Lunch Lately: Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad

Something about me that you probably didn’t know: I love leisurely grocery shopping. Take me to Whole Foods or Central Market and I could walk through the aisles for days looking at all the interesting ingredients thinking about all the wonderful dinners I want to cook. And once I get to the baking aisles, you had better expect me to take my sweet time, that’s where the magic happens, really. My mind just starts to spin with things I want to make, bake, and create. Then by all the fresh produce and fruits, ahhh. I love it. Quirky? That’s fine by me!

Lately, every time I’ve ventured to the grocery store, I’ve been craving salads. (Good and healthy thing to crave right?) Living in Texas, summers are stifling and I never want to put something in my body that will make me feel overwhelmingly full throughout the day. So, this past week I’ve been the queen of a light and quick spicy chicken Caesar salad. Spicy because I add some red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper to the mix!

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Here’s what you’ll need (for one serving): 

  • 2-3 Cups Head of Romaine Lettuce
  • 1-2 Slices of Whole Wheat French Bread
  • 2 Chicken Tenders, thawed
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Caesar Dressing (I use Ken’s Lite Caesar Dressing)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes

How to:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. While the chicken is baking, dress your chopped lettuce with a spoon of grated parmesan and 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Or more if that’s how you like it…I don’t like my salad drowning in dressing so less is always more for me. Add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and stir with two big forks to get everything nice and coated. Chop your whole wheat french bread into cubes and throw into the oven for 2-3 minutes or until you’ve achieved your crispiness crouton liking. Shred the chicken once cooled a bit and then throw the chicken and croutons on the salad and do one final mixin’. Bam, boom, done! 

It’s a quick and easy lunch (or dinner) that’s yummy in your tummy! Enjoy.

Texas Soccer Campers

Every summer I stay in Austin for the majority of the time to take summer school and be with my teammates so we can workout together and all that jazz in preparation for season. Well, and there’s one more reason: Texas Soccer Camp. Lots of us work the camps as counselors. The absolute best part about camps are the stories we tell at lunch and dinner about our campers. Most of the time they have us rolling over dying laughing. It’s great. Camps are exhausting from having to be in the heat all day so thank goodness the campers provide some much needed levity.

And every summer I am paired with the youngest campers of the bunch. My coaches know I have as much energy as the 4 and 5 year olds and that I can handle their outbursts and whining. Let’s just say, most of the youngsters who come to camp do not come on their own accord: Mommy and Daddy drop them off and say “Whew, finally three free hours to myself! Where’s the wineeee?” Hey, I’m here to help best I can.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the most precious bunch of kids. As a group, we were Team USA. #America We’ve had 4 camps this summer so far and these kiddos have been my favorite group by far. My inner girlie girl comes out but my goodness, they’re just so cute!

IMG_2590 IMG_2596But don’t let the cuteness fool you: they still had their “moments”. Half the time they don’t even want to play soccer…red light/green light and duck duck goose were both major players that week of camp. Screw soccer. Let’s just run in circles instead. Not complaining, nice change of pace. 

For example:

“If you give me a donut, I’ll play soccer.” -Vince, Camper

“Unfortunately I don’t have any donuts, bud!” -Me

**proceeds to walk over to the shaded tent area and take of his cleats…he wasn’t kidding**

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“I’m dairy free, gluten free, and soy free. I didn’t bring a snack for snack time. Do you have anything I can eat?” -Emerson, (4 Year Old) Camper

“Well, what on earth do you eat?! I have no idea what to give you.” -Me

“Well, Whole Foods and Central Market are my favorite places to find stuff. I don’t like HEB. Too much bad stuff.” -Emerson

**proceed to steal one of my teammates apple…gluten, soy, and dairy free…BOOM**

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“Hey, do you want to see something cool?!?” -Jake, Camper

“Sure!” -Me

**proceeds to basically belly flop himself onto the ground in front of me**

“Jake, what are you doing?? Doesn’t that hurt?!” -Me

“Nope, it’s a ninja flop. I’m a ninja.” -Jake

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If you can’t already tell from these three brief moments during camp, Team USA was surely a funny bunch that always made me smile. No matter how annoying they could be at times. Oh well, I miss them. The group I had after them were 6 and 7 years olds who have a whole new level of sass. Hook ‘em Horns from Texas Soccer Camps. Always.

 

London, England

‘Ello, mates! We’ve made it to the last post for my European summer travels this summer. Rome, Venice, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich and now London! But what a happy end it will be! After a short flight from Munich, we arrived  in London, England! My favorite place in the world! This was my third trip to England. It was Emily’s second and Rachel’s first. Thankfully, Rachel loves to explore a city by walking around and delving into the locals things to do versus hitting up all the English tourist attractions. Been there, done that. So basically, Emily and I just got to show her our favorite spots in the city and find some new ones as well! We’re like locals, I tell you, locals. We wish. Brace yourselves, though, this post has a million and one pictures because…well, just because it’s quite necessary! Enjoy!

We started our time in London with a trip to Harrod’s. I love Harrods. There are so many people filing in and out of all the rooms and floors…it’s quite easy to get lost. Although everyone working there are always so cordial and happy to give directions. Thank goodness. We picked up some delicious desserts and roamed around taking it all in. Oh! And Rachel had her first ever French macaron! Thank you, Ladurée! She fell in love with them, duh. [Side note: still trying to perfect my macaron recipe, more on that later though.]

The next day we headed over to Fortnum and Mason for high tea. Never fails to be one of my favorite parts of the trip. Everything is so dainty and girly…and quintessentially British. Win, win, win! After tea, we were in a huge food coma and decided to walk towards Westminster Abbey to say hello to Big Ben. He was looking mighty fine so we had to take some selfies with him. After that, we headed to Covent Garden for some shopping.

Throughout our time in London we had the chance to have dinner at The Hurlingham Club with one of our dear friends from London. For those of you who don’t know, The Hurlingham Club is the most exclusive sports and social club located in the center of the city. So, Rachel, Emily, and I put our posh pants on for the night and imagined we were dining with royals. Darlings, we walked through the gardens and sashayed through the beautiful cricket fields. We had the best time acting all proper. Only the best for us Americans, you see. [If you're reading this Zo, thanks again for taking us! We had the most amazing time with you! xoxo.]

We spent four days in London and it was so relaxing. Wandering around the city knowing generally where things are located was fabulous. Finding new little pockets with precious flats and immaculately dressed people was lovely. I didn’t want to leave! But my wardrobe proved to have more dirty clothes than clean and my family was greatly missed. Until next time Londontown, cheerio!

Like I mentioned earlier, if you hadn’t read about my previous trips to London, read about them here and here!

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Pink Princess Cupcakes

I made these for one of my teammate’s birthday’s a couple of months ago but totally forgot to share them with everyone! Little #ThrowbackThursday action from yours truly.

These cupcakes are a little special: they’re made from a box. Yes, yes. Don’t everyone faint at once. For this particular teammate of mine, her absolute favorite dessert is a funfetti cupcake. I can imagine that lots of you are shaking your head…me too! But hey, we love what we love! And I’m not going to not make someone their favorite dessert on their birthday…that would be just cruel!

So, I buy the mix and I think to myself, “How can I make this better?” Well folks, I figured it out. I turned a measly box cake mix into a batter that tasted just like it was homemade. And it was so simple! You can use this trick for any type of boxed cake mix.

Here’s what you do:

Step 1: Look at the directions on the cake mix.
Step 2: Add one additional egg.
Step 3: Use melted butter instead of oil and double the amount of melted butter you use.
Step 4: Instead of water, use milk.
Step 5: Mix well and bam, you’ve got a batter straight from a bakery.

The finished product is rich and delicious. And when you’re in a bit of a hurry, it proves fabulous! And I call these cupcakes pink princess cupcakes because, look at them. Pink, pink, pink, and throw some glitter on it for good measure. In love.

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Lake Life

Every summer since I was born, I’ve gone to Virginia for a week or so to visit my grandparents with my family. While in Virginia, we spend most of the time at their lake house on Smith Mountain Lake just lounging and swimming and all that jazz. Well, I just got back from good ‘ol VA this morning and realize that growing up on the lake has definitely made me more of a lake person than a beach person (hello pale skin…no tanning for me) and as such, certain things have become more evident to me each and every time I go back:

1. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a huge slice of watermelon on the side make for the best ever simple and oh-so satisfying lake lunch.

2. The lake house uniform: swim suits, coverups, and sunglasses. Add a hat if you’re feeling crazy.

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3. No makeup is the best kind of makeup when hanging with your friends and family on the dock.

4. Sunscreen is a must. Stop shaking your head, you know it’s true!

5. In order to be super happy all the time, you must play country music loud and proud from your dock. #TrueTexans

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6. Tubing and lake surfing are the best forms of exercise. (Look at my brother Davis tearing it up in the picture above!)

7. Swim until you become pruney in the water. And then swim some more.

8. If your boat breaks down in the middle of the lake (…may or may not of had real life experience with this one this past week, just saying…) make enough commotion until someone comes and tows you back to your dock.

These things I’ve found truer and truer each time I go to the lake every summer. It’s so fun spending time with my family having nothing to do and nowhere to be. You know you’ve got a tough day on your hands when the hardest decision is to go tubing in the morning or in the afternoon…or both! Cheers to life on the lake!

S’more Cookies: Fourth of July Edition

Hey y’all! Hope y’all are having an awesome Fourth of July!

You might remember these s’mores cookies…I made them for my birthday this past year! I decided to give these favorite cookies of mine a simple update for the red, white, and blue weekend. Here’s the recipe! So simple and always a crowd pleaser.

To add a little Americana nature to these cookies, I added 3/4 cup of mini red and blue M&M’s to the batter! Basically, the entire recipe stays the same except in addition to the marshmallows and chocolate chips you add towards the end of the recipe, add some festive M&M’s to the batter as well! Also, save some and place them delicately on top of the cookie when they come out of the oven for that extra punch of color!

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Happy Fourth of July!

Brinkles Sprinkles

Fourth of July Essentials

Fourth of July is right around of the corner. I would ask you what your plans are…but more importantly, what are you going to wear? Whether you’re spending it on the lake, grilling out with friends, or watching fireworks (or all three!), these ten things would be perfect for any celebration. USA, USA!

Fourth of July
Tory Burch Fedora / KJP Anchor Bracelet / Warby Parker Sunglasses / Loren Hope Gold Cuff / J.Crew Stripe Shirt / Madewell Red Shirt / Gap Blue Jean Jacket / Tory Burch Bow Flats / Kate Spade New York Bow and Pearl Earrings / Vineyard Vines Baseball Cap

Munich, Germany

A hop, skip, and a jump over from Salzburg (more like an hour and a half train ride), we found ourselves in Munich.

Upon arriving, our stomachs told us to get our butts to a restaurant pronto and we ended up at Augustiner Bräu, Munich’s oldest brewery. We sat down and immediately liked this place. Instead of the typical chips and salsa us Texans are used to at our favorite Mexican food restaurants, they serve pretzels! Winner in my book thus far. Then straight after you take a bite, a server comes over and asks “Liter or half liter?” Takes us a minute for to realize he’s talking about beer (duh #blondemoment) and all of us say, half liter…I mean, my goodness, we’d be stumbling out of the place after a liter in the middle of the day! Emily and I split the Mix pan of Specialties. This meal included a breast of duck, knuckle of pork, roasted pork, red cabbage and a potato dumpling. All of this was slathered in gravy. Good thing we split it, our meal was huge! It was fan-freaking-tastic. Definitely ranks as one of my favorite meals of the entire trip. We were all in a food coma once we finally decided to leave but boy-oh-boy was it worth it.

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After that, we mosied our way back to our hostel to plan what the next couple of days were going to look like. Thinking that we were going have an early night and lots of rest to prepare for the days ahead, that was pushed to the wayside when we decided to go to a beer garden that night for some typical German fun! The atmosphere at the beer garden is great, everyone is laughing and talking and having a jolly good time. We met some guys from America and talked with them until the beer garden closed in the wee hours of the morning! When we finally made it back to our place, our beds were singing our names. Come to sleeeeep, Brinkley. However, after our night I’ve put returning to Germany during Oktoberfest on my bucket list. Crazy, yes.

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The next day, we walked to Marienplatz, the heart of Munich. Being Munich’s main square, we did a bit of shopping here and there. Then, we made it to the Rathaus-Glockenspiel just in time for the clock to chime at 11 a.m. and for the tourist attraction to follow. Everyday at 11 o’clock, the huge clock chimes and re-enacts two stories from the 16th century to hundreds of people watching everyday. It’s one of Munich’s major tourist attractions, but really it’s not that big of deal. Here’s a YouTube video, you can decide for yourself.

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After seeing the song and dance of the Glockenspiel, we decide to split up for the afternoon. Megan wanted to go explore some churches, Emily needed to go work on an essay, and Rachel and I just wanted to wander. We ended up finding ourselves in an open air market, of course (markets are our favorites!). It started to rain and we ran for some cover from the rain. We ended up at a little cafe that served homemade soup…rain+soup=perfect! Well, the menu was in German and no one behind the counter spoke any English so we ordered what the person in front of us got…thankfully it was tomato basil soup and it was delicious. It warmed us up a bit but after lunch we found ourselves at an ice cream stand. And we can’t resist ice cream, so we’re back to square one with being cold. But the rain has subsided so we were good, ice cream is always a good decision. After ice cream, we continued to walk around and found some other fun things…including beautiful flowers and pretzels bigger than my face!

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That night, we reunited for dinner. At this point, we were all kinda over heavy German food, so where do we end up? At a Chinese restaurant! How’s that for changing things up? At the Fire Dragon Lounge, they’re known for their hot pots. A pot of seasoned broth is brought to the table and there is a large buffet with everything from vegetables to seafood to meat. While the hot pot is kept simmering at the stove on your table, you place your ingredients into the pot and they are cooked right there. It’s really fun! And it proved to be some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had…go figure!

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The next morning, we sadly had to part ways. Emily, Rachel, and I were scheduled to take a flight to London and Megan a train to Switzerland to meet up with her mom who had flown in from the US. After a quick breakfast, we made our way to the airport. Off to my favorite place on earth with two of my best friends. Londontown, we’re coming for ya next!

Danke, Germany!

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Blue Print Cleanse

I did it! I completed a three day juice cleanse, people. Some of you might think I’m crazy. My answer: gurrrrl, I already know I’m crazy, that’s nothing new. This weekend I wanted to try something a little different (…and I had a 20% discount for the cleanse), so why not? What’s three days without food? Bam.

Here’s the rundown: Blue Print Cleanse. Six juices a day for three days. I ordered the second-level cleanse, Foundation. The second level is for those people who are health conscious and workout regularly but ya know, splurge every once and a while on a cupcake or french fry. That’s me, friends.

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So, the juices came in Friday morning and I’m off to the races. For the Foundation Blue Print Cleanse, you drink three green juices (romaine, celery, cucumber, apple, spinach, kale, parsley, lemon), one PAM (pineapple, apple, mint), one spicy lemonade (lemon, agave, cayenne), and one cashew milk (cashews, vanilla, cinnamon, agave). The cleanse is so easy because the bottles are numbered and you eat drink them 1 through 6 progressively through the day.

I love juice so the cleanse wasn’t hard for me at all. The green juice is very, well, green…it tasted like celery and cucumber. If you drink it really chilled, it’s nice! The PAM is so yummy with lots of mint. I could drink that for fun. The spicy lemonade tastes like watered down lemonade with a hint of spice from the cayenne pepper. I can actually see myself adding cayenne to my everyday lemonade, it’s good! The cashew milk at the end of the day is perfect. With a big dose of cinnamon and vanilla, it’s kinda like ice cream. I would blend it with ice and make a frappuccino-like texture! Great trick and it mixes things up a bit without breaking the “rules” of the cleanse.

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At the end of day three, I was glad to be done. But I wasn’t dying from drinking juice all-day-errrry-day. I worked out while on the cleanse and still had plenty of energy. I could easily see myself doing it again in a couple of months, maybe once or twice a year or something like that. However, one thing I learned: I could never be a vegetarian. My goodness, while I can go three days without meat, I could never go a lifetime. Meat was the only thing I craved. Oh, and watermelon. But watermelon is my favorite summertime breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that was to be expected. Overall, the Blue Print Cleanse was fantastic! I feel great and the cleanse has definitely reinforced my healthy eating habits throughout the summer. Maybe I’ll go cook a turkey burger without the bun instead of a hamburger…hey, the cleanse must be working!

Have you ever tried a cleanse? Have any questions about mine? Let me know!