I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sometimes you just need a big bowl of pasta. This recipe uses one of my favorite pastas, tortellini, and crispy little bites of pancetta balanced with fresh spring veggies — english peas and sautéed leeks. Pasta is one of the meals I love to fall back on for busy weeknight dinners because you do so much with it in a short period of time! A few shortcuts I use are cooking the peas in the same water as the pasta (just add them in during the last few minutes of cooking time) and buying the pre-diced pancetta package at Trader Joe’s for perfectly cut cubes that crisp up fast in the pan. I even used some leftover chicken cutlets to top this dish to add in some protein; you could prep the chicken in advance to cut down on time. Get the full recipe below: read more

The start of this week was a little slow — rainy days and our whole family battling colds.  I was so excited to wake up this morning to see the sun shining and everyone feeling a little better. Nothing puts a spring in my step like actual springtime (and jumping in confetti, like we did at The Happy Place in Boston last week!). Sharing lots of spring-y finds, Easter ideas, fresh seasonal recipes and more in The Download this week, read on and enjoy the sunshine!
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If you’re read this blog, or skimmed my cookbook, you know that I’m a big, big fan of streamlining prep work and building efficient menus when it comes to entertaining. My goal is always to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my family, while still sharing a really tasty meal when we’re together for celebrations. This easy Easter menu has a few little tricks in it to get dinner on the table in record time! read more

I love asparagus because it cooks quickly, looks beautiful on the table, and is extra fresh and tasty in the spring! We eat it a ton for our weeknight dinner veggie, just roasted quickly with some salt, pepper and olive oil. For a special occasion though (like Easter!) I like the idea of dressing it up with a bright, crisp sauce. The idea for this sauce actually came from a salmon recipe I shared last summer, I updated it just a bit and it paired perfectly when drizzled over the top of the asparagus. The Dijon flavor also paired well with the ham I served it with, and brings out the tiny hint of Dijon I sneak into my mac and cheese sauce. All of the dishes work together seamlessly, which is what you want on a heaping Easter dinner plate! Scroll down for the full recipe: read more

I’m so very lucky to have a flexible work schedule that allows me to have little weekday adventures with Jane. Her energy is boundless these days and I’ve been trying to think of some new things to do with her that mix up our routine. The spring weather has been so nice the past few days we decided to head downtown and spend our sunny Monday morning exploring Boston.  We walked through Faneuil Hall (she picked up a subway map and carried it with her all day!), met some friends and visited the penguins at the aquarium, and culminated our adventure with one of the magical spots in Boston: the Greenway Carousel! read more

We have been dealing with some picky-toddler eating the past few weeks. Jane has a one-track mind, all she wants to eat are “snacks” — aka popcorn, pretzels and crackers. I’ve been brainstorming ways to get some other foods in the mix, but who can really blame her? Snacks are the best. With Easter coming up, I got the idea to go-big on her snack request and build a themed bento-box with tons of tiny little bites for her to choose from. I had these cute vintage-inspired egg cartons leftover from some projects I did last year, and tucked in some plastic easter eggs to hold various treats. I started with her crunchy staples (she could live on popcorn!) but also added in some carrots and berries and mini-sandwiches and cheese slices cut into shapes with star cookie cutters. I even put a few bunny and carrot cupcake toppers in to make it extra festive. read more

One of my favorite parties I’ve ever thrown was a small New Year’s Eve Dinner Party. Every year we host a big New Year’s Eve party, but this particular year I was SUPER pregnant with Jane (like, exactly a week from my due date). I was determined to still throw the party, and my smart husband suggested we scale back the guest list to just a few close friends since I might be sort of tired at 39 weeks pregnant. After a bit of debate I finally agreed to the dinner party but was still planning to cook a fancy meal to celebrate the occasion. A few days before the party I was beyond exhausted and realized I had probably overestimated my capabilities – we made the call to order a bunch of trays of food for the party and have our friends pick it up on their drive over. We dressed up the take-out on pretty serving trays and set the table with festive details  — and guess what? It was one of my most memorable New Year’s Eve parties we’d ever thrown. read more

I was really excited to get to dye Easter eggs with Jane and had one of the kits in my hand at the grocery store last week. I paused for a second though and had a vision in my head of the dye splashing everywhere and hard boiled eggs getting broken and smashed by her not-so-gentle toddler hands. I quickly returned the kit to the shelves and my excitement dissipated.  But flash forward to earlier this week and I found some white craft eggs at Target and my crafting enthusiasm resurfaced! These are the exact eggs I found in-stores, and there are similar sets on Amazon with white eggs or natural eggs (there’s even a cute egg painting craft kit!). I ducked into the craft aisle at Target and grabbed some sponge brushes and the prettiest brightly colored acrylic paints and we were ready to go. read more

A few months back I took a poll about new content you guys wanted to see here, and I got a big response to one of my ideas: Trader Joe’s hacks. I shared my first one (sheet pan cauliflower gnocchi!) and was amazed by the response — holy moly did people love it! It was one of my most shared posts ever (in 10 years of blogging!), so I’m back today with another recipe that makes use of some tasty Trader Joe’s ingredients for a quick-fix dinner. read more