Friday, April 17, 2015

Wendy's Salads #sponsored #BeyondtheBowl

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

One of the biggest hurdles in this thing called "Being an Adult" is how to eat healthy when you're too busy to put together a lunch or dinner for yourself. Luckily, there are options like Wendy's® salads that make healthy choices easy for any schedule!

These aren't your typical salads, either. You can get both half and full sizes of the following:
  • Wendy's BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad
  • Wendy's Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
  • Wendy's Asian Cashew Chicken Salad
They're all extremely tasty and are always assembled to-order at Wendy's!

Did you know that every day, in every Wendy’s restaurant, crew members chop fresh iceberg and romaine lettuce, cucumbers, red peppers and tomatoes in preparation for their salads? Not weekly, not every other day, every. day. And every salad entrée uses only premium, all-white meat chicken breasts that are freshly grilled to-order and placed warm on your salad.

Wendy's founder Dave Thomas opened the first Wendy's restaurant in 1969 grounded on the premise that "Quality is our Recipe®." For more than 45 years, Wendy's has been invested in bringing customers the quality ingredients that differentiate us from others in the industry.

I was lucky enough to sample their Asian Cashew Chicken salad--I've had a serious thing for Asian-inspired salads lately!--and was treated to a delicious blend of fresh flavors, assembled to-order and freshly prepared just for me! I was able to enjoy this salad on the go in between work and class.

Want more information on these delicious, fresh salads? Check out Wendy's YouTube video here for a behind-the-scenes look at just where these salads come from.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Little Changes -- Oven Fries

It's no secret that I've been unhappy with my figure for a while now. Problem is, I never developed healthy habits along the way because I didn't NEED to--I was effortlessly skinny, bad at (and hated) sports, could eat whatever, whenever, drink a ton and never gain a pound.

And now I'm reaching 30 and my metabolism is all, "see ya later!" And here I am, hating exercise and loving food and worrying I'll never get back to where I was.

The best thing, I keep telling myself, is to make little changes. A whole bunch of little changes eventually add up to a big change, right? Surely I'll get closer to my goals eventually...

So I set my alarm for 6am and hope I'll actually go to the gym, and I oven bake homemade french fries and indulge in sized-out portions when I have a craving for junk. It's not the best, but it's better, and we're taking small steps here.

The recipe here is all about the technique. Follow it carefully and crispy oven fries will be yours!

Oven Fries

  • 2 large potatoes, russet or baking potatoes preferred
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil (veg oil or canola works best, but coconut works and olive in a pinch)
  • salt
  • seasonings (I love herbs de provance)

-Slice potatoes into thick wedges and let soak in a bowl of water for at least 1 hour. This will bring out the starch and ensure a crispy fry.

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare a baking dish with a baking rack placed on top, oiled heavily.

-Pat potatoes dry, and toss lightly with oil. Toss in seasonings and salt.

-Arrange in a single layer on the baking rack. Bake for 40 minutes, turning the fries once halfway through.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Coffee Cake Donuts with Espresso Glaze #Lavazza #sponsored

This post is brought to you in partnership with Lavazza. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Though my can't-skip-it morning coffee is a recent development of my working life, I can't remember a time when I didn't love coffee. I can recall making my parents breakfast in bed, and mixing coffee crystals into tap water that was as hot I could get it and pouring a heavily sugared version for myself probably at age 6 or so.

Little did 6-year-old Ashley know that there was a bigger, better world of coffee waiting. Lately I've been somewhat of a coffee snob, only wanting overpriced brews from my local chain because I didn't know I could get the same quality at home with Lavazza!

I'm so excited to be a brand ambassador and "passionista" for Lavazza coffee. During my study abroad in 2007 I fell in love with this brand, and now I can make my own cup of Italy's favorite coffee at home! I've yet to find a coffee that tastes as fresh and rich as Lavazza---and I do drink my fair share of coffee, more than most people I know at least...

So stay tuned, I'll be posting a number of Lavazza-themed recipes and giveaways from now until December.

First up I have these gorgeous Coffee Cake Donuts. They really are the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of Lavazza's Perfetto blend! I've always wondered--why doesn't coffee cake contain actual coffee? I felt the need to rectify this by drizzling them with espresso glaze.

I daresay it's perfetto itself ;)

Coffee Cake Donuts with Espresso Glaze

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Crumble Topping

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
Espresso Glaze

  • 1/4 cup brewed espresso
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a donut baking pan and set aside*

-Sift together all dry cake ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients. Be sure the butter is melted but not piping hot, and add to wet ingredients SLOWLY so as not to cook the egg.

-Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking to get rid of clumps. Pour batter evenly in donut wells.

-In a separate bowl, mix together the crumble topping ingredients. The topping should stick together lightly, making large crumbs. If mixture is too wet, alternatively add more sugar and flour until desired consistency is reached.

-Sprinkle topping generously over donut wells. The cakes will rise and separate, so more is better for a full coating.

-Bake for about 20 minutes, until cake is spongy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature.

-Mix together the glaze until it is about the consistency of glue. It should be thick, but fall off the spoon. Drizzle over cooled donuts and let the glaze set.

-Serve with your favorite Lavazza coffee!

*Alternatively, you can use a muffin tin, this will make about 8 cakes.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Brussels Sprouts Bake

Hey all, sorry for the lag without a recipe. As referenced in my last post, things have been rough around here.

March was full of all sorts of bad luck. Financially and emotionally (those seem to go together, don't they?). It started off great--with a new job and a new apartment--but quickly went downhill with our wedding savings having to be drained for an unexpected financial emergency, my fiancé losing his job, me having to get medical care before my new insurance kicked in, and my family pet passing away unexpectedly, among other minor issues and such peppered in for good measure. I'm hoping April has better days. Thankfully we have a good support network of friends and family. I know it's all temporary, and things will be okay, but I'm not quite yet at the mindset where I actually believe that yet.

Would appreciate any positive thoughts you have to send our way.

The light situation in the new apartment isn't the best, so I'm still working through my backlog of pictures. More incentive to figure out my camera settings I guess (extra points: my favorite lens BROKE during the Debacle that is March, ugh) Getting to the bottom of the barrel here, because I'm not super thrilled with how these came out. However, the recipe is great.

I'm on a never-ending quest to get my fiancé to enjoy veggies. Typically, this involves covering them in cheese. It's a start.

Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cheese of choice, shredded
  • 2 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 cup crushed potato chips (I used Pringles)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

-Steam brussels sprouts until al dente, I typically microwave them with a bit of water for 4 minutes.

-Over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp of butter and whisk in flour. Slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly, until well combined. Add garlic, onions, and seasoning. Let simmer for five minutes, until thick.

-Stir in cheese and mix until melted. Toss in brussels sprouts, and pour into a baking dish.

-Melt remaining butter over low heat, and toss in potato chips. Sprinkle over brussels sprouts.

-Bake for 30 minutes, until topping has just begun to brown. Serve hot.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Paleo/GF Crepes and Puppy Love

It's sad to be so far from home when something tragic happens.

Sometimes it's even worse when that tragic event is the passing of a family pet. Especially one you only got to enjoy for a few years, and whose little life ended far too soon.

This little dog meant so much to my family. She was like another person. And we only had five short years with her (I had four, since I moved to Austin last year). 

I have my own dog and cat now, but Tocha will always be my last family pet before I moved out on my own. She was a treasure. The happiest little pup you'd ever meet, so full of love for everyone. 

Knowing she's gone is a knife in the gut I can't really handle right now.

Go snuggle your pets, they're gone from this world far too soon.

Guys, I really don't have many positive things to say today, I just know I need to keep myself to my weekly blog posting or I'll fall out of the habit, and I've been sitting on this recipe for a while. So here, enjoy it, it's a good one (though you'll notice it's shockingly similar to a savory recipe I posted recently). Low carb, much flavor, good times.

Such a sad thing to top off one of the worst months I've been through in a long while. It's gotten to the point where I'm just looking at the sky and asking the universe "what are you going to do now?" I'd appreciate any good energy and positive thoughts you can send my way. Hoping upon hoping some good luck turns up soon.

Paleo crepes
(Adapted from Infertility Tho Art a Heartless Bitch)

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp tapioca flour 
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ghee or butter
  • Coconut cream or whipped cream and fruit for topping

-Mix together dry ingredients until well combined. Sprinkle in chopped scallions

-In a separate bowl, mix together egg and coconut milk. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry, mixing well with a wire whisk.

-Heat a skillet to medium high. Melt butter, and immediately pour about 1/8 cup of batter into the pan. Cook until edges begin to set, then flip.

-Top with coconut whipped cream (coconut cream with a bit of maple syrup, whipped in a stand mixer until fluffy) and fruit of choice. Pictured: peaches.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Dublin Special: Beer Bread Pudding

Once you've made that tasty, delicious load of Guinness beer bread... you'll probably want to make another batch, and turn it into this ^^

Last year, St. Patrick's Day came and went in Austin with nothing but a few local bars serving a corned beef special. Since it usually occurs in the middle of SXSW, Boston's favorite holiday (where the streets run green with dyed PBR) goes relatively unnoticed.

This little holiday reminds me of Massachusetts, or my two trips to Ireland. It reminds me that I need to return to Europe someday...

This year, I have corned beef and potatoes waiting in the fridge, some Guinness at the ready, and this dessert on the table.

I love bread pudding. It's the nemesis of low carb diets for sure, but if you happen to make this for your St. Paddy's Day table and take a bite, I won't tell. It's so easy to make, and is so editable to whatever you want it to do. This pudding has all the flavors of Ireland's famous liquors: Guinness, Bailey's, and Jameson.

PS. Check out this awesome Buzzfeed list I made of the best St. Paddy's Day recipes that are NOT green! :)

For the Bread Pudding

  • 1 loaf Guinness Beer Bread
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Irish Cream
  • For topping
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x9 baking dish, set aside.

-Cube the beer bread and set out to dry out a bit while you mix together the rest of the ingredients. Or, you can put them on a single layer and pop them in the oven while you prep.

-In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, cream, and Irish cream until well combined. Once beer bread is slightly hard to the touch, toss in the mixture until well-coated. Let sit 5 minutes.

-Prepare topping by mixing together until at a crumbly consistency. If the mixture is too wet, add more oats or a bit of flour. You want big crumbles of slightly moist crumbs.

-Pour bread mixture into baking dish, top with crumbles. Bake for 45 minutes, or until pudding is set. Finished pudding should be springy, not wet, when pressed with your finger or a spoon.

Whiskey Salted Caramel

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Irish whiskey

-In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar over high heat until caramel in color. Be careful not to burn!

-Carefully drop in cubes of butter, whisking until well combined. Once melted, SLOWLY pour in the cream.

-Reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to foam.

-Remove from heat and stir in salt and whiskey. Let come to room temperature and pour into jar.

Guinness Chocolate Sauce
(adapted from

  • 1 12oz bottle of Guinness
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla

-In a medium saucepan, heat the Guinness over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced by half, about 40 minutes, watching it carefully to prevent bubbling over.

-Add sugar, cocoa powder, water, and vanilla. Let come to a simmer, and stir frequently until mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, and pour into jar.

Irish Cream Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp Irish Cream

-In a stand or hand mixer, whip cream and powdered sugar on high until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to low, and mix in the Irish Cream until just blended.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Guinness Beer Bread & Cinnamon Cinnamon Browned Butter

Beer bread is a magical thing. It's basically flour, salt, baking powder, and beer. The combinations of how you can make it truly are endless. You can edit it to work with any beer or flavor, be sweet or savory, be a side dish or a breakfast or bread pudding (hint, hint).

Take this Guinness beer bread, for example. Just a few extras, and you have a unique and seriously delicious, quick bread. No yeast, no rising, just deliciousness.

If anyone is remembering my "low carb diet" right now... shut up.

The highlight of this bread is really the cinnamon browned butter BUT I forgot to photograph it. Ugh. Trust me though, it's the perfect thing to spread on a toasty piece of Guinness beer bread. I can't NOT tell you about it.


Cinnamon Browned butter

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar

-In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat until golden brown. Pay close attention that the butter does not burn!

-Let sit for 5 minutes, then add cinnamon and sugar. Mix well, and pour into a small jar.

-Let butter get to room temperature, shaking jar regularly so sediment does not sink to the bottom. To speed up the process, you can put the jar in the fridge or freezer, but the shaking will be more frequent.

Guinness Beer Bread
(Adapted from The Black Peppercorn)

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 bottle Guinness Stout (12 oz)
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bread pan with butter.

Sift together all dry ingredients into a stand mixer.

Set the mixer on low speed and slowly pour in the Guinness, being careful it doesn't bubble over. Mix until just wet, do not over-mix.

Spoon batter into loaf pan. Pour melted butter on top, and sprinkle with oats.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.