Our Essentials for a Camping Weekend

Ok - we may be more ‘glampers’ than campers just to get that out there. I would like to think that I could carry just a backpack, hike 15 miles to our camping spot, and eat freeze-dried food but that’s just not appealing to me when I am wanting a relaxing weekend in the outdoors. All the more power to you though if you’re a serious hiker like that! I always tell Thomas I would like to do a backpacking trip someday…but for now I am good with coolers of food & snacks, our comfy tent with an air mattress, and lots of beer & wine, s’mores and board games!

Here’s our essentials for a camping weekend!

  1. Find a good camping spot. I love scouring The Outdoor Project for recommendations.

  2. Pack a couple of coolers to the brim with good food and drinks for the weekend! I love Yeti coolers as well as their ice packs to keep everything cold.

  3. Speaking of good food - meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you bring the perfect amount. We usually do eggs and bacon for breakfast, sandwiches or hotdogs for lunch, and steak, veggies, and potatoes on the grill for dinner.

  4. Even though we love cooking over the fire, a Coleman stove is essential for making something quickly or boiling water for coffee in the morning.

  5. Speaking of coffee, a French press is great since it’s easy to just add boiling water and not deal with any filters.

  6. Board games - Yahtzee and cards are a must.

  7. An air mattress - we use a battery operated pump which makes things easy. It’s always hilarious when it starts to deflate and you both end up crammed in the middle!

  8. Libations - I love sitting by the stream or lake during the day with a cold beer, and then cozying up by the campfire with red wine at night. Or hot chocolate of course :)

  9. Bug spray and citronella candles. Those little suckers are intense! Our last camping trip there were a ton of wasps and I luckily had this natural lemongrass bug spray that actually kept them away from the camp!

  10. S’mores of course! Hershey’s chocolate all the way. I bought a thicker bar of chocolate last time that I thought would be good, but the chocolate didn’t get as melty as Hershey’s does.

  11. Dry shampoo. This is very necessary. 3 day- greasy-camping-head is not a good look.

  12. Something to read. Spending the quiet mornings and afternoons reading is my fav! This last trip I brought my newest issue of bon appétit and i’m also reading Sara’s Key which is so good!

  13. The last essential is to completely disconnect. Not that we have any service anyways when we normally camp, but regardless we always turn our phones off. Besides the occasional picture, completely disconnecting from social media feels so good for the weekend.

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Weekly Crumbs, Vol. 13

FALL IS HERE!!! Sorry to scream that at you, but I am so excited! Anyone who knows me knows that Halloween is my thing - but it’s also so much more than that. I love the crisp mornings and chilly evenings, the beautiful leaves saying goodbye to Summer and hello to Fall, making cozy meals at home, and yes, watching lots of scary movies and Hocus Pocus at least 3 times in true Halloween spirit. I have been researching everything I want to do on the blog for this month so i’m giddy with excitement at the thought of LOTS of pumpkin. Basic maybe, but you know you love it ;)

 photo by  Taralynn Mcnitt

In love with these decked out houses for Fall/Halloween

Thomas and I were house/dog sitting for our friends who were on their honeymoon, and it made me even more excited to buy our own house! The next place we settle we will definitely buy and I am SO READY. I love all of these cute Fall/Halloween decor ideas!
- chic not cheesy
- these fall front porches
- Halloween dinner party decor
- minimal fall mantles

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Cozy meals we’re making this month

Last week was the first week that I felt was cool enough to start making all of my fall favorites. We made my favorite lamb and butternut squash curry which I am putting on the blog this week! Here are some of the other recipes already on my mind:
- wine braised beef with parsnip puree is one of my favorites!
- steel cut oat risotto with butternut squash is the best comfort food
- roasted autumn salad is the best quick weeknight meal!
- butternut squash and black bean enchiladas

Fall cocktail game is strong

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- Boozy pumpkin hot chocolate
- Aperol pear cider spritz
- this apple-groni sounds amazing!
- apple cider bourbon cocktail
- I love a good sangria - this autumn version looks amazing!

Fall Staples I have my eye on

 photo by  livvylandblog

photo by livvylandblog

- I really want a cool hat like this one!
- a cute mustard colored sweater
- I need a new jean jacket for layering and when it’s not too cold out.
- Always in need of an oversized sweater

Our Go-to Açaí Bowls

During hectic weeks when Thomas and I get home and collapse on the couch, we look at each other and say “how the heck do people do this with kids?!” Even though we are still a couple years from having a baby, it’s definitely more in our minds when it comes to how much we work right now. Props to all of you busy working mama’s out there, because I don’t know how you do it - I’m guessing it’s some magical mama energy that you get!

As a recruiter I’m flipping between two computer screens, talking to candidates with the phone glued to my shoulder, conducting interviews in our office, and doing what seems like 10 things at once. And as a pilot, Thomas usually has back to back flights and definitely has to be alert and ‘on’ all day - So you can imagine how we both value the chance to ‘turn off’ at night and especially on the weekends. That’s why Saturday and Sunday mornings are simply the best. I’m sure that’s the same for most people though! Having a quiet morning reading, catching up on blog posts, sipping coffee, and eating a good breakfast is what I look forward to after a crazy work week. When we really want to recharge and start the morning off right, our go-to is an açaí bowl!

It’s refreshing and light but filling when you add granola, sliced banana, and peanut butter! It’s Thursday, so are you already day-dreaming about Saturday morning? You know this girl is. :)

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Açaí Bowl

Ingredients

- 1 (100g) packet frozen acai berry packet
- 1 banana frozen (the riper the better)
- ¼ cup almond milk
- honey (optional) if the banana isn’t sweet enough

toppings
- peanut butter - melt with a little coconut oil so you can drizzle it
- granola - we use our homemade granola
- more sliced banana. You can also add strawberries and blueberries
- hemp seeds
- cocoa nibs

what to do

  1. In a high-powered blender, combine the acai berry packet, frozen banana, 1/4 cup of almond milk, and extra honey if needed. Blend until completely smooth.

  2. Pour into a bowl and top drizzle with melted peanut butter, granola, sliced banana, hemp seeds, and cocoa nibs.

Whole Baked Cauliflower with Béchamel

At this point in our lives with our busy jobs, small apartment, and the amount that we travel we’re not at a place to get a dog. We watch instagram videos all the time of cute puppies playing and I will literally be on the verge of tears from all the cuteness, but still, we want to be settled and have a house before we have any sort of pet. That’s why this past weekend was THE BEST, because we got to dog/house sit for our two friends who are on their honeymoon! They have the cutest golden retriever, Cooper, who is the chillest pup of all time. I swear he sleeps 18 hours a day at least and loves to be cuddled non-stop. It’s been so nice to get a glimpse of dog life, as well as use a big kitchen for once! With the Fall weather already here, we spent the weekend making cozy dishes like my favorite lamb & butternut squash curry, apple pie, and this whole baked cauliflower with béchamel!

At first I was skeptical just eating cauliflower for dinner. Your girl here has an appetite and I wasn’t sure this would be satisfying. I was so wrong. This is seriously one of the best veggie dishes we’ve ever made. Super tender cauliflower covered in a garlicky cheesy béchamel sauce and topped with crispy prosciutto, pesto and roasted tomatoes. Such a cozy meal for Fall and Winter!

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Whole Baked Cauliflower with Béchamel

Ingredients

-1 head of cauliflower
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese for the cauliflower
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese for the béchamel
- cherry tomatoes for roasting
- basil pesto for topping
- prosciutto

what to do

  1. To make the cauliflower, use a paring knife to cut the core out of the cauliflower: Flip the cauliflower over so the stalk is facing up. Insert the paring knife about 2 inches into the cauliflower, as close to the stalk as possible, and cut around the stalk. The goal is to leave the cauliflower intact while removing the stalk and creating a small hole where it once was.

  2. Heat a large pot of water to a boil, and boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes or so until it’s starting to get tender.

  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Transfer the cauliflower in a large oven-proof skillet and drizzle all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the cauliflower for a remaining 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown and a knife can easily slice into the cauliflower flesh. About halfway, sprinkle the cauliflower with grated parmesan and let it get golden brown.

  4. Halve the cherry tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish and roast in the oven with the cauliflower.

  5. While the cauliflower and tomatoes are roasting, make the béchamel sauce. Heat the milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until steaming but not boiling. Turn the heat down and keep warm over very low heat.

  6. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan over low heat. When it's bubbling, add the flour and whisk until it forms a golden paste, about 3 to 4 minutes. Whisking constantly, add the hot milk in a steady stream. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg and the cheese.

  7. Fry the prosciutto slices in a skillet, transfer to a paper towel to dry, and chop into bite size pieces.

  8. Top cauliflower with pesto, roasted tomatoes, béchamel, and prosciutto! Enjoy!

French Onion Pot Roast with Creamy Polenta

It’s here, my favorite time of the year! Summer is magical in it’s own ways, but there is nothing better than Fall. It’s starting to get a little gray in Portland and I love it! I might not being saying that come January, but for now I love the breaking out my comfiest baggy sweater, pulling out the rain boots, and soaking up the season as much as possible. I think because I’m from Florida and the seasons have little variation, I appreciate each part of the year even more now.

And my favorite part of it all? Comfort food.

This french onion pot roast over creamy polenta is a game changer. Melt in your mouth meat that’s been simmering all day in the a glorious concoction of stock, red wine, lots of onions, and a surprise ingredient, celery root! Then to make even better it’s piled high on top of the creamiest parmesan polenta there ever was. If you’re a fan of grits, then you will LOVE this soft buttery polenta.

This is a perfect meal for a date night in, throwing a dinner party, or just when you need a bowl of happiness at the end of a long week. To top it off your house will smell absurdly amazing while this is cooking all day.

I am so excited to share more cozy Fall recipes with you guys! What’s your favorite comfort food to eat when it’s cold out. Gimme all of your suggestions!

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French Onion Pot Roast with Creamy Polenta

Ingredients

-2 1/2 pounds chuck roast (excess fat trimmed)
- 2 white onions thinly sliced
- 1 medium celery root, peeled and cubed
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 cup of red wine

Polenta
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of Polenta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
- salt & pepper

What to do

  1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot. Season the beef all over with salt and pepper. 

  2. Sear the beef until a nice brown crust forms on all sides, remove from the pot and add in onions, celery root, garlic, and thyme leaves, and sauté until onions start to become translucent.

  3. Place the beef back in the pot with onion mixture and top with Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, beef stock, and red wine. Add another big pinch of salt & pepper, and simmer mixture on low for several hours until the meat is falling apart.

  4. To make the polenta, bring the water and milk to a light simmer in a saucepan. Add in the polenta and stir on medium heat until it begins to thicken and get creamy, roughly 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the butter and parmesan and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Weekly Crumbs, Vol. 12

This week has been a jam-packed celebrating two of our best friends getting married! Thursday night was the rehearsal dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant Nicoletta's Table, Friday was the actual walk-through at the venue which was located at the beautiful Maysara Winery, and Saturday was the big day starting with hair, makeup, and mimosas at 8AM and then we danced the night away until Midnight. To say I was pooped out is an understatement, but it was the best weekend! I feel like I've been to so many weddings this year, including our own, that I should be a pro by now!

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 On Sunday we got up and had brunch in McMinnville at The Community Plate, which is always so good! Thomas got the heritage pork hash and I got an egg BLT on a homemade biscuit. They have an awesome lunch menu as well! If you're in Oregon and want a cute weekend getaway, I love McMinnville! You're in the heart of wine country, there's great restaurants and bars, and you can stay at either the 3rd Street Flats or McMenamins Hotel Oregon

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The rest of our Labor Day weekend was lazy to say the least. Sunday night I made Thomas watch Steel Magnolias for the 100th time and we made pinch of yum's vegan crunchwrap supremes. Healthier than Taco Bell of course, but not dousing mine in sour cream and guacamole isn't an option for me. I also packed mine so full that it ended up falling apart in the pan, not quite the pretty picture, but delicious nonetheless. On Monday we decided we would just stay home and relax since it was such a crazy weekend- We slept in, went for a quick run, made yummy açaí bowls, and in spirit of Labor Day and the kickoff of football season, we recipe tested oven-baked chicken wings with a spicy honey glaze! It's hard to beat fried chicken, but they are still pretty dang good! 

Have a good week everyone!!

Panzanella Salad

We needed to get out of Portland over the weekend for a little fresh air and R&R, so we packed up our car to go camping! It's too bad that you have to book a camping spot a year in advance in the PNW, but we decided to try our luck anyways. After driving for 4 hours in traffic and then in and out of campsites we finally found a pristine campground on Trout Creek a couple of hours outside of Portland. We may or may not have set camp on a site that was already reserved by someone else... but they never showed up so that's ok right?! We had a hilarious first night which is a good enough story for it's own post, but all around it was the perfect weekend getaway. Some people might not think camping is relaxing, but to us there's nothing better than sitting around a campfire under the stars, a cup of something strong in our hands, and talking until all of the coals have smoldered out. We grilled steaks and toasted s'mores over the fire, went on hikes, drank wine out of plastic cups, beat each other in Yahtzee, took dips in the creek when it was hot, cuddled in our sleeping bags when it was cold, and soaked up as much of the weekend as possible. 

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I've been exuding my desire for Fall for weeks now, however our little camping getaway made me realize that summer is something that you shouldn't wish to pass quickly. Once we got out of our hot apartment in the city and out into the peaceful outdoors it made me want enjoy summer to the absolute fullest. Which is why it's going to be camping, outdoor picnics, and wine on rooftops until it's time to pull out our parkas.

 So since I'm still on the summer train, that means I'm on the tomato train. You feel me? Hear me out! Two words, Panzanella Salad. It's tomatoes, and bread, and fresh basil-y deliciousness and it needs to be on your table stat. Let this not be confused with croutons. No no, it's way better than that. This is your favorite loaf of crusty bread that is crunchy on the outside yet a little soft from the tomato juices. It's as simple and summery as dishes come and you likely have most of the ingredients in your fridge. And a plus? If your bread is stale than that's even better!!

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Panzanella Salad

Ingredients

- 2 1/2 pounds or (3-4) heirloom tomatoes (different colors), cut into bite sized pieces. 
- Your favorite loaf of crusty bread (I use sourdough) cut into bite size pieces- about 6 cups worth
- 1 small red onion halved and thinly sliced
- 4-5 persian cucumbers chopped into bite-sized pieces (instead of Persian you can peel regular cucumbers and use those if need be) 
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 gloves of garlic minced
- lots of good olive oil for drizzling
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil

What to do 

  1. Place cut tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, minced garlic, lemon juice, and a generous seasoning of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Gently stir to incorporate and let sit at room temperature while your bread cooks. 

  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to center position. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake until crisp and firm but not too browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

  3. Once bread is slightly cool, toss bread in the bowl with tomato mixture and add basil leaves and a generous drizzle of good olive oil. Toss everything to coat and season with more salt and pepper if needed. It's good if the bread soaks in the juice a little bit, so you can let your salad rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Chicken Gyro's

I am all about the easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy lately. When cool weather hits, it's go time for slow braises in the oven, bubbling stews on the stove, and roasting things into submission - but in the summer 'ain't nobody got time for that'! Like today, I got home from work and we drizzled lettuce with olive oil and lemon juice, added Trader Joe's grilled balsamic chicken and topped with homemade basil pesto and BAM, dinner done in 5 minutes. Beautiful weather and summertime temps call for dinner on the table in a snap with as little time and cooking as possible. 

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These chicken gyro's are my summertime obsession right now. Juicy marinated chicken, tangy tzatziki, crumbled feta and a fresh cucumber tomato salad all rolled up in warm pita. Yes puhlease! It may seem like a lot of different steps, but you can let the chicken marinate the night before, and then the day of you can whip up your tzatziki, chop your veggies, grill the chicken, warm the pita and assemble!

Summer gives you permission to not try so hard - elaborate recipes are not necessary. Invite your friends over, pop a bottle, spread everything out on a table outside, and soak-up every last drop of summer.

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Chicken Gyro's


Ingredients


For the chicken
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3 large garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar (or red wine or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- big pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper

Cucumber tomato salad
- 10 oz container of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 3 cucumbers , diced. I like to use Persian or English cucumber so you can leave the skin on
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
- drizzle of olive oil
- 1/2 lemon squeezed
- Salt and pepper

Tzatziki
- 2 cucumbers (to make about 1/2 - 3/4 cup grated cucumber after squeezing out juice)
- 1 1/4 cups plain Greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or more if you want richer)
- 1 small garlic clove , minced
- salt & pepper to taste

-Pita bread
-crumbled Feta

what to do 

  1. Place all marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag and shake and massage to mix. Add the chicken into the ziplock bag and massage to cover all the chicken. Marinate for at least 2 hours and no longer than 24 hours. 

  2. Make the Tzatziki. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scrape the watery seeds out. Coarsely grate the cucumber using a box grater. Then wrap in paper towels or a tea towel and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Place cucumber in a bowl and add remaining ingredients then mix to combine. Set aside for at least 20 minutes for the flavors to mix. 

  3. Make the cucumber salad by mixing all of the ingredients together. 

  4. To cook the chicken, brush the outdoor grill with oil, then preheat on medium high. Or you can cook this on the stove by heating a little oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through (cooking time depends on size of chicken).

  5. Remove the chicken from the grill / fry pan onto a plate. Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing

  6. To assemble the gyros, top warm pita with grilled chicken, cucumber salad, tzatziki and crumbled feta! 

It's fun to lay it all out and let people help themselves! And you can also lay a piece of parchment down under the pita and roll and wrap it up on the bottom so it stays secured. Enjoy!

Stuffed Poblanos with Cashew "Queso"

One of my favorite junk foods and the ultimate football Sunday indulgence is "creamy tacos". It's what we would make in our house growing up anytime there was a party happening or when we needed a little junk food fix. What is it you may ask? It's a glorious, bubbling vat of velveeta cheese, ground beef, Hormel Chili, and spicy Rotel tomatoes. You crunch up Doritos on your plate and pour the "creamy taco" all over the Doritos. IT IS MONUMENTAL. I am telling you this because I am definitely not beneath shoveling Doritos covered in Velveeta into my mouth - However it's simply not good for you to eat whatsoever, so that's why I try to keep "Queso" in my life as much as possible but in healthier ways! 

ENTER CASHEW QUESO. 

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I was very skeptical of this at first, but with our new Vitamix I knew we could definitely get the creaminess factor going on. Now I will say this, nothing will replace the amazingness of gooey cheesy queso, so you have to think of this as more of an alternative. But for me, something that resembles queso, is creamy like queso, has a rich delicious taste, and is actually nutritious for you is an A+ in my book!

One of my favorite go-to meals is stuffed poblano peppers. A lot of times we make my old stuffed poblanos with chicken recipe, but lately I love tossing roasted sweet potato, corn, black beans, cilantro, and spices to make it meatless. Top with creamy cashew queso and you've got the golden ticket! 

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Stuffed Poblanos with Cashew "Queso" 

Ingredients

Poblanos
- 4 poblano peppers
- 2 sweet potatoes cubed
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic gloves, minced
- 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz) can of sweet corn, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- salt and pepper to taste

Queso
- 1 cup raw cashews , soaked for up to 4 hours and drained
- 1/4 cup water (plus more, if needed)
- 1 teaspoon salt + more to taste
- 1 lemon juiced
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional) provides more coloring
- 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes with green chiles

What to do

  1. Using a small sharp knife, cut a slit lengthwise along one side of each poblano pepper, then make a small crosswise slit along the top to create a T-shape, being careful not to cut off the stem. Carefully cut out and remove the core and scoop out the seeds. On a baking sheet, roast the poblanos and jalapeños under the broiler in the oven turning often until the skin is completely blistered. Transfer to a paper bag (or place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap) and let steam for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. To make the filling, preheat the over to 350 degrees. Toss cubed sweet potato with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast until sweet potato is golden brown and cooked through, stirring occasionally. 
  3. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat and saute onion until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic cloves and cook another minute or two. Then mix in chili powder, cumin, a big pinch of salt and grind of black pepper. Mix in black beans, corn, and lime juice and cook another minute before turning off the heat and mixing in cilantro and roasted sweet potato. 
  4. To make the Queso, In a high-speed blender, or food processor, combine the cashews, water, salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric, and the liquid from the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles. (I was able to get about 1/4 cup of liquid from the can.) 
  5. Blend until a smooth and creamy cheese sauce is made, adding a little more water, if needed for blending. Transfer the cheese mixture to a small pot and heat over the stove until warm. I love serving it in a little cast iron skillet!

  6. To assemble the poblanos, fill them to the brim with the filling! You can either pop them in the oven to bake a little longer or leave them as is since everything is still warm! Cover in Queso :) 

Enjoy! 

Travel Guide: Ubud, Bali

Our last and final leg of our Honeymoon is a strong contender as my favorite place in Bali after exploring for two weeks! If you need a recap you can read about the first stop of our honeymoon in Seminyak, then Nusa Lembongan, and finally arriving in Ubud! Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali and is know for it's beautiful temples and iconic rice paddies. We spent our last 5 days in Ubud, winding through rice paddy fields in our scooter, lounging by the pool and eating as much mie goreng as we could handle!


Where to Stay

After taking a boat from Nusa Lembongan to Sanur we took a 1.5 hour taxi ride to get to Ubud and only paid $10.50! And that was with tip! We arrived at The Udaya Resorts and Spa and were in instant heaven. The bathtub was UNREAL. It looked out over lush greenery outside our window - I would have been happy just living in that bathtub for 5 days, but lucky us that the room and private pool were just as amazing as the tub!

The food at the Udaya was fantastic as well! We had breakfast every morning in the restaurant overlooking the rice fields - not too shabby sipping your morning coffee with that kind of view! 

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  Mie Goreng at The Udaya

Mie Goreng at The Udaya

  The best spicy pumpkin soup with coconut milk

The best spicy pumpkin soup with coconut milk


Where to Eat & Drink

There are many other great places in Bali that we didn't get the opportunity to try, but here are some of our highlights and favorites!

Laromona - Our favorite meal of our entire stay in Bali! The laramona platter, mushroom risotto, and the blue cheese and mushroom bruschetta were all incredible - and we loved drinking sangria out of teacups!
Warung Città Ovest - When all you want is a slice of pizza! It's around $4 for a whole pizza!
Clear Cafe - A little touristy, but still a fun place to grab lunch. 
Bridges Bali - This was our priciest dinner in Bali, but such a fun and romantic night out!
Watercress - If you go to the Monkey Forest, stop at Watercress after and have an amazing lunch! Try the amazing veggie burger and the ham and cheese toast.
Kismet - Our second favorite in Ubud! We had dinner here on our first night and loved it so much that we came back to lunch the next day! I didn't take a picture, but make sure you try the Black Pumpkin Ravioli!

  The Laramona Platter

The Laramona Platter

  Pizza at Warung Città Ovest

Pizza at Warung Città Ovest

  Clear Cafe

Clear Cafe

  Bridges

Bridges

  Bridges

Bridges

  Watercress

Watercress

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  Kismet

Kismet


What to do in Ubud

Visit the sacred monkey forest! 

We were so mesmerized by these little rascals! They are mischievous little suckers that's for sure. I loved seeing all of the little babies hanging on their momma's. Make sure you don't have food in your pockets or purse even! We saw several monkeys running up peoples legs trying to grab food!

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Explore the Tegallalang Rice Terraces

This is an absolute must in Ubud! Just make sure you wear comfy shoes since it's a lot of walking!

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Wander around a beautiful temple

There is a beautiful temple on every corner in Ubud. Some of the most well-known ones are Tirta Empul, Goa Gajah, and Gunung Kawi Sebatu which is the one where we took pictures below. In many temples you have to wear a sarong around your waist - if you don't have one they usually have some at the temple for you to use!

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One of the. most important things - relax and enjoy your vacation!

Our favorite thing is to enjoy a drink and good food on vacation! If you want a good cocktail - head to Kismet! But keep in mind, alcohol is heavily taxed in Bali so you're likely to pay $8 or $9 dollars for a drink! If you're keeping to a budget, stick with Bintang!

Last but not least, get a tat! 

Well, maybe don't do this one, but it was certainly fun for us! For my family just now seeing this...whoops :) It's small I promise! For those of you who don't know, Thomas and I have the coordinates of where we met in the Bahamas on our foot, so we saw that it was only fitting that on our honeymoon we get a little something! We did a teeny tiny balinese symbol, which pretty much looks like a squiggly 'M', that the Balinese put at the beginning of every story they write - so we got it as a symbol for the beginning of "our story" :) 

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Watermelon Cocktails

All of my fellow weekend warriors...WE MADE IT! It has been a week let me tell ya. I have been especially scatter brained and feel so unorganized for some reason! Maybe it's the heat going to my brain - My desk at work has more coffee rings than usual and paper thrown about, my clothes are strewn in places everywhere but a hanger in the closet, there always seems to be a dish in the sink, and this is the first blog post I've done since Sunday...so yeah, hot mess express reporting to you live. I think everyone has weeks like this sometime, but I'm definitely going to take this weekend to get refreshed and start anew on Monday. 

But since it's Friday and the clock is striking 5 o'clock soon, let's talk COCKTAILS. Watermelon cocktails to be exact, and they are the answer to all of your summer dreams. I'm normally a bourbon gal and love a good old fashioned, but in the summer I crave a light and refreshing cocktail that I can sip soaking up the sun!

We bought a giant watermelon at the farmer's market and I immediately knew I wanted to make watermelon juice! First off, have you done this before? It's fairly easy to do, but I wasn't prepared how messy it was going to be! De-seeding the watermelon was the only messy part, but after that you just throw the watermelon flesh into a blender, puree, and then put it through a strainer!

Any mess that it makes is SO worth it. Watermelon juice is naturally sweet yet super refreshing. It's great with just a squeeze of lime on top of ice - but Friday's after a crazy week calls for boozy watermelon cocktails! 

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Watermelon Cocktails

- To make the watermelon juice: Using a large knife, cut 1 inch off the top and bottom of the watermelon and then cut it in half crosswise. Place the watermelon cut side down on a carving board and, using the knife, cut off and discard the rind. Cut the watermelon vertically into 1-inch-thick slices. Working with 1 slice at a time, gently break the watermelon along the vein of seeds. Using a small spoon, scrape off the seeds and transfer the seedless watermelon portions to the blender. You may have to work in batches. Puree the watermelon for a few seconds and then strain the watermelon juice through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and then pour into mason jars to store for up to a week!

For the cocktail

  1. fill glass with ice
  2. fill glass halfway with watermelon juice
  3. add a shot (or two!) of vodka 
  4. squeeze half of a lime in there 
  5. top with club soda if your heart desires (or keep it as it is) 
  6. stir it up and top with some fresh mint
  7. drink up!

BBQ Chicken Sliders

It's friYAY and summertime and I need some BBQ in my life. You feel me? On the weekends in summer, I'm on the constant verge of drooling thinking about BBQ and beer while soaking up the sun. Do you know what's even more glorious? BBQ that's so tender that IT. HAS. SHREDDED APART! Can it get much better than that? Or you might be thinking - "Could there be anything more gross?!" For some people the thought of pulled meat might give them the heebie jeebies, but I on the other hand am a big fan. 

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In my hometown in Florida, there's a little bbq sand on the side of the road in town and at least once a week I would stop and get a bbq sandwich. I love the way the sweet barbecue sauce would soak into the bread a little. I would take a bite of the sammy and then a bite of coleslaw for crunch - pure perfection. 

While I love grilling, BBQ can be just as easy to make from your kitchen. These chicken sliders are the ultimate summer party food! So easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser. Sweet Hawaiian rolls, piled with juicy pulled chicken, and then topped with a tangy crunchy slaw to balance it all out. You guyssss. Put this on repeat all summer long because it is that goood.

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BBQ Chicken Sliders

Ingredients

- 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs, or a mix of thighs and breasts
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) barbecue sauce, store-bought or homemade plus more to serve
- Hawaiian rolls for the sandwiches, or any other slider bun that you like

Coleslaw
- 1/2 small head of purple cabbage, shaved thinly, I love using a mandolin for this
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, also used the mandolin for this
- Juice of half a lime
- a big pinch of salt

What to do

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Remove the chicken from the packaging and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot (with a lid) heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the chicken one piece at a time, stirring to mix well with the onion. Stir in the salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pour in your favorite barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat.
  3. Cover the pot with a lid and put in the oven. Bake, covered, for 90 minutes, or until the chicken is extremely tender. Remove from the oven and use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a large bowl. 
  4. While your chicken is baking, make your coleslaw. Mix the cabbage, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt in a medium bowl and let sit until ready to serve. 
  5. Use two forks to shred the chicken. While you're shredding, put the sauce, uncovered, back on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid in the pan to about half of its volume. Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir to incorporate. 

Simple Cobb Salad

Mondays are for hitting the reset button. We try and keep weekends as balanced as possible, but more often than not ice-cream gets consumed, bottles of wine get drank, and sometimes you just have to say eff-it and eat that bowl of pasta. "Sunday Scaries" may be a real thing, but I still get a satisfying feeling on Sunday nights when I pack my bag for Pure Barre on Monday morning at 6 AM, get a healthy lunch ready for the next day, and know that I am going to reset and get ready for the week! 

Keeping homemade dressing in the fridge is a lifesaver for work because I can throw a salad together quickly the night before. If you haven't made your own salad dressing before then I would definitely get on board! Have you looked at how much sugar and weird ingredients are on the back of those store bought salad dressing bottles?! Not only that, the taste will be SO much better as well. 

One of my favorite simple salads to make for lunch or dinner is a cobb. I know there's a lot of  argument as to what goes into a cobb but "our version" includes tomatoes, bacon, jammy eggs, blue cheese (if we have it on hand), and a good creamy homemade lemon parmesan dressing. I caught myself licking the spatula after making this dressing the other night...it's that good. I'm talking about being "healthy" but this dressing has mayo in it blah blah blah. #balance

ALSO, we just bought a salad spinner from IKEA for like 6 bucks and it is the BEST THING EVER. No more drying off lettuce with paper towels or watered down dressing!! I always thought it was a useless kitchen tool, but it's awesome! Plus you can use it as a crisper in the fridge for your lettuce!

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Simple Cobb Salad

Ingredients

- Butter lettuce or any lettuce that you like
- boiled eggs - I like 1 per person for this salad
- crispy bacon - 2-3 pieces for person
- Sliced cherry tomatoes - a handful per person
- Parmesan for topping
- Blue cheese or gorgonzola (if you have it on hand, if not it's great without as well!)

Creamy Lemon-Parmesan Dressing

- 1/2 cup of mayo
-  1 lemon - squeezed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- milk to thin (add 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency that you like)

What to do

  1. Heat a skillet on medium -hight heat and fry your bacon until crispy. Set on paper towels to drain. 

  2. while the bacon is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Place eggs gently into boiling water and set timer to 6.5 minutes. We like our eggs with a jammy yolk but if you want yours hard boiled than set your timer for 8 minutes. 

  3. While the eggs are boiling, wash and spin dry your lettuce, and slice your tomatoes. 

  4. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or mason jar and blend (or shake vigorously). I usually make a double batch of this and store it in the fridge for throughout the week. 

Enjoy!

The Ultimate Summer Craft Beer Guide

In my last years of college I was a bartender at World of Beer in Gainesville and it was a job that I am so happy that I had! I know a college kid who gets to pour beer and sip on tasters throughout their shift  would of course be happy to have that kind of job, but it was so much more than that! For one thing, working there introduced me to a world outside of Mich Ultra's and Guinness. But don't get me wrong, I still love Mich Ultra for a hot day on the lake or beach. Is that just a southern thing? We went to Austin for a Bachelorette party a few weeks back and hardly anyone from Oregon had had a Mich Ultra besides me!  ALSO FUN FACT: I used to think Guinness was SOO heavy but it actually only has 15 calories more than a Bud Light! 

Before starting at World of Beer we had to take a test in "beer school" and I always tell people I studied harder for that test than any other exam in college! I don't know if that's sad or glorious, but regardless it's fun knowledge to have nonetheless! I used to be so involved in the craft beer "world"  that I knew about any special releases and every sought after brew region to region. Now I live in the Pacific Northwest which is one of the greatest regions for craft beer in America, and sadly I choose Pino Noir over a brewski most of the time these days. My metabolism can't quite handle the Double IPA's and the Belgium Triples I use to throw down often - but that doesn't mean I still don't appreciate them from time to time! 

In the winter I am a Porter and Imperial Stout lady, but in the summer I want something light and refreshing! This past weekend we attended the Portland Craft Beer Festival which was walking distance from our apartment and it was spectacular! With 65+ breweries there we tried so many incredible beers, but my favorite of the day was the blueberry muffin sour ale from Great Notion! It wasn't sweet but it still reminded me of a fresh baked blueberry muffin and was so refreshing for a hot day! Thanks to one of the Festivals sponsors, Bridgeport Brewing, there was an awesome flower wall to promote their seasonal Rosé IPA!

Here is a guide to summer craft beer styles as well as my favorites in each region! I have to be real though and since I am a Florida/Oregon girl all of the South and West beers will be from there ;) Cheers ya'll!

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Pilsners & American Lagers

These are going to be your lightest beers that are crisp and highly carbonated. The alcohol content is only going to go up to about 5.5% so this is your best beer to drink at the summit after a long hike or on the lake wake-boarding. 

South- Gainesville, FL:  An ode to my homeland and alma mater: Swamphead - Loggerhead Lager 
Northeast- Brooklyn, NYBrooklyn Lager- definitely a pizza or burger beer!
Midwest- Kalamazoo, MI: Bell's Lager of the Lake's - Never been to the Great Lakes but excited to drink this on one of them the day that I do!
West- Portland, OR: Deschutes Pacific Wonderland - It makes it that much better when the brewery is in your neighborhood!

 

Sour Ales 

Tart and sour but often refreshing in the summer! Some common styles are Gose, Lambics, and American sours. 

South - Dunedin, FL:  7venth Sun "It Puts the Cucumber on it's skin or it gets the Gose again"
Northeast - Brooklyn, NY:  Evil Twin Mission Gose - Started in Denmark, now in NY
Midwest - Minneapolis, MN: Surly Inside the Upside Down - Imperial Sour...9%...tryyy ittt
West - Portland, OR: 10 Barrel Cucumber Crush - My go-to for a hot day

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IPA's

IPA's are the top selling craft beer selling around the country and is the most entered category in the Great American Beer Festival. Sometimes IPA's can be too hoppy for me in the summer, but there's a ton of sessionable IPA's to choose from!

South - Tampa, FL:  Cigar City Jai Lai - A Floridan favorite
Northeast - Warren, VT - Lawson's Super Session #2
Midwest - Chicago, IL: Vallejo IPA - tropical and summery but packs a punch at 6.7%
West - Portland, OR: Bridgeport Rosé IPA- #Roséallday


Summer Wheats

The beer that will get you through the summer heat - think Blue Moon! A way to recognize them is their cloudier appearance. 

South: Tampa, FL: Cigar City Florida Cracker - Another one of my summer faves
Northeast: Cooperstown, NY - Brewery Ommegang Witte Wheat
Midwest: Kalamazoo, MI: Bell's Oberon - Not summer without this one!
West: Portland, OR: Widmer Hefe - Would this post really be worthy without this classic??

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