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Let’s see…

Here are the haps from the past few days in my life.

I’m running again. It feels as good as running can feel. I kind of loathe running. Some people love it.

I am not one of those people.

I do it.

And then I’m glad I did it.

But I pretty much hate every dang second.

However, I do enjoy listening to music cranked up loud while I torture myself.

Here’s what is motivating each stupid step lately:

The Gossip

I heart Beth Ditto. A beautiful voice, a great sound… a little punky. Loves.

Brit Brit

An old favorite. I love manufactured music. I am not ashamed.

Written by Kesha. Performed by Britney. Makes me hate myself for loving to move to this song so much.

Foster the People

Added them to the mix today. Brad knows the bassist- more on that in the next few days- and I feel like I kind of love this song.

I may become obsessed with it.

We’ll see.

Wednesday, all the Clarke gals got together for lunch and dinner and the spa in between.

It was glorious for all of the right reasons.

1. The spa- Duh.

2. The food- NorthStar Cafe with a Chicken and Avocado Sandwich for lunch and Piada (basically, an Italian Chipotle) for dinner. I left stuffed, but not feeling gross. And can I add we had Orange Leaf yogurt for dessert? Good Stuff People.

Oh gosh. In searching for the links to the restaurants, I just discovered that there is an Orange Leaf less than 5 miles from my house. I. Am. In. Trouble. 

3. The company.

Sisters are great.

These gals are my absolute dearest friends in the whole world.

Want to know what I love most?

Well, everything.

But I love how much fun we have together.

I love that there is no jealousy or competition in our sisterhood- only support, pride, love.  I think that says my parents did something right.

So, I feel incredibly grateful for Jessica, Stephanie and Emily.

Then, my brother went and married the greatest girl ever. So, our sisterhood now also includes my sister-in-law, Jana.

Oh, and my mom came too. She is the original Clarke gal. It was so fun to have her with us for our day out. Plus, she watched Henry allowing me a few glorious hours of focused “me” time. God Bless her.

While spaaaaa-ing it up, I was coerced by two of my sisters into trying the shellac manicure. The shellac manicure gives your painted nails a little more stability, but it doesn’t ruin your nails like acrylic or gel nails do. And the shellac manicure lasts up to three weeks.

I think I love it. My nails look awesome (if I do say so myself). You leave the salon with totally dry nails that you don’t have to worry about smudging or chipping or messing up in any way. I have done dishes, changed diapers, and cleaned the bathroom… and have not had the tiniest of flaws appear in my manicure.

Miracle.

The shellac nails get my stamp of approval. My shellac manicure cost $30. Totally worth it, if ya ask me.

Polished nails, polished lady.

Wow. That picture makes my pinky finger look rather crooked.

I choose to love my crooky little pinky anyhow.

Finally, I have a new favorite salad.

It is as simple as can be. Summery and bright.

This salad comes from Ina Garten. That Ina. She knows how to make good food.

I was eating by myself (sniff, sniff), so this recipe is for uno.

Here is what you need:

Spicy Rocket aka Arugula

Some chopped up Watermelon

Parmesan Cheese

1/2 lemon

(Also a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper)

Pop the arugula, watermelon and parm in a bowl.

Give that salad a squeeze of lemon.

And a drizzle of olive oil.

Give it a sprinkle of salt with your fancy pants shellac nails.

Smile at how pretty they are.

Finish off the salad with black pepper.

I still haven’t figured out how to take a picture of me grinding pepper.

But I’m sure you can imagine it.

So, I won’t worry about it.

Much.

And that’s all I’ve got for ya today.

I’ll leave you with a pic of the Clarke gals after facials, massages and pampering… that is why we all look like shiny grease balls.

Have a great Friday!

XO,

Leah

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I am a girl that loves a sandwich.

I am a girl that loves a spicy dish.

I am a girl that tries to eat somewhat healthy.

I am a girl that gets weak in the knees for buffalo sauce.

And I am a girl that stole this marvelous (and somewhat healthy)  recipe for the best Buffalo Chicken Burgers I’ve ever had.

My friend and former boss, Tracy, posted this recipe on Facebook a while back. I promptly made it because she promised that these burgers would be a healthy alternative to the terrible fried goodness of a chicken wing (or a boneless tender, that I prefer).

These burgers seriously deliver. They are so dang good. They are moist and delicious and flavorful and spicy and savory and the list goes on and on.

Now, first I must confess. I didn’t have any ground chicken.

So I used ground turkey instead. I lurrrrrve flexible recipes. You too, non?

This recipe makes 5 burgers.

I started with a 1.2 lb package of ground turkey and a large bowl.

Dump that turkey into the bowl.

Get out some grill seasoning. You’ll need 1 Tablespoon.

I happened to have a Chipotle Rub, and it was spectacular. However, any grill seasoning will do.

Now, Tracy recommends low fat blue cheese to keep the calorie count down in her burgers. If you are watching the waistline, I would encourage you to do the same.

If however, you are wanting a more delicious burger- go for the regular old blue cheese crumbles.

I have a personal aversion to low-fat cheese. It generally tastes bad, and it often strikes me as having a weird consistency.

I also hate low-fat salad dressing, but that is neither here nor there. Just thought you might want to know.

Anywho, add in 1/4 c. of blue cheese crumbles.

And 1/4 c. of Frank’s Red Hot. Or you could use Frank’s Buffalo Sauce.

Seriously, both my husband and I really love Frank’s Red Hot. We should buy stock in the stuff.

I think it makes just about any savory dish better. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But the stuff does make me quite happy.

Now, grab some Panko breadcrumbs. Do not attempt to substitute regular breadcrumbs in this recipe. You need the extra crunch provided by Panko.

These guys are found in the baking aisle of your grocery store right near the bread crumbs.

Add 3/4 c. of  the Panko to your bowl.

Chop up 1/3 c. of celery and toss it into the bowl.

And now add 1/4 of green onion.

If you don’t have green onions, use some chives like I did.

Bing bong for chives in the garden.

They have saved several dishes for me this summer when I need just a bit of green.

Gently mix all of the above together.

You want to mix the ingredients until they are combined. But don’t over mix the meat because it will get tough.

Five perfect burgers.

Set those burgers aside, and lets make a little blue cheese sauce to top our burgers with when they are cooked.

You’ll need two simple ingredients for the sauce.

First, 1/2 cup of low fat sour cream. Low-fat sour cream is one low-fat option that I can manage to eat. It doesn’t taste all that different from the full fat version to me.

Add 1/4 c. of those blue cheese crumbles to the sour cream and mix it up.

OK!

Let’s cook our burgers.

Before we do, I think we should follow Tracy’s suggestion to coat the outside in Panko to increase the crunchiness factor.

Those Panko breadcrumbs really do give the burgers that same crispy sensation that a fried tender or wing has.

Put a non-stick skillet over a medium flame to preheat.

I wanted to grill these burgers, but we only have a charcoal grill (I personally could never go gas- I love the charcoal flavor).

The downside of charcoal; however, is that if you are making a late dinner grilling sometimes is not an option.

Because, you know, it takes for-e-ver to heat up.

Enough about my woes.

Put a little olive oil in the pan.

And put your burgers into the pan.

After about 4-5 minutes, give them a flip.

Let them cook on the second side for another 4-5 minutes.

If you want to kick up the heat factor, baste those burgers with a little more red hot sauce.

Pull those burgers off of the pan, and start building your sandwich.

I put our burgers on a whole wheat crusty piece of bread.

And then I topped them with the blue cheese sauce, some tomato, and some sliced cucumbers.

Served up with a simple cucumber salad (can you tell that we were out of lettuce?) and a little fruit salad.

It will knock your socks off.

Want to see what my worthless sous chefs were up to?

Well, this one was at least in the kitchen… but she was just hoping for scraps:

Lola couldn’t bother to come inside. She was either sunbathing or keeping guard of the tomato plant:

And finally… this guy.

So far, Henry has been a real disappointment in the kitchen. He doesn’t help me out at all. Good thing he makes up for it with his extreme cuteness:

My guy’s hair makes my life.

Happy Tuesday!

XO,
Leah

There are dog people.

And then there are non-dog people.

I grew up in a household of seven people, and six out of the seven of us are dog people… with the exception of my mom. She is dog tolerant. And that is about it.

Let me paint the picture for you.

Our beloved childhood dog, Skipper, lived a nice long life. And he was a good dog. When he became blind and deaf, my parents dutifully cared for him. Then he stopped eating, and they knew it was time to say goodbye.

It was a sad day for all of us. Even my dad shed a tear, which is a very rare occurrence.

Now, my mom cries at any touching movie, moment, happy news, sad news, exciting news, etc. But not one tear was shed by her for beloved Skipper.

When I asked her, “won’t you miss him?”

She replied that she’ll miss him when she’s cooking because he did scarf up any scraps.

Now, for you dog lovers that may sound cold-hearted. But my mom, I assure you, is not cold-hearted. She just doesn’t care for dogs.

So, that should provide a starting point for you to understand the rest of the story.

Fast forward…. Christmas at the parent’s house in 2010.

All 5 kids were coming home along with two spouses and two boyfriends. That makes for 11 adults in my parents home along with a bunch of drop-in friends.

Add to that the five LARGE dogs that would be accompanying my momma’s darling children on their trip home.

I thought the woman would have a breakdown.

Here is the ding-dong cast of characters.

The grumpy old lady, Miss Jackson:

Miss Ultimate Supreme Ding-a-Ling, Lola (who in this picture looks like she has a lazy eye):

Mr. Bosco, my sister’s very well-behaved (no that isn’t sarcasm… he is a REALLY good good dog) American Bull Dog:

Rosie, the rescue. And Jax, Bosco’s brother. These dogs love treats. Amen.

And this is a little glimpse of what it was like with them around:

http://bshawise.tumblr.com/post/2488922266

They were relegated to the basement. Please note that is only 3 of the 5. Miss was probably on the second floor far away from the action, and I’m sure she was trying to figure out how she was the only dog last year, and this year she was sharing her favorite get away spot with 4 dogs under the age of 1. Pretty sure she hated us for bringing her. And Rosie was probably locked away- Rosie is still working on playing well with others.

Words cannot describe the chaos that 5 grown dogs can create when they are together. For the dog lovers, there were a lot of funny moments with those ding-a-lings. And for my mom, I’m sure she was wishing that she raised her children better- you know, to be those non-dog loving people that don’t bring disruptive and destructive animals into her home.

Thanks be to God for the nearby high school athletic fields. They provided the fenced in space for these dogs to wear themselves out.

Thanks be to the Dog Whisperer, Justin. For it turns out that he really isn’t a whisperer, he is just a good treat bringer and giver.

And thanks be to my momma for her gift of tolerance.

Happy Wednesday people!

Have a good one,

Leah

For the past decade, I have travelled with my hubs to his family Lake House to celebrate Thanksgiving with his immediate family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone’s dogs.

There are obvious things that I look forward to during the Thanksgiving season- seeing family, spending quality time, giving thanks, and eating glorious turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

Duh.

Who doesn’t like that stuff?

However, there is a newer tradition that I’m going to share with you. I encourage you to try it out for yourself. It will elevate your holiday weekend to a new, fantastically fattening and trashy level.

And who doesn’t love fattening and trashy?

We celebrate the Friday after Thanksgiving with Fry-Day.

I believe this started the first year Brad’s uncle fried a turkey. The next day we had this glorious frier just tempting us to try some new delectable treats in it.

And boy, have we.

It all started with the basics.

I do believe this is the beginning of the first year spread.

Pickles and jalepenos on the left, and those are bacon wrapped hot dogs on the right.

This picture was taken before their dip in our beer batter.

I warned you that these are in no way, shape, or form good for you- right?

Year two, we focused on some dessert products.

These are double stuffed Oreos covered with funnel cake batter.

Um, HELLO!!!!!

We send off the battered goodies to be handled by the men.

The Coors Light drinking men.

Manly.

And classy.

This picture indicates that you also must wear some casual wear from your Alma Mater during Fry-Day.

This is not a Fry Day mandatory; however, it is recommended.

This is a spread from one year.

There are fried cheese sticks, fried oysters and shrimp, fried pickles and jalepenos, and some dips to correspond.

Look! There is even fruit on the table. At least we are making an effort to include some element of health.

Here is the shrimp up close.

This is a personal favorite of mine.

If you look closely, you’ll notice a strange looking fried item in the center of the pile.

That would be cousin Ryan’s fried Lunchable hotdog in the mini-bun. Weird. And gross.

Mmmm. Funnel cake with sugar and cinnamon. Heaven.

Let’s see… we’ve also done salami stuffed with cream cheese, buffalo chicken dip frozen into balls then deep fried, and ice cream.

But we are always looking to improve and experiment.

So, if you have anything we must try, please share!!

Don’t worry… Uncle Steve makes us go on extremely long hikes every day of the break. So, we do work off the calories.

Last year after one hike, two of the older dogs were out of commission for a full 24 hours because the old pups pushed it a little too hard mile after mile.

You do get to see sights like this on said hikes.

Pretty.

And here is another practical way to take care of those pesky Thanksgiving Day and Fry-Day calories…

Fire Jumping while holding Maverick, the wonder dog.

Ladies, you can participate too!

There ya have it.

A new tradition for you Thanksgiving weekend.

You are welcome.

Don’t forget… I’m looking for frying suggestions. And we’ll try anything once (case in point- lunchable hotdog).

Happy Hump Day!

XO,
Leah

It seems impossible that my ears are burning from the cold air whipping around as I walked our ding-dongs tonight.

Just a week ago, I was soaking up the sun and drinking mai-tais in Hawaii.

I’ve mentioned that while we were there, we had some incredible meals.

And none of them rocked my world more than my Uncle Steve’s red snapper.

Yowza.

I learned that this fish dish of his was what he made for my Aunt Lynda on their very first date. No wonder she came back for date #2!

Since leaving Hawaii, I have been dreaming about that dish. So, I decided to make it tonight to momentarily transport us back to the warm ocean breeze (you know, away from the cold fall blustery gusts of Ohio).

Now, I faced a couple of problems right off the bat.

1. I live in Ohio.

2. You cannot get the Hawaiian Red Snapper  (one of the only Red Snapper varieties to not be overfished and on the “do not eat” list) in Ohio.

3. If you could get the whole darn thing, Brad and I could not eat an entire fish.

4. Who would eat the eyeballs and brain without Steve here?

So, I set out to make a more mainland friendly version. All of the ingredients I used are easily found in Ohio, and I have both a chicken and a seafood version. So, if fish isn’t for you… stick around for the chicken.

Hang tight.

And hang loose.

I’ll walk ya through Uncle Steve’s recipe, and at the end I’ll give you our mainland version.

Dear Fish,

Thank you for giving your life for us. It meant a lot. Truly.

You were delicious.

XO,

Leah

Those are fish guts.

Know who likes fish guts?

This little guy.

So, this big guy shared the guts with the little guy.

Steve took the whole gutless fish and placed it on a Ti leaf, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and then wrapped another Ti leaf around it. He wrapped the whole bundle in foil, and he put it on the grill.

It both grilled AND steamed it.

Magical.

Here he is all cooked up.

Squeeze a little lemon on our buddy, Mr. Fish.

And a bit of soy sauce.

Now.

Oh now.

Now is the part that changed me.

On this plate is chopped garlic, ginger, and macadamia nuts.

Yes, please.

In this pan is oil. When it gets to the perfect temperature, the oil will bubble a bit around the chopsticks.

When it bubbles, toss in your plate of wonder.

Well, don’t toss.

That’s hot oil you are dealing with. And it could splatter. And that would hurt.

As soon as it hits the oil, oh Sweet Mary Patricia.

It is the smell of the islands.

When it gets a little golden, you are golden.

And you should pull it off of the heat.

Take that whole sizzling pan and pour it over Mr. Fish.
It crackles and adds those flavors to the entire dish.

Sprinkle it generously with chinese parsley (aka cilantro) and green onion.

Did I mention that Mr. Fish had to lose his tail?

Know why?

Because the house we rented had a small grill, and poor Mr. Fish couldn’t quite fit.

Look at that spread!

Pretty fantabulous.

In Hawaii, we had this with pad thai, white rice, seared ahi tuna, and a delicious green salad.

The after dinner show was pretty entertaining too.

Uncle Steve partook in the fish eyeball.

I cannot overstate how nasty this eyeball looked. The lens of the eyeball looked like a small white eyeball.

Sick.

But Steve is an island boy, through and through.

So, he slurped up the ball of eye.

Now, this is my cousin.

He is my uncle’s mini-me.

And he wanted the other eyeball.

At the very least, he wanted to be like his dad.

By the looks of his face, I’m not so sure he actually wanted the eyeball.

And believe me, he was even more unsure he wanted the eyeball once it was in his mouth.

Ha.

Did I mention that I’m from a family of good eaters?

Now, trust me when I say that even if you are not a seafood person you have to try a version of this dish.

It is so delicious, and on a cool fall day it will take you away to the islands.

I roasted some chicken tenders that were coated with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

350 for about 15-20 min (depends on the thickness).

I also wanted to try this dish with tilapia- a pretty easy-to-find fish in Ohio.

I used the frozen version from Kroger.

Get out a piece of parchment paper, and give it a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Place your defrosted fish down and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

Cover with another sheet of parchment paper.

We’re making a little pocket to steam the fish in while its in the oven.

This method keeps the fish super moist.

Have I ever mentioned that I rather loathe the word  moist?

Start at one corner and fold it like this:

Move over a couple of inches, and fold it again:

Keep going and folding!

Until it looks like this.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly sealed, but you want a pretty good pocket for some solid steam action.

Put it on a piece of foil or on a pan so that if juices start to flow, they don’t flow directly to the bottom of your oven.

Pop that into the oven with the chicken for the last 10 minutes of the chicken cooking.

Again, this will vary based on the filet’s thickness.

If you have paper thin tilapia filets, you could need as little as 5-6 minutes.

Take a peek, and if they are white all the way through- they are done!

Now, I fried up the garlic, ginger, and macadamia nut mixture.

I’m going to insist on mac nuts. Normally, I would say to be flexible and use what you have.

But the mac nuts take it over the top.

They really do!

Put your meat on a pan, and drizzle the most flavorful goodness over it.

Please note, I forgot to add a squeeze of lemon juice and about 1/4 cup of soy sauce.

You should not forget this step.

But rest assured, if you do, it will still be deeeee-lish!

Top with cilantro and green onion, and pop it on a plate!

I served it up with a roasted butternut squash casserole with blue cheese in it (recipe is coming soon). So stinking good.

I’m convinced that the garlic/ginger/mac nut along with the cilantro/green onion topping would be delicious on just about anything.

I’m thinking that I might need to try it on shrimp and scallops next.

Yes, I think so.

Know what would be perfect with this?

A pina colada.

Or a mai tai.

Or a glass of crisp white wine.

Have a great weekend!

If you are feeling inspired, transport yourself to the islands with this dish.

XO,

Leah

When I was growing up, I had it good.

Really good.

I would come home from school, practice, or a friend’s house and my mom would have a well-rounded dinner prepared.

Every night.

The meals would always contain a salad, protein, carbohydrate, and a vegetable.

And we always, ALWAYS sat around the table together (yes, all seven of us- many times with extra friends there as well) to eat and talk and spend at least 30 minutes together as a family every day.

And look how well we all turned out!

You know, even in my teenage years when I could be a little less than pleasant (shocking, I know!) dinner around the table was just what we did. There was no complaining… it was a routine, an expectation, and in retrospect it was one small thing that kept us all informed and engaged in one another’s life.

As a side note, Brad and I keep the same tradition now. I think it is far too easy- especially when it is just two of us- to plop in front of the TV with a plate of food on our laps. But I like the sit down, no distractions, focus on each other, focus on the food dinnertime plan.

And look how happy we are!

I grew up in a healthy food environment.

I’m forever grateful for it- I know it has helped shape me into an independent healthy eater that loves to try new things.

Additionally, my  mom made sure that her kids all had basic kitchen skills before we left the house to be on our own.

Let me say it again- I know that I was crazy fortunate to have a home cooked meal every night and about a billion other blessings as a kid growing up.

There is one area, however, that leaves me feeling slightly gypped.

We never, ever, EVER had breakfast for dinner.

I did not even know this was a thing until later in life.

And when I encountered breakfast for dinner for the first time, I knew my life was forever changed.

I think there is something calming and homey about a hearty breakfast after a long day of work.

And thankfully, breakfast for dinner is about as easy as it comes in the preparation and execution department.

The other nice thing is that I almost always have enough of the breakfast ingredients on hand that I can whip something up without having to stop at the store for anything to complete the meal.

And after a long, frustrating, or particularly tiring day, there is nothing better than breakfast comfort food for dinner.

Believe that.

So, with the craziness in our lives lately, I have not been super inspired to get creative in the kitchen.

Here is the quick and super simple dinner (but you can make it for breakfast or brunch) that I whipped up.

I didn’t have a whole lot in my fridge, but I did have some eggs and some potatoes.

For my carb, I decided on some hashbrowns.

Take your potatoes and use a cheese grater to shred them. I had a mixture of red, yellow, and purple potatoes which made for a pretty little mixture.

After they are shredded, use an old (yet clean) kitchen towel to wring out the extra liquid.

Heat a pan over a burner on medium.

Drop in about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil along with 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Put your potatoes in one flat layer that is no more than a 1/2 inch thick.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Now, leave them alone.

After a few minutes you may want to peak at the bottom.

The goal is for them to brown slowly and evenly.

You’ll know your pan is too hot if it gets extremely brown quickly. If that happens, simply turn your burner down a bit.

If they aren’t browning at all, turn up your heat.

Simple stuff, people!

Once they are a good brown color, flip your potatoes over like a giant pancake.

If you are like me, your hashbrown will break in half and it will no longer be picture perfect.

But that is perfectly ok, because it will still taste delicious.

Salt and pepper the other side.

Take your spatula and divide the hashbrowns into servings.

Shred a little cheese on top, if ya like.

Keep those in the hot pan until you are ready to serve.

Next up, my protein… the incredible, edible egg.

I love a fried egg especially. So, I put a good pat of butter in the pan, and crack in an egg. After it cooks a bit, I give it a careful flip. I like all of the whites cooked, but I love a runny yolk.

But eggs are a great ingredient because you can fix them anyway you like… fried, scrambled, poached, sunny side up… the list goes on and on.

I piled my hashbrown on my plate, and I topped it with my egg.

And then for good measure, I added a little more cheese on top.

I served them with these roasted tomatoes and a simple berry salad.

Oh, breakfast for dinner. I’m so glad to have you in my life.

Have a good one my friends!

XO,

Leah

I hate hugging.

Hugging makes me feel as awkward.

Speaking of awkward, Sarah and old John are looking pretty darn uncomfortable hugging above.

I should perhaps explain my feelings a little more.

I like to hug the main man, my parents, siblings, and my most dearly beloved friends.

I loathe hugging co-workers.

Or casual friends.

Or acquaintances.

Or someone I just met.

Some people actually do that.

Meet someone and then end up hugging them goodbye.

I don’t get it.

And I don’t like it.

It’s nothing personal.

I just don’t like pressing up against another person. I find it weird.

Which may make me weird.

And I’m ok with that.

The end.

XO,

Leah

P.S. Just realized that maybe I don’t really mean it when I sign each post “XO”. Please don’t “X” or “O” me next time we see each other. It makes me have sweaty palms just thinking of it.

P.P.S. I’m self-aware. I have issues. And I’m cool with them.

Note: Click on the recipes tab above this post for the full catalog of Seven Hills Recipes.

Our household is entering in to an insanely busy time.

There are lots of exciting happenings for us right now, but it does mean more dinners for one.

Tear.

Sniffle.

Sniffle.

Cry.

Sob.

Wait?

What’s that you say?

Mama O is back on with her final season?

Well, then.

That is a different story entirely.

I’ll happily take my meal for one and spend my evening watching the Mighty Opes.

And that is exactly what I did just the other night.

This dinner was for one. But I made extra to pack for lunch the next day. This recipe could easily be turned into dinner for 2 or 4 or 12.

A couple of weekends ago, at my brothers wedding, my mother-in-law brought us a present from a recent trip.

Wine flavored barbecue sauce.

Hello, lover.

I didn’t want to wait to use this treat!

So, when the man was working late, I decided to put the gift to good use.

Raw chicken in a bowl.

Nothing says delicious and yet disgusting quite like raw chicken.

Bleck.

I put just enough barbecue sauce in to coat the chicken. I put the airtight lid on the container and I stuck it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

You, of course, can use any barbecue sauce.

Pick one that floats your boat.

In the meantime, I threw together my salad.

I actually really love salads.

Especially the hearty kind with lots of toppings and flavors.

Spinach on a plate:

Chop up a ‘mater:

And some cuke:

Drain some black beans:

And sprinkle some on top:

Hmmm… at this point, I’m looking in the fridge trying to figure out what else would be delish.

What do I like?

What do I want?

This is the true beauty of cooking for one.

No one else’s tastes or opinions matter.

And sometimes being selfish is fun.

So, guess what I found??

Yep, Bacon!!

So, you know some of that is getting crumbled on top.

Random hard boiled egg.

Sure.

Why not?

Avocado.

Mmmmm. Hmmmm.

Let’s throw that on.

Some crumbled blue cheese on top.

Yummers.

Just two things missing at this point,

Chicken and some dressing.

For the chicken… pull it out of the fridge.

I desperately was hoping to grill these up.

But, it rained.

And the ground and my poor thirsty plants desperately wanted the rain.

So, I settled for a non-stick pan.

And I put down a little extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.

And I threw my bbq covered tenders in about 5 minutes on each side.

Right before they were done, I wanted a little more of that winey barbecuey saucey.

So, I slathered some on.

Chop it up, and on to the salad it goes.

For dressing, nothing I had in the fridge was feeling quite right.

So, I took a little ranch:

Added in a bit of the barbecue sauce:

And I think a splash of hot sauce.

Oh yes.

Mix it all together.

And drizzle on your salad to top it off.

Grab a glass of this:

And maybe some of these (for you know how Mama O rolls):

Sit down in front of this:

And snuggle in for some special one-on-one time with your BFF:

Happy eating friends.

XO,
Leah

My big brother got married this weekend, and it was the happiest weekend.

So many dearly beloved friends and most of our family gathered to celebrate the bride and groom.

I brought my camera and took a total of ZERO pictures.

Oopsie.

All Photos courtesy of Jane Mowery Photography

The Groom with his sisters.

At the rehearsal with the bride

The big day!

The Clarke girls with our mama

Loved the bridesmaid dresses!!

To J&J,

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon the fields.

May the light of friendship guide your paths together.
May the laughter of children grace the halls of your home.
May the joy of living for one another trip a smile from your lips,
a twinkle from your eye.

And when eternity beckons,
at the end of a life heaped high with love,
May the good Lord embrace you
with the arms that have nurtured you
the whole length of your joy-filled days.

May the gracious God hold you both in the palm of His hands.
And today, may the Spirit of Love find a dwelling place in your hearts.

I’m beat!

Back tomorrow with a new recipe…

XO,

Leah

I would like to go on record stating that the dog park is the greatest invention ever.

We have been making trips there several times a week to wear our ding dongs out.

Miss Jackson (the lab) and LolaBelle (the basset mutt) L-O-V-E love it there.

And all of the dogs provide much entertainment for their owners.

The instant we get through the gate, Lola is off. And she does not care where we are, what we are doing, or if she ever comes home with us again.

Because she has found a new friend, and in her mind they are exactly the same size and they will be best friends forever.

Until this guy comes along. He is her best friend forever and ever, amen.

Oh wait. What’s happening over here?… she better go check out over here.

This poor guy was quietly meditating in the glorious shade when all of a sudden he was bombarded.

Now, Lola is off hounding. She runs with her nose to the ground. She’s collecting clues.

To something.

I’m sure of it.

Please note that I have no close ups of Lola because, as I mentioned above, she has forgotten that we exist.

Completely.

She is too busy playing with these ding-a-lings.

Please also note that Lola only likes to play with big dogs.

She and this sweet-as-pie doberman wrestled (rather Lola kept getting body slammed) for a solid 30 minutes.

Are you wondering about Miss yet?

Want to see what she’s up to?

She’s with her best buddy.

With whom she stays the entire time.

No kidding.

She is always within a three foot radius.

Does she want to play?

Oh, yes.

… but only with Brad.

There is ONE thing in the dog park that can coax Miss from Brad’s side.

Because there are only two things that this dog loves: us and water.

And the dog park doesn’t disappoint.

Fortunately, it is really clean water.

Look at these yahoos.

There, that’s better.

While Miss is at the dog spa, Lola is still playing wrestlemania with Doberman.

Could she be any cuter? I think not.

Something draws Lola to the water eventually.

Us?

No.

Miss?

No.

Mama?

Mama?

Is that you, Mama?

No?

OK, see ya!

Dog ownership is not difficult when you have a dog park nearby.

On our way out, these big boys were coming in.

I honestly think you could put a saddle on one of these sweet babies.

Our ding-dongs played for about an hour.

Then, it was time to say goodbye.

These dogs are the worst at goodbye.

We headed home, and we gave thanks for the gift of the dog park for it gives many good things.

The best, best, best part of the dog park?

Lola and Miss pass out for the remainder of the day.

Glory be.

XO,

Leah

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