Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Paleo Things, PB&J Bars + A Reading Assignment

I came across PaleOMG a long time ago and saved recipes like a mad woman to add to our weekly dinner menus. If you're curious about Paleo eating or are looking for healthy recipes, this blog is fantastic! It just goes to show you what I have been saying for a long time, healthy food doesn't have to be boring and tasteless. I made this Simple Bacon and Spinach Stuffed Chicken last night for dinner and OMG was it good. I made a few changes based on what I had in my kitchen. I didn't have mushrooms so I added artichokes and since I was only stuffing two chicken breasts, I only cooked 3 strips of bacon. For some extra flavor, I used half spinach and half arugula. Chicken breasts can be so boring, but stuffed with all of this goodness, your mind will be blown. Add this one to your menu. 

And on a non-Paleo note, the PB&J Bars from Trader Joe's are UNREAL. A little California bird told me I needed to try it and I immediately added it to my weekly Trader Joe's run. For the love of the five year old child inside of you, PLEASE run and get one. You can find these at the cash register ;)

And...on a much more serious note, my friend Jen posted THIS and I can't help but share it. I know, I know a viewing assignment last week and now a reading assignment this week, but seriously, it's worth your five minutes. I couldn't agree more with everything that she shares in this post. This world of blogging and social media is wonderful, creative and so much fun to be a part of, but like all good things in life, MODERATION. And balance. And grace.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Doodle in Training

For the past five weeks, Wrigley has been in obedience training school and on Friday, we brought our Doodle home! Our house was quite quiet without the little monster romping around but we are happy to have our snuggly boy back where he belongs. There were many, many tears when we dropped him off at the end of January, but I can say now with confidence that this might be the best thing we will ever do for our dog. Not only did Wrigley get daily training sessions, several times a day, but Mark and I also had several sessions, at least an hour each so that we know what Wrigley was being taught and so that we can reinforce it in our own home. With a tiny baby only a few months from arriving, I now have more peace of mind knowing that our family dog will be well behaved and as loving as ever.

Welcome home, Wrigster!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Health + Fitness Friday: Hungry for Change

This week's installment of Health & Fitness Friday is an assignment...actually more like a plea. PLEASE WATCH THIS DOCUMENTARY. Mark and I watched this on Netflix last month and it pretty much sums up our thoughts on the commercialized food industry in America and why we eat the way that we do. When it comes down to it, food marketers and the industry as a whole sends out tricky and deceptive messages. Diet sodas and low fat packaged foods- I'm looking at you. Artificial sweeteners are no bueno and "low fat" means higher in sugar and other additives. It's been years since I carefully counted and nit-picked every single calorie I ate throughout the day but the truth of the matter is, when you cut out the junk and eat clean, whole foods, it's not necessary. And guess what? It's nearly impossible to get a "perfect score" every single day. If you keep 85-90% of your day on the right track, it's okay to indulge every now and then. I have so many thoughts on this and could go on for days, but instead, I urge you all to do your research and pay attention to what you are putting in your bodies. Healthy habits for life can be achieved by anyone.

This documentary is filled with great content that is explained in a clear and concise way. If you have access to Netflix, I highly recommend watching Hungry for Change. Your 90 minutes will be well spent. Additionally, you can find the official Hungry for Change website HERE.

For more inspiring Health + Fitness Friday posts, head over to my friend Jen's blog, A Daily Dose of Davis, and see what everyone is writing about this week.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tomato, Asparagus, Kalamata and Basil + Mozzarella Frittata

Eggs seem to always be labeled as a breakfast exclusive food but I don't understand why. I haven't always been a fan of eggs but over the years, my love for the liquid chicken has grown and so has a list of endless possibilities.

Eggs on burgers.
Eggs on pizza.
Eggs on salads.
Eggs for dinner. 


Frittatas are a weekend breakfast favorite in our house, but they also make an appearance on the dinner menu from time to time. In a quick pinch, these are easy and delicious to make and a complete meal on their own. Eggs, plus veggies plus cheese baked Served with thick cut bacon and a simple mixed greens salad, this is better than the average Breakfast for Dinner menu. 

I made a similar frittata for our New Year's Day brunch and more than the actual recipe, I instantly was drawn to the method of preparation. Instead of whisking all of the eggs up together, the whites are separated, whipped and folded in, making for an extra fluffy frittata. Our frittatas have been forever changed. 

Tomato, Asparagus, Kalamata and Basil + Mozzarella Frittata
adapted from Donatella Arpaia

8 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup half and half or whole milk
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. asparagus spears, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place rack in the center.

Separate 4 of the eggs, placing the yolks in a medium bowl and the whites in a large one. Add the remaining 4 eggs to the egg yolks and whisk in half and half, Romano, Mozzarella and basil.  Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they have formed stiff peaks. Fold whipped egg whites into egg yolk mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add chopped asparagus and cook until bright green, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Pour egg mixture into the pan and cook, lifting the edges with a spatula to allow the uncooked eggs to flow to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the edges of the frittata are firm and the center is still runny, about 7-10 minutes. Place the pan in the oven and bake for an additional 8 minutes, until set, puffed and golden. 

Cool slightly and flip over onto a large plate. Cut into wedges, serve and enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Celebrate Love

Smile, tell someone that you love them and find a reason to dance today. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Paleo Snack Bites

Every day, about mid-afternoon, I find myself wanting a snack. A sweet snack. I know they say that if an apple doesn't sound good, you really aren't hungry, but I tend to disagree. My taste buds need variety and an apple doesn't always cut it.

I recently mixed up my own version of these No Bake Energy Bites and with a few simple swaps, I made this recipe Paleo. These bite sized snacks are perfect to grab on the go in the morning on the way to the gym or during that mid-afternoon "I don't want an apple I would rather have a cupcake but I know I need to make healthy choices" craving. Both sweet and satisfying, I promise it's love at first bite and a sweet treat you don't have to feel guilty about.

Paleo Snack Bites
makes 20-25 bites

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup almond flour (or almond meal)
2 tsp. chia seeds
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup pure grade a dark amber maple syrup (or raw honey)
1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
1 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil

Gather all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Mix until combined. Place bowl in freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. Scoop out mixture in small spoonfuls and form into balls. 

Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to two weeks. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sweets for your Sweetie

Happy Fat Tuesday! I thought today would be appropriate to share some of my favorite sweet eats from past posts. With Valentine's Day in just two days, you still have time to gather everything you need to whip up something sweet for your sweetie! And if you're giving up desserts for Lent? Well, sprint to gather your ingredients now and enjoy something indulgent before tomorrow. 

Out of everything listed below, I'm not sure I could even try to pick a favorite. Any of these delights would be a perfectly sweet ending to the day. I'll take one of each, please! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Health + Fitness Friday: Grocery List Staples

I have said it before and I will say it again (and again and again and again), meal planning and intentional grocery shopping are two of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It's so important to stock your kitchen with healthy, wholesome items so that what you have available is good for your body. For Health and Fitness Friday this week, I thought it might be helpful to share some of my grocery list tips and some of the things that I keep our kitchen stocked with.

At the beginning of each week, I typically sit down and create a meal plan and grocery list for the week. I include what we need for our meals, plus lots of fresh produce. My grocery cart is usually 50% produce and full of color- which I love! When it to fresh items, I usually buy what looks the best and according to what's in season. Refrigerator items like almond milk and Greek yogurt always appear on the weekly list. For freezer and pantry items, I find that it's easiest to keep a magnetic notepad on my fridge so that I can keep track of things as we run out or are close to it. If we open a jar of almond butter, I make sure to write it on my notepad so that I can buy a backup! Many of the staple items in our kitchen not only make for healthy snack options, but also make it possible to whip up dinner on a whim when we have to veer from the meal plan or I just want to make something easier than what's on the list.

I've put together a list of our kitchen staples and foods that are always found in our kitchen. These items are broken down into four categories: FREEZER, FRIDGE, FRESH and PANTRY.


Frozen berries are great, especially when fresh berries are out of season! I find that Trader Joe's has the best prices. I add frozen berries to my protein shakes, greek yogurt or on top of a protein pancake. 

Frozen Tilapia & Salmon are a must to keep on hand! I buy most of our other meats fresh but since most fish is delivered to the grocery stores frozen already, this is a no brainer! Frozen fish thaws in minutes and makes for a quick and healthy dinner when roasted with some garlic, lemon & olive oil. All you need is a salad on the side!

Bananas are purchased fresh, and then I let them ripen, peel, break in half and freeze. Again, perfect for smoothies or pop in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir into plain Greek yogurt.


Eggs (Eggland's Best or Trader Joe's Omega-3)
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
Greek Yogurt (Fage 2% Total, plain)
Laughing Cow Cheese


Greens are a must! I like to keep a variety on hand so that we can enjoy salads with dinner or for lunch, or throw spinach in a smoothie. Arugula, Kale, Spinach and baby greens are my favorite.

Garlic should go without saying.

Onions are another given. I always have both sweet and red.

Avocados can be used on top of salads, scrambled eggs or just as a snack with a little lime juice and salt. Healthy fats are good for you!

Apples make a great snack with a wedge of Laughing Cow or a smear of almond butter. 

Citrus in all forms! Fresh lemons, limes, and oranges freshen up water, marinades, dressings and smoothies. 

Berries when they're in season!

Fresh vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus or green beans can be roasted with olive oil and sea salt for healthy dinner sides. Vine ripened tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers are other favorites.


Canned beans to add to salads or make homemade hummus! I like cannelinis and garbanzos.

Almond Meal to use as a healthy substitute to breadcrumbs on chicken, fish and pork.

Nuts to snack on, sprinkle on Greek yogurt or add to salads. They also make a great "crust" on all types of meat when crushed.

Crushed tomatoes (unsalted) can be used in soups or to make quick marinara sauces.

Almond Butter/Peanut Butter does not need an explanation!

Dijon Mustard is something I add frequently to salad dressings and marinades.

Protein Powder so that we always have what we need for morning smoothies!

Dark Chocolate Chips for when the sweet tooth cries out for some love. Just a few of these satisfy a chocolate craving when necessary- the darker the chocolate the better! (at least 60% cacao)

To make planning and shopping easier, there are tons of free menu/grocery planning printables right at our fingertips! Jen's happens to be my favorite and I keep multiple blank copies in my Home Management Binder! Click HERE to download your own copy.

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Caprese Pops

I was on appetizer duty for an Italian family dinner this past weekend and my ever faithful trio of tomato, basil and mozzarella was an obvious choice. This is a great way to enjoy the flavors of Caprese in bite sized portions with a fun presentation.

There's no wrong way to eat Caprese.

Caprese Pops

Grape tomatoes, cut in half horizontally
Ciliegine (small fresh mozzarella balls)
Fresh basil leaves
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Bamboo skewers

Place fresh mozzarella balls in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. 

Arrange pops as shown in the photo above. Serve on a platter.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is nothing quite like a perfect chocolate chip cookie. Crisp and firm on the outside with a chewy, melty, chocolatey center. The recipe on the back of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips was always an easy pleaser, but the results never quite lived up to my chocolate chip cookie criteria. I feel like I have spent years looking for such a recipe and I can now say that 2013 has been THE YEAR. The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies are officially the BEST EVER. 

I have had this recipe on my must-bake list for quite some time now as these chocolate chip cookies have the reputation of being quite famous. Well, let me just say that they are as heavenly as I hoped they would be. Plus so much more.

This recipe sets itself apart by combining cake flour and bread flour, over a pound of rich, dark chocolate chips and a resting time for the dough of 24-36 hours. But the real punch, in my opinion, is the sprinkle of sea salt added to the top of each cookie right before baking. 

For purposes of testing, Mark and I dug into the dough the night I mixed it up and baked two cookies. They were exceptional, indeed, but letting the dough sit for almost 36 hours resulted in something even tastier. 

I don't think I'll ever be able to involve myself with another chocolate chip cookie besides this one.

The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe from The New York Times, adapted from Jaques Torres

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. cake flour
1 2/3 cup bread flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/4 cups)
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds dark chocolate chips
Sea salt

Sift flours, baking soda and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate chips in and incorporate without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24-36 hours. Dough may be used in batches and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat and set aside.

Scoop six 3.5 oz. mounds (about the size of a generous golf ball) of dough onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18-20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack and let cool completely.