Warm Kale Salad {with candied pecans, grilled pears, craisins & goat cheese}

I know, I know- this salad does sound amazing, doesn’t it?! The first time I made it was last year for Mother’s Day, per my mom’s request. She had gotten one at Mill 67 when they first opened and instantly fell in love with it, so my goal was to try and re-create it. The result? A pretty decent first shot at replicating her beloved salad. I just recently decided to make it for book club and I think I may have nailed the recipe, which is why I’m sharing it with you today!

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The thing i love about this salad is it’s relatively easy to make since you don’t have to chop up a million veggies. Is it just me or are salads super annoying to make because of that?! I actually hate making salads for myself, but since this was such a different salad than the norm, it made the process fun! Imagine that šŸ˜‰ I wouldn’t say it’s the healthiest salad based on the fact I added candied pecans and craisins, both of which are pretty sugary, BUT in small doses and for special occasions (such as a brunch!), it’s totally worth it. Some day maybe I’ll make my own candied nuts… I digress.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of organic kale, rinsed and de-stemmed
  • 1/2 of a pear, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup candied pecans
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 2-4 tbsp EVOO (but, let’s be honest, I never measure this because too much EVOO is not generally a bad thing!)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

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Weekending {Extended Version}: Feeling Thankful

There were a lot of really wonderful things in my life last week and throughout the weekend. I came back to MA on Saturday feeling incredibly thankful for my family, friends, boyfriend and some extra time off.

Wednesday morning I was thankful for being able to head to Maine to work from there for a half day of work and beat the traffic and the snow.

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I was thankful for being able to decline lunch/errand plans with my mom and sister in favor of napping, blogging and getting a start on cocktail hour.

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I was thankful for being able to be surrounded by my family, all 4 of us, for the first time in months! We laughed and ate and drank and it was wonderful.

Thursday morning I felt thankful that my weird headache was gone and had apparently just turned into a little head cold. I was thankful for a relaxing morning in the kitchen with my family & for my sister agreeing to video me for some blog things.

I was thankful for the factĀ I was able to get my sweat on and feel strong throughout the short, but tough workout.

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I was thankful for snow! And for the fact I was in Maine where 12 inches of snow is much more bearable than it is in Boston.

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I was thankful for bubbly, because it makes everything better šŸ˜‰

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I was thankful for this beautiful spread of food, none of which I prepared (whoops!).

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I was thankful for being able to sit and watch a movie with my sister.

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I was thankful for being able to go to our friend’s house for games, wine, dessert and laughs. These girls have been in our lives forever and I love them so much! And little Zeke, who is on the MOVE! He even knows how to take a selfie šŸ˜‰

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Friday morning, I woke up thankful to still be in Maine. I was thankful that my sister wanted to go to the gym with me and I’m thankful that I was able to have a great workout.

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I was thankful for going out to lunch in Kennebunkport with my parents and my sister.

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And on Friday night, I was thankful to be home for another night with my family.

Saturday morning, I was thankful for a quick drive back to Massachusetts and an awesome class at Exhale Spa with my sister and friend Amanda.

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I was thankful for a delicious (and I mean delicious) brunch post-class at Ward 8, consisting of a veggie grilled cheese and lots of bubbly.

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Saturday afternoon/evening, I was thankful for finally getting to see RM! We watched some soccer and decided to stay local for dinner. We saddled up at the bar, enjoyed some drinks, wings & pizza (going out with a bang this week) and were home and in bed nice and early.

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling thankful for not having to rush out of bed, for being able to have a relaxing morning and for having a largely open day ahead. I was thankful for being able to get a Christmas tree with RM- ’tis the season!
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Yes, he is entirely making fun of me.

Sunday night, I was thankful for being able to relax while RM cooked us dinner. On the menu was paleo style sweet and spicey wings, homemade sausage & a fresh salad. I also made some paleo pumpkin banana nut muffins that we’ve been obsessed with lately. It was such a nice, relaxing night- it felt like a Saturday!

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Sunday night was the perfect way to cap off a little extended break. I had been feeling very stressed and overwhelmed prior to the break, but I now feel rest and rejuvenated and ready for the holiday season!

Questions for you: Where did you spend thanksgiving? Did you have a big crowd at dinner? Have you ever been to Kennebunkport? Do you like barre classes? How do you gear up for the week ahead?

How to host a low-stress party or get-together

Over the weekend, I hosted a Mother’s Day brunch for my family. Rather than going up to Maine again, I thought it would be fun to have them come down here and let me (and my sister- she was a big help!) do the brunch get-together. My parents are notorious for bringing down ample amounts of food, drinks (ie: wine) and presents and even though I told them not to do that this time, what did they do? Bring down lots of food and drinks and presents. They are too good to us!

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Since the brunch was super easy to put together, I thought I’d share what I did in hopes it might help you host your next get-together stress free!

Plan out your menu in advance

In addition to planning out the menu, write down what ingredients each dish requires so you can be prepared to shop for what you need.

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Shop in advance

I never like to leave my food shopping trip for the day of or even the night before because I’m always afraid they won’t have what I need, especially if it’s something that the stores tend to run light on (kale, for instance). It’s also less stressful shopping in advance because you know that even if you don’t get everything in that one trip, you have plenty of time to go to another store to get what you need.

Prep what you can in advance

There are lots of “prep” things that need to get done when hosting a get-together, but the great thing is that not everything needs to be done the day of. I made my muffins the day before because I knew they would keep fine for the next day. I also cut up all the veggies and fruit early in the morning so that I was ready to put everything together when my parents got here.

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Keep it simple

It may sound like a great idea to put together a fancy dish or meal that you’ve seen on Pinterest or fromĀ Martha Stewart, but trust me- it’s always going to be more work than you think it will be. I wanted to do a crepe bar, but decided to skip that because it was going to require a lot of ingredients and a lot of prep work. By picking a few main items for the brunch, it allows those to shine. I skipped out on apps, too, because I wanted them to eat the brunch and not fill up ahead of time with crackers and cheese or something like that.

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Ask for help

I know I’m guilty of always wanting to do everything on my own and not ask for help, but I’ve learned that’s like an open door for unwelcomed stress to come in. You don’t have to ask for a lot of help, but if someone offers to bring wine or a side dish or to come early and help you prep the food, graciously say “ok, that would be great. Thanks!”. My sister came over an hour before my parents were due here and it was so nice to have another set of hands.

Don’t expect everything to turn out perfectly

Things happen. Things get forgotten. Things don’t turn out as well as you hoped. And you know what? That’s ok! No one will even notice… especially if you keep their glasses full šŸ˜‰

Enjoy yourself

Pour yourself a cocktail before everyone gets there and be excited to be hosting a gathering! If they see you relaxed and happy, they will fall in line, too. No one likes to see a stressed host!

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Ā Questions for you: Do you like to play hostess and host various gatherings? Do you tend to go fancy or keep it simple? What’s something you do to stay stress-free?

 

Weekending: Dining, drinking & celebrating mom

Weekends are usually pretty great, but this past weekend was especially great and I think the combination of being surrounded by lots of family and the weather was the reason behind it. I’ve been trying to cut back on weekend recaps because I’m not sure how much you enjoy hearing about my play-by-play weekend adventures, but this one was filled with trying out new restaurants and celebrating someone very special so I figured it was worth sharing šŸ˜‰

Friday night, I met the boy in Central Square and he brought me to a little hidden gem: Green Street Grill. This little restaurant/bar was tucked away on a street parallel to Mass. Ave right in the heart of Central Square. We were lucky enough to snag 2 seats right at the bar (our favorite) and enjoyed some vino and delicious (gluten free) dishes. I had had a very stressful (but good stress) day and it was so nice to be able to relax, have a few wines and not think about anything for a while.

Saturday morning, my sister and I went to a class at Flywheel and, just as I expected, Ann taught a phenomenal class. I’d love to say that I had a great ride, but for some reason, my legs felt like lead and I just didn’t have it in me to push myself andĀ pedalĀ faster. I wanted to- so badly- but my body had another thing planned. Oh well. It was still fun riding next to my sister and we left there hot yoga sweaty!

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After class, we shopped around a bit (I got a new dress for Miami!) and then had lunch at Sonsie. The weather had cleared and we got seats right near the open windows- felt so nice to have warm weather!

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I can’t say any of what I ate/drank was healthy, but life is all about balance, right?

Saturday night was date-night. We went to his brother and sister-in-law’s condo in the South End for roof deck cocktails and baby snuggles before having dinner at Stella, which is also in the South End. My friend Jess recommended it and it turns out it’s one of his favorite restaurants, so it was a no brainer to try it out! Even better? They have a whole gluten free menu. We had a drink while waiting for spots at the bar to open up (the Bruins were on. I couldn’t care less, but I wasn’t going to take him away from watching). For dinner, we shared the sausage and broccoli rabe, the arugula salad and the braised short ribs. They split that for us, which was so nice! They also served it atop gluten free penne instead of GF mashed potatoes which was totally fine.

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Yum. I can’t wait to go back- I dream of that dish. Okay, not really, but it was SO good.

Sunday was a fun day filled with pampering mom! We were lucky enough to have them agree to come down for the day instead of us going up there since we’ve been a few times in the past month or so. Danielle and I made a pretty delicious brunch, if I do say so. We had an egg casserole (egg, milk, chicken sausage, sautĆ©ed peppers and onions, spinach and cheese- so easy, so tasty), warm kale salad (with EVOO and lemon juice as the dressing, craisins, goat cheese, grilled pear and candied pecans), fruit salad and Stonewall Kitchen blueberry muffins.

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One of the best parts of the day was the fact we got to spend time on my back patio, soaking up some serious sun!

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(terrible picture, but it was all I had!)

My mini patio set is, well, mini, but we squished to make it work.

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Yummm. I love brunch food! We had such a nice afternoon drinking wine (mom loves excuses to day drink!) and catching up. My dad is coming down next weekend to help get my garden started and I can’t wait! It will be so nice to have fresh veggies all summer- I’m lucky that he has volunteered to help!

And that about sums it up. Although it was a rather indulgent weekend, there’s nothing better than spending time with the people you love and food/drink indulgences are totally worth it during those times!

Questions for you: Did you get outside to enjoy the weather? What was the best part of your weekend? What did you do to celebrate Mother’s Day? What’s your favorite “hidden gem” restaurant? Do you ever have workouts where your mind wants it but your body doesn’t?

Ringing in the New Year (by pictures)

Remember how I said I was feeling really blahĀ about NYE this year?Ā  I think part of the reason I wasn’t hyped up and excited about NYE this year was because my friends weren’t all doing something together.Ā With that said, what IĀ really wanted was to be dating someone and be able to just go somewhere fun for dinner and to ring in theĀ New Year that way. Obviously that wasn’t the case for meĀ (this year), but I am happy to say I pulled myself out of my little “womp, womp” mood and decided that I would go to my friends’ (Christy and Jamie) house party in Exeter, NH.

I wasn’t in the mood to drink (I had a glass of bubbly, though), but I still had a great time catching up with my friends that were there andĀ getting to meet some new people, too.Ā Waking up without a hangover and in my own apartment on New Years Day was ahhhhmazing! Here’s my recap by pictures- enjoy!

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Big thanks to Christy and Jamie for throwing a fantastic party!

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For the past handful of years, my sister and I (and whoever else is around) haveĀ had a tradition of going out to lunch on New Years Day. We’ve had our fair share of hangovers for these lunches, but this year we were both hangover free- yay! We decided to try someplace new and went to Stephi’sĀ in Southie. We were both totally impressed with the restaurant! It had a great vibe, neat dĆ©corĀ and a super tasty menu (and affordable wine and cute guys. True story.). We enjoyed white wine, the black forest ham andĀ brie sandwich and the special of the day: open facedĀ omelet with hollandaise sauce, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese and asparagus. Yuuu-uuum.Ā We foresee going back for a girls night dinner sometime in the near future!

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So, although I wasn’t super amped to go into the new year, I’m feeling really good about it now. In all honesty, your life is what you make of it, so I’m trying to go into this year with a positive outlook and make it a terrific year.

Questions for you: What did you do for NYE this year? How do you manage a hangover? Have you been to Stephi’s?