The Sweetest Thing.

" I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" ~Van Gogh

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie. October 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

This is a nice Monday morning treat for you. It tastes a bit indulgent to ease the Monday morning blahs but it is packed with healthy ingredients to get you through your work morning. The almond milk and greek yogurt provide protein while the oats and strawberries provide fiber. Be sure to blend really well to get the oats well incorporated. I usually blend 2-3 minutes. Hope you enjoy!

*I don’t really know how to take a great picture of a smoothie, luckily I can make one that tastes great!

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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

serves 1

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup chocolate almond milk

1/3 cup old fashioned oats

6 oz strawberry greek yogurt (or plain greek yogurt)

1/4 tsp vanilla

 

1. Put everything in the blender & blend.

2. Enjoy!

 

Sunday Reading. October 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

One of my favorite blogs, Joy the Baker  does a “Let It Be Sunday” post each week with lots of links to read while you enjoy your Sunday coffee. It is something I genuinely look forward to each Sunday morning, so I thought maybe I would start doing one of my own for all of you to enjoy. This is just a collection of things I have come across on the internet in the past week or so. Some interesting, some important, some just plain silly… balance is good! So grab a cup of coffee, snuggle up with your favorite blanket (and favorite pup) and enjoy.

 

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~ My love of wine is no secret. This just made me laugh and I can relate to more than a few of them.

~I am not married, but found this article applicable to my long term relationship in many ways. I especially loved this quote “Don’t marry someone because of who they are, or who you want them to become. Marry them because of who they are determined to become. And then spend a lifetime joining them in their becoming, as they join you in yours.”

~We seem to finally be #bringingbackourgirls.

~ Speaking of Joy the Baker, I can’t wait for this to arrive.

~You know that I love to talk about healthy eating on a budget , this article is full of great advice.

~”Focus on health, not weight, at home”, good advice on How to Parent Healthy Body Image and Why it Matters.

~Great article about poverty, the cycles behind it, the ways we avoid talking about it and what we can do to help here.

~This may only be entertaining to my librarian friends, but the struggle is real.

~ We ate these Kale Pancakes at a Girl’s Weekend Getaway last month and I have thought about them most every day since. Must make soon!

~ There is no way we can talk about what is going on on the internet these days without talking about Ebola. There is lot of crazy and untrue information out there. I think this is an important and often overlooked factor in how we deal with the spread of infectious diseases.

~Hoping this is our next book club pick. I’ll be reading it regardless.

~This made me cry. It was far too close to my heart. It has been over a year since I lost my best friend and one true love Emma and it still hurts like hell. These things have always broken my heart~ in the good way that makes me grateful I ever got to love something so much that it hurt.

~ As a feminist, I have put quite a bit of thought into this issue (among so many others). I find this article pretty on point in identifying the inherent problem in male feminism with this line  “Maybe you didn’t, personally, do anything wrong, but you were still born into a power structure that gave you unjust rewards. The system — whether it’s the patriarchy or white supremacy or capitalism — does not offer special exemptions for individuals with good intentions.”

~ I just really like the idea of Freestyle Gardening.

 

What interesting things have you been reading?

 

Hope you enjoy your day!

 

Kale, White Bean & Sausage Soup. October 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 7:01 am
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Monday always seems like a good soup night to me. Physically, I have been eating heavier over the weekend and it feels good to lighten things up a little bit. Emotionally, soup feels like a nice big bowl of warm comforting love to me. Pratically, it is easy to get together and let simmer away while you get try to catch up on all the things Monday brings. This is one of my favorite soups to make because it is easy, healthy and hearty all a the same time. It has all the components of a healthy balanced meal in one pot, but is also great with a warm hunk of bakery fresh bread.  (as all things are)

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Kale, White Bean & Sausage Soup

serves 6

 

3 Italian sausage links- removed from casing (mild- hot works, whatever you like best)

1 medium onion- diced

3-4 cloves of garlic- diced

1  can of diced tomatoes

1  can of cannelini beans- drained and rinsed

1 large bunch of kale- torn

6 cups of beef broth

olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

 

1. Drizzle bottom of stock pot with olive oil and let heat over medium heat about 30 seconds. Remove sausage links from casing and cook through, breaking the links up as they cook. Add onion once sausage is mostly cook. Cook until softened. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.

2. Add can of tomatoes (and juice), can of beans, torn kale and beef broth. Stir. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer 30-45 minutes.

3. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste

4. Serve immediately.

6. Enjoy!

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Weekend Adventures: Wine Trail. October 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

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If you are looking for something to do this weekend, I recommend you check out the local wine trail. You would never think that Western New York was wine country,but we are blessed with many wineries in the area that offer a wide variety of wines. My family decided to enjoy a kid free Sunday Funday (very rare) and have some grown up fun last weekend. My mama, aunt, sister (not the 18yr old one), brother and a friend of the family loaded into my step dad’s mini van and he drove us along the wine trail. You should definitely consider having a designated driver, it is easy to drink a bit too much with so many small tastes. We only made it to 7  of the wineries this time, but I have been to most of them at one time or another.

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Before leaving, I packed some snacks. Snacks are essential when drinking all afternoon. I brought healthy stuff- veggies, an herby greek yogurt dip, hummus, gluten free pretzels and some fresh fruit (not pictured). My aunt brought cheese, pepperoni and crackers.

 

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Our first stop Mazza Chautauqua Cellars . This is a really clean, simple place. There is a small tasting bar, a small cafe area (which has always been closed when I have been there) and a small shop area. The employees are always super friendly and helpful. I enjoy their Bare Bones White and Bare Bones Red- depending on the season. They are great table wines and a safe bet to bring to share at a book club or dinner party.

 

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Next up was Johnson Estate Winery. When I used to drink sweet wine, I drank A LOT of their Concord. It’s like grape juice. While I am happy not to drink such sweet wine anymore, I like some of their other ones and I love the space. It is kind of dark and cellar like in here, in a really beautiful way. My family members are not actually big wine drinkers so they really enjoyed some of the sweet wines offered here. I bought a bottle of their Proprietor’s Red. Another semi dry table wine that goes with just about anything.

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Noble Winery was our third stop. This may be my favorite winery. They offer a wide range of wines, but more than their wine, I really enjoy the atmosphere. It is a large space and very open. There is seating indoors and out. They offer cheese plates and some other small dishes, but they strongly encourage you to pack a picnic and enjoy it on the property overlooking the vineyards. The staff is very friendly too. My favorite part of this place has absolutely nothing to do with wine. They have dogs there. They just roam the property and visit with people. They are super nice and love to get their bellies rubbed. I only saw one this time but there have been two the other times I visited. I bought a bottle of their Marechal Foch described as “Dry earthy wine with a splash of dark cherry & bramble,pairs well w/greek food”. This was my first time tasting it and I really liked it. (I haven’t been into reds in a couple of years and I am happy to be back to them this Fall)

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After some snacks in the car, our next step was Quincy Cellars. I absolutely love this space and put it on the short list for possible future wedding venues long before I had a partner I even considered marrying. My family was not a huge fan of the wines offered here because there wasn’t much sweet stuff on the tasting menu, but I always enjoy their wines. I don’t remember exactly what I bought here, but I am pretty sure it was a white wine. I like to keep a few around for lighter dinners that would be overpowered by a red wine.

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Next up was a family favorite, Heritage Wine Cellars. While I think the space is pretty interesting and I sometimes like the informal vibe, I am not that into their wines. They all just seem a bit too sweet for me. They just leave an open bottle of each of their wines on the counter with little tasting cups and it is kind of a free for all. I think I might get a better read off from some of their wines if they were chilled. Luckily, my family really enjoys their sweet wines and bought more here than anywhere else.

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Next we visited a winery I had never been to and will most likely never return to, Arrowhead Wine Cellars. The space definitely felt more like a store than a winery with tons of merchandise like cheesy tshirts and wine novelty items everywhere and the staff was pretty rude. They did have a good Chardonnay and I am not usually a fan. My family enjoyed some of their sparkling wines.

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Our last stop was mostly for me, Sensory Winery & Art Gallery. This is just such a cool space and I love seeing the ever changing art exhibits. They always have different wines here because they generally only make a big enough batch to last about a year, so there is always something new to try. Most of the wines here are on the drier side, which is perfect for me.

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My failed attempt at a sibling photo. I cut off part of my sister’s face and you wouldn’t even know my brother was supposed to be in here. This honestly had more to do with being very out of practice taking group selfie shots with and actual camera than it did with the wine I had been drinking ;)

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It was an awesome way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Fall is my favorite time to go on a mini wine tour because you get the added bonus of enjoying the beautiful fall colors in our area. There is a small fee for tasting at some wineries, but none are more than $5 and many are free. I always spend quite a bit of money stocking up on wine, but you don’t have to do that and you would have a really fun experience without spending much money.

Have you ever been on a wine tour? What is your favorite winery you have visited?

 

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers (with Garlic & Roasted Red Pepper Mayo). October 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

We were blessed with some pretty gorgeous weather the last couple of weekends and we took advantage of that by having a few friends over and cooking on the grill one last time. Don’t worry if grilling weather is over in your area- these are great when fried in a pan on the stove too.

Ground turkey can be a bit lacking in flavor when it comes to burgers, but I do like to use it sometimes just to mix things up a bit. Adding lots of tasty bits and spreading on some flavored mayo really turns ground turkey into something kind of magical. You don’t have to take my word for it, try it yourself!

 

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Mediterranean Turkey Burgers (with Garlic & Roasted Red Pepper Mayo)

Makes 6 Burgers

1 lb lean ground turkey

10 Kalamata olives- pitted and quartered

1/2 c feta cheese crumbles

1/2 medium red onion- diced

8 sun dried tomatoes- diced (you can substitute a fresh diced tomato if you don’t have these)

Large handful spinach- chopped

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for brushing on burgers

 

1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Be sure to mix well to evenly distribute ingredients.

2. Form into 6 patties. Brush both sides with olive oil.

3. Cook as desired. Cooking times will vary based on the cooking method you use.

4. Serve on toasted roll (gluten free bread in my case) with romaine lettuce and garlic roasted red pepper mayo (recipe below)

5. Enjoy!

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Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper Mayo

1/2 cup olive oil mayo

1 clove garlic- peeled

1 roasted red pepper (from a jar) drained and patted dry

1. Throw everything in the food processor and whirl until combined.

*this is more than enough mayo for the burgers. The leftovers are great on turkey sandwiches!

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Green Beans with Lemon, Garlic & Feta. October 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

Green Beans are a hard sell with the honey. She loves green bean casserole, but was never a fan of them unless they come from a can and took a swim in some cream of mushroom soup. Since I will just eat them raw because I love them so much, I had to find a way to convert her. I have a couple of green bean recipes that she will eat now. This is one of my newest creations and is made from ingredients we pretty much always have in the house.

 

 

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Green Beans with Lemon, Garlic & Feta

Serves 4

Ingredients

16 oz green beans (fresh or frozen)

1.5 Tbls Olive Oil

Garlic Salt – to taste (I use the kind with the flakes of dried garlic in sea salt)

Freshly ground pepper- to taste

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 c feta cheese crumbles

 

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1. Add olive oil to large skillet and heat about 30 seconds over medium heat. Add green beans. Cook until beans are crisp tender. (It takes about 4 or 5 minutes with the frozen ones)

2. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add the juice of 1 lemon and toss to coat. (I juice the lemon directly into the pan)

4. Continue to cook about 1 minute.

5. Remove from heat

6. Top beans with feta once they are on plates to be served

7. Enjoy!

 

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Whole Wheat Cherry & Dark Chocolate Muffins October 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

Woah. I came up with something seriously delicious right here. Sadly, this was right before I learned I had to give up gluten, so I can’t use this recipe anymore, but you can! Somebody has to enjoy these delicious muffins. We can even call them healthy because they involve whole wheat,cherries, dark chocolate and minimal sugar. These muffins are a great Sunday brunch treat or something a little different to share with coworkers. They were so good that I actually didn’t get a picture of them once they were baked. We seriously just ate them all before I even thought about it. No joke.

Please do not substitute skim milk in the recipe. The fat in the milk helps keep them moist without adding a ton of butter or oil.

Here’s the one and only before picture-

chocolate cherry muffins

Whole Wheat Cherry & Dark Chocolate Muffins

makes 6 large muffins or 12 standard muffins

Ingredients:

1 3/4  cup white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg (beaten)

3/4 c whole milk

1/4 c butter (melted and cooled slightly)

1 tsp vanilla

1 c coarsely chopped cherries (fresh or frozen will work)

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter muffin tins (or use paper muffin liners)

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Set aside.

2. Beat egg in small bowl. Add milk.

3. Add to flour mixture and stir until mostly moist.

4.Add melted butter and vanilla. Stir just until combined. Do not overmix!

5. Fold in cherries and dark chocolate chips.

6. Divide batter evenly into muffin tin.

7. Bake in 400 degree oven. 28-30 minutes for large muffins. 20-22 for standard size muffins.

8. Remove from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes.

9. Enjoy!

 

 
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