Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Whole Foods Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

well... I'll be the first to agree it's been a LOOOONNNGG time since I've blogged. The summer was crazy and after all of that blogging and crafting for the wedding, I've been taking the last 5 months off - just enjoying married life and traveling all over the country w/ my fresh new husband!!
here's us on our honeymoon in Costa Rica
With my wedding finally over and my marriage beginning, I've returned to my first love on Pinterest, cooking!  In the last year I have become obsessed with Whole Foods Black Bean and Quinoa Salad available at their deli counter. It is absolutely AMAZING, but the problem is (1) it's kinda expensive and (2) they don't always have it since they rotate different things through their selection all the time.  SO, I took it upon myself to finally get my act together and try to make some myself this afternoon and... it turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself!! 
I googled recipes for imitation Whole Foods Black Bean and Quinoa Salad first (cuz I'm lazy) but I couldn't find anything that really looked like it would be exactly what I was looking for, so instead, I stole from two pretty close recipes, mixed them together and voila, I think I nailed it!
 And now I present to you my version of Whole Foods Black Bean and Quinoa Salad - I think it's really the best of both worlds!
3 cups water
1 1/2 cup quinoa
1 can of black beans (rinsed)
1/2 large red bell pepper
3 sprigs of green onions
1 can of corn (rinsed)
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
several sprigs of cilantro (I didn't keep track)
Salt and Pepper to taste

For dressing
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
** I only ended up using about 3/4 of the dressing


Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Rinse the quinoa and add to boiling water, lower heat to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes. (in the future though, I think I'm going to try the Epicurous style of cooking quinoa which is  supposed to make it lighter and fluffier, here's how to do it:
In a saucepan of salted boiling water cook quinoa 10 minutes. Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse under cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes (check water level in kettle occasionally, adding water if necessary).
While the quinoa was cooking, I made the dressing by mixing all of those ingredients together. Then I cut up the pepper, onion, and cilantro. I also drained and rinsed the corn and drained and rinsed the black beans. Then I tossed the beans w/ the red wine vinegar and some salt and pepper to taste.

Once the quinoa was done, I drained the excess water (I think there was excess because I used a little more than was necessary) and rinsed it with cold water.  After that I tossed the quinoa with all of the ingredients and then poured in about 1/2 of the dressing I had made. I didn't want the salad to get too oily and I also thought the dressing would over power the salad so, as I said,  I only used about 3/4 of it, so I might make a little less next time.

And that was it. It made a huge bowl of the stuff and it is absolutely delicious and pretty darn close to what you can buy at Whole Foods.  With just me and Nick eating it, this recipe made enough to last an entire week too!

SOoooooooo excited to snack on it all week long! YUM!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Moment to Remember

As many of you know, this past weekend the world lost an amazing person. Ryan Novak, one of the ushers in our wedding and one of my husband's dearest friends, died in an avalanche while back country skiing on Loveland Pass.
I only had the privilege of knowing Ryan for the last 6 years - I met him shortly after I started dating Nick back in 2007 - but in that time I had come to love him as a brother. It was hard not to; he was one of those people that just drew everyone in. His joy and zaniness was contagious, and you couldn't help but smile when he was around. 
Ryan was always a bit of a wildcard; we never quite knew when he would come through Denver, but we were always happy to see him when he did make it to town. His spirit uplifted all those around him, and a great time was gauranteed to follow anytime he was there. 
But it wasn't just that Ryan was fun to be around, I think what drew people to him was that he really was a beautiful soul. I never heard him speak or wish ill of any one else. Not a vindictive bone in his body, he didn't waste his time with negativity.  Through example, he taught everyone around him to live life to the fullest, enjoy every moment of it, and not to sweat the small stuff.  That will be his legacy.  

In this time of great sadness, what I am most grateful for is the time we had with him at our wedding last month.  My husband has an amazing group of friends from his childhood that he remains unbelievably close with to this day, despite the years and miles that separate them. They are truly a family in every sense of the word, and they showed up in full force for our wedding.
The time that they all had together, only one month before Ryan's passing, will be something that we all cherish for the rest of our lives.  Absolutely no one on this earth could replace Ryan in the hearts and minds of those who knew him, he was truly one of-a-kind.

With less than three days having passed since the avalanche, it is hard to take any consolation in the fact that he died doing what he loved. It is hard to take comfort in the idea that he may have been looking down on us as we gathered this weekend to support each other and remember the good times. They say that time heals all wounds... and deep down we all know this is true, but at the moment, this too offers no solace. There are just no words that can describe the deep loss that is felt by those who knew this beautiful person.
It is with heavy hearts that we all head back to Honesdale this weekend to lay him to rest. Life will go on, the world will continue to turn, but it will never be quite the same again.

We love you Novs....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our Ceremony: A View From Vista Ridge (Granby Ranch)

(Well, I know you've already seen the view, but now that I've got some professional shots of the wedding, I thought I'd share some more :-)
Vista Ridge at Granby Ranch was the only wedding venue that Nick and I looked at after we got engaged. (Remember my post?) I believe my exact words when I saw the site were "holy f*cking sh*t this is gorgeous) and just like that, our decision was made. It was everything I could have ever dreamed of for a ceremony site, and we could not have gotten luckier with the beautiful day that we had!
One of the greatest things about the site is that, while it is on top of a ski mountain (remember we had to take lift to get there)
There is actually an aspen grove separating the ceremony site from the ski slopes, so we were completely secluded from the resort and shielded from the wind and the noise of the skiers.

In order to get to the ceremony site, you have to walk down a little path through the aspens
and it almost feels like you are discovering a well-kept secret when you finally come through the trees and get your first glimpse of the amazing view.
speaking of first glimpse, check out my groom as he tries to get his first look at his bride walking down the aisle toward him... I love this picture!
after my long walk through the grove and down the aisle, I have my dad the biggest hug I could (I love my daddy so much!)
and then went to greet my groom - I'm so happy I can barely stand it!
And then there we were; just as my invitation  had said, "two crazy people on a mountain top, vowing to love each other for a lifetime."  Standing within feet of the edge of the mountain, it felt like we were on top of the world.
Our dear friend, and the person who introduced us to each other, Brian Clark, was our officiant, and he did an amazing job. 
We had planned to have a short ceremony - mostly because we had no idea what the weather would be like and we didn't want our guests to freeze their little tushies off - but once we were actually preforming the ceremony, it went so fast I couldn't even believe it. It felt like it went by in the blink of an eye, and before I knew it, it was time for me to say my vows.
I hadn't cried when I wrote them, and I didn't cry when I practiced them, so I must say I was a little stunned when I opened my mouth to recite them to Nick and could barely get a word out.  And so, in surprise and frustration, and through my tears, I blurted out "shit!" right in the middle of my wedding ceremony! (very classy Rachel!) 
In the end, though, I guess was pretty perfect for our ceremony! Everyone in attendance (except maybe my in-laws) already knows what a potty-mouth I have, and I'm pretty sure no one was shocked to hear that word come out of my mouth, regardless of the situation.  As you can probably tell by the picture, we all had a good laugh at that one, and I carried on with my vows to Nick.

(I love this picture so much because of all of our guests smiling in the background AND they're wearing ski goggles! Really could it get better than that!?)
After I finished my vows, it was Nick's turn
 His vows were beautiful and brought on the water works for every single one of our bridesmaids
But I was so happy at that moment, you couldn't have smacked the smile off of my face. Here I was standing in the most beautiful spot I could imagine, with an amazing man - who is a more perfect match for me than I could have ever dreamed up myself - and surrounded by all of our closest friends and familiy he was declaring his love for me... how could I do anything but smile!?  
At the end of Nick's vows, he grabbed a hold of my hands and leaned in for a kiss! "Not yet!" I said, and we we all hand another little chuckle. I hope our guests were all having as much fun as we were! Next of course it was time for the rings.
It was at this point, though, that I realized that Brian didn't write down what were were supposed to say for the rings ceremony because Nick and I were just supposed to say it - not repeat after him - and I didn't know what we were supposed to say because I just figured that Brian would have it in his notes. (This misunderstanding was completely my fault, by the way!) And so Nick and I spent a couple of "o shit" seconds trying to figure out what we were going to say, and we settled on "just hurry up and say anything!"  I'm sure no one plans to be put on the spot during their wedding ceremony, but these things tend to happen, and so in a very intimate and unplanned moment, we whispered to each other as we put on the rings. Nick told me to "wear this as a sign of my appreciation for you"
And then after I figured out which finger was on Nick's left hand... I told him to "wear this ring as a symbol of my love."

Following the rings, there were some beautiful closing remarks from Brian, and then...it was over. It went so fast, I really couldn't even believe what was happening when he pronounced us husband and wife!
and then, Nick kissed his bride, and I became Mrs. Stachokus!
Just as we finished our kiss, Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" came on the sound system and we danced down the aisle in celebration
And that, by far, was the happiest moment in my life.... to date.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Something Old, Something New....

I am super lucky to have some amazing women (and men) in my life who helped me put together my wedding-day ensemble. (It was certainly the most beautiful that I've ever worn!)

First, there is my bestie, Nathan, who picked out my biggest "something new," my dress (which was White by Vera Wang, from David's Bridal):
For my somethings borrowed and something blue, I have my Aunt Laurie, my mom, and my sister to thank. Allie gave me my something blue: a Penn State garter (how appropriate!!!)
It's pictured here with my first something borrowed: a bracelet from my Aunt Laurie. My second borrowed was a bracelet from my mom that was pinned to my flowers (see it hanging over my fingers?):
It was really important to me to get something borrowed from my mom because (1) she's my mom and (2) she and my dad have been together since they were teenagers and have lived as an amazing example of what a supportive and loving marriage should be. Actually, both of my somethings borrowed as well as my something old are from women who have marriages that I hope to emulate in my life with Nick. I hope that having these little mementos from them with me on my wedding day will somehow help their marriage juju to rub off on me!
Which brings me to my something old: a hankie from my Grandma Joan
Due to health reasons, my Grandma couldn't make it to the wedding (well to be fair, were at 9,000 feet above sea level, on snow, and she is in her 80's!) but it was really great to have a little piece of her with me during the ceremony. (also pictured here are my new earrings)
In my hair, I wore custom made barrettes. They were made from molds of actual succulent flowers and then cast in pewter, just for me, by my dear friend Nathan!
I don't have a great picture of them in my hair, but here's a side view so you can get an idea. They were great! (also note my wedding-day ski gloves!)
For the ceremony, I wore fleece-lined tights under my dress (they were so warm and cozy!) pink ski socks, and my fabulous Sorel boots!
Which brings me to my shoes... Ooooo my shoes! I love my shoes, all three pairs of them!
My formal shoes were Badgley Mischka Cissy heels, and I was basically in love with them!
I also had a little cropped jacket to keep me warm during the ceremony (and subsequent skiing!) and a scarf (hand made with love by my awesome Aunt Laurie) to keep me warm!
And then, of course, there were my amazing flowers
which had a little nod to my inner razzelberry hidden among my flowers:
(yes, those are actually on-the-vine raspberries!)

But let's not forget my favorite accessory of the entire day:
My brand-spankin' new husband! Not too shabby himself, huh!? (I should mention, he picked out his own ensemble all by himself, and I was very impressed!) What a handsom groom I have:
I am a lucky girl!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Signing Our Marriage License

Remembered when we picked this baby up a couple of weeks before the wedding:
Well, after our ski runs and before the reception, it was time to sign on the dotted line. I kind of thought it wasn't that big of a deal beforehand, but I am so glad that I put it on the schedule (o yes, there was a pretty intense schedule for the day!) and I am soooo glad that I made sure that the photographer was there for it, because as you can see from the smiles on my face, it was pretty darn exciting for me!!!
 And I am so happy that Brian was our officiant and his signature is forever on our marriage license, because he was the one who introduced us almost exactly 6 years ago!
We received the license back from the state today, so it's officially official! Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm his!