Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Banana chocolate chip cookies

I love me some epic desserts, both the baking and the eating.  Mile-high cakes, near 8-pound pies, and ice cream creations the size of Richard Branson's private island sing to me like luxurious leather Frye boots sing to other women. 

Okay, those boots -- specifically, these boots -- happen to sing to me, too.  Such.Beautiful.Boots.  Swoon.

But, as my husband will be the first to point out, sometimes simple is better.  Sometimes, he says, life just calls for chocolate chip cookies.  (Don't you just love that guy?)

Oatmeal raisin cookies may be his new favorite, but he's never met a chocolate chip cookie he didn't love.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 9/21-9/27

How are ya, sunshine?  What a fantastic summer weekend we had around here!  What's that?  It's fall?  Could've fooled me.

The sun was out and the temps hovered near 80 most of the time, and we took full advantage of it.  A Pitt football game Tailgating (let's not talk about it), batting cages, dinner & drinks lakeside at OTB, brunch with visiting cousins, the Great Race, and even more ice cream (can't stop, won't stop) kept us busy until the customary Sunday evening couch crash.

I'm looking forward to a week peppered with exciting and overdue, if I may say, celebrations.  Birthdays, babies, and new jobs -- there's so much to be thankful for.  Oh, and here's something for you to look forward to around the blog: it's chocolate chip week!  Two new recipes coming your way, plus a collection of my favorites at week's end.  Hope your Monday is as least Monday as possible :)

Weekly Meals: September 21st-27th

Sunday: 5-ingredient Pesto chicken & bean soup
Monday: Slow cooker orange balsamic beef roast & potatoes
Tuesday: Five spice salmon with green beans
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Parmesan pepper chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts & sweet potatoes
Friday: Pasta with shrimp, mushrooms & garlic
Saturday: (Tailgating)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

5-ingredient Pesto chicken and bean soup

Raise your hand if you're in need of one really good dinner recipe.

Now throw your hands in the air

Raise your hand if you want said recipe to also be healthy, easy, fast, cozy, filling, and delicious.

Wave 'em around like you just don't care

Normally, I'd save a recipe like this for an installment of Fast Friday but, you know what?  Forget that.  I have a feeling you might need this sooner -- need and want, to be clear. 

Say it with me: Now through your hands in the air / Wave 'em around like you just don't care

Monday, September 22, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 9/14-9/20

Whirlwind wedding weekend!  (Say that three times fast.)  So much love, family, fun, and dancing... but very little time for pictures.  At least I managed to get two great shots: one of Matt and his brother, Chris, heading to the wedding in style; and the other of the beautiful bride and handsome groom cutting their oh-so-delicious cake.  Congratulations, Chris and Jess! :)

Weekly Meals: September 14th-20th

Sunday: Parmesan-crusted pork chops with roasted onions & Brussels sprouts
Monday: Taco chicken with green beans & peas
Tuesday: Chocolate chip peanut butter pancakes with
Wednesday: Chicken, broccoli, corn & avocado skillet
Thursday: Shrimp fried rice
Friday: (Traveling - rehearsal dinner)
Saturday: (Traveling - wedding)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Five: So long, summer

TGIF!  Have you been enjoying the last week of summer?  Depending where you are in the country, you could be getting rain, heat, or even (gasp) snow.  We're (thankfully) in the sunshine category and spending the weekend in Reading with Matt's family; keep reading for the reason why we're there.

Have an enjoyable few days, live it up, and maybe even treat yourself to a few of today's Friday Five: some of my favorite summer-only things that I'll miss dearly until next year.  I'll just have to drown my sorrows in all the pumpkin things, amiright?!  See you next summer... eee!  Enjoy!

1. Watermelon - I loathed this summer fruit as a kid, grew to like it two or three years ago, and became downright addicted to it these past few months.  Matt won't touch it, so it's been up to me to consume whatever we buy, averaging 3/4 (!!!) of a full-size watermelon per week.  I cube it and keep it in a giant bowl in the fridge so it's ready to eat whenever: as I cook in the morning and evening, after a workout, for dessert, and even as a late-night snack.  I think this week's fruit will be the last -- it's not the sweetest but it'll do, by golly.  RIP, juicy watermelons!

2. Daylight - I know the hours of daylight have been waning since late June, but I've really noticed how dark it gets in the evenings over the past two weeks.  On one hand, it makes me want to get cozy in sweats, curl up with a blanket and sip on hot chocolate, and bake hearty casseroles, all of which I love love loooove.  On the other hand, photographing food with only the aid of indoor lighting is a royal pain.  First world problems, right?

3. Seasonal ice cream shops - Speaking of first world problems, get ready for this one: two of my three favorite ice cream shops (Antney's and Page Dairy Mart, for the Pittsburgh locals) are closing soon until next spring.  My sadness is real and totally justified.  Don't even try to console me by saying there are other places; there is only one place and it's nearly 25 miles away.  Until Antney's and Page close in early October, I'm going on an all-out ice cream bender, which means I've started running a lot more.

4. Really, really long walks - I've always loved long walks around the city and through the parks.  After our trip to LA, much of which was spent exploring by foot, Matt fell in love with long walks, too.  We've gotten in the habit of turning evening strolls into 2-hour adventures.  Sadly, with limited daylight and busy weeknights and weekends, we'll have to settle for quick jaunts around the block... and quality time on the couch as our favorite TV shows return.  OMG, Mindy Project!

5. Weddings - Aside from our winter nuptials, weddings seem to be a thing of spring and summer, and the last one on this year's calendar is happening this weekend.  Matt's brother, Chris, and his fiancee, Jess, are getting hitched tomorrow!  I'm so excited to see everyone and know the festivities will be an absolute blast.  Pictures to come next week.  If the incredibly unique Nintendo cartridge-shaped invitation  is any indication, this may be the most impressive theme wedding I'll ever attend.  An early congratulations to the couple -- we love you both! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

French apple cake

In case you didn't know it by now, I'm a big fan of celebrations.

Tell me it's your birthday, and I'll bake you whatever you want.  Just got engaged?  Let's raise a glass of bubbly!  Or, would you look at that, the calendar says that it's the third Tuesday of the month; we should definitely treat ourselves to mini chocolate chip cookie sundaes.

In other words, life is full of victories, big and small, that are all worthy of pep and commemoration and -- if we're being totally honest -- a little sugar.

Today, I'm happy to share the wonderful news that Matt has a new teaching job!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 9/7-9/13

Weekly Meals: September 7th-13th

Sunday: Zucchini "spaghetti" with shrimp & homemade marinara sauce
Monday: Slow cooker black bean soup with jalapeno cheddar corn bread
Tuesday: Chili & cocoa-dusted pork chops with green beans
Wednesday: Pumpkin pancakes & chicken sausages
Thursday: Feta & sun-dried tomato turkey meatloaf with peas
Friday: Five spice salmon with steamed broccoli & brown rice
Saturday: Leftovers (soup & meatloaf)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fast Friday: Smashed white bean & kale quesadillas

Happy Friday to you, yours, and everyone else's!  How was the week?

Ours was nice and chill.  After a busy weekend, largely spent away from the apartment, we laid low in the evenings and entertained ourselves at home.  We even hosted friends dinner twice.  Not surprisingly, those two dinners were the only two that went off exactly as I'd planned; the rest were delicious but waaaaaaaay off the beaten path original meal plan.

Recently, a friend was teasing me for planning all of our meals for the coming week.  I gave my spiel about how much easier it makes grocery shopping and ensures that I don't have to make return trips to the store later in the week.  (You know, except for those emergency baking errands.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Baked cheesy mushroom tomato chicken

I know it's been quite a while since I shared a casserole recipe with you guys, but I promise this one is worth the wait.  Here's hoping you're more patient than me, though I won't judge harshly if you're not :)

If there's one surefire way to tell that fall is just around the corner, just take a look at food blogs and Pinterest.  Everything pumpkin and casseroles for miles.  And, you know what?  It couldn't have happened a moment sooner.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 8/31-9/6

Week of August 31st - September 6th

Sunday: Cookout at parents' house
Monday: Baked cheesy tomato & mushroom chicken
Tuesday: Black bean, corn, zucchini skillet with avocado
Wednesday: Out to Monterey Bay
Thursday: Lemon feta chicken drumsticks with roasted broccoli
Friday: Five-spice salmon with steamed broccoli & brown rice
Saturday: Out to Piper's Pub (beef shepherd's pie for her)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Five: Back to school shopping

TGIF!  This shorter-than-usual but felt-longer-than-normal week is in the books, and I'm ready for the weekend.  Going back to school is exhausting, isn't it?

...says the person who hasn't set foot in a classroom for nearly eight years.  Gulp.

But, I've got a husband who resumed the teacher's life this week, so I've spent the week getting back into our school year routine: packing lunches, preparing dinners that are microwave-friendly (when swimming practice goes late), and doing my best to conquer a never-ending reserve of clothing in need of ironing.  If it weren't for Friends reruns and The Office DVDs, our clothes would never be wrinkle-free.  #howdidourgrandmothersdoit

Even if I've got neither lessons to prepare nor homework to finish, I've got back to school fever, which really means back to school shopping fever.  Better than number 2 pencils and 3-ring binders, here are my new favorite things to get me in the spirit for fall, college football, and all things pumpkin.  Friday Five for the win!  Whatever you do and wherever you go, treat yourself to a little something good :)

1. Sweatpants -  Specifically, these sweatpants from Target.  Tossed in my basket on a whim during a recent dash through Target and waited until I got home to try them on.  (I wasn't even there for clothes!  But that's how it always goes, right?)  Softest.sweatpants.ever!!!  I love that they are slightly fitted, which means they won't ride up when pulling sheets or a blanket over yourself.  I've told every girlfriend of mine about these and even bought a second pair in a different color.  Do yourself a favor and check these out ASAP!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Healthier lemon & wild blueberry muffins

Because it's officially college football season.

Because I've loved Pitt for as long as I can remember.

Because my heart (and half of my wardrobe) is blue and gold.

I made these scrumptious muffins for the first tailgate of the year!  And oh me, oh my, were they good.  But, as usual, I'll get to them in a hot minute.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 8/24-30

Happy Labor Day!  So, um, whathappenedtoAugust?!  Everyone I've talked to about summer's timeline seems to agree that June and July were paced just perfectly; August, however, was on something else entirely because it flew by.

We've spent this final weekend of August enjoying a mix of summer and fall activities: picnic dinner, tailgating and college football (Pitt dominated with a 62-0 victory!), family cookout, and even some browsing for new winter jackets.  The latter mission was unsuccessful, but I feel confident that I've got enough time before Old Man Winter hits western PA.  Although, snow in October isn't unheard of...

I'm a little ready for fall, can you tell?  Before I get too ahead of myself -- I blame you, Starbucks -- let's back up a bit and check out what I made for dinner last week.  A few new-to-us items, like pasta carbonara (OMG) and a twist on classic Mexican quesadillas, thanks to a few fabulous blogs around the web.  Enjoy!

Week of August 24th-30th
Sunday: Chicken meatballs with marinara & zucchini "pasta"
Monday: Roasted green beans with bacon & mushrooms
Tuesday: Garlic brown sugar chicken with grilled corn on the cob
Wednesday: Smashed white bean & kale quesadillas
Thursday: Pasta carbonara with peas
Friday: (Out - sushi for her, Chinese for him)
Saturday: Dill & garlic salmon with steamed broccoli