a housewarming fritatta

When we first started daydreaming about home ownership a few years ago, I articulated that I didn’t want a house exactly, but rather “a really nice kitchen with some other rooms around it.” I started repeating this over the years, especially when we’d watch HGTV and see house with itty bitty kitchens in the very back of the house.


On Tuesday, we closed on our first house. (!) And I definitely got what I wanted. A kitchen that is the center of the living space. A big countertop with room for family and friends to pull up a chair and chat while we cook. And eat. Obviously.

Tuesday night, after closing, we fired up the new oven and made an American Flatbread pizza (if you eat any other kind of frozen pizza you’re seriously missing out on frozen pizza’s full potential). I’d loaded stools into the back of the car, along with Willa’s carseat, and so we pulled ourselves up the counter and had our first meal in our first house.

IMAGE_20A1C32C-FD5A-4167-9B2E-25E515D341FF IMAGE_82644B56-4DFA-4AAA-8F07-8A5D82D9D109IMAGE_A1B128A8-1D23-4A24-8DC0-53C9E918A748
IMAGE_0B44DB56-78C5-4964-937B-39F20409CE68  IMAGE_C1B0684B-63F2-4B23-B75C-CABF5BEB1597

As good as it is, frozen pizza doesn’t exactly count as a first dinner in a new kitchen. So, on Thursday night, we made our way up there again, and I used not only the oven, but the stovetop as well. Given our transitional state, I couldn’t make anything too elaborate. But I wanted it to be a “real” dinner, so I opted for a fritatta. A summery one, filled to the brim with zucchini. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was easy and pretty to look at. I’m pretty sure the kitchen was the only room I was in that night.


Zucchini Fritatta
2 small zucchini
1 yellow onion
4 large eggs
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
olive oil
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Chop the onions and zucchini. Lightly beat eggs with salt and pepper in a small bowl.
3. Heat a tablespoon or so in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
4. Add onion, and cook until it starts to brown, stirring occasionally.
5. Add zucchini to pan, and cook until softened. Spread zucchini out evenly in pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
6. Turn heat down to medium, and pour eggs evenly over the zucchini. Allow to cook, undisturbed, until bottom is set.
7. Sprinkle top with feta cheese and a little parsley, and move to oven. Bake until top is set and starting to brown.
8. Cool fritatta at least 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with more parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

spicy summer sesame noodles

We’ve been eating a lot of Asian food lately. Chinese. Thai. Vietnamese. A mixture of all of the above. Summer has set in on Denver, and the hot days make way to comfortable evenings perfect for eating al fresco. We set up Willa’s bumbo by the patio table, and eat our noodles or tofu or stir-fry as the sun lowers in the sky.


The increase in Asian food chez nous is largely a result of receiving Every Grain of Rice from Rachel when she was visiting. That book, let me tell you. So good! Every single recipe. (Ok that’s a lie. There have been a couple duds. But still. Most of them.) The recipes are so easy but so delicious. It’s the Chinese food that families make for dinner on weeknights. Not the Chinese food American businessmen are served at banquets when they go to China on business.


Because I’ve been making so much Chinese lately, my pantry is well-stocked with Asian cooking ingredients. For example, I have a jar of chili oil. Many recipes call for just a teaspoon or two, so I have no clue how I’m going to get through that jar. So, the other night when I had a hankering for some spicy noodles, I grabbed the jar of chili oil, threw a few tablespoons into a bowl, and went from there. The result wasn’t half bad. In fact, it was pretty darn tasty. And Willa thought so too. She devoured noodles by the handful. I thought the spice would be too much for her, but she reemphasized the fact that babies can really eat anything. Spicy sesame noodles included.


Spicy Summer Sesame Noodles
2-3T chili oil (depending on desired spiciness)
2t black vinegar
2t sesame oil
1/4c tahini paste
3 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
8 ounces noodles (I used gluten-free rice fettuccine, but anything would work!)
1c frozen peas

1. In small saucepan, heat a dash of chili oil. When hot, add white scallions and cook until softened. Scoop cooked scallions into a large serving bowl and let cool.
2. Add water to saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook noodles to desired softness. (I overcook noodles a bit these days for Willa. Gasp!)
3. Meanwhile, make the sauce in the serving bowl. To the scallions, add the remaining chili oil, black vinegar, tahini, and sesame oil. Stir until combined.
4. Once the noodles are almost done, add the peas to the hot water, and then drain.
5. Mix noodles and peas with sauce. Garnish with scallion greens.

birthday party blackberry brambles

Last week, Willa turned one! Yep, one year old. This is the point that I’m probably supposed to go on and on about how fast she’s growing and how I can’t believe it and oh my gosh it all goes by so fast. That’s all true. It really has flown by.

{milk chocolate cake with sour cream frosting on her birthday.}

But let’s just talk about her party. It was so fun! And I made blackberry brambles. And people liked them! Even people who claimed they usually don’t like gin!

A year ago I likely would have rolled my eyes about a one-year-old’s birthday party. What a difference a year makes. This year, I was Pinterest-ing up a storm weeks in advance, and pondering party favors for the littlest attendees. We were delighted to have Dan’s family come to town for the festivities, and were also joined by lots of friends from Colorado.

Now, pictures! And the blackberry bramble recipe. Unfortunately, there’s no great picture of the bramble itself. So you’ll just have to make it to see how pretty it is. It’s perfect for a summer party, if I do say so myself.


Birthday Party Blackberry Brambles
8 ounces frozen blackberries, thawed and then puréed
10 ounces gin
5 ounces triple sec
5 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ounces agave
1-2 liters plain seltzer or club soda
lemons for garnish

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a pitcher. Chill.

To Serve:
1. Add ice to individual glass(es).
2. Fill glass 1/3 to 1/2 with blackberry mixture.
3. Top with seltzer.
4. Garnish with lemon twist.
5. Add straw, if desired, and enjoy!

And, if you’re not having a party, here’s my go-to recipe for one:

A Classic Blackberry Bramble
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 large blackberries
1 ounce crème de mûre
2 ounces gin

1. Muddle blackberries with lemon juice in a highball glass.
2. Add ice.
3. Top with gin and crème de mûre.
4. Garnish with a lemon twist and a splash of seltzer, if desired.

pizzeria locale

We were struck down by an odd and agressive bug last weekend. Bug as in a sickness, not an insect. Just when we were excited to have a fun and relaxing weekend, I found myself in my pyjamas, curled up on the bed feeling feverish. Literally. I took one sip of an evening gin and tonic Dan made me with local Coloardo gin, and the next thing I knew I was down for the count. But let’s not go into details. Basically Saturday was a day to forget, but we made it through the other side, and by Sunday evening we were all feeling mostly 100%.

Thankfully, Dan had Monday off from work, so we were able to cram some fun into the last remaining day of the weekend. What does one eat when they’ve just recovered from a GI bug? PIZZA! Obvi. Having already tried the pizza options in our ‘hood, we decided to take advantage of the A/C in the car (it got up to almost 100 degrees!) and head to Capitol Hill to try the newly opened Pizzeria Locale. The original opened in Boulder in 2011, but they recently opened a Denver outpost, and word on the street was they have a pizza in and out of the oven in 2 minutes flat. Impressive. Not to mention, fast-casual is ideal for our 11-month-old dining companion. She hasn’t mastered patience yet.


We got there right at the lunchtime rush. 12:15ish. The place was full of young professionals enjoying pizzas and sipping fountain sodas. We craned our necks at the menu boards (they were mounted a bit high, I thought, although I am not tall) and quickly decided on a Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil), a Bianca (mozzarella, sausage, broccolini, garlic, chili flake), and a Tuna Salad (arugula, tuna, green olives, capers, red onion, grape tomatoes, chickpeas, lemon). And two Peronis. Because after all, we were finally feeling better!


They weren’t kidding about the 2 minute thing. I’d barely set up our nice, round, marble table with a highchair before our pizzas were delivered. They were pretty much perfect. The crust was burnt in all the right places. The ingredients were fresh and flavorful. I am usually partial to a white pizza, and the Bianca did not disappoint. The broccolini was so good. Willa gobbled up her fair share. And sausage! Who doesn’t like sausage. It was just the right amount of spicy. Dan enjoyed the Margherita too. Gotta have tomato sauce, he says. There wasn’t enough basil on it for my liking, just a leaf thrown here or there. I prefer chopped basil. Spread it out! Share the love!


Maybe the best part about Pizzeria Locale was the atmosphere. I’m a sucker for subway tile, and man, does this place have subway tile. And the hexagon tiled floor. Swoon. The space was bright and airy, and it felt friendly, even with all the fancypants professionals around. They cleared out right around 12:50pm, and we had the place more or less to oursleves. The staff was really nice (“Thanks for coming in!”), although when we ordered we had to tell a different guy each item (one pizza guy, one salad guy, one drink guy, and a cashier). Seemed a bit overkill.

IMAGE_5ECC63A4-8C6B-44A2-9750-3AA59BFA4C88 IMAGE_4A07B5DF-C3C4-4A75-82B0-ECA02AE9094D

Most importantly, the pizza. So good. The prefect way to revive our tastebuds after a day or two of nothing but crackers and water.

{going after a third piece of pizza with her mouth, since each hand was occupied}

happy birthday, mom!

Today is my Mom’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Mom! Yay!

So, obviously, this post is in honor of her. There are so many things I love about my Mom, but one of them is her skill in the kitchen. I’m sure I’m not alone; so many of us grow up learning to cook from and with our parents. I, too, hope W will someday have lovely memories of her time with me in the kitchen.

{Sesame-Spiced Lamb Meatballs and Smashed Chickpea Salad, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook}

Growing up, we always had a homecooked meal on the table at dinnertime. Family dinner happened almost every night, and my sister and I were responsible for setting and clearing the table. Some people remember specific dishes their parents made when they were kids, and return home as adults to again enjoy those meals. This isn’t really the case for me. I cherish moments with my Mom in the kitchen; just being in the kitchen with her. Helping her prep. Talking. Getting out ingredients or dishes. Setting the table. And, of course, trying different creations.

{Harissa Ravioli, adapted from Heidi Swason‘s Super Natural Every Day}

My mom’s cooking has evolved a lot over the years. She’s much more adventurous than she once was. (She used to claim she hated curry. We’ve brought her around!) She now makes so many different dishes. She follows recipes. She improvises meals from the fridge.  She now orders specialty ingredients off the internet, and knows the pros and cons of every single one of our small town grocery stores. She does it all, really.

{Sesame Seared Tuna with a Soy Dipping Sauce}

W and I made a trip east at the end of May, and spent a week at my parents’ house. Every night but one, we were in the kitchen, drinking a delicious libation; making a new dish. Mom is great about picking out and putting aside recipes she wants to try with me. She picks things she’ll know I’ll like, and dishes she wants me to help her make. She saves special bottles of wine for us, or makes special cocktails. My dad puts aside good beers for us to share. We always eat and drink well, and this trip was no exception.

IMAGE_A7763B42-1359-4599-A5BE-CA65A4B5D0E7 IMAGE_FDC06E1A-BB3B-4509-BC6D-8F8F94541353
{dessert wine from eleven winery on Bainbridge Island // Lug-Tread from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company}

So much deliciousness. So much wonderful time spent with family. It was a great week. Thanks, Mom (and Dad)! I love you.