I'm happy to announce that as of July, the love of my life and I are BOTH working from home. 😬 Working from home isn't new for me. I've been running the show (and my business) out of our house for 26 years.😅 I thrive on the quiet stillness of the empty house during the day and unlike my extravert husband, I cherish the time that I spend alone. Working from home is an ideal situation for me.
This whole work from home scenario is something totally new for my hard working husband though. Safe to say - there's going to be an adjustment period - for both of us. 😂 I'm cooking - he's working on his computer. I'm whipping buttercream in my mixer and vacuuming spilled salt up off the floor at the same time he's taking conference calls with overseas colleagues. I'm trying to bake a couple dozen cupcakes.🧁 He wants to use the kitchen to make his lunch.🍝 Adjustments.
Now that we're 7 or 8 weeks in to this whole co-working from home situation - I feel like we're getting into the groove though. My industrious spouse made himself a work space in the basement and even though I make frequent trips down there for extra baking supplies throughout the day, it's worked better for us to conduct our business on separate floors.
I'll only speak for myself, but it's really been more of a joy than a disturbance to have my hubby home during the day. I actually really enjoy his company during the day. As a girl who hardly ever stopped to make lunch in the afternoon, having someone to eat with me everyday at noon, has been one of the biggest changes. It's honestly been one of my favorite things about having him home though. Our lunches aren't fancy. We usually eat leftovers or sandwiches but it's a chance for us to connect and talk to each other without having to wait until the end of the day when we're both tired and worn out.
Safe to say that I'm slowly working my way up to making lunch. Right now, I'm comfortable heating lunch.😂 I don't love the word "leftovers" but I'm still trying to intentionally prepare "extra" food when I make dinner. I'm learning which meals make great second day lunches and which ones aren't so great.
Pastas have always been a favorite in our house. We love pasta dinners so much that we actually argue over which one of us is gets to eat the extras for lunch. 🍝 And when I combine fresh basil and the cherry tomatoes from my garden and some of my favorite cheese into a deliciously simple pasta dish - I know I better make a lot because we're going to be fighting over these leftovers. This was a favorite pasta dish, for sure.
Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes and Burrata
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
5 Tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound pasta
8 ounces burrata
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
Cut burrata into 1" pieces and sprinkle over pasta.
Drizzle with 1/4 C. oil. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with basil.
Seeing this pasta dinner makes me want to make it all over again tonight. I still have fresh tomatoes and basil in my garden so I'm thinking that this meal is going to be on our table again in the near future. 😉
For me, summer just wouldn't be complete without a trip to Johnson's Island. What, you haven't heard of this tiny green sanctuary in the middle of the Sandusky Bay? It's okay - not very many people have - and I'm fairly certain that the island residents prefer it that way.🤪
The small island in Northern Ohio is a far cry from tropical but it holds a special place in my heart. It's the place where I had the privilege of spending my childhood summers. The childhood utopia where I learned to fish, to swim, to ride a dirt bike, to forage for wild raspberries and play ghost in the graveyard after dark ... in an actual cemetery. 👻🤣
Lucky for me, my parents have made this slice of mid west paradise, their permanent home. Even though the over 700 mile journey from my house can be a challenge, I visit as often as I can.
As a kid, I didn't appreciate this idealistic place to grow up. I assumed that every kid spent their summers riding bikes through the woods and jumping off dangerous cliffs into rocky waters below. 😳 It wasn't until I got older and started to visit with my boyfriend (now my husband) and later, my kids, that I realized what a treasure this little island really is. And of course, they fell in love with it too.
My mom is an amazing cook and she's an expert at fixing meals on "island time". Like when word get around that the fish are biting, no matter what time of day it is, you grab your worms and head to the "hot spot" which means that all other plans get cancelled. Fishing trumps dinner every time. 🤣🎣 And when we wake up to one those perfect Northern Ohio summer days, we grab the sunscreen and heads to the boat. 🚤 Any meals that were planned for the day get either packed in a cooler and loaded on the boat for a picnic or put back in the refrigerator for another day.
Like I said - my mom's become an expert at making delicious meals despite the crazy schedule. I'm not nearly as flexible as she is with my meal planning, but then again, I don't live on an island. 😅 I did however, manage to whip up a quick batch of Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons while I visited this summer. Sure I had to mix together the batter and put them in the frig while for a few hours while we attended a summer regatta party. But I was able to come back and bake them just before I went to bed. #islandlife 😂
Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons
2 egg whites
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond
2 1/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Let cookies cool on sheet 5 minutes.
Where are my gluten free and dairy-free followers? This recipe is for YOU! Well, it's for me too. I'm not gluten or dairy intolerant and I love these as much as you will. Enjoy!
I gave my family a pass. A pass to NOT get me a birthday cake this year.🎂 Birthday cakes, cupcakes and cookies are as common in my kitchen as white rice or bananas in a most homes. 🍎🍌🤣
Most years, If I'm being honest, the thought of another cake isn't how I want to celebrate my birthday anyway. 😬 In past years, my sweet husband has gone to great lengths to get me a sweet birthday treat that I don't make for clients on a regular basis - which is no easy task. But this year, I decided to make my own birthday treat.
Roughly 2 decades ago, we lived in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and it was there that my love affair with raspberry pie began. We lived close to the most amazing raspberry farm that sold freshly picked fruit and slices of the most incredible raspberry pie.
Some of my fondest memories of our years spent in Pennsylvania, occurred while sitting around tiny cast iron tables, on a vine covered terrace eating homemade raspberry pie at this farm with my family. 🥧 This is also where I learned that kids eat raspberries like they eat they eat ice cream. 🤣🍦 #raspberrieseverywhere
There are things that I don't miss about Pennsylvania - our drafty house, shoveling snow and closed bridges. But, leaving Pennsylvania also meant saying goodbye to our sweet friends, our neighbors and this amazing pie. Apparently I wasn't shy about sharing my feelings about this raspberry pie with my family because my better half actually arranged to have one shipped and delivered to me for my birthday a few years ago.
This year, I'm taking the burden off of my family and making my own raspberry pie for my birthday. This might just be the only day all year that I make a dessert specifically for myself. And I couldn't think of anything that I'd like more than a slice of homemade raspberry pie.
1 recipe for double crust pie
4 cups fresh raspberries
5 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon water
3 Tablespoons coarse sugar
Dust with sugar and bake 10 minutes at 400. Reduce heat to 375 and bake 35-45 more minutes.
Cheers to another year! Thanks for hanging out with me once again blog friends.
I'm a terrible poker player.🃏 I'm just not very good at hiding my feelings and even though I might not always say everything that I'm thinking - my face always tells the truth. 😬 Those that know me tease me about the fact that I have absolutely zero poker face.😅 It's not necessarily a bad personality trait but it's gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion.
I'm not a wine snob or a wine connoisseur in any sense of the word. I enjoy a glass of wine when we go out to dinner and I generally stick to something in the cabernet family. One night I decided to stretch outside of my relatively small wine comfort zone and order something different. The server recommended 2 different wines with so much vigor and conviction that I ordered a sample of each. 🍷
What I did NOT expect was that our most gracious server would stand at the table and watch me sample her suggested wines.😬 This is where my face gets me into trouble because I just knew that my expression was giving away all the thoughts that were swirling around my head while I sipped. I wanted so badly to tell her that I agreed with her recommendations and I loved them both, but after one sip, there was no denying the fact that I wasn't a fan of either wine. 🥴
So, I did what every socially awkward person would do in that situation. I attempted to avoid the condemning stares from the server and sidestep the conversation by asking for a sample tasting of third type of wine. 🤦🏻♀️ I'm honestly not sure whether the 3d glass of wine was really exceptional but I didn't make a weird face when I drank it, so I'm took that as a good sign and I ordered a glass. 😅
I'm not the only person in my family that has a hard time maintaining a poker face when I eat something that doesn't meet my expectations though. 😑 I've learned to read my family's faces when they take that first bite of something, pretty well. It also helps that they're not shy about sharing their feedback after a meal. 😅
Eggplant Lasagna is always a good choice if I want to get truly authentic facial feedback. It's impossible to eat this cheese and marinara smothered veggie layered in between delicate sheets of pasta, without making a face. You have to either smile because you enjoy it or make the face of someone who is trying to swallow a bite that they wished they hadn't ever put into their mouth. 😋🥴 I'm happy to report that there were lots of smiles at the table when I served this eggplant lasagna. We all agreed that it was delicious and we ate every bite - no poker faces required.
3 large eggplants
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, spray olive oil or ghee
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
6 ounces baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
16-ounce tub of whole milk ricotta
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
24-ounce jar marinara sauce, about 3 cups
8 no-boil lasagna noodles
1– 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
1/4– 1/3 cup pecorino
1/4–1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes at 375. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer.
It's completely up to you as to whether or not you want to disclose the fact that it's a vegetable based lasagna, ahead of time. As for me, I'll never stop trying to sneak vegetables into soups and tacos. It's just how I roll. 🤣 Enjoy the recipe!
Does anyone else have a spouse who eats as if someone is standing behind them waiting to snatch a french fry from their plate the minute they look away? I'm not trying to throw him under the bus, but my husband eats with such gusto that it's not uncommon for him to not look up from his plate until it's empty. There's so little time between bites that any discussion outside of "pass the ketchup" is usually out of the question at mealtime. 🤣
I've tried to get to the root of his accelerated eating and I have absolutely no answers. He's had this style of eating for as long as I can remember - and I've known this man since he was 10! He's never lived in an environment where food was limited or been in a situation where he was required to eat quickly but he eats every meal as though it is his last. 🤷🏻♀️
I give my poor husband grief about being a speed eater but I would not categorize myself as a slow eater, by any means. My competitive spirit keeps me engaged in the race to keep pace with my husbands accelerated eating. 😅 I do have to remind myself to put my fork down between bites, to take time to enjoy and appreciate every forkful and to relax and enjoy the mealtime experience.
I feel like the time that I devote to preparing a meal is directly proportional to the appreciation that I have for it. I can devour a turkey sandwich that I slap together for lunch in under 2 minutes. But if I spend several days, preparing, kneading, rising and shaping a bread dough - you better believe that I am going to appreciate every single bite. 🥖
I realize that the thought of making a bread over the course of two days is daunting for most people. But I promise you that this Overnight Focaccia is easier than you think. Other than a minimal amount of hands on time prepping and kneading the dough, most of time is spend rising and proofing which doesn't involve any work from you. And if you've got a Kitchen mixer or a food processor that can do the kneading for you - it's even more hands off.
It goes without saying that Overnight Focaccia is the perfect accompaniment to almost any Italian meal. 🍝 But you might not have thought about serving focaccia as an appetizer. It's goes great with cheeses and olives. It also makes great sandwiches. And if you've never had a warm focaccia sandwich with turkey, Swiss and avocado - you're missing out.
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups water
Press fingers straight down into dough to dimple.
Transfer to a preheated 425 oven immediately and bake 25 minutes.
Lift out of pan with a spatula.
Slice into squares.
If you want to fill your kitchen with the smell of fresh-baked bread but you're nervous about shaping and working with a starter, focaccia is the best place to begin. This homemade focaccia requires minimal baking skills but still provides ample opportunity amaze yourself by the wonders of yeast. Letting the dough do its first rise in the fridge produces the most deliciously, bubbly bread. This focaccia is worth a try for sure.
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