shower photos are here

After work I went straight to Panera to grab a quick dinner before marriage mentoring.  I chose their new chili and a lemonade just because I felt like it.  Lemonade is one of my favorite things ever.  I love the association with summer and how crisp and refreshing it is.  And I like to eat it with chocolate chip cookies.  Weird, I know but it might be my favorite snack.

Our marriage mentoring session was really good tonight.

Since the wedding is only a month away – I still can’t believe it – I’m probably going to be writing a lot of wedding related posts in the next few weeks.

Tonight, I wanted to share some pictures that my wonderful, talented cousin, Rebecca, took at my bridal shower a few weeks ago.  I have the best memories of that day.  My aunts did an amazing job of throwing me a fun, thoughtful shower and I loved it so much.  I hope you enjoy the photos!

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

What a great group of women.  I’m lucky to have such a great family.

Who are the most important women in your life?

What’s you favorite memory with family?

peanut butter mini cupcake

We had our weekly marriage mentoring meeting at Starbucks again tonight.  I picked a peanut butter mini cupcake as my treat.  Oh man, was it ever good.

The chocolate cake was moist and dark and that frosting – so peanut buttery but not too rich.  It had a real peanut butter flavor instead of your normal too sweet peanut buttery frosting taste.  And I love the mini size, I can eat it without feeling guilty!  I’m going to have to figure out how to make these at home.  Delish!

What’s you favorite cupcake flavor?

Have you ever made peanut butter frosting?  (If so, recipe please!)

 

hmp: pad thai

So tonight’s dinner, the first dinner of my Homemade Meal Project (HMP for titular purposes) was Pad Thai.  Pad Thai has recently become one of my favorite dishes and I’ve wanted to find a recipe to try at home for ages.  Today was finally the day!

 

I based my Pad Thai on this recipe from Savory Sweet Life:

Pad Thai Recipe
Serves 1-2 ppl.

Pad Thai sauce ingredients:
4 cloves of minced garlic
½ cup of palm sugar
1 ½ tbl. white sugar
1/3 cup of fish sauce
½ cup of tamarind juice concentrate

Pad Thai noodle stir fry ingredients:
Dried rice stick noodles – ¼ of the package
1 egg
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 tbl. of vegetable oil
¼ cup of red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup of mung bean sprouts
1 cup of carrots, match sticks
¼ cup of green onion cut diagonal in ½ inch segments
¼ cup of cilantro
1 ½ cups of either thinly sliced chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or tofu
¼ cup of toasted peanuts chopped.
Lime wedge

Directions:
To make pad thai sauce, heat a small pan on medium low and add fish sauce, palm and white sugar, tamarind concentrate, and garlic. Cook sauce until palm sugar has completely dissolve. At this point, you will want to taste the sauce and tweek the sweetness or hotness (be careful, the sauce will be hot). To make it more spicy add a little Thai chili powder. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before storing it in a jar or plastic container.

To Stir fry the noodles,
Boil noodles for 4-5 minutes and drain immediately rinsing with cold water for a few seconds. Noodles should be slightly firmer than Al dente. But don’t worry, they will continue to soften and cook later when stir frying. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodle clump in half. This will make it easier to fry and eat.

Heat 3 tbls. oil in a wok or frying pan on high and cook raw chicken, pork, beef, tofu or shrimp for 3-4 minutes. Remove meat/tofu/seafood into a small bowl. Next, heat up 3 tbls. of oil and then add garlic and red onions to the hot pan and stir fry for 1 minute stirring the garlic mixture so it will not burn. Add noodles and stir for 1 minute. Add 3-4 tbls. Of Pad Thai sauce continually stirring noodle mixture until well coated with sauce. Add cooked meat/tofu/seafood back and fry for 2-3 minutes. Move the noodle and meat mixture to one side of the pan and crack an egg on the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots, green onions, and sprouts and cook for one more minute frying everything together. Test the firmness of the noodle. If the noodle is too firm, fry for an additional minute. If your noodles need more flavor, add another tbl. of sauce and fry another half minute.  Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with remaining raw carrot match sticks, spouts, cilantro, toasted peanuts, and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!


I made a few tweaks to the recipe, the main one being that I used pre-made sauce.  I had very good intentions of making my own but Meijer didn’t stock any of the ingredients the sauce called for.  WorldFoods Pad Thai Sauce was a great substitution and in the long run, a time saver.

I also used pre-minced garlic which is a real lifesaver.  I hardly ever chop my own garlic since discovering this amazing product.  It saves a ton of time and effort and saves your fingers from smelling of garlic for day.

One other slightly large tweak was that I didn’t use any meat.  I like pad thai with chicken just fine but really love it with just the noodles, veggies and egg.  Such a simple, tasty dish.

Oh and I left out the bean sprouts…ick.

*I don’t love this picture but I’m wearing the awesome birthday apron that Todd for my from Anthropologie.  I love their aprons!  If you’re in the market for an apron, check their’s out.

Matchsticking the carrots was the most time consuming job.  Next time I’m going to search for pre-cut carrots of raid a salad bar somewhere.  But they turned out pretty and add such a great crunch to the dish.

 

Cutting all of those veggies was worth it though.  After chopping, Todd was helping me toast up the peanuts and we had a small dance break.  There’s nothing like cooking and having a mini dance party with the guy you love.

This was also my first time using a wok we received as a wedding gift.  Yes, we decided to go ahead and use some of our wedding gifts before the wedding but only after writing thank you notes.  What’s the point in making a perfectly good wok sit in the box when I’m making pad thai?

Love that wok!  Not even one onion dropped over the side, a definite improvement over our normal skillet cooking.

The pad thai turned out really well.  Next time I might add a little spice to it but other than that, it was magnifico!  I’m glad I finally made time to cook this up at home.

 

My love of food is rivaled only by my love for new clothes.  I’m a girl, I can’t help myself.  A box arrived for me today and it was full of clothes and accessories that I ordered from GAP and Banana Republic.  I somehow contained my excitement until after dinner and can’t wait to try out all of my new goodies!

Not a bad little night so far.  Time for marriage mentoring homework.  Tonight’s topic: conflict resolution, wish me luck!

What are some of the best shortcuts you take when cooking?

Do you usually make recipes as is or change them to your tastes or skill level?

 

no coffee at starbucks

We had tonight’s marriage mentoring session at a Starbucks.  Unlike everyone else, I don’t drink coffee.  I’ve tried.  But I just don’t like it.  Thankfully, Starbucks also carries my favorite beverage, tap water!  I couldn’t order just water so the only other option was to grab one of these tasty little morsels…

Yup, I was excited about my Birthday Cake Pop.

Really excited about it.

And it was really good.  Of course, I can never stop at one treat and my tiny cake-sicle didn’t quite fill me up so Todd and I split a slice of Iced Lemon Pound Cake too.  I promise, wedding diet, I’ll get to you soon.

Our mentoring session went well.  The topic of the day was basically family and we’re both lucky to come from really great families.  Lots of love over the generations and strong relationships that we’ve learned from.  Thanks Mom(s) and Dad(s) for making today’s session easy for us to work through!

The Office, Parks and Rec and 30 Rock are over so time to get off the couch.  I’m going to visit my sister in Chicago tomorrow and I need to go pack.  Oh, and I get to go to Hot Chocolate for dinner tomorrow night.  With a name like that, it has to be good!  Check out the dessert menu, it looks fantastic!  I’m already planning out my meal.  I can’t wait for this weekend, in addition to Hot Chocolate we’re planning on Fly Yoga at i.d. gym, meeting up with my parents who are coming down to celebrate my mom’s birthday (happy, happy!), Greek and Moroccan food and a little shopping for good measure.  Should be a really fun weekend, I can’t wait to get there!

Are you a coffee fan?

What would you suggest for a drink to get a non-coffee drinker to start drinking coffee?

pizza love

As soon as 5:30 hit, I rushed home to take a post-power outage shower.  Oh my goodness, it felt so good to shower that I stayed under the water until the hot water ran out.  After getting fresh and clean, Todd and I headed out to Marinades in Rockford for some wood-fired pizza.

Before I go any further, I think it’s only fair to share with you my deep love for pizza.  I could eat pizza any day of the week.  There have even been weeks when I have eaten pizza every day of the week.  I love pizza in any form – thin crust, thick crust, wood-fired, pizza sandwiches… Mmmm!  Cheesy, saucy, doughy goodness, who could ask for anything more?

Thank you for bearing with me there, now back to the post!

We ordered cheesy bread to start (basically deconstructed pizza, yum!) and then we each order our own pizzas.

Todd and I can’t really order a pizza together, we can go halfsies on a pie – 1/2 pineapple (mine) and 1/2 mushroom and pepperoni (his) – but we can never just agree on one complete pizza.  Of course, this stems from my pickiness.  I’ll spring for the occasional BBQ chicken pizza or pizza margherita and the pizza place at work makes the best Boursin cheese and chicken pizza but my favorites are and will always be simple, pineapple or just plain cheese.  Tonight I was feeling bold and went for half pineapple and half pineapple and bacon.

That pizza was absolutely what I was craving, so tasty.  Pizza was the perfect, comforting way to end this cold, blustery day.

We got home and I quick finished writing the last of my thank you notes for our shower gifts and then Todd and I got to work on our marriage mentoring homework for the week.  This week’s theme is “My Story” talking about our families and where we came from.  Of course this isn’t something that was new for either of us, we both know each other’s families pretty well but our exercises are giving us a chance to look at and talk about these topics in new ways, it’s pretty cool.

Time to do a little work on the wedding and watch Top Chef, what a nice little Wednesday.  See you tomorrow!

What are your go-to pizza toppings?

Any toppings you won’t touch?

bookends

My morning got off to a fun start today.  Todd got up really early to appear on the radio!  That’s right, my fiancé is now a radio star or at least he was today.  The “Mrs.” half of our marriage mentorship couple invited Todd to appear with her on a local public radio show to talk about why he wants to get married.  I woke up a few minutes before 7:00 to make sure I’d catch his whole appearance.  We don’t have a radio in the house (so modern we are!) so I had the webpage for live streaming ready to go before I went to bed but unfortunately it wasn’t working this morning.  I spent about 10 more minutes searching the house for a radio unsuccessfully.  Finally, I opened the door to the garage, rolled down my car window and blasted the radio so I could hear it while I was getting ready.  Not conventional but it worked.  Todd was a natural during the interview and hearing him talk about our relationship and his feelings about marriage was such an uplifting and reassuring way to start my Tuesday.

Unfortunately my work day wasn’t as great, far too stressful BUT it’s over so let’s not dwell on that.  Nothing a good glass of Zinfandel couldn’t fix!

 

You’ll notice not one but two decanters in the background behind the bottle of wine – both gifts from our couples shower on Saturday.  As I said to Todd earlier – no reason “decant” keep both of them!

After work I had a weird craving for a scramble, specifically a sweet potato scramble inspired by my favorite menu item on the dearly departed Bloom‘s brunch menu.  I stopped by Ric’s to pick up some egg whites and a sweet potato.  Strangely, only “yams” were available but after bringing my yam home, cutting it up, cooking and eat it, I’m convinced it was actually a sweet potato not a yam at all.  Making this scramble is so easy and it tastes delicious.

First I diced the yam/sweet potato into small chunks and boiled them.

The I mixed the chunks in with liquid egg whites and cooked them up – easy as pie!  I like to add in a bit of cumin, cinnamon, a touch of ginger and a dash of cayenne pepper so give it a little spice.

 

 

 

While the scramble was cooking I toasted a few slices of fresh bread with a little olive oil and once it was cooked, topped them with the scramble, seasoned with salt and pepper and topped it with some sharp cheddar and Dubliner cheese.  Any cheese will do, that’s just what we had in the house.  I love this easy, fiber and protein-packed meal!

 

I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow on an English muffin for breakfast.

 

Todd and I spent a little time working on our marriage mentoring homework.  This first portion was fairly painless but I know there will be some things coming up that are harder to discuss.  I’m excited to really embark on this process though, I’ve been looking forward to our marriage mentoring for months and I can’t wait to really take this opportunity to get to know Todd better, build our strengths and tackle the issues we struggle with.

 

All in all, my morning and night were great bookends to a mediocre day and I’m grateful for that.

 

Looking forward to shaking my asana at yoga tomorrow night and remembering to breathe during the day.

 

What is your favorite breakfast-for-dinner meal?

How do you like to unwind after a long day at work?