Friendsgiving 2018 Menu

Thanksgiving is a traditional meal — gotta have that green bean casserole, amirite?! But Friendsgiving has become a fun new tradition G and I began last year. This year had to be a much more intimate affair due to all those home improvements and limited amount of time to plan, but it was still a great time. We used the time for enjoying more delicious food and even better community.

Talking about food, I wanted to provide some praise for our menu this year in the form of a post. I could go into detail about how to plan your own Friendsgiving or games/activities to play at your own dinner, but I think those topics are too difficult to cover. I mean, you know what works best with your friends’ group and can Pinterest tons of ideas. Instead, I’m going to focus on the dinner table.

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Savory Sundays: Goat Cheese Holiday Truffles

G and I had a great Thanksgiving break. We traveled down to Indy and spent the day with G’s family. Our brother and sister-in-law also came from Iowa with our four-month-old nephew, and we were both in heaven. We absolutely love that little turkey, and any text/Snapchat/minute we’re able to have with him is a treasure. There is quite a bit to be thankful for this year, but little Z is definitely at the top of our list.

Another big blessing this year is our new home. With all our in-progress improvements, we decided to host an intimate Friendsgiving and game night. I love hosting these kinds of parties, but could only handle a small gathering this year with everything else happening. So we asked four of our friends to join us in a night of great food and better fellowship — and our hopes were over-filled! I’ll share our full menu in a future post, but I have to share this new and awesome recipe with you, friends. It is the perfect holiday appetizer, and makes a great breakfast too — trust me, I’m munching on it right now as G and I enjoy our pre-church coffee. Mmmm…

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I Ate Keto For A Month…

In case you haven’t been online lately, the ketogenic (“keto” for short) diet is trending so hard that the CrossFit Army is at war in terms of devoted followers. It is the diet that screams, “Fat isn’t bad for you!” and allows you to not only cook with butter but also indulge in copious amounts of cheese every day. Closely related to the once-famed Atkins diet, the keto diet revolves around eating lots of fat, limited protein, and very little carbs. 

Basically, you aim for macro percentages of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. Exactly how many grams of each depends on your body type and energy needs, but most dieters take in no more than 20 grams of carbs per day, with few leaning upwards to 50 grams if they’re needing the boost for heavy workouts. In a traditional Western diet, 50 to 65 percent of a person’s calories come from carbohydrates so this is a complete shift in how your body runs.

The goal is that your body will enter into ketosis and start to burn fat rather than glucose. Usually, your body gets its fuel from glucose which is found in carbs. When you take out carbs though, your body is like, “What the heck?” It doesn’t know how to run any longer, so it turns to another source of energy: fat. Or, scientifically speaking, ketones.

A diet that allows ungodly amounts of cheese, has tons of delicious-looking recipes, and sports thousands of Facebook groups for community-building? Sign me up! I began on Monday, August 20th and wanted to experience the keto diet for myself. Here is what happened when I committed to the high-fat, low-carb diet for one month.

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Savory Sundays: Blueberry Almond Salad With Feta

August is right around the corner and that means my favorite fresh fruit season is about to strike in Michigan: blueberry season! I have grown up eating pounds and pounds of those delectable little berries, and as I’ve gotten older and “more mature” in my palate, I look for various ways to incorporate my favorite fruit into different recipes.

Today’s Savory Sunday is a simple one. But it is also a top contender on my healthy summer meal plan. Dark green spinach, plump blueberries, sharp red onions, crunchy and salty almonds, and rich feta cheese all mixed together for a happy, healthy meal. This salad is packed with lots of nutrients and antioxidants! Plus my homemade dressing adds just enough tang to make you wanting more once your bowl is gone.

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Savory Sundays: Cilantro Lime Shrimp Scampi

Anyone remember me mentioning all those supplies I bought for mosquito repellent candles in my Lemon Rosemary Chicken recipe? How about my goal to eat less grains in my post with the Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes? Well, here is a dish that makes the most of both! The left over limes from my would-be candles and low-carb zucchini noodles make this recipe healthy and satisfying. Two things I love to pair together!

G was craving some shrimp this week and scampi sounded good to me. However, I wanted to use up some ingredients I already had in the fridge and pantry. I also didn’t want to go full out Cheat Meal mid-week by throwing the buttery shrimpers on top of some noodles. So I improvised and wooh-la! Another meal to find permanent residence in our cook book.

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Savory Sundays: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I am not eating many grains so I am limiting my consumption of breads, pastas, and rices, as well as staying away from white potatoes. That means I am attempting to be as crafty as possible when it comes to carb-infused and starchy foods. Cue the riced cauliflower, zucchini noodles, and sweet potatoes!

This particular recipe caused some hesitation with me. I love buffalo chicken and I love sweet potatoes, but I am not a fan of mixed foods. (I’m that person who cannot have her food touch. I even have a special separating tray at my aunt’s house to use at holiday gatherings. Ha!) So contemplating eating this slow cooker buffalo chicken inside a sweet potato had me debating my life choices.

Then I tried a bite and my world changed.

This recipe is unbelievably tasty. The spiciness from the hot sauce and the sweetness of the potato make for a dynamite flavor! G and I already looking forward to the next time this little dish is made for dinner.

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Savory Sundays: Lemon Rosemary Chicken

The day before our wedding I went to the local grocery store and purchased a bag full of lemons, limes, and fresh rosemary sprigs. My plan was to make my own mosquito repellent candles in canning jars to sit on the guests’ tables during the reception. Not only would this have added some more color to table decor, but also been useful in fighting the hungry little varmints throughout the evening.

Of course, I forgot all these ingredients as soon as I placed them in the fridge drawer.

So this meant I had quite a few fresh produce items to make recipes with once G and I returned from our honeymoon. Thus came this recipe for lemon rosemary chicken which I pulled out of thin air. I warned G prior to eating this meal that we may be ordered take out. I am personally not a big fan of lemon, so I was hesitant to sample this dish. It was a pleasant surprise though! The rosemary was not overwhelming, and the lemon flavors only intensify the other flavors happening in the mix (and the lemon is especially good with the sweet potatoes.) I will definitely be making this again in the future, especially since we still have a healthy amount of citrus and rosemary.

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Savory Sundays: Blackberry Cheesecake Oreo Brownie Bars

Throwing myself back into cooking as soon as we finally had all our luggage unpacked, laundry washed, and wedding gift organization completed meant a fun recipe had to be tested. Thankfully, one of our favorite couples is celebrating each of their birthdays this weekend (a “dirty thirty” yesterday and her husband today.) Plus, G is an Independence Baby with his own “dirty thirty” on the 4th. So the four of us went on a double date to a local restaurant and competed in a few board games last night while enjoying this tasty dessert.

I found the original recipe on Domestically Blissful and opted for a few switches to the recipe to attempt in making it a bit “healthier.” For those of you health-conscious, though, still stay clear — it is definitely not the healthiest option out there! But for those who aren’t afraid to splurge every now and again, this recipe was a HUGE hit among everyone and will be taking a permanent place in my own cook book for future use.

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A Slow Return

I’m here. Physically, but not really mentally. Mentally I am still in beautiful Tennessee, sitting in a rocking chair with G beside me as we look out over the Smokies from our remote cabin. It has been four days since we left our humble honeymoon abode, and I’m still pining after the memories of that perfect cabin and even more perfect vacation with my husband. (Eek! I cannot get enough of saying that word!)

Luckily, work missed me so much that I have had plenty of projects to keep me grounded in Michigan upon my return. Following work I’ve been getting into the swing of your typical duo-working married life at home: chores, dinner, working out, time together, somewhat early bedtime to start it all over again. I’m finally catching my breath after putting away all our wedding gifts and unpacking from the trip in order to send out a little note to the blogosphere.

I’m excited to begin posts again. Next week I’ll be continuing with Savory Sundays as well as beginning Wedding Wednesdays, which will be posts specifically geared towards all things weddings. I’ll catch up on some topics I wasn’t able to capture before June 16th as well as touch on some things I’m starting to realize now that my wedding is complete. Otherwise, Uncorking Peonies is about to begin writing on some new material never before ventured upon by me: newlywed life. Be it a look at how to maneuver this new way of living, budget-friendly do-it-yourself projects, or methods to better my life, I’m looking forward to sharing more Lifestyle posts with you all!

So with all that joining the mess already going on in my brain — those darn mountains are constantly trying to push all other thoughts out — I say cheers to the future and a thank you for continuing to follow me along this journey.

You’re all the best,