Monday, June 18, 2012

Vegetarian Sesame Udon Noodles

This next vegetarian dish I found over on and it has quickly become one of our favorites. In fact, I'm getting hungry just writing about it!

I've modified this one a bit to make it more like a stir-fry, but you can also follow the original and cook it in the microwave!


The Sauce:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root (make sure you add this, it makes the dish!)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup peanut oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 dash hot pepper sauce (I add red pepper flakes to give it a little more heat too)

2 Tbls Olive Oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
2 cups diagonally sliced snap peas
2 cups rough chopped kale
1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 block firm tofu cubed

4 green onions, minced
2 Tbls fresh basil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (use toaster oven or dry frying pan to toast the seeds)
1 (7 ounce) package fresh udon noodles


In a jar with a tight fitting lid (I use a salad dressing container), combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut oil, sesame oil and hot pepper sauce or flakes. Close the lid, and shake vigorously to blend. Set aside to let the flavors blend.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add udon noodles and follow package directions to cook until tender. Drain, and set aside for later.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok. Add peppers and onion and sautee for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Add in peas, kale, mushrooms and tofu and stir fry until veggies are cooked.

Add drained noodles to the pan and pour sauce over entire dish. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and gently toss all ingredients together using tongs. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes to allow noodles to soak in some of the flavor.


Serve in a deep bowl with chop sticks and top with sliced green onion and fresh basil.

(Not into the vegetarian thing? Try adding chunks of Asian inspired, grilled salmon (with a sweet and spicy glaze), as an alternate source of protein.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Black Bean & Sweet Potatoe Chili

Continuing on with my vegetarian recipes (as promised!), this next one is an awesome and quick, all-veggie chili that is super delicious! Serve it up with a little cheese, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and a corn muffin on the side! Yum!

Found my inspiration for this one on

The Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (you may consider boiling these for a few minutes to speed up the cooking time)
2 medium carrots, sliced (you may consider boiling these for a few minutes to speed up the cooking time)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (I used green in this version since that's what I had)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 15 ounce can black beans
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste, we like it a little bit hot!)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup frozen corn (I like to add corn to my chili)

The Directions:

Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil for a minute or two, then add bell pepper and simmer until onions are almost soft. Add in (par-cooked) sweet potatoes & carrots, diced tomatoes, beans, spices and stock. Stir to combine and reduce heat to low.

Simmer, partially covered and stir occasionally, for approx 15-20 minutes, until flavors have mingled and vegetables are cooked. Add in frozen corn in last 5 minutes of simmer.

Serve in a deep bowl with Jack cheese, Greek yogurt and corn bread or muffins!

Friday, June 8, 2012

West Elm Room On Sale

West Elm recently sent out an email blast advertising their summer sale so I (of course) perused the sale items. I was pleasantly surprised at what was there and the deep discounts you can get when they mark things on clearance. In fact, I was able to put together an entire bedroom concept for under $1,500 using mostly sale items.

Take a look!
And in case you are wondering, here's the breakdown:

Queen Bed Frame - $479.99
Queen Quilt - $99.99
Standard Shams (2) - $33.98
Euro Shams (2) - $39.98
5x8 Rug - $199.99
Chair - $149
Throw Pillows (2) - $34.98
84" Drapes (2) - $49.98
Candlesticks (1 of each) - $47.97
Table (not on sale) - $199
Owl Lamp (not on sale) - $99

Grand Total = $1,452.89!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Napa Cabbage Salad

Since I promised to do a series on our vegetarian eating, I'm continuing with this next oh-so-delicious "Napa Cabbage Salad." I'm sure it isn't new to many people, but to us it was new when we tried it at our cousin's Easter get together last month. It's pretty simple and seriously addicting (watch out!).

Some of the recipes I've found online for this salad are not-so-healthy, so I tweaked ours a little so we can eat it more than once a year and not feel so guilty!


1 head Napa cabbage - shredded
5-7 green onions - sliced
1 cup slivered almonds
1 package dry Ramen noodles
2 TBLS sesame seeds
2 TBLS Butter
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 TBLS sugar
2 TBLS soy sauce


Shred cabbage and slice onions and combine in a large bowl together. Chill in the refrigerator.

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Break up the Ramen noodles into small pieces and add to butter along with almonds and sesame seeds. Mix just enough to coat evenly. Spread "crunchies" mixture on a baking sheet and pop into 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. (Be sure to mix several times so all sides get toasted and brown.)

Rinse out the sauce pan and combine cider vinegar, oil, sugar and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.

Just before serving add the crunchies to the cabbage and toss with the dressing.

That's it! It's done, it's delicious and watch's addicting!

Happy Spring time eating!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Orcutt Wedding - May 17, 2012

Last week I had the pleasure of being a part of the Orcutt family's very special wedding day! We pulled together a beautiful, budget wedding and I couldn't be happier with the results. 

Here's a sneak peek at the happy couple on their big day. More photos and details to come.


Thank you Cory and Evelyn for this amazing opportunity!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Veggin' Out

Well it's May 1st (where has the time gone?) and I've got one wedding down, and one to go (for now!). This weekend's day-of coordination turned out well, after a bit of a rocky start, we pulled together a fun and beautiful event! I learned a lot along the way, met some great people and am even more excited for the next one in just 2 short weeks!

For today though, since I've so been neglecting my little blog, I decided to share some of the new, delicious and simple recipes that have had us veggin' out!

That's right, we've gone vegetarian. Okay, not entirely, but I did go all-veg for one full week and the hubby totally dug everything that I made! I decided to start reducing the amount of meat in our diets and pumping up our vegetable intake (even more than we already do) to see if it made a difference on how I felt. It actually does and I feel great!

So, these next couple of posts are dedicated to some of my new favorite vegetarian recipes! Hope you'll try them out and enjoy them as much as we do.

This first recipe in this little veggie series is based off of Jeanie's Falafel, a recipe I found on All

  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper  
  • 1 egg
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • Middle Eastern flat bread or pita
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • spinach
  • tzatziki Sauce
  • tahini Sauce 

  1. Use immersion blender or food processor to mash garbanzo beans to a thick paste consistency.
  2. Stir in the onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, turmeric, baking powder, bread crumbs, egg, salt and pepper.  Mix to dough-like consistency.
  3. Heat oil in deep pot about 3/4"-1" deep. (you can deep fry them if you prefer, but I like to minimize the amount of oil I use and just get a good crust on two sides)
  4. Use your hands to form balls about 1"-1 1/2" in diameter and drop into the oil.
  5. Cook until golden brown on one side and then flip to brown the other.
  6. Remove falafel balls onto a paper towel.
  7. Warm the flat bread and lightly coat one side with about 2 tbls tahini sauce. 
  8. Add spinach, peppers and falafel balls and top with tzatziki sauce.
  9. Grub!

Jeanie's recipe was a great start for ingredients and directions (since I had no idea where to begin), but since The Hubby doesn't love cilantro, I left that out and I added an egg to make the falafel a bit more moist since it has a tendency to be a dry. This is a meal that anyone will enjoy.
Happy Mediterranean Eating!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tricks of the Tray

I may be just now tuning into an old trick, but through the awesomeness of Pintrest, I've notices a lot of great tips for ways to use ice cube trays that make so much sense. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

1) Freeze lemon juice, left over stock, tomato sauce, juice, wine, veggie pulp from your juicer (thanks Arlene!) and more and use in recipes later when you need just a bit. Store the frozen cubes in freezer bags once formed and be sure to label and include the date. 

Fresh Lemon Juice

Tip from Frugal Living:
How much liquid does a cube hold? One ice cube is generally the equivalent of one ounce or two Tablespoons. Here are some conversions to help you determine how many cubes you'll need to use in a recipe:
2 cubes = 1/4 cup
4 cubes = 1/2 cup
6 cubes = 3/4 cup
8 cubes =1 cup

2) Freeze cookie dough into cube size portions, then bake just a few at a time whenever you want! (This is a perfect option for the hubby and I since he usually eats just one anyway!)

Recipe from Fooducate Blog

3) I like this idea for kiddos. What a fun way to get them to eat a few of all the food groups!

More Great Ideas from Home Made Simple

4) Freeze herbs before they go bad. Drop them into soups and sauces rather than buying a full new bunch each time you need just a little!


You can do non-food-related things with ice cube trays too:

5) Pour paint into ice cube trays and use as a painter's palette for you or your little one. Depending on the type of paint, you can freeze it and use it again later when it thaws.

From Real Simple

6) Store small things like fasteners, buttons, jewelry, nails, screws and more. The little compartments provide the perfect way to store little things without getting them mixed up and lost.

From Better Homes & Gardens
From Real Simple

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our New Favorite Pizza!

We have a new favorite pizza at the Donnelly house. It's what I like to call the "Trader Joe's Special" because all of the ingredients are from there. I still have it on my to-dos to try making my own crust (I promise April and Jon, I will do this one day!) but until then, this recipe is delicious and quick.

The Ingredients: 

1 package pizza dough (we use the plain one, but the whole wheat would be good too)
2 tsp corn meal
1/2 jar pesto sauce 
1/2 block reduced fat mozzarella cheese (shredded)
3-4 slices Italian Turkey Meatloaf (from the refrigerator section) (cut into small chunks)
10-15 grape tomatoes cut in half
1/4 cup parmigiano cheese (shredded)
1 tsp dried oregano (optional)

before baking
The Directions:

Let the pizza dough come up to room temperature. Spread the corn meal onto a surface (cutting board, counter, etc) and roll out the dough to desired thickness (I like thick, he likes thin, so we go somewhere in between!). Place on cookie sheet or pizza stone.

Spread an even layer of pesto over the dough leaving the edges free for the crust. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the mozzarella over the pesto sauce. Spread the turkey meatloaf chunks and grape tomato halves evenly on top of the cheese and then cover with remaining mozzarella and parmigiano cheeses. Sprinkle oregano on top of the cheese and bake as directed on the dough package instructions until the crust is golden brown.

after baking

Slice and eat!

I know, this doesn't sound all that impressive, but there's something about the combination of the spices in the meatloaf and the flavor that develops in the grape tomatoes when they cook along with the pesto that is super delicious.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Homies 2012

Found some really great new blogs this week via The Homies Awards on Apartment Therapy. Thought I'd share some of the nominees in case any of you are into the DIY thing. (click this link to see them all!)

(The hubby is in Vegas and I'm home drinking wine, eating sushi and catching up on my blogs!)


Best DIY Blog

Voting ends March 2nd, 2012 at 11:59PM EST
The Art of Doing Stuff
711 votes
Bower Power
586 votes
A Beautiful Mess
490 votes
Centsational Girl
465 votes
Ana White
363 votes
Vintage Revivials
337 votes
I heart organizing
289 votes
Girl In Air
252 votes
Old Town Home
241 votes
Little Green Notebook
236 votes
154 votes
Manhattan Nest
146 votes
112 votes
House Tweaking
110 votes
Chris Loves Julia
103 votes
Chez Larsson
91 votes
House of Hepworths
89 votes
Thrifty Decor Chick
88 votes
The House Of Smiths
88 votes
Funky Junk Interiors
87 votes
Just a Girl
73 votes
The Design Confidential
67 votes
Improvised Life
63 votes
Dollar Store Crafts
60 votes

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Touch of Whimsy

When I started planning the decor for our wedding last year, I came across this photo and absolutely fell in love with the parasol "ceiling" over the dance floor. I knew that somehow, someway, we needed to incorporate this design element into our decor.

I also flipped when we saw the movie Meet the Fockers because they had the most gorgeous backyard wedding reception with hanging parasols! It was very Florida-hippy-chic! .
(this isn't the best shot, but the only one I could find)
Once our venue was booked and I knew where the dance floor and market lighting would go, I designed a plan for our parasols and placed an order with Luna Bazaar in varying shapes, sizes and colors to match our decor.
(the plan)

Next, Kevin screwed brass hooks into the handles of each and used pliers to bend the hook into a loop. This allowed the set-up crew to simply attach each parasol in place on the cable supporting the market lighting with a zip tie. Easy up, easy down!

I couldn't have been happier with the outcome. The parasols added a sense of whimsy over the dance floor. They swayed softly in the breeze as if dancing along with us and created a sort of faux-ceiling overhead which made for beautiful photos.

*Photos of our wedding by Emily Faulknor Photography.