Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chicken & Pasta With Broccoli Rabe Pesto


While Jake loves vegetables, my mister is a different story.  I have worked hard over the last 15 years to get him to at least tolerate vegetables, but tolerate is as far as I have gotten.  He comes by it naturally, his dad still won't touch a single vegetable.  Not one to give up easily, I am always looking for ways to make vegetables more appealing to him and to increase the amount I get him to eat.  When this recipe for broccoli rabe pesto popped up in my inbox I knew it would be the perfect way to do just that.  If you aren't familiar with broccoli rabe, also called rapini, it is a leafy green that has little broccoli like florets hidden amongst the leaves.  Sauteed with a little olive oil and garlic it is one of my favorite vegetables.  This pesto just takes that up to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Start out by roasting some garlic.  Roasted garlic is such an easy way to transform the flavor of your dish from ordinary to extraordinary.  On a piece of foil put a few garlic cloves (still in their peel), drizzle with a little olive oil, and crack on some salt and pepper.  You could also do the whole head of garlic and use the extras to just spread on toasted bread. (Mmm, mmm, mmm!)  Wrap the garlic up in the foil and bake at 350 for about half an hour.

While the garlic is transforming itself into sweet, garlic heaven, you can prep your broccoli rabe.  Wash it and then cut off the thick bottom stems.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Once the water it boiling, add a generous pinch of kosher salt and the broccoli rabe to the water.  Cook until it turns bright green, about 30 seconds.



Squeeze out as much of the water as you can, then put the broccoli rabe into your food processor.  Add in some freshly grated Parmesan (I use my favorite Parmesan Romano blend from Trader Joe's), kosher salt, pepper, olive oil, and then squeeze the garlic out of their skins.

Process it all for about 30 seconds, until it is smooth.  Did I mention that this freezes well?  It does, really well.  So, I usually make a double batch.  At this point, I put half of the pesto into a container, top it with press and seal, and then stick on the lid.  The other half I stick in the fridge for dinner that night because I like to make this during nap time.  You can do it all at once, but it is easier for me if I have less to do when Luke is awake.



Speaking of having less to do, one of my favorite dinner shortcuts is rotisserie chicken.  Almost every time I go to Costco I buy a rotisserie chicken.  For $4.99 I get a delicious cooked chicken that usually gives me enough for two dinners.  Josh is my official chicken cutter (I am a little, okay a lot, grossed out by the whole chicken bones and skin thing).  He portions it into a ziploc for the freezer and a container for dinner that week.
When it is time for dinner, cook your favorite pasta according to the instructions on the package.  I like shells because they act like little cups for the pesto to fill.  Before you drain the pasta, reserve a little of the pasta water.  While the pasta is draining in your colander, put the pesto and your cut up rotisserie chicken into the pot to heat up.  Add the pasta back in, stir it all together, and slowly add in the reserved pasta water until you get the consistency you want.
That's it.  You have a complete dinner with pasta, vegetables, and protein all in one delicious pot.  I always serve it with extra Parmesan on top because I can never get enough Parmesan.  This is comfort food you can feel good about serving your family!  The garlicky pesto is so unbelievably tasty.  Volunteer to do the dishes too, then you can lick the spoon, the plate, and everything else to get up every last drop of this broccoli rabe pesto and no one will ever be the wiser.  



Chicken & Pasta with Broccoli Rabe Pesto
Adapted from Josh Laurano

  • 4 cloves garlic (whole and unpeeled)
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus an extra drizzle for the garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and a pinch for the garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch for the garlic
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1/2 a rotisserie chicken cut into bite sized chunks
  1. Lay the garlic cloves on a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a little pepper.  Wrap the garlic up in the foil and cook at 350 for 30 minutes.  Then set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile set a pot of water to boil.  Wash the broccoli rabe and then trim off the thick bottom stems.  When the water boils, add in a generous pinch of kosher salt and the broccoli rabe.  Cook until it turns bright green, about 30 seconds, then remove to a colander and run cold water over it.  Squeeze out as much water as you can.
  3. In a food processor place the drained broccoli rabe, olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1 cup Parmesan.  Squeeze the garlic out of the skins and add it to the food processor.  Process until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  4. Cook pasta according to the package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the water before draining.
  5. Put the pesto and chicken in the pasta pot to warm up.  Add the pasta back in and stir to coat.  Add the pasta water in slowly until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. Serve with extra Parmesan on the side.

I'm linking up with Thrifty Thursday, Pin Junkie, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, Pinworthy Projects, Creativity Unleashed, and Strut Your Stuff Saturday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What I Wore - Little White Dress


One of my favorite style blogs The Mom Edit recently shared a reader style post featuring this dress.  I loved it, and the price was right so I snapped it up.

This is definitely shorter than what I normally wear so it isn't really park or picnic friendly but for going out to lunch with the family or a casual summer date it is perfect.  I have never worn anything with a dropped waist before and I was pleasantly surprised by how perfectly it hides the little tummy I can't seem to get rid of (moms of 2 or more, tell me this will eventually go away).


The henley top makes this nursing friendly and because it has a built in slip layer you don't have to worry about it being see-through.  Add in my new wedges to make me look taller (and my legs look longer) and I was ready to go.  If I wasn't going to be holding Luke I would have paired this with some big earrings to make it even more fun.  Even without accessories, this dress has enough details between the henley, the lace, and the dropped waist to keep it from being boring.  That makes it the perfect little white dress in my book.

Dress - On Sale at 6pm for $27


I'm linking up with Style Elixer, Pleated Poppy, Because Shanna Said So, Shopping My Closet, and Get Your Pretty On.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Snickerdoodle and Cinnamon Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches


Recently I posted this recipe for Super Soft and Puffy Snickerdoodles.  They are by far the best Snickerdoodles I have ever had and as we were eating them I had the brilliant idea to use Josh's new ice cream maker to make ice cream sandwiches out of them.  We looked for a cinnamon ice cream recipe and found that Recipe Girl had just had the same idea and posted some Snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches.  I decided to use the same ice cream recipe she used but kicked up the cinnamon flavor recipe by adding in some cinnamon chips.

These are some seriously delicious Snickerdoodle and Cinnamon Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches.  We brought these over to a friends house for dinner.  I used my Super Soft and Puffy Snickerdoodle recipe to make them in two sizes (big ones for the adults, regular size cookies for the kiddos).

Each component is delicious on it's own, but when you combine the soft, puffy snickerdoodles with the creamy, cinnamon filled ice cream, you are in cinnamon heaven.  They are also easy to put together.

Simply put one cookie face down, top it with a scoop of cinnamon chip ice cream, and finish it off with another snickerdoodle face up.


Then stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours to set.  I found the easiest way to assemble them was to wrap each ice cream sandwich individually in plastic wrap.  This helped the ice cream stay in place while the sandwich sets up.  Then I put them in a large ziploc and we were ready to take them to a friend's house for dinner. 

Snickerdoodle and Cinnamon Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

To make the Cinnamon Chip Ice Cream:
Adapted from Recipe Girl 
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2-3/4 cup cinnamon chips
  1. Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and a little water.  Then put a medium bowl into the ice bath with a strainer set on top of it.
  2. Combine the milk, cream, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until warm, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar
  4. Add half of the warm milk mixture, one ladleful at a time, to the egg yolks whisking steadily to prevent the eggs from curdling.
  5. Add the egg mixture back into the pan with the remainder of the milk mixture.
  6. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5-7 minutes.  Make sure not to let it boil!
  7. Pour it over the strainer into the bowl set in the ice bath.  Stir often until the mixture has come to room temperature.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic into the surface of the custard.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  9. Pour the cooled mixture into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacture's instructions
  10. Transfer the ice cream into a container, sprinkling in the cinnamon chips as you do so.  Then freeze at least 2 hours before assembling your ice cream sandwiches.
To make the Snickerdoodles:
  • 3 3/4 cups flour           
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter           
  • 2 cups sugar                 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla              
  • 3 tlbs. sugar                
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Mix the 3 tbls. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.  
  3. Cream butter and 2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
  4. Add in eggs, milk, and vanilla and beat well. 
  5. Add in dry ingredients and mix well.  
  6. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out dough and then form into balls.  Roll balls in cinnamon/sugar mixture and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper a few inches apart. Flatten slightly. 
  7. Bake 8-9 minutes or until light golden.
To assemble the Ice Cream Sandwiches:
  1. Lay out a square of plastic wrap for each ice cream sandwich.  
  2. Place one cookie, face down, on each piece of plastic wrap. 
  3. Top each cookie with a scoop of ice cream.
  4. Place one more cookie, face up on top of the ice cream.
  5. Gently press down to slightly flatten the ice cream.  Then wrap it up in the plastic wrap and place it on a cookie sheet.
  6. Repeat for each ice cream sandwich and place the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What I Wore - Mint & White

 
So, I finally decided to replace my favorite wedges that I had completely worn out.  I am so glad that I did.  I L-O-V-E love, love these!  They are the perfect way to lengthen my legs and make me look taller, but because they are wedges, they are comfortable and I feel safe wearing them while I hold Luke.

Nothing says summer to me like white.  I am so in love with my white skinnies, but I get nervous wearing them with Luke because, let's face it, babies aren't the neatest eaters around.  I recently had a mom's night out so it was the perfect opportunity to wear them again.  This outfit was just the right combination of casual and cute.


The pairing of mint and white is so light and fresh.  It makes me feel like I am wearing summer.  Can we talk about this t-shirt for a minute?  This is my favorite new tee.  It's the sunwashed v-neck from Loft.  It is soft, comfortable, and drapes well.  The fabric seems a little less casual than a regular tee.  I only have this one, but I sort of want to buy them in every color...

Tee - Loft
Jeans - Charlotte Russe - old



I'm linking up with Pleated Poppy, Get Your Pretty On, Shopping My Closet, Because Shanna Said So, Mix & Match Fashion, Monday Mingle, and Style Elixer.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

DIY - Dining Room Chair Rehab


We have had this dining set for a long time, a really long time.  The chairs are in good shape, but the fabric on the seats was a different story.  Spills happen, if you have young kids, spills happen a lot.  Jake in particular has a special ability to knock over his milk.  As a result, the formerly clean, cream seats of my dining set were covered with stains.  It's been driving me crazy for a long time, but I'm just not willing to buy new furniture while our kids are still young.  There's just no point.  A few months ago, my friend Amy over at So There By Amy recovered her dining chairs and it convinced me that I needed to do the same thing.  I added it to my summer to do list and this past weekend I finally got around to it.

I dragged the boys over to Joann's and found this striped fabric.  I thought a pattern would be better for disguising the inevitable stains (fingers crossed on that) and the colors coordinated with what we already have in our dining and living rooms.   Then it was time to get to work.  I found a great tutorial over at The Chronicles of Home.  

I started out by having Josh unscrew all of the chair bottoms and remove the fabric from one of the chairs so that I could use it to make a pattern.  I was planning on removing the fabric from all of the seats, but they had A LOT of staples.


Those are all from ONE chair!  So, I reevaluated my plan and decided to just leave the original fabric on and cover it up with my new fabric. The chairs had welting (that little piped edge) so I did have to cut that off so there wouldn't be a lump underneath.  I used a box cutter to make a slit and then used my fabric scissors to just cut it off.

Once Josh had pried all of those staples off (love my hubby!) I laid out the old fabric on top of the new fabric and then cut out the new fabric slightly bigger because I wanted extra to hold onto.  Then lay the seat bottom on top of the new fabric (both should be face down).  Make sure if you have a pattern like me that your pattern is straight and is facing the way you want it to.  Now that I'm finished I kind of wish that I had made the stripes facing the opposite direction, but I'm hoping it grows on me.


Now you are ready to staple.  Start by stapling the top and bottom.  Then fold the front corners to be how you want them and staple them down.  Make sure you are pulling the fabric tight as you go and try to smooth out any wrinkles as well as you can.  Once all of the sides are stapled on, trim off any extra fabric if you left a bunch hanging off.   Then screw your seat back onto your chair frame, repeat for the remaining chairs, and you are done.

A little tip for you, if your staples are sticking out, that means that your staples are too long.  Go back to the hardware store and buy shorter ones.  I may have found that out the hard way. 

This wasn't difficult, but I'm not going to lie.  My hand and forearm were sore from all of that stapling.  It only took an afternoon though and it was totally worth it.  I spent less than $20 and took my chairs from this:


to this:



Overall, I'm really happy with how they turned out.  Of course, now I want to go buy some new placemats...






Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What I Wore - Stripes & Skinnies


I recently had a bar mitzvah to attend and since I was going to be at a temple, I wanted to have my shoulders covered.  I was leaving the boys with Josh so I didn't have to be worried about wearing something nursing friendly which made this top a perfect choice.  I've had it for a few years but haven't been able to wear it since the beginning of my pregnancy with Luke.  Even though I tend to shy away from wearing yellow because I don't think it looks good on me, in this top it works.  The yellow stripes aren't too overpowering so I feel like I can pull it off.  I also love the button detailing on the back of the shirt (although these type of details are hidden by my long hair most of the time).


Because the top has more of a boxy shape, I think it looks best with skinny pants.  I love this pair.  They have a side zipper so they leave me with a nice, smooth shape.  No lumps or bumps from pockets or a front zipper.


To finish it off, I'm wearing these great kitten heel, snake print, pointy toe Nine West shoes that I bought at the outlet a while back.  I'm having so much fun rediscovering my closet now that I'm back to my pre-pregnancy size.




I'm linking up with Monday Mingle, Pleated Poppy, Get Your Pretty OnShopping My Closet, Mix & Match Fashion, and Style Elixer.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Vanilla Lemon Shortbread


So, I am a really avid reader.  I love to read!  If my boys are asleep I can easily lose myself in a book and then look up hours later and be mad at myself for staying up so late.  A few years ago one of my friends recommended Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.  If you like historical fiction or love stories, I highly encourage you to pick one up.  Each book is super long and every time a new one comes out I re-read the entire series if that gives you an idea of how much I like these books.   In exciting news Starz has developed a new series based on the books!!!

The official premiere is Saturday, but they showed the first episode a week early On Demand.  We left the kids with our husbands and got together to watch the show.  The series takes place in Scotland so we decided to celebrate with a Scottish potluck.  As you can probably tell by now, my favorite thing to make is dessert so I decided to try my hand at shortbread.

It was my first experience with shortbread but all of the ladies said it was exactly how shortbread should be, buttery, crumbly, and delicious.


If you have a stand mixer, shortbread is super easy to make.  If not, you are in for a little bit of an arm workout.  You start by creaming 2 sticks of butter until it has expanded and lightened and is nice and smooth.  Then you add in sugar and granulated sugar and cream it together for a long time.  You want the sugar to be totally absorbed.

While your mixer is doing the work for you, zest a lemon and sift some flour.  Once the sugar is totally fully incorporated, beat in some vanilla paste and the lemon zest.

Add the sifted flour to the bowl, wrap it in plastic wrap, and turn your mixer on low just until the flour is incorporated.  Give it a final stir to make sure everything is mixed together.

Use a spatula to press the dough into a 9-inch springform pan and sprinkle a little sugar over the top.


Bake at 300 for 50-60 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden.  Place the pan on a cooling rack and immediately use a thin knife to divide the shortbread into wedges.  I made eight, but you could easily make sixteen.  Then take a fork and use it to make a little pattern on the top.  I made lines of dots, but you can do whatever looks nice to you.

Then let the shortbread cool in the pan for half an hour.  Remove the sides of the pan and let it cool the rest of the way on the cooling rack.  When the shortbread is cool, run a spatula underneath the shortbread to ensure it is completely loosened from the pan and then slide it onto your serving plate.


The lemon zest adds the perfect fresh burst of flavor to offset the rich, buttery shortbread.  On top of that I always love the way that vanilla complements buttery treats, and this Vanilla Lemon Shortbread is no exception.  It is the perfect cookie for any occasion!


Vanilla Lemon Shortbread
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Scotch Shortbread

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tbls. for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbls. vanilla paste
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Cream butter in stand mixer for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add in sugars and continue to beat on high until the sugar is fully absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in vanilla paste and lemon zest.
  5. Add in sifted flour and mix on low until just combined.
  6. Press dough into a 9-inch springform pan and sprinkle the 1 tbls. sugar over the top.  Bake 50-60 minutes, or until  the edges are lightly golden.
  7. Place the springform pan on a cooling rack and immediately use a thin knife to cut the shortbread into wedges and use a fork to decorate the top.
  8. Cool in the pan on the cooling rack for 30 minutes.  Then remove the sides of the pan and continue to cool on the cooling rack.
  9. When completely cool, slide a spatula underneath the shortbread to ensure it is loosened from the bottom of the pan and then slide the shortbread onto a serving plate.
I'm linking up with Pin Junkie, Thrifty Thursday, Link Party Palooza, Best Recipes & Projects, Weekend Potluck, Best of the Weekend, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Show Stopper Saturday, Inspiration Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Craftastic Monday, Busy Monday, Munching Monday, Mad Skills, Monday Funday, Lou Lou Girls, Create Link Inspire, Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Wonderfully Creative Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wednesday Whatsits, Pin It Thursday, Create It Thursday, Cook It Craft It Share It, and Showcase Your Talent Thursday.