Friday, January 30, 2015

Valentine's Day Dinner Ideas

Every year on Valentine's Day, my husband and I get fancy with cooking up a delicious meal at home. This year is the same! I am glad it is on a weekend this year, so I can take my time cooking and sipping wine in my loungewear and new apron (thanks, Miranda!). I have been perusing blogs and links for some recipe ideas. We like to do steaks with a great side or two, with an awesome appetizer to start. Each year it seems the meal gets better and better!!!!

Plus, when you go out to eat on VD there sometimes is a fixed menu. Fix your own menu!

One of my favorite pics!

Some links I am loving:

Beautiful Potatoes - How impressive are these? Probably so easy!


Some appetizer ideas I have stumbled across:


These are just a few I have been drooling over. Now to choose which ones to make. :-P

What are your Valentine's Day plans?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Chocolate Chip "Granola" Bars

I'll get straight to the recipe, these are delicious!

They are gluten free when made with "gluten free" oats/oat bran.

You will need:

3 large bananas mashed (preferably ripe bananas)
1.5 c Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oat Bran
1/2 c old fashioned rolled oats (gluten free)- i use Trader Joe's
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon (whichever flavor you like - I prefer cinnamon)
1/2 c pepitas
1/2 c sunflower seeds
3/4 c chocolate chips (to be vegan use "Enjoy Life" chips)

Mash bananas together in large mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
Mix in rest of ingredients until combined.
Spray 9x13 pan with pan spray and press mix into pan evenly.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Cool on counter or in fridge and once cooled cut into "granola bar" slices.

These are really awesome and easy to make. And pretty healthy to boot!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Easiest Soup You Will Ever Make

My mom's friend shared the following recipe with her (Thanks, Rose!), and my mom graciously shared it with me. It is the easiest soup to make.....ever. This will feed several people. Perfect for a cold day, quick dinner, unexpected guests, or just cause you're feeling it!

The ingredients....yes, just these!


If I had to name this soup - it would be Black Bean, Roasted Corn & Rice Soup.  But that's a little long, so you can just say "That Trader Joe's Bean Soup"

The ingredients are:

1 bag frozen roasted corn from Trader Joe's
1 bag chimichurri rice from Trader Joe's
1 box Latin Style Black Bean soup from Trader Joe's
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed.

Pour all into a pot, cover, heat through until everything is hot - about 30 minutes stirring occasionally on med-low.

I served it with a little shredded cheddar and oyster crackers.

I think next time I will add cubed cooked chicken for a non-vegetarian option.

Seriously- that's it! Perfect substitution for chili if you are a vegetarian.  After Joey had some he said to "add it to the list", so you know it's good.

Next time you are at Trader Joe's, pick these items up and keep them handy for a last minute dinner idea - it will seem like you worked all day on it. So quick and easy!

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Once again, it’s been a while. Oops. Life gets in the way sometimes, and well, new TV shows, soft pajamas, books, books, and more books consume my life. Barnes and Noble charges mysteriously show up on the bank statement more often than Kroger does. This may be a problem….or is it just that I am expanding my mind instead of my waistline?

It’s a New Year! Time to get back on track, okay? 2015 is going to be the ish.

I want to be THIS content all the time!

Here are a few of my personal goals for 2015

Expanding my go-to recipes.
You have seen my all-time fave recipes here on the blog over the past year or so, which I always turn to when thinking “What’s for dinner?”.  Well as you can see, there aren’t that many! It’s time to branch out, try new recipes, and possibly even bake! And a rather crazy idea – experiment with flavors (say what?). Plus, I posted 1 or 2 times after getting a brand new kitchen. I guess I am really enjoying it too much to stop and take some pics, but really, do you want to see 4 posts about shrimp and grits? Because we make that ALL THE TIME.
Anything that you would like to see me attempt and post on the site? I am always up for a challenge!

Live a little.
I’m going to be honest here. I am a straight up textbook “homebody”. I would rather get in pajamas immediately upon arrival home after work than do anything else. I had sort of an epiphany this past late fall/early winter where I was like, ‘what am I doing sitting here, waiting for something fun to happen?’. I basically told my husband that we are getting out, we are going to do what we want, and we are going to live a little! He has no problem with that as he has many hobbies and is the opposite of homebody.  Maybe it was just me that needed to go out and do more. Admittedly, I have always been very jealous of Joey's long list of hobbies. So instead of continuing to wallow about being at home so much, I get out much more than before. So far, I have been pleasantly surprised that I have a busier schedule. I was afraid it was going to make me incredibly exhausted, but it is really refreshing to have things to do all the time, and actually look forward to doing them.
You know that feeling where you are like, ‘man, I really don’t want to go…’ and then you go, and it’s AWESOME? I had that feeling a lot last year, and I am finally embracing the anticipation of getting out more. If you are feeling in a funk and don't really want to get out and do much, my suggestion is to get out and do something. You won't regret it- I can say this from personal experience. You may even find that you really enjoy your new hobby! (As I write this, the temp this morning was 0 (ZERO) so, today is not the day I get out more).

Be grateful for what I already have.
I am the type of person who sometimes thinks “that would be really nice to have” or “it would be such a relief to have more money” but this year especially, I need to be grateful of what I currently have. I am fortunate that I work hard and earn enough to afford some luxuries. But to me, some of my favorite luxuries might be total crap to another person. To each his/her own!
There is so much time wasted with “blog envy”, “pinterest envy”, or really, “Facebook envy”, that we forget that this life we are living is perfectly imperfect. Plus, people usually don’t post the sucky things on Instagram, Facebook, or blogs. No one wants to read about the bad stuff most of the time.  I usually choose to share the joyful things in my life rather than complain or share personal struggles. The silver lining of going through tough stuff is I've learned what a great team my husband and I make. #teamgumer #hellurrr

Spoiler alert: The difficult thing J and I go through is deciding which restaurant to go to on date night ;-) KIDDING, of course....or am I? 

Learn how to blog.
In a nut-shell - I don't know the first thing about editing a blog. Let me get right on that. Also, any advice? Who wants to design my page? I'll pay you in hugs or a very small amount of money. You can pick.

For REAL get organized.
#cliche' #organizemylifeplease
I consider myself a pretty organized person in general. But, I do have a ‘Monica Closet’ or two that need some attention. Plus, I like shoving things in drawers #keepingitreal.  I really have been better about things having a place, but do want to apply a little organization to several areas in my life. I was looking at David Lebovitz’s gift giving guide for this past holiday season, and he suggested a book by Marie Kondo titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art ofDecluttering and Organizing”.  I am a sucker for best-sellers, who isn’t? So I amazon primed it straight to my doorstep. So far the message I have been gleaning from it is to only own things that “Spark Joy”. So purging things is on the top of my to-do list. I really like that this philosophy goes with my “live a little” goal. When I “live a little” and can come home to a decluttered house filled with things that “spark joy”, well, guys, I will be on top of the world.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015! There is a lot to look forward to this year. So go out, live a little, and conquer any goals or resolutions you may have for the coming year!