Last week, the Iowa Corn Growers Association invited a group of bloggers and me to visit Iowa and learn more about the corn industry and the farmers behind it, who work tirelessly to grow food for our tables. Although I grew up in Kansas, I am very much a city girl, and I didn’t entirely know what to expect. Continue Reading →
My lifetime of Halloweens has been a series of epic costume fails. To redeem my dismal history, I’m dressing up my dip instead. Graveyard Chocolate Cheesecake Dip is lookin’ spook-tacular and ready to party.
When I was younger, Halloween was not an issue—with little kids, the “cute” card trumps all. Reference: my younger sister Elizabeth and I, circa 1992.
If I could do my wedding all over again, I’d drop the chicken in favor of steaming bowls of Creamy Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Spinach. I’d also want to cook it myself, right there in the dining area, for all 150 of our guests. This is probably why most reception venues have a set menu.
I realize that cooking barley risotto at your own wedding presents a few logistical concerns. My dress would undoubtedly get in the way, serving everyone at the same time would be tricky, and the pot would be so large, I’d pass out before I finished stirring.
Despite the challenges, I can’t help but fall for the idea of making risotto for everyone I cherish most, because to me—perhaps more than any other dish—risotto says, “I love you” and “We are good enough friends that I can cook in front you while consuming conspicuous amounts of wine.” One splash for the risotto. Three sips for me. Four sips for you. Forever and ever amen.
A breakdown of the final 10 minutes before any party I host: Shove dishes into cabinets (1 minute); frantically set table (2 minutes); yell at husband to fluff pillows (10 seconds); pray guests will be late (30 seconds); madly search for left shoe (6 minutes, 20 seconds). Thanks to Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Quiche with Caramelized Onions and Rosemary, I can finally spend those 10 minutes sipping a mimosa instead.
I grew up with and still have model hostesses for a mother and grandmother. When guests arrive, my Grammy has an immaculate table set, hors d’oeuvres on the table, and wine chilled in an ice bucket. My mom’s deviled eggs never crack, her collection of adorable serveware immense, and her lipstick is flawless. I’m pretty sure neither of them has asked God to pull off a traffic jam and stall guests.
Although my friends would be perfectly happy to eat from paper plates, like my mom and Grammy, hosting meals for the people I love brings me incredible joy, and I want my guests to feel special. I also want to enjoy the party myself, and running all over my house like a madwoman isn’t exactly a recipe for bliss. Continue Reading →
We bought a house! Ben’s childhood house. From his parents. Yes dear readers, we’ve moved into the house that Ben grew up in, and what was once my in-laws’ is now my own.
I realize our situation is a little…unusual, particularly since we are still sleeping in Ben’s old bedroom (our new master furniture set has arrived, but the appropriately-sized mattress has not). At the same time, however, I also realize that we are extremely blessed.
We’ve known we’d be moving to Milwaukee for a year, but if six months ago you had told me that we’d be living anywhere near Ben’s parents’ neighborhood, let alone buying their house, I would have told you to lay off the candy corn. Ben and I drove back and forth to Milwaukee dozens of times, looked at nearly 30 homes, and placed (and lost) offers on two. I shared a few of our tribulations here. If you were reading back then, bless you for putting up with my whining, and thank you for all of the encouraging messages you sent. You were confident that we would find our dream home, and guess what? You were right! Continue Reading →
Sometimes, a lady just needs a cookie, and that time is 2:45 p.m. Or 10:30 a.m. Or midnight. I am a lady and, rather than engage in irrational cookie-withdrawal behavior and waste my Grammy’s investment in my elementary school etiquette classes, I baked Healthy Chocolate Cherry Snack Cookies instead. I like to think my etiquette teacher would approve.
Working from home, I’m constantly surrounded by tempting treats, including but not limited to: whatever recipe I’m currently testing; Ben’s bi-weekly batch of chocolate chip cookies (one of the few desserts he loves); and at least four different flavors of ice cream, because that aisle of the grocery store never fails to seduce me. I wish I were one of those steely individuals who can eat fruit and call it dessert, but it’s just not who I am—I’m a lady who needs her afternoon cookie break.
Over-the top indulgence of the Homemade Pumpkin Monkey Bread and Whiskey Brownie Pie variety has its place, but I wanted a cookie recipe that would satisfy my craving AND was healthy enough to be regularly acceptable at 2:45 p.m., the time of day when my energy wanes, and I realize that I really really need a cookie.
If Shakespeare were a cookbook author, Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Kale would have been his masterwork. This recipe is head-over-heels, make you act like a fool, write a sonnet about it, autumn romance.
I realize I often blab on about my love for certain foods (ahem, last week’s Brussels sprouts declaration), and it is because I truly cherish every recipe I post here—I wouldn’t waste either of our time by sharing a recipe with which I wasn’t smitten. Today’s recipe for Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad, however, feels especially personal, perhaps because I honestly feel like I could eat some version of it every single day for the rest of my life. It has everything I’m looking for in a well-balanced, all-in-one lunch, and it would make a smash-hit side for dinner too.