Monday, August 27, 2012

Save room for Strawberry Shortcake

It wasn't that long ago that I was in the school of thought that I needed to try out a recipe before I dare serve it to guests, but as of lately I'm willing to risk trying a new recipe when guests come over.  While I take my chances with trying something new, I also get the occasional splendid surprise of getting a recipe just right on the first shot!  My initial crack at strawberry shortcake yesterday was the closing course to dinner for our special guests, Clint's grandma, aunts and parents.  

While I was pretty good at not eating too many sweets during the week, I caved into eating two of these delightful treats!   Thank you Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook for being my go-to weapon!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quick {&} Easy dinner

Even on nights like tonight where we have just a few brief moments to make and eat dinner before we run off to different activities, I still like to sit down and enjoy a home-cooked meal with my husband.  My go-to quick and easy (and delicious!) meal lately is barbecue chicken salad.  
For our barbecue chicken salad I take a few thawed chicken breasts and marinade them in barbecue sauce for a few hours (I do this before leaving for work in the morning and let them sit in the fridge until I get home).  After the chicken has marinaded for a few hours, throw it on the grill to cook it through.  A big bed of romaine lettuce is the canvas to toss on diced tomatoes, chopped red onion, fresh corn, toasted tortilla strips, topped off by chunks of the cooked barbecue chicken.  We love adding a little more barbecue sauce to the salad with some fat-free ranch dressing to enhance the flavors.  You can make the chicken ahead of time and refrigerate it, or make extra to have the next day for a hearty lunch salad.

This quick meal is great to make if you're on the go, but still want to sit down at the table with your loved ones for a home-cooked meal! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week End...a little bit of this & that

Really, the weekend is just about over?!  Already?!  Once again the weekend was way too short, with too long of a list of things to get done and not enough time, but I can't complain since I feel it was an overall better end of the week than beginning of the week.  
While I may have not gotten the cleaning done that I intended, I finally got some good kitchen time in to try out some new recipes.  

I love cooking with lemons so the lemon-poppy scones were something fun to try.  Although they turned out to be more of a muffin type consistency, they were still tasty without being too tangy or too dense.  
The ingredients for the polenta with mushroom and balsamic sauce are still sitting in the fridge and cupboard, with hopes to make that recipe this coming week.  
With any luck, I'll be able to make time to add to the decorating and organizing I was able to do at the beginning of the week.  

The living room finally seems to look more finished rather than just another "work in progress" with the addition of the wall hangings.  I love the little framed (REAL!) butterfly  that I recently purchased.  It adds a little more nature and whimsy to our main living space.
I especially love making this space comfortable for us since this is the main place we relax and entertain in.  

This yummy candle here is one of the things that I think adds to the soothing "at home" feelings I get when in our living room right now.  I picked this up a couple of weeks ago and am so glad I splurged on it!  I'm not usually one to buy a lot of candles, but as soon as I smelled this, I was hooked!  The sweet, fresh and luxurious scent it gives off is pretty dead on to the smell of my favorite perfume, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle.  Seriously, for a couple days after I brought this candle home I couldn't help but pick it up and sniff it each time I walked near it!  The fragrence it brings into our house makes me so happy to be home!

Hopefully you all had a great weekend as well and here's fingers crossed to great upcoming week!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Hart this place!

We spent this last weekend in the great outdoors, camping in Santa Cruz, just steps away from the beach!  While it was relaxing and I finally seemed to get some summer color to my skin, I was especially excited to take an excursion to town for shopping.  Our first stop was at Harts Fabric, a long-standing fabulous fabric shop.  I may not be a stellar seamstress (yet, maybe one day!), but this inspiring shop had my creative juices flowing!  Perusing through the isles of beautiful fabrics and seeing the adorable project displays, I couldn't help but want to sew my heart out!  My mom and I agreed that if this shop was closer to home we would be taking classes there all the time!  Well...maybe it's good it isn't close to home, I could easily become a sewing fanatic!  


Monday, August 6, 2012

The essentials

Things have pretty bust around our house the last week or so, and it's made me realize how much I appreciate when I have time to make a home cooked meal.  Not only is it cheaper to make a meal at home, but I enjoy being able to make something tasty to enjoy with my family and friends. 
There are several things I always have on hand in the kitchen to either make an impromptu dish or fix a well planned feast.

Chicken breasts, having a 10 lb bag of chicken breast on hand never goes to waste!  Chicken is often my go-to protein since it can be made simple by throwing in a barbeque chicken pizza or fancied up by stuffing the chicken breast with delicious goodies.
White grape juice, this is a great substitute when a recipe calls for white wine. 
Chicken broth, whether its mixed into a savory soup or added into risotto, having broth on hand makes cooking many dishes super easy
Onions, no matter the style of the dish--Italian, Mexican or Greek--onions add crunch and a little bite that I love
Garlic, the pungent flavor of garlic is something I love in dishes from meatballs to potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil, this is a must have in my kitchen to pan sear or oven roast meats and vegetables

Makes me want to get in the kitchen & get cookin!