Monday, August 13, 2018

#CLTforCharlotte



If there's one thing that I will always love about blogging, it's the sense of community it brings. I started this little space almost 10 years ago which is crazy to think about! Social media and the internet can be a crazy place, but I have met some of my dearest friends through blogging and for that I'm forever thankful. 

I'm popping in today to share the story of my friend April's sweet little girl Charlotte in hopes to reach more people and share a few things we are doing around the city of Charlotte and beyond to help this wonderful family. 

Here's a quick snippet of Charlotte's story below:

Our Chari-girl. 💕 Many of you have followed along on our journey and know we’ve been desperately seeking answers for why Charlotte didn’t start walking and why we’ve seen other scary regressions lately. I wanted an answer so badly. Now I wish we didn’t have it. We are heartbroken to say we’ve received news that she has Leukodystrophy, which is incurable and terminal. I don’t even know what to say. We’ve been at the hospital since Monday afternoon. We have a group of angels as friends who have stepped in and set up a designated email address to manage for us requests that have been coming in of how to love on her during this excruciating time (robsonfamilyhelp at gmail). We are respectfully requesting for privacy at this time while we just love on Char and work on getting her home.
A post shared by April R. (@smidgeofthis) on


A Go Fund Me has been set up for the Robson family to help with medical and any other unforeseen expenses during this time.

Additionally, we have some super cute tees with the CLTforCharlotte logo- I can't wait to see everyone around Charlotte and beyond wearing these. The t-shirt sales end THIS SATURDAY, August 18, 2018! We originally set the goal to sell 150 shirts but sales sky rocketed this weekend and now I'm thinking we can get to 500 or beyond! Just amazing.



CLICK HERE for Adult and Youth tees.

CLICK HERE for Toddler tees and Baby onesies

All the prayers and love to this sweet family.





Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Grilled Okra



We spent this past weekend in the mountains of North Carolina (Beech Mountain for you NC readers) and the air up there is just so refreshing! I spent 4 years in Boone for college but I never ever spent a Summer in the mountains and I almost wished I had. It's such a nice slow pace at this time of year and although it's still warm and Summery, it's just always extra crisp. 

I have simple meals on deck this week and as I was scrolling through my iPhone photos, this beautiful plate of grilled okra caught my eye and I had to share. If you're not grilling your okra, you're doing it wrong and if you're not eating okra? Well then you're doing it REALLY wrong. I do think that okra is mostly a texture thing and any aversion to it would have to be that but I have really grown to love this vegetable. Roasted, sauteed, fried- with grilled being my most favorite at all. It's a Summer staple in our house, especially since it's so easy to find fresh at this time of year. 

This isn't so much a recipe as it is a PSA to get yourself to a farmer's market or grocery store and grab a bunch of okra and throw it on the grill. I promise you it will change your relationship with this southern vegetable. 

A veggie grilling basket will change your grill game so if you don't have one, get on it! You can do all of your Summer vegetables this way and they always come out so good with SO MUCH FLAVOR. 

Grilled Okra

Fresh okra, washed and dried
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the okra by washing and drying it. You can remove the tops, but I always leave them on and they are fine to eat! 

In a large bowl, toss okra with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to a grilling basket/skillet and grill for 5-10 minutes, tossing frequently, until okra is charred and starting to get crispy. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Grilled Lemon Salmon Kebabs


No better way to start off the week than with a healthy dinner recipe! My love for salmon knows no bounds and I'm always looking for fresh and new ways to prepare it. I LOVE grilling it in the Summer and getting that smokey grill flavor. Kebabs have been having a moment at our house, too. It's so easy to chop up a bunch of fresh ingredients, put them on a stick and throw it all on the grill. A one step meal that's delicous, healthy and doesn't take much prep time. 

These salmon kebabs are going straight to the top of my Summer favorites list. The flavor on the fish was INSANE from the grill as well as each piece being sandwiched between fresh lemon slices. Something about fish and lemon ALWAYS does it for me. I could be happy eating this as a meal every night this Summer. 

I found this recipe via Skinny Taste awhile ago and have been itching to make it. Also, how beautiful does the raw salmon and bright yellow lemon slices photograph!? These tasted as good as they looked. I tweaked the seasonings here a little and came up with my own spice rub for the salmon that was just perfect. It may sound strange, but don't forget to eat the lemons! This might be the best part of the meal.

I just can't stop thinking about these kebabs.



Lemon Salmon Kebabs

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 lb. boneless skinless wild salmon
2 lemons, thinly sliced
4-8 bamboo skewers 
Olive oil

Soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before prepping your kebabs. I was able to fit all of my lemon and fish onto 4 skewers, and had them all pretty full. If you are serving more people, divide the fish and lemons amongst 8 skewers. 

In a small bowl, combine oregano, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, kosher salt and cracked pepper.

Cut salmon into 1 inch chunks. Beginning and ending with the salmon, thread salmon and folded lemon slices onto the skewers. Sprinkle evenly with the spice rub and add a little bit more salt and pepper on top as well. Drizzle with olive oil. 

If doing these on an outside grill, grill on medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes, until fish is fully cooked through. Make sure you turn the skewers often. For a grill pan, grill on medium high heat, turning often and cooking until the fish is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Strawberry Jalapeno Simple Syrup



We had a weekend cool- down and a few days that felt so nice, breezy and almost cool, but the hot weather is back. Truthfully, I LOVE IT. I'm a Summer girl for life and as muggy and hot as it gets here, I would take these days over gray snowy ones ANY DAY. When Fall rolls around I'll be all Pumpkin spice love yesssss the best time of year is around the corner but for now, I'm sticking with Summer.

I'm coming at you mid-week with a happy hour hack that's sure to make your 5pm cocktail a little bit sweeter...and easier! My friend April shared this simple syrup tip last week and I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. Sure, simple syrup is simple enough on the stove, but why not make it simpler by making it in the microwave! Bonus points because you make it right in the mason jar so no need to transfer the mixture for fridge storage. That part is already done for you. I was shocked at how well this worked and how easy it was. Definitely a trick to have up your sleeve in a pinch or when you need a cocktail mixer for an impromptu night with friends.

The best part, is that you can totally add in any fruit and herb infusers that you have on hand which will allow you to get a little creative with your flavors! I did strawberries and jalapeno slices here and it was heavenly! This was extra delicious as a margarita mixer with some Tequila, lime juice seltzer and a splash of the syrup- and my sweet pregnant friend also enjoyed it in some orange la croix! Getting creative here, folks and you don't even have to enjoy this with alcohol. My other favorite way to enjoy a flavored simple syrup is with some Tito's vodka and Spindrift! PSA: If you grocery shop at Harris Teeter, Spindrift is BOGO this week and also $1 back on Ibotta! Not familiar with Ibotta? It's the easiest way to shop and get money back on things you are already buying at the grocery store. Sign up with my referral code HERE. (this is not sponsored! I just love using it, love getting cash back every few weeks and want to share with you all!)

 All you need is sugar, water, flavor infusers, a mason jar and 90 seconds in the microwave. Boom. And if you want to do this on the stove the old fashioned way, that works, too.

Whether you take a short cut or 

Strawberry Jalapeno Simple Syrup 

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 jalapeno, thinly sliced
2 strawberries, thinly sliced

In a mason jar, combine the water and sugar. Place in microwave for 90 seconds. If the sugar appears to have not fully dissolved yet, microwave in additional 15 second increments. As soon as no more sugar granules appear present, add in jalapeno and strawberry slices. Let the mixture come to room temperature. Strain out the berries and peppers if you like, or leave them in the mixture. Store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Italian Potato Salad



I love Summer eating, but what I don't love is feeling full and bloated and just blah from the heat and a big plate filled with ALL THE FOOD. There are so many fresh ingredients available to us in the Summer and along with that comes many ways to lighten it up any way that we can...so we can do things like have an extra glass of wine or save room for an ice cream sandwich, am I right!? It's all about balance, after all. 

Ditch the heavy mayo based salads and get on board with this super simple Italian style number. It's so much lighter than most potato salads with bright and fun colors that look pretty on any delicious spread. Parsley adds a green punch and it's unique flavor while red peppers offer some sweetness and new texture. I love the simplicity of this dish, using only olive oil as the dressing and letting the fresh herbs and veggies do the rest of the work. Leaving the skin on the potatoes is also a key step! Adds so much more. 

I grew up eating this and everytime I make it, it's a huge crowd pleaser. Not your typical potato salad and an unexpected twist on a cookout staple. I promise if you bring this along to your next get Summer get together, everyone will thank you. 


Italian Potato Salad

3-4 pounds of red skin potatoes, washed with the skin left on
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
big handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wash and chop potatoes into halves or quarters, depending on how big your potatoes are. Boil until you can pierce them easily with a fork, but not so long that they are falling apart. 

While the potatoes cook, prep your onion, garlic, parsley and roasted red peppers. 

When the potatoes are done, drain and rinse with cool water and let them sit a few minutes to cool off. Cut them into smaller chunks and place into a bowl with the onion, garlic, parsley and roasted red peppers. Drizzle all over with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss it all together and adjust your salt, pepper and olive oil to your liking. Serve at room temperature. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July!


Stars and stripes forever! Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and Happy Birthday America! 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday Faves

A quick little edition of Friday faves to kick off the weekend and head into July! 

I need this Tequila Rose Spritz in my life ASAP. Rose is having a moment right now and I'm loving it more and more. Not going to lie though, the tequila is what sold me on this. Adding to my cocktail que! 

This tequila rosé spritz cocktail is perfectly refreshing for hot summer nights. A mix between a margarita and spritzer, this starts with muddled strawberries and honey, a shot of tequila and is topped off with your favorite rosé wine! I howsweeteats.com #tequila #rosé #wine #spritz #cocktail #strawberries
image via How Sweet Eats

These Buffalo Burgers from The Defined Dish were a great deviation from a basic grilled burger. I used lean ground beef and added some green onions to the meat as well. We ate them on top of arugula with caramelized onions and some roasted okra on the side! 

Image via The Defined Dish

I've never made it a secret that I love a good neutral nail color. I recently got this Orly color (Kiss the Bride) in a gel manicure for a wedding a few weekends ago and I'm in love! I grabbed a regular bottle of it immediately. This color is GOOD. 

Orly Nail Lacquer, Kiss The Bride, 0.6 Fluid Ounce

Meet my afternoon dream team. This Starbucks iced coffee from the grocery store refrigerator section is all kinds of magic. I don't know what they put in it but I think it's a hundred times better than the iced coffee from an actual Starbucks store. I love it with a splash of half and half and lately have been adding a quick pour of the Trader Joe's Cold Brew Coconut for a little island flavor. Seriously the best.


These Beautycounter products have been game changers for my skin- especially the Cleansing Balm and Countermatch Sleep Recovery Cream. These are both SO GOOD. 



WE HAVE BLUEBERRIES! Our favorite neighbors moved and we transplanted their blueberry bush to our house. It's been moved twice now so I was a little worried about it but we've been getting a good handful of berries. It doesn't make up for all of the berries I buy at the store every week, but it's fun to have our own homegrown blueberries! 



Hope everyone enjoys another wonderful Summer weekend! 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Pan Seared Tuna with Coconut Aminos, Ginger, Jalapeno + Lime



GIVE ME ALL THE SEAFOOD. I would eat fish every night if I could. I'm obsesed with sushi and I fell into a deep deep love with ceviche while we were on our honeymoon in Turks and Caicos in 2010. When I crave fish, I almost always want that sushi-soy flavor to go with it. 

If you like fish and fresh Summer flavors, there is nothing not to love about this recipe. I made it on Monday night and cannot wait to make it again. Fresh wild caught tuna was on mega sale at my Harris Teeter this week so I pounced. My sister's fiance made it over the weekend and when they sent me a picture, I immediately started drooling and saved the recipe.

This meal is restaurant quality and SO SIMPLE. Perfect meal to treat yourself with during the week or enjoy on the weekend while entertaining friends. It's that good. I like my tuna on the rare side, but you can sear it longer on both sides to cook it through. Either way, the flavors are bright and intense. I just can't stop thinking about the tuna! 

Obsessed with this dinner is an understatement. 

Pan Seared Tuna with Coconut Aminos, Ginger, Jalapeno + Lime
recipe adapted from Tyler Florence

2 handfuls cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 limes, juiced (about 4 Tbsp. lime juice)
2 Tbsp. coconut aminos
kosher salt + freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tuna steaks or medallions (sushi quality)
1 ripe avocado, sliced

In a mixing bowl, combine cilantro, jalapeno slices, garlic, lime juice, coconut aminos and 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir to combine. 

Place a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Season the tuna generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Transfer tuna steaks to the pan of hot oil and sear for 1 minute on each side (longer to cook the tuna through). This will form a light crust. Pour half of the cilantro mixture over the tuna in the pan to coat the fish. Serve with the remaining cilantro sauce and fresh sliced avocado. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Spiked Spa Water



Apparently #TitosTuesday is a thing and since I meant to post this little cocktail recipe yesterday, let's just pretend it's still Tuesday. 

Summertime happy hours are my favorite. We eat later dinners and spend lots of time outdoors during that chunk of time between afternoon naps and when it's time to start cooking. Around the fire pit on our outdoor patio is my favorite spot to sit. It's so easy to grab a quick glass of wine or an icy cold beer from the beverage fridge, but lately I've been super into this little Tito's concoction. It's light and refreshing and I won't call it "healthy", but it's certainly a cleaner beverage option- and we are loving it. 

Just a little Spindrift, lime/lemon, some mint if you have it and a splash of Tito's- that's it! I've done this with many of the Spindrift flavors, but the cucumber is just the best. Tastes just little spa water...with an upgrade.

Spiked Spa Water

2 oz. Tito's vodka
wedge of fresh lime
Spindrift Cucumber 
Mint leaves, torn and muddled

Start with a wedge of lime and squeeze it into the bottom of your glass. Add mint leaves and muddle them a bit. Pour in 2 oz. of vodka and finish with a pour of Spindrift- more to water it down and less for a stronger drink. Give it a quick stir and add finish with ice and another wedge of lime or lemon. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Summer Strawberry + Avocado Salad with Prosecco Vinaigrette



Every season is salad season in our house, but there is something so extra tasty and fresh about salads in the Summer. I love the simple cooking that comes in the Summer. Grilling some meat or fish and making a giant salad filled to the brim with goodness to go on the side. Easy, satisfying and on the lighter side for these Summer scorcher days. 

This is my current Summer salad crush and we've been having some version of this at least once a week. I looooove the combination of the strawberries and avocado and the crispy bites of bacon are just the best. I don't always add corn but when I do, it adds a whole new level of flavor. This salad is great on it's own as a side, or add some grilled chicken, shrimp or salmon for a full meal. So much flavor going on here!! And I don't know how I ended up with Prosecco vinegar in my pantry instead of champagne vinegar, but dare I say I'll be buying the prosecco again and again. The dressing is the icing on the cake here. 

ENJOY!

Summer Strawberry + Avocado Salad

5 oz. container of your favorite salad greens (I like half baby greens mix and half arugula)
5-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 avocado, diced
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 cobs corn, cooked and the kernels cut off

Assemble all ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss with prosecco vinaigrette to combine. Serve immediately.

Prosecco Vinaigrette

Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. prosecco vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste to your liking. 




Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes



I feel like we are always in a season of TREATS. It's like there's always a reason to celebrate something and treats are always a MUST.  I have a long list of favorites and go-to recipes when these occasions arise but when I needed a dairy free recipe last month for a preschool birthday celebration, I was up for the challenge.

This is a first for me- these cupcakes are completely vegan! We aren't going vegan in this house but I've never made a vegan dessert before and this recipe is too good not to share. 
I made this recipe for Will's class to accommodate some allergies and will definitely keep this recipe as my go to next time I need something allergy friendly! 

The key to the frosting is letting the dairy free butter come to room temperature. DO NOT MELT IT. I have a little trick of microwaving dairy butter in 5 second increments to get it to room temperature quickly, but do not do this with the vegan butter. It melts quickly and then your frosting will be toast. Trust me when I say to take the time and let it come to room temperature on it's own. Your frosting will be creamy and dreamy- pinky swear! 

The texture of the cake is rich and dense and since the amount of vanilla in the recipe is on the larger side, the flavor is super vanilla-y! Classic vanilla cupcakes with a vegan twist- you won't even miss the dairy 

P.S. Don't skimp on the sprinkles! (to keep these 100% vegan, make sure you are using sprinkles that don't contain dairy- check the ingredients list)



Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes
recipe adapted from Babble

Makes 10-12 cupcakes

1 cup Flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flavorless oil (I used canola- grapeseed or safflower would work, too)
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used Ripple plant based milk)
1 Tbsp. vanilla 
1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 365 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with 10-12 liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and mix until combined. Add remaining ingredients (oil, non dairy milk, vanilla and apple cider vinegar) and beat on medium speed until no clumps remain. 

Fill the cupcake liners with batter 3/4 to the top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean. The cupcakes should bounce back slightly when pressed. 

Let cool completely before frosting.

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter, room temperature (I used Earth's Balance brand)
2 tsp. vanilla 

in the bowl of an electric mixer using a paddle attachment, beat butter until soft and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Turn speed down to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, another 2-3 minutes. If the mixture seems too wet, add in a little more powdered sugar as needed. Transfer frosting to piping bag and frost!



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June Cookbook Club: Skinnytaste Fast and Slow

Good morning! And how are we already into mid-June?! The summer days are slow and easy but time still seems to speed by. 

For the June edition of Cookbook Club, Allie and I chose a book by one of our favorite food bloggers, Fast and Slow by Gina Homolka of Skinnytaste. I love love love this book and I love Gina even more. She is one of the very first food blogs that I started reading and still remains one of my favorites. Her recipes are wholesome, healthy and super family friendly! I'm confident that anyone who frequents her blog or owns any of her cookbooks will tell you the same. 



I love Gina's approach to cooking so much. Her recipes never lack flavor and I've never made anything of hers that disappointed. Fast and Slow is filled with recipes that come together quickly as well as ones that cook all day in the slow cooker- all things that are especially appreciated during the busy weeknights that we all seem to have! 

I'm pulling out an old recipe from my archives to share with you all from the book because it's one I seriously go back to over and over again. I have made so many things out of this cookbook but the Caulflower Potato Tacos have been my favorite by far. It's such an unexpected combo of ingredients and flavors which is why I think we love it so much. I've only actually made these as tacos twice, but the cauliflower potato mixture is on regular rotation on our dinner menu as a side! The flavor is unbelievable and the addition of the Lime-Cilantro Chutney takes it to another level. We love this dish so much! Perfect for a meatless Monday or using the cauliflower potato mixture as a flavorful side like we do most times. You can find this recipe on an older post HERE.


Here are a few other favorites from this cookbook!


I especially love panzanella salad in the Summer and this one is DELICIOUS! Especially with farmer's market or garden fresh tomatoes.



Cold Peanut- Sesame Chicken and Spiralized Cucumber Noodle Salad- this is RIDICULOUS. So good, light and fresh for Summer! I pick up a rotisserie chicken when I made this meal and will often times sub in almond butter for the peanut butter and it's just as delicious. The dressing is my favorite part of this and I always like to make a little extra to dip veggies in as a snack!


If you follow any Whole30 or Paleo bloggers, you know that eggroll bowls are all the rage right now. I've tried several and this is the best recipe I've found. It comes together seamlessly and in no time at all.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I've had it for over a year now and it is still front and center when I grab a stack of books to look through as I meal plan on Sundays. 

Don't forget to link your favorite recipe from the book below! We are taking a break from Cookbook Club for the Summer but will likely pick it back up again in the fall. If you have any book ideas or books that you want to see featured, leave it in the comments below. Happy Cooking!


Monday, June 11, 2018

Loving Lately + Fitness Inspo


Summer is in full swing over here and we are loving these carefree days and a break from the everyday schedule. It's been nice to spend mornings at the pool, eat later dinners and just be outside! (as long as it's not 1000 degrees!) As every season changes there's something I love about each one but really, Summer is my favorite. Also...PEONY SEASON! Freaking out over these gorgeous flowers like everyone else on social media but really, I cannot resist when I see a giant display of them at this tome of year. 

A few things I'm loving lately...

I went back to my beloved Neutrogena for a summertime face and it's like being back with an old friend- the kind you pick right back up where you left off with. It's smooth and light and feels great on my face. I like minimal face makeup in the Summer and this stuff is perfect. The Neutrogena Healthy Face Tinted Moisturizer was my go-to for 10 years and now I'm wondering why I ever switched! I still love the it Cosmetics CC Cream but I think that will be more of a Fall/Winter product for me. 



I have found my new health and nutrition guru and I'm completely on board with this way of eating and structuring my meals. Kelly Leveque is a celebrity health and wellness consultant with all of the right information. She has a science and medical background and truly knows her stuff. Her approach is simple and makes so much sense. Protein, fat, fiber and greens are her "fab four" and the way she explains it in her book couldn't be easier to understand. For a quick intro to her approach with food, I recommend listening to her interview on Rachel Hollis's podcast, Dais from this past April. It's FULL of so much good info. A few friends recommended this specific interview to me and I ordered Kelly's Book, Body Love, immediately after listening. 

My sisters and I started Annie Downs's 100 Days to Brave and it's so good. It's the perfect daily devotional and I love the premise of it all. I read Annie's book Let's All Be Brave a few years ago and re-read it again recently. So much goodness in that book and the devotional is proving to have more of the same. 



Did you know George Clooney has his own brand of Tequila? Well, he does and it's amazing. Casamigos on the rocks with a little lime seltzer and a wedge of lime is EVERYTHING. Get on it! The backstory on this easy drinking stuff is great, too! 


My workout game has been strong lately and I feel like I'm in a good groove. I enjoy exercising and getting sweaty and really working hard. I also enjoy mixing it up and have found over the years that I can't do the same thing every day. Earlier this Spring, I went back to my beloved BBG Guides by Kayla Itsines and 3.5 years later, I'm still convinced that these are some of the best home workouts that you can do. When I track myself with progress doing these workouts and really focus on my eating, I see great results. Bonus points because it's super convenient for busy moms with young kids. I amped up my BBG workouts recently and started adding more running intervals in between. Our home gym makes this easy whether I get up and workout before my kids wakeup, or if I sneak in a naptime sweat sesh. We don't have a treadmill in our garage (yet), but our driveway is fairly long and I'll do 3-5 minute running intervals up and down the driveway. I'm sure my neighbors thing I look like a hamster, but it gets the job done! All this to say- do what works for you and be consistent! Also- you can't outwork a bad diet so really, all of this starts in the kitchen, too. And water. Lots and lots of water- especially in these hot Summer months! 

Make it a wonderful week, everyone!! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Markaritas!


What goes well with Tacos on a Tuesday!? Margaritas! Duh. Or in our case, the ever popular Markarita. No, really. Pulling this deliciousness out of the archives because Summer is around the corner and I wish I had these on tap. This is one of my most popular recipes to date and definitely one of the top five recipes requested by all of my real life friends and family. I've always loved margaritas but I came to the realization recently that I think I love them so much because Mark and I drank them on our first date! And here we are still sipping away on these things.

Back when we started reading a ton of Paleo books and blogs, we learned that Tequila is one of the better liquor choices. While all alcohol isn't necessarily "paleo approved", Tequila is a cleaner option because instead of being made with grains, it comes from the agave plant. This is why when you're buying your tequila, make sure it's made with 100% agave as some will have fillers like sugar and grain additives. 

I don't claim that this is a healthy cocktail, but it's certainly a smarter option for happy hour- and I promise you won't miss the crazy amounts of sugary sweet mixers. Fresh lime juice is stellar but when you don't have time to squeeze ALL THOSE LIMES, I found a great organic lime juice at Harris Teeter with an impressive ingredients list of only one thing: organic limes! It was delicious. While these can be made in larger quantities and served to a crowd in a pitcher, I still prefer to make these margaritas one at a time! They are just so good. 

Enjoy your Taco Tuesday!!! With a Markarita please. (and don't forget the salt rim!)

Markaritas

2 oz. tequila
2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. organic raw agave or honey
lime seltzer water 
fresh lime wedges

I like to serve these in lowball rocks glasses. Start by measuring out the tequila and lime juice and pour into the glasses. Add in the agave (or sweetener of choice) and mix with a bar whisk. Finish what a pour of seltzer and add ice, then garnish with a lime wedge. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fresh Strawberry Pie


Strawberry season is here and we finally made our way down to the Strawberry patch near our house last week. Will and Kate were alllll about it and actually did a great job of finding the ripe red berries. Miss Kate was insistent on carrying her basket the entire time, no matter how heavy it got. 

         

As soon as we got in the car, Will told me that we needed to make a pie because it was his favorite. NEWS TO ME. I NEVER make pies but when he said that's what he wanted to make, we made a pit stop at Harris Teeter on the way home for a few ingredients that we didn't have. 



Starting the week off on a sweet note with this yumminess. This pie is one of my favorites and I pulled it out of the blog archives from our Illinois days. My mom always makes a blueberry version in the Summer and this Strawberry one is just as delicious. I posted this Fresh Berry Pie back in 2012 and all that's different is that this pie only uses strawberries and I used strawberry JELL-O instead of mixed berry for the glaze. The freshly picked berries make this pie extra delicious, but what I love most about this pie recipe is the flaky, slightly sweet crush. The berry glaze seeps into that bottom and is just so good- the most perfect Springtime dessert!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Crust:
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp. milk
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Mix flour, sugar and salt together in a mixing bowl and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together canola oil and milk. Slowly add the flour mixture to the oil mixture. Mix until it becomes thick and dough-like, then transfer to a 9" pie dish. Starting from the center of the dish, spread the crust until it is covering the entire dish in an even layer. Bake crust for 7-10 minutes, or until crust starts to brown. Let cool.

Wash and dry berries, then slice and place inside the crust. 

Filling:

2 quarts fresh strawberries, sliced
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3.5 Tbsp. Strawberry JELL-O
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups water

Combine starch, JELL-O, water and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Slowly add the JELL-O mixture stirring constantly with a whisk. Return to a boil and keep it there for one minute. Remove from the heat and let cool. 

Drizzle topping over berries and refrigerate for 4-5 hours to let the pie set before serving. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday Faves


HAPPY FRI-YAY! It's been a fun filled busy week over here! We celebrated Mark's birthday last weekend with family and the two of us even got to sneak away on Sunday for a day date to the PGA golf tournament that was being held here in Charlotte. I'm a golf fan by marriage and we had the best day. 




I attended a special Mother's Day Brunch at Will's preschool yesterday and it was just about the sweetest thing ever. They walked us to our seats, sang a few sweet songs and served us our brunch! I wasn't prepared and totally forgot to bring kleenex. Such a fun little morning with my boy. 


Here are some of my favorite finds for the week:

Spindrift cocktails are my jam right now! I especially like that it's a "cleaner" cocktail option, especially during the week! So perfect for Summer and they have tons of ideas listed HERE on their site. My favorite is Tito's vodka, a splash of cucumber Spindrift and some lime. 

I love a good neutral nail color and I recently added this one to my collection! (Essie- Lighten the Mood!)

Currently reading: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. I'm obsessed! So much goodness in these pages and I want to go back and reread it with a highlighter! #nerdalert

Not sure how this happened, but I've turned into a garden lover. I have big plans for our yard but I started out with outdoor planters and pots. Next up, Hydrangea bushes, maybe some peonies and hopefully a little herb garden situation that we can use this Summer! 

I used this Roasted Cauliflower, Tomato and Chick Pea Bowl as my dinner inspiration last night! I added some pesto to the roasted veggies and topped it all with some Italian sausage. So easy and good! 

I made a quick batch of pesto this week and have plenty leftover so this pesto stuffed flank steak is calling my name! Adding it to our weekend menu for sure. 


If you've never made the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies...well, then I'll leave that right here. 


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Lemon Thyme French 75


Coming in hot today with a cocktail recipe for your weekend happy hours this Mother's Day weekend. It's only Thursday so I'm giving you a quick minute to gather your ingredients and get to work! 

Cocktails have been my go to happy hour choice lately. I love to sip on something while I'm cooking dinner for my family or when Mark and I are sitting outside at the end of the day. I've been playing around with different mixers and liquors and I've decided to experiment more this Summer. Mixing flavors is fun and cocktail making, I've realized, is a bit of an art.

I'm obsessed with this drink and have my sister and future brother in law to thank for it. It's fresh, slightly bubbly and light for the warm Summer days ahead. This lemon thyme simple syrup is going to have a permanent spot in my fridge this Summer as I've been adding it to all kinds of things. It's especially delicious with Tito's Vodka and a splash of cucumber spindrift. Back to these French 75s though... they're just so good. I think what I love most about this cocktail is that it can take you from brunch to lunch to happy hour- seriously delicious and appropriate at any time of day! Lemon, thyme, gin and bubbles. You know you want it. 



Lemon Thyme French 75

2 oz. gin
1.5 oz. champagne or prosecco
1 oz. lemon thyme simple syrup (recipe below)
sprig of fresh thyme

Mix the gin and simple syrup with ice and strain into your serving glass. To with chilled champagne/prosecco and garnish with a fresh sprig of thyme.

Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup

1 cup cugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh thyme

Combine sugar and water in a pot and bring to a simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice but do not let it come back to a simmer. Turn off the heat and add the thyme, letting it steep in the syrup until it reaches room temperature. Strain into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.



Wednesday, May 9, 2018

May Cookbook Club: Giada's Feel Good Food



For the fourth installment of Cookbook Club, we chose Giada's Feel Good Food. Giada DeLaurentiis has long been one of my all time favorites from the Food Network. I own almost all of her cookbooks and she is often my go-to when I go to grab a book from my cookbok shelf. Her recipes never disappoint and since we both come from Italian roots so much of how she cooks is the kind of food that I love most.




I love this book so much because it doesn't focus so much on any certain "diet" but a healthy, wholesome way of living and eating. Giada's balanced approach is what I gravitate so much to in this book. I don't think you should completely deprive yourself of anything and having a treat every now and then is never a bad thing. This book is filled with tons of recipes using fresh, wholesome ingredients. She takes a simple approach to healthy and balanced eating and uses food in a positive and nourishing way. 

This toast may look like nothing but it is EVERYTHING. We may be living in an avocado toast world but there are so many more toast options to explore. I'm a huge fan of ricotta cheese and have even been known to eat it plain in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper. The texture is so light and fluffy and it truly takes on any flavors that you combine it with. The mixture of ricotta, cinnamon, vanilla and a tiny bit of sweet from honey is just perfection. Topped on a warm piece of bread and you are winning. I subbed honey instead of sugar and used Ezekial bread. This is delicious for breakfast, or a sweet afternoon snack.

In a world of avocado toast, be the ricotta toast! Seriously though. All this toast talk makes me want to have a toast party.



Chocolate Ricotta Toast

1 cup fresh full-fat ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
4 slices of bread
Dark chocolate, for shaving

In a bowl, mix ricotta, honey cinnamon and vanilla using a rubber spatula. Set aside. 

Toast slices of bread and spread evenly with a generous amount of the ricotta mixture. Grate chocolate on top of the toast, fully coating each slice.


Make sure to pop over to Allie's blog to see what she made from the book and link up your own recipes below!