We have concocted the perfect cocktail for your weekend activities. The best part is you can customize it as you see fit (or your tastebuds do). Since I love the blueberry lemonade at Mammy’s Cupboard, I used their recipe as a base and built this drink from there. Get the girls together and enjoy!

Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail (or Champade)

1 cup blueberry juice

1 lemonade concentrate, thawed

Water

Champagne

Vodka

Combine the juice and lemonade mixture in a pitcher and fill with water. To adjust the sweetness, add sugar to taste. Depending on your preference, top off each glass you pour with either champagne or a shot of vodka (or both) and enjoy!

Remember that one-pan fish dinner we made a couple of weeks ago? I revisited it with a Mexican flair for our first Lenten Friday feast last week. I modified the spice mixture and changed some of the vegetable to fit a fajita-like topping for our tacos. Also, we went light by using lettuce as our wrap versus traditional tortillas. Here’s what we ended up with:

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It was delish! The peppers and onions were perfect. And the fish topped with a dab of guacamole and the fresh lime crema sauce … YUM!

Fish Tacos with Marinated Vegetables and Lime Crema

For the marinade:

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon coriander

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

For the tacos:

8 white perch fillets, dried completely

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1/2 Vidalia onion, sliced thinly

1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 orange bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 head bib or large leaf lettuce

For crema:

1/4 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients together. Add the peppers, tomatoes, and onions; and toss to coat with the sauce. With a large slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the vegetables to a large baking sheet. Keep the vegetables to one side or one half of the baking sheet and make sure they are spread out in one layer. Now, add the fish to the remaining sauce, toss to coat. Transfer the fish to the baking sheet next to the vegetables and pour any remaining sauce on top. Lightly sprinkle the fish and vegetables with a little salt. Bake in the 450 degrees heated oven for 15 minutes. Then transfer the baking sheet to the top oven rack and broil for another 3 – 5 minutes, watching carefully. The cherry tomatoes should begin to pop under the broiler. When ready, remove the tray from the oven.

To prepare the crema, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and chill until ready to serve. Build your tacos into the lettuce piece and top with crema, guacamole, or salsa.

Ok, if you’ve been following along on Snapchat, you know that my parents and their four dogs have moved in with me while they work on putting down a new floor at home. Now, this would be completely fine (I mean, I love all dogs more than humans.), but it has been raining for 40 days and 40 nights. So, my yard is a mud pit. Every surface is covered in sheets and furniture covers. We go through at least 4 or 5 towels a day. Thank God I got a new washer and dryer last year. Also, these labs are very lovable but large. They could be in a sound sleep one second and in your face for a hug and make out the next. You have to be on guard at all times.

My main point to bring them up is that you can imagine the wet dog scent permeating throughout my house. I luckily came across a post about simmer pots early last week and how they work better at neutralizing odor than candles. Also, Joanna Gaines swears by them; and we all know if Jo loves it, I love it more. So, I gave them a try. The coffee ground and vanilla pot I first tried didn’t bring me joy. There was little to no scent, and I needed major smell fast. So, I went for a lime and rosemary concoction and added vanilla. It was delicious smelling. You need to try this as soon as possible. Fun fact, if you leave the lid on the pot for a while, the scent will be stronger if you need it quickly before guests show up.

Lime and Rosemary Simmer Pot with Vanilla

4 limes

6 sprigs rosemary

4 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Water

Bring a heavy pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop in the rosemary (I pulled the leaves from the stems to get the oils going). Slice 3 of the limes and juice on of the limes into the pot. Stir and bring back to a boil. Add the vanilla. Stir. Turn the heat down and let simmer for several hours. Watch the water level and add more as needed.

Have I mentioned we have an abundance of white perch in the Guido freezer? So new recipes to try are high on our list of things to find in magazines, cookbooks, cooking shows, and (of course) Pinterest. This week, I turned to Pinterest to find a fish and veggie recipe that was light and would be divine over rice. And I found it. Behold — the one sheet white perch feast dressed in a dill, oregano, and coriander olive oil dressing. The recipe called for halibut, but we deal in perch.

One-sheet White Perch with Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes

For the sauce:

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic

2 teaspoons dill weed

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

For the fish:

1 pound fresh green beans

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly

4 – 8 white perch fillets, dried completely

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sauce ingredients together. Add the green beans, tomatoes, and onions; and toss to coat with the sauce. With a large slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the vegetables to a large baking sheet. Keep the vegetables to one side or one half of the baking sheet and make sure they are spread out in one layer. Now, add the fish to the remaining sauce, toss to coat. Transfer the fish to the baking sheet next to the vegetables and pour any remaining sauce on top. Lightly sprinkle the fish and vegetables with a little seasoned salt. Bake in the 450 degrees heated oven for 15 minutes. Then transfer the baking sheet to the top oven rack and broil for another 3 – 5 minutes, watching carefully. The cherry tomatoes should begin to pop under the broiler. When ready, remove the tray from the oven. Serve immediately over wild rice.

We love a good Brussels sprout recipe. Whether roasted or thrown in a casserole, we’ve tried several ways to cook up the tiny cabbages. Here is one way I tried for Christmas Eve as an easy pick up. It was one of those Facebook recipes from Delish that popped up on my feed. I thought, why not? While it is a bit time consuming, the end product is pretty good.

Stuffed Brussels Sprouts

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet with cooking spray. In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch Brussels sprouts until bright green, 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water, then drain. Using a small spoon, scoop out insides of sprouts, then transfer hollowed sprouts to a prepared baking sheet. In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, Parmesan, bread crumbs, lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into Brussels sprouts, and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Bake until ricotta mixture is warmed through and Brussels sprouts are crispy, 20 to 25 minutes.

There’s only one week left until Christmas Day, and I thought I’d come from under my research in postpartum blogs and recipes of lactation cookies (If you missed it, baby Wes is finally here; and I have the cutest cousin in the world now.) to share my favorite part of Christmas with you.

Ever since my Nannie, Doris Guido, passed away 10 years ago, Christmas has been a little grayer and a little less magical without her. Thankfully I have several pieces of her around my house to make it feel like she’s still around, and at Christmas time she’s everywhere because of her ornaments and decor I now call my own.

She was a stickler for her white flocked tree and giving it a very mauve and pastel appearance with its decorations. The living room it lived in was one of antique furniture in floral patterns and pink, plush velvet, so traditional reds and greens just didn’t fit. She also liked to embellish the decor a little (ok, maybe a lot) with little hints of ribbon and holly. Don’t even get me started on her gift wrapping. Each present under the tree was carefully wrapped, tied with a real ribbon, and donned with extras like snowflakes or holly.

However, one little bit of extra has always stuck out to me. Her collection of mid-century ornaments with painted frost over the aqua blue glass tucked in so nicely to her tree. One of the ornaments was special though and received the Nannie touch. She added a small spring of faux holly to the top of the bauble. Today, it is always featured on my bedroom tree with the rest of her ornaments, and it’s my favorite to find the perfect placement for each year.

Having those little pieces of her make Christmas happy again and make these last ten years without her seem a little less gray.