Will you be my Valentine??

That was a rhetorical question, you have no choice – We are Married!

Each year February 14th rolls around people exchange cards, candy or flowers with their special ‘valentine’.
Valentine’s Day is named after a Christian martyr which dates back to the 5th century. It has origins with both Greek and Roman mythology.
My favorite myth states that St. Valentine defied his emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war.
How Sweet…….??

When Peter and I started dating 7 years ago, we never really stressed over Valentine’s Day. We never went ‘all-out’ for Valentine’s Day; it was either a quiet night at home, or a simple dinner out. No lavish gifts to exchange; just a cute, meaningful card from each other.
He understood, I appreciate flowers more on a random Tuesday vs. February 14th.

Our first Valentine’s Day together, we weren’t physically together so we ‘snail-mailed’ each other a card. The card I received from him, he wrote ‘LIA’ on it.
Who is ‘Lia’?; she is my niece – so I gave him a pass for that. But tease him about it every now and then. . .another year he sent me a beautiful card. The next year what did I get in the mail, the same valentine’s day card from the year before.
He claims; “I liked it so much I bought it again!”
So for us, Valentine’s Day is just a day for us to enjoy each other, disconnect from our lives and be in the moment with each other.

So is Valentine’s Day different when you are married?? For Peter and I the answer is – NO! We celebrated just like we normally do – a nice, quiet dinner at our favorite restaurant. I didn’t feel like cooking this year! One thing that I wanted to do was to try replicate was our wedding cake. It was the only thing at our wedding that we didn’t fully enjoy. Yes, we did the ‘cutting the cake’ picture, shoved it in each other’s faces but we didn’t have an entire piece. And we, of course have a layer in our freezer but it is bad luck to eat it before our One Year Wedding Anniversary.

Now; obviously I didn’t make a 4 layer cake, enough for 150 people. Just a replication of one layer, enough for him and I to enjoy with one another.

The flavor of our Wedding Cake was Pink Champagne, with Buttercream Frosting and Strawberry Puree filling.

So YUM!

Obviously I am NOT a cake decorator, but I just love to bake! Remember is just a hobby for me.

MY Version:
Strawberry Champagne Cake

So how did I adapt it??. . . .

. . . .See the Recipe Below


Ingredients:

For the Cake –

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature (makes for easier mixing)
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups of almond milk

For the Frosting –

  • 1 cup of pureed fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite Champagne
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoon of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

For the Cake –

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8-inch-square cake pans.
  • Combine and mix all ingredients with KitchenAid mixer until smooth.
  • Divide the batter between the two pans. Bake 30 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before they are removed from pans (overnight/ or 4 hours).

For the Frosting –

  • Combine and mix all ingredients with KitchenAid mixer until smooth.
  • If Buttercream is to thin, you can add more sugar if needed.

Once cake is cool and frosting is mixed, the cake is ready to assemble! I place my spatula that I use to frost the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes before I am ready to go. This helps smear the frosting on your cake much easier.

For this cake I added some Chocolate-Covered Strawberries, because it’s Valentine’s Day and it is a staple for V-day right??……

Enjoy making this Strawberry Champagne Cake and enjoy it along side of your loved ones.

See you in the Kitchen!!

Homemade Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Ingredients:
Directions:

In a double boiler, fill bottom pan with water. Place candy melts in top pan. Melt chocolate on med-high heat.

Using a toothpick, dip the strawberries in the chocolate. Covering majority of the strawberry. Once covered with chocolate, place on a sheet pan with parchment paper and allow to cool.

**Make sure that the berries are fully dry, not moist or wet at all. If you have wet berries it will ruin the melted chocolate!!**

Friendly Competition Among Lovers

The Tail of Two Chilies

If you have read previous posts, you know that Peter and I lived alone for majority of the years we dated. A food staple in both of our lives was always a big bowl of Chili. Gave us comfort on a cold winter days, makes a lot – so it’s super easy to freeze, thaw, reheat and enjoy!

So when we merged our lives together – we brought with us our favorite Chili recipe.

One is Lean and Mean, the other is Hot and Spicy. Both delicious!

The recipes follow, these you can cook two different ways. One on the stove top or in a crockpot. Either way these will ‘cook’ throughout the entire day letting the flavors and ingredients marry each other. I’ll list both ways to cook them below.


Turkey Chili

Ingredients:
2 pounds natural ground turkey
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 of each – red, green and yellow pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tbsp of garlic
1 can of green chilis (optional – I use it because it adds a little spice but it’s not super spicy)
1 can of red kidney beans (15 oz.)
1 can of black beans (15 oz.) You can use two of the same beans, I like to use different beans because I like ‘colors’ in my chili.
1 can of tomato sauce (26 oz.)
1 can of diced tomatoes (26 oz.)
2 tbsp of chili powder
1 tbsp of red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons of cumin

Directions: (This recipe I listed how to cook on a stovetop)
– Place oil in large deep pot on medium-high heat, sauté your onions, celery and garlic.
– Once garlic starts to brown and celery/onions are translucent add your meat and peppers.
– When the meat mixture is slightly cooked add in your spices.
– Stir well, then add tomatoes/sauce.
– Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
– Add beans with liquid, and continue cooking uncovered for 15 minutes.

Top with cheddar cheese, and/or serve with tortilla chips
Serves 6-8

Optional – if you desire to add sour cream, lime wedge, and/or cilantro its totally up to you. Making chili is great because you can adapt the flavors and spices to your liking.
Turkey Chili is a great source of lean protein, and is full of great vegetables which are beneficial to your health as well as the beans!!


Beef Chili

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground beef
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 cans of red kidney beans (15 oz. each)
1 tbsp of dry mustard
1/2 tsp of cayenne powder
1 tbsp of chili powder
1 can of crushed tomatoes (26 oz.)

Directions: (This recipe I am gonna list how to cook with a crockpot)
– Place oil in a large deep pan on medium-high heat, add meat and cook with onions, garlic and celery.
– Once meat mixture is cooked place into the slow cooker.
– Next add in your tomatoes and beans to the slow cooker.
– Add in your spices to the slow cooker and mix well.
– Either cook in crockpot on HIGH for 4-5 hours or LOW for 8-9 hours.

Top with cheddar cheese, cilantro, and/or serve with tortilla chips
Serves 6-8

Optional – if you desire to add sour cream and/or lime wedge its totally up to you.
Great classic Beef Chili Recipe.

As you can see both of these Chili recipes are super easy and classic. Chili is great because it can be adapted to any taste preference (ie – spicer, milder, etc.) Very inexpensive ingredients, majority of the time they are already in your cabinets.
Both recipes are a staple in our household as we go back and forth on which one we decide to make! Perfect for cold-weather comfort food.

Enjoy – see you in the Kitchen!
xoxo Leah

The Secret Ingredient is Always Cheese

Ham and Cheese Sliders
&
Cuban Sliders

**These Sliders I cooked in the same AirBake pan; its large enough that both packages of rolls fits perfectly**

Ham and Cheese Slider:
1 package of King’s Hawaiian Rolls
12 slices of deli honey ham (I usually buy whatever Brand is on sale)
6 slices of Swiss cheese
1/4 cup of Mayonnaise (I try to use a small amount – since it isn’t the greatest for you)
Begin with slicing your rolls in half length-wise, smear the mayo on the top and bottoms of the rolls. Assemble the meat and cheese on the bottom roll and then place on the top.

Cuban Slider: Very Similar to the Ham and Cheese
1 package of King’s Hawaiian Rolls
12 slices of roast beef (again buy the brand that you prefer)
6 slices of Swiss Cheese
12 dill pickles
1/4 cup of Mayonnaise
Begin with slicing your rolls in half length-wise, smear the mayo on the top and bottoms of the rolls. Assemble the meat, cheese and dill on the bottom roll and then place on the top.
THE BEST PART – THE SCRUMPTIOUS SAUCE:
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 tbsp of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp of worcestershire sauce

Once your sliders are constructed, mix up the sauce and pour over the sliders.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, cover the AirBake pan with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes covered, remove the foil and cook for another 10-12 minutes until the tops of the rolls are a perfectly golden brown.

**For the Cuban sliders, if you are making them alone you can certainly add ham slices to the sandwich. I didn’t for this recipe because I also made the Ham and Cheese ones.

**Deli and Cheese slices – if you get them from your deli counter it doesn’t matter what width of slice you get; I usually opt for a medium-thin slice.

Ain’t No Thing Like a Chicken Wing

Can’t Have a Football Game without these Wings. . . . .I did let these Chicken Marinate in the Chipotle Mixture for 2 hours before I baked them. You can do it but if you don’t have time don’t worry about it.

Make that Finger-Licking Sauce
Its the Perfect Mixture of Sweet and Heat

15 chicken wings
1 tbsp of olive oil
Dash of Salt and Pepper
1/3 cup chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (can be less if you prefer)
1/2 cup of honey (can be more if you prefer)
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

Add ingredients to a food processor, blend. You can make your adjustments here if you desire to make it hotter or sweeter. If you like the ‘temperature’ of your sauce add 3/4 of the mixture to a zip-lock bag and then place your chicken wings in the bag. Marinate for 1-2 hours (if possible)

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil – spray with your favorite non-stick cooking spray.
  • Arrange the marinated chicken wings in a single layer on the pan. Bake the wings for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked, flipping halfway through.
  • Once the wings are browned, brush some of that extra sauce over each of the wings. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with additional sauce; ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, or fresh lime wedges.

Live Life with a Little Spice

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
(without Tahini paste)

Ingredients:
2 cans of low sodium Chick Peas (15 oz.)
1 tbsp of olive oil
3/4 cup of roasted red peppers (I just used jarred peppers)
1 juiced lemon
2/3 cup of the drained chick pea liquid
Pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp of garlic
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tsp of onion powder

Directions:
Blend chick pea liquid and lemon until the liquid become frothy.
Add in chick peas, oil, roasted red peppers; blend until smooth.
Add salt and remaining spices until fully combined.
Used my favorite food chopper; KitchenAid One Touch so easy to use!

Serve with veggies or pita bread. Refrigerate any leftovers.
You can add in the Tahini paste if you like, I just didn’t have any in my cabinet when i went to make this dip for the game.

Time to Huddle around the Snack Table

“The Best Super Bowl is a super bowl of SALSA”. . . . or in our case it was Hummus this year.

We hosted a Super Bowl party this year – so it was a hectic evening full of hungry men, a screaming baby, a puppy running around picking up the crumbs off the floor and two women just trying to get a some delicious dishes to the table.

Oh boy – did it feel good when I finally did get a chance to sit down and watch the half time show!

Yass – JLO and Shakira. We waited for the night and the hips didn’t lie. (see what I did there. . . .??). I was hoping for Pit Bull to come out so I was surprised when Bad Bunny and J Balvin made their debut. But I enjoyed it – and the rest of the game as the men cleaned up the dishes!! It’s all about compromising!

Below are links to the recipes I cooked up for the night – great party food and crowd pleasers.

Enjoy – see you in the Kitchen
xoxo Leah

This Kitchen is Seasoned with Love.

I said “Yes” to Him and A Bigger Kitchen!

“Don’t be afraid to take Whisks.”

— Unknown.

So we are Engaged – On to the next chapter of our lives!

Peter and I hadn’t lived together until about 2 months before our wedding. So you can imagine how much ‘stuff’ we had to move into our home together. Each of us lived alone, so we had a bunch of kitchen gadgets, utensils, tools, dinnerware, etc.

I’ll be completely honest, and transparent with you – living solo and on a budget; YES – people a BUDGET was hard!! (But totally doable) I got all of my kitchen gadgets, utensils, tools from the Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and the Kitchen Collection (went out of business).

Super inexpensive, and I’ll be honest Dollar Tree sells Betty Crocker tools, gadgets. I mean; we all know who Betty Crocker is – right??

So moral of this little stroll down memory lane of my trips to the Dollar Tree is that you don’t need to break the bank if you are just starting out cooking. If you are thinking about starting a hobby with cooking and/or baking – there are inexpensive tools out there to get started and are very useful.

Another plus of saving money with Dollar Tree kitchen gadgets is more money for Shoes, Handbags, Makeup and Lashes (which is another passion of mine). Many of these gadgets that I started out cooking and baking with I still have in my kitchen drawers and cabinets. . . . .#winning

One of my favorite things to do when we got engaged was to create a wedding registry. Actually – ALL the wedding planning tasks were my favorite. I really enjoyed planning the wedding. NO BRIDEZILLA HERE!!

It was one of the first things we did together – after our date was chosen of course!

We chose your #basic stores; Macys and Bed Bath and Beyond. I’ve always loved both of those stores; they are inexpensive, able to STACK discount codes and/or coupons so its a WIN WIN for everyone.

Some of My Favorite Items that we Received and you’ll see on the Blog:

Let’s Get Cooking with these Fabulous Upgraded Kitchen Gadgets.

See you in the Kitchen,

xoxo Leah

Hi Everyone – Bon Appétit

Thanks for checking out my blog – very happy you’re here! I am a self-proclaimed foodie, who really loves to cook for people I love.

I have always wanted to start a food blog but it wasn’t until recently my husband – Peter; encouraged me to start one. I would constantly be taking pictures of the beautiful dishes I would make for us but what would I do with them?? Store them in my Iphone, which would just take up loads of storage.

It wasn’t until one day……

“Why are you taking photos of everything you make?” Peter would say.

Responding to him. . . .”Oh, I don’t know. The food looks so beautiful – I can’t resist.”

“You should do something with the photos you take – like share them somehow with the world.” He said.

This began to be a constant exchange between the two of us.

My passion for cooking really didn’t start until I was living on my own – in a tiny apartment in Long Island, New York. I loved that apartment so much! I grew up a lot living on my own (I highly recommend it to EVERYONE). I moved out in 2015, taking with me the kitchen basics that my mother instilled in me while living under my parents’ roof.

Living on your own comes with a lot of responsibilities; you are not splitting those responsibilities with a roommate(s). The bills, food/grocery shopping, cleaning, etc. it’s all on YOU. Yes it might sound scary but it is very liberating! Those were the best 4 years of my twenties – here’s just a small portion of what I did learn. . . .

  • Builds your confidence – living alone gives you an opportunity to chart your own course.
  • You learn new skills – whether you are managing a fixer-upper, balancing several types of bills/expenses, teaching your self a new hobby, etc.
  • Self-reflection – gives you an opportunity to discover exactly who you are deep down inside and become the person you want to be in your own time and most importantly on your own schedule.
  • Discover what True Freedom really feels like – Want to binge-watch your favorite Real Housewives franchise on a random Tuesday? Do it – No Judgement!! When you live alone, you get to do what you want, when you want and how you want without having to think about what anyone else thinks about it. NO SHAME.

Favorite thing to come out of my twenties was my passion for cooking. Fast forward a few years – some dishes burnt, some dishes savored, some recipes shared; this little space on the World Wide Web has become what it is today – Just a Newlywed in the Kitchen.

Peter and I married August of 2019 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (which is where I am originally from); and then our fur child (a Golden Retriever puppy) came home to us October 2019.

Two became Three rather quickly; with marriage came more responsibilities, a bigger kitchen ( yay! ) and more recipes to explore.

Here’s to the journey that I am sharing with my Husband – Peter, and ‘golden child’ – Bella. One home cooked meal at a time. And now you – the World Wide Web.

Thanks for reading and cooking up these recipes we love!

See you in the Kitchen.

xoxo – Leah