Friday Favorites

How is it that there are only two weekends left of summer (summer ends when football season begins in my world)?  I’m not sure if it’s because I felt like I was in “hiding” for the months of June and July or if it’s because I’m just getting older.  Regardless, this summer went by so fast.  This weekend we’re soaking up some of the last moments of summer and hoping to check a few items off of my 2017 Summer Bucket List.  I’m not going to stress if I’m not able to check off everything but I do want to squeeze every drop that’s left in our summer.

Whenever your summer comes to an end in your mind, I hope that you have the best weekend with friends and family doing all the things you love.

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Favorite Chill Out:  Potato Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches.  There’s just something about sweet and salty desserts that make me go nuts.  In a good way.

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Favorite Meal Plan:  Thai Skillet Pork Chops with Coconut Rice.  Big Guy would LOVE this dinner.  He’s obsessed with thick pork chops and adored the coconut rice that I made last weekend.

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Favorite Closet Update:  Ruffled Bolero Kimono.  I feel like I’m in a weird holding period with clothes.  I’m not quite sure when I’m going to “pop” nor do I know how our “fall” weather is going to pan out this year.  This kimono would be perfect for a growing belly but could also be worn next fall.

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Favorite Tailgate:  BBQ Pulled Pork Rolls.  I’m so not ready for football season – but ready or not, it’s coming.  These savory rolls would be amazing for pre-game shenanigans.

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Favorite Condiment:  How to Make Tzatziki.  If you haven’t mastered this Greek sauce, now is your chance.  I whipped up a batch to take to a friend this week and I wanted to sit there with some cut up veggies and pita and just eat it all.

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Favorite Look:  Dreamy Blue Bath.  While we are hoping to start a few home renovations in the next few weeks, we are not redoing our guest bath.  However, I’m obsessed with this blue tile and the Greek key mirror.

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Favorite Brunch:  Coffee Cake Cinnamon Rolls.  Yes.  Cinnamon Rolls topped with all the deliciousness of a coffee cake crumble.  Oh, to wake up to the smell of these baking.

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Favorite Craving:  3-Cheese Everything Spice Grilled Cheese.  I haven’t had a lot of weird pregnancy “happenings.”  In fact, I feel pretty normal.  But grilled cheese has sounded amazing since the first couple of months.  And if you haven’t tried the Everything Spice from Trader Joe’s – stop what you’re doing now and go get it.

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Favorite Holding Onto Summer:  Boozy Strawberry Peach Slushies.  Strawberries and peaches scream summer.  So do frozen drinks.  Especially when you’re drinking them on a beach.

Cheers!

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Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad

Tahini is an ingredient in my pantry that goes unused for weeks yet it’s such a fantastic addition to your arsenal of ingredients.  In this recipe, tahini not only adds flavor to the chicken but it keeps the chicken incredibly tender and allows the chicken to have the most beautiful grill marks from the grill.  If you’re unsure of what tahini is, the best way to describe it is the same way peanuts become peanut butter – sesame seeds become tahini.

The chicken can be marinated for up to overnight (or as little as 8 hours) so I prepped this the evening before we would be eating this particular dinner.  The marinade is a mixture of tahini (that is well stirred), parsley, olive oil, water, rosemary, lemon zest, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, garlic and grated shallot.  Before adding the chicken, reserve some of the marinade that will be used as a sauce when serving.

While Big Guy grilled the chicken, I prepped the rice and cucumber-tomato salad.  The salad is insanely easy to throw together.  Simple mix together chopped cucumber, chopped tomato and chopped parsley with lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

Serve the grilled chicken over a bed of rice and a size of salad with a little more of the tahini marinade on top.

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The chicken cuts like butter and does not have an overwhelming sesame flavor.  So many fresh flavors on the plate while be filling and healthy.  This is a must-try recipe if you’re in a chicken-rut.

OH, and if you don’t have tahini in your pantry – I recommend going to Trader Joe’s if possible – incredibly affordable and excellent flavor.

Honey Garlic Butter Shrimp with Coconut Rice, Fried Plantains and Avocado

There are no words for how delicious this dinner was on Sunday evening.  It’s insane how much flavor is packed in one bowl of food.

At the beach I picked up a pound of our favorite shrimp that we then marinated in a mixture of olive oil, honey, garlic, ginger, jalapeño (I used one), cumin and cilantro.  We let our marinate for a few hours but you can let it rest from 30 minutes to 24 hours.  The coconut rice is a must!  Jasmine rice is cooked in coconut milk instead of water for the creamiest and richest rice that has the slightest hint of coconut flavor.  Don’t skip this step!  I added a pinch of salt once the rice was cooked.  The plantains are also something you cannot skip.  I repeat, do NOT skip the plantains.  Plantains can be found in most grocery stores – in fact, I picked mine up at Walmart.  Yellow plantains are best for frying – a little sweeter than the green/less rice plantains.  The plantains are fried for 1 to 2 minutes on each side and then sprinkle with flaky salt as soon as they come out of the hot oil.

The shrimp take such a short amount of time to cook – so do this last!  Melt a small amount of butter in a pan and then sauté the shrimp until almost cooked through.  Add in the butter and allow it to melt and simmer with the shrimp until browned – but NOT burnt.  Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk.

Serve the shrimp by spooning the rice into the bowl and then top with the tantalizing shrimp, crispy plantains and creamy avocado.  Give the whole bowl a pop of freshness with a sprinkle of fresh basil.

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I promise you’ll love this dish.  So many flavors.  So many textures.

And despite saying I have no words for this dish, I just wrote 315.

Bacon & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers + Avocado Spinach Artichoke Dip

I’m back from a wonderful couple of days at the beach for our third annual Flamingo Fling.

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Flamingo Fling is basically an excuse for all the Bell ladies to get together without the men and enjoy a weekend doing whatever, whenever we want.  And of course we use ALL the things “flamingo.”

After enjoying a little sunshine on Friday afternoon, it was time for a fun flamingo drink!  My Momma made a delicious blackberry lemonade spritzer that was sweet and bubbly.  Maggie spiked hers with a little Prosecco – last year she was the pregnant one.

Typically on our first night, we dine “appy hour” style.  Meaning lots of small bites and appetizers.

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We had quite the assortment.  I made bacon and goat cheese stuffed mini peppers which exceeded my expectations.  Sweet mini peppers were stuffed with a  mixture of goat cheese, cream cheese, chives, garlic and crispy bacon before being baked and then dipped in a balsamic sweet chili sauce.  A super easy recipe that I’ll definitely be making again.  Momma made avocado spinach artichoke dip that was addicting when paired with crunchy pita chips.  The food processor does all the work with this recipe – whirling together avocado, lemon juice, garlic, spinach, artichokes, a little EVOO and red pepper flakes.  Go a little heavy on the salt – it needs it, especially when paired with raw veggies. Maggie picked up some fantastic chicken salad from a local restaurant and she also provided a variety  of dark chocolate for dessert.

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The rest of the weekend was full of relaxing, learning about Young Living essential oils, sun, a little shopping and more eating!

My heart is always full after Flamingo Fling and I’m already looking forward to our weekend together next year.

Friday Favorites

The weekend is here!  I’m heading to the beach a little later this morning for our third annual Flamingo Fling.  That means I’m leaving Big Guy behind and I’m meeting my Momma and sister at the beach for some girl time (aka flamingling).  I’m excited to see them both and imagine there will be lots of “baby” talk while we’re together.  After taking two weeks off from Friday Favorites, I’m back!

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Favorite Nostalgia:  Salted Peanut Butter Ice Cream Bars.  These sweet treats remind me so much of the ice cream Snickers bars I used to love growing up.

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Favorite Date Night:  Creamed Corn Pasta with Fried Herbs.  We have so much corn and I would love nothing more than to pair it with some homemade pasta.

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Favorite Splash:  Cha Cha Tassel Drop Earrings.  How pretty are these?  I adore the colors.

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Favorite Meal Prep:  Crunchy Thai Peanut & Quinoa Salad.  Say hello to my lunch for next week.  I think this would be perfect to prep on Sunday and then eat all week long.

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Favorite Addicting:  Grain Free Salted Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies.  Ummm, I need these.  Homemade pecan butter gets transformed into bars that look ridiculously delicious.

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Favorite Daydream:  44 Islands That Should Be at the Top of Your Travel Bucket List.  I could scroll through these pictures all.day.long.  #dreamingofournextvacation

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Favorite Side Dish:  Mexican Street Corn Salad.  This would be perfect for a summer potluck!

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Favorite Sunday:  Southwestern Taco Pizza.  I think I know what I’m making for our next Pizza Sunday.

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Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Caprese Salad Platter.  Part of me wants to dig in because it looks so delicious and the other part of me wants to just stare at it because it’s so gorgeous.  (p.s. burrata for life)

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Favorite Sip:  Pink Flamingo Punch Cocktail.  I couldn’t resist.  To make this a mocktail, I’d simply leave out the rum.

Cheers!

My New Favorite Green Smoothie

There’s a new smoothie in town and shockingly it doesn’t include frozen bananas or nut butter.  I go through phases with smoothies – I’ll drink them for weeks and then I’ll be totally over them and can’t even think about blending one up for months.  Currently I’m experiencing the phase where I’m drinking several smoothies a week.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach a lunchtime “sweat” class.  I usually leave the class starving (despite my mid-morning snack) and find myself craving something cold and that is easy to assemble.  Enter in this creation.

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In the mix:

12 ounces liquid (I used a cup of almond milk plus 1/2 cup water)
4 frozen Just Coconut Chunks (new find at Trader Joes)
1/2 a small avocado (adds so much creaminess)
1 scoop protein powder (I use a plant-based, gluten-free, dairy free and no stevia powder)
1/4-1/3 cup frozen riced cauliflower (another find at Trader Joes)
Large handful spinach 

Blend until creamy.

I pinky-promise that you can not taste the cauliflower or the spinach in this smoothie.  It’s ridiculously thick (aka sometimes you need a spoon) and it tastes delicious.  I love the subtle hint of coconut.

It’s refreshing, it’s healthy and it’s super filling.

 

 

Balsamic Roasted Veggie and White Bean Pasta

Yesterday I shared an indulgent dinner and today I share a recipe that is LOADED with veggies.  In fact, you’ll feel good eating this dinner and serving it to your family.

Dinner starts by roasted all of the vegetables including broccoli, sliced mushrooms, red bell pepper, zucchini, squash, cherry tomatoes and red onion.

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The veggies were tossed with a mixture of balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, dried herbs, garlic, salt and EVOO before roasting at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  While the veggies were cooking I went ahead and brought my pasta water to a boil so that it was ready when I needed it.  No one has time to watch a pot of water come to a boil.  I also prepped a batch of skinny pesto.

When the veggies were almost done cooking, I tossed the pasta into the boiling water and let it cook until al dente (about 9 minutes for gluten-free pasta).

As soon as the pasta was perfectly cooked, it was drained and then mixed with the white beans, pesto and parmesan before adding all the yummy veggies.

To serve, I sprinkled a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes over my portion.

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Another successful dinner loaded with veggies from the garden.

Not only is this a great dinner option but it’s perfect to make ahead and have for quick lunches throughout the week.  The portion size is large and the recipe makes a TON of food.

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