Archive | January, 2016

Blue Apron Saves the Day!

27 Jan

Have you ever had one of those weeks where things were just absolutely insane and you just craved some kind of stability? Yes? No? Well that was last week for us. I won’t go into too many details but we have been house-hunting quite a bit lately and last week was just crazy with some of that. I was craving some kind of normalcy since we are never usually too busy during the work week. Well, Blue Apron provided that for me with their incredible home-cooked meals.

blue apron logo

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service which provides pre-measured portions of fresh and local ingredients with detailed recipes which are very easy to follow. The prep time is about 30 minutes per meal. I had seen several bloggers review Blue Apron and was pretty interested in the concept and very excited to collaborate with them as well. It is honestly just as easy as it looks. They offer a two- or four-person plan, which averages out to just under $10 per person, per meal, for three meals. They have different meal choices each week and I chose three meals incorporating three different types of meat (they also offer vegetarian options!) so that we would have a good variety of meals that particular week. I’ve included a link to each recipe so you guys can attempt to recreate them if you should choose!

blue apron meal 1 part 1

Cod and Potato Brandade with Watermelon Radish Salad and Garlic Toasts

blue apron meal 1 part 2

blue apron meal 1 part 3

This dish was so delicious and pretty easy to make. For those who don’t know, as I did not either, brandade is a classic Mediterranean dish usually made with cod and mashed potatoes, baked gratin-style with garlic and olive oil. We honestly don’t eat enough fish at home since it’s hard to find it on sale so we were both very excited about this meal. It was very light but also comforting at the same time since there were mashed potatoes and garlic toasts involved as well. I also had never had a watermelon radish before and found that I enjoyed it even more than a regular radish.

Chicken Meatballs and Creamy Polenta with Tomato Sugo and Lacinato Kale

blue apron meal 2 part 1

blue apron meal 2 part 2

blue apron meal 2 part 3

Now this meal was completely uncharted territory for us. We have never cooked with ground chicken before and I honestly had no idea what polenta was before this meal. (Side note: it’s boiled cornmeal) The meatballs were pretty simple as was the polenta. This meal probably had the easiest prep of all three meals. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the spices in the meatballs as they incorporated ground fennel seed and I just can’t stand the taste of fennel. I absolutely loved the polenta and will be making that again as well as the tomato sugo on top. I’m a sucker for a good tomato sauce.

White Pizza with Baked Eggs & Arugula Brussels Sprout Salad

blue apron meal 3 part 1

blue apron meal 3 part 2

Anyone that knows Dan and I pretty well will understand why this was our absolute favorite meal. This may be one of best home-cooked meals we have ever had. We both love pizza and we will put eggs on just about anything. Throw in some Brussels sprouts and a little bit of garlic and we are happy campers. This was definitely the most tedious of the three meals to prepare and we had a tough time getting the dough to stretch out but the end result was so worth it. I told myself I would only have two slices since it was pretty decadent but I could not help myself to a third slice.

blue apron meal 3 part 3

We absolutely loved our first Blue Apron experience and we will definitely be returning customers. It isn’t too often that we cook together as usual one of us takes charge of a meal but it was so nice to be able to do something like this together. The ingredients were so fresh and I thought the flavors in each meal were incredible.

Blue Apron has also been kind enough to provide a little something for my wonderful readers!

My first 25 readers get two free meals with their first Blue Apron Boxredeem here!

I hope you guys enjoy and happy cooking!

I received the Blue Apron meals mentioned above complimentary. They were given to me in exchange for an honest review.  I was not compensated for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Fashion Friday: My First Birchbox!

22 Jan

Happy Friday! Today I’m sharing the goods from my very first Birchbox! If you are wondering what Birchbox is, it is a subscription service (similar to Stitchfix) which costs $10 a month and they send you five to six samples of high-end beauty products, anything from makeup to skin care to hair products. You can opt out at any time, so even if you just want to try it out once, it’s easy to cancel! Since I’ve been getting more into all things beauty lately, I decided to try it out! I’ll go over what I received and what I think so far.

Birchbox 1

Birchbox 2

  • amika: Nourishing Mask (full size cost: $28)

This one intrigues me because it is actually a hair mask and I have never used one before. I haven’t had time to try this out yet but I’m thinking it can’t hurt to give my hair some extra attention.

birch box hair mask

  • Cane & Austin: 2%/5% Acne Retexture Pads (full size cost: $60)

I’ve always had a little problem with acne from time to time and I think that these pads are the perfect solution for when I’m dealing with a breakout. They are pretty costly so I’m not sure I would buy them full-size but I think they are pretty great.

birch box acne pads

  • Eyeko: Fat Liquid Eyeliner (full size cost: $16)

I was pretty excited when I saw this in the box because I’m a big fan of liquid eyeliner. I haven’t had an occasion to try it out yet but when I do, I will be sure to let you guys know how I like it.

birch box eyeliner

  • Klorane: Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (full size cost: $20)

Dry shampoo is something that I have been trying out a lot lately since I work out nearly every day and I really don’t like to shampoo my hair every single day since it dries out so easily. I had heard of this dry shampoo before and I honestly love it! It smells great and the price is not bad at all so I will likely be purchasing this next time I need to stock up!

birch box dry shampoo

  • Whish: Three Wishes Body Butter – Almond (full size cost: $24)

My skin has been incredibly dry lately due to the cold weather and this stuff definitely helps with that. It smells wonderful and really moisturizes my skin without providing that greasy feeling that a lot of body butter gives.

birch box body butter

Overall, I really enjoyed my first Birchbox and I think I will definitely do another one next month. It’s so low cost and allows me to try out some high-quality beauty products without having to spend a ton of money. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to dabble in the beauty world! If you want to try it out, use this link to subscribe and let me know what you think.

Marvelous Monday: A Great Weekend

18 Jan

Happy Monday all! I can really say that since work is closed today and I’m currently writing this while relaxing on the couch in my PJ’s. We had the most fun-filled, packed to the brim weekend and I’m really excited to share some of it with you guys.

It really all started on Thursday evening since I had Friday off and we attended the VIP Grand Opening of NIXS Evergreen in South Windsor. It was a very nice event, albeit very crowded, with lots of good food to try and even more yummy drink samples. My favorite cocktail was the Moscow Mistress and the truffle fries were incredible. We can’t wait to go back for a full meal.

NIXS Moscow Mistress

NIXS Harpoon

NIXS Truffle Fries

I spent my day off on Friday at Nelson Salon & Spa in West Hartford where I was redeeming the makeover I had won about a month or so ago at the blogger event at Vinted Wine Bar. The salon is absolutely gorgeous and I felt like a princess getting pampered for most of the late morning/early afternoon. First, I had my hair cut and styled by the wonderful Erickson. He did such an amazing job!

Nelson Salon and Spa

Next, I had a relaxing pedicure done by Lana and my feet have never felt so soft! After that, she did my makeup and I was able to chat for a bit with Dominika, the general manager of the salon, and learn about what makeup works best for me. I was absolutely floored by the results and I felt like the luckiest lady in the place! I can’t wait to go back and visit and I highly recommend Nelson Salon & Spa for anyone who needs to be pampered because not only do they have a salon but they have a full spa, including a masseuse and they do facials as well!

Nelson Makeup

Photo Credit: Nelson Salon & Spa

Nelson Crew

Photo Credit: Nelson Salon & Spa

Nelson Before and After

I had decided that a makeover called for a fancy Friday night dinner so we went to one of our favorite spots in town, Sayulita, and enjoyed some margaritas, guac, and tacos. It was so nice to sit at the bar and enjoy the Friday night atmosphere.

Sayulita margarita

Sayulita guac

Saturday morning was spent getting some errands done because we were heading on a little getaway for the night! I had been toying with the idea of heading to Newport for a night and I ended up booking a hotel (The Howard Johnson Inn in Middletown) Saturday morning (at a very cheap rate) and we left a little after lunch time. The weather cleared up just in time for us to get there and we checked in and headed to Brick Alley Pub to watch the Patriots game. We had dinner there after the game and spend the rest of the evening wandering around the center of Newport before heading back to our hotel for some wine and a movie.

Newport snap

Midtown oyster bar cheeseplate

The cheese plate at Midtown Oyster Bar was amazing

Dan and Shawna newport

Yesterday, we slept in, got ready and headed to one of our favorite restaurants, Diego’s, for the best brunch I have ever had. I had my usual standby, Diego’s Huevos, along with their house bloody Mary. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the shops and after a quick stop at Greenvale Vineyards for a wine tasting and a reuben at The Shop, we headed home, stuffed and very happy!

Diegos huevos2

Dan Reuben

It was honestly an incredible weekend and I think it is so important to take time out for yourself like I did on Friday and also to have those little getaways as a couple too. I feel totally refreshed and although I’m going to fully enjoy my day off today, I am ready to tackle the rest of the week when it comes! I hope you all have a great Monday and an even better week!

WIAW: Staying on Track

13 Jan

Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone is having an awesome week! My week has been pretty good, especially since I have a four day weekend coming up as I took Friday off and we have Monday off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I figured that I would use today as a check-in on my healthy eating habits as it is something I have been trying to work on after the indulgent holidays. I’m sharing a mishmash of different meals we have enjoyed over the past couple of weeks. Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have already seen a few of these but they were too good to not share again.

salmon burger

These Skinny Salmon Burgers from Skinny Mom were incredible and so easy to make!

egg roll

Clearly this egg roll was a choice I made after a few drinks at Alex’s house this past Friday, but it was delicious at the time and I have no regrets!

sadlers breakfast

Poached eggs with crab cakes, toast and home fries at Sadler’s Ordinary in Marlborough, CT with Dan, Brian and Natasha. It was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had, hands down.

corn chowder

Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Chowder that we made this past Sunday. It was incredible and felt decadent but it really was very light due to using half & half instead of heavy cream. Enjoyed with a side of sourdough bread from Old Wethersfield Country Store. I want this bread every single second of every day.

cake mix cookies

These cake mix cookies from Peanut Butter Fingers were incredible and so moist compared to regular cookies that aren’t made with cake mix.

avocado egg toast

This avocado egg toast that I enjoyed last night for dinner was amazing!

yogurt hot cocoa granola

My go-to yogurt for breakfast has been tasting especially delicious topped with Pure Love Hot Cocoa granola. It’s a game changer!

As you can see, I have been doing a pretty good job of balancing out the healthy with the not so healthy. I don’t feel guilty when I indulge because I feel as though I make a great effort to eat healthy the majority of the time. Also, I’m definitely keeping up on my New Years resolution to cook more as I made most of the meals above.

I have a lot of fun posts coming up and I can’t wait to share those with you guys! Have a great Wednesday!

Things I’m Loving Lately # 4

8 Jan

Happy Friday! I figured this post-holidays week would drag but it actually went by pretty quickly. I feel like I stayed in my routine pretty well this week and I have also stayed on top of everything that I needed to which is another one of my mini goals for this year. I have a few things that I’ve been loving lately that I wanted to share with you guys today.

  • Lipstick. I have been all about the lipstick the past few months. It’s really makeup in general that I have taken an interest. It has been mainly since I spent a lot of money on makeup for the wedding, I wanted to put it to good use and I’m really enjoying improving my skills. I have always worn the basics (primer, concealer, mascara, eyeliner) but lipstick is new to me and I’m starting to build quite a collection. I have recently purchased this one from Mac in Mac Red and this one from Sephora and I’m obsessed with these lip pencils from Nars.
lipstick collection

My current collection… I should probably stop for a while

  • Hot water with lemon. I know this has been a recent fad/craze/whatever you want to call it, but I decided to hop on the bandwagon. I have been thoroughly enjoying a mug of this every morning as I find it to be refreshing and definitely a less bitter start to my morning than my usual cup of coffee. I’m not sure that I will continue with it forever but it’s a nice change for now.
lemon water

I’m currently enjoying some in my favorite new mug 🙂

  • Dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joes. I cannot stop. It’s a problem… or a solution, I’m not really sure. But they are insanely delicious.

PB cups

  • Shades of Blue. I tuned into this show last night mainly because of the crazy amount of advertising that was done leading up to it (and because Dan left on a fire call and I had nothing better to do). It was actually very interesting and J.Lo was freaking amazing as always.

J-Lo ecard

  • Random dinners. Last night’s dinner consisted of a bag of seafood ravioli that I actually got for free with a coupon from Stop & Shop. I put the ravioli on top of some pre-seasoned brussels we purchased at Trader Joe’s and topped all of that with some pizza sauce and a sprinkle of cheese. It was very random but it was tasty and definitely hit the spot! Creativity makes for the best meals.

seafood ravioli

That’s all I have for today guys. I’m looking forward to this weekend as we have a fun get together tonight, UConn basketball tomorrow night, and a friend’s birthday celebration after that. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

New Year, Same Old Me?

5 Jan

Happy New Year! Oh how I love the fresh start of a new year 🙂 I always start out the year intending to be more organized and eat healthier and all of that. This year, however, my resolutions are a little bit different. 2015 was hands down the best year of my life. I married my best friend, had all of those incredible wedding festivities, and had more amazing times with family and friends than I can even count. There aren’t really too many things I feel like I need to work on, although there is always something so here’s what I have come up with (and I apologize if they are a bit lame).

2016

  • Drink more water. This is a big one for me as I really don’t like water all that much and I am really going to have to force myself to drink more although I know it will definitely benefit me.
water goals

Hot water with lemon & ice water.. staying strong with my goal!

  • Spend more time improving my cooking skills. Dan does the majority of the cooking in our house and although my crock-pot skills are pretty awesome, I want to learn to cook more dishes as well as different types of dishes.
  • Drink more smoothies. I love my Nutribullet and I love green smoothies even more so I would like to remember to make those for snacks more often so I stop reaching for the bag of potato chips as much 😉

green smoothie

  • Stop and smell the roses. I am often too guilty of speeding my way through life and not stopping to appreciate the things that are right in front of me. I feel that I need to step back and make an effort not to take things for granted as much.
melissa and I NYE

Moments like these…

dan and i christmas 2015

… and moments like these, are priceless!

  • Read more books. I have always been a huge reader and as life as gotten hectic this past year, reading has taken a backseat. I want to devote more time to just sitting down and enjoying some peace, quiet, and a good book. I know that this is one of Dan’s resolutions as well so hopefully we can tackle it together.
reading ecard

Does anyone else have this problem?!

I’m pretty sure that is all that I feel that I really need to work on and I would definitely consider them goals more than resolutions. I hope that 2016 is just as wonderful as 2015, for myself and for you guys as well! Have a happy Tuesday!