Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sausage Quinoa and Vegetable Soup


     Another frigid day calls for another soup recipe, because really nothing else warms you up the same way, except maybe a glass of wine or two.  We made/ created this recipe this past weekend and I must say it is yummy!  I have already had the leftovers twice.

 We actually took this crock pot recipe from Pinterest (  and used it as a template and then got creative with it.  

Sausage Quinoa and Vegetable Soup

 1 small minced sweet onion
 1 tsp. olive oil
 3 cloves garlic
 1 lb. sweet turkey sausage
 6 cups of chicken broth
  1 T chili powder
  1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  4 red potatoes
  1  can garbanzo beans
  6 baby carrots
  6 small button mushrooms
 1 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil
 1 bag arugula
 Salt and pepper to taste

    This is one of those soup recipes that you can basically throw everything in a pot and let it cook for twenty minutes. 
1. Cook the turkey sausage on a frying pan.
2. Chop the onion, carrots and mushrooms into small pieces and in a separate pan cook the onion, carrots and mushrooms in the olive oil and cook until the vegetables soften and begin to brown. 
3. Meanwhile add the chicken broth, garlic, chili powder, red peppers, uncooked quinoa, cooked red potatoes ( I just microwaved the potatoes and cut them up into small pieces), garbanzo beans and diced tomatoes into a large pot.   Cook on medium heat for twenty minutes or until the soup begins to simmer. 
4.  Add the vegetables and sausages to soup pot once they are cooked.
5. Season with salt and pepper

Top with arugula and enjoy!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Real Life Chopped Challenge

    This past Saturday our friends ALV and BS came over for dinner and we hosted a Chopped Challenge.  For those of you not familiar with the Food Network show Chopped it is a cooking competition with three different rounds where chefs cook an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert using four mystery ingredients for each round. The chefs need to use all four of the ingredients for their dishes, but can also use other ingredients from the kitchen pantry. The judges taste each chef's dish and then determine who made the best dish. The chef with the worst dish is chopped.

     We did a modified version of Chopped with an appetizer and entrée round. ALV and BS cooked the appetizer and DFH and I cooked the entrée.  We provided the mystery ingredients for the appetizer and ALV and BS provided the mystery ingredients for the entrée.  Neither of us knew what ingredients the other was bringing. Each round was 30 minutes and each couple had four minutes to come up with a plan for the ingredients. (No Google allowed), although we didn't end up sticking to the time limit.  

      Our mystery basket for their appetizer consisted of 1.pork necks. 2. Peach Mango preserves. 3. Red potatoes and 4. Wasabi soybeans 

    ALV and BS did an incredible job using the ingredients. They used the ingredients to create potato skins topped with a peach mango preserve marinade and wasabi soybean encrusted pork necks and cheese.  

The final appetizer dish

      Next up was the entrée round. ALV and BS gave us the following mystery ingredients to use for the dish:
1. Mahi Mahi 
2. Cornflakes
3. Manchego cheese
4. Pickled beets
5. Buttermilk
6. Wasabi paste 

    We created cornflake and wasabi paste encrusted Mahi Mahi which we let marinade in buttermilk. We then created an arugula salad with pickled beets, carrots and Manchego cheese topped with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette.   We also made a Manchego cheese sauce to add on top of the fish. 

I was honestly impressed how both of the dishes turned out. We didn't vote on a winner since there were just two of us, but it was so fun seeing what each of us would come up with and it was the perfect activity to do on a snowy Saturday night. This is definitely something I want to try again. I would love to do it with more people and add additional courses, but it would be very time consuming with access to only one kitchen.  We created our own rules and baskets, but this site has a great overview of planning your own Chopped Challenge.  

   It is another cold snowy day out there, everyone keep warm!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oh What a Year!! Part II


In July ALV and I went to LBI for 4th of July and spent the weekend with my family. 

JLP, ALV and I. 

I was in charge of the gender reveal for Steel Magnolia and loved putting together the blue confetti cannon.   It's a boy :)

DFH and I attended Bob and Hope's wedding in Pittsburgh

In July Oliver had some minor vet work on his neck and was forced to wear a sweater during the hottest month of the year.  


In August I had my wedding hair trial back in NJ.

We sent out all of our wedding invitations to guests. 

SRW traveled from NYC to Pittsburgh for the weekend for my bridal shower. I loved showing her the great city views from the top of Mt. Washington.  ( Sorry for the blurry picture)

Two of my bridesmaids LES and ALV threw me an amazing bridal shower in Pittsburgh at a local bed and breakfast. (I promise full post on this shower next week). 

My whole family came into town for my Pittsburgh shower.  It was such a special day!

DFH and I took a final trip home before the wedding for engagement pictures and to meet with our band and do last minute wedding planning.

I had my bachelorette party over Labor Day weekend with my fab maids on LBI and in Atlantic City. 

I loved celebrating in one of my favorite places....

.....With some of my favorite people.

One of the best weekends ever!!


We attended Kate and Ian's awesome mill wedding in New Jersey. 

Hanging with BB and JM

I headed up to Cape Cod for Jocelyn's wedding, and loved getting to spend time with these two girls.

ALV, LES, and I traveled to Martha's Vineyard while we were up in Cape Cod.

On October 11, 2013 we had our rehearsal dinner at Beneduce's Vineyard ( full post to come)

On October 12, 2013 we got married !!!
These pictures were taken by the super talented Jacqueline Foxx Photography
I know it is cliché, but it was honestly the best day of our lives. 

After the wedding DFH and I spent the week in Riviera Maya, Mexico for our honeymoon. 

We enjoyed being tan for once and it was so nice to escape the chilly north east and lay on the beach all day. 

We also loved being tourists at Chitiniza one of the famous Mayan ruins and one of the seven wonders of the world. 


DFH and I spent the weekend in Bedford Springs. 

We went to a Pens game with ALV and BS. 

We attended Drew's surprise 30th birthday

DFH and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in NYC with my family and grandparents.  

While in NYC I saw Beautiful the Carole King musical which was incredible and had the best music.  

December :

I attended our Junior League holiday luncheon. 

DFH and I made our first ugly sweaters for an ugly sweater party.

I met Steel Magnolia's  adorable baby boy. 

We dressed up as golfers for our friend Jake's 30th birthday golf party.  

DFH and I enjoyed our third Christmas Tree together.  

We ended 2013 celebrating BS 's 30th birthday with all of our friends. 

Cheers to 2013!!!! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Splurge v Steal: Quilted Puffer Vest

      It is no secret that I love a good bargain. It has gotten to the point that I have a hard time buying an item at full price because I have learned that if you are patient,  almost everything goes on sale or you can find a less expensive version.  Now obviously there are some things that you just can't substitute for the cheaper version, but I can rationalize those purchases by saving on others

     I have had my eye on the J.Crew quilted puffer vest all season, but I didn't like the $120. 00 price tag especially when I already had two other puffers in my closet.


   This past weekend at Old Navy I spotted this pretty puffer which is nearly identical to the J. Crew one, but it was a steal at $25. ( Normally, $44.00, but currently on sale).  The quality is also great. In my experience Old Navy can be hit or miss with quality, but this vest has great fabric that doesn't feel cheap and runs true to size.


In my opinion the gold exposed zippers add a nice touch to the vest and give it a little added pizazz.
This vest also comes in cream, coral, and navy although it looks like some of the colors are sold out online.  At $25.00 I am tempted to go back to Old Navy to pick up some of the other colors, perhaps add a pretty monogram to the vest.