Monday, September 30, 2013

man cooking night.

blakey planned, prepared, & grilled dinner for us!  it's the beginning of his journey into monthly cooking, about which i am super excited.  he found two delicious recipes on, made a grocery list, & did {almost} all of the cooking.  pretty darn proud of you, byrds.  & super impressed that it was delicious!

{a bottle of our favorite lambrusco to accompany the grilling}

{so happy in front of a grill}

{a little dancing with a beautiful sunset too}

{our delicious meal, which we ate by candlelight at blake's beautiful table}

grilled mustard & vinegar chicken
recipe from: allrecipes

1/4 c apple cider vinegar
3 T coarse-ground mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c evoo
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1.  in a bowl, mix together vinegar, mustard, garlic, juices, sugar, salt, & pepper.  whisk in olive oil.  place chicken in a ziploc bag.  pour mixture on top.  allow to marinate in the fridge at least 4 hours.

2.  do the manly grill thing, which i'm not exactly sure about.  something about medium high heat, 5 to 8 minutes per side until fully cooked.  enjoy!

grilled garlic parmesan zucchini
recipe from: allrecipes

4 zucchini
4 T butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

1.  cut the zuccini into 4 to 6 lengthwise strips, from tip to tip.  this should make long, thin, rectangular strips that allow plenty of surface area for the delicious toppings & grill marks.

2.  in a small bowl, mix butter, garlic, & half of the parsley.  spread this mixture onto one side of each zucchini slice.

3.  do the manly grill thing.  medium high heat.  non-butter/garlic/parsley side down.  cook until the grill marks are lovely, the zucchini is hot, & it looks pretty much delicious, about 8 to 10 minutes.  

4.  after grilling, sprinkle the parmesan & the remaining parsley on top.  broil on high to melt & crisp up the cheese, only a couple of minutes.  {you can do this on the grill.  we thought it would make a huge mess, & we don't want to mess up our kind neighbor's grill.  so oven was best for us.}  enjoy!!

happy man cooking night.

love love,

Friday, September 27, 2013

happy fall, y'all.

the first week of fall has brought lots of delicious flavors to my baking kitchen.  i am going all out with the cinnamon & ginger & apples.  yummm.  it makes me so happy.

 {out with the beautiful summer peach cupcakes...}

 {in with my all-time favorite pumpkin spice cupcake with spiced maple cream cheese frosting!}

{orange bars with a ginger bread crust}

 {espresso chocolate chip cookies}

{pear cream cheese crisp}

happy friday, friends.

love love,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

oklahoma - great food. cute kid.

y'all.  we had so much fun in oklahoma.  it was, as always, so wonderful to be home, to be with our families, & to spend time with each other.  & to be quite honest, this post is really just to brag that:

a.) oklahoma actually has great food &
b.) my nephew is pretty much the cutest little man ever.

for brunch in norman, syrup is the place to be.  this super hip little breakfast boutique is cozy & delicious.  oh, & their coffee is divine.  stumptown coffee out of portland oregon & baristas that know their stuff.  well done, norman, well done.

pub w is a fantastic american pub with delicious fresh baked pretzels, awesome burgers, & an impressive beer menu.  i certainly see this place many more times in our future.  "he was a wise man who invented beer".  i agree, plato.

& for dinner, the porters all went to the mule in oklahoma city.  a super fun gourmet sandwich & beer joint in the plaza district.  if we lived in okc, we would definitely frequent the mule.

oh!  & did i mention how stinkin cute my newphew is?!  allow me to show you:

{yummmmm.  birthday cake.}

{he's so good at sharing}

{father & son cheering on those sooners}

{i love you, little man!}

{& back to sweet home alabama}

love love,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

my mom + the mountains.

a couple weeks ago, i met up with my sister & little man & headed to the mountains to see our mom!  mom & ray retired & moved into their dream mountain home in angel fire a year ago.  they absolutely love the cool mornings, the beautiful mountains, the tall trees, & the ever frequent wild animal sightings.

our first new mexico meal was at a fantastic mexican restaurant in santa fe.  we enjoyed a delicious mexican beer, spicy salsa, & fresh guacamole made tableside.  real mexican food with a gorgeous view.   so good.  little man totally agreed.

each morning we woke up to find deer in my mom's front yard!  they even let us come out onto the porch before running back into the woods. so neat.  

each afternoon we would find little hummingbirds buzzing around the hummingbird feeders on the porch.  have you ever actually seen a hummingbird?  they fly around so quickly & make so much sound while flying.  those little wings flap so quickly that it sounds like they are buzzing around.  pretty cool.

the views around the neighborhood are simply stunning.  malcolm & dakota {my mom & ray's sweet boxer} loved going on walks with us to enjoy the beautiful views & the fresh air.

{hello mountains!}

after spending a lot of our time outside, we went inside to play play play with little man!  oh my goodness, i had missed my nephew.  he really is the best.

{bath time fun with mom & grandma!}

{doin' a little swing dancin'}

{dakota was happy to help with every meal}

{he loves me!  he loves me not...}

{little man with grandma & poppa ray}

a lovely weekend with the lovely family.

love love,

Monday, September 23, 2013

1st chili of the year on the equinox.

in honor of the first day of fall, i made my first batch of chili for the year!  two years ago, i made my first ever batch of chili.  it was a pretty decent first attempt, but i'm still on a search for "our" chili recipe.  this, my friends, is really on its way!  the beef chunks, roasted poblanos, spicy adobo sauce, & hints of cinnamon & clove really make it a little bit special.  & the late addition of shredded cheese certainly doesn't hurt.  enjoy!

porter's chili
{a combination of many recipes & ingredient availability}

2 T evoo
1 T minced garlic
2 large sweet yellow onions, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 lb ground chuck
2 lb beef round chunks
6 large poblanos, roasted*, peeled, & chopped
from 1 {7.5oz} can chipotle peppers in adobo, 3 peppers chopped & half of the juice
8 oz diced green chilis
28 oz diced tomatoes, with juice
12 oz tomato paste
30 oz red beans, drained
15 oz pinto beans, drained
16 to 32 oz beef broth {depending on your desired liquid to stuff ratio}
3 T cumin
2T chili powder
2 T brown sugar
1T oregano
1 tsp mustard powder
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove
at the end: 8 oz shredded mexican blend cheese
toppings: yellow mustard & shredded cheddar cheese

{*to roast poblanos: broil directly on oven rack over high heat, turning frequently until all sides are blistered, approx 10 to 20 minutes.  carefully put peppers in a brown paper bag & roll up the top of the bag.  set aside until peppers are cool to the touch.  with your hands, peel the blistered skin off & discard.  remove stems & seeds & chop.}

1. in a very large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  add garlic, onions, bell peppers, & beef.  cook until veggies are soft & meat is fully cooked.

2. add roasted poblanos, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, green chilis, tomatoes, tomato paste, & beans.  stir together.  start adding broth to your desired consistency, keeping in mind the liquid will reduce a bit.  add spices.  

3. bring chili to a boil & reduce heat to medium-low, allowing the chili to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes to allow the liquid to reduce a bit.  {warning: this can make a mess.  i encourage you to wear an apron or black.}

4. on low heat, continue cooking your chili, covered, for another couple of hours.  this is a great time to taste & make sure you you love the flavors.  

5. 10 minutes before serving, add 8 oz shredded cheese.  stir often, allowing the cheese to melt but not burn on the bottom of your pan.  to serve, top with shredded cheddar & a little bit of mustard, porter-style.

happy fall!

love love,

Friday, September 20, 2013

happy 1st birthday, #littlemalcolmv & happy 30th, benny boo boo boo boo boo!

malcolm turned 1 this week!  & benny boo turns 30 in a few days!  so we threw a party.  a fantastic party, of course.  there was birthday cake & balloons & our family & a beautiful evening in oklahoma.  what more could you ask for?

{little man loved his navy & chartreuse themed party}

{a happy day for the vandaveers}

little man sent me the sweetest card a few months ago, asking if i would bake his first birthday cake.  i was so honored!  his mom & i decided upon a homemade nutella cake with a nutella & banana center layer & vanilla frosting & lots & lots of sprinkles.  yummm.  little man loves bananas.  & we discovered he loves cake too!

{navy & chartreuse sprinkles, of course}

malcolm is a very healthy eater, loving foods like bananas & avocados & beans.  so this was his first cake experience.  he wasn't sure at first, but he learns he loves aunt kenlie's cake.


he was super sweet to share his cake with mom & dad.  no smashing, really.  just sharing.

{mom, dad, try this!}

{i think he liked it}

after cake, our evening was filled with wonderful friends, a cookout, a game of ladder ball, an intense game of 3-on-3 soccer, & a good game of getting thrown in the pool.  a lovely birthday party indeed.

{so happy caric joined in the fun!!}

happy 30th birthday, benny boo!!  & happy birthday, little man.  love you both.

love love,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

boom soon & rah rah.

over the weekend, blakey & i went to our first ou game this season!  it was fantastic to be on campus on game day, see all of the crimson & cream for oklahoma instead of alabama, enjoy the beautiful fall weather, & cheer for a sooner win!  oh, oklahoma, we love you.

 {boomer sooner & rah rah for kkg}

 {the porter boys enjoying some tailgating}

julie, malcolm, & i got to sit with my dad & ruth in THE best seats in the stadium.  blakey was excited to sit with his dad & brothers in their seats, which he also claims to be the best seats in the stadium.  he's wrong.  but we can let him be wrong about this one, as long as i get to sit in our seats.


{my dad - my longtime football cheering partner}

this was malcolm's 1st ou football home game!  his 1st ou game was last year at west virigina.  he's a football game pro now.  with many many games to go.

 {fast asleep while we cheered on the sooners}

boomer sooner, y'all!

love love,