Labor & Birth {Days}

I. Love. Surprises.

As evidenced by the photo to the left, even when wearing serious cowgirl garb, I can barely contain my excitement (that’s a swing set in the trunk by the way. I loved that thing…Until I realized that wasps built nests in the glider, and then I steered clear of the thing for months). I think the bolo tie made the outfit, don’t you?

Birthday excitement then…

When my Birthday dawned yesterday, it wasn’t much different. Even though I’m 25, not 4, and had to go to work, I was beyond happy to be greeted with THREE b-day surprises, including flowers from the Husband, and chocolate from the Parents. But, what excited me most of all was the prospect of dinner at my favorite restaurant in the universe: Revolver.

…Birthday excitement now

I adore Revolver’s seasonal, local, fresh, amazing food… and their retro-funk decor is a total treat. Chatting with the staff is fun, and the wine list is to die for. In short, this place is a gem, and I LOVE that it is nestled in our little city in Northwest Ohio.

We dined on poutine with duck fat french fries, braised goat and aged cheddar (not so healthy, but oh, so amazing), sweet corn bisque with vanilla mascarpone (the vanilla was intense!), pekin duck breast with roasted sweet corn, spicy pickled cucumbers and avocado, and local pork loin with fennel gratin and watercress. And, I can’t forget, polenta… I rarely DREAM of food, but Chef Mike’s polenta is simple, rich and heavenly.

For dessert, we got both the rich chocolate brownie with homemade raspberry reduction and ice cream, and the summer fruit trifle (served in a glass jar!) with fresh whipped cream and buttery pound cake and a cup of French press coffee (hey, it’s my Birthday…I can’t eat two desserts if I want.)… *sigh*. Perfection.

This day of bliss actually followed a pretty amazing Labor Day weekend. Even though it was packed, we had a ton of fun with friends and family at our annual Labor Day Family Camp (where the Husband and I first hung out eight years ago!), enjoyed great friends at a wedding, and even got to hang out along the Ohio River and take a spin on a Jet Ski!

The wedding was so lovely, and we are ecstatic for our friends Pat & Emily (they’re going on their honeymoon to New Zealand and Australia – how cool is that?). We stayed with our friends Sarah, Andy, Karen, Josh, Liz and Kyle at Sarah’s family river house after the wedding, and were treated to delicious food, a boat ride, sangria, a church service on the lawn and more hospitality than anyone could ask for (Thanks!). It’s a fun group (the guys and Karen all work together) – it felt like a little vacation.

We started and ended our weekend at Labor Day Camp. Also known as “The Best Four Days of the Year”, this camp has been a part of our lives for a long time. Our entire church family attends – a million little animals kids, parents and pastors alike, and we take time to learn, eat and play together. My lovely mama danced, my little sister sprained her ankle but was too busy running around to notice, and my brother got to sit by the fire for hours with his friends. Our stay there (even though we always leave tired, sick of the camp food, totally over the hard wooden benches and in need of a real shower) is always refreshing and delightful.


So, we caught up with friends, listened to great teachings, had amazing times of prayer and ate lots of s’mores… In short, I don’t think we’d miss it for the world (even if that means getting ready for a wedding in a camp bathroom with no air conditioning in 100 degree heat…Thank the Lord for hairspray).

I hope your holiday was just as full of simple joys, and that you get to see friends and eat at your favorite restaurant soon too.

Do it. It’s worth it.

Rachael’s Wedding Pasta

We’re headed to a wedding this weekend (and many weekends recently…it’s just that season), and it got me thinking: I love weddings – the celebration, the food, the love, the dress, the food and the reflection of the couple in all of the little details they spent time planning…and the food.

I had a wonderful time planning my own wedding in June of 2009, and even miss it sometimes. One of my favorite things about ‘our special day’ was our dinner menu. After weeks of trying to decide which caterer to use, I realized that everything I LOVE to eat, my mom makes. And, everything I was looking for in a caterer, were things she already did better than anyone I could hire. So, we chose to ‘cater’ the wedding ourselves (with the help of a few dozen friends).

It tuned out better than I could have imagined…

{Above} Entering our reception – I adored my vintage clutch {Below} Food and treats!

A star of our spread was a recipe my mom perfected, and has since been dubbed “Rachael’s Wedding Pasta”. It’s flavorful and impressive enough for a crowd of elegant guests, but simple enough to make that even a newlywed can pull if off without a hitch!

Rachael’s Wedding Pasta

What you’ll need:

(Serves 4)

  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic vinaigrette dressing (I love Newman’s Own…and not just because of Paul’s captivating stare…)
  • 1/2 Box of whole wheat Pene pasta (The Hubby likes this type because he says it’s easy to stab with a fork)
  • 1/2 Cup Sun-dried Tomato Pesto, or to taste
  • 1/3 Cup of Pine nuts
  • 1 Quart Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • About 1 Cup Spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • About 3 T Olive oil to saute, plus 4 T to dress pasta
  • 3/4 Cup Fresh grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese, plus a ‘sprinkle’

Directions:

  • Marinate Chicken in dressing, grill, and slice into bite-sized pieces, set aside and keep warm
  • Saute mushrooms in olive oil (or butter), add pine nuts and garlic, heat
  • Cook pasta as directed
  • Drain pasta, add spinach while it is still hot to wilt
  • Mix pesto and mushroom mixture into pasta, add olive oil to taste
  • Add cheese, stir, use extra as garnish

We love to serve this with a leafy spinach salad, crusty bread and dipping oil – Always a hit, and easy to re-heat or make on the fly for unexpected guests (the kind your hunky new husband invites from work and doesn’t tell you about until about T-30 minutes from their arrival… no, not from personal experience of course).

Or, your husband might come home from work hungry, and grab the whole bowl. This happened. No joke.

At least he classed it up with the swanky bottled root beer.

Enjoy!