Summer Vacation 2016: What We Ate

We ate really well while on vacation. I mentioned here that we ate in a lot which not only saved money but also saved my sanity. Taking children to a busy restaurant at night after a long day in the sun is not my idea of fun. If we did go out to eat it was normally for lunch when everyone wasn’t too tired and the restaurants weren’t too busy. 

Here is a look at some of our meals over the course of the month.

Breakfasts looked something like this for me. The kids ate eggs and bacon almost every.single.day.IMG_1421

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Lunches were salads if we were home, sandwiches if on the boat.

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Dinner was normally on the grill.

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We did go to a few restaurants that really stood out.

While in Key West we ate at Schooner Warf for lunch and it was great!

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Fish Dip

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Tuna Nachos

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Conch Fritters

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Blackened Snapper Sandwich

IMG_7321This place was no frills. It is open air and everything is served on paper plates with plastic silverware. That didn’t bother us at all because the food was DELICIOUS. 

We also ate lunch here one day. We sat by the water and it was great! The shrimp were amazing.IMG_7354

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Mango Mojito

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Royal Red Shrimp – These were a special and were amazing

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Fish Dip

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Cracked Conch

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Mahi Sandwich

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Conch Chowder

While in Marathon one day we ate here for lunch. They are known for their Lobster Reuben so I gave it a whirl. It was great!

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The No Name Pub was close to us in Big Pine Key. We ordered take-out a few times and ate at the house but we did go in for lunch one day. Their pizzas are great and their fish dip is amazing. I got the Taco Pizza and it was great. I love any kind of pizza you can put a salad on. Sorry it is really dark in there so the picture doesn’t really do it justice. IMG_1677

We definitely ate at home a lot but there are no shortage of great places to eat while visiting.

If you are ever in Big Pine Key you definitely need to put these places on your list.

Square Grouper – I have personally never been here but everyone I know who has gone has loved it. I would suggest going for dinner and getting there early. It fills up fast!

Bistro 31 – This place is a great spot when you want a restaurant to cook your catch. We did this last year and it was fabulous. We brought in wahoo and the chef fried it for us. It wasn’t heavy at all. Super delicious! Their spaghetti was also great.

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Wharf Waterside – This is another great dinner spot. They have live music and great specials. Their mussels are wonderful!IMG_1659

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Boondocks Grille & Draft House – This would be one of my least favorite as far as food goes, but the atmosphere is great. There is live music and the whole restaurant is open-air. The kids also like it here 1. because their meals are served on take-home Frisbee’s and 2. there is a put-put golf course attached. So be ready for your kids to beg you to play the entire time you eat-ours did. I would suggest the appetizers over the entrees. IMG_1432

 

Eating in the Keys is somewhat of a sport in and of itself. There are so many amazing places to explore. You could really center a whole trip around just restaurants and I would definitely recommend doing that if you have the opportunity. 

Now, excuse me while I go do some additional Burpees to work off all the vacation food.

Next up, I will post about what we took. A good trip all depends on good gear. I will share what worked for us.

If you missed where we stayed, you can find it here.

If you missed, what we did you can find that here.

xo

A Day In The Life

I really love reading these types of posts because I’m a blog-stalker. I thought I would give it a try too for my own selfish reasons. I want to document one random Tuesday at this point in my life so I can look back and remember how fun and busy these days are. I might be pulling my hair out now, but one day (too soon I’m sure) I will really miss these crazy days. I took all of these pictures with my phone and my house is dark, so not winning any photography awards I know.

 

6:34 Wake Up. This is really a little late for me. I normally try to get up at 6:00 to have some peace and quiet before the craziness of the day begins but some days I need the extra z’s.IMG_0227

6:38 First things first. Coffee. We just recently got this Nespresso machine and I am in love. I was really happy with our Keurig but we were visiting my girlfriend who had a Nespresso and my husband decided it was a must-have. We found one on clearance at Target and haven’t looked back since. The coffee is really delicious.

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The foam is super pretty too.IMG_9873

7:00 I wake up the munchkins. Sometimes they will creep out around 6:45 but normally I have to wake them up on school days (weekends of course they are up at 6:30). They grab blankets and watch TV on the sofa while I make their breakfast. This usually consists of waffles or pancakes with bacon, eggs and fruit. Milk to drink.

7:27 Pack lunches. Little Man will eat at school most days but I have to pack a lunch for The Princess as her school only provides lunch one day a week. Here are what her lunches normally look like. There is also ham hiding in there somewhere.IMG_0230

Between 7:30 and 7:45 the kids finish eating and get themselves ready to go (not without being asked multiple times). Mornings are tough. 

8:07 Out the door. Here is my first breakfast. Looks gross but will hold me over until after my exercise class.  Half of a banana with almond butter.IMG_0231

8:15 Leave to take the kids to school. Cuties.IMG_0233

8:55 Once the kids are dropped off I stop by the post office to get some stamps and send a certified letter. IMG_0235

10:00 Bootcamp at the gym. This is such a tough class but I always feel great once I’m done. It is a 45 minute class with a mix of cardio and strength training. IMG_0236

10:48 Not bad for 45 minutes.

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11:08 Second breakfast. This is a smoothie with almond milk, spinach, frozen bananas, strawberries, protein powder and almond butter. IMG_9636

11:25 I put a pork shoulder in the crock pot. This is going to be a long day with ballet and baseball so dinner being ready when we get home is crucial. I just used a boneless pork shoulder, seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon pepper. I added about 1/2 cup chicken broth and called it a day.IMG_0239

12:30 Hair appointment. Love the chandelier at the salon I go to.IMG_0241

2:30 Lunch is on the go. I packed a cooler (I use this one) because I needed to include snacks for the after-school activities for the kiddos too. I ate this in the car after my appointment on the way to pick up Little Miss. This is romaine lettuce, broccoli slaw, cucumber, avocado, carrots tomatoes and deli turkey. IMG_0394

3:56 On our way to ballet. This normally happens on the drive. Sleepy girl 😉IMG_0242

4:30 Ballet and tap time. I usually take this time to check emails and make phone calls while I wait. On this particular day I didn’t go into my physical office so I had a little bit of housekeeping to take care of while our little ballerina twirled away. Other times I bring my IMG_02445:30 Leave ballet and head to a baseball game. Little Man ate pizza and rode with one of his teammates (it takes a village) so he could be there on time and with a full belly. My husband was out of town this day so it was just me and I needed a little help from my village.

6:15 Baseball time. Unfortunately, we didn’t win this game but the boys played hard and I am always super proud of my little guy. Luckily there are several sisters that stick together during the games so Little Princess stays occupied and because of my little cooler she has a full belly too 😉

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The games normally last an hour and a half which I think is pretty late for 8 year-old-boys on a school night but we survive. After the game we head home.

8:47 Dinner. Pork roast, rice, lima beans and avocado. I also cut up Wickles Pickles in mine. Wine is definitely a must after this day. The kids have pork and rice too.IMG_0256

9:00 The kids are beat and I put them to bed. I am right behind them.

9:15 Watch “Fixer Upper” for about 5 minutes before falling asleep. Night.

Not every day is this full. Tuesday’s seem to be our really busy days with after school activities. Some days of the week are super boring because I am in the office all day, others may include field trips, marketing for business and errands. I’m so lucky that what we do allows some flexibility so that I am able to really enjoy this time with the kids. I love seeing them grow and learn new things even if it means I put 100 miles on the car in a day 😉

Hoping your days include at least one thing that makes you happy too.

xo

Spring Break 2016

We definitely made the most of our Spring Break this year. We decided to take a last-minute trip to Treasure Island for the first part of the break. There, we rode on a beautiful boat, took a day trip to Tarpon Springs, watched Zootopia, hit the beach and explored Downtown St. Pete. 

 
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Sunshine Skyway Bridge

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Lunch at Mykonos by the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs.

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Grilled octopus. So delicious!

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Greek salad- there was potato salad hidden at the bottom. My favorite!

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Gyro of course. Open-faced so we could share

 

Wine and apps at Locale Market

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Beach day fun!

We explored Downtown St. Pete.

 

Lunch at Moon Under Water

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These Banyan Trees were amazing.

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Gelato at Paciugo

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The second part of the week was spent at an amazing resort not too far from home and celebrating Easter.

The kids had a blast riding the Lazy River and swimming in the pool at The Omni near Disney.

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Trying to give herself bunny ears.

We celebrated Easter Saturday and Sunday. It was a weekend filled with food, laughs and plenty of egg hunting. 

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This Spring Break was definitely one to remember. We stayed up too late, slept-in, ate a ton and just enjoyed each other. Can’t wait to plan for next year.

xo

2016 Goals

Since it is February I’ve think it is about time to post about resolutions.

I have decided have goals this year instead of resolutions. I really enjoyed making a list of things to work on last year so I decided to go ahead and do it again this year. I feel like the word “resolution” tends to make me feel a little pressure and I really don’t want to set myself up to be disappointed if something doesn’t go exactly as planned. The word “goal” feels a little more forgiving and reaching goals might be a little easier to achieve rather than sticking to resolutions.

Anyhoo here goes the list for this year (I think it will resemble last year’s quite a bit.)

Fitness

This one should be pretty easy. I have really found an exercise schedule that works for me and has made a huge difference in my strength and endurance. I think it is important for me to make my health a priority so I don’t think I will have any issues with this one. I do want to try to incorporate different elements. I want to play golf and more paddle-boarding. I enjoy both of these things very much and look forward to getting them into the rotation.

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Food

I really want to branch out with my recipes this year. I want to try new things and get a little out of my comfort zone. I am also on a mission to get my kids to try new foods as well. We have got to get away from the chicken nugget/mac and cheese cycle. I will also let them help me more in the kitchen. When they are part of the process they are much more likely to try new foods.

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Family

Schoolwork and family time are going to be really big this year. Little Man is to the point where homework is really important and making time to do this every day is crucial. I want to make this time fun and enjoyable, not tedious. In order to do this I am going to create a new homework station for the kids. I hope this will make homework and study time fun. 

Photography

I need to work on this. Most of the time I walk off and forget my big camera and only use my phone. The pictures are good but I really want to play with my camera more to really use it to get some good shots.

Travel

This was one area we really excelled in last year. We have several trips already in the works for this year and we are super excited. Spending time as a family in fun places is definitely something to look forward to.

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“Keep Improving” will be my motto this year. I want to be a better mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, boss, co-worker, you name it. If I can keep improving.

These goals are pretty basic and I tend to have monthly goals as well so hopefully I can keep up with them!

Here’s to your goals this year as well! May we all have a great 2016!!

xo

2015 Year in Review

2015 was definitely one for the record books. I know, I know I haven’t posted since February of last year (really??!!)-eek. 2015 was filled with fun and adventure but at the same time I felt like my inspiration for this little blog moved to the back burner. Not because it wasn’t important anymore but because I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted it to go or what I had to say. I was feeling lack of inspiration and really that is it. When the inspiration isn’t there it shows and I didn’t want to post just to post. 

I’ve realized now that although I have nothing groundbreaking going on over here, this space is important to me. I love having a place to look back and see how my life was going at that particular moment. I love seeing my kids grow and I love having a place to share with others. So with that being said, I will post my resolutions for the year soon, and needless to say blogging regularly is definitely on the list.

Before that though, here is the year that was 2015. Be ready for tons of photos.

January

January

Last years resolutions were definitely in effect. I really worked hard on getting strong and healthy. Exercise has always been an important part of my life but now even more so. January started off with a bang.

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We also celebrated a 4th birthday.

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February

Another special birthday.

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Baseball also started.

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I started a membership at the YMCA. I was able to start trying out new classes.

Spin was a new one for me. 

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I also dabbled again with eating Paleo-ish.

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March

We stayed in a hotel that reminded me of “The Shining”

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We went to a hockey game.

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April

More baseball.

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We celebrated my Mom’s Birthday with a shrimp boil.

 

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We had a ballet recital.

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May

This month had celebrations.

Memorial Day

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And someone special’s birthday

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June

This month marked our first trip to the Keys for the year.

This little fishy learned to swim.

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We made a Summer Bucket List and were able to check off almost everything!

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We visited a beautiful beach and found hundreds of shark teeth.

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July

This month was filled with travel and fun.

We spent the majority of the month in the Keys.

We had a great Fourth of July.

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Midway through the month the grown-ups flew to the Windy City.IMG_6308

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Then back down to the Keys to finish of the month and catch some lobsters.

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August

Back to school and back to soccer.

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September

This month was quiet except for some school events and a pretty epic wine and cheese party.

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October

This month we were busy with birthday celebrations and yummy food.IMG_7438

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November

I hosted Thanksgiving for the very first time!
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We took a quick trip to Savannah.

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December

This month was filled with Christmas celebrations and tons of family time. 

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I loved our tree this year.IMG_8008

The kids LOVED our Advent calendar.

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A much needed girl’s night out.IMG_8279

Waiting patiently to open presents.

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We cooked a Christmas duck and it was amazing.IMG_8390

Aren’t these the prettiest Yorkshire Pudding’s you have ever seen? My mom made them and the were the fluffiest most delicious things ever.IMG_8934

After Christmas we took one last quick trip to South Carolina.IMG_8967

We had such a great year. I was able to really stick to my resolutions and I am definitely proud of that.  

While all the photos look like tons of fun I definitely still deal with the craziness that goes along with having two children, owning a business and trying to stay healthy and stress-free. We worked hard and played hard and made so many wonderful memories.

2016 has a lot to live up to.

xo

2014 Summer Recap & Bucket List Check-In

So it has been a while no? Needless to say our summer was very full and fun and sadly, has come to a screeching halt. School is back in session and work is busy so the carefree feel of summer is behind us. Fortunately, we were able to leave summer on an amazing note with a wonderful trip to the Keys. I will re-cap that in another (terribly long) post. I thought I would touch base and see how we did with our Summer Bucket List. I think we covered quite a few things, although not all-boo.

Here are some thing we were able to check off.

Grill out once a week- We grilled out while maybe not quite once a week, definitely a lot more than usual. While in the Keys we grilled out quite a bit. It is just an easier way to feed a crowd and enjoy the scenery at the same time.  My favorite meal highlighted lobsters that we caught that day! So good.

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Steak in the Keys is better than steak anywhere else.

Eat Outside- We did a lot of this! One weekend in June we joined my Mom and Dad and had lunch at The Taproom at Dubsdread. It is actually where my husband and I were married!

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Hummus Plate, burgers and beer al fresco. It was a perfect Saturday afternoon.

While in the Keys we ate outside quite a bit.

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This salad was made with leftover steak, tomatoes, olives and grilled veggies. So yum!

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Hot dogs, watermelon and a pickle. His favorites!

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Lunchtime in Key Largo wouldn’t be complete without popsicles!

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“Tater” Chip Fondue at the Island Grill in Key Largo (we went to the Mandalay location this time). If you go, you MUST try the Tuna Nachos.

Make homemade Ice Cream-I did this and the kids hated it. Whomp whomp. They said it tasted like frozen milk. I will need to see about a better recipe next year.

Go to the Pool- We definitely hit the pool pretty regularly. Whether it was our community pool, while visiting family or the Keys house we stayed in, the kids definitely were little fish this summer.

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The Princess doesn’t swim yet and normally will just sit and play on the pool steps. We found a couple small swim rings for her and all of a sudden she had all sorts of confidence. Similar one here. She even swam while the others were looking for lobsters-in the ocean! With that ring she feels like she can conquer the world!

swimming

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This Little Man also made strides with his swimming this summer. He became GREAT with the mask and snorkel and was able to dive down almost 9 feet in the pool. Little fish I tell you.

Some of the things we didn’t check off our list.

Food Trucks-We didn’t get to any food trucks but I think we may do that when it is cooler out. It is just miserably hot now so we may need to wait for some relief.

Family Game Night-This didn’t happen but we did have a few Family Movie Nights. They were just as fun. One of our favorites was Walking With Dinosaurs.

All in all we had a really great summer. I know I keep saying it but the Keys trip was the highlight and we managed to knock off a bunch of our list items while there.

Now I am looking forward to cooler weather and a very busy fall/winter. I am going to have a new niece in October! My wonderful friends are getting married in November and Thanksgiving is shaping up to be a great family event. Christmas will be here before we know it. I cannot even believe it.

How did you guys do with your Summer Bucket Lists? Can you believe the summer is over??

xo

Tomato Sandwich Recipe

I am feeling a little nostalgic this week. Monday my Grandmother would have celebrated her 94th birthday. It is hard to believe she has been gone for almost seven years. I have been missing her lately. 

When my sister and I were lucky enough to go stay with my grandparents during the summer we would have so much fun. Normally, we would only make the trip from Florida to Tennessee for Thanksgiving, so being able to go during the summer was a treat. We would pick blackberries, help Granddaddy with his garden and help Grandmother with canning and preserving.

I don’t know what they do to the soil in Tennessee but I tell you it is magical. I remember seeing a hot house cucumber at the grocery store in my twenties and I thought, my Granddaddy grew these in his garden when I was a kid, way before they were cool and they were delicious! And can we talk about the tomatoes? I mean talk.about.the.tomatoes. I have never tasted a tomato that is as good as one from Tennessee. #Truth.

I learned to love tomatoes those summers spent at my grandparents’ house. That love is still with me. The tomatoes here in Florida don’t really hold a candle to the ones we had those summers with Grandmother and Granddaddy, but around this time of year they are just about as good as they are going to get and I will eat my weight in tomato sandwiches and swim in memories of our summers in Tennessee.

That was my long-winded way of saying that these sandwiches are memory machines. For these, I was feeling wild and added some avocado but I will always have a special place in my heart (and stomach) for the original: a juicy tomato on toasted bread, with salt, pepper and mayo. That was it. Simple and so delicious.

So if you are in Tennessee, enjoy your magic soil and amazing tomatoes. Feel free to send me some if you think of it. I will just be here making these wishing I was eight again.

Happy Birthday Grandmother.

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Princess approved!

 

Tomato Sandwiches
Serves 2
Summer tomatoes are the best.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  2. 4 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
  3. 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  4. 1 avocado, mashed
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Toast the bread slices
  2. Split the mayonnaise between the slices (1 tablespoon per sandwich)
  3. Spread each slice with the mashed avocado
  4. Top with the sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper
Steph in Symmetry http://stephinsymmetry.com/
 xo

Summer Pasta Salad Recipe

Can we talk salad bars for a moment? I’m normally not a huge fan of buffet-type restaurants. I love to eat but these types of restaurants normally make money on me because I can never go back for more than my initial plate. This is probably because I am intrigued by most everything on a salad bar and will normally try a little of everything. Thus the one and done.

My husband and I used to live in Atlanta for a short time right after we were married. I loved Atlanta. I always say, if Atlanta had a beach I would still live there. There are so many things to do and so many delicious places to eat. I became a forever-fan of Thai food while there and have yet to find anything quite as good here in Orlando. Even  if we were just running to grab a bite for lunch it was almost always delicious.

There was a Jason’s Deli right across the street from where I worked while we were there. On a lunch break one day I was introduced to the chain. I know what you are thinking, Jason’s Deli? Really? Yes, stay with me. My girlfriend and co-worker at the time was with me and suggested I try the salad bar. Boy am I glad she was there. Best.decision.ever. This salad bar had everything you could imagine. The hard-boiled eggs weren’t chopped, they were whole (awesome)! But my favorite by far, the reason I would return to this location at least 10 times after this (we only lived in Atlanta for 9 months), was the pasta salad. It was flavorful and went perfectly with the rest of the salad fixins, but the most memorable part is that it was made with spaghetti noodles. Now, I don’t know about you, but normally if I were to make pasta salad, I would use small pasta shapes- shells, farfalle or wagon wheels if I could find them, but I never thought to use spaghetti. Well, my friends, it is still to this day my favorite pasta to use for pasta salad.

We have a few Jason’s Deli’s around here now and I’ve gone in hoping for salad bar excellence but have been disappointed each time. Don’t me wrong, the salad bar is still good, but no spaghetti pasta salad to be found (whole hard-boiled eggs were there though!). Since I can’t re-live my Atlanta Jason’s Deli experiences, I’ve decided that making it at home is definitely the best way to go.

I make all kinds of pasta salads these days but this version is one of my favorites. So in time for your 4th of July barbecue or cookout, here is a recipe I like and hope you will too!

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Summer Pasta Salad
Serves 4
Great for any cookout. This pasta salad uses spaghetti noodles!
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 pound spaghetti pasta (I used Gluten Free Barilla because I really like the texture)
  2. 1/2 cucumber, diced
  3. 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  4. 1 small tomato, diced
  5. 2 slices cooked bacon
  6. 2 oz cheese (I used Colby but you can use any hard cheese you like)
  7. 1/3 cup black olives, chopped
Dressing
  1. 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1/2 avocado
  3. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  5. 1 tsp oregano
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. While you are chopping the veggies, cheese and bacon, cook the pasta per the box instructions. Once you drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. In a food processor or blender mix all the ingredients for the dressing.
  3. Mix the pasta and the veggies, then pour the dressing over to coat.
Notes
  1. I used Gluten Free pasta for this because I really like the way the texture holds up the next day. It dries out a little bit, but that is how I like my pasta salad. Feel free to use regular semolina pasta, it will be great!!
Steph in Symmetry http://stephinsymmetry.com/

 

 

Roast Chicken

I can pretty much say this is the go-to meal at our house. It is perfect for during the week or even for entertaining. I think my family knows that if they come over for dinner on a Saturday night there is a 50/50 chance this will be on the menu (the other option is normally pasta of some sort). They are probably sick of it, but they haven’t complained yet.

Chef Jonathan Waxman really knows what he is doing. My husband and I watched him make this on TV once and thought, that looks so delicious, and really not too difficult. Proving again that if you have really good quality ingredients, making food delicious is pretty easy. The key is committing to basting EVERY 8 minutes. I’m not sure why it is 8 and not 10, but who am I to question Obi Wan Kenobi? He knows things, I tell you.

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The skin is so delicious you will swear it was seared first. It gets so crispy and since the chicken is cut up into pieces, it cooks really quickly.

We have made tons of variations on this. Sometimes we change the citrus from lemon to orange or lime, add different herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc) once I used Tandoori spice and it was awesome.

You can change this up so many ways and it will come out delicious every time. I promise. If  it doesn’t, come over to my house any given Saturday night and I will apologize personally by serving you roast chicken.

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This is the tandoori spiced version.

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Make sure you use a cast iron skillet. They work the best!

  

Roast Chicken
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Ingredients
  1. 1 whole chicken, cut in pieces
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 lemon, cut in half
  4. Salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Rinse the chicken and pat dry.
  3. Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into a large cast iron skillet.
  4. Rub the other tablespoon of oil onto all the chicken pieces.
  5. Sprinkle both sides of all pieces with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  6. Cut lemon in half and place cut side down in the pan.
  7. Place chicken in oven and baste every 8 minutes until chicken is fully cooked (165 degrees). This normally takes about 35-40 minutes.
  8. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. There are so many variations on this. Make it your own! You can use any seasonings you like and any high-temperature oil. We actually used duck fat once and it was amazing.
Adapted from Jonathan Waxman's Roast Chicken
Steph in Symmetry http://stephinsymmetry.com/

 

 

Mother’s Day Weekend

Such a wonderful weekend spent with family and loved ones. We decided to spend Saturday with my mom to celebrate with her. It was wonderful as always. I told her I would cook and she would be in charge of the beverages. I made shrimp and grits and this salad.

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My Dad took over beverage making and made delicious margaritas. IMG_2402  

My Mom has some beautiful gardenias growing. They smell amazing.  IMG_2385

We ended the day watching Little Man play golf on the green behind their house. I hope he enjoys golf as much as we do.  IMG_2412

Sunday we spent the day celebrating my sweet Mother-In-Law. It was a great time with yummy barbecue (I forgot to take a picture) and mimosas. IMG_2416 IMG_2396

It was a perfect weekend and I just love the Mother’s in my life. I hope you enjoyed your weekend and showered your Mama’s with love.

xo