Food

Review of Pumpkin & Ricotta Stuffed Shells = Awesome! :)

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These were fantastic!  Everyone loved them, including the two and a half year old!  They took a little while to make since you have to stuff each shell but it was worth it!  I also added shredded mozzarella cheese to the top for the last 5 minutes of baking!  Great recipe!  It made a lot so we also had lunch for the next two days and it was just as good on day 2 and 3!  Highly recommend this one!

Pumpkin & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

 

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (about 40 shells)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin
2 cups (16-ounces) whole-milk ricotta
1 egg
1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons finely chopped sage
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (25.25-ounce) jar tomato basil pasta sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta shells according to package directions until just al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool completely. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, ricotta, egg, 1 cup of Pecorino cheese, garlic, sage, salt and pepper.

Divide sauce evenly among two 9″ x 13″ baking dishes. Fill each shell with the pumpkin-cheese mixture and arrange shells in baking dishes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Unbaked shells can also be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Allow shells to stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve topped with remaining Pecorino cheese.

Recipe from Delallo.

Read more at http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2013/02/pumpkin-ricotta-stuffed-shells.html

Quotes

Optimism Is the Key to a Balanced Life

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This is probably one of the most true and honest quotes I have come across in a while.  What ever you are is what your life is going to be.  I know this, yet I continue to let things bother me and I continue to get angry and therefore I continue to be stressed.  Life is not easy, we all know that.  The key is to not dwell on the negatives and to be optimistic.  We all have to remain optimistic that tomorrow can be better than today was.  Today I will choose to be optimistic.

life · Quotes

Balance – Trying to Get Rid of Worry

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Stress relief is what I need!  Right now – and  a LOT of it! I am going on a run tonight but for some reason I feel like it may not be enough today…

Mainly it is my job that is stressful right now.  We are looking at quite a few layoffs happening from my office due to a large budget deficit and I am very nervous about it all.  I really don’t feel that I have anything to be worried about but I am still worried anyway!

Now I know all the quotes on worry there are out there…  see a few above but it really doesn’t help me feel better… 😦

Now I know that at this point, there is nothing I can do to help make the outcome any different from what it is going to be in this case.  I work hard and I believe that my position is valuable and that it is needed but if the leaders of my organization don’t think so, than they just don’t and there isn’t anything I can do right now to make them change their minds.  Worrying about it is not going to accomplish anything but I can’t stop doing the worrying!

So in the meantime, while we all wait a month plus to see who they are going to layoff I need to find something I can do to distract myself from the worry!  I am open to ideas!  I workout a lot (running 3 days a week and body weight exercise 2 times a week plus lots of walking everyday – 10,000+ steps) and I don’t drink so other ideas that work for you!  Please and thank you!

 

 

Food

Balance – Keeping it Interesting – 6 Smart Ways to Step Up Your Salad Game From About Health!

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Summertime is almost here and we all know that cooking a hot meal to eat becomes not so appetizing.  Salads become a staple in my house when the weather gets warm.  They are so easy to make and can add a lot of nutrition to your day if done right but they can also get boring after a while!  I like these ideas for keeping salads interesting!

1.  When Leafy Met Scoopy

One way to make a salad more satisfying? Make it big. A way to make it REALLY big? Combine two salads into one! No, I’m not suggesting you layer a Cobb salad over a Caesar salad. I’m talking about topping a bed of chopped romaine or iceberg lettuce with a scoopable, deli-style salad. Your meal will have the creamy tastiness of the scoopy salad with the filling aspect of the leafy greens. Plus, no need for dressing! But don’t hit the deli for that scoopable salad… Those are often loaded with fat. Make your own scoopy salad with reduced-fat condiments and lean meats or seafood.

I do this at work a lot at the salad bar!  Our dressing choices are not great and this trick saves me a lot of calories and fat and tastes great!

2.  Turn Last Night’s Dinner into Today’s Lunch

Another great way to make a salad that’s not a snoozefest? Incorporate another meal you love! You’d be surprised at how good leftovers taste when they’re tossed into a salad. If you made meatloaf, crumble it up, and use it as the protein on your salad. Or add fajita veggies ‘n chicken to your greens. Look at you… Creative and thrifty!

You can also use your favorite recipes as inspiration. Cheeseburger salad, taco salad… I can picture ’em now! And I can really picture salads inspired by beef teriyaki and Hawaiian pizza, because I’ve made them!

I like doing this with left over fish or chicken.  I also use leftover cheese and beans and really any vegetables that I didn’t end up using all up for a recipe.  Works great!  You never know what kind of salad you are going to get doing it this way!

3.  Get Colorful

Challenge yourself to use as many colors in the produce section as possible. The more you use, the more nutritious your salad will be… and the BIGGER it will be! Another plus is that seeking out colors will lead you to NEW fruits and veggies: beets, yellow squash, purple cabbage, mandarin oranges, blueberries, pomegranate seeds… Have fun!

I need to do this more with fruit!  Salad and fruit are still two different worlds for me but I think it is time that they come in together and be one!  I always try to get different colored peppers and spring mix greens and tomatoes.  I will also add corn and beets occasionally if I have them left over.

4.  Swap Out the Dressing

Even light dressing can add a lot of calories to your salad, if you’re not careful. The serving size listed on most bottles is 2 tablespoons, but that’s a pretty small amount… especially if you like mega-sized salads like I do. That’s why I like to use fun low-calorie alternatives. Drizzle your greens with flavored vinegars: both balsamic and seasoned rice vinegars are often available in tasty fruity flavors. Another option? Salsa! So much yum, and there are tons of options on shelves: mild, spicy, Southwest… even pineapple!

I have done this with salsa and vinegar before and it tastes great!  You don’t even know that you are missing the real dressing!

5.  Up the CRUNCH factor!

If you can’t hear yourself eating your salad, you’re doing it wrong. Low-cal crispy add-ins will make your salad 62 percent more satisfying and fun. Plus, getting creative with your crunch will help you avoid the dreaded crouton. I LOVE broccoli cole slaw — use it as a base, or mix it with the lettuce. Other low-cal crunchies? Apples, bell peppers, and sugar snap peas. I’ve even been known to use high-fiber bran cereal as a swap for fried noodles and crushed baked tortilla chips instead of fried tortilla strips.

Great idea to add bran cereal and broccoli cole slaw!  I add nuts to my salads a lot too for crunch.  Apples would be good too!  Back to the fruit and salad combo again!

6.  Ban the Stuff You Hate, and Get Creative!

Your salad’s not the boss of you! If you avoid salads because you hate spinach, replace it with chopped romaine. If you can’t bring yourself to hop on the kale bandwagon, don’t add kale. Nobody’s making you! Do you think that house-salad staples, like tomatoes and shredded carrots, are played out? Try something new! Toss in some roasted Brussels sprouts, steamed bok choy, or freeze-dried edamame.

Totally agree!  If you don’t like something, you don’t have to eat it.  Try something else! 

Food

Review of Baked Honey Berry Oatmeal

I got really into cooking this weekend and I had good luck with my choices.  This recipe turned out great too!
The only thing is that it took about 45 minutes in the oven before it set up.  Might be because I used old fashioned oats and not quick oats but it was good after the longer time in the oven.  Here’s to a easy breakfast for the week!
Baked Berry Oatmeal
Prep time
10 mins
Cook time
15 mins
Total time
25 mins
Healthy, delicious, and filling! This baked oatmeal is chock full of berries, pecans, and the perfect amount of sweetness.
Author: Apple of My Eye
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Dry Mixture:
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • Wet Mixture:
  • 2 cups nonfat milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsps honey
  • 1½ tbsp melted butter
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • ¼ cup pecans, separated
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a seperate bowl whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, honey, and butter.
  4. Layer half the berries in a 2 quart baking dish and top evenly with the dry oat mixture. Pour on the wet mixture, then add the rest of the berries on top along with the roughly chopped pecans.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the oats have absorbed the liquid. Serve hot or cold!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th recipe Calories: 310 Fat: 10g Saturated fat: 2.5g Carbohydrates: 53g Sodium: 165mg Fiber: 4.2g Protein: 9g Cholesterol: 70mg
Food

Review of Sweet Corn, Zucchini and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza

This weekend was pretty crazy!  Saturday morning my husband and I ran in the 5k for the Bay race that the Chesapeake Bay Trust did.  I set a PR for myself and it was a great race!  The race was held at a beautiful park and the weather was perfect so this was one of the best 5k races I have been in!

After the race, we went home and worked outside gardening the rest of the day and then went grocery shopping late.  After a healthy day of plenty of hard work, I wanted to eat something filling, healthy and easy so I decided to make the Sweet Corn, Zucchini and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza.

I thought this recipe was great!  It was super easy but this was partially because I cheated and bought a already made crust so I can only say that the toppings were great (not sure on the recipe for the crust!).  I just ran out of time and didn’t feel like making the crust.  Next time I make this, I will probably make the crust myself!  This is not your typical pizza but if you are in the mood to try something new, try this recipe!  Corn on pizza is actually great and not as weird as it sounds!

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Yield: serves 4 appropriately, 2 obnoxiously

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

dough
1 1/8 cups warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

pizza
1 large zucchini
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 ears sweet corn on the cob, kernels removed
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
a bunch of fresh basil leaves
balsamic glaze for drizzling

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, honey and olive oil. Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in 2 1/2 cups flour and salt, stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but is still sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work in the additional 1/2 cup flour, kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes. Rub the same bowl with olive oil then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1-1 1/2 hours.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and place it back on the floured surface. Using a rolling pin or your hands, form it into your desired shape (sometimes I use baking sheets and do rectangles or free form pizzas – this specific dough will yield one pizza large enough to feed about 3-4 people) and place on a baking sheet or pizza peel. Place the towel back over the dough and let sit in the warm place for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. (If I use my pizza stone, I heat my oven to 475 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. If you’re just using a baking sheet, follow the directions below for baking and set to 425 degrees.)

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Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add olive oil. Add the zucchini and garlic to the skillet and toss well to coat. Season with the salt and pepper and stirring occasionally, cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the vegetables soften.

Brush the pizza dough with the olive oil. Take the corn kernels and sliced zucchini and place it all over the dough, layering it up however you want. Place the sliced mozzarella on top. Add a few basil leaves if you want, but I like to save them for when the pizza comes out. Bake the pizza for 20 to 25 minutes – or however long it takes until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and cover with a sprinkling of basil leaves. Drizzle with a generous glug of balsamic glaze. Eat!