A Garden Party

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Last month Georgia turned one year old, it is hard to believe that she is walking and trying to talk!  Since we have such a great deck for entertaining, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have a garden party.

Pink floral details were added where ever possible.  The rustic floral topped cake was made by my MIL, and the cake topper is actually just a wooden number one from the craft store that I spray painted and hot glued to a chopstick!

I made a few large paper flowers from this tutorial (minus the stems), and hung them along the pergola.

The pink party hats are some from target that I embellished with silk flowers.

Putting together this party for Georgia was a blast!  Nothing is sweeter in life to me than being a mom, and I treasured every moment this evening celebrating Georgia and all of the joy she has brought to our family this year!

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Living Room Progress

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Please excuse the radio silence. I really don’t have much excuse as to why I have quit blogging save for the fact that I have become a manic wanna-be interior decorator and avid furniture collector.  Matt is just about ready to submit me for hoarders as it gets more and more difficult to actually walk through our garage each week.

We have been in our house over 7 months now, and looking back at the old MLS picture from when we purchased the house, even I can hardly believe it is the same room!

Here was what we started with:

The oak paneling, and brown brick fireplace made the windowless space really dark and heavy.  The grey floor and the wood walls also clashed in the worst of ways and I was convinced we needed new flooring, but honestly after we got everything painted white, the floor was much less offensive! We painted the entire space Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White prior to moving in with a paint sprayer.  Which instantly made the room feel bigger and more contemporary!

We painted the French doors and back of the built in bookcase Benjamin Moore’s Onyx to provide a dramatic contrast, and of course I wanted the room to match Lacy the mutt.  Can you even find her below?  It is like playing Where’s Waldo!

Most of the other stuff in the room is stuff we had in our last house.  The rug and sectional are both ikea.

The pair of antique French cane chairs were a lucky thrift store find that I painstakingly reupholstered myself.  I love the mix of the antique chairs with the more modern elements in the room.

The console table is vintage Pace Collection, and probably my favorite thing in the space.  The artwork is by me and the coral side table is Nate Berkus for Target.

There are still a few tweaks left to do.  We are planning on switching out the mantle and tiling a marble surround similar to this:

Via Bliss at Home

I am also hoping to update the ceiling fan with this light:

Swwooon!  It might take some convincing with the hubs because it is obviously not as practical as a fan would be in these Texas summers, but the fan that is here is not even working!

I have been working hard on the rest of the house too, and will be back to share more progress this week!

Hazelnut and Orange Dark Chocolate Bark

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Hi Y’all!  I am trying really hard to stick to this cleanse (if you can call it that), and I have to say, my willpower is not as great as I thought.  I am really awful at waking up and making myself the breakfast it suggest, actually I have yet to do it, and I am going into week two of the two week cleanse. The oats, barley, and other breakfast foods are stowed away in a deep dark corner of the pantry, where they will probably remain until  I make them into some granola concoction that I can grab and go in the morning.

The one thing on the cleanse that I am sticking to is the dessert part.  It takes A LOT of discipline, but somehow I manage to pull out this chocolate bark night after night, much to the delight of my girls. In honor of Valentine’s week I thought it would be kind to share said chocolate bark recipe because it is awesome and your Valentine would be super impressed to get this as a gift. Plus it is really simple to make, #winning!  It is like an incredibly better version of a  Ferrero Rocher.

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You will need:

  • 10 ounce bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • zest from one mandarin orange
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts toasted and chopped
  • flaky sea salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave in 30 second burst, stirring in between until chocolate is melted, about a minute and a half total.  Stir in 3/4 the chocolate chips and orange zest.  Spread the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet in a thin layer and sprinkle the remaining zest, nuts and a little sea salt on top.  Refrigerate for half and hour before breaking the bark up into smaller pieces.

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Health food at it’s finest!

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Easy Peasy Grilled Caprese

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Grilled Caprese Salad

Is it really January, or have I been secretly teleported to April.  The weather here is telling me the latter.  The trees in the yard are even confused as the early buds are being coerced out almost to full bloom.  I have been lackadaisical about the house work for no excuse other than it is warm and sunny.  The girls doctor has said to make sure that they are getting enough vitamin D after all, and what better way to get it than basking in the warm winter sun.

We have also been firing up the grill in the evening and spending the last few minutes of daylight on our new deck watching the sun set each evening.  One of my new favorite things to grill is this Caprese Salad.  It makes and excellent accompaniment to pretty much any grilled protein, and requires the companionship of a warm and crusty baguette.

I didn’t exactly write down the recipe, but it is easy enough to recreate without one.

You will need:

  • roma tomatoes, cut lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • mozzarella cheese, sliced into thumb sized slices
  • a handful of basil
  • balsamic vinegar

First, slice your tomatoes lengthwise Brush the flesh side with olive oil and toss on the grill.

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Let them start to soften, and then brush the skin side with your olive oil and flip over.

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Continue to let the tomatoes cook until the cheese is melted.  Tranfer the tomatoes to a plate and top with some chopped basil leaves and a quick drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  Serve with warm baguette.

Easy Peasy Grilled Caprese

This would make a superb appetizer too, don’t ya think?!

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A Fresh Start for February: Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse

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I have to come clean to you guys. I have been really crappy to my body the last few months. It has been filled with too much pizza and wine, and not enough sleep and exercise. The once frequent nutrient packed and veggie centric meals are now a very rare occurrence, and Annie’s Mac and Cheese is currently considered health food at our house.

I don’t really know how things took such a shift. I think it is just a combination of triggers. The kids, the move, trying to get a million things done each and ever day (sound familiar?), somehow my health took a nose dive straight to the bottom of the priority list. I am really starting to feel the effects of it too. I am almost always tired, I am not sleeping well, and really irritable.

I have been wanting to try something new and turn it around for awhile now. Even though I know how to prepare a to of clean and delicious dishes, I haven’t had that spark of motivation or creative kick in the rear that I needed to jump start it, until last Thursday. I was somewhere in a Pinterest rabbit hole when I saw this: “Bon Appitite Food Lover’s Cleanse 2015.” Despite doing the Dr Oz 3 day cleanse a couple of years ago and having great result, the idea of a strict juice or smoothie cleanse sounds about like hell in a glass to me now. The thing about the food lover’s cleanse is that you get to eat, and actually chew, your food, which takes some of the fear away for me.

The menu looks really intriguing. It has some veggies that are new to me. So I am starting today. I am hoping that it will bring me back to life a bit.
Did I mention that it includes dessert too?

I will be back to report my results, and hopefully share some yummy new healthy(ish) recipes too!

Have you ever tried a cleanse? Want to do this with me? Get started here here!

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Why Not Roll Your Own Sushi

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One of our favorite meals to make together as a family is sushi rolls. I cook up the rice and cut up all of the seafood and veggies, then we all gather around the table to do the rolling! It is fun to see what new combinations we can come up with.

Rolling your own sushi may look intimidating, but it really couldn’t be easier. All you need is a sushi. After a little practice you will be a pro!

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I found my sushi rolling mat at my local Super H Mart, they have an online store too that you can purchase the mats and wrappers from in case you don’t have an Asian supermarket in you area..Most grocery stores now carry nori sheets for rolling sushi.  That is where I found these 1/2 size sheets.  I really love the smaller size, so much easier to handle!

Once you have your supplies, it is time to make you sushi rice.  Here is my sushi rice recipe:

  • 1 1/2 Cups Calrose Rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar.

Bring the rice an water to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.  Whisk together the vinegar and agave and pour it over the rice. Stir it together and you are ready to roll.

While the rice is cooking I cut up all of my veggies, fish, etc, into strips about the size of the nori wrappers.  A couple of easy make at home sushi rolls:

The Texadelphia Roll:  Smoked Salmon, cream cheese, avocado, and jalapeno (my signature roll)

Spicy California Roll:  crab stick, avocado, cucumber,and siracha mayo

These are just to get you started.  The sky really is the limit here!

When it comes to rolling it up there are two options.  You can do rice on the outside, or put it on the inside.  I do a little of both usually.  Rice on the inside is much easier though.

 

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First you will want to lay a sheet of nori on the bamboo mat.  Get your hands wet (I either work by a sink or keep a big bowl of ice water next to me), this is a very important step because it keeps the very sticky rice off of your hands,  Grab a handful of rice and evenly spread it across the nori sheet.

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Stack up the desired filling on the end nearest to you.  Then take the mat and fold it just past the end of the filling (the avocado in the picture above.  Continue pushing the mat in a rolling motion and you should end up with a nice tight roll.  If the first one isn;t perfect, don’t worry, each one after will be a little better. 😉

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Repeat the process until you have used up all of the rice and or filling.  Get creative!  After the rolls are made, grab a sharp non-serrated knife and wet it.  Slice it all up into little bite sized pieces.

Sushi Night

Learning to use Chopsticks

If you make this be sure to snap a quick pick to share with me on Instagram @jennygarvin

XO-Jenny

The Best Vegan Cheesecake

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Peanut butter chocolate cheesecake

Hi Y’all!  The inevitable finally happened.  My baby, Minda, started Kindergarten.  As we walked to the school on the first day, I had to force myself to put on a brave face and hold back the tears.  On day two when she cried and didn’t want to go inside the school when we arrived, I wanted to scoop her up and tell her it was fine to come home and that she could stay my baby a little longer.  Day four and she was still a little hesitant, but is getting braver everyday.  I miss her so much while she is at school, but I also love hearing her joyfully recount her day each afternoon on the way home.

Mindas first day of kinder

To celebrate this milestone I made my new favorite homemade dessert, Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake via a A House in the Hills. It’s as if a cheesecake and a Reese peanut butter cup met and had a baby.

Peanut butter cup cashew cheesecake

A baby that went all holistic and decided to become a vegan.  If you are like my husband, and insist that this technically cannot be a cheesecake because there is no cheese then go ahead and call it what you want.  I just call it delicious.

Vegan Cheesecake

The recipe is waiting for you here, so check it out, and if you do make it be sure to save me a slice!

XO-Jenny

 

 

 

Peach Pizza with Arugula, Gorgonzola, and Balsamic

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Peach and Arugula Pizza

Hi y’all! I realize that my posts have been few and far between. I hate when people go on about how busy they are because let’s be honest, who isn’t busy! I will say I also believe that we all have time for the things we make time for, and I just haven’t made blogging my priority lately. With little miss Georgia hitting new milestones every day, I would hate to miss a single toothless grin or coo.

The thing is though, I love blogging. I love the journal aspect of it. I can look back on my posts and know what was going on in my life at any given time through what I have written here. It’s my little family history book, and I want to keep that up so that the girls can look at it one day and see the evolution of our family too. I also hope that they may even one day be ambitious enough to cook one of the recipes!

This recipe is one of my favorites! I love pizza of all sorts, just look at the evidence here, here, and here. This one just happens to include one of my summer favorites, peaches. Nothing spells summer like a ripe juicy peach! I especially love them cooked so that the juices begin to caramelize, they are like natures perfect candy. The peaches sweetness plays so nicely with the peppery arugula, tangy blue cheese, and balsamic vinegar here too, It is a simply amazing flavor combo. I always make my own pizza crust, it is really east to throw together if you have a stand mixer, but it you find the whole yeast dough thing a bit intimidating, feel free to use a pre-made crust.  It would also be amazing on a tart pastry similar to this pear tart.

Peach Pizza

For the Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:

  • 2 ½  teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour, plus extra if needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for greasing the bowl
  • ½ teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, combine the yeast, honey, and hot water.  Stir for a couple of seconds to combine and let sit until frothy (about 5 minutes).  Add the olive oil, flour, and salt.  Turn the mixer on to speed 2 and let mix for 2 minutes.  The dough should come together and clean the sides of the bowl, but if it is too wet at this time, slowly add flour until this happens.  Let the mixer knead the dough on speed 2 for 3 more minutes.  Alternatively, if you do not have a stand mixer, follow the instructions above stirring until the dough begins to come together, and then hand knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 7 minutes.  Lightly grease the bowl and a sheet of plastic wrap large enough to cover the bowl.  Return the dough to the bowl and cover with the plastic wrap.  Leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.

For the Peach Pizza:

  • Whole Wheat Dough (above)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 1 peach, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola
  • 1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 handful arugula

Preheat oven to 450°.  Lightly grease a pizza pan or cookie sheet with about a teaspoon of the olive oil.  Roll out your pizza dough to fit your pan or until the dough is stretched thin.  Brush the dough with the tablespoon of olive oil.  Next layer on the cheese, then peach slices, and top it off with the Gorgonzola.  Pop it in the oven to cook for about 10 minutes until it starts to bubble in the middle(keep an eye on it).  While the pizza is cooking, bring the balsamic vinegar to a simmer in a small sauce pan over medium low heat stirring frequently to reduce.  Remove to pizza from the oven, sprinkle around the arugula, and to top it off, drizzle with the reduced balsamic vinegar.

Peach Pizza  with Arugula, Gorgonzola, and Balsamic Drizzle

and as a foot note, I have to include a photo of the sweetest Georgia peach of them all!

Georgia 2 months

XO-Jenny

 

 

 

Linguini with Beets, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

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Beet Pasta

Howdy folks! I have to admit that there are so many vegetables that I have only discovered since getting into cooking. I guess my parents weren’t on a mission to expand my palette by introducing some of the more strongly flavored veggies as a child. I, however, being such a wild and free spirit have ventured to try just about anything I can find in the produce section. Some foods have been added to my dislikes list (parsnips, I’m talking bout you!) while I have totally fallen for others (Arugula, where have you been all my life?). Beets fall into this latter category. I find their earthy flavor simply unbeatable (cheesy pun intended). Goat cheese is also one of my “grown up discoveries” and I love how the tang can liven up a dish.

This recipe involves both beets (greens included) and goat cheese with the comforting familiarity of pasta, a childhood favorite. This dish is incredibly easy to throw together as well. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner to make for your kids in order to expand their palette!

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Linguine with Beets, Goat Cheese and Walnuts-makes 4 servings

  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 bunch of beets with greens, separated and beets diced.
  • 1 lemon, zest removed and juiced
  • 12 oz whole wheat linguine
  • 12 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Heat a large (12+ inch) skillet over medium heat.  Add the walnuts and toast, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.  Set the walnuts aside in a bowl.

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Add the olive oil the the skillet and add the beets.  Cook, stirring occasionally for eight minutes.

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Add the garlic and onion to the pan and continue cooking for 6 minutes, stirring often.

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In the meantime start the pasta and remove the beet greens from the stems and coarsely chop the greens.

Add the greens, lemon zest and juice to the skillet, give it a good stir and reduce heat to low while the pasta finishes up.  Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining.  Add the pasta and 1/2 a cup of the pasta water to the beet mixture and stir until well combined.  Add more of the pasta water if it is too dry.  Plate it up and top with goat cheese and walnuts.

Linguine with Beets and Goat Cheese

So delish!

XO-Jenny

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinco de Minda!

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Hola amigos! If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that Minda turned 5! To celebrate we had a Mexican style fiesta we dubbed “Cinco de Minda.”

I would say that we haven’t always been the type to make a huge deal out of birthdays. With so much attention going toward the baby these days I thought Minda deserved an awesome celebration to remind her how much she is loved.

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I am so grateful that all of her family were able to celebrate this special day with us. It just gives me another reason to love being home in Dallas. I know that Minda had a great day, and I hope five is the best year yet!

XO Jenny