Friday, September 30, 2011

Recipe Revisited–GF Olive Garden Toscana Soup

This post was originally posted in February of this year, but with the cooler weather being forecasted for this weekend, it’s time to revisit!!

An Italian Feast…in Huntersville

This past weekend, my family had a get together to continue celebrating my bestie’s birthday. The theme of the party, as chosen by my sister, was Italian Feast. There were big plans for homemade noodles, meatballs, and chicken parm. But I was most excited about a new soup that my sister was going to make.

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This soup is an exact replica of a soup at The Olive Garden: Zuppa Toscana, which I’d never had but have heard is really great.

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It’s pretty easy, and DELICIOUS! Kale- yum, Sausage-yum, Potato-yum, Bacon- DOUBLE yum!

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My sister followed this recipe, but instead of bouillon cubes and water, she used Rachel Ray chicken stock. She also made her soup in her kitchen kettle. Do you guys have one of these? One of my good friends gave us one as a wedding gift, and we just love it!

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But back to the soup. Creamy, dreamy with a little crunch. Easy to make. Quick to eat. I highly suggest making this soup; I know it’s going to go on my menu for next week!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recipe Fail–P.F. Chang’s Win

Last night I worked on a new recipe that I was really excited to share with you: Shredded Brussel Sprouts with smoked bacon and caramelized onion. I even documented each step and wrote down the measurements.

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But mid way through, I made a terrible mistake. I needed to let the bacon crisp a bit before adding in the shredded sprouts. But I was chatting with Parrish and buzzing around the kitchen and just…forgot.

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And so when I added the sprouts I instantly knew. It made the layer too thick, and some of the bacon couldn’t sit on the bottom of the pan. So after about 10 minutes of cooking, some of the dish was burnt and the top was raw. Raw bacon = no bueno

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So we moved on to Plan B.

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or should I say plan P.F.

Luckily (or unluckily?) we live within five minutes of a P.F. Chang’s, so Parrish made the decision within seconds of me standing over the frying pan declaring “I don’t know what to do”. He’s smart like that!

And I’m actually convinced that it was meant to be, because P.F. threw in a free order of gluten free lettuce wraps…

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just because they’re sweeties like that!

But you know what was NOT meant to be? Leaving the burnt brussels in the frying pan…on the stove….out overnight. We woke up this morning to an INCREDIBLY stinky kitchen and living room.


I will try this recipe again! I am determined. And hey, if I fail there’s always plan B. Winking smile

Plus this isn’t the first time we’ve had to resort to plan B! Remember this recipe fail? Eesh.

Have you ever had a recipe fail? What’s your plan B?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How You Like These…Cherries

I absolutely LOVE cherries, even if I don’t get to eat them too often. They’re usually WAY out of my grocery budget, so trust that when they go on sale I typically stock up!

But yesterday ended up being a pretty big CHERRY day. It started when I opened a package that LARABAR had sent me while I was on vacation:

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Umm…could it get any cuter? Why yes.

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Yes it could. And I absolutely agree!

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The new Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte LARABAR. Bonus points, it matched my dress!

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Super Double Bonus Points:

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it’s freakin’ delicious!

Triple Bonus Points: it’s fair trade chocolate ya’ll!

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Look for it!

Then I continued to cherry it up with a bit o’ medicine:

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EVERYONE at work is sick with a cold! And yesterday morning I woke up with the all too familiar drainage and weird-o head feeling. Nu-uh. So I remembered what one of my vendors told me about Umcka and so I swung/swang into Whole Foods and picked up a bottle.

To my surprise, it’s positively delicious.

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Maybe since I never eat candy, I’m a little out of touch, but this tasted just like candy to me. Three times a day, don’t mind if I do.

Double surprise, it seems to be working…that had better not jinx it.

And even though it’s not cherry, it’s red and a fruit, I ended my fruity day with:

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Pomegranate Blueberry Naked Juice


but here’s my beef:

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gosh darn it if this little bottle isn’t TWO servings! You know good and well that it’s hard to just drink half the bottle! But at 300 calories, that’s my two snacks for the day! So I cut that sucker with sparkling water,

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ensuring that I stuck to the serving size. PLUS now I have the other half of that bottle waiting for me at work today.

AND we all know, everything’s better with bubbles!


NERDS! I still haven’t had the chance to watch the new Gossip Girl!

Full time job + School = no buneno…or at least no tv time

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quinoa Roasted Veggie Mess

All over the blogosphere, pumpkin recipes are cropping up. Cinnamon, cloves, allspice; it’s everywhere! And even though fall is my favorite season (what’s not to love?!), I’m not ready to let summer go!

Don’t get me wrong, you can keep your hot and humid days with sporadic thunderstorms. But summer has the best produce hands down and I hold on to fresh tomatoes and okra as if my life depended on them. So you will not be seeing any pumpkin recipes on GHM…at least for a few more days!

Last night I made a Veggie Roast of sorts, that started with a base of yellow squash, zucchini, and okra:

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Cut in to bite size chunks and tossed in three tbsp. olive oil and steak seasoning:

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Then I spread the veggies out in a single layer on a baking sheet and popped in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes – until the veggies are browned and roasted.

Side note-

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How the heck do you keep your baking sheets clean?! All of my baking sheets are darkened and stained; no amount of scrubbing can clean them!

While the veggies roasted, I sliced cherry tomatoes into quarters and then sautéed with two tbsp. of olive oil and two cubes of frozen minced garlic on medium heat:

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After about 10 minutes, I added in chunks of al fresco chicken sausage – my love!

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BOGO at Harris Teeter until tomorrow!

Tossed in with the tomatoes and 1/4 cup chopped onion:

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And left on the burner at medium heat for about 10 minutes.

While all this was cooking, I also prepared 1/3 cup quinoa. And once it was finished, I added that to the sausage/tomato combo and removed from the burner. That way the flavors meld but the quinoa didn’t dry out.

Once my veggies were finished roasting, I tossed everything together and VOILA!

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SUPER easy and filling supper!

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and yummy. Don’t forget yummy!

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The tomatoes and garlic act as a sort of dressing for the meal, and really bring together the flavors from the sausage and roasted veggies. I seriously could eat roasted okra all day long. Mmmmmmm

Busy day today filled with work and school! But I’m so excited to watch my recorded episode of Gossip Girl! No spoilers!!! Winking smile

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting back in to the swing…

I love a vacation BUT I’m really happy to be home…even if it means no more king size bed!

And although I know Max is happy to be home and on his regular nap schedule, he does miss the ocean wind in his ears!

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We actually got home around noon on Saturday, but I worked on laundry ALL dang day! I wish I had kept track of how many loads, but since we took all our own linens to the beach house to save money, it was certainly over ten! Thankfully Clemson and Florida gave me a great game to watch….which I can say since my team won!

I can’t believe it’s been almost an ENTIRE year since this game!

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But back to this weekend.

Between the laundry and the game, Saturday was booked; so I didn’t get to work on any of my other chores until Sunday. But as nerdy as it sounds, I was really excited to grocery shop! AND drive my car! I can’t drive a manual (which is what Parrish’s car is) so I hadn’t driven in over a week.

…and I may or may not have made a pit stop at Nordstrom Rack…and Moonberries.

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In the bowl: Pumpkin Pie Spice, Cappuccino, and Vanilla fro-yo. Best part of Moonberries? They label their yogurts gluten free on each placard, so you know which flavors you can have! ALSO the pumpkin pie flavor - YUM

All in all, it was a really good weekend. And yes, the grocery store was fun!

AND….about last week. A few of you emailed and even bestie mentioned it on the phone. What happened last week? And all I can say is – life happened. In all honesty, it wasn’t even because I was on vacation; I just didn’t have anything to say. Since my grandfather’s passing, I just haven’t felt much like myself. I tried ‘fake it till you make it’ and it worked overall but grief is a funny thing. It just keeps coming in waves and I’m trying to hang on as best I can.

But I am so thankful for your continued support and emails. It’s nice to have someone to process things with, and I love the community we create here together. And it’s further proof that I need to get my butt in gear and work on some extra content to post when life happens again. (Because we all know it will)

Hope you’re having a great Monday! It feels so good to be back Smile

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Vacation Education

Vacations are typically a time to relax, unwind, and let your brain take a break, but I feel like over the past few days, I have learned a lot!

I learned that if my husband could do anything…

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it would be fishing. He has really re-ignited his love for this sport since we’ve been here.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be sunny to be a beautiful day at the beach…

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and that beach cover-ups are the most comfortable item of clothing in the world!

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Also, Max is Captain Eyes Closed in pretty much all pictures, like the above where he’s smiling so hard his eyes are closed. And below…

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where he’s played so hard that his eyes are closed.

I’ve also learned that I REALLY need to get a king size bed:

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and that you don’t have to make your bed when you’re on vacation.

Parrish has learned what I actually knew all along: Mason jars are good for everything…

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even fancy occasions!

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And I’ve learned that turning 30 is no big deal -

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Although the cake may be a fire hazard!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day Two–Fishing

Our first full day at the beach was a success!


Sun for me!


Fishing for him!

And while the sun is being elusive today, we’re getting ready to hit the beach again. Fishing for two and digging for Max.

Enjoy the day!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thank You

That’s really all I can say. Thank you so much for being the most wonderful readers and friends. Between comments, emails, and chats, your kind words filled me up and reminded me that we’re all connected through our faith and love. It was a hard post to write, but that’s the great part about blogging, it helps you process things with the help of others.

You know what else helps? Knowing that you have a yummy gluten free breakfast that you can eat in the hotel!

Glutenfreeda Instant Oatmeal is DELICIOUS! Followed up with a protein shake on the side, this breakfast really fueled me for Saturday.

Needless to say, Parrish’s surprise for our anniversary yesterday and his birthday this week, had to be revealed sooner than I wanted. But that doesn’t really matter.

So after a whirlwind trip to SC…

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we’re at the beach. We were able to celebrate our wedding anniversary yesterday with family, just the way we wanted. And now we’re celebrating Parrish’s birthday for the full week.

He’s pretty special.