Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blueberry Brain Boost Smoothie

 This smoothie is one that I've been dreaming of having for my morning breakfast for quite some time. I found the inspiration through Pinterest. Boy do I love that website! There is so much goodness on there. If you haven't tried it, you should check it out today. But as I've warned before, be careful. You might find yourself glued to the computer screen for an hour or more, it's that addictive!

Let's just say I really enjoyed my breakfast this morning and am I full! I feel energized and healthier just from sipping this through a straw. I have a feeling that you will feel the same way when you try it too. And that color, isn't it gorgeous? That's enough to wake any body up, no matter how sleepy they are in the mornings!

Here's the quote from the recipe that contributes to the "brain boost" part of the name: 

"Recent studies show that the powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals in blueberries may improve cognitive function. Paired with walnuts, they make a blueberry smoothie that tops the antioxidant chart. The rich nuttiness of the walnuts complements the berries, and they may work a little magic on your memory. Word has it that walnuts contain essential fatty acids that support the development of brain cells and neurotransmitters, so sip this unforgettable smoothie and you may just forget less!"

Blueberry Brain Boost Smoothie

1 ripe banana
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup fresh peaches, diced
1/2 cup raw walnuts

  1. Pulse banana and apple juice in a blender. 
  2. Add blueberries, peaches, and walnuts. Blend until smooth. 
Makes 1 large serving

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bear Lake Biking

 All of us in the Black family took a little trip up to Bear Lake this past weekend and enjoyed time surrounded by beautiful outdoors, relaxing in the cabin, playing in the water, and just being with each other. 

Michael and I decided to go for a little ride on his dad's motorcycle on Saturday morning. Jennifer, Janessa, and Leland (siblings) all went for a 55 mile ride around the lake on their road bikes and had asked us if we would bring them water/sustenance about halfway through. So, that's what we did! This was my first time riding on the motorcycle with Michael and it was so fun!
Our helmets had wireless headsets inside, so we could speak to each other while riding. I loved holding on to Michael and feeling the wind blow all around us. It was what we like to call a good "Hubby/Wifey" time!

As you can see, we're pretty awesome looking. I had to wear Janessa's motorcycle jacket, because it was a little bit smaller than Mike's mom's jacket. They both were still a little big on me. Can you see my arms? Yep, my hands kinda disappeared. Haha. 

 I think Michael looks a lot like his dad in this picture. He was such a safe and careful driver. Love him!

 And yes, this is my face all squished in the helmet. Look at those chubby cheeks (and freckles)!

Left to right: Janessa, Jennifer, and Leland. I can't believe they actually survived such a LONG bike ride. I don't even know how they did it. Course, it's not too hilly around the lake, so that's the only way I could fathom even making it through. They're pretty awesome if you ask me. 

It was a great weekend spent with loved ones. I've got a recipe to share from the trip, so check back tomorrow for more info. (I'm trying to get back into more recipes, but life has been crazy with this move. So if I'm a bit of a slacker for the next month or so, don't judge me.) :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wedding in Manti

Went to the wedding of my nephew yesterday. Yes, that's right, I said nephew. His mother Sharon is my half-sister, so by the time I was born I was already an aunt. Anyway, Cory Norton married Haley Myers yesterday in the Manti Utah Temple, and Michael and I headed down there to celebrate their special day. It was fun and so exciting to go inside the Manti Temple for the first time. I've been to the pageant a couple times before, but never have I been inside and seen the beauty of one of the oldest temples in Utah. It was dedicated in 1888!

They're a pretty cute couple if you ask me. I'd never met Haley before, so this was fun and fulfilling in many ways for me. I was happy to find that she is down to earth, and just a genuinely sweet person. From the little time I saw them together, I think she's just perfect for him. Cory has always been a cutie and sweetheart and it's adorable to see him with someone who suits his personality so well!

 There were some happy tears that day, as Cory and his family were able to go through the temple for the first time with Haley. She just hit her year mark of being a member of the LDS church last week! How special! The Spirit was there in the temple, and we could all feel it. 

 Aren't they just cute and happy?!? They grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi together, being only friends in high school. Then after he got back from his mission, things took a bit of a romantic turn, as you can surmise!

 I had to get a close-up of the dress. It was beautiful! Apparently she ordered it online...that takes some serious guts, if you ask me! It really fit her perfectly, and I loved all the beading and flowy-ness at the bottom.

 We had a luncheon at the Manti House, which was just down the road from the temple. 
We had prime rib (didn't get a picture, sorry) with A.MA.ZING. mashed potatoes, green beans, and a roll. The cake was pretty good too, simple and light. Michael really loved the icing...I'm pretty sure it was DreamWhip. It has a lighter and fluffier consistency than traditional buttercream. Now, I'm a buttercream fan ALL the way because I prefer the sweetness and density, but this wasn't bad and I can see that it would be much easier to spread. Plus, it's hard to get that bright of a white color with a vanilla buttercream. Consensus: Michael likes DreamWhip and I love buttercream. We're perfect in our differences!

And here's a cheesy picture of us under a tree in the shade. Boy is it hot down in Manti! We were hitting close to 100, which is the hottest temp we've seen this summer in Utah. Thank goodness it rarely get's that hot! 

It was awesome to see family and be together in the temple with them. It's wonderful how the temple brings everyone together. What a blessed occasion to see two clean, kind, and IN LOVE people join themselves together for time and all eternity. Makes me just love the gospel and remember how special it is that Michael and I are an eternal family. Yay for love and Summer weddings!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad with Avocado and Parmesan

Our normal eating plan has been altered a bit since we've moved in with Michael's parents. They eat a little differently than we do, seeing as we've been trying to be SUPER healthy lately with less bread and more fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and legumes. Michael's mom asked me if I'd officially like to be the "chef" of the house while we are living with them. I said, "Of course"! They know how much I love to cook, so this is the perfect time to hone my skills and explore new and exciting ingredients (that I might not be able to afford otherwise). ;)
So, this is what we had for dinner tonight at the Black household! It was really nice to eat something light and refreshing after lots of sweets and heavy foods this past week and weekend.

Once again, I must thank REAL SIMPLE for their wonderful inspiration in the way of fast, healthy, and simple meals. Also, I must credit them with these photos. I did not have my camera on me tonight at dinner. But trust me when I say, this is exactly how beautiful it turned out to be in real life. 

I'd recommend this salad for a filling veggie-oriented dinner any night of the week. But you should definitely make it while avocados and corn are still in season. You won't regret the flavor combos of rosemary and lemon, blended with the chicken, avocado, and parmesan! Oh, and one last thing... I'd suggest marinating a few extra breasts of chicken, because you are going to want to grill them up and use them for sandwiches, or as a topping for another type of salad. Basically, they make great leftovers!

Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad with Avocado and Parmesan
(adapted from REAL SIMPLE)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tbs. olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 ears corn, shucked
5 oz. baby spinach (about 5 cups)
1 avocado, cut into bite-size pieces
2 oz. Parmesan, shaved

  1. Heat grill to medium-high. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Transfer half the dressing to a small bowl; set aside. Add the chicken to the remaining dressing and turn to coat.
  2. Rub the corn with the remaining tablespoon of oil and season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Grill the corn and chicken, covered, turning occasionally, until the corn is tender and lightly charred, 4 to 6 minutes, and the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Cut the kernels off the cobs and slice the chicken.
  3. Toss the spinach, chicken, corn, and avocado with the reserved dressing and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
Makes 4 servings

- If you can't find any good ears of corn, I'd suggest using half a package of frozen sweet white corn, boiling it in water, with a little butter, salt, and pepper. 
- We added some green leaf lettuce, red peppers, carrots, and cucumbers to the recipe and it was scrumptious!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Good Life Cookbook

I want this cookbook. Like, seriously, I not only want it, but I NEED it. It is beauty itself. The perfect combo of art and food. The photos are saturated and rich, not overexposed. And I love that the titles and words are made from food items, like flour and bread. It's just wonderful!
This cookbook is the latest from chef Adrian Richardson of La Luna Restaurant. If this cookbook is any indication of the kind of food I would be partaking of if I attended this restaurant, then I know where I'll be visiting if I'm ever in Australia!

I love that the tablecloth on the front cover is continued throughout the cookbook in the bookmark. What a cute little touch of gingham!

Oh my, it's just pretty. I love cookbooks, but if there ever was one to be IN LOVE with, I believe it's this one. Hope you're all having a nice start to the week.

The hubby and I are off to a wedding tomorrow in Manti, I'm sure we'll have pictures from that (of food and family) to share very soon!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Favorite Quick and Simple Lunchtime Salad

It always seems that throughout a move, whether it is big or small, that you just end up eating a lot more junk than usual. You're so busy putting things in boxes, and don't have time to cook, or the tools are already in a box, so you have to order take-out or something. Well, now that we are getting settled in at our new place of residence, I thought something lighter and healthier was in order, even through the errands and other things I'm still busy doing to get our little family situated.

So...when I'm in a hurry and need to get my veggies in for lunch, this is the salad I put together. It's pretty basic and nothing fancy, but it sure hits the spot for me.

Simple Lunchtime Salad
Leafy greens (romaine, green leaf, red leaf, spinach)
Sunflower Seeds
Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette or Poppy Seed Dressing

This isn't so much a recipe, as it is a list of my favorite combo of ingredients for a salad. You are welcome to take or add anything that you like to make it your own. In fact, what is your favorite salad combo? What can't you live without on top of leafy greens? Or what do you absolutely abhor? I'd love to know!

Monday, August 15, 2011


 Over the next two days, Michael and will be officially be moving all our stuff out of our apartment here in Logan (farewell Utah State Aggies) and moving down to his parent's home in Taylorsville! We originally had planned to stay in Logan for the month of September, but decided to save some extra money from rent, utilities, etc. and Randy and Marlene had already said we could move in if needed. They'd actually told us that pretty soon after graduation, suggesting we do it sooner. But we still wanted some more of the summer in Logan and Michael's work was located here, so there was no reason to really move...until now. The company that Michael works for is actually relocating to Salt Lake, and it's perfect timing. We're really blessed that he will also be able to remote in to them while we are in Tallahassee, so there is still work for him to help support our family through our grand adventure down there.

Last night, when we left the Black house after bringing a load down for the weekend, Michael said, "Bye Roomie" to his dad and we all laughed. It's going to be a change to live with someone else while a married couple, but luckily we are incredibly comfortable with Michael's parents and they let us have our own "space" while being around them. Plus, they have plenty of room for us to stay and store the stuff we will be taking down to Florida.

I was worried about living with them at first because my pride didn't want to allow me to "depend" on parents for support EVER in our marriage. But Michael and I talked about it and he reminded me that it's not permanent, it's just a very small stepping stone until we're back in our own place. And he was right, it's not like we're destitute and can't make ends meet without support from family, we're just leaning on them a little right now. This is where I remember the reason we have family. To be there for each other and help in any way we can.

So today, I'm packing the last of our stuff in boxes, doing some cleaning, then we'll move the larger amount of furniture that's not going to Tallahassee to my mother's house tonight. Thankfully she has a two-car garage and only one car, so she's letting us store our unneeded stuff there. That's a relief! On Tuesday, Michael will be off work, and we will be loading everything else up to make the drive down to Taylorsville, most likely to NEVER live in Logan again. Crazy!

But I'm excited. We are ready to move on with life, past the college life and college town phase. Logan is beautiful and magical and special, but it's served its purpose for us. If it were larger and had more job opportunities for either of us, we'd consider moving back, but that's just not a reality. So, we'll make sure to come back and visit, because it really is beautiful and fun in the summertime! It's interesting to dream of what's going to happen after next May, once my internship is over. The basics have all been considered: home, baby, etc. But we've also considered a nice trip to France before we "settle" down in the family way! Personally, I think France sounds wonderful at Christmastime. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, since I'm going to be low on the cooking spectrum for the next few days, I thought I'd throw a little kitchen beauty and inspiration your way. Courtesy of Pinterest, where I find so much beauty and inspiration everyday. Love it. And love this little kitchen banquette, filled with bright colors in fabrics and plates, against the cream painted wood. Such a fun area to eat breakfast each morning, with the sunlight coming in through the window and fresh flowers nearby. Hope your week is starting out well, love ya!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Baguette Vending Machine in Paris

Check this out! Some awesome company has decided to place vending machines throughout Paris that give you freshly baked baguettes for only 1 Euro!!! 

Now I don't know about you, but I think this is pretty genius. Not only are they stocked with partially pre-cooked loaves of bread, that the machine finishes baking upon order, but these are open 24/7.

Talk about satisfying a late-night craving. Or an anytime craving, especially now that the month of August marks the vacation for many restaurants and bakeries in France. So what do you think? Is this something you'd be willing to try?!? I'm pretty sure I'd have to just out of curiosity.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

 This is my all-time favorite breakfast smoothie. It's also my easiest go-to recipe when I want something different than cereal or oatmeal, and something that really fills me. I usually have all these ingredients on hand, because Michael and I love bananas and buy them pretty much every week at the grocery store. I find that drinking this smoothie in the mornings gives me lots of energy to start my day, especially if a nice long run is on the agenda!

Is anybody else a huge fan of peanut butter and banana sandwiches? I know that I can eat one almost everyday if given the chance. Something about the flavor combo in between two toasty slices of wheat bread, just makes me giddy. So when I don't want to overdo my bread intake, I make this smoothie and it's pretty much awesome.

This is so easy to make; I'm sure you will enjoy it. Are there any other smoothies out there that you like to make for breakfast, or just as a treat? I'm always on the lookout for new recipes and inspiration! Oh, and Happy Wednesday!

 Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

1 banana, sliced
2 tbsp. peanut butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
9-10 ice cubes

  1. Layer half of ice cubes with banana slices, then top with other half of ice cubes.
  2. Top with peanut butter and pour milk into blender (more or less depending on how thick you like the consistency of your smoothie to be). 
  3. Blend until combined (you might have to pulse the blender a few times, just to get the ice broken up and things moving around).
  4. Pour into your favorite glass, pop a colorful straw in there, and slurp away!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatball Soup

Who doesn't get intrigued with the name of Spaghetti and Meatball Soup? I know it catches my attention! This recipe was my first attempt at making meat-a-balls, and I have to say that they were A LOT easier than I imagined. And it was seriously fun to just dig my hands in and mix everything around. I felt like a little kid! I think the meatball part of this recipe would be a great and fun way to get kids involved in the kitchen, so long as they're not squeamish with meat. But I can't think of a kid who doesn't love getting their hands dirty in the kitchen. I mean, what kid wouldn't jump at the chance to just dive in and squish their fingers all around in their food with mommy's permission? 
This really is such a yummy soup. Michael and I decided to describe it as hearty, but not heavy. Normally, I'm not a huge soup in the summer kind of gal, just because it's already hot enough outside, and I would rather have something to cool me down from the inside out, but this soup is an exception. The broth-y quality makes it feel lighter and less like a "winter" soup to me. Although, you most surely can make this in the winter, and any time of the year, for that matter.

And these meatballs can easily be used for another recipe, like Spaghetti and Meatballs sans the soup part. Or you can mix them with a little marinara then place on a nice bun with some provolone, for a meatball sub. The possibilities are endless. I'd even consider making a double batch and freezing them for later, and super quick weeknight dinner use.

One thing I really love about this recipe is the addition of carrots. Lots of times I see people make tomato sauces with the addition of sugar, to add a little bit of sweet. But, I've seen Giada deLaurentis and Mario Batali make their red sauces with a bit of grated carrot and go on and on how it is the traditional Italian way to add a little bit of sweet to them. Well, now I can say that I've "sorta" tried it. It's pretty brilliant if you ask me. The soup had just that right touch of sweet along with all the other Italian spices. I think I'm going to have to begin my quest for the perfect red sauce, but only with carrots as a sweetening agent. It sounds like an exciting journey to me!

Enjoy this fun (and colorful) soup!

Spaghetti and Meatball Soup
(adapted from Our Best Bites)

Meatball Ingredients:
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs. grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1/4 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. basil

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands. 
  2. Form into small balls by using a cookie scoop, then finish rounding out with your hands. 
  3. Place on a greased baking sheet and broil in the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until browned.
Soup Ingredients:
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup carrot, diced
4 cups tomatoes, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup spaghetti, dry
1 tbs. Italian seasoning (see meatball seasonings above)
1 tsp. black pepper

  1. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add carrots and tomatoes and cook 2-3 minutes.
  2. Pour chicken broth into pot and bring it up to a boil. Once boiling, add spaghetti and meatballs to soup, along with seasonings. 
  3. Reduce heat and let soup simmer about 10 minutes, or until pasta is cooked to al dente, and carrots are soft. 
  4. Serve with a piece of crusty bread and some freshly grated Parmesan on top!
Makes 4 servings

- For the meatballs, you can also add some ground Italian pork sausage, which would give it more depth of that "Italian" flavor.
- I used fresh tomatoes, but you can substitute a couple cans of diced tomatoes.
- Beef broth can be used in place of the chicken broth, for a richer, more meaty flavor.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Puxa Vuda Tilapia

Yay for finally making this recipe! We were going to make it on a night that we ended up getting invited to dinner at a friend's house, and guess what was on the menu that night at their house?!? Tilapia. But in a different and uniquely yummy way. I'll have to try that particular recipe some other time because today we are focusing on Puxa Vida Tilapia!

Now the terms "puxa vida" are Galician for "life pulls". Where/what is Galicia you ask? I looked it up because I was intrigued. It is an autonomous community in Northwest Spain. The Galician language, as well as Portuguese, descends from the medieval Galician-Portuguese Romance language. Cool huh? Apparently a more colloquial translation of "puxa vida" means, "wow"! Which I can totally understand in this recipe's case. Because it most definitely has wow factor. 

Now the original recipe calls for coconut milk in place of my cow's milk addition, which I'm afraid I did not think ahead to buy, so I'm very curious to try it and taste the difference. I can only imagine how wonderful coconut milk will taste in this dish! Let me just take a moment to talk about the brilliant addition of honey. Never before had I thought to add honey to a fish recipe, but it is AWESOME! The combo of heat from the peppers, and sweet from the honey will knock your socks off. Michael and I are now determined to not let this be the last time we've made Puxa Vida Tilapia. Because I think we might be in love. 

For those of you who are afraid of that "fishy" taste most fish recipes still have even after slatherings of mayo and other creamy toppings, consider this recipe. The tilapia cooks in all that yummy liquid from the veggies and seasonings, and you barely even have the hint of "fishy-ness" when you take a bite. Like Cheeky Kitchen suggested, this could be a great way to introduce fish to picky eaters, young and old alike. Serve it alongside black beans seasoned with cumin, garlic, and oregano and you have a very simple and healthy dinner!

Puxa Vida Tilapia
(adapted from Cheeky Kitchen)

1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion
, diced
1 serrano chili pepper, seeds removed

2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup milk
1 large tomato, diced
1 tbs. honey
3 tbs. lemon juice
2 filets of tilapia

1 tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Finely chop the green bell pepper, onion, serrano chili, and garlic. Drizzle the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the chopped vegetable mixture in the oil until softened, about 2-3 minutes. 
  2. Add the milk, diced tomatoes, and honey to the mixture. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer until it thickens, about 4-5 minutes. Add lemon juice to the sauce and remove from heat.
  3. Place the tilapia in a deep baking dish. Pour the sauce over the fish, making sure it's all well coated. 
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily when pulled with a fork. Garnish with chopped cilantro and parsley. Enjoy!
- You can use any color bell pepper, but I like green for contrast with the redness of the tomatoes.
- I used a serrano chili pepper because that is what I had on hand, but jalapeno would be great in its place, and cut down on the hotness factor.
- As mentioned above, coconut milk would add a nice "coastal" flavor to this, and a whole different level of sweetness!
- You could also substitute lime juice for the lemon juice.

    Thursday, August 04, 2011

    Simple French Crêpes

    I've been meaning to share this recipe for some time, but was a bit embarrassed at my lack of "put together" pictures for it. Well today, I bit the bullet and decided to post it anyway, awesome pictures or not!

    Michael and I are huge fans of crêpes and we make them pretty often in our household. It's only appropriate with my ancestors being French and with Michael serving his mission in France, for us to love and eat crêpes A LOT! The recipe we used to use was from an old mission buddy of his, but the crêpes never turned out quite right. We played with it over and over, but couldn't get the ratios to what we wanted for our crêpes. So, I found a recipe on Stephmodo one day, and decided to try it. Instantly, we knew that we had found our "go-to" recipe for simple French crêpes. We tweaked it a bit by the addition of vanilla, which we feel takes them from great to the best!

    Now you can serve these in whatever way you prefer, but I'll tell you just how we like 'em. For savory, you can't get any better than a simple "jambon et fromage" or ham and cheese. We like to take thin slices of good ham and layer them inside with a nice melty cheese (brie, emmental, and even a sharp cheddar are our favs). Now, there are so many combos for sweet, but we usually stick with the basic "bananes et Nutella", which we all know is perfection. But I can also go for a nice "fraises et crème fouettée" or strawberries and whipped cream. Throw a little powdered sugar on top and you've got an amazing dessert that you won't want to stop EVER.

    Simple French Crêpes
    (adapted from Stephmodo)

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    3 large eggs
    1 pinch salt
    1 tbs. vegetable oil
    2 cups + 1 tbs. milk
    1 tsp. vanilla

    1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, starting with the wet ingredients first. 
    2. Mix until completely blended.
    3. Pour by 1/3 cup into a specialty crêpe pan or non-stick pan to form a very thin layer. 
    4. Cook just until you start to see small bubbles, then flip over in pan and cook opposite side.
    - If you want less sweetness for more savory crêpes, you can omit the vanilla, but they are good for both sweet and savory in my opinion!