Monday, May 22, 2017

and i'm back

Hi Everyone!

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaack on the blog :) I just noticed that it has been seven months since I've written anything, and I HAVE MISSED IT!  The past seven months have been CRAZY - two trips home, a lot of dirty laundry, and one Master's Degree later, and I'm back to being a normal human being {for now that is}.

I don't really have any meals or anything super specific to write about or spotlight today - Luke & I are basically eating whatever we have left in the fridge since we are going away for the long weekend which is So. Exciting.  I just mostly wanted to write a post announce my blogging return to my trusty readers{all 2 of them - thanks Mom and Debbie ;)}

I also have started another Instagram account with my hot husband, so we can post pics of all of our meals there instead of me writing a blog post about them everyday or a really long one once a week. It is really more just for us to have a log of what we're eating, but it doesn't hurt to have the likes for encouragement ;) To follow us, our IG handle is @tasteandseeeeeeeee {yes, that is 9 "e"s} I will probably only write on my blog once or twice a week from here on out, so please follow our new IG!

P.S. This is the account photo - take note of how cute my husband is *heart eyes*


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

wednesday wisdom - meet maisie!

After a particularly vulnerable post on Monday, I decided to go a little lighter today {and a little last minute}. I am absolutely giddy that we are half way through this extra stressful week...I'm dreaming of weekend snuggles, workouts & productivity around the house {namely, laundry}. I am going to Texas next week, so there is lots to be done and lots of fun to be had before I have to leave my favorite person for four. whole. days...don't make fun, this is the first time we've been apart since we've gotten married, so I'm a little bit sad.

Besides that little sad bit, I'm thrilled to hit the Lone Star state for some work but also some FUN! It'll be a good time hanging with the work bestie when we don't have responsibilities!


Since I was a bad blogger and didn't bring a Wednesday Wisdom last week, I have an exciting new one for y'all this week. Today, I have the pleasure of talking about my best friend & new fiancee Maisie Jordan Steed!

My bestie Maisie & her fiance Andrew!
Maisie and I have been friends since 8 & under softball & grew up playing with/against each other. We became super close our senior years of high school & remained in close contact throughout college - Maisie was even a bridesmaid in my wedding {and she was beautiful!}

I decided to feature Maisie because it is the 3 week anniversary of her ENGAGEMENT & I couldn't be more excited someone. She has been one of the most constant, loyal & loving friends I've had, so I couldn't help but want to talk about someone I love so much! Check out what she has to say about food, love & this new season of her life!


1. What is your name, hometown, and favorite food?

My name is Maisie Steed, I'm from Powder Springs, Jawja {her words, not mine}, and mexican food might be my second true love {I like how you said second - it may be my first shhh don't tell Luke}

2. What is your FIANCE'S name, and how long have you been together?

Andrew is my fiance, and we have been together for four years. We have been engaged for three weeks and let me just say our engagement was so romantic & perfect in everyway, especially since Andrew is NOT romantic at all {AWWWW!}.

3. How confident are you about your own cooking skills, and who has taught you what you know?

I am fairly confident in my cooking skills, but I don't cook as often as I would like to.  I find the prep/grocery shopping difficult and time consuming {PREACH}. My mom, aunt, and both grandmothers have taught me a good deal about cooking, and I'm sure I have more to learn!

4. What is your favorite food that one of these wonderful ladies cook? And what is the recipe?

My favorite is the spaghetti my grandmother cooks, but there isn't a recipe {oooh secrets}, so I guess my mom's chili is another favorite of mine. {Pictures below, because I didn't want to type anymore HA}

5. Does Andrew know how to cook? If so, do you plan to share the duties in the kitchen?

Andrew knows how to cook, but he likes to act like he doesn't {LOL}. I actually was giving him a hard time about cooking for me the night we got engaged. I was adamant I wanted him to cook, but he had other plans I wasn't aware of (which I'm totally okay with now), so he wouldn't cook for me & I was getting sort of frustrated with him haha! I think we plan to share the duties in the kitchen. I'm not sure we will be like you guys, but I hope we can get close! {Maisie, believe me, we are a total work in progress ha!}

6. What about marriage makes you most excited?

I think I'm most excited to come home every night to my best friend and be able to do whatever our hearts desire. I just want to be together all of the time - especially because we have spent so much time apart with me away at school.


Maisie, thank you for helping me out last minute and being a part of my blog! I am so proud of who you are & who you & Andrew are going to be together! You are going to be an amazing wife!


This blog post made me so happy, so now I have the strength to focus during the rest of my class. I'd love to keep writing more happy posts like this, so if you're interested in be featured, please let me know! I'd love to write about YOU!

I will hopefully be back on Friday, until then, have a great week!


Monday, October 17, 2016

hey i'm back!

Hi everyone! So...sorry for not having one single good post to throw at y'all last week - work has really ramped up as we have a major gala we are hosting next week, I gained not one but TWO new wonderful pitching students, and I have really been focused on staying on top of my schoolwork and gym-going.  Last week, on top of all that, I also wasn't feeling like myself, so all of my crazy responsibilities were a bit slowed down to rest, take the time to connect with Luke, & almost establish goals for myself related to what I hold extremely close to my heart & what I can spend a little less of my energy on.

Me...this weekend
What do I mean by this? Well, here's an example... Of course, one of the greatest things I value is my education. I am EXTREMELY thankful for my education, and I hold it incredibly close to my heart. I love my classes, my professors, and my peers, and I completely understand what a privilege I've been given to be able to learn from/among some of the most brilliant minds in the Health Policy field. I also completely respect & acknowledge the sacrifice my sweet husband makes each day I come home at 10pm so that I can continue to learn & later apply my knowledge at a job that I have dreamed for a few years now. That being said, the whole reason I've been doing so much reflecting is because I do become discouraged that I can't always go home after {long} days at work and cook dinner for Luke who I miss tremendously in the middle of these action-packed weeks {and believe me, I feel almost silly & pathetic admitting that, but it's true}.

Here's the meat of this post {and much of my thinking}: As a student athlete, I've always understood & excelled in the balancing act of two important yet different aspects of life that held equal pieces my the heart & ambition, but as I have entered into the new adventures of a full-time job, marriage, and owning my own {very small} business all while going to school, I have yet to figure out how to balance my true desires with what I need to do to fulfill certain responsibilities. I have not only been racking my own brain for the answer to this question, but also the brains of my husband, my colleagues, and people I hold in high esteem. Even still, as I have been writing about what's on my heart, I've realized that I was seeking good advice; advice & encouragement to "keep trying", "hang in there", "focus on your family", "ask questions", etc. All stuff I should definitely at least think about doing {because it's good!}, but I've realized these were not the answers I was searching for.

Cue a quick googling of "What does the Bible say about priorities?" {I shamelessly use Google often to help find the answers to some of life's most difficult questions} and I came upon this:

"And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His Kingdom, and these things will be added to you." 
Luke 12:29-31

That was it - enough to change the trajectory of my thinking & convict me all at once. You can ask my husband; I immediately messaged him a simple "I need Jesus". The answer to my question of balance does not come from assessing "What do I want?" or "How much time should I spend on each little piece to make me feel happy/secure/fulfilled?" - It should be "How can I use the position/situation I'm in right now, whether I desire/find it useful to be here or not, to advance the Kingdom of God?".

So, instead of asking myself "Where do I go next to be happy/successful/responsible?" I decided to come up with here & now questions that have eternal solutions:

1. How can I better serve my husband to create a more radiant reflection of the Church serving
2. How can I learn to view my education as training to broaden my reach to those who may not know the Good News?
3. How can I connect with my coworkers on a spiritual level?
4. How can I teach my students in a way that clearly displays the Fruit of the Spirit?

These are quite lofty & since I'm not a perfect person {shocker...I know} I will probably never find the right answer to each, but I plan on brainstorming this week to help resolve them & actually ACT rather than just say. I believe, however, that it is not about being perfect & finding the right answers because my Lord looks at the heart. I know because He tells me that living with an eternal perspective will help me find purpose in ALL aspects of my crazy life...even those that I don't necessarily love as much as others, giving me a reason to continue to pour all I have into all I know in His name.

Now I know this isn't about selfishly deciding what parts of life I should put more of my time, effort & heart into, but about how I let Him use my time, effort & heart in each little compartment to change the course of humanity. "For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also" says Luke 12:34.  I pray I store my treasure in His Kingdom, so my heart is focused on using these various God-given platforms for His glory and not my own.


Monday, October 10, 2016

oh happy monday!

Happy Monday! I'm not as sad as I was last week because I had the best weekend I've had in a long time.

Friday night, my sweet coworker/neighbor decided last minute that her & her husband wanted to treat Luke & I to a very nice dinner at Lola Latin Bistro in Metuchen. Let me just say, the food was AMAZING. I had Lomo Saltado, which was a sort of Latin stir fry that I loved, & Luke LOVED his food so much that there was not a crumb left on his plate! We also loved just sitting with new friends & laughing the night away - something we have been missing for a while.

Saturday, we had an early start running errands & ended up taking a 2 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon which was incredible {we are sleepy people}. We followed that up with a quick gym sesh & then made our way to our sweet friends' home where Luke went to the Rutgers game with Tyler & I got to spend some much missed girls time with Allison. It was LIFE-GIVING to sit there & talk with one of my favorite friends. It has been hard finding a balance between work. school, marriage, and friendships these days. When I'm not at work or taking classes, I LOVE to spend every minute with my husband. He is my best friend, my #1 fan, my confidant, my lover, and my favorite source of laughs, but we have both agreed that we can be guilty of ignoring the world sometimes, and we can't lose sight of the community that God has meant for us to live in. We both had a wonderful time separately which was a surprising source of encouragement for us!

Yesterday, we made it to our first life group session & it was successful. It was so nice being with like-minded people & building that community we both long for. We also had a sad dinner last night, and I don't want to talk about it, but we ended up throwing away a whole pork shoulder {wah}. I did, however, try out a new recipe for something I've been craving! Presenting my {healthy} pimento cheese!

So, pimento cheese is super easy, but if you're like me & don't know where to start, try this recipe. I'm a MAJOR hater of mayo, so I replaced the mayo in the recipe with plain Greek yogurt & I think it was awesome! I will, however, use a different brand next time, as Cabot's Plain Greek Yogurt {albeit my fave} was a little thick for the texture I was looking for. Still, turned out tasty & I enjoyed it with wheat thins & a small salad at lunch today!


Tonight, Luke is preparing CBR chicken bake like we had last week with some spicy collard greens he is whipping up from this recipe. I can't wait to be home & have some of that southern goodness!

The air is super Fall-ish & crisp here in New Jersey which makes these days extra beautiful! I hope to get outside at some point this week to exercise & enjoy the fresh air! Have a great week everyone!


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

wednesday wisdom - meet jennifer!

Hump day already?! I know they say as you get older, time passes more quickly, but I just can't even believe how quick my days & weeks fly by. With all this working, schooling, & gymming I've been doing, it's a wonder I even have time for watching Grey's Anatomy and cuddling Luke {but I ALWAYS make time for my two favorite things}.

Since it's Wednesday {again}, I have to have my favorite blog day! Presenting Jennifer Worrell on this week's Wednesday Wisdom!

Y'all know I love kissy pics...Jen & her fiance, Shane
I met Jen through my mom & sister since she shot my sister's senior pictures. She came HIGHLY recommended as a wedding photographer because of how wonderful she was during Sierra's photoshoot. Here are a few of the perfect photos she has provided me & my family with:

{If you want to learn more about what Jennifer does & see her photos, check out her website!}

I was so excited to talk to Jen about food, family & love because she is so awesome, exciting, & unique! She is not afraid to get her hands dirty, she's very laid back, & she is what I call "mom goals" {what I hope to be like when I'm a mommy}.  You can find her hiking, digging, or taking pictures with a baby strapped to her, and I think it's awesome! She had a lot of great stuff to say in her interview from yours truly this week. You can read it all below!


1. What is your name, hometown, and favorite food?

My name is Jennifer Ann Worrell (Harwell was my maiden name & in a week & a half my name will be Dawson). I am an original Atlantan & grew up in Gwinnett County. I relocated to Cobb in 2004. I will probably never leave Georgia permanently!

2. What is your fiance's name, and how long have you been together...and of course, when is the BIG DAY!?

My fiance's name is Shane Donovan Dawson, and we have been together for about 3.5 years, friends for about 6 years. He proposed on my birthday (8/1/2015) and our wedding date is 10/15/2016 {SO EXCITING!}. He was named after a character on Days of Our

3. I always see posts of you trying new foods & trying to recreate ethnic dishes, what is your favorite ethnic food & why?

My favorite is so hard because that is kind of what I prefer. I would rather have Indian food than a hot dog or hamburger any day. It would be easier for me to nail down my favorites by region. I really, really, like an Indian dish called Palak Paneer. It's basically a pureed spinach dish with chunks of cheese. The paneer part is the cheese, and it is kind of like if you bake ricotta cheese to where it was firm and then cut it into cubes. It is so delicious. I eat it over basmati or jasmine rice usually. Sometimes, I eat it with naan too. They used to make a version of it at Trader Joe's, and they discontinued it, and my heart was oh so sad {LOL}. Fortunately, there is an Indo-Pak grocery store nearby that has a good one! {I have linked to a palak paneer recipe above - I did not receive this from Jen, but I hope to try it soon!}

4. You told me you learned how to cook when you were young & just married {like ME!}. What was your go-to meal to cook those days?

When I was young and in the beginning stages of my relationship with my now ex-husband, my version of cooking was Hamburger Helper. He informed me that was I started by getting those little cookbooks in the grocery checkout and trying different recipes. If you can read, you can learn to cook. Over time & trial & error, anyone can be a reasonably good cook. That is my opinion. One go to meal in my family since my kids were babies is Shepherd's Pie. I have evolved it over the years, but it is simple & cheap. Not to mention any kid will eat it. Seasoned ground beef or lamb, plus any combo of corn/carrots/peas with mashed potatoes/bread crumbs/cheese on top. Layer that in a casserole dish  & bake it. Always a win.

5. With a bunch of different people to please {Jen has a lot of}, what is a recipe that never fails to please everyone?

See number 4. I cook most meals in my family and do not make special things for picky kids. I am reasonable and don't expect them to eat things like Palak Paneer (although it was my daughter's favorite food when she was little). I do expect them to eat what they are given without complaining. I think it's a good system to have because I have 4 children old enough to eat food & none are too picky. Mom win. {mom goals I'm telling you}

6. What is the best piece of marriage advice you've been given?

That is tough. I have been given so many tidbits over the years after being married to my ex-husband for close to 8 years & then the subsequent relationships prior to meeting Shane. Instead, I will give you MY best advice and that is to love and respect your spouse. Seems simple enough, but so many people don't do it. Love them even when you don't really like them. Respect them by never speaking poorly of them, not to them or when they aren't around. Cheer them on through their highs & support/encourage them through their lows. I am Shane's biggest cheerleader, and he can say with certainty that I always have his back 100%. So...we will make that the bottom line - always have each other's back.


Thank you, Jen, for your truth-filled answers that have inspired me! I hope to try a new dish this week & encourage & love my husband better everyday because of YOUR encouragement!

I hope that y'all {my readers} get something out of each of my posts that is special to you. Each person I have spoken with throughout this process has bestowed some type of wisdom that has been invaluable to me, and this week was no exception. I love hearing from people of all different backgrounds, with different stories, and of course, different palates! If you're interested in helping me out by giving me some wisdom, PLEASE reach out & let me know. I want to hear from you!


Well, like I said before, the week is barreling by. I hope to squeeze in two long runs, yoga, a bike ride, apple picking & 50 episodes of Grey's before Sunday is over. What do you hope to accomplish/enjoy before the end of the week? Whatever it is, don't just exist your way through it. Go out, be productive, have fun & make it count!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

CBR & sister time

It's Monday already! I was talking to my work bestie this morning by the coffee pot about how we blinked & it was Monday again...oh well, I guess time flies when you're having fun! And Luke & I seem to have a whole lot of that!

Last night, I FINALLY convinced my sister to join Luke & I for dinner at our house {it was probably as easy as it was getting President Obama to speak at commencement last year}, and it was so fun! We love anytime we can force her to hang out with us{I've accepted I'm no longer cool since I'm not in college & I like to clean & stuff}, and we LOVE having her nearby to watch her play softball & laugh at her nerdtastic jokes - we got to do a little of both this weekend!

I wanted to make sure we cooked something she would enjoy, so I thought back to what some of her favorite foods are. Well, her big kick right now is chicken bacon ranch pizza from Stelton Pizza {and I's DELISH}, so I found a tasty & easy recipe to pop in the oven for her visit.

Presenting Chicken Bacon Ranch Bake!

The before

The after...didn't last long!
This was one pretty good, y'all {and did I mention super easy?!}. Definitely not the healthiest thing we've ever made, but it was better than ordering the pizza version! We had a superfood salad with it to make ourselves feel better...LOL. All around, its cheesy, bacon-y goodness was a hit, and I think that'll get my sister back to my house for dinner again!

Sierra is also the queen of bundt cakes, so we made one of those too with the help of my BEAUTIFUL Nordic Ware bundt pan we received as a wedding gift. Sierra worked her magic, and we ended up with this fabulousness:

Don't worry, I sent the rest of the cake home with her, so Luke & I aren't tempted with all that junk {even though it was so good}.


Tonight, Luke and I made one of our favorites..."Philly cheesesteak" stuffed peppers!

Product of a good team effort
This is seriously one of Luke's favorites, and it's a low carb option to get that Philly fix! Really...this is super easy & tasty!

It was such a treat to actually cook {not use the slow cooker or bake some chicken} with my husband tonight. It is truly turning into something we adore doing together! {We still haven't figured out how to not burn sauteed onions, so any tips are appreciated!}


I think we all know Mondays can be a drag, but I have to admit there is something calming about starting fresh at the beginning of a new week. No matter what happened last week {for me, it was a lot of sleeping & not a lot of doing}, we all get the chance to make the next 7 better! What are you going to do to take advantage of the time you're given? Get out and make it count!


Saturday, October 1, 2016

the ultimate taste test

Luke & I are taking full advantage of our weekend hanging out, running out doing stuff, & procrastinating on house work {of course - procrastination should be our last name}. Today was wonderful - the rain let up, and we were able to go watch my sister play both games! It was always fun being the performer myself, but I especially love waiting on her run out of the dugout to meet us after she plays {I feel like such a mom}. I also got see some friends & hang out with my grandfather out at the ball field. Afterwards, Sierra, Luke, Ken & I went out to dinner at Olive Garden where I got my usual - soup, salad, & breadsticks.

This was not just any trip to Olive Garden; it was actually the ULTIMATE taste test. My favorite soup is the Zuppa Toscana, and of course I had two bowls at OG, but I also made a homemade version of my fave last night for dinner! {Don't judge me, I love that soup} I immediately had Luke taste the restaurant's classic version so we could make a verdict...

My homemade version straight outta the Crock
Well, we decided it was MY version that was better. Yep, that's right, the girl who has just really figured out this kitchen thing made better soup than Olive Garden. I was so proud of myself, and really excited to eat MY leftovers tomorrow after church {LOL}. We paired our soup with a giant kale & spinach salad with our favorite lemon dressing and it was HEAVEN! If you want to make it yourself, follow this recipe! I have to say, the Simply Potatoes mixture that this recipe calls for was a LIFE SAVER. Especially since I'm so busy already, cutting potatoes is something I ain't got time for. I highly recommend that little short cut! If you're anti-potatoes or paleo or something {like my father}, my parents & I were talking about how this could probably still be awesome by replacing the spuds with cauliflower chunks!

My version was also much spicier than Olive Garden's, but this is something you can definitely control. I bought the hot Italian sausage and got a little crazy with the red pepper flakes {we love that}, but you can definitely season to your personal taste!


Sierra is coming over for dinner tomorrow!!! I hope to make something delicious, bake a cake, & just hang out together. I have never been so excited to cook! Stay tuned to see what we are serving up!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend - take full advantage of that day of rest!