Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Old Bay summer corn & zucchini chili

Summer vegetable garden abundance?  I've got you covered.

No patch of your own but have a friend whose garden is overflowing, thus supplying you with his/her summer vegetable garden excess?  I've definitely got you covered.

Or, if your growing situation is somewhere in between -- like ours -- I've got you covered, too.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 7/13-7/19

Week of July 13th - 19th

Sunday: Traveling - out to Captain's Cove (Reading, PA)
Monday: Summer corn & zucchini chili with jalapeno cheddar corn bread (recipes this week!)
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Corn, tomato & goat cheese pizza
Thursday: Green monster smoothies
Friday: Out to swim team banquet with Matt
Saturday: Birthday "dinner" at Sarris

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chicken with strawberry & avocado salsa

This is the story of a dinner that almost never was.  A meal that, for weeks, became known as "the impossible dinner."

Impossible not because of the level of skill required to make it (read: none) or difficulty wrangling all of the necessary ingredients (read: also none).  But nearly impossible because we couldn't seem to keep the aforementioned ingredients around for long.

As it turns out, we have a bit of a strawberry problem.  And a very major avocado problem.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 7/6-7/12

Hello, Monday!  More importantly, hello to you!  My birthday weekend was faaaaabulous and sweet and full of surprises.  So far, 30 is looking pretty good... as far as I can tell from these sleep-deprived eyes.  Pictures to follow soon, I promise.  For now, a week's worth of meals will have to do.

Weekly Meals: July 6th - 12th

Sunday: Cookout at parents'
Monday: Sausage-stuffed zucchini boats
Tuesday: Hummus platter with veggies & shrimp
Wednesday: Huevos rancheros with avocado
Thursday: Spicy apricot salmon (similar recipe) with sauteed garlic spinach & broccoli
Friday: (Traveling)
Saturday: (Traveling)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Five + 1 to grow on: Summer travels

TGIF!  Happy weekend to you!

I heard on the radio yesterday that today marks the halfway point of summer -- can you believe it?!  I definitely can't, but at least the time is flying by thanks to all of the fun things we've been doing.  It's about to get even funner because the next month or so is packed full of trips and adventures all over the country.  Here are five of my upcoming travel plans plus one to grow on ;)

1. Lewisburg, PA - The first destination on my agenda, I'm heading here next week to visit a friend and her family.  Becca and I met as coworkers years ago, bonded over our love for Martha Stewart, and became great friends.  She and her husband have since moved from the Pittsburgh area but still have family around here, so we see each other every few months.  The last time Matt and I visited Lewisburg, she was roughly 8 months pregnant; now her little guy is 16 months old!  Can't wait to catch up with them!

2. Nemacolin Resort, PA - Two days after returning from Lewisburg, I'm heading here with Laura for some old-fashioned R & R.  As luck would have it, both of our guys will be out of town visiting their brothers, so we decided to plan a fun weekend for ourselves.  Who knows what we'll get into, but when best friends for over 20 years get together, I can guarantee it'll be fantastic.  Bonus: This is my first time to Nemacolin!

3. Los Angeles, CA - I'll have three days to unpack, do laundry, and repack before Matt and I board a plane en route to LA.  Squee!  I've lost track how many times I've been to LA, but the big news is that this will be Matt's first visit to the City of Angels (and anywhere west of Chicago)!  It's also the first trip that will involve the husbands.  Rachel and I have been fleshing out one of our legendary itineraries for weeks months and can hardly handle the excitement.  Highlights, so far include a Dodgers game, Universal Studios, biking along the beach, La Brea Tar Pits, and more food than you could even imagine.

4. Columbus, OH - This little hop across state lines just might be the dark horse adventure of the summer.  A few weeks ago, my friend sent me an email entitled "New Mission?" with this list of the best ice cream shops in America.  It took no time for us to plan a road trip to Columbus to check out the nearest confectionary, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.  Natalie and I have an impressive history of ice cream consumption, so we're eagerly anticipating to see if this stuff lives up to the hype.  Oh, and while we're there, we figured we'd visit the famed Columbus Zoo, too.  Nothing says "I'm 30!" quite like ice cream and baby animals, right?

5. Deep Creek Lake, MD - It might have taken us a while to plan a group trip -- coughsixmonthscough -- but we finally did it... and I couldn't be happier with the destination we picked!  There was talk of cruises and island resorts, but logistics turned out to be trickier than we expected.  How do big families do it?!  Thankfully, we all agreed that a relaxing weekend spent together was what we really wanted.  Pontoon boats, bonfires, grilling... who knows what (trouble) we'll find!

6. New decade - Before all of that real travel begins, this weekend is going to be spent locally celebrating a big birthday for yours truly.  Today is my last day as a 20-something, for tomorrow I turn 30... eek!  The plans are all over the place and the desserts are TBA, but I promise I'll share pictures next week :)

If you've been to any of the following places (or decades!) and have suggestions for things to do and/or places to dine, feel free to leave a comment or contact me.  Thanks!  And, wherever you are, have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tropical carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

"Just call them good!" instructed my coworker.

I wasn't sure what to call these cupcakes when I delivered them to coworkers and friends.  Naming has never been a strong suit of mine, especially when it comes to short titles that roll off the tongue.  Coughbakingdomesticityandallthingsminicough.

I'm also just a wee bit indecisive, which leads to many feast or famine situations.

For example, I once owned three white cardigans, all of which were purchased in one weekend.  I just happened to like all of them for sightly different reasons (and obviously different occasions) and couldn't make up my mind.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 6/29-7/5

When this post goes live, I'll be sound asleep, enjoying a day off at my in-laws' house.

Ha ha ha!  Are you laughing, too?

Truth be told, at the time this post goes live, I'll have been wide awake for nearly two hours and reading in bed.  I took this month's book club pick with me this weekend, hoping to make a serious dent in it since I'd only read about 25 pages.  Though I regret lacking the ability to sleep past 6:30, I do enjoy staying curled up in bed and having a peaceful start to my day.

We're planning to depart Reading around lunchtime, putting us back in da 'burgh before dinnertime.  (Does anyone else use meals rather than the clock to indicate the time of day?)  I made and took a grocery list/meal plan with me, so we can stop at the store on the way home.  Though tonight's dinner will be a quick & easy one, I can guarantee it'll be healthy since we always end up craving lighter fare after weekend visits.

Hope your Monday is as un-"Monday" as possible!

Are there any (healthier) foods that you crave after an indulgent weekend and that make you feel back to normal?

Week of June 29th - July 5th

Sunday: Leftovers from Union Grill
Monday: Out to Lidia's (arugula pear salad, asparagus & ramp ravioli with shrimp)
Tuesday: Grilled chicken with avocado & strawberry salsa
Wednesday: Veggies (broccoli, peppers, zucchini) & hummus platter, watermelon
Thursday: Apricot-glazed bacon-wrapped chicken, green beans & peas
Friday: Salmon burgers with Old Bay sweet potato fries
Saturday: Cookout at friends' house

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fast Friday: S'mores Rice Krispie treats

Happy Friday, campers!

Congratulations to you for making it through the work week (hopefully) unscathed.  The week after a holiday always seems a little rough, since I spend the better part of it reminiscing about all the fun we had.  I think workplaces across the country should implement a "vacation recap day" -- on the first day back from holidays and trips, it's acceptable and even expected to rehash stories, share pictures, and catch up on any local news/action the traveler missed.  Someone start a petition for this, okay?  Please and thank you!

Just when we got settled and unpacked, it's time to leave again!  This weekend, we're heading to Reading to visit Matt's family.   It's our annual summer visit.  We'll laugh, we'll play, and we'll probably barbeque every single night.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Apricot-glazed bacon-wrapped chicken

There's an old saying that goes like this:

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

You should know I don't take directions well.  Never have, actually.  So, I ignored that advice and came up with some of my own:

If it ain't broke, just add bacon.

Inspired by my timeless 4th of July running attire, I jazzed up one of my go-to chicken recipes for dinner on Monday.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 6/22-6/28

Hiya!  Happy belated Independence Day to you!  Did everyone have a glorious 4th of July and long weekend?  Hope so!

We most certainly did, almost too much.  On our way home last night, we said it feels like we've lived at least a week in just four days.  Pool parties, cookouts, a lil' shopping (because it's the American way),  a Riverhounds soccer game, and all the fireworks.  We even kicked things off on Friday morning with a 5K run.  My original wish was to don some uber patriotic threads for the race, but we did one better and wore these shirts: Matt's and mine.  Because what's more American than hot dogs and bacon? :) 

Raise your hand if you're struggling juuuuust a little this morning.  Getting back into the work/contributing member to society routine is never easy on a Monday, but especially not on one after a holiday weekend.  I'm thanking my lucky stars that I had the foresight to cash in a vacation day today.

After a very good night's sleep (I swear I slept almost as well as the dead...), I'm knocking things off my to-do list like a champ, and next on the agenda is a trip to the grocery store.  Thank goodness for meal plans, or I'd be lost.  If you're feeling a little behind the ball, here's another meal plan to inspire you and make life a little easier :)

Week of June 22nd - 28th

Sunday: Pizza from Carbonara's at friends' house
Monday: Southwest pulled pork salads
Tuesday: Honey dijon chicken with steamed broccoli
Wednesday: Ham, apple & spinach wraps
Thursday: Mexican spice chicken with corn & black beans
Friday: Ham with broccoli & peas
Saturday: Out to Union Grill

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Easy strawberry cheesecake ice cream - no machine required!

Happy July, friends!

Despite my love for snow, Christmas, and other trademark December happenings, July has always been my most favorite month for so many reasons.

July was and still is the only month guaranteed to be school-free.  Though I haven't been in school for nearly 8 (!) years, I still think of July as part of summer vacation.  So does Mr. Matt the teacher, who is home for most of the day and enjoying a well-deserved break from the classroom.  The only real problem is that I really struggle to find the motivation to go to work, knowing he's home relaxing.  Jealous much?  Just a bit.

Work duties aside, July is also awesome because it's filled with all the fun things a kid/big kid could imagine: Pool time! Vacations! Picnics! Fireworks! River trips!  And...