Raspberry Cocoa Energy Bites

When 2 or 3pm strikes everyday I always get the midday munchies. Since I wake up around 6 everyday and then eat lunch usually around 11:30, I am ravenous in the afternoon! In my office, the only thing that is lying around most of the time is peanut butter pretzels and Jolly Ranchers, so my lack of will power is nonexistent when hunger strikes. I generally have a fairly healthy diet through out the week, besides the occasional work happy hour where that plate of chili cheese nachos calls my name? Typically my weekday meal plan consists of toast with almond butter and banana for breakfast, our leftovers from the night before for lunch, and usually a healthy veggie filled dinner. But it’s always that pesky afternoon craving that has me wanting to reach for something sweet and snacky.

Enter Raspberry Cocoa Energy Bites!! These little bites satisfy all my cravings and are the perfect bite-size amount. Ever since reading a Cozy Kitchen’s recipe for Berry Crinkle Cookies, i’ve been dying to make a recipe with freeze dried raspberries! They have the coolest texture ever and since chocolate and raspberries go so well together I figured these bites would make the perfect vehicle! These guys are packed with energy boosting ingredients like cocoa powder, chia seeds, nut butter, and raw almonds - Plus they get all of their sweetness from dates which are packed with antioxidants and fiber. I love unsweetened coconut flakes to add a little texture on the outside as well!

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Not only am I reaching for these energy bites as an afternoon snack, but also before our morning workouts! We’ve started going to a 9:30am Orange Theory class on Saturdays and Sundays, and that time is just late enough that I’m starving before we leave. I love eating one or two of these now before working out and gives me enough energy until we get home! After which I will happily devour that stack of pancakes and bacon! Isn’t that the whole reason to workout after all? 😉

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Raspberry Cocoa Energy Bites

Ingredients

- 2 cups pitted medjool dates (16-17dates)
-1/2 cup raw almonds
- ½ cup freeze dried raspberries
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-1 tablespoon chia seeds
-3 tablespoons unsalted nut butter (I used the mixed nut butter from TJ’s, but plain almond butter works well too)
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for rolling
- 2-3 tablespoons of warm water, if mixture is too dry.

What to do

  1. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until mixture is thick and incorporated.

  2. Take a small amount of mixture and pinch it between your fingers. If it sticks together easily and can roll into a ball, it's ready. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time, pulsing in between, until mixture is sticky enough to hold its shape.

  3. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll in shredded coconut if you’d like or you can leave them as is.  

  4. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. I prefer to keep them in the fridge so they are colder and more firm, but they can sit on your counter in an airtight container as well if you like them room temperature!

Happy snacking!

Sparkling Strawberry Sangria

Alright alright, I have to admit…I made this recipe for Valentine’s Day and then never got around to posting it 🤷🏼‍♀️ Someone help me! I wonder if one day i’ll wake up and all of a sudden I will be an organized time management Queen. A girl can dream! But really, I have got to have a better approach to juggling work, blogging, and our personal life. Do you other fellow bloggers have any editorial calendar tactics you use or organization tips to share? My problem is that I get so excited planning content that I will write down 20 recipes I want to shoot, completely oblivious that not even half of those will be accomplished, and pencil them all into my calendar only to be disappointed when I can’t get to them all!

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BUT WHEN IT’S FRIDAY AND THE HAPPIEST OF HOURS, WHO CARES ABOUT ORGANIZATION!! 😉 Just kidding - but after a long (perhaps disorganized week in some of our cases), I am here to make your boozy dreams come true my friend. And let’s be honest here - this is about as boozy as they come. Brandy, Rosé, prosecco or any bubbles makes for a deliciously potent concoction!

This is the perfect drink to make if you’re having a girls day or a big cookout with friends. With traditional sangrias there’s usually a little wait time, but I love that you can make this on the fly to get the night started!

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Strawberry Champagne Sangria

Ingredients

- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 oranges - 1 squeezed and the other sliced into thin rounds
- 1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 bottle of rosé wine
- 3 tablespoons of simple syrup (more if you like it sweeter)
- 1/2 cup of brandy
- 1 bottle of prosecco or other bubbles

what to do

  1. In a large pitcher, combine the strawberries, orange, and lemon slices. Use the end of a wooden spoon to muddle the fruit a little.

  2. Pour in the bottle of rosé, simple syrup, and brandy over the fruit and give it a little stir. If you have the time, chill the pitcher for an hour or so, but if not you can serve it as is! Just before serving, stir in the prosecco!

  3. Spoon some of the fruit into glasses, pour in the sangria, garnish with strawberry slices, and serve.

Note: to make simple syrup: Pour equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan. I usually do 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Boil until sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool a bit and then pour into a jar for storage - You can keep this in the fridge for 3-4 weeks!

Enjoy!

Mango Cilantro Margarita

Happy National Margarita Day my Friends! Every Friday I want to sharing a fun cocktail, so what better way to start than the day dedicated to the marg!! Normally I am a classic margarita gal, but sometimes you just need something a little extra fun and fruity on a day like today!

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I associate margaritas so much with sun and summertime, so I wish I wasn't bundled up as i’m typing this, but no matter how chilly it is outside a marg is delicious nonetheless! The food I crave most is Mexican food - spicy, saucy, tons of flavor, and loaded with CILANTRO! It’s obscene how much cilantro we use in a week in our kitchen. Does it grow well in a garden? I sure hope so seeing how much we buy it every week!

I love the combination of a fruity/herby cocktail so combining mango one of my favorite fruits with cilantro was a no brainer!

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Mango Cilantro Margarita

Ingredients

- 2 ounces tequila
- 2 ounces lime juice
- 2 ounces mango juice, nectar, or puree
- 1 ounce orange liqueur (Cointreau, Gran Marnier, Triple Sec)
- 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro leaves
- mango slices and cilantro sprigs for garnish
- Simple syrup (optional depending on how sweet your mango juice is)

what to do

  1. Add the tequila, lime juice, mango juice, chopped cilantro and orange liqueur to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. if you feel like it’s not sweet enough for you liking, add in 1 ounce of simple syrup.

  2. Shake for about 10 seconds until mixture is chilled.

  3. Fill you margarita glass with ice then pour the margarita mixture carefully over ice.

Our New Favorite Way to Make Dungeness Crab

Before I could even read a menu I would choose crab legs over chicken tenders on the kids menu. My poor parents would shell crab legs for me before they even ate themselves lol. I think they were happy that I was an adventurous eater but i’m sure a little annoyed as well.

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I grew up eating Florida Blue Crabs which have the sweetest most delicate meat. Even though they take up residence from Novia Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, I always think of blue crabs as such a Floridian way of life! I have such fond memories of spreading newspaper all of the kitchen table and going to town- dunking the claw meat in melted butter was always my favorite! In Norway, Thomas’s family eats crab completely different which I love! They eat the whole body of the crab, spread the meat on a piece of white bread and squeeze a little mayo and lemon juice on top.

Now that we live in Oregon, Dungeness crab is king! While blue crabs are better in warmer months, Dungeness crab are best in the winter so we have really been enjoying them this season. I have fallen in love with a new way to eat crab with this recipe! A sweet asian peppercorn sauce blended with a ton of fresh coriander. We crack the shells just enough to easily take out the meat, and then toss them harmoniously with the peppercorn sauce. And there she is. The most glorious crab recipe I've tried to date. Pour yourself a hefty glass of white wine, spread out the newspaper, and get your hands messy ya’ll!

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Asian Peppercorn Dungeness crab

Ingredients

- 3 pounds of crab (do 1 1/2 pounds per person)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 bunch of coriander (cilantro)
- 2 tablespoon of toasted black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 lemon
- sliced scallions and additional coriander for garnishing

What to do

  1. Boil sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and jalapeño until it comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

  2. In your blender, mix the vinegar mixture, hoisin, and cilantro until it’s completely blended.

  3. Remove the claws from the body of the crab and crack them either using crab crackers or with the back edge of a knife, removing some of the shell so the sauce can absorb into the crab claw meat. Remember, this is meant to be messy, so you’ll remove the rest of the shells and pick the meat out when you’re eating!

  4. You can pick the meat out of the body of the crab as well and keep that in a separate bowl.

  5. Once you have all of the crab claws cracked, heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Toss the crab in and heat them up for 2 minutes or so tossing occasionally. Add in the sauce, tossing the crab, and reducing the sauce down - about 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Valentine's Day Cheeseboard

I’m sure most of you are guilty of having a little love affair with cheese. I mean how could you not?! Thomas always laughs because sometimes I can’t help myself and I will nibble the corner end off of a block of parmesan like a mouse because I’m too lazy to cut it! He’ll open up the fridge and there will be two teeth marks in the cheese haha. What am I five years old?! 

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One of my favorite date nights is to lay out a charcuterie cheese board and snack throughout the night, with a glass of red of course. I would perfectly content if that was my dinner most nights of the week! The essentials for me is always a soft mild cheese like brie, blue cheese because it’s my fave, and something sharper like an aged cheddar or gouda. 

For Valentine’s Day I created a festive cheese board with fun v-day themed tags. Grow Mold with Me, BRIE Mine, I’d Be So BLUE Without You, and You’re a GOUDA one! I love a good pun, especially a “cheesy” pun… 😆

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These cheese tags were so simple to make - Just cut out hearts of white card stock, use a red colored pencil or sharpie for the lettering, and tape on the back of toothpicks or any cheese tag you have! Easy peesy and adds a cute touch for a galentines party or date night! 

FOR THE BOARD: 

I bought everything from Trader Joe’s but you can get everything from your favorite grocery store! Have fun with this and add any other nibbles that you think would be festive! 

- Blue Cheese
- Brie
- Aged Gouda
- pistachios and walnuts
- Prosciutto and salami
- Rasberries and strawberries
- Fig Jam
- Dark Chocolate
- fig and olive crackers and rosemary crisp crackers

We paired the cheeseboard with a Strawberry Champagne Sangria that I’ll be sharing tomorrow lovie dovies 🥰

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What we Read, Watched, and Ate this Weekend

For the Portlandians reading this, are you sad the snow didn’t come?! I mean the BIG SNOW - the “snowpocalypse”. The city was in a frenzy Friday when the forecast said we were getting 15+ inches, myself included! I was so excited to get out in the closed down streets and finally play in the snow come Saturday. We hopped across the street to Trader Joes Friday night to get everything to make lasagna and it was literally like the scene from Jumanji. You know the scene where the monkeys are throwing paint cans and the canoe goes shooting through the store? People were in a panic and had SWIPED the shelves clean, I couldn’t believe it! There wasn’t a can of beans or mere onion left in the joint. Come Saturday we woke up expecting our apartment to be enveloped in a winter wonderland - yet the branches were barely dusted with snow 🙄 The sun was shining and it was a beautiful weekend nonetheless! At least the folks who stocked up for the 'lypse won’t have to buy groceries for the next 6 months 😆

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Read

  1. I just started Girl, Wash Your Face! I’m only two chapters in and I already love it. Rachel Hollis is absolutely hilarious and inspiring. Every page I read it makes me more and more motivated to make changes to reach my goals!

  2. Reading this article on Savannah, GA makes me want to visit there even more! I still can’t believe I haven’t been there yet!

Watched

  1. Nothing like a good rom com :) In our impending snowstorm on Friday we watched As good as it gets! I love a good jack nicholson flick.

  2. For the last few days we have been watching One Strange Rock on Netflix with Will Smith as the narrator. It is so freaking amazing! It’s incredible how our planet works and how magnificent it truly is. This is definitely not a boring science show ya’ll - it’s worth a watch!

  3. Thomas finally got me to watch a James Bond movie! It’s not that I was ever opposed to them, but I feel like it’s kind of like Star Wars, if you start one than you have to watch them all and that just seems like too large of a feat at this point in time lol. We watched From Russia with Love with a young Sean Connery (cue the Sean Connery Jeopardy skit from SNL 😂)

Ate

Friday
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We made cast iron lasagna in our dutch oven! The best rich meat sauce, béchamel, and lots of layers! The cast iron sides makes it almost caramelized and crispy in some spots - SO GOOD! Putting the recipe on the blog next week.
Saturday
- for breakfast we made Turkish eggs! I’m going to also post this to the blog as well soon since It’s becoming one of our faves. Pita bread topped with a lemony yogurt, poached eggs, a spiced chickpea and walnut mixture in a buttery sauce, and then topped with fresh dill.
- leftover lasag for lunch because duhhh
- smoothie bowls for dinner because we were so full from lasagna lol - Here’s our go-to favorite açaí smoothie bowl!
Sunday
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breakfast was leftover risotto from last week with a fried egg on top! Because Sundays mean fridge cleaning day.
- I did a Valentine’s Day cheese board shoot for the blog, so I ate my weight in cheese and fig jam for lunch.
- For din I made a variation of HBH’s sheet pan chicken shawarma bowls. SO good! I love the combo of hummus, spicy chicken and cucumbers!

Have a great week friends!
xo

Our Favorite Romantic Dinners to Make Together

When I see the giant heart boxes of cheesy chocolates in the grocery store during this time of year, I roll my eyes just a little. But at the same time i’m bursting inside because I am your typical girl and go nutso over mushy gushy stuff and love any excuse to celebrate anything and everything! So while I do love this day dedicated to love, I feel like every day should be like valentines day. It doesn’t have to be this grand gesture of buying flowers, chocolate, expensive dinner and gifts ALL on one day. But we do expect this throughout the year, right ladies? 😂 Just kidding - but in all honesty doing special things together should be EVERY WEEK, not just on February 14th and your Anniversary every year.

Making a romantic dinner at home is something we do as often as possible.. There’s nothing better than breaking open a bottle of wine, turning on some good tunes, and making a great meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out to a fancy dinner occasionally, but for us this is our definition of a perfect date night 💕🍴 Here’s a list of our favorite recipes to make together!

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1. Seared Scallops

Whenever i’m thinking of a romantic dinner at home, scallops are the #1 thing that pops into my mind! These little vessels of sea goodness are super easy to prepare if you’re careful, they look pretty, and you won’t feel super bloated after dinner - you know, so you can save room for dessert… 😉

My recipe for seared scallops with butternut squash purée is so good with sautéed mushrooms and an arugula salad on the side. Keep the salad simple with just lemon juice, good extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan, and salt and pepper.

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2. Pasta

Nothing says ‘date night’ more than a good pasta dish and a bottle of red wine. It’s our go-to for Friday night or anytime really! I love those nights after we’ve finished our pasta and we’re sitting by the candle light finishing off the bottle and instead of turning on the tv to watch a movie or show, we just keep talking into the night. Sometimes life gets so hectic and you forget to just slowww down and enjoy each other. So my friends, break out your best bottle of cab or bubbly, make this sweet potato gnocchi with balsamic sage brown butter or oxtail ragu pappardelle and have yourself an old fashioned date night at home! 💋

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3. Lamb Shanks

The first time Thomas made me a lamb shank I seriously thought to myself “hot damn I better marry that man” ;)

I don’t know how, but for some people lamb isn’t there thing, and I just don’t get it. Lamb shanks especially, is melt-in-you-mouth-fall-off-the-bone perfection. For date night, I love our slow braised lamb shanks with basil mint pesto, with small roasted potatoes, and roasted mini carrots.

Or if you are wanting more of a stew, this lamb and butternut squash curry made with lamb shanks is one of my all time favorite cozy dinners.

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4. steaks

It’s hard to go wrong with a good steak for date night. We don’t have a grill since we have downtown apartment living, but I have found that a pan seared steak can be pretty darn good. I love searing a filet in a really hot pan with little butter and olive oil and then adding a spring of rosemary and smashed garlic cloves to the hot butter, spooning it over the steak as it finishes cooking. GAHH that’s good. All you need is silky mashed potatoes and broccolini on the side and you’ve got yourself a snazzy date night meal.

Or for a really show-stopping date-night meal, beef wellington is always so fun! I love this deconstructed beef wellington I crafted up this past holiday season. A lot easier and pretty to look at :)

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5. Chocolate Cake

okay, i’m sorry - I know this isn’t a dinner, but who needs dinner when you’ve got dessert?! If you feel like forgoing the dinner and going straight to dessert, than there’s nothing better than chocolate cake! We have made two chocolate cakes together and both are equally delicious. Chocolate rose cake for two is a fun treat for Valentine’s Day, but the double chocolate cake is extra rich and decadent.

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I know i’m being extra lovely on the blog for Valentine’s Day, but I hope you treat most days like V-Day with your other half and make date nights a weekly routine ❤️

Tell me in the comments what your favorite date night meal is or favorite thing to do together?!

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What we read, watched, and ate this weekend

Hey hey! How was your weekend? We had the best cozy cabin weekend with friends in Black Butte, a quaint ranch vacation community in Central Oregon near Bend. My friend Danni’s parents own a cabin there and it’s always the perfect relaxing weekend getaway! We headed up early Friday afternoon and spent the next couple of days with our four friends, eating good food, drinking too much wine and playing in the snow with their dogs Cooper the golden and Kodo the Aussie.

We didn’t do as much “watching/reading” as a usually weekend, but we sure did a lot of eating! 🍴

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Read

  1. I just finished reading Sarah’s Key, If you haven’t read it then you should definitely put it on your list. I just ordered Where the Crawdads Sing and Girl Wash Your Face on Amazon today.

  2. On our 3 hour ride to Black Butte, I read through a new cookbook, Six Seasons. It’s by chef Joshua McFadden who owns Ava Gene’s and Tusk in Portland. His way of cooking and using seasonal produce is incredible. Simple recipes at home centered around the seasons best vegetables. I already made a comforting cabbage farro soup from the book and I can’t wait to make more!

Watched

  1. We watched the Fyre Festival documentary for a 2nd time at the cabin since a couple people hadn’t seen it and were curious. It’s honestly so mind boggling to me that really happened and what a loser he is. It’s definitely entertaining if you haven’t watching it yet!

  2. Other than the doc, the TV stayed off which was a nice change! We played a lot of King’s Corner and One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which is such a fun game! Especially if you’ve had a few cocktails!

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Ate

Friday
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our friends Danni and Nick were in charge of dinner Friday night! They made spaghetti with bolognese with salad, crusty bread, and lots of red wine of course.
- for our night cap we made our favorite Old Fashioned’s using bitter housewife aged bitters!

Saturday
- for breakfast Thomas and I made our favorite shakshuka with couscous recipe that I adapted from Molly Yeh. This is honestly the breakfast recipe we make the most in our house, and occasionally for dinner for that matter!
- for lunch we headed into Bend and had lunch at Deschutes Brewery. We had beer flights (I loved the grapefruit sour), and I had French onion soup and the Nashville spicy chicken sandwich for lunch. I have to say, our spicy fried chicken sandwiches blow the socks off of that one.
- for dinner, our other friends Gabe and Linzy were in charge and they made our french onion pot roast with creamy polenta from the blog! The most cozy of all cozy comfort meals.

Sunday
- we woke up leisurely, had our coffee, and then Thomas and I made Huevos Rancheros for the group! We made a pot of black beans seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin and cooked them down with a little beef stock and made them really creamy. We put the beans on top of a tortilla topped with a fried egg, homemade pico de gallo, avocado, sliced radishes, jalapeños, scallions, cilantro, and crumbly queso fresco cheese.
- after breakfast we took a long bike ride and before we knew it we had to rush back to the cabin and get packed up since there was other renters coming in. So once we were packed up we headed back to Portland and made asian-y pork burritos for dinner and the Super Bowl! If you want to follow-up along on Instagram stories, I am challenging to post on there everything we eat for dinner the rest of the year and saving it in my highlight reel! 😄 I thought it would be neat for us to look back and see everything we eat, plus I can re-make some of the stuff that we make on the fly that ends up turning out good! You can screenshot the recipe in my stories if you want to make it as well!

Have a great week!

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New Year, Big Goals!

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Almost every NYE that we’ve been together, we have gotten dressed up, made a great dinner with friends, and sipped champs until the early morning hours. Is it ironic that the first year that we’re married we stayed in, wore our comfiest attire, and didn’t even open the bottle of Prosecco in the fridge? lol I have to say though, I would not have had it any other way this year. We had a rough couple of days traveling back from a friends wedding in Ohio (we got stuck and had to stay the night in Dallas) plus I have a pretty nasty cold, so by the time we made it back to Portland in the afternoon of NYE I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more than to stay in and have a relaxing night at home. We did muster up the strength to make a pretty epic oxtail ragu with pappardelle, and then we watched one of my favorite movies of all time, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood We fell asleep on the couch and woke up 5 minutes before the clock struck midnight and kept our eyes open just long enough for a kiss - then slumbered away for a much needed 9 hours.

New Years Eve is always bittersweet. In one way i’m sad the the holidays and celebrations have come to an end, but i’m also excited to reset, reflect on the year prior, and create goals for the new year. 2018 was an amazing year; We got married, we attended 5 other weddings, went to the Bahamas for my bachelorette party, visited Austin, TX for the first time for another Bach party, traveled to Bali for our honeymoon, and to the Dominican Republic for my work contest trip. On the career front, Thomas switched from helicopters to airplanes with the path to become a commercial airline pilot, I continued to grow in my role as a recruiter at my day job, I did my first two restaurant photography shoots, and I continued to grow this little blog of mine. I am so proud of everything we have accomplished together so far, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store!

2019 goals!

personal:

Buy a home - I am constantly drooling over Pinterest and dreaming of a house. Our big goal for 2019 is buy a home where we are going to be for the next 5-10 years.

Saving - Saving money is a big part of buying a home, so I guess these two kind of go together. However, I overall want to be more conscience of what i’m spending my money on, like coffee for example. I have a perfectly good coffee maker at home and at my office, so there’s no reason to buy Starbucks! If I added up all the money i’ve spent on coffee out the last few years, would have a good chunk of money to put down on our house…no joke!

Spend less time watching TV - I’m a multi-tasker when watching a show, but i’m sure I would get a lot more done if I turned it off completely and had my full-focus on whatever i’m working on. I love a good show or movie on Netflix, but during the week my goal is to keep the TV off and focus on things for the blog, reading, or practicing Norwegian on Duolingo.

Play:

Kicking off our inaugural anniversary trip! - This is one that i’m really excited about. At my brother’s wedding we met a couple who for the last 5 or 6 years since they’ve been married have alternated planning a surprise anniversary trip! How fun is that?! It’s something to look forward to all year and will be amazing as well once we have kids and need a little vacay lol. I am kicking it off planning it for our 1st anniversary March 31st and Thomas will have no idea where we are going until we go to the airport (eh, or get in the car?) - stay tuned on where we go :)

Sticking to a weekly date night - I think connecting and being away from all social media/tv/the outside world is so important, whether it’s a cozy night at home playing board games or going our to a restaurant we’ve been dying to go to! I feel like we’re good about date night already, but I need to be better about ditching my phone!

Blogging/Business:

Read one blogging/business article a day - Constantly learning and staying up on new trends is so important and I definitely want to make this more of a focus.

Post consistently - I go through spells where I do 3-4 blog posts a week, then I’ll lose focus and only do a handful in a month’s time. I’ve already ordered my 2019 planner, so I am going to be proactive with planning content in advance and using my weekends and time off as efficiently as possible.

When it’s all said and done, the most important thing I want for this year and every year in the future is health and happiness for the people I love the most. Anything else is just a bonus :)

I hope you all have an amazing start to 2019!

Smoked Salmon Bagels

Can you believe Christmas is in 8 days?! The last couple of weeks have flown by, and now we are packing up and getting ready to head to Florida in a couple days to be with my family for Christmas. We just have today and tomorrow of work before our holiday break officially kicks off - plus tomorrow is my birthday! To celebrate and kick off our two week much needed vacay, Thomas and I have a room booked at McMenamin’s Edgefield tomorrow night. It’s like it’s own little town! Cozy quaint rooms at the hotel, a spa with outdoor soaking pools, a wine room and brewery on-site, and a delicious restaurant! I’m beyond excited for a little r&r and a night away before we fly home!

I’m sure most of you will be having guests in your home and hosting family and friends in the coming weeks. It’s the best time of year getting to spend time with everyone you love the most, but sometimes entertaining can be tiring! Instead of stressing over an elaborate breakfast in the mornings, something that is so easy (and fun to eat) is smoked salmon bagels! So simple and who doesn’t love a good toasty bagel?! Make it a DIY situation but laying out the salmon, bagels, cream cheese, and all the toppings out on a serving tray so everyone can build their own the way they like! I love the Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon from Trader Joe’s, but any lox or smoked salmon will do.

This is a breakfast everyone loves, looks pretty, and is easy on you for hosting. Win win for everyone! A strong latte, an epic salmon bagel, and good company sounds like a perfect holiday morning to me :)

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Smoked Salmon Bagels

Ingredients

- Everything bagels, or whatever your bagel preference is
- cream cheese
- smoked salmon
- All the toppings: capers, thinly sliced red onion, capers, micro greens, cucumbers, and sliced tomatoes.

what to do

toast the bagels right before serving - place cream cheese in a dish with a spreader, place toppings around the tray and let everyone build their own bagel. Easy peasy!

Double Chocolate Cake

Who else has been watching Christmas movies every night since December kicked off? Guilty. I have so many favorites that it’s hard to fit them all in!

Here is my faves (in somewhat of an order of best, but IT’S SO HARD TO CHOOSE!)
- Christmas Vacation (I mean, duh. I hope i’m as funny as Aunt Bethany when i’m 90)
- Home Alone - Hysterical laughter every time Marv gets hurt in the movie
- Love Actually - I literally cry happy tears every-time
- Scrooged - Bill Murray is my hero
- A Christmas Story - Plays on repeat on our tv Christmas Day

Other faves are The Holiday, Elf, The Santa Clause, The Grinch, The Family Stone, It’s a Wonderful Life, and i’m sure many more i’m forgetting. What’s your favorite Christmas movies?! I need more to add to my list…obviously :)

The countdown is on for a much needed break and I couldn’t be more excited to head home for Christmas! We are leaving next week for Florida, but first we are going to be staying at Edgefield next Tuesday for my birthday! It’s an amazing property right outside of Portland with a quaint hotel, thermal soaking pools, and lots of cozy restaurants and bars on-site! I’ll definitely do a post on our stay!

I am all for Christmas cookies, but sometimes you just need a good slice of chocolate cake. You can’t go wrong serving up rich and decadent chocolate cake, and it’s easy to make festive with greenery and sugared cranberries! I adapted this recipe from Broma Bakery - she’s seriously a cake wizard. I used cocoa I had on-hand, but if you want to make it a “black-out” chocolate cake, you’ll need to use dark cocoa.

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Double Chocolate Cake

for the cake

- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups cocoa powder
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee

for the frosting

- 1 3/4 cups salted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. 

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, eggs, and buttermilk.

  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, whisking until no lumps remain. Pour in brewed coffee, mixing until just combined.

  4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for roughly 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

  5. To make the frosting, place butter and cream cheese in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (an electric hand mixer also works). Cream on high speed for 1 minute, then turn speed to low and add in cocoa powder. Mix until combined, then add in powdered sugar, brewed coffee, vanilla extract, and salt. Cream on high speed for 1 minute, until mixture has lightened slightly and is fluffy.

  6. Frost cake by placing first cake layer onto a cake stand. Top with a healthy dose of frosting. Spread evenly, then repeat with second layer. Use remaining frosting to frost sides of the cake. Last, use the back of a spoon to create a large swirling pattern all around the cake! 

Deconstructed Beef Wellington

We went and picked up our tree last night and it is definitely a big papa! It’s not so much tall as it is wide lol. You know that scene in Christmas Vacation when Chevy Chase cuts the string on the Christmas tree and it goes bursting through the window?! And he says “little full, lot of sap”… that’s how I feel every year! I’ve got sticky sap all over my fingers but it smells so freaking amazing that I think I’ll just leave it :)

This is my absolute favorite time of year. I think I said that about Fall as well? No but Christmas is REALLY my favorite time of year. There’s something so cozy about turning on a classic Christmas movie, with only the lights from the Christmas tree streaming through, cozied up on the couch drinking something warm. I’m hoping we get a little snow in Portland to kick off the holiday season! As with all seasons, what I look forward to most is family and food! Heading home for the holidays, baking cookies, making peppermint hot chocolate (and boozy eggnog) and sharing beautiful festive meals are what it’s all about.

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I’ve been thinking of different dishes I want to make my family and friends over the next few weeks, and Beef Wellington always comes to mind because it’s fun & festive and such a great main dish for holiday parties. There’s nothing better than a melt in your mouth beef tenderloin smothered in a mushroom duxelle and wrapped in flaky puff pastry. Check out Gordon Ramsey’s - he’s the master of beef wellies. But I thought why not deconstruct it?! All the same great flavors with less fuss. And plus, more room for error when you’ve had one to many glasses of rosé in the kitchen and wrapping that puff pastry is looking prettyyy challenging :)

Thomas loves ribeyes so that’s what we tried for this recipe and It had such great flavor! I love beef tenderloin, but you can choose whatever cut of meat you fancy! Dig in, pour yourself a glass, and cheers to kicking off Christmas!

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Deconstructed Beef Wellington

Ingredients


- 3 pints (1 1/2 pounds) white button mushrooms, chopped as small as you can
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
-Puff pastry sheets (found in the frozen aisle at the grocery store)
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
- 2 pounds of your preferred cut of beef (filet is the most tender, ribeye has more flavor)

red wine sauce
- brown sugar (enough to cover a very thin at the bottom of the pot)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 shallot quartered
- 2 cups of red wine
- 2 cups of beef stock

what to do

  1. Heat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut each of your puff pastry sheets in half making 4 squares. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Space your puff pastry squares evenly, whisk you 1 egg in a small dish, and brush the puff pastry with the egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes or until the squares are golden brown. Turn off the oven when done, but keep pastries in the oven to stay warm while everything finishes cooking.

  2. while your puff pastry is baking, start the red wine sauce. To make the sauce, put a sauce pan over medium heat and cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of brown sugar. Let the sugar melt until it start to look caramelized, careful not to let it burn. You can remove it on and off the heat to monitor it. Toss in your crushed garlic and quartered shallot and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then pour in your red wine. Let the wine reduce by half and then add in beef stock. Continue boiling until it’s reduced by half again. Taste to see if it needs any adjustments. You can always thicken the sauce with a tablespoon of cornstarch blended in a 2 tablespoons of water before whisking it in the sauce and letting it boil out for another minute.

  3. While the sauce is reducing, make your mushroom duxelle. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large sauté pan and set over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, thyme leaves, and mushrooms and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm while you sear your beef.

  4. For the beef, heat a skillet over medium-high. Add a little olive oil and sear steak on the first side. Flip over, add butter, crushed garlic and herbs such as thyme or rosemary. Let steak continue searing while you spoon over garlic butter until it’s golden brown and the steak is cooked to an internal temperature of 145. Move to a cutting board once it’s rested for a few minutes and slice.

  5. To serve, place a square of puff pastry and top with the mushroom duxelle, then place a few slices of beef and drizzle with red wine sauce. Garnish with fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds.

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Dirty Chai Cashew Hemp Latte

Are you guys prepping your kitchen and waistbands for Thursday?! In spite of that fact that i’ve already eaten turkey and a full Thanksgiving meal three times in the last week, I am still pretty darn excited! Between hosting a Friendsgiving and attending a Friendsgiving you would think that I would be all turkey’d out, but no way José! We are heading to Seattle Wednesday and will be spending the holiday with a friend and her family. This will be the first time I have ever not gone home for Thanksgiving which is a little sad, but I am happy Christmas is a short month away and we will be going back to Florida then to see the fam!

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I am in full cozy-up mode this time of year and love to have something warm in my hands pretty much at all times. Usually I am a standard cup of coffee in the morning kind of gal and I’m completely content with a plain jane cup o’ joe. When I am feeling fancy and order something for a coffee shop, I usually go for a dirty chai latte. It’s a chai tea latte with a shot of espresso in it. I love the extra zing that the espresso gives the drink!

Since I got my new Vitamix I have loved making fun drinks at home - like a dirty chai latte! This recipe is one of my new favorites and I love how the cashews and hemp seeds give the latte a creamy nuttiness. And with the power of the Vitamix, the latte is silky smooth and you would never know that you had put nuts in there!

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Dirty Chai Cashew Hemp Latte

Ingredients

- 1 cup water
- 1-2 chai tea bags
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons raw hemp seeds
- 2 tablespoons roasted cashews
- 1 -2 shots of espresso

what to do

  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chai tea bags, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.

  2. In a high powder blender, combine the cinnamon, vanilla, honey, hemp seeds, cashews, and steeped tea. Blend on medium for 2 minutes, then blend on high for about 1 minute or until the drink is smooth and frothy. Pour your espresso in your mug, and then pour chai latte mixture in the mug. To garnish sprinkle with additional hemp seeds and cinnamon. Enjoy!

Hosting our First Friendsgiving

Thomas and I hosted our first Friendsgiving last Saturday! I had all of these big plans to set-up a photo shoot and take a ton of pictures for the blog, but I definitely underestimated how much work goes into preparing for a Thanksgiving feast! I was talking big game the night before that I can do it all by myself, “it’s going to be easy”, and “I can just make a plan in the morning”. Thomas was going to be working all day, so I started feeling the panic when my eyes popped open at 6am thinking “shit! I better get a move on!”. It was such a fun first experience and we had an absolute blast.

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Here’s a little timeline of our day!

The night before: brined the turkey! I used bon appetite’s dry rubbed turkey recipe! It was some of the juiciest turkey i’ve ever had!

6am - eyes pop open in full-panic mode. The apartment is a mess and I don’t have a plan finalized for the day! I break out my bookmarked websites and bon appetite’s Thankgiving edition mag for some inspiration! After an hour of deliberating, I decided on creamy potato gratin, sausage fennel stuffing, roasted brussel sprouts, glazed kabocha squash, cranberry sauce, carrot cake for dessert, lots of gravy and the big fat turkey of course. Praying that Thomas’ flights get cancelled at this point so he can come save me.

7am-10am - Deep cleaned the house, had the Friends Thanksgiving episodes playing in the background, and stuffed everything possible that looked cluttered in the apartment behind our door in our bedroom. Our apartment has NO storage space, so anything that doesn’t have a place gets shoved under the bed or behind the door…I’m learning to be more of a minimalist ok?!

10am- Thomas walks through the door and says his flight was cancelled and he’s home for the day to help me! I cry tears of joy on the inside, but pretend like I had everything handled on the outside.

10:15 - head to Fred Meyer to pick-up all of our groceries! In our neighborhood we live walking distance to three grocery stores, which is such a luxury! We can see trader joe’s from our living room window, so we are definitely spoiled in that sense. If we ever forget a major ingredient I never sweat it since I know I can run right across the street!

11:15 - Got home and started making the homemade carrot cake! I used this recipe by Inspired Taste, but just used two of my 6 inch cake pans and made 4 layers! More frosting right?!

11:45 - While the cake is baking, Thomas starts making the turkey stock with all of the giblets from the turkey (sounds gross but is delicious), and I ran out to buy a couple more white plates from a thrift store down our street that has the best dishes! I also stopped by Kitchen Kaboodle to get cloth napkins candles, and then trader joe’s for all of the greenery/flowers for the table.

12:30 - Took the cake out and put the turkey in! You always want to use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s perfect, but a turkey takes roughly 15 minutes to cook per pound, so we were shooting for 3:30 for it to be coming out of the oven and rest for an hour.

12:30 - 3:30- This was a blur of cutting veggies, washing 1,000 dishes, frosting the cake, basting the turkey every 30 minutes, going nuts on potatoes with a mandolin, peeling god forsaken kambocha squash that has merciless thick skin, singing along to the happy hits playlist on Spotify, yelling at Alexa to turn it down when there was too much going on, sneaking kisses with my hot chef who was frankly saving my ass from having a meltdown had he not been there, setting up the table, lighting all the candles, and then answering the doorbell at 3:30 to a florist delivering flowers from my sweet Nana who knew I was hosting a party!

Pheww, I’m tired just re-living this!

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3:50 - Our friends Maureen and Eric were supposed to be coming at 4, so I quickly texted her saying we are a little behind sched and to come at like 4:30. I scrambled and took the fastest 2 minute shower ever to wash off all the powdered sugar and turkey drippings, threw dry shampoo in my hair, did a quick little makeup, and was back in the kitchen by 4!

4:00 - Poured ourselves our first glass of rosé which tasted like sweet nectar of the gods at this point in the day. That’s all the really matters here.

4:00 - 4:30 - Did last minute preparations and put everything in the oven that hadn’t been in yet. Here’s everything we made for the night! Dry-rubbed roast turkey, classic potato gratin, sausage & fennel stuffing (swapped out cornbread for sourdough), cranberry sauce out of a can because that’s how I like it, Thomas’s turkey gravy, simple roasted brussels, and kamocha squash with a spicy red wine glaze on top!

The rest of the night: Our friends arrived around 4:30ish and we had drinks and snacks before everything was ready to come out of the oven. We put broil on to crisp the potatoes, but forgot the turkey was in there, mind you this was about 3 glasses deep, and we burnt the top of the turkey! Thankfully enough that was the only mishap of the day and it was still delicious but maybe not as pretty.

We sat around candlelight until late into the night drinking 8 bottles of wine between the 6 of us, breaking out aquavit and rod stewart on the record player, and having one of the best nights ever. I love how a tradition forms when you don’t really plan on that happening, but I know Thomas and I will be hosting a friendsgiving like this one many more years to come.

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