Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Neighborly Love (& Peanut Butter Cookies!) For Valentine's Day

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SendingMyLove #CollectiveBias

Valentine’s Day is more than a romantic celebration, it's about sharing a little bit of love with everyone in your life.  Friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers want to hear they're loved on this special day!  Cards are an easy way to share a message of romantic, humorous, or playful love, and who doesn't want a little something sweet to go with it?!

This year, I decided to gift my neighbors American Greetings Valentine's Day cards, packaged with homemade heart-shaped peanut butter cookies.  These care packages are easy to bake, assemble, and gift!
The first step for the gift packages is to make the dough for these deliciously soft peanut butter cookies.

- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 sticks butter (at room temperature)
- 1 cup white sugar (separated into two 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
3. Cream together peanut butter, butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar in a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer. 
4. Add egg and vanilla, and continue to mix until smooth.  
5. Stir in flour mixture and mix until well combined.  
How to make the heart-shaped dough:
1. Scoop a heaping 1/2 tablespoon of dough.
2. Roll the dough into 3 equal balls.
3. Place the dough together into the shape of a triangle and smooth the edges to form a heart.
4. Roll the heart in granulated sugar.
5. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and use a fork to flatten each cookie.
Bake the cookies in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until edges are slightly darker brown.
Once they are cooled, the final step is to package these cookies into adorable mini gift bags from American Greetings at Walmart.  In addition to American Greetings' individual cards for every special person in your life, Walmart also sells packaged cards that were perfect for my neighbor gifts!  I closed each package with a cute heart sticker and loaded all the cookies and cards into a gift bag to deliver.
No matter who you're shopping for (I bought cards to give to Mike and send to our parents and his grandma), American Greetings at Walmart has you covered.  I just love this time of year and everything that's pink, red, and heart-shaped!  Use this Walmart Ibotta Offer to earn $1.00 when you buy any one card.

You can also enter the #SendingMyLove #Sweepstakes to win a $100 Walmart e-gift card by clicking here.  The contest ends 2/13/18, and here are all the official rules.
If you're looking for even more ways to share the love this Valentine's Day, click here to browse through other bloggers' fun DIYs!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

One-Pan Teriyaki Salmon

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Conagra Brands. All opinions are mine alone. #YouPAMDoIt #PAMInControl #CollectiveBias

New year, new recipes!  Who else is looking to rid their favorite meals from added fat and calories?  Not only am I in search of new meals for dinner, but I've also attempted meal prepping for the first time.  Sheet pan dinners are absolutely perfect for this.  My goal is to bring my lunch to work four days each week, and one of my favorite one-pan meal ingredients is salmon.  It's so easy to bake and cooks so quickly.  My little secret in the kitchen for creating these delicious sheet pan meals in minutes is NEW PAM® Spray Pump Olive Oil.  It's the best for non-stick cooking and has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
The first step in creating this delicious meal is the homemade teriyaki sauce.  Like with the PAM® Spray Pump Olive Oil, I love knowing exactly what is going into my meal, and this sauce is so delicious!

- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon honey (or corn syrup for babies under 1 year)
- 2 teaspoons sriracha
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water

1. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, honey, and sriracha in a small pan.
2. Heat the ingredients over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture starts to boil.
3. Combine cornstarch and water together in a separate small dish, and once the sauce is bubbling, whisk the cornstarch slurry into the sauce.
4. Continue to whisk for 2-3 more minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken.
5. Take the sauce off the heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once you have made the sauce, the rest of the recipe is so easy, and only requires a few ingredients.  For these sheet pan dinners, you can really use any protein and vegetables you like - so versatile!
- PAM® Spray Pump Olive Oil
- 1 lb salmon
- 12 oz green beans
- 10 oz baby carrots (sliced in half)
- salt and pepper
- homemade teriyaki sauce
- chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds (for garnishing)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray a sheet pan with PAM® Spray Pump Olive Oil (about 5-6 pumps).
3. Arrange the salmon, green beans, and carrots on the tray.
4. Spray the vegetables a few more times with the PAM® Spray Pump Olive Oil.
5. Sprinkle the fish and vegetables with salt and pepper
6. Spoon teriyaki sauce onto the salmon.
7. Bake the sheet pan dinner in the oven for 15 minutes.
8. Garnish the salmon with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
Seriously, how delicious does this look?  I love teriyaki salmon as a dinner right away or spread across 4 containers for a whole week of lunches.  Looking to make your own delicious one-pan meal?  Earn $1 when you buy one (1) PAM Spray Pump Olive Oil or Canola Oil, while supplies last by clicking here.  You can purchase all the ingredients above, including PAM Spray Pump Olive Oil at Walmart.
Do you have a favorite one-pan dinner?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Weekending in Columbia

Happy Monday, friends!  Let's jump into it!  On Saturday, we headed up to Columbia with our friends to watch their team, Tennessee, face South Carolina. We love college basketball, but not really either team. However, when they mentioned going to the zoo before, oh yeah, I'm in!

The night before, I made these amazing cookies.  I started reading Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and I saw these on the author's IG.  They definitely lived up to expectations, though I need to be less worried about over-cooking next time.
We were so excited to finally go to Chesson's zoo. I absolutely love zoos, and this one was the perfect afternoon adventure. It wasn't as big as Cleveland or DC, but I loved how close you can get to the animals.
On Sunday, we decided on deep fryer day for football. We had friends over and made fried ravioli, arancini, corn dogs, popcorn shrimp, and Oreos. Yum. When we lived in Connecticut, it was always had it on our counter top, filled with oil, so I've definitely missed it. Plus, it was the perfect day to spend time outside AND the Eagles won!!!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Five Resolutions for a New Year

I swear, I had these written before New Year's, and hard to believe, but so-far-so-good for the first 3 weeks!  I love wiping the slate clean each January to reset and make the most of a new year.  A lot of these goals will look familiar from previous years (here was 2017), but after being mildly successful last year, I thought I'd take the reasons why the resolutions didn't work and try to be more specific to make it happen in 2018:

1. Eat Better: Year after year, I make a vague resolution for myself, but it's hard to follow through because I'm not specific.  So, obviously it fails.  Here are my thoughts for 2018 to eat better and improve my metabolism: drink hot water and lemon every morning, eat a protein-filled breakfast everyday (egg whites), drink a cup of tea (without sugar) each day, drink a glass of cold water a half hour before lunch and dinner, pack my lunch 4 days a week (aimlessly walking around Whole Foods everyday is my biggest problem), and don't eat after 9pm.

2. Use Untappd: Mike and a few of our friends have this beer app, and it looks like so much fun.  This one started out as a joke, but now I want to do it.  I'm megd_taylor if you use it and want to be friends!
3. 10 Miles Per Week: Here's another one (like #1) that's been rough in the past: working out.  Instead of saying I'll work out each day or every other day, how about I put a concrete number on it?  This way, I can get everything done in a couple days or spread it out throughout the week.  Let's see!

4. Answer texts when I get them: OMG my downfall.  I can't be the only one who elaborately thinks up replies in her head but never actually writes them?  I really want to do better at this in the new year!

5. Learn my new camera: Our Christmas present to each other this year was a new camera.  I can't wait to learn more about it, and simply reading the manual (who'd have thought?!) has taught me things I didn't even know my old camera could do.  I had fun with it over Christmas (a few photos here) but am still struggling with motion and dark shots (see examples below).  If anyone has a good online class or YouTube videos for a Canon 80D, I'd love to watch them!
What are your goals for 2018?

Linking up for Oh hey, Friday, Five on Friday, High Five for Friday, and two doses of Friday Favorites

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Charleston Eats: Queen Street Grocery

Imagine a cute little corner store, selling a fantastic array of local products, produce, and beer, and also cooking up sweet and savory comfort food; this is Queen Street Grocery.  Just north of one of my favorite Charleston strolls, off the beaten path, in a cute residential area, Queen Street Grocery is super laid back and not too touristy.
They offer breakfast all day (omelettes, smoothies, sandwiches) and everything is fresh and made to order.  Charleston is definitely known for its comfort food, and what I love about Queen Street is that anything you order tastes just as comforting as any other Lowcountry favorite, but you can feel good about what's going in your body.  Everything is so fresh and light: salads, crêpes, and hot-pressed sandwiches.  My favorites are definitely the Murray crêpe (turkey, brie, green apple, spinach, basil pesto, and sriracha), Hail Caesar salad, and don't forget a sweet banana, brown butter, and brown sugar (the Johns Island) crêpe for dessert! 
While you wait or after you eat, don't forget to head to the back for "Groceries and Specialty Beers."  They also have an array of wine and non-alcoholic beverages to bring home.  
Now I'm dreaming of sitting outside at Queen Street for lunch - yum!

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