Garden, week 8

Garden, week 8

garden, week 8

I feel like the plants have finally gotten used to their new homes outside. Even though we had some cold days this week, they did really well and are really starting to perk up. The lettuce in the top left corner are thriving. And the broccoli in the blue pot is finally perking up.

garden, week 8

In the cream- and olive-colored planters in the right corner, you can see that the spinach is just starting to germinate, and the cauliflower in the small, olive container is doing well too.

garden, week 8

The chives in the yellow container are still looking a little sad, but I think they’ll eventually perk up.

The parsley, strawberries and peas still haven’t germinated, and I’m nervous that they might not at all, but it’s a waiting game, for now.

Survey says …

Survey says …

survey results graphic

Chicken breasts with lemon-butter sauce

Chicken breasts with lemon-butter sauce

letter butter chicken

There’s this specialty espresso shot at Starbucks that I really want to try, but haven’t felt bold enough to order it.

It’s sometimes called an Undertow, but I think the general Internet consensus is to not call “secret” Starbucks drinks by their made-up names and just order the drink the way you want. It’s a layered drink with vanilla syrup, milk and espresso. You take it all at once and taste the hot, bitter espresso first, then the creamy, cool milk, followed by the sweet syrup.

Sometimes you just want flavor to hit you in the face.

This dish has no vanilla syrup or creamy milk or bitter espresso, but it does hit you in the face.

Sometimes you just want to take a bite of chicken and taste every single ingredient you put into it in a perfect harmony of, well, POW.

There’s not so many ingredients here — some lemon, some lemon pepper, some butter and some breaded chicken. But it’s enough.

(Today is the last day to take the readers’ survey so if you haven’t yet, would you please? I have had 39 responses, and wouldn’t it be nice to get to a nice round 50?)

I started by pounding my chicken thin (doing this is really essential, and it really makes pan-frying a breeze). Then I breaded the chicken with a little flour, mixed with some salt and lemon pepper. [Read more...]

Slow cooker creamy salsa chicken

Slow cooker creamy salsa chicken

creamy salsa chicken

This slow cooker creamy salsa chicken is so easy that I seriously questioned whether it was worth posting.  But we all like easy dishes, I think. Especially delicious, easy dishes. Especially delicious, easy, largely hands-off dishes.

One of the things I love about cooking in the slow cooker is that the meat largely comes out perfectly tender. I can’t say the same for when I bake or pan-fry chicken.

To make this dish, [Read more...]

Back to basics: potatoes–types, baked, mashed, roasted

Back to basics: potatoes–types, baked, mashed, roasted

potatoes back to basics

Just a few of the many, many varieties of potatoes.

There are more than 4,000 types of potatoes in this world. Don’t worry, I’m not going to list them all. No matter what kind of type you use, you really only need to know one thing about your potato. Is it waxy, starchy or somewhere in between?

The potato you use depends largely on what you’re making. Here are the basics: [Read more...]



cake esta esta

Double fudge chocolate cake at Marie’s Esta Esta on the William Penn Highway in Monroeville, Pa.

Gastronomy is “the art and science of good eating” or the marriage of fine cuisine and culture.



Pennsylvania Dutch schnitz pie

Pennsylvania Dutch schnitz pie

schnitz pie

This looks like an ordinary apple pie, but this pie has a secret: it’s made with schnitz.

What is schnitz?

(It would be easier to tell you my secrets if you would fill out the readers’ survey.)

Schnitz is (are?) dried apples, and the word comes from the German “schnitzen,” which means, to carve.

During apple season, the Pennsylvania Dutch sliced and dried harvested apples to preserve them. Then they used those apples to create savory dishes, such as schnitz un knepp, and sweet dishes such as this schnitz pie. (Sidebar: I made schnitz un knepp last weekend, and it was not my favorite thing ever.)

This was the second dessert I made for wine night and let me tell you dried apples have an expected concentration of flavor. My friend Renatta said the pie sort of tasted like a Christmas candle because it has major apple/orange/cinnamon flavor going on. Not inedible, but a little overpowering. Over the next few days, the flavor really mellowed out, so this is definitely a make-days-before kind of pie, which, let’s be real, are the best kind.

I started by reconstituting dried apples. That is a fancy word for [Read more...]

Oven Lovin’s debut on Facebook

Oven Lovin’s debut on Facebook

Oven Lovin Facebook

A very quick post just to announce that Oven Lovin’ officially, for the first time ever, has a Facebook page.

(And also that the readers’ survey is still open and accepting your feedback.)



library books on food photography

Library books on food photography.

This week I am currently:

Working on: God, I’m still talking about the quilt. F that quilt. Next week, I have on the blog schedule a slow cooker chicken dish that was incredible and is sort of a modification of this other slow cooker salsa chicken. I also have a lemon butter chicken recipe that I haven’t made yet, so hopefully that doesn’t turn out terrible, and some apple crumb squares which sound amazing. I have a solid idea for A.J.’s mom’s mother’s day gift, but I’m still thinking of ideas for my own mother — do you guys have any ideas?! Mom, what do you want for Mother’s Day?

Thinking about: This week, I’ve been focused on analyzing Oven Lovin’s reader survey results. And by analyzing, I mean checking it every few hours like a crazy person. I think I’m going to keep promoting the survey until next Tuesday, and then I’ll post a neat-o graphic showing everything on Wednesday. I have three favorite things about the survey so far. One, two people have said that I use too many exclamation points, which is wonderful news. I actually go back through my posts, once they’re written, and add in exclamation points, because I feel like I don’t sound excited enough. So I’m going to stop doing that. It’s nice to know that my excitement can come through  without me having to fabricate it through excessive punctuation. Two, the majority of things people don’t want to see any more is wedding stuff. Also, good news, because I’m sick of writing about it. I kept thinking I had to post about every aspect of the DIY stuff we did for the wedding, but as it turns out, I can totally stop. Three, I have learned that I should listen to myself more. Adding in exclamation points? Totally unnecessary. Writing about things I’m sick of writing about? Totally unnecessary. Man, this survey has been totally wonderful.

Anticipating: I am really looking forward to a weekend with no plans. And by no plans, I mean I can stay in my pajamas for two days and cook, bake, craft, garden, document and blog. Is “blog” a verb? I use it as a verb, but it’s 5: 21 a.m. and now I’m questioning myself. And while we’re on the subject of grammar, can we talk about the apostrophe in Oven Lovin’? The apostrophe obviously indicates there’s no “g” at the end of “Lovin,” but what happens when I make Oven Lovin’ possessive? Is it “Oven Lovin’s,” or should I be doing that differently?

Listening to: Podcasts. It started with this podcast with an interview of Pinch of Yum‘s creators, and now I’ve been bingeing on Joy the Baker podcasts while I’m at work.

Watching: My friends had a very convincing  text message conversation about watching The Americans, so maybe we’ll start that this weekend. I also woke up this morning to a fascinating text message about Scandal, so I’m excited to watch yesterday’s episode soonish. I thought last week’s episode of Scandal was a nice return to the Scandals of season one, but it sounds like the hiatus from insane-crazy didn’t continue in this week’s episode.

Thankful for: This week, I’m thankful for heating pads and Ibuprofen. I’m thankful that A.J. is invested in our garden as I am, and we’re brainstorming creative solutions to get those plants some sunlight. I’m thankful for the 31 people who have been willing to take some time and answer some questions about my little blog, and for those of you that filled out the survey early on, I’m thankful that you have put up with what feels like an insane amount of continued promotion for it. I’m also thankful that my body seems used to a 4 a.m. wakeup time. For the last three days, I have naturally woken up at 4 a.m. before my alarms go off, and I have actually felt so well-rested  that I panicked, thinking it was later. Now, just to work on actually getting out of bed at that time.

Reading: I finally have an Allegheny County library card, and I requested/checked out some books. I still haven’t finished Julia Child’s book (affiliate link), but I started reading Focus on Food Photography for Bloggers (affiliate link), and I’ve already learned some things. One, shoot in RAW not JPG. I never knew this, and I can’t wait to try it.

Planning for:  Brunch invitations have officially been mailed, so there’s no going back at this point. I also have to get my life together and plan some May blog posts and Kids’ Craft Day for the end of this month? I should probs talk to A.J. about that.

(Affiliate links are links to products that I have bought on my own and stand behind, but if purchased through my link, I receive a tiny kickback for bringing it to your attention.)

Project Life: August (2013) edition

Project Life: August (2013) edition

1project life august 2013 double

Our August 2013 layout for Project Life centered around one event we attended: the joint, family birthday party for the kids. I was going through my supplies and found the card on the left page with the ice cream cone and the cake, and I sort of built the layout around those, since the kids had an ice cream cake and I thought that was so appropriate!

I used a lot of pink because pink is such a fun birthday party color, I think.

(Could you tickle me PINK by filling out the Oven Lovin’ reader survey?!?)

2project life august 2013 left

In the top left I used a calendar card to specify what month we’re in, on top of a 4×6 card. Then I sandwiched a picture of the cake with the candles lit between the ice cream and cake cards. As you all know, it’s my favorite to split photos between two frames.

I used a photo of the party scene at the top and a description of what we did while we were there in the bottom right corner. On the far right, I lined the pages with washi tape.

3project life august 2013 right

On the right page I included pictures of the kids opening their gifts and some pictures that Olivia took of A.J. and me. I also included these little paint swatch number cards that came in one of my kits to show the date of the party, August 17. I added some confetti in one of the pockets. I like the idea of confetti, but I’m not sure how much I like it in practice.

Tools I used (affiliate links!!!):

Previous Project Life layouts:

(Note: I bought the products featured in this post on my own. I did not receive any compensation from anyone for this post. But if you chose to buy the product linked above, I’ll receive a tiny kickback for bringing it to your attention.)