Kid friendly [and safe!]

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Working in an allergy sensitive environment has really started to open my eyes to peanut/tree nut free, gluten free, casein free foods. Reading labels of foods has become a new habit of mine, as the school I work in has strict allergy guidelines to ensure the safety of our kiddos.

With Halloween just around the corner, it has become so much harder than I thought to find candies safe for all six of my kiddos to eat during our trick-or-treating celebration.

For the sake of your own sanity, I’m going to do all the work for you! I’ve begun compiling a list of allergy-safe goodies for kids [and grown ups!] to enjoy.

Free of Top 8 Allergens (aka milk, egg, soy, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, fish, shellfish)

  • Amanda’s Own
  • Gimbals
  • No Whey Foods
  • YumEarth

Peanut Free and Tree Nut Free

  • Dove Chocolate
  • Hillside Sweets
  • Hershey’s
  • Jelly Belly
  • Sixlets
  • Sunkist
  • Tootsie aka tootsie pops, tootsie rolls, double bubble, sugar daddy, junior mints, dots, you know the drill

Milk Free and Egg Free

  • Chocolate Emporium
  • Jelly Belly
  • Sunkist

Wheat Free and Gluten Free

  • Chocolate Emporium
  • Hillside Sweets
  • Jelly Belly
  • Sixlets
  • Sunkist
  • Tootsie

Corn Free

  • Amanda’s Own

I am just a beginner to this allergy-free thing, but my list has slowly but surely begun growing and growing. What are some allergy-free treats or snacks you would recommend? xoxo.

 

 

October recipes | Pinterest edition

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I’ve been going pin-crazy on Pinterest with all things fall before the season even began. So, imagine me now that we are right in the midst of my favorite season of the year! Between home-decor inspo, costume ideas for Halloween, desserts, and other fall recipes, I have found enough to last me through every fall for the rest of my life!

Some of my favorite recipes that I am dying to try this fall, I have included below in this blog post to, both, share with you, and to motivate myself to actually make these within the next 31 days! I’ve taken my top 10 most desirable – here you go:

  1. Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
  2. Maple Glazed Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
  3. Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies
  4. Autumn Roasted Veggies with Apples and Pecans
  5. Oktoberfest Sheet Pan Brats with Roasted Vegetables
  6. The World’s Best Baked Honeycrisp Apples
  7. No Bake Peanut Butter Pumpkins
  8. Smoked Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup
  9. Slow Cooker Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate
  10. Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies

If you’re interested in seeing all of the other fun things I find, follow me on Pinterest, here.

What are some recipes you love making in the fall? xoxo.

National coffee day | My kind of holiday


It is no surprise that coffee has slowly but surely become my best friend. I remember at a young age, probably around 10 or so, drinking “coffee” – a concoction of loads of milk and sugar and a dollop of coffee. The older I got, the more prevalent the relationship between coffee and I became. I mean, hell, just today I drank four cups – one right now as I write this post!

So, on this #NationalCoffeeDay, I’ll give a little break down of my go-to drinks at some of my favorite coffee spots:

Tim Hortons: medium dark roast coffee with one cream and two sugar

Dunkin’ Donuts: medium cold brew with two cream and one sugar, with a hazelnut flavor shot [most recently, I have been a fan of the maple pecan flavor shot – yay fall!]

Starbucks: medium iced chai latte with a shot of espresso, aka “dirty chai” [most recently I have also become a fan of the coconut milk mocha macchiato]

Spot Coffee: medium caramel macchiato

Panera Bread: caffe latte, one size

Wegmans: medium organic hazlenut coffee with one cream and one sugar  

7/11: medium blueberry coffee with one cream and one sugar packet

Keurig K-Cups: Folger’s gourmet classic roast, Dunkin’ Donuts original blend, Starbucks veranda blend, The Original Donut Shop coconut mocha

Coffee creamer: Coffee Mate Natural Bliss sweet creme coconut milk, Coffee Mate Italian sweet creme coffee creamer

Are these the only places I get coffee? Nope. Usually anywhere that offers coffee, I take a cup! Today, I went so far as to even have coffee at Denny’s on my lunch break from staff development day!

What are some of your favorite coffee spots/drinks? xoxo.

Whole Foods | Welcome to the 716!


On Friday, September 15, 2017, Buffalo got their very first Whole Foods Market.

Happy one week anniversary!

I was only at a Whole Foods once in my entire life. It was in Cleveland and I had been talking about it ever since I went. Once I heard the news that a Whole Foods would be coming to my hometown, I spent every day from the press release three years ago to the grand opening so excited for this exact moment, and it did not disappoint.

Within the four walls of the Buffalo storefront, you can find a multitude of unique and amazing things:

  • Bar 1818 – called so as an ode to the year Amherst was founded, you can find anything from milkshakes that can be upgraded with a shot of alcohol, a pool table, and a killer menu with locally themed items such as Ru’s potato pierogi, a burger on weck, and a vast rotation of local brews.
  • More than 30 local brands to shop through, including Anchor Bar wing sauce, Lloyd Taco Factory rocket sauce, and Weber’s horseradish mustard, to name a few.
  • A bocce court in the front of the store, complete with balls straight from Italy.
  • A spatious produce area filled with perfectly stacked fruits and veggies with a neighboring bulk food station filled with pasta, granola, nuts, and trail mix.
  • A glass alcove cutting room where you are able to watch the butchers carve meats, all within a large display area for seafood and other various forms of meat that is scaled and rated from “no cages, no crates, no crowding” to “animal centered, entire life on the same farm.”
  • A bakery stocked with the most scrumptious variety of freshly baked goods with a neighboring prepared food section big enough and offering a large enough selection to eat something different every single day for at least a week.
  • A coffee and juice bar featuring endless varieties of coffee, espresso, and tea drinks.

The store has a very rustic, yet somewhat modern, feel to it. It is bright, welcoming, and perfectly stocked, especially for the large crowd that was there on opening day. I was impressed with everything from the atmosphere to the food I’d eaten in Bar 1818.


I cannot wait to go back once the “hype” dies down and I will be able to look through all of the products on a closer level, as the amount of people in the store prevented me from appreciating it as it should be.

Where: Whole Foods. 3139 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, New York, 14226.

What to try: Bar 1818 – Sweet Heat burger. A fresh burger patty topped with avocado, pineapple jalapeno relish, pepper jack , and cilantro. Absolutely to die for!

This sh*t is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

*SPOILER ALERT* Read the post below to find out why the title choice of those 2004 Gwen Stefani lyrics goes absolutely perfectly.

In my last post I made a slight mention about stopping at Wegmans to grab supplies for a dessert to make to bring to my family reunion. Once a year, my super extended family gets together to have an all day reunion / BBQ at a local town park. Since I am now of the appropriate age, aka not at the age to be bouncing on the bounce house or participating in the children’s activities, I could partake in bringing my own dessert.

Knowing me, you know I strive for simplicity. I am not, by any means, the greatest cook, or the greatest baker, so simplicity tends to be key for me. It’s not so much the lazy-factor, but the the-less-ingredients-involved-the-less-likely-I-am-to-mess-this-up factor. So, surprise, surprise I made my way over to trusty ol’ Pinterest and dove into finding a nice and easy summer BBQ dessert. The options were absolutely endless and I was forced to choose from a list of millions of mouthwatering recipes. After some deliberation, I landed amongst a Banana Split Fluff Salad.

When I tell you this was the easiest thing ever to make, this was literally the easiest thing ever to make. And it was delicious. Not only that, but it was a hit with everyone [my grandma had even eaten it for breakfast!].

I prepared the dessert the night before, letting it chill and settle in the fridge. I did not, however, add in the bananas until the next morning, as I did not want them to get mushy and brown. I also did not add the walnuts to this recipe due to my dad’s nut allergy. I also doubled the recipe, as it said it only makes 8 cups. But, let me tell you, it was way more generous than I expected, so plan accordingly!

banana split fluff salad

You can find the recipe for this dessert below:

Banana Split Fluff Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 – 3.4 ounce box instant banana pudding
  • 1 – 20 ounce can crushed pineapple [do not drain]
  • 1 – 8 ounce container Cool Whip
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts + 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced
  • 2 – 10 ounce jars maraschino cherries, halved

Instructions

  1. Stir together the pudding mix and pineapple until dissolved and thickened.
  2. Fold in the Cool Whip with a spatula.
  3. Gently stir in the marshmallows, nuts, chocolate chips, bananas, and cherries.
  4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to chill.

Notes

  • Stir in the bananas right before serving, or dip the banana slices in lemon juice to keep them from browning too quickly.
  • The recipe states this will make about 8 cups of salad – I got way more than 8 cups. It is very generous!

BuffaLOVE.

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It is no secret that I love being from Buffalo. Actually, I think that’s one thing all Buffalonians have in common, we all are die hard lovers of our city. I mean, come on, our city does smell like Cheerios! So, today, on Buffalo Day (7/16), I will honor the City of Good Neighbors.

The most iconic part of Buffalo, to me at least, is the over-abundance of amazing food. It might seem like I am lying when I say that every corner you turn brings you face to face with a great spot to eat, but I am not. Whether your stomping grounds are North Buffalo, South Buffalo, or right in the heart of the city, you’re sure to never go hungry. Wings from the Anchor Bar, beef on weck from Charlie the Butcher’s, hot dogs from Ted’s, subs from Jim’s Steakout, donuts from Paula’s, sponge candy from Watson’s, beer from Resurgence Brewery, loganberry…the list goes on, and on, and on.

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And if restaurants are not enough, holy cow, do we have a ridiculous amount of festivals. Taste of Buffalo, the Italian Festival, Allentown Art Festival, the Music is Art Festival, so on and so forth. These events make Buffalo not only diverse, but fun. [In true Buffalo fashion, I was at the Italian Festival just today!].

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Another highlight of Buffalo is one that people don’t always think of, the architecture. The Darwin Martin House, City Hall, the Prudential Building, the Central Terminal, the Ellicott Square Building, and Hotel Lafayette surely don’t make this city a sight for sore eyes!

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New to one of my top favorites of the city is Canalside. Every single time I go down to the waterfront, I am still amazed at how far this area of Buffalo has come over the last few years. Between HarborCenter, kayak rentals, an outdoor ice skating rink, outdoor concerts, free movie nights, there is always something to do. And, it’s family friendly! On the topic of family friendly, Buffalo is also home to a cute little zoo right in the heart of North Buffalo.

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“Buffalo, the sports town with a drinking problem.” It’s also really no secret of my die hard love for all things Buffalo sports. I have been a season ticket holder for the Buffalo Sabres for my entire life. Most of my favorite childhood [and adult] memories revolve around this team. If hockey really isn’t your forte, we have the Buffalo Bills or the Buffalo Bisons to help float your boat. And to address the elephant that I know is in the room, yes, yes, our sports teams are not the best. However, I’ll be damned if Buffalo sports fans give up on the hope that this year will be our year. We have some of the best fans in the league – we’re crazy, we love to party, and we’re over the top loyal. It’s hard to explain how we keep coming back each year unless you’re from Buffalo, but it’s something we just do. [It helps that our bars are open until 4am!]

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So, there you have it. Some of my favorite things about my city. I really could have this list go on and on, but if you’re not from this area, I don’t want to bore you. If you are from the good ol’ 716, I shouldn’t have to add on. You just know, there’s more to Buffalo than 15 feet of snow. xoxo.

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Donuts, fried chicken + beer.. what more could you want out of life?!

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So for those of you who don’t know, my boyfriend is from Rochester, New York. With the creation of this blog as well as this blog’s Instagram page, I have tried to keep in tune with local business from both Buffalo and Rochester solely for the fact that these are the two places we spend almost all of our time.

Upon scrolling through Instagram a few months back, I found this amazingly cute little cafe and fell in love with looking at all of their pictures of food. Last Sunday when Jon and I were home to see his family, we made the trek into the city of Rochester to check out BXCR.

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Let me just tell you…we are already counting down the days until we can go back! *ahem, eight days* It is just that great!

Aside from killer cold brew, this cafe has donuts that are absolutely to die for. Some options are even vegan friendly! On the day we went, their selection of donuts ranged from cannoli to trail mix all the way to maple bacon. I practically begged my boyfriend to try a donut, being the non-donut lover that he is, and to watch him eat an entire donut and enjoy it was the hilight of my life!

As if coffee and donuts isn’t enough for you, their menu goes so far as to include fried chicken sandwiches which comes with a side of a cornbread donut [which we will be trying next time!!], salads, mac and cheese, and even waffles on a stick. And what’s a chicken sandwich without an ice cold beer?! Well, you’re in luck because they have a wide selection on tap.

And as if it does not get any better, I learned that if you get them to cater an event for you, they bring a literal wall of donuts. [Picture taken from their website www.eatboxcar.com]

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If you are from Buffalo or any part of WNY, I beg to you, make the damn drive to Rochester. Think Paula’s Donuts times 8 million. I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Where: BOXCAR

Location: 127 Railroad Street, Rochester, New York 14609

What to TryEverything!

 

Food > everything.

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Being the self-proclaimed Pinterest addict that I am, it’s almost impossible not to find something great to eat every once in a while! This website is filled with so many recipes that litereally all you have to do is type one word like “chicken,” for example, and 87 thousand recipes pop up in front of your face. This is heaven for the instant-gratification-obsessed people of this century.

If you’ve tuned into this blog once or twice before, you would know that any meal that I have made that turns out semi-edible with my house still standing, it’s a good one. I’m gonna narrow down my top five recipes, out of the 110+ saved pins to my e a t board/the 108+ pins saved to the s w e e t s + t r e a t s board, that have worked wonders for me. Enjoy!

  1. Pina Colada Dip
  2. Easiest Ever Orange Chicken
  3. Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Soup
  4. Peanut Butter M&Ms Truffles
  5. Slow Cooker Creamy White Chicken Chowder

What are some of your favorite recipes?! Feel free to share! xoxo.

Weekend vibes. 

This weekend, I got to play tourist in my own neck of the woods. The first weekend of 80+ degree weather made me more than ready to get out of the house for some adventures outdoors.

Saturday brought about a trip to the Buffalo Zoo. My boyfriend lives close enough to walk there, so we took advantage. As noted before, I love going to the zoo. Seeing animals brings me an overwhelming sense of happiness, so I was more than thrilled to walk around and look at all my fluffy friends.

After walking around the zoo (and reaching my steps for the day), we were starving. Living in North Buffalo, there is not a shortage of places to eat – it always ends up a never-ending debate in your mind as to which restaurant you should choose this time. We settled for Deep South Taco.

I had never been to this restaurant before, but have always wanted to go since I drive by it multiple times a week. It sits right in the heart of North Buffalo on the corner of Hertel and Starin. The atmosphere is bright, colorful, and welcoming, and the menu is so large that I could not decide on what to eat.

We started off with a couple drinks and chips and salsa. I decided on the 2AM margarita – a blood orange, peach and raspberry concoction that tasted nothing short of summer!

As for dinner, I selected three tacos. Two of which the Pollo Verde, which consisted of green chili braised chicken, queso fresco, onion and cilantro. The other taco I chose was the Papas Con Rajas, which consisted of potato, rajas chipotle, cotija cheese, onion, and cilantro. Both choices amaaaaaazing!

We followed this meal up with a trip to the new Lake Effect Ice Cream location on Hertel. I had previously been to the Lockport location, but my boyfriend was a first timer. I opted for the Extra Cookies, Extra Cream while he chose Omanhene Chocolate. If you have not been, go. Or pick some up at your local Wegmans. Totally worth it, no matter what flavor you pick!

I finished up my “tourist weekend” today at the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls, USA. My brother is currently employed there, so my family decided to take a trip and cool off on this super-warm day (especially since our pool isn’t open yet) and visit him at work! I hadn’t gone on the boat in years, so it was great to re-experience this again! You get so extremely close to Niagara Falls that you leave soaking wet, almost as if you’ve taken a dive into a pool! The ticket ($18.75) gets you access to the boat ride which gets you up close to the American and Canadian Falls’, the observation deck, as well as a walkway alongside the American Falls. You get right into the heart of the Canadian “horseshoe” Falls that it is nearly impossible to take pictures – it something you have to experience in the moment. I definitely plan on doing this again this summer, as my boyfriend has never experienced it before, and it’s something I feel like everyone should do at least once!

All in all, this weekend left me full and tired. What did you do this weekend!? xoxo.

Things I’m currently obsessed with, 4.0

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It has been a while since I’ve done a post like this, so welcome back! Here’s some things I currently can’t get enough of:

  1. Drake. It’s no secret that Drake dropped his new album, More Life. It is also no secret that I am absolutely, whole-heartedly obsessed with Drake. What made my soul beam from the mountaintops is the fact that Drake literally gave Niagara Falls and Buffalo a quick little shoutout in his song ‘Can’t Have Everything.’ That’s just one gem off this 22 song album, so I suggest you go listen.
  2. The Mindy Project. I realize that I am probably a little behind on this trend, as I usually am when it comes to TV shows. I just recently in the last couple of months signed up for Hulu and was introduced to a whole entire new world of TV and movies that I normally would never give the light of day, The Mindy Project being one of them. This show is absolutely freaking hilarious and is the prefect little pick me up if you need a good laugh on a day when you would just rather a) cry or b) kill someone.
  3. Mediterranean Veggie Burgers. This past weekend, my boyfriend brought up the topic of veggie burgers a handful of times [for God knows what reason], so I decided to try it out. I went to my nearest Wegmans and picked up a pack of Morning Star Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers. They are made with chickpeas, spinach, and roma tomatoes and contain 10g of protein, 7g of fiber, and 70% less fat than ground beef. I paired them with red pepper hummus and a little onion on a whole wheat flatbread. Ahhhhmazing.
  4. Blistex Lip Medex Lip Protectant. This winter has absolutely killed my lips in terms of dryness. I am struggling to even wear any lipsticks out of my way too large collection because my lips get so dry, that they physically hurt. So far, this Blister is the absolute only thing that has worked for me. My lips are moisturized and they look healthy. Plus it is under $2, so everyone wins!