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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Eve Traditions

To me the holidays just aren't the holidays without family traditions.  When I think of Christmas eve there are three traditions that stick out in my mind.  I can remember as a little kid being just ask excited about Christmas eve as I was for actual Christmas!  Christmas Eve meant spending time with my family, church, delicious food, and the anticipation of Santa.  Even to this day my sister and I set out milk and Cookies for Santa its all apart of the Traditions.

As a young child I could not imagine Christmas Eve without these four things.  Christmas Eve Service, Wild Rice Soup, The Night Before Christmas
 and new PJS!  My mom always makes the most amazing Wild Rice Soup for out Christmas Eve dinner (no questions asked it just what we do), and following our meal my family is all allowed to open one present each, new PJs to wear for Christmas! And despite my dad being a doctor and working Christmas Eve every other year non of our Traditions were ever over looked!  I remember one year going to church, coming home for dinner and my dad immediately leaving for the hospital.  Later that evening my mom drove my sister and I to the ER in our new Christmas PJs stuffed animals and all for my dad to read us The Night Before Christmas.  There is nothing more special or memorable as my dad taking the time at work to partake in a family tradition, its a memory that sticks out in my head!

Today I thought I would share my moms Christmas Eve Wild Rice Soup Recipe:
From The Best of Byerly's-this is by far the best I have had!
makes 7 cups:

6 Tablespoons Margarine
1 Tablespoons Minced Onion
1/2 Cup Flour
2 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
2 Cups Cooked Wild Rice
2 Cups Cubed Cooked Chicken
1/2 Cup Shredded Carrots
1/2 Cup Skim Milk
1/2 Cup Half and Half

How to prepare:
Melt margarine in saucepan; saute onion until tender.
Blend in flour; gradually stir in broth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil;  boil and stir for 1 minute.  Stir in wild rice, chicken, and carrots.  Simmer about 5 minutes.  Blend in half and half and your milk.  Heat until warm enough to serve.

Enjoy a Wolfe family tradition for our home to yours!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Me from A-Z

I have seen this done on so many blogs and loved the idea! Most recently I saw it over at Emily's blog All You Need Is Love!  I figured it would be a fun post for this Tuesday morning, so here it goes everything about me from A-Z!  Enjoy!

A: Age: 25 Wow!
B: Bed Size: Full but I would love a King size just for me because I love to sleep smack dab in the middle! I love lots of fluffy pillows too!
C: Chore you hate doing: vacuuming

D: Dogs my family has two Prince a little black shih tzu and Baxter a golden retriever who thinks he is a lap dog!
E: Essential Start to Your Day: Oatmeal with of course a huge glob of Peanut Butter in it, and coffee!

F: Favorite Color pink but I never wear the color, and orange!  If we are talking favorite color for clothing its hands down neutrals!

G: Gold or Silver it depends.  But I love mixing gold and silver pieces.  I mean come on David Yurman does it!

H: 5'3" and 1/4 (I so wish I was taller, my younger sister is 5'8")
I: Instruments you play: I played violin for 10 years, and then started playing the piano.  I still sit down and play the piano from time to time.  It is one of the things I do to relax!

J: Job Title-well currently I am a financial representative at the Mayo Clinic-I am still trying to relocate to Columbus Ohio.

K: Kids, love them.  I used to work for the YMCA of Indianapolis running my own before and after school program!  It was a blast but a lot of work!

L: Live-Currently Rochester Minnesota, but hoping to relocate soon to Columbus Ohio!
M: Mothers Name Lou Ellen, or Madre, or Momma Wolfe
N: Nick Names, Hills, Squilly, Stump, H Dog, H Wolfe Hill Billy, HeeHaw, capetillar- thats Marks 
O: Overnight hospital stays: once it was not a fun one.

P: Pet Peeves when people break plans at the last second, and people who chew really really loud.

Q: Quote from a movie:
Agnes: Aw. My Caterpillar never turned into a Butterfly!
Edith: That's a Cheeto.
Agnes:  oh!  (then eats it)

"Love can't always be perfect Love is just love"
-The Wedding Planner

R: Right or left handed: right but I always tried to write with my left!  

S: Siblings I just have one younger sister Miranda.  She is a junior in college at Creighton University!
T: Time it takes you to get ready, well that all depends on where I am going!  If I am getting ready for work about an hour (thats including breakfast) if its a special occasion well heck it could take hours!

U: Underwear all you need to know is I love Victoria Secret, and Nordstroms.

V: Vegetables you hate, well I can't say I really hate any vegetables.  I pretty much love them all, give me sometime I am sure I could think of one I dislike!

W: What makes you run late:  Thats an easy one my outfit!  Getting ready to go out in college I would try on 6 different outfits and always end up wearing the first one out!

X: X-Rays you have had well I have had full body x-rays after finding a bone tumor in my hand.  I have also had a MRI of my left foot.

Y: Yummy food you make.  Banana pancakes!!!  Oh and Texas Sheet Cake (hello chocolate)!
But my mom makes the best Strawberry Dumplings and I seriously need to learn to make them!
Z: zoo animals I love the otters and the seals!  They were always my favorite!

Have a fabulous day everyone!!

Is There Anything Better

I don't know about you but to me there is nothing better then this time of year!  There is so many things I love about the holiday season that is upon us.  I love the Christmas Trees, the decorations, and yes even the massive amounts of snow we get up here in Minnesota!  But most of all I love the spirt of giving, and spending ample time with the people I love and care about the most!  I don't think it could get any better.  
So Here is to a fabulous Holiday season full of family, celebration and joy! 

I hope every one of you had a wonderful Holiday Weekend and Thanksgiving!  Here is to a great week (hopefully it goes fast)!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Perfect Addition

I think that this
needs to make its way on to your Thanksgiving Brunch menu!
I mean whats not to love about eating cake for breakfast.  I am not talking about just any cake I am talking about a coffee cake with subtle pumpkin flavor, and ribbons of cinnamon and brown sugar!

You know this coffee cake has to be good when I tell you that this particular coffee cake won the seal of approval from my pickiest critics!  Now thats saying something!
So at this time I am going to stop talking and share the recipe with you!  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Coffee Cake 
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar 
1/4 Cup Chopped Pecans (optional)
1 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon 
1 Cup Granulated Sugar 
1/4 Cup Butter Softened
1/2 Cup Egg Substitute (or 4 Egg Whites)
1/2 Cup Fage Greek Yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 Cup Pumpkin 
2 Tablespoons Water 
1 Teaspoon Canilla Extract 
1 3/4 Cup FLour 
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
6 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar 
3 Teaspoons Apple Cider

Pre Heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a bundt pan with cooking spray.

Combine your first 3 ingredients and set aside.

In a mixing bowl combine sugar and butter.  Beat with a mixer until well blended.  Now add your egg and beat for 3 minutes.  Add in your yogurt, pumpkin and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Whisk together and make a well in center of the mixture.  Now add your sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients.  Stir just until combined.

Now grab your brown sugar mixture you combined earlier.  Set aside 3 tablespoons in a separate bowl. .Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar mixture over the batter.  Gently fold the batter 4 times. 

Pour batter into your greased bundt pan, and sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Let your cake cool completely before turning out onto a serving plate.   
If you wish to glaze your coffee cake combine your powdered sugar and juice in a small bowl.  Stir until smooth and drizzle over the top of your cooled coffee cake!

Slice and enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving with Dayna

Thanksgiving is two days away!  And I don't know about you all but I am getting super pumped about the holiday!  I have another great holiday themed guest post for you today!  Todays post comes to you from Dayna of A Bama Bell and a Bucket List!  I was hooked on Dayna's blog the first time I read it!  She is a southern girl who talks about everything from fashion to her deep love for the Alabama Roll Tide.  So enjoy this fabulous guest post and then go check out her blog!  

Hi there all of you Happily Ever Healthy readers! Dayna here from A Bama Belle and A Bucket List! When the lovely Hilliary asked me to guest post for her holiday series she’s doing, there was no hesitation to agree to do it!   I love this time of year because people seem to slow down,  breathe and remember the ones who we care most about, especially once November rolls around.   I’m not talking about slowing down physically,  I’m talking about mentally, because we all know the hustle and bustle that tends to start after Halloween can’t be considered “slowing down”!   Holidays are all about family time and traditions,  two things Ibelieve a lot of us take for granted other times of the year.
A brief  history: I was born in Georgia and moved toAlabama at the age of nine when my dad’s job was transferred.   My entire familystill lives in Georgia so every year,  each holiday is just spent with just myparents here in Sweet Home Alabama. No huge family gatherings,  no sitting around a pretty decorated table,  nothing Hollywood about it,  just my parentsand I enjoying the yearly traditions of cooking,  eating, watching football,  entering a food coma for a few hours and then eating again.
It’s a tradition on Thanksgiving for my mom and I to stayin our “comfy clothes” all day and cook the big portion of our meal while my dad slaves away and cooks the duck or turkey. He gets to tackle the manly part of cooking. We prepare a huge feast y’all, as if we’re feeding the entire town, enough food that we’re still eatinga week later. A typical Thanksgiving meal includes duck or turkey, homemade macn’ cheese casserole,  green bean casserole,  sweet potato casserole (a lot ofcasseroles! Hello, I AM from deep Southern roots, here!), deviled eggs, cranberry (we make it from scratch), dressing,  rolls, and then atleast two desserts.   All for three people. That’s a whole lot of food!  
This year we’re adding in something new to our traditions.  This past weekend, my parents and I went through our closets in the house andgathered coats and clothes that were taking up space with the plan to donate them all to a local Hannah Home here in Birmingham.  Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for the all the blessings you have in your life, so one thing I’m thankful for is having extra clothes to donate to less fortunate people who need them. In return, those people are able to be thankful to have others to a smile on my face!
From what I’ve witnessed though, Thanksgiving doesn’t seemto be getting as much attention this season. I know everyone is excited about Christmas!  Stores  started putting decorations out in October, we had radio stations here in the Ham playing Christmas music even before Halloween, thereare even families putting their Christmas tree up mid November, all of which isstrange to me. I like to give each holiday their special time and appreciation.Even though the jolly good festivities of Christmas are right around the corner,we can’t overlook Thanksgiving since this is the holiday to be thankful foreverything you have, to be thankful to have the means to look forward to Christmas! I came across this picture a few weeks ago, I think it speaks for itself! 
Happy (early) Thanksgiving to y’all!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Traditions with Amanda

Well here is to another week!  only 3 days left till Turkey day, I can hardly wait (way excited for my little sister to get home Tuesday)!   Today  I have my wonderful friend Amanda of Life In Every Word here to share some of her Thanksgiving Traditions, and a Yummy recipe!  Amanda and I have known each other for years, she is my college roommate, sorority sister and partner in crime (we have lots of great college memories)!  You really need to go check out her blog if you haven't already! She talks about life as a recent graduate from pharmacy school, fashion and all things girly.   So take it away Amanda!

Hey everyone!
 First of all thanks to Hilliary for asking me to do this guest post! What a great idea! I've always considered Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays. My family has done the same thing for Thanksgiving since I can remember. We all wake up early to start watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We have cinnamon rolls for breakfast while enjoying the parade. Our favorite part has always been when the Radio City Rockettes perform!
We always have all our extended family over for Thanksgiving and my mom starts cooking well in advance. We usually get a huge 24 pound or bigger turkey! Now since Hilliary’s blog is all about food, I thought I should add a recipe that we always have at Thanksgiving to this post. Although I’m not sure how healthy this recipe is, I’m sure Thanksgiving is an exception to eating healthy ;-)

One dish my mom always makes is Peas With Bacon
You’ll need:
8 slices bacon
3 cans of peas
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon Vegeta seasoning
½ teaspoon of pepper

You may be wondering what Vegeta is. It’s a great all-purpose seasoning that has been a family tradition forever. My grandmother, great aunts, mom, etc. use it as seasoning usually in place of salt in almost everything from soups to sauces to meats, poultry and fish. You can find it in most grocery stores.

Back to the recipe! First you chop the bacon into small pieces and cook in a saucepan until crispy. Then drain the fat out. Next add the cans of peas along with the water that’s in the can. Bring this to a boil. Add the tomato paste, vegeta, and pepper. Turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Now you’ll have yummy peas to add to your Thanksgiving feast!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Yours Truly,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Thanksgiving with Ashley!

I am so excited to have Ashely of Places To Go, Things To Buy her to guest post today about her Thanksgiving traditions, and what she is thankful for!  I have known Ashley for years, and she is one of my besties from the Butler Years!  If you have not checked out Places To Go, Things To Buy you really need to!  Go as soon as you finish reading this post.  You will fall in love with her humor, stories and fashion focused blogs!  But before I ramble on and on I will turn it over to Ash!!  

Thanks, Hilliary, for having me!  Grab a cup of coffee!  Let’s chat.
I’m Ashley from Places To Go, Things To Buy!  Hilliary and I have been besties for many years and now we’re bloggie buddies!  I love Hill’s blog—she has the best recipes and it’s always fun to see what she’s up to!

Thanksgiving has to be one of my favorite holidays, if not my very favorite!!  Now that I am married, my husband and I split up the holidays with both sides of the family, so for the past few years we’ve been doing Thanksgiving with my family down in Miami, Florida and then we do Christmas with his family in Dayton, Ohio. 
Thanksgiving has always been my Mom’s thang…..she has the BEST food ever and one day, when I’m hosting my own Thanksgiving, I will make all the same food as her!  Oh, and did I forget to mention, I am the youngest of 6 kids (yes. I know.) so Thanksgiving is the one holiday where everyone is together, which makes it even better!  Did that rhyme?  Yea, kinda.
Back to the food….I’ve been making popovers for the past couple of years for Thanksgiving and it’s been a big hit!  I make the Neiman Marcus recipe with the strawberry butter, found here.   And just to rattle off a few of our dishes: Chestnut stuffing (my absolute favvvv!), sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, creamed onions, homemade gravy, honey glazed carrots, green beans with almonds, and of course turkey…but that’s my least fav!

And of course for desert is a homemade apple pie (LOVE!) and pumpkin pie served with fresh whip cream and ice cream.  Yummm….clearly I’m ready for next week!  I’m so happy I still get to enjoy the same traditions I grew up with, but now we have more people around the table as we’ve all gotten older and found significant others. 
So, our Thanksgiving traditions are waking up and cooking all morning….eating around 2:00 PM…..falling into a food coma around 4:00 PM….. go out to a movie around 6 or 7 PM…..come home and eat more…..then go to sleep!
So what am I thankful for this year?

I am very thankful to have such a loving and awesome husband, who is my bestest friend in the whole world!
I am very thankful for my family, and being able to share yet another wonderful holiday with them!
I am also very thankful for my health and the health of those around me. Never take anything for granted!
Thanks for having me Hilliary!! Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving and stop over to my blog sometime! :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Traditions with Meg of Henning Love

Hello everyone!  I have the fabulous Meg of Henning Love here today to share some Thanksgiving Holiday Traditions with you.  If you have not checked out Meg's lovely blog you really need to.  Meg's blog is one I look forward to reading everyday.  Her thoughtful posts, honesty, yummy treats, and beautiful DIY projects keep me coming back!  So without further a due I give you Meg!

Hi readers of Hilliary's blog! I'm Meg and I write henning love and I am quickly going to do a commercial, I have a giveaway over on my blog that ends today. It is for a heart necklace from OliveYewJewels, please come enter.  Ok commercial over :-)
She asked me to write about some Thanksgiving traditions that I had growing up or anything Thanksgiving related. Before I begin, I want to briefly mention that I love Hilliary's blog. Her recipes are amazing, I mean that tzatziki with couscous salad, I mean c'mon give me a huge spoon to dig into that!
Ok onto my family traditions. First, let me preface by saying that Thanksgivings were usually just my immediate family since my dad was in the Air Force, so we didn't have the huge family gatherings until I was about in 7th grade when we lived near family. The food was pretty traditional, however, my mom did change some items a bit to blend into where we were living at the time. When we were in Japan, we might have used Japanese mushrooms and miso into a few of the items. Where they live currently, you will find my mom adding chipotles and other Mexican inspired ingredients into the Thanksgiving menu. Regardless of where we were living, I could always count on being active the morning of Thanksgiving, usually participating in a local turkey trot. Even when my parents started coming to my place for Thanksgiving, we still continue the tradition of being active. Whether it was a turkey trot or a bike ride, I could always count on that. Here are a few photos of the various Thanksgiving mornings from the last few years.
Last year!
Long Beach turkey trot
Please excuse the bad photos
Family bike ride pre-marriage
Now that I'm married, I have been thinking about traditions that I want to have in my own family, what legacies I want to pass on to my own children. First, I would love to continue the tradition of a turkey trot (hey, that is what baby running carriages are for). I want my children to know the importance of working out, exercising and taking good care of your body. Second, the other tradition I would like to participate in either the week of Thanksgiving or the morning of Thanksgiving is helping out at the church that we attend with their Thanksgiving outreach or serving at a Thanksgiving dinner at a soup kitchen. I know my children to know the importance of volunteering, and giving back to their community.
Those are some of the traditions I have in my current family and would like to have in my future family, the human version of furbabies :-)

Another part of Thanksgiving is blending the traditions that I grew up with Sean's family's tradition. I have to arrange Thanksgivings that are a blend of what I am used to and what my husband grew up doing in his family. For me, the next way I can do that is to cook some of the items that my mother-in-law does for her Thanksgiving menu. Two of the items that I have included in my Thanksgiving menu that is from Sean's family is a cranberry salad called St. Tropez salad, and banana rolls or the Pillsbury crescent rolls. My husband loves those rolls so I buy them for him. Then in the evening of Thanksgiving, Sean's family always watches, Christmas Vacation, which is a great movie, there are too many funny scenes!
The great thing about Thanksgiving is the blending of traditions and creating new traditions within my own family. These are just a few things that I love about Thanksgiving and the traditions my family and Sean's family grew up with and creating new traditions that Sean and I choose to create with our own future family.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, knowing how blessed you are wherever you are and thankful for the many awesome things you have in your life.
Thank you again Hilliary for asking me to guest post!
xoxo, Meg

Monday, November 7, 2011

Homemade Snacks

I love reading health magazines, I especially love the tasty and healthy recipes that many of the magazines feature. Usually these recipes are torn out of their magazines, placed into an unorganized folder aka the black hole of recipes!   This particular recipe was saved from the black hole of recipes!  These homemade granola bars remind me of my baked oatmeal only thinner.  The smell that filled the kitchen was delicious, sweet cinnamon, oats and brown sugar.  Nothing better then having something sweet in the oven!  The great thing about these granola bars is most of the stuff you probably have in your pantry right now, I made a few substitutions to my liking but they turned out great!  These bars will be the perfect addition to my healthy snack drawer at work!

Homemade Granola Bars
Adapted from Women's Health, November 2011

1 Cup Pecans
1/2 Cup Walnuts
(I used Walnuts and Pecans in place of Soy Nuts and Pumpkin Seeds)
1 1/2 Cup Quick Cooking Oats 
1/2 Cup Nonfat Dry Milk 
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar 
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon 
1 Egg 
1 1/2 Cups Plain nonfat Greek Yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla 
1 Cup Craisons and Raisons (instead of dried cherries)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
In a food processor combine your walnuts and pecans.  Roughly Chop.
Combine your chopped nuts, oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.
In a small bowl whisk your egg, yogurt, and vanilla together.
Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients.  
Stir to combine, now add your craisons and raisons.  
Pour batter into a 13x9 greased baking dish and bake for 25 min.
Cut into 15 equal bars.  
You can keep these bars wrapped individually in plastic wrap for up to three months!  To me these are way tastier then any store bought granola bar, so go make them right now!
Enjoy and remember to live Happily Ever Healthy!

Do you stock your desk at work with healthy snacks?

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Happy Friday to everyone, I have the perfect recipe for you to make this weekend.  Yes, this is the Jambalaya recipe that I promised you all yesterday!  There is a little story behind this vegetarian jambalaya.  You see, there is restaurant in Dayton called Meadowlark.

 I went there with Mark and his family to celebrate my birthday and Mark's new job.  Long story short, Meadowlark had a fabulous vegetarian jambalaya filled with eggplant, squash, zucchini, and tofu!  Lets just say that this is a dish that I knew I wanted to attempt to recreate and I think Mark and I got pretty close!

Mark and I followed this recipe from Taste of Home.  Next time I am going to substitute two cups of chicken broth for the two cups of water!  Otherwise this recipe got a two thumbs up from Mark and I!

Vegetarian Jambalaya:
1 Medium Onion
1 Cup Chopped Celery
1 Cup Red Pepper
1 Cup Fresh Mushrooms
1 Cup Zucchini (Mark and I added)
3 Cups Tomatoes (we used 2 cans of tomatoes)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Cups Water (I suggest subbing in chicken broth for more flavor)
Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper and Parsley to Taste ( we used a cajun blend)
Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt for Topping

First chop all your veggies, Mark and I rough chopped them.  Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and cook veggies until tender.  Add your garlic and saute another minute.
Stir in the tomatoes,
rice, water or chicken broth, soy sauce and the spices.
Transfer your jambalaya to a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.  Place in a pre heated 350 degree oven and bake for 65-70 minutes (or until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed).
Mark and I decided to bake chicken and tofu to top or veggie packed jambalaya with!  It was delicious, I cannot wait to try this recipe again with chicken broth!

Enjoy, Happy Friday and remember to live Happily Ever Healthy!

Have you had a great dish at a restaurant that you have wanted to recreate?  Have you been successful?