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!

Pig Pickin’ and Dogtoberfest

It’s hard to believe we’re in the last week of October already. This year is FLYING by. I’ve been focusing on raising money this month for some pretty awesome breast cancer patients and survivors, so I’ve slacked on my blogging. We’ve had some pretty special donations such as a hang-gliding experience for Michelle H (thanks Kitty Hawk Kites), a race car driving experience for Adrienne D (thanks Joey Logano Charitable Foundation), and a trip to Bald Head Island for Elaine P. – with ferry passes, golf cart and lunch at MoJos (thanks, Meg!). The donations we’ve received have gone to purchase the ferry passes for Elaine and her husband and a French speaking kit for Julie G. Thanks to the giveaway with $100 to Tieks has helped raise even more money so we can help even more items be crossed off bucket lists. There’s still time to enter (through 10/31!), go now!

Outside of the giveway, my husband and I traveled to Boston last week. Both of us had to work but we had the evenings together, which doesn’t happen often these days. It was nice to go out to dinner, have a few drinks, workout, spend time with his cousin Ryan + his wife Carrie while we were there. Our weekend was jam-packed with events, including Dogtoberfest. I work closely with a local rescue group called Dog Days of Charlotte. We work to pull dogs from high-kill shelters and find them foster homes for various rescues until they are either adopted or transported to their rescue (many of the rescues we work with are in the Northern part of the US).

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Dog Days is a 501-3c that operates solely on donations (seems like I’m talking donations A LOT lately). Dogtoberfest is our biggest event which raises money to help us with vetting dogs, getting dogs groomed, getting dogs transported and buying things like food, leashes, crates, etc., so that fosters are equipped with everything they need when helping us out. As a foster, you’re only required to give the dog a place to stay and some love, we cover EVERYTHING else. Which is why we need donations and events like Dogtoberfest help us. The day is full of vendors, raffles, music, a photo booth and tons of adoptable pups. It’s such an amazing event and so wonderful to see so many people coming out to support the organization. If you’re interested in fostering, here’s the application and more info!

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After Dogtoberfest, we hopped over to my aunt and uncle’s for a pig roast. They put on such a good party – and the food’s not bad either. It’s such a nice event where our family and plenty of my aunt and uncle’s friends gather and dance the night away.

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I wasn’t shy with food (although I was very careful not to eat too much earlier in the day) and I enjoyed a tad bit of everything. The food was seriously amazing and my uncle who cooked the pig is equally as amazing. I know how much work they put into this event each year and I’m so grateful that we get to be a part of it.

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Oh, and we got to spend time with our new niece, Andi and our adorable nephew, Damon, who was 100% obsessed with the tractor and kept telling us he needed the keys so it would go.

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We ran out of time to carve pumpkins, so we’ll be doing that this week, just in time for our first halloween in our new house. But we did have an amazing date night at Nan & Byron’s last night and a good day of shopping for me and golf for him. I’m loving these fall weekends with gorgeous weather. Not quite ready for snow and dark days, although I must admit, I turned the heat on this morning after letting the dogs out. Now that it’s in the upper 70s, I’ve turned off the heat and am ready to go for a run with the dogs. Happy Monday!

Tieks Giveaway + Breast Cancer Awareness

I’m proud to support the Pretty in Pink Foundation and love the work that they do. I started a Go Fund Me for the ladies who walked in the Fashion Show in Wilmington this year. They each listed three items they wanted to do in their lives, so I think we should all chip in and make those happen – or at least one of them.

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By giving to this fundraiser, you are directly bringing happiness to the lives of people who are facing an unimaginable situation. So in honor of breast cancer awareness month, I implore you to give whatever you can to put a smile on someone else’s face.

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I am so excited to raffle off a $100 giftcard from Tieks (makers of the best ballet flats EVER). Anyone who donates $10 or more will be entered into a raffle (winner selected on random.org) for the Tieks gift card, a pink ribbon hat and a $10 Amazon gift card. The giveaway will run through 10/31, so hurry, you only have 2 more weeks to get your entries in!

Source: @Tieks Instagram
Source: @Tieks Instagram

So here’s how you can help the cause and get a chance to win some awesome prizes:

  • Visit the Go Fund Me page and make a donation of $10 or more by 11:59 PM on 10/31
  • Then come back here and comment letting me know that you’ve made your donation (be sure to use the same name you used when making your donation!)
  • For extra entries, you can use the Rafflecopter below and share the post on Twitter and Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners will be randomly selected by Random.org the week of 11/1. Let’s see how many items we can cross of these bucket lists by November 1st!

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?

 

 

Bucket list wishes + a Tieks giveaway!

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Straight from the American Cancer Society: “In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed among US women, as well as an estimated 64,640 additional cases of in situ breast cancer. That year, approximately 39,620 US women were expected to die from breast cancer. Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women.”

For the month of October, I’m focusing on the Pretty in Pink Foundation, which is based in North Carolina and helps breast cancer patients directly with their medical bills, co-pays, gas money to appointments, etc.

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I was introduced to the Pretty in Pink Foundation by my sister-in-law, Logan. For the past 5 years, she has participated in their annual Fashion Walk Gala in Wilmington. She participates because she is a cancer SURVIVOR. The Pretty in Pink Foundation helped her with some medical bills as she went through her treatment, and within them she also found friends and a support group.

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We attended the Fashion Walk Gala earlier this month and as always, I was touched by the stories shared. The strength of these women who are fighting battles that no one should have to is inspirational. One mother had our whole table on the verge of tears as she talked about never giving up because she has an 18 month old and she wants to be there for his whole life. An older lady laughed with her husband as she talked about all the medical woes they had faced – and vowed to keep moving forward, together.

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This year’s fashion walk participants wrote down their top 3 things they want to do in the future and that’s where you come in. These women show us on their bucket lists that they have so much life left to live and so many things they want to do to have fun, see the world, spend precious moments with their families.

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I’ve compiled a list and an estimated cost of each. Through a Go Fund Me site that was set up, we can raise the money for these things and purchase them for these women. For the things that can’t necessarily be purchased, I am reaching out to others to help with connections and making some of these other wishes come true. (Hey, Ellen Degeneres!).

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I’ve set a goal of $20,000 to raise to grant these wishes, so together we can help bring some happiness to these women as they fight their unimaginable battles.

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I am so excited to raffle off a $100 giftcard from Tieks (makers of the best ballet flats EVER). Anyone who donates $10 or more will be entered into a raffle (winner selected on random.org) for the Tieks gift card, a pink ribbon hat and a $10 Amazon gift card.

Source: @Tieks Instagram
Source: @Tieks Instagram

So here’s how you can help the cause and get a chance to win some awesome prizes: 

  • Visit the Go Fund Me page and make a donation of $10 or more by 11:59 PM on 10/31
  • Then come back here and comment letting me know that you’ve made your donation (be sure to use the same name you used when making your donation!)
  • For extra entries, you can use the Rafflecopter below and share the post on Twitter and Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners will be randomly selected by Random.org the week of 11/1. Let’s see how many items we can cross of these bucket lists by November 1st!

PS – if you haven’t tried Tieks, you NEED to ASAP. I wear mine 24/7 and they still look brand new and are comfy even after walking all over cities like Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis and Charlotte, and of course my everyday wear.

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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.

 

My month as a (mostly) vegetarian!

For some reason, I decided I would be a vegetarian for the month of September. Probably not the smartest move since I had two full weeks of travel and events every weekend; but I obviously didn’t consider that when I made my decision. I did allow myself to have fish and shellfish – and I ended up having A LOT of it. I’m probably pumped full of mercury right now, and fiber from all the vegetables I had.

For breakfast, I mostly stuck with my vegan chocolate Shakeology. I have so much energy from these shakes – and I’ve totally stopped drinking coffee! A few times I had eggs or oatmeal for breakfast but that’s usually reserved for days when the hubs is home. Lunch was usually a salad or pasta (whole wheat, of course). I always had plenty of snacks on me like almonds or walnuts, fruit: blueberries, apples, bananas, scuppernongs, avocado, carrots & hummus, and greek yogurt with granola. Leftovers always serve as a delicious lunch, too, but I have always had a hard time re-heating fish so only when I had other food the night before did I take leftovers for lunch.

When I went to the conference, I had a veggie panini one day, pasta another and a veggie pizza from Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar on the way out of Indianapolis. For dinner, I was able to get a little more creative (and spend a little more time). I had salmon, sea bass, garlic lime shrimp pasta, vegetarian lasagna, vegan potato salad, and veggies and quinoa for dinner when I made it at home. When we were out and about, I had tofu, eggplant tacos, scallops & shrimp, various types of fish, shrimp pho, a black bean quesadilla, more veggie pizza and veggie burgers.

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Now, I say “mostly” vegetarian because I cheated a few times. The first was at an event where I had a piece of pork. I didn’t see vegetarian options, so I chose meat. Another night, I couldn’t get Mac’s wings out of my mind, so I grabbed 8 of them on the way home and devoured them. Last weekend, we hosted “Drinktoberfest” where we offered bratwursts, and I inhaled two of them. I probably could have avoided those 3 meals of meat but I didn’t. My husband laughs at me often about not having willpower (especially when it comes to Mac’s wings).

I’m okay introducing some meat back into my life but I think I’ll try like once or twice a week and do vegetarian meals the rest of the week. I feel a little better. Can’t say I’m any lighter but that probably has to do with all those guavaberry coladas in St. Martin and the Exact Target conference last week (it was open bar everywhere I turned).

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I think my next challenges will be no alcohol for a month and maybe a no sugar month. Sugar will be hard because I love dessert. I could probably just eat dessert for my meal. And I definitely eat it first when the option is there. I can avoid alcohol but it’s tough with all the weddings we have (I need a little liquid encouragement to dance).

Have you ever tried being vegan or vegetarian? What was your motivation? Did you miss meat / animal products?