Knowledge Nugget // Snacking

I’ve taken many rides on the weight-loss, healthy eating, get fit train. I can think of plenty reasons (which may sound like excuses to you) for why I am where I am… being tied to a desk from 9:00-5:00, our combination of busy schedules, exhaustion from not being in shape, which leads to more laziness. There it is, full circle! I’ve hit a low. I’m tired of being tired, of not enjoying my closet, of feelin guilty for eating what I know I shouldn’t. And I know I can change that.

I appreciate the lows, the wake up calls where our minds are changed and our desires get in line with our actions.

Along with other things, like waking up early, I am limiting my sweet treats, while also choosing healthy portions & snacks. Using MyFitnessPal makes it incredibly easy to scan the food I eat and keep track of what actually goes in my mouth! At the beginning, I easily become too focused on inputting food information, but I plan to allow this tool to help instead of hinder my process. Make the effot. Input what you can. Let go of what you can not.

As long as you are thinking about the effects of your choices, you’re on the right train.

So, snacking… My favorite! In order to avoid the growing, communal candy drawer at work, D came up with the idea to make trailmix! Individually packed, salty & sweet mid-day treats that are 2/3rd healthy and 1/3rd heck yes! So far, these little snack packs have been filling and just what the diet-doctor ordered!

Peanuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, toasted wheat cereal, pretzel crumbles, semi-sweet morsels, yogurt covered raisins, m&m’s - which alternate between regular and peanut butter…

Trail Mix IngredientsSnack PacksMore snacking and healthy food ideas to come! If you can’t tell by now, we really like food.

Trying to learn to let the food love us back.

Vegetarian Lasagna Roll Ups

Cooking together keeps you together.

Not only is this true for us because we love food, but also it brings us together [real time to just relax], allows us to learn from each other [you bake that in what? you clean up the dishes as you go?!] and create together!  So much goodness can come from a meal together.

This time around, I led more in the kitchen, which seems to happen when I find the reciepe and really want to impress D! We tried a failry simple and typical pasta dish with a twist – - roll ups! They were delicious and kept very easily! D even recommended storing these suckers in the freezer for homeade lean-cuisines! He’s always thinking.

Pictures to get your mouth watering // Recipe below!

BoilingMushroomsSpinachIngredientsLasagna PrepLasagna RollsLasagna Nom

Ingredients: just enough for 10 noodles

  • 1 lb. lasagna noodles
  • 15 oz. ricotta
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (substituted with a 5-cheese blend)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 lg. egg
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach
  • 2½ cups marinara and/or alfredo sauce
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • as needed non-stick spray
  • 3 portabella mushrooms (because they make everything better)

Directions:

1. Get a large pot of water boiling with a dash or two of salt. When it comes to a full boil, add the lasagna noodles and cook until al dente (soft but not soggy… about 12-15 minutes). When they are finished cooking, drain in a colander.

2. While the noodles are boiling, prepare the filling. Thaw the package of frozen spinach in the microwave and then squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Combine the spinach in a bowl with the cheeses, egg, freshly grated pepper and about ¼ tsp of salt. Mix until well combined. Don’t forget the salt in this mixture! [Rookie mistake.]

3.  When the noodles and filling are ready to go, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a glass casserole dish by spraying with non-stick spray.

4. On a clean surface, lay out a few noodles at a time. Place a few tablespoons of filling on each noodle and spread to cover from edge to edge. The filling does not need to be thick because once the noodle is rolled up, it will be compounded. Make sure to spread it all the way to the edges of the noodles.

5. Roll the noodles up and place in the prepared casserole dish. Repeat until all of your filling is gone (there may be some noodles left over, these are “back ups” in case any of the others rip during assembly). Pour the marinara sauce over the rolled noodles making sure to cover all surfaces. The sauce will keep the noodles hydrated and soft while baking.

6. Cover the dish in foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot or divide into individual portions and refrigerate.

Knowledge Nugget // Happiness

You can’t find your happiness in another person. Thanks, captain obvious.

Whether you are someone in a new relationship, one who has had a lack of previous relationships or a plethora of failed relationships, this common sense statement is a good reminder.

D recently read an article [[ I Didn’t Love My Wife When I Married Her ]] and this idea was brought back to my attention. Someone else can make you very happy, feel complete, and want to spend every moment with them, but happiness is much more than the “emotional fire” Elad Nehorai talks about in the article. Basically, “…love isn’t an emotion. That fire I felt, it was simply that: emotional fire. From the excitement of dating a woman I felt like I could marry. But it wasn’t love. No, love isn’t an emotion or even a noun. It’s a verb. Better defined as giving. As putting someone else’s needs above your own.” Being happy and in love makes you crazy for a time, the best kind of crazy! It’s that crazy that makes you realize you’ve found your match. It’s a reminder to daily love the one who loved us first & put your happiness in Him! He loves us beyond all measure or mistake or accomplishment or relationship. When we serve our loved ones and those around us, it is a reflection of that love we have recieved. Everything falls into place when we “do” love.

One thing you may not know about me… I love Relevant Magazine. I get weekly emails from the publication, and it is the ONE email I always keep after my daily dumping of emails I’ve regretably signed up for. [[ Side note: yes, I should unsubscribe, but for some reason it seems easier to just continually delete. What if I do miss something? I mean, I did originally sign up for it at one point!? Honestly, I'm just overwhelmed and do my best to keep it as organized as I can without having to compeltely start fresh. ]] Back to my point… they posted an article about 20 things to know before you’re 30. In a search to continaully love one another and keep ourselves healthy, happy and on the right path, these reminders were much welcomed.

Here ends your dose of article love.

E

Spaghetti Squash

… is BOSS! I was beyond entertained and fascinated with this vegetable’s innards. While still new to the cooking world and this being my first experience with the yellow mammoth, I was hopeful this process would go smoothly after reading a few how-to’s. Fingers crosssed because D and I had to eat whatever was created as a result of our foodie adventure!

Well, not only was it a piece of cake to bake , but I had so much fun ripping this thing apart! It’s amazing how many small strands make up the entirety of this large veggie. So large we only ate one side! I had leftovers (that were only baked in the oven and shredded) ready to cook up when I wanted! It lasted in the fridge for a few days inside a container.

While this may look like spaghetti and call itself spaghetti, don’t let it fool you. It defniitely has a different texture: more coarse. I’m a full-blooded-pasta-all-the-time-if-I-could kinda girl, so I was worried that would be a deal breaker; although, it’s just the right mixture… soft and squishy with a slight crispy bite. I’m very happy to be branching out, enjoying new foods and making edible things (go emma!), where convenience usually came first.

Get to cooking – - step-by-step pictures & full recipe below!

Prep SqaushPoke holes all over the squash to relesae any tension while baking & allow steam to exit.Open Squash

Once it has baked for one hour, cut it in half with a serrated knife.

Gut SquashScoop out the seeds inside and discard.

Fork SquashTake a fork and scratch the edges to make spaghettis!

Saute Squash

Sauté your portion in butter/olive oil, spices, cheese, and anything else your heart desires!

Eat Squash

Say a little prayer and dig in.

Squash

Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash

Mushrooms

Spices of choice

Olive Oil/Butter

Directions: (for the not so visual learners…)

1. Look for a mature spaghetti squash with a light yellow skin & purchase!

2. Poke holes all over the squash to relieve pressure.

3. Bake for an hour @ 350 degrees and do something productive on top of the productiveness you are already achieving, cooking. (I took this time to clean out my mess of a closet after my recent move!)

4. Cut the squash in half length-wise. If the skin is still tough, bake it a little bit longer.

5. Scoop out all the seeds and junk in the middle area of each side.

6. Take a fork and scrape down the edges of the squash to create spaghetti.

7. Saute what you want in a saucepan with butter or olive oil, spices, & parmesean cheese! I added mushrooms to the mix & included oregano & basil.

8. Pour yourself a glass of wine and dive in!

photo credit :: E – iPhone 4S

Knowledge Nugget // Rise & Shine

Morning Mist

Wake up early.

Easier said than done – - I have never been good at this, but I have recently found (slash been forced & can learn to appreciate) a new determination to rise & shine! Hello, adulthood?!

Life gets busy, and when that 5:00pm-grown-up bell rings, the precious few hours left in the day go quickly! In hopes of actually being able to get some things done, I’ve found that once my eyelids can hold themselves up, the morning can be very productive: read, work out (my biggest!), do chores, catch up on any tasks that need completing,  etc. I’ve yet to regret the decision to wake up early. There is now more time to finish anything I need after work or spend it with loved ones! D is quality time’s #1 fan & I’m his! So, it’s much easier to make down time good when there has been a productive morning! D is much better at all cock-a-doodle-do stuff, but he does have some years on me, you know! ; ) Our definitions of “early” will be a bit different for quite a while, I imagine. And that’s okay!

Practice: Be a big girl, or boy. Fight for your time in the morning, even if it means fighting the morning, initaly. Start off small. Wake up early once or twice a week! Once you see the benefits, it will get easier and easier. Speaking for myself, I have a ton of energy at the end of the day when I’ve had a morning workout! Hyper E, all the way.. you’ve been warned!

photo credit :: D instagram

Welcome Baby, Welcome!

 
D got to be in Knoxville for Leo’s birth & documented, of course! What a beautiful memory of a very happy day. I get to meet the munchkin in two weeks…. bring on the baby!!

video credit :: D - Canon 5D Mark III

Southern Revelry


 

Sometimes our memories will come in the form of videos. Realistic, moving picture memories.

In the beginning, I’m sure the first shoe-boxers were not throwing in many 8mm films with the medium format photos stored under their beds, but that’s the beauty of the 21st century! We have the internet. So, we’re throwing in videos. Also in instances like this, it makes me happy to experience and create with D in an area where he is very gifted!

Last night, we excitedly slipped away from the lake to go experience the first Southern Revelry at The Overall Company in Opelika, AL. I love this beautifully rustic venue. Architecturally created light fixtures contrast grand, sparkling chandeliers. Craft beers, wine, coffee, and now cold ‘sicles from the “pop factory” can be consumed inside around mixed chairs and couches or atop the large outdoor patio with an air breeze. Yard sale and antique treasures can be found in every nook & cranny, even in the bathrooms which houses a bountiful bottle display! Overall Co. really has an art-centered heart, desire to inspire, and love for its locals… and it shows. Best of luck to this venue, and we’ll see you soon!

IMG_2738B04A7384_editIMG_2741

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photo credit :: E – Iphone4S, D - Canon 5D Mark III

Superhero, Baby

D’s sister, Allison, is preggers… with a superhero! Crazy, right? I mean, he already has super strength and practices everyday on mama’s belly. Little Leo is ready to breakout and save the world with his baby cuteness!

Last weekend, we visited SoKno (a.k.a. “South Knoxville” – for those of you who are not locals of East Tennessee, sadly… as far as D is concerned!) for a superhero baby shower!

In preparation for Leo, Allison has completely redone her room.. and house, honestly! (OH, to be a teacher and have summer vacation!) Leo’s room is head to toe with a red, white, black & turquoise color scheme. I’ve never seen someone carry out a theme so well, I don’t think… all the way down to Leo’s stroller, blankets, washcloths, and even the storage cabinets that house them! On top of it all, he has been gifted many onesies to match. Every superhero needs a onesie, right?! Future HeroOnesie Wall

Anyway, the party was a BLAST! Pow! POP! Boom! We were able to ASSEMBLE THE AVENGERS (a.k.a her friends and family) and really show some love, while enjoying each other’s company. Best super powers around, if you ask me.

We’re excited to add photos of Leo & Mama to our shoebox. For now, I’ll leave you with some images from the party & helpful links if you’re planning to throw your own super party!

WELCOME STATION:

Welcome TableWelcome Table Close-UpSuper Game Close-Up Super Game

Ultrasound Pics

FOOD: (most important part of a shower, duh.)

Cupcakes 2 Cupcake SIgnsFood Signs

CREATIVE ADDITIONS:

Super Banner Super Banner Close-Up Super Signs

PARTY PEOPLE:

Super Allison20130724-215338.jpg 20130724-215355.jpg

Links below for more superhero inspiration & the original, FREE printable goodies pictured above.

Cupcake Toppers :: Food Toppers :: Super Hero Game

photo credit :: E – iPhone 4S

Sheppard’s Pie & Smallville

After work on Saturday, we were ready to kick back and enjoy the rest of our “off-day.” Time for some of that number #14!  We decided to cook a meal and watch one of our current favorites, Smallville.

We both watched Smallville before ever meeting one another…. When I was in High School, it was one of my many weeknight viewings, but it has been quite some time since I’ve seen the super Clark Kent in action. As for D, he owns 5 season on DVD. It’s safe to say he’s seen them once, or twice!

With Smallville secured, we went grocery shopping! In hopes of avoiding our regular pasta on pasta on pasta dish, we ventured out into the Sheppard’s Pie world. D craved, E tried! We must forgo the typical loaded-with-meat pie because I’m a “vegetarian”… with a few exceptions. We’ll get into that discussion later, but D is always eager to try non-meat substitutions with me! We just get him a bratwurst or two on the side, and he’s good to go!

Ingredients:
Frozen Mixed Veggies (corn, green beans, carrots, lima beans, whatever your heart desires, etc.)
Sliced Mushrooms
1/2 Red Pepper
Sliver of Onion
1/2 a can of Beef Broth
Mashed Potatoes
Cream Cheese
Shredded Cheese
Biscuits

Directions:

  1. Boil the veggies in water until they are cooked. {follow the bag – the beauty of frozen items!}
  2. Chop & sauté the mushrooms/onion/pepper in olive oil.
  3. Combine the cooked and sautéed veggies into a saucepan and simmer them in some beef broth.
  4. Make the mashed potatoes [instant, baby!] and add as much or as little cream cheese as you want to the mix on low heat.
  5. We cooked it all in a square, glass, brownie dish – layer the bottom with your veggies and cover them with a thick layer of mashed potatoes.
  6. Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top!
  7. Bake for 30-ish minutes on 400 degrees.
  8. Nom!

Nothing too fancy, but man ‘o man, stinking delicious. Feel free to substitute real veggies for the frozen ones. We were hungry…. what can I say!

Mushrooms, Pepper, Onion Mix

Mushrooms, Pepper, Onion Mix

All the veggie goodness!

All the veggie goodness!

Cream Cheese Potatoes

Cream Cheese Potatoes

Voila!

Voila!

photo credit :: E – iPhone 4S

Hello World!

necessities: love & biscuits.

necessities: love & biscuits.

We have a blog, and you are looking at it. Fancy that!

This southern couple has got full heads & hearts ready for filling this space. We’re in the kitchen & cooking it up big, like a hearty Thanksgiving Dinner on the menu. Okay, that’s a little over the top. But, we’re really excited, and  nobody in their right mind isn’t excited about Thanksgiving food!!

E {the organizer} dreams, plans, nit-picks, and impatiently awaits filling these pages with beautiful ideas and memories. D {the curator} supports, creates, masterminds, and eagerly awaits documenting life here.

So, I’d stick around if I were you… we’re having classic yellow cake with chocolate icing for dessert.

P.S. ”Forgive me for what I said when I was hungry.” Words often uttered by D, himself, that I am now connecting with. This is NOT a food blog, but deliciousness will frequent these pages… we like to get our grub on every now and then.