Thursday, November 19, 2015

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

When we had a cold spell last week and decided to make up my own version of chicken soup.  All three kids gobbled it up.  We only had one bowl of leftovers!! 
2 tbsp olive oil
1 container of Mirapoux
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups cooked and shredded chicken breast
7-8 cups chicken broth
1tbsp thyme
1 tbsp oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
3 cups of half & half
juice from 2 lemons
8 oz orzo, cooked
In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add Mirapoux and cook for 10-15 minutes or until onion has softened.  Add garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add chicken, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and broth.  Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add lemon juice.  In separate pot, melt butter and add flour to make a roux.  Add half & half slowly stirring constantly.  When thickened,  add to soup.  Add cooked orzo.  Simmer to let all flavors combine.  Serve with Parmesan Crostini.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

This has been a family favorite recipe in my family for years.  I won our Pawley's Island Family Cooking Contest one year with this recipe.  And in my family of chefs, that is a big accomplishment! We like ours with shrimp but you leave the shrimp out to make these vegetarian.  Some people like tofu in these but I have never tried that personally.

Summer Rolls
Rice Paper Rolls, softened in warm water according to directions
Rice Noodles, cooked according to directions 
Medium Shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined {optional}
Cucumbers, sliced into 2 inch strips
Shredded Carrots
Thai Basil Leaves
Mint Leaves
Bean Sprouts {optional}

Lay rice paper wrapper on damp paper towel.  In the center of wrapper place all of your ingredients.  Roll up like a burrito by folding in each side and rolling carefully.  Store between damp paper towels to keep rice paper soft.  Serve with Peanut Sauce.
Peanut Sauce
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp Soy Sauce
3-4 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
2 tbsp Peanut Butter
1 tbsp Sugar
Place all ingredients in mini food processor and pulse until combined.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do in our family!

Friday, October 2, 2015

News + Must-Have Fall Pieces

I love the quote "If you do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." I have always had a passion for shopping, clothes and accessories.  It is in my blood.  My grandmother loved the same things and our time together was usually spent shopping for outfits together.  Last year I started the blog because of this passion.  So {after a lot of encouragement from my wonderful sister & friends!}…. I have started doing some personal shopping/ styling.  I have been doing this for friends for years and now I have decided to make a career of it.  It's going great so far and I am loving every minute of it!!!

The past few weeks I have been buying Fall pieces for myself and pulling things for friends and clients.  Here are some must-have pieces for the fall:
Let's be honest, plaid is always a staple for fall.  From button downs to coats to scarves, everyone can fit a plains into there wardrobe.
 BB Dakota Dress {got mine at Scout & Molly's}
Have I said how excited I am that flare jeans are back in style???  Love them all!

Fringe everything is so "in" right now.  Theses skirts can be dressed up or down depending on your mood or event.

It can be leather, mixed media, fringe… or all of the above.  These easy-to-throw-on pieces pair great with any fall outfit to keep you cozy as days turn to chilly nights!
These would work with skinny jeans, flare jeans or track pants.

There are so many different booties out there right now to choose from.  Try some that have some fun detail or that are a different color from traditional brown or black. Your "pop of color" for the day could be your booties!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

5 Days of Meals & a Cocktail

With three children and a husband that travels for work, meal planning is a vital part of my week.  I either sit down Sunday or Monday to plan out our dinners for the week ahead. Over the summer I was a little slack about this because I could be.  With school back in full swing, I have got to buckle down and get back to it!
To help you all out I made 2 lists.  The things I always have on hand and things I had to buy for the week.  Obviously if you don't have something on the "Things I have on hand" list you will need to add those to your grocery list also.
Things I always have on hand:
Olive Oil
White Wine Vinegar
Grapeseed Oil
Carton(s) of Low-Sodium Chicken broth
Fresh Garlic
Nuts {kept in freezer}: Sliced Almonds & Pinenuts
Thick-cut Bacon
Block of Feta
Grated Parmesan
Plain Greek Yogurt
Seasonings & Spices- Greek Seasoning, Cumin, Salt & Pepper

Grocery List
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts {2 for Grilled Greek Chicken/ 2 for Soup}
1 whole chicken
1/2 lb medium-size shrimp
Large Bag of Kale
2 Bags of Lemons
2 Bag of Limes
Large Yellow Onion
Bunch of Green Onions
2-3 Jalapeños
Bag of Avocados
16 oz Grape Tomatoes
2 Bunches of Asparagus
Jicama {optional for Quinoa Bowls}
Whole Butternut Squash
Bunch of Mint
Bunch of Cilantro
Kalamata Olives
Can of Black Beans
Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack Cheese

The 5 MEALS for the week are:
(1) Roast Chicken with Asparagus Cous Cous {recipes below}
(2) Butternut Squash Noodles with Kale Bacon & Feta
(3) Chicken-Lime-Avocado Soup
(4) Shrimp Quinoa Bowls with Cilantro-Jalapeno Dressing
(5) Grilled Greek Chicken over Simple Kale Salad {recipes below}
PLUS a Traditional Mojito {recipe below}
Roasted Chicken {Ina Garten recipe}
1 whole chicken
1 head of garlic, cut in half
1 large yellow onion, sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425.  Dry raw chicken with paper towel.  Brush outside with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Season inside of chicken with plenty of salt and pepper also.  Place garlic and 1 of the lemons (cut into quarters) inside the chicken.  Place chicken in roasting pan(that not too big or else onions will burn).  In medium- size bowl place remaining quartered lemons, sliced onions, 2 tbsps of olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and combine well.  Pour around chicken in the roasting pan.  Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes.  Make sure juices are running out clear from the chicken!
Cous Cous with Asparagus
2 cups Israeli Cous Cous
2 bunches of asparagus, washed & trimmed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pits removed
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
zest from 2 lemons
1/3 cup extra virgin Olive Oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp whole grain or dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375.  Place a trimmed asparagus on lined baking sheet tossed with 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 pepper.  Roast for 15-25 minutes depending on size of asparagus.  While asparagus is cooking, cook 2 cups of couscous {until al dente} according to package directions.  Make dressing in small bowl and set aside until salad is ready to assemble.  Remove asparagus and set to cool.  Slice into 1 inch pieces.  Drain couscous.  Combine all ingredients in large bowl and toss with dressing.  I served mine room temperature but it would be great warm or cold also!

Grilled Greek Chicken
2 organic chicken breasts
3 tbsp olive oil
zest of one lemon
juice of two lemons
2 tbsp Greek seasoning
1 tsp oregano
Mix oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, seasoning and oregano in a small bowl.  Place chicken breast in shallow glass dish.  Make 3-4 small slits in the top of the chicken breasts (making sure not to cut all the way through).  Pour marinade over chicken.  Refrigerate for 1-4 hours.  Grill and serve with your choice of sides.
Simple Kale Salad
4 cups of kale (center stem removed and torn into bite-sized pieces)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 sliced and toasted almonds
pepper, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
juice from two lemons
Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine until everything is coated with olive oil and lemon juice.

Allen loves it when he comes home from work on a Friday evening and not only is dinner ready, but he also has a fun cocktail to relax with.  Mojitos are a personal in this house!
Traditional Mojito
10-12 Mint Leaves, torn in half {5-6 for each glass}
Juice of 4 Limes, sliced {2 for each drink}
3 tbsp sugar {1 1/2 for each drink}
6 oz Bacardi Limon {3 oz for each drink}
Club Soda, chilled
Crushed Ice
Squeeze each of the limes in the two glasses.  Add torn mint leaves and sugar.  Muddle these ingredients together.  Add rum and muddle a bit more.  Set glasses in refrigerator for 20 minutes or so. Add club soda and ice and stir well.
Enjoy these meals & this fun beverage!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Napa/ Sonoma Recap

Let me start by saying that the trip Allen and I went on with friends last week was the trip of a lifetime…. although I do hope to repeat it in a couple of years.  We worked hard to plan every detail of the trip from the different wineries we visited to where we ate our meals.  
During our drive from San Francisco to Sonoma, Allen and I stopped to see the Golden Gate Bridge and dined at In-N-Out Burger, a personal favorite of ours. 

The first afternoon we arrives we walked around the quaint town of Sonoma.  We started at Sigh, a champagne tasting room.  It was precious.  I chose to do a rosé champagne flight.  I found a new favorite champagne. 
The first morning Allen and I travelled up to Calistoga to Schramsberg Winery.  It was definitely one of our favorites- and Allen doesn't even like sparkling wine or champagne.  We toured the caves and heard great stories about the history and how they make their delicious sparkling wine.  after the wonderful experience I knew I had to join the Wine Club.  YAY!!!   
Those are all bottles of bubbly lining that hall!
Allen & I with Schramsberg barrels.

Once our friends arrived in town we headed to Scribe Winery in Sonoma. It was a quaint and rustic winery.  We sat outside at picnic tables and enjoyed a few tastings of some of their wines.  

It was my friend Erica's birthday so we went out to a delicious meal at The Girl & the Fig.  It had come highly recommended and it did not disappoint!
I had the Sweet Corn Pasta.

The next day we headed out to Darioush Winery where we got a tour of the exquisite winery.  The decor inside and out was magnificent!  Then we enjoyed a food and wine pairing in the owner's private wine cellar.  It was a truly amazing experience.  

The Panna Cotta with Fennel And Saffron Chicken Skewers were my favorite tastes.

Then we headed right down the road to Turnbull.  This was a more rustic, farm-like winery.  We got to tour the barrel rooms and taste wine paired with cheese and chocolate.  They have a wine called "Josephine" so I of course had to buy some to bring home!

A fun time was had by all…. obviously
Dinner that night was a Ad Hoc- another highly recommended restaurant.  We did not know until we arrived that there was no menu.  You sit down and you get the one meal {served family style} they are serving that evening.  Luckily it was amazing!  It was a great day all together!

On Friday Allen and I went to the spa to relax for a bit before our tours started.  First off we headed to Lymnar Estate where we toured there beautiful garden and had an amazing and delicious lunch prepared there and paired with different wines.  We could have stayed there all day and enjoyed the views!  

We stopped by Red Car Tasting Room.  It was so neat and eclectic.  You could do everything in there from shop for jewelry, to taste wine and even play Cards Against Humanity!   

For dinner back in Sonoma we ate at Cafe La Haye.  I would highly recommend it- but make reservations early- it fills up quickly!!
The Crispy Polenta with Mushrooms & Fennel was my favorite dish!

Our last morning was spent at the Caymus Tasting Room.  We have been to a Caymus Wine Dinner in Charlotte that we loved so we knew we would love tasting some more of their fabulous wines! 

For lunch we went to Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch.  It was an amazing farm-to-table restaurant recommend by friends that live in California.  
After having wine for days, I switched it up and got this yummy Bloody Mary!

Then, for our last winery, we headed up a mountain (literally- our driver had to trade out our limo for a van because the limo couldn't make it up!) to Kuleto Winery.  The views and grounds were absolutely breathtaking.  

All in all, it was an amazing trip with great friends.  Allen and I were glad to get home to hug and kiss our babies after 5 days away!
Cheers to good friends & good times!