Smoothies and Omelets

Good morning! I can’t believe it’s Saturday already. That means in two days I will be back at work. Until spring break. Oh wait, I’m not in college anymore. I don’t get a spring break, do I? Ok this is depressing, let’s not talk about this anymore.

On a more positive note, I am finally getting the relaxation that I have needed on this vacation. I am still trying to fit in a little exercise, but taking advantage of having very little set plans and pampering myself. I tagged along with Brooke to her gym on Thursday for a class she takes called Strike. Oh em gee. I am NOT as coordinated as I thought I was. It was fun over all though and definitely nice to switch it up from the usual running/abs routine I am used to. And I am still feeling sore from the workout.

After our class, Brooke and I grabbed protein shakes from the cafe at the gym. Blueberry-raspberry for me and strawberry-banana for Brooke.

Yum. Brooke’s boyfriend Adam got me some vanilla protein powder for Christmas, so I am excited to get back home and start making my own protein shakes for breakfast! I think yogurt and bananas with the powder will make a great smoothie. If you make your own, do you have any ingredient suggestions??
One thing I love about being home (in Columbus that is), besides spending time with family and catching up with friends, is eating at my favorite restaurants that they don’t have in Charleston. One of which being First Watch
First Watch on Urbanspoon
This was our first stop after getting off the plane. While I normally would have the Trifecta (waffle, but I sub a pancake instead, bacon and eggs), I knew I also would be hitting up Bob Evans while I was home and wanted to save my pancake craving for that trip. Instead, I got the Healthy Turkey omelet served with an english muffin.
I wasn’t sure if the omelet would be satisfying enough, but it was better than I imagined. This was my first omelet from First Watch and will not be my last. As much as I love the Trifecta, the omelet won me over. The one disappointment I had was that they ran out of the muffin of the day, which was blueberry- my favorite. I always look forward to their muffins, but had to settle for the english muffin instead. Oh well, at least it was healthier….if you care about that kind of thing.
After eating out for just about every single meal for the past week, I refuse to eat out today. I am in detox mode and looking forward to feeling like normal again. Even if it is just for today, because tomorrow is Bob Evans time!! But THEN I will really get back on track 😉
Hope you have a great time celebrating the new year tonight! 

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A NYC Christmas – In Pictures

I’m baaaaaaack.
Did you miss me? I hope you all had a great Christmas. I sure did, but I missed being able to keep up with my writing. I am now home in Columbus for the next few days and looking forward to getting back on track and spending time with my family. It is GREAT to be home. 
But boy do I have a lot of catching up to do! Since I could go on and on for hours about all of my experiences from the trip to NYC, I thought some pictures might be the best way to share everything. After all, pictures are worth 1,000 words. And let’s be honest, the majority of the pictures I took were not of me and Greg or famous sights, but instead the food! So today we are just going to focus on those important pictures 🙂
Ok, now we can take quick break. What you see above are red velvet waffles. And they were one of the highlights of my trip. I will go into more detail about these another day, but I couldn’t leave them out of this post. 
Moving right along….

I think I had the opportunity to try most, if not all, of authentic New York-style foods…and much, much more. It was all pretty good, but I am glad to be back in a town with reasonable restaurant food prices. It was getting a liiiiittle ridiculous. The best deal we had were $5 margs during happy hour at a mexican restaurant. I was thrilled about that one. 
Before I go, I have to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to Greg’s parents who took us on this trip. I got to see/do so much and enjoyed all of it. I am so grateful to be included in their family vacation and for them taking care of me and treating me like one of their own. I can’t say thank you enough!
Talk to you all tomorrow!
And P.S. – If you didn’t know already, I have created a Facebook page for the blog. You can “Like” the page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Counting-My-Cupcakes-Blog/268429909871376
Thanks!

Early Vacation and Christmas Cut-Outs

Today is officially my first day of Christmas vacation!! I was originally supposed to work today, but found out last minute that I had an extra vacation day or two that I hadn’t used and my boss told me I could take the day off. This was great news since Greg and I weren’t going to be able to leave until tonight, but now we can leave town much much earlier. 
We are headed to meet his family in NC this afternoon, then we all leave first thing tomorrow morning for NYC! I am so excited it is finally here. I really don’t have words to describe how excited I am. Because after what I know will be an amazing trip to NYC, Greg and I are flying straight to Columbus to see my family for a few days. 
It’s going to be an awesome vacation to say the least with some much-needed family time.
Don’t mind me while I backtrack in time for a minute….
We had a small office potluck at work yesterday and I contributed with my frosted sugar cookie cutouts
I have made these several times now (here, here and here). I just can’t stop. If you need a sugar cookie recipe, this is it. Hands down. No questions asked. 
The snowmen are my favorite. I decorated only two this way, then realized it was going to take me way too long to do all of them that way and I was getting tired. So I settled for sprinkles. But those were just as cute. 
Sugar cookie cut-outs are a tradition at my house and baking these the other night put me in the Christmas spirit even more so than I was before. Then I got to start my vacation a day early? I am loving this! 
With my big trip coming up, I honestly don’t know how much I’ll be on the computer (aka blogging), so please forgive me if I go missing for a few days at a time. I will try to check in as often as possible, because let’s face it, I will be missing you more than you miss me. 
Oh and I need some help before I go….if you have been to NYC, what do you recommend I see/do? (I have been once before in the summer, but I know there is so much more out there that I didn’t see before). 

East Bay Deli

It took me a couple of years living in Charleston until I discovered the deli with the biggest menu in the world, or as more commonly known: East Bay Deli. 

East Bay Deli on Urbanspoon
It was my brother Austin who took me for the first time. As if the main menu isn’t enough, there is a chalkboard full of daily specials to add to the already difficult decision. But ever since my first trip, Tessa’s Turkey caught my attention and has held it ever since. 
Greg and I stopped by before going to the aquarium on Sunday. At first I thought I was in the mood to sway from Old Trusty Tessa. But when a line quickly built up behind us and I had to make a quick decision, I stuck with Tessa’s Turkey. Even if I was in the mood to try something new, I needed much more time to make sure the change would be worth it. It just wasn’t meant to be. 
Tessa’a Turkey=Smoked turkey breast, cream cheese, avocado spread, bacon and grilled onions on a kaiser roll. 
I have always loved the cream cheese/turkey combo. I think I got that from my momma. That, combined with bacon and grilled onions, makes one delicious sandwich. 
The bread for this sandwich was different than I remembered. I don’t know if they ran out of the white roll they used to use, or if they made a permanent menu change, but either way it was for the better. The whole wheat roll with some grains on top added more flavor and texture than the old version. 
Greg stuck with his go-to sandwich too.
The Ham and Pineapple Melt. This is one of their daily specials, although it is on the menu every single time we go. Sooo I don’t know why it’s considered “special.” Anyway, Greg has never gotten anything besides this sandwich and probably never will.
Both sandwiches (and all of them for that matter) are served with potato chips and a pickle spear. Every once in awhile I’ll swap for fruit, but for $1.79 extra, it’s upgrade I don’t always like to take. FYI, most sandwiches on the menu range from $6.99-7.99.
Some of the sandwiches can be big enough for two meals (depending how hungry you are obviously) and with such a wide selection, you really can’t go wrong with East Bay Deli. Besides the lunch sandwiches, they have wraps, salads (including a great salad bar), soups, bagels and breakfast sandwiches. Andddd desserts! I have never had one, but they have ginormous cakes behind the counter. One day….

Sea Turtles, and Graveyards and Tortellini…Oh my!

What a weekend! 
Sorry for being MIA yesterday for my usual Sunday Blessings. Not that I wasn’t feeling blessed about anything, it was just much more of a hectic day than a typical Sunday around here and time got away from me. 
Greg and I started the day with church then headed straight downtown. We went to the market to pick up a few Christmas gifts, grabbed lunch at East Bay Deli (post on that tomorrow) and visited our friend Megan at the South Carolina Aquarium!
Megan works there and has been inviting us for a behind the scenes tour for months now. 
My favorite were the sea turtles. They even have a sea turtle hospital where sick and injured turtles are rehabilitated. This guy was my fave…
Then there were the more creepy animals. Like the snakes.

 Yeahhhhh, no thanks. I just about took off when the snake started slithering up Greg’s arm!

The view from outside of the aquarium is gorrrrgeoussss. 
This is where I live. I’m so blessed. Makes it hard to complain about anything when you can see views like this everyday. 
After our awesome private tour of the aquarium (thanks, Meg!!), we headed home and took a much needed nap. Then, with some energy built back up, Greg and I took a walk through the paths behind our complex. A few weeks ago on a walk we discovered an old hidden graveyard! Greg wanted to pay it another visit, although I’m too sure why.
It’s kind of creepy. And really, I feel like we are the only ones who know about it. I’m probably wrong though. Obviously someone knows, because there are pots of fake flowers everywhere. 
We made it out alive, no ghosts to be found, and were ready for dinner! 
Greg made himself a frozen pasta meal and I made myself tortellini. I LOVE tortellini so much that my brother often tells me I’m going to turn into one 😉 This particular past was Trader Joe’s Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Tortellini and it was delish. I added about half of a baked chicken breast leftover from a few nights ago and topped it all off with tomato sauce, grated parm and pepper. 
The rest of the night was pretty quite. We plugged in the Christmas tree lights, grabbed some bowls of ice cream and watched Netflix shows alllll night. 
How was your weekend?

Bricco Bracco Part 2

Was it just me, or did this past week draaaag on and on? Well, it’s finally over so I’m not going to dwell on it any longer. 

My weekend started off great. I even got off work about 45 minutes early. When I got home, Greg and I watched a couple episodes of The Office with my free trial of streaming Netflix. We have been spending every evening this way for about two weeks now. After I let Greg get his “Office fix,” we headed to one of our favorite spots for dinner: Bricco Bracco!
Bricco Bracco on Urbanspoon
We have been there a couple of times before (see my last post about it here), and every time it has been just as good as the last. 
I was already planning on ordering a bottle of wine before we even got to the restaurant and was excited to try the wine on special for $17 (originally a $30 bottle)! What a deal.
The bread at Bricco Bracco is ahhhhh mazing. I usually try to be careful not to eat too much bread in order to avoid filling up before dinner, but I couldn’t help myself. And I didn’t care one bit. 
Last time we went, Greg’s mom had some sort of butternut squash ravioli that was on special. I was hoping it would be on the menu again last night, but it wasn’t. Just as good though was the Lobster and Shrimp Ravioli.
The picture hardly does it justice, because all you can really see is that delicious vodka sauce. But take my word for it. This was probably my favorite meal at Bricco Bracco yet.
Greg had the Chicken Marsala. He commented that the chicken was bland, but the marsala sauce made up for it. 
I’m already looking forward to dinner tonight, because the leftover ravioli is calling my name.
Today my mom is hosting the family Christmas party at our house (in Columbus…not Charleston). To all of my family reading this, I wish I could be with you all today! I already saw pictures of the baking extravaganza my sister had yesterday to prepare for the party and I am so jealous. Maybe I will have a Christmas party of my own this afternoon so I feel like I’m part of it all. Ok, that probably won’t happen because I will actually be running around trying to do last minute shopping!
Hope you all have a great day!

Better Each Day

The fridge and kitchen cabinets around here are getting pretty bare. It is making dinnertime more difficult this week, but Greg and I are finally getting through some nonperishable and frozen foods that have been filling up space for so long now. It is nice to actually see some of it disappear rather than let it uselessly sit on the shelves another day. 
I didn’t plan it this way, but this method is saving on the grocery bill and also helping de-clutter before we leave for Christmas next week. It’s a win-win situation.
Almost.
See that tiny slice of pizza there? That was my dinner Monday night. Neither Greg or I felt like cooking  the little food we did have, and despite my insistance on wanting to eat a healthy dinner, Greg made the executive decision to heat up a frozen DiGiorno. In order to keep my commitment to healthy eating this week, I limited myself to one serving of the pizza: 1/6 of the pie. I steamed some baby carrots to eat on the side. Like that helped. Ha!
The pizza was amazing, no surprise there, but I was left unsatisfied with such a small amount.
I made sure to change things for Tuesday’s dinner.
Harris Teeter’s subs are delish and enormoussss. And when it’s free that makes it ten times for delish. How did I get it for free, you ask? Well with their VIC card they keep track of every time you buy a sub from their deli. You get one point for every half sub, and when you get 15 points, you get a free WHOLE sub (so enough for Greg AND me). 
I don’t really know how the sub points on Greg and my’s VIC card have been going up and up for the past month or two, because neither of us have been buying them. But somehow we had more than 15 points racked up and cashed them in for a free, much more satisfying than the one slice of DiGiorno, dinner. I realize although it was more satisfying, it was probably also about double the calories. But it was whole wheat bread and loaded with veggies. Whatever I have to tell myself, right? 😉
Then there was last night. 
Healthy and satisfying. AND I finally cooked the lemon-herb pre-seasoned chicken breasts in my freezer. 
I baked the breasts, topped with a little bit of cheese, then made it into a sandwich on a whole wheat bun. For a side, I sauteed sliced yellow squash, zucchini and onion. 
Dinner on Monday didn’t turn out so great, but each night has gotten better and better. At this rate, I should be having dinner at a five-star restaurant by the time Sunday rolls around!