Sunday, July 19, 2015

Healthy Blueberry, Banana & Zucchini Muffins

Good morning!

I usually make pancakes on the weekends, but today it is muffins! These muffins have 3 types of healthy produce, honey and maple syrup instead of sugar, white whole wheat flour, and greek yogurt. Healthy and delish! The perfect way to start a weekend morning.




Recipe

Ingredients:
Adapted from: Cooking a la Mel


2 ripe bananas – well mashed
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup greek yogurt
¼ cup honey
¼ cup maple syrup
zest of ½ a lemon
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat together the mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla, and yogurt. Add in the honey, maple syrup and lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon until well blended.  
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet.
Fold in the zucchini and blueberries.

OK, time out. 3 things.
First, Do as I say, not as I do, because I thought I'd try putting the blueberries at the bottom of each muffin cup instead of blending them into the batter.  Terrible idea. it turned out more like a cobbler, not a muffin.  Add them to the batter :)
Second, I have to confess, only half the time do I really mix the dry ingredients separately, and then add them gradually. The rest of the time I totally add them all straight into the wet ingredients, mix the salt, cinnamon etc. into the flour best I can, and then gradually fold it all together. Lazy. Basically turns out the same. 
Third, I used my Vitamix to blend everything, instead of a hand egg beater. Both work great.

Anyway, once you have your batter incorporated, pour into greased muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.







Perfect for breakfast, but also as a snack or dessert!
Happy Weekend :)





Monday, July 6, 2015

Yogurtland New Flavors in Stores Today! #‎YogurtlandSweetTreats‬

I was invited to preview these new items, and was compensated with a goodie bag, gift card, and all I could eat frozen yogurt ;)

Yogurtland invited me to attend a preview at their Corporate location in Irvine of their new Candy Crush game inspired frozen yogurt flavors that debut in stores today!


I'm probably the only person who doesn't play the Candy Crush game on my phone, so I wasn't sure what the inspired flavors would be like!





It was such a fun event! They had lots of samples for us to try, including toppings, plus a photo booth, prize wheel, and a tour of their flavor mixing lab!


Two of my fave flavors are the first to debut! Look for them beginning today, July 6th - July 19th in your local store!


Not only does the Maple Donut flavor taste just like a real doughnut, but they offer mini glazed cake doughnuts on their toppings bar to compliment the flavor! Now you can have your frozen yogurt, and eat your cake (donut), too! ;)  So delicious!!! You have to try it!



The Orange Fizz Sorbet, along with the Lemonade Lake coming out in August, were so summery and refreshing! And they have cute Swedish fish to top this flavor!







Throughout the summer, they will release the other flavors:
Blue Raspberry Sorbet - July 20
Chocotastic Sorbet - July 20

Salted Caramel Gelato (so yummy!!) - August 3
Candy Clouds - August 3

Lemonade Lake - August 17
Cupcake Carnival - August 17

Butterscotch - August 31
Minty Meadow - August 31

The fun thing about the Candy Clouds cotton candy flavor, was they totally made it taste like real cotton candy, and not that fake blue "cotton candy" flavor we are used to.

That is the cool and unique thing about Yogurtland is that they buy the real food item when creating new flavors, so that they can get the flavor just right.  They use real food flavors to re-create a more authentic tasting product! I love this.  They also test their probiotic levels several times during the yogurt making process, to make sure those stay intact.
So, basically. A heath food ;)  That's what I tell myself as I'm eating that sugary donut, ha!!


I had so much fun in the Photo Booth with my good friend Mary, from the blog Let's Play OC.  She has all the insider details on so many fun things going on in Orange County!
Check her out on Instagram here, and here, too!





 Spinning the prize wheel! :)





It was such a treat (pun intended!) to tour the corporate office lobby! They had a whole wall of all their flavors, past and present. I found my long lost all time fave, Carrot Cake! ...Bring it back!! ;)




Be sure to follow Yogurtland on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for even more details on today's kickoff of these Candy Crush flavors!!

Follow the hashtag this summer to see everyone's creations, and be sure to tag Yogurtland when you go in to try these yummy new summer flavors!
#YogurtlandSweetTreats   #YogurtlandCandyCrush







 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

July 4th Round-Up!

I'm a sucker for any holiday, but the Fourth of July is just so summery and magical!
Sunshine, Fireworks, BBQ, Cocktails... 'merica!



Red, White, and Blue eeeverything!

Here are a few of my festive faves:

Flag Aviator Sunglasses - need! done! mine!



Flag Print Tank - must have!





Aztec American Flag Print Tank - obsessed with this one!

Photo Cred: The Pink Lily Boutique


 Flag Print Bunting Banner - so cute! Could use printed burlap or just scrapbook paper!




Patriotic Mason Jar Painted Lanterns - omg, these are soo freaking cute!!!!!

Photo Cred: Addicted 2 DIY


 Festively Colored Fruit Salad - Yes, please!!

Photo Cred: Two Peas & Their Pod



Fruit Pizza  - I forgot about these! Ah, childhood. Yum!!

Photo Credit: HERE



You can use a circle of scrapbook paper, fabric, or a cupcake liner, shown here! to replace the metal part of the mason jar lid, for a festive cup! Just poke a hole through for a straw and you're good to go!!




Patriotic Paper Straws - and for said paper straws....!




Fruit Ice Cubes  - Ahhh, these are perfect!! For water, lemonade, or cocktails!!

Photo Cred: Pip & Ebby


 Check out my 4th of July Pinterest Board for even more fun ideas!









Friday, June 26, 2015

Fried Ricotta Squash Blossoms

I hesitantly ordered the stuffed fried squash blossoms appetizer at dinner once, tried one bite, and was hooked!! They are a delicate flower stuffed with an herbed ricotta cheese, fried, and topped with a pesto and lemon aioli.
Have you local friends ever been to Cucina Enoteca, at the Irvine Spectrum? They opened one at Fashion Island, in Newport Beach, too. It is such delicious, inventive Italian food!
These squash blossoms were so interesting and amazing, but not really something you could re-create at home, unless you grow your own squash. Or, so I thought! Until I spotted some zucchini squash blossoms at the farmer's market one day! I had to try to recreate this yummy dish!



I totally lucked out. I had never seen them before, and cruising the tail end of the Laguna Beach Farmer's Market one Saturday morning, I just happened to see one lonely section of squash flowers over in a corner, on a table with zucchini and other produce. I ran over, and asked if they were for sale! They sure were, and they were like $.50. I was so stoked! I could finally attempt this dish.

Squash (Zucchini, or otherwise) Blossoms are the flower on the plant, and they look kind of like a closed up lily or hibiscus flower.
You have to handle them very delicately, washing them, and removing the pollen stem in the center.
But they are so fun and interesting, it is worth it once in a while!
They have a light squash taste, but are more just for fun, and a good vessel, in this case, for cheese!


Recipe:

Adapted from:
Mint Green Apron &
Bon Appetit

(see here for recipe photos)


and Inspired by:
Cucina Enoteca Restaurant

Ingredients:

8 squash blossoms
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp finely chopped herbs - parsley and basil
salt
pepper

1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 egg + 1 egg white
olive oil (or coconut oil)

Dipping sauces:
Homemade or store bought pesto
Lemon aioli: Martha's recipe


Directions:

Carefully wash the flowers, and dry well. Remove the stamen, or pollen covered center, down in the middle of the flower, trying not to tear any petals.






Mix together cheeses, herbs, and salt and pepper.
Transfer into piping bag, or ziplock bag, with the corner snipped off.

Hold a blossom with one petal pulled back, and gently pipe about 2 Tbsp of these cheese mixture into the flower. Close flower petals, and twist ends closed.
Repeat with all remaining flowers.

Heat 1-2 inches of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-high heat.

Whisk eggs until frothy in a bowl.
Put breadcrumbs into a shallow dish.

Dip one blossom at a time in the eggs, and then into the breadcrumbs, then gently place into the hot oil.
Cook for about 3-4 minutes, turning once.
Lay on a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with salt.

Serve with pesto and lemon aioli, or simply a lemon wedge.

Such a unique and fun appetizer!
Have you ever tried or bought squash blossoms?











Sunday, June 14, 2015

Moving & Packing Tips

So, I moved. Just down the street. But, far enough for me to scour Pinterest for purging, organizing, moving, cleaning, and decorating tips for the past couple months!  And I found some gems, I tell ya.

So! Moving and Packing Tips!

#1. Watch This.
Buzzfeed: Moving Hacks

Yes, you have a minute and a half to spare.
This video list is definitely a good start.

If you hire movers, they should give you wardrobe boxes (tall box with metal closet pole across them), otherwise use the trick of wrapping clothes on hangers with garbage bags - ain't nobody got time to pack, then re-hang all their clothes.

#2 Read these.
Buzzfeed: Brilliant Moving Tips

Just do it.  They are ALL gems.  I will repeat my faves below.
Gotta love Buzzfeed!

First. Number 28.  Start changing your address everywhere, now.
ALL those magazines, Amazon, Paypal, credit cards, ETC. You'll keep thinking of more. Start early.
Buy new address labels. And email all your friends and family with your new address.

This link below is a good moving tip round up, as well!

Listotic: 33 Helpful Moving Tips Everyone Should Know

More Tips!
Keep an overnight or large tote bag for your essentials like daily toiletries, a change of clothes for the day after moving day, as well as your laptop, charger, and phone charger.

Ask Trader Joe's or another grocery or liquor store for a couple empty wine boxes, the kind that hold 12 or 16 bottles, with cardboard dividers.  Use them, not only for packing wine and alcohol bottles, but for wine glasses, vases, and any other decor items of similar size. (You know, like all those empty wine and beer bottles we have painted and now use as decor? ;)  )


Buy paper lunch bags at the Dollar store and use them to safely pack glasses and small bowls.
Saves on tissue paper or bubble wrap!



Buy styrofoam disposable plates (Dollar store!), and use them to safely pack plates, putting a foam plate in between each real plate.
Pack plates vertically, on their sides, not upright, too.



Also, use every single towel, tshirt, and sweatshirt in your house (if needed) to pack breakables; again, to save on bubble wrap and tissue paper.
Plus, newspaper is gross, because the ink can get on everything.
If your items and boxes aren't dusty, you won't really need to wash all those after using them to pack, either.
Also, if you pack your dishes and kitchen items without anything dirty or dusty, you won't need to re-wash those either. You're welcome.

I packed sharp kitchen knives in oven mitts!

Cover the tops of all your bathroom/shower liquid bottles in plastic wrap, then screw the tops back on.
This is a great travel tip, too! Shampoo-covered everything, no more!

Your moving company should also have a huge roll of shrink wrap, so they can wrap all the drawers of desks and dressers in tact, so you don't have to pack all the drawer contents into boxes.
If you are moving yourself, or for smaller items like your flatware divider, use Plastic Wrap or Press and Seal to safely transport the contents, again without having to pack them all. We are going for efficiency here, people.

Pack all your heavy books in rolling suitcases. Try to evenly distribute the weight, and don't pack them quite all the way full if your books are super heavy.
Smile apologetically as your movers realize how heavy you have packed those suitcases. Don't worry - those guys have a dolly and super human strength.

Pack your necklaces like this, using empty toilet paper rolls, to keep them from getting tangled!



Also. Something I did that didn't work - I bought these colored labels. Um, labels like this don't stick to cardboard boxes very well. They started peeling off immediately.
You should use duct tape or something with a stronger adhesive. (Or put a piece of clear packing tape over each label.)
Wuah wuah, no color-coded labels for me :(

I just used a super thick Sharpie pen to write the room name on my boxes.




To Do / To Buy Lists:  (I live in a world of To Do / To Buy lists, ha ha)

PRE MOVE IN:
Clean the new place, especially the kitchen and bathrooms.
Buy new shower curtain liners and hang those.
Buy new toilet brush and plunger (ain't nobody gonna pack those!)
Buy toilet paper and paper towels.

MOVING DAY:
Bottles of water
snacks - trail mix
trash bags
ziplock bags
pen
tape
paper towels

As you disassemble last minute moving day items, like bookcases and headboards, you wind find you have a lot of loose pieces.  Keep a pack of small plastic ziplock bags handy on moving day to keep all the screws, shelf pegs, etc. organized and separated so you can find and identify them later. Bonus points, if you also keep a roll of tape and a Sharpie pen, so you can label each bag with what item it belongs to.  You can keep these separately, or you can tape the bag to the actual item it belongs to.

Unless you end up having an awesome AT&T Uverse tech come out to re-set up your cable tv, (added moving weekend surprise! They are always so hit or miss...)  it can't hurt to take a photo of the back of your TVs/cable boxes, so you remember which cords went where. More bonus points, wrap each set of cords that go to a certain item together with tape, rubber band or hair tie, and add a tape label.




POST MOVE IN:
Ok, so, the movers are gone, and you are left in a new space surrounded by a moving box fort.
Now what?!
Well, as the movers are bringing boxes in, I actually like to right away start unpacking them! Try to have one box unpacked and empty, before they bring the next one in! Even if you have piles of stuff, it is much less daunting than boxes, and easier to find everything. Put the contents in the correct room at least, and you are off to a good start.  The only boxes I left packed were the ones labeled Decor, that I knew I wouldn't be ready for yet.
Decide which kitchen and bathroom stuff you want in which cupboard and drawer, then put away accordingly.
All clothes should be easily hung back in the closet (see tips above - they stayed on the hangers)

Leave the couch open, and wash your sheets and make your bed as soon as you can.
That way when you hit a wall you have a place to relax!

My last tip is pack your wine opener/bottle opener in your overnight bag :)
Then, order delivery pizza, have some wine, and keep trucking along.

Enjoy your new space!







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