Rachel Awtrey

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The Best Cuban Restaurant in Toronto

Tasting my way around Toronto 🖤🇨🇦

Tonight we tried a Cuban restaurant in Toronto! It had tasty foreign cuisine, a killer cocktail menu and it was in a “diner” feeling location, perfect for your low-key night out!

I got the Sangria + Pork Shoulder Dish. Highly recommend!

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Love Me Some Kombucha

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Quick question: Any kombucha fans out there?
Or are you thinking “what the heckie is kombucha?” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It’s a fermented tea that’s rich in beneficial probiotics and is greeeeat for gut health (especially for us with bodies who don’t like types of food).
@healthade is always stocked in our fridge and has the best variety of flavors if you want to try it out!
(see stories for my favorite flavors) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
YOU MUST TRY! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

S'mores Brownie Bars
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If you bopped on here from Dwell605’s cookie blog post, I am so thrilled that you are here and hope you leave with one more cookie recipe for your cheery season!

It’s that time of year: Christmas cookies, cookie swaps and all things sweet! I don’t know about you but I find myself scrambling, resulting to old family recipes I just haven’t mastered and Pinterest for all of my cookie ideas. No fear, friends! A few other bloggers and I have gathered together and rallied a few recipes for you - don’t fret! Between all of us, there’s got to be one that makes you excited for your next office party, cookie swap or family gathering!

My cookie contributions is pretty easy, super sweet and great for those that love chocolate!

Imagine you’re at a campfire, roasting s’mores and instead of chocolate, you put in a brownie in the middle. Yep. We’re going there! It’s fail-proof and great for kids, too!

What you’ll need…

  1. Your favorite box brownie mix (plus the ingredients that includes)

  2. A box of graham crackers

  3. A Milk Chocolate Hershey’s Bar

  4. Mini Marshmallows

How you’ll make them…

  1. Preheat oven to temperature according to your boxed brownie directions

  2. Spray and line a 9x13” baking dish with graham cracker pieces

  3. Mix together ingredients for your favorite brownie mix

  4. Gently pour over the brownie mix over the graham cracker lined baking dish. (Be careful! The graham crackers will want to move!)

  5. Bake slightly less than the brownie directions call for and take out of oven just before being finished

  6. Layer marshmallows on top of almost-baked brownies

  7. Break apart Hershey’s bar and stick corners in various places in the brownies.

  8. Finish baking according to box directions

  9. Let cool, cut into brownie pieces and serve warm! (might I suggest vanilla ice cream on the side?)

Bon apetit!

Now, if you’d like, you can head over to my friend Mi Casa Di Bella’s cookie, it’s quite scrumptious!

 
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Friendsgiving Hosting
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The other evening we hosted a Friendsgiving party and it was THE MOST fun! It was way easier than we ever anticipated so we wanted to share our tidbits and secrets with you this season! There are lots that go into this but it makes it all worth it once you have your friends and loved ones around a table breaking bread and laughter bouncing off of your walls!

The Invitations

Yes, you could text your guests to let them know that you are hosting a fun party but how fun are invitations? I have always loved receiving a thoughtful invitation with information about the event and what I can expect in a fun way. This year, instead of doing printed and mailed invitations or e-vites, I designed my own invitation and sent it with the text. It says “you are thought of!” To use my design as a template for yours!

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The Table

Yes, you could go get lots of fun decor for your table and make it super fancy but I like to shop from my home! I go and grab pumpkins, fall decor, greenery, flower vases, platters, candlesticks and votives to decorate our space.

This year, we decided to go with a long family-style table and it was the most fun! We had around 20 guests so it was a way that everyone felt included, you could see everyone and it was easy, with the way our house is set up, to get in and out for seconds (or thirds). We combined 3 card tables, borrowed some chairs, covered with some inexpensive table cloths and a layer of craft paper (in case there were any spills, makes for easy clean up with larger groups)

If you’re having a smaller get-together, you could go with real plates, heck, you could even pull out your china if you’d like! Or, you could run to your favorite store (cough, Target, cough) and grab a few of your favorite festive plate and serving ware. We found dinner plates, dessert plates, and gold utensils.

The Food

By no means do you feel like you have to prepare all of the food! On my invitation, I asked people to bring a side and drink of choice! That way, we had plenty of wine and food to go around! Need side ideas?

Entree ideas: Turkey, ham, pot roast, tenderloin

Side ideas: Sweet potato casserole, veggies, bread/rolls, a salad, stuffing, gravy, cranberry dressing, mashed potatoes, corn bread

Dessert ideas: Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, spice cake, cookies of your choice

This Friendsgiving, I paired up with Ashley Mac’s in Birmingham, Alabama and they gave us the ham, sweet potato casserole, rolls, cornbread dressing, and pecan pie. They are AMAZING! If you’re on-the-go or would want to easily impress people this Thanksgiving, make sure to put in an order from their Holiday menu! Use the code RACHEL10 for 10% off! All you have to do is pick it up, put it in your fridge and heat up with the direction on the top! So easy!

Make sure to have platters and serving ware ready to go for your dishes, a lot of people will bring them without! That’s alright! It gives an occasion for those platters to come out of the pantry!

I set up a buffet for ours using the long table for the sides. If someone wanted seconds, they could ask to pass the dish just like the good ole days!

Pro tip: We heated up the dessert as people finished dinner!

The Drinks

Of course, after asking people to bring their drink of choice, you’ll end up with a lot of yummy drink options. We provided a sangria for our guests and it was a HIT! Here’s the recipe!

The Music

I created a jazz playlist that played the whole night. It’s upbeat enough to be tons of fun but smooth enough to not cause chaos! Feel free to use this at your upcoming Friendsgiving/Thanksgiving as well!

Last Minute Details

Light your candles, turn off your heat (!! it will get toasty with all of those people), turn on your music and pull those dishes out of the oven, you’re ready for a party!

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Spaghetti Squash Boat
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The spaghetti squash boat - a family fave around the Awtrey household.

It’s the simple, super cheap and “healthy” version of your typical spaghetti dish. It’s also a great meal if you live by yourself, or one other person because it makes two simple portions so easily!

I like this low-carb meal and often result to it when we have busy days because it takes little tending to *cue the kitchen dance parties*!

Here’s all you’ll need:

Ground Turkey (or beef, your preference)
Your favorite jar of marinara
One spaghetti squash

Here’s how:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 for a quick cook

  2. Cut your spaghetti squash in half long ways so that the spaghetti squash takes an ovular shape*

  3. Pour olive oil and add salt to the inside of the spaghetti squash

  4. Lay the spaghetti squash flat side down on a sheet and place in preheated oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the edges are brown**

  5. While the spaghetti squash is cooking, brown your ground meat in sauce pan on medium-high heat

  6. Once meat is cooked thoroughly, add your jar of marinara and reduce heat to a simmer

  7. When spaghetti squash is finished cooking, remove the sheet from the oven, flip the spaghetti squash over and remove the seeds from the pit of the squash with a spoon or tongs.

  8. Once pitted, you’ll see that the spaghetti squash takes a “bowl” shape and there is now room to add your desired amount of marinara and meat.

  9. Garnish with parmesan cheese, oregano or any of your favorite toppings

  10. Serve and enjoy!


Here are my tips + tricks

*Heat the entire spaghetti squash in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds to soften the shell + inside for an easier time cutting

**I remove the seeds after it has cooked in the oven because, rather than it being like scraping the inside of the pumpkin, the seeds are now softer and come out more easily.

I also decided to serve my spaghetti squash as a “boat” or “bowl” because the dish stays warmer longer. I’ve found that when I scrap out the squash, it cools quickly leaving my guests (and husband) with a cold meal.

Enjoy!!