1
Weekly Round Up
2
Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
3
For The Love of Pineapple
4
Planting The Tomatoes
5
Gingerbread Popcorn
6
Soho House Berlin Review
7
Weekly Round Up
8
Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos
9
Mexican Fried Ice Cream
10
Tortilla Soup
11
Custom Wrapping Paper Ideas
12
Cilantro Lime Basmati Rice
13
Meet Steve’s Plants
14
Weekly Round Up
15
FiFi Bofinkles Is My Girl
16
Planting Broccoli + Cauliflower And How To Build Garden Containers
17
Delicious Taco Casserole
18
All About the Greens
19
Cleaning Up The Strawberries
20
Green Bean and Broccoli Casserole

Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday everyone!

Doesn’t the week go by so quick sometimes?  One day it’s Monday and I’m yawning, then the next thing I know it’s almost the weekend full of hopeful walks in the park, pancakes in the morning and  lazy evenings.  Every week doesn’t go so smooth, but this week sure felt quick!  How was yours?

I found this great link of 56 things to do instead of spending money.  I’m really feeling the ideas for:
Get Organized! I have a whole cabinet shelf full of tupperware that must be straightened out.  I need some type of system here that works out.
Use Those Gift Certificates! We have one that is almost a year old now, we need to get to the store and use it.
Spa Day At Home! Soak those feet! You deserve it!
Make Gifts! Make someone smile, it’s the best feeling in the world.
Clean! Must be done, usually not fun.
Catch Up On Your Reading! I have had Marie Antoinette’s biography for a few months that I keep renewing from the library. I was 75% into the book but then I stopped. I have to finish it!
Make Cookies! Of course.
Start a Happy Book! This for me means scrapbooking.  I need to dive back into this dangerous world.
Hike! We are planning a hiking adventure soon.

In recipes I made this week and shared with you:
Gingerbread Popcorn – easy to make, healthy and yummy!
Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars – hands down, one of the best things I ever made!

In recipes that I saved to hopefully make soon:
I started to use Pinterest (again) to organize all my recipes.  I found a great app for my Windows Phone so I can easily open up Pinterest in the grocery store and have all  my recipe lists.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Dough Overnight Oats – looking forward to try this for breakfast soon.
Lime Cake Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze – need I say more?
Easy Cinnamon Rolls – really… come on.. look at this magic!
Roasted Red Pepper Parmesan Baked Eggs – look how good this looks!
Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza with Sunny Side Up Egg – thinking of adding ricotta too…
Mexican Pizza – I got all the ingredients for this, probably will be made this weekend.

Things I ask you:
What’s your favorite pizza topping?
Do you have any fun plans this weekend?
What do you do when you are feeling guilty from eating too many sweets?

Garden News:
blogIMG_1964
It is very close to being able to pick lettuce, spinach and kale.  Starting the next week we will start picking harvest for yummy lunches, dinners and snacks.    I couldn’t help myself so I picked a small amount of buttercrunch lettuce earlier this week.  Man, it’s so good.

WP_20130506_051
I love seeing all the green appear in the garden!

WP_20130506_048
We’ve had 2 big days of rain which is great because we were going on 3 weeks with no rain.  The garden did well with the first storms, it actually really enjoyed them and seemed to grow stronger.  Especially that kale, watch out for it.

WP_20130506_024
Massive leaves on the Brussels Sprouts plants.  This is the first year growing them… very excited to see how it turns out.

WP_20130506_030
Giant broccoli leaves!

WP_20130507_006.jpg
We spent some time this week getting our compost situation back in order.  We were able to get a few bags of cocoa  husks.  I’ll do a full post on this next week.  Just think about how 200 pounds of cocoa husks smell….mmmmmmm.

House Updates:
blogIMG_1967
We finally mounted the tv to the wall.  It’s been sitting on our farmhouse table for months.   Also the “FAMILY” portrait series on the wall is growing.  

WP_20130504_009.jpg
I desperately want this chair from a furniture store in Soho.  It’s even on sale! If by sale you mean $10,000.  I’ll just dream about it..

WP_20130508_017.jpg
Love how the light makes my desk area look purple ombre. 

WP_20130510_00320130510122555.jpg
Game of Thrones fans?  My lovely friend Jessie surprised me with this Jon Snow doll in the mail.  He now lives on my desk so we can talk to each other all day  long.

NYC Update:
Long Walk For Shoes 5/4/2013
We love taking long walks.  You can usually find us walking somewhere (or Matthew biking) instead of taking the subway if possible.  This past weekend we took a big walk from our home to Soho.  There we bought some sneakers and then walked back.  One of my favorite parts of New York is the ability to walk almost anywhere.

WP_20130506_077 (1)
These are the shoes we bought.  They’re both from the Adidas store.  Mine were 30% off!  *High Five*  I love the zipper in the middle, such a unique twist on a sneaker.

WP_20130508_00720130508233927.jpg
It rained, Manhattan was barely visible from our rooftop.

WP_20130507_01220130507213205.jpg
Birds flew…

WTC
You can see One World Trade Center pretty clearly with some binoculars from our apartment.  Here you can see the Spire was raised and is now on top…

Meowza Update:
Or as I like to call it, the loves of my life update:
WP_20130505_00420130505180739.jpg
FiFi Bofinkles passes out in front of me.

WP_20130506_068
FiFi Bofinkles sleeping.

WP_20130509_005.jpg
Waking up to FiFi Bofinkles in the morning looks like this. 

WP_20130506_06620130506170332.jpg
Xanadu being the queen on her pizza pillow throne.

WP_20130506_06520130506170246.jpg
FiFi Bofinkles questioning her position while Xanadu looks down at her.

 WP_20130506_067
Brother’s tail is furry too.

WP_20130507_00120130507010816.jpg
Brother Bear’s favorite spot to lay is in my underwear drawer (TMI?).  As soon as I open it up, he runs full speed (as fast as a big guy can run and jump) and dives in.  He loves it there.  Why?

WP_20130509_009.jpg
I worked out while Brother took a nap in front of me.  Not fair.

WP_20130508_009.jpg
This is the cat at our local pet store, her name is Lilly and she’s huge.    Often they have bags of cat food 50% off because Lilly decided to try to open them up with her teeth.  She’s a good girl though and is extra sweet.  Everytime I go in the store I look for her first.   Then she gives me her belly.

Food Update:
WP_20130503_006.jpg
Chia seed brownies? Yes, please.  Going to try to figure out the recipe for these for a future share…

WP_20130506_080
Matthew had a belated surprise party!  I told him it was just 2 friends then he walked out and everyone was there.  It was great seeing him light up.

WP_20130506_087
The Calamari Fritti was delicious!

WP_20130506_088
This was Mediterranean octopus  which was char-grilled.  It was my first time eating octopus and I found it good, especially since it was grilled and crispy on the outside.  The inside was very chewy, but still enjoyable.

WP_20130506_091
Pepperoni and mushroom pizza are always our go to’s.  The surprise party was at Lisola’s in Williamsburg Brooklyn.  I would highly recommend it, the service was so good too.  The pizza is made in wood fired ovens, which is always the way to go with pizza.

WP_20130506_094
Prosciutto is my favorite topping on pizza.

WP_20130506_100
And then I ate a cannoli.  It was one of the best I ever had.  I actually ate 2, I’m a bad girl. They even had chocolate chips inside.  Oh my! I loved the restaurant because the entire balcony is filled with herbs that they pick and use on the dishes.   This always makes me so happy to see.


Matthew got a piece of cheese cake because he was the birthday boy. 🙂

WP_20130507_075.jpg
During the week Matthew made some buttered noodles with steamed broccoli.  I added in cherry tomatoes and some fresh garden lettuce.   This was so simple but so yummy.

WP_20130509_006.jpg
Lately I’ve been craving fruits and lots of it.  This was my breakfast one morning.

WP_20130508_016.jpg
I also made a pineapple, strawberry, apple, ginger ale smoothie.  This was also great.  For my smoothies I pretty much mix anything I have that is a sweet fruit and it turns out wonderful.

WP_20130508_012.jpg
I bought these tortilla chips based on the character on the bag.

WP_20130508_005.jpg
Almonds are also a current weakness.  These are cinnamon sugar almonds, I have a hard time not coming back for seconds or thirds.

WP_20130509_016.jpg
We met a friend in town from London at Pinche Taqueria.  

WP_20130509_018.jpg
I had a wonderful tortilla soup and a steak taco.  The tortilla soup still didn’t beat my favorite recipe, but this was unique as it had more of a bbq taste to it.  

WP_20130510_004.jpg
She brought us delicious Cadbury chocolate from London.  When we got home we ate some Crunchie bits while laying in bed.  I almost ate  a bar for breakfast but I held back.  I will wait for later in the day. 🙂

WP_20130509_012.jpg
We met another friend in Soho that we haven’t seen in quite a while.  We went to Cafe Select and our waiter was a bit uppity.  When he gave me my change he totally didn’t give me back any of the coin change (it was 40 cents, not like 1 penny).  It’s like he took my amount due and rounded up to the nearest dollar.  Who does that?  Anyways, I had some earl gray tea.

WP_20130509_013.jpg
And we split a warm apple strudel  with glazed caramel sauce that had whipped cream, strawberries and ice cream.  For the hefty price of $8 it was pretty big.

 Fashion:
WP_20130506_07620130506234711.jpg
I like to wear cat print anything, including denim dresses that make me look like a first grade teacher (or first grader).

 WP_20130509_011.jpg
I got bored with  nail polish..

WP_20130509_024.jpg
So I came up with this dot/sparkle/pastel combination.

Work:
Sunday night, calibrating RGBD, then on to Game of Thrones.
On the work front we have been experimenting a bunch with new technology.    This past week has been a good week to regroup after finishing a bunch of projects.  It’s a time to breathe, experiment and see where the next projects will lead.


This is a new project we just released for V fashion magazine.  It went live this week and we’re super proud of it.  You can see the entire project here

 

 Happy Weekend everyone!! Have a great one!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

These Homemade Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are about to become your new favorite breakfast, snack and dessert!  This is a healthy copycat recipe for Quaker Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.  Are there any words more beautiful?

After I made the first batch of chocolate chip granola bars, my mind started to wonder to the wonderful world of peanut butter.  Soon later it floated to the island of pretzels.  There peanut butter pretzel chocolate chip granola bars was born.

 About these delightful bars:

Do you enjoy chocolate + salty at the same? I do!  These are for you.
Do you like a bit of crunch in your granola bars? I do!  These are for you.
These are dangerous to have around your house.  Proceed with caution.
I don’t listen to my own advise and made multiple batches.   We annihilated these batches.
I have given these to friends as a “hey you are pretty cool” gift.  Friends swoon.
After the first time I made them I declared “These might be the best thing I ever made”.  

 So now I present you.. the future love of your life that will always be there for you, Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.

blogIMG_1178

 Is there a better afternoon snack than this?
blogIMG_1184

blogIMG_1685

 

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 3/4 cup chopped pretzels
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Spray a 8x8 pan lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Mix your oats and cereal together in a large bowl.
  3. Chop your pretzels up and mix with oats and cereal.
  4. In a small saucepan melt butter, brown sugar, honey and peanut butter on medium high heat until melted. Once it begins to bubble change heat to low and stir for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove saucepan from burner and stir in your vanilla.
  6. Pour your hot mixture over your oats mixture. Stir well. You want to make sure every single piece of oats and cereal is coated.
  7. Pour your mixture into your greased pan and push down with spatula to flatten it.
  8. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top evenly. Use your spatula to press them down so they are embedded in the bars.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to set for 1 hour.
  10. Cut into granola bar sizes.
  11. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

If you would like to make a larger batch, use a 9x13 pan and double everything, except use 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips.
Store these in the fridge.

Adapted from Rachael Ray

 

blogIMG_1152
Here’s all the ingredients you need!  Note: When I use peanut butter in recipes like this I usually get the cheap stuff and don’t use my gourmet peanut butter cinnamon swirl magic that I usually eat on bread.  The cheap stuff does the job for these, very well!

blogIMG_1154
Do you love pretzels as much as I do?

blogIMG_1155
We need these chopped though, so I put them in a baggie and get a potato masher and just take out all my frustration on these poor pretzels.

blogIMG_1156
Add your pretzels with your quick oats and cereal.

blogIMG_1157
And give it a good stir to mix everything around.

blogIMG_1158
Now we create the delicious peanut butter cream.  When  making this unicorns will arrive at your home, sparkles will fall, the clouds will open, rainbows appear.  I’m not kidding. This creates magic.

blogIMG_1162
Take this magical peanut butter mixture and add it to your oats/pretzels/cereal.

blogIMG_1163
Now mix, mix, mix, mix.  Nope, still not done, mix it more.  Make sure every single piece of oat, cereal and pretzel is sticky.  This is going to hold everything together.  Think of it as a glue that you can eat.

blogIMG_1165
Then put it in your pan and pat it down with a spatula so it’s flat.

blogIMG_1166
Add your chocolate chips and push them down too.  You want them inserted in the granola mixture.

Now you throw them in the fridge for 1 hour while walking around anxiously whispering “hurry up, hurry up, hurry up”.  You can even lay in the middle of the floor and whisper this.

blogIMG_1172
And when they’re ready, HOLY MOLY.

blogIMG_1170
Cut them into granola bar sizes, or squares if you’d like.

blogIMG_1174
While cutting the bars I smile nonstop.

blogIMG_1176
I also smile inside because my belly is waiting for this..

blogIMG_1183
The granola bars are firm and hardly crumble at all.

blogIMG_1181
When you flip it upside down you will see there’s good pretzel distribution as well.

blogIMG_1192
These granola bars are hard to just eat one.  I’m warning you.

blogIMG_1684
I wrapped some up and gave to friends.  Friends will have a hard time just eating one at a time.  Warn them!

blogIMG_1408
And then 2 days later I made a double 9×13 batch because I like to live life on the wild side and can’t get enough of these!

Give these granola bars a chance, I think you will love them. 

These Homemade Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are about to become your new favorite breakfast, snack and dessert! This is a healthy copycat recipe for Quaker Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.

For The Love of Pineapple

Do you love pineapple? I do.  Pineapple is beautiful and delicious, the 2 best qualities in food.     I got this gorgeous pineapple from my local grocery store for only $2.50.  It’s enormous! My arms tired carrying it home.

blogIMG_1636

But then after I bring it home, I always fall into the question “What should I do with it?”

blogIMG_1638
So you cut off the top and admire the beauty.  (Note:  We were going to plant the pineapple top but I cut  too high, oops.)

blogIMG_1649
Then you cut it into slices.  Your fingers are sticky, the pineapple aroma is building.  But what are you going to do with it?  

blogIMG_1652
One solution that I usually always fall for is just eating pineapple by the slice.   Nothing else.  Just plain ol great pineapple slices.  

blogIMG_1656
The other solution is cubed pineapple with a little bit of shredded coconut on top.

blogIMG_1662
MMMMM!

blogIMG_1665
For breakfast I like to add some blueberry granola, shredded coconut and dried apples to it.  This breakfast is super filling!

blogIMG_1869
My other favorite pineapple use is blended up. I throw some chunks in the blender with 1/2 half an apple (cut up) and about 1/4 cup of orange juice.  Blend until smooth.  You can even throw some mint on top.  I love this drink for a mid afternoon pick me up!

How do you like to use pineapple?
Anyone have any great pineapple recipes? If so, please share them in the comments, I need ideas!

 

Planting The Tomatoes

About a week and a half ago we transplanted our tomato seedlings to their summertime home, the roof.  Tomatoes for us are the keepers of the garden.  If it’s a good tomato season, then it’s a good garden season.  If there’s tomato issues, then we get sad and cry every single day.    The last few years we’ve had incredible success with the tomatoes, where there is a few weeks in July/August where we are throwing 5-10 pounds of tomatoes in a bowl every single day.  Last year it got so hectic I would sit on the floor, surrounded by my 100 tomatoes just staring at them in panic (and in awe).  With that many tomatoes, I took some time every single day to freeze sauces, diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes and tomato juice.  I would boil, deseed, simmer and bag.  I am proud to say that from the months of July – April we didn’t buy one container of spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, cans of diced or stewed tomatoes.   We just recently finished our last bag of frozen tomato sauce out of the freezer and it was a bit sad (although endearing to see my freezer bottom again).  

With the transplanting of the tomatoes to their containers, the tomatoes truly mark garden season for us.  These guys will hopefully be around until the beginning of Fall, where I will (hopefully) continue to pick them off the vine and throw them straight into my mouth.

Let’s plant some tomatoes!

Here’s how the calendar works with our tomatoes.
March 14tomato seeds are planted inside.  Then they live under a fluorescent bulb setup until they are strong enough to go outside and the weather permits their arrival.
April 19 – the tomatoes are enormous inside.  They are so big they are growing into the light as we can’t make our loft ceiling any taller for them.  It’s been a little too risky to move them directly outside due to the weather temperature changing so sporadically so they are moving under the greenhouse instead…outside but inside.  
blogIMG_0847
Their roots are expanding every single day.
blogIMG_0839
I walk by them every single day, touch them and then enjoy the fresh tomato smell that all tomato growers love.
blogIMG_0843

April 19 – They move into their temporary home, under the greenhouse, where they enjoy steamy days.  Tomatoes love their heat…
blogIMG_0890
blogIMG_0892
Just wanted to note that after taking this picture, I slid on some dirt, fell on the ground, bruising my hip and right leg, while risking my health to save the life of our camera.  “Don’t look at me, I’m so embarrassed” I whispered to Matthew as he rushed to my side.  Then I cried.  “Dont look at me” I mumbled .   

April 25 – THE DAY IS HERE.
Can I get a drum roll?

(Thank you).
THE TOMATOES WILL MOVE INTO THEIR CONTAINERS.

blogIMG_1224
Open up the green house, pull the tomatoes out! Say goodbye to living with the cauliflower and broccoli!

 blogIMG_1265
As you can see by their size and roots, they need a larger space asap! They need room to grow, to stretch out their legs and arms and cute little noses.

blogIMG_1242
Get ready little tomatoes.

blogIMG_1207
We prepared the containers a few days before.  We make them the exact same way as the broccoli and cauliflower containers.

blogIMG_0570
By the way, this is a good time to note our A-clamp collection.  This is less than a quarter of them.  How do we get sponsored by A-clamps?

blogIMG_1241
Get ready.

blogIMG_1266
We rearrange all the tomatoes, putting all varieties together in separate bins.

blogIMG_1279
Hello beautiful(s).

blogIMG_1282
Then one by one we cut holes in the plastic and put the tomatoes in their container.  We plant the tomatoes DEEP.  About half of their stem is already under potting mix in this picture.  This will root them good.

blogIMG_1289
We do this to every single one.  Hello Hybrid Salsa tomatoes.

blogIMG_1290
Hello Aroma tomatoes.  How are these different than Roma tomatoes? Well they have a “A” in front of their name, that’s really all I have so far.

blogIMG_1286
Then there’s two of  my favorites (they’re all my favorite), cherry tomatoes.

blogIMG_1293
And the big beefs!

blogIMG_1269
During this time we plant the green peppers too.  They live well with their tomato friends.

blogIMG_1274
I say it all the time, I know, but green peppers are stress free.  We’ve never had any problem with them.  They just grow big and strong with some water and hugs.

 blogIMG_1294
Then we give every single plant their own cage immediately.  Tomatoes tend to grow pretty quickly and with the wind on the roof, extra support is always helpful. 

blogIMG_1296
All caged up.

blogIMG_1301
All tomatoes got their cage? Yup!

blogIMG_1305
Would you believe we have to put 2 cages on top of each other by the end of the season because they grow that tall?  We start with one then mid season attach another on top. (I squint constantly on the roof,  having blue eyes is rough).  

photo 2.JPG
To give you a idea, see those super tall green guys in the back with the cages sticking out of?  Yeah that’s our monster tomato plants last year.  They grow big.  

blogIMG_1306
And the last step… the tomatoes are planted, they have their cages, but they need a little more protection.  The roof gets super windy, I can’t stress how windy it can get (even when there’s not hurricanes named Sandy knocking us down) so we help the tomatoes stay upright and protected  by wrapping the entire tomato structure with wind blocker fabric.  This is also called row cover fabric.  We buy it in a big bolt and it lasts a long time. 

blogIMG_1309
Then  you hold one side while the other person wraps it around.  This is a 2 person job, especially if it’s windy!  

blogIMG_1311
Then it gets clamped and it stays up.  We will keep this up on windy days, and bring it down on non windy days.  The fabric is light weight so it doesn’t restrict sunlight too much.

May 6 – The tomatoes have transitioned quite nicely to their new home.  The first few days are always hard as you see them slightly struggle to get used to the direct sun all day long and the wind.
WP_20130506_045
But then  you see the new green growth on every single plant and take a sigh of relief.  The tomatoes have moved in and made themselves at home. Grow strong little guys! (Soon to be Mr. Big Guys!)

WP_20130506_037
Looking good peppers!

WP_20130506_039
This post brought to you by a girl who has to stick her head between fabric to take pictures of her beloved tomatoes and peppers.

Are you growing tomatoes this year?  Did you already plant them? What kind are you growing?

Gingerbread Popcorn

We recently got a air popper which is changing our lives.    With a air popper you don’t have to use any butter or oil.  It’s fresh, low calories and each kernel is so puffy and light.   Not to mention it’s so quick to pop.  The product claims you can pop 18 cups in 2.5 minutes – wow!  For now we have stuck to single servings or a bowl for both of us, but because of how quick it works for us, I trust it can do that amount too.  On the calorie side, one big bowl of popcorn for one clocks in at 110 calories plain.  It always fills me!  On our counter now sits a 12 pound jar of popcorn ready for you to scoop and pop!

blogIMG_1918

A few nights ago during the night I whispered to my husband “give me your phone”.  There I sent myself a email that only had a subject line.  The email looked like this:
gingerbread

I knew when I woke up the next morning I would understand it, I needed to make gingerbread popcorn.  But where to start?

I had a few rules:
-Needs to taste like gingerbread
-No butter
-No oil of any kind

The result: A  simple gentle ginger tasting popcorn which was eaten in a few minutes.  I have a bunch of popcorn thoughts in my head so stay tuned for more popcorn recipes!

blogIMG_1956

Gingerbread Popcorn

Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unpopped popcorn
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 single packet of Splenda

Instructions

  1. Use a air popper to pop your corn. Put in a bowl.
  2. Mix ginger, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon and splenda in a bowl.
  3. Mist your popcorn with water 1-2 times.
  4. Sprinkle seasoning mixture over popcorn and toss popcorn around.
  5. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

This recipe is for one serving. Duplicate for as many as you need.
If you'd like to use real sugar or Stevia you can use that instead of Splenda. A packet of Splenda measures a little less than 1/2 teaspoon, so measure accordingly.

 blogIMG_1934
Air popping.. 

blogIMG_1939
Your gingerbread spices..

blogIMG_1942
If you aren’t using oil or butter, the seasoning is not going to stick to your popcorn.  The solution to keep this oil and butter free is to mist your popcorn with a water mister (or a cheap one from the dollar store) 1 times, toss it so the bottom is now the top, mist again.  Misting it 1-2 times will not cause your popcorn to get soft.  The water will allow the seasoning to stick to it, plus it will keep your popcorn low calorie. 

blogIMG_1952
Eat as a afternoon snack..

blogIMG_1958
Or while you’re watching your favorite television show…  The only 2 shows I watch right now is Game of Thrones and Mad Men.  What do you watch?

blogIMG_1959
Enjoy every single piece! (PS.  My nails are supposed to look like this – I’m lying). 

Soho House Berlin Review

I want to move into the Soho House you guys.  Seriously.

We were recently in Berlin where we stayed at the beautiful Soho House.  I could not have picked a better place to fall asleep at after a long flight across the Atlantic.  

The first thing as we walked into the hotel we noticed was how it was decorated for the holidays, simple but yet fun.
photo 2.JPG

There were ping pong tables to the other side so you could have a cup of tea and then get your game on.
photo 4.JPG

 

After we checked in we made our way to our floor and found our room. As soon as we walked in I gasped with happiness.  This was my new home.
photo 3.JPG

Matthew had a great idea which was to just dive into those blankets.
photo 1.JPG

Want to know a funny story?  We wanted to set our alarm on the first day to wake up early and see the city but the bed was that comfortable and we were that tired we slept in until it was dark out the following day. Oooops.  
photo 2.JPG

Between this bed, the bathtub and the robe I basically was never going to get anything else done.
photo 5.JPG

What I loved about the room was how it was decorated with modern but yet classic design in style.  Little things like the stainless steel clock or the beautiful glasses to enjoy a cup of water.  
photo 4.JPG

Do you see what I see too? Zoom in to the right on the dresser.
photo.JPG

Yes, my very own tea kettle filled with the best teas and sugars.  Little things like this really make a hotel special as it feels like home. 
photo 4.JPG
photo 2.JPG

But my absolute favorite part of the hotel – that’s easy. That was the bathroom.  One giant bathtub and a enormous rainshower.  At this point I told Matthew I was moving in.
photo 5.JPG

photo 2.JPG

photo 1.JPG

What would be a review without getting some room service on a lazy cold night?  Matthew got the burger. I got the macaroni and cheese. I might or might not have ate this mac and cheese while lying in the bathtub in pure happiness.   I was seriously obsessed with that tub.
photo 1.JPG

photo 1.JPG

 

We were there in Berlin to celebrate the opening of the Green Box Project where we showed our project AR_Avatars.  This happened right in the bar floor at the Soho Houses and was packed with guests that were having fun.
photo 2.JPG

Hope you guys enjoyed the trip with me – now let’s go back on a group trip!
photo 1.JPG

 

Weekly Round Up

Another week has ended and now it’s May!  Today I was outside with a short sleeve shirt on, it always makes me feel slightly uncomfortable going from winter to  short sleeves. I feel so…unprotected, short sleeve insecurities is what I call it.

This week I’ve had a flux of feelings dealing with life, work, future.  These are some words I tell myself, sometimes they help.
-Everything is going to be ok. Breathe.
-Remember as a kid you thought adults had it all figured out? Turns out adults don’t have it figured out.
-Keep doing what you love. It will pay off.
-Save = Security.
-Hugs can quickly turn a bad day around.  
-Take some time for yourself.  If that means sitting down with a cup of tea and reading a magazine for 20 minutes, then do it.  Everyone needs this time.
-Sleep more.  

In recipes this week I got you covered for Cinco De Mayo. I made:
Cilantro + Lime Basmati Rice
Fried Ice Cream
Tortilla Soup
Crockpot Chipotle Chicken Tacos

In recipes that I saved to hopefully make soon: 
Creamy Shrimp and Rigatoni with Sweet Peas and Peppers
Avocado, Mozzarella, and Jalapeño Chimichurri Grilled Cheese
Sweet Coconut Popcorn
Spaghetti with Pesto Trapanese
Stir Fried Shangai Noodles with Ground Pork and Cabbage
Chili Cheese Dip (plan on making this for Sunday afternoon of watching basketball playoffs)

Garden Update:
This week has  been about general upkeep and starting a regular watering schedule.  The broccoli and cauliflower are finally able to handle a full afternoon of sun as we have been protecting them with fabric.   All the hearty greens such as the kale, sprouts, cabbage, lettuce and spinach have showed large signs of growth!    The radishes I planted a week ago have all started to appear above the soil.  We also planted some herb seeds both in pots on the roof as well as in our loft in a hydroponic system we have.    I will have a few more indepth garden posts next week.. including.. TOMATO PLANTING!

Things I ask you:
What are some things I can make with 2 apples ready to go bad?  It needs to be delicious and easy.
What are your plans for the weekend?

And now I share you with snapshots from the past week:

WP_20130428_00520130428130409
A friend is thinking about starting a garden so he invited us over to get some vegetable advise.  I spotted a few garden flamingos which made my day.  Who doesn’t love garden flamingos?

Here’s some eye candy I spotted around my neighborhood that are true signs that it’s May.
WP_20130502_004

 WP_20130502_003

WP_20130502_001
One of our Rhododendron plants bloomed. I’m in love.  Every single day we go up to the roof I shout out “Look at it!”.

Weekly cat round up:
blogIMG_1901
Essy has been rowdy this week.  Essy is our 19 year old queen of the household.  

blogIMG_1424
Xanadu continues to fight NBA players for the basketball.

blogIMG_1418
Brother Bear continues to just look at me and I melt right away.

Speaking of Brother.. a few days ago I was sitting at  my computer while Brother and FiFi Bofinkles were sleeping nearby.  Suddenly 2 pigeons landed on our air conditioner in the window and started to flap their wings.  Brother and Bofinkles woke up and immediately formed a Private Investigations team where they vowed they would get those pigeons.
WP_20130430_01320130430112210.jpg
“Brother, did you get them yet?”

WP_20130430_01520130430112501.jpg
“Bofinkles, did you get them yet?”

WP_20130430_02020130430112427.jpg
And then both just sat staring out the window, waiting.  The pigeons never came back.

blogIMG_1889
We shook out our comforter cover that had a comforter inside that somehow got a hole in it.  Let’s just say we weren’t expecting a feather apocalypse.

blogIMG_1830
This is a new magazine that I have been following online.  Matthew surprised me by getting me the first issue.    I love it!

WP_20130430_021
Matthew turned 30! 

WP_20130430_025
Is there anything more exciting than watching someone open up presents you got for them?

WP_20130430_052
I commissioned an artist on Etsy to make Matthew these ceramic plates for his birthday.  Jolly and Jolly’s Brother are stuffed snowmen we have that love pizza.   I think I made him cry a little when he opened up this gift…

 

 

blogIMG_1688
I made a few little snack gift bags for a friend who deserved it.

WP_20130501_013.jpg
I started Book 3 of Game of Thrones.  Anyone else crazily obsessed? When Sunday night is over I cry inside because I have to wait an entire week for the next episode.  

WP_20130501_01420130501140908.jpg
My one doctor I go to has a waiting time of about 2 hours after your scheduled appointment time.  It’s brutal waiting, but he’s a great doctor.  Thankfully he has a aquarium full of fish so I just watch them and smile as everyone is creeped out by me in the waiting room.

In food time this week..
blogIMG_1401
I made homemade pumpkin pancakes for breakfast over the weekend.  You can find the ultra delicious recipe here.

blogIMG_1402
Powdered sugar, always a must!

WP_20130430_055
For Matthew’s birthday, I made a slow cooked pot roast, creamy mashed potatoes and biscuits.  I will be posting the recipe for the pot roast and potatoes soon.  This dinner was thoroughly enjoyed!

WP_20130428_007
Do you know about Momofuku Milk Bar? There’s a few locations but there’s one close to me in Brooklyn.  To put it into a few words, it might be the best place in the world.   They are famous for their cereal milk specialties which is exactly what it sounds like.  Ever have a bowl of cereal, finish the cereal but then you have that sweet milk left over that you sip?  Well they sell that in jars! And in soft serve ice cream! And in shake! OMG THE SHAKES.  They have a pretzel cake shake which has pretzels completely ground up so the shake is salty delicious.  It will change your life, I’m not kidding.  I got one. I swooned.  I do it all the time.

WP_20130428_009
One of their other specialties are birthday cake truffle balls which causes me to go weak in the knees.   They are balls of sugary cake. They are the joy of my life.   If you ever visit, get the cake truffles and a pretzel shake,  please please please.  

Have a good weekend!

Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos

FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

We are big taco lovers in this house, but there are only 2 true taco recipes we love.  One is a pepper steak where we cook on the stove, the other is Chicken Chipotle Tacos that are slow cooked for hours causing delicious smells all day long.   I have messed with this recipe over the past few years and it’s now become a family favorite.

FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

This recipe makes a good bit of shredded chicken so it’s easily a few meals for us.  Whatever is  left over, we put into freezer bags and freeze.  Isn’t it the best when you are feeling lazy but can still pull out a amazing homemade meal out of your freezer, defrost it and you’re set?  This recipe I tell ya, it gives and it gives.

These tacos are also a crowd pleaser, perfect for the big game, friends over for Sunday brunch or just a movie night!

FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

Here’s all your ingredients you’ll need for this recipe!
blogIMG_0852


You will need to get some dried ancho chiles.  You can usually find these in the produce section, they come in a plastic bag and cost around $3.
dried ancho peppers from grocery store

blogIMG_0854
You need them soft, so throw them in some boiling water for 15 minutes.  They will soften up right away.

blogIMG_0860

You will also need a small can of chipotle sauce, here’s the brand I use.  You can find this in the mexican food aisle.

blogIMG_0863
Now we want to start to  make the Chipotle marinade.  Add all your ingredients, except the chicken breasts, into the food processor.

blogIMG_0864

blogIMG_0871

blogIMG_0872
Pulse a few times until smooth.

blogIMG_0873
It’s that easy, now your chipotle marinade is done!

Don’t worry about this being too spicy, it’s just perfect!  I promise you!

blogIMG_0876
Grab your breasts.  (Don’t go there)

blogIMG_0878
Use a knife and stab them each a few time, this will help the marinade soak up.


Put your chicken into your slow cooker.

blogIMG_0882
Add your chipotle marinade, smear all over the chicken.

blogIMG_0884
Add 1/2 cup of water.  This will make sure the chicken doesnt dry out.

blogIMG_0885
Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 5 hours.

shredded chicken slow cooker tacos
Now your kitchen is going to be smelling great!  Take a fork and shred up the chicken, you can do this right in the slow cooker, or you can put it on a cutting board. 

Stir it around in the chipotle marinade and dinner is ready! You’re going to love these Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos!

blogIMG_0944

Use hard or soft shells, and fill them up with this delicious chicken! Top with your favorite toppings (tomatoes, lettuce, onions, peppers, cilantro, beans, rice, cheese, avocado… the list goes on!). 

slow cooker shredded chicken tacos

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Side Dishes for Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Cilantro Lime Rice

Fresh Salsa

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Pin for later:
FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos

FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 10

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dried ancho chiles
  • 7 ounce can chipotle sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Soften your ancho chiles by boiling them for 15 minutes in a small saucepan of water. Drain, cut open chiles and remove the seeds.  Throw the seeds away.

  2. Add ancho chiles, chipotle sauce, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic and vegetable oil n a food processor. Puree until smooth.

  3. Use a knife and stab a few holes in each chicken breast.  This will help them soak up the marinade sauce.

  4. Add chicken to slow cooker, then pour chipotle marinade on top. Spread all over chicken. Add 1/2 cup of water. Stir chicken so everything is marinated in the water/sauce. 

  5. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 5 hours.

  6. Use a fork and shred the chicken up in the slow cooker.

  7. Serve on hard or soft shells with whatever toppings you'd like!

  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Whatever is leftover, you can freeze in freezer bags.

Enjoy friends!

Mexican Fried Ice Cream

Two weekends ago Matthew had a craving for a childhood favorite, Chi-Chi’s fried ice cream.  Does everyone remember Chi-Chi’s?  It was a popular Mexican chain restaurant.   In 2004 Chi-Chi’s closed all their restaurants after many incidents, but their salsa can still be found in stores.  As a kid I remember going to Chi-Chi’s quite fondly with my parents,  Matthew’s memories are the same.  One of the best memories of this trip for him was the fried ice cream.  I never had fried ice cream (ever) so I was intrigued by his description of it.  After he linked me to many pictures of the ice cream online with lots of happy faces and love hearts, I got the hint: I had to make him fried ice cream.   Because it was his birthday soon enough, I promised him for his birthday I would have him a fried ice cream sundae.  With a little practice, I think I got it just right.   I asked Matthew to supply a quote of what he thought of it and he told me “magical cinnamon crisp amazingment”.   So let’s make some…

Few things:
Working with ice cream and taking pictures  is not easy.  I felt a little stressed out.
You can serve the ice cream in a bowl, but to get the true authentic feeling try serving in a tortilla bowl – I included directions below for that too.
This post is picture heavy because ice cream is so pretty.
I made this for his birthday dinner, and then the next day made it for a afternoon snack.  Please stop me.

blogIMG_1819

blogIMG_1845

 

Fried Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 ounces vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 cup corn flakes crushed
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for deep frying

Instructions

  1. Mix sugar, cinnamon and crushed corn flakes in bowl.
  2. Scoop 1-to-2 inch ice cream balls and roll ice cream in sugar mixture.
  3. Pat down to shape balls and transfer to wax paper.
  4. Put ice cream balls in freezer. Let in the freezer for at least one hour to set.
  5. Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees.
  6. Take ice cream balls out of the freezer and drop in oil for 2 seconds. Immediately remove.
  7. Serve in tortilla bowl, covered with whip cream, chocolate syrup and a cherry!
  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

To make a tortilla shell bowl:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Microwave 10 inch flour tortilla shells for 15 seconds to get them soft and flexible.
Spray each tortilla with non stick spray on both sides.
Turn cupcake pan upside down and center each tortilla in between 4 cups.
Bake 9-12 minutes - until slightly brown on edges - watch them carefully before they burn.

 blogIMG_1766
Measure your corn flakes out.  Because of this recipe, I’ve come to love corn flakes again.

blogIMG_1769
You want to crush them up into tinier pieces, so I like to put them in a plastic baggy and just pinch them with  my fingers. 

blogIMG_1770
Prepare your cinnamon, sugar, cornflakes mixture. I totally made a mess.

blogIMG_1771
Grab your vanilla ice cream.  Try to get it out of the freezer right when you’re ready to begin.

blogIMG_1772
Scoop 1 to 2 inch balls of ice cream.

blogIMG_1774
Drop into corn flake mixture and roll around.  I like to pat them with my hands to roll into a more “perfect” ball shape.

blogIMG_1775
Throw on your cookie sheet that you have wax paper down on.  Now you have to work quick, time is not on your side.

blogIMG_1777
I made enough ice cream balls for 2 big sundaes.

blogIMG_1778
Ok, they are starting to melt, but one more picture quick.

blogIMG_1781
Ok into the freezer, now let them set for at least 1 hour.

If you have a deep fryer – 350 degrees.
If you don’t have a deep fryer like me, you can totally do this on the stove.  If I had a deep fryer I would make french fries and bbq wings every single day so it’s best I don’t have one.

blogIMG_1827
Grab a thermometer and put it in the pot, I use a candy thermometer as it goes high.  You need to know when the oil is 350 degrees.  If you don’t have a thermometer, throw a piece of corn kernel in the oil and when it pops into popcorn, then you know it’s 350 and ready to go.

blogIMG_1828
Now this takes some time to get this hot. Mine takes about 15-20 minutes of crazily watching the thermometer.

blogIMG_1829
225.. 125 degrees to go.  Please be careful with this, the oil is spitting a bit and is very very very hot.
Once it’s 350 degrees, drop a ice cream ball into the oil for 1-2 seconds.  Yes, that quick!  Do  not do any longer or it will melt.  You literally drop it in, pull it right back out with a spoon.

blogIMG_1833
I like to put them directly on a paper towel to get the excess oil off.  Then you start to build your sundae.  Again you should do this pretty quickly, but the ice cream won’t melt as fast once it’s been fried so you have a little more time.

blogIMG_1835
Throw your fried ice cream balls into your tortilla bowl. 

blogIMG_1841
Spray whip cream on top.  Matthew then took the whip cream canister and squirted more in his mouth.  Boys.  Girls would never do that (ahem).

blogIMG_1843
Oh and Hershey’s chocolate syrup! We got the “Lite” version because obviously we are worried about our figures when are eating fried ice cream with whip cream on top.

blogIMG_1845
Add a cherry! Please do! Add 2 if you’d like! Add 3!

blogIMG_1854
Oh baby, baby, then just spoon it into your mouth.  Just take a minute and enjoy this.

blogIMG_1857
You beautiful ice cream you.

blogIMG_1864
Keep spooning it in.  Crack off some of the tortilla shell, use that as a spoon too.  Go wild. 

To make the tortilla shell bowl, it’s quite easy.  
blogIMG_1715
Grab a 10 inch flour tortilla and lightly spray both sides with cooking spray.

 blogIMG_1716
Grab a cupcake pan and turn it upside down.

blogIMG_1718
Push your tortillas into the cupcake so it touches 4 of the cupcake holders.  Press it down – this is what shape your tortilla bowl will become.

blogIMG_1720
Put it into the oven.  (Omg, my oven is a mess, I know, embarrassed, but  think about how much love it’s received, we spill too much corn meal for pizza).   You want to keep a eye on these, generally mine usually take 12 minutes, so watch yours anywhere from 9-12  minutes.  Once they have a slightly brown edge, they’re done.

blogIMG_1749
When they come out of the oven, you’ll see how they have hardened.  Let them cool so you can touch them.

blogIMG_1758
blogIMG_1759
Pretty cool and easy, right?

Enjoy your fried ice cream! It’s a winner.

Tortilla Soup

I love tortilla soup – love, love love.  
I used to get tortilla soup all the time from a local Mexican restaurant but one day I got some near closing time and it was a big disappointment   It was like they gave me the entire bottom of the pot that was sitting all day long with every ingredient soggy.  I was very upset.  That night I told myself I would match their tortilla soup with my own.  I would set up a table outside their restaurant serving small cups of my own soup and compare it theirs.  The neighborhood would love mine.  They would put me on their shoulders, parading me down the streets while chanting “tortilla soup, tortilla soup!”.  Well one of those things came true, I came up with a tortilla soup recipe that (dare I say) is better than theirs.  *High Fives*

 This soup is delicious.  It’s easy to make with a few canned goods.  It doesn’t take much time, minus some simmering here and there.   Please give this soup a chance.  

 blogIMG_1504

blogIMG_1491

Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 10 oz chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 15 oz can of white hominy
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans rinsed/drained
  • 1 4 oz can of chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 cup yellow corn kernels cooked
  • 2 cubes frozen cilantro or 1/4 cup chopped fresh

Optional for on top

  • Sliced Avocado
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Crushed Tortilla Chips

Instructions

  1. Heat vegetable oil over medium heat.
  2. Saute in minced garlic until slightly brown.
  3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, water, chili powder and oregano. Stir well.
  4. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in hominy, black beans, corn, chile peppers and cilantro. Stir well.
  6. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve into bowls, serve with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices and shredded cheese on
  8. top.
  9. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can turn this into chicken tortilla soup by adding 1/2 pound of boneless chicken breast. Cook it, cut it into small pieces and add in the pot when you add the beans/corn/hominy/peppers.

blogIMG_1434
These are all the ingredients you’ll need.

blogIMG_1435
You might also want some cheddar cheese or a avocado. I would highly recommend this direction.

blogIMG_1440
Start by browning some garlic in a big pot.  Who doesn’t love the smell of garlic cooking?

blogIMG_1441
Once it’s brown, add in your water.

blogIMG_1437
blogIMG_1438
blogIMG_1443
Then your chicken broth.  I showed the steps above because I usually always  make my chicken broth from bouillon cubes.  I find it much cheaper and just as good. 

blogIMG_1439
Open up your crushed tomatoes.  San Marzano is the best in my opinionblogIMG_1445
Then stir into the pot.

blogIMG_1446
Add your oregano.

blogIMG_1447
Then your chili powder.

blogIMG_1449
blogIMG_1450
Stir all your ingredients together, bring to boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.

blogIMG_1453
Start to prepare your other ingredients.  Open up your black beans and rinse  and drain them.

blogIMG_1454
Add your hominy.  Do you love hominy as  much as I do? I eat it by the spoonfuls.

blogIMG_1451blogIMG_1460
Then add your corn.  I use frozen corn and cook it right before.

blogIMG_1464
Then add in your green chiles.

blogIMG_1468
Put all these ingredients into the pot.

blogIMG_1466
Last but not least, get your cilantro.  I usually use the frozen cilantro cubes as I find they work well in soups.  You can use fresh if you’d like.blogIMG_1469
Add your cilantro.

blogIMG_1470
Then stir again and let simmer for 15 more minutes.

blogIMG_1499
When it’s done, spoon into bowls.

blogIMG_1502
The truth is that I always go back for seconds.

blogIMG_1509
You can eat it plain if you’d like, it’s totally delicious that way.

blogIMG_1510
Or you can add some cheese which will melt quickly causing you to fall madly in love.

blogIMG_1507blogIMG_1511
Or you could grab a avocado and add some cubes in too.

blogIMG_1512
This is totally the way I like it.  I love that the soup is hot and will cause the avocado to melt slightly. 

blogIMG_1513
I have been known to eat a entire avocado this way. 

blogIMG_1516
Hope you will try this amazing soup – let me know how it works out for you!

Custom Wrapping Paper Ideas

April 30.  It’s a memorable day. Today it’s especially memorable as it’s April 30 and my boy Matthew is turning 30.  What will happen this decade?  We both have no idea.

I am a birthday fanatic.  I am that person on Facebook who is posting photos of google image search cakes with your name written in icing, I am sending you birthday cards in the mail that have a envelope covered in glitter and stickers,  I am tracking down presents that I desperately hope will make you smile,  I am emailing you videos of me singing happy birthday (totally out of tune), I am making you birthday cupcakes full of funfetti sprinkle love.  I have a entire drawer full of birthday cards, I’m a Etsy birthday card buyer-aholic. I love birthdays!

One thing I love about birthdays is trying to make everything special and custom as possible, including the wrapping paper. I know birthdays aren’t just about birthday presents, but who doesn’t like receiving presents?  Especially when they are prettily wrapped!

 While wrapping all of Matthew’s presents I wanted to come up with ideas that were fun, colorful and semi related to what the contents were inside.  For example, the pizza wrapping paper holds ceramic custom pizza painted dinner plates that I had a artist make for him.   

I find that brown paper works well for wrapping paper.  Around Christmas time I usually make snowman or Christmas light stamps that I mark all over the paper.  It’s just something special that makes that gift recipient know how much you love them.  

The supplies you need are simple: a roll of brown paper, markers, neon crayons, stickers, colorful tape, stickers.  I also have a wild collection of scrap booking paper that I find works great to wrap small gifts (so you only use one piece) or you just tape the scrap booking paper together for larger gifts.  

WP_20130429_006WP_20130429_004

blogIMG_1605
For this one I just taped multiple colors of bright paper together with this Monster tape that I bought last year. 

WP_20130429_008
I found this tape at Target and nearly fainted when I found it. I love monsters!

blogIMG_1602
We love pizza.  Most people know we’re slightly obsessed with pizza.   We’ve been known to throw pizza parties, eat pizza for  many nights every week, do art projects based on our love for pizza.  We even have a pizza costume suit (maybe a picture of that one day).

blogIMG_1601
So because both of these presents have pizza themed gifts inside, the wrapping paper was a must.

blogIMG_1548
Pizza! Pizza!

blogIMG_1594
I was going to draw bright yellow smiley faces all over but at the last second decided to go with neon dots.

blogIMG_1555
Polka dots are one of my favorite patterns, especially big colorful  ones.  

blogIMG_1600

blogIMG_1567
For this one, you might think the gift inside is shaped like the wrapping paper, but it’s  not.  The gift inside is a regular rectangle shape, but I love wrapping up sides to gifts to make it interesting with a handle.  

blogIMG_1581
Happy Birthday to my bones, Matthew!  I remember your birthday 10 years when I wrapped your present in construction paper and duct tape, looks like things haven’t changed that much! Turtle kisses to you.

 

Cilantro Lime Basmati Rice

I could eat cilantro and lime rice by itself for dinner, and I have.  You can also have it as a side dish, especially with tacos.  Or you could make some chicken to put on a flour tortilla and add this rice.  Oh wow, the 3rd idea is really a favorite.  Later this week I will be sharing a marinated chipotle chicken recipe to make in the crockpot, which this rice will go perfect with.  I  love the taste of the sour lime and the kick of cilantro – this is a favorite.  

blogIMG_0959blogIMG_0969

 

Cilantro + Lime Basmati Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 2 cups water

Instructions

  1. Saute rice in vegetable oil for 2 minutes. Add water, bring to a boil.
  2. When water begins to boil, turn the heat to simmer and cover for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn heat off completely, leave lid on, and remove from burner. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Mix together salt and lime juice, you want the salt to dissolve.
  5. Pour salt/lime over rice, mix around. Add cilantro and toss.
  6. Enjoy!

blogIMG_0922
Here’s your ingredients.  When you buy cilantro in the grocery do you immediately smell it in the produce aisle while people stare? I do.

blogIMG_0925
Basmati rice is the best to use in this recipe in my opinion as the rice does not stick together like regular white rice does. Also, basmati has such a special aroma.

blogIMG_0926
Cook in some oil, stir, then add water.

blogIMG_0949
Once done, take off the stove and let sit for 30 minutes covered.   NOTE: Do not peek!  I know it’s tempting.

blogIMG_0948
blogIMG_0951
Cut up your cilantro. I use scissors as I find it easiest.

blogIMG_0952
After the rice is done sitting, take the lid off.  We’re almost done here…

blogIMG_0955
Mix your salt into your lime juice.  Make sure all the salt is dissolved, so keep stirring it until it is.

blogIMG_0956
Then add your lime juice/salt and cilantro to the rice.  Use a fork to mix it all up.

blogIMG_0959
The smell of the lime makes me so happy.   Don’t you love it?  You can have it just like this, a big ol spoonful for a Mexican dinner side dish would be great.

blogIMG_0969
Or put on a burrito with some chicken and pinto beans.  This is magical, it’s a favorite meal of mine. 

Try some cilantro + lime rice soon, I hope you like it.

Looking for more tips? Learn how to store cilantro to make it last for weeks!

Meet Steve’s Plants

Peeking is a ongoing series where I peek into other’s gardens and snoop around.   If you’re in the NYC area and have a garden you’d like to share, please email me.  I’d love to see what you are doing and share your garden story!   For more peeking posts click here

Have you ever been to Ohio?  Have you ever met anyone from Ohio?  If you have then you can probably agree that Ohio is home to some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  I know I might be persuaded as my other half and his family is from Ohio and they are some of my favorite people in the world, but let’s look outside of that.  The amount of times I have said “I’ve never met anyone mean from Ohio!” is high.  I say it at least once a month.  I know, there are probably people from Ohio that aren’t that nice but I haven’t met them!   From the grocery employees in the Sparkle grocery store that I was amazed by their ringing out cheerfulness, to every single person who holds the door for me, to the woman who wrote “his and hers” on our Subway sandwich wrappers, to every single Ohio transplant I’ve met in NYC (there’s alot) – I love you all.  You are all the bee’s knees.  

So what does this have to do with the title of this post? Well nothing, except that my friend Steve is from Ohio and I thought this would be a perfect place to dedicate my love to “The Buckeye” state.

I met Steve from Matthew, they have that Ohio brotherhood thing going on.  I quickly found out by word of mouth and seeing pictures online of his large (and growing) collection of plants.  Knowing that I would fall in love with his plants and want to share them with everyone, I innocently invited myself over in a series of emails I sent to him.  Steve kindly (of course) obliged and let me take some pictures and talk to him about his plants.  

One of Steve’s earliest memories of plants starts in Ohio with a strawberry plant at his family’s house.   From there  he moved to Chicago where the collection truly started, a few at first and eventually growing into handfuls of planted pots that now reside in his Brooklyn apartment that lines all free window space.  Sadly none of his plants have human like names (I volunteered a few but Steve seemed disinterested in this idea), but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love them.  When he showed me around the plants introducing me to them, you could tell how excited he was to talk about them and share their stories of where they came from, how some plants have been split into multiple generations, and up keep.  He told me a story of how he left on vacation once with post-it notes on every single plant that had directions for his roommates to water his plants.  When he came back, everything was fine, except one plant that he left with no post-it note.  Noone seemed to notice how it eventually became brown, begging for water and eventually toppling over.  His heart was broken.  But because he has so much love for his plants, he nursed it back to health and even though it’s not growing vertically straight anymore, it’s healthy and green.  

 So let’s meet Steve’s plants.  At the end I included a little questionnaire that I asked him to fill out and pick his favorites.

 blogIMG_1335
When you walk in you are greeted with so many pots of green.  Steve says his favorite plant is the Jade plant in the middle on the black table, which has since been separated into multiple Jade plants throughout his apartment. 

blogIMG_1322
There is one rack that houses about 20 individual plants.

blogIMG_1380blogIMG_1338

blogIMG_1329
A star of this rack is this plant that hangs over the edge with its beautiful “hair”.  

blogIMG_1327
This is a beautiful hen and chicks plant.  The “hen” is the main plant, and the “chicks” are the offspring.

blogIMG_1333

blogIMG_1328
Who doesn’t need a refreshing spritz of water?

 blogIMG_1387
This here is the Jade plant that I discussed up above that Steve has nursed back to health.  Doesn’t it look great?

blogIMG_1365

blogIMG_1375
These are cuttings of his Moses-in-the-Cradle plant that are rooting.  They will be planted into their own pot very soon.

blogIMG_1361

blogIMG_1317
Steve has a big pot of overflowing basil that any kitchen cook would be uber jealous of.  I smelled this plant about 8 times in my visit.

blogIMG_1340
This is a baby spider plant that he’s transplanting soon.

blogIMG_1330
This purple heart plant has a funny story.  Steve was visiting New Orleans where he came across many of these growing throughout the city but didn’t have the heart to sneak one from someone’s garden so instead he found this one growing near a stop sign, where he pulled it out and the took it back with him to New York.  From New Orleans to Brooklyn…

blogIMG_1323

blogIMG_1358
Now let’s go look at the plants on the other side of the apartment.  Of course there are some plants seated midway as well when you walk through the space.

blogIMG_1343
The other side of the apartment gets slight dimmer light but is great for these big plants here.

blogIMG_1348
This is his Dieffenbachia plant, also known as “dumb cane”.  These are great plants to have if you don’t have alot of sunlight as they do well in shade.    I named him “Big Guy”.  Kids and pets should be kept away from this guy though as it is toxic if ingested.  

blogIMG_1347
This is a Golden Pothos plant that has heart shaped leaves.  These plants can reach up to 7 feet which you can see in this picture it is pretty close to.   Bonus: Golden Pothos is a powerful plant that can improve indoor air quality.

blogIMG_1345
Don’t give up the plants either! I also love the little ornaments decorated in between the plants such as the set of trains on this mantle or the Model T (under the Ohio flag a few pictures up) – all made by his grandfather!

blogIMG_1351
This is another Jade plant that came from the original one in the first picture (his favorite plant).  I love seeing generations – great grandpa, grandpa, papa, son, baby, baby baby.. that’s what I would name them.  

 steves plants
Thanks Steve for taking the time to let me meet your plants and share them with everyone who appreciates brightening your home with green.  It was truly a joyous afternoon to learn all about them.  

 And as a bonus,  I was left in the kitchen alone so I snapped these too:

blogIMG_1370

blogIMG_1368
This wooden duck that his grandpa made holds a recipe to a broccoli and cheddar dish that  I bet is delicious.

 blogIMG_1371

 Thanks again Steve! Hope you all his enjoyed meeting his plants!

Weekly Round Up

I hope everyone had a great week.  For me this week started on the chilly side wearing a hat and a coat to the store, while it ended sitting on the roof in short sleeves basking in the glory of the sun.  Speaking of the sun, I always forget to bring my sunglasses to the roof and then I can’t see for the next few hours.  I have sensitive eyes, you blue eyed people know what I’m talking about.  I bought these super cute sunglasses in Disney World in 2011 that I fell in love with and wore them every minute outside, but last summer they took a fall and cracked in the middle.  In the next few weeks a friend is visiting Disney so I have her on the lookout for them, if she finds them I will cry.

WP_20130426_007
One sure sign of Spring is seeing one of our rhododendron plants opening up.  I love watching it’s slow progress.

WP_20130420_025.jpg
Seeing sidewalks and parks full of blooming flowers is another sign.  Today I walked by the most beautiful display of tulips in front of a apartment building but I forgot to take a picture.

WP_20130426_012
Today we planted potatoes that went bad.  We try this every year and sometimes it works great, sometimes not.  This is our annual experiment.  But besides that, how pretty are these potatoes?

WP_20130426_009
We also are planting radishes for the first time this year.  I buried the seeds today.

WP_20130426_008
Peek-a-boo! The first green bean is breaking it’s way through the soil.

blogIMG_1224
The greenhouse came off the broccoli and cauliflower!

blogIMG_1250
Every year the garden expands a little bit more.  This is the basic layout for this year.  

On the food side this week..
WP_20130420_012.jpg
I had some delicious salted cabbage and pork soup.  This bowl was giant and I regretted eating the entire thing, but at the same I don’t regret it because it was so good.

WP_20130420_003.jpg
M-Shangai in Brooklyn has some of the best soup pork dumplings you will have.   If you are ever in NYC, please go here for lunch or dinner.  You will fall in love!

WP_20130420_010.jpg
A friend got some chicken lo mein.  Their noodles are always so thick here.  I usually get this but with shrimp, it’s also delicious.

WP_20130426_005
For lunch one day I got a slice of pizza from Vinnie’s.  Vinnie’s is known for making crazy and creative  pizza.  They sell everything from BBQ chicken/bacon pizza, Macaroni and cheese pizza, pico de gallo/spicy chicken/tortilla chips pizza, black beans/avocado/feta pizza, eggplant/marinara/ricota pizza.  They sell lots of kinds of pizza!  On this specific day their special is “Greenpoints Finest” and since Greenpoint is the Polish community of Brooklyn it’s cheese and potato pierogie, caramelized onions, cheddar and sour cream pizza.  All 3 friends I was with got this slice but I can’t deal with sour cream so instead I got a garlic/pesto/tomato slice which was super delicious.  

FRIED ICE CREAM!!!!!!!!
Matthew has been begging for fried ice cream the last few weeks.  He ate it at Chi-Chi’s as a child growing up and has been craving it, so I found a copycat recipe and made it.  He loved it. I loved it.  We ate this in about 1 minute.  I plan on making a full post  on this delicious dessert soon.

blogIMG_1089
I made chocolate chip granola bars.  We ate them all.  I’m making more tomorrow.  I’m also making some for friends and am going to wrap them real pretty. 

WP_20130420_02320130420180412.jpg
My beautiful friend Jessie was visiting from Florida so we spent a afternoon eating dumplings, trying on rompers at a vintage store and just gossiping.  I’ve missed her dearly.  She should move back to NYC!

WP_20130424_01020130424004326.jpg
We watched our cats play a game on our iPad.  Eventually Brother scored 100 points and it made a scoring sound and he got so scared he ran away.

WP_20130422_00120130424004253.jpg
I woke up for one minute, came back  to sleep and this is what I saw.  Xanadu already stole my side of the bed. 

#helloplayoffs BROOKLYN!
We went to the first playoff game in Brooklyn as we’re big Nets fans.  We’re season ticket holders for the Nets and the games have been really fun this year but there was amazing playoff energy.  Unfortunately the Nets are currently down 2-1, so hoping they come back so we can go to more games.  I’m not ready for my nightly chocolate/caramel/cheddar popcorn to end.

blogIMG_1202
We’ve had some full moons this this week too. I took this picture during the night half asleep, I was worried I never hit the shutter button. 

blogIMG_1394
Have a great weekend everyone! Pick some flowers from your garden, or buy some from the corner store.  You deserve it!

FiFi Bofinkles Is My Girl

As I’m beginning to write this, FiFi Bofinkles  is at my feet.  She’s circling me, she’s rubbing up against my ankles, every now and then 2 paws appear on my knee caps and she begins to rub them.  Her green eyes meet my blue ones,  I fall in love all over again.

FiFi came to us in 2009 and to say she has stole my heart is a big understatement.  The story of her arrival though wasn’t expected.  

In 2009 we went to a cat show here in New York called “Meet the Breeds”.  It’s basically a show where you can walk around and pet and baby talk every single breed of cat.  For those obsessed with cats, this is basically the greatest day of the year.  There Matthew and I met a white Persian cat named Georgia.  Matthew fell in love.  He took pictures with her, snuggled in her fur, and then on the subway ride home it was all about Georgia.  At that time we “only” had 2 cats, Xanadu and Essy, but were thinking about adding a 3rd.  So we set off on a online journey to visit all the shelters and Craigslist to see if we could find and rescue a Persian cat.  After a few days we came across a Persian named Chloe.  She was beautiful.  We sent a email and a few days later we had a interview to meet Chloe in Brooklyn Heights.  There we met Chloe and hoped we would all get along.  There was another cat there in the apartment that the owners were looking for a home for too, but we didn’t pay much attention to her as our attention was on Chloe.  A few days later we received a disappointing email saying they decided to go with another family for Chloe, someone who was more familiar with the grooming process with Persians.  Then the email went on to say that their other cat, the ordinary one that noone paid much attention to next to Princess Chloe, still needed a home and she seemed to fall in love with Matthew during the visit – did we want to adopt her?  My heart was broken. How could we say no to this innocent kitty?  The next day I was picking FiFi up in a cab with a catnip banana.  FiFi came with her own stroller too – I’m not kidding – but that explains basically everything about her.  The owners told me that FiFi was born in the South, sold in a pet store looking very sickly where her original owner bought her out of worry.  Eventually she moved from the South to New York City.  She’s 100% Southern Belle. 

On the cab ride home she cried, I rubbed her cheeks through the cat carrier.  Then we got home and she was pretty terrified of her new surroundings so she hid under the couch for the next few days.  I was heart broken again, I wanted her to feel safe.  So for the next few days while she hid under the couch, I set up  my work station on the floor in front of the couch.  I worked on my laptop, read, ate lunch on that floor.  FiFi came closer to me everytime I put my hand under the couch to try to talk her out.  Eventually she came out, head first, belly next, finally her entire body.  There she rubbed her head all over my lips again and again and again.  FiFi we learned quickly had alot of love to give.  There the name FiFi Bofinkles was created as it randomly came out of  my mouth.  

Years later – FiFi Bofinkles adopted me to the role of her best friend and protector.   She is everywhere where I am.   If I’m sleeping, she’s on my pillow.  If I’m on my computer, she’s on my desk.  If I’m working out, she’s stretched out in Yoga like positions on my mat, if I’m in the shower, she’s outside of it pawing to get in, if I’m washing dishes she’s on the counter between me and the sink, if I’m trying to entertain a friend she’s on my lap wondering why I’m not paying her full attention.   My FiFi Bofinkles, she’s everywhere.  And no matter where she is, she’s demanding kisses.  I’ve often said we could get her a kissing booth and she would become a billionaire.  She loves kissing.  Everyday she requests somewhere between 600 to 8,000 kisses.  And if you make the first move and kiss her, instinct kicks in and the next hour her head will be planted your lips.  She’s my kissing machine.

She came to us unexpected, and I ended up getting a best friend out of the deal.  I couldn’t imagine my life without this cat.  She cheers me up when I’m sad, she tells me I’m special in her own way, she loves me.   I’m spoiled by such a special girl.

blogIMG_0997

So let’s meet FiFi Bofinkles, she’s quite a character….

blogIMG_1135_1
FiFi Bofinkles, can you wake up?  I want to introduce you to some friends. 

 blogIMG_1146
Yes, you.  Can you wake up?

blogIMG_1144
I’m sorry that I woke you.

blogIMG_1141
No, don’t fall back sleep again.

blogIMG_1145
Ok, Ok, I get it. You are tired.

blogIMG_1143
Ok, go back to sleep….

blogIMG_0980
Let’s try it again.  Can I talk to you for a few minutes?

blogIMG_0981
“Yes?”

blogIMG_0983
Let me put my hand on your head.  No FiFi Bofinkles, don’t fall down and go to sleep again..

blogIMG_0987
Look, if you let me introduce you then we can kiss later.  I thought that would get your attention.

blogIMG_1151
I wanted to show everyone how cuddly you were and how you push yourself under my blanket.

blogIMG_1001
I wanted to show everyone how you jump in my lap, put your paws over my arm, demand my hands as a pillow and fall asleep.

blogIMG_0818
Oh man, I lost your attention again..

blogIMG_0381
I know you aren’t sleeping, you were just awake.

blogIMG_0387
Again, with the yawns..

blogIMG_0831
I wanted to show everyone how cute your little wet pink nose is.  Can I do that?

blogIMG_0835
What do you think?

blogIMG_0380
Ok, itch your head and think about it..

blogIMG_0829
Or fall back asleep.

blogIMG_0379
Thanks for your attention FiFi Bofinkles.

Planting Broccoli + Cauliflower And How To Build Garden Containers

I’m not one to pick favorites in the garden but I will say my heart skips a bit faster when I see a full head of broccoli growing.  Last year we had pretty great success with our broccoli with sizes that I couldn’t even dream of, so this year I’m hoping for the same.  I know, I’m putting pressure on the broccoli, but I’m very supportive too so it works out. 

Last year we had many heads of broccoli, much of when I froze to use in recipes all summer long.   There was a week straight where we were cutting off multiple big heads of broccoli every single day.
Harvested the first broccoli of the year, biggest broccoli we've ever grown! Yay!!
Broccoli – last year.

Cauliflower though, that’s another story.  We’ve never had great success with cauliflower.  In the first few years we grew cauliflower about the size of half dollars.  Then last year, we were growing decent size ones (although still on the smaller size) and both Hurricane Sandy and then a aphid apocalypse hit – both not being kind to the cauliflower.  So this year, if I can be ever so bold I’m hoping for not only big broccoli again, but I’m hoping for some big cauliflower heads too! I’d love to snack on them,  steam them, eat them raw, melt cheese on top, hug them and whisper sweet nothings.  Please cauliflower, please!
WP_20121126_016.jpg
Cauliflower – last year.

So a few weeks ago, on April 6 we transplanted the broccoli and cauliflower seedlings to the roof where they have been living under a green house since.  Doing the containers for these plants really feels like the start of the gardening season because it really is about the garden basics of building the containers, turning soil, planting.  Once the containers are built then they are recycled throughout the rest of the year with other plants depending on the season.  It’s a process that leaves us a bit tired and needing a nap afterwards, but we cant nap because we’re too excited.  

 The rest of this post is very picture heavy with how we prepare the containers, and some progress shots up to yesterday!

WP_20130309_061
The plants don’t get transplanted until the greenhouse is built as they will live under this for a few weeks.  It’s been up and down in the weather here with some nights going below freezing, so it’s very important they have a warm home.   In early March we endured the chilly weather and put the green house up and replaced the plastic.  

blogWP_20130328_018
blogWP_20130328_016
Then all the containers get removed from under the tarps where they sat all winter.  In the last few years we have collected many containers!  Hint: If you’re in a city, look for them outside on the curb on trash nights, it can save you lots of money!  Just make sure they aren’t cracked.

blogWP_20130328_044
Get your muscles ready because this is the hard part.  All the containers need to be emptied so you can flip the potting mix, give it nutrients and set up the pipes.  All of our containers are sub-irrigated so they get watered through a feed tube which them waters the plants from the bottom.  We use 2 types of pipes depending on what we have available, they both work equally well.  In the box above we use corrugated piping.

blogWP_20130328_048
Or you can use PVC piping cut up.  Just make sure you always leave a hole for the watering feed tube.

blogWP_20130328_045
When starting the containers, add a little bit of potting mix at the bottom and add water.  Pat this soil down so it becomes firm with the piping.  This is starting the wicking process which will continue to water your plants throughout the season.

blogWP_20130328_038
Keeping add potting mix to all the containers.  Reminder, if you are using containers, use potting mix!  Potting mix is officially one of my best friends.

blogWP_20130328_043
Add Perlite to all your containers and mix it around with the potting mix.  Perlite allows drainage and access for the water to move around in.  

blogWP_20130328_040
Keeping doing this until all your boxes are filled.

blogWP_20130328_051
Then give them all one last sprinkle of water on top.  You want that potting mix wet (not soaked though).

blogWP_20130328_046
Now you want to give your containers some food for those vegetables to eat later on.  We like this plant food, it’s worked well for us.

blogWP_20130328_047
Just dig into the edges of the box with your gloved hand, sprinkle plant food and then cover it up.  Your plants will love you for this!

blogWP_20130328_050
Now it’s plastic time.  What? Ok, so you built these amazing containers! But you want to keep the moisture IN the containers.  And let me tell you if you are growing on a roof and it’s getting beamed by the sun, you are going to need all the moisture you can get because everything will dry out very quickly.  So we cover every single container up with plastic.  

blogWP_20130328_054
Rip a hole in the plastic for the feed tube, then tape the plastic on.   Make sure you use tape that can endure all weather conditions.

blogWP_20130328_053
Do this for all the containers.  If you have 2 people, that’s best case scenario as one person can hold the plastic while the other one tapes it.  At least once Matthew accidentally tapes my hand to a container.  

blogWP_20130328_059
One more thing before you add your plants – first water your containers.  You want to drill a hole into every single box – this hole should reside at the top of the inside of the pipes.  When the containers are watered, these pipes will fill up with water to the top, touch your soil and continue the wicking process.When water comes out, the plant has enough water.  This way you always know the plant isn’t under or over watered. Now fill up every single box until water comes out of the water drainage hole.  

blogWP_20130328_068
 This box was watered, it’s coming out, so it has enough water.  Note: Move shoe out of the way so foot does not get soaked – ooops.

Now finally – we can transplant the broccoli and cauliflower!

blogWP_20130328_065
These are the broccoli and cauliflower seedlings.  The seeds were planted January 12 and this picture was taken April 6 so they were growing inside for almost 3 months.  There are 24 plants in all – 12 broccoli, 12 cauliflower.

blogWP_20130328_063
Can we talk about how big their roots became in those 3 months?

blogWP_20130328_070
Each container gets 4 plants so we evenly distribute the broccoli to all grow together and the cauliflower to grow together.

blogWP_20130328_075
6 containers x 4 plants = 24 in all.

blogWP_20130328_073
I’m always in awe of the beauty of the seedlings.

blogWP_20130328_072
I love them so much.

blogWP_20130328_079
Then one by one, we make holes in the plastic and the seedling gets transplanted inside.  Pat it down, make it a nice home in that potting mix.

blogWP_20130328_076
I gave this one a nice little pat and told it that I loved it very  much.

blogWP_20130328_078
Every single one was planted.  But it was still March so they needed protection.  The greenhouse goes on…

blogWP_20130328_083
Tip:  It gets cold at night so if you fill up old bottles with water – the water heats up the in the green house, causing the temperature to rise in the greenhouse.  If you ever open your greenhouse during the afternoon and feel one of these bottles you’ll be surprised by how warm it is.  

And then you cover them up, tuck them in and wish them well.  Now the exciting part that causes me high anxiety.. the waiting!
But what I love even more, tracking their progress!

A few days later we see they have transitioned nicely to their new containers.
These were taken April 8 – 2 days after transplanting.
blogIMG_0423
blogIMG_0412

Then a week after transplanting on April 13, we are noticing them grow in size..
blogIMG_0657
blogIMG_0655

Then it really starts to get wild/exciting/makes me want to dance. 
This was taken yesterday – April 22, 16 days after transplanting.
~SWOOOOOOOONS~
blogIMG_1097
Check out that growth! I love you guys.  Every single one of you 24 beautiful plants.  You make my day!

blogIMG_1095
I love you beautiful.

blogIMG_1099
I love every single one of you!

blogIMG_1105
Keep growing big and strong.  You make one girl very happy. 

 

 

Delicious Taco Casserole

My favorite taco casserole recipe! This is one of my family’s favorite dinners!

This recipe is up there in the favorites.  When I first made it, we had it 2 more times that following week. Since then we’ve had it almost once a week.   Even though there’s only 2 of us, we usually finish a entire casserole ourselves.  We really really really really love it.  Who doesn’t like tacos? Who doesn’t like casseroles? Who doesn’t like cheese on top?  It’s like a dream world scenario!

More reasons why this makes me have happy dreams at night:

Taco Casserole Recipe

It’s easy to make.
You can make it early in the day, store it in the fridge and then cook it at night.
It’s pretty – the red and green colors are lovely!
It has cheese on top! Did I mention that already? Sorry.

Feel free to customize it too.  You can add a onion if you’d like.  Maybe throw some crushed chips on top, or some avocado slices.    Just please try this! 

blogIMG_0738

blogIMG_0762


 blogIMG_0710
Here’s all your ingredients.   You might even have everything you need already in your cabinets.

blogIMG_0711
Measure your elbows (the noodles)..

blogIMG_0719
And boil until al dente.

blogIMG_0725
Drain, and set aside.

blogIMG_0715
Chop up your green pepper. If you’d like to add a onion, this would be the time to chop that up too.

blogIMG_0721
Put it in your pan..

blogIMG_0722
Add your ground beef.

 blogIMG_0723
Then mix it all around so everything gets that delicious green pepper taste (and smell!) to it.

blogIMG_0729
After the meat is brown, add your tomato soup.

blogIMG_0730
Then  your diced tomatoes.  In the summertime I will make these fresh but for now the canned version will do.

blogIMG_0731
Then add your beloved packet of taco seasoning.

blogIMG_0733
Mix it all around.  Oh man, the smell, you can’t beat it.

blogIMG_0734
Then add your elbow noodles.

blogIMG_0735
And mix it good so everything is covered in that sauce mixture.

blogIMG_0738
At this time it’s totally ok to test it. You should.  I did.  Even two spoons.  Noone is looking.  We’re all friends here.

blogIMG_0742
Transfer the casserole to a baking dish.

blogIMG_0743
Measure out your cheese.

blogIMG_0746
And spread it on top.   At this time I usually take a big handful of cheese from the bag and eat it too.  Cheese, I love you.

blogIMG_0751
Because I planned on making it that evening, some plastic wrap went on top and into the refrigerator it went. 

When you’re ready to make it..
Pop it into the oven and then enjoy! It’s really that easy!

blogIMG_0761
blogIMG_0762
One cheesy taco casserole will be yours.  All yours! Ok, you probably have to share.  

blogIMG_0764
Serve, make sure you get some of that cheese on top.  If any cheese falls off into the casserole dish, fight for it.  You deserve it.

 

Taco Casserole

My favorite taco casserole recipe! This is one of my family's favorite dinners!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup 8 ounces of elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1 medium sized green pepper chopped
  • 1 10.75 ounce can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 package of taco seasoning mix
  • 3/4 cup shredded taco blend cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, set aside.
  3. In a pan cook ground beef with chopped green peppers until meat is brown.
  4. Mix in tomato soup, diced tomatoes, taco seasoning. Mix real good.
  5. Stir in pasta. Mix real good.
  6. Put mixture into a baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle cheese on top of the entire casserole.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is melted.

Recipe Notes

You can also:
Add a onion (same time you add the green pepper)
Sprinkle crushed up tortilla chips on top
Add avocado slices on top

All About the Greens

There’s been some progress in the garden this week with some of our favorite greens.   There’s broccoli (my loves), cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, onions, spinach and sugar snap peas.  That’s alot of great green!  So here’s a quick  update on some of the plants…

blogIMG_0548
One of the spinach plants needed to be transplanted as it was growing too big inside.  So we took it out to plant it in the sugar snap pea box…

blogIMG_0546
You dig a little hole..

 blogIMG_0550
Shake it out of it’s container it grew in, then put it on the hole you dug.  Then pat it down.

blogIMG_0553
Now it’s all planted!

blogIMG_0771
A few days later and it’s transitioned quite nicely.  Eventually there will be 2 more spinach plants that will join this guy.

blogIMG_0772
Right now though the spinach is surrounded by sugar snap peas.  They all place nice together though.

blogIMG_0400
Speaking of the sugar snap peas.  This was them just a week ago, slowly coming up here or there..

blogIMG_0556
And this is them now.. every single one came up.  We will have to weed them out later this week.

Some other before/afters:

blogIMG_0409
This is the Brussels Sprouts last week.

blogIMG_0774
This is them now!

blogIMG_0405
This is the kale last week..

blogIMG_0778
This is the kale now!

blogIMG_0403
This was the lettuce last week..

blogIMG_0784
This is the lettuce now!

blogIMG_0817
So as you can see, more green is showing up! Check out those onions in the middle, we spotted some mini bulbs growing under the soil today!

blogIMG_0812
We also got the older Rhododendron plant a little brother… 

blogIMG_0813
This one is white and pink in color, I spotted some pink already trying to peek out today.  I love Rhododendrons, I want a entire section in the garden full of them.

blogIMG_0816
So now we just wait and continue to give all the plants sunny Spring days… (hi helicopter)

WP_20130421_00720130421193037.jpg
And water to keep them growing!

I love watching the progress of all our plants, it’s really special to see them so small in this stage and then compare them in a month. I can’t wait!

Cleaning Up The Strawberries

A few days ago it was 70 degrees so I made my way up to the roof with my phone full of music, a banana, a water bottle and a goal to clean up the strawberries.  A banana was eaten, water was drank, I danced to music (sorry to all spectators) and the strawberries were cleaned up.  

Strawberries tend to get in the Spring spirit rather quickly.  In the winter time their leaves turn brown and crisp and they stay like this for the first few weeks of Spring.  You start to worry about them.  It happens every year.  Then suddenly you spot a few green leaves.  Thea a few days later, some more.  A week later, each bucket has green shining from it.   A few days more and you let out a sigh of relief, they are ok.  The strawberries are tough guys, they can take care of themselves for the most part.  They just like to arrive to the party fashionably late, all dressed in beautiful red (Game of Thrones fans, I just thought of Melisandre while writing that, I pictured the strawberries in red flowing robes).  

To get a idea of how quickly they change..

blogIMG_0432
This was taken April 8.
blogIMG_0563
And this one April 13.
blogIMG_0789
And this one April  17.

So as you can see there was alot of new green, but there was also old brown leaves.  And green/brown is too camouflage for the strawberries so I needed to give them a makeover.

blogIMG_0792
These were my beauty tools.

blogIMG_0796
You need to be careful when cutting the old brown leaves and stems as sometimes there is a fresh new stem in there sometimes hiding.  If I cut any green, I would have cried. I thought about it about 24 times while I was cutting.

blogIMG_0797
Look at how pretty that first bucket looks!  Looking good strawberries.  Now a bunch more buckets to go..

blogIMG_0804
These buckets here were full of lots of new green growth so I had to be extra careful and not cut as much off. 

blogIMG_0801
A crate became full of winter leaves…

blogIMG_0791
All to make way for spring beauty!

blogIMG_0798
Looking good strawberries!

Finally, after I had to stretch my  back multiple times and thought I might need a back brace, the strawberries were done and all cleaned up.
blogIMG_0808
blogIMG_0806

 

Now we just wait for the first signs of strawberry flowers… and then the excitement really begins! 

 

Green Bean and Broccoli Casserole

You’re about to become everyone’s favorite at any gathering!

I love green bean casserole.  It reminds me of holidays, friends, smiles.  I also love it because it’s green and beautiful.  A few days ago around midnight, Matthew came into the bedroom where I was reading and asked if we could have green bean casserole “tomorrow”.  I told him we would gather the ingredients the next day.  Then I came to thinking how I made broccoli casserole last year and I loved it so much, so why don’t we mix these beans and brocs and make a delicious green bean and broccoli casserole?  I can’t be happier about how it came out!  In the recipe below I am using frozen vegetables which adds simplicity in the time saving department.

blogIMG_0707

blogIMG_0702

Green Bean and Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients

  • 11 oz frozen green beans
  • 11 oz frozen broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups French's fried onions

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Mix soup, milk and pepper in a baking dish.
  3. Stir in frozen beans, frozen broccoli and 1 cup fried onions. Stir good.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes. (Make sure it's hot inside)
  5. Stir it, then top your remaining 1/2 cup onions on top.
  6. Bake 5 more minutes until your onions are golden brown.
  7. Enjoy!

blogIMG_0678
We are getting down to the nitty gritty with saved frozen vegetables from the garden last year.  I found these guys hiding in the back of the freezer, they are the last bag.  

blogIMG_0682
Here are all your ingredients.

blogIMG_0683
Cream of mushroom soup – I love you.

blogIMG_0685
Does anyone eat cream of mushroom soup by itself? I don’t but I can imagine how good it would be as I always lick the spoon clean after scooping it out.

blogIMG_0686
Then add your milk.

blogIMG_0687
Mix it! Arm workout!

blogIMG_0689
Add pepper and stir again!

blogIMG_0690
Add your frozen beans..

blogIMG_0691
Then your frozen broccoli…

blogIMG_0692
Here are your fried onions.  Truth: I don’t like onions.  I’m really picky about them.  But for some reason I’m 100% fine with these fried onions – how that makes sense, I have no idea.

blogIMG_0693
Sprinkle your onions in..

blogIMG_0694
Then more arm power and keep mixing..

blogIMG_0695
Until you have a creamy beautiful  mixture that looks like that. Into the oven it goes..

blogIMG_0697
Then 40 minutes later, this lovely smelling dish comes out.

blogIMG_0698
We want to add some more onions to crisp the top. This will really make the casserole extra special!

blogIMG_0699
5 more minutes until they’re slightly browned on top.

blogIMG_0700
Oh man, about this time Matthew just happily showed up in the kitchen.  I slapped his hands away.

blogIMG_0703
Many people serve bean/broccoli casserole as a side, but we had it for a man dish with some toasted garlic bread/bread rolls.  There is creaminess residing in the casserole so you want to have some bread to dip in..

blogIMG_0707
Serve away! Just wait for the “ooohs” and “aahhs” and “iloveyous”. 

 

For more information contact Pamela at pamela@pamelareed.com.    |     Privacy Policy