I love California. I can say it definitively now although I always had a hunch I would enjoy it and I’ve technically only seen a small part of it. But still.
I was lucky enough to travel to Bakersfield with my grandma to visit my parents. It’s the first time I’ve seen them both since July, which is the longest I’ve ever gone without visiting with them. I’ve missed them a lot, so this was a treat.
It may have only been a four-day trip, but we made the absolute most of it, thanks to my parents being the best tour guides. In all, we traveled more than 1,500 miles, and we…
- Traveled to Redondo Beach, where I got to put my toes in the sand and wade into the Pacific Ocean for the first time
- Visited Griffith Observatory at night, where I saw the Hollywood sign, took in the views of LA at night, and got to see a breathtaking view of the moon (the GODDAMN moon, guys!)
- Hiked around Lake Ming. It’s located in my parents’ town and is a beautiful place where my dad takes two of their dogs, Reilly and Lexy, to burn off some of their energy. So, we took two trips and it was just my dad and his three girls: me, Reilly, and Lexy!
- Saw peacocks at Hart Park in Bakersfield. How is it possible that peacocks just hang out in the park? There were also dozens of kitties who were friends with the peacocks, which was extra cute.
- Went shopping at Ross. My mom is the best because she fully understands and appreciates my obsession with Ross, which we don’t have on the East Coast. So, she took us shopping and I got plenty of new things that I can’t wait to wear and post about!
- Ate delicious food. We tried Creamistry (where they make ice cream with liquid nitrogen); Blaze Pizza (where you can order delicious personalized pizzas); and In N Out (a staple that I’d been dying to try for years); and some Krispy Kreme; but nothing compared to my mom and dad’s home cooking!
- Traveled to Las Vegas to see the Backstreet Boys. What an amazing concert! I’ve loved the Backstreet Boys since I was a kid and I hope I do forever. To me, there is nothing like being in the audience, singing along to my favorite songs, dancing with girls like me who grew up on their music. Where else can I show off the fact that I still remember the choreography from “Everybody”? I had so much fun and I loved going with my grandma and my mom like when I was younger. I think they enjoyed themselves, too, especially my grandma, who was excited to see her love, Brian. (Shout out to my dad for doing that eight-hour drive to Vegas and not even attending the show.)
- Took my parents’ RV—with all four dogs—up to Port San Luis Boat Yard and Avila Beach. It was chilly, but so much fun. We saw seals and sea otters (real ones! in nature!) and visited with my mom’s cousin, Debbie, and her husband, who drove out to see us. The girls (Reilly and Lexy) got to play on the beach with other dogs, and the humans got to enjoy some delicious smoked chicken made by my dad and some incredible rice made by my mom.
- Drove up to Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery near Hearst Castle. It was amazing to see those seals up close and in their natural habitat. They were so cute! The drive up there was magnificent, too. We traveled through wine country and experienced views I couldn’t even dream up. It was the perfect way to end our trip.
Can’t wait to go back in May with my husband and do it all again!
Ready for fall? I am. And I’m all about fall-related treats to go with my favorite season, especially if it’s apple- or pumpkin-flavored. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love these spiced apple slices, which are delicious and take all of 20 minutes to make.
This recipe has been adapted from a recipe in Savory magazine.
- 3 apples (I used Gala)
- 4 T butter (I used Brummel & Brown)
- 1 t ground cinnamon
- 1 t ground nutmeg
- Cut the apples into wedges, removing the core. You do not need to remove the skin.
- Heat the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat.
- Add apples.
- Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add cinnamon and nutmug and mix apples. Cover saucepan and cook on high for 10 minutes. You may increase or decrease cook time base on the apple consistency you prefer. This cook time will leave the apples soft, but not mushy.
According to Savory, you can eat these apples over oatmeal or salads, with roast chicken or pork, or over ice cream. I prefer to eat mine straight as a delicious snack, with granola, or with some sausage. So good, and it tastes exactly like fall.
For the last few holidays, I was contributing a dessert you may know as “slutty brownies.” They’re amazing, but very rich. And, I’m more of a chocolate chip cookie girl, so I wanted to bake something chocolate chip cookie-ish for Easter.
Hence, these bars.
I’ve had them pinned forever and never got around to making them, but now that I have, I feel like this recipe will be a staple. It’s from Averie Cooks and she’s got a ton of other “cookie bar” recipes you should check out if you like this one.
Chocolate Chip M&M Cookie Bar Recipe
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tbl vanilla extract
- 1 c flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 c brown sugar (I used light)
- 1 c M&Ms (I used milk chocolate, but the original recipe suggestions crispy, which also sounds delicious!)
- 1/2 c semi sweet chocolate chips
- Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place aluminum foil in a square pan (the one I used was 8×8), then spray with cooking spray. (I made two batches of these cookie bars. The first was just with a greased pan and the second was with the aluminum foil. You will thank yourself a zillion times over for using the foil.)
- In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter.
- In a separate bowl, add vanilla and brown sugar. Then add melted butter (let it cool a bit before you do) and egg. Stir until it’s creamy.
- To this mixture, add flour and salt, and combine.
- Finally, add the M&Ms and chocolate chips.
- Spread batter evenly in pan.
- OPTIONAL: Add extra M&Ms and chocolate chips to the top (pressing in just a bit so it sticks in the mixture).
- Cook for 25-30 minutes.
I’m trying to get better about meal prep for the week. Honestly, my husband and I have kind of been killin’ it. Last week, we made some amazing garlic parm chicken drumsticks to have during the week for dinner and we loved it. It felt just as decadent as eating out, only not quite as pricey or caloric. (Not to mention, if we ordered out, I’d totally have to get some fries or something to go with it, whereas this chicken can instead be paired with some delicious butternut squash or your veggie of choice.)
I tweaked both this recipe from creativemeinspiredyou and this one from Simply Scratch. Enjoy!
Garlic Parmesan Chicken Drumsticks Recipe
- ~3 lbs of drumsticks (10 drumsticks)
- Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
- 4 T olive oil
- 4 T butter
- 1 1/2 T minced garlic
- 3 T parsley
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Arrange chicken on greased, foil-lined pan.
- Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Cook 35 minutes.
- Remove chicken from oven and drain the liquid as best you can.
- Put chicken back in the oven to broil on low for 15-20 minutes. (Be sure you check on the chicken to make sure it doesn’t burn!)
- While broiling, start prepping for the sauce by sautéing the olive oil, butter, and garlic for about 3 minutes on medium heat.
- Pour sauce in a bowl along with parsley and salt.
- Toss each drumstick in the bowl and coat with sauce, placing each drumstick back on the pan once its done.
- Sprinkle parmesan cheese over chicken.
- Put drumsticks back in oven and broil on low for 3 additional minutes.
I’ve already written about Cupcake’s Clothes, but I love this blog. Georgina mostly posts fashion, but she also offers a few lifestyle posts, too. It’s got the perfect aesthetic and I’m totally jealous.
How amazing is Rihanna’s latest album?! I can’t stop listening to it. If you haven’t yet, check it out on Spotify!
My new favorite place to eat is Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ. They have incredible food, from pulled pork, chicken wings, and brisket, mac and cheese to corn bread, and even some desserts (like apple crisp!). There are two barbecue sauces to choose from—sweet and spicy—and the sweet is undeniably the best. I love a great place to eat!
If you haven’t seen John Oliver’s takedown of Donald Trump yet, you should. It’s a must-watch—especially given the results of Super Tuesday. John Oliver delivers the info in a funny way, so you won’t cry as much!
What are your favorites this week?
No-noodle lasagna sounds completely pointless. Why would you bother cooking lasagna at all if there aren’t any noodles involved?
Well, because I’ve been craving lasagna and I’m on a low-carb/high-protein diet, that’s why.
In my quest to search for recipes that comply with that, I found this. It’s also been referred to as a “ricotta bake.”
- 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 cups low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
- 12 oz tomato sauce
- Italian seasoning
- Garlic powder
- Preheat the oven to 450°.
- Cook 1 lb of ground beef, just till brown, and seasoned to taste with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Once browned, strain ground beef and set aside to cool off.
- In a large bowl, mix ricotta, eggs, and seasoning (Italian, salt, pepper, garlic powder).
- Add beef to ricotta mixture and stir.
- Spread mixture in 9×9 square pan.
- Top with 12 oz sauce (I used Ragu Traditional Pizza Sauce because pizza sauce is delicious).
- Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese on top.
- Bake for 22 minutes.
In all, the meal probably takes about 30 minutes to make. It’s delicious and tastes just as good warmed up. Next time, I think I’ll add some mushrooms to the ricotta mixture. Enjoy!