Goodbye October!

I can’t believe that October has already come and gone. It was a great month around here. While I’ve been missing home a lot, New Jersey put on quite the spectacular fall show for us. The colors and weather were incredible. We had a lot of fun exploring our new home. Looking forward to what November has in store {maybe everything aside from the cold weather…}

Not working has allowed me to spend a lot of time in the kitchen which I have been enjoying. I’ve been incorporating 2 new recipes a week into our menu and have loved being back in the kitchen. We don’t have many options nearby for going out or even for takeout/delivery so whatever is on the menu is what happens in the kitchen. Sometimes I get so annoyed and just want to call for delivery but for the most part it’s worked really well for us. I do one big grocery shop each week, usually on Friday, and then if I need to I might run out mid week and pick something up. We have a German Butcher in town which I love. We can get fresh cut bacon, really yummy meats and breads.

 

photo 1

farro, roasted veggies + poached eggs || sweet potato hash with fried eggs || french onion soup pasta || roasted butternut squash + balsamic pork tenderloin and green beans || makings of apple crisp || freezer soup with trader joes pot stickers

 

 

photo 2

 

fall colors on the New Jersey parkway || fun at Allaire State Park || gorgeous fall colors + buildings at Allaire || 60th birthday party || exploring Red Bank || fun at a 2nd birthday party at Happy Day Farms

 

 
photo 3

 

Verrazano Bridge into NYC || Long Beach Island exporing || Jersey Shore || LBI Oyster Fest || More beach fun || enjoying our new copper mugs

Beef + Butternut Squash Stew

This week’s meal plan had not one but two new recipes! While all of our cookbooks are still in storage in Denver {insert loud sobs!} I somehow managed to bring along a binder of recipes from magazines that I’ve cut out over the years. We’ve been working with that and checking out books from the library to fill in our meal plans. Last night’s dinner was a Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash served with couscous. I added more spices than the original recipe called for and I think I’d even bump it up a notch again next time.

This recipe came from a Cooking Light magazine in the January/February 2011 issue. I bought beef stew meat from Whole Foods because it was on sale. I think because of the cut of meat I used this was not a 40 minute recipe, which worked out well for me. I also believe this could be a great dish cooked low and slow in the crock pot or even in the oven on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I’ll be experimenting with this because we both thought that the flavors were so awesome and because the boy, ahem the husband requested lots of butternut squash in the future!

I’ll apologize in advance that there isn’t a single photo of this dish. It was dark + gloomy + rainy and I never took a single picture. {Must be better about that!!} The photo below is from the Cooking Light website.

1101p80-beef-tagine-squash-m

Beef Tangine with Butternut Squash

adapted from Cooking Light


2 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 pounds beef cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 small onions, cut into thin wedges

4 garlic cloves chopped

1 cup chicken broth

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

3 cups (1 inch) cubed and peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)

Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the beef, toss to coat. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat (I used my large Le Cruset pot, it was the perfect size.) Add onions and let them begin to brown. Add in beef, stir occasionally until browned. Add in garlic, stirring to ensure it doesn’t burn but make sure it gets cooked! Stir in broth and deglaze the pan, scrape up all those yummy brown bits!! Add in tomatoes and bring everything to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, then add squash. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Serve over couscous.

{The cooking ingredients are what the original recipe suggested. My beef and my squash weren’t ready at this point. I allowed them to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. I believe it’s because of the cut of beef I used but nonetheless it was a delicious dish!}

InstaSunday!

life rearranged

Linking up with Jeannett again! Somehow I had planned on doing an InstaFriday post and am just now sitting down to write it. Things have been crazy busy around here, but I’m not complaining! I managed to snap a lot of photos last week so this post will probably be a tad bit long. Have a good week!

I went to Chicago last weekend and FINALLY got a chance to meet this handsome little man. Love him, absolutely love his momma. Was bummed it was such a short visit! I hate having friends with babies so far away.

Norm! I got to visit with another set of some of my favorite friends and Norman is their awesome dog. How cute is he? There are some awfully cute family photos as well but those are yet to be revealed. Yay photo shoots!

Waiting for the P family to show up at the zoo I snapped this picture of my boots that I am in love with. It was seriously the most perfect fall weekend in Chicago. Blue skies, yellow leaves and it smelled like fall. Love that.

No trip to Chicago is complete without a stop at Molly’s Cupcakes. Seriously. They make the best cupcakes in the city. They’ve been on Cupcake Wars (and they won!) Now get up and go get a cupcake if you’re in Chicago (or New York.) If only they would open up shop in Denver…This is their lemon blueberry chesesecake cupcake. Woah. Delicious! I also got a carrot cake one to take home with me!

I do love living in Denver but I miss this view from time to time. How pretty is the Wilmette Beach?

Back home in Denver to chilly temps and nasty weather.  A big pot of soup seemed like just the thing to make for dinner. This soup was a vegetable “garbage” soup with any veggies I had in the fridge. Kale, spinach, carrots, zucchini, celery and potatoes along with a can of cannelini beans and a can of diced tomatoes. It was delicious!

And then it snowed. Yep. Not just a light dusting either. Gotta love Denver weather. I for one was actually excited. There’s something magical about the snow. Then I tweeted this picture to Sam Champion at Good Morning America and got back “BEAUTY” as a reply. So fun!

Our backyard covered in snow….

The husband and I had a date night! We went to YardHouse (yum!) and then to a preseason Nuggets game. They sucked. However we did get to see the Clippers play and they are awesome.

Go Nuggets or something like that 🙂

I think I had more fun taking pictures then watching the Nuggets get their butts kicked. New photo phone obsession? Vsco cam. Have you checked it out?

I ended my work week with this tasty glass of Glider Cider with a friend I’ve known since I was probably 4. How fun!

Yum. Yum. Yum. Warm apple cider donuts! While these weren’t as tasty as the doughnuts from Curtis Apple Orchards they did the trick yesterday. All I’ve been wanting is an apple cider doughnut. I think that I’m going to have to go buy a doughnut pan from BBB and attempt to make some of my own.

Mail!

I feel like these days actually recieving something fun in the mail is a rare thing. I got spoiled within the past 12 months! There was always something to be on the look out for (wedding cards, wedding response cards, wedding presents!) but these days the mail is NOT fun.

One way to make it fun? Order stuff for yourself 🙂 I love wearing scarves. It’s a nice way to keep warm here in the crazy weather state of Colorado and I’ve slowly been adding to my collection. One of my favorite places to find them is over at the Pleated Poppy. Lindsey has an ADORABLE shop full of tons of handmade goodies. Right now I’m obsessed with all of her scarves and today I got mine in the mail! Yay for mail that doesn’t suck. I ordered an infinity scarf that is gray with a pop of pink. If I see you tomorrow you can bet that I’ll be wearing it. How awesome is it?

Now if only I could ensure that I get fun things in the mail every day….although I know my bank account would not appreciate it!

Other ways to ensure that the mail doesn’t always stink:

* Pv Body–an awesome new company that I just found through a link on facebook. Sign up and pay the monthly fee and you get a new workout outfit once a month. Pretty awesome people! Plus it’s nice workout clothes (think Nike, Lululemon and more) Once my bank account isn’t mad at me anymore you can be sure that I’ll be signing up

*Birchbox–a great company that allows you to fill out a beauty profile and then you pay a monthly fee and get lots of goodies in a fun box once a month. I have my account on hold but this is one of my favorite things to get in the mail each month. I’ve gotten some great (and not so great) perfumes, lip stains, tons of samples of products that I’ve gone on to buy. The fun thing is you can buy items right through birchbox as well and you can get a discount.

*Magazines are always fun! At the top of my list? Real Simple, Cooking Light, 5280, Food and Wine, People and Food Network.

Anyone have any other fun ways to get mail?

{this isn’t sponsored post, I just love the Pleated Poppy products and wanted to give a little shout out for something that I know is wonderful. Pv Body and Birchbox also have no idea who I am but I think they’re great!}

Hello Monday!

Hello Monday!

Hello to a very busy, fun filled week!

Hello to 3 photo shoots over the last week, and what fun they were. Two year old faces are so much fun!

Hello to FIVE photo shoots this weekend in Chicago!

Hello to squeezing old friends and new babies (I can’t WAIT!)

Hello to Monday Night Football (Go Broncos!)

Hello to the awesome boots that I have my eye on….now to find a reason to get them! How perfect would they be in the rain/snow/sleet?! Or who am I kidding, anytime? I have an obsession with boots.

InstaFriday!

I LOVE Instagram. I know that I’m not the only one out there! The way camera phones operate these days is outstanding, and let’s face it…who wants to lug their giant cameras around all the time? Insert my iPhone. I love it. It takes amazing pictures {and I’m sure my new iPhone takes amazing ones too! I’ll have to play with it this week and get lots of pictures.} I like being able to share my life with friends and family scattered across the country and I love it even more because I’m able to see my friends and family from a far.. Here’s my week according to Instagram. Want to link up? Go see all the fun happening over at Life Rearranged!

life rearranged

 

Ummm, yeah. That’s snow…and a good amount of it! Hello crazy weather in Colorado! No worries, it melted .2 seconds after I snapped this. Well not really but it melted fast.

How cute is this pup? We got to hang out with him for a few days and it was a treat. I want a dog sooooooo badly but I know that it’s just not the right time for us to get one. Until then we’ll just keep borrowing 🙂

I made broccoli cheddar soup! While it wasn’t as good as Panera’s it was still pretty tasty. Read about it here. I’d make it again, but make some changes.

Hello beautiful! I’ve been wanting one of these FOREVER. I waited. And waited. And waited some more. I knew when I got married my mom would give it to me as a gift. She’s the one who taught me to cook and bake and love the kitchen so I thought it was a fun reason to wait. I’m SO happy that it’s finally time to break it out and use it.

A good friend is having a baby next month and I went to her baby shower on Sunday. Three of us decided to go in together to get the gift and I was in charge or buying it. If you know me you know just how much fun this was. If you don’t know me then I’ll just say that if this could be a profession I’d do it in a heartbeat. Babies make me happy. I sent my girlfriends a quick text showing them most of what we were giving the lucky mom 🙂

Jameson and Ginger Beer? Best drink invention ever. Apparently I didn’t look like I needed the grownup size but this one worked just fine.

I spent yesterday editing photos from my first holiday season photo shoot. yay! Love this family .

Impromptu(ish) dinner party on a Wednesday night? Always a good idea. Chatting a bit too long after work and getting stuck in traffic? That means whipping up something as fast as I can for friends to snack on while I whip dinner together. Whoops. Green bowl on bottom that you can only see a sliver of? That’s good old Pace salsa. And how fun is that awesome platter? It goes so well with my Anthropologie bowls and was a wedding gift from a great friend.

The remains of dinner from the dinner party…and let me tell you those leftovers are so tasty! Want the recipe? Check it out here…It was pretty tasty again and a great dinner party meal. Easily made vegetarian (I subbed veggie stock for the chicken stock and made two bowls of it, adding chicken to one.)

Met some girlfriends here for happy hour today. The menu looked amazing! I tried a delicious new beer (for $3!) and we had some awesome fried pickles, house made corn nuts and green eggs and ham deviled eggs. Yum! Nothing better than gabbing away with girlfriends over treats. Must come back for dinner.

 

And finally….the best part of the week! We’ve been waiting… and waiting…and waiting… and it finally arrived! We are OFFICIALLY married according to the state of Colorado. Yay! Two months later and now I can start the long and tedious (so I’ve heard) process of changing my name.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Cooking, Soup and Cookies!

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my job? Not only because it’s awesome but because I know that I will have the time to cook dinner. From scratch. Any night of the week. Sure things come up and we get busy, I’m tired, don’t feel like it, etc. but I have the ability to do so and that makes me so happy. We had friends over last night for a low key weeknight dinner party. I had one friend ask how I manage to pull things like that together and another friend marvel at my food plan for the week on the fridge. That my friends is the key to my current kitchen success. Sure it takes time, a little extra effort and it doesn’t always work out. It’s a start though and I know the longer I continue to do so the more success I’ll have!

It begins with me browsing through all the weekly sale ads, taking note of proteins that are on sale and then sitting down and finding recipes that match up. OR if my freezer is stocked with protein then I go through that. However since we’ve recently emptied said freezer it’s the weekly sale ads for now! Last week I rounded up my recipes, what I have on hand and what I needed from the store. After grocery shopping on Friday and having a few new ideas in my pocket I spent Saturday cooking and baking.

It was cold, SNOWY and just a good day overall to spend in the kitchen. Also a good day for soup! So I decided to try to recreate Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar soup because it’s amazingly delicious but not cheap. I have to admit that Panera’s soup still takes the cake. Perhaps it just needs more tweaking or perhaps they use some sort of secret ingredient but I didn’t love this. It was way way way to thick for my liking and the taste wasn’t the same. It made a good, quick lunch but I’ll probably have to keep searching for recipes.

 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 medium chopped onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb fresh broccoli
1 cup carrot, julienned (I used 3 carrots, peeled and grated…)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I omitted this step, I’m not a huge fan of nutmeg…)
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
In a large pot sauteé the onions in the butter…
Remove onions from the pan. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly!
Continue stirring consistently and add in the half & half. Simmer on low for a few minutes while continuing to whisk.
Add in the chicken stock and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally!
Add in broccoli, carrots and sauteéd onions. Continue to cook for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
After the vegetables have cooked you can choose to pureé the soup or leave it chunky. I used my immersion blender and slightly pureéd it so the chunks of broccoli weren’t as big. Add in the shredded cheese and stir. If you’re adding nutmeg also add that in. At this point I decided that the soup was really thick and that I was going to add in another cup of chicken stock. I heated it up before adding it to the pot. I probably would add more next time.
Serve with a nice crusty piece of french bread like at Panera and top with a little extra cheese. Yum!
Serving soup in Anthropologie bowls makes me happy 🙂 Well let’s be honest, serving anything in these bowls makes me happy. And following up soup with the tastiest chocolate chip cookies ever? That makes for one awesome Saturday!
Happy Thursday! Come back tomorrow to see my InstaFriday post!

Recipe Roundup

I love cookbooks. I have a ton of them…some are very well loved and some have lots of pages marked but rarely get used. Why you ask? The internet. It is SO easy for me to search for a recipe and pull it up on my computer or iPad and just bring said device into the kitchen. I know I’m not the only one who is guilty of this. I try to use my cookbooks, I can’t stop wanting to buy cookbooks but I always seem to turn to my computer. How can you not though when there are so many awesome recipes out there? I read a bazillion blogs and have come to rely on some of them for my go to recipes. Do you have anywhere you rely on for tried and true recipes? Pinterest has also become a favorite tool. I can find delicious recipes all over the internet and then pin them onto specific boards and easily find them when I’m ready to make them.

Here are a few recipes I’ve rounded up that I’m hoping to make!

How delicious does this simple popcorn snack look? I love that she uses an air popper, if only I had room to store one…

 

These are just calling my name. Probably should try them out one weekend soon and serve them for football fun…I’m guessing they’d pair really well with an icy cold beer.

 

 

 

I know this HAS to be delicious. It comes from Bree over at Baked Bree and she is one of my go to blogs for recipes. Everything I’ve made from her recipes has been delicious.

 

 

I need to make these. Probably sooner rather than later. I’ve been eying them for YEARS. How delicious do these look?!

 

 

These seem like the perfect weeknight fall dinner. Paired with roasted veggies and brussel sprouts. Yup I said brussel sprouts–they’re delicious and probably deserve their own roundup!

 

 

And finally…I’ll be making this tonight! It’s cold and gloomy here today and it seems like the perfect meal to combat that. Yum. Pairing it with a crisp loaf of french bread and a nice green salad.

Hello Monday!

Hello October!

Hello baking queen! I baked pumpkin bread, vegan banana/apple bread, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and raspberry pear crisp this weekend. Come help us eat it all…and tell me what I should bake next! I think bread is calling my name. Specifically THIS bread! Gives me hope since she’s a Colorado blogger too and I know it can be done at altitude 🙂

Hello to Monday night football…Go BEARS!

Hello to a week full of fun stuff (sukkah dining, football watching, wine drinking, breast cancer 5k walking, baby shower celebrating!)

Hello to a photo of me that the husband took this weekend on our beautiful drive in the mountains! I’m ready to go back…now!

Linking up with Lisa again! Have a great week 🙂

Simple Things Sunday

Yesterday made me fall in love with Colorado all over again. The colors are changing here and we made our annual trek up to the mountains to see the Aspens. I wanted to switch things around and decided that we should not go to Breckenridge (even though I love it there!) We’ve gone to see the leaves there every year and I thought that it was time for something different. I posted on Facebook asking where we should go and Independence Pass was highly suggested. We packed up some snacks, stopped at Whole Foods to pick up our annual picnic makings and off we went!
This drive was amazing. I did all the driving this time which was a big deal, usually it’s the hubby who does it all but I made it up, down, up some more and back down all of the mountain, finishing off the drive in the dark. We drove through Twin Lakes (holy cow it’s beautiful!), Aspen, Glenwood Springs and back down by Vail, Edwards and Idaho Springs. I couldn’t believe how much color we saw! Driving up 285 we hit Kenosha Pass but most of the leaves had already dropped so we were a bit worried but as you can see from the photos below there was no cause for concern! I am now trying to work in a trip back to Aspen and or Glenwood Springs since we did a quick drive through at the end of our day. 9+ hours in the car is a LONG day but it was great!!!
Linking up with Simple Things because I think this picture speaks to the simple things–beautiful light, nature and gorgeous colors. Happy Sunday everyone! Have a great week.

 

Independence Pass Beauty!

Hubby snapped this of me!

Beautiful Barn!

I am in love with this barn…

 

seriously….magical!