February 11, 2016

lentil & butternut squash salad

lentil & butternut squash saladOne of the great things about being on maternity leave is getting to prepare and eat lunch at home. When Spencer’s nap schedule allows, I will often prep ingredients ahead of time, like roasted vegetables and dressings, so that I can quickly throw together a fresh, nutritious lunch on even the roughest (i.e. no nap) days at home.

Another perk of maternity leave is getting to watch a little daytime television, which is where I found the inspiration for this recipe. It was from the Christie Brinkley episode of The Chew, and let’s be honest, if it’s good enough for the age-defying Christie Brinkley, it’s good enough for me. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the prettiest salad in the world, but it sure is tasty!

I’m currently off dairy – Spencer’s allergic, poor thing – so I adapted the dressing from this recipe, and it paired really nicely with the salad. Tahini has a nutty flavor that went especially well with the butternut squash.

lentil & butternut squash salad

Lentil & Butternut Squash Salad with a Tahini Dressing
(Adapted from The Chew and Cookie + Kate)
serves 4

SALAD INGREDIENTS

1 cup green lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch thyme, tied with twine
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups butternut squash, diced
2 cups parsley leaves, roughly chopped

DRESSING INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup tahini
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons white miso
2 teaspoons honey
Up to 1/4 cup water

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Add the lentils, stock, bay leaf and thyme to a medium-sized pot and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before draining. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

Spread the squash in an even layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until squash is golden brown and tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Add the tahini, apple cider vinegar, white miso and honey to a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in water until the dressing is smooth and creamy.

To assemble the salad, in a large serving bowl, gently mix together the lentils and butternut squash with about half of the dressing. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Add more dressing if desired.

xNatalie

February 10, 2016

reading list

Reading-List

A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen. I really love the idea behind this book, and feel it would be the best gift to give or receive. The author reflects on what it takes to get a life – to live deeply every day from your own self, instead of existing through your days. I’m so intrigued.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. Ever since finishing The Goldfinch last year, I’ve been looking for my next good, heavy read. City on Fire is a mystery novel set in 1976 New York City and features a tantalizing cast of characters, including the detective investigating them for a shooting on New Year’s Eve.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. The Nightingale tells the story of two sisters, separated in World War II France by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.

The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee. I’ve always been intrigued by the lives of expats, leaving behind the familiar for a new country and culture. So I’m excited about this book – an inside look at the lives of three very different American women living in the same small expat community in Hong Kong.

xKelsey&Natalie

February 9, 2016

wedding bells: the dress

I found that once we decided on the venue and date, other details started falling into place. In searching for the dress, I planned a weekend in Seattle to check out BHLDN, Anthropologie’s bridal suite, The Dress Theory and a couple other department stores. If you aren’t familiar with BHLDN, I highly recommend you check it out.

Similar to my confusion with the venue, I ran into this when dress shopping as well. I didn’t know if I wanted something classic or short or even very bridal at all. I tried a handful of really beautiful dresses on, but nothing was feeling quite right.

We’re planning a fairly unconventional wedding, to be set in Bend, Oregon in July. We want the day to be relaxed, fun and intimate, so I wanted a dress that would fit the mood, environment and me as well. I think what I learned from the process is just to stay true to  yourself, and like these tips below recommend, don’t over think it. You know you best, so when it feels right, go for it.

J.Crew’s Head of Bridal Design gives 3 tips to make wedding dress shopping less stressful;

1. Don’t over think it. If it makes you feel beautiful, go for it.

2. Live in the moment. Brides are so stressed out about making sure it will be the most timeless gown – A bride should feel beautiful and be able to have fun with no regrets!

3. Trust your instincts. Sometimes there are just too many cooks in the kitchen.

I’ve shared a few dresses and styles I loved, if you are interested. Anyone else struggle finding a dress that felt right?

agnes_thor_alexandra-grecco-470_0935D-hires
Alexandra Grecco

BHLDN-8
BHLDN

Sarah+Janks+1
Sarah Janks

new-jenny-packham-wedding-dresses-fall-2012-005
Jenny Packham

BHLDN-2
BHLDN

xKelsey

February 5, 2016

spencer’s birth announcements

birth announcementJust a little baby love for your Friday morning. I wanted to share the birth announcements we sent out to introduce our sweet Spencer to friends near and far. I designed the double-sided cards through Tiny Prints using a couple of my favorite photos from our newborn shoot, and I’m so pleased with how they turned out. The design feels fresh and modern, and the quality of the paper and printing was just what I would expect for the price point. (I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on super high quality printing.) I absolutely love them!

If you have any printing needs coming up – invitations, birth announcements, etc. – you can get $20 off of your purchase of $40 or more from Tiny Prints by using this link.

birth announcement birth announcement

xNatalie

January 21, 2016

freezer meals

enchiladasA few weeks before Spencer was born, I started nesting. I didn’t go full-tilt like some pregnant women, down on all fours scrubbing the grout with a toothbrush at 3 o’clock in the morning, but there were a few things that I just had to get done before the baby came:

  1. Wash all of the baby clothes with baby detergent.
  2. Bring in a cleaning service to scrub every nook and cranny of the condo. (We ended up having the condo cleaned not once, but twice before the baby was born.)
  3. Finish the nursery, including organizing all of the dresser drawers.
  4. Prepare and freeze easy, nutritious meals for after the baby comes.

That last one was a toughy for me. I use my freezer pretty much exclusively for ice and alcohol (and a side of cow that Phil insisted we buy…so much beef…), so I had no idea how to freeze and reheat the most basic meals.

After doing a little research, I found that pretty much everyone and their mom is cooking in bulk and freezing the leftovers. (Seriously, just do a google search of “freezer meals”.) The Pioneer Woman wrote a great blog post about freezing food here, and there are countless recipes out there written specifically with freezing in mind. I also found this article, which has helpful guidelines for how long meals will last in the freezer.

The thing that put me off freezer meals in the past is that they seemed so…unhealthy, and dare I say…un-gourmet. (I sound like such a snob, don’t I?) But what my research told me is that, although I couldn’t exactly prep and freeze a bunch of fancy salads, pretty much any healthy sauce, soup or casserole-type dish was fair game. In the end, I made batches of shakshuka sauce and butternut squash pasta sauce, West African peanut soup, and these delicious spinach and artichoke enchiladas. Now that I’ve tasted everything, I can tell you that these are big winners. Not a dud recipe in the bunch. And having those healthy, heart-warming meals at my disposal when all I had time for was my sweet little baby was totally worth the prep work.

Now you tell me, are you a freezer meal person? What are your favorite make-ahead-and-freeze recipes?

xNatalie