Meals I Met and Liked: Holiday Mania

After the Thanksgiving festivities, I kind of don’t want to think about food for awhile. I’ve been focusing on simple, healthy meals like big salads and egg scrambles…anything light and easy to throw together! But no doubt I’ll be craving the good stuff again soon, so if you’re in the same boat, here’s a recap on some amazing tasty eats and treats I’ve made in the past couple weeks.

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1. Apple Cider Donuts (Thanks, Brynne!) These were a huge hit at Brynne’s brunch party awhile back and I made them since then, though they weren’t quite as good as hers ūüė¶
2. Pumpkin Sugar Cookies (Thanks, Kelli!) Ah-mazing. The kind of pumpkin cookie I’ve been seeking out for awhile. Although the classic pumpkin chocolate chip cookie is good, this is a fun twist!
3. White Bean Stew So easy and perfect for a rainy/snowy day! You could definitely do variations on this one. I used garbanzo beans instead of white beans.
4. Autumn Couscous Salad¬†Just sings of fall flavors…even though winter is almost here!

5. Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins.¬†These were Liv’s first taste of a muffin. I just handed it to her and she went at it, eating the whole thing in no time! Baby- and adult-approved.

 

I Tried Blue Apron (and Didn’t Get Paid To Do It). Here’s My Review!

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They say that the more you see an advertisement, the more inclined you are to buy it, try it, or talk about it with other people. And after seeing Blue Apron reviews on about a million blogger’s sites, the power of advertising took me over.

I really thought it was a bad idea at first, but the positive reviews got me curious enough about it that when I saw a 2-Meals-Free promo on Facebook, I went for it. Since everyone who got the meals for free seems to have a glowing review, I thought I’d add my two cents after having no incentive to give a positive review.

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Pumpkin Food Roundup

Every girl in the world is absolutely ga-ga for pumpkin-flavored treats, and I am no exception. Any time I see pumpkin something-or-other at the grocery store I have to fight the urge to throw it into my cart immediately. But after the urge has been fought for a moment or two, I turn around and decide to go for it. Life is short, and pumpkin season is even shorter. So here’s a roundup of the best treats I’ve tried!

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First off, I warn you to avoid Trader Joes if you’re trying to resist pumpkin treat mania. I saw some post about all of their pumpkin seasonal treats and there were seriously at least 25…so let’s assume those are all amazing and try to look at some other treats that aren’t specific to Trader Joes! (Although I couldn’t help but add a couple from there).

1. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix. Yes, let’s start out with TJs so we can get it out of the way. I crave pumpkin pancakes pretty much every winter morning, so it’s nice to have it all in one convenient package and not have to do it all myself. Add chocolate chips and you’ve got breakfast delight. (Or dinner…or lunch.)

2. Pumpkin Spice M&M’s. Okay, the jury is kind of still out on these, but they’re unique enough I had to add them to the list. With every bite it’s like…is this really good? Or kinda weird? But then I keep eating them. I actually think the peppermint ones are much better.

3. Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato. The heavens sang when I saw this one while unsuccessfully trying to pass by the ice cream aisle without a second glance. It’s important that you try this one.

4. Pumpkin Pie Lara Bar.¬†For those moments when I realize I don’t need a treat, but I do need a treat. Enter: the healthy treat.

5. Stephen’s Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate. Stephen’s is a local specialty, and when it comes to powdered hot chocolate, it can’t be beat. So, of course the pumpkin pie flavor is the best of the best.

6. Ben &¬†Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake. Normally Ben & Jerry’s is not a huge weakness of mine – I’d rather have gelato or frozen yogurt. But pumpkin cheesecake cannot be passed up.

7. Farr’s Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt. As I said, frozen yogurt is my number one frozen treat. Farr’s is some of the most creamy and flavorful around. I can never stay away even though I’m mad at them for always closing early.

8. Stonewall Kitchen Maple Pumpkin Butter. Trader Joe’s has pumpkin butter that we have been plowing through all season, but¬†maple¬†pumpkin butter takes it up a notch. Add it to oatmeal, put it on toast, graham crackers, in smoothies, etc etc etc.

9. Great Harvest Pumpkin Bread. It’s like a delicious, moist bundt cake, really. But it’s bread so you don’t feel quite so bad.

 

7 Rock-Your-World Ice Cream Shops

If anyone ever asks me, “What are you truly passionate about?”, my answer is usually ice cream.

Once I threw a really big (and I mean BIG) party just so I could make a ton of ice cream flavors and have someone to eat them. We served about 10 flavors (all made by me in the weeks prior) out of my friend’s VW bus on the corner of the street and played music and ate in the front yard among a ton of friends and friends-of-friends, and I was truly happy.

Whenever I travel somewhere, of course I look up the best ice cream places in the area. And when my husband was applying for grad school programs, the proximity to world-famous ice cream shops was definitely a factor in my preference on schools he applied for. Hence, I put together this list. Read, then go, eat, be happy.

7 Rock Your Word Ice Cream Shops #icecream #travel

1. Cupcake Royale (Seattle)

Why it’s on the list: One simple reason ‚ÄĒ their Royale Extra Dark Chocolate ice cream. Unbelieeeevable. Creamy, fudgy…really almost like pudding.

What to get: The Royale Extra Dark Chocolate, obviously. Burnt Caramel is pretty amazing too.

2. Jeni’s Ice Cream (Ohio and lots of other places)

Why it’s on the list:¬†Because I¬†had $120 worth of ice cream shipped from their shop to my front door just so I could experience the beauty I saw on their website. I’ll never regret it.

What to get: Pistachio and Honey, The Buckeye State, Sweet Cream Biscuits &¬†Peach Jam, Savannah Buttermint…really, you can’t go wrong.

3. Salt and Straw (Portland & L.A.)

Why it’s on the list:¬†Because it’s clearly the reigning king of ridiculous creamy goodness that is both zany and always so so good. Salt and Straw is on any and every top ice cream shop list, and it wins on mine too! Their menu constantly changes, and I frequent their website just to see what kind of craziness they have up their sleeve.

What to get: Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Black Pepper, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, Olive Oil

4. Bi-Rite Creamery (San Francisco)

Why it’s on the list: Long¬†before I tasted Salt and Straw, Bi-Rite Creamery stole my heart. This place pretty much invented the Salted Caramel mania that runs rampant in the dessert world now, so that’s enough to earn them a spot on the list. Also, they have soft serve along with their other traditional ice cream flavors. Soft serve will always be my first love.

What to get: Salted caramel, of course! Or brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl, OR really pretty much anything.

5. Smitten (San Francisco)

Why it’s on the list: This ice cream shop in a shipping container gets a lot of attention for its unique method of making ice cream with liquid nitrogen, but rest assured, it’s no gimmick. Making ice cream on the spot, in such a fast process reduces the ice crystals and gives you the most creamy, pudding-like ice cream you’ll ever eat. Super rich, super good.

What to get: Absolutely get the TCHO chocolate with spicy caramel. Every seasonal flavor has been amazing too.

6. Humphry Slocombe (San Francisco)

Why it’s on the list: SF is my homeland, hence the many ice cream shops of the Bay on this list. Luckily, they have a lot of good ice cream. And this place is no exception.

What to get: Secret Breakfast, Cinnamon Brittle, Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip

7. Ample Hills Creamery (Brookyln)

Why it’s on the list: Because even though I’ve never been there I’m confident it belongs here! I may need to travel 3,000 miles to NYC just for a taste. There’s enough hype, mouthwatering flavor descriptions and Instagram photos to justify it. Trust me on this one. (While I trust the internet on this one.)

What to get: The Munchies, Nonna D’s Oatmeal Lace or Snap, Mallow, Pop. (The names!!)

And just to make it clear: sadly and strangely, there¬†is no good ice cream in Utah. None. Mormons love ice cream.¬†Ice cream dates are equal to meeting someone at the bar. Sooooo, you’d totally think….but, no. Maverick frozen yogurt is the best we got! Don’t get me wrong though, Maverick is go-oood. Pumpkin froyo every November, get it while it’s…cold.

(Photo via The Kitchn)

Meals I Met and Liked: Kicking off Fall Cooking

I’ll take all the inspiration I can get for meal planning, so I thought every so often I can share what’s been on our weekly menu. But there are definitely some failures every once and while, so I’ll only share the keepers!

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This past week I went fall-crazy and made a several¬†meals of all fall-ish¬†ingredients. Can’t say I regret it!

1. Butternut Squash Risotto (had people over for dinner and it was a huge hit!)

2. Kale + Arugula salad with Blue cheese, Pomegranate, dried cranberries, candied sunflower seeds and poppyseed dressing (no recipe, just threw it together)

3. Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff (substituted cauliflower rice for real rice)

4. Lemony Chicken & Spring Veggie Soup (opposite of fall – but at least it’s soup!)

5. Apple Butter, Applesauce and Apple Crisp¬†(we picked more than 40 pounds of apples from my cousin’s tree!!!)

6. Roasted Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream (I just used canned pumpkin and pumpkin spices. It was amazing with the apple crisp!)

Photo via The Cozy Apron

Donuts Will Always Be Cool In My Book

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I once wrote this article for Newscastic listing the best donuts in Utah. I consider donuts, pizza and ice cream to be my area of expertise when it comes to food recommendations. Mainly because it’s my area of expertise when it comes to food consumption.

I still stand by my article and posted it here in case you’re on a donut consumption mission too.

But if you want to¬†know the best donuts of anywhere ever, it’s easily the Doughnut Plant in NYC.

(Photo via The New Potato)