Book Rec: Necessary Lies

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that I didn’t want to put down.¬†Necessary Lies¬†by Diane Chamberlain just broke my boring book streak.

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The majority of the book takes place in the South in the 1960’s and tells the story of a young, newly married, feisty woman who begins a job as a social worker to rural families on welfare. I was engrossed in the stories of the families she helps who are struggling with mental illness, racial tension, and the super interesting (and scary) state-mandated sterilization program. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something to read while it snows outside like it is here!

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Toasted Walnut, Blue Cheese and Brussels Sprout Salad

Have I told you that I’m obsessed with brussels sprouts? Like seriously can’t get enough. I crave them. And I feel a little resentment towards my parents for not introducing them to me earlier in my life (just kidding mom and dad). So I’m obsessed with brussel sprouts and I’m also obsessed with The Brown Bag Deli down the street from our house. This cute little deli has amazing sandwiches and delicious side dishes. My favorite thing to do lately is get their combo of three small sides. They have really great seasonal chicken salad (my other obsession), smokey potato salad, caprese salad, and this sweet summer corn with basil and tomato. Really simple, delicious food. But guess what one of my favorite sides is? A roasted brussel sprout salad with walnuts and blue cheese! Its pretty much the best thing ever and I learned to make it at home yesterday (probably because it has about 3 ingredients).

I think the key to trying brussels sprouts and really liking them is to roast them. Oh and make sure to get fresh ones! Never frozen. Made that mistake a couple times. When you buy them fresh, you have to cut the little butt off of the bottom and then cut them in half. Toss them with olive oil, sea salt and a little black pepper in a bowl. Throw them onto a cookie sheet and stick them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, tossing them around occasionally to make sure they get all-over crispy.

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While these babies were in the oven, I threw some walnuts on another cookie sheet and toasted them for 10 minutes or so. I let everything cool, taste tested some of those crunchy, salty brussels sprouts, and then put them all in a bowl with some blue cheese. And that was it! And it was delicious! And it tasted just like Brown Bag. And I was happy.

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And I can’t wait to eat the rest for lunch tomorrow! Seriously, brussels sprouts, give ’em a try. I’m talking to you family.

30 Day Challenge Check In

Well, we’re half way there to the end of January’s 30 Day Challenge and I am happy to report that I have not broken any of my rules! I have been sleeping better and I’ve even lost a couple pounds which I definitely owe to working out every day and drinking less. My veggie intake has increased too so I feel happy of myself! (you should for sure watch this YouTube video if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Ryan’s been doing great too. No fast food and he pops right out of bed at 6:15 every morning. By far the hardest adjustment has been limiting the drink intake during the week, but its taught us to be more mindful which I think is a really good thing.

Hope you are doing well on your challenge! Even if you’ve broken some of your rules, it’s not too late to finish out the month strong! Thumbs up everybody! (see YouTube link above!)

Enchilada Rice

This won’t be the prettiest meal you ever make, but I think it might become one of your favorites. Mondays at our house are Meatless Mondays. We eat so much meat during the rest of the week that we think it’s a good idea to take at least one day off. Sometimes the challenge though is finding recipes that are meatless, but also delicious and easy (and don’t involve quinoa! I’m sick of hearing about quinoa!)

One of our favorites is this recipe for enchilada rice. Super super simple and really yummy. You know what else makes it so simple? I use this microwavable rice that cooks the rice perfectly in 10 minutes.

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I had a very traumatizing experience growing up which involved cooking rice for my family that I just can’t seem to get over. Specifically the meal was Rice-A-Roni and it was a complete disaster. Even if they don’t remember me ruining dinner, the memory is burnt into my mind and anytime I see a box of rice, I get anxiety. Thank you Success brand rice – you’ve really boosted my confidence.

The recipe for enchilada rice is so simple. Here are the basic steps (for the complete recipe, click here).

1. Cook your 1 cup of dry rice and set aside

2. In a pan with a little olive oil, sautee one bell pepper and one onion

3. In a bowl, mix together rice, two cans of green enchilada sauce, 1/2 a cup of cheese, 1/4 a cup of sour cream and one can of black beans (rinsed).

4. Once the pepper and onion are cooked add in a little cumin and chili powder. Pour in the rice mixture and stir to combine. Heat until warmed through and top with green onions and more cheese.

Ta-da!

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Not pretty, but definitely delish.

Easy Valentine’s DIY

Happy Saturday! We’ve had a full, fun day already! We took the dogs on a long walk this morning and ended up at Columbus Commons in downtown Columbus. It was a warm, foggy morning here and it felt so good to get some fresh air after some really cold days this week. We had our second day of volunteering with Chance and then we stopped by North Market on our way home to grab some banh mi sandwiches for lunch. The sandwiches were delish but I think I’m still on the hunt for the best ones in Columbus. The search must go on!

I wanted to share a really easy Valentine’s DIY decoration I made last year. Valentine’s Day will be here before we know it so I pulled it out of storage today. It’s so cute and easy that I wanted to post it in case you want to make one quick before February 14th shows up!

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Step 1: Rummage through your Scrabble game for letters (if you are willing to lose some!) otherwise, buy a second cheap game at Walmart. Since I made some extras last year to send to our moms, it made more sense for me to just buy another game.

Step 2: Buy a frame and some cute scrapbook paper. I bought a couple different paper designs last year – each was pink with a cute pattern but you could definitely do red and it would be equally sweet!

Step 3: Line up the letters and start hot gluing!

Step 4: Put in the frame and enjoy! Pat yourself on the back for your craftyness every time you walk by it. That’s what I do anyway.

Easy! And cute! And Valentines-y!

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