Pink Wings

Best Recipes of 2016

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This is my first post of 2017! My holidays stretched a little long this year as I just got back home yesterday. Hubby and I drove out to Vegas to visit my family for New Year's and the traffic was SO awful that we decided to fly him home and I would just stay another week with my parents and drive home on a low-traffic day. So that was a win-win because he didn't have to drive all day again, and I got to eat my heart out another week in Vegas. As I type this I'm sitting with a face mask on trying to recover from the dry Vegas winter and feeling excited for all my New Year's plans. Today I put together a list of some of my best recipes from 2016: my most popular ones, as well as my personal favorites, so you will see a bit of overlap. I'm so grateful for all of the growth and opportunities that 2016 brought me, and am giddy with excitement to implement some new blog plans over the next few weeks. So stay tuned, and check out my lists below! How was your 2016??

Most Popular Recipes 2016
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1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 
6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

My Favorite Recipes 2016
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1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 
6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

One Week's Meals in One Hour

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LeanCuisine #CollectiveBias

I can’t remember how my obsession started. I think it was when hubby came home from one of his trips and brought back the LEAN CUISINE® Marketplace Ranchero Braised Beef meal. As he scarfed it down for some extra protein before zipping off to the gym, he told me how he recently discovered these tasty treats and how they served as perfect quick meals. So I bought a few more of the same one, then started eating them myself, then started trying all of the flavors, and…well let’s just say that over the past month alone I have bought more than 20 of these delicious things and have my freezer well stocked with more. They've been so nice to have during this season while I’ve been swamped with holiday prep. Now that the holidays are over I have felt a bit of that stress fall away. Hubby’s family came to visit, and we luckily had an incident-free Christmas dinner (whew!) and even happened upon some new favorite recipes. But even as I’m writing this we are traveling up the California coast after two days exploring Big Sur and Monterey with the fam bam, and on our way to San Francisco to see a friend who’s in town. After that we have one last day with the in-laws, after which we make the long drive to my own parents’ for a quick New Year’s celebration before hubby has to return to work. If my holidays have been this crazy I’m wondering what y’alls have been like? It has been beyond nice to have these yummy meals ready in my freezer for those days (ie every day this month) when I am either too busy or too tired to put together a good meal myself. In the past I would have reached for a package of my favorite Korean ramen, but I’m glad I have something I can feel much better putting into my body. Lean Cuisine’s Marketplace meals offer protein-packed, gluten-free, non-GMO, organic ingredient options that are above all else delish.

These meals are perfect for pairing with just one simple side dish. So today I am sharing a recipe that I think splendidly complements pretty much any of the Lean Cuisine Marketplace flavors, and matches up to them in ease, convenience, flavor and vibrance. With less than an hour in the kitchen whipping up this side dish you will have an entire week’s worth of wholesome meals at your disposal. And a big FYI: this is the best month to stock up on Lean Cuisine’s meals because Target is offering them at $1.99 (normally $3.00) from 1/1-1/31.

In my photos I showcased the Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Sesame Chicken, Spicy Penne Arrabiata, Ranchero Braised Beef, and Spinach Artichoke Tortellini, all delish. But I also love the Sweet & Spicy Korean-Style Beef, Sweet Sriracha Braised Beef, Thai-Style Ginger Beef (can you tell the flavors I lean towards? haha), etc. Check out all the flavors on the Lean Cuisine website, and make sure you take advantage of the great $1.99 price at Target. Have you tried these yet? What are your favorites?

Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Sesame Chicken

Spicy Penne Arrabiata

Spinach Artichoke Ravioli

Ranchero Braised Beef (with Chipotle Mashed sweet potatoes) 

Garlic Parmesan Winter Veggies
Serves 6-8

  •  1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb. beets, peeled and diced 
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt + pepper


Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place all of your veggies on the baking sheet and drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil. Give your tray a few tosses to coat the veggies evenly. Sprinkle with garlic powder, then salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 45 minutes until tender-crisp. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, then return to the oven to bake another 10 minutes until the veggies are fully cooked and the cheese is starting to brown. Serve with your favorite Lean Cuisines for a complete meal.

His + Hers Holiday Travel Look

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GetHolidayReady #CollectiveBias

Who's traveling over the holidays? Last year we attempted to drive to my parents' on Christmas eve, but both were sick, and in misery ended up turning back after a few hours. This year we have family coming to visit us instead, which is both exciting and terrifying. We'll be going all together on a road trip down the coast and around the Bay. I can't wait to show them the wonders of Big Sur, Carmel, and San Francisco. Recently I did a bit of research to find the best Christmas tree farms in the Bay and ended up at this one in Dixon. Although we got there later in the day not long before it closed, it was fun to grab some hot chocolate, watch the lumberjacks (and jills) at work in their plaid shirts, and smell the pine trees while wandering around. Today I put together a 3-step holiday look for travel occasions like these where upkeep needs to be easy and comfort is best. His look is simple: festive flannel, wintry coat and hipster boots. The her look: festive nails, lips and a Christmas sweater make it real easy to get into the holiday mood. Keep on scrolling for the deets.

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Step 1: Lips
These yummy color sticks get you holiday glam while combating the cold, dry winter air. I used the Neutrogena® MoistureSmooth Color Sticks in Plum Perfect, Soft Raspberry and Pink Nude. Above I'm wearing Pink Nude, below I'm trying each one of them on after creating a clean slate with Neutrogena® Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes. The color sticks are made with fruit extracts and mango and shea butter, so they are refreshingly moisturizing and feel milky smooth. The cool part is that the twist up technology makes it so you have a perfect application every time without ever having to sharpen anything. The second cool part is that they can be removed easily with Neutrogena's towelettes which statistic say erase 99.3% of your most stubborn makeup including waterproof mascara. Yup. And you can find these yummy sticks and Neutrogena's towelettes where I did, all at Walmart.

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Step 2: Nails
These festive nails are both easy to maintain and very forgiving. My impatience often leads to smudges, but with the glitter coat they are covered.

Step 1: coat nails in a solid color like red or gold.
Step 2: Gently add a layer of gold glitter over the top.
Step 3: Finish with a clear top coat.

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Step 3: Holiday Sweater
All you need is one piece of colorful clothing to get into the holiday spirit. Everyone should own one go-to Christmas sweater, or else how will you attend all the ugly Christmas sweater parties?

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Hope you enjoyed my easy 3-step holiday travel look. What are your guys' holiday travel plans? Check out all the colors of the Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Sticks and see which one can fit into your holiday activities.

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How to Stay Sane on the Road: Travel Tips

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CentrumFunFlavors #CollectiveBias

Last month I put together a series called "Travel More" where I shared info on subjects such as finding cheap flights, how to build miles, etc.. In the past year I've been to Singapore, Bali, Japan, Italy, Korea, France, and several other countries and states all for less than $1500 in airfare between both my hubby and myself. To get to Singapore, Bali and Japan it cost about $100 each and the same for Europe. Make sure you check the series out if you haven't yet. Apply the tips I shared there and you could be flying first class to Paris in just a few months time. But whether you're planning a big trip overseas or a road trip to your parents' for the holidays, the tips I'm sharing today are for all kinds of travel. I've teamed up with Centrum® MultiGummies® to share my best on-the-road tips, and I've got some good ones with real-life stories. FYI: they're mostly horror stories because I want you to learn from my mistakes ha! Check it out:

Big Ben, London
1. Beware of the poison dogs. While hubby and I were vacationing in Hawaii earlier this year we were going back to our hotel one night and just wanted a light snack. We stopped at a convenience store located inside our hotel and they had hot dogs. You know those ones that sit there cooking on these lukewarm rollers for who knows how long? My hubby loves those things, although they've never reciprocated his love. He's gotten food poisoning from them before so I told him not to eat one, especially at that time of day (who knows how long they'd been there?!) but he did anyways. He has this thing where if I tell him not to do something he wants to do it more. Well anyways you can guess what happened. He got food poisoning the next day and we lost out on one day of our Hawaiian holiday because of it. The funny part is that he still eats them, apparently they're worth the risk. Basically the moral of the story is: use your common sense. It sucks to get sick, but it especially sucks on vacation. Some people say to avoid street food in third world countries. I could never recommend that, it's one of the best things. But you can usually tell when sanitary conditions are a little worse in some areas as compared to others, so again, use your common sense guys.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
2. Save Face. It's a pun. I'm actually talking about skincare. I always have to make adjustments to my skincare routine wherever I travel to. The worst was last year in Vegas' winter. I got the ugliest cold sore, had just had a bad dye job (that my mom ended up fixing--yay for moms!), and my skin dried out so much that makeup was almost impossible because it just stuck to unsightly dry spots. What saved me was using a face spray right before putting on my makeup, so that it stayed moist just long enough to apply foundation cleanly. But these are my essential skincare rules when on the road: 1) no makeup on flights (or road trips) longer than 6-7 hours, 2) pack a face mist (in the check-in bag of course), and 3) keep face wipes on hand. You may think a face mist is superfluous but I consider it crucial on two occasions: if you have a long flight, because your skin is rapidly drying out in that high altitude, and if you're going to a drastically different climate (unless it's tropical). And I'm not talking about fancy aerosol cans that are just full of spring water. I'm talking about ones with a moisturizing component. These things are seriously clutch when traveling because they are the only thing you can carry around everywhere and apply even over makeup. Trust me, there is nothing worse than having your skin freaking out when you're just trying to enjoy an overdue holiday.

3. Keep Health in Your Purse. With my nonexistent food filter, I know more than anyone how eating habits can get out of hand and exercise routines can fade away when on the road. This year I was converted to Centrum® MultiGummies, which are gummies that are delicious as any, except that they also contain essential nutrients. It's the easiest way to put some nutrients back into your system even on a tight travel schedule. The Centrum® MultiGummies are gluten-free and have no artificial flavors or sweeteners, and these multi-benefit multivitamins include 100% or more of essential nutrients, Vitamins B12, D, and E. Walmart carries this iconic orange bottle, and if you scroll to the bottom of the post you will find a link for some coupons!

Musee du Louvre, Paris
4. Offline games. I don't really play games on my phone, but I keep a few on there anyways for travel purposes. When you're on a long flight and have exhausted every other form of entertainment and definitely don't want to pay an arm and a leg for one hour of internet, that's when your offline games come in handy. Or when you're on a long train ride in a foreign country, etc etc. Just trust me, they'll come in handy one day and you'll thank me for that one time you didn't die of boredom.

Ubud, Bali
5. Phone Service. I go overseas 2-3 times per year, but my hubby is overseas at least once per month. So having phone service with decent overseas data and zero roaming charges was a given for us, and it has been soooo convenient when traveling. While in Bali last year we met with a nice driver named Jimmy who we ended up hiring for a few days to take us all over the island. One day we ended up in the car probably double the time we really needed to be there. I think Jimmy wasn't very familiar with that part of the island, whereas we had GPS on our phones telling us the quickest routes. Outside of that situation I don't think we ever had to deal with being lost since we always had our phones. Obviously this isn't a necessity for a lot of people if you don't go abroad much, but I just wanted to point it out for the next time you're getting ready to change plans. Having a working map and navigation on my phone as well as free texting, etc. in other countries has been beyond delightful to have the past few years. The one place where it's not as helpful: Korea. Because, y'know, North Korean spies (true story).

6. Plan for Success. Not everyone can fly business or first (although I have great tips for doing so in my travel series :), but you can prepare and prevent some bad situations. Some examples: 1) Know your plane. There can be drastic differences between new model planes and older ones. Do a bit of research and try to snag a flight on a nicer plane. Do you really want to accidentally find yourself on a 6-hour flight to NYC with no in-flight entertainment besides the rowdy conversation going on two rows behind you? Didn't think so. 2) Know your seat. If your flight's seating is first-come-first-serve, make sure you check in as soon as allowed so that you can to lower your chances of getting stuck in the back corner next to the bathroom. 3) Know your itinerary. If you have a short layover in a large disorganized airport then don't lollygag. Or if you have a long layover in say Incheon, know that you can go ice skating, dress up in traditional clothing, go to the movies, visit gardens, etc. without ever leaving the building. I've been through Incheon I don't know how many times in my life and never knew they had all that plus more. It can really pay to keep yourself informed.

I hope you found some of these tips useful. I know they have helped me stay sane when on the road. Thanks to awesome Centrum® for sponsoring this post. Taking Centrum® MultiGummies® makes me feel good about my health, and they are especially great when traveling. Find lots of great coupons on the Centrum® website. What are your hacks for staying sane on the road?

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Three Christmas Traditions

Every year I lament not creating Christmas traditions with my hubby and not working harder to bring that holiday spirit into our home. Somehow not long after I throw up our single box of Christmas decorations, suddenly the holiday has passed without much else happening. But this is the year! As I write this I'm surrounded by glowing Christmas lights, can smell the subtle perfume of my pine-scented candle, have my scheduler open reminding me of grand plans for cookie-decorating this week, and am smiling just thinking of some new traditions I've made. This season I hope I have no regrets and can carry these new traditions into future years. Check out the three I'm doing this year, then tell me about yours:

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Christmas Tradition #1: Advent Calendar
This is the first year I've put together my own advent calendar, and I'm so in love with how it's turning out that I've already decided to make it into a tradition. Last year I did a 12 days of Christmas for my hubby but was surprised by how quickly all the "little" trinkets added up! I felt like instead of spending money on all those little things, I'd rather put it towards something larger that hubby really wants. But with the advent calendar I decided to use chocolates from a favorite shop in Napa Valley. Although they are pricy chocolates, overall they still end up being cheaper than any other option, and it's fun to guess the flavor each day. We watch a 30-second Christmas video corresponding with the day, and then open our yummy snack. I wrapped up each sweet treat in this customized Christmas paper from Tiny Prints that I fell in love with. It says, "Be Merry~ with love, Justin + Gina."

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Christmas Tradition #2: Christmas Cards
Confession: I never understood family Christmas cards until a year ago. For the longest time I honestly felt like they were a silly way to spend unnecessary money. But that all changed last year when I had a friend from Japan ask if she could send me a card. I've received cards from many friends over the years, but never from one overseas. (Are these photo cards a tradition anywhere but here?) It made me suddenly realize how much I missed that connection with my friends and family abroad. Both hubby and I have many loved ones in east Asia and miss them frequently, as well as our faraway stateside family. Maybe I am late to the game, but I finally realized how those simple pieces of paper can reconnect you with loved ones and bring the holiday spirit into a home. I scrambled to put together my own card to send back to my Japanese friend and was a bit ashamed of what I came up with; but being that it was such late notice I sent it off anyways and vowed to be prepared next year. And I am! I was so excited to start a Christmas card tradition this year, and so happy to find out that it doesn't have to be a "silly way to spend unnecessary money." I got my cards from Tiny Prints, who I think have about the best value out there. I ordered business cards from them earlier this year and fell in love with their selection of modern pretty designs for a really great price. So happy I have these beautiful cards to send out this time around. Find these exact ones HERE.

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Christmas Tradition #3: Family Calendars
My own family has seven children and the last one just got married a few months ago. When everyone began to spread out, my parents started making family calendars so that we could all stay connected and be aware of special events. So one year I decided to do that with my hubby's family and it became a Christmas tradition. This one took me almost no time to put together because I saw this design on the first page and immediately knew it was the one. These came from the Tiny Prints site too, and are all wrapped up in my customized paper and these perfect little matching gift tags.

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