Yummy Meatless Stuffed Peppers

Meatless Stuffed Peppers

This dinner could not be easier or more healthy! I found it on the side of my bell pepper package. It’s the perfect colorful dish to serve in the summertime, but hearty enough to make year round. I absolutely love stuffed peppers! The cost is less than $4 per serving, so make as many or as few as you need, I guarantee you’ll want seconds. :)

IMG_6612The great thing about these peppers is that you can use as much filling as you want, and you can really add any ingredients you have leftover in your kitchen! – mushrooms, tomatoes, corn, spinach, beans, quinoa, peppers, just mix it right in, it’ll be delicious. I like to make extra filling and eat it plain or over pasta the next day!

5-Ingredient Meatless Stuffed Peppers

5-Ingredient Meatless Stuffed Peppers

Whatcha Need

  • 6 bell peppers, seeded, with tops removed
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 garlic cloves, sautéed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce

Whatcha Do

  1. Boil 4 quarts of water, add peppers, cover and boil 3-4 minutes to soften. Drain.
  2. In a bowl, combine rice, corn, beans, garlic and tomatoes. Add any other ingredients you wish (turkey, meatless crumbles, vegetables etc) and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Stuff peppers with the mixture. Stand peppers upright in an 8x8 dish. Pour any remaining tomato sauce over the peppers.
  5. Cover with foil. Bake 10 minutes. Uncover, bake 15-20 minutes longer until soft. Top with cheese if desired.
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If I Had One Last Meal, Bandeja Paisa Would Be It

Have you ever played that game with your friends: what would your last meal be and why? It’s kinda morbid, when you think about it, but the point is, you think about it! You ponder every food you’ve ever had… would it be sweet? Salty? Exotic? Homestyle? What would your final meal be, and why??

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If it was my last day on earth and I needed to have a last meal, I would answer within seconds to whoever offered: Bandeja Paisa.

Bandeja Paisa is one of the most well-known Colombian dishes, and was introduced to me through a friend who is very passionate about his Colombian roots! The platter made up of several different foods all on the same tray, served with the nickname “heart attack on a plate”, and for good reason. Bandeja Paisa includes: steak, fried egg, beans, rice, chicharrón (pork rinds), plantains, avocado, and sometimes, sausage, chorizo, or an arepa. If you’ve never had this amazing dish, Google your closest authentic Colombian restaurant, and visit tonight! You won’t be disappointed, I promise. [Las Tablas in Chicago is fantastic, AND BYOB!]

Bandeja PaisaWill you try my favorite meal ever?? What would your last meal be?

Heavenly Grilled Peaches

Heavenly Grilled Peaches

There’s nothing that screams summer dessert like grilled fruit! It’s healthy, easy cleanup and preparation, and inexpensive for when you have guests over. Mascarpone cheese is an italian cheese made from cream. It’s naturally sweet and has such a creamy texture, it’s perfect for sweet desserts like this.IMG_5620

If you’re looking for a sweet treat that doesn’t break the bank or your skinny jeans, try out this heavenly peach dessert tonight!

How to Pick the Best Peaches

Heavenly Grilled Peaches

Heavenly Grilled Peaches

Whatcha Need

  • 4 Peaches, halved and pitted
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey to drizzle
  • Sliced almonds

Whatcha Do

  1. Lightly butter both sides of peach halves. Grill on medium heat for 4-5 minutes each side. Allow to cool a few minutes. Top halves with a dollop of mascarpone, cinnamon, almond slices, and honey. Serve warm!
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Tips to Host a Successful Book Club

My coworkers get together for a book club every 6 weeks or so, and I was super excited to have the opportunity to host the club at my house this summer! Book clubs are such a fun and unique way to come together with friends, have great, open conversations, and read a book that you may not have otherwise picked up. Here are my tips on how to host a fun book club. :)

Tips for Book Club

Choose a book that interests YOU

I struggled with choosing a novel for our summer book club, but I got some great advice from a friend – she said “pick a book that YOU like, and then your passion and interest will shine through at the meeting, so everyone else will just follow suit!” I thought that made great sense, so I stopped thinking about a book that everyone would enjoy (spoiler alert – that’s probably not gonna happen anyhow), and chose a book that I had been wanting to read: The Rosie Project. This NY Times Bestseller is lighthearted, cute, and an easy read, so I thought it would be perfect for some brain-dead teachers on their summer break. :)

Give plenty of notice

Pick a date that most people can come to and that you feel comfortable hosting. You don’t have to host at your house, we’ve had many successful book clubs at restaurants and there’s no planning or cleanup involved! I sent out a Facebook event invite about a month before, so people can put it on their calendar and hopefully make it.

Have great snacks

Food, wine, and books make my world go ’round, and book clubs are an excellent opportunity to merry the three! I made four dishes for my 10-12 guests (click for the recipe): zucchini pizza bites, mango avocado salad (which the main character in the book actually makes himself!), sweet & savory glazed meatballs, and strawberry shortcake kabobs for something sweet. Members offered to bring food as well and that was such a great help! Plan ahead and have a potluck, or grab some snack yourself, but either way, make sure there’s something to munch on.

Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

SISTER TIP: If you have 10 members, try to divide it like this: 3 appetizers, 3 drinks, 2 dessert, 1 salad!

Prepare questions

One of the most fun parts of a book club is the discussion element. You find out all sorts of fun facts about people, and really get to know each other on a personal level! My local library actually provided a binder with question stems and a discussion guide to get the conversation flowing, with questions that related to our book (i.e. the main character, Don, shared that the best day of his life was at the Museum of Natural History. What was the happiest moment of your life?) You can find questions online or prepare your own!

If you’re a book lover, check out my friend’s blog here! She shares her favorite reads, book reviews, and other lovely tips for readers of all levels. :)

What tips do you have to ensure a successful book club??

How To: Homemade 5-Gallon Bucket Seats

DIY 5 Gallon Bucket Seats

I love this DIY idea, especially as a teacher! My students are obsessed with these bucket seats, they use them every day for centers, read aloud time, and independent work. They help teach the idea of sharing, cooperation, and responsibility, and they brighten up the room too.

I’ve had my old bucket seats for two years now, so I figured it was time to make some new ones. I posted directions below in 5 easy steps! Make some for your home, workspace, or classroom, too. :)

Whatcha Need:

5-gallon buckets with lids (they sell $3 buckets at Home Depot; I got mine from my parents’ ice cream store!), spray paint, cardboard circle cut-outs, multipurpose foam, adhesive spray, staple gun, 3-4 yards fabric of your choice.

 

Whatcha Do:

1) Spray paint the buckets with the color of your choice. This is optional, but it covers up anything that may be on the buckets, and it makes them way cuter! I recommend two coats. Make sure you use spray paint for PLASTICS – WalMart sells them for $4 each.

2) Cut out circles from the cardboard that are big enough to fit on top of the lid, maybe a little larger if you want the fabric to spill over a bit. Use this template to cut your fabric and foam for the top of the “seat”. You’ll need about 2 feet x 2 feet of fabric per lid.

3) Glue the cardboard circle on to the lid, and then glue the foam on top of the cardboard. Use the adhesive spray for this or a glue gun, just make sure it’s really on there tight!

DIY Bucket Seats

4) Wrap the fabric tightly around the lid. Use a staple gun to hold it in place.

5) Voila! You have a lovely bucket seat that doubles as a storage container. These five bucket seats took about 3-4 hours. Big shout out to my parents, the best crafty peeps in the game.

DIY Bucket Seats

SISTER TIP: I’ve heard that Lowe’s or Home Depot are willing to donate these buckets for classroom use. It’s always worth calling to ask! Hey, you’ll save 10 bucks!

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Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

COOKIES FOR BREAKFAST?! How many of you said that in the Cookie Monster voice? No? Just me?

These cookie bars are delicious. They’re moist (I know, I hate that word too), light, fluffy, and wholesome, with good-for-you ingredients and plenty of fresh blueberries! I modified the Food.com recipe a bit, and I think these are great for kids and adults alike to wrap up and take on the go.

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Word of advice: If you decide to make these treats for others, just make sure there’s a nice visible sign next to them that say “BLUEBERRY cookies”. This ensures that your friends don’t bite into them thinking they’re chocolate chip and consequently hate you and have trust issues for the rest of their lives.

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Whatcha Need

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter (you may sub applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (add more if desired)

Whatcha Do

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar. Add in egg and vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Slowly add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl.
  4. Gently fold in blueberries.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto lightly greased cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 14 minutes, until brown.
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4 Must-Dos for a First Trip to San Francisco

San Francisco is an incredible city, and my first time there was unforgettable! If you haven’t been to this unique town, I definitely recommend a long weekend ASAP. My recommendations are mostly touristy/first-timer type stuff, but I think those things are necessary and super fun!

San Francisco First TimeFood Tour in the Mission District

Walking food tours are an awesome way to get to know a little history of the city, meet owners of unique restaurants, try tasty dishes, and not have to wait in line! I booked an Avital Food Tour of the Mission District – a perfect choice due to the incredibly intricate street art in that area. It’s around $80/person, but worth every penny.

An awesome organic, vegan sweet potato quesadilla from "Gracias Madre".
An awesome organic, vegan sweet potato quesadilla from “Gracias Madre”.

Bike Ride Across Golden Gate Bridge

This bike trip was unbelievably cool. There’s tons of bicycle rentals all around the city, but I recommend San Francisco Bike Rentals – their customer service was great and the price is a totally doable $25 for a whole day rental. The bike path is easy to follow and takes you right across the Golden Gate Bridge (not for the faint of heart!). The trip to Sausalito took about an hour and a half, and then you can take the ferry back to the wharf for about 10 bucks.

Sausalito

This adorable fisherman’s town is like an American version of the Amalfi Coast. It is so beautiful, with hills, little shops, restaurants, and of course, seafood. You can spend a few hours here after your bike trip, and I highly recommend eating at Fish – the most amazing and fresh oysters, crab roll, and fish and chips I’ve ever had!

Fresh west coast oysters from "Fish" in Sausalito.
Fresh west coast oysters from “Fish” in Sausalito.

Alcatraz

Unfortunately, I can’t write about this experience because they sold out of Alcatraz tour tickets two weeks before I called to book. :( This group offers a notoriously amazing tour of Alcatraz and Angel Island, but since it was a holiday weekend, they only offered a few tours and the tickets were snatched up quickly. My advice is to call and secure your Alcatraz tour as soon as you know you’re going to San Fran. From everything I hear, it’s an unforgettable experience!

What have you done on your trip to San Francisco??

3 Things: Organic Products I Used Today

Organic products are grown without pesticide, sewage, hormones, genetically modified organisms, or radiation. So is it worth my money? I’m starting to think YES.

Although I don’t buy everything organic (yet), I have officially made the switch with tons of food and beauty products. Here are three organic products I’ve used today (or yesterday, I guess when you’re reading this!) and the benefits they offer:

1) Yasou Natural Skin Care

Yasou Body Cream

Ok, this lotion is absolutely incredible. The inspirational story behind the Greek creator of this new company is full of soul-searching and girl power – I love it! Yasou (pronounced ya-su) makes natural skin care for your face and body, and includes renewal creams, firming creams, and body lotions. They sent me some natural body lotion to try out, and I have literally become obsessed with it. My favorite part about this hydrating body cream is the aroma – I can’t even describe how soothing it is, you’ll have to grab a sample for yourself! I surveyed a few friends and family members, and they agreed. It’s super thick and rich, and it’s seriously my favorite part of my morning and night ritual! I like putting something on my skin that I know I can trust, and the ingredients are 99.5% natural and contain certified organics. I’m sold. :)

Follow Yasou on Facebook here!

2) Organic Edamame Spaghetti

I’m always looking for interesting alternatives to your everyday wheat noodles, and I think I found it – at Costco! This organic edamame spaghetti was SO good, I was truly shocked. I mixed it with a homemade avocado and basil cream sauce and although the texture is a little thicker and rougher than average pasta, it tasted fantastic. It’s very high in protein (24g per serving!) and high in fiber as well, which are both great for your bod. It’s a bit expensive, around $10 per box, but you can find it cheaper online if you dig a little.

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3)Badger Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

This sunscreen was recommended to me by my natural esthetician, who said it’s perfect for my sensitive skin, and 100% certified natural. Zinc oxide is actually revered as one of the safest sunscreens, since it protects UVA and UVB rays fully by sitting on the surface of your skin. This also makes it a bit hard to rub in, and the whiteness of this Badger sunscreen can be annoying, but completely worth not getting wrinkles while I age! I bought mine from Amazon for under $15, but I’ve seen it at Whole Foods, too! Protect yourself, people!

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A Toast to America

This toast is such a cute way to celebrate the 4th of July this weekend! Make this adorable snack for a special breakfast in bed or to get your picky kiddo to eat more fruit and whole grains. :)

Patriotic Toast

A Toast to America!

A Toast to America!

Whatcha Need

  • Ezekial bread, toasted
  • Goat cheese or cream cheese (lite)
  • An assortment of fruit - blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or bananas

Whatcha Do

  1. Spread the goat cheese or cream cheese over the Ezekial toast. Place blueberries in top left corner to resemble the stars of the flag, and line up raspberries, strawberries, or bananas to be the stripes! Yum. :)
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Jumpers are for Big Kids too

I can’t help but blog about what I wear in the summer because I spend all winter daydreaming about the fun outfits I can put together, and when it’s finally warm, I find any chance to go out and wear them!

Discovery Blue Jumpsuit

I found this unbelievably cute $14.99 pant romper at Discovery Clothing a few months ago, and it’s been hangin’ back in my closet waiting for the perfect opportunity to come out and play. Fourth of July (and mild temperatures in the 60s throughout June, wtf) are a winning combination for this jumpsuit!

Blue Jumpsuit

It’s so flirty and playful. I dressed it up with my Carrie Bradshaw sparkle heels and finished the look with some Top Gun-style Ray Bans, in honor of the news that they’re filming a sequel right now (yes, it’s true!)

Blue Discovery Romper

What do you think? Can adults pull off onesies too?? :)