What’s that? Two cooking posts in a row? Aren’t I a little icon of domesticity these days? (Of course, “in a row” might be considered a stretch since my last post was a couple weeks ago. Oh, life with a baby!)
Anyway. As I said last time (because nothing has changed in my life, guys), I’m cooking more. Blah blah blah blah anecdotes.
The point is, I cooked this thing the other day, and it turned out pretty tasty, and now I’m sharing it with you.
Truth be told, it was one of those days when I had a few key ingredients in my fridge (in this case, gnocchi and chicken) and I decided to scan the interwebs for recipes I could make using said key ingredients. I found something that was generally what I was looking for, but I had to fill in a lot of gaps and improvise since I didn’t have everything that the original recipe called for. In this case, I substituted my favorite spices and a container of takeout Chinese broccoli left over from lunch the day before. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Or, in this case, leftovers I don’t want to throw out are the mother of dinner. Or something.
As I said, though, the resulting dish was met with positive reviews, so I figured it was worth a post. Especially considering the only other posts I have rolling around my head are Vivi updates (keep your eye out for her two-month post…it’s coming next week) and thoughts on my new life as a housewife. I’ll get around to those. Probably. At some point.
Gnocchi, Chicken, and Broccoli Bake
3 T olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups broccoli (or Chinese broccoli, which is what I used because multicultural fanciness!), roughly chopped
1 tsp rosemary
Salt and pepper
2 T butter
2 T whole wheat flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
2 chicken breasts, baked and shredded
1 package whole wheat gnocchi
Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
Add the broccoli, rosemary, salt, and pepper; cook until softened, about 10-12 minutes.
Remove veggie mixture from skillet and put into a bowl. Set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
Add butter to the skillet and melt. Stir in flour until mixed thoroughly.
Add the chicken broth, almond milk, and cinnamon. Cook until slightly thickened, about five minutes.
Stir in chicken and gnocchi until coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake until slightly golden, about 20 minutes.
Allow to stand five minutes before serving. Enjoy!
I used to cook a lot when I was single and then when Joey and I first got married. I even had a whole section of this blog dedicated to what I dubbed my Kitchen Adventures.
But then around the time I was living on Long Island, I got a job back in the city and suddenly had a much longer commute to contend with. So Joey started taking over cooking duties. It started with a few nights a week, but it eventually became one of his primary responsibilities around the house.
What can I say? He’s good at it, and I’m a sucker for a man who can cook.
Over the last year or so, it has evened out a bit more as to who is wielding the spatula in our kitchen. But now that I’m home every day with the baby, I’ve tried to pick up more of the cooking slack. I mean, it’s not like I have tons of free time when I’m home, but I like to think that by taking one thing off Joey’s plate (by, you know, putting something on his plate) I’m giving him more time to spend with the Vivster when he gets home.
All of that is a long way of saying that I actually have a new recipe to post! My transition into total housewife is almost complete, you guys.
It all started with my book club. I’m in a club that meets about every two months. We try to read a variety of books in different genres and styles, and we do what we can to theme the food we eat to the book.
This month, we read Jane Austen’s Persuasion. After the necessary choices like tea and pastries had been covered by other book club members, someone suggested a meat pie of sorts to add some heartiness to the meal. I still hadn’t offered to bring anything yet, so I offered to make some kind of mini chicken pot pie. (Mostly because I had no idea what other kinds of meat pies exist, and I was scared to google it.)
After I made my offer, I decided it could be fun to create my own recipe using some of my favorite fall veggies. I’ve been cooking with a lot of fall produce lately, and I’ve never met a root vegetable I didn’t like. So the idea for my Mini Chicken Pot Pies with Fall Veggies was born.
The great thing about this recipe is that you could sub in basically any kind of vegetables you like, so get creative! Here’s what I used:
1 chicken breast, baked and diced
1 cups kale, roughly chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits
The most time consuming part of the recipe is chopping all of the veggies, but I promise it’s worth it.
When I made this, I accidentally made way too much of the veggie mixture, so I used the leftovers to make a bigger chicken pot pie for Joey and me the next day. Dontcha love a twofer? The result was pretty delicious, and also pretty, well, pretty. Autumn is totally the best season, folks.
I also recently made a stuffed acorn recipe and salmon with roasted root veggies, but I forgot to take photos. If I make it again soon (which I probably will), I’ll write posts for those too.
What are your favorite fall recipes? Do you love root veggies as much as I do?
I’m a pretty lucky girl in that my husband does most of the cooking in our house. Occasionally, if he’s stressed with work or I’m craving something really specific, I’ll dust off my rusty culinary skills and whip up a little something, but in general, the kitchen is his domain.
Sometimes, though, neither of us is in the mood to do anything after work except to flop on the couch and have someone hand us a meal. That usually results in a sizable Seamless order, but recently we learned about a new option.
I’d like to introduce you to Kitchensurfing, an on-demand personal chef service where you can have a professional chef come to your home, prepare a meal, and clean up before you even sit down to eat. The result? A healthy, often locally sourced dinner in about 30 minutes time, cooked entirely to order.
Our chef, Claire, was delightful. She arrived promptly (even getting there a few minutes before we did), and quickly set up and started cooking. Joey and I sat at the table nearby and caught up on our days while the aroma of steak started to fill the kitchen.
Before we knew it, Claire was done, the kitchen was cleaned up, and dinner was served. And, you guys? It was gorgeous.
We had the Rosemary Beef Tagliata with Seared Polenta Cakes and an arugula salad with baby artichokes and a balsamic dressing. It was totally delicious.
The most amazing part of this service to us was that, besides being super quick and delicious, it’s not even insanely outside our price-range — at least as an occasional luxury. Weekly pricing (one meal per week) for couples is $59, for a young family is $79, and for a family of four is $95. If you consider what you would spend on an evening out with friends, it’s not that different (and you can do this in your pajamas!). Joey and I could also see using the service again for an anniversary or other special occasion.
Interested in trying it out for yourself? Click here to learn more.
Have you already tried Kitchensurfing? Can YOU think of anything fancier than having a personal chef for the night?
[Disclosure: All Kitchensurfing links used above are affiliate links.]
I love when I promise you guys a post about a certain topic and am actually able to deliver in a reasonable amount of time. You know, instead of cowering around here in shame, avoiding eye contact because I know, I KNOW, you guys.
On a not totally unrelated note, I’m ready to share pictures of Vivian’s nursery! (Can you believe it? Remember 2011 Justine and her empty promises of apartment posts? She was a real flake.)
A while back, I shared the plan for what I wanted to do in our tiny back bedroom, and in general, I didn’t stray too far from that original vision. First, the photos:
Let’s talk details. The first big decision I made about the room was the crib I wanted. I knew I wanted something white and modern that could easily be reused in the future if we had another baby, regardless if it was a boy or a girl. My parents generously offered to purchase this adorable model. If, for whatever reason we don’t have a second tot or we wait a while longer, this crib also converts into a toddler bed so Vivi can get plenty of use out of it. Plus, I LOVE that extra storage drawer for her sheets and the FIVE handmade blankets she has been lovingly given so far.
The first actual purchase I made for her room, though, was this super soft shag rug. Our entire apartment is floored with tile, which while cool in the summer, I imagine will be a little chilly in the colder months. The rug is fluffy and cozy as can be, and I can totally imagine Vivi crawling around on it when she’s a bit older.
Next, I was pretty thrilled to find this mid-century modern dresser on Craigslist after MONTHS of searching. As I said, the room itself is pretty small, so it took a while to find something within my budget that was also the perfect size for the space. This one has been impeccably maintained, and it provides tons of needed storage for the room.
The leaning bookshelf and rolling cart from IKEA were both items we had previously, meaning they didn’t cost a penny to add to the room. Dontcha love that? And considering one of Vivi’s showers was book-themed, it was nice to have a place to display her new library.
The picture frames were all mostly repurposed from other rooms in the apartment or given to me by friends who were doing their own clean-outs. I filled those with some of our maternity pictures and this and this from Etsy. Obviously I have a couple baby stock photos to replace once our actual baby arrives, but you get the idea of how it will look. I was also excited to be able to display the flower crowns my sister-in-law made for our gender reveal party — they match everything perfectly. I also added this light-blocking curtain from Target — in hopes of creating an environment where Vivi will just love to sleep.
Finally, those peonies on the wall. I was inspired to do some kind of flower mural by pictures I spotted on Pinterest, but I have to admit I was pretty nervous when it came time to put paint to wall. I am not really much of an artist (pretty much all of my flowers look like the ones you’re looking at), and I’d never done anything on this scale before. When I painted the first layer, they mostly just looked like coral-y blobs, and I was convinced I had ruined everything. Then I started to even everything out, sort of the way I would pastels or even watercolor paints, and slowly the actual flowers took shape. Adding the stems also really helped to ground the whole thing and keep it from looking too floaty and girlie. Now that everything is in place, I’m glad I went for it and think they give the whole room a lot of character.
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how the whole thing turned out. The room has a really cozy vibe when you first walk in, which, again, will hopefully be helpful in convincing our little lady to learn to sleep through the night quickly. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)
A couple of caveats before I can officially call the room DONE: I’m still waiting on the arrival of our mint glider. That should arrive by September 9th, though, so never fear. I’m planning to put it where you currently see Vivi’s swing chair. (Her chair, by the way? SO COOL. I can control it from my phone. It’s amazing.) I’m also waiting on this bear print that will most likely end up over the dresser somewhere, and this pillow to prop up in the glider.
It’s kind of incredible what a sense of relief I have now that the nursery is baby-ready. (I also spent the weekend packing our hospital bags, so that’s probably giving me a sense of ease as well.) Considering the little lady could make her appearance any time in the next 2-4 weeks (eek!), it’s nice knowing I can check off these huge to-dos. I can’t wait to bring her home!
I’m officially into the third trimester.
Even just writing that sentence fills me with, well, all the feelings.
I’m excited. I’m so, so, so excited that it’s almost time to finally have our little girl in our arms. Joey and I talk every day about how much we can’t wait to meet her and how much we’re looking forward to even the most mundane moments. (Baby’s first yawn? It’s gonna kill me dead.)
I’m nervous. You guys, I’m going to be a mom. That’s…big. One of the biggest things I’ve ever done. I want so much to be good at it without driving anyone (myself included) crazy. That’s a lot of pressure.
I’m (a little) stressed. There is so much I want to do before Vivian makes her grand entrance. Blame it on the nesting, but whatever it is, here’s everything that has been crowding my to-do list:
1. Finish the nursery.
Obviously this is a big one. We’re planning to paint her room this weekend (and I’ll hopefully get a start on the mural wall on Sunday). I also have some frames that I need to paint and fill for her walls. As soon as that’s done, we’ll order the crib. I’ve been looking around on Craigslist for the perfect dresser/changing table, but I haven’t found the right one yet. I also need to start finding alternate places for everything we’ve been storing in the room until now.
2. Organize the hall and front closet.
I’ve mentioned before the weird abundance of closet space our apartment has. The front coat closet and hall closet are two that I feel are a bit underutilized at the moment. Now that we’re much more settled, I want to basically take everything out of each of them and put it back in a way that makes the most sense. Being me, I’m of course weirdly excited to do this. In a similar vein, I also want to reorganize our cellar space. This is largely a room for Joey’s sports equipment and bigger items we don’t have room for, but I think it could be a little neater.
3. Do my bi-annual clothing cull.
I’m very serious about my twice-yearly clothing sorts where I get rid of anything that is cluttering up our closets. Since the little miss will be arriving around the time I usually do my fall closet purge, I’d like to get that taken care of over the summer. (Since, you know, I’ve heard people with newborns are fairly busy people.)
4. Just…generally clean everything?
I think I can definitely blame this one on the nesting, but I want to get at least one deep cleaning in sometime late summer. My mom is planning to spend a week or two with us after Vivi is born, so I know she will be extremely helpful with the general upkeep of the apartment, but I’ll feel better if I know everything has had a fairly recent scrub-down. I also want to finish up any last-minute decor plans I’ve had rolling around my head so I’m not, I don’t know, staring at those spots on the walls that need paint touch-ups in Vivian’s third month. Hypothetically.
5. Get my own maintenance in.
As I said, people with babies seem pretty busy. So I want to get myself in order (as much as possible) before the baby gets here. That means dentist appointments, hair appointments, and any other last-minute things-that-make-me-feel-healthy-and-like-myself appointments needs to be scheduled sometime in August. Think of it as a pre-baby tune-up.
Okay, all written down, this list feels much more manageable. I really need about four solid weekends to get everything done. (Not the easy request since July is already pretty much taken up, but I still think I can get it done.)
Am I forgetting anything?
I’m going to tell you a sad story. It’s called, “The Time I Tried to Make a Cheesecake for a Party.”
And, yes, there is a bit of foreshadowing in that title, isn’t there?
Last week, we found out two of our dear, dear friends were moving to Texas. To send them off in style, a group of us decided to put together a little Western-themed going-away party. Everyone chipped in or offered to bring a certain dish or drink for the party.
I offered to bring a cheesecake because it is one of our friend’s favorite dessert.
Nice enough, right? Sound simple, doesn’t it?
But, as you already know, this is a sad story. And sad stories are rarely nice and simple.
Anyone who has ever made a cheesecake before knows that it’s at least a 2-day process if you’re making the real deal. (Your no-bake Jell-o versions need not apply here.) So, the day before the party, I rounded up the ingredients for a Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake with white chocolate chips (roughly $40 of ingredients because baking is expensive, yo) and got to work after dinner.
It’s also relevant for you to know that my husband’s pal Gregg was over for dinner, and he and Joey watched this whole thing go down.
After dinner, the boys sat around drinking scotch and bonding (I assume) while I went to work in the kitchen. I made my own crust from gluten-free ginger cookies to appease the guests with diet restrictions. I whipped the cream cheese and sour cream and sugar and white chocolate into a fluffy, pillow-y mass. I gently swirled the raspberry jam, thinking fondly of the fresh raspberries I had also purchased to adorn the cake the next day.
When everything had been lovingly combined and assembled, I arranged the springform-bound confection in a water bath and put it in the oven.
It takes almost two hours to bake a cheesecake, so the boys had a great deal of fun asking me at 20-minute intervals if they could eat it yet. Ah…what fun we had…before the incident.
I always get nervous at this stage of cheesecake making because it’s so difficult to tell if it’s truly done. The center should still be a bit wiggly when you take the cake out of the oven because it sets up in the fridge overnight. If you over-bake a cheesecake, it gets a dry, almost powdery consistency that still usually tastes okay but is not as pleasing.
I was even more nervous because my little, old oven is not exactly the most reliable appliance.
But despite my trepidation, I finally got the cake to the correct consistency and set it on the stove to cool for an hour before it was to be refrigerated.
By this time, it was after eleven, and this old lady was quite tired to be up past her bedtime. But after washing all the dishes (because what’s the point of a perfectly prepared dessert if your kitchen is a disaster?) I watched TV with the guys and we chatted amicably about how to make cheesecake (and, no, they still couldn’t eat it).
Around 11:45, I had to call it a night, so I went to put the cheesecake in the fridge.
When I tell this story in person, this is around the time when people start biting their lip or preemptively putting their hands over their mouths in anxiety.
I don’t really have an excuse for what happened next. I mean, I was tired. The cake was kind of heavy. I had it on top of another pan so the butter wouldn’t drip onto the floor. I was holding it with one hand and opening the fridge door with the other.
But really, the excuses don’t matter. What matters is that one second I was opening the fridge door to put the cake in, and the next I was watching it, in slow motion, slide off the tray, nail a 180-degree flip, and then splatter all over the kitchen floor. The springform pan, free of it’s creamy contents, did one of those slow, spin-rattles to a stop.
No one in the apartment breathed for a second. (Well, Bogey did. He was already lunging for the mess.)
A number of thoughts courses through my brain in those seconds.
“That did not just happen.”
“I didn’t even have a chance to clean the floor yet this week.”
“$40 of ingredients.”
“This is why I don’t bake.”
And an assortment of words not becoming of a lady.
I let out a long, slow breath, and started to clean up the mess. Joey tentatively approached me from behind. You know, the way you do a wild animal that might kill you.
“Oh babe…what happened?” he asked.
“I do not want to talk about what just happened,” I seethed through clenched teeth.
“Ok,” he replied quickly. “Do you want me to get the Wet Jet or-”
“I want you to stand there and not say anything.”
“I can do that.”
(Even in the moment, I have to give it up to Joey for just NOT trying to fix it in that moment. I was mad at everything, and he knew getting involved was a surefire way to make me mad at him, too.)
For the record, I didn’t cry then. I didn’t cry while I scooped the (still searing hot) cheesecake back into the pan with my fingers and a large spoon. I didn’t cry while I sponged up the creamy bits the spoon couldn’t get. I didn’t cry while I mopped up the sticky remnants. I took a few shuddery breaths while I washed my hands and face, but I did not cry.
I told the guys I was going to bed. They quickly said, “Ok!” and gave me their best sympathetic glances.
I went to my bedroom and shut the door. And then? Then homegirl sobbed.
To be fair, I probably would have cried even if I wasn’t dealing with Hulk-level hormones lately, but I’m sure it didn’t help.
I heard the guys whispering furtively in the living room for a few minutes. Then a little while later, Gregg went home. Joey came into the bedroom and wrapped me in a bear hug.
“I just want you to know, Gregg and I both think you handled that better than we would have. We agreed that we definitely would have been throwing things.”
“I…don’t…want…to…talk about it,” I heaved through my sobs.
We both went to bed. And the next day, Joey bought a cheesecake for the party. (I wanted nothing to do about it.)
I can laugh about it now, obviously. (Though the next morning, I still wasn’t able to tell the story without getting glossy eyes.) But I just felt like sharing the story on here was the best way to purge it from my system.
So now, I want to hear your sad stories. Share your experiences of baking loves lost in the comments below. And we’ll all bond over wasted ingredients and sticky floors together.