500th Post – With a Big Announcement!

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Happy Friday, everyone- and what a beautiful Friday it is! It’s also a very special occasion for ‘Legally Redhead’. This is my 500th post!

When I first started this blog back on New Year’s Day in 2013, I never thought I’d make it to 500 posts. I didn’t even know if I’d make it to 100, honestly- but it quickly became a passionate project of mine- and getting the opportunity to interact with so many incredible, insightful and talented people about a variety of subjects over the years has been the icing on a pretty amazing cake.

First and foremost, I want to thank each and every one of you who have subscribed to/followed Legally Redhead since it’s inception. Your support and your feedback throughout the years has kept me going- even when I sometimes wondered what the point was (it happens to all bloggers at some point, trust me…) and I have worked incredibly hard to give you all content I was proud of and hoped you would all enjoy. It means the world to me to know that other people care about this little corner of the web as much as I do.

I also want to thank the brands/companies I’ve partnered with over these past few years. You all took a chance with me- an inexperienced blogger by comparison to more established and well-known websites/figures- and I’m so honored to have had the privilege to work with all of you. Truly. I’m so, so grateful for so many wonderful opportunities that were presented to me.

But times- they are a changing- and it’s with immense pride (and a little sorrow) that I have to announce that I’m closing the chapter of my life known as ‘Legally Redhead’.

Wait- what?!

Okay, okay- so I’m not done blogging- I’m just done blogging here, is all! I’m heading on over to a sparkling new URL to start fresh and provide more frequent and more polished content (as opposed to my sporadic posting style here at ‘Legally Redhead’).

Today marks the launch of my latest project: Blondie Birdie!

But- why?!

Well, the simple answer is that I’m not the same person I was when I first started ‘Legally Redhead’- a site that was created in the aftermath of my father’s unexpected death during my mid-20s. While many of my interests and goals remain (mostly) the same- I’ve changed a lot over the past couple of years- especially with my breakup last Summer. I wanted a fresh start and the chance to really focus on blogging full-time alongside my current career path as I transitioned into the next stage of my life.

Also- I’m not a redhead anymore- and haven’t been for a while! So, you know- I needed an update to better reflect my hair color!

What’s going to happen to ‘Legally Redhead’?

Nothing at all! The site is going to stay up- just the way it is- so that people can reference my past posts about recipes, travel, makeup, fashion, etc. There just won’t be any new updates after this post. All of my new content will be over at Blondie Birdie starting today!

What will Blondie Birdie be about?

Well, in a lot of ways- Blondie Birdie will be similar to ‘Legally Redhead’. I still intend to share recipes, cosmetic/skin care reviews, travel recaps, etc. but I’m also hoping to have more structured and professional-looking posts about a larger variety of topics- many of which I’ve been tempted to post about here but just never got around to.

What about ‘Legally Redhead’s social media?

Not to worry! I’ve taken care of everything. I’ve updated my CONTACTS page here on ‘Legally Redhead’ reflecting any changes in usernames- and will also have the CONTACTS page on Blondie Birdie updated accordingly. If you’re looking for me- I won’t be hard to find. Promise!

How do I follow Blondie Birdie?

The same way you followed me here. There’s a “FOLLOW ME” button along the side-bar of my homepage. Simply add your e-mail or click the button to be logged into WordPress and you’ll be notified every time I post! I’ll also have my social media links up if you want to follow me on any of those platforms!

I think that’s pretty much everything. I sincerely hope that all of you who have been so supportive and incredible these past few years come along with me during the next chapter in my life. I’m excited to begin writing it- and I hope you’re all just as excited to read about it!

Thank you for an incredible 4+ years.

See you over on Blondie Birdie!

xx

www.blondiebirdie.com

Quick Eats: Fried Shallot Cheeseburger

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It doesn’t look like it or feel like it- but Summer is here in New England and we’re all trying to get into the spirit of things despite the most recent onslaught of torrential downpours and temperature drops. I’ve broken out my maxi dresses for work, my sandals for the weekend, and have been feverishly searching for the best alcohol-infused Popsicle recipes to make in my kitchen in what little spare time I have these days.

One of the telltale signs of the season is the abundance of cookouts and backyard BBQs on the nicer, sunnier days. Unfortunately, we haven’t had one of those in a while- so I’ve resorted to cooking up burgers, fries, and mixing some milkshakes in the comfort of my kitchen and making the best of things. I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with some of the recipes in my recently purchased Shake Shack cookbook- and thought I’d share a slightly modified version of one of my favorite concoctions so far.

I love anything with onions, so this recipe was a must-try the second I spotted it in the book- and the sauce I coated the potato buns with? SO good.

Best of all? These are super easy to make!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE SAUCE/”SHAKESAUCE”:

  • 1/2 cup Hellman’s mayonaise
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoons of Heinz ketchup
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher dill pickling brine
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper.

FOR THE BURGERS:

  • 4 hamburger potato buns
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of the mixed sauce (“Shakesauce”)
  • 1 pound of very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
  • 1/2 pound of thin, fried shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper
  • 4 slices of your cheese of choice (for this particular attempt, I stuck with American cheese!)

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

FOR THE SAUCE/”SHAKESAUCE”:

1. Put all of the ingredients (listed above) in a small mixing bowl and stir until well combined.

2. Chill the sauce for about 15-20 minutes prior to use. Any extra sauce will keep, if covered and properly refrigerated, for up to one week.

FOR THE BURGERS:

1. Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat until warm. Meanwhile, brush the insides of the hamburger potato buns with the melted butter. Place the buns buttered side down and toast until golden brown (2-3 minutes). Transfer the buns onto a plate and spoon your mixed and chilled “Shakesauce” on the top bun.

2. Increase the heat to medium and heat the griddle until hot (2-3 minutes)

3. Evenly sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on top of each puck of ground beef.

4. Place the pucks on the griddle, seasoned side down. Using a large, sturdy metal spatula, firmly smash each puck into a 1/3-inch thick round patty. Pressing down the spatula with another stiff spatula helps flatten the burger quickly. Evenly sprinkle more salt and pepper on the patties.

5. Cook the burgers until the edges beneath are brown and crisp, and juices on the surface are bubbling hot (about 2 1/2 minutes). Slide one of the spatulas beneath the burger to release it from the griddle and scrape up the caramelized browned crust. Use the other spatula to steady the burger and keep it from sliding. Flip the burgers.

6. Put the cheese on top and cook the burgers for one minute longer for medium, and longer for a more well-done texture. Transfer the cheeseburgers to the prepared buns- top with your fried shallots- and enjoy!

Crispy, tangy, and with just the right amount of spice- these burgers are pretty great and are definitely something I plan to bust out at my next outdoor get together with my friends- assuming it ever stops raining!

xx

May Hits List!

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope those of you in the States had a lovely Memorial Day weekend. Mine was mostly rained out, unfortunately- but I still managed to have my share of fun with friends and family while paying respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice while they were defending our country and our freedoms.

I’m back at work this morning bright and early to get a jump start on anything that may have accumulated over the long weekend and to assist with training a newcomer to the team (and she’s an absolute doll! I’m so excited to work with her!) but I wanted to take a little bit of time to share some of my favorite things from the month of May. Some are helping me prep for this Summer, others were the breakout stars during my recent trip to the West Coast- but I’ve put them (and some other things!) all right here to share.

Let’s take a look!

I had previously showed off these holograph sneakers from Primark in my pre-vacation haul/shopping spree post a couple of weeks ago- and while I am still completely smitten with how cool they look- I also just want to comment on how unbelievably comfortable they are, too. I was sporting these in the airport, around the Las Vegas strip, and throughout downtown San Diego last week and not once did my feet ever feel sore or stiff.

Considering I paid less than $20 for these- I wasn’t expecting long-term comfort or style- but these made it to and from the West Coast and are still in great shape. I’m so, so thrilled about this purchase that I had to share them again!

Last month, an Aveeno face wash had made my “Hits List” for being my g0-to cleanser when I was freshening up post-workout at the gym. This month, the brand returns- but in the form of a really incredible nighttime repair cream that I’ve been swearing by in recent weeks. I brought this with me to California and it’s a lifesaver, to put it plainly.

Between the climate change, staying out late with my friends out West and having one too many drinks (more than once)– I was pretty much expecting to wake up every morning of my vacation looking rough and tired- but after generously smearing this cream all over my face and neck every night when I got back to where I was staying/crashing- I THANKFULLY always looked fresh-faced and radiant. The multi-vitamins and soy complex loaded into this fluffy, lightweight moisturizer worked wonders at repairing, hydrating, and protecting my skin while I slept. I’m a believer now and I can’t recommend it enough.

I’ve also been using this incredible color-changing/complimenting lipstick from Lipstick Queen I received in a recent POPSUGAR “Must Have” box pretty much non-stop. While the lipstick appears yellow in the tube, it quickly transforms into a flattering coral shade once it hits your lips. It brightens me up in the mornings when I head to work and is perfect for that no-fuss “beachy” look I covet around this time every year. I always keep it nearby in my bag for quick touch-ups!

As much as I love the latest Vegas key chain I picked up for my collection during last week’s visit- the key chain itself isn’t the only thing that made the “Hits List!” this month- but the overall memories, really.

I went to Vegas with a bit of an agenda- one, was to visit some friends I wish I got to see more often (which was also part of my agenda when I went to California shortly thereafter) and the other thing was to give a serious look and some consideration into the real estate options out that way.

I would love to live in San Diego- anywhere in SoCal, really- but the truth of the matter is that it is obscenely expensive. What I pay now for a lovely enough place that suits me and my present lifestyle where I’m currently located is barely enough to afford a decent studio (or even a basement apartment) in that region. Finding good condos or a suitable house is like winning the lottery- and I’m not getting any younger. I have to be realistic- and while I continue to take some roommate offers into consideration- the possibility of moving to the slightly-less-West-but-still-West-enough and infinitely cheaper Las Vegas/Henderson region has piqued my interest.

I did look at a couple of homes in the desert during my stay- still close enough to civilization so I’m not cut off but far enough away from the bright lights and the noise where I can get a full night’s sleep. I haven’t made any definitive decisions yet- but this entire trip really felt like a step in the right direction for a lot of reasons (some very personal) so that is a hit as far as I’m concerned.

On Mother’s Day, while out in Western Massachusetts for a day of shopping with my darling mom- I picked up a couple of packets of these punch mixes at a farmer’s market/general store to make on the hotter days this Summer. I ended up making them as soon as I got home- and yeah, I’m addicted. So much, in fact- that I went back and bought a few more during one of my recent days off- some for myself and some to gift to friends for their respective cookouts and BBQs.

These things are refreshing, and can be made with or without alcohol (guess which I prefer!) I have a feeling I’ll be including a couple in an upcoming giveaway I have planned for the Summer and a blogging milestone.

Finally, I’m in the process of compiling a list of my favorite burger joints around the New England area (the most fun part being the field research, of course)– but I’ve also been actively working on perfecting the art of the burger, myself. I recently picked up this cookbook featuring some of Shake Shack’s most famous recipes and it. is. awesome. Seriously- they have everything. Burgers. Fries. Breakfast sandwiches. Milkshakes. I’ve been working my ass off all Winter/Spring to get into shape and I’m going to blow it for the sake of trying everything in this book- but it’s gonna’ be worth it.

I’m actually thinking of sharing one of my recipe attempts a little later on this week/over the weekend- so stay tuned!

And now, for a couple of things that couldn’t quite be photographed so easily:

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

– WWE: Okay, hear me out. When I was a kid- I desperately wanted to be like my two older brothers- who were the coolest as far as I was concerned. That included getting into what was then called the WWF and keeping a brave face on whenever either one of them would attempt to throw me in a figure four leg-lock or a Sharpshooter after every installment of Monday Night Raw or SmackDown! we’d watch together (I always tapped out, for the record. That shit is PAINFUL.)

My favorite wrestlers back then were undeniably Matt and Jeff Hardy- who recently made a triumphant comeback and thus caused me to sit down and tune in again. A group of my friends are still really into it, and have been giving me lessons on all the new faces and feuds I didn’t recognize- and I gotta’ say- it’s still wildly entertaining. I’ve been having a ball watching along- and now my brothers may be jumping back into it, too- which means I need to learn how to get out of a chokehold ASAP.

– “Wonder Woman”: While the movie hasn’t officially hit theaters yet, the early reviews are all fantastic so far- and I’ve been anticipating it’s release for a long time now. Coupled with some recent controversy over some “Women Only” screenings scheduled across the country- WW is looking to be the feminist movie us ladies need right now and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I might even go see it twice- just because.

I think that’s pretty much everything for May 2017’s “Hits List!”- it might not seem like much- but it’s all been helpful/fun.

Feel free to share your own favorites for the month of May!

xx

Quick Eats: Mom’s Swedish Meatballs

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My family and I are a pretty tight knit clan. We try to do things together as much as possible and are always in contact via phone/text/social media- although now that my brothers and I are grown up and aren’t all living under the same roof anymore- it sometimes makes it trickier to get together as often as we’d like- especially when we want to spend time with our mom.

Well, my mother concocted the 2-week dinner rule to avoid us becoming a family who only ever sees each other on holidays or at weddings/funerals. Every two weeks, without fail- we pick weeknight to meet at her house after we all get out of our respective jobs and she cooks for us like she did when we were kids (although the menu is a little more advanced than boxed macaroni & cheese or pizza these days.)

At our most recent meet-up- my mom made one of her specialty recipes, passed down to her by my grandmother and my great-grandmother- which I promptly stole to try making on my own.

If you don’t eat meat and/or don’t like mushrooms- this might not be the recipe for you- but I have a slow cooker and a handwritten note from my mom on how NOT to mess these up- so I was feeling pretty confident I could make her proud!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of celery soup- depending on the type of flavor you want!)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • Parsley flakes
  • 1/4 cup of minced onion
  • Salt (to taste)

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Combine 1/2 cup of water to your can of soup to thin the consistency.

2. Combine the ground beef with 1/4 cup of the cream of mushroom/celery soup.

3. Add the slightly beaten egg, the breadcrumbs, minced onion, parsley flakes and salt to your mixture.

4. Roll the beef into balls.

5. Brown slightly, and add remaining soup.

6. Cover the meatballs and let them simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes.

7. Serve and enjoy!

Listen, my mom might be one of the greatest cooks on the East Coast- but I think I did a pretty good job with these! They looked and tasted just like her version, and didn’t take long at all to prepare and cook up.

I served my version the way my mom usually does, too- with egg noodles and mixed vegetables. Not pictured? The basket of buttered biscuits she usually sets out for all of us to dig into whenever she cooks for us. I’ll remember it next time for sure!

And with all this talk about my mom’s cooking- I think now is as good a time as any to wish all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day this weekend! Whether you’re a seasoned veteran like my mom or this is your first Mother’s Day with a new baby- you’re awesome and I hope each and every single one of you have a great day (with lots of sweets!)

xx

Quick Eats: No-Bake Caramel Cheesecake Shooters

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I spent most of this past Saturday, a drizzly and dreary morning and afternoon- with a pretty powerful migraine and jaw ache following a routine cleaning at my dentist’s office. Whether it was the sound of the scraping or the uncomfortable angle I was positioned in on the chair, I’m not sure- but not even Ibuprofen could help me and I dreaded the thought of chewing anything solid for a few hours.

By the time late afternoon rolled around- I was feeling a little better- but my sweet tooth had been triggered. Not wanting to risk hurting my still-sore jaw with anything too crunchy (which meant cookies were out of the question)– I decided to try whipping up something soft and decadent and pulled up a recipe I’d had saved on my phone for a while now.

I love cheesecake- any variation of it- although making it from scratch can be a bit taxing. Thankfully, this 20-minute recipe gives you all of the taste with a fraction of the prep-time and leaves little to no mess at all!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Shooter glasses (I used 3 larger sized ones for this)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese (1 package)
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1 jar caramel sauce
  • 4.5 ounces of graham crackers
  • Whipped cream

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Crumble your graham crackers. I actually bought mine pre-crumbled (check your local store’s baking goods aisle to see if they have them!) but in case you can’t find any- it’s easy enough to just mash a whole bunch of graham crackers in a bowl.

2. Melt your butter in a separate bowl and then mix it with the crumbled graham crackers. Make sure all of your crumbs are coated with the butter.

3. Spoon a layer of the graham cracker crumb & butter mixture into the bottom of your shooter glasses. Be sure to try and get the top of the layer as flat as possible since you’re going to be adding more layers to this (and you’ll want to have plenty of room!)

4. In a separate bowl, add the cream cheese and 2/3 of the can of condensed milk. Mix together well. Once you’re finished- spoon a layer of this mixture to your shooter glasses on top of your graham cracker layer.

5. Repeat one layer of the graham cracker/butter mixture in your shooter glasses, and then another layer of your cream cheese/condensed milk mixture.

6. Using a small bowl, combine your caramel sauce with the remaining condensed milk and mix well. Pour this mixture into your shooter glasses to top them off.

7. Refrigerate the glasses for 1 hour.

8. Top the shooters with whipped cream (and if you have any graham cracker crumbs remaining- throw those on too!) and serve!

These came out really good. As soon as I dug into one with a spoon, all of the layers just combined perfectly and each bite had a little bit of everything- the caramel, the filling, and the graham cracker crust. So delicious!

I know I’ll be making these again the next time I have company over since they’re easy enough to prepare and would make a great party dessert when there’s a lot of people over. I may even add some chocolate to this recipe just to mix it up a little!

xx

Chocolate Bunnies, Marathons and Floral Arrangements…

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My Family’s Dessert Table – Easter, 2017

For as long as I can remember, Easter has never particularly been a holiday of significant importance to me. I can understand it’s value to those who recognize or honor it’s religious meaning- but once I was old enough to learn the Easter Bunny was just my mom or dad hiding plastic eggs filled with candy or money around the yard and not really the work of a seven foot tall rabbit- I stopped paying attention to anything more than Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and how itchy and uncomfortable the Spring dresses my mom would make me wear as a little kid to the day’s family functions/get-togethers were.

I digress. Every year, without fail- my family continues that time-honored tradition of gathering for a Thanksgiving-level feast at my mom’s house that starts in the early afternoon and doesn’t usually wrap up until much later on at night. We’re all usually catching up with one another (and there’s a lot of us, you best believe!) or watching sports between bites- and it’s always such a good time. This year was no exception. It was wonderful seeing my brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and my niece after a few long weeks or working non-stop.

Admittedly, this time of the year can also be a little tough for me now and then. I think of my dad a lot during time spent with my immediate and extended family- and how much fun we had when he was still here with us- and it was right around this time last year that things started falling apart with my ex, whom I actually saw and spent some time with a couple of weeks ago. We got along just fine (much to my amazement.)

But to distract myself from what I’ve dubbed the “Pre-Blossom Blues” (still waiting on the trees and flowers to catch up with the rest of the warm weather!) I’ve thrown myself into work and planning an impromptu trip to Vegas and San Diego next month to visit friends and enjoy some In-N-Out Burger during an extended cheat day from my diet. I’m really excited!

On Monday, following my food-coma wearing off- I did what most everyone in Boston was doing and jumped right into the Patriot’s Day celebrations and watching the Boston Marathon from the comfort of my air conditioned office with some take-out in hand with a few of my co-workers. Prior to the actual race, I was able to check out the course over the weekend when I headed down to Boylston Street in the dead of the night. There were a few other people walking the final stretch, as well- but the area was mostly filled with watchful police officers and crew setting up the last of the barricades along the runner’s route.

One of the officers was actually high-fiving people who were crossing the finish line. He gave me a supportive cheer as I leisurely crossed the line- throwing my arms up in victory as I did so- which is just one of the reasons why I love Boston as much as I do. Nearly everyone here just has such a fun sense of humor and buzzes with excitement and enthusiasm for events happening in or around the city.

I did it! In ripped jeans and impractical shoes at 11:30 p.m.- no less!

Someday I’ll run the marathon. Someday…

… Just kidding- but kudos to everyone who musters up the strength and the courage and trains their asses off to do it every year!

But for now, I’ve got some non-marathon-related work to get to!

On Friday, I’m going to be sharing my April POPSUGAR “Must-Have” Box (spoiler alert: it’s another good one!) and next week I’ll finally be posting a pretty cute and easy dessert recipe I picked up recently, reviewing some uh-may-zing hair care products, and going through my favorites for the month of April before I wrap it up and we head straight into May!

Have a great day, everyone!

xx

Quick Eats: Triple Chocolate Pancakes

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Don’t let the really, really chocolate-y photo above fool you- I admit I went a little crazy with the decorating- but I assure you that these pancakes taste amazing. For those of you who appreciate a good dessert for breakfast (or just need to satisfy a chocolate craving in a creative way)– then this is a must-try for you. This might be one of the quickest and most fun ways I’ve made pancakes in a long time- and you don’t need a ton of ingredients to whip them up, either!

I had originally thought I had some strawberries to garnish these mocha delights with to mix up the color and flavor palette a little bit, but it unfortunately looked like I was fresh out and had to improvise somewhat, instead. I used some chocolate whipped cream along the corners of the serving plates so that myself and my friends I was preparing these for could dip our bites in for an extra boost of chocolate and to lengthen the duration of our sugar high.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Chocolate syrup (optional)

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

2. To the bowl add milk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla.

3. Whisk together until almost all of the lumps are gone.

4. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and coat with butter or cooking spray.

6. Ladle 1/4 cup of the pancake batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles start to surface.

7. Flip pancake and cook for another 30 seconds or until brown.

8. Repeat with remaining pancake batter, top with chocolate syrup/powdered sugar/fresh fruit- and savor the goodness!

Between the mocha and vanilla flavors of the pancakes combining together, the chocolate syrup drizzle and the powdered sugar- this was the best way to start a long and lazy cheat day. I won’t admit how many of these I ate in one sitting (it was a lot, though) but it was worth it. These were so rich, so indulgent and so filling that I could barely move when it came time to clean up the kitchen afterwards.

I’ll definitely be making these again- and on a weekend- so that I can take a long nap once I’m done shoveling them into my face. They’re delicious!

xx

Quick Eats: Pan-Roasted Salmon and Vegetables

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by salmon recipes that didn’t turn out as well as you’d hoped. Everyone have their hands up? Okay, great- because I have good news. If you’re looking for a quick, easy, filling and tasty recipe that isn’t loaded with harmful or artificial ingredients- and don’t want the salmon included in it to be overcooked or, worse- undercooked and rubbery- then you’ve got to give this one a try! It’s pretty much impossible to mess up!

The asparagus in this recipe can actually be swapped out for different types of vegetables. Originally, I saw the salmon and potatoes combined with romaine lettuce- but since I had devoured a pretty big salad in the hours leading up to my making this- I thought the asparagus would be a nice change. I’ve also tried this with carrots and zucchini on two separate occasions and it came out just as good!

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes (or other bite-sized)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Four 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Your preference of asparagus spears

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; arrange in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.

3. Roast the potatoes in the oven until slightly golden and fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. While the potatoes roast, rub the asparagus spears with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the lemon juice. (*SIDE NOTE: you can steam the spears to soften them prior to roasting!*) Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. Brush the salmon fillets with the melted butter. Season each fillet with paprika and salt and pepper to taste.

6. Arrange the asparagus spears and salmon on the baking sheet with the potatoes. Continue roasting for 5 to 7 minutes more, until the lettuce is tender and the fish is cooked through.

7. To serve, divide the potatoes, romaine and salmon among four plates.

8 Enjoy!

I love the flavors in this dish. They all tasted so wonderful together and the meal was filling without making me feel like I was weighed down or like I’d eaten too much of a good thing. Most importantly- the salmon was cooked to perfection. It was flaky and juicy- not dried out or overtly crisp!

If you’re looking for something that tastes great and is loaded with nutrients- then this is a go-to dish for sure!

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xx

Quick Drinks: Starbucks’ Pink Drink

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If you’re addicted to Starbucks like I am- and also use Instagram as much as I do- then you would have noticed the #PinkDrink sensation that swept social media last Summer. The drink in question, Starbucks’ Strawberry Acai Refresher- replaces the water in the beverage with coconut milk- leaving a bright pink, creamy in texture and subtle sweet flavor, instead. The drink is refreshing on hot days and a nice change from strong espresso with it’s mild caffeine amounts on those mornings when I don’t necessarily want the coffee-jitters before I go into a meeting or anything.

Having been snowed in yesterday, and with tomorrow being Valentine’s Day- I thought I’d try my hand at making my own version of the “Pink Drink” since the color of the beverage reminds me of the impending romantic holiday and because I actually had all of the ingredients in my kitchen already. There are enough versions of the recipe floating around online by other enthusiastic fans of the beverage- so finding one wasn’t hard at all.

Please keep in mind that the ingredients can be tweaked and adjusted based on your preferences and tastes- so feel free to experiment a little! I know I did!

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 4 packs/teabags of acai berry tea (or regular green tea)
  • 1 cup hot boiling water
  • 1/2 cup white grape juice
  • 1-2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • Fresh sliced strawberries & blackberries
  • Agave nectar (optional)

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. In a 2 cup glass measuring cup add unwrapped tea packets. Pour hot water over the packets and let sit until cool. Squeeze out tea packets and discard them.

2. Pour white grape juice into the measuring cup with the tea.

3. Fill a glass with ice and add about 1 cup of the tea/grape juice mixture. Top off with the desired amount of coconut milk.

4. Add in sliced strawberries & blackberries and add in sweetener if desired.

5. Sit back, sip- and enjoy!

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I love this drink. It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and costs a fraction of the price to simply prepare it at home instead of buying one every day at Starbucks. I’m seriously addicted to coconut milk- and am looking for other ways to use it in the kitchen since it just tastes so good. Plus- these drinks are just as pretty on Instagram homemade as they are in a Starbucks cup- so get creative! I enjoyed sipping mine out of my mason jar drinking glasses I picked up a few months ago.

Even though we’re in the peak of Winter here in New England- and these beverages are served chilled- they’re still really good year-round. They’re refreshing and don’t leave you with a serious caffeine buzz- which make them ideal for an afternoon pick-me-up!

xx

Super Bowl Survival!

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superbowl51pats

via The Patriots’ Instagram account.

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! This weekend couldn’t come fast enough for me- not only because I have fun plans with friends tomorrow just outside the city- but because Sunday night is the Super Bowl! After last year’s devastating loss to the Broncos during the AFC Championship Game- The Patriots are taking on the Atlanta Falcons in Houston. It’s essentially considered a holiday here in New England- even though I have to be at work bright and early on Monday morning (not too thrilled about that one!)

I digress- it’s always a thrill when your team makes it all the way to the big game (and Lady Gaga is headlining the halftime show? Yasssssss!) so I took the necessary steps to guarantee the get-together I have planned goes off without a hitch. I’ve put together a short guide for anyone else looking for some pre-game tips and tricks so that they don’t get stuck in traffic, trampled in the grocery store while picking up that last minute bag of chips, or stranded in the back of a bar trying to peer over a bunch of other peoples’ heads to see the score on the TV everyone is crowded around.

And I’ve included a quick and delicious recipe for those who are looking for something a little different to munch on or serve guests!

THE SCREEN:

Nobody wants to crowd around a tiny TV to watch the game. That doesn’t mean you have to run out and purchase a huge flat-screen to appease everyone, but making sure everyone has a clear view of the score is pretty important. If the viewing situation or standards aren’t exactly up to par- the problem can easily be solved with a blank wall or by hanging up a sheet like my friend Stef did during the Patriots/Seahawks game a couple of years ago when she streamed the game through a projector synced up to her laptop and onto a wall she’d cleared in her living room. The picture was perfect, the sound was great- and everyone could see what was happening- even from the next room over while they were grabbing snacks.

I’ve heard of other scenarios where people have brought their own large TVs over to friends’ houses to set up for the game- which sounds like a lot of work- but desperate times call for desperate measures. If it comes to that: just make sure they arrive early enough to guarantee the TV is working properly. There’s nothing worse than getting no picture/static or no sound when you’re just a few minutes away from kickoff.

THE FOOD:

Okay, this is probably the most important thing. If you’re hosting your own Super Bowl party- then a half a bag of potato chips and some cheese slices just isn’t going to cut it. People are going to be amped up- and they’re going to get hungry. That doesn’t mean that you have to pay a small fortune for take-out (or wait 2 hours for the delivery person to arrive since you know they’re going to be SLAMMED with orders.) Go to your local market and pick up a couple of frozen pizzas. They take no time at all to cook up and they taste just fine. I promise you- no one is going to complain.

Stuck on appetizers? Check the frozen food section in the market while you’re there. A lot of stores take advantage of Super Bowl Sunday and have buy one/get one specials leading up to game day on frozen appetizers like mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings and loaded potato skins. Like the pizzas- you just toss them in the oven for a few minutes and they’re good to go. Serve them with some sour cream and marinara sauce and you’re all set!

I typically take advantage of the deli in my local market when it comes to snack foods for special occasions, too (i.e. my weekly ‘The Walking Dead’ feast when the show is back on.) I can get everything I need for a meat/cheese platter, cooked potato wedges, onion rings, tempura chicken, or salad kits for anyone coming over who might not be into the whole “Football Foods” thing.

Baked goods are also nice to have should anyone with a sweet tooth get a craving. Cookies, brownies and cupcakes are easy enough to bake/decorate or buy in bulk at the store. Right now my local market has some yummy looking chocolate TB12 cupcakes available in honor of Tom Brady.

Fair warning though: you need to get to the store today or tomorrow to avoid crazy lines or worse- the food selling out. It happens. Believe me.

If you do have time to whip something up, though- you can’t go wrong with a gigantic plate of nachos, some shrimp cocktail, or even something as simple as mixing up a couple of fresh dips or cheese balls to dunk your chips and crackers in. Below, I’ve included a recipe for buffalo cauliflower nuggets- a lighter alternative to hot wings in case you want to leave more room for pizza and potato skins.

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I love buffalo wings and I love cauliflower- and while browsing the web for some new snacks to incorporate into this coming Sunday’s menu- I came across this quick recipe that combines both things. If you want something light, spicy, and with just enough crispy goodness to satisfy your crunch-craving without filling you up- these are seriously awesome and worth checking out/trying.

You won’t regret it!

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Oil, as needed for frying
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • Buffalo/hot sauce
  • Bleu cheese dressing (for dipping)
  • Celery and/or carrot sticks (to serve with nuggets)

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Pour 2 to 3 inches of oil into a large sauté pan. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers on the surface and reads about 350°F on a thermometer. (Or you can test the oil with a piece of cauliflower: If it bubbles and stays at the surface after you drop it in the oil, then you’re good to go.)

2. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Whisk the eggs in a large, shallow bowl.

3. In another large, shallow bowl, whisk the flour with the garlic powder, salt and black pepper.

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4. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the cauliflower florets into the egg until they are well coated. Then dip them into the flour mixture and toss well to coat. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower.

5. Working in batches, fry the cauliflower until the pieces are evenly golden brown, 6 to 9 minutes. Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and drain on the prepared paper-towel-lined baking sheet.

6. Fill a small bowl with the buffalo/hot sauce. Add the fried cauliflower to the sauce and gently toss to coat.

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7. Serve the cauliflower immediately, hot, with the carrots and celery on the side and the blue cheese dressing for dipping.

8. Watch the game and enjoy!

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They taste incredible- and don’t make you feel too-full-to-function. I’ll be cooking up a fresh plate of these on Sunday!

THE ALCOHOL:

If your party is going to be 21+, then you’re going to need the proper amount of alcohol- which can be tricky if everyone likes to drink different things. I’ve found having a B.Y.O.B. rule works out well, so that everyone can bring enough of what they personally enjoy and you don’t have to foot what will surely be a very expensive liquor store bill- but it never hurts to have some spare booze and beer laying around. Just in case.

I keep it simple: a case of a generic beer/lager like Sam Adams, a 6-pack of something fruity/a hard cider (because there’s always someone who wants it), and a bottle of red and/or white wine for the non-beer drinkers. I try not to have too much hard liquor around during sporting events because you never know how someone’s going to react to the score when they’re 3 shots of whiskey or tequila in. If they want to bring it themselves, fine- but don’t throw up or break anything in my place because I WILL make you clean up after yourself/replace things.

And it goes without saying that there should always be one- if not more- designated drivers assigned to the party to make sure people get home safely. It’s also good to have an air mattress or a freed up couch available if someone has had too much to drink and cannot find a ride home so that they can crash somewhere familiar, warm and safe and sleep it off. Keep everyone’s car keys in a bowl so no one attempts to leave on their own after having one too many.

Also be sure that anyone not drinking alcohol have beverage options, too. Water, juice, soda- it’s good to stock up on a few different things so that everyone has something to chug while they’re eating their food.

Living in New England, I usually store the beverages in a cooler on my back porch to keep them really cold- but make sure you have plenty of ice- just in case. The weather and temperatures can get really unpredictable here and it might be warmer outside than anticipated this Sunday.

(via Pinterest)

(via Pinterest)

THE DECOR:

You don’t need to have every single inch of your living room covered with your team’s logo. Implementing their team colors in your decor is good enough- I promise. Pick up some paper/plastic plates, cups and utensils in one color- and then mix it up by adding paper napkins in the other hue. If you want to go a little further without having to blow up one of those gigantic inflatable football players on your front porch/lawn, you can always buy inexpensive paper tablecloths with your team’s logo on them to stack the utensils, food and beverages on. The whole theme here is convenience and everything being easy to clean up and dispose of once the game and the party are over for the night.

You don’t want to be up ’til 2 a.m. taking down color-coordinated Christmas lights or popping a bunch balloons or anything, do you?

Window decals and streamers also liven things up, but again- it’s not necessary to go overboard. People are going to be focusing on three things and three things only: the game, the food, and the beverages. They aren’t going to mind if you don’t have an ice sculpture carved into the likeness of your team’s quarterback sitting in the middle of your table.

THE WARDROBE:

Listen, it’s Super Bowl Sunday- not Fashion Week- and wearing leggings and an oversized team jersey is not only allowed, but encouraged. You’re going to be savoring some serious junk food, probably having some alcohol, and stressing out about the score. You don’t want to be uncomfortable, do you? Sport your team’s colors with pride- but don’t worry about having the perfect hair, makeup, or manicure.

Me? I’m shamelessly throwing on my Gronkowski t-shirt with my favorite pair of navy blue jeggings and a Patriots sweatshirt so I can move around and eat as much as I want. Since the Super Bowl is in Houston, I don’t think incorporating some cowboy boots into the ensemble is all that bad, either. How cute are these brown, knee-high equestrian boots from KING RANCH SADDLE SHOP, for example?

(via King Ranch Saddle Shop's website.)

(via King Ranch Saddle Shop’s website.)

Those are seriously my favorite types of boots to wear with jeggings. It’s like the perfect mix of cowgirl and comfort- and they match pretty much everything.

As long as you’re comfortable- that’s all that matters. Even if you show up to the party in a pair of fleece pajama pants with your team’s logo printed all over them and a hoodie- at least you’re still showing some spirit!

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And there you have it! My guide to hosting (and more importantly- enjoying) a stress-free Super Bowl party. No sweating the time, no pulling your hair out over the decorations, and no sink full of dirty dishes to take care of in the morning. Just a few easy and inexpensive methods to making sure everyone is fed, quenched, and ready to cheer and shout at the TV for a couple of hours.

Best of all? You might even have leftovers for Monday, too!

If you have Super Bowl Survival tips of your own- feel free to share them!

Have a safe weekend, everyone! Go Pats!

xx