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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Manicotti with Sam!

Good Evening!  I hope you all had a productive Wednesday!  I know I did.  Mark and my dinner tonight was nothing really all to special!  We made Trader Joe's Spanakopita, 
We also had some froze ravioli.  I topped peas and corn with a few ravioli.
And we enjoyed this bottle of wine
Which by the way if you are a big wine drinker I highly recommend getting a case of wine from Trader Joe's!  They have a wonderful selection of wine, and some of the really good ones are super cheap!  Mark and I could get a case of wine for less then $100!  We make our wine shopping into part of a date night, Mark gets to pick for bottles, I pick four bottles, and then we get four more that we agree on!  To be honest I usually pick my four by the bottle, or the funny name!  We have had our fare share of good wines, and some that we have vowed to never get again! 

Anyways I would like to introduce you all to my dear friend Sam! Her boyfriend Ryan and adorable Bulldogs Wrigley and Addison live in Chicago!  Sam always used to be the Domestic Diva in college, she was always making some great dinners!  I think she needs to start a blog called the Domestic Diva!  

I wills to rambling and give the flour to Sam also known as SAAAAAAM who is going to talk about her fabulous Manicotti!  Take it away Sam!

Hello!  My name is Sam and I am very excited to be a guest blogger on Hilliary's site.  I love to cook but wish I had some more time.  I just finished coaching and decided that I wanted to make a great meal for Ryan and I.  With our busy schedules I am very happy to have some time to cook for us.  I love pasta because I am not a big meat eater.  I have been getting tired of your typical pasta or tortellini so I decided to make Manicotti.  My mom gave me this recipe and it is fabulous!  This takes about an hour and a half to cook / prepare, but it is definitely worth it!  The pictures are a bit blurry but still shows what it should turn out like!


16 - No boil lasagna noodles (I recommend Barilla)
3 cups - Ricotta Cheese (I bought that uses skim milk - fewer calories)
1/2 cup - Grated Parmesan
1 Cup - Sargento Reduced Fat Italian Blend (You can use mozzarella cheese, but this is a healthier option)
2 eggs
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Any type you would like.  At my grocery store I get Maggianos Marinara.  They have started carrying the Maggiano's bottles so I HIGHLY recommend trying these.  They are a bit more expensive, but very flavorful!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Mix the ricotta, Parmesan, and Italian blend in a bowl.  
2.  Add the 2 eggs and mix. 
3. Add the salt and pepper.  
4. Mix well and put off to the side.
Preparing the noodles
1.  In a separate pan, add boiling water and fill the pan to an inch.
2.  Add the no boil noodles in and let them sit for five minutes
3.  Depending on the size of the dish do not add too many at a time.  I did about four at a time.

Putting it together
1. Grease a 9X13 baking dish
2.  Spread about 1 1/2 cups of sauce to the bottom of the dish.
3. After the noodles have been in the water, dry off (only take out a few at a time, otherwise they will crack)
4.  Spread the filling on about 3/4 of the noodle.  Start rolling from the top down (or wherever you started the filling).  I used a little bit of filling to help keep the roll together
5. Put the new roll in the baking dish
6.  Continue until all of the noodles have been used (between 14-16)
7.  Once the manicotti are all in the dish add more sauce on top of them.  **In the picture you will see four are without sauce.  Ryan is not a big sauce fan so I just drizzled them in olive oil**
8. Cover with foil and bake for forty minutes
9.  After the forty minutes are up take off the foil and sprinkle some Parmesan on the manicotti.
10. Broil until bubbles/light brown
11. Take out of the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
Done!  Enjoy this meal!

Enjoy your night!  We are off to watch Zac Brown Band and plan a menu for the boat trip!  Goodnight, and remember to live Happily Ever Healthy

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Way to a Mans Heart

You have heard the old saying, that a way to a mans heart is through his stomach!  I am not sure if this is true in Mark and my case.  The first time I ever cooked for Mark I decided to pull out all the stops!  I mean I wanted a dish that was impressive, I knew tasted good, and that I was good at making.  You are probably thinking I made him my Pasta with Olive Oil and Veggies right?  WRONG!  I made him stuffed shells.  I still remember this conversation vividly.  I had asked Mark what he liked to eat; he said the usual things like chicken, pasta, and on that list he said he loved cheese!  Bingo what better thing to make then pasta shells stuffed to the brim with a cheese and spinach mixture topped with a dusting of cheese and baked to a bubbling perfection (yes my side lacked the mounds of cheese this night :) ).  

I was excited the entire day of work, I had made a grocery list of everything that I would need.  I also had the perfect wine in mind that would pair well with pasta!  Off the top of my head I can't remember the wine but I remember it was a dry white one.  I rushed from work to the gym and to the grocery store people must have thought I was a mad women, but I was that excited!  I love nothing more then cooking for people, and this particular night I was cooking for someone I liked!  I was a bit nervous because after all this was the first time cooking for Mark!  I wanted everything to be perfect, and made sure to give myself enough time to cook and get cleaned up.  The stuffed shells turned out amazing.  I was happy as a clam with the way they turned out, and how well the presentation/taste was.  Mark even seemed to enjoy them,  we even boxed up the leftovers for him to take home!

However here is the real kicker of this story, Mark does not even like stuffed shells!  But he did not have the guts to tell me he did not because he did not want to hurt my feelings!  You see Mark loves cheese, but the one cheese he does not like is Ricotta which is what makes the entire stuffing of these stuffed shells!  I actually did not find out Mark did not like stuffed shells till months later, when he was finally comfortable admitting the truth!  I guess food isn't the only way to a mans heart must have been my goofy comments, and weird personality that hooked him!  Oh and don't forget about the great facial expressions!  
Anyways lets discuss dinner tonight!  I did an undone and healthy version of stuffed shells.  You will be shocked to know that this recipe only has 1/4 cup of actual shredded cheese.  The real creaminess in this pasta sauce comes from pureed white kidney beans!  A few vegan blogs I read talked about how they use hummus in their pasta to up the creaminess factor.  I decided tonight to give this a shot!  I also loaded my undone stuffed shells with lots of veggies, and spices to maintain the flavor.  This pasta dish also has no added oil.  I simply water sauteed my vegetables.  This way you get a nice cook vegetable without all the added oil.  You lose no flavor by not adding oil, but you do not lose out on taste!

Here is what you will need:
Undone Stuffed Shells, 
1 1/2 Cups Pasta 
1/4 Cup Cottage Cheese (instead of ricotta)
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup White Kidney Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 Cup Fresh Spinach 
1/2 Cup Brussel Sprouts Chopped (I used 4 Brussel Sprouts)
1/2 Cup Onion 
1/2 Cup Pasta Sauce of Choice (I used Trader Joe's Original Marinara) 
2 Cloves of Garlic
Black Pepper, Basil, and Cayenne Pepper to taste

Here is what you will do:
Start by getting a pot of water boiling for your pasta, and preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Once your water is boiling add your pasta and cook until Al Dente.  Drain pasta and  return to pot.  While your pasta is cooking chop up your veggies and start to saute them.  I used about 3 tablespoons of water to saute the veggies.  I started by sauteing my onion and garlic till the onion was translucent and the garlic was fragrant.  
I then added my brussels sprouts and cooked until tender.  
Last to be added to the veggie mix was the spinach.  Add spinach one handful at a time and cook the vegetable mixture till spinach is wilted (about 2 minutes).  
When the veggies were done I combined my 1/4 cup cottage cheese, 2 tablespoons of the parmesan, and the 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.  I threw in my spices (black pepper, basil and Cayenne pepper) and set to work pureeing the beans.  
I drained and rinsed my beans and measured out 1 cup.  I then put them in my hand held blender cup with a tablespoon of water, pepper, basil, cayenne pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. 

 I blended the beans until they had a nice smooth consistency.  The beans should look something like this, 
Now add your bean puree to your cheese and sauce mixture, 
and stir well to combine.
Grab your pasta pot, and add your veggies on top of the pasta.
Then spoon your sauce over the noodles and veggies and give everything a good mix.  You want all the vegetables and noodles to be covered in the sauce.

Pour your pasta into a baking dish, and top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.  Bake in your 350 degree oven till heated through, and the cheese on top becomes melty.  I baked my pasta for about 15-20 minutes.  
While I waited for my pasta to be done I cut up my apple and got my grapefruit ready for dinner.  I was excited to see if the bean puree really would make my baked pasta creamy.  I could hardly wait to try the pasta, and as soon as my timer went off I was ready to serve up my plate!

The pasta was not dry, and maintained a smooth texture.  I was impressed with how the beans added flavor and creaminess to this dish.  Adding pureed beans to my baked pasta is a great option for me since I am not a huge fan of all the cheese.  I also liked the fact that the pureed beans gave this dish an additional punch of protein!  I am always a huge fan of spinach in baked pasta, so the addition of brussels sprouts was an added bonus!  I am going to keep this recipe on hand for easy week night suppers.  I feel you could use any vegetable you prefer, I just used what I had on hand!  What  a great success in the kitchen this was tonight!  

I am off to relax and prepare for a meeting I have tomorrow!  Looks like this cool weather will be around for a little while longer!  Morning oats here I come!  Enjoy your monday night and remember to live Happily Ever Healthy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stir Fry For A Crowd!

Good Afternoon! I hope your ready for an amazing stir fry recipe!  Yesterday we went to the farmers market in Dayton and picked some incredibly fresh produce for our Mothers Day stir fry.  Stir fry is one of Mark's specialties and is a great go to recipe for us.  The nice thing is you can load your stir fry with any type of veggie combination you like.  We usually always have a red pepper, onion and corn.  Sometimes we throw in carrots, green beans, and water chestnuts.  We also usually make our stir fry incredibly spicy!  Sometimes the spice is unbearable, but the outcome is always enjoyable!  

This is a great and versatile recipe, that turns out a little different every time!  Thats what makes stir fry so much fun!  If you have veggies that are on there last leg and you need to use them  whip up a quick veggie packed stir fry!  So are you ready for the recipe? Lets get started turning this
into this...
Doesn't that look yummy!  This stir fry was very colorful and loaded with lots of veggies just the way that I like stir fry!!

Here is what you need-But remember you can use your favorite veggies too!
1 Red Bell Pepper (green and yellow peppers work too!  I just love the bright red color!)
1/2 Medium Onion
1 large handful of Shredded Carrots looked like 1/2 cup - I know I never measure!
1-1/12 cup Sugar Snap Peas (ours were fresh from the farmers market-so fresh! We had bought 3 large handfuls)
1/2 cup corn 
1 can water chestnuts drained
2 Chicken Breasts
Brown Rice (we made enough today for 6 people)
Teriyaki sauce of choice- we used half a bottle of-pick our favorite
chili oil
sesame oil 
light soy sauce
A dash of Red pepper Flakes, pepper, and salt

I started by chopping up the pepper, onion, and trimming the snap peas.  While I got this ready...
Mark was busy preparing the chicken.  He first cleaned the chicken and then cut the chicken breast into bite size pieces.  

Mark then seasoned the chicken with this... Thats Korean Teriyaki Sauce, Light Soy Sauce, Fire Oil, and toasted sesame oil.  There was also a dash of Red Pepper flakes in the mix!

Now your chicken should look like this!
Mix your chicken and sauce so every piece of chicken is nicely coated!
Now that your prep work is done get your brown rice a cooking!  Non instant brown rice needs about 30 minutes to fully cook.  The sooner you start the rice the sooner you can be enjoying a delicious meal!  We cooked the rice according to the package directions.  You can simply get your rice going and then start assembling the rest of the meal.
I started by sauteing the veggies in about a tablespoon of sesame oil.  The sesame oil was a nice change from  olive oil.  I started by heating the oil and cooking the onions till fragrant.
I then added the rest of the veggies with a dash of pepper.  
Look at all those colors!  Cook until the veggies are tender about 10 minutes.  While I worked on the veggies Mark got to work on the chicken!
This is going to be really good!  The chicken took about 15 minutes.  Be sure to make sure bigger pieces are fully cooked!  I added the water chestnuts to the veggies right before we stirred in the chicken!
Your getting closer to enjoying a fabulous meal!
Now add your chicken to your veggie medley like so

Add your teriyaki sauce, and soy sauce to taste.  When we make stir fry we tend to do a lot of test tasting and not a lot of measuring!

Stir to combine all this goodness together.  Let your mixture heat for another 5 minutes.  This lets all the flavors meld together, and allows your sauce to thicken a bit!
Now plate your meal and enjoy!
I added a little extra chili oil on my rice, I wanted mine spicy today!  The flavor was excellent, and I really enjoyed the fresh sugar snap peas.  They retained their nice crisp texture even after cooked.  The water chestnuts were a nice texture addition too!  Mark and I both agreed that this stir fry was much more colorful then ones we usually make at home.  Next time we make stir fry I want to make my own teriyaki sauce.  I will need to do a little experimenting with that though!  I may have to talk to my dad about what he usually does.   Stay posted for that!  I am off to relax a bit before Mark and I head back to Indianapolis.  Mark and I will be discussing dinner options for the week.  I want to have recipe ideas before I go grocery shopping!  I am thinking a Trader Joe's run maybe in my future this week.  I am running out of Bananas, mornings just wouldn't run smoothly without bananas in my oatmeal!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!  Happy Mothers day!  And remember to live Happily Ever Healthy

And just for fun here is a picture from the Derby Yesterday!

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day Mom!
This is one of my favorite pictures of my mom and I,  this picture was taken this past year on my birthday!  And no we did not plan on matching, we just have a way of sometimes wearing the same color!

My mom has always been there for me.  She has been a strong support system ever since I was a little girl.  She always seemed to know what to do and seemed to always have the answers.  However as I got older she sat back and let me make my own decisions.  And while I may not have always made the best decisions, my mom was always there supporting me.  

Despite the fact that I live 9 hours away from home, I feel that we have grown closer.  And I enjoy knowing that no matter what I do she will always be there for me.

My mom did everything in her power to help make my dreams come true.  I was a dancer my entire life, and my mom was there every step of the way.  For years she drove me the hour and a half to the Twin Cities for ballet lessons.  She has been there through the good and bad, and was there as a shoulder to cry on when my world seemed to be crashing down.  As I am transitioning into a new phase of my life she constantly is reminding me to stay positive, and to remember that there is a plan.  

Here are a few things I love about my mother. 
She is patient, and lord knows with me as a daughter she had to be!  She is supportive, even if she doesn't think I am making the right decision she.  She is always thinking of others, and how she can make someone else's day a bit better.  She is a wonderful quilter.  She is a great shopping partner!  She has away of looking at something negative and always seems to pull something positive from it.

Thank You Mom for all you do and have done for me!  I love you!
Happy Mothers Day

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Great Quote

The new tea I bought at Trader Joe's this past weekend has these great little quotes on each tea bag.  I particularly loved this one.  It goes something like this, "The trust that others place in you is grace."  The quote had no author it was simply that tiny message.  I really liked it because I try to be as caring and kind to everyone that I come in contact with.  

I seriously debated having oatmeal for dinner tonight, that would have been the 3rd time today!  I opted for a loaded bowl of yogurt and some left over baked beans.  I know odd combination!  But they both tasted great, from what I could tell!

I have no real big recipes for you today, since all I have eaten is oatmeal!  Although this afternoons oatmeal was particularly yummy!  

I had a bowl of oats (steel cut) with blueberries, raspberries, a half a banana, peanut butter  puffins and a tablespoon of Better n' peanut butter.  I am seriously in love with that stuff!  

This peanut butter is lower in fat and sodium then normal peanut butter, and has about half the calories.  Better n' Peanut butter also has a smooth creamy texture.  Better N' Peanut Butter also isn't very salty which I enjoy.  This peanut butter melts perfectly over a warm bowl of oats! So good!  I added a little splenda to this bowl, the berries seemed a bit tart to me!

I have been thinking up a few recipes in my head, including Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers (with Cous Cous) and fillings to go inside Crepes.  I also want to come up with a great green bean recipe, since I bought a giant bag of green beans at Trader Joe's!  This is what I thought about most of the day.  I can't wait to be able to taste things again! 

Stay tuned for more, and remember to live Happily Ever Healthy 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Rainy Day! Smoothie Steel Cut Oats

Good Morning Everyone!  And Happy rainy Sunday here in Indianapolis.  Once again the rain is back, at least right now there is no torrential down pour going on outside!  Lets hope the sun comes out a bit later, wouldn't that be nice?

I slept better last night, only waking up once when my cold medicine wore off.  While I am not feeling 100% better, I can feel the end of this cold or whatever I have hopefully coming to an end!  I would like to not have to spend another week hacking up a lung, I am ready to run.  Don't get me wrong all forms of cardio I love, but I am starting to miss my long mind clearing runs (running is hard to do when your all stuffed up)!

When I woke up this morning (before my alarm) I knew I wanted Steel Cut Oats for breakfast, and I knew I wanted to load them with as many fresh ingredients as possible.  Preferably fruits with lots of vitamins and nutrients to help my body fight this cold off!  I knew that adding cut up fruit on top of my oatmeal would be easy.  However this is something I do often, I wanted something different with a little twist!  With my eyes still half shut (since I hadn't enjoyed my freshly brewed coffee)

I scanned the kitchen for an idea.  Suddenly my eyes landed on my Cuisinart hand blender that was sitting out!  A light bulb suddenly came on in my mind, why not combine a smoothie and oats!

I quickly ran to the fridge pulled out my almond milk, the rest of my fresh strawberries, and half a banana, and my prepared steel cut oats.  I dumped the oats in a pot and started heating them on low and then set to work on this smoothie of mine!

For the smoothie I sliced up half a banana, 5 strawberries, and 1/4 cup almond milk.  I simply put them in a cup, and used the handy dandy hand blender to turn this,

into this,

I didn't even need to add sugar, the combination of the banana and strawberries was sweet enough as is!  I waited for my oats to heat up a bit before pouring half the prepared smoothie straight into the pot with my oats.  I stirred to combine and let the smoothie and oat mixture heat up for another 2 minutes.  As a final touch I added a pinch of splenda, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, and of course 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter for a little protein!

Now thats a breakfast of champions, Smoothie oats, with Gloria Jean Buttered Toffee K-cup (my favorite), and the remaining smoothie on the side.

Breakfast was just what I wanted this morning, and had tons of nutrients to help me feel better!  Strawberries are packed with good for you fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin c.  I found that just 8 strawberries alone have more vitamin c then an orange!  WOW!  And need I mention the health benefits of the Blueberry, sometimes refereed to as the super fruit!  These little berries are packed full of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and iron.

Now that breakfast is done,

the time has come for me to get ready for the day.  I have a long list of things to do today, including church, lunch with Kalyn, a trip to Trader Joe's, Target (I am out of almost everything) and dinner with Mark!  There maybe a bike ride in there today if the weather decides to cooperate.  Stay tuned for a later post!  Enjoy your Sunday, hopefully here in Indianapolis the rain will decide to stop!

Remember to live Happily Ever Healthy!

Question of the day: How do you spend your Sundays?  Are they busy running errands, or do you like to have a relaxing day?