foodie fridays

With Superbowl this weekend, there are bound to be a few parties. At those parties are beer, chicken wings, and pizza. YUM! Why not take something just as savory and more waist-friendly along to the party? Surprise your friends and family by telling them it's on the healthy side!

How about this Caramelized Onion, Gruyère, and Bacon Spread from Cooking Light. Spread it on some whole wheat crackers or whole wheat slices of bread. Mmm mm gooood!

  • 3 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded and divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
  • 1/3 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled 
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan lightly with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
3. Reserve 2 tablespoons cheese. Combine remaining cheese, caramelized onion, 1 tablespoon chives, and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer the mixture to a 1-quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with reserved 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon chives.



what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Nugget snuggles
Our pup has become more and more snuggly with age. I love it!
2. Perfect Foods Bar
This is a delicious and healthy bar that is extremely satisfying and filling.

3. Date night
I think this is the one night a week I always look forward to. A time to relax and unwind with Fiance.


green shakes

This is my go-to smoothie right now. I have one for breakfast and lunch (I have snacks in between too). It's packed with protein and nutrients. Spinach, frozen tropical fruit, almond milk, and vanilla protein powder is all you need. I store them in jars and place them in the freezer. I pull them out the night before I need them. Easy and ready-to-go. Doesn't get much better or tastier than that.

Since I fell off the health bandwagon for the past couple weeks (helloooo, pizza and chinese food), this is the perfect way to get back on track and slim down that tummy of mine.


prettiest woman in the world

This woman is my hero. Taking labels and judgments and smashing them into a million non-important pieces. Knowing who she is and having that define her, no matter the odds and not matter the circumstances. Bless her.
Lizzie Velasquez


bridesmaid invites

Picking bridesmaids was easy. They are women who are so special to me and have brought so much light into my life. I knew I had to ask them in a special way...and I was itching to get my craft on.

I used:
Cigar boxes
Wood Stain
Burlap lace ribbon
Wood letters
Hot glue gun
Acrylic paint
Letter stickers
Photo paper
Paper stuffing
Little bag (filled with nail polish, eyelashes, and eyeshadow)

I stained the outside and inside of the boxes a weathered grey color. After letting that dry, I painted a design on the inside of the box with ivory acrylic paint. I painted the wooden letters with the same ivory acrylic paint. After the design dried on the inside of the box, I stuck the sticker letters on to spell, "Will you be my bridesmaid?" or "Be my matron of honor?" On the outside, I measure and cut ribbon and hot glued to the top of the box. I hot glued the wooden letters on top of the ribbon.

A lot of you on Instagram have asked about what I put inside the boxes. For the contents, I stuffed it with paper stuffing, the bag of beauty products, chocolates, pictures of my "vision" of the wedding, including bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the decor. I also printed out text on cardstock that included: all the bridesmaids and a little about them, along with their contact info, where to buy their dresses, their role as a bridesmaid, and details about the wedding.

I wanted to make the boxes personalized and fit in with the decor of the wedding. They were pretty easy to put together, and it was really fun. They are a special way to ask your friends to be a part of your special day.


what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. New nephew
My future sister-in-law gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and he's perfect.

2. Celebrating
My best friends came over to celebrate the big engagement. They dressed me up, we played games, ate pizza, and drank wine.
3. Art
My talented friend, Caroline Augusta, sent us this awesome print. Go check her out!


new goal

I'm tired of setting goals that don't mean anything to me anymore. Maybe I lost the drive for certain things, like six pack abs or slimmer thighs. Or maybe I just embraced my body and who I am. I realize now that these things don't validate me or bring much meaning to my life. What validates me is knowing I am active because I enjoy it, not because I have to burn calories. Knowing I have a healthy relationship with food, in all forms and can enjoy it without guilt. Knowing how far I've come and letting that be enough, rather than living up to impossible standards and constantly chasing after them. My goal is to just be a better me, not to have a perfect body.


lessons are blessings

It's a funny thing, life is. While I haven't gone through as much as others have, it doesn't mean my life hasn't had its lessons. I tend to feel irritated by those who play the "woe is me" card with phrases such as, "If only you knew" or "Your life is easy compared to mine." We all have our own battles and struggles day-to-day. Some may be more severe than others, but hell, they're all battles.

I tend to go with the glass is half full outlook. This doesn't mean I shoot rainbows out of my ass, but I do try to find the good in every situation. Maybe that's oddly annoying to some, but there could be worse traits.

In the past few years I've had a few things thrown at me. Struggling to find a career after graduating with my bachelor's degree. Developing an unhealthy eating and exercise disorder. Losing everyone who I thought were my "true" friends after making a decision to follow my heart. I felt like a failure. I didn't understand any of it or why it was happening to me.

Looking back now, those experiences were necessary. They were given to me because the universe knew I was strong enough to handle it, and because I needed a drastic change to my life. When you hit a low point, the only place to go is up. So, I brushed myself off. I went back to school to have a better opportunity to a career. I received my Master's in two years and am in my second year of teaching preschool. I decided to take back my mental and physical health, and begin the recovery process from my disorder. Along the way, I began sharing my experiences and helping others. I found women with similar interests and goals and hearts as me. They've become my best friends in my new life.

Life is what you make of it. You can choose to let it bury you and be depressed, or you can choose to dig yourself out and create a newer, stronger you. So yes, I believe in being happy and positive and turning the bad into good. I've had my battles, but I came out a damn good fighter.


foodie fridays

Casseroles have become my new favorite thing to cook and eat. They're easy and packed full of flavor. You can basically throw in whatever you want into a baking dish and bake it. That sounds perfect for me after a long day of work.

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onion, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup salsa verde
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeño pepper
  • 9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side. Place skillet in oven; bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 15 minutes. Remove meat from bones; shred. Discard bones. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, corn, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) to chicken; toss to combine.
3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onion; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 garlic cloves; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to chicken mixture; stir to combine.
4. Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups onion, remaining 3 garlic cloves, broth, salsa, 1/4 cup water, and jalapeño in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Carefully pour mixture into a blender; add 2 tablespoons cilantro. Process until smooth.
5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tortillas; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove tortillas from pan; repeat procedure with remaining tortillas. Cut tortillas into quarters.
6. Spread 1/2 cup salsa mixture in the bottom of an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 12 tortilla quarters over salsa mixture. Spoon half of chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Pour remaining salsa mixture over tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Top with remaining cilantro.


what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Our wedding date
Fiance wrote our wedding date in the sand in Sydney, Australia. He's so sweet.

2. Wedding Expo
Mama and I had so much fun at the bridal expo this past weekend. We met plenty of vendors, and booked a lot of them for the wedding!
3. Gym
It feels great to be getting my workout on again!


you have the power

Too many opportunities are wasted on being spiteful. Take those opportunities to love, even if there are those who don't deserve it. Do it anyway. Everyone has their own battles. Wish well upon them and keep your heart full.

I just want my heart to keep on growing. There's too much happiness in my life to wish anything but well for others. I feel a lo lighter when I am not carrying around so much spite and so many grudges. It takes practice to let go of that weight, but it becomes easier with practice. When you let go of the bad feelings, there is more room for all the blessings in life.


what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Boo Tea
I'm loving this detox tea. It's delicious and perfect for after the holidays.
2. Friendship
It was great to see friends and family at my future sis-in-law's baby shower!
3. Pozole
We feasted on my mama's pozole and tamales this past Sunday. YUM!


violet love headbands

I've teamed up with Violet Love to offer you 20% off your entire order.
Use the coupon code: shineorset20 at checkout.

These headbands are so comfortable. I don't get a headache and they don't slip off my head. I wear them when I workout, when I go out, or when I'm relaxing at home. You can style them any way you want, and they come in awesome colors and patterns. They are a great accessory for the gym because I know you've all made your workout resolutions for the new year!


foodie fridays

Tomato-Baby Bell Pepper Tartlets. How yummy does that sound? I love easy recipes that pack a lot of flavor and have that delicious crisp texture. These would be great to serve as an appetizer at a party or with salad.

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced 
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Unfold dough; place on a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Roll gently into a 10 x 9–inch rectangle. Cut dough into 20 (2 1/4 x 2–inch) rectangles. Score each rectangle about 1/8-inch from edge. Prick each dough piece liberally with a fork. Arrange dough pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; chill 10 minutes.
3. Combine cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic, stirring well. Spread a scant 1/2 teaspoon cheese mixture over each dough piece. Top each tartlet with about 2 tomato slices and 2 bell pepper rings. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until dough is lightly browned. Remove from oven, and sprinkle evenly with thyme.


vacation recap

The vacation I took with Boyfriend-turned-fiance was so wonderful. I can't even believe we were just cruising the Bahamas and riding roller coasters in Disneyworld. We certainly were blessed to take such a memorable trip. We worked hard and saved up to make it perfect, and it was. Here are some snapshots.

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