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    6 Fun Recipes for Your Friendsgiving

    The1. Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies (Just a Taste)

    2. Sweet Potato Skins (Pinch of Yum)

    3. Turkey Spinach Sliders (Epicurious)

    4. Creamy Pumpkin Pasta (Annie’s Eats)

    5. Ginger Snap Lemon Ice Box Cake (The Everygirl)

    6. Two-Bite Mac n’ Cheese Cups (Fifteen Spatulas)

    My bags are (almost) packed and I’m counting down the hours until I’m home in Cincinnati to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. Most of our extended family members are out of town, so it will just be the four of us this year. But sometimes that’s the best, don’t you think?

    It’s no question Thanksgiving is my favorite food holiday (my mom makes a mean oyster stuffing), so I’m considering this the pre-game for my first Friendsgiving I’ll be hosting on Saturday. I need to get my practice in, guys.

    To prep, I’ve been searching the interwebs high and low for some fun, non-traditional recipes for the occasion. Who needs a whole turkey when you can make turkey sliders? And why make extra bowls dirty when you can enjoy mac n’ cheese using your hands? Exactly. Check out some of my favorite finds above — perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving or all year round, if we’re being honest.

    So, whether you’re planning to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, friends or your dog, a bottle of wine and a solid Netflix lineup, I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

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    Food

    The Easiest Appetizer You Will Ever Make

    When my mom threw together this little dish in less than five minutes (two, to be exact), I knew I had to share it with you guys (thanks, Nance!).blueberry brie5I’m a girl who loves her cheese. Whenever there’s a cheese plate around, I’m usually first in line. And when brie is involved, let’s just say you may or may not need to have a backup in the fridge, just in case (I tend to go a little overboard).

    Next time you’re having friends over, or are heading to meet your boyfriend’s parents for the first time, add this dish to your “things to whip together in a pinch” arsenal. It’s so easy, yet so pretty and will fool your friends into thinking you learned your skills from Ina herself. And your boyfriend’s mom? Stamp of approval, girlfriend.

    You will need:

    blueberry brie

    1. Top brie with caramel sauce
    2. Add a handful of blueberries
    3. Add walnuts
    4. Grab a cracker and enjoy!

    Blueberry Brie3

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    Food

    Protein-Packed Vanilla Oat Pancakes

    proteinpancakeI love breakfast, but it’s no secret that I love brunch even more. Why, you ask? Well, the activity usually involves sleeping in, sunny weekends on a patio and mimosas of the bottomless variety.

    When making brunch plans, I always wear something flowy and forgiving because I know I’m going to IN-DULGE. Waffles, pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, butter…and more butter. Yes, please (I’ve written about my favorite spots here, here and here).

    But even though I’m not one to turn down a pancake, I understand that too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. I’m looking at you, jeans with zero stretch.

    That’s why I’m a fan of recipes that put a healthy twist on a classic favorite. These protein-packed vanilla oat pancakes taste insanely indulgent, without the added calories and sugar you’d get from regular pancakes. They’re just the fuel you need to tackle a busy morning, and they’re especially great after a workout!

    You will need:protein pancakes

    • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder. I swear by this brand.
    • 1 tablespoon of almond flour
    • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
    • 3 tablespoons of raw oats
    • 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites
    • 1/3 cup of vanilla almond milk

    DSC_0081Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
    2. Heat a pan on the stove and coat with coconut oil to prevent sticking.
    3. Add the batter to the pan, the way you would with normal pancakes.
    4. When the batter starts bubbling, it’s ready to flip!
    5. Transfer to a plate, top with freshly cut bananas, unsweetened coconut flakes and maple syrup. Enjoy!

    I hope you guys give this a go and let me know how it turns out! With this recipe, you can brunch every day of the week ;) 

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    Cincinnati, Food

    Abby Reckman of Happy Belly Gives Tips on Eating Clean, Shopping Smart, and Snacking Right

    Ribbet collageAbby Reckman, the owner of Happy Belly on Vine, knows a thing or two about living a healthy lifestyle. She’s passionate about creating wholesome, healthy menu items for patrons, and her enthusiasm shows. I had the chance to step in the kitchen, take some photos and watch Abby and her staff go to work creating good-for-you sandwiches, smoothies and light bites. I’m easily won over by food, so naturally, my favorite part of the morning was when I indulged in a breakfast sandwich and smoothie (you just don’t mess with a girl and her breakfast).

    But if one thing’s for sure, it’s this: Abby and her staff are the sweetest. I asked Abby everything, from what inspired her idea for her own restaurant, to her tips for choosing healthy choices at the grocery store. Check out our interview below! Untitled-3I’ve always been passionate about food and how it affects the body. I studied nutrition in school and worked in restaurants through my mid-twenties, serving mostly bar food. I felt bad doing it because I thought there should be healthier options. Obviously, cooking at home is always an option, but today’s culture is social and fast-paced. I wanted to provide something that would meet the needs of the busy, health conscious person. The food at Happy Belly is healthy, but customers still leave feeling satisfied!

    Untitled-4Many things!  Everything from my dad’s cancer to my personal experiences have proven to me that diet can affect the whole body, mind, and soul. I believe your overall health is affected by what you eat the most.  I want for myself and others to live not only long lives, but also fun, joyful lives.  Your mood, your energy levels, your sense of well-being — it all starts with a healthy diet!DSC_2134

    Untitled-6Fruit, fruit, fruit!  Fruit is so easy to grab and take with you!  I also love RxBars.  They are Whole 30 approved and full of nothing but real food ingredients.DSC_2131

    Untitled-8Haha, again fruit!  I love to chop up some apples, sprinkle some cinnamon and nutmeg on them and add in a few raisins.  You can heat them up however you prefer and it’s like eating a little apple crisp!

    Untitled-9Stay on the outside of the grocery store. Kroger’s natural section is packed with good stuff. However, make sure to avoid the gluten-free and vegan goodies if you’re not gluten free. Many people think these options are healthy, but they’re actually loaded with sugar. I also just discovered this app called OpenLabel. It allows you to scan an item and will come up with any articles or information on it..pretty cool!

    Untitled-10All over!  I have tons of clean eating, paleo, and Whole 30 recipe books. Pinterest has many great ideas — even if they’re unhealthy, I’ll tweak them until they are clean-eating approved. The staff at Happy Belly is truly passionate about the restaurant and are always coming up with great recipes. We’re focusing on daily specials now, so we get to have fun in the kitchen and play with new ideas every day!

    ————————————————————————————————————————————–Thank you Abby for your time and insight! To read more about Happy Belly, view my previous post about it here.

    Happy Belly is open from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

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    Food

    5 Things to Make for Easter Sunday

    Easter is this weekend, so I did what any normal person looking for recipes would do. I visited Pinterest and (four hours later) gathered five recipes to try. Scroll below for pastries, salads, light bites and of course — mimosas. Cheers!

    Tart Cherry and Chocolate Pastriestart-cherry-danish

    When I think Easter, I think brunch. And when I think brunch, I think pastries. Lots and lots of pastries. These pastries from Love and Olive Oil combine a tart flavor from the cherries with a sweet and savory flavor from the chocolate. I’ll have four, please.

    Deviled Eggsdeviled-eggs-recipe-ohsweetbasil.com-2

    Deviled eggs are a bit of a tradition in my family. You can count on my Nonna to pile them on a plate every year. Whether you love them or hate them, chances are you’ve seen them around. I’m a huge fan of deviled eggs, and this recipe from Oh Sweet Basil is definitely one to try.

    Tea Cup Salads

    salad-tea-cupsI had planned to make a big salad, but I can’t help but fall for these adorable little tea cup versions from Hotel Gratitude. Seriously, how cute are they? I can’t even.

    Spring Pea Crostinispring-pea-crostiniI had to restrain myself from attempting to reach into the computer screen and grab one of these for myself. They look so good, don’t they? I’m a huge fan of crostini, and I love this particular version’s mix of flavors and colors. Visit What’s Gaby Cooking to get the recipe.

    Strawberry Grapefruit Mimosas 6a00d8358081ff69e201a73dfc2795970d-800wiStrawberry grapefruit mimosas. I don’t really have anything else to say. Just click here.

    As always, thank you for reading. I hope you have a great weekend!

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    Cincinnati, Food

    Eat Local: Pontiac Bourbon And BBQ

    pontiac2I debated posting this for a few reasons. One, I ate my food so fast, I forgot to take mental notes. Two, I’m a procrastinator. And three, I knew I’d get the “How does it compare to Eli’s?” question. So, here we are three weeks later.

    Pontiac is another glorious addition to Vine Street – Cincinnati’s foodie mecca. And because it’s owned by Chef Daniel Wright (the genius behind Senate and Abigale Street), I had pretty high expectations.

    DSC_0753_edited

    The truth is, I loved this place. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender, the grits were infused with bacon and jalapeno, and everything washed down nicely with a sweet tea. One downside, this heavy, stick-to-your-bones meal is not conducive to a productive afternoon. I just wanted to crawl under my desk and take a nap. But it was so, so worth it.

    I should mention that I am by no means a food critic. I am, however, Italian. And Italians love food. So I think that gives me some sort of food critic prerequisite. Maybe.

    DSC_0750_editedI studied the menu for a bit before deciding on 1/2 lb. of the Texas Style Brisket (fatty, of course) with a side of bacon fat grits. I laughed for a brief second because fat was mentioned twice in my order. But got over it a minute later because YOLO.

    The metal tray came with all the fixin’s: a side of white onions and pickles, four slices of buttered white bread, my side of grits and the star of the show — the meat.

    Not only was the food delish, but the atmosphere was on point. Think old fashioned diner meets Texas style roadhouse. The plush booths and the neon signs take it to the next level. This is the kind of place you want to go and just hang out.DSC_0746_editedDSC_0754_editedNow, for the Eli’s comparison. Eli’s will always, always have my heart (and my stomach). You just can’t beat getting together with your closest friends, grabbing your favorite bottle of booze and parking yourself at one of their picnic tables.

    But, at the end of the day, Pontiac was good. If you saw my empty tray, you would know. If you’re in the OTR neighborhood, be sure to pop in and chow down.

    Katie made a visit to Pontiac, too. Check out her review over at OUT + OUTFIT.

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    Food, Real Life

    The Brunch Club

    brunch6I might be teetering on the brink of obsession, but I can’t get enough when it comes to brunch.

    I’m all for trying new restaurants, braving the crowds and paying $15 for a pancake – but sometimes, the best brunch involves sitting on the living room floor, eating delicious Taste of Belgium waffles off of plastic plates. Oh, and you can’t forget mimosas and iced coffee – because staying hydrated is key.
    brunch1

    brunch7brunch4brunch2Which brings me to my next point: coffee. When Skinny Cow reached out to me about trying their new line of iced coffees, the first thing that came to mind was that one time in high school when I ate an entire sleeve of their ice cream sandwiches. Needless to say, I’m a fan.

    I’m easily impressed, but I really wanted to put these babies to the test. So, I invited the biggest coffee connoisseurs I know over for a little tasting party. The iced coffees come in three different flavor options: Creamy Cappuccino, Vanilla Latte and Mocha Latte. They were all a huge hit – even for my friends who prefer their coffee blacker than black.

    Each bottle is deliciously sweet and feels so indulgent, but at only 120 calories, you might as well try them all. And maybe add some whipped cream. And maybe some chocolate chips.

    brunch5brunch3If you’re looking for a fun way to unwind this weekend, invite some friends over, whip up some great food and get that iced coffee flowing. brunch9brunch10All coffee samples and party supplies c/o Skinny Cow. All opinions are my own.

     

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