Quiet and Cozy Thanksgiving

I’m such a procrastinator.

But that’s not news, right? I have yet to do any significant studying for my two exams or any additional preparation for my seven-page paper due next week. I’m telling myself that something WILL get done today.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. –Mark Twain

^^^It’s so harddddddd.

Instead of complaining any further though, I should embrace the attitude of gratitude. ‘Tis the season! It has been a relaxing and lovely two days spent with my family so far, but I started off my holiday break in Boston with a breakfast date!

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My dear friend Emma invited me to her apartment to make some FlapJacked pancakes (that I still had from BLEND!) and eggs. We finished all the pancakes and were pretty embarrassed when her apartment-mate asked if there were any left. #shame.

I arrived home with mom late Tuesday night, and since then I’ve been eating, hangin’ with my family, and procrastinating catching up on social media. Because I’m never on social media during school…

Wednesday involved eating, clothes shopping, grocery shopping, eating sushi, cooking, eating, gym, and eating.

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Kylie’s simple paleo pancake (SO FREAKING FLUFFY!) with copious amounts of peanut butter and pomegranate seeds + glass o’ milk

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late sushi lunch with mom mid-shopping

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gym with Pop

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homemade crab cakes! + plain Greek yogurt + sriracha

Ben came home late that night, so I stayed up late chatting with him. My eyes were nearly glued shut getting up for church the next morning, but it was worth the QT with the bro.

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starting Thanksgiving Day thanking God from whom all things flow

After Mass, we headed home to get cookin’! I fueled myself with overnight oats in a jar before transforming into a wannabe Barefoot Contessa. I was in charge of all the side dishes, and I asked mom to be in charge of the turkey so that I wouldn’t overcook it again.

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my love — stuffing 

In addition to bread, we used some leftover buttery croissants for the stuffing. Go big, friends.

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best roasted sweet potatoes

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rosemary thyme roasted baby potatoes

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honey balsamic roasted brussels sprouts and string beans

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cornbread muffins

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da bird

We actually ended up undercooking the turkey at first, so it was a fiasco trying to cook the parts that were still raw while keeping the perfectly-cooked parts separate. You’d think we would have this down after 15+ years, but…guess not. Nevertheless, the turkey turned out delicious and juicy!

I also went on a nice walk with Dad at the park after I finished cooking. It was the perfect, brisk weather for a Thanksgiving walk.

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Then we came home with a hefty appetite and dug in!

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The stuffing, rosemary potatoes, and cornbread muffins were my favorite. I know you know the carbs are the best part.

Speaking of carbs. Best for last!

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apple pie a la mode

We finished at around 6pm, so the rest of the night involved watching Chopped, writing this post, and just appreciating the presence of family. (Imaginary audience: “AWWWWWWW.”)

I feel fortunate that each year, Thanksgiving becomes a lot easier, mentally speaking. This year, I didn’t feel nervous about the amount or density of food that would be available to me, and I think that is because I allow myself to eat heavy foods outside of holiday occasions. I was definitely stuffed by the end of the night, but it just felt like a bigger meal, which is probably a monthly/biweekly occurrence.

As Julia so beautifully wrote, we just need to be kind to ourselves. I didn’t finish every bite on my plate, and I didn’t have pie immediately after dinner with the rest of my family because I wanted to digest for an hour or so. I still ate a lot of delicious food, including pie, but I didn’t feel (self-imposed) pressure to eat or not to eat.

As for working out, I joined my dad when he went to the gym the night before, but I just did a fun strength workout without focusing on calorie burn. On Thanksgiving day, we walked. We went with the flow.

I did not get to this point overnight, so I implore you to not be discouraged if you still struggle with restrictive temptations or anxious feelings during the holidays. In fact, there are many non-holiday instances during which I still feel anxious over food. Recovery is always a work in progress, but every effort to combat disordered habits and thought processes is valuable.

Tonight we’re going out to NYC to eat more. Not before I get some work done though!!!

So tell me:

How did you spend {American} Thanksgiving?

Favorite food from the feast?

Three non-obvious/random/quirky things you’re thankful for! yoga pants, clean public bathrooms, and towels that absorb really well

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Living Life Like the Little Ones

Thank you all a million times over for your love on last week’s blog anniversary post (and on every post, really)!

Pop and I made it back home to New York without any 7 hour delays, thank the Lord!

I spent the past three days with lots of family members, including lots of BABIES! (I’m that crazy lady who would like to hold your baby whenever you’re ready/in two minutes/now, please.) In case you missed the update last week, I was visiting St. Louis for my baby cousin’s baptism.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Let’s catch up!

Friday

Mom and I started the day with a rather delicious and filling {complimentary} hotel breakfast. This is what I ate every morning:

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Two plain oatmeal packets with honey, banana, and two little packs of peanut butter + a box o’ milk

As long as the breakfast trifecta is present, I’m all set.

Then we went to see my baby cousins!

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My cousin CC (bottom right): “Um, Alison?”

Me: “Yes?”

CC: “Um, I’m having so much fun!”

From now on, I’m going to announce when I’m having fun, just like that.

They took us to a farm/park close to their house, where we saw some Butterball-worthy turkeys, loud goats, majestic horses, and lots of bacon giant pigs.

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Meet Maurice. He’s bigger than you and me.

We worked up an appetite for lunch involving a Southern/Midwestern delicacy.

Chick-fil-A, chickadees.

I’ve never seen a fast food joint so packed in my LIFE. A line that never shortened, a drive-thru that was backed up, and not a table to spare.

I was bummed that we missed breakfast, because the #1 thing I wanted was a biscuit, but I tried some of their fried chicken with the special sauce, and it was pretty bomb. My main order was the grilled chicken wrap + “superfood salad” (a cup of kale and craisins).

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The afternoon consisted of some hanging out and errands. Another Midwestern stereotype coming to life:

Man at TJMaxx (with beard, cowboy hat, and southern twang): *stares at me for a few seconds* ”

Excuse me? What nationality are you?”

Me: (in my 200% American accent) “I’m Chinese and Thai.”

Man: “Chinese and Thai… Well. Welcome to the United States!”

Me: ….

Man: “I mean, you probably already live here..”

Me: “haha yeah… I live in New York.” *walk away slowly*

He seemed rather intrigued that an Asian was standing there in the flesh.

Moving on. Dinner consisted of…

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We ate at The Old Spaghetti Factory and ordered another St. Louis classic to start— toasted ravioli.

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I like their definition of toasted (fried). I ordered the Angel Hair Pomodoro (so I guess… not spaghetti), which was everything I was craving and more. Followed by a peanut butter cookie from the hotel lobby.

After picking up bro Ben from the airport, I ended the night looking like my own worst nightmare.

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moisturizing, hydrating, terrifying face mask + lip gel mask thing

I Snapchatted my friends telling them to sleep with their eyes open that night. Sorry if this traumatized you. I’m still recovering myself.

Saturday

In short, Saturday involved family time allllll day, leading up to a big barbecue at my cousins’ house. It started with a wonderful walk with my aunt in the morning, and the day continued with helping out in the kitchen and contributing my “famous” roasted sweet potatoes.

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Steaks, burgers, creamed corn, sweet potatoes, and salad. I had some of everything and an oatmeal raisin cookie a la mode + sugar high for dessert. Thank you to all who made it happen!

With all the excitement and joy of being around family, especially the little ones, I didn’t have the time or care to worry about healthy food and/or exercise. You eat, play, and just enjoy the time you have with your loved ones. It makes sense, and the little ones have it down pat. 

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 18:3-4

I’ve learned trusted that my body gravitates toward what it needs. If I need some butt-to-couch time, I will sit down and be a couch potato for a bit. If I want to let off some energy, I’ll go do something fun with people I love. For instance, the “big kids” went out for some frisbee golf at dusk, which was a blast.

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Ben, stop acting surprised that I’m taking candid photos of people

Sunday

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!

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The Sunday Mass and Baptism were beautiful (definitely cried tears of joy at some point), and the reception was lovely. God is good.

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Congratulations, Josephine and family!

After bittersweet goodbyes, everyone split ways. Dad and I en route to New York. Mom and bro Ben en route to Florida. We’ll see each other again soon!

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Asian cashew salad at Wendy’s in the Detroit airport for dinner

Back on the grind this week. We’ll get through it together.

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So tell me:

You and babies. What happens?

Do you ever use facial masks?

Have you ever played frisbee golf?

Have you ever eaten at Chick-fil-A?

Fueling for a Day in the City

The city is exhausting!

New York City in particular has the most draining effect on me. I definitely love the city, and I’m so lucky to be living close to one of the greatest cities in the world.

Besides the walking and heat, there is so much stimulation from the millions of people, cars, lights, sounds, and smells. If you try to slow down, you will either get run over by an automobile or pushed over by busy people. That being said, walking, dodging flying objects/people, and climbing stairs for a few hours requires lots of fuel.

Starting with breakfast!

Actually, starting with pre-breakfast. I woke up hungry at 5 AM. Why.

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spoonful of Nuttzo power fuel

I tried going back to sleep, but then 6 AM came before I could. After dropping off dad at the train station, I was READY for breakfast.

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Greek yogurt with cinnamon, nutmeg, chia, and maple syrup // banana, strawberries, granola, and a giant scoop of peanut butter

A little while later I warmed up a couple of strawberry cornmeal griddle cakes that I had froze, and I snacked on one with some maple syrup as a morning snack. I did get to sleep a little more too!

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I took the day off from my {flexible, volunteer} internship to join up with some good friends from BU who are also NY/NJ locals, health professionals to be, and…Asian 🙂

By the time I had arrived at Grand Central and then walked 19 blocks to Shake Shack, I was a hungry, hungry hippo (<— always wanted that game when I was a kid).

We surprised our friend Dana with cupcakes and horridly off-pitch singing (on my part) for an early birthday celebration before ordering and chowing down on our burgers from Shake Shack.

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My first Shake Shack burger! It was perfect and I miss it already.

Tina and Cassandra were kind enough to pick up Georgetown Cupcakes for Dana, and Dana was kind enough to share with all of us!

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happy early birthday, Dana!

We trekked it over to High Line Park, where we took touristy pictures despite not being actual tourists. Before that though, we stopped by Eataly to use the restrooms, and LOOK WHAT WE FOUND.

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A NUTELLA BAR {inside Eataly, not inside the restroom}

Take deep breaths, I know it’s a lot to take in. We didn’t buy anything, but I need to go back to try it out soon!

Back to High Line… (thanks for the photos, Cassandra!)

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{posed}

After High Line and a quick walk through Chelsea Market, we parted ways and went home. I took a nap on the train because I was dead meat. I think I felt almost as tired as I did after our 7 mile hike in Colorado!

My stomach felt weird when I got home, but I knew I needed a snack. Or two.

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steamed veggies + 34 Degrees poppy seed crackers with hummus

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more Nuttzo (this spoonful + more because this spoon has limited space to hold drippy nut butter)

A couple hours later I ate caprese again as a dinner appetizer, along with the other cornmeal griddle cake from the morning.

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I was kinda full by the time I ate real dinner, but I didn’t stress out about it, ate slowly while conversing with Pop, and finished every last bite enjoyably!

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salad with homemade maple mustard dressing + ginger cilantro lime / pesto turkey meatballs + roasted sweet potatoes + corn on the cob

Huzzah for leftovers!

Night snack was this cinnamon roll Quest bar from the never-ending Blend swag bag.

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I microwaved it for 23 seconds (as suggested by a reader), and the Quest bar morphed into a Quest lava flow.

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I should start making Quest sculptures when they’re hot

And that’s a wrap! ‘Twas a blessed day of eats as always.

I have one more day of my internship this week before I head up to Boooooooston for the weekend! 😀 Hope you all have a wacky Wednesday in the best way possible!

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joining the WIAW party on Peas and Crayons!

So tell me:

Do you ever wake up hungry? It used to happen a lot more when I was depriving myself, but I guess it still happens once in a blue moon!

What is your favorite fast food burger joint?

Something sweet that you ate yesterday!

Rest and Digest

I love the kitchen.

I’m no chef, but I have been loving my time spent cooking and baking in the kitchen this summer. I don’t know if you picked this up from my blog/Facebook/Instagram (new handle by the way! @alison_grooves), but I love food! I am immensely grateful to have access to so many different kinds of food that are both good for me and good to me.

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lemonade and cookies from a stand run by some boys and their mom ♥ 

I also love my mom and her cooking, but not gonna lie, two is a crowd in the kitchen. #BattleForTheFrontBurner

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Simple Mills almond flour pumpkin muffins + Justin’s vanilla almond butter, courtesy of Blend swag

For the most part nowadays, I have the privilege of eating whatever I want, whenever I want. The only meal I consistently think about is breakfast, but that’s only because it’s my favorite meal of the day…because it always involves nut butter, banana, and dairy.

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Thursday morning oatmeal cookie dough cereal with banana

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Friday morning hot banana chia egg white oats in a {glass} Teddie peanut butter jar

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Sunday morning banana oat French toast bake topped with peanut butter+ Greek yogurt 

Then there are those few-and-far-between days when I start thinking about what I should be eating, when I should eat a snack, or whether I’ll be hungry enough for a scheduled meal out at a restaurant. It makes me anxious.

When I get anxious, my mind focuses on my stomach— in a bad way. I overanalyze my fullness or any sort of signal that might mean hunger. I physically feel stress and tension in my stomach because my mind is on it. When this happens, I usually feel full and crappy for the rest of the day. Any time I want to eat feels like I’m stress eating, because I don’t feel quite hungry enough for food, and then the cycle continues.

I don’t know why these rare days come up out of nowhere, but they do. Recently, it could be the fact that I have fewer obligations during the summer, lack of sleep, a combination of a few things…

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caprese grilled chicken {“This is better than a restaurant!” — Dad ➔ if I could physically blush, I would}

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best sweet roasted potatoes again!

I had a couple of those wonky days this past week, but what I’ve learned during recovery is to not be anxious about being anxious. It happens, and I’ll be okay. “This too shall pass.”

You know what else I’ve learned? Rest and digest (that whole parasympathetic nervous system at work, for all you biology geeks) is LEGIT.

For those of you who might not be familiar with “rest and digest”, digestion is not a priority for our survival when we’re in a stressful situation, so that’s one of the first processes to halt when we’re under stress.  When our bodies return to a normal, non-stressed state, digestion can continue.

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strawberry milkshake at the diner with Daliza 🙂

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making her own “coffee affogato

Thus, when I’m not stressed about food (or anything), I have more of an appetite! For instance, whenever I take a nap (like that crazy two hour nap I took last week), I almost always wake up ready to eat something.

Former me would have thought: There’s no way I can be hungry. I was out on the couch for two hours doing absolutely nothing with my body.

Current me knows: Napping gives my body the opportunity to rest and, therefore, digest. {which is why breakfast is such a fun meal, because I (most of the time) pop out of bed like eyyyy let’s eat!}

In addition, I feel that eating enough calorically also helps my digestion, or at least my comfort. When I eat a lot of volume but not a lot of calories (unintentionally!), my stomach feels like an inflated balloon, but the rest of my body feels like it needs some energy.

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crockpot bbq chicken with pasta + salad with homemade mustard vinaigrette + suhweeeeet corn!

And when I feel digested, I feel more comfortable throughout the rest of my day. I don’t have to focus on my stomach anymore.

Side note: I’ve also lowered my veggie intake. As in, I don’t need to have a monster salad and a freaking garden of vegetables for both lunch and dinner. Some peppers with hummus at lunch and a normal side salad at dinner is good enough, allowing my GI tract to be like, HALLELUJAH.

TMI? Sorry, not sorry. Gut talk is important.

With that said, I hope you all have a rockin’ Monday! Rest and digest.

So tell me:

Have you ever felt the difference in your digestion between when you’re stressed and when you’re not?

Do you like having the kitchen to yourself (or are you less selfish than I am)? 

What was the best thing you ate this weekend? For me, it’s a tough call between the caprese chicken, french toast bake, and sweet corn!

I’m Bad at Creating Recipes

I have two quasi-recipes for you today!

They’re both sweet, both freaking delicious, and…both lacking in measurements.

You see, when I cook anything new (this does not apply to baking), I either follow someone else’s recipe or I just make my own recipe by eyeballing the ingredients. I don’t measure or write down how much of an ingredient I put into it. I just throw things into the cooking vessel like a mad scientist until I think:

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Upon tasting, if the recipe leaves something to be desired, then I add that desirable something if possible. It’s usually one of three things that need to be added: salt, sugar, or liquid. For cooking, those things can often be added at the end of the cooking process somehow.

Thus, I suck at creating recipes, because I never have anything exact to share with you.

Nevertheless, I’m going to share two foods I made recently! They’re flexible recipes anyway, so you just be your own mad scientist and do what you will.

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Sweet and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

(aka the best roasted sweet potatoes I’ve ever eaten if I’m tootin’ my own horn, which I am.)

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  • 3-4 medium/large sweet potatoes, washed and chopped into 1-inch chunks (about 4 cups after chopping)
  • enough oil to lightly coat the potatoes (olive, avocado, or melted coconut oil works)
  • 2-3 tbsp maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want your taters)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you want a bigger kick in the taste buds)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  2. Place the washed and chopped sweet potatoes on a sheet pan (lined with foil if you want easy cleanup).
  3. Pour/dump/sprinkle all the remaining ingredients over the potatoes. Try to distribute evenly.
  4. Use your hands to toss around the seasoned potatoes to make sure all they are coated with the flavorful goodness.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through. Baking time depends on your oven, the size of your chopped potatoes, and how roasty you like ’em.

Serves 2, with leftovers. Actually serves 4-5.

Note: All measurements are estimates. Follow recipe exactly at your own risk. Temperature and times are accurate.

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Strawberry Banana Almond Butter “Ice Cream”

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  • 3 frozen very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1.5 tbsp almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • milk as needed
  1. Place frozen fruit and almond butter into a food processor or high speed blender with a small splash of milk (maybe 2 tbsp).
  2. Blend. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Continue to blend and add small splashes of milk as needed to get the blender rollin’. Make sure not to add too much that the mixture becomes a smoothie.
  4. Be patient. The ice cream texture will happen.
  5. Serve up your creamy, dreamy, cold treat with a cookie, granola, more nut butter, muffin, chocolate chips, etc.

Serves 2.

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I understand that a lot of you are advanced-enough chefs to not need these recipes, but for those of you who need a little inspiration, I hope these sparked your interest!

This is why I say “nay” when my friends and family refer to me as a food blogger. That suggests that I know what I’m doing in the kitchen, but in fact, I just pretend that I do. I mostly make other people’s recipes and kinda make my own.

I like it this way though. Let the wind take you to where it blows! Or something like that.

P.S. banana soft serve checked off the food bucket list! 🙂

So tell me:

Are you an “eyeballer” when it comes to cooking, or do you like to measure everything?

What’s the best recipe you’ve created or tried recently? Please share!