September 25, 2020

Five Ingredient Friday: Pumpkin Chicken Sausage Pasta

When Al Fresco asked me to participate in a Five Ingredient Challenge using their fully cooked dinner chicken sausage, I knew I had to create a cozy pumpkin dish (I know, so basic!) to celebrate the start of Fall. And wow, I'm going to be making this dish all season, especially when I need a quick and easy weeknight meal!

It's not only the simplest recipe that uses ingredients you likely already have in your pantry and fridge, it's also so delicious, creamy and cheesy! Who knew a five ingredient recipe could be so flavorful! This recipe is also pretty adaptable to utilize whatever healthy ingredients you have on hand.

I used rotini pasta, since I always have rotini on hand, but you can use any kind of pasta for this recipe. You can also use different blends of shredded cheeses. And if you want to sneak in some greens, you can easily add them in! Plus, if you love spicy food like me, you can give it a kick of heat with crushed red pepper flakes.

Al Fresco's fully cooked dinner sausage is an ingredient I always keep on hand in my freezer or fridge. Not only do they have delicious flavors, they're easy additions to pasta, salad, pizza, breakfast scrambles etc. So far this recipe is my absolute favorite use of their chicken sausage! I really hope you give this a try and let me know what you think!

PUMPKIN CHICKEN SAUSAGE PASTA

Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (16 oz) of Rotini Pasta, uncooked (You can use any kind of pasta you have on hand)
  • 4 Al Fresco fully cooked Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage links, slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup fat free half and half
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (You can use any blend of Monterey Jack, mild cheddar, mozzarella, and/or parmesan)
  • Optional: Spinach or any kind of greens you have on hand (ex: broccoli, asparagus)
  • Optional: Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste, for a spicy kick

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta per directions on the box. Once cooked, drain, run under cold water so pasta doesn't stick and set aside
  2. In a non-stick pan or skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Once oil is glistening, add chicken sausage rounds and cook for about 5 minutes. Occasionally stirring so both sides of rounds brown.
  3. Once sausage is browned, add pumpkin puree, half and half, cheese, and optional crushed red pepper flakes and greens. Stir and cook until heated through. 
  4. Add drained pasta to pan and combine.
  5. Enjoy!

#5withalfresco #ad

August 31, 2020

Sweet & Spicy Popcorn Shrimp Dinner

 

Meal prep. Anyone consider themselves adept at meal prepping? If you do, please send me your tips my way! I wish I was good at planning my meals for the week, then grocery shop with those specific meals in mind and never having to feel the panic of not knowing what meal I was going to make for work the next day. But, I've learned to make sure I shop for a variety of vegetables and protein. Some fresh and some frozen or canned, so I have a variety of food to work with when I cook last minute.

My go-to last minute meals are sheet pan meals. I love that they require very little prep, leave only a few dishes and utensils to wash and are simple and quick. 

I'm excited to partner with Gorton's Seafood again to share a sheet pan meal using their delicious popcorn shrimp! As I mentioned in my Shrimp Tacos recipe post, Gorton's Popcorn Shrimp is preserved for freshness, non-GMO and full of good protein, vitamins and minerals. I try to always have their popcorn shrimp in my freezer since it's so easy to create a variety of delicious snack or mealtime recipes with it!


This sweet and spicy popcorn shrimp sheet pan meal is simple and full of flavor! I love serving it over rice, but you can serve it over plain noodles or by itself. It's a great recipe for dinner parties or for everyday meals. And leftovers can be packed up for work the next couple days! You can swap out the vegetables for anything else too (snap peas, asparagus, etc). Let me know what you think of the recipe if you give it a try!

SWEET & SPICY POPCORN SHRIMP

Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients:
  • Gorton's Popcorn Shrimp (I used about 3/4 of a package)
  • 1 head of broccoli cut into florets
  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (or spray cooking oil)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425F
  2. In a small bowl, mix garlic, sweet Thai chili sauce, Sriracha and honey until well combined.
  3. Spread out vegetables on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables. Toss to coat.
  4. Add Gorton's Popcorn Shrimp to baking sheet. Drizzle sweet and spicy sauce over shrimp and vegetables. Toss to coat.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. Tips of florets should be browned.
  6. Enjoy!

August 28, 2020

Tie-Dye Whimsy

 

I've been wanting to share this whimsical tie-dye dress, but haven't had the energy or time to sit and write a blog post. What a wild season these 6 months have been! So here's this look without any deep thoughts tied to it. I want to say, "I'll come back to write something here one day in the future", but we all know that likely isn't going to happen. But here's a reminder I've been needing to hear a lot: You are enough and you are so loved!!








August 9, 2020

SHRIMP TACOS

Happy August! It's wild to think that we are about to face month SIX of quarantine. If I had to quickly sum up each month, this is what I'd say.

Month one - two: As I'm sure was the case for everyone, the start of quarantine was rough. I thought time would pass by really slowly. 

Month three: I felt like I was getting into a rhythm. But then everything kept changing as we stepped through each phase.

Month four - five: Life got crazy as people were adjusting to the "new normal" and cases of COVID kept climbing.

We will see what month six brings! But one thing that remained the same throughout quarantine life was how much more cooking I was able to do. And my love for tacos and seafood never waned.

I've made many variations of tacos throughout this season, and the newest variation is one of my favorites because it incorporates shrimp. I'm excited to collaborate with Gorton's Shrimp since their products are delicious. Plus, they are often a freezer staple in my house because they make food prep super simple!*

Gorton's shrimp is great to keep in your freezer since it's preserved for freshness. I can easily cook up a smaller portion of the package for a snack or a larger portion for a shared meal. Lately I've also been focusing on eating foods that are filled with goodness. Gorton's Shrimp is filled with protein, vitamins and minerals for immunity boosting. Plus, it's non-GMO!

This shrimp taco recipe is perfect on a summer day! It's topped with mango salsa and sriracha sauce for a sweet and spicy kick.

SHRIMP TACOS:

Serves 2 people

Ingredients:

  • Flour/Corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage/lettuce
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced mango
  • 1/4 small red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced into small pieces
  • Lime juice
  • Small bunch of cilantro, minced
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced/diced
  • Gorton's Popcorn Shrimp
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
Directions:
  1. Prepare Gorton's Popcorn Shrimp as directed on package.
  2. In a small bowl, make salsa by combining tomatoes, mango, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro and lime juice.
  3. In another small bowl, make Sriracha sauce by combining sour cream and Sriracha.
  4. Warm tortillas over the stove until browned.
  5. Top tortillas with cabbage/lettuce, salsa, avocados, as much shrimp as desired, then drizzle on Sriracha sauce. 
  6. Add a squeeze of lime and enjoy!
Let me know what you think of this recipe if you try it!
*Sponsored by: Gorton's Shrimp

March 18, 2020

SWEET FREEDOM


**This post was supposed to be published the week of the Fourth of July...of 2019, but being in the middle of the ocean without internet at the time thwarted my plans since it never actually published when I hit the "publish" button. And yes, it is March of 2020, but this is a post worthy to be read & shared any time of the year, so here it is! I've also added some more to this post regarding current events in light of the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic in italics. Also, crazy to think that I was on a cruise ship when I originally wrote this post.**

Freedom sure is sweet!

All of my life, I have lived a life of freedom. But often I forgot to acknowledge and appreciate my freedom. I thought I lacked freedom when I had to follow my parents' rules. I thought I lacked freedom when I had to sit in a classroom and listen to my teachers. I thought I lacked freedom when I was enduring 30 hour calls during residency. I have fleeting thoughts that I lack freedom when I'm confined to my home during social distancing.

But in reality, I have had all of the freedoms. The freedom to play outside, the freedom to learn, the freedom to speak my heart, the freedom to love, the freedom to choose my career, the freedom to travel, etc.

Many years ago, my eyes were opened to the injustices that 40+ million people around the world face as they live as modern-day slaves. And it is not only happening in developing countries. It is happening in your own cities and backyards!

Human trafficking is an injustice that we need to stop turning our faces away from and fight for the freedoms of these people. When it comes to issues this large, it often seems daunting to face. What can I, a young woman living in the land of the free, do to bring an end to human trafficking? Where does one even start?

Well, good news! There are many organizations doing so much good around the world. I know that there can be a lot of negative connotations when we think of organizations moving into developing areas, because many times, these organizations are doing more harm than good unintentionally.

However, there are SO many incredible organizations helping instead of hurting. They are rescuing men, women and children from slavery. They are providing safe homes for those rescued. They are providing resources to help them recover from the horrors they faced and bring them hope with therapy, training and jobs. They are spurring on governments and law enforcement to crack down on perpetrators of human trafficking.

Some of my favorite organizations that I support are:


While some may feel confined or feel like it's "unfair" to be told to stay home, remember that we are SO blessed to have the freedoms we do have. We can still vote for our leaders, we can still learn, we can still choose our careers, we can still go outside for a walk, we can still speak freely without fear of being incarcerated or beaten or killed, etc. And we will again have the freedom to travel the world, to eat out at restaurants and to meet with friends. But for now, we have the freedom to love others well by making wise decisions about where we go, who we are around and choosing to stay put. I've found it helpful to start each day with thankfulness and focusing on what I DO have instead of the restrictions I may be facing. Today I'm thankful for my freedoms, my health, for Facetime, for my community, for my friends and family who have been texting/calling to encourage me and pray over me as I go to work and care for patients in this time, and that my grandparents are still healthy and can still smile through this season of life.

Some friends have also reached out to me asking about how they can help those in need during this time or have given me information about which organizations need our help from afar. So I compiled a list and will be adding more as I find more:









Photography: Ashlee O'Neil

December 10, 2019

GRAPE AND GRAIN TOURS


I can't remember when I've last (or ever) taken a day trip that was absolutely stress free and so much fun! This past weekend I had the chance to go on a day trip from Chicago to visit three amazing Michigan wineries with Grape and Grain Tours

Why was it stress free? Because Grape and Grain Tours does all the leg work for you before and during your trip! They help personalize the trip to your wishes and provide your group with a driver/tour guide and a comfy private shuttle to take you safely from Chicago to the wineries and back to Chicago. Your driver will even carry all of your wine/product purchases for you from the winery to the shuttle so you don't have to lift a finger. Sounds too good to be true, but it is true!

Our day started with a smooth ride from Chicago to our first stop, Tabor Hill Winery. Our driver, Tami, even shared some history of the wineries on the way. Did you know Michigan is the fifth largest wine producer in the US? I had no idea! But I also had no idea there were so many incredible wineries so close to Chicago!


We had our first tasting at Tabor Hill Winery. They have a large selection of wines and their wines were even served at the White House for years! How incredible is that? But I'm not surprised. Their Classic Demi-Sec is one of my new favorite wines. It is a semi-dry white wine and perfect for any occasion. The Cabernet Sauvignon is also one of the best reds I have ever had. Our entire group agreed on that.



We also had lunch at Tabor Hill's restaurant, which I highly recommend. The Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich is incredible and their most popular menu item. I would eat it every day if I could! Plus their sweet potato chips are delicious and super addictive!


After lunch, we set off to our next winery, Free Run Cellars. This is a small batch winery. They only make about 50-60 cases of each wine. I loved the relaxed feel of the tasting room. Groups around us were enjoying their wine tastings with charcuterie. 



Our last stop was Round Barn. This place definitely has a younger and fun vibe. I highly recommend it if you are going with friends or for a bachelor or bachelorette party. They also host concerts in the summertime. I loved that they have wines, spirits and beers. So it can appeal to any palate. My favorite tastings were their creams. The Black Walnut or the Salted Caramel Creams are a must-try here! They also have cans of Red Sangria and Peach Bellini which I also enjoyed.



What a fun day! I hope there will be another day trip with Grape and Grain Tours in my near future! Do you prefer beer over wine? There are also breweries in the same area! So you can definitely plan a brewery trip instead!

November 15, 2019

ELEGANTEES JOANNA DRESS


Friends, I am back from a very long hiatus here to celebrate something very exciting!!!

Today is the LAUNCH DAY of a new Elegantees dress I designed for the Holidays! The Joanna Dress!

If you were following me a year ago, you probably remember that I had the incredible opportunity to design an entire Holiday collection for Elegantees last year. It was my design debut and a dream come true. I learned so much about the design process and I had so much fun! Thank you for all of your support during such an exciting time!

And so when Katie, founder of Elegantees, asked me to design another piece this year, it was a no-brainer. Of course! I knew instantly that I wanted to create a beautiful dress that would be versatile for everyday wear and Holiday soirées. And so the Joanna Dress came to life!

To give you a quick refresher about why I LOVE Elegantees so much...
Elegantees is near and dear to my heart because they not only create beautiful pieces of clothing, but their mission is so incredible! They partner with Our Daughters International, an organization working to rescue girls from the horrors of sex trafficking in Nepal. They not only save them, but also give these girls hope for a new life through counseling. Elegantees steps in by providing a hand up to these girls by giving them a job as seamstresses and pay them a fair wage. Also, the profits from each item you buy will help fund more rescue operations and bring hope to thousands of girls!

I hope you will consider supporting Elegantees' work by purchasing the Joanna Dress and any other items from the Elegantees shop! Plus, you can get 15% OFF your order with code GRACEINSTYLE!

The Joanna Dress went through a couple iterations before I felt it was perfect. From the start, I knew I wanted something a little more "grown up" from some of the more playful designs from my last collection. I also knew I wanted some kind of wrap design. And I'm so happy how the dress turned out! I'm obsessed with the beautiful tulip hemline, the draping of the wrap skirt and the bow-tie wrap details. Also, the slight puff of the shoulders adds more charm to the look.

The dress is available in 2 gorgeous colors: Burgundy and Teal Ocean!

For this post, I styled the dress three ways to give you an idea of how I imagine others styling it and how you can add this dress to your everyday and special occasion wardrobe.

STYLED FOR WORK: Pair the dress with a pair of leggings or opaque tights for a more conservative look for work. I am wearing black booties, but you can also wear pumps, flats, or knee boots for the work place setting. Warm up with your favorite peacoat or winter jacket, and you're good to go! Dresses are my favorite work wear because I don't have to stress about pairing a top and bottom when I'm running late or too tired.




STYLED FOR THE WEEKEND/CHURCH: Want to take the dress for a spin for a casual outing? You can also wear tights or leggings for these occasions, but you don't have to if the weather isn't freezing or if you want to wear your knee-high boots. You can even wear it with over-the-knee boots as well. I paired mine with my favorite ankle booties and a teddy coat.





STYLED FOR A HOLIDAY PARTY: I actually designed this dress with Holiday events and parties in mind. This dress can be worn for Thanksgiving because the fabric definitely has stretch to make room for a food baby and is comfortable enough to wear during your food coma nap. It would also be a perfect Holiday party dress and is simple to dress up with some statement jewelry, heels and a cute clutch!




I really hope you love this dress as much as I do! Let me know in the comments below! And don't forget to use code GRACEINSTYLE to get 15% off your orders :)

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Ayaka Sano

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