Vacation: From Washington DC to South Carolina- Days 1 & 2

Hey all!

It’s been a while since I’ve ventured to these parts, and while I’ve missed my outlet to share what’s been going on, life and food wise, we’ve been busy!

We recently just came back from a much needed and wonderful vacation, with which I’d like to share with you all!

Vacation, whether it be going away or staying close to home, is needed in this busy, sometimes stressful world we live in. We all work hard, both inside and outside of our homes, and leaving the normal responsibilities of life behind, even just for a little bit, definitely puts some pep back in all our steps!

I’ll be breaking our vacation down into different posts, to not inundate you with loads of pictures and words. We really had a wonderful time, and I hope you all have some plans to do what you love this year, whether it be travel, or just stay home!

Day One: Washington DC Bound!

The week leading up to our road trip vacation was a little chaotic, which made us crave some freedom! We were so excited to hit the road, mostly in part because we knew my momma would be staying at our house and caring for our sweet pups. Love my momma!

Our day started out not so bright (rain, rain go away) but definitely early, and we hit the road excited to get to our first destination, Washington DC!

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We stopped to get our beloved Starbucks, because well, vacation mode!

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The drive was nice into DC, cloudy but full of sunshine from our car! Love driving with the hubs, we have some of our best conversations in the car.

When we arrived to Washington, just a little after five hours, we were hungry. Okay, I’m lying, I was hangry. So after driving around for a little while and not having a clue where we wanted to go for lunch, we ended up at a really cute restaurant on Connecticut Ave! The irony! Lillies Restaurant & Bar was a nice treat to start our trip, and we definitely would recommend this restaurant for anyone in that area.

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Lillies is a family owned-and-operated Italian local neighbourhood restaurant, located steps away from the Woodley Park Zoo. It features modern Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

We shared an appetizer of their calamari served with a herb aiola sauce, and it definitely curbed the hunger beast that may or may not have come out 😉

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Since we felt like continuing our shared lunch, we opted for their Herb Chicken dish and it did not disappoint.

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Herb marinated chicken in the house sauce, served with wild rice and steamed vegetables

We licked the plate clean, the hubs eating the rice and I enjoyed the vegetables with the tasty sauce!

After eating, we decided to visit the Smithsonian National Zoo! The sun was shining and it was free, so perfection!

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After the zoo we drove to our hotel for the evening, the Hyatt House in Herndon, VA. We  picked this hotel based on location and a great price. I would recommend it, it was clean, spacious, and had a free breakfast buffet!

After relaxing for a little bit, we showered and got ready for our dinner reservations at the Founding Farmers. After doing some research, I really enjoyed what this restaurant company stands for and I’m so glad we got the opportunity to dine there.

The values of the American family farmer are at the heart of all we do at Founding Farmers. Like the more than 47,000 family farmers who own our restaurant, we strive to work hard and operate with a genuine concern for our land and our community. We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy high-quality food that is delicious, and grown with care.

(To hear more about the restaurant, visit their website and then go eat there!)

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We started our dining experience off with none other than a well deserved bottle of vino!

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Cheers to vacation!

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For our appetizer we ordered the Bread, Chips, Crisps. This was served alongside four different dips, Romesco, Pimento Cheese, Green Goddess and Onion Dip.

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Here is where my love of pimento cheese became a reality. Oh my word, if you have never had it, go get some. Better yet, just make it yourself. It is so easy to make! I see that in my future summer festivities!

For my entree, I tried to remain with a healthier choice so I ordered their Rotisserie Chicken with green beans. It was very good!

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We wrapped up dinner, finishing our wine and talking about what the future week would entail. Then we headed back to our hotel because we had a 7 1/2 hour drive the following morning!

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Day Two: Road Trip to South Carolina

Day two started off early (again) because I was super enthusiastic to head down south! We got ready, put our bags back in our car, and headed to the free breakfast buffet the hotel had to offer.

Trying to be good in my low carb lifestyle (for there were many meals consumed during this trip that didn’t live up to that hype, haha), I went simple with an egg omelette and sausage with salsa. It was rather good!

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Back on the road again, we left the dreary Washington and headed straight for our lunch destination in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The hub’s love for BBQ runs deep, so after driving for about five hours, we went to Fuller’s Old Fashioned BBQ for their well known BBQ buffet.

Here’s my take on the buffet, it was good! Although, a lot of the food I felt was off limits for me, since I wanted to stay somewhat on track to my healthy goals, they had a great variety of BBQ, Chicken, and all the good ole’ southern comfort foods.

My plate consisted of chicken, okra, shrimp, corn and I caved and tried my first hush puppy! Mmmm, I get it now. Oh that I do.

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After lunch we continued down to South Carolina taking a very scenic route, and it was such a beautiful drive through the country. I would do it again in a heartbeat. The sun was out, the music was on and we were crossing a destination off our bucket list!

We went from this….

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To this!

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We arrived to our final destination around 4:00 pm, just in time to check into the Plantation Resort. We settled in, we explored the area, then went to the grocery store to stock our refrigerator with water and snacks. Afterwards, we relaxed and hit the hay because our vacation was just getting started!

Stay tuned!

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Last Date of 2016

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If there is one piece of advice I could give anyone in regards to relationships, it would be this….

Date each other.

No matter how many years you’ve been together, no matter how your situation has changed, kids, jobs, life….

Date each other.

Your hearts deserve that happiness called the beginning of every relationship, the love bubble. You deserve to keep that feeling alive throughout your lives together, and the best way to do that….

Date each other.

Our last date of 2016 was a good one, it left our hearts happy and was the perfect end to a year full of much hard work and joy!

Our first stop of the day was to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens, to spend some time with one of my most favorite little beauties, butterflies.

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It was relaxing, happy and so wonderful to have them all flying around us.

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Some even enjoyed some quality time.

I have always had the belief that a butterfly that lands on you, is a little angel in your life that has passed, coming to visit. I don’t know why this has always been my belief, but nothing is going to change that. It’s a beautiful thought and it makes me happy!

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After that magical moment, we went to Yankee Candle Village. Oh my goodness, is all I can say. There is so much to see, and so much you can buy! I really enjoyed our time there, looking at everything, smelling the candles and just being with my husband.

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I was able to finally get something that I have wanted for a long time, my mantra bracelets! Words are very meaningful to me, I am a quote junkie and certain things just call to my very sentimental side. These bracelets represent all that the past years have been and what 2017 will be, a continuation of our infertility journey, our journey to parenthood.

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After spending what seemed like not enough time to soak in all that Yankee Candle had to offer, we took a drive to Richardson’s Candy Kitchen.

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Because what is the end of the holiday season without candy, right?

Immediately upon walking through the door, you are greeted with the most amazing smell of chocolate everything. How do people work there?!

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I was happy to see that they have a selection of sugar free candy for those of us that can’t have sugar. I know it isn’t the best choice, but we all need to live a little!

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We continued to drive around the area to site see for a little while, not much to report but we enjoy our drives 🙂

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Later in the evening, we went to Chandler’s Restaurant for dinner. I had high hopes for this place, but the food wasn’t amazing. We still had a good time in the cute and cozy environment.

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Calamari

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Pork Tenderloin Marsala with Pecorino Romano Spaetzle

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Crab Cakes

I love dates that last all day and feel very blessed that we have been able to continue this tradition. Life is busy, we both work (which we are grateful for) but making time for each other is very important in our lives. We are definitely looking forward to what 2017 has to offer!

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If you haven’t gone on a date in a long time, try to make it happen! You will feel like a new couple, I promise you!

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Life Lately…It’s Fall!

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The end of summer has come and gone so now it’s time to enjoy the beautiful season of fall! While I’m sure we were all sad to see the longer days of sunshine leave us, there is something so wonderful about this current season.

From the crisp, fresh air to the absolutely breath taking views of the leaves changing colors, these are just a few things that the lovely autumn has to offer us!

I know I am not alone in saying when fall rolls in so does my desire to be in the kitchen more. This is the time to make more hearty meals, bake more and time to slow down and enjoy the people in your life. Since fall is already here and the days seem to go by much faster as we age (thanks momma, for always driving that point home 🙂 ) I am trying to embrace all our moments. There is no better time to do something than the present because every day is such a gift. Maybe that is what fall is all about. Learning to slow down from the hot and busy summer, and to really be grateful for everything you have in this life.  It’s like a yearly reminder that the holidays are coming, and there is so much to be thankful for, every single day.

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There are many wonderful activities to do in the fall and I am hoping to cross these off my list this year!

Fall 2016 Bucket List

  • Big E  Done!
  • Apple picking
  • Make Low Carb Pumpkin & Apple Treats
  • Cornmaze
  • Haunted House
  • Pumpkin Carving/Decorating
  • New England Day Trip to see the leaves
  • Go on a fall picnic
  • Autumn Hike

These are just a few things I hope to do, I’m sure there are so many more!

Until I am able to cross off those activities, I’ll take a step back and reminisce about the past month or so.

There has been fun activities with some of my favorites…

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There has been some delicious eats….

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Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad…last salad of the season!
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Philly Cheesesteak Mini Meatloaves
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Low Carb Blueberry Cheese Danish Coffee Cake

There has been the continued hard work on our new deck…

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There has been many strolls with these lovelies….

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Quiet time too….

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We also celebrated 12 years of dating each other by going out to Marketplace Kitchen & Bar for dinner! While it was a bit noisy, the company was amazing and we shared this awesome appetizer that I will one day recreate. So simple, but yet, so tasty.

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Fresh mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto, over garlic spinach and vodka sauce

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There is nothing more that I love to do, than just spend time with this handsome face. He really has been my rock, my best friend, and life entertainer for these past 12 years. I feel so blessed to have spent these moments with him, and hope for as many more that we are able!

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What are some of your favorite fall activities?

 

 

 

 

Menu Plan Monday

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If there is one thing I love reading in the blogs I enjoy, it’s their weekly meal plans. Call me a creeper for finding pleasure in knowing what others are eating, but I just do! I often find myself asking everyone I care about this very important question, “What’s for dinner?”

I know that one of the ways I show my husband that I care for him, as well as everyone I care for, is by cooking them good food that entices their palettes! Part of me needs to know that they are feeding their bodies with delicious food and the other part is just plain nosey! I admit it. I won’t stop though.

So to jump on a bandwagon that was started a long time ago, I’m excited to share what we eat during the week!

I have been meal planning for four years now and I rotate depending on my mood, between planning for 2 weeks or 4 weeks at a time. I know that four weeks seems like a lot, but it works for me. It does not make me the meal planning goddess (although I wouldn’t mind a crack at the title!) I just enjoy planning out the month between work schedules, parties, holidays, date nights, etc. It’s something that makes me happy, and we all should stick to doing just that, making ourselves happy!

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I have tried to make two new recipes a week while rotating the other days with our favorite go to meals, one leftover day and one free for all day. Free for all days could mean leftovers, a quick easy meal, or just eating whatever we fancy (breakfast foods always win for me).

Now that I’ve taken entirely too much of your time, I’ll just get to the good stuff. This is a recap of our meals last week. Typically, we have a more diverse selection of protein but I was trying to use what I had in the freezer and refridgerator so chicken is what we had!

Meal Plan Monday #1

Monday- Cheesy Honey Mustard Chicken with Bacon & Salad

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Tuesday- Leftovers

Wednesday- Chicken & Vegetable Stir-fry

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Thursday- Roasted Chicken Thighs with Vegetables and Parmesan Garlic Cream Sauce

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Friday- Date Night after work

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Texas Roadhouse was the answer to a few individuals that had no desire to cook after the work week was done! This is my favorite salad of theirs, Chicken Critter Salad. I eat half & save half for another meal, like Saturday free for all night! It’s a cheat meal that I’m not afraid of eating, if that makes sense.

Saturday- Free for All Night

Sunday- Grilled Chicken, Corn on the Cob & Salad

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The mister will only eat corn on the cob with these little trays and holders. I don’t buy corn often as our vegetable side, but it screams summer!

Until next time, when hopefully I’ve added some beef, fish or pork into the mix!

Happy Eating all!

A Weekend in Boston- Day 2

A Weekend in Boston – Day 1 – if you missed it!

Day two started bright and early, thanks in part to an internal clock that thinks we are always going to work! Since there was no work to be had, we got ready and met our travel buddies downstairs to explore!

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Our first stop was to get some delicious coffee at Thinking Cup. They do an awesome job living up to their personal philosophy to provide delicious coffee, pastries and food in a cozy and enjoyable environment. I could get use to starting my day this way!

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After feeding our bellies with some fuel, we decided to start walking the Freedom Trail, went to Quincy and enjoyed the sunshine on our faces! Nothing makes me happier than being around family, having sun on my face and just feeling content. There is something spectacular to be said for just going away for the weekend. Leaving all your responsibilities for a few days, and soaking up life! Life is fleeting, you need to truly enjoy it while you can!

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After some browsing in shops, we ventured to the North End, Boston’s Little Italy. We went to Europe for the first time last year, and what I loved about this part of Boston, was it gave you such a nostalgic feeling. With its perfect old character paired with modern accents, the beautiful cobblestone streets and most importantly, the local older Italian men who sat on the sidewalks barking at each other from across the street, it was just a joy to experience.

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At the recommendation of a family member, we decided to have lunch at Antico Forno. It was one of the our best dining experiences of the weekend and in the future, we would definitely go back for dinner!

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Their entire menu looks delicious but true to this Italian girls heart, I just can’t pass up chicken parmigiana!

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Parmigiana di pollo- breaded chicken, fontina cheese, basil, San Marzano tomato sauce with a mixed green salad

I should have asked for no bread, but I took it off and a lovely mister in the our party decided to take it off my hands, the perks of family!

The hubby had one of his favorites as well!

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Polpette- homemade meatballs, parmigiana cheese, roasted peppers, basil, San Marzano tomato sauce with a mixed green salad

After a fantastic lunch it was back to walking around our favorite city, and no good day in the books ever forgets dessert.

We stopped to get gelato and honestly, I just can’t stop with the coconut. I want it every day, all the time, in everything. Yum!

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Then we retired to our hotel rooms for a mid-day break to get ready for our night activities!

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When we were ready in our evening fancy attire, we stopped at the bar to get a drink. I just love my sister! Baby blues forever!

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Then we walked down to where the theater was and stopped into an awesome restaurant/bar which I have no recollection of the name. I will find it though, because it is the coolest atmosphere. I felt like such a modern-day woman in that place!

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After a few drinks and an appetizer we headed to the Charles Playhouse to see The Blue Man Group!

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That was so much fun! I love going to shows and creating new experiences, so it was definitely one of my favorite moments! If you haven’t seen them yet, find a show and enjoy it!

When the show was over we headed back to where our hotel was and stopped into The Beantown Pub for a drink and some grub. What is a weekend away without good eats?! Nothing, absolutely nothing.

We couldn’t have asked for a better day or travel buddies than these! It was a great little trip and I am so looking forward to our next adventure. Where will that be?!

Boston, we miss you already- but you are only a hop, skip and a jump away. So until next time, much love!

A Weekend in Boston – Day 1

I cannot say it enough, I heart Boston. Everything about it, just makes me feel calm, happy and excited all at the same time.

There is just always something to do, see, eat, drink…. and be merry about!

I thought I’d share a little about our weekend away, because it is something I want to always remember. It will always be etched into memory but writing it out to look back on, just seems right.

We ventured up to Boston on a Friday afternoon. The weather was quite dreary but that didn’t stop our anticipation to meet up with two of our favorite people.

We arrived at the Omni Parker House around 3:30 pm where we were delighted to be gifted valet service right at the doorway. We don’t typically do valet so we already were feeling like a King and Queen!

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We checked in and went straight up to our gorgeous room where we were greeted with another surprise! Our weekend dates were spoiling us even before we got there, and we appreciate it all!

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After settling in, we met these beautiful people downstairs!

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Then it was time to take a nice stroll through Boston to get our feet wet (no pun intended, for it was raining!) What I loved most about this hotel besides it’s perfect description “A classic soul with a modern twist” was how close we were to everything. It is right on the Freedom Trail, and so close to Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall. It made walking around the city, so very lovely!

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We ended up walking to dinner which was at Mast. It was kind of a weird experience all around in the dining world but our company was spot on, so despite the vibe that was throughout, we enjoyed ourselves.

Why must dinner always be served with this scrumptious but evil food? Mmm, bread.

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We started with sharing the Calamari, a family favorite for sure!

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Sadly, all we could taste was the salt! I’ve never had such salty calamari but we don’t waste food, so….. it was obviously still eaten!

My sister and I shared two small plates and one of them stole the show! The cauliflower was tasty!

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Polpettine Trio- a meatball trio of angus beef al ragu

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Roasted Cauliflower- with a spicy chile goat cheese and baked four cheese spread

The men stayed true to their roots, one enjoying a pasta dish (Italian man through and through!) and my hubby sticking with a roasted chicken.

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Orecchiete Baresi- Orecchiete pasta, friarelli (sauteed broccoli rabe), fennel sausage, pecorino romano

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Pollo al Mattone Sette Spezia- half all natural chicken, grilled, smoked seven spice rub, Borretane onion agrodolce

We ate, we talked, we laughed, and were in the best company!

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After dinner we walked back to our hotel for a drink and dessert!

The hotel has a famed whiskey bar called the Last Hurrah. We sat down at one of their tables, each getting a drink of choice and we shared their famous Boston Cream Pie!

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After, we called it a night!  We needed our rest for Saturday and it seriously was the best day! Stay tuned…..

The Best Turkey Sloppy Joes

These past few weeks have just flown by! They were full of wonderful moments, people and love. This gal turned another year older too! Hello to the new 21 plus some *wink wink*

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There have been birthday celebrations, dining out, dinners made for me and basically no actual cooking by me for the past two weeks! The break was amazing but I did miss the kitchen.

I was spoiled beyond words with beautiful messages, time spent with my favorite people and the most amazing gifts (that were not necessary but completely appreciated!)

A burger bar seemed to be a hit at my sister’s and my birthday bash, I just wish I had some photos to show. Maybe next time!

Later in the week, my sister, momma and I went to Cure for a mother-daughter lunch and it did not disappoint!

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The whole experience of the restaurant is rustic, beautiful and centered around farm-fresh ingredients. The menu offers a variety of delicious choices from amazing appetizers, their own varieties of smoked bacon, unique sandwiches and main dishes, to tasty desserts and cocktails.

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We started with a birthday drink and this Sangria was amazing! It had just the right amount of rose wine and peach flavors. I should have these more!

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Our waiter was the cutest boy there ever was!

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We shared calamari as our appetizer, made with banana peppers, lemon and a wonderful sweet chili sauce.

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I wasn’t feeling like being fancy for our birthday lunch so the burger with BBQ seasoned fries sounded tasty. It was a celebratory occasion so there was no guilt with the fries! They were worth it!

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We ended our lunch with the best dessert ever- frozen yogurt! I will never say no to that. Ever.

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We are a silly family 🙂

I feel so blessed with how the past two weeks have gone and look forward to whatever this next year of life brings my way!

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After living in a birthday bubble, it was time to get back into my normal role and I couldn’t think of a better meal to start with than my Turkey Sloppy Joes. This is an easy, flavorful dish that you can serve on your favorite roll, on top of zucchini noodles, pasta or enjoy with a side salad. I’ve eaten it in a bowl with a spoon before, it’s that delicious. Don’t judge.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

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  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 jalapeños, diced (ribs and seeds removed)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp spicy montreal steak seasoning (or regular montreal steak seasoning for less spicy)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar**
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp black pepper

** I will use truvia brown sugar blend to reduce my sugar intake. If using, only use 1/4 cup due to the increased sweetness.

Directions

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, red and jalapeño peppers to pan and sauté for about 5 minutes until slightly tender.

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When vegetables tender, add ground turkey and season with montreal steak seasoning (spicy or regular). Sauce turkey until browned and cooked thoroughly.

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Next, add all remaining seasonings to ground turkey including chili powder, ground mustard, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Mix well.

Then add worcestershire sauce and red wine vinegar.

Add tomato sauce, tomato paste and season with black pepper.

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Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes for flavors to combine and sauce to thicken.

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Then serve whichever way you like! The mister can’t seem to live without his carbs. It may not be the prettiest meal, but you won’t deny how amazing this tastes!

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Happy eating!