Category Archives: Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Kentucky Derby Party

April 19, 2017

Kentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby PartyThrowing a party doesn’t have to be a tone of work or super stressful. I think if you have a great drink, a sweet and a savory snack and a fun take-away – everyone is guaranteed to have have a good time. If you want to appear a little more on the fancy side, may a suggest throwing a little Kentucky Derby Viewing Party. Really I love any excuse to host a get-together, but one with a little Southern charm feels classy.Kentucky Derby Party This year, Ghirardelli is an official sponsor of the Kentucky Derby and they have just come out with the NEW Dark Chocolate Bourbon Caramel SQUARE. It is soooo good. Bitter sweet dark chocolate filled with creamy, rich bourbon flavored caramel – it’s a match made in heaven. Any good Southern-inspired party definitely needs these delicious chocolates served. Oh man you guys, I’ve had to limit myself to one a day, because they are the perfect little sweet treat.
Kentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby PartyFor my little get-together, I’m serving Ghirardelli‘s NEW Dark Chocolate Bourbon Caramel SQUARES, Chipotle Lime Pecans, and Virgin Mint Juleps. As a little party favor, all the guests are going home with a mini trophy filled with a tine mint plant, so they can go home and make more mint juleps. To bring a little winning good luck, I used pretty ceramic trophies to hold flowers and treats. Party decor doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming. Some fresh flowers can really make a party festive in no time at all.Kentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby PartyWhen I think Southern treats, pecans always come to mind. These sweet, salty and a little spicy Chipotle Lime Pecans and the perfect pairing for Ghirardelli’s NEW Dark Chocolate Bourbon Caramel SQUARES.Kentucky Derby Party

Chipotle Lime Pecans

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp. chipotle
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups whole pecans
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Toss all the ingredients in a bowl together to coat all the pecans evenly. Spread out on a parchment lined baking tray. Place in a 350F over for about 20 mins. Toss half way through the baking time. If the nuts are starting to get dark brown, remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely and then break apart any nuts that a stuck together. Store in an airtight container.

Kentucky Derby Party

When I think about a warm Southern day, a refreshing Mint Julep comes to mind of course. And since I’m a fan of the mocktail, I’v come up with a fun virgin version of this Southern classic.Virgin Mint JulepVirgin Mint Julep

Virgin Mint Julep

  • 1/2 cup fresh mint chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ginger ale
  • lime juice
  • crushed or small pebble ice
  • powdered sugar, lime wedges and sprigs of mint for garnish

Start by making the mint simple syrup. In a small pot, place the water, sugar and mint. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. I like to leave the mint leaves in the syrup as long as possible. When you are ready to serve the drinks, stain off the mint leaves with a fine metal sieve. Store the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Fill a glass with crushed ice. Add two  2 oz. mint syrup, the juice of half a lime and ginger ale to fill the glass. Stir and top the glass with more ice. Sprinkle the top of the drink with powdered sugar and garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of fresh mint.

This drink can also be made in a pitcher if you are serving a large crowd and you don’t want to fuss with mixing individual drinks. 1 liter of ginger ale, mixed with the full batch of mint simple syrup and the juice of 3 limes make enough to serve 6-8 guests.Virgin Mint JulepKentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby Party

Here’s to getting lucky in Kentucky!

This post is sponsored by Ghirardelli Chocolate, thank you for supporting the awesome companies that help make this blog possible. 


Food & Drink

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

April 18, 2017

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

I must be ready for Summer, because I want strawberry flavored EVERYTHING! We planted a few strawberry plants about a month ago and we are already enjoying a few berries every couple of days. Picked from the garden, they are perfection, so sweet and juicy.

A strawberry mocktail is definitely Summer in a glass. And you know how much a love a fruit and herb combo. Basil gives this drink a fun earthy twist. This drink is on the sweeter side, so salt rim is kind of nice.

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • lemon/lime soda
  • lime juice
  • strawberries, basil, salt and lime slices for garnish

Start be making the Strawberry Basil Syrup. In a food processor, pulse strawberries, basil and sugar. Pour the puree into a small pot, and add lemon juice. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes. Cool completely, and pour through a metal sieve. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks

Rim a glass with salt and then fill with ice, squeeze the juice of half a lime, add one part Strawberry Basil Syrup to two parts lemon/lime soda (sprite or sierra mist). Stir and garnish.

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

If you are locking for a real margarita recipe and think that maybe the tequila is missing, you can check out this recipe.

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

Food & Drink

Boysenberry Basil Limeade and the Boysenberry Festival

April 11, 2017

Boysenberry Basil LimeadeBoysenberry Basil Limeade

Today I’m sharing a fun mocktail with you inspired by Knott’s Berry Farm‘s Boysenberry Festival. This year, this Boysenberry Basil Limeade will definitely be served at out Easter brunch.

Last weekend, we headed a couple hours South to visit Knott’s Berry Farm for all the fun festivities. I think it’s going to be an annual tradition for the McConnels. We went last year and were instantly hooked. The kids loved the rides of course and all the Boysenberry treats were out of this world. The Boysenberry Festival is open from April 1-23. Yes, there is lots of delicious food, but there is also a lot of special shows and entertainment happening as well.

I picked up a few Boysenberry treats from their shop so I could bring home some of that yumminess – Boysenberry Syrup, Honey and Tea.

Boysenberry Basil Limeade Boysenberry Basil Limeade

Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival

This is the perfect time of year to visit Knott’s. The weather is perfection in California right now and the park is full of gorgeous flowers. All throughout the park, there are lots of Boysenberry treats to be found. The boysenberry donut is still my favorite treat in the park. But with the Boysenberry Festival Tasting Card, we got to try a little of everything. How can you pick a favorite with a delicious menu like this:

  • Boysenberry Pizza
  • Boysenberry Ravioli
  • Boysenberry Buffalo Wings
  • Boysenberry BBQ Meatballs
  • Boysenberry Fry Bread
  • Boysenberry Panna Cotta

Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry FestivalKnott's Berry Farm Boysenberry FestivalKnott's Berry Farm

This might be one of best mocktails I’ve made in a while. I’m a huge fan of an egg white in a drink. Not only does it make the prettiest drink, it’s also tastes delicious.

Boysenberry Basil Limeade

  • 1 oz. boysenberry syrup
  • 1 oz. basil simple syrup
  • 1/2 cup limeade
  • 1 egg white
  • ice
  • lime slices and fresh basil leaves for garnish

Start by making the basil simple syrup. You will want to make this drink one glass at a time. You will want to serve it right away, while the drink is super frothy. Pour 1 oz. boysenberry syrup, 1 oz. basil syrup, 1/2 cup limeade and the egg white in a shaker or large mason jar. Shake vigorously to combine all the ingredients. Once it begins to get a little frothy, add a couple ice cubes and shake some more. Pour the drink into a glass, straining out the ice. Garnish and serve right away.

Basil Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 fresh basil leaves finely chopped

In a small pot, bring the water, sugar and basil to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Strain the syrup through a fine metal sieve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Boysenberry Basil LimeadeBoysenberry Basil Limeade

We are in Northern Cali with my parents this week. They live in Eureka. It’s our Spring Break. We are excited to enjoy Easter with family. And I always love exploring this area. Follow along on IG stories, I’m share lots of fun destinations and yummy things to eat.


Food & Drink

Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-Margarita

April 4, 2017

Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-MargaritaI’m a huge fan of sweet and spicy combinations. This Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-Margarita has hint of heat, just enough to make it interesting. We love Mocktails, because the whole family can enjoy them. But, if you are looking for a more serious drink, be sure to check out this recipe, for a fun twist on a traditional margarita.

This might just be one of the prettiest drinks out there. And you’d be surprised, even kids like the touch of jalapeno. The only change I might make for youngsters is to rim the glass with sugar instead of salt. Personally I love the salt, it’s such a satisfying combination with a fairly sweet drink like this one. Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-MargaritaBlood Orange Jalapeno Mock-Margarita

  • 5 cups blood orange juice
  • juice of 2 limes
  • Jalapeno Simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • ice
  • course salt
  • blood orange slices and thin slices of jalapeno for garnish

In a large pitcher with lots of ice, mix the blood orange juice, lime juice and simple syrup. Rim the glasses with raw sugar and lime zest. Garnish with limes and jalapeno slices.

Jalapeno Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 jalapenos sliced

Bring the ingredients to a boil and boil one minute. Remove from the heat and then chill for 1-2 hours. Pour through a metal sieve to remove the jalapeno slices and seeds. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-Margarita

Cheers to a great week ahead! I’m celebrating having my taxes done with one of these refreshing drinks tonight.

Food & Drink

Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean Salad

March 29, 2017

The air is warm and I’m ready for some quick easy salads for lunches and even dinner. This Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean Salad will definitely going to be on repeat here in the McConnel house. It’s packed with lots of good stuff and definitely is not lacking in flavor. I love salads like this that make me feel like I’m eating a treat instead of depriving myself.Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean SaladAs you know, I was in Sweden last week. One thing I noticed about Swedes, is that they don’t have very much fast food. Everywhere you are, you are guaranteed to find a hearty salad and veggie loaded sandwiches. This salad was definitely inspired by the healthier choices that were readily available in Sweden.Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean SaladA touch sweet, tangy and loaded with crunch, every bite of this salad will make your mouth happy.

Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean Salad

  • 2 cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 a red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted and halved
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 cup cooked farro
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breast. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chicken and sprinkle it with the fresh rosemary. Cook 5-7 mins. on each side, or until the chicken breast is cooked through completely. While the chicken is cooking, make the dressing. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 mins.

In a large bowl combine all the veggies, garbanzo beans and farro. I like to by pre-cooked farro for convenience, but farro can be easily cooked on the stove top. Bring to a boil 3/4 cup farro with 2 cups of water. Reduce to low and simmer for 25-30.

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and toss with the veggie mixture.

Lemon Garlic Dressing

  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender or food processor. Blend on high to mix the ingredients together well. Pour over the salad and toss.

Sprinkle the salad with a little extra feta and serve chilled.


Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean Salad

This salad gets better with time. So, you’ll definitely enjoy this salad the second day as well.

Food & Drink

Orange Mango Turmeric Tea

March 27, 2017

Oh my goodness, Sweden has been amazing! I’ve had an amazing trip with my mom. We’ve walked, visited, laughed, tourist-ed, and eaten WAY TOO MUCH!

Healthy eating starts are soon as I hit the ground. And this Orange Mango Turmeric Tea will be the perfect refreshing drink to get me through this week of getting back into normal life. Turmeric is a fun addition to this drink, it adds a yummy earthy flavor and also lots of anti-inflammatory benefits.

Orange Mango Turmeric Tea

Check out the full recipe HERE!

Orange Mango Turmeric TeaOrange Mango Turmeric TeaOrange Mango Turmeric Tea

Food & Drink

Spicy Spanish Rice with Lime Crema

March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patty’s Day friends. I’m off on an adventure today.  I’m headed to Sweden with my Mom. We are so excited. My Grandpa was Swedish and a few years ago we went a visited all his extended family. We are going back to see them all again and of course doing a little site seeing. I’m pretty anxious about leaving my family, but I’m also very excited to spend this time with my mom. I feel very selfish taking this trip. But I really feel like I need a break. I’ll be sharing lots on Instagram and IG stories. I’m really excited to soak up all that awesome Swedish design and style. I’m hoping to come back super inspired and a lot little stressed out.

Spicy Spanish Rice with Lime Crema

I thought I’d send you into the weekend with a yummy Spicy Spanish Rice and Lime Crema recipe. This easy recipe uses Natalie’s Carrot Tomato Celery Juice, but I know it’s not available were everyone lives. So, a good substitute is V8 juice. I love a good one pot recipe. And the Lime Crema might be one of the best things I’ve made in a while. I kind of want to drizzle it over EVERYTHING!

Get the full recipe HERE!

Spicy Spanish Rice with Lime Crema Spicy Spanish Rice with Lime Crema Spicy Spanish Rice with Lime Crema Spicy Spanish Rice with Lime Crema Spicy Spanish Rice with Lime Crema

Have a great weekend!

Food & Drink

Mango Ginger Mocktail

March 7, 2017

This mocktail is definitely influenced by my South Pacific childhood. I grew up with a huge mango tree in our yard. It had so many mangos, that we just couldn’t eat them all. And ginger – well I think it’s my favorite flavor in sweet or savory food.

Mango Ginger MocktailThis fun mocktail is dressed up with edible flowers floating in eat glass. Did you know that pansies were edible, well they are (most varieties). Just be sure to buy them from an organic grower, you don’t want to put a whole bunch of chemicals and pesticides into your pretty drinks.
Mango Ginger Mocktail

Perfect for a Spring Brunch or Easter Dinner, this recipe can be made in a large pitcher to serve a crowd. Go check out the recipe over on Natalie’s Orchid Juice Company’s site.

Mango Ginger MocktailMango Ginger Mocktail

Food & Drink

Whole 15 – Day 1

March 1, 2017

As you may no, this January I completed my 3rd Whole 30. On Monday I mentioned that I would be starting a Whole 15 on the 1st of March. So, here we are!  And I’m not sure if I’m mentally prepared, but I’m diving in. The thing with Whole 30 or any plan that involves you really thinking about what you are putting into your body, is that it takes time and effort. Meals have to be planned ahead and a lot of grocery shopping and cooking has to take place. There are very few shortcuts. So, to help you get started (if you want to join me), I’m sharing Day 1 of my Whole 15 and a whole bunch of great sources for good recipes.

Whole 15 - a 15 version of the popular Whole 30 Program

Day 1

Breakfast (as seen in the pictures)

  • Bullet Proof Coffee
  • Poached Eggs
  • Greens tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • Roasted Beets



  • Baked Sweet Potato, rubbing in coconut oil and sea salt and then baked
  • Spinach, sautéed in garlic and ghee
  • Steak, grilled and thinly sliced


  • Apple and Almond Butter

Whole 15 - a 15 day version of the popular Whole 30 Program

I am headed on another trip March 17th, so this is a good way to combat some of the damage I may do while traveling. It’s just a great reset for my body after having a month of slowly slipping back into my bad habits.

Who wants to join me? I’m sharing lots of what I’m eat over on Instagram Stories.

Food & Drink

Lemon Old Fashioned Donuts

February 27, 2017

Let’s call this my last hurrah. And I’m telling you, these Lemon Old Fashioned Donuts were sooooo good. On March 1st, I’m going to take on a Whole 15. It’s really just a 15 days of eating the Whole 30 plan.

Lemon Old Fashioned Donuts

As you know, I finished a Whole 30 in January and I’ve been trying to eat healthy all February, but it’s easy to make a yummy treat and then want to enjoy it with the rest of the family. So, to give myself a little reset, I’m taking on a 15 days of clean eating. If you’d never tried to tackle a Whole 30, this might be a great place for you to start. I’ll be sharing my experience and recipes here and on Instagram stories. So, if you’d like to join me, I think it could be nice to have some moral support and accountability.

Lemon Old Fashioned DonutsLemon Old Fashioned Donuts

But, until Wednesday is here, let’s just talk about these yummy homemade donuts. Really, there is nothing better then a fresh donut. They are always best still warm and a little crunchy on the outside. Our lemon tree is still going strong, so we are making lemonade everyday and baking and cooking with them A LOT!

Lemon Old Fashioned Donuts

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying

With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon juice , lemon zest, milk and vanilla well.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour salt and baking powder to remove any lumps. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar and egg mixture. Mix on low until the dough comes together. This will be a very wet, sticky dough. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick on a well floured surface.

Lemon Old Fashioned Donuts

Place the cut donuts into oil that is heated to 190 C. I used a candy thermometer to help me keep the heat regulated. Fry the donuts about 2 minutes on each side, or just until they are a nice dark golden brown. Place the fried donuts on paper towel lined cooling racks. While the donuts are still warm, dip them in the lemon glaze and place on another cooling rack to drip. Garnish each donut with a little fresh lemon zest.  Lemon Old Fashioned Donuts      Lemon glaze

  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

With a whisk, mix until there are no lumps and the glaze is a nice smooth, thick consistency. Add more powdered sugar if the glaze is too thin. Lemon Old Fashioned DonutsLemon Old Fashioned Donuts

I hope your Monday is off to a great start! And here’s to eat well, even if there are a few treats along the way. (wink, wink)

Lemon Old Fashioned Homemade Donuts