Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Almost Pad Thai

This month has been a whirlwind of dinner parties, brunch, battles (of Sacramento), and my mom finally going back to work! (Hallelujah!) S and I have been so busy, I haven't had much time to post. I just got back from an evening walk and thought I'd share the yummy recipe I adapted tonight.

I've been CRAVING Pad Thai for months now. Of course, no-one in our precious little town sells any. Bless their little hearts. Instead, I've been eating WAY TOO MUCH Lo Mein lately, which is most definitely not on my new healthy routine. Why is when you start making head way, its so easy to get off track? Back to the daily grind of exercising and clean foods.

I found this recipe on Pinterest at here. Thanks They've gone Paleo for the inspiration!

Almost Paleo Pad Thai - adapted from They've gone Paleo

1 12oz pkg  Broccoli Slaw 
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 bag frozen edamame

4 green onions, diced
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

For the sauce:

1/2 cup hot water
2 T tamarind paste
1/4 cup honey
1-2 T garlic chili sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, grated 
1" piece of ginger, grated 

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and set to the side to use later. In a large skillet (or wok if you're fancy) saute the peppers and green onions in a few tbsp coconut oil. (Original recipe called for mushrooms but I despise them!) Add Broccoli Slaw for 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool in a large bowl. Next, cook chicken breasts in coconut oil until done, then dice. While chicken is cooking, throw your frozen edamame in the microwave and cook away! Add chicken and edamame to the veggie mix-- next add sauce and stir. Mix in fresh basil! I got 5 servings out of this, and added a spring roll to the side!

While this wasn't quite Pad Thai, it definitely calmed my craving! I love the use of broccoli slaw in this dish instead of rice noodles. I use Broccoli Slaw in my stir fry AND lettuce wraps. It's such a versatile ingredient!

If you can't find Tamarind Paste, you can omit making your own sauce. Kroger has a packaged sauce that is gluten free, low calorie and low fat that is an easy substitute. It's almost $4.00 for a 1 serving package, so search for Tamarind if you can!

**Another tip I recently found was to freeze my whole ginger root. It makes it super easy to grate for water or cooking. And you don't even have to peel it!


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Derby Day Recap!

Things got pretty busy last week while cooking and prepping for Derby Day. Lots of cooking, grocery shopping and re-decorating were involved. I'm a very lucky lady though-- I had a few great people to help me with all of the last minute details!

One of these days take pictures of the entire process AND the event itself. Each year I get a few more shots in. But looking back I missed so much!

Here are just  a few of the highlights!

The Oaks Lily, Mini Derby Pies, Spiked Mint Lemonade

"Betting Booth for horses and best dressed!

My sweet husband and I -- in our Seersucker and Monograms!
 (dress by Rysa Ruth @ Etsy, Hat by Marley Lilly)

Us with our cousins and dearest friends... 

Guests voted: Best Dressed!
Winners received Bow Tie from TheTieBar
"You're the Mint to my Julep" coozie by Lauren James
also included: Fascinator and Julep Cup!
Nothing says "Derby" like a frosted Mint Julep

Mint Julep Bar

All I could think about during this weekend is how amazing my husband is to enjoy throwing parties, dressing up, and decorating as much as I do. He helped clean the house, landscaped, did laundry and so much more to make this a successful gathering.

                 I failed to take pictures of the food (oops!) but here's what you missed--
Pimento Cheese, Beer Cheese, Baby Hot Browns, Macaroni and Cheese, Fruit Kabobs,                                                  Celery and Beer Cheese, Ham and Biscuits, Boston Butt, Bourbon Chex Mix, & Corn Bread! Yum!



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Derby Week : Bourbon Chex Mix

One of my favorite Derby traditions is making Bourbon Chex Mix. I stumbled upon this recipe a few years ago while googling "Kentucky Derby Party" and many other "Kentucky" and "Derby" variations.

After seeing HOW EASY this recipe was, I knew I was going to be hooked. In fact, my cousin asked me for the recipe a few Christmas' ago and I nearly didn't give it to her. It's so easy, so delicious but makes it look like you slaved for much longer than 30 minutes. Needless to say, I gave her the recipe but have continued to guard it very closely.
Bourbon, Bacon goodness after being pulled from the oven!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Derby Week Prep!

Derby Week is upon us! So I'm back in action! Here's my plans...
Derby Party 2013

After a somewhat long hiatus, I am back (hopefully for good). I have no actual excuse for not blogging, It just hasn't been something on my top priority list the past month or so. With that being said, I need to document my Derby preparations this year, and hopefully next years will be even smoother.

I started hosting Derby Parties about seven or so years ago, and it all began at the nursing home I worked at. I was an Activities Director, and thought it would be loads of fun to have a Derby gathering. That specific year we used the "Talk Derby to Me" theme - including cups, plates, lots of horse decor and of course--- tattoos. We had homemade biscuits with Apple Butter, Butter, Sorghum, Honey, and any other imaginable southern slathering you can think of. I had horse shaped chocolates, but I think those were the only foods we ate. Either way, my residents got a big kick out of it, and hence began my love for The Kentucky Derby.

Derby Parties have evolved in my household, and I now no longer do biscuits only. Now we have Derby Pie, Hot Browns, Beer Cheese, Corn Bread, and the list goes on!

Each year that Seth and I host, we are trying to make things a tad bit easier on ourselves. Our 3rd or so Annual Derby Party, we had taken our recipes to the next level, which took another level of time as well. Everyone left afterwards, and empty bowls were scattered all over our house. We quickly decided that after not having time to eat, we needed to get out of our depressing lonely house and go get dinner. Since then, I'm trying to make sure we both get to eat, spend time with our guests and that our guests stay well after the actual Derby is over to hang out and have fun!

No food left, No guests left equals two sad, hungry hosts
This year I started my Derby Decorating 2 weeks before actual "Derby Week" in hopes that I can dedicate the week of, to cooking and cleaning. Fingers crossed.

Here are a few sneak peaks to the decorations...

Mint Julep Bar
Tonight I'm making pie crust for Derby Pies and gathering my supplies for all my cooking this week! Check back later for recipes and more Derby goodies!



Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't step on a crack or you'll break your mother's... arm?

It is safe to say these past few weeks have been a tad interesting. Three weeks ago tomorrow, my mom slipped on black ice and broke her Shoulder, Arm and Elbow. Ouch! My grandmother and I have been trying to switch up staying with her to help her out, although my granny has helped far more than I have. My mom's Bunco girls have been bringing meals, my sweet friends have been bringing meals, and I'm mainly in charge of prescriptions, Dr's Appointments, etc.

I had a meeting tonight, but it got cancelled, so instead I thought i'd do a little cooking. My mom's friend Joann brought her some yummy Baked Spaghetti last week. That really put me in the mood for my Baked Spaghetti. I found this recipe on Pinterest a few years ago, and it has been my favorite Spaghetti Casserole recipe ever since! The recipe itself is called Scooter's Spaghetti, which has a personal story in relation to the original author. I've adapted it with a few minor thing over the years, but I always call it Scooter's Spaghetti when I serve it. Thanks Scooter!

Scooter’s Spaghetti

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Layered spaghetti casserole topped with french fried onions. 
Adapted from Salad In a Jar

  • 8 ounces (1/2 box) uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 pound italian sausage (or ground beef if you prefer)
  • 1 large can spaghetti sauce (26.5 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ cup chopped red or green peppers 
  • ⅓ cup chopped onions
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • French-fried onions (small can)
  1. Cook spaghetti according to directions on the package. Cook to al dente, drain and set aside.
  2. Brown ground sausage. Drain excess grease. Add spaghetti sauce to skillet and heat.
  3. Combine onions, peppers and coconut oil in small bowl. Cover and microwave 4 minutes on HIGH until soft.
  4. Add cream cheese and milk to vegetables and stir well. (If cream cheese is not soft, nuke it for 20-30 seconds to make it easy to spread.)
  5. Using a 12 x 8-inch baking dish (or something close), assemble in the following order: thin layer of spaghetti sauce, cooked spaghetti, cream cheese/vegetable mixture, remaining spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese (amount subject to your own taste)
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with french-fried onions and continue baking 5 more minutes. (This is the secret ingredient–don’t let them burn.)
Make this ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze without the French Fried onions. Don’t forget to add them 5 minutes before casserole is finished cooking. This a great meal to take to a church potluck or to a new mommy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

catch up, fall behind, bake bread

I'm playing catch up in all aspects of my life right now. Work, house work (which I'm miserably failing at) blog, 10 year reunion planning... the list goes on.

I have no real excuse because we laid low last weekend, reaaaalll low. As in laid by the fire and only got up to refill sweet tea low. It was marvelous. We had our usual Saturday morning coffee date, actually had an impromptu breakfast with our neighbors Doc and Nan, then headed home. I had plans to work last Saturday but that fell through, so I resorted to baking bread instead. We've got our household back on our Dave Ramsey plans, especially since we bought a new home this year. So me being the tight wad that I am, has budgeted our grocery $$ pretty strictly. There's totally room to put more there, but I love to budget, love to coupon (within reason) and love to leave the grocery with change in my hand AS WELL AS everything I had on my list. 

This past week, french bread for our favorite soup (also a weekend tradition in our house) didn't make the cut. Actually, it didn't make the cart, I forgot it. Who needs nasty bakery bread anyway? I love to bake breads, I had the time... why not? The kneading and rising.. flouring and baking.. its very relaxing to me, not to mention the fact I feel super accomplished afterwards. I had yeast in the fridge ready to use for Ciabatta, but I decided to go with a quick bread. I  scoured through recipes that looked like I might have all the ingredients for, and am so glad I did. This bread was so simple to make and very fast. It made plenty for the soup without having half a loaf leftover to stale away. 

 Italian Cheese Quick Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup  mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients and mix. Cut in very cold butter with a pastry blender until you get fine crumbs. 
In a small bowl, whisk together your egg, greek yogurt, and milk. Stir this into the dry ingredients until just moistened – do not over mix! My dough was a little dry so I had to add a few more splish splashes of milk, use your own judgement!
Spoon mixture into prepared baking pan, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and few diced up pats of butter on top, if desired (recommended!) Bake that bad boy for 20-25ish minutes or so, until you see the top get golden brown. We sliced ours up like a pie and dipped in our soup! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Eating your way to the heart of Nashville

Every other year since we've been married we pack up and head to Nashville for an Anniversary getaway. See, we got married in Nashville (well Antioch, TN to be exact) so we like to go back and celebrate in the heart of where our marriage began. We live less than 2 hours away and I have family there, so we go fairly often for visiting, concerts, date nights, etc. Every time we go, we find more we want to add to our list of "What to do in Nashville". So here's a little recap of our weekend away...

I've got a few childhood friends who live in Nashville giving me tips on the go to places based on location, price, tastes, etc. Some of these we found on our own, some are thanks to the food network and others to my sweet friend Olivia! (thanks O!)

We began our trip on Friday morning with a stop at our favorite coffee shop in town, Big City Market. Seth gets an Americano with Milano Chocolate Peanut Butter, and I tried a Honeysuckle Latte. Always, and I mean always take recommendations from your Barista. Branch out my friends, that Honeysuckle Latte was one of the best things i've ever had. Thanks Molly and Jenny for the picture!

Next stop was a very "romantic" lunch per Seth's taste was Chipotle in Clarksville. It was so delicious as always. But my word is it necessary to give me enough for 4 meals? I ate my burrito for lunch, supper and still had leftovers. I've tried the tacos though, and they are not the same. Maybe I should opt for asking for a kids menu. Has anyone done this? I enjoyed a Pork Burrito with brown rice, black beans (yes katie, black beans) pico, corn salsa and more guacamole than they give you in a single order at a mexican restaurant. Seth got... well, I was too busy eating this monster! 'Til next time... 

Friday afternoon and evening we spent with my sweet grandmother, listening to stories, giggling, going to the grocery for her and eating hot donuts. It has become a tradition for us that our first night in Nashville during our Anniversary weekend we spend with her. The next morning we say our goodbyes and hit the road. 

Once we got downtown we did a little shopping and lunch. Seth had some Christmas money and early Valentine's money to burn and Vineyard Vines was having a "whale of a sale" (wish I had come up with that one on my own).  
Then we headed to the restaurant we were most excited about this trip, yes we are foodies, no we don't care. You may or may not have heard that Nashville is known for its Hot Chicken. The originator of Hot Chicken (seen here) is where we usually go, but had heard about a newer place in Midtown (where we spent most of our time this trip). We have been scouring the menu for Hattie B's for months, so excited about what we planned to get. Mild Chicken? Hot Chicken? Damn Hot Chicken? One of each? How do you choose?!!! The few days before we left I saw a facebook link about "Things you must do in Nashville" with eating at Hattie B's being number one.  Needless to say, it was excellent. Mine wasn't as juicey greasy as Prince's, so my bread didn't soak up as much juice grease. I did like however that there were more options for cut of meat (breast, leg, tenders) better side dish options and beer. Check it out, go eat, enjoy. Hattie B's Hot Chicken
pictured: 3 Jumbo Mild Chicken Tenders atop bread and pickles, Pimento Mac and Cheese, Greens

After a little more shopping and perusing some of my favorites like West Elm and Bink's Outfitters, we headed to our hotel for a few hours. Of course, I needed a nap as our dinner reservations weren't until 8:00 that night. Party girl in the house! We watched TV, enjoyed a bottle of Dom Perignon in our bride and groom tervis tumblers and got ready for dinner!

I made reservations at a swanky little restaurant (in the gulch) Sambuca. I had seen mixed reviews about the food, most said it was too pricey for the quality. But everyone still seemed to be giving 4 or 5 stars. It can't be that bad, right? After going, I completely understand. Now, let me be the first to tell you, get the Buca Beignets! Ammmaazzzing! We got those as an appetizer then ordered our dinners. I got Fettucini Carbonara which was fine. For $25 I would typically be upset that I didn't enjoy it more. But the atmosphere made up for every difference in the world. We had a huge, intimate private booth but we were still close enough to hear the live band. We would have danced but were too caught up talking and drinking champagne. It was seriously so incredibly romantic, wonderful service and the perfect atmosphere. I loved every minute of it! Our hotel was close enough we could walk right down to the restaurant and didn't have to fool with a cab. Such a wonderful night!

Our last day in Nashville we went for an early lunch and then ice cream. We headed back down to Midtown to Two Boots Pizza. We got in just as they opened up, so i'm sure a little later in the day they would have more options. We were so happy to be able to try slices of different pizzas without having to buy a whole pie. It was some of the best pizza i've ever had, I had two slices which aren't listed on the menu. My favorite was a slice with a white sauce, ricotta, sun dried tomatoes and a jalapeno pesto. If I were to go one place in Nashville again out of the 3, this would be the place. The atmosphere was fun, they had a porch (screened in with heaters for winter) and plenty of tables and tv's. GO TRY IT!

Our last stop on our journey was Jeni's Ice Cream. I have always wanted to go since I saw a clip on the Travel Channel about her unique flavors. We got my dad a food tour in Columbus which involved going to her original ice cream shoppe. So many flavors, so little time, as we were headed home. But we got a cone to satisfy our sweet tooth (teeth!) and it was so different.. and good! I got the Yazoo Sue Rosemary Bar Nuts (made with Nashville brewed Yazoo beer). It had cayenne, rosemary, lots of nuts and beer.. definitely not for everyone but I love the spicy/savory/sweet flavors together. There are many  Jeni's all over the country now, if you think you like Coldstone, you'll like this better!

This concluded our food journey of our trip (which was mainly what we did). Instead of going to many downtown shops, or Green Hills Mall, or Country Music Hall of Fame, we decided to try to fit in all of these yummy places we have wanted to try. If you are headed to Nashville soon, try something new! I love chain restaurants as much as anyone else, but I really enjoy local restaurants with fresh food and flavors.