22 Dec

Strawberries & Persimmons in Amaretto with Frozen Yogurt

Hi Friends!

Time for another Recipe Redux! This month we had a very unique theme:

“Grab a Book & Cook:
It’s the end of the year and we’ll taking a moment to reflect: ReDux has been around for 42 months! (Can you believe some of you have ReDux-ed 42 recipes?) To celebrate, we’re playing a little party game this month: Grab your nearest cookbook and ReDux the recipe on page 42 or 142. We can’t wait to see the books you’re cooking from these days – and how you make that recipe healthier.”

This one was honestly pretty challenging for me. I actually only own about 5 cookbooks. I pretty much get all of my recipes online from various blogs/websites, and I don’t have many hard copy books. I definitely did not have much to choose from. From the books I did have, the recipes on page 42 or 142 were super weird or challenging or too many ingredients. So hmm, maybe a cookbook or two would be a good last minute gift idea?

Luckily, I found an easy recipe in one of my books and switched up the ingredients a little, and made this! A simple fruit topping jazzed up with a few sweet ingredients.

Strawberries & Persimmon Frozen Yogurt 2

The original recipe came from this book that my mom gave my boyfriend when we moved in together:

Fresh n healthy

To be totally honest, I actually have never cooked from this book before. The recipe on page 42 was a mushroom and onion panini which didn’t sound very good, plus I don’t have a panini maker. So, I moved on to 142, and found a recipe for “Raspberries in Chambord with Ice Cream” which contains raspberries, sugar, and Chambord liqueur  on top of vanilla ice cream. 

I decided to use strawberries (the grocery store did not have raspberries), and a cute little persimmon that my friend had given me. I have only tried persimmons a couple times and they’re probably my new favorite fruit. They taste like a nectarine-apple. So tasty.

I also used Amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur), maple syrup, Splenda, and a little powdered sugar. I decided to use nonfat frozen Greek yogurt instead of ice cream for a little extra protein.

Strawberries & Persimmon Frozen Yogurt

End result: a quick, tasty frozen yogurt topping made with fresh fruit! You could easily switch out the fruits/liqueur for whichever ones you favor.

Here’s the recipe!

Strawberries & Persimmons in Amaretto with Frozen Greek Yogurt
Yields 1
  1. 5 strawberries
  2. 1 small persimmon
  3. 1 Tbsp Amaretto (almond-liqueur)
  4. 1 tsp Splenda
  5. 1 tsp maple syrup
  6. 2-3 scoops vanilla frozen Greek yogurt
  7. powdered sugar as dusting
  1. Dice the strawberries and persimmon into small pieces and place into a bowl with the Splenda and Amaretto. Let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. When ready, scoop the frozen yogurt into a dish, and top with the fruit mixture. Drizzle maple syrup on top and dust with powdered sugar.
Zen & Spice http://www.zenandspice.com/
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19 Dec

Great Holiday Recipe Roundup 2014

Hi Friends!

Today I’m bringing you a collection of 32 recipes for the Holidays! Don’t ask me why I stopped at 32. If I didn’t stop myself this would probably be the longest blog post ever. There’s so many tasty looking holiday recipes out there lately!!


Check out these recipes for some holiday meal inspiration. Feel free to leave links in the comments of your favorite holiday recipes this year!  

And we begin with…


PicMonkey Collage app 1

Bacon Spinach Blossoms Appetizer via Kennary. Droolworthy. I could probably eat five.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus with Gruyere via Avocado Pesto. Can everything be wrapped in bacon?

Fool Proof Spanakopita Tarts via The Housewife in Training. I love seeing these at parties!

Mushroom & Gruyère Appetizer Puffs via Bourbon and Honey. Two perfect sounding foods wrapped up into something also perfect.

PicMonkey Collage app2

Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms via Oh My Dish. Perfect for those veggie friends!

Spinach Artichoke Dip. A personal recipe– served this at dinner with my family and we demolished it!

Pear and Brie Crostini via Sweet and Savory Pursuits. These sound so sweet and savory.

Artichoke-Stuffed Potatoes via Jennifer’s Kitchen. These are so cute and tasty looking!



PicMonkey Collage soups

Simple Butternut Squash Soup. Another one of my recipes– simple and full of flavor.

Creamy Broccoli Soup via Binjal’s VEG Kitchen. Could this be any more Christmas green?

 Classic French Onion Soup via Naked Cuisine. Looks so savory and warm.

 Low Fat Mushroom Bisque via New Hippie Kitchen. Looks light yet filling!



PicMonkey Collage entree 1

Maple Dijon Roasted Chicken via Neighborfood. How perfect does this chicken look?

Crab & Kale Lasagna Rolls with Creamy Herb Pumpkin Sauce. My parents absolutely loved this dish. The fresh crab meat pairs wonderfully with the savory pumpkin sauce.

Parmesan Garlic Salmon via Planes to Plates. Crusty cheesy salmon? Yes please.

Quinoa & Portabello Mushroom Stack via Home Sweet Jones. This looks amazing for those veggie friends as well.



PicMonkey Collage sides 1

Sweet Potato Gnocchi via Feasting on Fruit. Thinking about making these little guys for our holiday dinner this weekend.

Creamy Butternut Rosemary Risotto via GI 365. Creamy. Cheesy. Butternut squash-y.

Sautéed Pineapple with Spices via The Steaming Pot. Sauteeing pineapple? GENIUS!

Golden Buttermilk Cornbread via Super Nummy Yo. Nothing better than a warm piece of cornbread.

PicMonkey Collage sides 2

Whole Roasted Cauliflower via The Veg Life. This picture is awesome.

Sweet and Sour Brussels Sprouts via Cooking LSL. Best way to eat ‘em!

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Mash via The Fit Fork. Lighten up those carbs with cauliflower.

Green Beans & Mint with Maple Tahini via The Endless Meal. Every holiday needs green beans !



PicMonkey Collage dessert1

Fudgy Peppermint Cookies via Samantha’s Kitchen Table. Melty peppermint??

Easy Sparkling Cranberries via Petite Allergy Treats. These look like magical little treats.

Apple Pie-No Refined Flour or Sugar via Italicana Kitchen. Perfect looking pie.

Gingerbread Chocolate Truffles via Delish Knowledge. Little bits of heaven, most likely.

PicMonkey Collagedesserts2

Chocolate Yule Log with Rolled Oats via Runnin Srilankan. Looks so fudge-y!

Peppermint Mocha via Real Food and Ice Cream. I bet this version is way better than Starbucks.

 Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls via Pinch of Yum. I’ll take twenty!

 No-Bake Cheesecake Bites with Golden Raisin Puree. Personal recipe– these little bites were a hit at a recent holiday party.


I can’t stop drooling over these amazing recipes! How will I ever decide which ones to make this year?

What’s your favorite holiday recipe? Leave a link for your favs or what you’re making this year! Let’s build a giant list of recipes! 

18 Dec

Escaping Materialism this Holiday Season

When I think of Christmas, I think about lights, music, warm cookies from the oven, the smell of the heater coming on, and spending time with family. I also think about gift shopping, wrapping, buying a ton of decorations. It’s easy to get caught in the materialistic side of the holidays, especially when every store you walk into, there’s display after display of “holiday essentials” that you “just need to have”!


However, no matter how many decorations or gadgets or gizmos you buy or however much money you spend on presents this holiday season, it can’t buy you happiness.

Here are some suggestions on how to avoid getting “wrapped up” in materialism this holiday season:

    • Love & Family: Your first priority should be to spend time with friends and family this holiday season– and really focus on them. Ask questions about work, school, life in general and really focus on their answers. Having quality conversation with family, especially if you don’t get to see them that often, can distract you from focusing too much on who’s giving who what gift.
    • Kindness: Practice random acts of kindness and compassion. Volunteer. Participate in an Angel Tree.
    • Find meaning: Why are you celebrating the holidays? Tradition? Religion? Find meaning through a church or another spiritual way, or through those you love in life or through the things you’re passionate about. Give yourself a purpose.
    • Focus on your health: We tend to forget about taking care of ourselves during the holidays, we get so wrapped up in preparations. Make an effort to eat healthy most days of the week and splurge on the actual holiday. Get to the gym when you can.
    • Grateful list: Make a list of things about which you’re grateful in your life. Give thanks for them daily. Or, keep a gratitude journal and try to write down one thing every day that you’re thankful for.
    • Monitor your urges: Keep track of the number of times you want to buy something, whether you’re online, watching TV, or at a store. Once you become more aware of your urges to buy things, you can start to control them.
    • Avoid the mall or Wal-Mart. Try to avoid the massive shopping areas as best as you can. If you need a place to spend your time, go somewhere where you don’t have to spend too much money– a park, ice skating, or have a night in cooking with your spouse. If you need to buy something, go to a single store, get in and out, and try not to get sucked in by all the displays!


Staying mindful and in the present moment during this holiday season can keep us focused on what’s really important– family, friends, love and tradition.

How do you stay present during the holiday season?

17 Dec

Exploring the Hill Country: Travaasa Spa in Austin, Texas

Hi everyone!

This week has been flying by so far. I can’t believe Christmas is next week already! I’ve already got all my shopping done and presents are wrapped, except for Nick’s present. I’m still deciding what to get him, hopefully I’ll decide soon!!

This past weekend, Nick’s company paid for a two night, all-expenses paid trip down to Travaasa Resort down in Austin, Texas for a company Christmas party. They were allowed to bring their significant other so along I went! I took a bunch of pictures and I’m excited to show them to you today!



So the first night (Friday), we all piled into two buses (60+ people) and drove down to Austin. There was definitely beer on the bus on the way down. Apparently it’s legal to have open containers when you have a charter bus with a driver! Who knew!

When we got down to the resort, this is what we pulled up to. A canyon filled with trees and a very spa-like resort with tons of trees and plants.



The spa was set up with a series of bungalows, with about 5 rooms per building. Here’s the view from our room! 


outside window

On Friday night before dinner, we had a cocktail making competition. We were given blackberries, blueberries, lemon, lime, rosemary, sage, jalapeno, and an assortment of liquors and juices (cranberry, pomegranate and lemon), and simple syrup or agave.



Our group made a drink we called the “Devil’s Sugar”– cranberry juice, muddled blueberries and jalapeno, with simple syrup and vodka. It tasted alright. Let me just say that after this competition I have a new-found respect for bartenders/mixologists.



Saturday morning consisted of a hearty and delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and probably the BEST pancakes I’ve ever had. They. were. amazing.



After breakfast we had planned to do something called a “Challenge Course”, which on the description said nothing about it being 35 feet in the air. When we got down to the course I totally chickened out and didn’t do it. Nick did however!



First, you had to climb up the netting, walk across a board bridge, a log bridge, and then a tight rope. Then you zip-line down. All 35 feet in the air. Yea, no thanks. Deathly afraid of heights over here.

Here’s the group before the challenge! Nick is second from the right.



After we Nick completed the challenge course, we headed over to lunch. I had some type of Asian pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes, bacon stuffed deviled eggs, quinoa cilantro salad, couscous salad with lentils, grilled portobello mushrooms, honey cornbread and a jalapeno-bacon-cheddar scone. Yep we ate pretty well.



After lunch, we headed over to a cute little farm to go horseback riding.


farm 2

It was nestled in the valley and it was the perfect day to be outside! 75 degrees and sunny. Mind you this is December. Two weeks before Christmas. And this is why I live in Texas.




Overall the horseback riding trip wasn’t very exciting. It was a little boring to be honest. The guides just took us up into the hill and there was barely anything to see except for dead trees. And my horse went rogue and ran into some bushes and totally scratched up my arm.


me horse

Nick’s horse pretty much behaved himself. It was funny, because we told the guides that I sometimes have problems with horses not listening to me, and they told me they gave me the tamest horse. Hmph.


nick horse

View from the top of the mountain!


lunch balcony 2

Nick’s company had us do an Instagram contest (grand prize: a 7-day all expenses cruise to where ever you want) all day on Saturday so we had to run around the spa taking pictures of various things. If you follow me on Instagram that is why I was posting random pictures of statues and buildings and bulls, not because I’m going crazy.



2014-12-13 11.59.56

The spa had a gorgeous infinity pool. If we had known that it was going to be 75 degrees we would have brought our swim suits.

2014-12-13 14.52.02

I’d totally come back just to swim in this!!

2014-12-13 14.52.35

A tiny baby pomegranate (or persimmon or something else I’m not sure): 



There was definitely plenty of nature to soak in!




One of my favorite pics from the weekend. I want this blown up on canvas.



The rest of the weekend was spent at a private two-stepping class, lots of cocktail hours, dinners, and dancing. We packed up Sunday morning and headed home.


Overall it was a great experience! I would definitely go back again. The resort had so many daily activities to choose from like yoga, massages, cooking classes, alcohol tastings, etc that you could spend all day with a pretty booked schedule.

Did you do anything fun this past weekend?

Are you ready for Christmas?? I AM!