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Tuesday

Gatorland to the Biltmore

From New Orleans I had to drive down through Florida to drop dad at the airport and then go back up to North Carolina. We had a pit stop in Pensacola, which had beautiful white sandy beaches, incredible oysters, and an unbelievable sunset.


Queen of the candid...


Sunday

NOLANOLANOLA

I am a huge lover of live music, so taking the trip to New Orleans was a dream of mine.
Let me tell you now, it definitely did not disappoint. 

First off, Bourbon Street is a bit of an ehhh experience. 
If you're looking for a sleazy street with brothels on your left and right, then this is the place for you. However, if you're looking for the live music, drinking experience of New Orleans, then head down to Frenchmen Street where you will get a taste of the NOLA you have your heart set on. 



Monday

The Long, Winding Roads of Texas

Texas.

The most boring place to drive through. Ever.

If you ever have to drive all the way through Texas, like dad and I did, make sure you have an incredible playlist, think of a couple of car games to play, stock up on snacks and water, and expect minimal views. Now, the cities we visited in Texas were actually really fun, and had incredible food, however, the drive is extremely boring. I'd sugarcoat it, but I'd be selling you a lie.




I on the other hand, mainly kept myself sane by taking a load of selfies.
Dad loves a selfie, so he was the perfect candidate for the task.

Friday

The Grandest of Canyons


After a "relaxing" few days in Vegas...
Somewhat. But when is Vegas ever a relaxing trip overall?
We headed to Arizona to take a look at the greatness that is the Grand Canyon.

Probably leaving a little later than we needed to, I got my last In'N'Out Burger.
Not ever, but it felt like it. Until I eventually return to California at least... So, we need to start a petition to get this amazing burger joint over to England. Leaders of the In'N'Out world, help a girl with a burger obsession out!


After waking up early the following morning, dad and I headed out to the Grand Canyon.

Words do not do the place justice, so here are an abundance of photos to help you realise how amazing it is.

Tuesday

Las Vegas: The Happiest Place in the World… for Adults


After a couple of days of camping, we took the short 2 and a half hour drive from Joshua Tree to Las Vegas. The views along the way were beautiful and I thoroughly suggest stopping now and again to take a lot of photos. Even if that does mean parking your car in the middle of the roads and hoping no other cars cross your path.




Wednesday

Campfire Pesto Mac n Cheese

I love pasta and I love cheese, so this is the greatest camping dish I could have made.


If like me you are not a seasoned camper, and aren't used to cooking over a fire, this is a pretty easy (and ridiculously tasty) dish. The hardest part about cooking over a fire is that the smoke gets everywhere, but aside from that it takes about 20 minutes or so, depending on the heat of your flame and how long the water takes to boil.

Ingredients needed to feed about 4 with this beautiful dish:
a box of pasta from the shop (any kind of the small ones will do, we went for the spiral)
a tin of pesto - homemade if you have time, and a cooler
a lot of pepper jack cheese
salt & pepper to season

Honestly, I'm a lover of cheese and pesto so I tend to over add those ingredients.
Just add as much as you like (go on, add more)

Monday

Joshua Tree National Park


Considering how traumatic our last hiking experience was, I was unsurprisingly skeptical about this one. 

In true form, we arrived when it was dark out. Thankfully, unlike Yosemite, Joshua Tree is more open plan and has much smaller trees. Typically, he first two campsites were full and we thought we were in for another horrendous experience, but then we came across Jumbo Rocks Campground. Honestly, I’m pretty happy about the fact the others were full because Jumbo Rocks was a beautiful campground. 

As I said it was pretty dark out, but thankfully the stars gave us a little bit of light. We started a fire (when I say we, I mean dad did, but I was there for moral support). I did sort out some killer tuna sandwiches for us though, so who was really the important one in that situation?


After a relatively good nights sleep, we woke up, changed and headed to the visitors centre to plan our day. Let’s be honest, we didn’t want a report of what happened in Yosemite! So we spoke to the lovely man behind the desk and decided on the Barker Dam Trail, a drive down Geology Road, a hike up Ryan Mountain, and a quick look at Skull Rock. All in a days work. 

Thursday

San Diego, Stone Brewery, Sunset Cliffs & La Perla


Dad and I love a good brewery, so I asked one of my friends to suggest one and she pointed us in the direction of the Stone Brewery in Escondido. You walk through a couple of big rooms that can be used for functions and the like, and also passed the shop and first bar. Then we came to the beautiful outside area where we were going to hang out.



Although we had booked a table because we weren't sure how busy it would be, there was space at the bar so we decided to perch ourselves up there. There were a wide variety of beers, including many the company brewed themselves, either on-site or at some of their other sites.

Monday

San Diego, La Jolla Cove & Lemonade


Since starting this trip, dad and I have been using an app called HotelTonight to find cheap(er) hotels on the day, basically. How it works is you put in the location of where you are going to be and it will find you hotels at discounted rates. For this particular trip, we ended up at the San Diego Marriott La Jolla which couldn't have been better. They allowed us to upgrade to a room with two beds, the shower was great and there was even a pool. We managed to get our room for two nights for the amazing price of $172 overall (this hotel usually goes for more than that for one night, so to say we got a bargain is an understatement).

The app works in the United States as well as England, and if you use the code: ELBALL you'll get $25 off your next booking, so book away guys.



Saturday

Los Angeles, Urth Caffe & Griffith Park Trail, Day Two

Needless to say, Maddie & I were extremely hungover this morning, after spending the previous night at the Bungalow, which is a bar along the Santa Monica beach basically. Such a lovely place that we hardly took any pictures because we were having too much of a good time. 

Obviously needing something substantial to eat, Gerry suggested that we take a trip to a place called Urth Caffe. He knew about it because of the Entourage movie, and obviously he took us to the wrong one. Typical Gerry. After parking about 4 hours away (possibly a slight exaggeration, but that’s what it felt like) we finally made it to the restaurant which had a relatively long line outside the door. That’s usually a pretty good sign though, so we weren’t that bothered. 



The menu was extensive, as all American menus usually are, but the boys went for omelettes, whilst Maddie and I both went for the Sunrise Pizza. This pizza consisted of… and boy, was it incredible! The base was quite thick and the toppings all made for party in your mouth. 



Friday

Los Angeles, Original Farmers’ Market & Santa Monica Pier, Day One

Been away for a couple of days in the desert so haven't had any wifi. Technically I'm in another desert now, but that is the Las Vegas desert, where wifi is everywhere! We drove down Highway 1 to get to LA, where the views looked something like this..



After arriving later the night before, dad checked into his hotel and I went to stay at my friend Gerry’s place for the night. We just hung out and ordered pizza, catching up as it had been too long. The next morning, dad came to pick me up and we headed to the Grove and the Original Farmers’ Market.


Yosemite National Park

As many of you know, I've just started a two month road trip around America. The majority of it will be spent in hotels or crashing on the sofa of friends of mine that live all across the country. There is, however, a portion of it that will be spent camping. My family have never been a camping family, so this is all relatively new to me, and instead of starting out small, after picking up SteveO (also know as my father) from the airport, we ventured to Yosemite National Park for our first camping experience. 

I'm using the term 'camping' lightly, as I actually slept in my car whilst dad braved the tent. What a trooper!

We got there relatively late as SteveO took a while to get through customs as the airport. Once we did arrive it was pitch black, but we found our way to our camping spot at Upper Pines Campground (I’ve heard it’s quite hard to get reservations for these campgrounds usually, considering we were there in October I was able to book it a couple of weeks in advance. If you’re planning on vacationing there in summer, I believe the reservations open up in May and then you’re put into a lottery). Setting up a tent in the dark is quite challenging, but we managed to accomplish that pretty fast. As I said, I'm not a seasoned camper so even sleeping in the car was a challenge, mainly because I kept thinking that dad might be eaten by a bear in the middle of the night. 

I woke up after a couple of hours of staggered sleep to find that he was thankfully still there, no bear marks in sight! The campground was relatively peaceful in the morning, with everyone going about there business.


Monday

Spaghetti aglio, olio avec bacon

Decided to make dinner for the family this evening and came across Jamie Oliver's Spaghetti aglio, olio, & spring greens. Instead of the spring greens I decided to go for bacon as we've been eating a lot of healthy, non-meat based meals lately and I needed some meat in my life.


We had a salad to start, which was made with:

a few handfuls of spinach
half a block of organic feta
a vine of mini tomatoes
half an avocado
a swig of lemon olive oil & a sprinkling of salt and pepper

Friday

Quintessentially Quinoa

I was rummaging around the kitchen the other day, thinking my usually thoughts. Thoughts about the most important aspect of life: FOOD (I know, I'm an intellectual soul)

These days a lot of people are trying to get on the health hype and eat many a green food. Whilst I'm all about keeping healthy, we all know I love the unhealthy things in life. But today, I decided I was going to make a healthy meal sans meat - not that you couldn't add meat to this meal because who doesn't enjoy a bit of bacon in their lives? Well, vegetarian people don't I guess... but I am not one of those people, so I'm all about that bacon life.



Thursday

English Summer Salads

I've been back in England for almost two weeks now, and after spending the whole of the first week drinking and eating copious amounts of food and alcohol due to my nan's 80th birthday I decided to make a couple of salads for lunch the past few days.

That's not to say I've gone full health as I did have a takeaway with my dad last night (who can say no to a free curry?), but that's our little secret! ;)

Now, I'm not one to have a salad sans meat so mine all include some form of either fish or meat. Obviously, if you're a non-meat eater then you can just substitute with one of your veggie faves - tofu, cauliflower, potatoes, amongst others.

Sliced Finger Salad

So I'm happily pottering along yesterday making this salad when the knife decides to slip of the table and cut into my finger. Not only have I never cut myself whilst cooking, but of course the first time it happens is when I'm trying to be healthy. Tip of the day: unhealthy food is safer.

Back to the deathly (but scrumptious) salad, we have:

3 rosemary & thyme mini sausages from Waitrose
a handful (or two... maybe three) of spinach
homemade parsley (obviously purchasable at the shop)
half an avocado
half a tomato
a slice of onion
a clove of garlic
1 jalapeño pepper

topped with salt, pepper & lemon olive oil



Friday

Bowls of happiness

Had a busy couple of months with travelling and whatnot, so I've been eating out a hell of a lot. Chipotle and in 'n' out became my vices for a while. Cause lets be honest they're incredible! Back to the healthy-ish eating for a while though because I'm trying to cut down on costs so I can save more for my America road trip in a few months.

Yesterday I opted for a simple salad for lunch and then a pasta dish for dinner.
Today I made a rice dish with lots of exciting additions.

Starting we the salad we had a mixture of greens; spinach, kale and chard mixed with pancetta, feta and mini heirloom tomatoes and topped with a lime olive oil that I picked up in Napa.

Super quick & easy, perfect for a lunch on the go.


Pasta, as we all know, is one of my favourite things to consume in the world.
So to make things a little healthier, I opted for a quinoa spaghetti type of pasta. And due to my philosophy pretty much being if it looks a little healthier, you can eat about 5x more of it... it had to be done. (Do not quote me on that, as lets be honest it's probably not true and me just being my inner fat self). It's a quantity and quality aspect all meshed into one!


This beautiful dish consisted of:
lots of quinoa spaghetti
1 avocado
1 clove of garlic
crumbles of feta cheese
mixed greens (spinach, kale, chard)
mini heirloom tomatoes
& love - also know as green pesto


Now onto today's dish.
I had to get up early for a meeting so I didn't have time to eat breakfast, because I prefer sleeping to waking up early and making food (judge me, I don't care). So I got up, jumped in the shower, chucked on some clothes and ran out the door.
When I got back I was so hungry, I think my stomach was starting to eat itself.
So I rustled up this bad boy..


Under my jalapeño-d egg, we have a rice concoction.
mixture of black, brown and red rice
pieces of pancetta
mini heirloom tomatoes
green mix (spinach, chard, kale)
half an avocado
sprinkled with seasoning


Stay happy & healthy everyone.
And remember, the healthier you eat, the more you can eat. 
Those are words to live by if ever there were, right? 
Just kidding... or am I? 

Tuesday

Meatless Monday

I had a big avocado day today.
I realised they were going to go bad within the next few days and then decided I just had to use them all. Monday's have become known on social media as a "meatless" day, now I'm not into the fad every Monday, but I didn't actually have any meat in the house so figured I'd just go for it.


That is one beautiful avocado, if I do say so myself.

For lunch we started with a rice dish.
Wild rice, combined with roasted pine nuts, pesto, spinach and mini heirloom tomatoes.
Topped with avocado (yum), greek yoghurt, cilantro, chili flakes and a splash of trader joe's finest habanero sauce. Because I love to spice up a meal.

It's simple. The most difficult aspect is the length of time rice takes to cook.
The wait is unbearable. (don't mind me, I'm just obsessed with food)


I still had another avocado left at dinner, so I went for a bowl of Avo-Pasta which I've linked up for you just there. Here are some pictures to keep you occupied until you eventually go ahead and try the recipe.



Avocados though. The finest green.

Avo-Pita, the new Avocado Toast.

Avocado toast!
Probably one of the biggest fads right now. Let's be honest, avocados are pretty much heaven on earth. They make some of the greatest treats, including, but not solitary to guaca-guaca-mole. I've tried it, I love it, so I figured I'd go ahead and make a few versions of it for myself.


Instead of toast, I decided to use pita bread. Wild change of pace I know, but trust me, you'll love it.
So, I couldn't decide on just one favorite way to make my Avo-Pita, so I went with four variations; avocado and a fried egg with chili flakes, avocado topped with charred cucumbers and tomatoes, avocado with mozzarella, and avocado with pesto and vegetables. Personally, I love the fried egg option, because avocado and egg are pretty much a dream combination.


Ingredients for these are:
2 wholemeal pita breads
10 sugar plum tomatoes
6 slices of cucumber
1 avocado
1 spoonful of pesto
2 slices of mozzarella
1 fried egg
Olive oil
Sprinkle of chili flakes

To begin with, heat up your frying pan onto medium-high heat.
Place your pita bread inside and allow it to heat up.


Once it has heated up, put it aside and put a tiny bit of olive oil into your pan and swirl it around. Fry your egg up in the pan until you get that perfect fried egg. Whilst your egg is cooking, cut up your tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado.


Use half of the avocado for this pita and evenly distribute it over the top.
Cut the pita bread in half and place your fried egg on one half.
Then add your tomatoes and cucumber slices to your frying pan and char them for a couple of minutes. Place half of the charred vegetables onto your pita bread and leave the other half for your second pita.






How beautiful does that first set look?

Now, onto the second pita. 


Heat up that pita bread and spread your avocado on your heated pita.

Mix your leftover tomato and cucumber slices with the pesto sauce and place that on top of the first half of your pita bread. On the second pita, break up your mozzarella into pieces and throw them onto your second half. 

It's as easy as that! 

Don't forget to "yum" this recipe on yummly where you are able to find other great recipes. Happy eating ❤️



Thursday

Avo-Pasta

Pasta is probably one of my favourite things to eat in the world. Like ever.
I eat relatively healthy as you can tell from a large number of my posts, regardless of what my mother thinks. The problem is that when I go home to England I always want to eat all of my favourite foods... in one sitting. This includes many gin & tonics made by my dad, copious amounts of pasta, bread, chocolate, and those mini cocktail sausages from Marks and Spencer. They may be horrendously bad for you, but trust me when I say they are the greatest mini sausages you will ever eat!

Due to the fact I'm now considered a fully functioning adult, I actually have to pay for my own food (growing up; no fun), which limits me slightly. When I'm at home we always have a full fridge of excitement to play around with, being on my own however, means that I have to carefully pick and choose what I buy. Aside from on Fridays, which I consider my cheat day (in life). I basically go to all my favourite places and pig out for the day. From Chipotle to In N Out, it's a pretty heavenly day...

Sorry, daydreaming over.
Where were we? Oh yeah, pasta, healthy, all that jazz.
That's where this bad boy comes in


This is one of the simplest, most satisfyingly healthy recipes.
All you need is:

A handful of whole wheat spaghetti (handful and a half if you're like me)
1 jalapeño
Chopped cilantro
1 avocado
1 garlic clove
Dash of salt

Boil your water in a pan and then add your pasta.
Cook for about 10-12 minutes. Whole wheat takes a little longer than regular pasta.

In the meantime, chop up your avocado, cilantro, garlic and jalapeño.
Cut your jalapeño down the middle and cut out the stem in the middle of each one. Leave in the desired amount of peppers you want, depending on how spicy you want your food to be. I like mine spicy, solely because I think my dad may have fed me peppers as a baby. He can literally eat a vindaloo curry and be good to go. I've semi inherited the spicy gene. Either that or I no longer have any taste buds? I'm going to hope for the former.


Drain your pasta and then chuck everything into one pot together.


Mix it in thoroughly so that the avocado and the rest of the toppings go over ever spaghetti noodle and you get the full experience. Once all of this is done, plate up and enjoy!

N.B. if you like this dish, then don't forget to press the "yum" button at the bottom so that the recipe can be shared on Yummly. Then loads more people are able to experience food heaven! Thanks ❤️




Monday

Habanero Chili Prawns on a bed of Wild Rice

I was walking through Trader Joe's the other day... to all my English people, it's the equivalent to an in between Sainsbury's and M&S grocery shop, with Whole Foods being the Waitrose of America (slightly on the expensive side), the links are there if you want to check out their websites.. right, where was I? Oh yeah, walking around aimlessly through the grocery store trying to figure out what to buy, and I realised I hadn't had fish, specifically prawns, in FOREVER! So obviously I decided to buy a pack of them.

I've always been a pretty big seafood fan. We lived in Spain for a couple of years during my teenage years because of my tennis playing and were lucky enough to eat their world famous paella for a couple of years. If you're ever lucky enough to travel to the beautiful country of Spain don't miss out on their paella; if you don't like seafood they also have a load of other versions too, but you have to try it! You won't be disappointed, trust me, and would I lie to you?

Back to this killer dish.



To feed one person, all you're going to need is...

8 prawns, give or take a few depending on how you feel
Wild rice
2 garlic cloves
1 Jalapeño
Handful of cilantro
Pine nuts
Olive oil & a bit of salt

Firstly measure out your rice. I usually measure it with my mason jar and pour it till around the 200 mark. Bear it mind I tend to eat more than the average human because I genuinely my stomach may be a bottomless pit at this point, but worst comes to worst you can just put it in the fridge for the next day. Pour about double the water (or whatever the packaging tells you to put) in with the rice, wait for  it to boil and put the heat down to low and allow it to simmer until all the water is gone.

Whilst the rice is on you can chop your jalapeño, garlic and cilantro, and then marinade your prawns. I bought this habanero chili hot sauce from Trader Joe's so I decided to use that. BEWARE OF THE SPICE! If you have time I would always suggest a homemade marinade, but this was all I had time for so it had to do. Mix it up with your chopped garlic and jalapeños and then place it in a pre heated pan with a splash of olive oil.






Let them sit for about a minute and then start moving them around in the pan so they are able to cook on both sides. Cook them for about 4 to five minutes until done.

Then add your cilantro to the rice, followed by your cooked prawns and mix it all together.


This is an extremely healthy dish that fills you up and only has minimal calories.
It's prawntastic... Too cheesy?