Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thrive Acai Bowls & Smoothies

I recently went to what could possibly be one of my new "snack" places ... Thrive Acai Bowls & Smoothies!

So before I go into information about the local hangout, here's a little bit more about the actual acai berry - it's a purplish fruit from the acai tree that's native to Central & South America. It's growingly popular due to its antioxidant qualities and although scientists are still working on proving it, it's thought to be a "superfood", one that's beneficial in weight loss & overall good health.

When I first walked into Thrive, I had absolutely NO idea what I was in for but let me tell you - I was pleasantly surprised! Thrive has found a way to transform this rather tasteless berry (in my opinion) into a tasty concoction. Their menu is divided into two parts: acai bowls and smoothies & shakes.

Here's a list of bowls that they offer (image taken from their website):

And a look at their smoothies & shakes (image taken from their website):

I had gone there with a group of friends and we all enjoyed different things - some of us tried the bowls & others got the shakes ...

Here's a look at the Blackberry Acai Bowl that I ordered: 

This was the smallest size that they offer ... You can tell from the picture that it was still fairly large in size! It was layered with the blend on the bottom, topped with granola, and fresh fruit! I'd say that my favorite part was the blend & the fresh fruit ... probably could have done without the granola, which is completely a personal preference so next time, I'll probably go ahead and try one of the smoothies instead to see how it stacks up!

I'm excited to have found a new place to go to that I really enjoyed ... Instead of asking friends to meet me at Starbucks for a cup of coffee, I'll probably venture out and ask if they're interested in trying something new and go here!

Just for your reference, here's a look at their entire website:

Do you have a place like Thrive in your home town?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Spicy Fish Taco Bowls

Yesterday, I was going through Pinterest, kind of on a creative kick, trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I came across a recipe I had pinned probably a few months ago and decided to give it a shot!

Spicy Fish Taco Bowls.

What you'll need for the fish:

Fish filets (I used two Tilapia filets)
Chili Powder (about 1 tablespoon)
Cumin (about 1 tablespoon)
Paprika (about 1 tablespoon)
Crushed Garlic (1 clove)
Olive Oil (about 1 tablespoon)
Salt & Pepper for taste

What you'll need for the vegetables:

Corn Kernels
Chopped Red Peppers
Chopped Red Onion
Cooked Black Beans

What you'll need for the rice:

Cooked Rice (I used white basmati ... about 1/4 cup)
Butter (about 1 tablespoon)
Chopped Cilantro (as desired)
Lime Juice (as desired)
Salt for taste

What you'll need for toppings:

Sliced Avocado
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Restaurant Style Salsa


I started off with the fish - Add olive oil to a pan with crushed garlic and heat. Place fish into the oil. Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper on to one side. Flip after about a minute and sprinkle the same seasoning on the other side. I like my fish to be well seasoned but you can add as much of the seasonings as you like. Once cooked completely on both sides, remove and set aside.

In the same pan, add corn kernels (I just used frozen corn), chopped red peppers, red onions, and cook until all are soft. Once vegetables are soft, add cooked black beans & heat. Remove from the pan and set aside. For this step, no extra oil or seasoning is required but you can add some if you find it to be necessary. You can use as many vegetables and beans as you want depending on what you like. I used only a small handful of each since I was only making one portion. 

To prepare the rice, again, you can use the same pan. Add butter to the pan and let it melt.  Fry together rice, cilantro, and lime. Season with salt.

You are now ready to assemble your bowl!

I first added rice at the bottom:

Topped it with vegetable & black bean mixture:

Added the fish:

Topped with cheese, sour cream, and avocado:

And sprinkled with salsa for a extra tangy, spicy kick:

Here's what an AMAZING bite of this dish looks like:

If you're a fan of spicy food, you can add extra chili powder to season the fish or use a hot salsa for your topping. I will definitely definitely DEFINITELY be making this again!!! 

Here's the link to the recipe for which I got my inspiration from:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Asian-Style Shrimp

One of my favorite quick-and-easy dinner recipes I like to put together is Asian-Style Shrimp. The best way I can describe this dish is: sweet and tangy with a little bit of a kick! When you read the ingredients, you'll see why!

NOTE: when I make this, I use my ingredients list as a template for what-not-to-forget but the quantity of each just depends - I will add what I think is necessary until I'm satisfied with the taste ... some days, it ends up a little bit sweeter due to the honey, other times, a little bit spicier due to the red pepper flakes, etc.

What you'll need for the marinade:

Olive Oil
Garlic (fresh works best but if you only have garlic powder, you can use that too)
Thyme (powder)
Ground Cumin
Red Pepper Flakes
Equal parts tamarind paste, white wine vinegar, & soy sauce (this is the only part that I'm picky about - make sure it's equal parts or it'll either get too tangy or too salty)
Fresh Cilantro

Another NOTE: equal parts tamarind paste, white wine vinegar, & soy sauce can be replaced with Worcestershire sauce, if you have that instead.

I try to pick up fresh shrimp when I make this but a lot of the times, I just use the frozen kind. I just de-tail and de-vein them and this is what it'll look like when they're added to the marinade:


Let marinate for about an hour or so. Add to skillet-type pan and cook.

Every time I make this, I'll make a side of vegetables as well - zucchini, green pepper, and yellow squash (tossed in some olive oil, salt, and pepper) along with rice. I had made this for Thomas & I when he moved into his new place. Here's how he assembled his dish (I forgot to take a photo of my plate) - a bed of rice topped with the vegetables and the shrimp!


I'm always looking for shrimp recipes and this is the only one that I consistently keep going back to. Do you have any favorite shrimp recipes?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Jello Cake

Now that I've committed to starting up my blog again, I thought I'd start off with a fun post with a recipe of something sweet. I had tried Jello Cake for the first time a few months ago at a friend's going-away party and my boyfriend liked it so much that he suggested I make it in the future. I figured I'd look up the recipe and give it a try. I'm not one who likes to put in a lot of effort when making cake (normally, I just make the cake and eat it plain - no frosting even!) so I was happy to see that this was pretty easy to put together!

What you'll need for the cake:

1 box of white cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 stick butter

What you'll need for the jello:

2 small packages Jello mix (or 1 large package)
2 cups hot water


Prepare and bake cake mix as directed on package. Let cool, completely.

Use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes into the cake. The best technique is to drill the spoon into the cake and spin 360 degrees. Gently pull spoon out of cake and repeat until the cake is full of holes. NOTE: if you find that when you're doing this step, the cake is falling apart or if the cake is sticking to the wooden spoon, it means it's not cool enough yet. Wait a little longer so the cake doesn't turn into mush. Also make sure that the holes you're drilling aren't too close together - it'll cause the cake to fall apart when you're cutting it.

Prepare Jello mix using only half of the water needed as described on the box (Example: large boxes of Jello call for 2 cups of hot water and 2 cups of cold - I just used 2 cups of hot water as it makes dissolving the Jello powder a lot quicker than adding to cold water). Let the jello-mix cool to room temperature and pour over the cake. NOTE: if the Jello is too warm, it will turn your cake into mush. Do not refrigerate the Jello mix to cool, but rather, let it sit for a little bit until it's cooled to room temperature. As long as you're not refrigerating it, you don't have to worry about it setting.

Once the cake it covered with Jello, place it in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours to chill. NOTE: if the cake hasn't been in the fridge for long enough, it'll be mushy and hard to cut. More importantly, it's an indication that the cake hasn't had a chance to absorb the Jello so refrigerate for a while longer for best results!

Frost cake with cool whip or freshly whipped cream.

And here's what a completed piece looks like:

I imagine that due to the simplicity of this cake and how delicious it was, I'll be making it frequently, especially for summer potlucks. The cool whip adds just a light and fluffy touch (which in my opinion makes it a lot more appealing that traditional frosting cakes) and the fruit jello makes it rather refreshing. I figure next time, I may try another flavor of Jello, and depending on what kind of Jello I use, it would be great to top it off with some fresh fruit!

What do you think about this cake? Have you tried any particular flavor that has been a big hit?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Miami & the Bahamas

I know I haven't done a blog entry in a while and I'm not sure that I'm ready to open up my Facebook page again but people have been asking me for quite some time how our trip that we recently took was! So here we go ... And just a warning: this is going to be a LONG post because I'm just going to smoosh everything in one.

Primarily, some background information: as many of you know from a previous post that I did, I graduated recently from college and it was my birthday at the end of May (the 29th) so as a perfect present, my mom asked if I was interested in taking a cruise ... TO THE BAHAMAS. Ummm, let me think about that for a minute. Actually, no, let me NOT even think about it but rather, SIGN ME UP!! ... And that's pretty much what happened. A phone call here, a phone call there, ticket booking here, cruise ship booking there, and we were all set to go. Well, our ship left from Miami so my mom asked if I wanted to spend a day there to see everything. Again: I have NEVER been to Miami so it was one of those " don't think but just sign me up for that too" things. We mostly just had a chance to see South Beach but it was ... AMAZING. Beyond what words can describe.

Here are some pictures I took while walking down the beach:

Oh, and here's one of me sinking in the sand while standing in the ocean ... it was pretty amazing because look how pretty the water is!! :)

Following our walk on the beach, we decided that we would take a duck tour. This is a bus that goes around  Miami beach AND then turns into a boat ... only after we quack though :o)

Here are a few of my best pictures I was able to capture while on the tour:

And here's the moment we entered the water ... while QUACK QUACK QUACKING!!!

The rest of these were taking while our bus was a boat.

This is me and my mom while on our tour! I love her :)

That evening we were walking down Ocean Blvd trying to decide which restaurant to eat at and they had MANY places to choose from. We were undecided as to where we should go but finally chose a restaurant. Here were two memorable items from the evening (and it was my bad because I was too preoccupied enjoying drinks and the calamari to take pictures of anything else):

And just like that, our Miami stay was over! But that was alright because the Bahamas was next!! Here are a few pictures that I took as we were walking to the ship:

Our ship left port at 4:00pm but we had gotten on at about noon so we had some time to kill and were exploring the ship. Here's a few pictures of us doing that:

Andddd official round 1 of drinks on the cruise ... also the moment that I fell in love with Pina Coladas :)

Every night, we would have dinner in a common dining room and there were 6 people seated at our table. For all of our nights, we had an all-ladies table and it was A LOT of fun. Here's our group:

And not even going to lie, I'm going to make things easier and just post all of the food pictures of the delicious things that we got to enjoy:

Next, I'm going to combine and post the pictures that we took while we were in CocoCay, Bahamas and Nassau, Bahamas as these were our stops:

And if that wasn't enough pictures for you, here's just a few more. First, here are pictures of us from formal dining night:

And lastly, by far, my favorite round of drinks:

Needless to say, this trip was AMAZING and I could not have enjoyed myself more. The cruise itself was three nights. Each night was packed with a lot of fun because there was so much to do and we hardly got any sleep and did everything possible! This included walking around the ship, going to shows, eating delicious food, having delicious drinks, etc! ... All I can say after that is: When are we going back?!