Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Butternut Squash & Turkey Lasagna

This lasagna is the perfect fall meal.  It's hearty, delicious and slightly sweet.  Butternut squash and sage are one of my favorite parings.  I really enjoyed it.  Allen liked it too but had a bit of trouble getting used to it not being a more traditional tomato-based lasagna.

Roasted Garlic
3 heads of garlic, tops removed
olive oil
Preheat oven to 400.  Place each garlic clove on its own piece of foil.  Drizzle olive oil over garlic and fold foil tightly around each clove of garlic. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.    Squeeze garlic out of the head into food processor.
Butternut Squash Sauce
3 packages cubed butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups half & half
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp Italian seasonings, dried
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
In bowl toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper.   Pour on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake  for 30-35 minutes.  Put in food processor with roasted garlic.  Puree until smooth.  
In a medium-sized pot put butternut squash, half & half and chicken broth and heat stirring constantly.  Add mascarpone and parmesan and stir and completely combined.  Add salt, pepper and Italian seasonings and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in sage.
Turkey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound ground white turkey meat
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
Heat olive oil in pan.  Brown crumbled turkey in olive oil until no longer pink.  Add seasonings and sage.

12 No-Boil Lasagna Noodles
4 cups baby Spinach
2 cups fresh Mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups Fontina cheese, shredded
In a greased 9x13 pan, pour 1 cup of sauce in bottom of pan. Then layer 4 lasagna noodles over that. Then pour another 2 cups of sauce over the noodles.  Add 1/2 of the cooked, ground turkey.  Put 2 cups of the baby spinach over the turkey then drizzle olive oil over the leaves.  Sprinkle over 1 cup of cheese (part Fontina part Mozzarella).  Add 4 lasagna noodles, followed by another 2 cups of sauce and then the other half of the ground turkey.  Put the last 2 cups of the baby spinach topped with a drizzle of   olive oil. Sprinkle over another cup of the cheeses.  Then top with the last 4 lasagna noodles; then the remaining sauce.  Then then last 2 cups of cheese goes on top.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.  Top with more fresh chopped sage.

Enjoy!
Josephine

Monday, October 27, 2014

Struggles

A couple of weeks ago through a friend on Facebook, I saw that the 15th was National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day.  I had never heard of this before this year.  I got me thinking about another serious post. I am not usually one for putting my thoughts and feeling out there unless you are one of my VERY close friends.  I avoid making someone feel uncomfortable at all cost because I hate feeling uncomfortable. But here I go…..
I have 3 beautiful, living children and even when they are driving me crazy I feel immensely blessed beyond words.  But getting those three was not always easy.  In 2005, when Allen and I had been married 4 years, we decided that we wanted to start a family.  So we started trying.  It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.  I had spent so many years trying not to get pregnant that I was astonished when it didn't happen the first… or second… or third month.  It took 6 months to get pregnant the first time.  I know that is not actually that long, now.  I have friends who tried for much, much longer.  But going through it while my mom was sick, it seemed like forever!  I was overjoyed when I got that first "positive" pregnancy test.  It was a little piece of joy in the middle of an extremely rough time with my mom.  I went to the doctor and everything looked good.  We were due with our first child in mid-June.  Everything was pretty routine.  I heard the heartbeat around 8 weeks or so.  My next appointment was when I was 10 1/2- 11 weeks.  Allen came with me so that he could hear the heartbeat.  The doctor did an internal ultrasound so that we could see the baby and the heartbeat.  I kept looking at the doctor and Allen's faces waiting for them to say, "There it is!"  But nothing.  She said, "I'm sorry.  There is no heartbeat."  I laid there- shocked and began to sob.  Why?  There was a heartbeat a few weeks before- what had happen- what did I do wrong?!?!  She said "Nothing.  Sometimes these things just happen."  She asked if I want to have a D&C or did I want to let thing progress on its own.  Who in the world would want to sit around just waiting to lose a baby?  My mom had miscarried at home once (not by choice) and had told me everything she saw and went through and that was not going to be me.  So, we set the surgery for 2 days later.   When I told a people (very few people) what had happened the responses or comments were not what I wanted to hear.  I heard everything from: "there must have been something wrong with the baby" to "I bet is because you were so stressed about your mom having cancer, that you lost the baby" to "Oh, I have known someone who had 5 or 6 miscarriages".  At the time, I couldn't understand why people would say such things but I know now people will say anything that might make you feel better.  They do not mean anything by it.  Unless someone has walked in your shoes they have NO IDEA what you are going through.  And you can not expect then to either.  They are just trying their best to be there for you.  Cut them a little slack.   A couple of weeks later my tests came back saying that there was a chromosome abnormality.  The baby I lost was a girl and she had Turner's Syndrome.  I think I would have been just fine not knowing these details.  It made the baby seem more real knowing it was a girl.
Jackson 2006
I got pregnant with Jackson when I still "recovering" from the miscarriage.  It was a shock to everyone including my doctor.  I worried constantly.  My doctor had me in the office regularly because of my previous miscarriage.  Every ultrasound and heartbeat check until I was 12 weeks, I was a nervous wreck.  But all was good this time around.  Thomas Jackson Hauser was born August 25, 2006.  I only have one sister and we are 7 years apart.   I knew that I wanted 3-4 children and that I wanted them to be close in age.  So when Jackson was 8 months we tried again (thinking it might take a little time!).  Well, I got pregnant first try this time and this pregnancy was fairly easy and uneventful.  Nathaniel Reynolds Hauser was born January 11, 2008.  My boys were 16 months apart.  My mom died when Nat was just 9 months old.  I knew we wanted more children but also knew I did not want to do it while I was grieving.  I now it was time to focus on Jackson and Nat.
Nat 2008
We started trying again in the summer of 2010 and we got pregnant right away again.  I had had two easy pregnancies so the miscarriage thoughts were not even in my mind.  The first one was just a fluke.  Then I had my 10 week doctor's appointment at the end of September.  Again I had heard the heartbeat a couple of weeks earlier.  It was good and strong.  I was queasy day and night.  Also a great sign because that meant there were lots of hormones running through my body.  But once again, no heartbeat.  I was devastated.   I chose to have another D&C.  This is was a lot harder to recover from.  I lost a lot of blood during the procedure and they almost had to do a blood transfusion.  I was weak and pale for a couple of weeks.  Once I recovered we got the green light to try again.  I got pregnant in late November.  I was due around Jackson's birthday in August.  I was SUPER nervous this time.  Allen came with me to every doctor's appointment (just in case).  On Monday, January 31st I had my 10 week appointment.  I got up, took a shower while Allen tended to the boys.  I stepped out of my shower to dry off.  As I looked down at floor I saw a small drop of blood.  I called for Allen.  As he walked in the bathroom I felt more coming down my leg.  I stepped back in the shower.  By the time he called the doctor the shower looked as though someone had been murdered.  I couldn't even stand anymore.  I was weak and in pain.  The doctor's office said to call 911.  Madeline (my sis) came and got me a shirt to put on.  I had to try to hold on to a bit of modesty if I could.  As I laid there I remember vividly hearing the sirens of an ambulance.  Knowing that they are for you is a very scary experience.  Before I knew it I was surrounded firemen and EMTs and they were trying to figure out how to get me out of the house on a gurney down the stairs.  They got me wrapped up and strapped down.  My biggest fear was the boys seeing me in this state.  So Madeline had them in the playroom far ways from me.  Once I was in the ambulance, the EMTs (2 young guys) hooked me up IVs and drove me the hospital.  Once in the hospital I was in absolutely excruciating pain.  The nurse had to give me morphine.  They called in a doctor from my practice because though I had lost a lot of blood, baby (though no heartbeat) and all still appeared in tact in my uterus.  So, once again I had a D&C.  Weeks later the results came back and there was nothing wrong with this baby boy.  So I had a few more procedures to find out what might be going on.  I was scraped, cleaned, extra scar tissue was removed- anything and everything that could be causing my miscarriages.  I got the ok in the summer to try again.  I was watched very carefully by my doctor and a reproductive endocrinologist.  I worried every day- every hours- probably every minute.   I got to 12 weeks and everything looked great.  We found out around 18 weeks that we having a girl!  I was put on bed rest with Hollins at around 23 weeks.  Full Bed rest. One step away from hospital bed rest.  Once again the worries came back about losing this baby.  But I made it and Mary Hollingsworth Hauser was born on March 21, 2012.
Hollins 2012
Unfortunately, my issues did not stop when I had her.  I bled for the next 2 months.  So, D&C here I come… again.  It still didn't stop after that.  So 4 months later, I had yet another one.  Still, the bleeding continued.  After trying IUDs and various birth control pills to help with the bleeding, my doctor and I came to the decision that I would need a hysterectomy.  It was going to be the only way.  This was a very difficult decision for me.  My friends joke that I would have 10 kids if I could (or if Allen would let me!).  I dreamed of giving Hollins a sister.  I had a sister.  Didn't she deserve that?  Nat and Jackson had each other and I wanted her to have someone to play princesses and Barbies with.  Jackson and Nat would fight over who got to play with Hollins and they would always suggest that I have another baby girl so they could each "have one" to play with!  That, of course, that sounded perfect to me.  But, I had to stop thinking that way.  I had to think about me being there for the 3 children I have now.  My surgeries usually left me out of commission for a few days.  And if I had another child I would probably have to be on bed rest again.  That would mean someone else would come in a raise my 3 children for a few months.  That was not an option.  So I made the choice and had a hysterectomy last summer.  I still get sad when I know I will never be pregnant again.  I will never feel a baby kick in my belly again.  I will never feel the amazing anticipation you feel when you find out the sex of your baby.   I will never feel the sheer joy that comes over you when you give birth and see your baby for the first time.  I know it was the right choice for me but that doesn't make it any easier.
 My Three Little Angels
XOXO,
Josephine

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Week of Outfits

The past couple of weeks have been a blast! I went to New York and celebrated my birthday…. a few times :-) These are some of my favorite outfits.
Oyster Roast Outfit:
This dress is super comfortable and I love that it is under $100! It could be dressed up if you wanted to pair it with fun heels.  I threw a long open cardigan over when it cooled off.  Frye boots are always a good idea.  They work with dresses and also go great over skinny jeans and leggings. 
Dress: VAVA from Revolve Clothing
Boots: Frye from Belk
Necklace from Poppy Style
Haunted House/ Dinner in NYC:
My sweater is so cozy and I have already expressed how much I adore my Spanx leggings. OBSESSED.  These booties even worked while I walked around the city and ran away from all of the scary creatures inside the haunted house!
Sweater: Autumn Cashmere from Piperlime
Leggings: Spanx from KK Bloom
Booties: Dolce Vita from Belk
Casual Date Night:
I wore flannel shirts in the 90's during my "grunge phase but I have to admit I'm glad they have made a comeback.  They look cute if you pair them with the right thing but they are also extremely comfy.  This one is from Zara but I also have a really cute one from Target!
Shirt from Zara
Jeans: AG from Piperlime
Booties: Dolce Vita from Belk

What have you been wearing lately?
XOXO,
Josephine

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pot Roast over Parmesan Risotto with Braised Collards

When cooler temps arrive, I immediately want soup and pot roast.  Sometime I add potatoes to my pot roast or make mashed potatoes to serve on the side with the delicious gravy.  This time I decided to try risotto under the pot roast.  It was so, so delicious!  I wanted way more leftovers than I had.  Next time I might double this recipe!! This was perfect for a Sunday meal, when you have a little more time to cook.
Pot Roast
3-4 pound chuck roast, seared on both sides
1 pound baby carrots
1 pound white mushrooms, cut in half
2 small yellow onions, quartered
Sauce
1 can of low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
1 package of Lipton Onion Soup mix
1/4 cup red wine (I used pinot noir)
3 tbsp Worcestershire 
1 tbsp oregano
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Spray the inside of a crockpot.  Place onions, carrots, and mushrooms on bottom.  Put seared roast on top.  Pour sauce on meat and over vegetables.  Cook on high for 6 hours.  Turn down to low.  Remove meat and shred with 2 forks removing excess fat.  Place shredded meat back in the crockpot.  Cook on low for additional hour.
Parmesan Risotto
1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup of arborio rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp of butter
4 tbsp heavy cream
1/3-1/2 cup fresh parmesan 
Salt & Pepper, to taste
In one pot bring broth to a low boil.  In another pot heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add shallots.  Cook until softened.  Add rice, stirring constantly to light toast the rice- about 2-3 minutes.  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 butter and stir well. Remove from heat and add cream, parmesan, salt and pepper.
Put Risotto in shallow dish and ladle pot roast over risotto.  Serve with Braised Collard Greens.
Braised Collard Greens
Large bag of collard greens
4 slices of thick cut bacon
1/3 cup apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a heavy pot,  cook the slices of bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate.  Add collards to pan.  Sauté until leaves are wilted.  Add apple cider, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15- 20 minutes.  Add bacon (crumbled) back to collards, if you like.
XOXO,
Josephine

Monday, October 20, 2014

New York Restaurant Recs

I adore New York City.  It is certainly one of my happy places.  I have been there almost every year since Allen took me in December of 2000 and proposed!  Yes, it was very romantic, in a horse-drawn carriage ride through a snow-laced Central Park.  I had just thrown a fit about the amount of money we spent for Tea at the Plaza Hotel ($90 for tea and a couple of pastries!) and then I lost my gloves and I was freezing!  So Allen tried to calm me down and suggested we take a ride through Central Park.  Needless to say, I was not in the mood but Allen convinced me to and we were off.  I was still crazily looking for me gloves in my many bags from my purchases from the day of shopping we had just finished.  As I look up, there is Allen, ring in hand, asking me to marry him!  I was shocked- I promise I had NO idea this was coming.  I said "yes!" put the ring on and them promptly found my lost gloves.  Best part is he still wanted to marry me after my massive tantrum!
So New York holds a special place in my heart.  I am now perfectly comfortable exploring the city and getting around on my own.  It can be very peaceful when I am "alone" as crazy as that sounds.  Most parts are familiar to me now and I know exactly where to go to find my favorite shops and restaurants.  I also know where to go if I need a bathroom while shopping which if you have been you know that is extremely helpful!  These are the things that make me feel comfortable in the city.  I think that New York can get a bad rap for unfriendly people, but I have not found that to be true.  Each trip I end up meeting someone that lives there that is from the South or has visited the South and loves it.
I went last weekend to spend some quality time with my friend Meg and to celebrate our birthdays. Our mothers were pregnant together and we were born a week apart in Charlotte.  Though Meg and I always went to different schools and have since not lived in the same city, we have stayed close through the years.
Coffee
 In New York there are literally Starbucks on every corner. But, branch out if you are in the West Village and check out Saturday Surf Shop.  Yes, it is a boutique surf shop with coffee.  I had the most delicious latte both days because it is right across from Meg's apartment.
Brunch
 Extra Virgin: This restaurant is right around the corner from Meg's apartment in West Village.  The Bellinis hit the spot and my brunch was so tasty but not too filling.  
 Bubby's (Highline): The Pickle Brine Bloody Mary was perfect and the Huevos Rancheros and biscuits were big enough to split.  If the weather is good, sit outside- there is terrific people-watching in the Meatpacking district.
 
Lunch 
 Melt Shop: If you like Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup this is the place to go.  They have all different kinds of Grilled Cheese- my personal favorite is the Truffle Melt.  It has Havarti, Truffle Oil and Arugula on it.  Yum!! There are 4 New York locations.
 Shake Shack:  The perfect place in the city to enjoy burgers and fries.  The burgers are all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free and have an amazing sauce on them called ShackSauce.  For dessert splurge with one of their delicious Frozen Custards.   They are all over New York so chances are you'll be near one at some point in your visit.

Dinner Spots
Nobu: This is one of my all time favorite restaurants.  It is a hot spot and great for people-watching but I truly love the food. I have eaten at all of the New York ones, the one in Las Vegas, Miami and the Bahamas.
My personal favs are:
Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapenõ 
Kumamoto Oysters
Crispy Rice with Tuna
Rock Shrimp with a Creamy Spicy Sauce
Lettuce-Wrapped Miso Cod
and the Mochi for dessert!
The Champagne 95 is a delicious cocktail to try.  I finally tried some cold sake (that I liked) when I was there also!
 Supper: This Italian restaurant in the East Village was a recommendation of my friend McCay's.  It's small and quaint and you could miss it if you weren't looking careful.  McCay and I had an amazing bottle of Barolo when we ate there a few years ago.  But, be sure to take cash- they don't accept cards!
Mercer Kitchen: I tried this Soho restaurant last year with a group of girlfriends.  Everyone enjoyed the atmosphere and the food was delicious.  The Fish & Chips and Warm Chocolate Cake were terrific!
Boqueria NYC:  My friend Meg took me to this amazing Spanish restaurant last weekend.  We drank delicious fall sangria and enjoyed and lots of different tapas.  My favorites were: Brussel Sprouts, Jamon Iberico (An Aged Spanish Ham that melts in your mouth!)  and the Bacon Wrapped Dates.
Other good restaurants to try: Lavo, Spice Market, Balthazar
Pastries
Ladurée in Soho has some of the most beautiful desserts you have ever seen.  When you walk in you feel as though you have been transported to Paris.  I got an assortment of their delicious macaroons.  My personal favorite flavors are the Gingerbread and Salted Caramel.
I have loved the cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery on Bleeker Street for a long time.  I usually go the traditional route and get a vanilla cupcake with their chocolate buttercream.  It will melt in your mouth!  Be prepare though, there might be a lie to get in but I think it is totally worth the wait!

The basement of the Plaza Hotel has many different vendors with pastries, desserts and all kinds of yummy treats.  I had an amazing Cashew Croissant that I have thought about many times since I had it last year!  Check it out!
Drinks- 
If you near Rockefeller Center stop by Morrell's Wine Bar.  They have great wines to chose from as well as Cheese & Charcuterie plates if you need a snack.
Bubble Lounge is a great place to enjoy champagne and yummy desserts like warm chocolate chip cookies and fondue.
Do yourself and favor and have drinks at one of the rooftop bars.  My personal favorites are the Gansevoort Hotel  and The Standard.  Both are in the Meatpacking District.  Tao also has a great bar with many delicious cocktails to chose from.
If you want a history lesson along with your beer stop by McSorley's Ale House. It has been around since 1854 and has served everyone from Abraham Lincoln to John Lennon.

I hope you love these suggestions! What are some of your NYC spots?
Josephine


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sriracha-Lime Chicken & Grilled Pineapple Salad

I have been using Sriracha more and more lately.  I love it's flavor!  This salad is fabulous- it is the perfect mixture of sweet, salty and spicy.
Grilled Chicken & Pineapple
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp Sriracha
juice of 2 limes
Salt & pepper, to taste
Pineapple, sliced
Combine sriracha and lime in a small bowl.  Salt and pepper the chicken. Pour sriracha-lime mixture over the 2 chicken breasts in shallow dish.  Marinate for 2 or more hours in the refrigerator. Grill chicken and sliced pineapple on grill.
Salad
Lettuce (I used romaine & mixed greens)
Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half
Avocado, diced
Purple Onion, diced
Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
Build your salad by putting all ingredients in a bowl and top with Cilantro- Jalapeño Dressing.
Enjoy,
Josephine

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cider Cocktails

When the calendar says fall but the temps still say summer- this drink is perfect!  It is slightly sweet, and little tart and has bubbles. What more could you ask for in a cocktail?
Cocktail
3 oz. Apple Cider
1/2 tsp-1 tsp Cinnamon Simple Syrup*
Champagne or Prosecco
Pour apple cider in cinnamon-rimmed glass.  Add simple syrup. Stir.  Top with your choice of bubbly.  Stir and enjoy!

For Cinnamon Sugar Rimmed Glass
Cinnamon 
Sugar
Lemon Wedge
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on a plate and stir together until evenly combined. Go around the lip of a champagne flute with lemon slice so that a bit of juice gets all around. Place the glass lip side down in the cinnamon sugar on the plate.  When you pick it back up you will have a beautifully rimmed glass!
Cinnamon Simple Syrup*
In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup of water.  Add 3-4 cinnamon sticks.  Bring to a slow boil.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until it becomes a thick syrup consistency.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Strain through mesh strainer.  It will keep in refrigerator for a couple of weeks. It is also delicious in coffee!
Cheers,
Josephine

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WIW: Perfect Early Fall Outfit

This is my favorite fall outfit so far.  I have already worn it a handful of times.  It's cute, comfortable and perfect for fall days down south when it is still pretty warm during the day.  It transitions perfectly with a fur vest for evenings when it cools off a bit.  I got the entire outfit at Scout & Molly's in Charlotte.  I have always loved Tolani- from their scarves, to their tunics and of course their dresses.  If you are local check out Scout & Molly's for some other great Tolani pieces.  Dolce Vita has been a fav shoe designer of mine for a while now.  These booties are amazing!  My sister's jewelry company, Poppy Style, has some amazing statement pieces. The stretchy bracelets are my go-to accessory for the fall.
Dress: Tolani 
Booties: Dolce Vita 
Jewelry: Poppy Style

Other great Tolani pieces:


Tiffany Gold Tunic Dress

XOXO,
Josephine


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tomato Soup with Orzo and Grilled Cheese Croutons

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup is the epitome of the perfect fall meal.  I have rarely met a tomato soup that I didn't like… or a grilled cheese for that matter!  It's delicious and hearty and the grilled cheese croutons are absolutely scrumptious!  Everyone is my house likes this but the kids prefer dipping the grilled cheese themselves so I don't cut it into croutons for them.  Fontina is the perfect cheese to use because it melts beautifully and has such good flavor. It makes a lot- so the five of us can eat it at least twice and I usually give some to my dad also.
Tomato Soup with Orzo
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cups yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large cans San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
8 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup of orzo
2 tbsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
In large pot heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until onions are soft and translucent.  Add garlic and sauté from another minute.  Add tomatoes, chicken stock, oregano, salt and pepper, stirring well.  Cook for 15- 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  While that is simmering, cup orzo according to package directions.  Add drained orzo half & half and cream to soup.  Stir and cook for 5-10 more minutes. 
Grilled Cheese Croutons
Good quality bread of choice
Shredded Fontina cheese*
Shredded Gruyere cheese*
Pile shredded cheese on one sliced of bread.  Place other slice of bread on top. Grilled on panini press for 1-2 minutes or until cheese has melted and bread is light brown.   Remove and let cool for 3-4 minutes.  Cut into squares the size of croutons.  Place on top of soup and serve!
* I didn't put exact portions of cheese because it completely depends on how big your bread is.  I usually use 1 part Gruyere to 2 parts Fontina for reference.
XOXO,
Josephine

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I pretty much love anything and everything with Buffalo wing sauce on it…and these were no exception!  I felt better about eating them since nothing was fried or carb-heavy.  The Blue Cheese dressing was amazing- so much better than store-bought.  I kept the leftovers in the fridge for the kids to dip their veggies in all week.  These Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps were perfect for a night in watching football with Allen!
Buffalo Chicken
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 bottle of your choice of Buffalo sauce ( I used Frank's)
1 packet Ranch seasonings
1 tbsp coconut oil
Spray crockpot with cooking spray.  Put in chicken, sauce, ranch packet and oil.  Cook on high for 4 hours then turn down to low for last 2-4 hours.  Shred chicken with 2 forks. 
Slaw
1 bag coleslaw
1/2 cup shredded carrots
3 green onions
1/4 cup vinegar
3 tbsp greek yogurt
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine coleslaw, carrots and
onions in bowl.  Mix vinegar, yogurt, mayonnaise, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Pour over slaw mixture and refrigerate 1-2 hours.
Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 cup blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbles
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 light sour cream
1/2 tsp worcestershire 
juice of half a lemon
splash of milk (optional)
salt, to taste
Blend all ingredients in a mini food processor.
Other toppings
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Diced Celery
Diced Avocado
Lettuce- we used bibb lettuce but I used 2 per lettuce wrap because it is pretty flimsy. Green Leaf lettuce would work also.
Pile all ingredients in a lettuce cup and enjoy!
XOXO,
Josephine

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My Best Friend's Wedding

This past weekend one of my very best friends got married and I could not be happier for her!  Michelle and I became friends our freshman year at Meredith College.  We met through a mutual friend in the spring of that year and have been friends ever since.  Michelle and I have been there for each other through all of life's up and downs…. and between the 2 of us- we have had a lot!  I was in her first wedding in July 2001.  In late August, two months before my wedding, she called me to "tell me something".  I could tell she was nervous.  She said "I'm pregnant".  She thought I would be upset because she would be pregnant at my wedding!  I was overjoyed for her!  Two months later she was my bridesmaid- nausea bands and all- at my wedding in Charlotte.  When Allen and I lived in Raleigh and she moved in right down the street- it was perfect! I remember when she called me the night of May 2002 to tell me she was headed to the hospital to have her baby boy.  I promptly got in the car and headed there too. Her mom, Ginger, her other best friend, Jordan, and I were having the best time cracking jokes and keeping Michelle entertained while she was in labor.  So then it came time for her to push and Jordan, Ginger and I headed out the door when the nurse asked "Where are you going? You can stay and help."  I was pretty terrified but ok with it if that is what they wanted.  So, I did.  Bradley Clark Warnock jr., "Clark" was born very early that morning and I got to be there.  
Then over the next few weeks Michelle's body just was not going back to normal as it should after you have a baby.  Since we were neighbors, she would call and ask me to sit with baby Clark while she went to the hospital.  This happened a few times in the 6 weeks after Clark was born.  I was happy to do so but I was very worried about her.  Then came the call.  Jordan was with her and they had just diagnosed Michelle with cancer.  It was choriocarcinoma that had developed from a piece of Clark's placenta being left her uterus after delivery.  After weeks and months of chemotherapy, Michelle beat cancer. Her strength amazed me.  
Michelle was there for me when my mom was diagnosed with cancer a few years later in 2005.  She loved my mom just like I did.  Whenever Michelle came to town she wanted to visit with mom too, not just me.  That always meant a lot to my mom… and me.
Jackson & Michelle 2006
When my first child, Jackson, was born, while she wasn't in the delivery room, she showed up the next day to help me with all of the ins and outs of motherhood.  She is my second child's (Nat) godmother and I am her second child's (Parker) godmother. We talked when we could but between husbands, children, jobs and everything else in life it was sometimes hard.  But that was ok. We understood.  I always knew she would be there if I needed her and I hope that she felt the same about me.  Then, came the call that shocked me beyond belief.  Michelle and her husband were separating.  I immediately headed up to see her.  We talked, we drank, we talked more, we drank more.  She was so strong.  Once again, I was amazed by her and her strength.  When I struggled with fertility issues, she was there for me.  She constantly worried about me.  I could always call her to talk, vent or really say pretty much anything.  So, needless to say we have been through a lot together-
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.
Greg won me over the morning after my sister's wedding.  He came in town the day of the wedding to be Michelle's date.  It was a great party and the drinks flowed all night…. but not for me.  I was pregnant with Hollins.  The day after the wedding I threw a brunch for family and close friends.  Well, my sweet husband and Michelle, who were suppose to be my "helpers" were not in the best shape the next morning.  So, Greg saved the day!  He helped me get the food and house ready for a crowd of people.  I was so thankful for him and at that point I knew he was a keeper!  I was so happy to be a part of Michelle and Greg's special day last weekend.  I couldn't be more excited for them to start their lives together.  Their four children are incredibly lucky to have parents so devoted to them and each other. Their blended family now feels like a part of my family.
Parker Me & Michelle 2008
Nat Me & Michelle 2009

2014
Love you Chelle & Greg!!