TONE IT UP Workout : {Birthday Workout With My Gals}

IMG_5066 I love celebrating my birthday every year with my girlfriends….yes I love my birthday and I’m not ashamed to admit it!  This year, we were lucky enough to go to a free group workout by my fave fitness trainers…..Karena and Katrina from Toneitup.com ! I am a Tone it up member and I love this program and these ladies (even if my waistline doesn’t always show it lol).  They are so positive and encouraging and you can’t help but want to be healthy when watching their videos or following them on social media.  So when I found out they were having a workout in Manhattan Beach, CA (35ish minutes from me)….I begged my girlfriends to come join me as a birthday celebration and luckily most of them could make it!  It was so much fun…but holy cow was it exhausting! These girls kicked my butt!
IMG_5069We worked out at an empty sound stage on a studio lot.IMG_5067They had a table set up in the back with free Perfect Fit protein shake samples and Perfect Fit Tone It Up brownies. 
IMG_5068The brownies where flourless and made with bananas and the protein powder…I want the recipe!IMG_5077They gave everyone a little bag with a sample of the Perfect Fit Vanilla protein powder, a recipe card, and a cute little Perfect Fit drink umbrella!IMG_5071IMG_5070We are ready to workout!…or so we thoughtIMG_5078It was a bit of a quiet room which surprised me…I kept giving out little hoots because I was so excited when they came out!
IMG_5156This pic is from their instagram of the event…best part…LIL JON was the DJ!!  It was so bomb!  I wanted to stop working out and just have a dance party! Our initial stretch was to his song and we said “To the window (stretch one direction), to the wall (stretch the other direction), ’til the sweat drops down your exercise ball!” (giggles ensued)IMG_5087Seriously we were dead after!  I have never sweated so much in my entire life…plyo jumps are no joke!IMG_5095We quickly freshened up and changed clothes in the parking structure, applied a lot of deodorant and body spray, and headed out to a celebratory dinner (we earned it right??).  We went to Hudson House in Redondo Beach.  (If you are a top chef fan…the owner is runner up contestant Brooke Williamson).IMG_5094They had delicious cocktails (like this tiki drink), and the truffle fries and pretzel burger where to die for! 
IMG_5171And there we are, front and center (well a little to the left).  Such a fun time! Thanks K & K for a great birthday!  If you have never checked out their workout videos…do it! So fun!  

XOXO,
Care

Halloween Dessert Lasagna Recipe : {A Festive Fall Dessert}


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Is it too soon for for a YUMMY FALL DESSERT?! I’ve already seen Halloween decor, costumes, and treats in the stores…so why not add to the early fall craziness lol.(Clearly my daughter approves haha).

My daughter and I made this fun recipe together in a big casserole pyrex dish…but it can also be made in individual cups for a Halloween party or class.

We used the recipe from one of my fave Chocolate Lasagna’s here ….and then changed it slightly…but it’s a super fun, easy, and kid friendly recipe!

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Begin by crushing all the Oreo cookies.  I put mine in a ziplock bag and crushed them with a rolling pin (but a food processor works too).  Roll until all the chunks are out and it is a fine crumb consistency.
  2. Transfer 1/2 the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl (or one bag of oreo’s worth). Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.
  3. Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 Tablespoons of milk, and sugar, and mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups Cool Whip. Then mix in several drops of the food coloring (I did this until it turned into the color I desired).  Spread this mixture over the crust.
  4. In a bowl, combine chocolate instant pudding with 3 and 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until the pudding starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer. Allow the dessert to rest for about 5 minutes so that the pudding can firm up further.
  5. Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top.
  6. Spread evenly the remaining bag of crushed oreo’s on top as the graveyard “dirt.”
  7. Then decorate your graveyard however you like (with the milano cookies sticking out, worms coming out, and pumpkins….get creative!)
  8. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

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Happy Fall everyone!

XOXO,

Care

TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® pods : {A Yummy Review!}

“This post was sponsored by Starbucks as part of an Influencer Activation. I received compensation and complimentary products to facilitate my review.”

Time to get sweet and spicy! My friends at TAZO® sent me some amazing goodies from their Sweet Meets Spicy Collection to try and I am so excited to share about them with you all.  First of all, I am a coffee girl, and I use my Keurig® everyday!…but usually with some generic coffee that I buy at the grocery store…nothing fancy.  So I was so excited to get the opportunity to try these TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® pods and get fancy!  These K-Cup® pods are great because you can buy them to make at home whenever you want your own Chai Latte…or whenever your in the mood for some spice!

So come into my home with me to explore this world of flavor…..

This is what came in my package….how cute is this box!?IMG_6798IMG_6820When I opened the box it unfolded so pretty with all these goodies!  Is that Padma Lakshmi?? I love her!  This New York Times Bestselling author and host has some fun things to share and is partnering with TAZO® too because tea and chai have always been a part of her life and heritage.  IMG_6828IMG_6830Umm yes please to this spoon and cup!  IMG_6832Included in the box are some great sweet and spicy recipes that pair perfectly with a chai latte by Padma!  You can find the recipes too at: TAZO.com/chai/pairings.IMG_6845Oh Hey Padma…I see you using the cinnamon sugar chips recipe I love so much…(Remember my bunuelos blog post??)
IMG_6840So to make my own creamy chai tea latte at home, it will just take these two steps apparently….but we will see!IMG_6836Step 1: Pour dairy packetIMG_6847Step 2: Put TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® pod in Keurig® and brewIMG_6856IMG_6861Step 3: Stir and enjoy!  The dairy packet did not fully mix after the TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® pod finished…so be sure to stir.  But it’s seriously that simple and quick!  I LOVED IT!  It was spicy, warm, creamy, but sweet.  Very comforting….all I need now is a robe and a fireplace haha.  IMG_6866

Drink up sweet friends and grab your own TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® pods at TAZO.com/wheretobuy!!  For more information about this, check out here: http://TAZO .com/chai

XOXO

I’m A Winner : {Le Mignon Macaron}

IMG_6937Le Mignon Macarons recently had a giveaway via their Instagram account for a free dozen macarons…and I won!  I was so excited and they were so delish that I had to share about it.  Le Mignon sells macarons for weddings, parties, and to order just for yourself haha.  Go on and check them out!  I received three flavors: Salted Caramel, Matcha Green Tea, and Vanilla.  They were all so delicious…I think the green tea was my fave! (My hubby’s was the caramel).
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My Faves of Portland : {Making the most of a short trip}

IMG_6371_2“Keep Portland Weird” is a phrase that was painted on the wall of a local pizza place by our hotel…and it says so much about Portland!  Portland is weird and quirky and artsy and beautiful and they own it!

Because my mom is a cosmetic laser trainer and travels all the time; training clinics and doctor’s office staff on their newly purchased lasers….she gets to travel and earn lots of travel points and rewards!  So we used some of her rewards points and had a mother/daughter trip to Portland two weeks ago!

It was a short trip (Sunday night-Wednesday evening) so we had to make the most of our time to ensure we saw everything we wanted to.

Despite only being there a few days, I FELL IN LOVE WITH PORTLAND!  It had all the best things of a big city: tons of things to do and see, so many great and unique eateries, amazing parks, quirky neighborhoods, etc……but it was so much better than most of the famous big cities I have visited!  Mainly because it was clean, lush and green, the people were so friendly, and it was oh so quiet!  Of course being the socal girl that I am….it helped that it didn’t rain while we were there :).

Here are just a few highlights and recommendations on where to eat and what to see when there….especially if its only for a short time!  Prior to leaving I scoured blogs, Pinterest and yelp to make sure I hit great spots.  Plan a trip there soon friends!!

EAT:

  • VooDoo Doughnuts – Famous for their crazy donuts
  • Salt & Straw – Amazing & unique ice cream flavors (like Olive Oil)…plus this is in a cute neighborhood that I wish I had time to really explore!
  • Tasty & Alder – Great breakfast biscuits! (although I still need to try Pine St. Biscuits)
  • Veritable Quandary – The Bacon Dates app was on point, and everything was so delish here…but make a reservation!
  • Cheryl’s on 12th – Not only did I chat and talk about babies with the actual Cheryl, but my mother and I shared drinks, chatted, and showed off baby pictures with a lovely couple sitting next to us.  Oh yeah and the food was great…I had a fig & goat cheese sandwich!
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters – The best coffee…seriously so smooth and delish!  You will find a number of cafe’s and bakeries around the city that promote that they brew Stumptown.
  • Lovejoy Bakers – Grab a Stumptown coffee and a pastry and you can sit on their adirondack chairs and just relax..taking in the Pearl District!
  • Petunia’s Pies & Pastries – Vegan Bakery…my mom was obsessed with the raspberry bars
  • Ken’s Artisan Bakery – We had an amazing lunch here…the bread is so fresh and I love that goat cheese came on the salad.
  • Andina – Peruvian Food (I recommend the cheese plate & quinoa crusted shrimp)
  • Isabel – Yummy latin breakfast (I had the artichoke scramble)
  • Lonesome’s Pizza – Open late and cheap delicious slices from a tiny speak-easy type window (Cash Only)

SEE:

  • Washington Park – There are endless things to do here.  You can visit the zoo, rose garden, japanese garden, tree arboretum, children’s museum, etc.  And the hiking…oh the amount of trails!
  • Waterfront Park – This runs along the river which divides Portland and it is a great walk where you can take in all the gorgeous bridges!…just watch out for all the bikers!
  • Keller Fountain Park – This is a fountain (although it didn’t have water when we were there) that just looks so cool!

SHOP:

  • Powell’s Bookstore – THE bookstore in Portland
  • The Pearl District – This was my favorite neighborhood to explore.  It has a ton of cute shops, adorable homes and apartments, art installations and sculptures line the streets, and it is just oh so hip feeling haha.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • You can’t catch cabs in the city…just from the airport or if your hotel calls one for you
  • The train/bus system is awesome but you can walk the city fairly easy (when you stick to one side…I.E. the Westside or the Eastside)
  • Best months to travel there are August and September…a friend from there told me Don’t go in the fall!…you can seriously get just drenched by the rain!
  • They offer great tours…like bike tours and brewery tours.
  • If you do rent a car…there are lots of one way streets and you have to pay for parking pretty much wherever you go in the downtown area…but I didn’t find it was too hard to find a spot or too expensive.
  • Traffic going in and out of the city can be rough so plan ahead when trying to catch a flight.

I MUST go back…and maybe I will bring the hubby along next time :).

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My favorite cheat sheet/map that I found! IMG_6379_2We loved our stay at the Embassy Suites Downtown…the decor was so 1920’s art deco…and the accommodations were great!
IMG_6510No joke the cheese plate at Andina’s…the corn nuts!…so good 
IMG_6514 IMG_6473Our appetizer at Veritable QuandaryIMG_6469_2These cinnamon/sugar puffs (like a beignet) come free as you wait for your meal at Cheryl’s on 12th!IMG_6458This is at Washington Park and there were just so many trails!….I was almost expecting Edward Cullen to walk out from behind a tree.
IMG_6461Lush lush lushIMG_6446These are the drinking fountains that are spread around the SouthWest side of Portland…they are all around and the water constantly flows!  Plus the water there tastes AMAZING!IMG_6443_2Keller Fountain Park…would have been so cool if it was flowing…but still so beautiful.IMG_6441_2Walking along Waterfront ParkIMG_6426_2VooDoo Doughnuts…the line can get cray so go when its slow!IMG_6419_2This place is so adorable and the vegan treats were delish!
IMG_6409Our lunch at Ken’s Artisan BakeryIMG_6398_2At Lovejoy BakersIMG_6400_2Oh you know…just a baby on a bench :).  IMG_6392_2Such cute homes in The Pearl!IMG_6391_2Oh I love all the greenery!

There were a ton more places to see and eat at but there just wasn’t time (feel free to comment if you want more recommendations).  So….looks like I will just need to go again.  Until next time PDX!

Maple Bacon Cookies : {Oatmeal}

IMG_4289One of my favorite donut combos is maple and bacon, and I love any desserts that are salty and sweet.  A local donut shop called the Donuttery has a maple bacon donut that is out of this world.  I wanted to recreate that same taste but I didn’t want to make a donut…so I started thinking of how I can add it to a cookie.  I decided that an oatmeal cookie would go great with a maple glaze and bacon…it makes sense right?  Maple and oatmeal?  They are all breakfast food items right?  Anywho, my hands down favorite oatmeal cookie recipe is the Pioneer Woman’s Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookie Recipe.  So I made that recipe and made up a maple glaze, cooked some bacon, combined it, ate it, and swooned.  Give them a try if you are a maple/bacon fan!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Salted Butter, Softened
  • 2 cups Packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 3 cups Old Fashioned Oats

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tblsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp maple extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Cup of milk (You can add more milk or powdered sugar to change the thickness of the glaze)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
IMG_4249Mix dry ingredients.IMG_4238In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each one.IMG_4250Add dry mixture to creamed mixture in 2 to 3 batches, mixing it until just combined.IMG_4254Mix in the oats until just combined.  IMG_4260I ran out of parchment paper (which is what I prefer to use), but foil worked fine…just make sure it is lightly greased.  Bake about 15 minutes (take out a little earlier if you like them chewier or leave longer for crispy cookies).IMG_4280 IMG_4271Combine all the ingredient to make the glaze in a bowl, and dip the cookies ONCE THEY ARE COOL. IMG_4266My favorite way to cook bacon is on a wire rack, in the oven, at 350 degress about 8 minutes per side.  It makes them perfect strips.IMG_4283Cook bacon until their desired crispiness and then blot with a paper towel, and cut little bacon squares or crumble.  IMG_4287Dress the cookies and enjoy!

Lemon Cookies : {For my sweet Grandma}

IMG_4302My Grandma had a fall recently so she hasn’t been up for going out and getting her sweet treats from the grocery store….which if you know my Gram, is a tragedy because she loves her sweets.  So my mother-in-law brought me this cute tin with this note from her:IMG_4304Since she loves lemon I found a great lemon cookie recipe here.  The recipe originally has a lemon glaze but since she isn’t into cookies with lemon glaze I added more lemon to the actual batter and left out the glaze and it was just as delish and not messy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

IMG_4249Mix together all dry ingredients.IMG_4236With an electric mixer, whip together butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium-high speed, until mixture is fluffy. IMG_4270Then mix in egg, then egg yolk until combined, then mix in lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets and cook for 10 minutes (or until desired crispiness…I love crispy cookies).IMG_4299IMG_4315Once the tin was full, I still had a lot more cookies so I used the extra thank you gift bags left over from Evangeline’s Valentine’s Day Birthday Party.

Afters Ice Cream : {The Milky Bun}

IMG_3191So there is this new type of dessert/dessert place that is all the rage around these parts (Fountain Valley/Huntington Beach).  Its called Afters Ice Cream.  I have a feeling this is the beginning of a new dessert trend.  Every evening this place has a HUGE line (like Diddy Riese in Westwood) …and one week night I decided to brave the long line and give it a try.

What they are known for is the “Milky Bun.”  In a nutshell it is ice cream, and a topping, sealed in a warm donut.  As you eat it the ice cream melts a little and causes the donut (or bun) to get “milky.”  What I love is that the ice cream flavors are very unique!  For example when I was there these were the flavors available:  cookie monster (full of Famous Amos cookies), salted caramel, churro, mint chocolate chip, jasmine milk tea, milk and cereal, almond cookie, and my favorite…Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter flavor.  The toppings are a variety of cereals, cookies, and candies.  The donut is a choice between plain or glazed.

Our Milky Bun Creations:
IMG_3180IMG_3189I opted for a glazed donut, with cookie butter ice cream, and captain crunch. Honestly this was not a winning combo.  It was way to sweet and I couldn’t get through half of it without feeling a little nauseous.  IMG_3190My husband chose a glazed donut, salted caramel ice cream, and cinnamon toast crunch for his topping.IMG_3187My husband loved his Milky Bun creation…..I tasted it and it was far superior to mine.  I think a lot has to do with the combo of ice cream/toppings you get.  But still I think it is something that is shareable since it is so sweet.  Next time I will just get the ice cream (no donut) because the flavors are great and no one else has them!

Buñuelos : {Cinnamon Sugar Chips}



IMG_4219This Mexican dessert was a favorite of mine growing up that my mom would make and buy for us. Traditionally buñuelos are in a more tostada shape….not chip shape, and you can take the time to make them from scratch but this is an easier, quicker and just as delicious way to make them from home. I love making these when we are having guests over because they are always a crowd pleaser, great to eat on their own or added to ice cream like shown above!  These will be great as a Cinco De Mayo dessert!

Directions:


IMG_4177 Combine cinnamon and sugar in a bowl until it’s a dark brown color like shown. (I never measure this out but just mix until it looks like this….feel free to do a taste test of the mixture to make sure it isn’t too cinnamon-y for you. IMG_4180I love these raw tortillas from Costco but you can use any store bought/pre-made FLOUR tortillas.
IMG_4182 IMG_4205Cut the tortillas into triangles (or keep it whole for a tostada shaped dessert). IMG_4185 Fill up a pan with veggie oil…..about 1/2 high and heat on medium/high heat. IMG_4188 Prep is KEY when making Booners (as I like to call them), because once they start cooking the process is fast!  This is my set up: pan, baking sheet with layers of paper towels to absorb the grease, cinnamon/sugar mixture bowl to dip, then serving bowl for finished chips. IMG_4194 Heat the oil. I sprinkle some water into the pan……and if it sizzles it’s ready to go. But the temp for those who love specific directions was at least 180degrees. IMG_4200 Flip booners once they are golden brown. IMG_4201Transfer cooked booners to the paper towels to soak up excess grease.
IMG_4202 Dip still warm booners into cinnamon and sugar mixture and coat both sides. IMG_4203Feel free to tap the booner a little to dust off any excess cinnamon and sugar. 
IMG_4217IMG_4228Now enjoy!

Nékter Cleanse : {A Review}

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I was searching for a cleanse to kick start my eating healthy/weight loss for the new year, and my sister recommended the Classic Nékter Juice Cleanse.  You can do it for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days.  They recommend 3 days to fully rid your body of toxins.  I however, I only did 2…3 sounded so scary!  But the cleanse was SO much easier than I thought!….I could have easily done the 3 days, and probably will next time I cleanse.

The Classic cleanse consists of 6 Juice’s you drink each day, one juice every two hours.  If you get hungry and just have to eat something, you can have raw almonds or some avocado slices wrapped in lettuce.  I only got hungry once because I skipped Juice #4 and ate almonds instead.  Besides that, the juice’s, tea, and drinking lots of water kept me totally full and satisfied!

How did they taste?  I am not one of those girls who enjoys green juices.  I go with my Mom to Mother’s Market sometimes and she loves getting huge juices full of spinach, beets, kale, etc.  And I just gag!  I tried the Master Cleanse once and I only lasted 2 days.  Not because I was hungry, but because I just couldn’t stomach the taste.  Which is why I couldn’t drink Juice #4 from this cleanse…..it has the EXACT same ingredients as the Master Cleanse.  (Can’t handle the Cayenne Pepper!)  But if you are someone who is cool with veggie juices, then this cleanse will be extra easy for you.  As for me, I plugged my nose and chugged most bottles.  Only bottle #6 could I really sip and enjoy….that thing is like eating chocolate cake after you have been eating dirt all day.  (Dramatic much?)

Even though I didn’t love the taste of most of the juices, I loved the cleanse.  It was doable, I rarely was hungry, I lost 5 pounds in water weight, and I felt great after!  It was exactly what I needed to kick start my healthy eating and living!  And you get to keep the cute green cooler bag which I have been using to carry all my healthy lunches to work!  I will definitely do it again!

Here is a description of the different juices:

Drink #1 
Your first drink of the day is a blend of delicious vegetables like kale and spinach with a refreshing kick of cucumber, apple and mint. Day One is packed with antioxidants and vitamins to detox your kidneys, liver, pancreas, and blood. It’s a fresh start for your system and already it’s singing “Thank You for this amazing drink!”

Drink #2 
You’ll continue your day’s cleanse with a light and delicious trio of pineapple, cucumber and coconut water. The pineapple acts as an anti-inflammatory. Electrolytes are bursting out of the bottle to help you stay hydrated. This will leave your insides feeling happy and clean.

Drink #3
Halfway through! This alkalizing green blend features the Mean Greens: spinach, kale, and parsley. We’ve added lemons as a natural antiseptic to help zap the toxins. This blend will help detoxify and stimulate the antibodies. Snack on some almonds if you need to!

Drink #4 
Meet Skinny Lemonade. We’ve blended lemons and cayenne pepper, a little sweet and a little spicy, to give you a refreshing, but very important drink. The cayenne helps bring blood to the surface and allows those toxins to easily leave your body. A NEW you is just around the corner.

Drink #5 
You’re almost there! The very last green drink of the day, we made sure was a tasty one. Apples are added for sweetness and packed with soluble fiber to help clear those nasty toxins from the colon.

Drink #6 
You made it! Your very last drink. We like to refer to it as dessert because it is sweetly flavored with vanilla beans that have anti-nausea and calming properties. Plenty of protein and minerals that aid the lymphatic system in waste elimination make this a perfect, last drink. Congratulations on a successful Cleanse! We hope you feel great!