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Raspberry Passion Iced Tea

When I used to work at Starbucks, one of the greatest things I discovered was the Passion Iced Tea. I no longer work for Starbucks but I do still dabble in drink making, I worked for coffee shops all during my teenage years and up until I was 21, so not making drinks is just…well not possible for me.

I always have Passion Tea on hand, it’s full of flavor and makes even the cloudiest day a little sunny. So when I was doing my weekly cleaning of my fridge last week, I stumbled upon some raspberries that needed to be eaten and knew just what to do- mix it up with Passion Tea! Raspberry is a perfect complimenting flavor for the already fruity taste that the tea carries and marrying the two together is SO easy. So go grab a box of this delectable liquid, and get ready to change your life- yes, it’s THAT good.

What you need:

  • 3 Passion Tea Bags (you can find them at any grocery store in the coffee/tea isle).
  • 1 cup of Raspberries
  • 1 cup of Water
  • 1 cup of Sugar

Putting it together:

  1. Take your raspberries and gently smash them. You aren’t wanting to smush them up into goo or anything, just a little smash to get things going.
  2. Now, bring to a boil your 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of your freshly mashed raspberries all together.
  3. Once your boil is reached, turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmer until all the sugar is dissolved- about 3 minutes.
  4. Set your sugar mixture off to the side and let it cool completely once finished simmering. About 20-30 minutes.
  5. Once your mixture is cool, boil 3 cups of fresh water and then place your tea bags in the water once the boil is reached. Take it off of the heat and let it steep for 5 minutes.
  6. After the 5 minutes is up, take a slotted spoon and scoop out your tea bags- pressing them up against the side of your pot right before removing them to get all the extra water and flavor out of them.
  7. In a pitcher, stir together your raspberry syrup and tea until well combined.
  8. Enjoy! :)

This would be fantastic to serve at a cook out or family gathering. It would look beautiful in a glass pitcher so everyone can see the beautiful color. Your friends and family will down it quick, so adjust the recipe to serve the amount of people you have over. This recipe will serve about 4 people!

Enjoy this delicious, summer in a glass drink! For an extra kick, add in lemonade or apple juice in place of 1 cup of tea!

This weeks post: reader choice! 

Hello, lovely readers. This week I am bringing it to you guys! What would you rather see up on the blog this week, a delicious yet simple summer drink (alcohol free) or the Mexican dinner I made today for my husband and I? Comment below and let me know, your choice may be featured on tomorrow’s post! 

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Sweet and Savory Pork Chops

Have you ever been in a food rut? Not too long ago the only thing my husband and I ate was some sort of chicken breast. Chicken, Chicken, Chicken. Everyday. You kind of get to the point where you are like, if I eat another piece of chicken I am going to turn into a chicken. You totally burn yourself out on something when you eat it constantly, even if it takes a few months, the burn out comes. Unless it’s chocolate, I can seriously eat that everyday.

So how does one avoid turning into a chicken burning out on something? You mix it up! As you guys know, I love to cook so usually mixing it up is what I do best when it comes to menu planning, but when I first began to want to lose weight I some how got the idea in my head that all we should eat was chicken. Now, I have gotten educated about losing weight and realized that portion controlling is the way to go. Say no to deprivation! Eating chicken everyday seriously chased me away from dieting after I ate so much of it. I was tired of just eating chicken. But now I have ventured into the world of different meats, and I have began to start cooking a meat that was often served to me as a child- pork chops. Delicious, tender pork chops.

This past weekend I bought a pack of these delicious pieces of meat and created a scrumptious sauce to serve on top to make it that much butter. After cleaning my plate, I knew I had to share it with you guys! Between the deliciousness of the sauce and the crispiness of the pork chops, your taste buds will be fully satisfied.

Ingredients

For the chops:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3-4 pork chops

For the sauce:

  • 14 ounces of Coke
  • 1/3 cup of Ketchup
  • 1/2 cup of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of Water
  • Mushrooms (optional)

Throwing it all together:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together your eggs. In a medium shallow pan, mix together your flour, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Dip your pork chops in the flour mixture, then into the egg mixture, then back into the flour mixture. This will make it extra crispy.
  4. Take your coated pork chops and pan fry in vegetable oil for about 1 minute per side. You are just wanting to get it a little crispy.
  5. Put your pork chops into a 9×13 pan and finish baking in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the middle is done. Depending on the thickness of your chops, it may take a little longer. I suggest using thinner chops for this recipe.
  6. While you’re baking the chops, it’s time to make sauce! Take 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sautee your mushrooms on medium heat until brown. I used baby bellas but you can use your favorite mushroom, if any! :) Remove the mushrooms from the pan and sit them aside.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk your coke, brown sugar, and ketchup until well combined. Then pour the mixture into the same pan you sauteed the mushrooms in.
  8. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-high and allow the sauce to reduce just a tad. About 1/4 of an inch.
  9. While the sauce is reducing, combine your cornstarch and water in a bowl and then slowly begin to add it into the sauce, whisking the entire time.
  10. Once the cornstarch is well combined, allow the sauce to thicken (about 3-4 minutes), stirring occasionally. Then, is using, add if the mushrooms back into the sauce.
  11. Now, all that’s left is to spoon the sauce over those delicious pork chops and enjoy!

Have you ever been in a food rut?

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Easy Seafood Skewers

Ever since I was a little girl, Seafood has been my favorite food. I have so many fond memories of family gatherings involving fish fry’s and my parent’s spending a large amount of time cracking crab legs for me. So anytime the opportunity for Seafood presents itself, I’m there!

This past week, I had a hankering for scallops. My hankering for scallops lead to an immense craving for shrimp. And then, Seafood Skewers were officially on the menu. I found myself counting down for the rest of the week for our seafood night. I decided to make it on the weekend so my husband and I could really sit and indulge on them without the pressure of getting it all cooked before it was time for him to get to work.

Some people see Seafood and think that when they want it, they’ll just go out and get it at some over priced Seafood Restaurant. I mean, don’t get me wrong- I love Red Lobster. I was just there 2 weekends ago. But you don’t have to go out and spend a ton of money to enjoy some delicious seafood. You can buy it at your local grocery store, Kroger has an amazing fresh seafood selection. And you can make it right in your own kitchen, you can, I promise you can! Take a look at how I made it this past weekend and get ready to have your own delicious seafood feast, right in your own home.

What you need:

  • 1 pound of Sea Scallops
  • 1 pound of Large Raw Shrimp
  • 2 fillets of your favorite white fish (I used tilapia), chopped.
  • 8 skewers
  • 1 cup of Butter
  • 2 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper

Putting it together: 

  • Begin by melting your butter in a small pot on medium heat.
  • While your butter is melting preheat your oven to 375 degrees and gather your ingredients. Make sure all of your seafood is thawed, cleaned, and ready to go.
  • After your butter has melted, whisk in 2 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning and sit it to the side.
  • Salt and Pepper your seafood to taste.
  • Begin to place your seafood on your skewers. You’ll have more shrimp and scallops than you will fish, so make sure to keep this in mind while you build your skewers. You can go in any order that you like but I liked to alternate the scallops and shrimp and sometimes adding in some fish between them.
  • Take half of your butter mixture and pour it into a large, glass, baking pan.
  • Place your skewers into the pan.
  • Brush the rest of your butter mixture over your skewers.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the shrimp is pink, the scallops are lightly browned, and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

SEE?! How easy was that? I bought all of my ingredients pre-cleaned and fresh. So it was an easy assembly. If you buy your fish with skin, skin it. If your shrimp has veins be sure to remove the vein and rinse it off well.

Enjoy your seafood night!

What is your favorite Seafood?

Date night Budget

How to have date night when it isn’t in your budget.

Date night Budget

The traditional date night for most couples include dinner and a movie. That is what usually comes to everyone’s mind when they hear date night. Going to dinner and a movie is probably my favorite thing to do. But by the time you buy dinner and then movie tickets (maybe some movie snacks too) that can cost around $100. Which is A LOT of money. My husband and I love, love, LOVE date night which always includes a nice, yummy dinner at our favorite restaurants. We love to eat and we love to be with each other. Since we began to save money though, we knew that spending $60+ a week going out to JUST eat wasn’t helping our savings goal any and that we needed to make some changes. Now, at first that sounds like we just need to throw out date night’s for awhile. That’s probably the first thought that comes to mind but me and my husband cherish our date night’s and our time out on the town together so we found ways to save money but still be able to go out together.

Me and my husband have been working hard to save money to buy a house later this year. We are starting from scratch so we have to buy all of the big pieces of furniture, the appliances, and everything else a house needs. That can cost quite a bit of money so we have to save quite a bit in a short period of time- we are looking to start house hunting in August. So all of our spare money has been going into our savings account. My husband and I really consider ourselves blessed to be able to save money at all because once upon a time a savings account was something we hoped to have, but didn’t “have” the money for. We’ll save that story and the transformation we made for another day though! :)

Whether you are on a smaller budget due to saving money like my husband and I, or maybe you simply just can’t afford it (I have been there myself), there are still ways to have date nights with your husband that doesn’t include spending lots of money, that we all can afford. Let’s take a look!

  1. Dessert Dates: My husband and dessert, my two favorite things in the world. So a dessert date is something I look forward to. It’s cheap but still very pleasing. Instead of going out for dinner and spending $40, $50, or even $60+ go grab some dessert. That can be donuts, a milkshake, a cupcake, or maybe coffee is more your thing. All of those things are budget friendly but really delicious. You can go after dinner or in the middle of the day. Who says you can’t have dessert before dinner? You can still get dressed up if you fancy, you can still get out of the house and go in somewhere and enjoy a nice treat. Each and every town usually has somewhere that serves some or all of the things I listed. Even if it’s just Dairy Queen. So get your hubby and go grab a booth at Dunkin Donuts and enjoy looking into each other’s eyes, while you enjoy your sweet treat over a loving conversation.
  2. Split an Entree: When my husband and I first got together we put on a lot of weight. We were going out to eat 2-3 times a week and eating huge portioned meals. Now, 3 years later, we are watching our portions (see my post here about how I have lost over 25 pounds) and weighing in less on the scale. I always joke about how my husband and I did it backwards. We gained all the weight in the beginning and then lost it after we got married- a lot of people do it the other way around. But, now we know what a good portion looks like and I can tell you this much- the entrees you get at restaurants are at least 3 servings. The entrees you get are not good for you to just sit down and devour in one sitting. Ask my scale about how my weight shot up when I thought that way. So when you go out, split an entree! You guys may share a favorite, which is even better for this but if you have 2 different favorites you can take turns ordering each other’s favorite. My husband and I split this bigger than life sized plate of nacho’s from our favorite Mexican restaurant and we both leave stuffed with a bit of food left on the plate. We order the entree and just ask for an extra plate. We split it up and are happy with our bill when it comes. It is half the price of what it would normally be. We leave with our tummies full, our hearts happy, and our wallets satisfied. You can even do this with an appetizer and order 2 side salads or enjoy some free bread with the appetizer if the place you go to hands those out- many of them do. Even better, just order some side salads and eat the free bread. See all of the alterations you can make? All for an awesome price and all of those things will fill you up.
  3. 1 date a month: if you really love eating at a certain restaurant and each getting your own certain items, then schedule it for once a month instead of weekly or bi-weekly. You can sit $10-$15 up each week and by the end of the month you have $40-$60 saved up just for the dinner at your favorite place. This way you aren’t spending $50 a week and instead you are only spending it once a month but still getting the kind of food you want.
  4. Pick and Choose date: When you go out to eat AND go see a movie that can cost up to $100. Which is really expensive. So pick just one to do that week and save the other for later. You can go out to dinner and then come home and watch a movie or you can have a nice dinner at home and then go see a movie. This way you get to do both in one way or another but you aren’t breaking the bank. Save Dinner AND a movie for special occasions like birthday’s or anniversaries. That way you aren’t depriving yourself completely from doing both in one night because it is fun, just not practical for a small budget to do often.
  5. This and That date night: I really love this one. My friends gave me the idea awhile ago and it sounded genius. It was a major plus that is was pretty cheap! How many times have you found yourself wanting to go somewhere but either you and your spouse wanted 2 different things or you couldn’t make up your mind which of the yummy places you wanted to eat at? I know i’ve been there a few times. So how this works is you both go to your favorite fast food places and grab something off the dollar menu. So for example, you hit up Mcdonald’s for an order of fries, Taco Bell for a crunchy Taco, and then Wendy’s for a tasty frosty. You get a little bit of everything and it will only cost you around $10! Take it home and get ready to dig in. Pop in a movie for an added bonus. Your taste buds will be so happy it got everything it wanted and your savings account will gladly welcome the extra $30.
  6. At home date night: So you aren’t really going out for this one but you can make it really special. You can both dress up like you normally would for date night instead of just lounging in your jammies (unless you want to, it could make this even better for you if dressing up isn’t your thing), you can set up some mood music, and nice candles. You can pick out an awesome sounding recipe and cook it together and then eat it over the candles at your dining room table instead of in front of the TV. Then you can pop some popcorn and watch a movie you rented you both have been wanting to see. When you make it special and change some things up, where you are won’t even matter because you will be spending a new and exciting night with your hubby.
  7. Free Dates: Yes, you can! You can spend an afternoon at the park, just talking while the sun goes down. A lot of towns have little craft fairs, you two can hold hands and stroll around town and look at the crafts people have created, you can go on a hike, a picnic, there are so many free things just waiting for you to take advantage of in the world. And it won’t cost you a dime :) My husband and I like to watch the movie we saw on our first date on special occasions, that is a date in itself and we already own the movie. Get creative!

Even though there is the traditional idea of what a date night is, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to do it. I just listed quite a few for you and me and my husband both have fun doing them all. At the end of the day, date night isn’t about eating fancy foods, it’s about getting away from the hustle and bustle from your everyday lives and enjoying each other’s company without the distraction that life loves to hand over to us. It doesn’t have to be expensive and it certainly shouldn’t make us all abandon our savings accounts or put us in a bind. It’s something each and every couple should be able to experience without the worry of the bill. So feel free to take my advice and enjoy a nice date with your husband. Your heart and wallet will thank you for it :)

How do you and your husband save money on date nights? 

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Spicy Oven “Fried” Chicken

IMG_0183Last night as I was watching one of my favorite shows, Chopped, I of course began to crave the food on the show. My mouth began watering for some crispy fried chicken. Me and my husband made a decision a few months ago as some of you readers may know, to eat healthier. So fried chicken isn’t really in my meal rotation. What I had planned to cook today was some sauteed chicken in some creamed spinach, a one bowl meal. After my craving though, I knew I had to go a crispy route.

This recipe is extremely easy and can be adjusted to your own pantry and tastes. Normally, I’m not crazy about spicy food but for some reason lately, I’ve been liking a nice kick to my food. So as I was falling asleep last night I began to think of a fun new way to make some oven “fried” chicken. Breadcrumbs have been my saving grace since beginning to eat better. It adds a nice crisp to anything you want without having to deep fry it, so I already knew I would be using them. But flavor, what kind of delicious yumminess can I coat my chicken in? And then it all fell together in my head. My husband jumped for joy when he took a bite, he LOVES anything spicy and I rarely cook spicy things. That made this dish even better.

I served this chicken with some skinny creamed spinach but this would pair really well with some broccoli or even a salad. It has a nice kick to it so a sweet barbecue sauce on the side would be yummy if sauces are your thing! :) I love some chicken and BBQ sauce.

I hope you guys enjoy it! MORE snow is coming in where I am, currently they are calling for 10 more inches! Is anyone else dreaming of summer weather? I’m ready for some family cook outs and delicious summer food. I’m getting antsy for a nice juicy burger from the grill and some fresh slaw (shout out to my mother-in-law, her slaw is sooooo good!)

What you need:

  • 1 Teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon of hot sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey
  • 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
  • Boneless Chicken Tenders
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Throwing it all together:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a shallow baking dish, mix your buttermilk, hot sauce, and honey all together. Then allow your chicken tenders to soak in this for 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a second dish, combine your panko bread crumbs, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.
  4. Taking 1 chicken tender at a time, press it into your bread crumb mixture. Flip the tender over and press again. Press it just enough to make sure all the crumbs stick to the tender.
  5. Place your tender on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the tenders.
  6. Spray your tenders with cooking spray or drizzle with butter or olive oil. This seals in the crumbs.
  7. Cook on 400 for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown and no longer pink in the center.
  8. ENJOY :)
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4 ingredient Pot Pie

A couple of years ago I took into a bite of something that blew my mind. Very few things in this world actually blow my mind, so I knew this was a hit. My cousin sent me a piece of her Pot Pie and I immediately asked for the recipe. When the list she gave me only consisted of 4 things it became THAT much better. Today as I was eating a yummy, warm, and perfectly creamy piece, I knew I needed to share it with you guys. It’s perfect for this time of year when it’s annoyingly cold and you just want to sit under a blanket all day. Let’s get cooking!

What you need:

  1. 2 pack of frozen pie crusts
  2. 1 can of cream of chicken
  3. 1 can of mixed veggies
  4. 1 large can of cooked chicken

Putting it all together:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and let your pie crusts sit out on the counter to get a little softer during the preheat time.
  2. Mix all of your canned ingredients together in a medium bowl for the pie filling.
  3. Take your filling and pile it all into one of the pie crusts.
  4. Take your second pie crust and lay it crust side down on top of the other pie crust (see picture below to get an idea of what it looks like).
  5. Take your fingers and press down on the aluminum pie pan of the second pie crust and then ease the edges of the pie pan up, pulling it away from the crust.  This crust flattens on top of the bottom crust during the cooking process.
  6. Gently pull the pie pan off of the 2nd pie crust.
  7. Cover the edges of your pie crust with foil to prevent from burning.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is nice and golden brown.
  9. Let sit for about 5 minutes and then EAT!

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The filling itself is worth devouring.

IMG_0096Drool!

IMG_0097IMG_0098A dome full of goodness.

IMG_0101The best part! ;)

What is your favorite winter food? :)