No Fry Sweet Potato Fries

There’s nothing better than enjoying a burger or afternoon with a plate of salty and crunchy fries. We try to stay healthy and order sweet potato fries and even attempted to make them ourselves. However when cooked in the oven the fries tend to get soggy or limp. Then finally on Pinterest we found the perfect sweet potato fry recipe from La Kocinera. By mixing the fries with cornstarch and healthy olive oil the outside of the fries gets nice and crispy. Yum! See below for full recipe details.

No Fry Sweet Potato Fries

  • Servings: 4
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, place aluminum foil on baking sheet, and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Clean and peel sweet potatoes, then cut in half length wise and proceed by cutting into thick rectangular shapes similar to steak fries.
  3. Place half of fries in gallon zip lock back with 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix the fries then add 1 tbsp cornstarch and mix again.
  4. Place fries on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Ensure the fries have enough space between them to ensure they get cripsy.
  5. Bake 15 minutes then flip and bake another 5 – 10 minutes depending on your preference for crispiness. When finished remove from oven and repeat other batch of fries following same steps as before. Enjoy with a side of ketchup!

 

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Kale Salad Made the Right Way

When kale became a trend I was not a fan. Why is it curly, stiff and unappetizing when raw? I thought kale resembled seaweed you’d find in the ocean after a storm. Yuk! I could not have been more wrong about kale. Once we learned how to handle and cook kale it become a staple in our weekly menu. First of all if you plan to create a kale salad make sure you massage the kale. Yes I said massage, this breaks down the gritty texture and you can even see the kale turn a deeper shade of green during the rub down. Also ensure that you use a creamy dressing for salads or plenty of oil, salt and pepper for seasoning. If you follow each of these tips when preparing kale I swear you will convert just like us.

This recipe is a great detox after the heavy foods we have enjoyed over Super Bowl and Valentines Day.

Simple Kale Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
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KALE SALAD INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups of Kale
  • 2 celery stalks sliced
  • 1 apple chopped
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp pickle juice
  • 2 Tbps ketchup
  • dash of garlic powder
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Rinse and massage kale for 2 minutes or until kale turns a deeper shade of green.
  2. In a large bowl combine kale, celery, apple and craisins.
  3. Then combine dressing ingredients and taste to ensure enough seasoning.
  4. Pour dressing over kale and toss to ensure all ingredients are combined. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

We love to use this salad as a side dish to Skinny Tastes Slow Cooker Maple Dijon Drumsticks !

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Baseboard Refresh : Easy Tutorial on How to Upgrade Your Baseboards

Baseboards are an understated accent that can go unnoticed in a home.When installed properly baseboards will give your home a facelift that cannot be beat. Our home was built in the 1980s and as a result our baseboards were tired and small at 3 1/2”. Typical homes have 4 1/2” to 5 1/2” baseboards and some of those stunning homes on Pinterest are 10”! Personally I did not understand what the big deal was but once Alex started installing new fatter baseboards the difference was obvious. After the baseboard facelift our home felt fresh, new, modern and clean and it only cost us $2k! A contractor would probably charge triple the cost of what we paid to do it ourselves. Giving your home’s baseboards a facelift is a mid priced project that can generate big rewards!

See tutorial below on how to upgrade your baseboards:

  1. Complete baseboard renovation room by room. Once you have selected a space start measure the room to determine amount of material to purchase. Give yourself a bit extra during measurements in the event  you make a mistake and need extra material. We find the first step to be the hardest as it cane difficult to perfectly measure and cut the boards to size. Don’t get discouraged it happens to the best of us!
  2. Start ripping out baseboards by taking a razor blade to top of the board where baseboard meets sheet rock. This will cut the caulking and paint and will ensure you do not tear the sheet rock. Once complete rip out baseboards and quarter round with crowbar and hammer.
  3. Purchase desired size base boards from local home renovation store. We went to Home Depot and selected 4 1/2” baseboards. When shopping for baseboards ensure the boards are not overly warped and manageable. Each board will have a slight bend or twist (this is unavoidable). Just make sure the boards do not resemble a banana curve.
  4. At Home Depot also be sure to buy quarter round, finishing nails, spackle, sanding paper and paint. We like Benjamin Moore stock white in satin finish.
  5. Paint the baseboards and quarter round, we normally use two coats of paint, then cut to size with a miter saw.
  6. Use a nail gun or nail by hand the new baseboards to drywall. Important to use a finishing nail as this will be smaller and less noticeable. We used finishing nails to nail trim to wall and quarter round to walls.
  7. Make sure to nail baseboards into a stud (a stud is an upright support in wall). To find studs in you can either buy a stud finder or use a finished nail and tap into wall. Important to find a stud for the baseboards as this will ensure a more secure install.
  8. Once baseboards and quarter round are nailed to drywall, spackle the holes where the nails are visible. This step will ensure the nail heads appear flush to the trim.
  9. Sand down the spackle till smooth and nails are no longer noticeable. Important then to take a shopvac or old paint brush to get the dust off, otherwise you will paint over the dust and will create an unfinished look. We have learned this step the hard way!!
  10. Then caulk the top of the trim and top of quarter round for any gapes that you find. Normally you find most gaps in the corners. Like here!
  11. Apply two coats of paint to the baseboards and quarter round. Two coats is essential since dust clings to caulk and you want to ensure the caulk is properly covered.

If you have an older home and that feels tired try updating the baseboards! Please let us know if you have any questions or comments! Would love to hear from you.

 

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Valentines Day Ideas: Steak Oscar Dinner for Two

You know the phrase “house poor”? We are here to tell you after you buy a home, decorate and renovate you will feel poor but in a good way! While creating the space of your dreams feels amazing it is important to be mindful of your budget. One great way to stay on budget is to reduce the amount of times you eat out. I know that doesn’t sound exciting with grand Valentines day ideas floating through your head but we have created an inexpensive version of Steak Oscar that will make you feel like you’re at a fancy restaurant. Perfect for fulfilling your Valentines Day ideas your significant other will be thankful for this amazing combination of steak, shrimp and velvety smooth béarnaise sauce. Did I mention it only takes 30min!! We find this dish comes together even faster when one person grills the steaks and the other creates remaining sides 🙂

Steak Oscar for Two

  • Servings: 2
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INGREDIENTS 

  • 2 NY Strip Steaks about 16oz
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 Knorr bearnaise sauce packet
  • 1/2 lb of shrimp
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Paprika
  • 2 tbsp Parsley

DIRECTIONS

  1. Season the steaks on both sides with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Preheat the grill one side on high and the other side on low. Place the meat on the high side for one minute flip over for another minute then put on low side for 4 minutes each side. When finished remove the steaks from grill and let rest covered on a cutting board for 10 minutes.
  2. For the asparagus preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash asparagus throughly and trim off the tough bottoms off. Layer on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes.
  3. To create béarnaise sauce follow directions on back of packet. In saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 1/2 cup butter; whisk in packet contents until blended. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk in 1 cup milk. Whisking constantly, bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute whisking frequently.
  4. Meanwhile clean and remove tails from shrimp. Heat 1/4 cup of butter and 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat in saucepan with chopped garlic. Once garlic is aromatic, about 1 minute, add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook shrimp two minutes per side and finish with one tablespoon of lemon juice.

Plate steaks on two individual plates, top with asparagus, shrimp, béarnaise sauce, dash of paprika and parsley. Enjoy!

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Modern Farmhouse Living Room Design Ideas

Hello Friends! I am struggling with room design ideas for our living room. Do you remember our relatives traditional living rooms? A bit more formal compared to todays style. When you google living room inspiration the decor is all over the place!
I’m not sure people even have living rooms anymore. Currently our living room is filled with pieces from our leftover apartments and condo. It’s ok but not great.

Our current living room. We are also missing fresh paint and baseboards!

We want our living room to be warm and inviting while also staying on budget. Similar to our discussion on when to splurge versus save on furniture I feel the living room is a save! The room won’t be used much and if we decide to have kids I have a bad feeling it will turn into a playroom. Here are some living room decor ideas and pieces I’m inspired by right now. Let us know your thoughts or suggestions!!

Photo from Homepolish

 

Photo from Pottery Barn

Tufted Leather Sofa – We have heard mixed opinions that leather should not be used in a living room but I feel like it doesn’t matter anymore. When most people don’t even have a living room why limit our selections. I would love to splurge and get the Pottery Barn tufted sofa but for a room we will rarely use I’ve been eyeing this look alike from Target.

Ikea SofaThis sofa looks just like the Pottery Barn sofa but for half the cost! I’m torn since we are using Ikea parson’s chairs as accent chairs (they also serve as extra dining room chairs). When mixing inexpensive pieces I find using a set makes the space feel cheap.

Photo from Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn Rug Layering Trick – Have you noticed people are layering their rugs! We have a great medallion rug from Pottery Barn which was used in our condo, unfortunately in our home the rug is too small. Then we went to Pottery Barn during one of their 25% off sales and bought their sisal rug to layer underneath!

Photo from Artflyz.com

Accent Curtains –  I tried to add color guys I swear! I even saved this photo of green curtains with a sisal rug and leather sofa. But then Home Goods happened and I found great grey black out curtains for dare I say two panels for $20! Ahh that’s cheaper than Target and they look great! My new strategy is to bring in color with gold accents.

Photo from Cupcakes & Cashmere

Tables – This photo from cupcakes and cashemere sums up my table goals! The gold west elm side tables and marble coffee table are exactly what I’m thinking for our living room. It has been tough to find similar pieces from Wayfair or Target so any suggestions would be great! My husband defiantly won’t let me buy that gold side table full price. For now we have the gold target bar chart and I can’t wait to decorate!

Let me know what you all think! Have you used a leather sofa and gold accents in a living room??

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Favorite Bloody Mary Ingredients

You wake up in a beautiful hotel where you acted like an adult for 50% of the evening but the other 50% you got your grove on with your college friends and their spouses. It was a good wedding! Now time to be an adult, head to brunch and pretend you don’t wish you were still in college. My husband and I have been on the wedding circuit for three summers and the morning after we swear by a good Bloody Mary. We have tried Bloody Mary’s all across the U.S. and we think we have finally found our favorite Bloody Mary ingredients. Sundays for us tend to be football, buffalo dip and our arsenal of Bloody Mary ingredients. Some ingredients may seem strange but trust us its sooo GOOD!!

You will need McCormick Steak Seasoning , Vodka (we prefer Titos), Tabasco Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, steak sauce, ,and green olives.



Add the Vodka, steak sauce, steak seasoning, olives, and top with Tabasco mix. Mix well for best results!

Here’s the handy print sheet so you never forgot the best Bloody Mary Ingredients 🙂

Best Bloody Mary Recipe

  • Servings: 1
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp McCormick steak seasoning
  • 1 shot of Titos Vodka
  • 2 Cups Tabasco Spicy Bloody Mary Mix (Tabasco makes a mild version as well)
  • 1 tsp Steak Sauce
  • 1 tbsp green olives

DIRECTIONS

Fill cup with crushed ice. Mix in vodka, steak seasoning, steak sauce and olives. Pour Tabasco Spicy Bloody Mary Mix on top and stir. Serve with celery and straw.

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Pigs in a Blanket

When hosting a party it is important to prep as much as possible. Prepping allows you to be an easy breezy host. We found this Pigs in a Blanket recipe on Martha Stewart and it is a huge hit!! Every time we make this recipe at least 5 people from the party ask for details! Rather than use fatty smoked sausages I like to find either a smoked turkey or chicken sausage for a less greasy pig. What makes this recipe even better is you can freeze the pigs in a blanket a week ahead of time!

Pigs in a Blanket


INGREDIENTS

  • Flour for dusting
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • Honey Dijon mustard
  • 18 fully cooked sausages either smoked turkey or andouille chicken
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • Poppy seeds for sprinkling
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  • Mustard or Ketchup for serving

DIRECTIONS

On a lightly floured work surface, roll each pastry sheet out into a 12-inch square, then cut into 4-inch squares. Lightly brush lower half of each square with mustard, center a sausage on mustard-coated edge, and brush top inch with egg. Roll sausages in pastry, pressing seams to tightly seal. Brush tops with egg, then sprinkle with poppy seeds or flaky salt. Cut each at an angle into thirds. Freeze pigs in blankets, uncovered, on a parchment-lined baking sheet until firm.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place frozen pigs in blankets 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with mustards.

*Recipe from Martha Stewart Living 

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Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Trying new recipes has always been a hobby of mine. I have memories after school of microwaving different dips together then anxiously awaiting the outcome! Sometimes I pick strange recipes to experiment on my friends and family. When I introduced this barbecue chicken pizza recipe my husband bought Funfetti cake mix pretending it would be fun to make when in reality he had low confidence in the dish and created a back up plan to avoid hurting my feelings. He was wrong!. Our Barbecue Chicken Pizza recipe is delicious, fast, and easy to make. The combination of the rich rotisserie chicken, sweet barbecue, creamy blue cheese and sharp red onion is addicting. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal or side dish for Super Bowl Sunday. Enjoy!

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 1 Boboli 12” 100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
  • 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place pizza crust on a baking sheet. Spread sauce over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with chicken and remaining ingredients. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is crisp. Cut into 12 wedges.

*This recipe is based on Cooking Light’s BBQ Chicken and Blue Cheese Pizza

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Buying Your First Home? Learn How to Buy a Home and Love it Too

We were clueless when we bought our first home. Renting a 2 bedroom condo for a year, life was pretty good, but when an appliance broke or we wanted to add our own personal touch we were limited. Alex is incredibly handy and it wasn’t until we moved into our first home that I realized by renting we were holding ourselves back. Our home has become a hobby and without it I don’t know what we would have done with our spare time.

Once we decided to buy our first home we were clueless to initial costs and responsibilities that would arise. If you are thinking about buying your first home see below for tips we wish someone had shared with us:

  • The mortgage WILL NOT replace your rent. There will be extra monthly expenses than just your mortgage, such as taxes, home insurance, home warranty, sewer, and anything extra that comes up and stuff will come up! As strict as we are with our budget we find every year something arises.
  • If you’re just starting to talk about buying a home set a budget for your family. Include 20% of the initial home price for a down payment, enough for renovations and furniture (depending on the state of the home) and try to set aside another substantial cushion for surprises.
  • We cannot express the importance of having an extra cushion! If nothing happens then use the money on a fun trip!! Our cushion has been used so far on a hot water boiler and broken furnace. If setting aside extra cash after a down payment seems scary to you then insist the seller give you a home warranty. The home warranty will cover the repairs of any major appliance, it will feel like a landlord whenever you need something fixed. We had the sellers buy us Home Shield. If you get so lucky to avoid surprises be sure to send us pictures of your vacation!
  • Once you decide on your dream home it could take 2-3 months till you actually move in. We found our home in October and our condo lease ended in December. We avoided paying rent and a new mortgage within the same month it was amazing!
  • You will not owe your first months mortgage payment till 30 days after closing. Unlike rent which is paid the beginning of the month a mortgage is paid once it has accumulated. As a result, the first month in your new home will be mortgage free! YAYY!
  • Be sure to put down 20% !! If you have your eyes on a dream home and you cannot afford 20% down payment DO NOT BUY!! Haven’t you experienced enough debt from student loans?! By avoiding 20% downpayment of the home’s purchase price mortgage lenders will give you a higher interest rate or have you purchase points to achieve a lower interest rate. In each instance you are giving away more hard earned cash towards interest. With low mortgage rates and a rising housing market putting down 20% makes you an attractive buyer. Lenders and sellers will be more willing to work with you despite your age. Everyone treated us like kids till we revealed we could put down 20% 🙂
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your mortgage broker, lawyers and relator will try to use all these home buying fancy words but this is your first time buying a home you have no prior experience. If you are afraid to ask questions comment below and we will be happy to answer!!

What were some unexpected costs you found when buying your first home? Also let us know if this article was helpful! We plan to share more of our first home buying experience soon!

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Fast Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

Most Chicken Noodle soup recipes require a bit of time. First authentic recipes will require you boil the bones of the chicken to make flavorful stock. While this does make an excellent batch of soup I would like to know who has time to create their own stock! I sure don’t so when my husband or I get sick and crave a homemade batch of chicken noodle soup, I have to move fast to satisfy the craving. Our chicken noodle soup recipe is a combination of Pioneer Woman’s chicken noodle soup and this super fast version we found on allrecipes.com. We promise our fast chicken noodle soup will stick to your bones and soul.

Fast and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 32oz cartons of low sodium chicken broth
2 cups cooked chicken (cubed or shredded)
2 cups whole wheat egg noodles
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp flour
1/4 cup of water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh pepper
1 tsp fresh parsley

Directions
In a dutch oven over medium heat melt butter. Add onion and celery and cook until soft about 5 minutes. Pour in chicken broths and stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime create a slurry whisking the flour and water in the small bowl. Add to the soup when there is 5 minutes remaining. When time is up season with more salt and pepper to taste and serve in soup bowls topped with parsley and bread on the side.

*Every Sunday we either roast boneless skinless chicken breasts in the oven or slow cook in a crock pot, this helps speed up the cook time of our favorite lunches and dinners through out the week 🙂

 

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