Because Brunch.

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Y’all know I love a good brunch. I ESPECIALLY love hosting a good brunch! Recently, I hosted a Sunday brunch for the ladies of my small group at church. Eight of us around my hubs’ grandmother’s table just makes me so happy!

IMG_7792I turned the usual “bar” area of the dining room into a coffee and juice bar, which really worked out well. See the flowers? Those were sent to me at work the week before by my hubby and they are still going strong and are a beautiful addition to the house!!IMG_7793

If you’ve been around my blog a while, you’ve probably also noticed my love of baby’s breath. It kind of works out that it’s one of the cheapest flowers out there, so comes in very handy when sprucing up the place for a little event like this. Sunflowers also happened to be my absolute childhood favorite – my dad and stepmom can attest to my bedroom that included a sunflower comforter, yellow walls and dresser drawers, and sunflowers stenciled EVERYWHERE.

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It was a potluck brunch, but as the host I really wanted to be sure to have some main courses ready to roll. Eight people = quiche. Perfect! I made my usual recipe with a few veggies swaps, and added these mini bell pepper slices on top for a little visual prettiness.

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And also bacon. And sausage.

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Everyone brought AMAZING dishes, and we had such a great time just chatting about jobs, marriages, babies, etc. A very happy Sunday for all of us!

Panera’s Hidden Menu

I don’t think it’s as much of a secret these days, but Panera has a hidden menu. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve learned not to ask questions of a good thing.

I love eating at Panera, because even though it can get a little pricey, there are many pretty healthy options on the menu. You can customize your salad. You can get an apple. You can do just about anything you want. But even this girl, a lover-of-Panera-for-life, can get sick of making the same choices over and over.

So in comes the hidden menu. For the record, there are more items than are even listed here. I’m pretty sure you can order any of their fancy salads from other seasons – like the fuji apple turkey salad – from the “hidden menu.” I tried the Steak Lettuce Wraps – they were so-so. So far my favorite is the Power Mediterranean Roasted Turkey Salad:

Power Mediterranean Roasted Turkey Salad

I ordered this the other day, and it seriously, actually looks like this. It even came with little packets of olive oil to drizzle on yourself. IT WAS SO YUMMY.

I also ordered the Egg Bowl with Steak during my last Whole30, and while it worked for an on-the-go breakfast, it was NOT as pretty as the online photo…

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But hey, at least there are options out there! Most places, there are nearly no options that are grain and dairy free. So cheers to healthy eating on the go!

Kale and Quinoa Winter Salad

The days are still pretty chilly, and a cold, crisp salad just doesn’t sound that great for lunch. And so, of course, I have come up with a cozy alternative.

Kale and Quinoa Winter Salad

{Sorry for the lunchbox photo, but it’s the best I could do this week!}

I think this salad is best when warm, so just zap it in the microwave for a minute or so before you eat it.

Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato, diced and roasted (drizzle with a little EVOO and salt, 400 degrees, about 30 min)
2 cups raw kale, chopped
3 cups cooked quinoa (one cup dry + two cups water = about 3 cups cooked quinoa)
3/4 cups pitted prunes or dates, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (you may want to add more throughout the week, as it soaks in)
Optional: Feta or other cheese, and also, I think walnuts or pine nuts would go great, as well. And, of course, CHICKEN.

Simply mix all of your ingredients together, and serve yourself a big heaping cup of it for lunch. It’s filling, nutritious, cozy, and has enough flavor variety to satisfy whatever you’re craving!

Couscous Salad

Okay, so this is basically healthified pasta salad. I am a BIG fan of couscous, quinoa, and other type grainy things. So this weekend I made my lunch for the entire week by making one big bowl of couscous salad. It’s SO simple, and since it’s served cold it requires no prep work each day when lunch rolls around. Here is my “recipe,” but please know you can pretty much do whatever you like…that is what makes it so great!

 

Ingredients
One small box couscous
Bell peppers (I use one total – half of a green and half of a red)
Half of a small red onion
Cherry tomatoes
Container of feta
Balsamic vinaigrette*

Directions

Cook your couscous (or quinoa) and let it cool. Meanwhile, chop up all your veggies. Once your couscous is cool, mix it with all your veggies and your feta. Then drizzle balsamic vinaigrette and mix it in – I used about 1/3 of the bottle. This tastes best once it sits in the fridge for a while. You may need to add a little more dressing throughout the week if it starts getting dried out. Also, be ready for some serious red onion flavor.

You might see craisins up there in my photo. I love craisins, but as I put this together I realized how savory it was, and that I might not love to have craisins in it. But again, your call – it will ALL taste good in this little concoction!

*I had no idea that this is how you spell “vinaigrette” until my spell check caught it. Did you?

Turkey, Brie, Apples, and onions {sandwich craving}

If you are a hater of flavors, then back away, hater.

I happen to be a lover of fabulous flavor combos. And today I am here to share with you my latest creation. Do you eat turkey and cheese every day? Or PB&J? Is it boring? Yes, it is! here is your answer.

Turkey, brie, apples, and onions heated up on some toasty bread.

Let me assure you it is not as difficult or as fancy as it sounds. Here’s what you do:

On Sunday, saute up one onion and one apple. Just slice them both nice and thin, and give ’em a good browning. Then you have them for the week!

Then each day for your lunch, spread one wedge of laughing cow blue cheese over two slices of bread. Add a slice of turkey to each of those slices of bread. Then top with a nice little layer of apples and onions.

Lunchtime comes, you heat that sucker up in the toaster oven. BLAM.

What makes it great is that if you use the laughing cow wedge, and a low calorie bread, you’re looking at about 200 calories here. I call that a win. It leaves room for other delicious things, like some baked ruffles or a few ginger snaps…

Anyway, I’ve been craving very tasty sandwiches lately, so I’ll let you know what else I come up with. Meanwhile, happy sandwiching!