Crockpot Farro and Butternut Squash Chili

Another cold and rainy Spring day in Kansas City had me craving some chili. Plus with the COVID-19 outbreak, I’m trying to make things that are easily frozen and reheated. So I decided to grab a bunch of things things that I had on hand, dump them in my crockpot, and hope for the best.

Y’all, I’m so excited about how this turned out! Such an amazing blend of flavors! And…wait for it…our mini foodie loved it too!


16 Oz butternut squash, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp onion powder

5 garlic cloves, minced (approx 5 tbsp)

2 (15 Oz) cans diced tomatoes

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 (15 Oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 Oz) can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

8 Oz farro, uncooked

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt


Add all ingredients to crockpot and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8.


One Pot Meal: Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Risoni

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–Give me any recipe with minimal dishes to clean! So I’m always trying to create as many one pot meals as possible. I had these ingredients on hand, so I decided to give it a shot. The result was delicious, and I’ve been dreaming of the leftovers!


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 8 oz carton sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 minced garlic gloves (aprox 3 tbsp.)
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk of choice (I used almond.)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 box risoni (I used Trader Joe’s, and you can also use orzo instead.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • Optional toppings: grated parmesan, parsley


  • Heat the olive oil over high heat in a non-stick pan.
  • Add mushrooms and cook until softened (3-5 minutes), remove from pan, and set aside.
  • Lower the heat to medium and melt the butter in the pan.  Add garlic, onion powder, and flour and stir together into paste.
  • Add the milk and broth and whisk together.
  • Increase heat to medium-high, add the risoni, salt, and pepper.
  • Stir, put on lid, and bring to a simmer.
  • Leave to cook for 8-10 minutes or until the risoni is cooked and is still saucy.
  • Remove the pan from the stove.
  • Stir in the parmesan, spinach, and mushrooms.
  • Serve immediately.



Molly B.

The Easiest Crockpot Tortellini Soup!

When I saw this bag of frozen tortellini on the Shatto Home Delivery website, I knew I had to have it! Obviously there are a lot of ways you could prepare it, but this week’s cold rainy weather had me craving soup like crazy! I threw this together in the crockpot, and our entire family loved it!


  • 1 bag frozen tortellini from Shatto Home Delivery
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1 box vegetable broth
  • 2 cans Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 block cream cheeses


  • Spray crockpot with cooking spray.
  • Dump bag of tortellini into crockpot.
  • Layer on the bag of spinach.
  • Pour in vegetable broth and tomatoes.
  • Cube cream cheese and spread on top.
  • Cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  • Stir and serve.


This was a huge hit and will definitely be a frequent fix in our house!



Molly B.

One Pot Fusilli with Spinach, Sundried Tomatoes, and Capers

Okay so any meal that requires minimal dishwashing or cleanup is totally my jam! This delicious pasta dish has minimal ingredients and only requires one pot! You’re going to love it!


8 Oz Fusilli pasta

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves minced garlic (approximately 3 tbsp)

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes

3 tbsp capers drained

2 cups fresh spinach

1/3 cup pine nuts


Cook fusilli using package directions and drain.

In the same pot, heat 2 oil on medium heat.

Add garlic, tomatoes, capers, and nuts and cook for 2 minutes.

Add spinach and cook until wilted.

Add pasta and cook on low for 1 minute.

Serve immediately.



Molly B.

Easy Black Bean Rice Bowl

Doesn’t it seem like you always have a random box of rice in your pantry? What happened there? You’re at the store like, “Oh yea, probably need a box of rice too.” You know, so it can sit there until it expires…

But I’ve been trying to make an effort to use the food in our pantry before adding to it, so I used that random rice for this super easy Black Bean Rice Bowl that I know you’ll love too!


2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 tbsp onion powder

1/4 tsp Sea Salt, divided

1 package rice of choice

1 1/3 cup vegetable stock

6 sweet mini peppers, cut into rings

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp chopped cilantro


• In a medium pan, heat one tbsp olive oil over medium heat.

• Add onion powder and 1/8 tsp sea salt and stir.

• Stir in rice to coat the grains with oil and spice mixture.

• Add the vegetable stock, bring to a quick simmer, and turn off heat. Cover and allow to sit for 12 minutes.

• In a small saucepan, heat 2 tsp olive oil.

• Add the peppers and 1/8 tsp salt.

• Cook for 2 minutes or until peppers are soft. Remove from heat.

• In a medium saucepan, warm the black beans over low heat with 1 tbsp of water. Keep warm until rice is finished.

• After 12 minutes, stir the rice.

• Add the lime juice and 1 tsp olive oil to rice and mix thoroughly.

• Stir in black beans.

• Divide the rice and bean mixture between 4 bowls and top with peppers and cilantro.

This could easily be served with a meat or meat substitute.



Molly B.

PS—Toddler approved and seconds requested!

Meet My Glam Squad: My Experience with Lash Extensions

I hate mascara.  Seriously.  I hate the way it never completely comes off when you remove your makeup.  I hate the way it flakes into your eyes and gets stuck to your contacts.  I hate the way it smudges and makes me look like I got even less sleep than I actually did.  I just hate it.

Okay, I know this seems like a lot of negativity for me, and perhaps a little dramatic.  Hang with me…

Because although I hate it, I know how much better my makeup looks when I wear it.  And the older I get, the more I rely on its help.  It makes my eyes look more awake, and it brightens up my entire face.  So begrudgingly, I wear it.  Until now.

Over the past year, I’ve been on a quest to experiment mascara alternatives.  (I told you I hate it.)

First, I tried a lash serum.  A very large MLM was the first company I knew about that offered such a thing outside of a med spa.  And yes, I bought it.  Remember, I am always honest with you…it worked.  Like really worked.  It worked so well that I actually had to trim one of my lashes, because it grew so long that it was touching my eyebrow.  My lashes looked incredible!  But it’s expensive and the tube only lasts about a month, since you have to apply it each day for it to last.  I loved the way my lashes looked, but I could not justify paying $140 a month, no matter how much I despise mascara.  After that experience, I tried several other dupe serums from Amazon, and ultimately could never find anything that worked as well.

(I want to be clear that this was MY experience alone.  I do know people who have had allergic reactions to these serums, so please speak to a professional before trying anything.)

Next, I tried a lash lift and tint.  The process was quick (less than 30 minutes), easy (just lay there), had very little downtime (12 hours before getting wet), and does not require any aftercare.  Essentially, a lash lift is a perm for your lashes that curls your lashes to open up your eyes.  A tint is an application of dye to your lashes.  Together, this gives the illusion that you are wearing mascara.  This procedure is projected to last 4-6 weeks, depending on lifestyle.

Overall, I really liked it.  My lashes definitely looked best right after the appointment, and for the first week.  The color lasted almost 5 weeks, but the lift only lasted about 3 weeks.  Full disclosure, I workout 6 times per week and sweat a lot, I shower every day, and I double cleanse my face, so I expose my face (and lashes) to a lot of moisture.  Someone with a different lifestyle would likely be able to make their lash services last much longer.

And finally, lash extensions.  You know these, as they have become increasingly popular over the past couple of years, as they give the daily illusion of longer, fuller lashes.  I liken them to the look of false eyelashes, which I love to wear for photos and special events to really make my eyes pop.  Much like fake lashes, extensions come in different lengths, fullness, colors, and textures.  This seemed like the natural next step in my lash adventure!

KC Lashes is a local Kansas City woman-owned lash salon in Park Place in Leawood.  They offer lash extensions, lash lifts, lash tints, as well as brow services.  KC Lashes owner Tasha Socin, Owner says, “At KC Lashes we are more than just lashes.  We believe in making every single one of our clients feel better beautiful inside and out.  That’s why we focus on having superior service, standards, excellent customer service, amazing products, and making sure each clients leaves feeling their absolute best.”  After researching them and talking with Tasha, I knew this was the spot!

During my first visit, I met my lash artist, Jazzmin, and she asked me a lot of questions to ensure that I had the best experience possible.  She asked about my lifestyle and the look I was wanting to ensure that I got the lash look that was right for me and would match my activity level.  After she got that information, she walked me through the procedure–what she would do, what I would do, what it would feel like, everything!  From there, it was time to get gorgeous!

During a lash extension application, you lay on a padded table, similar to that of a massage table.  The tables at KC Lashes are covered in plush blankets, and there are blankets available for you to cover up if you like.  It’s clear that they are all about your comfort!  Which is great, because your initial application can last up to 2 hours.  The artist will tell you that most people fall asleep, you’ll laugh, and then about 15 minutes in, you’ll fall asleep too.  It’s just so cozy!

During the procedure, your eyes are closed, and the lash artist works their magic.  They thoroughly clean your eye area, they apply the lashes that you selected, and they get you cleaned up.

After my lashes were applied, Jazzmin handed me a mirror, and I was in love!  (Okay that sounded super vain.)  It was clear that she really listened to what I wanted, and I was blown away with the look of my new lashes.  Once she was confident that I was happy with my lashes, she went over my after care.

With lash extensions, you do have to be cautious and treat them with care.  They cannot get wet within 24 hours of your appointment.  (This includes sweat and shower.)  Rubbing your eyes is a no no.  (Which you will undoubtedly forget on the 3rd day when your alarm goes off at 4 AM…)  You should be cautious about the skincare products and makeup you use on your eyes.  (The lash artist will ask about these and make recommendations in those initial pre-application questions.)  And it’s a good idea to comb through them at least once per day so they maintain their shape and separation.

After your initial application, you should return after 2 weeks for a fill.  (Very similar idea to when you have acrylic nails.)  The fill is to inspect how well you are maintaining your lashes and if adjustments should be made, to fill in lashes that are lost over the 2 weeks since application, and to adjust the look if you would like.  After that 2 week appointment, the lash artist will recommend you return every 2-4 weeks for a fill, depending on how well you are maintaining your lash extensions.

After my initial application, I maintained about 60% of my extensions.  We identified that the facial cleanser I was using was tough on my lashes, so I purchased a new cleanser that would prevent any damage.  Additionally, as I mentioned, I sweat a lot and frequently, so it was anticipated that I would lose more than some customers.

Currently, I am on my 3rd fill, and I could not be happier with the look and my experience.  Every time I go, I’m excited to see Jazzmin.  She is so sweet, and she always remembers what we talked about the last time, and she always asks about my kiddo.  I am so relaxed during the session.  And the salon is absolutely gorgeous!

So here’s some great news for all of you!  New customers can get $20 off your first full set of lash extensions at KC Lashes when you mention my name at booking!  This is a big savings, and I know you’ll fall in love with the team and with your lashes.

Let me know if you have any questions, and let me know if you visit KC Lashes!


Molly B.


14 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Kansas City

I love Valentine’s Day—always have, always will. Any excuse to celebrate love, I’m in! And there is no shortage of fun ways to celebrate Love Day in Kansas City. Here are 14 ways to celebrate in Crown Town.

1. I woke up like this. And you should too! A staycation at the gorgeous Kansas City Marriott Downtown is the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Grab your toothbrush and some pajamas, and they take care of the rest. You can spend your entire visit lounging in your comfy bed, binging all your favorite Netflix shows, and dining on room service. Or you can enjoy a delicious dinner at Metropolitan KC, their on-site restaurant. (Gnocchi, Brussels, and chocolate all on the same menu…?!) Sleep late and make sure to grab breakfast before you return to reality. Book your V-Day visit, and you will leave feeling rested, refreshed, and completely spoiled!

2. Rollin with my main homie—That’s another fun way to celebrate V-Day! Grab a scooter or bike, and create your own crawl through downtown KC. I’ve got a full blog post about crawling the Crossroads, but there are so many options in our city. We recently did our first crawl through North Kansas City and found so many fun spots.

3. You say chocoholic, I say cocoa enthusiast. Don’t be a Negative Nancy. Panache Chocolatier in Park Place is your spot for the sweetest (pun definitely intended) lil chocolate and coffee Valentine’s date. It’s the cutest shop with delicious award-winning chocolate. (Yes, that’s a thing, and I’m still trying to figure out how I become a judge…) You can design your own tasting experience, or take the recommendations of their incredibly knowledgeable team. (Pro Tip: Take the recommendation.) Either way, you’re sure to have the best time! Also, they have the best gift sets for your Valentine, Galentine, Palentine, Yourselfentine…

4. Shopping, but I don’t have to hide the bags?! Tell me more…If you’re looking for a unique idea for this Valentine’s, a shopping date is the way to go! Make that dinner reservation, but before you dine, make a couple of stops to pick outfits for one another. (Yes ladies, he gets to pick your attire. But you finally get the chance to ditch his faded polo. Allegedly… ) Make it silly or make it serious—either way, you’re in for a great time! And if your dude is anything like mine, dressing room try-on sessions are not his favorite pass time, but I promise if Indium Intimates is one of your stops, no one will be complaining.

5. Okay so not every Valentine’s comes with the time, the money, or the babysitter for an extravagant date. Totally cool, because all you need is a cute lil Heart Day sweatshirt, a bucket of popcorn, and a movie or Netflix marathon on the couch at home, and you’re still in for a great night with your boo.

6. It’s all fun and games until you beat me at skeeball, and then I hope you like sleeping on the couch.Okay, okay so maybe I’m a “little” competitive, but there’s really nothing like acting like a kid with my PIC. We love Up Down Kansas City and it’s such a great spot for Valentine’s Day! Tons of games, yummy food, a full bar, and even a photo booth to commemorate your date. They have lots of V-Day specials, so pay them a visit with your Player 2!

7. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands, they just don’t. Solid words from Elle Woods to live by on Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s a workout in the basement gym, trading sets on your favorite weight floor, or taking that class you’ve been dying to try, getting your heart pumping on Heart Day is a really fun way to celebrate. Bonus? No makeup required and two words: yoga.pants. Yaaasss!!!

8. When I suggested a couples massage during our 5th anniversary trip in Mexico, I never could have known that I would turn my husband into a bougie lil spa Stan. Now the dude loves to get a massage on the regular. Our favorite day spa in Kansas City is, hands down, Bijin Salon in Shops of Prairie Village . Over the years, I’ve had several treatments, and they always make me feel so relaxed and pampered. (I’ve honestly considered moving into their steam room.) In addition, Chad B. knows that a gift certificate for Bijin is ALWAYS a good choice. So this Valentine’s, put on your comfies, and spend some time getting the VIP treatment with your VIP at your favorite spa!

9. Wait. I get to make a mess in someone else’s kitchen and there’s no dishes? Sign. Me. Right. Up. Over the last several years, Chad and I have taken a few cooking classes for our V-Day celebration, and each time, we have a blast! From pizza tossing at 1889 Pizza to steak and salmon at Lenexa Public Market, we’ve learned a few new tricks, met fun new friends, and got to spend time together in the kitchen that wasn’t rushed or interrupted by a tiny foodie. I highly recommend a cooking class for your Heart Day celebration, so if you’ve been considering it, go for it!

10. Running into Valentine’s week (and toward the wine) like…Three of our favorite wineries in Kansas City are KC Wine Co, Stone Pillar, and KC Wine Works, and any of these would be a great choice for a Valentine’s Day wine tasting! From novice to junior sommelier, you’re sure to learn something new and have a great time in the process! Each of these spots host special events to celebrate Heart Day, so check out their schedules. And if you’re not local to KC, check out your favorite local winery to see how you can say Cheers too!

11. What a fun and delicious Valentine’s date idea (especially if you’re short on time)— go somewhere for dessert only! Share a slice or grab a couple of options, and connect over sweet confections. (Side Note: This also makes for a really good family date too. Also, more people = more desserts.) If you’re local to Kansas City, there are so many options, but we love Decadent in Prairiefire for a dessert date. If you go, make sure you get the Lemon Berry Marscarpone Cake. IYKYK

12. When we’re feeling a little disconnected, we opt for a dinner date at home. Mini foodie goes to bed, plates hit the table, wine fills the glass, and we talk. This is another great option for Heart Day if you don’t feel like braving the cold or crowds, don’t want to shell out money for a fancy dinner or sitter, or if you just want to wear pajama pants. We do typically pick up a dessert from André’s, McLain’s, or Dolce, but we cook the rest. I’ve got tons of recipes on the blog that would be great to make.

13. What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh it’s only the best day of the year…Ladies celebrating ladies! For those that may not be familiar with the holiday, the concept is pretty simple: Celebrating female friendships the day before we get a visit from Cupid. If you need ideas of how to have the best day with your besties, check out my recent TravelHost Kansas City article for ways to celebrate with your girl gang! Not that any of us need an excuse to plan a Girls Night, but just in case, Galentine’s Day is it!

14. If we’ve been friends for a while, you know that Chad and I love a progressive date night. I have a few blog posts about this, but you can also do it Strang Hall style! Apply the same formula—start with drinks at one place, apps at the next, entrees at the next, and one last stop for dessert—but we never had to leave the warmth of one building! No planning, no reservations, and no fancy dress required.

I hope you have the best Valentine’s Day, no matter how you choose to celebrate!


Molly B.

No Bake Oat-Free Protein Balls

Yea, yea, yea, we’ve established that I have a serious thing for protein bars, balls, and bites. And I love making my own too! A friend recently asked if I had a recipe for a protein ball that did not use oats. No, but let’s give it a shot! I am really excited about what I made. Check out these No Bake Oat Free Protein Balls:


  • 2 scoops protein powder (I used chocolate Arbonne.)
  • 3/4 cup nut butter (I used peanut butter.)
  • 4 tbsp milk of choice (I used almond milk.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


• Mix all ingredients until it forms a dough consistency.

• Roll into balls and place in refrigerator for 1 hour before eating.

• Store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.



Molly B.

The Perfect Perfect Bar Dupe

We’ve probably talked about this before, but I am a protein bar junkie. I’m always down to try new brands and flavors, but I definitely have my favorites. One of which is Perfect Bar. They’re just so good, and they are incredibly filling! They’re packed with lots of nutritious stuff too, but I’m no expert on that. My only issues are that they aren’t available at every store yet, and they’re also pretty pricey. When I find a sale, I stock up big time! But I’ve been wondering if I could replicate them at home. I spent some time in the kitchen yesterday, and these are pretty dang close! The flavor and texture is spot on, but how do I cram all that kale and alfalfa in there?!

Check it out and let me know what you think!


1 cup Natural Peanut Butter

1/4 cup Agave Nectar (You can also use honey.)

2 scoops Vanilla Protein Powder (I used Arbonne.)

1/8 cup Chocolate Chips


• Stir together peanut butter and agave.

• Heat in microwave for 1 minute.

• Stir in protein powder until fully combined. This will make a dough-like consistency.

• Spread into a 8×8 baking dish. (I prefer to use a silicone baking dish.)

• Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

• Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

• After at least 1 hour, remove from refrigerator and cut into your desired size. (I like to make bites instead of bars.)

• Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



Molly B.

Kansas City Restaurant Week 2020

Quite possibly my favorite week of the year in Crown Town–Kansas City Restaurant Week.  When Chad and I first moved to Kansas City, we determined that it was our mission to eat our way through our new city.  We moved to KC in January, so it was perfect timing to kick off our exploration through this annual event.  And we’ve been enjoying it every year since!

Kansas City Restaurant Week is a 10-day event (This year is January 10-19.) where you can dine at hundreds of local restaurants.  This is the perfect way to try new places, visit those spots you’ve been dying to try, or to visit your favorites.  No matter what you decide, you’re sure to have a great time, at a discounted price.

Each participating restaurant offers a special multicourse menu, all of either $15 for lunch or $35 for dinner.  And often times, they will feature dishes that you can only get during this week, and some offer drink specials as well.

In addition, restaurants pledge to donate 10 percent of sales from each meal to benefit an annual charity partner and two founding beneficiaries.  The 2020 charity partner is The Don Bosco Centers.

This year, I was fortunate enough to attend a preview event at Parkway Social on the Country Club Plaza.  A few local bloggers and influencers got the opportunity to sample the menu, taste some wines from Platinum sponsor Robert Mondavi, and host a giveaway giving locals a chance to win a gift card to use for their own visit to Parkway.  It was a great way to kick off the week, learn a little bit more about how the event impacts our community, and the eat lots of yummy food.

So now to my plans for the 2020 event…Chad and I have a rule to use this week to try restaurants that we’ve never visited.  This year, I made three reservations at new-to-me spots.

First up was a girls night at Plate in Brookside.  We met at 5:30 on a snowy Saturday night, and everything was perfect from the second we walked in the door to the careful walk to our cars on the frozen sidewalks.  Plate was also offering their happy hour during this time, so we took advantage of their wine specials.  All of us decided to order from the Restaurant Week menu (of course), and we each ordered different items.  For my first course, I ordered the Italian salad.  My second course, the main entrée was a faro dish.  The menu had four main courses listed, all of which contained meat.  I asked for one to be modified, and they came back with the offer to create a vegetarian dish, which was such a generous and lasting experience.  I’m so glad I took them up on the offer, because it was exceptional!  And finally, my dessert was the Trio, which was an incredible chocolate and caramel concoction that tasted like a creamy chocolate crusted Werther’s.  Incredible.

Next was a Friday lunch date at Grand Street with a girlfriend. We were both had to return to work, so there were no cocktails or lingering conversations, but we enjoyed a quick and delicious visit. At most restaurants, the lunch menu is a two-course offering, as was the case here. I landed on the Arugula Salad and the Butternut Squash Ravioli, which was the perfect choice for a cold KC day. The ability to still enjoy a beautiful lunch when you’re in a rush on a workday is one of the best things about KC Restaurant Week.

My third and final visit was a date night at Lazia at the Crossroads Hotel. The Crossroads Hotel is certainly a hot spot in our city. With its swanky, yet historic setting, it’s the place to be on any night of the week. We were seated at a table right by one of the two vaults in the building that belonged to Tom Pendergast, and this bank nerd was thrilled. We started with cocktails–a glass of Malbec for me and a Dual Intersect for Chad, which is the Crossroads collaboration beer with Double Shift Brewing. Although we were in for a filling meal, we took our server’s suggestion to start with an order of their arancini, and we were so glad we did. Between that and the complementary house-made focaccia, we were worried we might be too full to continue. But we didn’t worry for too long, because it was time to get started on our courses. For our first course, we ordered a Caesar Salad and House Salad and shared both. We had our respective favorite but agreed that both were fantastic. The second course was the entree, and we ordered the Artic Char and the Pomodoro and shared. Both were so flavorful, and we ate every single bite! And the final course–dessert, my favorite. We ordered both the Buttermilk Panna Cotta and the Tiramisu. And yes, we shared, but Chad always lets me have significantly more. These were so fabulous, but the tiramisu definitely stole the show for me. They make it in house, and it’s the best I’ve ever tasted. We finished our visit with craft cocktails at the XR Bar in the lobby. Everything from start to finish was exceptional!

So here are a few things you need to know about Kansas City Restaurant Week:

  • You need reservations!  These restaurants book up early and fast, so plan ahead and grab a spot.
  • Use the KCRW app.  It has all of the restaurants listed, you can add favorites, you can view the menus, and you can make reservations at most of the restaurants.  One central location for everything you need to plan your week.
  • Sometimes the menus online/on the app do not match the menu when you get to the restaurant.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is that, because it is so popular, they run out of things and have to modify.  Be patient, grant grace, and move on to another option.
  • Follow KCRW on social media.  They post updates, feature restaurants, and offer giveaways for many of the restaurants.

Did you get out and about for KC Restaurant Week this year? Where did you go?


Molly B.