food, travel, lifestyle, and a hearty serving of motherhood

Month: October 2014

Healthy Snacks & Race Day

Thanks to my Mom and sister, I’ve fallen for Graze boxes.


These snack-filled recycled cardboard boxes are delivered straight to your mailbox each week… or every other week, or as often as you like! Each box contains 4 small, individually-packaged healthy snacks. The snacks range from nuts and seeds, granola bars (or “flapjacks”, as Graze calls them), dried fruits, and even “dippers”, meaning there is a small pocket of sauce or dip to accompany your snack! Yum!


Some snacks are sweet, while some are savory. I’ve been receiving my Graze boxes for months now, and it’s always a nice treat to open the mailbox each Monday to find a new box!

I throw a few packs in my gym bag, so that I’ve always got something to nibble on post-workout. Shoot, I even keep a few in my purse for those days when errands take much longer than I anticipated! Oh, and each box contains a nutritional information insert with the details of each snack. Super helpful for those of us using MyFitnessPal.

Anyways, race day is coming up (yet again!) this Sunday — the Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon & Half-Marathon!


This will be my fourth half-marathon, and it will also mark the very special 1-year since my first big race. The 2013 City of Oaks was the first half-marathon for both Richard and myself! It was SUCH a sense of accomplishment (and pain), crossing that 13.1 finish line one year ago.


I worry that I have not trained on enough hills for this daunting downtown Raleigh road race… but I am keeping my fingers crossed that I beat my personal race time on Sunday, as I have with each race since November of last year.

Anyways, I’ve eaten half of a tasty Summer Berry Flapjack (the rest is for when I get back!), and now I’m out the door for a long run before my final dress fitting this afternoon! Send me some good vibes for Sunday’s big race!

xo Cassie

Butternut Squash Tart

I can’t stop making tarts.


It’s a real problem.

Hm, or is it?

Okay, here’s the thing about tarts. THEY ARE SO SIMPLE. And for the fall months, let’s be real. All you REALLY want for dinner is something cheesy and crusty to keep you warm while marathoning your Netflix shows. Throw some tomato soup on the side and you’ve got yourself some dinner bliss.

I’ve turned Deb Perelman’s Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette into a tasty tart — perfect for dinner or served cold for brunch! The butternut squash from Johnson’s Pumpkin farm is so tender and tasty. That’s what I like to call LOCAL produce.

Butternut Squash Tart with Sweet Caramelized Onions and Fontina // Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields 6 servings

1 store-bought 9-inch pie crust
2 small butternut squash (approximately 500-600g)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 small vidalia onions, halved and thinly sliced into “half moons”
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper (if desired)
6-7oz fontina cheese, shredded
3 fresh thyme sprigs

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel and halve the squash, scooping out the seeds and “goop”. Roughly dice squash into 1/4-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, toss the cubed squash in 1 tbsp olive oil and then spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast the squash for about 30 minutes, turning once halfway to allow for even browning.
2. While the squash is roasting, begin caramelizing the onions by melting the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions, sugar, salt, and cayenne and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Lightly grease a tart/pie pan. Add the store-bought pie dough, using your fingers to press around the edges, forming the dough to the shape of the pan.
4. When the squash and onions are done, combine in a large bowl with the shredded fontina. Mix gently.
5. Pour the squash mixture into the pie pan and spread the mixture out evenly. Bake until golden brown, 30-45 minutes. The fontina will brown quite nicely!
6. Sprinkle fresh thyme over the tart when it comes out of the oven — and enjoy warm or cold, as leftovers!

Roasting squash





Here’s hoping this keeps you warm while you catch up on YOUR shows. By the way, if you’re not already watching Luther, you need to be.

xo Cassie

A Weekend in Portland, Maine

Lighthouses. Steaming cups of seafood chowder. Trees drenched in reds, oranges, and the brightest yellows imaginable. Oysters on the half shell. Frosty craft beers. Lobster rolls. Panoramic ocean views.

This is Portland.


Back Cove

Lobster rolls

Back Cove 2

Back Cove 3





Lobster Ale




(Oh, AND I took almost 9 minutes off my previous half-marathon time! 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 14 minutes.)

Portland is an amazing little city with so many things to offer.

We ate at Gilbert’s Chowder House 3 times in 4 days. THREE TIMES. Their lobster rolls were the best around, and the seafood chili (yep, they have a tomato-based seafood chili) is to-die-for on a breezy day by the sea.

Portland’s breweries are endless and seem to be popping up overnight, much like North Carolina’s beloved Asheville.

The hills are shockingly San Francisco-esque in some areas, which made for gorgeous views of the ocean and Back Cove and Casco Bay (and also made me really nervous for race day!)

Overall, this trip left me feeling calm, rejuvenated, and ready for fall. Thank you for your hospitality, Portland.

xo Cassie

Johnson’s Pumpkin Farm

On Sunday, my grandparents and I headed to Angier to pick up some of the most amazing pumpkins from a very sweet couple, Doug and Freda Johnson, of Johnson’s Pumpkins. And wow, it was such a warm day that we even stopped at Sunny Sky’s for ice cream on the way back to Apex! Um, Caramel Praline… wow.

To celebrate the arrival of beautiful October, I thought I’d share some of my photographs from that fun trip!

Pumpkins 1

I’m a sucker for pumpkins with deep grooves and little stems that twist and turn!

Pumpkins 3

It’s difficult to buy just 1 or 2 when you have a variety of colors to choose from!

Pumpkins 4

Looks like a little grasshopper has claimed this one.

Pumpkins 5

Now there’s a prime example of deep grooves and a twisted stem!

Pumpkins 2

This color reminds me of “Cinderella” pumpkins. I love the grey-green.


Tiny pumpkin warts.


Miniature horses begging for some attention, plus a normal-sized horse!


My grandparents and I, squinting to keep the pesky little bugs out of our eyes!


“Lucky” rolling around, hamming it up for the camera.

Lucky 2

Such a perfect little Halloween kitty, huh?


Myself, my grandmother (Mary), Freda, and Freda’s granddaughter Cameron.

Trailer of pumpkins

I’ll be sharing some snapshots of my at-home pumpkin decorations in a later post, as well as some food posts — we bought pumpkins and butternut squash for roasting!

What is your favorite way to enjoy fall squash? Do you prefer sweet or savory pumpkin / squash dishes? I’ve got a Jose Garces recipe for Cuban butternut squash soup with crab and zucchini that I’m eyeing…

For now, a very happy October to you!

xo Cassie

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