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Cooking Light Quesadillas!

pomegrante guac

It’s no a secret that I have a [major] crush on Mexican/ Southwestern flavors. So when I saw this recipe in the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light, I didn’t think twice about giving it a go.

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You can find the original recipe here. Adorable bowls found here. True to fashion, I altered the recipe up a bit. Added a few things and switched up the prep to accommodate dinner guests :)

  • In addition to the lime infused Greek Yogurt [which is great] to dip the dillas’ in, I made some guac. However, this was not just any guac. Along with the usual chili garlic sauce, sprinkle of cumin, S+P… I added pomegranates! I’ve seen this a couple places recently and have been wanting to try it. Besides the obvious sweet and salty heaven this creates, it also makes for a gorgeous pop of color. Highly recommend!
  • I had a couple of my lady-frans over for dinner when I made these guys. So to accommodate my meat eating and non-meat eating friends alike, I kept all of the ingredients separate until it was time to put them together and cook up. The recipe tells you to combine the chicken & mushroom mixture. No need if you want to make it more customizable!
  • Also — I used rotisserie chicken instead of poaching chicken breasts as the recipe calls for. Rotisserie chickens are delicious, cheap, and a fast option [plus who can resist that aroma annnd raw chicken breasts freak me out]. To get the most out of the whole chicken, I usually pull the legs off and set them aside for dinner that night or later in the week. Then I shred the breast meat and keep it on hand to go on top of salads, in wraps, or for recipes such as this. Did I mention they’re scrumptious? Just so we’re clear.
  • I also used coconut oil instead of EVOO to ‘fry’ these up in the pan and added black beans to the ingredients list to give it a little extra something — especially for my friends who were going sans meat.

cookinglightquesadillas2 This one is a winner. Like winner winner chicken…you know.

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Frederick’s Organic Skin Care

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I’m really excited to introduce you guys to this great little company blooming right here in our [Maryland] backyard. Frederick’s Organic Skin Care is a family owned and grown business that has developed some pretty fantastic products. Matt and Angie are the husband and wife duo who operate this business from all sides. They live and breath their products — using them daily and creating them from scratch.

Organic [anything] kind of gives you that warm-fuzzy feeling that you’re doing something good for yourself. I’ve always invested in organic food but can’t really say I’ve always invested in organic beauty/ skincare products. But when you think about it, it’s really the same kind of investment. You’re eating organically because you believe in nourishing your body with well-grown, hand crafted, locally sustainable, artisan made, chemical-free whole products. Well all of that good thinking should go along with the stuff you’re rubbing in your skin…not just the food you’re putting in your mouth. It’s a simple concept but one that can easily get lost. Thankfully there are people out there [like Matt and Angie] who are refocusing our commerce in the direction of that kind of thinking. Here’s to small business, locally grown, and healthy lifestyles. Heck yes!

Lucky for me they sent me a few of their products to try out. All of their products are made with Organic, Wildcrafted, All Natural, and 100% pure ingredients. Kinda luxurious if you ask me! Check out some of the products that I sampled…

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This Lavender Cedarwood Whipped Body Butter is luxurious whipped shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, vitamin e oil and olive oil. These provide the skin with the finest moisturizing benefits possible. Packed with Vitamins A and E, and essential fatty acids. It’s like butter in your fingers and goes on smooth. I loved using this on my dry-winter skin right when I got out of the shower. They are not kidding when they say it’s like butter in your fingers. But the way it melts in your skin and keeps it moisturized is truly awesome. I’ve been using it for only a about a week now but feel like I can tell in difference in my skin’s tone, smoothness, and softness. Yes, please!

Ingredients: *Shea Butter, *Coconut Oil,*Cocoa Butter, *Olive Oil, Vitamin E oil, *Lavender Essential Oil, *Cedarwood Essential Oil

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 Need a good scrub-a-dub? This stuff is the stuff! The Revitalizing Lemongrass Tea- Tree and Myrrh Facial Scrub smells amaaaazing and does wonderful things. Lemongrass is an anti-microbial and anti-bacterial herb. The herb also acts as an astringent, which constricts the skin. This helps to minimize pores, decrease oil production and provide a temporary skin-firming treatment. Tea Tree oil is also called medicine oil. It has amazing healing properties, antibacterial and antifungal. Excellent for acne treatment, comparable to benzoyl peroxide and though tea tree oil is slower to show benefits than benzoyl peroxide. It results in less itching, scaling, and irritation. It aids in disinfecting the pores, and drying out whiteheads and blackheads. Myrrh essential oil is believed to have analgesic, antiseptic and astringent properties. Helps combat wrinkles as it is a powerful antioxidant. Lavender helps stimulate new cell growth and regeneration. Calming for skin and also antibacterial and anti-aging. See? I told you, this is the stuff! It does all the stuff. I used this in the shower after I washed my face and got a good steam going. My face felt so smooth and fresh. Nothing like a good exfoliation in the winter months [or any month] to waken those skin cells back up and get that glowy-complexion thanks to new found circulation pumping through your face! Best part was my face didn’t feel tight and dry as soon as I was out of the shower like it would in the past with other scrubs. Sold.

Ingredients: *Sugar, *Grape Seed Oil*, vitamin e oil, *Castile Soap, *Lemongrass Essential Oil, *Tea Tree Essential Oil, *Lavender Essential Oil, *Myrrh Essential Oil.

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This Rejuvenation Eye Cream is packed with a punch of green tea, rosehip seed oil, shea butter, carrot seed, peppermint, frankincense, geranium and rosemary essential oil. Formulated to combat the signs of aging as well as decrease puffiness and under eye circles.This eye cream is the bees knees! Anyone 25 and older should be using an eye cream. Hello. This is specially blended for the delicate skin around the eye area. With our chronically busy lifestyle these days, who doesn’t need this? Has a very soft mild pleasant scent and felt lovely on my bags…I mean eyes.

Ingredients: *Green Tea,*Rosehip Seed Oil, *Grape Seed Oil, *Shea Butter, emulsifying wax, citric acid, vitamin e oil, *Carrot Seed Essential Oil, *Peppermint Essential Oil, *Rosemary Essential Oil, *Frankincense Essential Oil, *Geranium Essential Oil

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The Anti-Aging Facial Serum is one of their best sellers. And I can see why! It has a great scent and after application your skin feels amazing. Like “hey everyone, come see how good I look!” amazing. Both Apricot Kernel Oil and Rosehip Seed Oil absorb into your skin nicely without leaving an oily residue. Truly a powerhouse of effective essential oils for aging and promoting beautiful skin. The moisturizing, nourishing and revitalizing properties of apricot kernel oil combine well with essential oils, to create a superb facial oil. A wonderful facial oil for those with mature skin or prematurely aged skin. Light and absorbent and highly potent. This whole putting oil ON your face was a new thing for me. For years I’ve been trying to get rid of any sign of oil on my face. Turns out it’s all about the oil balance ya’ll. 28 and just learning this. Pause, reflect. Moving on… Use this after cleansing and toning, in place of facial moisturizer or use before using a facial cream. It’s kind of spa-like-heavenly…at home.

Ingredients: *Apricot Kernel Oil, *Rosehip Seed Oil, *Frankincense Essential Oil, *Myrrh Essential Oil, *Lavender Essential Oil, *Carrot Seed Essential Oil, *Patchouli Essential Oil  

 

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Saving the BEST for last. The Refreshing Coconut Oil Cleanser was my favorite! Add a deelightful, rejuvenating experience to your daily facial cleansing routine. Once you try it you will never go back. Seriously. Like I said, using oil-based skin products is new to me. I’m used to commercial brands that boast “oil-free.” No more. I’m hooked. Everything about this cleansing process felt very different than my typical cleansing routine. First of all you rub a generous amount of cleanser on face and neck. Then saturate a washcloth with hot water and wring the washcloth so that it’s not dripping water. Then apply the damp hot cloth to your face. Allow the steam to work the cleanser deep into the skin, and remove once the washcloth gets cool. Repeat (up to 3 or 4 times) then wipe excess oil off face. After I washed it off, my face didn’t feel tight or dry [as it typically does after a deep cleanse] instead it felt refreshed, very smooth and hydrated almost to the point that I didn’t need to apply any extra moisturizer. Plus it’s great at removing makeup. Like all of your makeup. You know that feeling when you ‘wash your face’ after a long day or big night out with lots of makeup and it just still feels like there’s a layer of gunk still on it?  With this cleanser you actually hear your skin take a deep breath. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating. But seriously. It like reallllly cleans your face. My pores look smaller, my skin is hydrated in the dead of winter, and I can’t stop touching it because it’s so soft! So, yeah I’m a fan.

Ingredients: *Coconut Oil, *Shea Butter, *Castor Oil *Eucalyptus Essential Oil, *Lavender Essential Oil, *Clove Essential Oil.

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Please join me in supporting small business, this sweet family, and their amazing products [which you can buy here]. Get to know them better here and stay connected by ‘liking’ their page on Facebook. Do something good for yourself, from the outside-in.

 

please note: I was compensated for this post and sent these products…
however all opinions and thoughts  are my own.

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breakfast & lunch prep for the week!

After the hustle and bustle of the holidaze it’s nice to get back into a bit of a routine again, isn’t it? As a creature of habit and a self-proclaimed ‘structured free-spirit’ routines center me and bring a sense of clarity & ease. As much as I love flying by the seat of my pants…when it comes to some routines Martha would say, it’s a good thing.

Something I like to do on Sundays is prepare breakfast and lunch for myself for the week. Since this act is currently solo, it makes for a simple task and a wonderful stand-by to have during the week when I wake up with just enough time to pull myself together, grab my pre-made breakfast & lunch, and trip out the door.

Below are the two recipes I made for myself this week. Nothing fancy or too complicated. Just simple-colorful-fresh ingredients, bright flavors, and whole foods. Sometimes I really don’t feel like preparing these things, especially when it’s just for myself & there are about 27 shows & 14 books I’d like to catch up on. But! Really why not treat yourself to a homemade breakfast and lunch for the week? By the time Monday and/or Tuesday morning roll around I am always mighty grateful I took the 45 minutes to put all of this together. Hope it inspires you to do a little something for yourself today that your future self with thank you for. For me, it doesn’t take much.

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Southwestern Sweet Potato Scramble & Sesame Hoisin Tofu Stir-Fry

Ingredients

Southwestern Sweet Potato Scramble
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cups baby spinach
7 eggs
2 cups shredded cheese
2 tsp ground cumin
3 strips of bacon
salt and pepper
Sesame Hoisin Tofu Stir-Fry
1 cup sugar snap peas, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
8 oz of firm tofu, cubed
1 small medium red onion, chopped
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp crushed ginger
1 tbsp honey
1 cup cooked rice mixture of choice

Instructions

    Southwestern Sweet Potato Scramble
  1. Begin by cooking bacon in pan over medium high heat. Turn often to prevent burning. Remove bacon once cooked through -- reserving drippings in the pan.
  2. Add onion, sweet potato, and green pepper to hot pan with drippings. Season with salt and pepper to taste.Cover and lower heat. Cook until potato becomes tender with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile beat eggs together in a separate bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove lid from simmering vegetable mixture. Turn the heat back up. Add spinach and season with cumin, Racheal Ray Grinder and s & p to taste. Toss until spinach begins to wilt.
  5. Add egg mixture to hot pan with veggies. As it begins with bubble, using a spatula begin to scramble the eggs with the vegetables.
  6. Lower heat, top with cheese, and cover to melt.
  7. Top with crumbled bacon & serve immediately or put into containers for the week. This amount makes enough for 4 containers with approximately 1 cup of the scramble in each.
  8. To reheat, place in microwave for 1 minute.
  9. For an extra kick add sriracha. Enjoy!
  10. Sesame Hoisin Tofu Stir-Fry
  11. In a hot pan, heat 2 tbsp of sesame oil. Add chili garlic sauce, honey, ginger. Whisk together until it begin to bubble. Then whisk in hoisin sauce. Bring to a bubble.
  12. Add tofu letting it sit in pan before turning it to create a brown crusty layer. Add vegetables after about 2-3 minutes of tofu cooking.
  13. Cover and lower heat. Let tofu get a brown and crispy as possible by not touching it or stirring much. Once the vegetables are tender, remove from heat.
  14. Add one tbsp of sesame oil to cooked rice while fluffing. Serve immediately with veggie mixture, or place in containers for lunches for the week!
http://thedailydeelight.com/2015/01/3148.html

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stay warm friends & eat well.

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Gifts that Give!

To me the holiday season is all about giving. Ever since I was little I’ve loved finding the perfect gift for the people I love. The thrill of seeing unguarded-human reaction when opening thoughtful gifts is such a natural high for me. I truly do enjoy giving more than receiving, I always have. Not to say I won’t accept gifts…don’t get crazy! I’d rather get gifts in the form of experiences with the people I love, like a trip or a show rather than a thing. However, when that ‘thing’ does something with the money you use to purchase it, then that object becomes more than just a thing. It becomes a symbol of goodness that’s being done. And lets face it, there’s so much goodness that needs to be done in this world. Lucky for us, there’s also a lot of do-gooders out there doing the good. They’re producing products and services that allow consumers to reach out with their money in a way that they themselves may not have been able to.

Below I’ve compiled a list of some of favorite causes & brands that are doing the good with your money. No surprise that these causes surround food. Sadly it’s no secret our country / world is in the throws of a ‘hunger epidemic.’ Between economies crashing, global weather patterns shifting, and the lack of education about sustainable food sources…we’ve found ourselves in an alarming situation. People can try and point fingers, but that just wastes time and energy. Why not funnel that energy into something productive, positive, and progressive?! These companies & organizations have found ways to create ‘things’ that do major things for others around the world and in our communities. Tis’ the season to give; why not give a gift that truly keeps on giving?

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I learned about FEED Projects when they partnered up with Target a couple of years ago. Their founder/creator is Lauren Bush Lauren. As a World Food Programme (WFP) Honorary Student Spokesperson, Lauren visited countries around the world in Asia, Latin America, and Africa where WFP is operating, and was inspired by the plight of the people she met on her travels. She took a special interest in WFP’s School Feeding program, which feeds and educates hungry children. After witnessing the effects of hunger firsthand, Lauren founded FEED in 2007 with the mission of “Creating Good Products That Help FEED the World.”  You can read more about FEED’s history & involvement here. Their mission is pretty clear ; FEED’s mission is to create good products that help FEED the world. We do this through the sale of FEED bags, accessories, and apparel by building a set donation into the cost of each product. Thus the impact of each product, signified by a stenciled number, is understandable, tangible, and meaningful.

Over the years I’ve purchased FEED products for myself, friends, and family. I’ve always found their products to be of great quality and sustainability. This t-shirt is my latest purchase of FEED products. Just by purchasing this shirt I’ve helped to provide 10 meals. 10! That’s awesome. Their products range from bags (big and small), t-shirts, bracelets, hats, and even aprons & oven mitts! Check  out their full line of apparel and other goods here. As of today, they’ve provided over 85 million meals world wide. Yeah. Let’s keep that going!

 

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Ok, by now we’ve all heard about TOMS and their one-for-one shoe program. No? Well, if you by a pair of TOMS shoes they’ll give a pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS has come along way & has done a tremendous amount of good. Along the way they’ve helped other companies who want to do the good too. They’ve provided a platform for them to sell their products on. It’s called TOMS Marketplace & you have to check it out. Established in 2013, TOMS Marketplace is a platform for social entrepreneurs. Shop jewelry; accessories; bags, totes, and clutches; clothing for women, men, and kids; home goods; headphones; and more. TOMS Marketplace, a new destination for making a difference. It’s a like a ‘giving the good’ portal. It allows ‘unknown’ artisans a place to showcase their goods. When browsing you can click on the artisan or shop name to find out more about what they’re connected to and what your money will be supporting. It’s truly inspiring to see so many people producing beautiful things with the intent of giving back.

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Sevenly is another platform for giving good. They began in 2011 by four people who shared the mission of leading a generation toward generosity. Based on a core belief that “People Matter,” they began a journey to do their part in helping to change the world for the better. Activating the “cause art” movement worldwide, Sevenly began by creating 7-day cause campaigns, inviting customers to purchase products that gave $7 to a weekly charity. Now widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading “social good” companies, mashable.com just named Sevenly “America’s most social business” and “one of the Top 10 Stories in the First 10 Years of Facebook.” They have a huge collection of items that are fantastic. Any would make a lovely gift. Or let your gift-tee choose their own treat with a gift card!

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Half United [fashion that feeds] is a company that was started by a brother & sister with just $200. Their intent was to help fight global hunger. They also just happen to be from my college town of Wilmington, NC. This company has blossomed into a thriving business that now partners with major players in the socially conscious retail world like, TOMS. Half of the profits from all items go to fighting the global hunger epidemic & their products are American made! As they said… “Our mission is to change the world and that starts with the people in our own backyard.” This necklace is one I gifted myself for my birthday. Feels good to know one necklace helped to provide a weeks worth of meals to a child in need. Since 2010 they’ve helped to provide over 115,000 meals. That’s quite impressive for a grassroots company, or any company for that matter. Their products range from their original ‘fighting hunger necklaces‘ made from recycled bullet casings to earrings, bracelets, clothing, and now journals & pencil sets. The necklaces are a great choice for a bold yet simple statement. Conversation starters are my favorite kinds of accessories. Accessories that speak for themselves…yes, please. #doyourhalf

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On the local level, I love supporting organizations like Seed of Life Nurseries. They offer a fantastic CSA (community supported agriculture) program that make an amazing gift for the food lovers in your life. Who wouldn’t want farm-fresh produce hand picked and packaged on a weekly basis? Not only that, with the money spent on your ‘share’ of produce SOL turns around and supports the local community with food drops to families in need, cooking classes for youth, and agriculturally centered programs that provide ‘awareness and dignity’ to those involved. Through teaching cooking classes & volunteering at events I’ve been lucky enough to get to know the family behind SOL Nurseries. Talk about good-doers. Through their dedication, education, and emphasis on lending a helping hand wherever it’s needed; this is one organization that truly builds community. Find out more about their CSA programs here  and give a gift that gives back in more ways than one. #shoplocal #supportlocal #supportlocalfarms

 

Happy Holidays to all. Give the goods that give back this year. But remember, it’s the gift of joy & laughter that is the greatest gift of all. So eat, drink, and be merry—the giggles & ‘joy to the world’ will surely follow!

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