Crockpot Tex-Mex Quinoa

Most people hear quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) and are terrified. I once was too, so no fear! Quinoa is a seed, not to be considered a whole grain, even though it is usually prepared as a whole grain. Quinoa is a magical and powerful little seed, providing 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is gluten-free, cholesterol free, kosher for Passover, and almost always organic. It's similar to other whole grains such as rice, in that it is definitely very versatile. You can eat it plain with some olive oil, sea salt, and lemon juice, jazz it up with cheddar and broccoli, or add lots of colorful veggies like in this recipe!

I found this recipe on Pinterest while looking for 21 Day Fix recipes, and could not wait to make it. I am nearing the end of the 21 Day Fix- CANNOT WAIT FOR IT TO BE OVER- but will continue to make this. It makes an excellent vegetarian main course, a tasty side dish, or the perfect filling for burritos!

Crockpot Tex-Mex Quinoa
Source: Chelsea's Messy Apron


1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can corn (or 1 1/2 cup frozen)
1 cup sweet peppers, diced or chopped
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Optional Toppings: cilantro, cheddar cheese, sour cream (or 21 DF-friendly Greek yogurt,) parsley, hot sauce, etc.


  1. Rinse the quinoa well- this is VERY important!
  2. Place the rinsed quinoa, black beans, diced tomatoes and corn into the crockpot
  3. Chop the sweet peppers and the poblano pepper, removing the seeds if desired and add to the crockpot with the chopped onion and minced garlic.
  4. Add spices and chicken stock, stirring together.
  5. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours. The liquid will begin evaporating.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, stir in fresh lime juice and serve with your choice of toppings


Is that not the most colorful food you've ever seen? And SO full of flavor from all those beautiful veggies!

I did use chicken stock as I had it on hand and sitting unused in the fridge, but feel free to keep it vegetarian with vegetable stock or water.

I grilled some chicken breast and made a bowl out of dinner, topping it with cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt, parsley, and sriracha- all 21 Day Fix Approved! I measured this out in the yellow container (1/2 cup) and counted it only as a yellow.

This makes a MASSIVE amount. It's just my husband and I, and we've had this for 3 meals now plus lunches, and there's still two glass Pyrex containers left. Have any of you frozen quinoa before? I may need to try it, because as delicious as it is, I'm quinoa-ed out.

What are some of your favorite quinoa recipes?

Banana Crumb Muffins

I always buy too many bananas, Am I alone? I should say, I can't eat the bananas fast enough before the dreaded brown spot(s) appear and they're ruined. I like my bananas yellow, even slightly green, with NO SPOTS. I have been craving banana muffins for awhile now, and was waiting for the opportunity to arise in the form of multiple bad bananas. I had 2. 

Unfortunately the recipe called for 3. But here's the cool thing...I found the recipe on, which lets you adjust your serving size! So, I manipulated the serving size until the ingredients called for 2 bananas.

Growing up my mom made banana muffins with a glaze, and no offense to her, but these are better. These muffins are absolutely delicious. I cannot believe I only ate 2 for breakfast. Pinky swear.

Banana Crumb Muffins
Adapted from here
Servings: 10 Muffins


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, vanilla, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

The recipe made 7 muffins with 2 bananas, I plan on freezing a few for quick breakfasts. Are you a banana muffin fan?

Winterizing Your Hands and Nails

I feel bad complaining about cold weather and what it does to my hands and nails, living in Virginia, where bitter cold is 30 degrees. I apologize for any complaining I do of cold to my good friends in Wisconsin and Canada, where it gets double digits below zero. Cray. Cray.

Now that I have my apology out of the way, let's talk about taking care of your hands and nails during the winter months.

I don't know about you, but my hands turn into sand paper when it's cold out, and left unattended can split and bleed. The last few years I've become more diligent in my hand care, and would like to share some of my tips with you to keep your hands and nails healthy and moisturized, as well as a few products I swear by.
  1. Apply lotion after every time you wash your hands. Keep a bottle of lotion at the sink so you won't forget. Soap can strip essential oils from your hands, severely drying them out. You could use this as a great excuse to get a cute matching soap/lotion set in a basket- I did see some pretty and very nicely smelling ones at TJMaxx this weekend. This is a favorite of mine, J.R.Watkins and is available at grocery stores and Target:

  2. Wear rubber gloves while doing dishes. Another tip would be to apply lotion right before putting the gloves on- the heat from the warm water will help your skin absorb the moisturizer and give your skin a salon-like treatment. Oh, and it'll protect your manicure from chipping.
  3. Be careful using nail polish remover. Try to use an acetone free one like Julep's Clean Slate Remover  or Zoya's Remove+ , neither of which will dry out your nails or cuticles. There are times you need acetone remover for glitters or gels, but be careful to keep it away from your cuticles and skin.

  4. When going outside, be sure to apply spf lotion on your hands. Remember, your hands show age very quickly, even as early as your mid-20s.  UV Rays can be the biggest and baddest reason for aging of your skin and brown spots.  And DEFINITELY apply spf lotion every time you go for a gel mani under a UV lamp!

  5. Wear gloves. You can pick up cheap gloves under $5 at Target, Five Below, Walmart, etc. But everytime you go out in cold temperatures throw gloves on. Hey, in the very least you could prevent some germs!
  6. Establish a hand regiment before going to bed. Apply a thick cream, cuticle treatment and a pair of cotton gloves. Wear the gloves overnight, or as long as you can stand it- the heat from your hands will act like a hot oil treatment. Trust me, you'll be amazed how your hands feel in the morning. I picked these gloves up at TJMaxx for about $3-4.

  7. Nail splitting can be a sign of dehydration. Be sure to drink more fluids and use a nail oil designed to penetrate the nail plate, containing Vitamin E oil and Jojoba. Apply a good cuticle cream regularly, I recommend Lemony Flutter by lush. Stay strong my friends, it can take up to 6 months for healthier nails to grow in. Don't be fooled by certain products promising results in days.

  8. An at-home treatment which is highly effective is mixing sweet almond oil with coarse sea salt, and rubbing into nails and cuticles. This will help strengthen weak/broken nails as well as nourish dry and flaky cuticles.
I had this post completed when I received my PopSugar Must Have Box for January, but I had to add on this wonder product I received in the box. 

This stuff is amazing. Like run to Sephora or online shop NOW. First Aid Beauty offers some other products I want to look into, but I've been using this daily since I opened my box this weekend. It has a slight Vick's smell to it, but it's not offensive, but rather a clean smell. The consistency is a soft, but thick cream and I highly recommend it for at least #6 above, your night hand/nail regiment. It's a little steep at $30 for a 6oz jar, but that just means you need to join PopSugar- cause the box is $40/month and this was $30 of it. I WILL be replacing this when it runs out. THAT GOOD.

Do you have any tips that you recommend for winterizing your hands and nails?

One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta

I shared this picture on instagram this past summer, and never followed thru with the recipe. Shame on me. But will you forgive me? Make this and get back to me.

It does require quite a lot of basil, I had a huge table top pot of it on my deck this summer. Til it died some weird death, after turning grey.

One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta
Source: Slow Roasted Italian


3 cups halved grape tomatoes, divided
1 large onion, sliced
1 pound smoked Italian sausage links, precooked (sliced into coins)
20-30 basil leaves, divided
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 pound dry linguine
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 1/2 cups water
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


Reserve (set aside) 1 cup halved tomatoes, 10 basil leaves and cheese.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large (12") braising pan or dutch oven over medium high heat.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once water is boiling, remove cover and cook 7-9 minutes until pasta is al dente (with a bite to it).  Toss pasta with tongs occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking.  Liquid will be mostly absorbed when pasta is cooked.

Add cheese and toss to combine.  Cheese may clump but will melt into the sauce after a few minutes.  Toss in remaining tomatoes and basil before serving.

December ipsy Bag: Thinking of You

I don't think I've ever shared an ipsy bag on here, and for that shame on me! Ipsy has become a favorite beauty box of mine, and in my opinion far outshines BirchBox and GlossyBox. For $10/month, you receive some sample, some full size beauty products along with a little cosmetic bag that fits into the theme.

I feel that the products in ipsy bags are more my style and budget, so this puts them head and shoulders above birchbox.

I am thoroughly pleased with all the products in the bag this month:

1.) Bumble and Bumble All Star Blow Dry- I don't usually apply any product to my hair before blowdrying, but figured this was worth a try. I was pleasantly surprised that my hair was less dry and brittle feeling, and had an overall smoothness to it after blowdrying. Very finished and salon quality. I am 90% sure I will purchase a full size of this when it runs out!

2.) Crown Infinity Shadow/Crease Duet Brush- Other than the brush that comes in the Naked Palettes, I usually use my fingers to apply my eyeshadow. This definitely applies a lot more even, not to mention I don't have 4 shadows of beige on my fingers and under my fingernails.

3.) Tarte Lights, Camera Lashes- For years my go-to mascara was this one by L'Oreal, but have recently switched to They're Real! by Benefit. Ulta gave them out maybe a year or so ago for their birthday gift, or was it Sephora? Either way I love it. Oh, and 4000+reviews on and it's a 4.3/5, so I'm guessing I'm not alone. I recently tried Julep's mascara, but after wearing it twice had to throw it out- the fibers would get in my eye and irritate them WAY too much. I also hear good things about Better Than Sex Mascara- anyone try this? Maybe I'll try this next...

After all that, I haven't used this mascara yet. Maybe I'll throw it in my travel bag so I don't have to chance losing my $23 mascara.

4.) Nourish Organic Renewing Eye Cream- I don't really understand eye cream- am I alone on this? For awhile I used this one by Burt's Bees, but kinda stopped and didn't finish the expensive little pot... I will say this applies like a dream, especially for an organic, cruelty, and gluten free product! I'm kinda intrigued looking at the applicator. You know, these late nights blogging and Netflix binging have left dark circles- will this help? Check back with me, I intend on finishing this tube.

5.) NYX Butter Balm in Red Velvet- This my friends was worth the whole box. Seriously am in love. Is it "nix" or "N-Y-C?" Either way, they now sell it at Target and you need to drop $4 on this stuff.  Seriously feels like rubbing butter on your lips. Even better than eos. I mean it. The Red Velvet is subtle, but good for me when I want red lips and chicken out at the last minute. Seriously, I want more. They didn't have them at my Target the other night, so I might pick some up online. (if you do, use code NYXGLITZ for 25% off.)

So, if you don't subscribe to ipsy, you NEED to. I didn't add it to my type-A list above, but the bag that it all came in is just so adorable. And you get one every month. I use them for odds and ends, or throw them in a box for gifts through the year.

Along with the awesomeness you receive every month product-wise, you can go online and review each product to collect points. Then use points for add-ons in your next boxes!

Click here to join today and get off the waitlist!