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Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Parties and Middle Eastern Delights

This past week was a tough one! Both Kyle and I had pretty hard work weeks. When we know that the week ahead looks demanding, I try to meal plan even more, so that I know we have at least some healthy meals planned and ready for us - one less decision to make the better! So I searched pinterest (pictures are the best!), my favorite food blogs,  and whole foods recipes and found some pretty easy and healthy meals.

Definitely the hit of the week and the most flavorful, was this Middle Eastern Grilled Vegetable and Lentil Bowl. I saw this on pinterest and immediately was intrigued. Even since we went to Greece, Kyle and I love yogurt based dressings, flat bread and grilled veggies. Since this recipe had all of them and looked pretty easy to whip together, we tried it out this past Friday. It was so good! Each part of the recipe adds depth and flavor to the entire dish so I would not recommend skipping any part. I loved that this was also a team effort, and Kyle was able to grill all the veggies while I prepped the rest. My favorite part was the roasted chickpeas and the tahini-yogurt sauce!

So delicious!

We also hosted out first party on Sunday (Sunday funday!) and had our Chucktown friends over. I made two batches of the pumpkin-black bean chili and served it with some fresh italian bread. Guests brought some appetizer dishes and desserts. We had such a fun time having people at our home, playing games in our yard, feeding our turtles in the lake, and just overall having a good time with friends. It feels few and far between that we get to do this right now, but we both said we really enjoyed hosting and everyone was great! We ended the evening with some Cards Against Humanity, which is always a good time!

One of the non R-rated responses.

We didn't get to any pumpkin carving, so we decided to get together this week to finish that up before Halloween! I'm super excited to have a house were kiddos will come and trick or treat at! (Oh and just a side note- it's October 27th and 85 degrees here...where do we live?!?)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Black Bean Pumpkin Chili + Fall Things!

Well "fall" down South is certainly different than back up North. I'm loving the absolutely gorgeous weather here - 75 and sunny almost every day! We are starting to have some chillier mornings and crisper evenings, but it is still very different than the fall we are used to. I mean, we were sitting on the beach in our bathing suits and swimming in the ocean just last weekend. Craziness. I have been missing going to an apple orchid or pumpkin patch but the trade off is pretty good. It's been the absolute best running weather too - which I haven't been able to say for months - so my mileage has naturally increased. :) I'm looking forward to training for our half marathon coming up in a few months. And I just bought these new shoes to get the training started right:

Nike Air Pegasus - Love them so far!

I'm feeling so content and happy this weekend - probably because I actually had some time off to enjoy our home, Tuck, Charleston, etc. This weekend was such an important reminder to me to take my few and far in between days off to rejuvenate myself, with whatever that feels like that day. Whether it's a run, yoga, sleeping in, a simple face mask, bubble bath, or taking time to cook an extra special dinner, I need to continue to do some things for myself during this crazy resident lifestyle for the sake of my sanity and those around me. I've felt like I've been doing a pretty good job with balancing but I've certainly had my days here and there. So on my days off, this has been my motto:

Kyle and I took some time for ourselves Friday and had a date night! We had a nice little al fresco dinner of fall pizza, with a beet and pistachio salad at one of our favorite little pizza places. We also went the movies (gasp, no red box??). I can't even remember the last movie we saw in theaters, so it's clearly been a while. We gave into the craze and went to see Gone Girl. I read the book last year, and Kyle read probably the first 1/4 recently. I loved the writing style of the book and the way it went back and fort between the present time and the wife's diary entries. The movie didn't disappoint and was pretty similar to the book - it definitely kept you guessing!

Besides having a date night, I was lucky enough this weekend to have the hubby cook almost every meal. Today felt a little more fall-ish than others so we decided to make chili for the Giants game this afternoon. Now chili down in Charleston is also VERY different than my idea of chili. I made the mistake of ordering a cup of chili at a smoke house one time and literally was brought out a cup of meat (and tons of meaty oil). My idea of chili is one that is filled with beans, veggies, and most of the time some type of meat- but that is not the main focus. One recipe we continue to go back to time and time again is the Black Bean Pumpkin Chili recipe we found from MyRecipe.com


Here is the simple version written by my Mom - Enjoy!!

Black Bean 'N' Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans (15oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound ground turkey
1 can (15oz) pumpkin
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp chili powder
1.5 tsp dried oregano
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

In large skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil, add yellow pepper and cook till tender. Add groung turkey and cook till browned. At this stage you can add this to the slow cooked, stir in the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated thoroughly. Serve it with shredded cheese and your favorite bread!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Magic in the Water

Yea, I just used a movie reference from the 90's.  The one about the sea creature that lives in a lake and eats the Oreo cream out of the cookies the kids leave on the dock?

Anyways, one of my childhood favorites and the title was very fitting for the contents of this post as well!

So after we found out some of the sea turtles we met would be released back into the wild, we knew we had somehow attend. One of my bucket list goals is to witness a sea turtle nest hatching and making their way into ocean - which is incredibly hard to do considering they usually hatch in the middle of night. At least watching an adult sea turtle make their way back to their natural environment is a close second.

Lucky for us, the sea turtle release was happening at the beach closest to our house! I've heard it can be incredibly crowded, so advise is to get there pretty early. I had off of work but unfortunately Kyle did not (we will make it to another one, I promise!). The weather was not the nicest, which I think helped to keep the crowds low. I was able to get a front row seat, which I gladly accepted! It was such a special event to be a part of, and I really felt a sense of community and especially a community who also cares about their home and environment and the special things that occur there.




They rope off the area the turtles will crawl on and everyone arrives and brings blankets to sit on while we wait for the turtles to arrive. Lots of kids had signs they made for the turtles, which was the cutest thing ever.  The turtles arrive by van from the aquarium just in time for their departure, makes sense to not have them sitting around in the car. The workers carry them out and then lay them on the sand as the crowd cheers and smiles when the turtles being their march to the ocean. Their actual walk/flopping back into the ocean does not take that long, but seeing the turtles move in a natural setting and enter the ocean, even if it is for only a few minutes, is a really cool thing.

Two of the turtles released were Loggerheads, and weighed between 90-120l bs! You usually do not think of sea turtles as being THAT big, but a lot of the Loggerheads grow to that size. Another kind of sea turtle actually gets even bigger than that - but they are not native to the East Coast or this area.
                            

They also released a smaller turtle, that looked like a baby, but was just an adult of the Kemp's Ridley. Kyle and I had seen her at the hospital and remembered her well!
Blu ! The Kemp's Ridley

It was a happy moment to see all of the turtles back to being healthy after being sick for so long. I'm so happy things like this exist in the world and there are many others who love sea turtles just as much as I do. :)