Costco For One

For as long as I can remember, my family has always been a family of "Costco People". Growing up in a family of 7+ you get so used to buying in bulk that the idea of buying toilet paper in quantities less than 20 rolls seems completely absurd. When I was 20 my mother gifted a membership to my sister and I so that we could run to the store without having to use her card and I have since kept up paying the yearly membership fee.

Whenever I mention to people that I do most of my grocery shopping at Costco, they immediately ask, "What do you buy?!". Because I get asked this SO MANY times, I figured it would make a good blog post. So, here we go! 

  1. Spinach - The tub of spinach is HUGE, but it is the same price as the small tub in any grocery store. I like to put spinach in most everything I eat, so getting through one of these before it goes bad isn't too difficult. TIP: when you get the tub, keep a paper towel inside on top of the spinach. It helps to absorb extra moisture and keeps things from getting slimy.
  2. Sugar Snap Peas – I like to buy a bag of these and throw them straight into the freezer when I get home. I like having these on hand for asian dishes (of which I make many!).
  3. Brussels Sprouts - If you love them, these are such a great deal. They come pre-washed and trimmed, so there's little prep-work involved when you cook with them. They're another ingredient (like spinach) that I can use in many different meals. In fact, I may one day get around to posting my Brussels Sprouts Grilled Cheese recipe on here. If you think you don't like them, I dare you to try THIS recipe, it was the one that got me hooked!
  4. Cauliflower – These also immediately get thrown into the freezer. I like cauliflower for soups, cauliflower rice, and I use it as the "creamy" base for my Healthy & Creamy Tomato Soup
  5. S&W Organic Black Beans – These come in a pack of 12, which seems like a lot...but totally isn't. I use black beans in so many recipes, from soups, to mexican, to breakfast.
  6. Kirkland Diced Tomatoes – These come in a pack of 12 as well, which is great when you need a lot for soups or lasagna.
  7. Sweet Mini Peppers – I like to use these for any recipe that calls for bell peppers or chopped up raw in salads. The price on these guys really cannot be beat.
  8. Broccoli – The broccoli gets the freezer treatment as well so that I can quickly cook it up or add it to stir-frys. If I feel like having some fresh broc in the fridge, I'll divid the whole bag up into sandwich bags and then freeze most of it.
  9. Garofalo Pasta – Pasta is great because it takes forever to go bad and is versatile enough to go with so many dishes. This particular brand is quite tasty and comes in fun shapes. For a low price, you get 6 packages in 3 different shapes.
  10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This one really confuses people when they come over, "WHY do you have so much olive oil?!". The truth is, I use it for both cooking and skincare. For cooking, it is my oil of choice; I even have a sprayer so that I never have to worry about having Pam on hand. For skincare, I use it on my body after the shower, in homemade shaving cream, and a hair/face oil. I love this stuff.
  11. Sara Lee 45 Calorie Bread – Costco is the only place to get this bread at a reasonable price, not only that, but you get 2 loaves for the price of 1 in a regular grocery store. I typically put one loaf in the cupboard and the other in the freezer, this bread defrosts very well.
  12. Kirkland Chicken Tenderloins – These are great to keep in the freezer so that you always have chicken on hand. I used to buy the breasts, but the portions were enormous! The smaller size means they defrost much faster and helps me with my portion control. They can also be baked from frozen and taste great.
  13. Late July Sea Salt Chips – These are hands down the best tortilla chips out there. Alone they are full of flavor, but they make fabulous nachos and go very well with hummus. They're also made out of high-quality ingredients, so you can pretend that they're totally healthy.
  14. Sabra Hummus – Costco sells the BIG tub of this stuff, but the price is great and it is so very yummy. I like this with homemade tabouli, on top of toast with an egg, or as part of a grilled cheese filling.
  15. Raspeberries (and other berries!) – When in season, the berries at Costco are dirt-cheap and absolutely delicious. I like to have them around to mix in with plain greek yogurt and a little agave.
  16. Grape Tomatoes – I find myself eating more grape tomatoes than regular. The small size means I can eat a small amount of tomato without worrying about keeping half a big one in the fridge. I love them cut up on egg toast or nachos. They also seem so stay "good" longer than the big tomatoes.
  17. Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – Just like the EVOO, I keep this for cooking and skincare. EVCO is great for baked goods (I don't buy butter for fear of being all Paula Deen about it). Coconut oil is also FABULOUS for hair and it, there's so many articles out there supporting this. I also like to give the occasional spoonful of it to my dog as a special treat.
  18. Babybel Light Cheese – These are the perfect snack for me to take to work and at only 50 calories, they don't break my calorie "budget". The shelf life on them is pretty long too, which always helps! TIP: I know this sounds weird, but let the cheese get to room temperature before you eat it, the flavor/texture completely change into somethings amazing.


- Buy only what you eat. I know this sounds silly, but with all those free samples, it's easy to get suckered into buying a 2lb bag of pierogies (I speak from experience here!). When I shop Costco, I try to stick to my regular stuff, things I know I'll go through before they go bad, and ingredients that I frequently use.

– Your freezer is your best friend. Know what you can freeze and how to do it so you can stock up on stuff without it going bad. I've had great luck freezing broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, bread, and shredded cheese.

– Be vigilant about checking expiration dates, especially with the produce. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to buy spinach and there will be a tub that expires in 5 days next to one that expires in 8. It makes a difference when you want your stuff to last as long as possible.

– Other stuff I like to buy there (helps that I have the storage for it!) are toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning wipes, and garbage bags. These things are so much cheaper at Costco and it is nice to (almost!) never run out.

The Bitchfaced Puppy

10 weeks ago (according to instagram) I stumbled across the photos of a particularly grumpy looking puppy*. There were roughly 20 photos of her spanning from age 1 week to age 8 weeks...all with the same Betty Draper scowl. She was perfect.

(some of the pictures that hooked me!)

I spent the next couple of days sharing her picture with everyone I knew saying stuff like, "I have to show you these pictures, you won't believe this puppy....she has the bitchiest face!" The more I passed her picture around, the more obsessed I became. I started to seriously consider the possibility of my very pet-less self owning a dog. I made a pros and cons list in my head, that went like this:

• I could bring her to work (I am very lucky to work at a dog friendly company)
• My apartment complex is pet friendly
• I could snuggle her all the time
• THAT face
• She would force me to be more active
* I live alone, she can keep me company!

• Bitchface is kind of pricey
* Puppies are a lot of work, A LOT of work
• I live in an apartment
• I live alone, who will keep her company?

After a couple days of thinking things over, I very quietly emailed the breeder* asking if she was still available and if I could possibly trade some of my design skills to help offset the cost. The breeder emailed me back and after striking a deal, she said that "Camille" (as she was named) could be mine in just 3 days time. With my head spinning, I said I definitely wanted her and immediately started reading every puppy related article on the internet and loaded up my amazon shopping cart with everything ( I thought) I needed.

The day she arrived was one of the most anxious days of my life, I spent the whole work day stressing and worrying that maybe she'd meet me and hate me....or maybe I was making a terrible decision that I would ultimately regret. I got home from work that evening and sipped a calming glass of wine until I heard a knock at my door. Standing there was Lisa (the breeder) and in her arm was a pet carrier, inside of which was a teeny tiny 9lb puppy. After spending 2 days together, I decided to call her Lucille, after Lucille Bluth.

(Lucille's first day at the office)

Our first week together was rough, with me getting next to no sleep and having to keep an eye on her at all times (so as to avoid unwanted chewing and accidents indoors). I had decided that crate training was a MUST and our first 5 nights together were spent listening to her sad crying and doing my best to not run out and snuggle her (this was a lifesaver in adjusting her to sleeping alone!). After a couple nights of accidents in the crate, I quickly learned to set an alarm to go off every 3 hours during the night so I could take her out. In spite of all the troubles, however, I couldn't help but completely adore this little animal that constantly gives me disappointed looks.

(We take lots of naps together)

I've only been a puppy parent for 9 weeks, but I feel like I've learned a lot. Here are some of my insights, I'm sure I'll have many more as the years go on:

• No matter how many times you hear "puppies are a lot of work" you will never fully understand it till you have one completely overwhelming you.
• Potty-training isn't hard, but definitely requires A LOT of patience. Just last night Lucille broke her awesome 14 day streak of not going in the house by peeing on the carpet....*sigh*.
• While being an awesome resource for answering your questions, the internet can also be the source of much misinformation and panic. I've had to try a lot of different things with my girl to see what works best for her.
• Lucille has a lot of great toys, but her favorite things to play with are empty plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, and ice cubes. Puppies are simple creatures.
• One of the best tips I received and have put into action is to constantly be messing with her and annoying her. I play with her ears, hold her paws, flip her on her back, look at her teeth, and pet every part of her body. In doing this, no part of her body is sensitive or "off-limits". It has made grooming and nail-trimming such an easy process. I also think it has helped make her a better "people dog" because she doesn't get bothered by strangers touching her or picking her up.
• Lucille has done an excellent job of keeping me in shape....even though she hates walks. In spite of the fact that I haven't worked out once since getting her, my legs and arms have gotten a nice tone from picking up her (now 27lb) body and walking her up and down the stairs to get out of my apartment for potty breaks. I've had multiple people comment on how skinny my arms look and it just makes me giggle.

I'll likely be continuing to do little puppy updates on the blog as she continues to grow and as I continue to learn and adjust to being a team of 2. In the meantime, feel free to check out the many instagram pictures I post of her at the hashtag #bitchfacepuppy

*Just a couple of notes*

1. Yes, Lucille came from a breeder...which I know is pretty controversial for some people. I have to say that I 100% support rescue dogs and the organizations that help them, I grew up with quite a few wonderful dogs that my family had rescued. Part of my decision to get Lucille (besides the love at first sight part) was that I knew I needed a puppy since an adult dog would be too much work to train to be office friendly. Also, I felt comfortable with the breeder that she came from. They are a small family-owned operation and only produce 1-2 litters a year, definitely a far cry from a puppy mill.

2. Lucille is an Olde English Bulldogge, not to be confused with a regular English Bulldog. Although I didn't know a ton about the breed before getting her, she has proved to have the perfect temperament for me. She doesn't need a ton of exercise like a lab would, but absolutely loves going on hikes through the dog park. She loves to snuggle and sleep a lot as well. The biggest turn-off that people might find with this breed is their intense stubbornness. Lucille WILL NOT do something that she doesn't want to do, and it is taking a great deal of training to work through this. She is a very smart dog and picks things up quickly, but I swear there are some times that I can see her little mind deciding not to obey me. I guess you could say that, in this case, the dog fits the personality of the owner perfectly.

3. I am INCREDIBLY lucky to work in an environment where I get to bring my dog to work with me every day, I honestly don't think I could have her if this weren't an option. Having her in an office environment with various other people and dogs every day has significantly helped to socialize her. She is very friendly with every human and dog that she meets and that is a trend I am hoping will continue as she ages.

Veggie-full Crockpot Beef Stew

I spent the greater part of last year wanting a crockpot, but being too unmotivated to actually buy one. On Christmas my boyfriend surprised me with one and it has been love (with the boyfriend and the crockpot) ever since!

When looking up crockpot recipes, I'm always disappointed to see soups that call for a can of soup or cream of something as one of the main ingredients. It is also pretty awful to see how few healthy crockpot recipes there are out there! Over the last few months I've been trying to perfect both a healthy potato soup and beef stew that can be made quickly with little fuss. While the potato soup still needs some work, I'm happy to say that my beef stew is finally perfect! I've landed on a stew that has a nice mix of veggies, but still has enough substance to leave you full and happy.

Veggie-full Crockpot Beef Stew
(makes 6 servings)

1lb lean beef stew meat
1 can diced tomatoes
4 oz petite carrots (whole or chopped, depending on your preference)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
4 oz green beans (chopped into 1in pieces)
1/2 sweet onion (chopped)
4 oz sweet peppers (chopped)
14-16 oz red potatoes (cubed in big chunks)
1 32oz container of beef broth
1 c red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)
1 heaping tbs minced garlic
1 tbs oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper (more of less depending on your preference)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

2 tbs cornstarch (added later!)

Throw everything in your crockpot and give it a good stir, set it to cook on low for 8-10 hours and go about your day! I like to set it first thing in the morning so dinner is ready by the time I get home from work. Close to the end of cooking time, spoon out about a 1/2 cup of the liquid and mix the cornstarch into it (stir well!) if you like a thicker stew, add another tablespoon or two of cornstarch and return back to the crockpot to finish cooking.

Serve with some fresh french bread and enjoy!

Calories: 288     Carbs: 25    Fat: 7     Protein: 24     Fiber:4

A Place to Call Home pt.3

With my new agent leading the way, I found myself with a whole new selection of interesting homes to walk through. He picked 10 or so listings in the area I wanted and we went to check them out. The first day out we came across what could only be described as my dream home. It was an adorable tudor style home with hardwood floors throughout, coved ceilings, and 4 bedrooms (only 1 bath though!). The house was lovely and despite the fact that it was a mere stone's throw from a very busy road, I brought my dad in to see it. My dad agreed that the home was very nice, but he couldn't look past the heavy traffic one house down and ultimately convinced me to see the problem with the location. Although that was the only house I had planned on seeing that day, my agent suggested we go see one that was close by on a much quieter street. 

We pulled up in front of a cute single-level 1940's home with a nice sized porch and lots of trees out front, it wasn't my "dream" but it was cute. We spent the next half hour wandering around the clean and updated interior of the home, although it was decorated was the best thing I'd seen so far so I made an offer. We went back and forth with the seller several times before having to walk away, they simply weren't willing to budge on their asking price and I wasn't willing to pay that much. I was bummed out, but I kept looking.

A few weeks later I got a call from my agent, he had spoken with the seller's agent and found out that they hadn't had any more offers on the house and REALLY needed to sell. We approached them with an offer lower than my last and they accepted! Over the next few weeks I signed a mountain of papers to secure my financing and got a home inspection which went very well. A couple of weeks before closing my agent got the feeling that we should request to have a radon test performed. Although it wasn't common for the area, he just had a feeling. My home inspector performed the test and I waited anxiously over the weekend for the results. The following monday I opened my email and was devastated, the home had dangerously high radon levels and the only thing to do was to install a costly mitigation system that would vent the radon, but not get rid of it.

I spent the day talking to different people and doing some research, I wasn't sure what to do when there was so much money on the line. I concluded that the thing to do was to walk away from the sale, it no longer felt right and so many people had told me that they'd do the same in my situation. I felt awful, but I broke the news to my agent and he very kindly said that he would've done the same in my situation.

The next couple of weeks I went to go look at a few more properties, but nothing felt right. The market was slow and the houses in my price range in my desired location were nothing short of uninhabitable. With much thought, I made the decision to stop looking. It had been 6 long months of looking, getting my hopes up, and becoming disappointed. The conclusion I came to was that I didn't HAVE to buy right now, I'm only 25, renting a fantastic place in a location I love, and there's no reason for me to commit to anything I don't love. It was a difficult process, and I spent so much of my time and energy searching, but I feel like I learned a ton and hopefully it will make my next house hunt much easier.

A Place To Call Home pt. 2

(source: kikimood on etsy)

Where we left off at part 1, I had just received a call from my agent telling me about a 100-year-old home that had just come on the market. After my agent called, I pulled up the listing and my interest was immediately piqued. The home was small, but packed a lot of adorable victorian charm on the outside and the high ceilings and hardwood floors that I craved on the inside. We decided to see the house the very next day.

During my lunch hour the next day, I went to meet my agent in front of a small but cute cream-colored house. We spent about half an hour touring the place, during which I decided that A) I was quite interested in the property and B) the house needed a lot of work. The place had been rented out (for who knows how long) and boasted such treasures as a smashed in cooktop, crayola covered walls, and heavily stained stinky carpets in the bedrooms. Despite the amount of work I felt the home needed, I decided to move forward with my first offer.

We submitted an offer at nearly 20k below asking price because the 1000 sqft (so small!) house needed so much work just to make it livable. I signed a pile of documents and spent 2 days worrying, stressing, and building anxiety. By the end of the week the seller had countered at close to the asking price and with a bit of sadness I walked away from the deal.

Over the next couple of weeks I visited many more houses, most of which I found to be incredibly disappointing. I encountered massive amounts of poorly done home renovations and (surprise!) even more structural issues. There was one house that I thought might be the one, so I dragged my dad along to check it out with me. With his "magic dad eyes" my father quickly vetoed the property (how was I to notice crap plumbing, poor water pressure, and bad homeownership?!). On the way back to my apartment that day, my dad asked me if I would consider speaking with his family's preferred real estate agent to get further insight and I agreed.

A few days later I met with my father's agent, an incredibly nice man who had helped many people in my family find their dream homes and I agreed to let him help me. During one of my many chats with my new agent, I decided to up my house budget by about 30k in an attempt to put me in a home with far fewer problems than all of the others I had been looking at. Since I was putting myself in a new price range, I found myself beginning the hunt...yet again, this time in a new year!

Stay tuned for part 3!

A Place To Call Home pt. 1

(SOURCE: House Love Shop)

The last few months have been stressful, crazy, and say the least.

Back in October of last year something clicked in me and I got very serious about the idea of owning a home. The idea had been tossed around my brain for the last year and I was finally in a place financially to make it happen. The first thing I did was talk to my parents about it (I needed someone else to verify that I wasn't crazy) and they gave me their thoughts, tips, and most importantly....their blessing. With this confidence, I called up a realtor and within a few days I had my pre-approval letter and a handful of listings to go see.

My very first day hunting was all a bit of a blur. My realtor had planned for us to see 10 houses all while filling my brain with tidbits about the ins & outs of real estate, mortgages, and what to not look for in a home.

The first thing I learned (and it genuinely came as a shocker) is that looking for something to buy is completely different from looking for something to rent. We walked through several houses where, while I was oohing and awing over original hardwood floors(!!!) my agent was pointing out sloping rooms, bad finish work, and water damage.

When I began the hunt, I had a vision of myself living in the most adorable 100-year old home in the heart of Sugarhouse (my favorite area of Salt Lake City). I compiled my first list of houses with this vision in mind, but soon realized that the 100-year old homes that matched my budget weren't exactly great investments, with sooo much expensive work that needed to be done. After walking away disappointed from over 20 houses, I was starting to feel like maybe I had made a mistake and that my dream home (in my price range) wasn't actually out there.

Late one night I got an email from my agent about a house she thought I might be interested in. The house was cute, built in 1910, and was only a few blocks from one of my favorite parks. I immediately emailed her back and requested to see it the very next day...

Stay tuned for part 2!

Healthy & Creamy Tomato Soup

It seems like the weather is pretty dreadful all across the nation lately. Here in Utah we've had lots of miserable cold and very bad air. Endless days like these make me want to do nothing but curl up on the couch with warm soup and bad TV. This recipe is something my boyfriend and I like to make on quiet nights in. We like to pair it with a grilled cheese made of jalapeño gouda between two thick slices of fresh french bread, but really, the soup is so good it is perfect on its own.


Healthy & Creamy Tomato Soup
(makes 3 servings)

6 Roma tomatoes
1 c Cauliflower
1/2 Small sweet onion
1/2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/4 c Italian Parsley
2 c Vegetable broth
2 tbs Fresh Basil
1 tsp Red pepper flakes, minced garlic, garlic salt, oregano
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375º
2. Slice the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds from half of the tomatoes and arrange cut side up on a baking sheet
3. Roughly chop the onion and cauliflower and add to the baking sheet with the tomatoes
4. Use an olive oil sprayer to lightly coat the veggies and top with the chopped parsley and a few cranks of coarse salt and pepper
5. Put veggies in oven and cook for about 30 minutes
6. About 5 minutes before the veggies are done, heat the broth over medium and add the spices to it. Add the cooked veggies and simmer for about 20 minutes.
7. After the 20 minutes are up, you will need to blend the ingredients together to get that perfect creamy texture. If you have an immersion blender, use that. If you're like me and don't have one, simply scoop the chunky bits of soup into a blender and blend on low for a quick moment (watch out for hot steam!)
8. Garnish the bowls with chopped parsley and sliced grape tomatoes if you have them

Calories: 112     Carbs: 23    Fat: 4     Protein: 3     Fiber: 6

Quarter-Life Crisis

In January, just two weeks fresh off of a life-changing trip to London, I had my 24th birthday. Having a birthday so close to the beginning of a new year has always been weighty due to the fact that everything (including my next rotation around the sun) is so fresh. Because of this, I tend to set pretty lofty goals for myself thinking, THIS will be THE year! And, truthfully, 24 has been a good year. I've made a lot of positive changes in myself, expanded my freelance work, learned a ton, spent quality time with quality people, and even tricked a pretty damn cute guy into becoming my boyfriend.

However, being who I am, I find myself often thinking about my next birthday...the BIG 2-5. It's months away and yet, I can't help but dwell on it. When I start to think about how old I'm getting, I start to question my adult life. I wonder things like, "Am I content where I'm at?", "Should I have accomplished more by now?", "Should I stay at this job for another year, or is it time to move along?", "Is it time to buy property and move away from renting?". The questions are overwhelming and seem to invade my brain all hours of the day. Ultimately, I think these questions stem from a place deep down inside where I feel like I should be further along in my career than I am. Every day I find myself checking my Yoleo-Reader and wistfully gazing at the blogs and designs of women I greatly admire. I see the amazing work they do and think to myself, "Why am I not doing this?".

Lately I've had to remind myself more and more of the fact that I am still young, still further along than most people my age, and all those women that I so greatly admire have been doing this for at least a decade and didn't really hit their turning point until at least 30. They worked their butts off for years to get where they are, it didn't just "happen" to them one day.

They say that comparing oneself to others is toxic, so tell me, how do navigate around this pitfall of life?

Pumpkin & Veg Enchiladas

I've been on a major pumpkin kick since September 1st (when the boyfriend and I officially decided it was fall and kicked things off with pumpkin cookies). Since then I've made pumpkin french toast, pumpkin omelets, dirty pumpkins (1/2 dark beer, 1/2 pumpkin beer), and on one weird night, I randomly decided to add pumpkin to the enchiladas I was making. The results were pretty awesome, they were creamy without any actual cream and I decided the recipe was worth perfecting. This dish is (accidentally) vegetarian and incredibly filling. If you try it out, let me know how you like it!

Pumpkin & Veg Enchiladas

2 cooked beets, cubed (I like the pre-cooked beets from Love Beets, which you can find at Costco. If you don't have cooked beets on hand, or don't feel like cooking them, feel free to just double the peppers).
2 mini bell peppers or one large sweet bell pepper, diced into 1/2 in strips
1 c. cooked quinoa
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1 c. canned pumpkin purée
1 15 oz. can green enchilada sauce
2 c. baby spinach, chopped
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt
1-1 1/3 c. shredded mexican cheese
7-8 uncooked tortillas (When I made this I had enough filling for 7 enchiladas, but I was making them pretty big).

Pre-heat your oven to 375º.
Lightly coat a large skillet with oil and heat over medium (I use my olive oil sprayer for this, you don't need much!) and add peppers and beets. Cover. After a few minutes the peppers should be tender, add the beans, spinach, and a couple tablespoons of water if you need it. Cover.
Once the mixture is cooked through, reduce the heat to low and add the quinoa, pumpkin purée, and spices. Mix well and continue to heat if the mixture seems a little watery, otherwise, turn the heat off.
Cook your tortillas according to directions (you won't want to overcook them as you will need them to still be pliable).
Pour enough enchilada sauce into your pan to coat it, but reserve the rest to pour over the top.
Sprinkle a little cheese in each tortilla (1-2 tbs) and spoon mixture over the top. Roll the enchilada and place seam side down in your pan. Repeat till done.
Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Lightly tent tin foil over the top and bake for 15-20 minutes. Just before they are done, take the tin foil off, flip the oven to broil, and bake an additional 3-5 minutes for the cheese to get bubbly.

One enchilada with a light side (think salad, chips & salsa, or a light soup) makes for a perfectly filling meal. Of course, being the little piggy I am, I had 1 1/2 enchiladas washed down with a pumpkin beer :)

Approximate Nutrition (per enchilada):
Calories: 323     Carbs: 45    Fat: 11     Protein: 12     Fiber: 7

I do apologize for the lack of pictures, most of them turned out inexplicably blurry, and unfortunately cooked enchiladas really just don't photograph that pretty!

Let's Dish.

Maybe it is my love of cooking, or maybe I'm slowly turning into my mother....but lately kitchenware has been heavy on my brain. I often find myself gazing longingly at pretty plates, bowls, and other bits of kitchen-friendly finery. Maybe one day I'll have a kitchen worthy of such lovely goods, but till then I'll be content with my hand-me-down stoneware.

1. The Sääpäiväkirja dinner plate makes me actually swoon. The water-color blue looks so light and almost makes me want to splurge on a whole set of them! 2. This Lolo Flatware has been tempting me for too long now, if it were a little cheaper, it would already be in my drawers. 3. These little crystal bowls would be perfect for storing salt and pepper for cooking. 4. Lately I've been crushing on all things geometric, the clean lines of this wire basket have me ooh-ing and ah-ing and dreaming of it filled with kitchen towels 5. I'm a sucker for a pretty vase and this White Woodgrain Vase would look perfect on my table overflowing with daisies. 6. A set of these placemats would look so nice and clean on my dark wood table.

....still here

Goodness! It has been the busiest summer ever! There has been so much life and so little time to blog, but I promise I've been thinking about it almost daily. My plan for fall/winter is to come back with more recipes, more lifestyle posts, and hopefully some fun things in-between.

Asian Noodle Bowl

In my seemingly never-ending quest to eat all things spicy, I came up with this simple noodle dish. It was just the perfect thing for a rainy friday night dinner, and the best part is that I was able to make the whole thing in a single pot in under half an hour.

Last weekend I went to the asian market, which is where I found these noodles. They are conveniently split up into 3 bundles within the packaging, which makes it incredibly easy to measure out! Also, as a small tip, the asian market is the best place to buy fresh basil, you get a big bag of it for a fraction of the cost of fresh basil at the regular grocery store.

Asian Noodle Bowl
(Makes 1 big serving, or 2 smaller side servings)

1/3 package of Udon noodles

1 c. Chicken Broth
3-4 Mini peppers (sliced into thin strips)
1 c. Mung bean sprouts
1/2 c. Baby spinach (chopped)
1/2 c. Cilantro (chopped)
2 tbs. Lime juice
1 tbs. Fish sauce (soy sauce would work here as well)
1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce
1 tsp. Minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Ground ginger
2 tbs. Fresh (this is important, FRESH) basil (chopped)

1. Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat and add a small amount of oil. I used olive oil from my olive oil sprayer, if you don't already have one of these, GET ONE! It is seriously the best and it allows me to never ever have to buy Pam.
2. Once the pot is hot, add the sliced peppers. Stir occasionally and cook until they are soft (usually 5 minutes or so).
3. Meanwhile, combine lime juice, fish sauce, sriracha, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl and stir until mixed.
4. Once the peppers are cooked, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
5. As soon as the broth is boiling, throw the noodles and bean sprouts into the pot and cook 4-5 minutes, until the noodles are just underdone. There will not be much liquid in the pot (this is ideal) but keep and eye on it and feel free to add a splash of water if it seems to be getting too low. The goal here is to reduce down the chicken broth so that it becomes almost a thick sauce.
6. Once the noodles have cooked, add the spinach, cilantro, and sauce. Stir until it is well mixed.
7. Transfer the noodles to a different dish and top with the basil and a few squirts of sriracha if you like things spicier.

Nutrition for the full recipe:
Calories: 427     Carbs: 81    Fat: 2     Protein: 19     Fiber: 7