Weekend Review

Happy Monday!  I hope y’all had a wonderful weekend.  My parents came into town and we had a blast.  But honestly, time flew by and I feel like the weekend was over in a flash.  On Friday we met my parents in Raleigh for lunch at Tazza Kitchen. Big Guy and I have dined at Tazza Kitchen on a couple of occasions and we’re impressed each and every time.  We shared some guacamole to start and the chips were addictive.  They also brought some salsa to the table with the guacamole and it was fantastic.  A little sweet and not too spicy.  I ordered the arugula and goat cheese salad for lunch and added shrimp to the salad.  It was amazing.  Post-lunch we made a quick stop at Fresh Market to grab a few items we needed for the weekend.

One we all arrived back to our house we helped my parents unload the car and my Mom and I started crafting!  I’m helping host a baby shower for my sister-in-law in a couple of weeks and my Mom and I had several projects to get done while they were here. For dinner we cooked up a feast!  My parents enjoy lamb but they don’t cook it all that often (neither do we) so we thought it was the perfect meal for their visit.  On the menu:  pistachio crusted rack of lamb, mascarpone mashed potatoes, and roasted broccolini.


Everything turned out delicious.  And I have to say, those mashed potatoes might be the best ever.  Definitely not a “light” recipe but they are amazing.

After dinner we all watched “Criminal Minds” before calling it a night and heading to bed. Saturday started with a quick workout for me before getting back to the house and crafting with my Mom.  The guys left to run some errands and just drive around and then we met them for lunch at the Country Club.  This is when time started flying.  When we got home we played dominos (I did not win) and then made homemade pasta and bolognese for dinner.


The dough was a little more finicky this time around but the end result was nothing short of perfection.  We enjoyed this plate of pasta with an incredible 2010 Pride Sangiovese.

The rest of the evening was spent hanging out and watching t.v. before calling it quits for the day.

On Sunday I prepared one last meal before they hit the road back home.  (I’ll share breakfast tomorrow!)  I was sad to see them leave but I know I’ll see them in a couple of weeks when I head to Charlotte for the baby shower.

Such a treat to have them visit and I’m looking forward to planning another weekend soon!

Cheesy Sausage, Broccoli, and Quinoa Casserole

Good morning!  First of all, if you haven’t voted: GO!  And that’s all I have to say about that.  I am beyond ready for the commercials to stop – I never say this but bring on the Christmas commercials.

This past weekend was incredibly busy but we saw so many people and it was absolutely wonderful.  On Friday evening we celebrated Big Guy’s grandmothers birthday.  Just to note – we’ve all thought for months she was turning 80 this year.  Turns out she’s only turning 79 today.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANNY!


We hit the road fairly early on Saturday so that we could make it to Charlotte in time for lunch.  We were surprised to have a special lunch guest:  Haines!  We ate at a restaurant called Kid Cashew.  I have no idea why that is the name and it doesn’t give the restaurant justice.  We all loved our Mediterranean-inpsired meal but the company was the best part.


Saturday afternoon we wrapped up some of the planning for my sister’s shower on Sunday and then we were off to visit my brother and his girlfriend.  Their huge fans of sushi, like us, so a sushi double date seemed like a no-brainer.  We visited for a little while before heading to eeZ, the parent restaurant of CowFish.  We ate so much sushi and it was all incredible.  A definite repeat sushi spot.


Sunday was definitely a full day – beginning with church and then it was all about getting my parents house ready for the shower before the guests arrived at 2pm.  We went with a “sprinkle” theme and it was so fun to see everyone.  Haines was the best hostess ever and Maggie got lots of stuff that will come in handy when baby #3 arrives in a matter of weeks.


Maggie looks fantastic and we’re all anxious to see if it’s a boy or girl come the week of Thanksgiving.  And I can’t wait to meet the little one at the beginning of December.  Speaking of babies, another baby is coming in the Bell family.  My sister-in-law is expecting a baby that is due in April.  We find out whether it’s a boy or girl in a few weeks.  So fun!

Sunday ended as all Sundays should end – with pizza!  I played dominoes with my parents and Big Guy settled in for a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel (he’s anti-games).

Whew.  What a weekend!  By the time we got home yesterday, all I wanted to do was get unpacked and settled for the rest of the week.

Dinner last night took a little prep work but it’s perfect because you get two casseroles:  one to freeze and one to eat.  Instead of freezing one, I’m actually taking it to a friend who just had a baby but I have a feeling I’ll be making a couple of Maggie and Kiersten to keep in their freezer.


Cheesy sausage, broccoli and quinoa casserole reminds me of the old-school broccoli and rice casserole.  The quinoa gives the casserole a little nuttiness and it’s much more hearty and filling than the traditional casserole.  The sausage gives lots of flavor to the dish and I loved the crunchy panko-cheese crust on top.  (cheese + carbs = everything)


And unfortunately the photo quality has declined due to the change in time on Saturday night…bring on the dark food pics.  (ugh.)

I hope you all have the best Tuesday possible and tomorrow we’ll have a new president…

2nd Annual Flamingo Fling Review

HI!  I’m home after a wonderful weekend with my Momma and sister for our annual Flamingo Fling.  It was quite the relaxing weekend and it’s always a treat to have some uninterrupted time with two of my favorite ladies.

We enjoyed mocktails and wine promptly at 5pm on Friday to kick-off the festivities.


With our drinks we snacked our way through dinner.  We enjoyed some bacon wrapped dates, a fantastic cucumber dip (Momma, can you send me that recipe?!?!) Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps that were inspired by a recipe in this cookbook (I used cashew butter instead of peanut butter and cashews instead of peanuts; I wish I would have added some chopped water chestnuts) and some brie with roasted veggies.


The chicken wraps were a little spicy, a little sweet, a little crunchy and a whole lot of delicious.


I think my favorite bite was a little brie with roasted potatoes.  So yummy.

After we filled our bellies, we settled in for movie night.  We watched The Choice and it was the perfect chick-flick for the weekend.


On Saturday we spent most of the day in the sun and snacked on some dill pickle popcorn from Trader Joes (addicting!!!!) and enjoyed a Mexican-inspired evening with guacamole, quesadillas (grilled corn and green onion shrimp quesadillas from the same cookbook that I linked above) and game of Mexican Train (a twist on dominoes).


The quesadillas were SO good and we may or may not have snuck out on the golf cart for a quick trip to Sunset Slush.  

Sunday morning we headed to our favorite little coffee shop for breakfast before my youngest brother took us out on the boat for a little fun in the sun before Flamingo Fling came to an end.

Unfortunately Maggie had to hit the road after a quick lunch of leftovers but my Momma and I stayed another night.  We played Yahtzee and ate even more leftovers before watching some HGTV to end the weekend.

I am so grateful for the past several days and hope that we’re able to make this a tradition for many, many years to come.  Life is incredibly busy but sometimes you just need to pump the brakes and enjoy a little time with the ones you love.

Have a great week!

White Pizza with Garlic Sauce and Herbs

Good morning, friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Friday night was super low-key and we were definitely in bed before 9pm.  I was up early on Saturday to teach a “Saturday Sweat” circuit and then I quickly beautified myself and headed out to a baby shower.  Our group of friends is about half pregnant, half not at this moment.  A few years ago it felt like we went to a wedding  month, now it’s a baby shower a month.  Saturday night we were absolutely spoiled and got treated to an amazing dinner with some fantastic wine.


Yesterday we enjoyed some fun in the sun before heading home for pizza night.  Pizza Sunday is the best and I was super excited to bring it back after a few weeks of not “celebrating.”  We went with a White Pizza that was loaded with cheese and fresh herbs and a garlic sauce that was soooooo good.

Unfortunately I had to leave off the burrata because it’s just not a cheese I can get my hands on around here and I left off the provolone but used a little more parmesan.  You could use any herb you have in your garden and I ended up chopping some basil, parsley and thyme to sprinkle on top of our pizza pie.



And now I’m fueling with coffee and about to tackle the to-do list including menu planning, grocery shopping, preparing the workouts for the week and squeezing in a workout of my own.

Have a great week!


Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds, Beets and Manchego

It’s 6:46pm on Monday and honestly feel like the past few days have been a whirlwind.  This past weekend I inched myself a few steps closer to reaching one of my 2016 goals.  I attended a 3-day/16-hour training on Core Barre in Charlotte and I couldn’t be more excited.  I learned SO much – I honestly can’t remember the last time I used my brain so much on a weekend.  But I’m also anxious about what’s to come.  After the course, we took the written test which I passed with a 94 (woot! woot!).  The hard part is what’s happening now.  I’m studying and practicing so that I can submit my final practical which is a 35 minute video of me teaching various aspects of the syllabus.  I have so much to work on but I’m determined to be able to say I’m a Core Barre instructor by July 31.

So yea – that’s what my weekend looked like.  Plus a little family time including dinner with my parents, brunch with the family and then another dinner with my parents and brother.


I arrived home at about 6:30pm last night to Big Guy working hard in the kitchen.  He was in charge of dinner and he sure impressed me.  He whipped up a salad and pizza that was absolutely incredible.  The salad included roasted beets, candied pecans, raspberry, manchego and a homemade raspberry vinaigrette.  The pizza (I forget his creative name for the pie) was topped with a garlic-olive oil base along with sautéed spinach, bacon, figs, toasted almonds, cheeeeese (goat and Monterey jack), and he finished the whole thing off with orange zest.  Weird but absolutely delicious.


After a full day of work, I whipped up a simple meatless Monday dinner that used up a few ingredients in the fridge.

I made a quinoa salad that included toasted almonds, thyme, fresh basil and then used that as a salad topper along with leftover roasted beets and manchego.


Salads are a great way to use up leftover ingredients in a new way.

I adored the bites of quinoa with almonds and a little manchego.

But then again, I love any bite that includes cheese.


Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Bowl

After a fun and indulgent weekend, all my body wanted last night was a big bowl of good-for-me-stuff.  And that’s just what I gave my body.

The recipe is for one salad but I went ahead and prepped another one for lunch today.  I have a feeling the flavors will be even better after sitting in the fridge overnight.

In the bowl:  cucumbers, chickpeas, roasted red peppers, olives, dill, feta and a quick dressing made with EVOO, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.


Like I say, life is all about balance.  I don’t regret a thing I ate or drank all weekend (though I wish bedtime had come sooner on Friday night).

Life is meant to be lived.  Like drinking fancy cocktails with my sister-in-laws on a random Saturday in Chapel Hill.


And I refuse to let Monday ruin a Sunday.


Have a great week!

p.s. I have a cookie recipe to share with you!


Beefy Bolognese

Good morning!  It’s a slow morning over here thanks to some winter weather.  And to be honest, I’m not all that mad at the icy mix that’s made the morning slow.  I crammed my whole weekend into Sunday so easing into the week isn’t all that bad.

But Sunday was a LOVEly day.


Beautiful tulips were delivered to the door on Friday and I got not one, not two but THREE Valentine’s Day cards.  The Hallmark ladies were probably very curious when Big Guy bought three cards.

We had a low-key Friday night with a bottle of red wine and a delicious Italian-inspired dinner of beefy bolognese.


The bolognese with rich and meaty and it tasted as though it had been cooking all day long.  The Dutch oven is the best way to cook this sauce though there is an option on Cooking Light to cook it in the slow cooker.  I used all beef (instead of a beef and pork mix) and I think the bacon added a whole lot of flavor to the entire dish.

I highly recommend this recipe – we were both impressed with the flavors.

Another thing I was impressed with this past weekend – our lunch yesterday.


I wish every lunch included bubbles, oysters and cheese.

I hope you all have a fantastic week!