The Great List 08.22.2014

Find your path | Betsylife.com

Raise your hand if you’re relieved it’s Friday. (both hands raised) I’ve officially shaken off all remnants of my vacation and am back to business as usual this week. You know, it feels pretty good. As much as I love an adventure, the stability and routine of life at home is something that I crave in order to keep my head on straight. That, and gratitude which is the best way to stay present in my opinion.

1. This week I’m grateful for calendars, reminders, a set schedule that actually happened, and my ability to be productive. As much as Betsylife might seem like all fun and games, none of that fun is ever possible without all the hard works that keeps it alive. I’ve talked a big game about buckling down after my trip, and last week was a bit of a slow start, but this week I’m back to hyper speed again. My whole method is work hard, fast and efficiently for a set amount of time, then let it all go and spend the rest of my time doing what I love. It’s a Great life I’ve gotta say.

2. The Hubs achieved his goal of a free companion pass on Southwest Airlines this week. This means that between now and December 31st, 2015 I can fly with him, for free, wherever he goes. The poor guy is totally burnt out on travel, and once he gets back from his trip today I’m willing to give him a week or so to recover, but then I’m going to start planning our 2015 adventures! I can never express how grateful I am for The Hubs and his drive that keeps this family moving. I know its not always easy, but I’m very proud of him for the example that he sets not only for his employees, but for me as well. Hard work really does pay off……sometimes in the form of free airline travel.

3. I spent a nice relaxing afternoon with Jen, Leila and Carson yesterday. I hate when too much time passes without seeing my friends. I start to go a little nuts without them. Fortunately with Val and Jen both, we can get together without actually doing anything. We didn’t go to lunch, we didn’t go out, I just went to Jen’s house and sat around with her and the kids and talked. It was perfect.

4. My friend in North Carolina got a new puppy this week. Oh. my. god. I’m dying over this tiny little black lab! (Just like Olive!) There is nothing on earth that can brighten a day more than a chubby puppy belly. If you’re in need of a pick me up, visit her website http://skippyhaha.blogspot.com follow @skippyhaha on Instagram

Ok, well I’m checking “Gratitude” off my to-do list for the week (do you think I’m kidding?) so I guess I’m officially ready for the weekend. I hope you all have a Great one.

 

Zucchini, Corn and Carrot Fritters

Zucchini, Corn and Carrot Fritters | Betsylife.com

This morning I chose to put on a long sleeve shirt. There was a cold breeze coming in through the screen door. Ok, maybe cool is more like it (after all the screen door was open) but it did make me contemplate tracking down my slippers for a split second.

What the heck summer?!? In my book you’re required to stick around through labor day MINIMUM. In fact, I can recall quite a few hot summer October days here in San Diego. I’m counting on the extra vitamin D to get me through the winter. It’s too soon.

I’m totally not ready for this fall bullshit.

GO AWAY.

Zucchini, Corn and Carrot Fritters | Betsylife.com

My garden is still producing lots of fresh veggies so that’s a little bit of consolation. I’m just going to do my best to block out the ever-earlier sunsets, the cool breezes, and all the pumpkin and hot cocoa posts that are starting to trickle into my Facebook feed.  Instead, I’ll continue cranking out garden friendly foods, popsicles, and other summer favorites until The Hubs pries the garden shears out of my hands. I refuse to let this summer go without a fight.

On that note, please enjoy these zucchini, corn and carrot fritters, or as I like to call them, Summer Patties. There’s not a stitch of fall to be seen in these beauties. Are you with me? Let’s keep summer alive forever!

Zucchini, Corn and Carrot Fritters | Betsylife.com

Zucchini, Corn and Carrot Fritters

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 1 cup corn kernels, cut off the cob
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, grated
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Spread the zucchini, carrots and corn between 2 layers of double stacked paper towels. Press firmly to remove as much water as possible from the vegetables. Repeat until most of the moisture is removed.
  2. In a large bowl combine vegetables, garlic, cumin, crushed red pepper and salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Stir in flour and baking powder until all the vegetables are evenly coated. Stir in eggs until well combined.
  4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  5. Sprinkle a tiny bit of water into the pan to ensure the oil is hot before cooking fritters. The oil should sizzle if its ready to go.
  6. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, Spoon a few fritters into the pan being careful not to crowd them. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottom begins to brown, then flip and cook for 2-3 more until both sides are golden brown.
  7. Drain on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  8. Serve.
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Shrimp & Bacon Pasta with Crispy Kale

Shrimp & Bacon Pasta with Crispy Kale | Betsylife.com

As much as I tried to hit the ground running last week, I have to admit it was more of a slow start. I guess I can’t just jump right back into hyper productivity mode after a long vacation like I used to.

Every day is a new chance to accomplish some goals, so cheers to it being a full-of-possibilities Monday. I’m hoping that last week was just a warm up, and this week I can really set the pace for all those things I want to start checking off my (long) lists in the weeks to come. It’s a lot of stuff, so I’m going to require coffee….and carb loading.

The Hubs was thrilled when I actually made pasta for once and didn’t try to trick him with veggie noodles. I’m so stoked on my garden these days, and both the tomatoes and kale for this dish came straight out of my backyard. Tomatoes are in their peak season right now so we’ve been eating them at almost every meal.

Add a little pasta, a little shrimp, a little BACON, and you have got yourself one complete meal to fuel your busy day. Yay productivity! May your to-do lists shrink with each passing day.
Shrimp & Bacon Pasta with Crispy Kale | Betsylife.com

Shrimp and Bacon Pasta with Crispy Kale

Ingredients

  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1lb fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6-7 ounces smoked gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cups kale chips

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside
  2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Once cooled, crumble. Reserve 1 Tbsp bacon grease.
  3. Season raw shrimp with salt and pepper.
  4. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the remaining bacon grease. Once melted, add shrimp. Cook 4 minutes on each side or until shrimp turns pink and is opaque. Remove shrimp and set aside.
  5. To the same skillet add remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook 6 minutes or until they begin to char on both sides.
  6. Add the pasta, crushed red pepper, cayenne and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss well and cook for 2 minutes, just until the pasta is hot. Fold in the cheese. Continue stirring until the cheese melts.
  7. Separate the pasta into 4 servings. Top with shrimp, fresh basil and kale chips. Serve.
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The Great List 08.15.2014

Betsy & Jimmy_

Photo by Limelife Photography 

I’d like to start by wishing The Hubs a happy anniversary. It boggles my mind how time can move so fast and so slow all at once. Despite the fact that our friends are now scattered around the country, most with one or more kids, it feels like it wasn’t really that long ago that The Hubs and I met and we were all drinking Guinness together from a kegerator and playing foosball at the Gay Sailor. That was 11 years ago. When I was looking at our wedding photos last night, my nieces and nephews that we JUST went on vacation with look so little. That was 6 years ago. It’s wild. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

1. Speaking of our friends, I’d like to start this Great List by talking about them. I cried many times this week because of thoughtful words, caring outreach, vulnerable sharing, and heartfelt acts that I witnessed from my friends. Holy crap I am the luckiest person on earth to have such brave, intelligent, insightful and loving friends. Each and every day my life is enriched by truly wonderful people. It is the thing I am most grateful for in this world, and something that I don’t write about on this Great List often enough.

2. I spent a whole evening with Val and Fi this week. I got to feed Fi her first carrots. This all seems so inane, but to me its really what life is all about. I’m beyond grateful that when my friends had kids we didn’t see less of each other. The kids just became part of the fold….part of OUR fold, and now there are just more people at our gatherings.

3. My neighbors signed for my wine club shipment this week and thought it would be funny to open the box and replace the bubbly with some shitty old bottles and one empty bottle. Hilarity ensued, and we all had a good laugh (once I figured out what had happened!) I’m so grateful that I have neighbors who are truly my friends. So much so that they knew that they could prank me without me getting mad. It’s really Great to live in a friendly and welcoming community. I’m not so good at pranks but The Hubs is, so WATCH OUT Britta and Stacey! It’s on!

4. Boozer is back (until the end of the month!) which always makes my Great List, but this week I’ll be more specific. We let Boozer sleep in the bed with us, and when The Hubs is out of town Boozer sleeps under the covers with his head on the pillow which is the cutest thing EVER, and makes me smile every time. I love that dog.

I’d just like to note that this week was not without its challenges. I want to remind everyone that The Great List is a space to shift your focus from all the things that are going wrong, or are causing you discomfort, and to take a few minutes to remember and honor all those things that went right throughout the week. For me, gratitude has become a habit. The more you do it, the more you find to be grateful for. I promise you it works.

“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness” -William E. Gladstone

 

Strawberry Zucchini Muffins

Strawberry Zucchini Muffins | Betsylife.com

As my beloved summer starts to make way for fall, everyone’s got back to school on the brain. I’ve had such a blast posting over at Club Chica Circle all summer long, but alas the time has come for my final post. Cue the sad violins.

I find that this time of the year people are excited about the possibilities that a new season holds, but still try to hold on the those glorious summer days. For this reason I decided to combine my favorite fall activity, baking, with the lingering flavors of summer, strawberries and zucchini.

These make a great breakfast, or slip one into a backpack for a mid-day snack. Check out the full recipe with step by step instructions over at Club Chica Circle. Thanks for having me ladies!

Strawberry Zucchini Muffins | Betsylife.com

 

 

Pizza & Buffalo Wing Bites #12bloggers

Pizza & Buffalo Wing Bites Recipe. The perfect after school snack! | Betsylife.com #12bloggers

Back to school, joyful or dreadful? I guess that depends on if you’re a parent, or if you’re going into 6th grade with your new braces on for the first time.

I loved school. Back to school time always seemed kind of magical to me. We spent our summers away, so school starting meant getting to see my friends for the first time in months. I loved getting new clothes and school supplies, and can still recall the nervous feeling of wondering what the new year would bring. Plus, us midwesterners were always anxious for the sweltering humidity of summer to give way to the cooler temperatures of fall.

Pizza & Buffalo Wing Bites Recipe. The perfect after school snack! | Betsylife.com #12bloggers

These days back to school time has lost its luster a bit. Deep down I can still recall that unique feeling of anticipation, but without any kids of my own, and with no school age kids in my immediate daily life, its kind of just another day.

The most significant part of this time of the year now is the end of tourist season in our little beach town. Once labor day rolls around parking gets easier, the stores and streets get less crowded, and us locals finally have our beautiful community all to ourselves with many weeks of perfect summer weather still ahead of us.

September in San Diego is much more magical to me than back to school time ever was.

Pizza & Buffalo Wing Bites Recipe. The perfect after school snack! | Betsylife.com #12bloggers

Despite not feeling the back to school excitement, I have recently committed myself to a more rigorous work schedule, and The Hubs is on the go as always, so I think we deserve some “back to school” snacks for our efforts.

The Gals in my 12 Bloggers crew and I got together this month to bring you 12 awesome back to school snack recipes. These are perfect for kids of all ages, or if you’re married to an overgrown, bottomless pit 13 year old like I am, they’re perfect for that too. Everyone is busy, so let us help you make feeding your family just a little bit easier.

Pizza & Buffalo Wing Bites Recipe. The perfect after school snack! | Betsylife.com #12bloggers

Pizza & Buffalo Wing Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 pepperonis
  • 1/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • 1/3 cup Franks Red Hot sauce
  • 3 Tbs butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Roll out crescent dough. Cut each triangle into 3 equal parts.
  3. Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Press a section of dough into the bottom of each muffin cup.
  4. For the pizza bites, place a pepperoni in the bottom of each cup. Top with a spoonful of pizza sauce and a Tablespoon of shredded cheese.
  5. For the buffalo wing bites, combine Frank's Red Hot Sauce and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts, stirring constantly. Add diced chicken.
  6. Place a Tablespoon of the chicken mixture into the bottom of each cup. Top with a Tablespoon of shredded cheese.
  7. Bake all the bites for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Cool slightly and serve, or cool completely and freeze.
  9. To reheat frozen bites, wrap loosely in a paper towel and microwave for one minute.
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12 awesome after school snack recipes | Betsylife.com #12bloggers

The Great List 08.01.2014

afterlight-56

I’m just going to get right to it because I’m super tired and kind of hungover and I can barely type a sentence without a typo, so I think it’s best to keep it short and sweet. Here’s a few Great highlights from my week that I took the time to notice.

1. I spent yesterday at the ballpark with my good friend Katie (hence the hangover). We haven’t been able to hang out too often this summer so it was Great to be able to spend the whole day together and catch up. No summer is complete without a baseball game, and the weather made for a gorgeous setting. Ballpark, hot dog, and a beer is the ideal way to spend a Thursday afternoon in my opinion.

2. Speaking of hot dogs, Boozer has been here all week long. I love that little guy so much. He’s my favorite dachshund of all time, and brings a smile to my face every time he visits. I’m sad to say goodbye to him today, but will cross my fingers that I’ll be seeing him again soon.

3. As an artist, there is no greater feeling than when you create something that turns out exactly the way you envisioned it in your head. I had a couple of ideas this week that worked out for me that way. I can’t wait to share them with you soon. I’ve been super proud of the work I’ve been producing lately. I hope that my streak can continue.

4. Last but certainly not least, I got to meet Mr. Logan Peterson this week. He’s 3 weeks old and the son of some friends of mine whos journey to have a baby was one of the most heartbreaking I’ve ever known. Logan was worth the struggle and the wait, and is probably the most special baby I’ve ever had the pleasure to hug. Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe what I feel for my friends happiness. I can’t wait to watch the little guy grow.

Seriously. That is all I’ve got left. I’m off for vacation tomorrow. I hope to check in here and there from Puerto Rico so come back and see what I’m up to. Have a Great weekend one and all!

 

 

Breakfast Potato Skins

Breakfast Potato Skins| Betsylife.com

When I sit down to write a blog post, I often have something in mind that I want to write about, but if I don’t,  I ask myself, “what’s going on with you right now?”

Well here’s where my brain is at this moment……………………..

Yup, that’s right. Totally checked out. Or possibly a bit scrambled. Most likely a combination of the two.

Breakfast Potato Skins| Betsylife.com

I imposed this “summer break” on myself, which has been awesome, but now its winding down with a vacation I’m leaving for in a few days, and I’m having mixed feelings.

On one hand, I have the pre-vacation stress going on. On the other hand I have a slow-down-and-enjoy-your-last-few-weeks-of-freedom feeling contradicting all that mental chaos. On top of it all is the pressure to get back to work in a serious way once I return, coupled with many lofty ideas and goals.

I’m a mess. A brain scrambled mess.

Breakfast Potato Skins| Betsylife.com

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by the crazy, I have to step back and let it all out creatively….usually through food. This time through two of my favorite foods, potatoes and eggs.

Because nothing cures a stressful day like some carbs am I right?

My mantra for my last two weeks of my summer break is this,

“Life is good. Food is good. Brunch is good. Soak it in.”

I can almost guarantee you that if you’re ever having a stressful day, these breakfast potato skins will help. Even better, make a big batch and eat them for a few days to keep the chaos at bay. They’re straightforward, easy to prepare, super comforting, and a complete meal all in one little package.

Confucius said, “Life is actually really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  

I’m going to keep that in mind and try to release my feelings of anxiety in order to enjoy the rest of my time off.

Breakfast Potato Skins| Betsylife.com

 

 

Breakfast Potato Skins

Ingredients

  • 2 large baked potatoes, fully cooked and cooled
  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • Avocado, basil, hot sauce, salsa or other desired toppings

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice each potato in half and scoop out the insides leaving a thin layer all the way around. Reserve potato for another use.
  3. Place skins on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  4. Fill the bottom of each skin with crumbled bacon. Divide shredded cheese among each skin.
  5. Carefully crack an egg into each skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-18 minutes or until eggs are set.
  7. Remove and top with your favorite toppings.
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After School Snack Cookies

After School Snack Cookies | Betsylife.com

In the weird scenario I’ve created in my mind, next week is my last week of “summer break”. In reality, there was no break to start and end, just more of my regularly scheduled life. Somewhere around May I convinced myself that I would take the summer off to really enjoy myself and not worry so much about work or “what’s next?” which is something that always seems to be on my mind.

Let me tell you, it’s been a great summer, and a darn good idea on my part to make the time to enjoy it if I do say so myself.

Without hard work, frustration and sacrifice to compare it against, taking time off loses its luster a bit. As much as I’ve loved floating around in a beautiful summer haze for the last few months, its about time to get back to it. I have this week and next week, and then after that, it’s business time.

After School Snack Cookies | Betsylife.com

Perhaps taking this time off was a way to remind myself of the summer vacations of yesteryear that ended with the anticipation and promise of a new school year. That’s kind of how I’m interpreting this return to work…..back to school, betsylife style.

First I’m going to buy myself a new pencil case, then I’m going to bake myself a bunch of these after school snack cookies, because as every kids knows, a hard day of work should always be rewarded with a cookie.

After School Snack Cookies | Betsylife.com

I took all the best after school snacks and stuffed them into one batch of cookies. Chocolate, potato chips, animal crackers and coconut. You could easily do pretzels, peanuts, almonds, or candy if you wanted to as well.

I’ll pat myself on the back for a job well done at the end of each school day when I reward myself with a cookie. That should keep me going strong for a while until Christmas break rolls around.
After School Snack Cookies | Betsylife.com

After School Snack Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  • 1 cup plain potato chips
  • 1 cup animal crackers, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cream butter and brown sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract and eggs.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Turn the mixer to slow and gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until combined. Fold in chocolate chips, coconut, potato chips and animal crackers.
  5. Place batter in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but up to 48 hours.
  6. Spoon heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake 13-18 minutes until edges begin to brown.
  8. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.
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Running Thoughts {Sponsored}

If you need me between 6:30 and 7:30 am chances are I’ll be running. I’ve found that morning running works best for me mostly because I’m still half asleep so I don’t have a chance to talk myself out of it.

As my body wakes up on my morning runs, so does my mind. Generally my thought process goes through a cycle that sounds something like this;

1. “My legs hurt, I’m tired, I’ll never be able to finish this run, I have to pee”

2. “What’s that guy doing sitting in that truck? He seems suspicious. I’d better memorize the license plate just in case.”

3. “I already forgot the license plate.”

4. “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?”

5. “What am I going to make for dinner tomorrow night?”

6. “I love this song!”

7. “I’m still tired. This sucks. I think I need to walk”

8. “If we were on the Amazing Race, Val would kill me if I walked.”

9. “Slow is better than nothing. Slow is better than nothing. Slow is better than nothing.”

10. “I’m starving! What am I going to eat when I get home?”

11. “I think I’m going to make it.”

12. “Almost there. Don’t quit now. Food awaits you.”

13. “Finish strong!”

14. “Well, at least that creepy truck sitting guy is gone.”

15. “Done! So glad I got that out of the way first thing in the morning. Now, what’s for breakfast?”

As you can see, food is on my mind constantly.

My favorite post workout snack is Silk Almond Protein + Fiber. Its a quick and easy way to replenish your depleted muscles. Once I get a little fuel back in my system. I start thinking about food once again, and what to cook for the rest of the day (and sometimes the following days).

In order to keep the feelings of desperation, weakness, and desire to quit at bay while running, its essential to fuel your body properly. By substituting Silk Almond Protein + Fiber for milk in a recipe, you’re getting 5g of protein and 5g of fiber per serving which helps you to feel full longer.

I boosted this great veggie pasta with a tomato cream sauce by adding Silk Almond Protein + Fiber, and was able to enjoy it for dinner and lunch the next day. Since my body was perfectly fueled and I didn’t feel hungry, I was forced to find something else to think about during those runs.

If you want to try new Silk Almond Protein + Fiber, head over to their Facebook page for a coupon.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

The Great List 07.25.2014

Photo booth backdrop

Despite having a ton on my plate this week, I feel like I never got to that “shear chaos” tipping point. Maybe with maturity I’m learning to better keep a level head, or maybe my extreme summer zen mode just won’t allow for any undue stress. Whatever the case may be, I made it through a hectic week totally unscathed, and I’m rolling into this weekend with a smile on my face. Check out my gratitude inducing moments.

1. We hosted yet another successful Creative Connection event this week, possibly my most favorite one to date. I can’t say it enough times how much it means to me to meet and interact with creative minded people. You can have the best support system in the world, but talking with people who know exactly where you’re coming from is invaluable. The location was Great, the talent was Great, the vibe was Great, and I left feeling inspired and uplifted.

2. Speaking of locations, I’m beyond stoked about the location of our event, Maker Place. Its a cool, membership based warehouse space that has everything from 3D printers, to plasma cutters, to long arm quilting machines. You can pretty much make anything there. It reminded me so much of long nights spent in my painting studio in college. The Hubs and I both got memberships starting in September. I cannot wait to experiment with new materials, and make some awesome new stuff. I’m even more excited for The Hubs to have an outlet for his creative energies as well.

3. As I was walking Olive yesterday, I took a moment to take notice of the “dead of summer” atmosphere. You know what I mean. When it’s hot and sunny even into the evenings, and the whole world seems to slow to a melted pace. You hear bugs buzzing in the trees, and the breeze blows hot. Shade becomes the most sought after commodity. This is the time of year that I love the most. Perhaps the sun fried my brain or something, but something about mid-July gives me a Great sense of peace.

4. Thankfully, to combat the heat, we have a Great outdoor living room which I was very grateful for this week. Our house is an oven in the afternoons when the westward setting sun beats through our living room windows. I’m so grateful that I can escape to my outdoor couch/TV room (in the shade!) to relax after a long day without sweating my ass off. Bonus: If its still hot, there’s always an option for a little night swimming. I love this house!

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

 

 

 

Zucchini Nachos {Sponsored}

Zucchini Nachos | Betsylife.com

Meatless. Everyone is doing it these days, not just vegetarians.  I’m not talking salads and tofu here. I’m talking about flavorful, mouthwatering, meat alternatives.

The Hubs and I actually eat meatless fairly often, and he complains about it rarely. Actually, he only complains when we have salad for dinner, but when I serve spicy black bean burgers or buffalo chik patties I don’t hear a peep from him. There are plenty of meatless ways to satisfy even the most stubborn carnivores in your life.

Great meatless recipes

This year, MorningStar Farms® is stopping at local festivals across the country to share some innovative ways to create flavorful meatless meal options – without compromising taste. They’re calling it their “Good Food for Good Times” tour.

Well I’m pretty sure I know a thing or two about good food AND good times. Those are kind of “my things” (well, that and nail art. Don’t ask.)

As you may know, I’ve been working my magic with my CSA subscription this year. The past few weeks I’ve been flooded with zucchini, one of my all time favorite vegetables. Zucchini is a blank canvas to me. There are a million different ways to enjoy it.

Inspired by MorningStar Farms®, I set out to create a fun, meatless party appetizer for my latest group of weekend pool guests. Zucchini Nachos | Betsylife.com

One great way to enjoy your freshly grown, or CSA obtained zucchini (or squash, carrots, beets, turnips etc.) is by turning them into veggie chips. All it takes is some thin slicing with an inexpensive mandolin slicer  and a little time in the oven. I’ve seen several methods for making veggie chips, but I find a shorter time at a higher temperature has worked better for me than a longer time at a lower temperature (essentially dehydrating the vegetables).

Once I had chips, the next logical step was to turn them into nachos. Veggie chips are fine, but veggie nachos are a crowd pleaser. I chopped up a couple of MorningStar Farms® Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger patties and crumbled them over a heap of fresh zucchini chips (Patties aren’t just for burgers people!). Top the whole pile with cheese and maybe add some salsa and guacamole on the side, and your carnivorous guests will be too busy stuffing their faces to realize that they are in fact enjoying a healthy, meatless treat. Zucchini Nachos | Betsylife.com

Zucchini Nachos

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchinis
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 MorningStar Farms® Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers, defrosted.
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

    For the zucchini chips
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Thinly slice the zucchini using a mandolin. I used #3 thickness on mine.
  3. Line a paper towel with zucchini slices then top with another paper towel and press down to remove some excess moisture. This will help chips to cook faster.
  4. Spread zucchini slices in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. You may have to do several batches.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning once, until chips begin to brown and crisp. YOU NEED TO KEEP AN EYE ON THEM! There is a fine line between browning and burning so be sure not to set it and forget it.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. For the nachos
  8. Roughly chop the Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger patties.
  9. Pile the zucchini chips on a microwave safe plate, top with chopped patties and shredded cheese. Microwave for 20-30 seconds until cheese melts.
  10. Enjoy!
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Whether it’s hosting a party or cooking dinner for the family, MorningStar Farms® offers a fresh and versatile take on eating well with more than 30 products and 600 recipes that are convenient and delicious. Visit www.morningstarfarms.com to find exciting new ways to enjoy MorningStar Farms® and spice up your kitchen.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

White Bean and Peach Salad

White Bean and Peach Salad with a Lemon-Mint Vinaigrette | Betsylife.com

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” ― Henry James

I’m drunk on summer. As much as I try to move about my days with purpose and drive, I always seem to find myself staring at the clouds and daydreaming the hours away. Nothing in the world seems as important to me right now as being still and feeling the sun on my face.

Fresh Peaches | Betsylife.com

Don’t worry. Work is still happening. I’ve never been one to shirk my responsibilities, but the second a project wraps or an invoice is generated, I’m back to living in my bubble of blue skies, ocean breezes, and the smell of sunscreen.

I’ve read 6 books so far this summer. I’ve painted. I’ve taken walks. I’ve drank beer on patios with friends. There has been much BBQ consumed. I’m blissfully in my sweet spot.

I know all good things must come to an end, and I have major plans for when I “buckle down” once fall comes, but until then I’m determined to relish every second.

Fresh Peaches and Watermelon Cucumbers | Betsylife.com

Every experience in life has a million facets. My love of summer wouldn’t be complete without feeling the temperature of those breezes, the smell of that sunscreen, and the exact blinding blue of the sky. To love summer is to taste it, and for me it tastes like fresh peaches.

Perfectly ripe juicy peach juice running down your face and arms is one of those purely summertime experiences that can’t quite be replicated any other time of the year.

When you take fresh peaches, and pair them with equally seasonal watermelon cucumbers and an ice cold beer, you are well on your way to summer nirvana.

White Bean and Peach Salad with a Lemon-Mint Vinaigrette | Betsylife.com

White Bean and Peach Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 medium peaches, halved and sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 2 tablespoons oil, mint, lemon juice, and syrup in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add spinach, peaches, and cucumber; toss gently to coat. Divide spinach mixture among 4 plates; top with white beans. Sprinkle with almonds.
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**Recipe adapted from Cooking Light 

The Great List 07.18.2014

Sunrise San Diego

This week was a bit disjointed. The Hubs was gone, and we were both out of our regular routine once again, so things came off a little bit hectic. No biggie. It’s the weekend now so we can slow down, and regroup. But first, gratitude.

1. You guys might think I’m nuts with this one. Have you ever been dancing at a nightclub and you get into a groove then suddenly, POW! The song hits a high point and the lights flash and the crowd goes crazy? This week when I was running a super difficult hill run, the song in my headphones hit a highpoint right as I reached the top of a huge hill, and the sun burst out through the clouds at the exact same moment. I know it sounds so ridiculous, but the run was so hard, and I needed that boost at that exact moment, and it was such an awesome feeling. Little moments like that one are floating in and out of our lives all the time. When I actually take a second to notice and soak them in, they seem to stay with me for a long time.

2. I almost gave The Hubs a heart attack this week when I told him I was going to the mall with Val on a Sunday. That’s something that hasn’t happened in probably 15 years. It wasn’t terribly painful, and I did get a new fragrance out of the trip. Fragrance is one of those things you can’t really order online. I’m loving my new scent but the best part is that it’s really long lasting, so I can still faintly smell it at the end of the day.  Risk (weekend mall trip) = Reward (new stuff)

3. I got to take a long walk with Jen this week and another one with my friend Becky. I think walking is my friends and my favorite thing to do. The younger me never would have imagined saying, “What are you doing this weekend? Want to take a walk?”, but that’s how we roll. Being outside (especially in the beautiful San Diego weather) is already one of my most favorite things, but combining that with great conversation and a light workout is kind of the perfect combo. It’s funny to think how I used to spend my weekends. (We won’t get into that)

4. I heard from so many of my “kids” this week. First I got a package from Texas. Inside is a necklace that is made from the original artwork of my 7 year old niece, Elsa. It’s a picture of a dog wearing a bow. I about died. Two of my brothers and their kids are at our family lake house in Minnesota. I got a barrage of photo texts of my 7 year old nephew holding a giant fish, my 3 month old niece riding in the boat for the first time, and a video of my 2 year old twin nieces dancing. This morning I got an email from my cousin in Canada with a photo of his two kids, but my favorite of them all was the text I got from my sister in law in Dallas with a photo of my 4 year old niece Alexandra who gave herself a “new haircut”.  I mean, she looks like Halle Berry. I haven’t laughed so hard in a while. My sister in law is mortified, but it absolutely made my day.

Just rereading this post makes me feel even more grateful than I already was feeling. Life is frickin’ good let me tell you. Gratitude is one of those self fulfilling prophecies. The more you talk about it, the more things you have to be grateful for. Keep this in mind as you enjoy your weekend.

How to use your CSA Box: Part Five

What to make with your CSA Share |betsylife.com

The weekend is here, which for me usually means getting by on popcorn, string cheese and wine. I love to eat healthy, and I love to create in the kitchen, but sometimes I just need to turn everything off you know? Never fear, we’re going to wrap up our CSA box this week with three easy, mindless, snackable recipes that you can enjoy all weekend long.

Only a few items left in our CSA box:

-Lettuce

-Kale

-Purslane

-Pickling Cucumbers: partially used

-Radishes: partially used

-Avocados

-Onions

-Green Beans: partially used

-Strawberries: Partially used

-Carrots

-Zucchini

See my other posts from DAY ONE  DAY TWO DAY THREE, and DAY FOUR 

Fresh Strawberry Breakfast Cake |betsylife.com

I kind of love a crumbly breakfast cake on the weekends. This time around I made this simple, fresh strawberry breakfast cake. You can eat it for breakfast on Saturday morning, then dessert on Saturday night, and again for breakfast on Sunday. I’m sure it would taste pretty darn good in the middle of the afternoon too if you want to go there. It takes a bit of effort one time, but you get to reap the rewards for days.

Other suggestions:
Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake

Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake 

Strawberry Bread 

Easy, healthy snack recipe | betsylife.com

After a long day in the sun I’m usually feeling pretty fried and brain dead….yet hungry. For years I’ve been mixing tuna fish with ranch dressing and eating it spread on celery stalks. You know what? Its excellent on cucumber slices too! Talk about a simple summer snack. I love this for a weekday lunch as well.

Easy refrigerator pickles recipe |betsylife.com

Last but not least, if you ever have anything leftover, PICKLE IT!  Making pickles is the simplest thing ever.

Combine 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons non-idodized or pickling salt, and boil until the salt dissolves. Stuff your pickling jars with pretty much any vegetable you can think of. I’ve even pickled strawberries before! This time I used the rest of the cucumbers, the rest of the green beans and the rest of the radishes.

Add one teaspoon of any combination of peppercorns, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, coriander seeds, garlic cloves, or celery seeds to each jar. Ever get fresh herbs in your CSA box? Add a sprig or two to each jar as well.

Once the jars are jam packed, pour vinegar mixture over the top and fill to the top. Seal with a lid and store in the fridge. The longer the pickles soak, the more flavor they’ll have. I like mine to sit for at least a week before eating, but feel free to dig right in after 12 hours or so. These should last in the fridge for about a month.

So that’s it. One, regular sized CSA box, two people, one week, and ton of recipe inspiration. I think I’ve shown that it doesn’t have to be all about smoothies and salads so don’t be intimidated! Find a local CSA, subscribe, and put your local produce to work. You’ll be helping your community, as well as yourself and your family.

Strawberry Breakfast Cake |betsylife.com

Fresh Strawberry Breakfast Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and diced. Reserving a few slices for the top

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch pie plate
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, mix until well combined. Add in the vanilla.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk in 3 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  5. Fold in diced strawberries.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Cover the top of the cake with reserved strawberry slices.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 325 and bake 40-50 minutes more, until cake is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool before slicing.
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How to use your CSA Box: See the full series

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five