Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Report // Beautiful Ruins


This weekend, Cameron and I went camping up in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington (more on that later this week!) and I had the opportunity to finish a great book! Beautiful Ruins: A Novel by Jess Walter is a fantastic summer read that I really enjoyed. Even though I know you're not supposed to do this, I'll admit that I was initially drawn to the book solely based on its cover after spotting it at Powell's here in Portland. It features a gorgeous illustration of one of the colorful little towns that make up Cinque Terre region off Italy's Ligurian coast. Cam and I fell in love with Cinque Terre when we visited Italy a few years ago so after I read that this book took place there, my interest was piqued and I decided to download it on my Kindle. Beautiful Ruins is one of those books goes back and forth between the past and present, and it's through these flashbacks that the complex relationships between the characters slowly unfold. If you're a fan of that type of storytelling (which I am), you'll likely enjoy this book. The story starts in a small town near Cinque Terre in the 1960s then flashes forward to present day Hollywood; however, what I found really interesting was that it also featured multiple locations in the Pacific Northwest including Portland, Seattle, and Sandpoint, Idaho. The characters are well-developed, the plot was engaging, and I liked that it wasn't just a straightforward romance or mystery. Instead it delves deeper into themes that I think a lot of people can relate to like desire, duty, regret, and second chances. It's the perfect book to enjoy on the beach, so I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for a fun read this summer! Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Real Meals: Herb Rubbed Roast / Mustard Roasted Potatoes / Strawberry Shortcake

Happy Friday everyone!

Summer seems like it can be a challenging time when it comes to meal planning. Granted, there is a lot of great produce in season this time of year, however, I just feel like we're always really busy. In the winter, I'm more likely to scour Pinterest/Food Gawker/blogs for new recipes and I'm eager to spend time in the kitchen. But in the summer? Ain't nobody got time for that.

So when I do actually make a complete meal that turns out well, I figure it's worth sharing! I tried two new recipes recently that I ended up liking as they were super simple yet delicious. I didn't take any photos of the steps along the way (see Summer: Ain't Nobody Got Time For That) instead, I just took a few pictures of the finished product. I'm going to try to do more of these "Real Meals" posts in the future - I enjoy seeing what recipes people actually make for dinner on a regular basis, so I figure I may as well share what's been a hit lately at Casa de Graybeal :)



The first part of this meal is the Herb Rubbed Sirloin Tip Roast!
It was simple to prepare and made great leftovers, so it's a great alternative if you don't want to grill.


Herb Rubbed Sirloin Tip Roast
Recipe Source: AllRecipes

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/4 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (3 pound) sirloin tip roast

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme. Stir in the olive oil, and allow the mixture to sit about 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
3. Place the roast on the prepared baking sheet, and cover on all sides with the spice mixture.
4. Roast 1 hour in the preheated oven, or to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F (63 degrees C). Let sit 15 minutes before slicing.

This roast was super easy and turned out great! However, Cam and I both agreed it could probably be a little less salty, so I'd probably cut that way down when I make it again.

To go along with the roast, I made some mustard roasted potatoes using purple potatoes I got at the farmer's market. Another simple recipe, but it we enjoyed it!

Mustard Roasted Potatoes
Recipe adapted from: Smitten Kitchen (which was adapted from Gourmet, December 2007)
Makes 10 servings

INGREDIENTS
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
(I actually used 1/4 cup dijon and a 1/4 cup of stone ground mustard)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 pounds 1- to 1 1/2-inch-diameter mixed unpeeled red-skinned and white-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges (my potatoes were small, so I just cut them in half!)

DIRECTIONS
Position 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Whisk mustard, olive oil, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add potatoes; sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Divide potatoes between prepared baking sheets, leaving any excess mustard mixture behind in bowl. Spread potatoes in single layer. Roast potatoes 20 minutes. Reverse baking sheets and roast until potatoes are crusty outside and tender inside, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes longer. Transfer potatoes to serving bowl.


I also made some asparagus to round out the meal and make sure we had a veggie :)
And because I was feeling particularly ambitious, I decided to make some strawberry shortcake for after dinner as well! I've made strawberry shortcake in the past, but just happened to use this recipe this time and it turned out great. Definitely the perfect summer dessert in my opinion!


Strawberry Shortcake
Recipe Source: Joy of Baking

INGREDIENTS
Scones:
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (76 grams) cold unsalted butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) cream, half and half, or milk

Filling:
2 pounds (900 grams) fresh strawberries
1/4 cup - 1/3 cup (50 - 65 grams) granulated white sugar (or to taste)

Topping:
1 cup (240 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)
1 - 2 tablespoons (15-30 grams) granulated white sugar (or to taste)

DIRECTIONS
Scones:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in middle of oven.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  Whisk together the egg, cream and vanilla extract and add to the flour mixture, mixing just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat or roll the dough into a 7 inch (18 cm) round. With a 3 inch (7 cm) round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a scone comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack.

Filling: Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries. Place about one third of the strawberries in a large bowl and crush them with a potato masher or fork. Add the remaining sliced strawberries, along with the sugar. (The amount of sugar used will depend on how sweet the berries are.) Set aside to macerate at room temperature for about 30 to 60 minutes.

Whipped Cream: Chill the bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15 - 30 minutes. Place the cream and sugar in the bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. The whipped cream can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for a few hours.

To Serve: Cut the scones in half and place the bottom half of the scone (soft side up) on a dessert plate. Top with some of the strawberries and whipped cream. Place the top half of the scone on the strawberries. Top with whipped cream and a few more strawberries. If there is any juice from the strawberries, drizzle a little over the top of the scone. Serve immediately.

Serves about 6-8 people.


So there you have it, an actual weeknight dinner at our house!
Granted, I don't make dinners like this all the time (clearly not since I feel the need to blog about it when I do...ha) but I was really happy with how this particular meal turned out :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bumpdate // 18-20 Weeks


 


 How far along:
20 weeks and 6 days today!

Baby's size:
About the size of a banana, but approaching the size of a pomegranate!
(Aka 6.5 inches from crown to rump and about 10.6 oz)

Weight gain: 
At my 20 week appointment, I had officially gained 10 lbs which my midwife said was right on track for where I'm supposed to be at this point. I do weigh myself at home here and there, and I felt like for the first 18-19 weeks that I hadn't really gained any weight...and then all the sudden it was almost like I gained 10 lbs overnight! I couldn't resist doing some googling to see if that was normal, and it sounds like that it's really common to see a sudden jump in weight around the point in pregnancy (and my midwife agreed). I think it's cool how seeing these outward signs like putting on weight line up with things that the baby is doing because I know that he's rapidly growing now!

Gender: 
 In case you missed the announcement on Friday, we're having a BOY! (Thank you for all your sweet comments by the way!) Cam and I found out at the ultrasound, and now I couldn't have imagined not doing it that way...especially because it was pretty obvious on the screen that we're definitely having boy...ha! We told our families right after the ultrasound, and everyone was super excited :)

(I definitely hit up Baby Gap right after the ultrasound!)

We didn't end up doing the whole gender reveal party thing, but took some gender reveal photos on Thursday night instead. It was really awesome to have a fun way to share the news and something to commemorate a really special day. (Thanks again to Kelsey for taking the awesome photos for our gender reveal, I love how they turned out!)

Movement:
Yes! Beyond finding out the gender, that's been the other big development over these past couple of weeks. During week 18, I took a prenatal yoga class and during savasana at the end of class I finally felt the baby move around for the first time where I knew for sure that's what it was - such a cool feeling! Since then, I've been feeling him move around quite a bit. The movements aren't super intense yet, but it's still awesome to finally be able to feel them. Cam has also been able to feel him move around a few times and he was really excited about that. He seems to move around the most at night...and after I eat ice cream. Definitely my child, ha!

Food cravings: 
Ice cream (but that's not really abnormal so I can't blame it on pregnancy) and beer cheese pretzels, aka what they have at most breweries and so it's my treat since I can't have a beer. I've also been loving greek yogurt and granola topped with lots of fresh fruit!

Anything making you queasy or sick:
Nope, thank goodness!

Sleep:
I've been sleeping pretty well overall with the exception of when Cam was traveling for work earlier this month because I never sleep well when he is out of town :(

Miss anything?
I do miss being able to just do things without having to think about whether or not I should or shouldn't do since I'm pregnant. Last weekend, I went in a heated pool and then had a minor freakout because I realized that I probably shouldn't do that since I'm pregnant. (I checked with my midwife and she said not to worry though!) I miss being able to plan a long hike or some sort of intense physical activity without having to think about whether or not it's going to be too much.

Workouts:
Mainly prenatal yoga and walks with Lola, that's about it!

Maternity Clothes?
Still wearing my regular clothes/dresses for the most part, but starting to incorporate some more maternity pieces! (The dress I'm wearing for my 20 week photos is maternity from Old Navy)

Symptoms:
No real symptoms to speak over the past few weeks thankfully!

Mood:
 Feeling really good overall. But also in disbelief that my pregnancy is already halfway over...and starting to realize there is quite a bit that needs to happen between now and December! I haven't been feeling super interested in doing house over the past couple of months, but this past week I've been really gotten the bug and I want to get the whole house decorated ASAP. I feel like these nesting tendencies are only going to intensify as the weeks go on!

Best moment from weeks 18-20:
Finding out the gender and knowing we're going to have a son was definitely amazing! It was also awesome to be able to see our little guy moving around around at the ultrasound and to know that he is developing like he is supposed to. Feeling him move around has been really exciting and I know that's only going to get more intense!

Looking forward to: 
Now that we know we're having a boy, I'm excited to really get going on the nursery soon! I also can't wait to get our registry started - I'll have posts about both of those topics coming up soon!



Previous Bumpdates:
First Trimester-14 Weeks
15-17 Weeks

Friday, July 18, 2014

It's a...
















I thought I'd let the photos speak for themselves to announce our happy news - we found out yesterday that we're having a baby BOY! (Just in case that wasn't extremely obvious from all of the blue...ha!)

A boy was my initial instinct when I found out I was pregnant, but as I mentioned yesterday, I ended up changing my vote over the past few weeks. But Cameron has said it's a boy all along, and it looks like he was right! We are both so so thrilled, and it's amazing to know that we're going to have a son!

Although the excitement of announcing that we're expecting was great, it was more of this somewhat vague concept because December seemed really far away. But now that we're halfway through this pregnancy (so crazy!) and we know that it's a boy, all of the sudden it seems a lot more real. It's incredible to think that in just 4.5 months we'll be a family of three (well four, counting Lola of course!) and the thought of having a little mini-Cam running around makes me really, really happy!

Finally, I have to give a HUGE thank you to my friend Kelsey for taking these beautiful photos for us! (Seriously Kelsey, you are awesome!) It was such a fun way commemorate finding out the news (although, I'm not quite sure fun is the word Cam would use to describe a photo shoot with a very large, unwieldy balloon on a windy day...ha!) and I'm so glad to be able to share our joy with all of you!

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