Give it a Go: Get Color Crazy with Red, White, & Blue Outdoor Essentials

Whether you are heading out for a fireworks display or staying home, one of the best parts of 4th of July celebrations is enjoying the summer sunshine with friends and family.  I’ve gathered up some red, white, & blue picks, sure to make your celebration a hit.

Celebrate America with Red, White, & Blue Picnic Musthaves

Items: 1) Flag Football Game Set, Crate & Barrel 2) Red Beach Umbrella, Crate & Barrel 3) Stripe Pillow, Pottery Barn 4) Blue Steel Cooler, Crate & Barrel 5) Knit Blanket, Pier 1 6) Bocce Ball Set, Crate & Barrel 7) Horseshoes, Target 8) Blue Rope Pillow, Pottery Barn 9) Cornhole & Tick, Tac, Toe Game, Target


Crazy Easy – Pasta All’Amaticiana

This sauce takes a little bit of time, but it’s so simple that I’ve even thrown it together on a weeknight after work for dinner.  The sauce is just 5 ingredients (not including salt) and tastes absolutely divine.  It’s become my favorite red sauce.

Round up olive oil, 8 ounces guanciale*, (2) onions, red pepper flakes, salt, (2) 28 ounce cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes.  You’ll also need 1lb. of whatever pasta you want to serve with the sauce and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish.
*Note: Pancetta may be substituted if guanciale is unavailable.
Chop the guanciale into bit size pieces, about 1″ x 1/4″, coat a large saucepan with olive oil set on low heat, and toss in the guanciale.  While this cooks dice your onions.  Cook until fat has rendered and the strips get crispy.  Pull out around 1/3 of the strips to use and garish.  Next bring pan to medium heat and toss onions and 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes into the oil with the remaining guanciale.

Onions and guanciale

Cook until the onions are golden and tender, just like the photo below.  Your kitchen should be smelling amazing.

Dump the tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Keep sauce at a simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring and tasting periodically, add salt as needed.


When your sauce is getting towards the end of it’s cook time, cook your pasta to al dente and drain. Now you can go two ways here, dump all the pasta in to all of the sauce, toss to coat and then let it cook all together for a minute or you can take out about half the sauce and the pasta and only add back enough sauce to barely coat the pasta.

I generally like a lot of sauce so I just threw all mine together.


Now just grab plates, sprinkle on some cheese and the reserved guanciale, then dig in!

Pasta All’Amaticiana
Adapted from: Anne Burrell courtesy of Food Network
Olive oil
8 ounces guanciale (or pancetta)
(2) onions
Red pepper flakes
(2) 28 ounce cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 lb. of pasta, bucatini is recommend
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded for garnish

– Chop guanciale or pancetta into bite-sized pieces.  Coat large saucepan with olive oil, set on low heat and add guanciale.

– Cook guanciale until fat is rendered and meat is crispy.  While this is cooking dice the two onions.  Once cooked through, set aside about a third of the cooked meat for garnish.

– Increase heat to medium and add diced onions and red pepper to the pan with the remaining guanicale.

– Cook until onions are tender and just turning golden.

– Add the crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.  Simmer for approximately an hour, stirring and tasting occasionally. Add salt if needed.

– In a large pot of water cook your pasta to al dente. Drain.

– Remove a few cups of the pasta sauce, then add the pasta to the remaining sauce in the pan.  Add back sauce as needed for desired consistency.  Cook together for a minute.

– Serve with reserved guanciale and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Give it a Go: Popcorn Chicken Fried Steak

I was browsing one of my favorite blogs and saw something that looked so amazing I had to run to the store on my lunch break to get the ingredients.

Are you ready for this?  Popcorn Chicken Fried Steak!  Yummy bite-size pieces of tender beef wrapped up in a super crunchy crust, and on top on that country sausage gravy.  I’m a terrible person, so I waited until my boyfriend left town for the weekend and made these babies.  They were AMAZING and I didn’t change a single thing from the recipe.

Please visit his blog and give the recipe a go, you won’t regret it: Popcorn Chicken Fried Steak Recipe

Crunchy, Salty, Yum

Stamp it Out

My co-workers signed me up for a lovely monthly craft box subscription from Darby Smart over the holidays.  They send you fun crafting projects to try, which is a great way to just dive into a craft that you might not try on your own.

The first box was a stamp carving set with special ink to transfer your design onto the provided dish towels.  I was a little nervous when it came to picking what to carve into my stamp.  I jumped between a simple pattern that I could reuse all the time or something really custom that would just be for this project.

Well I finally decided on what I think was a good compromise!

Kitchen Towel Black Printing

You sketch out your pattern onto the stamp, once you are happy with the way it looks, you begin to carve it out.*

*Just remember what ends up on the fabric/paper/whatever will be the reverse of what you see, so if you are writing out a phrase you need it to be the mirror image.


Starting with the smallest head on the linoleum cutter you begin to carve out your design.  Go slowly, the heads are sharp!  I went around the edges of my design several times with the smallest head before i moved outward with the next size.


Soon you’ll have your very own stamp and you’ll be ready to roll….the ink onto the stamp.  You want a good layer of the block printing ink on there, I strongly recommend practicing on some paper first.


I was very happy with how the towels turned out, now I just have to iron them to set the ink.


*Note this is not a sponsored post and I am in no way compensated for my thoughts.  Not that I’m some super blog where people might think this, but thought I would let you know.

Swiss Chard and Bacon Saute

Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens and with this simple saute it’s simple to whip up as a side dish or as base to mix with pasta/grains.


Round up your ingredients: (1) Bunch Swiss Chard, (2) Thick Slices Bacon, Salt, Pepper, and (2-3) Cloves of Garlic (not pictured)*.  I used bacon that I had given a light smoke with my stovetop smoker, but you can use any of your favorite thick cut bacon.  Chop up your bacon and throw it in a cold pot or saute pan with a lid and place over medium low heat, uncovered.  You want to render as much fat from the bacon as you can, so let it do it’s thing and crisp up.  In the meantime you can prep the chard.

*My garlic was a victim of clumsiness and fell into the garbage disposal.  If you happen to be clumsy like me (or just out of garlic) the dish does turn out fine without it.

Remove the rib from the Swiss chard

Don’t get too distracted by the smell of bacon as you separate the leaves from the stems of the chard.  Take a sharp knife and run it down the edges of the stem, so that the leaves are their own situation.  Depending on how speedy you are with the break down, you may want to give the bacon a stir or two to help it cook evenly. Chop the stems to about 2″ sticks and give the leaves a rough chop as well.  I leave my leaves around the size of my palm because the shrink so much when cooked, but it’s really personal preference.  Now is also when you should slice your garlic.  I like just slicing it into little disks so that there are bigger bits in the finished dish.

Sticks of Swiss Chards Stems and Torn Leaves

Toss the stems and garlic into the now crispy bacon, mix them around so that delicious fat gets all over them, and then put the lid on the pot.  Keep the heat on medium low.  Now’s a great time to pour a glass of wine, check your instagram feed, put out the dog’s dinner so that he stops begging you for bacon (eh hem)…or handle any other cooking you are doing.  After about 10 mins the stems should be starting to get tender.  Stir one or twice during the process to keep an eye on them.


 Get the leaves into the pot.  Sprinkle with a small pinch of salt* and another of pepper.  Put a couple tablespoons of water (or broth if you have some on hand) in there and stir everything together.  I turn the heat up to medium at this point and stir for a minute or two, but if you want you can just skip to the next step, which is to put the lid on and have the heat back at medium low. Now, you get to play the “wilting” game, check and stir every 3 minutes until greens are at your desired texture.

*Note: If you know your bacon is very salty, wait until the end to season after tasting.
Delicious Swiss Chard

You can spoon these out as is as a side dish or you can mix them into pasta dishes, salads, finished soups, pretty much anything. I used mine to accompany some scrambled eggs whites with lots of pepper and Parmesan cheese.


(1) Bunch Swiss Chard
(2) Slices Uncooked Bacon
(2-3) Cloves Garlic
Salt & Pepper
A few tablespoons water or broth
– Chop bacon into small pieces and toss into cold pan, turn to medium-low heat.
– Remove stems from leaves of chard, cut stems to 2″ lengths, and roughly chop leaves
– Once bacon has gotten crispy, toss stems and garlic into pan, cover and cook until soft (check and stir periodically, but should be about 10 minutes).
– Toss leaves in the pot with a pinch of salt & pepper (be sure to account for the saltiness of the bacon) and a tablespoon or two of water/broth (just to help things get moving).
-Cover and check every 3 minutes to stir until greens are desired doneness.

Thank you for taking the time to read this recipe, I would love to hear any thoughts you may have.  Remember if you’re not sure you’ll like this you can always order pizza if things don’t go well! -Kristy