5.30.2014

Girls Trip to Cabo San Lucas


A few weeks ago my girlfriends from Chicago & I did the unthinkable. We actually managed to plan a long weekend in Cabo together.  We all have hectic schedules with work (well not me currently) & babies (again, not me) but since we started planning this trip almost a year ago, we were able to make it work. Though we've been back for a few weeks, the trip was one of the highlights of my hiatus & I wanted to share it with you!


We stayed at The Riu Palace, an all inclusive resort.  The grounds were STUNNING.  This was the view from our room.


There were multiple pools, including a swim up bar.


Because we chose to go to Mexico in May, it was HOT so we spent most of our time in the pools. How rough for us.


When we weren't in the pool, this guy kept us cool.


The hotel had a few bars & with it being an all inclusive, we took advantage. A lot.


We also decided to venture out & do some activities. Up first was a sunset booze cruise. 


Our vessel for the evening:


Unfortunately for me, my stomach was really not a fan & I spent most of the cruise with my eyes shut. But whatever,  I still had fun!

The next day we decided to conquer our fears & went parasailing. That is me up there.


We we are quite thrilled to have survived.


That afternoon, Laura & I decided to explore a bit in town.


We found some great souvenirs & both haggled at the flea market!


Overall, I had such a blast with my girls. I don't get to see these ladies often, so it was nice to have 4 quality days with them. Before we left, we wanted a beach picture of course.


And then my friends got the idea to stick their feet in the ocean. Since I can do that whenever I wanted, I stayed back along with Jess.  Well, then the ocean went & ate my friends. Poor girls went home with soaked clothes.


Now, a disclaimer. While we had an absolute BLAST, we were a little disappointed with the resort. The food, though plentiful, was just OK & the beds/sheets weren't comfortable, but we also paid approx. $400 (a piece) total for 3 nights.  So for a girls getaway it was awesome. Is it a place I would go with my significant other? Probably not.


The trip was such a success, on our last night we already began planning on next getaway next summer. I can't wait!
















5.23.2014

Bathroom Remodel: The Beginning

Say goodbye to EVERYTHING you see in this photo!
Eeeek! When we first bought our townhouse, I knew there would be a lot of projects & I was excited for them. I loved the idea of re-doing everything to make it my our exact tastes.  The first month we re-did the flooring, painted all the walls, new blinds & 5 new lighting fixtures. And let me clarify, when I say "we" I mean, we hired professionals to do the work. Let's be real here.  We also had plans to re-do the kitchen & both bathrooms, but knew those were hefty projects that would have to wait.

Well the time has come & we are officially re-doing the master bath this summer!  I know, you're all SO excited for me us.   Anyways, I found this company called One Week Bath.  The name should explain it all.  Essentially, after filling out a questionnaire on your project, you meet with a design consultant, take measurements & pick out EVERYTHING. I'm talking picking out details like grout color. The meeting takes about 4.5 hours & then you are given an exact cost of the remodel. From there, they buy everything & once your entire bathroom is in & in their warehouse (approx. 6-8 weeks after the design mtg), then they begin the demo/remodel & are done in ONE WEEK. This seemed like a dream scenario. Not that I don't want my bathroom being worked on for a month, but for the sake of my neighbors, this sounds perfect.  So, I had my design meeting & I wanted to share just a glimpse of some things I picked out.  We're going for a sleek & modern look.  Since our colors are very cool, I'm now on the hunt for some bright & vibrant art to give that little pop it needs. Have a color suggestion? I'd love to hear it.  My design consultant Sarah calls our design "bitchin"…WOO!




Blanton White Rectangle Vessel Sinks. Found Here. (Ignore the faucet)

For our shower/fixtures we're going with the Moen Align Collection in Chrome.
2 Shower heads, of course are necessary for your new stand alone glass shower.


OBSESSED with these Robe Hooke

Towel Bars/"Paper Holder"


Lighting from Lamps Plus. Found Here

That's about it for now. I won't share the boring details like the toilet but I couldn't be MORE excited to get this project going. It looks like we will start the actual remodel at the end of July…just in time to go back to work of course. Perfect timing :) 




5.22.2014

My Memorial Day Musts



It's almost the long weekend!!! I know you working types are looking forward to it.  This weekend J, the pooches & I are heading up to our friends cabin in Big Bear for a weekend of hiking, eating & a LOT of relaxing.  With the holiday weekend quickly approaching, I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes that are perfect whether you're spending it next to a pool, grilling with friends or just hanging out with your dog (yes, I've done that). These recipes are simple to throw together & will be sure to please a crowd (or your dog).  I will be trying some new recipes this weekend & as my friend Matt so brilliantly came up with,  will be posting a Chaos in the Cabin edition next week with some new recipes!

If you decide to make any of the recipes below, please let me know what you think/if you have any feedback! I encourage you to leave comments on the post! Thanks all!














Chilled Taco Dip
Serves: 8-10
Cook Time: 40 mins














Crescent Veggie Pizza
Serves: 15-20
Cook Time: 25 mins














Cool Veggie Dip
Serves: 15-20
Cook Time: 10 mins














Creamy Cheesy Artichoke Bread
Serves: 12-15
Cook Time: 45 mins














Flank Steak Tacos
Serves: 4
Cook Time: 3 hours (2.5 hours for meat to marinate)











Balsamic Glazed Steak Rolls
Serves: 8
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 mins (plus a few hours for meat to marinate)














Hawaiian Marinated Chicken Kabobs
Serves: 4
Cook Time: 40 mins (marinate meat overnight)












Blackberry Cobbler
Serves: 6
Cook Time: 35 mins














Patriotic Strawberries
Serves: 20
Cook Time: 20 mins (plus 1 hour to refrigerate)














Italian Pasta Salad
Serves: 8-10
Cook Time: 20 mins (plus 1 hour to refrigerate)





5.21.2014

Honey Chicken Salad with Grapes & Feta


Now that hiatus has really sunk in, I've discovered that I'm not very good at coming up with inspiring lunches that are healthy, quick to put together & actually taste good. I've always loved chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad, pasta salad, macaroni salad…I could go on & on. When this recipe came across my homepage on Pinterest I was intrigued by the name. Sure, I've had chicken salad with grapes, but never with feta or honey. After scanning the original recipe from Pinch of Yum it seemed relatively easy & healthy, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I have to admit I was skeptical because normally what draws me to salads is the creamiest. I love mayo, what can I say?  I have to admit, I didn't miss the mayo AT ALL. Now, the original recipe calls for wheat berries…I'm not entirely sure what those are, so I opted to leave them out.  The recipe also called for lemon dressing. After checking 2 grocery stores all I could find was a lemon marinade, so I swapped out the dressing & added just a little lemon juice. I am IN LOVE with my version of this recipe. It is light, FULL of flavor & was so easy to make.  I opted to eat this straight out of the bowl, but a scoop on some salad would be AMAZING.  This will definitely become a summer staple for us!






Serves: 6
Cook time: 30 mins plus 1 hour of fridge time
How difficult was this for me? Easy!


1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 2)
2.5 cups of grapes, chopped in half (1 bunch)
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vinegar
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup Feta cheese
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add chicken breasts & let boil for 25 mins, or until cooked thoroughly.

While the chicken is cooking, chop the grapes & green onions.

In a small bowl,  whisk together the honey, salad dressing, lemon juice, vinegar & water.

Once chicken is cooked through with no pink on the inside, shred. I shred chicken using two forks.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, dressing, grapes, fets & green onions. Mix thoroughly.

Fridge for an hour. Before serving, give the chicken another toss since most of the dressing will have fallen to the bottom. 

Serve!






5.14.2014

Guacamole with Mango





So, tomorrow I'm heading to Cabo with some girlfriends of mine who live in Chicago. I cannot WAIT to see my girls & spend the next 3 days soaking up some sun at the pool (because there is never sun in LA), have some cocktails & spend some quality time with some of my favorite people. In the spirit of Mexico, I thought I'd share an interesting twist to guacamole. Back in December, J & I went downtown to go ice skating & before we skated, we ate at this awesome Mexican restaurant, Mas Malo. For an appetizer, we ordered the guacamole. I must not have been paying attention to the menu because when it arrived, it was topped with pomegranate arils! I LOVE pomegranate, but I was unsure about the sweetness & texture being combined with mashed avocado. Holy hell, it was SO good!  I made a mental note to pick up some pomegranate the next time I made my favorite guacamole.  Fast forward a few months, my friends decide to have a pool party & what goes better with a pool party than guacamole! While picking up the necessary ingredients I went searching for the pomegranate and OF COURSE, the grocery store is out. It just so happens that pomegranate is not currently in season.  Still feeling the need to spice up the guac a bit, or sweeten it up, I thought mango could be an interesting substitution. I chopped just one generous slice up & had J try it. He loved it & turns out so did my friends.  So, below is my Classic Guacamole recipe with the added mango. As soon as pomegranate comes back in season I'll have to make the substitute!






Serves: 4
Cook time according to me: 20 mins
How difficult was this for me? Easy!






3 Avocados, mashed
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 jalapeƱos, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
2 limes
1/4-1/2 cup mango, diced (start with 1/4 cup & if you want to add more, go up to 1/2 cup)
Handful cilantro
Kosher salt to taste

Combine everything in a giant bowl & mix well.


Fridge for 10 mins & enjoy!


5.12.2014

Skinny Slow Cooker Chicken Parm Sandwiches


OK, I know what you're thinking. How could THAT delicious looking sandwich be considered "skinny"…well I'll tell you, it's not. OK, most of it is. Everything except the bread is actually quite healthy & low in cal. That gooey mozzarella goodness you see is actually low-fat cheese. Under the cheese (minus a little sprinkling of parmesan) is simply chicken, vegetables & seasonings.  No oil & no breading (on the chicken that is) like you would normally find on & in chicken parm.  



The ciabatta bread I used was freshly baked & in my opinion worth every single calorie. But you could easily skip the bread if you're looking to keep it extra healthy & eat this with a fork out of a bowl because it is just that tasty. Besides being insanely good, did you see the part where it's cooked in the slow cooker? The two most beautiful words on the planet: slow. cooker.   My only complaint with this meal? It made enough to serve an ARMY! 


Tonight was night 3 & we STILL have more left, so to shake it up a bit, I made some pasta to try with the chicken. It was AWESOME & a welcomed change.  If you aren't serving this to a big crowd & you don't want to eat this for a week, I suggest halving the recipe below. Big thanks to Food Family Finds for this awesome recipe!

Serves: 8
Cook time: 6 hours 
How difficult was this for me? SO easy!

29 ounces tomato sauce
14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes
12 ounces tomato paste
2 cups sweet yellow onion, finely diced
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
4 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped (about 6 leaves)
4 (thawed) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper
sliced or shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
grated parmesan
bread of choice for sandwiches. I used ciabatta 

Start the slow cooker on low heat. Add in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes & tomato paste. Stir until combined.


Add onions, garlic, oregano & basil. Stir

Set chicken breast on top of sauce & season with salt & pepper. Cook on low for 5 hours & 30 mins.


Remove chicken from the slow cooker & shred. 


Place the shredded chicken back into the crock pot & let cook on low for another 30 mins.


While shredded chicken continues to cook, turn on oven to broil (500 degrees)

Once the chicken is ready, place bread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle parmesan on the inside of the top of the bread.  Scoop chicken onto sandwich then top with a slice of mozzarella.  

Broil sandwich open faced for 3 mins. Keep a close eye because the cheese will burn quickly. 


Place bread tops on sandwich & serve immediately.

Tip: slice your sandwich carefully, otherwise it will look like this: