Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cajun Tri-Tip with Arugula Chimichurri

I don't know what your weather has been like, but it has been hot here.  When it is 100 degrees outside the last thing I want to do is cook.  That is when grilling becomes my best friend.  For one thing, the house doesn't get heated up and more importantly, in this house, the grill is my mister's domain.  That means I get to stay indoors while Josh is cooking over a hot grill.  Win-win!  This meal is also great because it all gets prepped ahead of time.  I am a big fan of meals I can make during naptime right now. 

We are big fans of Morton's Cajun Ribeye in this house but it isn't something we can really afford very often.  Luckily someone gave us the Morton's Steak Bible and it has the recipe for their Cajun seasoning.  If you have a favorite Cajun seasoning you would rather use, go for it.  We make a big batch of this one and then we always have it on hand.  To marinate your tri-tip, press Cajun seasoning into all sides of the tri-tip to cover completely.  I think the easiest way is to spread it out in a shallow dish and then press the meat into it, but go with whatever method works for you.  Pour some vegetable oil into a big zip-top bag then put in the tri-tip and refrigerate it for 8-24 hours.

To make the chimichurri, put about half of a package of arugula in your food processor and pulse until it is finely chopped.  In a large measuring cup combine equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar with a bunch of garlic, some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Stir in the arugula and then set aside.  You want to let this sit for at least an hour so the flavors can combine.  I stuck mine in the fridge since it was several hours until dinner and then pulled it out about 30 minutes before dinner to take the chill off.

When you are ready to eat, remove the tri-tip from the marinade.  Sear each side for about 4 minutes over high heat, then grill over medium heat for about 8-15 minutes, depending on how you like it cooked.  Remove it from the grill and let it rest, covered with foil for about 5 minutes before slicing across the grain.  Spoon chimichurri over the top to serve.  The tri-tip is super flavorful without being spicy and the tang of the chimichurri compliments it perfectly.

Grilled Cajun Tri-tip with Arugula Chimichurri
Adapted from Morton's Cajun Ribeye

For the tri-tip:
  • 3 lb. trimmed tri-tip
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup Cajun Seasoning (this makes about 2 1/2 cups, store the rest in an empty spice container for future use)
    • 1/2 cup paprika
    • 1/2 cup salt
    • 1/3 cup white pepper
    • 1/3 cup garlic powder
    • 1/3 cup onion powder
    • 2 1/2 tbls. dried thyme
    • 2 1/2 tbls. dried oregano
    • 2 1/2 tbls. black pepper
    • 2 1/2 tbls. cayenne pepper
For the chimichurri
  • 3 1/2 oz. arugula (about 3 cups packed)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  1. Coat tri-tip with Cajun seasoning, pressing it into all sides.  Pour vegetable oil into a large zip-top bag, then put in tri-tip and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.
  2. To make the chimichurri, pulse arugula in a food processor until finely chopped.  Whisk together the rest of the ingredients (olive oil through red pepper) then stir in arugula.  Cover and let sit at least 1 hour to let flavors combine.  If longer than an hour, refrigerate and then bring to room temperature before serving.
  3. Remove tri-tip from bag and sear over high heat for 4 minutes on each side.  Reduce to medium heat and continue to grill until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes before slicing across the grain.
  4. To serve, spoon chimichurri over tri-tip.

I'm linking up with Project Stash, Pin It Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Pin Junkie, and Moonlight & Mason Jars, Link Party Palooza, Get Him Fed Friday, Best of the Weekend, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Weekend Potluck, Show Stopper Saturday, Bakerette, Inspiration Monday, Craftastic Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Busy Monday, Lou Lou Girls, Tips & Tricks, Mad Skills, Create Link Inspire, Tasty Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday, Two Cup Tuesday, Wonderfully Creative Wednesday, Made By Me, Whimsy Wednesdays, Wednesday Whatsits, Wake Up Wednesdays.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What I Wore - Day Dress

On my recent trip to Loft I bought three dresses.  The two with back cut-outs I posted here and here, and this little number.  The color is sort of an orangey-red and I tend to shy away from orange but I couldn't resist this one.  It is so comfortable and cute, it gives me shape while camouflaging the area I'm still self-conscious about (my post-baby stomach), and I can nurse in it.  Win-win-win!

I wore this to Jake's Pre-K graduation.  Each class did a little song and dance and then they walked across to get their "diplomas" in their little graduation caps.  It was adorable but also bittersweet because my baby is growing up.  It was also disgustingly hot so I was glad to be wearing something that looked nice but helped me to stay cool.  Summertime means shorts and sundresses and this is the perfect dress to add to your summer wardrobe.

Dress - Loft
Wedges - Charles by Charles David - old

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Quinoa, Beet, & Pistachio Salad

I love beets but they've always been something I've ordered out rather than cooked at home because I didn't want to deal with the hassle or the mess of cooking them myself.  Enter the beauty that is Trader Joe's.  They have these wonderful, ready to eat, peeled and cooked beets.  I love them!  I usually just eat them with goat cheese and salad dressing but I wanted to make a full meal with them.

Recently my mom was out visiting and bought a trio of nut oils.  One of the three was pistachio oil and I've been trying to decide what to do with it.

I finally came up with this Quinoa, Beet, & Pistachio Salad.  It is so, so good!  The quinoa gives protein so it is a complete meal.  Goat cheese is my favorite thing to pair with beets and it works beautifully in this salad.  Adding in some pistachios gives it crunch and some fresh arugula adds a peppery bite.

Start out by making some quinoa.  If you want to keep it vegetarian then cook it with water or vegetable stock.  I had a little bit of chicken stock that needed to get used so I cooked it in that with a few shakes of garlic powder.

While the quinoa cools, cut the beets into bite-sized wedges.  Then start your dressing.  Combine some pistachio oil, red wine vinegar, garlic salt, white pepper, oregano, a little dijon, and a clove of garlic.

Toss the quinoa with the dressing.  Add in the beets, some goat cheese, a few handfuls of arugula, and some pistachios.  Mix it all together and lunch is ready.  Enjoy!

Quinoa, Beet, & Pistachio Salad
  • 2 1/4 cups cooked quinoa (3/4 cup dry quinoa, 1 1/2 cups liquid)
  • 1 8-oz. package peeled & steamed beets
  • 1/4 cup pistachio oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachio pieces
  • 1 to 2 cups arugula
  1. Cut beets into bite sized wedges.
  2. Make dressing: Combine pistachio oil through garlic.
  3. Toss quinoa with dressing.
  4. Add beets, goat cheese, pistachios, and arugula.  Toss until combined. 

I'm linking up with Wonderfully Creative Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Create It Thursday, Project Stash, Pin Junkie, Pin It Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Inspiration Monday, Craftastic Monday, Monday Funday, Busy Monday, Lou Lou Girls, Tips & Tricks, Mad In Crafts, Create Link Inspire, Tasty Tuesday, Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Made By Me, Whimsy Wednesdays, Wednesday Whatsits, and Wake Up Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What I Wore - Navy Maxi

On my recent trip to Loft I was so smitten with the little cut-out on the black and white striped dress I wore last week, that I picked up this navy maxi dress as well.  I've found myself really drawn to navy lately.  It has the classic simplicity of black but is softer somehow.  At least I think it is.

This dress is super comfortable and I love being able to just throw on a dress and some sandals and walk out the door (after I get together all of my baby stuff of course).  It was perfect on Father's Day because I needed to get ready quickly, but I wanted to look nice.  The style of this dress is simple and ladylike from the front, while the back cut-out adds visual interest.

Dress - Loft
Sandals - Target - old 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Balsamic & Bacon Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

A while back I discovered this burger recipe that was topped with Balsamic & Bacon Caramelized Onions.  The burger was good, but the onions were out of this world!  We couldn't get enough. 

I was at Trader Joe's and picked up a block of this Cheddar and Gruyere melange.  It screamed out at me to be made into a grilled cheese and I knew that those onions would be the perfect complement to the strong flavor of the cheese.

Start out by making the onions.  Cut some bacon into small pieces and brown in a large pan.  While the bacon is cooking, slice up a red onion.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and drain off most of the grease from the pan.  Add the onions to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook over medium for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to get soft.

Add in some balsamic, a little dijon mustard, the cooked bacon, and some water.  Leave the pan uncovered and continue to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed (about 3 more minutes).  I highly recommend making a double batch of these onions.  You can freeze them for whenever a craving strikes.  I do!  Then just defrost them in the fridge, or stick them on the counter for an hour or so, and reheat in the microwave.

Once you have your onions ready take a nice crusty bread, I used sourdough, and slice it kind of thick.  You want to use something hearty to hold up to the juicy onions.  This is not the time for soft potato bread.

After you slice your bread, slice enough cheese to cover your bread twice, you will be putting two layers of cheese on each sandwich.

Butter one side of your bread, I actually used a few spritzes of spray butter, and lay it buttered side down in a pan preheated over medium heat and sprayed with cooking spray.  Lay down your cheese slices to cover the bread.

Then use a fork to scoop the onions on top of the cheese (this will help make sure there isn't too much liquid).
Put another layer of cheese on top of the onions. 

Top this all with another slice of bread with the buttered side facing up.  Cover the pan and continue to cook, checking every couple of minutes, until the bottom layer of cheese starts to melt.  Then use a spatula to flip the sandwich.

Cook until the cheese is melted.  Then use a spatula to slide the sandwich onto your plate.  I recommend letting it cool for a couple of minutes before digging in.

The sharp flavor of the cheddar-gruyere, the sweet and tangy flavors from the onions, and the thick crusty buttered bread combine to create grilled cheese nirvana.  Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Balsamic & Bacon Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese
Adapted from Tracy's Culinary Adventures
  • Sourdough or other crusty bread
  • butter or butter spray
  • Cheddar & Gruyere melange
  • Balsamic & Bacon Caramelized Onions
    • 5 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
    • 1 red onion, halved and sliced
    • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1/2 tsp. dijon
To make onions:
  1. Cook bacon over medium heat in a large pan.  When cooked, remove to a paper towel lined plate and pour out all but 1 tbls. of bacon grease from the pan.
  2. Add onions to the pan with the bacon grease and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove cover and stir in balsamic vinegar, water, dijon, and cooked bacon.  Continue to cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
To assemble sandwiches:
  1. Cut sourdough into thick slices and cut enough cheese to cover the bread twice.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Butter one side of the bread and place buttered side down in the pan.
  3. Cover the bread with cheese slices.  Then use a fork to top cheese with Balsamic Bacon Caramelized Onions.  Place another layer of cheese on the onions.  Top it all with another slice of bread, buttered side facing out.
  4. Cover the pan and cook until the bottom layer of cheese starts to melt.  Flip the sandwich and continue to cook until the cheese is melted.  
I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Thrifty Thursday, Pin Junkie, Pin It Thursday, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Show Stopper Saturday, Weekend Potluck, Lou Lou Girls, Tips & Tricks, Mad Skills, Create Link Inspire, Tasty Tuesdays, Two Cup TuesdayMade By Me, Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesdays, Wonderfully Creative Wednesday, White Lights On Wednesday, and Wake Up Wednesdays, Project Stash, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, and Pin It Thursday

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What I Wore - Black & White

Wearing a dress has always been one of my favorite ways to look pulled together with minimal effort but as any nursing mama knows, dresses and nursing don't always go hand in hand.  As the weather has warmed up I have been gazing longingly at my dresses before turning to the other sections of my closet.  As I posted about here, I recently lost the last of my baby weight so I decided to reward myself with a little shopping and try to find a nursing friendly dress.  Luckily for me, Loft had their entire store on sale for 40% off and I had a gift card.

There were a bunch of cute dresses that I had to pass up, but this little number is nursing friendly so it got to come home with me.  I love anything with stripes and the classic pairing of black and white is always high on my list.

As if this sweet little dress wasn't cute enough, turn around and there is a perfect cutout on the back.

I love the visual interest added by the cutout.  It is just the tiniest bit sexy while still being demure enough for a day out with family.  This dress was the perfect addition to my wardrobe.

 Dress - Loft - solid colors on sale for $39.50
Sandals - Target - old 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Warm Lentil & Arugula Salad

It's no secret that I love Trader Joe's.  They have so many wonderful products that make my life easier.  This recipe takes advantage of several of them.

My sister's neighbor gave her this really easy recipe for lentil tacos and while I love it, I think it is actually even better as a simple salad.  Just a few ingredients and you have a healthy and delicious vegetarian meal perfect for when you are short on time.

Start out by heating up a little olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add in a container of TJ's chopped onion, garlic, and shallot mix and saute until the onions are translucent.

Add in a package of pre-cooked lentils and use your spoon to break them up.  Add in some salt and pepper and a little cayenne if you want a bit of a kick.  Stir it every so often until the lentils are warmed through.

Put a bag of arugula into a large serving bowl.  Squeeze on the juice of a lemon, some olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and some shaved parmesan, romano, asiago mix.  Toss this all together.

Add the lentil mixture to the salad mixture, give it a quick toss, and lunch is served.

Warm Lentil & Arugula Salad
  • 1 package onion, garlic, shallot mix
  • 1 package pre-cooked lentils
  • 1 package arugula
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 container shaved parmesan, romano, and asiago
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • cayenne (optional)
  1. Heat 1 tbls. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add in onion, garlic, and shallot mix, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add lentils to onion mixture, breaking them up with a spoon.  Add salt, pepper, and cayenne (optional) to taste.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until warmed through (about 5 minutes).
  3. In a large bowl combine arugula with the juice of the lemon, 2-3 tbls. olive oil, the container of cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss well.
  4. Add lentil mixture to salad mixture.  Toss and serve. 
I'm linking up with Thrifty Thursday, Link Party Palooza, Pin Junkie, Best of the Weekend, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Weekend Potluck, Inspiration Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Craftastic Monday, Busy Monday, Monday Funday, Two Cup Tuesday, Lou Lou Girls, Tips & Tricks, Mad Skills Party, Create Link Inspire, Made By Me, Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Create It Thursday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Project Stash, and Showcase Your Talent Thursday.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DIY Ninja Turtle Onesie & Free Cut File

My nephew had a Ninja Turtle party over the weekend and I wanted to dress the boys in Ninja Turtle gear.  Jake had a couple of shirts to choose from but I didn't have anything for Lucas and I hadn't seen anything in stores either.  Finally, the day before the party I realized I was going to have to make it myself.

Back in October I made this pregnant skeleton shirt using a tutorial from Keeping My Cents.  I decided to use the same basic idea but with Ninja Turtles.  We had this bright green onesie that probably went with something once upon a time but didn't anymore so it became the base of my Ninja Turtle onesie.

To make this Ninja Turtle Onesie (you could also do this on a shirt if you wanted) you will need a green onesie, some freezer paper, black and red fabric paint (or blue, purple, or orange depending on the Ninja Turtle you want to make), a couple of foam brushes, and an iron.

I used my silhouette to create a stencil of the outline of a Ninja Turtle's face as well as the eye mask.  Next I measured the onesie and adjusted the size of the cut file accordingly.  Then I cut a piece of freezer paper to 8 x 8 and cut out the stencil with my silhouette.  Cut the stencil into the two pieces (face outline and eye mask).

Take a piece of freezer paper and iron it onto the inside of your onesie (the shiny side touching the fabric).  Once it is ironed on, flip the onesie right side out, and iron the stencil for the outline of the Ninja Turtle's face on.  Use one of the foam brushes to sponge the black fabric paint into the stencil.  You can wait 4 hours or if you are in a hurry, use a hair dryer to speed the process up.  Once the black is dry, peel off the stencil.

Lay the face mask stencil on top and iron it on (mine was still a tiny bit damp so I put a piece of parchment paper between the shirt and my iron just in case). Use the same process to sponge on the red fabric paint.

Let it dry, then peel off the stencil (you can use the hairdryer again to speed it up).  Let it dry overnight before washing and wearing.

It is super easy and I was thrilled with how well it turned out.  I got a lot of compliments on it and I'm sure you will too.  It is amazing how a little DIY can look so professional!

Ninja Turtle Stencil