Saturday, April 12, 2014

The #HungryHusbandProject - 3rd Edition: (Skinny) Spinach Lasagna Rolls

I am bringing you the 3rd edition of the #HungryHusbandProject sooner than I thought. I saw this post by Skinny Ms. on my Facebook feed the other day and couldn't help but want to try it!

Since I am eating low-carb again, I was a bit bummed about the carb content, so I searched around for a lasagna noodle alternative and found this "noodle" recipe by Peace Love and Low Carb. I made the "noodles" the night before and cut them to lasagna noodle size (10"x2") and refrigerated them. I found suggestions for using eggplant or even zucchini as lasagna "noodle" substitutions, but I'm not a big fan of either of those, so I was excited to try this other option. (When I am eating low-carb it's kind of a fun little challenge to either find a low-carb recipe that I know David will eat, or one that I can make substitutes for.)

After taking the low-carb "noodles" out of the fridge, I microwaved them for a few seconds to soften them so they'd be easier to roll up. 

Here is the verdict:

 27/30  Taste
 20/20  Presentation
 10/10  Originality
 10/10  Re-heatability
 10/10  Clean-up
 18/20  Overall Ranking 
----------------------------------
95/100  Final Score
          Letter Grade

He said it was "Delicious! Let's have it again soon!"


Comments:

"Good for home-made Italian. :)"


Here are the regular version and low-carb version side-by-side. Can you tell which is which?
This is my highest graded project so far! I wasn't sure how he would like it since it is a vegetarian dish. I considered adding meat to the sauce or filling, but thought it would take away from the spinach. Next time I will add more spinach (I only used 1 bag) and perhaps some more spices to the filling and sauce. It would also be helpful to add more sauce. The secret to re-heating lasagna is to add a small amount of water (or extra sauce) to keep the noodles moist. (I reheated these for David tonight when he got home from work. I heated 3 rolls in a small Pyrex dish (with a bit of water and extra sauce) in the oven at 425° for 25 minutes. I think it would do fine in the microwave as well.)

Luv,
the Bride

PS: David tried the low-carb version and liked it too. I actually couldn't decide which I liked better!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Discounts: wedding albums and photo books!

After collecting and sharing wedding album and photo book discount codes with my sister-in-law, bride-to-be friend, and wedding planner, I realized I should be sharing them with you! I am posting promotions for two companies I have personally used. If you have any questions on my experiences with these companies, please feel free to leave a comment below or e-mail me!


I highly recommend BrideBox for your personal keepsake wedding album. After doing lots of research and being greatly disappointed with the ROES software of another company, I went with BrideBox. They have great customer service, and deliver a professional, high-quality product. For our personal keepsake wedding album, we ordered the Marina (Premium Cover) 10x10. What I loved about this album was the flush-mounted photos, handcrafted binding, lay-flat pages with substrate, and engraved leather cover. 

Here are a few current promotions you can take advantage of:
  • Up to 10% off Pre-Purchased Wedding Album Coupon* - Redeem online now or later. Offer is currently available for the following: Marina (Premium Cover), Marina (Photo Cover), Anza (Leather Cover), Lake (Photo Cover), and Mason. Also a great wedding gift for the couple you know! *This promotion was available as of today's date: 4/8/2014. Promotion is subject to expire at any time.
  • 25% off all Wedding Albums and Prepaid Album Coupons - use coupon code ALBUMS25. Expires 4/15/2014.
  • 20% off Albums & Books - use coupon code BBIBA14. Expires 12/30/2014.
  • 20% off Prints & Enlargements - use coupon code BBIBP14. Expires 12/30/2014.
  • 20% off Wedding Portrait Calendar (12x18) - use coupon code MPCIB14. Expires 12/30/2014

We used Blurb for our parent albums (which are actually considered photo books). They made the perfect Christmas presents for both sets of parents. We liked the books so much that I just ordered a copy for us to keep as a coffee table book. That way we can share our wedding photos with guests that come over without having to bring out our keepsake album. We ordered the Hardcover, ImageWrap, Standard Landscape 10x8. I used the Blurb Booksmart™ book-making tool, which was very user-friendly. A great thing is that if you realize you made an error, you can go back and cancel the order (within a certain amount of time), fix the error, then re-order the book. Being a perfectionist, I did this several times. You could also use Blurb to create books for engagement, honeymoon, or baby.

Here is a current promotion you can take advantage of:

  • 15% off - use coupon code 2014BOOKS. Expires 4/30/2014.

For our prints and enlargements, we used Mpix. We used the Fuji Pearl Paper (Glossy Metallic Finish) for the large bridal and couple portraits we had made for our parents. Unfortunately, I do not have a promo code for you at this time, but they do sometimes post them on their Facebook page, so feel free to "Like" or "Follow" them on there.


There are a number of companies out there with many album, book, and print options. I highly recommend doing your research, asking friends, and comparing prices before making your purchases.

Luv,
the Bride

Monday, April 7, 2014

The #HungryHusbandProject - 2nd Edition: Tomato & Basil Pizza, Bacon-Wrapped Steak Kabobs, and Grilled Pineapple with Pineapple Sorbet

It's time for the 2nd edition of the #HungryHusbandProject. I was a bit ambitious today and decided to include an appetizer and dessert. Since spring has sprung and the weather has started warming up, I have been outside cleaning up the patio and getting my tiny little garden ready. I wanted to take advantage of the perfect weather and grill out before the air is thick with mosquitos, pollen, and heat. (A huge thank you to my father-in-law, who so graciously gave David his old charcoal grill, chimney bbq starter, and grill tools.)


I found a recipe for this grilled Tomato & Basil Pizza, which I thought would make a perfect appetizer to hold us over while the kabobs were cooking. I cheated and used pre-made pizza dough and pizza sauce, but I did make the Herb Oil, which smells divine! 

For the kabobs, I used this marinade recipe, but was only able to marinade the meat for 3.5 hours. I made 3x the amount of marinade so that I could marinade the vegetables and pineapple too. I also wrapped the steak in bacon before skewering. (IMHO, everything tastes better with bacon.) 

For dessert, I saved some of the leftover pineapple to grill. I used this recipe for the marinade, and served it with 2 small scoops of pineapple sherbet. (We also took advantage of the fire source and made s'mores.)


I used 1.5 lb. of sirloin, 1 package of bacon, 1 sweet onion, 1 green pepper, 1 red pepper, 1/3 pineapple, 1 small carton of button mushrooms,  and 1/3 small carton of grape tomatoes. I ate 2 skewers and David ate 2.5. There was enough to feed 4-5 people. Hint: soak the wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Here is the verdict:

Tomato & Basil Pizza

 25/30  Taste
 10/20  Presentation
 10/10  Originality
10/10   Re-heatability
  5/10   Clean-up
12/20   Overall Ranking 
----------------------------------
72/100  Final Score
    C-      Letter Grade

His exact words were "Fail = pizza :) "


Comments:

"I thought it was extremely risky to cook the pizza on a charcoal grill for the 1st time ever. That, and it got charred. Next time use a burner to cook it evenly and monitor it."

I would just like to say that the hubs was in charge of the crust while it was on the grill. ;) Who burned it?! Kidding. The main issue was that the crust burned on the grill. I was able to salvage half of it, then add the tomato sauce, cheese, and basil. I think that this would be extremely tasty if done in the oven or on a gas grill. With charcoal, you're pretty much stuck with one very hot heat source which makes the crust susceptible to burning. David also really dislikes anything charred/burnt. Me, I'm okay with a bit of a char-grilled taste. I thought it was actually pretty tasty. I definitely want to make it in the oven next time.


Bacon-Wrapped Steak Kabobs

 29/30  Taste
 19/20  Presentation
 10/10  Originality
   7/10  Re-heatability
10/10   Clean-up
18/20   Overall Ranking 
----------------------------------
93/100  Final Score
    A       Letter Grade

Comments:
"Nice touch on the bacon. :) "

Even though I was only able to marinade the meat for half the time suggested, it was still very flavorful. I am curious to see how it re-heats. We cooked the steak medium-rare, so hopefully it won't become too well done when re-heated.


Grilled Pineapple with Pineapple Sorbet

 23/30  Taste
 19/20  Presentation
   8/10  Originality
10/10   Re-heatability
10/10   Clean-up
16/20   Overall Ranking 
----------------------------------
86/100  Final Score
    B       Letter Grade

Comments:
"Pineapple was a little spicy for my taste."

The hubs doesn't typically like spicy, so I wasn't sure how he'd feel about the cayenne pepper. I also forgot the fresh mint. I liked it. I would probably cut back a bit on the cayenne (a pinch instead of 1/8 tsp.), but I did like the kick it gave. 

I asked David what he thought of the s'mores and strawberry mojitos I made. He said I got A's on both of those. I'm happy with that. :)

Overall, it was a great meal. We turned the grill into a bit of a "fire pit" after dinner and enjoyed the warmth while we chatted. I'm looking forward to more warm (and mosquito-free) nights like this!

Luv,
the Bride

PS: I used fresh mint and basil from the garden for the mojitos and pizza. Can't wait to use more produce once it starts growing!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Where the magic happens

Okay. Forgive the horrible subject. I obviously couldn't think of anything better to quote than MTV Cribs. ;)



I have finally hung something over our bed, and I'm pretty excited. My father-in-law painted a beautiful scene from our wedding ceremony for my birthday, but unfortunately it just wasn't the right scale to go over the bed, so I had to rethink the bedroom wall art.

I found a trio of gray ombré mirrors from Target that matched our DKNY bedding perfectly. They were perfect in the corner over Emery's chair. (Emery sleeps underneath the chair.) 
 I decided on hanging some black and white wedding photos above the bed, and found the perfect frames from Ikea, which my classmate Kelly so kindly picked up for me this weekend. 
The vintage family wedding photos we displayed at our reception found a place on the dresser. All frames were on clearance from Target, except the gold one (front) which I picked up at a thrift store.
I just spent the past couple hours framing, leveling, and hanging the photos. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. Waiting for the hubs to get home to see what he thinks!

Luv,
the Bride

Sunday, March 30, 2014

WedLoft blog feature


Our wedding was featured on WedLoft last week! It was really fun to be back on WedLoft again after they featured our engagement shoot last July. Check out WedLoft for great DIY projects, tips, trends, photos, and advice! Also, don't forget to check out Wedding Window for useful planning and website tools.

Luv,
the Bride

Friday, March 28, 2014

The #HungryHusbandProject - 1st Edition: Creamy Salsa Chicken

David and I have very different work schedules. He is the Catering & Concessions Manager at a local university and I am in school where I am a full-time graduate student as well as a T.A., and I also work part time at a vet hospital. We are seldom both home for dinner at the same time, especially since David often works late.


I thoroughly enjoy cooking for my husband, especially since we've always had a deal: I cook; he cleans. I love trying new recipes, but since we don't always sit down to dinner together, it doesn't happen often. I work Thursday nights, and the past few weeks, David has been getting home early those nights, which means I wanted to have dinner waiting for him. Yesterday, I decided to make something in the Crockpot so it would be hot when he came home. While I was researching recipes, I came up with the idea of the #HungryHusbandProject. David has already been testing out my different recipes, especially since I often eat low-carb, and I try to find ways to make something low-carb for me, but still tasty (and often with a non-low-carb option) for him. I thought it would be fun to have him rate and grade some different recipes as part of a blog project. 

Last night before work, I made some Creamy Salsa Chicken in the Crockpot. I also made my homemade salsa and guacamole. It was supposed to be ready to eat by the time he got home but somebody (our Golden Retriever) managed to unplug the Crockpot, so unfortunately for him, it was cold and he had to plug it in and let it cook. It was ready when I got off work around 10, so we ate it together when I got home. 


The recipe says that you can eat the chicken as is, or in a tortilla with toppings. I've also seen people put it over rice or serve it with vegetables. I decided to serve it in a warm tortilla with cheese and sour cream, and a side of chips, salsa, and guac. 
Here is the verdict:

 25/30  Taste
 19/20  Presentation
   6/10  Originality
20/20   Re-heatability
16/20   Overall Ranking 
----------------------------------
86/100  Final Score
    B       Letter Grade

He said it was between "Pretty good!" (B+) and "I'd eat it again, but not next week" (B).


Comments:

"Typically, I prefer beef with my burritos, but as far as chicken is concerned, it was quite good. The creamier, the better. Kudos. And NO KUDOS to a certain Golden Retriever who unplugged the Crock Pot..."

Personally, I agree with the hubs. I think to "kick it up a notch," I will use a spicy salsa next time (I used medium), or add some taco seasoning to the Crock Pot. I may try serving it over rice (without shredding the chicken). For the record, I had to explain to the husband that these were less like "burritos" and more like "enchiladas." ;) 

Luv,
the Bride

PS: David and I are both in love with these Tostitos Cantina Thin & Crispy tortilla chips. They are the closest thing to restaurant-style chips that I've found!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The other dress

I just showed David the photos of "the other dresses" I tried on when I went dress shopping with my mom and Lauren. I was curious to see what he thought of them, specifically the other dress I had been considering.

Although he made comments on parts he liked (and disliked) about the others, I was relieved when he said he liked the one I picked the best. :) Looking back at the photos, I still like the one I chose the best. It makes me happy to know I made the right decision. No regrets!

Here are the two dresses I seriously considered during the dress shopping process:

The other dress:
Justin Alexander | Strapless soft sweetheart pleated French tulle accented with Chantilly lace, asymmetrical drop waist, tulle skirt with Chantilly hem lace, buttons over back zipper, chapel length train. I absolutely loved this gown for an indoor, chapel wedding. The ladies at TLC Bridal Boutique referred to it as "the cobweb dress" since the chapel length train had such gorgeous Chantilly lace detail. I also loved the bodice, which really highlighted a narrow waist. I would have chosen this dress if we had gotten married in a church.
The dress:
Casablanca Bridal | Delicately draped organza gown has a ruched bodice with a sweetheart neckline. Pick-ups on skirt create the illusion of a rose motif. The back is accented with beaded faux buttons. This is my dress, and I still love it as much as the first day I tried it on. Although I went to my first dress appointment with the idea that I wanted all things lace, I was completely surprised at how much I loved this lace-free all organza gown! There was something that was so romantic, soft, and flowy about it, yet it still had structure and a beautiful silhouette. It seemed perfect for a romantic, outdoor, garden wedding.

Luv,
the Bride