Spring Break 2015

This time, two weeks ago, my friends and I were driving to Miami filled with excitement, ready to cruise the sea, drink fruity drinks, and just unwind. We had such a great time, and I honestly don’t think I have ever been so damn sad to come back to reality. I don’t know if it was because we had an entire week away from the office,  or because we all got along so well, or if it was due to day drinking, buffet eating, and naps…? Regardless, it was a blast, and I am already itching to plan the next cruise!

I know some people don’t care for cruises, and I totally get it. I personally like cruising, because I literally do not have to do anything, and because we live in Florida, we have several ports that are only a few hours away and allow us to start our vacation, ASAP.

This was the first time we cruised with Royal Caribbean (RC). Our previous crusies were with Carnival. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t sail with Carnival again. They are inexpensive for a reason, and in my opinion, you get what you pay for. That’s about the nicest way I can say that.

Our ship, The Majesty of the Seas, stopped in Nassau, Coco Cay. and Key West. Jason and I opted to stay on the ship the day we were docked in Coco Cay and took the best nap before reading poolside until our friends came back for dinner. Have I mentioned, I want to be back on vacation?! [Read more…]

Simple Quinoa Recipe – The Foodie Patootie


We’re back from vacay, but I’m so not ready to come back to blog-land jussst yet. And my fave foodie friend [also a real life friend!], Jennifer, offered to post a yummy recipe while I was still in vacation mode. Bless her. Make sure to visit her at The Foodie Patootie!

Foodies and Friends! Jennifer's bachelorette cruise - 2013

Foodies and Friends! Jennifer’s bachelorette cruise – 2013

As a food blogger (100% shameless plug to my blog here: The Foodie Patootie), it’s hard to guest post. I want to have continual content on my site so when that content goes elsewhere, I have a small panic alert. It’s the same reason I make my husband eat dinner at 3pm so I can make sure to capture the good, natural light for photos. It’s the same reason I save a container of the dish I made if I absolutely have to cook after sundown (so I can take pictures the next day, of course!). Every single recipe is precious because, let me tell you, it’s not fun to have a dish that didn’t work out, or photography that didn’t come out, and you realize that you’ve spent hours composing a recipe and food styling that, ultimately, you have nothing to show for it.

When Nichole asked if I wanted to guest post, there wasn’t a doubt that I would, but it took me a while to decide on a recipe to feature that I was okay with letting go of and having live on someone else’s site. Then, it was simple. My friend Brooke emailed me a quinoa recipe a couple of weeks ago, knowing I was trying to eat healthier since I spent 2014 cooking through the national food holidays (see for yourself) and I know that people come to Nichole’s site for Whole 30 and healthy (or at least healthier) recipes. Perfect!

quinoa

So let’s talk quinoa, mmkay? This is what I know about quinoa:

  1. It’s fun to say.
  2. It’s healthy.
  3. You’re fuller longer after eating it.
  4. It’s a grain.

Do you need to know anything else? Probably not. If you’re a quinoa lover, welcome to my world. If you aren’t, make this recipe and turn into a believer in approximately 35 minutes.

quinoa-recipe

This recipe is super simple, representing my cooking style ON MY BLOG (the caps means you should visit me). I like to let ingredients shine. And it’s amazing what a squeeze of lemon juice can do for you too, right? Oh, and cheese. Mmmm. This recipe makes about 4 servings, but don’t be surprised if you have your serving and then continue to eat right out of the pot like I did. Whoops. Or, actually, no whoops. I make no apologies for lovin’ up on some grains. Some dishes just aren’t meant to be shared. ;)

Simple Quinoa Recipe
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Half a yellow onion, chopped
  • Half a red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (even better if you buy organic)
  • 1 cup of fresh spinach, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup + 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese (shred it yourself!)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, add olive oil and let heat up. Sauté onion in olive oil for one minute. Add red bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté onion and red bell pepper together for about five minutes.
  2. Add quinoa. Toast for about two to three minutes, but be careful not to let burn.
  3. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for about fifteen minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
  5. Uncover and add spinach, lemon juice, and cheese; cook for an additional minute until cheese is melted and spinach has wilted.
  6. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  7. Serve topped with an additional tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired

 

Visit Jennifer: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Spinach Berry Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing


Happy Spring, my friends! I thoroughly enjoyed my own Spring Break {a recap to follow}, last week and am currently detoxing after consuming all the foods and drinks.

Spinach Berry Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

This salad is so very tasty; packed with sweet berries, fresh spinach, and a homemade poppy seed dressing with fresh lemon and raw honey, that is perfect this time of year!

Head over to The Flair Exchange now to snag the full recipe!

xo

 

Paleo Chicken Salad from Ryan @ Loved and Lovely


 
Today, we’re coming home! I can’t wait to share our cruise recap with you all. I have a few more wonderful guest bloggers to show off, first. I have never met Ryan in person, but I just know should we ever meet for real, we’d get along so well! I love her honesty, adorable photos of her baby girl, and watching her transform as she continues to drop weight! Ryan is so beautiful, inside and out, and I am so glad she agreed to guest post for me today.
 
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Hey y’all! I’m Ryan from loved and lovely, and I’m dropping in while Nichole is on vacation. I’ll admit, I’m sometimes tempted to check out when I see guest posts, but trust me, friends: this recipe is worth sticking around for.
 
But first, I suppose I should tell you who in the heck I am.I’m a Texas girl. Patent litigation attorney by day, wife and mommy by night. My little corner of the internet is devoted to a little bit of everything: my adventures raising the prettiest little wildflower you ever saw; beauty products and fashion; the love story I’m still writing with my high school sweetheart; and my struggle to make consistently healthy food choices.About six months after I had my daughter, I decided I was going to get rid of the 75 pounds (!!) I gained while I was pregnant. And then I went for it. Last July, I did my first Whole30 (inspired by Nikki!), and it has changed my life. I don’t always remain as faithful as I’d like to the Paleo lifestyle, but I’m taking it one day and one delicious meal at a time.
 
And that’s where this chicken salad recipe comes in. I’m a chicken salad fan from way back, you guys. I mean, aren’t we all, really? During my Whole30 last July, it occurred to me that, at its core, chicken salad is really full of healthy delicious things. Chicken, herbs, and fruit (if you’re so inclined to include fruit, and I will attempt to make the case that you should be). But store-bought mayo is generally loaded with all kinds of stuff that I could do without. Plus, store-bought mayo is strictly prohibited on the Whole30. (And it smells icky.)
 
But no one said I couldn’t make my own mayo.
 

If you’ve never made your own mayo, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. It’s so, so, so, so, SO much better than store-bought. Like, exponentially better.Alright, so let’s get to it. (And, for the record, I’m not at all a true food blogger, so have mercy on my pitiful pictures. It’s not easy making chicken salad look appetizing.)

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Paleo Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

1 lb. free range chicken breasts or tenders, cooked and shredded

3 whole green onions, sliced

1.5 to 2 cups grapes, halved

2 stalks celery (optional), chopped

1/4 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 T. fresh dill, chopped

2 T. dried cranberries (no sugar added, optional)

1 cup homemade Paleo Mayo (I use this recipe)

juice of one half of one lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine ingredients; served chilled.

Yep, it’s really that simple. All of your effort will be devoted to prep: cooking your chicken, making your mayo, and chopping everything up. After you do those things, it’s really just a matter of throwing it all into a bowl and mixing it up.

To cook my chicken, I just threw a pound of tenders in a 9 x 13 baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika on both sides. I baked them in a 350° oven for 20 minutes or until juices run clear and chicken is cooked through..

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Then, whip up your mayo. I use this recipe, and it’s virtually fail-proof. It’s imperative that you start with room temperature mayo, and don’t skimp on the lemon juice. It gives it the perfect flavor.
 
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The other trick is drizzling in your olive oil (NOT extra-virgin – buy the “light” tasting kind) in a super thin stream. I mean, so thin that you start getting arm cramps because it’s taking so long to pour it all in.

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Then, once the mayo is done, and the chicken has been cooked, cooled, and shredded, start chopping up your veggies. You may be tempted to leave out the grapes, but it really does add the most perfect burst of sweetness.

Throw it all into a big bowl.

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And then fold in that mayo.

Add plenty of salt and pepper. The salt is really crucial to bringing out all the flavors.

Chill for at least an hour. (I usually make this in the evening, let it chill all night, and eat it for dinner the next day.)

And then you’re done!

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I like eating mine over baby spinach with a side of sliced tomatoes and (more) fruit. So fresh you can pretend it’s summer.

So there you have it. This recipe is completely Whole30 friendly if you can find no sugar-added cranberries (or just leave them out).

Thanks so much, Nichole, for letting me hang out today. And thanks to you guys for sticking around. Go make yourself some chicken salad. 

Find Ryan: Blog | Facebook | Instagram