About Me

I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where I also attended college and met the love of my life. I lived in NYC for five years with my husband and Westie, Mack Brown before recently moving all the way across the country to Los Angeles. I'm an amateur chef, total foodie, lover of Westies, sports fanatic and self-proclaimed book worm. You'll find a little bit of all these things I love on this blog. And...most importantly, I'm a new mom to the most precious baby boy, Austn Robert, born this past October.





Austin Robert

Austin Robert

Mack Brown

Mack Brown

Monday, July 30, 2012

Menu Mondays

Happy Monday everyone!  I'm back with a menu this week, as promised.  We just got back from celebrating my brother's wedding in Cleveland over the weekend, and I can't wait to share pictures and details from all the wedding events with you this week (along with some yummy recipes of course!).

Here's what we're eating this week...

Chicken and Pepper Fajitas

Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata
with a green salad

Whole Wheat Linguine with Spicy Shrimp 

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Lemony Asparagus and Potatoes


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Pee-pee Teepee

I was out shopping the other day, and I came across these....

The Pee-pee Teepee

My first thought was honestly...what will they think of next to try and get new parents to spend money?  But, then I got to thinking.  Maybe these could come in handy.  Almost every mommy of a boy that I've ever spoken to has gotten a good spray from their little one many times during a diaper change.  If these work, maybe I could save myself a few unwanted showers. Ha!  Plus, they're cute and come in a huge variety of styles {which is very important for a pee-pee teepee, obviously.}  So, I'm thinking I might give in and buy a pack.  {Plus if they don't actually work for diaper changing, they could be fun to play around with and take embarrassing, I mean cute, photos.  See below...}

Other boy mommies out there, what do you think?  Have you ever used these before?  Do they work?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pepper Jack & Arugula Stuffed Chicken

I know it's Monday, and I should be posting my weekly menu, BUT I don't need one this week.  Why?  See these two beautiful people...

They're getting married this weekend!! {And, I'm counting on THEM feeding me this week :)}

Menu Mondays will be back next week, though. I promise.  In the meantime, will you accept a delicious recipe from my menu last week?  Maybe you can work it into your own menu this week...{wink, wink}

Pepper Jack & Arugula Stuffed Chicken with Succotash

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups baby arugula, chopped
4 oz. pepper-jack cheese (I just eyeballed this)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Cajun Spice Blend 
2 cups frozen edamame
2 yellow summer squash, cut in half and sliced into half-moons
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
juice of 1 lime

Combine the cheese and arugula in a small bowl.  Cut a deep, 2-inch wide opening into the thickest part of each chicken breast.  {I think this is easiest to do if you place one had firmly on top of the chicken breast, and use your dominant hand to cut.  That should hold the chicken in place.}  Stuff the chicken with the arugula mixture.  Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with as much or as little of the Cajun spice blend as you like.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high in a large cast iron skillet.  {If you would prefer, you can also cook the chicken on the grill.  The cooking time would stay the same.}  Add the chicken, and cook on each side for 8-10 minutes.  If you are cooking inside, use a splatter screen!  Once the chicken is cooked all the way through, transfer it to a cutting board to cool slightly.

While the chicken is cooking, heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a second skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the edamame and squash.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the squash is just tender.  Finally, add the tomatoes for another minute or two, and then remove the veggies from the heat.  Add the lime juice, and stir everything together.

Serve the chicken and succotash side-by-side, and you have the perfect, easy {and well-balanced} summertime meal.

Friday, July 20, 2012

28 Weeks

I can't believe that we're already into month 7.  We can't wait to meet our little boy in only a few short months now!  Here are some 28 week highlights:

* Baby is the size of an eggplant and around 2 lbs this week.

*I can now feel Baby Boy rolling and moving around in addition to his little kicks.  So. Cool.

*We had our first childbirth class this past Monday, and I got a great head massage from Brad while I was "learning to breathe." {The head massage is probably NOT what I was supposed to be focusing on...oh well.}

*Nursery progress is being made slowly, but surely.  We have the crib built and all of the rest of the furniture in place {except for the rocker}, but we still need to move out the old mattress.  At that point, the real decorating can begin. Yay!

*And, speaking of babies.  We received this book in the mail last week:

If you are a parent, parent-to-be, or just up for a good laugh, buy this book, and read it.  So. Funny.  It will no doubt provide nice comic relief for Brad and me during those long nights ahead :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Easy Roasted Summer Squash

Not only is roasting summer squash an easy summertime side dish, it's delicious.  I served these roasted squash rounds along side seared halibut with lemon butter, but it would go great with any protein.  And, it only takes 20 minutes to cook. Simple, healthy and perfect for this time of year {especially, if you have some squash growing in your garden!}.

Easy Roasted Summer Squash

2 large zucchini, sliced into half-inch rounds
2 large yellow squash, sliced into half-inch rounds
extra virgin olive oil
lemon pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a large baking dish arrange the summer squash so that they are all lying flat.  Drizzle with the olive, and sprinkle with salt and lemon pepper to taste.  {I didn't really measure anything out here, I just went with what looked and felt right.}

Using your hands, toss the summer squash so that the olive oil, salt and pepper coat both sides of each squash piece.

Place the pan in the oven, and allow the squash to cook for 20 minutes.  Now you have time to cook the rest of the meal while your summer squash is in the oven roasting away!  See I told you it was easy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vampires, Witches, and Demons....Oh My!

Have you heard of the All Soul's Trilogy by Deborah Harkness?  So. Good.  The first book in the series, A Discovery of Witches, was first introduced to me through my book club.  And, in this case, thank goodness for the book club, because this isn't a series I would normally have been interested in reading.  I've never read any of the Twilight books (gasp!) and I'm generally not interested in reading books about supernatural beings like vampires and demons.  {For some reason, I tend to make an exception for books about witches and wizards....ahem....Harry Potter}.  Anyway, from the moment I started reading the first book, I was captivated by this new world that Harkness had created where humans, vampires, witches and demons co-exist {albeit not always peacefully}, and magic and mystery surrounds everything they do.

Here's a review of the first book {thank you Amazon}...

It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having "too much power." So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war. A sparkling debut written by a historian and self-proclaimed oenophile, A Discovery of Witches is heady mix of history and magic, mythology, and love (cue the aforementioned vampire!), making for a luxurious, intoxicating, one-sitting read. --Daphne Durham 

The second book, Shadow of Night, was just released last week, and I have literally spent every free waking hour reading since it arrived on my Kindle.  {Since Brad was out of town over the weekend, I had LOTS of uninterrupted reading time...my favorite!} Shadow of Night was just as good as the first book, if not better, in my opinion.  I won't include the review here because it gives away some of what happens in the first book, and I'd hate to be a spoil sport in case I've convinced you to join me in reading this series.

Both of these books are great summer reads, especially if you're looking for something fun to take with you on vacation.  I'm just warning you now, though, that you will be a sad when you finish the second book. Like Harry Potter sad.  That sad where you don't want to have wait months and months and months for the final book to come out.  But, in the end, it will be worth it :)  Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Southwestern Turkey Stuffed Peppers

One of all-time favorite summertime meals is stuffed peppers.  And, since I always love trying new recipes, I was so excited when I found this recipe for Southwestern Turkey Stuffed Peppers.  I modified the recipe slightly to fit my own tastes, but overall, I kept it pretty much the same.

I actually made this toward the end of last week when Brad was out of town for a bachelor party, and I ate it the entire time he was gone.  It's that good.  This recipe will easily serve 5-6 people.  You stuff the peppers pretty full, so one pepper halve is a full meal all on its own.  If you're just cooking for one or two, don't be afraid to still make the full recipe.  It makes great leftovers.  {Trust me on this one!}

Southwestern Turkey Stuffed Peppers

1/2 lb. dark, ground turkey meat
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups brown rice, cooked
3 green bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
1 can black beans, drained
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 {16 oz.} can of your favorite salsa
Cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Get your rice started cooking first.  Add 2 cups of water to a medium-sized sauce pan.  Bring the water to a boil, and add one cup of the rice.  Stir, return to a boil, and then turn down the heat to medium or medium low, and put the lid on top of the pot.  Watch over the rice making sure that it doesn't over cook.  {I don't have an exact time because I prefer to just keep an eye on my rice rather than time it.}  Once the rice is cooked, measure out 2 cups of rice and place it in a large mixing bowl.  Store the rest of the rice for later recipes.

Spray the bottom of a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Add the peppers to the dish and cook for 25 minutes.

While the rice and peppers are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tbsp. olive oil, the diced onion, and the diced jalapeno.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until translucent.  Next, add the turkey.  Cook all the way through.  Mix together all of the spices in a small bowl, and add 1 tbsp. of the seasoning mix to the cooked turkey.

Remove the skillet from the heat and add the beans, corn, and salsa.  Stir everything together, and pour the turkey mixture into the mixing bowl with the rice.  Mix everything together, and you're ready to stuff the peppers.

Remove the peppers from the oven and stuff them with the turkey/ vegetable mixture.  Place the peppers back in the oven, and cook for another 20 minutes.

Take the peppers back out of the oven about 5 minutes before they are fully cooked, and sprinkle the cheddar cheese generously on top.  Cook for another 5 minutes, and serve with your favorite toppings.  I added a little extra salsa on top and some sour cream, but you could also add crumbled tortilla chips, cilantro, avocado, or anything else that sounds delicious to you!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Menu Mondays

Happy Monday everyone!  As promised, here's what we'll be eating this week...

Sushi @ Sushi Time {our favorite neighborhood sushi spot}
After dinner we're heading to our first childbirth class! Time is flying...

Burgers with Balsamic Shallots and Roasted Green Beans

Dinner out with friends

Pepper Jack Chicken with Summer Vegetable Succotash

Herb-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Potatoes and Lemony Asparagus


"Turkey Burger" Turkey Meatloaf with Cauliflower Puree

{Tomorrow I'll be posting the recipe for my Southwestern Turkey Stuffed Peppers from last week's menu, so check back!}

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Creamy Spaghetti Squash Primavera

I've cooked spaghetti squash many times and served it as a side dish, but this was the first time I had ever used it as a replacement for pasta.  Wow.  I had no idea what I was missing.  It was absolutely delicious, and honestly, neither Brad nor I missed the actual pasta.  The vegetables that I used gave it a fresh, summery taste, and the goat cheese perfectly melted into the vegetables and squash to create a creamy, tangy sauce.

One quick note: Don't be intimated by the spaghetti squash.  They are rather large, and can sometimes be difficult to cut, but it you stick the squash in the microwave for a couple of minutes, the squash will soften slightly, and your job becomes much easier.  After that, all you have to do is roast it in the oven, allow the squash some time to cool, and then use a fork to scoop out the flesh.  As you scoop, it turns into perfect "spaghetti-like" strings all on its own.

Creamy Spaghetti Squash Primavera 
Serves 4

1 large spaghetti squash
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 green pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
6 oz. garlic and herb goat cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the spaghetti squash in the microwave on high for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.  Using a very sharp knife, cut off the end of the squash, and then set the squash up on its now-flat side and slice it in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and soft flesh, like you would a pumpkin, and then place the two squash halves on a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before scooping out the stringy flesh.

While the squash is cooking, prepare your vegetables.  When the squash is out of the oven, begin cooking the vegetables in a large frying pan.

Add the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat, and toss in the onions and peppers.  Cook for about 5 minutes before adding the mushrooms.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Finally add the tomatoes, and cook for 2 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Finally add the goat cheese.  As you stir, it will melt and cover all the vegetables.  Turn the heat to low.

Once you have scooped out the spaghetti squash, add it to the creamy vegetables and stir.  You may need to add a couple tablespoons of milk to help loosen up the sauce enough to coat all the squash.

Serve hot and with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Westie Wednesday

Brad and I started moving furniture out of the guest bedroom this weekend to start turning it into a nursery for the baby. Poor Mack is less than thrilled with the changes taking place.  I'm pretty sure he considered considers the guest bedroom his own.  {Should be interesting when we bring a little person home with us to live in there permanently come October!}  We used to have our old bed in the room, and ever since he was a puppy, his favorite place to hide and hang out during the day was under that bed.  {Unfortunately, he can't quite fit under the bed that is now is our bedroom.}  We took the bed down this weekend, and Mack is NOT happy about it.

Here's a picture of Mack in his all his glory, "hiding" under the bed.

And, here's what he looks like now when he goes in the room.  Poor thing goes to the exact same spot to lay down that he used to when we would find him under the bed.  Oh dear.

We're hoping that once we have the crib assembled, he'll be able to make a new hide-out spot under there.  I'll keep you posted :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Basil-Lemon Chicken Salad

I have two girlfriends in LA who are also pregnant with little boys due in October.  We have so much fun getting together every month or so to talk and share our experience with one another.  It's such a blessing having these ladies in my life during this time!

For our last get together, I invited the girls over to relax poolside, and I cooked up a light summertime lunch menu for us to enjoy while we talked.  This basil-lemon chicken salad was by far my favorite thing that I served.  By roasting bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in the oven instead of boiling boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the stove top, the chicken came out perfectly moist.  Roasting versus boiling takes a little more time and effort, but it is SO worth it.

Instead of making chicken salad sandwiches, I decided to serve the salad in tomato cups, which not only added a pop of color, but was delicious to eat with the chicken salad inside.  You, of course, do not have to take this extra step.  This chicken salad would be great on bread or just eaten with whole-wheat crackers (which is how I ate all the leftovers!).  But, it does make for a great presentation!

Basil-Lemon Chicken Salad

3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (this should yield approximately 4 cups of diced chicken)
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil mayo
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the chicken breasts on a cookie sheet, skin-side up.  Drizzle the breasts with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 40 minutes or until done.  Allow the chicken to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.  Once cooled, remove the chicken from the bone, and dice into bite-size pieces.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayo, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, basil and green onions.  Stir to combine.  Add the chicken and mix well.  Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  To make the tomato cups, I used tomatoes-on-the-vine because I liked their size, not too big and not to small.  Cut off the tops and discard.  Using a paring knife, cut around the inside of the tomato to release the ribs from the sides.  Use a spoon to scoop out the remaining seeds, flesh and ribs.  Finally, stuff the tomatoes full of the chilled chicken salad.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Menu Mondays

Whenever possible, Brad and I always try to cook-in during the week, especially since we usually don't know what we are going to be up to or doing on the weekends, and we generally end up eating out or getting take-out most Saturdays and Sundays.

If you know anything at all about me, you know that I am a planner.  And a list maker.  So naturally, ever since we've been married one of my favorite things to do at the beginning of a new week is to make plan for what I will be cooking for the week, and then make an extensive grocery list (a habit that I get from my mother....thanks Mom!).  Yes, planning out your menu for the week and making a list of everything you need can be time consuming at first, but, trust me, it becomes easier and quicker the more you do it.  And, it keeps you from over-purchasing at the grocery store and/ or buying things that might go to waste because you don't really have a plan for them.

In the spirit of getting my blog back up and running, I wanted to start sharing my menu for the week with you all each Monday.  Maybe it will inspire you to cook along with me.  Maybe it will help you begin your own weekly menu planning.  Or maybe all you fellow bloggers will start sharing your weekly menus with all of us, too.  As always, I'll post my favorite recipes that I make each week on my blog.  So, if something on the the menu sounds good to you, keep checking back for the recipe to come.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Creamy Spaghetti Squash Primavera

Grilled Halibut with Salsa Verde and Roasted Summer Squash

Grilled Chicken and Orange Skewers with Grilled Asparagus

Southwestern Turkey Stuffed Peppers


What's on your menu for the week?

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane...

I've been such a bad blogger lately {really since the beginning of February}.  As a result, I haven't blogged about many of the fun and exciting things that have been going on in our lives.  So as boring as this post may be for many of you, I wanted to take the time {finally!!}, to record the last SIX {yikes!} months of our lives{even if it's admittedly mostly for my own memory's sake.}  I love having a place where I can look back at the places we've been, things we've done and the food we've eaten.

I'm going to go month by month, briefly commenting on where we were, what we were doing and who we were with, so I apologize at the start for the length of this post.  Feel free to stop reading at any point if you get bored :)

Without further ado...


Brad and I celebrated Valentine's Day with dinner at Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica.  I don't have any pictures from our dinner, but I still wanted to include this because every year we try to remember what we did/ where we ate the previous year, and we are having a harder and harder time remembering! Ha!  We were SO EXCITED about eating here, as we had heard great things about it, but we were SO disappointed.  Although we had a reservation, we had to wait an extra hour and a half to be seated.  Once we were seated, we were stuck outside in a cold corner, and to top it all off the food was more than disappointing.  Small portion sizes, terrible, slow service, and just average taste.  But, we still made the best of the situation, and enjoyed a fun, memorable night together.

A few days later my parents made the trip out to LA to visit us.  This was my dad's first trip to the west coast, and my mom's first time visiting California since she was a child, so we really tried to make the trip as memorable for them as possible.

We took a sightseeing bus tour through Hollywood where my parents got to see Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood High School (where the outdoor bleacher scene in Grease was filmed), and learn many fun facts about Hollywood old and new.

For my mom's birthday, we spent the day visiting wineries in Malibu.

Don't worry.  I wasn't really drinking here :)

We hiked down to our favorite beach spot in Malibu, El Matador Beach.

And, we took a VIP tour of Paramount Studios, which was my favorite part of their trip.  {I think my parent's favorite part of the trip was our visit to Trader Joe's. Ha!  They LOVED TJ's great wine prices, but the again, who wouldn't?}

We had such a great time with them here!!


March was a sad month for us, which you can read about here.  Brad spent most of the month at home with his family in CT.


I finally had the chance to head back to NYC for the first time since moving west, and I got to spend a few days with Brad, his mom and his sister.  We began cleaning out and packing up Brad's childhood bedroom in preparation for Marsha to sell the house.

After my trip to NY/ CT, I flew down to Virginia to help host by sister-in-law-to-be Kelsey's bridal shower with several of my mom's girlfriends.  We threw a wine and cheese shower.

Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of the cute invitations we sent out, but here was the inspiration:

                                           Wine Party Invitation and Tags

 We also included a wine tag in each invitation and asked guests to bring a bottle of wine for Paul and Kelsey to share during their first year of their marriage.  {I don't think they're going to run out anytime soon!} Here is a horrible, blurry photo of the the wine table.  We also had everyone sign a wine cork when they arrived for Kelsey and Paul.  If you look closely, you can see that basket on the table as well.

Sorry for the lack of pictures...my camera battery literally died after the first couple pictures.  Sigh.


The month of May, as always, was a busy month for us.  Sarah came to visit during the first week.  We took her to Disneyland and California Adventure for a couple of days while she was here.  It was here first time visiting any of the Disney parks, and she we all had a blast...even though I had to do a lot of sitting around and waiting.  Don't worry, I was a total nerd, a brought a good book along, so I didn't get bored.  

Sarah's favorite ride by far was California Screamin' at California Adventure, and she LOVED Fantasmic at Disneyland Park.  We had a delicious dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney, and enjoyed a peaceful night's rest at Disney's Grand Californian.  Such a fabulous hotel, by the way, if you are ever visiting Disneyland and need to place to stay.  The hotel is not only situated right in the middle of Downtown Disney, but it also has a entrance in and out of California Adventure.

Yes, we made her wear this button the entire trip!

After Sarah left, Brad and I headed to Maui for our babymoon/ upcoming 5th anniversary trip.  This trip deserves a post all to itself.  So, I'll just leave you with a few "teaser" pictures.

On the 25th, Brad celebrated his 30th birthday.  We began the day with breakfast cupcakes, we met up with friends after work for birthday drinks at Palihouse and sushi at Matsuhisa, and we ended the day with homemade birthday key lime pie.

The birthday boy!

The next day, we celebrated five wonderful years of marriage.  I woke up to a vase of five calla lilies (one of the flowers from our wedding) and bacon, egg and cheese bagels (my favorite!).  I treated him to an afternoon movie (The Avengers, for the second time), and we ended the day at an AMAZING little Italian restaurant in Venice called Ado.  Everything we ate was beyond delicious, but they are known for their homemade pasta, and it certainly did not disappoint.


We headed back to the New York area for a couple weeks to celebrate the life of Brad's dad, which you can read about here, and to celebrate Brad's 30th birthday {again} with two of his closest friends {Jeremy and Tom} who were also turning 30 that month.  They celebrated by throwing a joint party at Randolph's Beer with a flip cup tournament and beirut.

Such a fun night.

And that, I believe, catches us up, {and I'm beyond impressed if you actually made it this far!).  We just enjoyed a wonderful 4th of July weekend with our dear friend Lindsay who was in LA visiting her brother Steve, who just moved out here, and is now working with Brad. Lindsay just might be the last visitor to get to actually sleep in a bed in the guest bedroom, as over the next few weeks, it fully be transformed into a nursery for baby H!  I promise to keep you updated on our progress!