I love making smoothies. In our house, we almost always drink a smoothie for breakfast and I love the way it starts my day with a big punch of nutrition and energy. I've been experimenting with different recipes and this creamy, dreamy orange-based smoothies is one of my favorites thus far. It combines the all-familiar delicious taste of an orange dreamsicle with the healthy benefits of a plate full of fruit. What could be better?
It's that time of year when the weather can't quite make up it's mind. Some days it's as hot as Hades and other days, it's cool, crisp, and windy. I want to wear scarves, hats, and sweaters, but it's just not quite cold enough for that yet. Enter ankle boots--it's the one way I can welcome fall sartorially without unnecessarily overheating myself. Plus, boots are durable enough to allow you to climb on stairway railings. Cuz that's totally normal. Huzzah!
In a sleepy little beach town called Cayucos, California, right off of Highway 1, there is a lovely bakery housed in a red barnhouse-style building that sells delicious, little cookies. It's called the Brown Butter Cookie Company and their signature brown butter cookie contains six simple ingredients. I'm not sure how they do it, but this cookie tastes like heaven on a beach. When you walk in, the folks behind the counter are quick to offer you a sample and as soon as you feel the sweet and salty crumbly texture of the cookie melt on your tongue, you're in trouble. You're in trouble because you immediately feel anxious about buying some of these amazing cookies. And before you know it, you're walking out of the store with a few less dollars in your wallet, but a few more amazing cookies for your belly.
I put together a video re-capping our Western United States road trip this summer. We explored Utah, Nevada, and California by car and it was an incredible experience. On the trip, I remember thinking how amazing it was to see all that this huge, expansive part of the country has to offer. There are so many different landscapes and colors and beautiful natural scenery. There's also something that is so fun and freeing about driving from state to state in your own car. I hope this video captures that feeling of beauty, adventure, and freedom.
To read more about our summer road trip adventures, see below:
A new giant-screen film about Jerusalem is being released in IMAX and other large-screen theaters beginning this month. Jerusalem is not only beautiful and fascinating, it's an incredibly important city that holds a pivotal role in the world historically, spiritually, and politically.
I was blessed to live in Jerusalem for four months and it taught me so much. After coming back to the States, I remember thinking, "I wish everyone could visit and understand this great city." While travel to Jerusalem may not be realistic for a lot of people, perhaps this movie can help increase understanding of this important place in the world.
I love this portion of the filmmaker's statement:
"Our goal is to look at the roots of the universal attachment to Jerusalem: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope the juxtaposition of these different religions and cultures – all with profound spiritual and historical connections to the city – will reveal how much Jews, Christians and Muslims have in common and inspire all of us to better understand each other." Visit jerusalemthemovie.com to find a theater playing the film near you.
Fall is coming... can you smell it? Yesterday the temperature felt a little cooler and I even turned the heater on in my car on my way home. Pretty soon, I'll be pulling socks on my feet and making hot cocoa to stay warm. And scarves. And beanies. And pumpkin bread. And Halloween. And plaid. And rain. And Thanksgiving. And Christmas...Eek! Yay!
I mentioned yesterday that enchiladas are one of my go-to meals. After discovering this amazing recipe for homemade enchilada sauce, I'm even more in love with this great dish. It's delicious, filling, fairly healthy, and it's a crowd-pleaser. Plus, you can add or subtract ingredients to make it suit your own unique tastes: pork, chicken, beef, veggies, cheese, rice, beans, sauce. All of these can be swapped around to create the exact enchilada you like. I was really pleased with how these chicken, corn, and green onion enchiladas turned out and I'm excited to see what other variations I can think up. Really, the possibilities are endless.
Chicken & Corn Enchiladas with Red Sauce
Yield: 8 enchiladas
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: about 45 minutes
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I prefer this method for cooking delicious, moist chicken breasts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 8x12-inch glass baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix together chicken, corn, 1 cup enchilada sauce, and 1/2 cup cheese. Coat the bottom of glass dish with enchilada sauce. One at a time, add a large spoonful of chicken mixture to the middle of tortilla. Roll up tightly and transfer to baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat until the pan is filled. If you have extra chicken mixture, add to the top of rolled tortillas. Top generously with remaining enchilada sauce and sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped green onions, let cool, then serve and enjoy! Add a side of brown rice and black beans for a full meal.
Enchiladas are one of my go-to meals for dinner. I seem to almost always have the main ingredients on hand and I love the way you can mix it up with enchiladas by using different sauces and different fillings. The other night, I wanted to make some enchiladas, but I didn't have any enchilada sauce on-hand. So I did what I typically do when I don't have an ingredient and I looked up how to make it online. I found this gem of a recipe and was so pleased with the result. It's got a great flavor that's a bit more complex than you'll experience with the canned variety. (P.S...enchilada recipe coming soon.)
Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: about 10 minutes
Simmer Time: 15-20 minutes
Total Time: about 30 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 cup salsa
1 (6-oz.) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, oregano, chili powder, basil, black pepper, salt, cumin, parsley, salsa, and tomato sauce. Mix together, then stir in the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Use to make enchiladas or as sauce for your favorite Mexican dish.
While we were in Carmel, Brad and I made a visit to Pt.
Lobos State Natural Reserve which is one of the top viewing spots for wildlife
on the California Coast. Artist Francis McComas called Pt. Lobos “the greatest
meeting of land and water in the world.” We were lucky that our hotel room had
some binoculars because it made it much easier to see some of the wildlife offshore.
Traveling along the California coast has really made me more aware and
appreciative of coastal marine life. For example, I used to think that seaweed
was slimy and annoying (so ignorant). Now, I know that it is a vital piece of
the ocean’s life-system. When I see a huge kelp bed from above, I know that it
extends far beneath the surface to support tons of marine life, including sea
These rocks are all covered with seals.
Now, that's a beautiful kelp bed.
Red lichen grows on the cypress trees at Pt. Lobos. Quite a beautiful sight, indeed.
There was a huge colony of birds at Bird Island which was really fascinating to see. The only problem? It stank!
Jellies in the wild!
We had heard a lot about the 17-mile drive in Monterey. I’m almost hesitant to say this because SO many people have told me how great this drive is, but I was a little underwhelmed. It was cloudy which may have had something to do with it, but I also found it a little odd that we, and a boatload of other tourists, were driving through a full-on neighborhood. I had a vision that it was more of a long, winding road that hugged the coast the whole time. All in all, it was still a great drive with lots to see: beaches, cypress trees, wildlife, nice homes, and, perhaps most notably, Pebble Beach Golf Course. It was neat to walk where championship golfers have walked and get a sense for the feeling of pride that comes with winning the PGA Championship at Pebble Beach.
*This post is part of a series chronicling our two-week road trip vacation through California, Utah, and Nevada. Click here to read about our other road trip adventures:
Last month, a few friends and I threw a baby shower for our good friend Jackie and her baby girl, Leighton, who will be coming any day now! Leighton's nursery is pink and grey so we decided to use the same colors for her shower. I must say I have quite the talented group of girlfriends. Big thanks to Madison, Whitney, and Mackenzie for chipping in to make this a beautiful and fun shower. We rented out a gazebo at a nearby park which made for a beautiful (and shaded) setting.
Pink flatware, mason jars with pink and grey striped straws, and pink carnations helped make the table festive and cheerful.
We decorated the gazebo with a combination of pennant banners, fringe banners, and paper lanterns.
Strawberries & Cream Cookies - yum!
The spread: croissant sandwiches, strawberry spinach salad, fruit kebabs, berry cobbler, and those delicious strawberries & cream cookies.
For the party favors, I filled sandwich bags with pink cotton candy jelly bellies (my personal favorite) and stapled on a thank you message.
This summer, I did my fair share of camping. From Havasupai to Zion to Big Sur, we had some adventures that were definitely made easier and more enjoyable by the fact that we were able to camp close to such beautiful sites in nature. Don't get me wrong, I love a good hotel, but I've experienced firsthand the reward that can come when you sacrifice a little bit of comfort for REAL natural surroundings. While I'm still no expert, I've put together a list of essentials that I've found quite useful while camping and hiking. I hope you'll find this useful. And, if you have any camping essentials that you'd add to this list, please let me know!
Malaysia flies under the radar, but its advanced city structures (hello Petronas Towers) and beautiful natural surroundings intrigue me. A Muslim country in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is unique in that it is made of two different land masses separated by the South China Sea: a peninsula that borders Thailand and the upper coastline of Borneo. A colorful, dynamic, and intriguing country with beaches, caves, and a bustling city, Malaysia seems to have it all.