Beef & Polenta Cannelloni + The Pyrenees Mountains

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Polenta? In canneloni? You say whaaat?

Ignore those internal forces of yours questioning what on earth you’re doing and just do it (swoosh). Put the polenta in the meat.

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While I was traveling this summer with my family and Vivian’s family, we were super lucky to be able to stay in some beautiful homes, which is a change for us. But, considering that I needed to cook for all you people on the interwebs, it was a welcomed and exciting adventure. We rented this beautiful house in the literal middle of nowhere: aka an hour from Lourdes, a large skiing town at the edge of the Pyrenees Mountains.

We were there for a friend’s wedding and decided to stay in a little farmhouse outside of town instead of one of the hotels, and what an experience we had.

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Creamy Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas

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Hello chicken ench. How gorgeous do you look today?

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I kind of go through phases with food. For weeks on end I’ll crave only chicken tortilla soup and enchiladas, then I’ll switch to tagliatelle with tomato sauce and chicken fingers (random, I know) and finally I’ll settle on french fries and vegan banana pancakes, my usual go-to cravings.

As you can tell though, I am currently in the enchilada phase.

Like any person who has an allergy will understand, you’re always searching for that “creaminess” in food, something that you very rarely have. When I eat out, I order salsa verde chicken enchiladas a lot, and they are beautifully tender and flavorful and delicious. But it’s always missing the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth taste that queso gives you.

And then I found this vegan queso recipe from Side of Sneakers blog, and it basically changed my vegan queso craving little life. I thought about adjusting the recipe to make it my own, but sometimes you just gotta let someone else have it. And she’s got it.

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Breakfast Pops

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I’m not a breakfast eater, but I’d eat one of these for breakfast every morning in a heartbeat.

Creamy dairy-free yogurt, colorful fruit loops, and juicy fresh fruit makes for a wholesome, grab-and-go, perfect breakfast to ring in the new school year. Hop on that bus your first day of school with a breakfast pop in hand and someone will come up to you and be like,

“can I try that?”

And you’ll be like, “sure, here.”

And she/he will try a bite and be like, “that’s the best breakfast ever! I want my mom to make that for me!”

And then you’ll be best friends for the next ten or so years, sharing breakfast pops every morning.

You’re welcome.

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Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel: London, England

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The Vivian/Hunter family clan is off to Europe!

In these next few travel posts I’ll be writing all about our wonderful three week European Adventure!

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In any traveling entity, there’s always a planner. In my own traveling entity comprised of my family and Vivian’s family, the planner would be my father. He loves it.

He’s got us planned on:

where we’re staying.

where we’re eating.

what we’re doing.

what train we’re riding on.

what plane we’re flying in.

what car we’re renting, and the list goes on and on.

Literally being with him is like being with your own personal travel agent. We are so lucky to have a wonderful dad/husband/friend like that to give us such incredible vacations. He really researches where we’re going and fun exciting things we can do in each place. My family and I have been lucky enough to visit London many times, and this time my dad gave us the opportunity of a lifetime.

We all got to put on our fancy dresses and go have afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel Tea Room! Let me give you some background to get you excited:

Brown’s Hotel was founded in 1837, therefore making it a super duper old hotel in the heart of London. What’s most notable about Brown’s Hotel is the famous people that have stayed there. Popular guests include: Theodore Roosevelt, Napoleon III, and Elizabeth, Queen of the Belgiums. Many writers have also stayed at Brown’s; Rudyard Kipling completed The Jungle Book there, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, and many more.

Pretty neat, huh?

Not only were we able to have wonderful hot tea (Vivian’s new drink of choice), but my dad also made sure that the tea room knew about our dairy allergy. So when we arrived, we had our own afternoon snacks with no dairy! It was fabulous. We got to choose from little sandwiches filled with meats and jams and eggs and veggies and seafood, then dairy-free scones, and finally chocolatey desserts. We also got soy milk to go with our tea.

The desserts were definitely gluten-free too, and we think the scones!

We had such a beautiful experience and would urge anyone who wants to create some fun and lasting memories to visit Brown’s Hotel Tea Room next time you’re in London, and make sure to call ahead to tell them about your allergy!

Now on to the pictures…

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The Best Lemon Supreme Cake

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Look, I’m not going to throw out “best” on here very often, so when I say it I mean it.

This is yet another amazing-delicious-stuff-your-face recipe provided by Mrs. Mara, Vivian’s momma. It’s not even the lemons that really make this cake, it’s the moistness level. Is that a word? Moistness? This cake is melt-in-your-mouth moist. Like butta. If any of us could eat butter. And trust me, there’s no butter in this cake.

The lemon flavor in this cake is so refreshing, and by using a dairy-free cake mix as the base, SO.EASY.TO.MAKE. But trust me here, there’s nothing cake mix-y about this sucker. It is pure fresh in all directions.

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This week I’m heading down to Naples, my sister will be in Orlando and my parents will be in Atlanta. This is the first time that we will all three be in different locations. And it’s really weird. We do a lot together.

I was homeschooled growing up, so was my sister, and we always have done everything together. So it’s been a huge adjustment (mostly for me. I don’t like change very much.) traveling without my family, and us all being in different locations this week is just crazy to me. I know I’ll get used to it sooner or later, but right now it kind of gives me anxiety.

I’m one of those people who genuinely loves being around my family.

Even though we’re small in numbers, we’re basically like a walking party all the time.

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Superfood Kale Salad

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I am going to let you in on a little secret. The key to the kale’s success inside a salad. This is a secret tale as old as time (like what I did there?). The secret to the kale is this.

Kale needs to be massaged.

I’m not talking like a quick two finger rub down. I’m talking about a full-blown, hands only, deep tissue massage. And that, my friend, is the secret to delicious kale.

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The Wild Cow: Nashville, Tennessee

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I could probably eat every meal of my life in this restaurant. The Wild Cow is located in East Nashville and offers fresh, awesomely delicious vegan fare.

As the last stop on the McKenzie/Hunter road trip, we definitely went out with a bang. A yummy, over-the-top, local produce, VEGAN, food fantasy dream of a restaurant. I’m sure like most of you dairy-free people that actually lived some years with dairy in your life, you will understand my constant lust for queso dip.

The smell wafts through any restaurant and I can still perfectly taste the creamy smooth flavor and texture of my favorite queso dip at home.

So when I was suggesting restaurants to McKenzie that we could stop by for dinner, and I saw The Wild Cow’s menu, I practically caused her to wreck in my screaming excitement.

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The Lemonade Bar: Homemade Lemonade 5 Different Ways

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Nothin’ says summer quite like a big ole glass of ice cold lemonade. You know what I mean, when the only thing that can really cool you down after a hot day out in the sun is a popsicle or lemonade. They are basically the epitome of summer if you ask me.

I’ve been wanting to try to make infused lemonades for a while now. The idea started when I found some dried lavender at a local health food store. And when I realized how easy it was to make really delicious homemade lemonade, I wanted to try other flavors, and on and on and on, until I came up with these five different lemonades.

Now that we’re entering the official hot season of summer, July and August, make one of these to quench your thirst and keep you hydrated while you’re out having summer fun!

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Refreshing Mango & Lime Juice Popsicles

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I don’t really know anything better than a hot summer day by the pool slurping on fast-melting popsicles. I love how sometimes when it’s so hot (especially being a Florida girl) all I can really have to quench my thirst is a super cold and delicious concoction of frozen fruit juice.

Popsicles have really “taken off” as the “cool summer snack” in the last few years, so I’ve loved being able to play around with different types of flavors and make popsicles that are such big hits with my favorite little people (and big people too!).

Recently, my cousins were visiting (how cute are they?) and were looking for a snack after swimming in the pool all morning. I brought out these mango and lime juice popsicles and Gabriela basically devoured one in about five minutes flat. I filled some of the popsicle molds only half way, and that was the perfect size for Gabs to eat it all before it melted.

Seconds, anyone?

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4th of July Orange Pork Sliders with Homemade Buns

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Heyo! Happy 4th of July Week!

This is an interesting holiday for me considering that I’ve only actually spent a handful of 4th of July’s in the United States. My family is like the super-travel family. My mom’s birthday is July 5th, and her favorite thing in the whole wide world is to travel. So most of our 4th of July’s have been spent looking out the window of an airplane at the fireworks as we fly out of JFK or Hartsfield-Jackson airport. And this year will be no different. We will be celebrating the 4th of July in Paris!

How patriotic of us! Ha!

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