our weekend: home sweet home

Since we haven’t been “stepping out” on too many Saturdays lately, I thought I’d start my own little weekend series called, “Our Weekend,” creative title, I know. I think it’s fun to see what people have been up to during their weekend hours and I hope you’ll enjoy a little snippet from our lives.

We spent the weekend close to home since we’ve been gone for the last few weeks. It was nice, quiet and cozy, just the way a weekend in January should be.

I went on a run. A rainy run. It was cold but glorious.

We worked on the yard, pulling out tons of old veggie plants, pruning our grapes, and trying to get our backyard under control. (Something we maybe should have done 2 months ago.) When my husband goes to town in the backyard there’s always some type of plant casualty. It usually involves a tree or some bush that live(d) in the middle of the yard and that was always in the way of the lawn mower. Yesterday was no exception.

I made my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe that comes straight from the First Lutheran Church of Sauk Centre, Minnesota cookbook. If you don’t have a Midwestern church cookbook in your collection, I highly recommend getting one. I open this cookbook when I’m looking for one of those “remember when Grandma used to make” recipes. These cookies are soft and chewy and you can leave your mixer on the whole time while you add the ingredients. They’re my go-to cookie.

For dinner we made this delicious Hot and Sour soup and fresh rolls. I love fresh rolls.

The little one and I are headed out to a baby shower for a dear friend this afternoon and I’m sure there will be lots of football watching while I’m gone.

Happy weekend to everyone. I hope you stayed warm and feel rested and renewed for the week ahead!



veggie harvest

BJ just pulled our carrot harvest last night. I can’t wait to roast these up sometime this weekend. I love roasted carrots and all of the different colors will make them even more fun to eat.

Our garden flourished this year. We had peas, cucumbers, LOTS of tomatoes, beets, onions, garlic, lettuces, carrots and zucchini. Beyond watering, we don’t spend a lot of time in our garden. I think the key to our successful harvest has been raised beds filled with good dirt and good compost. We also have an abundance of sun in our backyard.

Another thing I’m proud of this year was that we actually used (and are still using) all of the produce we grew. We made refrigerator pickles with our cucumbers, fresh tomatoes for marinara sauce and canned salsa, a double recipe of zucchini bread- one loaf to eat and one to freeze- and dried the garlic and onions for use throughout the year.

We had so much zucchini and I knew I could only eat so many zucchini fries, grilled zucchini and zucchini bread, so I was on the hunt for a good zucchini recipe. Once again, I used Tastespotting for inspiration and found Zucchini Cakes. You guys, they were SO good! The recipe is fairly basic and can be easily spruced up. They key is to squeeze as much water as possible out of the zucchini before you mix in the rest of the ingredients. They were delicious with marinara sauce, Trader Joe’s Cilantro salad dressing and a homemade cool Ranch dressing.

Here’s the basic recipe (inspired by many recipes around the interwebs):

1 large zucchini, grated and water squeezed out

1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko

1 large egg

A couple cloves of garlic

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

You could also add Tony Cachere’s Seasoning or Red Pepper Flakes for a little zing

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil

Grate the zucchini and use a towel to squeeze as much of the moisture as possible from the zucchini. Place in large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl. Give a few shakes of salt and pepper over the whole mixture. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Make sure there is enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Form the zucchini mixture into patties. Once your oil is hot add your patties into the pan. Fry them up for a couple minutes per side. You want them golden brown. Serve with marinara, Ranch, goddess dressing, the possibilities are endless.

I realize this recipe is a little late as you’re probably through  your zucchini harvest, but I hope you’ll save it for next year or when you have a hankering for zucchini!


pizza on the grill

I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend. We spent time soaking up the gorgeous weather this weekend and enjoyed what just might be one of our last nice weekends in the PNW.

We took a family trip to the Bellingham Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and got a few items to compliment the bounty of tomatoes that have been growing in our garden to make margherita pizzas for dinner. Fresh basil and Samish Bay Mozzarella cheese were paired with a homemade crust and LOTS of tomatoes for this delicious dinner. We cooked down our cherry tomatoes to make a tomato sauce. We added a bit of sugar and a few cloves of fresh garlic (also from our garden) to round out the flavors in the sauce. I could have eaten it by the spoonful!

We used our pizza stone on the grill to bake the pizzas. It worked great to get that bubbly crust with just a bit of char. It was a bit of Via Tribunali via our backyard grill. Paired with a glass of red wine and salad made from more of our backyard veggies it was a perfect evening.

Baking on the grill

The finished product.

Our tasty meal.

It was almost a date...and then this one woke up...such is life.

We might have a pizza lover on our hands.

We hated it. Soon after this picture was taken the last piece was eaten.

...and we're done.

Really done. A drop of water hit the stone while it was hot and it cracked.

What were you up to this weekend? We hope you enjoyed your last days of summer!

memorial day bbq

We had some friends over for a little Memorial Day BBQ. I felt like it was our coming out party, like “look at us, we can put together a fiesta even though we have a baby.”

We provided hot dogs and brats and did a little toppings bar with over 20 toppings. My friend Cailin did a hot dog party for her husband’s 30th birthday so I can’t say the idea was an original, but nonetheless it was a lot of fun. It was a great first post baby party because it didn’t take much work to put together but it was more than just grilling dogs and brats.

Guests entered the backyard from the side gate. BJ spiffed up our yard for the festivities.

Menu written on the side of the beer fridge. It's really hard to have good handwriting on the side of a refrigerator.

Under the carport. Because of my job, I'm lucky to have access to decor items so it's a little easier to jazz up a space. You don't have to have a lot of decorations, but if you can add one large element it makes the space look all the more special.

I bought this old window at the ReStore and posted our hot dog/topping ideas on the window panes.

Our combinations.

Mason jars make fun glassware for the summer. Even if you use disposable products for most items, little touches of glass make a big impact. We used glass for beverages and paper for everything else. I did 1-1/2 loads of dishes in the dishwasher, not bad for a 20 person party.

Always take your condiments out of the original containers they came in. These pickles look so much fancier in a glass jar. All of the other condiments were in white bowls and ramekins. I placed the buns in a basket lined with tea towels.

This was also the first time BJ has had 3 beers on tap, so it was quite an exciting evening. I highly recommend brewing your own beer and getting a beer fridge with taps for your party space. It is really unique and a great conversation starter.

The beer fridge. BJ labeled his taps and the beer's stats. I'm not sure what most of these numbers mean, but the guys enjoyed it.

We love our friends…thanks to all who stopped by.

Nora and Judah playing together.

BJ's plate, sans brat. For some reason I thought this was a strange plate of food.

My friends are so cute. 🙂

The little girls sharing the pineapple juice leftover from the pineapple topping.

Lior and Isla...BFFs? They're only 6 days apart.

Bec and Me with our girls.

Most of the girls. Thanks to our husbands for always taking these photos. 🙂

We hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. I know in most parts of the country it’s the start of summer. We can’t feel it yet, but hopefully will soon.

Also, I joined Twitter last week (I know, I know, welcome to 2011) so feel free to follow me at http://www.twitter.com/rachelmlouws.

my new dress

When I saw this tutorial to make a dress out of a t-shirt and a piece of fabric and I just knew had to try it. Could it really be that easy?!

My mom thought I was crazy when I called her asking about fabric amounts for a skirt, but I have to say, I think it turned out pretty cute!

A couple notes on the tutorial, my t-shirt already had tiny ruffles on it, so I didn’t do any embellishing there. And, instead of the drawstring I used elastic.

Here’s my little photo shoot with the chicks…

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