Summer Time: Wedding Video, Fun Dinners, and More

Lordy, did I fall off the blogosphere or what?  I apologize for my extended absence !!!

First, here here is some REAL mushy mush….. our wedding highlight video complete with interviews:

NorthFox Media….. is THE BEST. Hands down. Hire them.

So…… here is what is new:

  • My name is officially changed. I am no longer bearing Pirate’s last name.
  • I signed up for a marathon in the fall. It is already starting to consume my brain.
  • I think I might be addicted to cereal. Specifically, Raisin Bran and All Bran.
  • My running injuries are pretty much healed…… ::happy dance::
  • My tiny niece is actually a llama:
How cute is this?

How cute is this?

What I’ve done lately:

  • Got tan. KIDDING. I don’t tan.
  • Got to hold a 6 week old baby. My running friend brought her cute baby boy to practice last week…. and I think I felt my ovaries leap for joy. Oh dear.
  • Fed a dog a pretzel. This is a big deal because I am learning to be friendly with canines and share my beloved carbs.
  • Cooking: Somewhere between pre-wedding and post-honeymoon I realized that I hadn’t really cooked any decent dinners for my man. My Mom has been cleaning out her cookbook collection and gave me magazines from like, the 80s, that are full of easy recipes. Sundays I have been planning our dinner menus for the entire week and making new things, such as:

I also made a gorgeous pork dish with a brown-sugar-red-wine glaze (are you drooling? I am.) but didn’t take a picture because we had a guest over and I didn’t want him to think ‘WOW MR. SPEEDY’S WIFE COOKS AND TAKES PICTURES OF HER OWN FOOD. WERID-O.”

Anyways, life is good.

This past weekend we travled to West Virginia with one of our running groups for a half-marathon. TOTAL FREAKIN BLAST.

Here is the group together:

We are a happy bunch.

We are a happy bunch.

My shorts are the shortest.... what does that mean?!?

My shorts are the shortest…. what does that mean?!?

During the race, someone yelled ‘GO BILLY!’
Naturally, I thought they meant to say ‘LILY’ so I corrected them as I ran by, screaming ‘Thanks but my name is LILY!’
And then…. a tiny voice breathed behind me, ‘My name is Billy.’

Here is a shot of us running together:

Lily and Billy.

Lily and Billy.

Poor Billy. I dragged him through mile 7-11. He was a senior in high school and every time he got a little behind, I yelled ‘Come on Billy!! Billy get up here!’

He probably regretted admitting that he was Billy. Oh well, good job young runner whom I will probably never meet! I hope you do well in college.

(Clearly, I’m a creep).

I was happy with my time at 1:33:53…. totally tanked at the end but this is proof that my IT Band is getting stronger and bandier (is that a word???).

After the run, we all drove a very windy path to one of the runner’s property and stayed for a few nights. It was a little slice of paradise. Woods. Fresh air. Mountain creeks. Natural waterfalls. This place had it all.

Mr. Speedy and I got to sleep above the barn with a large Elk head looming on a wall. It was kind of like sleeping in a Gander Mountain. All was fine and dandy until people started talking about ticks and bugs. If you don’t remember, I actually got a tick once in Nebraska. It was the single most terrifying moment in my life. I FREAKED OUT. Mr. Speedy had to light a match and BURN that nasty little thing out of my back. My spine was in danger. Gah. I can’t even talk about it.

So when people start talking about ticks, I FREAK OUT. You better believe that every night I swiftly stripped down, and demanded that Mr. Speedy fully inspect me. There was nothing sexy about this task. I also made it clear that if even JOKED about a bug burrowing into my skin, he would be sorry (I actually never really thought of a decent enough threat). I also took a hair-dryer (because ticks don’t like heat) and hair-dried my already dry body to the point that it was practically burning.

Just in case he missed any….

Obviously, I’d be a GREAT camping companion.

Yes. I can relate.

Yes. I can relate.

We did have the opportunity to drive this feisty little vehicle that had no windshield or doors. It could go over rocks, mud, branches, you name it.

Here we are when the vehicle is not moving:

Oh this is so nice.

Oh this is so nice.

And here I am when the vehicle was moving:

DEAR SWEET BABY JOSEPH SLOOOOW DOWN.

DEAR SWEET BABY JOSEPH SLOOOOW DOWN.

Obviously, I highly recommend anyone riding in one of these so they can look simply attractive and totally gorgeous. Your date will surely just drive faster and don’t mind the bugs that get lodged into your pupil, they eventually fly out.

I’m wearing a helmet next time.

Have you gotten a tick before?
What have you made for dinner lately?
Gone anywhere fun?

Sincerely,

Lily

Valentine, You Make Me Laugh

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This is very true.

This is very true.

More importantly…. happy Friday and helloooooo weekend!

I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Last night, I prepped myself for date night tonight- this included shaving my legs (pretty big deal).

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Mr. Speedy and I are planning on having a dinner in (he is cooking the meal). I love it when he cooks and I love dates in. You can really capitalize on being in the privacy of your own home and a)make-out all the time b) have instant bathroom access- no waiting in line at the women’s stalls and c) you don’t need to wear pants. What is better than not wearing pants??

I am going to keep it classy though and will probably end up wearing this new top I got awhile go and who knows what else. Maybe I just will wear a sundress and pretend if is summer since we are staying in our toasty home?

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So true.

I hope you all have a wonderful day, my dear friends.

And if for some reason you are getting picked up somewhere by someone, I hope you don’t get left behind.

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This has been making me laugh for weeks. Poor Carl.

May all your hopes and dreams come true !

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Sincerely,

Lily who-gets-to-be-with-her-dream-guy-tonight-and-has-smooth-legs-and-just-might-not-wear-pants-to-dinner

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy Ham and Lentil Soup

So remember how I cooked up that large ham for my family Christmas dinner? It was very large. And although we like to eat, we had a lot of left. I mean A LOT:

My mother cut up what was left because the ham bone FREAKS me out.

My mother cut up what was left because the ham bone FREAKS me out.

My mom suggested that I make some soup with the mountain of ham and since Michigan has been a frozen tundra, soup sounded perfect!

Love lentils? Love soup? Love healthy ingredients? You’ll love this:

Healthy Ham and Lentil Soup

Half a large white onion, chopped
3-4 large celery stalks, chopped
3-4 large carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
8-9 cups of water
1 can of crushed tomatoes (optional, I don’t like tomatoes so I did not add them)
1 bag of lentils (16 oz.)
2 cups of ham, chopped (veggie? omit this and use some beans or meat replacement)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tbl. basil
1/2 Tbl. parsley

ONLY 4 EASY STEPS! GAH! SO EASY!

1. Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes and then drain. I have no idea why you do this but my Mom told me this needed to be done. It is science.

Lentils getting a bath.

Lentils getting a bath.

2. In a LARGE (LIKE THE BIGGEST ONE YOU GOT) pot, drizzle some olive oil and add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery and saute over medium high heat.

Mhhhmm I can smell this goodness.

Mhhhmm I can smell this goodness.

3. After these have all simmered a little, add all the lentils, along with 9 cups of water, tomatoes, spices, ham.

It is green... but tasty.

It is green… but tasty.

4. Bring entire mixture to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour. The lentils will soak up A LOT  of the water, so the soup is actually quite thick and not nearly as broth-like as you suspect, with all the water.

Enjoy with crackers of if you are like me, a tiny bit of parmesan cheese grated on top. It is green but it is super tasty and keeps you warm!

I actually served this to my friends on New Year’s Eve and then we partied by playing cards and drinking wine. Is that normal to serve soup to people during a party?? Whatever. Two guests were outside watching hockey all day so I think they more than enjoyed the hot meal.

XoXo

SO THICK AND TASTY AND HEALTHY.

SO THICK AND TASTY AND HEALTHY.

Sincerely,

Lily

PS Mr. Speedy’s dear friend knew that I have a problem chopping veggies and bought me a Mandolin Slicer for Christams that came with 4 safety settings so that I don’t chop any of my fingers off. I actually did not use it for this recipe because I am dork and forgetful (next time…) but it would have been probably perfect to use! Specail thanks to Tall C!

Our First Christmas: New Recipes and New Memories

Holiday dinner success.

Holiday dinner success.

After returning from our lovely visit in Nebraska (another blog I need to post), Mr. Speedy and I hosted our first formal family dinner with my family.

I could barely contain my excitement. Our first time hosting Christmas! Our first Christmas in our new home! Our first time cooking a formal feast! Our first time using the fine china!

If you have hosted a meal, I am sure you felt the pang of panic the day before as you prepared everything. The grocery list, how many extra chairs are needed, what type of linen should be used, and how many bottles on wine should be bought. The key to this whole process I found was actually planning the meal and preparing ahead of time, rather than day of the event.

Kind of like planning the wedding- get as much done ahead of time, and it’ll be smooth sailing.

The day before, the following was done:

  • Set-up extra seating
  • Plan out meal, go grocery shopping
  • Chop and slice all ingredients, set aside
  • Measure out dry ingredients, set aside
  • Bake all desserts (if possible), set aside
  • Prepare all table linen, menus, etc.

That last bullet – which is totally not necessary unless you are a decorating freak like me – is something that I went a little crazy on. For Christmas, Mr. Speedy bought me a Prima Press Alphabet Stamp set. AMAZING GIFT. Little did he know how far his $20 present went because I got it in my head to handstamp out EVERYTHING. Name cards, menus, bar list, dessert labels, and appetizers. I think I stamped for about 3 hours straight and had ink all over myself, but it was SO worth the effort. They looked simply fantastic:

Menus and name cards.

Menus and name cards.

The bar list. Come and drink.

The bar list. Come and drink.

Dessert bar.

Dessert bar.

Snacks!

Snacks!

Another little extra I found for only $1 at Michaels, were Christmas themed cupcake toppers and cocktail napkins. How awesome are these??

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

Our new coasters and the napkins!

Our new coasters and the napkins!

Moving on, I also wanted to FINALLY use some lovely gifts we got from our Nebraska bridal shower. Our gold plate chargers and water pitcher were both gifts from Mr. Speedy’s mother and were perfect. All the fine china was used for the first time, a family heirloom from my Nonna. The candelabra was a gift from my parents. How exciting it was to mix items from all over, to create a formal atmosphere:

Love this water pitcher!

Love this water pitcher!

DONT WORRY - NO ONE GOT BURNT.

DONT WORRY – NO ONE GOT BURNT.

I really like Pirate's face.

I really like Pirate’s face.

So…..

What did I cook???

All recipe are SUPER EASY (I promise) and very tasty. Some recipes are pre-made others are made from scratch. Enjoy:

GLAZED HAM

So much ham.

So much ham.

This ham is super easy – it is pre-cooked and pre-glazed from the store. Although this may seem like cheating, it is not. Your guests will never know and you can tell them that you actually went out and hand-picked the pig that is now on the table and watch their mouths drop. To heat this up, wrap it up in foil and put in in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1.5 hours. So juicy and tasty.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

So tasty.

So tasty.

Just like the ham, this was a pre-made soup. All I did was pour it into a saucepan and heat up. If you are really ambitious, then feel free to make it from scratch. DON’T JUDGE ME FOR SERVING THIS.

BALSAMIC CRANBERRY BRUSSEL SPROUTS

These were simply delicious.

These were simply delicious.

(Makes 8 servings)

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
3 pounds of brussel sprouts
olive oil
salt and pepper
3/4 cup dried cranberries

  1. First, make the balsamic glaze. You can do this early in the morning, and set it aside for later.
  2. Pour vinegar and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens a bit (might need to add sugar).
  4. Remove it and set aside.
  5. Rinse sprouts and slice them in half (I did this the day before).
  6. Spread them in a single layer on baking sheets.
  7. Using a brush, brush olive oil over them all and then sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Roast for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees, or until they are crisp and have some brown leaves.
  9. Pile them on a large serving tray, sprinkle the dried cranberries all over the top.
  10. Slowly pour the balsamic glaze all over.
  11. SERVE!

GARLIC (ROSEMARY) ROASTED POTOATOES

These are tiny but tasty!

These are tiny but tasty!

Serves 12

6 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 Tbl. rosemary, minced
1 stick of butter
6 pounds of fingerlings potatoes (assorted colors), keep skin on but wash
salt and pepper
2 Tbl. fresh parsley, minced

  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mince the garlic , rosemary, parsley – keeping them all separate. (I did this the day before).
  3. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat, then add rosemary and garlic.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Arrange potatoes on baking sheet and coat with butter mixture.
  6. Roast them for 40-45 minutes.
  7. Arrange them on a large platter, add salt and pepper, and sprinkle parsley over the top.
  8. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES

Globs of chocolate everywhere.

Globs of chocolate everywhere.

Please note: These are not very pretty as I completely messed up melting the chocolate. Still edible, just not pretty.

24 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces of white chocolate chips
2 containers of strawberries

  1. Grab a baking sheet and layer it with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the semisweet chocolate in a glass bowl with the microwave OR in a saucepan.
  3. Dip a strawberry into melted chocolate, rolling it to coat all sides.
  4. Lay it on parchment paper.
  5. Repeat with all strawberries.
  6. Let chocolate harden on strawberries for 30 minutes in a cool area (I put mine in the freezer but you could put them in a garage or outside, if cold enough outside)
  7. Melt the white chocolate and using a butter knife, dip it into white chocolate and then drizzle designs over the dipped strawberries.
  8. You could also re-dip the strawberry into the white chocolate, to add another layer of yumminess.
  9. Decorate the remaining strawberries with the white chocolate.
  10. Let harden for 30 minutes as previous done in step 6.
  11. Serve them on a pretty stand! Or pack them up and give away.

RED VELVET CUPCAKES

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

Ha. These were store bought. No way was I going to make cupcakes from scratch, along with frosting. The package I bought from the store INCLUDED frosting, so it was obviously the perfect buy.

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Sorry for the long post, but there you have it. I think I might make those brussel sprouts as a traditional side dish every Christmas. It is fun how every family does their own traditions with meals. Mr. Speedy’s family has chili and cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve. Does your family have any traditional meals during the holidays??

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas!

Sincerely,

Stamp-Crazed Lily

The best picture we have ever taken.

The best picture we have ever taken.

My First Casserole: Spanish Chicken & Rice & Mystery Sauce

This week, I got out my domesticated side out from underneath my cereal-consuming side and braved a new dish:

I present to you- zee casserole:

Mhmmmm

Mhmmmm

Mr. Speedy is a subscriber to the magazine, Cooking Light, and this month’s cover caught my eye with the casserole recipes.

It really is quite a good magazine if you are looking for meals that don’t require using 56 lbs. of butter and lard and don’t want your waistline to suffer.

I am immature. Sorry.

I am immature. Sorry.

Party pooper…. hehe.

Okay, I choose this mexican chicken rice recipe because a)I had a lot of the ingredients and b)it did not look too hard. I will warn you that I did not have any saffron, so my recipe is slightly different (and it has a mystery sauce)…. and I didn’t include olives because they make my soul die a little and tongue shrivel up like a raisin.

This recipe requires a lot of chopping which is DANGEROUS for me. Creating this was taking a risk, like trying to ride a horse bareback, while tweezing your eyebrows, and eating a cupcake. Quite risky business. I have cut my fingers multiple times while chopping things. I don’t know if it is my inability to aim or my directionally-challenged brain or what…. but it is a hassle when you are trying to be the next Julie Child for your man.

Mr. Speedy actually does not like it when I chop things and usually stands near-by, waiting for me to scream or for a finger to fly off in his direction. It is kind of romantic but kind of pathetic, on my part. He always says to me, “Be careful.. I don’t want to lose you because you bleed out while attempting to slice a cucumber. And don’t ever chop when home alone.”

You know how you aren’t suppose to swim alone? Or walk alone in the dark? I can’t use the kitchen knife when home alone.

ANYWAYS, I DIDN’T LOSE ANY FINGERS ON THIS ONE, KIDS. But, I did cut my finger later that evening while making my salad for work the next day.

HERE IS THE CASSEROLE- ENJOY!!!

Saffron cream? I did not do that just to warn you.

Saffron cream? I did not do that just to warn you.

  • 1 Tbl. olive oil, divided (divided? I just used like 2 Tbl. and did not divide b/c that sounds complicated)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (trim that fat off people!)
  • 1 c. chopped white onion
  • 2 ounces cured Spanish chorizo sausage, diced (I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THIS IS. I USED 3 TURKEY SAUSAGE LINKS.)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (I MINCED LIKE, 7 CLOVES BECAUSE IT TASTE GOOD AND VAMPIRES WILL STAY AWAY)
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 c. hot cooked long-grain rice (Uncle Ben’s long grain rice, 1 package, works wonderfully)
  • 1 c. frozen green peas, thawed
  • 16 pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped (EWWWW NOOOO.)
  • 1 1/2 c. fat free milk
  • 1/4 c. tomato paste (I DON’T KNOW WHAT PASTE IS… SO I USED TOMATO SAUCE. PERFECTO.)
  • 2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads, lightly crushed (I am lazy and didn’t know what this was or have it… so it didn’t go in)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. fat free sour cream

1. You will need to pre-cook the rice and have it ready to go. I also chopped up my onion, pepper, garlic, chicken ahead of time. Made it easy-peasy!

2. Pre-heat oven to 375° and spray your casserole dish with Pam so nothing sticks.

3. Using a large nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbl. olive oil and cook chicken, turning to brown on each side. Remove chicken from pan and place in large mixing bowl, set aside.

4. In same large skillet, add 1 Tbl. olive oil, and onion and chorizo (OR TURKEY SAUSAGE IF YOU ARE LIKE ME). Cook for a few minutes and then add in the chopped up pepper and garlic. Cook for a few minutes and then add this mixture, along with the cooked rice, and the peas, all into the mixing bowl with the chicken.

5. Mix the entire mixture well. Set aside and don’t move it.

6. In same saucepan, over MEDIUM heat, pour in the milk, tomato paste/sauce, flour, salt, saffron (or not), and pepper. WHISK around constantly, mixing well and until you see sauce to begin to boil (a few minutes).

7. Let it boil for 1 minute (but no longer because this sauce will burn quick). It should be thickening. Take off burner and add sour cream, mix it in sauce with whisk.

8. Pour sauce over the chicken mixture in the bowl, and mix around well, till evenly coated.

9. Pour entire chicken mixture into the casserole dish, evenly.

10. Cover with tin foil and cook for 15 minutes. Then REMOVE the foil, and cook for another 15 minutes.

11. EAT IT UP. BUT SHARE WITH OTHERS.

I feel like you could add the following and it would be super tasty: corn, broccoli, cauliflower, salsa on top, or tortilla chips on the side, or spoon it into taco shells.

ANYONE HAVE ANY FAVORITE CASSEROLE DISHES??? Preferably easy ones that do not require TOO much usage of sharp knifes.

sincerely,

Domesticated-Knife-Chopping Lily

I have done this. I can relate.

I have done this. I can relate.

A Sign That You Need a T.V.

In the midst of moving in together, Mr. Speedy and I realized that neither of us own a t.v.

Generally, this is not a problem because we really don’t ever seem to have time to watch anything. We literally have watched about 6 movies total in our relationship. We are usually running. Or I am reading. And he is using power tools to fix things.

But, let me ask you-

When you move into a new place with your husband-to-be, also known at the most attractive man you have ever laid eyes on, also described as a hunky individual who can melt you with one, piercing look-

And you, the wife-to-be, also known as his main squeeze, also described as the lovely lady with long legs that can make him drool-

When you move into together, and have no t.v., or internet, and end up staring for hours upon hours at each other and realize you are alone and clothes are optional-

What do you think happens to pass the time? Hmmmm?

I won’t go into further detail, but we (Mr. Speedy and I) figured it was time to purchase a t.v. because at some point, we will invite others over and they probably don’t want to join our optional clothing staring times.

So we went to Costco for the main reason that not only can you buy a large television but you can also eat dinner for $3.03.

I love this man... and how he is patiently waiting with our purchase.

I love this man… and how he is patiently waiting with our purchase as I get our dinner.

We love eating at Costco. Where else can you get a hot dog and pop for $1.50? Or non-fat yogurt in a large cup?

“When I was single, I used to come here for lunch and eat,” Mr. Speedy confessed.

I am shocked that he was not picked-up by a fellow female shopper. Remind me to personally thank all those ladies that passed him by.

Single no longer.

Single no longer.

This is my favorite item to get:

Nom Nom Nom.

Nom Nom Nom.

The t.v. box is bigger than I.

The t.v. box is bigger than I.

We brought our new electronic box home, set it up, and instead of running- relaxed and camped out on the floor (we still do not a couch yet), with large pillows:

Our feet!

You can barely see our feet in the corner… happily together.

The only downside of laying down in this position, is that it makes your body automatically want to go back into the starting-clothes-are-optional activity, which then causes you to roll around together, lips smacking, and unintentionally smoosh the DVD remote, turning off the entire movie altogether.

This is probably why we don’t go to the movies often. We get distracted by each other within an hour.

Anyways, today we are going to attempt to move a couch and mount the new t.v. on the wall.

Mr. Speedy, the stud, will use a stud finder.

Harharhar….. terrible joke. Sorry.

Hopefully no one gets smooshed, other than remotes.

Sincerely,

Lily