4 Years


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I can honestly say I fall more in love with Big Guy each and every year.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been married four years.  Every year comes with absolute joy and memories that you want to hold on to forever.  But every year also comes with challenges and hard, hard days.  This year was no different.  And no matter how many years you’ve been married, I don’t think it gets easier.  The challenges and joys may be different as the years go by, but they are there.

Our fourth year was filled with some incredible memories.  Take a trip down memory lane with me…

Taylor and Kiersten’s weekend visit that included a trip to SoCo, an epic cheese board and homemade pasta.

A long Memorial Day Weekend at OIB.  A visit I will never forget that was filled with so much love, sunshine and laughs.

Our garden.  Again, zucchini the size of my lower leg that we used in so many recipes so we wouldn’t tire of eating it.

PIZZA. and SUSHI.  I hope pizza and sushi are always a part of each year we’re married.  

Taking Haines for ice-cream over the 4th of July.  

Sonoma vs. Napa wine dinner with Maggie and Brad – hopefully she’ll come one year when she’s not pregnant.  Hah!

The end of July and beginning of August were a hard season.  But we came out stronger.

Watching Haines and Deacon eat the watermelon you grew after Mimi’s 80th birthday bash.

Our Watick dinner dates.  Wine.  So much wine.

GREEEEEECE.  The most unbelievable, one-in-a-lifetime trip.  You truly made my dreams comes true.

Football games and tailgating.  I love seeing you so passionate about a Saturday.

Welcoming another nephew, Braxton. And then finding out we were getting another nephew in 2017.

A night out in Raleigh to celebrate the Christmas season.

Christmas spent with family.  I’ve never had more fun with the Watson’s than when we spent a few days in the mountains together.

Getting all fancied up for the Hospital Gala.

A random weekend in March at OIB.  Filled with long walks and salty air.

Pawpaw and Mawmaw’s visit.  You are such the host.  And it warms my heart.

And finally, celebrating our anniversary in Charleston this past weekend.  

You honestly make me a better person, Big Guy.  Whether we’re lounging around the house on a Sunday evening, or making an absolute mess in the kitchen, or traveling anywhere and everything – you are my person and everything is more fun with you by my side.

Coconut Carrot Cake Muffins

Good morning!  I know I disappeared for over a week but I’m back.  The past week has been amazing having spent Easter at Ocean Isle and then I stayed until I met Big Guy in Charleston on Thursday.  After a long, rainy drive yesterday, I finally made it home around 8pm.  Whew.  I’ve already done four loads of laundry but I have to admit there are still a few things in the car that need to be unloaded.  This week will be spent getting our life back in order.  I promise I’ll dedicate an entire post (or two) to Charleston but today I’m sharing a bright muffin recipe that will be the sunshine on this dreary day.


Carrot cake is Big Guy’s absolute favorite.  However, the last thing we need is a huge cake sitting on the counter that’s loaded with sugar and calories.  These muffins are healthier yet still delicious and satisfying.  Big Guy enjoyed these for breakfast the week before we went off the map.  The muffins are full of produce – banana plus shredded apple and carrot (use your food processor to shred to save LOTS of time!) as well as good-for-you ingredients like coconut oil, ground flax seed (instead of hemp seed), oats and cinnamon (plus some other spices).

And instead of frosting, though I do love cream cheese frosting (!), the muffins get a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut before baking.

I hope you’re having a lovely week and I promise there’s some sunshine coming.

Friday Favorites

This Friday is extra sweet because the only thing standing between me and a little “adult Spring Break” is teaching two classes this A.M.  Whether you’re taking a little time for yourself in the coming week or not, I hope you take the time to remember what Easter is really about.  While I’m the first to gush over being able to wear my white pants and spend the morning dying Easter eggs there’s so much more to this weekend.  He is Risen!

And with that, my favorites from the week:


Favorite Obsessed:  Cadbury Mini Eggs Skillet Cookie.  When it comes to my Easter basket, there’s only ONE candy I want:  a mini bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs.  They are my favorite.  (Don’t worry, Big Guy, I bought you a pack or two to throw into my basket).  This cookie is basically my dream come true.


Favorite Tropical:  Pineapple Ice Molds.  How cute are these?!?!?!


Favorite Festive:  Toasted Sesame Sriracha Deviled Eggs.  I honestly have no intention of making deviled eggs this year…but these are making me want to change my tune.


Favorite Read:  Slightly South of Simple:  A Novel.  This author is compared to one of my absolute favorite authors, Elin Hilderbrand.  It sounds like the perfect beach read.


Favorite How To:  Sourdough Bread:  A Step-By-Step Guide for Home Bakers.  This is a fun addition to my “kitchen bucket list” and I love how approachable Jen made it with this tutorial.


Favorite Fun:  Lemon Tree Earrings.  I’ve always loved unique earrings and these are just adorable.


Favorite Dinner:  Roasted Rack of Lamb with Basil-Goat Cheese Sauce.  This will definitely be on the menu soon.

Jones residence - Edina MN

Favorite List:  5 Dream Kitchen Must Haves.   When thinking of a new house, the kitchen is a top priority because of all the time we spend in that room.  I am totally on board with ALL five of these requirements.


Favorite Dinner for One:  Shoyu Ahi Poke.  I cannot want to get my hands on some sushi-grade tuna and make this delightful bowl.


Favorite Cocktail:  Frozen Mimosas.  Or in my world, FroMo.  I don’t think any other explanation is needed.



Grilled Flank Steak with Salsa Verde

It’s grilling season, y’all!  The weather has been absolute perfection here in NC the past few days and it looks as if it’s going to stay gorgeous for awhile.  I savor these few weeks of Spring before the humidity hits and the bugs come out of hiding.  So between now and whenever that happens (before Memorial Day, if I had to guess), I’ll be enjoying as many meals al fresco as possible.

Warmer weather also brings about the desire to fill my plates with salads and fresh flavors from the garden.  Last night we enjoyed grilled flank steak served over homegrown greens with a salsa verde on the side that was packed with herbaceous flavors.

The flank steak is marinated in a EVOO, red wine vinegar, garlic, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes and pepper.

After grilled to perfection (medium-rare, please), serve it with salsa verde that is a mix of fresh herbs (I used parsley, basil, chives and cilantro), garlic, a splash of red wine vinegar, capers, EVOO plus some salt and pepper.


So simple yet so incredibly delicious.  Especially with a side of fresh air and the end of a beautiful Spring day.


Thai Beef and Basil Noodles with Shiitake Gravy

Well, hello.  I had no intention of disappearing after Thursday but it happened.  And then yesterday Chris hijacked my computer for work after his had to take an emergency overnight trip to California.  We did, however, take full advantage of him not having his work computer and went on an epic walk and planted our herbs.  I even had to breakout the SPF for the first time of 2017 after my shoulders started showing signs of a little sunburn.  All that to say – I’m here and thriving.  I also have an awesome dinner recipe for you that can replace the takeout noodles you picked up last night.

Thai Beef and Basil Noodles with Shiitake Gravy comes together super fast so like any stir-fry, prep all your ingredients before you ever turn on the stove.  Make sure to cook the ground beef over a medium-high heat so that it gets a little crispy on the outside.  Thankfully rice noodles are hard to overcook – simply pour boiling water over them and allow them to soak until tender.  If they get sticky, simply run more hot water over them. Easy peasy.  Bok choy and shiitake mushrooms fill your bowl to the brim with vegetables and if you’re like me and love ‘shrooms, fill free to go a little heavy.  In fact, we doubled the amount of mushrooms because we love them so much.  The fantastic flavor comes from lots of fresh garlic and ginger along with oyster sauce, soy sauce (or tamari) and crushed red pepper flakes.  Finally before serving and after you’ve taken the pot off the heat, add in lots and lots of fresh torn basil.  I adored the freshness that the herb gave the whole bowl of noodles.


Chopsticks are totally optionally but they totally made eating much more fun.  Seriously scrumptious and we felt as though we had been “transported to a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant in Manhattan” (direct quote from Big Guy).

One-Pan Broccoli-Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese

I’m balancing out the pound of kale I’ve eaten this week with pasta and cheese and bacon.  In all honesty, this mac ‘n cheese is a little sneaky because there’s not only broccoli in this dish but there’s another veggie hidden amongst all that cheese.

Can you guess?


Yes, pumpkin.  But you honestly can’t taste it at all.  The original recipe called for butternut squash but canned pumpkin is way more readily available (you could even use mashed sweet potatoes).

And not only is this mac ‘n cheese full of good for you stuff, you only need one pan to make this dinner.  And you don’t have to wait for water to boil.  So good.

Here’s how fast it all comes together:  Cook your bacon and then reserve for later.  Sauté the garlic in the bacon fat then add in the chicken stock, milk and pumpkin.  Bring to a boil.  Add in the pasta and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.  Add in the broccoli.  Cover and cook for 3-5 more minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add in the bacon and cheese.  Cover and cook for 1 minute or until the pasta is cooked to perfection.  DIG IN.


I love mac ‘n cheese.

Marinated Kale Salad

Just like avocado toast, kale had it’s moment of being the “it” food.  And while I enjoy kale, it’s not necessarily my first choice of greens.  However, over the weekend my Momma prepared a “killer kale” salad and I couldn’t help but want more kale this week.

While I was putting together my menu for the week yesterday, I came across a recipe in my Cooking Light binder and decided it was the perfect dinner for meatless Monday.  Marinated Kale Salad is made my first massaging the kale with EVOO and a little salt and allowing it to “rest” at room temperature for up to an hour.  The kale is then seasoned with a mixture of lemon juice, mustard and garlic.  I sliced a red onion and soaked it quickly in hot water before tossing it with lemon zest (instead of sumac) and sesame seeds.  The kale is finished by tossing in a can of chickpeas and some pepper.

I topped my salad with an egg for a little extra protein.


This salad was hearty yet light, a little zippy from the lemon and full of flavor from the garlic and the red onion.  By massaging the kale with EVOO and allowing it to marinate, the kale softens just a bit but stays crunchy.

And while this salad might not be quite as incredibly as the one my Momma made (walnuts, sautéed mushrooms, bacon and goat cheese took hers over the top) I sure did feel healthy eating it.  And since kale is so hearty, the leftovers will make perfect lunches this week.

Kale yeah!