Tag: food

Friday Faves- Birthday edition

July 20
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Happy Friday y’all. Today is my birthday and honestly, my favorite part of this is birthday freebies. I mean really, who doesn’t love free stuff? So today I’m going to share my favorites.

Coffee:

Everyone knows Starbucks gives you a free drink for your birthday. Make sure you have a registered card a month before your birthday for this deal. Mine expires the day after my birthday.

Dunkin’ Doughnuts also gives a free drink. Again, have an account ahead of time.

Food:

Firehouse subs will give you a free sub for your birthday. Make sure you sign up ahead of time and download the app to redeem.

Moe’s will give you a free burrito. Same deal, make sure you have the app and an account ahead of time.

Ruby Tuesday gives you a free burger for your birthday. They will send an email ahead of your birthday and you have a few weeks to redeem. This is one of my favorites and you will receive the coupon ahead of time which is helpful.

Cafe Rio gives you a $5 credit for your day. Find in in the app. Also, get $5 just for downloading the app. (I love this place.)

Other:

Ulta: if you have a free rewards account look out for an email with a freebie. I got a mini mascara.

Sephora: beauty insiders get free mini products once during their birth month. Redeem at checkout in store or online.

New to me this year is madewell.com. At the beginning of the month they sent me a $25 gift card to use by the end of the month. This is a great gift.

The best part about these is that they don’t have to take place on my birthday. I write down expiration dates in my planner and then I can use these whenever.

These are my favorites. Do you know any great birthday freebies? Let me know so I can add them to the list!

birthday freebies

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Weekday breakfasts that last

March 20
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I don’t know about you, but I am hungry in the morning. I feel like everyone is different, but for me, I need food in the morning. On the flip side, I hate taking time to cook or eat before work. Even though I know I want and need to eat, I often end up skipping it when I am in a rush. So lately I have been trying out new on the go breakfast ideas. Below are a few of my favorites.

 

First of all, I like to have  green smoothie every morning. I make these using the single serving cup option on my blender. (Find my basic smoothie recipe here.) I use frozen greens and fruits to make the prep process as easy as possible. I can make two smoothies in only a few minutes and they are one of the best parts of our days. I usually drink my smoothie while doing my makeup or on the way to work. Once in a while I drink it at work instead.

 

A few months ago I came across Hulk Muffins from Instant Loss.   These muffins are gluten-free, dairy-free, and a great high fiber way to start the day. The best part? I mix them in the blender! I double or triple the batch and then freeze them. In the morning I grab four and take them to work to eat around 10am as a snack. I like to add a few mini chocolate chips on top when I bake them for a little extra flavor.

 

When I am super hungry in the morning I go for eggs. They are kinda the perfect high-protein, keep you full food. Like the hulk muffins, I prepare these ahead of time and keep them in the freezer until I need them, then I toss them in the microwave to reheat. I follow along this recipe but end up using whatever mix-ins I have in the house. Peppers and turkey bacon are favorites but onion, spinach, sausage, and others are fine too. Sometimes I add some cheese for fun.

 

My last go to option is these pre-made freezer steel cut oat cups. I make the oatmeal regularly and then freeze it in muffin tins. I then take them out and store them in a baggie in the freezer so I can grab one or two, reheat, and eat as a quick breakfast.

 

As with much of my cooking, I like to prepare and store these over the weekend so that come Monday morning I have nothing to worry about. Having options in the freezer makes the morning go so much smoother. Do you prep any breakfast foods? Which ones, I want to know!

 

 

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Happy 4th!

July 4
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Happy 4th of July

 

Happy Independence Day friends. I may be home alone sick, but I wanted to take a second and share a few favorite recipes just in case you are still looking for something to bring to a gathering.

Love cookies and sprinkles? These festive red white and blue cookies are perfect and so easy to make. (Actually, I may go make some right now….)

Check your fridge, you may have everything you need for this simple, healthy, fruit salad. 

Thirsty? Check out this 10 minute sangria recipe that looks like something from Martha Stewart.

Still looking for more ideas? See this cute pool party I hosted a little bit ago, complete with a DIY mimosa bar.

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Hosting an outdoor summer party

June 12
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Last month I hosted a simple little party with my friends to celebrate the beginning of summer. Generally, my entertaining is pretty simple with bags of chips and beer in a cooler, but for this girls only event I wanted to step it up a notch.

One of the ways I like to make a party or event feel a little classier is by the serving items I use. For this party I purchased galvanized steel trays to match the beverage tub I already owned. Although I saw tons of cute summer themed and printed serving items I stuck to plain ones because I wanted items that could be used for multiple parties throughout the year. I mean I love pineapples, but they would just look strange for Thanksgiving.  I also purchased a large mason jar styled water dispenser to keep my guests hydrated.

For the paper goods I just purchased the slightly nicer versions of things. I bought the clear cups instead of the red solo cups and the matching plates, silverware, and napkins from a line at target. I spent maybe a few dollars more on these, but it is worth it for the overall look and feel of the party.

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I live in Florida, here summer starts in the middle of March so I wasn’t sure how I was going to tackle the sandwich station. I wanted to have the supplies out, but I did not want to worry about anything going bad. I stressed about this for a little while until I realized I could create a system where the food would rest on a bed of ice. To make this, I purchased two of the same steel trays but filled one with water and froze it. When it came time for the party I placed the tray with the food on top of the frozen tray and the sandwich supplies stayed nice and cool. BONUS: Now I have two steel trays for a future party.

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My favorite part of this setup was the DIY Mimosa station. I’m sure you’ve seen these all over Pinterest, but I love the idea and wanted to try it myself.

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The sign is made from a precut piece of steel at Michaels and I made the vinyl decal with my Silhouette Cameo.  I also made a matching sign for the front door that said “Come on in” so the guests would know to come in and head to the back yard.

For the drinks I purchased orange juice (no pulp), lemonade, and raspberry lemonade. I thought I had three cute bottles to put the drinks in, but the evening before the party I realized I only had two. I was able to find some of the raspberry lemonade in a similar bottle so I used that, but ideally all three bottles would match.  For booze I bought a few bottles of prosecco and a bottle of rosé for anyone who isn’t a fan of mimosas.

In front of the bottles I placed fruit in three cups to be used as garnish. We had oranges, lemons, and strawberries cut and ready to use. For this party I keep those on ice due to the heat, but generally I’d keep them out front.

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Along with these goodies I put out a veggie tray for guests to nibble on during the party. I offered ranch dressing and hummus as dips. Although I love chip and cookies as easy party foods, I wanted to offer my guests a healthy alternative which I think was appreciated.

Overall this was a great little party for myself and my girlfriends. It was nice to do something a little fancier to kick off summer as I’m sure the rest of our summer parties will be much more casual. Hopefully this information can help you get your summer party of to a great start.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

 

Hosting an outdoor summer party

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Cacao Green Smoothies

March 7
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I know I am late to the party, but I have recently been introduced to cacao and I love it! I have been using it in my green smoothies to create what are basically healthy chocolate milkshakes.

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First of, for those that also live under a rock, here is a little more info on cacao and cacao powder. Basically cacao powder is from the cacao bean so it is chocolate, but not as processed as cocoa powder. Is is high in antioxidants and magnesium which makes it a great food for women to consume. The best part? It contains only 20 calories per tablespoon!

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It took me a few tries to get my smoothie recipe down, but I have been very happy with the recipe I have come up with. In fact, it is almost addicting, so much that sometimes I want one after I get home from work instead of dinner. While I don’t suggest you eat these three times a day, the recipe I am sharing is a great breakfast substitute as it contains fiber, protein, and good fats. It will keep you full until lunch and is delicious.

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Print Recipe
Cacao Green Smoothies
This is a simple recipe to make delicious healthy cacao smoothies that taste like milkshakes. Careful, they are totally addictive.
Prep Time 3 minutes
Servings
person
Ingredients
Prep Time 3 minutes
Servings
person
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Add spinach and kale to your blender. If using a personal sized smoothie cup add water to compact the greens and then add other ingredients. Add lid and blend until smooth. Add more water if the smoothie is too thick.
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easy cacao green smoothie with spinach and kale. Healthy cacao smoothie.

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Early 2017 Faves

February 24
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Hey guys, I know I haven’t been doing regular favorites posts lately but I wanted to jump in and share some things I’ve been crushing on lately.

This is my version of the street tacos

 

If you know me, you know I love Mexican food and of course tacos.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been taking my taco making skills up to the next level with two AMAZING new recipes.  First I made these yummy Beef Street Tacos, and more recently I tried out these Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa.  Spoiler alert: They were both great and I can’t wait to work them into our meal rotation.

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In other news, I’ve been working on my dining room lately. One of the new items I have added is this great teal rug from Walmart. Yes, Walmart! I was in there picking something up the other day and saw it and it was only $80 which was great.  I love the bold color, but if I get sick of it in a few years I can just replace it as I didn’t spend a ton of money on it.  Now that I have that rug in there I am going to be working the rest of the room around those colors.

I know I’ve got valentines colors in here, I’m working on that.

 

Both January and February found me visiting Antique Extravaganza at the Rennigers Flea Market here in the Orlando area.  First of all, (as I am sure you are wondering) yes, it is big enough of an event to be called an extravaganza. Anyways, I picked up two new cute home decor pieces; a window and a dough bowl.  I know these are both trend items and the bowl is reproduction, but I think they are super cute and really work in my dining room. (Which, as you recall, I am working on.)

 


I think it must be the early nightfall or the cool air, but I have just been loving curling up on the sofa after work with a good book and reading until bed. When I get out of the  habit of reading physical books I don’t miss it, but once I start back up I swear they are as addictive as coffee and Publix cookies. (Oatmeal Raisin of course.)
Not a favorite yet, but I am considering trying Lipsense. Have you tried it? Do you like it? I am looking for an Orlando area consultant so I can try it before I buy it. Not sure what Lipsense is? It is a long wear lipstick that appears to really stay for 18 hours. It is only sold via direct sales so ask around in your area for a consultant.

 

Anyway, I hope you liked this collection of a few random things I am enjoying.  Loving anything awesome? Share it with me in the comments! Want to see more things I love? Follow me on Instagram!

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My experience with Blue Apron

July 25
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A few weeks ago my husband and I went ahead and tried out Blue Apron meals.  We have been very busy with the buying and selling of our home and figured it would make eating somewhat healthier and homemade a little easier.  We signed up online and were given the option to pick out meals.

My Blue Apron Experience

Because it is just the two of us we went with the three meals for two people box. The meals are $9.99 each so it comes to $59.94 for the box and shipping is free.

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We went online and selected our meals from the six choices. The way Blue apron is set up, you get to pick your meals but not all meal combinations are available. This may be  a cost issue as not all meals cost the same and some ingredients cost more than others.  The three meals we selected were Butter Brown Gnocchi, Sweet Chili Chicken, and  Spiced Shrimp Pearl Couscous.

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Our box was shipped via FedEx one day from New Jersey to our home in Florida.  The box  is designed to be able to sit outdoors in the elements until the evening of the delivery day.  I was home from work that day so I was able to bring it inside and put the items away fairly quickly, but I am sure it would have been fine for  a few more hours.IMG_6054

The box was packed with a thickly insulated inner liner which acted like a cooler for the contents.  The fresh vegetables and other items were on the top of the box and perishables such as meats were on the bottom of the box under a sheet of cardboard and between two layers of ice packs.

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I went ahead and pulled all the items out and stored them.

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All three meals were able to be cooked in a half hour or less and we enjoyed all three of them.  I love that we got to try gnocchi; I had never cooked this before and I doubt I would have tried it if it were not for Blue Apron.  The recipes were all easy to follow and steps were explained.

One thing that I was a little disappointed by was the lack of full nutritional information on the meals.  When you select your meal you shown the calorie count per serving, however no other nutritional information is shared.  We were able to look at the ingredients for the meals to decide if they would fit our needs, but knowing the full nutritional information would be very useful.

Have you tried Blue Apron?  What did you think?

Note:  This is NOT a sponsored post.  I purchased the box on my own and am not being compensated for this post in any way.  All ideas and opinions are my own.

 

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Summer Dinner Ideas

June 17
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delicious summer recipes to try

With summer nearing I am thinking more and more of light, airy, tropical meals. The type of meals that, even if they are warm, are refreshing on a warm summer day.  Here are a few I’ve gathered that I’d like to try this summer.

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Fajita Chicken Kebab– I love making Fajitas year round, but these look super simple and can be made o the grill, perfect for keeping the heat out of the house.

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Springtime Veggie Pasta Primavera– This pasta dish looks like a perfect pot luck side.  Nice and light for a warm day.

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Corn, Avocado, & Black Bean Summer Salad– This is basically all of my favorite things in a salad. I am already thinking I need to make some next week.  This can be eaten alone or with chips.

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Spicy Grilled Shrimp Tacos–  Fish tacos have been one of my go to restaurant dishes for a few years now.  They are something I love, but am usually too lazy to make.  I think I am going to suck it up and try these out this summer, what do I have to lose?

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Strawberry Bacon Blue Cheese Salad– Light, healthy, and full of nutrients, this salad is the perfect fun summer salad.  It freaking has bacon!

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Grilled Coconut Lime Shrimp in Foil– Remember hobo dinners?  These sound like a perfect summery version.  Perfect for cookouts, camping, or other outdoor events.  Make them ahead and toss them on the coals!

 

Have you tried any variations of these? What did you think?  Have a favorite summer recipe of your own? Be sure to share it with me below!

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Brunch Ideas

April 26
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With Mother’s Day coming up I wanted to share with you some of my favorite and some new brunch recipes. I don’t cook brunches very often, but when I do, I stick to a few staples.

Mini-Spinach-Quiches I’ve been making these Muffin Frittatas for a few years now. I love they are crustless so they are low carb. I use Turkey Sausage and lots of veggies. The best part? You can freeze them and then pull them out one at a time for hearty on the go breakfasts.

overnight-blueberry-french-toast-3 My mother ran across this recipe for Blueberry French Toast Casserole in an issue of Taste of Home magazine back in the mid-1990s. Ever since then we’ve been making it here and there both as a breakfast and a dinner. What I love about this recipe is it is an overnight meal. You put it all together at night and then just pop it in the oven when the time comes. Perfect for entertaining and overnight guests.

sheetpan-hashbrowns-d I am a HUGE Hash Browns fan.  Whenever I am in a restaurant that serves them, I need an order.  However, I am not the best at cooking them.  Mine always come out too crispy or too soggy, its a mess.  Anyways, I really want to try this Sheet Pan Hash Browns recipe and see if it could be my hash browns savior.

Mango-Carrot-Smoothie-Culinary-Hill-3Wouldn’t this Mango Carrot Smoothie be fun to try? Perfect for a quick breakfast for overnight guests. The recipe only takes FOUR ingredients!

What are you go to brunch dishes?  Do you like heavy casseroles or lighter fruit options?  Tell me below!

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Tried and true simple weeknight meals

March 31
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30 minute or less! Tried and true easy weeknight meals. I have tried and loved all of these super simple recipes. 30 minutes or less and slow cooker options. AmberDowns.net

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been going through a huge cooking slump.  I am sick of the meals we make but am not interested in learning fancy new meals.  A few months ago I had an inspired week and tried out some simple new recipes and loved them.  Have I gone back and made them again?  No, because I am not smart sometimes.  Anyways, I wanted to share them here as tested and approved simple meals and maybe remind myself about them so that I can try them again next week.  Wish me luck, won’t you?

 

Anyways, without further ado, here are 5 simple meals that are perfect for weeknights.  They do not require special ingredients and, with the exception of the crock pot meals, can be make in 30 minutes or less.  Myself (and sometimes my husband) enjoyed each of these meals and I am looking forward to making them all again.

 

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Crockpot Enchilada Quinoa

This simple meal has become one of go to ideas for dinners and lunches.  Because this is a casserole  type dish it freezes super easy.  I grab a container of it out of the freezer, grab some sour cream, and am ready for lunch at work.  Bonus:  Check pinterest for a enchilada sauce recipe, its super easy!  Don’t have time for the crockpot? Do it in a rice cooker(this is my method) or cook the quinoa on the stove and then bake for 30 minutes in the oven.

 

 

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15 Minute Lo-Mein

This is seriously the easiest, healthiest recipe ever. I grabbed whatever veggies I had in the house and threw them in.  Super fresh and you can make it a different meal every time by switching up the vegetables.

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Honey Lemon Chicken and Pasta

I love how impressive this meal looks.  Fresh lemon and herbs?  It looks like it took all day but really I was done in less than 30 minutes.  I enjoyed it with angel hair pasta and my husband preferred rice.  If you reheat the leftovers in the microwave at work be prepared for questions from staff who are following their nose.

 

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Four Ingredient Baked Pork Chops

I made this recipe with thin pork loin and it was delish.  I love sliced pork loin for a super quick meal, but I am always looking for a new way to prepare it.  This was moist and hearty.  Pair it with peas and applesauce for a trip down memory lane.

 

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Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken

Crock pot meal?  Count me in.  This was another simple fresh meal that I will be making again and again.  THe fruit  give it a fresh and fancy taste and the crock pot makes it a winner.

 

 

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