Category Archives: Lovely Eats

Dinner Idea: DIY Chipotle Steak Bowl

IMG_5272 copy

Hey guys!  I’m the biggest fan of Chipotle and to be more specific their Steak Bowls.  For us during the week, by the time CJ get’s home from work and having a good routine for Nola’s bedtime, it’s just easier to have dinner at home.  So to get my Chipotle fix the past month I’ve made these at home at least once a week.  This post is less of a recipe and more of a dinner idea/assembly of what you need to make this because it’s really that simple.  If anyone’s like me I tend to have a handful of dinner’s that are put into rotation so I love getting other ideas.

Here’s what you need to make this tasty Chipotle Wannabe Steak Bowl.

1 Steak (cooked to your liking and sliced)
3 Cups of white or brown rice (add lime juice, cilantro & salt)
1 Red Onion
1 Red Pepper
1 Green Pepper
1 Can of Black Beans
1 Can of Sweet Corn (frozen or fresh works too of course)
Pico de Gallo
Sour Cream
Cheese (shredded cheddar or queso fresco)
Salt and pepper to taste
Lettuce (I don’t add it, but that’s part of a Chipotle bowl so add if you like!)

This was enough for 2 adults and 1 toddler

You could season the steak prior to cooking with cumin and chili powder, but I enjoyed ours with just salt and pepper.  Right before serving add to rice the juice from 1 lime, a handful of cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.  Fry the onion and peppers, add salt and pepper to taste.  Heat the black beans and corn.  Then all that’s left is the assembly of your choice.  Easy, right!?!

Last night I made this and just piled everything on top of each other.  Other nights I nicely put each ingredient in separate piles.  The great thing about making this at home is if you are hungrier than one bowl you can just get some more.  The amount on my plate last night was the size of TWO Chipotle bowls and I ate it all.  I was simultaneously horrified I ate that much and also at the same time proud, which the latter scares me even more because why would I be proud of that?!  Anyways, make this, it’s delicious, easy and husband and toddler approved!!

Happy Oscars

Martinelli's and raspberries- the pregnant version of Oscar bubbly

Martinelli’s and raspberries: the pregnant version of Oscar bubbly

I always love the Oscars, but this year’s show really struck a wonderfully intimate and fun note with Ellen as host. As mentioned last year, we usually host a viewing party but being 9 months pregnant, I just wasn’t feeling too ambitious planning a full-on themed menu this year and having people over. Instead, Nick and I had a low-key evening and had so much fun actually being able to sit, watch and enjoy the show. I’m so glad we did, given how many memorable moments there were! After having seen Dallas Buyer’s Club a few weeks ago, I was also so glad to see Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto win! Their awards were well-deserved, both were phenomenal in the movie.

A highlight of the night for me was Pharrell’s performance of “Happy,” which always makes me want to get up and shimmy (like Meryl), big belly and all, because it’s such a great, upbeat song that would put anyone in a good mood. I’ve loved Pharrell since his Neptune days, everything that man touches is gold. Happy is my anthem for 2014!

And last but not least, how could we pass up the opportunity not to make runzas in honor of Nebraska being nominated for Best Picture?? Runzas are bread pockets stuffed with meat, cabbage, and onions. I’ve tried them a couple times in Omaha when visiting Nick’s family.  Here’s a basic recipe from You can customize it to your taste- I added cheddar cheese and seasoning salt to ours for a little kick.



Servings: 6-8


    • 2 loaves bread dough
    • 1 lb hamburger
    • 1/2 head of cabbage ( chopped)
    • 1/2 medium onion ( chopped)
    • salt and pepper


  1. Thaw two loaves of frozen bread dough or make the equivalent amount using your favorite bread recipe.
  2. While dough thaws, make the filling.
  3. Brown the hamburger and drain, then return to pan.
  4. Add cabbage and onion and cook down.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste (1 tsp pepper recommended).
  6. Let dough rise, then punch down and roll a portion to 1/4″ thickness.
  7. Cut into 4″ x 8″ pieces and add about 1/2 cup meat mixture to each.
  8. Fold dough pieces over and seal the edges, then place seam-side-down on a greased cookie sheet. *I also brushed an egg wash over the dough so it turned golden brown in the oven
  9. Let rise 20-30 minutes, then bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until brown.

And just for the heck of it, try this link out to see how to Travoltify your name (Adele Dazeem?? REALLY?) Nice to meet you, I’m Kirsty Yoing!


#31 Weeks and a recipe for Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

There is a lot going on this week! We are looking forward to our co-ed Alice and Wonderland-themed baby shower on Saturday which is being thrown by my wonderful boss, Cindy, and my dear friend, Linda. I can’t wait to see our totally male orthopedic surgeon friends decorating bibs!

Oh, snap!

Oh, snap!

This Sunday, Missy and I are also going to be (for once), standing on opposite sides representing our cities as the Seattle Seahawks face the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship! The Seahawks have been doing phenomenally well this year and the city seems to buzz with excitement whenever they play as we inch closer to the Superbowl. I’ve never seen anything like it, but it’s certainly fun to watch. Seattle has only been in one Superbowl before, but has never won. Wouldn’t it be fun if the city played in their second during our last year here?

#31 Weeks

#31 Weeks

I’m also 31 weeks! We are chugging along. To try and remember this time in our lives, I’ve been trying to keep a weekly pregnancy journal to record the journey. Here is this week’s entry:

31 weeks (wk 1/13)
Baby is the size of a: Coconut!
Total weight gain: 22 lbs
Maternity clothes: Oh yeah, tops and bottoms at this point
Stretch marks: Nothing I can see yet
Sleep: A little more disrupted, some insomnia, she likes to kick in the middle of the night when I start stirring. She is an early morning baby, God help me.
Best moment of this week: My parents coming into town for our baby shower Saturday!
Miss anything: Sleeping on my back, I am surrounded by pillows these days so I can remember to stay on my side!
Movement: She’s starting to roll in there, and I’m beginning to feel what seems like little hands or feet. It’s a crazy feeling.
Food cravings: Oranges and fruit juice
Anything making you queasy or sick: No
Have you started to show yet: The bump seems to grow every day and I think I’m carrying lower now
Gender: Girl
Labor signs: No
Belly button in or out: In
Wedding rings on or off: On
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy
Looking forward to: Our baby shower Saturday!
Thoughts to Baby: Hi Baby Girl, we heard your heartbeat again on Monday which was so comforting to hear because it is still very strong. Your measurements are good and the doctor says we’re progressing nicely. Let’s hope your delivery will be smooth too! We are so looking forward to celebrating you with our friends and family at the shower on Saturday! You’re already so loved!

Lastly, here is a soup recipe that I tried this week which was really yummy, healthy and yet still tasted decadent (thanks to the oxtails). I really love anything Ina Garten makes! She never fails me.

Yummy yum yum

Yummy yum yum

Rich Beef Barley Soup 2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?
Prep Time:
15 min
Cook Time:
2 hr 20 min
6 servings


1 tablespoon good olive oil
2 pounds beef oxtails (some reviewers suggested beef short ribs if oxtails were not available)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (4 carrots)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup (1/2-inch) diced celery (2 stalks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
10 cups canned beef broth
1 cup pearled barley


Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Add the oxtails, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until browned all over. Remove the oxtails with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Tie the thyme sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot along with the bay leaves. Return the oxtails to the pot and add the broth, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Discard the thyme bundle and the bay leaves, and skim off the fat.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the barley. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, drain, and set aside.

When the soup is ready, add the barley and cook the soup for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the barley is tender. Depending on the saltiness of the stock, the soup might need another teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Serve hot, with or without the oxtails.

*Cook’s note: I also cubed, browned, and simmered a small beef chuck roast to add in the soup as well because Nick likes his meat and there wasn’t a lot of meat on the oxtails.



New Favorite Type of Book

I know that it’s been mentioned before how much I love food in previous posts, but in case you missed it and don’t know that side of me, food is pretty big deal.  And it’s more than just me loving to eat it’s an emotional fun thing for me.  I hope in a good way anyways…I also may have a slight addiction and though I’m still breastfeeding I’m going to hate it when I can no longer use that as my excuse to eating so much.

I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant and though it required me to eat VERY healthy, I truly was an emotional wreck.  Sure it helped me not gain hardly any weight, but I would have traded all of that to eat some foods I loved so much.  It’s like food warms my heart.  Some may get this and others won’t, my husband for example eats mainly for survival which I still can’t wrap my head around.  The nice thing about this is he’s very open to what we have and if I’m craving something he’s usually game.

I’m the person that studies menus online before going to the restaurant because I’m so excited to see what they have and it gives me time to think about what I’m going to order.  When I wake up it doesn’t take me too long to think about what I’m having for every meal.  To go back to my gestational diabetes, I had an appointment with my dietician where I remember calling CJ and about to burst into tears about how I was so upset about things were going and that they wanted to put me on a Metformin.  The following day my water broke, so if that tells you how stressed I was.  Lets just hope I handle things better the second time around.

But it’s even more than me just liking food, I love that food can bring you back to time you had it with family or friends.  Or that a certain type of food brings back a special memory.  Eating mussels and sopping up the wine sauce with bread will always make me think of dates with my guy.  Sushi is something I was first introduced to by my dear friend and we have had countless times eating it together since.  My mom’s french toast is my favorite and I look forward to it every time I go home.  But most importantly food brings your favorite people together to catch up, talk and make memories while nourishing your body.

With all that being said, I have a new love for books that include personal stories about their lives and the story behind a recipe they are sharing.  A recipe is a recipe, but when it comes with a story the food sounds much more delicious to me and obviously it’s much more special.  One of my biggest hopes is to pass the love for food onto my kids and make memories making food together and of course the conversations we have around the table.  Here are a three books I have read in the past that involve the author’s personal story to the food and recipes they share.  These are my absolute favorite books to read recently and I highly recommend them!


Bread and Wine spoke close to my heart because it talks about not only the love for food, but the spiritual and emotional connection food allows people to share when around the table.  I actually met Shauna at a book reading and she’s pretty awesome.

homemade life

Without sounding cliche, the book A Homemade Life is also sooo good!  Krystal actually recommended this to me and so glad she did!  The author Molly Wizenberg has a blog called Orangette which I love following.  Molly has such a cool and hilarious personality that shines through in her writing to the point where I would love to hunt her down and beg her to be my friend.  I also have made a lot of her recipes and it seems she only posts recipes that are exceptional.


This last book, The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken was the first book I read that involved a personal story with recipes and it was probably 7 years ago which is pretty amazing since I have a hard time remembering things a week ago.

I can’t say enough good things about these three books and hope you give them a try.  If you have any books you have read similar to this style please let me know because I’m dying to read more like it!


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas gets most of the attention around this time of the year, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I can’t imagine anything better than kicking off the season with a cozy celebration of family, food, traditions (both old and new) and giving thanks for all of our blessings. Having lived away from both our families these past 9 years, I cherish every holiday we get to travel home, Nick’s work schedule permitting, to be with our loved ones. This year, we get to spend Thanksgiving (or Thanksmas) in Omaha with Nick’s family and Christmas with mine in Southern California. Like last year, we also hope to be able to have a mini-Thanksgiving at some point with just the two of us, so I have an excuse to cook the traditional dinner!

So let’s get to the good stuff: the food! I love seeing people share their recipes and traditions during Thanksgiving. After all, food is love. What are your favorites? For some, Thanksgiving means turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing. In the Wegner household, the traditional lime-green pear jello dessert from his mother’s side of the family makes an appearance at the table every Thanksgiving. During Nick’s first Thanksgiving with my family, I tried making it so he could feel like he had a little piece of home with him. Every person in my family was initially horrified at the sight of it- neon, creamy green in the clear glass bowl (there really isn’t much you can do to make this jello look pretty) but soon everyone, to their surprise, fell in love with its sweet refreshing taste after the first cautious bite. I even caught my late Grandma Sue covertly licking the last remnants off the serving spoon when we were clearing up at the end of the meal. To this day, if we are celebrating Thanksgiving in California, my relatives still request I make it and it’s now an official entry in our family cookbook as the “Greteman Lime Pear Jello.”

Nick’s favorite Thanksgiving food is his mother’s stuffing, which I try to replicate every year but can’t get quite right yet. My personal favorite dish at Thanksgiving is the oft-maligned green bean casserole. The Campbells Soup and French Onion kind, I totally admit without shame. Yes it’s not fancy and the cream of mushroom soup is kind of scary to pry out of the can but I know countless others (though they may not want to admit it), who like me, LOVE and look forward to its comforting deliciousness every year. Sometimes I’ll make a green bean casserole with fresh green beans and eat it for the week, that’s how much I love it.

If you’re looking for a homemade version, Deb Perelman of the wonderful Smitten Kitchen blog, wrote a post for green bean casserole this week that was adapted from an Alton Brown recipe. Ms. Perelman (and Alton Brown) rarely make a misstep, so I can’t wait to try it. And it can all be done in one skillet! Score.

I should also mention that Nick loooves canned cranberry sauce (it doesn’t take much to please these Wegners it seems!) I’ve included Alton Brown’s homemade cranberry sauce below. Maybe this is the year we finally fancify our favorite dishes!

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels this week, everyone!

Photo by the Smitten Kitchen

Photo by the Smitten Kitchen

Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions
Adapted a little from Alton Brown and a little from trial-and-error

Serves 6, or more if you: a) have a lot of sides on the table, which I bet you will, or b) use the higher amount (1.5 pounds) of green beans

Crispy Onions
2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons panko or plain breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Canola, safflower, peanut or other high-heat oil, for deep-frying

Mushroom Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
12 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
Few gratings fresh nutmeg (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream

1 to 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved (see note about volume)

Make the crispy onions: Toss onion with flour, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Heat a 1/2-inch or so of oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet until a drop of water flicked into it will hiss and sputter. Add onions, just a handful at a time in something close to a single layer, and fry until a light golden brown (they’ll get more color in the oven; I overcooked mine a bit, forgetting this). Remove with a spider or large slotted spoon, let oil drip off a little, back into the skillet, then spread onions out on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining onions. Set aside until needed; this makes a lot.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare the beans: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and boil greens for 5 minutes (for standard green beans) or 2 to 3 minutes (for haricot vert, or skinny ones). Drain beans, then plunge them into ice water to full stop them from cooking. Drain again, and set aside. (If you are adamant about only using one pot, you can boil them in your 12-inch cast iron skillet that you use for the other steps. But a saucepan can be easier.)

Make the mushroom sauce: Over medium-high heat, melt butter in the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute them until they start releasing their liquid, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how they were chopped. Add the garlic and saute one minute more. Add the flour and stir it until it fully coats the mushrooms. Add the broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring the whole time. Simmer mixture for 1 minute, then add cream and bring back to a simmer, cooking until the sauce thickens a bit, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently.

Assemble and bake: Add cooked greens beans to sauce and stir until they are coated. Sprinkle crispy onions over the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and onions are a shade darker. Eat at once.

Do ahead, a few ways: Onions can be made long in advance (up to a day) and keep at room temperature, loosely wrapped (they’d get soggy in an airtight container). Green beans can be cooked and kept in fridge until needed, at least one day. Green beans can also be combined with mushroom sauce and kept refrigerated for up to a day. Add onions and bake shortly before serving. Finally, it’s less ideal, but the entire dish can be cooked, loosely wrapped (so the crispy top doesn’t get soggy) and then rewarmed in a low oven before serving. Just keep an eye on the topping so it doesn’t get too brown while reheating.

Cranberry Sauce
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007
Prep Time:
10 min
Inactive Prep Time:
6 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
20 minLevel:
6 to 8 servingsIngredients1 pound fresh cranberries, approximately 4 cups
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup 100 percent cranberry juice, not cocktail
1 cup honeyDirectionsWash the cranberries and discard any that are soft or wrinkled.Combine the orange juice, cranberry juice and honey in a 2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens. Do not cook for more than 15 minutes as the pectin will start to break down and the sauce will not set as well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce into a 3 cup mold. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.To unmold and serve, immerse bottom of mold in hot water for 10 to 15 seconds and turn upside down on plate or serving dish. If necessary, carefully run a warm knife around the edge of the mold.