Top 5 Favorite Registry Items

Hey there!  I was talking to Laura the other day about how when she gets married, she needs to consult me on what to put on her registry, because I had a couple of things that were my absolute favorites.  You really don’t need to wait until you get married to get these things, but if you are putting together a registry, I highly recommend them!  Or, if you are struggling to figure out what to get someone, here is a great start.  These items have a wide range of prices, so you should definitely find something to fit your budget!  I registered at Macys and Bed Bath and Beyond, so that is why the links will take you there, but I’m sure that you can get lots of these things other places.  Also, if you do get them at Macy’s or BB&B, PLEASE use a coupon or wait for them to be on sale.  There is no need to waste your hard earned money 🙂 While watching the items on my registry, I noticed that Macy’s puts almost everything on sale at some point, and most of the items go on and off every few weeks.  If you can wait, just watch for a week or two and I bet the price will drop!

Feel free to share your favorite items in the comments, I would love to hear your opinions!

1. Stainless Steel Non-Skid Mixing Bowls

Ticket price – $39.99

I use these bowls in nearly everything I make.  The size variation is awesome because I can use them from everything from beating scrambled eggs to tossing and serving a dinner salad.  I like that they come in a set of 3 because I often use more than one at once.  They clean up really easily, and I even put them in the dishwasher when I’m feeling really lazy. (photo credit Macys.com)

2. KitchenAid Stand Mixer

Ticket Price – $499.99

Don’t be scared off by the ticket price on this baby… First, the price is variable.  I believe I have seen it closer to $350 a time or two.  Also, it is well worth it.  I expect my mixer to last just as long as my marriage – the rest of my life!  The attachments are convenient, but I mostly use the regular mixing attachment pictured in the front.  Recipes that I used to dread are made easy by this awesome machine!  I have even used it to shred chicken.  That discovery saves me about 15 minutes of painstaking shredding each time.  Again, I sometimes put these parts in the dishwasher also.  I wouldn’t put the whisk attachment in there, but everything else seems to do okay. I ‘m all about the easy cleanup! (photo credit Bedbathandbeyond.com)

3. Bamboo Utensils Set

Totally Bamboo 6-Piece Bamboo Utensil Set

Ticket Price – $5.99

No, that wasn’t a typo. These are really under six dollars for six pieces.  They’re great because you can use them to serve, mix, stir, etc.  They don’t damage our nonstick pans.  The bamboo is moisture resistant, so you don’t have to worry about bacteria or them not coming clean.  Speaking of clean, guess how we clean these??? You guessed it – the dishwasher! (photo credit Bedbathandbeyond.com)

4. Corningware Bakeware

Ticket Price – $79.99

To give you an idea of how good of a deal you can get on some of this stuff, this bakeware set is currently on sale for $49.99 with an additional 10% off.  Please don’t pay full price.  Anyways, I will get off of my thrifty soap box.  Unfortunately, the exact set that I have is no longer available, but this set is similar.  The key here is the plastic and glass lids.  The glass ones are for going in the oven and the plastic ones are for storing it after.  The best thing about these dishes is that they serve triple duty – You can bake in them, then put them on a hot pad right onto the table and serve from them, then, once they cool, pop on the plastic lid and you have air tight fridge storage for leftovers.  Win!  It also helps that they go really well with our dishes, which brings me to #5… (photo credit Bedbathandbeyond.com)

5. Dishes Set

Mikasa® Antique White 42-Piece Dinnerware Set

Ticket Price – 8 place setting for $199.99

These dishes are the ones that I picked, and I am in love with them.  However, I’m not trying to sell you on this specific set.  I just want to sell you on the importance of getting some nice cohesive dishes that you really like.  I love having people over and using real (not plastic or paper) plates that all match.  I prefer the simple classic look of these (and I anticipate them being suitable for years to come due to their simple appearance), but choose what you like! And, if you don’t have the funds for an entire set, get 4 or so place settings, so you can have a sit-down meal with 4 people and all have the same dishes.  These specific dishes are great because they can go in the oven (great for keeping pancakes warm), the freezer (good for cooling down something you over-heated), the microwave & the dishwasher (do you really think I would’ve picked them out if they couldn’t go in there?? Come on!!) (photo credit Bedbathandbeyond.com)

What are your favorite grown-up kitchen and entertaining items? I would love to hear about them!

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Week Night Meal Planning: Week 1

Monday: Burgers.

Burgers from Faith Filled Food for Moms

Burgers from Faith Filled Food for Moms

What better way to kick off summer than with some grilled burgers? I suggest getting a family/club pack of ground beef (I use 80/20) and making extras to keep in the freezer.  This summer, frozen burgers have taken the place of frozen pizza as our go-to dinner on nights when we are short on time or motivation to cook.  They’re easy and reliably delicious.  Check out Faith Filled Food For Moms for some DIY burger guidance. Keep things interesting with your favorite toppings.  We use a variety of sauces: ketchup, whole grain mustard, BBQ sauce, Aioli, etc.  We also top with lettuce, bacon, avocado, and of course, cheese!

Tuesday: Chicken Fried Rice.

Chicken Fried rice from Cooking Classy

Chicken Fried Rice from Cooking Classy

This quick and easy dinner is also so very tasty!  Cheaper than take out, this dish is nearly as quick.  Sometimes we make General Tso’s to go with plain fried rice when we are feeling really ambitious, but that has resulted in many a smoky kitchen and fire alarms blaring.  Today we will keep it simple with the chicken fried rice.  Find the recipe at Cooking Classy.

Wednesday: Quesadillas.

Cheesy Avocado Quesadillas from Damn Delicious

Cheesy Avocado Quesadillas from Damn Delicious

Another quick and yummy meal? I’ll take it!  These quesadillas from Damn Delicious are packed with protein (beef), fiber (refried beans), and healthy fats (avocado).  I season the beef myself with a mixture of oregano, garlic powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to cut down on sodium, but a packet of taco seasoning works well in a pinch (or if you don’t feel like starting a spice collection).  Cook the quesadillas in a pan to avoid heating your house up during the hot summer months! Or, if you’re feeling really daring, try throwing them on the grill on a sheet of foil.  Bonus points if you mix and match your own ingredients!

Thursday: Grilled Chicken.

Chipotle Honey Grilled Chicken with Avocado Sauce

Chipotle Honey Grilled Chicken with Avocado Sauce

This chipotle honey grilled chicken from The Iron You is healthy and delicious!  The spicy chipotle peppers go wonderfully with the creamy, cool avocado sauce.  Try it with a salad or some Alexia sweet potato fries.

Friday: Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Quinoa.

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Quinoa

What better day to come home and have dinner ready than a Friday? Ok… maybe Monday would be better.  But Friday is good too! Dinner is made so we can just come home, walk the dog and chill out, or scarf down dinner before we go out and be social… Most likely the prior. Anyway, this cheesy casserole from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen is easy and yummy! I’m going to use whole chicken breasts and put them raw in the slow cooker.  I’ll shred them when we get home and leave it on to cook for a little while longer… yum!

Top 7 Timeless Summer Accessories

Classic Summer Accessories (3)

If you are anything like me, you like nice things.  Unfortunately for us, we don’t always have the funds to have everything we want.  I feed my need for quality items by purchasing things that are elegant and classic, so they last season after season rather than becoming out of style in a few months.  I’ve compiled a list of my personal favorite summer accessories.  For me, these are the things worth investing in.  In fact, I own every single one of these summer staples, and have used each one for two or more years now.

1. Metallic and Leather Flip Flops

Okay, this is the only item out of the bunch that I have had to purchase more than once.  That is usually because I run them into the ground nearly each season.  If you ask me, these can be dressed up or down, perfect for the beach or an evening out on the town.  Choose a pair that is extremely comfortable and you will find yourself slipping them on nearly every time you walk out your door!

2. Single Pearl and Gold Necklace

I have had this necklace since I was in my aunt’s wedding when I was ten years old.  It’s still a classic and I wear it almost every day.  Less dressy than an entire strand of pearls, it is much more versatile.  I have received countless complements on it and it is my go-to jewelry selection!

3. Light Cross-body Purse

Summer is a time of adventures, concerts, baseball games, and strolls in the city.  Who wants a big clunky purse weighing them down?  Admittedly, I do still use my “luggage” sized purse for every day, but I love having this as my weekend go-to.  I throw in my wallet, phone, and a lip gloss and am good to go!  I don’t have to worry about bumping into people in crowds or having my arm weighed down.  The light color makes it summery and fresh, but the neutral allows it to go with almost every outfit I can dream up.

4. Nude and Rose Gold Chunky Watch

I bought a rose gold watch with a nude face as a present to myself a few years ago.  It’s still in style and I still love it just as much as I did when I first got it!  I kind of like having something heavy on my wrist when I’m wearing short sleeves or sleeveless.  Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I like to think the rose gold makes me look more tan!

5. Nude Nail Polish

Okay, so maybe I use this all year round, but nude polish is my go-to for finger nails.  It is very forgiving when it comes to chipping and it blends my stubby little nails into my skin to make them look a little longer.  The nude is classic and sophisticated and appropriate for every occasion.

6. Super Bright Pink Nail Polish

Even though I go conservative on my finger nails, I like to add a pop of color on my toes!  I am a huge fan of bright magenta/pink.  It goes with practically everything and I think it makes my toes look sexy!

7. Tortoiseshell Ray-Ban’s

I just got these last summer and I am so in love! Would you believe that last summer I was one of those people who said I would never get designer sunglasses because they would just get scratched/lost/sat on?  Well I was.  That was until I realized I could use my vision insurance to get my prescription lenses in a pair of Ray-Ban frames and get them paid for.  That changed my mind!  I wear these every single day and I absolutely adore them.  The tortoiseshell makes them just a little feminine and the wayfarer style is always a classic!

Okay, so those are my must-haves!  They’re so flexible and go with nearly every outfit, so not only do they last summer after summer, but I wear them nearly every day.  What are your favorite summer classics?

Pottery Barn Nautical Living Room – “The Look for Less”

nautical living room inspiration-titleCoastal Look for Less

According to recent surveys, 85.3% of people wish their home looked like a Pottery Barn catalog.  Ok… I totally made up that statistic, but it’s probably true!  I love the classic PB style, but unfortunately it doesn’t exactly fit into my budget at this point.  This coastal living room was truly an inspiration!  I recreated the look by using similar items with budget-friendly price tags.

Total of all listed Items is about $1400 — vs. over $3000 for the PB look-a-likes!

Saucy Turkey Meatloaf

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Ok, so I  know the term ‘meatloaf’ may be a turn off for some, but bear with me!  The first time I made this Pro requested I add it to the rotation — his sign of approval!  The sauce here really makes it, so make sure you don’t omit it!

Ingredients:

Meatloaf:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup frozen spinach 
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic (or 2 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 Tbsp worcestershire 
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard (I used chipoltle)
  • 1/8 tsp (or a few shakes) nutmeg

Instructions:

1) Saute garlic, frozen spinach, and mushrooms until the spinach is wilted and fully thawed and the mushrooms seem cooked through.

2) Mix all other meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in sauteed vegetables.

3) Dump contents of bowl onto sprayed baking sheet (I suggest one with sides as things may get juicy!)

4) Spread meatloaf with a fork into a rectangle shape so it is approximately 1 1/2″ thick.

5) Put the loaf into the oven at 350°F.

6) Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.  Take the loaf back out of the oven and spread the sauce evenly over the top and sides.

7) Put the loaf back into the oven and bake it for a total of approximately 30-35 minutes, until it is brown all the way through and no longer pink.  Let it rest for 10 minutes, then ENJOY!!

Review: Wegmans Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix

Don’t get me wrong- I am all for homemade. If I can make something from scratch, I prefer to do it that way.  However, sometimes the time just isn’t there. In this case, it was Wegmans to the rescue! Sadly there are no Wegmans anywhere near me, but Hillary sent me a care package including this Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix! 

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I had an event I wanted to take cookies to, and these were a snap to whip up. All you need to add is 6 Tbsp butter, and 1 egg.  I also added a splash of vanilla extract, because why not?

They came out soft and chewy, and were really good plain, just out of the oven. ( I may have eaten two… oops).  

ImageI decided to experiment with what else I could do with these to dress them up a little, since I didn’t have any coarse sugar to put on top. Christmas is just a mere two and a half weeks away, and I just happened to have this on hand…

ImageNeedless to say, this turned these plain sugar cookies into a festive treat that was SO tasty!

They were a big hit, even among the non-gluten-free eaters at the party, and a nice festive touch to the evening. 

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Overall rating: 5 out of 5!

This cookie mix was easy, delicious, and seems really versatile. I can’t wait to experiment more with variations and recipes for this mix.  

 

 

 

Easy "Cheater" Guacamole

20131121-212336.jpg So believe it or not, I never tried guacamole until my sophomore year of college. Why, you might ask? Onions, of course! When I finally tried it, I loved it! And then I didn’t eat it again for two years. It was that long until I figured out an easy, no-appliances-needed way to make a relatively delicious version of my own! It’s really simple and only has five ingredients, three of which I’m guessing you already have on hand. Avocado, Rotel, garlic, salt and pepper–that’s why I call it ‘cheater’ — you don’t even have to cut up the veggies!  

The most difficult part of this recipe for me is using the avocado at the peak ripeness. I always jump the gun and it’s too hard or wait too long and it’s brown and icky inside. Ok sometimes I get it right but usually not quite. Anyway, the first thing you do is cut open the avocado. Take out the pit and then scrape the inside into a bowl. Mash it up with a fork against the side of the bowl.  Pro likes to use the bottom of a glass to mash it. If you have a blender or good processor, I would imagine this would be a good use for it! Next, drain the Rotel and mix some of it into the avocado. I usually use about a half to a third of a can per avocado. Add garlic. I use minced garlic in oil out of a jar (Wegman’s brand) because I find it easier and have terrible knife skills, but you can definitely use fresh if you prefer. Probably even garlic powder, but I’ve never done that so try it at your own risk 😉 add salt and pepper to taste, then stir until it is evenly dispersed.

20131121-220919.jpgThere you have it! It’s that easy! Enjoy with veggies or tortilla chips. I will admit I’ve had a few dinners consisting completely of this guac and chips and wine. Also I will now shamelessly plug Aldi’s tortilla chips. Pictured here: 

20131121-220652.jpg They cost $1.19 for an entire bag! No joke. Also they are really good. A little thin so sometimes break while dipping, but for a third of the cost of name brand? I’ll take them!!

 Enjoy!!!