bbq bean rice bowl.

Disclaimer: I know this isn't really a "recipe" but it's a super easy dinner that makes for a great meatless Monday. Groundbreaking? Absolutely not. Easy and cheap? 100%.

I usually make a large meal on Sundays so I can eat leftovers the rest of the week, but after spending the weekend with my parents and having another weekend away coming up, I wasn't in the mood to go to the grocery store. So I did some cabinet searching and was pleased to discover I had everything I needed for a bbq bean rice bowl.

What you need:

  • Rice (I used white boil-in-a-bag, but I'm also a huge fan of Trader Joe's microwaveable white and brown rice--you could also do quinoa)
  • Cheddar cheese (sharpness according to taste, I like to shred my own)
  • Guac (I love the single serve containers - you can usually find at any grocery store)
  • Beans (Kidney, black, chickpea, refried...the choice is yours. I used black)
  • BBQ sauce (again, to your liking. I used Trader Joe's Carolina Gold which has a nice mustardy kick)
  • Salsa (there's a theme here--whatever you like best. I love Trader Joe's Corn and Chile Tomato-Less Salsa)

What you do: 
  • Cook rice according to instructions.
  • Drain and rinse beans (if you're using anything other than refried) and add a couple of tablespoons of BBQ sauce to taste. Cook over low-medium heat until warmed through.
  • Assemble your bowl with the rice base and add guac, cheese, salsa and beans.
  • Enjoy.

Stupid easy! I usually make a big batch so I can have lunch the next day: it reheats nicely and keeps you full.


weekend recap.

the best crunchy oysters at pearl.

the makings of bananas foster waffles for brunch.

a cozy Sunday fire enthusiast.
Did you have a good weekend? I went to my parents' house to celebrate my mom's birthday and it was just what I needed. We went to Pearl on Friday night, which was delicious as always--the perfect way to toast my mom. Saturday was a nightmare in terms of weather (super rainy and windy and cold) so I hunkered down and watched movies while my parents attended a wedding--I watched Friday the 13th for the first time, and it was a wonderful October night.

On Sunday my brother and his family came over for a birthday brunch for my mom, and I made bananas foster waffles using this sauce from Stonewall Kitchen--so good. The rest of the day was very low-key and nap-filled and I'm (somewhat) ready to face the week.


kitchen goals.

{ photo by jennifer hughes - elizabeth lawson design ]

{ Rachel Paxton - Masion de Pax }
{ amber interiors }

My condo was in pretty great condition when I moved in. Aside from painting, I didn't foresee any major changes but now that I've been settled for a few months I'm leaning towards revamping the kitchen. Currently it's totally livable and fine, but the cabinets are a generic oak and the appliances need some updates--I have a gas stove and I absolutely love it, but the only way of determining the temp is to check an antiquated thermometer inside (and I sure would love a fridge with a water and ice dispenser).

So I'm searching the internet for inspiration - part of me loves the idea of doing a darker cabinet on the bottom and maybe lighter on top, but then I see an all-white kitchen and I love that, too. And I've also always loved open shelving over tile, but I'm pretty restricted with space so I might want things hidden.

So basically, I have no idea what to do but I don't think I could go wrong with any of the above pictures. If I'm ever able to make a decision, I'll let you know.


a very gluttonous weekend.

Pai Men because I'm a creature of habit.

An understated filet at the Grill Room.

Oysters and wine at Eventide.

I didn't plan on eating my way through Portland this weekend, but that's what happened and I'm not mad about it.

After a very stressful week, I decided to go to my old faithful Pai Men for dinner on Friday and I got the usual. Eventually I'll try something new, but why mess with a good thing? I also finished the book You which was super creepy (I had started watching the show on Lifetime before I realized there was a book - both are good and cringe inducing).

Saturday consisted of Pure Barre and an insane amount of laundry, and then I treated myself to dinner (treating myself was a recurring theme throughout the weekend). I sauntered down to the Grill Room, and had a perfect and leisurely dinner of crab and pea shoot salad, a bacon wrapped filet over mashed potatoes with blue cheese, mushrooms and asparagus, and then topped the night off with apple fritters with butter pecan gelato that I enjoyed in the comfort of my living room.

After cleaning my place Sunday morning I went to Eventide for oysters, a lobster roll, and clam chowder. I hadn't been there since my sibling rendezvous earlier this summer, and it was just as good as I remembered (the key is getting there right when they open and grabbing a spot at the bar). I did a little shopping at Anthropologie and took advantage of their 25% off sale by buying jeans and a candle, and then I bought some faux leather leggings at Athleta that I'm really excited about--I had wanted to buy some for a while and these have the perfect look and texture (but be warned, they run big so size down).

And that was pretty much it--I was kind of all over the place but it was the perfect mix of hanging at home and being out - a truly great weekend in Portland.


splurging on sleep.

west elm's belgian flax linen sheets.

Let's talk sheets. For most of my adult life, I've slept in the basic cotton sheet set you grab on a whim at Target or Home Goods. They were easy and fine and I generally had no complaints.

But after battling through this summer and the insanely high temps and humidity, I decided it was high time I explore my sheet options and see what could serve the dual purpose of keeping me cool in the summer and warm in the winter. After extensive research, linen appeared to be the best option.

I bought West Elm's Belgian Flax Linen Sheets during one of their 30% off sales, and to say I'm obsessed is an understatement. These sheets are the best. They kept me cool during the tail end of the summer, and as the temps have dropped I've been perfectly comfortable with the addition of a quilt. I love the weight and the texture--they're soft, but not overly so, and they're also slightly heavy but breathable--every time I climb into bed I thank myself for splurging on the set. Sleeping in any other kind of sheet has become a let down.

I seriously cannot recommend these enough--if you've ever thought of buying linen sheets, do it!  


an easy and delicious bolognese.

It's hard to take appetizing pictures of spaghetti sometimes.

This is my favorite time of year to cook. I understand the importance of seasonal produce and there's nothing I love more than an heirloom tomato during the height of summer, but for me, it's all about the comfort foods: stews, pasta bakes, root vegetables...there's really nothing better, and living in New England gives ample opportunities to cook all things comforting in the cooler months.

99% of the time I dine at an Italian restaurant, I order bolognese. It's the ultimate comfort food, and I'm always on the lookout for the next recipe to make at home. While Ina Garten's Weeknight Bolognese has been a staple, I wanted to find a similarly simple dish with a slightly different flavor profile (but I also ultimately wanted to avoid traditional recipes that include veal--personal preference).

My sister recently gave me The Pretty Dish, by Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats and the first thing I made was her bolognese (simply titled "Our Favorite" in her cookbook). It was really, really, good--I loved the addition of mushrooms, and the only thing I might change for future renditions is adding a mirepoix at the very beginning. And warning: this makes a TON--I ate this for a week and still have two containers in my freezer just waiting to be defrosted.

Our Favorite (Bolognese) from The Pretty Dish

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet onion, diced [I would also add a 1/2 cup of diced celery and a 1/2 cup of diced carrots]
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch plus 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste [I used a 1/4 cup and it was fine]
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

What you do:
  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt (add celery and carrots if you're into those, too). Cook for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the mushrooms and stir. Cook 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the mushrooms soften. Increase the heat to medium and add the pork and beef, pushing the veggies to the sides and breaking the meat apart with a wooden spoon. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and breaking the meat into small pieces or until it's browned.
  • Add the sugar, half and half, wine, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes tomato paste and Parmesan. Stir well, and bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve over the pasta of your choice! I did regular spaghetti, but any hearty pasta would do.
  • And add additional Parmesan, because, of course. 


weekend recap.

Hamayaki at Pai Men.

Naps and Hocus Pocus.

The perfect leaf on my doorstep.

Did you have a good weekend? I did pretty much nothing, which was just what I needed--after a number of late nights last week I was psyched to have nothing on the agenda. On Friday I went out to Pai Men Miyake, a place that has quickly become my favorite neighborhood spot (I seriously go once a week). They make a mean Manhattan and while they're know for their ramen, I always get the steamed pork buns and Hamayaki, which is broiled crab and scallops over rice with kewpie mayo, truffle oil and eel sauce. It's to die for.

Saturday and Sunday consisted of Pure Barre, naps, and football. I managed to go to the grocery store and on Sunday I made brisket using this sauce - it's really good (although I didn't half the recipe and it appears I will be eating brisket until the end of time).

And that's pretty much it--the forecast calls for low temps and that means sweaters and continuing to burn the best fall candle on a regular basis (Anthropologie's Pumpkin Soufflé).

Have a good week!



I love my street.

It's a miracle, we made it to Friday. This week was much more manageable on the work front, and the best thing happened on Tuesday: my sister came up from Pittsburgh so I went down to MA to surprise her at my parent's house. My brother and nieces came up and we had an amazing and delish dinner. It was so much fun to catch up in person after not seeing her for months, and I can't wait for our next rendezvous at Thanksgiving.

In other news, I finally had Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi and I'm obsessed: I used this recipe to cook it so it was super crispy and I just topped with their new autumnal harvest alfredo sauce (I added some brown sugar to the sauce because I like my squash-related dishes on the sweeter side) and Parmesan. So good.

I'm looking forward to doing absolutely nothing this weekend. Have a good one!


weekend things.

A changing tree down the street.

Pumpkins at Trader Joe's.

A small dog with an awkward paw.

Happy October! Last week was totally crazy on the work front (and on the news front--yikes), so I was incredibly happy for Friday to arrive. I ordered pizza and crashed early and it was just what I needed.

On Saturday I took a Pure Barre class and then did a deep clean of my condo--it was long overdue and I felt rather accomplished afterwards. The afternoon was doing a little work, and then I decided the only way to celebrate Saturday was to go to Chaval for a Manhattan and burger. It was perfection.

Sunday started with another Pure Barre class followed by a trip to Trader Joe's (I got their new butternut squash pizza crust and I'm super excited to try it). I did laundry and lounged and watched You've Got Mail (a fall staple) and then grabbed a bite at Union before the main event: a Ray LaMontagne concert. I decided to go on a whim last week, and I scored an amazing seat.

I'm definitely wiped today (back to the grind at work) but it was a great weekend.

P.S. Olive is back to her old self--I ended up switching her food to an easily digestible formula and she is doing much better. Huge relief.