Now Blogging at

Hello friends!

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have shared this journey of A Byte of Life with you! Each comment and share has brought me immense joy and I’m honored that you’ve enjoyed the posts!

After years of cultivating this blog and posting recipes here, I’ve decided to shift my time and focus to a new blog. The new blog will include recipes but has a broader focus on what it means to live life on purpose. I’ll be posting my favorite tools, thoughts and inspirations that I’ve collected in my own journey to help you define and achieve purpose in life From recipes, wellness and lifestyle to time management, processes and routines, each post can help you ask the questions to define what’s most important to you and tools to help you live your life on your terms.

Some of the recipes here made it to the new blog, and if there’s a post you’d like to see or a favorite recipe you’d like me to include on the new blog leave me a comment!

Thank you again for all our support and I hope that you’ll join me over at the new blog: | Life on Purpose!

With love and gratitude,

Book Review: The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith

If you have not done much reading on positive psych, and don’t like science, then this is a very approachable and reliable source to get started with.
First, if you are even thinking about reading a book like this one to learn more about this idea of  “Meaning” you’re starting on an amazing path of self and societal exploration and I encourage you to read any and all of the literature on this topic that you can possibly stomach!
Second, if you want a more story based approachable easy read on the topic versus a more direct scientific type of tone to Mindfulness this could be a good place to start. If you prefer the more direct, scientific type writing I’d skip this one.
For my personal opinion of the book- I really wanted to love this book… but I prefer books that are a bit more “to the point”. The author is great at telling stories but I was hoping for more direct, actionable rhetoric. There are great citations to others work on the topic of “Meaning” which I liked and even looked up a few people she quoted, and there were some well phrased nuggets of information but it was just a more drawn out and story based than I personally like.
Overall, if you have read a reasonable amount of reading/research on this topic, there admittedly won’t be any ground breaking discoveries here. The theme of searching for and discovering meaning (through belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence as outlined in this book) is thoroughly covered in other books that you’ve likely already read or are have been recommended to your reading list.
That being said- the topic of meaning is an important one and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a story based approach to exposing themselves to the idea of creating a live the matters.

When a carry on just doesn’t do the job…


Thanks to the great folks over at American Luggage who are sponsoring this post!

How many of you have waited until the night before (or, ahem morning of) a flight to throw things into a bag and hope that you’re a good “flinger” and that something you flung into the suitcase comes out as an outfit and looks halfway presentable. Now, typically I’m a very Type A, planned out, checklist oriented and organized person. But, for some unknown reasons… this time was different. We all get a pass from time to time, right?

An alternate title for this blog post could be “and, how large does that suitcase come?” I used to travel for work, a LOT. Like, a lot. I had my “go bag” down. Mostly black (so it all matches) with a few neutrals throw in to break it up, one pair of heels, two pairs of flats, a bag of every beauty item I need in travel size, workout clothes, all tightly packed into a carry on with a fully loaded laptop bag (come to think of it, I’ll do a blog post carry on essentials… stay tuned!). And that worked when I was representing a fashion company … but traveling for vacation + a wedding to Hawaii calls for a different wardrobe line up. And a LOT more room in a suitcase.

When I knew that we’d both have to pack for three days into one suitcase… I was thanking my luck stars that the “outfit” needed for Hawaii, bathing suit and flip flops, doesn’t take up much space. Now, I love to travel and I’m lucky enough to do my fare share. I traveled a LOT for work for a long time and now we’re good about taking short trips here and there and I tag along to work trips with the Mr. as much as I can but rarely require a “checked luggage size” so when I started my research I was shocked by how expensive a quality, good looking piece of luggage this size could be! There’s a fine balance between an investment piece (read, expensive) versus finding a durable, reliable suitcase that’s affordable and not going to fall apart after one trip. Or worse yet, ON a trip! (yes, that’s happened to me and no it wasn’t fun). Thankfully, the team over at American Traveler asked if I wanted to partner on a post to test and showcase out their 29″ rolling hardcover suitcase!

Believe it or not, shopping for luggage can be hard and if you’re anything like me you start at good old Amazon checking what’s available, checking out the various features and doo dads that you didn’t know existed on a suitcase (or that you needed until that moment and have been missing all your life), pricing out various options and typically removing the doo dad touting luggage from the “I can afford this” list and reading as many reviews as possible.

Dear friends, I bring good news. There is a suitcase that is not only durable and affordable but can makes you feel sleek and sophisticated while wheeling it AND you won’t have to mortgage your house and offer up your first born to secure. Below is my full review and pictures.

Link to purchase the luggage on Amazon: American American Traveler 29″ Suitcase


At about $170 retail on this suitcase impressed me with its durability while traveling, capacity of what we were able to pack and the ease of it’s movement with the 8 spinner wheels. I think it’s a classy touch that it comes with a vinyl protection bag.

The 8 spinner wheels made it a complete breeze to navigate the airport. It’s outer casing (made of ABS-Polycarbonate thermoplastic) proved quite durable on our first trip with this suitcase- no dings or scratched! Both the top and side handles seemed very hearty when grabbing them to hoist the bag up and the sliver color made it easy to spot our bag right away when it came down the baggage carousel.

The exact measurements of the 29” suitcase are 20.3”H x 11.02” W x 31.3”D.  It weighs about 12.8 lb when it’s completely empty. There is a heavy duty handle on the top and size of the case and it’s 8 spinner wheels gave it a truly effortless 360 mobility. My husband and I are both on the taller side so the telescoping handle was a comfortable height for both of us (5’9” and 6’3”). The three size clasps that secure the suitcase closed are very sturdy and it comes with both a regular combination lock you can set as well as a TSA lock.

The interior of the bag was quite spacious with a hand center flap to help secure each side for closing the suitcase. The other clam shell suitcase I mentioned before has little to no structure so it’s a royal pain in the ass to load each side up then try to zip it closed. This one was super easy- just pack each side, secure the center divider and zip it closed. No cursing? No need to meditate or drink tea to calm myself down afterward!? Amazon! The hard shell suitcases like this don’t offer a lot of room for expansion- but that wasn’t an issue as both my husband and I packed EVERYTHING we need for three days (including running shoes, multiple outfits, curling iron, golf shoes, both of our toiletries bags, snacks, etc.) and there was plenty of room.

I was impressed at the condition that the suitcase arrived in. The large box had foam padding around the corners to protect it during shipment. as well as a clear vinyl protection bag with velcro closures at the bottom- like a dust bag that comes with a nice pair of shoes or an expensive purse. I’d never seen a suitcase arrive so well packed- and we have one other clam shell hard cover style suitcase and I’m pretty sure that thing was Ace Ventura style kicked to our front door and left for dead. Honesty, that other suitcase made me really dislike clam shells but this suitcase actually made me like them!

I am used to traveling with the cloth suitcases (versus this type of clam shell) and being able to just open the top and shove things into it (scarf, cables I realize I don’t need right before I check my bag, sunglasses, etc.) and you can’d do this with the clam shells. They also don’t offer the front zip pockets that I’m accustomed to with the cloth suitcases but that is more of a stylistic preference of what your specific packing needs are. The overall durability of this suitcase wins for me over exterior pockets.

I’m very happy with this suitcase after this first trip. This is a great option for those that need a durable suitcase but can’t afford the Briggs & Riley or Tumi versions. Large, durable, looks stylish and sleek and I just love that it comes with the vinyl protection bag.

Happy New Year & Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix Cookbook Review.

Happy New Year friends! Hope you are all having a fantastic week, and can you believe that it’s already half way through the month? Where has the time gone, I’m in denial. The past few months have been just insane packed; between work travel, personal travel for the holidays, holidays and buying a new house (more on that later)… it’s just been crazy.

I don’t do the whole “new year’s resolution” business. For me, the year renews on my birthday and let’s be honest… how many resolutions do we actually keep? I much prefer choosing a few things to work on and be mindful of as the year progresses to front loading my things to update list. My thing this year is to be better about cooking different things. There’s a cooking “rut” that I can easily slip into when life gets hectic. My go to recipes are played over and over like a worn our record and in the same way that listening to the same song 50 times get’s old, so does eating exactly the same thing day in and day out. That being said, I feel like I do need to give an honest disclaimer here and say that when the Coldplay “Sky full of Stars” and Adele’s new song “hello” came out I played those bad boys like they were going out of style.

FullSizeRenderBack to resolutions, I decided that with a new kitchen and finally having an oven again after what felt like an eternity, it was time to crack one of the stacks of cookbooks and try a few new recipes. The first cookbook I reached for was Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix. This book is my mantra. He builds this cookbook on the idea of improvisation; presenting multiple ways to cook the same ingredient or ways to play with a certain method of cooking. This book is about finding an ingredient that gets you excited to cook, then shopping for the recipe.

Regardless of your cooking style, this book will inspire you. By the book recipe follower, you’ll be happy. Improv loving pinch of this and that cook, you’ll be inspired. There is truly a recipe for everyone, gluten-free, meat loving, paleo, vegan, etc.

The diagrams and imagery in this book, not to mention the organized and mindfully chaotic way each page is laid out, was so easy to digest and kept me turning the pages. It really is a kitchen bible, from a DIY condiments/sauces like homemade ketchup and teriyaki, to an entire section devoted to how to make your own spice mix, 12 ways to cook eggplant and mouth watering meat recipes, you’ll be able to cook and improv to your hearts content.

I received a free copy of this book for my honest opinion, and my opinion was in no way biased.

Thanksgiving Day Menu with Recipes

Happy leftovers day everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing day filled with family and food!

This year I did a mini-digital detox and refrained from posting very much on my social channels but rest assured, while I didn’t photograph every amazing bite we ate like royalty and I have some awesome recipes to share with you! Some of the recipes are not yet posted since I didn’t get many pictures so I’ll have to re-create the meal to get some shots once the holidays settle down a little… oh darn… we’ll have to have another Thanksgiving!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Cranberry Sauce

FullSizeRenderThanksgiving isn’t the same without cranberry sauce. We didn’t grow up with a sacred family recipe but cranberry sauce was always served with the turkey and it was never from a can. It’s just that one thing you can’t do without, especially for leftovers, which I would argue, are almost as good as the main meal! My mum is actually a really amazing cook and is the queen of adding her own touch to recipes and making them a million times better. You can find my post using mum’s recipe HERE.

I don’t like overly sugary anything but cranberry sauce is one that can get sweet real quick. If you look at the ocean spray recipe, which is the base that everyone seems to use but some people like to add orange zest, currants, cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice as well. There are also many different ways that you can use up extra cranberry sauce if you have any, Besides freezing it, you can make cranberry muffins, use it as a compote on top of brie, make cranberry tarts, oatmeal bars, mix up some cranberry pancakes, add it to your yogurt in thee morning or even make a fruit salsa.

Cooking for Thanksgiving is one of my ultimate favorite cooking times of the entire year! We travel to visit family and usually don’t have the ability to cook for 11 people and we love it! We wind up cooking the entire feast and even with double ovens, a 6 top gas range and not to boast but there is also a warming drawer to use, we are still tight on cooking space. We’re cooking with the kiddies so I made a little update to mom’s recipe and did without the Grand Marnier but I assure you, it’s still completely delicious.

This is one of those dishes, along with stuffing and pies, that can be made ahead of time and is actually almost better when it’s made ahead of time.

Cranberry Sauce
Prep & Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield:  2 1/4 cups

1/2 c sugar
1 c water (can be cut or completely replaced with orange juice)
4 c fresh cranberries (equal to one 12 oz package)

Rinse the cranberries and pick out/discard any damaged or bruised cranberries. In a tall soup pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.

Add the cranberries to the pot and let them boil for a minute or two. Turn the head down and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst. You’ll hear them pop, which is why the tall pot comes in handy.

Cranberry Sauce {A Byte of Life}
Cranberry Sauce {A Byte of Life}
Cranberry Sauce {A Byte of Life}
Cranberry Sauce from A Byte of Life blog













Remove the pot from heat and let it cool completely at room temperature. At this point the sauce is done and you can then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator. Note that the cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

Some people like adding raisins or currants, or even blueberries for added sweetness. You can also add holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice.

She’s back and there’s a cookbook review

6168K-vVrEL._SX419_BO1,204,203,200_Hello friends…

It feels like it’s been ages since the last blog post. Between our first trip to Italy, getting engaged, moving and loads of work travel I haven’t done much home cooking. Well, except the trip to Italy which was a cooking trip to one of the most amazing villas with my favorite chef in Seattle and there are MANY blog posts about that. But, for today all I have time to do is a quick cookbook review.

If you thought that yogurt is only for breakfast, you have a lot to learn!  You’ll learn how to use yogurt in appetizers, salads, soups, sauces, marinades, beverages, and desserts. The biggest value of this book was the step by step instructions for how to make your yogurt at home! While I haven’t tried that recipe yet, mostly because I barely have a kitchen, I totally will once I have space to make it! The recipes feature both conventional recipes as well as ethnic and savory dishes and has a nice balance between the two. Books like this help you think more about the ingredients that make up a dish, and how you can completely change a recipe by changing one ingredient.

The pictures were beautiful and inspiring but I most of the recipes are more of the novelty “ made this one time” versus being part of the regular round-up. Stay tuned for a few recipe posts from the book in the coming months.

Please note, I was provided a free copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Cookbook Review: Relæ

A chefs dream of short essays51AKo+BdKAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Unconventional, non-traditional, story telling at it’s finest. This is more than a cook book full of recipes and measurements, this is a glimpse into the practice and philosophies behind Puglisis’ kitchen magic. Read at your own speed- each recipe is interconnected but stands on it’s own but has it’s own magical, deeply personal, story.

Relæ was opened by Chef Christian F. Puglisi in 2010 in one of Copenhagen’s most crime-ridden areas. He had one simple goal, to serve impeccable, intelligent, sustainable, and plant-centric food of the highest quality. His approach was simple, forget focusing only on the frills and serve amazing food.

More of an essay read than a recipe book, but ingenious and engaging.

Poblano Jalapeño Steak

PHP4E40066266685We discovered the Elote Cafe in Sedona on an impromptu trip up there two years ago. We were visiting family just outside of Phoenix and we all decided to load up and head to Sedona- why you might ask? Because it’s amazing! What a lovely place- being in Sedona is the same feeling you get when you look at the stars in the middle of no where. There is a free, peaceful, liberated yet aware feeling that you get when looking at the wide open galaxy and that’s the same feeling you get when visiting the lovely town of Sedona.

We got there, settled in, swam in the pool (unlike Seattle, it was GORGEOUS weather in April!!) and then realized that we were starving. Thanks to a quick Yelp consultation, we found out that there was a highly rated restaurant up the street from our hotel and we decided to give it a try. Not only did they have amazing sangria and a patio to sip it on while we waited for our table (how is a restaurant PACKED in Sedona!?) but we discovered Elote which is the namesake dish of the restaurant. It’s made of fire roasted corn and spicy mayo and garnished with lime and Cotija cheese and it was absolutely stunning! We’ve made it at least 4-5 times each summer since we discovered it. You can find the recipe HERE.

eloteThe Arizona and subsequent Elote trip celebrated the birthday trip for both myself and the mister and believe it or not, we got a table visit from the  wonderful Chef, Jeff Smedstad, who also signed my personal copy of the cookbook and took a picture with us at the table! Talk about an amazing birthday! Whenever I get a chance, I  like to challenge myself and make a recipe and the mister asked me to make a recipe from the Elote cookbook so I told him to pick a few recipes and I would decide which one to cook. Thus, tonight’s Poblano Jalapeño Steak recipe came to life and let me tell you, it’s EPICLY good!!! Especially since I know that it will be a crock pot recipe next time and much less work!  

Poblano Jalapeño Steak 

2 tablespoons oil
2 cups diced onion
4 lb Stew Beef
1 tablespoons Mexican oregano
1 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 cups chopped jalapeños (12-15 large jalapeños)
3 cups chopped raw poblano (9 large poblano peppers)
2 cups water
1 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoons Maseca
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Chop the poblano,onion and jalapeños. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the grapeseed oil in a large heavy heated skillet and add two cups of the chopped poblano and the onion. Add the beef chunks and brown on all sides. Scrape browned beef and onions into an ovenproof casserole dish.

Add the remaining ingredients into a food processor and puree for 5-7 seconds. Pour over the steak and bake uncovered in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with fresh cilantro garnish!

Notes for next time:

Next time this is going in the crock pot for SURE! I made  double batch of the sauce so I have it in the freezer ready for next time!

Original recipe called for a 5 lb pork shoulder, cut 1-to-2 inch chunks but I had fresh, organic, grain fed free range beef in the freezer that I needed to use up and it was UH MAZING!!!!