And most of all, do what makes YOU happy today – celebrate love in all the forms it comes. But, know one of the most valuable actions you can do today is to make someone else feel loved too. After all, love is simply a word until someone brings it to life and gives it meaning! You can put a price on the power of love.
I’ll be spending mine with this hunka chunka burning STUD !!! Happy Valentines to my number one and favorite valentine – lucky for me, he makes every day, every date, every smile, every kiss, every adventure, another chance for my heart to skip a beat.
I’m not the most ‘adventurous’ eater in town. So, I was a little nervous (but also SUPER excited) to try out Foraged: A Hyper-Seasonal Eatery in Hampden to celebrate our friend’s birthday! And, boy did I have ZERO clue what I was in for…
For ONE, I learned what foraging is! Turns out, Foraging is the act of finding and harvesting wild foods. Some call it “gathering.” It most commonly refers to mushroom hunting – who ever knew there was such a thing? However, I also learned that “mushroom hunting” is something only people practiced in the fine and delicate art of mushroom identification should engage in.
Onto TWO – the restaurant. Everything from the advertised hyper-seasonal apps and entrées to the cozy setting, UBER awesome service, courtesy of Nico Bustos, and secret dinosaur decor search (can you find them all?! 🦖🦕) was absolutely incredible. I’m not the best at food photography, so most definitely not going to even attempt in that arena, but earmarking this as a place for all to check out for sure!!!
P.S. check out that handsome crew – HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATT !!!
What are your secret restaurant spot recos?! Talk soon!
As always, New York was a whirlwind! Up and back in 2-days, via the Vermonter & Acela Express made for a jam-packed, fun and exciting adventure for our Valentine’s Day this year. Aside from my first time at Madison Square Gardens + seeing Billy Joel live, we covered a TON of ground and visited a slew of new spots!
Whenever I find fun, new spots, I’m always pressed to share! So, I’m quickly jotting down my top 7 favorite places we visited for any of you who may be looking for a cool, trendy or cozy new spot to check out next time you’re in the area!
Hanoi House We had dinner here Thursday night and let me tell you – it was I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. Placed appropriately on the historical, adventure seeking, 119 St. Mark’s Place, you’ll arrive in a (not-so-surprisingly-small), delicately quaint, romantically dimmed, intimate spot in East Village. But – don’t let the size fool you. Hanoi House is known for “The Absolute Best Pho in New York,” “The Absolute Best Octopus in New York,” “The Absolute Best Vietnamese Restaurants in New York,” and more. I mean . . . WOW!!! Once you’ve had a moment to take in the eloquent details, brace yourself as you’re about to be spoiled with a breathtaking, unbelievable, well-cultured, imaginative display of Vietnamese cuisine! From the Crispy Crab & Pork Spring rolls (Nem Ran), to the Spicy Octopus (Bach Tuoc Ca Ri) – delightfully displayed over roasted sweet potatoes, coconut curry, charred scallion and shishito peppers, to the Hanoi Style Beef Pho Soup (Pho Bac), – a classic 16-hr broth with heritage Black Angus filet mignon, brisket & rice noodles AND an add-on option of bone marrow (must have!) on the side, our dinner was simply divine. The only thing that will leave you feeling disappointed after this visit, is the wish that you could fit everything on the menu in your belly! P.S. make sure you get there early!! They don’t take reservations and the place was nearly filled upon our arrival, 15-minutes post their opening at 5:30. P.S.S. our dear friends own this place, so go. check. it. out. !!!
Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria NYC I don’t know about you, but I know that when I visit New York City, I’m not leaving until I’ve had a proper slize of za 😉 Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria is more formally known in the Staten Island area of New York. Wanting to break in and make their presence known in the Manhattan area, they opened their NEW location at 168 1st Avenue. Priding themselves on a secret Neapolitan recipe for a special thin crust pizza that has made their restaurant famous, I was so glad to have enjoyed this gem during our trip! We sat at the antiquely pounded copper counter top on the corner of the bar and enjoyed catching up with friends and admiring the original, characteristic stained glass windows before, quite literally, demolishing our pizza. Looking for the perfect NY fold? You found it!! Can’t decide which kind to try when you visit? Psst… if you order a large, they allow you to do half and half! But, they also have a smaller, personal 10” option as well. Not to mention – the bartender and staff were amazingly warm and welcoming, making for a fun, social lunch break on Friday!
C&B – East Village, Thompson Square Park
I’ll keep this one short and sweet, just like this shop! Seriously one of the cutest little coffee shops in East Village! We stopped in for a quick espresso (always needed!) and loved seeing the kitchen staff live, in action, flipping, kneading and pounding their homemade dough!! I mean, you just can’t get that just anywhere in Baltimore! Plus, you can take your coffee/espresso/latte and enjoy a casual stroll around Thompson Square Park after, which is right across the street!
SALT! SALT! SALT! LOVED this Mexican spot we found on 267 Elizabeth Street. And come on … a old school, authentic Volkswagen Bus as the taco-making station?! We only stopped in for a quick taco (or two…) and kept on our exploring, but the atmosphere was so traditional and genuine, it’s definitely worth a visit and some cliché photos! P.S. the tacos were awesome too!
This is probably one of my favorite spots in NYC – although a little more ‘commercial,’ in feel, the atmosphere is to die for and this is going to sound weird, but I love their bathrooms! Haha! While separate male and female, the hand-washing station connects the two via a shared wash-sink area with a reflective, stained glass like mirror for separation. It’s a great spot for a casual happy hour, quick bite at the bar (they have amazing selection of appetizers, wood-burning pizzas, fresh pastas, and selections of charcuterie), or in our circumstance, a late night cap for topping off Saturday evening after the concert. We stayed in the hotel above it – The EVENTI, which I would TOTALLY recommend if you’re ever seeing a show at Madison Square Gardens. It was about a 5 minute walk from the concert!
Cute and friendly spot to stop to get a snack or drink beforehand if you try our Hanoi House! It’s right across the street and felt so intimate. The space is decorated with countless lit candles that grace spaces in the walls where bricks have intentionally been removed. Candles also delicately and artfully line random fashion behind the bar liquor bottles, shelving, and pretty much anywhere you look!
Talk about a local food market!! I WISH we had something like this in our small town, Federal Hill! Then again, I get we may not have the same volume to sustain this type of operation 🙂 It felt like I had walked into the Costco-version of a market! Never-ending, colorful supply and variety of fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, deli meats, cheeses, traditional grocery, flowers and more! Super cool spot to stop by, take in the colorful spreads and patronize a local business (with some salty and sweet snacks while you’re there!)
The Pennsy Food Hall
Last, but not least – and definitely not a big secret as it’s right above Penn Station, but this is a great, vibrant and convenient spot to grab-and-go a snack before you catch the train ride home. It’s more of an incubator-type feel with a variety of small eateries, so there’s a little something for everyone. From sushi, to tacos, to bar food, to sweet treats, ice cream and more! Plus, they sometimes have a DJ that slings throwback songs and top beats to get you boppin’ and grovin’!
Do you have any favorite spots or gems to share? I’d love to hear! Ping me in the comments below!
Being on a diet, a NEW diet at that – it’s natural for your sweet tooth to perk up! Especiallyyyyy when you’re telling yourself something is off limits. You just want it EVEN MORE. Amiright?!
Well. Say goodbye to those nasty cravings, because I have a 100% Keto approved chocolate chip cookie recipe for you to try! That’s right folks – I said C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E C-H-I-P C-O-O-K-I-E-S !! You don’t have to deprive yourself on every diet! These cookies contain all the Keto necessities: coconut oil, butter, almond flour and . . . you guessed it . . . chocolate!!
For the purposes of the Keto diet, we’re choosing a 100% cacao baking chocolate bar, unsweetened. NOTE: By itself it’s extremely bitter, but mixed in with the other ingredients, it creates the perfect balance!
Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/3 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup golden monk fruit sweetener OR sticky sweetener of choice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
3 cups almond flour
3 oz. 100% cacao baking chocolate bar
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together coconut oil and butter.
Next, add eggs and vanilla extract
Add sticky sweetener of choice, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt
Slowly, while mixing, add almond flour to cookie mix
In a separate bowl, microwave chocolate pieces until just barely soft. Use a utensil to separate chocolate pieces into smaller bits before transitioning to mix
Pour chocolate pieces into bowl of dough and mix until combined
Form dough into balls and place on cookie parchment paper REMEMBER: Allow room in between cookies for cookies to spread during baking
Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving.
For some, odd, I can’t-explain-it reason, I was so intimidated by the idea of making meatballs. I know . . . call me weird. But, it felt like everyone had their own “special” or “secret”recipe, sometimes dating back generations of family. BUT – it turns out, most of those recipes don’t fall within Keto diet guidelines anyway!
While traditional meatballs are not keto, I’m here to help you with an awesome, SUPER easy, Italian Stuffed Keto Meatball alternative.
Typically, meatballs contain bread/crumbs as their main ingredient. This helps the balls maintain their shape. The presence of bread is a direct keto violation, but here’s a solution! (don’t be scared away by the number of ingredients – you just end up combining everything together! 🙂 )
Split equally into 4 portions
1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp Garlic
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
3 tbsp Tomato Paste
3 tbsp Flaxseed Meal
2 Large Egg
1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Salt & Pepper Sprinkled for Seasoning
Preheat oven to 400F
Mix meat and all other ingredients together
Form into meatballs
Lay on a foil covered baking sheet
Bake for 20 minutes
Serve over spinach with sprinkled mozzarella cheese on top
Fats (g) 44.8
Protein (g) 36.8
Net Carbs (g) 3.8
Seriously… HOW FLIPPING SIMPLE?!Great for lunches on the go, hearty dinners and for satisfying your favorite Italian food cravings! And these are delicious . . . I PROMISE you!
Give them a try and post your review/comments below 🙂
Okay, okay, okay, so there’s technically no “buffalo” in this recipe outside of the sauce (although there mayyyy be a recipe on that coming soon . . . 😉 ) BUT – in the meantime,who says you have to dine out to enjoy delicious cauli buffalo bites?! Now, you make them in 30 minutes – right from home!!
They’re the perfect 30-minute prep snack you can grab and go all week long, OR an awesome munchable addition to your Super Bowl spread in the coming weeks!
I’ve grown to LOVE what some call the “ghost” version of broccoli, see hilarious meme below. There’s so many ways to get creative using this low carb potato substitute – even in place of noodles/rice. There are only 2.9 grams of net carbs in an entire cup of this clean veggie, making it a clear winner on a Keto diet!
Keto Brown Butter Buffalo Bites
1 head of cauliflower (approx. 3 cups of florets)
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot
2 tbsp. Butter
2 garlic cloves OR the equivalent minced
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 400F
Melt butter in a small skillet on medium heat
Bring to a simmer until browned. Meanwhile, cut your cauliflower into florets.
Pour florets into a large bowl
Add minced garlic to your melted butter and let simmer
Remove the butter and garlic mixture and pour it over the cauliflower
Add in the hot sauce and gently toss to coat thoroughly throughout
Move the florets to a sheet pan
Bake the cauliflower for 20 minutes
Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with remaining sauce.
Garnish with crispy bacon and serve with ranch or accompanying sauce of your choice for dunking
If you’ve been watching the news, you might have similar snow day flurries in your tummy as I do! According to the weather, Winter Storm Harper is on the horizon for the Northeast! Actually, I think New York and further north is getting the bulk of it, so maybe not much here for us in Baltimore, but no reason not to get a little giddy and excited for a snow day, amiright!?
I remember when I was a kid and we wanted a snow day, we would place spoons under our pillow (it signifies that maybe *hopefully* there will be so much snow you will have to dig your way out) and demand upon wearing our pajamas inside AND backwards to bed for snow day good luck!
Plus, recital of:
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord lays the snow down deep. Please give me a snow day before I wake, So I can have big snowmen to make.
Did anyone else have these quirky, crazy traditions?! Or other ones I haven’t heard of? Pretty please with snowy sugarplums on top, post your childhood traditions below! I’d love to hear them 🙂
Back in the day, I was THAT girl with the French, fake, acrylic tips. While they may have looked completely flawless to strangers, one thing’s for sure that I grew to quickly hate was how broken, brittle and quite honestly, painful my fingernails had become. I couldn’t bare to show them in public not ‘done,’ (they looked horribly paper thin) and they had been so grinned down that they physically hurt. OUCH!!
Fast forward, I decided to revamp my nails. First, by going cold turkey on the whole ‘getting my nails done,’ and second, I started researching healthier ways to keep my nails strong and happy. That’s when I found gel nails! Gel nails have a more natural look with a glossy finish. And, unlike acrylics, if the nails are primed correctly, there is no damage to the nail bed! I absolutely love Gel nails. I’ve had them and kept up with them since I’ve been about 20/21 and have the healthiest nails I’ve ever had since.
However, gel nails are also more flexible than acrylic nails. And let me tell you . . . I’m no delicate daisy when it comes to my nails. One thing I found most frustrating was that if I was rough on them, they chipped and sometimes broke; many times unreasonably early from the last time I had them done at a salon. I found myself having to check-in or have them re-done every 2 weeks, which wore on me over time. I found myself not making the time to get them done, doing DIY removal myself (which P.S. is the WORST for your nails) and just plain allowing them to look less than average for what I was paying out of pocket. #byeeemoney
Most recently, a dear friend of mine told me about her love for the trendy SNS, or “Dip Powder,” nails. Being skeptical, I naturally had a MILLION questions. Taking the leap, I decided to try it out for myself! Here’s my verdict:
The process was pretty upfront and simple.I don’t know why I was so nervous – then, again I’m nervous with anything new! The nail tech primed my nails, just as if I was having a standard gel manicure done – which I really appreciated! No abrasive grinding or shaving – just simple cuticle trim up, shaping and buffing before the powder application began. This part I found most intriguing! It’s like an art! She carefully painted an adhesive on each nail before dipping individually into the colored powder of my choice. And – my favorite part – NO UV rays!! She continued with three layers of powder before finishing out with a final shaping, buff, and –layered top coat, which took only 2 minutes to air dry with no fan.
This new manicure lasts longer than gel polish and doesn’t use UV light. The dip powder treatments have lasted me a month on average versus gel, which typically lasts me few weeks.
Many have asked me if it’s “thick” or “too fake” feeling: it’s definitely something to keep in mind as I’ve heard some women experience/feel this way. But, if you do your research, and mention it to your nail tech upon arrival, I’ve had experience with techs who have been very careful to paint the adhesive on in staggered layers away from the cuticle. This way, it grows out smoothly and naturally. Not with a huge ridge, similar to what you’re probably envisioning from acrylic nails.
Of course, the thing that makes gel or dip powder more desirable is how well they stay on. BUT – remember the small drawback that anything intended to last thing long will resultantly be rather difficult to remove. In my best advice – DO NOT do yourself/at HOME!!
The removal process is crucial. Getting the polish properly removed is just as important as the application. In my experience, most issues occur and and stem from attempts at a DIY home removal. OUCH!! It is always safest to go back to your salon and have a licensed professional remove/update any product for you.
All in all, I love the new process! It saves me time, money and lasts significantly longer, no matter how much I beat them up. As with any nail applique, remember to take care of your nails by taking breaks. Having anything on your nail for an extended length of time without proper removal and rejuvenation can be harmful, whether it be acrylic, gel, or powder.
What’s your typical nail routine? I’d love to hear! As well as your thoughts on dip powder if you’ve tried, or are planning to try?!
Woo hooo! Feeling not only FULL, but also fully re-energized after last night’s bake sesh of Keto meals for the upcoming week and even MORE eager to share them with you!
I never knew going into this how much I would love reading, learning and understanding so much about the Keto diet, the general process and the overall impact it has had on my attitude and lifestyle so quickly.
I love having a more structured and routine eating regimen, I love that I’m eliminating sugars and limiting complex carbs/foods that aren’t entirely good for my digestion – both from a daily perspective and for ongoing weight management and healthy living. I even more so love the ritual of researching & discovering new, fun recipes and ideas for tweaking, testing (taste-testing is the best part – amiright?!) and making my own!
Scroll on to see this week’s tasty delights: a NEW variation on my Pizza Chips – Hellooooo Salami! + what you’ve all been waiting for . . . Keto Chicken Nuggets
NEW Variation to my Keto Pizza Chips – Helloooo Salami!
While you may have read my original Keto Pizza Chips recipe here utilizing pepperoni, I found when I was snacking, that I couldn’t help myself but wonder if it would still be as tasty if I swapped up the meat and cheese combo in order to to have more variety throughout the week.
I tried it – and yep!Still. Just. As. Tasty!
Boars Head Genoa Salami
Kraft Natural Cheese Cubes – Natural Colby Jack
Preheat oven to 400F. Take out some cookie sheets. You may need 2-3.
Arrange salami and place cheese cubes on top – don’t worry, they’re not going to expand like cookies. They can be close together!
Bake for 10 minutes
Lay the chips onto paper towels to soak up any excess grease.
Let sit for 3-4 minutes to cool off and crisp up even more.
Nutrition: Fat: 15g Protein: 15g Net carbs: 1g
Now . . . the moment you’ve all been waiting for . . . KETO CHICKEN NUGGETSSSS! DUN DUN DUNNNNN!! I have to say – when I uploaded photos of these little fried dreamboats to Instagram, I couldn’t believe all of the comments and asks I have for the recipe! So, here we go!
Keto Chicken Nuggets
The easier way to do these is likely via a deep fryer . . . but given not everyone has one of those (myself included) . . . I made do with the below steps and I LOVED how they turned out 🙂
PLEASE NOTE: I’m 99.9% sure I scared the living $%!# out of my pups while making these – LOL! If you’re not careful to keep a lid on your simmering oil, it does create a decent amount of smoke. Be sure to crank a door, a window, anything, if you possess the lack of coordination that I do.
1 Chicken Breast
1/2 oz Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tbsp Almond Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Water
WITH DEEP FRYER:
Start by heating your deep fryer to 375F
WITHOUT DEEP FRYER:
Cook a chicken breast (I cooked (3) at once for approx. 20 – 25 minutes)
Pour ¼ cup avocado oil into a deep skillet/pan and set to med – low to bring oil to a simmer
Pull chicken from oven. Cut chicken into cubes. (Don’t worry if your chicken isn’t cooked ALL the way – this is what you want! The battering and frying in the oil will finish it off just right, without allowing it to be overcooked or dry out)
Mix the grated Parmesan, almond flour, and baking powder
Add the egg and whisk
Add the water and whisk
Roll the chicken breasts in the batter until they are fully coated, then use a fork to drop them into the frying oil
Cook until the batter turns golden brown
Transition chicken bits to a sheet of paper towel to drain excess grease, cool and crisp
Calories 166 Fats (g) 8.0 Protein (g) 23.0 Net Carbs (g) 1.0
Let me know what you think of this recipe! Try it at home, tag a friend, or pass it along – share the Keto loveeeee!
Stay tuned for more recipes throughout the week!
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