Teeth Whitening for Coffee Lovers

I can’t tell you how much I love to drink coffee!  It is one of the most comforting, happy flavors I can experience and so many good moments have happened over a steaming, cozy mug of coffee.  

Unfortunately, this heavenly substance can stain your teeth.  That is coffee’s one flaw.

I recently tried a teeth-whitening product that I really love!  Smile Brilliant!  

Smile Brilliant is super easy to use.  They send you a kit to make your teeth molds along with easy-to-follow instructions for how to do it.  You make your molds and send them back in.  After that, you receive your teeth whitening trays and whitening and desensitizing gels.  

I would usually do my teeth whitening routine at bedtime while I read a book….30-45 minutes with the whitening gel and 15 minutes with the desensitizing gel, every other day.  Very easy!

You can see the difference in the before and after photos.  My teeth are a brighter white after using Smile Brilliant!

Check them out here: 

Professional Teeth Whitening //www.smilebrilliant.com/widget-article/thefiligreefig


Who wants a coupon or a chance to win their very own Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kits?? Details here:

15% off coupon code: thefiligreefig15

Giveaway link: www.smilebrilliant.com/g/thefiligreefig

  • The giveaway is for a $149 Smile Brilliant credit. It is open for at least 1-2 weeks (after blog post date) and open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents.
  • Smile Brilliant hosts the giveaway on their own website.
  • At least 25 entries are needed in order to close the giveaway and choose a winner.
  • All entrants must enter their email address to be entered!

Guinness Brownies with Sea Salt Caramel Cream Cheese Icing

Who’s excited about St. Paddy’s Day??  I love any opportunity to think about all things Irish and cook with ingredients from the motherland! Guinness anyone??

Today, I’m giving you the recipe for some FANTASTIC brownies that will be perfect for your shamrock get together!!  My neighbor from down the street created this recipe and he showed me how to make them in this video…

Adding Guinness to chocolate cake or brownies creates a richer flavor.  Something about combining dark beer with chocolate just works!  

Brownie Recipe
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup Guinness
more chocolate chips to spread on the top

Icing Recipe
8 oz cream cheese
1 stick butter
1/4 cup Ghirardelli Sea Salt Caramel Sauce
about 1 lb powdered sugar
a bit more kosher salt to taste if needed

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Place butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt together, stirring until somewhat combined.
4. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, butter and sugars until creamy.  Add in the chocolate chip and butter mixture and combine.  
5.  Add in 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture and beat on a low speed to combine.  Add in half of the Guinness, beat just to combine.  Add in another third of the dry ingredients…Repeat process until all ingredients are combined.
6. Transfer batter to a greased 9X13 baking dish and spread evenly. Add a handful of chocolate chips to the top of the brownie batter.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour…until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. For the icing, beat all ingredients until blended.
9. When brownies are done, allow them to cool and then spread the icing evenly over the top.

Mufuletta Pasta Bake with Shrimp

Where are your favorite places to go in New Orleans?  One of mine is Frenchmen Street! It’s a one-stop spot for all the art, flavors, music and culture you could want! Check it out here: www.frenchmenstreetlive.com

I did not take this photo…it’s from a New Orleans promotional website…can’t remember which one.

It’s the time of the year for thoughts of New Orleans and I want to share a recipe with you that tastes like Mardi Gras in a dish!!

This is my Muffuletta Pasta Bake with Shrimp! It was inspired by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures Hot Pepperoni Muffuletta Dip. You must try her’s soon! So so good!!! We loved her recipe so much that I decided to take it step further and turn it into a one-dish meal. Here is my adapted recipe…

8 oz cream cheese
4 oz provolone cheese slices, chopped
1 cup chopped pepperonis
1/2 cup Boscoli Italian Olive Salad
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning blend (Basin Blend)
2 cloves minced garlic
8 oz cooked pasta
1 lb cooked shrimp

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Warm up the cream cheese (just enough to make it stirrable) in a large glass mixing bowl.
Add the provolone cheese, pepperonis, olive salad, garlic and seasoning blend. Stir to combine.
Add in the cooked and strained pasta and the shrimp (I just use frozen cooked, peeled shrimp from the grocery store, thawed). Stir to combine.
Transfer to an greased oven safe dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Note: I think it would help this recipe to maintain moisture by placing the casserole dish in a larger dish or pan that is filled halfway with water. Pasta bakes have a tendency to dry out while cooking. This water in the pan method was called for in another recipe I did recently and it worked perfectly!! I’m going to try that with this one the next time I make it!
Another Note: You can find Boscoli Italian Olive Salad in the grocery store next to the regular olives.

Photo, courtesy of my friend Ashley Prince, who is at Mardi Gras right now!

So even though I didn’t get to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras this year, my taste buds did! Have your own little Cajun party at home with this recipe! I hope you try it soon! Laissez les bons temps rouler!!

For more recipe and travel inspiration like this, follow me on Facebook at The Filigree Fig and Instagram at @thefiligreefig!!

Lauren’s Exciting Cauliflower!

 I can tell a difference in how I feel when I am eating more vegetables.  So something I love to do is try to figure out a way to make veggies more fun.  As you’ve probably seen these days, cauliflower is the vegetable of the moment. Ha!  There are ways that this really bland, boring, colorless vegetable can be more exciting!  Today I want to share my idea for how to do that.

1 head cauliflower
1 Tbsp butter (melted)
1 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro Pesto (recipe below)
1/2 cup Shredded mozzarella cheese
4 strips cooked bacon (crumbled)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Thoroughly wash a head of cauliflower and trim off all leaves and the bottom of the stem.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together melted butter, olive oil lime juice, and seasonings.
Line a small roasting pan with enough aluminum foil to completely wrap the cauliflower.
Place the cauliflower in the middle of the foil and brush the butter mixture evenly to coat.
Wrap the cauliflower with the foil and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.
When done, unwrap the cauliflower and top with the shredded cheese. Place it back in the oven and broil for 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Transfer to a decorative serving dish and top with the cilantro pesto and crumbled bacon.
Serve immediately.

Cilantro Pesto
1 cup fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 clove garlic
Place all ingredients in a food process and blend until pureed.
Note: Try to remove as many the cilantro stems as possible…but this can get tedious so don’t stress about a few being in there.

I think this would be a really fun appetizer at a dinner party! You’re friends probably aren’t expecting you to serve them a whole head of cauliflower! Haha! Show them that vegetables can be exciting!

I hope you feel inspired to try this recipe soon! For more like this, follow me on Instagram at @thefiligreefig and Facebook at The Filigree Fig 

Happy Place and Cookies

It’s interesting to stop and reflect sometimes on the ways social media is changing the world.  I remember a time when pictures were taken mainly on special occasions and not so much in everyday life.  These days, people take pictures of any and everything and post on Instagram.  And I’m not complaining!  I enjoy it!  And I’m one of the main photo-takers/instagram-posters!  

Recently, my family and I got to enjoy something that to me seems to be a direct product of society’s need to capture amazing instagrammable photos…Happy Place!  It’s basically a popup exhibit hall for staging one amazing photo after another.  It’s a dreamland for anyone who has ever loved rainbows, hearts, smiley faces and anything else cheerful that you can think of!  It moves from city to city. We caught it in Toronto and I think it is headed to Boston next.

Among the major photo ops, you have giant stilettos covered with yellow m&ms and a room where the furniture is glued to the ceiling so you can take a photo that when rotated, looks like you’re on the ceiling! You step inside a dome that air blows from the floor of, swirling rainbow confetti all around you like a colorful tornado.  And there is a giant ball pit that you can jump into.  There was a whole room devoted to chocolate chip cookies with a giant cookie to pose with and the air even smelled like cookies!

Speaking of chocolate chip cookies, I’ve always wanted to be able to make beautiful delicious ones and never succeeded. They always turn out flat and ugly. Ha! But I tried a new recipe this week and it worked!! Check out these beauties!

The recipe is by a blogger that I follow now at @thebakingchocolatess! I will be using this recipe from now on any time I want to make chocolate chip cookies! Here you go! Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

We all loved Happy Place! even my reserved introverted husband…and it was right up my daughter’s alley! I’m glad we live in an age of capturing everything in photos! It makes life fun and interesting and brings about the existence of places like Happy Place. Catch it in the next city if you can! And try The Chocolatess’ cookie recipe soon!