On Summer Evenings

One of the things I adore the most about the summer months is just how simplistic it is throwing together “hors d’oeuvres” and calling/ texting up friends for a casual night of entertaining.

We try to fill our weekend summer evenings all gathered around the table with our little family and friends, a good bottle of vino, an assortment of cheeses, some meat, crackers, dips, fruit, nuts… you get the idea… We had a hoot arranging it on a great big ‘ol inherited Fiestawear platter dish or wooden cheese board that my grandfather made us. We light some votive candles and sit back enjoying good belly laughs while sharing stories and the music playing softly in the background. It’s a fun little tradition I hope we continue to uphold and bumblebee grows up remembering!

^ NEW FAVORITE TORTILA CHIP!! Spicy Sriracha soooo addicting!

Cheers summer weekends! Cheers!

Backpackbees

Importance of sorts

Thursday evening I prepared THIS meal with Bumblebee.

Okayyyy it’s pretty obvious that she realllly can’t jump in and assist me just yet, BUT I feel that she does truly enjoy hearing and watching us bounce around our kitchen space chattering and singing to her in silly little voices and making funny facial expressions. Most of the time she sits smiling watching us, or chews on her Very Hungry Caterpillar or hands (hehehe).

We try to explain what we’re making and the importance of fresh healthy ingredients.

We want her to grow up knowing how to cook and not be afraid or shy away from wild ingredients like foie gras, pink peppercorns, Korean or Thai peppers, or even smoked sea salt. (wait…are those ingredients considered wild??)

Together we’re striving to impress upon her the importance of good locally grown food, pairing a nice glass of wine with a meal, taking and making time with family and friends as we do Thursday evenings to relax, enjoy and eat together. Most of all to savor this short sweet life we’re all so blessed to live.

This dinner was almost too good for words! Seriously! It was SO simple and has to be one of the best weeknight meals that’s been served at our table. Oh boy, the gravy was so savory! The meat literally melts in your mouth and also makes your entire home smell all homey and delicious!

Slow cooker Balsamic Rosemary Beef Chuck Roast

(Should serve 4 comfortably with other sides of course)

Ingredients:
4 lb Beef Chuck Roast
1/2 Tsp Better than Bouillon Beef Base
4 oz Hot water
1/2 Cup Balsamic vinegar
2 Fresh rosemary sprigs
2 Bay leaves
1/2 Yellow onion, cut in half
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 Large cloves of garlic, minced

Gravy:
All purpose flour to get a thick gravy consistency
2 Tbls Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste (you’ll need it if you’re salt and pepper hounds like we are)

Instructions:

Slice the chuck roast meat into nice stew-like cuts.

In slow cooker combine the sliced meat, beef stock, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, onion and minced garlic and stir/ mix by hands to coat everything nicely.

Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or if in a pinch on high for 4-6 hours. (The goal is to slow cook the meat until it melts in your mouth)

Once meat is cooked, use tongs to remove the meat into a separate bowl. Remove and discard the rosemary sprigs and the bay leaves.

In another separate bowl, add flour and slowly mix in about 2 1/2 Cups of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker until it’s smooth. (Be cautious because hot liquid and flour like to make lumpy gravy).

Next microwave until the flour mixture thickens, it’s about 1 minute. Once it’s a nice thick looking paste, whisk that into the remaining slow cooker liquid to create the gravy.

Taste and adjust any seasonings / add in another 2 Tbls of balsamic vinegar if desired, or needed for more flavor.

Return beef back to the slow cooker and stir to coat everything.

This pairs wonderfully with baked potatoes or rice. Don’t forget a nice tall glass of red too!

We served with baked potatoes, creamed spinach, freshly baked homemade pesto pine nut bread and garden salads. Mmmm!

Backpackbees

French press Friday’s: Her world

Random thoughts over french press this morning…

Right now I’m so very thankful that bumblebee is still to small to realize the reality of what’s going on in our big world….As a parent how does one even begin to explain the things that you yourself don’t fully comprehend? I know we cannot shelter our children forever. It’s just…sometimes I’d like to escape to her childhood world and hide out for a bit. Honestly, can you blame me?

Backpackbees

A love language of dinner and vino

We’ve said it before, but will say it again, our love language is sharing food with our family and good friends. There is nothing like eating delicious home cooked food and sipping on a glass of vino!

Over the past two weeks we’ve entertained a new friend visiting from Thailand, and we hosted a low-key vino night, who doesn’t like an excuse to bust out the cheese board and pop open the vino with good friends?!

Gahhhh we we’re sooooo in our happy place!

Backpackbees

As of late…

Silence on the radio….I had been planning to share our photos of bumblebee, what we’ve been whipping up and passing around our table for dinner, things we’ve been doing over the past few weeks…that is until seeing and reading the stateside news media as of late.

I’m a creature of habit, each morning I sit thankfully in my comfortable, quiet, moderately safe kitchen and read/ watch yet another attack, lives taken, the disgusting political mudslinging, friendships being ripped apart over petty disagreeing opinions as it relates to the before statements, the insane weather destroying communities, etc., I’ve just been so reluctant and so hesitant to post anything really. Hesitant to post about the wonderful times we’re experiencing here and the incredible foods we are so blessed to indulge on, out of respect to those who are clearly not safe, going hungry, in harm’s way of attacks and mother nature. Yes, to me it felt like writing about our homemade meals, vino night with good friends and cute bumblebee photos is very trivial in light of these heinous acts and tragedies.

But, I’ve realized and have shared some really special conversations with someone recently that’s given me more perspective on these events and a worldly view as a whole. We’ve discussed that no matter where you are these terrible things will occur, will continue to occur and you can’t let it stop you from trying to make the world a better place not only for you and I, but our children too. You can’t stop finding the good in your days and you certainly can’t let it stop you from living.

Through these conversations I’ve given so much deep though into the importance of my family and the importance of our friendships and who we chose to spend our remaining ticking hours with while we are on earth. I’ve realized even more so the importance of gathering our little family and close friends around our table, how writing about and sharing our home cooked meals is not trivial in the least bit, but so hugely important during these unfortunate times, because we are turning to one another to foster togetherness in our homes and around our tables. We’re creating these positive moments and memories, escaping even if only for a short bit of time the sadness and reality of what’s going outside of our doors and across the ocean from us. We’re gifting one another great company, great food, great wine and friendship that comforts, nourishes, strengthens, bonds our minds, hearts and bellies. With that being said…. I’ll post on.

Backpackbees

Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza is pretty amazing stuff. The very best part about homemade pizza is getting to be as creative as you’d like. Am I right? I love the endless amounts of combinations and flavors that everyone brings to the table. Me, I’m a HUGE veggieholic and could pile on the cheese, mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives, brocoli, etc. just give me all the vegetables! Mr. B loves stacking his pizza with meat, more meat and anchovies. Although, I must admit it took me awhile to get use to his salt-lick slices of pizza, but I eat it now ha-ha!

This is my go to crust recipe…it ALWAYS turns out tasty and has been a trusty keeper. If you try it for yourself, let us know what you think.

This past week on family/neighbor dinner night we made homemade pizza and topped one with cheese, homemade meatballs, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms.

The other pizza, per our guest request, was topped with cheese, jalapeños and pepperoni. We paired the two pizzas with a big Greek salad and a nice glass of red.

I adore and look forward to these evenings dinners in with our neighbors, what a treasure. The weather was beautiful and not too terribly hot, a nice little breeze floating through our windows. Bumblebee was hammin’ it up, per her usual, making all sorts of friends with anyone in her line of sight, mowing down on her fist… I just love my little family!

Backpackbees

First Father’s Day

I think by now you realize that our family love language is cooking and baking homemade meals to share and enjoy with one another, our friends and family. Im also certain, just as you suspected, Father’s day wasn’t any exception to that statement either. Yes, Bumblebee and I decided to show our love and admiration for Mr. B and his first Father’s day through his stomach. We whipped up some extra special homemade Belgium waffles, a side of fresh fruit and a good ol’ cuppa joe.

I have to say… nothing makes me smitten more with this man than seeing how much he loves our daughter! I love watching the two of them together. It’s the one of the sweetest thing ever, haha when she isn’t HANGRY, to see a new dad with his daughter. My love cannot possibly get any deeper than that.

Here is wishing a happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there! Our dad’s are an ocean away, so we could only call to tell them just how much we love and miss them over the phone. Boy do we miss them!

Backpackbees

French Press Friday: Sneaky

What if someone told me when I was 16 years old that in my life I would raise a blue-eyed baby girl and live abroad with my husband over 5 years away from everything we’ve ever known?

Never have I felt like I should stay rooted to a single place for the rest of my life. I love the world! I have far more than one favorite place to name and be.

I sit here swirling my coffee and ponder if our bumblebee will ever be attached to just one place, lay down roots, or will she identify herself just as her momma does… A “world citizen”? I suppose only time will tell.

My response to all of that….I’d say, LIFE, you surely are a sneaky little fox!

Backpackbees

Wedding Anniversary

Wowie! June is just the month of celebrations!! I love it!!

So what all are we celebrating this month? (Glad you asked)
Our 9 year wedding anniversary…. Seriously, 9 years?!
A birthday for Mr. B… Oh la la
A first Father’s Day for Mr. B…. Eek!! ((I cannot wait!!)

So yeah, I’ve got some catching up to do since I’ve already posted on the fun birthday celebration we had this past week. Apologies for the radio silence on the blog the past few weeks. We’ve just been living life over here.

(belatedly written via this blog) 9 YEARSSSS!!! Goodness….we sure have come so far in these past few years of marriage.

In the morning our dear neighbor dropped off a gift on our doorstep with the sweetest card. Mr. B arrived after work with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers in hand! I’m still swooning over that sunflower!

Later that evening we celebrated our special day with our bumblebee at home. We dined on a fabulous sous vide feast of surf and turf, couscous and broccoli. Mmmmm! It was quiet, quaint and so very special.

Happy anniversary Beebs! To many more healthy and happy years spent with the two of you. Cheers!

Backpackbees

Birthday Celebration

Mr. B puts a limit on the amount of fuss and pizazz that I get to make over his special day, his birthday. He’s not one for parties, no dragging out the celebration, no telling the waitress while out at dinner (trust me…past experience he never lets me live down). His birthday request, celebrate one day, at home, a good home cooked meal, a favorite adult beverage (or a few) and his once a year praline ice-cream cake.

To me I feel that your birthday needs to be fussed about and you HAVE to drag it for at the minimum of a week, because come onnnnnn, it’s YOUR special day! Celebrate!!

So per his request last week we celebrated at home one evening with a good friend, delicious grilled rib eye steaks, foie gras, buttery scallops, hand cut French fries, a tomato cucumber salad with vinaigrette andddd of course his praline ice-cream cake. Mmmm-Mmmm!

Happy Birthday Mr. B. to the best dad and husband bumblebee and I could ever ask for.

Backpackbees