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. 


Sunday, February 2, 2014

how often are you happy in your relationship?

I just got back from a fabulous weekend of celebrating my 5 year anniversary with the sweetest man I could have ever chosen to marry. After a weekend full of laughs, champagne, fun restaurants, shopping, relaxing at the hotel.. we now sit snuggled up with our dogs on the couch, with a blazing fire in the fireplace. This is my kind of happy, and i'm trying to soak up every ounce of it I can. With some of the negative posts i've seen on facebook recently in regards to marriage and relationships.. I felt I needed to share a little on a topic that is very near to my heart.

I have people tell me all the time, "You are so young, marriage won't always stay this exciting" or "Well you are still newlyweds... just wait".

Comments like this infuriate me. I don't want to sit around and wait for that moment when marriage is a little touch or dull. I want to savor and enjoy every moment. My husband and I are pretty well on the same page about everything, whether it is luck or hard work, i'm not really sure. However I know that right now, it doesn't feel hard. It feels fun, comfortable, exciting and full of love, even on the dullest of days. 

Back before I was married (but still dating Seth) the 1st Sex and the City movie came out. While I didn't watch the show until it came on constant repeats on TBS, I absolutely made sure I would go watch the movie. One of my favorite moments of the film, transformed my life and way of thinking. All of the girls were sitting talking as Samantha explained how unhappy she was in her relationship...

Samantha Jones: Relationships aren't just about being happy. I mean, how often are you happy in your relationship?
Charlotte York: Every day.
Samantha Jones: Every day?
Charlotte York: Well, not all day every day but yes, every day.

After hearing this, I decided this would be the preface for how I wanted to view my marriage. Does my husband drive me crazy? Yes, of course he does sometimes (and I drive him equally as crazy). Does he sometimes upset me? Yes, and I hurt his feelings as well (always on accident). Does this ruin my day? Never, ever, ever. Treating him with love and respect is more important to me than staying mad or proving a point. If Seth does something to really irritate or hurt me-- we talk about it, deal with it and move on. We are soon laughing, tickling, joking or snuggling again in a few short minutes. Luckily in our relationship, we don't typically have any big issues to deal with, but I feel confident that we would approach them the same way. 

So you ask, how often am I happy in my relationship? Every damn day! Not all day every day, but every single day I am happy, thankful and full of love. 

Check back later this week to see and read about our fabulous Nashville getaway. There will be lots of places you want to write down so that you can go eat there yourself!