Weekend Wrap Up [Andi’s Dedication]

This past week was a doozy! I accepted an assignment to review 7 live music venues in 7 nights, which meant after working all day, working out and making a quick dinner, I had to get ready and go back out in the cold to all of these venues and listen to music that I wasn’t super pumped about. That being said, I actually enjoyed MOST of the venues and artists. My favorites were definitely open mic night at The Evening Muse and Visulite Theatre. I also enjoyed all the extra time with my husband and am super grateful that he was willing to tag along with me to all of these shows.

IMG_7182This was our millionth try for a picture and my husband was hating the flash. Fun fact: only one of us loves having our picture taken! On Saturday, I had to do my long training run, which wasn’t actually  all that long this week. I did 6.08 miles  and felt pretty good while doing it. Didn’t hurt that the weather was INCREDIBLE on Saturday.

IMG_7377After the run, we went to a local bar to watch the Hokies (I’m embarrassed to say that) and the Harvard/Yale game (Hooray, Harvard!). Saturday ended with our 6th show of the week and my mom was in town so she got to go with us. Mom came in to celebrate my niece’s baptism on Sunday. So glad we were able to be part of such a special day in Andi’s life and loved spending time with the family.

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I made some whoopie pies for dessert after the dedication. My sister-in-law served us a delicious lunch and we all got to watch my nephew Damon show off for his whole big family. Now, back to those whoopie pies. 5 ingredients and absolutely delicious!

IMG_7203Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I’ve been baking a ton and trying out lots of Pinterest recipes. Today, I made three kinds of sweet potato pies. I love the bite-size pies because you can try all three kinds and still have less calories than you would with a normal slice of pie! I also made chocolate chip Nutella cookies and apple butter cookies with my Paw Paw’s apple butter. Excited to spend this week with both of our families and of course, our sweet pups!

IMG_7353Happy almost Thanksgiving! Hope you are enjoying taste-testing all of your creations – or at least getting ready to share in some special time with family and a big meal, too!

Guyday Friday [Perfect Pancakes]

Creating pancakes for breakfast seemed hard for the longest time…. and then I actually tried. And they weren’t half bad. And they’re actually quite easy (which I can say now that I’ve been making them for years, but trust me, they’re not that hard!).

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To make the easiest pancakes you’ll ever make, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (or 1 cup white flour, 1/2 cup wheat flour)
  • tablespoons sugar
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 TBS coconut oil (can use 2 TBS vegetable oil if coconut oil isn’t in your pantry!)
  • Griddle (I love this one that we got for our wedding!) or hot non-stick skillet with 1 TBS melted butter

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Directions:

  • Mix the dry ingredients first
  • Pour in 1 1/4 cup milk (you may need more but hold off for now), mix in with dry ingredients
  • Add the eggs, vanilla and oil, use whisk to mix  (it shouldn’t be totally smooth)
  • IF you want to add in fruit (or chocolate chips, now is the time – add and mix well

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  • Griddle should be heated to 350 degrees, or skillet on med-high heat
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  • Use 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop pancakes on skillet/griddle

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  • Once you see bubbles start appearing on side that’s facing up, you can flip to the other side
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  • It should take about 2 minutes on each side but depends on how big/thick your pancakes are
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  • Serve immediately. If you have extras, put them in tupperware or a sandwich bag and refrigerate them.

PS – we’ve been drinking almond milk for a while now and recently discovered this disclaimer on the back of the carton:

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“SILK ALMOND MILK WILL STAY FRESH 7-10 DAYS IN REFRIGERATOR AFTER OPENING”

…even though the expiration date is in December? Gross. Now we write the date in permanent marker on the cap once we open the carton. So, yeah.

Anyway, give the pancakes a shot. The first one is always the trickiest. And your whole first batch might be a fail, but you’ll get the hang of it. And you’ll love them. Also? It only takes about 15 minutes to make a batch of these babies!

Fatsgiving

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, I figured it’s only appropriate to talk about favorite foods for Thanksgiving dinner. My personal favorite is anything sweet potato, and preferably with marshmallows. I also have become a huge fan of fried turkeys. My in-laws started doing this a few years back, and last year my husband and I (really only him) fried our own.

I used to have a love for corn pudding and now I have a hard time thinking about it. I try to watch what I eat most of the time (with the exception of my cravings for wings and chocolate) and I work out to combat those calories. Thanksgiving is rough, not just with butter and sugar filled foods, but that overwhelming desire to sleep after gobbling up a plate of turkey. Did you know on average, people gain 7 lbs. over the holidays? Doesn’t that number just sound crazy? I can tell when I gain a single pound, and seven sounds like a devastating number.

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Don’t worry, I’m not going to be passing up Thanksgiving dinner, but I am going to try to make healthy decisions leading up to it – and especially the day of, starting with my Shakeology for breakfast! No need to let it all go for one meal. And maybe I’ll only have two slices of pie… (PS – that pie above was baked with love by my chef of a husband!)

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And since this will be my first year not running an organized 5 or 8k in honor of turkey day, I think I might have to do my own. I’m getting towards the middle of my half marathon training at this point, and should be able to do 7.5 by Thanksgiving day. So, at my weight and pace, I’ll burn around 800 calories and carve out room for that pie.

What are your favorite foods to feast on at Thanksgiving (always looking for new recipes!!)? My father-in-law said he wants a sweet potato pie, so I’m going to try those out this week and see if I can make one that’s delicious enough to share!

Guyday Friday

I’ve decided to dedicate all future Friday posts to guys – and cooking for guys. This came after a good guy friend told me he didn’t know how to make scrambled eggs, so he always hard boils his eggs. I wanted to give him some easy recipes that will also be delicious and can provide more than one meal for him. However, before we jump into meal #1, I am DYING to tell you about the next giveaway to raise more funds for the Pretty in Pink Wishes fundraiser and to help those ladies cross more items off their bucket lists.

Some super amazing folks have committed to donating FABULOUS items in order to help raise more money. I won’t tell you what exactly we have so far but I will tell you that we have items from Evelyn Henson, Fiber & Water, Jen Yamzon, Lori Wells, LH Calligraphy and Carolyn Leona (and hopefully more to come!). Go ahead and start donating, anyone who donates $10 or more from today through the end of the giveaway (I’m thinking 12/15 so you can have your items by Christmas??) will be entered! Come back here and comment that you donated!

I decided on Zuppa Toscana for this week’s recipe since the polar vortex has hit us and the weather is below freezing. A bowl of this will warm you right up! I got the recipe originally from my mother-in-law (who is also one of the best cooks I know!) and I’ve doctored it a little to make it my own.

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Shopping list:

1 lb. Italian Sausage (I like hot, choose mild if your tastebuds aren’t in the mood for spicy)
(2) 32.5 oz cartons of chicken broth (or vegetable. Also, I get the lower sodium, organic kind)
1 TBS. pepper flakes
8 oz. of heavy cream (buy the small carton)
9 medium potatoes
1 red onion
4 slices of bacon (optional – I don’t use it personally but if you’re a bacon lover, go for it!)
1 tsp. Garlic (buy the minced garlic in a jar)
1 bunch of kale
1 handful of spinach

Directions: (1 hour prep/cook time)

In a large skillet, brown the sausage and red pepper flakes (should take about 10-15 minutes)

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While the meat is cooking, chop the onion and potatoes.

If using bacon, set aside the sausage and cook the bacon in the same skillet until crisp (about 10 minutes). Drain the grease (leaving a couple tablespoons).

Whether you used just the sausage or the bacon, add in the diced red onion and garlic to your meat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.IMG_6839

In a large pot, mix the broth, peeled and chopped potatoes and bring to a boil. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Mix in the meat, cook on medium for 5 more minutes.

Stir in the heavy cream and cook through (about 5 more minutes).

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Mix in the spinach and kale and let cook for 2 more minutes before serving. Serve immediately.

This should make dinner/lunch for at least a few days and keep you warm and full at the same time. Plus, it’s easily reheated so you can take it to work with you (I LOVE one-container lunches!). It’s super easy and super delicious. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

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Hoping everyone has an AMAZING weekend that’s full of so much joy, oh, and that you stay warm! We’ll be bundled up and rooting on our Hokies (sad face for this season!). At least we’ll have good company at the game!

 

 

Favorite Fall Foods

It looks like these gorgeous days with 70 degree weather are about to leave us, just as we Fall back an hour this weekend. So I’m prepared with warm (mostly healthy) foods that are full of fall flavor.

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For my bridal shower, guests were asked to fill out a recipe card for our adorable monogramed recipe box that my Aunt Joann got us. I love being able to try new recipes and customize them to my tastebuds – and it’s so nice to know that a dear friend or family member gave me one of their favorite recipes. Oh, and I say “my tastebuds” because my husband travels so there are lots of times he doesn’t get to enjoy the delicious meals I make (but I usually send him pictures!).

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My Pumpkin Pancakes that I blogged about earlier this month are definitely one of my favorite flavors this month. They are the right amount of sweet and super savory. I have considered adding in some nuts or chocolate chips but they’re so good as-is that I’m not really sure add-ins are needed. I definitely recommend whipping up a batch of these if you haven’t already!

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My grandfather used to make apple butter with his church every fall and give jars to everyone in the family. I always got two. I love spreading apple butter on biscuits or toast in the fall. This year, I want to try these apple butter cookies and see if they’re as good as they sound. I’m down to my last two jars of apple butter which makes me sad. We’re definitely using it sparingly. There’s something special about it being the apple butter that my Paw Paw made with his own two hands. I hate the thought of not having any more of it.

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Soy lime Salmon and lime cilantro quinoa are another favorite meal. This is a 6 oz. piece of salmon pictured. 4 oz is actually a more appropriate proportion but I didn’t feel like having the guy cut 2 oz. off of it. I usually put a little oil or non-stick spray in the baking dish and preheat the oven to 375. I usually just dash light soy sauce (lower in sodium) on the fish, squeeze lime juice, and sprinkle garlic powder, Himalayan pink salt, and pepper. Bake for somewhere between 15-18 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. Quinoa is a protein packed food. Usually you mix one cup quinoa to two cups water (depending on how many servings you are making). Bring the combination to a boil, lower heat and cover for 10-15 minutes until water is absorbed. Once you’ve lowered the heat, squeeze in some lime juice. I like to use fresh cilantro and mix it in right at the end. The flavors all work so well together!

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Chili is another amazing fall/winter dinner – and so easy! I love that I can make a big pot on Sunday and it lasts the week, making taking lunch to work or dinner when I don’t feel like cooking, super quick! I like to use light sodium beans, and as many kinds as I can find. This particular pot had white beans, light red and dark red kidney beans, and black beans. Be sure to drain all of the beans before tossing in the pot. Since I also L-O-V-E spicy food, I toss in a can of (drained) rotel. A large can of tomato sauce is also needed. I chop up a red onion and green pepper and toss those in. I use lean ground turkey or bison for the meat. You should brown the meat in a skillet before combining it with the other ingredients. I use pepper, red pepper flakes, chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder for spices – use to taste. Once you’ve got everything combined, cook on medium for 10 minutes or so and then simmer for an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like to top mine with jalapenos and a spoonful of sour cream!

Zuppa Toscana is one of my FAVORITE soups (heavy and not healthy!) but I think I’ll hold off a few more weeks before making my first pot. I’d love to hear some of your favorite recipes and add them to my box! Please share in the comments. I promise to post pictures and reviews once I try them!
PS – there are only TWO days left to get in on the Tieks gift card giveaway! Enter NOW!

Weekend Wrap Up

I feel like we did nothing and everything this weekend. JJ Grey and Mofro came to a local theatre that is within walking distance of our house, so we had date night there – with dinner at one of our favorite pizza places beforehand.

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On Friday we felt like we had partied like we were back in college the night before. Funny how much differently three beers impacts you at 28 versus 21. So we hung low and decided to see “Gone Girl” and recreate our first date with a movie and dinner at Fox & Hound. The movie was amazing but sadly ends just the way the book did (which I HATED). However, I loved my dinner and movie date night with him. Saturday, I got up early (feeling better) to run the Rocktoberfest 5-miler with some girlfriends.

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Official results aren’t up yet, but I’m glad I got across the finish line in less than 50 minutes (according to my watch and clock time). On Saturday evening, we got to see one of our dearest friends marry the love of her life. We both met Brandy at work (we started on the same day) and immediately bonded. She is such an amazing person, I can’t possibly tell you how wonderful she is all in one post. So when she called to tell me she and Bill were getting married, I literally squealed (loudly) in the store I was standing in. This weddnig was a long time coming and such an amazing production.

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I say “production” because there was a comedian, pianist, singer, gymnastics performance, and two one-act plays. By far the most interesting wedding reception I have been to in my life. Brandy and Bill were just as wonderful on stage together as they are off. I am so glad we were able so share in their beautiful day! On Sunday, we woke up to rain and sniffles. I made pumpkin pancakes in an attempt to make us feel better. They didn’t do much for the colds we had caught but they sure were tasty!

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Pumpkin Pancakes:

  • 3/4 c. white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 teas. baking powder
  • 1/4 teas. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. pumpkin spice
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix butter, milk, egg and pumpkin puree in another bowl. Slowly blend in the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until well blended. Heat griddle to 300 degrees and pour out 1/4 cup batter onto griddle (or skillet). Cook for about 2 minutes or until little bubbles appear and then flip and cook for 2 more minutes. I imagine these would be delicious with some powdered sugar or whipped cream, but we settled for just maple syrup. I made enough for leftovers for breakfast this morning – still good!

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I tried to ward off my cold symptoms some more with hot yoga but instead just made myself sweaty and dizzy. It did help to stretch out my sore leg muscles after Saturday’s race but I have to admit it was a very unfocused practice. Hoping to kick this cold soon so I can get back to the gym and yoga this week. Hoping we can make it to the pumpkin patch next weekend and finish getting ready for Halloween. How was your weekend?

 

 

Weekend Wrap Up

This past weekend, we took a little trip up to Chapel Hill to watch the Hokies kick some Tarheel booty on the football field. My in-laws live in the area and were sweet enough to let us bring our pups and crash at their house for the weekend.

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Friday night, we went to the Fearrington Granary for dinner. For some reason, we were both craving red meat and ordered burgers and beer upon our arrival. Both were delicious. I think if we lived in Fearrington, we’d eat there at least 3 nights a week.

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On Saturday, we spent the day at Kenan Stadium, cheering on our beloved Hokies. The weather could not have been more perfect. We lathered ourselves in sunscreen beforehand but stupidly didn’t take any extra with us so we both got a little unplanned color.

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I ran into THREE people that have been some of my best friends over the years. Jacqueline and I were inseparable for years 18-20. She graduated college before me but did come back to hang out for special events like my 21st and Quadfest. We only live 1.5 hours apart now but we don’t see each other very often. Looking forward to another hang out session this week when she’s in Charlotte.

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Matt and I kind of grew up together (he was my cousin’s best friend) and we went to college together. We ended up hanging out in the same group, doing silly things like chugging Mad Dog 20/20 and running the beer pong table at parties. And of course, my bestie, Seth, who moved to Charlotte just after I did in 2008. I got him in the break-up with my college boyfriend. Seth is one of my most favorite people in the world – and my husband loves him, too. Actually, my whole family loves him. We laugh constantly when we’re together, like laughing til your tummy hurts, laughing. It’s wonderful.

IMG_5612We were so exhausted after the game (I took a two hour nap) and we wanted to watch the Ole Miss/Alabama game, which left us starving at 7 PM. After half an hour on Yelp providing options for places to go, we decided to head out to either the Singaporian place or the Italian place. Half way there I announced that we should just grab a frozen pizza and a red box movie and curl up on the couch. Winner!

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I am not a fan of pizza (never delivery!) and rarely recommend it for a meal, so my husband was happy to hear this idea out of my mouth. He ended up falling asleep in the movie (Blue Jasmine) and I’m pretty sure I only stayed awake because I had a nap earlier.

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Before we left to come home, we took our boys for a long walk which totally wore them out. It was an amazing weekend (especially with that Hokie “W”). I ended the weekend with an hour and a half of hot yoga with a friend, and started my week feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.