Monday, January 30, 2012

Meal Planning

Just a quick update (please bear with me, I'm now in week 4 of my FINAL semester of MBA's taking over my life but thankfully, the end is in sight!).  We had a great weekend and enjoyed some time with C's family and holding our twin nephews...or at least I did!  We are having a small electrical issue here so the men (Dad K, Chris and Tim) spent several hours yesterday trying to figure it out.  Bottom line, we have no electricity in our upstairs bathroom (Yep, so now we have no 100% functional bathrooms!  It's a good thing I'm low-key on weekends, as in ponytail and no makeup).  We can still shower, use the restroom and brush our the light of the one window or in the dark.  Or go downstairs to the in-the-midst-of-being-remodeled bathroom without a mirror or door.  I don't know about you but it's a toss-up :)  Calling an electrician is #1 on the priority list today.

In case you need some ideas, here's what we are having this week:
(Meatless) Monday-Cheese Tortellini with tomato sauce (I let C pick this week)
Tuesday-Crock-pot burritos
Wednesday-Roasted Chicken and potatoes

Yesterday, I whipped up a pan of baked oatmeal to get me through breakfast for the week.  Then all I need to do is heat it up and add some easy.

I'm doing a fair bit of traveling for work this week so not much time to cook!  What's on your menu?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Just thought I would show the progress..we are getting there!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meal Planning

Here's our menu for the week:

(Meatless) Monday: Christie's Party In Your Mouth Soup (African Yam and Peanut Soup)
Tuesday: Tomato Soup and Grilled Sandwiches
Wednesday: Fish Tacos
Thursday: Pulled Pork (I will be adapting from The Pioneer Woman's recipe) and corn casserole
Friday: Potato and Leek Soup and homemade bread

Speaking of homemade bread,  I'm on my third attempt and I think we are moving to closer to finding something that will work for us.  The recipe is really easy and the dough is kept in the fridge, I just tear off a chunk, form it and bake it for fresh bread whenever we want it.  I'm still working to incorporate more than white and wheat flour (I'd like to add spelt and oat as well) but I think it will be best to work up to those.  Sandwich bread is also proving to be a challenge but after a little research, I think the solution may come from a different form of loaf pan instead of the bread itself.
Can you tell it's winter???  Tons of soups on the menu to keep us warm!  What's on your menu for the week?  

Shoes, how I love thee

So I'm passionate about more than family, friends, fitness and food...I also love love love shoes (and clothes....comes from my past in retail).  This mug perfectly represents my passion....not that I would ever spend the grocery money on shoes but the thought has crossed my mind :)

Recipe Calculator

Just came across this and had to share, a recipe calculator!  Super simple, just add each ingredient, select the amount and then the number of servings.  The site works it's magic and you get the info needed.  Perfect to figure out the nutritional content of dishes.  Enjoy :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Meal Planning and Why We Cook

A little late, but here's our meal plan from the previous week...hopefully it inspires some creativity in your menu:

Sunday-Hot wing pizza
Monday-Mexican Quinoa (funny story, after I made this dish I asked C what he thought of it, he said it needed "something" and when I asked what that "something" was, he said CHICKEN...but I thought it was good!)
Tuesday-Lasagna (from the freezer)
Wednesday- Winter soup with fish and shrimp with homemade garlic croutons
Thursday-crock-pot beef Bourguignon (pot roast, pearl onions, mushrooms and wine...simmering all day, served over mashed potatoes...yum)
Friday-out to dinner
Saturday-left overs

As you can imagine, I get many catalogs on cooking (Sur la Table, Williams Sonoma, ect)....which get recycled after a quick glance as my kitchen is already full!  The Williams Sonoma caught my eye today because on the cover it asks, "WHY WE COOK", which made me pause.  I cook because I like having control over what my family puts into our bodies and because I enjoy feeding family and friends.  One of my favorite ways of serving others is through food (making dishes when they are sick, busy, to celebrate).  I enjoy the creative process of cooking and having a beautiful, delicious outcome.  Why do you cook?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

Bathroom Update!

I'm sure you all have been wondering how are little bathroom face lift is going...dying to know, right????  Well, it's been a little more challenging that we initially thought but we are making progress.  Once the wallpaper was removed, we discovered the walls were in pretty terrible shape so Chris spent some time with the speckle and sander to get them to a decent place. 

Ready to paint (the bathroom is so tiny, I could ALMOST paint the entire thing by standing on the toilet):

  Then I painted two coats of Nantucket Breeze on the walls, which is a pale, pale green/yellow color.  I used Benjamin Moore paint, the Aurora line...I love that stuff!  I tried taking a few photos of our progress but the color doesn't translate well in photos:

After painting, Chris removed some of the trim to make room for the new vanity that we are installing.  The trim didn't come up willingly, leaving us with some wall repair to do:

I've been on a hunt for a mirror to replace the medicine cabinet and think I've found something...progress, slow progress, but progress all the same....And that's where we stand to date!  Hopefully the new vanity will go in tomorrow and then the trim will be re-installed.  Then I will paint the trim and put the room back together....which may take us a few more weeks working around our school schedules.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cinnamon rolls

I made these amazing cinnamon rolls last week or some of my clients who were attending a training. They are delicious, I think the best that I've ever made!  Thanks to Tanna for recommending Artisan Bread in Five...I've been able to find a few of their recipes online, including this  Brioche Dough.  Then I simply rolled out the dough, spread it with cinnamon and brown sugar, rolled it up  and sliced it.  I cut the recipe in half and had 12 good-sized cinnamon rolls.  This one is a must-try!

I asked C what he thought of this recipe and he said "you can make these anytime" .  Clearly, it's a winner!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

iPad cover

Just a quick craft project, an iPad cover for my cousin!  I based this one off the same pattern I used for my Mom's (which you can read about here).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spinach Lasagna-Recipe

I had a request for our spinach recipe so here it is...I usually just throw it together so here it is as best as I can remember.  It's a great way to sneak in some veggies into your pasta.  I made it earlier in the week and I'm bake it tomorrow before heading to class, you know, so C doesn't starve while I'm gone :)

1 24oz jar marinara sauce (I like to use home-made jarred sauce but your favorite will do)
1 box lasagna noodles-whole wheat
1 10oz  bag frozen spinach, thawed and drained (or not...depending on how much time I have)
3 stalks Kale, de-veined, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces 
1 onion-diced
2 cloves garlic-diced
1 lb spicy Italian sausage-bulk
8 oz mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese-freshly grated

1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, in salted water.  Drain and let cool until ready to use.

2. Meanwhile, in pan brown sausage, onions and garlic.  Break up sausage into small pieces with fork while cooking.  A few minutes before sausage is done, add spinach and kale.  Drain any liquid and let cool.

3. In a deep dish, starting with sauce, layer the noodles, sausage and spinach mixture, and cheese.  Repeating until get to the top layer, ending with cheese (mozzarella and then Parmesan).

4. Bake in oven for an hour at 350 degrees, or until cheese is browned and edges are bubbly.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Note- I usually double and make two, one for dinner and one for the freezer to save time later.     

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (and meal planning)

My classes resume this week so I thought I would get a jump on meal planning/grocery shopping/food prep as well as share our meatless recipe for the week.  I spent the afternoon in the kitchen getting a jump start on our meals for the week (and putting together a few frozen meals for a friend on bed-rest).  I also whipped up some brownies using three kinds of chocolate, black beans and almond flour....but more on those in another post.  

Our menu for the week is:
Sunday-Rivel (or Ribble based on your family) soup, as requested by Chris.  Every family makes theirs differently; I include chicken, onions, potatoes and the rivels (a rustic, easy to make dumpling).
Monday-Sweet potatoes with chicken and rosemary saute
Tuesday (our meatless meal)-Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (already made)
Wednesday-Kale and Spinach lasagna (already made)
Thursday-Missy's White Chicken Chili (already made)
Friday-left overs/go out

The secret ingredient of our mac and cheese-cauliflower!

Sometimes you just want comfort food and that is what this mac and cheese is, comfort food with a healthy twist.  Instead of using straight macaroni noodles, I use 100% whole wheat pasta with cauliflower...once it gets covered with cheese, it's hard to notice!  The recipe is adapted from Real Simple magazine.

12 ounces whole wheat pasta (I like to use a fun, twisty shape like cavatappi or rigatoni)
1 head cauliflower, chopped
2 slices whole grain bread
1/4 cup dried parsley or 1/2 cup fresh
1/4 fresh grated Parmigiano cheese
olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I like extra-sharp cheddar....more flavor!)
1 1/2 cups fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup fat free milk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Start by heating the oven to 400 (or not in my case as I made the recipe today and will be baking on Thursday).  Cook pasta in SALTED water (as we learned in our cooking class, this step is very important as it's the only time you can add flavor to the pasta).  Add the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time and then drain.  Transfer into large bowl.  

2. Meanwhile, grate cheese if needed (and I did need).

3. In a food processor, pulse bread until you have crumbs.  Add the parsley, Parmigiano cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Stream in 2 tablespoons of olive oil...or less...just need to the the crumbs moist and should look like this:

4. On medium heat, add 1 TBS olive oil to pan and saute onion until translucent and starting to brown.

 5. Then add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (or more depending on your tastes), cheese, sour cream and milk.  Reduce heat to low and cook until cheese melts.

6. Pour over cauliflower and pasta mix to coat

 7. Once combined, pour into an oven safe baking dish

8.  Top with bread crumb mixture and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pain de Campagne (Country French Bread)

One of my goals for 2012 is to make our bread (I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver while on vacation and now I'm inspired to make more local food choices....I highly recommend the book!) So here is my first attempt, based on a recipe I found at  I used regular flour instead of bread flour and subbed some whole wheat in as well.  I forgot to add the salt so ours turned out to be a little lacking in flavor but it has enough promise that I'll try it again!  Maybe I'll include some spelt or oat flour next time as well...with the salt, of course! 


  • For the Poolish:
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • For the Dough:
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 6 cups unbleached bread flour (I used 5 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal for dusting


  1. To make the sponge, whisk the 1/2 teaspoon yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Stir in the whole wheat flour until the mixture resembles a thick batter. Beat in mixer until combined (recipe suggests 100 strokes or until long strings of gluten form)  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let sit at room temperature for 2 to 8 hours (longer is better for flavor development). You can also let the poolish ripen in the refrigerator for 12 to 15 hours, bringing it back to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  2. When the poolish is ready, it will be bubbly and loose, with a yeasty, sour aroma. Scrape the poolish into a bowl and stir in the 2 1/2 cups water and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon yeast. Stir well to combine. Add the bread flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the dough becomes too difficult to stir.
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 10 to 12 minutes, adding more flour only when the dough becomes too sticky to handle. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should have a smooth surface and spring back to the touch. Shape the dough into a round and cover with a damp cloth for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat the surface of the dough with oil. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Deflate the dough and cut it into two pieces. Shape the dough into two rounds, cover them with plastic or a damp cloth, and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  6. Shape the dough into baguettes. Place a heavily floured cloth on a baking sheet, arranging a fold down the center to separate the loaves. Place the loaves, seam-side up, on the floured cloth. Dust the tops of the loaves with flour, cover with a damp towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk again, about two hours.
  7. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  8. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Gently transfer the risen loaves to the baking sheet, placing them seam-side down on the cornmeal. Make several diagonal slashes in the loaf with a serrated knife or razor blade.
  9. Immediately place the scored loaves in the preheated oven. Bake the bread until the loaves are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the loaves on wire racks.

Our 8lb Guard Dog

In December, we re-arranged the living room furniture to make room for the Christmas tree in front of the bay window (normally, the couch is nestled in there) and it's been Lila's favorite look-out spot.  When we come home, we see her nose pressed against the glass and she's usually barking.  She is, no-doubt, our guard dog!  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Meal Planning and Black Bean Soup

One thing that is very important to me is feeding our family at home.  I'm not saying that we don't go out, we do (and we have favorite places like North Star Cafe or Skillet) but the majority of our meals are made at home.  One way to ensure this happens is to plan out our meals.  On Sunday, I sit down with my cookbooks/magazines/recipes and first plan out the menu and then the shopping list.  It's a total time saver for the rest of the week!  My friend Kelly sent me these great recipe markers for Christmas...perfect for tagging recipes (and you can see our new french cook book from our friend Grant..I'll be using that later this week):  

On the menu for last night was our first meatless meal, Black Bean Soup (adapted from Edible Columbus, recipe by Tricia Wheeler):

1 pound dried black beans
12 cups water-note I should have used less
2 bay leaves-I omitted
1/2 cup olive oil-I decreased to a few tablespoons
2 large red peppers, cored, seeded and diced
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
8 medium cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed and chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons salt-I used more

Soak black beans overnight in water
Saute onions and peppers in olive oil until soft.  Then add garlic, cumin, oregano and chili powder and cook for a few more minutes.  (I did these steps the previous night)

 Drain beans from water and place in crock pot with water (I used 12 cups...which was too much, next time I'll start with 8 cups and add more if needed).  Cook on high for 4 hours, then add the onion/pepper mixture (I'm sure you could add this at the beginning if you needed to leave for the day).  Continue cooking on high until done (I cooked ours from 7am until 5pm, about 10 hours).  Depending on desired consistency, puree some of soup.  (I used my new emulsion blender and it whipped through the soup in 30 seconds).  Because I added too much water in the beginning, I made a slurry of cornstarch and pureed soup and added to thicken.

Garnish with toppings of choice:
Crushed tortilla chips
Sour cream
Diced jalapeno peppers
Fresh cilantro
Cheddar cheese

The review:  I will make this soup again (Chris really liked it) but next time less water.  Chris was worried that the soup wouldn't keep him full but that wasn't the case.  It makes a huge amount so we will be eating it for days!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012- A few goals

Now that we're a few days into 2012 and back into a routine (up at 5:30am, work out, soup in the crock-pot, ready to start work again) I thought I would share a few of my nutritional goals for 2012.

1. Going meatless 1 day a week.  It took me a few weeks to talk Chris into this but we will be trying for one meatless dinner per week...starting tonight with black bean soup and homemade bread (see below).

2. Baking our bread.  Bread isn't that hard to make and I like the idea of having control of our food.  I made a few loaves of country french bread on Sunday and will be posting the recipe.  I think I will be baking it every other week as we don't eat a lot of bread.

3. Supporting local farmers/local shops.  We already buy most of our pork and beef from Ohio farmers but I would like to increase our support of the local Ohio food economy.  Most of our favorite restaurants are locally  owned as well.

What are your goals for 2012?

Monday, January 2, 2012

House Projects

We've decided to tackle a few more house projects in 2012 (and finish one from 2011)....starting with the stairs.  Chris ripped out all the carpet last summer, leaving us with some beautiful hardwood floors.  While on vacation from work and break from school, we were able to paint the risers and they look SO MUCH BETTER!  Here are a few before and afters:

We (well, I) decided that it was time for the "little" bathroom to get a face's the size of a closet...seriously really tiny but it serves it's purpose!  We've removed all the wallpaper (I hate that stuff!) and will be painting the walls, replacing the sink, light fixtures and accents.  Here are a few photos of it in works.  We've got a date with the home improvement store this afternoon to pick out fixtures and I'm hoping to get it repainted next weekend before classes resume.  The condition of the walls in less than ideal so I'm thinking about doing a faux or textured treatment to the walls...anyone know if these are still "in"?    

Stay tuned for our progress.  What's on your 2012 project list?

2011 In Review

We've had a very blessed and busy 2011!  Here were the highlights:

In January we flew to Colorado to meet up with our NC friends and to ski at Vail.

In February we added a new family member, Lila.

In March Chris ventured to Brazil for spring break.

In April we ran a 10 miler with Brittany.

In June we spent a week in the OBX with family and friends.  Shortly after, Chris started making the weekly drive to Cleveland for his internship.

In July we participated in our first adventure race..which ended in a broken hand.  And had our first guest blogger, Brittany!

In September brought Chris home again and the start of school at OSU and the start of football season.  But not before I made a trip to Cleveland for a visit.  We also hosted a baby shower for Danielle and Tim's pending arrivals.

In October we welcomed our first nephews Luke and Logan.  Chris ran is first (and only) marathon and I was so proud of him.

In December we finished out the year by spending the holidays with family and a few sunny days in Sanibel Island, Florida.

What were your favorite parts of 2011?  What are you looking forward to in 2012?  We've got some adventures pending so keep in touch!