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Extra Curricular Activities

This summer was a busy one: newish baby, going back to work, packing, renovating, moving, unpacking, not sleeping. :) Even so, I forced myself to also do some fun things so I didn’t get burned out. I managed to get to the beach once (yay!) and celebrated two of my best friends getting married. I also explored our new town by taking walks in the local park, joined a local women’s group, started a play group with some lovely women I met after having Cole, and took some cooking classes.

I’m pretty confident in the kitchen but seeing other techniques is fun for me. (A perfectly relaxing day to me is reading design magazines while binge watching The Barefoot Contessa.) Last month I took a pasta making class and an Italian sauce making class and learned so much. I just have to find my kitchenaid mixer in the pile of boxes in the basement and buy this attachment and I’ll be making my own pasta in no time!

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Here is a delicious and fresh tomato sauce recipe we learned:

Prep time: 15 minuets
Cooking time: 75 minutes


  • Can whole peeled italian plum tomatoes (2 p0unds)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 table spoons olive oil (not EVOO. I just realized I love this taste so much better)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • fresh basil



Warm the olive oil and add bay leaves. Add the sliced onions and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat. Bring the onion to caramel color then add the tomato, sugar, and simmer for 60 minutes. For best results cook at least 60 minutes. Let the sauce cool for 20 minutes and blend the sauce in a blender or run through food mill. Ass salt and fresh chopped basil and refrigerate for 24 hours. Enjoy!

Did you know there’s a difference between tomato and marinara sauce? The base of tomato sauce is sauteed onions, where marinara sauce is a based of sauteed garlic. Interesting, right?

Easy Holiday Appetizer: Stuffed Mushrooms with Spinach

I hope you all had a nice holiday! I had a wonderful Christmas and have been taking advantage of my down time since this pregnancy is catching up to me. I had intentions of posting this recipe before Christmas, but life often gets in the way. Better late than never, right? If you’re hosting a party for New Year’s Eve these mushrooms are the perfect appetizer! My nephews literally beg me to make them which secretly makes me feel like the Barefoot Contessa. Those kids know how to butter me up!

This week I hosted my first Christmas Eve dinner with both of our families which was really fun, and if I’m being totally honest… really crazy. :) (I posted a few pictures on instagram, if you’d like to see.) We had 27 people total which is by far the biggest dinner party I’ve hosted so far. It went really smoothly and I was joking that every party I’ve had previously was just training for that night! In addition to other finger foods, I made my go-to appetizer which was a hit. I definitely recommend this recipe if you’re looking for something quick and easy to impress your guests.








french onion soup

Homemade French Onion Soup Recipe

I had such a great weekend and not only because we won a vacation! (I still can’t believe it!) Ryan’s sister and her hubby went away for the weekend to celebrate their 10 year anniversary so our nephews stayed with us for the weekend. On Saturday we took them to Union Beach to volunteer and they were such good sports! I felt like it was a really great opportunity to teach them a lesson and to give  back to the community. I wasn’t sure how they’d react, but my oldest nephew came up to me at the end and said how good it felt to help others. How sweet is that?!

I’ve been meaning to try making french onion soup for a long time now and figured this was the perfect Autumn lunch since our family would be over! This recipe is based off of several different recipes I pulled from books or magazines and was delicious and filling!


French Onion Soup Recipe
6 Servings, 15 minutes prep and 30 minutes cooking time


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1.5 pounds onions
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1.5-2 large boxes of low sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 6 slices french bread
  • 6 ounces sliced Gruyere cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded Parmesan
  • 6 beef bullion cubes


1. Melt butter in a very large, deep pot over medium heat. Add onions and stir to coat. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are very soft and begin to turn a golden brown color. (Yum!)

2. Uncover and increase heat to medium/high heat. Add sugar and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle onions with flour and cook for another minute. Stir in broth, wine, 1 cup water, and beef bullion cubes. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes.

3. Toast slices of bread in the broiler until lightly toasted, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Place six ovenproof bowls (I love these) on a baking sheet and divide soup equally.

4. Place a piece of toast on the top of each serving of soup and top with Gruyere slices, followed by a generous sprinkling of shredded Parmesan. (The cheesier the better!) Heat under broiler for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and deliciously melted. Carefully remove from oven and enjoy while warm!

garden party

This weekend we had some friends over for a casual little garden party. I kept the food simple and made my go to shrimp scampi, a garden salad, and my sangria that always gets people silly. I set the table with a simple white linen table cloth, and made a runner out of burlap from the local craft store. I didn’t even sew it, I just got 3 yards of fabric and folded it length wise! (I asked the cashier if they had any coupons and got it for only $8!) I love the way the candles and flowers dress up a typically utilitarian fabric.

Garden party tablescape - white tablecloth with burlap runner and sunflower centerpiece

Delicious shrimp scampi

Garden party with friends

Garden party sunflower centerpience tea light candles and white sangria

Pan seared scallops with rice and green beans

seared scallops

Pan seared scallops with rice and green beans

Ryan and I both had busy work weeks, so on Wednesday I decided to make a “fancy” dinner to make the middle of the week feel a bit more special. Trying new recipes and cooking is relaxing to me and was exactly what I needed to pause this hectic week. I found this recipe in Cooking Light (my new favorite magazine) and paired it with a Chardonnay we got on our recent wine tasting tour. It was so simple to make, and gave me an excuse to start using fresh herbs from the garden!

I’ve been a busy bee working on a few different projects, so this weekend I’m going to do some gardening, celebrate Ryan’s birthday(!) , and catch up on some reading. Take a look at my facebook page to sneak a peak at some project updates!


grow cook eat

Grow Cook Eat Book Cover

I have become obsessed with gardening. And that might be an understatement. Since living on my own after college, I’ve slowly taught myself how to cook by following recipes and watching the Food Network. This newish obsession somehow seems natural to me that I would now grow the ingredients to use in my recipes.

I absolutely love my new book “Grow Cook Eat” that I recently picked up. It gives you tips on how to grow each veggie (including when to plant the seeds and how much to water them), how to store it, and how to cook it by using the books fresh recipes. I started dogearing the recipes that looked interesting, but now the entire book is dogeared! This is definitely helpful for beginner gardeners, or people who are just learning how to cook!