Monday, July 21, 2014

The Good Stuff

Wow. It's been almost a year.

During past year I dove into my first year teaching. I got to spend every day learning with 22 of the cutest munchkins in the world; I love their little minds and how they see the world. Best. job. ever!

Also turns out when people say teachers work wayyy more than 8-3, they aren't kidding. I've never worked harder in my life or been more exhausted. But it was worth it. So worth it.

I've spent the past couple weeks enjoying Summer break, snuggling my kiddos, reflecting on things to change/improve for the upcoming year, reconnecting with friends (hi guys! sorry for being anti-social from August-May!) and cooking.

Cooking. With food. In the kitchen. Some days I get carried away and make breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Because I can. Because it's Summer, yo!

One of my Summer favorites is grilled pizza. I've been making it for years and if you haven't tried it yet, do so. Like tonight.

The other night we had just gotten back from a trip and needed something quick and easy for dinner. Pizza was calling and I was feeling creative so I riffled through my fridge and compiled an assortment of toppings:

Sun-dried tomatoes, gouda, beef summer sausage and mushrooms.

Mozarella, arugula, turkey bacon and greek feta dressing (that stuff is my new favorite!)

Grilled pizza is the best. Be sure and lower the coals/heat because you want the cheese to melt before the bread burns. 


We really liked the bacon and arugula pizza. I can't wait to make it again! 

Go grab some toppings, knead up a batch of pizza dough and light up that grill. It's the perfect Summer-night-on-the-patio-meal.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Making Lunch Classy

Ah, sandwiches. The great lunch standby since the Middle Ages (I looked it up. You're welcome).  

I'm convinced that one of the most important elements of the sandwich is the sauce you use. Plain old mayo is fine, but let's face it, not something that makes anyone get too terribly excited. And since I do especially love to find excitement in my lunch, I thought I would share with y'all a couple of my favorite aioli spreads. 

A good aioli can totally transform a boring sandwich into something truly crave-worthy. And make you feel a little classier when you're brown bagged lunch transforms from "turkey sandwich" to "Roasted turkey with a basil lemon aioli and fresh lettuce on wheat bread." 

If you have fancy shmancy olive oils (such as truffle oil), use those. It'll make the aioli even better. 

To make my basil lemon aioli, I use just a few simple ingredients: mayo (not miracle whip; that's gross), olive oil, basil and a lemon. 

I also love a good zesty sauce on my sandwich so sometimes I use: mayo, olive oil, horseradish, seasoned salt and chili powder. 

I put all the ingredients for each aioli separate small ramekins.

Then just whisk it with a fork. 

Done! Yay for saucy goodness! 

Slather it on your sandwich and enjoy your lunch!

Store any leftover aioli sauce in a sealed container in your fridge for up to two weeks. 


Basil Lemon Aioli

1/4 cup mayo
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil (1 tbsp. if using dried)
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a fork or whisk until well-combined.


Zesty Chili Aioli

1/4 cup mayo
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. horseradish
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a fork or whisk until well-combined.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Chicaaaggooo! Chicago.

Hey there!

The husband and I just got back from a fabulous trip to Chicago, sans kiddos. In the past seven years, we've only traveled without our girls a couple of times and when we did, we were either on a work trip for Khale or going to visit family. So, needless to say, we were pretty darn excited about this trip.

And it didn't disappoint. We had a bit of an issue leaving Denver and had to fly standby which got us to Chicago later than we had planned but we made the most of it and went out to a fun Irish pub before crashing in our suite.

Breakfast on the patio of the suite. I may have made corny jokes about our view being "suite." 

After breakfast we hit up the Art Institute. Khale and I both love a good museum and this was by far our favorite part of the trip (even though he had been there before). There's just something amazing about being a room filled with 15 paintings by the masters, each worth millions of dollars, that is just kind of impossible to top. 

After the museum we had lunch at a fabulous Cuban sandwich shop - Cafecito. Khale got the Jerk sandwich and I ordered the Ropa Viejo. Then we decided we had to share because they were both so so good. 

We also visited the bean. It was cool but kind of a buzz kill after the museum. 

Later that night, we went to Quartino for dinner and tried their duck prosciutto, bread, olives, cavatelli, veal skirt steak and fresh zeppole with dark chocolate for dessert. Along with a few adult beverages. 

So delicious! The fresh pasta, fresh ricotta and zeppole made it spectacular. 

We also visited the Field Museum. Also really cool. Their Egyptian exhibit was my favorite. 

For lunch that day we just grabbed beef hot dogs from the vendors outside the museum. Because it felt like the right thing to do. 

We went and saw a show at Second City (where many comedic greats got their start). I wish it lasted longer than an hour because it was darn hilarious. I about died laughing at a few sketches. 

After the show, we had dinner at the Girl and the Goat. Also known as the highest rated restaurant in Chicago on Yelp. We ate an epic amount of food because we couldn't help but feel the need to try it all: bread with garlic aioli, braised beef tongue, goat empanadas, duck tartare, wood-fired chicken and goat wontons. But y'all, if you ever make it out there, you simply have to get the chicken. It's insane. I'm going to be dreaming about (and trying to recreate) it for a long, long time. 

We also grabbed brunch our last day in Chicago at Sunny Side Up. Best brunch I've ever had - and I like my brunch food! Our server recommended the stuffed french toast and croque madam. So that's what we got (with only a minor substitution of turkey sausage for the ham) with our coffee. 

The only thing I regret is that we were too full to get cronuts from their coffee shop below. I'll have to hunt some down (or make some!) in the near future because I've heard they're delightful. 

Anyhow, that's the recap of our trip! I'll be back later this week with a recipe. :)