Vacation Ideas: Top Things to do on a Weekend Trip to Nashville

1. Take a stroll on The Honky Tonk Highway. An amazing sight to see and experience while in Nashville! Live music, food, drinks, music history, souvenirs, roof top bars and lots of crowds. Ole Red, owned by one of my favorites, Blake Shelton, was my favorite roof top view and live band music. Visit https://www.visitmusiccity.com/things-to-do/attractions/honky-tonk-highway for more information.

2. When in the Hometown of Country Music, you have to see a live recording at The Grand Ole Opry. It was an entertaining lineup and we also took a backstage tour, which including a lot of history and fun facts. Visit https://www.opry.com/home

3. Take a Mural Scavenger Hunt! Many famous murals that you have seen on social media are located in Nashville. We incorporated them while eating and drinking our way through Nashville.

4. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. We opted for the self-guided audio tour, which highlighted 41 exhibits in the museum. It brought you from the start of country music to present day. This was a great way for my husband, who does not listen to country music, become more familiar with its history and development in the music world. Visit https://countrymusichalloffame.org/

5. Booking a trolley tour was an easy way to see the whole city in a quick amount of time! While on the Old Town Trolley Tour, you can hop on and off at the 15 different stops. You can also stay on the trolley for the whole tour, which lasts approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Visit https://www.trolleytours.com/nashville

6. Visit the Farmers’ Market, located in Bicentennial Park. A unique venue for all things local! Food, drinks and artisans. Saturdays are best with many local vendors who come to visit and sell fresh produce and crafts.

7. Walk through the campus of Vanderbilt University and check out the souvenirs at the campus bookstore, located in Barnes and Noble.

8. If you are brave enough, like my husband, try Hot Chicken (which is fried chicken with different levels of a hot rub, not sauce)! Let’s just say he bit off more than he could chew! It was so hot! We ate at Party Foul, but other popular options include Hattie B’s and Prince’s.

9. Treat yourself! As usual, I ate my way through Nashville! Five Daughters Donuts (Salted Caramel Chocolate) , Goo Goo Chews (Original and Peanut Butter), and GiGi’s Cupcakes (Vanilla Salted Caramel) were my favorites! Visit https://fivedaughtersbakery.com/ , https://gigiscupcakesusa.com/ , and https://googoo.com/

10. Eat local dinner fare favorites. Urban Grub on 12 South was a family recommendation and it did not disappoint! Our waiter created our Grub Experience, which included some Southern Delights, Pork Chops, Collard Greens, Four Cheese Mac ‘n Cheese, Po’ Boys, Biscuits, Letters to Juliet for a drink and an All American Dessert Sampler, which included Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Apple Pie Ala Mode, Churros, Sugar Cookies, and Funnel Cake.

11. Eat, indulge, drink and dine in local and unique shops in various areas, including The Gulch and 12 South. One famous spot is Draper James, owned by one of my favorite actresses, Reese Witherspoon, which is located on 12 South (located near Urban Grub, the “I Believe in Nashville” mural, and Five Daughters Donuts).

12. A movie tip…you hear a lot about Johnny Cash and June Carter and his presence in Nashville, I recommend downloading “Walk the Line” with Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix for your plane ride.

13. Looking for a little R and R while in Nashville, book a room at the J W Marriott. Offers a convenient location near the Country Hall of Fame and a less than 10 minute walk to Honky Tonk Highway. The rooftop pool and spa was an added bonus to our weekend getaway! Visit website at https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bnajw-jw-marriott-nashville/?scid=bb1a189a-fec3-4d19-a255-54ba596febe2

Have a great vacation y’all!

Mom’s Classic Muffin Recipe: Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

 

We recently ate an amazing Sunday Dinner at my Mom’s, and then she treated us to tea and an old-fashioned recipe from our past… Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins. I grew up enjoying these muffins, so I indulged in a huge muffin (a little gluten-cheat treat for me on this particular day, I couldn’t pass it up!) This recipe has been shared and published for many years. We also recently enjoyed them at a small bakery countertop located at Jordan’s Furniture in Avon, MA .

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins (Recipe compliments of Jordan Marsh)

Ingredients: 1/2 cups softened butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar plus 3 tsp sugar,  2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 cups flour, 1/2 salt, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup milk, 2 cups blueberry (washed and drained),

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line muffin pan with liners.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time.
  4. Beat in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Add the flour alternately with the milk, beating gently. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  6. Mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries. Add the mashed and whole berries to the batter, stirring just to combine and distribute.
  7. Scoop the batter into muffin pan.
  8. Sprinkle extra sugar on each muffin.
  9. Bake the muffins for about 20-30 minutes, until light golden brown on top.

Here’s a photo from my mom’s recipe book collection.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies – You’d Be Fooled!

These Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies could have fooled anyone! I have been visiting a new cafe in my town and indulge in their gluten-free baked good items. The owner shared with me that she uses King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Measure to Measure  Flour for any gluten-free baking recipes at the cafe. I was craving her cookies one day, searched Pinterest, and came across this Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. You would never even know they were Gluten-Free… I even fooled my own kids! Here is the recipe from Pinterest and it is pretty close to Latte Love Cafe’s cookies!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (Compliments of lifeslittlesweets.com, inspired by Latte Love Cafe and some of my own minor preferences. Thank You for sharing!)

Ingredients: 2 1/4 cups King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Measure to Measure Flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 large eggs, 2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together butter, both sugars, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add one egg at a time and beat well.
  5. Add in flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time.
  6. Add in chocolate chips.
  7. Scoop 1 tbsp of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Greek Pasta Bake

We were recently hit with a snowstorm and my refrigerator was not prepared! Dinnertime came and I had no idea what to make for dinner. I ended up using some leftover “Pizza Night” toppings and came up with this recipe, which was a huge success! I will definitely make it again, stormstorm or not! I decided to call it Greek Pasta Bake, and I hope you enjoy it as well!

Greek Pasta Bake

Ingredients: For a 9 in pie dish baking size: 10 -15 oz package frozen spinach, grilled chicken (sliced) Tip: marinating chicken in Greek dressing before grilling chicken is a nice touch, but not necessary , feta cheese (crumbled), mozzarella cheese (shredded), 1/2 lb  Mezze Penne (or any pasta of your choice), garlic powder, salt, pepper, basil, 2-3 tbsp olive oil.

Directions:

  1. Prepare spinach. Cook frozen spinach in microwave (as directed on package). Drain spinach and add olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, mozzarella cheese and basil.
  2. Boil pasta according to package. Drain.
  3. Combine grilled chicken, spinach mix, cooked pasta, feta cheese and mozzarella.
  4. Top with extra mozzarella cheese.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until cheese is golden on top.

A Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

I recently hosted our family over to celebrate my son’s birthday. Much to my surprise, one of our guests attempted a new recipe for a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake, as a surprise for me and my new gluten restrictions. It was such a kind gesture and so sweet and moist, I just had to share the recipe that she used on my blog. So, for all of my gluten-free followers, here is a great recipe to use at your next birthday party for Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake compliments of King Arthur Flour.

Recipe can be found at https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-chocolate-cake-recipe

French Meringue Cookies Recipe… An A+ Recipe

Parlez-vous français? My daughter decided to take French this year as her foreign language. One of her assignments this past quarter was to share a french-inspired food with the class. She decided to bake French Meringue Cookies, and trusted her go to brand and website at http://www.wilton.com. Much to her surprise, the other students liked them, especially how professional they looked! Needless to say, I wanted to share this simple, yet elegant, recipe with my followers. Thank you to Wilton for always inspiring my daughter to bake their tasty creations!

French Meringue Cookies (Recipe compliments of Wilton.com)

Ingredients: 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 cup Meringue Powder, 1/2 cup water, 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, food coloring ( your choice)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place parchment paper on cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, whip meringue power and water with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. While still mixing, gradually add sugar. Whip until stiff peaks. Add vanilla and coloring and whip until combined.
  3. Fill a decorator tip of your choice and decorator bag of your choice (she used Pampered Chef’s Easy Accent Decorator for this recipe). Pipe 2 in circles  or swirls onto the parchment paper (She used the markings on the Reynolds Wrap Brand Parchment Paper for spacing).
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until meringues feel crispy. Cool completely.

For more French-inspired recipes, visit our other blog recipes at An Easy and Unique “Steak and Frites” Recipe and Nutella Crepes

Gluten-Free PB Cup Energy Bites Recipe

If you have not caught on yet…combining peanut butter and chocolate is my favorite combination! Here is a simple recipe that I make every week…PB Cup Energy Bites! They are gluten-free, (which has been helpful with my recent gluten-free trial, see blog at Overnight Oats Recipe…A Gluten-Free Recipe for a New Patient ), only uses 5 ingredients and it is a no-bake recipe!

Gluten-Free PB Cup Energy Bites (Recipe compliments of chefsavvy.com. Thank you!)

Ingredients: 2/3 cup organic creamy PB, 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, 1 cup gluten-free old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup flax seeds, 2 tbsp organic honey

Directions:

  1. Combine and stir all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes (so they are easier to roll).
  3. Roll into 12 bites and store in covered container for up to 1 week.
  4. Indulge!

For another energy bite recipe, see blog at No-Bake Energy Bites

Gluten-Free Instant PB Cup Oatmeal

I will admit it, sometimes I forget to make my Overnight Oats recipe at night for breakfast the next day, so my morning go-to recipe for Gluten-Free PB Cup Instant Oatmeal recipe is one that I created on my own. I am a fan of PB Cups, so this is my healthy breakfast option for PB Cup lovers- it is quick and easy!

Gluten-Free PB Cup Instant Oatmeal

Ingredients: 1/2 cup Quaker Oats Gluten-Free Quick 1-Minute Oats, 1 cup almond milk,  1 tbsp organic creamy peanut butter, milk chocolate chips (your desired amount), 1/2 tsp chia and flax seeds

Directions:

  1. Cook oats according to package.
  2. Once oats are cooked cooked, add PB, chips and seeds. Stir.
  3. Enjoy!

For the Overnight Oats recipes referred to above, visit blog at Overnight Oats Recipe…A Gluten-Free Recipe for a New Patient

Overnight Oats Recipe…A Gluten-Free Recipe for a New Patient

Happy New Year 2019!

I know it has been a while since I have been online. Hope everyone had a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday season! The new year is off to a  good start so far for me. One of the newer changes in my life is, due to some health benefits, my doctor recommended I try a a gluten-free diet. While I was not on board at first, I did promise to try it out. Well, I have been “mostly” gluten-free for about 4 months now and I have been seeing positive results regarding my health. Now, don’t let me fool you, trying to go gluten-free is not as easy as it seems. Eating out at restaurants is probably the easiest, which shocked me. Food shopping is easy as well, as there are so many options available! Cooking at home is a little tricky because I am the only member of my family trying this gluten-free option, so I often make variations of my normal go-to recipes for my family and substitute gluten-free options (pasta, bread, bread crumbs, rice, etc.) for me. Being invited to an event, I think, poses the most awkward situation for me personally, I just choose the best options and will often save these events as my cheating meals. So, while I have not needed to change many recipes in my own home (except for substituting some gluten-free ingredients), I have tried some new gluten-free recipes that I thought I would share with you over the next few posts, including Overnight Oats, Instant PB Cup Hot Oatmeal and PB Cup Energy Bites...that have been my go-to recipes for my morning routine! I don’t know how long I will keep a gluten-free lifestyle, but for now, it is working for me and a cheat meal or day works for me!

Gluten Free Overnight Oats Recipe (Recipe compliments of my friend who found it on Foodnetwork.com, with my own topping preferences)

Ingredients: 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup old-fashioned gluten free rolled oats, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 tsp chia seeds, berries (optional), gluten-free granola (optional), cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine oats, yogurt, chia seeds and milk in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 5 hours.
  2. In the morning, stir and add berries, granola, cinnamon and/or honey/agave. (Note: you can substitute many different ingredients to top off the overnight oats, such as honey, agave, banana, nut butters, nuts or dried fruit.)
  3. Enjoy!

DIY “Thankful” Centerpieces for less than $4 each!

I was getting ready for our Thanksgiving Day Dinner plans today, and I realized I hadn’t really thought of table centerpieces. While out on errands today, I decided to stop in at Trader Joe’s for their amazing flower selection. After picking my fall-inspired flowers, I went home and put the centerpieces together using items I already had at home. I was so happy when it all came together so pretty, so cheap, so simple!

What You’ll Need:  mason jars ($1 each at The Dollar Tree), baker’s twine ($1 per spool at Target and Michael’s), handwritten “thankful” word tags ($1.00 for 20 Target and Michael’s), sunflowers ($4.99 for 5 at Trader Joe’s), 2-3 variety of flower sprigs ($1.99-2.99 per bunch at Trader Joe’s), pine tree branches (FREE from my backyard landscape!)

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Home Sweet Mama Mia Blog followers… I hope we inspire you to be creative, adventurous and organized!