Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Sausage Bake with a White Cheese Sauce.

This recipe has been on my meal plan for two different weeks now, but things have always managed to come up. Nice weather? Let's go get drinks and apps instead. Friday night? Let's grill steak instead. This poor recipe kept being pushed to the back burner, but now that I actually made it, I wish I would have made it SO much sooner. It is that good. 

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Sausage Bake with White Cheese Sauce
Recipe from Pinch of Yum

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (3-4 cups)
16 ounces Italian pork or chicken sausage, cut into small rounds
2 cups finely chopped kale
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
¾ cup milk
¼ cup flour
¾ cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and Italian sausage. Shake to coat in oil, let sit for a few minutes to brown, and shake the pan gently again to move everything around. Repeat until the sweet potatoes and sausage both have golden brown exteriors. Toss with the kale and transfer to a greased 9-inch square baking dish.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring the broth and ½ cup milk to a low boil, then turn the heat to keep it at a low simmer. Whisk the flour and remaining ¼ cup milk to form a thick paste. Add this to the broth, whisking to keep the sauce smooth. Add ¼ cup Gruyere and stir until melted.

Pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes, kale, and sausage in the baking dish. Top with remaining ½ cup cheese and bake for 10 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.

This makes quite a bit of sauce - you might not need all of it depending on how sau-say you like things.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Five {Exciting News, Garden, Target Finds, New Front Porch Pretties, + Weekend Plans}

Happy Friday, everyone! 
Very glad this day is here and am hoping the work day flies by!

Cameron got a new job!
After working 7 years at his previous job, the only one he's had since college, he made the decision to move on to the next step in his career. He started on Monday and seems to like it so far! Other than the fact that his drive to work went from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Proud of him for taking a chance on this great opportunity!

Garden is planted!
Last Thursday I finally got the rest of the soil spread in my raised garden bed, and all of the seeds planted. I planted just a few plants because I knew the seeds will take a while before any of the veggies will be big enough to eat. I've become crazy garden lady though - checking on it every single day, and even creating a spreadsheet of what we planted and when it sprouts...and a layout so that when things DO start to grow, I will be able to remember what was planted where!

 I planted these about 2 weeks before I planted anything in the raised bed. That's why they are so much further along. We've had the kale plant since the Fall.

Wednesday after the gym I made a quick stop in Target. I actually made it out with only the items on my list! That rarely happens. I picked up a 1 1/2" curling iron that I've been meaning to purchase for a while now, Olay Fresh Effects face wipes that are perfect to stash in your car and use after a nice sweaty session at the gym (they smell so good!), and a Sonia Kashuk kabuki brush that I'm pretty obsessed with.

Last week during a Costco haul, they had potted hydrangeas and beautiful hanging baskets by the front entrance that immediately caught my eye (like they are supposed to do). I held off on the hydrangeas, but thought that the hanging basket ($15.99) was way too pretty to pass up. I especially love it because it doesn't have the ugly plastic bottom.

Unfortunately, it looks like it's going to rain cats and dogs tonight and tomorrow, so we don't have any concrete plans until Sunday. For Easter, we'll be going to church with Cameron's family, then heading to my grandma's house for an early dinner. After that, I'll hop in the car with Emily, David, and Baby Lane and head to Greenville for the annual BrightLife golf tournament fundraiser on Monday! SO excited, as this is my first year attending! If you've ever noticed the BrightLife picture on the right hand column of my blog, this is what it's all about! You can learn more about our good friend Tim (and his pretty awesome wife, Jenny) and BrightLife here.

Hope everyone has a great Easter weekend!
Free printable

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How To Make Homemade Sushi {Paired With a Delicious Beer}.

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Kirin. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

It's no secret that Cameron and I like to drink a beer after a long day at work, or during a nice sunny day on the boat, so when Millennial Central asked me if they could send me some Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light beer, I was all for it! I was already familiar with the beer, as I tend to order it from Japanese restaurants, so I knew I was going to like it. They also sent me everything I needed to make homemade sushi! I was a little nervous at how hard it would be, but Cameron really got the hang of it. 

If you're not familiar with Kirin beer, you should really try it! It's got a nice, clean taste and pairs perfectly Japanese and Asian cuisine. It's also known as being beer at it's purest because of its first-press brewing process. The Kirin brewery is actually one of the oldest breweries in Japan, dating back to 1888!

Here's a brief re-cap of how it went down. 

Gather all of your supplies. 
Take a sip of your Kirin beer. 

Read the instructions to your handy assistant as he/she prepares the rolls. 
We decided to make California rolls (crab, avocado, and cucumber) and spicy tuna rolls (fresh tuna + spicy mayo made with sriracha).

Enjoy your delicious sushi with your refreshing and light Kirin beer!
(Kirin Light only has 95 calories!)

It was SO good and it honestly tasted like we had ordered it from a restaurant!


Here is the recipe to make your own sushi at home!
(Most of these supplies, other than the fresh ingredients, can be found at World Market)

Bamboo mat
Rice paddle
Paper fan
Sharp knife
Clean, wet towel
Makes 4 servings

10–12 sheets toasted nori (seaweed)
1 ½ cups sushi rice = 3 cups cooked sushi rice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon  salt
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
Fresh basil, stems  removed
1 Cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise
Carrots, thinly sliced
Japanese kaiware sprouts
Japanese umeboshi plums, seeds
Daikon pickles

Imitation crabmeat pieces or sticks
Smoked salmon, thinly sliced
Smoked Tofu, thinly sliced
Furikake (Japanese Mrs. Dash)
Toasted sesame seeds
Sriracha hot sauce
Reduced-sodium soy sauce, for dipping
Ponzu sauce, for dipping

Make your sushi rice. Prepare and cook the sushi rice as directed on the package.
Roughly 2 parts grain, 1 part water ratio. Cool the rice slightly while preparing your
sushi-su (sushi vinegar).

In a medium mixing bowl, add the sushi-su (sushi vinegar ingredients) – 3
tablespoons rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Whisk well to
dissolve all the sugar and salt.

Transfer your slightly-cooled sushi rice into a large bowl. Using a rice paddle and a
small paper fan, fan the sushi rice as you slowly drizzle the sushi  vinegar over the
rice.  Cut the sushi  rice with the rice paddle, as you fan the rice to cool at  the same
time. Be sure not to mix the rice. Simply  cut through the rice until all of the sushi-su
is absorbed.
Roll your sushi while the rice is still warm. Prep a  clean work surface, like a clean cutting
board or a clean countertop.
Lay down your bamboo mat on your work surface. Place the nori, on top of the bamboo
mat, shiny side down.

Using your rice paddle, spread a layer of approximately ½  cup sushi rice in the middle of
the nori sheet. At the bottom of the sushi roll, closest to you, add your choice of fillers,
proteins, and seasonings in a horizontal line. Tightly roll from the bottom up into a long
maki roll. Gently squeeze the bamboo mat to tighten your roll.

To cut, remove your bamboo mat, and cut your roll in half. (Wipe off your knife with
your towel in between slicing.) Next, line up your two halves and cut into fourths and
sixths. Repeat until all the sushi  rice is used. Serve immediately.

Dip in your choice of sauces or just enjoy as is!

Follow Kirin on Facebook here


Now go check out my guest post on One Year Wedding Anniversary gift ideas for your husband over at Jenn's blog, Going the Distance!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blue Cheese Turkey Burger Salad.

Blue Cheese Turkey Burger Salad

Servings: 2
Recipe from Coupon Kitchen

2 turkey burger patties
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese
3 cups spring mix lettuce or spinach
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Season turkey burgers with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes a side, or until no longer pink in the center. Top each burger with blue cheese and tent with foil to melt.

In a small bowl, whisk garlic, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper; slowly whisk in oil.

Divide spinach between two plates. Top with burgers and drizzle with honey mustard vinaigrette.

This would also be good wrapped in butter or iceberg lettuce!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

A Weekend Full of Celebrations {Engagement + Birthdays}.

This weekend was jam-packed with celebrations!

Friday, we crammed 5 people into a Honda Accord and made the 4.5 hour drive to Athens, GA. One of Cameron's good friends, Justin, proposed to his girlfriend, Jenny, and we were all there to surprise her afterwards! He proposed to her on campus (they both went to Georgia, but didn't meet until after college) and we, along with their friends and family, were waiting in their hotel room with some champagne! Needless to say, Jenny was SUPER surprised. 

Since I've known about this little trip for a couple of months, I ordered a shirt for Jenny to wear to Georgia's Spring Game! 

We continued the celebration with dinner at Porterhouse Grill {the filet with blue cheese butter - amazing!!}, then onto the bars. 

Celebrated until 4am - which I haven't done in a LONG time! And somehow wasn't hungover the next day. Score! 

My computer is being SUPER slow now so I'll keep the rest of the weekend short and sweet.

We got back to Charleston around 4pm, got a quick nap, then went on to the next celebration - James' 30th birthday! We had a group of about 20 people to surprise James at Mellow Mushroom in Avondale for dinner, then we hit up the surrounding bars. 

On Sunday, we celebrated Cameron's grandfather's 92nd birthday! Tojo is not your typical 92 year old  - he still hunts, fishes, and pretty much anything else you can think of. The weather yesterday, paired with the view and being with family, made it the perfect day.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

First Anniversary. {Part Two}

Back today for Part Two of our Anniversary Weekend Re-cap!
But first, I just wanted to say a quick  thank you to all of my readers who sent me words of encouragement when I posted about my crappy day a week or so ago, and then again when Cameron's grandmother passed away. I (and Cameron) sincerely appreciate it!

Saturday in Hilton Head, there was an 80% chance of rain. We did the normal touristy things like shop at the outlet mall and walk around Harbour Town. We grabbed lunch and a few drinks at The Quarterdeck, while over looking the marina. 
See how gloomy it was?
Once we were done with lunch and shopping, the sun started peeking through the clouds. We went back to our rooms and changed into our bathing suits. It wasn't quite warm enough for the pool, so we settled for the hot tub. 
I hate pruny fingers, so you will rarely see my hands in the water.

While we were lounging, we saw a bride and groom taking pictures separately, and then got to peek in on their first look! It was so sweet to watch!

That night, we cleaned up went to dinner at the Chart House. We arrived about an hour before our reservation so that we could sit outside and take advantage of their happy hour menu. I wore the dress that I wore to our rehearsal dinner exactly a year prior to that night.

For dinner, we started with the East Meets West Tuna {zesty tuna tartare drizzled with wasabi cream paired with seared peppered tuna & avocado, with kim chee slaw and plaintain chips}. Apparently we've been loving tuna lately. For entrees, Cameron ordered the Meyer Lemon Grouper and I ordered the Filet with a side of their sizzling mushrooms. Everything was delicious!

My dress was so tight by the end of dinner, that I wanted to go back to the hotel room and change before we went back out to a bar. Well, that turned into changing and just going to the hotel bar, and that turned into changing into our pj's and just watching a movie. Sounds lame probably, but I wouldn't have had it any other way! 

Sunday morning, we checked out and met our friends, Kelly Anne, Tyler, and their adorable baby, Greyson, for brunch at Lowcountry Backyard. It was so great catching up with them and I could just love on Baby Greyson all day! 

Once we made it back to Charleston, we stopped by an oyster roast that was being thrown by a family friend. My parents and Cameron's parents were there also, so afterwards, we invited them back to our house to enjoy some of our anniversary cake with us! We cut the top layer of the cake the night of our wedding, so I just had our cake baker (Cameron's cousin) make us a small 6" cake of our favorite flavor - chocolate cake with Kahlua icing. YUM. Served on our very, very special china.

Gifts wise, in sticking with the first anniversary theme of paper, here is what I gave Cameron:

Masculine Stationery

Ray Lamontagne Concert Tickets

Photo Book from Our First Year of Marriage

I am so bad about holding on to gifts until the actual occasion. I gave him the photo book before we even left to go on our trip, and I let him open the other two gifts about an hour after we got to the hotel! 

So anyway, that's how we spent our first anniversary! 

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

First Anniversary. {Part One}

Finally getting around to re-capping our first wedding anniversary!

Let's first start Thursday after work, because let's be honest, the moment you walk out of work, you are officially on vacation! After work, I got a spray tan and Cameron had a work meeting, so we met up downtown and tried Octobachi for the first time, after hearing amazing things about it from Katie. Once we FINALLY found it, we walked inside and sat at the bar. It's super small and the large group of med students were too loud to sit next to. 
We ordered their tuna sushi nachos. Yes, they were as amazing and they look. So fresh and delicious. 

After we finished those, we ordered some edamame, a california roll, and a spicy tuna roll. 

Look at this crab meat!

I'm starving looking at those pictures and can't wait to go back. 


Now, on to our actual anniversary weekend. 
We left Charleston around lunch time and made the quick, 2 hour drive to Hilton Head. We stayed at the newly renovated Westin, thanks for my friend, Kelly Ann's, suggestion. We checked in and were told that we had been upgraded from a ocean view room to an ocean front room. Score! (Hint: If you're celebrating a special occasion, always let the management know! You'd be surprised what kind of upgrades you'll get!)

We got settled in and went for a walk to scope out the hotel. It was pretty overcast so there wasn't much pool or beach lounging to do. We found the outdoor bar, relaxed, and ordered some drinks. 

After a few drinks, we went back to the room to start getting ready for dinner. There was a knock at the door and some champagne and chocolate covered strawberries were delivered to us by the concierge! What a nice thought!

Before dinner, we stopped by a place called Ela's Grille, which was located in a cove on the water. I can't remember what kind of girly drink I ordered, but I do remember that it was really tasty. 

After drinks, we headed to Santa Fe Cafe, which we heard rave reviews about. It's a Mexican restaurant, but more upscale than your local Senor Tequila's. They were actually booked solid with reservations that night, but Kelly Anne, being the local girl that she is, had connections and got us in. They have a really nice outdoor seating area with a fireplace and live music, but unfortunately it was drizzling outside so we couldn't take advantage of it.

We ordered the guacamole to get us started. I ordered the Outrageous Chimichanga (Beef, chicken, black beans, cheese, sour cream, onions and tomatoes wrapped in a sun-dried tomato tortilla and fried to a pastry crust. Served over green & red chile sauce, topped with guacamole.), which was surprising because I had never ordered a chimichanga in my life. But I wanted to try something new, and I'm so glad I did. And Cameron ordered the Ribeye Burrito (Blackened ribeye, black beans, caramelized onions and cheddar jack cheese inside a flour tortilla), which was really good, too. Huge hunks of steak, which I likey. 
The Outrageous Chimichanga from Santa Fe's website
Needless to say, we were stuffed after our meal. But not quite ready to hit the hay just yet. I Googled "live music in Hilton Head" and stumbled across a jazz bar. Sure, why not? We thought. Let's go somewhere we normally wouldn't. We walked up to The Jazz Corner, thinking this would be a snooze, but we were way wrong. There was a red velvet rope blocking off the entrance so I immediately thought to myself that this was closed for a private party. The woman standing at the door told me there were exactly two spots left at the bar. We ordered some Irish coffees (how old are we again??) and listened to the 5-piece Jazz band. Come to find out, The Jazz Corner is continuously voted one of the Top 100 Jazz Venues in the World and we were there on the night that they were celebrating their 15th year! Everyone was so very friendly to us (I'm sure we stuck out like a sore thumb, being as the average age was probably 70). We met a nice gentleman that was sitting next to us, and even the owners stopped by to introduce themselves to us.  Since this was a night of celebrating their 15th anniversary, they put together a band of their favorite musicians, and they were all so awesome. Could not have had a better experience.

And that's a wrap of part one of our anniversary weekend! 
Kudos to you if you made it this far. 

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