Ya Gotta Frittata

If you’re looking for an easy, crowd pleasing and hearty meal, look no further! We have a frittata almost weekly (either for dinner or brunch) and it’s just the best. If you’re not familiar, a frittata is similar to an omelet, but instead of solely being cooked on the stovetop, it’s also baked as well. It’s kind of a hybrid of an omelet and a quiche (without any crust).

The finished product!

We love frittatas for several reasons:

  • It’s a great way to use up aging veggies or meat in your fridge
  • They are easy and straightforward to make
  • They are very filling
  • They can be adapted to many types of diet and are relatively healthy
  • They’re delicious and keep well for leftovers

Here’s a recipe Ryan’s Mom Debbie gave us – I’ve updated it and changed some things.

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs, and 1-2 egg whites
  • 1 tbps butter or olive oil
  • 1 small/medium yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped veggies – I’ve used zucchini, broccoli or asparagus but use whatever you heart desires! I love asparagus with eggs, but anything works.
  • 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (optional, but a great add. Try any fun toppings you have on hand- extra onions, regular or some canned tomatoes, scallions, etc.)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup cooked meat (Canadian bacon, sausage cooked through, bacon, lunch meat, tofu, etc. this it optional!)
  • 2 red potatoes or 1 small/medium sweet potato – this is optional and a variation I just started incorporating, you could also try squash
  • Salt and pepper (haven’t measured- just to taste)
  • 1-2 tsp Garlic powder
  • Your choice of cheese for topping (optional)

How to make it:

  • Pre- heat oven to 415F.
  • Heat up your butter or olive oil in an oven safe 10” non-stick skillet over medium heat
  • Add your onion to the skillet, let it cook for at least five minutes (if you have time!) I try to let the onion caramelize a little bit.
  • Add in your chopped veggies and potatoes if you’re using those. Stir to combine with the onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let these cook anywhere from 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. They should be somewhat cooked but don’t necessarily need to be “done” or totally cooked through at the end of this timeframe since we’ll be baking this dish as well.
  • While the veggies are cooking, crack your eggs into a medium bowl and mix well with a whisk, adding in the two egg whites as well. Season with salt and pepper, and a little bit of garlic powder or seasoning du jour.
  • Add in the cooked meat and sun-dried tomatoes to the skillet. Stir to combine everything. At this point the skillet should be looking fairly full.
  • Add in the egg mixture, pouring evenly around the skillet. Let it cook on the stove top for 1-2 minutes, until the edges of the mixture are beginning to solidify. Top the mixture with cheese of your choice (optional).
  • Once the egg mixture has solidified around the edges (it will still be liquid-y in the middle) remove it (carefully!) from the stovetop and pop it in the oven.
  • Cook in the oven for 15-18 minutes.
  • That’s it! You’re done! Remove the skillet from the oven (using a mitt obviously but it’s easy to forget!) and slice it up, adding extra cheese as needed (or requested ☺️).

This recipe makes 5 good sized servings or 6 smaller servings. Ryan and I usually save half for later. This keeps really well overnight and is also great if you are hosting a brunch. I love this recipe because as long as you have eggs, you really can add any ingredients you like to make a delicious meal! We’ve used a variety of vegetables, meats, toppings, etc.

We use a non-stick skillet since we love ours, but a seasoned cast iron skillet would also work well I would think. If you have a bigger or smaller skillet on hand, make sure to adjust the baking time accordingly. Let me know if you try this- it’s so easy and is great to use up ingredients you may already have.

New (and old) Skincare Haul + tips for layering products!

I recently got to that point where I was running out of several products, so I decided to repurchase and try a few new ones as well. I noticed a ton of stores are having sales currently – there are sales at Sephora, Nordstrom, Ulta, Neiman Marcus, Tarte cosmetics, and various other beauty related sites. I am NOT here to talk about these sales today. I am here to tell you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for great skincare products. All of the items in my haul (photograph below) were under $150 total!

This may still seem like a lot (everything’s relative), but keep in mind many of these items will last at least a year, and this a full routine with items you may or may not want to incorporate. You could easily buy one or two products at Sephora for that price, and get a lesser quality product at that. Let’s dive in!

Repurchased Items:

I’ve already posted about this oil cleanser here, and I have a very important update 🚨. It *totally* wins over the more expensive Elemis brand oil cleanser, in every 👏🏻 single 👏🏻 category🚨. Having tried 4-5 oil cleansers, this one is hands down the best. This is one of my all time favorite skincare products and I would recommend it to anyone. Price: $17.00 linked here.

I am pretty bummed because the Elemis oil cleanser was so much more money and I had high expectations having heard great things about it from a few people. On the other hand, I’m also very happy because now I definitively know I can get a better product for 75% less. I think I kind of knew this would happen, because based on the price, the Elemis cleanser literally would have had to make me look 20 years old again to justify keeping it in regular rotation. Kind of a big ask for a cleanser, but nonetheless still annoyed about wasting my money. Live and learn!

The Banila product cleans much better, so you end up using way less. I think it takes off way more makeup/ buildup and is much easier to spread than the Elemis product. Similarly, I liked the texture of the Banila better – much less sticky. Lastly, as soon as I started using the Elemis products, my skin started breaking out in areas I’ve never really any issue with. It was honestly odd! Back to my old standby I go (happily)!

Ok. Moving on. I also repurchased the Biore UV Aqua Rich SPF. Best facial sunscreen ever and I stand by that! I blogged about it here. Light, moisturizing and blend-able – it bears no resemblance to traditional sunscreen products. Price: $8.48. Grab it here.

Up next is another repurchase from a few years ago! Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule. Does it sound gross? Yes, absolutely. Is it amazing? Also yes! Snail 🐌 mucin (literally snail slime) is very hydrating and wonderful for skin texture. Sidebar: Who discovered these benefits? And how? I digress. Snail “mucin contains ingredients like glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid which all have long-documented skin benefits.” Read more about its benefits here. Price: $15.89.

New Products:

Next up is a product I have been wanting to try for a while now. ‘The First Treatment Essence’ by Missha has somewhat of a ~cult~ following. This hydrating essence contains saccharomyces ferment filtrate (a type of yeast extract) amongst various other humectants, meaning it’s super moisturizing for your skin. This product is extremely similar to SK-II Facial Treatment Essence which retails for over $220.00. This post breaks down the similarities between the two products even more so. My skin has been looking a little bit drab lately so I figured I’d finally test this out! First thoughts: the packaging on this product is beautiful and feels very high end. It blended into my skin nicely. I will follow up once I’ve been using it consistently. Price: $29.00.

Another new-to-me product I purchased (also by Missha) is the Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule. This is also extremely popular and has been compared to Estée Lauder’s Advanced Nighttime Serum. A lot of beauty bloggers, skin experts, etc. swear by the EL product, but it’s at a much higher price point. I’ve heard a lot about this Missha dupe for years so I decided to finally test it out. First thoughts: again, beautiful packaging. I used it last night along with these other products and after my routine it seriously felt like I had a facial. Too early to see if it actually is the fountain of youth, but I’ll keep everyone posted. *Spoiler alert: there is no fountain of youth, except sunscreen.* Price $28.00.

I also purchased this vitamin C serum since I just ran out of my old one. Honestly, I’ve never heard of this brand (just like my last one) but it contains 20% vitamin C, 2% retinol, 5% hyaluronic acid, 2% salicylic acid, et. alt. For $15, it sounded like a great deal to me. Compare this with Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C brightening serum which has 15% vitamin C, and no hyaluronic/ salicylic acid that I could see, the Eva brand is a better fit (for my current skincare needs and wallet – clocking in at $14.95). The Sunday Riley product retails for $85 for the exact same size (1 ounce), however it also contains glycolic acid (which is an AHA) if you are in the market for that. First thoughts: I used it this morning after splashing my face with water. This followed a full cleansing routine the night before. It has a very nice, herbal smell and went on smoothly without burning my skin.

Next on the list – Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Gold Eye Gel Patch. These eye patches contain five collagen peptides and are supposed to be great for reducing puffiness. Honestly I bought them on a whim (somewhat) but I really struggle with puffy eyes quite frequently. For $15, you get 30 pairs of eye patches. I will likely use these on an “as-needed basis” so I’m hoping they will last a good amount of time. First thoughts: I used a pair this morning and I’m not gonna lie, after I removed the patches, they had de-puffed noticeably. Coincidence? Timing? Not sure – I left them on about ten minutes. More to come! PS – these have a lot of extra product so make sure to take advantage and rub it into the surrounding eye area.

Last but not least, I bought this CeraVe retinol serum. I was interested in a retinol product because I’ve noticed some discoloration where I had breakouts in the past. Retinol helps refinish the texture of skin (which should hopefully help with my aforementioned skin spots) and it can also help reduce pore size. CeraVe doesn’t list the amount of retinol in the product (which I find odd) but since it’s my first foray into this ingredient, I’m not too concerned. If I need something stronger, I will likely go to a dermatologist. I haven’t tried this serum yet but will post an update once I do.

It is important to note that if you are using a retinol product in addition to any sort of active acid (AHA or BHA) in your skincare routine you should really apply the products at different times. This is important because your skin could get not only get irritated, but retinol and acids just don’t mix well at a pH level. Retinol does not sit well on acidic skin, and vice versa! Using the two products back to back will also make both products less effective. Read more about the science in this great article.

If you want to incorporate both (like myself), you could use one in the morning and one in the evening. As an alternative, you could also rotate nights, aka, use AHAs/BHAs on M, W, F, and use a retinol product on the other nights. This is how I plan on working these products into my routine since I don’t necessarily use an acid every day – usually 3x per week. The other option is to wait 20-30 minutes in between use of these two products to allow your skin’s pH to return to normal.

Well that just about sums it up. I wanted to provide some great products that won’t break the bank! You don’t have to shop the sales when you can get great products at great price points. Have you tried any of these products? Any other favorites you love to use? Let me know in the comments.

Spring, or April Fool’s?

Good morning and happy weekend everyone!

What a weird spring it has been. Aside from COVID affecting every aspect of normal life, we’ve also had some really weird weather in Northeast Ohio this month. We went from almost 70 degrees to snow overnight! It’s almost as if Mother Nature knows *something* is up and is throwing her hat in the ring too!

That said, I can’t complain at all. I’ve been walking outside every single day (multiple times a day) and have really enjoyed being able to see all the spring blooms and shoots sprouting up from the frosty earth. Even my morning walk in the recent snowfall (on April 16th 😭) was peaceful and beautiful. I feel extremely lucky that I am healthy and able to experience the beauty of the season, more so than in past years.

Here are some shots from walking around the neighborhood these past few weeks! These are all on an iPhone 📱 so nothing too remarkable from a photography perspective, however I enjoyed noticing little bits of beauty, rays of sunshine, and other things I may have missed in years gone by when I wasn’t getting outside as much this time of year.

Our lovely little street. This day was perfect weather wise!
This house is on a street we walk by frequently. I love the symmetry (shocker) and the little dormer windows. What a beautiful home!
My two favorites on one of our regular routes.
Happy daffies!
Blossoming beginnings

Same tree as above but in full bloom!

Snowy morning April 16th, 2020
This house ☺️

I hope that you’re having a great weekend and spring season, staying healthy and safe. Cheers to warmer, sunnier days ahead!

My Lazy Bolognese Recipe

TGIF everyone!

Today I want to share a quick and delicious recipe Ryan and I have enjoyed several times in recent weeks. It is somewhat similar to a bolognese (although citizens of Bologna would likely *strongly* disagree 🤣), but doesn’t require any sweating of onions, braising of meats, or long waiting periods. This dish is not meant to replace a traditional bolognese, it’s just an easier, quicker take on it.

This recipe comes together in under 30 minutes, so it fits right into my #lazydinner vibes. Next time we make it, I will take some photos and update this post. We usually devour it so quickly I forget to capture anything!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb ground beef, we used 85% lean grass fed beef
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and shredded (I use a cheese grater and it works great, or you can buy pre-shredded carrots)
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce or 1-2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes (we used Rao’s Marinara Sauce – bc we had it, and did not have any fire roasted tomatoes. I love it because it’s all natural with no sugar and is very yummy.)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic; very finely chopped or Micro-planed
  • 2-3 tbps tomato paste
  • 1 tbps Italian seasoning (we used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset)
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pasta of your choice, prepared per instructions – we used Banza (chickpea pasta) again!
  • Parmesan, ricotta, or mozzarella for topping

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Start by browning your ground beef in a large skillet over medium- high heat. I do not use any olive oil or anything due to the fat content in the beef. Simultaneously, start boiling the water to prepare your pasta, if using dry pasta.
  2. While beef is cooking, shred your carrots. Again, I used a cheese grater to do this but you can do it in seconds with a food processor or buy shredded carrots at the store. I do think home shredded carrots would work better because they are fresher and more likely to take on the flavor of the sauce.
  3. After the beef has cooked around 5-6 minutes, add in the shredded carrots and stir. Add in the Italian seasoning, oregano, a few dashes of red pepper flakes, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Stir to make sure everything is coated.
  4. Add in the tomato paste, stir to combine.
  5. Add in your garlic. I usually do this live, so I just microplane the garlic right into the sauce. Stir to combine.
  6. Finally, crack open the jar of pasta sauce and add the whole thing in. Stir well. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. After the mixture is boiling, reduce to a simmer.
  7. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, however long you need to wait while your pasta cooks. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors will meld.
  8. Once your pasta is cooked and strained, your dinner is ready! Serve in bowls and top with an additional sprinkle of red pepper flakes and cheese. I’m partial to Parmesan but ricotta, mozzarella, or a blend would work great too!

That’s it! This makes four large servings. It could easily be 5 medium servings. It is delicious the next day and heats up well. I love this recipe so much – it’s delicious, filling and so easy. Let me know if you make it! Bon Appetit!

Marrakech Express: My Trip to Morocco

Since we have all been under quarantine measures the last month or so, I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and finally write about one of my all time favorite trips. And no, it’s not Italy but don’t worry, I will be posting more in that series soon!

Back in May of 2017 I went to one of the most visually stunning locations in the world: Marrakech, Morocco. It was a *very* last minute trip and one of my absolute favorites to date. If you are thinking of heading to Morocco I can’t recommend it enough and I hope to return one day. This post is fairly detailed, so feel free to skip to the bottom for the ~lite~ version.

I normally plan bigger trips like this well in advance. However, my jet-setting friend Dana had a trip planned and when I jokingly suggested (three weeks out) I should tag along on her upcoming adventure, she invited me. The next thing I knew, a far fetched dream had become a reality and I bought a plane ticket to AFRICA!

Marrakech is an ancient city, in the foothills of the stunning Atlas Mountains. We stayed in the ‘medina’ area of Marrakech. This is the older, central section within the original city walls. Outside of the walls, there are modern looking buildings, boulevards, a McDonald’s 🤣, etc. like any larger city. Within the medina, you will find a maze of brick and straw houses, narrow unpaved alleyways, and motor bikes speeding around every corner. Most of the buildings here are crafted from red sandstone, giving the city a warm earthy appearance. Stalls line the roads, filled with fresh fruit, herbs, and pastries. It is bustling with people, day and night.

Because I didn’t do a lot of planning (zero tbh) for this trip, I didn’t really have any expectations. When I thought of Morocco before this journey, certain words came to mind: sandy, isolated, antiquated, and mirages in the desert (lol). Many of these words are very much applicable, but I left knowing that there is also so much more to Marrakech and the surrounding area! It is completely inspirational from an architectural and design perspective, and while there are European influences, it was entirely different than anywhere I’ve gone before.

Typical colors of Marrakech

I am going to go through some of my favorite experiences and hope that this will serve as a guide if you are looking to explore the area. Or, if you’re a daydreamer like me, maybe it will offer a little inspiration. Luckily, I made a huge note on my iPhone during this trip which served as a great reminder of everything I saw. Let’s get to it!

I couldn’t believe my eyes most days.
Beauty and inspiration around every corner.

Some of my favorite things:

Take a few hours to walk around the medina and accept that you will probably get lost. The streets are like a maze and can be difficult to figure out at first. There are dozens of ‘riads,’ or guest houses (similar to bed and breakfasts in the US), throughout the medina, that serve tea, food or drinks. Go explore and see what you find! I saw some of the most incredible scenes all within the riads of the old city.

Stained glass window.
I love the intricate stone carvings on each of these columns.
The tile work and artistry in Marrakech is unbelievable.
Ceiling detail.

Make your way to the central square known as Jemaa el-Fnaa. The square is full of vendors selling their wares. It is very lively (a tad hectic) and full of locals and tourists alike. You don’t need to stay long but I definitely recommend visiting for the experience (and this is coming from someone who doesn’t love crowds).

Ben Youssef
A beautiful door on a typical alleyway

After you’ve had your fill wandering through Jemaa el-Fnaa, head next door to the neighboring souk. I bought some exquisite traditional pottery here that I was able to pack and take home with me. I also picked up a lovely Jacques Majorelle print and had it framed back home. It’s one of my favorite souvenirs ☺️.

The stalls are filled with everything you could imagine. If you have been looking to redecorate your home in the very #ontrend Moroccan style – make sure you spend time exploring this area. Berber carpets and pillows, woven baskets, lanterns, leather poufs, stools, furniture, etc. at a fraction of the cost of items for sale in the US. They will ship items for you as well!

Once you’re done shopping, leave the souk and wander the nearby narrow streets, stopping for traditional Moroccan mint tea. There are a ton of cafes with rooftops in this area. Head upstairs and away from the crowds. The views over the city are beautiful and Moroccan mint tea is a daily ritual for many citizens. Served hot (or iced) with handfuls of fresh mint and home baked pastries, it is a celebrated activity, and not to be missed.

Daily tea at the riad.

If you are up for a more *adventurous* activity, visit a traditional hamman. A hamman is similar to a turkish bath – a public type of steam room – and they are very popular in Morocco. My friend and I went to the hammam located within the exquisite La Sultana Hotel and it was incredible. Before you visit, I would definitely recommend researching what the experience entails as it may not be for everyone (hint: you get naked and your entire body gets exfoliated beyond belief.) There are separate areas for men and women, and at La Sultana, they offered private spa services as well. At the end of the “experience” I felt utterly relaxed. We were served mint tea and enjoyed their pool for several hours. I loved it and would do it again!

Detail of the beautiful hotel.
Just stunning. The elegant chairs, lanterns and red tile floor.
We stayed here a while after the hammam ☺️

If you stay at or visit La Sultana, make sure to head next door to ‘Saadien’s Tombs,’ a beautiful necropolis dating back from the 1500s. Sultans, sheiks, and other royals have been buried here for centuries. The architecture and buildings within this space are breathtaking. Detailed tile, carved stone, and beautifully colored arches adorn the buildings. The Chamber of Twelve Columns is the stunning centerpiece of the tombs.

Chamber of Twelve Columns – speechless!
Intricate carvings on a wooden door at the Saadien Tombs.

Another favorite stop on the trip was The Jardin Majorelle. French painter Jacques Majorelle planned and created this enchanting urban garden over several decades. Filled with the most striking colors and lucious plants from the world over, it was definitely one of the most visually stunning locations in all of Marrakech. I loved wandering around surrounded by fronds and palms. Most of the garden is well shaded and a welcome respite from the high temperatures.

I’m convinced this is the most beautiful shade of blue ever: Majorelle Blue.

From the official website: “We amble along shady lanes, in the midst of trees and exotic plants of dreamy origin; we walk past refreshing, burbling streams and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers; we hear wafting through the air, laden with sugared fragrance, the rustling of leaves and the chirping of numerous birds who come here to take refuge; we stop, and the path turns unexpectedly, revealing a building with Moorish charm, with a hint of Art Deco, painted in astonishingly vibrant primary colours, glowing with an intense blue the artist perceived in the Atlas Mountains.” I mean….. don’t think I can top that description.

It is a very popular spot with tourists and fairly #instafamous, so I would recommend arriving early to beat the crowds. We came here as part of a bike tour in the afternoon and as such, it was a little bit crowded. Make sure to check out the adjoining exhibits and gift shops.

Once you’ve had your share of exploring the medina, venture out of the city to the Atlas Mountains. There are tons of day trips or guided tours to choose from – hiking, camping, caravan-ing, etc.

The lush landscape of the Atlas Mountains – unexpectedly verdant.

We did an overnight trip to the Sahara Desert and it was truly one of the most magical and memorable experiences of my life. We rode camels into the sunset with Berber guides and arrived at a well setup camp on the outskirts of the Sahara.

One of my favorite pictures I have ever taken.
Just call me the ~dromedary~ whisperer 🐪

The sky was a beautiful clear blue and the moon and stars twinkled above us. Our host, Youssef, poured the group tea while we learned about his life and experiences. The only downside in all of this were the giant scarab beetles scurrying through the sand. Gave me flashbacks to “The Mummy,” but hey, if I can get through it (and love it), I guarantee you can too.

One of our hosts, Youssef.
Sunrise.

Another day trip that is a must in my opinion is Ait Ben Haddou. This ancient ksar, or grouping of buildings, is a UNESCO world heritage site and “illustrates the traditional earthen habitat, representing the culture of southern Morocco.” Ait Ben Haddou is a well preserved former trading post that sits in the shadow of the Atlas mountains. It has recently become a more popular tourist destination, appearing in several films, including a personal favorite, “Gladiator.” I recommend getting a tour of this site if possible.

Throughout your stay, make sure to sample copious amounts of local foods. Moroccan food is a unique and mouthwatering blend of Middle Eastern, European and African cuisines filled with spices and flavor. A a typical dinner might include a tajine, which is a cone shaped pottery dish, used to cook herbed meats and vegetables, along with delicious fresh couscous. We also loved the homemade breakfast at our riad. Fresh squeezed orange juice (the best I’ve ever had, don’t skip it!), yogurt, and delicious pastries each morning.

Our daily breakfast.
Dreamy lunch setting at El Fenn.
Mint goes with everything here.

Lastly, take time to relax! Many riads and hotels offer beautiful pools for a small fee. The temperatures are HOT (90s) so taking a dip in a pool is a welcome activity. Pick out a few places you’d like to visit and plan out a few hours of relaxation throughout your stay. Most of the hotels who have pools also have wonderful spas with a variety of affordable treatments.

Wrapping it up:

I hope you enjoyed this post about Marrakech. Going through these photos was such a joy, especially with our current state of affairs. Taking time to reflect and appreciate past trips is so important and often forgotten in this fast paced world. I loved this city and wished I had more time to see it all – and in the surrounding areas as well. The people, culture, food, etc. were all amazing. Marrakech is city of contrasts- both new and old, bold and subdued, coexisting in a beautifully symbiotic way. Have you been to Morocco? What was your favorite part? Where else would you recommend exploring? Check out my “quick hits,” section below for even more suggestions! Thanks for reading and following along.

Quick hits:

Where to Stay: We stayed at a the cutest boutique hotel called Riad BE Marrakech. It was honestly perfect with some of the best service I have ever experienced anywhere. The co-owners were younger (one Swiss, one Moroccan) and very helpful and welcoming. I would stay here again in a heartbeat. Here are some other options for a variety of price ranges:

  • Riad Yasmine – couldn’t find pricing but I remember researching this place and it looked amazing – great reviews and location!
  • Riad Karmela (Budget & great reviews – $48 USD/night)
  • Riad Saba (Budget – $60 USD/night)
  • Riad Palais des Princesses (Budget -$70 USD/night)
  • Riad & Spa Spirit of Morocco (Budget/Moderate – $94 USD/night) – we actually came in here and had drinks by their lovely pool!
  • Riad Les Yeux Bleus (Moderate – $150 USD/night)
  • 72 Riad Living (Moderate/higher end – $170 USD/night)
  • La Sultana (Luxury – $380+/night)
  • El Fenn (Luxury -$420+ USD/night)
  • Royal Mansour Marrakech (Luxury – $500+ USD/night)
  • La Mamounia (Luxury – didn’t look and don’t want to 🤣!)

There are also tons of places listed on AirBNB. A lot of boutique hotels list their rooms on this platform so I would be sure to check their inventory as well. The bottom line is you could easily stay in a nice, safe hotel for well under $100USD/ night. With breakfast included, I think its one of the more affordable trips I’ve been on!

Where to Eat:

Ugh. I didn’t do the best job of keeping track of where we ate when we visited, but I do remember everything being very good. I love Middle Eastern food in general so it wasn’t hard for me to find things I liked.

My two most memorable meals were very different. The first was the meal we had on our desert excursion trip. Fresh baked bread, and tajines full of savory chicken, lamb, onions, and vegetables. We ate communal style inside the yurts of our Berber hosts. It was so simple but so fresh and delicious. The other meal I still remember to this day is the lunch we had at El Fenn. The hotel itself is next-level beautiful. I *highly* recommend dining here as the food and service were both incredible. Fresh everything. We ate on their rooftop terrace and it was just perfection! If you visit El Fenn, make sure to check out the shop within the hotel. It is full of remarkable and unique handmade goods.

As I mentioned before, the breakfasts included in our stay were a delight. I suggest booking a hotel or AirBNB that includes breakfast. Fresh cappuccino, orange juice (not to be missed, even if you are not an OJ fan), tea, flatbread, yogurt and fruit each morning.

What to Do:

  • Shop in the souks and look for spices, pottery, leather items, or home goods. Make sure you barter to get the best price!
  • Explore the various riads throughout the city. We wandered around and walked into ones that caught our eyes for tea, coffee, a snack, or meal.
  • Enjoy a refreshing mint tea and don’t forget a fresh squeezed orange juice as well
  • Visit Jemaa el-Fnaa and let it all soak in!
  • The Saadien Tombs – significant necropolis for Moroccan royalth
  • Ben Youssef Madrasa – A historic Islamic college with beautiful Andalusian architecture
  • Palacio da Bahia – A beautiful 19th Century Palace
  • Jardin Majorelle – Stunning garden oasis
  • Musee Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech – didn’t get a chance to make it here but this museum is entirely devoted to the iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent
  • Ait Ben Haddou – UNESCO heritage site outside of Marrakech
  • Book a bike tour – We did a bike tour that was amazing! We had a guide for a few hours that took us to several amazing sites. The roads can be a little bit scary as there are people on motor bikes, cars, and even goats, but our guide was very patient with us.
  • Book a spa or hamman experience – We loved La Sultana however there are a plethora of options to choose from in different price ranges. This was considered a luxury spa and the hammam which was at least an hour was $38USD. You could go to the public hammam or a much less expensive one as well, but this option felt like a treat.
Until we meet again!

Easy Filling Breakfast Hash

Back with another quick, filling recipe for my readers. This one comes from the “Always Hungry?” book I wrote about in my smoothie post. This recipe is great for breakfast/ brunch but we’ve also had it for lunch and dinner as well! It couldn’t be easier and it’s so filling.

And the recipe is: Black Bean Tofu Hash. To some readers this might sound delicious, to others (like myself), it might sound more like, “ew, beans and tofu?” I too was a skeptic but we’ve had this recipe at least half a dozen times in the last two months and it really is delicious. I had only ever had tofu sparingly in the past, but I’ve been buying it on each grocery trip (or grocery delivery) these days.

I love this recipe because it’s quick, feels hearty, and is inexpensive to boot. Like all great recipes you can easily modify it 😆 and add to it based on what you have in your kitchen.

This is basically all you need!

Let’s get to it! Without further ado, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu (or whatever firmness you prefer) well drained/ pressed*
  • 1 clove of garlic (or more if you are a fellow garlic lover) minced or microplane-d (I think I just made that a verb)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
  • Southwest seasoning (we made our own blend using 1 tbps Chili powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp chipotle, 1 tbsp Cumin, and a dash of salt)
  • Toppings: cheddar cheese, scallions, cilantro, sour cream, taco sauce (go nuts here!)

How to make it:

  • Start by heating the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds or so. Yum… the smell of garlic and olive oil is just the best.
  • Add the tofu, crumbling it with your fingers as it goes into the pan. It will kind of resemble ground meat at this point. Stir around for another minute.
  • I add about 3/4 of my seasoning at this point, stirring to make sure all the tofu is coated.
  • Dump in the can of black beans and stir. Add the rest of the seasoning.
  • Let the mixture sit over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the flavors meld together.
  • That’s it. Scoop it into a bowl and enjoy. Yes, you’re literally done except for toppings!
Doesn’t look like much but it’ll taste great!

I love to top this with cilantro (the original recipe calls for adding into the mixture whilst in the pan, but I like the fresher taste of it on top) or scallions. I would also recommend using sour cream or cheese to get in some fat as the rest of the ingredients have no fat, except the tsp of olive oil. You could also add some taco sauce or salsa!

This recipe makes four servings and it keeps really well for next day consumption :). I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! If you haven’t used tofu before #tofubie (tofu + newbie, no, just me?), I think you should give it a chance. It’s a great substitute for meat and takes on the delicious flavors of this dish – the more garlic the better! Honestly I do not think ground chicken or turkey would taste any better in this dish, but if you have those on hand you could substitute as needed and they would work well.

*Editor’s note: I wrapped our tofu in a dish towel and set a pan on top of it for ~20 min to get more liquid out, but I normally don’t have time to do this and just press as much water out as I can with a dish towel or paper towel. The joys of the weekend hours!

One Skillet Wonder Dinner

Hi friends!

Today I’m sharing a tried and true recipe that Ryan and I absolutely love. The original recipe is from Chelsy’s Messy Apron, linked here.

Almost done!

With current social distancing measures in place, Ryan and I have been eating every meal at home (obviously). This adds up to a lot more dishes than we have ever had! Seriously, every day, there is a stockpile of dishes waiting to be rinsed (and yes, we do have a dishwasher which we are running daily).

I love this recipe for many reasons: it’s easy, cheesy, delicious, adaptable comfort food and, the kicker…. it only requires one pan! We have made this dish a LOT (it’s pinned to our “Favorite Recipes” board) and everyone seems to love it. It’s super filling and soooo easy – the perfect meal for when you just really don’t feel like cooking.

As I mentioned above, it’s also easily adaptable to different dietary restrictions or preferences. We substituted Banza elbow pasta (made entirely from chickpeas) for normal elbow pasta. You can also include chipotle peppers, bell peppers, or any other items you may need to use up in your fridge! You can make this as spicy or mild as you want, depending on the salsa and taco sauce you use.

If you have kids it could be a fun recipe to have them help out with, and it’s sure to please the pickiest of palates.

Without further ado – here is the recipe that we have modified a bit along the way.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (could also use ground turkey/chicken, tofu, or even a few cans of beans!)
  • 1 cup of salsa (or a can of tomatoes with some spices and scallions would work too!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1-2 (or more) cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 cup of taco sauce
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • Taco seasoning – you can buy a premixed packet or make your own! We made our own using 1 tbps chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp chipotle powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Yum!
  • 2 cups of elbow pasta (or other small shaped pasta). We used Banza pasta.*
  • 1- 2 cups shredded cheese (we erred on the generous side here)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Toppings: Sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), scallions, cilantro, etc.

  1. Start by browning the ground beef (or substitution) in your skillet over medium heat. This should take around 4-7 minutes depending on the amount and type of meat you use.
  2. Remove beef from stove and drain (I skipped this step so it is technically optional and saves additional dishes #lazyAF)
  3. Add your onion and garlic to the pan with the ground beef. Sauté for a minute or two over medium heat.
  4. Add in your taco seasoning and stir so everything gets evenly coated.
  5. Add in the corn, taco sauce, and salsa. Stir so everything is well combined.
  6. Add in the pasta and 1 cup of water and stir to combine.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce heat to low or medium-low and simmer, covered, for 5-7 minutes. If you are using a nonstick skillet, you’ll need to stir the mixture every two minutes or so.
  8. Remove the cover and add in the last cup of water, again, stirring to combine everything. Cover again and continue to cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  9. Turn off the heat and stir. Add in the shredded cheese and stir until it’s all melted and delicious 😋.
  10. Serve in a bowl with your favorite toppings!
Pin this recipe for later!

* Please note, if you substitute the small elbow pasta for something more substantial (like penne, rigatoni, etc.), you may need to add a few additional minutes for the cooking time.