Citrus Cod en Papillote

Rosemary Chicken Lasagna

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo

Spaghetti with Chili and Artichokes

Lentils with Roasted Tomatoes and Feta

Valentine’s Day is the one holiday that causes the biggest divide in people, as they clearly either love it or hate it. I probably would hate it… except I love making valentines with glitter and baking heart-shaped cakes way too much! I must admit, I’ve never met a holiday I didn’t like.

No matter which category you fall into, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the evening than cooking for your favorite person (or people). A cozy Valentine’s dinner at home seems like a much more romantic option than fighting hundreds of other couples for overpriced dinner reservations, no?

I’ve rounded up a few recipe options, and hope you’ll find something no matter what you hope to get out of your meal. The Cod en Papillote creates a serving for two (and there’s something so adorable about individual portions), while the Rosemary Chicken Lasagna would be perfectly comforting for a group of friends. If you want something that’s guaranteed not to weigh you down, the Lentil, Tomato, & Feta Salad would be just the ticket.

How will you be spending Valentine’s Day? (And more importantly, what will you be eating?)

I have to tell you- I’ve been looking forward to writing the next edition of Blog Notes since my last post. My mind is brimming with ideas for this series and the most challenging part has been narrowing down what I want to talk about every other week. There are quite literally a million things I want to cover. But my goal is to focus on the basics for the first few weeks, and closely cover the core elements needed to make a blog a success. First and foremost (after setting aside the time, of course)? Ensuring you’re creating, not just curating, content.

I am by no means the first to say this, but content, when it comes to a blog, is truly king. The first step in creating a blog that’s destined to grow is to ensure you’re consistently creating original content. That means you’re either producing your own copy and photographs, or pulling together inspiration you find online in a truly innovative way. Over the years, I’ve found that the solution for ensuring CC continually reflects content that is unique to me is not vested in one single tactic, but multiple. Here are my go to methods:

Use Your Voice Have you ever noticed how the best recipe, outfit, design, DIY (you name it) posts start with a story? The blogger starts off talking about something that initially may feel completely unrelated to the title or pictures in the post? In doing so they’re employing their voice- and the post becomes more about their personal story rather than the dish or clothing item they’re talking about. In each post you write, think how about how you can be using your true voice and bringing your personal experiences to life.

Editorial Calendar I’m also not the first to emphasize the importance of an editorial calendar, but one method I found really made a difference when it came to fleshing out post topics weeks in advance, was working slightly backwards. Instead of sitting down with your calendar and trying to simultaneously come up with post content while assigning dates- start with a brainstorming session. Grab and pen and paper and just starting writing, jotting down every idea for a post that comes to mind. Even if you’re not sure if the topic could be a full blown post- write it down anyway. Once you’ve got a list of 20+ items, start to review and group. Do any of the posts fit together, could any form a series? Which ones are going to take the most time and therefore require some planning? Are any topics time sensitive- i.e. do they relate to holidays or specific seasons? Once you’ve organized the list, then begin assigning dates and backing out your blog calendar. For a more detailed tutorial on how to set up an editorial calendar for you blog, I highly recommend this post from Lisa at Elembee.

Quality over Quantity There’s this idea that in order to create a successful blog, you need to be blogging 5+ days a week. So not true. Yes, I do that here, and many other bloggers do it- but I both have help in the form of contributors, and can devote a bit more time to my blog since it’s part of my business. Quality is of the utmost importance, so if that means you can only produce two or three posts per week- go with that. Keep a consistent posting schedule and work to continually promote that content, rather than pushing out content that is sub par.

Get Offline And stop reading so many blogs… except for this one! No but really, this last tip might be the most important. If you’re constantly browsing online, always looking to other blogs for inspiration, it’s incredibly challenging (I think) to come up with your own content. My best ideas always occur when I’m walking around the city, in the shower, reading a magazine or news article, or doing something that is entirely unrelated to blogging. I read lots of blogs, so clearly I’m not saying to erase that time from your life, but do make sure you’re consistently delegating time away from the computer to stir up inspiration of your own. I can’t recommend this practice enough.

Woo- a novel once again! I think that’s about it on my end, but I’d love to hear- any tips you have on keeping your content original? And please tell me I’m not the only one who gets their best ideas in the shower!

As much as I love color, a black and white palette feels effortlessly refreshing from time to time. I love that it can make a statement, or just as easily be neutral and unassuming. As soon as I saw the linens, pictured below, I knew it reminded me of some artwork I’ve seen recently- the work of Richard Serra and Franz Kline. I love how seemingly simple their work appears, while the small subtleties make such a statement. In a table setting, a black and white palette easily translates into the perfect brunch back drop, as just a few items are needed to look complete. A bright frittata on the black lined platter, a winter citrus salad in the striped bowl, and some hot coffee to fill those cups.

What do you think- would you embrace such a graphic theme? Of course, you could always throw in some cheerful flowers to brighten things up!

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Inspiration: Richard Serra, tulips, tables, Franz Kline

January has added up to lots of running around. Full days at my desk have become a rarity, and most of the week I’m running from meeting to meeting with little down time in between. That means I’m mostly eating on the go, and as someone who needs both a morning and afternoon snack, it’s necessary that I always have snacks in my bag. Trail mix and raw almonds were starting to get pretty old so when I saw these Peanut Butter Bites from Sprouted Kitchen I knew they’d be perfect to quel my AM and PM hunger pangs. When Sara (of SP) suggested a version including dark chocolate, my mind immediately went to almond butter and coconut to create an almond joy-esque “cookie.”  I’m not only always hungry around 3 pm, but consistently craving something sweet (please tell me who isn’t..?), and the dates and dark chocolate provide just enough not so terrible sugar to meet that craving without sending me crashing about 30 minutes later. Add in lasting fat and protein from the almond butter and flax seed (not to mention a dose of Omega 3s) and these little guys kind of can’t be beat!

Almond Joy “Cookies” inspired by Sprouted Kitchen
Makes about 20 cookies

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • heaping 1/2 cup almond butter (plus more if needed)
  • two pinches of salt (if your pb isn’t salted)
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • pinch of salt

In a food processor, pulse the almonds until a coarse meal forms. Add the cinnamon, dates, almond butter, chocolate, flax seed, coconut, and salt. Note- my food processor had a tough time processing the dates, so if you’re experiencing the same thing- be sure to cut them up as finely as you can before adding them to the mixture. Pulse everything together until they are generally uniform in color and texture. The mixture should stick together when pressed between your fingers. If it seems dry, add another tablespoon of almond butter.

Roll dough into scant tablespoon size balls. Press them down with a fork to make a cross hatch. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and keep chilled in the fridge.

Make : a DIY citrus wreath (I love ideas for making a home festive outside of the holidays, and citrus will always win me over)

Eat : Victoria’s Chile Con Queso (I don’t have much experience with this food, but apparently it’s traditionally made with Velveeta. Needless to say, this version is not- it’s just filled with (real) cheesy deliciousness. Perfect for the upcoming Superbowl, no?)

Hunt Down : this H&M dress (The word on Pinterest is that it is indeed being sold at H&M, but actually finding it may prove to be a bit of a challenge.)