Monday, February 27, 2017

Hasselback Stuffed Caprese Chicken Recipe

I have yet another amazing recipe that I stumbled upon while browsing Pinterest. This was a favorite for me because not only was it fast (prep time less than 15 minutes), but it was easy to make a large amount of which means lots of leftovers. This is a key component when it comes to making dinners for one. The last thing I want to do is prep a meal for myself every day of the week, so I love when I get a meal that warms up well. This Hasselback stuffed chicken warms wonderfully in the microwave because all of the juices keep the dish moist. 

One thing that I did add to this dish was a quick and simple touch. I marinated the chicken in Italian dressing for a few hours prior to making the dish. It gave the chicken extra flavor and added to the moistness of the dish. Also, for added moisture place a baking dish half full of water on the bottom rack of the oven while you bake. 

I unfortunately forgot to take a photo of the "after" dish, but you get the is delicious. 
This recipe was borrowed from Walking on Sunshine Recipes, which is a fantastic blog for foodies. 

2 chicken breasts
Sliced mozzarella cheese
Grape tomatoes; sliced in half
Basil leaves
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt, pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
  1. Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut slits across the chicken breast about 3/4 of the way through the chicken breast being careful not to cut all the way through.
  2. Depending on the size of your chicken breast, you're going to want around 6 to 8 slits per chicken breast.
  3. Stuff each slit with a slice of mozzarella cheese, half a grape tomato and a basil leaf.
  4. Place chicken breasts in a baking dish that has been coated with non-stick baking spray.
  5. Brush each chicken breast with olive oil.
  6. Sprinkle each chicken breast with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
  7. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degrees.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What I'm Crushing On

Some of the things I am crushing on lately include...

This unbelievably sweet Sylvie Mini Chain Handbag  which will never be mine due to price constraints. However, the colors, crispness of the bow, and buttery leather are to die for. I will be stalking ebay and The Real Real in the future for this on consignment. 

My mom found me this adorable mini shopping card at a closeout store, and I am using it for my shopping list. I love all things that tiny that are not usually intended to be tiny. So cute, it makes the thought of going to the grocery store a little less dreadful and is so appropriate in the kitchen. 

I love this covered ottoman which I found at (you guessed it) TJ Maxx. My storage closet was overflowing. Every single time I closed the door I ripped a hole in my scrapbook bag, boxes for my ebay listing fell off the stack, and the avalanche began. I had so many things stacked on my storage containers that they were bowing and it created a war every single time I needed to find something. Having this extra storage space is a dream, and it looks so tidy. I wish I could take a nap on it, but it isn't long enough. I love that I have the option of using this at the end of a bed in the future if I wish. 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Secrets to a Happy Coffee Table

I LOVE coffee tables. Actually, let me use this opportunity to announce how much I love tables in general. They are such a simple aesthetic yet they express so much about our decorating scale, our own personal happiness and our likes. They are the perfect place to lay out things that make us smile, make our hearts dance. Things we love to look at. The perfectly decorated table makes a perfectly decorated room...which is why I am only allowed into TJ Maxx every once in a while because I end up walking out with another table. I wanted to share a few of the secrets that I think make the perfect table top, be it your coffee table, night stand, end table or entry way decor. 

1. Faux flowers can be very tasteful in small amounts. Of course fresh flowers are preferred, but I find that shallow jars of flowers are my favorite. 

2. Coffee table books in stacks are a must. I always keep on hand a book of prints from my favorite artist (Monet!), a book I am reading, and a neat stack of magazines. Although difficult to see, I have multiple stacks of books underneath the glass. 

3.  A mirrored catchall is also a must. Try to get one at a closeout store like TJ Maxx , Marshall's or Homegoods. They bring the table together and the mirror opens up the area even more. The reflections of a candle off of the glass also is gorgeous for ambiance when the rest of the lights are dimmed. 

4. I am a huge fan of candles stacked on top of books. It makes the pile look complete. If not candles, use gemstones, large trinkets or cute bookends. 

5. A stack of coasters is a must in every room. Try to avoid wood or paper coasters. They look cheap. 

6. All kitchen and formal tables should have a table runner (I had my grandmother sew this one for me with fabric of my choice), formal napkins, a centerpiece and adjacent decor to balance. For instance, I always use a round bowl with some type of filler and then use something on each side of it, whether it is a set of taper candles, these cute bunnies, or tumber jars. 

And though not a tabletop, I am just as big of a fan of feng shui in the bathroom. Always have a luxurious pair of lotions out for guests. Use a solid soap dispenser rather than a plastic jar or a bar of soap which can get melted and look messy. Use a neutral photo in a frame and a funky jewelry catchall for extra spunk. 

What are your secrets to the perfect table? 


Friday, February 17, 2017

5 on Friday

Happy Friday, everyone! Unfortunately, I am working the entire weekend which I am not excited about because I just got over a 7 day sickness. However, I am excited to be linking up with Smidge of This and Carolina Charm for 5 on Friday. Head over and link up yourself and post about 5 things on your mind. 

1.  I had such a fun Valentine's Day with Will. I must admit, the best in a long time. He surprised me with a stunning bouquet, a dinner at a gorgeous restaurant on Monday, and Rose treats from L'Occitane, my favorite. 

I am enjoying them as they brighten up my family room. I am so ready for Spring so that these bright colors can infiltrate my wardrobe again. 

Loving this sheepskin run that I found at TJ Maxx, my guilty pleasure store. 

Although hard to see, the moon over the city from our view at dinner was divine. It looked like a harvest moon though this is so difficult to capture in a photo. I was sick and trying to stifle my coughing fits in between my bites of scallops and shrimp in a cajun cream romantic. 

2.  That day I walked into Dillard's and walked out with an entire outfit for under $100 within 2 hours. I cannot remember the last time I did that. Everything was on deep discount, and I love my knack for finding everything in clearance! I wanted something beautiful and unique that I hadn't worn before for dinner. 

3.  I shipped out my first order of prints for a very happy mermaid loving customer this week. You can shop this print and many other pretty options either on Instagram by following @paintingsbyrachael or by shopping at my tab above, also linked here. 

4. Breaking in for a little review of LUSH bath bombs here...I must admit, I was not the biggest fan. 

I never used to be a fan of bath bombs, but I had a coworker recently recommend LUSH bath bombs to me and I happened to run into a boutique unexpectedly in Pennsylvania. I just picked up one bath bomb to see if I liked it, and I was very impressed. I chose the Avo-Bath for the hints of citrus. It was soothing to my skin, and supposedly the products are vegan and handmade which I love the concept of. My only worry is over time they will start to irritate my skin because later in the evening I started to itch everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

 I would definitely recommend it once in a while for a relaxing bath as long as you shower after to remove it all from your skin and replenish your skin with an oatmeal or shea based lotion afterwards at the very least to replace the moisture lost in a hot tub. I am a firm believer that aromas can calm and soothe, and I think that would be the main selling point to make me go back for more. 

5.  I am the biggest fan of these SIREN candles. I am not a fan of the fact that they are poured in Vietnam (um hello, do I need to be worried about lead in my candle?!) but I love to place them around the home. The smell is delicious. All of them are based on "sea scents" and they truly give me nostalgia for the ocean in the summer. I think the Moonlit Orchid is my favorite, followed by Sea Glass. If you only like candles made in the USA like Yankee, which is my personal favorite, these candles are rich enough to scent a room without burning. The gold rim just looks so classy! 

Hope you all have a good weekend!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Listings on Paintings By Rachael

If you are following my print shop Paintings By Rachael either on my blog or on Instagram at @paintingsbyrachael, then you may or may not know that from time to time I post new listings more frequently than I do here on my blog. However, I keep the most current prices here on A Duchess & A Blog. I was so excited the other night to find some great deals on my absolute favorite Liquitex BASICS acrylic paints on Amazon and purchased a new set as well as new brushes. I have been loving the same set since high school, and I admit I am emotionally attached to my old art supplies.

So much time, energy, sweat, tears and thought have been dumped into my precious paintings over time. I have evoked the conspiracies and passions from within my soul and  pressed them onto paper and canvases with brushstrokes and easy breathing, and I look around my apartment and walls at all of the pieces I have created and I am hesitant to throw out the products of my favorite supplies that have been broken in over years and years. However, it was finally time. These two new listings will be the last installments in my portfolio using my trusty old brushes.

Acrylic on Canvas, Peonies in a Ginger Jar ($50)

Acrylic on Canvas, Chandelier Through Champagne Glasses ($50) 

Travel over to my tab to inquire about purchasing any prints. I think these have to be some of my favorite pieces yet. I will post photos of where I place them once I figure it out. I absolutely love that my entire apartment is decorated with my own artwork. Not only is it more cost friendly than buying all original artwork (except when I have to frame everything), but it makes my home such a personal place. Each painting brings back memories not only of completing if but of the time in my life during which it was completed, the album I was listening to while painting or drawing, emotions I felt at the time and the mood of the room that added to the mood and spirit of the canvas.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

TJ Maxx Is My Sanctuary

I allow myself into TJ Maxx about once every three to four months, and I was once again reminded why. I have been feeling sick going on 6 days now, so two days ago I had to give myself a reason to get out of the house. I knew that I needed new hand towels and a new bathmat, and came out with way more than that. Because these items are all from TJ Maxx I unfortunately cannot include links for ya'll but can encourage you to your nearest Marshall's, TJ Maxx or Homegoods. I just love closeout stores, especially when I cannot deny that I have an undeniable eye for mix and match items. 

I added this tiny succulent and geode jewelry box to my nightstand. 

I bought these two ornate and gorgeous white stiff back chairs. I intend on adding a sheepskin rug when I find one. I also found these gorgeous agate coasters with gold trim and a fake flowers to last with a pop of color #allyearlong. This steel and marble top table were also on the must purchase list as soon as I laid eyes on it. 

So excited about not only my new hand towels and fuzzy bathmat but my little gold bunnies which I am sure were intended for Easter but I will keep out for the year. They look adorable on my kitchen table. 

Oh, how I love home decor installments. 


Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Perfect Party Mix Encyclopedia

Today I am hosting a guest post by Sherry from Personal Creations. They have an entire website filled with delicious goodies, and today we are teaming up to share delicious (and easy!) party mixes. There are countless options at the link in the post below, and you can interchange many ingredients for favorites of your own. Enjoy!


The month of February seems to get a bad rap. Many think of it as a boring break between the end of the holidays and the start of a new spring. However, the reality is that there's tons to look forward to this month! Opportunities to gather and celebrate with friends abound, whether it be for Valentines Day, Mardis Gras, or even an Oscars viewing party.  

Regardless of what type of shindig you're throwing this month, you know you'll need snacks. That's why Personal Creations created these party mix recipes. With flavors ranging from sweet to salty and everything in between, there's a taste to suit every party-goer's palate. I'll be making the Sweet and Salty M&M mix for my next movie and Netflix night to finish the last two seasons of The Office with Will.  

Sweet and Salty Party Mix

The following recipe was borrowed from Personal Creations from the party mixes link above. 

1 cup vanilla rice breakfast cereal
1 cup mini graham crackers
2 cups popcorn
1 cup pretzels
½ cup salted peanuts
½ cup dark chocolate candy melts
½ cup white chocolate candy melts
½ cup candy-coated chocolates
Instructions: Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread cereal, pretzels, popcorn and peanuts on top. Separately melt candy melts and pour into bowls. Use spoon to drizzle over cereal mixture. Top with candies and let chocolate set.


Friday, February 10, 2017

L'Occitane Treats

I recently stumbled into a L'Occitane boutique while in Pittsburgh and decided to stop in. I have heard so many wonderful things about their skincare items based on organic farming and the elements of nature that benefit and produce a youthful appearance. Will and I ended up purchasing a few items, and we ended up falling in love with quite a few of their products. I just wanted to share some of my recent favorites! You can shop them all by scrolling below.

1. The L'Occitane shea butter based bar soaps are unbelievable. I have used body washes for years, believing that they "lather better." I was surprised to find out after Will convinced me to give bar soap a try again that the bar soap lathers far better and I did not need to reapply to my loofa. My skin felt cleaner, smelled fresher and I felt far more hydrated. I know this bar will last me a while, and the milk scent is delicious. The lavender scent is also so refreshing and I love how the aroma makes me feel more relaxed prior to a night's rest. 

2. The small tin of 100% shea butter is delectable. I wish I had known about this stuff sooner. You can use it on your lips, scaling legs after shaving, super dry patches on your face, to tame eyebrows and for frizzing hair. It is thick and soothing without being greasy. I have read about the benefits of shea butter for years, including how it reduces stretch marks for pregnant women. I think this would be too difficult to apply graciously all over your body, which is why I purchased the 25% shea butter body cream. 

3. The Ultra Riche Body cream is incredible. It is hydrating and has the "greasy at first" feel but quickly absorbs into your skin. I recommend putting this on right after a shower and before enjoying outdoor activities like skiing or sledding that you know will strip your skin of moisture. 

4.  The hand cream bar favorites are a cult classic for any beauty bizarre. As a medical professional, I wash my hands all day every day even on my days off. I am a self proclaimed hypochondriac. I am also a weightlifter, and deadlifts quickly tear apart my hands, rip off calluses, and leave the look of distress and hands that have aged far beyond how old I actually am. I am so excited to start using this on a regular basis especially before bed. I used to have to use A&D ointment with socks over my hands (I am not joking) in order to hold in moisture on my poor cracked hands. I wish I had known about this years ago. 

5. Will is a huge fan of the hand gels and lip gel, which goes to show that that skin care is not just for women. In fact, it melted my heart when he accompanied me into the store and ended up loving some of the products as much as I did. The hand gels have a calming and cooling effect. I think they soak up quickly and have just enough moisture for those who don't have dry, cracked and bleeding hands. The lip gel has the same wonderful effects. 

6. I have not actually tried the L'Occitane Immortelle eye cream or Precious Night cream as of yet because I want to finish out my Neutrogena Night Cream. However, I am so excited to give it a try. After giving both products lots of research, I determined I had read enough good reviews to give them a shot. I love the concept of all natural skin care and have found over time that some products are worth the money. I am still going to stick to my Neutrogena day cream no matter what because I love that it has a mattifying effect under makeup and also includes SPF. I want an eye cream that is going to reduce fine lines, puffiness and dullness which are all victims of a chronically overtired nurse. I have read that the night cream and eye cream work best paired together. The theory is that the Immortelle flower has anti-aging effects with its natural luxurious and longevity producing results. 
I know that the Neutrogena night cream that I currently use has glycerin and multiple vitamins, but I still find my nose scaling and the need for extra exfoliating on my forehead. I hope after a few months of the Immortelle collection I can see a difference in my skin. I will definitely follow up. 

What is your favorite night cream? Have you used and loved L-Occitane products? 


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hermes Clic-Clac

One item on my lust list is a Hermes clic-clic. Timeless, elegant and striking. I think the sapphire blue against the gold is stunning. (Also in alignment with my love for consignment stores and used goods, this is available on The Real Real, along with many other colors.)

I think in terms of classic pieces of jewelry that will never go out of style, this might be on my list of top 5. Others on the list include a Harry Winston Watch, David Yurman cable bracelet, and a Cartier Ring. 

What is on your list of dream jewelry? 


Friday, February 3, 2017

3 Easy New Recipes in 1 Week!

I was feeling ambitious in the kitchen this week and decided to try 2 new entree recipes and one new dessert recipe. All three were relatively simple, the most involved being the Italian sausage casserole simply because it involved the most time. The three photos posted below are my own, and I have linked up to the original recipes online. I followed them step by step and inserted what I did differently below each recipe link. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

(I substituted beans for asparagus.)

(I used almond milk instead of regular milk, and had to forgo the minced garlic because I did not have any at the time. It still came out delicious. I also used no salt, and substituted spicy Italian sausage in. I also doubled all of the cheese requirements.)

(I used half of the M&Ms simply because I ate the rest ha!) 

See all of the recipes that I post before they make it online by following me on Instagram at @theduchess1317. Also, all of my favorite recipes can be seen under the Recipes tab above. 


Lately: 5 on Friday Edition

Linking up with Smidge of This and a few other blogs for 5 on Friday where i post about 5 things on my mind. 

January was a busy month for me, and February is looking just as fun. I had a rocky start to 2016 so having such a positive start to the New Year is allowing me to have a a fresh outlook and it is impacting my mood, my confidence and overall happiness. 

1. First of all, if you are not following me on Instagram as of yet you definitely should. I share all things new in my life including what I am up to, shopping finds and food favorites. Follow along at @theduchess1317, and don't forget to like me on Facebook, Polyvore and Bloglovin by clicking in the sidebar to the right. Or, sign up for email updates and never miss a post. 

2. Will recently needed new plates, and I steered him in the classic direction of navy and white. When I had to buy all new dinnerware in the last year, I made the mistake of purchasing ceramic dishware that was just not classic. In fact, my tastes changed so quickly that now I loathe them. I never realized how easy it was to hate dinnerware until you start to hate it even more with each use. It is a "trendy" set, and I have hopes that if we end up living together one day I will get to enjoy the gorgeous 74 piece set that he ordered. 

They are all made in the USA and came with 12 place settings, including fruit bowls, cereal bowls, full plates, salad plates, multiple serving platters and snap on lids for serving bowls. I especially love this feature, because it gets annoying to transfer all leftovers to smaller bowls which really only means wasting more water when either washing the dishes or loading up the dishwasher. One of my favorite touches on this set is the navy rim on the bowls. 

3. I recently took a quick trip to Pittsburgh and I received a few questions on my jacket and earrings. 

I wanted to share the details of the outfit I went sight-seeing and touring the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in. Shop by scrolling below. The Lisi Lerch earrings are probably one of my favorite statement pieces that I own. I could not recommend the turquoise color enough. I think it is a classic pop of color that would look great with any outfit. For instance, they would look great with a fuchsia dress or an emerald blazer, or even a little black dress. From weddings to dinner dates to a day on the town running errands I think these will carry you through the years as a classic accessory sure to get you many compliments.  

4. Though I don't talk about frequently, I love working out. I love all of the health benefits lifting has to offer. I love how I feel afterwards. I love watching progress transform me, and I love seeing the definition in my muscles improve over time. I rotate my targeted workouts through the week, including legs, arms, and back. I also mix in running, ab circuits, and deadlifts. I will try to post more on my fitness routines in the upcoming weeks.

 I love to take BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) and Glutamine before and after each workout to help with lean muscle growth. I feel like they also give me more energy and force me to drink more water when in the powder form. I chose not to take a preworkout because I do not react well to high doses of caffeiene but feel like this gives me just enough of an edge prior to a heavy lifting session. When taking BCAAs, the more important thing to look for is the quantity of leucine which is the amino acid that is mostly responsible for muscle synthesis. This supplement has 3500 mg in a scoop. I also supplement with an additional 2500 of glutamine from a different supplement, which I usually buy based on what the best price is at the time of purchase per serving since glutamine can be pricey. I would highly recommend this supplement combination to anyone who is into working out and wants to see progress and increased muscle definition albeit beware it will not happen overnight. 

5. I just made it onto season 3 of Gilmore Girls, but also recently watched The Imitation Game (about breaking the Enigma code in WWII), The Eighties (an incredible documentary on everything from Michael Jackson to the Berlin wall during a groundbreaking decade), and 9/11: Stores in Fragments (a documentary on that warm September day we will never forget). I would recommend the last three Netflix finds to any couple watching TV together, especially The Imitation Game. The cinematography and soundtrack were stunning. We really enjoyed it, and I am so glad we watched it as the name rung a bell instantly after seeing it had been added. I remember it being nominated for countless awards last year. I never realized how many controversial issues the move addressed.