Monday, March 25, 2013

Quinoa Shrimp Salad

Sometimes we just need something light and colorful for dinner, something that will leave us feeling virtuous and good.  After spending the majority of last week eating cereal and toast (unpacking for 10 hours a day, figuring out where to grocery shop, trying to not embarrass myself in front of our new neighbors, and keeping an eye on Miss Mia in the new house took a lot of energy), I had to whip up a salad come Thursday night.  It was delicious!
This is so, so easy: just a bed of greens, sauteed, seasoned shrimp, lots of beautiful veggies, and some quinoa for extra protein.  Add a dressing made with oil and lime juice.  Wonderful!

Quinoa Shrimp Salad
4 c. mixed greens (you could also just do spinach)
1 tomato, chopped into 1/2-in. cubes
2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
2 scallions, sliced into thick rings
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-in. cubes
1 c. cooked quinoa

Combine everything in a bowl.  Top with shrimp and dressing before serving (recipes below).

Seasoned Shrimp
1/2 tsp. of the following: salt, pepper, paprika/pimenton, cayenne pepper, and garlic
1/4. lb. of peeled shrimp

Combine in a small bowl.  Sautee in a pan over medium heat until opaque throughout.

Lime Dressing
1/4 c. fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1/2 c. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Shake in a mason jar.  Add desired amount to salad.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Haley's Week in Photos

You know how I said last Friday was officially one year until Matt and I got married?  Well, we celebrated by going to our venue and having a pic-nic!  Matt was sweet and came home with some wine, and we had bread and spinach-artichoke dip and pasta salad and sfogliatelle (Italian puff pastries with a sweet ricotta filling).  It was an absolutely perfect day, and it was really nice to get to catch up with each other and have little dream-sessions about our wedding day!

And speaking of weddings, we went to a bridal fair at the South Florida Fairgrounds last weekend.  It wasn't as impressive as I thought it would have been, but we found some good vendors and ideas, so it wasn't a total bust!

The bridal fair was followed by tacos and margaritas at Rocco's Tacos, a really great restaurant and tequila bar down here.  This was St. Patrick's day, so I felt a little guilty for not going all-out Irish for this meal, but I made up for it with dinner...

...which was corned beef, colcannon, and a Magners.  Do you know what colcannon is?  It's smashed potatoes, with bacon and cabbage mixed in, and it is delightful!  I will post the recipe soon, because it's just not fair of me to share.  Also, Magners is a cider from Ireland (although, in Ireland they call it "Bulmers"), and it was basically all that I drank while I studied over there.  It is usually served in a pint glass over ice, but I was too impatient for that!

If we ever eat anything on the couch, Layla supervises very closely, just in case we make a mess that she has to clean up.  She really keeps us in line.

Y'all.  I have discovered red cabbage.  It's not something that we really grew up with, so I never used it, but I needed some for the colcannon, and now I'm wild over it.  Not only is it so incredibly beautiful when you cut it, like some kind of abstract art, but it's pretty tasty, too!

The finished guest room!  It took awhile for us to decide what should art should go where, but I am so happy with the way it has turned out!  You can see my little mirror up over the bed, along with a portrait of an elephant in a suit (thanks, Abbi!), some student artwork that either Mommi or Abbi did eons ago, and a poster of Dinotopia (my favorite book growing up) that Mommi had signed by the illustrator for me!

This artwork, however, has not yet been lucky enough to find a home.  Matt and I are still trying to decide where in our room this will go, so it's doing one of those chic "leaning against the wall" things.

And finally, I will admit that I have a problem, and that problem is rosemary bread.  I know that there are other kinds of breads and herbs that could go together splendidly, but why mess with a good thing?  This is a new recipe that I have tried, to go with a salmon nicoise salad for dinner tonight.  I don't see how we could go wrong!

Abbi's Last Two Weeks in Photos

We have TWO Trader Joe's grocery stores close to our house!!  I was really afraid that we would have to give up our candy cane joe-joes and chocolate coconut 'ice cream,' but no fear.  Our sugar intake levels shall remain high.

Our official move-in date was Monday, March 11, but we were so excited to move in that we camped out starting on Friday, March 8!  That meant paper on the floor, primer on the wall, no furniture except our newly-delivered mattress and the folding table and chairs JP's parents lent us.  We had Mellow Mushroom pizza and salad, no internet, and huge smiles on our faces.  This must be grown-up life.

Other parts of grown-up life include a new washer/dryer that is so fancy and lovely I find myself making excuses to hang out in the laundry room.  Seriously, this is the stuff of day-dreaming.

There have been a lot of gratuitous Mia photos going on lately; she's been really cute while getting used to the new place.  Here she and JP are in the guest room while waiting for the internet to be installed; a very sweet staredown.

 How weird would she look with both of her ears up?!  Like a bat-dog or something.

We went to the lake house last Sunday for lunch, and she got to hang out on a swing with the Diegos.  She is crazy about my father-in-law, mostly because he looks like JP is going to when he grows up; I think she thinks it's future JP.

We also discovered this very high-tech dog park about 15 minutes from the house, which was developed by a large grant from Purina.  There's a small agility course, astro-turf, a fountain that spurts water up to keep the dogs cool (which Mia did NOT like), and a little non-turf park attached for those dogs that prefer au natural space.  Holy bananas, it's pretty amazing.

 Everything is unpacked, though that doesn't mean it's been put away.  Artwork takes a while to find a home on the walls, but it will happen eventually!

We don't have any furniture for the dining room (the island is actually going to act as a changing table in the nursery, so is not a permanent fixture).  I'm thinking of opening a small yoga studio with this hardwood space.

The office is still a work in progress, but is coming together!

On Monday, we went to an ultrasound to find out the sex of the churro!  Everything is moving along perfectly and the baby is healthy; what more could we possibly want to hear?  The nurse wrote down the churro's sex in an envelope for us to open during an elegant lunch at Moe's.

The churro is a BOY!!  Look at that smile; JP is beside himself with excitement.  It's so wonderful to be able to say things like, 'our son,' and 'he.'  We're pretty psyched.

 Here's the official bump photo.  This belly cannot be ignored any longer.

I sent a text to my cousins to fill them in on this new development, and couldn't resist posting Dallas' response.  Who knew being a boy required so much stuff?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Oven Pancakes

Ok, guys.  I didn't take pictures of the process for this recipe, and I can tell you why: it goes by so fast that I don't ever even think to take pictures.  There is no sitting around and waiting for the next step.  There is no down time.  There is no work.  I'm serious, you don't even have to stir things.  

Our mom has been making us oven pancakes since I can remember. They are light, fluffy, and only slightly sweetened with melted butter and confectioner's sugar.  The only catch is that you need a skillet that can go right into the oven, which is why I never made these for Matt until Abbi bought me a cast iron skillet for Christmas.  Score!  Now, I make an oven pancake on Sunday mornings, and Matt inhales it.  Guess he must like it!

1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. Salt
5 tbs. Butter

First, heat the oven to 400 degrees and put the pan in the oven, with nothing in it.  Combine the flour, milk, and eggs in a blender.  Really blend and blend and blend until the mixture is foamy.  
Take the pan out of the oven, and put three tablespoons of the butter in the pan to melt.  
Once it's melted, pour in the mixture from the blender, and put it back in the oven for about 23 minutes.  It will get really fluffy and puff up and be the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.  
Once you take it out of the oven, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, pour it over the whole dang thing, and then dust it with powdered sugar.  

Sometimes, I put sliced bananas on it.  You should, too.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love

Last week, I stopped by my local library to sign up for a card, and couldn't leave empty-handed.  After putting a jillion books on hold (there are a ton of libraries in this system, so items are really spread out), I browsed through the dog book section.  With the busy-ness of unpacking and getting everything together for this house, I needed something that would leave me feeling good and smiling.
Larry Levin's book isn't ground-breaking: a family adopts a dog that was once used as bait in for other dogs in fights.  Oogy, the sweet pup featured above, was adopted by the Levins at about 4 months old when they stopped by their local animal hospital.  He had already undergone extensive surgeries on his mouth and ear, and would need a family who could love him unconditionally despite his somewhat odd appearance.  The Levins, including their adopted twin sons, embraced Oogy as one of their own.  
That's really all there is to this story.  A dog was in need of a family, and this one stepped up to the challenge.  It's sweet (although it is clear that Levin is a lawyer, not an author; be aware of this as you read the somewhat stilted and repetitive narrative), well-intentioned, and the dog doesn't die at the end!  Win-win!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Distressed Gold Frame

I have been working on a salon wall for our guest room, and I have had this awesome gold framed mirror for quite a while.  I have never actually hung this up, because it just didn't really fit anywhere, so I decided to re-paint it to match better!

First, I taped off the mirror (of course).  

And HERE is the neat little trick I found online--put petroleum jelly on the parts that you want to look distressed (any parts that stick out farther than the rest, or areas that would naturally get more wear). 

You can't really see it, but I put a light layer of petroleum jelly on the leaves, and on the corners, and various other places.

Then, spray paint the sucker!  Two coats!

Once it is really really dry (about 6 hours after the second layer of paint), take a paper towel and rub over the spots where you put the petroleum jelly.  The paint will come right off!  This is good, because when you sand some of the paint down, there is a very fine line between the gold paint and the surface underneath.  This will make it easier to have the gold show through the paint you used.

Like this.

I used a  medium-grit sanding sponge to further distress the spots without paint.

Like this.

And this...

The finished product!  I am very happy with this, and that I can finally use it!  Tune back in on Friday to see how the salon wall turns out!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

I'm back, lovelies!  You'll have to excuse my absence last week, although I certainly appreciate the phone calls from my dad and mom making sure everything was okay throughout the lack of postings.  We finally moved in last Monday, and I spent the rest of the week unpacking boxes.  It's all done now, and looking more like a home than just an empty house.  Yay!  There is so much to share on here, so come back on Friday for a full update on the life of Abbi as a new Georgia girl.
Momentous occasions like the last cardboard box being cleared from the kitchen deserve some sort of celebration.  Yesterday morning, our first Sunday in the house with our copious amounts of stuff, I broke out my favorite pancake recipe.  Of course it comes from Joy the Baker, and is light, fluffy, and delicately flavored with lemon sugar.  These lemon poppy seed pancakes are a perfect foil for lots of syrup and a side of melon.  If you're truly celebrating something, you should probably serve these with a mimosa or bellini; alas, I had just a side of orange juice.  Still delicious!

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes from Joy the Baker

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon zest
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 c. buttermilk (in a pinch, combine 1 Tbsp. white vinegar with 1 c. milk, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes.  This will give you 1 c. buttermilk)  
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
Butter or vegetable oil for frying
Maple syrup for serving

1. In a large bowl combine granulated sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with your fingers until sugar is fragrant.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk to combine.  
2. In a separate bowl (or you can use a large liquid measuring cup), whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients. Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine. If a few lumps remain, that’s no problem.
3. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes while the griddle heats.
4. Place a griddle, or a nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add a bit of butter or vegetable oil to the pan. A teaspoon of fat will do for a nonstick saute pan, a bit more fat may be necessary for a griddle. 
5. Dollop batter onto hot pan. For small pancakes, I use about 2 tablespoons for each pancake. For larger pancakes, I use about 1/4 cup of batter. Cook until golden brown on the bottom and and bubbling on top. Flip once and cook until golden brown on each side.
6. Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm (about 150 degrees F) oven until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve. Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Haley's Week in Photos

I'll be honest here, I have not done much this week that warrants a picture.  I made a ton of (delicious) pasta sauce with Nesi, worked, went to Gander Mountain, and did some arts and crafts.  Perhaps I can interest you in a sneak peek of my upcoming Tuesday posts?

I found a very clever trick to making paint look distressed!  More on that next Tuesday, where you will see my ADORABLE re-painted frame and where it now lives.

Matt and I have been searching searching searching for artwork for the walls in our room, and have just not found a thing.  Either the colors don't work, or the piece is too small, or it's way too generic.  Also, I read this silly thing on feng shui about how having depictions of water in your bedroom invites robbery, and the majority of original artwork that you can buy around here is of the beach or the river, and now the whole "water=robbery" thing is stuck in my head.  It's been difficult.  The moral of the story is that I have taken it up on myself to create artwork to go on the wall, and here is an in-progress picture.  Maybe I'll share the finished product next week!  I'm pretty stoked with how they turned out. 

Finally, not to get all mushy or anything, but I get to become this guy's wife exactly one year from today!  Let the countdown begin!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Healthy(er) Breakfast Muffins

I know all of you will agree with me when I say, "That Martha really knows what she's doing".  I mean, she really, really knows.  I got this recipe from her website, and have made them three times in the past two weeks, and one of those batches was a double batch.  The original recipe makes about a dozen muffins, which is just not enough.  

You can find the recipe here, but the way I made it doubled the recipe, and I made some substitutions (as I always do).  Ready?

Here is something you may not know about me: I don't grate.  I got my thumb once, and that was the end of that for the rest of my life.  So, you can, of course, grate up eight carrots and mash two ripe bananas; you could also just run the lot through the food processor with a grater attachment.  

Whisk all of the dry ingredients together.  I didn't have nutmeg, so I used cinnamon, and I only used half the required amount of brown sugar.  My bananas were prettyyyy ripe, so I didn't need that added sweetness.

Now add in the carrots, bananas, oatmeal, eggs, milk, and oil.  I substituted coconut oil for olive oil, and soy milk for real milk, but that's your call.  Oh, and I used dried cranberries rather than raisins. (The first time I made these were for Mommi and Brent, and Mommi does not eat raisins.  I think the cranberries give a good kick to the otherwise sweet muffins.)  Scoop by 1/4 cups into greased muffin tins, and cook at 400 degrees for about 23 minutes.

Hello, Beautifuls.  

I eat these on the way to work in the mornings (because I have a job now), and they keep me good and full until its time for lunch.  I also may have eaten one or two for dessert, but that's neither here nor there.