2.27.2015

Cooking with Fresh Produce: Three Simple Recipes using Kale

Cooking with Fresh Produce: Three simple recipes using Kale


Since joining Papa Spud's at-home produce delivery service, I've been cooking with a lot of greens, especially kale. I seem to order kale and spinach more often than collards and swiss chard. Before joining Papa Spud's in January of this year, I rarely ate fresh kale and definitely didn't cook with it much.

Personally, I like all greens so adding kale to my diet and recipes has actually been easy for me. It's kind of ironic that before I joined Papa Spud's, greens and other winter vegetables caused me to be hesitant about joining the service. I was scared that I would not know what to with the foods when they arrived. I feared that I would get all of these funky vegetables that would make me panic on how to prepare them. That was just plain silly thinking because there are tons of recipes available that can help one cook with fresh vegetables. Also, Papa Spud's lets me customize my box each week so I can plan exactly what will be delivered to my home. If I don't want collards then I don't have to order collards.

kale is rich in many vitamins. It is a power food with many health benefits


My husband is not as in "love" with all greens as much as I am so he always gets this very "non-excited look" on his face when I tell him that I'm preparing a meal with kale for dinner. His favorite green is spinach. I do add that leafy green on my delivery in addition to kale because my son loves to eat raw spinach. We're still trying to win over my five-year-old on any leafy green in a garden. If we're lucky, she may eat one raw spinach leaf, and perhaps kale, if it is roasted to her liking.

Despite Will's lack of love for power greens, he's being a great sport and eats what I place in front of him these days We have found a few winning recipes that I'm going to share with you today. I have personally tested these recipes. You may want to follow two of my Pinterest boards if you have an interest in cooking with fresh produce in your kitchen: Leigh is Cooking with Farm Fresh Produce and Eating Healthier.

Roasted Chicken Legs with Potatoes and Kale 


Roasted kale is easy to cook along with roasting chicken legs and thighs
Sometimes I use thighs and chicken legs. You can purchase organic chicken through Papa Spud's. 

This particular chicken and kale recipe from Food and Wine.com is the best recipe I have found since beginning my quest to cook healthier. Everyone in my family seems to like this one. I have also prepared this recipe using just kale and no potatoes. I think this is one recipe that I found that is a true recipe staple for my family now. It gets four thumbs up from my family.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup with Kale


Soup recipe with kale as ingredient
Photo from Martha Stewart Living

This soup recipe enabled me to use sweet potatoes this winter and kale, both of which have been plentiful weekly on Papa Spud's order form. The kids ate pasta on the night I made this. They are not big soup eaters, but I thought this was great during our snow days. This soup recipe using kale is a Martha Stewart recipe. It is very simple. I also used healthy carb pasta in the soup rather than plain. However, Will and I thought this soup needed a little kick. I used a chicken sausage that was pretty mild in taste. We recommend adding a half of a jalapeno pepper to the soup, or definitely use spicy sausage when preparing.

Sautéed Kale with Cannellini Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, and Cherry Tomatoes 


Kale Power Lunch
Kale Power Lunch 

This last recipe is something I do during the day for my lunch. In the winter, I like to eat a hot lunch instead of a cold salad. This dish really does not have a recipe. I sauté the onions and mushrooms in garlic and olive oil. I add the kale and continue sautéing until the kale is wilted. I also add salt and pepper to the pan for seasoning. I add a few cherry tomatoes then I add a half a cup of cannellini beans. Once the beans are warm, it's ready to serve. No one eats this in my family, but me. I really like it.

The Benefits of Kale 

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is a members of the mustard greens family. It is filled with the essential vitamins A, C and K as well as minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. A cup of fresh kale has only about 33 calories ,but packs almost 3 grams of protein.
I enjoy reading about health so it's not uncommon for Will to joke that I have my own WebMD since I'm always looking up diseases.  This article on WebMD is actually a great resource about the health benefits of adding kale to your diet.

Disclosure: Papa Spud's is sponsoring this conversation today. Papa Spud's is a local produce delivery service in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. Read my introduction post on why I became a customer, and if you want to sign up for the service, please use my referral link. I have been a paying Papa Spud's customer since January 2015, and I love the service. Opinions about the service are my own. 

This post is linked up with Small Victories Sunday


2.26.2015

#outaboutNC Giveaway: The Downton Abbey Package at DoubleTree Asheville-Biltmore

#outaboutnc Giveaway: The Downton Abbey Package at DoubleTree Asheville-Biltmore. Ends March 31, 2015.


Asheville, North Carolina has made top travel lists this year as the number one place to vacation in 2015. That's NUMBER ONE in the U.S, folks. That is huge for North Carolina tourism. We've known about the beauty of Asheville for quite awhile now, and of course, we're all about the hotels on this blog. I am so excited to announce that I have partnered with DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore to bring you an outstanding opportunity to experience Asheville, the Biltmore Estate, and Biltmore's Downton Abbey exhibit, which is on display through May 25, 2015.

You have the opportunity to win the following through this special giveaway

  An overnight stay at DoubleTree Biltmore, with breakfast for two

 2 tickets to the Dressing Downton exhibit with audio tour at the Biltmore Estate

 Official Tour book of the Dressing Downton exhibit

 Arrival Amenity of English tea and biscuits


Some important notes about this giveaway:  The winner must be able to travel between April 7 and May 25, based on hotel package availability. One winner will be selected at random. Additional nights can be added to your vacation when booking at your own expense. 


Details about DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore 

The DoubleTree Biltmore Hotel is located in the heart of Biltmore Village and is 2 miles from Downtown Asheville. It is just a one-minute drive to the Biltmore Estate entrance.  It is a full-service hotel with newly renovated rooms.  And of course, guests will receive those delicious chocolate chip cookies at check-in. My kids love those cookies.  Breakfast is available in the Ducker's Tea Room, and at the new marketplace for breakfast on the go. This hotel is also pet-friendly and kid-friendly. That's good since I have two kids and we'll be checking this package out for ourselves in the spring. Kids will enjoy the indoor pool and there is a fitness center on site, too. 


Recenly renovated rooms at the DoubleTree Asheville-Biltmore

The DoubleTree Biltmore in Asheville is a full-service property with indoor pool and fitness center.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore is located at 115 Hendersonville Road, Asheville, North Carolina 28803.

Weekend rates for the Downton Abbey Package can run anywhere from $277 to $427 per night, depending on type of room booked and availability. Regular non-package room rates range from $209 to $350 depending on room type and availability. 

Visit the DoubleTree Asheville Biltmore website to plan your Asheville getaway today, and also explore the Explore Asheville website to learn more about the area. Call the hotel at 828-274-1800 if you would like more information about the Downtown Abbey package and rates for booking. 

Learn more about the Downton Abbey exhibit  at Biltmore from this previous post on the HinesSight Blog. 

Be sure to follow the #outaboutnc feed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Tag your photos to be featured on these account. 


If you have problems understanding the Rafflecopter system, please email me at hinessightblog@gmail.com and I will help you. To enter, log in with your email address or via Facebook. Do the entries that would like to do then click on the blue box on the right side under each entry option in order for your entry to be recorded.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: Biltmore Farms has a wonderful selection of hotels in the area for all budgets. See my previous post about my stay at the Hilton Biltmore Park Hotel. Biltmore Farms is sponsoring this #outaboutnc giveaway. I have not personally visited this property yet, but it is the official hotel outside the Biltmore gates to offer an official Downton Abbey package. 

2.20.2015

Eating Fresh Produce: Simple Ways to get in your Daily Vegetables

I'm starting to really love Fridays, and not just because it is the end of the week. Friday is the day that my Papa Spud's Produce Order opens online up for me to customize my produce box and meal plan for the following week. My produce is delivered every Tuesday based on my address, Every Friday afternoon (sometimes on Saturday, if I'm busy) I plan my weekly meals for the following week. I've been a Papa Spud's paying customer now since early January, and I have to honestly say it has changed my way of eating. And that's a good thing!

Farm-Fresh Produce: 5 simple ways to get in your daily veggies.


I have always loved vegetables, but never really bought them like I should have in a grocery store weekly, or at least, not like the vegetable variety I am now buying since joining Papa Spud's. Before becoming a customer, my family meals were not balanced very well with enough fresh vegetables. I also found that we ate way too much pasta because it was easy to prepare on those busy school nights. That's all changed these since I started produce home delivery.

Farm-Fresh produce: 5 simple ways to get in your daily veggies. Cucumbers make a great snack with hummus.


Now, I munch on red peppers, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, kale, cabbage and so much more during the day. I don't prepare sandwiches any longer for lunch, and instead, I may roast cabbage and toss the the cabbage with cashews. I also like to eat leftover quinoa or rice and mix it with lots of fresh veggies. For this particular lunch, I mixed in red onion, red pepper,cucumber, lentils and quinoa.

5 simple ways to get in your daily veggies. Top rice or quinoa with farm-fresh veggies.


I worked hard on a weight loss plan for January. I lost weight by eating more veggies, cutting my sugar intake, consuming less gluten (pasta, breads, beer), and by watching my portions, except I allowed myself to eat HUGE portions of vegetables. Overall, I lost about eight pounds. I'm still working to keep up my healthy eating plan even though on occasion, I work in a doughnut here or a glass of wine here. That's OK. One has to live.

I'll be sharing lots of new recipes and healthy eating ideas in the coming weeks with Papa Spud's sponsoring this new recipe content. Papa Spuds sells more than just local farm-fresh produce so I've tried a few, organic meats, too. And I'll be trying more in the coming weeks.

When I signed up I chose a medium box for my family, and basically, I've been filling that box mostly with produce.  After being a customer now for close to two months, I'm seriously thinking of going to the family box so I can order more meats weekly. Meats and cheeses are more expensive than vegetables so they do eat up more of your weekly credits based on the your box cost. The medium box costs about $25 per week, and that gives me over 20 food credits for purchase.

5 simple ways to get in your daily veggies. Roast veggies along with your main dish for an easy meal.


Through my own experience with this process, I'm learning that farm-fresh produce tastes better so I' have been doubling up on some veggies in my produce order. For instance, last week I doubled my cucumber order with Papa Spud's. Here's why. I bought a big bag of cucumbers at BJs Wholesale Club because I needed them. I eat a lot cucumbers and hummus these days for snacks. I was able to taste the farm-fresh cucumbers next to the store bought cucumbers. The difference in taste was unbelievable. The BJs cucumbers were basically tasteless next to the farm-fresh ones. I can get about two or three cucumbers for 1.50 credits at Papa Spud's. It's the same things with red peppers. I love them, but they are so expensive in the stores. I can get about three red peppers for 3.50 credits. I did another taste test with a Food Lion red pepper vs. a farm-fresh pepper. Again, I found the store pepper lacking in taste over the pepper in the produce delivery.

With Papa Spud's I try to buy and cook with what is in abundance because it is more cost-effective on the budget. They say winter is the hardest time to cook farm-to-table. I have enjoyed my selections. Papa Spud's has developed contracts with out of state farms so things do come from out of North Carolina. The red peppers are out of state at the moment. Here's just a sample of what I may order weekly using my 20 weekly credits.

Papa Spud's Produce Delivery; sample of cost. Farm-Fresh veggies delivered to your doorstep weekly.


If you purchased this same produce at Harris Teeter or Whole Foods, I bet it would be double the cost.

Papa Spud's is local so if you are reading this in Michigan then I can't help you sign up to experience what I do here in North Carolina. Sorry about that, but this is a growing trend in all cities. We are fortunate in North Carolina because we are a huge agricultural state.

But, I do have a few tips or recipes to help you eat more veggies on a daily basis.

5 simple ways to Eat more Veggies Daily


5 Simple Ways to Eat More Veggies Daily

1. Roast an assortment veggies on a pan while roasting salmon. This is such and easy and healthy meal that can be cooked at one time. 

2. Roast a medley of vegetables in a casserole dish. Use any vegetables of your choice: I used broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and squash. I tossed the veggies with olives, salt, pepper, and some balsamic vinegar. This can be a side dish or you can easily have it for lunch the next day to get in several good servings. 

3. Saute kale or spinach with garlic, onions, and top with northern beans for a nice hot lunch. This could also be a main meal. Can't get my husband on board with that one, though for dinner. 

4. Snack on raw veggies during the day. I do this instead of grabbing the Triscuits.

5. Make soups that include a lot of vegetables. 

Next week, I'll be sharing some of the recipes I've been using while being a Papa Spud's customer. You can also follow my Pinterest Boards to help you with meal planning. If you are in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, and want to get produce delivery then you can use my referral link.


Disclosure: I am a paying customer of Papa Spud's. All opinions are my own. For the next four weeks during this special series, my produce boxes will be comped. I will be going back to a paying customer after those four weeks, and I'll continue to share with you great recipes. I love this service and am a happy customer. 

Linking this post up to Small Victories Sunday Link-up. 

2.13.2015

Luxury Hotel Secrets: White Hot Chocolate at Home from The Umstead Hotel and Spa

We know the story. You couldn't secure a babysitter for the biggest romantic night of the year. Yeah, that happens. 

It's going to be chilly in North Carolina this weekend so put those kids to bed,and pretend that you are sitting by the fire at my hometown's five-star hotel, The Umstead Hotel and Spa. Warm up with Herons pastry chef Evan Sheridan's recipe for decadent white hot chocolate.

Luxury Hotel Secrets: White Hot Chocolate recipe from Umstead Hotel and  Spa
White Hot  Chocolate from Herons in Cary, N.C. 


Evan also makes some wonderful chocolate confections that are sold in the hotel's gift store. The gift store is a wonderful resource for North Carolina art and gifts. 

Enjoy!


White Hot Chocolate from Herons Pastry Chef Evan Sheridan

Ingredients
·         2 oz low sugar white chocolate
·         1 tsp salt
·         1 tbs cornstarch
·         1 qt whole milk
·         2 ea green cardamom
·         1 ea Ceylon cinnamon stick
·         2 ea star anise

Steep
·         Slowly heat the milk with the spices
·         Turn off the heat when the mixture comes to a simmer
·         Cover and allow steeping for approximately 15 minutes

To Finish
·         Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and add the salt
·         Mix cornstarch with a small amount of water to create “slurry”
·         Heat the milk to a simmer and pour in the cornstarch slurry (whisking the entire time)
·         Simmer for approximately 5 minutes while whisking
·         Turn off the heat and pour in the white chocolate
·         Garnish with Grand Marnier, a cinnamon stick, some lightly sweetened whipped cream, and an orange twist.



Want to see more North Carolina travel content then join the #outaboutnc community on social media. Just this week, the Umstead Hotel posted to our feed this fabulous photo.

Banana Bombe served with coconut ice cream, lime parfait and macadamia nut sable, beautifully presented by @theumstead pastry chef @evanjsheridan. Thanks for tagging us Umstead. Desserts at The Umstead are part of Herons menu and are also served in the Bar and Lounge. Great place for drinks and a casual dinner. You may find our founder @hinessightblog on the terrace or by the fire often. It is one of her favorite #local places in #RDU.
Follow @OutaboutNC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Like a little bit of everything then follow @HinesSightBlog on social media. Buttons are on my sidebar at the top.






2.11.2015

A Grandma's New Found Love for all things Frozen: Dairy Queen and Elsa

The other day I took my Mom on a media event to our local Dairy Queen on Walnut Street in Cary. It was a Frozen inspired event to celebrate the national chain's 75th anniversary. MiMa, as my family calls her, likes to attend my more simple and budget-friendly restaurant assignments with me.  Let's just say when she learned during our visit that Dairy Queen has an all-beef hot dog on its menu for under $2.50 (She quoted the exact price for me on three different occasions within half an hour), she was hooked. And when she got to know Andy Valkanoff, the local owner behind three Dairy Queens in Raleigh, Cary, and Morrisville, she vowed to become a loyal, local customer.

Hines-Sight Blog Southern Parenting Tale: A Grandma's New Found Love for all things Frozen: Dairy Queen and  Elsa
MiMa and Liza at the Dairy Queen in Cary, N.C. 

While there, she ate chicken strips dipped in BBQ sauce, munched on fried onion rings, and tasted the brand new heart shaped frozen ice cream cake. Her granddaughter, my 5-year-old Liza, was really the special guest for the event. We just tagged along as her supporters. Liza was invited to decorate her own frozen heart cake with the Frozen Queen, herself and participate in a Valentine's campaign around a new, sweet little heart cake designed just for two.

Hines-Sight Blog Southern Parenting Tale: A Grandma's New Found Love for all things Frozen: Dairy Queen and  Elsa
Liza and Elsa

This  is a sweet, new little treat that would fit a Grandma's budget nicely for Valentine's Day. Kids love to share experiences with their grandparents more than anything. They won't remember the material things purchased by grandparents  but they'll always remember the gift of time. This is something that I think my Mom has mastered quite nicely with my two children.

Hines-Sight Blog Southern Parenting Tale: A Grandma's New Found Love for all things Frozen: Dairy Queen and  Elsa


MiMa enjoyed talking to Andy and his wife, Christina, about the restaurant business. My Dad owned budget-friendly restaurants for more than thirty years before he passed away in 2005 with a brain tumor, at the age of 72. We sold those restaurants during his illness. Like me, she misses my Dad terribly, and we both love it when we see young couples with good business sense following the same community-focused path that my own Dad followed during his own years in the restaurant business. Between us, she also misses sitting down and ordering a meat and two vegetables entree daily in his restaurant, too and not getting a bill. She loves it when she finds good food for a good value in her local neighborhood that works well for her on her senior citizen budget. And more importantly, the restaurant was spotless, and the food was good.

Hines-Sight Blog Southern Parenting Tale: A Grandma's New Found Love for all things Frozen: Dairy Queen and  Elsa
Photo from Clairemont Communications. Dairy Queen owner, Andy Valkanoff, welcoming guests to the anniverary celebration. 

Even though Dairy Queen is a national chain, Andy and his team, are deeply committed to supporting their local community. They will work with local schools on fundraisers, church projects, and other events that support the community.  He and I chatted about this for awhile because in today's marketing, there is a huge push for supporting Small Business Saturday and #EatLocal. He feels he falls into those categories, too. I agree. Sometimes local chains get lost in the shuffle because people don't understand the local connection.

We're not talking farm-to-table food here. That's a whole different ballgame. This is about local businesses supporting and keeping the dollars local.  Many owners of franchises, like these Dairy Queens in Wake County, are local and support the community in so many ways.  My own father supported the community where I lived in the mountains of North Carolina.  In his 30 years in business, his in-kind and monetary donations surpassed hundred of thousands of dollars. In fact, he used to do the minimum advertising that his franchise required, and the rest he put forth to supporting the community. He didn't have to do it, but he would never have achieved success without doing it.

Hines-Sight Blog Southern Parenting Tale: A Grandma's New Found Love for all things Frozen: Dairy Queen and  Elsa
This particular Dairy Queen in Cary makes 200 cakes a month in-house. 

No wonder MiMa found a new favorite local restaurant after this visit. Andy's own daughter is about the same age as I was when my parents ventured into the same type of business. I think MiMa felt right at home.

If you see MiMa there eating a cupid cake and a hot dog for under $2.50, say hello.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Be sure to check out my date ideas for February in Greater Raleigh, too.


Valentine's Day cakes at Dairy Queen



Disclosure: So, what did I get out of writing about Dairy Queen today? Nothing, but a good time. I got to have fun with my Mom and daughter, chat with other bloggers, and meet people in our local community. I write things on this blog when I have a story to tell whether I'm compensated or not. And in other news, get out and explore North Carolina and tag your photos #outaboutnc. I would love to see them. 



2.05.2015

Using Instagram as a Travel Guide: Introducing #outaboutnc Community

I've been a founding member of the #IGTRAVELThursday community since its beginning during the summer of 2013. Under the leadership of Katja Presnal of Skimbaco Lifestyle, and the success of her e-book, "Instagram as your Guide to the World - How, What and Who to Search and Follow on Instagram to Help You Travel the World", our hashtag is now one of the most influential hashtags in the travel industry today with close to 25,000 posts. One glance at that hashtag, and you can really discover the world. 


Tag your photos #outaboutnc when traveling in North Carolina
The crystal coast of North Carolina; Emerald Isle. Tag your photos #outaboutnc on social media to be featured. 

Even though I am a travel writer for Katja, and others, I spend a great deal of time in my home state of North Carolina. I'm married. I have two kids under 10 who are on a traditional school calendar and only have so much time off. I have responsibilities here in North Carolina. I just can't pick and up and go at a moment's notice and wander the world like many well-established travel writers do for a living, or to just feed their travel passion. 

When I was in Italy last fall with Katja, and was speaking as a member of her team about the #IGTRAVELThursday project during the TBDItaly conference in Rimini, I realized that my passion for North Carolina travel was more apparent than I realized. I loved talking to these bloggers attending the conference, and telling them about my state. Many knew nothing about North Carolina. Some didn't even know where it was in the U.S.   And no one had heard of the Biltmore Estate. What? 

January is always a good month to look at what you are doing and see where you are in your life.  I'm home a lot in N.C., and have lived here all my life. As a result of those things, I birthed an #IGTravelThursday mini baby, and named it #outaboutnc. There will be no link-ups just social media and continued posts about NC on this blog. I do own the domain name for future expansion. Drawing from a strong point in Katja's book, where she stated, "the people in one's hometown are the experts on what to see and do."  #Outaboutnc is not about me as a travel writer, but it's about bringing together people with a common interest: Travel in North Carolina.  Together, we can showcase the best of our state. I'm just leading the efforts, and it's an extension of my blog just in time for my 4th anniversary. 

Follow the #outaboutnc hashtag. Follow us on social media if you have an interest in North Carolina travel and hospitality. We are @outaboutnc on Facebook, Twitter,and Instagram. Already, people are tagging their photos as they explore North Carolina. Here are some examples of what is in the Instagram feed when you do a hashtag search. 


Great drinks at  Salem Street Pub in Apex, N.C.
Great drinks at Salem Street Pub by IG user @theOliveandtheSea

Belle in Cary, N.C. A farm to table lunch.
Lunch at Belle in Cary, N.C by @BeetandBaguette.


Carolina Theatre in Durham, N.C. An historic landmark
A Durham landmark by @RaleighWhatsUp

Sweets at pastry shop, LucetteGrace in Raleigh,N.C.
Sweet tooth craving fulfilled at LucetteGrace in Raleigh, N.C. by @CapCityChefs

Modern Art in Davidson, N.C.
Modern Art in  Davidson, N.C by @CarissaRogers  
sir Walter Raleigh guards the town.
Sir Walter Raleigh overlooks Raleigh by @keepingup_LLC

A coffee break with hot minis at  Sola Coffee Shop
Coffee Break at Sola in Raleigh by @Cristin.King

Exploring Breweries in North Carolina; Charlotte
Brewery sampling at Unknown Brewing Company by @Chrissie_Beth  


A different view of the Biltmore Estate
The back of Biltmore Estate by @EatWriteGo 

Kinston, N.C. restaurant owned by Vivian Howard, N.C.'s celebrity chef
A visit to Kinston, N.C by @CeCeMeg

Blue Ridge parkway in North Carolina
A blue ridge parkway kind of day by @MandiMcClure
It's so hard to choose photos here for this travel piece because there are so many great ones posted in the feed already. Go through the hashtag #outaboutnc and learn more about what N.C. has to offer its visitors. I'm also @Hinessightblog on Instagram and @leighPHines . Connect and engage with people. Learn about the best places from them, but most importantly, make social media social. 

And as always, join us for the #IGTRAVELThursday link-up. 



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