Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Simple Substitutions

Two weeks after Christmas I'll be headed to Key West for a long weekend on the beach with my girlfriends.  I am so excited about having some time in the sun, but quite concerned about what my post-Christmas figure is going to look like in a bathing suit.

I'm trying to stay as healthy as I can during the weeks, and also make wise choices at all of the holiday parties this season.  Easier said than done, but I am making a conscious effort.

When it came time for menu planning for the shower that we hosted this weekend, my mom and I picked two recipes that could be made a little bit healthier.  Both recipes called for a lot of mayo (like all good recipes do) and we decided to half the amount of mayonnaise in each recipe for Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt.

The first recipe that we made was a Cheesy Hearts of Palm Dip.  {see original recipe here}  The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of mayonnaise and 1/4 cup of sour cream, but we cut down the mayo to 1/2 cup, and then added a 1/2 cup of yogurt.  I've had the recipe the original way so many times, and could not tell a difference with the yogurt added.  Substituting the Greek yogurt for the sour cream and part of the mayonnaise saved 450 calories and 60 grams of fat, and doubled the amount of protein in the dip.  Pretty crazy when you can't even taste a difference.  Here's the recipe for the healthier version:

Cheesy Hearts of Palm Dip 

1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, drained well and chopped finely
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons minced green onions
Paprika for dusting top

      Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a pie plate or baking dish with non-stick spray. Combine hearts of palm, mozzarella, mayo, Parmesan, yogurt, and  2 Tbsp green onions. Spoon into prepared dish and sprinkle with paprika. (May be made several hours ahead to this point and refrigerated, covered.) Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly, top with remaining green onions. Serve with crackers.

The second recipe that we tried the Chobani Greek Yogurt in was a lemon garlic aoili.  I've been making this Sweet Potato Squares recipe for years, and never thought about subbing out some of the mayonnaise for a healthier option. Substituting half of the mayonnaise for yogurt in this recipe reduced the fat and calories by 50% and increased the protein from 0 grams to 11 grams.  Here's the recipe for the healthier version: 

Sweet Potato Squares: 

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 32 (1-inch) cubes 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 pound spicy smoked sausage, cut into 32 (1/2-inch) pieces 
32 wooden picks 

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Place sweet potato cubes on a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Drizzle potatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil, and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Toss to coat.
2. Bake at 450° for 15 to 20 minutes, turning cubes twice.
3. Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Drain on paper towels.
4. Place 1 sausage slice on top of 1 sweet potato cube; secure with a wooden pick. Repeat with remaining sausage slices and potato cubes. Serve with Lemon-Garlic Aioli.

Lemon Garlic Aioli: 

1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1/2 cup Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic 
1 teaspoon lemon zest 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1/2 teaspoon pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 

Stir together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 7 days.

It's amazing how just making one simple substitution can change the nutritional value of a recipe.  Once I did the math, I was shocked at how many calories and fat grams you save by just taking out a little bit of the mayonnaise and sour cream.  I'm now intrigued at what other recipes can be made healthier with just a few simple smart substitutions.  You can find other recipes using Chobani yogurt here

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Bridal Shower

This weekend I got together with two of my best friends and our moms to host a shower for our friend Kate. Kate is getting married in February, so we decided to host a shower for her around the holidays.  I never thought about it before, but hosting a shower around Christmas is so much fun.  The house was already decorated for Christmas, there's no question about what kind of music to play, and there was a perfect spot to place her gifts- under the tree, of course. 

We had a hot chocolate bar and a mimosa bar.  For simplicity, we used a Keurig and had K-cups available with different coffees and hot chocolates. People could choose which one they wanted, and pop it into the Keurig. 

As favors, I made these coffee cup sleeves, which turned out so cute. {I found the idea here}

And we also had lots of yummy food, both sweet and savory. 

 We all had such a great time celebrating Kate, and I cannot wait for her wedding in February!

 ...And just for fun here's a picture of us that I found from Christmas of 2005.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Five On Friday

Happy Friday!  Today I'm joining  April, Darci, Natasha, and Christina for the Five on Friday linkup.

1. Last night's Christmas party- Last night T and I attended our annual dinner and white elephant swap with friends.  Every year we see some hilarious gifts, and there's always an underlying competition to give the most hilarious gift.  Our guidelines were this: something around $10 that is funny but still useful. Instead of following the typical white elephant rules, we followed this poem which made it even more fun. 

T gave this  Brewzkey Bottle Opener and threw in a couple of old koozies from our collection and a Smirnoff Ice.  It's still a running joke in our group to "ice" each other, so the recipient of the gift had to chug the 20z oz warm sugary drink that night. I purchased this SEX Every Day in Every Way Calendar. It was hilarious to see people uncomfortably pass the calendar around when they were forced to trade someone for it. 

2. Eric Church concert- Tonight we're going to the Eric Church concert at our local concert venue.  T and I usually aren't huge concert goers, but I'm so excited to see Eric Church live.  I have a feeling it's going to be a great show.  And I think I may need to break the cowboy boots out for the first time this year.

3. Homemade breadcrumbs-  Before we left for Thanksgiving, we had half a loaf of bread that was going to go unused.  I threw the bread in the freezer before we headed out of town, so it wouldn't go to waste.  This week I made homemade Italian breadcrumbs from the bread and used it for our favorite Eggplant Parmesan recipe.   I usually make this recipe with store bought breadcrumbs, but using the homemade ones took it to another level. 

4. White jeans in the winter- I just love this look, so much so that I've even got my white jeans on today.  These are usually a staple in the summertime for me, and I just hate to give them up when the chilly weather comes along.  I think the look is so chic, and they look great with a chunky sweater.


5. My Etsy Shop Is Live!  Yes, there are only 4 items on there currently, but I will be adding more throughout the next week.  I've had so much fun getting back into jewelry making.  I was really into it while I was in high school and college, but completely gave it up a few years ago.  I pulled all of my materials and tools out earlier this week, and I've had the best time making necklaces.  If you're interested in any of the pieces I have on my shop currently, or if you'd like me to make you a custom piece, please reach out to me!  I'll be giving all of my readers a discount for the next month.  Just enter REEDY at checkout to get a 15% discount on your purchase.  Find my shop {here}.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2014 Christmas Wish List

2014 Christmas Wish List

1 /2/3/4/5/6 /7

I cannot believe how close we are to Christmas.  This year I got a head start and completed a lot of my shopping in the fall, yet I still feel like I have so much shopping to do.  I've gotten all of the big gifts out of the way, but I still have tons of stocking gifts to buy.  My family really gets into stockings every year.  So into it that my aunt custom made 3-foot-long stockings for each of us.  They're ridiculously over-sized, and somehow they're still over flowing with gifts each year.

In addition to my stocking gifts, here are a few other things I'd love to see under the tree this year.

Tory Burch Bag- Every year I feel like my Christmas list gets shorter and more practical.  Okay, yes, the Tory bag is not practical, but I actually found it on consignment for $170, and it's brand new.  

Eyefi Mobi 8GB Wi-Fi Memory Card - Have you seen these Wi-Fi enabled memory cards?  You can download an app on your phone, and immediately get photos from your DSLR onto your phone for social sharing.  I, and my Instagram account, need this.

Tiger Print- This print is from Megan Carn, a local artist. I love the bright colors that Megan uses in her pieces, and this tiger would look great on the gallery wall I've been wanting to put together in our den.  I fell in love with the original oil version, but the price was just too steep for me.  When I saw that she came out with a $35 print, I was sold.

Swarovski Annual Edition 2014 Crystal Snowflake Ornament - I've been trying to start a Swarovski ornament collection, and this year will be my third ornament to add to my set.  My sister April has been collecting these for years, so in true little sister fashion I had to copy her.  If you haven't seen her collection, hop over to her blog and check it out, it's beautiful!

Classic Wood Folding Chess Set - The chess board is the wild card on my list.  T and I were talking recently and we really want to have a game that we can play together.  We spend too many of our nights in front of the TV not even talking to one another.  We really want to have another activity that the two of us can do together, and we're hoping chess can be that.  I love the idea that it will work our brains at the same time, and it's nice that you can stop playing a game in the middle, and pick it up at another time.  Both of us are on the same skill level right now, which is none, so we'll be learning together.

L.L. Bean Sheets- I love the pattern of these L.L. Bean sheets, and their flannel sheet sets are some of the best.  If you've never slept on flannel sheets, you must try it.  I've never gotten a better night's sleep. 

Waterford Crystal Lismore Goblet-I registered for these for our wedding, and to date we've only received two.  I'd love to have at least a set of 6 so that we can use them when we have friends and family over.  We didn't register for fine china, so I'd really like to have a complete set of crystal glasses.

I'd love to see what's on your list for this year.  Leave a link to your post below!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Our Niece, Caroline!

A few weeks ago my sister-in-law Angela and her husband Trey invited us over for their gender reveal.  T and I were so excited to have another niece or nephew on the way, and I was chomping at the bit to find out the gender. 

She had cupcakes made for each of us to bite into, and the insides were.... PINK!  We are so happy to have another niece on the way. I can't wait to spoil that little girl with love and gifts, because that's what aunts and uncles do best.   Caroline Summer, we cannot wait to meet you!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend Recap

This was my last weekend at home until 2015, so T and I made an effort to pack as much into it as we could.  On Friday night we had a date night at our favorite sushi place Sushi Murasaki.  It's been a while since just the two of us went on a date, so we thoroughly enjoyed every bit of our evening together.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday and hit up the Indie Craft Parade Holiday Fair and the Orvis grand opening downtown. I got some great Christmas gifts from the Indie Craft Parade that I'm super excited about.  I'm trying to get as many of my gifts this year from local shops and artists, and the Indie Craft Parade was a perfect place to rack up.  On the way home we swung by Home Depot and picked up our Christmas tree.  I love the idea of going to a farm to pick out our tree, but you just can't beat the prices at Home Depot.  $40 bucks later we were headed home with our 7' tree strapped to the car.

The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent listening to Christmas music and putting up decorations.  Saturday night we went to Mac's Speed Shop with some friends to watch football and eat dinner. We headed home around 9:00 because we had an early morning planned for the next day.

On Sunday, we were up at 4:30 am and out the door by 4:50 headed to Pretty Place to watch the sunrise with friends.  Our group of friends does this annually, but this was my first time getting to join them.  Although Pretty Place is in Greenville County, it's still over an hour away, and up a very, very windy road.  Something about an early morning and winding roads through the dark did not sit well with a lot of us, but once we got our feet back on solid ground we were good to go.

When we arrived it was still dark, so we headed down to the chapel and snuggled in our blankets.  When we left Greenville, it was 49 degrees outside, but up in the mountains it was around 34 with tons of wind.  I was expecting it to be chilly outside, but we were FREEZING.  Once the sun started to come up we completely forgot about how cold we were.  We picked a perfect day, the skies were clear and the sun was beautiful rising over the city of Greenville. You just can't beat that view.

What a great way to end our weekend!

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