[life] hello again!


Hi again world!

Jen and I have been pretty MIA on the ol’ blog this past year…but we are excited to announce that we are starting it up again!  We have a lot of fun ideas that we are looking forward to starting, and an exciting new collaboration that we will be filling you in on soon!  We are also going to be redesigning the site…so thank you for your patience with all of this, and stay tuned for some more JtoZ soon!

xo Amy

photo by Kate LeSueur


[J’s Kitchen]: peaches + cream

On a recent drive out to the hill country with my dad, we stopped at one of the many roadside stands along 290 and picked up a basket of the #bestpeachesintheworld


The first few went into a smoothie, the next over a bowl of Bluebell  ice cream, and the remaining into a peach cobbler recipe that I wish I could call my own, but in fact, must give credit to Southern Living.

8 simple ingredients. 45 minute bake time. Easy breezy.

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar, divided

1 tbsp baking powder

1 cup milk

4 cups fresh peach slices

1 tbsp lemon juice

ground cinnamon



melt butter into a 13×9 inch baking dish

combine 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder | add milk & stir | pour batter over butter

combine peaches, remaining sugar and lemon juice into pot on stove top | stir constantly until boiling | then simply pour over batter | sprinkle cinnamon on top

bake at 375 for 40-45 or until golden brown on top.

*Recipe serves 10. I divided all ingredients in half and made a smaller cobbler

**a little extra peach, lemon juice and cinnamon never hurt anyone 🙂

best served a la mode



Sneak Peek

Now that summer has officially begun, I’ve decided to come out of hibernation. It was a loooooong winter for J but I’m back!

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come next week!


[before and after] La Casa // paint and floors

Who’s ready for some before/afters??

 When we first set eyes on this glorious duplex, the WHOLE thing (inside/outside/floors/walls) was a stunning shade of ….TAN.  boo. boo on tan.  boo on tan covering every inch.

SO, we knew that needed to be changed asap.  My family, Bryan, and I worked many long hard hours on converting this tan-beauty into a fresh new space with white (crisp, clean) walls, and *new* laminate hardwood floors.

Our Friday nights quickly turned into nights like this (please note the yucky walls, floor, etc): Hey B!

Here are some glimpse of before:

[kitchen, clearly.]

[View from living room into dining room/kitchen.  We took out that half wall thingy on the left..]

[master bedroom sink area…minus the sink.]

[master bedroom (tan. tan. tan.)]

AND THEN…(after lots of love put into it)….WHITE WALLS AND HARDWOODS!

[hallway looking towards front door]

[master bedroom]

[one of the guest rooms]

[living room!]

[dining room/part of kitchen]

Isn’t it great?!   Down the road I am sure we will add some color to some walls..but there is noting like a clean slate!  And, more importantly, NO MORE TAN!!

More before/afters coming soon!



[Natalie’s Kitchen] 2 // Tuscan Black Kale and Basil Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta and Black Pepper Poached Clams

I want to interrupt Nat’s guest post briefly to say a quick CHEERS to the recent engagement of Natalie and Oliver!  It really feels like yesterday that we were sitting in our apartment in Italy and Nat was telling me all about her new(ish) bf back in the states.  You two were made for each other, and I know y’all will live a life full of love, travel, and great great food 😉

SO SO SO happy for y’all! love, Amy and Jen

Happy to be invited back for my second post on From J to Z. I thought I’d pare it down a bit giving you a twist on an old classic, the recipe for which I picked up during my time in Italy. Amy and I actually lived together, with the most special Florentine family you could hope to meet, one-hundred-and-five marble stairs above the intersection of Cento Stelle and Calatafimi. Our Italian Mama made pesto for us on our first night in their home and eventually agreed to teach me the recipe (see original recipe scribbles below). I usually don’t deviate from this original, but I couldn’t resist testing this version I conjured while lingering by the fish counter a few weeks ago. Ssshhh, don’t tell the Italians. This week, impress someone worthy with this Tuscan Black Kale and Basil Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta and Black Pepper Poached Clams.


For the Pesto

1½  cups Tuscan black kale, washed, dried!, and gently packed

1 cup basil, washed, dried!, and gently packed

heaping ½ cup Parmesan, cubed

½ cup pine nuts, raw

1 tsp kosher salt

olive oil

Method—This is simple, really. Just gather the ingredients, treat them well (tell them you love them), and then hands off. It’s done. Add the Parm, pine nuts, basil, kale, and salt to a food processor. Pulse until everything has been roughly chopped and barely holds together in a paste. Empty the mixture into a medium mixing bowl and stream in good olive oil, steadily stirring until you have a silky consistency. Taste. Is it delish? I thought so. Set aside to tend to the clams.

For the Clams

freshly scrubbed littleneck clams (8-12 per person)

½ cup water

hefty amount of black pepper (we’re talking freshly ground here, not sprinkled from that perforated-top Kroger Foods pepper tin that your mom supplied you with for your first pantry)

2 tbsp unsalted butter

Method—Add the clams and water to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cover. Once the water has come to a boil peek inside to see if any of those bivalves have succumb to their steamy fate. Remove the clams from the pan as they open (this should take between 6 and 12ish minutes) and set aside until they have cooled enough to handle. Pluck meat and then discard the shells.

There should be a good amount of liquid in the bottom of your sauté pan. Turn the heat on and reduce until the flavor concentrates, but the broth is not too salty. You can always add a few tablespoons of water if you take it too far. Add the butter, all of that fresh pepper, and the clams, basting them in the hot liquid for one point five to two minutes…just until they’re perfectly coated and cooked.

Meanwhile cook ½ lb pasta in generously salted water until al dente and drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. Add ½ cup of the pesto, a few tablespoons of reserved water and a few tablespoons of the clam broth to the pasta pot. Add pasta and toss until well coated, adding more pesto as needed. Divvy. Top each serving with the black pepper clams and the rest of the clammy broth. Serve with an artfully cut slice of lemon. Enjoooooy. Send me a love letter.

**Nat’s original recipe sketch from our time in Italy, when our host mama told us this recipe**

[life] Long time…no blog

Oh hey friends!

So…sorry about this looong overdue blog post!  The last month+ has been a whirlwind for both Jen and me, so we (sadly) had to put a little pause on our blog.  BUT, one of the perks of working at a school is that…ITS SUMMER TIME NOW!

Bryan and I [officially!!] moved into LA CASA last weekend, so we are (slowly but surely) getting settled in!  I have a lot of updates from the last post on La Casa, and I hope to have many more over the summer!  Thanks for being patient with us…and hopefully we can make up for lost time with lots of summer treats!  On that note- Jen and I are off to officially kick off the summer with a trip to her ranch: river swimming, beer drinking, star-gazing…

Cheers to summer y’all!


J and Z

*pic from our Thailand trip last summer…miss that place!

[life] BIG news on the homefront!

As of a few weeks ago, Bryan and I are officially going to be moving into a new home!!  “La Casa”, as we like to call it, is a TOTAL fixer upper, aka, a DIY DREAM.  We will be doing everything to it from painting (exterior and interior), floors, landscaping, etc.  If you are not into “before and afters”, feel free to tune me out for the next few months ;).  I can’t wait to get my hands on this new project and make it my own. Living in a house (with a yard!!!) is also going to allow Bryan and I to live out our (newly found) farm dreams…chickens! dogs! vegetable gardens! oh my!  For those of you out there that have tackled many a home improvement project…send your advice our way!! I leave you with our first ‘before and after’ (although..its really a before..and work in progress)…


Next up…choosing paint colors!  Turns out I could stare at the paint colors at Home Depot for days…

We are also in the process of picking out a laminate wood floor which they swear is ‘easy to install’…so I’ll keep you posted on that one!

Wish us luck, and stay tuned for (many!) more updates!



[Amy’s Kitchen] Melon Salsa

For this fresh, springtime salsa, you will need:

1/2 honeydew melon

1/2 cantaloupe melon




1/2 red onion

dash of sea salt

Dice up ingredients (minus the lime and salt).  Mix. Add/subtract ingredients to taste. Squeeze lime on top, sprinkle sea salt on top.  Serve with tortilla chips, or on top of grilled fish or chicken.  Enjoy!



*recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen