4 Smart Spots for a Ljubljana Coffee Break

Ljubljana is lined with cafes along the beautiful waterfront serving up the local specialty drink, a white coffee. With a huge population of students, you can understand why the city is filled with coffee shops and bookstores. The white coffee may not be for coffee aficionados since your precious shot of espresso is topped with LOTS of milk and frothy foam, but you should try it to enjoy Ljubljana like a local. Pair the white coffee with a tasty cake, and the European café culture is alive in this green city. While in Ljubljana, there are four coffeehouses that make me want to come back, so here’s my list!
cafe-coklCafe Čokl
There are people who take coffee seriously, and then there are people who work at Cafe Čokl. This café by the puppet theatre serves the best coffee in Ljubljana. Cafe Čokl roasts their beans and feature daily recommendations on a chalkboard outside. For all the coffee snobs out there, you will love the sweet taste at the front and a hint of bitter at the back.

cafetinoCafetino
Cafetino offers a huge range of coffee, using only freshly ground beans. With a wide selection of worldly coffee beans, this is place is for those who take their coffee seriously. Climbs the stairs, and upstairs to enjoy your brew. Consider ordering their turkish coffee while you are with your friends and possibly a cappuccino when you want to be alone with a book. 🙂 This coffee shop has no sign out front, but you can’t miss the selection of coffee roasting equipment in their window display.

daktariDaktari
With an interior resembling your grandparents’ living room, Daktari is one of the coolest café in Ljubljana. Daktari has the best Turkish coffee in Ljubljana. They also offer some delicious masala tea for those non-java drinking friends. In the evenings, they host a diverse program of social events, live music and literal readings. Daktari is definitely the place the intellectual // smart people. 😉

tozdTOZD
TOZD produces a relaxed atmosphere with has several bikes decorating the small café, which also adds for a great element of quirkiness. TOZD offers cold brew coffee, which is simply amazing. First, let’s talk about the presentation: coffee and water are served in beakers accompanied by the TOZD orange cup. Depending on the way you like your coffee, you are the “chemist.” You can have is straight up, by pouring the coffee into your cup and drinking as is. You can dilute it with some hot water, think warm Americano. Lastly, you can chill the coffee with the ice water and sip an iced coffee along the waterfront. What a great idea from TOZD because if you don’t like your coffee, it’s because you don’t know the “science” of your coffee palate…not because of their delicious cold brew. 😉

Which of these coffeehouses are your favorite? How do you like your coffee? Let’s experiment!

4 Smart Coffee Spots for a Zagreb Coffee Break

Coffee culture has always been particularly strong in Zagreb, not just in flavor but in society. People value a good strong espresso, cappuccino or latte in a ceramic mug rather than an overpriced sweet “coffee” drink that they take away as they walk through town. People want to chat or do business in a relaxed way, sitting at a café with a delicious cup of locally roasted coffee. While in Zagreb, there are four coffeehouses that make me want to come back, so here’s my list!
eliscaffeEli’s Caffe
Locals come here for great coffee, located on the most prominent street of Zagreb, Ilica. This is not only a coffee bar, but also a coffee roaster. Owner Nik Orosi is a pioneer in the field of all things coffee, sourcing coffee from specific producers and roasting it himself for maximum freshness and flavor. Eliscaffe coffee brand is available for purchase, which is where I get my supply every time I am in town – convenient for true addicts. Eli’ s Cafe is known as “no logo, just taste!”, and it just opened its second location.

cogito-coffeeCogito Coffee Shop
At Cvjetni trg, you can have coffee in countless cafes, but if you look closely you’ll find excellent coffee in a small café, hidden in a passage and decorated in an industrial, hipster-style. Cogito Coffee Shop make truly amazing coffee. The concept was devised by two Matijas, who were frustrated that there were not enough coffee roasters in town, so one of the Matijas opened a roasters in Jurja Žerjavića Street, right next my next favorite coffee shop called Cafe u Dvorištu, which was opened by the other Matija.

u-dvoristeU Dvoriste
U Dvoriste is situated in a quiet backyard setting in the center of a building block. Immediately next door, there’s a small roastery – Cogito Coffee Roasters – where you can see where your coffee was roasted. You can enjoy a delicious coffee with milk or even a cup of aeropress coffee, as well. Naturally, they also sell their coffee – either in bean or ground version. Do you know why Cogito Coffee blend is called “Tesla”? Because their location actually used to be a lightbulb factory.

42-coffee-co42 Coffee Co.
In the cozy ambient of 42 Coffee Co., located on (old) Vlaška, they serve top-notch coffee and guarantee pure pleasure. The lovely barista will chat with you about all the wonders of coffee. Industrial decor paired with a giant community table with a dog-friendly environment, and you have yourself a winning combination.

chocolat-041Honorable Mention: Chocolat 041
There are few reasons why locals love this place. First it is owned by once very famous football player Zvonimir Boban; Second, decoration is unique with lamps made of old cassettes, chairs look like big puzzle toy or old chairs taken from high school classrooms. This place is fun for the WHOLE FAMILY when you are wanting coffee but need something for your kids to enjoy, too. The ice cream is superb, and the range of irresistible cakes – all of which are based on chocolate in some way or another – almost guarantees repeat visits. Order a delicious espresso which goes sooo well with chocolate, and you’ll have a sweet experience for the whole family.

Which of these coffeehouses are your favorite? How do you like your coffee?

Top 10 Restaurants in Ljubljana

Ljubljana-RestaurantsLjubljana has a vibrant culinary scene. There are kitchens that turn out the very best dishes which left us drooling on the tablecloth and others that deliver special, sincere service. Ljubljana has hand-picked the best foods around Europe and adopted them as their own. Here are our top 10 favorite places to eat.

1. Druga Violinadruga-violina-krompirdruga-violina-strukeljDruga Violina uses locally grown produce from a nearby farm, only serves traditional Slovene dishes and located in the city’s old town, but there’s a twist in the tale with the “second violin.” It’s actually a project for people with special needs, who complete tasks on a farmland near Ljubljana and also work as servers in the restaurant. Try their daily specials (meat, chicken and vegetarian) – our kids and adults LOVED them. Also, try pražen krompir. In 2002, this Slovenian love for this dish resulted in the creation of the world’s first Society for the Recognition of a Sautéed Potatoes as a Main Dish and organized a World Sautéed Potato Festival, held each year in a different Slovenian town, so it is fitting that when you visit Slovenia, that you enjoy this dish. 🙂 Lastly, you must order their Ljubljanski štrukelj , which was the perfect “coda” to our musical culinary concerto!

2. Gostilna Delagostilna-delaGostilna Dela has a special focus given to creating employment opportunities for local youth that would be otherwise excluded from the working world. A variety of daily menus are on offer (meat, fish and vegetarian), and you won’t find a restaurant more in tune with the desires of its customers. Trying the homemade štruklji, and thank us later.

3. Gostilna Na Gradu
Gostilna-na-graduLocated on the grounds of the Ljubljana castle, this friendly restaurant is posh without feeling pretentious. Much of the menu is determined entirely by the local ingredients available form the nearby food market. Try their sampler appetizer plate with some pâtés and their daily specials, which they pick up that day in the market.

4. Gostilnica XXIgostilnica-xxiGostilna Rimska XXI is perfect when you want to try traditional Slovenian cuisine in an attractive setting. The chefs use local ingredients. Try žlikrofi or Istrian fuži.

5. Restavracija JBJB-ravioliChef Janez Bratovż is famously known for his ravioli with pistachio, foie gras, goat cheese and covered in a cream sauce. Try the polenta or bear meat appearing from time to time.

6. Güjžina
gujzinaGüjžina offers traditional cuisine from the region of Prekmurje, which is situated in the far northeastern corner of the country and influenced by neighboring Hungary, Austria and Croatia. Try the award-winning bograč and the gibanica, considered the best in the city.

7. Pri Škofupri-skofuRun by women, Pri Škofu serves some of the best prepared local dishes and salads in Ljubljana, with an ever-changing menu. Try their ginger soup and traditional cherry and cheese dumpling.

8. Restaurant Asgostilna-asGostilna As has an eclectic international menu with delicious salads and pastas, but the prosciutto stands out. The atmosphere in the restaurant and its rooftop terrace make it a super cool place to enjoy an appetizer and light meal in the evening.

9. ŠpajzaspajzaOld Town’s Špajza offers less common meats on their menu, such as rabbit, lamb and even kid goat in its homely decorated establishment.Try the žrebičkov z jurčki, if you want to feel like Andrew Zimmern.

10. TaBarTaBarTaBar offers a huge variety of Slovenian food. With the small portions (remembers that they are tapas), it is a great way to sample the best of local delicacies. Try their prosciutto, which is considered a Slovenian specialty, oxtail, sea bass and sausage.

For those wanting a culinary experience beyond simply eating in a restaurant, consider joining Ljubljananjam Food Walks, created and led by born and raised local Iva Gruden. There are also cooking classes on traditional Slovenian food, like Cook Eat Slovenia. On Fridays between March and October, there is Odprta kuhna market, which has become a staple for many Ljubljana people and foreigners alike.

10 Things to Do in Naples, Italy

NaplesBuon Giorno, Naples, Italy! The legend tells that the origin of Naples is due to the mermaid Parthenope who killed herself in the Gulf of Naples because Ulysses refused her love. Maybe that’s why Naples is characterized by the cohabitation of opposites: good and evil, joy and sadness, beauty and decay. Personally I can’t get enough of this city – you can’t explain the love a girl has for the Mediterranean coast! We all know that we must eat pizza here, but did you also think about these 10 things?

1. Eat Pizza Perfection
Naples is the home of pizza. They take it so seriously that in 2004, the ministry for agriculture issued regulations outlining how a real Neapolitan pizza, Pizza Verace Napoletana, should be made. Look for the sign outside pizzerie to sample one of the three authentic types: pizza napoletana marinara (San Marzano tomatoes from Vesuvius’ slopes, garlic, oregano and olive oil), pizza napoletana margherita (mozzarella) and pizza napoletana margherita DOC (buffalo mozzarella). Try Sorbillo for truly excellent dough and the finest topping ingredients. We discovered Pizza Fritta con il Segreto (fried calzone).FriedPizza2. Visit Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius
For history lovers, no trip to Naples would be complete without a trip to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. The archaeological sites have remained firmly embedded in most people’s memories since history class at school.

3. Drink up the Coffee Culture
Any coffee aficionado with even a passing knowledge of Italy’s food culture will know that Naples is famous for coffee, too. Neapolitan coffee is short and very, very strong. I mean, it would be sinful not to sip cappuccino while hanging out with girlfriends or people watching. 😉Cappuccino4. Walk on the Lungomore
The long seafront stroll from Santa Lucia to Mergellina is a classic weekend promenade.

5. Grab a Gelato
Neapolitans are passionate about ice cream, so you can expect the best. When it comes to flavors, most gelaterie offer a bewildering array, broken down into crema (creamy) and frutta (fruit) varieties. Our favorite gelaterie in town is Casa Infante Artigiani Del Gelato. Gelato here achieves the perfect balance between creamy and light, with the best Amalfi lemon in town. Ask for “fontana di cioccolato” for a delicious treat at the end of your gelato. 😉 Thanks, April, for the tip!Gelato6. Stroll through Naples Royalty
Three stops are critical for any visitor interested in the history of the Napeolitan royalty: Castel Nuovo was built in 1279 by Charles of Angiono, and today houses Naples’ museo civico, with Neopolitan artworks spanning the 15th-20th century – don’t miss the views from the fortress towers. The numerous apartments at Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) today house a collection of paintings, frescoes, tapestries, chandeliers and furniture from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli, Villa Comunale was inaugurated in 1781 as the garedini reali (royal park). There is a magnificent bandstand, built in 1887, and the small-is-beautiful Stazione Zoologica.

7. Wander Aimlessly Along Spaccanapoli
The best way to enjoy the historic center of Naples is to wander without a plan. The storico antico is at once ancient and modern – the street plan is older than the hills and the buildings have contained shops and apartments for centuries. But unlike some kind of preserved museum piece, the old center is very much alive. It’s a densely populated area and the locals don’t slow down for tourists.

8. Shop Until You Drop
Naples is one of the cheaper cities of Italy. Stroll the streets of Naples, as in all the port cities, you’ll see improvised markets and choreographic negotiations. Pay attention! They want to cheat you. Welcome in the full neapolitan tradition, you just received a pacco (pack or to trick someone). Therefore, I recommend visiting little shops that specialize in Italian leather goods and culinary delights. The aroma as you enter the shops is mesmerizing. I may have come home with some of these souvenirs. 😉ItalianShops9. Grab a Granita
While you are walking around town, grab a granita di limone, a rough-cut sorbet found at stalls around Naples. An even rougher sorbet is la grattata, with ice scraped on demand off a large chunk and doused with flavored syrup or lemon juice.

10. Sail to Capri or Around the Coast of NaplesSailing

Why Not Travel to Colombia?

Cartagena, Colombia It was as if I had declared my intention to walk through Times Square in 1975 alone and unarmed. “Colombia? Why?” was the response almost every single time I shared the holiday travel plans I had with my husband. And my response in turn? A defiant “Why not?” of course.

In truth, situations came together that gave us the option to fly off somewhere for a week, including that my daughter would be spending the break with her father and his family in Florida. We only had  a week to travel, so our bucket list spots that would require longer (meaning a day or more each way spent in transit and more than a 3-hour jetlag) were off the table. As we are in the middle of home renovations, spending a bunch of money was out of the question too. What to do? Log on to the American Airlines website, plug in our miles and see where they take us. Bogotá! 1. It was the cheapest miles ticket over the holidays. 2. Neither of us have been to Colombia (a huge plus). 3. Cartagena, the glamorous Caribbean city only an hour and a half from the capital by air, has been popping up on countless “Best of” travel lists from over the last year and for 2015. And the best part? It’s not crawling with Americans in fanny packs and white sneakers yet. Done. (Note: My Spanish is terrible. My husband, a gringo from Texas, fares much better but is far from fluent.) DSCN1610

We arrived in Bogotá at midnight, crashed at the airport Aloft Hotel for a few hours, then hopped an early flight out to Cartagena on the coast. Bogotá was cold, so stepping off the plane after such a short flight and getting hit with the hot tropical air was a welcome shock. Most of the people we encountered were tourists as well, mostly from other South American countries, and the security and cabs were all accustomed to people who had no idea where they were going and were very helpful. We got to our hotel, the Hilton Cartagena (using points from previous travels), checked in without incident, and were soon lounging at the pool with fruity cocktails and a beautiful view of the Caribbean. It was Christmas Eve but you would never know it aside from the decorations. We weren’t far from the Old Town, about 10 minutes by cab (a consistent equivalent of about US$3) so for our three days we spent evening hours there after afternoons by the beach or pool. The old city was much like New Orleans with its architecture and party spirit, music, food and pedestrian streets, and it truly came alive at night. We cocktailed at the elegant Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, formerly a convent and now a favorite of part-time neighbor Gabriel Garcia Marquez, with live music, roaring fans, English-speaking staff, and air-conditioned bathrooms (more on that later), and dined at little cafés around the town. The top spots were booked up weeks and months in advance, long before we’d booked our trip, but we ate well and imbibed even better. In Cartagena you can’t beat the Caribbean favorites ceviche, local cerveza, and rum cocktails.

Why Not Colombia?And we walked. We traced out the paths of the characters in Love in the Time of Cholera, scoped out the beautiful cathedrals, and took dozens of pictures of the gorgeous architecture and the walls of the old fortress.  During the day we needed frequent breaks from the heat, so returning to the cool and fragrant halls of the Santa Clara was invaluable for rest and a cold drink or two. Other favorite places in Cartagena included Café del Mar, an open air restaurant/club on the walls of the old city (pricey but worth it for the view- go for at least a glass of wine at sunset), Demente Tapas Bar in the trendy (and more local) Getsemani neighborhood adjacent to the old city (chat up well-traveled owner Nicolas as he puffs his cigar and plays American blues on his computer behind the bar- he gave us great recommendations for Bogotá), and Café Havana, where we listened to live Cuban music and attempted to salsa dance after midnight when the party finally started.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria

Bogotá was something completely different, as only an hour and a half flight took us from 7 ft elevation to 8660 ft. elevation. In Love in the Time of Cholera the city was described as like Paris: often grey, rainy, and cold, but rich in culture.  Although the high altitude was noticeable, we got really lucky and arrived for some sunny and warm days, perfect for exploring the city by foot.  The first element of Bogotá that grabbed our attention was the prevalent graffiti; even statues and monuments are tagged. But much of the street art works are gorgeous murals taking up entire buildings, and there were clearly significant styles. I wanted to know more, and my online searching turned up a website for Bogotá Graffiti tours, Colorful Bogotá Street Artdone in English by an Australian street artist who is now a resident of Bogotá. We were intrigued and signed up for the next day, not knowing at all what to expect. It turned out to be one of the best choices I’ve made while traveling. While our first day exploring the city was lovely and informative,

Bogotá Street Artincluding the absolute MUSTS- the Botero Museum,  Museo del Oro (Gold Museum), and Museo Histórico Policía (dedicated mostly to the country’s wars with drug lord Pablo Escobar and guerrilla groups M-19 and FARC), the most interesting and informative part of our Colombia adventure was this two and a half hour tour. Our guide explained the battles and the partnerships between the artists and the authorities, the reasoning for the art and the legality of it. We started to notice the different styles and tags, and came to understand the messages that they conveyed and why. In Bogota Graffiti Tour a country where the media is still tightly controlled and individual rights are limited, this art is a necessary form of communication. In order to truly understand the culture and history of Colombians, learning about their struggles from different sides is essential (including the role that the U.S. has played) and we are truly glad that we got the opportunity during our time in their country.

Our nightlife experiences in Bogotá were quite different than Cartagena and other cities around the world, because it was very clear that this is a place where caution is key. Of course that’s the case everywhere when traveling, but here there are still powerful groups of people with political points to make, and they control large parts of the country. Safety is stressed by guidebooks, hotels, and locals alike, especially when it comes to what neighborhoods you go to and how you get there. This is one of the only cities I’ve spent time in where I didn’t use public transportation. When leaving the Hilton Bogotá, the staff walked us to a car, noted who we left with and where we went. Leaving a museum, the front desk called a car for us, gave us the license place of the car that would come, and gave us a code to give the driver so that our route could be tracked.  At one point on our way to the historic La Candelaria district our driver got stuck in standstill traffic because of a protest, and it was evident we would be late to our destination. Being seasoned travelers, we offered to pay up and walk the rest of the way but driver  would not allow it, even calling the hotel to have one of their representatives talk to us. He explained that the two remaining blocks might look safe but were not for us, which was unnerving. A fellow American who was staying at our hotel had grown up in Colombia and had a teaching job in another city, but the day we met she had just been robbed by a cab driver. So suffice it to say, our evenings were early and nightcaps were in the hotel bar. Boring, maybe, but thankfully we now have no bad stories to tell.Andrés Carne de Res Bogota

Highlights of Bogotá included the restaurants Black Bear (swanky New York vibe and modern dishes, a recommendation from Nicolas in Cartagena) and Andres DC (we went to the one in the city but the BIG one is 45 minutes away; I would describe it as a House of Blues on, well, when in Colombia), and the cable car trip up the mountain to the breathtaking views from Montserrate at 10,341 ft. If you are lucky enough to get a sunny day, like we were, drop everything else you had planned and get up there then. I’ve met many travelers who never got the opportunity to see a view other than fog, sadly.

Overall, the country is certainly not the backwards and scary Romancing the Stone version that Americans seem to envision still. For the most part we felt very safe and cared for, and the people really wanted us to have a good time. Many said “You will come back, right? And tellJayne Overlooking Bogotá your friends to come!” as we left. If you, like us, prefer to travel to places that will challenge you, where you will not be surrounded by other American tourists, it’s worth it to travel to Colombia. Knowledge of the language is a good idea no matter where you go in the world, but here it’s more important as English isn’t as prevalent. If we’d been fluent we likely would have taken more risks and had more fun, frankly. We did leave with beautiful memories though, and thanks to utilizing miles and points, it was a very inexpensive trip that we are glad we took. But Colombia has quite a ways to go before we would recommend it to everyone, and after meeting the people and seeing some of the beautiful country, we sincerely hope that they can get there.

 

24 Hours in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

SarajevoWith its extraordinary cultural and religious mix and rich Ottoman heritage, Sarajevo is a city that merits a visit at any time. Surrounded by green hills and bisected by a river, it is a place of spectacular beauty, and though the scars of the siege of the 1990s are still evident, Bosnians display heartening resilience and vitality.

THURSDAY
4PM McDonalds

Oh, the things you do for your kids and the places you stop after driving over five hours to get to Sarajevo. Yes, this American establishment was the first place we visited when we arrived in Sarajevo. The kids were sooo excited because we don’t have a McDonald’s in Montenegro. They ordered their Happy Meals with the “Cut the Rope” toy and enjoyed every bite. Note: you pay for everything when you are at McDonald’s in Bosnia, even the dipping sauce, so use them sparingly. The interesting thing about visiting McDonald’s outside of the US is studying its various menus and facilities. This one had a McCafe that included coffee, desserts and alcoholic beverages.

6PM Window Shopping
Along Sarajevo’s main pedestrian promenade called Ferhadija, we enjoyed a walk under the Christmas lights and brisk air. We found clothing stores, toy stores and many more, along with street vendors selling freshly-pressed pomegranate juice.Ferhadija7PM Dining in Old Town
We headed for Baščaršija – the heart of Ottoman Sarajevo – and enjoy cevapcici (che-VAHP-chee-chee), minced beef sausage-style kebabs served with pita-style bread, raw onions and kajmak – a Bosnian national dish. We stopped at Ćevabdžinica Željo 1, where you order in increments of five. Be prepared to sit close together, as this place is always packed.Zeljo8PM Coffee Talk
For Bosnians, drinking coffee is a ritual for relaxing, not quickening the pulse. Inside the rustic, wood-planked Miris Dunja, we unwounded and drank thick, frothy, slow-brewed Bosnian coffee served in copper pots.BosnianCoffee9PM Rest & Relaxation
We stayed at Marriott’s brand new Residence Inn Sarajevo. Read more about it here and why you should stay here when you visit Sarajevo.ResidenceInn

FRIDAY
9AM Hospitable Breakfast

We love continental breakfasts in Europe. It is not just cereal, processed scrambled eggs and pre-made “Belgium waffles” mix that you make in the waffle maker in the lobby. The breakfast includes cold meats and cheese, freshly cut fruit, muffins and breads, freshly scrambled eggs or hardboiled, if you like, and hot meats. The Residence Inn Sarajevo also had an espresso maker where you could make up to 8 varieties of coffee from freshly grounded beans.RIBreakfast12PM Street Lunch
No one is ambivalent about Sarajevo’s rich street food. One of my family’s favorite is burek, pastry dough filled with beef and potato, cheese or spinach. We headed back to the Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s old bazaar and the historical and cultural center of the city. We ate at Buregdžinica Sač, where we paired these savory pie portions with a glass of yogurt. We walked off our lunch and picked up a bag of freshly grounded coffee, by a man who was pounding it in a large mortar. Who needs an electric grinder when you can do it by hand?! 😉 We completed our lunch at the Cream Shop, a sweet shop with baklava, kadaif and more.BurekIgda1PM Street Shopping
One of the oldest streets of the Baščaršija is Kazandžilu, or the Coppersmith Street. We found an ornately decorated Bosnian coffee set and platter. It was a unique piece because it was hand hammered and decorated.CopperShop

30 Whole Food Recipes for Healthy Living

Let’s get back to the basics with food! Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds have all the nutrients you need. When you eat whole food, that is minimally processed plant-based, you take charge of your health and feel amazing.

These are our healthy guidelines for whole food:

  • Zero animal products
  • No added oils
  • 100% whole grains
  • Minimal added sugar, if at all

Let’s get start living healthy by eating right!

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

Chai Smoothie

Coconut Mango Smoothie

MilletCereal1

Millet Cereal

Mixed Berry Juice

quinoabake

Quinoa Breakfast Bake

Seeing Double Green Juice

Honey Berry Waffles Sandwich

Baked Potato

BlackBeanSoup1

Black Bean Soup

chili

Chili

CollardRolls1

Collard Rolls

Eggplant Bolognese

Hearty Arugula Pizzas

Kale Almond Bruschetta

Lentil Loaf

MightyBowlDS1Mighty Bowls of Goodness, Dinner-Style

Nottingham Wrap

Sesame Peanut Noodles

Sweet Potatoes, Collards and Beans

TempehCurry1

Tempeh Curry

veggieburger

Veggie Burger

veggiechilienchiladas

Veggie Chili Enchiladas

Yellow Split Pea & Sweet Potato Soup

BakedFries

Baked Fries

Image+41Cornbread Muffins

Tahini Mashed Potatoes

CowgirlCrunch

Cowgirl Crunch

Holiday Crunch Time

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Holiday Recipes Made Easy with #Intel2in1

HolidayRecipesAcerEntertain in style with this guide to the best holiday recipes and meal planning ideas that will make your celebrations memorable. Fortunately, I had all that I need in the palm of my hand with my new Intel 2 in 1. The Acer Aspire Switch 10’s docking keyboard offers only one port, a single full-size USB 2.0 port. This worked really well for me to easy download my family’s (mom’s and sister-in-law’s) holiday recipes from years past. The tablet also has 64GB of solid-state storage. This can easily be supplemented with Acer’s own cloud storage (AcerCloud). I also use the Evernote app on the start screen to create my shopping list for the market and also my Christmas menu. Inside, the Aspire Switch 10 boasts dual-band (2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz) 802.11n Wi-Fi, along with Bluetooth 4.0, which helps me out A LOT as I surf the web for new recipe inspirations and syncing my Intel 2 in 1 tablet with my computer.

Brunch

Breakfast Casserole is my easy Christmas dish that we enjoyed many years with my family! This year will be no different. Fortunately, I have the recipe on hand when I go shopping and when I prepare the night before Christmas. 😉 This is also great for holiday brunches at your in-laws or church potlucks.

Main Course

Honey-baked Ham is our family’s traditional meat on Christmas. Since we are stuffed from turkey on Thanksgiving, and we eat lamb on Easter. A sweet ham goes perfect for our Christmas feast. Its spiral slices make it easy to served and an attractive presentation at the dinner table. We think Petit Jean Honey Cured Ham is the best we’ve ever tasted.

Sides

Broccoli Casserole is what my mom used every Christmas when I was little. We kids could never get enough! It was our very favorite Christmas vegetable. If you have children, or have some coming to visit, I guarantee that they will eat and enjoy this veggie side dish! Even though I rarely cook with canned condensed soups, I still make this yummy broccoli casserole during the holiday season. It’s fabulous with a Christmas ham and twice-baked potato too. Be sure to use sharp Cheddar cheese for a nice full flavor!

Twice Baked Potatoes are great to make ahead of time! They’re extra yummy because extras like butter and cheese are mixed in. For variety, sprinkle top of potatoes with real bacon pieces just before serving.

Desserts

Apple Pie has to be the classic dessert for Christmas. I have yet to meet someone who does not enjoy a slice of the pie. Add cinnamon and the pie becomes perfection. It is quick and easy and ensures a perfect result every time. Use a combination of Granny Smith apples and Honeycrisps apples for the best filling, eating apples don’t soften the same way.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies takes your chocolate chip cookies to the next level. Why should Santa get the best chocolate chip cookies?! When baking chocolate chip cookie recipe, I am a stickler for using one stick of butter at room temperature AND the combination of brown sugar and granulated sugar which gives the cookies terrific flavor. And do not use a scooper—the tool compacts the cookies too much.

What is your favorite holiday eats? Please share your recipe below!

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Most Romantic Restaurant in Montenegro

Not even one month after moving the family to Bar, Montenegro, quickly comes our 14th anniversary. Challenge accepted! Now, where is a romantic place to celebrate our anniversary? How were we going to spend a little more than normal, BUT it would be family-friendly? Fortunately, the Montenegrins are one of the most family-friendly cultures in Europe.  In the heart of the Bar, on the sea , I discovered Restoran Knjaževa Bašta (Prince’s Garden Restaurant). Yes, this would be the place for my love…and my children to celebrate this special day. 14 years of marriage produce these two amazingly fun kids and a global adventure! It seems fitting that we would celebrate it at Restoran Knjaževa Bašta built in 1880.AnniversaryFamily

Restoran Knjaževa Bašta for years carefully preserved princely spirit. With its authentic Montenegrin ambience and carefully selected specialties, it was an experience that we will remember and a feeling that we want to experience again. Restoran Knjaževa Bašta is a short journey through the history. It is part of the complex, which was built by King Nikola in the second half of the 19th century. It probably was a gift of the Italian royal family, built by Joseph Slade.

I ordered the house speciality, “Princezin” Odrezak (Princess’s Steak), which is stuffed veal fillet with proscuitto and cheese in the “princess” sauce. I love the #hashtag garnish. 😉PRINCEZINODREZAKWe also found love in Lignje na Zaru (Grilled Squid). Every bite was fresh and tender. Truly, the best squid that I have ever tasted before. The serving size was perfect, and it made me wanting more.
LIGNJENAZARURestoran Knjaževa Bašta went the extra mile to make your meal flavorful, memorable and very romantic. It all added up to an enchanted evening.

4 Smart Spots for The OC Coffee Break

Whether it is a “triple venti soy no foam latte” (yes, there is such a thing) or a simple cup of strong, black coffee, everyone needs a caffeine fix in the morning. Today marks National Coffee Day (again there is such a thing), and so we thought we would celebrate The OC coffeehouses that have become smart spots for our morning needs. 😉

hiddenhouseHidden House Coffee Roasters, San Juan Capistrano
True to its name, this micro-roaster finds itself nestled between a few oak trees just past the San Juan Capistrano Amtrak station. With hardly much room between the register and the door, Hidden House manages to squeeze its roaster, large sacks of beans, and even a few tables into its establishment. You will appreciate their cold brew coffee, cappuccinos and how they serve their espresso with a glass of mineral water, as is proper in order to cleanse the palate after its consumption.

keancoffeeKéan Coffee, Newport Beach
For Martin Diedrich, founder of Kéan Coffee, great coffee has been part of the family for several generations. As coffee farm owners for much of the last century, the Diedrich family developed a deep, intuitive understanding of coffee. Martin and his wife Karen became business partners, and named Kéan Coffee after their only son. Kéan Coffee sits in a small shopping center with a few outside tables along its long windows. Kéan roasts their own coffee on a drum roaster in the back corner of their store. From its beginnings in 2005, Kéan Coffee has operated as a sustainable, environmentally responsible business, setting an example for many others to follow. Kéan Coffee takes the coffee experience to the next level.

lagunacoffeecoLaguna Coffee Company, Laguna Beach
This coffeehouse is an oasis on the California Coast. The certified Mocha Java beans and Beachcomber blend is the main attraction here, but if you’re hungry they also serve delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. I first discovered this coffeehouse because of their live jazz music and their posh vibe, and immediately my senses were heightened because of the great smell of freshly roasting coffee right here in-house. Relax with a cup of espresso, listen to some good music and enjoy a delicious panini.

portolacoffeelabPortola Coffee Lab, Costa Mesa
Portola is located in the OC Mart Mix. When you finally happen upon Portola, standing freely in the middle of the mall with baristas in lab coats…it’s a bit unexpected, but in retrospect, completely logical. Beans are carefully sourced and roasted on-site. The coffeehouse’s brewing methods span time and technologies, all with a heavy emphasis on a barista’s skills: the siphon filter method is a throwback to an industrial age that used vapor pressure and a vacuum to produce a clean cup of coffee. Move to the modern-era with the BUNN Trifecta machine, which offers several settings to fine tune each brewed cup, or opt for the manual pour-over. Portola also offers a Japanese cold brew for those warm, California days. Portola has studied the science of the perfect cup of coffee.

Hope you enjoyed these few spots, and let us know if there are any more! 🙂