Bzzy Bzzy Bee

So as you may have noticed, things have been a bit quiet on the blog front lately. I have to admit, I am guilty of negligence and I am kicking myself. This tends to happen when work, photography, travel and a big fat time change get the best of me, and that has been the case the past couple weeks.

The bad news is it is going to get worse before it gets better… but only for a short while!! The good news is that next week I will be up and running again with my usual cooking, DIY and style posts. Between some new gourmet recipes, projects at home, trips in the works and flurry of new spring trends coming in, the next few weeks are looking pretty bright!

Until then, I will be up in Yosemite exploring one of the world’s most beautiful national parks to celebrate a very special birthday for my very special man :) Hopefully your weekend is as great as mine is bound to be, tune in next week for some goodie goodie gumdrops!

xx

human-spirit-nature

Playing with Flowers

Life is about the little things. Simple pleasures. And for me, that includes having fresh flowers in my house.

The smell, the colors, the freshness… just thinking about flowers makes me happy.

I spent some time working with an amazing floral company this past year, and learned a lot about floral style. From shabby chic classic like roses and peonies, to modern and bright blooms like irises and spider mums, you can really achieve any sort of mood with your stem selection.

There are some basic concepts about mixing and matching flowers that I find helpful when I am enraptured at the farmer’s market.

Option 1: Different shades of the same color. Color is a great thread connecting a variety of different annual and seasonal blooms. Pinks, yellows, and creams are exceptional colors to experiment with, and can almost always be found year round.

Option 2: Colors that border each other on the color wheel. Think brighter combos like red/orange and orange/yellow, and cooler palettes like blue/purple and purple/red.

Option 3: Combine colors that oppose each other on the color wheel. Since green is neutral, it shouldn’t count in the color clash. Pink and blue or orange and purple are bold pairings that pack a visual punch. Purple and yellow is a common blend that is really nice in the summertime.

Whichever way you choose, make sure you are giving your flowers a shot at living a long life by giving them the light and water they need to thrive. I like to keep mine in mason jars and change the water every three days. I also find that the windowsill is too strong a sun spot for my plants, so I keep mine in the center of the room to take some of the heat off.

 

Playing with Flowers

Playing with Flowers by caseyblatt featuring a silk rose bouquet

Gourmet at Home: Lean Turkey Lettuce Wraps

lean turkey lettuce wraps

It is no secret that PF Changs is famous for their deeeelish minced chicken lettuce cups. They are exotic and flavorful, and relatively guilt-free. Unless you are like me and have a “thing” about overly saucy dishes… Don’t get me wrong, a sauce can totally make a dish. But many of the sauces used in Asian cooking are loaded with gluten and sodium, both big no-no’s. But by skipping takeout and getting creative, you too can enjoy these tasty treats without worrying about all the dirty little secrets you are consuming.

These lean little lettuce cups are only 90 calories each and significantly lower in both sodium and sugar due to the alternative protein and reduced amount of sauce used. Feel good about what you have made, and enjoy every last bite, because you won’t have to slave away at the gym to make up for it.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 lb. fat-free lean ground turkey *note: I used thigh meat because it was fresher and the butcher said it would taste much better – and he was right!*

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/8 tsp ground ginger

2/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (about 4)

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped

12 boston or butter lettuce leaves

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp roasted red chili paste

a pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for about 6 minutes or until turkey is browned.

2. Combine turkey mixture, onions and chopped water chestnuts in a large bowl. Stir well, and set aside.

3. Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together hoisin, soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili paste and drizzle over turkey meat. Toss to coat completely.

4. Add about 1/4 cup of turkey mixture to each lettuce leaf, serve with steamed white rice and enjoy!

asian lettuce cups

lean turkey lettuce wraps

lean turkey lettuce wraps

lean turkey lettuce wraps

to travel is to live

Southern Style BLT’s

blt biscuits

I draw a lot of inspiration from many mags and sites, but I think AllRecipes is my favorite of all. Whenever I am bored with what’s in my fridge or out of ideas, I just get lost in the digital catalog of delicious/authentic/comforting/creative dishes. My success rate with AllRecipes is pretty high, so when I stumbled across this diddy, I knew I was onto something great.

Let me set the scene: it’s a snowy, freezing cold day in Connecticut. My boyfriend, his family and I were on our second round of missed flights, and we had been cooking elaborate meals for days thinking we would be leaving town. Seeking something quick, easy and warm for lunch, I started trolling AllRecipes in search of something that would comfort us in the cold… and impress the ‘rents of course.

So I came up on the genius idea to make BLT Biscuits. There is something about a biscuit that just warms the soul – or maybe it’s just my southern upbringing. My Aunt Woowa used to hand press her biscuits with lilly white flour. Her soft little hands would guide me through the process and then voila! Biscuits were born! And then slathered with butter, jam, gravy, you name it.

Unfortunately, lilly white flour is not available in this part of the country, and we were in a pinch. So Pillsbury had to do. And surprisingly, they were great! Cheap, convenient, and the perfect size for a high pile of B, L and T.

The key to making these is baking the bacon in the oven – trust me, it makes a HUGE difference!

fixins

pillsbury biscuits

baked bacon

blt biscuits

Heavy Jam Sesh

mixed berry jam

It’s amazing to me that even while the rest of the country is freezing their buns off, we still have it so easy here in San Diego. Sure it’s no surprise that we have pretty perfect weather, world renowned waves and an active lifestyle, but we reap the benefits of nature’s wonders in less superficial ways too. Our valleys are caked with crops, boasting some of the finest fruits and vegetables in the country. In no other state is the occupation of a farmer as popular, and in no other state can you get plentiful produce year round.

My aunt likes to spend her down time celebrating these gifts from the earth with her amazing cooking. Her dishes are vibrant, well balanced and always changing, but every fall I look most forward to her pear preserves. She has explained to me how easy they are to make, that any fruit can really be preserved. I filed the thought away for a rainy day, until I found some inspiration in an unexpected place.

My boyfriend and I took a bike ride to our local produce stand to pick up some veggies for dinner, and there were stacks of cartons of sweet berries at an insanely affordable price, glowing in the summer-like sun. I began researching different jam recipes that day, and after pondering many different varieties, I stuck with my guns and planned to make some simple mixed berry jam – without pectin [ick]

**side note: pectin is a soluble gelatinous polysaccharide [aka carbs] that is present in ripe fruits and is extracted for use as a setting agent in jams and jellies. There are already carbs in fruit, so adding pectin – although helpful – makes jam stick to your ass. Luckily, there are good people in the world who avoid using pectin in lieu of more natural ingredients and processes.

Valentine’s Day was right around the corner, and I wanted to spread some love to my friends – no pun intended. Rarely do I use jam in my own life, however PB&J is one of my guiltiest pleasures, and it’s a great thing to have in the fridge if you have guests over for brunch.

I carved out a few hours to make my first batch of homemade jam, but discovered it was a lot easier and more fun than I had expected. Sure, my jam could have thickened a little more, but most of my friends finished their jars before the end of the month, so maybe I will keep my version of the recipe exactly how it is :)

Ingredients

4 cups each of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries

3 cups of sugar

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions

Have ready 8 hot, sterilized half-pint jars and their lids. I boiled mine ahead of time, and then popped them into a baking dish and kept them warm in the oven @ 250 degrees while I made the jam ;)

In a large non-reactive saucepan, gently stir together all of the ingredients. Bring saucepan to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently. The original recipe said it should take about 15 minutes for the jam to thicken. I went for about 30 – 45 minutes and it probably could have stayed on longer.

Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 in. of headspace. Wipe the rims clean and seal the lids on tightly.

Place the jars in a bath of boiling water for ten minutes. They can go right into the pantry from there, but must be refrigerated once opened. Enjoy on your favorite gluten free pastry, pancakes, or in a good ol fashioned PB&J.

natural sweeteners

who needs artificial sweeteners when you’ve got the good stuff?

jam jars

Just Peachy berries

blueberries

fresh berries

bubblin berries

playing with burlap

berry special gifts

homemade berry jam

friday vibes

 

living-with-passion-and-purpose-quote-maya-angelou

DIY To Do List!

DIY To Do List!

DIY To Do List! by caseyblatt featuring driftwood home decor

Home decor
artificialplantsandtrees.com

Bamboo utensil
dotandbo.com

GreenGate jelly jar
$2.50 - occa-home.co.uk

Loving the Pioneer Woman and her Southern Sweetness

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

There is something about the Pioneer Woman that reminds me of the cooks in my family. Whether it is her sweet southern demeanor or her knack for making classic comfort foods, I always find myself turning to her for my not-so-healthy-but-raveworthy-recipes.

I was so sick of chicken breast the past couple weeks, I completely ODed. My old roommate was more comfortable cooking with chicken thighs, which I found to be surprisingly delicious (I was always more of a white meat girl, but chicken thighs changed my perspective forever). As I was sitting at the car dealership a couple weeks ago with my dad, I was watching the Pioneer Woman in all her glory at the local super store, stocking up on chicken thighs. I was so eager to see what she was going to make, that I actually hung out in the dealership lobby a little longer after the car was done just to watch LOL.

Long story short, I found the most finger lickin chicken thigh recipe in the land. All you need are some peach preserves, barbecue sauce, green onions and good ol fashion bourbon whiskey. The rest is pretty household stuff, but I did need to buy a new pot just to fit all these juicy thighs.

Ingredients (yields 6 servings)

12 whole chicken thighs

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 yellow onion, diced

1 1/2 cup whiskey

12 fl oz barbeque sauce

1 jar peach preserves

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp worcestershire sauce

4 cloves of garlic, peeled

3 whole green onions, sliced thin

Directions:

Preheat over to 300 degrees. Heat oil and butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Place chicken thighs, four at a time, in the pot (skin side down if yours have skin). Brown both sides, then set aside on a plate.

Pour off half of the grease in the pan, then return pan to stove. Add onions to the pan and stir, cooking for 2 mins. Pour whiskey into the pot, being careful if you’re using an open flame. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan, allowing the whiskey to reduce for a couple of minutes. Pour in bbq sauce, peach preserves, water and worcestershire sauce. Throw in the whole, peeled garlic cloves. Stir until combined, then return the chicken to the pot (skin side up). Cover and put pot in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Used the sliced green onion as a garnish, and serve with your favorite potatoes, quinoa and/or greens!

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

rustic roasted reds

chicken paired with rustic roasted red potatoes w/ s+p

getting nerdy with my fitness

You know what the hardest part of working out is?

Holding yourself accountable.

Seriously, any other excuse is basically an extension of this principle. Can’t get out of bed… don’t have time today… I’m too sore… blah blahh blahhh. Holding yourself accountable can be tough, but there are great tools these days to help us with this problem.

Between apps and social media, we can track every morsel we intake and every calorie we burn. We can break down our BMI with the click of a mouse. We can create fitness goals to help us continuously strive to be better. We can share these goals and hold each other accountable for our achievements and mistakes.

But programs entirely reliant on the users data entry don’t work. At least not in my experience. I need something that is a constant reminder of what I have set out to accomplish and a tool to help track my day to day activity between work, sleep and incessant errands.

Meet my new bff, my fitbit.

fitbit flex

I love this little rubber wristlet. Granted, you do have to input details of your diet and workouts, but it tracks my steps, monitors my sleep, is waterproof, and comes in a bunch of cute colors. I have the flex in this teal blue, which has the smallest screen and the slimmest look. My bf got them as a gift for us both, and because we are friends on fitbit, can now motivate each other to walk more, eat better, get to bed earlier.

I hate fad diets, and prefer lifestyle adjustments. Along with some other stuff I will be incorporating into my everyday life, this will help me see where I am at on a regular basis and figure out how to exceed those goals.

Fitbit-Flex-app-2-thumb-447x296-58677

FitBit_Flex-Sleep2

For instance, I log around 8k – 10k steps a day when I am working a full shift and either run a few errands or hit the gym for an hour. On a sick day (which I have unfortunately had a few of post-sinus op), I barely walk 3k. But I already know I have a long road ahead of me now that I’m in the clear to work out again, so this is a great tool for me to find out the best routine for myself.

Tracking sleep is also super cool. I thought I woke up a lot on a night where I stirred 4 or 5 times. On average, I wake up 11 times a night! I have yet to figure out how this little rubber band can determine the difference between light sleep and REM sleep, but I am already going to sleep earlier, and the daily hydration goal helps me sleep much better – especially when I’m sick.

I just got my first 15k step badge and can’t wait for the next one! What types of programs do you use to hold yourself accountable for your health??

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