We started off our holiday celebrations this year with a lobster boil! We flew 18 live lobsters from Boston all the way to Lodi, Wisconsin, set up a large turkey frier outside in the freezing Midwestern winter for boiling, and melted some butter in a teacup back in the warm kitchen. We definitely consumed our fair share of lobster, but we did have some leftover. Our brother had made us some amazing bacon macaroni and cheese over Thanksgiving, so there was an instantaneous and unanimous vote to use the leftover lobster as a substitute for bacon and make this mac & cheese again. I have to say, the lobster addition is pretty great, but you'll love the bacon just as much so definitely make this even if you don't happen to randomly fly 18 lobsters over from Boston on a regular basis... and even without bacon it's delicious and amazingly creamy so I'd go for it as a vegetarian too. But obviously not if you're vegan- you can't leave out the cheese! To be honest, we actually made both the lobster mac&cheese AND the bacon mac&cheese... we couldn't resist! I'm not going to argue that this is the most healthy macaroni and cheese recipe, but my opinion is that no mac & cheese is healthy, so why not make it taste amazing and just eat less at a time? This recipe makes quite a bit though, so invite some friends over and let them devour it with you so that you don't have to resist the guilt of eating all of the leftovers. You also don't have to add the broccoli, but I think it adds a nice crunch! I like to use a more textured pasta than simple macaroni since it seems to make the cheese stick to the pasta a bit better, but feel free to use any short-shaped pasta you'd like!

lobster or bacon mac & triple cheese bake

1 16 ounce box pipette rigate
8 ounces gruyere, shredded
8 ounces shredded mozzarella
8 ounces shredded provolone
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 t salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
About 1 cup lobster meat or 8 strips cooked bacon, cut up into small pieces (it's better when it's crispy!)- you can leave this out if you want a vegetarian version! If you're skipping the meat, maybe consider adding some herbs for a different kind of flavor kick
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 to 1 cup breadcrumbs, however much looks good to you!

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Make sure to stop the pasta at al dente because it's going to cook a little more in the oven! Preheat the oven to 375. Before you start to make the roux, make sure you have all of the cheese shredded because the process is really quick! Melt the butter in a large pot (very large! You're going to be adding the cooked pasta to this pot and you don't want it to overflow when you mix!) and then mix in the flour. Once you've made this roux, add the heavy cream and stir to a homogenous mixture. Add the salt and pepper and then stir over medium heat for a couple minutes until the cream begins to thicken. Then add the shredded cheese, just a handful at a time, stirring well until melted before you add the next handful. Once the cheese mixture is complete, add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir well to combine. Add the lobster meat or bacon bits and the broccoli florets and stir well. Pour into a large 9X13 casserole pan and top with breadcrumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, then at 400 degrees for five more minutes. Enjoy!!

last bite, best bite!


Every family has it's own holiday traditions. It's such a beautiful thing, really. We're all celebrating the same holidays, but we all have our own family traditions to supplement our cultural traditions. Sometimes our family traditions are what we celebrate the holiday for all together, not even the cultural or religious practices that holidays are often created for. Or, if you're like me, a holiday is both created and celebrated by the simple harmony of family and food.

One of our family holiday traditions is to make a quiche on Christmas morning. When I hear the word "quiche," I always think of "Christmas." Christmas quiche. Doesn't that just sound nice? And when you wake up (or are woken up by excited children who can't contain their eagerness to open gifts...) to the smell of sizzling cheese melted over baked eggs in a butter crust and the sound of christmas music and laughter ringing through the house, it's clear that Christmas is really here.

Last Christmas we celebrated at my grandparents house and I noticed that our quiche recipe was typed using a typewriter. I asked, doubting even as the words left my mouth, if they still happened to have the typewriter. But they did! I couldn't help but type the recipe up so that I had my own typewriter-typed copy and add a little more traditional charm to the day! Let me tell you... typewriting takes a lot more effort than you'd think! It was fun to type the recipe but I was happy to return to my nice little MacBook to upload the pictures:)

christmas quiche

pie crust
4 eggs
1 cup Half & Half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Desired fillings (suggestions: cheese, broccoli, ham, peppers, spinach, herbs etc.)

Combine all ingredients by using a whisk or putting the mixture into a blender and blending on high for two minutes until smooth and frothy. Place your desired fillings (honestly... you have to put some cheese in there!) in the pie crust and then pour the egg mixture over the fillings. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until light brown. Cool 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving warm.


Everyone loves getting little trays of Christmas cookies from neighbors and family friends. The usual assortment includes some decorated sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms, maybe some fudge... well add this to your tray of goodies because it'll bring some tasty variation in flavor and texture to the usual mix and it's really easy to make!

date roll

1 stick butter
1 cup dates, chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Add the butter, dates, egg, vanilla, and salt to a saucepan and cook for 6-10 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Mix the walnuts with the Rice Krispies in a large bowl and then pour the wet mixture over the Rice Krispies and walnuts. Mix well and then shape into a roll and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours minimum, then cut in thin slices to serve. It's usually better cold but you can serve it room temperature if you'd like!


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. That might not surprise you considering the entire day is usually dedicated to cooking, baking, and eating- my favorite activities. Of course I love enjoying those processes, but I think spending the time preparing the meal, eating, and napping on the couch with family and friends all day is what makes the day special. Let's be honest, I cook for hours at a time on weeknights! Holidays are supposed to be spent with those you love. And with good food:) So, when I first think of "Thanksgiving," I think of family. But the second thing I think about? Pumpkin pie. Well... I'll admit that I also am obsessed with sweet potatoes so those cross my mind often, but for the purpose of this post, let's just say it's pumpkin pie! The thing about pumpkin pie is that you always know it's going to be there. That can be exciting, because it's so emblematic of the festivities, but at the same time, leftovers can be a little anticlimactic. But what if I told you that there's a solution to any potential boredom with leftover pumpkin pie? I can't take credit for this ingenious idea, I owe it all to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis... Make a pumpkin pie shake! Yes! You really add an entire piece of pumpkin pie, crust and all, to your favorite ice cream. Yes, you'll be addicted. I had it for dinner one day last week and breakfast the next morning! It makes sense right? People put ice cream on top of pumpkin pie all the time... why not just put the pumpkin pie into the ice cream?? I'll include a recipe for cast-iron skillet pumpkin pie just for fun, but feel free to toss any piece of pumpkin pie you've got into the shake!

mini cast-iron skillet pumpkin pie

---pie crust---
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces
2-3 teaspoons ice water

---pumpkin filling---
1/2 can pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

To make the pie crust, add the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and process to combine. Add the pieces of cold butter and process until the mixture is homogenous. With the food processor running, slowly add the ice water, one teaspoon at a time, until the dough holds together. You can either refrigerate the dough at this point, roll it out with a rolling pin, or even just press it into your cast iron skillet- whatever works best for you! To make the pumpkin pie filling, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and then pour into the crust. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F. Bake for another 45-50 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

the great pumpkin a la Ted Drewes

slice of pumpkin pie
3 scoops of ice cream (I'd use vanilla or cinnamon!)
1/8 cup heavy whipping cream (or milk as a substitue)

Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse away until you've got the texture you're looking for! Ti's amazing... I promise!


It's that time of year! Chili season! I'm not going to try to hide it- I've been waiting to make this chili since the first day I wore a jacket to work this fall. It is now November, and although Baltimore is 40 degrees (yes! 40!!) warmer than the November I used to know in St. Paul, I'm still slightly in denial of the fact that the crisp mornings of fall are now crisp days. The bright side? It finally feels appropriate to make chili!

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It's really simple, but you have to plan ahead because the meat cooks really slowly in the crockpot (or oven, if you prefer) before you add it to the chili. But it's worth it- after having this shredded beef chili, you won't be interested in even looking at ground beef chili! Plus, you can always roast the meat in advance and just refrigerate or freeze it until you're ready to use it. I love this strategy because then I just make way more meat than I need and use it for enchiladas, open faced sandwiches with melted cheese, etc. This recipe also makes quite a few servings, but it works out well because it actually tastes best reheated! I usually make one batch at the beginning of winter and freeze smaller servings to enjoy until spring. But, feel free to bring it to your next football game potluck- your friends will love you, and maybe even convert to cheering for your team;)

my favorite shredded beef chili

1/4 vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
Shredded beef from a 2 lb. chuck or round roast (cook on low, smothered in garlic, in the crockpot for 6-8 hours and shred using two forks)
Two 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I prefer unflavored but use what you'd like!)
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons cocoa (yes- cocoa! It gives a nice, rich, yet indiscriminate, flavor!)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
2 cans drained kidney beans (I like to use one red and one dark red just to make it more colorful!)
1 can chickpeas

Sauté the onion, pepper, and garlic in oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients except for the beans. Simmer for about an hour until very thick. Adjust spices and seasonings if necessary, then add the beans and heat gently. Serve with sour cream and sharp cheddar cheese. It's that simple! But you'll LOVE it.


Pre-baby's arrival, we took a trip to the Los Angeles Grand Central Market downtown. We had heard that the space had a major revival as of late - filled with unique and tasty vendors. Overall, the experience was a great one. We tried a fried chicken sandwich and tasted the best grilled cheese sandwich we've ever had. And we couldn't leave without trying a couple scoops of Mconnell's Ice Cream. Here are some snaps (apologies for the iPhone quality). We highly recommend making this one of your pit stops if you're ever in the Los Angeles area.


I've been wanting to try grilled pizza for a while, but it wasn't until recently that I had a grill that I could use to make it. The key is to get the grill really hot- like those fancy 900 degree pizza ovens that are trending these days! Well.. not that hot, otherwise we'd have our own personal 900 degree oven ha, but same idea, right? Anyways, the crust on this pizza is AMAZING (I used the crust recipe I used for the eggplant pizza I posted back in April- I'm telling you, you have to try it, it's so easy!), and definitely similar to the texture those crazy expensive brick ovens will give you. Plus, the grill adds awesome flavor that you couldn't get from your oven. You have to work pretty quickly once you start grilling, but as long as you have everything ready to go, the pizza will be done sooner than it would be if you baked it in the oven! I chose to put olive oil, garlic, asiago, parmesan, and zucchini on mine for an end-of-summer white pizza, but you could use any sauce and toppings you want. Just recognize that less is more- too many toppings and your pizza won't have the crisp yet fluffy crust that the grill has the divine power to give it!

pizza on the grill

pizza dough, divided in half for two personal-sized pizzas 
2-4 tablespoons olive oil (you could also use olive oil to coat one side before grilling and use a pesto or red sauce for your topping!)
1/2-3/4 cup Asiago cheese
1/2-3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini
Sprig of rosemary
Tablespoon of thyme leaves

Prepare the pizza dough according to recipe directions. When the dough is ready for shaping, preheat your grill to it's highest heat setting. Roll each half of the dough into a 10" diameter circle. You can always more personal-sized pizzas and just make them smaller, but I think 10" is probably the largest you can make on the grill because you have to be able to put it on the grill without burning yourself and flip it half way through. Make sure to prepare everything before moving to the grill because you have to work pretty fast once you start! Shred the cheese using a fine grater and toss to combine. Mince the garlic and use a vegetable peeler to peel the zucchini into ribbons. I went outside to my garden at this point and picked some rosemary and thyme, but you're welcome to use store bought or any other herb/seasoning that sounds good to you! Ok. Now you're ready to move to the grill!

Once your grill has reached it's highest temperature, generously coat one side of each pizza dough with olive oil. Place each round on the grill, close it, and let it sit for about 3 minutes. The dough will likely puff up, almost like a pita, but don't worry, it'll flatten back out as soon as you flip it. Once char marks begin to appear on the bottom, flip the pizza dough and coat the other side of the pizza with olive oil (or you could use pesto or a red pizza sauce). I tried drizzling olive oil.. and I'd probably recommend painting it on with a oil brush instead haha because it started running off the pizza since it wasn't perfectly flat anymore. It still turned out fine though, so if drizzling is easier for you, go right ahead and drizzle! Then quickly sprinkle your cheese and garlic on the pizzas and top with the zucchini ribbons and fresh herbs. Let cook for about 2 more minutes until the cheese has melted and then serve warm!

Maybe this goes without saying.. but it might be a good idea to clean your grill if you haven't in a while.. our pizza dough was nearly on fire when we opened the lid to flip it because the remnants of past grilling fun had caught on fire!

See! There's the fire! We had to move our pizzas over to the other side but you'd probably want to keep them out front if possible so you don't burn yourself when you're adding the toppings!

It even looks good half eaten!!


We stopped by our local farmer's market this morning and were excited to see all of the delicious tomatoes ripe and ready to be eaten. The market was overflowing with the bright, beautiful colors of the heirloom, beefsteak and cherry tomatoes. We couldn't help but find a bundle of dahlias that fit right into the color scheme.

Wishing everyone a bright, fresh weekend ahead!


It's impossible to predict the weather across the country this time of year, but one thing is for sure... Southern California is living an endless summer. With temperatures in the 80's and rising, it's hard not to pretend that this summer might just last forever. In honor of the heat and sunshine, we opted for some bright and cheerful stems from the LA Flower Mart.

We've never been head over heels for sunflowers but when we saw this bright orange variety with the dark centers, we couldn't resist. We matched them with some tangerine colored Marigolds and bright pink Zinnias, creating a burst of color for all corners of the house!

Like most of our creations, we built the arrangements stem by stem. First placing all of the Zinnias in the vases, then adding the marigolds and finally placing the large sunflowers. We decided to keep a lot of the greenery from the stems to add some more volume.

The bold colors instantly brightened each room they were in and were the perfect accessory to dinner alfresco that night. If you aren't residing in a place that's 72 & sunny, try mixing and matching some bright stems for your living room. It will be an instant reminder of summer.