Jon Boy and I FINALLY got a date night “in town” after a YEAR of living here in Houston. WHEW! Every single time we’ve scheduled a date night that involved coming in town to a new, trendy restaurant, something terrible would happen. Someone was sick, our dog was dying, someone died in the family, work ran way too late [not that terrible, but still], you get the idea. So we FINALLY DID IT, y’all! We only had one somewhat major mishap… more to come on that later.

We saw this on the drive in, and I had to snap a picture. It’s been tough watching those recovering from Harvey’s impact (and knowing Irma is wreaking havoc at this exact moment). Houston has remained strong, but we’ve got to keep up that momentum if we’re going to come out stronger on the other side.

Ritual Houston

We decided to try Ritual in the Heights area of Houston. It’s a New American restaurant that features delicious steaks + a little Creole flair + some southern comfort foods. The cocktails (and bartender – shout out to Cody) were amazing! We had a couple at the bar and snacked on a yummy appetizer before going to our table.

Ritual Houston

I had the Reconciliation cocktail: Aperol + Elderflower + Gin + Lemon Juice + Sparkling Rose

It was perfectly light, citrusy, and bubbly with just a hint of sweet. YUM! Jon Boy had a traditional Old Fashioned, and it was pretty fantastic, too. Our bartender – shout out again to Cody – made us a couple of drinks based on what we said we liked. They’re not on the menu, but trust me when I say they were spot on!

Ritual Houston

 Boudin Corn Dogs

[our appetizer – sooooo good and not too filling]

Ritual Houston

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but this is the beer board. It’s in the same style as a train station ticker menu. It was so cool to look at!

Ritual Houston

The decor was absolutely awesome in every detail (minus one – I’ll get there in a second). Even the bar had old school southern props like a bartender’s comb holder that now houses olives. It reminds me of an old Speakeasy that also made scrumptious food. I loved the exposed wood + brick combos they had throughout the restaurant, too.

Ritual Houston

Before I get in to the food, I have to tell you about my one AWFUL moment in the restaurant. After we had our cocktails, the hostess sat us at a table for two near the front. I was wearing my white skinny jeans, cute cold shoulder top, and new black strappy heels. I felt sexy and so happy that we finally got to come “out on the town” for date night. Then I sat in the chair. And the chair BROKE. Like straight up – legs flying out everywhere (the chair’s and mine), people gasping and staring, and me falling on my white-jeaned booty onto the black floor. Needless to say, we moved tables and the manager comped us to make up for the mishap. All that said, I’d still go back to eat here any day – so that should tell you how good the food is!

Here’s what we ate:

Gulf Seafood Gravy

Ritual Houston

We shared the 14 oz. ribeye (not pictured, we’d already eaten too much by the time I remembered to snap one) + red beans and rice + creamed corn

Ritual Houston

Oh… and also these cheesy scalloped potatoes. Hey – judge all you want, but it was worth every dang calorie.

Ritual Houston


On Saturday, the weather was so fantastic that we immediately decided over coffee that we had to grill outside for dinner. Jon Boy requested an oldie but a goodie: Citrus Balsamic Marinade

. You can do this with pork tenderloin or chicken. It’s tangy, a little sweet, and a little savory and only needs 5 ingredients.

Citrus Balsamic Marinade


Citrus Balsamic Marinade

1/3 cup lemon juice (juice of 2 really good lemons)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless pork tenderloin

Combine the first five ingredients in small bowl. Place the meat in a large Ziploc bag and pour marinade over top. Marinate at least 4 and up to 24 hours in the fridge. Grill as usual, discarding marinade.


After breakfast, Jon headed to Katy to help a co-worker whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. He called in complete horror as he was driving through the neighborhood. He said it looked like a war zone with all the trash on the streets (washers + dryers, furniture, clothes, kitchen appliances). Folks had to rip out all their flooring, sheet rock, insulation, etc. in order to keep the houses as mold-free as possible. Jon and his company were there to help with the disinfecting and cleaning of as much of the house as they could possibly salvage. It was terrible to hear about and gave us both a very guilty feeling – almost like survivor’s guilt.

While Jon was helping out, Corey and I ventured to Downtown Tomball to go to the Farmer’s Market there. We got a huge bag of organic veggies for just $17! It took less than 10 minutes to shop, so I decided to take Corey and look around our new little area. It was a stark contrast to what Jon was experiencing.

If I weren’t already married, I’d be praying that someone would propose to me in this freaking adorable gazebo.

Downtown Tomball Texas

I saw this Bar + Grill that looks promising: Brautigams Bar-N-Grill.

Downton Tomball Texas

Corey’s name for my mom is Noni (n-oh-nee), so I had to send her a pic of this cute cafe that’s got her name (kind of)!

Downton Tomball Texas

Mr. Cool here made many, many friends on our little stroll.

Corey Douglas

And of course, this CHOO-CHOO TWAAAYYYN was a big hit with the big guy. It looked like they do some kind of activity the 2nd Saturday every month (which would’ve been this Saturday), but I couldn’t figure out what that was. We’ll have to come back and catch it another time!

Downtown Tomball Texas

These. Burgers. Will. Blow. Your. Mind.

spicy poblano burger chipotle cream pickled red onion

First off… I mean how friggin’ cute can a burger get I ask you?

spicy poblano burger chipotle cream pickled red onion

One reason they’re one of my faves is because you can do basically everything minus the grilling ahead of time. The red onions can be made up to a week ahead [and go great with tons of dishes like pulled pork + any kind of Mexican food + sandwiches + eggs]. The chipotle cream can be made the day before or morning of the meal. You can even make the burger patties the morning before you grill.

spicy poblano burger chipotle cream pickled red onion

Another reason they’re one of my faves is because they’re only 222 calories per patty. That’s right, buddy. (I mean def. add the bun if you want it, but… I’ll save those calories for wine, my friend.) You do you.

spicy poblano burger chipotle cream pickled red onion

Here’s a tantalizing picture of my burgers – made ’em during nap time, ah thank you.

spicy poblano burgers pickled red onion

These onions aren’t spicy like you might think. They’re more zippy, cool, and slightly sweet bits of yummy. They go great on so many things, like I said before. I keep them in this cute little dish I got at Target, but as long as yours is glass or plastic and has a lid, you’re golden. The reason I stay away from metal is because storing things in metal can sometimes cause a funky reaction. It’s science… don’t ask me why.

spicy poblano burgers pickled red onion

Rice vinegar is an essential if you like to cook a lot – especially “healthy” recipes. They add a ton of zip to all kinds of food, but especially to the red onions.

spicy poblano burgers pickled red onion

The chipotle cream [besides juuuussst being delicious] is also not so bad for you. It’s basically just doctored up sour cream. Feel free to use the light or fat-free stuff, but I used the whole fat goodness. If you divide this up into 5 servings [those are good-sized dollups], then each serving is only 30 calories. 30 calories of delicious, creamy, tangy heaven that is.

spicy poblano burgers pickled red onion

This isn’t the greatest piece of photography ever, but I wanted to show you this because it’s the reason the burgers are still light. Because we used 90/10 beef, I needed to add back some moisture [btw – you can def use 80/20 and skip the bread+milk – still yummy]. Adding the bread and milk just helps the burgers to hold some of their juicy characteristics.

spicy poblano burgers pickled red onion

Roasting poblanos be like…

spicy poblano burgers pickled red onion

Just cover the roasted chiles with some plastic wrap for 15-20. Then peel the skin off, get rid of the top + seeds, rinse, and dry on paper towel. I did mine a couple of hours before even chopping them and adding them to the burger mixture. Make it ahead, yo.

spicy poblano burgers pickled red onion

spicy poblano burger with chipotle cream and pickled red onions


Spicy Poblano Burgers + Pickled Red Onions + Chipotle Cream

For the Burgers
2 poblano chiles
1 tbs. milk
1 slice white or wheat bread, crusts removed, and torn into ½-inch pieces
2 tbs. cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. 90/10 ground sirloin
Cooking spray

For the Pickled Red Onions
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 jalapeño pepper, halved lengthwise
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

For the Chipotle Cream
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbs. cilantro, chopped
1 tbs. shallots, minced
1 tsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (7-oz.) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

To Make the Pickled Red Onions
Combine the sugar, rice vinegar, water, and jalapeño in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add onion to pan, cover, and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature then store in a glass or plastic airtight container for up to 1 month.

To Make the Chipotle Cream
Combine the sour cream, cilantro, shallots, lime juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Remove 1 chipotle pepper from the can and finely chop. Add to sour cream mixture. Add 2 tsp. adobo sauce from can to mixture; stir to combine. Reserve the remaining chipotles + sauce in a glass dish in the refrigerator for another use. Refrigerate chipotle cream until ready to use.

To Make the Burgers
Preheat broiler. Place poblano chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet, and broil for 10 minutes or until blackened, turning after 7 minutes. Place chiles in glass or plastic bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit 15 minutes. Peel chiles, and discard the seeds and membranes. Rinse with cool water and lay on paper towel to dry. Finely chop. (This step can be done hours ahead of making the burgers. Just leave to dry on paper towel until ready to assemble burgers.)

Meanwhile, mash milk and bread together in a large bowl using a fork until smooth. Add chopped chiles, 1 1/2 tbs. cilantro, cumin, coriander, paprika, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir to combine. Add the beef and mash together with your hands. Shape the mixture into 4 equal patties. Press your thumb into the middle of each patty, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or until ready to grill. Remove from fridge and let rest 10 minutes before grilling (while the grill or pan preheats).

To grill outside, grill as usual over medium heat until desired level of doneness is achieved.

To grill inside, preheat oven to 375. Spray your oven-proof grill pan with cooking spray (we use the Grilling Pam). Heat the pan over medium-high heat until sizzling hot. Grill the burgers for 2 minutes on each side, then transfer to the oven for 8-10 minutes, until desired level of doneness is achieved. Cover with foil and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Who doesn’t love a loaded baked potato? Ohhmyygeeerrddd. When I was pregnant, I devoured potatoes. I found this recipe around]]>

loaded baked potato casserole

One of the BEST things I love about recipes like this one is when you can make it AHEAD OF TIME. You do the dirty work, throw it in the fridge [even do the dishes so it looks like you’ve got your act together], and then when it’s time to eat – POP THAT *ISH IN THE OVEN. Bam.

loaded baked potato casserole

Crowd pleaser + make ahead = winning.

loaded baked potato casserole

I leave the skins on [because I’m lazy], and I cut them into chunks like these. It’s just 2 cuts per potato to make them into quarters, but feel free to cut them as you see fit. I kind of like the non-mushy texture they have when they cook in the casserole.

loaded baked potato casserole

This little ditty may seem like the WORST thing you could eat during swimsuit season, but you’re gonna be okay. If you make this recipe into 6 servings, each serving is only about 350 calories (18g fat; 13g protein). It’s not exactly a kale salad, but I’m willing to trade every now and then.

loaded baked potato casserole Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

2 lb. red potatoes, cubed ¼ cup bacon bits (plus more for garnish) 3 green onions, chopped (plus more for garnish) 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (plus more for garnish) 8 oz. sour cream 1/2 cup mayonnaise Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper Cooking spray

Place the potatoes in cold, heavily salted water. Bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender (about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine the bacon bits, green onions, cheddar cheese, sour cream, mayo, a pinch of Kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper.

Drain potatoes and add to mayo mixture while still warm (but not hot). Stir to combine.

Spray an oven-proof dish with cooking spray. Pour mixture into prepared dish, garnish with bacon bits and cheddar cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove dish + plastic wrap while oven preheats. Bake for 15-20 minutes (until cheese melts). Garnish with more green onions.

We had such a great weekend at home with family and friends. I’m sure like you, it’s a rare thing for us to have a weekend with ZERO plans. It was nothing short of amazing.
Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
Jon had to work late Friday, so we ate leftovers and were passed out by 11:00 [which, sadly, is late for us]. On Saturday, we all got up, ate breakfast, adults had coffee, little man had milk, and we were lazy until about mid morning.
scenes from the weekend
Then we decided to venture out to our local farmer’s market where we bought a TON of organic veggies for less than $20! They also had great meats, jellies, decorations, etc. I can’t wait to go back! Near the farmer’s market was an adorable [dangerous] boutique that I can’t wait to go to again. If you live in the Tomball/Cypress/Spring area, I’d highly recommend Vickie B’s on Main. I got the most adorable cover-up and a great top – bonus the top was on sale so I got it for $12! I’ll post pics later.
vickie b's on main
I had to share these memes. I’ve been feeling lots of #momlife vibes lately.
parenthood
But really. This is perfect. And it applies to daddies, too.
parenthood
Gotta love the $4 bunches at HEB. Nothing makes me happier than seeing fresh cut flowers on the table. The cheaper ones usually last longest, too.
Scenes from the Weekend
We scored a majorly adorable hat at Target the other day. Best thing is that C will actually leave it on his head for longer than two seconds!
Scenes from the Weekend
We also scored some awesome Crocs that match his daddy’s from Academy the other day.
Scenes from the Weekend
I’m not sure there’s ever been anything cuter than this chubby man wearing those stinkin’ crocs toddling around the house in his diaper. He’s constantly asking for his new “sshhhoooossss”.

Scenes from the Weekend

On Friday during Corey’s nap time, I managed to do some much needed gardening. I actually planted our first flower bed in the new casa! Here’s the before and after:
Scenes from the Weekend
Hopefully these little lovelies will last despite my very non-green thumb.
Scenes from the Weekend
I have a new wine rec for the summer. This delicious little number is very light, has slightly fruity hints, and goes down super smooth. I love me some chardonnay, but in the summer, I really like the rosé-type lighter wines. This gem was only about $12, too!

wine recs

Saturday night it was all about food, family, and fun. We had some delicious grilled sausage from Chappell Hill [best ever] along with sautéed veggies from the farmer’s market and these yummified grilled jalapeños. I have to say that they are on of the things I look forward to most in the summer. They’re wayyyyy better than the premade ones you buy at the store. They don’t take much effort either.
Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
Beware of the spicy jalapeño fingers. They burn. Make sure you wash your hands before, during, and after with antibacterial soap. That seems to take a lot of heat away. Also make sure you remove the membranes and seeds from the jalapeños because that’s where the really spicy heat is. Or leave them in if you’re that much of a rebel. You do you.
Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
This is one of the few recipes that I’ve never really measured anything. I go by looks and tastes. I love a lot of bacon bits, cilantro, and green onion. By all means add or subtract anything you love or hate from this recipe. Definitely make sure your cream cheese is at room temp though before you start mixing. Otherwise, you’ll end up with huge goops of cream cheese with no other lovely flavors. Sad.
Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños

 


Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
Cream cheese, room temperature*
Shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
Cilantro leaves, chopped
Green onions, chopped
Bacon bits
Splash lime juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Jalapeños, tops, seeds, and membranes removed, cut in half lengthwise

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients minus the jalapeños using a fork. Mash everything together until it’s a pretty homogenous mixture. Stuff each jalapeño half. Grill over medium heat on a bed of foil for about ten minutes or until the jalapeños are tender but still have crunch.

Garnish with cilantro.

*I use about 1 oz. cream cheese for each whole jalapeño. The rest is really to taste. I don’t add anymore salt though because the bacon bits have plenty in them.

It’s getting closer and closer (or if you’re in south Texas, you’re already there) to grilling season! Toot toot! We actually got to grill out on a Friday night a little while ago which means a good cocktail, great music, and some delic]]>
marinated white beans
I originally found this recipe in Bon Appétit magazine and loved the idea. You just “marinate” the beans in the sauce and serve them cold, at room temperature, or you can cook them a little like I did to get some great texture in them.
marinated white beans
Heating them up gives you this yummy char you see below.
marinated white beans
I also roasted a couple of zucchini and yellow squash (EVOO, salt, and pepper at 400 for about 20; throw the Parm on top and go another 4). Our whole meal was about 550 calories but it sure didn’t taste like it!
marinated white beans
I love roasting veggies – it’s simple, healthy, quick, and easy clean up. I’ll roast all year long, and I don’t care who knows it.
marinated white beans
These beans make 4 good-sized servings and comes in at around 140 calories per serving. Just enough to make you feel okay about that extra glass of wine. You’re welcome.

Marinated White Beans
1 shallot, finely diced
3 tbs. white wine vinegar
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cans white beans (white cannellini, chickpeas, navy beans, or butter beans), rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
EVOO
Combine the shallot and vinegar in a large glass bowl. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes while you chop the herbs and rinse the beans. Add the parsley, cilantro, beans, and red pepper to the marinated shallot and vinegar mixture. Season to taste with salt. Allow to rest at room temperature or in the fridge for about an hour.
You can either serve these at room temperature or, you can cook them a little to warm them up.
In a large nonstick skillet or pot, heat the bean mixture over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until heated through. Using the back of a heavy spoon, smash about 1/4 of the beans to release their starch, stirring occasionally. Cook another 5 minutes until you get a little brown on the bottom of the beans. Drizzle a little olive oil over the beans and garnish with more cilantro and parsley.
Beans can be made and refrigerated 3 days ahead.