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The New Spots in San Diego You Can’t Miss

I know I’m not the only one who has their favorite restaurants/bars and when the time comes to meet up with friends, is a creature of habit because, 1. I know it’s good and 2. I’m craving my favorite menu item. Since moving back to San Diego, there are sooo many new spots that have popped up. Luckily for you, I’ve been trying them all! Here are my top new spots in San Diego that I’m now obsessed with! 

Where to eat in San Diego

Parakeet Cafe

Looking for the most adorable cafe? Parakeet Cafe has got you covered! You walk into Parakeet Cafe and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be immediately obsessed. Not to mention everyone was so friendly! I was between a few options on the menu (surprise, surprise) and the employee helped me pick! I went with a friend for brunch/lunch and we ended up getting avocado toast with poached eggs and added smoked salmon and a cocoa waffle (which was gluten free, btw). Both options were delicious, how can you go wrong with a savory and sweet picks? We also got a chai tea latte, a cold brew, and just to try a beet latte. I would recommend all of them! The beet latte is very instagramable, just in case you’re into that kinda thing ;)! 

The decor is themed with a tropical vibe and you can see neon lite signs, “birds of a feather” “tweet tweet” and more. They have a variety of gluten free pastries that you need to get for later and bring your pup because the patio is dog friendly! There’s three locations in San Diego – Del Mar at One Paseo (the one I went to), La Jolla, and Little Italy. 

Farmer’s Table 

I’ve heard great things about Farmer’s Table and let me tell you, all of my expectations were met! I went on a mother – daughter brunch date here and we both loved it. The restaurant is decorated so cute and I love their saying “farm to fork” -it’s so cute and is a fun play on farm to table. I love that they even have a tractor inside! And every corner of the restaurant is decorated differently. They have a huge patio and it’s even dog friendly! 

We got a bloody mary and mimosa and both were great. The Tijuana Maria was very instagrammable! It even had grilled street corn on it and was loaded with all the goodies. For food, we got the turkey benedict and the heirloom tomato frittata which were both 10/10. You could tell how fresh everything was. Make sure to save room for dessert because we got the nutella bread with strawberries and bananas which was so delicious!

I would also like to point out that the service was also amazing, we got everything we needed right away and they really went the extra mile. I would recommend this place for breakfast and I can’t wait to go back again!

Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung is not new to the restaurant world, but it is new to San Diego. It started as a cooking oil retail shop in 1958 and then in 1972 transitioned into a full fledged restaurant and immediately started to win awards. There is a buzz around this restaurant, Forbes named them as having “the world’s greatest dumplings” and it even has a Michelin star.

I went to their location at UTC in La Jolla which was busy even on a Tuesday afternoon! We had a reservation but this place is known to have long wait times and even wait months to get one. The decor is very chic with a gold wall when you enter with a huge window so you can see the chef’s hard at work making the dumplings. We decided we wanted a variety and tried a few items! We got vegetable & mushroom dumplings, shrimp & kurobuta pork dumplings, sauteed string beans with garlic, and shrimp fried noodles. Everything was delicious, but the string beans were out of this world! If you’re in the area, I’d recommend stopping in…with a reservation of course!

Gravity Heights

Gravity Heights quickly became my go-to spot for anything after my first visit! I first went for brunch and it was amazing. I can’t say how much service can impact an experience, our server (if you go and Mitch is working you have to sit in his area) and he was one of the best waiters I think I’ve ever had. The restaurant/brewery itself was very cute and chic! There is a huge wrap-around bar that would be perfect for football games along with a beer garden, full size restaurant and patio seating. They have a huge selection of brews, cocktails, ciders, and even hard kombucha. 

Just make sure you come hungry because there are so many delicious options! We loved the crab fries, ahi tuna starter, white pizza (whipped burrata, need I say more?), and the avocado toast with crab. We also HAD to get dessert and they were amazing. We loved the strawberry shortcake and the cast iron cookie.

Lagom Food

Lagom is a community in the search for balance. Not too little, not too much – just right. How does that not draw you in? If you’re anything like me, it will. This place has family owned from start to finish, their chic pink decor makes you want to hangout in the restaurant for hours, and the owners walk around to see how everything is. The chef even made a few appearances! We got a lavender & chai latte, both were very delish! Their acai bowls were very tempting but I went with chilaquiles and boy will I be drooling over them from now on. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked amazing and I can’t wait to go back and try everything on the menu. You could tell it was so fresh and no ingredient was overlooked. 

What are your new favorite spots in San Diego? I’m always looking for new restaurants to try out!

~ XOXO, the forever exploring, Amanda

A cart full of holiday items at Trader Joe's in San Diego
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The Best Seasonal Holiday Items at Trader Joe’s

It’s time, it’s officially time!! The holiday season is here!! Can you picture little Elf Amanda saying that? Because I hope you did! As promised, I am letting you guys in on what I think are the best seasonal holiday items at the famous Trader Joe’s. 

Holiday Items at Trader Joe’s

I’ve tried most of everything I like to think and I love Christmas so I’ll take every excuse to get festive, here are my favorite (must buy’s – if you will) of what you should buy this season! So let’s start the season of eating…diet starts in the new year, right?! From Thanksgiving to Christmas and even into New Year’s we all have countless parties to attend to bring things, and these are perfect! Or if you don’t, indulge yourself!

Autumn Maple Coffee

Is there anything more cozy than a freshly brewed warm cups of coffee on a cool morning? I don’t think so! These grounds have a hint of maple, just enough so you can taste it but it’s not overwhelming for a sweet cup for your morning!

Jingle Jangle

This is addicting so be careful, you can probably eat the whole container without realizing! It’s that good. This is a combination of milk chocolate-covered mini pretzels WITH dark chocolate-covered caramel popcorn, dark chocolate-covered Joe Joe’s cookie bits, candy-coated milk chocolate gems, AND mini peanut butter cups. Need I say more? P.S. they even have a jingle jangle ice cream if you want more!

Cranberry Chevre OR Fig Fresh Goat Cheese

I love adding a log of goat cheese to any cheese board…and why not make your board more festive while you’re at it. I personally LOVE the fig and LIKE the cranberry chevre but I also like a little more savory than sweet. 

Eggnog Greek Yogurt

You egg nog lovers can run to the store ASAP! Because this is for you! I like to think of this yogurt as Christmas in a cup and I like to think it’s a little better for you than the traditional eggnog. And they also have eggnog almond milk. 

Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips

You guys, these are my new favorite. You know how Lay’s (or whoever) always tries to come out with new/odd flavors of chips and 9/10 they fail? Well, of course Trader Joe’s didn’t. 

Spiced Cider

HOLY MOLY, this is so good warm! I love with with a shot of your fave alcohol, or even warm for the kiddies! It makes me feel so festive and gets me into the seasonal mood!

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s

For everyone who love the spiced cider Joe-Joe’s, those are good. But these are great. Like buy a few extra to put in your freezer so in February you can grab a box! They’re your traditional Joe-Joe’s but with candy cane pieces mixed into the cream. If you really wanna go all out..you can get them dipped in dark chocolate also. 

Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy

As Trader Joe’s is always good for, this is an option for both vegetarians and vegans on Thanksgiving, and I like their meatless meatballs..so of course I like this. Yes, it’s not real turkey, but it’s pretty delish!

Naughty or Nice Dog Treats

Gatsby will only be eating the nice dog treats this season because we’re not taking any chances. They also have puppy treat advent calendar, and you can bet Gatsby got one of those!

Winter Snowflake Pasta

These snowflakes are your typical pasta but I swear they taste better! If you’re like me and living in a warmer city where you won’t be getting snow then this helps fill the void (a little!)

Turkey Cranberry Meatballs

If you know me, you know I love Trader Joe’s frozen appetizers and these meatballs are no different. These are dreamy! They’re so perfect for any occasion – you can serve them as an appetizer with toothpicks or on top of Trader Joe’s snowflake pasta. Am I too festive? No, okay good..but on a serious note, they have turkey, cranberries, and flavors of stuffing inside so it’s like you’re eating a Thanksgiving dinner in one bite. 

Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows

Since I’m the one who’s always on a diet, these are perfect because they’re bite size (portion control). They’re peppermint-flavored marshmallows coated in dark chocolate which are great for something to satisfy your sweet tooth or put out on the dessert table!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Pecans

This is the perfect holiday side…with ZERO stress but all the yum. This is your typical sweet potatoes, butter, cinnamon, and maple-roasted pecans side dish that all you have to do is heat up. And waaa-laaa, your dish is done. 

Cinnamon Rugelach

Trader Joe’s sadly didn’t bring back their cinnamon roll wreath, but this is almost as good. It’s more of a croissant texture and rolled with a date and cinnamon filling. I like to top it with a little bit of powdered sugar for a “snow like” effect. 

Scallops Wrapped In Uncured Bacon With Brown Sugar Glaze

It’s a little DUH moment that these are delicious…scallops and bacon, I know is everyone’s favorite, so I’m curious when Trader Joe’s will get smart and keep this item year round. This is an impressive (and easy) appetizer for any meal or to bring to a party! Another win for Trader Joe’s frozen food section. These are some of the best appetizers from Trader Joe’s. 

Camembert Cheese And Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites

If you love the savory and sweet then this is your new go to. It’s both not to mention flakey and gooey so they cover all the bases! Can it get better? They only bake for 12 minutes!

Hot Cocoa O’s

Holiday spirit doesn’t stop for a quick breakfast, hot cocoa o’s are the perfect seasonal breakfast for something quick! You’ll get chocolatey O’s with freeze-dried marshmallows, who says you can’t have hot chocolate for breakfast?

Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese

Now this…this is a game changer! It may not go well with your typical pasta dish because this ricotta has lemon and sugar which makes it perfect for a cracker and a tart jam. This can be used on either a cheese or dessert plate! 

Scandinavian Tidings

These are perfect to put out on a table to add more red and green and another option for easy snacking. They also are great to keep in your desk drawer for a mid day slump or throw in your child’s lunch for a treat!

Mini Gingerbread Men

Can you get more festive than gingerbread men? If you’re like me then you’ve had your fill with a bite or two, which is why I love these so much! Trader’s says that 3 cookies is one serving…not that we count serving sizes in any sitting during the holidays. 

Turkey Pot Pie with Stuffing

Pot pies are one of my favorite items during the cold months and this is no different. If you’re eager for Thanksgiving then go run to get this! You’ll get turkey, veggies, turkey gravy, cornbread stuffing, dried cranberries, and of course a puff pastry!

Ugly Sweater Cookie Kit

These are like your typical cookie decorating, but just with your typical ugly sweater! This comes with cookies, frosting, and some sprinkles so you can make your own ugly, yet cute sweaters!

Nantucket Style Cranberry Pie

This is great for last minute get togethers where you don’t know what to bring or even just to throw in the oven on a weekend night with a glass of wine! This is the perfect holiday dessert and you can top with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 

DRUMROLL PLEASEEE..for my all time favorite!

French Onion Soup Bites

These are the perfect frozen appetizer (or meal) and I feel so fancy eating these! They have caramelized onions and Swiss cheese, seasoned with a vegetable broth. Basically you get french onion soup with no need for a spoon. 

If you’re looking for some other frozen food appetizers from Trader Joe’s that are amazing but they have them year round, check out my blog post! My favorite frozen appetizers from Trader Joe’s or even my favorite Trader Joe’s Finds.

Did I miss something? Let me know!

~ XOXO, Amanda, the elf who’s ready to eat!

The Best Frozen Appetizers From Trader Joe’s
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The Best Frozen Appetizers From Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s is my all time favorite for mostly everything. It’s great because you can get pretty much everything you’ll need to host any sort of function from the frozen food aisle. You could be craving any cuisine – Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Indian, etc and they’ll have something for you. They have everything ranging from the child at heart, mac n cheese balls, mini pizzas, and pigs in a blanket to “fancy” apps like tempura shrimp and vegetable samosas. 

I love hosting and getting friends together, but I also love a good easy and affordable way to continue to do this. After a busy day, the last thing I want to do (most nights) is to spend an hour or two cooking. I was having a girls night so I went to my local Trader Joe’s and here are my favorite frozen appetizers from Trader Joe’s. 

Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip – $2.99

This creamy and cheesy dip is always a crowd pleaser with my friends. This is always one of the first appetizers to be finished because you can have so many things in the dip and it’s perfect. I’ll normally leave out pita chips, celery, and carrots with this dip. 

Pastry Bites with Feta Cheese & Caramelized Onions – $4.99

A puff pastry, melted cheese, AND caramelized onions — is there really anything more appetizing? Although these bites are one of the more pricey options but they’re sooo delicious. I also think about how much it would be for me to buy all the ingredients for these and then how long it would take to make them and hope they turn out instagrammable. These are two-biters so be ready with some cocktail napkins. 

Crabless “Crab” Cakes – $3.99

These cakes have all the textures and flavors of seafood-based cakes but they’re made with jackfruit. I’m not vegan or gluten free or any of those things but I’m always down to try a healthy option, and I did. Then these quickly became a go-to. I’ll cut these up on a platter with a few different sauces to dip in and you can’t even tell they’re not real crab cakes so your guests will think you’re extra fancy. 

Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower – $4.99

The outside of this has a nice crispy texture but once you get to the cauliflower it doesn’t hold and it’s softer. The flavor, however, is still there. The flavor is similar to kung pow chicken. It’s $4.99 which like the pastry bites I feel like is a lot but with this you get 1.5 pounds of food which is a lot for people to keep munching on and is healthy! 

Meatless Meatballs – $3.99

Again, I’m not a vegetarian but I do have a few friends who are so these are always my go-to protein when hosting so everyone can enjoy! They will fool any meat-loving person and they’re so easy to leave out. I leave them in a shallow bowl in a vodka or marinara sauce (I have heard even in BBQ sauce they’re good) with some toothpicks and boom done.

When I was doing some research for this post, I found a lot of delicious sounding frozen appetizers that are season. When the holidays come around, I’ll try them all and give you my favorites. 

Just some more reasons why Trader Joe’s is the best grocery store in the history of grocery stores. Have a favorite app that I missed? Let me know! I’m always down to try more! 

~ XOXO, Amanda

NOURISH

Your Guide to Cheese & Wine Pairing

Wine and cheese are two of life’s greatest pleasures and they just so happen to be two of my favorite things. Finding the perfect wine and cheese pairings is something I love to do, With every new cheese I try, I always think to myself, which wine would be perfect with it. Or vice versa. There’s so much to take into consideration with wine and cheese pairings, like texture, acidity, and tannin. I am a firm believer in that both are delicious on their own, but when paired perfectly, magic can happen. This leads us to the million dollar question:

Which Wines Pair Best With What Cheeses?

If I had my pick, I’d more often than not pick a red wine. I used to only drink Moscato in my early days which makes me cringe now. But my palette has been refined (THANK GOD) and now I can appreciate a nice rosé, or sauvignon blanc on a warm summer day.

Merlot & Garlic & Herb Cheeses

Merlot is a medium – full bodied red, typically with hints of plum, black cherry, and black tea. It pairs perfectly with the flavors from this spreadable cheese (like pictured). Since Merlot is a dry and fruity wine, blending it with this tangy flavorful cheese will give the wine the perfect combination of sweet and savory that we all know and love. The cheese will also help bright out the fruity flavors in the wine.

Sauvignon Blanc & Feta

This light bodied and dry wine gives off hints of citrus & grass which makes it perfect for feta’s soft and fresh taste. Since sauvignon blanc is light and feta is soft, neither flavor will over power each other. You’ll love how these both subtle yet complementary flavors go hand in hand perfectly.

Cabernet Franc & Brie

“Cab Franc” as everyone likes to call it, is a medium – dry wine  where you get flavors of raspberry, bramble, and sometimes even bell pepper.  Brie is soft and creamy, and one of my favorites. Brie is very creamy and buttery which compliments this wine’s savory flavors.

Crisp Dry Rosé & Goat

This light – medium bodied, and dry rosé often with splashes of raspberry and cherry and goat cheeses are very subtle in flavor, it needs a subtle wine so the flavor doesn’t get overwhelmed. Since you’re getting that crisp finish with this wine, the goat cheese will go along with the soft and ripe sip that the wine brings. Think of a perfect summer picnic with a rosé and goat cheese. I am also a big fan of sauvignon blanc with goat cheese if you aren’t a rosé fan.

Riesling & Blue

Riesling is often light and dry with subtle peach and other stone fruits in flavor. People oftentimes stray away from stinky cheese like blue when wine pairing, but these two are perfect. When you pair blue with a sweeter wine like the riesling, it will help balance out that “funk” and give you a more mellow and sweet taste with the cheese. These stinky cheeses give both a unique texture and flavor so don’t leave them out.

Pinot Noir & Comté

This pinot is a light – medium bodied wine with a dry taste, giving off earthy tones and ripe red fruits which pairs great with this cheese because it’s a nutty cheese with medium firmness. Comté can give off hazelnut and brown butter. Neither of these have a robust flavor which lets the flavors from each come out.

The Best Wine and Cheese Pairings

What I’ve learned is – don’t be afraid to experiment or get creative with your pairings! With wine and cheese pairings balance is the key. You want to be able to taste both the wine and cheese and let them compliment each other vs. one 100% being overpowering. If you want to learn more about how to build the perfect cheese board, read my blog post!

Did I leave out a good pairing that you love? Let me know!

~ XOXO, the wine lovin’, Amanda

A picture of in n out food
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What You Need to Know About the Secret Menu at In-N-Out

If you’ve visited Southern California or the west coast, chances are people have told you that In-N-Out is a must try. And I couldn’t agree more. It’s not hyped or overrated, it’s a necessity. In-N-Out is slowly but surely moving East & I can’t wait for the dream that one opens up in Boston (I can dream, right?).

In-n-out menu at the drive thru

The Normal In-N-Out Menu

They have their basics of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries, drinks, and milkshakes. Every burger comes with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, raw onions, their famous sauce and of course a toasted bun. Listed on their menu is a “double-double” which is your typical burger just with two patties, I thought it was a little self-explanatory, but you can never be too careful with the newbies. That’s the easy stuff, now we get to the good stuff.

In-N-Out Secret Menu

A Neapolitan milkshake at in n out

The In N Out secret menu, maybe it’s not so secret to everyone anymore, it’s easily accessible online. But here’s an insider look at their secret menu.  

  • Animal Style: your delicious burger with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, extra spread, and grilled onions. FYI: You can have any burger made animal style.
  • Animal Style Fries: fries with cheese, spread, and grilled onions.
  • Double/Triple Meat: number of meat patties without any cheese.
  • Protein Style: instead of a bun, your burger is wrapped in lettuce. Any burger can be made this way.
  • X by Y: X = meat patties with Y = number of cheese slices. For example, you could say a 3 x 3 or a 4 x 3.
  • Flying Dutchman: two meat patties with two slices of cheese. Nothing else.
  • Grilled Cheese: buns with two slices of cheese, toasted of course.
  • Neopolitan Shake: your typical strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla shake for when you can’t decide which flavor to get. You can also pick and choose any combination of them.
  • Cheese Fries: fries that are loaded with cheese.
  • Root Beer Float: your classic root beer float. You get a root beer soda with vanilla ice cream.

My go to order from In N Out’s Secret Menu? Protein style, animal style, with fries and a Neopolitan shake. I am drooling just thinking about it! Enjoy your meal at In-N-Out, as if I needed to actually tell you that.

Animal Style everything from the in n out secret menu

~ XOXO, the animal style In N Out, lovin’, Amanda

Up close of the perfect cheese board
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How to Build The Perfect Cheese Board

If you’re like me in the slightest, you love cheese. I love the idea of a perfect cheese board and I’ve been trying to perfect making the best one for my girl’s wine nights. Simply put a charcuterie board is, “a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes” aka a board filled with delicious meats, cheeses, and yummy snacks. It’s perfect for an appetizer and goes great with wine!

Cheese boards are one of my favorites also because they’re so easy. You don’t have to have the “perfect” one as long as you have yummy sides, and most people don’t really care how it looks (unless you bring it to me, then I’ll judge you, JUST KIDDING!) But you can keep some essentials in your kitchen and then at a moments notice you can just add what you need and you’ll be ready to go.

What You’ll Need:

Cheese:

A selection of cheeses, as a general rule of thumb – get one hard cheese, one soft cheese, and one firm cheese. My go-to cheeses are: brie, blue, asiago, something spicy (like a pepper jack), and 

Meats:

Don’t forget the meats! I normally go for prosciutto or salami. Other popular meats are speck, coppa and chorizo.

Spreads:

Some popular spreads are spicy mustard, honey, balsamic glaze, or any type of jelly. This allows just an extra layer of deliciousness to any mini sandwich you make.

Fruits/Nuts:

These are great to add for a few reasons, one they taste great on their own so it’s a great way to clear your palette in between trying different meat/cheese combos.

Bread/Crackers:

My go to’s are always water crackers and a french loaf. If you want something else or something extra crunchy then I’ll throw in the Fig & Olive crips from Trader’s.

Tips for the Perfect Cheese Board

  1. Bring the cheese to room temperature before you make it. This will help you be able to cut it perfectly and arrange it onto the board. When your cheese is room temperature it will actually bring out it’s natural flavors.
  2. Change up your cheeses. I try to always incorporate a new kind every time I make one, this way I get to try and constantly perfect the board. The mix of the different types of cheese textures I think is key in finding the perfect balance.
  3. Don’t precut/slice all of it. This way if not all the cheese is eaten you’ll be able to save some for yourself later! Bon Appétit magazine says that if you cube the cheese it looks too much like “an afternoon snack for children” and then if you cut it too thin then the cheese will start to “sweat” and lose its flavor.

 

My Perfect Cheese Board

Gouda Cheese (I prefer extra aged but this varies from creamy to aged to extra aged) | A type of Cheddar | Asiago Cheese | Brie Cheese (double or triple cream) | Pepperoni Log | Roasted Red Peppers | Spicy Dijon Mustard | Extra Virgin Olive Oil | Balsamic Glaze | Fresh Loaf of French Bread | Water Crackers | Olives (I don’t personally like these but I add them when I entertain) | Seedless Grapes | Fuji Apples (sliced in thin sheets not wedges)

Favorite Combinations:

Gouda + Fuji apple

Gouda + Pepperoni + Mustard

Water Cracker + Brie + Grapes

Water Cracker + Asiago + Roasted Red Pepper

French Loaf + EVOO + Balsamic

French Loaf + Gouda + Roasted Red Pepper

Water Cracker + Manchego

The Perfect Cheese Board

~ XOXO, the cheese-loving, Amanda

Creamy Mac n cheese with hot sauce
NOURISH

My Favorite Cozy Crockpot Recipes

Cold days are never ending here in New England which means cooler nights that are perfect for crock pots and warm dinners! I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites for you all to try! I love coming home after a day at work, or running errands whatever it may be to the smell of dinner! These are easy recipes that taste great, what could be better?

Crockpot Chili Recipe

Chili is one of my favorites, and the leftovers taste just as good the next day!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 pounds of ground beef or turkey
  • 2 cans of diced or crushed tomatoes(2-14 oz cans)
  • 1 can (14 oz) of tomato sauce
  • a clove of garlic
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (red or green)
  • 2 cans of kidney beans (red or green)
  1. I brown the meat about 80% and cook the onions with the garlic
  2. Throw every else in the crock pot for 4-6 hours
  3. Garish with greek yogurt (or sour cream), cheese, and green onions. I of course add hot sauce. And wa-la! Your chili is done and delish!

Crockpot Tortilla Soup Recipe

I think this one was my favorite because it was SO easy! I was nervous because I’ve never done a crock pot without cooking the meat first, but it did it’s job and cooked the meat!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 (10.50 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 cups frozen corn (1 bag)
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • 1/2 onion
  • Toppings:
  • Sour cream/plain greek yogurt
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Green onions
  • Cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Tortilla strips

Case and point why this recipe is so easy!

  1. Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray. Place chicken in the bottom.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix everything else! And then put it on top of the chicken.
  3.  Cook on low for 4 hours. The shred the chicken (I did this right in the crockpot) and then cook for another 2 hours on low. If you are going to put this on while you’re at work, you can also shred the chicken before you serve. Serve with your favorite toppings & enjoy!

Cheesy Crockpot Mac ‘n Cheese

This isn’t necessarily healthy, but #treatyoself right? Because I think we all have a soft spot for mac.

What you’ll need:

  • 12 oz box of pasta (I used shell because I love when the cheese fills the inside)
  • 1/3 of a cup of sour cream
  • 1 10 oz can cheddar cheese soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 6 TBSP butter, cut into 6 tabs
  • 4 cups of shredded cheese (I used 2 cups of pepper jack and 2 cups of Monterey Jack)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  1. Cook pasta until it’s about 80% done, otherwise it’ll turn into mush in the crockpot (yes, that did happen to me the first time.)
  2. Mix in sour cream, can of soup, milk, garlic, dry mustard, and salt/pepper. Mix until it’s well combined.
  3. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top & gently stir in it.
  4. Place the butter cut on top, cover, and let it cook for 2-3 hours.

This mac is really the creamiest, and I of course add hot sauce on top. I give it a double thumbs up and really understand why/how “bulking” in the winter is really a thing.

 

~ XOXO, Amanda with the very full belly

NOURISH

My Favorite Trader Joe’s Finds

I love Trader Joe’s for many many reasons but I find their food is so easy to throw together and you can make delicious meals and not break the bank. So here are a few of my favorites and what I buy every time I go.
They are constantly adding new things – snacks, dinners, frozen apps, and my favorite: WINE!
I’m almost like a kid in the toy store when I go and here’s why/what are my favorite finds:

Trader Joe's Favorites l Boston, MA

Cheese – I find their cheeses have unbeatable (except Costco) prices. My favorite: pepper jack jalapeno, triple cream brie, garlic and herb goat, and asiago.
Green dragon hot sauce– Where else can I find “verde” hot sauce? Is it the same as your local taco shop? No way, but it does just fine
Sweet potato fries – They’re frozen, you throw them into the oven (I throw some everything bagel seasoning on them) and then BAM they’re so so tasty. And a perfect side, I’ve also attempted to make these myself and they don’t nearly come close.
Mac ‘n cheese – If you’re tired and craving something delicious, here is your go-to. Throw it in the microwave/oven and you have restaurant quality mac!
Everything but the bagel seasoning – This is hands down my favorite thing that traders has. I put it on everything, literally everything. From an avocado to eggs to chicken, it makes everything “plain” taste AMAZING.
Cauliflower Pizza Crust – I had been wanting to try and make this for awhile when I saw it here. I tried it, and am hooked. It’s the pizza without the carbs, and to me, it tastes like one of those thin crust pizzas – not like you’re being super healthy.
Raviolis – I looove these as well! They have so many flavors that you can’t go wrong with. I’m a fan of the arugula mushroom and the lobster. You feel like you’re being fancy when in reality you’re still lazy.
Turkey Meat Balls – I love these because they’re so easy. I put them in a pot with the sauce as the pasta cooks and by the time the pasta is done – BAM! Your whole meal was done in 5 minutes.
Cauliflower Rice – I love this with their frozen Mandrain orange chicken which I also think is a must buy. They go well together and you have a meal for about $7 for two which 1) tastes good and 2) can’t beat the price
Pollo Asada – This is perfect for #tacotuesday, taco salads, or really anything. They also have other meats that are already seasoned like lemon pepper, and they will randomly have new ones are well!
WINE – Their wine selection is like no other. You want a cheap wine, this is your place! My favorites: Barrel Ax – Red blend and Pino – cherry blossom. My favorite game to play? Me and whoever I’m with pick out a random one and see if it’ll become a new favorite.
Almond Butter Turmeric Salad Dressing – Sounds weird, I know. But you won’t be able to get enough. I eat salads a lot at work, and still to date, haven’t gotten sick.
Frozen Chocolate Croissants – These come in a pack of four. You put them out overnight and they grow. Throw them in the oven in the morning and cut up some fresh fruit and you are feeling like you’re in Paris.
Chia and Flax Seed Peanut Butter – I’m a big fan in general of peanut butter so it’s hard for me not to like any, but with this I feel like I’m just being a little bit healthy(ier).
Classic Original Water Crackers – These go great with cheese, and the calorie content in these vs your average crackers is a lot lower. So it’s a win win for everyone!
Veggie and Flax Seed Tortilla Chips – These are just good chips. They’re thick, but not too thick meaning you can eat chunky salsa with them and they won’t break. Which I think is hard to find these days!
~ XOXO, the full Amanda
Nachos at Loco
NOURISH

Southie Food Tour

If you’ve stayed up to date on my instagram I am always eating! I really can’t help it because there’s so many new places in Boston popping up all. the. time. And I don’t even remotely keep up!

Back story: we live in South Boston, MA which goes by “Southie” in these parts! And the food scene is unreal, it’s amazing. Here’s some of the popular places we’ve tried or are regulars at. Before you read, make sure you grab your stretchy pants!

Lincoln Tavern: This was one of the first places I ate at when I moved to Boston, and I quickly became obsessed! Their food is amazing. I kid you not. Their brunch has SO many good options, and I think they put a magic potion in their hollandaise sauce, because I have no idea why it’s so good. But their pizzas, burger, salads, it’s all so good.

Brunch in South BostonLincoln Breakfast Pizza

Capo: This place is an italian spot, and is it as good as the North End’s authentic italian? I wouldn’t say so. But does it curb the cravings for some pasta? Sure. It also turns into a live music bar downstairs at night, but you have to get there early to be able to go down..like by 8pm. What I would get: I think it’s always better to go with their specials and obviously the cheese board.

Punk & Poet : You walk in here, and it’s a giant “I HATE MONDAY’S” neon sign glowing, and you immediately think, yes me too. They have a wall of old books, like you’d be in your grandparents office which creates a cute vibe. They have great brunch foods, buffalo chicken bene, potato bombs, HUGE breakfast sandwiches. And fresh pressed coffee! What I would get: Benedict, sourdough sandwich, and of course potato bombs.

Benedict at Punk and Poet

Amrheins: I wanted to go to this place at first because they have “A’s” on all their cups…get it? “A”manda. Yes, it’s cheesy, I know. What I would get: buffalo chicken dip, roasted beet/goat cheese salad, and chicken pot pie.

The Broadway: I think the brunch is where it’s at. Or the burger, throw an egg on it and call it brunch. I’d say they’re famous for their boozy donuts. What to get: any of the breakfast pizzas. And the espresso martini, because it’s on tap!

Espresso Martini The broadway burger

The Paramount: My favorite thing to do here is grab a breakfast to go, take it down to castle island and have a little picnic. Whether it’s an omelette for breakfast or a buffalo chicken wrap for lunch, it’s always consistent and good. What I would get: buff chick wrap, cobb salad, or an omelette.

Loco Taqueria: They have me hook, line, & sinker with their margaritas! We’ve been there more than a few times and whenever someone visits a marg from Loco is always on the list. But what I am also obsessed with from here is their nachos. Nachos in Boston that satisfy the craving are hard to come by- and they have it down! What I would get: a marg, duh, you at least have to try a coconut one, but my favorite is the el hefe or house, nachos, and throw in some shrimp tacos (every taco I’ve had is good, so I don’t think you can do wrong).

Nachos at Loco

Coppersmith: This place has a food truck in it, does that say enough? There have a killer roof deck on top, with fun string lights. They have a projector that comes down to watch all the great sport games. What to get here: all. the apps. Southie tots, spare ribs, brussels. You name it, they’re all good.

Publico Street Bistro: For winter, they turned this place into a ski lodge/winter wonderland with fire pits outside and really encouraged people to sit on the patio (and freeze) but drink and eat! A great use of space if you ask me. Their claim to fame in my book is their brunch- if you go for lunch/dinner, I’d be safe and get a flatbread. What to get: bag of beignets and chilaquiles.

Kitchen door at publico Chilaquiles at Publico

Local 149: So this place has a lot of different things that sounds good, what drew me in here was the lobster mac muffin (see below) where I had to go in and try it. Very fun. What to get: fruity pebble waffle sliders and steak and tots…just make sure you spend the rest of the day at the gym.

Lobster MacMuffin from Local 149

Fat Baby: They are known for the sushi and cocktails, what more do you need in life? They have a lot to choose from, and they just opened not too long ago so the wait time has been long. I’ve only been once but need to go back to try more things! What to get (so far): Mai-Tais, dumplings, crab rangoons, spicy crunchy maki, and spicy tuna roll.

Fat Baby South Boston

Now I know Southie is only a small part of Boston but as you can tell…I’ve never been hungry from the day I’ve moved in!

~ XOXO, Amanda

NOURISH

Currently Craving: Lobstahhhh Rolls

You’re moving to the east coast? You’ll eat a lot of seafood. I got this countless times, so I decided to start my hunt: to find the best lobster roll in New England, a lot of these are in Boston though. Here are my first (few) I’ve had and enjoyed:

They put lobster on everything here…nachos, sushi, fries..not that I am complaining or anything but the classic “lobster roll” is 100% where it’s at, where the pride stays in New England. And don’t worry as I keep trying new places, I’ll be sure to share them as well!

The Lobster Shack : This was the first one I went to, last October when I visited Boston/Maine. I thought it was life changing, and I was hooked. They were huge, and not to mention delish! The scene here? A total shack, my favorite. It’s on the side of a building and normally there are two people that work there, one to cook the food and one to take orders. There’s no denying that this lobster was fresh.

Luke’s Lobsters: There are a few of these in the city. And I was first attracted to their logo, the stores are pretty cute as well. They have good rolls, but what’s better? The lobster bisque, I’m not sure what exactly they do to it. But it hits the spot!

Row 34: This is where I had the first option for warm and buttery, or cold with mayo for a roll. And where I learned always to go with warm. This roll stays in my top few, and from the people I’ve spoken with, they agree. I took a bite, and went into heaven. The scene? Not your “shack” type place, but not super fancy. And the bun? Brioche-ey and buttery, and delicious.

James Hook: This place looks like one of those rented bungalows that you see at schools or construction sites, but it has to my surprise it has very good lobster rolls. It’s a local favorite 100%. It’s a fast paced, like order and get out. There’s a few tables but you sit outside, or across the street has a park. Their bread, could have been better. It was dry and not like a brioche bun, to my belly’s disappointment. You can also buy some fresh seafood to take home!

Kernwood Country Club: I’ve ate here a few times- lobster more than once. I can’t tell you where they get it, but what I can tell you is it’s always good. Always fresh. Always satisfying. Always will be going back for more. Short, sweet, and to the point. But the bread here? Not worth the carbs, skip it and save it for a good bun.

Bostonia : So this lobstahhhh roll, sounds amazing. It has corn, aioli, avo, cilantro, and a few other things in it. It sounds amazing, but there’s a disconnect, I think because there’s so much going on. I like to let the lobster speak for itself. What I would go here for? Their bloody’s..but we’ll get to that at a different time.

Kelly’s Roast Beef: So this place, is your typical “burger” spot on the beach. Except they have roast beef in their name? Yeah, I was confused too. But I’ve heard people say these are favorites. And of course I have to try everything, and it didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t a brioche bun, like my belly likes, but it wasn’t dry. Worth half the carbs.

Bob’s Clam Hut: This place we went on a rainy day, and it had a line wrapped around the building. And it was worth the wait. I love the little clam shack vibes, easy and quick, yet so delicious. They’ve been doin’ their thing since 1956, and has been featured on DDD. They had a “the numbers” poster which I found amazing, and so hard to comprehend..get ready! They serve…47,175 lobster rolls, 1717 gallons of clam chowder, 4200 gallons if tartar sauce, 11,416 pounds of french fries PER YEAR. So obviously they know what they’re doing.

Sullivan’s: By far the cheapest one I’ve had, right on the water in my neighborhood. They also have very good soft serve, so you can get dinner and dessert all in one. It’s a typical order it, then eat it outside, my style. I was honestly a big fan of their clam chowder, a perfect compliment to the lobstahhhh roll.

Belle Isle Seafood:

Sanders Fish Market:This one? A little market in Portsmouth, a little off the beaten path, but I’m always willing to go the extra mile for food. Would I do it again? Ehhhh. What I would probably do is buy lobster and do something myself with it- lobster mac, pasta, salad, something but get their roll. The lobster itself was good, but the roll overall? Not extra mile worthy. If I can be honest..

The Barking Crab: This place has a fun atmosphere, right on the water, live music, and a large drink selection. They have a shareable drink, which I’m always a fan of. They also have the warm or cold option- like I’ve found out I went with warm. And it was good, not amazing, or heaven-esc, life changing. A typical New England roll, but here’s the catch..the service SUCKED. To the point where I was so flustered on leaving a tip. Our waitress didn’t check on us, our food took over an hour, getting a check, a box, more water, anything was impossible. And that carries weight with me, for a broke 20 something year old. I have to spend my $$ wisely. So with all the other options here, I’d skip.

Boston Harbor Hotel : They do these nights “Summer in the city” where they have live music and you sit outside, have drinks and apps. It’s a very fun way to spend a summer night. They also have little lobster sliders, which are beyond adorable. Even better? They taste amazing. I was very hungry when I had it, so I’m not sure if my growling belly was biased, but it’s drool worthy.

Lobsta Land: This is the one place that put a twist on the classic roll, and pulled it off! Maybe because it had avo? The bun was also a delicious brioche bun, buttery, and the perfect addition.

Pauli’s: Pauli’s is in the north end of Boston and a local deli/restaurant. A lot of take out/deliveries during the lunch hour. And you can order either hot or cold, of course I went with the hot. It’s perfect to grab and go sit by the water or on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Neptune Oyster: Neptune is crazy busy all the time. But you have to make time to go! What we did was put our name in around 11:00 AM and then they give you a call about 15 minutes before the table was ready so you can make your way back – and we got called back around 6:45 PM. We got lobster rolls, lobster tacos, and oysters. I loved it all!

Yankee Lobster: Yankee is one of my favorite lobster rolls in Boston! It’s easy to get to, there’s inside and outside seating and the rolls are huge! I’ve tried both hot and cold and believe it or not I like them both. Their patio is also puppy friendly, which in my book is a huge plus!

B&G Oysters: This restaurant is located in the South End and has the cutest little patio! I was obsessed and needed to go! Any warm weather day in Boston = patio dining. You can’t not sit outside with the majority of the year being cold. This lobster roll was definitely top 5 in Boston! You can even take a oyster shucking class, how fun!

Can’t decide? Let’s rank my top 3!

  1. Row 34
  2. Yankee Lobster
  3. Neptune Oyster

Have a lobster roll I missed? Let me know! I’m always on the hunt to try new ones!

~ XOXO, the lobstah’ loving, Amanda