One of the biggest reasons we launched Southern Newlywed is because we know so many of our readers come to us before they’re even engaged, follow along as they plan their weddings, and then stick around long after their big days…and we LOVE that! Laura is one of those gals, and she is as sweet and Southern as they come–something you can see clearly in her and Geoff’s beautiful North Carolina wedding that we featured over a year ago! We were delighted when Laura shared some of her newlywed kitchen tips with us, as well as her ten favorite recipes, including a special one from her momma that we can’t wait to try!
By day: I am an administrative assistant for state-wide educational grant and Geoff is a high school history and civics teacher.
How they met: We met in the Single Adult Sunday School class at our church. I was new to the area and was hoping to make some new friends. Happily, Geoff became one of those friends, and over time, my best friend!
Their wedding: We got married on a gorgeous fall day in North Carolina. We had a church ceremony and a tented outdoor reception, and we were surrounded by family and friends who came to celebrate with us. Our day included kettle corn, Cheerwine, and cornhole, it doesn’t get much better than that! Almost two years later, we still remember it as the happiest day of our lives, and I often say to Geoff that I wish we could get married again since we had such a good time on our wedding day. (P.S. See their darling wedding here!)
Meal planning: I do all of the meal planning. I only began consistently meal planning at the beginning of this year, and since doing so, it has made such an impact on our daily lives. We have saved money by not going out to eat as often and I no longer get stressed at 5:00 wondering what I should make. On Sunday afternoons, I sit down and plan out the upcoming week’s meals (I love using my Emily Ley Simplified Planner to do this). I usually choose simple recipes or crockpot meals for weeknights and time-intensive or new recipes for weekends. Do not underestimate the power of meal planning!
The cooking: I do most of the cooking. I have both Italian and Southern roots, so feeding people is one of my love languages :) I really do enjoy cooking and baking, so I don’t mind taking on this responsibility. However, if I am having a busy week at work, Geoff is definitely willing to step in and make dinner for us. I must admit, he makes an excellent spaghetti sauce–it’s even better than my Momma’s (but don’t tell her I said that!).
Favorite meal-related memory: I think some of our favorite meal-related memories have come from introducing each other to our respective family’s food traditions. Geoff’s family always celebrates birthdays with a lunch of “steak and cake,” so after we were married, they had a steak and cake lunch for my birthday, which really made me feel like I had become a part of their family. My family always has Chinese food on Christmas Eve (it’s a long story), and I love having Geoff be a part of that tradition now. We’ve also started creating some of our own food traditions and we’re looking forward to the memories we will make surrounding those traditions in the years to come.
Top ten favorite recipes:
1. Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies: This recipe lives up to its name–it is definitely the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have found. The secret is to cream the butter and sugar together for at least five minutes. This recipe makes a large batch, so I usually only bake half of the dough at a time, and I freeze the other half for later use.
2. Farfalle with Chicken, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese: This is an excellent meal to make when you are having friends over and you want to make something a little fancy. It’s a relatively simple recipe, but it looks and tastes like you spent hours on it. Serve it with some crusty bread and a good wine and you are all set.
3. Summer Orzo Pasta Salad: I love this pasta salad–it is light and refreshing, and makes the perfect side to take to summer cookouts or picnics. I’ve already made it three times in the past two months!
4. and 5. Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia and Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs: I am always on the hunt for quick and easy weeknight meals. Both of these recipes taste great and are ready in under 30 minutes. They are also my husband’s favorite weeknight meals.
6. Pioneer Woman Black-Eyed Pea Dip: Is there anything better than “game day” food? I don’t think so. This black-eyed pea dip is easy to make and so yummy, it’s always a crowd pleaser during football season. I also make this dip on New Year’s Day so we can make sure we get our fill of black-eyed peas for the new year.
7. Pomegranate Jeweled White Cheddar, Toasted Almond, and Crispy Sage Cheeseball: You can’t get much more Southern than a cheeseball, and this one is delicious. It can be rather time-intensive, but it is a beautiful addition to any holiday buffet.
8. Crunchy Crab Cakes: This is my go-to recipe for date nights at home. It’s a little more special than our usual weeknight dinners, but it’s easy enough to make so that I’m not stuck in the kitchen all evening.
9. Cinnamon Rolls: I’ve tried multiple cinnamon roll recipes and this one is definitely my favorite. It might seem a little intimidating since it is a yeast dough, but believe me when I say that it’s hard to mess up. Even if your dough doesn’t rise like you expect it to, it will still taste great!
10. Blueberry Cream Pie: This is a recipe that was passed down to me by my Momma. It is definitely one of my favorite summer desserts and it is so easy to make. The recipe makes two pies, so keep one and share the other with friends or neighbors.
2 9″ graham cracker pie crusts
8 oz. block of cream cheese (softened)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 large container of Cool Whip (thawed)
2 pints of blueberries
Use an electric mixer to whip together softened cream cheese, condensed milk, and lemon juice. Whip until smooth (this may take several minutes). Add thawed Cool Whip and mix in well. Add blueberries (stir in by hand gently so berries stay whole). Pour into pie crusts and chill.
Photography: McDorman Photography