Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Jumbo Shells
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 cloves minced Garlic
4 cups chopped Baby Spinach
12 ounces part skim Ricotta Cheese
1 cup shredded part skim Mozzarella Cheese (plus more for topping)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 large Egg
4-6 leaves finely chopped Basil
Salt and Pepper for taste
1 jar Marinara Sauce
Crushed Red Pepper
Italian Seasoning
Aluminum Foil

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cook shells according to directions. Drain and set aside. Be careful not to break shells.
Sauce:Heat in sauce pan over medium heat. Add crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning to your liking. Pour just enough sauce to cover bottom of 9"x12" glass baking dish.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and let simmer until brown. Saute spinach for ~3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, stir together spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil, salt and pepper. Stuff each shell with mixture and create a single layer of shells in baking dish. Cover with the remaining sauce.

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, add a layer of shredded mozzarella, and back for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy with your favorite wine :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Healthy Vegan Apple Muffins

1 1/2 cup Finely Chopped Apples (I used 3 Granny Smith with peels)
1/3 cup Coconut Oil
1 cup Vanilla Almond Milk
2 tspn Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1/4 cup Canola Oil
1 tspn Vanilla Extract
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 tspn Baking Soda
1 tspn Baking Powder
1/2 tspn Salt
1 tspn Pumpkin Pie Spice, Allspice, or Cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Heat Milk in microwave on high for ~30 seconds. This will prevent the coconut oil from clumping. 
3. Heat Coconut Oil in microwave on high for ~30 seconds or until liquified.
4. Add Vinegar to Milk, stir, and let sit for a few minutes (this makes it like buttermilk).
5. In large bowl, whisk together Coconut Oil, Milk/Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Oil, and Vanilla until smooth.
6. In separate bowl, combine both Flours, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt, and Spices.
7. Add flour mixture to oil mixture and stir until just combined.
8. Fold in apples.
9. Add batter to greased or lined muffin pan. I use coconut oil spray and liners just in case.
10. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. 

Enjoy! Happy Healthy Snacking!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lacto Ovo Vegetarianism: Week 1

This week I officially made the decision to become a lacto-ovo vegetarian. That means that I can eat dairy and eggs; no meat. Or pretty much nothing without a face. Eventually, I will try and cut out eggs all together, but right now I want to make sure I have a good protein source. I am not really a fan of tofu or nuts; I will eventually learn how to like it (once I start expanding on my recipes). Anyways, here is a taste of my work week (Mon-Fri) meal plans...

Breakfast- yogurt with granola, banana, and coffee (I also cut my coffee habit down to 1 cup a day)
Lunch/Snacks-weight gain shake (Ensure Plus Chocolate), baby carrots, craisins, luna bar (chocolate coconut)...I was in the lab all day so I didn't really have time to sit down for lunch so I really just snacked when I could.
Dinner- penne rosa, red wine (cabernet)

Breakfast- yogurt with granola, banana, and coffee (there is a trend)
Lunch/Snacks-leftover penne rosa, water, baby carrots, apple
Dinner- avocado egg salad on a croissant, red wine (cabernet), chocolate coconut milk icecream

Avocado Egg Salad Recipe Here
(I opted out of using greek yogurt)

Breakfast- yogurt with granola, banana, and coffee
Lunch/Snacks- leftover avocado egg salad on a croissant, water, baby carrots, apple
Dinner-caprese panini,  red wine (cabernet)

Caprese Panini Recipe Here
(I didn't use balsamic on mine)

Breakfast- yogurt with granola, banana, and coffee
Lunch/Snacks- leftover penne rosa, Mango smoothie, baby carrots, apple
Dinner-homemade veggie burrito bowl, water

Homemade Veggie Burrito Bowl Recipe to Come :)

Breakfast- yogurt with granola, banana, and coffee
Lunch/Snacks- leftover burrito bowl, baby carrots, water, granola bar (oats and honey)
Dinner-grilled cheese, caesar salad, water

I must say this week went by smoothly. No cheating :) If you're wondering I spent less than $100 in groceries this week and it wasn't all food that I bought. I also liked that I could use the leftover tomatoes from my penne rosa in my panini and then again in my burrito bowl. I also used the left over avocado from my egg salad in my burrito bowl. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Chocolate Chip Bars

Apparently, it was National Chocolate Chip Cookie week, and small confession, I've never actually made a chocolate chip cookie! It was a co-worker's birthday this week and I wanted to try something close to a chocolate chip cookie. I remember my sister always making these chocolate chip bars when we were kids, and they were always so delicious! So, I gave it a whirl. 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine (room temp)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and baking soda. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together margarine and both sugars on medium speed, until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add dry mixture until well-combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in an ungreased 9" x 13" baking pan. Bake 20-25 minutes. Check with toothpick. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes ~20 bars. 


Monday, February 23, 2015

Banana Muffins (with Vegan option)

2 large mashed ripe bananas
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted 
1/2 cup warm milk, (coconut, almond, soy, skim cow)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
coconut oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray non-stick muffin pans with coconut oil cooking spray (I also add liners for aesthetics).

2. In a small bowl, mash the bananas and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, melted coconut oil (1 minute in the microwave), warm milk (30 seconds in microwave), brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk to combine, then fold in the bananas.

5. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour wet mixture into the center. Gently fold dough until all dry bits are gone. Don't overmix . 

6. Fill the muffin pan wells about 2/3 full.

7. Bake for about 15 minutes. Check with toothpick.

8. Allow muffins to cool in pan for about 10 minutes before carefully turning out onto wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 18 muffins.

Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. 

Happy and Healthy Snacking!

Friday, February 13, 2015

DIY Valentine's Day Card

Thumb Bunny Loves You!

Blank Note Cards
Black Ink Stamp Pad
Thin Sharpies

I was at Target and saw a card like this. A few thoughts went through my head. 1.) This card is perfect from me - I am a proud owner of 2 rescued buns (see pictures below) and the fingerprint goes along with my background in Forensics (I personally prefer DNA though). 2.) It came in a pack of 8 and I only needed to send a card to a few people. 3.) I t was kind of pricey. 4.) I can make this - I have all the materials at home!

It's really simple, you stick your thumb in ink and stamp the center of the note card. I let the ink dry overnight so that there was no smudging. The next day I used my artistic skills to draw bunnies (using my own as models of course) and then tried really hard to keep my handwriting neat. On the inside of the card I wrote Happy Valentine's Day, but you can also save these for Easter - just change the greeting!

Reading time!

Chewy Heart-Shaped Granola Bars

1 cup sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
2 oz 60% cacao dark chocolate
coconut oil spray

This makes about 21 heart-shaped bars

In a medium pot over low-medium heat, melt sunflower seed butter, honey, and coconut oil.
Stir until smooth and blended.

I'm not usually a person who gets things from infomercials, but these pots are the best!

Next, stir in oats, shredded coconut, and craisins.
Mix thoroughly.

Grease a 9" x 13" pan with coconut cooking spray.
Pour mix and spread evenly.
Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Use cookie cutter to cut heart shapes (may need to incorporate a mallet to get through mix - especially the craisins - see picture below).
Re-mold the leftover granola into a sheet again and re-cut shapes until you've used all that you can (I put the sheet back in the refrigerator for a bit to harden the granola up again).

I wrapped the mallet in plastic wrap to keep things clean
Also, nail polish color is "A Like-Haley Story" from Nicole by OPI

I moved the hearts to a cookie sheet

Break chocolate into a microwave safe bowl - follow melting directions.
This is 4 ounces of chocolate because I made 2 batches (that's 42 hearts - that's a lot of love!)

Drizzle chocolate over hearts. 

Put back in refrigerator until chocolate hardens (about 10 minutes).

Ready to eat!


For storage: if layering, put a layer of plastic wrap between bars.
Store in an airtight container.
I keep my bars in the refrigerator so they aren't melty. 

Happy healthy snacking!
The reason the plate is that way is because it is of Lake George (in NY)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

H1Z1 vs DayZ

It's been a while since I posted about video games, so here you go!

I just started playing both H1Z1 and DayZ. Both games are in their early development stages and both very similar. They are both MMO's set in a zombie apocalyptic world. You can read more about them by clicking on the game links below....

And just for fun here is a link to a twitch user who plays both games a lot and very well...

To start, I created a table below (because I'm a nerd and love Excel) with a quick comparison of the games. I also threw in DayZ Alpha information, but I haven't played that version. 

Now, here's more on my personal opinion (I made a list because I LOVE LISTS):
1. I like the concept behind both games. 
2. You start out with basically nothing but the clothes on your back, a flashlight, and in H1Z1 you also have flares and gauze. 
3. Both games spawn you randomly in a zombie apocalyptic world; DayZ's map is currently larger. Both games are easier to navigate if you have access to the maps on another tab or a second monitor (H1Z1 map and DayZ map). Since H1Z1 is in English it is easier for me to navigate and meet up with other players. With DayZ, I was basically trying to find the coast and based on its shape I could figure out where I was until I started getting familiar with the map, but the map is huge so it's definitely going to take a while before I know every location that's not on the coast. 
4. I like that you can craft things in both maps, but I love that you can craft a bow at the start of H1Z1, so you have immediate protection. There is also more access to berries and water. I died more in DayZ by not having food/water than anything else. 
5. I like in DayZ that you can jump servers and keep your gear. Some servers have a lot of loot, while others have near to none. In H1Z1 you can get loot off the zombies you kill, which based on rumors the loot comes from other players who were killed by zombies and turned. 
6. In both games it is very common to be killed/betrayed by other players. It's a lot more common in H1Z1 because the map is smaller and you can run into dozens of people at once. 
7. I hate DayZ glitches!!! The zombies can attack you through walls, your gear randomly disappears, and I've had to wait out and die because my character kept getting stuck in buildings!!! All my loot gone!!!
8. In DayZ you can customize your character in the beginning, and in H1Z1 everyone looks the same.
9. Overall, I see H1Z1 being better especially because the developers goal was to take the bones of DayZ and make it better - they are constantly improving the game. Either way, I am having fun with both. 

And to end this post, since I am no game expert, I also added some links (and a video) that go more in depth with the game comparisons. Enjoy!!!



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural peanut butter 
(make sure you mix the oil in the peanut butter thoroughly as natural peanut butters tend to separate)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Combine dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
3. Add applesauce, vanilla extract, and peanut butter and mix thoroughly
4. Roll into 1 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet
5. Bake for 8 minutes
6 Let cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack
7. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with String - Christmas Version

 Refer to THIS BLOG POST for my original design!

Modification from original:
Added tiny Christmas ornaments
Added brighter tag found at Target

DIY Gift Card Holders

I know the pictures make this seem a bit late (since mine were for Christmas gifts), but you can modify these for any occasion! My idea for the gift card holders started with me trying to figure out what to do with all my wedding craft leftovers (wildflower seed packet favors and save the date wood magnets). Hence, the rustic design. 

-Wood Slices (mine were from a tree fallen from a storm)
-Stamp and Ink
-Snowflake Stickers
-Silver String
-Fine tip sharpies
-Fabric Leaves
-Coin envelope/mini flat gift bag found in $1 bin at craft stores
-hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
-scotch tape

Rustic Gift Card Holder:
1. Put gift card in coin envelope. It'll be a pain to try to get in it after.
2. Add rustic stamp to right side. I chose a bunny. 
3. Wrap hemp around envelope 4x one way, then change directions and wrap around 4x the other way. Tie off.
4. Wrap stem of leaf at hemp intersection. Have leaf go towards left (or opposite of your stamped side)
5. Hot glue wood slice to center (over intersection of hemp and leaf stem). This will help keep everything together.
6. I used sharpies to add a greeting to the wood slice.

Snowflake Gift Card Holder:
1. Insert gift card into mini bag
2. Add snowflake stickers to front side closest to bag opening
3. Wrap silver string around bag tightly
4. Secure string and close bag with scotch tape
5. Add to/from with sharpies

Happy Gifting/Crafting!