Save Money on Date Night!

How We Save Money on Date Night + Announcement

Hello, hello!

**This blog contains an announcement!**

How was everyone’s Valentine’s weekend? My beau said, “Wow. This Valentine’s is really gonna suck for the guys this year – Valentine’s…on a SATURDAY!?” Hahaha…Lucky him, I didn’t expect the typical V-Day hoopla type of gifts. I really just wanted to stay in away from the crowds, and if we had decided on going out, I would’ve preferred a chill swanky spot with calming Jazz tunes and craft cocktails. Yep, I’m what some would call, buje. Don’t hate! *smiles*

So what did we end up doing? Well, his date-day with his little one was unfortunately cancelled. A total bummer because he had a brand new outfit, and completely heart melting day planned just for them! I’m still a little bummed by the situation, but he is the best father to his little ones, and I know he’ll have forever years to make more memories. Despite the downer, we made the best of the day. All groceries including some big ticket items like, 1 lb. of de-veined large shrimp, 1 bottle of Tott’s Champagne, 2 single craft beers, 1 gallon of Simple Raspberry Lemonade, Mission Tortillas, queso, all produce needed to make it all marry together…all under $45! You tell me where else you can dine out and get four servings of shrimp enchiladas with sides and alcoholic beverages for less than that (in America)!

 Step 1! Gather groceries for a homemade dinner cooked, that my mans offered to whip up, while he goes on an afternoon run to enjoy the beautiful day.

Step 2! Kitchen and food prep for him, because he hates that part – Lol.

Step 3! Pour up some mimosas (for me) and beer (for him) while we cook and simply have good conversation and some jazz tunes on play.

Step 4! He decided on shrimp enchiladas, bacon wrapped jalapenos (stuffed with chive cream cheese), and baked beans for dinner…Once these items were ready to hit the oven, we hopped in the shower and freshened up before we sat down for dinner. Yes, we got right into our pajamas after a relaxed day of exercise and cooking, so we could chow down on the dinner we so rocked out in the kitchen making!

Step 5! After dinner and drinks (all of this delicious dinner ended up being 4 servings = leftovers!), it was time to  lay it down. After our eventful day, rest is certainly very much accepted.

Basically….Keep it simple! That’s just how we do things, and everything else seems to always fall into place the way it should.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I really enjoy my time with my best friend. I wouldn’t change any part of our journey together (except for wishing we had more time with the kids). It feels awkward and unnatural to say, “My boyfriend, fiance, husband” because…those words just don’t give what we are to each other justice. He’s a pretty spiritual guy, and he calls me his “Twin Flame” – I’m not quite sure exactly what that means in the spirit world, but I’m thinking it’s pretty good lol. He’s been a catalyst in getting me to write my heart out for the last couple of years, and I am finally getting the big picture! This blog started off as a way for me to document and share my travel and food experiences….Now, I’m just going to keep it REAL and be who I am, even more so than I already have been with you all. This means content not on just food and travel, but incorporating more of my life and beliefs, passions, and other things that I really enjoy doing like my freelance writing career, books I read and love, movies/shows that I’m a fan of, shopping hauls, and more!would LOVE to share with anyone interested! I’m going to commit to creating my own YouTube Channel as well. I want to connect with my heart and soul to others with like passions and interests – What better way to accomplish everything than to just dive right into it?! No more being reserved, and shy about my LIFE! If you have a question, please….just ask me. I won’t bite.

If you have not yet, and you like my blogBookmark me, follow me on Instagram for my latest photos, and if ya prefer Facebook…I’m on there too! Handle: @Breatheeatlive

 

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Today was also just a regular day for us, and happened to land on one of my days off of work. The house was absolutely overdue for a cleaning. We love books (him especially), and we’ve been trying to find space to display our collection. No bookends on hand, so I cleared his paint table, and just stacked the books on hand to create a makeshift bookend situation! Cleaned up to be a pretty beautiful display of knowledge I’d say! What do you guys think? This was also my “little” Valentine’s Gift from me to him.

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Mmmmm! I love mimosas! Having fun does not have to be “expensive”!

 

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What a fantastic finished meal! Messy presentation, but totally deeee-lish! Thank you baby for cooking!! P.S. – I prepared the bacon wrapped jalapenos =)

 

Cheers! Be happy with a wealthy attitude. <3 XO

Cheers! Be happy with a wealthy attitude. <3 XO

Unboxing of decadent chocolates

Valentine’s Special: A Peek at Millcreek Cacao Roasters Chocolates

Unboxing of decadent chocolates

Woo-Wee! I have been M.I.A my loves, and I sincerely apologize for my lack of words. I’m excited about a LOT of things, so please excuse any excess use of exclamation points or incorrect usage of bold and italics! 

First thing’s first – Thank you Dana, of Millcreek Cacao Roasters for sending a generous gift of truly decadent The Cube Collection box of chocolates and your aromatic Pure Cacao Tea.

 I am one of those chocolate lovers who…have to have at least a bar of chocolate a day. I must admit, my usual back in the day was to reach for a $0.50 bar of Twix or Hersheys because it was just what I grew up with. Until a few years ago, I hadn’t tasted REAL chocolate. Chocolate that wasn’t doused with sugar to mask or recreate the flavor of what it actually is.

Good news – I’m going to keep this very sweet and simple, because Millcreek Cacao Roaster’s chocolate made from 70% pure cacao, is just that. You’ll even notice the simplicity in the absolutely beautiful assembled boxes the individual bars come in. My initial thought, as a lover of all foods, was to find out ways to incorporate Millcreek Cacao Roaster’s decadence into a recipe or pairing with other foods…nothing came to mind. It seemed only right to appreciate the food for exactly what it is, and nothing more. I was enticed by the simple yet classic packaging of their product, that I just wanted to carefully dive in and see what they were all about (You’ll see the un-boxing photos below). Entranced, I continued unfolding each layer of the package and by the time I got to the gold foil wrapping, I just wanted to try the chocolate out already – And I did! I was floored by how instantly the flavors spread across my palette so smoothly. I could taste all of the layers, most forthcoming, the sweet roasted flavor of the cacao beans – Excellent.

I’ve eaten practically all of these intensely, rich flavored chocolate bars within a few days of having them. When I decide to order another box, I will be reaching for the Orange Peel, Organic Tart Cherry, and (his choice) Ginger chocolate bars. I can’t wait!

3 Ways I Enjoyed Millcreek Cacao Roaster’s Chocolates

 

  • In a hot bubble bath that my love prepared for me, paired with a glass of wine and a book to read…mmm…It…was…so…perfect! (Thanks boo!)
  • Melted a few pieces of the Dark Luscious Raspberry bar into his cup of morning coffee – He loved. (Or just brew some of the cacao tea to enjoy)
  • Perfect for that sugar craving curve that comes, right around crash time in the office – It kept me alert and made me happy because I LOVE chocolate. You don’t need much of it to be satisfied, plus you get to open up each pretty little box any time you want a bite.

 

Before you view my foodporn, what are your plans for Valentine’s this year? We might try for an evening at the movies, or just crashing out in our own very comfortable home, with some brews, good eats, and each other’s company – It never fails, and we’re definitely S.O.L for any good dining reservations in the city. I’m lucky to have found love with my best friend, so any time we spend together will be perfect- Sappy stuff done. Thank you for taking your time to read my most recent post, and I certainly look forward to welcoming you back for more!

 

As Millcreek Cacao Roasters would say…the best way to enjoy their chocolate is to “Unwrap, taste, and enjoy the experience.”

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If you have any questions for me, please leave me a comment below!!

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Best Sandwich in Austin, Found at Noble Sandwich Co. 620

Noble Sandwich Co. on 620 in Austin, Texas is a must try for those who enjoy wholesome foods, and a darn good sandwich. I’ve always heard of the place, but never stopped by until the Official SXSW Food Crawl of 2014 (it was on the list). I’m glad I made the decision to stop by this charming and at the time, bustling sandwich shop. The 620 location stays open until 5pm, offering breakfast and lunch sandwiches, along with simple sides and a spectacular bread pudding. They’re ingredients are high-quality with some local sustainable items, which makes a great recipe for some feel good eats. A quote from their site gives patrons the ideal situation they’ve got going:

“Make it, and make it better than the guy down the street.” – Noble Sandwich Co.

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Check out that ooey-gooey-ness of the over-easy fried egg I added to the original ‘PBLT’ sandwich…I love a good fried egg. I thoroughly enjoyed this sandwich with a generous offering of smoked pork belly (PB), romaine lettuce (L), and roasted tomato & garlic mayo (T). Make your sammich messy with an over-easy egg. I was full about halfway through, so I had some help from the man.

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My man got the ‘Duck Pastrami’ sandwich which he enjoyed as well, however I didn’t snap a good photo of it….so…you can feast your eyes on him at our table of Noble’s outdoor seating.

Noble Pig breadpudding

For dessert, I believe this was seasonal, a chocolate or turtle bread pudding topped with hot caramel. Yes, I did mention that I was full half way through my meal, but it was the Official SXSW Food Crawl! – I had to try just one more thing, and it was totally worth it, ya’ll.

Mission accomplished Noble Sandwich Co., my belly was happy, I’d recommend your shop to others, and I’ll be back to conquer more of the menu.

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Naughty or Nice Foodie, This Year?

Have you been a naughty or nice foodie this year? I’ve been a little of both, and you’re going to see what I mean in this post! To catch you up, I had chosen to make better decisions with my food choices – More vegetables, less meat, organic when possible, water instead of sugar saturated beverages, you name it! I’ve dipped back into my cauldron of naughty eating and have actually learned to not feel so bad about it. Keep reading!

Naughty List:

1.

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2.

20141127_174011Okay, so these first two items are on my naughty list because one – I chose not to cook a magnificent feast with the traditional oven-baked Turkey, stuffing + mashed potatoes + casserole from scratch for Thanksgiving. Instead, I suggested that for myself and my fiancé that maybe we could just live without the cleaning, and over-time in the kitchen for a feast for just two, maybe we could just get a few bottles of wine and indulge just a little bit. A feast is for lots of guests, and it was just us this year. And two, there was a LOT of butter involved for the sauce on the rotisserie chicken and of course, bacon! Bacon wrapped Jalapeños that is. OM NOM NOM! I can say, that both of these rather rich dishes are superbly rich when you don’t necessarily eat them everyday, makes the Holidays that much more joyful.

3.

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Last on the naughty list? A whole box of cupcakes?! Just kidding…although this would have been nice, these are actually surprisingly very realistic replicas of cupcakes, to be used as Christmas ornaments. I took one look and thought that this would be the absolute perfect gift for a foodie, pastry chef, or sweet tooth lover. I didn’t grab them myself, but you can always stop by Terra Toys off Burnet and see if they’ve got any left!

Nice List

1.

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Do you know how aromatic and convenient it is to steam food in banana leaves? Let me tell you, it brings a kind of sweet, airy, and richness to whatever you decide to wrap inside of the leaf, and after you’re finished eating, just pick up the leaf and toss it into your compost or dare I say…the trash *naughty finger wave*. What you see in the photo are sautéed ginger, green onion, onion, and garlic atop tilapia with sides of steamed rice. Add a little black pepper and oyster sauce to the sautéed mix and you are golden. My mouth is watering at this very moment, craving this dish again! Now, I’m not sure what other places you can grab banana leaves, but I got mine from our local My Thanh Asian grocery store.

2.

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This year’s holiday season hasn’t really felt all too much like one for me, and it probably has nothing to do with anyone else…but me. That’s okay though, I’ll get to that later. I can say that I’ve felt incredibly blessed at moments with the gift of giving this year. Little things like a card, edible treats, and especially edibles that I love to have in my kitchen! One of my co-workers brought up two gift baskets from his husband’s work, and I’ll tell ya the others and I tore those baskets up! Who doesn’t love GOYA products? I’ve already cracked open the cans of Mango nectar, Adobo seasoning, and black beans.

3.

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Ah, the comfort of home cooking of your culture. What is that odd combination you see? It is trei ngeat, white rice, topped with a sunny side up egg. Trei Ngeat is a Cambodian food staple, of the motherland and here. Oh, don’t mind my glass of red wine to the side. It’s crazy to me how I was not born in Cambodia (my parents were), but I feel this unexplainable connection to the foods and traditional recipes from there that I didn’t even like as a kid. I am embracing this mmm…peculiar rush of fond emotion that keeps surprising me – Like I have roots in a place I have never been.

Okay, so back to the real story. I don’t always write about food. I don’t always write about traveling. I write about how all of these things that I love, make me feel, and those things will branch off into…who knows? Something else that I can write about. This year has been a journey of change for me, as every other living second that I’ve spent on Earth. I’d like to say that I’m always ecstatic and passionate just to be living, but there are many times where I look at the glass as half empty, rather than half full. It’s been a little difficult to bring myself to write just as me, not as someone who wants to “sound good” for my audience. I am sharing with you all how my ever growing connection with food, cooking, traveling…amongst other loves of my life marry together, and make me who I am everyday. I’m still piecing everything together myself, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed my stories and come back for more. Happy Holidays & Happy Eating!

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P.S. Couldn’t leave you all without a little guilty pleasure to top off my naughty list, this year. *wink*

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Red Banana and Apple Smoothie Recipe for the Fall

Just in time for Fall! Well…in Austin, Texas we’ve finally been blessed with amazing Fall weather over Halloween weekend.  It’s crisp, cool, and most of the time sunny. It is definitely my favorite time of year for cooking and developing new recipes, as I usually cocoon myself into the house with all of the doors and windows open to feel the amazing weather. That being said, I want to share my fun Fall smoothie recipe with you all for Williams-Sonoma’s  “Not Your Average Smoothie” of the week

Have you ever had a red banana before? I know that I typically reach for the yellow bananas, but this week, I wanted to merry up my fruit and vegetable variety at home. Lucky me! The stars of my smoothie recipe will be very ripe, red bananas and crisp Fuji apples – both bought from Whole Foods organic produce.

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One major difference I noticed between the red bananas vs. yellow, were that the red bananas appeared more golden yellow after being peeled of course, and also tasted more dense and less sweet. Make sure that the bananas are very ripe, rather soft to touch and that the peel is almost all the way black – Don’t be alarmed, once peeled you’ll see that they are perfectly soft and semi-sweet on the inside. The Fuji apples should also be ripe for a sweeter taste.

Are you ready for a twist? Get a small saute pan and warm some butter on a low heat. Throw in your apple and banana slices and simmer for about 3 minutes. Before you turn the heat off, add sprinkles of cinnamon and drizzle some honey to the mix…it will smell absolutely divine! The caramelized effect of the apples and bananas sauteed with butter and honey  fill your home with Fall aromas and give a bit of an edge to the flavor.

Here’s a way to boost up your Fall smoothie – Add your greens. There’s already a sweet factor in the smoothie with the caramelized apples and bananas, the greens will just add a nice little boost to your nutrition for the day. I usually incorporate a few leaves of Lacinato kale and spinach to my smoothies. Pour in some vanilla sweetened almond milk and ice cubes, and you’re all ready to blend!

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I made this smoothie for my fiance and I this morning, and he gulped it down in no time! If you want to have this smoothie as a dessert, just leave out the ice and greens for a thicker consistency and the perfect mix of sugar and spice.

I hope you enjoyed the recipe! My list of ingredients are below. I used my Black and Decker blender  as a temporary replacement, but you can try out any of Williams-Sonoma’s selection of blenders for your smoothie recipes! Leave me a comment and let me know what you would consider your “Not Your Average Smoothie”!

Food Things You’ll Need:

  1. Ripe red bananas (2-3)
  2. Fuji apple (1/2 of  a big one or 1 whole small one)
  3. Lacinato Kale (2-3 leaves)
  4. Spinach (1/2 cup, or close to a handful with stems on)
  5. Vanilla sweetened almond milk (1/3 cup)
  6. Honey (4-5 tablespoons)
  7. Cinnamon (ground, 2 teaspoons)
  8. Butter (unsalted, 1 tablespoon)
  9. Ice cubes (1/2 cup)

Love,

Elaine

 

Saving my best for last - I've always loved cooking, and have always wanted my food testers to look at the plate and say, "Wow, how did she do this?". I have never been to Culinary school, and am doing my best with what knowledge I've acquired through my years. Underneath the sunny-side up egg are: rings of onions, tomato slices, avocado slices, all lightly breaded with my seasoned flour mix and deep fried. There are a side of plain deep fried fingerling potatoes as well. The plum slices and basil leaf are deep fried as well, just for a flash. To balance out the dish, I smeared a dollop of my fiancé's pureed black bean and sour cream mix to the side. It was so pretty to look at, and he enjoyed the meal...makes me a happy lady! And proud!

Fall Cooking at Home

Hi Everyone!

Thank you for being patient with me. It has been a long while since I’ve last written a post for you all. I’m smitten that Fall has arrived, and graced Austin, with sunshine that feels as if it were gently kissing your skin. I’ve been loving the weather so much, that I have been inspired to cook up a whole mess of meals in the kitchen. I already love to cook, but I feel like that Pre-Christmas jolly atmosphere has fully embraced me. When I think of Fall, I think of cashmere sweaters, cinnamon in everything, even aroma therapy, earthy tones in fashion and decor, and smiling faces because it’s no longer ninety-degrees out. My favorite past time of the Fall season is catching Halloween specials on television like Hocus Pocus and buying tons of candy to mainly hand out to the kids, while stealing some for myself. What I plan for this year is to work my butt off, and reap the benefits by going on a shopping spree on some delectable foods and quite possibly an evening hiring a personal chef for dinner. Boy, how times have changed. I’m kind of liking this grown-up thing a little bit more. Who knows, maybe next Fall I’ll be vacationing in a place that is already blanketed in snow or on a beach sipping mai-tais – Either way, I’d be delighted.

Other than food and cooking, I haven’t really been up to much aside from working at work (and at home) – Boring, I know. I promise there will be more exciting things to read about in the future, like travel stories, restaurant outings, and more. Oh! I am part of a few other writing/foodie platforms aside from Austin Food Bloggers’ Alliance, things that I researched and joined over the past few weeks. Run on over and check them out when you’ve got a minute: Localeur, TripTease, Instagram (for my daily happenings). If you’ve got any other ideas as to where I should join, please do let me know!

coffecreamoatmeal

Instant plain oatmeal cooked with mainly sweetened vanilla almond milk, dash of honey, and a swig of flavored coffee creamer – Wow! You could basically customize how you’d like your oatmeal to taste, with the same cook time as those pre-packaged packets. Try all of those new seasonal coffee cream flavors in your oatmeal! I added a LOT of cinnamon, just because it’s Fall.

sourdough bruschetta

Quite honestly, I’m not quite sure what bruschetta consists of aside from tomato + spice + herbs + bread. Here’s my version! A Slice of sourdough toast topped with a pan sautéed tomato + onion + honey + salt + pepper mix, and some goat cheese chunks. I also topped this with an over-easy egg, cause nothing is better on sourdough than an over-easy egg. It…was…delicious! Perfect for a cool Fall afternoon.

 

We don't eat meat all that often, but when we do it is still in moderation. We spent about $4 on all of these yummy drummettes from Whole Foods. Cranked up the oven heat to 350, and soaked these wings with Whole Foods' Korean BBQ Sauce, melted butter, soy sauce, and our ginger & lemongrass blended herb mix. Very rich flavors, and would go perfectly with some plain white rice or lightly sautéed zucchini or yellow squash.

We don’t eat meat all that often, but when we do it is still in moderation. We spent about $4 on all of these yummy drummettes from Whole Foods. Cranked up the oven heat to 350, and soaked these wings with Whole Foods’ Korean BBQ Sauce, melted butter, soy sauce, and our ginger & lemongrass blended herb mix. Very rich flavors, and would go perfectly with some plain white rice or lightly sautéed zucchini or yellow squash.

Saving my best for last - I've always loved cooking, and have always wanted my food testers to look at the plate and say, "Wow, how did she do this?". I have never been to Culinary school, and am doing my best with what knowledge I've acquired through my years. Underneath the sunny-side up egg are: rings of onions, tomato slices, avocado slices, all lightly breaded with my seasoned flour mix and deep fried. There are a side of plain deep fried fingerling potatoes as well. The plum slices and basil leaf are deep fried as well, just for a flash. To balance out the dish, I smeared a dollop of my fiancé's pureed black bean and sour cream mix to the side. It was so pretty to look at, and he enjoyed the meal...makes me a happy lady! And proud!

Saving my best for last – I’ve always loved cooking, and have always wanted my food testers to look at the plate and say, “Wow, how did she do this?”. I have never been to Culinary school, and am doing my best with what knowledge I’ve acquired through my years. Underneath the sunny-side up egg are: rings of onions, tomato slices, avocado slices, all lightly breaded with my seasoned flour mix and deep fried. There are a side of plain deep fried fingerling potatoes as well. The plum slices and basil leaf are deep fried as well, just for a flash. To balance out the dish, I smeared a dollop of my fiancé’s pureed black bean and sour cream mix to the side. It was so pretty to look at, and he enjoyed the meal…makes me a happy lady! And proud! One thing I can agree to, we Texans love our deep fried foods! Perfect for a day sitting on the porch and chowing down on this richly flavored Fall dish.

 

All of these ingredients used can be found at my favorite grocery shops: Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Trader Joes.

Cheers to your Fall season this year. Cuddle up with your loved ones by the fireplace, drink some hot cider, and appreciate all of the yummy foods you’ll be indulging in for the remainder of the year. Thank you for stopping by, welcome if you are  new, and hello again if you are returning. I appreciate every single one of you taking your time to read on. Hope you enjoyed some of my newly invented, favorite Fall cooking dishes, and that you are inspired to share this post with anyone who needs a little reading break or inspiration for their Fall cooking experiments!

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Sprout’s Farmers Market Sunday Brunch

You’re hungry and you’ve got scallops, eggs, butter, and some herbs in your fridge. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find a divine combination of these and create something delectable. Not an acclaimed chef of any sort to anyone besides those that have lived with me, this simple brunch dish is something I am rather proud of. Spruce up your Sunday brunch with this easy, and inexpensive dish!

While it’s not a top priority for you to buy groceries from Sprout’s Farmers Market, it’s one of my favorite places to buy fresh produce and basic pantry items. Here’s what you will need for 2 servings:

  • Sprout’s farm fresh eggs (4)
  • Sprout’s tomatoes on the vine (1)
  • Sprout’s sweet onion (1/2)
  • Sprout’s garlic (4 cloves)
  • Sprout’s unsalted butter (3 tblsps.)
  • Sprout’s vanilla almond milk (4 tblsps.)
  • Sprout’s Coconut oil (1 tbsp.)
  • Sprout’s bay scallops (1 lb.)
  • Fresh basil leaves from my herb garden (3-4)
  • Fresh parsley sprigs from my herb garden (2-3)
  • Fresh chives from my herb garden (1 stalk)
  • Ground salt and pepper
  • Honey
  1. Clean and dry vegetables and herbs. Dice tomato, onion, and basil. Dice chives and mince parsley and set aside for garnishing. Mince garlic cloves and begin to heat saute pan with coconut oil on low. Leave bay scallops on a plate with a paper towel underneath them to soak up excess moisture.
  2. Crack open and whisk four eggs with the vanilla almond milk.
  3. Add in diced sweet onion and saute for 30 seconds to hot saute pan. Add diced tomato and basil, simmer for 10-15 seconds.
  4. Turn heat to medium and add whisked egg mix. You can cook the eggs and vegetables as a scramble or an omelette. Once the eggs are done, plate them.
  5. Using the same pan (if clean), turn heat to medium low and add in butter, drizzle of honey, and minced garlic. Add bay scallops and saute for 1 minute. Add ground salt/black pepper to your taste.
  6. Pour the scallops and butter sauce that the juice from the scallops, honey, and butter that have magically bonded together, over the egg scramble/omelet. Sprinkle minced parsley and chives over your dish for garnish and fresh flavor with each bite.

Brunch, is served! Get ready for Sunday NFL football madness by munching on this dish before your festivities!

If you liked this recipe, comment and share it with your family and friends below!