Southern Blondie

Four Quick & Easy 30-Minute Meals

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It's that time of the year where the days feel so long and so short at the same time. After working long days in the office, the last thing I want to do is go home and spend more than 30-minutes on dinner. Here are four go-to meals that I use during busy workweeks: 

Zucchini Taco Boats

zuchinni taco boats recipe

If you're looking for something filling with a little spice, check out these Zucchini Taco Boats!

Foil Pack Fiesta Chicken Dinner


I'm a big fan of these Foil Pack Fiesta Chicken Dinners because they are great to make ahead of time and toss in the oven when you get home from work! 

Cauliflower Rice Taco Bowl


That's not regular rice, it's riced cauliflower on the bottom of a taco bowl! This meal takes little to no time to make and it's SO worth it. Low calorie, quick and delicious! 

Spicy Chicken Chili 


There's nothing better than it being cold outside, and warm chili cooing on the stovetop! This Spicy Chicken Chili is perfect for any day that you want a healthy dinner but also feels like comfort food. 

What are your go-to recipes?? 
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Cali'flour Foods Cauliflower Pizza Crust

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When you love something, you have to share it with the world for everyone to know. This is absolutely not a sponsored post, this is just my love for something that's easy and delicious. During the day I work as a social media manager for a nonprofit. Nonprofit work is rewarding, and REALLY busy during the holiday season... especially for social media. 

After a long day at work, and usually going to the gym after, the last thing I really want to do is cook dinner. Then again, when I am so busy and stressed at work, I know that it's the MOST important time that I take care of myself with good, nutritious food. But don't get me twisted, I can't quit my favorite foods, I just like to make the 'skinny' version of them.


Insert cauliflower pizza crusts. If you have ever tried to make these then you know how LABOR intensive they can be. If you haven't made them yourselves, there's absolutely no point because it's so much easier to buy them frozen and have them SHIPPED TO YOUR door. This is really the holy grail of "cheat" meals. 

Thanks to some targeted Facebook ads and my friend Jill, we found these Cali'flour Foods Pizza Crusts to try out. For each package you receive two froze cauliflower crusts. 


The two crusts are separated by plastic, and it's best to let them thaw for a bit before trying to spread them apart. 


Now, what you will need to do is pre-cook the crusts. *Pro Tip* When you're baking them on parchment paper, flip them halfway through while they are pre-baking. This way both sides are even and toasted when you decide what toppings you want to use.  


I am a traditional pizza girl, where I liked a marinara sauce. 


Also added some turkey pepperoni with a few jalapeño slices. 


Of course, some low-calorie cheese. 

Because low-carb works best for my life, I don't mind to add cheese. 



You can see how thin the crust is, so you don't want to overload it down TOO much. This is why toasting both sides during the pre-bake is so important. 


It only takes about 10 minutes to bake until it's done. All in all, this pizza takes about 25 minutes to make, and most of that is pre-baking the crust and baking the pizza. Because there are two crust in each package, I like to pre-bake both crusts at once, then make a pizza and save the other crust for another meal. This makes it even quicker for the second pizza in the week! 


The crust is pretty filling, especially when you pair it with a salad. Or, if you're like me, you'll keep going back for 'just one more bite!' 

The crusts can seem pretty pricey, but Cali'flour Foods has a lot of good deals. I bought 5 boxes (two crusts per box) for $50 with free shipping. So, each crust ends up being around $5, which is WAY easier than making it yourself or having to buy a bunch of cauliflower. 

What healthy trick do you have to have skinny, cheat meals?

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National Apple Month Recipes

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Did you know that October is National Apple Month? Apple picking is a fall favorite activity here in Arkansas, but then what do you do with all of the apples spilling out of your kitchen?! We all have a recipe for the traditional apple pie, but let's go beyond that!

First, let's discuss the essential tools you'll need for your apples


To make slicing apples easier than ever, check out the T-fal Ingenio Apple Slice Wedger with Corer on Amazon. It cuts cleanly, straight through the apple to create the perfect wedges. It also has elevated handles to keep your knuckles and fingers safe when cutting.



Secondly, check out the T-fal Electric Pressure Cooker! This will be perfect for the Homemade Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal recipe below! The great thing about this product is that it has 12-automatic settings including Slow Cook. So you can even make this recipe as overnight oats using the Slow Cook setting if you want to.

Now, using your apple slicer and pressure cooker, you can make Homemade Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal!

Homemade Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

INGREDIENTS:
· 1 tablespoon butter
· 1 cup steel cut oats
· 3 1/2 cups water
· 1-2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced
· 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
· 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
· 1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:
· Add butter to pressure cooking pot, select Pressure Cook. When butter is melted add the oats and toast, stirring constantly, until they start to darken and smell nutty, about 3 minutes.
· Add water, apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
· Cook for 10 minutes
· Top with milk, nuts, more apple slices and additional brown sugar, if desired



Next, for another fun recipe, try Apple Cinnamon Waffles with the KRUPS 4-slice Waffle Maker. The waffle maker is SUPER non-stick – the waffles pop right off making clean-up a breeze. Not to mention, the plates are removable and dishwasher safe!


Apple Cinnamon Waffles

INGREDIENTS: **substitute Carrington ghee for butter 
Waffles
· 2 eggs
· 2 cups flour
· 1 ¾ cups milk
· ½ cup vegetable oil
· 1 tablespoon sugar
· 4 teaspoons baking powder
· ¼ teaspoon salt
· 2 teaspoon cinnamon
· ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Apples
· Brown sugar & cinnamon for sautéing apples
· 4 tablespoons butter, melted
· 1-2 cups of apples, peeled, grated

Start by sautéing your apples. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot add butter, then apples and stir. After a few minutes add in brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover to let steam and soften, stirring frequently. Once softened (about 4-5 minutes) remove lid to let caramelize a bit more. Remove from heat.

1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy.
3. Beat in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, just until smooth.
4. Add apples.
5. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot.



Looking for a warm drink during this chillier weather? Try the Sparkling Apple Hot Toddy!

Sparkling Apple Hot Toddy

Ingredients
· 6 oz. Crisp Apple Sparkling Ice
· 1 ½ oz. whisky or apple brandy
· 1 teaspoon honey
· Cinnamon stick, allspice cloves, and apple slices for garnish

Directions
1. Coat the bottom of a glass coffee cup with honey. Add whisky or brandy
2. Heat Crisp Apple Sparkling Ice in a small sauce pot
3. Pour hot Sparkling Ice into glass. Stir to combine ingredients
4. Garnish with cinnamon stick, allspice cloves, and apple slices
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Botox at Arkansas Family Dental

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This blog post is sponsored by Arkansas Family Dental. The services mentioned in this post were comped as part of this partnership. 


before and after botox, about botox, botox from a dentist

Well, I went and finally did it... I got Botox! So here's the story: 

A few weeks ago I heard about Arkansas Family Dental in Little Rock offering Botox and my first question was, "Is it safe to get Botox from a dentist?" Being my first time and all, I wanted to make sure that I knew all of the facts before making the decision. The answer is, Yes, it is safe to receive Botox from a dentist. If you think about it, a good dentist like the ones at Arkansas Family Dental really understand facial muscles. 

Once I had the facts behind me that it was safe, I felt comfortable moving forward. 


Now, if you've known me long enough, then you know how I believe in high-quality skincare, and I believe that has what has kept me from hitting the Botox needle before now. Could I have waited a couple of more years? Sure, but I believe in prevention with any good regime, and even Botox at a young age (I'm 31) can be considered prevention. There were a few fine lines that were forming on the top of my forehead, not terribly noticeable but enough for me to look at them in the mirror for longer than one should. 


before and after botox, about botox, botox from a dentist

So here is a closer image that I took the afternoon before I went to Arkansas Family Dental for Botox. I am not wearing any makeup (except leftover mascara), and there is no filter. This is my naked as can be forehead. Now, you can better see the fine lines that I mentioned, again, not severe, but something I wanted to get taken care of sooner rather than later. 

before and after botox, about botox, botox from a dentist

Actually getting the Botox part is pretty easy, though it may sting for a second or two. I received nine units of Botox. Again, I wanted prevention and to be able to move my forehead still. As an expressive person, I'm not sure how it would work if I couldn't move my face at all. 

before and after botox, about botox, botox from a dentist

I always believe in being transparent and honest with anyone who reads my blog, and the truth is after Botox you will have a few red bumps where you received the injections. These don't last very long, they were gone within less than an hour. There was no after pain, my forehead was not sore in any way. The only side effect was that I had a bit of a headache, but that might or might not have been from the Botox. It takes about 7-10 days to see the full effect. 

So what is the end result?? 

before and after botox, about botox, botox from a dentist

It's remarkable! It's enough to make a difference, but still be able to move my face! Really the best of both worlds if you ask me. The staff at Arkansas Family Dental told me that Botox will last between 3-4 months and that you will be able to feel/tell when it starts to fade. There are no side effects to your muscles once the Botox does wear off, as in your muscles will go back to normal (as will your wrinkles). 

Click here to learn more about what you need to know before getting Botox.

So, that's it! It was easy, quick and pretty pain-free. Obviously, there are multiple areas you can receive Botox on your face, but I just wanted to start out with something simple to see how I liked it before doing more. 

What do you think? 
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Thirty-ONEderful Charity Donation: Moms Demand Action

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So here's the thing... I am a gun owner. I have my concealed carry permit. I think guns are OK to own. Being from the South, guns were part of growing up. My dad had several guns, my friends owned guns, and it was a usual Sunday activity to go out and shoot tin cans or old signs. Guns do not scare me, but I also grew up in an environment where I understood how to use them responsibly. 

HOWEVER, I think it's time that all responsible gun owners stand up for stronger gun regulations. 

On Sunday night I was in Los Angeles at dinner with colleagues after a really successful workday raising money to end hunger and poverty. (I work for a nonprofit.) It was a pretty long day, so it was a pretty late dinner as well. When I got back to the hotel and turned on the TV, every channel was covering the tragic events of a shooter in Las Vegas. 

At midnight, two people at died from this shooter. When I woke up at 5 a.m. after falling asleep with the TV on 25 people had died, and by the time I was checking out of the hotel, over 50 people died due to gun violence. It's just too much. I love outdoor concerts, music festivals, and living life. I don't want to live in a world where it becomes normal to be paranoid in large groups of people. 


That's why there has to be a better way. There has to be a middle ground to say, it's OK to own a gun, but let's just be responsible about it. I am not going to get rid of the guns we have in our home, I am not going to be afraid of them (because I understand that they are weapons, not toys), but what I  am going to do is become more vocal that we need stronger regulations. No one needs to own a fully-automatic weapon. 

In my opinion, no one should be able to walk into a gun and knife show and purchase a weapon without any sort of background check. I have to go to a doctor, then a pharmacist and have to have insurance to get birth control, but anyone can just go to a gun store (depending on the state) and buy the equipment it takes to create a fully-automatic rifle? SERIOUSLY? 

I understand if this post is a little too political for a lot of people who read this blog, and that's OK if you don't agree, or if you think all guns are good or all guns are bad. Hopefully, we can all find a middle ground to agree that we need stronger regulations, but that there are responsible gun owners out there who also agree.

Gun Violence by the Numbers

1. On an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns
2. SEVEN children and teens are killed by guns in the US on an average day 
3. In an average month, 50 women are shot to death by intimate partners in the US 
4. Background checks have blocked nearly 3 MILLION gun sales to prohibited people 
5. America's gun homicide rate is more than 25 TIMES the average of other developed countries. 



So what do we do? Where do we go from here? 

We use our voices. We join causes. We show that there IS such a thing as being a responsible gun owner and believing in stronger gun regulations. 

For those of you who don't know, I turned 31 on June 5. I am calling this, "The Year of Being Thirty-ONEderful." It's about making this year... wonderful. Part of making anything wonderful in life is to give back to others where you can. So, on the 5th of each month, I am donating $31 to a charity and highlighting the work they do in a blog post.
This month, I am donating to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Here's what they do: 
  • Pressuring lawmakers to improve our gun laws
  • Raising awareness about gun violence
  • Educating the public about common-sense gun laws and responsible gun ownership
  • Mobilizing grassroots supporters
  • Connecting and amplifying the voices of survivors of gun violence
Moms Demand Action supports the 2nd Amendment, but we believe common-sense solutions can help decrease the escalating epidemic of gun violence that kills too many of our children and loved ones every day.

3 Easy Things to Do to Support Gun Safety  


  1. Text 'REJECT' to 644-33 to tell your member of Congress to reject the NRA's radical agenda. 
  2. Join Moms Demand Action local chapter in your area. 
  3. If you do own a gun, make sure it is locked, unloaded, and put away.


Thank you for reading this post. 

 Thirty-ONEderful Charity Donation:
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