Oh, y'all. You know, there are some days where I want healthy food. I desperately want a salad. Or some grilled veggies. Whatever.
Yesterday was not that day. It was a long day, and I had PMS. We left the gym, with the smell of Burger King wafting through the parking lot, and all I really wanted was a double cheeseburger and fries. Yes, I had gone home at lunch and put this nice, healthy meal in the Crock Pot, but by 6:30 it was decidedly NOT what I wanted.
But it was paid for, and it was healthy, and most importantly, it was there and it didn't require any further effort or driving or general energy expenditure, so I went with it.
And it was good.
Really good, in fact. I sat down to dinner grumpy and tired and hungry, and if I was still grumpy and tired when we finished, at least I was less so. And I wasn't hungry any more. It's hard work not to give into all of your cravings, but this time, at least, it was worth it. No promises for the rest of the week, however.
The recipe came from a Whole Foods email I somehow have started getting at my work email address, and it was a great surprise to receive. You can check it out here, or see with my modifications below.
Autumn Chicken-Apple Stew
4 large chicken breasts
1 large, or 2 medium, sweet potatoes
3 firm baking apples
1 large sweet onion
*mushrooms (I thought it needed something else savory in it)
1 1/2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds (the secret ingredient)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
salt and pepper
*cayenne pepper (B thought it needed some spice)
Core apples and chop into six slices each.
Slice sweet potatoes into large chunks (1 1/2-inch thick)
Slice onion into thick half-circles.
In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds until they start to smell good (about 2-3 minutes)
Dump everything in the Crock Pot for 6 hours on low.
It's been a busy week. B and I thought perhaps we'd be able to get into a routine last week (after him being gone for work the week before), but alas, no. Life happens that way, doesn't it? Sometimes it's good things, such as uncles coming to town for work and taking us to dinner. Sometimes it's exhausting days at work and a complete lack of interest in cooking a fancy dinner. Either way, it adds up to no routine and, consequently, no blog posts. So, sorry about that.
After spending all day yesterday in pre-marital counseling, you better believe I was planning something easy for dinner tonight, something that would allow me to sleep in until 10:30 and then take a nap later in the afternoon. Also, I wanted something to take advantage of this lovely fall weather we are FINALLY having. Corned beef brisket and veggies in the Crock Pot seemed just the thing.
I saw the recipe in a cookbook of my coworker's, and it was supposed to be made with cabbage. However, I thought cabbage in the Crock Pot would probably just get slimy and mushy. I decided to put the potatoes and carrots and onions in the Crock Pot, but roast the cabbage. So I have two recipes for you: beef brisket with vegetables, and roasted cabbage. Check out the recipe for cabbage here, or see them both below with my modifications.
And when I say check them out, I mean it. They were delicious. It was the perfect hearty, homey meal to end a busy weekend. The beef was cooked perfectly, and the veggies were melt-in-your-mouth tender. The cabbage was crispy on the edges and tender and chewy in the center, and it was all ridiculously delicious. It's also man-approved - B ate this up like crazy. The flavor was delicious, and we have tons of leftovers for lunch this week. Major food win here, y'all. If you're looking for something to make to celebrate the arrival of fall, look no further!
Crock Pot Corned Beef and Vegetables
Place onions, carrots, potatoes and bay leaves in the bottom of a Crock Pot. Place brisket on top of vegetables.
Combine spice packet from brisket, beer, mustard, and garlic in a bowl.
Stir well and pour over brisket.
Cook on high setting for an hour, then switch to low for 6 hours.
1 head green cabbage
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450.
Cut head of cabbage into eighths.
Place on foil-covered baking sheet.
Drizzle generously with olive oil. Squeeze juice of lemons over cabbage.
Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Roast for 15 minutes on one side. Flip cabbage and roast 15 minutes on the other.
Words cannot express how happy I am that it's finally getting cold. Winter means Thanksgiving and Christmas, my birthday, scarves, boots, jeans, possibly snow (thought not often enough for my liking), hot chocolate and apple cider, fireplaces, blankets, snuggling, and all manner of happy coziness, which makes this little introvert dance with joy. Winter also means Crock Pot - and soup!
I love soup because it's such a good, easy, hearty, relatively healthy food that makes terrific leftovers or freezer meals, and I really love soup in the Crock Pot because it's easy. For last night's recipe, I chopped everything up on Sunday night, so yesterday morning all I did was dump everything in the Crock Pot.
Unfortunately, I must've done that wrong somehow. We've made this potato-leek soup before, and it was delicious. It was also white, not brown. It also had more flavor, although I'm not sure how/why that would be. It was good before, or at least good enough to keep the recipe! Anybody have any idea what might have gone wrong? Recipe below...
Brown Potato-Leek Soup
4 Russet baking potatoes
1 small onion
2-3 cloves garlic
4 C chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and cube potatoes.
Cut leeks lengthwise and rinse well to remove all dirt. Chop roughly.
Dice onion and garlic.
Put ingredients into Crock Pot with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook 7-8 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high.
Be mystified, along with your fiance, as to why it's brown. And tasteless.
What I want to know is this: what person, who first stumbled upon the artichoke, sat down and thought, "Well, gee, I think I'll try to eat that."? Maybe they were starving to death or something. This is not a hospitable-looking plant....but it sure is a delicious one.
Marinated artichokes are delicious on pizza, pasta, or on salads, but plain artichokes are absolutely amazing when they're roasted. The best part is, it's ridiculously easy. It takes a long time to roast them (an hour to an hour and 20 minutes, depending on the size), but it's SO worth it.
You begin by slicing off the stem at the base of it, so it can sit up on its little nub. Then slice off the top third of the leaves. This part is basically inedible, so you're not wasting it.
"Fluff" the leaves, and stick in 4-5 whole cloves of garlic between the leaves.
Use a little drizzle of olive oil to grease a square of aluminum foil. Place the artichoke in the middle. Drizzle with more olive oil, then squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the top. I forgot about this part, and we did not have lemons, so I used a lime this time. Do as I say, not as I do, children.
Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, and roll up the foil into a little artichoke ball.
Place in a Pyrex dish and pop into a 425-degree oven for an hour to an hour and 20 minutes, depending on the size of your artichoke. I did these guys for about an hour and 15 minutes, and B said they were cooked perfectly.
When you take them out, be VERY careful. Let them sit a few minutes before you open the foil, and when you do, do so with care. That steam is HOT!
To eat, start with the outside layers of leaves and work your way in. Scrape then against your teeth to get the "meat" off. There won't be much, if any, in the outer layers, but the closer you get to the inside the more of the leaf you can eat. When you get down to the heart of the artichoke, scrape out the fuzzy-looking stuff and then eat the heart, or "butt" of the artichoke. It's DELICIOUS - the best part.
Check out the original recipe here, or see below for the Emily version.
2 whole artichokes
8-10 cloves garlic, whole
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425.
Cut off the stem and the top third of the leaves of the artichoke.
"Fluff" the leaves, and put 4-5 cloves of garlic in each artichoke.
Grease a square of aluminum foil with the oil. Put artichoke in the middle and drizzle with more oil.
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon on the artichoke.
Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, then wrap the artichoke in the foil.
Place in a foil-lined Pyrex dish and bake for an hour to an hour and 20 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes.
When finished, carefully remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before eating.
Enjoy - and trust me, you will!
My second StitchFix came today. I was even more excited about this one than the first. Between feedback on the other box and the addition of a link to my Pinterest fashion board, I'd been hoping this box will be a little more tailored to my actual tastes. I do not do tribal or Little House on the Prairie. Just...no.
And still no. When I opened my box, with all my girl coworkers eagerly anticipating the excitement inside...I was wildly disappointed. Not sure where these "stylists" are getting their ideas from, but NOTHING in my box really screamed "me." At this point, I've now filled out an extensive questionnaire AND dedicated a Pinterest board to my fashion ideas and sent them a link to it. You would think they would get a clue.
I guess in retrospect they did, because I did not get any baggy, hippy-dippy grandma dresses, but this wasn't much better. I'm pretty disappointed. I was looking for some new clothes because I'm sick of everything I own. Some of this stuff I like a little, but there's nothing I'm really 100% sold on. AND it's all MUCH more expensive than last time, too. I don't know what, if anything, I will keep. Take a look at the pictures, and give me some feedback. What looks good? What doesn't? What's worth the money and what's not? I really have no idea.
Disclaimer: B is out of town and I left my DLSR (with the self-timer) at my house. There was nothing for it but to drag a chair to the bathroom and take some selfies. At the risk of looking like a teenager, or possibly just sad and ghetto, here you go. Don't judge THIS. I did what I had to do :)
Collective Concepts Josefin Striped Ruffle Detail Blazer
Well, the one thing you can say for this one is that at least it's work appropriate. It's also freaking expensive, at $78. It's kind of cute, but it's really short. I keep feeling the need to tug it down. I have a really long torso and I feel a lot more comfortable if shirts/tops/jackets hit my hips. It actually fits pretty well otherwise - blazers tend to make me look boxy, and also like a kid playing dress-up, but this one has some shape to it. So what is it: keep or return?
THML Aptos Button Detail A-Line Dress
This was actually the only thing I really liked on first glance. Then I tried it on at my coworkers' insistence, changing clothes in the kitchen since my coworker, Megan, who also got a StitchFix today, was in our single-stall women's room. Not as much. Even though it has stripes, and a different-colored skirt, and buttons on the shoulder, it still seemed bizarrely plain, and also a little shapeless. I'm wearing it here with brown tights and my old brown boots (not my good riding boots). It seems like an okay outfit. Maybe it would be better with a cardigan over it? I have a dark brown cardigan. What do you think? Worth a keep or not? It's $68. Does that influence anything?
Black Swan Olive Fit and Flare Ponte Dress
This one also was tried on in the kitchen at work. My coworkers REALLY liked it and said it fit me really well, giving me a defined waist. I didn't love it as much at work, but I actually kind of like it in this picture with the leopard Tory Burches and the long necklace. It's $78, so I would hope I'd like it. It's a bonus because I could wear it to work, or I could wear it out on the weekends. Versatility is important to me. So is it worth the money or not? Cute, or too plain?
Hourglass Lilly Justin Floral Print Cowl Neck Tank
I like the pink and gray of this one. That's a good color combination. It's a little big and baggy, but it works being slouchy with the skinny jeans. It also does pretty well tucked into a pencil skirt. Whatever I wear it with, it needs to be something slim-fit. This is also one of those that I can wear to work and wear for fun. It's also the cheapest of the bunch, but it's $48, which is a lot for a knit shirt. Then again, if it's that versatile, maybe it's worth it. Opinions?
Pink Martini Fierro Elbow Patch Crew Neck Sweater
This was probably my least favorite at first glance. It seems a little shapeless, the color is kind of a blah, washed-out turquoise/gray, and while I admittedly DO need elbow patches to keep from busting holes in my clothes, I wasn't super thrilled about this. That opinion continued once i tried it on. I like the look in GENERAL, of a sweater over a collared shirt with skinny jeans and pearls, but this is just kind of a weird, no-color shirt, and it's a little bit too big for me. It's pretty shapeless. This one I think I have the most certain opinion on: I definitely don't want to keep this one, especially since it's $58. But I'm open to opinions - anyone think it's fabulous and I should keep it?
So that's it - my October box. And the jury is still out. So it's up to you, sweet and faithful readers. Keep or return? Add to my clothing line-up or hold out for better? What's it gonna be, y'all??
Anybody who's ever used a camera knows you have to take a LOT of pictures to get those few precious shots. My brother and his fiancee's engagement session was no different. They are SUPER photogenic, but every now and then someone blinks. Or the wind blows a stray hair in someone's face. Or the photographer neglected to focus the lens juuuuuust right (guilty). You get the idea.
I promised my future sis-in-law that I wouldn't share too many of these pictures so that the picture on their save-the-date would be a surprise, but I'm guessing she won't be using any of these. I hope.
Love you guys - I had the MOST fun being your photographer!
Yesterday I had both the pleasure and privilege of taking engagement photos of my little brother and his fiancee. They're getting married at the Biltmore Inn in 363 days, so where else would we take engagement pictures? It wasn't as cool as any of us would have liked, nor were the leaves as colorful, but we made the best of the day.
Innumerable laughs, several tastings of wine, and 471 pictures later, we called it a day. Since yesterday was my sweet fiance's birthday, we went to the Cantina in Asheville to celebrate and get a little sustenance. After that, we checked out Barley's for some pumpkin beer and more good times.
It went by so quickly, which makes me sad, but we've got a lot of great images to remember it by. This is just a small sampling of the pics. I know I'm biased, but aren't they adorable?
Ahhh, fall...the season of football games, boots and jeans, scarves, spiked apple cider, bonfires...and crochet?
That's right - Mimi's Heart (aka my Etsy shop) has a fully restocked inventory of handmade baby goodies. Got a bun in the oven? Need a unique baby shower gift? I am always MORE than happy to take custom orders, so if you want something I don't currently have in stock, or if you need something to match a certain outfit, please don't hesitate to send me a message. I can do adult hats, too. Do not be shy to hit me up with custom requests!
There are, of course, some designs that are more popular than others, but I wanted to take the time now to show off some of MY personal favorites. Don't forget to check out my Etsy shop to see the rest of my stockpile. Seriously, some of these are cute enough to make you want to have a baby...or at least borrow your friend's baby for the day (Miss Victoria, I'm looking at you, kid!).
Button is one of my favorites. This is not actually a baby hat, because I was worried little ones would pull off the buttons and try to eat them, but it's perfect for a child of 4 - 5. It's playful, it would match a ton of outfits, and the colors are very muted and fall-like. A bargain, at only $15!
My most popular design by far. I had a ton of requests for these last year, including a baby boy boy owl version and a hot pink and black owl version. This is a toddler-sized hat, but I can easily make one for an infant. This one goes for $20, but for an additional $10 I can also throw in a matching diaper cover - perfect for baby photos! And please remember: I do custom orders. Just ask.
I don't know why, but this hat reminds me of France. Maybe it's the colors, maybe it's the little red poppy flowers, but for whatever reason it screams "French" to me. That's why it's one of my favorites. How cute would this be on a little girl? TOO cute, is the answer. And for $15, another steal! If only airfare to Paris were so cheap...
Dark pink and cream, a dreamy hat for your little queen. I LOVE the rich pink color of this hat, along with the tinge of pink in the cream flowers. It's so elegant and perfect for fall and winter. I kind of want to make myself one, but I cannot find those beautiful flowers anymore. So snap up this hat while you can!
Spice in Green
Add this hat to the list of Endangered Species of Fake Flowers. I can't even remember where I bought this, much less that they would still have it. So snap up this beauty while you can, along with its sister, Spice in Red. How adorable would this be on a little girl wearing a denim dress by a pumpkin patch?! Again, I kind of want to make one for me!
So there they are, my top five (in-stock) favorites. I'll hopefully work on some new designs soon, but wedding planning and life in general have gotten pretty busy. So stay tuned and check the shop (and the blog!) often! And by all means, stay warm, y'all!
Okay, so it doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "smashing pumpkins." Or the seasonality. Or the music reference. But who cares? It's fun, and more importantly, delicious. As best I can tell, when you smash pumpkins all you get is a mess.
If you're a die-hard Pinterest-er like me, then I don't doubt you've seen this recipe floating around on your friends' boards, or maybe even your own. It's not exactly the stuff breaking news is made of. But we have a secret. Our secret is...Trader Joe's.
All right, so that's not much of a secret, either. But they do hold the key to the best smashed 'taters you can imagine: little blue potatoes. Seriously. This recipe can be done with little red 'taters or even little Yukon 'taters, but the little blue ones are what take it over the top. At Trader Joe's, I buy the mixed bag of little red, white and blue 'taters so we have a mix of all the 'tater flavors (which are patriotic, to boot).
This recipe is stupidly easy. Preheat your oven to 425. I actually did ours on 400 last night because we had other stuff going in the oven with the 'taters that doesn't require that amount of heat. Then, poke several holes in each of the potatoes and microwave for 4-7 minutes, depending on the size of the potato and how your microwave works.
Then, generously drizzle a baking dish (I use Pyrex) with olive oil. Take your microwaved potatos, use a potato masher, and mash each potato flat. You don't want to completely mash it, like mashed potatoes. You want it to still be (hopefully) in one piece, kind of like a potato cake.
Once you've got them in the pan and all flattened to your satisfaction, use a pastry brush to brush the tops of the potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. You can then chop up whatever fresh herbs you have on hand (I used rosemary), and sprinkle a little on each potato. You can leave out the herbs if you want - the recipe is still delicious with salt and pepper. Just don't stint on those two.
After you're done seasoning to your heart's delight, pop those potatoes in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they're crispy and browned on top. We flip ours over halfway through the baking process so both sides get crispy. After that, voila! You have delicious crispy, soft smashed 'taters, and you don't even have to make a mess to get them.
Check out the original recipe with the link above, or see below with my modifications.
Smashed Red, White, and Blue 'Taters
1 bag Trader Joe's mixed little taters (or your taters of choice, but I highly recommend the blue ones)
Salt and pepper
Fresh herb(s) - rosemary, thyme, chives, all good.
Preheat oven to 325.
Prick the potatoes with a fork several times, and microwave for 4-7 minutes.
When the potatoes are tender and give a little, transfer them to a well-oiled baking dish.
Using a potato masher (or the bottom of a bowl), mash each tater into a cake shape.
With a pastry brush, brush the top of the potatoes with olive oil.
Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and chopped herb of your choice.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but even with both B and I nomming on our fresh-picked goodies, that's still a lot of days of apple-eating. While once again stalking my coworker's blog and web site, I came across this recipe for Apple Butterscotch Cinnamon muffins. I don't think the "apple cinnamon" part would have sold me, but it's the butterscotch part that did it. Who doesn't love butterscotch?
Further, this recipe called for applesauce. Thankfully, I had already used some of our bounty to make this vanilla bean applesauce. I had everything I needed, so I energetically, if recklessly, dived in. You'll see what I mean later.
To begin, mix 2.5 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, one teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon together in a bowl. Add in 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats. Set it to the side.
In another bowl, cream together one stick of room-temperature butter and 1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar. Here's where I need to emphasize the "room temperature" part of this. I was too impatient to wait for my butter to warm up to room temperature, so I simply zapped it in its wrapper for 10 seconds, then 10 more. Then I tried to mix it with the brown sugar.
Bad idea. It wasn't going ANYwhere. So I had to stick the entire mixing bowl in the microwave and zapped it for another 15 seconds before I managed to get the butter soft enough to cream. Part of the problem is that I didn't have a mixer with me at B's house, so I was doing this all by hand, but most of the problem is that I was too impatient to start.
To recap: make sure your butter is room temperature before you begin. That way, when you cream it with the brown sugar, it will look something like this (without needing a jaunt to the microwave):
After you finally get that done, add in 2/3 cup applesauce, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
This is also an important step: make sure your fiance doesn't eat the last of the eggs without telling you so that when you look in the fridge to grab the eggs, you find none. Then you have to go run down the street to CVS (the closest place to buy eggs) in the middle of your cooking.
Once you've done that, mix in the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with 1 cup milk (total). Once everything is fully mixed, fold in 1 cup of butterscotch chips and 1 cup apple, finely chopped. The finished batter looked like this:
Pour the batter into muffin tins with liners (or without liners, if you don't mind scrubbing a muffin tin) and bake at 350. The original recipe said to bake for 18 - 22 minutes, but in B's oven they were done in 16 minutes, and the bottoms were a little dark. So keep an eye on them to make sure you don't burn them.
Cool in the pan for 5 - 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
B really liked these. The oats make them hearty without making them heavy, and the butterscotch chips are little bombs of goodness. They will be a great breakfast for us for the next week or so.
Whenever you serve these, I recommend serving them warm because they are SO delicious that way.
If you would like to make these, check out the original recipe here, or see below for my changes/modifications (there weren't many for this recipe - it was a good one!)
Apple Butterscotch Cinnamon Muffins
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature (seriously!)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup applesauce
2 eggs (make sure your fiance hasn't eaten them all)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup finely chopped apple
Preheat oven to 350.
In medium mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients. Stir in oats and mix well together.
In a separate bowl, cream butter together until light and smooth.
Beat in applesauce, eggs and vanilla to butter and cream mixture.
Mix in dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk.
Fold in butterscotch chips and apple.
Pour batter into muffin tins with paper liners.
Bake for 16 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 - 10 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely.