Every Sunday evening I spend hours cooking multiple meals for the week. Since I went back to work, cooking a weeks worth of meals means finding toddler-friendly, healthy meals that will also appeal to me, the Nanny and Grandpa (part-time Manny).
If you follow my Instagram, I tend to post pictures of some of the finer creations. The shitty ones I just leave off. You wouldn’t want those, trust me.
Last week was one of my favorites, brown rice, cooked in chicken stock, with fresh rosemary, mushrooms and chicken sausage. An easy, tasty one-pot meal. The kid loves it. Mommy is obsessed with rosemary. Everyone wins.
This week was beautiful out. Chilly in the evenings, warm in the afternoons with autumn colors bursting from the world’s seams. Perfect soup weather.
2 cans (each 14 1/2 oz.) white beans, drained/cleaned
1 bunch of fresh baby spinach
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 whole carrots, chopped into toddler-friendly pieces
4 celery stalks, chopped to the same size as the carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. fresh rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth
lb of turkey meatballs (find these fresh in the poultry section of your local grocery store)
Being a mom, I didn’t have time to make homemade turkey meatballs (even though I’ve done it in the past and it’s super easy, it is still time consuming). Instead, I bought turkey meatballs from the poultry section of my favorite grocery and got on my way.
Check out my recipe below for White Bean, Turkey Meatball Soup:
I started by prepping everything. This is not Top Chef. You are not limited to 20 minutes to get everything done. Prepare all of your ingredients first and stop stressing when you cook.
Coat the bottom of a saute pan with olive oil and cook your meatballs. Brown those suckers over medium-high heat without burning them. Cap that pan and take it off the burner to keep your balls warm. (Always keep your balls warm. Life lessons right here, ya’ll.)
Pick a large soup pot. Over medium-high heat, toss enough olive oil into your pot to coat the bottom. Don’t worry about how much, it’s olive oil. Everyone loves it.
Next it’s the onions. Toss them in and let them soften for about 5 minutes.
Next in the pot are the rosemary, garlic, carrots and celery. Stir frequently for another two minutes or so.
Add the wine and cook until it has almost evaporated.
Pour in the broth and beans bringing your concoction to a simmer.
Tear the spinach into small pieces and toss into your pot.
Cook for 5 to 7 more minutes.
Stirring. Stirring. Stirring.
Add the turkey meatballs.
Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes depending on how warm your balls still are…
SERVE! Or in my case, ladle into containers and cool.
Baby loves the beans, soft carrots and yummy turkey balls. Mommy loves that she’s getting veggies without throwing them on the floor.
Let me know what you think! And follow me on Instagram!
The Big Wedding has come and gone. But before I get into all of that, I thought I should catch you up on all of the Bachelorette madness.
The invite definitely set the tone for the evening. (Purchase your version here)
We started at a hotel in the center of town chosen because of it’s full kitchens and great views. The Bachelorette party met in my room where jello shots and Drunken Strawberries covered the countertop. (Recipe for Drunken Strawberries can be found below.)
The Recipe for Drunken Strawberries is simple but a hit at every party. A large package of fresh strawberries + An entire bottle of Chocolate Vodka. Combine both in a large bowl. Cover. Refrigerate for 24 hours. When the liquor has taken on a pink tint and smells like jell-o, the strawberries are ready. Drain the liquor (set aside for shots later) and pat dry each berry. Display properly and BRAG about your Vodka Infused “Drunken Strawberries!”
I bought a mix of Mardi Gras beads for the ladies since I did not know everyone personally AND was the DD, so in order to make sure I didn’t leave anyone behind, I counted beads.
We played a couple of games while everyone arrived. One of my biggest petpeeves is going to an event and 1.)Staring awkwardly in silence at people I don’t know OR 2) Playing lame games to pass the time.
So I broke out the two best of my time-tested Bachelorette Games. (I had a third game planned just in case one flopped…but neither did.)
First, The Perfect Husband game.
I handed out small containers of play-doh which were purchased at Target for $5. Each lady was told to close her eyes and imagine the perfect husband for the Bride. They were then given a minute, still with their eyes closed to mold the perfect husband. Ofcourse most of the time, the play-doh figures became tiny figures with giant wieners. Sometimes the figures were simply penises with no bodies. After a few drunken strawberries the play-doh men became more and more disfigured…and their weiners became larger and larger…
Next we opened some presents to give the last stragglers some more time to make the party.
Finally, we played the best game of the night, Dirty Pictionary. (The game was such a hit during our Pre-Game festivities at the hotel, that we ended up meeting up with the Bachelor party later and playing for hours into the morning!)
The rules are the same as classic Pictionary, each team picks a random topic and must draw it out. The topics were everything from “lingerie” to “strap on” to “Debbie Does Dallas.” Hilarious. Simple. And party favors for the Bride in the way of awesome hand-drawn art!
We then gathered the ladies in our strictly enforced Black Dress attire and dined at a fancy sushi restaurant. Eventually, we made it to the swanky cocktail bar next door where we engaged in an hour long game of “Never Have I Ever.” If you’re not familiar, each lady goes around the table and says, “Never have I ever…” and inserts some embarrassing event in their friend’s lives. For instance, “Never have I ever gotten drunk and woken up next to someone I didn’t know.” The ladies at the table who have had that embarrassing experience then must take a drink. Soon the stories become raunchier and the drinks become less full. And suddenly you know much more about your friends and family than you ever thought you would!
Next, we ventured to a karaoke bar that had already closed for the night (for shame!) and then to the best beer bar in the city for a meeting with the Bachelor party.
The boys were toasted. The girls were sloshed. Chaos ensued.
Soon we found ourselves back at the hotel engaged in a long and vicious game of Dirty Pictionary in which I found myself racking my brain for every dirty word and slang term I had ever heard of. “The Shocker.” “Two Girls and A Cup.” “Scissoring.” Good Lord, the game went on and on!
In the end, the girls had a great time and eventually got to bed around 4am. I slipped out around 8 to get home to my baby and husband. All and all the night was a success. And if the Facebook pictures and status updates were any indication, the girls had a great time as well.
I adapted the recipe for my 1-year-old and her diet of finger foods. It was easy, cute and a new favorite for baby (and Daddy).
Corndog Muffin Recipe
2 Boxes of Jiffy Cornbread mix
2/3 cup of Skim Milk
5 all natural turkey hot dogs
I diced the turkey dogs into small edible pieces. Tossed the cornbread mix, eggs, milk and dogs into a mixer. Sprayed some silicone baking molds with Pam. Heated the oven to 400 degrees. Poured the mix into the molds. Baked for about 15 minutes. Tested the muffins to make sure the centers weren’t mushy. Let cool. And consumed. Demolished, more like.
Baby and Daddy are pleased. Mommy is happy for some easy fridge-safe meals to accompany homemade applesauce. Mmmm.
Small town Farmer’s Markets are nothing like the yuppie “open-air markets” of the coasts. Real farmers negotiating the costs of imperfect goods and complaining about the weather. That’s a small town market. A reason for local farmers to come together and socialize. To bond.
My Grandfather is one of those farmers. He drives 40 minutes every summer Sunday to a small town just west of his property. He sets up a folding table and baskets of cucumbers, peppers, sweet corn, jellies, eggs and home baked bread. His wife totes around a small fanny pack with change and gossips with the rest of the farmers who come from all over the area. My 80-year-old grandfather sits in the back of his truck and watches people as they study his goods. It’s a show in and of itself.
My husband and I venture to the small town a few times a summer. This summer has been especially hard for us to get there since I’ve been working nights and the baby doesn’t exactly like mornings. But we finally made the trek this last weekend and it was worth the ride.
We sat with my Grandpa behind his booth as he explained each key player in the market choreography. He pointed out a a little old woman marching from one side of the market to the other with a stern look on her face. He whispered that she was a 102 years old. Laughing, he told us of the lady’s 86-year-old daughter who also braves the market regularly. He pointed out the “foreign” lady down the way who bakes kolaches and pies from her small kitchen while supplying a seemingly endless supply of little boys for her husband. And the old farmer parked nearby with the baskets of peaches and sun-baked cowboy hat.
We listened and laughed, all the while wrestling rocks and sticks out of Jilly’s mouth. Baby appeared to be enjoying herself as she fumbled around the market, grabbing anything within reach and talking to anyone who would listen.
Justin wasn’t much better as he immediately located a booth of baked goods and proceeded to purchase half-a-dozen kolaches and an entire rhubarb pie.
I happened upon a man made of eggplant and immediately wanted him. No dice.
We stayed as long as baby’s outfit could take, but soon she was coated in dust and dirt. She had successfully gummed a dozen rocks and a handful of small potatoes. How many she actually consumed…I’ll never know.
I hope to make it back atleast once more this summer. I always feel more connected to my food and home at the farmer’s market than I ever have at the grocery store. And I guess as I get older and my daughter starts to wear big girl clothes, that feeling matters much more to me than the quick drive to the local store.
And so it is finished. The Frenchy French Bridal Shower has finally come and gone. I. Am. Exhausted.
Below is the overall, blow by blow of my grocery lists and projects created for the event.
It was one of the more expensive events I’ve hosted in a very long time but like I’ve referenced in past posts, I chose to shoulder the planning and costs myself due to extenuating circumstances. But I will reemphasize that if you are able, do not be a mautyr and think you need to do the same. Ask for help! It makes things so much more enjoyable. Never the less, the event was a huge success and we received rave revues!
Thinking of planning your own Wine themed bridal shower? Take a gander below and be amazed by the details.
6 hours spent at the shower for prep, hosting and clean up
endless hours of planning. endless.
invitations cost me about $50-60 to have printed. this was due to the multiple parts and fancy envelope labels. but they came out great.
6 Bottles of wine (*A dark spicy red blend, *A standard merlot, *A light sweet chambourcin from a local winery, *A dry chardonnay, *A light pinot grigio, *A sweet Apple Wine from a local winery) with 4 more on standby
2 Giant Beverage Dispensers of Lemon Water and Cucumber Water (1/2 a cucumber sliced, 3 lemons sliced)
3 Containers of fresh Strawberries (sliced)
3 red apples (sliced into 1/8’s) with 2 extra for backup
3 pears (sliced into 1/8’s) with 2 extra for backup
1 large bunch of dark seedless grapes (break into smaller bunches but try to keep them in groups. think Cesar and slave girls.)
2 long French Baguettes (sliced into 1/2 inch pieces. buy the baguettes. it’s cheaper to buy giant baguettes and slice then buy the pre-sliced. like $3 cheaper a loaf.) 2 more loafs for backup
1 jar of Blackberry Preserves (my husband explained the difference between ‘preserves’ and ‘jam’ are the seeds. seeds are good in this case. go with the preserves.)
1 container of standard Goat Cheese (don’t splurge. no one will notice. just look for the tubes in the cheese department.) with one extra container for backup
1 Container of fresh Blackberries (whole)
**The cheeses listed below were all cut during my prep work the night before and even the day of. The soft cheeses should not be cut until they are just ready to be served. The others should be done earlier to make the line go faster and the plates look cleaner as guests finger everything.**
2 blocks of Dubliner Cheddar (by definition it’s not French but you have to throw some guests a bone and get something not so smelly.)
2 blocks of Gouda (go with a light, not so smelly gouda. again, for those guests intimidated by the smelly.)
2 blocks of a Canadian Cheddar (again a bone thrown to the non-smelly crowd.)
1 block of Gorgonzola (go full on smelly. people who love gorgonzola freakin love the smell.)
2 wedges of French Brie (think super soft, super smelly and super frenchy. go big.)
2 wedges of Triple Cream Cow Cheese (fully smelly but oh so good.)
2 blocks of Drunken Goat Cheese (this was a french goat cheese I found on sale. I tried some and the taste was mild enough I knew it wouldn’t offend too much.)
1 small container of a variety of olives from Whole Food Market
1 small creme brulee cheesecake with a second on standby (I know a guy. I don’t know if you know a guy…but you should start finding cheesecake people to know. otherwise I would never invest in cheesecake for an event. let alone two cheesecakes! the second went home to my family to reward them for putting up with the shower project clutter for weeks on end.)
1 box of frozen (Yes! FROZEN!) creme puffs (80 for 6.99 at Sam’s. amazing. and the vanilla filling went great with the darker wines.)
3 boxes of crackers in a variety of shapes, seasonings etc (don’t overthink it. nobody else will.)
2 variety packs of Italian meats – prosciutto, dry genoa salami, capocollo (I bought these about a week prior at Sam’s for about $9.99 each. totally worth it and they stay fresh for about a month in your fridge.)
the total cost of the food was approximately $300. (I don’t want to talk about it.)
2 white balloons to alert visitors (I had planned on one giant white balloon but ofcourse they didn’t have any come the big day. also, I was advised by the balloon people that on hot days, balloons will explode. so put them out about 15 minutes prior to the party.)
1 free standing chalkboard sign for the entryway (see it here and in #4 above)
1 “Yay!” banner created by yours truly (the whole banner cost about$15 to create but is something I can reuse for other events. a full tutorial to follow shortly.)
1 bouquet of flowers (arranged and selected by me. It’s so much cheaper to do flowers yourself! pick out 2 groups of pretty filler flowers on the cheap and add in a couple colorful buds with big impact. think hydrangea or lillies.)
1 roll of kraft paper ($2.99 for a huge roll. atfirst the plan was to make individual signs for each cheese, wine, fruit etc. eventually I realized that was way too labor intensive. I spread the kraft roll over the table and doodled around each bottle of wine a brief description of its flavor profile. I then put arrows and squiglies to foods and tasters that would compliment each of the wines. this was so much easier then signs and gave the “fancy cheese tasting” a bit of casual flair.)
a slew of small and large white serving platters (I hate mixing up colors for serving trays. stay all one color or do a variety of glass serving wear when doing different foods. consistency ties the whole place together.)
a Mr. & Mrs. banner for the cake (found this on sale at Michaels last year. perfect for these kinds of occasions.)
small, clear plastic cups
small, clear plastic plates
clear plastic silverware
tiny appetizer forks (a gift from my mother which I still am amazed with and feel like a giant when using)
a variety of pretty napkins (people look at napkins. people do not give a crap about fancy plates or silverware. people love napkins. I stash napkins away as I find them onsale at fancy kitchen stores. hoarder? …maybe.)
a blue, wooden crate with handles to hold the favors (this was actually purchased for my new office but was pulling double duty.)
all in all about $100 on decor and party supplies.
the favors were cookie cutters in shapes related to the couple (guitars, hearts, dog bones etc. i printed and cut individual “Thank You for Coming” tags and tied them to the cutters with thin lavender colored ribbon. see #2 in the collage above.)
the game prizes were a mix of wine tote bags with sassy sayings like “drinks well with others,” seasoned olive oils and frenchy notecard sets
all together I spent…$16 on game prizes and $20 on favors for the entire crowd
Honeymoon Babies – I requested the Bride and Groom send me head shots of themselves. I then edited and cropped the photos to fit on a 4×6 card (but specifically I needed the faces the same size and the ears lined up). I then evenly cut the 4×6 photos into 4 strips (horizontally). I bullied guests into taking the strips of the couples’ faces and creating a composite of what they believed their future child would look like. Some of the faces were hilarious. I had them sign the back and the Bride chose her favorites. The two favorites won prizes!
He Said/She Said – I created a list of 20 questions and sent them to both the Bride and the Groom. I requested that they not share their answers before sending them back to me. I then chose thirteen of the questions that had the funnies and cutest answers. I created a game sheet with mustaches on the left for the Groom and bows on the right for the Bride. The guests had to go through the list of questions and answers and guess who answered what. The trick was to make the answers say “He/She” or “Eric/Suzan”. Whoever had the most answers correct won another prize! (see #5 in the collage above)
Bridal Bingo – 5×7 bingo cards designed by me (purchase here). Each guest filled in the empty squares with what they believed the bride had been gifted. As the gifts were opened the guests marked off their boxes until they could yell “Bingo!” I had three prizes for this game so as to keep people involved and excited. Some were so competitive they kept playing long after the prizes were gone. (see #5 in the collage above)
printing the games cost about $10. easy.
The party was a huge success. The Bride and her family had a great time. The friends drank, laughed and ate some great food.
I received a huge amount of compliments on the overall event and people were still buzzing about the Blackberry and Goat Cheese Bruschetini the next day (check out the super easy recipe here). The Bride’s Facebook page was filled with comments about the shower and how much everyone enjoyed eachother (and the food).
Overall, I’m not sure there is much I would have changed. Everyone had a great time but more importantly, the Bride was happy.
And that’s all you really want from any shower.
SPOILER ALERT: I have recently promised to host another shower at the end of next month so expect many new adventures to follow. The event brainstorming has already begun but will not be including (too much) wine due to the shower being in honor of one of my favorite Mommies-to-Be!
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