I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of Spring. I can't believe we are already four months into 2014. While I did enjoy the cooler months, it's really nice to finally have open-window weather. Here in Texas, Spring is fleeting, so I'm making sure to enjoy it while it lasts!
I recently traded recipe testing for a quick trip out of town and a little Spring cleaning and organization around the house. So, while I get back to working in the kitchen this week, I thought I would bring you a "Lately" post since I haven't written one in a while. I always love writing these posts because it's so much fun to share what I'm reading, discovering and doing.
I spent the last weekend of March in Oklahoma City visiting my good friend, Allie and her husband, Brian, who used to live next door to us. When Allie and I first met, we quickly discovered that we both share the same food philosphy of using fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch. We made sure to get some cooking time together during my visit. It has been two and a half years since Allie and I have seen each other, but it was like she never left--we just picked up where we left off. Friendships like that are the best.
We made Broccoli Slaw from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which is one of my favorite salads ever. Also, Allie's kitchen has the best light--she has four floor-to-ceiling windows with indirect light flooding her kitchen. It's a food blogger's dream!
The last day of my visit, Allie and I prepared a delicious dinner together. For our appetizer, Allie assembled a beautiful platter of insalata caprese with gorgeous tomatoes from a local farmer's market.
I made Chicken Parmigiana with my homemade Sugo di Pomodoro. It was fantastic if I do say so myself! For dessert, we made Ina Garten's shortcakes which we topped with mixed organic berries and fresh whipped cream.
This is Allie and Brian's new dog, Sadie. Isn't she the cutest?! Basset Hounds are quite sweet and I loved on her the entire weekend.
When I go out of town and Peter stays home, he always tells me that Sienna gets very sad and unsettled. She roams the house sniffing all around, doesn't eat much, and lays by the door to the garage just waiting. It breaks my heart. Once I'm back home and she's with both her humans, she is one happy girl!
We have a brand new Costco in our area! I love Costco. I don't buy produce there since the quantities are too large for our two-person household, but I do buy avocados there. They are large, very fresh and always ripen at the same time so I can make guacamole, avocado toast, or enjoy them in salads.
I found these apple chips at Costco and gave them a try. I was a little apprehensive buying a large bag of a product I've never tried before, but I'm glad I did. These are my new favorite snack! Bonus: they are organic.
The other day, I was browsing in Anthropologie and finally bought myself a mug I have wanted for a long time. I love the curvy shape, whimsical pattern and the lowercase initial. I'm using my my new mug to drink my new favorite tea.
This past weekend, Peter and I super-cleaned our garage and back patio. When we finished, we ran some errands and I picked up some new herbs for my planter. I planted three of my favorite Italian herbs: oregano, basil and rosemary. I hope I can keep them alive and thriving...I don't have the greenest thumb!
Speaking of grocery stores, our area is getting a Trader Joe's! I'm very excited about it. It will only be a short ten-minute drive from our house. What are your favorite products to buy at Trader Joe's?
Have you ever wondered how bakers get even, flat cake layers for gorgeous layer cakes? Wonder no more! My friend Annalise tells you how you can bake up beautifully even cake layers in this post. I am definitely going to bookmark and try this. Annalise always has great baking tips on her blog.
I really need to make this salad ASAP.
Last week, I discovered a new blog called Kitchen Joy. Mandy and I have already chatted on Twitter and I'm loving her blog. She and her husband are about to move to Italy, and of all places--Treviso--the town where my paternal grandparents were from and where I spent almost every summer of my childhood. I will be living vicariously through her for sure!
Another favorite new-to-me blog is The Yellow House. I love the elegant simplicity of her photographs and writing.
I love earrings and this Etsy shop has some adorable and very colorful earrings to add to your jewelry box. I think I "need" a few more pairs.
Spring in Texas means that Texas wildflowers are blooming all over! This website has beautiful pictures of the Texas state flower, the Bluebonnet, as well as the other wildflowers that bloom in our great state.
Now that season 4 of Downton Abbey is over, I've been watching Mr. Selfridge on PBS. Season 2 just began so if you haven't watched this show before, there is still time to get caught up on Season 1. It is a fantastic show and the acting is impeccable. Jeremy Piven is superb.
I'll be back soon with a new recipe. A presto!
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