recent fun finds

Time for another fun finds round up!

I find so many new things all the time and always forget to take pictures and post them here for you guys – but not this time!

1. One of my new favorite things? Blue Apron. I know there are a few companies doing something similar, but I LOVE this idea. I had the chance to try Blue Apron out last year – right after we got back from vacation (which SAVED me that week) – and it’s so much fun!

Blue Apron basically does all the prep work for you, leaving just the cooking to you. They come up with recipes, shop for the ingredients, measure everything out, and then ship it to your doorstep.

blue apron meal kit

It’s even better (and easier) than going grocery shopping because once you open the box, you have all the ingredients you need for 3-4 meals AND everything is measured for you so there’s no prep work at all! I don’t think I would do this every week, just because I like coming up with new recipes on my own, but I could get hooked on this pretty easily. Especially during really busy times – it would be so nice to have a box of food show up and be set for meals for a couple of days.

blue apron meal kit

One of my favorite recipes from the box we tried was this Cod with Pickled Grapes and Summer Succotash. Every part of it was delicious, but those pickled grapes? I want them on everything.

And bonus for you guys! Blue Apron is offering up 30% off for anyone that wants to try them out! I think I’m going to order another box soon, too. If you try it, let me know how you like it!

2. Have you heard about upwave’s 2014 Health Madness? It’s like the health buzzword version of March Madness (perfect for foodies who aren’t that into basketball)!

upwave is pitting the hottest health trends of 2014 against each other in a winner-take-all contest called #HealthMadness. They’ll be tallying the Twitter mentions racked up by each buzzword in their bracket. The competitors that receive the most “votes” on Twitter will advance to the next round. The semi-finals run March 31 – April 2, with a finally winner crowned on April 7.

upwave health madness bracket

upwave is the first personalized health and wellness site of its kind, connecting the dots for users with individually tailored content linked to five core pillars: eat, move, relax, thrive and connect. They also have tools for healthy living including informational articles, recipes, videos, challenges and customizable user profiles. I’ve been poking around on the site the past couple of weeks, and it’s pretty cool! I like that it’s a different twist than most health-related websites.

Make sure to toss in your votes in the #HealthMadness brackets on Twitter and check them out on Facebook!

3. I’ve been going simpler with meals lately (and am actually about to start the Conscious Cleanse this week!), and we’ve had some great dinners over the past couple of weeks.

I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it once I’m done. I have a few friends that have done it – and loved it – so I’m excited to get going.

4. And oh.my.gosh – my newest obsession. Have you seen the Jimmy Fallon Hashtags he does every week on twitter?! Go watch the Worst Advice one right now. And then just keep watching. So hilarious. Mom Texts? Awkward Breakups? You won’t be sorry.

What about you? Any new things you’ve found lately? Good books you’ve read? Movies to watch? Spill it!

Nestle prize pack giveaway!

Who’s ready to do some baking?

I don’t know about you, but this winter-doesn’t-seem-to-be-leaving weather we’re having is making me angry. BUT, it’s also keeping me in the kitchen, so I guess I can’t complain too much. I’ve got some new recipes coming your way soon!

I mean…what else are you supposed to do on a snowy afternoon except make homemade brownies? That’s a no brainer.

And lucky for you guys, I’ve got a great prize pack full of Nestle items up for grabs!

Nestle prize pack

One lucky person will win this jam-packed pack, all ready to stock your pantry!

  • Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Baking Kit (a new product!)
  • Skinny Cow Dark Chocolate Dreamy Clusters
  • Assortment of Perugina premium chocolate bars
  • Assortment of Nestle Toll House morsels
  • Nestle Toll House Baking Cocoa
  • Dark Chocolate Raisinets
  • Butterfinger Bites
  • Assortment of Carnation evaporated milks
  • Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • Abuelita Chocolate
  • La Lechera Dulce de Leche
  • La Lechera Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups
  • Wonka Laffy Taffy Jelly Beans (Laffy Taffy jelly beans?! I’m freaking out about these a little bit)

Fun fact: One of my favorite candy bars of all time is the Nestle Crunch. I don’t know what it is about those bars, but I love ‘em! I’m a sucker for candy bars with the names on the chocolate. Plus, creamy milk chocolate + crispies? One of the best combinations ever.

Since this is such a fun prize pack, we’ll make these giveaway entries fun (and easy), too!

To Enter:

Tell me your favorite candy bar!

For an extra entry:

Tell me the first thing you would make if you won this giveaway.

Good luck!!

Contest open to U.S. residents. Nestle is providing the prize pack.

Sriracha, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich

I know the trip was over 5 months ago, but I still can’t stop thinking about Montreal.

sriracha egg and cheese sandwich

I completely, head-over-heels, starry-eyed-on-cloud-nine fell in love with the city. Mostly Old Montreal. Old Montreal was like a little European city, just a few hours from LaGuardia.

montreal

There were cobblestone streets, incredible cathedrals, and you heard French everywhere. I wanted to stay. Honestly, I just wanted to put a cot in the corner of Olive et Gourmando and live there, but I’m not sure they’d let me. Although, I’m really good at making cookies AND washing dishes, so who knows. Maybe we could make a deal.

After talking up this little café with my last Montreal-inspired recipe, you’re getting it again.

sriracha egg and cheese sandwich

So the ricotta I recreated was my choice for breakfast there that day. But Nick got this spicy egg sandwich that blew every other breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had out of the water. It was that good.

I can’t believe I haven’t really shared these pancakes before. I love them! They’re one of my very favorite breakfasts for a few reasons:

  1. They are super easy
  2. You can prep them the night before and they only take a few minutes to cook
  3. They’re so healthy!
  4. I can top them with just about anything.

single serving oatmeal pancake

I’ve gone sweet with these and savory. If you’ve never had an over easy egg on your pancakes with some maple syrup….you are seriously missing out. Or eggs with salsa and avocado on pancakes? Yum. I know it sounds crazy, but don’t knock ‘til you try it.

These pancakes are oat-based and it’s a single serving recipe, so it’s perfect for weekday mornings or weekends when you don’t want to make a huge batch of them at one time. I do like having extras to freeze, but there are days when I don’t want to stand over the skillet for 30 minutes flipping pancakes.

This recipe is for those days. Lazy days. Every day?

single serving oatmeal pancake

And the best thing – you only need 3 ingredients for the pancake itself (3!) and then you’re kind of required to have greek yogurt for topping (my favorite on these), plus fruit or peanut butter or nutella or whatever floats your boat that morning.

I topped this one with some plain Stonyfield greek yogurt, raspberries, and figs (best. combo. ever), and a drizzle of honey.

single serving oatmeal pancake

Single Serving Oatmeal Pancake

Ready for your new favorite breakfast? I've got it right here. This takes minutes to make, and to save even more time, you can mix up the ingredients the night before, leaving just a few minutes of cooking time for you in the morning.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oats
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Mix the oats, egg whites, baking powder, and salt together. You can also add cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla, or any other spices/flavorings that you like at this point.
  2. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to thicken from the baking powder.
  3. While the batter is resting, heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking oil, then pour the batter into the skillet, spreading out evenly with a spoon.
  4. Cook over medium heat 4-6 minutes on the first side until the bottom is set and beginning to turn golden. Flip the entire pancake over with a spatula and cook another 3-4 minutes on the other side.
  5. Slide onto plate and top with greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, peanut butter…whatever you want!

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received product for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.

Pasta saves me at least one night a week. When I want dinner on the table fast, or when I forget to take something out to thaw that morning before work, having pasta waiting in the pantry is a saving grace.

Pasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes, and Feta

But I also tend to fall into ruts when it comes to pasta, making the same sauce almost every time. So lately, I’ve been trying to make myself try new combos. Homemade cream sauces. Asian and Thai inspired flavors.

And instead of buying the usual suspects at the store, I’ve been finding new things like these incredible citrus-stuffed olives that I’m obsessed with and our homemade pesto (that I completely forgot I had in the freezer).

Pasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes, and Feta

This mix is one of my favorite flavor combos, and I’ve done something similar with couscous before but hadn’t tried it with pasta. Until this week!

I love anything with feta, so I knew this would be a hit. And even with only half a box of pasta, this made enough for a dinner and a couple of lunches this week, leaving me less work to figure out what to pack for the day.

Pasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes, and Feta

The best part? This pasta takes less than 30 minutes AND it’s delicious and good for you! You wouldn’t think that something as easy as pasta with white beans, zucchini, tomatoes, feta, and olive oil would be this tasty…but it is.

And Dreamfields – our favorite pasta – is offering up an entire case of pasta for one of you! Yup – a whole case of pasta. Now that’s a way to stock your pantry!

To enter:

Tell me your favorite pasta dish.

For extra entries:

Tweet about the giveaway and let me know you did

Like Dreamfields on Facebook

Like BranAppetit on Facebook

Good luck!!

Pasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes, and Feta

This stovetop pasta dish is one of the easiest - and satisfying meals - ever! It's full of flavor, but light on ingredients, so it won't take all of your time or pantry to pull this together. Want even more flavor? I love adding good olives to this or cooked chicken for even more protein.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. Dreamfields rotini
  • 1/3 cup +1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
  • ½ cup roasted tomatoes or sundried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 1 12 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp olive oil to the pan and add the sliced zucchini. Cook - not stirring – for 4-5 minutes on one side until the zucchini begins to brown. Stir the zucchini and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the zucchini is cooked.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a palmful of salt and stir in pasta, returning to a boil. Cook the pasta over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8-9 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and beans to the pan with the zucchini. Cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes until everything is warmed through.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return it to the pot. Add the zucchini mixture to the pasta and toss together with the 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Let the pasta cool for about 5 minutes, then stir in the crumbled feta cheese. Serve warm or chilled.

This contest is open to U.S. residents only. I will choose the winner a week from today. Dreamfields sponsored this post and is offering the case of pasta for the giveaway – all recipes and opinions are my own.

Red Star Yeast giveaway

It’s no secret that we love bread around here. Besides croissants, I really don’t think there’s anything that can beat the smell of fresh bread, baking away in the oven.

pumpkin spice bread

To be honest…baking – especially bread – was the thing that scared me the most when I first started learning to cook. There’s just something terrifying about the first time you use yeast in the kitchen.

But there’s no reason to be scared! I’ve had lots of flops – and most of them still tasted fine.

They weren’t the prettiest things to ever come out of the kitchen, but homemade bread is still homemade bread. Ugly doesn’t make it taste bad.

bread

I only use Red Star Yeast at home, and after trying their Platinum line last year, I haven’t looked back. As long as you have a good recipe and good yeast to work with, you’ll have incredible baked goods coming out of your oven – trust me!

So, to help spread the bread-baking love to you guys, Red Star Yeast is offering up a prize pack to get you baking.

red star yeast prize pack

The winner will get:

  • Dough whisk
  • Apron
  • Lots of Red Star Yeast to stock your pantry
  • Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day cookbook (one of my very favorites!)
  • Oven Mitt

Good luck!! And happy baking :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. Red Star is providing the prize pack for this giveaway.