Friday Favorites #3

We made it to Friday!  I have made it to my week long vacation!  Woohoo!

1. I’m on my way to DisneyWorld on Monday and so of course that makes it my favorite thing today!  However packing is not on my top list of things I want to do this weekend!  I wish my suitcase would pack itself.

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2. I use plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream all the time, it was great to read this and see the difference from regular yogurt.

3. Serial!  I am whipping through the episodes and will be moving onto Undisclosed next.  Why did I wait so long to start this podcast?!?!?!  The addiction is worse than a Netflix binge!

  
4. The last two weeks I have had zero motivation to workout, once I come back from vacation my plan is jump back on the spinning wagon and the 21 day fix videos.  I was also really enjoying practicing yoga each week and I stopped doing that.  To get myself going again I might print out this letter and post it all over my apartment to remind me!

5. Awhile ago I saw on pinterest or maybe a blog that you can freeze bacon.  As someone who rarely eats bacon and once in awhile only cooks with it I figured I would try the method out so when I made the brussel sprout salad I needed four slices of bacon.  The rest of the bacon I ended up rolling individually and placing on a cookie sheet and flash freezed it.  I left it in the freezer for about an hour then took the pieces of bacon and threw them into a freezer ziplock bag.  No more wasting bacon by unthawing a whole package for just a couple slices.  Smart idea!  

 
6. On my radar to try making!  Who doesn’t love fish tacos and with an avocado slaw, sign me up!

7. It makes me very angry inside to have an addiction to Diet Pepsi, I hate that I like it and hate it more that I allow myself to have a glass or can a few times a week.  It’s so unhealthy and I really wish that I could stop.  Luckily, I might have found something that can hopefully get me away from this Diet Pepsi train.  La Croix sparkling water is so delicious!  The Cran-Raspberry fakes my tastebuds into thinking I am drinking a cocktail.  The great thing about La Croix is that it has no calories, no artificial sweeteners and is sodium free! 

 8. Check out these dogs!  How can you not smile at them!  I want a dog just so I can put a Halloween costume on it.

Have a happy weekend for me!  I will be racing around trying to get packed for my vacation!

A Side of Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

I am newly in love with brussel sprouts, as in the last couple years.  When I was a kid I never would have eaten those little cabbages but now I find myself ordering them at restaurants and finding ways to prepare them at home.  It took awhile for me to find a way to cook them that I liked but roasting them in the oven is definitely my favorite way to enjoy them.

This recipe is now an additional way I can love brussel sprouts!  My family was my guinea pig last week when I made it.  It’s definitely not the quickest recipe but the taste is well worth it and my family agreed.  The blog I found this recipe on is one I’ve been reading for several years and all her recipes always look so delicious.  Here’s her Apple Almond Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad recipe.

First crisp the bacon in a frying pan. I actually had never cooked bacon this way but it was surprisingly easy.  Once the bacon crisps up in the pan remove it and let it cool on paper towels. Do not get rid of the grease, you need it to prepare the dressing.
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While the bacon is cooling use a cheese grater or food processor to shave the sprouts.  I used my food processor but you could easily thinly slice them too with a knife.  Put the brussel sprouts in a bowl.  I chopped the almonds in my food processor or you could get sliced almonds or use a knife to chop them yourself.  Mix the brussel sprouts along with the almonds.

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With the reserved bacon grease you’ll make the dressing, saute the chopped shallots in the grease.

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While the shallots are cooking chop the pink lady apple (or any apple) and crumble the bacon.

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Add those to the brussel sprout mix.  Remove the start of the dressing from the heat and whisk in red wine vinegar, honey, dijon mustard and salt and pepper.  Once it is whisked together then add it back to the heat for a little bit.

Drizzle the dressing over the brussel sprout mix and serve!  I also ate the leftovers for lunch the following day.  This would be great with some chicken over top to have as a meal instead of a side.
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Fresh Pico de Gallo Salsa

Fresh salsa is one of my favorite things in the world! I love Mexican food and some heat and spice!  This fresh Pico de Gallo is perfect for anyone that loves a refreshing snack to take to a party or snack on yourself or throw over a taco salad.  It doesn’t take too long to whip up especially if you have a chopper or food processor.

Ingredients:
4 medium tomatoes chopped
8 jalapenos cleaned out and chopped
1 red onion chopped
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

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I suggest wearing plastic gloves to chop up the jalapenos.  Discard the gloves as soon as you’re done handling the peppers, do not touch your skin, especially your eyes.

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You’ll want to clean out the seeds and ribs, as this is where the heat of the pepper is held. The spicier you want it the more seeds and ribs you can keep in the mix but I clean out about 95% of them. I throw the cleaned out peppers into my food processor and give to a few pulses to help chop them up and then I take my knife and roughly chop to get them smaller. I find if I pulse too long in the food processor it gets too juicy and it’s meant to be larger pieces than a salsa. You can also just use your knife to chop up the peppers.

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Throw them into a bowl. Next, chop up the red onion. I also throw mine into the food processor.

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Chop up your tomatoes.  Keep the juice from the tomatoes as well to put in the bowl with the ingredients.

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Clean the cilantro by rinsing it under water, sometimes there can still be grit from the dirt. Chop that up and throw in the bowl. I use my kitchen scissors to chop up the cilantro, it’s easier to me.  Add either 3 garlic cloves minced or 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic and 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients with a spoon and serve with tortilla chips!  Easy as that!

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Friday Favorites #2

This week has flown by, the days seemed long but I felt as though it was just Monday.  This weekend will be quiet and I’m hoping to try to get myself organized for my vacation to Disney World so I’m not running around next weekend getting last minute stuff which typically happens.

Here are some of the stuff I’m loving this week.

1. Gel manicures are amazing but I hate the fact that in order to remove them you need to go back to the salon or soak your nails for way too long only to ruin your nail beds and make them super thin.  No matter what nailpolish I use it chips within a couple days (I think I’m just really rough with my hands).  Recently I tried Sally Hansen 2 step gel polish that doesn’t need a UV light (another pro).  I’m obsessed!  All you do is clean your nails with nailpolish remover, apply the color and let it dry for 5 minutes then apply a second coat of color and let it dry for another 5 minutes and then apply the gel top coat and let it dry.  Best things about this is that I have not smudged my nails which I typically do when using regular polish because I have no patience, it lasts on me for longer than a week with no chipping and it comes off easily with regular nailpolish remover. I’m a forever consumer of this product now!

2. I really want these leggings in my closet.  When I was at the mall last weekend they only had the blue ones in my size and I want the green.  I have a feeling they are going to go fast, I need to make sure I order them ASAP!

3. My sister in law told me about a blog her friend writes and I’ve been saving a lot of her recipes to try but this one I think I will throw together this weekend to have for breakfasts during the week, I always need something easy in the morning, Baked Oatmeal Cups!

4. Good reminder, I need more zen and simplicity in my life.

5. Even though I have a list of books I want to read that is a mile long, I’m adding these to my list on Goodreads.  If you don’t have Goodreads, I highly recommend it, perfect place to keep all those books you want to read and see what your friends and family are reading.  Goodreads has a rating system, you rate books on a 1-5 star scale so if a book my friend rates is a five there is a good chance I’m adding it to my bookshelf.

6. I was unaware that I needed to replace most of these items in my kitchen, glad I read this.

7. My apartment is too small for this but I love it and I have it pinned for the future.
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8. When I’m not working I basically live in leggings and sweatshirts and tshirts.  I keep eyeing all the graphic tees and sweathshirts on Truth Balance Virtue.  This one is my favorite.


Have a fun filled weekend, only a couple more weekends left of the summer to enjoy!

A Different Way to Spaghetti Squash

Typically I use spaghetti squash as a base for red sauce, a replacement for a delicious Italian meal but I switched that up and tried a Mediterranean twist.

If you haven’t made spaghetti squash before you are definitely missing out!  Go out and buy a spaghetti squash today!  It’s simple to prepare, cut the ends of the squash off, cut the squash in half (be careful with this part, it can be hard to get the knife through and several times have gotten close to cutting my hand) and clean out the guts.  Drizzle the insides with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper then put on a baking sheet with the insides face down and bake in a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until a fork easily pokes through the outside.  Once the spaghetti squash cools so you can handle it, take a fork and run the fork from the top to the bottom of the inside, it comes out looking like spaghetti then, hence why it’s called spaghetti squash.

Now to get back to the dish I made, I used this recipe from Kalyns Kitchen.

I actually cooked the spaghetti squash the night before making this dish, it made it quicker for me to make the meal at night after work and my workout.  The spaghetti squash was drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with Italian seasoning.

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The original recipe uses mushrooms but I despise mushrooms so I skipped that step.  I chopped two small zucchinis and half an onion and sauteed over medium heat in two teaspoons of olive oil.

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While the veggies were cooking for about 5 minutes, I drained a 12 oz jar of artichoke hearts that were already quartered, I halved a cup of grape tomatoes and a half a cup of kalamata olives.

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Once the zucchini and onion were softened I seasoned with two teaspoons of minced garlic and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning and let that cook for a couple minutes.

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I wisked together half a cup of chicken stock and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

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I poured the mixture in with the seasoned zucchini and onion and let that cook for five minutes. Then, added in the tomatoes, olives and artichokes along with a drained and rinsed can of Great Northern White Beans (not part of the original recipe).  I let that cook for two minutes.

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I stirred in the spaghetti squash that I cooked the night before to heat through along with 3/4 cup of feta cheese.  Before serving I sprinkled 1/4 cup of feta and about 1/4 cup of chopped green onions.  Even though this photo does not look appetizing at all, the taste was 100% there and I can not wait to play around with this flavor more.

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From the original recipe I omitted the mushrooms and added a can of Great Northern White Beans.  Sauteed chicken would also be a great addition to the dish.  See the original recipe here for the Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Sauteed with Vegetables and Feta.

What are some other ways that you have used spaghetti squash that doesn’t involve red sauce?

Friday Favorites #1

This blog is mostly about recipes that I have tested and tried but there are a lot of other things that I want to share with you that I’ve seen around the web and want to try or things that I have tried and am loving!

1. I am an avid reader (and audio book listener), at the same time I’m usually reading a book plus listening to a different audio book. I tend to read more at night and I listen to books when I’m getting ready, doing things around my apartment or while I’m at work. But I digress, the book I’m reading right now is “It Was Me All Along: A Memoir” by Andie Mitchell. As someone who has had fluctuating weight for most of my life and body image issues this book definitely hits close to home and knocks on a lot of the same thoughts and feelings I have had. I highly recommend picking it up to read.image

2. I have been eyeing distressed jeans for almost a year now and still haven’t found ones I love. I’m going to the mall this weekend and hoping to try these on. I just want this look, it’s cold here at night in Buffalo, I want to wear jeans again. image
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3. And speaking of that look, I have a Rebecca Minkoff purse just like this and want to recreate this outfitimage
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4. Lately I’ve been having some breakouts on my face and it has been super frustrating. My sister introduced me to the Clean and Clear Acne Spot Treatment, it has definitely helped out those pesky spots that pop up. I need to run out to the store as soon as she leaves to make sure I have it on hand. image

5. This quote I say on Piece Apparel’s instagram
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6. Need to make this

7. I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw this come through my pinterest, it reminds me of a little girl getting into her mom’s makeup
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Have a fun and relaxing weekend!

Zoodles of Fun

For a few years I’ve been obsessed with spaghetti squash in place of pasta. I have gluten intolerance and avoid eating gluten items as much as possible, for some reason pasta tends to bother me the most so I rarely eat any. I know there are a lot of gluten free pastas and I have tried and liked several brands but I don’t really care for all the carbs that come with gluten free products.

Spaghetti squash was my go to but now with my new found love for the Vegetti I go crazy making zoodles (zucchini noodles).

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It’s a breeze to use and you can prepare the zoodles several ways, like this recipe for Shrimp Zoodles Parmesan by Skinnytaste.

This recipe I recently tried on my parents and my sister who is in town and received raved reviews. The recipe is very easy to make and you don’t need too many ingredients. I doubled the recipe for my family and changed a few things.

First I made the zoodles using three large zucchini.

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Next, I prepared the shrimp, that I had peppered, with the suggested egg wash and dipped in panko bread crumbs, whole wheat bread crumbs and shredded parmesan (the recipe calls for grated which I used the first time I made it but this time I grabbed the wrong cheese but it still came out just as good). Don’t forget to spray the baking sheet and top of shrimp with a cooking spray.

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While the shrimp is baking, prepare the sauce. I used the ingredients listed in the recipe but also added some extra seasonings, basil, Italian seasoning, oregano and onion powder. I didn’t measure those out but probably used around a teaspoon of each, but remember I was doubling this recipe.

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Once the sauce was warmed through I added the zoodles and made sure to mix it to coat all the zoodles. The recipe says to use an oven safe skillet but instead I used a large saucepan then transferred to a 9×13 glass dish.

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Once the shrimp was done baking I put the shrimp on top of the zoodles, sprinkled with shredded mozzarella and put the glass dish under the broiler until the cheese was melted.

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My sous chef, my sister Ashley who has tried and liked many of Skinnytaste’s recipes, making pasta for my dad to put under his zoodles. It’s a good option for someone who wants some extra volume to their meal.

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By doubling the recipe we had leftovers and I took it for lunch and added some spinach to the bottom of my bowl before reheating.

Are you a spaghetti squash and zoodle lover? Anything g you’ve tried making with the Vegetti besides zucchini?