Monday, September 29, 2014

Favorite Fall Finds… so far

So far this season, I have found some great items to add to my closet. These are some of my favorites that will be worn over and over again.
(1) Spanx Leggings I bought mine at KK Bloom boutique here in Charlotte.  I'm not gonna lie, my stomach will never be the same after 3 kids- no matter what I do.  But these leggings conceal my issues and I am completely in love with them!

(2) Dolce Vita Fringe Booties.  I got mine at Scout & Molly's.  Fringe is always a good idea in my book.  I have worn them with everything from dresses to jeans.  I have them in tan but I would love them in black also!
(3) My Melvin Leopard Wrap Bracelet…. I have already worn this bracelet countless times.  I mean it is leopard- need I say more?
(4) Autumn Cashmere Sweater from Piperlime. It is super cozy but fun and trendy with the open-stitching.
(5) Show Me Your Mumu Black Dress: As a girl always searching for another LBD, I LOVE this one!  It is pretty much perfect: Comfortable, cute and can transition from day to night.

What are your favorite fall pieces so far???

Thursday, September 25, 2014

WIW: A week in Review

Last week was fun and quite busy with few little last minute things pop up throughout the week.  Looking back on what I wore, I stayed very neutral the whole week!  Pretty much- gray, black and white. Those do tend to be my favorite colors to wear.  When I was  not dressed in my workout attire this week, here is what I wore.
Last Minute Lunch
Top: Monrow (Nordstrom)
Jeans: 7 for All Mankind (similar at Piperlime)
Shoes: Converse (Piperlime)
Wrap Bracelet: Melvin

Anthro Fashion Show
Top: Anthropologie
Jeans: J Brand (Nordstrom)
 Booties: Dolce Vita (Scout & Molly's)
Necklace & Bracelets: Poppy Style
Date Night
Top: Target (from Spring- no longer available)
Pants: Splendid (Belk)
Shoes: Steve Madden (Nordstrom)
Bracelets: Poppy Style & Melvin


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Salmon with Sriracha Cream and Bok Choy & Mushrooms

This dish ended up even more heavenly than I thought it would! I combined a few different recipes- old and new- and came up with this.  If you are a salmon-lover, you will adore this!  My kids even ate the salmon.  I served it to Jackson and Nat with sautéed green beans instead of bok choy and mushrooms.  Score!!!
Salmon & Marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce, low-sodium
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp of honey
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 garlic powder
1 cup of water
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
3-4 wild-caught salmon filets (skin & bones removed)
Bring to a boil first 5 ingredients over medium-high heat.  Reduce to medium- low heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes. In a small bowl mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water.  Add to soy sauce mixture and continue to simmer until sauce thickens (about 2-4 minutes).  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place salmon filets in a shallow dish.  Pour cooled marinade over fish.  Cover.  Refrigerate 3-4 hours.  Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.  Place fish and half of the marinade in the dish and cook until fish is flaky.
Sriracha Cream Sauce
1/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1-2 tbsp Sriracha
Wisk ingredients together and refrigerate.  I put mine in a squeeze bottle so that I could drizzle just the right amount of sauce over the fish.
Bok Choy & Mushrooms
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups Baby Bok Choy, chopped
1 package baby portobello mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dark sesame oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
Heat oil in large pan.  Add mushrooms, garlic and white parts of bok choy until soft.  Add green parts of bok choy.  Cook for 2 more minutes.  Add soy sauce and sesame oil and cook for 1 more minute. Serve under salmon with sriracha cream drizzled over.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

What I Fix My Kids for Breakfast

Happy Monday! It is no secret in my house that I am not a morning person.  My kids wake up wanting breakfast immediately- no matter the hour.  This drives me crazy- along with trying to think of what to make for them EVERY DAY!  Many days my kids have cold cereal and milk (and love it!) for breakfast but I do try to change things up a couple times a week.
(1) Ezekiel Toast
Toast 2 pieces of Ezekiel (Sprouted Bread).  Spread Almond Butter on each piece. Drizzle honey over almond butter. Top with sliced strawberries.
(2) Scrambled Eggs
4 eggs
2 tbsp milk
Cheddar Cheese or Parmesan
Beat the eggs and the milk in a bowl.  Spray nonstick pan with coconut oil spray.  Heat pan over medium heat.  Add egg/ milk mixture.  Cook stirring constantly with a plastic spoon or rubber spatula.   When eggs are almost finished cooking add the cheese evenly through the eggs and remove from heat.  I serve them just like this to Nat but Jackson likes his served with a side of ketchup.
(3) Pumpkin Muffins
These are a staple in out house during the Autumn months.  I make these for the kids on the first day of Fall.  They love them!!  They are not the healthiest in the world but I did change the original recipe from tons of oil to part oil and part applesauce.  Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and Vitamin A.
1 box yellow cake mix
1 can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients. Pour evenly into muffin pan that has been lined with paper muffin cup liners. Bake for 25 minutes.
(4) Fruit Parfaits
Simply layer yogurt, then fruit and then granola 2 times each in a dish. This is so easy and will fill your kiddos up for a busy school day.
(5) Peanut Butter Smoothies
1 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
1/2 nonfat greek yogurt, plain
1/4 cup natural or low-sugar peanut butter
1 banana
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp agave
Crushed Ice
Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until all is combined and there are no longer any ice chunks.

Hope these ideas help your mornings!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Basil & Lemon Pesto

Fall is almost here but I decided to make some fresh pesto with the basil I had left in the yard.  I had to end up using part of mine and some from Trader Joe's because mine was almost all gone…. until next summer! I love this pesto because adding the lemon make it taste quite fresh. I have had pestos that have too much olive oil and it weighs everything down that you put with it.  
3 garlic cloves
2 cups of basil
1/2 cup of pine nuts 
1/2 grated parmesan
juice of 1 lemon
1/2- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Put all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until combined and the perfect pesto consistency.
I served mine over whole wheat pasta with grilled chicken on top and a little bit more freshly grated parm on top.  My kids ate this too but they preferred their grilled chicken on the side.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Power Protein Balls

I made these up for a quick & healthy snack that would also satisfy my extreme sweet tooth.  I am not usually a huge fig fan but they add the perfect amount of sweetness! I can't eat just one!!
16 oz raw cashews or cashew pieces
12 oz Black Mission figs, stems removed
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until ingredients combine and start "clumping" together. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.  Roll mixture into 1-11/2 inch balls.  Place on baking sheet.  Once you have made all of the balls place baking sheet into freezer for 2-3 hours to flash freeze them.  If you went ahead and put them in a bag they would all clump together!  Remove and now you can transfer into a freezer bag and place back in the freezer.  I pull 1-2 out as I want for a quick snack. My kids love these too!!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Mom

My Aunt Virginia and My Mom
This is the first time I have gotten truly personal on my blog.  I woke up on the 14th of this month just like any other day.  As I laid in bed I immediately had an overwhelming urge to write a post about my mom.  For a couple of minutes of my thoughts I wasn't sure why I was thinking about this.  Usually I wake up wondering when the kids are going to get up, what to make for breakfast or what I need to get done during the day.  But this particular morning was different.  See my mom told me that she was sick on September 14th, 2005.  Nine years ago.  Wow- once I realized this my mind started racing- what should I say, how should I say it, is this too personal to talk about on a food, fashion and party blog??? My sister said writing a blog is for me so that I can write about anything I want so I decided to go for it.  
The Hardest Day
I remember that day like it was yesterday.  My mom called me at work and asked me to stop by her house on my way home from work.  I said "Sure, is everything ok?" She said "Yes, we just need to have a pow-wow."  She sounded different.  I knew something was up.  I got off the phone the phone with her and my thoughts were all over the place…. "Were she and my dad having trouble- were they separating?" or "Was Madeline pregnant?" (my sis was in college at the time).  So, after work I drove to her house.  Allen's (my husband) car was already in the driveway, so whatever was going on she wanted him there too.  I walked in, no small talk and immediately asked what was going on.  She was ironing and she looked up and said "I have cancer, I don't think I need to tell you what kind."  See my mom had been a smoker.  She tried to quit many, many times but always started back.  I don't remember much right after that because all I know is that I literally felt the ground disappear from under me.  Literally- gone.  Next thing I know is that Allen grabbed me and held me.  I sobbed, pretty much uncontrollably.  What was I going do?? My mom was my rock, my best friend, my go-to person about everything…. MY MOM.  We talked everyday, probably 3-5 times per day.  We saw each other most days.  My immediate thought was to help.  I said "I will quit my job and I will take care of you."  She, of course, turned me down.  She said, "Your job is important and you love it, I will be fine." Allen and I had been trying to start a family so I remember saying "I'll wait on the baby-thing for now and focus on you."  She said "Absolutely not- you need to have that family you have always wanted.  It's going to be so exciting!"  That was just how my mom was.  She didn't want me to fuss over her or do anything differently, she wanted my life to continue on as always.  But in my mind, it stopped when she told me she was sick.  She explained the different procedures, treatments and everything else that was going to be taking place but that part is a blur.  She had a surgery the next day where a port was inserted in her chest and that would be how chemotherapy would be administered.   I don't remember when I told my friends what was going on.  I had Allen tell most people because I just couldn't get the words out without crying.  I leaned on Allen a lot during the next days, weeks, months and years.  
Her Struggle
Mom went through many rounds of chemotherapy, including a clinical trial, radiation, brain radiation (to prevent the cancer from spreading there) and even brain surgery.  She changed in little ways over the next few years.  She was a calmer person.  I never remember seeing her mad or upset after she was diagnosed.  Mom had always been a big meat eater. The treatments made meat taste funny and like metal.  So she started loving pasta and sweets- just like I always have!  I would make her homemade Chicken 'n' Dumplings with very little chicken and lots of dumplings.  She loved the taste and how the dumplings felt on her throat that was sore from reflux.  She also used to be so frugal.  Now that just didn't seem as important anymore.  Not that she was blowing all of her money frivolously, but she did get what she wanted, when she wanted it.  I did, eventually, get pregnant (that's a whole other story!).  And she was over-the-moon excited when my first baby Jackson arrived.  He was born August 25, 2006 and she was right there for it all!  She also got to be there 16 months later for the birth of my sweet Nat on January 11, 2008.  She told me at one point after I had Nat that she wished I could squeeze out just one more baby before she died.  She loved being a grandma that much!!  But, unfortunately that just was not possible.  She died on October 9th, 2008.  I am so thankful that she got to meet and spend time with my two boys.  She wanted to be with them every minute that she could.  She knew how precious time was and to cherish every second.  She had 2 girls so I think it was an eye-opening experience for her.  She desperately wanted me to have a little girl so that we would have the same bond that she and I had.  I told her "Mom, I will probably have three boys and that will be just fine by me!" She simply shook her head as though she knew something that I didn't.
My Miracle
After lots of trouble once again, I found myself pregnant and at the point when you can find out the sex of the baby.  It was October 27th, 2011.  It was mine and Allen's 10 year anniversary.  We were headed out to dinner with our family to celebrate my birthday and out anniversary.  I had been so sick throughout the whole pregnancy.  Allen and I were sure we were having a boy.  In the ultrasound, I said to the tech, "I just want to know if everything is ok with the baby.  You can tell me sex last but I know it is a boy".  So, she gave us the ok on everything.  I, all the while, kept saying "I see the little boy part".  She laughed and said "Nope- it's a girl!!!"  I couldn't believe it! I burst into tears and turned to Allen and said "Mom would be so excited".  Mary Hollingsworth Hauser (Hollins) was born March 21, 2012.  She was named for my two grandmothers who were both named Mary and my mom.  Her middle name "Hollingsworth" was my mom's middle name.  My mom went by "Holli" and my baby girl goes by "Hollins" (thanks to my friend Erica who came up with the best nickname!).  She is a true gift from God and from my mom.  I really think that my mom sent her to me- in a way to take her place as my best friend.  Hollins and I do have a very strong bond, even more so than I expected.  She is my angel.  People see glimpses of my mom in Hollins all the time and that makes me smile.  Both of the boys have attributes that remind me of my mom also.  Jackson is super clever and can put anything together, just like my mom.  And Nat always has a smile on his face and has never met a stranger, just like mom.  Those are the things that keep her memory alive to me everyday.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about her.  I very much wish that my mom was still here and that I got to take the kids to play with her on a daily basis. I want to be able to pick up the phone and call her like I used to especially when I need parenting advice or to vent about something from my day.  She always knew how to handle everything.  At least that is the way I saw it.  She is my hero and I will always be her biggest fan.
Mom with Jackson
Mom with Nat
Me with Hollins


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers with Tzatkiki

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers
1 lb ground turkey meat ( I used ground turkey breast)*
1/4 cup crumbled feta
2 1/2 tbsp roasted red peppers, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp sundried tomatoes in olive oil, finely chopped
1 tsp Greek seasoning
Combine ingredients with your hands to evenly distribute all of the flavors throughout the meat.  Make into 4 equal patties.  Grill burgers until cooked through.
*If you feel your burgers are too dry or don't stay together, you can add one beaten egg to the mixture before grilling. Mine did not need this! 

1 English cucumber, peeled and grated 
1 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, pressed or very finely minced
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
2 tbsp of fresh dill, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Drain grated cucumber through a mesh strainer overnight or for at least 8 hours.  Mix all ingredients until flavors are combine.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve burger, tzatkiki and purple onion in a lettuce leaf along with a delicious glass of rosé.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Elements to Great Cooking & Loving Every Minute of it

Enjoying a glass of Rose while Gwyneth lends inspiration

1. Have a cocktail while you cook.  It will loosen you up a bit which is great if you are trying something new or cooking with someone else.  But don't have too much- you don't want to burn the food or leave out a critical ingredient.
2.  Have "your girls" with you.  I am a big fan of the 3 G's: (1) Giada deLaurentiis (2) Gwyneth Paltrow (3) Garten… That's Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa)  I love their cookbooks, shows, websites etc… They are very inspirational to me.
3.  Good tools.  These will make your life so much easier. You should have a decent wooden spoon, a sharp chef's knife, a mini food processor, a microplane or cheese grater and a good Le Creuset pot.
4. If using anything canned or pre-packaged always pick the "No Salt Added" that way you can control the flavor of your food and you don't get stuck with a lot of sodium that you don't need!

5. Keep a well-stocked pantry.  That way if the day gets away from you chances are you could find something to cook at the last minute.  I always have chicken broth, different kinds of beans, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce & paste, quinoa, different pastas, couscous, olives, artichoke hearts.  Between that, my freezer and whatever is left in my refrigerator I can usually come up with something edible.

6. Don't be afraid to try something new…if you don't like it or it doesn't turn out…. what's the big deal?  My husband will usually politely say "this recipe is probably not a keeper" or "it's not my favorite".  Just be sure you try a new recipe before you make it for a dinner party or holiday!

7.  If you have one close, get your fruit and vegetables from a local farmer's market.  You aren't only helping out a local business, the freshness and flavor will show in your cooking.  In Charlotte, we have great one that I have gone to my whole life.  Unfortunately, it is not open year-round.

Hopefully these tips will inspire you and will get you cooking!!!


Monday, September 8, 2014

WIW: Style Night Out 2014

It is still crazy hot and humid here in NC!  I wanted to find something to wear to SNO that would work for the weather but would also transition into fall.  I also knew I wanted something in print- and we all know that leopard is the perfect neutral.  This Mumu dress from Scout & Molly's is just gorgeous.  I can wear this dress for three out of four seasons.  When the weather starts to cool off, I will throw a leather jacket on over the maxi dress.  
Dress: Show Me Your Mumu from Scout & Molly's
Shoes: Halogen from Nordstrom (on sale now!)
Long Necklace: Poppy Style
Short Necklace: Laura James Jewelry

Flash Tattoos: Scout & Molly's
Bracelet: Kate Spade


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage

I love risotto! It is one of my all-time favorite foods.  I don't make it often because it is time-consuming. It not hard to make but does take time to make it right.  With fall right around the corner, this Butternut Squash Risotto is perfect. The toppings make the risotto, so don't even think about not adding those!

4 cups of cubed butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper
On a roasting pan lined with foil, toss the squash with the olive oil. Arrange in an even layer on the roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until very light brown and cooked through.  Puree 1 cup of squash.* Set aside.

1 tbsp of olive oil
3 shallots, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup of arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp of butter
Salt & Pepper, to taste

In one pot bring broth to a low boil.  In another pot heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add shallots and garlic.  Cook until softened.  Add rice, stirring constantly to light toast the rice- about 2-3 minutes.  Add the wine.  When wine has absorbed, add ladle of broth. Stir until broth has been absorbed.  Continue this process until there is no broth left and rice is cooked through and not crunchy-can take up to 30 minutes. Turn heat to low. Add pureed squash to risotto. Stir well.  Add butter, parmesan, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine. Remove from heat. 


Balsamic Drizzle
Cook 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar with a spoonful of brown sugar until reduced and thickened.

Pine Nuts
Lightly toast as many pine nuts as you like in a pan.

Crispy Sage Leaves
In small pan, heat 3-4 tbsps of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add sage leaves (2 at a time) and fry for 15-30 seconds.  Using tongs, remove leaves from oil and place on paper towel-lined plate. 

 Spoon risotto in a bowl, drizzle with balsamic glaze, sprinkle extra parmesan and pine nuts and top with crispy sage leaves.

*I usually puree the rest of the squash and add it to marinara sauce to go on top of ravioli for my kids.  They don't notice and it is a great way to snack in some extra veggies!