I’m All About….

Today, I am ALL about Meghan Trainor.

This song has been circulating for a little while now, but I just can’t get enough!

It’s upbeat, it’s catchy, and it’s about owning your lovely lady lumps. Safe to say I’m obsessed.

I’m definitely all about that bass.

Hope you’re dancing your Monday blues away!

Until next time friends,

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Crock-Pot Curry

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Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of curry. It just wasn’t a food that was on my radar. I can assume this is due in large part to the fact that I grew up in white-bread northern Minnesota where the SUPER CHINA BUFFET was the closest thing we had to “ethnic” food.

I had little to no experience with curry prior to trying this recipe so I was a little nervous, but this method makes it so easy! This recipe uses yellow curry powder instead of paste and plenty of spice, so the flavors are easily adjusted to your palate.

This is about as easy and basic as you can get, so if  anyone has any tips or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Hope you enjoy!

CROCK-POT CURRY with CHICKEN
INGREDIENTS

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 white onion, sliced in thin strips
2 large carrots, peeled & sliced 1/4 in. thick
1 C. broccoli pieces
1 C. cauliflower pieces
1 C. bell peppers, roughly chopped (use whichever your prefer, I typically use green, yellow & orange)
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed & drained
1 8oz. can coconut milk (shake well before opening)
1.5 C. low sodium chicken stock
2 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbs. yellow curry powder
1.5 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. basil paste
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Prepare your ingredients. Cut onions, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in to bite sized pieces. Rinse and drain the can of garbanzo beans using a colander or mesh strainer.

2. In a separate bowl, combine coconut milk (shake well before opening can), chicken stock, soy sauce, curry power, lime juice, basil and crushed red pepper (I also added a little parika and cayenne pepper for an extra kick). Whisk all ingredients together.

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3. Drizzle 2 Tbs. olive oil in bottom of crock-pot and add garlic. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place in bottom of crock-pot. Add the veggies and garbanzos followed coconut milk mixture. Stir everything together to get even coating. Make sure chicken breast is completely submerged when cooking.

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4. Cover and set crock-pot to LOW for 6 hours.

5. After five hours on LOW, remove chicken breast and allow to cool for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, using forks or your fingers, shred the chicken in to small pieces.

6. Add shredded chicken back in to crock-pot and mix to coat. Allow to cook for another 45-60 minutes.

7. Serve immediately over rice & enjoy!

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MEGHAN’S NOTES

  • Even though this is a pretty healthy meal, you can save a few extra calories by using reduced fat coconut milk, but trust me when I say you will lose out on so much flavor. The last time I made this I used So Delicious Coconut Milk and it just wasn’t the same. For full flavor go for the real stuff!
  • This can easily be made vegetarian by substituting extra firm tofu cubes (added during the last hour of cooking) for the chicken and swapping out the chicken stock for a veggie-fied version.
  • Curry is best when paired with jasmine or basmati rice, but I just can’t justify buying it for one meal, so I serve this up with plain ol’ instant brown rice and it is still delish!
  • The hubby likes his curry plain, but since yellow doesn’t quite satisfy my need for spice, I love mine loaded with sriracha and fresh cilantro. Yumm!

 

Until next time friends,

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Small Town 4th of July

OK people I’m just going to come right out and say it….the 4th of July is my absolute favorite holiday.

That’s right, I said it, I like America’s birthday more than Christmas. Deal with it.

I love everything about the 4th of July and what it represents to the good ol’ U-S of A. But then again, it’s pretty hard not to love the 4th when you grow up in a small town that devotes the other 364 days of the year to planning this one holiday.

I was so excited for the 4th this year because the hubs and I were actually going to be able to spend it together! For the past two years we were apart on the 4th, and honestly, fireworks just aren’t the same when he’s not there. (Barrrfffff I know, but it’s true!) So as soon as I got off work on Thursday we loaded the car up with beer and patriotism and headed north.

Where I’m from, the 3rd of July means the annual street dance. Main street shuts down completely, there’s a live band, awesome food trucks, and all the bars open up onto the street. It’s like a very small Vegas….with less people handing you porn and waaay more Miller Lite.

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The 3rd of July is also traditionally the night of the big fireworks show. I am not kidding when I say it is the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen outside of major metro areas or Disney World (Mickey knows his shit). Between myself, Will, and our limited knowledge of explosive displays, we estimated that the city must have dished out at least $20,000 for the fireworks. $20k is an amazing figure on its own, but it’s even more impressive when you realize that people donate all year long to keep this tradition alive. Not to mention that the whole shebang is coordinated by the local pharmacist and a group of volunteers. Needless to say, the street dance delivered.

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The morning of America’s 238th birthday started off with a bang…literally. My aunt and uncle were nice enough to let us stay with them for the weekend at their awesome lake place, but they failed to mention their little 4th of July tradition where everyone on the lake fires off 3 shot-gun rounds….at 7 a.m.! I was up and at em’ bright and early.

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We headed back into town for the parade and a few bloody marys, which are absolutely vital to any early morning birthday celebration. We had a pretty good spot, but forgot chairs so I’m not proud to admit that we bailed early. Nap time was immenent.

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We spent the rest of the day in typical celebratory fashion at the golf course with beers, burgers, and the time honored tradition of shoe kicking. Yep, a shoe kicking contest. Will didn’t win this year, but he had a much better showing than in years past (Shoe Kicking Contest 2012 ended with a shoe to someone’s face and two years of shame).

photo 2REDEMPTION!

We were able to fit in a pontoon ride around the lake with the fam and even made it back over to my parents in time for dinner and a campfire. It was pretty much the perfect 4th of July weekend!

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In my opinion, if you have the chance to celebrate 4th of July in a small town, do it. Sure the major urban areas have fancy parades and gigantic fireworks, but I think you’re missing the heart and soul of the 4th until you see it up close and personal.

Until next time friends….MURICA!

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MSP to BOI

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Well, it only took 11 months and two weeks, but Will and I finally made it back to Idaho this past weekend! We hadn’t been back to Boise since we were married there last July, and after the winter we had in Minne, we were more than ready for some desert heat.

Will finished the didactic portion of PT school last week, meaning that he is done with classroom work FOREVER, so this trip was perfect timing for a little celebration getaway. But it was a celebration weekend for more than just us since the main reason we went back was to see our good friends tie the knot. Yes, wedding season is upon us!

Typically when we travel we fly out of Minneapolis since it’s so much cheaper than flying out of our local airport. The problem is MSP airport is about a 2.5 hour drive from our house…meaning we have to plan for at least 3 hours to get down there, 1 hour to check in and get through security and at least 30 minutes of cushion room in case something happens. Ultimately this meant I had to run home from work, finish packing, get my poop in a group and head out the door.

We made it to the airport with time to spare, but it’s still an exhausting feeling to drive 2.5 hours and know you’ve still got a 3 hour plane ride to go. Luckily, our plane left at 10:50 p.m. so most everyone was asleep….except for me. I can’t sleep on planes. Like ever. However, knowing this about myself I had the forsight to purchase the entire Miranda Lambert album before we left so I at least had some company. (PS the album is amazing, I listened to the whole thing from start to finish!)

We made it to Boise without incident and Will’s mom and brother picked us up from the airport…..they also had a cooler of Red’s waiting for us in the car. Have I mentioned how awesome my in-laws are??

Thursday night we stayed up just long enough to say hi to the family and then promptly face-planted into bed.

Friday I woke up super early thanks to the time change but I did get to spend some time chatting with my MIL. It’s not all that often we get to chat just us gals so it was a great way to start the day. After Will got up we ran to the mall quick so I could stop by the holiest of holies….H&M. Ugh I could spend all day in there! I didn’t find anything too exciting, but I did manage to revel in being in a “real mall” for a little while. So nice to be able to shop somewhere besides JC Penney.

After some shopping and a haircut for Will we headed back to the house to get ready for the night’s festivities. I had decided many weeks ago that Friday night was reserved for dinner at my favorite Boise restaurant, Bardenay, and some downtown shenanigans. We had a few pre-dinner cocktails at the house and I was FINALLY reunited with my Boise bests. I miss my friends oh so much!

Dinner was a delicious success and since we were at Bardenay, I obviously had to have some vodka martinis. Duh.

photo 1Bardenay with all my favorite people! 

After dinner we headed downtown to dance the night away, and dance we did! Obviously I was having a good time because I didn’t take one single picture….and we’ll just leave it at that.

Fast forward to Saturday….

Lets’s be honest, after the amount of fun had on Friday night I was in no shape to be a productive member of society. So instead we recovered with gatorade and biscuits and gravy and watched a little world cup action before we had to get ready for the wedding.

The wedding was absolutely perfect. It was at this adorable outdoor venue that had cute little fountains and gardens and plenty of open space to mix and mingle. It was so fun to see all the girls and significant others and just catch up on life. It seems like no matter how much time passes, we always go right back to where we were….just a bunch of friends sharing laughs.

photo 3Bride & Groom sharing their first dance. Her dress was to die for!

Will’s parents were kind enough to pick us up from the wedding and taxi us downtown to continue the festivities. I love downtown Boise because it never fails to feel like a reunion. I swear I saw everyone I’ve ever met that night. We played until the wee hours of the morning and made it home without any major issues.

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photo 1This sneaky nugget came down from the mountains to surprise us! Love him.

Sunday I was in pain. I’m not a young buck anymore and two nights of shenanigans is waaaay too much for my body to handle. But even though I would have been content to feel sorry for myself on the couch all day, we had organized a Sunday Funday BBQ, so I had to get it in gear. Amazingly, the best and I were able to pull off something that sort of resembled a planned event. I made my famous black bean & corn salsa, she whipped up some cous cous salad and we had burgers and dogs a-plenty. Done and done.

Eventually the fun had to end, so we said our goodbyes and headed back to the house to pack.

We flew out on Monday around 2:30, so we had time to visit with Will’s grandma and snag some Flatbread for lunch, which was so so good! Honestly, I think I miss the food in Boise almost as much as I miss my friends and family.

We said our goodbyes at the airport and headed to the gate with heavy hearts. Not going to lie, I may have shed a tear or two during take-off, but it makes it a little easier knowing we will see our friends again in August when we hit wedding #2 in Coeur d’Alene.

So for now I’m headed east, but don’t worry Idaho, you still have my heart….

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Until next time friends,

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Advice for the Blushing Bride


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On July 13, Will and I will celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago I was a nervous wreck, trying desperately to drink enough mimosas to calm my nerves…but not so many that I would break out in that blotchy white-girl rash on my chest. I was about to walk down the aisle and straight into my future. Everything was about to change.

I was stressed. I was excited. I was overwhelmed. I was overheating. 

When I look back on our wedding day, I can’t help but get a little misty-eyed. Of course I’m biased, but in my humble opinion, our wedding day was sheer perfection. Surrounded by the people we loved most in the world, we said our “I do’s” and became our own small, perfectly imperfect family.

But believe me, the process of planning our wedding was far from perfect. It was incredibly stressful and time consuming. More than once we seriously considered throwing in the towel and heading to the courthouse. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and we were able to celebrate the beginning of our life together with our nearest and dearest.

Now as we head in to wedding season once again and make plans to attend the upcoming nuptials of our friends, I can’t help but reminisce. Looking back, I laugh at all the time I spent worrying about centerpieces, invitations and our wedding web site (seriously, no one looks at it) . That is why, as a former bride and basketcase, I have decided to share the ten biggest takeaways from my experience. Each bride is different, so take my advice how you will, just know that I’ve been there and got the t-shirt.

Here goes nothing….

1.  Set your budget early. No seriously, set a budget. Even if your wedding will be featured on VH1’s Platinum Weddings, set a budget. Did I mention you should set your budget?

2.  Once you know what you can afford, decide what’s most important to you and budget around those items. If you know that you want the entire reception space dripping in roses, understand that it will be a huge cost, and you will have to cut corners somewhere else….and you will probably send a few guests into anaphylactic shock.

3.  It’s your day…but it’s his too. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but seriously, don’t forget about the groom. Let him be involved in the planning process. He’ll say he doesn’t care….he does. Ask him what he wants. My hubby had three requirements for our wedding: no pink, open bar, and a say in choosing the cake flavor. Easy enough. Let your groom take ownership of some of the planning, that way he won’t feel like a guest at his own wedding.

JUS_5552Justis Photo 2013Boys will be boys.

3.5  It’s also a day for your families. Everyone and their dog will want to help you plan your big day. And EVERYONE will have an opinion. I am blessed with an incredibly supportive family and in-laws who were nothing short of amazing when it came to helping me plan. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed with trying to find a place for everyone to be involved. If you’re a control freak like me it’s hard to let some of the details pass into other’s hands, but do it anyways. They will be grateful to play a part, and your wedding will be that much more special.

IMG_0241I am so lucky to have these two wonderful women in my life.

4.  Don’t pick your bridal party right away. I know the second that rock is on your finger you’ll squeal like a little girl and rush off to tell your best gal (or guy) pals. This is not the time to drop the “will you be my bridesmaid” bomb. Take some time to think about who you really want standing by your side on your big day. And DO NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ask someone to be a bridesmaid because you think it will heal a friendship/relationship. If you’re not getting along now, chances are that asking her to be in the wedding party will not mend fences. Ask the people you know support your marriage, are genuinely happy for you, and won’t judge you when you have a meltdown trying to pick a cake topper.

JUS_5613Justis Photo 2013My beautiful bridesmaids….I could not imagine my day without each of them there to share it.

5.  When the big day arrives, make time for your dad (or whoever will be giving you away). Don’t forget that for the majority of your life, he played the role of leading man. Now, he has to pass that role on to your husband…there’s a reason it’s called giving away the bride. So make some time for him and let him know how much his support and love means to you.

JUS_5764Justis Photo 2013This is a favorite of mine. Such a perfect moment.   

6.  Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’. Seriously stop. So what if Sally got married in a French castle, or if Suzie gave all of her guests bottles of Dom Perignon? If you want to get married wearing a red, white and blue bikini and drink 40s at your reception, do it! Who cares!? You just do you, boo boo. Stop worrying about trying to out-do everyone else. Make memories, not impressions.

7.  Be kind to your wedding party. They are your friends and family, not your personal servants

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 8.  When it comes time for the bachelorette parties and bridal showers, enjoy the moment. At my bridal shower a friend of my mother-in-law turned to me and said, “Enjoy it while you can, it will never happen again.” And she was right. Take advantage of, but never take for granted, the fact that your family and friends love you enough to throw you multiple parties!

SHOWER SHOWER2My girls killed it on the bridal shower. Boom. 

9.  When your big day arrives, something WILL go wrong. Let it go and move on, you have better things to worry about….like getting married! Eeeeek!

10.  Never forget what it all means. You are having a wedding to get married, not getting married to have a wedding. So many brides get caught up in the details that they lose sight of what really matters. And at the end of the day, all that really matters is the love between two people who have decided to spend the rest of their forever together.

JUS_6013Justis Photo 2013Mr. & Mrs. McMartin 

 I honestly could add about 20 more thoughts to this list, but for my own sanity I will stop here. If you’re planning a wedding, don’t forget to enjoy the process, these will be your very first memories as a married couple, so make them special.

And remember, the joy is in the journey…

Until next time friends,

 

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Team McMartin is Coming Off the IR List…..

Welp, I’ve done it again. I’ve gone and fallen off the blogging wagon…I’m not very good at this, am I?

Oh well. Let’s try this again, shall we?

First things first….I GOT A NEW JOB!!!!!! Praise that sweet little baby Jesus, I got a new job! I cannot even tell you how long I’ve been on the job search – scratch that, yes I can – it’s been since day one of my old job. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate what I was doing, but it was only part time with no benefits. Not ideal for a young professional with a husband in grad school and wisdom teeth that are trying to murder my gums (I’ve never been more excited to go to the dentist in my life).

In April I accepted a new position with the foundation of a local community college as the Corporate Development & Events Coordinator. I know, right? How fancy am I!? But honestly, I’m so excited about this new gig. I work with an awesome team of people and there is so much support from the administration it’s kind of baffling. Oh, and did I mention the absolute best part about this new j-o-b? IT’S NOT IN WISCONSIN!!!!!! THANK THE LORD, I HAVE BEEN SAVED! No more driving 25 miles each way across an incredibly scary bridge covered in ice, while the wind blows upwards of 40mph off the lake. Suck it Superior, I’m never coming back!

So yeah, I have a new job. It’s awesome and I finally feel like an adult. Go me.

In other news…..my bearded better half just finished year two of his Physical Therapy program. Only one more to go and then he will actually start getting paid for touching old lady butts…yay for him! I suppose the only downside to the light at the end of this incredibly long grad school tunnel is that he will be leaving me for extended periods of time over the next year. Not that paying $3 million for school and studying 3853481 hours each week wasn’t enough, now we’d like to separate you from your family for weeks on end. Muahaha! Grad school, you are a cruel mistress.

But such is life.

Other than that, not much is new on Team McMartin. After almost a year away, we will finally be making our way back to Idaho (twice!) this summer for weddings and visits with family. I for one, CANNOT WAIT to feel that dessert heat! Burn my skin off, I seriously don’t care – I just want to be warm!

Welp, that’s about all I’ve got for now….my fingers are fatigued from typing due to my recent lapse in blogging….j/k I’m just lazy.

I’ll write another post sooner or later, but until then enjoy the sunshine friends & drink lots of beer! Happy summer!

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Tex-Mex Quinoa Casserole

So it appears I have taken an accidental blogging hiatus…again. The past two weeks have been absolutely crazy, but I am back at it again with a new delicious recipe to share!

It is no secret that I absolutely looooove quinoa. It has even begun to replace brown rice as a staple in most of my cooking. It’s packed full of protein and is a great substitution for those with gluten allergies. Typically I use quinoa as a side dish for dinner or as a filler for veggie patties, but I really wanted to find a recipe that used quinoa as the star of the dish.

Well folks, my search has ended! I made this fabulous casserole last night and I cannot stress how easy and delicious it is (not to mention so very good for you!).

Tex-Mex Quinoa Casserole

INGREDIENTS
1.5 C quinoa, cooked & cooled
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
3 bell peppers of your choice, chopped (I used green, yellow & orange)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 C chopped cilantro
1/2 C green onion, chopped
1.5 C shredded cheese, Mexican blend
3/4 C coconut milk, light
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs. lime juice
2 Tbs. coconut oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. *Quinoa is so simple to prepare, just make sure you always rinse it first in a mesh strainer. Add quinoa to medium saucepan with water, ratio is 2:1 water to quinoa. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. It should take about 20 minutes for water to absorb completely. Remove from heat and let cool. 

photo 3I prefer red quinoa, but white would work just fine for this too! 

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and get 11×8 baking dish ready.

3. Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When oil has melted, add diced bell peppers, jalapeno, and garlic. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and let cook for about 4-6 minutes or until peppers soften a little (do not over cook the peppers here, they will continue to cook in the oven and you don’t want them to be mushy).

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4. In a large bowl combine quinoa, black beans, corn, 1/4 C green onions, 1/2 C chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, lime juice, coconut milk and the cooled pepper mixture from pan. Salt and pepper to your taste….I also added a little bit of creole seasoning here for a little extra kick.

photo 4Seriously, how pretty is this?! I may have eaten a few spoonfuls before baking….

5. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Pop the casserole in the oven and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Since there are no raw ingredients, this casserole only needs to bake long enough for the cheese to melt and flavors to marry. 30 minutes was perfect for me!

6. Remove from oven and top with the rest of the chopped cilantro and green onions. Serve immediately.

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I served this deliciousness with tortilla chips on the side and it was perfect, but a few slices of avocado and fresh cherry tomatoes would definitely kick it up a notch.

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Seriously good, and seriously good for you!

Until next time friends,

 

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