Friday Faves!

Oh, hello beloved Friday, how I’ve missed you! Time to pour some wine, stay up late and sleep in on the weekend. Just kidding, what’s sleeping in? I will however pop open some wine and soak up the last bits of summer once bedtime rolls around for the babe.

I was inspired by my girlfriend and fellow blogger Rachel from petals and quill to start a Friday Favorites post. I have about a million things at any given time that I obsess over so I figured I will share my current favorites each week! There’s no rhyme or reason to my list, just whatever my favorite products are at the time!

Alexa (AKA Amazon Echo)

This robot/machine/speaker/angel makes me realize how lazy I am as a human. I was against the purchasing of Alexa at first, but now that I have her I don’t want to go through life without her. Sure, everything she does I could do on my cellphone. But it’s different. Being able to ask Alexa to play an exact song, turn up or down the volume, make me shopping lists, tell me jokes, (the list goes on people) makes me happy. Not to mention you just say her name, you don’t need to type anything in (because that is so hard). Forget about the world at your fingertips, Alexa is the world. Again, I am 100% admitting how lazy this sounds, and how lazy I am.

You can buy the Amazon Echo here.

Amazon Echo

Little Poppy Bows

I LOVE a good bow for Sophie. These are a monthly subscription that are sent directly to your house, you get 3 bows for $11.99/month. They have the sweetest patterns and they are appropriate for each season. Sophie has fine whispy hair, so it’s hard for me to keep bows in without her ripping them out, these bows have a little rubber/plastic guard on the clasp so it actually stays in her hair and she doesn’t try to rip it out. You can subscribe to Little Poppy Bows Here.

August little poppy bow
Sophie in one of her bows
little poppy bows
August bows


I am now two weeks in to HelloFresh. I cannot put into words how much I love this service. I recently did a blog post about my first box, you can check it out here if you have been debating ordering. Having to not meal plan, or shop for specific healthy dinners has made my week so much less stressful. I still go to the grocery store and pick out a few staple items but this has saved my family money, time and there is never any waste at the end of the week. Click here for $40 off your first box

HelloFresh Box

Batiste Dry Shampoo

My hair gets so greasy you could fry a chicken in it on a hot summer’s day. That’s disgusting, and false, but… it might actually work. I have been going through a really hard time with hair loss lately, and the more hair I lose the greasier it gets. I used to be able to go 3-4 days without washing it, but now on day two I look like I’m fresh out of the shower (but it’s not water). I’ve tried a million different dry shampoos, but one of my absolute favorites is Batiste. It doesn’t make your hair feel gross and dirty, it’s so light and my hair always looks better day 2 after I’ve used this. Get your dry shampoo here.


Nordstrom Split Neck Roll Sleeve Tunic (in white)

I was looking for a shirt I could wear casually with some jeans and converse, but I wanted to be able to dress it up and throw on some booties too. This shirt is super flattering for hiding that mommy-tummy and it’s comfortable and light. I bought mine from Banana Republic a few weeks ago but I’m not seeing it on their site anymore. I found one almost identical from Nordstrom, and they have it in several different colors and sizes. Click here for Nordstrom Tunic

Banana tunic

I feel like these favorites should come in a new mom/my-toddler-is-crazy-and-I-don’t-have-time-to-do-anything gift basket. I might be onto something…if I figure that something out I’ll let you know. Until then, enjoy the weekend and pass the wine!


Hello, HelloFresh!


Life has been crazy these last few weeks. I have been in and out of Doctor’s offices trying to figure out what the heck is going on with my life. (I have been losing a lot of hair and having awful back pain). Super long story short I have an autoimmune thyroid disease (essentially an underactive thyroid), a large nodule on my thyroid that will need to be removed if medicine doesn’t shrink it, and I need my gallbladder taken out next week. I guess you could say we got to the bottom of my extreme hair loss and back pain. Anyways, I have been feeling so lazy that I didn’t want to think about meal planning. Typically I make 3 separate dinners (I know, I know–that’s crazy). I make my daughter an early dinner because she can’t wait until 6:00 when my husband gets home from work to eat. I am a vegetarian, and my husband is not. I typically will make the same sides for everyone, I just make a different meatless option for myself. One of my girlfriends tried HelloFresh and loved it, so I decided it was time to give it a try. She had a coupon code that gave me $40 off my first week of meals. It was valued at $60 for the 2 person plan (3 meals each). After the coupon code it made the classic option cost only $19. This was cheaper than going to any grocery store and having a delicious healthy meal. They have a vegetarian box option but I feel like you get the most bang for your buck with the classic option. I just substituted a vegetable as my meat for each dinner. Doing this also allowed Sean to have an extra protein for 2-3 nights since I don’t eat it. Let me tell you, EVERYTHING was delicious! Sean and I said we would do it once or twice a month, but after our first week I’m pretty sure we will be ordering every week. The convenience of getting the food delivered is enough reason for me to order, but we waste so much food and this helps with not having ANY waste! I haven’t thrown out anything in my fridge in over two weeks! That’s a big deal for us, guys.

HelloFresh in the fridge
Excuse my fridge that needed to be desperately cleaned out before I took this photo.

In our first box this is what we received: Cherry-Drizzled Pork Chops, Southwestern Steak Tacos, and Cheese-Filled Mediterranean Tacos.

HelloFresh Pork Chops

Let’s begin with night one- the pork chops. We (clearly) love tacos so we wanted to save the best for last. We were so wrong, these were ahhhmazing. I was worried that the cherry pan sauce was going to be too sweet but it wasn’t at all! In fact, I wanted more. It was so good and complimented the lemony couscous perfectly. I substituted a cauliflower steak for the pork chop (roasted for 30 minutes at 400 degrees with EVOO salt and pepper). I also substituted mushroom broth for the chicken broth. We will be making this again, my husband said it would be good on chicken too, so we might switch things around. The portion of couscous was huge, we had an entire serving left over which was even more delicious the next day.

HelloFresh Cherry Drizzled Pork Chops

Cherry Drizzled Pork Chops
Cherry Drizzled Pork Chops
Cherry Drizzled Cauliflower
Cherry Drizzled Cauliflower

Night two- Southwestern Steak Tacos with avocado and kiwi salsa. Nothing pulls on my heartstrings like a fancy taco. My husband isn’t huge into food, if you put something in front of him he’ll eat it. If you spend all day making him something in the kitchen, don’t expect him to notice- in fact a good ol bowl of ramen noodles will get the same reaction as something I could be making all day. However, I’m pretty sure he wept when he took a bite of these tacos. He looked at me and said “I want to see you take a bite because you’re probably going to say MMMMM while you’re eating.” He wasn’t wrong. I “MMMM’d” through my entire taco and I have no regrets. I substituted a portobello mushroom for the steak in this meal. I made the mushroom the exact same way the recipe said to make the steak. The salsa was creamy and had a touch of sweetness from the kiwi, everything was SO good!

HelloFresh Southwestern Steak Tacos

Southwestern Steak Tacos with avocado and kiwi salsa
Southwestern Steak Tacos
Portobello mushroom tacos with avocado and kiwi salsa
Southwestern Portobello Tacos

Night three- We saved the Mediterranean Tacos for the last night since they were meatless. I was most excited about this meal since I didn’t have to do any substitutions. Aside from tacos, cheese holds a special place in my heart. I can always count on it for a good snack or to enhance my sandwiches. When I saw cheese tacos on the menu I knew the good lord himself created this dish for me. The cheese was Mediterranean grilling cheese. I have bought Halloumi cheese in the past and grilled it. It was delicious on the grill, but this recipe called for cooking it in the pan. I died and went to heaven. The cheese got so crispy on the outside and was warm and chewy on the inside. It almost tasted like a super fancy mozzarella stick even though there was no breading or frying involved. The chili-honey oil would have been delicious on it but I pretty much made mine inedible. The recipe comes with a pack of red chili flakes and you are supposed to heat them in a drizzle of olive oil then mix in the honey. I missed the part where it said add the chili flakes to taste, so I poured them all in. I couldn’t drizzle the mixture over the taco without getting 85,000 chili flakes per bite. I managed to scrape a little on each taco so I could get the spicy/sweet combo. Regardless, these were delicious! For me, they were the most filling. It was hard to put all three tacos down the hatch, but don’t worry I managed.

HelloFresh Mediterranean Cheese Tacos

Mediterranean Cheese Tacos
Mediterranean Cheese Tacos

My husband voted the steak tacos to be his favorite, and said it was a close call between the pork chops and cheese tacos, but the pork chops came in second place. For me, choosing my favorite is like picking which dog is my favorite. I think I know, but I’m not confident enough to say it out loud. I will say that I would remake everything again and aside from the honey oil, not change a thing. I would definitely encourage everyone to at least try HelloFresh out! I was so excited to try it, but I didn’t realize how much I’d actually love it. If you have never tried it before, you can use my referral code JESSIDONNE or click the link below so it automatically discounts you at check out. Look at all the menus and decide which is best for you and your family. If you don’t see anything you like, you can skip through the weeks to see what is coming up.


Click here to order your first box!

Let me know what your favorite HelloFresh meals have been! I am so excited for Monday so I can get my next box!

PS- Who are these parents with the cute kids that are so happy to be sitting in boxes? Sophie acted like I was ready to ship her to the factory. Maybe they were tears of joy? Maybe she was just mad that it looks like she needs to go get a shave from all the black beans she shoved in her face? We’ll never know.

Sad Sophie
Sophie is so happy about HelloFresh she is crying.


*Note- I am not endorsed or sponsored by HelloFresh in any type of way, I just love their product.*

Ricotta and Lemon Zest Bruschetta with Basil and Honey

Is it just me or does the summer make you want to eat and drink more than usual? I swear, every sunny day I just want to sit outside with a glass of wine and a delicious snack. Truthfully, any type of weather makes me want to eat and drink, I just come up with excuses to make myself feel better. However, there is something so relaxing about sitting outside with music, wine and appetizers in the summer.

Screened patio

My brother and sister-in-law happened to be the lucky winners to join me for dinner on a day where I was feeling a little adventurous to try something new. I was Pinteresting all morning during my daughter’s nap time and decided I wanted to make something light and fresh. Something that was a bit of an indulgence, but not too bad for me since I’m not trying to wear a full body suit into the water this year. (I try to cut out most carbs and dairy during the week so I can make myself feel better about my poor choices on the weekend.) So while Pinteresting, bruschetta kept popping up and it looked SO good. I haven’t had bruschetta in forever, possibly even before Sophie was born. Well, the weather was perfect here in Maryland (again with excuses) so I said, meh, I better treat myself. My husband and brother weren’t coming until later in the evening so I decided I needed something I could make ahead of time that would last for a few hours without getting soggy. There was a recipe for bruschetta with blackberries, ricotta and honey that looked AMAZING, but I didn’t have blackberries so I improvised. I figured what’s more refreshing than lemon and basil? Nothing, that’s what. So I played it by ear and I’m happy I did! First of all, it’s hard to top grilled crusty bread, but when you add a cheese to the mix…game over.

ricotta lemon basil bruschetta with honey drizzle

These little bites were so tasty and incredibly simple to make. The ricotta was super light and the lemon gave it a clean and fresh taste. I love a little spice, so I added a pinch of cayenne to the ricotta mixture to kick it up a notch. I topped them with fresh basil and a drizzle of local honey just to make them a bit more heavenly. The bruschetta held up really well for a few hours while my sister-in-law and I waited for our husbands to get to my house (although it was hard for us not to scarf them all down within seconds.) I’m still learning self-control. I’m the type of person that gets anxiety when someone leaves one bite on their plate. If you do this, I’m not sure we can be friends.

ricotta lemon basil bruchetta 2

The bruschetta was a hit! My first bite I wasn’t sure what to expect because I don’t love ricotta on its own, but they were so good! They are exactly what I want to snack on while sitting on the patio with a glass of wine. This is my new go-to recipe for dinner parties or get-togethers this summer. I still want to try it with fresh fruit mixed in, so I’ll post an update when I give it a shot! They are so versatile, you could really add anything to the ricotta mixture and it would be great! (If you don’t like ricotta you could probably use whipped cream cheese for a similar flavor!) I’m telling you, you’ve got to try them!

Ricotta lemon basil bruschetta

Ricotta and Lemon Zest Bruschetta with Fresh Basil and Honey

  • Baguette
  • 1.5 Cups of Ricotta (I used part-skim, but I’m sure whole would be even better)
  • One Lemon – Zested
  • Fresh Basil
  • Honey
  • Ground Cayenne Pepper (Just a shake or two, depending on how much heat you like)
  • Pinch of Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil (For brushing on the bread before grilling)


Use a mixing bowl to combine the ricotta, lemon zest, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir until combined. Preheat your grill to about 450 degrees or until the grates are very hot. While the grill is preheating slice your baguette into 1-1.5 inch pieces. Brush both sides with olive oil and place them on the hot grill. Grill for about 2-3 minutes per side. You want nice grill marks but don’t cook the bread too long that it becomes a crouton. Transfer the pieces to a platter and spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture on each piece. Top with freshly torn basil leaves and a light drizzle of honey.