Happy National Donut Day!

While I personally think that the countless “holidays” celebrating just about everything under the sun have gotten out of hand, National Donut Day is one that I can definitely get behind. And it’s a legitimate reason to celebrate, not just an excuse to eat donuts at all three meals. According to the history book better known as Wikipedia, National Donut Day was created by The Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the men and women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I. So in honor of the 77th celebration of this day, which is always celebrated on the first Friday in June, I’ve been reviewing this list from Fodor’s Travel of the Top 10 Donut Shops in the United States.  I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting two of these shops – Federal Donuts in Philadelphia and Voodoo Doughnut in Portland – but that means I still have eight delicious donut holes in the wall to visit. See what I did there? I fully intend to post full reviews in the future but for now, enjoy the photos below and have a very Happy Donut Day!

voodoofederal

Love and sprinkles,

mm

p.s Currently coveting this float for my next beach getaway if anyone is looking for the perfect donut day present. xo

You Won’t Even Miss the Booze

Well, that’s a lie. But we had to rope you in with something. In all honesty, when you’re on Whole 30, Paleo, or whatever kind of healthy living journey you may be on, finding something refreshing and tasty that will make you forget that glass of wine or summer evening cocktail isn’t easy. But that’s where LaCroix is going to rock your world.

LaCroix sparkling water comes in approximately one thousand flavors. It’s bubbly, refreshing, affordable, and had been known to kick the worst cravings for a pina colada. Wait, does anyone else get those? The best news is that it’s totally Whole 30 compliant! Oh, and it’s made in the USA, so it’s kind of the patriotic thing to do.

LaCroix

Real life fridge pic.

The packaging is super colorful and kind of screams 90s to me, which makes it even more fun. My favorite flavors thus far are coconut and grapefruit. The coconut tastes rich and creamy even though it’s just water. And I’m crazy about anything grapefruity. So, if you’re looking for something different to drink that isn’t the hard stuff or fulls of lots of sugar, pick up a case of LaCroix. It’s sold at most chain grocery stores. You can make a mean mocktail or just drink it on it’s own. But, LaCroix also makes a great tastes great in a real cocktail, too…for those of you interested in that kind of thing. Just sayin’. Enjoy!

*LaCroix didn’t ask us to write this post. We did it out of the kindness of our own hearts.

Nothing Beats a Cold Brew (coffee)

For a fair share of us, coffee is the life blood. It’s a vital part of a workday if you want to communicate like a sane person and no weekend brunch is complete without at least four beverages, coffee included. When it gets a little warmer out, there’s nothing like a refreshing iced coffee. I’m not talking about any run of the mill iced coffee. I mean the cold brew varietal.

It’s so easy to make at home. And budget-friendly since you’re not forking over $4,000 each day for one cup of coffee. Here’s a quick recipe from our friends at Whole Foods Market (well, we would like to be their friends…):

Ingredients: 3/4 cup medium-roast coffee beans, coarsely ground (or finely ground, we aren’t picky); Coffee filter and/or large (34-ounce) French press

How It’s Done: Scoop the coffee into a large bowl or a French Press. Pour in three cups of room temp water. Let is perolate for 10 minutes. Stir. Then cover that bad boy for about 12 hours or overnight. Line a fine mesh strainer with a coffee filter. Slowly pour coffee through strainer/filter combo into a pitcher. If you’re using a French Press, you know what to do. You can serve it immediately or keep it in the fridge for up to three days. For each cup, pour one part coffee and one part water or milk over ice. Just remember that sugar won’t really disolve into this. So, either use simple syrup or just try it black – you’d be surprised at how good coffee can taste sans milk or sugar!

Now, if you don’t have time to make it at home. (No judgement here!) Starbucks has a pretty tasty cold brew coffee right now. It’s mellow and not bitter or reminiscent of battery acid like the other iced coffee they serve. Sometimes you can’t beat convenience. Plus, it’s Corgi approved.

photo 2 (1)

Thanks, Mister Walter Bates!

The Tale of the Easiest Whole30 Meal Ever

If you’ve ever done Whole30 or tried your hand at clean eating for an extended amount of time, you know that it involves tons of cooking. The dishes start to pile up and sometimes it’s hard to find the sink, a clean pan, or the motivation to fire up the stove. If you didn’t know that, you just learned something free of charge. You’re welcome.

When you feel like cooking is torture and you can only find one clean pan, no fear. That’s where the easiest Whole30 meal ever comes into play, and it’s so delicious.

Aidell's

Here’s the lineup:

1 package Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage

1 medium/large sweet potato

1 medium yellow onion

1 apple (pick your favorite, but Granny Smiths add some nice tartness!)

1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil

Salt/Pepper

Chop everything up. Throw the coconut oil into a large skillet on medium/high heat. Toss in the ingredients. Cook everything for about 10 minutes or until done. It can vary, but when everything is soft, it’s done. Season with salt and pepper.

It’s so easy! The hard part is trying not to eat the entire dish in one sitting. If you need some more veggies in the mix, roast some broccoli florets. A little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet at 450 degrees for about 15-20 minutes depending on how crispy you like it.

Enjoy!

-bb 

P.S. Aidell’s doesn’t pay me to hawk their products, I just like them more than anything else out there. But if they wanted to do so, I wouldn’t say no…

Chillin’ at the Days Inn

But more accurately, eating Chinese food at the Days Inn. Sounds weird. And there is no denying that Panda Gourmet is in fact a weird place. An alternate universe where you don’t really know what’s happening around you. But it’s also delicious and kind of magical in it’s own little way. After reading the Washington Post review of this hidden gem well off the beaten path in D.C., we knew it was our kind of place. The frills are minimal. If you’re looking for fine dining or some kind of Asian fusion, this place is not for you. This joint has the basics and they do them well.

Days Inn

It’s a real place.

Fancy Decor

Authentic Decor?

The outside is unimpressive. Need I remind you that it’s a Days Inn? In way NE D.C.?  The decor explains itself.

Self Portrait: Eat ALL the noodles!

Self Portrait: Eat ALL the noodles!

MM and I needed a good meal after a night of revelry. Chinese food is normally a good cure, and Panda Gourmet certainly delivered. Needless to say we were a bit ravenous. No pictures were taken of the actual food. I can’t remember what we ate. But it was a lot. Dumplings, noodles, chicken, appetizers. We pretty much sampled it all – it’s our duty to make sure you’re well-informed. It was all really good – better than most of the Chinese I’ve had in D.C.

photo 1 (4)

MM was overwhelmed by all that was Panda Gourmet.

To (dim) sum it up, if you’re looking for an adventure, add Panda Gourmet to the list. Nothing beats a hot date at the Days Inn.

-bb

Snack Time: Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Remember those slimy pumpkin innards from the other day? Good. We’re going to eat them now, and you’re going to (hopefully) like it. They are an easy snack for a party, the lunch box, or just to eat while watching hours of Gilmore Girls. They’re best hot – right out of the oven – but you can store them in a plastic bag or container for a few days, too!

Step 1 – Rinse the seeds to remove any leftover pumpkin and dry them on a towel.

Pumpkin Guts

Step 2 – In a bowl, add all of the spices to the seeds. For one cup of seeds, I used ½ tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon garlic powder (less if you want). If you want a sweeter treat, try using butter, sugar, and cinnamon instead. Or you could do a rosemary/thyme varietal. Mix it all together.

Seasoning

Step 3 – Spread them in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or until done, watching closely and shaking about halfway through. Congratulations. You just made the easiest snack ever. Enjoy!

photo 3 (1) photo 4 (1)

-bb

So you have all those pumpkins…

Sure, they were nice for Halloween and Thanksgiving. But let’s be honest – those pumpkins just don’t have a home in your nativity scene or under the Christmas tree. Never fear – donuts & denim to the rescue!

Super Easy Homemade Pumpkin Puree

There are some things that are just easier to buy pre-made. I’m all for shortcuts that make life easier. But making your own pumpkin puree is as easy as pie! (Seriously, if I can do it…anyone can.) Normally, I just throw my fall decorations out. However, this year it was my goal to actually DO something with them. It’s a really quick process and the end result can be used in all kinds of cuisine. I’m going to use mine for smoothies, cookies, pies – it’s hard to say what will happen!

Step 1 – Greet your little pumpkin. I liked using a smaller one to keep it more manageable. But if you have a 20 pounder, go for it. May the Great Pumpkin be with you.  Lop off his top. He won’t feel a thing.

Headless Pumpkin

Step 2 – Cut the pumpkin in half and then in quarters.

Pumpkin Quarters

Step 3 – Now comes the fun (slimy) part. Use a spoon (I used an ice cream scoop) to scrape out the seeds and innards of your pumpkin pal. Try to get out as much of the stringy stuff as possible. But if you can’t get it all, don’t sweat it. But save those slimy seeds. Believe me, you want to.

I've been gutting pumpkins like a boss since the late '80s. Listen to a pro.

I’ve been gutting pumpkins like a boss since the late ’80s. Listen to a pro. Using a scoop will help avoid getting those green sweatpants dirty.

Step 4 – Roast the heck out of the pumpkin. Place the quarters on a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender when poked with a fork. While you wait, dance around to Taylor Swift.

Roasting Pumpkins

Ignore how terrible this picture is, please.

Step 5 – Let the little guy cool. This step is for your safety. I learned this lesson so you don’t have to sacrifice your finger pads. After 10 minutes or so, the skin of the pumpkin will be easy to just peel off. You might need a knife to help.

Skinning Pumpkin

Step 6 – Cut up the pumpkin and toss it in your food processor, Vitamix, blender or just mash it up in a bowl. If it’s a little dry, add in a few tablespoons of water. The Vitamix works magic. But more on that later.

Vitamix

Vitamix = ❤

Step 7 – Once it’s pureed, distribute the pumpkin to freezer bags or another container. Make sure you put measurable portions in each bag so you know how much you are working with later. Freeze it, use it now – regardless of what you do, enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Ta-da! Easy, right?

Ta-da! Easy, right?

**Thanks to Pioneer Woman for guiding me through this entire pumpkin puree journey.

-bb