Almond and butternut squash muffins

I was at the farmer’s market the other day and butternut squash was on sale for $.75/lb! I purchased a few and they’ve been sitting on my counter top just waiting to be used. 

I’ve had my eye on a butternut squash cheese and beer soup I saw someone make the other day that looked divine.
I’ve also been wanting to whip up a batch of my roasted garlic mashed squash that is tdf!
And I’ve been craving muffins like crazy, so…butternut squash muffins? Why not! Continue reading


What I’m buying at Trader Joe’s these days

People are ALWAYS asking me what to buy at Trader Joe’s. 
I can’t image why? I’m no TJ’s expert! (could it be the excessive check-ins on social media?) 😉

Since Tampa was blessed with a TJ’s almost a year and a half ago, I have (ahem) become one of their biggest fans. 
What can I say? I’m a sucker for good prices, interesting products and kitsch!  Continue reading


Sea salt and pecan chocolate chip cookies

As much as I’d like to deny it, I cannot.

I am a cookie monster. 

I don’t remember the very first cookie I ever laid tastebuds on, but I remember my childhood filled with Oreos, Fig Newtons (yes I loved them as a kid!), Dunkaroos (remember those!), and, well, the list can go on and on and on.

My favorite cookies, however, were the ones my mom and her best friend Mary baked at Christmastime. Mary would come over to our house and the three of us would stay up until the wee hours of the morning baking batches upon batches of drop cookies, bar cookies, candies and other delectable treats for co-workers, family and holiday parties. Those memories give me SUCH warm fuzzies, and definitely the inspiration behind my love of baking. <3 

As a grown-up (eek!), I don’t eat as many cookies. Especially store bought ones. And the cookies I’m making in my 30’s are definitely not the ones I was indulging in as a child. The cookies that come out of my kitchen these days are made with wholesome ingredients, a variety of gluten free and low-carb flours, nuts, dried fruits, raw honey, and lots of dark chocolate. 

And, I love them all. 
And I especially love these. 

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These sea salt and pecan chocolate chip cookies are gluten free, made without refined sugars, and are FULL of dark chocolate chips and pecans. The recipe for the gluten-free mix in the recipe below can be found here. You can find Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips at most stores (I purchase mine at Target and Publix). 

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The sea salt sprinkled on top of these cookies before the get put into the oven is divine! I love the combination of sweet and salty… and this is just the right amount to make you go YUM. 

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Sea salt and pecan chocolate chip cookies
These cookies are gluten free and made without refined sugars.
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
  1. 2 1/4 cups gluten-free baking mix
  2. 1 tsp baking soda
  3. 1 tsp sea salt
  4. 1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
  5. 3/4 cup raw honey
  6. 1/4 cup date sugar (or sub coconut sugar)
  7. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 2 large eggs at room temp.
  9. 1 bag of Enjoy life chocolate chips or chunks
  10. 1 cup chopped pecans
  11. additional sea salt for garnish
  1. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter, honey, date sugar and vanilla extract together until well combined. Add the flour mix into the creamed butter 1/2 cup at a time until well combined.
  3. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, pre-heat oven to 375.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and drop walnut sized spoonfuls of cookie dough onto the sheet. Gently press down with two fingers to help these spread out a bit while cooking. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on a rack and enjoy with lots and lots of ice cold glasses of almond milk!

Summer vacation recap!

Last week we went on a whirlwind of a vacation!

11709454_10153513073307474_8404863243895225369_nBrian and I spent a week touring all sorts of fun spots up in the Northeast! And yes- that’s us in Times Square, NYC!

Our vacation started with a trip up to Delaware to spend a few days visiting Brian’s grandmother who lives in Dover. We booked a flight through Priceline.com up to Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C., which is just about a 90 minute drive to Dover. I love using Priceline to book our flights. The prices are always a deal! 

Once we arrived in DC, we grabbed our rental car (booked through Travelocity.com), then headed toward Brian’s Grandmother’s house. Although we booked a “compact” car, we didn’t realize just how small of a vehicle we would end up with! It was a clown car, to say the least! The plus side? It was fantastic on gas mileage. And with all the driving we’d end up doing over the next week, that feature definitely came in handy. And lucky for me, Brian was a trooper- even though at times he felt like he was driving a skateboard. 😉

We spent the next three days hanging out at Gram’s house. Even though Dover is really, really small, there are a lot of neat little spots to explore, fun antique shops to peruse through, Amish markets to stuff our faces in (hello bacon egg and cheese sandwiches!), unique stores and flea markets to shop at, and beautiful natural spots to admire. What I love the most about being up there is taking in the beauty of the songbirds during the day, and the amazing lightning bugs in the evenings. Gram has a little stream behind her house, and at dusk, the glowbugs start to put on a dazzling show. Sigh- I wish I had these in my backyard! We had a nice time relaxing, watching LOTS of Diagnosis murder, and even celebrating my birthday, again! 


11709272_10153511950077474_4634984215610104197_nOn Thursday morning, we woke up bright and early, packed our bags, and bid farewell to Gram as we ventured on the next leg of our vacation!


This was Brian’s first trip to the Big Apple, and my 2nd! I was excited to show him everything I remember doing and seeing back in 2005 when I visited there. NYC is about a 3 hour drive from Dover. And while the first part of the trip was quite easy (NJ Turnpike), once we got near New York, it became a bit hectic- especially with our Micro Machine! We rented an apartment from AirBnb.com in Astoria, just outside of NYC. Getting there from Dover had us going up and around the city, crossing over the George Washington Bridge (pictured below), then through the Bronx, Queens and finally Astoria. Getting lost in NYC is nerve-wracking, and Brian claims he aged 10 years during the drive, but in the end, we arrived safely, ready to explore the city! 


Once we got to the apartment, we parked, unpacked and took a little bit of a breather. I couldn’t’ wait to sink my teeth into the city, but I knew Brian would need a break after that stressful commute! While he relaxed a bit, I worked on navigating public transit options, and our plan for the afternoon. 

After a much-too-long bus ride (we were a bit rusty in our navigational skills), and an accidental visit to Roosevelt Island, we ended up riding the cable tram over the Hudson towards Manhattan! The views of the Queensboro Bridge and the Hudson were breathtaking! It was definitely a detour that resulted in an unexpected adventure. 

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unnamed (3)Once we made it to Manhattan, we walked over to Times Square and took in the sights!


And noshed on some PIZZA from Patzeria Perfect Pizza in Times Square! (yes that’s broccoli- don’t hate!). 


Once our bellies were full, we hopped on the subway and headed towards Lower Manhattan to Chelsea Market. I had never been there and it was on my NYC bucket list! Let me tell you, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. 

Farmer’s markets, shops, gelato, cookware, cookbooks- it was a foodie’s DREAM! Get the hazelnut gelato. You won’t regret it. 😉



After Chelsea Market, we ventured back uptown to take in more sights, and get a midnight snack to take back to the apartment with us. We had Carnegie Deli on the brain, but unfortunately, they were closed for renovations! We ended up at a deli right next door (which was delicious!) and Ubered back to the apartment. Using Uber in NYC was our first adventure with the company. We ended up using it quite a bit during the rest of the trip because of its convenience- especially in the evening when we might not feel as confident and comfortable using public transportation to head back to Astoria. And after long days of walking, riding in a comfortable, clean-smelling vehicle was worth every penny!

Our second day of NYC was even more of a whirlwind! We navigated the buses and trains much more successfully the second day and were in the city within 15 minutes. We headed downtown early morning to visit the 911 Memorial and Battery Park before the mid-day crowds. The Memorial was really unbelievably beautiful and moving. You cannot help getting teary-eyed upon seeing it and reading all of the names printed along the perimeter. It is a very overwhelming experience. 


11667291_10153514608312474_4408502574519968424_nSeeing the new World Trade Center building is no less overwhelming. Freedom Tower is unreal. Pictures just cannot truly describe how enormous this building is in person. 


We made our way towards Battery Park and caught a glimpse of Lady Liberty, along with an amazing lunch at Mighty Quinn’s BBQ at Hudson Eats. There really are no words to describe this place. If there is one place you eat in NYC, make sure it’s Mighty Quinns. It was, hands down, the most amazing bbq I have ever, EVER had in my life. Amen. Believe the hype on Yelp. It’s all true. 



We reluctantly headed back uptown (I really could have just moved in at Mighty Quinn’s and stayed there forever), hit some shops, then made our way to Central Park- another bucket list item of mine! The last time I visited NYC I wasn’t able to make it up to the park, so I knew this time I had to! We ended up renting bikes from Bike and Roll, just outside Tavern on the Green. We were able to rent 2 bikes for 2 hours for $60 (which included $6 bike insurance which they allow you to opt out of if you choose). I’ve got to say, riding the 6 mile path all around the park was the highlight of the trip for me. Central Park is just SO beautiful and diverse. I couldn’t get enough of it!




After our Central Park biking excursion, we hopped on a train and headed to the Bronx! Our boys were in town and we had tickets to see them take on the Yankees at none other than Yankee Stadium- another first for me!


11009092_10153515296992474_6813761187918840008_nIt was so cool watching the Tampa Bay Rays play in NYC. Surprisingly we were sitting near other Rays fans, so we were able to enjoy our hot dogs and beers with only a little bit of heckling. 😉 Brian’s highlight was catching a practice ball! 


We caught an Uber ride from the Bronx back to our apartment, exhausted from a tiring day in the city! 

The next morning we said our goodbyes to the Big Apple, and headed back down to D.C. to celebrate the 4th of July at our nation’s capital! We purchased round trip tickets from Tampa to D.C., so it worked out perfectly that we would spend the 4th there! It took us about 3 hours to drive from NYC to D.C., giving us time to return our rental car, check into our hotel (booked on Booking.com), grab dinner, and a spot at the National Mall for fireworks that evening! 

11694803_10153518717137474_45098305299203300_nIt was an amazing end to a wonderful summer vacation together! 


I’m always thanking my lucky stars for Brian, but after this trip I’m even more grateful for his spontaneity, and love of adventure. I couldn’t ask for a better partner and best friend, and cannot wait to experience more fun moments with him! 

Have you traveled this summer? -Steph 


Herby Asian dressing

Earlier I posted my meal plan for this week. I mentioned grilled chicken thighs and an Asian salad. Both of these dishes are made with this AMAZING herby Asian dressing! I marinate the chicken thighs overnight in this dressing and grill it the next day for dinner (works well with shrimp too!). To make an scrumptious slaw, toss this dressing in a mixture of kale, broccoli slaw, almonds and dried cranberries!


It’s super easy to whip up, lasts about 2 weeks in a sealed jar in your fridge, and can be used as a marinade or dressing. 

Which is exactly what I did. 😉

I love double duty recipes like this. A batch of this dressing is so versatile, and much healthier than anything you’d purchase in a jar at the store. You can easily make this in a food processor, but if you don’t have one, a blender will do. unnamed (1)

Herby Asian dressing
Yields 2
A delicious dressing that can be used as a marinade too!
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
  1. 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  2. 1/2 cup raw honey
  3. the juice of 1 lime
  4. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 tbsp. coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  6. 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  7. 1 tbsp. fresh ginger
  8. 2 cloves garlic
  9. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  10. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  11. 1 tsp. red pepper flake
  12. 1 tsp. sea salt
  13. 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  1. Place all ingredients at the same time into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and well-combined! Use it to marinade chicken, shrimp or as a dressing to your favorite salad or slaw!

7 tips for working out in the morning

Breaking news: You don’t have to be insane to enjoy morning workouts!

I know right? I was shocked too. People ask me alllllll the time:
“How do you get up so early for workouts? I could NEVER do that!”
Guys, I’m telling you. Morning workouts are where it’s AT.  Continue reading