A Friendly Weekend

It’s catch up time! How has everyone been?

My weekend was filled with so much fun that I just had to share.

Thursday: Katie and her cutie son Luke came over to my house with Panera and we enjoyed super good food and even better company. It was so good to see Katie (and Luke too!). I haven’t seen her since March! That’s not okay!

Friday: ¬†Friday night was super chill. We got some stuff done around the house if I’m remembering correctly. Oh, and I made a delicious chicken teriyaki stir-fry.

stir fry

Saturday: We got to meet our friend’s new baby boy (!!), and then got together with a group of friends for a pool party! The sun was out for the first half and then went away. That was probably a good thing though since my since my skin is uber sensitive these days.

Once we got home I was completely wiped. I rested for an hour or so before getting ready for the night…

It was high school reunion time!

melanie 27 weeks

We met up with a group of friends at the Red Cow restaurant in Minneapolis.

red cow

We split an order of the caramel bacon puffcorn and OMG I would go back just for that stuff. I really do want to go back again some day because their burgers looked amazing. I didn’t get a burger because I had one for lunch and was trying to give baby some more variety and more veggies.

red cow caramel bacon puffcorn

So I opted for the Asian Chicken Salad.

red cow salad

It was good but not the best ever. Oh well you can’t win them all. I still want to go back.

Next up, the reunion at the Urban Eatery in Minneapolis. I was so excited to see my girls and my guys! This was one of the few photos I took the entire night. That’s a good sign I would say. ūüôā

melanie amanda julie kate

It was a lot of fun minus the fact that it was really warm in the room we were in and Mrs. Preggo here was really sweating buckets. I was downing water like it was my job.

On Sunday, we celebrated an upcoming wedding with a couple’s shower for two¬†of our friends who live in California. We ate insanely good food: quiche, monkey bread (which is my FAVORITE), yogurt parfaits, orange juice and ginger ale. Delicious.

It was a fabulous weekend full of friends! I loved it!

I am linking up with Becky‘s¬†Treat Yourself Tuesday because I definitely treated myself to some tasty food and lots of friend time this weekend!

What is your favorite sweet breakfast treat?

I am torn between monkey bread and cinnamon rolls with lots of icing. I can go for a good doughnut from time to time too!

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Odds and Ends

Hola my friends! How was your weekend?

Mine was really truly great however as always went by way too fast.

Our basement is almost finished and it is so exciting to see how it has all come together. We (okay, mostly Dana) spent a good chunk of the weekend continuing to work on the basement and move furniture downstairs. Our guest bedroom is officially moved downstairs which means that we can start working on the nursery upstairs now!

We also teamed up and tackled the weeds in the garden. That was a much-needed job and I am happy to report that all of our plants are doing well! We even had two sugar snap peas; one for each of us. They were crunchy and perfect.

Some other odds and ends…

I caved and bought some more maternity clothes. I tried to go with the basics this time around: dark jeans, shorts, black tee, white tee, long-sleeved grey tee, and I got a few other tops as well! Old Navy and Gap have great maternity wear!

melanie

Healing my gut is an ongoing journey, so I made myself another batch of bone broth soup to help soothe and heal. Making bone broth is quite the process in case you didn’t know! I made chicken bone broth but someday I want to make beef bone broth because i think I would enjoy it more (more flavor).

bone broth

I’ve been trying to be creative with foods again now that I am really into all foods again (no real aversions any more that I can think of). I threw together an old salad staple of mine with some minor adjustments based on what I had in the kitchen: spinach, strawberries, chicken, red onion, parmesan cheese, sliced almonds, and poppy seed dressing. I would have preferred feta cheese but we didn’t have any. And I should have added black beans and avocado. But it was still good.

strawberry salad

Dana and I made Saturday night date night and went to Punch pizza for my first time. They serve Neapolitan style pizza and eating their pizza seriously brought me back to our honeymoon in Italy. We got the margherita pizza with olives and mushrooms. We also split a really delicious salad.

pizza date night

The last odd and end:

About the same time I found out I was pregnant, I received a wonderful package from a company called Puro Fairtrade Coffee. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I stopped drinking caffeine. Not to mention, the thought of coffee made me queasy in the first trimester.

So there I was with¬†three delicious¬†bags of coffee beans along with a sweet little mug sitting in my home to review. I felt so bad I wouldn’t be able to review it myself but asked if it were okay that my husband review it instead, and they agreed that would be absolutely a-okay!

puro fairtrade coffee puro fairtrade coffee puro fairtrade coffee

Puro coffee

About Puro Fairtrade Coffee 

Puro Fairtrade Coffee comes from a company Miko, they are based in Belgium and are one of the oldest coffee roasters in the world (since 1801!). All coffee from Puro is Fairtrade, but uniquely, Puro works in partnership with a rainforest charity called World Land Trust and money from each bag of their coffee is used to buy and protect areas of rainforest in coffee producing countries.

Puro coffee sales to date, have funded the protection of more than 10,000 acres of rainforest across 6 countries.

Although I personally wasn’t able to taste-test the coffee as I gave up caffeine when I became pregnant, Dana, my husband was able to taste and review it for me. He just finished up the last of it a week ago. He really enjoyed the earthiness (but not TOO earthy), bold and rich flavor of the coffee. We both love that the company is fairtrade and feel great about supporting a company with so much compassion and heart.

Sustainability

Their roasting plant in Belgium was placed near to Antwerp, the world’s second largest coffee port and its roof is covered with solar panels providing for all electricity needs. Residual heat from the roasting process is re-directed to power underfloor heating throughout the factory and offices. Coffee chaff generated through roasting is given to local organic farmers for fertilizing their fields.

I love this!

Another partnership in the UK combines used coffee grounds from filter and espresso generated at key client sites with food waste, creating compost. Also….Puro‚Äôs coffee foils are even upcycled into bags, flower pots and dresses!

Video

Now you can see why this company is so great! To learn more about their story watch their video: http://vimeo.com/fairtradecoffee/our-story 

Online Shop

They have an online shop if you are interested in purchasing:  https://www.puroathome.com/

Okay, that’s enough randomness for one day. Have a good one! xoxo

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Cranberry BBQ Chicken

A while back, I was contacted by The Cranberry Institute to help spread the word on cranberries and not only their deliciousness, but their many health benefits too.

I will admit that when I think of cranberries I think of Thanksgiving. That’s one of the few times that I actually eat whole cranberries throughout the year. Besides that, I will buy dried cranberries and add them to salads or trail mixes. But there are other ways to use cranberries!

Ways to use cranberries:

  • Sprinkle dried cranberries on cereal or yogurt
  • Add cranberry sauce and make a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce (recipe below!)
  • Add dried cranberries to muffins and bread mixes
  • Combine cranberry sauce with cheese for a sweet and salty quesadilla
  • Blend frozen cranberries into smoothies

Health benefits:

  • Cranberries contain flavonoids which prevent bacteria from sticking to the cell walls—example: they prevent E. coli from sticking to the walls in the bladder which is associated with bladder infections
  • They can help to improve heart health
  • They may improve blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Can help boost the immune system

For more information on cranberry health research: http://www.cranberryinstitute.org/health_research/Healthresearch_HR.html

Cranberries are tart as we are all well-aware, and that is because they are so low in sugar. They have similar sugar content to a lemon! Pucker up. Adding sugar to the cranberries makes them more palatable (just be aware of your sugar intake always)!

So how about a fun cranberry-inspired recipe for your Wednesday courtesy of the Cranberry Marketing Committee?!

Cranberry BBQ Chicken! 

cranberry BBQ chicken

cranberry BBQ chicken cranberry BBQ chicken cranberry BBQ chicken

Cranberry BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 cup minced onions (white or yellow)
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. dark molasses
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water if needed (I didn’t need any)

Directions

  1. In a sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat; add onions and sauté 2 minutes. Mix in garlic, mustard, chili powder, and continue cooking 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 more minute.
  2. Add cranberry sauce, vinegar, and molasses and bring to a simmer, whisking often until mixture becomes smooth. Lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until mixture reduces and thickens. Add water to mixture if needed if it gets too thick. Remove from heat and serve on top of chicken!

Their recipe recommended mixing the BBQ sauce with shredded chicken, putting it onto a sandwich and topping it with coleslaw. I thought that sounded great, but what I decided to do was place the BBQ sauce on top of baked chicken breast that I seasoned with onion powder, salt, pepper, and dry mustard. I also melted monterey jack on top of the chicken.

SO good!

Such a fun and different kind of BBQ sauce. Give it a shot for yourself!

Do you enjoy cranberries? How do you use them?

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Thai Chicken Quinoa Salad

It’s BBQ season. That means lots of potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, and hamburgers ¬†(there’s nothing wrong with that from time to time). But why not switch it up every once in a while¬†and bring a delicious and healthy gluten-free salad to share instead?

Today I’m guest-posting for the sweet¬†and talented Kim who blogs at Hungry Healthy Girl. Head over to her blog to¬†check out my Thai Chicken Quinoa Salad recipe!

thai chicken quinoa salad.jpg

What’s your favorite dish to bring to a BBQ?¬†

 

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Cheesy Broccoli Soup and BBQ Chicken

Happpppy hump day to all!

I’ve got a few food pics to share with you on this Wednesday for my rendition of WIAW….What I’ve Been Eating Lately.

First off, gluten-free spaghetti with meat sauce. I tossed in some kale, spinach, onions, and ground beef into the spaghetti sauce. And of course, I had to top the whole thing off with parmesan. I love this meal.

spaghetti

Lunch in New York: A burger. Go figure. My body really craves the iron from the red meat. Although my gut hasn’t been appreciating the greasy food.

burger

A side of super amazing brussels sprouts to try to “balance” my meal. These were so incredible. I’m guessing they were roasted in olive oil and seasoned simply with salt and pepper but if that’s all it is, then why can’t I make them this good at home?

brussels sprouts

I was so absorbed in the events of the wedding that I neglected to take a single food photo. There was A LOT of food and a lot of GOOD food! Take my word.

Saturday morning I was wiped. This girl just can’t stay up until midnight like she used to in the old days. Room service was a must. Oatmeal for me, with a side of fruit.

oatmeal

Back at the ranch home, I tried getting back on the healthy food train after my 29 hours away with a big ol’ green salad. Unfortunately I had to do everything in my power to get this down. Like I mentioned, these days¬†sometimes nothing sounds or tastes good!

salad

On Monday I made Peas and Crayon’s Broccoli Cheese Soup. Coincidentally, she is the one who hosts the WIAW link up!

broccoli cheese soup

This soup was pretty darn tasty if you ask me. I learned my lesson though to make sure and measure seasonings such as cayenne in a soup, because apparently my “eye-balling” it method¬†made for a soup with a bit of a kick! I had to add extra broth and half and half to try to tame it down.

IMG_1434

I really enjoyed it though.

Last night I made a cranberry BBQ chicken (recipe to come soon). I melted monterey jack over the chicken and served it alongside a baked potato and green beans. After eating almost¬†this entire plate of food, I remembered why I really shouldn’t¬†eat big meals anymore. I just felt nasty. Smaller meals is the way I need to go¬†these days. It’s just tough to do with work!

chicken potato green beans

I’ve been a cereal eating machine lately. My latest grocery grab was Honey Nut Chex.

honey nut chex gluten free

And lots of blueberries have been consumed in the last week as well.

blueberries

Y.U.M.

Lots of good eats once again! Thanks to Jenn for hosting WIAW!

Do you prefer small meals or large meals?

What’s your favorite cereal lately?

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EAT! Getting Summer-y Around Here.

If you’re hungry, I apologize in advance because this post is going to make you even more hungry. There have been some serious delicious eats happening around here lately and it’s about time I caught you up on some of them.

No need to get too wordy. Let me show you what I’ve been eating lately!

Tilapia, dirty rice, and broccoli made by mi madre, so obviously it just tastes better!

tilapia

Almond butter and apricot jam toast.

almond butter toast

Grilled veggie burgers in a gluten-free tortilla, a lazy attempt at¬†coleslaw, and baked beans. It’s feeling summery around here and you can tell by my meals!

veggie burgers coleslaw beans

An absolutely amazing breakfast! French toast gluten-free waffle with peanut butter and syrup. YES!!

french toast waffle with pb

Steak kabobs and grilled french fries. Summer, summer, summer!!!

steak kabobs

Panera’s poppyseed salad. You know the temperatures are warming up when Panera gets this on their menu. It is a must for me to get at least once a summer.

panera poppyseed salad

Broccoli cheese soup from Panera. ūüôā

panera broccoli cheese soup

Apple with peanut butter. There may have been a couple of mini chocolate chips added to this snack.

apple peanut butter

GF waffle with pepper jack cheese, mustard and a fried egg. Probably my favorite quick go-to these days. It’s easy, fast, it’s salty and spicy and packs some nice protein with the egg and the cheese!

egg sandwich

Beef taco salad!

taco salad

What do you think? Not too shabby, right? Are you hungry yet?

 

Thanks Jenn for hosting the WIAW!

I’m always looking for new quick meal ideas. Any go-to’s for you all lately?

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Spaghetti Cauli-fredo

I wish I could take credit for the recipe you are about to see, because in my opinion it is sheer genius.

I am not one to usually order any dish with alfredo sauce because in general, I feel like absolute crud after I eat it. This isn’t to say that I don’t¬†enjoy the taste of alfredo sauce because I most certainly do. So when I ran across this recipe for healthy, lighter alfredo sauce, I knew I had to give it a go.

This recipe comes from Pinch of Yum¬†and uses steamed cauliflower as the base of the sauce. You’re initial reaction may be, “blah, that is going to taste absolutely disgusting like cooked cauliflower,” but no, no, no. It doesn’t.

When I took my first bite of the sauce I was 100% blown away at how much it actually tasted like real alfredo sauce.

cauli-fredo

I followed the recipe except I cut it in half. Here is Pinch of Yum’s cauli-fredo recipe:

Author: Pinch of Yum
Serves: makes about 5 cups
INGREDIENTS
  • 8 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5-6 cups cauliflower florets
  • 6-7 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
  • ¬Ĺ cup milk (more to taste)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Garlic: Saute the minced garlic with the butter in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook for several minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned (browned or burnt garlic will taste bitter). Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Cauliflower: Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.
  3. Puree: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, sauteed garlic/butter, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Serve hot! If the sauce starts to look dry, add a few drops of water, milk, or olive oil.
NOTES
I like to add a little bit of olive oil for the flavor and to help keep the sauce really smooth. Several other readers have mentioned that they really liked the addition of Parmesan cheese as well.
To check out her website: Pinch of Yum
I whipped up a batch of brown rice spaghetti, seamed broccoli and one chicken sausage. I added the cauli-fredo sauce to the pasta, broccoli, and chicken, gave it a good stir and plated it up. I added a touch more salt and pepper, then finished it with parmesan cheese. *Note—you don’t need to use all of the sauce. I halved her¬†recipe and I used half of that sauce for Dana and my portions.
cauli-fredo
The sauce is creamy and¬†garlicky. I ate a little too much I think because I was feeling pretty full the rest of the evening because it was just SO good. It’s a rich dish and a really truly delicious dish.
cauli-fredo
Still skeptical? Don’t be. Be adventurous and try it out for yourself!¬†
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Hearty Goulash (Gluten-Free)

Growing up my mom used to make us goulash. I remember macaroni noodles with ground beef and tomatoes. Talk about the perfect meal for four growing teenagers! Go mom!

It has been years since I’ve had this dish, and I thought it sounded delicious. Plus it’s something new and different for me to get thrown into the mix.

So, I got crackin’ in the kitchen. This was actually an incredibly easy meal to prepare. And just a forewarning, this is by no means an authentic Hungarian Goulash recipe. It’s Melanie throwing a bunch of things into a pot and hoping that it turns out well with the right seasonings kind of a recipe.

I have to say, my experimenting, tasting (always taste!), and seasoning turned out to be a success. I present to you:

goulash  goulash  goulash

goulash

Dana and I really enjoyed this dish. Another un-authentic touch was that I added grated parmesan cheese on top. Everything’s better with cheese am I right?

Hearty Goulash (Gluten-Free)
4.0 from 1 reviews
Print
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup gluten-free pasta (dry)--I used brown rice and quinoa spirals
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • ½ tsp. dried sage
  • ½ tsp. dried mustard
  • 2 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • ¼-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 5.5 fl oz can tomato juice
  • 1 tsp. worchestershire sauce
  • ½ Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup peas
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta as directed on package to al dente. Drain; set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, brown and chop ground beef into small pieces.
  3. Add onions and celery and let cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper, dried sage, dried mustard, red pepper flakes, chili powder, garlic powder, tomatoes, tomato juice, and worchestershire. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add butter and peas. Stir and allow peas to get warm; about 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat and gently stir in pasta.
  7. Taste test goulash for seasonings. Add additional seasonings if desired.
  8. Serve hot!

Add this to your rotating dinner menu. It is satisfying, healthy, serves a crowd, and is delicious!

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Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Happy Cinco de Mayo and happy birthday to my papa!!! I love you love you love you!

mom and dad

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I have a an Italian pizza recipe for you. Hahahaha. Kidding obviously that isn’t very Cinco de ¬†Mayo–y.

On Friday I made a gluten-free pizza that turned out pretty darn well. There are some changes I would absolutely make to it to make it better next time, and I am going to offer you those suggestions today. With that, you will have to experiment with baking times.

The crust was just a little too thick for my liking, so what I would do next time is halve the recipe and make a thinner crust. This would account for less cooking time.

gluten-free pizza crust

I used an all-purpose gluten-free flour for the crust. I found this humungous bag at Costco.

gluten free flour

It’s made up of rice flour, ground flaxseed, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and xantham gum. I’ve also used just plain old almond flour or almond meal in pizza crusts and they turn out great.

gluten free flour

 

What made me really excited about this pizza was that I could actually pick the piece of pizza up with my hand without having it fall apart. Most of my other gluten-free pizza crust attempts involve a fork because the pieces aren’t strong enough to pick up. I considered this a success for sure and I think that even if I made the crust much thinner, it would still hold up.

gluten-free pizza crust gluten-free pizza crust

 

gluten free pizza crust

 

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

What I did and what I think you should try versions.

1. What I did (the crust was thicker than I would have liked and not as crispy as I like).

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425¬ļF. Grab a large baking pan and either coat it with non-stick cooking spray or use a non-stick baking mat.
  2. Mix together all ingredients and place dough onto baking mat on the counter (not inside of the pan at this point). Cover the top of the dough with a piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling-pin to roll out the dough as flat as possible so that it still fits on the mat. Then, place mat onto baking pan. If you don’t have a mat you could do this by placing parchment paper on the bottom and the top of the dough and then transferring the dough to the pan once rolled.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove crust from oven, use fork to poke holes in the crust but do not puncture all the way through. Add toppings as you wish. I added marinara sauce, cheese, and loads of veggies.
  5. Place back in oven and bake for 25 more minutes or until cheese is melted and toppings looked cooked.
  6. ENJOY!

What I think you should do especially if you like thinner crust….

  • Halve the crust recipe and make a thinner crust
  • Keep an eye on your pizza while it bakes because baking times will be less than I mentioned
  • Let me know how it turns out and how long you baked it

So much for a super guided recipe, right? Think of it as a fun experiment! If you enjoy a thicker, not so crispy crust, you would probably enjoy the recipe I provided. But personally, I enjoy thinner and crispier!

Happy day my friends!

 

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