Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weekly Eats #2


Two weeks ago I introduced you to a new series that I started called "Weekly Eats." I've already gotten great feedback so I'm really happy you guys are liking this. It's been really great for me personally because it makes me track what I'm eating for the most part. I have a lot of leftovers for lunch so I'm most likely eating one of these dinners two or three more times. This is also a time for me to practice my photography and editing skills so some photos are better than others. Here's what I've been eating the last two weeks!

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Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes via Center Cut Cook: These were a huge hit and so freaking tasty. She should rename this smothered sloppy joes because there was so much sauce. This was a super easy weekday meal that I was able to prepare in ten minutes and leave for the rest of the afternoon. I served this with roasted carrots, caulifower and potatoes.

Rigatoni with Spicy Pork Ragu via The Juice: This was an adult-only meal and so delicious. If you're new here or just out of the loop, I live with two boys who can be super picky eaters sometimes so if you have kids and you're looking for meal suggestions, you found the right place. Anyway, this meal was fill of flavor. My aunt hates that I make so much pasta but I seriously can't live without it. 

Smokey-Sweet Chicken with Roasted Oranges via Women's Health Magazine: I found this in an old copy of Women's Health Magazine. The link is to the online version so you can check it out. This was a really great, healthy dinner. I paired it with roasted green beans and cauliflower and mashed potatoes. The kids liked it even though they were wierded out at first by the tangerines. I basted it about three or four times while it was cooking which made for incredibly moist chicken.

TACOS!: or I guess you could say burritos. This was just an easy dinner night. The kids like tacos, my aunt likes tacos, I like tacos. We were a very happy family that night.

Steak with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce via Women's Health: this is another recipe I found in Women's Health Magazine from a few months back. Unfortunately this recipe is not online so I'm unable to share it with you. This was delicious by the way. The mushroom sauce was incredible and I managed to cook the steak perfectly. I paired this with roasted veggies (carrots, zucchini, brussel sprouts and pearl onions). It was a delicious, carb-free meal.

Ranch Chicken Fajita Bowls via Diethood: Tuesday night we made raviolis for Christmas so I need a quick dinner that was easy cleanup. This recipe was so delicious. I separated everything and served without the sauce for the kids first to avoid meltdown central but I mixed it up like you're supposed to for my aunt and I. I ate this cold for lunch the next day. #NoShame

Baked Tilapia and Oven Potatoes: On a kid-free night, I try to make food that my aunt and I like but wouldn't be a hit with the kids. Enter, fish. I'm not a huge fish person but I can eat tuna or a white fillet once in a while. If it's deep fried and smothered in ketchup, that's usually how I prefer it to be honest. I had all this seasoning from past Love With Food boxes so I decided to use it on this night's dinner. On the tilapia, I used Lemon Rosemary Seasoning from Fogg City Spice Co. I think I used a bit too much but it was delicious. I only ate about half of the fillet before I gave my aunt the rest but that was by fault of fish. The seasoning was tasty. For the sweet potatoes, I sprinkled them with All Purpose Salt Seasoning Blend by Whole Spice. This was delicious. I still have half the packet left which I'll be using soon!

Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Stoup via Rachael Ray: I love Rachael Ray. I try and watch her show regularly but sometimes I forget I have access to a TV while I work. Anyway, a few weeks ago I had both boys go through all my cookbooks and recipe binder. The November Love With Food box came with a small insert from Every Day with Rachael Ray that consists of maybe 30 30-Minute Meals. This particular recipe was marked by my older cousin which surprised me because he is not a soup eater. Turns out, he thought it was pizza. Seriously, I don't know how. Luckily and by some chance of a miracle, this was a huge hit. It was full of flavor and thicker than typical soup. I warmed up some french bread in the oven while this simmered and called it a night! It was super easy and pretty quick. 

What have you been eating lately? Let me know if you try any of these recipes and what you think!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's National #SangriaDay! #IGotABeso



Happy National Sangria Day!! I hope you're all as excited for this amazing day as I am. Who doesn't like a delicious glass or three of sangria? As you may have seen on social media, I hosted a sangria party recently which was a ton of fun. We had chocolate fondue and drank lots of sangria thanks to Beso del Sol. So grab a glass, grab some chocolate, sit back and relax. I'm going to introduce you to honestly the BEST sangria I've ever had and I've had quite a bit.

Beso del Sol Sangria is imported from Spain. This is the first clue that it's going to blow your mind. It's made from Spanish Tempranillo grapes 100% blended with a selection of fruits and fresh citrus to create a light and fruity sangria that is naturally sweet and refreshing. It's created from a combination of selected red wine with natural Mediterranean fruit extracts and sugar. Made according to a traditional Spanish recipe, Beso del Sol Sangria is a typical flavor of Spain. 

You can serve Beso del Sol Sangria right out of the box but I wanted to give it a bit of flare so I added fruit which is another great way to serve this sangria. Here are the exact fruits I used per pitcher which is a little less than half the box: 1 red apple, 1 pear, apprx. 1 cup of sliced strawberries, appx. 1 cup halved grapes, 1/2 orange peeled. I cubed the apple, pear and orange. I didn't want to put in too much of the orange because the citrus would overpower the sangria. Feel free to change up the fruit as you please, I'm sure anything would be great in this. 

I was going to make a spritzer for Christmas but I'm going to pick up some Beso del Sol instead and make sangria. It tastes amazing and goes down incredibly smooth. The alcohol content is only at 8.5% which is moderately low for wine but I think that's the secret to this sangria being so good. The alcohol doesn't overpower the taste of the fruit. I really have had a lot of sangria before. I've made it myself, tried it from other friends and family and I've had sangria at some of the best authentic restaurants in Chicago. Nothing has compared to Beso del Sol. You have to try it for yourself to believe me probably. You won't regret it. 

How are you celebrating National Sangria Day? Grab your glass of sangria, grab a snack and party on!

Make sure you follow Beso del Sol on Facebook!

Disclaimer: I received a box of Beso del Sol Sangria complimentary for review. I additionally received a Whole Foods gift card which went 100% towards the party I hosted for National Sangria Day. All opinions expressed are 100% honest and my own.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Paris, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down by Rosencrans Baldwin: A Review

This book review is way overdue. Just finishing this book was way overdue. My reading took a big hit the last few months so I apologize for the lack of book reviews lately. My last one was way delayed almost by two months. If you missed it, I reviewed The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon. It was by far one of the best books I read this year so I definitely recommend it.

source: Goodreads
A self-described Francophile from when he was little, Rosencrans Baldwin always dreamed of living in Paris - drinking le café, eating les croissants, walking in les jardins - so when an opportunity presented itself to work for an advertising agency in Paris, he couldn't turn it down. Despite the fact that he had no experience in advertising. And despite the fact that he barely spoke French. After an unimaginable amount of red tape and bureucracy, Rosencrans and his wife packed up their Brooklyn apartment and left the Big Apple for the City of Light. When they arrived, things were not exactly what Rosencrans remembered from a family vacation when he was nine years old. 

Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down is a nimble comic account of observing the French capital from the inside out. It is an exploration of the Paris of Sarkozy, text-message romances, smoking bans, and a McDonald's beneath the Louvre-the story of an American who arrives loving Paris all out of proportion, but finds life there to be completely like what he expected. Over eighteen months, Rosencrans must rely on his dogged American optimism to get him through some very unromantic situations - at work (writing booklets on how to breast-feed, raise, and nurture children), at home (trying to finish writing his first novel in an apartment surrounded on all sides by construction workers), and at every confusing French dinner party in between. An offbeat update to the expat canon, Paris, I Love You is a book about a young man finding his preconceptions replaced by the oddities of vigorous, nervy city-which is just what he needs to fall in love with Paris for the second time.

What I Say
There is one main reason why I loved this book so much. Rosencrans wrote Paris for people who have experienced the city and love the city. One of those people are me. It's been about two and a half years since I got back from this magical city and I miss it just as much as the day I arrived back home, maybe even more. There's a promise that the city holds. Happiness, love, luxury...a great life. It has a strong history and a long one filled with glamour and pain, art and wonder. You can't help but to be nostalgic in Paris and being able to accept and live in the past so much also allows you to embrace the present.

I could go on and on about what Rosencrans wrote and what he did while he was in Paris but the Goodreads description does that well enough. Instead, I want to talk about the feeling you get while reading his book...memoir. Can we call this a memoir? I would say so. Briefly recapping, Rosencrans got an opportunity to work at an advertising agency in Paris so him and his wife moved their lives from the US to France. They became citizens, they made friends. They established a life in the city and really came to love it. Rosencrans worked on his book and the story ended with him getting a publishing deal which led them to move back to the states. While they were in Paris, they also experienced the bad stuff too. Just like anywhere else, Paris has it's bad side and living there opens your eyes to it. It also makes you appreciate it that much more.

I'm a sucker for anything that has to do with Paris. I loved Paris, I Love You but I wouldn't recommend it if you could care less for the city or traveling in general. Rosencrans goes into heavy details of living in Paris and the travels he did during his time there. It's wonderful to experience as a reader. Sit back, relax and escape through his words. If you've been to Paris or if you dream to, I would definitely recommend this book. For those of you who have been to Paris, it will take you back and remind you of everything you loved about it. For those of you who have yet to visit Paris, it will give you an idea of what's to come. You may not have visited the city yet but reading his novel will give you an idea of what it's like to be in Paris, to be with Parisians. It's an unforgettable experience and even though I probably won't go back for a while, I know I'll always have this book to remind me of why I love the city so much...not that I could ever forget.

Friday Coffee #5


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LINK LOVE
Rosemary Olive Oil Bread - A Beautiful Mess

HAPPENINGS
Chicago: Find Your Prana Seasonal Wellness Cleanse 
What: Join Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Teacher Shannon Terschluse along with a variety of speakers in the health and wellness industry for a natural and healing cleanse to help start the new year off right. Learn how to safely detoxify and cleanse your body in a supportive group environment. This cleanse will help you learn how to make smarter and more informed choices which will benefit you for years to come. Eat clean for 2 weeks (includes 3 days of liquids only), learn about Ayurveda, various techniques in alternative medicine, and practice yoga and meditation. Find Your Prana. Find Balance. See the full schedule of events and classes on the Find Your Prana website by following this link.

When: January 4-18, 2015

Where: Whole Family Inc. Wellness Studio
3139 North Lincoln Avenue, 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60657


MUSIC, MOVIES & TV
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies came out in theaters this week! I'm so pumped for this movie. I have a feeling this will be the last time we see Middle Earth but it's been one wild and unforgettable ride. I can't even with the trailer by the way. It gives me goosebumps every single time.

Into the Woods is coming out next week on Christmas Day and I can't be more excited for it. I've been waiting for this movie for months! I wouldn't hate to go see it on Broadway either. That would be epic. Trailer below.

In other movie and music news, the Backstreet Boys apparently filmed a movie. Who knew? Not me that's for sure. It's an in-depth look at what was going on during the recording of their last album in London. I'm a huge BBoy fan so you can bet I'll be watching it...after it comes out of the theaters.
source: USA Today


CELEBS & HOLLYWOOD
Lauren Conrad was featured in E!'s Pop Innovators series last Thursday and I don't know why I didn't include it in the last Friday Coffee. I love Lauren. She is such an inspiration to me. I've been a fan since the Laguna Beach days. Did you guys watch it?

Britney is gracing the cover of Women's Health for January and she looks hot! I love Britney and I love that she's in this magazine because she's in great shape but they need to cut it out with the photoshop. We've all seen Britney's bod because of her Vegas tour. She does not need photoshopping nor should something like this be allowed for a health and fitness magazine! The photo below is one of the best in my opinion. What are your thoughts?
Photo and Info source: MTV News

Jennifer Aniston is the face of Allure Magazine for the January 2015 issue. She's baring lots of skin and she looks amazing. I guess showing lots of skin for magazine spreads is the in thing now?
source and photo: PopSugar

Ashlee Simpson is pregnant with her second baby. This time it's with her now husband Evan Ross. Pardon me while I go cry while I realize there is no hope her and Pete Wentz are ever getting back together. I think I'm more brokenhearted than they are.
source: E! News, photo: E! Online


If you have any "Happenings" that you'd like to be included in future Friday Faves, feel free to email me at lifewithasideofcoffee {at} gmail {dot} com for consideration.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Best Songs of 2014

The Best Songs Of 2014

The end of the year is upon us which means it's time for roundups and "Best of" posts. It's depressing but also a ton of fun to put together and read. Helene in Between listed her Worst Songs of 2014 on Monday and today, we're all linking up to list the Best songs. I thought I'd put it into categories because I just could pick only a few. Before we get to my long list of songs though, I have got to tell you who I'm absolutely sick of.

Over and Done With
Iggy Credit // Ariana Credit // Sam Credit // Taylor Credit
Iggy Azalea: I honestly liked almost every song she put out this year but you literally could not listen to the radio without hearing her on every single station constantly. I'm so sick of her songs I don't even want to think about them anymore.

Ariana Grande: Same as above except for I'm not a huge fan of her music. Girl can sing, that's about as much as I'll give her.

Sam Smith: This guy came out of nowhere and now all I have running through my head are songs begging someone to come back. I wasn't a fan of "Stay With Me" but I did like "I Know I'm Not The Only One" but I'm soooooo sick of it!

Taylor Swift: Just go away. People are either 100% for Taylor or completely against her. I'm the latter. If you love T.Swift, more power to you. I just can't handle her. I love her gal pal Selena Gomez though. I've been a fan for forever.

Guilty Pleasure
Jealous - Nick Jonas
Sweet Talker - Jessie J
Amnesia - 5 Seconds of Summer
Young Blood - Bea Miller


Songs That Took Me By Surprise
Bed of Lies - Nicki Minaj featuring Skylar Grey
Yesterday - David Guetta featuring Bebe Rexha


Country
People Loving People - Garth Brooks
Somethin' Bad - Miranda Lambert featuring Carrie Underwood
Leave the Night On - Sam Hunt
Girl In A County Song - Maddie and Tae


Everything Else
Chandelier - Sia
Maps - Maroon 5
Centuries - Fall Out Boy
Sky Full Of Stars - Coldplay
Brooklyn Baby - Lana Del Ray
Girls Chase Boys - Ingrid Michaelson

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Introducing Two Lovely Ladies: One Mom, One Foodie

You may have noticed a few changes lately on the blog. One of the columns disappeared, stuff that was just clutter is now gone and there are fewer ad spots. This was done on purpose, I promise. I love having blogs sponsor me because it's my way of supporting the community like it did for me when I was just starting out and like it still does. However, I felt that having 10 spots was way too much. When all those spaces were filled, the ads got distracting and I couldn't keep up with promoting everyone as much as I would have liked. So after brainstorming and some advice, I decided to cut my ad space down to four spots per month. The ads are thinner and I can personally offer you much more than ever before. Two lucky ladies had ad space that was just beginning as I made these changes. They were my guinea pigs and I'm hoping they've been enjoying their experience. Let's meet them!

TIFFANY - THE MOMMY GLOW
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Bloglovin // Facebook // Google+ // Instagram // Pinterest // Twitter
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Christmas Is In The Air Week 4: Christmas Beauty & Fashion

Well hello there! Can you guys believe that it's the last and final week of Chelsee and I's Christmas Is In The Air Link Up? I hope you've had a great time linking up with us the last few weeks and met a few new friends along the way. For our last and final linkup, we'll be talking Christmas Beauty and Fashion. Share with us makeup and fashion that you will be wearing for Christmas. Or in my case, makeup and fashion you'd like to wear for Christmas but will most likely be in PJs instead. 

And now for the rules: 
2. Write a post that goes along with the theme of the week and link up with us. 
3. Visit a few other linked up posts and comment on their posts. Share the love people! 
4. Make a new friend. That's the best part of these anyway. This is more of a perk than a rule :)

Linkup
For Christmas, we're super casual and laid back. Some people where pajamas or comfies and others will get dressed up. It depends on what everyone is feeling but it's a mix. Me, I'll wear sweats or jeans and a basic tee most likely. But I love dreaming about a super glamorous Christmas. Here is what I wish I could wear for Christmas.
(1) - (2) - (3)

(1) - (2) - (3)
And then there's makeup. I love these looks.
(1) - (2) - (3)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stealing My Present Back From The Boohoo Bad Elf

Have you seen a bad elf roaming around Twitter lately? He's been stealing presents and one of them happened to be mine. Luckily, I got it back! It hasn't arrived yet but I'm pretty darn excited. Moving on from the bad elf for a minute, have you guys heard of Boohoo.com yet? They're an online shop with lots of great stuff. Before they approached me, I heard a lot great things from other friends so I was excited to get the opportunity to work with them. Right now, they have a Christmas Shop where you can shop for Her or for Him! This is perfect if you have some last minute shopping to do or need an outfit for a holiday party or NYE.

For example, these gorgeous dresses from Her Xmas Christmas Shop would be perfect for a company holiday party.
(1) - (2)

And these items from the Gifts For Her shop would be perfect for stocking stuffers if you're still shopping like me.
(1) - (2)

Or visit their #nightsbeforexmas page for some shiny and sexy dresses perfect for NYE like these ones.
(1) - (2)
And if he's still on your list to shop for, check out the Gifts For Him shop...
(1) - (2) - (3)
See these items and more in the Boohoo Holiday Shop and make sure you follow the Bad Elf on Twitter in case he steals your present! Make sure you're following me on Instagram too to see what was in my stolen present!

*Disclaimer: I received a gift complimentary from Boohoo for this post. All opinions are mine and were not swayed by the gift.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pairing Wine & Movies Round 2: 2013 Wonderful Wine Co. Riesling


Happy Monday! Welcome back to the Wine & Movie Pairing series! I'm so excited to be back with these posts. They've honestly become one of my favorite blog projects. It doesn't hurt that I have to drink wine in order to make them happen either. With each round of pairings comes a new box of ClubW wines. I really like this service because it gives you variety and encourages experimentation without going too crazy because the wines that are recommended for you are based off of your ratings and taste profile. It's a genius program. This isn't me giving them cred for money, this is just me being a fan. Since Christmas is coming up, I decided that the bottle of white would have to go with a Christmas movie. There was no other option. Between that and my aunt and I not getting a chance to watch any classics yet, Christmas in Connecticut was the winner. There were several others in the running like The Bishop's Wife but Barbara Stanwyck and Sydney Greenstreet were the perfect match for a fruity white.


The white I received in this box was a 2013 Wonderful Wine Co. Riesling from Columbia Valley, Washington with a Fresh Peach Signature Scent. ClubW says, "Like sweet wines? Need a wine to pair with your Thai takeout? Or, you just need a yummy white wine all your friends will love? Wonderful. We've got your Riesling. Grown in Washington's Columbia Valley (THE place to turn for the best Rieslings in the U.S.), this German-style wine would make even Heidi Klum giddy. Pour a round and enjoy fresh peach, green apple and lime peel flavors plus a little white flower that tapers off in a slightly stony finish. Made in a style that's 'off-dry' - or slightly sweet - it's a great pairing for spicy food."


This Riesling was a winner. It's actually one of my favorite white varietals so I knew immediately I would enjoy it. Once sipped, it has a sweet taste with peachy elements but I also got a taste of pear and apple. It went down smooth with a dry finish. It's a very refreshing wine that would honestly be perfect for summertime. It paired perfectly with the movie. Light and fruity, great for a holiday romantic comedy classic. ClubW recommends pairing this wine with a spicy dinner so I would recommend a spicy chicken dish but I would personally pair this with Pad Thai. For some reason, I think they would blend beautifully. Add a little red pepper sauce onto the otherwise sweet dish and you've got yourself a perfectly well-balanced meal!

Make sure you follow me on Instagram and Facebook to get sneak peeks at upcoming wines in my wine and movie pairing posts! If you share a pairing idea and I love it, I'll make sure to send you a shout out in the post. 

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Make sure you check out my other Wine & Movie Pairing posts!