Crouch and Redmon Family Christmas 2013

How did I get so blessed to have such a big, fabulous family?! I love Christmas because it means I get to see everyone! The Barrett Family Christmas was a couple days before and on Christmas day I got to see the Crouch family and my immediate family! Woo!

2010 was our last year with Pop Pop but we are carrying on traditions <3

 

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Can’t wait for next Christmas when my niece/nephew jellybean is here!

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Love, love, love my family.

 

Remember we were in Miami last year for Christmas – it was NOT as warm this year!

What Can I Juice?

Guys, I love juicing. For those of you that follow me on Instagram (@happyhippie8d), you know that I got this juicer for Christmas and love it. Like really, really love it. My husband spoils loves me!

christmas juice

beautiful machine

Every time I walk through the grocery store, I ask myself “What can I juice?!”

Here’s what I’ve been juicing:

mangopeeled and preppedgreen juicecarrots are orangemurky and delicious

juice cake

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I love juicing. I put too many juice pictures on Instagram. I love drinking my juice with a glass straw.

Parmesan Spinach Quinoa and Grapefruit Avocado Salad

I made dinner last night using two recipes I found in a coupon book from my local grocery store. Go Giant! I changed the recipes slightly but can’t take credit for the main idea.

dinner 1-6-2014

Parmesan Spinach Quinoa and Pan Seared Mahi Mahi

Quinoa:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water (with 2 vegetable bouillon cubes)
  • TONS of freshly cracked black pepper
  • ~2 tbsp. Mediterranean olive oil blend
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 big handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 shredded Parmesan cheese

To cook the quinoa, combine the quinoa, water, bouillon cubes, and black pepper in a pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover for 15 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the spinach until wilted. Combine the quinoa and veggies and add the lemon juice and cheese.

Mahi:

  • 2 fillets of fresh or frozen (defrosted) Mahi Mahi
  • 2 tbsp. salted butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Lemon

After removing the veggies from the pan (from the quinoa dish), melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium, medium-high heat. Rinse fillets under water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the fish liberally, on both sides, with salt and pepper. Once pan is hot, place fish down in the pan and cover. Don’t touch the fish for 5 minutes – this will ensure a good crust. After 5 minutes, squeeze a lemon over the fish and flip it over. Cook for 5-7 minutes on this side, depending on the doneness of the fish.

The dishes should be served with plenty of fresh lemon and pepper!

quinoa and mahi

To make the grapefruit avocado salad, start with a lettuce base. We used fresh spinach and romaine but you can use whatever you prefer. You will need to use a good chefs knife to cut the grapefruit sections. Place the grapefruit on one end and use the knife to peel the skin and pith (the bitter white stuff). Take your time because it starts to get pretty juicy and slippery. Once you have peeled the grapefruit, hold it in your hand and cut in between the membranes (or sections). This will give you clean, beautiful segments of grapefruit. You can leave the segments whole or cut them into chunks like I did.

Serve with a champagne vinaigrette (Trader Joe’s has a great one) and…you guessed it – plenty of black pepper!

grapefruit avocado salad

We served the meal with a Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages. Here is what they say about this particular wine:

Strong red purple colour. Fresh red fruits on the nose with a hint of dark cherry. Slightly spicy with a touch of grey pepper, liquorice and a touch of rose flower. The whole wine is very well balanced with a nice acidity and the tannins presence on the finish invites food pairing such as with Terrines, Charcuteries, Grilled red meat, white fish, cheese or simply as the sole wine of a meal.

beaujolais

This was the lightest-tasting red wine I’ve ever had. We were so surprised how well it complemented the fish and quinoa that we ended up drinking the whole bottle! Yum! Great meal, great wine.

 

Have you ever tried a Beaujolais? What was the last pleasant surprise you had?

Pike Family Christmas 2013

I can hardly believe that my first Pike Family Christmas (PFC) was in 2008! We didn’t do the dinner last year but this is such a great annual tradition and I hope we keep it up for a long time!

This was little M’s first PFC! Please look at her reindeer dress – too cute!

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S and big brother M!

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T&D

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R&S

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Cuteness overload.

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T&D got us a framed picture of our PFC from 2009 (the last with all 6 of us because big M came 2 months later :)

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Reindeer plates, of course!

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After a few drinks and some presents, big M took the camera. Check out his work:

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Our little photographer! I had to reclaim the camera to document the lovely table and dinner S made:

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Apparently big M chose “Dancer” for me which is pretty awesome!

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S made a special gluten free, vegetarian plate for me! GF Pasta with portabellas and a great sauce that tasted like it had simmered the whole day!

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We’ll end with a picture that only the PF will understand and that’s ok ;)

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We are so thankful to have such great friends! Can’t wait to see where we are next year!

 

Want to take a trip down memory lane? Here are two PFC entries from the past:

A New Name and a Shaggy Dog.

So – I officially changed my name! For those of you that have not gone through this process, I will tell you that it takes a lot of time and patience! I’m still in the process of changing everything over to my new name (and our new address), so things are a little confusing. I’m going by both names while I’m changing things over, so I don’t confuse everyone else! My doctor was happy for me but then said “Oh, now I have to change your folder…I hope we get some new ones soon!”

New name = new license (with a shorter name and shorter hair)!

New license on the left, old license on the right:

new license

So, what else has been going on? I’ve been making pancakes a lot! This recipe is a combination of things I found on the Internet with some tweaks based on how I like my cakes!

It’s super simple… a 6 oz. tub of greek yogurt (any flavor works, I like Chobani Lemon the best), 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 egg, and 3/4 cup almond meal!

almondmeal cakes

I recently purchased cashew meal at Trader Joe’s (they can do no wrong) and substituted it for the almond meal to change up my pancakes. The cashew meal is slightly more fine than the almond meal, so I added just a little more to my recipe and they tasted great! These babies keep you full for a LONG time!

cashew meal

This past Friday (date night!) I made a broiled mahi and spaghetti dish with sautéed carrots and tomatoes! We ate dinner before our date…

broiled mahi

…which was tree decorating at our new house!

xmas tree

Homemade ornament from our apple-themed wedding!

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Shaggy Louis approves!

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On Saturday, I joined my fam for some outlet shopping! Mom insisted on a picture:

fam xmas pic

That night, z and I headed to our friend Gina’s apartment for a holiday party! She is a major foodie and made all the small plates AND desserts! Super cute and YUMMY!

Left: chocolate cake topped with salted caramel frosting and chocolate stars

Right: chocolate tuxedo filled with a vanilla bean pudding/mousse, topped with cherries

(Thank you Tommy for letting me use your phone to take this picture! I just had to capture the magic ;)

Gina dessert

After a trip to the farmer’s market on Sunday, I was inspired to dehydrate some goodies! Sweet potatoes for the pup, and apples for z and I!

dehydrated

We have our Pike Family Christmas dinner on Saturday (can’t wait) and Christmas is next week! The holiday season is flying by! I’m loving all the family, friends and cookies!

I nominate this blog post as one of my most random posts ever! Hooray :)

 

p.s. we’re moving this weekend!!! Finally :)

Cookies and Catching Fire!

This past Sunday was super snowy! A good day for making tons of cookies and seeing a good movie!

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We seriously made a gazillion cookies…

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Sugar cookies and candy canes.

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There was some quality decorating happening at that table!

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Chocolate crinkles, scotcharoos, gingerbread, cookie-dough-oreo-brownies, and this GF recipe I tried. I brought way too many home and have been slowly eating away at them…for breakfast.

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K, K, Me, L, and A!

cookie girls

If you follow me on Instagram (http://instagram.com/happyhippie8d), you know that I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy, for the second time, two weeks ago. Yes, all three books in a week.

hunger gamescatching firemockingjay

So, I was super excited to go see the movie with K&K! As expected, I loved it, but there were a couple big elements that were left out. I know that’s what happens when books are made in to movies and it didn’t really take away from my enjoyment. I love the movies but LOVE LOVE the books!

I’m doing a TON of reading these days.

Currently reading: The Art of Racing in the Rain

Next on the list: The Bookman’s Tale

Christmas Wish: The Divergent trilogy for my Kindle Fire!

 

With all this snow and cookie decorating, it’s starting to feel like Christmas! Though, I’m not sure how it’s only 13 days away…

Date Night: Blind Beer Tasting (IPA Edition)

Two weeks ago, z and I decided to challenge ourselves by creating “Friday Night Date Nights” for under $25. It’s tough to eat out for that amount of money, so we’re typically cooking dinner at home. Last week, z cooked a nice meal and got The Producers on DVD. I had never seen it before (I know, I’m shocked too!) so I was really excited and surprised by his choice.

For this week’s date night, it was my turn to create a date under $25! It has been raining all day, so I knew I wanted to stay in. I didn’t want to copy z’s idea from last week – all though dinner and a movie is always a good way to go! So, to get a little creative, I’m going to make dinner and do a belated “end of Prohibition” blind beer tasting! Prohibition ended 80 years ago, yesterday! Craziness!

We already had some items in the fridge/freezer that would make a good dinner, so all I had to do was supplement what we had.

Dinner: Roasted Cod and Scallions With Spiced Potatoes 

Before it hits the oven…

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Never enough lemon zest! I love my microplane!

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Final product was delicious! I forgot to take a picture before we started eating and made z re-arrange his plate! Ha :)

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A mix-and-match six pack is $9.99, so I knew that would be cutting into our budget. I chose to do six different India Pale Ales (IPAs) since I know z enjoys them and they can really vary between breweries. IPAs tend to be a LOT hoppier (is that a word?) than other beers and often packs a higher alcohol by volume(ABV)-punch. That’s why we only plan to use 4 of the 6 beers which will be like having 2 beers a piece. Plus, we’re staying in and not driving anywhere!

Preview of the six pack:

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From the left:

  1. The Fort Collins Brewery Rocky Mountain IPA ABV=6.2%
  2. Victory HopDevil IPA ABV=6.7%
  3. Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA ABV=6.0%
  4. Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA ABV=5.8%
  5. Red Hook Long Hammer IPA ABV=6.2%
  6. Stone IPA ABV=6.9%

I ended up going with numbers 1, 2, 3, and 6 for our tasting, as the other two are beers we have in our fridge more commonly.

Here is our tasting table:

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(Louis wanted nothing to do with our little tasting event)

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After scoring the beer, I showed z the beer and he tried to arrange them in the order he thought was correct based on his notes. He got 2 out of 4 right.

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The Winner: Stone IPA!

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Dessert on a budget: Dove Dark Chocolate (Did you know that 100% of the cocoa used by Dove is from farms that are Rainforest Alliance Certified™!?)

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Fun night!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post by any of the above breweries or companies.