Saturday, May 30, 2015

Something Saturdays (5/30/15)

Guys...I HAD THE BEST BACHELORETTE PARTY!

It was perfect. In ways I couldn't have imagined. I had the best possible time and I seriously can't even put into words how much I loved it--but I'll try :P After Michael left for his bachelor party (where he and his groomsmen created suits of armor and weapons out of cardboard and then beat the crap out of each other. And then they ate. And played videogames.) my maid of honor, Alex, and her sister/one of my bridesmaids, Carrie, arrived and set up my house (I had to hide upstairs during this time). They hung pretty red fans from the ceiling, put a "kiss the stud" on the door, laid out my "bride-to-be" accessories (and Alex's maid of honor button), propped up a couple of foam swords, and set up a Princess Bride themed table (including a bowl of peanuts-"anybody want a peanut", resurrection pills-peanut "Buttercup" truffles, and Once Upon a Vine wine bottles with goblets and signs denoting "Iocane Powder" or "Poison Free"--for the nonalcoholic beverages :P) with everything we needed for our "Once Upon a Murder Mystery" game! There were color coded envelopes for the clues for the rounds, a full on tri-fold with information (and more Princess Bride quotes!), and colored masks and character descriptions for all of us! I got put into my accessories (and ordered that I would be "hazed" if I took them off lol) and we goofed around a bit until my other 2 bridesmaids came (sans my cousin Emily who couldn't make it because she lives in NYC)- Shannan (Michael's sister) and my friend Angela. Then we went to dinner at this great place that's 5 minutes from my house (and I'd never been there! I totally am going to have to take Michael soon) and we all ate and a few of us had cocktails and it was just fun and silly (due to my "accessories"). Then we returned home and got into character (thanks to Alex's supply of like 40 different lipsticks) and played the game! Which was super fun! We also played "The Newlywed Game"--Alex had previously came over and recorded Michael's answers and then if I got a question right I got a prize (underwear, a bride robe to get ready in the day of, gift cards, handcuffs...etc. lol) and if i got it wrong I got a "consequence" (answering a "bride's dirty little secrets" question...or 4, or playing adult wedding mad libs). That was SUCH a great idea and I loved it :) It was sort of fun whether I got questions right or wrong! And then we played "Kiss the Stud"...lol. We giggled and goofed around and were silly and I got handcuffed and it was perfect. Then Angela had to go home and the rest of us watched 27 dresses before going to sleep. The next morning Alex and I made breakfast and we visited for a bit before everyone left. And that was my party--I wouldn't change one second of it. :) All my girls made it so special for me but Alex especially put in so much time and effort to make it perfect for me and I'm so lucky that she's my best friend. :) (And if you want to see a brief video of our fun check out the vid I shared on my instagram here).--it's from right before we played Kiss the Stud.

Memorial Day Michael and I went to my Grandma's for the first pool party of the year and that's always fun-I even made a tasty new cookie recipe that was a hit! I'll share it with you all in a week or two :P

And then this week was just a normal, get-stuff-done kind of week. Yesterday we went over to Michael's brother and sister-in-law's house and finalized all the DJ stuff (aaaand we all-including his other brother and his gf-went to get some froyo!) And today Michael and I both have to work :(

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Blackberry Lavender Cocktail-Guest Post with Blahnik Baker

Hi friends!! Since my life is sorta full-on wedding crazed mode I asked a few of my bloggy friends to help me out and rustle up some guest posts for you to read! And you are in for a TREAT! Zainab from Blahnik Baker has posted over here once before and you all LOVED her (I mean..how could you not-she's such a sweetie!) Not only is she busy running her own blog but she's also preggers! And yet she still said she would give me a hand-now that is friendship! Plus...she's sharing a cocktail. Yeah! I'm so happy that there's finally a cocktail on this blog! Take it away my friend <3
Blackberry Lavender Cocktail
Hello Cooking actress readers!! I’m Zainab from Blahnik Baker and I am so excited to be here again today sharing a recipe with you. When Kayle asked us to help with the blog as she prepares for her upcoming nuptials, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate her and Michael’s wedding. Nothing says celebration like a good ole cocktail…. a refreshing, summer berry cocktail to be exact. That’s why I am bringing her and you this Blackberry Lavender Cocktail. Let’s toast the soon-to-be newly weds :)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Wholesome and Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies-Guest Post at Golden Barrel

Wholesome and Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies
I know.

Those cookies.

You can hardly even read this right now, can you? All you can think about is how to make these cookies enter your life. And do not fret-we'll get to that! First, I have to share some news with you!
Wholesome and Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies
I'm going to, on an occasional basis, be sharing recipes over on Golden Barrel's blog (Golden Barrel is a company, based out of Lancaster, PA, that creates baking products such as mixes, molasses, coconut oil, sugars, etc.--I talked a bit about them when I posted these delicious cookies back in January.)

These cookies are the first of those recipes!
Wholesome and Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies
Golden Barrel makes such an amazing variety of products that I knew I wanted to use a few of them in a recipe: so I used their raw sugar and molasses (to form a sort of extra delicious, un-refined, dark brown sugar) as well as their coconut oil (which completely replaces the butter, making these cookies dairy free and a bit healthier!) And these cookies could not have turned out better!
Wholesome and Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies
Even though they're made with coconut oil instead of butter-you do NOT taste the coconut at all and the texture is still so perfectly gooey and chewy and wonderful! The flavor is insane-they taste super high quality and they're the tastiest cookies I've made in a long time. Seriously...I could gush about how tasty they are for a LONG time, but why don't you just go check out the post and read about it there? And, while you're at it, get the recipe so you can make them for yourselves and see HOW GOOD they are!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Something Saturdays (5/23/15)

This was a pretty good but extremely stress filled week! Saturday I got to hang out with my best friend Alex for a few hours which is always the best--and Michael got to hang with his best friend too and the four of us hung out together. Which was fab. Our RSVP cutoff date was last weekend so I spent a lot of this week hunting down responses (still have about 10 more to go), freaking out about the fact that somehow how guest list is in the 230's which BLOWS MY MIND (because we invited over 300), tallying costs (and scrambling to figure out how we're going to meet the minimum at our reception location now that our guest list has shrunk), starting to put together seating arrangements, making a wedding timeline, and generally just worrying about everything I still have left to do and we're less than a month out. I didn't sleep most of this week (my brain WOULD NOT stop replaying all the things I have to do over and over again...and they weren't even new things! Just stressing about all the stuff I know I need to do). But we also got to go see Michael's sister's choir concert. And last night we went to my grandpa's 80th birthday party-which was so fun! I don't get to see that family often so it was nice and my grandpa was so adorable, pretending to be miffed :P

And today....

ARE OUR BACHELOR/BACHELORETTE PARTIES!!! EEEEEE!!! Michael is going over to his mom's where he and the boys will eat, drink (some of them), play videogames, and do other stuff that is a surprise for Michael so I can't say :P My girls are all meeting me here at our house and we're going to get an early dinner and then come back here to play "Once Upon a Murder Mystery"! It's a murder mystery game set in a fairytale land. I'll be playing Ice White (which is essentially Snow White) and each of the girls have their own characters too! I'm sort of unreasonably excited about it! I'll tell you about how the shenanigans went down in next week's catch up :)

In the meantime-HAVE A GREAT MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND! This marks the opening of my grandma's pool so we'll be heading over for the 1st cookout of the season tomorrow. Hooray!

Friday, May 22, 2015

SmileBrilliant! {Teeth Whitening} Review

My smile has been through a lot-I wore braces for nearly 3 years (I still wear retainers at night) and, although I overall am happy with it-I've always wished it was whiter. Especially with the wedding day coming up--white dress, white teeth, right? :P

Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to try out SmileBrilliant!'s at home whitening kit with custom trays!
I've tried whitening strips in the past and, although they helped a bit, they definitely didn't leave me with as white of a smile as I'd like. I was considering having my dentist whiten them but was balking at the super high price tag ($500+!) Thank GOODNESS for SmileBrilliant! Smile Brilliant provides lab direct, custom-fitted, teeth whitening trays and professional strength whitening gel (and you can also purchase desensitizing gel, which is helpful if you're worried about sensitivity resulting from the whitening. I highly recommend it!) from your own home, and for a fraction of the cost!  Plus, there's a 30 day money back guarantee.

One thing you need to know going in to teeth whitening-it cannot perform miracles. It can and will remove stains and restore your teeth to their natural color but if your teeth's natural tint isn't white then whitening cannot do anything to help that. But I was hopeful about my results. (I mean--look at all of these amazing testimonials!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Whole Wheat Granola Waffles

Whole Wheat Granola Waffles
I know, it's like waffles are becoming the new cookies or chicken or potatoes around here: how many different versions of one thing can I make?? I apologize buuut....I love  waffles. They're tasty and can be a great quick and healthy breakfast option--I love freezing leftovers and toasting them later. Like homemade Eggos :P And my new waffle maker is awesome. So using it is exciting. I hope you can all get on board with these because you're gonna LOVE this recipe!
Whole Wheat Granola Waffles
I had some leftover chocolate chip granola hanging around and decided I wanted to make waffles with that. And I loved the last waffles I made so much I wanted to use that recipe as the base-but altered to be a bit healthier. Annnnd HOORAY-it worked!
Whole Wheat Granola Waffles
These waffles taste hearty and chewy with just a hint of crunch and mmmm...they're just a great day to begin your day! Whether you top them with fruit, butter and syrup, or peanut butter.

I know that I've been eating them for breakfast every day for a week and I have 0 complaints :D

Monday, May 18, 2015

Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Gougères-Virtual Baby Shower for Taylor {Greens n' Chocolate}

Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Gougères
The food blogging community is seriously amazing. I have made some of the best friends who understand me in a way that I would never have thought possible-especially since I haven't met the grand majority of them. But I read their posts and comments and social media posts almost every day, and I really feel that I know these incredible ladies and that they know me! Which is why I love coming together with other bloggers to celebrate when great things happen in the lives of one of our own. Today is one of those days--we're celebrating Taylor from Greens n' Chocolate as she prepares to welcome her sweet baby boy into the world with a VIRTUAL BABY SHOWER!!!
Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Gougères
In my experience with showers and get-togethers of most kinds, small bites/appetizers/snacks are a big hit. Things you can just pick up, pop into your mouth, and carry on about your business. Which is why I decided these gougeres would be a great thing to share for today's baby shower!

What's a gougere-you ask? It's pretty much just choux pastry (choux is the same stuff you use to make cream puffs) that's mixed with cheese. And, in this case, some delicious lightly caramelized onions (cooked down method, not the kind where you add sugar and such) are also mixed in. Which makes for the most amazing light, yet chewy, and super flavorful savory treat.
Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Gougères
I also got to break in my new KitchenAid stand mixer making these beauties (AND use an actual piping tip for the first time), which was insanely exciting for me. Almost as exciting as the way I felt when the smell of the gougeres started wafting from the oven.

I seriously couldn't stop eating these. They're sort of irresistible. You can't help but love them--sort of like babies :) Taylor-we're so excited for you and the hubs and I know you're going to make an amazing mom, CONGRATULATIONS!!!


Check out what Taylor's other friends brought to the party!

Mrs. Olson's Kitchen-Quick Jam
A Kitchen Addiction-Blueberry Lemon Donut Muffins

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Something Saturdays (5/16/15)

Are you a girl? Then you probably know these struggles.

Have you heard of BerryCart yet? It's a new monthly subscription box that lets people try 9-10 organic, non-GMO, and just healthy products! And there are a couple things that set them apart: there are a lot more full-size products (at least 4 per box) than other “sample” boxes, and when a box subscriber finds a product they like, they can use the BerryCart mobile app to get a cashback rebate on it when they buy it in the store. I was lucky enough to be sent a box and Michael and I enjoyed all the delicious snacks--and I didn't feel guilty sending them in his lunch :) (Disclaimer-BerryCart sent me a complimentary box to try. I was under no obligation to write a positive review and all opinions are my own)

On to news from this week: Sunday went really well and was fun. Monday Michael, my mom, my brother, and I all went out to dinner for my brother's birthday-which was great! Wednesday Michael and I went to get our marriage certificate (eee!!) and did a little shopping at the outlet mall....MICHAEL GOT A LEATHER JACKET. If anyone knows me they know I'm a sucker for that "bad boy in a leather jacket" look and mmmm....I love it. And today I get to hang out with my best friend, Alex! Yay!

I should also note....I'm feeling overwhelmed and like I have a lot to do and am not doing a great job of keeping up with everything. Hopefully next week is more productive (as far as household, blog, general maintenance stuff).

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Baked Blooming Onion

Baked Blooming Onion
Sooo....I sort of messed this recipe up. And it's all my fault. I didn't follow the directions exactly and that is my bad.

Mistake #1-Cutting off the bottom of the onion even though I was not told to do so in the recipe.
Mistake #2-Using liquid egg whites instead of actual eggs.

These mistakes resulted in a poorly cut onion and the breading not really sticking so well.
Baked Blooming Onion
BUT-the pieces of onion that had breading? Delicious.

And I feel like you all deserve to know that there is a healthier way to enjoy a blooming onion (like you get at certain restaurants)--so I wanted to share this with you. And show you where to find the original recipe that you should FOLLOW. Don't make my mistakes my friends. Enjoy your successful baked blooming onion!
Baked Blooming Onion

Check out Gimme Delicious for the recipe!

Monday, May 11, 2015

{Healthier} Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl "Cupcakes"

{Healthier} Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl "Cupcakes"
Are these muffins? Are these cupcakes? Are they some sort of healthier hybrid?? We may never know. But-for simplicity's sake...we'll call them cupcakes. Even though they have no frosting...and are actually acceptable for breakfast...

...just....go with me on this.
{Healthier} Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl "Cupcakes"
These cupcakes are made with whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, egg whites, TWO bananas, and  swirl of peanut butter (or-in my case-homemade almond peanut butter). They also have unsweetened cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips which are perfectly fine. And...and I mean...there's also a little bit of all purpose flour, sugar, and some peanut butter chips. But not much of them! So I definitely still ate these as my healthy snack and for breakfast. (Not that I've never eaten a full on cupcake or cookie for breakfast...I have...I just, ya know, felt semi-bad about it.)
{Healthier} Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl "Cupcakes"
My brother and I were big fans of these--which makes sense. They combine chocolate, banana, and peanut butter. Which we love. Our only complaint is a wish that there was more peanut butter sooo---if you wanna be extra generous with your peanut butter swirl...I certainly would approve. Michael didn't adore these (he thought they were fine), largely because they have a fairly obvious banana flavor and he is not a banana fan. But that's ok! They're so moist and soft and there's gooey chocolate chips (if you're smart and eat these warm) and a bit of peanut butter and just...mmm. They're delicious enough that I don't mind not sharing!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Something Saturdays (5/9/15)

My final bridal shower came and went! I had a fun time with Michael's dad and stepmom's families--I loved seeing everyone and we had such a great time. And the cake was EPIC (chocolate with peanut butter fillingggg). I'm such a lucky girl to have had 3 wonderful showers :)

This week was super warm here--which makes me feel tired and quite lazy at home but very productive about doing errands. I also had my final meeting with our photographer-it made me feel much more at ease and I went over the shot list and some semantics about the day and I'm really excited!

Tomorrow is Mother's Day! What are you doing?? My mom just asked my brother and Michael to help her with house stuff and I'm seeing her on Monday for my brother's birthday dinner so she said that was fine for me. I'm working but then I'm going to meet Michael to see his mom.

And...yeah! That's pretty much it this week :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spicy Peanut Butter Chicken

Spicy Peanut Butter Chicken
I generally try to just give you recipes that you can make without needing to buy a specific product--this, however, is an exception. Because I had no choice. Sorry!

You see, I've had a jar of Peanut Butter & Co.'s "The Heat is On" (AKA their spicy peanut butter) sitting in my cabinet for awhile. And I could not figure out what to do with it. So I finally decided to get creative and try to make something for the Michael. He was pretty unsure about the idea of spicy peanut butter in a savory dish but I asked him to just give it a try,
Spicy Peanut Butter Chicken
Annnnd-THANKFULLY-it worked! I made this super simple chicken dish and he loved it. He was surprised that he loved it, but he did!

And it's crazy easy. You just whip up a marinade, using the peanut butter as well as soy sauce, seasonings, etc. You coat the chicken in it. Then you fry the chicken until cooked through.
Spicy Peanut Butter Chicken
Now-you can marinate the chicken for awhile, if you want (I just coated it and then immediately fried it)--if you marinate it for a period of time, however, it will be extra spicy. So just be prepared. You can also prepare the marinade ahead of time and-before adding the chicken-just cover and store it in the refrigerator. I did this. Be forewarned that it will thicken up a bit. I'm not sure that it adversely affected the results but just wanted to give you a heads up.

The chicken ends up juicy and spicy with a bit of an Asian cuisine flavor profile. And you just might like it--I know my Michael did!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Waffles with Banana and Almond Butter

Chocolate Chunk Waffles with Banana and Almond Butter
Look-before we get to waffles. Can we just talk about my neuroses right now? I feel like there are these events in your life that you look forward to and that are built up to be a thing--namely 16th birthday, prom, and your wedding. For me--those were the 3 ultimate events. And on the previous 2 I ended up with nothing but a mess of disappointment. Not only did I not get a super cool 16th birthday party with like a d.j. or whatever (I had big hopes and dreams)...I got no birthday party at all. The friend who I entrusted with it (and who INSISTED she be the one to throw it)--ended up being "too busy" and flaked on it. Which I found out about when it was like...my birthday. (My best friend is still pissed that I didn't just let her throw it. SORRY ALEX!) And then prom..I mean I went to like 4 proms and all were kind of ok. Definitely not magical. And my senior prom in particular-my dress was blah and I went with my gay friend and ended up crying the whole time because I was still heartbroken about the guy I'd been dating and who I'd gone to prom with the previous year, thusly resulting in me getting hit with memories everywhere I looked. Not exactly a great night.

So...now it's all on the wedding. And I'm terrified. I know it won't be perfect but--I mean...I'd love for it to still be GOOD...like maybe even great...ya know? But I'm so scared something will happen (family drama, Michael being cranky, me getting my period--sorry TMI--...etc.) I've legitimately been having nightmares about being disappointed by my wedding for like...ever. At least as long as Michael and I have been together (so 5+ years). The good news is: most of my dream fears have already been 100% made impossible. But still. Ya know. Worries and such.

Do any of you guys know what I mean? And if you've had a wedding--any advice?
Chocolate Chunk Waffles with Banana and Almond Butter
Enough about me being a crazy person.

Let's discuss waffles, shall we?

These were the 1st waffles I got to make in my brand new waffle maker that I got from one of my bridal showers. And ohhh they turned out beautifully! These waffles are thick and crisp on the outside while being delightfully chewy on the inside. There are decadent chunks of chocolate that you get the delightful surprise of biting into. They're simple to whip up (no beating egg whites or anything fancy like that) Annd...oh yeah...they are fairly healthyish (thanks to whole wheat, decreased sugar, etc.)!
Chocolate Chunk Waffles with Banana and Almond Butter
And for an extra tasty and nutritious breakfast or snack---I topped these waffles with almond butter and banana slices. HEAVEN! I also broke leftovers into quarters, froze them, and then toasted them as needed. Which results in the best toaster waffles ever--and much healthier ones!

Michael ate his waffles with butter and syrup and loved them too. They were pretty much a hit all around. You should give 'em a try ;)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Something Saturdays (5/2/15)

First of all--Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my blogiversary and/or filled out my reader survey! (You can totally still take the survey, btw! AND enter the mega giveaway!!) You guys said so many seriously sweet and wonderful things, it totally made my day! Not to say that there weren't one or 2 mean responses (it happens) or some constructive criticism (which I appreciate!)--all in all, though, I feel really good about the outcome of the survey. I definitely want to try to implement a lot of your guys' suggestions! That said--there are plenty of conflicting opinions about some things, and on some other things...well...it's still my blog so I'll probably generally do as I please. But I'll definitely keep a lot of the stuff in mind. And-a lot of you mentioned you'd like to see less wedding posts...erm...I'm not surprised. I'm sorry! Luckily for you, the wedding will be over soon and then you won't have to see much of it :P

And on that note...
I had THE MOST AMAZING time at my family's bridal shower on Sunday. I was surrounded by people I love and it was just...the best. I wish it could have lasted longer! I felt like I didn't have time to visit as much with everyone as I would have liked. I did have a blast with my bridesmaids, though. I love those girls. The game was super fun and I looooved my gifts (*cough* I FINALLY HAVE A KITCHENAID STAND MIXER!) and the food was delish and just...eee! It was the best time. Then a few of us went to my mom's house where she tried on her friend's dress that she wore for her daughter's wedding-and it was perfect! So mom has her dress for the wedding, lol. And then-after sorting through the gifts a bit-we went to Michael's mom's for a little bit.

And today is my final bridal shower--for Michael's dad and stepmom's sides of the family! It's going to be another good one and I cannot wait :D

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