Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend Recap:


Friday night I did a little shopping...from my couch. Let me just state that I despise the mall. Despise. I don't like the parking situation..the crowds...the terrible "sale" prices. I tend to do most of my shopping online or at singular stores that do not require me to step foot into a mall.

I  finally bit the bullet on something I have wanted for a long time. We earned some Best Buy rewards that were set to expire so we decided to buy a KitchenAid Mixer. It's funny how as you age your priorities change. Instead of spending on money on nights out or new outfits, I wanted a mixer! I just went with classic white since our kitchen will be white and the practical side of me couldn't pay $100 more for a fun color. I see pasta making in my future! 



I also had an Urban Outfitters Gift Card I had been holding onto since 2010. It's kind of a funny story because I somehow misplaced the bright orange gift card in my car years ago and was never able to find it. Cut to last year when someone broke into my car and in the pile of rubble there was the gift card sitting on the passenger seat! They stole my phone charger but I guess it was an even trade!  I came across these really cute Ecote Peep-Toe Sandals. Now I just need Summer to come so I can break out these bad boys...


Saturday we stopped by to look at the house. We are hoping to be dried in within the next two weeks....


And this is a side view looking at the garage....


Sunday we test-drove some cars.We aren't ready to buy yet, but we plan to take our time and do our research. So far my favorite has been the Mazda CX-9...super nice and very roomy. I am still wanting to check out at a Suburu too. 



Sunday night Brad grilled some steaks for us and I was in charge of sides. For those who have heard the infamous stories about Brad's cooking adventures (i.e hot-dog salad, melted cheese on a plate, and the classic potato pasta) know that he has been redeemed by his grilling abilities! His steaks are just plain awesome : )

 I topped mine with this Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Blue Cheese Crust copycat recipe ...so good! We also finally used our new kitchen table. Sadly, we have been eating meals at the coffee table...so it was nice to sit in real chairs and enjoy a meal without the ambiance of Family Feud playing the background ; ) 



Friday, January 23, 2015

FOF: House Update, Homemade Seasoning, & Fashion Blogs


//One//

Brad snapped this photo of our house early Thursday morning. The rafters are almost done!


I also decided against island seating. Instead, I want it to look almost like a furniture piece. I sent our cabinet makers these inspiration pictures on Pinterest...I know I am probably driving everyone nuts with my indecisiveness.



//Two//

For dinner this week I made Mexican. I have stopped using taco seasoning packets and now make it homemade using this recipe. It's really easy to do and has a lot less chemicals/ingredients. When I make it I quadruple the recipe and store it in a large mason jar. The only change I made was to cut down the salt a little bit since I am really salt sensitive. 



//Three//

We have had the best weather lately (low 60s and Sunny). It's about to get chilly so I have been looking for a winter coat. Apparently I waited too long to do this because most places had little selection or were sold out of real sizes (who wears an XS coat)?! I didn't want something bulky like my North Face...afterall we aren't in NY anymore, but my wool coats are a little dressy for everyday. After searching everywhere with zero luck, I finally came across this DKNY Navy quilted coat at my third Marshalls ! Hello my name is Shauna and I am a Marshalls addict...


 //Four//

I had some very good news professionally this week. The company we sell to was involved in a potential hostile takeover. Basically it came down to a shareholder vote whether to allow company A or company B to purchase them. If company B won the vote there would be a good chance I would have been out of at least my current position, since I am not looking to move! Thankfully the vote went to company A. A huge sigh of relief and a bit of weight off my back this week. Thank God.  

//Five//

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Do any of you read fashion blogs?  I have to admit they kind of cause me to laugh sometimes because I personally wouldn't feel comfortable modeling the outfits daily. However, I really do like reading some of them because they offer great ideas on how to style oneself (something I am not always good at). I came across Classy Girls Wear Pearls and I love nearly everything she wears. I am trying to do the trendy thing less these days, and she dresses so elegantly. I don't think I could ever get Brad to wear some of the things her boyfriend does...but that's another story all together ; ) !


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Slow Cooker Zucchini Penne

When you have zero prep time to get something on the table this recipe is an easy, healthy, and delicious option. Slow Cooker Zucchini Penne takes less than five minutes to assemble, and you can set-it and forget-it.I came across the original recipe on Skinny Ms., and with a few tweaks made a version that Brad gobbled up. After his third helping he admitted he was not really looking forward to this dish... but he was wrong : )


Slow Cooker Zucchini Penne

Ingredients:

3 cups of  uncooked whole grain Penne (if using different pasta adjust cook times accordingly)
3 cups marinara (I highly recommend fresh, here's my recipe)  
8oz freshly grated mozzarella cheese
16oz low-fat cottage cheese
1 Zucchini sliced in very thin circles
1 tbsp dried basil
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)

Directions:

1. In the bottom of the crock pot add uncooked noodles and sauce. Mix well. 
2. Layer zucchini over the top of the noodles
3. In a separate bowl mix spices and cheeses together. Spread the mixture over the top of the zucchini.
4. Cook on high for an hour. Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional hour. Test a noodle for done-ness before serving.


 I forgot to snap a picture...so the ingredients will have to do!  : ) 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Long Weekend Recap

Friday night I surprised Brad with a fancy dinner. I made Pioneer Woman's Short Ribs with Wine and Cream  served over roasted mushrooms and mashed potatoes. To say it was indulgently-awesome is an understatement! I made and served it with Piccini Chianti which was on sale at World Market for less than $10 and was surprisingly very good!


Saturday we visited Brad's family. They were pretty busy doing some major house organization, but I spent some time with the boys. It was a gorgeous day so we walked out to the pasture where they had 16 new babies born! I wasn't able to get too close, but they were so sweet.


Saturday night we went out to dinner and then met up with some of Brad's co-workers at  Draught. It was nice to finally put some faces to names.We only stayed for a drink or two because I had to be up early on Sunday.

Sunday I subbed for Seedlings, our church daycare program for 6-24 months. We had ten little ones and only three volunteers, so we had our hands-full! I have to admit holding sweet little babies for an hour is not a bad gig ;)

That afternoon we went to the Metrolina Spring Home Show.We were a little disappointed because we thought it would have a lot of resources for home building, but it didn't. We did end up bringing home some really good jewelry cleaner oddly enough! 

Monday we had off for Martin Luther King Jr. day. We took advantage of the day and attempted to pick out flooring and meet with our cabinet designer.

The hardwood floors are giving us trouble. We considered pre finish but I could see a lot of red-tones (from red oak) in the options we were looking at.We may need buy unfinished in order to get the color we are going for. I love the brown tones in this floor...


We picked out our kitchen backsplash which was easy enough since it's just white subway tile. We are going to go with a gray wood tile for the mudroom, something like this...


and we are deciding on cabinetry for this light cream rectangle tile we found for the Master Bath. Which do you like light or dark?


 If I could stress the importance of flexibility in house building for a moment. Be prepared to completely change plans mid-project. I am learning that this is just part of the program. We had planned on putting two islands in our kitchen. After measuring at the site, we could not get them spaced and sized correctly.We were afraid something might look off/funny so we abandoned that idea for one large island... possibly with some seating at the end. I was a little bummed at first, but I don't really want to take a chance and have it look bad.

Lastly, here is the newest picture of the house (windows are still not cut on left side). They are working on getting the rafters up this week. The forecast looks sunny which should result in a lot of work getting done on the house this week!





Friday, January 16, 2015

Five on Friday: House decisions, Garlic Spinach, and New Kicks


//One//



Our cabinet maker only works with three knob and pull designers. Brad and I found one we  love (pictured above). I think it's classic without being outdated, looks easy to clean, and matches the style we are going for. Unfortunately, it's also about five times pricier than the rest of the options (of course)! Custom cabinetry has been a splurge area for us, so it breaks my heart to slap any old pull on them...but again it's just a pull! These are the little decisions that drive me crazy. We are meeting with the cabinet maker to go over some of these details this weekend so hopefully we can make a final decision then.

//Two//




This week we sold our guest bed. It was just too big and clunky so we are going to downsize to just a headboard. If you know where I can find a simple fabric one (that won't break the bank) please let me know! 

We also decided not to hang our television in the new house. I don't want it as the focal point above the fireplace, so we are looking for a piece of furniture to set it on. I found some awesome pieces at TJ Maxx this week. We aren't ready to buy just yet, but I thought I would share in case someone is in the market for something similar. 

//Three//



I shared recently that we are trying to eat organic at home. I have been trying to make this change without having a major impact on our grocery budget, and so far I've been successful. My game plan is to stick to what's on sale and this week it was fresh organic Spinach. This recipe is SO simple and Brad said it was the best spinach I've ever made --win!

Garlic Spinach with Breadcrumbs
*Serves 2-3
 
Ingredients:

5oz Fresh Baby Spinach
3 Garlic Cloves Minced
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs (you can use plain and season with garlic powder and Italian seasoning)
1/2 tbsp Extra-Virgin (or oil of choice) + More to drizzle
Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Mix breadcrumbs, garlic and oil in a small bowl. 
2. Place spinach in a large Pyrex dish (it may be heaping but it will cook down A LOT)
3. Drizzle lightly with olive oil (you could also use water to cut calories) and season with sea salt and pepper. Top with breadcrumb mixture.
4. Bake for 375F 10-15 minutes. Stir gently before serving to distribute breadcrumbs.

//Four//


Admittedly I have been slacking on the workout front, but I have taken my first baby step and bought some new kicks. Last time I purchased a pair of Ryka shoes which is a company that specializes in Women's athletic apparel. I could not find another pair of Rykas at Off Broadway, so I went with these Nikes that seemed really comfortable and I thought the color was fun. Do you have a particular  brand that you're loyal to?

//Five//



I enjoyed some lady time with my friend Laura last night. She came over and cooked us this lovely curry dinner. Did I mention that I could live off curry? We both dressed up in our finest PJs, ate a bowl full of heavenly curry, drank some red, and caught up on life...I was in my happy place.


Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Oil-Free Oven-Baked "Fried" Chicken & Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/ Carmelized Onions & Goat Cheese

This afternoon I received the sweetest little nugget of encouragement. My SIL texted me this picture of Wyatt's homework. He listed my Chocolate Chip Cookies as his favorite food. This melted my heart not just because of how adorable he is, but because not so long ago I had zero confidence when it came to baking. Perhaps it was my aversion to Science in High School, but I have since learned to slow-down and measure. My days of taking a meat-mallet to a brownie pan are over : )


While we are on the topic of food I thought I would share with you two new awesome recipes!

I absolutely love Panko bread crumbs. I have yet to find an organic version at my local grocer, but it's easy to make your own. Panko makes everything so much crunchier and crisper than traditional breadcrumbs. I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes using Panko, including Fried Chicken that requires zero oil but still turns out nice and crisp!



Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese 
* Adapted from Paula's Healthy Living

 I am obsessed with this recipe. It's not only super comforting and delicious, but it hits on every note for me..a little salt...a little sweet ...yum! It is hearty enough to stand alone or you can serve as a side.

Ingredients:

3 large Sweet Potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1 tbsp Olive Oil (divided) *I used truffle oil, but anything works
1/2 medium onion sliced into thin rounds
2 & 1/2 tbsp Panko Bread Crumbs
1.5oz  crumbled Goat Cheese
Zest of one Orange
2 tbsp fresh orange juice (divided)
1/2 tbsp raw honey
1/ 3 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Basil
1/3 tsp Oregano
Sea-Salt and Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)

Directions:

1. Place potatoes in a roasting pan with  1/2 tbsp of oil. Season liberally with sea-salt and pepper. Roast 425F for 10 minutes

2. Whisk together orange zest, 1 tbsp orange juice, and honey. Remove potatoes from oven and toss evenly with mixture. Roast an additional 8-10 minutes. 

3. Add 1/2 tbsp of oil to a saute pan. Saute onions on medium-low heat 15-17 minutes in order to caramelize onions. Season with sea-salt and pepper. 

4. Lower Temp to 375F. Gently combine herbs, sweet potatoes, and onions with remaining 1 tbsp of orange juice. Place in a glass 11 x 7 Pyrex dish. Layer Panko Bread crumbs and cheese crumbles on top. Cook until lightly-browned and crisp 20-25 minutes. 


Oven-Fried Chicken: 

 I make oven-fried chicken two different ways. I know many of us are heating healthier during this new year so I have posted both recipes below depending on which appeals to you.

Ingredients: 

Chicken (6 drumsticks or 3 boneless/skinless breasts)
1/4 Half & Half or 1 egg  or 1/4 cup water ....your choice!
2 tbsp shredded Parmesan (optional)
 1/2 tsp Sea Salt & Paprika
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Oregano, Basil, and Black Pepper
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
2 tbsp butter (for oven-fry method only)

Fat-Free Method: 

1. Place chicken on a Parchment lined cookie sheet at 400F
2. Cook 45 minutes flipping once at the 30 minute mark

Oven-Fry Method:
* Adapted from The Two Bite Club

1) Add 2 tbsp of butter and chicken to a cast iron skillet. Bake 425F for 30 minutes. Flip chicken and bake an additional 15minutes

 Do you have a favorite recipe that uses Panko?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Charleston & Weekend

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Last week I didn't get a chance to blog since I was traveling to Charleston for work.  It was mainly business, but we did get a chance to do a few fun things...

We did not have a lot of luck weather wise; abnormally chilly, high 20s low 30s when the average is usually about 55. They ended up planning a Scavenger Hunt which luckily turned out not to be too bad thanks to a warm pair of gloves and a hat. My poor group came in last place but we had the best photos! Robbed I tell you!

 The first night I had a fabulous meal at Blossom; Blackened Yellowfin Tuna seared rare, coconut rice, edamame, beech mushrooms, pickled leeks, port sauce...It was one of the best meals I've ever had.

We also listened to two incredible speakers from Adopt a Soldier Platoon. The important thing to note about this foundation is that all proceeds (sans very slim operating costs),  94.4 cents of every dollar goes directly to the troops...which is NOT always the case...research friends!  

By the end of the week I was definitely ready to be home. Friday night I conked out before 10pm ...I never sleep well when I travel solo.

House Update:

Brad found a great deal on a table at World Market while I was away. We both agreed it would work perfectly for the breakfast nook in the kitchen...and the price was right, so we snagged it!


Sunday we drove by the land. Thanks to chilly weather and rain, it has been a painfully slow process. Below you'll see that they have put the walls up for the garage (right) , though the windows have not been cut out yet. They are also working on putting up the ceiling joist. It's tough to see the majority of the work at this angle.


Lastly, I want to wish my wonderful Mother-in-Law a Happy Birthday today!!!


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