Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Looking for a last minute gift for a special someone or for a loved family member or friend? Below are my top 5 must haves for this holiday season! You will find kitchen items as well as basic home accessories. All items are under $100.

I hope your holiday season is filled with sparkle! Enjoy!

  1. Calphalon Contemporary Non-Stick 2 Piece Fry Pan Set w/ Lids (Crate & Barrel $89.00) This simple pan set is an essential addition to any budding chef’s kitchen. It is also perfect for those who just like to spend time cooking or entertaining. The nonstick surface is easily cleanable and perfect for sautéing, frying, or just whipping up a simple and fast breakfast.CalphContNSFryPansWLidsS2SHF16
  2. Metallic Dots Stem-less Wine Glasses (Crate & Barrel $20.82 set of 6) Know someone who loves to entertain? These festive and playful stem-less glasses are perfect for holiday entertaining. Add a little sparkle to your holiday table setting!MetallicDotsStemlessGrpFHF17
  3. “Hygge” Chunky Throw Blanket Threshold (Target, $79.99) Get it while it available! Currently only available in lavender. This chunky blanket is perfect for a cozy Saturday night at home or watching movies with the kids!'Hygge' Chunky Throw Blanket - Threshold™ - image 1 of 1
  4. Cuisinart Belgian Waffle Maker Stainless-Steal (Target, $45.99) Do you know someone who love to “brunch”. Help them start their own holiday traditions with this perfect and simple stainless steal waffle maker!Cuisinart® Belgian Waffle Maker - Stainless Steel Waf-F10 - image 1 of 3
  5. Old Navy Holiday PJ Sets (Old Navy, $12.00-36.00) Fun for the whole family! Start Christmas off with a warm and comfy morning outfit! Price will vary pending size (child-adult).

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Thanksgiving Leftovers…Turkey Tetrazzini!

Happy Sunday everyone! Is anyone else in full holiday mode? After a busy November and hosting our first Thanksgiving, I am ready for the Christmas season to begin (let’s be honest…I’ve been ready since about the November 1st!). Our home is decorated, we are slowing putting gifts under the tree, and a Christmas holiday station has been playing in my care for about 3 weeks!

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Despite my anxious desire to dive into Christmas, we were stuck with a few extra days of Thanksgiving looming over our tummies. Does anyone else find leftovers from Thanksgiving completely overwhelming?! Jeff and I are not huge leftover people. We typically keep leftovers for a day or two, then they slowly find their way to the back of the fridge or into the garbage can. I’ve been trying to be better about re-purposing leftovers, and Thanksgiving was no exception this year! After hearing my mom talk about turkey tetrazzini, a dish that utilizes leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, I thought what a great idea… I need to give this a try!

Turkey Tetrazzini typically uses a base of either cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, or a homemade white cream sauce. Cheese is another prominent ingredient as well as a few vegetables (need a little fiber in there, right!) and of course lots and lots of turkey. My recipe takes a little lighter spin on this classic dish. It is easy to make and definitely warm, comforting, and the perfect way to utilize some of your extra holiday ingredients. This will definitely become a new tradition in our home for after-Thanksgiving leftover meals, and I hope it will for you too!

A Little Lighter Turkey Tetrazzini

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 oz whole wheat spaghetti pasta
  • 2 heaping cups organic baby portabella mushrooms, washed and roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup white onion, diced
  • ¼ cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • ¾ cup 1% milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 cups turkey, shredded
  • 1/3 c frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese + a little extra for the top
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese + a little extra for the top
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (optional) with 1 tsp butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta as directed on back of box. I suggest undercooking slightly, as this will also gain some cooking time in the oven.

In a large sauté pan, sauté diced onion and mushrooms in olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to help draw moisture out of mushrooms. Sauté 4-5 minutes or until onions become slightly translucent.

Add cream of mushroom soup, chicken stock, parsley, garlic powder, red pepper, salt, and pepper to pan. Stir for a few minutes until soup starts to thin out and bubble. Stir in milk and bring to a low simmer.

Add frozen peas and shredded turkey. Cook for ~5 minutes until peas become soft and tender. Mix in cheese and stir until cheese is fully melted.

Once pasta is cooked to your liking, drain and add to your cream sauce with a 1-2 Tbsp of pasta water to help thin the sauce. Lightly toss pasta into the sauce then transfer to a medium sized baking dish. Top with extra cheese and bread crumbs (optional). You may season the breadcrumbs to your liking with herbs, spices, or just plain salt and pepper. Place small droplets of butter on bread crumbs and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until bubbling. Once bubbling, let sit under the broiler for another 5-8 minutes until the top begins to golden and become crisp. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and enjoy!

 


Weekend Wrap Up

Happy Sunday friends! I am currently sitting on the couch, Jeff’s watching football, and I am sipping a hot cup of tea totally ready to unwind from a busy weekend. This weekend was definitely filled with fun, good friends, and good food. I am EXHAUSTED!

I thought it would be fun to share some fun moments from my weekend as well as one of my favorite game day recipes. I will pre-warn you, a lot of our weekend was filled with football!

Let’s first start with Friday. Friday night, Jeff and I went to a restaurant we’ve been to before but opened up a new location that is closer to our home. Barrio Queen, an eclectic Mexican restaurant with a modern twist, just opened a new location in North Phoenix at Desert Ridge Marketplace. This location has an adorable patio, great food, and a variety of margaritas or tequila beverages with fun and funky twists. I had “The Queen,” which is spinach enchiladas with shallot, garlic, and a variety of cheeses with a side of black beans and sautéed veggies. If you are in the area and enjoy modern Mexican food, I would definitely check out this quirky and fun restaurant!

Saturday started with a quick trip to the gym, then was filled with football, football, and more football. The Buckeyes had a sweeping win, and our tummies were filled with my homemade pizza rolls. Whether you like a little protein in your pizza rolls, or prefer veggies with a little cheese, my pizza rolls are the perfect game day food. They are easy to eat and re-heat well! The best part about these rolls? They are so simple and versatile, you barely need a recipe. I take basic pizza dough, cut it into small, tennis ball size pieces, then flatten them out and fill them with a variety of fillings. This weekend, I made turkey pepperoni and broccoli cheese rolls.

For the pepperoni rolls, I used:

  • turkey pepperoni
  • mozzarella cheese
  • basic marinara sauce (or sauce of choice)
  • sautéed sweet onion
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • olive oil (to top the roll before baking)

And for the broccoli, cheese:

  • frozen broccoli, warmed and pressed so excess liquid is removed
  • mozzarella cheese
  • basic marinara sauce
  • sautéed sweet onion
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • olive oil (to top the roll before baking) + a little extra cheese

Once the rolls were filled, I brushed them with a little olive oil before putting them in the oven to bake at 450 degrees for ~10-13 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown. I always provide a little extra marinara warmed for dipping!

 

After our game was finished, we headed out to meet friends in Scottsdale and go to the ASU vs Michigan State football game at Sun Devil Stadium. Let me tell you something friends, if you are ever planning to go to an outdoor football game in Arizona, I highly recommend you wait until it is under 90 degree in the evening. It was so hot!! The Sun Devils came away with the win and overall we had a super fun night with people we love!

Today, well… lets just say it didn’t start that great with a flat tire and me missing my morning fitness class, but the day definitely got better as it went on! I love productive Sundays, and despite being tired from a late Saturday night, I definitely got a ton done today! Between cleaning, grocery shopping (twice… don’t you hate when you forget things?!), meal prepping, and finding time for a quick and fast-paced workout my day was definitely packed with more than I expected!

While our weekend was busy, it was definitely a great one!! I’m looking ahead to the work week and hoping to carry some of that productivity through! Have a great weekend everyone, and enjoy your last little bit of Sunday!


Pumpkin Peanut Butter “Buckeye” Balls

Is it really September already?? I’m not sure how every is feeling, but our August flew by. Jeff and I took a much needed relaxing vacation through California (more about that to come later!) and celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it has been 3 years already! Last year was filled with so many exciting changes; I cannot wait to see what this year brings!

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I’m not sure about you, but in our household the start of football season is a big deal. Jeff and I are proud alumni of the Ohio State University (how many of you just cringed…), and the first game is always exciting and much anticipated as September rounds the corner. Our Saturday was very simple this weekend. We watched a lot of football and enjoyed a variety of snacks, dips, and ice cold beer.

If you know anything about Ohio, or Ohio State football for that matter, buckeyes are a tradition that most Ohioans look forward too. Buckeyes (the food, not the nut or football team) were present at our wedding, and I look forward to my grandmother making them each year for Christmas. While the original buckeye recipe isn’t exactly the healthiest, it definitely reminds me of home and is something that will always stay tucked away in my recipe box. These buckeyes are a little different, a little healthier, and have the perfect fall twist that helped me kick off football season!

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While I know not all football lovers cheer for my Ohio State Buckeyes, I am happy to share my Pumpkin Peanut Butter “Buckeye” Balls with you in hopes that they make your game day spread. These are quick, simple, and easy to make and can also serve as an easy snack for busy days or after school snacks for your kids. I hope you give them a try! Happy Sunday y’all!

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Buckeye Balls

  • Servings: 12-15
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, unsweetened smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup organic honey
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • 3/4-1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

It a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and honey. Stir with a fork or whisk until all peanut butter is smooth and well incorporated into the other ingredients.

Fold in oats, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until the oats are covered evenly, then sprinkle in the chia seeds. Mix lightly until the chia seeds are well incorporated. Try not to over mix. Chis seeds will start to form a “gel” that helps bond and hold the balls together, but this process can happen too quickly if over stirred and they will become gummy.

Once all ingredients are well incorporated, form small balls (about the size of an extra large gum ball) with your hands. Place on a large dish or cookie sheet and pop into the refrigerator. Re-roll after about 15 minutes, then place back into the refrigerator. Let harden for about 15-20 more minutes.

Once your buckeyes have become firmer, melt 3/4-1 cup of dark chocolate chips in the microwave or double broiler. If microwaving, stop and stir the chips every 20-30 seconds until fully melted to help prevent them from burning.

Dip buckeye balls into the melted chocolate about 1/2 way. Place back on dish or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and put back in the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes before serving. Keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week!


Healthy hair, skin, and nails — My tips and tricks!

Well…. it has been a hot minute since I decided to jump on here. What can I say guys? Sometimes my creative juices just aren’t flowing. When blogging becomes a hassle or isn’t enjoyable is when I know I need to take some time off… so that’s what I did!

Since I haven’t posted in a while I thought I would dive into a hot topic that effects me personally. When it comes to having healthy hair, skin, and nails I have historically struggled in all three areas. I know there are bigger issues in the world for many people, but when you are a young girl in college having pieces of hair fall out continuously when showering can not only be stressful, but something that I began to dread on a daily basis. Not only was my hair thin and frail, I also had constantly wear nail polish to hide the brittle pieces of nail that would flake off on a daily basis. You know those people that bride themselves on perfectly manicured nails and long flowing locks of air… I definitely was NOT one of those people.

To top off the cosmetic pitfalls that I experienced as a young adult, I also suffered from terrible acne throughout my teen years. Talk about a way to decreased a ones self esteem. Acne will definitely do that, and I definitely had my trying moments where the only solution I could think on was caking on make-up to try to hide the little bumps that made me dread leaving my bedroom. I tried everything in the book from scrubs to medicated facial washes and had little to no success. Little did I know at the time that likely a lot of my skin issues were exacerbated by my typical crappy teenage diet of sugary frappuccinos and weekly blizzards from Dairy Queen.

I have definitely come a long way, especially over the past 3 years since moving to Arizona. Moving to a desert climate with dry air and excessive heat gave me a long list of new and different challenges to keep my hair, skin, and nails looking and feeling healthy. A lot of my issues with hair and nails throughout college were also a result of poor dietary choices (or what I thought were good dietary choice), i.e. minimal protein in my diet (does powdered PB count as protein? HA!), minimal healthy fats, and likely many nutrient deficiencies that I so cluelessly ignored or didn’t even think to check when I was vegetarian (and not a good one at that). While I was consuming nutrient dense foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains), I was definitely lacking variety, scared of too much fat, and did not work hard enough to assure my body was getting good sources of protein on a daily basis.

With the changes I have made with my diet and general cosmetic care over the past 3 years, I have definitely seen great improvement in all of these areas of my body. My hair, while still taking a lot of work to feel “thick” and full, grows much faster and looks and feels healthier. My nails grow faster than I can keep up with, and while I still get an annoying blemish every now and then, my overall complexion has improved more that I could have hoped. I am going to share with you 5 of my personal tips for maintaining good hair, skin, and nails. While some of them may seem obvious, and some have nothing to do with nutrition at all, I understand the desperate feeling that many women go through when one of these areas of their body are making them feel self conscious. My tips are super easy and truly have helped me gain more confidence in these areas, and while they may not work for everyone, they may just be the starting point you need for your own beauty upkeep!

1. Hydrate — with WATER!

Remember when I said these were obvious? If there is one thing I can stress about living in a dry climate, it is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. My skin becomes a dry and itchy mess when I don’y hydrate well. Lotion can only do so much to hydrate when you live in 100 + degrees, and truly the only thing I have found to help with my completion in this new climate is water. Another great thing about drinking water is it replaces other sugary beverages that you may consume instead. Sugar is a huge trigger for my complexion. Around the holidays when sweets and specialty cocktails are at every holiday party or function, I often notice blemishes begin to pop up out of no where. If I take a few days to drink a lot of water and stay aways from all other beverages (besides coffee of course) and sugary snacks, my face typically clears up on its own!

2. Daily dose of fat — avocado, olive oil, egg, and/or nuts.

Vitamin E, which is found in a variety of cooking oils, fish, nuts, etc, is an essential nutrient that plays a role in skin health and has anti-aging effects against every day stressors on the skin (hard water, sun exposure, air pollutants, etc). As with any essential nutrient, I try to always obtain adequate amounts of nutrients through food first. Not only can these foods help keep skin feeling smooth and healthy, they also help my hair grow. I love to throw avocado in my smoothies to assure I am getting in ample amounts of fat in my diet that help keep my thin hair feeling fuller and stronger. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce breakage and encourage new growth from the hair follicle.

3. Learn to love dry shampoo!

For so many years I was adamant about washing my hair daily. I think it came with playing sports… I hated when my hair felt sweaty or greasy! It didn’t help that dark hair showed every little bit of oil that would come from the roots, and before I started using dry shampoo this would make me feel dirty no matter how much a cleaned my actual body. I started to “train” my hair about 3 years ago when I figured out that washing my hair multiple times per day in Arizona was a recipe for disaster. I slowly worked my way to every other day and then every 3 days when I wasn’t running or training for a race. The more I tried to stretch the time between hair washes, the less greasy my hair would become. I know it sounds crazy…. but I truly believe I trained my hair! When in doubt, top buns and hats became my best friends! I brush my hair every night before bed to try to rid any dirt or particles from the strands before getting into bed. Another quick hair tip — I stopped sleeping with my hair in pony tails! Pony tails or buns when sleeping can promote hair breakage, especially if you already have thin or frail hair. If it is REALLY hot, sometimes I will braid my hair to get it out of my face while I sleep!

4. I wear sunscreen…. every day.

Even days when I not really outside, I always put sun protectant on my face. I use BB cream from covergirl every morning which is a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen in it. I started doing this when I moved to Arizona and really try to be adamant about it even on days where I am home and don’t really put on make-up. The more sun-exposure my face gets, the more spotty and dry it becomes!

5. Collagen in my coffee!

I recently starting using collagen peptides after hearing lots of chatter about the benefits it has for hair, skin, and nails. Most of the research I have read with collagen is in regards to anti-aging of skin and increasing nail growth. In simplest terms, collagen is protein that binds tissue together within the body. “Peptides” are basically the building blocks of collagen, or short chain amino acids that bind together to form collagen strands. As someone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat and can’t eat seafood, I saw this product as an easy way to increase my protein intake!