Starbucks on a Budget

If you are anything like me, you enjoy your daily ritual of coffee every morning. Whether it's black coffee, an americano, a frappuccino or a breve iced coffee with a splash of sweetener (my poison of choice), you need that liquid caffiene to get you going in the morning. However, as we all know, this coffee habit can get quite expensive. And although I normally drink coffee from home, I like to splurge every now and then and get specialty beverages. So behold, Starbucks from home (and I don't mean buying the bag of coffee).
Like how I used my Starbucks mug? Genius.
I am so glad I came up with this recipe, because as far as I can tell, it's the same darn thing as a Starbucks Mocha Frap. It's the perfect indulgence on a Saturday afternoon when you are craving something sweet, but don't want to eat a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies. (You know it's possible) I can't wait to get my blender back from Cuisinart (it's really cramping my style) so I can make this more often.

Add 1/2 cup cold coffee, 3 tablespoons sugar (or sweetener), 2/3 cup cold milk, 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup, and a handful of ice cubes in a blender and blend until smooth or ice chunks are virtually gone. Add a spoonful of Cool Whip on top and drizzle with more chocolate syrup.

This recipe gave me 2 grande sized servings, but you can always adjust the ingredients to make more or less. I really love this recipe, and I hope I can save you all a few bucks by making your own at home!  

Splurge vs Steal: Sequin Skirts

Haute Hippie / LC Lauren Conrad
This is a new topic I want to start featuring on a regular basis. I pride myself on being a thrifty shopper while staying on trend. Especially with trendy items, departments stores will start to manufacture similar items at rock bottom prices to entice consumers to shop at their stores. So I play the waiting game until those colored denim, peplum tops and leather pants are made and I scour the internet to find the perfect combination of price, quality and longevity. 

This first featurette comes from a recent trip to Kohls. I was in the area and popped on in and left a very happy shopper. Other than this black matte sequin skirt I got for a mere $13 (you read that right), I also scored a pair of LC Lauren Conrad booties and a pair of Simply Vera Vera Wang Leather Leggings for $5! I will post the leather leggings in a future Splurge vs Steal feature.  

Sequin skirts have been on trend for a few seasons now, and I can't see them going out of style any time soon. The perfect thing about the sequin trend is that they aren't just for New Years anymore. You can pair the skirt with a white t-shirt, a chambray, or a classic button up as an alternative to a pencil skirt. The sparkle of the sequin gives you that added femininity and pop of chicness that will definitely turn many heads.

Do you own a sequin skirt? Where did you get it and what do you wear it with?

Healthy Banana Oat Muffins

I have been on a serious kick lately. I have an addiction. And that addiction is to muffins. Yep. Freshly made, banana oat muffins. More specifically, the recipe I am about to provide to you. I've made these muffins 3 times since I found the recipe, and unfortunately, my last time around I broke my food processor so I am out of commission until Cusinart fixes it. It's going to be a long few weeks, to say the least. Hopefully you all can make them in the interim, and send me some my way. Please and thanks!

-2.5 cups old fashioned oats
- 1 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt (I use Trader Joes Vanilla low fat Greek yogurt because it's the yogurt I always have on hand)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup honey OR 3/4 cup sugar (depending on preference)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed (I buy mine at Trader Joes and I love it! Great way to get extra health benefits)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 ripe bananas (when they have a lot of brown spots, and are a tad mushy, they're perfect)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
2. Place the oats in the food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds. Add remaining ingredients to the food processor.
3. Process until everything is mixed together and smooth. Because of the flax seed and oats, the batter won't be completely smooth, but as long as everything is incorporated.
4. At this point, you can add walnuts and/or chocolate chips. I add both to mine, about 1/2 cup each. Mix well.
5. Divide mixture into muffin tins. I usually have some batter left over, so I put some in a bread pan, and make a mini banana bread. :)
6. Bake for 18-10 minutes. 
7. Serve WARM. It's a must!

I love that these muffins replace all the "filler" ingredients and replace them with healthy ones like Greek yogurt, oats and flax seed. Best of all, you can't even tell the difference in taste! I hope you find these as addicting as I do!       

Crusted Honey Mustard Chicken

I have had a lot of requests to post this recipe as soon as possible. I have been taunting all my friends by posting Instagram pictures of this chicken. Now it's their turn to taunt me! 

- 2/3 cup honey mustard dressing
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp dill, freshly chopped
- 1 medium uncooked scallion, thinly sliced 
- 1 cup cornflakes, crushed
- 1 lb uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts 
*adjust the recipe if using less chicken

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a shallow pan with cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl, combine honey mustard dressing, salt, pepper, dill and scallions; remove 1/3 cup and set aside.
3. Place cornflake crumbs in a shallow bowl. Dip chicken into dressing mixture and then cornflake crumbs; place in prepared pan.
4. Bake until chicken is golden and no longer pink in center, about 15 - 20 minutes.
5. Drizzle remaining dressing mixture (the 1/3 cup that was set aside) over chicken breasts and serve. Yields 1 piece of chicken and about 1 1/3 tablespoons of dressing per serving. 

 The honey mustard dressing coating kept the chicken so moist and juicy, and the cornflake coating was a nice texture. I used Safeway brand Honey Mustard dressing (it's our favorite). Served with brown rice and vegetables, it's perfect meal, and the taste is scrumptious! Enjoy!

Sacramento Fashion Week

Photo Credit

Last week was Sacramento Fashion Week and I got the opportunity to attend one of the designer showcases, as well as two events earlier in the week. On Monday a group of my co workers and I went to the Fashion Forum, where a panel of industry insiders gave insightful information about the fashion industry and the perspective they have in the industry. Panelists included ANTM winner Naima Mora, a casting agent, a fashion industry lawyer, and the CEO of The Stylist Online, among others. This was especially interesting for someone like myself, who is fascinated by all aspects of an industry, and all the different career paths you can take. 

Tuesday we attended a Social Media workshop with a different set of panelists explaining how they use social media in their business and how we can use it too. The best thing about this workshop was being introduced to so many incredible business resources in the Sacramento area! I had no idea all these great people existed, and trust me, they are now on my "Follow" list!!

Photo Credit: Steven Williams
 Friday was the first designer showcase and that was the night our group attended. There was a total of 8 designers that showcased their collections, which allowed the audience to view a real range in styles and design. Although on a much smaller level than the New York's and Paris', I was so excited to attend the show and support designers on a local level. For a more in depth article of the two night's showcases, see this article by Sacramento Press. I can't wait until next year!
Photo Credit: Steven Williams

Crockpot Ravioli

I have been neglecting the recipe posts, but I assure you, I have a list of future posts for you in the pipeline. Awards Season means my attention is fashion-based for a month or two, but now I hope to return the blog back to normalcy! But it was a fun awards season. It won't be long until the next. 

I made this Crockpot Ravioli a few days after the Oscars. I found the recipe and it looked so easy, and having leftover pasta is a simple and delicious work lunch. We had leftovers for 3 days!! 

- Cooking Spray
- 2 25oz jars of pasta sauce (I used mushroom, but you can use whatever)
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I used garlic and herb, for some added flavor)
-  1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup (I had no idea what this was, but it's a Campbell's soup!)
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 25 oz bag frozen cheese ravioli   
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.
2. In a separate large bowl, combine pasta sauce, tomatoes, cheese soup, and garlic. Mix well. 
3. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce into the slow cooker, top with 1/3 of the ravioli. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of cheeses over the ravioli. Repeat until all ingredients are used. 
4. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours.
5. Serve warm. 

I clearly modified the recipe a bit, just to add a few things to give it some personality. I do this all the time with recipes, and I think it's worth the risk! I also had trouble finding a 25 oz bag of ravioli (I found a 20 oz) so I cut the other ingredients to make up for the modification. I thought this dish was super cheesy and yummy! We made the ravioli with garlic bread and it was quite the filling meal. Not to mention lunch for the work week!