Monday, November 28, 2016

Homemade Salsa

It's no secret that I looooooove love love Mexican food! I could eat it all day-everyday. Despite making Mexican at least once a week, I have never tried my hand at homemade salsa. So being that we had the time last night, we decided to blend up some ingredients to make our own! We needed something to go along with our skirt steaks, and thought some chips, guac, and salsa would pair perfectly.

This is a simple recipe and you can alter the spices to make it as mild or spicy as you want! We prefer a little on the spicy side :)



Restaurant Style Salsa

10-oz can diced tomatoes and green chiles
Can of chopped tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 chopped onion
1 clove garlic
Japaleno, quartered and sliced thin keeping membrane and seeds on
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt (we added a little more)
1/4 tsp sugar
1 lime, juiced

Combine ingredients and blend in a food processor. Pulse until you get desired consistency. Test seasoning with chips and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate for an hour before serving 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What's Up Wednesday: November

Excited to be joining a new link-up this week, What's Up Wednesday with Shay @ mixandmatchmama !


It is a monthly link-up answering the following questions..


What we're eating this week...

I made two pies for my dad's family's Thanksgiving.. salted caramel chocolate pecan and a traditional raspberry. So rich, but so tasty!


Monday we tried a new chicken gyro recipe, and while it was good - I think I'll leave gyros up to Dino's. Not bad for a first attempt though!


To accompany the chilly, snowy wear, we made mini-meatloaves last night which turned out amaaaazing. Plus, they are a healthy version which made me feel a little better about devouring this comfort food. We paired it with our favorite roasted "rainbow" veggies (grape tomatoes, carrots, yellow pepper, and red onion) and a side salad. 

But the real MVP of this week will be happening Thursday afternoon - Thanksgiving Dinner

What I'm reminiscing about...

The holiday season as a child. Growing up, my parents always made holidays so special and magical. While I will always adore this season through the years, nothing can compete with being a kid around this time of year. Perhaps when I have my own children this will change! 

What I'm loving...

Alllll of the Black Friday deals. I've been going through all the ads on my Flipp app, and have even made my plan of attack for the big day!

What we've been up to...

Planning, researching, and buying tickets for our upcoming vacation to San Francisco! We bought our plane and hotel tickets awhile back ($500 for both the flight and hotel - such a steal) and last night we reserved our rental car and bought our Alcatraz tour tickets. We will be gone for 6 days in February and are so excited!

What I'm dreading...

Driving back to my parents' after work today - I'm guessing the traffic is going to be insane! But it's worth it :)

What I'm working on...

Trying to remember that Christmas is the season of giving and while the deals are super awesome - I should be focusing on other's gifts and not treating myself. 

What I'm excited about...

Spending the weekend with my family! Except poor Andy has to work Thursday-Saturday so we will be missing him

What I'm watching/reading...

We just finished American Horror Story season 6 on Monday and it was the best one yet! So clever, scary, and thrilling. We like that show so much that we started season 2 (which we have never seen) on Netflix last night!

Also continuing to watch West World.. which is brilliant but also a little confusing for me. Hope Andy doesn't mind all the questions I've been asking :)

What I'm listening to...

I started listening to Christmas music on Sunday.. too early?? Frank Sinatra Christmas station on Pandora is my favorite. 

What I'm wearing...

I went crazy on the Old Navy/Gap sale yesterday afternoon and got a few Christmas presents. Also I found the cutest gift for my friend Chelsea who's expecting. Why are all the baby things soooo darn adorable?! 

Also I bought some new PJs, a pullover, and moccasin slippers for myself. I can't resist anything cozy!





But today I've taken full advantage of the casual dress code at work and am sporting my favorite leggings, a University of Minnesota sweatshirt, and a cozy infinity scarf to match. It was one of those days guys!

What I'm doing this weekend...

Celebrating Thanksgiving with my family up north Thursday, Black Friday shopping with my mom, going back up north to watch my god daughter's Christmas recital on Saturday, and spending Sunday lounging with Andy :) Perfect

What I'm looking forward to next month...

So many things to be excited for! Finding out the gender of my best friend's little one, the annual cookie baking weekend with my mom, aunts, and cousins, Secret Santa gift exchange and Santa Clause Pub Crawl with some of our close friends, celebrating Andy's 24th birthday, attending White Christmas play with my mom and grandma, and allllll of the days off work ;)

Also wrapping presents.. it's a work of art!

 Andy's present last year all wrapped and ready to open:



Bonus question.. What's your favorite Thanksgiving Tradition?

I love driving up north with my family to my aunt and uncles beautiful home. The table is always immaculate and our spread is absolutely perfect! My aunt is a wonderful cook, and always has new things to try. 

Here's last years Thanksgiving table:




Also Axel ready for the Holidays!



My god daughter always writes a list of the alphabet, and we go around filling in the letters of what we are thankful for. Then we compare to years past. A fun way to see how times change! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: For Her

Alright guys, I've put together a list of my favorite things! These would all make great gifts for friends, mothers, mother-in-laws, grandmas, etc. These items are a range of prices and I'm sure you could find cheaper versions too!


Skinnytaste Cookbook // A friend of mine has been cooking recipes from this book and she said they've all been awesome!

Veggie Spiralizer // Zoodles seem to be all the rage these days.. I've heard they are a tasty substitute for those who are on a low-carb diet (or just feeling adventurous!)

White Barn Candles // My all-time favorite candles! White Barn is apart of Bath and Body.. so you know they can do no wrong. :) I just picked up a Peppermint Marshmallow one and also bought a Snowflake Citrus one for a gift..

Blanket Scarf // Target has some in their dollar sections for $7! And they're quality

Knit Socks // My favorite brand of warm socks is Cuddleduds.. so soft!

Wristlet // I received a Kate Spade Wristlet as a gift from my friend Lisa last Christmas and it is still one of my favorite gifts to this day! I get so much use out of it.. plus it's great to carry on a night-out so you don't have to haul around (and keep an eye on) your regular purse. Just slip it around your wrist and you can dance to your hearts content!

Lilly Pulizter 2017 Planner // 2017 is just around the corner...!

Pioneer Woman Collection // Pictured above is her butter dish which I think is absolutely adorable.. but really, anything in her entire collection is to die for! I have some of her bowls, mason jar glasses, a glass pie dish, and a cake stand. Love it all!

Lush Bath Bombs // These are so fun! And they're all natural which gives them bonus points.

Cable Knit Throw // They have some at Target on Black Friday for $9.99. It's on my list!

Silicone Phone Case // I've heard from my friends that these are great, and they come in a ton of different colors!

Adult Coloring Book // I bought one of these last February before we went on vacation and it was perfect to keep me busy (and my anxiety levels down) the whole time! They are so relaxing and come in a bunch of different designs

Thermal Mug // Can never have enough of these ;)

Clinique Chubby Stick Pack // Clinique is my favorite brand of lipstick and these chubby sticks are just so adorable! Also great for someone who isn't quite sure what color speaks to them yet.

Hope in a Jar // Great for mothers or in-laws! This is an awesome face cream that works wonders.

Donut Pan // Love love love mine!

KitchenAid Mixer // Definitely more of a splurge.. but I think this is on many, many Christmas lists

Ninja Master Prep // Andy got me one of these last year and I have used it so many times! It includes a blender (for those nights ya just want a marg) and a food processor to aid in your cooking and baking recipes!

Aldo Watch Set // Another present I received a few years back from my parents. These are great because you can change the strap to match your outfit.

Essential Oil Diffuser // This is a great gift for anyone who loves a home that smells good (I hope that's everyone). You can get diffusers in tons of different styles! I received one from Andy's mom last year for Christmas and it is one of my favorite things. Add a few essential oils with this (peppermint, orange clove, and lavender are my favorites) and you've got a quality gift!


Friday, November 18, 2016

Five on Friday

Happy Friday lovelies! 



- ONE -

I started a Holiday Gift Guide on Wednesday. I've got more in progress and will be posting them every few days to keep my blog from blowing up with Christmas stuff! As excited I am, constantly thinking Christmas has got my mind going crazy with to-do lists, online shopping, constantly checking my bank account........breathe...

Butttttt I hope these guides are helpful for ya'll and I've even begun coming across new ideas myself while putting them together :)


- TWO -

I know how much I boast about Trader Joe's on this blog.. and never did I think they would ever fail me. But lo and behold.. they did! My mom and I sampled a stuffed turkey roast there on Sunday and we both thought it tasted yummy! So I bought one thinking it would be an easy dinner idea for Monday. So Monday comes around and after I got home from working out I went to pop this little turkey in the oven and I find the words "Turkeyless" printed on the box. Guys. IT WAS A VEGAN TURKEY!

We are not on board the vegan train, and I knew if I said something to Andy before eating it would skew our opinions. So when it came time to try it we both agreed that it was "okay" but as we took more bites we were both gagging at it. Like a mush turkey stuffed with more brown mush. Dog food is what it looked like. Needless to say, the look on Andy's face when I told him it was vegan was priceless.

Into the trash that turkey roast went. At least the roasted squash and broccoli I made with it were yummy :)

Moral of the story: fully check out your product before you buy it




- THREE -

Minnesota is supposed to get it's first snow fall today/this weekend, and I can't help but be a little excited :) As long as I've got my flannel PJs, favorite slippers, and a cup of hot chocolate - I'm all for a snow day!


- FOUR -

Last night myself and a few friends went to the Wild game! My friend Lisa had some awesome seats she gets from her work. It was a fun girls night and the Wild scored the first shot of the game with 44 seconds left on the clock! Now that's a good game!





- FIVE -

The weather is insane in Minnesota today.. we had plans to go watch my god daughter perform in the Nutcracker but sadly the roads are just going to be too bad to drive on. I am so bummed. Watching this little girl makes my heart so full!

At least we have her winter show next Saturday.


Travel safe this weekend everyone! :) Have a good one!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: For Him

Popping in to share some of my favorite gift ideas for the men in your life - boyfriends, husbands, brothers, dads, whoever! Men are incredibly hard to shop for, so I've compiled a list of things that have been proven to be a good gift, and also some that may be making their way under some brightly colored wrapper paper soon :)

ANDY IF YOU'RE READING THIS PLEASE STOP!! 



LL Bean Slippers | So comfy, so cozy!

Cards Against Humanity | Best thing to have on hand if you enjoy hosting parties. We've had many, many laughs playing this raunchy game.

Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker | Who doesn't like to sing in the shower?

Whiskey Rocks | These are perfect for when you forget to chill your alcohol

Bottle Opener Mount | I got Andy a custom-made one from Etsy last year and we use it all the time! It catches the caps in a little box too.

Pair of Thieves Underwear | Claimed to be "the best boxer briefs"

Toiletry Bag | Again, bought Andy this last Christmas. Not many guys think of how they're going to tote their shaving tools, toothpaste, cologne, etc. on vacation.

Sound Bar | What is it with men and technology? This would be perfect for football Sundays!

Beer Cap Map | Thought this was so cool.. whenever you travel somewhere you collect a beer cap from that state and fill in your map with it!

Bonfire Pit | Perfect for when you don't have a real bonfire pit.

Cologne | Andy loves Kenneth Cole Black and I swoon over it too. It is the perfect manly scent. This makes for a perfect gift (and you get the gift of a handsome smelling man too!)

Fitbit | Get ready for those New Years Resolutions!

Braven 805 Portable Wireless Speaker |

"Pick Your Own" Six-Pack | For the beer drinking guy in your life. This is becoming more and more common. I find the most success at Total Wine stores. This gives them a chance to sample some new popular or local brews!

Nike Gym Bag | Again.. New Years resolutions people :)

Sweat Towel | These are so much nicer than using the gym's paper towels.. yuck!

5 foot long iPhone charger | Self-explanatory. I think everyone needs one.

Yeti Tumbler | I can attest to these.. they are ahhhhmazing! They keep your drink cold all day (and all night).

iPhone Car Mount | Never have to stop for directions again ;) Also, who doesn't love safe driving skills?!

Survival Pocket Tool | Good for the nature enthusiast

Just a Drop | LOLing at this. This would also work for a gag gift :)

Tech Finders | My roommate mentioned these to me! Great for someone who loses their keys, wallet, phone, etc. all. the. TIME! But seriously, how smart are these?!

Chili-Rubbed Steak Tacos

I'd rate this recipe a 11/10 if I could.. it was that good! Like I told Andy, if I had to prepare a dinner for guests - I think this would be the winner. It's decently easy to make, and the time consuming parts can be made ahead of time. Plus it tastes like it came directly from Mexico and is great with some sangria or a nice cold Corona.



Chili-Rubbed Steak Tacos

Ingredients:

-For the steak-
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
A pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/4 lb top sirloin steaks

-For the Avocado Lime Salsa-
1 large cucumber peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
2 avocados, cut into chunks
1/2 red onion, diced
2 limes, juiced
Salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 jalapeno chiles, chopped and seeded

Extra:
Small corn tortillas
Shredded cabbage
1 lime, cut into wedges


Directions:

In bowl, combine all salsa ingredients and toss gently. 



In a another bowl, combine chili powder, garlic, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper. Rub spice mixture on both sides of steaks.

Grill steaks to your liking (we did about medium). Remove from grill and let meat sit 10-15 min. Slice into thin strips.



Warm tortillas by placing them on the grill for about 30 seconds, turning once.

Place carved steak into corn tortillas, cover with avocado-lime salsa, and top with red cabbage. We also bought some salsa verde and put that on the top for some added flavor.

We served with Mexican corn and rice.





Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Weekend Fun



Busy. Busy. Busy. The only word I can use to describe this weekend. I was passed out last night by 9:30 and slept like a baby until 7am this morning after snoozing my alarm not once, but twice! But those are my favorite kinds of weekends :)

Friday we had a work training alllllll day.. however we were compensated with a ungodly amount of candy and sweets. They also provided breakfast and lunch.. so no complaints :) I also learned a ton so I considered it a day well spent. That evening I had two of my girlfriends over and we went to dinner, which was fantastic! Who knew TGI Fridays could taste so good? Classy, I know ;)

So much for sleeping in this weekend.. Saturday I was up by 6:30 to get ready for our annual fall craft sale! We always hit up Herberger's, grab breakfast, and then spend all day walking around the sale.. I went with my two friends and our moms. Money was spent... too much of it. I picked up some of the yummiest coffee cakes they sell - I got blueberry lemon this year! Also I got a Christmas present for Andy's mom, something small for Andy, and a gorgeous decoration for our home next year. 

Also I scored on a Michael Kors jacket at Herberger's.. originally $285 and I got it for $54! WOAH.

After crafting all day, I met up with Andy and some of our friends to check out some breweries. Favorite drink of the night: a strawberry sour beer. So delicious!



Sunday it was up bright and early again. My mom picked me up and we headed to St. Paul to watch Chelsea try on wedding dresses. and - she found the one! She looked absolutely gorgeous.. the dress is to die for! I cannot wait to see her on her big day all decked out! 



We ended the night by having our friends over for dinner.. Andy makes some mean chicken thighs.. :) and we learned adding heavy whipping cream in your mashed potatoes is heavenly!


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Honey Mustard Chicken Strips

Tried a new recipe last night, and loved it! Thought I'd pop in to share with you all! Plus this meal is literally chicken strips so you can enjoy feeling like a kid again :) We had these little strips of deliciousness with some sauted beans and a salad.

Side note: do not eat this while catching up on American Horror Story. You will regret it. (Yes, stupid mistake on our part - we ended up changing it to something else for the remainder of our meal)




Honey Mustard Chicken Fingers

For the chicken
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

For the sauce
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons regular mustard

For the pecan crust
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup Panko
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder


Preheat the oven to 375 (we did 400). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Set aside.

To make the honey mustard, whisk together mayo, yogurt, honey, and mustards

To make the pecan crust, combine pecans, panko, italian seasonings, garlic powder, and onion powder in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Working one at a time, dip the chicken into honey mustard mixture, then dredge in pecan mixture, pressing to coat.

Place chicken onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the chicken is completely cooked through.

Serve immediately. We made another batch of the honey mustard sauce for dipping :) tasty!


Friday, November 4, 2016

Five on Friday!

This week has been absolutely insane, which has lead to the blog being put on the back burner. School is getting progressively harder, and papers have been occupying most of my free time.. I cannot wait to finish up and get this masters! It will take a huge amount of stress of my shoulders :)

Thankfully - it's FRIDAY and that means sharing my FAVORITE things from this past week!

- ONE -

We had a full weekend of Halloween festivities. Friday Andy and I dressed up and took on some (by some, I mean we only got to one) of the Minneapolis breweries. This is one of our favorite things to do.. and there's few things better than good conversation and good beer!

Our favorite brewery is called Dangerous Man and it's in NE Minneapolis. They always have a ton of unique brews to try. I recently have begun to actually enjoy drinking beer, and this place always has a handful of ones I like. Their Peanut Butter Porter is to die for and they had a yummy boysenberry sour (what exactly is a boysenberry anyway?!).

We took the easy route this year with costumes.. I was a biker chick and Andy was a pumpkin (lol)




- TWO - 

We went to Valleyscare last weekend with our friends Hunter and Megan and had a really great time! Who doesn't love a little adrenaline rush?! Plus their Haunted Houses were so well done. I also got my caramel apple, which was really the main goal of the day.





- THREE -

Monday - the actual holiday - we checked out Pumpkin Nights at the MN State Fair Grounds. Wow! We were so impressed! It was a 1/2 mile trail throughout the grounds where they had thousands and thousands of carved pumpkins. They had several themed areas (pirates, underwater, MN themed, witches, etc.) The amount of detail in every single pumpkin was impeccable. We loved it and are already excited to see what they will have next year!









- FOUR - 

This weekend is my favorite persons (aka - my MOM'S!) 50th birthday! I am so excited to celebrate the weekend with her. Tomorrow we will be going to a "Purse Bingo" where you play bingo to win designer purses, and possibly seeing a movie. Sunday we are meeting with family for lunch. I love this woman dearly, and she deserves to be celebrated every day! But this weekend we will just extra, extra celebrate her :)



Isn't she gorgeous?! Something about old pictures


This pic of my mom and dad is also my favorite..





- FIVE -

Thinking of making these Caramels for the holidays this year.. don't they sound fabulous? "Salted Caramel Whiskey Caramels" - um, YUM!!


Happy Friday!!!