breaking up with vendors

There’s no nice way to say this. But, this isn’t working out. You’re so amazing, but just not what I’m looking for. I hope you understand. 

I feel like that’s what’s going through my mind whenever I choose one wedding vendor over another. Since wedding planning, we’ve met some pretty awesome people. Since I’m doing most of the researching and meeting with vendors, I tend to establish some sort of relationship with them. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s countless e-mails, phone calls, text messages, etc. It was bound to happen, right?

In the last few months, I’ve met with some great folks: videographers, event coordinators, bakers, hair and make-up stylists. Some were an obvious “no thanks!” Others, I kept in a section in my binder for “hmmm, this is promising.” And then there were the no brainers. The worst of these are in the “hmmm, this is promising” category. I didn’t realize I’d hoarded business cards and e-mails from these people so eager to do our wedding. I didn’t realize I’d have to break the news to them one by one that it’s not gonna work out. I had no choice–I had an influx of e-mails from them practically saying “what the hell, lady? what’s your answer?!” Note to selfI should’ve made a separate e-mail address strictly for wedding planning. My personal e-mail can’t take all this pressure.

Unfortunately, this is my task for this weekend. It’s not fun. I don’t look forward to it. I wish I can hire everyone! But it just doesn’t make sense to hire one vendor who will cost us more than half of our wedding total. I’m not in California anymore, for crying out loud. Anyway, off I go to break some bad news to a few folks.

Hope everyone is enjoying the rest of their weekend!

recipe: ratatouille

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 11.01.32 PM

Well, I couldn’t find the solo picture I took of the ratatouille I made a while back, so this should suffice for now. The photo does show a baked chicken alfredo right beside the ratatouille. You can guess that it was a pretty hearty dinner that cold winter night.

This vegetable dish has been a favorite of mine to cook lately, so my fiancé pretty much expects it almost weekly, if not bi-weekly. Occasionally, I’ll add some 1-inch size chicken in the dish if we’re not eating it as a side. I’ve also played with the amount of each vegetable, sauce, and seasoning to my liking.

It doesn’t take too long, so it’s nice to have it as a go-to when I’m really exhausted from work. Hope you guys enjoy as well!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large eggplant, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 green zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
15oz can of tomato sauce — I like Contadina’s extra thick & zesty (or use real tomatoes)
3-4 sprigs of basil, chopped
salt
pepper

HOW TO MAKE
1. Heat a large skillet with the olive oil on medium to high heat. When oil is hot, add the eggplant. Stirring frequently, cook until soft and slightly brown.
2. Lower heat to medium then add onions, garlic, and bell peppers until soft. Continue to stir frequently.
3. Add the green zucchini and yellow squash towards the end. I like for these two to have a little crunch, so if you want the same, don’t cook it for too long.
4. Slowly add the tomato sauce and stir as you do so. I don’t always use the full can, depending on how many vegetables I have on hand.
5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
6. Remove from heat, add chopped basil, and stir.
7. You’re done! Enjoy.

8 months to go!

Where have I been?
Aside from drowning in grad school papers, I’ve stepped up my wedding planning game this month. Because, apparently, our wedding is less than 8 months away. *insert five-second panic attack*

IMG_8650

Surprisingly, I’ve managed to get a bunch of things done.

  • Booked our venue two weeks after our engagement
  • Send out save the dates (half-check: I have another batch to go)
  • Booked a DJ who didn’t cost me an arm, a leg, and my sanity
  • Booked an officiant — this was a big deal. We almost forgot about this critical element
  • Booked our photographer(s) — amazing what family and friends will do for you
  • Schedule several cake tastings in the next few weeks

There are still lots of things to do, obviously. We haven’t completely gone all the way with our caterer and videographer. Why? Who knows. We just really want some cake.

Aside from the wedding planning, grad school, and work, I’ve surprisingly kept up with cooking some new things. The next blog post will be dedicated to my new favorite vegetables recipe: ratatouille.

Stay tuned!

restaurant review: cento

I had one of the best birthday meals to date this year. My sweet fiancé took me to this great new Italian restaurant in downtown and it became an immediate favorite. Check out my Yelp review and photos below.

Yelp Review: 10/14/2014

centomenu

Probably one of my favorite birthday dinner to date. Walking in this place, you can sense it’s a wee bit different than the usual Italian fare around Madison. Dressy? Yes, please.

My fiancé took me here for a birthday dinner after we’ve been driving past it the last couple of months. We thought, why not? So we got dressed and headed here for some Italian.

We started off with the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with spicy sausage and piquillo pepper sauce after reading other Yelpers’ reviews. Small, but tasty! There’s literally like a burst of flavor once you bite into it. I expected it to be really just a bacon flavor, but I was wrong. The sweet and salty was a perfect combination in this little plate. The piquillo pepper sauce would’ve made for some good bread dip also.

They were out of gnocchi tonight (?!?!?!?) and it almost felt like it was meant to be. I LOVE gnocchi and always seem to steer towards that dish at any restaurant, so it forced me to try something else. First world problems over here.

We opted for the smaller versions of two pastas: 1) agnolotti with pumpkin, sage, walnuts and parmigiano reggiano and 2) black tagliatelle with lobster, prawn, mussels, lobster sauce and fresh horseradish. The agnolotti was so soft and the parmigiano reggiano wasn’t as strong as I’ve experienced. I was hoping for more pumpkin because that actually was my favorite part of the dish. Go figure. The black tagliatelle dish (aka squid ink pasta, y’all) was oh-my-gee seafood heaven! My fiancé wasn’t a fan of it because it was too fishy for him, but this Filipino girl felt at home. It was a very rich dish–that lobster sauce was very creamy. Overall, the pasta dishes were no disappointment. It’s definitely worth it to get 2 or 3 of the smaller pasta dishes to be able to try them all out. Or that could just be me.

We also got a pizza (sweet italian sausage, bocconcini, broccoli rapini, tomato sauce, garlic and chili flake)–very thin, not too crunchy, but very good. It wasn’t out of this world, but it was a good introduction to their pizza selections. My fiancé’s main dish was the pollo al mattone with salsa verde, arugula and lemon–the chicken just looked so pretty with the skin roasted into a perfect brown (I felt weird typing that?) and the arugula was a good balance to the simple flavoring of the chicken.

My birthday dessert was the the cherry chocolate truffle cake with gelato–LOVE. The fiancé isn’t a huge dessert person but he really enjoyed this and actually ate more of it than I did. The cherry was a good choice too–I was weary at first but it really made the dish.

Overall, a very satisfying dinner. The service was great (oh! Chanel/Shanell? was our sweet server) and I was greeted happy birthday several times. Felt pretty special! So glad this place exists.

Cento
122 West Mifflin
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 284-9378
centomadison.com

happy tuesday! (i’m back?)

IMG_0516

Whoooo. It’s been February since my last blog post? Shame. I do have a few reasons though, so forgive me. First off, I’m considering making this food blog more interesting–thoughts, words, crafts, bridal babble, etc.

Oh, I mentioned bridal. You heard that right, folks. This cooking fiend (lol) got engaged since she last wrote here. He’s pretty awesome. Can’t complain. So, really, a lot of my life has consisted of freaking out about wedding plans. Sure, we’ve got about 10 months to go–but I get neurotic about not having certain things done now, now, NOW.

As for the home cooking, I’ve been slacking. Seriously. Since my last post, I was hauling ass trying to finish my Bachelor’s program and I may have relied on frozen pizzas and spanakopitas to get me through most of the stress. Now that that’s over with, I’m hoping to turn things around y’all. We’ll see. I start my Master’s program next week. (insert body convulsing).

Anyway, I thought I’d drop by and give an update and let everyone who cares know that I’m still breathing and haven’t burned down my kitchen. Plus, I really wanted to post that Fat Tuesday photo from Las Vegas this summer because I’m having withdrawals. Toodles!

recipe: chicken enchiladas

Chicken EnchiladasI wanted to do Taco Tuesdays but it turned into an enchilada night instead. My boyfriend has been asking me to make more Mexican food, so I guess this is my first tackle. My ultimate goal is to make some chicken mole, so watch for that sometime.

This entire meal ended up filling 2 pans with 4 tortillas each. We’re definitely gonna have some leftovers and I don’t mind!

INGREDIENTS
8 normal sized-tortillas
1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs OR 3 large chicken breasts
2 cans of red enchilada sauce, 10oz each
2 cans of diced green chiles, 4oz each
1 lb can of refried beans
2 cups of 4-cheese Mexican cheese
green onions or cilantro
sour cream
salt and pepper

HOW TO MAKE
1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F
2. Cook your chicken if it’s not already cooked. When done, shred it with your fingers or with forks
3. In a big bowl, combine the chicken, 1/2 can of your enchilada sauce, 2 cans of diced green chiles, 1 lb can of refried beans, 1/2 cup of cheese
4. Add a dash of salt and pepper and mix well
5. Spray your pan with cooking spray or spread a thin amount of oil in the pan
6. Spoon your mixture into the tortilla and roll
7. Line up your tortillas until they fill your pan
8. Pour the rest of your enchilada sauce on top
9. Place in the oven for 25 minutes
10. Add the rest of your cheese and let it cook for an additional 5 minutes
11. Serve with sour cream, green onions or cilantro