Friday, February 5, 2016

kitten bowl weekend!

almost everyone will be tuning into the super bowl on sunday, but don't forget to check out the kitten bowl on the hallmark channel on sunday too!  we have watched it the past few years with leko, and it's always so cute!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, February 4, 2016


this time of the year is always difficult to navigate.  however, i recently found solace in two quotes that i stumbled across at exactly the right moment:

"at some point you just have to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening." - unknown

"nothing can bring you peace but yourself." - ralph waldo emerson

wishing everyone inner peace today.
love, laurie

. . .

ps: the metal butterfly sculpture is by artist david kracov.  ryan and i have actually seen several of his butterfly pieces in person in nyc and they are beautiful and fascinating. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

vegetarian tamale casserole

on sundays we love to cook and make big dinners to last us all week long.  it sure makes life easy to come home on a weeknight and just heat something up in the microwave.  recently we made this vegetarian tamale casserole.  it really reminded me of a mexican version of shepherd's pie, with polenta on top instead of mashed potatoes.  this is healthy comfort food with a kick of spice.  the recipe makes enough for leftovers to last all week long.

vegetarian tamale casserole
prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 90 minutes
yields: 8 servings
adapted from annie's eats

2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 (15 oz.) can black beans
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups cornmeal

preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.  lined a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  drain the cans of diced tomatoes, but reserve 2 cups of the liquid.  in a large bowl, combine the drained tomatoes, chopped onion, minced garlic, oil, and salt/pepper to taste.  toss to combine, then spread evenly on the foil-lined baking sheet.  roast for 35-40 minutes, until the veggies begin to brown around the edges.

remove the veggies from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.  transfer the roasted veggies to a blender.  add the chipotle, chili powder, lime juice, and the reserved 2 cups of tomato juice.  puree until just slightly chunky.  in a large bowl combine the blended sauce with the rinsed and drained beans, corn, cilantro, and oregano.  toss to combine.  evenly distribute into a 9x13 baking dish.  evenly spread the shredded cheese on top.  set aside

in a saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil.  slowly add the cornmeal while whisking vigorously to prevent clumping.  reduce the heat to medium-low and whisk until the cornmeal softens and the mixture thickens (about 3 minutes).  remove from the heat and spread over the casserole with a spatula.

place the casserole on a baking sheet to avoid a mess if it bubbles over.  cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  remove the foil and continue to bake for 30 minutes, until the crust begins to brown and the filling bubbles.  let cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.

love, laurie

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

punxsutawney leko

last night i explained groundhog day to leko and he thought it was pretty silly that phil the groundhog got so much attention.  this morning he was really excited to look for his shadow on groundhog, excuse me i mean "groundkitten" day.  as soon as it was morning, he came running over to my side of the bed to wake me up.  leko sat near three different windows in three different parts of the house to see if he cast a shadow.  after careful kitten data collection and analysis, leko decided that he did not see his shadow this morning and leko predicts an early spring!  (as it turns out, that silly phil did the same out in punxsutawney this morning too.)

happy groundhog day!
love, laurie

Monday, February 1, 2016


yesterday morning, my mom and i took a free self-defense class for women along with two family friends.  the class was lead by ufc fighter ashlee evans-smith who is a professional mixed martial artist.  the group of about 35 women learned how to defend themselves and how to escape from an attacker's grasp.  it certainly was interesting and we learned a lot, but i have to say, my muscles sure are sore this morning!  here are a few pictures from the workshop . . .

love, laurie

. . . 

photo credit: my mma news

Friday, January 29, 2016

what we're watching right now

thank goodness it's friday!  this week has been crazy, and we are definitely looking forward to relaxing this weekend.  luckily, we have minimal plans.  one of our favorite ways to relax is to curl up with leko and catch up on our favorite shows.  (of course, there's always food involved too!)  here's what we are obsessed with watching right now . . .

modern family - abc
the middle - abc
life in pieces - cbs
fixer upper - hgtv
flip or flop - hgtv
big time rv - travel channel
younger - tv land
the pioneer woman - food network

what are you watching?
love, laurie

Thursday, January 28, 2016

vegan cleansing detox soup

starting in the fall straight through to the winter, i feel like all we do is eat!  it all starts with halloween candy in october, followed by my dad's birthday and thanksgiving in november, followed by my mom's birthday and christmas in december, followed by new years eve/day, and then my birthday in the beginning of january.  it's an endless stream of gatherings involving food that yield a ton of left overs for four straight months.  don't get me wrong, i absolutely love it, but it certainly takes a toll on my waistline.

now that the holidays and my birthday are behind us, we are trying to get ourselves back on track and eat better.  say hello to this vegan cleansing detox soup!  perfect for this time of year especially.  this soup is cleansing because it is packed full of veggies, and it is free of oil.  a detox soup doesn't have to be boring.  oh no, it has tons of flavor!  this recipe will make enough for leftovers to last you all week long, and a bowl of this warm soup is ideal on a cold winter day.

vegan cleansing detox soup
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 25 minutes
yields: 8 servings
adapted from the glowing fridge

1/2 cup water
1/2 spanish onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 small tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 small head of broccoli, florets
1 cup kale, de-stemmed and chopped
1 cup napa cabbage, chopped
1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced

in a large pot over medium heat, warm the water.  add the onion and garlic.  saute for 2 minutes, stirring  occasionally.  add the celery, carrots, tomatoes, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.  stir and cook for 3 minutes (adding extra water as needed).  add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  add the broccoli, kale, cabbage, and lemon juice.  simmer for 5 minutes, until the broccoli and cabbage are tender.

love, laurie

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

happy national chocolate cake day!

today is national chocolate cake day, and i can't think of a better thing to celebrate on a wednesday!  i absolutely love chocolate cake!  here's a little chocolate cake history for today . . .

according to the dover post, the first chocolate cake was born in 1765 when a doctor and a chocolate maker teamed up at an old mill and ground cocoa beans between huge millstones to make a thick syrup.  they poured the syrupy liquid into molds shaped like cakes.

the earliest chocolate cake recipe was published in 1847 in "the lady's receipt book."  the recipe was written by a popular philadelphia cookbook author named eliza leslie.

the first boxed cake mix was created by the "o. duff and sons" company in the late 1920s, and betty crocker released their first dry cake mix in 1947.

in honor of national chocolate cake day today, here are some of our favorite chocolate cake recipes that we have made and loved over the past few years:

chocolate buttermilk cake
chocolate sour-cream cake
chocolate s'mores cake
- chocolate hazelnut cake
chocolate peanut butter pretzel cake
chocolate peanut butter checkerboard cake
andes mint chocolate cake
chocolate-raspberry sacher torte
chocolate beet cake
chocolate zucchini cake
german chocolate cake
chocolate cupcakes
- chocolate pancakes

enjoy this sweet day!
love, laurie

. . .

"all you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."
- charles m. schulz 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

mini cranberry coffee cake loaves

we really enjoyed staying at home all weekend and not leaving the house, and a lazy winter sunday morning at home in our pajamas called for a fun breakfast.  since we had fresh cranberries at home, i made cranberry coffee cake for breakfast.  it was a lovely treat to go alongside our scrambled eggs.

the cake is super moist and delicious, and the flavor of the tart cranberries goes so well with the sweet batter and the streusel topping.  instead of making one large coffee cake, or individual muffins, i made two mini loafs.  (my mom found these adorable mini loaf pans at michael's craft store last winter.)  i love a recipe that only makes a small amount.  one mini loaf was the perfect size to share, which meant we had one for breakfast and one leftover to enjoy the next day.

mini cranberry coffee cake loafs
prep time: 10 minutes
baking time: 30-35 minutes
yields: 2 mini loafs (5 inch by 3 inch)
adapted from dessert for two

muffin ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup fresh cranberries

streusel ingredients:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  in a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, sour cream, beaten egg, vanilla, sugar, salt, and spices.  sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into the mixture.  whisk together to combine.  fold in the cranberries.  in a separate bowl, stir together all of the streusel ingredients with a fork.

grease two mini loaf pans.  fill the pans half way with the batter, then add about 1/4 of the streusel mixture on top on each.  pour the remaining batter on top and cover with the remaining streusel mixture.  place the loaf pans on a baking sheet, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loafs comes out clean.  let cook in the pan for 15 minutes before serving.

love, laurie

Monday, January 25, 2016

snow storm . . . what snow storm?

all of last week, people in the northeast were in a tizzy as meteorologists insisted that we would get clobbered by a massive snowpocalypse storm this weekend.  there was so much hype, it was ridiculous.  we came straight home from work on friday night and hunkered down, shovels ready, waiting for several feet of snow.  we were rather surprised to wake up to absolutely no snow on saturday morning.  finally around 10am, a few flakes began to fall, but that was it.  it only snowed for about 3 hours or so, and it was barely enough snow to cover the grass.  then it stopped and was over.  for the rest of the day on saturday, we kept waiting for more, but nothing came.  we really couldn't believe it!  the sun came out on sunday and melted almost all of the little bit of snow that we got.  even though we only got just slightly more than a dusting, other areas around us didn't make out as well.  both my parents and ryan's parents got a ton of snow!

the "snow storm" (or lack there of) gave us a good excuse to stay at home all weekend.  we spent the entire weekend at home relaxing and cuddling on the couch with leko watching tv.  it was luxurious!  the best part about the "snow storm" this weekend was that we didn't even have to shovel!

love, laurie