Let the Adventure Begin!

Recently I took on a new job. But as these past three months have gone on, I realize this isn’t the place for me.. So where am I going to next? No idea. I just know that I’m going to have fun wherever I go and enjoy the adventure that comes along with it.

I’m young, determined and so ready to try new things.  I just have to be fearless and not take no for an answer! Prove myself because this career isn’t for the faint of heart.  Obviously.  Work at places that will continuously bring me closer to my goal in life.  Owning a restaurant. Which seems to be every Chef’s dream, but some settle for less and some settle for working under someone else. I’m determined to have my own place, and to get there I need as much experience as I can get!

On a side note, later this week I will be taking an adventure to Gilmer, Texas! My family is apart of a four wheel drive club and we are going to MegaRun! Anyone ever heard of this?

Hundreds of families come out to the mountain this weekend with their Jeeps, Wagons, Dune Buggies pretty much any vehicle made into a four wheel drive is out there. I mean HUNDREDS of people! It’s so much fun! I’ll definitely be posting tons of pictures and video if I can figure out how to post one of those up here. haha. So stay tuned for that!

Now on to the best part of the blog, the FOOD! I have a crazy recipe for you today.  A Kale Salad with some interesting flavors. :)

I can’t seem to link the picture on here, but you can find it on my Instagram! http://instagram.com/p/kn9MTcjbkG/

Kale Salad:

1 package Baby Kale

3-4 Blood Oranges, peeled, segmented

2 Small Red Beets (pickled, recipe down below**)

1/4 cup Pecans (chopped)

Quick Pickle Beets: 

2 small beets, sliced thin into triangles, or whatever shape you like

1/2 c water

1/2 c apple cider vinegar

1/4 c sugar

2 T pickling Spices

Instructions: 

Mix the pickling liquid and spices together and add the beets, let sit for at least 20 min, or longer!

Toss ingredients together with vinaigrette and enjoy this flavor explosion in your mouth!

 

Vinaigrette: 

Juices from the blood oranges (from segmenting them..)

zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 T honey

salt and pepper to taste

6 T olive oil

Instructions: 

Whisk together the ingredients, taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.  I like my vinaigrettes  sweet, so I added a bit more honey until I liked the taste :) But make it however you like! add more flavors or completely do another vinaigrette! Make it your own and let me know what you came up with :)

Enjoy!

-April

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What is passion to you?

I’ve been trying to think of how to write this entry for quite a while now.. I’ve been asked this question so many times I have an answer memorized. Is that sad?
What is passion to you? What are you passionate about and why? So let me tell you what I’m passionate about… FOOD! Why? Well because it makes me happy, seeing the people I serve food to have a huge smile on their face. Then they take a bite of the dish and have a face of wow this is delicious and then you get the satisfaction of knowing you made someone’s day better by serving them delicious food. And then voila your day is better because of the smile on their face.
That right there is what drives me to think of new recipes. Ways to concoct something so strange, yet at the same time it’s delicious. That is what gives me passion.

Well let’s go a little more into this subject. What got you started in food?
Honestly when I was two years old I watched this movie called Matilda, and as I watched her make pancakes I stood there like I want to do that too! so my dad said the next day he woke up to the smell of bacon cooking and heard some clinking around in the kitchen. Thought to himself I’m alone in the house with my two boys and my daughter. Those boys don’t know how to cook, let alone work a stove. and then he realized it was me out there in the kitchen, he stepped out in the hallway looked in the kitchen and saw me on my step stool cooking bacon and eggs and mixing pancake batter! And then he said he left me alone because he was afraid if he said something that I would hurt myself on the gas stove haha. Thus began my never ending dream of becoming a chef. Here I am today living my dream, I graduated culinary school and I’m working my way through this career, determined to one day have my own restaurant.

That is where I am today, I work at a unique and trendy place and I’m allowed to create “specials” every week. I receive comments about some of my dishes and that just makes my day. Especially when they say that it was phenomenal. MAKES. MY. DAY.

Moving on, this is where I’m going to ask you now: What are you passionate about?

It can be anything. Just think about what makes you happy or what pushes you daily. And right here, right now.. What pushes me is my job, my family and of course this blog, I constantly think of new recipes to share with you guys, yet I just need to get them on here -_- but I will get there you guys, I will get there!

 

Have a good day!

-April

Days 3 and 4. Be a Kid. Again.

Okay so I didn’t update much yesterday because it was too late when I got home and I was being lazy about typing up an entry… So welcome to the wonderful world of matrimony! hahaha. I’m combining days 3 and 4 BECAUSE I CAN! :)

Today I have tonssssss of pictures to show you. :) But let’s start with what went down yesterday :)

 

I went on a Whale Watching Tour! Saw about 3 different whales, but the captain said there were at least 12 whales out and about when we were on the water.. HOW COOL IS THAT?! I took quite a few pictures of a few whales fluking and then I have some of Dolphins!! It was so beautiful. Amazing. Wonderful. Awe-inspiring.. Need I go on? You get the picture. The trip was very educational, and surprisingly that was a nice turn for a vacation! Normally I’m just like “give me the food and everything will be okay.” haha But this time it was neat to have something really educational instead of just oh yeah, that’s cool. Move on to the next photo..animal…building  whatever it was that you look at on vacations.

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Next we went walking around in Newport Beach.. That place is ridiculously expensive… but my word they had some delicious food. And I loved that the kitchens were open! They had display kitchens!!! It was so awesome.

 

food

 

We sat right by the kitchen. Talked to their sushi chef and then I just stared off into space watching all the cooks work on the line. haha It’s crazy how lost I get and basically tune everyone out to see them work. But up above we had Sushi that was tempura fried and contained tuna, salmon, avocado and asparagus. The sauces, however I have no idea what they were but they tasted amazing.  Bottom right was my dish, Kai Braised Honey Mustard Beef Short Rib with buttered mash and broccolini. ‘Twas delicious and I believe nutritious ;)

 

Moving on!  Day 4.

 

We went to Universal Studios. Craziness. I don’t think I need to explain so I’ll just show you some pictures I liked the most. :) Enjoy, my friends.

 

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In NYC.. with my Oh, Sleeper shirt. They are my all-time favorite band, by the way. I just thought you should know. AND maybe you should go listen to them… :)

 

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For those of you who don’t know…. I am a HUGE Fast and the Furious fanatic.. I love those movies. All of them. They have fast cars and some of my favorite actors and they make me happy watching them. :) This Skyline (pictured above) is the car Paul Walker drove.. my my my what a wonderful car. YES.

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Marilyn!

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Water World. This was a pretty crazy skit they did. A guy falling into the water that was on fire… As well as tons of explosions. That was fun. Apparently a lot of famous actors did this skit for us!

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Going through “Little Europe” That was neat. And of course the classy Irish picture.. because, well, I’m Irish. c:

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Largest Hot Topic store I have ever seen in my entire life. I bought some new gauges that were on sale :D

And I love Jamba Juice so I had to take a picture of this really cool signage. :)

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End of the day! A lot of fun!

 

Okay one last note.. While we were on the Tram tour… They were filming a Ross commercial (one of my all time favorite stores to shop…) AND they were also filming The Mindy Project… Also another show I enjoy watching. All in all it was really fun and exciting. The rides were enjoyable and the lines were nothing like they are at Six Flags. Universal Studios… I might come back to see ya. ;)

 

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

-April

Day Two. Fun In The Sun.

I went to the beach yesterday. Got a little burned. But I’ll blame that on me being super pale and there not being enough sunscreen in the world to protect me! Then I walked back to the house from the beach, which I thought was a lot closer… turns out it was not that close at all. At least I got my exercise for the day because I haven’t been running this week. Whoops…

beach

 

But the day got better, we went and took a trip into town towards Dana Point, and went to Hobby Lobby, Whole Foods and then the movies :)

We saw Wolverine. And by the way, that movie was pretty  awesome, not very much storyline to it, but its Wolverine, you can’t go wrong with that Marvel character. :)   What did you guys think about the movie? Or any of the Marvel movies in general? My favorite movie would be The Avengers, but my favorite character would have to be Captain America haha.

 

Back on track here… So after the movie we came back to the house, My aunt has fresh lemons she picks from her yard so we had lemonade and then we made a Meyer Lemon Creme Brulee! Yummmmm. Made dinner. Which I made my signature Bruschetta Chicken and Grilled Asparagus haha. And since California apparently doesn’t have sweet potatoes!!!! (I was in shock by the way..) I had to get a white sweet potato, which tasted a little different than the normal ones we get in Texas, but it was good enough for me last night… wasn’t as creamy but it was good nonetheless.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures. I will have another soon :)

Have a good day!
-April

Separation anxiety

Wow… I’m kind of disappointed in myself you guys.. I can’t believe I didn’t post anything all summer. I have taken loads of pictures and everything with every intention to post an entry with my new recipes and so forth. Shame on me. I apologize for being a poor blogger. Haha

So the separation anxiety title. Means many things in this case. I’m away from my parents and my boyfriend for the first time ever on a trip. And also because I haven’t been taking good care of my blog like I should be! But that should change because I’m asking that you keep me accountable and I have also asked my boyfriend, Drew to keep me accountable and do my entries! I have so many ideas and I want to share them with my fellow readers. Y’all are my support group! :)

With that aside, this week for sure I’ll be on track because guess what!!??
I’m on a trip. By myself. I feel so grown up you guys. Wanna guess where I am? :)
I’ll give you a hint, it’s on the west coast!
And I’ll be posting pictures soon of my travels and then finally tell you where I am! Hehe I like playing games so join me and lets play the guessing game! :)

Much love,
April.

Nature At Its Best!

Lately I have been in the photography rage mode. Yes, rage. I think that basically sums up how I feel about my camera. Not the kind of rage that is like someone going crazy angry and such, but this rage is going to go towards the obsessive, I want to take a picture of everything. And I love it. You can never capture too many memories. As they say a picture is worth 1,000 words.

With that said, I would like to share with you my trip to my grandparents house in Arkansas. They have a lot of land and the most wonderful part about it? Theres only two houses and the rest is beautiful land that God created! :) How awesome is that? You go to Texas and it’s like concrete jungle, you go to their house and BOOM nature at its best!
We only got to stay the weekend, but in just a few short days we sure do get a lot of stuff accomplished.  Hiking, shopping (with the girls of the family), fish fry, games, talking and of course some frozen yogurt! We always have a frozen yogurt trip when we go to Arkansas because that is when I finally talked my dad into going and then he discovered this wonderful treat so after that it has become a tradition! Since I have been on this picture taking mode lately I went on a hike and just took random pictures or of things I thought were cool or beautiful and so forth and so on.

Anyways… How about some pictures? :)

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their front yard! with a pond!

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the railroad tracks in the back of the property, it just goes into nothing but trees and then a really beautiful bridge!

 

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This cute little dog’s name is Cricket :)
and to the right is the dutch oven we fried the hushpuppies and fish in! Nothing like good ol’ cast iron to cook in :)

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Well I hope you enjoyed this post!

-April

Shrimpies and Superfoods!

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Spring time has actually started showing its face here in Texas now. Rainy days and nights, little bit of thunder. It’s quite nice. :)
I have a salad for you today, my fellow readers… And it fits the summer salad category more, but its Texas and the weather is so bipolar that, well you can eat it whenever ;)

So this is a superfood salad I assume that is what you would refer to it as.  Kale, Swiss Chard, pecans, purple onions, dried blueberries and green apples.  Deliciousness in a bowl. Yes. Paired with a light vinaigrette. Winning!   So onwards with this awesomeness! I really do like Kale… in fact, its slightly bitter taste is growing on me. I like how at first its kind of sweet then goes bitter and when you pair it with sweet toppings it tastes wonderful and balanced. Yay! As I was making this I also thought that it needed some meat, so I added some little shrimpies to the mix :) Yes, I said shrimpies.. because I’m cool like that.. ;)

The wagon pictured below was just so cool I couldn’t resist sharing it with you guys :)

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This wagon is so awesome, I couldn't resist not sharing it with you guys!

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Recipe time! Needs a cool name.

Delightful Kale Salad

Serves 6-8

1 bunch Kale, chopped

1 bunch Swiss Chard, chopped

1/2 purple onion, thinly sliced

1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced

1 c pecans

1/4 c dried blueberries (or other dried fruit you like)

2 T organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar

2 T brown sugar

1/2 t salt

1 t black pepper

5-6 T olive oil (or walnut oil)

 

Method:

Chop, rinse and dry your Kale and Chard.  Prep all of your other ingredients.

Make the vinaigrette. Mix the vinegar and brown sugar together. Whisk to dissolve the sugar a bit, add salt and pepper whisk again. Then drizzle in the oil as you create and emulsified dressing! Congratulations you just made a simple yet elegant salad. :)

If you chose to add shrimp like I did here is what I did :)

Shrimpies: 

2 lbs shrimp peeled and deveined.

2 t smoked paprika

2 lemons, juiced

2 limes, juiced

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 T coconut oil

Method:

After your little shrimpies are prepped and ready to go. Mix them with the paprika, lime and lemon juices, salt and pepper. Let it mellow together for a bit as you toss your salad all up.

Heat your pan add the oil and then saute those bad boys up. Top your salad with them and enjoy!

 

I hope you enjoyed this salad recipe and as always let me know if you added or changed this recipe in any way. Get creative! Make it your own! :)

-April

 

 

Rat-tat-tat-touille!

Why yes, I made Ratatouille. It was delicious. My family devoured it in seconds.  Successful? Duh! And to answer your next question.. Of course I will share the recipe with you! :)

But first, I have some news!! I got a Nikon D3200 camera!! Happy (Late) Birthday to me! I was super excited to open that box. It was awesome and I love my camera. I will now get to bring you wonderful images of yummy food. YES!

Is it just me or do you ever find yourself just looking at the pictures of food rather than looking for that recipe you had intended to look for in the first place? I find myself doing that pretty much everyday and let me tell you, I find some really amazing pictures. I just sit there saying to myself “I want to take pictures like that…. I hope I can make my pictures that beautiful…” etc etc. I’ll spare you the pity. haha.  So with that said, you will now be joining me not only in my (interesting?) life adventures but also as I play around with my camera and share with you the pictures that give way to an adventure themselves.  EXCITEMENT!!!

Look at that steam!

Look at that steam!

Steak :)

Steak :)

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Alrighty, Recipe time :)

Ratatouille

Serves 5-6 People

2 yellow squash

2 zucchini

1 eggplant

4 roma tomatoes

4 garlic cloves

1/2 red onion

2 celery stalks

1 1/2 T tomato paste

water (add to the thickness that you would like)

salt and pepper to taste

Italian seasoning

1 t coconut oil

 

Method

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

-Mince garlic, chop onion and celery.  Heat coconut oil in a pan, add garlic, onion and celery and cook until translucent.

-Meanwhile, thinly slice the eggplant, squash, zucchini and tomato.

-Once your sauce is done pour in the bottom of your oven-safe pan. Layer on your vegetables, I did zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and tomato.. repeat, repeat, repeat!! until you go in a circle and completely fill the pan.  Top with Salt and Pepper and sprinkle over the Italian seasoning. Voila!

-Bake until tender, mine cooked about 25-30 minutes. But then again I cooked it in a cast iron skillet I had preheated. Also I cooked them uncovered the first 15 minutes and then covered them to steam them a little the last 10 minutes.

 

—-You can also top this off with cheese and then broil it to make it GBD! (Golden Brown and Delicious :) )

 

I hope you enjoy!

-April

 

Challenge Accepted? Yes, Please!

It’s been a while… I have been meaning to get on here and share many things with you fellow readers! But today I made a semi-Paleo dinner and that is what I’m going to share with you guys.

I got to thinking and I have decided that I will be doing Paleo in moderation for a bit.  Maybe by doing this I can get the rest of my family on board with me in doing the full on Paleo “diet.” Slowly but surely we will go full on Paleo! Hopefully!  We had a grain in our meal tonight, and to be more specific, it was Quinoa. But hey! It’s not like quinoa is terrible for you!  There is a large amount of fiber, vitamins and protein in that little grain/seed.. whatever you want to call it.

The more I started thinking about this whole Paleo in moderation thing for us, the more I realized that 90% of the time before I had already been cooking semi-Paleo! I started reading more and getting more involved in this, and that’s when I started finding it more difficult to plan meals every week and such. I don’t want to slide off of the path, if you will.  Granted I was doing just fine without reading all of this extra stuff.  Now that I am becoming more educated it is quite nice to have conversations with people and get to explain what in the world you’re doing and why you’re eating such things.  I think this way of eating is way better than eating frozen crap that parents just stuff their kids with for dinner every night.  It’s sad really.  Kids are growing up not knowing how to cook a scratch meal for themselves, let alone a spouse and eventually their family.  In a way it kind of depresses me.  I mean I started cooking around 3 years old, and from then on I started cooking dinners for my family.  I think that children should be involved more with family.  Turn off those video games, the iPads, your cell phones… etc. Get involved in that kitchen! Or do crafts, work in a garden.. Heck, go play paintball or air soft! All of it is fun! Hiking, fossil collecting, four wheeling… It is all so fun and good for you! Exercising, playing sports, going to church.  There is so much to do. Yet no one seems to do anything like that anymore.  Technology has taken over! :(  So after reading this, I want to challenge you to  go out with your family or if you’re not married yet, go out with friends! Do something active and good for you.  Whether it be running, drawing, baking, hiking, road tripping or even gardening it is still an activity that frees your mind.  You will be amazed how stress free it is when you can just escape and relax for a while.  Do it! You’ll love it, I know you will. :)

On to this Semi-Paleo Recipe.. That I sadly have no pictures for.. but it was delicious by the way!

 

Grilled Shrimp Packets with a Pineapple Salsa

(serves 4-5)

1 1/2 lbs shrimp

1 cup quinoa

1 bag of baby spinach (or more!)

2″ piece of ginger minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno, minced

3 roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1 pineapple, cubed

1 lime, juiced

1 bunch of cilantro, minced

1 avocado, cubed

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

Fire up your grill!

Partially cook off your quinoa.  (leave about ten minutes left for it to cook.)

Peel and devein your shrimp (if needed), combine garlic,  half of the ginger and half of your cilantro and toss shrimp in the mixture, season with salt and pepper as well.

You will use foil, about 18-20″ long.  Start with spinach leaves, then add the partially cooked quinoa and add your shrimp.  Pour over a little water.  Wrap your packet up and make sure that it is sealed decently well, you don’t want it to leak out on your grill!

Put the packets on the grill for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, other half of the cilantro, pineapple, lime juice, and the other half of the ginger in a bowl. Add salt to taste. This is your salsa.

Pull those packets off  open them up and serve with the salsa and avocado on top! Delicious!

 

Sounds good doesn’t it? I know you want to try it! This would also be a fun recipe to do with your kids because you can teach them how to clean shrimp, start a grill and basic knife skills! You can even piddle around in the yard if you wanted to while you’re waiting on the packets to cook! I hope you enjoy this recipe, just like my family did. :)

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and let me know how it turns out for you or if you made any changes!

-April

 

 

 

Day. Made. In 3…2…1…

Hello!

I’ll cut right to the chase… with a cliche! ;)

Today started out as a super retarded day at work. Someone called in, someone was out because of a serious cut to the finger…. So picture this. Three people on the line, and you have five stations to take care of… see the problem?

Well it is not too big of a problem because this seems to happen a lot. But its okay! We did it and it was semi-fun! Everything starts getting crazy because you’re having to run here and there and then mid prep you’re called to go take some retarded OSHA Blood-borne Pathogen test… A test that seemed to NEVER end! Which you know, it obviously did otherwise I wouldn’t be here writing this.. ;) After that finally back onto prepping for the day. I have about 25 minutes left before rush hits and then I remember I completely forgot to marinade the chicken for my special… Are you freaking kidding me?! — I really did say that, out loud. Maybe a little louder than I should have, but I could not believe I forgot to do that. I even had it on my prep list for the day. So rush rush rush got that marinade ready and the chicken in! BOOM! I win! All before rush hit. End of story… well end of prep. Lunch rush hits and it was interesting as always.

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My special! As I promised in my post with the recipe. Here is what it looked like all pretty and almost perfect!

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Sunrise on the way to work this morning. I know its not safe taking pictures and driving, but I couldn’t resist not taking a picture. Isn’t it beautiful?!

Here is where the day gets so much more interesting and fun and exciting and any other way to describe being happy feeling… SO, when I finally get a chance to step out for just a second to go to the restroom is when the day got a bajillion times better!!!  In the bathroom stall two girls walk in the room and were talking and the whole time I’m thinking I know that voice..  So I walk out of the stall and OH MY GOSH!!! It was Kylee!!!! I’m pretty sure people heard us out in the cafe, but we were screaming like little girls and hugging and laughing etc. It was awesome. Made my day and it was such a nice surprise! haha She was there being interviewed to play on the weekends in the cafe! How cool is that?! AHH!! It was awesome.

After that wonderful ending to work I then got to go hang out with the kids I nanny for. The little girl and her friend had piano today so it was me and the boy and my cousin came over for a play date! We went to Sonic then the park and drained some energy. Those kids are so goofy. They met some boy at the park and played for a while. And! the little boy they met complimented my lanyard!! He knew who Gravedigger was! WHAT?! I was shocked and proud at the same time and I didn’t even know the boy. When he said Gravedigger was his favorite I was like Oh yeah!!  Then I asked him if he liked the old or new driver and he replied with “The old one, duh!” I wanted to hug that kid. That’s the right answer little boy! Good job!

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After that, came home. Now here comes the good part…. DINNER! YAY!  I made grilled Balsamic Ginger Pork Chops with roasted Broccoli and Butternut squash with a twist. As always, has to have the April flair on it!

Nutty Vanilla Butternut Squash 

1 Butternut Squash, cut into 1/2″-1″ chunks

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Now starting with those ingredients put them on a baking sheet and toss the squash in olive oil and the salt and pepper.

Roast for about 20-25 minutes.

 

Then

Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp Ginger, minced

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla or Vanilla Bean Paste (I always use vanilla bean paste)

1 Cup Hazelnuts (You may use any nut you prefer)

Lemon Juice

Salt/Pepper

 

About 5 minutes before the squash is cooked heat a skillet over medium-high heat with the coconut oil. Add the hazelnuts toss to coat and cook for a few minutes until aromatic.

Add the squash toss to combine.

Add the rest of the ingredients and the lemon juice and seasonings will be to taste.

Then enjoy! :)

 

You will notice that I use Ginger A LOT… and that’s because its good for you!! And it tastes good :)

Anyways, this is probably the best way I have ever had Butternut Squash. Its just the right amount of sweetness you need but its not overpowering at the same time. Soooo good! With the roasted Broccoli, you can’t really go wrong with roasting anything.. I don’t think? As for the Pork Chops, anytime I use Balsamic Vinegar as a marinade I always and I mean ALWAYS grill it. It creates a nice caramelization on the meat and tastes wonderful.

Finished off dinner with some homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies :) … Paleo of course!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and let me know if you change it up or anything!

-April