5 Tips for a Sweet and Savory Marriage

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

5 Tips for a Sweet and Savory Marriage:

 

It is no big secret that Chef and I had the hardest year of our marriage thus far. Somewhere between him running a restaurant, us welcoming our second child, and me entering the workforce, we let our marriage take the backseat. Once we hit our rock-bottom in June, we decided we were going to take back our love and fight for each other. We had too much love for one another and the life we built together for five years to just give up. Giving up would honestly have been the easy way out. It was much harder to address our issues, communicate, and work through them, but we did it. We were able to build up our marriage back up and are better than ever! Our experience this past year taught me a lot about the amount of effort that it actually takes to sustain a happy marriage with open communication. These are my tips from my experience.

 

  1. Be Their Biggest Fan: This world is full of judgment, and other people waiting to see you fail. When your home, it should be a safe haven, void of judgment and full of acceptance. Chef constantly builds me up and makes me feel confident that I can do anything that I set my mind to. When he is stressed in the kitchen, I stay calm and offer him encouraging words even if I’m stressing too, because I know what he is capable of as a Chef. I believe in him.

 

  1. DO NOT Talk to Friends or Family about Your Problems. They may mean well, but they love you more than they love your significant other. If you constantly rant to them about the fights and negatives in your marriage, they are most likely not going to offer you words of encouragement. Instead, they are going to get defensive of you and blame your significant other, thus making you even more confused about the situation. ALWAYS talk to your husband or wife! Talk it out until you both feel comfortable with the issue. I have learned that involving outsiders never helps your marriage.

 

  1. Don’t keep Secrets: Secrets, lies, and even white lies are like a cancer in a marriage. In the beginning of our marriage, Chef would tell me white lies to avoid confrontation. As you can imagine, once I found out the truth, it caused more issues than if he would have just been honest from the beginning. They were such silly lies that it made feel like I couldn’t trust him. If he could lie about something so small, what else was he lying about? This past year, the secrets that I kept, separated us significantly. I would lie to him and then feel so guilty and unworthy of his love that I would just push him away. It wasn’t until we laid everything out on the table that we could continue with an open, honest marriage. I regret a lot about what I did, but I NEVER regret telling him the truth.

 

  1. Make Your Marriage the #1 Priority: When Chef and I first were married, my Dad told us to wait to have kids. I thought it was because he thought I was too young (which I was), but it was really because we needed time to build a foundation before introducing kids into the mix. Of course we didn’t listen and had kids right away. Looking back, I do wish we would have had time to build our marriage firs, but having kids early taught us the importance of making our marriage the top priority. We always said we would put our marriage first, even before our kids, because if we aren’t happy then they suffer. Although we love our kids more than anything, it is so important that we don’t let them cause problems between us. Being parents is very stressful and it is easy to take it out on your significant other. You have to find a way to ban together and be a team. Our marriage comes first at all times and we always have each other’s back. He just called me actually about a last minute catering that added a little bit of stress. Before he hung up, he said, “Remember what you always say? Don’t stress the small stuff! At least we will be together.” And he is right. Everything outside of our family is miniscule to me in the big picture of life. It is very easy to let life get in the way of your marriage. Between parenting, our careers, and daily stress, we stopped putting effort into our marriage and stopped making it a number one priority. Now, we make our decisions based on what is going to be best for our marriage and always put it above anything or anyone. He is my best friend and the person I want to spend the rest of my life with so of course my life will continue to revolve around him.

 

  1. Keep it Spicy! …in the bedroom of course! I once read an article about a wife and husband who decided to have sex every single day for one year, even if one of them didn’t feel up to it. The results? A very happy, fulfilled, marriage. The author said that they communicated better and could not keep their hands off of each other! I completely believe in this. When our marriage began to decline, our sex-life declined and it had a very negative effect on us feeling connected. From what I have experienced with Chef, sex helps men feel connected. I have found that if I can communicate openly about what I need in the bedroom, I can communicate much better outside of the bedroom. Telling your partner what your needs are in all areas of your marriage is crucial to the success of your marriage.

You May Be A Chef’s Wife If….

You may be a chef’s wife if:

You look forward to Mondays and Tuesdays instead of Fridays and Saturdays… (His days off!)

You wait for him to get off work to eat together (this can be anywhere from 11-midnight and may consist of drive-thru tacos or if your lucky, something from his restaurant).

You start critiquing dishes at other restaurants like you are Padma herself from Top Chef.

Your vocabulary has expanded to include words such as aioli and roux.

You are lonely! And you may find yourself becoming jealous of the coworkers that get to spend twelve hours of their day with him.

You can’t finish a sentence without his phone ringing with some work “emergency.”

You’re broke, but can’t understand why since he is working 60 hour weeks! Doesn’t that mean time and a half? Not when they are on a salary girlfriend. Not when they are on a salary.

You are left in the hospital after having your baby because he has to check-in deliveries and help with the dinner rush.

You resent the job, but realize he is living his dream so you try to be positive!

You attend all functions by yourself or with your kids because he works nights and time off just isn’t an option.

You have started to cook all the time and may have started your own food blog. There are two reasons for this.

1.) If you don’t cook, who will? When he is home the last thing he wants to do is cook!

2.) He is so passionate about what he does that you can’t help but wonder if there is something magical about cooking…like maybe there is some sort of secret that no one else knows. You start cooking and realize there is no psychedelic alternate universe BUT it is fun and it gives you something to do TOGETHER!

5 Food Ideas For A Great Superbowl Party

Chef does not watch football.  I mean never. In the past 5 years, not once has my TV been turned to a football game. So when he came home the other day with the idea to host a Superbowl party, I was very confused. Then I realized that he just wanted an excuse to have a party and to cook! This made me realize that the Superbowl was very close and I thought I would share some fun ideas and yummy recipes for Game day.

First, we love “food bars.” It is a popular trend at weddings too; taco bars, nacho bars, and even potato bars.

1. Nacho Bar: Set-up a Nacho Bar with lots of fun toppings. Start with large tortilla chips and set-up re-fried beans, black beans, shredded chicken, ground beef, nacho cheese, shredded cheese, tomatoes, green onions, olives, sour cream, and try making our signature Avocado La Crema. You could make this into a taco bar, by swapping out your tortilla chips and adding warm corn tortillas, crunch taco shells, and flour tortillas for burritos.

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2. Hot- Dog Bar: Set-up an amazing and delicious Hot-Dog bar with all the traditional fixn’s and add in some fun ones too!

  • Mustard, Ketchup, Relish
  • Chili, cheddar cheese, sour cream, sweet onions
  • Tomatoes, green chilis, pickles, nacho cheese, jalepenos, and sauteed onions

TIP: I learned this from my brother-in-law. If you are cooking hot dogs for a crowd, put them in the slow cooker. GENIUS. They taste like the hot dogs you would get at the stadium.

This lady shows you how to do it: Slow-Cooker Hot Dogs.40 hotdogs in crockpot

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Baked Potato Bar: We were recently asked to do this at a Wedding and we had so much fun brainstorming toppings: The sky is the limit on this one! Serve a variety of toppings and baked potatoes.

  • Traditional toppings: sour cream, chives, cheddar cheese, bacon bits
  • Pulled Pork w/coleslaw, onions, bbq sauce, and nacho cheese
  • Taco Toppings w/ground beef or turkey
  • Chicken, buffalo sauce, blue cheese, ranch dressing
  • Chili, nacho cheese, onions, beans, and sour cream
  • Cheese and Veggies

4. Chips n’ Dip: Aren’t chips and dips the official foods of Superbowl. Try this one out for an alternative to the traditional chili n’ cheese dips.

  • Buffalo Chicken Dip: Cream cheese, chicken, buffalo wing sauce (we use Frank’s), ranch dressing, and colby-jack cheese. My brother-in-law makes this dip which is where we first learned about it. Anytime he is in charge of a dish, I know he is going to make this and I very much look forward to it! So easy. Here is the recipe from Taste of Home. The difference is that the Taste of Home recipe is baked. Try it that way if you want, but we eat it microwaved. My brother-in-law puts everything into a bowl and microwaves it until it is melty, hot, and so delicious! Serve with tortilla chips and celery.

buffalo chicken dip]

5. Turkey Chili: If you want something lighter for the big day, try this! It is from Oxygen magazine and it is the bomb! Make it with the ground chicken or ground turkey like we do. 1 cup of hot wing sauce may be too spicy for many people. I would start with the 1/2 cup. You will be glad you tried this recipe. Enjoy! And don’t forget the blue cheese crumbles!

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Avocado La Crema sauce

Chef first made this sauce when he was the Head Chef at a restaurant. Avocados, lime juice, cilantro, sour cream, and cilantro. A match made in heaven:)

Avocado La Crema Sauce:

  • 1 large, ripe Avocado
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (more or less depending on taste), chopped
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. of hot sauce (we use sririacha)
  • Put all ingredients into food processor and pule until blended. Serve with nachos, street tacos, wraps, and even as a dipping sauce for chicken or steak.

Embracing Our Children’s Differences

My daughter is an amazing child. From a very early age she was sensitive to other’s feelings. I remember the day after her first birthday; she was very concerned for her crying Grandma and went to comfort her. Brielle is also very intuitive, reading my feelings and my tones like an expert. She has a method for everything and a way that she likes to do things. When we work on homework, she likes to eliminate all the wrong answers and leave herself with the right one. For a long time, she had a specific way she like to get dressed, open her cracker packs, and organize her toys. Her feelings get hurt easily, she is sensitive to the loud sounds of the movie theater, and she has meltdowns if her patterns are not honored.

For years I struggled with her personality, shifting between trying to break her OCD ways and indulging them. Most of my insecurities about her actions came from comparing her to other children. Why does so and so’s child not have to have the matching princess plate, cup, silverware, and place mat at every meal? I remember being in the car with Brielle and her friend who wanted their crackers opened. Of course, Brielle needed her package opened down the side, but with all the crackers still intact so that she could get them out herself. Whereas, her friend’s was opened sloppily at the top of the package, yet she was happy with it. I was overcome with shame, as I explained to my girlfriend how Brielle had to have it that way. If not, there would be a meltdown. I wondered what people thought of me, did they think I was an overindulgent mother who didn’t know how to take control of her child? Trust me, I had tried. I spent years battling with her behavior.

Then one day, I decided to embrace her personality and all that it was. I thought, this is my child, I am her mother, and I have the freedom to raise her the way that I want. Yes, she is different than most kids and that’s why I love her. I once wished she wasn’t so shy, but now as she gets older, I am grateful she doesn’t embrace strangers. She loves to read, she can do 200 piece puzzles with me, she is smart beyond her years, and most of all she is incredibly loving and kind. Last night she wanted to hold my hand then looked up at me and said, “I just want to make sure that you know how much I love you.”

We call each other our best friends and honestly I enjoy her just as much as anyone my age. Embracing her differences has led to less meltdowns. Although, I still find myself explaining to other’s why her behavior is the way it is, I know that I don’t have to do that. It is not their business how I choose to raise my child. So what if she needs a matching meal set at every meal. I know what she wants and I give it to her. When I have tried to change her patterns, I could tell it gave her immense anxiety and I hated it. I would rather give in to some of her OCD patterns then to cause her panic.

When I did decide to embrace and love who she was, not who she “should” be, our bond only strengthened. Now, at 4 years old, she has grown out of many of her old patterns (I can open crackers whichever way I want and many times she will tell me to just pick out her cup or her clothes and we have no problems). I can now tell the difference between the behavior that needs to be punished and the fits that she throws out of frustration or a change in her pattern. When it is the latter, I scoop her in my arms, kiss her, and give her exactly what she needs; security.

We all have children with different needs, desires, and behaviors. Every day, I am more in love with Brielle and myself for choosing to parent how I want to parent. Instead of parenting the way a psychologist in a book thinks I should parent. There is no manual for parenting. No one size fits all. As long as we love our kids, listen to our intuitions, and guide them through life, we have done a great job. I am a great mom, Wade is a great dad and Brielle shows us that every day.

Homemade Sweet Milk Dinner Rolls

589For the first time in years, there was a snowstorm of epic proportions in November! I can’t even remember Boise receiving this much snow, cold, or ice so early on. I mean, it isn’t even winter yet. It is still Fall! The season of pumpkins, gratitude, and Thansksgiving. However, this snow has people thinking its Christmas! Honestly, these temperatures make me want to hibernate, clean my home, light candles, and BAKE! I will have quite a few blog posts in the next few days of all the baking I have been doing. You would think I was nesting. Well, I kind of am I guess! Nesting, hibernating, same difference.

Anyways, after a catering a couple of weeks ago, we had extra meatballs left over so I thought, “let’s make meatball sliders!” Of course, Chef who loves meatball subs agreed! Well he loves anything meatball, anything Italian, and ANYTHING sausage so it was a win for him! You can find the recipe for the sliders on the blog page:) This blog is about the rolls I made for the Meatball Sliders. I started by making Taste of Home’s Sweet Milk Dinner Rolls. They are the only rolls I make because they are truly THE BEST! Slightly sweet and hearty, but still melt in your mouth and soft. Perfect for a meatball slider sandwich or THANKSGIVING!

082You start by dissolving the yeast into warm milk (I put it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes). Then, you add the sugar,salt, melted butter, and 3 cups of the flour and beat with a mixer. Add more flour until you have a workable dough. Turn it on to a floured surface (I flour a large cutting board) and knead it approx. 8-10 minutes. Grease a bowl, turn the ball into it and set it in. Then, spray cooking spray on plastic wrap before covering it over your dough. It will have to rise for about an hour. I set mine in my laundry room with the warmth of the dryer.

 

 

083After an hour, punch down your dough, roll it out on a floured surface, cut it into 16 pieces, shape them into balls, and place them on a greased 9×13 inch pan. Have you tried the Pam Baking Spray? I use that. I love it! Although, if you are more natural and organic, grease with oil and flour:) Cover them again (I use a kitchen towel) and let them rise for approx. 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Then bake them up in a 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. YUM! Delicious. We gobble them up at our house and your Thanksgiving guests will too!

 

 

 

 

Recipe:

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4-5 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the sugar, butter, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; divide into 16 pieces. Shape each into a ball. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks. Serve warm. Yield: 16 rolls.

Lofthouse-Style Sugar Cookies

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Who doesn’t love a Lofthouse or Granny B’s soft and thick sugar cookie? They remind me of childhood. Every Halloween my mom would buy the packaged sugar cookies with orange frosting and sprinkles. YUM! I really wanted to try to make them myself so last year I experimented with several recipes and I came up with the best combo of recipes to create the perfect “store-bought” tasting sugar cooking! Of course, these taste WAY better!

I meant to write this post before Halloween so all of you could try these delicious sugar cookies, but it didn’t work out for me. Between work, caterings, birthdays galore, and gearing up for Halloween with the kiddos, I could not find time to Blog. I really want to share this recipe though because it is the BEST sugar cookie recipe and the ONLY one that I make. Chef goes CRAZY for these and I literally made them a dozen times last winter. There are several recipes online that you can find, but I use the recipe from Just A Pinch’s website. You can find the recipe here: Lofthouse Sugar Cookies. I like the amount of cookies this recipe makes. Some sugar cookie recipes just make too many!

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I started off making the above recipe with my special helper! Then, we rolled the dough out and cut-out pumpkins, cats, and ghosts. My helper threw in a gingerbread man or two:) Here is a quick tip: Make them very thin because they rise a lot when they cook! It must be all the baking powder in the recipe.

 

 

We creamed the butter, sugar, and sour cream. Then, added in the eggs and vanilla.

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Lastly we mixed in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

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We rolled the dough out and cut-out our shapes.

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Now for the frosting. I use the recipe from one of my favorite food sites, Two Peas and Their Pod. I love all their desserts and if I’m trying something new, I’ll try their recipes first. I also add almond extract to the recipe. Probably 1/2 tsp. Using food coloring, I made a few different colors and we had a blast frosting them!

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These sugar cookies are great for the holidays which are just around the corner! And I always make them on Valentine’s Day too! I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does!

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Lofthouse-Style Sugar Cookie Recipe from In A Pinch:

1/2 c sour cream
1 c sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 call purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Cream the sour cream, sugar, and butter. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Then, mix in the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sometimes I have to use my hands to incorporate all the flour. If you choose to make cut-out cookies, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. For round cookies, roll 1 tsp of dough into a ball and then flatten it half-way down once you have placed it on the cookie sheet. Make sure to grease your cookie sheets! Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. I always take them out at 10 minutes.

 

Delicious Buttercream Frosting from Two Peas and Their Pod: 

 

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream
Cream together the butter and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and add a pinch of salt. Then, add 6 tablespoons of heavy cream. The consistency of this frosting is very thick so you may need to add an extra tablespoon of heavy cream.