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?


January 13, 2016

sweet potato & broccoli rice bowl with miso tahini dressing

sweet potato broccoli rice bowl with miso tahini dressing | TWELFTH AVENUEThere’s a Vietnamese place in my neighborhood, Pho Van, that makes a killer rice bowl with tofu, green beans, and a yummy miso sauce. I want to eat it every single day, but my bank account says nuh-uh. So what’s a girl to do? Recreate it at home, of course! (God, I sound like a cheesy infomercial. Ignore me and skip ahead if you want. I won’t be offended.) A quick google search for “miso rice bowl” pointed me to a recipe from none other than my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen. Although her bowl is quite different from my dearly beloved Vietnamese take-out dish, it comes pretty darn close in tastiness. And it’s cheaper. And healthier. Probably.

One of my weekly resolutions for 2016 was to prep ingredients ahead of time for healthy, throw-together lunches, so on Friday, I made the full recipe and packaged up the leftovers to enjoy all week long. The sweet potato and broccoli hold up really well to roasting and reheating, and the sauce saves well in the fridge. I make the grains fresh each day – if brown rice isn’t your thing, soba noodles and quinoa are good options, as well.

sweet potato broccoli rice bowl with miso tahini dressing | TWELFTH AVENUE

Sweet Potato & Broccoli Rice Bowl with Miso Tahini Dressing
(Recipe from Smitten Kitchen)
serves 4


For the bowl:
1 cup dried rice (or grain of choice)
1.5 lbs sweet potatoes (2 or 3)
1 large bunch broccoli
1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper

For the dressing:
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons white miso
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 Tablespoons olive oil


Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook rice or grain according to package directions.

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into bite-size chunks. Cut broccoli into bite-sized florets and stem segments. (Tip from Deb: Peel broccoli stems with a vegetable peeler if they feel especially woody.)

Coat a large tray with a thin slick of olive oil. Layer sweet potatoes on tray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until browning underneath. Flip and toss chunks around, then add broccoli to the tray, season again with salt and pepper, and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until broccoli is lightly charred at edges and sweet potato is fully bronzed and tender. Toss chunks around one more time if it looks like they’re cooking unevenly.

While vegetables roast, prepare dressing: Combine everything in a blender and run until smooth, scraping down sides once. Taste and adjust ingredients if needed.

To assemble bowls: Scoop some rice/grains into a bowl, then pile on the roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. Coat with desired amount of dressing.


January 12, 2016

and then there were three

IMG_6369Thought I’d share a few more photos from our newborn/family shoot with the talented Nakalan McKay. Spencer was only two-and-a-half weeks old when these photos were taken, and I must say, he behaved like a pro, sleeping through most of the shoot. I’m really going to miss this tiny, sleepy newborn phase, but I’m also excited to watch Spencer grow. He’s changed so much in only 6 weeks of life! Just the other day, he started smiling these big, cheesy grins. I love him so much!

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January 7, 2016

he’s here

IMG_6336It’s been five weeks since we brought our baby boy home from the hospital, and I’m just now getting around to telling you about him… I suppose I’ve been a little busy 🙂

Spencer Ashley Howes was born at 9:40 AM on November 30, 2015, three days before his due date. Giving birth to him was without a doubt the most amazing experience of my entire life. The second he popped out and the nurse placed his warm, squirmy little body on my chest, I was overcome with a feeling of intense relief and pure joy. Phil and I sobbed uncontrollably as he choked out “It’s a boy!”, confirming what I think we both knew all along. The whole world fell into place in that moment. Spencer was who we had been waiting for this whole time.

Since then, I’ve been in total mommy bliss mode, filling my days with baby snuggles, tub baths, diaper changes, breastfeeding and the occasional lunch or coffee outing. Sure, some days are harder than others, but even in those tough moments, I feel incredibly lucky for every second that I get to spend with him. This newborn period is so short – a blessing and a curse all at once – so I am soaking up as much of it as I possibly can. I am so deeply in love with my little man and my new role as his mom.

(These photos were taken at home when Spencer was almost 3 weeks old. I can’t believe how much he’s grown since then!)

IMG_6519IMG_6614IMG_6865he's here(Moments after Spencer was born)


January 6, 2016

2015 in review

We hope you had a wonderful 2015 and are off to a great start in the new year!  Thank you for reading this blog and for being a part of our lives. In case you’re interested, here is a look back at some of our favorite posts from the last year:

One of our first posts in 2015 was this browsing post, a new series we introduced to share links from around the web.

We really love book recommendations, so our Reading List series has remained a constant around here. This post from March included a couple of our favorite reads from 2015, The Girl on the Train and Deliciously Ella.

Nat talked about her travel bug in this post, and then we both planned trips to Positano Italy. Suppose we should share our experience soon, huh? Stay tuned.

Can’t forget about some major milestones; Nat’s pregnancy announced in August and my engagement in February. Both feel like forever ago now that baby Howes has arrived, and well, we got engaged forever ago.

Some of my favorite posts come in the way of outfits, always fun to look back on a year of clothes. One of my very favorite outfit posts from Nat, maybe ever, was this post in April. That cutout top is so effortlessly chic, don’t you think? And one of my fav outfit posts was in March, when the weather was trying to turn for the better, but still cold enough to wear a beanie – and for the record, those jeans were the best investment I’ve ever made for my wardrobe. Bold statement.

asparagus and parmesan popovers with spicy basil oil | TWELFTH AVENUE
And can’t forget about the food! Nat really held it down in the way of recipe posts with these asparagus and Parmesan popovers with spicy basil oil (and this and this). I’m getting hungry just looking at it.

Hope your new year is off to a great start!