Monday, September 10, 2012

32 Weeks

 Here we are at 32 weeks on the nose! Bec took some photos for us yesterday and I just love them! She is so talented. The lighting is lovely.

Again, I look a lot bigger than I feel! Each baby weighs approximately 4 pounds.
About 6 more weeks til the girls are here!

And the man that made this all possible is looking mighty fine these days too!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

30 Weeks

I know I've been MIA for awhile and I am very sad about that. I think about blogging a lot but I just never get to it. Plus, I haven't been cooking too many creative meals lately. Once the girls are here and we're on a schedule (sooo,  next Spring?!!), I will be back at it! Until then, I'll keep posting random updates.

Mom, Claire & Eden at 30 weeks.... growing big!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Our 1st Wedding Anniversary

On Monday Adam and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary.
Here is one of my favorite photos from our wedding day - our frist dance as husband and wife.

To celebrate, we went to Baltimore for the day. With the city only an hour away from our new house, it was a great getaway. We saw a lot of the city we had never seen before.

We started our day walking around Camden Yards and then visited Babe Ruth's birthplace.

Unfortunately, it rained the entire day so after our visit with Babe, we made our way to a nearby bar to wait out the rain. After 2 orders of fried pickles for me and some local brews for Adam at Pickles Pub, the rain held steady. So with our new Orioles umbrellas, we ventured to Little Italy.

We ate at a cute place called Chiapparelli's.
I had homemade manicotti and Adam had a caprese panini.
We will definitely visit this restaurant again!

After lunch we made our way to Inner Harbor for dessert.... 2 delectable pieces of cheesecake from where else than the Cheesecake Factory!

Next we headed to the National Aquarium. Even though it was a busy Saturday, we got to see everything, including our favorite - the sharks and sting rays. We even saw an enormous sea turtle who was missing his front left flipper, which made him all the more adorable!

Here I am on my wedding day and then... a little rounder... 1 year later, along Inner Harbor.

After a short rest at the hotel, we visited the neighborhood of Canton to feast on a dozen crabs at Bo Brooks. A great treat!

Adam picked his crabs and saved all the meat until the end. He had a big bowl of buttery crab to enjoy.

After dinner, we ventured to Fells Point. We wanted to visit America's oldest saloon, The Horse You Came In On. It was packed. We had to wait in line just to get in. Even though I felt awkward in a lively bar with my big belly, we had a good time (for the 20 minutes I lasted). There was a fun band and the girls liked the music. They were kicking away!

Before we headed back to the hotel, I had to have some gelato at Pitango - chocolate and pistachio. A great ending to a great day!

So when our official anniversay rolled around on Monday, we got the top tier of our wedding cake out of the freezer.

The gorgeous cake on our wedding day:

 And one year later:

Not as delicious as we remember, but it was fun to reminisce about our beautiful wedding day.

It was a wonderful anniversary! I can't wait to celebrate next year with our girls!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sticky Orange Chicken Thighs

 My mom used to get the Everyday Food magazine and we'd always make lots of recipes from each edition. It's such a good magazine. Since we've moved, I have subscribed and I'm so excited to cook from it. Super easy and healthy recipes.

These sticky orange chicken thighs from the June 2012 edition of the magazine aren't too healthy but they are easy and tasty!

Here's the recipe with my changes/notes:
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup thawed orange juice concentrate
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
4 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (make sure your oven is clean or it will get very smokey in your kitchen with or without a smoke detector going off!), with rack in upper third. Season chicken with salt and pepper and arrange, skin side down, on a parchment paper covered rimmed baking sheet. Bake until deep golden brown and cooked through, 40 to 50 minutes, flipping halfway through (mine were done at 40 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 1 teaspoon salt, juice concentrate, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until mixture has thickened, 15 minutes.

Heat broiler. Transfer chicken to a large bowl, add glaze, and toss to coat. Drain off fat from sheet, throw away parchment paper and replace with a new sheet (really helps with clean up). Return chicken to sheet and broil until sauce is bubbling and chicken is dark brown in spots, 1 to 2 minutes.

We ate our chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

23 Weeks

Here I am at 23 weeks in front of our new house!

We've been moved in for 3 weeks now. We're really loving the house, neighborhood and the short drive to work. And the dogs love going for long walks.

We saw the Dr today and the girls and I are growing right on track, with Baby A weighing in at 1 lb 4 oz. and Baby B weighing in at 1 lb. 6 oz. And Mama weighing in at... well, let's just say the Dr said I'm right where I should be :)

I'm feeling really good but just tired when I get home from work. I keep telling myself this fatigue is nothing compared to what it will be like when I'm carrying around girls in my belly that are 4, 5 and 6 pounds each!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Who will they be?


Two girls!!
We are having twin girls! They are fraternal which means they aren't identical and will have their own unique look but still the special bond of being a twin!
We can't wait to meet them!
22 weeks down... over half way there!

Delicious, pink butter cream filled cakes by The Couture Cakery
Lovely images by Rebecca Sior Photography

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

I can never have too many sweets these days. So when I was wanting a cookie, I found a peanut butter version at the cafeteria and it was pretty good. Since I had that one cookies was wanting more!
Two days later I made these.
The basic, traditional peanut butter cookie.
They turned out so well. They are super simple to mix together too.

From a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Granulated sugar in a shallow bowl

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare cookie sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Gradually beat in the flour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in additional granulated sugar to coat. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten by making crisscross marks with the tines of a fork.

Bake for about 7-8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My 5th Year College Reunion

 Last Friday, Adam and I began our journey to Roanoke, VA for my 5th Year Reunion from Hollins University. It felt good to be back - the last 5 years flew by.
We stayed two nights at the beautiful Hotel Roanoke.

After checking in, I took Adam to the top of Mill Mountain to see the beautiful view of the Roanoke Valley. Hollins is to the right, about 11 miles away.

 I just love all the things that tell us we're in the south - like this huge magnolia blossom.

Adam took this picture of my 18 week belly. Those baby are getting big - and I just started feeling them move around!

 This is a photo of everyone from my class that attended reunion, taken right after the parade of classes.

Here Adam is chatting with some of my classmates during the Tinker Day Lunch.

The highlights of a traditional Tinker Day lunch is fried chicken and chocolate cake. Both were just as delicious as they were when I was a student.
For those of you who don't know, Tinker Day is a Hollins tradition that takes place in the fall. Students are surprised early in the morning by seniors banging pots and pans to wake everyone up. Then we all go to the dining hall in our PJs for Krispy Kremes, followed by getting dressed up in crazy costumes, hiking Tinker Mountain, having lunch and entertaining each other with skits. It's a special day that you have to see to believe!

This is me in front of a building on campus before dinner on Saturday night.

This was a beautiful spread for cocktail hour.

The tulip and lemon centerpiece for the dinner buffet was picture perfect.

And for our send off from the Star City, we had brunch at the First & Sixth Restaurant in the newly renovated Patrick Henry Hotel. It was delicious and I highly recommend it. I planned a spring cotillion in the Patrick Henry the year before it was renovated so it was fun to go back to see the changee. Below is Adam's Bloody Mary - green bean and all!

Adam and I are already looking forward to my 10 Year Reunion!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Balsamic Chicken Caprese

Last night we made one of our favorite dinners. This is only the second time we've made it but I'm sure we'll be making it a lot this summer - it's easy, quick, healthy and tastes super fresh. It comes from my friend, Jamie who shared it in Hope In The Kitchen Wedding Edition.

The recipe is not very specific - you can make it according to how many people you are serving.

Boneless, skinless chicken breast - I prepared 4 thinly sliced breasts for the 2 of us
Balsamic vinegar
Fresh mozzarella
Basil leaves
Olive oil

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken a large resealable plastic bag. Add balsamic vinegar - a few tablespoons just to coat the chicken. You can let the chicken sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to marinade or put in the refrigerator for an hour. You will be surprised how much great taste is infused into the chicken in such a short time.

Meanwhile, slice the tomato and mozzarella into rounds.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add some olive oil to the pan, then cook the chicken until done.

You can then stack the tomato, mozzarella, basil and chicken into the desired arrangement. Drizzle all with olive oil and serve.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Where I've Been & Cheeseburger Soup

I know I haven't posted for months and it makes me sad.
I look at my own blog often to refer to my blog reading lists (see left side) and everytime I see that broccoli noodle casserole, I just can't believe I haven't posted since March.

You may think since I haven't been posting, that means I haven't been cooking.
Well, you are partially correct.
I haven't made many new recipes over the past few months.

But I have been cooking...

two little Pankakes...

in my belly!

That's right! Adam and I are expecting twins on November 4.
Everything is going well and the twins are growing fast - already 16 weeks along.

The first few months of pregnancy, I wasn't feeling too hot and didn't have much energy so I really wasn't making any meals that required much effort.
But now I am feeling better - and hungry! - so I'm back at it!

Thanks to Bec, we have this great photo taken at 15 weeks, 6 days.

Cheeseburger Soup

This is a delicious soup I made for the first time last night. It's a recipe from my Aunt Donna and she put it in the Hope in the Kitchen Wedding Edition. You can use your favorite kind of cheddar - white or yellow.

1/2 small onion, chopped
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 chopped celery
1/2 lb ground beef
4 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, cubed
1/4 cup sour cream

In a dutch oven, melt 1 Tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally until meat is cooked through and vegetables are soft.
Add the basil and parsley. Stir.
Add the chicken broth and potatoes. You may need to add more broth so potatoes are covered.
Bring to a boil and cook for 12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
In a seperate bowl, melt the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter and stir in the flour. Then whisk in the milk.
Slowly add the milk mixture to the soup, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and stir in the cheese. Once cheese melts, stir in the sour cream. Do not boil.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chicken Broccoli Noodle Casserole

I have been thinking about making this for quite sometime. It sounded hearty and filling on a work night when we get home and are ineditably starving! I roasted the chicken in the morning while we were getting ready for work so it was already to incorporate in the casserole when I got home.
This recipe is from Skinny Taste, with my changes. Plus I don't stick to the low-fat ingredients like Gina does.
6 oz egg noodles
2 tsp oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
12 oz fresh broccoli florets, chopped
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1-3/4 cups fat free chicken broth
1 cup 1% milk
12 oz cooked shredded chicken breast - I used 2 bone-in, skin-on split breasts, roasted for 40 minutes at 350 degrees
4 oz shredded cheddar
cooking spray
3 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
2 tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs
Cook noodles in salted water until al dente, or slightly undercooked by 2 minutes. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook on medium heat until golden, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli and a little salt, sauté and cover the broccoli for about 3 minutes on medium heat until the broccoli begins to soften. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly spray a 9 x 12 casserole dish with cooking spray.
In a large pot, heat butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and a pinch of salt and stir well, cooking an additional 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat.
Slowly whisk in the chicken broth until well combined over medium heat; whisk well for 30 seconds, then add the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat, mixing occasionally until it thickens (about 6-7 minutes).
Remove from heat and add cheddar and 1 tablespoon of the parmesan cheese; mix well until the cheese melts.
Pour into a casserole dish and top with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray a little more cooking spray on top and bake for about 20 minutes. Place the casserole under the broiler a few minutes to get the crumbs crisp and golden (1-2 minutes).

Friday, March 9, 2012

Beer Brats

These sausages are delicious. And so easy to make. They were so good that as I was preparing dinner the next night, all I could think about was how I wanted more of these sausages! The onions in the dish taste sweet. Make sure you have some with each bite of sausage!
We ate them as is but they would also be good in a roll with mustard.
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 bratwurst sausages (I used Johnsonville)
1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
1/2 bottle beer, preferably dark but I used a lager
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Brown sausages until deep golden brown (do not puncture sausage). Remove to a platter.
To the drippings, add the remaining teaspoon of oil and the onion rings. Toss onions to coat with oil. Cook, stirring often, until onions are limp and golden but not brown.
Return the sausages to the onions and add the beer. Cook over medium heat, turning midway through, until beer has cooked down to a syrupy sauce, about 15 minutes.
Recipe from that I found while searching for a way to use these sausages.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Roasted Potatoes with Creamed Peas

Moving along to another recipe from a Cuisine at Home magazine. I just got the new issue - April 2012 - and couldn't wait to try something.

Last night we had baked haddock and these Roasted Potatoes with Creamed Peas - very yummy!

The recipe calls for mace, which I do not have, so as recommended, I subsituted it with nutmeg. (Mace is the ground waxy red covering of the nutmeg).

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
2 cups milk
2 cups frozen petit peas
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss potatoes with oil; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet; roast until golden, about 20-25 minutes, stirring midway through.

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes. Whisk in flour and mace or nutmeg; cook 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly.

Whisk in milk and increase heat to medium. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add peas; cook 1-2 minutes more. Stir in dill, zest and lemon juice. Season peas with salt and cayenne and serve over roasted potatoes.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Spanish Tomato Soup

We have been loving the soup and sandwich combo at our house since my mom got us a Breville panini press - which I highly recommend - for Christmas. Grilled cheese is a go-to and this time we stuck to the classic partner -tomato soup. I found this Spanish tomato soup from my Cuisine at Home magazine from October 2011.

As you read the recipe, it calls for olives and parsley to be stirred in before serving, which we did not do because I didn't have olives, plus Adam doesn't like them.

Adam was expecting a traditional tomato soup but I wanted to mix things up a bit. I really enjoyed the spices in the soup and the roasted potatoes on top.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 cups tomato juice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup manzanilla olives, sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For the potatoes, combine 1 Tablespoon oil and 2 teaspoons paprika in a large bowl, then toss with potatoes. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast until golden, 30-40 minutes, stirring midway through cooking.

For the soup, in a dutch oven, sweat onion and garlic in 2 Tablespoons oil over medium-low heat until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in 1 Tablespoon paprika, oregano, cumin and pepper flakes. Deglaze pot with sherry and cook until nearly evaporated.

Add tomato juice, vegetable broth, and tomatoes. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in orange juice. Puree soup with a hand blender until smooth.

Stir in olives and parsley; season with salt and pepper.

Serve topped with the roasted potatoes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Treats for the Dogs

This morning I woke up to this lovely Valentines Day card sent to the Pankakes from the McDonalds. It's just too cute! Thank you, Bec!

This greeting fits perfectly with my post theme today - Valentine cookies for the dogs!

On Sunday, Auntie Arielle made heart shaped doggie treats for Baxter, Trapper and Chester. And the canines LOVE them! They gobble them down so fast.

Here's the recipe she used created by a woman named Ann (it came with a bone shaped cookie cutter my mom bought years ago):

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon wheat germ
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
6 Tablespoons bacon grease or meat drippings
1 egg
1/2 cup ice water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all dry ingredients. Cut in drippings. Mix in egg. Add enough ice water for mixture to form a ball. Using a floured work surface and rolling pin, roll to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a cookie cutter - Arielle used a heart shaped cutter for Valentines Day. Bake on a parchment paper cover cookie sheet for 25 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Baxter and Trapper enjoyed their cookies this morning!

Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Energy Bites

I'm always looking for easy breakfast and snack items that we can grab and go. I found a recipe for engery bites from Gimme Some Oven and I made them last week. I really enjoy the taste and they are full of tasty goodness. The addition of flaxseed gives extra fiber and protects against all kinds of disease. I got my flaxseed at the Newport Health Food Store and used a coffee grinder to grind the seeds for this recipe because I don't have a spice grinder.

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup toasted coconut flakes (bake shredded coconut on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it - burns fast!)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients until well combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes then roll into 1 inch balls. Store in an air tight container between layers of wax paper. Keep refrigerated when you can.

I have kept them on my desk during the day and they are fine - just a little soft.

You can add other ingredients too like dried cranberries or use other nut butters.

Again, thank you Gimme Some Oven! Love your blog!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chocolate Cheese and a Pickle

Last week we were pleasantly surprised with a package from my brother who is living in Michigan. Earlier, he texted us to say he was in a Bavarian town in Michigan called Frankenmuth and told us about the great beer halls and the cheese haus there. And you all know Germany is special to us!

Bro was such a sweetheart and mailed us some cheese from Frankenmuth!

A delicious sharp cheddar and chocolate cheese!

The chocolate cheese tasted like a mixture of fudge and cheddar. It's still a toss up about how I feel about it... but it was fun to try it!

In Frankenmuth there is a huge Christmas store and my brother bought us a pickle for our Christmas tree! A pickle ornament is a German tradition. It is hidden on the tree and on Christmas morning the children of the house are to look for the ornament and whoever finds it first gets an extra gift! It's meant to be a way for children to admire and appreciate the tree and its decor instead of immediately opening presents on Christmas morning. Can't wait to put it on our tree!

Thank you, brother, for our special treats!

And in December, friends of ours sent us a pancake ornament from this exact same store too!

We hope to someday make it to Frankenmuth... maybe for the Oktoberfest??!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend in D.C.

Last weekend Adam, Nick and I ventured to Washington, D.C. for a weekend of food, fun and basketball. We got Nick tickets to the Georgetown basketball game for his birthday so we made a weekend out of it. We explored new parts of the city and ate and drank along the way.

< 1 > Bloody marys to start the journey at 7:30 am
< 2 > French press coffee at Chinatown Coffee
< 3 > the boys with the Georgetown basketball program at the bus stop.

While the boys were at the Georgetown Basketball game, I enjoyed some tapas at Jaleo.
< 1 >Serrano ham, manchengo cheese and tomato on a crusty little roll < flautas >
< 2 >Ham & cheese fritters
< 3 >Patatas bravos

Next we ventured to Georgetown on the bus. The bus left us off right in front of Sprinkles Cupcakes. As avid Cupcake Wars watchers (the founder of the bakery, Candice, is a judge), we had to stop in to try one. We had the vanilla cake with chocolate frosting & sprinkles, of course. And it was "the thing" to eat your cupcake with a fork & knife. With much jesting from my travelling buddies, I used the fork for one bite and continued with my hands, as it should be done!

We enjoyed even more cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake. Salted caramel, red velvet, chocolate, vanilla, coconut and peanut butter fudge! All were delicious except for the coconut. The salted caramel was the best by far! If you ever go, make sure to place your order online ahead of time. Then you can just go right into the store, give them your name and you'll have your cupcakes in a few minutes. Otherwise, you have to wait outside in a line of 50+ people.

Then we went to dinner at The Caucus Room. Steak, sorbet and wine. Yum!

After dinner we took a cab to The Gibson - a speakeasy. When you arrive, there are no signs or windows on the exterior - only a number on the door. We entered, gave the name the reservation was under, and then we were whisked into a dark, very seductive atmospheric bar that has a sweet and fruity smell. The bar was packed - it only holds 48 people and reservations are highly recommended. We were given a very exotic drink menu. I ordered a drink with Edelweiss liqueur and lavender bitters. It was strong and floral - very good. Kind of reminded me of Switzerland for some reason. I highly recommend The Gibson and we will definitely be going back!