Spotlight: Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee

Chameleon Cold Brew First, let me say, this isn’t a sponsored post. I just love Chameleon Cold Brew this much and I had to share it. 

We were on vacation in North Carolina earlier this month, and my friend Claire had Chameleon Cold Brew at her house. Its a perfect base for iced coffees and super smooth. It doesn’t have the bitter after taste that coffee can have and there are zero calories. Many ice coffee/cold brew products are pre-sweetened, meaning they are already loaded with sugar. This is just coffee and it is oh-so-smooth. 

It’s a perfect summer drink. I fill my travel mug about 3/4 full of ice, pour in about 6 ounces of Chameleon Cold Brew and then add a splash of water then a splash of milk (or half-and-half, whatever I have). I really like the original flavor, but my absolute favorite is the mocha. The chocolate flavor gives it just a hint of sweetness.

Chameleon Cold Brew

Note: Chameleon Cold Brew also has a ready-to-drink version, but only the concentrate (in the large container) are zero calories and unsweetened. 

You can also see my recipe for cold brew here, but I’ve stopped making it – opting for Chameleon instead! 

I buy my Chameleon Cold Brew at Healthy Living Market, Whole Foods and Target, but you can find where to buy it in your area by clicking here

Blueberry Lemonade Bars

Dessert | July 26, 2016 | By

Blueberry Lemonade Bars It’s a crazy summer for us in the Gowan household, but I’m still holding onto my baking time. It sounds crazy, but its kind of like therapy for me. Last weekend, the kids were having a rest time and I was excited to get into the kitchen and try these Blueberry Lemonade Bars.

First let me say, I LOVE lemon bars. Heck, I love anything lemon flavored. Citrus just equals summer for me. These Blueberry Lemonade Bars are the perfect little treat in the summer time, and just the best thing to pack for a summer picnic or potluck dinner. I took this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and put my own spin on it. I swapped out the raspberries for blueberries simply because that is what is in season for us right now and I had a bunch leftover in my fridge. 

These bars are really tart and not so sweet. The buttery lemon crust really helps balance out the whole thing. Also, don’t forget a dusting of confectioner’s sugar over the top because that will sweeten them up ever so slightly as well! 

Enjoy!

(more…)

Grilled Nachos

Snacks | July 19, 2016 | By

Grilled chicken Nachos

In my house, we’re all about hanging out in our backyard these days. It’s a little hot out and sometimes its much cooler to just sit in the shade of our backyard on the weekends. We’ll listen to some music while the kiddos play on the play set and we just chat. It really is nice. 

nachos5

I love to make easy snacks like this for hanging in the backyard on a summer afternoon. These grilled nachos are literally a meal unto themselves too. I’m also still considering that 12-step program for the Frank’s hot sauce addiction. I went to start this recipe (by throwing the chicken in the crockpot after work on Friday) and realized we were out. I sent Trevor a panicked text saying we were out of Frank’s and he knew right away that he had to pick some up on his way home from work (this is what almost 10 years of marriage gets you – he just gets me). He was also more than happy to fire up the grill for some nachos! 

nachos3

These grilled nachos are totally customizable to taste. I did peppers and red onions on top because grilled red peppers are just the best, but you can use whatever you’d like. The inspiration from these came from watching Food Network’s “The Kitchen” at the gym (yes, I watch Food Network while running on a treadmill) and Geoffrey used grilled scallions (also a great choice). I served the whole thing with a side of salsa from Healthy Living Market. 

nachos1

Note: I use this slow cooker method to cook my chicken with some Frank’s. You can make Buffalo chicken any way you’d like, but this is the easiest for me! 

Read on for the recipe!

(more…)

I’m back!

Random | July 13, 2016 | By

Hey there! Nice to see you and be back in the blogging game. Things have been busy with us and summer is in full swing.

I’ve been trying for a while to get to a place where I could find a good rhythm to get back to blogging on a consistent basis. I really love sharing recipes and stories from my family here, but spring really got away from me. I was feeling overwhelmed with life, work and Trevor’s travel schedule. I think I finally have a handle on all of it now. It’s not any less busy – in fact in some ways, we’re busier than we ever have been – but, like I said, I think I’m handling it better. I think most working moms can really relate, and its really so important to take time for yourself (especially in these times of feeling pulled in a million directions).

So I want to catch up! 

lockharts

We had a busy spring and have been spending most of the summer traveling (either for work or for fun). I went to Dallas the end of June for a few nights and had a phenomenal barbecue brisket dinner at Lockhart’s Smoke House. Folks in Texas take their brisket seriously and I literally could still smell that smoke the following day. The peach cobbler was unbelievable too (and I’m definitely making my version of that this weekend!) 

Once I got home from Dallas, we left for a one-week road trip through North Carolina to see family and friends. We spent one night with my oldest sister in Kernersville where I spent the whole time telling my sister that I couldn’t believe her son (my nephew) was 14. He’s so tall and I remember holding him as a baby. That was a tough one. 

foursaints

After that, we visited my cousin Andy at his brewery, Four Saints Brewing Company, in Asheboro. I was completely blown away by the space and the high-quality beers they had. It is just really top notch and a must-visit if you find yourself between Raleigh and Charlotte. I loved the range and selection that they have on tap (my favorites are the Stout and the Omie Blonde Ale). I was even more impressed about their dedication to supporting other local businesses and really participating in the beer community in North Carolina. Very cool and we’ll definitely be back (especially because I want to try their jalapeno beer)! (And yes, that is my girls sitting at their bar in the photo above) 

After lots of beer tasting (mostly for Trevor), we headed to Charlotte for three nights to hang with our friends, Matt and Claire, and meet their adorable new baby, Eagan. It was a jam packed few days and the kids made fast friends with the kids in the neighborhood (and a super duper water slide!). So much fun! Then we trucked onto Wilmington to see my parents. Seriously, this was a vacation filled with driving, but it was so worth it. We came home late Saturday night and I was thinking about how lucky we are to have such great friends and family in our lives. 

IMG_6786

blog3

blog1

blog2

So that brings us up to speed. Trevor is set to head out to Louisiana again for work, and I’m headed to New York City for an overnight soon.

So what does Christen in the Kitchen look like in the future? This is what I’m thinking: I’m going to try my hardest to do two posts per week. On Tuesdays, I’ll post a new recipe – very similar to the style of most of my other recipes on here. On Thursdays, it’ll be something else – maybe featuring some kitchen products I like or sharing more travel photos and good eats from the road. I think this is a realistic schedule I can stick to. Once life settles down (ha!), I’ll expand my posting schedule, but for now, look for new posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays from me! 

In the meantime, follow my Facebook page for quick updates and jump onto Snapchat with me (cgowan24)! I’m trying to share my kitchen successes and failures on there and you get to see more behind-the-scenes posts on there! 

Taking a step back

Blogging | February 12, 2016 | By

Philadelphia skyline Sometimes I think you need to know when to step back from something. This is something I’ve never been particularly good at. I’m the kind of person who takes on a lot, tries to be everything to everyone and kills myself trying to make it all happen. Maybe this is me getting wise in my old age, but for right now, I’m taking a small step back from Christen in the Kitchen. 

I LOVE this blog. It’s such a great creative outlet and I love sharing my love of food with people all over the world. I really think blogging is such a great tool for people to share their voice with others and really connect with people. 

I’ve always been upfront with people that my blog is not my top priority in my life. I work full-time. I have two little girls with very busy schedules and I’m a wife to a wonderful guy. Finding balance between work and family life is tough enough already. One of the things I love most about our marriage is that we both understand that we should have our individual interests and be able to really pursue what we enjoy. He loves to go hunting and play hockey with his friends, and I think I try really hard not to punish him for going away for weekends and doing those things anymore (Yes, I have in the past, but I try not to anymore). 

So we’re faced with a few weeks of change in our family. I just spent four great days in Philly, feeling energized to go back to my full-time job with new ideas and meeting some truly spectacular people at other colleges who face similar challenges. But now Trevor’s job is going front and center for us, and I need to make sure that the girls and Beau are well taken care of, and I’m not completely distracted by trying to get posts up regularly, etc. 

Other things I’ve been thinking about: I need to take better care of myself. I’ve been working so hard at taking care of the girls, Trevor, Beau and my job that I haven’t been doing the best I can for me. So for now, it’s cutting back on sugar, wine and my other vices and really doing what’s best for me (working out more and cooking healthy, delicious meals). 

Sorry for this being so long and rambling, but quite simply, my family needs me right now, and they will always be my top priority. I’m not going to fall off the face of the earth, and you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with what we’ll be doing. So, for now, it’s see you around. 

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip

Snacks | February 6, 2016 | By

slow cooker buffalo chicken dipMy name is Christen, and I’m a full-blown Frank’s Red Hot addict. Literally, the smell of it makes me salivate. Seriously, if they made a candle of that smell, I’d buy it. Although, maybe not because that would just make me want to make this Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip. 

This dip is perfect for tomorrow’s big game if you’re hosting a party, going to someone else’s party or just watching it alone and want a super delicious snack! I actually got this great recipe from Siri Daly (Siriously Delicious) and the Today Show. They also just recently launched the Today Food Club, which is a super great site to exchange recipes. So you can submit your favorites while checking out other people’s food as well. 

They reached out to me about their most recent challenge for the Today Food Club, which was “Slow Cooker to the Rescue,” and there are some delicious recipes on there I’ll be trying out. I contributed my Asian Beef Stew, but I’ll be making some of the other ones there (especially this Slow Cooker Spiced Coconut Steel Cut Oatmeal!). 

Read on for the recipe.

Note: This post is sponsored by the Today Food Club, which I’m a top contributor, but all opinions are my own. 

(more…)

Slow Cooker Asian Beef Stew with Bok Choy and Carrots

Dinner | February 4, 2016 | By

stewI’m on a little bit of a slow cooker kick lately. We had some pork tenderloin in it the other night, then I cooked up this Asian Beef Stew with Bok Choy and Carrots. It’s delicious and hearty, without being super thick and gravy-like. 

I actually made this the day before, cooled it down a bit then stored it in the fridge overnight. Sometimes slow cooker stews and soups are much better the second day, which I think this was. I adapted this Asian Beef Stew from a short ribs recipe I found in Real Simple magazine. My version uses regular stew meat instead of beef short ribs (which have been really hit or miss for me at our grocery store – way too much fat!). 

A quick note on this recipe: Do not add any additional salt! The soy sauce and beef broth are salty enough so you certainly don’t need any additional salt in this recipe. I even bought low-sodium broth (which I highly recommend for all recipes) and it was plenty salty. 

Read on for the recipe and stay tuned for a great Super Bowl slow cooker recipe coming tomorrow! 

(more…)