Roasted Stuffed Pepper Casserole

So the plan for dinner tonight was stuffed peppers. Then I remembered my sweet husband is not a huge fan of them…crap. Luckily for me, however, he is a big fan of mixing random ingredients together in one pan and then smothering them with cheese. I started concocting and came up with my own version of a stuffed pepper casserole.

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Inspired by my deep adoration for roasted red peppers (I mean really, is there anything better?) I started to mentally piece together this dish. The result was quite fabulous. The husband and child were quite pleased and are looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow. This feels like a total mom win!

Interested in this cheesy, red pepper goodness? Check out the recipe below!

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Falling Down the Rabbit Hole…

Don’t ask me what started it, but one of the biggest obsessions in my life is party planning.  Ever since my own wedding, I’ve been infatuated with all things event.  There’s just something therapeutic about taking a million little details and turning them into something beautiful and unforgettable. You may have noticed my absence from this little verbal sanctuary the past couple of weeks.  Well that’s because I was helping to put together one of the most amazing parties I’ve ever had the chance to be a part of…an Alice in Wonderland themed bridal shower.

One of my best friends, Elena, is getting married next month, and I have the extreme pleasure to serve as her matron of honor.  For years and years, I’ve known that if given the chance to throw her a shower it would undoubtedly take place in Wonderland.  There’s just something about this whimsical tale that screams Elena (not to mention, it’s one of her personal favorites!)  When she and her amazing fiancé got engaged last New Years Eve, I was beyond ecstatic.  Not only was my friend marrying the love of her life, but I’d finally have the chance to plan this shower I’d been dreaming of.

After months of planning (okay, let’s be real…I’ve been scheming for years), her shower took place this past weekend.  It was just as beautiful as I’d hoped it would be, and the bride was over the moon.  Here’s some party pics for you to drool over!

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Our gorgeous table was set-up outside by the bride’s parents pool.
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We found a variety of old teapots that we spray painted gold and filled with gorgeous flowers.
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We took plastic costume hats and turned them into our own adorable versions of the Hatter’s 10/6 hat. 
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The cake (courtesy of CG’s Cakes) featured edible versions of the book’s classic black and white illustrations.
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Myself and the beautiful bride

This party was truly an affair to remember.  I’m still so happy that I had the opportunity to be a part of it!  Now bring on the wedding!

So Delish! – My Version of a White Bean and Spinach Ragout

I have to admit, I’ve been pretty lazy in the kitchen here lately.  There’s been lots of throwing simple things together, or running through drive thru’s on the way home.  There’s also a possibility the local Chinese place is on our speed dial.

Needless to say, I thought my husband deserved a dinner that didn’t come out of a carry out container, so I decided to try out a recipe I found on, Ooh La Raw. It’s called white bean and spinach “ragout,” which apparently translates into stew.  Thank you, Google.

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It’s a delicious blend of fresh veggies, cannelini beans, and an incredible tomato sauce.  The original recipe suggests serving over polenta so that’s what we did, but we both agreed it would be perfect over pasta, too.  A word of warning if you go the polenta route, however; apparently, our local Publix wasn’t too sure it actually existed.  They eventually found one package in the back of the store and informed my husband that it had been ordered by mistake since nobody ever buys it.  Interesting…

So here goes nothing.  This is my spin on the original recipe.  My husband and I couldn’t get enough.  It was a pretty easy dinner to throw together, but tasted like something that took some serious time and energy!

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First things first, dice up your mushrooms, red bell pepper and onion.  Throw those into your pan and let them sauté until the onions are nice and brown.  After that, add in your tomato paste and wine.  Once you’ve let the wine cook down a little, stir in your broth and roma tomatoes.

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For quality assurance purposes, don’t forget to sample your ingredients throughout the cooking process!  I just love cooking with wine…don’t you?

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Bring this mixture to a boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Salt and pepper to suit your own personal fancy.  I never quite follow the recipes when it comes to spices; I must warn you.  Just taste as you go and give it any extra flare you think that it needs  Finally, add in your spinach and allow it to wilt.  Serve over hot polenta.

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Bon appétit!

Ingredients:

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper

2 cloves of garlic

3 T tomato paste

1 t Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 C dry white wine

3 roma tomatoes

1/2 C vegetable broth

1 bay leaf

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 C spinach

1/2 t basil

polenta (or pasta)

Directions:

  1. Saute onion, red pepper, mushrooms, and garlic in oil over medium high heat until the onions begin to brown.
  2. Add in your tomato paste and wine.  Allow the wine to cook down before adding in the fresh tomatoes, vegetable broth, red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.
  3. Add in your beans and lower the heat. Salt and pepper to taste.  Allow the mixture to simmer for around fifteen minutes.
  4. After removing the bay leaf, stir in your spinach and basil.  On low heat, stir occasionally as the spinach wilts.
  5. Serve over hot polenta, or pasta.

Tip: I heated the polenta over medium heat and added small amounts of water at a time to help make it creamy.

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

So last weekend, this happened…

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Ahhh!  The first pumpkin spice latte of the year is always a monumental moment in my life.  It means that summer’s scorching hot days are coming to a close (although it will still be hot as heck!), and that it’s time for me to bust out my multitude of Fall decorations.  So what if there’s no leaves changing color or temperatures that provide brisk autumn days…Florida Fall still counts!

We’ll rock our boots and sweaters, even if they’re accompanied by a sheen of sweat.  We’ll still accessorize with cute scarves and hats.  Slow cookers fill with soups and stews, while our ovens are blessed with casseroles and pie.

Fall is Hocus Pocus, Bath and Body Works candles and pumpkin scented soap.  Just the idea of September, October and November gives me the warm and fuzzies.  This is the time that I start to prepare my recipes for Thanksgiving Day, and plot my plan of attack for Black Friday night.

No doubt about it, this if my favorite time of year.  So grab your loved ones and hit up the first pumpkin festival you can find.  Then go home and eat an abundance of turkey…the glorious Fall season is finally here!

A New Orleans State of Mind

I’m feeling a little homesick today.  That’s a strange thing to say when you consider the fact that I’m currently sitting in my hometown going through the motions of my normal day-to-day routine.  You see, my dear friends, I’m not talking about my literal home.  I’m talking about the place that makes my heart sing and puts a jaunty, little skip in my step…New Orleans

The great Louis Armstrong once posed the question, “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?”  Well Louis, the answer is yes; I most certainly do.  Even before I’d actually set foot on the sacred cobblestone streets of the crescent city, I had an elaborate infatuation with it.  There was something so mysterious about its history and reputation that just sucked me in.  When most people think of New Orleans, they think of Bourbon Street and partying until they puke.  When I think of New Orleans, I think of the most amazing food I’ve ever tasted.  I think of jazz and gorgeous architecture.  I think of the most delicious cocktails you can imagine and the sweetest people that you can meet.

New Orleans is my happy place and on this dreary Florida day, I’m longing for my old friend.  What I wouldn’t give to take a stroll down Royal Street or to stop by the Central Grocery for an authentic muffaletta.  I miss the risky business of eating a fresh beignet at Cafe du Monde without breathing to heavy and winding up coated in powdered sugar.

I miss the open-air ambiance of the French Market and all of its quaint, kitschy finds.  I miss being pulled a million different directions by the music as I wander down Frenchman Street.  I miss the dozens of offers to tell me where I got my shoes for just a $1 (if you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about!)  Disgustingly, I may even miss the smell of yesterday’s “something” baking on the streets.  Don’t ask what the something is…I don’t think any of us want to know.

All of these minute elements are a part of the city’s overall make-up.  They create this world of wonder where everyone is made to feel at home and has the opportunity to try the kinds of things they’d never dream of doing on any regular day.  Ten years ago, nature tried to destroy this beautiful place, and I suppose in a sense it succeeded.  But here’s the thing about New Orleans, the kind of love that surrounds its streets won’t let it fall.  It’s been lifted back up and continues to thrive the way it always has and always will.

My husband likes to laugh at me because I’m already dreaming of Haddie’s first trip to the Big Easy.  He asks, “What are we going to do with a little kid in New Orleans?”  Well, my sweet husband, it’s not so much about doing; it’s about letting her soak it all in.  I hope that she obsesses over this glorious city the same way I do.  I can see it now; we’ll be holding hands as we stroll along the Mississippi while she slurps down a snowball and I knock back a hurricane or two.  And Daddy will be right along side us with a neon green hand grenade resting snugly in his cup holder.  We’re coming back for you, New Orleans…just you wait and see!

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