5 Gifts Your Valentine Really Wants

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and I’m taking all of the stress out of finding the perfect giftfor your loved one just in time for the weekend! I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that for me, Valentine’s Day is about all of the chill things.

No need to make a big fuss or an impossible dinner reservation (we’ll be cooking up these scallops with porcini risotto again). The goal is to use this day to relax at home and indulge a little bit (macarons, anyone?) and these five gifts will help you and your significant other do just that!

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Joy Macarons’ Be My Valentine Gift Boxes make the perfect dessert! (photo: @JoyMacarons on Instagram)

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Blondies

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! I’m coming to you live from I-35, and our car is full of these delicious snickerdoodle blondie brownies for our families. I highly recommend you consider making these treats as a pre-Christmas activity! You won’t regret it.

Blondies

YUM!

This recipe is from What’s Gaby Cooking, and as soon as I saw it, I knew we would have to make these for Christmas. They’re cinnamon-y, sugary, and they don’t require a ton of ingredients. In fact, for the first time ever, I only had to pick up one ingredient to bake something (eggs)! That is a major win.

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10 Last Minute Gifts to Buy 10 Days Before Christmas

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but let’s not kid ourselves by saying it’s stress free. Every year, I tell myself I will start Christmas shopping earlier. Every year, I tell myself I will avoid the mall and buy all of my gifts online. And every year, I inevitably end up at the mall with all of the holiday shoppers asking myself where things went wrong.

So to help you out this holiday season, here are 10 items that you can easily write down, pick up (or ship – Hi, Amazon) just in time for Christmas. There’s something on this list for everyone – your foodie friend, your man friend, your friend that really loves pizza. Links below for easy shopping!

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Spicy_shrimp_tacos

Spicy Shrimp Tacos for Cinco de Mayo

Is there a better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than with tacos and margaritas? I think not.

Also, I’m loving that two of my recent posts include “spicy” in the title.  My true essence.

This year, we’re celebrating with Pinch of Yum’s spicy shrimp tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. I meal prepped three different sauces on Sunday, and realized that each was green. Obviously I love my avocados and cilantro. And I looooove my garlic too. Thankfully, so does Hunter or he would have a hard time eating anything I cook for him. This garlic cilantro lime sauce is the kind of sauce that could really go with anything and everything…salads, fish, quesadillas, burgers, etc., so if you like the ingredients in its name, keep it nearby at all times.

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Cheers!

It’s important to note that these tacos have a delicious slaw. So basically, they are a salad. But in all honesty, if you did want to cut down on carbs, you could easily put these in lettuce wraps and they would be just as delicious. I’m a big fan of wrapping my food in romaine. It would also help offset the necessary fresh guac and cold bev that must be served alongside this entree.

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scallops and risotto

Valentine’s Dinner Recap: Scallops with Porcini Risotto

Valentine’s Day is all about love, and I love risotto. Scallops are Hunter’s favorite seafood. Therefore, this meal is everything.

Our Valentine’s Day tradition is simple. We stay in, I make a fabulous meal! I made this exact same meal for our anniversary dinner last year. Hunter loved it so much, he asked for it again. It was my first attempt at risotto, and my first attempt at scallops. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that neither was very difficult to prepare (yay! More time to eat!)

This year, the holiday fell on a Sunday, so I had nothing but time. I did hit a quick Zyn22 class in the morning to prepare for the Valentine’s eats. Could be my fave new cycling studio! A quick trip to the grocery store, a few minutes of prep, and lots of risotto stirring later, voila! These recipes always seem to get better the second time around.

This recipe was developed by Paul Palop and can be found on That Other Cooking Blog. I’ve adapted it just a little. An easy shortcut is to buy the arborio rice with porcinis already mixed in – I used a brand called Manitou, which I picked up at Central Market (they had no porcinis, or at least no porcinis that I could find.)

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skin smoothie and Rodan + Fields

Give your Skin Some Love this Valentine’s Day + Giveaway from Rodan + Fields

One of my favorite things to do on Valentine’s Day (or any holiday, for that matter) is treat myself.

Spending some time lounging in a facial mask and using products that make my skin feel healthy and hydrated usually does the trick. I’m also a firm believer in the fact that the foods you eat make an impact on not only how good you feel, but how good you look. Needless to say, the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday I was looking and feeling pretty rough. This Valentine’s Day, treat yo’self and spend some time taking care of number one.

My dear friend Deanne with Rodan + Fields sent me a “Glow on the Go” mini facial kit to try out, and is offering each reader who takes the Solution Tool Quiz the same thing (plus, one lucky winner will get an eye cream!) Keep reading for my feedback on the products, more info on how to get your free mini facial, AND a skin glow smoothie recipe.

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Ringing in 2016 with Cheese Boards and Black-Eyed Peas

Happy New Year friends!

Hope you all celebrated 2016 as enthusiastically as I did! Currently detoxing with Roots Pressed Juices’ Hydrate situation – cucumber, lime, mint, apple and ginger. Bottoms up!

This year (Technically last year, we’ll say Thursday night) we hosted a few friends for New Year’s Eve, so I decided to do the right thing and put together a cheese board. Now, to preface the situation, you should know that I have an extreme cheese board obsession. I love all cheeses, old, blue, sharp, soft…etc. etc. so cheese boards hold a special place in my heart. I’ll need to post a roundup of my favorites in Dallas, as I have tried many a local platter of this delightful dairy product. I digress.

MichaelScott

Now on New Year’s Day, we eat black-eyed peas. I can’t speak to whether or not these actually bring good luck, but as Michael Scott once said, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” Last year I kept it simple and made the peas with some roasted cabbage steaks. While that was pretty tasty, this year I decided we needed a little more substance to our meal. I came across The Young Austinian’s recipe for Hoppin’ John Bowls, Collards and Cornbread Biscotti. It looked super hearty and seemed to be just what we were needing after a night out, so I put my own spin on it using Benevolent Bacon.

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Last Minute Holiday Stocking Stuffers

I love shopping for any reason, but this time of year allows me to really let my retail prowess shine.

The art of gift giving is multifaceted and includes many steps. To name a few:

  1. Purchase gift perfectly suited to recipient’s tastes and personality. This part is arguably the most enjoyable…feel free to snag a few items for yourself too, especially if you went to the mall because you deserve a reward.
  2. Wrap said gift in your choice of fabulous seasonal paper, ribbon, etc.  (I’m coming for you Container Store Gift Wrap Wonderland.) If your place of residence doesn’t begin to look like Santa’s Workshop during the weeks leading up to Christmas, you’re doing it wrong.
  3. Generate excitement from recipient by bringing up gift as much as possible (obviously you want the recipient to be as excited as you are that you’ve found the perfect gift for their lifestyle.) Hopefully they got you something amazing too but that really isn’t what this is all about.
  4. Pour yourself a glass of mulled wine and watch your friends and family delight at the thought, care and excellent wrapping craftsmanship you’ve put into gift giving this year.

However, when we find ourselves at this point in the holiday season, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to spend at the mall or elsewhere making dreams come true. That’s why I’ve compiled this handy guide of last minute holiday stocking stuffers – or should I say stocking stars…

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CultureMap Holiday Pop-up Shop Favorites

Even with allergies in full effect, there’s one holiday shopping tradition in Dallas that I simply refused to miss out on.

While some enjoy the crowds at NorthPark and the Galleria (and I too will undoubtedly join the masses in crossing off the finishing touches on my Christmas list in the upcoming weeks) the CultureMap Holiday Pop-up Shop provides an ideal one stop shop for local gift giving, complete with prosecco, valet, sweet treats and a wrapping station to round out the experience.

Neighborhood, Jack Mason, Bullzerk, Celebrity Cafe & BakeryJoy Macarons and Dallas Museum of Art are just a few of the vendors that showcased their curated holiday gift selections to eager shoppers on December 6. Pictures with Santa were also available on-site, although I couldn’t convince Hunter to participate in that particular tradition (maybe next year…)

Here are just a few of my favorites:

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