King Crab Legs Recipe (Alaska Seafood Health + Sustainability) #AskForAlaska

This post was sponsored by Alaska Seafood and Influence Central, to encourage my readers to choose sustainably caught Alaska Seafood. #AskForAlaska

Looking for a beautiful and unique dinner to serve for those special occasions or just because? I was so lucky to recently prepare Alaska King Crab Legs for the very first time and they tasted better than in a fancy seafood restaurant! My family LOVED this meal and I was so happy to be able to provide such a delicious and memorable meal for them. We went all out and chose sides that truly complimented the beautiful, sustainable Alaska King Crab Legs and I am SO excited to share this find meal with you today. 

Alaska King Crab Legs Recipe + Sides

If you have been a bit hesitant to make King Crab Legs at home, this is a great chance to branch out a bit and try something new. They were SO easy to prepare, and although we baked the crab in the oven, you can also boil or grill the crab. It was already cooked when we bought it, and I chose to bake it in the oven so that I could keep the crab legs in tact, to showcase their beauty. I had a large enough baking sheet to hold the crab legs, and I was able to actually serve the crab right off of the pan I baked them on. 

Jumbo Alaska King Crab Legs + Sides

OVEN BAKED GARLIC BUTTER KING CRAB LEGS

(serves 2-4 people)

INGREDIENTS:

1-2 lb. King Crab Legs (Look for the label in the seafood counter that says Alaska Seafood)

1/2 C. Butter (or more if desired)

5 Cloves Garlic - Minced (we used a garlic press and it worked SUPER well!)

2 Lemons Cut into Thin Slices (also used on asparagus, below)

1/8 C. Olive Oil

1-2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Preheat oven to 375*. In a saucepan, melt butter, add garlic, lightly sautee, squeeze in lemon juice.

2.) Turn heat to low to let flavors mesh together.

3.) Add Creole seasoning, add olive oil, and turn off heat. 

4.) Place King Crab Legs onto baking sheet (sprayed with non stick cooking spray), and brush butter mixture over crab legs.

5.) Cover pan with foil (very lightly cover, or make a fold in the foil to create a "tent" above crab. )Bake legs for 25 minutes, and enjoy!

Garlic Lemon Butter Baked King Crab Legs

GARLIC LEMON BUTTER BAKED ASPARAGUS RECIPE

(recreated from this recipe, found here)

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb asparagus washed and trimmed

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves slightly smashed

zest from 1 lemon about 1 tablespoon

salt and pepper to taste (I actually used margarita rimming salt to get a coarser grain - it worked great!)

juice from 1 lemon

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Preheat oven to 425.

2.) To trim asparagus, hold each end between your fingertips. Bend the asparagus, and it should brake about 1-2 inches from the bottom. Repeat with entire pound.

3.) Place asparagus and garlic on a sheet pan.

4.) Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on lemon zest, salt and pepper.

5.) Toss to coat evenly.

6.) Keep asparagus in a single layer on sheet.

7.) Bake for 10 minutes, until the ends are crisp and the asparagus is slightly tender.

8.) Toss with lemon juice.

Garlic Lemon Butter Baked Asparagus
Lemon Garlic Butter Oven Baked Asparagus

SLOW COOKER OR PAN SEARED RED POTATOES

INGREDIENTS:

1.5 Tbsp olive oil

2 lb. small red new potatoes, halved

1/4 Tbsp sea or kosher salt

pinch of freshly ground black pepper

3-4 cloves garlic (we pressed ours in the garlic masher)

2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, optional

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Put the oil into the cooking pot of the slow cooker, set to Brown/Sauté at 350*.

2.) Once the oil is hot, add the potatoes (cut side down), salt and pepper. Let the potatoes sit in the hot cooking pot, then toss after about 3 minutes. 

3.) Once the potatoes are browned, cover and let potatoes cook for about 30 minutes, or until fully cooked. We stirred the potatoes so they did not burn.

4.) When 5 minutes are remaining, add the garlic and rosemary, and toss to combine. Cover again and allow to cook for a few minutes to soften the garlic. 

5.) Serve immediately. 

Sauteed Red Potatoes in The Slow Cooker

Alaska Seafood Infographic
Alaska King Crab Legs Recipe + Sides
Alaska Seafood - Sustainable + Healthy

Tips For Staying Heathy This Year

I have been thinking a lot about journaling more on my blog, because I just love reading personal stories from talented bloggers. I also get questions all the time about how I maintain a healthy weight and sometimes I just don’t really know what to say. After thinking a bit more about peoples’ kind words about my appearance, I thought it would be fun to share updates about how I stay healthy, while working from home and also while traveling so much. Since I’m 32 years old, I realize how much my metabolism can slow down, compared to my early 20s. Here are a few simple tips I follow to keep my body feeling and looking its best. 

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Consume less dairy. I used to be someone who would drink milk several times a day. Bobby and I would go through a gallon or two of milk each week, through eating cereal and just drinking milk by itself or with a meal. It was mostly me who was consuming all this milk, and I was having trouble maintaining the weight I wanted. Also, my skin was terrible! I would get cystic acne out of nowhere, even when I’d wash my face several times a day, and shower every day. I stumbled across a random article talking about getting tips for prepping for your big day. While I was not getting ready for a wedding, I still read the article and I am so happy I did! It explained that dairy can cause acne, and also cause weight gain. Well, a year and a half later, I only drink milk 1-2 times a month if that. I pretty much quit cold turkey. I’ve noticed a huge difference! I do not get that cystic acne anymore and I have maintained a weight I’m happy with, without doing massive amounts of exercise or having to change my diet much. I’m sure that the cereal I was eating was a huge source of unnecessary sugar and calories as well.   

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 walk more. Luckily, our dogs insist we walk them and let them out many of times throughout the day. While I sometimes would rather stay inside because it’s cold out, or I have a deadline looming, I realize the incredible power of simply taking a walk. When I skip walks, I feel stiff - my back and shoulders ache and the dogs get stir crazy. So, we help each other out and I’m so happy about it. I have also learned that winter doesn’t suck nearly as much if you bundle up properly, and once I get out and move around even for 2-3 minutes to get my blood pumping, I’m instantly warmer and I can handle the cold much better. I found that wearing even a cheap pair of leggings under my regular jeans, yoga pants, or sweat pants somehow makes a huge difference in keeping in the warmth. I also tend to wear a long sleeve shirt, my down coat, then a rain coat over top as my outer shell, which helps insulate and also adds wind resistance. I also wear my gloves, scarf, and beanie cap and I’m ready to face the Illinois winter :) 

 

Dont let your body body become a trash can! Realize that it’s alright to not eat those last few bites of a meal if you’re already full. While that does sound wasteful, I’m putting my health first. Also, definitely don’t feel obligated to take food or drink from someone simply because they’re offering it! If you are just trying to be courteous, feel free to try one tiny little bit or sip, and if it offends someone that you didn’t eat the whole portion, don’t feel bad - always put yourself and your health first. And, be extremely conscious of what you’re eating. Even if a fried appetizer or piece of cake, or fast food burger sounds delicious, how will it make you feel afterward? I believe that thinking about the end result (a happy tummy vs. an unhappy tummy) can actually help you make healthier choices and truly enjoy them. 

Drink mostly water. I developed this love and craving for water a few years ago when I was trying to cut back on fruit juices and soda intake. One summer, we finally got our ice maker working, and found ourselves drinking huge jars full of ice water all day long. It was like we had discovered gold right in our own back yard or something! I began to crave water more than anything else and I know that also helped clear my skin and maintain a happy, healthy weight. We also invested in a case of larger Ball jars and being able to have a cold glass of water at my desk and on my bed side makes a huge difference. Bobby also got me a beautiful, mint colored Yeti Rambler water bottle this summer and I don’t go anywhere without it. It fits into our cup holder in the car, compared to my beloved Nalgene water bottle, so that makes it really convenient! We also travel with a gallon of water in the car, so we can refill the Yeti or give the dogs water when needed. 

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Opt for fruit and veggies instead of crackers, carbs, and fat. I’ve always loved fruits and vegetables, but once I became a food blogger a few years ago, I began to branch out and learn new ways to enjoy fresh ingredients. I have always been a picky eater, but I realize that even when I’m shopping for groceries, I’m happiest and most at ease in the fresh section. And I used to think you couldn’t get full without meat, cheese, or bread! My biggest tip here would be that the more often you prepare fresh foods, the more you consume them! Try making an everyday snack much more enticing by simply eating a wider variety of colored ingredients and serving them to yourself and others on a pretty plate or dish. It’s amazing how much more enticing it is to eat a colorful place of fruits and veg if it’s laid out on a pretty plate! It can my be eaten ifnits not prepared! I love making a small platter of carrots and celery, ranch dip, peanut butter, carrots, apple slices, and any other fruits that are in season (grapes and strawberries are also my faves). I get full pretty quickly and I feel so happy that I actually got full from eating raw ingredients! It’s so rewarding. 

I know that many people make eating healthy a new year’s resolution, but it’s very easy to make just a few simple lifestyle changes that will ultimately keep you healthy year round.  

We are so incredibly fortunate to be spending the first part of 2018 here in Foet Myers Beach with Bobby’s parents, and I’ll continue to bring you interesting posts with healthy recipes and travel tips!  

Crudité Vegetable Wreath + Delicious Dip Recipe

Looking to offer more veggies and healthy options at your next party? This Crudité wreath is an excellent way to entice guests to snack on healthier ingredients compared to offering fried foods, chips, or something higher in fat. I made this fun appetizer during the holidays and would definitely make it again! I had so much fun shopping for all of the fresh ingredients.

Crudité Platter + Dip Recipe

Although this particular post is styled in more of a holiday theme, it can definitely be served in any setting, during any season! I was so happy to find all of these fresh ingredients in season during the winter. 

Ingredients (serves 10-15) 

FOR THE CRUDITE:

8 cups broccoli florets

3 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed

2 cups green beans, trimmed

1 cup sugar snap peas, strings removed

Greek Yogurt

Cream cheese (8 oz.)

½ bunch curly kale, washed

2 cups cauliflower florets

9 cherry tomatoes

FOR THE DIP:

1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

½ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese, optional

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried

4 teaspoons white-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground white pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. To prepare crudité: Put a large pot of water on to boil. Set a large bowl of ice water by the stove. Blanch broccoli for 1 to 2 minutes in the boiling water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the ice bath to chill. Drain well. Blanch Brussels sprouts, green beans and snap peas in the same way.
  2. To prepare dip: Whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, cream cheese, shallot, dill, vinegar, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Transfer to a serving bowl; set it in the center of a large circular platter or decorative serving board.
  3. Arrange kale around the bowl, with the frilly edges on the outside. Top with the broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, snap peas and cauliflower. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and serve. Enjoy!
Crudité Platter + Dip Recipe

Rosemary + Jalapeño Spicy Kettle Chip Nachos

These "nachos" of sorts came together exceptionally well. If you're a fan of spicy foods, then this recipe will surely delight your tastebuds. Since these turned out pretty spicy, I also served some sour cream with them, and that balanced out the heat perfectly. 

Spicy Chicken Chips Nachos

INGREDIENTS:

1 Bag of Chips (I used Spicy Chicken Kettle Chips from Kroger, but any flavor of kettle cooked chips will do)

1/2 - 1 Jalapeño sliced into thin strips

1/2 - 1 C. Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1-2 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary, stems removed, chopped up finely (or dried rosemary)

Sour Cream - optional

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Preheat oven to 350* F. Place 1 bag of chips onto a baking sheet, trying not to overlap too many chips. 

2.) Simply sprinkle an even layer of shredded cheese over the chips, then sprinkle your rosemary over that.

3.) Place sliced Jalapeños on top and bake for 5-10 minutes, depending on oven and altitude.

Don’t Let the Mess Ruin Your Holiday Fun!

This year, I was more excited about the holidays than ever before. This past year has been extremely busy and crazy as far as projects and travel, but looking back, it's amazing how many more brands I got to work with compared to other years. Is it because more brands have started realizing the true power of Pinterest? Is it because I have a better relationship with brands and marketing reps than other years? Is it because my work has really improved a lot in the past few years and I am finally now getting enough of my content out that brands are starting to notice me more? Who really knows, but I love how this year's worth of projects has really helped me figure out what works and what does not. I try not to get down if I am not chosen for a certain project I apply for, I just use that energy to apply for another project! This particular post was originally created for a brand that chose not to go through with the campaign ultimately, but I could NOT stand to see this beautiful post go unpublished.

Holiday Baking

So, without further ado, I wanted to present this rather lovely holiday post and to wish you a happy Christmas Eve, friends! 

This year, I have been so excited about the holidays, I always have so much fun breaking out all of the holiday linens, red and green sprinkles, and all sorts of fun holiday décor.

Baking is always my favorite part of the holiday season, but it can definitely be messy. Don’t let the thought of a messy kitchen stop you from baking and creating lasting memories revolving around delicious foods and fun times with those you love. Plus, homemade cookies make amazing gifts.

My collection of holiday towels, linens, and other fun baking items, is slowly growing. Rather than admire them from afar, neatly folded on my shelf, I take the approach of, if they make you happy, use them! I love the festive look of seasonal décor. How about you?

While I do use paper towels for certain cleaning projects, we have two wicker baskets of kitchen towels in our pantry at all times. We use them for nearly every cleaning project, so we accumulate a lot of laundry! I want my towels to be as fresh as possible, and I’ve found the perfect way.

But, no matter how hard I try, I always seem to get baking ingredients like flour, cake batter, icing, and sprinkles everywhere!

Holiday Baking

I know it can be hectic around the holidays, and can even be a little bit challenging baking with children because of the mess. But baking is a fun bonding activity that can be done with friends and family over the holidays, and will help you create memories that will be fun to cherish for years to come.

I think that baking is something I will incorporate into holiday gatherings this year because it sounds like a lot of fun. I may even ask people to bring their favorite holiday sprinkles of cookie decorating materials, and see what people bring. When it gets chilly outside, I am in full-on baking mode, and most of my friends and family members are too.

Holiday Baking

Tackling yours or your family’s tough laundry loads can be challenging. Lysol Laundry Sanitizer is safe to use on most fabrics including whites, colors, darks and delicates.

Holiday Baking

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Vegan Dairy-Free Yogurt Parfait Cups Recipe - Healthier Snack + Dessert Alternative

This delicious alternative to ice cream or other sweets wound up tasting delicious! Get the recipe for these Dairy-Free Frozen Yogurt Parfaits, created in partnership with Ripple Yogurt and Kroger. 

Could you ever imagine eating dairy-free yogurt? That may seem sort of the norm these days, but can you imagine eating yogurt created from peas? I had a great time experimenting with a fun recipe idea that's been on my mind for some time now - frozen yogurt parfait cups with graham cracker + oat crusts! 

Dairy-Free Frozen Yogurt Parfaits

INGREDIENTS:

1-3 flavors of Ripple yogurt (I used strawberry, vanilla, and blueberry)

10 Graham Crackers (choose honey free for true vegan), crushed into an even consistency

5 Tbsp melted Vegan Butter, such as Earth Balance Organic 

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

pinch salt

Blackberries, kiwi, and any other fruit for toppings

Other items: silicone muffin cups, muffin tin, spoon for mixing

These Dairy-Free Frozen Yogurt Parfaits are inspired by Ripple yogurts, available at Kroger!

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) For the crust: melt butter in a medium bowl, and add crushed graham crackers, oats, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. 

2.) Fill prepared silicone or paper cupcake liners with crust mixture 1/3-1/2 and bake for 5-7 minutes at 350* F.

3.) One cooled, fill cupcake liners the rest of the way with yogurt. Freeze for 30 minutes, and then top with chopped fruits. Freeze at least 1 more hour, until cups are completely frozen. Remove them from the cupcake tin, and remove the wrappers, and reveal your beautiful layers of dairy-free, vegan ingredients!What a tasty snack!


In 2015, Ripple founder set out to separate the fats from peas and create a milk-lie substitute that is great for people who want an alternative to dairy (source: Food&Wine). "Dubbed Ripptein, the additive strips away plant flavors and leaves behind only protein, according to Fast Company. (That's one reason Ripple's pea milk doesn't taste like liquefied legumes.).

Now, I will admit, this yogurt does have less of a smooth texture than I was used to, but once I froze this yogurt into these delicious fro yo cups, everything was divine! Feel free to try this recipe out with any mixture of yogurt, fruit, and other ingredients that you would like!

Ripple Dairy-Free Frozen Yogurt Parfaits

"From a biochemical standpoint, milk is protein, and fat, and sugar," Neil Renninger, Ripple cofounder and co-CEO, told Fast Company. "There are plenty of plant sugars you can use, and plenty of plant fats. There are also plenty of plant proteins you can use, but the problem is that they all taste like the plant they derive from. We had to figure out how to make a plant protein that didn't taste like a plant protein."

The company's new pea half-and-half, which Fast Company says dissolves into coffee "like the real thing, without the calories," launches in July, while customers may have to wait until the end of this year—or possibly early next year—for its yogurt.

Renninger admitted neither the half-and-half nor the yogurt were easy to create. For example, "with half-and-half, the challenge was getting something that worked well in coffee, but also would work well in a culinary situation," he said. "It's a bit of a balance providing that creaminess and a clean taste. Protein is an important part of the creaminess in half-and-half, but if you don't have clean protein, you can't get that creaminess without adding off flavors."

Santa's Little Helper Cocktail Recipe

Another fun post I created to help promote Bad Mom's Christmas! These were inspired by a holiday-themed Moscow Mule, but instead of a mule, it's a copper reindeer!

Santa's Little Helper Cocktail Recipe

No Santa Mom should have to tackle the holiday tasks alone! Shopping for the family, hosting the in-laws, it’s intense and offers no me-time during the holidays! With the help of her trust reindeer, this Santa can actually enjoy the holidays instead of dreading them!

See how these Bad Moms handle Christmas, in theaters NOW! #BadMomsXmas

INGREDIENTS:

  1. Fresh lime wedges, to taste.
  2. 1 solid copper mug.
  3. Ice.
  4. 2 ounces gin or vodka (I used gin)
  5. 4-6 ounces ginger beer.
  6. 2 ounces cranberry juice.
  7. Frozen cranberries, for garnish.
  8. Rosemary sprig, for garnish.

LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl's - Photoshoot in Montana

Not long ago, in a beautiful place called Ennis, MT, there stood a girl who loved the mountains...

LC Lauren Conrad #OOTD

This is the fourth of five collaborative photoshoots I am excited to be creating for Kohl's! I am always so drawn to the LC Lauren Conrad line, and I am always excited to see what new items she adds to her collection each season.

LC Lauren Conrad

I can't even explain how cold and windy it was this day, but I think I pulled it all off pretty well :) The Madison Valley is known for being especially windy, but since the air is a lot drier, the cold doesn't seem to bite as bad as where it's more humid.

I especially LOVE that mint velvet purse. It's going to be an amazing collection to my more dressy purses. This was a really fun to wear for Thanksgiving as well.

LC Lauren Conrad #OOTD

A few days earlier, we headed up to Virginia City, MT, a historic mining town with wooden boardwalks, beautiful storefronts, The Pioneer Bar, and lots of history. Many miners walked the same boardwalks in the 1860s.

Sonoma Boots from Kohl's

These boots from Sonoma were extremely comfortable, even on the uneven walkways, and across some grassy areas.

Sonoma Boots
Sonoma Boots from Kohl's
Sonoma Boots

Thanks for checking out some of my latest projects, and staying with me while I catch up on posting my projects. So many fun things in the works, literally more than I can count on all of my fingers! 

Pink Hot Cocoa Recipe

I am super excited to share this fun recipe for Pink Hot Cocoa, perfect for the holidays! Think warm white chocolate with other special flavors and a bit of holiday sparkle!

Pink Hot Cocoa

I originally created this recipe and DIY Coffee Mug to help promote A Bad Moms Christmas and helped them promote the movie on Pinterest! It was a LOT of fun, and I am so happy with how everything turned out :) 

If you haven't seen Bad Mom's or Bad Mom's Christmas, I would definitely recommend it!

WATCH THE MOVIE TRAILER HERE!

Santa Mom survives Christmas Morning by dancing with sugar plum fairies, and adding a splash of booze to her hot cocoa.

INSTRUCTIONS:

To make the cutest Pink Hot Cocoa Ever, simply heat 2 cups milk, 4 ounces of white chocolate, and a few drops of pink food coloring in small saucepan. Now for the best part: add 2 ounces of rum or your favorite liquor, and top with whipped topping, light pink shimmering sprinkles, and pink marshmallows. To make the mug, I added little letter stickers and very carefully started with the middle words and worked my way out, so everything would be centered.

Happy Holidays, friends! Check out the hottest holiday movie of the year – Bad Mom’s Christmas, in theaters NOW!! #BadMomsXmas

Pink Hot Chocolate
A Bad Moms Christmas Movie

Gift Guide For The Pendleton Lover

I always find myself so drawn to anything with a Pendleton print on it, so I guess this is a gift guide inspired by things I love :) I am sure you've all seen their amazing wool blankets, but the brand has SO much more! Recently, I even saw Pendleton's new coffee mugs and slippers. Below, you will find all sorts of amazing items that would surely please the Pendleton Lover in your life! Enjoy!! (Links below graphic)

Gift Guide For The Pendleton Lover!

Amazing Handmade Gifts From Amazon Handmade

This post was sponsored by Amazon Handmade as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. #AmazonHandmade #IC

Ordering custom gifts through Bison Hill Stonecrafts on Amazon Handmade was a wonderful experience. Amazon Handmade should be on every customer's mind this holiday season! You can find something for just about everyone, and it feels amazingly rewarding to buy handmade! This is our opportunity to help to support these artists and the handmade community in general. When you order from Amazon Handmade, you get Prime 2-Day Shipping, which is such a treat!

I ordered two different sizes of a custom Black Slate Cheese Boards and I could not be happier. The arrival of this handmade, custom gift is even more special, because we had just stepped into the door from a long drive (over 2 days), after visiting the very friends I am giving this gift to. I saw the boxes from Amazon Handmade, and I was literally doing my happy dance :)

I opened the two boxes immediately, and I was greeted with the most amazing Slate Cheese Boards in the outline of Montana I have ever seen. I requested custom engraving to make the presents even more special, and I was amazed with how perfect everything looked. I can only imagine how happy these gifts will make for our good friends! 

 I emailed Andrew Church, the owner and creator of these beautiful goods, and expressed my gratitude. He quickly replied with a kind email thanking me, and letting me know he was very happy with the gifts as well. I would definitely order from him again!

NOTE: Order ASAP for all custom orders!!!

Custom State Outline Slate Cheese Board

The cheese boards were packaged in strong gift boxes, with the beautiful Bison Hill logo impressed in gold. There were two pieces of dense foam inside each box, to protect the boards, which are somewhat fragile. The cheese boards are upscale, elegant, and laser cut to perfection. Each edge is smooth, and even though there were difficult, curved edges on the state outline, they are all 100% perfect! The boards also have rubber feet on the bottoms, so they are raised off the table a bit. 

Care instructions are enclosed, which made care and cleaning very easy. Using soap and water, and hand washing is recommended. After there were meat and cheese on these boards, they washed up really, really well. 

 

Custom State Outline Slate Cheese Board
Custom State Outline Slate Cheese Board

As an artist myself, I cherish and value handmade gifts more than any other. While I wish I could make everyone gifts each holiday season, I don't exactly have the time. I love the fact that I was able to reach out to the artist personally and let Andrew know that his handmade goods will make my friends very, very happy. The craftsmanship is much better that anything I could find locally, or really anywhere else online too!

Custom Engraved Cheese Boards (Handmade)

These Custom Cheese Boards are available in a variety of materials, colors, and sizes. You can request any state or shape that you would like, and I had the option of about 15 different fonts. If I had another font style, I could have also requested that instead.

In addition to these fine goods, many other artists have items available on Amazon Handmade. The community is really inspiring. Below, the home page of Amazon Handmade - there are lots of great items, perfect for gifting!

Amazon Handmade

CUSTOM STATE ORNAMENTS

I ordered a couple more non-custom items as well, and I will share those with you this weekend. Everything is really lovely, and I would DEFINITELY order from Amazon Handmade again soon.

LIKE THIS POST? PIN IT FOR LATER...

Amazing Handmade Gifts on Amazon Handmade #ad #IC #AmazonHandmade

Amazon Handmade - Shop For Gifts Here (Utilitarian Handmade Gift Guide)

This post was sponsored by Amazon Handmade as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that inspire me. #AmazonHandmade #IC

Are you someone who would rather support small businesses during the holidays? Now you can now find a huge, diverse selection of handmade gifts for every taste on Amazon Handmade. Over half of the items on the site are customizable and made-to-order! 

Order before 12/08/2017 for all custom orders, and as close to 12/11/2017 for most non-custom items, like those featured in this post. Keep reading to check out one of my favorite artists on Amazon Handmade There are SO many talented artists on the site!

As an artist myself, I often do not have enough time to make everyone's gift during the holidays, like I used to be able to do. Life definitely gets busy, but that is no reason to let quality go to the wayside when you're gifting during the holidays. I was so excited to learn that Amazon Handmade offers TONS AND TONS of great gifts, handmade by people all over the country.

 Rather than purchasing something uninspired because I waited until the last minute, I'd rather shop sooner than later - that's where Amazon Handmade comes into play. With Prime two-day shipping, you're winning by not having to continually check your tracking number again and again, which is something  I really appreciate. Everything you already love about ordering from Amazon, but catering to the world of handmade items. Amazon Handmade should be on every customer's mind when it comes to finding handcrafted, unique gifts all while supporting small businesses at the same time. 

WAXED TOTE $140 (shop here)

LEATHER COASTERS, set of 4 $35 (shop here)

OLIVE GREEN LUNCH BAG $45 (shop here)

KNIFE ROLL IN WAXED CANVAS $185 (shop here)

GREEN WAXED CANVAS APRON $140 (shop here)

WINE TOTE $60 (shop here)

LEATHER CAST IRON HANDLE COVER $20 (shop here)

Hardmill Leather Apron

Learn more about Hardmill, and see everything in their Amazon Handmade Store, here.

And, enjoy lots more from Amazon Handmade, here!

The Gift of Treating Yourself This Holiday Season

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Oregon Chai®. The opinions and text are all mine.

Why is it that as the days get shorter during the fall and winter seasons, we seem to have more to do than ever? The holidays can be a never-ending series of to-do lists, running errands, grocery shopping, cooking and baking projects, entertaining friends, and for us bloggers and entrepreneurs, the work load seems to quadruple! For some of us, the end of the year marks that time when we try to make up for all that we did not get done throughout the year. With all that in mind, it’s fun to be able to give yourself the gift of less stress, meaning more relaxation and ‘me time,’ which improves your overall health from the inside out.

It’s so very important to take a bit of time to relax during the holiday season and treat yo’ self! I had the pleasure of trying out a very delicious recipe lately, featuring Oregon Chai® Latte Concentrate – The Original.

There are additional recipes on the site as well as a Meijer mPerks offer! Meijer has three flavors: The Original, Sugar-Free, and Slightly Sweet.

Good karma every sip of the way! I did some research on the brand and I am so inspired to learn that, “More than 20 years ago, Oregon Chai’s founder traveled to the Himalayas to discover taste inspiration. She found chai. She was the first to bring it to the United States. Today Oregon Chai is America’s No. 1 favorite chai. Chai tea lattes are moving mainstream, and the flavor is absolutely perfect for a chilly day.”

Delicious Chai Tea!

Instead of rushing through life, trying to tackle that massive to-do list all at once, don’t burn the candle at both ends or stress can get the best of us.

Delicious Chai Tea For The Holidays!

I love taking a little technology detox and practice breathing exercises, stretching, and yoga. In my opinion, this tea actually encourages relaxation while offering a little boost of energy because of the caffeine. I found that taking a breather to sip a warm glass of tea helped rejuvenate me more than I could have ever expected.

Delicious Chai Tea

Get this two-ingredient Chai Cider Recipe. To make a 12 oz. cup, simply steam equal parts Oregon Chai The Original Chai Tea Latte Concentrate and Apple Cider until warm, and enjoy! This is the perfect fall drink, and it’s delicious. Feel free to add a bit more agave or a sweetener of your choice and enjoy.

I am definitely someone who has trouble taking time to myself. I love staying busy and going out of my way to make sure those around me are happy. That brings me great joy, but it can drain me. I sometimes get to the point of needing a refresher or a little extra boost, in order to reflect on all that I have accomplished – which makes ME happy!

I do get stuck sometimes, though and I feel like if I am relaxing, I should be productive in some way or another while relaxing. I rarely find the time to set aside the to do list and just be. To breathe, to meditate, and to enjoy the fact that I am giving my body a rest – it works hard for me, so I should treat it right by nourishing it with delicious treats like one of the recipes featured in this post.

I find that if I have a warm drink in hand, it helps relax me and helps soothe my busy mind. I am not really a coffee person, but a couple of years ago, I started really enjoying tea.

Oregon Chai believes in using organic and 100% natural ingredients whenever humanly possible. They make an exception for certain things, like the Splenda that sweetens their Sugar-Free blend.

DIRECTIONS:
Shake well. Refrigerate once open. Preparation and Inspiration: Who would have dreamed a rich, creamy chai latte could be this easy? Combine equal amounts of Oregon Chai concentrate and milk (or any dairy substitute). Hot Chai Latte: Heat mixture using stove top, microwave or steaming wand. Ice Chai Latte: Pour mixture over ice. For delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert recipes you can make with Oregon Chai, visit www.oregonchai.com. Use within four weeks.

Delicious Chai Tea

Another great recipe is the “Choynilla” – this one looks delicious! It’ contains 4 oz. soy milk (although coconut milk would be amazing too), 4 oz. Oregon Chai Tea Latte - The Original and 1 oz. vanilla syrup. Heat chai and soy, then add vanilla syrup and top with whipped cream if desired.

I love how comfy and cozy this tea makes me feel! A great way to enjoy your ‘me time’ is to treat yourself to some cute slippers, leggings, and sweet treats. I found that red velvet cookies with white chocolate chips tasted awesome with my tea. 

You can find Oregon Chai Tea at Meijer. Make sure you look at the bottom shelf, that’s where I found my Oregon Chai Tea Latte! I would have missed it if I didn’t look closer!

Delicious Chai Tea

The holidays are joyous, wonder-filled, and let's face it, hectic!  Make sure to gift yourself with a sweet and spice break that adds calm to your day.  Thanks to Oregon Chai and Meijer, you'll find time to savor and save on the creamy, indulgent taste that makes for the perfect balance this festive season.

Delicious Chai Tea!

Delicious Pecan Pie Recipe (From Food Network Magazine)

If you're looking for a delicious and elegant Pecan Pie Recipe, perfect served with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream, you are going to LOVE this recipe! Feel free to use a pre made pie crust, or your own favorite recipe for homemade pie crust. 

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of friends, and I had a great time helping prepare lots of the food. We made FIVE pies for Thanksgiving this year, and I am so excited to share them with you over this next week. 

Pecan Pie Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup (1 stick butter), melted

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

One 9-inch deep dish pie shell, unbaked, or homemade pastry

1 cup pecan halves

Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

Directions

Watch how to make this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs until creamy. Add the chopped pecans, melted butter, milk, flour and vanilla extract and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Arrange the pecan halves on top of the pie in a circular pattern. 

Bake the pie for 55 minutes. Check for doneness by shaking the pan slightly. The pie should be firm with only a slight jiggle in the center. It will set more as it cools. Serve topped with vanilla ice cream or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Last Minute Guests? Stock Up On These Entrees!

This post was sponsored Tai Pei, all opinions expressed in my post are my own. #IC

Now is the time for more holiday gatherings and reasons to get together with friends and family as the end of the year approaches. I always like to comfort my guests with delicious food, so having a fully stocked freezer makes things much easier - more time with guests and less time in the kitchen. I'm excited to share a couple of new Entrees from Tai Pei that you're going to love! These Chicken Potstickers and the Pepper Beef Frozen Fried Rice.  

You're going to LOVE the wide range fo flavors available at your local Walmart. In addition to the Pepper Beef, which was a guest favorite around my house, we also enjoyed the Shrimp Fried Rice, the Sweet and Sour Chicken, and the Chicken Chow Mein. In addition to exceptional flavor, the fact that these Single Serve single serve bowls are super convenient and easy to make, top my charts in awesomeness. I always like to have a few meals that are filling, but would make a perfect snack or light dinner. 

I cooked the Tai Pei Pepper Beef Fried Rice, and it was the perfect compliment to the potstickers. These two entrees fed 2-3 people snacking on the food. We tend to share food at our house, so this was fun to be able to serve my last minute guests (or those who had a bit of a hunger spell post dinner). While this meal was super easy, I felt like it was a very special meal, something more elevated than a traditional quick meal I'd make. I was so happy to find these new flavors at my local store recently! I did make sure to stock up on these meals, they're seriously SO easy to make. 

Pick up a few flavors of teh Tai Pei single serve bowls and you will thank me next time you're wondering what in the world to have for dinner :)

These Chicken Potstickers were a huge hit! This was actually my first time making potstickers, and they were delicious. When you open the Tai Pei package, you will find about 8 frozen potstickers plus some of the best sauce I've ever had! They were very filling, so we ate 2-3 each and loved them. Next time, I will grab 3-4 of their potstickers while I'm at the store.

To cook the potstickers, as instructed, I added 2 tsp. cooking oil (I used olive oil), plus 1/2 C. warm water to a cold skillet, then placed each potsticker flat side down. They fit perfectly into my skillet! Next, I placed a lid onto the skillet so the oil would not pop at me, and cooked the potstickers on medium heat for about 8 minutes. They were ready to eat at that point, but I also cooked them a little bit longer to get a nice brown crunchy crust on the bottoms. For the sauce, you simply let the sauce packet sit in warm water while you're cooking the potstickers. Super easy! 

That SAUCE was divine!!!

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Italian Beef Recipe + Beer Pairing Idea

We recently made the most delicious Italian Beef Recipe ever! I found that if you start with the best roast possible, with a lower amount of fat, you will have the most successful Italian Beef ever! 

Italian Beef Recipe
RECIPE

2-3 Pound Roast (we used the best quality roast we could find)

1 Au Jus Seasoning Packet

1 Italian Salad Dressing Packet

1 Jar of pepperoncini (16 oz jar from Mezzetta)

2 (32 oz) packages of beef broth (or 1 beef broth, 1 vegetable broth)

1/2 -1 Cup water (optional)

Package of Kaiser Rolls or other favorite rolls


Other available cuts include: 

Bottom round roast.

Rump roast.

Eye round.

Round tip roast.

Sirloin tip roast.

INSTRUCTIONS

1.) In a crock pot, mix broth, seasoning packet, and full jar of pepperonchinis.

2.) Add roast meat as one full piece, to crock pot.

3.) Turn on crock pot to low, and heat at least 8 hours, until meat is falling apart and easy to shred. 

4.) To serve: Using tongs or forks, pull out large pieces of meat from the crock pot and place onto a plate or cutting board. Use 2 forks to shred the meat, and place onto buns. Carefully pour the Au Jus (the juice from the crock pot) onto the shredded meat on the sandwiches, and enjoy! Also feel free to add more peppers to your sandwich. Enjoy!

Italian Beef Recipe
Italian Beef Recipe

Vintage-Inspired Football Party Plus 2 Recipes

Brought to you by Dr Pepper® and Eckrich®.

I am so excited to bring together lots of adorable décor and recipe ideas that I have been wanting to try out for a while now. This Football Party was inspired by Dr Pepper and Eckrich, which both embody the traditional taste of game day.

This party was the perfect excuse to pull out all the stops and go wild with classy and chic décor that makes me nostalgic for the past.

During my research phase for this post, I could only find a few examples of this sort of look I was going for, so I headed to Meijer, and then the fabric store to begin brainstorming. Walking around a store for inspiration is seriously priceless.

I wanted that vintage, chic, fall tailgate sort of look, and I think it turned out so well!

Football Party

THE DÉCOR DETAILS

I incorporated plaid flannel material for the tablecloth, which reminds me of a warm and cozy blanket or scarf one might wear to a football game on a chilly Sunday.

Next, one of my favorite DIY projects was to print out vintage football images from the 1930s for my bunting, which I taped to my wall. I made sure to print out the photos so two would fit onto an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, horizontally oriented.  

I also incorporated a few mini orange pumpkins, as well as my favorite mint cake stands to hold all of my refreshments and some of the snacks. For the drinks, I think it would be great to offer guests pitchers or containers of ice, and cute plastic cups for their Dr Peppers or other refreshments.

The chocolate donut “cake” is also amazing! I used 24 chocolate covered donuts to make the cake, beginning with two rows of 5 donuts, then two rows of 4 donuts, then one row of 3, then three single donuts stacked on top of one another. This cute display held together extremely well! I also added the football picks, also from a party store, to add that football aesthetic I was going for.

Vintage Football Party

As soon as I began to notice the cute Dr Pepper football themed soft drinks in stores, I knew it was time for football! I was so excited to learn that I had this amazing opportunity to collaborate with Dr Pepper and Eckrich that I rushed to Meijer right away to grab supplies. Eckrich Smoked Sausage can be found in the packaged meat aisle, and Dr Pepper can be found in the soda aisle.

Vintage Football Party
Vintage Football Party

Dr Pepper is the one fans crave and is the perfect complement to tailgating and homegating events during the college football season! Eckrich Smoked Sausage is Naturally Hardwood Smoked and crafted with just the right blend of spices for a truly rich, savory taste. Their Smoked Sausage Links are the perfect addition to any tailgate, cookout or family meal.

Vintage Football Party

Mini Smoked Sausage Pot Pies

COOK TIME: 45 minutes

SERVING SIZE: 6-12

INGREDIENTS

·       1 package (10-14oz) Eckrich Smoked Sausage

·       1 package (10oz) Frozen Mixed Vegetables, cooked

·       1 can (10 ¾ oz) Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

·       1 can (16.3oz) Flaky Layered Refrigerated Biscuits

·       Non-stick Cooking Spray

·       Salt & Pepper to taste

PREPARATION

A miniature twist on a classic pot pie.

1.     Directions Preheat the oven to 375°

2.     Prep: Cook the frozen vegetables according to the instructions on the package. Set aside. Dice the Eckrich Smoked Sausage into cubes. In a large skillet, cook the sausage until browned. Remove from stove and set aside.

3.     Filling: In a large bowl, combine the cooked vegetables, smoked sausage, cream of chicken soup, salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a spoon until the ingredients are mixed well.

4.     Assembly: Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Separate the biscuits and flatten each into 5½ inch rounds. Press firmly into each muffin mold. Spoon 1/3 cup of the pot pie mixture into each pie. Pull edges of dough over the filling towards the center, pleat and pinch gently to hold in place.

Chicken Pot Pie "Cupcakes"

1.     Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Cool for 1 minute; remove from pan and serve. These popped RIGHT out of the muffin tin, and looked gorgeous instantly. These taste like warm biscuits with chicken, sausage, and veggies inside. YUM!!!

Vintage Football Party Ideas
Chicken Pot Pies

Smoked Sausage Appetizer Bites

COOK TIME:  15 minutes

SERVING SIZE: 20

Appetizers

INGREDIENTS

·       1 package Eckrich Smoked Sausage (12oz-14oz)

·       20 bite-sized crackers (I used saltines)

·       2 tsp olive oil

·       1/2 package (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

PREPARATION

Keep the crowd happy with these Smoked Sausage Appetizer Bites. They’re perfect as a snack or an appetizer.

1.     Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.     Slice sausage into ½-inch pieces.

3.     Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add sausage to skillet and cook until browned.

4.     Top sausage pieces with cheese, then place skillet in oven and bake until cheese is lightly browned.

5.     Place cheese-covered sausage on crackers and serve.

 

Appetizers

A FEW MORE DETAILS

Caramel Apples

Since I wanted a nostalgic, vintage look and feel to the décor, I thought that the caramel apples were just perfect for fall. Below, I found these cute football shaped dishes at a party store and thought they were just the right festive touch for the party!

Appetizers
Football Party Ideas!
Football Party Ideas

Chai Tea Gingerbread Spiced Latte Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LatteMadeEasy #CollectiveBias

I made this delicious, hot drink with International Delight® One Touch Latte™ and Chai Tea that I brewed at home! A winning combination, and I just love it so much! This DELICIOUS Chai Tea Latte will impress your holiday guests and also take away the stress of hectic holidays!

When I had this amazing opportunity to collaborate with International Delight® again, I was thrilled to create a more winter-flavored drink. All the warm spices in Chai Tea really smell and taste delicious. Now, I am not a tea purist, I need to add something to sweeten the tea up.

Recipe

The plain Chai Tea tasted a bit flat to me, and when I added a "burst" of delicious International Delight® One Touch Latte™ (see the video below for instructions), I was floored!

I felt like a winter blues-curing genius, and the fact that this drink was only really TWO ingredients, is right up my alley of a low-stress recipe.

I sipped again and again, and I am so happy that I found my favorite new drink.

Tea is something I have always wanted to enjoy but have never had much luck in enjoying. I would try a sip of someone's tea, and rarely like what I tasted. Tea always seems to smell amazing, then the taste does not always reflect the scent. The Earthy taste of tea leaves just isn't something I was accustomed to. UNTIL TODAY! The addition of the International Delight® One Touch Latte™ changed me into a "tea almost every day" sort of person! I love the added boost of energy, and Chai Tea is becoming more mainstream because tea can be a healthier, less acidic option, compared to coffee. YAY!

While there is not really gingerbread or gingerbread seasonings in this drink, Chai tea does remind me of gingerbread spices. 

Chai Tea Gingerbread Latte Recipe

This drink does contain caffeine, because the main tea in Chai Tea is Black Tea. The box of tea made this very clear, so if you're looking for a decaf beverage, perhaps you could try a decaf version of your favorite Chai Tea, or a large variety of other flavors like Decaf Ginger Peach or Decaf Vanilla Almond. Before this post, I did not realize that almost every tea flavor is available as decaf. 

Chai Tea Gingerbread Latte Recipe

To make these cute cookies, I found some gingerbread shaped cookies at the store, and decorated them with a tube of white decorator icing (to outline the edges), and then two dots of white icing, then two pink sprinkle dots for their "buttons". I did try using the dots as "eyes", but they looked a bit scary, so buttons it was!

Below, you will see the brewed Chai Tea, before I added the International Delight® One Touch Latte™ to it. The aroma filled my house with warmth, you're going to LOVE this drink! Experience new One Touch Latte'™ from International Delight®. It’s the first-ever frothing creamer! Just point and press to transform your home-brewed coffee into a coffeehouse-style latte in seconds. Now you can start every morning with a creamy, flavorful latte' made by your favorite barista–you! Available in Vanilla, Caramel and Mocha.

recipe
RECIPE

(Makes 1 - 16oz. drink)

Hot Water + 2 Chai Tea Teabags

International Delight® One Touch Latte™ in Vanilla

Chai Tea Gingerbread Latte Recipe
blog-Instructions.png

1.) Boil hot water, and steep 2 bags of Chai Tea per drink. 

2.) Once tea is fully ready, add International Delight® One Touch Latte™ Latte until you reach desired sweetness! See video below for instructions. That's it! Serve with adorably decorated Gingerbread Cookies or your favorite holiday snacks.

International Delight® One Touch Latte™ can help you create a latte in 3 easy steps. Fill cup 2/3 with coffee to leave room for froth. Shake theInternational Delight® One Touch Latte™ can. Press and hold the can above coffee to cream to desired sweetness and enjoy!

Chai Tea Gingerbread Spiced Latte Recipe
Chai Tea Gingerbread Latte Recipe

Find all three flavors of the ID One Touch Lattes at Walmart, including Vanilla, Caramel, and Mocha! 

The International Delight® One Touch Latte™ in-store demo taking place at select Walmart stores over the days of November 11-12!

Find International Delight One Touch Lattes at Walmart

Which one will quickly become your favorite?

ID One Touch Lattes

Traditional Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

A while back, our friends made us the most delicious Chicken Fried Rice recipe using fresh eggs from their chickens, and also carrots from their garden. They used a very traditional Chinese Cookbook, Wok, and this awesome metal Wok spatula that made cooking this dish in the traditional way very intriguing. I love the fact that some of these ingredients were sourced moments before they were prepared for us.

Garden Fresh Carrots
Traditional Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

RECIPE:

This recipe was originally published in the book, "Ten Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook" by Gloria Bley Miller.

To Print, Right click and Save or Print!

Printable Recipe

There is something special about eggs from chickens we have personally interacted with!

Fresh Eggs
Chicken Fried Rice
Chicken Fried Rice
Chicken Fried Rice
Chicken Fried Rice
recipe!