The Easy Going Monstera

The Easy Going Monstera

Happy Monstera Monday! I’ve always loved monsteras, but figured they had to be extremely difficult to care for because of their size and beautiful split leaves. Man, was I wrong! When monsteras became the “it” plant everyone had to have, I figured I’d wait to see what the hype was about. Now that they’re EVERYWHERE, I’ve added two to my indoor jungle and they have not disappointed! I’ll give a brief history of my monsteras and if you really couldn’t care less about my plants, but want some care info and fun facts about monsteras, scroll on down to the care section.

When Target rolled out their Hilton Carter live plant collection I couldn’t wait to see what plants they would be carrying, but I knew they would have monsteras. I mean, come on… it’s Target! They have all the trendy things… heck, they MAKE all the things trendy! Well, thanks to work and kids and cooking and cleaning and you know, all the things, it took me forever to even get to our Target to see what they had in stock. Of course, by the time I was able to run into the store they only had one pathetic, broken monstera left. In hindsight, I should’ve scooped that one up while I had the chance.

Fast forward a week or so and I took a quick trip to Home Depot to pick something up. Since I can’t pass up a good plant, I always browse their little corner plant section-by the way… never pass up their indoor plant section! They have all the trendy plants for a great price! Anyways… sitting there right in the middle was one lonely monstera. He was little, but he was perfect! Since I bought him he’s been repotted and aside from a bit of overwatering while in his tiny pot, he’s thriving and getting new leaves!

I had to run to another local Target for something our Target didn’t have and they FINALLY restocked their live plants. I grabbed that monstera and put it in my cart so fast! This one has done so well and loves its sunny spot at the end of our bed. At this point I don’t even know how many new leaves “Monty” has at this point. Oh yeah… that’s his name… Monty the Monstera. By the way, the small one is now named Monty Jr. We get mad creative with names in this house, folks (that was sarcasm if you didn’t catch it… subtle…). Now that you’ve been introduced to the Montys, I’ll add some information that I’ve found very helpful.

Monstera Care

Monsteras are rather forgiving plants. Light, water, pot size, and soil type don’t need to all be perfect for them to thrive.

Light: They love light, so find them a sunny spot.

Yellow leaves due to overwatering

Water: Water them when approximately the first 2 inches of soil is dry. Make sure not to over water them or their leaves might yellow on the edges. Make sure their pot has drainage holes to make sure they drain properly.

Pot Size: They don’t seem to become root bound very easily. They don’t need to have a huge pot to be happy, but if you see roots coming out of the drainage holes, repot that sucker! Their leaves and stems seem so large that sometimes it seems like they need much larger pots than they actually do.

Moss pole to support monstera leaves

Climbing: Monsteras naturally find things to climb in the jungle. If your monstera starts to lean or flatten out, you may need to find something to support it or allow it to climb. Amazon has great moss poles that are cheap, sturdy, and do the trick.

Dripping: Sometimes monstera leaves drip. No, your monstera isn’t crying-it is getting rid of excess water or moisture.

Unfurling monstera leaf

Unfurling Leaves: I had NO idea how monstera leaves grew. It’s the craziest looking thing I’ve ever seen! They appear as a shoot and unfurl over a few days. When you see new shoots, be patient! It takes several days for them to unfurl, then they’ll be a light green color for some time.

Aerial roots: This one is bizarre… roots that aren’t, well, in the dirt. There will be roots that don’t root into the dirt, but kind of hang in the air. This is for stabilization and these roots reach for water in the jungle. You can stick these roots back into the dirt or leave the be. Either way will be fine for your monstera. If you plan to propagate your monstera, these aerial roots are great! I’ll create a new post on that sometime soon!

Monstera aerial root

Happy #monsteramonday!

Easy London Fog Latte

Easy London Fog Latte

I love Earl Grey tea, lavender, and lattes. Put them together and… HEAVEN in a cup. I’ve been desperately searching for a recipe to make one of these bad boys at home for some time and I finally found one. This recipe is pretty flexible (especially if you have a Keurig K-Cafe or another machine that makes lattes and cappuccinos fairly easily). This recipe is also excellent over ice. Froth the milk while it’s cold and serve over ice to enjoy a great summer beverage. This recipe was adapted from a recipe from Oh, How Civilized.

Ingredients

  • 8-10 oz Earl Grey tea, brewed to package instructions (I use Twinings k-cups in my Keurig, but any brewed Earl Grey will work great!)
  • 3/4 cup milk (I use 2%, but any non-sweetened variety of milk will work well)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp culinary grade dried lavender, additional for garnish (I buy mine on Amazon)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Brew Earl Grey tea to package instructions over a tea strainer with the desired amount of dried lavender. 8-10 oz seem to work great for this recipe.
  2. Once tea and lavender have steeped at least 5 minutes, remove the tea strainer containing the dried lavender and discard.
  3. Stir brown sugar and vanilla extract into the lavender tea until well blended.
  4. Steam or heat milk. Use a milk frother, french press, or any other chosen method to steam and froth the milk. If you have a K-Cafe like I do, fill the frothing cup to “Cappuccino” and use the cappuccino setting.
  5. Pour steamed milk into the tea mixture and spoon the frothed milk onto the top of the tea. Sprinkle with lavender garnish.
  6. Pip, pip! Cheerio! Lift your pinky, pretend you’re a Brit, and enjoy!
Balsamic, Garlic, and Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Balsamic, Garlic, and Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I love brussels sprouts, but I needed a new way to cook them. I was stuck in a rut of boiling them with butter and salt. The old stand-by is fine, but I needed more flavor and this recipe delivered! It’s a little misleading, since a cast iron skillet is used to first sauté or brown the brussels sprouts, then they’re roasted later, but I promise it’s worth the effort! I have adapted this recipe from one I found from NY Times Cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 pint brussels sprouts (approximately 1 lb)
  • 4-6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (this will vary as you sauté the brussels sprouts-enough to coat the bottom of the cast iron skillet should be sufficient)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (or desired amount to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Trim the bottom of the brussels sprouts and cut each sprout in half lengthwise and remove any outer pieces that may be old or have fallen off.
  1. Add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom of a cast iron skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add sprouts in a single layer in the pan cut side down. Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste. If the oil is absorbed during cooking, add more oil to the pain. Cook until the sprouts become a golden brown on the bottom.
  2. Place the pan in the oven and bake 10-20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid burning. Bake until the sprouts are fork tender and browned to your liking.
  3. Remove the pan from the oven and add balsamic vinegar and stir the sprouts well. Sprinkle the desired amount of parmesan cheese on top of the sprouts. Place the pan back into the oven for 5 minutes or until the parmesan is slightly melted.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the sprout and parmesan cheese mixture well. Serve immediately.
The Best (and Easiest!) Chicken Parmesan and Baked Spaghetti

The Best (and Easiest!) Chicken Parmesan and Baked Spaghetti

“Chicken Parm, you taste so gooooooood!” Yes, I know you just sang that in your head in Peyton Manning’s voice. I love chicken parmesan and somehow always feel like it has to be this complex, multi-step process to actually make it at home. I have good news… IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE! The most complicated part of this recipe is boiling the spaghetti, so you’ve got this! This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found from The Lazy Dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (1 box) thin spaghetti noodles
  • 2 (24 oz) jars of marinara or pasta sauce (I prefer tomato basil for extra flavor, but any variety will do!)
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (shredded will also work)
  • 8 frozen chicken patties
  • seasoning to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.
  2. Cook and drain spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Mix with 3/4 of the tomato sauce (1 1/2 jars) and 2 cups of shredded mozzarella. Add salt, pepper, or Italian seasoning if desired (optional).
  3. Add the pasta, sauce, and cheese mixture to the casserole dish and top with 8 frozen chicken patties.
  1. Top the chicken with the remaining sauce and spread it evenly to cover all of the contents of the casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle the top with 1 cup (or more) of shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese.
  1. Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown and the chicken is thoroughly heated and cooked.
Easy Overnight Oats

Easy Overnight Oats

I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet breakfast foods. I’m more of a bacon and egg or omelet person, but… here I am. Eating overnight oats ever. dang. morning. For real, though. I love that I can put a bunch in the fridge then customize them every morning however I’d like with nuts, chocolate chips, fruit, anything really (now don’t get crazy… I love cheese as much as the next person, but don’t be putting any in your oatmeal, people…). I think I love overnight oats more than typical oats because they don’t seem to turn to mush like normal oatmeal does. They still have a firmness to them and you can flavor them with sounds good when you roll out of bed in the morning. You can also eat them cold or nuke them for 45 seconds to a minute if you’re not feeling the cold variety.

I adapted this recipe from one I came across from Eating Bird Food. My version isn’t altered much, just makes them a little more simple.

I also found some awesome overnight oat jars that seal and are water tight and dishwasher safe. They’re great to prepare several at a time and keep in the fridge for when they’re needed. Amazon, never fails!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use 2%, but any unsweetened milk works great!)
  • 1/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp honey (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder (optional… if you’re feeling chocolatey)

Toppings (Optional)

  • nuts (pecans, walnuts, almond slivers… any kind will do!)
  • peanut/nut butter (almond butter works great!)
  • fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries are all great options)
  • chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients except toppings well. Store in refrigerator overnight for up to 5 days. The longer the oats sit in the refrigerator, the softer they’ll become.
  2. Add desired toppings when serving.
  3. Enjoy!
Easy Ramekin Pecan Pies

Easy Ramekin Pecan Pies

One Thanksgiving I wanted to find a something different for desert. After searching a while I just wasn’t happy with any of the pie recipes I was finding. I wanted something… different, but not too out there. I came across these little ramekin pecan pies and they were just different enough to be a great Thanksgiving desert. Bonus: you don’t have to make the crust yourself! They didn’t disappoint! The only problem I found with the recipe from Tablespoon.com was that it didn’t yield quite as many as the recipe called for. This could be because my ramekins happen to be a little deeper than most ramekins. This recipe yields approximately 9-12 ramekin pies. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 packages Pillsbury™ Refrigerated Pie Crust (4 crusts)
  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten
  • 4 egg whites lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grab 12 ramekins and lightly coat the insides with cooking spray.
  3. Roll out the Pillsbury™ pie crusts. Using a large cookie cutter (or any large round glass/cup) cut out circles and place each crust inside each ramekin. If there is crust leftover, you can add it to the edges for a rustic look. Place the ramekins with crust in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. Combine all remaining ingredients, except for pecan halves, in a large bowl. Whisk until nicely combined.
  5. Pour the pie filling into each ramekin.
  6. Top each with 3 pecan halves.
  7. Bake mini pies for 35 minutes, or until the center is set.
  8. Let cool about 15 minutes and enjoy!
$4 Mascara and Yes… It’s Phenomenal!

$4 Mascara and Yes… It’s Phenomenal!

essence has done it again, people! Their products never cease to amaze me. They’re as affordable as it gets, yet they can compete with the super duper expensive brands. How do they do it?!

I always see Thrive mascara ads on Facebook (thanks, Facebook ad people, but you’re not getting me this time!) and wonder if it is REALLY that great. I have friends who have tried it and didn’t really care for it all that much, although they said the results were great-long, thicker lashes. So, I went on the hunt for a dupe. I found one… for $5. Actually, less than $5! I was able to score this mascara for $3.75 on Prime Day, BUT… it’s only $4.99 regularly, so win-win.

I couldn’t add to cart fast enough on this one. essence’s Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara adds insane length to lashes, but doesn’t feel stiff or brittle. I would compare it to Benefit’s Roller Lash mascara (yes… one of my favorites!). One of my all time favorite drugstore brand mascaras is Lash Paradise and I honestly think essence’s formula blows it out of the water… especially because of the price! It’s also gluten and cruelty free, you know, in case you’re overly concerned about the gluten in your mascara…

The only complaint I have is that because the formula is a little waxy like Benefit’s Roller Lash you have to bake under the eye like crazy so it won’t transfer and give you that raccoon look. They do have a waterproof version, but I honestly think it’s a little stiff and brittle for my liking. It does stay put a little better and is hard to remove even with eye makeup remover. It’s vegan and cruelty free, which is also great. For $4, you CANNOT beat it!

Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Vegetables

Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Vegetables

I love slow cooker recipes I can start in the morning, forget about all day, then voila… an entire meal in a pot. That’s this recipe. No adding something at the end or sogginess. It cooks perfectly and all of your vegetables, starches, and gravy is included! I adapted this recipe from an original by The Seasoned Mom.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. bag of baby carrots
  • 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 8 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 8-9 boneless pork chops, about ¾-inch thick (about 1.5 lbs. total)
  • 1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup and dip mix
  • 1 lb. fresh baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peeled pearl onions, or 1 regular onion, sliced
  • 2 cans (10.5 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup (NOT diluted)

Directions

  1. Place carrots, celery, and potatoes in the bottom of a large slow cooker. Top with pork chops. I use a lot of pork chops so we can have leftovers throughout the week. Layer the pork chops if there are too many for a single layer. Sprinkle dry onion soup mix seasoning over the pork chops.
  2. Add mushrooms and onions on top of the pork.
  3. Cover with cream of mushroom soup (not diluted).
  4. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
Easy Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps

Easy Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps

I love wraps and order them out a lot. Why? They’re easy. I came across a Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap recipe and figured it sounded easy enough, so I gave it a shot. It was DELICIOUS. I’ve adapted the original recipe to things I usually keep on hand or to make my life a little easier (don’t we all need to make things easier on ourselves right now????). You can find the original over at Simply Whisked. You can also buy peanut sauce in most stores and use in this recipe if you’re short on time.

Ingredients

For the chicken wraps:

  • 3 cups coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (optional, add if your coleslaw mix doesn’t contain carrots or if you like extra carrots in your wraps)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped or sliced (I bake a large pan of chicken breasts with olive oil, garlic powder, and pepper at the beginning of the week to use for recipes later, but any cooked chicken will do!)
  • 6 large tortillas

For the peanut sauce:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup extra crunchy peanut butter (if you don’t happen to have extra crunchy on hand, you can add peanuts to the wraps to add extra peanut flavor and crunch)
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4–1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut sauce ingredients.
  2. In another bowl, add the cabbage, carrots, and cilantro (also add peanuts if you are using creamy peanut butter instead of extra crunchy). Pour the sauce over the mixture and stir. Let this sit while you prepare the tortillas and chicken.
  3. Heat up the tortillas for about 10 seconds in the microwave to make them easier to work with.
  4. Divide the chicken and coleslaw between each tortilla
  5. Roll tightly, securing with toothpicks if necessary.
Copycat Chipotle Guacamole (and Tips on How to Make Sure it WON’T Turn Brown in 5 seconds!)

Copycat Chipotle Guacamole (and Tips on How to Make Sure it WON’T Turn Brown in 5 seconds!)

Ok… if I had known how easy it is to replicate Chipotle’s guacamole I would have been eating it for every meal of the day. Seriously. I honestly can’t believe I never even thought about the ingredients that go into it and how simple they are! I found this “recipe” (I used quotes because it’s so simple it’s not really even a recipe!) from Culinary Hill.

Ingredients

  • Large Haas avocado (moderately still firm… no mushy avocados here!)
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro, finely chopped, to taste
  • sea salt, to taste
  • red onion, diced (I didn’t have any onion on hand, so I used onion powder and it was surprisingly delicious)

Directions

  1. Halve the avocado and scoop out each half with a spoon (NO chopping aloud!). Save the pit… it will come in handy later!
  2. Mash the avocado whole in a bowl.
  3. Add lemon and lime juice to the avocado and mix well. This step helps keep the avocado from browning quickly and gives it some great flavor.
  4. Finely chop the cilantro and red onion and add to the bowl. If you don’t happen to have onion, onion powder works great to add some flavor.

How to Keep Guacamole from Turning Brown

Place the pit in the middle of the guacamole mixture to keep it from turning brown quickly. Add Saran Wrap over the guacamole and press firmly against the guacamole before adding a lid to help minimize oxidation. Voila! Your guacamole may hold for 5 minutes instead of 5 seconds. You’re welcome.