It really has been almost an entire year since I’ve posted. A crazy, busy, insane, happy, awesome year…. for the most part anyway. I fully blame wedding planning, Pinterest, and the decline of my job as reasons why…. but someone reminded me yesterday that I should start again —- someone whom I love reading — so thanks for that Kathryn!
After the initial glow of the recently engaged wore off, something really exciting happened. After months… and months… and years of begging….JFY finally conceded and said we could get a puppy… and she is the most precious little fur baby I could ever hope for, unless she’s dragging shoes out of my closet or my underwear all over the house…or eating both pairs of my glasses…. but ya know… we love her. JFY even surprised himself as to how much he adores her. She makes our life full in a different way…. and yes, we are those idiots that post pictures of her all the time on FB and send goofy pics of her to each other when one of us is home and the other isnt. (Disclaimer — I hope potty training a toddler will be easier than potty training her…. in her defense, she was “paper trained”, and actually hated going outside at all when we first got her)
this is Millie when we first got her. Love her
We got engaged in December (the 23rd to be exact) and the next few months were kinda crazy. We had already planned a family vacation with some of my dad’s family at the Outer Banks in NC, a trip like the ones my brother and I took with our parents and some of my dad’s brothers when we were in middle and high school. JFY and I couldnt agree on where to get married (read: elope), so we agreed we would get married while on our vacation. I didnt want anything HUGE because, lets face it, most people complain about going to the ceremony anyway and I turn into a huge stressball about the smallest, most insignificant things anyway.
So… with that decided… the planning commenced. We got our engagement pics taken while back home for Easter visit / my friend’s bridal shower by Upside Photography out of Lawrenceville, IL (they are ah-mazing to work with). It was pouring down rain on Easter weekend, Good Friday to be exact, and they worked with us and we worked with them, and were so happy with the end product. See below :) I’m a huge fan of the negative space… and that purple shirt JFY is wearing!
The summer was crazy busy — JFY becoming more and more busy at work and planning for a vacation and a wedding and doing summer things, like visiting my aunt and uncle near Pottsville, PA for our annual 4th of July bash… fun as always ;)
And then it was August… and time to depart on our vacation. For anyone who is looking for a fab place to vacation with a few or lots of family, the Outer Banks is amazing. Easy, low key, and beautiful beaches. We stayed in a house called “Diamond Dunes”, which I found to be appropriate since I was getting married at that house … Anyway, we stay in Nags Head and my mom’s brother, two of his kids, and my cousin’s husband flew out all the way from Wyoming to join in on the festivities near the end of the week. (They also went deep sea fishing on the last day of our stay and provided some amazing fresh caught tuna and mahi mahi for our last meal in the OBX — AND IT WAS FANTASTIC)
As far as beach vacations go— we got lucky. Hurricane Emily had just squeaked by and we beat the next tropical mess by exactly two weeks. Our wedding day was insanely perfect, shared with lots of my family members, and the first friends we made here in PA came down to share the last part of the week with us as well. I hired people to come in an do my mom’s hair and my hair and makeup, and I got my bouquet from the florist two blocks from the house. I had no stress, and for anyone planning a wedding, or second wedding, or anything of the sort…. I personally believe that’s the way to do it. Who could be stressed with beach days before and after your wedding… not this girl!
It was the best day ever!!! JFY and I finished with the photographer and changed into dinner clothes — and high fived each other for having the most stress free, easy going wedding we’ve ever been to. That night, my amazing dad took the whole group of 15 to dinner at Owen’s Restaurant — the best fine dining on the Outer Banks. How did I get so lucky??
and now…. back to the grind. Except not totally — we’re planning a reception to have back home next May….we were back home over Labor Day for another wedding, and then sadly, the next week for my grandmother’s funeral.
I haven’t lost a grandparent since I was five, which was my grandmother’s husband, my grandfather on my dad’s side. I clearly handled this differently than I did at five, with my minimal understanding of what it meant to die and “go to heaven”. The outpouring of condolences and support from everyone that knows my family was incredible, and a huge boost to my dad, who is the oldest of the kids and therefore in charge of a lot of the plans, etc. It is truly amazing to see how many people one person could have touched in their life. and so very humbling…
I’m sad that I didnt get to spend a holiday with my grandma for the last few years, due mostly to her relocating, us relocating and her spending Christmas in New Jersey with family. But I am happy that she is with my grandfather and my aunt now, because she was alone for so long without them.
October held pneumonia for both of us… JFY first, and then I followed 3 weeks later — dont ever want to do that again….
And now… we’re healthy for the most part —– So now…. we’re leaving for our Mexico honeymoon on Sunday. Exactly 3 months, 1 week and 2 days after we got married. And now we’re up to date!
I apologize for the length and rambling …. and solemnly swear to blog more often. It makes me happier in general, even if I am “talking” to the great unknown and not real people…
One last pic of my Millie —
well, we got married!
I have this new fascination with figs. The adult me just realized recently that the flavor I loved in Fig Newtons as a child…was in fact…fig.
Then…I realized while walking through the Giant Eagle Market District…and stopping by the HUGE cheese area, that figs and goat cheese go together fantastically.
So I made up a cheeseball…and here it is. PS…it was sooo good at Christmas…it was all gone by the end of the day.
*8 oz goat cheese or chevre
*8 oz. cream cheese
*3 tbsp. fig jam or preserves
* 6 dried figs, diced
* nutmeg – 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp
* pecans — for the outside
Combine softened goat cheese and cream cheese with fig jam and diced figs. Add nutmeg to taste.
Mold cheese mixture in the bottom of the bowl and place platic wrap directly on top and chill for 4 hours
Once chilled, remove cheese mixture and form a ball. Again, cover with plastic wrap and chill over night.
Roll cheeseball in pecans immediately before serving.
Serve with crackers, or any other starchy carb you think sounds good :)
—- there is a long process of chilling for this…I think because the goat cheese is so soft…but it tasted fantastic and it stayed in ball form once the process was complete—
Yes—all of that happened in one week …and three days.
I had a fantastic birthday –that reminded me of just how old I’m getting —I was in by ten. Not to mention –the VI really needs to place a smoking ban in restaurants. I dont even care about the bars…just the restaurants. I never realized how bad it was until I wasnt exposed to it for long periods of time.
The next day, JFY and I got engaged :) and I discovered champagne grapes ….two awesome things in one day….I’m such a lucky girl.
The next day was Christmas Eve—and then Christmas day
Christmas Day was the big meal day where I, as head chef of family Christmas, and mom as my sous chef, created a fantastic dinner!
We had Brie en Croute with cherries and pecans, Fig and Goat Cheese cheeseball, Prosciutto wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish cream, mashed cauliflower, Christmas salad with apple vinaigrette, twice baked potatoes, and a white chocolate mascarpone cheesecake with almond crust and two sauces –chocolate, and triple raspberry.
all was pretty amazing…if I do say so myself :)
We returned to PA on Monday…but by Friday we were off work again and ready for NYE!
NYE was a small (15 ppl) group of us at the Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh…at a front table…dancing, and singing, and doing shot-ski’s, and taking pictures all night long! Not to mention, some of our very good friends here got engaged at exactly 12:01! Happy New Year! If you’ve never been to one of these…look it up, find one, and get your butt there…SO.MUCH.FUN. and I think there is one in Cincinnatti now!
New Years Day was slow going most of the day, then rounded out by JFY and I going to the NHL Winter Classic hockey game between the Penguins and the Washington Capitals as guests in the US Steel suite with the President and CEO, his wife, and a few others. Hinder played, Styx played, Jackie Evancho (of America’s Got Talent) sang the National Anthem…and we were fortunate enough to be in a box when it rained the entire third period. *I will never EVER wear heels…even kitten heels, to a hockey game that requires me to walk all over downtown….My shin splints just stopped hurting, and two of my toes bled. Ridiculous on my part..I know.
Recipes to come
We’re here! We made it home on Saturday without snow, ice or sleet, which JFY and I find to be an immense accomplishment.
Mom and Dad have been spoiling us rotten, which is fun, but not so good for the waistline. So far, the fudge, sugar cookies, red velvet cookies, Bobe’s pizza, doughnuts and eggs &bacon breakfast yesterday have turned our tummies into blech…oh yeah…and add in at least 3 trips to bww’s in less than 30 hours, and that’s what I call a VI holiday.
Mom and I are busy figuring out what this year’s Christmas menu will include. As part of starting new traditions, we read a gazillion Christmas magazines, and come up with a combination that sounds yummy and fab. I am in charge of the dinner, with mom as my sous chef, and JFY and my dad in charge of the meat. Its a fun new tradition, one that my mom and I have become obsessed with, and I love all of these magazines being strewn all over the house with post-its marking what we think looks like a winner.
So far the menu includes:
Prosciutto wrapped beef tenderloin with horseradish cream sauce
Twice Baked Yukon Gold Potatoes
Winter Salad with Apple Vinaigrette Dressing
Brie en Croute with cherries, pecans, and rosemary
Goatcheese and Fig cheeseball with Toasted Almonds
White Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake with Triple Raspberry sauce
I’m pretty flippin’ excited :) And by then, I should have my brand new camera to take real pictures of our fantastic meal
So I made Josh his annual birthday dinner…annual only because I make him a special dinner (by his request) every year on his birthday. Its always a different meal though. This was my favorite by far :)
1 box linguine (whole wheat)
2 lbs. peeled, deveined shrimp
1 bottle of Chardonnay
1 stick butter
1 loaf Italian bread
1 tub grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons corn starch
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. canola oil
Cook pasta in salted water with a little oil.
Heat oven to 350*
Slice loaf of Italian bread (from the grocery bakery) in half lengthwise. Butter it up with softened butter.
Bake Bread until butter is absorbed, sprinkle with garlic powder, bake 7 more minute, sprinkle heavily with paremsan, bake for 4 more minutes
When bread is beginning to brown around the edges, put under the broiler on high until all edges begin to get brown.
In a saute pan, heat 2 tbsp canola oil, and 1.5 tbsp. unsalted butter.
Make sure the shrimp is peeled, deveined, and tails are removed.
With pan on medium heat, and after butter has melted into canola oil completely, toss in shrimp.
Cook on medium heat.
Season with salt, pepper, and add 4 cloves smashed garlic (I use a garlic press for mine)
Once shrimp has begun to turn opaque, add fajita seasoning and creole seasoning (No measurements…just kind of go with what you like)
I also add red pepper flake, but some people think its too spicy.
When shrimp is opaque, add 2 tbsp. butter and melt down.
Cook down some more, then add 1/2 bottle of Chardonnay (and pour a glass for yourself ;)
Cook about 3 minutes, then add 2 teaspoons Corn Starch.
Once sauce begins to thicken, add more wine
Check seasoning, then add more of whatever you want.
Add 1/2 cup paremsan cheese into sauce
Make sure sauce doesn’t thicken too much.
Serve shrimp/sauce over pasta and with big chunks of crusty garlic paremsan bread…super yummy and spicy :)
I haven’t had a chance to blog in what seems like forever. I’ve changed jobs…and I’m now a less bored, more appreciated secretary. Haha
Anyway…I have tons of cooking/baking/kitchen tragedy stories to share, which I will do…as soon as I have some time to upload my pictures.
The holidays are SOOO busy…between starting a new job, preparing for JFY’s birthday, and preparing to go home loaded down with Christmas gifts (while trying to avoid a winter storm) has got me a little overloaded and sans free time. Not to mention, JFY has been super busy at work with lots of dinner meetings and sport events to attend with companies…which leaves me to figure out what laundry needs done, what gets packed, etc. Oh well…that’s my job :) Hopefully we can avoid major snow and get home safely on Saturday. An entire week (8 days) at home sounds fab. I’m sure we will be ready to head back east after about 5 days, but that’s another part of the holidays ;)
So excited to see all those smiling faces and all of my friends kiddo’s. There are few things in life that make me as happy as giving gifts and smiling kid faces…
Let the holidays begin!