Photo Share 12/18 and Chinese Chews by Spaniards

Hi friends! How are you all? Please bear with me because I promise this post will be all over the place! I know this is a little out of the ordinary that I am posting a photo share in the middle of the week, but I realized I never got around to one of my favorite weekly Monday posts, and better late than never, right?! Plus, part of my weekend included baking up a storm with my Abuela, and I wanted to share one of my favorite Christmas cookies with you guys. They are called Chinese Chews, and my Abuela has been making them since she learned the recipe in Home Ec. class she took in college almost 70 years ago. Yes, she has been making these cookies for SEVENTY YEARS – so you know they’re delish!

photo 1 (14)

Chinese Chews

Ingredients

1 c dates

1 c walnuts

2 eggs

1 c sugar

¾ c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 stick of butter

Directions

In a large bowl, mix dates, walnuts, and a well-beaten egg. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to first mixture. Melt butter and add to the combined mixture.

Pour the batter into a greased pan and bake at 350 degrees until brown (about 15-20 minutes for my oven). Remove from oven, let cool a bit (but not completely) for several minutes, and form into balls. Roll balls in sugar or powdered sugar.

chinese chews

Pack them up and pass them out to your favorite friends and family 😉

IMG_1775

Rewinding a little further back from our afternoon in Abuela’s kitchen.. I spent the entire weekend with my parents and it was awesome! Derek was out of town for the weekend to attend his sister Davis’ graduation in Auburn (yay DAVIS!!!), so it gave me several days to catch up with my family.

The picture below basically sums up my weekend. Shopping with Mom and Dad – I begged them to bring Lou since we were shopping in Hyde Park (a very dog friendly environment!!!)
photo 5 (9)

Dad got stuck with the awesome job of holding Louie while Mom and I shopped. At least Pottery Barn was considerate enough to provide him with a place to sit back and relax!

photo 4 (9)Some delicious (if I do say so myself) butternut squash and black bean enchiladas. BOY OH BOY did these HIT. THE. SPOT. as enjoyed them while we watched our man, Jameis Winston, win the Heisman on Saturday night! I can’t wait to share this recipe with you later this week!

photo 1 (5)A Christmas Mani. Because how else do you expect me to look at my fingers at work every day before Christmas unless said fingers are festive?!

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A treat I have been enjoying recently out of Santa’s head is almond milk dark hot chocolate! I have a hot mug of this almost every night – and it’s even (somewhat) healthy!

And one of my FAVORITE pictures from the last week….photo 1 (13)Derek and I have a Christmas tradition of an ornament exchange every year. We typically have the exchange 1-2 weeks before Christmas, sitting by the tree, with a mug of hot chocolate.. This year was a special year, as we got our first house and I got Louie! Derek and I both surprised each other with custom made ornaments – I got him one modeled after our first home, and Derek got me Louie’s face painted on an acorn 🙂 This year’s ornaments are definitely my favorite!!!

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week  – only 7 days left until Christmas, let’s enjoy this joyous season while it’s right in front of us!

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Veggie Packed Chicken Soup Because I’m Freezing Cold

Hi friends! How goes life? I am just cruising along this week, working and counting down the minutes until the holiday season officially begins! I’m so ready to begin Thanksgiving day with a Turkey Trot 5K Race with my dad and Derek. We all decided to run together this Thanksgiving, instead of trying to set PRs. None of us have been training for speed lately (Derek and I have been preparing for our upcoming half marathon), so we thought it would be nice to run together this turkey trot!

Dad

I’m so excited that the weather in Tampa will be chilly this Thanksgiving. Who wants 80+ degree weather during the holidays? Not this girl! As you can see from my picture from last year’s turkey trot, I was sufficiently freezing (don’t let my dad’s outfit fool you – it was in the 40s and that’s cold for us down here!).

Speaking of chilly weather…. As the temperature outside starts to get a little cooler ( in the 60s here in Tampa, and that’s cold for us), I always start to crave soup more than any other time of the year. What warms your heart more than a large bowl of homemade soup? Nothing, that’s what.

Last weekend, I was really longing for some homemade soup, and we had tons of veggies and chicken on hand that I put to use to create this vegetable packed chicken soup! Here’s the recipe, I hope you all enjoy!

Veggie +  Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces chicken tenders, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 28 oz. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons orzo (or another tiny pasta)
  • 3  cups packed baby spinach

 veggie soup

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add chicken to pan, and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. In a large pot, add zucchini, onion, oregano, and salt and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, white wine, and orzo, and cook on high heat until the soup begins to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 more minutes. Add in spinach and chicken and cook for 2 more minutes.

This soup is the perfect meal for freezing and re-heating on chilly nights or as a special lunch treat at work. I enjoyed the soup 3x this past week and it didn’t grow old once!

veggie soup 4

Buon Appetito! And enjoy your Turkey Day-Week 🙂

Siete de Mayo

Today is my lovely parents’ 30th Wedding Anniversary! I can’t even wrap my head around how long 30 years really is, but I feel so lucky to have them in my life as an example of what it will be like to marry my best friend..

The cuties in Sintra, Portugal last summer

We celebrated their 30th as a family this weekend on Sunday at Bonefish Grill (dad’s fav. place on earth). 15 of us came together to celebrate the couple of the hour, and tons and tons of food was devoured and fun was had.

Aren’t they just the darn cutest?? I wonder who copied who on the pink outfit choice..?

A little table decor at BFG
Celebratory desserts from the delicious Datz Dough

As a part of my gift basket to my parents, I thought it would be funny to remind them of some important things that happened in the year 1983 when they got married.. I know you’re dying to know as well:

  • Popular movies: Flashdance, Risky Business, Starwars: Return of the Jedi
  • Popular music: Billie Jean (MJ), Every Breath You Take (The Police), Elton John, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart
  • Important Events: Ronald Reagan is President, Sally Ride is the first American woman in space, McDonald’s introduces the McNuggets

I presented this list to them in their gift basket with their “Southwest Style Breakfast Party for Two” I gave them this morning 🙂

Love to all!