Hot Tea

When I was younger, I would host tea parties with my younger brothers quite frequently. I fancied the idea of a proper English tea time, so I replicated it on a smaller scale. Our tea parties would be complete with tea sandwiches, small cookies, various teas, delicate china – the works!

Now, I do not have the elaborate tea parties I used to host with my younger brothers. I do, nonetheless, drink tea often. I find tea is an experience. In fact, one of my favorite tea brands, ‘Yogi Tea’ puts positive little messages on each tea bag paper. I think it has become almost ritualistic, on my behalf, because each time I open the tea I look for the message.

The messages they print are different per each bag; hence, with each cup of tea I drink, I have the opportunity to read a message and let it mentally “sink in.” I like knowing that by the end of my tea, I will feel mentally renewed.

xoxo Rachel

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Kitty Cat

I remember the day I met Emma. It was October 8th 2012. She was sleeping in one of those “playpens” they put cats in at the local pet store. Her left paw was covering her eye and her tail was curled up around her body, tucking her in.

When she awoke from her little cat nap, we took her into a special room and “let her loose.” She scurried around happily. We asked her if she wanted to go home with us, and she responded by excitedly rushing up to the door to leave.

From that day forward, Emma was a member of the family. I remember coming home mid-day and seeing her little face peering out nervously from behind the corner of the wall because she didn’t know who was “intruding.”

Even now, she is still a little scaredy cat, but she is friendly nonetheless. It is always amusing to watch how she interacts with guests. The moment the doorbell rings, she is there to greet whomever walks through the door. Subsequently, when the guest takes off his or her shoes, she uses it as an opportunity to try to shove herself inside.

I remember when she was smaller and my neighbor came over for a visit. He took off his shoes and the second he left them unattended Emma was right there trying to climb inside. No one has quite understood her obsession with shoes, but I don’t blame her because I like shoes too.

She is the sweetest little kitty and I love her dearly. Without her, my life would be far less thrilling. After all, who would leave me little play mice as a present? Who would knock my little hand carved birdie off my desk? Who would steal my jewelry and try to drop it in the trash? Oh and most of all, who would I thank for chewing up so many Apple product charging cords? […]

Emma and I share a special bond. Sometimes I feel like we are just two little kitty cats, while other times I am assured she believes she is a human! I will admit, she is quite spoiled, but she deserves it because she is so precious.

xoxo Rachel

Photo on 2-18-13 at 12.47 PM

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Eggs in Purgatory

I was introduced to the concept of eggs in a chunky chopped tomato “sauce” from the gorgeous and witty Miss Nigella Lawson. The recipe is simple, and delicious. She calls it “Eggs in Purgatory,” so I’ll stick with the name. All you do is heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan then add fresh minced garlic and cook until it is fragrant. Open a can of diced tomatoes (drain off the extra liquid) and add to the garlic. Give it a quick stir and then crack a few eggs into the “sauce.” Season with spices you like. Add some cheese (parmesan is especially good in this). Toast some bread and… voila! You’re ready to go. That’s it. Eggs to dip with delicious bread. A slightly cheesy tomato sauce. It doesn’t feel like Purgatory to me…IMG_0063

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A Trip to Philadelphia

A few weeks ago now, my dear friend Andrew and I made a trip to Philadelphia. Together, we explored a quaint neighborhood and wandered down many unique streets. We browsed antique shops, book stores, and tea houses. In the late afternoon we decided to stop in for lunch at a delightful place called Knock. He had a scrumptious flatbread, while I savored a tasty salad with grilled chicken. Not only were we impressed by the food, we were also very pleased with the service.

There was a cute looking dog I just had to immortalize in a photo because he or she stared up at me with the sweetest face. In that moment, I wanted to take him or her home as fast as I could!

I hope you enjoy the eccentrically painted yellow house, and the empty cobblestone street.

xoxo

Rachel

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Sushi: A Simple Life Pleasure

Nutella. Books. Popcorn. Yoga: all some of my simple life pleasures I’ve mentioned here. Yet, some how I’ve omitted sushi (the mysterious, yet oddly addicting food from Japan)! In case you are blindly unaware, I have a thing for sushi.

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There’s this little place downtown, in a good old-fashioned college town, where my friend and I walk, rain or shine (although it always seems like it’s about to rain) to get sushi. Each time, we get butterflies in our stomachs because the dimly lit interior makes it appear they are closed. To our relief, they are always open. The place is casual, and the sushi is spectacular.

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Together, we sit and discuss a wide variety of topics with exuberance and assiduity. With our mouths too full to speak, conversation pauses momentarily. In that moment, we gaze out the window that is conveniently located beside “our” table. Things seem to move in slow motion. The hustle and bustle of people and vehicles seems to idle for a few seconds. In these spaces between seconds, I realize it’s not just sushi which is a simple life pleasure of mine, but it is the time I spend sharing it with my friend.

xoxo Rachel

Farm Fresh Eggs

I visited a friend’s farm the other day. It’s funny because I am more thrilled over getting farm fresh eggs than probably most girls around. A day spent at someone’s farm is more exciting to me than buying a new dress (and anyone who knows me knows I looooove buying new dresses).

After “egg hunting,” we returned inside and washed off the eggs. Next, we packaged them into recycled egg cartons. On my way out the door, I was handed a few dozen eggs as a parting gift. What a serendipitous day!

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xoxo Rachel

Squarebar

Squarebar is a gluten, dairy, and soy free organic protein bar sweetened with low glycemic coconut nectar available in three flavors: Cocoa Almond, Cocoa Crunch, and Cocoa Coconut.

Squarebar is packed with 11-12 grams of protein, which makes it a great go-to snack! The best part (in my opinion) is that each bar is totally covered in chocolate!

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Squarebar began in the San Francisco kitchen of husband and wife Sarah & Andrew Gordon. After battling asthma most all her life, Sarah discovered that eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy, and processed sugars freed her from medication. It’s been more than five years since her last attack, and she no longer keeps an inhaler in the house.”

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Squarebar launched March 2012 at Natural Products Expo West and is now nationally distributed… growth built on our belief that Ingredients Matter Most . [Squarebar] sources only the most nutrient-dense organic and non-gmo foods, and work directly with farmers to ensure an ethical path from crop to bar.”

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Review: These bars are addicting! I am a huge chocolate lover, so these are perfect for when I want [need] chocolate! The Cocoa Crunch is my favorite variety because it is chocolate to the max, all the way through. Cocoa Coconut reminds me a super healthy version of an Almond Joy Bar. The coconut flavor is not too overwhelming. Cocoa Almond is a great nut and chocolate combination. I liked how there were not huge chunks of almond. These bars also didn’t have a “protein-bar” taste. Upon my first bite, I was hesitant if there was going to be a funky aftertaste, but there was not!

IMG_8885.JPGThank you to Squarebar for sending me a sample! And as a special treat to all my lovely readers, Sarah created an exclusive discount code! Please enter the code “cottagehouse” at the end of checkout for 20% OFF +FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING!!

xoxo Rachel

Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies. Please. The name is enough to make my taste buds tingle. Dark chocolate and salt are probably two of my [many] baking addictions. They work together. The salt brings out the deep richness of the chocolate, and the chocolate…well it’s chocolate!

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As the name suggests, these Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies remind me more of a truffle than a cookie. (That’s perfectly alright with me). IMG_9120.JPG

I find that when I’m busy making treats that I forget to snap many photos. My apologies. But as you tell by the batter, it is SUPER thick. The cookies turn out moist and gooey on the inside (sort of like a molten lava cake…but not that extreme), and a bit crisp on the outside (that’s why they have that gorgeous crinkle look to them). IMG_7032.JPGBittersweet chocolate is key. Don’t skimp on chocolate. (That should already be a rule without saying). Regardless, if you aren’t ready for a mouthful of deep, dark, salted, truffle, cookie monster, goodness then…you probably should have stopped reading this post ages ago! If you’re daring enough for the recipe, you can find it here.

xoxo Rachel

 

Be Healthy, Energized and Bright with Coromega

Coromega generously provided me with a sample of their non-GMO Superfood oil blend. So what is it? Well, it is a gluten free, dairy free, vegan daily boost of a creamy plant-based blend of chia, avocado, black cumin, coconut, and hemp superfood oils.

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Essentially, Coromega has taken the guesswork out of how to fit in all the healthiest and beneficial superfood oils into your daily healthy living routine. Coromega has blended the best of the best Non-GMO, cold press and unrefined superfood oils into one daily boost. Each serving (2 teaspoons) delivers:

  • Omega-3, 6 and 9
  • Powerful antioxidants
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Metabolism boost
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Natural detoxifier

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Review: I was leery of trying this non-GMO superfood oil blend because I was apprehensive of how it would taste; afterall, it is an oil blend. To my pleasant surprise, I was mistaken. It didn’t have an oily taste! It smelled like coconut and was creamy. To me, I mainly tasted the coconut and chia seed flavors (which I like). The best part is that it is very easy to digest and easy to add to any meal. Another aspect that I am fond of is that Coromega packages its products in eco-friendly packaging. To me, I regard any company that packages their products in eco-friendly packaging with high esteem because it is more difficult to do. Overall, I rate this as an excellent product. I do recommend it to others.

A special thanks to Coromega for the opportunity to try out their new product! Look for their oil blend at your local natural foods store or purchase from Coromega directly online.

Be Healthy, Energized and Bright with Coromega.

xoxo Rachel

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Roasted Pumpkin Mushroom Onion Soup

Fall has definitely arrived, and with the season, a plethora of root vegetables are available.

What better way to enjoy the season’s bounty than by making a pumpkin soup?

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Here’s the recipe:

Preheat oven to 450F
Cut up 2 large onions and 1 baking pumpkin. Add 2 cans of sliced mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until all veggies are tender (about 15 minutes)

Purée the veggies with some veggie broth. Put the “mash” into a large pot. Thin it out with some heavy cream and more veggie broth. Stir occasionally. Serve hot.

Xoxo Rachel

Pork Chops with Cabbage & Bacon

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 bone-in pork chops (1 inch thick)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 strips bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 head green cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds), cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set a large heavy roasting pan across two burners over high heat; add oil and heat. Season pork with salt and pepper; brown on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.

  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add bacon; cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add onion; cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add cabbage, cut side down, and cook until light golden, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook until slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Add flour and stir until coated. Add milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then nestle pork chops in sauce. Transfer pan to oven. Bake until pork is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

xoxo Rachel

Vega Sport Performance Protein in Vanilla

I was generously sent a package of Vega Sport Performance Protein in Vanilla from Vega!

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This protein powder is great! But I’m sure you might be wondering, “Sure, this protein powder is great…but how? What makes it different from every other protein powder?”

Here’s why:

“It’s a complete multi-source, alkaline-forming, plant-based protein powder blend, featuring 5,000mg of BCAAs and 5,000mg of glutamine per serving, Vega Sport Performance Protein is formulated to:

  • Improve strength and exercise performance
  • Repair and build muscles
  • Reduce recovery time between training

The recent innovation to Vega Sport Performance Protein comes from the addition of SaviSeed (sacha inchi) protein, a rich, plant-based source of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a key component of serotonin production. Serotonin — the feel good hormone — helps with the mental aspect of recovery, so you’ll keep the drive alive and be motivated to train again. Take Vega Sport Performance Protein within 30 to 90 minutes of your workout or throughout the day to meet your individual protein needs to recharge and repair so you can do it all again, sooner.”

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I also made Vega’s Orange Creamsicle Smoothie! It tastes sooooo delicious!! Please try out the recipe for yourself and let me know what you think!

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That’s one of the great things about Vega Sport Performance Protein because you can add it into food! I advise you to check out Vega’s Recipe Page!! They have a wide array of fantastic, easy and delicious, recipes featuring their awesome products! You can find their recipe page here.

The other aspect of Vega I really admire is their mission:

Mission

  1. To share our passion for clean, plant-based nutrition through education and leading by example;
  2. To deliver premium, innovative, industry-leading wellness solutions to our valued customers;
  3. To live our commitment to constant improvement by pursuing perfection, one small change at a time;
  4. To foster a fulfilling, inspiring workplace for Vegatopians that’s sustainable for our people, our company, and our planet.

Isn’t that inspiring?! I think so!

So overall, I believe Vega Sport Performance Protein is an excellent addition to a healthy diet. I believe it tastes great too! And I know I’m not the only supporter! I have several guy friends that are huge whey protein drinkers (just picture the ultimate bros) and I gave them each a packet of this Vega Protein powder to try out. Most of them were very apprehensive, but they were swayed to try it because of its health properties. All of these “bros” told me they felt great after their workout and definitely want to incorporate Vega Sport Performance Protein into their workout regimes.

Please let me know your thoughts on protein powders and if you’ve ever tried Vega!! If you have not, I encourage you to try! And a special thanks to Vega for sending me a sample! You guys are the best!! :)

xoxo Rachel

The Cake Shop

Yes, I make cookies, brownies, cakes, etc. as a hobby of mine…but what I really want is a functioning business. Something where people call me up for an occasion.

This past week, I was given the assignment of making a cake for my client’s birthday party. She wanted a chocolate cake on the inside, and purple incorporated on the outside. The rest was up to me. So, as usual, I went all out.

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This is by far my all-time favorite, and most creative, cake. On the inside, there are layers of chocolate cake, filled with whipped chocolate ganache frosting, sliced strawberries, & strawberry preserve. The outside is vanilla buttercream I dyed various shades of purple, then “painted” on for an ombré effect. Of course, this cake would not fit my “over-the-top-chic” standard without gorgeous flowers. #CustomCake #MyLove #LooksBetterInPerson #TastesEvenBetter

Tell me what you think! Or, let me know if you’re interested in ordering a fabulous dessert of mine to make your party extra special.

Xoxo
Rachel

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Amazing Grass Review

Amazing Grass sent me an abundant assortment of their organic green superfoods to sample and review! Included in my fantastic package were some whole food energy bars, raw plant-based nutritional supplement drink packets, and a functional Amazing Grass logo shaker cup.

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So here’s a great little intro to what Amazing Grass is all about: “Amazing Grass Green SuperFood allows you to get the best nutrition any time of day, everyday. We’ve hand selected the most nutritious vibrant vegetables, cereal grasses, algae, anti-oxidant rich fruits probiotics and immune boosting support herbs and created a delicious tasting powder that can be mixed easily with water. For those that haven’t acquired the taste for greens, we’re confident your taste buds will love our Amazing Grass Green SuperFood!”

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What I really like about Amazing Grass is that most of their products are vegan. Additionally all of their greens are raw. Several of their products are gluten-free, soy-free, and kosher. To top it off, they are all USDA certified organic!

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Of the bars, my favorite was the Chocolate Peanut Butter. Not surprisingly, my favorite Amazing Meal was Chocolate Infusion. Hey, I have a thing for chocolate…
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I even tested out a fun smoothie recipe featured on Amazing Grass website:Kelly’s Kiwi Berry Blast Smoothie; it can be found here.

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Review: If you’re looking for drinks and energy bars that taste like a treat – this is not for you. Although the flavors are not “I-just-ate-raw-kale-in-liquid-form-yuck” they aren’t “I-just-had-a-chocolate-milkshake-but-they-told-it-was-healthy-so-whatever” either. With that being said, I’d say this is the best product for getting your dose of nutrients and antioxidants in a flavorful way without loads of sugar.

xoxo Rachel