Summer Spaces

With summer well on the way, I’ve been dreaming of how to spruce up my outdoor living spaces. It’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks, we will be celebrating a year in our first home. We really haven’t splurged much and it definitely takes time and money to make everything come together just the way you want it to be.

I’ve found if I focus on one project or one space at a time, things can really come together. So here is a little summer space inspiration from our home to yours. I can’t wait to get decorating!

summer patio collage
Interested in this look? Here is what I found: swing, anchor wall decor, succulents, outdoor rug, side table, blue and white throw pillows, light blue coral pillow

Happy shopping!

~Melissa

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Chicken Caprese Casarecce Pasta

Alright true confessions…I am addicted to cookbooks, new recipes, and food photography! Anyone else out there with me on this? I’m always seeking a new recipe to test out and I find cooking to be very therapeutic…good thing I married a chef!

After spending countless hours on Pinterest “pinning” away, I found that I was intrigued by several of Skinnytaste’s recipes, it was then that I decided I would test-drive her cookbook. So to Amazon I went and purchased this baby for less than $20! What a steal of a deal!

As I routinely do when getting a new cookbook, I scoured through the pages and chose my go-to tester recipes. There was something comforting and cozy about the Chicken Pasta Caprese dish and knew I would have to test it for myself….well and for Greg too  🙂

I adapted this recipe with my own touches, as I do with most recipes in order to make them my own. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! This tasty pasta dish has been added to our repeat dinner list for sure!

Season the diced chicken with dried basil, oregano, salt and black pepper to taste. Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over med-high heat, add the chicken and saute until cooked through. Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a plate.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water based on cooking instructions listed on package. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 c. of the pasta water.

In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over med-high heat. Add the garlic, stirring frequently to make sure it does not burn. Once fragrant and golden, add the halved tomatoes, salt & pepper to taste, balsamic vinegar and crushed red pepper, reduce heat to med-low and cook frequently stirring until the tomatoes become tender, about 6-10 min.

Add the chicken back into the sauteed tomatoes, stirring until well coated. Add the cooked pasta into the saute pan. Add the reserved pasta water as needed to keep the consistency you prefer. Toss all ingredients until well coated.

Side note: for all you dog lovers out there, I have my own personal sous chef, Maizie, our beautiful yellow lab. She loves to keep me company in the kitchen and sure doesn’t miss a beat when anything drops on the floor.

Ok back to the food…

Add in fresh mozzarella cheese and stir until the cheese starts to melt and blend throughout. Remove from heat and add in freshly sliced basil leaves.

That’s pretty much it…super simple and tasty as can be. Now it’s time to eat! Enjoy.

From our table to yours,

~Melissa & Maizie

Ingredients:

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 cubes
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
salt (we prefer Kosher)
freshly ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp. balsalmic vinegar
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. thinly sliced basil leaves
4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
12 oz. Barilla casarecce pasta
1/2 c. pasta water

 

 

 

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Mediterranean Couscous

This delicious mediterranean couscous side dish is wonderful served with fish or chicken or even enjoyed as leftovers the next day, simply add to a bed of mixed greens and drizzle with a vinaigrette dressing.

Ingredients:

12-15 cherry tomatoes, sliced in quarters
2 tbsp. olive oil
3-5 garlic cloves
s&p to taste
1 c pearl (Israeli) couscous
12-15 kalamata olives, sliced in half
1 tbsp fresh mint
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 1/4 c chicken broth
fresh lemon juice

Cook the couscous according to the directions on the package. Use chicken broth in lieu of the water. This will add additional flavor to the couscous without adding additional salt.

While the couscous cooks, heat the olive oil over med-high heat in a saute pan. Add halved cherry tomatoes and heat until the tomatoes start to soften, add in chopped garlic cloves and saute until the garlic becomes fragrant but keep an eye so you don’t burn.

Add the cooked couscous into the saute pan with the tomato and garlic mixture. Add in sliced olives and fresh herbs. Mix all until well combined and heated through. S&P to taste and then squeeze some fresh lemon juice to taste.

That’s it, pretty simple and super fast. Enjoy!

From our kitchen to yours,

~Melissa

Classic Silver 3-Ring Necklace

Tres Designs’ popular 3-ring design is now available with a beautiful, stone bead detail. This particular one is a greenish-turquoise bead. We will be designing with several other colors and will soon be available in our etsy shop.

The 3-ring necklace was one of our very first designs and still has been one of the most popular by far. We jazzed it up by adding a dainty bead drop to really make the design pop!

This necklace is handmade and designed by Tres Designs Jewelry and can be found here: http://etsy.me/1XzXnRG

 

Roasted Golden Beets

Not only are golden beets a sweet treat but they also provide multiple health benefits and make a great addition to your well-balanced diet. Did you know that beets lower blood pressure, aid weight loss and work as an energy and brain booster? So why not fill your plate with these sweet little health boosters.

We’re sharing our roasting recipe as this is our favorite way to prepare.


When you are shopping for your beets at your local farmers market or produce store, look for beets that still have their leafy greens. The greens are a great indicator of freshness. Vibrant and crisp stems without any rot is a sign of a fresh beet. Avoid wilted stems with any signs of rot. When the greens are cut from the beet root prior to your purchase, the beets will actually bleed moisture resulting in loss of flavor and poor texture. So avoid buying beets without stems.

It’s best to take advantage of beets during the seasons which cool weather prevails, such as spring and fall.

  Preparing the beets:

Twist off or cut the greens from the beet near the base. If the greens are young and fresh reserve for another recipe such as wilting or sautéing. We gave ours to our tortoise, who enjoys this tasty treat!

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse beets to you remove any dirt. Peel and rough chop the onion or shallots. Smash and discard the skin of the garlic. Thin slice the orange. Toss all ingredients except water into a large bowl with beets. Toss to coat and then lay into baking dish.  Add water.  

Make sure there aren’t any stems or roots sticking out over the edge of the pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap making sure you get a tight seal. Then cover with aluminum foil. What actually cooks the beets is the steam caught within the pan. This is why you want to get a good tight seal so that the steam doesn’t escape.

For beets 1-2 inches bake 30-45 minutes and for beets 2-3 inches bake for an hour.

After the beets have baked, be very careful opening the corner as the steam escapes. Let cool for about 20 minutes. It’s easiest to peel when warm. Use a paper towel to rub the skin and remove.  Set beets aside to cool and enjoy!

Add to a salad, serve sliced, add to pasta or side dish…the options are limitless.


Ingredients:

  • 2lbs beets (tops removed,washed)
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 small orange or tangerine
  • 1/4 c vinegar if your choice i.e. White, red, Apple, honey (avoid dark vinegar)
  • 1/4 c EVOO
  • Liberal amounts of S & P to taste
  • 1/2 c water

 

Cheers!

~Melissa & Greg

Can You Spot the Queen’s Egg?

The queen bee must lay 1,500-2,000 eggs a day to keep the hive’s population growing. The video below shows the queen walking on the honey comb to find an empty cell to lay an egg into. You can see her sticking her head into the cells, she does this not only to check and see if there is already an egg in it but also to determine what size the cell is. Once she determines the cell is empty, she will then put her head in further to gauge the size of the cell in order to determine whether the cell is made for males or females.

The female (worker bees) cell is smaller than the large male (drone) cells. The ratio of males to females is regulated by the worker bees when building the comb. The mass majority of the cells are made for females with the male cells are found towards the bottom, outer-edges of the comb. Usually males comprise less than 10% of the population, each hive differs and can be as low as 1%.

The queen then sinks her abdomen into the cell and deposits the egg which has a sticky end that keeps the egg upright. In three days the egg will hatch and this will be the larvae stage, in the picture you can see the fresh laid egg in the center of the honey comb cell.

#savethebees

Pozole Rojo 

Pozole means “hominy” and is a traditional soup found in most parts of Mexico. It is frequently served as a celebratory dish during events such as weddings, quinceneras, birthdays and New Year’s celebrations.

Although we didn’t have any special celebration,  Pozole is one of Greg’s go-to’s when we visit a Mexican restaurant so we decided we wanted to make this dish at home and lighten in up compared to the greasier alternative you might find out and about.

We may be biased, but our pozole recipe is a tasty, hearty and healthy soup and could be better than most you can find in the authentic Mexican restaurants. Yes, my hubby is a Chef and we like to experiment with different dishes from around the world!

You can make pozole with pork or chicken. Tonight we had some chicken thighs that we needed to use, so that is what we went with.

To start, cut chicken thighs into 1/2 inch cube pieces. Take chicken, salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, vegetable oil and toss in a bowl. Mix all together and let it marinate for at least 30 min up to overnight.

Heat a sauce pot on med-high heat, brown chicken evenly and remove. Leave all residual oil and then add the yellow onions and diced jalapenos.  Sweat for 10 min or until the onions are soft and transparent. While the yellow onions are sweating, take the bunch of green onions and slice from the the top using about 2 inches of the onion from the top, reserve these slices for garnishing. Chop the white part of the green onion (bottom) and reserve for later.


Take the center green part of the onion that is left and add it whole to a food possessor  or blender. Add in the seated yellow onion and diced jalapenos, chipolte chilies, diced tomatoes and cilantro stems. Blend until smooth.

In the same saucepan sweat the white part of the green onions(bottom), garlic and chicken until garlic is fragrant. Then add the food possessor mix and chicken stock and simmer for 15 min or until chicken thighs are tender.

If the hominy you are using is precooked, add with chicken thighs and simmer in broth along with the rest of the ingredients. If the hominy is uncooked, simmer for 4 hours in in a pan covered with water and keep the lid on the pan. Then add to broth and chicken mixture.

  

Once simmered, let the pozole rest until ready to serve. Serve with garnishes and tortillas. Enjoy, and feel free to share your comments or pics!

Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs- we used boneless, skinless
2 tbs chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
4 cloves of garlic – smashed, minced
1/2 large yellow onion
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1 bunch of green onions
3 chipotle peppers (found in a can in the Mexican isle)
1 (12oz) can of diced tomatoes
Chicken stock
1 tbs minced cilantro stems
2 cups of hominy

Garnish:

Sliced green cabbage
Avocado
Green onion
Sliced lime wedges
Sliced radishes
Cilantro
four tortillas