Surprisingly Good Deals from Whole Foods

Whole Foods BargainsI love shopping at Whole Foods. The samples. The eco chic products. The exotic flavors. The fresh, organic produce.

What I don’t always love is the price, so when I stumble upon a good deal I want to shout it from the rooftops (ok, or just on my blog).

Here are five budget-friendly hidden gems you’ve gotta try from Whole Foods!

365 Goat Cheese & Pesto Pizza $4.99

Frozen pizza? I know, I know reminds you of the college years, but trust me on this one- it’s deelish (and the goat cheese somehow adds more sophistication, right?). My sentiments were confirmed during a girl’s night when we devoured not one, but two of these bad boys. Big time crowd pleaser.  And for only $4.99, seriously?

Whole Foods Goat Cheese and Pesto Pizza

 

Shrimp Gazpacho $5.99

Seafood lovers, this one’s for you. Freshly made gazpacho, tousled with shrimp straight from the Whole Foods Seafood Market. Yummo. Light and refreshing for lunch, or bring it to a party for a no hassle appy.

Whole Foods Gazpacho

 

Family Value Meals + Free Salad $15.99 (Wednesdays only)

No time or energy to cook? On Wednesdays Whole Foods has you covered with pre-made dinners for only $15.99 (that’s $4 off the regular price) + a free salad. You can choose from hearty entrees like chicken parmesan or meatloaf (serves 4-6 people or 2 with leftovers), and the hefty salad is no joke with all the fixins’.

Whole Foods Family Value Meal

 

Whole Foods Italian Gelato $5.99

This isn’t ice cream, people- it’s gelato. We’re talking soft, fluffy, melt in your mouth goodness. Choose from Hazelnut, Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate. Need I say more?

Whole Foods Gelato

 

Lake Champlain Mocha Hot Chocolate $10.99

Starbucks junkie? Save yourself some serious cash by opting for this make-it-at-home Mocha Hot Chocolate instead. The marriage of rich cocoa + coffee accented with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon is to die for. Fall favorite!

Lake Champlain Mocha Hot Chocolate

 

Have a Whole Foods secret weapon that doesn’t break the bank? Share below.

Day Trip: Zillah’s Wine Country

Zillah Wine Tour GuideWashington State has it all: You can surf the coast, ski the pass, hike the rainforest, and sail the San Juans. But across the mountains, the desert terrain of Eastern Washington is often overlooked, and with it, the unspoiled wine country of the lower Yakima Valley where I grew up in.

Though small in population, my home sweet home Zillah is the birthplace to over twenty wineries. Zillah’s wine country may be a little rougher around the edges than Napa Valley, or even Woodinville for that matter, but that’s what makes winetasting here such a fun and unique experience.

Instead of highfalutin sommeliers and tasting fees that break the bank, you’re treated to laidback, old-fashioned hospitality. But don’t misjudge Zillah’s lack of grandiose for being inferior in viticulture. This region is home to award-winning wines, and provides the ideal climate for some of your favorite Washington vino.

Whether you come for the wine, awe-inspiring views, or you simply want an escape from the Seattle rain, here are a few of my favorite wineries to explore in Zillah and the lower Yakima Valley.

Bonair Winery ZillahBonair

Bonair Winery has old world charm, right down to the Bavarian-style architecture and adorable duck pond. If you’re a newbie to the wine experience this is a good place to start since they offer a wide variety of both red and white varieties. Have a sweet tooth? You’ll be in heaven with their port and dessert wines!

j bell cellarsJ Bell Cellars

I just discovered this hidden gem on my last wine country excursion and fell in love with the adorable courtyard, surrounded by lavender fields. If exclusivity is your thing, you’ll appreciate the boutique-style feel and limited availability of their handcrafted wines.

Knight Hill WineryKnight Hill

Knight Hill Winery earns a spot on my list for its breathtaking views, overlooking the valley below. Pull up a seat on the patio and sip away, or venture over to the grassy plains for a lawn game with a buzz.

 

Silver Lake Winery

Silver Lake

Silver Lake Winery is a personal favorite of mine for the lush vineyard setting with the Rattlesnake Hills as their backdrop. The friendly staff will make you feel right at home, and if you’re lucky you might just hit one of their many special events that include food pairings and live music. Come for the wine, stay for the entertainment.

Portteus Winery ZilahPortteus

Remember that award-winning wine I was talking about? You’ll find it at the family-owned Portteus Winery. Sample Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Orange Muscat, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Viognier, Zinfandel, and everything in between. A wine-lover’s utopia!

 

 

How to get around?

Even though the pours may seem small, tastings accumulate fast. Play it safe and hire a driver. If your group is the laidback, fun-loving type, I recommend the reasonably-priced Yakima Valley Tours (seats eight comfortably, nine if you don’t mind getting a little cozy). Or go all out with limo, town car, or party bus depending on the size of your crew.

Where to stay?

Lodging options in Zillah are limited, but if you really want the full experience, stay in a deluxe Teepee at the Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn and ask about their horseback wine tours.

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More wineries?

The list above is just a small sample of what Zillah and the surrounding wine country has to offer. Other favorites include Cultura, Hyatt Vineyards, and Steppe Cellars, just to name a few. Visit the Yakima Valley Wine Country page for more info and events.

Have a favorite Yakima valley winery? Comment below!

4 Time-Saving, Hidden Gems from Costco

Time Saving Meals from CostcoMy hubby is obsessed with Costco… I mean the type of obsession that leads him to buying my Christmas presents there, his underwear, and of course a five-gallon tub of Peanut Butter. Naturally I go for the samples. Lately we’ve discovered some new staples that were so good I just had to share.

Perfect Bar Almond-Butter-BoxBREAKFAST: Perfect Bar

Perfect Bars are scrumdiddlyumptious, gluten-free, organic, a good source of protein in the morning, and they don’t contain any preservatives (you keep them in the fridge). Perfect Bars are also rich in calories so if you have trouble getting your little one to eat, it’ll fill them up fast. One bar completely satisfies me in the morning (my fave is the 300-calorie Almond Butter bar). They are on the pricier side, but when you don’t have a lot of time to prep breakfast for yourself or a snack/meal for your kid, these tasty little bars are worth every penny.

GoodFoods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad at CostcoLUNCH: GoodFoods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad

GoodFoods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad comes in eight individual serving cups, perfect for lunch on-the-go. Made with Greek yogurt, they’re only 150-calories a pop while packing 13 grams of protein to keep you energized and sustained. Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad is yummy enough to eat on its own or sandwiched between two slices of bread.

Costco Korean BBQDINNER: Costco’s own Korean BBQ

While shopping in the fresh, pre-made meals section I stumbled upon Costco’s own Korean BBQ mix. So delish! This pairs well with stir-fry (Costco has an awesome Kale and Swiss Chard stir-fry in the produce/salad department), and is ideal for entertaining guests. We’ve also used it on kabobs and it is kabomb!

Kaurinas Kulfi Ice CreamDESSERT: Kaurina’s Kulfi Ice Cream Bars

Don’t have time to make dessert? Bust out these decadent ice cream treats. The variety pack comes with exotic flavors including Mango, Pistachio Almond, and Malai (Cardamon Cream). Indigenous to India, these creamy Kulfi bars are out-of-this-world good, and since they’re only 80 calories, they make the perfect after-dinner snack.

 

My Top 10 Pinterest Recipes

Top 10 Pinterest Recipes 2013Apparently I’m subconsciously preparing for motherhood because I’ve gotten into cooking lately. Normally I hate following recipes and don’t have the patience for meal preparation, but somehow Pinterest makes cooking fun.

You can live vicariously through all my cooking successes and failures via my Pinterest Recipes I’ve Tried board, or cut to the chase with my top 10 favorite Pinterest recipes here.

TheUneditedMama Mushroom Lasagna Roll Ups in Creamy Gorgonzola Cauliflower Sauce1. Mushroom and Kale Lasagna Roll Ups in Creamy Gorgonzola Cauliflower Sauce

Impress your guests with this concoction from closetcooking.com. It’s a bit labor intensive and messy in the preparation stage, but it’s worth every second of it. The gorgonzola cauliflower sauce is to die for!

Insider tip: I intertwined the kale with some spinach I already had in the fridge. Turned out great!

TheUneditedMama Slow-Cooker-Chicken-Philly-Sandwich2. Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwiches

It doesn’t get much easier than this.  With just seven ingredients and a crockpot, you’ll have yourself a real crowd pleaser.

Insider tip: I switched out their recommendation of mozzarella cheese for provolone, and next time I’m going to throw in jalapeño for an extra kick.

TheUneditedMama Spinah Artichoke Pasta3. Spinach Artichoke Pasta

Thepioneerwoman.com is famous for mouthwatering eats, and this Spinach Artichoke Pasta ranks right up there with the best of ‘em. This recipes makes enough to feed the family and still have leftovers.

Insider tip: I skipped the breadcrumbs but not the red pepper flakes!

TheUneditedMama honey-lime-sriracha-chicken4. Honey, Lime & Sriracha Chicken Skewers

These chicken skewers from onceuponachef.com are packed with bold, spicy flavor delicately balanced out by the honey and lime. Perfect for a summer barbecue!

Insider tip: Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges for a festive flair.

TheUneditedMama Broccoli Rice Casserole5. Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

This fix and freeze casserole is ideal for those times when you want to make a meal ahead of time. The recipe makes four freezer bags full of comfort food (each serving  4-5 people).

Insider tip: I cut the recipe in half and made one for myself and froze another to bring over to a friend.

TheUneditedMama Spaghetti Squash Alfredo6. Spaghetti Squash Alfredro

My Pinterest board is overflowing with spaghetti squash recipes right now, but this is one tops the list. So good, so easy.

Insider tip: You can make this “skinny” pasta even skinnier by replacing the Alfredo mixture with the gorgonzola cauliflower sauce from the Mushroom and Kale Lasagna Roll Up recipe.

TheUneditedMama Bacon Roasted Cabbage7. Bacon Roasted Cabbage

Greenlitebites.com gives cabbage a new purpose with this recipe spiked with bacon bits and Worcestershire sauce. Great side for any meat dish.

Insider tip: Fry up real bacon instead of using bacon bits.

TheUneditedMama Spicy-Avocado-Chicken-Enchiladas8. Spicy Avocado Chicken Enchiladas

If you’re a fan of avocado, you’ll love these enchiladas from the novicechef.com. The creamy, Serrano pepper sauce brings a modern twist to traditional enchiladas and packs a punch of heat for spice lovers.

Insider tip: Save time by buying a fresh rotisserie chicken from your deli department instead of cooking the chicken yourself.

Banana Bars9. Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting

These banana bars from lifessimplemeasures.com are heavenly by themselves but when you add the brown butter frosting, it’s orgasmic! I’ve had several people beg for the recipe. The secret? SOUR CREAM.

Insider tip: If you don’t have a jelly roll pan, just use a normal Pyrex. I increased the baking time by 10 minutes or so and they still turned out uber dense.

TheUneditedMama Waffle-Hashbrowns10. Waffle Iron Hashbrowns

I love hashbrowns, but I have a hard time getting the texture just right. This easy peasy trick from recipesweet.net makes it foolproof. Tater tots +  waffle iron = perfect hashbrowns. Who knew?!

Insider tip: Defrost the tots slightly in the microwave to speed up the process. I like to add diced onions to the mix and serve it with two eggs on top. Yum!

Craving Crepes

Spinach-Artichoke-and-Brie-Crepes-with-Sweet-Honey-Sauce-Crepes are my craving of the week and with that I’m sharing my favorite creperie concoctions!

Crepe Batter (I learned this basic crepe batter recipe in a cooking class and it’s never failed me.)

2 eggs
¾ cup milk
½ cup water
1 cup flour
3 tbsp melted butter

Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse for 10 seconds until blended evenly. Place the batter in refrigerator for at least one hour. (This allows the bubbles to subside so that the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. If I don’t have much time, I skip this step, and they still turn out great.)

Warm a small non-stick pan over medium heat and add butter to coat. Pour a small amount of batter and swirl center with spoon for an even, thin layer. Cook for around 30 seconds or a little longer if you want a more golden finish and flip. Crepes will be soft, moist and pliable- perfect for filling. Yields about 15 crepes.

Fillings
You can get creative here whether you want to go savory or sweet. I like to do both; one for entree, one for dessert. And by one I mean two or three.

Savory Recipes

Spinach Artichoke Brie Crepes with Honey Sauce
My new favorite, compliments of Half Baked Harvest! Get the recipe.

Quick ‘n Easy Pulled Chicken
Fill crepe with warmed Jack Daniel’s Pulled Chicken and top with Crema Mexicana (a sweeter, healthier alternative to sour cream). Garnish with scallions or sautéed onions.

Egg Scramble
Fill crepes with egg scramble including cheese, zucchini, onion, mushroom or whatever else floats your boat.

Herbed Crepes
Add ¼ tsp salt, ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs, spinach or sun-dried tomatoes to the egg mixture. Simple as that!

Dessert Crepes

Mascarpone and Fruit
Line crepe with mascarpone cheese and top with your fruit of choice (strawberries, raspberries, apricots, nectarines and blueberries all pair nicely).

Maple Cream Sauce
Combine one heaping spoonful of cream cheese with equal parts marshmallow crème. Stir in maple syrup (the good stuff) and a dash of milk. Goes well with bananas and strawberries!

The Alcoholic Crepe
Add 2 ½ tbsp sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of your favorite liqueur to the egg mixture. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Spread
I’m a fan of the Philadelphia Strawberry Cream Cheese Spread, but there are plenty of other variations to choose from. Accompanied with a sliced banana, it’s pure heaven. Doesn’t get much easier than that.

Banana ‘n Nutella
Classic- need I say more? Top with generous amounts of whip cream.

Swedish Crepe Cake
If you really want to get fancy check out this recipe for Swedish Crepe Cake compliments of Maria Stordahl (Jason’s cousin). Her AMAZING recipes are featured on Huffington Post’s Best Food Blogger list (and you can follow her Pink Patisserie blog).

Have a favorite crepe recipe? Share in the comments!

10 New Uses for Sriracha

Sriracha loveMy latest pregnancy craving has been for all things spicy which has led me to add Sriracha sauce to just about anything edible. That being said, I’ve discovered some pretty phenomenal Sriracha concoctions. Here are my top 10.

Sriracha Fry SauceHot Chili Fry Sauce
Combine 3 tbsp mayo, 1 tbsp Sriracha, 1 tsp lime juice, and ¼ tsp for the perfect fry sauce. Or try it on your sandwich instead!

Pizza ‘n Sriracha
Drizzle a light layer of Sriracha over your pizza slice or use it as a dipping sauce for the crust. It’s especially tasty on Hawaiian, and veggie pizzas.

Potato Salad with a Kick
Give this summertime BBQ classic new life by adding Sriracha to the recipe. Just remember, a little goes a long way.

Rooster Cocktail Sauce
Stir Sriracha together with ketchup, a spoonful of horseradish, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice; serve with fresh shrimp, oysters, and clams.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Grilled Cheese
Ok, I haven’t actually made this one yet, but the recipe looks scrumdiddlyumptious! #salivating

Sizzlin’ Yakisoba
Pair Costco’s Yakisoba Noodles (Sun Luck brand) with veggies, chicken, stir fry sauce and Sriracha for a fiery punch of Kung-Pao flavor.

Sriracha SaladSriracha Salad
Spice up your taco salad with a splash of Sriracha or add zesty flavor to your favorite dressing (Caesar, Ranch, Bleu Cheese) by stirring in a ½ teaspoon of the rooster sauce. It sounds crazy, but it’s crazy good.

Teriyaki Chicken with a Twist
Marinate chicken with a combo of teriyaki sauce and Sriracha. Add lime and cilantro for sophisticated touch or sweeten things up with a dash of honey. Yum!

The Ultimate Bloody Mary
Turn up the heat with a little Sriracha sauce mixed into your Bloody Mary mix. It’s guaranteed to wake up your taste buds.

Sriracha Meatball SandwichVietnamese Meatball Sandwich
Mix mayo, Sriracha and green onions for an irresistible meatball sandwich sauce. For true Vietnamese flair, garnish your meatballs with grated carrots, thinly sliced jalapeño, and cilantro. Get the full recipe here.

Mocktails, Non-Alcoholic Beer, and Other Alcohol-Free Drinks for Moms-to-be

Original_Mocktails-Virgin-Grapefruit-Mojito_s4x3_lgThere’s nothing quite like a crisp, cool beer on a hot, summer’s day or a glass of vino to keep you warm and toasty on a chilly autumn night, but on the list of things you have to give up when you’re expecting, alcohol rises to the top.

In the beginning stages of pregnancy when we didn’t want to reveal our expecting status, I sipped on alcohol look-alikes.  FYI: Canada Dry’s Green Tea Ginger Ale makes for an excellent sparkling white wine imposter, and sparkling water on the rocks + a wedge of lime is a dead ringer for gin and tonic.

But I’m a beer girl and beer isn’t so easily duped. Not a fan of O’Doul’s, I figured I’d just have to deal without having a hoppy substitution… until lo and behold a trip to my local Total Wine & More revealed a whole slew of non-alcoholic beer options.  Bitburger, Erdinger Weissbier, St. Pauli, oh my! At this point I’ve only tried the Erdinger, but I will say I was pleasantly surprised. While the flavor isn’t quite spot on to my favorite Hefeweizen it gives me a taste of that hoppy-microbrew-goodness.

As for mocktails, Pinterest will lead you to recipes galore including this one for Virgin Grapefruit Mojito. Yum! But if you don’t want to go through that much effort there’s always Bloody Mary mix (spice things up with some pickled asparagus spears and green olives).  Make sure to buy B.M. mix with low sodium- I managed to down half a bottle on my first day. #NewPregnancyCraving

Lastly, there’s “alcohol-removed wine”, or as I like to call it, grape juice. From Chardonnay to Cabernet to Champagne you can mimic the taste with non-alcoholic options from the likes of St. Regis and Fre brand wines. While the few varietals I’ve sampled haven’t exactly impressed me, I hear there are some pretty good Riesling knockoffs.

So there you have it, alchohol-free bevies to get you through the summer, holidays, and every other event for the next nine (ten) months.