3 Easy and Affordable Summer Cocktails

This video shows how I make my 3 favorite summer cocktails. They’re all super easy and buying smart and making them at home will save you lots of money on booze this summer!

1. Watermelon Slushies

-1 whole seedless watermelon

-simple syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

dissolve sugar in water on stovetop and let cool to room temperature

-2 shots (2 oz) of alcohol of your choice

Makes 8 cocktails

Slice the watermelon in half so you have 2 halve of a watermelon. Now slice the meat of the watermelon into a checkered board shape without cutting the rind. Then, scoop the red part out with a spoon into a tupperwear container. Freeze this overnight.

Take the frozen watermelon and add it to your blender. Add the simple syrup and blend until smooth. After blended, add alcohol if wanted or serve as is.

2. Clark’s Cheat Margarita

This one is so fast and simple, it kills me. I don’t even know if I should be writing down this recipe, but it will save your taco night.

-1 cup Stirring’s Margarita Mix or Powell and Mahoney Margarita Mix

-2 shots of Tequila

-1 cup of Ice

-Salt or suar

-1 lime

Makes 1 cocktail

In a drink shaker, combine the ice, tequila and margarita mix and give it a good shake. Slice the lime into 4 slivers and then cut the slice down the middle without going through the skin to put the slice on the side of the drink. rub it around the edge of the drink. Lay the salt out on a plate and place the rim of the glass in the salt (or sugar) to coat it. Fill the glass with your drink and finish with the lime slice.

3. Clark’s Summer Shandy

-3 cans of light beer (Bud light, Miller light, or Rolling Rock if you’re John)

-3 cups of lemonade

-1/2 cup of vodka

-1 scoop of lemonade mix

Makes 6 pint glasses

Mix everything together in a large pitcher and mix with a spoon. Chill and serve

Healthy alternative to cheese boards

We all love a good cheese board, but that cheese can add up really quick; especially if you’re like me and make them for every small occasion. Everyone loves a good munchable, but sometimes we need a good healthy alternative. This is how I built my healthy veggie boards!

The first step is to get a large cutting or serving board. Based on the amount of people you’re having, you will need larger trays or you can just make one medium sized platter and refill it as it runs out. Next, you’ll need lots of veggies! Some of the ones I like to use are

-Broccoli

-Celery

-Tomatoes

-Cucumbers

-Bell peppers

-Carrots

You can use what ever you like, just make sure to cut them into bite sizes so everyone can snack with ease. No one wants a giant hunk of celery taking up their whole plate. You can also add olives or pickles for some salty things just to mix up what people are eating.

After you’ve picked out your veggies, next you need some dips. I think hummus in very popular right now so you could put out 1-3 different types of hummus to go with your vegetables. You could also do ranch dip like I did in the video above or use dill dips and other variations you can make or buy at the store. I recommend doing no more than 3 dips and if you’re going to do 3, keep them small. You don’t want to overwhelm your guests with options, but you also don’t want to overwhelm your platter with giant dips.

I just leave mine in the container they came in, but if you want to up your presentation, you can always transfer them into a serving dish also.

Although veggies are the healthiest option, it’s always a good idea to have some type of carb. I like to have crackers even without having cheese to add texture and contrast to the board and also to add some variety, although I don’t do lots of crackers. I usually just buy one of those entertaining cracker packs (which have the worst name in my opinion, but not my call). They give you a little bit of everything you want or you can guy a few boxes of crackers to put out. Just make sure you don’t buy 3 types of Triscuits and instead go for the mix like Ritz crackers, Truiscuits, and Wheat Thins.

When arranging the platter, the only thing you have to worry about is not putting too much of something on the plate and mixing up colors. There’s no right way to do it. Get creative and lay out the goods. People don’t care if it looks pretty. It’ll look pretty for 5 minutes before people eat it. All that matters is they enjoy!

Sustainability and Food

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to broaden your horizons about how the choices you make every day affect the environment. I think the biggest issue we have as consumers is being undereducated on how the choices we make can cause a ripple effect out into the world. This blog post is to show you guys how the choices you make when you eat can affect the environment and the agriculture system in general.

To start, I want to put it out there that I am somewhat bias on this topic. I worked in agriculture research last summer and fell in love with the topic. I have read lots of books on the food system, veganism, and sustainable cooking, and I want to share the knowledge I have gained from this with you guys!

1. Where you shop

This one gets people a little fired up sometimes because I think this can be something that really is an issue for people. You should see the reactions I get when I tell them I’m an affordable and sustainable lifestyle blogger, yet I shop at Whole Foods… Yes I know the elusive Whole Foods with ridiculous prices and a very large cheese section! Look, I know they are known for being an overpriced grocery store, but they are so much more than that!(Especially since Amazon bought them and made it a LOT cheaper) Did you know they are one of 3 supermarket chains out of 68 with a “stellar” produce score from Consumer Reports? Did you also know that The Whole City and Whole Kids foundations are funded by Whole Foods to support healthy food access for children and lower-income communities. The Whole Planet foundation has granted $64 million to micro-finance partners in 65 countries, helping more than 5 million people.

This company brings in fair trade goods and makes sure the workers from other companies are treated and paid fairly just like their own, because guess what?! Farming is super hard work and people don’t get paid enough to do it!?

I cannot say enough good things about this company. They make my heart so happy when I see how much good they do for our local communities and our global communities. Yes they are owned by a giant consumerism machine, but your purchases at Whole Foods are making a positive impact. That little extra money you spend goes to knowing your food is quality, the people working there are happy, and that some of the money you’re spending is going to great causes like growing women owned businesses in developing countries.

Now you don’t have to shop at Whole Foods, but you should think about where your food comes from. If you can, buy food at your local farmers market or privately owned food store. Buying local supports your local economy and the more you buy local, the less your food has to be transported saving emissions. Buying from small local farmers also means you aren’t supporting farm industrialization, which also is bad for the environment. Your food doesn’t just show up in the store for $1 for no reason. Remember what your money supports.

2. The foods you eat

Now I do not have a problem with GMOs. I know lots of people do. I have issues with how the effect farmers costs and things like that, but I worked with BT corn (the most common GMO) over the summer and I’m all about the GMO train for the most part. If you want to eat them or not, you do you.

I personally don’t eat red meat. I eat it if it’s going to inconvenience someone, but otherwise I don’t. Like if I’m going to a family meal with John’s family and they want to make burgers, I will eat them. It’s annoying to be the person who’s like, “oh I don’t eat that” so I just eat it, but at home, we don’t buy it. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the production, processing and distribution of meat uses huge amounts of pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, feed and water while releasing greenhouse gases, manure and a range of toxic chemicals into our air and water. A lifecycle analysis conducted by EWG that took into account the production and distribution of 20 common agricultural products found that red meat such as beef and lamb is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as common vegetables and grains! What?!

Red meat is horrible for the environment and although we will never get rid of this industry, you can limit the amount of production by lowering the number of consumers the market has.

The processing of meat in general is bad for the environment. You could use the amount of water to produce 1 pound of beef to grow 10 pounds of corn. Beef production takes 3 times as much water as any other meat production. If you’re going to eat red meat, try to buy it responsibly because it has a much larger impact than you think.

3. Where you go out to eat

This relates back to the other 2 topics I already mentioned, but lots of fast food restaurants don’t care where their food came from, how it was processed, or what else is added to it. Try to stick to fast food restaurants and large restaurants that keep local and buy quality ingredients. Restaurants that are farm to table are SO important! It is so nice for a restaurant to have seasonal menus and to partner with local farmers because that supports local economy, seasonal eating, and is shows that the restaurant cares!

There are also lots of fast food chains that are hopping on this wagon as well. Here are some I love to go to or you can check out!

  1. Chipotle
  2. Sweet Green
  3. CAVA
  4. Jimmy John’s
  5. Busboys and Poet’s

I hope this post makes you think twice when you eat a meal. I linked below all the places I got my facts as well as some great articles and books about the topic. This is something that’s catching wind in our community and I hope it continues. Share this with your friends and spread the knowledge. It’s how we create change.

https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/01/24/how-whole-foods-market-lives-its-values.aspx

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/meat-and-environment/

https://foodtank.com/news/2013/12/why-meat-eats-resources/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/food/

https://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-watercontent.php

https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/articles/the-usa-s-12-best-ethical-chain-restaurants/

https://www.amazon.com/Omnivores-Dilemma-Natural-History-Meals/dp/1594200823/ref=sr_1_1?crid=20RY9HM1Z60FK&keywords=the+omnivores+dilemma+by+michael+pollan&qid=1556147125&s=gateway&sprefix=the+omnivo%2Caps%2C396&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Defense-Food-Eaters-Manifesto/dp/1594201455/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2/140-1542722-3912523?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1594201455&pd_rd_r=7667f92b-66e5-11e9-8c99-472c1499fd9d&pd_rd_w=dGlRX&pd_rd_wg=3cOdE&pf_rd_p=a2006322-0bc0-4db9-a08e-d168c18ce6f0&pf_rd_r=16CCMZM7FSJDETSQR8AF&psc=1&refRID=16CCMZM7FSJDETSQR8AF

Southern Living Recipe Review

Skillet Enchiladas Suizas



This recipe picture really is a testament to the way I cook. It’s not pretty, it’s messy, and all over the place, but I love it. I picked this recipe out of a Southern Living because I swear by my cast iron skillet. I have a small one and a large one and they make a my world go round. Your cooking game changes when you invest in a cast iron skillet and my life would not be the same without one.

I also ADORE Mexican food. I actually love latin food in general, but I eat Mexican cuisine at least once a week and enchiladas is my favorite dish, so it was natural I would lean towards this recipe.



Because I cook Mexican food so much, this recipe didn’t require me to get much I didn’t have. Plus it seemed like there were some easy things to substitute in this recipe. For example, I used unflavored green yogurt instead of crema or sour cream and I got floour tortillas instead of corn. I also bought salsa verde instead of tomatillo salsa (same thing different names).

The recipe doesn’t tell you this, but get all of your ingredients prepared before you start. I didn’t drain the tomatoes or rip up the tortillas before I started and it made me overcook my onions a bit (I also spent a solid 3 minutes trying to open my salsa can, which was also a struggle).

Once everything is ready, you basically sweat the onions first on the stove in the cast iron skilled, add in some garlic and cumin and then pour in the tomatoes and salsa to let it reduce. Then you add in your chicken, tortillas, greek yogurt, and cheese, and hope it doesn’t overflow. Then you top it with cheese and pop it under the broiler for a little and BOOM your done!



When it comes out of the oven it honestly looks like a deep dish pizza until you top it with some avocado, but it was a solid recipe! It took me under 30 minutes to prepared and cook, which is a must in my kitchen during the week. It also had a lot of flavor to it and was a nice change up from my normal Mexican food.

Although this did work out great, I don’t think I’ll be making it again. It was really heavy because everything is coated in cheese and cream and tortillas and it just was not a great texture to me. I really like crunch in my dishes and this was just a lot of mush. It also was really hard to mix once I got the chicken and tortillas in there and I think I didn’t disperse everything well and there were chunks of tortillas and some parts that were basically just tomatoes. John really liked it and I did eat a whole big bowl of this, but I like my classic enchiladas better. They can get crispy edges and they’re not as heavy as this.

Dish: 5/10

Easiness to make: 10/10

Recipe: 9/10

Heathy: 7/10

Will make again: 2/10



5 Ingredient Mac and Cheese

This is the baked mac and cheese my mom taught me to make with my own, slightly healthy take on it. It’s so simple its crazy. It only has 5 ingredients and is super simple so lets hop into it!!

Step 1: Cook the noodles!

Grab whatever noodles you would like! I use whole wheat macaroni noodles, I cook the whole box in a large pot till they’re al dente so they can cook a little more in the oven.

*pro tip from over-watching cooking shows: don’t over salt your pasta water!!!

Step 2: Get your building station set up!

This is where you will make sure you have everything to start assembling your mac and cheese. You will need….

  • A large glass casserole dish (I’ve made it in a ceramic one before too that works just fine)

  • A whole box of cooked and drained whole wheat macaroni noodles

  • A whole block of monterey jack cheese

  • A 2 cup bag of mozzarella cheese

  • A 2 cup bag of mild cheddar cheese

  • about a cup and a half to 3/4 cup of whatever milk you like (I used skim to keep it healthier)

  • Some aluminum foil

  • salt and pepper

Step 3: Start layering!

First SPRAY THE PAN WITH OIL!!! I usually spray it with pam and if you forget to do this, cleaning this up will be a hot mess, believe me I know from experience…. So after you do that we can start layering. I usually do 2 or 3 layers, but the key to making this is to remember that there is no key to making this, Its a giant free for all! My mom and I never even measure what we put in it so make it your own and do what feels right to you.

I usually lay the noodles down first and then cover them with a good helping of my shredded cheeses. For this I put down half the noodles first and then put on half of each bag of cheese. Then I take my monterey cheese and cube it up and make little land mines of cheese all over the pasta. And top your first layer off with some salt and pepper!

Step 4: Finish off your layers!

Keep making the layers from step 3 till you have used up all your noodles and cheese and have put salt and pepper on every layer!

Pro Tip: make sure you get cheese in the corners too. I always like to put the big cubes in the corners to make sure I hit them good

And once you have finished all the layers, take your milk and put it all over the mac and cheese till you get a little line of it on the bottom of the casserole dish like you can just barely see in this picture. I honestly don’t know how much milk I use. I usually just take the milk container and pour it over till I start to see the milk on the bottom (like I said it’s a free for all).

Step 5: Pop it in the oven!

Okay on a different note, it’s extremely hard to get a camera to take a picture in a hot oven… but anyways cover up your mac and cheese mixture with some aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit. Check on it about half way through and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon to get all those land mines of cheese incorporated into the whole mixture.

Step 6: ENJOY!!!! WOOOOO

Once it’s out of the oven, give it a good stir one last time and let it cool a little before you enjoy it! I hope you guys give this a try! It’s super simple and so so so so so good. And this is coming from a girl that is also a die hard fan of truffle mac and cheese so….

Why a Healthy Lifestyle is Addicting

Growing up, I can’t say my parents made the healthiest choices for our family. I look back on what I ate growing up and it was a lot of fast food on the go and quick meals in the kitchen that were always very delicious, but lacked the benefits of a healthy meal. I never really thought about this till I stopped playing sports because once that stopped, the bad eating habits started to catch up to me. I tried to keep up with working out as much as I could, but I finally became conscious of what it took to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle.

When I left for college, this became even more of a reality check. I had to make all these healthy choices on my own and figure out what was right for my lifestyle when there was so much crap for me to eat and so little time for me to think about the consequences of eating it all the time. I really gave into the freshman 15 once I started dating John so this year, it was time for a change.

I tried out all kinds of different healthy recipes and started finding all these new ways to stay active and mix up my workouts and I fell in love with it! I got plenty of sleep at night and would wake up early just to feel refreshed and eat a good breakfast. It made me so much happier. I found the drive to stick to it and not only did I feel happier and healthier, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment that I had quit my junk food habits.

To this day, I really try my best to stick to a healthy eating plan, but I cheat. I love milkshakes and wine way to much to give those up for more than a week, but fast food just makes me feel sick. I still get my cravings for a good cheeseburger (I live across the street from a McDonald’s) but most of the time I keep it under control because I LOVE TO FEEL HEALTHY.

If you want to start transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, get goals and make small ones at first and reward yourself afterwards. For example, if you go two weeks without snacking on junk, you can go out and buy yourself a new dress. Don’t reward yourself with junk food because what’s the point of that? Put reminders around you and keep your goals always in your mind. There are so many ways to stay acocuntable, but honestly once you start, you won’t want to stop. I promise.

Duck Donuts

Here in Maryland, there are many different places to get donuts, but lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of chat about this place called Duck Donuts so of course, being me and always wanting to be doing what everyone else is doing, I went and tried them with John (he’s always down for food, especially donuts). I went for the first time a few weeks ago, but I have been SUPER busy so I’ve had n time to write at all, but I’ve already been back again. When you go in, they have a little paper you can fill out and select what you want on your donut. They have different glazes and drizzles and toppings so you never have to have the same thing, which I loved. I got some sweet and some savory ones like vanilla glaze with oreos and fudge drizzle as well as powdered sugar with blueberry drizzle and I honestly couldn’t tell you which one I loved more. Their donuts aren’t very dense as John put it. You can eat two or three and not feel like they’re just sitting in your stomach. They’re also not super sweet where you just feel sick. This may be personal preference because I have quite the sweet tooth, but even some things for me get to be too overpowering.

Duck Donuts is about a 30 minute drive from The University of Maryland, but honestly it’s so worth it if you have a craving for some good ass donuts

Side note: last time I went, I dropped my phone in my parking garage when I got back and completely ruined the screen so maybe the donuts weren’t worth the $136 I paid to get my phone fixed, but they did make the situation a little more bearable.

They have lots of different locations across the east coast so look them up in our area and give them a try. You’ll be addicted.

-Clarissa

Green or Gold Juice?

I’ve always herd about people doing juice cleanses and how great they are or how great natural artesian juice is so I finally decided to give it a try. I work in Bethesda, Maryland and right across the street from me is an artisan juice bar called Purée. This place has had my attention for awhile. I always have customers come into my work and I ask them what they got and if they liked it and they always have great things to say, so about a week ago I went and tried it for myself. When I walked in, I saw some pre-made juice, but they also had a very large menu which was quite intimidating, especially considering there was an old man who came in after me who knew exactly what to order, I just browsed the pre-made ones and picked the green lemon-aid. I’ve always been a fan of green juices so I thought this one would be a hit, Also I drink about 2 gallons of lemonade a week (not even exaggerating) so this was right up my ally.

The packaging is cute. Its an all glass bottle with a plastic cap screwed on. You get 16 fl oz of juice for $9.00. This was what blew my mind! nine dollars for some vegetable juice?! This stuff better be amazing!. When you first get it, its very separated so you have to shake it up and then you can enjoy your all organic artesian juice.

My juice was made from spinach, romaine, kale, cucumber, celery, lemon, cayenne pepper, alkaline water, and a hint of agave.Let me tell you, this stuff did not taste like lemonade… This tasted like cucumber water. It wasn’t horrible, but I expected it to have a much more lemonade flavor and it didn’t even have a lemon after taste. I did still enjoy the juice to an extent, but I can’t say I will ever spend $9 on that exact juice again.

Purée does do other custom smoothies and acái bowls so I definitely think I’m going to go back another time for something different, but maybe when I have more money to blow. I understand why the drink is so expensive. It’s a quality product made from quality, natural ingredients, but next time, I’m trusting my gut and sticking with the berry flavored things.

My Overwhelming Obsession With Food

I LOOOVVEEE a good meal. I will pay a pretty penny for a piece of fresh fish or for authentic Itallian pasta. I’m obsessed with flavor palates and taste profiles and all that god stuff, but it hasn’t been like that. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a mom who loved to cook, but she also loved to make things taste great. This usually involved mass amounts of butter and salt and sugar, but who doesn’t love a good helping of heart attack?

Now that I’m older and live on my own, I try to eat a lot healthier than this, but when I want to splurge I go all out and, honestly, I think that’s totally worth it. If I go out to eat, I’ll order chicken or fish, but sometimes I don’t.

I’m not saying all healthy food is gross and can’t be just as flavorful as butter soaked mashed potatoes with cheese, but sometimes I want those potatoes. It’s totally okay to cheat and enjoy a dish you really want to try. It’s just not good for you to go out to eat 4 nights a week and indulge every time you go out.

Love the food you eat and don’t cheat yourself on that comfort food we all know and love so much. Sometimes, you just need a little (or a lot of) butter in our lives.