Ashley Brooke // Florida and Los Angeles Beauty and Fashion Blog by Ashley Nicholas

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quick and Easy Thai Meals at Home!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for InnovAsian Cuisine. I received coupons for Lemon Grass Kitchen frozen meals to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. #mc 

I love to cook, but I honestly just don't have time to make gourmet meals from scratch on a daily basis. In order to avoid having sandwiches or cereal for dinner every night, I rely on easy frozen meals to help me create delicious and healthy meals in minutes. My current favorite line is InnovAsian Cuisine’s Lemon Grass Kitchen. They come in a variety of delicious flavors to make Thai style cooking easy.
The line was created by Chef Mai Pham, and it makes creating delicious Thai meals easy and afforable.

 My local Walmart had so many varieties of InnovAsian products including: Beef and
Broccoli Noodles, Chicken Pad Thai, Shrimp Pad Thai, Red Curry Chicken, Lemongrass
 Chicken Stir Fry, and Thai-Style Chicken Fried Rice! These items are also available at Safeway stores. Since I had a digital coupon good for $1.50 off a Lemon Grass Kitchen product, I decided to pick up two varieties: Shrimp Pad Thai and Beef and Broccoli Noodles. While I was at Walmart, I picked out a few bell peppers and a fresh lime to add a bit of extra flavor and nutrition to my Shrimp Pad Thai! That's the great thing about frozen meals: they're great on their own, but you can easily spruce them up with a few simple additions!

My husband and I decided to make the Shrimp Pad Thai for dinner, and the preparation couldn't have been easier. Simply pour the frozen noodles and vegetables in a dish and microwave for 4-5 minutes or until warm. While the noodles/vegetables are cooking in the microwave, chop up a few of your favorite vegetables to add to the dish. We decided that red, orange, and yellow bell peppers along with lime wedges would add fresh flavor to our noodles!

 Next, quickly saute your vegetables in a bit of oil and add the sauce from the InnovAsian kit to the pan. Heat the mixture until it's warm and bubbling.

To finish the dish, simply combine the ingredients together and top with your desired garnishes. We added a few lime wedges, but the Shrimp Pad Thai would be delicious with chopped peanuts and fresh bean sprouts too! In less than ten minutes, we were able to have a delicious and unique dinner ready to eat!Unlike other frozen meals, the Lemon Grass Kitchen Line features only high quality ingredients that are individually packaged for to maintain freshness. The meals don't have MSG or trans fat, and they can be prepared in the microwave in less than 6 minutes or on the stove in less than 12 minutes.

As I mentioned earlier, it's easy to customize your meal by adding a few fresh ingredients! Here are a few ideas that I'm hoping to try out this month:

Beef and Broccoli Noodles: Add fresh chilis and a splash of vinegar to bring a kick to this dish!
Red Curry Chicken: Serve with basmati rice and Thai basil for an authentic experience. You can also add chili garlic sauce for an added kick!
Lemongrass Chicken Stir Fry: Add fresh vegetables- such as peppers, chilis, and sugar snap peas- for added flavor and nutrition!
Thai Style Chicken Fried Rice: Supplement the frozen mix with chilis, fish sauce and lime wedges for authentic Thai flavor. 

After eating our Shrimp Pad Thai, my husband and I became instant fans of the Innovasian Lemon Grass Kitchen line. We both love Thai food, and now we can spend less money on Thai takeout orders and simply prepare our favorites at home. I love preparing these meals on busy evenings when we'd normally resort to eating unhealthy junk foods. The Lemon Grass Kitchen line is quicker and more nutritious than picking up burgers, and the flavor is so much better! If you're a fan of quick, easy food and Asian flavors, you might want to try this line out during your next trip to Walmart or Safeway.

For more information, be sure to visit the Lemon Grass Kitchen website as well as the InnovAsian Cuisine Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also print out a Lemon Grass Kitchen Discount Coupon to save money on your purchase!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

how to throw the ultimate outlander viewing party!

As if you couldn't tell I was an Outlander fangirl from my first post about the new TV show, I'm back for round two. Now that the first two episodes have officially aired, I know that there will be even more Outlander addicts out there. If you haven't caught the first few episodes, check out the Outlander sneak preview here! It's available on three devices, and you will love every second of it! Starz obviously knows what they're doing because the show is flawless, and the show already been renewed for a second season! This weekend, I'll be throwing an Outlander viewing party for the third episode, and I've got a few party ideas that I think are going to be a big hit with my guests. Keep reading to see how you can throw an Outlander party like a real Sassenach wench and learn how you can enter to win the amazing Outlander Sweepstakes from Time Warner Cable!

Scottish Snacks
The foundation of every good party is a variety of delicious and unique snacks and beverages. Most guests aren't going to appreciate mid-18th century Scottish food, so celebrate the setting of Outlander with tasty modern snacks with some connection to Scotland. Tunnock's Tea Cakes are a tasty treat made in Scotland featuring a cookie topped with marshmallow and coated and chocolate, and they're guaranteed to disappear quickly! Shortbread cookies are another classic dessert that everyone will love, especially when they're paired with bowls of Nutella and fresh fruit! Maybe it's not Scottish, but it's definitely delicious and easy to prepare! Challenge your guests with a few Scottish flavors in a less threatening format, with fun items like Mackie's of Scotland potato chips. They make a variety of potato chips in fun Scottish flavors, like Haggis and cracked black pepper. For drinks, create a fun Outlander themed cocktail for the evening or serve scotch whiskey from Scotland! It would also be an adorable party favor to give away mini bottles of Glennfiddich scotch to each guest at the end of the evening.

The Perfect Decor
To set the mood for the party, dim the lighting and add touches of plaid everywhere. Add a plaid throw to each end of your sofas and down your table where the food will be served. Add cream candles and stacks of Diana Gabaldon's classic Outlander books, and you've created a magical setting! You can also embrace the Outlander TV show's #putakiltonit campaign and add a cute mini-kilt to all of your bowls, glasses, wine bottles, and straws!

Dress Code and Games
Theme parties are so much fun when all of the guests get into the spirit of the party. Encourage your guests to don their best plaid outfits, especially kilts! If you're not sure that your guests will arrive in Scottish garb, create a little Outlander wardrobe- complete with kilts, plaid fabric and clothes, corsets, dresses with full skirts, and redhead wigs- and hold a dress up contest. All of the guests have 10 minutes to create the best outfit, and you can hold a mini runway show and photoshoot for all the guests. This game si guaranteed to garner quite a few laughs, and you can even give out funny awards with great prizes! You could also hold a contest to see who can correctly the guess the number of times common Outlander phrases like "Sassenach" will be said throughout the show. It will force the guests to listen to the show and get a few giggles from your friends!
Now that the party details are all set, can we discuss some of the best moments from the first two episodes of Outlander?

I'm completely blown away by the beauty of the show's setting. Every set is just flawless.

The first time I saw Claire next to the standing stones, I nearly squealed with excitement. It's all just the way I'd imagined it.

And umm...this scene might have been the best moment of my life. As if I wasn't already in love with Jamie from the books, seeing him shirtless next to Claire absolutely sealed the deal. I'm sure this picture might convince a few of you to watch the show!

Don't forget to head over to the Outlander Facebook page to enter the Outlander Scotland Sweepstakes presented by TWC, which runs from August 1-30! It's available to TWC customers (18 years or older), and the prizes are absolutely incredible!

Prizing:
Airfare for two to Scotland
Country Roads of Scotland Tour (6 days, 7 nights including hotel)
Private Outlander Tour
$1000 Spending Money
1 Year Starz Subscription

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Time Warner Cable. The opinions and text are all mine.

Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale

It's that wonderful time of the year again...Lilly Pulitzer sale time! RUN over to the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale right now and check out the phenomenal deals before they sell out! There are so many adorable items marked down to 75% off, but don't wait because Lilly sale items sell out quickly! Here are a few of my favorites from each category in the sale. Good luck and Happy Shopping!


Dresses





Tops




Bottoms





Swim




Accessories



Monday, August 18, 2014

beach day beauty essentials


Since fall is just around the corner, I'm soaking up every last bit of the summer sunshine. I've been spending any spare time lounging at the beach or by the pool with my husband, and I couldn't be happier enjoying the warm weather while listening to a good book on my Audible app and sipping on a cold Diet Coke. While I like to embrace a natural, low-maintenance look while I'm by the water, I still like to look polished and put together. With a few simple beauty essentials, including my Colorescience Sunforgettable sunscreen, you can create a gorgeous and naturally pretty look in minutes.

A killer swimsuit is a beach and pool day essential. In my opinion, if you're going to be wearing something that displays a lot of skin, you might as well find one that makes you feel confident. My Triangl Swimwear Winnie swimsuit  in Miami mint has been a lifesaver this summer. The thick neoprene material creates a flattering fit that stays securely in place all day long, and it's pretty adorable. I have a feeling I'll be ordering quite a few of Triangl Swimwear's other designs in the near future!

When I was a teenager, I used to lay out every day of the summer with as little sun protection as possible. The goal was to get as dark as possible in the shortest amount of time. Like any teenager, I wasn't concerned about the future consequences of torturing my skin in the sun, but I quickly changed my tune the second I got my first few wrinkles. Now, I try not to walk out of the house without sun protection, and my new favorite is the Sunforgettable® Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 50. Liquid sunscreen can be greasy, oily, and extremely messy- especially on my face! I'm happy that I'm getting sun protection, but liquid sunscreen tends to melt on my face and run into my eyes. I'm left looking like a oily mess with red eyes- not cute. Thankfully, my Sunforgettable mineral powder sunscreen eliminates all of my problems. 

The SPF 50 powder sunscreen comes in a convenient retractable powder brush, and you simply apply the sunscreen the same way you would apply powder foundation. Colorescience Sunforgettable® Mineral Sunscreen comes in six shades (fair, medium, tan, fair shimmer, medium shimmer, tan shimmer) and two strengths (SPF 30 and SPF 50). The powder sunscreen is slightly tinted, so you'll get a hint of color and a matte finish along with your sun protection! Along with the matte finish, the non-irritating formulation and easy application makes this sunscreen a winner! The broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen is odor-free, refillable, safe for all ages, and water resistant for up to 80 minutes. It doesn't rub off on your clothes, and it doesn't irritate your eyes!If you're in the market for a new luxury mineral sunscreen, check out the Colorescience Buy Three Get One Free and free shipping offer and stock up! If you live in a sunny area, the Sunforgettable sunscreen would also make a fabulous gift for friends and family.  

I love having a tan, but I'd like to avoid skin damage, wrinkles, and sun spots for as long as I can. That's why I always apply self-tanner before a day in the sun. If I'm already tan, I don't feel pressured to lay out longer than I should or skimp on sunscreen. My Karora Tinted Self-Tan Mist gives me a natural bronze glow in an hour, and I simply apply my sunscreen right on top. Combined with the Colorescience Sunforgettable® Mineral Sunscreen, my face looks tanned and matte while being protected from the sun. A spritz of Mermaid perfume is a summer essential, and I always moisturize my lips with a colorful gloss. My current favorite is the NYX Butter Gloss in Peaches n Cream. After applying my sunscreen and beauty essentials, I just add a pair of fabulous sunglasses and enjoy the weather.


What are your beach day/pool day essentials? What's your favorite sunscreen?








Thank you to Colorescience for sponsoring today's post and encouraging me to try Sunforgettable!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

beautiful and affordable wedding dresses

I've been happily married for three years, but that doesn't mean that I don't still drool over all of the beautiful wedding pins in my Pinterest feed each day. I can't help myself from scrolling through all of the beautiful wedding dresses, wedding decor ideas, and wedding invitation ideas. It's all just so pretty! I justify my obsession with wedding pins as "research" for my friends' future weddings, and I've recently stumbled across an amazing website that I wish that I had known about when I was planning my wedding: Light In The Box's wedding section!

Clockwise from top left: Jewel Sweep Lace Wedding Dress $249.99 | Princess Tulle Wedding Dress $249.99

The wedding items from Light In The Box are kind of amazing. If you've looked at wedding dresses, you'll know that they're insanely expensive. Yes, it's a once-in-a-lifetime dress, but that it's not necessary to spend thousands of dollars when you can find a comparable dress for only a few hundred dollars! Can you believe all of the gorgeous wedding dresses in the collage above are under $400? Most of the dresses are around $200, but they look like dresses that cost $2000+! 

I actually discovered the website after seeing Anna Shannon's beautiful $212 wedding dress from Light In The Box on the Honey Boo Boo finale episode (be sure to watch the episode here) on August 14th. She looked absolutely gorgeous, and I couldn't believe it was possible to find a wedding dress for such an amazing price! By the way, isn't this picture absolutely adorable? It's obvious that she loves her family, and that makes her look even more radiant in that dress!

It's sort of unbelievable that Light In The Box can sell their dresses for such low prices, especially when the designs rival those of higher-end dresses that I tried on during my own wedding planning process. If you're currently planning your wedding, I highly recommend checking out Light In The Box. In addition to a large selection of affordable wedding dresses, they have adorable wardrobe selections for your entire wedding party and really fun wedding decor items as well. To make the website an even better deal, Coupons.com currently has Light In The Box coupons that help you save even more money off of your order. If you're planning a wedding or party on a budget, definitely check out the website to see if there's anything that matches your theme! 


What does your dream wedding dress look like?


Thanks to Coupons.com for sponsoring today's post.

Easy and Affordable Wall Art Ideas for Small Spaces

#getdormified-#smallspacestyle-wall-art-ideas-dormify
August has always been one of my favorite months. The beginning of August is a last minute sprint to enjoy the remaining days of summer, and then the back to school season starts! While freshly sharpened pencils and shiny new textbooks may be at the top of your back to school shopping list, home decor items are absolutely essential for any college student. When you're living away from home, it's so important to create a space that's uniquely your own! Your dorm room or college apartment will be your home away from home for several years, so you want to create a space where you can feel comfortable. The cramped spaces and generic layouts of dorm rooms aren't exactly cozy or cute...at all. After living in four tiny dorm rooms during my time at college, I've basically mastered the art of living in small spaces. With a few small home decor items from Dormify, you can easily and affordably create a space that's fun and unique!

#getdormified-#smallspacestyle
Student housing is usually bland and generic-looking. One of my favorite ways to instantly transform a small space is to add an accent wall. Placing a bright color or fun pattern on the wall directly behind your bed will add instant personality to the room and will make it seem larger! Unfortunately, most dorms and apartment complexes won't allow you to paint or wallpaper the walls to prevent damage, but I've found the perfect solution: removable wallpaper! I found this amazing teal and gray chevron removable wallpaper at Dormify that easily sticks to the wall without leaving any damage to the surface below!

wall-art-#smallspacestyle-#getdormified The removable wallpaper is incredibly easy to install. If you enlist your roommate or a good friend to help, and you can wallpaper an entire wall in only ten minutes! Simply measure the wallpaper strip to fit the size of your wall, peel off the back paper to reveal the adhesive, and stick to the wall. The removable adhesive doesn't cause damage to the wall, and it makes installation a breeze. If you make a mistake, simply peel the wallpaper off the wall and try again!

dormify-wall-art-#getdormified-#smallspacestyleTo add an extra layer of personality to a room, I like to hang decorative prints above the headboard of the bed. I chose four different but complementary frames for my Dormify wall prints, and I just love how it looks against the chevron wallpaper! While most dorms won't let you put nails in the wall to hang picture frames, you can easily find removable wall hooks at Dormify that won't cause any damage to the wall.

#getdormified-#smallspacestyleIt's easy to transform any small space into something incredible with a few cute items from Dormify. Wall art is such a strong statement piece, and I guarantee you'll have quite a few jealous classmates! After turning your dorm wall into a piece of art, add a cute comforter and a few textured pillows to finish the look.

#getdormified-wall-art-#smallspacestyleIf you need a little help deciding which pieces to choose for your small space, check out the free design consultation quiz at Dormify It will help you find the perfect pieces for your new room!
Whether you're headed to college, moving into your first apartment, or simply re-decorating your home, statement pieces like wall art can instantly add personality to any space. If you decide to give your room a makeover, be sure to tag me on social media (@ashleybrookenicholas) with the hashtags #GetDormified and #SmallSpaceStyle! I can't wait to see your creations!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dormify. The opinions and text are all mine.

Friday, August 15, 2014

girls night in + the best veggie burger recipe!



Now that we're in our twenties, it's harder for my group of girlfriends to get together on a frequent basis. Between work, school, relationships, and family commitments, it's hard to find a time when we're all available. With summer coming to a close, I decided to get the girls together for a relaxing night in. I knew that we'd all be exhausted from the work week, so I planned a relaxed evening for the girls filled with lots of good food, girl talk, movies, and even a manicure station! With bikini season still in full gear, I opted for a lighter menu: MorningStar Farms® veggie burgers, salad, and iced tea.  The menu may not have been high in calories, but it was definitely high in flavor! 

After days of debating on the menu for the party, I stumbled across these new MorningStar Farms® veggie burger flavors in the store. I had been contemplating the idea of a burger bar, but I knew my friends might not be too happy about the off-the-chart calorie counts. With only 110 calories each, these MorningStar Farms® veggie burgers sounded delicious and sparked my idea for a veggie burger bar!

I'm kind of famous for my pico de gallo, so it's a mandatory party staple for me. This time, I made a double batch to have enough for chips and dip and an extra bowl to top the MorningStar Farms® Spicy Black Bean veggie burgers! The key to any good pico de gallo is fresh ingredients, so I stopped by the local farmer's market to pick up a few vine-ripened tomatoes, jalapenos, limes, and a bunch of cilantro.

To make the pico de gallo, chop 3-4 medium tomatoes into small cubes. Then finely dice your desired amount of jalapenos (I use about 1.5 jalapenos per 3-4 tomatoes) along with a large handful of cilantros. Add the chopped vegetables and herbs to a large bowl and squeeze the juice of 1-2 limes over the mixture. Add salt to taste, and let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine!

This simple salsa recipe is healthy and flavorful addition to salads and sandwiches, and of course it's a great dip for chips and veggies.

And now onto the main event...the veggie burger and salad bar! When you're having a get together with friends, make-your-own food bars are always a hit. Everyone gets to choose their toppings, so every guest is guaranteed to love their meal. Plus, you can prep all of the items in advance to make party setup a breeze.

After preparing the veggie and burger bar, it was time for our girly get together! Everyone was starving, so we rushed outdoors to catch the last bit of the afternoon's sunshine. 

While I seared the MorningStar Farms® Spicy Black Bean and Mediterranean Chickpea veggie burgers to order, I had all of the side items prepped and ready to go! After handing each lady her desired veggie burger patty, they were free to add their desired toppings and scoop up a large portion of fresh green salad. All of the girls had fun dressing up their veggie burgers with their selections of avocado, tomato, peppers, cucumbers, cucumber-yogurt-feta sauce, jalapeno ranch dressing, and fresh pico de gallo! We even had a bit of a competition to see who could come up with the best burger!

My personal favorite burger of the evening was my Mediterranean Chickpea Veggie Burger. The MorningStar Farms® Mediterranean Chickpea veggie burger patty includes chickpeas, spinach, and roma tomatoes, and it might be the best veggie burger I've ever had. Seriously, I'll be bragging about this veggie burger recipe to everyone I know. 

To create my dream burger, I added spring mix lettuce, a juicy sliced tomato, a handful of cucumber slices, and a thick coating of cucumber yogurt dip with feta that I bought at the grocery store. The burger took about five minutes total to make, and it will be on permanent rotation in my weekly meal schedule!

Another top runner was the Spicy Black Bean Burger with pico de gallo and jalapeno ranch. Oh my goodness. The MorningStar Farms® Spicy Black Bean veggie burger was a huge hit with the ladies! Combined with a few toppings, it creates a show-stopping and healthy meal.

We paired our Spicy Black Bean veggie burgers with spring mix lettuce, spinach, a healthy dollop of pico de gallo, and a bit of jalapeno ranch dressing. There's no way you'd ever miss meat with this burger. While we used the veggie burgers in the traditional fashion, you could easily crumble the patties for tacos, casseroles, pasta dishes, or even as a toppings for salads! The MorningStar Farms® veggie burgers are an extremely versatile product, and I'm looking forward to working them into more recipes to reduce the calorie count of the my favorite dishes without reducing the flavor!

After making our delicious burger, the stupid daily Florida rain forced us inside- which meant it was Netflix and burger time instead of our original plan to enjoy the sunshine. Florida is a beautiful state, but come on summer- why do you have to ruin my party plans? We still had fun, and as you can see in the picture above- Stephanie still enjoyed her burger indoors!

I enjoyed every single second of our carefree girly evening, and I can't wait to have another get together with the girls! All of my friends were totally impressed by the calorie count and, more importantly, the flavor of both MorningStar Farms® veggie burgers! We all agreed that we definitely didn't miss the meat and would totally add these veggie burgers into our weekly meal rotation. 

If you're looking for the perfect food for your next party, consider making MorningStar Farms® veggie burgers. In addition to being healthy, they're incredibly delicious and a guaranteed crowd pleaser! If you make any of the recipes featured in this post, be sure to tag me (@ashleybrookenicholas on Instagram and @ashleybrooke71 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #MorningStarFarms! I'd love to see your veggie burger creations.

This summer, MorningStar Farms® is headed to local festivals across the country to serve a wide variety of their healthy and delicious meal options during their "Good Food for Good Times" tour.
MorningStar Farms® provides flavorful meatless meal options without losing any of the flavor! With over 30 products and 600 recipes available, you're guaranteed to find something from MorningStar Farms® that your family will love. Visit www.morningstarfarms.com to find out more great ideas from MorningStar Farms®!

MorningStar Farms Good Food for Good Times Tour:
Summer Streets Fair in New York, NY: August 16
Chris Santos, a recurring guest on the Food Network's show Chopped and Executive Chef of The Stanton Social.

Arts, Beats, and Eats in Detroit, MI: August 29 – September 1


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.