Monday, April 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

I hope you all had an amazing weekend. This post was definitely set on auto-publish, as I would have got home around midnight last night after a weekend in Charlottesville, VA for a Tai Chi training. So, being transparent and all, I'm probably sound asleep... dreaming about this recipe...

Sometimes I get the strangest cravings for Chinese food and I just have to have it. However, going out isn't always an option-- or even the quickest option. This super easy Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli recipe is sure to satisfy any craving for Chinese food. Serve it over brown rice and you've got a great dinner!

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli


1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil (I used olive oil)
3 cloves minced garlic
2 lbs. boneless beef roast, cut thinly
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup water
2 broccoli crowns, cut into florets


Whisk together the first six ingredients. Place the beef in the slow cooker and coat the beef with the sauce mixture. Cover and cook on low for 90 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the slow cooker and add the broccoli. Set the slow cooker to high and serve immediately.

Recipe from

What type of ethnic food is your favorite?

Mexican hands down, but Mediterranean food is pretty amazing as well.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easy Handmade Hanging Rack

Hello, hello. Happy weekend! Break out the power tools because I have a fun and easy tutorial for you today. This handmade hanging rack is very simple and inexpensive to make AND it's totally functional and cute. Make one this weekend; you won't regret it!

Start by choosing a piece of wood and cutting it to the size of your choice. Anything will work, even scraps. I chose some beautiful clear cedar, but that's totally not necessary. Tip: Ask your local lumberyard if they have any scraps or imperfect pieces laying around that they could give you or sell to you cheaply. And, most stores will even cut the board for you.

Once you have the board cut to size, grab the closest guy and have him rout the edges for you! Just kidding; girl, you got this! Routing isn't necessary either, but it makes nice finished edges. There are all sorts of router bits, so get creative!

Once the edges are routed, use a pal, sander to smooth any uneven surface. You can also use a piece of sandpaper. Next, paint the board! For this particular hanging rack, I wanted more of a shabby look so I applied a lighter coat to let some of the grain show through.

I then went over the board with a piece of sandpaper and roughed it up a bit to further achieve the look I was going for. Next, I measured the board and decided where the knobs would go. Once I had it all figured out, I marked each spot and pre-drilled the holes.

Choose some knobs and make sure you have screws that fit each knob. Mixing and matching knobs creates a fun look. My knobs were given to me by a hardware store that discontinued several lines of their knobs. Their old display = inspiration and project time for me! Other thoughts: traditional hooks would also look great on this rack.

Attach the knobs and add some brackets on the back for easy hanging and you are done.

I love these hanging racks. The two below are hanging in my closet. These provide a fun way to display and store jewelry, purses, jackets, and more.

This is probably my favorite edge- I love this router bit! So classy.

Power tools: yes or no?

With a little guidance, I love to work on projects requiring power tools. 
I used to be afraid of them, but there're really nothing to be scared of :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Healthy "Baked" Apple

I hope you all are having a fabulous week. It's a busy one for me... I'm heading out of town this weekend for a Tai Chi training. Tai Chi is very new to me and it's been very interesting to learn about this ancient practice. 

If you're like me, you've been indulging in a lot of treats and delicious food lately. I'm using Easter as an excuse. In times like this, I need healthy snack ideas to help get me back on track. So, to help combat overindulging, I'm sharing a guiltless, yet delicious recipe with you today.

Fruit is probably my favorite food group. I almost always get the recommended serving of fruit each day, but sometimes plain ol' fruit just doesn't seem to be satisfying... especially when I have dessert on my mind. With this easy recipe, a plain apple quickly transforms into a delicious treat- a Healthy "Baked" Apple

And the best part? It's totally guilt-free!


1 apple (I used Golden Delicious for the sweetness)
1 tablespoon raisins
Dash of cinnamon


Wash and core the apple. Cut the apple into 8 slices. On a microwave-safe plate, cook the apple for 2-3 minutes, or until you have reached your desired tenderness. Sprinkle on the cinnamon and add the raisins. Allow the apple to cool for a few minutes before enjoying.

What's your favorite healthy snack?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cranberry Cashew Oat Bars

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you all have a fabulous day spending time with those you love. 

I had the chance to dye some eggs with a few kids at work on Thursday and we had a ton of fun. I seemed to have forgotten that simple activities like dyeing eggs can make a child so happy.

I know you're probably loaded up with fun Easter candy and delicious food, but when you're ready to escape the sugar high you're bound to experience, give this tasty and wholesome snack a try!

I mentioned before that I'm trying to buy less of the store-bought processed snacks and snack bars to fuel my everyday life and workouts. It's sometimes tough finding a tasty, nutritious, and portable snack to take with me to work. These Cranberry Cashew Oat Bars are perfect for nutrition on-the-go. These bars are completely customizable: swap out your favorite dried fruit for the cranberries and your favorite nut for the cashews. Also, if your family likes a sweeter snack, add your favorite sweetener and make this bar as an afternoon treat! The possibilities are endless. 

Cranberry Cashew Oat Bars

Makes 8 generous bars, or 12 smaller bars


1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped cashews
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup skim milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350* and spray a 9" x 9" baking pan with nonstick spray. In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk and vanilla and mix well. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown along the edges.

*The only sweetener in these bars is the berries. Feel free to add 1/4-1/3 cup of your family's favorite sweetener.

Recipe inspired by

And if you're looking for more healthy snacks, check out these:

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Bars

Whole Wheat Banana Oat Muffins

Whole Wheat Applesauce Muffins

Friday, April 18, 2014

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Cakes

Hooray, it's the weekend! Does anyone else have today off from work? I'm so excited to have a long weekend... I've got a lot of catching up to do around the house.

I love sweet potatoes. They I mostly eat them as "fries" baked in the oven for a side dish, but sometimes I want something a little more filling and satisfying. This sweet potato cake is full of good stuff: black beans, oats, and sweet potato. You don't need to be a vegan to love these!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Cakes


1 large sweet potato, boiled until the skin easily comes off
3/4 cup black beans, if using canned beans drain and rinse them
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup oats
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika


Preheat the oven to 350* and spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. In a a small mixing bowl, mash the sweet potato. Add the beans and combine. In a separate bowl, combine the oats and remaining ingredients. Mix well. Add the oat mixture to the sweet potato mixture. Mix well. Divide the mixture into 5 black bean and sweet potato cakes and place them on the baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn them over and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. Switch your oven setting to broil for the last few minutes, if desired.

Serve these Black Bean and Sweet Potato Cakes as-is, serve on a bun, or eat it in a lettuce wrap.

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter  and beautiful spring weather... whether it's really beautiful out there or if it's just tropical in your mind :) 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easy Spring Wreath

I hope you all are having an amazing week so far. Today, I'm sharing a fun spring wreath I recently made. It was so easy to make and it's so simple, yet lovely. Perfect for the whole spring season!

This wreath starts with a wreath form (available at craft stores) and burlap ribbon (I got mine at Wal-Mart for less than $3). Begin by wrapping the wreath form with the burlap ribbon. Wrap the burlap tight enough so that it doesn't come loose.

Once you have completely covered the wreath form, cut the excess burlap off and secure the end of the burlap with a few dabs of craft glue or hot glue.

Next is the fun part! Add whatever fun spring embellishments you wish to add: Easter eggs, flowers, etc. I added little birds nests with faux robin eggs-- so perfect for spring. You can find similar nests here and here. Finally, attach a big ribbon for hanging and you're good to go!

Are you ready for Easter?
I'm still finalizing our menu, but other than that, we're good to go!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jelly Bean Infused Vodka

Hello, hello. Easter is just around the corner! For the last month, I've been seeing tons of Easter recipes and crafts and I thought it was time for a grown-up Easter treat. 

Gather up the jelly beans because I'm going to tell you how to make Jelly Bean Infused Vodka! A fun take on your evening or weekend cocktail, this infused vodka takes on the flavor of jelly beans and tastes even more delicious than it looks.

Jelly Bean Infused Vodka


1/4 cup jelly beans (single flavor works best, but feel free to experiment)
1/2 cup vodka


Place the jelly beans and vodka into a glass container with a lid. Shake the jar and let it sit for at least 2-3 days. Shake the jar a few times each day. Strain the vodka (coffee filters work great) and discard the jelly beans. Chill and serve! You can drink the vodka as-is or mix it with your favorite champagne. 

What's your favorite jelly bean flavor?
I'm all about orange.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Etsy Easter Finds

I love turning to Esty for thoughtful handmade gifts, unique pieces for the home, and inspiration for crafts. Holiday browsing on Etsy is also fun and Easter is no exception. There are endless handmade dresses--perfect for that spring get-together, handmade Easter baskets and basket stuffers, and spring decor to spruce up your home. 

Below you will find a few of the items I've been swooning over. Click on the links for the individual Etsy shops.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

5-Ingredient Cinnamon Popovers

Ever since I shared my favorite recipe for Popovers a few weeks ago, I've been dreaming up all sorts of recipe variations. I've tried a few, but this 5-Ingredient Cinnamon Popover is one of my favorites. It reminds me of the delicious breakfast foods I love--- french toast, cinnamon-sugar toast, coffee cake... but these yummy popovers are much better for you! 

They're light, fluffy, full of deliciousness, and practically guilt free. Served alongside scrambled eggs for a nutrition-packed breakfast or eaten as an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee, you and your family are really going to enjoy these popovers!

5-Ingredient Cinnamon Popovers

Makes 6 Large Popovers


2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 400*F and grease and flour a popover pan, 6 six-ounce custard cups, or a muffin pan.

In a small mixing bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Fill the Popover cups until 1/2 full and bake for 20 minutes. After the initial bake time, reduce the oven temperature to 350*F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the popovers from the pan and serve them hot.


Recipe adapted from

View my original post for Perfect Popovers for tips and tricks on making perfect popovers every time.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Easy Painted Mason Jar

Our daffodils have been blooming like crazy over the last few weeks. It's a sure sign that spring is finally here, whether the weather wants to admit it or not... 

I often arrange flowers in mason jars; it's simple and easy. And if the jar breaks, it's no biggie. In an attempt to spruce up my mason jar, I bought enamel paint to add some color. This paint has a bit of a frosted look, which was really neat. I didn't realize that it was frosted paint until after I baked the jar, but if I had realized prior, I would have put the paint on the outside of the jar. Either way, it still looks great and it was a really inexpensive solution to pretty-up a plain jar. 

To get this look, clean your jar with rubbing alcohol and let it dry. Apply DecoArt Americana Frost Glass Enamel Paint. I used their turquoise paint; it made for a beautiful contrast!

If you are painting the inside of your jar, squirt 2 ounces (depending on the size of your jar) of paint into the jar and rotate the jar until it is fully covered in paint. Flip the jar upside down and allow the excess paint to drip out for about 15 minutes. Placing your jar on paper plates or newspaper works well. After, turn your jar upright and let it dry.

If you are painting the outside of your jar, grab a brush and start painting!

Once you have painted your jar, (either the inside or outside) allow it to dry for 4 days. Once 3 days has passed, bake your jar at 275* for 30 minutes in a non-preheated oven. Let the mason jar cool with the oven door open.

The photo below is a more realistic representation of what the color looks like.

**For safety reasons, if you plan on drinking out of your jar do not paint the inside of the jar. I wouldn't recommend putting paint anywhere that your lips would touch.

Does it feel like spring where you live??

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Daily Food Log Printable

Hello, hello! I hope all of you are having a great weekend. Tomorrow starts a new work week and with that, a fresh start for reaching food and fitness goals. I've been making a conscious effort to increase my fruit and veggie intake, and also my water intake. This is where my food log comes in handy! 

Food logs aren't only for dieting or counting calories. When I write down what I'm consuming, I tend to be a bit more conscious of my food choices. I'm more likely to reach for that apple or those carrot sticks instead of some other snack that might not be as beneficial or nourishing for my body.

If you're interested in logging your daily food intake, feel free to use this free printable!

Friday, April 4, 2014

2-Ingredient Lemon Cake + Condensed Milk Glaze

I don't think that there's anything worse than when you're baking and all of the eggs are gone. So frustrating! Because the cake can't wait the 10 minutes it would take to drive to the grocery store to buy the eggs...

Did you know that you can make a perfectly moist cake with just these two ingredients?

Yes, I know! I caught on to this trick last summer. Don't ask me how, but it works! A boxed cake mix and a 12-ounce can of soda makes perfectly moist cake. Wonders will never cease to amaze me. And it works for other types of cake too: orange cake with Sunkist, Chocolate Cake with Coke, Vanilla cake with Sprite. Oh and brownies, but that's a whole other story. 

My parents were just as amazed when I made this cake for them. The cake itself is very moist and the glaze soaks right into the hot cake, making for a perfectly sweet and delicious lemon cake. 

2-Ingredient Lemon Cake with Condensed Milk Glaze


For the cake

1 box of lemon cake mix (just the mix, no eggs or oil)
1-12 ounce can of lemon-lime soda

For the glaze

1/2 can sweetened condensed milk (half of the 14 oz. can)
3/4 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar


Preheat the oven to 350* and spray a 13" x 9" baking pan with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry cake mix and the soda. Mix well. Bake the cake for 20-22 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the sweetened condensed milk, butter, and sugar. Increase the heat to high and boil for two minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the icing/glaze over the cake while the cake is still warm.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Perfect Iced Coffee

When it's warm outside, iced coffee is a crucial part of my morning routine. I love stopping by my favorite local coffee shop to get my fix, but the cost of that daily fix starts to add up really fast. I'm thrilled to now have a super quick and easy way to make my own iced coffee. It doesn't involve fancy equipment, tools, or ingredients.

Perfect Iced Coffee

Brew your favorite coffee to your desired strength. Keep in mind that iced coffee will get watered-down by the ice, so be sure to make it just a bit stronger than your normally would drink it. While the coffee is still hot, transfer it to a glass mason jar (or another container that can withstand the heat) add sweetened condensed milk to taste. The sweetened condensed milk adds the perfect sweetness and there's no need for creamer. Let cool and refrigerate. Pour the cold coffee over ice and enjoy!

If you drink coffee, do you like it hot or cold?