2-0-1-3

30 Dec

New Year's Wedding, St. Clair Centre for the Arts in Windsor OntarioIt seems like yesterday I was stressing out about what dress to wear to ring in the New Year last year and now I am doing the same for 2013!  Looks like last years resolution to plan ahead didn’t quite see its way through the whole year.  Oh well!  Reflecting back on 2012 so much has happened, and I am excited about whats to come.  I moved to a new city, leaving behind many memories and good friends in Boston, but looking forward to the adventures ahead.  I am embarking on a new career path!  And I started this blog so I could share all this fun stuff with you!    This year has definitely been a year of change.

NYE3

When I started thinking about what I want my New Years resolution to be, I was inspired by this quote I came across on Smart, Pretty Awkward, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”  Coming off of a year with so much change, and uncertainty ahead.  The best resolution I can make is to live everyday knowing that no matter what happens, things happen for a reason.  In the end all those ups an downs make for one fun and crazy ride.  Leaving you with a great story to tell your grand children when you’re old and gray!

So here’s to 2013 being an amazing year! Cheers!!

NYE

-TB

Images 1, 2, 3

A Homemade Christmas

29 Dec
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Pickled yumminess :)

This year I decided to follow Lauren Conrad’s “Eat, Drink or Burn Rule” mostly sticking to the eat part.  I love giving gifts but I hate the generic gift cards (yea yea I know they are practical but they feel so impersonal to me).  So  since I am also trying to keep an eye on my budget I thought why not make homemade gifts!  Who doesn’t love a unique gift that was made with love just for them?!  You can even dress up a store bought gift, which I also did!  Instant cuteness!

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Semi-home made

Last month when I was still home in Connecticut, I had a short-lived part-time job at a laid back, casual restaurant called Bartaco.  They served the most delicious spicy pickled vegetables with their tacos so I decided to try making them at home.  They came out great and my family loved them so I thought they would be the perfect gift in a mason jar with a cute gift tag.

I started my own little pickling factory in my Mother’s kitchen and after making 7 jars of pickled vegetables I soon learned I should probably either a.) Wear goggles next time or b.) Open ALL windows.  My eyes would not stop watering from the vinegar and jalapeno fumes!  So I hope my family enjoyed all the blood, sweat and tears (literally) that went into those gifts.

Below is the recipe I used but I multiplied it by 8 (so I could have some extra for myself :)

Spicy Pickled Carrots

2lbs large carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into ¼ inch thick pieces

½ of a white onion, sliced into half moons

1 jalapeno, sliced into rings

5 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 ½ cups white vinegar

1 ½ cups water

10 bay leaves, whole

8 peppercorns, whole

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon sugar

First sterilize jars for canning.  This can be done by running them through a dishwasher.

Next , heat vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt and sugar in a pot.  Once it comes to a boil add the carrots.  Bring to a simmer for a few minutes.  Add onions and jalapeno slices and garlic.  Then add water.  Bring to a simmer again.  Allow to boil for a few minutes and remove from the heat.

Now here comes the fun part, canning.  If you don’t plan on giving these as a gift you can just put eveyrthing into a container and leave it in your refrigerator.  But if you plan to store in mason jars continue reading.  Fill your Mason jars (wide mouth jars are easier to fill) using tongs to distribute the carrots, onions and jalapenos evenly into the jars.  Top off the jars with the pickling liquid, making sure that the vegetables are completely covered in liquid.  Leave about an inch of space at the top of each jar.  Now screw on the lids of the jar nice and tight.  Put your jars in a bucket or large bowl lined with a blanket or dish cloth, covering the tops of the jars with a dish cloth.  This helps to retain heat and ensure that the jars will seal properly.  Allow jars to cool about 12-24 hours.

Once your jars are all cooled, make sure the jars have sealed properly by pushing down on the lid, if they don’t bounce back then they are good to go!  Add decorative tags or ribbon and your gifts are good to go!

Along with my pickled vegetables I dressed up bottles of Fig Balsamic Vinegar that I picked up in the Union Square holiday shops before heading back to CT.  This stuff is ah-mazing and comes from a great company called The Filling Station.  The best thing about their products is if you bring your empty bottle back to their store in Chelsea Market they’ll refill it for 10% off!  It’s like the gift that keeps on giving!   To dress up my bottles, I added some twine and a recipe for Asparagus, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Fig Balsamic.  YUM.

The possibilities for homemade gifts are endless, and they make great gifts anytime of the year!  So get creative!  I’d love to hear what gifts you guys have thought up :)

-TB

T is for…

14 Oct

I’m backkkk and making my triumphant return to the blog scene with my newest obssesion-

Lately I have found myself loving the personalized jewelry trend.  I know, I know you’re probably thinking what??  Wasn’t that only cool when you were like 5?  Well no!  There are some great new styles out there are super classic and chic.  Now I am not sure I would be able to pull off the whole name plate trend (but hey props to those who can).   I’m loving the initialed and monogramed jewelry which are a bit more subtle.

This obsession started when I found this little gold Nashelle initial necklace that I  begged my brother to get me for my birthday!   Well after 2 months of waiting it finally came and I have been wearing it with everything!  It’s the perfect length and great to layer on with other necklaces which is something I have been doing a lot of lately.

But of course now that I have the initial necklace, I’m thinking why stop there?  This is such a great accessory to any outfit and there are so many different styles to choose from.  Especially, when you can take it a step further with these monogrammed necklaces which are just so AHmazing!!!  These are made by West Avenue Jewelry  available on Max and Chloe (great site with tonssss of beautiful jewelry!) and they have many different variations.  Now if only I could decide which one I want to order next…

West Avenue Jewelry Classic Monogram

West Avenue Jewelry Monogram Disk Pendant

West Avenue Jewelry Monogram Disk Pendant

West Avenue Jewelry Oval Lace Monogram Necklace

West Avenue Jewelry Swirly Initial Necklace

-TB

Chocolate Coconut Water. Oh My.

14 May

Warning: Drinking this might cause addiction

Ok so yesterday after my workout I stopped by the grocery store to buy my fav post-workout drink- coconut water.  And right next to the original flavor was… CHOCOLATE COCONUT WATER.  Whatttt?  How have I never had this before?!  All I have to say is O-M-G.  This stuff is AH-MAZEBALLS.  For those of you who are not quite sold on coconut water yet give this a try.  It’s more than just a drink, it’s like a dessert!

It’s different from the usual coconut water because its made with coconut water, coconut cream, cocoa, vanilla, and carrageenan.  Which means it’s a bit higher in calories than the regular coconut water, so don’t go too crazy.  But it’s soooo good it’s hard to resist!  It tastes like cocoa puffs and for a girl who has a sweet spot for sugary cereals (pun intended) it’s game over.  You win Zico, I’m addicted.

So I was on a mission… add chocolate Zico to everything!  I started by putting some in my coffee along with my usual skim milk.  Which was delish!  Then as I was about to make breakfast I thought of it…. why not add it to my protein pancakes?  Which led to the creation of :::drum roll pleasee::: Strawberry Banana “Dessert for Breakfast” Protein Pancakes.  These are yummy high protein pancakes filled with a creamy, fruity yogurt filling.  Who wouldn’t want to start their day with that?!

Now the pancakes aren’t incredibly overpowered with chocolate flavor but they do have a slight hint of it which is just what I was looking for.  If you want them more chocolately you could use chocolate protein powder instead of vanilla.  These are perfect to make in advance and keep in the refrigerator then just roll up with the filling and go!  Hand-held sweet breakfast burritos- YUM.

Strawberry Banana “Dessert for Breakfast” Protein Pancakes

For the protein pancakes:

Makes 2 servings- 4 small pancakes or 2 large pancakes

2 egg whites (1/3 cup of liquid egg whites)

1 Scoop protein powder (I only had vanilla but if you have chocolate you can use that to make them extra chocolately)

1/2 cup oats

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 cup cottage cheese

1 T ground flaxseed

3 strawberries

1/2 cup Chocolate Zico Coconut water

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth (it’s okay if there are strawberry chunks in it!)

Pour batter into a greased pan over medium heat.  I used a smaller pan and made them one at a time because the batter spreads very easily.  Let the bubbles rise to the surface before flipping.  Allow the other side to brown.  Once cooked through set aside while making the rest.

For the Strawberry Banana Yogurt Filling

Makes enough for 2 servings

1/4 cup strawberries, chopped

1/2 banana, chopped

1 4oz container of strawberry Activia yogurt (can use any brand I just happened to have that in my fridge and I like how thick and creamy it is)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit while making pancakes.

Once pancakes are cooked- put a dollop of filling down the center of each pancake and roll it up like a burrito.  Place on a plate seam side down.  Add more strawberries and bananas on top if you like!

Enjoy!

-TB

Quinoa. In. A. Jar.

10 May

Ok first of all, everything looks cuter when it is either  a.) in a jar or b.) miniature

Now yes i’m sure quinoa would look cute in a tiny little bowl with a tiny little spoon.  But practical? Not so much.  In a jar?  Much better.

I have been bringing my usual morning oatmeal in a mason jar mostly because it’s easy to transport and makes heating it up a breeze.  Plus it eliminates having to heat up in plastic which is something everyone should try to avoid whenever they can!

My oatmeal was starting to get a little boring, so I decided to give quinoa a try.  I have been eating quinoa for years, but have always been a bit skeptical to experiment with it.  I mostly use it as substitute for rice or carbohydrates.  Which got me thinking, why not try it in place of my oatmeal!  I mean it’s pretty much the breakfast of champions…why do you ask? 

Well, quinoa is a super grain.  It’s high in protein, dietary fiber, magnesium and iron, plus it’s gluten-free!.  Which makes it a great choice for vegans, vegetarians, those on a gluten-free diet, or anyone!  Not only it is good for you, but it tastes good too!  For those of you who are unfamilar with quinoa- if couscous and barley had a lovechild it would be quinoa, alittle crunchy, alittle nutty, and a whole lotta yummy. 

To cook the quinoa I follow the recipe on the package, but it is similar to cooking brown rice.  I use a ratio of 1 cup of quinoa to 1 1/2 cups of water (I kind of like mine a bit undercooked so it won’t be too mushy once you reheat it).  I usually rinse it in water before cooking, then add to a large pot with water.  Bring it to a boil with a tight fitting lid, then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water is mostly evaporated (keep an eye on the pot so it doesn’t  boil over, you can crack the lid to let air escape to avoid a mess). Take it off the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.  I tend to make a big batch of this so that I can portion it into my jars and have it ready for my toppings! 

 The great thing about this breakfast is you can make it ahead of time.  I like to prep mine the night before because I am not a morning person.  Ready to grab and go makes sure I am out the door on time!  Then I just pop it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes when I get to work and voila- yummy, healthy breakfast!

After a little bit of experimenting I came up with a great base recipe that can be modified to your liking or for whatever mood you’re in that morning!  Of course I had to include my two latest diet obsessions, almond butter and chia seeds (another superfood, which will be a whole other post!)  Here’s what I came up with…

Rise and Shine Quinoa

Enough for 1 pint-sized Mason Jar or bowl

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 T ground flaxseed
1 t chia seeds
1/2 T vanilla protein powder (optional- I like it when I’m trying to up my protein intake)
1/2 T almond butter
1 T raisins
1/2 cup skim milk
Couples shakes of cinnamon (to your liking)
Pinch of brown sugar (optional)*

Combine all the ingredients in the jar, screw the lid on.  Shake it all together and refrigerate until ready to microwave!!

*I don’t usually add any additional sugar because the protein powder and raisins give it some sweetness but if you want it sweeter- go for it!

**Make it your own- there are so many ways you can modify this recipe to your liking!  Change up your toppings, add a mashed or sliced banana, blueberries, chopped apples, pears or nuts! Try peanut butter instead of almond butter, coconut milk or almond milk instead of skim milk, the combos are endless!

Try out your favorite combo and share them with me! 

Enjoy!

-TB

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

5 May

Woohoo fiesta fiesta!! Ole! Ole! (a little overboard, okay I’ll stop)

When it comes to random holidays that involve drinking and eating in excess I am ready celebrate.  And when the holiday gives me an excuse to drink margaritas and eat chips and dip, slap a sombrero on my head and andale!!

Now, I like my margaritas, real.  And by real I mean none of that mix stuff.  The best margaritas are simple- good tequila (none of that cheap stuff), fresh lime juice, a splash of triple sec, on the rocks with lotssss of salt.  And no straws please, how am I supposed to get to the salt if I have a straw in my drink!?

And what’s the best accompaniment to a margarita you might ask?…  Chips and guacamole!  Now when it comes to guacamole I like mine with texture (some chunks of avocado- not all mashed up) and lots of cilantro!  I know, I know some people think cilantro tastes like soap, but that’s not your fault it’s genetic!  I happen to love it so pile it on!

So here’s my recipe for guacamole if anyone wants to throw a little cinco de mayo fiesta of their own, or if you just want to eat a whole bowl of guacamole with chips (I’ve done it before- and don’t act like you haven’t!)

Guacamole

2 ripe avocados (save the seed)**
1-2 tomatoes, chopped (drain the liquid)**
1/4 of a medium onion, chopped
1 lime, juiced
Cilantro, chopped (LOTS and LOTs of it…. unless of course you don’t like it)
Salt and pepper

Mash one avocado in a bowl and set aside.  Add the chopped tomatoes, onion, lime juice and cilantro (to you’re liking).  Mix this all together.  Now chop up the second avocado and add this to the mixture.  Stir all together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips or veggies (I like the scoops tortilla chips for maximum scoopability)  Yumm!

**Helpful tips:

-When chopping the tomatoes, squeeze the tomatoes over a bowl or sink to remove some of the seeds and liquid, that way it won’t water down your guac.

-If you are not serving the guac right away, save the seeds from the avocados and push them into the guacamole.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.  The seeds will help keep it from browning!

To wash down that guacamole I pulled together some fun variations on margaritas for those moods when you want something a little different!

St. Rita via St. Germain Cocktails

2 parts Tequila Blanco
1 part St. Germain
3/4 part Freshly squeezed lime juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass (salted rim optional). Garnish with lime wedge.

**VARIATION: Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Donate lime wedge to needy beer bottle of Hispanic descent.

I have been slightly obsessed with St. Germain lately so this is the perfecttt combo!

Pink Grapefruit Margarita via Barefoot Contessa

1 lime cut in wedges, optional
Kosher salt, optional
1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
1 cup orange liqueur, such a Triple Sec
2 cups ice
1 cup white tequila

If you like a salt rim on the glasses, rub the lime around the edge of the glass and then dip the rim of each glass lightly in a plate of kosher salt. Set aside to dry.

Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, orange liqueur, and ice in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a large pitcher and stir in the tequila. If you’re not serving the margaritas in salted glasses, stir ¼ teaspoon of salt into the pitcher of margaritas. Believe me, it will make a difference!

Serve ice cold.

Comeeee onnn… who doesn’t love a pink drink?

Mango Margarita via Food and Wine

1 tablespoon chile powder, such as Tajin (see Note)
1 lime wedge
1 small mango—peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped (3 ounces)
3 ounces grapefruit soda
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces orange liqueur
1 1/2 ounces agave nectar
3 ounces silver tequila
1 cup ice
Spread the chile powder in a dish. Moisten the rim of a margarita glass with the lime wedge; dip the rim in the chile powder to coat. In a blender, puree the mango. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into the glass and serve.

Want a little extra kick?

Cheers!

-TB

Images via 1, 2, 3, 4

Sneaker Freak

26 Apr

I’ll admit it.  I am a sneaker freak.

There’s nothing I love more than seeing someone rock a great pair of sneakers.  And that goes for guys and girls.  Werrkk itt.

Note to all the guys out there: shoes matter.

Here’s a few that I would love to get my hands…. err I mean feet on.

Gotta love the AirMax + 2012... in any color.

NIKE LUNARGLIDE+ 3 LONDON (CITY PACK)

Part of Nike's collection honoring some of the great World Marathons... here's London. Olympics 2012!

New Balance 890 'Boston Marathon'

New Balance's "Boston Marathon" sneakers

Nike Dunk Low LR

Nicki Minaj may like him better with a fitted cap on... but i'll take him with the Nike Low Dunk LRs on

I'll take an 8 1/2. k. thanks.

Alright kids… go buy yourselves some kicks.

-TB

Images Via 1, 2, 3, 4. 5

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