All posts by Emily

Pure Gratitude

I remember very vividly my first Pure Barre class. It was at the Westlake studio and I was super excited. Having been a dancer for most of my teens and early twenties, I walked in thinking “I’ve so got this.” The cocky Emily swiftly exited stage left in about the first five minutes of class and I was served a big slice of humble, butt-kicking pie. I was sweating bullets and my legs were shaking like a leaf in a category five hurricane. But, I am not one to shy away from a challenge and I went back the next day, and the next and the next. After three weeks, I could start to see a difference. My tushie was lifted, arms were toned, my stomach felt like it had a girdle (in a good way) and my legs had not been this toned since I had danced.  Those ladies really do mean it when they say “Lift. Tone. Burn.”

Pure Barre Thigh Workout (photo courtesy of Pure Barre)
Pure Barre Thigh Workout (photo courtesy of Pure Barre)

I did Pure Barre before our wedding and did the new mom bounce back after I had Lila. Cue some current job/financial issues, us having to put our dear, dear dog Cricket down (oh sweet girl, we miss you so) and Lila having an issue with her kidney that we hope will turn out OK, but medical bills have been piling up. Unfortunately, Pure Barre was the first  on a list of items to get cut. While saddened that I wouldn’t get to see the lovely ladies everyday, I was just thankful that we still had our amazing family and friends, a roof over our head and food on the table – which is more than some have, so I can’t complain. Fortunately, like most of the ladies at Pure Barre, I’ve gotten to know the instructors pretty well and when I slightly mentioned to Kathryn, a supremely sweet instructor, about my current situation she mentioned getting together for coffee. I’ve always thought she was awesome so of course said “sure!”

We met up a few days ago and she mentioned that a client had given them funds to support one person who was a Pure Barre enthusiast but might be going through a tough time and couldn’t afford it. Kathryn informed me that I had been chosen as the lucky recipient. I was speechless. In fact, I cried all the way back to my car. The client’s reason? She believed in Pure Barre so much that she wanted to make sure that someone else who loved it too didn’t lose out on the experience. That’s so awesome! She’s paying forward exercise! I don’t need to list the myriad of reasons to exercise, but I do Pure Barre specifically because I love what it does for my body and my mental clarity, but also, my enthusiasm for the other women and instructors is equally as strong. Can you really name another workout place where an instructor would take the time to get to you know you like that? Can you name another place that a person would willingly pay for another person’s exercise because they believed in so much? I know I can’t think of any.

I started back at class yesterday and I could not be more grateful for this woman’s charity, kindness and thoughtfulness – not to mention Kathryn, the amazing instructor with a heart of gold. I only hope someday that I can return the favor for someone else and help them feel as great as I do now. It’s a little thing, but during trying times, it really is the little things that count the most. Thank you my Pure Barre angel!

The Strangest Dish I’ve Made Yet

If I told you that you were about to eat a dish with marjoram, eggs, almonds, cauliflower and tomatoes, you might think you were in an episode of Chopped. To me, when I first saw this Smothered Cauliflower with Eggs recipe from Food & Wine I thought it sounded weird and a little bit gross. So, with that positive intro let’s see how it turned out shall we?

I told David what I was making and he gave me this inquisitive look like he wanted to take my temperature to ensure I was feeling OK. I mentioned that I just had to make it because it sounded so odd, and when I promised we would order a pizza if it sucked, he shrugged his shoulders and ran off to play with Lila. When he puts her on his shoulders and dances around, she gets the biggest smile on her face. I swear at that moment I’m the happiest person on the planet. Love.


Back to the odd dish. First, this was a pretty simple to put together and second, it didn’t take much time at all, except for coring all those cursed tomatoes. I did add about a tablespoon of minced garlic when I added the tomatoes, but otherwise I followed it to the letter.

I was plating it up and thought, “I am about to call Domino’s” but then, we sat down to eat and slurped it up. It was really, really good! As I said at the dinner table, “this isn’t good because I thought it was going to be so bad that it surprised me good, but actually, I’ll make this again good!” I will say it was pretty hearty and given the unbearable heat outside, I will probably wait until October or so to give this another try.

Photo by Con Poulos

Speaking of weird, I have been having the yummiest and I think is somewhat strange breakfast each morning. I do a ½ cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt, tablespoon of granola, teaspoon of agave nectar, one chopped, ripe banana, tablespoon of ground flax seed and two tablespoons of smooth peanut butter. Talk about slurping this up. Yum! Give it a try! It’s like a healthy “Elvis” sandwich without the bread.

Vegetable “Ceviche”

Guys I have been digging the heck out of vegetables recently. Don’t get me wrong, I love veggies of all kinds, and even tried to make them the center of the plate at least a few times a week. But, I’ve really concentrated the past month on making them more of mainstay in our diet than red meat and even chicken or pork, and I’m loving it.

This bad boy from Food & Wine magazine was PERFECT. I love the ceviche style preparation and the colors and flavors were out of this world. Seriously, look at this…


This is great for end-of-summer/back-to-school parties as I think kids and adults will dig it, plus the vegetarians will love you! David, who is from the East Coast/Canada is our in-house fish expert, had been wanting to make me his “fish fry” for some time. It’s basically fish (we used Tilapia) coated in Saltine cracker crumbs, salt and pepper, dredged in egg and fried in olive oil. It was light, delicious and a nice balance to the intense flavors of the Vegetable “Ceviche.” I’m definitely making this again before the summer runs out. I can’t believe summer is almost over but you know what that means? COLLEGE FOOTBALL. Squee!


My Top Ten Baby Items

In the past months we have had friends who are expecting their first child and we frequently get asked what the top baby items are that we couldn’t do without. After rattling it off a few times, I thought I would share here in case you want to learn from our experience. Everyone is unique of course, so take take ’em or leave ’em.  It’s funny, I wrote out my list and then asked David his. Besides number six, every single one was the same!

  1. Electric Kettle: This may sound like an odd choice, but not only are Electric Kettles great for coffee (which you will need A LOT of those first few months) but, you can use the piping hot water to sanitize your bottles, nipples, spoons and cups, which you will be doing A LOT of too. We found this saves us from having to get one of those pricey, bulky steamers and once we are done with bottles we can go back to using it the way we always did.
  2. La-Z-Boy: you will be spending copious amounts of time sitting and rocking and playing and feeding and more and more and more rocking so make sure this is where you splurge. We didn’t go bananas on a lot of items honestly but this was definitenly an investment that has a huge return. Oddly enough, we went with a brand that I was surprised I liked so much: La-Z-Boy. Seriously. They don’t make the one we have anymore, but this one is closest to ours. We have it in the color Brown Sugar and it’s very modern looking – not the old granny kind that you are thinking in your head. Like I said, the chair is a splurge, but you will be so happy you have one you won’t know what you ever did without it.
  3. Skip-Hop Pronto! Changing StationI remember the first time I changed Lila “in the field” and had to use this wonderful product. I was astonished that the public restroom didn’t have a Koala Bear changing station. You will come to find that a ton of places you use to frequent do not have these, which is why the Pronto! is so critical to bring with you everywhere you go. Also, be sure you have an extra onesie inside the pocket because blow-outs can happen anywhere, at anytime. I feel like I should add a Mwahahahaha at the end of that sentence.
  4. Joovy Room 2 and Exersaucer: I put these two as one since they are for the same purpose. By the end of her fourth month Lila was no longer a motionless blob but a crawling, rolling fireball that if you put her down for one moment and turned around she was g.o.n.e. gone. While I like to supervise as much as I can, there are times when you need them in a secure place to take care of something in the house. Joovy, or as we playfully call it “baby prison,” and the Exersaucer are blessings for those “oh crap” moments. If I’m trying to get a workout in downstairs, I pop in my 20 minute Jillian Michaels (see #7) and place Lila in the Exersaucer so we can both get our workout on. I feel great after the workout and so does she! Let me mention though that I only let Lila stay in her Exersaucer for 20 minutes total and the Joovy is for a five minute errand break that I just can’t do holding her (plus, it’s great when we visit the grandparents). There has been a lot of studies saying leaving children under one in the Exersaucer for long periods of time can impede standing and walking and besides, I just like being with her so much that I don’t like to leave her alone that often!


Continue reading My Top Ten Baby Items

Ratatouille Tian

They are so many food blogs I love on the intertubes but one of my favorites is from Clotilde Dusoulier (I also love her name) of Chocolate & Zucchini. From the recipes to the photography and her writing, I am so inspired by what she does and now she has a cookbook! I can’t wait for it to arrive at our house and I didn’t have to wait to try one of her recipes since Daily Candy had a sneak peek of a few of them, including her delectable Ratatouille Tian.

This dish, made famous by the Pixar movie Ratatouille, has been one of my favorites for a long time. I love the blend of zucchini, tomatoes, onions and eggplant. Yes, even eggplant, the one veggie that I really don’t dig, but in ratatouille, I can do it (so can David since he hates eggplant too). Also, I didn’t know that Tian translated into any kind of casserole-style baked dish, thank you Yumsugar.

I will say this dish took a long time. From cutting the vegetables on the mandolin to roasting for a good hour and a half. Speaking of, have you ever cut yourself on a mandolin? YOWZA. I did one time and from then have worn safety gloves after one small cut. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain and the cut was deep. Sorry, I went on a mandolin rampage but it seriously hurt so bad. This is my PSA for you to be careful with those things, OK?

So, after cutting all the veggies, and layering and roasting and more roasting, I thought my love for this dish might be slowly dwindling, but we took one bite and it really was like the scene from Ratatouille when Anton Ego takes one bite and is shot back to his childhood memory of him having a rough day and his mama making this dish for him. Happiness wells up inside him and tears begin to flow. Well, I’m from East Texas and definitely don’t have that memory, but I was shocked at how delicious it was and happiness did well up! It was perfectly balanced, cooked to perfection and so deliciously satisfying, just as this dish should be.

Tasting the ratatouille
Anton Ego taking the first bite of ratatouille from Pixar’s film, Ratatouille

This can be a bit of work but it definitely is worth the prep and time. Lovely, lovely, lovely, Coltide. I can’t wait to try more of your delicious work.

The Salad Only Married (Or Extremely Close) Couples Should Eat


Heed my advice on this one pandas, this salad is covered with cilantro, three types of beans, and grilled onions and jalapeños. Mmmhmmm. Not really the first date type of salad or heck, even the 15th but after almost two years of marriage and a kiddo – who cares! It’s damn good!

This Pinto, Black and Red Bean Salad with Grilled Corn and Avocado was insanely yummy and super simple to put together. It doesn’t even have a dressing! The fresh lime juice was just perfect with the almost caramelized onions, spicy jalapeños, sweet corn and buttery avocados. I have to say our veggie only week is going splendidly so far!

Tonight I’m making a watermelon and cucumber salad and yes, a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin – it’s just a little bit of meat, I promise! Stay tuned…

Sufferin’ Succotash

I always know it’s a Kealey house favorite when David gets excited about the leftovers the next day. We’ve decided to go meat-light/almost vegetarian the next few weeks since the two of us love meat and I think it’s always good to push the reset button every once in a while.  What a fantastic dish to start with! If this is how our vegetarian adventure is going to be for the next few weeks I’m pumped!

This Summer Succotash Gratin recipe by Chef Michael Romano is super simple and I liked that you can easily tweak it to include any kind of veggies you might have laying around. I know there are times that we just haven’t gone through all of our veggies in the crisper and this is a perfect way to use them up deliciously. I included some ripe tomatoes and mushrooms to our mix and then followed everything else just as it called for. This is definitely my go-to recipe when I’m in a time crunch and a perfect summer vegetable dish. Yum!


Summer vegetable succotash gratin A130326 FW Handbook July 2013


My New Favorite Products

I’m just going to be honest here, I hate shopping. Not loathe, not severely dislike, hate. It’s a strong word and one I don’t use very often but for some reason, I was born without the shopping gene. But, at least once or twice a year, I have to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get a few things so I don’t look like I l’m from 1995…or, is that year back in style? If only I could be like the fabulous Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love but fear I’m more like Steve Carrell.  I did a little new mom product shopping and let me first just say that all of the products mentioned here are by my own discovery. Haha, that’s laughable to think anyone would think that brands approached me but just thought I would let you know.

There’s this absolutely hilarious article in The Huffington Post that said most new moms end up looking and smelling like a homeless yoga instructor because you honestly do think that today *fist shake* you will get in that workout and take a shower. Spoiler alert, you won’t. I would like to add on to that and say my high reaching goal each day is to not look too dead. While I don’t spend too much time on myself in the morning, between breakfast, tummy time, changing Lila, getting everything ready for school and a quick smooch with my adorable husband, I rely on these five products before I walk out the door to ensure I look like I’m part of the land of the living. It takes five minutes and bam, no zombie Emily!  In case any of you are in need of a little beauty boost here’s my list:

(1) Dove Dry Shampoo – god bless this spray. The aforementioned shower issue really becomes less of one with this glorious spray since it takes my oil slicked roots (from days of not washing) and brings them back to life. Plus, it smells good and not like baby vomit.


(2) Boots No. 7 Stay Perfect Smoothing Eye Shadow in Bronze – When I found out Boots was coming stateside I did a little jig as I love their products and this shadow is the perfect hint of color that stays on all day long with no smears or smudges.


(3) Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Darkspot Concealer + Treatment – Yeah, you might have gotten dark spots in college but let me tell you, the first three months with a newborn gives you a whole new appreciation for how effing dark this area can get and this stuff is like crack. One – or twenty – swipe(s) and you look like you’ve slept the whole night. Combine with dry shampoo and you start looking half way normal. See where I’m going with this?


(4) L’oreal Colour Riche Lip Balm in Nourishing Nude – another thing that happens from lack of sleep…mouthbreathing. My lips got so dry, to be honest I think from snoring and sleeping upright in our rocker that this lip balm with just the littlest hint of color keeps my lips moisturized and pretty…perfect!


(5) Sonia Kashuk Chic Luminosity Highlighter Stick – the final swipe I do before walking out the door to give what is otherwise dull skin a little kick and shine.


Ok, back to our regularly scheduled cooking blog, I’ve got some tasty recipes to try next week and will keep you posted. Anything out there that is a must try ladies and gents?



The Healthiest Meals on Earth

That’s the title of the book I picked up the other day…and I say, bring it! The book is based on the concept of a Polymeal, basically, a perfectly balanced diet or as they state: ” Fish, garlic, almonds, fruit, vegetables, dark chocolate, all polished off with a nice little glass of red wine.” They snagged me with those last two.

One thing I noticed but wasn’t expecting when we had Lila was that you start thinking about your mortality and how much you yearn to stick around to not miss one precious moment. This desire lead me to wanting to eat better, get back on my exercise regimen (it’s much harder than I thought it would be after having a baby) and just being good to ourselves so we can be here for her. I picked this book up as a means to end. A way to get us on track and start thinking about everything we are eating and, in the long run, keep our tickers going.

I tried the first Polymeal with like-minded friends last night and gosh, it was good. The meal consisted of Broiled Salmon with Tamari-Orange Marinade; Wild Rice and Green Beans with Shitake Saute and Dandelion Greens with Warm Sesame Dressing. There is also a suggested Spiced Pear Sorbet but I didn’t have five hours of freezing time available so, we scratched that. As promised in the book, the recipes were easy to follow, simple in approach and super delicious. We all agreed that it was perfect portions and felt full but not busting a gut full.

I don’t think I have to tell you all of the health benefits of salmon since they have been touted time and time again (love those Omega-3s) but did you know dandelion greens rank among the top four green vegetables in terms of their overall nutritional value? According to the book, “…and its Latin name – taraxacum officinale – actually means ‘official remedy for the disorders.’ Probably at the top of the list of things dandelion is good for is helping the liver do its job of detoxifying.” I know we could all use that, right?

I can’t share the recipes here, but highly recommend you scoop up a copy right away and follow along with me as I plan to make all the recipes in the book and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!



The Absolute, Hands Down, Best Way to Cook a Steak…

Sooooo, I’m a red meat lover, big time. I recall when I use to travel a lot for work, the one thing I wanted when I got off the plane was a big, juicy steak, well, and a glass of wine (or two). I’ve tried cooking steak every which way you can imagine – on the grill; on a myriad of pans on the stove or in the oven; broiling, blah, blah, blah, blah, and it never seemed to really get it just right. A few years ago we went for a blogger tour of Ruth Chris’ Steak House and THAT was a perfect steak. We kept searching for a similar method of how they cook their steaks until one night my husband came across this brilliant one from the oh-so-loved Sir Alton Brown. Yes, I Sir’ed him because if this man was British he would be knighted for his contributions to the food community.

What I love about this method, is that while it works beautifully on a big ol’ ribeye, it can work on just about any cut of steak. You get a nice crisp sear and a perfectly cooked interior. If you want a little more well done, just up to cooking times on each side and in the oven to get it to your desired degree of doneness. We actually have tossed out all other methods since this one nails it every time. Fair warning though, turn off your smoke detector for the duration of cooking because there will be some smoke from you oven with it being that high in temperature. Trust me, you won’t mind once you’ve taken one bite of your perfectly cooked steak. Wow, I really want a steak right now, who’s with me?