Pasta Aglio e Olio {pasta with garlic and oil}

Hi friends!  I’m here – just a little busy these days.  How was your weekend?  Ours was a good one – we ventured out as a family of three and survived.  Actually, I think we thrived and Big Guy might actually take us out in public again.  We made a stop at our favorite wine shop in Raleigh (a place where we knew few people would be early on Saturday) and stocked up on wine and olive oil.  Our next stop was sushi!  Mama was very happy filling her belly with all the deliciousness – though we did eat a little faster in an effort to avoid any mid-meal meltdowns.  We started Sunday slowly – well, as slow as you can be – when baby wants to eat, she wants to eat.  And enjoyed a walk with friends before my aunt arrived later in the afternoon.  It’s been so nice to have two extra hands to help today and I’ve definitely taken advantage of her being here (aka I went and got a manicure and I took a solo three mile walk).  I will be sad to see her leave tomorrow morning.

Enough about the weekend (that didn’t last long enough) – let’s back up even farther…to our Valentine’s Day dinner.  I went with something super easy (obviously) and a very short ingredient list.  Pasta is something we usually make from scratch when we eat it but that’s just not happening yet.  This meal mimics a classic Italian dish of pasta with a sauce made from garlic and oil but instead of olive oil, walnut is used for extra nuttiness.  The walnut oil is the key to this pasta so don’t skip it.  (I’ll share another recipe that uses walnut oil later this week.)  Along with the oil, lots of garlic, parsley, pecorino Romano cheese plus salt and pepper.


I really enjoyed the simplicity of this dinner yet the complexity of the nuttiness thanks to using a new-to-me oil.

Another idea for walnut oil: I really want to try it drizzled on avocado toast – I think it would be fab.



Homemade Creamed Corn Pasta with Fried Herbs

It’s no surprise that Big Guy and I love to spend time together in the kitchen.  And sometimes we take a “simple” recipe and turn it into quite the adventure.  But the truth is, it’s almost always worth the time, the effort and the mess.  A recipe for creamed corn pasta peaked both of our interest due to all the corn that we have stashed in the freezer.  But we couldn’t just use store bought pasta – oh, no – we had to make our own.

The pasta came together rather “easy” this time around (there was one pasta episode where we almost gave up completely and a voice or two was raised – not naming names).  And while Big Guy was making our noodles, I spent a little time making the creamed corn portion of the dish.  When I hear “creamed corn” I can’t help but think of my grandmother, Mimi, and her creamed corn.  It’s simply one of my favorite side dishes and I remember looking forward to it at all holiday gatherings.  To make this version of creamed corn, fresh corn is cooked in butter until caramelized, about 5-8 minutes.  Once the corn is lightly browned, add in the fresh thyme, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Then add in the milk (I used 2%) and allow the mixture to simmer.  At this point, I reduced the heat to low and allowed it to hang out while we finished up the pasta.  I ended up adding a little more milk to thin it out.  Finally, add in the cooked pasta and the parmesan along with some of the salted cooking water.  I added a good 1/2 cup or more of cooking water to get the consistency I wanted – it’s going to depend on your pasta.

The plate of pasta was topped with fried herbs (thyme and basil) and then I finished our plates with a little lemon zest.  That was a very good idea.


Absolutely incredible.

We were blown away by this dish.  Such simple ingredients became an absolute stunner of a dinner with a little love and a little mess.


Mushroom Cheese Ravioli with Rosemary Butter Sauce

Say “hello” to your next date night in dinner.  While I love going out to dinner and traveling to fun new cities, there’s something about a cozy evening in with a delicious home cooked dinner and a bottle of wine.  And while we haven’t had one in a couple weeks and I’m not really sure when our next one will be, I couldn’t resist sharing with you the dinner we made during our last date night in.

And don’t be scared of this recipe.  We made homemade pasta but it is NOT necessary.  In fact, the recipe called for wonton wrappers that you find at your grocery store and we made the decision to make the recipe more difficult.  So there is no excuse not to make these raviolis.

The ravioli filling is a mixture of sautéed mushrooms, thyme, ricotta cheese, fontina cheese and parmesan cheese.  The filling is so simple but it really makes the earthiness of the mushrooms shine through.

The sauce is light (aka not full of cream) but still FULL of flavor.  The butter is browned before adding in some garlic and rosemary (is there any better smell?).  Then add in some chicken broth and/or some white wine plus salt and pepper and let it reduce.

The combination of the mushroom and cheese ravioli plus the rosemary butter sauce is magic.  We did not even miss the meat in this dinner.

mushroom ravioli

Oh, date night, you’re my favorite.

Ground Beef and Pasta Casserole

A one-pot dish that is sure to be a winner on the dinner table.  It’s healthy comfort food that’s also husband and kid-friendly.  I recommend this dinner on a night when you have a little bit of time to prep (30 minutes) but once it goes in the oven, the work is done.

I love that this recipe makes prep easier by using a food processor to chop up the carrots and onions.  Simply place the veggies in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Let the dishwasher clean the food processor.

Sauté the onions and carrots for about 4 minutes and add in the finely chopped garlic, allowing that to cook for 2 more minutes.  Then add in the Italian seasoning – I made my own Italian seasoning using dried basil, thyme and oregano, some red pepper flakes and a little salt.  Add in the beef.  I find that Trader Joes as some of the best ground beef.  I try and stock up when I got and throw several packages in the freezer for nights like this.  Cook the beef for 5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks.  I like using a potato masher for this.  Seriously.  Then goes in the chicken stock, fresh basil, tomato paste, vinegar, pasta (I used gluten-free brown rice pasta) and the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and cook about 13 minutes or until the pasta is almost cooked through and the pasta has thickened a bit.

At this point I decided to transfer the pasta mixture to a baking dish knowing we would have lots of leftovers.  But you can totally keep this a one-pot meal and starting the whole recipe in an oven-safe pot.

Top the pasta with mozzarella and bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Sprinkle with basil and dig in!


So yummy!  Absolute comfort food – carbs and cheese.

Like a said, a true winning dinner that everyone will love.

Weekend Review

Happy Monday!  I hope y’all had a wonderful weekend.  My parents came into town and we had a blast.  But honestly, time flew by and I feel like the weekend was over in a flash.  On Friday we met my parents in Raleigh for lunch at Tazza Kitchen. Big Guy and I have dined at Tazza Kitchen on a couple of occasions and we’re impressed each and every time.  We shared some guacamole to start and the chips were addictive.  They also brought some salsa to the table with the guacamole and it was fantastic.  A little sweet and not too spicy.  I ordered the arugula and goat cheese salad for lunch and added shrimp to the salad.  It was amazing.  Post-lunch we made a quick stop at Fresh Market to grab a few items we needed for the weekend.

One we all arrived back to our house we helped my parents unload the car and my Mom and I started crafting!  I’m helping host a baby shower for my sister-in-law in a couple of weeks and my Mom and I had several projects to get done while they were here. For dinner we cooked up a feast!  My parents enjoy lamb but they don’t cook it all that often (neither do we) so we thought it was the perfect meal for their visit.  On the menu:  pistachio crusted rack of lamb, mascarpone mashed potatoes, and roasted broccolini.


Everything turned out delicious.  And I have to say, those mashed potatoes might be the best ever.  Definitely not a “light” recipe but they are amazing.

After dinner we all watched “Criminal Minds” before calling it a night and heading to bed. Saturday started with a quick workout for me before getting back to the house and crafting with my Mom.  The guys left to run some errands and just drive around and then we met them for lunch at the Country Club.  This is when time started flying.  When we got home we played dominos (I did not win) and then made homemade pasta and bolognese for dinner.


The dough was a little more finicky this time around but the end result was nothing short of perfection.  We enjoyed this plate of pasta with an incredible 2010 Pride Sangiovese.

The rest of the evening was spent hanging out and watching t.v. before calling it quits for the day.

On Sunday I prepared one last meal before they hit the road back home.  (I’ll share breakfast tomorrow!)  I was sad to see them leave but I know I’ll see them in a couple of weeks when I head to Charlotte for the baby shower.

Such a treat to have them visit and I’m looking forward to planning another weekend soon!

Tuesday Things.


  1. I could honestly eat sushi three times a week.
  2. How is it already November?  Seriously – there are two, TWO months left in 2016.  How?
  3. We made homemade pasta over the weekend and it was amazing.  The more you make it, the easier it gets so I think we should keep making pasta.
  4. And pizza is everything.  Sushi and pizza.  That’s what I could eat for the rest of my life.  We made buffalo chicken pizza on Saturday night after the ECU game and it was perfection. (Recipe is from the How Sweet It Is cookbook.)
  5. I’m kind of bitter that we don’t get CMT anymore.  I really miss Nashville.
  6. Everyone keeps telling us to get Netflix.  We will as soon as someone physically comes to our house and shows us who to “get Netflix.”
  7. I need a new pair of tennis shoes.  Like bad.


Pasta with Spinach-Avocado Sauce

I am still thinking about this bowl of pasta.

It was that good.

Not only that but it seriously took less than 20 minutes to prepare.  Letting the water come to a boil took the most time.  So if you can boil water, you can make pasta with spinach-avocado sauce.  Oh, and it’s a gorgeous dinner that simply perfect for the start of Spring.


I seriously just had a moment of silence while looking at the picture of deliciousness.

I used {gluten-free} rigatoni instead of spaghetti because it’s what I had in the pantry.  But I really loved how the nooks and crannies in the pasta held on to the pasta sauce.  But I honestly think any noodle would work.

For the sauce, simple throw all the ingredients in a food processor and let it whirl.  See, I told you it was easy.  The sauce includes spinach, white beans, EVOO, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, garlic, an avocado plus a little pasta water.

Once the pasta is finished cooking, toss it with the sauce and then top with chopped tomato, nuts (I used pistachios) and a few more baby basil leaves.

Almost too pretty to eat.


Because we had no problem digging in.  And we were more than impressed with each and every bite.