Quick and Easy Pea Pesto Pasta with Shrimp

img_20200531_095843_995This 15 minute recipe uses ingredients most people already have at home in their refrigerator and pantry. Add the pasta to the boiling water first and while it’s cooking prepare the pesto in the food processor. Serves 4.

PEA PESTO
7oz frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Add all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Recipe yields 1 1/4 cup.

PASTA
8 oz pasta of choice, cooked al dente (reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water)
5 oz frozen peas, defrosted
16 oz cooked shrimp or roasted chicken
1 1/4 cup pea pesto (recipe above)

Heat a saute pan to low and combine pasta, peas, shrimp, pea pesto, and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water until warmed throughout (just a few minutes to avoid overcooking the pasta). Add in additional pasta water if needed to reach your desired consistency. Serve in shallow bowls and top with grated parmesan, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

4 Tips for a Socially Distant Birthday Party

My baby girl turned 1 this week. It was such an amazing day of excitement, reflection, and family… But it was much different than your typical 1st birthday celebration.

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It is crazy to think that only a few months ago I was planning her birthday party. I had a theme, guest list, and was scouting out party locations. I love hosting, entertaing, and party planning (thus the “party” in my blog name) and this was a celebration I had been looking forward to for quite some time. A few weeks into social distancing I realized her first birthday was not going to  pan out the way I envisioned.

This week, I decided that I was still going to “go all out” for her birthday. I was going to decorate, bake a cake, get balloons, take photos, and have cake and ice cream with our entire family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins). I just had to figure out how to make it all happen while following social distancing guidelines. I know some people might find my precautions extreme BUT because I have an immunocompromised relative in my family, I’m taking the “better safe than sorry” approach.

I wanted to share with you how we celebrated, along with some tips for throwing a safe and budget friendly socially distant birthday party!

Keep the Guest List Small

As much as I wanted to invite our entire support system to the 1st birthday celebration, it just wasn’t an option. We decided to keep our guest list to just family (aunts, uncles, and grandparents). We came up with time slots and shared the availability with the family. This actually ended up being a great approach because it kept our birthday girl from being over stimulated AND we only had a few people over at a time. If we had hosted a traditional style party we would have had 17 family members at the house at one time.2020-05-28-11.54.09-1

Keep the Budget Small

I know it seems like a no brainer, but it’s not always easy when it comes to a celebration. For the decorations I reused some tassles I had from a babyshower we hosted a few years back. I purchased the balloons from the dollar store, and made my own cupcakes and smash cake. I even made a cake stand for less than $2.00! You can find an easy tutorial for this DIY by watching the video below!

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Rethink the Traditional Cake and Ice Cream

Instead of making one big cake for everyone to share, I made cupcakes and packaged them individually. I was sure to wear a mask when handling and decorating and kept the mask on until the cupcakes were packaged into individual cupcake boxes. The boxes served a dual purpose — the packaging kept the cupcakes germ free and allowed anyone that stoped by to pick out their cupcake of choice. I ordered these adorable cupcake boxes off of amazon and loved that they were easy to assemble and super sturdy.

I also purchased individually packaged ice cream as an extra precaution. They’re the perfect serving size, don’t require separate bowls, and keep things germ free. 2020-05-28-11.53.28-1

I used Snixy Kitchen’s Spiced Banana Date Cake recipe for the smash cake (I used a whole weat/oat flour blend)! I loved that the smash cake wasn’t overly sweet. Our girl still LOVED the cake and frosting and I didn’t have the guilt of loading her up on refined sugar.2020-05-28-11.55.06-1

Offer a Live Stream but Keep Things Simple

Again, we wanted our entire family to be able to see our girl enjoy her first slice of cake but if I’m being honest, I think we all are experiencing a bit of video chat burnout.

I shared a Zoom video link and let the family know that they were welcome to log in and see our girl eat cake! I was also very open in stating that it wasn’t a “virtual birthday party”.  Folks could log in, watch her devour her cake, and then log off whenever they wanted. Everyone felt included but there was no expectation for them to be tuned in for a long virtual event.

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I hope that these tips are helpful and provide a fun way for you to celebrate a special milestone in the age of social distancing. This approach can be tailored for all sorts of birthdays and milestones, not just 1st birthday parties!

Bacon Carbonara

Processed with VSCO with  presetWhat makes a carbonara a carbonara? Pasta, egg, pork, and cheese. With these simple ingredients you can come up with a vaiety of carbonara combinations such as bacon and parmesean, or sausage and pecorino… The opportunities are endless.

I’ve decided to use basic kitchen staples for this carbonara combination. I used thick cut bacon for my recipe but you can use any type of bacon and it will come out almost exactly the same. While fresh parmesan cheese is amazing, I used the grated kind that comes in the container with the green lid (you know what I’m talking about). Although I use fresh parsley in my recipe, dried parsley will work fine as well (just use 1 tablespoon instead of two). You can use any pasta that you’d like for this recipe as well (just make sure you’re cooking the equivalent to two servings). Continue reading →