Yep – we did it again.
To say this has been a busy couple of weeks would be an understatement. I’ve taken on several new freelance projects, and while I’m really enjoying the work, the days are flying by faster than ever.
It hasn’t been all work, though. Last weekend I had the chance to drive by my favorite college campus when Bobby and I made a quick trip to Chicago! The purpose of this visit was primarily to see friends – so, the best kind of visit. We arrived late Friday night, but that didn’t stop Lauren from making me a delicious bowl of not-from-the-box macaroni and cheese, complete with chicken, tomatoes and a bread crumb topping. A ridiculous photo was also required before we went to sleep.
The next morning I met with a couple of colleagues for brunch at Grange Hall, which was really tasty. I would highly recommend the Quiche Loretta if you ever pay a visit, although I’ve heard the burgers are also not to be missed.
The rest of the day was spent having a long overdue get together with Jill! I was finally able to meet her puppy, Theo, who is just as adorable and cuddly in person as he appears in her photos. We spent the bulk of our time together catching up, but Jill also surprised me with a phenomenal steak dinner served with sweet potatoes, peppers and onions. If you are looking for a delicious way to cook pan-seared ribeye, this is it. Trust me! I can’t wait to try making it again.
We ended the night by watching About Time. I unfortunately had to leave before the movie was over but now am on a quest to finish it as soon as possible. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things and was quickly sucked in. Has anyone else seen it?
And of course, a trip to Chicago would not be complete these days without a Pinterest party!
Lauren, Monica, Kelli and I have been trying to coordinate their visit to Phoenix all winter, but had bad luck finding a weekend that worked and wasn’t overpriced. Seems it’s a lot more expensive to fly here than it is to fly to the Midwest this time of year. I can’t imagine why that would be? 😉
So instead, I came to them and Monica graciously offered to host at her place. On the menu:
Polar Vortex Pinterest Party Menu
Note: The majority of the food pictures below are courtesy of Monica’s amazing photography. Thank you for letting me use your gorgeous photos, Monica.
Without trying, it turned out that all of our choices were easier to make and less time intensive than what we served at previous Pinterest parties. This made for a much less crazy day in the kitchen, which was actually pretty nice!
Lauren started us off by preparing the fruits for our beverages.
…while Monica did the puréeing.
We took a few liberties with each recipe (e.g., couldn’t find lychees, didn’t have rosewater or elderflower liqueur on hand), but overall the Raspberry Champagne Floats and Champagne and Orange Granitas turned out splendidly.
Kelli was also hard at work mixing up the ingredients for our Chocolate Chip and Cherry Blondies.
The Parmesan Cherry Tomatoes are definitely easy enough to make anytime, but absolutely full of flavor. I couldn’t stop ooh-ing and ahh-ing over how fresh they looked.
We let the ingredients mesh together for a while before dividing them into ramekins for baking.
The Three-Bean Chili with Spring Pesto was another recipe with a short and simple ingredient list, but oh my, it was the pesto that MADE this soup. I could eat it as a topping at every meal and be a happy camper. Well, maybe not with cereal.
For the Chocolate Chip and Cherry Blondies we also made a slight adjustment, as fresh cherries are hard to come by in early March. We found a frozen mix of cherries, raspberries and blueberries. And we used the entire bag instead of one cup, so the “blondies” had a fun streak of purple. This made them even more fantastic, in my opinion. I love berries and chocolate!
Last but not least, we whipped up a batch of Crispy Raviolis.
I don’t have much experience with frying, so it was fun to watch them crisp up.
We topped them off with a bit of Parmesan cheese and served with marinara.
Once everything was ready, we poured the drinks and set the table.
Monica, Kelli and I tried the Champagne and Orange Granitas to start – it was perfectly zesty.
Lauren chose the Raspberry Champagne Float, which I also “tested” later. Two thumbs up!
We gobbled our food down with some great conversation, and snapped another group photo once our bellies were full. Cheers to another successful Pinterest party!
As a bonus, later that night we watched the Oscars and Monica whipped up a batch of these Perfect M&M Cookies. Although I got last place in our award picks contest, it was so much fun to spend more time with these awesome ladies (+ Monica’s husband, Patrick)!
Bobby and I had a 2:45 am wake-up call the next morning, but it was worth it. And it helps to have a window seat on the early morning flight home. I will never get enough of these views.
What new recipes have you been making lately?
Let me know if you try any of these!