Eats Lately

Happy Friday! We have a pretty low-key weekend in store, but it’s still always nice to make it to Friday. Dave is finally getting his car back today after 2 1/2 weeks in the shop, and we’ll finally get to hang out with our friends Em and Dan again now that they’re back from their honeymoon. Yippee! I was sad to let the Jeep go, but Dave’s friend Andy assured me there would be a playdate in the future to ease the pain, ha ha.

Monday night’s dinner reminded me that I want to make my own pretzel buns. They’re such a nice change in flavor and texture from regular hamburger buns. It’s supposed to storm this weekend, so it might be a perfect time to make a big batch for our freezer. And I seem to remember promising some to a friend for a housewarming gift…

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I served veggie burgers on the pretzel buns with spicy roasted potatoes and steamed (microwaved) veggies on the side. I accidentally bought “steam in the bag” vegetables at the store, but they were actually quite good.

They came in a garlic butter sauce, but there was still only 200 calories in the entire bag of veggies, which was pretty decent. Plus it was nice not having to heat the oven for an extra dish. (Something I am always concerned about since we don’t have air conditioning this summer).

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Tuesday was my late night at work, and I didn’t feel like cooking. Fortunately, I had made a big pasta salad on Sunday for this week’s lunches with grape tomatoes, cucumber, corn, and feta cheese with a lemon vinaigrette. I loved the fun shape of the pasta that I picked up at the market a few weeks ago. I stirred in some tuna for protein and called it a meal.

Wednesday, I decided to make gnocchi for dinner, but I wasn’t sure how to prepare it. I remembered we had some bacon in the freezer and was thinking about adding spinach before realizing I was really craving Brussels sprouts. I thought I was coming up with something new and exciting until I searched my blog and realized I had made the same exact dish a year and three months ago. Ha ha.

This year’s dish knocked last year’s out of the park, though. Instead of boiling the Brussels sprouts, I went with my gut instinct and roasted them with a diced onion until they caramelized before adding them to the sauteed garlic and pan seared gnocchi with bacon, broth, and wine. At the end, I stirred in the Parmesan and about half a cup of bleu cheese crumbles.

007 (2)It was kind of a putzy dish since I had to cook the bacon, boil the gnocchi, and roast the Brussels sprouts before finally pan-cooking everything together, but it was so worth it. Bacon, brussels, and bleu cheese are a winning combo. Dave ate dinner hours after I did, so I kept going back to the kitchen and picking out bleu-cheese covered Brussels sprouts. Those are the repercussions he pays. 🙂

Thursday, I used some of the same ingredients from the night before: I sauteed bacon, Brussels sprouts, and onions in a pan on the stove, then served them over pan-fried polenta and salmon with fresh rosemary from the garden.

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One again, I made more dishes than I wanted to, but it seems unavoidable sometimes. Once our lettuce starts exploding, I guarantee I’ll be making lots of salads for dinner: less cooking and fewer dishes!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

 

Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower

Last weekend I had the house all to myself. That meant I got to sleep with a quilt over my legs without fear of it being kicked away by Dave, and I could eat one of the two things I like but Dave doesn’t: cauliflower. (The other is mac and cheese).

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Dave says cauliflower tastes like death. I asked him how he knows what death tastes like and he answered, “You don’t want to know.”

Well then.

I had this cauliflower recipe pinned for a few months, and this weekend was the perfect time to make it. It was so easy and soooo good. If you like cauliflower and buffalo sauce, that is.

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Buffalo-Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of buffalo-style hot sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a 13 x 9 pan, toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, turning once.

Remove florets from oven. In a glass bowl, toss florets with butter and buffalo sauce. (I just eyeballed the amount of sauce while stirring with a rubber scraper until all the florets were covered). Transfer the cauliflower back to the baking pan.

Turn broiler on, and cook the cauliflower under the broiler for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cauliflower starts getting a little browned and crispy-looking.

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I served my Buffalo-Roasted Cauliflower with a dip I made from plain Greek yogurt, ranch powder, and bleu cheese crumbles. That was my dinner. An entire head of cauliflower with bleu cheese dip. Nobody ever got fat from eating too many vegetables, right?

Lately

My friends Emily and Dan went on their (delayed) honeymoon this week, so I’ve been taking care of a few things around their house: checking the mail, watering the plants (the few days it didn’t rain), and feeding their pet hedgehog, Miss Marple.

I only got a glimpse of her one day so far; the rest of the time she was hiding under her blue blanket. I thought we would be besties after the week was over, but no dice.

Look who I found lounging in their backyard by the herbs when I was watering…

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Sneaky little bugger. I actually thought he was hurt because his legs were sprawled out behind him, but when I went to check, he bounced up and hopped off with no problem. Apparently he was just real comfy.

We are still waiting for Dave’s car to get fixed, but check out my new (temporary) ride:

004I have always wanted to own a forest green Jeep, and Dave’s friend Andy kindly lent us his car to borrow…a forest green Jeep! What are the odds. I’ve been taking good care of his baby, and while I’d love to ride in it with the canvas top down, I probably wouldn’t be able to get it back up and I’d flood the car. Oh, well. I’m still having fun with it. I am not having fun with the amount of money Dave and I have spent on gas in the last couple weeks….yeesh.

This week’s eats included baked salmon and roasted broccoli.

006I had a great idea for a Greek-salad inspired salmon that was better in theory than actual execution. I topped it with feta, diced tomatoes, diced onions, and sliced green olives, but it was missing something juicy to bring it all together. If I try it again, I’ll definitely use some balsamic vinaigrette.

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The roasted broccoli was delicious, of course, especially with basil from the garden.

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Tuesday night I made veggie pizza with the last of Dave’s pre-made frozen pizza dough. Our pizzas have been turning out excellent with the frozen dough. Maybe they’re getting extra flavor when they warm up in the fridge? I topped this one with mozzarella, spinach, red onions, green olives, and some Parmesan and served myself some more roasted veggies on the side. Dave didn’t get veggies, just extra pizza. 🙂

Wednesday night I made Mexican rice bowls, which was basically a naked burrito: brown rice with black beans, diced tomatoes, and homemade taco seasoning topped with avocado, lettuce, salsa, red onions, shredded cheddar, and plain Greek yogurt.

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Yesterday Dave and I both had off, which was lovely. We finally got to spend some time together! But first, I was on my own at the DMV. I would never subject Dave to that more than he has to–it was so uncomfortable.

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Forty five minutes waiting across from a guy who was telling his friend how he broke out of restraints at a mental hospital and how, when he is given six months to live, threatened to go after people he doesn’t like. When he started questioning loudly why everyone got to go ahead of him, I prayed that my number wouldn’t be called before his. Safe!

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My goal was to take a better picture than I did last time, and I think I succeeded. (On a side note, check out this beauty that I found while looking for my birth certificate:

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Ha ha ha! I love my black hair and Davy’s little chin puff.

When I got home, Dave was out in the garden, ripping up weeds. Unfortunately, he also ripped up a bunch of perennials, including two that my mom bought me a month ago.

At least this one escaped his weed wrath.

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Pretty Primrose.

I also repotted a bunch of tomatoes. Come the end of summer, we’re going to have tomatoes coming out of our yin yang! (I assume that’s what Babette would say).

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Our lettuce is also doing quite well.

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As are our herbs.

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There’s room for one more, so I think I’m going to plant another basil. The mint loves this weather, but the basil wants it a little hotter, methinks. It’s still so tiny.

Unfortunately, the rabbits got our zucchini and cucumber plants. I can’t be too mad at them, though–they just want to eat like the rest of us.

I bought these adorable Mason jar measuring cups at World Market a few weeks ago, which turned out to be perfect for measuring arborio rice.

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Last night’s dinner: Spinach and Artichoke Risotto with Shrimp.

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I don’t know if there’s any kind of risotto that’s better than another, it always seems to be delicious. I love that this one is a full meal in itself with protein, veggies, and grain. So good.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

Homeward Bound

I know why people say, “Home is where the heart is.” Hearts are like horcruxes. Every time you move, your heart splits into another piece and leaves it behind, and it’s impossible for all pieces to be in the same place at the same time.

I squooshed my four days to work last week Monday to Thursday so I could take Friday off and have a long weekend. Though it pained me to leave Davy at one of my homes considering I hadn’t seen him much last week, I was on a mission. Even though I had Friday off, I woke up uncharacteristically early which gave me time to do some chores around the house and snuggle with the kitties.

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They never ever both cuddle with me at the same time (unless I’m asleep), so I had to snap a picture. Maybe because it was Friday the 13th!

Around 11:00, I drove straight to Manitowoc to spend the day working with my mom at the new shop she’s managing.

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She was busy with customers, so she put me to work tagging tea, popcorn, and working on a few displays. They weren’t even technically open yet, so it was amazing how busy it was.

012I also got to put a fairy garden together!

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The time flew by and soon it was time to meet my friend Amanda’s parents for dinner.

We walked over the river to one of my mom’s favorite Manitowoc restaurants: 8th and York.

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Mom and I got there a little early, so we ordered a bottle of wine to split.

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020The atmosphere of the restaurant was very unique, as it was inside of an old national bank.

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Someone please explain why there is a couch in the bathroom. Is it for gal pals who go in groups?

Mom ordered us spring rolls to start; she said they were amazing here, and she was right!

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The cilantro dipping sauce really made the spring roll.

As for the menu, they had an interesting combination of food, an upscale American-Asian-Mexican fusion. I ordered the fish tacos, which were described as “two flour tortillas filled with sweet flaky whitefish, and topped with pico de gallo spicy remoulade, shredded lettuce and sour cream.” I chose a salad as my side with balsamic vinaigrette.

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It was a nice mixture of lettuces instead of all-iceberg, which was refreshing.

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My fish tacos were delicious. The whitefish was perfectly cooked, but I especially loved the spicy remoulade. It had a nice kick that paired nicely with the sour cream.

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Dave and I don’t go out to eat very often, so it was fun to have a night out on the town again. The honey moon acted as a flashlight for me on my drive home….the home my parents live in, that is.

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The next morning I was up bright and early to have coffee with my parents. They have a very different routine when it comes to coffee. It is consumed on lawn chairs as the sun comes up, and you only drink a half cup at a time, refilling it for an hour or two until it’s time to start the day. After coffee, I took a little road trip with Dad to the landfill and then came back and got ready for the day…..then took a bunch of pictures of my mom’s pretty garden.

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I was really excited to see a bumble bee–it’s been ages.033

I had plans to meet my friend Nicole for coffee at noon, so I decided to go visit my friend Shelby for a little bit first. As it was still early and she was not yet showered, I didn’t take any pictures, even though she looked as beautiful as always. 🙂

I went to my grandma’s house to visit for a little bit, but was surprised to find that everyone was still asleep at 11:00. Instead of hanging around there, I made a quick pit stop at Gordman’s and snagged a $10 swimsuit-cover-up to wear as a dress to the play. I had mine all layed out with a sweater and belt and left it hanging on the door at home. (!!!!)

I decided to park at my grandma’s house and walk to meet Nicole to get a little sun and exercise.

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The Locktender’s house just opened on the river as a little cafe, and I was itching to try it. My dad’s friend owns it, and it is being run by my favorite coffee shop in Green Bay: Kavarna.

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The server was working on the menu, so I wasn’t able to see what they had. I ordered an iced coffee and veggies with hummus once he assured me those were available, and Nicole and I headed out to the river to chat and take in the beautiful day.

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It was so good to see Nicole again! She and I used to be as close as peas and carrots, but life happened. We had a lovely time catching up, and we stayed outside so long that I completely forgot that I was getting roasted by the sun.

It was beautiful, but I had to go back to get my birthday present of dinner and a show; Mom and Emily bought me a ticket to see The Phantom of the Opera!

Mom and I picked up her friend Debbie and headed to Appleton to enjoy dinner at Good Company before the show.

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There was a 45 minute wait, so we sat at the bar and enjoyed a cocktail.

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Look at my lovely sunburn. That will teach me to go out without sunscreen.

Eventually, it started getting so late that we were worried about getting to the show in time. We asked if we could just eat at the bar, and the bartender said, “Or you could sit at the open table behind you. Those reserved seats are just for people drinking at the bar.” (Um…..why didn’t you say that an hour ago?)

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I was famished having only eaten veggies and hummus all day, so I dug into the bread as soon as they brought it out.

Mom, Debbie, and I were having so much fun talking–those girls are a hoot!

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I ordered the Veggie Ruben with french fries, and ate it in approximately 3 minutes, both due to hunger and anticipation of getting to the play on time.

054It was good, but it would have been better if I didn’t have to hoover it.

We made it to the play with plenty of time to spare.

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I’m not sure why they use this full mask on their programs, since The Phantom only ever seems to have a half mask on. Curious.

The show itself was just……incredible. Just like every time I see a musical, I remember that I want to learn to sing and dance and become a stage actress.

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Even working backstage would be wonderful. It is amazing what they can do now with scenery. This was my first time seeing the play, and all I could think about on the way home was how much I want to see the movie now. It was a wonderful birthday present, and I’m so glad I got to go.

Mom and I got home late, and I was up early again the next day for Father’s Day. After our coffee routine, I picked up my sister Emily and my niece Aurelia, and we headed to my grandparent’s house so my dad could wish his dad a ‘Happy Father’s Day.’

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I haven’t been to my grandparent’s house in awhile, so we had fun playing with all the toys in their garage.

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This is my grandma’s new dog Toby, who I met for the first time: he’s part Pomeranian and part Terrier.

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We stayed at Grandma and Grandpa’s for an hour or so and then headed to the park with some groceries to cook out.

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We were at the park for less than an hour when a strong gale wind came whipping through, and rain threatened overhead. The rain definitely thwarted our cookout plan, so we drove over to my brother’s apartment instead. Luckily, the sun came out, and the wind died down.

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Linner was a veggie dog, broccoli salad, potato salad, pita chips with hummus and some chips, after which I convinced my family to take a group picture for Father’s Day.

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We definitely need some work.

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That’s a little better.

The day flew by, and soon I was in the car again, homeward bound to Davy.

A Summer List

It has been another crazy week. My poor Davy called me Tuesday morning when I got up for work. “Ready to have your day ruined? I hit a deer.”

Remember that new car we got last year?

This is what it looks like now.

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We’re still waiting to see if the car is totaled or not, but instead of focusing on that, here’s a list of things I am looking forward to, present and future.

Eating: frozen grapes. I love having a bowl of them after dinner. It’s the iciness of a cube that pops into a sweet burst of flavor. So good. Like an icee pop for adults. (Except we also have icee pops in our freezer….)

Drinking: mojitos. I made them for the first time this week with some mint from our garden. So refreshing I had two in a row.

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Practicing: being calm. Choosing to find things funny instead of getting upset about them.

Mastering: keeping the kitchen floor clean. It’s a battle every week. I will sweep it, vacuum it, Swiffer it, and mop it (all in a row), and two minutes later, it’s dirty again.

Learning: sign language. It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn (for no particular reason, although Mr. Holland helped), so I think I’ll either take a class at the university in town or do an online course in the next year. I think it will be good to exercise my brain a little and learn something new.

Trying: to keep my vegetable and herb plants alive. Dave is especially protective: “Did you water the tomatoes yet?! They need love!” It reminds me of when my mom used to sing to her plants to help them grow.

Playing: outside. Biking, walking, sticking my hand out an open car window, watering the plants, reading on a beach blanket on our lawn–I am trying to put as little space between me and the summer air as I can.

Finishing: about two dozen jars of Inglehoffer Creamy Dill Mustard with Lemon & Capers by myself in the last year. I told Dave to join me, but he is afraid I will go berserk if he finishes a jar of mustard without me.

Reading: books from my bookshelf instead of buying new ones. I’ve already reread The Da Vinci Code, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier and Little Bee, and now I’m onto To Kill a Mockingbird.

Remembering: Dave’s Grandma Ardy and my Uncle Andy. This Saturday would have been my uncle’s next birthday and as musical as he was, I think it’s fitting that we’re going to see The Phantom of the Opera.

Wearing: dresses, skirts, leggings, and lavender body spray. Because pants are too hot, and I want to smell like a flower.

Cooking: on the grill. Bison burgers, asparagus, romaine, watermelon, baby red potatoes, and brie (which I have yet to try!). Everything tastes better on the grill.

Working: ten hour shifts so I can have a day off during the week. The days are longer, but Thursdays are much sweeter.

Traveling: from the middle of the state to the northeast part of the state. Dave and I have mostly been sticking close to home, but I have several fun things planned near our old town this summer: a musical this weekend and Illgenstock to name a couple.

Wanting: everything a little more than is practical.

Couples’ Weekend

Hey, guys! How was your weekend?

Last week was long and stressful, so Dave and I were more than eager to let loose with some of our best friends. In fact, I had so much fun welcoming Tess and Jake on Friday night that I didn’t take any pictures!  We sat around the bonfire with cocktails and s’mores for as long as we could before calling it a night.

Saturday, we had plenty to do. First we convened at Em and Dan’s for a walk to the market.

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Unlike our sad little lilac bush whose blooms have already disappeared, Em and Dan had some in a jar on their kitchen table. Is there a better scent in the world (besides old books and pipe tobacco and freshly cut grass and lavender)?

Breakfast at the market: spring rolls with peanut sauce.

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Dave couldn’t pass up the beautiful asparagus, so we bought two big bunches.

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We stopped at the bike shop to look around and decided to split a root beer.

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Old school machine with a $1 deposit on the bottle.

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The lovely soda model.

We knew it was supposed to storm and wanted to take advantage of the day as best we could, so we headed to the beach early in the day to catch some sun. My friend Amanda and her boyfriend Tyler (who happens to be my brother and also one of my best friends…phew!) came to join us just in time.

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Four pairs of couples: so fun!

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Dan & Em.

014Tess & Jake.

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Plus, Davy and me!

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And the best beach towel ever.

We got a little over an hour of beach time in before the rain started coming down. We chose to make a run for it.

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Others didn’t seem to mind so much.

After a change of clothes, we reconvened. The gentlemen had their pipes.

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And the ladies had their knitting.

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I….took pictures.

Next up was a trip to the grocery store for dinner supplies, and then a visit to Great Northern Distillery. This is our third time there in a couple months–we’re starting to be regulars!

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Since we had such a large group, we took up temporary residence at the giant log table.

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It’s a cool idea, even if it is a little hard to interact with people across the logs.

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My drink was delicious and refreshing, albeit a little sweet for my taste. I hope they decide to make a martini soon!

After the distillery, we headed back to Dan and Em’s to cook dinner. Dan was in charge of two racks of rosemary ribs and potatoes with onion, Dave seared a tuna steak, and I have no idea who took care of the asparagus.

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(Please note how Dave’s hands are as pink as the tuna! That boy does not tan).

I do know that dinner was incredibly delicious.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve had ribs, and it’s been even longer since I’ve had tuna steak.

Fortunately, the rain had stopped in time for us to grill out and then head back outside for a fire.

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Christmas is finally over. Burn it!

Sunday, we dropped off Dave’s car to be fixed and did a little grocery shopping before joining together again to lounge and have a lazy Sunday.

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For lunch, we had sandwiches and vegetable chips.

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Mine was piled high with hummus, guacamole, pickles, spinach, horseradish cheddar, jalapeno yogurt cheese, ham, turkey, pepperoni, and a little mustard on rosemary bread. Much better than any sandwich we could have bought pre-made for lunch.

Unfortunately, the day had to end and with it, the weekend.

Eats Lately

“Trust you to like the most complicated form of scrambled eggs ever,” Dave said to me Sunday night as we ate dinner: French scrambled eggs with spinach and shredded cheddar over homemade half-wheat grilled naan.

Eggs are one of only foods I am picky about. I love fried eggs when the yolk is runny, but not if the yolk is hard. I love hardboiled eggs, but any sort of dish that consists of scrambled egg whites and egg yolks, i.e. frittata, omelets, and regular ol’ scrambled eggs: no can do. If they’re made with just the whites, fine. The only time I really appreciate a good mixed white-and-yolk omelet is at Illgenstock when they’re homemade after a hard night’s fun. Does that make sense? No, I didn’t think so.

Last Saturday, Dave and I watched an episode of Food Tube where Jamie Oliver showcased scrambled eggs cooked three different ways: British, American, and French. Dave didn’t believe when he saw the picture of the French scrambled eggs that they were even scrambled eggs; they resembled polenta a lot more. The eggs are cooked in a bowl over a water bath nice and slow just until they look both creamy and a little grainy.

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I loved ’em. They actually tasted like polenta, and cheese makes almost anything better.

Sunday, I had been making Stuffed Pepper Soup in our slow cooker, and that’s what I had for dinner Monday and Tuesday night.

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Ground beef, onions, bell peppers, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, rice, broth, and spices simmered to make this perfect deconstructed stuffed pepper, especially when topped with plain Greek yogurt and shredded cheddar cheese.

Last night, I pulled a grabbed a bag of fusilli I bought at the market to make one of my favorite pasta dishes: one pan pasta.

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Look how fun these noodles are! (Moriah, I’ll buy you some more when you come visit again).

I love that everything gets added to the pan at once and cooked together to make a super creamy pasta dish.

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Onions, tomatoes, garlic, basil, and pasta cook together. I stirred in half a bag of spinach, some cooked mussels in tomato garlic sauce, and a little cream cheese at the end, then topped it with some fresh basil.

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Scrumdidileeumptious.

Pizza is on the menu for tonight with some frozen pizza dough Dave was kind enough to make after dozens of requests.

This weekend, who knows? Some of our best friends Tess and Jake are coming to visit for the weekend, as well as my brother Tyler and his girlfriend Amanda. Dave and I have been waiting anxiously all week for their arrival, and it’s sure to be a good one. I have been continually praying to the weather gods for no rain on Saturday so that we can go to the market, the beach, and have a nice big bonfire. I’m so excited!

Hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable weekend!

Tidbits

This post is going to be all over the place, so just bear with me, friends.

This week, I held a newborn baby in my arms for the second time ever of my adult life (the first one being Aurelia). My friend Katie’s baby made his grand entrance into the world over a week ago, and I got to meet him when he was just seven days old.

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Welcome to the world, Leif!

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His sister Lily is pleased at punch at his arrival and offered to babysit the monster my friend knit for his arrival.

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Just look at those little baby feet! I loved that he and Em had their legs and feet in the same position, so I couldn’t resist taking the photo. The juxtaposition is just adorable.

The weather lately has been…hot. We seemed to have skipped over spring right into summer, but I’m not complaining. Bring it on! I woke up this morning to beautiful sunny skies and as I looked out at our lush, green yard, I couldn’t help but smile. Summer makes me so happy.

The kitties are not sure what to do with this weather. We found out this week that the house we’re renting doesn’t have air conditioning, so we’ve been opening all our windows at night to let in the cool air and closing them and the shades during the day to keep out the sunlight. Still, the inside of the house has hovered between a balmy 75 degrees and a ‘wearing as few clothes as possible’ 83 degrees.

Some days, Athena is perfectly content cuddling up against me, despite the heat.

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Other days, she and Artemis can be found sprawling on the countertop or lying on a pile of shoes….you know, like you do.

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I certainly can’t expected to put my shoes away if they make the kitties comfortable, right?

I’ve been trying not to heat the house up too much with cooking, so dinners have been relatively simple this week. Microwaved homemade soup from the freezer, sandwiches and vegetable chips, and this shrimp taco salad to name a few.

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Spring mix topped with refried beans, roasted peppers, onions, and shrimp, fresh tomatoes and olives, guacamole, shredded cheddar, plain Greek yogurt and chili lime crunchies from Iowa Girl Eat’s blog.

I love all sorts of variations of salads in the summer. Can’t wait to make my watermelon feta salad again, and Ina Garten has a recipe for one with arugula that I want to test out.

I’ve been zipping through books as fast as ever lately. I read for half an hour on my lunch break and for one or two hours before bed. Now that it’s nice out, I’ve been laying outside on a beach blanket on the grass. It reminds me so much of being a kid: my siblings and I sprawled out on the grass or the trampoline, all reading different books.

I reread The Fault in Our Stars in two days to prepare for the upcoming movie, and I just started rereading The Dive from Clausen’s Pier. I’m doing pretty well at not buying new books lately. One of these days, I must get myself to the library to get a card!