Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Planning a Trip to Paris

I've had several people ask different questions about our trip to Paris and how I planned or where we stayed. I've put together a summary of the logistics of our trip and a few pieces of advice, if you're interested...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Leftovers Ideas

Thanksgiving is just a few short days away, so I'm sure you all have your menus planned and your grocery shopping done. (If not, no worries! I'm sure everything will come together perfectly in the next three days...) BUT, what to do with all of the Thanksgiving leftovers?! I've rounded up a few recipes for when you're tired of Thanksgiving dinner take 2, 3, and 4. Oh, and if you have leftover pie, just eat it for breakfast :)

Cranberry Sauce: Cranberry Tartlets

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet Potato Waffles

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving is in just a few days, and I can't wait! It will be so nice to spend time with our families, and I'm also pretty excited to fill my belly with Thanksgiving dinner:) My favorite dish has always been stuffing, but in the last several years my second favorite has become sweet potato casserole. Everyone makes it a little differently, but below is the version I make. I like what the little bit of orange juice adds: a nice fresh, citrusy taste. Hope you have a great weekend!

Sweet Potato Casserole
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp orange juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp salted butter, cubed

for the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan cook sweet potatoes in salted water over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, or until done. Drain potatoes and place in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add orange juice, brown sugar, and butter, and whip until smooth. Spread into an 8x8" baking dish.

Mix topping ingredients together and spread over the sweet potatoes. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Serves 8.

P.S. Need pie recipes for Thanksgiving? Black Bottom Pumpkin PiePecan Pie, & Apple-Sour Cream Crumb Pie

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Paris {Part 3}

We spent the day at Versailles on Wednesday. What an incredible palace! The audio tour was really interesting to gain insight on some of the history of the palace, and the grounds and gardens were breathtaking. After touring inside, we spent the rest of the day walking around outside, sitting by the ponds, people watching. It was a gorgeous day, and we're really glad we took an entire day to spend there. 

On Thursday we headed up to Montmarte to see Sacre-Coeur. There was a service going on while we were there, so we were able to hear the nuns singing and worshipping. It was a neat experience to be in such an intricately built and old basilica, listening to a bunch of nuns singing in either French or Latin (couldn't really tell). Afterwards we did a little shopping and saw the Place de la Bastille, the Place des Vosges, and toured the home Victor Hugo lived in while writing Les Misérables (one of my favorites!). We ended our day at Pompidou. As I mentioned before, I really like art, but modern art is sometimes a stretch for me. Pompidou had so much interesting (and sometimes weird) art, but it was so fun to look at it all! 

Friday was our last day in Paris, and it was pretty rainy. We spent a little while sipping on Starbucks waiting for it to warm up a little and stop raining, but it kept drizzling so we just ventured out with umbrellas in hand. We spent a good amount of time in Le Bon Marche (such good shopping!), so that was a nice break from the rain. We went to the Eiffel Tower so I could see it one more time, and then we grabbed lunch and headed to the Pont des Arts where we locked our love on the bridge and threw the key in the river. We walked by Notre Dame one last time and bought some paintings by the river. It really was getting to be quite cold and damp out, so we headed back to our hotel to read for a bit before going out for dinner. We left Paris Saturday morning feeling like we saw and did everything we wanted to do. Our trip to Paris was such a dream come true, and we loved every minute! Paris was everything I hoped it would be, and I'm so glad I got to experience it all with Caleb.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Old El Paso Frozen Entrees

Whenever Caleb has to travel for work, I take a break from cooking and allow myself to eat whatever I want. It's probably a good thing he doesn't travel too frequently, because this habit could be quite dangerous. While he was gone in Europe last month, I survived on frozen pizza, takeout, and these Old El Paso Frozen Quesadillas. Old El Paso has a new line of frozen entrees, and the chicken quesadillas that I tried actually tasted good. You know how some frozen dinners just taste like heated up frozen dinner with absolutely no distinct flavors? These chicken quesadillas were spicy, the vegetables and chicken had flavor, the cheese melted well, and the tortilla didn't get soggy. Old El Paso has quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, and fajitas in either chicken or steak. Look for them in your grocery store frozen dinner aisle next time you're home alone and don't feel like cooking:)

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Paris {Part 2}

On Monday we took the metro right to Saint Michel. Around the corner from the fountain, we stopped in Shakespeare & Co. The bookstore has floor-to-ceiling books with ladders to climb up to reach the books at the top - a dream! We perused books for a little while before heading to Sainte-Chapelle. The sanctuary has huge stained glass windows that are so beautiful. We then went to Notre Dame, which ended up being one of our favorites of the whole trip. The cathedral is just incredible, inside and out, and we also went up to the outer walkway near the top for a beautiful view of Paris. After lunch we went to the Conciergerie, the prison where many were kept before heading to the guillotine (including Marie Antoinette). We then stopped by to the Jardin des Plantes and the Panthéon before strolling down rue Mouffetard (one of the older roads in Paris) and finding dinner.

On Tuesday we set out for the Musee D'Orsay, but it was closed for an unknown reason. We quickly switched gears and went to the Rodin Museum to see The Thinker and some of his other works. Nearby was the Hotel des Invalides where you can see Napoleon's tomb. We stopped by one more church, St-Germain-des-Pres, which is the oldest church in Paris. Nearby were the famous cafés Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, and Brasserie Lipp. We picked up some lunch and went to sit in the Jardin du Luxembourg for a little rest and some people watching. The park was full of people, and there were tons of kids who were sailing boats in the fountain. It started getting really cold, so we hopped on the metro to see if the Musee D'Orsay had re-opened; thankfully it had. I love impressionist art, so I enjoyed the Musee D'Orsay even more than the Louvre. It's in a beautifully restored train station which makes the entire experience that much more enjoyable. Tuesday night we found dinner near the Eiffel Tower so we could see it all lit up and sparkle. It was beautiful and felt so magical! Definitely one of my favorite moments of our trip:)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Paris {Part 1}

I'm excited to share pictures of our Paris vacation with you! I'm going to break up the pictures into three different posts that I will share this week. The photos I'm sharing are just a glimpse of all that we saw; I'm trying to keep these posts somewhat brief:) If you have any questions about what we did or the logistics of our trip, leave a comment and I'll be sure to answer. I might even do a follow-up post on some tips + how I planned our trip.

I arrived in Paris Friday morning, but Caleb didn't get there until late that night, so Saturday was our first full day there together. We hopped on the metro first thing and rode over to the Arc de Triomphe. We climbed all of the steps to get to the top for a beautiful view of Paris. We then strolled down the Champs-Élysées with a stop in Ladurée for a mid-morning snack of macarons. After crossing Pont Alexandre III, we headed for a late lunch and the Eiffel Tower. (fun fact: a pigeon pooped on Caleb on the way to the Eiffel Tower - hah!) I LOVED seeing the Eiffel Tower. It's the icon of Paris and it made me feel like wow I'm really here! We didn't go up it because I'm afraid of heights + elevators and also the line was 4-5 hours long (no thanks!). We spent a good part of the rest of the afternoon sitting in the Champ de Mars, and then we walked across the Seine to the Jardins du Trocadéro for a different view of the Eiffel Tower. After we checked into our second hotel, we found a restaurant nearby and had a late dinner.

On Sunday we spent most of the day at the Louvre. Art history was one of my favorite classes that I took in college, so I loved seeing so many of the works I had studied. Caleb was a little less enthused with all of that art, but was very gracious to allow us to be there for so many hours! It was pretty overwhelming as there was SO much to see, but we did see a good majority of the museum. After we finished in the museum, we strolled around the Jardin des Tuileries, saw the Place de la Concorde (the site of the guillotine during the French Revolution), the Place Vendôme, and the Opéra Garnier. We walked SO much that day and were really tired by the time we had a late dinner and settled into our hotel.