Eat. Drink. Love.

The Big Traveling Potluck

The Big Traveling Potluck House view 1

I want to start this post off by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post. I was not asked to write this and I was not paid to write it.

A lot of non-bloggers don’t realize how much work and dedication must go into a blog. I spend a lot of time on this blog. I do it because I love it, but it is a lot of work. My evenings are always filled with editing photos or writing posts My weekends are always packed with cooking and photographing. Owning a blog is very much a business and it requires a lot of dedication in order to be successful. I mostly blog for myself. I love cooking and creating new recipes. My skills in the kitchen have really grown over the past 3 years and I have grown to love food photography, something I never thought I would say! I would be totally lying though if I said that I only blogged for my own enjoyment. I also blog because of you, my readers. Your support means so much and I love to create new recipes for you!

The problem with blogging for others and as a business is that it comes with added pressures and stress. There are days where I just have a hard time thinking of good recipes or when a recipe doesn’t turn out. There are days that I have no idea what to write. I have days where I feel totally overwhelmed by the “business” side of blogging such as keeping up with social media. And then I have days where I am just too exhausted to do any of it. Period. Blogging has a lot of ups and downs and feeling burned out can be really frustrating. I have kind of been feeling that way recently and was really looking forward to a weekend away with some amazing and talented food bloggers to get me feeling inspired again.

Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce wraps have totally been my jam for the last few months. I’ll make a batch on a Sunday and portion them out to bring to work for lunch during the week and it’s the best lunch ever. Though I could eat them for dinner just fine, my sweet husband wouldn’t love that because of you know, the lettuce, so I bring them for lunch instead.

When I bring a really good lunch to work with me, I not tempted to say things like, “oh, my lunch is not very exciting, I’ll just go out and get something.”

Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

So, you’ve got ground chicken breast cooked with onions, red and yellow bell peppers, and green onions. All good things.

Oh, and did I mention peanut sauce? No? Well, there is peanut sauce and it’s so good, I could just eat it with a spoon. It adds such rich flavor to these wraps. AND THEN, I topped them with chopped peanuts for added crunch and texture and fresh cilantro. So much yum happening here.

If you are serving these as a light lunch or appetizer, I would say the recipe has about 4 servings. If you’ve got hungry peeps to feed, I would say this feeds more like 3 so consider doubling it for a bigger and hungrier crowd. Kind of like Pringles, once you start eating them, it’s hard to stop!

Citrus Avocado Salad

Avocado Citrus Salad

So I accidentally left my phone at work yesterday. I got home and it wasn’t in my purse. And it totally freaked me out. And I was too tired to go all the way back and get it so I left it. And then I spent the next 14 hours without my phone. I totally annoyed my husband with my complaining. I had Candy Crush withdrawal. Oh the tragedy!

Ok, enough about my technology addiction and onto this light and delicious salad.

Who says salads HAVE to be packed with greens? Not this girl. Salads can go so many different ways and this citrus avocado version is a summer favorite for me!

I love the sweet and tangy flavor from the orange paired with the creamy avocado. And then the lemon honey dressing makes it all even better! Nothing beats fresh citrus and perfect avocados this time of year. I would not say that this salad is super sweet despite using the orange and the honey in the dressing. If you are not a fan though, you can certainly omit the honey from the dressing!

I was a little lazy with segmenting my orange because I just wanted to get to the part where I got to eat this lovely little salad!

Citrus Avocado Salad

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Ohmagahhhhhhhhhhh.

These muffins.

They could pass as cupcakes in all honesty. Muffins that could be a cupcake? Um, yeah, sign me up!

My grandma used to make this amazing chocolate zucchini cake studded with gooey chocolate chips. It was so insanely good and then I went and grew up and moved far away and kind of forgot about that amazing cake until about a month ago when I was going over in my head all of the recipes I need to get from her for my personal recipe book.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

But then I started thinking about making that cake, but making it a little healthier and in muffin form. And it works. It totally works. These muffins might be my favorite muffin recipe I’ve made. My banana chocolate chip muffins have been sitting on top of my list for a long time, but these chocolate zucchini muffins might have just knocked them down a peg. The muffins are super…ok, I’m going to say the word that might make you cringe…moist. I said it, but that’s really the best word to describe these. They are also perfectly rich and chocolatey, which makes them seem more like they should be a dessert and not a muffin.

So what else is good about these muffins? There is no butter, just a bit of oil and unsweetened applesauce. They do contain sugar so I would consider them a splurge for breakfast, but I also have been eating them for dessert!

Flashback Friday: Homemade Manicotti

Homemade Manicotti

No matter where they are from, every family has a handful of meals that are considered a tradition and that they always make for special occasions. On they Italian side of my family, manicotti is one of those dishes.

My husband and I are currently working on a special video project for my grandparent’s upcoming 60th wedding anniversary. We’ve been looking at hundreds and hundreds of pictures and I swear, at least 70% of them involve everyone sitting around the table eating homemade Italian food. It’s like, “Oh look, there we all are eating again!” Looking at these pictures has reminded me how much I miss those family dinners. So many of us have moved all over the country now. I miss those big, loud, and obnoxious dinners. Although we may not all live near each other anymore, I am thankful that I have these special recipes to continue making with my own little family!

Homemade Manicotti

We typically reserve homemade manicotti or pasta for holidays or other special occasions since they can be a bit time consuming to make. If you have never tried making homemade manicotti, I have to tell you that you are seriously missing out! The shells are essentially a thin crepe. There is no comparison to the boxed shells. Making your own shells is worth every second because you end up with perfectly delicate and soft shells stuffed with cheesy goodness!

Here’s a shell in the making!

Nibblies

1. It’s been about 10 years since my last Nibblies post. Please forgive me.

Plateau Edge

2. The photo above was my view the entire last weekend. I had the pleasure of attending The Big Traveling Potluck with some really amazing and inspiring bloggers in Temecula, CA. I got to meet some of my favorite bloggers in person and of course, we were well fed :) I’m going to do a whole post on everything this weekend so stay tuned!

3. The Following finale was…just okay? I thought it was sort of boring and predictable. My prediction for next season? Joe Carroll will be asked to be a consultant for future cult investigations and he and Kevin Bacon are going to be “forced” to team up and work together. Mark my word, friends, this is going to happen.

4. My husband and I have been working on a special video project for my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary coming up next month and are having to pick music for each decade of the video. I just want to say, the 90’s were the best. I mean, I already knew this, but I busted out my old CDs and it made me so happy. Alanis, Sugar Ray, Barenaked Ladies, Third Eye Blind, Gangsta’s Paradise. Ugh, SO much good.

5. The temperatures are creeping up here in Phoenix. It’s going to be 100 this weekend. This is the time of the year where I really REALLY hate living here.

6. 24 comes back this Monday. I don’t think one person has ever been so excited about a television show ever. I really just can’t wait. We are going to make Superbowl-type food to celebrate. For real. It’s the little things.

7. I need to start reading books again. What do you guys recommend?

8. It’s entirely possible that I pre-ordered the new Mario Kart game for Wii U coming out at the end of May. It’s possible that we don’t yet even own a Wii U. It’s also entirely possible that we will be buying a Wii U for the sole purpose of playing Mario Kart.