Thursday, August 20, 2015

Year Four in Review

What a year it has been!  Since my Year Three in Review post I got engaged and married, gained a cute new roommate, and pretty much had the most incredible year ever.  Admittedly, Perfecting the Pairing took a backseat to wedding planning and my husband, and the number of posts went way down.  I still love this little blog and love getting new recipes posted.  I am cooking all the time, now I just need to do the rest of it!

Thank you thank you thank you to all my readers and for all of the positive feedback, encouragement, and sweet comments.  I said it last year, and I will say it again, I truly appreciate every single view this site gets. 

Without further ado…

Top ten most viewed posts from year four

MY Perfect Pairing – There is no recipe here, but there is a really sweet story about my now husband surprising me with the most amazing proposal.  Ahh!  I love that man and I loved that proposal! 


Impossibly Light Pineapple Whip – There are only three ingredients in this crazy delicious, healthy dessert.  It was the perfect sweet treat during my pre-wedding diet!  It is a dead ringer for the Dole Pineapple Whip from Disney World.


Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole – All the flavor of pizza, none of the guilt.  This freezes well and is great to have on hand for a quick dinner. 


#LamsInLove – Part 2 – Pretty much a recap of our wedding.  Again, no recipe…. Man, I was slacking!


Sloppy Joe Dip – Not very pretty, but so so tasty.  I find that men tend to love this one.  Actually, everyone loves it.


Menu Post #1, Huli Huli Chicken – Remember last year when I said my goal was to have a new section all about menus?  That was a cute idea.  I did it twice.  Ok, goal for year 5!  This menu was repeated again multiple times this summer.  It is a crowd pleaser every time!


Wheat Berry Chicken Salad – If you have not tried Wheat Berries, you are missing out! 


#LamsInLove – The Wedding Favor/Escort Card at our wedding was handmade Sriracha Salt and Citrus Pepper.  This post provides some recipes and tips on how to use it.  I think the Sriracha Salt was everyone’s favorite! 


Apple Cider Sangria – This will be happening again in a couple months.  Perfect for autumn!


Cheeseburger Soup – Comfort food to the max! 


I can hardly believe I am kicking off year five!  #PairingForLife.  xoxo

Monday, August 10, 2015

Un-Recipe Files: Warm Mini Pesto Sandwiches


One of my favorite summer traditions are TGIF dinner cruises.  On Friday evenings we will pull together an easy meal of sandwiches, veggies/chips with hummus/dip, Bing cherries, and an easy portable dessert.  Oh, and wine.  You must have wine on TGIF cruises!  All of this needs to be pulled together in time for sunset on the lake.  Add in some good cruising music from Joshua Radin, Amos Lee, Iron and Wine, or Norah Jones and you pretty much have perfection.  On a boat.


We usually make these simple, but deceptively delicious, sandwiches.  Start with a small, soft roll.  We usually get them straight from the grocery store bakery.  Add your favorite deli meat, half a slice of cheese (provolone, cheddar, pepper jack, etc.).  Now for the special sauce.  Mix up a quick pesto aioli using equal parts of pesto (store-bought is fine) and mayo.  Wrap up the sandwiches in a square of foil and bake in a 300 degree oven until the cheese is melty. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Simple Fruit Dip

Perfect Pairing:  Summer Fruit


This recipe came to be because of a cooking accident.  I liked it so much that I repeated the accident many times!  It started because I had a surplus of Ina Garten’s Stewed Rhubarb and Red Berries.  Her recipe says it serves 6, but I found that it had 12 or more servings, so I was looking for a new way to use some of the delicious stewed fruit.  I decided to try a trifle with angel food cake.  I layered cake cubes, the fruit, and a luscious white concoction I came up with, then repeat.  It was a scrumptious dessert!


The angel food cake was small, and of course I didn’t have a full batch of fruit, so when I finished the trifle I had a surplus of this delicious creamy concoction.  What to do?  I tried dipping fruit in it and decided that this trifle component was actually pretty amazing on its own. 


It is embarrassingly simple with just three ingredients.

Whisk them up and you have an incredible fruit dip that makes a fruit platter really special. 


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Caesar Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Vegetables

Perfect Pairing: Yogurt based Caesar dressing


Pasta salads can be so bad.  Rarely, rarely do I like pasta salads from restaurants or grocery store delis.  They all have the same odd taste and are just not worth the calories.  There ARE good pasta salads out there though!  I don’t want to pat myself on the back, but this one is really good.  I think I just did it anyway.


Grape tomatoes, whole button mushrooms, and sweet onions are grilled then tossed with pasta, arugula, and a super simple dressing.


The dressing is made with store-bought Caesar dressing.  I used this yogurt variety so it was a little lower in calories and fat.  The dressing is whisked with pesto and fresh lemon juice.  If you happen to have an abundance of homemade pesto stocked in your freezer (I’m so jealous) use that, but feel free to use store-bought pesto here.


We ate this while it was still slightly warm.  YUM.  It was also great leftover chilled.  It would be fantastic with grilled chicken or steak for a full meal. 


One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Avocado and Strawberry Toast with Feta and Honey

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Thai Peanut Pasta Salad

Three years ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Grapefruit Margaritas

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Peaches and Cream Dessert

Perfect Pairing:  Bowl and spoon


Each summer my best friend makes the journey to the lake with her sweet family for our yearly get together.  They are the best guests, always jumping up to help, bringing food, etc.  Last summer I asked Jill to bring a dessert and she said her husband requested her sopapilla cheesecake.  Oh goodness, was this thing delicious.  It was a super simple dessert of crescent rolls, cheesecake filling and a topping of cinnamon and sugar.  All good things.

Around the same time my parents received a large delivery of peaches.  I was using peaches in everything…. Peach salsa, peach cobbler, on cereal, in yogurt, etc.  I decided to try adding them to the sopapilla cheesecake.  It ended up being a very good idea!  I made a few other alterations to the recipe like reducing the butter and sugar in the topping. 



The original version served up nicely in perfect pieces, the peach version did not.  It was more of a bowl and spoon situation.  It was almost like a peach cobbler, but with a creamy cheesecake-y filling.  Yum.  Perfect summer dessert.

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One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Studded Crust and Coconut Whipped Cream

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Quinoa Produce Salad

Three years ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Father's Day Recipes

Monday, June 8, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Frittata

Perfect Pairing:  Leftover spaghetti squash


One food trend I am totally on board with is spaghetti squash.  My first post of 2015 was this Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole recipe.  I froze half of the recipe and was thrilled to have it on hand when I was in the midst of wedding planning and needed a healthy and filling meal. 

Next time you have leftover spaghetti squash try this frittata recipes.  Actually, just cook up some spaghetti squash so you can make this!  It was such a great breakfast, served up beautifully, and was delicious reheated. 


There are a few different ways of cooking a spaghetti squash.  I definitely prefer roasting them and will usually do two at once to make sure I have plenty on hand.  To roast it, poke the spaghetti squash with a fork 10 times.  Microwave on high for 6 minutes (this softens the squash and makes it easier to cut in half).  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 50-60 minutes at 400 degrees, or until completely tender, then you can shred it with a fork.  You can also cook it in the microwave.  I use this method if I just don’t have the time for roasting. 


Cooked spaghetti squash acts as the crust of the frittata.  Try to remove any excess moisture in the squash, this is especially important if you cooked it in the microwave.  You can either squeeze it in a clean kitchen towel, pat with paper towels, or press into the bottom of a strainer.


The filling is a mixture of sautéed vegetables, eggs, egg whites, chicken sausage, and cheese.  This recipe is totally customizable so if you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out.  If you have kale on hand, throw it in.  Would rather use swiss cheese than shredded cheddar?  Brilliant.  Do it.  I think I used a roasted red pepper chicken sausage, like this.   


I have an exorbitant amount of spices in my kitchen, and I love all of them.  I used some crazy combination of Italian/Za’atar/Berbere/Jamaican Jerk in this (not really, but also not far off) but you could use whatever you have on hand, whether it is Mrs. Dash or Cajun.  Just be sure to check if it has salt so you can adjust that accordingly.


One other thing to note…. Yes, this does have cottage cheese in it.  No, you cannot tell there is cottage cheese in it.  It just adds a little creaminess and bulk, but won’t freak out cottage cheese haters.  They’re out there.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#LamsInLove, Part 2

I am back to reality after a dream wedding and honeymoon.  I’m not going to lie, real life is a bit of an adjustment.  Even though I miss the excitement of wedding planning, the amazing landscape of Hawaii, and most of all, so much time with my honey, I am looking forward to life as a wife.  A WIFE!  I can still hardly believe it.

Where do I begin?  Our wedding was an absolute fairy tale.  It was better than I could have imagined.  The day just flew by in the blink of an eye.  When I think back to it I have to question if it really happened.  It feels like a dream!  I can’t wait to get the professional photographs and video back to relive all of the special moments.  I could turn this into a tome, but here are some of my favorite moments of the weekend.

We kicked off the weekend with a ladies tea at The Drake Hotel.


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My mom, who is the queen of gift wrapping, made the tables sparkle with these amazing gifts.


The flowers are handmade.  Each petal was held over a candle to get it to curl!  They were spectacular.

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The bridesmaids received their jewelry for the wedding day, monogrammed tote bags, monogrammed shirts to wear while getting ready, and these purses.   My mom and I made all of them.  Well, my mom did most of the work but I did cut all the fabric and sewed one entire purse by myself!  It was such a fun project!  At times we thought we were crazy.


It was so special to have all of these amazing ladies with me before the big day!


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Next stop was rehearsal at the church and then a delicious rehearsal dinner.  


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I loved spending the morning and afternoon with all of the ladies getting ready at the hotel. 



Putting on my dream wedding dress and having my mom help me with the veil…. Surreal.



Then the moment I had been waiting for, the “first look” with Chris.  Oh buddy was he a sight.  So incredibly handsome.  Even though it was teeth-chattering cold (thanks a lot Chicago) I barely felt it!





The ceremony was beautiful.  It was extra special because Chris’ father, a minister, married us.






One memory that will always stay with me was seeing our Jr. Groomsmen and Ring Bearers peeking around the end of the aisle to watch me walk down. 


Then to the party!  I was so excited to get my first glimpse of the reception.  It did not disappoint.  It was better than I had pictured.  The flowers, the lighting, the table settings, the chandeliers, everything was just perfect.  It made every minute of planning worth it.  The band was insane (they play everything and everyone raved about them) and the food was scrumptious (the candied bacon and chicken and waffle appetizers were crowd favorites). 



I don’t think the phone pictures do it justice.  You can be sure I will be posting more once we get the professional shots back.  Oh you were here looking for recipes?  

Everyone loved watching the little ones dance.  They could not have been cuter.


Speaking of dancing…. My husband surprised me with the most AMAZING dance routine ever to Uptown Funk.  I assume once I have the professional video it will go viral.  Unbelievable.


My dad’s toast was the definition of a tear-jerker.   All of the toasts were so special and heartwarming.  Can I please go back and do it all again?


Chris was not the only person with a surprise at the reception.  I had a groom’s cake made in the shape of his beloved Tigers baseball cap.



I am running out of adjectives, but it was a magical night. 



Then Chris and I had THE BEST HONEYMOON EVER in Hawaii.  We are pretty sure it was the best honeymoon any one has ever had.  Ever.




I had some amazing food and pool drinks that will definitely be replicated.  Hopefully they will show up on the blog.  This is a cooking blog, right?  It has been hard to tell that over the past few months.  I can’t wait to start working on it again. 

Thanks for humoring this new bride.  I love being able to share some of my favorite memories.  I promise, the next post will be about cooking.  I think….
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