Monday, April 30, 2012

April Favorites

Happy Monday, friends! I feel like a broken record, but I can't believe that April is over. I know I'm not the only one - this morning, my husband drank out of a milk carton with a sell by date of April 17th, thinking that was weeks away.  Yes, my bad for not throwing it out sooner. But seriously, where did this month go?

Anyway, I'm really excited about sharing this month's favorites. They're all over the board, from beauty to bourbon. This month I'm loving:
1. Zoya Nail Polish
I got a really cute minty green color of Zoya in my Birchbox this month. This brand doesn't have any harmful chemicals, and the colors are adorable. Check them out at

2. Lulu's Organic Hair Powder
For those mornings when you don't have time to wash, dry & style your hair. This has been a lifesaver many mornings in a row (don't judge). Plus, it's made without talc, a chemical in many dry shampoos that may have carcinogenic properties. Buy here.

3. Chalkboard Herb Pots
I saw these adorable herb pots at Crate & Barrel and I'm in love. I want to buy a couple and line them up on my windowsill. Buy here.

4. Summery Bourbon Drinks
My Kentucky trip to the Bourbon Trail this weekend did not disappoint & I'm loving summery specialty bourbon cocktails. I pinned this strawberry basil bourbon spritzer a while ago, and I can't wait to make it. Check out the recipe here.

5. Picture Perfect Eco-Friendly Tank
Shop Ruche has an adorable lineup of eco-friendly clothes and home items. This tank is my favorite.  The combination of stripes and brights, with a throwback to color blocking is summer perfection. Check out the whole collection here.

And in honor of Earth Day, which was earlier this month, check out this great blog post on 6 Non-Extreme Habits for Eco-Eaters. I love her outlook of doing what you can to be more environmentally conscious.

Is there anything that you've been obsessed with lately?

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Bliss

Photo Source: my amazing friend, Lauren Owen.

I am so excited to follow some bliss this weekend, all the way in Kentucky. My husband & I are visiting the Bourbon trail with some dear friends. I'm so excited for time with husband & friends, the rolling green hills, bluegrass hospitality, and the chocolate bourbon balls that I hear are everywhere. mmm.

Then in two weeks I'm chasing down even more bliss, by going to see Newsies and Evita in NYC. I have a life-long love of the movie Newsies (case in point, the incriminating photo below), so seeing it on Broadway is the ultimate dream.

My college roommie Lindsay & I being awesome in our newsies hats.
I can't wait to eat & drink my way through both. Does anyone have restaurant recommendations for Lexington or NYC? Please share! xo.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brunches & Babies

It's Spring, which means it's the start of baby and bridal shower season! A couple of my best friends have just had (super adorable) babies, but they live out of state, so we've had some really fun meet-the-baby brunches when they come back in town.  I feel so lucky to have the best group of friends & moms, who put on the most amazing parties & showers. Here are some pics - try not to overdose on baby cuteness - and some recipes for the perfect brunch dishes.
Meeting Ryan. Alana (to my left) & I have been friends since 3rd grade. 
All the moms and daughters.
Meeting Parker. Colby (to my right) & I have been BFF since we were 5.

I'm an auntie!
Below is the spread from one of the brunches. If you are planning a brunch, you have to try this recipe for the egg & cheese souffle casserole. Its super easy to make and almost sinful in how delicious it is. We just make it on special occasions, since it is heavy in butter and cheese. To add in something on the healthy side, try the butter lettuce salad with bacon and hazelnuts. The bacon helps the salad fit in well with other breakfast dishes & bacon is fine to eat occasionally - just make sure you buy it with no nitrites added.

Clockwise from top: egg souffle, salad, fresh fruit, french toast.
Egg Souffle Casserole
Serves 8
10 slices white bread, buttered (unsalted butter) and cubed
3/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt

Layer bread, cheese, bread, cheese in a 2 quart casserole dish. Mix eggs and milk with seasonings. Pour over bread mixture. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight. Pull out of fridge 1 hour prior to baking. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Serve immediately.

Butter lettuce salad with hazelnuts, bacon and sherry vinaigrette
(adapted from LA Times article on Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza & La Brea Bakery)
Serves 4 - 6

Sherry Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to aste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the shallots, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine.  Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to combine.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed.  This makes about 1/3 cup vinaigrette, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe.  Use the vinaigrette or transfer it to an airtight container (like a clean jelly jar) and refrigerate up to 3 days.  Bring to room temperature before serving or using.

Salad and Assembly:
6 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon (optional)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
Kosher salt
2 heads butter lettuce
Sherry vinaigrette
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Gorgonzola dolce cheese (optional)

1. Adjust the oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 325 degrees
2. Lay the bacon on a baking sheet and cook until it's done about 17-22 minutes depending on thickness of bacon. Remove the bacon from the oven, drain on paper towels, then cut each strip into four pieces.
3. At same time, scatter the hazelnuts on another baking sheet and place them in oven until golden brown and fragrant about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven. When cool enough to touch, place inside clean dishtowel and rub them together inside to remove the skins.  Place the hazelnuts in a small bowl and sprinkle with a touch of salt.
4. Remove any bruised outer leaves from lettuce heads, & break the remaining leaves off from the core.  Wash lettuce and spin dry.  Place the dry lettuce into a large bowl.  Season the lettuce with some kosher salt.  (This is important)  Then drizzle with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and 1 tablespoon of the fresh lemon juice.  Toss the lettuce very gently with the dressing and ensure it binds to the leaves.
5. Plate lettuce leave on salad plates,  divide bacon and hazelnuts equally onto each salad.

6. If desired, sprinkle a little Gorgonzola cheese on each plate for extra flavor.

Enjoy! xo.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Tips: Drink Up

Image Souce: Pinterest

Let’s continue on the water theme, shall we? Last week I wrote about the benefits of alkaline water, but in general, drinking enough water is one the cheapest and simplest ways to invest in your body. Our bodies are about 2/3 water, so it is clearly important. Water carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, cleanses toxins, regulates body temperature, assists with digestion... the list goes on. 

This is actually one healthy habit husband has taught me. When it comes to drinking water, that man is a champ. Its also his answer to everything. Have a headache? Drink some water. Feeling nauseous? Drink some water. Feeling fatigued or lethargic? Drink some water. Its not the cure for everything, but you get the point. Eventually, so did I. It was my new years resolution last year, and it was one I actually kept. (Yay!) But seriously, thank you Ben for helping me make it a priority.

Here are a couple tips I've learned while trying to be more water-concious:

If you are hungry, drink water.
Our brains can’t differentiate between hunger and thirst. Many times when you feel hungry, you are actually just thirsty. Drink up to put those cravings at bay.

Drink a glass of water before you eat.
It will trick your brain getting fuller, faster. Its an easy way to moderate portion control and eat less. And I can use all the help I can get with portion control.

Wait 20 minutes after you eat to drink water.
Water dilutes your digestive enzymes, so waiting helps you digest your meal better.

Carry around a water bottle.
I take mine with me pretty much everywhere, and refill it whenever its low. I love the lifefactory bottles because they are clear and you can see how much you are drinking each day.

Spice up your water.
If you have trouble getting in your 8 glasses a day, try spicing it up by adding lemon or lime. Or pretend you are at a spa and put in cucumbers, mint, strawberries, etc. Check out this adorable blog post for inspiration.

The 8 glass a day "rule":
The 8 glasses a day requirement has not been proven, but it’s a good starting place. The Institute of Medicine recommends 13 glasses per day for men and 9 glasses a day for women, but keep in mind that you also get water from certain foods (fruits and veggies). Find out what works for you.

Other “hydrating” drinks:
Be wary of vitamin water, Gatorade, and other sports drinks claiming health benefits - they are full of sugar and chemicals and trans fat. Natural is always the way to go, so choose regular water or coconut water, which is high in electrolytes.

As always, remember that being healthy can be all about taking steps. Maybe start by drinking one more glass a day.  Maybe even make a mid-year resolution. Whatever you do, have a fun and fully hydrated week. xo.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easy Dinner: Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce

My sister shared this recipe with me, and I was a bit skeptical of eggs for dinner but it was delicious! It even passed the husband test. Its pretty easy to make, and may become a new go-to recipe for me. I hope you enjoy it too.

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce

1 can (14 ounces) diced, whole or crushed tomatoes (I prefer S&W brand)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Glug of red wine (optional)
1- 2 bags or bunches of fresh spinach (I added in some chard too)
2 slices toasted country wheat bread or quinoa
4 large eggs 
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. 
Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil; season with salt and pepper. 
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 to 20 minutes.
Prepare quinoa during this time.
A few minutes before eggs are done, add a glug of red wine and let it simmer for a moment.
Gently crack eggs into tomato mixture, cover, and let cook 5 minutes. 
While this is cooking, steam spinach.
Remove skillet with egg/tomato mixture in it  from heat, uncover, and let stand 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer each egg to a piece of toast or mound of quinoa that has steamed spinach over it.
Spoon over sauce, garnish with cheese, and season with salt and pepper; serve immediately. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday Tips: Add Lemon

One of the easiest ways to boost your immunity and improve your digestive system is adding lemon to water. The lemon juice makes the water alkaline, which helps balance your body's pH.

I know it sounds counter-intuitive. I had always thought lemon would be acidic, but both lemons and limes are alkaline once digested. Let's chalk it up to Nature.

Adding in this simple tip is important because so much of what we eat and drink is acidic - sugar, grains, artificial sweeteners, soda, processed foods, alcohol, coffee...  All that acidity can throw off your body's pH and compromise your immune system. In order to restore balance, you can moderate acidic foods and incorporate more alkaline foods (vegetables and some fruits), and of course, add lemon to your water.

Like all natural foods, lemons have some great health benefits. In addition to boosting your immune system and improving digestion, they are said to cleanse the liver, have cancer fighting properties and be good for your skin and your bones. All that in one tiny little lemon. Apparently, they aren't good for your teeth enamel though, so most people recommend drinking lemon water through a straw.

So add a little lemon (lime works too!) to your water in the morning and throughout the day.  Your body will thank you.