Monday, April 29, 2013

"If this game goes into triple OT, the wedding is delayed."

Just a few pictures since my camera and I were separated most of the wedding day...

Miss Julie and I post-rehearsal en route to dinner.

Proud M.O.B. didn't miss a single moment.

Matt and I enjoying a delicious dinner at Sonoma Grille.  Appetizers included wild mushroom flatbread, pulled pork crostini with goat cheese and apple, and mini crab cakes.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fast Friday: Sesame garlic green beans

Blink and you might have missed most of this week.  It's been a busy one and yet seemed to draaaaaaag onnnnn foreverrrrrrr.  On top of that, I had day-later syndrome -- bad -- and couldn't shake it.  All of that said, I'm so thankful it's Friday because there is big stuff on my agenda this weekend that I've been looking forward to for what seems like years.  Two of my very best friends are getting hitched!  #juliebryanwedding  Get it trending, people of Pittsburgh. ;o)

Festivities begin tonight with the rehearsal and dinner at Sonoma Grille.  I've heard great things about that place for ages but never visited, so Matt and I are stoked.  The wedding is Saturday (and the weather forecast is very promising!), and there is a brunch on Sunday morning.  In other words, we'll be eating, drinking, and celebrating like royalty for nearly 48 hours.  My bridesmaid dress and shoes are ready, and I could not be more excited.  Pictures to come on Monday!

Since it's been a busy week, dinners have been quick and easy fixes.  Set it and forget it wild rice and bean casserole, grilled chicken salads, Mexican night out, and dill salmon with green beans.  But, not just any green beans...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wild rice & bean casserole with guacamole

Me and carbohydrates, we're tight.  Not only do they fuel me for a busy day ahead or a long run, but they also just taste so gosh darn good!  While I've had the misfortune of eating a dry cake or a flavorless cookie, I've yet to encounter a grain I didn't love.

For instance, bread.  Wheat, preferably, but I'll take whole grain, Italian, French, brioche, sandwich thins, even white if I must.  And that's just the "healthy" stuff.  Don't even get me started on the sweet dessert breads like banana, pumpkin, cornbread, soda bread, zucchini bread, and cinnamon bread.  I'm overwhelmed just thinking about it!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to: Peel an avocado

Hey, you.  Yes, you!  The one who loves avocados.  I've got a handy dandy trick for you.  My favorite way to cut, pit, and peel an avocado.  That's right, I said peel.

After years of trying to scoop out flesh from the half shell and invariably leaving bits of yummy, buttery avocado behind, I've learned a better way to ditch the shell without losing any of the good stuff.  And, you can say goodbye to those awkward avocado tools sold in specialty kitchen supply stores.  Talk about a waste of a utensil.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shrimp and asparagus risotto

It's fair to say that much of the reason why I love cooking and baking is because I love food, namely eating it.  Obvious, no?

But I also love food because working playing with it has taught me so many things about myself.

I've learned that I'm a great follower of directions... as long as I read them first.  I tend to get a bit excited and ready to get cookin' and ignore protocol.  Not reading through a recipe or ingredient list before cooking has resulted in more last-minute trips to the store than I care to share.  It took a few years, but I've come around and haven't had to make any (more than usual) panicked calls to Matt on his way home from school.

I've also put most feelings of hesitation behind me when it comes to trying new foods.  It's hard to believe that many, many years ago I had issues with strawberries.  (FYI, it was their texture with the seeds that bugged me.)  Nowadays, I can't manage to let strawberries dry after rinsing them before devouring them whole!  Recipes that involve mostly familiar ingredients and a single novel item have been instrumental in this process.  Like mangoes with fish tacos, French onion soup with quinoa, and chorizo and tomatoes with tangy goat cheese.  New stuff is good stuff!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fast Friday: Kale salad

I think it's high time for some real talk, wouldn't you say?  Fridays tend to seem like the perfect time for it.  Heading into the weekend, we should shed ourselves of any worry and guilt and get ready to enjoy the next two days... possibly rife with guilty pleasures :)  Sounds like a fantastic plan to me!

This real talk isn't exactly heavy stuff, but it has been weighing on me for the last week, so here goes.  I've realized that over the past few years, I've painted myself as some kind of salad hater.  Sure, I'll occasionally post recipes for a creamy BLTA salad or a kickin' beef taco salad, but those recipes are months and months apart from one another.

Roughly once a month, I'll pack a salad for lunch: spinach, a chopped chicken breast, some black beans, and a little salsa is my pathetic go-to concoction.  My coworkers will see me retrieving it from the refrigerator and immediately chuckle while muttering something like, "Uh oh, Katy packed a salad.  You know what this means."  It means that I will grumble before and after every bite and wind up feeling incredibly unsatisfied when I'm finished.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Penne with roasted vegetables and sausage

First, s'more cupcakes.  And now this -- pasta with roasted summer vegetables and sausage.  Summer is almost, sorta, kinda, ok not technically yet but who cares basically here!  At least according to my appetite, anyway.

Yes, I realize spring has barely begun, but I'm no fan of spring.  I love certain things that occur during the spring months like Easter, the introduction of oodles of new cute dresses in stores, and the NHL playoffs.  But I do not like the weather of spring.  30 degrees in the morning and 60 by day's end?  No, thank you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

S'mores cupcakes

Monday and I'm feelin' fine!  I had one of those weekends that's really, really good for the soul, you know what I mean?

On Friday, I was a woman on fire and finished all of our laundry and spring cleaning by lunchtime, leaving me the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted.  There is no better feeling than heading into a weekend with all of the "must do" stuff done, leaving two entire days to fill up with "want to do" stuff however I please.

So, what did I want to do?  Go for a long run.  Wear skinny jeans with boat shoes.  Browse the $1 section at Target.  Make that kale salad I teased you about for the second time in three days.  Watch a Penguins hockey game.  Buy a bag of lemons.  Visit my sister and her boyfriend and marvel at their kitten's obsession with Junior Mints.  Watch a movie without any multi-tasking.  Craft a few birthday cards.  Dine at Burgatory for lunch with my hubby.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Five: Spring cleaning

TGISF!  Surprise Fridays always make me smile (and make working a Saturday seem totally worth it).  I got the day started by sleeping in until nearly 7 -- lazy bum alert!  Since the husband has the car at school and swim practice until the evening, I'm hanging around the apartment for the day.

Being home-bound,  I'm taking the opportunity to do some major spring cleaning around these parts, as well as catching up on bills, gift-wrapping, and laundry.  I'd much rather spend Friday getting things checked off my "must do" list, so that I have Saturday and Sunday to indulge in my "want to do" list.  Catch my drift?  

For this week's Friday Five, here are some of my favorite and inexpensive upgrades to make everything from your home to your body feel shiny and new, ready for spring!

1. 90s Pop Radio - My latest obsession on Pandora Internet radio.  Whenever you're faced with domestic tasks that don't exactly scream "fun" on their own, play some great tunes.  Dusting while dancing just seems so much more fun :)

2. Baking soda - Spending under a buck on a familiar gold box of Arm & Hammer may not be the kind of fancy upgrade you were envisioning, but it'll pay dividends when combined with a little elbow grease.  I've used baking soda to clean sinks, tubs, toilets, stovetop burner rings, and even the garbage disposal.  A quick Google search will yield umpteen ways to use baking soda around the house.  Here are 27 ways to get you started.  Cheap and non toxic!

3. Ditch the dated stuff - Once things are clean, I can get crazy with organizing: sorting, folding, and tossing.  I don't know about you, but I tend to put on my blinders during the winter and wind up keeping things past their due date: spices, condiments, medicine, and even coupons.  Combing through them is worth it, especially when I don't have to rifle through a heaping stack of expired coupons in the grocery checkout line.  #oldladyalert

4. Revive yourself - It's what on the inside that counts, right?  After you've tackled everything around you, take some time to focus on yourself!  I stumbled on this list a few days ago and have been incorporating these foods into my daily meals.  My favorite and the easiest?  Fresh lemon juice.  In cold water at meals or after a workout, or heated in a mug with a dash of honey for a morning wake-up or evening cozy-up.  As for dark leafy greens, I've gone Popeye this week and have an irresistable recipe to share with you next week!

5. Fresh flowers - After a day of buzzing about, it's super encouraging to look around at a spotless home.  But, there's one thing that would make it even better, and that's a vase of cheerful flowers.  For as little as $5, you can pick up a bright bouquet from a neighborhood floral shop or, if you're near a city, a corner flower vendor.  Save this little errand for last and look at it as a pretty reward for your hard work and the official kick-off to the weekend.

Time to hit publish and whip this place into shape.  Bowling, dinner date, and shopping for sandals are serving as major motivators on the "want to do" list for the weekend :)  Have a spring-y one!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

"Oh, shoot!  We ate the entire cake, didn't we?"  Except I didn't say shoot.  Ahem.  I said something that would've required me to put a quarter in the office swear jar.

It wasn't merely the fact that we did, indeed, eat the entire cake that caused me to turn into a run-of-the-mill potty mouth.  Instead, it was the sudden realization that I forgot to take a picture of a slice of said cake.

Oh, Katy, you are the worst.

Yep, I most certainly am.  It's just... well, here's the thing.  There was so much going on and I... I just... got distracted.  For many reasons.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Coconut bread

Over the past few years, I've learned that coconut is quite a polarizing food; folks either love it or loathe it.

If you're a coconut lover, you will most definitely want to keep reading.  Heck, I will even direct you to the bottom of this post where you can find the recipe for the most delectable and moist coconut bread.  Go ahead, skip all of my blathering and get to baking.  I won't be offended in the least :)

However, if you're a coconut hater, I have a little speech for you.  If you'll allow me to climb up onto this here soapbox and preach, I'd be forever grateful.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fast Friday: Asparagus, eggs, and parmesan

Friday!  Fun day!  Sun(ny) day!  So happy to see you again.  :)

It seems that spring is finally here, although the temperature yesterday morning would have you thinking otherwise: 19 degrees, a record low for April 4th in Pittsburgh.  Brrr!  Luckily, the mercury was pushing 55 by day's end and the sun was shining.  Sunshine and (relative) warmth make lunchtime walks much more pleasant.  The next step is a lunchtime walk without a coat.  Fingers crossed, folks.

With sunshine comes daffodils and, to my delight, the first produce of the season.  Gorgeous green asparagus spears caught my eye at the store last week, so that's what I bought.

Did I have a plan for said asparagus?  No, sir.

That means that asparagus was an impulse buy at the grocery store.  I'm fairly certain this is the first time in the history of ever for such a thing to occur.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cheesy cauliflower soup with grilled cheese croutons

I like hockey.  I mean, I really really like hockey.  I like it so much that I look at the Penguins' game schedule before making plans to do anything other than watching hockey.  It's really a wonder that I still have any friends.

Okay, let me backpedal just a bit: I love hockey.

I love the fast-paced rushes back and forth across the ice.  I love the jarring hits.  I love the rivalries.  I love the finesse needed to handle a puck through the offensive zone, past defenders, and lift it slightly to score a top shelf goal.  And, good gracious, I love watching a player mouth something slightly obscene during a goal celebration with teammates!

But, as with any kind of love comes just a little bit of the opposite.  It drives me crazy when the players play hot potato with the puck on a power play rather than shooting.  I'm ready to tear out my hair when the Pens are defending a 3-on-5 short-handed situation because players took ill-advised penalties at terrible times.  And, my gosh, I absolutely can't stand the Flyers.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ready, set, whittle!

Raise your hand if you're feeling in need of a bright and fresh salad and a quality sweat session to give your body a break from those sugary Easter basket contents?

Oooh!  Pick me, pick me!

I'm right there with ya.  This is a no judgement zone, friends.  Those Whopper Mini Robin Eggs didn't stand a chance.  But, I managed to exercise some willpower and only ate one small carton of them.  Only.  I asked Matt to hide the remaining bag of them.  Now that is what I call real love.

I decided to make this week one of detox and "spring cleaning" if you will, despite the snow that briefly fell from the Pittsburgh sky.  A week of healthy eating, plenty of sleep, and a renewed enthusiasm for exercising. Even the most dedicated fitness fanatics get bored with routines, so I was inspired to shake things up a bit and try something new!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Birmingham ome with ham, kale & black eyed peas

Rise and shine, sugar bandits!  I hope all of you had a happy and healthy Easter.  (To those of the Jewish faith, I hope you are continuing to enjoy Passover.)  We spent the weekend at my parents' and totally chilled out.  Enjoyed everyone's company, watched some hockey, played with the animals, and indulged on Easter Sunday with our baskets and the brunch buffet at the country club.  Perfect lazy weekend!

The only thing that could've made it better?  Leftovers!  Since we went out for the main meal, we weren't blessed with oodles of leftover glazed ham like we've been years that we cooked at home.

If you've got pounds of ham left in your fridge or if you can sneak to the grocery store to pick up a ham steak or two, this recipe is for you.  I've got a bright and delicious way to use it up: a Birmingham omelette!

(For other ham recipes, try a quiche, a frittata with asparagus, ham and potato hash, or split pea soup.)

What is a Birmingham omelette you ask?  An omelette made in Alabama, of course.  Ha ha ha!  I kid.

No no, don't leave!  I'll be serious.