Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Let the Teen Years Begin | Andrew turns 13!

I am officially the mom of a teen!  Get out! It's crazy, isn't it?!  On August 9th, Andrew turned 13! It is insane that in 3 years he will have a driver's license and in 5 more he will be an adult.  I know time has moved fast, but the next 6 years are going to fly.  Junior High is barely a blip and then it's over, high school is so focused on the lead up to college, basically his childhood is a distant memory and it happened in no time. On one side I'm begging time to slow down while on the other, I'm so incredibly excited for what lies ahead and just love watching the young man Andrew is turning into.

Andrew has qualities that I wish more adults had, qualities I pray aren't shaken in the midst of the Junior High and High School years, when there is such pressure to be like everyone else.  He knows who he is and he's proud to have passions that are unique.  He is a very bright, polite, and sensitive soul that has a penchant for turning on the "tortured and troubled creative" maybe a little too well at times. ;)  He is a perfectionist with high standards (classic first born trait maybe?) which comes with its own challenges.  I sometimes think Type A creative people are hit the hardest.  (I speak from experience, I'm afraid), because you get pulled from both ends, you dream big and get lost in your ideas and then feel the pressure to make it happen.  Yet, it's a trait I admire because it's the one that will ensure he can expect great things from himself in the future.  In his young life he has racked up more awards and accolades that I had in high school and college combined, which is impressive, but it's his happiness in life and his kindness towards others that is far more important to me, because without it, nothing else really matters.  There is a balance in life, even at 13, that many of us still struggle to find - the ability to be passionate and work hard but always put love (for yourself and others) first.

I don't write too many personal posts about Andrew anymore, out of respect for his privacy, but this milestone called for a little hoopla and some well deserved praise.  He's just such a good kid (I mean teen.. :)).  Jimmy and I often say we would choose to spend time with him even if he wasn't our son because he is great company - and I think that is a pretty cool stage to be in as parents!

^^ He was so honored to be featured on the district webpage recently^^

....Also, as part of his birthday presents (really more for me than him, since he was fine with things the way they were) I'm updating his bedroom.  I hadn't touched it since he was four and it was high time to bring in some order and masculine elements.  Out with any remaining white furniture, the red corduroy curtains, and the horrible Mad Men era overhead light and in with some timeless antiques, bamboo shades, classic lighting and new art. A big change was adding a full wall of open shelving to display Lego.  I 'm a big believer in letting children's rooms (no matter what their age) reflect the interests of the child.  Where I would rather hang a nautical painting, Andrew prefers a Star Wars movie poster - done. I've made an effort to fill the space with items and art that mean something to him and he's had a heavy hand in all the decisions.  He loves the Cape Cod map and antique rug! (He has good taste!)  I'll share all sources, paint colors, etc. when I blog about the room.  Till then, here is an inspiration board I made for him so he understood the overall feeling and direction the room was heading.  He's an awesome client! :)  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Recipe | Roasted Shrimp with Feta + Breadcrumbs

Can you tell summer is winding down by my increased number of food related blog posts? ;)  I even turned my oven on for dinner last night! Summer is all about fresh and simple, maybe even a bit lazy, meals for us.  I'm occasionally inspired to try new salad or grilling recipes, but outside of that, my repertoire stays very limited - lots of sliced tomatoes and grilled, marinated chicken!

By mid to late August I get the itch to be a little more creative with my meal planning.  Heck, I actually start meal planning again  - something else that goes remiss in the summer.  However, I'm not exactly craving pork roasts or stuffed squash yet, which is why this recipe is so perfect this time of year.  It is one of my all time favorite shrimp dishes and I'm shocked I haven't blogged about it before.  In fact, I was certain I had till I went searching through old posts.  It's an old Barefoot Contessa recipe that doesn't need any tweaking whatsoever.

It is best eaten outside and shared with friends (in my case, my family.)  I usually serve it with a salad and a good baguette, but last night I served it alongside spaghetti tossed with a little salt and olive oil.  It is healthier than Shrimp Scampi and makes your kitchen smell incredible, Andrew came in from a bike ride and took a big inhale and said, it smells so good in here!  My once picky eater now loves this dinner!  Fennel, garlic and tomato is such a good combination alongside seafood.  Hope it becomes a favorite in your home too!

Recipe | Roasted Shrimp with Feta + Breadcrumbs
(source: Barefoot Contessa)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-diced fennel
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod (I skip this)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds (16 to 20 per pound) peeled shrimp with tails on
  • 5 ounces good feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs 
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-or 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the fennel and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fennel is tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes with the liquid, tomato paste, oregano, Pernod (if using), salt, and pepper to the skillet. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Arrange the shrimp, tails up, in one layer over the tomato-mixture in the skillet. Scatter the feta evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest  with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle over the shrimp.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with the remaining lemon cut into wedges.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Recipe | Berry + Lemon Croissant Overnight Breakfast Bake

As soon as I came across this recipe on Pinterest I knew I would make it.  I love breakfasts and desserts that include warm berries, add in croissants and cream cheese PLUS the benefit of making it ahead of time, and you have a winner in my book!

This will be my new go to recipe when I volunteer to bring the main dish for teacher breakfasts or events. In fact, the first time I made it, I doubled the recipe and put in in a 9 x 13 baking dish to take for coaches and volunteers at the morning session of this summer's swim team championships.  The dish was a HUGE hit.

I've made a couple modifications to the original recipe because I  can't help but add lemon when berries and cream cheese are in a recipe.  This dish is great served warm, but also holds up well at room temperature after sitting out for a while.

Recipe | Berry & Lemon Croissant Bake
(modified from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

3 large croissants, cut in 1-2 inch pieces (I love Fresh Market's croissants)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1 (8 oz. ) package cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

(Notes: recipe can easily be doubled and placed in a 9x13 inch baking dish or divided equally among 10, 1/2 cup, ramekins for a pretty presentation at a brunch or party.  You can also make with all blueberries too - delish either way!)

Place croissant pieces in a buttered 9 inch square pan or pie dish.  Sprinkle with berries.
Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until fully incorporated, then add lemon zest and vanilla.  Gradually add milk.  Pour mixture evenly over croissants and berries.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove dish from fridge and let stand at room temperature for 25 minutes.  Bake 35-40 minutes until center is set and dish is golden brown.  Cover with foil for the last 10 minutes if top is getting too brown.

Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar