Sharing Positive : Counting my Blessings

Today’s Sharing Positive is about counting my blessings.  Sometimes I think about all the dog hair I clean up, or the dishes I wash or the laundry that there is too be done.  And every now and then, I find myself wishing I didn’t have to do so much stuff.

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Think about it!  A house that doesn’t need to be cleaned, a tidy kitchen and an empty hamper.  How lovely that would be, right?  I could have that.  I could get rid of my dogs.  Never have food to cook or someone to cook it for.  Not have the fortune of a closet full of more clothes than I need.

Then I remember the cleaning is just another part of my very full life.  Full of love, happiness, people and pets that I adore – I am fortunate to have all of these things and therefore I should consider myself blessed that I get to take care of these things.

Today during my run (those, by the way, come few and far between these days!), I looked up to the bright Carolina blue sky and counted my blessings once again.  I was hot but blessed by a beautiful sunny day.  Sometimes I wish my thighs were smaller, but today I was blessed by the strength they carry to push me up hills.  It was a great feeling at the end – to feel so tired and know that I am blessed by the ability to go for a run.

Your blessings may not be the same as mine, but I know that we all have more to be thankful for than we realize.

Count your blessings.

Happy Saturday!

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Sausage, White Beans & Spinach

Vacations are awesome.  Period.  End of story.  We just finished having a full week off and it was amazing.  No emails, no phone calls, no alarms.  We spent the time doing what we wanted to when we wanted!  We also ate LOTS of great food and had LOTS of good craft beer.  Before we left, we had already planned to start the South Beach diet when we returned.  So here we are, end of a vacation, beginning of a diet.  South Beach Diet Day 1.

sausage white bean & spinach

I tried this once before, just before our wedding.  After the first couple of days, it really isn’t that bad.  Except for the weekend – especially when so much of my “entertainment” comes in the form of cooking and trying new recipes!  But the results were well worth the limitations of the first 2 weeks.  This time it was my husband’s idea – so we will be trying new recipes that we both can enjoy and that will keep us on track.

Dinner tonight was one of our usual menu items – sausage cooked with white beans and spinach.  Really easy and really good.   And with lots of protein and fiber (and no carbs or sugar), it fit perfectly with our diet plan.

We used mild Italian Turkey sausages.  They are first browned in the skillet, then sliced and simmered, along with white beans and garlic, in chicken broth.  Since we are using mild sausages, I added a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

sausage white bean collage

After the beans and sausage have simmered awhile and the broth has reduced by at least half, I add in the spinach.  And really pile it on!  It cooks down so much, you have to start with a big handful.  Finish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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What makes this recipe versatile?

Use mild or hot, chicken, turkey or pork sausages.

Add in 1 to 3 cans of beans.  The more you add the further this recipe stretches!  And you can leave out the meat all together to make it vegetarian (use vegetable broth too!).   The more beans you use, the more chicken broth you will need.

Add more or less spinach – you can tweak to what your family likes.

Love pasta?  Stir in cooked pasta at the end – a small size noodle works best.

Here’s the dish!  Sausage, white beans and Spinach

1 pound link sausage

1 can white beans – drained

BIG handful of baby spinach

3 cloves garlic minced

pinch of red pepper flakes

parmesan cheese – freshly grated

salt / freshly ground pepper remember you are flavoring the spinach and beans too!

Brown sausage in skillet, slice and return to pan.  Add in garlic and toss.  Add beans, broth, salt/pepper/red pepper flakes.

Let simmer until broth has reduce and thickened. (5 – 8 mins) Add in a 1/4 c. freshly grated parm cheese.

Top with spinach, put a lid on it, and let the steam wilt the spinach.

Finish with another sprinkle of cheese!

EnJOY!

Emily

Spicy Sweet Bacon Rub

Salty + Sweet = Amazing in my book.  Add a little spicy and I am in heaven.

I love using this rub on thick cut bacon whenever we are feeling a little indulgent.  The bacon is good as-is for breakfast or mixed into sweet baked goods! (We will also be using it on Grilled Chicken salads for dinner this week!)  Oh the possibilities.  When you want something that gives a little extra zing, try this rub!

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Mix together : 1/4 C lt brown sugar, 1/4 tsp ground red pepper, and 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper.  Rub onto raw bacon.  This will cover around a pound of bacon.   Bake at 400 degrees until crispy!   Keep an eye on it.. depending on the type of bacon it could go a little faster – and since there is sugar involved, you don’t want to burn it!

You MUST bake the bacon.  Otherwise you will end up with a mess.  All of the sugar rub would just end up in the grease.  Then you would have a pan full of hot sugar grease. Not what we are going for here.

I find baked bacon to be better.  It is crispier and holds its shape a little better than when fried.  Plus you don’t need to stand over a hot pan spitting grease!

spicy bacon after

Here is it .. hot crispy bacon on top, all the grease to the bottom.  Now, when I don’t use the sugar, I pour the grease into a glass jar and store in the fridge to use for other recipes.  Don’t judge.   : )

Let’s get rubbin’!

Emily

Sharing Positive

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hello Tuesday!  Monday came and went this week and while I usually loath them, this one wasn’t bad!  So much to look forward to this week and next week is vacation! YAY!

I wanted to start my posting this week with some positive energy.  A positive project, if you will.. and you will, I hope!

At work few weeks ago, I was so impressed by someone I work with – her attitude, her helpfulness – that I emailed my HR contact to let her know.   I shared my joy with her about my co-worker.  And how she made my job easier and how much I appreciated her.    I wanted to share this with someone, and while, I could have emailed my co-worker directly, I wanted someone else to know how great I thought she was.    The response to my email “This made my day.”.  Hearing something POSITIVE about someone else actually made her day.

The point  – Sharing Positive Works.

Today’s positive project – share some joy with those around you.  Say something  kind.  Say something positive.

 

EnJOY!

Emily

Caramel Bacon Cupcakes

My husband Loves bacon.  That’s right – capital L Love.    I made these salted caramel, spicy bacon cupcakes for his birthday!

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His birthday this year was right after we got married.  I wanted to make something that would totally surprise him and that I knew he would love.  The Caramel Bacon Cupcakes did both!

First things first, Bacon.  Thick cut is the best, to me, for these because you need something that is going to hold up to being the star of the show .. the bacon toppers.  I rub the slices with a sweet spicy mixture and bake to crispy perfection.

For the base, I used a vanilla cake recipe and added bits of chopped up bacon and a sprinkle of maple flakes.  I usually don’t do homemade cake because I think the real magic is in the icing and details!   (details, details, details!)  

Salted caramel (via The Pioneer Woman) was mixed into a classic vanilla buttercream.  I used a large round tip for these.  Once I started using piping bags and tips, there was no turning back!  So easy!  I don’t know what why you wouldn’t use them.  An easy way to make homemade look professionally done!

They were topped with spicy bacon dipped in the salted caramel!  I love the way the caramel sauce runs down the icing as well.  Final detail, the red & white checkered liners.

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YUM!

Girl with a Lens

Recently, while shopping for a camera, my husband said to me “You need a hobby.”… like playing candy crush and cleaning the kitchen aren’t hobbies.

So we bought a camera – used from my MIL.  I love it!  I have been wanting to learn how to take good pictures.  My first new purchase for it was the 50mm 1.8f lens.  Makes me feel like a pro – actually I’m just a girl with a lens.  Most of what I know about photography I learned from The Pioneer Woman!  My dogs are loving it too, I think.. maybe.

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This is Mack.  He is precious and amazingly sweet.

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This is Daisy.  If you ever wonder who is in charge, she is.

I need to find new models.

Happy Humpday!

Emily

The 7 : Kitchen Registry Ideas

I love making lists.  I think it’s my get it done, mark it off, don’t forget it, stay on top of it personality.  Most of my lists don’t get completed or end up in a pile of papers somewhere.  But, I at least I try.  🙂  Here is my first “list” … a collection of things I love.  The 7 : Kitchen Registry Ideas.  Enjoy!

Registry shopping was such a fun experience.  It was like shopping without the guilt of spending money!  We have such generous family and friends and got a lot of really great gifts.  Here are a few of my favorite gifts for the kitchen.

registry

1.  Crate and Barrel Marin Dinnerware in White.  Love this for everyday and the color mixes and matches with everything!  I didn’t want to be committed to one color pallet or theme.  I wanted something that could be used for all occasions and would allow me to mix in fun serving and seasonal pieces.  I recommend registering for the 4 place setting set as well as additional individual pieces.  This way you give a range of prices.  Some people may want to go in together on a gift (the bigger purchase) while others will want to spend a little less.  Variety is key!

2.  Digital Measuring Cup.  This does standard liquid measurements by volume but also has a digital scale for weight measurements.  It’s a great 2 for 1 item!  Any kitchen gadget that has more than one use is awesome.  I use this a lot for baking but also for portioning other ingredients for cooking (meats, for example).

3.  Digital Oil & Candy Thermometer.  If you are like me and heating up a big pot of oil on the stove scares the crap out of you, then you need this.  I had a non-digital version that I would us but this guy allows you to set the temperature for lots of preset items (for frying or candy making) and beeps when you are at the right temp.  I feel much safer knowing my oil isn’t too hot.  You must still use common sense, but you knew that.

4.  Clark Flatware. Matte finish. Nice heavy weight. Good size.  Perfect for everyday and coordinating with modern kitchens.

5.  Wine Rack.  I love these.  They are inexpensive and look really great when you hang 2 or more together.

6.  Milk Frother.  We. Love. Coffee.  This amazing milk frother was a little indulgent but the great thing about wedding gifts is sometimes you can indulge.  I use skim milk during the week in my coffee and save the heavy 1/2 & 1/2 for the weekends.  The frother takes skim milk and makes it wonderfully warm and frothy.  Makes me feel like I’m cheating just a little : )

7.  Burr Coffee Grinder. This burr grinder stores a lot of beans and grinds at different levels.  It’s great for having freshly ground coffee everyday.  So easy!

What are some of you favorite registry items?