Un-Boring Salads


Yesterday I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Things Cooks Know, and the topic was "Un-Boring Salads." I was so excited to dive into the episode - I eat salad for lunch several times per week because it's easy, cheap and healthy to throw something together and store it in our office fridge, but if I don't mix things up a bit, eating salad can get old really fast. Over the summer, I found three heavenly recipes for salad that you just must try. They have been in heavy rotation since I discovered them, and they've awakened a creativity in the cooking compartment of my brain, encouraging me to try out equally yummy and interesting veg + fruit combinations. Check out the recipe links below, and let me know if you have any delicious salad recipes that I need to try!

Raw Broccoli Chopped Salad via Camille Styles

Strawberry, Quinoa, Spinach & Cashew Salad via Julia's Album

Tomato, Nectarine & Mozzarella Salad via Camille Styles

P.S. Need something sweet for dessert after eating a healthy salad? On a whim I made these four-ingredient Nutella brownies last night and they are insanely delicious. They are my new favorite fast & satisfying treat!

Photo at top via Camille Styles, showcasing another salad I need to try: Kale & Sweet Potato Salad with Ginger Dressing

Happy Valentine's Day!

how-to-arrange-supermarket-deli-flowers-cupofjo-roses Happy Valentine's Day! I have always loved this sweet day, thanks largely in part to my mom, who always celebrates this holiday with gusto. She hosted heart-themed parties for me and my girlfriends when we were in elementary school, helped my brother and I craft the perfect valentines to distribute in our classes, and, to this day, creates thoughtful care packages filled with gift cards and chocolates from our favorite hometown shop to send to us. She instilled within us a desire to celebrate Valentine's Day with all the loves of our lives, whether that be family or significant others or friends. This day has always been special to me and my family, and I hope you feel special all day long, too!

Now break out the bubbly and some sweet treats and enjoy some fun Valentine-themed posts from around the web!

This chocolate and wine-tasting outing looks like the most festive way to spend a day devoted to love. I want in next time!

I hereby vow to host a Valentine's Day brunch to remember for my girlfriends someday, reminiscent of the fun parties my mom threw for me when I was young. I'm bookmarking this girly get-together to serve as my inspiration (those waffles!).

I love this post on three ways to style grocery store flowers. Trader Joe's always has lovely, affordable blooms but I'm never quite sure how to arrange them. I need to put some of these tips to good use.

Here's another promise: I will treat myself to a Valleybrink Road gift box someday, mark my words. They are so gorgeous and filled with all of the best goodies!

Even though James and I love to go out for dinner, especially when we're trying new restaurants, we'll be staying in tonight, enjoying take-out Thai and an ice-cold bottle of Champagne. I love that staying in on Valentine's Day seems to be more of a trend these days - friends and family alike have been mentioning that they have the same plan, and the blogosphere seems full of people who have the same idea, too (this reference was my favorite - it sounds like I could have written it, even down to the fact that this is our first married Valentine's Day!). Sometimes date night in is better than date night out, right?

Image via A Cup of Jo

Recipe Testing

3e4d4c12ece789356fcc9905169ffc7eRecently I've been devouring my cookbooks as though they were novels, poring over them as I lie in bed each night. I take notes on which treats I want to try and, as a result, we have been cooking a lot lately. Reading my cookbooks has also inspired me to try out all of the recipes I've bookmarked online over the months (okay, let's face it, years). We've discovered so many new kitchen staples, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite recipes that we've tried here. Nearly everything we've made has been a winner! Some are from those delightful cookbooks I've been pawing through (like The Forest Feast), and others have been gems discovered online. Take a peek at the list, and let me know if you try your hand at making any of these recipes yourself! From The Forest Feast:

From It's All Good:

From The Sprouted Kitchen:

From The Blogosphere:

  • Oven-Baked Chicken with Lemon & Thyme - Cooking chicken has always intimidated me, for some reason, but now I have a go-to method for making chicken that creates a flavorful, delicious, and juicy outcome. You must incorporate the lemon and thyme for extra special flavor that will have you coming back for seconds.
  • Soba Noodle Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing - This is delicious and light, and it gets better each day that it's left mingling in the fridge. I really liked taking this to work for lunch for several days in a row.
  • Green Detox Smoothie - I crave this delicious blended concoction on a daily basis and, as a result, have been enjoying it every morning for breakfast. I was scared of using the spirulina at first because it smells terrible but you can't taste it at all and the superfood's benefits are mind-blowing. The pomegranate seeds on top are a must - they are so yummy!
  • Thai Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes - So much flavor! We ate these while I was cleansing so the sweet potatoes were perfect but the chicken mixture would be good on top of anything - rice, quinoa, noodles.
  • Chicken & Poblano Chili - If James had to pick a favorite from the bunch, I think this would be it. This chili is hearty and packed with great spicy flavor. (The original recipe calls for turkey, which would probably be delicious, too.)
  • Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies with Pretzels & Toffee - I mean, DELIGHTFUL.
  • Egg Muffins with Vegetables - Great for breakfast on the go.
 Image via The Everygirl

Camille Styles Entertaining

Camille Styles EntertainingOver the weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Camille Styles at her book-signing party in Dallas, and, as expected, she was just lovely - genuine and bubbly and so nice to be around. I have always loved reading her blog because it's so chock-full of excellent, creative content, beautiful visuals, and lots of resources for things to do and places to eat in Camille's hometown of Austin, one of my favorite places to visit. I was so excited when I learned earlier this year that she was publishing a coffee table book. (Fun side note - our wedding planners arranged all of the flowers for her gorgeous book!) The final product is just beautiful, and like the blog, it is filled with fun ideas for making every day one that is not only worth remembering but also, most importantly, worth celebrating. I love this excerpt from the book where Camille writes,

"So while I'm not always successful at it, I do my best to seize the day and let the beautiful items I own bring me joy right this minute instead of waiting for a 'worthy' opportunity. We all deserve to be surrounded by beauty, and if something breaks, it can be fixed; if it's lost, it can be replaced. Even if your spending an evening solo eating Chinese takeout, set the table with real dishes, pour yourself a glass of wine, and savor a good meal. It's moments like these that set us on a path toward living the life we dream of - a life in which we're respecting our bodies with nourishing food, nurturing our souls by making time for our passions, engaging our senses with beauty, and expressing our love to family and friends by inviting them to create memories together."

I've gathered so much inspiration from within the book's pages, and I can't wait to put Camille's tips into practice!

Mondays

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Even if you love your job (like I do) and even if you consciously attempt to express and practice gratitude at every chance you get (like I do), Mondays can still be shrouded with a cloud of gloom. Weekends are just so delicious, after all, making the Mondays that follow them a little hard to swallow.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I was inspired by Camille Styles's post about looking forward to Mondays instead of dreading them, so I tried item #1 on her list: schedule a lunch date at a fantastic spot with a darling friend. I woke up so excited to spend time with Heather and catch up over a midday meal at CBD Provisions. After some meetings, calls, and e-mails, I headed to the Joule Hotel, the chic spot that houses both CBD and Weekend Coffee, the latter of which, as you know, I have been dying to try. I was a bit early so I popped into the coffee shop for some journaling and a cappuccino (which was the best I've had in a very long while - so creamy and delicious), enjoying the beautiful space and the tasty caffeinated beverage (pictured above on that super cool wooden tray, which, of course, now I want). I moved along to CBD to meet Heather and her adorable baby boy, Finn, for lunch, and we caught up over spicy quinoa bowls, which were unbelievably good. The entire adventure was the perfect midday treat, and the whole experience - spending time with a great friend, exploring a new place, enjoying delicious goodies - gave me such a great boost, motivating me to accomplish my tasks for the rest of the day, a goal that can be tough every afternoon but especially on Mondays. I'm thinking that this kind of special event could become a permanent fixture in my game plan for Mondays to come...