October 27, 2014

Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry

So, today definitely feels like Monday. I woke up at 4:30am and couldn't go back to sleep. What to do... what to do... Aha! Blog post! (I was overdue to post anyway.)

Here you go, folks -- Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry. I took this idea from an amazing Thai basil dish I had awhile back. I'm a sucker for anything spicy and with basil. The traditional Asian flavors paired with distinctive basil does something wonderful to my tastebuds.

I found a great rice medley at Trader Joe's to pair with this dish. You can microwave it! How's that for easy?

I used to be really intimidated to make anything Asian inspired. So many ingredients, I thought. I don't know how to stir fry, I said.

But now I have several Asian dishes on my blog. If you can follow directions, you're golden. I promise.

Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen

1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (substitute tamari for gluten-free)
5 teaspoons cornstarch, divided (you'll use part of it in the sauce and part for the chicken)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Pinch of red pepper flakes (add more for extra heat)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 - 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons vegetable or coconut oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 medium red onion, diced or cut into thin strips (I used a yellow onion)
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces
Hot, cooked rice, quinoa or noodles for serving

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the chicken broth, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, vinegar, red pepper flakes and sugar until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and remaining 3 teaspoons cornstarch.

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the chicken, breaking up any clumps, and cook until it is golden brown on all sides and just barely cooked through (it will cook a few minutes longer later in the recipe). Scrape the chicken onto a plate, keeping as much liquid in the skillet as possible.

Add the garlic, bell pepper, and onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet over medium heat. Whisk the sauce quickly before pouring it into the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, while the sauce simmers and thickens, 1-2 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Sprinkle with basil and serve over rice, noodles, quinoa or by itself.

*The original recipe calls for mango. I omitted because I wanted a savory dish, but feel free to add 1 cup of chopped mango if you wish.



October 13, 2014

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Besides the infamous pumpkin spice latte, who isn't waiting all year for these?! I know I am. Maybe even a PSL and muffin together? Ok, I might go into a coma from the sugar shock. Nonetheless, I'm sure you can tell what a pumpkin nut I am by this point. I swear I'll back off the pumpkin recipes... soon... probably.

I have to admit, I actually like this recipe a lot more than the actual Starbucks version. To me, Starbucks' version has an odd texture... like super oily? Anyway, I found this version on Crazy for Crust and they are deeeelicious! Delicate with the perfect amount of spice. The little dollop of cream cheese on the top makes these absolutely delightful.

They're simple to whip up. After you pour the batter in each muffin cup, simply add the cream cheese mixture right on top and bake.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Adapted from Crazy for Crust


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Cream cheese filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pumpkin Seeds, optional (I didn't use these, but if you want to be extra copycatty, feel free to add them right before baking)


Preheat oven to 350°. Line muffin tins with liners.

Stir pumpkin, oil, and sugar together in a large bowl. Do this by hand - don’t use a mixer. Stir in eggs, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda. Stir in 1 cup flour, then stir in milk, then stir in remaining 1 cup flour. Divide evenly among muffin pans, filling each liner 1/2 full.

Stir together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Drop 1 tablespoon onto the top of each muffin. Sprinkle with 4-5 pumpkin seeds, optional.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the muffin part comes out with just a few crumbs stuck too it.

Cool at least 5 minutes before serving. Store in refrigerator. I left mine out overnight to serve the next day, but be careful because of the cream cheese.



October 11, 2014

Plum Paper Designs Life Planner and Bonus Discount Code!

I am one of those people who needs to be organized and I have about 3 calendars I coordinate. I also have an erratic schedule, so I have to be super diligent to avoid missing appointments, double booking myself, or telling my friends I can meet up for happy hour when I'm actually scheduled to work. (It's happened.)

So I know Erin Condren's life planners were all the rage not too long ago. I thought about buying one, but I couldn't bring myself to spend over $50 on a planner, no matter how detailed and customizable it is.

Thrifty shopper I am, I found Plum Paper Designs!

I just got my planner a few weeks ago and I. LOVE. IT. (Keep reading for 10% off your own life planner!)

Plum Paper has so many beautifully designed covers and you are able to customize your planner to exactly what you need. You even get to put your name on the front. All for $30. (Plus get 10% off with my code)

The planner offers not only a monthly spread which is great for long term planning...

...but also weekly spreads that I chose to divide by morning, afternoon, evening. That works perfectly for mapping out my day between school, my internship, work, and social activities. However, you can choose to have your weekly spreads divided by 30 minute appointments or just blank lines. So whatever your day consists of, Plum Paper has you covered.

I love all the additional "extras," "notes," and "checklists" in the margins. I like to plan out my meals for each day and also write in reminders I need to complete for the week. It's also great for jotting down your grocery list before you forget butter at the store! (I didn't do that... ok I did.)

The planners come with a million little extras that I just adore. How cute is the "For Keeps" pocket in the back?? There's also additional "Notes" pages for each month, a contacts page, holidays page, AND calendars for the next TWO years so you can see what day your birthday falls on in 2016. :-)

You MUST go check out Plum Paper now and order your life planner! I don't know what I would do without mine.


Here's another example of an adorable cover design from their online shop.



October 6, 2014

Skinny and Spicy Cowboy Turkey Burgers


Let's make some healthified burgers!

You know how you have your basic items you always buy at the grocery store? Like, say, ground turkey. But you just get tired of the same ole' meals week in and week out? Yeah, me too. So I went on a search to find a turkey burger that would add a little pizzazz to my life. Specifically pizzazz where my tastebuds are concerned. And lemme tell ya, I think these burgers did the trick!

Up close and personal.

You take your basic 1.25 lb package of ground turkey and add in a host of Southwestern ingredients. Jalapenos, onions, hot sauce, cilantro, and some cheddar cheese. You also add in some carrots because I'm a veggie addict and I squeeze'em in where I can. BUT, you cannot, and I repeat, cannot taste the carrots. So don't leave them out! Your eyes can thank me later.

Grill them up until they're cooked through.

Top'em with a zesty slaw for a real Southern treat...

And there you go. An exciting dinner is served. No more bland turkey burgers.

And guess what? I was even more jazzed up at the fact that one of these patties (and 1/4 cup of slaw) is a mere 230 calories. I opted for a bunless burger with a side of smashed potatoes, which are out of this world amazing. I'll post the recipe for those below as well.

Check out the gorgeous sunset from my balcony... swoon.

Skinny Cowboy Turkey Burgers and Slaw
Adapted from the Skinny Fork

Servings: 5 • Size: Burger + 1/4 C. Slaw (Bun not included.) • Calories: 233.2 • Fat: 5.4 g • Carb: 7.2 g • Fiber: 1.3 g • Protein: 32.7 g • Sugar: 3 g • Sodium: 425.9 mg


1 1/4 Lbs. Lean Ground Turkey Breast
2/3 C. Carrot, Grated
2 Tbsp. Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp. Onion, Diced
2 Tbsp. Cilantro, Chopped
1 Tbsp. Hot Sauce (Tobasco)
1 Egg White
1 JalapeƱo, Seeded, Stemed & Diced
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
Salt & Pepper To Taste
2 1/2 Oz. Sharp Cheddar, grated

2 Tbsp. Fat Free Milk
2-3 Tbsp. Plain Fat Free Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 C. Slaw Mix or Shredded Cabbage
1/2 C. grated carrots


Combine the burger ingredients together with clean hands until well blended and form into five equally sized patties. You can make them ahead of time and keep them covered in the fridge to grill later.

In the mean time, you can prepare your slaw. Whisk together the milk, yogurt, vinegar and seasonings. Add in the slaw and toss together. This can be made ahead of time as well and left covered in the fridge until ready to top burgers.

Grill your burgers with your method of choice until cooked through. Ground turkey should reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees F.

Once the burgers are cooked, top each with 1/4 c. slaw and enjoy!

Smashed Red Potatoes


12 small red potatoes (I bought a pre-bagged bunch from Sprouts)
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Place potatoes in a large pot and add water until just covering potatoes. Boil for 20-25 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

Pre-heat oven to 450F. Drizzle olive oil on a non-stick baking sheet. Once potatoes are done boiling, drain and place potatoes in rows on the sheet.

Gently smash each potato with a masher, turn 90 degrees and smash again until potato spreads out like a cookie.

Drizzle olive oil over smashed potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like to add minced garlic sometimes too.

Pop in the oven and allow to roast for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes start to turn dark brown and crispy.



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