Dinner in 30: Easy Paella Recipe

I think the underlying hesitancy to cook is: busyness. An hour of prep. A half hour to cook. And an hour of countless dirty pots and pans. I recognize this need and the demand for easy, healthy, flavorful meals that nourish and satisfy you and your family. That’s why my new goal is to create a series of recipes that will be classified as: Dinner in 30. Healthy, unique, meal ideas that take around 30 minutes from start to finish.

This easy paella recipe is the definition of simplicity. Minimal ingredients, and only requires one pot and one pan. The use of chicken sausage keeps things simple, since chicken sausage is bought already fully cooked. All you must do is chop it and brown it. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

Here is this lovely recipe, that has become a weeknight staple in The Brown Abode.

Easy Paella Recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz bag of yellow rice (with saffron)
  • 3 chicken sausages, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:

  1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the bag.
  2. While the rice is cooking, brown the chicken sausage in a large skillet.
  3. Sautรฉ the onion and pepper.
  4. Then add the peas and black beans.
  5. When rice is cooked, add to the large skillet and toss.
  6. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Note:

I like to use Vigo yellow rice. It has the seasonings already in it. ย Saffron is a very important component of traditional paella, but it can be very expensive if you buy it on its own. It is definitely worth buying rice that already has saffron in it.

Pumpkin Face Mask


Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or a skincare expert. I’m just a girl who loves pumpkins in the fall! Whenever making a diy mask or using a new skincare product, always apply a small amount to your arm before using to test how your skin will react.

There’s two things I’m currently all about right now: pumpkins and selfcare. There’s just something about fall: the way it looks, feels, tastes. I yearn for it more each passing year. And with that longing, my love for pumpkins grows. They really are a delight, aren’t they?

While amidst my favorite season, I’m also in a season of change in my life personally. This presents challenges at times, but I’m learning to take time to breathe in the fresh air, and lean in to my Savior.

So since pumpkins and selfcare are two things I am loving right now, I thought I’d combine the two! A pumpkin face mask! ๐ŸŽƒ


As if I even needed another reason to love pumpkins, they happen to be really beneficial to your skin! Pumpkin smoothes and brightens your skin, contains acne fighting zinc, has lots of fatty acids and vitamin e, and contains antioxidants for radiant skin!

This simple mask only contains 3 ingredients, and is so fun and festive to use! Hmmm fall themed spa-night, anyone? ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ˜

Pumpkin Face Mask

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 TB of canned organic pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp of raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients and stir in a small bowl.
  2. Apply to a clean face and leave on for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse skin with cool water and blot dry.
  4. Enjoy hydrated, plump skin!

Note:

This recipe yields enough for two to three uses. Store covered in the fridge and use within a couple of days.

Light a candle, grab your favorite book or magazine (The Magnolia Journal), and enjoy the pumpkin-y goodness!


September Favorites

Here we are. September has arrived and I’m ready to be swept away by cozy turtlenecks, warm sips of pumpkin lattes, crisp air, crunchy leaves, camping, smoky bonfires, suspenseful movies, evening walks, and delicious aromas coming from my kitchen. ๐Ÿ

With a few more weeks left before fall, I thought I’d share some things I’ve been quite taken with lately. Perhaps this will be a fun new feature of the blog!

1.ย Brown Tote

I typically use two purses: one is a purse I use strictly for work. The other is used for weekend fun. I purchased this tote as a work purse, but I’ve been loving it so much, I’ve been using it constantly! It’s large enough to fit a laptop, a small umbrella, and even that fresh eucalyptus from the market. At a great price, I’m happy with the quality so far. I’ve been seeing this style tote everywhere lately. Figures Target would come out with an affordable option!

2. Oka-Bย Flip Flops

These flip flops (courtesy of Oka-B)ย are perfect for “Florida Fall.” The black combined with the leopard detail doesn’t look too summery, but instead rather cozy. I love these paired with some rolled up jeans and a cardigan. Effortless. Keep your eyes peeled for these flip flops in their fall collection!

3. The Magnolia Journal

I read this magazine like a book: from cover to cover. This magazine always leaves me inspired and motivated. Amazing design ideas, beautiful (tear-jerking) stories, and recipes that have you reaching for your grocery list. Each issue is better than the last. I can’t recommend it enough! The Fall issue is on newsstands now!

4.ย Sips By Tea Subscription

Calling all tea lovers! Sips by is a monthly tea subscription box. If you know me, this is seriously a match made in heaven. With some natural light and a cup of tea, I’m in my happy place. The subscription has you fill out a profile so they can select teas from around the world, specifically catered to your tastes. This is also a great way to get a little adventurous and try new types of tea!

5.ย Rifle Paper Co. Recipe Box

This darling recipe box could easily become a family keepsake. It’s as pretty as it is practical! There are also a few other patterns to choose from. I find a daily little joy, reaching for a well loved recipe from this box, and adding a new favorite to the collection.

Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream Recipe

It’s no secret I love my fruits and veggies. But if I had to choose between the two, I’d hands down pick fruit. I’m obsessed. Even as a little girl, I would turn down a cupcake for a handful of grapes. That is true love, my friend.

I love finding new ways to enjoy my favorite fruits. Since peaches are in season in the summer, I’ve been buying them a lot lately.

The other night, I decided to pull out my little George Foreman grill (#apartmentliving) and grill up some peaches. Then, I topped them with some ice cream. It was delicious. However, the next time I made it, I took it to the next level by marinating the peaches in some dark brown sugar and cinnamon. Um WOW. So good. Billy literally said, “This the best dessert I’ve had in a long time!”

What’s funny is, this recipe is so easy. Like, it’s such a fake out. It’s all like, “I’m so fancy.” Yet, it’s not. Gotta love it.

Because of its delicious simplicity, this is the perfect dessert to make when you have guests over. You won’t be slaving away for hours in the kitchen, and your guests will be impressed.



The warmth of the grilled, marinated peaches with the coldness of the rich ice cream, is an unbeatable combination. I guarantee you I will be making this on many summer nights to come! My new favorite little recipe has me feeling just peachy! (I had to! ๐Ÿ˜‰) ย ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿจ

Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 peaches
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter pecan ice cream

Directions:

  1. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit.
  2. On a plate, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Massage sugar and cinnamon mixture all over peaches.
  4. Place peaches flesh down and allow to marinate in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Grill the peaches. If you do not have a grill, use a grill pan or George Foreman grill.
  6. Once grilled, top with butter pecan or vanilla ice cream. I recommend butter pecan, because peaches and pecans are a delightful combination! Enjoy!

Grilled Zucchini Open Faced Sandwich Recipe

I’ve heard it said before, “Food is memories.”

Isn’t that so true? We remember meals we’ve shared with people. We remember that amazing entree we had on a vacation. We remember when someone cooks for you. I think that’s one of my favorite things about food. One bite can take you back to another time and place.

The recipe I am sharing today has a memory. It’s a small memory. It wasn’t from a holiday or big party. This memory is a simple one. One that always stuck with me.

Growing up, I went to my Nonna and Nonno’s house a lot. I remember going there one afternoon, and they were in the kitchen. Of course. This time, they were grilling zucchini on the stove together.

“Julia, you need to try this,” my Nonno said as he drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the grilled zucchini. He toasted some crusty, Italian bread for me and put the zucchini on top. As I bit into, I’ll never forget the burst of flavor in my mouth. But the best part was the memory of my Nonno excitedly preparing this snack for me. It was special. There was love in it. He loved good food and he loved me.

So today, I’m sharing with you this easy grilled zucchini open faced sandwich recipe. Maybe one day you’ll make it for someone, and they’ll never forget it. Isn’t it neat how we never know when we are going to impact someone? ๐Ÿ’—

Grilled Zucchini Open Faced Sandwich

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut the zucchini in half. Then thinly slice the long way.
  2. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Grill the zucchini either on a grill, or a grill pan.
  4. When cooked through, remove from the grill. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Slice a baguette and toast it till crisp and brown on the edges.
  6. Serve the zucchini on top of the bread to create an open faced sandwich. Enjoy!

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“Pizza” Popcorn Recipe

Hi friends! Well, for starters, I’m so happy to be on summer vacation right now! โ˜€๏ธ๐ŸŒด It is such a blessing and something I don’t take for granted. Last year I wore myself down workwise, and I think it contributed to my poor health last fall. Therefore, this summer, my focus is good HEALTH and lots of rest.

With all that being said, I’d like to share a healthy recipe with you! Recently, I did a blog postย about my top 5 favorite healthy snacks right now. In that post, I mentioned popcorn.

The simply wonderful thing about making your own popcorn, is you control exactly what goes in it. This recipe contains no butter. Yet, there is SO much flavor, you won’t even miss it! Billy isn’t a huge popcorn lover, but he LOVES this recipe!

“Pizza” popcorn. That is not a typo. Dreams really do come true. You see, when you combine olive oil, salt, oregano, and parmesan cheese, you get a flavor that very deliciously resembles pizza. And I’m totally okay with that.

Now, I most certainly could write a love letter to this yummy pizza popcorn recipe. But I’ll spare you the rambling, and get right to it!

Pizza Popcorn

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels
  • Salt to taste
  • Oregano, just a pinch or two
  • 3 or 4 TB grated parmesan cheese
  • Optional: a pinch of red pepper flakes for some heat

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil.
  2. Place 2 kernels in the pot and put the lid on. When you hear the kernels pop, you know the oil is hot and ready!
  3. Pour in the rest of the kernels, and place the lid on the pot.
  4. Stay nearby to listen for when the kernels stop popping.
  5. Once they stop popping, remove immediately from the heat so the popcorn doesn’t burn.
  6. Toss the popcorn with salt, oregano, and parmesan cheese. Serve!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! You can make this for yourself for an easy snack. It also makes for some great snacking at a party. Or, get your kids in the kitchen and make it together this summer! Meanwhile, I’ll be over here munching on this popcorn while watching some Gilmore Girls. โค๏ธ๐Ÿฟ

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Healthy (and Filling) Snacks


Is it just me, or do you come home from work and feel like you could eat a whole thanksgiving feast?! Something about the work day gets my stomach growling. In fact, I even get a little shaky when I’m hungry.

(Cue Mission Impossible theme song.) My eyes scan the fridge for something to take the edge off my hunger. Nothing quick and easy. Pantry? Nothing I can grab and go. Dilemma.

So began the quest of finding healthy snacks, that fill me up. I’ve settled on a few that just seem to work for me. Let’s get started!

1. Bananas

I’ve found that bananas do a really good job of filling me up. I’ve started eating one a day, right when I get home from work. High in potassium, bananas have plenty of health benefits too. (Good for your gut. Good for your skin. It’s a win-win!) These energy boosters have become my new favorite on-the-go snack!

2. Oatmeal

Okay, so we all know oatmeal makes a great breakfast. But, it’s literally become one of my favorite snacks. I’ll even have some after dinner for dessert! The key to making oatmeal more interesting and flavorful is topping it with fresh fruit, nuts, and a little brown sugar. Want to make it more protein-rich? Make it with milk instead of water. Oatmeal is also good for your gut health and for your heart too! โค๏ธ

3. Homemade Popcorn

Ahhhhh popcorn! It’s always been my little weakness. It gets a bad wrap, though. It’s considered junk food. But it’s time to set the record straight. Popcorn is not bad for you! It’s the grotesque amounts of butter they put on it that’s bad for you! Popcorn itself actually has fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, and other minerals. If you make popcorn at home on your stovetop, you can know exactly what goes into it. Get creative with different spices to give it tons of flavor WITHOUT the butter!

4. Carrots and Organic Ranch

Carrots are kind of a stereotypical healthy food, so we often just kind of forget about them. I like to call carrots “beauty food.” Glowing skin? Check. Cleanse the body? Check. Good for your eyes? Check. Deliciously sweet, I enjoy them plain. However, dipped in a little organic ranch, they make a tasty “no effort” snack.

5. Hummus

I was practically raised “in the kitchen.” Cooking has always been a big part of my life, so when it comes to hummus, I’m a little spoiled. I grew up eating homemade hummus. To this day, I still don’t like the store bought varieties. One of these days, ย I’ll have to share with you the recipe my Nonna and mom made growing up. Either way, hummus makes a delicious and filling snack. It’s high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants. If you buy it from the store, make sure to look for simple, real ingredients.

Well, there you have it! My go-to, quick, easy, healthy, filling, snacks! What are your favorite healthy snacks? Let me know in the comments below!


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Green Apple and Soy Sauce Recipe


“Just one. You have to eat one, Julia.” My parents spooned a brussel sprout on my plate.

8 year old me was the last one at the dinner table. I stared at the lonely brussel sprout on my plate. Oh the dilemma. Spinach I could spread around my plate to make it look like I finished. But that trick won’t work on a brussel sprout.

I sat there and slowly worked it down, for what felt like, 20 minutes. (It was probably only 5 or 10.)

This situation repeated itself through the years. Yet, my dislike for brussel sprouts never changed.

Then one day (recently) I tried roasted brussels sprouts. I’m not sure why roasting them makes them so much more appealing, but I’m not going to question it.

A few weeks ago, Billy and I were having dinner at Locale Market, here in St. Pete. As a side, Billy ordered roasted brussels sprouts with soy sauce and green apples. I tried them and was like, “Yes. Just yes.” They were absolutely delicious.

About a week later, the roasted brussel deliciousness was no longer available, as the market is constantly changing their menu. My mind was set on figuring out how to enjoy them at home.


I only recently started creating my own recipes. But by some miracle, I created this recipe on the first try. Crunchy and loaded with flavor, I am officially hooked.

When I purchased the bag of brussels sprouts from the grocery, I felt as though I am now officially doing this adulting thing. I mean, goodness me I’m buying brussels sprouts! Before we know it, I’ll be telling my kid to eat “just one.” Yikes! Time needs to slow down!

So there you have it. A story about a girl and a brussel sprout.

What makes this recipe extra special is the green apple! ๐Ÿย With a hint of sweetness, and a bunch of crunch, I hope this recipe works its way into your recipe box!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Green Apple and Soy Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 16 oz. bags of brussels sprouts
  • 1 green apple, diced with skin
  • 4 TB of low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of honey
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Rinse the brussels sprouts and cut off the brown stem. Remove any discolored leaves.
  3. Halve the brussels sprouts and lay them on a baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with pepper. (Do NOT salt them, because the soy sauce is salty.)
  5. Toss the brussels sprouts to evenly coat them.
  6. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, tossing them halfway through so they brown on all sides.
  7. While they are in the oven, heat a small skillet and add the soy sauce, apple, and honey. Allow apples to soften.
  8. When the brussels sprouts are done roasting, toss them with the cooked apples.

* If you are cooking for one or two, you can cut this recipe in half.

Let me know in the comments below how you liked it!

Happy cooking!

Roasted Parmesan Potato Recipe


Hectic schedules call for cooking shortcuts.

I totally get that. It is so easy to pop a bag of frozen waffle fries in the oven. In fact, that was one of my favorite sides to use when cooking cube steak or something like that. Because–easy.

But you know what? Roasting potatoes is also really easy. And it’s real food. No crazy ingredients. Not fried. And tons of flavor. There’s nothing wrong with cooking some frozen fries every now and then. But my new go-to is this recipe I created. I make these all the time now!

I could literally eat these potatoes like candy. Dipped in ketchup, they taste like fancy French fries that you can actually feel good about eating!

What makes these so special is the PARMESAN sprinkled on top. Oh man. I can’t get enough. You know me. Always gotta put an Italian spin on things. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The combination of the cheese with the spices creates an explosion of flavor. It’s like a big Italian-family get together for your taste buds. Hehe. Not to mention, the aroma that will escape your oven as these roast! You’ll have your whole family asking, “What’s for dinner?!”

Check out the recipe below and let me know what you think! This side compliments so many entrees. I’d love to see what you pair it with.

Happy cooking!

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 red potatoes, chopped (I leave the skin on.)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano or Italian spice blend
  • Garlic powder
  • 2 TBS Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

On a sheet pan, place the chopped red potatoes. Drizzle them with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and a little bit of garlic powder. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top. Using your hands, toss the potatoes to coat evenly. Cook for 25 to 35 minutes until brown and your desired crispiness.

Minestrone Recipe


In pre-school, we were asked what our favorite food was. Amidst the screams for “ice cream!” and “pizza!”, I yelled out “minestrone!” True story, my friends.

Needless to say, minestrone has been one of my favorite recipes for my entire life. My family is Italian, so this recipe means a lot to me. I remember when I first got married, I made minestrone for Billy. It was such a cool moment, because there I was–all grown up, married, and making minestrone for my hubby. How special.

There’s something precious about handing down a recipe from generation to generation. I can’t wait to teach my kids (Lord willing) how to make this one day, just like my mom taught me. (Hi, mom!)

Not only is this recipe sentimental, but it is fully LOADED with vegetables and flavor. This recipe yields such a large batch, you can enjoy it all week long and serve it with different sides. Billy and I love “minestrone week.” Billy loves having a hefty soup for dinner each night, and I love only having to cook once that week. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now, being the busy girl that I am, I have created a couple changes to make this soup a little faster to make. For example, instead of purchasing a half of cabbage, I buy a bag of spinach and add that. (No chopping, and super yummy.) I also like to buy the snack bags of celery sticks. (Already washed, ready for me to chop.)

So here is the infamous minestrone recipe (with my minor tweaks). I hope it works its way into your heart, like it has mine. โค๏ธ

Minestrone Recipe

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 glove of garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup of potatoes, chopped
  • A handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 15 oz. can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 TB of chicken bouillon
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cups of water
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

Sautรฉ onion and garlic in some olive oil. Add chopped veggies. Add frozen veggies. Season with salt and pepper. Sautรฉ for 5 minutes. Add sauce, water, bouillon, and beans. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add spinach. Serve over cooked rice or ditalini pasta. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread.

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