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FIVE RECIPE IDEAS FOR A GROUP

Girls nights have quickly become part of our weekly routine. Whether it means ordering takeout, cooking a quick meal or getting fancy, we always seem to get a small group together for wine and a little mid week hang out. Making friends in a new city can be so hard and I am so lucky to have such a great group that took me in with open arms! Each week we try and come up with a quick and easy meal to try. Here are a few favorites and a few new ones to test out!

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LOVE YOU, FRIDAY

Ali Schilling in Cuyana

We are headed to Scottsdale tonight for a fun-filled weekend. It’s my best friend’s 30th birthday and another besties bridal shower on Sunday.  You can follow our shenanigans here. The weather is going to be perfect, a high 77º, so you can bet we will be laying by the pool.

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COOKING DETAILS: HEALTHY BANANA MUFFINS

Healthy Banana Muffins

In effort to start baking and cooking more at home, I took this Sunday (while my husband was watching football) to test out a few new go-to recipes for the week.  First up on my list was these easy banana muffins.  They are the perfect quick breakfast when you are on the go in the morning.  Reheat them all week and spread a little almond butter on top for extra protein ;)

Head to the bottom of the post of the full recipe.

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RECIPE DETAILS: TURKEY CHILI

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When the temps dropped under 90 last week, the first thing on my mind was chili. There is nothing that gets me more excited about Fall than cooking.  I definitely go through stages in the kitchen.  Some months I spend all my time searching for new recipes and meal prepping and other months you can find us eating takeout 4 times a week (I am definitely no Martha Stewart).

This past weekend, I flipped my switch and I am ready to get back into the kitchen.  To ease myself into my new routine, I decided to go with a tried and true recipe: turkey chili.  I have been making this meal for the last few years and it is a household favorite, especially on football Sundays.

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COOKING DETAILS: LAST NIGHT’S DINNER

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The first week of every year I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the new year with a fresh outlook.  Last year I said I was going to cook more at home and this year I am determined to make that happen.  My plan: Ease into cooking 4 nights a week at home (because let’s be honest by Friday I am going to need a glass of wine and probably a cheese board-even though I am not supposed to have it).  I recently found a great clean eating guide that helps with portion control while still enjoying a well balanced diet.  Year after year, I say to myself I am cutting carbs and eating only fruits and veggies to cleanse my body. About 2.5 days into my cleanse I cave and order a pizza and it all goes down hill from there. Well today, I  hit 2.5 days and I am still feeling good thanks to my plan to not deprive myself of the foods I love. Instead, I have been enjoying smaller portions once a day.

ROASTED VEGETABLE ROTINI

Yields 4 servings

1/2 box of Whole Wheat Rotini

3 large carrots

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

2 broccoli floretes

1 carton of cherry tomatoes

1/2 red onion

Obviously this recipe can be adjusted to using any veggies you love (these are some of our favorites and what I had in the fridge).

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Step 2: Roughly chop all veggies so they are approximately the same size and lay flat on a baking sheet.  Take 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and drizzle on veggies.  Add salt and pepper as desired. Place baking sheet in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.

Step 3: Boil pasta until al dente (approx. 12 minutes for whole wheat). Drain pasta and place into a large bowl.

Step 4:  Take veggies out of the oven and toss into pasta bowl.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.  Add a little fresh parmesan cheese to taste.

We added grilled chicken to this recipe for extra protein.

What are some of your cooking goals for this year?  I would love to hear! Also, if you have any great, easy recipes send them my way :)

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COOKING AT HOME: AN UPDATE

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So remember this post from a few weeks ago? Well I thought I would share a quick update which involves a lot of cooking highs and lows.

Since my post, we decided to we would make an effort to make dinner at home at least three days a week and supplement with either a quick trip to Whole Foods or date night.

Here are a few of our favorite dinner recipes that have been added to our weekly rotation:

Deb’s Kale Salad ( thanks Merritt for introducing me to the best salad I have ever had!)

Chicken Stir Fry with Quinoa

Roasted Cauliflower with Turkey Bolognese

Broccoli and Cheese Quinoa Bake 

Spinach Salad with Strawberries

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IN THE KITCHEN: FUNFETTI CUPCAKES

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Nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should. – Julia Child

One of my favorite things to do is bake. For me it is therapeutic, and there is something exciting when your masterpiece turns out just right.  I have not been baking lately because 1. I eat everything I make, and 2. I am trying to live a healthy lifestyle. This means 2 sticks of butter in the frosting alone, is probably not the best way to go about eating clean.

Since it was Valentine’s weekend, I decided to make an exception and found a recipe for some homemade Funfetti cupcakes.

Funfetti Cupcakes (modified from How Sweet Treats)

Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 cup sugar

2 whole eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup 2% milk (I used Almond milk instead)

1/3 cup assorted brightly colored sprinkles + more for top of frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients. Fold in assorted sprinkles. Pour into cupcake tins. Bake for 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Let cool, then frost.

Vanilla Buttercream

2 sticks of butter, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoon of milk, if needed (again, I used almond milk)

Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixture until completely smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar slowly. Gradually increase mixer speed and add vanilla, then beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl. Add milk, if frosting is too thick, if the frosting gets too thin add powdered sugar gradually until it thickens. Frost cupcakes and top with sprinkles.

Then enjoy!

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photography by ALB for A Dash of Details 

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