so with Kodiak's Power Cakes! Our favorite way to eat them is topped with jam, as you can see in the picture above. I've always been hugely impressed with Kodiak Cakes (they're not paying me to say that, I really love their stuff!) and I'm thrilled they're letting 5 of you (U.S.-based readers only, my apologies to anyone outside the States) give Power Cakes a try! Leave a comment [and a valid email] with what you're eating for breakfast today. I'll pick the 5 winners this Tuesday at 8 pm Central and contact you all via email! Given that people are reluctant to leave comments over here, there's a good shot you'll win! Winners have been notified!

One Year Ago: Orzo with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil
Two Years Ago: Bourbon BBQ Chicken
Three Years Ago: Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Four Years Ago: Brownie Roll Out Cookies

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lemon Layered Cheesecake

Lemon Layered Cheesecake | The Sweets Life
Lemon Layered Cheesecake 
This here is the easiest (and potentially most gorgeous) cheesecake you'll ever make! You aren't baking it, so you don't have to worry about over or under baking it, OR dealing with a giant crack through it. You use a loaf pan to shape it, so uniformity is a given. You throw a ton of blueberries on top, so even if it isn't picture perfect when you peel off the plastic wrap, it will be post-blueberry assembly. 
Pin ItLemon Layered Cheesecake | The Sweets Life
Even if it was hard to pull off, I'd still be encouraging you to make it because it is so dang good! Good enough to tempt our friends to cheat on their 30-day paleo diet (names omitted to protect the innocent). Good enough to eat two slices in one evening (again, names omitted to protect the innocent). Good enough that I've already created a second version of this that I'll be sharing with you in a few weeks (get excited, very excited!).
Lemon Layered Cheesecake | The Sweets Life
It can be made in less than 15 minutes, then requires an 8-hour rest in the fridge. I found it best within that 8-24 hour mark, but it will still keep in the fridge for a few more days. I love everything about this and I'm willing to bet you will too!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Pudding Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Swirl and Black Bean and Greens Tacos with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions
Two Years Ago: Greek Tomato Tart and Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Chocolate Layer Cake
Three Years Ago: S'Mores Cheesecake Bars and Lemon Basil Hummus
Four Years Ago: Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches | The Sweets Life
Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches 
It’s back to school season! I noticed school supply stuff popping up at Target immediately after the Fourth of July and most of my teacher friends are already back at it. I know how crazy this time of year gets. Long gone are the endless summer nights where you might finally come inside at 8 pm and decide some homegrown tomatoes and ice cream cones will suffice for dinner. It’s back to routine and schedules and family dinner.
Pin ItSlow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches | The Sweets Life

Just because the rest of your life is getting more complicated, doesn’t mean dinner has to. This meal is so easy it’ll leave you plenty of time to help with homework, pick the kids up from soccer practice, and still make time for the host of new shows waiting on your DVR. It is simply a matter of throwing a few ingredients in your slow cooker, setting it on low, and then coming back at the end of the day when you’re ready to eat. Serve the meat in your bread / rolls of choice with a simple salad and dinner is served! Better yet, do as I did and make a bigger roast than you need and freeze the leftovers so all you have to do is thaw and reheat another night!

One Year Ago: Cilantro Butter Chicken and No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Two Years Ago: Green Bean and Prosciutto Salad Bundles and Hot Caprese Dip
Three Years Ago: No Bake Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake and Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Balls
Four Years Ago: Snickerdoodle Blondies

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quinoa Applesauce Oatmeal Bread

Quinoa Applesauce Oatmeal Bread | The Sweets Life
 Pre-Brecken, I would sometimes spend an entire Saturday in the kitchen, knocking out half a dozen recipes. Sometimes it was for blog content, sometimes it was to relieve the stress of weeknight cooking, and sometimes it was simply because there was a recipe I was dying to try. Nowadays it's rare that I'll spend a big chunk of dedicated time in the kitchen, although I do try to squeeze in blocks of cooking during weekend naps! Brecken has always been a fantastic nighttime sleeper, spoiling us with 11 hours a night without a peep (KNOCK ON WOOD), but naptimes aren't nearly as predictable! Because I never know if I have 30 minutes or 90 minutes, and I want to spend her awake time focusing on her, the recipes I plan for naptime have to be relatively fast!
Pin It

Quinoa Applesauce Oatmeal Bread | The Sweets Life
Quick breads are the perfect naptime recipe. The preparation time is mere minutes and then it's off to the oven! I got a little experimental with this bread, starting with a King Arthur recipe for a base and then throwing a bunch of my own stuff into it. I had some leftover quinoa that I threw in there and was excited to discover that it completely disappeared, unlike the banana quinoa muffins I'm so fond of. If there was ever a need to sneak quinoa into someone's tummy, this is a surefire way to make it happen! I loved the crunch from the walnuts and the bites of sweet craisins, but you could just as easily leave plain (I bet it'd be really good with jam spread atop!) or toss in your favorite mix-ins. I only had sweetened applesauce on hand, so I reduced the amount of added sugar to the recipe, but you could just as easily experiment, depending on how sweet or healthful you want this to be. 
Quinoa Applesauce Oatmeal Bread | The Sweets Life
Even if you aren't trying to squeeze baking in and around naptimes, you won't complain about this quick quick bread!

One Year Ago: Photo an Hour-Road Trip Style
Two Years Ago: Peach, Avocado, and Arugula Panzanella  
Three Years Ago: S'Mores Ice Cream and Grilled Chicken & Peaches Salad
Four Years Ago: Oreo Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffles and Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Odds & Ends

Pin It

1. The 1200 Calorie Myth. I've gotten to the point where I can't even read a lot of women's health and fitness magazines because it sickens me to read the often ridiculous and, quite frankly, dangerous meal plans or diets that so many of them promote. I'm sad to think how many young women believe this and get caught in an unhealthy trap of under-fueling their bodies. This article spells out just how dangerous it can be and having teetered on the edge of this problem in the past, I am glad there are some people out there raising the issue and combating the misinformation!
(image source)

2. That hotel, above? That's where I'm staying for the next few days! As you read this I'm just arriving to the Ritz Carlton in Abu Dhabi, UAE where I'll be on business for the first half of this week. I am pretty heartbroken about being away from Brecken, but the fact that I'm visiting a new country (not to mention a new part of the world for me!) and staying in such an amazing place softens the blow...slightly. This is my third business trip away from B and it doesn't get any easier...thank goodness for Facetime and family members who put up with my constant requests for pictures!

(image source)

3. I've mentioned that I'm a huge podcast listener; I never run to music anymore--always podcasts or my own thoughts! My favorite recently? The Relevant Podcast, from the creators of Relevant magazine. The first time I listened I wasn't totally sold, but now that I've gotten to know the hosts and their senses of humor, I look forward to every single Friday when a new one comes out. [side note--isn't it always so weird when you put faces to voices you've been hearing awhile? That's how I felt when I checked out their pictures!]

Chewy Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies | The Sweets Life

4. Reader Tony popped over to the archives to leave a comment on my Chewy Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies. He declared them amazing, and you will too! Give 'em a try!

One Year Ago: Chickpea Mango Spinach Salad
Two Years Ago: Chicken Zucchini Pasta
Three Years Ago: Blue Cheese Cheesecake with Pear Onion Jam
Four Years Ago: Blueberry Lime Scones

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars | The Sweets Life
Blueberry Oatmeal Bars
When I made blueberry buckle coffee cake, I told you I hadn't been doing much baking with blueberries this summer. I've since been making up for lost time, and I'm now regretting not making this much, much sooner in berry season! I brought these to my brother-in-law's 30th birthday party a few weeks ago, knowing he is a huge fan of blueberry desserts (remember the blueberry flan from a few years ago?).
Pin ItBlueberry Oatmeal Bars | The Sweets Life
The next day I asked him what he thought of them and he broke the news that they had all disappeared before he had a chance to try them! It was then that Ryan, my father-in-law, and other brother-in-law Daniel all 'fessed up...not only had they each tried some, but they'd eaten multiple.
Blueberry Oatmeal Bars | The Sweets Life
Although the birthday boy didn't get to enjoy these, there's no question of whether or not they were a hit! Make 'em quick, while blueberries are still easy (and inexpensive!) to find. 

One Year Ago: Summer Rice Salad and Chocolate Nutella Cookies
Two Years Ago: Amaretto Blondies and Buffalo Sloppy Joes
Three Years Ago: Balsamic Feta Slaw and Vegan Mango Banana Bread

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Turkey Meatball Subs

Turkey Meatball Subs | The Sweets Life
Turkey Meatball Subs 
I love thinking about the type of person Brecken will grow up to be. The jury's still out on which parent she more closely resembles...everyone was Team Ryan for awhile but more recently things seem to be swinging the other way, which I am equally excited and horrified about (puuuulease don't let her get my hair, or paddle feet!). As far as personality goes, she seems to an adorable mix of laid back and dramatic, depending on the day and the occasion. If you guessed that her calm, cool, and collected side comes from me, you definitely don't know me as well as you think you do! Ryan is the calming force in our family, and something I'm forever grateful for, even if there are times I wish he'd show just a pinch of emotion!
Pin ItTurkey Meatball Subs | The Sweets Life
That being said, I'm always doubly thrilled when he does get excited about something, because you can count on that excitement to be completely genuine. It's because of this that I can give you a wholehearted review of these turkey meatball subs. They got the (unprompted) compliment from Ryan both evenings we sat down to eat them for dinner! They're your average turkey meatball with some jazzed up tomato sauce and yet they totally hit the mark! You can shape the meatballs a day ahead of time and refrigerate overnight if you wish, turning this into a very doable weeknight meal!

Meatball subs not your thing? Toss these, and the sauce, over some pasta (or spaghetti squash, for you low-carbers out there!) instead!

One Year Ago: Zucchini Saute with Parmesan and Pecans and Island Pork Salad
Two Years Ago: Zippy Egg Casserole and Nectarine and Prosciutto Pizza
Three Years Ago: Southern Banana Pudding Cheesecake and Bean, Cheese, and Vegetable Enchiladas
Four Years Ago: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles with Blueberry Syrup and Shrimp & Apple Kabobs with Curried Lentils

Turkey Meatball Subs

Printer-Friendly Recipe
-5 hoagie rolls, split
-3 tbsp milk
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-1 lb ground turkey breast
-1 large egg white
-4 tsp olive oil, divided
-3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
-1 tsp minced fresh garlic
-1/4 cup dry white wine
-1 3/4 cup marinara sauce
-1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
-1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
-5 tsp grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat broiler. Remove a bit of the top and bottom halves of the hoagie rolls, leaving a 1/2 inch thick shell. Place the torn bread in a large bowl and add the milk, stirring until smooth. Add the oregano, turkey, salt, and egg white, stirring just until combined.
2. Use damp hands to shape mixture into 16 meatballs. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add the meatballs and cook for 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. (This may have to be done in 2 batches, depending on the size of your pan). Transfer meatballs to a plate and set aside.
3. Add remaining 1 tsp of oil to the pan, swirling to coat. Add the onion and garlic, sautéing until tender (about 4 minutes). Add wine, cook for 1 minute. Stir in marinara, basil, and vinegar. Bring mixture to a boil and add meatballs. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
4. Arrange rolls, cut sides up, on a baking sheet and broil until toasted (about 1 minute). Top rolls with meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.

from Cooking Light March 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Garlic Feta Cheese Dip

Garlic Feta Cheese Dip | The Sweets Life
Garlic Feta Cheese Dip 
I’m sitting on an airplane on a Sunday evening, en route to Seattle for a business trip, and I’m attempting to draft a blog post about this feta dip. If I ever thought I was too busy to blog, it’s even truer now that I’m a mom. Blogging gets squeezed into whatever time I can find, either in the short window of time between Brecken’s bedtime and my own, or on weekends while she naps, provided I’m not in the kitchen actually creating content for the blog! It’s actually more common for me to knock out a huge list of posts at once…we road trip frequently enough that I can usually spend the majority of a drive to Chicago drafting posts and editing photos, only to get them in the blog queue once I have an internet connection.

Pin ItGarlic Feta Cheese Dip | The Sweets Life
Every blogger has a different method behind the madness, and that’s what works for me right now. The bummer is that sometimes I’m working on a handful of posts at once, and I find myself struggling with writer’s block, unable to come up with a little anecdote to share. This is all a really long way of saying I don’t have anything brilliant or inspired to share with you about this dip. It’s not at all because this isn’t a great recipe—it’s actually one of my favorite appetizers as of late—I’m just all out of creative juices at the moment. Instead of forcing it, I’m just going to suggest you trust me on this one and make this next time you need a super quick, super simple appetizer. It can be made a day or two ahead of time and tastes good with baguette slices, veggies, pita chips, or crackers!

One Year Ago: Pesto BLT's
Four Years Ago: San Diego Eats and Zucchini Pancakes

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Odds & Ends: Pop, Fizz, Clink Wedding Shower

Pin It
Odds & Ends | The Sweets Life

It's been over a month since my cousin's Pop, Fizz, Clink wedding shower, but I couldn't let too much time pass before sharing some photos! I'm veering from the normal Odds & Ends template because these pictures are just begging to be shared!
Pop, Fizz, Clink Wedding Shower | The Sweets Life

Though I was a co-hostess, my mom gets all the credit for the amazing execution of this shower. I helped plan the menu and cook some of the food, but the transformation of the room into a Kate Spade wonderland!
Pop, Fizz, Clink Wedding Shower | The Sweets Life
Pop, Fizz, Clink Wedding Shower | The Sweets Life
Pop, Fizz, Clink Wedding Shower | The Sweets Life
Pop, Fizz, Clink Wedding Shower | The Sweets Life

As always, feel free to email me with questions! (natalie@thesweetslife.com)

One Year Ago: Napa Cabbage Slaw
Two Years Ago: Caprese Burgers
Three Years Ago: Lemon Blueberry Gingersnap Cheesecake Parfaits
Four Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Muffins