Sunday, July 22, 2012

Are You Team Arie or Team Jef?

Soooo its the moment we've all (or I've) been waiting for.... the Bachelorette finale! The Bachelor(ette) finales are always exciting prime tv moments. Like the superbowl for girls. I mean, I find it a bit pathetic how into these shows I get, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I am totally looking forward to devoting 3 hours of my Sunday night to find out WHO Emily Maynard is going to choose!?!  I seriously have spent the last week thinking about this answer. Usually by this time in the season I 100% have a favorite, and whether its my favorite or not, I generally feel pretty confident in my prediction of who the Bachelor(ette) is going to pick. However, this season, I legit have ZERO clue.

I've been an Arie fan from day one. Their first date in Dollywood was beyond romantic and I may have cried a little as they danced and watched Dolly Parton sing "From Here to the Moon and Back". Ahhhh so romantic.

Their chemistry is undeniable. No question about that. The thing is, I'm not sure if the friendship aspect of their relationship is strong enough for them to last long-term. With that said, I sometimes feel that the producers of the show try to throw the viewers off by making them think the Bachelor(ette) is going to pick someone else. How else would Chris Harrison be able to say this is going to be THE MOST DRAMATIC rose ceremonies EVER??  But seriously, they very possibly could have had many deep conversations that just don't make it to tv. At first I was iffy about if Arie was just a ladies' man and only in this for the exposure and his race car career.  But I've decided against that. I think Arie genuinely cares for Emily and I very well think he could be the last man standing.

BUT then there is Jef (with one F)......
Let's talk about night one- He came in on a skateboard and I said to myself.. Who in the world is this guy that looks like he's 12?  I totally was not Team Jef at first, but I did notice a spark from the very beginning between them. It was like middle school- Jef played hard to get and Emily was sooo intrigued by him. They started out very awkward, but then they turned a huge leaf on their date in London (I think?) when they shared their first kiss. From this day forward, my opinion of Emily and Jef with one F totally changed. I think they are ridiculously cute together. He brings out such a fun, quirky side of her. One of my all time favorite moments between them was his hometown date and the letter.....

I mean, if you can watch this with a dry eye you there may or may not be something wrong with you.

Sooooo who is she going to pick??? Are you Team Arie or Team Jef???? I seriously don't know how she is going to decide. A little part of me thinks that maybe she won't choose until tonight at the LIVE taping of After The Final Rose. Yes? No? Maybeso?  I can't take the suspense any longer.

It's BACHELORETTE time!! Enjoy :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spinach Quesadillas

As I'm sure most of you can relate, Pinterest is my go-to guide for new recipes. I found this one via Closet Cooking's blog and I immediately wanted to give it a whirl! So glad I did because it was gloriously delicious and EASY (the best kind of recipe)!


*** Makes 2 quesadillas ***
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups packed spinach, steamed and squeezed to drain
  • 2 tablespoons herbs (a combination of mint, dill and parsley), chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons feta, crumbled
  • 4 (8 inch) tortillas
  • 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
  • Mix the spinach, herbs, green onions and feta in a bowl.
  • Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Place a tortilla into the pan, swirl it around in the olive oil and repeat with the other 3 tortillas.
  • Sprinkle half of the cheese on the tortilla followed by the filling, the remaining cheese and finally the other tortilla.
  • Cook until the quesadilla is golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted, about 2-4 minutes per side. (Tip: To easily flip the quesadilla place a plate onto the quesadilla in the pan and flip it from the pan to the plate and then slide it back into the pan.)
  • Cut into quarters and ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Color Wheel (your new BFF)

At a very young age, I've always had a thing for color. Odd as it may sound, I've somehow committed to memeory every crayon name in the Crayola box and I could probably draw a color wheel on the spot if you asked me to (not that you would.. but just sayin'...)! The reasons behind my early love for color is unknown, but perhaps this explains why I incorporate color into my outfits so much. Of course I have my days when I resort to the neutrals - blacks, tans and the 50 shades of gray - but I'd have to say I think my wardrobe consists of more color than most. I'm sure there are several reasons why people shy away, but I think often it is because they are scared to mix and match and make too much of a color statement. I guess I've always subconsciously resorted to my color wheel knowledge when choosing what to wear, but it wasn't until recently that I realized what a fabulous asset the color wheel can actually be! 

So here's the 411-

Primary Colors: Red, Yellow, Blue
Essentially, these are the only colors you'd ever need (if you were an artist). In the fashion world, however, life with only these colors would be quite boring. Which is why we have....

Secondary Colors: Orange, Green, Purple
These colors are born from the combination of primary colors. (i.e. Red + Yellow = Orange, Yellow + Blue = Green, Blue + Red = Purple) 

Does this take you back to elementary school Art 101 or what??? ;)   SO, you may know these basic color wheel facts or you may not. But that's not the point. The point is, with this basic knowledge, deciding on your next colorful outfit should be quite simple. As a basic rule of thumb, try to select color combos based on whether they are next to each other on the color wheel (analogous color schemes, such as blue-green, green, and blue-yellow), or opposite each other the color wheel (complimentary color schemes, such as purple and yellow or blue and orange).

Here are some of my fave combos:

Analogous ~ blues and greens

Analogous ~ blues and purples
Complimentary ~ pink and green

Complimentary ~ blue and orange

Complimentary ~ purple and yellow

So study up on the color wheel... or hang one in your closet... and start rocking color this summer with confidence! :)


Monday, July 9, 2012

Chicken Marsala

  • 1/4 cup flour (for coating)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or cut into cubes)
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry

  • Cut chicken into cubes or pound chicken breast halves to thin out a bit and place into a ziploc bag. Add flour, salt, pepper, oregano, and seal.
  • In a large skillet, add olive oil and melt butter over medium heat.
  • Place chicken in the pan and lightly brown.
  • Turn over chicken pieces and add mushrooms.
  • Pour in wine and sherry; cover skillet.
  • Simmer chicken for approx. 10 minutes or until fully cooked.
  • Serve over your choice of whole wheat pasta and garnish with fresh parsley. (For a sans pasta option: I keep the chicken breast whole and serve with asparagus or another vegetable on the side)

NOTE:  If you prefer a thicker sauce, mix 1-2 tbsp. or cornstarch or flour in approx. 1/4-1/2 cup of water until fully blended. Pour into marsala sauce and let simmer until sauce thickens. Continue to your desired thickness preference.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Little Microwave Odor Trick

With the weather being so nice lately and every weekend being filled with fun summer activities, I've really been neglecting my home. This morning I told myself I could not do anything until I did a thorough cleaning! On top of the usual bathroom, dusting, vacuuming and mopping routine, I was determined to find a way to rid our microwave of that terrible lingering zapped food smell. I don't know if I'm the only one that finds microwave odors repulsive, but ugh! They're terrible. My feelings against the microwave are another story for another day (I'm contemplating getting rid of it altogether), but while its still in my house, I'd at least like to keep it clean!  I remember my mom using baking soda whenever she wanted to eliminate an odor growing up so I tried a little experiment, and to my surprise - it actually worked!

Here is the formula:

Step 1:
Wipe down your microwave with water and a sponge (and a little dish soap if there are any troublesome spots)


Step 2:
In a microwave safe bowl, add 2 cups of water and approx. 4 tbsp. of baking soda. Microwave for 5 minutes.


Step 3:
Rinse out the baking soda/water mixture and add another 2 cups of water and 3-4 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice. Microwave for 5 minutes. (I figured lemon was good for a spring/summer scent. In the fall/winter try vanilla extract)


Step 4:
Wipe down the microwave one more time with water and a sponge.
(If the odor is still lingering.... put a little bit of baking soda in a small bowl and let sit for a couple hours or overnight. The baking soda should absorb the remaining odor)


An odor-free microwave!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vegetarian "Meatballs" with Spaghetti Squash

As a follow up to my Forks Over Knives post yesterday, here is an interesting take on "spaghetti" and "meatballs". I found this recipe thanks to Cookin' Canucks blog and while I cannot say that this will satisfy a dire craving, I do think its a creative twist on a traditional, not-so-healthy family staple and in my opinion, its worth a try!

 What you'll need:
  • 1 ½ cans (15 oz. each) Bush’s Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups marinara sauce (your favorite kind)
  • Parmesan cheese for grating (optional)
  • Cooked spaghetti Squash


1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.) Thoroughly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray
3.) In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans and roasted red peppers. Pulse until chopped, but not smoothly pureed.
4.) Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in grated onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper until well combined.
5.) Using a rounded 2 tablespoon portion of the bean mixture, form “meatballs” by rolling between the palms of your hands. Place the “meatballs” on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
6.) Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and have developed a light golden brown coating, 15 to 20 minutes.
7.) In a large saucepan, heat you favorite marinara sauce over medium heat until simmering (I use my mother-in-law's secret recipe).
8.) Add “meatballs” and stir to coat; Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes
9.) Serve over cooked spaghetti squash and lightly top with grated parmesan cheese

    And there you have it - a healthier alternative to "Spaghetti and Meatballs"!

    NOTE:  If you want to ease into this recipe, try the "meatballs" over your choice of pasta instead of spaghetti squash. Ya gotta start somewhere, right??

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Forks Over Knives

If you read this blog and especially the "On the Menu" section, you may have noticed that I've been trying to incorporate a few meatless-meals into our diet every week. "Why?", you probably wonder.  Well, thanks to the eye-opening documentary "Forks Over Knives", my husband and I have started to re-evaluate our diets. I am not writing this post to persuade anyone to transform their diets or make any drastic lifestyle changes. I just suggest that everyone watch this film and make the choice for yourself! 

The film focuses on two researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who through much research were led to a startling conclusion: degenerative diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented- and in many cases reversed- by adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Crazy, right!?!  These doctors highlighted stories of several "regular" people living with these diseases, and showed that through diet and excercise lifestyle changes made by these people, their conclusions were true. They talked about how as Americans, the food and drug industries have convinced us that we need meat for protein and dairy for calcium, and we have been brainwashed our whole lives to believe this is the only or best way to receive these essential nutrients. However, there are several plant-based foods that in fact, are greater and more complete sources of protein and calcium. I found the entire film and its message to be extremely interesting.

While I have not drastically changed my diet, I have become much more aware and have personally concluded this for myself-  My meals should not be based around what meat I'm going to eat. Instead, I am making an effort to make plant-based foods the primary source of my diet as much as I can, watch the portion size of my animal-based foods, eat as little processed foods as realistically possible, and most importantly, pay careful attention to the nutrients each meal I eat is providing. I don't beat myself up if I have a huge, juicy burger at a cookout, or eat a processed granola bar before the gym because I don't have time to prepare anything else, but I am aware of what I am eating and do my best to stay on track! I think this is the first step to healthy living. Whether you agree or not, I believe it is our duty to put in the time to learn what the foods we are eating are actually doing to our bodies and make educated decisions of how we are going to live and feed our lives. Maya Angelou said, "When you know better, you do better" and I completely agree! 

Find out more about the Forks Over Knives movement here, watch the film, and let me know what you think!

Featured Wedding: Janet & Jay

For all the brides-to-be who loved the style of the wedding I posted about here, below are some additional details and inspiration:

Guestbook ~ Thumbprint Tree with guest's names

photo courtesty of Pinterest

Favors ~ Scratch ticket with a penny that said "Lucky in Love"
photo courtesty of Pinterest

H'or Deurves ~ The most amazing homemade chips/salsa/guacamole I've ever had... and a few other passed items that to be honest I cannot remember because I was so focused on the former ;)

Dinner ~ In addition to the Fajita bar, they also had Beef Tenderloin and Seafood Paella stations

Dessert ~ They skipped the cake and offered the most amazing Apple-filled Churros in Vanilla Ice Cream

Late Night Munchies ~ Cheeseburger Sliders, French Fries, Pizza, Chicken Fingers (the bride's favorite foods)
photo courtesty of Pinterest

Reception Decor ~ Purple linens with floral centerpieces on half the tables and antique white tea-light candle holders on the other half of the tables. Also loved this wall with photos of the bride and groom over the years. 

First Dance ~ "Without You" by Eddie Veddar
Grand Exit ~ Sparkler send-off!