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Search Results for “natalee”

  1. Thursday, May 23

    Could this be the year?

    About every other year I decide I really want to grow tomatoes. And every other year I enthusiastically post a photo of our beautiful little tomato plants. And every other year I report back at the end of the summer that I killed everything. I am cursed.

    anna and the earth box web

    This year is going to be different. I know I’ve said that before, but really, it is! I bit the bullet and invested in two Earth Boxes. My friend Natalee has used them the last few years and has amazing success. The beauty of the Earth Box is that you cannot overwater the plants – they always have just the right amount of water. You can use the boxes forever and you get about 8 growing seasons before you need to replace the soil. The woman at the garden center said she also loves the Earth Box. I really really really think this year is going to be different, folks.

    earth box for tomatoes

    What’s that? Locusts in my backyard destroying my tomato plants? Figures.

  2. Tuesday, December 4

    {Biscotti Week} Chocolate Cherry Biscotti

    Every December I’m on the lookout for a holiday treat to give to friends and teachers. It has to be scalable, delicious AND look cute! It’s a tall order but I believe I have found the perfect special something for this year: biscotti.

    I’m not some big biscotti person. I don’t ever buy it and rarely eat it. I mean, it’s good, but I just don’t think about it much. Last week I made biscotti with friends for the first time and have decided that homemade biscotti is a completely different thing. An amazing, crispy but fresh-tasting and wonderful thing. A thing that I can now add to my “can’t resist eating it” list. Because I really needed to add something else to that list.

    Last week my amazing friend Natalee organized a Christmas craft night. She got four of our friends to each take a station and teach us: wreath making, holiday card display wreath, Christmas glitter ornaments and biscotti. I, of course, signed up to make biscotti. If there’s food involved, I am there! My other friend Erika directed our biscotti making efforts and she did a wonderful job. It was delicious, fun and informative (did you know biscotti bakes twice? I had no idea!). It was such a great night!

    Since I loved all of the biscotti we had that night, I thought I would share the recipes with you this week! Perhaps biscotti will make it to your holiday cookie plate this year, too!

    Today’s recipe is Chocolate Cherry Biscotti, which is adapted from Gourmet and Joy the Baker. It is AWESOME. That is all.

    Chocolate Cherry Biscotti
    Adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook and Joy the Baker
    • - 1⅓ cup dried cherries
    • - 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    • - 1 cup sugar
    • - 2 tablespoons honey
    • - ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • - ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • - ½ teaspoon salt
    • - 3 large eggs
    • - 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • - 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • - 1 large egg beaten with one teaspoon of water, for an egg wash
    • - milk and/or dark chocolate for melting and drizzling
    1. Soak cherries in boiling water to cover in a small bowl until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain, then pat them dry with a paper towel.
    2. Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a large baking sheet, knocking off excess flour.
    3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, vanilla and honey and mix with an electric mixer at medium speed until dough forms. Add cherries and chocolate chips and mix at low speed.
    4. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead several times. Halve dough. Using floured hands, form each half into a slightly flattened 13-by-2-inch log on baking sheet, spacing logs about 3 inches apart. Brush logs with egg wash.
    5. Bake until golden 25 to 30 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes. (Leave oven on.)
    6. Transfer logs to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut diagonally into ½-inch thick slices. (Click here to see a diagram for how to cut biscotti.) Arrange slices, cut side down in one layer on a baking sheet (it’s fine if slices touch each other). Bake, turning once, until golden and crisp, 20-25 minutes. Transfer biscotti to racks to cool.
    7. Once cool, drizzle biscotti with milk chocolate, dark chocolate or both! Let sit until chocolate sets, about an hour.
    8. Please note, Joy's recipe for honey pistachio biscotti says 1½ cups of flour, but you need to use 2½. The original Gourmet recipe calls for 2½ cups and Erika said the first time she made it with less flour and the dough didn't work.


  3. Sunday, August 19

    Week 291 Menu

    On Friday, my friend Natalee had us over so we could do a lemonade stand. Cate looked forward to it all week and was over-the-moon excited when the day actually came. It was one of those magical moments as a parent, watching her live the dream, so to speak. I never did a lemonade stand as a kid, so my 7-year-old self got to live vicariously through Cate. And it was as much fun as I always imagined it would be.

    I seriously can’t believe summer is almost over. Just two more weeks of sleeping in and hitting the pool when we can! And, because it’s summer, I didn’t really get to a lot of items from last week’s menu. We’ll see how this week goes!

    Spinach and Pancetta Stuffed Shells
    – Salad

    – Leftovers

    – Chicken Pot Pie (still have a recipe I want to try)

    – Leftovers

    – Grill night…hot dogs, hamburgers
    – Watermelon, baked beans

    – Eat out

    – Breakfast for dinner, probably waffles

    You know the drill! Please pretty please share your menu for the week!

  4. Friday, May 11

    Thoughts on parenthood…

    The last few weeks have been a little bananas around here. You see, I have this job that I never talk about on the blog {for privacy reasons and because it’s boring} in addition to maintaining my blog, editing DailyBuzz Moms and being a stay-at-home mom. The job I don’t talk about has been eating up a LOT of time lately, all while the rest of my responsibilities have remained the same or been more demanding than usual. I’m not telling you this to garner sympathy. I’m just setting the stage. I’ve basically been a crazy person, unable to get dinner on the table most days and feeling stressed and exhausted all of the time.

    While all of this has been going on, our dear friends Rachel and Will lost their sweet baby boy Charlie due to complications from a rare genetic disorder. After 16 months of challenges, his little body finally decided it was time to rest.

    While I was sitting at Charlie’s funeral two weeks ago, so many thoughts flooded my mind. First and foremost was just how short and precious life is and what amazing parents Rachel and Will have been to Charlie. I also couldn’t help but think of my grandmother.

    She was herself a baby born into this world with complications. It was 1929. Her mother was older and ended up with an infection, necessitating early induction of labor, with the ultimate goal most likely being that of saving the mother’s life. Instead, my grandmother, the premature 3-pound baby, survived. The story goes that my great-grandmother held my grandma in her arms and laughed that she could have had a baby so late in life. She passed away just a few short hours after the birth, leaving my grandmother without a mother. That has forever shaped my grandma and who she has become, a loving mother and grandmother devoted to her family and the well-being of everyone she knows.

    Left: My great-grandparents’ wedding photo. Right: My grandma’s high school graduation photo.

    Here is the crazy part of the story. Will is a doctor. His father was a doctor. His father before him was a doctor, the same doctor who attended to my grandmother’s birth.

    And so, sitting at the funeral of a baby who should have been dealt a better hand, I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother. I am beyond grateful that that tiny premature baby from long-ago rural Idaho survived and that Will’s grandfather was a part of that. And I can’t help but wonder why beautiful, red-headed Charlie had to leave this life so soon. Life is not fair, but it is beautiful. Even though one baby’s life was cut short and another’s grew into adulthood, both lives touched others and made the world a better place. And watching Rachel and Will go through this experience, while beyond heartbreaking, has also been truly beautiful and inspiring. They are choice parents.

    I’ll never forget when Rachel first had Charlie. She and Will are both ivy league-educated, go-getter types doing amazing things. Rachel has a quick mind and a kind heart and I just love everything about her. But when she had Charlie, I gained insight into a whole different aspect of who Rachel is. On one night in particular, Rachel was sitting in my kitchen, cradling newborn Charlie in her arms. She was completely enraptured by him, oblivious to any of us, a smile spread across her face. It was a quiet, beautiful moment that has forever been imprinted in my mind. Motherhood brought out a side of Rachel that I had not seen…at least not at that level. Words can’t truly explain what that ‘side’ is or how it changes a person. It just is.

    So how does this all link back to my over-worked, now seemingly-frivolous schedule? When I am overwhelmed by work, the thing I get most frustrated with is that I don’t get to be the mom I want to be. I simply don’t have time to do all the things with my sweet children that I wish I could. I know in the back of my mind they are fine and happy and that “this too shall pass,” but it doesn’t change the “bummed-outness” that I feel. But then I think of Rachel, Will and Charlie and remind myself I need to savor every moment as much as I can and not let the stress get the better of me because, in the grand scheme of things, none of that stressful stuff really matters.

    As all of these thoughts have been tumbling about in my crazed brain, I’ve been feeling like I want to write them down, but not really knowing what the thoughts were entirely or how they all connected. Then today my friend Natalee sent a link to a a really lovely blog post about motherhood, our expectations and the things that our children are truly needing from us. It made me laugh, it made me think, and it made me tear up a little, too. It was just what I needed right now.

    Here’s the thing. None of us is perfect. Things rarely go as planned and sometimes go where we would never wish them to go. And life is always too short. All we can do is embrace the moments, big and small, that come into our lives, the moments that connect us with others and make it all worthwhile. And if that means we have to eat out again, so be it. At least we’re here, eating together, and that’s all that matters in the end.

  5. Friday, March 23

    Spinach Mushroom Panini with Feta

    Yesterday I shared my friend Natalee’s apple ham panini with you. Now it’s time to talk about the second panini flavor she shared with me, which was equally delicious.

    Enter the spinach mushroom panini with feta. This is a nice vegetarian option that is full of flavor. There’s a little prep work involved, but it’s still easy, I promise! And the flavors are all just so yummy together. Mmmmmm. Natalee made these paninis for our friend Ana, who is a total foodie. Ana said it was the best panini she ever had. Now that I’ve set your expectations really high…whoops…here is the recipe!

    Spinach Mushroom Panini with Feta
    From my friend Natalee
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Panini
    • around 2 tablespoons of olive oil
    • Sliced mushrooms (8 or 10 ounce package)
    • Small bag of spinach (6-10 ounces or so)
    • Crumbled feta cheese
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Sliced bread of your choice
    1. Sautee the mushrooms in olive oil in a large sautee pan, until moisture is released and mushrooms are cooked through. Add spinach, tearing up the leaves a bit as you add them to the pan (if you feel like you need another swig of olive oil added to the pan, go ahead and add it). Cook until spinach has wilted, then add feta to taste – we found adding a lot of feta was better. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir.
    2. Use mushroom mixture as filling for the panini and cook paninis as you normally do, in a press or with two frying pans.


  6. Thursday, March 22

    Apple Ham Paninis

    I really love paninis. I’m always a sucker for a hot sandwich, plus paninis make for a quick and easy dinner on busy weeknights. And my kids {almost} always eat them! My friend Natalee was raving about two panini combinations she discovered recently, so of course I had to give them a try. I’ll share one of them with you today and the second one tomorrow!

    Today’s is simple and delicious. Ham and havarti cheese combined with the sweet-yet-tart crunch of granny smith apples is delish. And this panini really, truly is fast and simple to prepare. That’s my favorite kind of recipe!

    Apple Ham Paninis
    Sweet and tart apple ham paninis!
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Sandwich
    Cuisine: American
    • Sliced sourdough bread (I didn’t have sourdough, I used sliced wheat country bread)
    • Whole-grain mustard
    • Deli-sliced ham
    • Havarti cheese
    • Thinly-sliced granny smith apples
    1. Spread mustard on two slices of bread. Stack the cheese, ham and apples between the slices, then cook in a panini press. If you don’t have a panini press, just do what I do and smush the sandwich between two frying pans (click here for details). Eat and enjoy!


  7. Friday, September 9

    Little Man Baby Shower…and DELICIOUS Recipes

    On Tuesday night my friends threw me a baby shower. Even though I told them not to. Because it’s my third child. But they insisted. Because we’re having a boy and we need boy things (which is true). And because they are great friends. And, I must admit, I’m so happy I gave into their shower entreaties. The party was beyond adorable, the food was amazing, and, most importantly, I got to spend an evening with a beautiful group of women I am so grateful to know and count as friends.

    But enough with the sappy stuff. I have to show you how ridiculously cute this shower was. I actually don’t have tons of pictures because it was dark, so they do not convey the total cuteness that was the shower. But believe me, everything looked fabulous.

    There were moustaches and bow ties all over the place.

    And the food. Ah, the food. Again, no great photos, but believe me when I tell you it was all beautiful and tasted even better than it looked.

    The inspiration for the Little Man Shower came from this blog post on ReMarkable Home. (If you click through, you can get the templates for everything and see how to put it all together!) Our friend Courtney discovered the post and shared it with my friend Natalee, who spearheaded my shower. Courtney is good at finding great stuff online. The girl has 53 boards on Pinterest, for Pete’s sake.

    Thank you to my wonderful friends Wendy, Amy, Mindy, Sarah, Natalee and Ana (and Angie, not pictured, who did the flowers). You ladies orchestrated an evening I will never forget and helped welcome Baby Boy Maynard into the world with style!

    Click more to see some fabulous recipes from the shower!

    (>> Find out more…)

  8. Friday, July 22

    Tomato Talk

    The first time I planted tomatoes, the plants died. I’m 99.9999% sure the soil in our garden plot was diseased, so I don’t blame myself entirely. But it still felt like a big failure.

    This year I decided to give tomato growing another go. I had several friends tell me they had great success growing tomato plants in pots, so I decided that would be our approach this time. And, so far, so good. No diseased soil. My plants are staked and growing upward. I’ve fertilized every 7-10 days. I’ve taken care of the suckers. And we’ve actually gotten some tomatoes this year (they sure were yummy in the watermelon salad). Woo-hoo!

    But then…then…last week, I went to my friend Natalee’s house for dinner and saw THIS on her back porch.

    Just to give some perspective, this is my pot of tomatoes compared to Natalee’s.

    Left: My ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ tomato plant. Well-loved, but seriously more of a novelty at this point. Right: Natalee’s organic behemoth of a tomato plant.

    Both of our planters only have two tomato plants planted. And they get the same exact sun exposure. And yet, it’s downright stunning how different our plants are. I asked Natalee what in the world she did. She and I are at about the same level of tomato growing expertise, so her bounteous plants give me hope that one day I will be able to to grow decent tomatoes.

    • She used an EarthBox garden kit. Natalee swears by this system. It basically allows you to water your plants perfectly and you can grow all kinds of vegetables in them. Natalee bought her EarthBox planters at one of our local nurseries, but you can also buy them online, and you can use them year after year.
    • She used a soil that the local nursery recommended highly for growing tomatoes. Apparently that soil has a little pixie dust mixed in because seriously, look at those plants!

    That is ALL she did differently than me. The pot was a little different and the soil was tailored for tomato growing. When I first saw the plants, she hadn’t even fertilized them yet, if you can believe it! She’s still planning to fertilize, of course, but, yeah, whatever. Her tomato plants are still knocking my socks off.

    Maybe next year I’ll actually get tomato-growing all figured out!

    Calling all green thumbs! If you actually know what you are doing with tomato plants, please share your tips!

  9. Sunday, July 17

    Week 234 Menu

    Our tomato plant is beginning its harvest! We’ve eaten a few and the flavor is, I don’t know, full and wonderful. Truly nothing beats a fresh, vine-ripened tomato. I’m planning to do a tomato plant post later this week, comparing my plant with my friend Natalee’s plants and talk about why they are so different. It’s kind of shocking how different they are, actually. But more on that later…

    Menu time already? Unreal. This summer is flying by.

    – Mac & Cheese for the girls, with lots of fresh, sauteed summer squash
    – Hot dogs and Cracker Jack…Nate and I are going to a Giants game!

    – Fajitas

    – Chicken Caesar Salad with homemade croutons

    – Cider BBQ Chicken (from Dream Dinners)
    – Corn on the cob and fresh berries

    – Nate and the girls fly off to Cape Cod, leaving me to my own devices for a week!Mushroom Soup from Dra
    – Mushroom soup from Draegers

    – I’m not planning anything…I’m just going to see what I feel like and go from there because, you know, I only have to cook for myself – woohoo!

    Waffles and fruit

    Your turn! Please share your menu for the week, in whatever form fits your style! I was happy to see you all come back last weekend after taking a break for 4th of July…keep the menu awesomeness coming!

  10. Thursday, December 30

    Smoked Pulled Pork from Costco

    In the spirit of holiday vacation laziness, today I’m going to share a recipe shortcut I discovered this week, thanks to my friend Natalee.

    We were talking about how I had a hankering for pulled pork, hence its appearance on my menu. She said, “Have you tried the already cooked pulled pork from Costco that you add your own sauce to?” (She definitely used better grammar than that.) I said, “No.” She said, “You have to!” So I followed directions and picked it up at Costco the very next day.

    I rarely purchase prepared dinner food. This isn’t even that prepared, mind you. I believe the only ingredients are pork, water, and seasonings. ANYWAY…I cooked it per the package instructions and used the sauce from my favorite BBQ Pulled Pork recipe. Gotta say, Natalee was right. The meat is mighty fine with a just-right-smoky, savory flavor that balances very nicely with my semi-sweet, just-right-spicy sauce. Oh, and it was super tender and juicy and costs about the same as buying the pork uncooked.

    Quick note on the sauce – I followed the ingredients from this recipe, but sauteed the onions in a large pot until they were soft, then added all the other ingredients and simmered with the meat for about 15 minutes, to let the flavors mingle. Worked like a charm.

    We’re planning on some fun family time over the next few days, so I’ll see you Sunday with your first menu for 2011! Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and Day!