What the Turkey Taught Me (Thanksgiving Lessons)

We laughed, hard.

We ate, a lot.

We enjoyed, everything.

Friends, while I will say Thanksgiving wasn’t the easiest (or cheapest) thing to complete I am so incredibly happy with how it turned out.

Things I learned:

  • Hitting the grocery on the Tuesday before turkey day is the time to go
  • Prepping food (like pies) on Wednesday was a life saver
  • Enjoy the morning, drink the coffee, watch the parade, relax for just a little while
  • Prioritize things that can be completed early, reheated, or things that are okay to be made and left out
  • Little details matter; anything you can get done ahead of time should be (i.e. things like cutting the butter and putting it on the table early enough to not be forgotten but late enough to not melt)
  • No matter how much you attempt to coordinate timing, once the turkey is ready to come out of the oven everything else is bound to be done at exactly the same moment as well.
  • Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. It really is okay to ask your brother-in-law to get the water out of the fridge and fill the cups.
  • Stress is a waste of time.
  • It will all turn out. It won’t be perfect, but it will be your kind of wonderful.

I hope everyone had a glorious Thanksgiving, an insane Black Friday, and a crazy Cyber Monday.

Now, bring on Christmas!

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Cooking:Kroger Style

Please note I am not paid by Birds Eye or Kroger brands, these are my words and my opinions.

Greg and I eat fairly healthy. We love our chips and our desserts but for the most part I’ll almost always choose a salad, and my sweet husband doesn’t complain when we have chicken for the fourth time in a given week. So it is that I’m always looking for healthier options.

To be completely fair if I am going to share with you all the recipes that I make at home, I feel I also need to share with you when (and from where) I find little cheats, shortcuts to healthy eating.

And right now I feel like I have found a diamond in the freaking rough.

While shopping at my neighborhood Kroger I came across a new product from Birds Eye (a company I already love, and just when I thought I couldn’t love them more): VEGETABLE MADE PASTA!!! While I was slightly nervous, Greg was completely doubtful. But even he became a believer! Kroger had all 4 flavors: Original, Marinara, Cheddar and Alfredo. While I have only tried the three latter ones, let me just tell you I’m sure you won’t go wrong with any!

We paired all of these with chicken and then one other side:

  • Chicken with the Marinara pasta, with salad and corn on the cob (wahhh I already miss summer vegetables)
  • Chicken with Cheddar paired with green beans
  • Chicken Alfredo (duh) going perfectly with steamed broccoli

For under $5 and at 2+ servings (if there are even any leftovers because there hasn’t been for us) I couldn’t beat it!

Now before I start getting the comments about this being ‘frozen and not fresh’ or ‘not as healthy because it isn’t homemade’ let me say: I know there are probably healthier ways but I have never made ‘zoodles’ (heck, I have never even made my own regular pasta) and for my life right now, this is much more feasible.

Never mind the fact that I am not a huge pasta eater, so my husband usually is the one missing it, making this the best of both worlds!

Side note, while also shopping there this past weekend I saw they have Cauliflower rice and now Cauliflower mashed potatoes. While I haven’t tried those yet, let me say if they are anything like the pasta it will be a party in your mouth!

If you try it and love it, let me know! If you try it and hate it, tell me another alternative that you do love!

Enjoy, friends!

Nash to the Ville

I was the tourist walking around the entire city attempting to take in every single second of this awesome city on my phone for you guys but it was just not feasible. If you haven’t been to this town do yourself a favor and go. It will be an unforgettable time.

We got to Nashville mid-Thursday evening, immediately checked into our hotel and headed out for the night. I dressed in jeans, gold jewelry, big hair, and red lips; I was ready to hit up the town. We were told we had to try The Taco Co., but they sadly were closed for the night so we ended up at Taco Mamacita and were not at all disappointed. The margaritas were good, the fresh salsa and tacos…my mouth is watering right now. Greg had heard of this free (what we thought would be low-key) concert downtown that we wanted to check out and then head to the bars…. boy were we wrong. We walked into this lawn covered with 5,000 of our closest (and drunkest) friends, listening to unknown artists trying to make it in Nashville. The atmosphere was insane, the smells were disgusting, people touching you was the worst, and yet I am so happy we went. It really felt like we stepped out of our comfort zone and embraced the chaos.

Friday morning we woke up early to go to a breakfast restaurant I had heard about from another blogger that was her ‘must eat.’ We drive up to this little part of the city, filled with boutiques and small restaurants completely untouched by tourists. We were total locals 😉 The reason we went to Biscuit Love? One word: Bonuts…. That’s right. Homemade biscuit donuts; oh.em.gee.

I now understand why this was a must, and trust me, I agree. Also, how stinking cute is that wall? Ignore the people, I had to show you all!

From there we went to Belle Meade which we accidentally snuck into. We were unaware that the path we followed would take us to the back of the mansion, but we might not have hated it…oops. In our defense there was a side house we wanted to go see and no gates or barriers. We were just suddenly on the plantation. Since we were still out of the city we drove to see the iconic Blue Bird.

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If you have heard of the TV show Nashville you are very familiar with this local bar. If you aren’t familiar with it, you might have heard of the country singer, Taylor Swift, otherwise known as my husband’s biggest crush? This was the bar she was ‘found’ in. Because it was a bar and in the middle of the day it was closed but just being outside was incredible. There is a sign above the door that states ‘The best songwriters in the world pass through this door.’ Just knowing artists walk in there every night hoping to sing in front of some of the biggest agents and maybe someday catch their big break.. that was pretty dang cool.

Insert traffic. Driving anywhere close to downtown will add traffic to your day. It doesn’t matter what time, it doesn’t matter what direction, you will be going under the speed limit into the city. We parked and headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum which in and of itself was incredibly neat. Seeing outfits worn by celebrities, Elvis’ car, and Greg even saw one of Taylor’s microphones! Then we decided to walk… in the heat, in a town we didn’t know, to the next restaurant I had heard about, Hattie B’s. We turned the corner at 12:05 and the line was already around the corner. So after walking over a mile, we stood in line, in the sun/heat for over an hour for this chicken. And oh man, I would do it all over again. This place is a super tiny, hole-in-the-wall joint with amazing hot chicken. Trust me, Nashville knows it’s comfort food.

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I was hoping to go down to the famers market and go to Jeni’s Ice Cream but we ran out of time, besides after a day of walking around town, we were both in desperate need of a shower. As I mentioned before, we came to town for Greg to be in a wedding and this was the rehearsal dinner night. All day Saturday was filled with him doing the groomsman things and me just hanging out around the hotel/pool.

Before leaving Sunday my best friend (who would live in this city if she could) told me there was one more thing I just had to do….Grand Ole Opry. We took a backstage tour, which I would for sure recommend. You see a totally different side of this miracle place that you wouldn’t be able to see during a show. Besides at the end you go on stage and stand on ‘the wood circle’ which is such an iconic piece of wood originally from the old Grand Ole Opry location, restored after the flood and still refurbished for all singers to stand on.

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The air in this space is different; it is special. Hard to convey but you know you are in the same location as incredible people… you can just feel something different being there. It is almost unbelievable.

We walked, we ate, we stood in the same place as many famous people; we loved this town! Can not wait to go back!

Cooking: Reese’s

Sometimes when I am in desperate need of a Reese’s Cup and I don’t have any at home, I make my own. Scoop some peanut butter right of out the container, eat a bit, tilt my head back and drop in chocolate chips. I am so disgusting, I know. It isn’t my fault though, I grew up seeing my dad eat peanut butter by the spoonful. So I guess you could say this is in my blood, right? Yeah, let’s go with that.

In the pursuit of ‘healthier eating,’ however, I have found a new recipe to fulfill my cravings while also not slowly killing me.  And now, may I introduce you to the healthier version of the delicious Hershey snack.

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Simply made of dark chocolate chips (I also made a batch with milk chocolate chips for a cheaper route. Verdict? Just as tasty/a little less healthy), natural peanut butter, and coconut milk. That’s right, only 3 ingredients and with a baking time less than 20 minutes (mostly in the freezer) it really doesn’t get much better than this!

As always, you can find this recipe in its entirety on my Pinterest page.

To all my peanut butter loving readers, enjoy! 😉

Cooking: Redemption

After my last breakfast mistake (which you can read about here) I HAD to redeem myself. I kept shying away and trying new dinner recipes but that simply wasn’t enough. I needed to conquer breakfast.

So I dusted off my ego and attempted a healthier version of banana bread. And…while I won’t say I perfected it, I have to admit it might have been the best banana bread I’ve ever eaten.  Never mind the fact that I paired it with the smallest (and cutest) green grape I’ve ever seen. Seriously, this could be should be in a baking magazine, am I right?!

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Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. You can find the recipe here. While you’re at it check out my new Pinterest page! I’ve realized I pin WAY too many sweets for just a ‘food’ board so I started a new one: Sweet Sweets. I’m also DYING to update my look so I’ve gone pin crazy on my style board.

If you try it and love it, let me know! If you try it and hate it, don’t throw it out, I’ll take it. 😉

Cooking: Breakfast Mistake

I don’t love breakfast, and I never really have. If I’m being honest, anything other than coffee hurts my stomach, so if I ever skip a meal, it’s breakfast. And yes, I’m ignoring all of you judging me. It’s bad to skip breakfast…the most important meal of the day…blah blah blah.

Whatever.

BUT, last week I thought I would do something fun and different for Greg and me, and I chose to make banana pancakes. Not ‘normal’ banana pancakes, either; I made gluten-free, low-calorie, flourless, nothing-delicious banana pancakes.

I made pancakes out of eggs, bananas and cinnamon……. I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea but really I didn’t have any other of the ingredients to make the real thing so I improvised.

Mistake.

I gagged my way through 2 bites and couldn’t handle anymore. My sweet, sweet, husband ate 3 of the super flat, horribly-textured things (not sure I can call them pancakes) on our plate. We threw the rest of the batter away.

I tried.

I failed.

Onto the next idea, I guess.

Snack Attack

Have you ever stood in front of your pantry, eating a snack while trying to figure out what you’re going to make for dinner? Have you ever snacked because you were stressed or sad or happy or excited or nervous? Have you ever found yourself snacking late at night, just because you didn’t want to go to bed?

I have.

Hi, my name is Kelsie and I am a snack addict; but I’d rather not change.

If you had asked me a year ago if I was a snacker I would have said no. I honestly didn’t think that I snacked. At least not often. Greg has helped me see the truth: I am the living definition of a snacker. I can eat as many healthy meals as I want but I will gain weight because of my snacking. Instead of trying to do the impossible and stop snacking, I’ve decided to snack healthier. This is what I’ve found thus far:

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  • Boom Chicka Pop vs Skinny pop; I haven’t picked a side in this argument. To be frank I usually go with the Skinny Pop but they didn’t have white cheddar, and Boom did, so I went with Boom. Either way you can’t go wrong.
  • I’ve always liked snacking on cashews and almonds but then I found yogurt-covered and now my world has changed. I have to stop myself from eating the whole bag.
  • Banana chips. Bananas are one of my favorite foods but I can only eat a half at a time. So I buy them and they go bad, every single time. Banana chips are the perfect mix for me. Longer shelf-life and I still get the banana flavor I crave.

On a side note, my mother-in-law, for Christmas, made us chocolate chip cookies, but instead of vanilla flavoring she put banana flavoring (because that’s a thing) and it might  be my new favorite thing.

 Tell me I’m not alone and you love to snack, too! We’re all in this together, right?

Right!?!