Texas State Fair

Everyone has told us since moving to Texas that we have to go to the Texas State Fair and see “Big Tex!”  We visited and had a great time!  We are used to the OC Fair that happens in Orange County every summer, so this felt familiar and fun in comparison.  My favorite thing from the OC Fair is the bucket of hot, mini, cinnamon and sugar donuts …….they are HEAVEN!  But I could not find them here at the Texas state fair.  But where they were lacking in donuts, they made up for in cotton candy…they honestly had the best cotton candy I have ever tasted!  The kids loved the fair (I quietly mourned our Disneyland Days), and we made some great memories.  I am excited about this new fall tradition!

 

My Family’s Favorite Salad : {Kids Eat It Too}

Getting my kids to eat vegetables is almost impossible…but I honestly don’t sweat it that much because I know it will eventually grow on them, they take vitamins, and they seem healthy enough.  But one vegetable they do eat regularly is this Dole Sunflower Crunch Chopped Salad.  No joke…this isn’t an ad, we seriously just love this salad.  We eat it on average at three meals a week at lease I would say!  Because the dressing is a little sweet, and the lettuce, kale and cabbage is chopped so little….the girls gobble it up!  So I thought I would pass it along in case any of you mom’s are looking at a salad to get your kids to try, or an easy salad to take to a BBQ or party.

If I get invited to a party;  I bring this salad.  If I am bringing a meal to a new mom;  I bring this salad.  If I am cooking BBQ;  I make this salad.  I used to get the Sweet Kale salad from Costco that has the craisins and pumpkin seeds in it…but I like this one even better!  The only problem is it’s hard to find at times.  I have only found it at Ralphs & Kroger.  It comes in small bags (like in my picture), and big bags.  Good luck! 
The Salad comes with Bacon, Sunflower seeds, and the sweet onion dressing.  The dressing is kind of a creamy.  Just pour in and toss!

Easy Lemon Salmon

I finally got both my daughters to eat salmon!  Mom victory!!  My oldest (4 year old) has been eating it for a year, and my 2 year old just started eating it a couple of weeks ago and I am so pumped because 1. I hate making them other food when I want salmon, and 2. it’s so good for them!

What got them into it was lemons.  They love “decorating” the uncooked salmon with the lemons I cut because they look like flowers, and then at the dinner table I have more lemons they get to squeeze on it themselves.  Plus, lets not underestimate how cool it is for them when we go to Costco and they can look at the dead packaged fish and then we talk about eating it at home.

Recipe:

I make this salmon once a week at home, and it’s super easy and simple.  I buy the big salmon filets at Costco, and then cut them up into smaller fillets, put them in ziplock baggies, and freeze them for later use.  Then when I know I am going to make salmon, I just defrost them in the fridge the night before.  First thing I do is throw a little olive oil on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Then I place my pre-cut fillets on top and kinda smear the fillets around to make sure they have a small amount of olive oil on them so they don’t stick.  (You can also use olive oil spray).  Then all I do is salt and pepper both sides of the fillets.  (Not too much pepper if you are feeding it to the kids).Next I cut the skin off a lemon, then slice it into the “lemon flower” shape my kids love.Then just place 2 “lemon flowers” on each fillet.   Now bake for about 20 minutes on 350 and thats it! *
*Just don’t eat the cooked lemon that is on the fillets.  Remove them from the fish and just toss them….cooking them makes them taste more bitter and won’t be good.  If you love lemon and want more, just squeeze some fresh juice on top when serving.  Also…it’s very important to use ripe lemons or they will get too bitter and ruin the taste.

Minute Corn : {Trick to Fast Steamed Corn}

Cooking dinner with the kids running around and my husband still at work can get a little crazy.  Why is it they always want to play in the kitchen when I am in there??  Anyway, my kids love steamed corn on the cob and my mother in law taught me this quick and easy way to steam corn…I call it minute corn…really its a minute and a half but whos counting?

Here is how to make it:
Wet a single paper towel (Don’t wring it out) Wrap the wet paper towel over each ear of corn
Place in the microwave on high for a minute thirty and cook one ear of corn at a timeAnd voila, steamed corn!

Tiki Tiki Tiki : {My New Fave}

I have become obsessed lately with Tiki Bars!  My friends Matt & Molly began taking me to some about a year and a half ago and I have been so into the vibe ever since.  Tiki bars are back people!

My two favorite Tiki Bars:

Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas, Nevada…it’s like walking into a Mad Men episode.

Don The Beachcombers in Sunset Beach, California….go to the bar area and they have great food!

As a going away/house warming gift, my friends bought us some Tiki drink glasses and they are adorable so i just wanted to pass them along.  You can get them here.

Every time I went to Frankie’s, I would take the green drink stirrers for my bar cart decor.  They are great and I reuse them all the time and then just throw them in the dishwasher.  

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!