Easy “Last Minute” Entertaining Bites

                                                           A New Year is almost upon us. If you’re like me your plans may be a little last minute. I am here to save the day! Here are a few of my quick and easy go-to bites when entertaining. The best thing about these dishes are that they are quick, affordable, and easy to make. Don’t feel bad about using shortcuts! Especially not on a holiday when people are organizing and preparing for a fresh start. The food should be the last of your worries! Now, lets do this!!! Happy eating and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

Bite sized chicken and waffles

  • Cooked chicken tenders cut into bite sized pieces. (Absolutely nothing wrong with buying pre-cooked tenders)
  • Waffle mix and waffle iron ( just follow your brands instructions)
  • Maple syrup, hot sauce.
  • Large toothpicks.

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  Shrimp and Grit Bites

  • 1- 2 cups prepared grits.
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (cheddar, gouda, etc.)
  • 2- 3 Tablespoons butter. Plus one tablespoon for shrimp.
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 4 ounces prepared crispy pancetta or bacon
  • 1/2 pound to 1 pound raw de-veined shrimp (depends on how many you’re making)
  • Old bay seasoning ( 1-2 tablespoons depending on how many shrimp.)

For the shrimp simply heat a pan over medium-high heat. Melt one tablespoon of butter. Coat the shrimp in old bay. Saute in the pan for about 1-2 minutes per side. And set aside.

Cook pancetta or bacon until nice and crispy. Set aside.

Follow the instructions on the back of your favorite grit mix. Add in cream, butter, and cheese.

Spoon the grits into small bite size bowls or spoons. (Cost Plus World Market people!) And proceed to top with pancetta and one shrimp. Voila!

 

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Mini Caprese Bites

Fresh mozzarella balls, tomatoes, basil, and sweet balsamic drizzle. So delicious and the skewers allow for easy, mess-free eating. Simply layer your ingredients onto  the skewers and dress with the vinegar and oil. Assembling the skewers is fun for the kids too!

  • – Pint grape tomatoes.
  • – Fresh small whole milk mozzarella cheese balls.
  • – Wooden skewers.
  • – Extra virgin olive oil (Enough for a light drizzle.)
  • – 2 tablespoons sweet balsamic glaze. (Or just enough to drizzle.)
  • -Fresh basil leaves.
  • – Salt and pepper to taste

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TIME TO CELEBRATE!!!

Little Light Lunch: Saffron Salmon

This meal is not for the tedious! It is quick, easy, healthy and filling! Check marking all of the boxes with the easy salmon recipe.

My husband and I were having dinner with friends the other night and they spoke of this delicious saffron infused salmon the eat regularly. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and had to recreate it on my own. It takes a mere 5 to 7 minutes to prepare the entire meal. Ghee acts a the perfect crisping agent for the fish while sea salt and saffron infuse the fish with subtle yet delicious flavor. I hope you enjoy!

 

Saffron Salmon

1 6-8oz Salmon Filet (Skin on, crisp skin is always a GOOD thing! :))

Sea Salt

1tsp Saffron

1 Tbs Ghee (grass fed pure butter)

 

*You simply heat a skillet on medium high and melt the ghee. While the pan is heating season both sides of the fish with a generous coating of coarse sea salt and the saffron. Place the fish skin side down for about 3-4 mins or until skin is crisp and golden. Flip and finish cooking until your preferred doneness. I like my salmon well done but moist, so 2 mins did the trick for me.

I like to serve the salmon over some lemon slices for freshness, next to a bed of mixed greens and tomatoes! I lightly season them with salt, pepper and Little Lights Of Mine Olive Oil. So fresh!

 

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Greek Yogurt Snack

This snack is beyond perfect! It’s filling yet light and satisfies any sweet tooth. This dish is pack full of omega-3 fatty acids and FIBER! Yippie. 🙂

I love the mixture of nuts and berries I sprinkle over the top. Its a mixture of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds as well as goji berries. The brand I purchase is called Linwoods and it can be found at whole foods.

If you’re looking for a healthy dessert alternative than this is your go to as well! You can simply add some cacao nibs or dark chocolate as a treat. Swap out the dates for dried cherries and you have a delicious chocolate cherry greek yogurt dessert.

Let me know what you think!

Greek Yogurt Snack 

1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt

1 Tbs Linwoods ground flax mix

1 Tsp Honey

2 Dates Chopped

A handful of chopped walnuts

*Simply layer all of the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!

 

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Braving Branzino

I always love a good hearty, flaky, moist white fish. Especially branzino. I’ve always been intimidated to make it myself, but I finally mustered up some confidence and went for it! It was incredibly easy and took very little time. The fish was perfection, we simply devoured it. I wanted to share this delicious crowd pleaser with you all. If you’re having people over for dinner this recipe will undoubtedly impress them. I served my fish with a little risotto, and prosciutto wrapped asparagus. I hope you all enjoy this recipe!

 

 

 

Ingredients 

3 Egg Whites

2 Cups of Kosher Salt

2 Lemons

Pepper (to taste)

Sage, Rosemary and thyme (Handful of each)

3-4 whole Branzini

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. You then mix your egg whites and salt in a bowl to form a molding mixture (almost like wet sand). Next take your branzini and stuff with sliced lemon and all of the herbs you desire. It’s best to have your local grocery store descale and gut the fish. Now, Take a baking pan and place some of the salt mixture to create a bed for the fish. Place the fish on top and the cover with the remainder of the salt mixture. You then place the pan into the oven for about 30 mins. The salt mold will be a light golden brown and hard as a rock! Simply tap with a spoon or the back of a knife to break the mold, remove the salt and serve the meat of the fish! It will be fresh, moist and oh so flaky! If you choose to you can drizzle with your favorite olive oil and a little pepper, but I like it as is. Enjoy!

 

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Reliving Ropa…Vieja

I LOVE to try and recreate moments. I’m big on nostalgia. This past January we were in Miami and a couple of friends of mine took me to an incredible Cuban restaurant. My mom is Jamaican and Chinese, so I grew up with a ton of flavors in our kitchen very similar to that of Cuban food! Anyway, the girls had me try Ropa Vieja for the first time. It was incredible! The flavors were perfect, the meat was tender and the rice and beans balanced out the meal. 3,000-ish miles back to the west coast and I couldn’t stop dreaming about and salivating over this dish! I did a little research and found what I thought to be a good recipe. Went to the groceries, got my lovely pot out and started cooking and experimenting… It turned out perfect! The robust tomatoey flavor, tender beef, bite of the pepper and onions were unmatched! The cumin gave it that Cuban flare. I’ll stop rambling now, but it was perfection.

Here are a couple of pictures of my cooking process. If You’re feeling adventurous, or like you need to escape to somewhere warm and flavorful you can try the recipe and conquer this dish by clicking HERE.  Enjoy!!!

Ropa Vieja 

Note*** I did add about 2 TBS of brown sugar to the recipe. It brought out the flavors a bit more.

 

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Planting “Honest” Trees

Over the holiday season (Yes back in 2013) the Honest Company gifted some of their customers these amazing little trees. I guess it was sort of their way  to “pay it forward” and give back to the environment. Both Riley and I were so excited to plant them. I must note that I am no professional gardner and I have a bit of a black thumb. With some research and trial and error I am however getting better, and I LOVE doing it! It was a great quick and easy project for Riley and I to do. it did get messy, BUT IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT! Thank you Honest Co for giving back and creating quality time for my family and I. Here are some photos from our time together! They are from a couple of weeks ago, but i’m glad we did it before the awful (but much needed) rainy weeks that followed! Enjoy!

*** The last photo is some new parsley I planted! Our garden already had some, but it needed a refresher! (clearly I’m proud of myself ha!) ***

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Gluten-Free Persimmon Cookies

Hi Everyone! I come bearing gifts just in time for the holidays. Gluten-free gifts!  The persimmons on our tree in the front yard were completely ripe and ready to picked. Growing up with a Jamaican mommy we would always just eat the persimmons. Now, they kind of tie up my tongue.  I wanted to make something with this sweet and succulent fruit that could please everyone. Being that it is the holidays, this yummy sweet and spicy persimmon cookie was the perfect fit for our family. I made these cookies gluten-free simply because my mother in law has become gluten-free recently and a lot of my readers on here have asked for yummy simple gluten free options. I hope you like this recipe. Be sure to comment below. Enjoy!

… and Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a wonderful time with your families.

Ingredients 

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar

1 Stick of Unsalted Butter

1 Organic Egg

1 Cup of Blended Persimmon Pulp (about 4-5 small persimmons)

1 1/4 Cup Gluten-Free Flour

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp of All Spice

Pinch of Salt

1/4 Cup of Chocolate Chips (Optional)

Handful of Chopped Walnuts (Optional)

Optional Lemon Glaze: 2 Tbs Unsalted Butter melted and hot, Juice of half of a lemon and 3 Heaping Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar

Directions 

Preheat your oven to 375. In a bowl mix brown sugar and room temperature butter together until smooth. Add in the egg and the persimmon pulp and mix until it forms a smooth wet batter.  Next, add in all of your dry ingredients and mix well until a thick batter is formed. Drop tablespoons of the batter onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for about 10-12 mins. Let them completely cool!

I decided to do two batches, one with chocolate chips and one with walnuts and the lemon glaze. They were both absolutely delicious. This is a great cookie to package as a gift or take to a holiday party. It will not disappoint! Enjoy 🙂

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Pearl Quinoa

Okay guys today we are talking about quinoa. Looks weird, tastes delicious. I find that any other grain besides rice can sometimes seem overwhelming or a bit foreign. Quinoa really isn’t, you actually prepare it just as you would traditional rice. There is so much you can do with this “super grain”. It’s a great alternative to rice as it is jam packed with protein, and doesn’t seem to weigh you down when you eat it. It’s also gluten-free so its a great side dish alternative. It also contains all 8 essential amino acids!

There are several different kinds of quinoa that I will be featuring periodically. Today, we are just going to focus on pearl quinoa which is the most common and the one we are all most likely familiar with. It’s a beige tiny pearl like grain when uncooked and becomes fluffy, yellow and “tadpole” like when cooked (The little stringy fiber hangs off after it’s been cooked, also a great indicator of when it’s done!)

Cooking this quinoa is simple. Add a cup and a half of liquid for every cup of quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce and then simmer for 15 mins. Super simple!

Of course I have a hard time doing anything as directed and like to jazz things up a bit…

Instead of water using a homemade or store-bought stock of your choice is a nice additive instead of water. It just beings a more full-bodied flavor to the quinoa. After my quinoa is done cooking I love to transfer it to a saute pan with garlic, olive oil and finely chopped onions. So yummy. I know some people despise raisins, but they just taste so delicious in sautéed quinoa, it’s not even funny.

You can also make this ahead of time and refrigerate it for the entire week! A great superfood for easy food prep.

I hope you guys enjoyed this little tie bit of information. Have you tried quinoa?  Feel free to leave your amazing recipes below!

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FITNESS FRIDAY: Easy Caprese (and video update)

Hi Guys !

I hope you all enjoyed your week! Here is a super simple caprese salad recipe that i’ve been making and eating all week long! So easy and so delicious! I also wanted to update you all by video this week about my/our fitness journey. Please share yours in the comments below. Enjoy the weekend!

Easy Caprese Salad 

Ingredients

6 -8 small fresh mozzarella balls

8-10 Cherry tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

3 Leaves of fresh Basil (chopped)

A Drizzle of Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Directions 

Comine all of the ingredients into a bowl, drizzle with balsamic and enjoy! It’s really that simple, I love it. Be sure to use aged balsamic as it has a thicker and sweeter consistency.

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Pumpkin Patch 2013

We had the pleasure of going to our local pumpkin patch this weekend as a family. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. It sounds corny but I think i’d been subconsciously waiting for this moment for a long time. No, not to go to the pumpkin patch. It’s that moment of building or starting a tradition. We’ve sort of just started our little family and we’re figuring things out day by day just like any other family. To have that special first moment with Riley and my husband over the weekend was such a joy and warmed my soul in such a way that could only be described as pure love. I’m very sentimental and I cherish moments and building traditions with my family. To see the look on Riley’s face when she saw everything was priceless.

Okay enough with the cheese ball, romance, sap… I’ll spare you, for now. 😉

Needless to say we had an amazing time at the patch. We enjoyed fresh slow cooked brisket sandwiches that were nothing short of perfect and caramel apples that I am still slowly devouring (with large glasses of water ;)). They had a small animal farm that could’ve used some more animals, but got the job done for Riley. We rode an adorable little train around the patch and went through hay mazes. Then, we topped off the afternoon with Riley picking out the cutest pumpkin that was just her size. We plan on decorating it later this week. 🙂

How was all of you weekends? What did you do? Comment below.

Here are a couple of photos from our day. Enjoy!

Rubber Ducky Pool Party

Riley’s first  birthday is not until the 19th. I simply cannot believe she is going to be one! It’s completely bittersweet. I have an unbelievable amount of mixed emotions. I am happy, proud and excited to see what the next year has in store,  but at the same time I’m sad that she has grown up so quickly. I literally don’t know where the time has gone. I now know how my parents have felt all of these years.

We decided to celebrate her first year early since we would be traveling on her big day. We threw her a rubber ducky pool party! It turned out amazing considering it had been raining all week. The sun made an appearance during her party and disappeared right after as the rain continued, it was amazing. God is so good, and he certainly does hear all of our prayers.

I purchased all of the items for her party at Target and ordered her invitations from Tiny prints. The party totaled about $400 including all food  and we had about 20 people at the party. I made Riley’s smash cake from scratch. It was completely organic and low in sugar (I have a video tutorial in my previous post). All of the food was also organic for that day. We don’t always eat the best and organic, but we do when we can.

Thank you to all of our family and friends that came out to Riley’s party. It was truly a special day and we appreciate each and every one of you!

Here are a few photos from the party! Enjoy!

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