Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Celebrate MOM with H-E-B's Mom Sweeps! #HEBMomSweeps #sponsored

Have I told you how much I LOVE H-E-B lately? Here's yet another reason: This Mother's Day, HEB is giving one lucky winner an awesome prize pack, just for tweeting about what makes your mom great!

When my mom came to visit, she loved HEB too (obviously I gave her a tour of my favorite Texas grocery store!). I even got her a Cocinaware cast iron Dutch Oven for Christmas, since she was such a fan of them when she saw them in the store.

Want to win a $200 HEB gift card and a gift package similar to the one pictured here? It's easy! Just tweet a picture of you and your mom and what makes her great. Be sure to tag #HEBMomSweeps for your chance to win. You can enter until May 10th.

Here's what you could win...

  • $200 HEB gift card
  • Chai Tea
  • HEB Reusable Shopping Bag
  • Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds
  • HEB Juice Stand Smoothie
  • Cocinaware utensils
  • Dead Sea Skin Care Foot Cream
  • Orchid Make-Up Remover Towelettes

...all HEB Brand!

For official rules, visit HEB.com/moms

Monday, April 27, 2015

The BEST Cookies and Blogging Heroes

Do you ever love a blog so much, that you almost feel like the blogger is a friend of yours? It makes sense, a little bit. Bloggers let their readers into their lives. Sharing personal stories through food is nothing new, but posting it online for the world to see is definitely a more recent invention. You read enough of someone's words, and you feel a sort of kinship with them eventually.

I started blogging mostly to have a place to store fun recipes I'd tried. I started actually putting my heart into it when I discovered Can You Stay For Dinner? A blog by the lovely Andie Mitchell. I became a fan immediately. Andie's posts were so full of emotion and beautiful (if sometimes a little bit sad) stories and accompanied by amazing recipes that truly had a story.

Andie's blog showed me that you could blend personal essay and recipes in a really beautiful and truthful way. I clicked through a Pinterest link because of her mini lasagnas, but I stayed for the stories.

Plus she was ever so graceful and encouraging when I emailed to tell her about my own blog, and all the other times I checked in, feeling like a silly fangirl. She went to college across the river from where I grew up, I felt like we knew the same places if not the same people. Though I was always one of thousands of fans, she always had the air of a friend you're sharing tea and a cookie with whenever I reached out for advice or a listening ear.

Now, her book is doing amazingly well--it's a best seller!--and it seriously could not have happened to a nicer person. I am so excited for her cook book, which is coming out next year. I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't gotten my copy yet, but with an upcoming trip I have an excuse to pick it up in the airport en route to my destination :)

Do me a favor: visit her blog. Read from the beginning. Fall in love with her wonderful words. Buy her book. She's an incredible person and it's amazing of her to share her story with us all.

These cookies were based on Andie's recipe, and the first thing I made from her blog. She's the reason I know what browned butter is and my life will never be the same. I've made a few tweaks here and there (reduced the flour because I like a crispier cookie, threw in some extra goodies) but the soul of the recipe is hers.

Congrats, Andie, you deserve all of the success you're finding right now! <3

The Best Cookies You'll Ever Eat
(via Can You Stay for Dinner?)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup toffee bits

-Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and set aside.

-Brown the butter: over medium heat, melt the butter and let it cook until it's just begun to brown. It will have a nutty fragrance. This takes about ten minutes but watch it carefully so it doesn't burn!

-Let butter cool slightly, until still liquid but does not burn when touched. With a hand or stand mixer, beat in the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and maple syrup.

-Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Mix in the chips, pecans, and toffee bits.

-Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour to 1 day (Andie suggests 48 hours but she's a crazy person if she thinks I can wait that long). Place the cookies by the rounded tablespoonful on a cookie sheet with a silpat for parchment paper. Bake until golden.

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.