Dutch Baby Pancake

Dutch Baby Pancake

There are about a million and a half things that I love about having a day off. I love not having to wake up early or shower (yay, hygiene!) or put on makeup. I love drinking a cup of strong coffee curled up on the couch watching an episode of The Office. I love the feeling of productivity at home — laundry, dishes, vacuuming, dusting. And, my ultimate favorite thing about a day off? Cooking! 

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Last week, I took a day off of work to do all of those things, and I kicked off my spontaneous day of relaxation with a recipe from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings.

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Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

There’s just something about summertime, right? Something wonderful and warm that you can feel in your bones and on your sun-kissed cheeks. Something lazy and free, something that you soak up as the sun begins to set at night. Summertime buzzes. It’s alive and it’s happy, and I welcome it’s arrival every year with an impatient excitement.

To me, one of the best things about summertime is the food. Of course. The grill marks on a sizzling piece of chicken or the juicy vibrancy of a ripe watermelon. It’s a time to pack away the hearty stews of winter and move on to foods that are bright and fresh.

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Our Honeymoon

Our Honeymoon

Last Saturday, Skyler and I hopped on a plane (preceded, of course, by a few rounds of mimosas and Jack Daniels at the airport bar), heading south to the sunny world of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic to celebrate our marriage! Fast forward about 12 hours, and we were sitting on the porch of the room at our resort, watching a few men and women dance in the rain, wearing butterfly wings and dripping in glitter. Skyler looked at me. “Wanna catch the first flight out of here tomorrow morning? Turn this into an adventure?” Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted to do. So, that’s exactly what we did.

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Jam Packed Macaroon Macarons.

Jam Packed Macaroon Macarons.

Each month, Martha Stewart’s Living magazine shows up in my mailbox, and I dive in, trying to live vicariously through the beautifully curated pages of this publication.

A few weeks ago, as I flipped through the pages of the Easter-focused issue, I stumbled upon the most interesting recipe I had seen in a while: the macaroon macaron.

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Mix and Match Quiche.

Mix and Match Quiche.

Skyler and I are not great at executing on a meal plan. I’ll use our Whole 30 experience as an example.

On Whole 30, it’s absolutely critical to plan your meals, because the ingredients that you’ll need to use are weird and expensive and hard to find, and because if you don’t have a plan, you’ll be overcome with the desire to call it quits and order a pizza or you’ll eat a steamed bag of broccoli for dinner, and literally no one in the world actually wants to have a steamed bag of broccoli for dinner. So, we planned! We made a weekly calendar and hung it in the kitchen. Monday: shepherd’s pie. Tuesday: sweet potatoes stuffed with buffalo chicken. Wednesday: salmon and brussel sprouts. Etc. Etc. Etc. And then Monday would roll around, and it would be the kind of Monday that really actually feels like a Monday, and my desire to spend an hour making shepherd’s pie and then clean a heaping pile of dishes would be 0. And then on Tuesday, Skyler wouldn’t be in the mood for buffalo chicken. At the end of the week, we would have existed on a random assortment of compliant foods that made zero complete meals, and we’d have a fridge full of fresh vegetables that were no longer very fresh.

And that fridge full of leave-me-in-here-one-more-day-and-you-won’t-be-able-to-eat-me vegetables is a thing that we just can’t seem to get ahead of. Until today, when I threw all those ingredients into a lip-smacking quiche!

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Blueberry Sour Cream Pie.

Blueberry Sour Cream Pie.

I woke up this morning in an embarrassingly messy hotel room. Think: A trail of clothes littered across the floor, open boxes of half-eaten chicken fingers and cold french fries, empty cups strewn haphazardly across the desk, a sticky uncorked bottle of wine, and the contents of my purse decorating the nightstand. Ahhh, St. Patrick’s Day. You were a fun one this year.

As I lay in our luxurious king-size bed mindlessly scrolling through social media, I came across a picture of a cherry pie. An advertisement for Country Living or some similar magazine. Mmm. Pie. And suddenly, that single photo was the beginning of my downfall and I couldn’t get pie off my brain. I mentioned my plan to Skyler – “I want to bake a pie today. Can we stop at the grocery store on the way home?” – and he grunted in my general direction. He clearly was not as excited as my grandiose pie plans as I was. It seems that hangovers hit us in very different ways.

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Salted Caramel Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Salted Caramel Almond Thumbprint Cookies

A few weekends ago, I hopped in the car and drove and hour and a half south, just across the Mason Dixon, to spend warm fall Saturday with my grandma in Frederick, MD. We’ve fallen into a little bit of routine when we decide to traipse up down Market Street. There’s our go-to shops, like Relish, and of course, our go-to restaurant, La Paz. Our go-to order appetizer is queso, my go-to entrée is Marcie’s Choice salad and our go-to drink is obviously a margarita, hold my salt, please. But this time, we had no agenda, no timeframe. We still hit our usuals, but we had the whole day to wander, and that’s exactly what we did. At one point, we walked by a local chocolatier, Perfect Truffle. We headed inside, both ordering one dark chocolate salted caramel. Then we walked outside, across the street, and directly into another chocolatier, The Candy Kitchen. We both ordered one milk chocolate salted caramel. We turned it into a little competition – who on Market had the best salted caramel? To be honest, both were delicious, but wildly different. One was the oozy caramel. When I bit through the hard chocolate exterior, the caramel inside just melted on my tongue. The other was chewy, almost hard. The kind that gives your jaw a workout as you eat it.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage.

The past week and a half has been kind of a lot. It’s been emotional and trying and hectic, which in turn has just drained me (a serious introvert) of all my (very extroverted) energy. But then Sunday came around, and I had a bit of respite.

Skyler woke up early and headed out to hunting camp with a few of his buddies, leaving me at home with our three snuggly little pets and no plans of any kind. And although I gave him a hard time about leaving, if I’m being honest, it was just what I needed. An entire day to be at home, with myself, and just be. I needed to press pause on life, enjoy the quiet and recharge. That reset button looks different for everyone, but for me, it meant spending a whole lot of time in our kitchen.

After a quick trip to the grocery store (in my pajamas, because it was my day and who cares), I whipped up a batch of cappuccino biscotti, and then I set my sights on dinner: sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter and sage.

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Cappuccino Biscotti

Cappuccino Biscotti

I’ve never been one to wait until Thanksgiving has passed to begin spreading Christmas cheer. In fact, I started my Christmas shopping in September. Last weekend, I pulled out the boxes of holiday decor from the basement and started sprinkling bits of red, green and gold around the house. And let’s be honest, Hallmark’s Christmas movies have been playing on my TV for a solid month. I love Christmas almost as much as I love Octobers.

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