Sunday, May 29

Reunited and It Feels So Good

You know you love that Peaches and Herb reference...

With sore butts and severe jet-lag, Mama and Mons are here, finally. I’m so happy they arrived safely and without major incident.

Family #2 and I went to pick them up from the airport yesterday afternoon. The flight was delayed, so we had time for…COFFEE! Photos were taken with my cell phone, which is currently in my fiancé’s possession (because he is in the process of getting a new one), who is currently out of town on an impromptu business trip. Translation: You won’t be seeing any pictures of the delightful event. Apologies. 

We got the coffee from a place called Wimpy. Yes, Wimpy. Since I like my coffee to have a bit of a punch, asking someone if they want “Wimpy coffee” always makes me giggle. I ordered a Mega Coffee, AKA a coffee in a cup the size of my head. Within about 3 minutes flat, I had slurped the whole thing down.

When Mama and Mons walked through the arrival gate and warm hugs and kisses were exchanged. Boy, did I miss them. We returned home and simple, yet delectable Portuguese fare of chicken and rice packed with vegetables was on the menu.

This morning, I woke up bright and early. Within two minutes of opening my eyes, my mom’s head pokes in the doorway and says, “Are you up yet?” Yes mom. I’m up. I think she has psychic powers. Ahh, back to old times. And by “old,” I mean two weeks ago…

Apparently, the jet lag had her up at the butt crack of dawn, meaning her veins were already coursing with copious amounts of caffeine. I played catch-up by quickly draining 2 cups of piping hot Italian coffee, and we bundled up to go for an early-morning walk. It was lovely. There’s nothing like starting your day off with a brisk walk in the crisp winter air.

All day today (save for some housekeeping duties involving my husband-to-be and the priest who’ll be marrying us), I’ve been glued to mi madre. We are back to our old routine of shopping, cooking, and eating, and I’m loving it.
Diner tonight:salad, sauteed chicken breast, Brussels sprouts, and avocado. Easy, but oh, so UH-MAY-ZING.
I’m thrilled to have two of my best friends back with me again. 
Blood Buddies
 I can hardly wait for the rest of the clan to arrive on the 9th of June! I don’t know if you’ll be able to handle it. It’s going to be marvelous/epic/FLIPPING awesome.

Friday, May 27

Days Go By

I know I keep talking about how fast time flies here, but really, it’s like someone puts me into a time warp in the morning and an hour later, it’s nighttime. My days run together and I am more relaxed than ever—probably because I have no appointments, assignments, or responsibilities to worry about and Miguel is off of work for at least a week.

Mama and Mons will be flying into the lovely Johannesburg at approximately 4:30 PM tomorrow. Since I have been anxious in awaiting their arrival, the fast-time thing has been working out well.

This morning, being the sweetheart that I am ;), I decided to make my lovey breakfast in bed.
Blurry, but very happy man.
He had a gigantic breakfast of chicken and feta omelet, toast with peanut butter, cantaloupe with yogurt, and tea. I had a simpler breakkie of yogurt, fruit, and oats sprinkled on top (not pictured because I ate it while I made his breakfast...).

After breakfast, Miguel and I went down to the local sports club to go walking, my only viable exercise option at the moment. Sufficiently exhausted from the brisk, mildly inclined, grassy, high altitude walk, we headed back home to get ready for our day.

I really should say, “Get ready for the next few hours,” because by the time I showered, made lunch, ate lunch, and did some cleaning, it was already 1:30 and time for us to run some errands.
Salad beast: spring greens, carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes, leftover cooked Brussels sprouts, and albacore tuna on top.
 Migsy and I then left for the mall, and while we were there, I convinced him to share a large cappuccino with me. I’m pretty sure I could live on only cappuccinos for the rest of my life…

Fueled on espresso and frothy milk, we headed to the jeweler to pick up my wedding ring. I am in love with it. Seriously, in love. It’s vintage, dainty, and matches the engraving on my engagement ring. Perfection.

Finally, our last errand was to fruit and veggie heaven. I have yet to take a picture of the produce mountains, but I assure you, one will be coming your way soon.

The plan for the day was to go for a second walk, but since we didn’t arrive home until late afternoon, exercise fell by the wayside. I looked at the evening’s dinner plans and realized that it would take me about two hours, so I got to cooking.

For some reason, I was a little doubtful about the dish, but it came out amazingly delicious. Miguel is currently eating a second helping of my masterpiece. Nothing pleases me more than seeing people enjoy the food I’ve made. What a great feeling.
Tunnel Potatoes: basically potatoes stuffed with ground beef and sauteed veggies baked with cream, tomato sauce, and topped with Parmesan cheese. TO. DIE. FOR.
Potato, salad, and chicken wings that I ended up donating to Miguel.
 After tomorrow, I have been told that SAM is relinquishing complete control of the kitchen to my mother and I. No complaints here. It’s just something fun for me to do as my days go by.

Thursday, May 26

Sitting Waiting, Wishing

Lately, it seems like all I've been doing is sitting, waiting, and wishing in my new, lackadaisical life. This morning, I’ve just finished a lovely breakfast and sent my fiancé off to work.
Oats with cooked apple and plain yogurt with coffee.
At present, I'm sitting in my robe, hot tea in hand, with absolutely nothing to do. I plan on being in my pajamas for the majority of the day. A cold front has come in, and we are experiencing a chilly inside temperature of, what I would estimate to be around 60 degrees F (or lower), with the outside temp being 41 degrees F. It’s still May, and technically not even winter yet. Yikes. I still have yet to bust out my heater so as not to spoil myself too early… I'm apprehensively waiting for the cold to hit and wishing I were back in the hot Florida summer.

Yesterday was rather active, I would say, starting with breakfast of veggie soup (I’ve had a sore throat which I wish would just go away), and 1 hour morning walk with SAM. When we returned, Miguel had come home since he had the day off. Everyone showered, spiffed up, and headed out to pay the deposit for our hotel room for the wedding night. ;) The place is literally 2 minutes from the wedding venue and the hotel is absolutely gorgeous. AND, there’s a full English breakfast included. Yes please! I’m super excited and just can't wait for it to get here!!

After some running around, as per the yooj, we came back home for some lunch. I had a repeat of veggie soup, this time topped with yogurt and a side of avo.
Looks iffy, tasted wonderful! Nothing better than soup on a cold day.
 Feeling a little under the weather from my scratchy throat, a nice nap was in order. I slept in the living room for I don’t know how long, and by the time I woke up, it was almost 5 o’clock. Seriously, I have no idea where the time goes here.

We had made an appointment to go see the wedding DJ at a little café (I love this country), so we left early to sit and have coffee beforehand. I had a yummy, super frothy cappuccino which did not have the privilege of being photographed, and Miguel had a milkshake. I thought he was nuts, considering it was about 40 degrees outside. What can I say? I love him despite his madness. While waiting for our disk jockey to arrive, I finished my night cap and wished I could have about 3 more of them.

Our DJ was surprisingly younger than we expected. I’m not sure why, but both of us just assumed he was older. Because of this, we came incredibly prepared with a long list of music we want played at the wedding and all of these fantastic ideas. Luckily, he is about 27-ish, and clearly knows what he’s doing. Phew! We are going to rock it outtttt! I’m totally stoked about this partizzle.

Due to our late little meeting, we also had a late dinner.
Spinach, tomato, and chicken bake.
It was beyond good. I wished I could have eaten about 5 more pieces of chicken, but being the responsible person that I am (ha.), I only ate one. *pats self on back*. The rest of my night was spent sitting on the couch, looking for prospective living arrangements for my husband-to-be and I. There are about a million and one places that I have already entered into a rather committed online relationship with, but there's no telling where we’ll be until Miguel’s signed something. But until then, I'll be sitting here, waiting for news, and wishing for something amazing!

Tuesday, May 24

Po(tay)to, Po(tah)to

It’s been quite some time since I’ve shared any recipes with you, so to make up for lost time, here are two mouth-watering food formulas for you to try!

Pizza Potatoes

I snagged this recipe from Whole Foods and made some changes to speed up the process.
Bottom dish was delish
Sunday lunch
  • 4 medium russet, red or yellow potatoes 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
  • 1 zucchini, sliced 
  • 1 yellow summer squash, sliced 
  • 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms 
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 cup marinara sauce 
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Slice potatoes in half length-wise and boil for 30 minutes or until tender.

When the potatoes are almost tender, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, zucchini, squash, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender and golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Split open potatoes, transfer to a baking dish and top with zucchini mixture. Pour marinara over potatoes then top with mozzarella. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly, 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to plates and serve.
This is a fairly easy dish and cooks quickly. Next time, I think I would like to play with the toppings, maybe using more “pizza-like” things such as pepperoni, red onions, and olives. It was a major hit! Go try it and enjoy!

Potato, Spinach, and Feta Lasagna

I had two servings of this stuff. It's that good...
Ooey gooey goodness
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bags fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½  cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • White Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 6 tbsp cake flour (GF)
  • Pinch mustard powder
  • 4 cups milk
  • Assembly
  • 2 lbs yellow potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
  • ½ lb ground beef (you can double this for an extra layer of meat)
  • 1 cup grated cheese of choice
Preheat oven to 350 F and spray dish with nonstick spray.

Heat butter and oil in a saucepan, add onions, and fry until translucent. Add thyme and spinach until wilted. Stir in feta cheese and set mixture to the side.

Brown meat and add salt and pepper.

In another saucepan, mix milk, cake flour, mustard, and milk VERY well. Bring to simmer and remove from heat. If the mixture is too thin, add corn starch to desired thickness.

Make a double layer of sliced potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the spinach mixture on top. Use all of the meat to make another layer on top. Cover with a layer of white sauce. Put another layer of potatoes, spinach, and white sauce. Top with grated cheese and bake for 40 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Enjoy!!!

Monday, May 23

Exercising My Freedom to Exercise

This morning, I woke up feeling ___________ (<--insert synonym for overly excited here). Why? Because today broke the ban from working out! Mind you, for the next few weeks before the Big Day, I’ve decided not to push it, in fear of being partially crippled for my wedding and honeymoon. However, I am allowing myself the pleasure of walking and doing a little body resistance work.

But first, I had to fuel myself for the day. I chose a simple breakfast of homemade gluten-free bread with peanut butter, a banana, and coffee. Half-way through the hearty slice of toast, I realized that I would not need that banana.
Surprisingly filling fare.
This morning, my lovey and I headed to the sports club down the road and walked for an hour in the lovely morning sun. I still can’t get over how beautiful everything is here.

Following our walk, I took my sweet time in getting ready for my day. Before Miguel left for work, I made him and me two very different lunches.
Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with Nik Naks for him. Veggie, fruit, hummus, cheese, and chicken slice platter for me.
He was a happy boy. This is definitely the cutest face I've ever seen.
Later, I accompanied my mother-in-law to be on our daily errands of food shopping and picking up my sister-in-law to be from school. By the time we got home, it was already late afternoon. I have no idea how the time manages to pass at lightning speed here. It’s fantastic. I was hungry by this time, and had a fresh and fruity little snack.
Yogurt with papaya and a sprinkle of oats.
Then SAM (South African mom, as I call her) and I went for an afternoon walk. Two walks in one day made me more than happy.

In a continuation of my new, incredibly taxing and stressful life (I joke), I did some leisurely reading.

Before I knew it, it was time for dinner, which I was super excited to make. Throughout the cooking process, I always make sure to taste and retaste the food, just to make sure it’s “acceptable” and not poisonous or anything… The problem is, by the time I get to the actual meal, I’ve already eaten half a meal. The up side: I have lunch already made for the next day.
Stuff pepper goodness
Pepper, Brussels sprouts, and corn on the cob.
I, along with everyone else, was very pleased with the food that my sous chef (SAM) and I created. With my happy belly and my tired, endorphin-filled body, I have no doubt that I will sleep well tonight. And tomorrow, I will be exercising my freedom to exercise again!