Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pickles & Peanut Butter

Wondering why I've been quiet for so long?? SURPRISE!!! It's been a busy few weeks in the Gorecki household, with most of the excitement surrounding our big secret that we can FINALLY spill. Baby Gorecki will be joining us in June, and we are beyond thrilled!

I'm now 14 weeks and feeling really good. Fortunately, Baby G. has been good to mama. I felt a little queasy and REALLY tired in the first few weeks, but all that went away around week 9. Now, I've got lots more energy back and I'm staying up past 9:00. The doctor said everything looks great and the baby's nice and healthy. Last Monday, we were able to go in for our most recent ultrasound and we heard the heartbeat, which was amazing! We won't know what it is for a few more weeks, but we're definitely going to find out. Neither of us really have a preference - we're just so excited. I've been having a hunch it's a boy, but had a dream last week that it was a girl, so who knows.

Thankfully, I haven't had any crazy cravings (yet). I've really been wanting sweet stuff - not necessarily junk food - just anything sweet. I've been trying to curb the cravings with fruit and yogurt, but I still have my chocolate every day. I've also been wanting lots of cheese. The baby's probably gonna come out looking like a block of Dubliner Irish Cheddar if this keeps up. I'm still working out regularly so hopefully that takes care of that cheese problem...

Other than that, things are really good. Our families and friends are so excited, and I'm pretty sure Penny has a hunch that I'm pregnant too. She's been more protective than usual lately. I think she'll be a great big sister! Though I'm pretty sure she'll think all the hype (and toys) are for her.

Here's the announcement we posted on Facebook. We couldn't resist - we had to do it! The other one is the pic we used for our Christmas card pic this year.

Can't take credit for this one. I saw something similar on Pinterest and fell in LOVE with it!!

Thanks for bearing with me while I kept this a secret! More posts (and belly pics) to come soon :)

Brie & Baby G.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Husband Hates Beans Bean-less Chili

I feel like that's an appropriate name for this recipe. As you know from previous posts, my husband Mike HATES beans. Which is a shame, because I love them. Not to mention, they're good for you. I have a great chili recipe and every time I make it, Mike pushes all the beans to the side and asks if I can make it bean-less. Sigh. When I think "bean-less chili" I think of a big bowl of meat. So, out of the kindness of my heart, I altered the recipe and added in some extra veggies to sub for the beans. It was actually pretty good and best of all, Mike-approved :)

Mike's Bean-less Chili

- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 lbs of lean, ground beef
- 1 medium onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
- 28 oz can of tomato puree
- 6 to 8 oz ale or lager style beer
- Salt and pepper to taste

Chop all vegetables. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, zucchini, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt to taste. Cook about 7-8 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the garlic.
These were a good hearty option to replace the beans. Carrots and corn would work too!

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the beef. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato puree, and beer. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 45 minutes.

Remove cover and cook for another 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

* If you don't want to use the beer, do not drain the diced tomatoes. You can use the juice from that instead.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Catching Up! Falling Leaves & Doggie Swag

Ahh...fall is here! I absolutely LOVE living in a city that actually has a fall, which happens to be my most favorite season. I loved having a fall when I lived in NYC and was so bummed when I moved back to Florida and back to 85 degree Thanksgivings. It's been beautiful here the last few weeks - especially this past week. Clear, blue skies with no humidity and fantastic cool temps in the morning. I actually like that I have to put a sweater on to take Penny out in the mornings and leaving the air off and the patio doors open has been awesome. The leaves are starting to fall and I noticed some red on a few of the trees yesterday. Love it!

Fall also means it's pumpkin time! I love anything with pumpkin. I even have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to pumpkin recipes: http://www.pinterest.com/bgorec/my-pumpkin-obsession/. I went to Target yesterday and walked out with pumpkin coffee creamer, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin spice M&Ms, and pumpkin pie spice tea.

This is what my morning included today. Yum!

Now to a totally different subject - dog bandanas! I've been selling baby shower decorations on Etsy for almost a year now, and not too long ago, decided to open up a dog store on the site called Bark Street Treats. I started off with dog treats and once I inherited my sewing machine, started making dog bandanas for Penny and decided to put those up there as well. It's been great so far! The most popular ones seem to be the chevron pattered ones, and I just put some Halloween ones up there last week. I've even had a few people send me pics of their pups wearing the bandanas I made, which I love seeing :)

You can click here to go to my shop. It's been a fun side project so far!

Off to get a few things done before taking Penny to Paws in the Park Atlanta. Have a great day!

Friday, September 6, 2013


Happy almost-fall everyone! It's been a fun few months for us...in the midst of hectic, everyday life, we made a very special trip - to Ireland! I came back with 1,061 pics. Yes, that's the actual number. I'm STILL sifting through them all and want to talk about all the places we saw and things we did, but for now, here's a little taste of the greenest place I've ever been. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen so much green. Or sheep.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fun With Neon! Throw Pillow Makeover

First off, remember these crazy mutts? Finn left on Friday night and Penny slept ALL weekend. Seriously, this dog was in total zombie mode. How cute are they, though??

I made those bandanas for them last week. They were pretty easy to make and I like how they slip over the collar instead of tying around the neck. I'm making Penny another one this week, so I'll post pics of how I did that in a few days.

Sorry for the no-so-awesome quality pics. Those were from my phone. They were just too cute not to share :)

Anyway...I wanted to share my new neon-trimmed throw pillows. I really wanted new throw pillows for our sleeper sofa in the guest room. The old ones I had in there were from Pier 1, and I've had them since the days of yore.


Since I started working with Fabric.com a few months ago, I've come across so many fabrics that I fall in love with. We're allowed to take the sample fabrics home, which is coming in handy now that I have my sewing machine. Now, I have a confession to make. I love neon. My inner 80s child just can't get enough of it. Hardly a day went by in the 80s where I didn't leave my house looking like a box of highlighters. Those days are over however, I love using bright neon colors as an accent color - especially next to dark colors. I was playing around with some of my fabrics this weekend, and came across a combo that I fell in love with - dark grey and neon green. Who knew?!
I started toying around with a few pattern combos. Being new to this whole sewing thing, I made it more complicated than it should have been. I finally came up with a pattern that I liked, that was surprisingly easy to do. 

Step 1: Cut fabric to size. To make 2 throw pillows, you'll need to cut out 4 squares and 4 side strips. I made the main squares 16" x 16" each, and made each neon strip 4.5" x 16". 

Start by sewing one strip to one side of a square. Remember to sew the wrong sides together so you can eventually turn it inside out. I used a straight seam and a 3/8" inseam.

Step 2: Do the same thing on the opposite side of the square. You'll end up with this:

Step 3: Iron the seams down to flatten them out. This will help the pillow lay better and will help you sew through them easier.

Step 4: Sew the other square to the opposite side of one of the neon strips (it doesn't matter which one).

Step 5: Fold it over (with the wrong sides still facing out), and sew the last non-sewn neon end to the other non-sewn end of the square fabric. They should be all connected and look like this:

Don't forget to iron down the 2 new seams.

Step 6: Line up the seams of each so that they are even, and sew entirely down one side. Do the same on the other, but leave a 4-5 inch opening on that one.

Step 7: Stuff away! I took the stuffing out of the old pillows and used that. These pillows were also slightly larger than the old ones, so I took a spare flat pillow that we had in the linen closet, and used some of the stuffing from that to finish them off. Either hand sew, or carefully use your machine to close up the seam.

The end result. I love them! I never would have thought to mix those colors, but I love them. The neon adds the perfect pop of color.

She sees a camera and immediately has to jump in. God forbid I don't include her.

What do you think? Not gonna lie, I totally wanna decorate the room with neon now. Though I'm sure that Mike would veto that in about 2 seconds flat... 

In case you're wondering (and are as smitten as I am with them). Here are the fabrics that I used:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Barking Mad

Meet Finn. Finn is our houseguest for the week. His mom Heather is a friend of ours and was kind enough to take care of Penny the weekend we went away for our anniversary. 

It's quite possible that I've found a dog with more energy than Penny. The good news is that they entertain each other all day and wear each other out. They actually go to sleep when we do however, the minute my alarm goes off (at 6:15), so do they. I'm used to Penny sleeping while I take my shower, have my coffee, and get ready for work, and then she goes out. Now that she has a friend around, she's ready to run outside the minute that alarm starts beeping. I have to say, though. Finn is a very sweet pup and gets along great with Penny and chances are, she'll sleep for an entire week after he leaves. 

This is a rare moment...

Aside from dealing with 2 mad mutts, I've been getting into a new hobby lately - sewing! My mom gave me her sewing machine and I took a class at this great local place called The Beehive here in Atlanta. I'm making a baby blanket for a friend, so I'll post some pics soon once I'm done. I might also practice my stitching by making some dog bandanas. Or doggie straight jackets...

Monday, June 17, 2013

So, About That Raw Food Challenge...

Hey kids - remember when I told you about that raw food challenge I was doing for a week? Well, it's over now, and here's what I came home from Publix with today:

Not only 5 super sweet products, but 5 brand new super sweet products. I've actually had the coffee creamer already - I bought it once before, a couple of weeks ago when I first spotted it at Target, and it was so freaking good. God bless those awesome Girl Scouts.

I also opened the peanut butter and the Goldfish since cravings curiosity won me over. The Goldfish taste exactly like french toast drizzled with syrup, and the peanut butter tastes like a tub of chocolate-peanut butter frosting. It's actually lower in fat and calories than regular peanut butter (not by much, but every little bit counts. Right?). I'm sure I'll dive into the Special K bars tomorrow.

Anyway, now that I've kicked your sugar cravings into high gear, I'll tell you about my raw food week. It actually wasn't too bad. I didn't really know what to expect from it to be honest. I pretty much stuck to the same thing each day. Here's how my week went:

Smoothie made with honey, pineapple, frozen peaches, strawberries, and bananas

Fruit (usually grapes, an apple, a pear, or watermelon)
Handful of mixed nuts (pistachios, peanuts, almonds, and cashews)

Salad made with kale, red leaf lettuce, red onion, yellow pepper, tomato, black olives, garbanzo beans, avocado, zucchini, and a light dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Fruit or a Lara Bar

Salad made with tomato, cucumber, red onion, and avocado, tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with basil

Grapes or watermelon

This was fine for the first 3 days, but then it got a little old. I did cheat a little on Thursday and Friday. I had my monthly girls' wine night at a friend's house on Thursday, so I had a little wine and some cheese. On Friday, I went to my friend Natalie's house and had a drink and a few snacks. I would probably do it again in a few months, but only for 3 days. I think it's a good way to give your body a detox every now and then, and I could definitely feel a difference after 3 days. 

Now excuse me as I go dip my pretzel thins into my chocolate peanut butter.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Make it Raw

Last week, one of the girls I work with said that she was doing a raw food challenge, and asked if anyone would like to join her. Her trainer suggests going "raw" once every quarter, to cleanse out your system and stay healthy. It's only for a week, so I decided to give it a shot. I think there are about 6 of us who are doing it. Some people do it to lose weight and some people do it for the health benefits. I'm doing it for the health benefits, especially since it's great for your skin and hair. I'm also curious as to how it makes you feel. I eat healthy with little splurges every now and then, but this takes it to another level, so I'm wondering if it will help me sleep better and have more energy.

Basically, you eliminate processed foods, sugar, carbs, etc. for one week, and you don't cook the food, since cooking vegetables can actually take away some of the nutritional value of them. You eats tons of fresh fruits and veggies, plus nuts and beans for added protein. You can also eat pure honey and agave nectar as sweeteners. Today, I went grocery shopping and stocked up on tons of fresh produce (yes, I will be making Mike his own separate food since there is no way on earth he'd do this challenge with me). I figured that my meals would consist of a smoothie for breakfast (no dairy, obviously - bananas, berries, etc), a salad for lunch with a light splash of olive oil and vinegar (although I will miss my cheese. Sniff, sniff :( ), and another salad for dinner. For snacks, I'll munch on fruit, carrot sticks, and nuts, and if I'm craving something sweet, some strawberries with honey.

This should be interesting, since I know there are going to be times that I'll be dying to reach for my pretzel chips and I'll definitely miss my Greek yogurt for breakfast. And my dark chocolate granola bars. And my Coffee-Mate Girl Scout Cookie Samoa coffee creamer. Wait a second - now that I think about it... No, no - I can do this.  At least it's only for a week. And who knows, maybe I'll love it so much, that I'll want to stick to it! Although, I'm sure my hankering for sweets and my anti-vegetable husband would veto that idea real soon ... ;)

My shopping trip consisted of:
  • Apples (golden delicious and braeburn)
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Red grapes
  • Watermelon
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Grapefruit
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers (green and yellow)
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Red onion
  • Baby carrots
  • Black olives
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Mixed nuts (pistachios, cashews, and almonds)
  • Lara Bars (these have no preservatives and are made with raw, natural nuts and fruit)
I washed and pre-cut mostly everything, to make life easier. I'll keep you posted on how this goes. I could love it, or I could end up curled up in a corner, crying for a piece of chocolate or an entire block of cheese...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pork Chops with Cinnamon-Pear IPA Sauce

Yes, you read that correctly. Odd combination, but I promise you, it works. It works really well, in fact. Publix had a huge sale on pork chops last week - lean pork chops were dropped to $4.99 a pound and were buy one get one free. I stocked up on them since that was a killer price, and I froze them in portions of two. However, this now means that I have a freezer full of pork chops, causing me to come up with some new pork chop recipes. Fortunately, pork is pretty versatile and can be made so many different ways.

I hadn't made the Stout-Glazed Pork Chops in awhile, and was thinking about those earlier, when I realized that I didn't have any stout beer in the fridge. I did have some IPA, which happens to be Mike's favorite. I figured I'd test drive something new, and started playing around with what I had on hand. As I was staring blankly into my cabinet, I noticed a bottle of pear-infused white balsamic vinegar. I was intrigued, so I mixed a little bit in a small Pyrex dish, along with some of the beer. Surprisingly, it was really good! It almost had a cider-like taste to it, so I added a dash of cinnamon, and I was sold.

Any kind of IPA will do. We had some of this from Trader Joe's, so I decided it would be my guinea pig, mostly because it was the cheapest bottle in the fridge.

There are so many different flavors of vinegars out there. If you have a favorite kind, give it a try! Just make sure you mix it up beforehand to make sure the tastes work together. I also mixed it with regular white balsamic, but there was something about the pear that gave it a much better flavor.

Pork Chops with Cinnamon-Pear IPA Sauce

- 4 boneless lean pork chops, about 1 inch thick
- 1 1/4 cups of IPA style beer
- 2 Tablespoons of pear infused white balsamic vinegar
- Small vidalia onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon of butter
- salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Season chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and add to the pan. Cook about 3 minutes per side.

Remove chops from heat and set aside. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Add onions to the pan and cook them, stirring often, for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and add to the plate with the chops. Keep covered with foil.

Add the beer, vinegar, and cinnamon to the pan. Whisk for several minutes until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken up.

Once the sauce has thickened, add the onions and pork chops back to the pan. Cover and cook for 3 minutes per side.

As a side dish, I made this Tomato Vegetable Casserole from my Giada deLaurentis cookbook. It was SO good! Definitely a keeper.

As you can see, my sauce was a little thinner than it should be, but that's because I was being impatient. It was still super delicious. Next time, I'll give my sauce a few more minutes. It's definitely worth the wait :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sticky, Gooey, Deliciousness

Hello, friends! Looks like I'm sticking to that New Year's resolution REAL well, huh? :) Truth be told, I miss blogging. Between working, gym, cooking, dog, husband - by the time I sit down at night, I'm beat. I've decided to not let that happen happen anymore. I'll get back into a rhythm soon.

However...I did want to share some awesome cupcakes I made last week. My girlfriends and I have been doing monthly girls' wine nights, and we rotate houses each month. Along with that, we pick a theme each time. The first one was California wines, the second one (at my house) was French, and this month's was Spanish wines. Since I'll use any excuse to bake something, I decided to make dulce de leche cupcakes since those are Spanish themed. For some reason, I've been on a huge caramel kick lately. I'll do just about anything for a piece of sea-salted caramel. I found a few recipes online, and ended up using this one. I've made a few things from this site before and everything's turned out really well. These were no exception! The only thing I did differently was double the amount of dulce de leche and filled each cupcake with it, in addition to adding it into the frosting. I had a bunch of leftovers (surprisingly, since I feel like I ate half the batter as I was making them), so I took them to work and quickly learned that Georgia folks don't know what dulce de leche is. I guess growing up in Florida (especially in Miami), it was practically a staple. Anyway, here's the end result. I miss them already.

Seriously - how can you resist that??

FYI - for those of you who, like my Georgia friends, don't know what dulce de leche is, it's sweetened condensed milk that's cooked down to a caramel-like consistency. It's pretty flippin' amazing. Not to mention, ADDICTING!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lentil Soup 2.0

I'm back from a crazy, but fun, weekend! We went down to Tampa on Friday for a wedding. We got to spend some time with our nephew (and godson!), Tyler, and then saw all of our friends on Saturday for our friends Kyle and Mel's wedding. The wedding was Kentucky Derby themed, so all of the girls wore big derby hats, and all the guys wore bowties and pastels. I still have to upload the pics, so expect to see those within the next few days.

Anyway, back to the lentils. We all know that lentils are good for you, however, did you know that lentils are a superfood? According to Self.com, the top 10 superfoods are salmon, apples, quinoa, lentils, olive oil, eggs, yogurt, sweet potatoes, kiwi, and edamame. They all have different health benefits and honestly, I absolutely love everything on that list. I suddenly had a craving and decided to make my lentil soup again, so that I can eat it for the rest of the week. I made a few little changes to it and to tell you the truth, I liked it even better than the first time I made it. In addition to the original ingredients, I added red bell pepper, garbanzo beans, and cumin. I think the pepper and cumin made a big difference in the taste. I also added a little extra paprika and garlic. I revised the original recipe - click on the link below and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Adventures in Blue Ridge

As I mentioned, April 9th was our 2 year anniversary. Last year, we went on a cruise that we planned together. This year, Mike wouldn't tell me where we were going...I still didn't really even know once we got there. His list of what I needed to pack was a little bizarre so needless to say, I was slightly concerned...

We ended up in Blue Ridge, GA, which is about 2 hours north of us. We turned into a lodge-style hotel, which turned out to be AH-mazing! It's called Serenity in the Mountains and it really was great. I would totally go back and stay there again. It's like the love child of a spa and a lodge. The suites were huge, clean, and beautiful. Check this out...

The bathroom was practically the size of the entire first floor of my house.

We could throw a party for 10 people in that shower. 

This is where I spent Friday and Saturday night. Ahhh....

The bed was SO comfortable! It was king sized, which we decided that we need since we both like to sprawl out, and our 20 pound dog somehow takes up the entire bed. 

They had a thing for bears. Pictures of bears on the walls, lamps with bears in the suite...

So by now, you're probably thinking we spent the entire weekend hanging out with our bear lamps, right? Nope! We had adventures, people. 

On Saturday morning, we drove up to Tennessee and went white water rafting! It was my first time going and it was actually a lot of fun. We did a 5 mile ride down the Ocoee River.

That's not us, but that's exactly where we were. We drove around and watched the other people battle the splashing when we were done.

One of the Olympic competition sites from 1996.

For those of you who watch Cupcake Wars on Food Network, this was the winning team from last year! We got the winning S'mores cupcake and it did not disappoint. 

This is "downtown." You're looking at the tallest buildings there! 

I made a new friend.

After our anniversary dinner (don't we look so tired from all that rafting?)

On Sunday, we got up and went horseback riding! I hadn't been in so long. I grew up going to the stables with my aunt, who was an avid horseback rider, and in high school, I worked as an assistant horseback riding instructor at summer camp.

I know what you're thinking - that helmet is really flattering on me. 

We rode through the Chattahoochee National Forrest for about 3-4 hours. It was really nice and fortunately, our horses behaved themselves. Before we left, we also stopped at Mercier Orchards. They have an awesome store with tons of products - fresh peach and apple cider, pies, sauces, and every type of jam, preserve and butter you can think of. And all of it's made on-site! Of course, we stocked up. I'm dying to go back in the Fall so we can go apple picking!

This little lady hopped out of the woods to say "hi!"

It was a really nice weekend and I'm definitely itching to go back - especially when it's hot out because I can only imagine how good that water will feel in the summer! Mike also treated us to a couples massage at the spa on-site, on Saturday afternoon. I must say, it was one of the BEST massages and very well needed. 

Thank you, babe - you did well! :)