Yummo: Crustless Quiche

It’s cold!  Georgia got SLAMMEd with some crazy weather and we’ve been stuck at home for the last few days.  (But SO thankful that we were at home safe and sound; there were a lot of fellow Georgians that were not so lucky and they have been in our thoughts and prayers!!!)  It’s been an unexpected little mini-staycation filled with a little work, a TON of playing in the snow (obviously) and some cooking!!

snow days

These days its rare that i have the time to really hang in the kitchen putting together full and yummy meals, so i took advantage of this time at home and played for a bit!  We had chicken tacos, turkey chili, spicy GF cornbread and all sorts of other little snacks and yummies!!  I also played around with this fabulous Crustless Quiche recipe.  The great thing about this one is you can do so many different versions of it!!  Toss in combos of whatever you have laying around and it will be delicious!!!

quiche

Crustless Quiche

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk (or milk substitute)
  • handful fresh spinach, chopped (can substitute your favorite fresh green or even frozen)
  • handful of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of feta cheese (more if you just love feta!)
  • 1 tbsp of flour (substitute with GF flour!)
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • sprinkle of paprika
  • Parmesan cheese
  • butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. Coat a glass pie or baking dish with butter and sprinkle parmesan.
  3. In a separate bowl combine eggs, greek yogurt, milk, spinach, cheddar and feta cheese, flour and nutmeg.
  4. Stir until blended, pour mixture into pie dish and finish off with parmesan and dash of paprika.
  5. Bake until golden brown and enjoy!!

Easy peezy and oh so yummy!  AND bonus  points its filled with protein and all sorts of other good-for-you qualities!  Make a batch in small single servings for quick breakfasts on the go too!

Yumm-O (and stay warm!)
~ Jillian

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Monday Mantra: Eyes open

Whoooo what a week its been!  I successfully made it thru a super DUPER crazy week with a big Grand Opening celebration at my work; all turned out wonderful and we made it out in one piece (exhausted but still standing!).  So now back to hopefully a calmer week and a more balanced life again!!  I realize when life gets exceptionally crazy how easy it is to miss all the wonderful things going on around you.  We get so wrapped up in life that we forget to LIVE!  So here’s to capturing those little moments in life that make you thankful for living.  Choose Joy, Find the Beauty and Dive in with your eyes WIDE open!!!

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure.
There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

eyes

Have a LOVELY week!!
~ Jillian

P.S.  I am so blessed to have such a supportive (and understanding) partner sharing this adventure with me.  He’s the bomb and I would not want to experience this crazy life without him!

Great Hikes: Bear Creek Trail, Cohutta Wilderness, GA

The HSE ladies {and husbands} recently took a field trip to the Cohutta Wilderness in the Chattahoochee National Forest.  We had to take advantage of nearly 60-degree temperatures and a clear turquoise blue sky, after the frigid temperatures we’ve experienced recently.  Our intentions were to hike a different trail, but forest service road closures (darn icy roads!) threw a wrench in our plans.  We happened upon another nearby trail, which turned out to be a LONG, but enjoyable hike.

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Bear Creek Loop Trail – Cohutta Wilderness, Chattahoochee National Forest, Ellijay, GA
Distance: 9.7 miles (including approach trail and loop), 6.7 miles (loop only)
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult
Trail Features: multiple stream crossings, Gennett Poplar, dense forest, steep climbs

The Bear Creek Loop can be accessed in two locations. The upper portion of the Bear Creek Loop can be accessed via an approach trail at a marked parking area on the right, when heading north on Old CCC Campground Rd (Forest Service Rd 68).  By starting at the upper portion approach trail, the hike will be about 3 miles longer than beginning at the lower trailhead.  The lower Bear Creek Loop trailhead can be accessed by Forest Service Rd 241/Bear Creek Camp Rd, off of Gates Chapel Rd.

A couple of cautionary notes:
* This trail is open to mountain biking and appears to be quite popular with riders.
* Regardless of where you begin your hike, you will encounter wide stream crossings.  It is best to wear waterproof boots in the winter, water resistant sandals in warmer months or be prepared to remove your shoes and cross barefoot.

We began our hike at the upper portion of the trail.  The hike began just downhill from an overlook {as seen in first picture, above}, which offered long-range views of surrounding mountains and the valley below.  Beginning at the upper portion of the trail, the first half of the hike was all downhill.

I was unable to locate a trail map online, to illustrate the path of the Bear Creek Loop.  Fortunately, I took a {not so great} photo of the the map posted at the trailhead.  This map appears at both the upper and lower trailheads and the trails are very clearly marked with signs.

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We began our trek at the red “YOU ARE HERE” marker and followed the well-established approach trail {purple line} northeast, crossing Barnes Creek at 0.5 miles.   This crossing is one of the widest creek crossings on the hike.  Continue the descent until you come to a fork at approximately 1.5 miles.

Bear Creek Trail 1

Continuing south, the trail intersects with the {red} Pinhoti trail, descending into the dense rhododendron and hardwood forest and crossing Bear Creek at numerous points.  We continued south past the sign for Bear Creek Loop, which pointed to the east.  NOTE: If you were to hike only the Bear Creek Loop (6.7 miles), you would start at the lower trailhead, hike north past the Gennett Poplar, then veer right at this split.

After the split for Bear Creek Loop, we passed the Gennett Poplar on the right side of the trail.  The Gennett Poplar is the second largest tree in Georgia, towering over the forest at nearly 100 feet tall, with an 18 foot circumference, and is estimated to be more than 400 years old.

Bear Creek Trail 2Continuing south on the Pinhoti/Bear Creek Loop trails, the trail encounters several wide stream crossings.

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At 0.8 miles beyond the Gennett Poplar, the Bear Creek Loop trail departs the Pinhoti Trail, heading southeast.  After 0.2 miles, the trail reaches the (lower) Bear Creek Loop trailhead parking lot.  From the far end of parking lot, the trail continues across Bear Creek.  As you can see in the pictures below, this creek crossing got the best of us.  With a 20+ foot wide crossing and few logs or rocks to scale across, we were forced to abandon our shoes, roll up our pants, and trek through the ice cold water with our bare feet.  It actually wasn’t that bad.  We all agreed that a minute in ice cold water was far better than hiking the last few miles with wet socks.

Bear Creek Trail 4

Once you cross Bear Creek for the last time, the trail immediately begins a steep incline out of the valley.  We continued uphill for over a mile, before reaching the ridge.  We followed along the ridge for another mile or so, encountering a few minor descents and gains, before winding back over to the intersection of the Pinhoti and Bear Creek Trail.

Bear Creek Trail 5

At the intersection, we retraced our steps up the 1.5-mile approach trail to the parking lot off of Old CCC Campground Rd. On the way back, the approach trail was a bit of a climb.

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All in all, we really enjoyed the hike.  The scenery was beautiful, constantly changing, and the last half of the trail offered a great cardio and leg workout.  If you prefer to do a shorter hike, we suggest parking at the lower trailhead off of Bear Creek Camp Rd.  From the lower trailhead, you can choose a 2-mile out and back to the Gennett Poplar, or hike the 6.7-mile Bear Creek Loop.  Just remember, if you skip the upper approach trail, you’ll miss out on this view….

Bear Creek-Overlook

So, make sure you drive up the mountain to see it!

The brief respite from cold weather has ignited Spring fever in my soul.  As the country is gripped by another blast of snow and frigid wind, I’m dreaming of more warm and sunny days spent on the trails.

– Brittany

Turn Your Photos Into Art

Have you heard of Foto Flexer?  Hopefully, I am not the last person to find out about this great (FREE) online photo editing tool.  Foto Flexer allows users to edit photos in a number of ways, including basic cropping and red-eye reduction, or more advanced features including animations, layering and color adjustments.  I discovered and spent entirely too much time playing with the Color Sketch feature.  It is a simplified (and free) version of a similar feature in Photoshop.  Color Sketch, found under the Effects tab, allows users to turn photographs into ink and colored pencil “drawings.”  I didn’t care too much for the Color Sketch images of people, but ended up with great results with flowers, landscapes and architecture.

I have often wished I had a printed image of my gorgeous wedding bouquet, but felt silly framing a photo of flowers.  I think the Color Sketch version is more likely to be displayed.  Photo by Alea Moore Photography.

Wedding Bouquet

Another favorite floral photograph, taken on one of our vacations.  I love how this one turned out!

Flowers

After success with flowers, I tried a canopy photograph from one of our Fall hikes.  While I will probably not frame this one, I think the end result is pretty cool.

Fall Canopy

I then ventured into architectural subjects, selecting this photo of a chapel doorway from another recent vacation.  I loved how the diagonal lines in the door and the bricks in the arch were emphasized in the Color Sketch version of the photo.White Door

Next, I searched Pinterest and found a photo of a cute craftsman bungalow.  How much fun would it be to frame a sketch of your first home?!  This could also make a great gift!   Photo source.

House
After playing around with Foto Flexer, I searched and found other web applications that offer a similar colored pencil effect for photos.  Have you used any of these free photo editing services?  Any recommendations?

– Brittany

Black Bean Cakes

Holy busy these days.  Life has taken a few crazy turns lately which is resulting in less and less time to do things like…oh I don’t know…Cook.  So in slight desperation the other night I reached out to one of my FAVORITE ladies on this planet (the famous Genya of Vue Photography) for a little quick and healthy foodie inspiration.  This girl knows how to whip up some fast and super duper healthy treats and she absolutely delivered!!  I had dinner on the table in under 20 minutes and even had a few extras to spare for lunch the next day…ahh thank you.  The beauty about this recipe is that it’s just a jumping off point, once you have the basic batch down pat, the varieties and options are endless!!  This is one of those staples that you should always keep in your back pocket for a rainy day (or a sunny day…or a cloudy day…or a hot day…)  They are also packed with fiber and protein and light on fat and calories.  Win Win!

Black Bean Cakes – Basic Batch

bob cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans; rinsed & slightly smashed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Gluten Free soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup GF panko bread crumbs OR spoonful of GF flour
  • 1 large egg; slightly beaten

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425°
  • Place beans in a large bowl & lightly mash.
  • Add in all remanining ingredients
  • Divide mixture into 4 sections, shape like “patties” and place on a greased baking sheet
  • Cook at 425° for approx 8 -10 minutes; flipping once.

Add a spicy flair to this basic “cake” by adding a dash of cayenne or even some chopped up jalapeño slices to the mixture and then top with this AmAzInG…

Sriracha “Aioli”

sriracha aioli(image source)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • approx 1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce (use as much or as little as you can handle)
  • squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • dash of salt

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Taste
  • Enjoy

Enjoy this as a healthy and fabulous breakfast dish by adding scrambled eggs, salsa and greek yogurt (HSE’s official replacement for all things sour cream) ala the restaurant West Egg in Atlanta.

west egg black bean cakes(image source)

Turn this into a yummy backyard burger by slapping it on a GF hamburger bun and top it with your favorite burger toppings…like avocado slices, lettuces, pickles and even a little of the sriracha aioli.

black-bean-burger(image source)

Looking for a way to spice up “taco” night?  Whip up a batch of these babies with the addition of organic corn, diced green chilies and a little chili powder!  Top it off with some homemade guacamole, fresh cilantro and a little salsa…OLE’!

mexi black bean cakes(image source)

Give these a whirl…I promise they will not disappoint!  And be sure to check out my girl Genya’s amazing work!

Happy eating!
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: Health

Morning Morning!  Hope you all had a lovely weekend and are ready to kick off this week with a bang!!  What happened to the warm weather we had yesterday??  We are back to chilly here in Georgia, but we did take advantage of the warm(er) temperatures yesterday and  went for a little hike!!  It was so wonderful to get out in the fresh air, enjoying nature and good company for a bit!!  It’s amazing what a little time unplugged and out in the wilderness can do for your well-being!!  (I highly recommend that you do it…and do it often!)  We will tell you all about the trail we took and the adventures we had along the way soon (check back to HSE!) but for now know that it was beautiful and the perfect thing to do on a sunny sunday!

“Happiness is a Choice
Health is a Reflection of that Choice”

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Choose Joy and be Healthy!!
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: we are

It’s the first Monday of 2014…Happy New Year to you all!!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday and ended 2013 with a bang!  I love the start of a new year, not knowing what wonderful things are ahead of you, having a sense of a fresh start and an opportunity to set goals to improve those things in your life that you weren’t happy with the year before.  I’m not big on resolutions but it is the perfect time to forgive yourself for things that have disappointed you in the past and move forward.  Choose to be a better you this year.  Be happy.  Choose Joy.

“We are who we choose to be”

better you

To a healthy, happy and blessed 2014!

In Joy
~ Jillian