Sangria Kickoff

Before the honeymoon, I’d never been to Spain before. I’ve been to England, France, Italy, Greece, and all sorts of random countries in Eastern Europe but never Spain. Barcelona definitely made me want to go back. I loved it! It’s such a beautiful city. We landed, checked into our hotel, and immediately started to explore. I chose a hotel just steps off Placa de Catalunya. What a lovely area! It was also a holiday so it felt like our honeymoon was really off to a great start.We were starving and strolled past a bunch of out door cafes on las ramblas. We found a spot at one and began with some sangria. Ohh. The. Sangria. This is a half order! Mr. J tried it as well only because a when-in-rome mentality and loved it too!
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We each chose a dinner option for 3 house tapas and our choices of paella, pasta, or pizza. The tapas was heavy on fish, but I didn’t mind at all. Mr. J didn’t seem to either. One was a warm potato wedge with a sweet & creamy dressing. I liked it. Another was a crustini with tomato and a sardine. The last was a cold pasta salad with tuna. The sampler was good since we would’ve spent forever picking piece by piece.
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I went with the seafood paella. It was so good! I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I’ve always wanted to try and and I got my most authentic chance ever! There were huge shrimp (with the heads), scallops, muscles, and some sort of tougher fish…calimari-esque but not exactly the same. I could definitely taste the saffron but it wasn’t overpowering.
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I loved it. I ate my first shrimp head since apparently that’s where all the flavor is. I’m not sure if that will happen again or not.

Mr. J got pasta that was good, but not as blog-worthy as paella!

I fell for Barcelona while sipping my sangria, munching on paella, and watching a street festival unfold before my eyes. I guess there were fireworks but I was too tired/jet-lagged to even stay awake until 9 PM (also known as when locals eat dinner).

Happy Halloween!!

Put a Ring On It

” ”Cause if you liked it you should have put a ring on it”
With the help of my crafty mom, I made napkins to go with the super cute napkin rings I saw Martha make. I’m loving napkin rings right now. The napkin rings are preppy and festive, and had my sister’s name alllll over them. They were part of her maid of honor gift. The bridesmaids got these.
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I ordered the D-rings and ribbon from M&J Trimming. Both were very cheap.

“Ingredients”

12 D-rings the same size as the ribbon (I used ⅝ but would go bigger next time. 2 D-rings per napkin, 29 cents per ring)
1 yard ribbon, ⅝ inches wide (approx. $1.00 per yard)
hot glue
clear nail polish (or modge podge)

 

Directions

Cut ribbon in 6, 6-inch strips
Lay 2 D-rings at one end of the ribbon
Fold that end of ribbon back over the straight part of the D-ring and glue.

Cut the loose end at an angle and brush a little clear nail polish over the end so it won’t fray.
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That’s it!I tried tacky glue but it didn’t work at all, much to my surprise. They close just like a belt. I probably shouldn’t have used a one sided patterned ribbon because the tail loops backwards through the rings. Ohh well.

These napkin rings were really easy. The napkins were a bit more time consuming but I had access to mom’s fabric and sewing machine, as well as her help. I thought black and white would be a good halloween-y  design and would also work as anytime decor. Sis loves her table-scapes!

Birthplace of Pizza

My honeymoon was simply amazing. Beyond words. We saw some really amazing sites in Italy and Spain and definitely have memories for a lifetime. I loved Barcelona and Florence. They were my favorites. I had such high hopes for Naples and wasn’t a big fan. It’s quite smelly and loud. I just hoped to see a charming town not infiltrated with tourists where we could wander, eat, and repeat.They’ve had a trash problem. It doesn’t explain the lack of ladies hanging their laundry out windows and the guys hanging around pizzarias I was looking forward to. This image in my head wasn’t the case. I mean, this is the BIRTHPLACE OF PIZZA! I thought it had to be amazing!We did have the most delicious pizza I’ve ever tasted. I have to tell you that before I relay our crazy pizza adventure.
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We found this pizzaria called Pizzeria Pellone that Anthony Bourdain went to. The pizza is to die for, but I’m also thankful that we made it out without losing cameras, or fingers, to an intense owner. Seriously. He was very scary and did not at all appreciate us tourists in his restaurant. At all. This blog seemed to catch him on a good day?

Mr. J has serious camera equipment. Like paparazzi style with 2 bodies, multiple lenses, tripods strapped into a camera backpack which suggests he’s hiking across Europe. (Love you Mr. J!) He took the time to put one away into the bag and the other was strung across his chest before we went in. I had my camera in my purse so other than the camera bag, the guy wouldn’t have known I’m snap-happy around my food.
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This man stands guard at the front of the restaurant while his staff scurries around. We were seated in his direct view, by the door. He immediately came over and picked up Mr. J’s camera still strapped to him. This guy wasn’t having it. The other server said something in Italian and he finally backed off. Looking none to pleased. Mr. J remained calm while this guy practically manhandled his camera. Don’t mess with Mr. J’s dog or his camera.

I’m pretty sure they only answered me as to “where is the bathroom” because I asked in Italian.

We decided it best not to take any photos. It was that intense. We hadn’t even suggested that we would be taking photos. We ate the best pizza of our lives, finished our wine & beer and got out of there. Mr. J suggested we take the leftovers to go so at least we could get a photo outside. He’s always looking out for me.

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The bottom crust was so paper thin you’d never pick it up. The sauce was light and pink. It definitely didn’t have any herbs in it. The buffalo mozzarella was to-die-for. So good! Whole leafs of basil were crisped on top.

It was so filling. I don’t know how they each eat a whole one. We split one and didn’t finish it. I’ll remember the meal forever, and especially the pizza forever. I’ll try to recreate.

Chili Surprise

I’m a little backwards on my timeline here but shhh! Don’t tell anyone you haven’t seen honeymoon meals before seeing this honeymoon-return-meal.

I’m lucky to call one of the kindest humans I know, my friend. Ms. L not only supported me through allllll my wedding planning as a bridesmaid, but she cooked a meal and delivered it to me with all the fixings so I could put off grocery shopping after the honeymoon. How well does she know me?!

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She made Ina Garten’s chili and sent onions, sour cream, shredded cheddar, and corn chips for toppings. AMAZING! I ate it for meals on end before actually grocery shopping. It was delicious and I hope she kept some for herself too!

Chicken Chili (Ina Garten’s recipe)

Ingredients

4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
1/8 cup minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
4 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper
For serving: Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream

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Directions

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly.
Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.
Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

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It was such a thoughtful gesture and we loved it. I ate it for lunch all week too. I’m totally stealing this idea and giving somebody a meal when I think they’d need one. Thanks Ms. L!

Speaking of chili…I entered a Chili Cookoff! Can’t wait to share that with you too!

 

Love Lists

I love lists. I’ll admit it. Most people do.

I keep my daily to-dos at work as a running word-doc to avoid all the paper. My life to-dos are spread between 4 apps, shared google docs with the hubby, and the occasional post-it or white board note. I keep a grocery list on a shared app which was a genius invention even-though we rarely shop unplanned without coordinating with one another.

I think my lists make me more accountable and it’s just so fun to cross stuff of of there! Here a new list…probably the first of many. I define fall as pre-December.

Fall “To Cook” List:

  • Pumpkin Pancakes (I made them as waffles a long time ago) <find it here!>
  • Some sort of stew (I’m thinking maybe lamb & lentils?)
  • An annual apple crisp attempt (that won’t ever compare to my mother’s) <find it here!>
  • stuffing (I don’t like to call is dressing so stuffing is what I’ll make!)
  • some sort of cranberry cocktail (when I relocated our liquor I unearthed lots of cranberry vodka)
  • rosemary cashews (I made these in August but didn’t blog ‘em…addicting) <find it here!>
  • risotto (I bought some in Italy!) <find it here!>
  • coconut shrimp (just want to make it…it doesn’t have to be summer, right?) <find it here!>

Most are thematic but if I just need an excuse or when inspiration is lacking, I’ll be back…and I’ll be checkin’ stuff offa there! Have any recipes you suggest for these?

Stay tuned!

Gettin’ Crafty

I was so excited about my many pinned projects but I couldn’t share these with you until I gave them to their lucky recipients. I made coasters for my bridesmaids  as part of their gifts.
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The coasters were SUPER easy. Also very inexpensive. They’d make a really quick weekend project so get to work.

“Ingredients”

4 ceramic tiles (16 cents per piece)
1 piece of scrapbook paper (32 cents per piece, reversible if possible or wrapping paper)
modge podge & sponge brush
acrylic spray
16 self adheasive furniture protective footers, or 8 cut in halves (or small squares of felt)

Directions

Cut scrapbook paper for each tile. I did 2 coasters with a square and 2 coasters with the design carefully cut out.
Lay everything out and modge podge over it.
Let dry, and repeat (don’t forget the edges)
Let dry, and spray with acrylic spray
When dry, apply the furniture protective footers to each bottom corner

I thought these were fun and very easy. The longest part of the project was letting them dry! Supplies were cheap and I assume I’ll use the modge podge and acrylic spray again on other items.
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My sis/maid-of-honor got something else and requested some coasters for xmas. She’ll be really surprised to open some…wink, wink.

I saw huge tiles that screamed “I want to be a kitchen table trivet”. Maybe it will get that chance.

I’m baaaaaack!

I’m baaaaaaaack! I didn’t forget about you. Life just got away from me and between honeymooning, jet lag, seeing friends and family without a wedding focus, a trip for work, and not feeling so hot, I’ve been slow to get back to life. It all caught up with me after NYC kicked my butt. The pup can attest that the apt looks insane and I haven’t been cooking regularly. It’s craziness.
I have lots of fun to catch you up on. Here are some teasers you can just sit on the edge of your seat for:1) I’ve tried to get crafty…with a food/drink focus
2) A blue Le Creuset made it’s debut in my kitchen
3) Mr. J falls for sangria in Spain and I swoon over Paella
4) We could get used to 3 course meals all the time
5) birthplace of pizza was a pizza dining adventure
6) 2 words: chili cookoff
7) It’s time for crockpots, apples, and pumpkins ohh my!

I feel terrible that it has been so long, but never fear, I’m back. I am trying not to feel guilty since I do this for myself and it’s not like it’s my job or I’m letting any sponsors down (cough, cough:sponsors-welcome;cough).

Honey Limey Shrimpy

Here’s a quick dinner I wanted to share. Today I’m off to NYC for work after only been home from my honeymoon for 10 days. I was away for the weekend too. Phew! What a whirlwind! November definitely quiets down so I can’t wait to get some fall-ish meals going!

One night we thought a his & hers dinner would be good so we shared some roasted asparagus and each made our own thing. I had some grilled shrimp and Mr. J made some beefy thing. Chicken fried steak maybe? The only trick was that I started the asparagus wayyy too early, and my shrimp didn’t take long to cook either. Our tiny kitchen isn’t really conducive to 2 chefs so it didn’t surprise me that the timing wasn’t perfect.
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Anywho, onto my made up marinated & grilled shrimp!

Ingredients

7 shrimp, peeled & deveined (I buy them frozen that way)
1 tbs lime salad dressing (or lime juice)
1 tbs honey
½ tsp chopped garlic
½ tsp crushed red pepper
salt & pepper

Directions

Soak 2 bamboo skewers in water for 5 minutes to avoid splinters
Whisk marinade together and let shrimp rest in it for 10 minutes
Grill 4 minutes on each side, flipping once
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The asparagus was just roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The shrimp was really delicious. It got a great carmelization from the honey and was perked up from the lime and red pepper.
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I like skewers just for the ease. Do you remember my ‘On A Stick’ appetizer for fried ravioli on a stick? I thought the stick just made it easier. Same story for the grilling.

I don’t always think about shrimp when I’m coming with up a quickie dinner but maybe I should!

Bacon Bread

Hi, my name is Emily. I am Pintrest obsessed. “Hi Emily!”

Do you pin? It’s addicting. Pinterest is a virtual pin board.  I just love the creativity being shared on it!  It seems like such an efficient way to keep track of foods I want to make/attempt my twist on. I love introducing people to it, though I’ll warn you…if you’re on Pinterst and don’t pin then you’re a mooch! Go ahead, follow me.
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I saw a pin from somebody’s blog that became widely popular. Cheesy bacon ranch bread. Duh, why wouldn’t that be popular?? It seems to have originated on a fun blog called Plain Chicken. Also, today is Monday and I’m worried you might not have had enough bacon in your life over the weekend. Oh, I forgot. Today is a holiday for some lucky people to continue their weekend life…not me though.

Mine wasn’t exactly to-die-for, but I think I’d attempt again. Without further ado, I give you Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pulls (from Plain Chicken)

Ingredients

1 round loaf sourdough bread
8-12 oz shredded cheddar cheese
3 oz bacon (I used 3 slices, chopped)
½ cup butter (I used ⅓ cup but should have used more)
1 tbs ranch dressing mix

Directions

Cut bread in 1 inch slices going almost all the way through, in both directions
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Sprinkle cheese and bacon between the cuts
Mix ranch powder and butter together and drizzle all over the top
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Cover with foil and bake at 350-degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes

I think more of everything would have made mine better. Mine didn’t open up like Plain Chicken’s. Hers is beautifully separated just waiting to be pulled apart.

I think more is more in this case, and I think it would be easier with another set of hands to separate while filling & drizzling. Maybe if there was just so much cheese & bacon then it would automatically separate the bread pulls.
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I see the potential. That blogger also made a brunch one with cinnamon & sugar which sounds good. This is a dish to eat with close friends or family. I can’t imagine a shy group getting in there and pulling it apart with you! I made this at my parents house so I prepped everything and assembled there. Can’t you tell the beautifully bright photos after I sliced in my windowless dungeon of a kitchen?

Easy-Peasy Pizza

This isn’t just any pizza…it is Greek pizza. I remember making this pizza back in my grocery shopping days at Trader Joe’s without a car. It wasn’t alllll that long ago, but it sure feels like a different life. My shopping modus operandi was: lightweight. Carrying bags on the subway is really not fun, especially when they are heavy. Trader Joe’s is great for random ingredients to put together. I came home with an artichoke tapande and wasn’t sure how I would use it. This time I used a sundried tomato spread that wouldn’t be great as a sauce otherwise.
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This pizza is super easy and thrown together. I whipped up these for a week of lunches while making dinner one night. My recipe makes 5 pizzas. Making little pizzas only took me about 20 minutes, including the baking time! So simple!
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Ingredients
wheat pita bread
1 cup tapenade or pesto (I used sundried tomato pesto)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 cup fetaDirections
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Top pitas with pesto and dried herbs & salt/pepper.
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Layer mozzarella onto the pizza
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Add chopped spinach to each pizza and top with feta.

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Bake 10 minutes.I undercooked these somewhat so I could pop one in the toaster oven at work for lunch each day. It was good! The flavor comes from the pesto and the seasoning. Feta gets even better after being baked.

My fridge only had scant amounts of mozzarella and feta leftover so next time I might use more. I used full sandwich sized pitas but think the mini pitas would turn this into a fun appetizer.
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I like the freshness and ease of these.