Hi, I'm Rachel.

A few years ago I could barely boil water.

True story.

Determined to be a kick ass wife, I developed a love for football and learned to cook in my tiny Jersey City kitchen. I spend my days working in Manhattan, my nights and weekends chasing after a rambunctious toddler, and the hours in between cooking with my husband and feeding my TV habit...oh, and I blog about it all! 

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The Pantry

Thursday
Apr232015

What are your thoughts on eating in bed?

I mentioned that Penelope and I were solo on Friday evening and for me, that means I get to do and watch whatever I want once she goes to sleep.

And so I did what anyone in my position would do. I indulged in one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures: eating in bed. I put on my pajamas, cooked up one of my favorite comfort meals, climbed into bed, and ate my dinner while sitting pretty watching Outlander. When Shaun is home, I'd never get away with this. He hates when I eat food in bed and in all the years we've been together, I've never seen him eat food while in bed. Occasionally if he falls asleep on the couch, I'll creep into bed with my dessert and catch up on a show he would have no interest in, but this is a rare occasion.

And so what I want to know is: what are your thoughts on eating in bed? Am I the only crazy one? It is such a glorious indulgence!

PS: We also had a pretty great weigh in on instagram on Friday night.

 

Tuesday
Apr212015

A-mazing Spring Weekend


This weekend was nothing short of perfection in the weather department. I've been longing for sunny spring days and this weekend we got two of them. The cherry blossoms were in bloom, the playgrounds were packed and we all benefited from a very healthy dose of vitamin c. There's nothing quite like ending the day with a tinge of sunburn, windswept hair and a strong desire to make a cocktail and fall asleep early from outdoor exhaustion.

Shaun occasionally refs soccer on spring weekends and this Saturday he had a tournament which meant that Penelope and I were on our own from Friday night to Saturday night.

After Shaun left on Friday, I broke out the popcorn machine for our girls night. Penelope loves it and so do I. It just makes movie night feel really special, like an event. I love that. Once Penelope went to sleep, I curled up in bed to watch the latest Outlander and I also started The Jinx. Full blown obsession on both.


Saturday we were up early and hit up music class.

Afterwards, we ran back to our apartment to get ready to head out for the day. We were heading to Brooklyn to visit my sister Kim for the day. It's so rare that we have a free weekend day to leisurely do this kind of thing and it was awesome.

We started with lunch at Avlee, a charming little Greek restaurant. We dined on pita and baba ganoush, gyro bites, Greek salad and chunky fries. It was the perfect fuel for an afternoon at the park!
We headed over to the park and ran into Kim's future mother-in-law and some friends. This is what I love about city living.


Many trips down the slide and a swing meltdown later, we were off to cool down in the shade and indulge in my favorite cold summer treat - ice cream! We found a gelato place nearby and P and I each got a cup of strachiatella.
Penelope was also enamored by the amazing array of Italian cookies and so we both picked out one of those as well. M&M for her and a pinioli for me, in case you were wondering. We walked back to Kim's to try on bridesmaid dresses, and then Penelope and I headed out of dodge to meet back up with Shaun. We picked up dinner to bring home and crashed hard and early on the couch.

On Sunday, we were awoken by Fresh Direct and our grocery delivery. We've been using this a lot lately and it's been a huge time saver for me on the weekends.
We packed up the car and headed to Hamilton Park in Jersey City. It was another glorious day, if slightly windy, but I didn't mind at all. We started with coffee and juice at Smith & Chang General Goods, the cutest (and yummiest) little coffee spot I ever did see.

We had lots of swing, slide and playground time. Our favorite way to spend a Sunday.

It was so nice out so we decided to have brunch al fresco, but unfortunately Penelope had other plans in mind. So we ended up not staying and just heading home so that she could nap.

Meanwhile I made these cookie butter cookies from Monday's post and Shaun dusted off the patio furniture that's been hiding under a tarp for the last bunch of months.

We ended the weekend with dinner (grilled turkey burgers & oven-baked fries), watched Chicken Run with Penelope (on Netflix now) and I broke out the last piece of carrot cake from the freezer. P was in bed on time and then Shaun and I drifted off to sleep while watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. A great weekend that made me so very excited for all of the warm weather weekends in our future!
 

How was your weekend?

 

What is your favorite fuel for the day? Mine is coffee, every time.

 

Monday
Apr202015

No Bake Cookie Butter (or Nutella) Cookies

How was your weekend?

I spent two days outside and enjoying the fresh, open air and it was nothing short of glorious. Penelope and I spent Saturday in Brooklyn with my sister Kimberly and then Sunday we had family day in Jersey City. I'll have a full recap later this week, but I really wanted to talk about cookies today. These no bake cookies, specifically.

Have you ever made a no bake dessert? So often I find that it sounds great from the outside looking in. To me, a no bake dessert sounds like it would be simpler, faster and easier. A quick throw-it-together situation. But...I've also often found that once I read through the recipe, it doesn't really seem that easy or care-free. Perhaps I just need to shift my thinking. But! This is not that recipe.

 

No, this recipe is no bake and it's easy and quick and churns out a no bake batch of cookies that were the perfectly sweet end to a wonderful weekend. I found these on Pumpkins & Peonies and decided they'd be a great pick for Secret Recipe Club! I love SRC because it forces me out of my comfort zone. And now I have a simple no bake cookie recipe to show for it! Jess has so many great recipes and beautiful photos that it was hard to choose just one recipe, but I think I picked a winner. Though the original recipe calls for Nutella, I went with cookie butter because I had it on hand and because I wanted to make these nut-free for bringing some to work. They were great with cookie butter, and I bet they'd be amazing with Nutella...or peanut butter!

No Bake Cookie Butter Cookies

*Adapted from Pumpkins & Peonies

1/2 C butter
1/2 C milk
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C cookie butter
3 C quick cooking oats

 

Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt butter and whisk in the milk and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil. Let boil for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and cookie butter.

Stir in oats with a rubber spatula.

Let cool for 1-2 minutes.

Scoop out tablespoon-sized blobs of the cookie dough and let sit to cool and firm up. I fit 12 on a cookie sheet.

Let cool and enjoy!

 

Jess said she yielded about 30 cookies, but I only made 24. So if you want more, just make them smaller! These are super sweet and rich, so smaller might be a better serving :) I used a small cookie scoop for mine. Another note: these came out very sweet, so next time I'd plan to use only 1 cup of sugar, or even 3/4 cup. Thanks Jess for this great recipe! I can't wait to share them with my office!

Happy Cookie Monday!