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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Grilled Artichokes with Herbed Butter Dipping Sauce



I've never been a huge artichoke fan. My mom made them occasionally while I was growing up but A. I was a veggie hating child, B. she served them with straight mayo for dipping (sick), and C. they're so much work. Then, last year, we went on a group date to this fantastic restaurant in Phoenix called Le Grande Orange and I heard from at least 6 different people that under NO circumstances were we to pass on the grilled artichoke appetizer. I was skeptical but we ordered a few for the table.

Oh. sweet. mercy.

You really just have to go there and try it for yourself but, if you can't be bothered to fly across the country to try a truly incredible artichoke, I guess you can just give my version a try.

The sauce is different (I'm pretty sure theirs was mayo based. I've tried a few recipes and never loved my attempts quite like we loved the original) but this butter dip has a similar bite to it and was so ridiculously good that we dipped our bread in it after our artichokes were gone.

It was so good that I told myself I could justify the $3 to go buy another artichoke if I turned it into a recipe for my blog. Thanks for being my justification, you guys.

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A note on prepping artichokes: the leaves have little thorns on the end of them. A lot of people snip them off before cooking but I don't bother. They soften with cooking and aren't a problem when you get around to eating the final product.

Start by rinsing your artichoke in cold water. Then cut off all but one-ish inch of stem. Remove any of the small leaves on the stem.



Trim off an inch of the top.

Pretty!


Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop your artichoke in. Cover and cook (turning occasionally) for 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of your artichoke. Pull it out when a fork inserted into the stem goes in fairly easily and the outer leaves are easy to pull off.



Carefully remove your artichoke from the pot and let it drain upside down.


While the artichoke drains, get out a small microwave-safe dish and stick 3 tablespoons of butter in it. Add a small clove of minced garlic (1/2-3/4 tsp, is my guess, depending on how much you like garlic). Stick it in the microwave and nuke until it's about 90% melted. Then take it out and stir until it finishes melting.

Then, add to taste: a dash of oregano, basil, cayenne and a little rosemary.


 Stir it up and set aside for just a moment.

Grab your artichoke and slice it in half.

Now you need to remove the fuzzy bit (fun fact: it's called the "choke"). Use a small knife to cut a smiley just under the edge of the fuzz and then use a spoon to gently loosen and pull it out. Some of those purple leaves will come out with it and that's fine. Try to avoid pulling out too many leaves though- those middle ones are the best part!



Grab a pastry brush and brush the butter mixture on both front and back of your artichokes. Try and get it between the leaves if you can.


Grate a little parmesan cheese onto your cutting board, grab your tongs, and head out to the grill.


Also, if you are capable of using tongs without singing "The Thong Song" (but with tongs) then you are a better person than me.

(tong tuh-tong tong tongs...)

I usually just grill these on high, mostly because "high" for our grill isn't all that impressive. You're not doing any cooking here, just looking for some char. Use whatever grill setting works for you.


I cook flat side first. I usually move them around a bit while cooking to get a more even char.

Probably could have let it go a little longer but...I was hungry.


Flip them over and sprinkle some parmesan cheese on the flat side.


Let the back side get a little char then use your tongs (...tuh-tong tong tongs) to pull them off the grill.


Dip leaves in the remaining butter and enjoy!

(psst...never had an artichoke before and not entirely sure HOW to eat the thing? Hop on over to this post from Simply Recipes and scroll down to "How to eat an artichoke." The first few leaves are always kind of tough but they get more delicious as you move toward the center!)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Trying to Find My Groove



The problem with not writing is that it makes you less able to write. Blogging, like so many things, is comparable to a muscle. If you don't use it regularly and exercise it then it atrophies and becomes weak. Over the past month I've thought several times, "I should blog! ...But what do I write about? I got nothin'."

I tried to take some outfit pictures for Babble yesterday for the first time in over a month and was literally standing there thinking, "How do I do this?? I don't remember! WHERE DO MY HANDS GO." It was really frustrating and my pictures were crap and I'm back to the drawing board with that post.


Finally I changed back into the clothes I was wearing before and went outside and just tried to rediscover my comfort zone in front of the camera. Aaron came out and helped me remember to think about things like light and ISO and all that stuff (OH YEAH) and we both had an awkward nervous laugh over this crazy aggressive hummingbird that lives in our backyard that I swear is going to take one of my eyes if I'm not totally aware of where it is at all times.

I haven't quite gotten my groove back but heaven knows I am going to TRY. I've been in kind of weird place with this blog. For a while it got moderately popular and I felt really awkward writing about anything personal so I stuck to mostly style related posts. And then I got my Babble gig and it was super hard coming up with enough content for both there AND here when they had such similar focuses. So this blog died a bit because it makes zero dollars and Babble makes a little more than that and, if I have to choose between the two, I pick the one that allows me to save up and buy plane tickets to New York and go swimsuit shopping whenever I feel like it.

Now that my blog has dropped back into obscurity with like 5 readers maybe I'll feel a bit more comfortable with the personal stuff again. Regardless, I need to find my groove and figure out what I'm doing over here. Don't mind if things seem a bit uneven in the coming weeks and months...I'm just trying to find my footing.

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 I also write for Babble! Here's what's new:

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Arizona Blogger Meetup

Planners extraordinaire from L to R: Camille, Meghan, Chrissy and me. I just really really like these people.

So in the past yearish there have been four AZ Blogger Meetups. I got lucky enough to catch the first one, somehow missed the second, helped plan the 3rd but then didn't go (had a reason..I'm sure it was a good one...) and THEN, just to ensure that I would actually make it to the 4th, offered up my backyard as our venue. Bonus: it was free!

Downside: panics about possibly having a serial killer from the internet show up at my house. BUT it all turned out fine and lovely (except for when my 3yo came downstairs naked to greet Meghan) and I have zero complaints.

I literally took ONE truly terrible picture with my iPhone before getting down to the business of finding plastic forks and directing the million pregnant people to the bathroom, so any and all pics have been stolen from Chrissy and Camille.



We moved in only 2 weeks before the event, which wasn't quiiite enough time to resurrect the grass all the way, but we did what we could. We told participants to bring a blanket or cushion to sit on and I think it ended up being fine (except for that table at front right. It got taken over by ants). A little more lighting would have been nice- we had no idea our backyard got so DARK at night- but all in all I think it turned out lovely. I got to meet a lot of really nice people and it forced me to be social during an otherwise rather difficult week.


Local bakery Nothing Bundt Cakes donated two ridiculously lovely cakes and they were so. stinking. good. Like, sugar hasn't been agreeing with me at all lately but I still went back and had more (I like to live on the edge).


Also, I didn't have quite enough knives for the cakes so I ended up busting out my wedding set from 8+ years ago. Which led to this lovely moment between Camille and Chrissy-



To compare:



I think the floral crowns win this battle.

Everyone got 1 minute to do a little spiel about themselves and their blogs and it's such a great way to get to know people! 

There was a photobooth, obviously.

Fashun bloggers. We fancy.


But we lost the light fast and ended up taking a group shot in my living room-


Thanks to everyone who came and helped our event turn out so fun! BIG thanks especially to Camille, Chrissy and Meghan for being awesome party planners and generally lovely people.

Are you an AZ blogger and interested in coming to our next event? Join the FB group! We'd love to have you!

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I also write for Babble! Here's what's new:

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Splurge or Save

I have TWO swimsuit vacations coming up in May (CAN'T WAIT). A couple of my well-loved suits went all loose and transparent on me at the end of last summer so I'm on the hunt. I was browsing through ASOS and loved this neon tribal suit. A few minutes later I stumbled across a verrry similar looking option for less at Target!


I kind of prefer the ASOS top but they've got the same look and those bottoms are pretty much interchangeable. I'd take either!

ASOS (top | bottom), $101.62
Target, $32.98


Thursday, February 27, 2014

T-2 Days

In 2 days we will be holding the keys to our new house. In the meantime, my current house looks like THIS:



And that's actually a somewhat clean corner. Can I admit that the mess is sort of killing me inside? I generally keep a decently clean house because I feel nonfunctional in a mess. And our house has been a total mess for WEEKS. I'm not handling it well.

I asked Aaron yesterday if he was excited to close this weekend and he said, "...yes?" and I know what he means. The new house is very liveable in its current state but everything is total builder basic. We have SO much work ahead of us to get it updated and looking how we want. It's going to take years (and monies. Sigh).  We're painting the main living areas this weekend before we move in, so at least we'll have a start but it's still rather intimidating! Still so much to be done.

I'll be taking the month of March off Babble so I can unpack, paint, get settled, etc. In the meantime, here's what I wrote for Babble in February!

What to Wear on V-day, How to Wear Vintage Dresses, and 1 Stylish Mama | Merrick

Pretty florals for Spring, a personal style post featuring the denim vest, and comfy sneakers for moms on the go

Comfy day dresses (my favorite thing!), a DIY budget flower crown, and maternity skirts for allllll you pregos out there

Constellation inspired accessories and a quick naptime craft

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