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December 31, 2018

Meal Monday: Shrimp Cobb with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

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Since last week we had the slightly unhealthy Marshmallow Meal Monday, I thought we’d go a little more nutritious this week. When I’m trying to eat healthy I eat a lot of salads. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me much, but it can get a little mundane and repetitive. When I came across this shrimp salad I had to try it because I LOVE shrimp! And it has avocado and bacon. Does it get any better?? My guess is no, because this was just about the best salad I’ve ever had!
The recipe is pretty quick and easy and, of course, super delicious.

4 slices bacon chopped
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup lightly packed chopped cilantro
1 (3 cups) bunch watercress, thick stems removed or spinach
2 hearts of romaine, thinly sliced (6 cups)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 hard cooked eggs, peeled and halved
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet for 8-10 minutes (until browned) on medium. Move to paper towels. Remove all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet.
  1. Return skillet to medium heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes in a single layer, flipping once, until opaque and firm to the touch.
  1. Whisk lime zest, lime juice, oil, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Toss greens with half the dressing.
  1. Top the salad with the shrimp, tomatoes, eggs, avocado, and baon. Serve with remaining dressing.

  1. You don’t actually need watercress. It’s super similar to any other leafy green. I used a mixture of spinach and watercress, but in the future I’ll probably just use spinach. Using more romaine lettuce would substitute nicely as well.
  2. Make sure you have lime juice (and all other ingredients for that matter) before you start. I realized I didn’t and had Justin pick some up on his way home from work!

December 29, 2018

New Year, New Me

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I’ve always felt that it makes more sense to have new resolutions on your birthday, because that’s your New Year, but as a general rule this is done at New Year’s. I decided to join the masses and set some resolutions for 2019.
To me, this means looking at where I am and where I want to be. The point of the resolution is to figure out how to cover the ground in between those camps. I’m not going to lie to y’all, this list took longer than I thought it would to write. I thought coming up with resolutions would be quick and easy! But I really wanted to identify where I want to be when 2020 comes rolling around (y’all, we’re one year and a few days away from living in the 20’s! Gotta find a flapper dress for next years NYE party!). I also wanted to make sure my goals were attainable and had specific deadlines. So here’s my year:

  1. Pay off Student Loans
While I loved my time in college and I learned a ton academically, socially, and about life, it was definitely a drain on the finances! By December 31, 2019 I want to have completely paid off all my student loans. The hubby and I have made a good dent, but we still have $30,000 to go. Debt free life, here we come!

  1. Finish Changing My Name
I know it’s sad, but I still haven’t finished changing my name! I’ve been working on it for months now and still haven’t gotten around to finishing the process. Now that it’s on the list though, it has to happen! There’s a really great list here of places to change your name, if you need to get on this too! Deadline: March 17, 2019 (our one year anniversary)

  1. Finish the Fluffy Butt Hut (aka Chicken Coop)
The house is definitely still a work in progress! We plan to paint the chicken coop Barn Red and put a white picket fence around the garden. Then we can let the chickens out to eat the bugs in the garden (as you know, bugs were a BIG problem for our fall garden)! We also need to build a nesting spot in the coop and, of course, actually get the chickens. Lastly, I have to have a sign that says “Fluffy Butt Hut”. It’s just too cute not to! The due date for this: February 28th.

  1. Learn Spanish
This I have kinda been working on for years. I took four semesters of Spanish in college and have played on Duolingo. But I haven’t really put the time in to learn. My goal is to be able to watch children’s movies and understand by October 31!

  1. Grow My Blog
This one is all about y’all! I love writing my posts, editing my photos, and coming up with new ideas to post about! So in 2019 I want to grow this hobby and see what new and exciting content I can create. If you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see more of, let me know! :) This is an ongoing resolution- December 31, 2019

So that’s my 2019! Writing down my goals gives me more drive to complete them. In 2018 I didn’t have any resolutions, so I’m curious to see how this shapes and influences my year. Cheers to 2019!

December 25, 2018

Meal Monday: Marshmallows

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With all the festivities of Christmas Eve yesterday, I totally forgot to post my Meal Monday for y'all! So, here is a Meal Monday...on a Tuesday! Enjoy!

A friend of mine had homemade marshmallows at her Christmas party. Naturally, I had to try it! They are delicious, light, and sweet! While they were fun to make and taste pretty good, hers turned out much prettier than mine, so these pictures are all of her beautifully made marshmallows.
I thought this would be tricky and messy, but using oil made it not too bad! They are definitely sticky, but the oil really helps.

Here is the recipe to have your own delicious bites of heaven!

¾ cup water
3 (.25 ounces) packages unflavored gelatin
⅔ cup light corn syrup
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup corn starch
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

  1. Line a baking dish with plastic wrap and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spray another piece of plastic wrap to cover the top, and set aside.
  2. Place ½ cup of water in a bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top of water to soak.
  3. While gelatin is soaking, combine ¼ cup of water, ⅔ cup corn syrup, and 2 cups white sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Boil the mixture for 1 minute.
  4. Pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture and beat on high for 12 minutes until it is fluffy and forms stiff peaks. Add the vanilla extract and beat until just combined.
  5. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the baking dish, using a greased spatula to smooth the top. Cover the candy with the piece of prepared plastic wrap, and press it down gently to seal the covering to the top of the candy.
  6. Let the marshmallows sit for 4 hours or overnight. Mix together cornstarch and confectioners sugar in a bowl. Using oiled scissors or an oiled kitchen knife, cut the marshmallows into strips, then into 1 inch squares. Cover the marshmallows lightly in the cornstarch mixture and store in an airtight container.

**WARNING** - upon making these marshmallows you will never want to eat store bought ‘mellows again! Make at your own risk!

Christmas Traditions

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Christmas is without a doubt my favorite holiday! I love, love, love the bright lights everywhere you go, the kindness that spreads throughout a community, and the endless sweets and treats! Spending time with family at such a magical time of year is always a blessing. Since this is the first Christmas Justin and I have been married, and thus are family, I’ve had traditions on my mind. There are a few we’ve had for the last few years, but a few new ones we’ve decided to add for future years!

The best tradition we have is getting a live tree every year. I absolutely love this because it makes the house smell wonderful, it looks beautiful with its twinkling lights and ornaments, and watching the cat play with the lower branches is simply adorable! The tree is what makes it feel like Christmas time to me.

Every year we make a gingerbread house together. We make it easy and buy a set, unlike my mama who makes hers completely from scratch! An afternoon is spent with Christmas music playing while we construct our house or houses and decorate them with candy. This year I built two and Justin built two and then we swapped and decorated the other’s houses! I swear Justin eats more candy than he puts on the house!

Then, of course, there are our old traditions. My Mama handmade stockings for her and my dad before my siblings and I were born. Once we entered the scene, Mama made each of us a stocking as well. Carefully handcrafted with our names at the top! They take hours and hours to make, but they turn out beautifully! This year she made one for the hubby since he’s now part of our family. This was a really, really big deal for me, because it meant that my family had truly accepted him as part of our family.

These traditions are what make our holidays sentimental. It’s these little things that I find myself looking forward to as Christmas draws closer and treasure remembering from years past.  

December 17, 2018

Meal Monday: Kale Burgers

So yesterday I watched Julie and Julia on Netflix. First off, awesome movie! Second, I loved the idea of eating more recipes, expanding my cooking horizons, and blogging my meal adventures. In an attempt to try new recipes consistently and give y’all new recipes to try too, I’ve decided to start doing Meal Monday! Every Monday I’ll post a new recipe! This week I decided to make kale patties because they are a super healthy alternative to beef burgers! And have a similar flavor!

Step 1. Boil down a bag of kale in a large pot with
¼ teaspoon salt,
¼ teaspoon pepper,
1 ½ cups water,
¼ teaspoon sugar,
3 tablespoons olive oil, and
14 ounces low sodium chicken broth.
Boil for about 20 minutes with the lid on the pot. It looks gross, I know, but I promise it turns out well!

Step 2. Dry the kale out. I left it out overnight in a colander to really let the moisture leave. If the kale is too wet when you try to shape your patties they’ll fall apart. Pull out all large stems. This will also help the patties hold shape.

Step 3. Add 3 eggs, ¼ cup bread crumbs, sprinkle garlic salt, ground cumin, and Tony Chachere’s over the kale. Mix the ingredients together and shape into patties.

Step 4. Pan fry the patties. While I say “pan fry”, I didn’t use oil or anything, I just put the kale patty into the pan and pressed lightly on the top with my spatula to get some more moisture out. After about 3 minutes I flipped them and cooked for about 3 minutes. I flipped again to make sure they looked done, and if so set them aside. If they needed more time cooking I just flipped as needed!

Step 5. Make your burger! Use the kale patty exactly like you would a hamburger patty. The flavor is really similar, but you’re getting a serving of veggies instead of meat and fat! I like to use whole wheat bread or no bread at all to make it even healthier, and then I put my ketchup, mayo, and maybe a slice of cheese if I’m feeling crazy! It’s a delicious and healthy meal :)

December 12, 2018

Christmas Partyyy

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I LOVE Christmas! It is my favorite holiday because of the positive atmosphere, the smell of Christmas trees wafting through the house, and the excitement of finding the perfect gift for someone! This year I decided to have a party to celebrate and get old friends together!

The decorations were fun! It was mostly things we’ve had, but we did get new ornaments for our tree from At Home. Be careful going there though! You go in to grab one thing and next thing you know you’re checking out with a cart full of things!
We put a fake Christmas tree in the bathroom on the counter and switched out the soap dispenser for a penguin. In the living room we had our full size live tree, a garland around the TV, and big candles with red pebbles in the jars with them. In the backyard we hung up a big poster to take photos in front of. This was a big hit among the guests!

Christmas tree, Christmas, snowman, presents
Christmas Party, Christmas lights

The food was also Christmas themed! I made a spinach dip pull apart bread shaped like a Christmas tree. I used crescent rolls and cut them to be 2 same sized large triangles. Then I covered one triangle with store bought spinach dip. Next, I placed the second triangle on top and cut slices about an inch apart nearly to the center of the triangle/tree and twisted. This gave the look of branches! Bake at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes.

food, Christmas party, Christmas tree
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We also served pigs-in-a-blanket. These are always a crowd favorite and are super easy to make! For dessert we had individual apple pies. I used crescent rolls and put a slice of apple, some sugar, cinnamon, and butter and then baked for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees. They were deliciousss!

A hot chocolate bar is a must at a holiday party! We laid out the cups on our buffet table, with hot chocolate, candy canes, and marshmallows! It was a yummy treat for the end of the night.
There was also plenty of wine to drink, eggnog, and whiskey.

Christmas party, hot chocolate, hot cocoa, Christmas
Christmas party, hot chocolate, hot cocoa, Christmas

The final touches to make the perfect party were to add Christmas music, which we played on the TV throughout the night, and a fire burning in the fire pit outside so guests could enjoy the yard!

December 7, 2018

Weekend Wanders

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Occasionally it's nice to get away, even if it is just for they day! Justin and I headed south to The Winery on the Gruene on Sunday. This is one of my favorite wineries! It's nestled on the edge of Gruene, Texas, a small town in the Texas hill country. It was a stunning day, perfect for sitting outside and enjoying a glass of wine.

They have a fair few wines. The list consists of your typical reds, whites, and ports, but they also have fruit infused wines. These are just about the best thing to happen to wine. They have lightly sweet and deliciously fruity flavors.

After our glasses, we took a stroll around this adorable town. They have dozens of shops selling all sorts of knickknacks and Christmas gifts.

Gruene is also the home of Gruene Hall, the oldest country dance hall in Texas. They've hosted some of the greats like Willie Nelson, George Strait, Garth Brooks, and The Dixie Chicks. The building is old, has no AC, and the wooden floors are scuffed, but it is a must visit because of its cool ambiance. I love country music, Justin and I even met two stepping (country dancing), so I love to check out places like this!

Gruene is a cute, little town, that could definitely be worth a wander!

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