Zucchini and Spinach Spaghetti Marinara

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Are you hanging in there, friends? This week hasn’t been an easy one. I feel like bursting out High School Musical style and singing, “We’re all in this together!” Because we are. I am here for you and I know you are there for me. At least I’m pretty sure a few of you are there ūüėČ

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With the help of some healthy whole grain carbs, you’re about to feel much, much better about this week. I mean, come on. How could you not feel better with some of this in your life. I’m about to eat my computer screen just looking at this again.¬†
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Look what happens when you twirl a bite of pasta out from the center of your plate. You get a spaghetti wreath! Cute, right? Now that will put a smile on your face. No? Just me? Okay.
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Bread, pasta and carbs in general have developed a bad reputation among many Americans these days. But like everything in life, moderation is key. There is nothing wrong with a bowl of pasta every once in awhile, so I don’t know why I feel the need to justify it right now. But I just want to say that by adding some veggies to the dish, it can be just as healthful a meal as any, especially if you use whole grain noodles.¬†
Today I give you permission, in fact I urge you, to make yourself a bowl of hot, steamy pasta and savor every last healthy bite. 
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Zucchini and Spinach Spaghetti Marinara 

Makes 3-4 servings
Ingredients:
1/2 box whole grain spaghetti
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small zucchini, shredded
1/4 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 cup marinara sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoons extra spicy seasoning
2 cups baby spinach leaves 
Salt and pepper to taste, if desired 
Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside. 
2. Meanwhile, add olive oil to large skillet and place on stovetop over medium heat. When hot, add shredded zucchini and sliced onion. Saute until vegetables become tender and brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add marinara sauce and spices to the skillet and stir. Cook 2-3 minutes, then turn heat down to low. Add spinach and pasta to the skillet. Toss everything to evenly coat with the sauce. Let cook 2-3 more minutes, until spinach just begins to wilt. Remove from heat and serve immediately. 
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Tempeh and Cheese Enchiladas

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Two weekends ago, Greg and I went to New Orleans for our good friends’ wedding. We had an awesome time celebrating – Congrats Lauren and Sam!! Sorry I’m a little late with the shout out ūüėČ
I managed to fit in just about all of the different traditional Creole cuisine like crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, pralines and beignets. Oh yeah, and some king cake!
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Last week I felt like I was playing catch-up in all areas of my life, but I feel much better now that I’m back in the swing of things. Eating well, exercising, spending quality time with Greg and Zoey, planning dates with my girlfriends and not to mention feeling a surge of blogging energy! I haven’t been able to keep to a set schedule for more than two consecutive days since before the holidays so I’m looking forward to buckling down because in less than four months I’ll be getting married myself! The craziness is only going to get crazier.
Cheesy enchiladas are not necessarily helping my future wedding bod, but they’re not too harmful either. These make a great “fake-out” indulgent meal without actually indulging. It’s a comfort food you can feel good about and still not feel guilty eating dessert afterwards (as if we ever feel guilty eating dessert around here).
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I went through few different stages throughout cooking this meal. I want to make sure you know how I felt so you don’t worry if the same thing happens to you…specifically referring to #2:
1. {The thought enters my mind.} Ohhh. Tempeh enchiladas with sauce and cheese?? That sounds really good. 
2. {I add the enchilada sauce and cheese to the tempeh as it’s cooking and begin to stir.} Uh oh. What am I doing? This does not look appetizing. But I’m so hungry and I just want to eatttt. Please, oh please taste better than you look, Ugly Mush Concoction.¬†
3. {I poke a fork into the mixture for a tiny taste.} Okay so all might not be lost. I think this actually might turn out pretty well.
4.{The enchiladas are plated, photographed and demolished.} Yup. Uh-huh. That was good. Really good. A vegetarian meal Greg liked too? Success!

Moral of the story? Don’t let the looks of the tempeh mixture deceive you. I’m warning you it’s not the prettiest thing, but once it’s wrapped inside the tortillas you won’t even remember how weird it once looked. All you’ll be thinking is how good it tastes on your tongue.¬†

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If I haven’t scared you off by this point, here’s the recipe!
Tempeh and Cheese Enchiladas 

Makes 4 medium enchiladas 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1-8ounce package tempeh, crumbled (easiest way to do this is in a food processor)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup canned enchilada sauce, divided
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese, divided
4 tortillas (I used whole wheat) 
1/3 of a whole green bell pepper, sliced
1/3 of a whole yellow onion, sliced
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a square cooking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
2. Place olive oil in a large skillet on the stove top and turn to medium heat. Once hot, add crumbled tempeh and cook through while stirring constantly, about 5-7 minutes. Tempeh will become golden brown. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, pepper, and garlic salt to the pan and stir. Add about 1/3 cup of the enchilada sauce and about 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir well to evenly distribute all ingredients.
3. Lay out the tortillas in the baking pan. Use a spoon or spatula to place a quarter of the tempeh mixture into each tortilla and roll tightly. Top each with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. Then top with peppers and onions.
4. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cheese is sizzling and tortillas are golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit about 5-10 minutes to cool before serving.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Scones

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Hi friends! I’m back and ready to roll. I promised you I’d have a delicious recipe for you upon my return today and I living up to that promise. At least I hope you find this as delicious as I do.

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February is right around the corner. You know what that means. Valentine’s Day! I love Valentine’s Day, I really, really do. I realize it’s a “made-up” holiday, but what’s wrong with that? It’s a day to give a little extra attention to the significant other in your life, your friends, your family, whoever! (whomever?)¬†
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As I continue my efforts to improve this here blog o’ mine, I know I need to do a better job of sharing recipes that are¬†relevant¬†and timely. This is something I learned a lot about in school when I wanted to be a journalist. Even as I moved more into the PR/marketing world, the¬†timeliness¬†of a story is key.¬†
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What good is a perfectly adorable chocolate strawberry scone the day after Valentine’s Day? By then, the fad of chocolate and red and pink colored food has passed. People are already thinking about Easter and St. Patrick’s Day.
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Okay, obviously chocolate is acceptable anytime of year and I’ll take something pink anytime as well. But for the sake of my argument, just go with me on this one.¬†
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I’m planning ahead for myself so that you can plan ahead too. This would make the perfect breakfast on Valentine’s Day with the bright red strawberries and sweet rich chocolate – a February 14th must-have. Not to mention it’s easy-peasey and comes together in no time.¬†
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If your loved one “doesn’t like chocolate,” just forgo the final step of dunking the scone into the melty goodness. But don’t be surprised if they then go off and eat the last half of your giant chocolate chip cookie you had been saving for an afternoon snack.

Doesn’t make sense to me either…

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Scones
(Scones adapted from Eat.Live.Run)

Makes 8 scones

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped strawberries (about 5 large berries)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with nonstick spray and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine milk, vanilla and chopped strawberries. Stir and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine flours, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk well. Use a handheld pastry mixture to cut in the cold butter pieces. Continue to blend until butter pieces are cut up and well distributed throughout the mixture.
4. Pour the milk and berry mixture into the dry ingredients. Add sour cream. Using a rubber spatula, stir to combine while scraping down the sides as needed.
5. Set entire batch of dough on the cookie tray and pat down so it’s about 3 inches thick. Use a¬†serrated¬†knife to cut dough into triangles. Separate scones evenly on pan, at least 1-2 inches apart. Bake 14-15 minutes. Remove from oven and leave on pan until completely cooled.
6. Meanwhile, add chocolate to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let chocolate begin to warm for 1-2 minutes then begin to stir continuously until all morsels are melted. One at a time, dip the scones upside down into pan. Gently turn back over and let cool on wire rack or sheet of foil. Let cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

Just Checking In

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Hi friends. I can’t stop thinking about how I need to write a new post, but I keep hitting road blocks. Besides the fact I was out of town until Monday afternoon, working the late shift and have about a thousand wedding to-dos hanging over my head, I don’t have much of an excuse. But those are all good excuses, right?

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Oh yeah, and it’s my birthday tomorrow!!

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At this point, I think it’s best to continue my non-posting streak and take the rest of the week off from blogging.

I will be back next Monday with a fabulous recipe. Deal?

Instagraming.

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Lunch date with my most favoritest sister at Charleston’s Cafe. I’m a little late here – we went over the holidays – but definitely still worth sharing. Best salad I’ve had in a long time, hands down. Salmon, strawberries, sundried tomatoes, cheese (normally served with¬†parmesan,¬†but I subbed goat cheese. They forgot to make the switch originally. No worries. I scooped the parm right off, and threw the goat right on).
Charleston's Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Homemade latte made via one of Greg’s (our) Christmas gifts – a Krups expresso and coffee maker. Served in my new favorite mug, which was a Christmas gift to myself. After using Greg’s ‘G’ all the time, I figured it was time I get my own.
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I think you know what this is. 
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And this. Puppy Wuppy. Excuse me, Princess Puppy Wuppy. 
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I officially declare stuffed baked sweet potatoes one of the best dinners ever. This one was topped with roasted peppers and onions, peas, corn, and salsa. Want another idea? Try this. 
Pencils! Had to hunt down a sharpener in the office but it was worth it. #nerd
Nerd. No further explanation necessary. 
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Chipotle for life. 
Happy Friday!

Cinnamon Banana Crunch Baked Oatmeal

Okay. I promise this is the last baked oatmeal recipe for awhile. 

Promise. Promise. Promise. 




Let’s just say life has been crazy. Lots of traveling and working late shifts has resulted in minimal groceries at home and minimal time to cook. We’ve been eating out more than usual, which has been a pleasant change of pace, but after one final weekend trip for the winter coming up this weekend, I will be able to stock up my¬†cabinets¬†again.¬†




Since I haven’t been able to play much in the kitchen in the past few weeks, I already made a list of the recipes I want to tackle starting next week. I’m pushing myself to cross several of the recipes off my list by the end of February.

Some of the things I’m looking forward to most are: Cinnamon chip blondies, strawberry scones, sweet potato biscuits, and crock pot lasagna.¬†




Baked oatmeal is just as satisfying as those will be…or at least we can pretend ūüėČ Seriously though, this is my new favorite twist on a simple hot bowl of oatmeal. I love the sweetness of the banana and the crunchiness from the granola on top.¬†


Cinnamon Banana Crunch Baked Oatmeal (For One!)

Ingredients:
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/3 cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
1 teaspoon syrup (I used the light variety)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 banana, sliced
Extra sprinkle of cinnamon for topping
1 tablespoon granola

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray small loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, add oats, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda and brown sugar. Whisk thoroughly.
3. In a separate small bowl, add milk, syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined. Add to oat mixture and whisk or stir until all ingredients are well incorporated. Gently fold in sliced bananas and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon.
4. Pour mixture into loaf pan. Bake for 17-18 minutes (oats will become golden brown). Remove from oven and top with granola. Let cool in pan 5-10 minutes. Serve while still hot. 

~About 200 calories for the entire loaf~


Other Baked Oatmeal Varieties:


A Birthday Celebration at Lindey’s

Hi there! I’m back home today after a long weekend in Columbus. Greg, Zoey and I drove up for my step-sister’s wedding, and I also fit in some wedding to-do’s of my own. We had a great time, but as usual, it feels good to be home.

Sunday was Greg’s birthday and with all of the wedding craziness, I wanted to make sure he got some attention on his special day too.

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I woke up early to do a little decorating. Ha. It wasn’t much, but I think Greg liked it.¬†
That evening, we headed downtown for dinner. First, we had to make a pit-stop to see my aunt, uncle and cousins. 
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This little guy will be the ring bearer in our wedding, and his sister will be one (of our two) flower girls. We kept missing each other over the holidays and I figured out it had been more than a year that we’d seen each other. Wayyyy too long!¬†
After spending some time catching up with my aunt and playing with the kids, it was time for dinner.
I always remembered my aunt and uncle going to¬†Lindey’s Restaurant and Bar¬†whenever I would babysit, so I knew it had to be a great choice for our special occasion.¬†
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The Bistro Fries caught my eye right away. The extra thick steak fries were topped with truffle oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Can you say, “Yum.”???
I had done my menu research in advance (duh), so I already had a pretty good idea I wanted to get the ravioli for my entree. 
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This isn’t just any old ravioli. This ravioli is filled with pumpkin and mascarpone and served in a sage-shallot cream sauce with sauteed mushrooms, dried cranberries, swiss chard, parmesan-reggiano and maple cider gastrique.

Need I say more?

Greg had the Baked Orecchiette which, according to the menu, was, “pulled chicken, applewood bacon, spinach, shaved garlic, tomatoes and mornay sauce topped with rosemary-garlic bread crumbs and parmesan-reggiano.”

Unfortunately we only got a blurry picture of that, so it’s not really worth sharing here. But Greg loved the dish. My sister, who finished off our leftovers after we left town, said the Orecchiette was, “to die for!”

Although we were already stuffed, we were told dessert was on the house for the birthday boy! I left it totally up to Greg, knowing he most likely wouldn’t want something super rich or chocolately like I would.

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He chose a slice of Key Lime Pie that we split. The pie filling was delicious, but we both loved the super thick graham cracker crust even more. 
Everything about our dinner was fantastic, from beginning to end. I can see why my aunt loves it so much and I only wish the owners would come open a restaurant here in Charleston. I would be a frequent customer. Big thanks to my Aunt Angela and Uncle Dave who surprised us by calling ahead and treating us to a bottle of wine!
Lindey's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon
I had already declared Sunday a ‘fatty day’ the moment my step-dad picked up doughnuts for breakfast. With wedding cake tasting and that dinner all in the same day, I really didn’t need another bite of anything. But that didn’t stop me from eating a slice of this coconut cake my step-dad made for Greg. It was waiting for us when we got home from dinner and was simply¬†irresistible.
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Gahhhhhh. So good. Thank you, Thom!!
Now back to another week of regularity!
…until next weekend when we travel for another wedding! Yay!