White Trash Potatoes (aka Potluck Potatoes or Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes)

Whenever I go to a BBQ or cookout I always bring my tried and true White Trash Potatoes.  There are three things I LOVE about this recipe which becomes a favorite at all cookouts I attend: 

1. They are super fast and easy to make
2. They are delicious
3. They are always a crowd pleaser.  I have yet to take any home after a BBQ.

Now, these are not Paleo friendly, they are not Raw, they are not low carb and I would guess that a generous serving would all but obliterate your Weight Watchers points. So in a word - these are awesome!  

I should also add that my family loves these as well so don't feel like you need to wait for a potluck to make these.  I have been known to make a batch and freeze half and bake the other half.  When frozen I increase the cooking time about 20 minutes until they are warm in the center. 

White Trash Potatoes
2 lb. frozen hash browns, thawed
1/2 c. diced onions
1 c. cream of chicken soup
1 c. sour cream
1 stick melted butter
8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika


Mix all ingredients and add to potatoes.  Pour into a 9"x13" pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for one hour.  Can be made up to 2 days in advance before baking.

Here is a close up….YUM!

Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am a chocolate chip cookie freak.  They are definitely one of my favorite foods and I have to say that there is nothing I love more than eating them fresh out of the oven.  So incredibly good!   I have blogged about my tried and true chocolate chip cookie recipe here and still use this as my go to.  If you haven't tried it you must - they are foolproof and incredibly delicious.  Oh and you don't need to bust out a mixer - this one can be done completely by hand. :)

So since I am madly in love with chocolate chip cookies I am always eager to come up with a way to make them healthier.  I have combined numerous recipes to come up with my Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies that I think are pretty tasty.  My two boys even thought they were good and didn't complain when eating them asking what was wrong with them and why they tasted funny.   A couple of things to keep in mind - I used coconut oil as the fat, however if you chose to use melted butter that would work as well and would probably taste even more like chocolate chip cookies.  As for flour - I chose a combination of equal parts all-purpose white flour, whole wheat flour and coconut flour.  As long as you use 1 1/2 cups of flour you will be golden.  Just keep in mind that the flour you choose will affect the taste and texture.  By using the three I listed above they didn't have a heavy wheat taste and were very soft.

I hope you try these out and let me know what you think.  They are my new favorite skinny cookie and when I am trying to be good, I will whip up a batch of these instead of my full fat version.

Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour of choice (you can use all whole wheat or AP flour - I used a combination of coconut, whole wheat and AP flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. bakong powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. organic coconut oil, melted or 1/4 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. dark chocolate chips (more anti-oxidants!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl mix together coconut oil (or butter - whatever you choose), applesauce, sugars, egg, and vanilla.  Once combined, add flour mixture and stir just until incorporated.  Add chocolate chips.

If you have time, put the dough in the fridge for about an hour, if not put the dough in the fridge in between batches that are baking.  Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheet and bake for about 9-10 minutes.  Let cool.

Make approximately 36 cookies depending on the size of themm

Nude is the New Black

I love a good staple and nude shoes are an absolute must in my wardrobe.  Shoes in an au natural hue can brighten up a dark outfit and seamlessly bring a bold outfit together.

The more I wear them, the more I continue to fall in love with these versatile gems.  Here are some of my favorite nude stunners:

1. Valentino 'Rockstud' T-Strap Pump, $995 There is no question that these are a splurge and prior to purchasing these I contemplated the purchase for about 18 months.   I couldn't get these shoes out of my head so I eventually caved and made the purchase.  I can't begin to tell you how glad I made the investment.  These shoes take any outfit from drab to fab and are an instant conversation piece.  
2. Ivanka Trump 'Maggie' Pump, $129.95 Every girl needs a pair of open toe nude pumps.  These shoes can easily go from work to play and match just as beautifully with a conservative skirt suit as a pair of jeans and blouse.
3. Prada Point Toe Pump, $650.00 OK, another splurge but you will have these for decades!  Perfectly classy with a pointed toe that can take you from daytime chic to nighttime sexy no matter the outfit!
4. Jessica Simpson 'Carmyne' Leather Sandal, $97.95 I love the stacked heel and zipper detail on this shoe.  The slightly thicker heel makes heels easier to walk on (for me anyways) and the stacked heel also gives these shoes a more dressed down look that makes these perfect to wear with cropped jeans or shorts.
5. Charles David 'Intro' Leather Sandal, $200 A perfect combination of strappy and sexy, but since it isn't too high and is missing the platform this shoe is a perfect combination of classy with a slight edge.

Bobby Flay's Chocolate Coconut Granola

I am obsessed with food and love watching the Food Network and Cooking Channel.  One of my favorite shows to watch is Brunch at Bobby's and I felt my mouth watering uncontrollably during his episode titled Chocolate Brunch.  He made the most amazing Chocolate Coconut Granola and being the love of all things chocolate AND coconut I knew I had to make this.  

The ingredients are super simple and are items I always have on hand - a definite plus.  In addition, as with most granola recipes you can cater this one to your own preferences.  If you love coconut keep that in there, but if you don't you could always replace the coconut oil for vegetable oil and omit the coconut chips from the recipe.   The chocolate can always remain. :-)

My favorite ways to enjoy this granola is with a splash of your favorite kind of milk and strawberries, over greek yogurt or just on its own.  I love packing this in a small container as a healthy snack on the go.  Since there is lots of dark chocolate, almonds and oats this delicious treat is loaded with antioxidants, healthy carbs and protein for sustained energy.  Next time I think I will add some diced, dried mango or dried cherries to add a bit of tart to this already yummy treat.  Hopefully you will give this a try and let me know what you think. 

Bobby Flay's Chocolate Coconut Granola
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch sea salt
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. coconut extract
2 1/2 c. oats, slow cooked variety
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. shredded coconut or coconut chips
1/4 c. dark chocolate chips
1/4 c. white chocolate chips

Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees F.  Spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray and set aside. Combine the oats, almonds and coconut chips in a large bowl and set aside.
Heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder, honey, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and the sugar is completely melted; stir in the coconut and vanilla extracts.
Pour the warm cocoa mixture over the oat mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula until the oat mixture is completely coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. Bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and let sit in the warm oven for 30 minutes longer. Remove to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Break into bite-sized pieces, and toss with the bittersweet and white chocolate chips. 

Mini Bags, Cocktail Bags, Going-Out Bags - My Next Splurge

Whether it is a clutch or a mini bag every girl needs a stylish, versatile bag they can head to dinner with and/or a night out on the town.

I was in Vegas recently and used my favorite mini bag (shown above), this Louis Vuitton Favorite MM Mini Bag in Monogram Canvas.  I love this clutch for so many reasons - it's a classic, the bag comes with a small gold chain which has a 12" drop and a longer nude leather strap with a 24" drop.  The price is a splurge at $985, but I have used this bag so many times if I divide the uses by the cost it actually ends up being way cheaper than $100 bags I have purchased in the past.   I have had this bag for so many years I am coveting a few other splurge worthy bags.  Here are some of my favorites I have been eyeing (all come with removable straps so they can be used as a clutch or a shoulder bag): 

1. Louis Vuitton 
1. Saint Lauren Y Chain Wallet, $1150 This is definitely a splurge, but this bag could be used in my wardrobe FOREVER - in love with this one!  

2. Jimmy Choo 'Riane' Glimmer Lame Clutch, $725 I love this glittery clutch that is perfect for a big night out!  

3. Salvatore Ferragamo 'Miss Vara' Clutch Wallet, $675 I can't get over the dainty bow on this bag.  Like the other two it is a classic but the bow will be hard to pass up. 

4. Prada Tessuto Small Cross Body Bag, $410 What this bag lacks in detail it makes up for in sheer classic design appeal.  I can't imagine this bag ever going out of style.

When I finally do make a decision and purchase one of these beautiful bags (or if my husband wants to get me an awesome Anniversary gift!) I will be sure to let you know!  Let me know if you have any recommendations, I would love to hear them.