Lazy Sunday Lasagna

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Hey there!

So as mentioned the other day…this blog is back my friends, this blog is back.  Some things have changed within the past few months.  Well…a lot of things.  But here are some big ones…

1.  I’m engaged!

NYE 2012

NYE 2012

 

2.  I registered for the Chicago Marathon – thankfully, before the lottery system went into place!  And, Joe registered for it too!  It’ll be his first marathon and I’m super pumped for him.

3.  My knee has started acting up…no bueno.  So running and I are taking a little break until I see a doc and he/she can tell me what’s up.

But wait…does that mean a break from working out?  Uh yeah…yeah right.  In the mean time, I’ve been doing yoga and some elliptical workouts. :)

Oh…and I’ve been doing some cooking and baking.  I mean…I have all this extra time from not running, I might as well eat it away…right? ;)  Well this past Sunday, Joe and I did just that.  I made us a healthy and easy lasagna.  I was a little nervous because (a) it was my first lasagna (b) I’m Italian and I’m cheating by using cottage cheese instead of ricotta (c) I’m cooking it for Joe, and I’m using fake meat (he is kind of a carnivore).  The good news is this lasagna passed both of our expectations with flying colors.  Thanks, Aunt Kath for the recipe!

Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients:
- 1 big box of oven-ready lasagna noodles- 2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce – [fyi: I used about 1.5 jars]
- 2 packages of mozzarella cheese (long ones) – [fyi: I used part skim mozz]
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 1 carton of reduced fat cottage cheese (drained)
- shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 ten-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
- 1 package of Smart Ground (fake meat) – [*fyi: this was not in my aunt’s original recipe…and is totally and completely a (delicious) optional ingredient

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Cover the bottom with a little spaghetti sauce.
2.  Mix the cottage cheese, spinach, 2 eggs, and 1/4 of shredded parmesan together in a bowl.
3.  Layer the lasagna noodles over the spaghetti sauce, add half of the cottage cheese/spinach mixture, place mozz cheese slices over that.  If you’re using the smart ground meat, but that on top of the cheese.  Then, cover with more spaghetti sauce.  Repeat the layers as many times as you desire.  End by pouring sauce over entire lasagna.  Cover with foil.
4.  Bake at 350F covered for 60 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes after.  FYI: After it has baked for 50 minutes, take the lasagna out, sprinkle some shredded parm cheese over the top and let it continue to bake for the last 10 minutes uncovered.

This lasagna was amazing.  Best part?  It was healthy, vegetarian, and my carnivore fiance liked it.  Even better part?  My Italian future mother-in-law tried leftovers…and loved it.  Then Joe preceded to tell her that it wasn’t ricotta.  She was shocked.  Then he mentioned how it wasn’t real meat.  Again, shock.

My advice?  Make it for your friends whether they’re vegetarians OR carnivores.  Or make it for yourself and eat until your heart is content.  I’m not judging.

I’m baaack!

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Hey there!

After taking some time off of blogging to start my full-time job / post-grad life…I may have forgotten my blog password ;) But, I finally was able to e-mail the right people and get everything figured out.

WOOHOO!!

I’m so happy to be back.  Can’t wait to start reading everyone’s blogs and getting back in the swing of things!

<3 Sarah

Tapas Tour (Madrid, part DOS)

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Hey everyone!

So I planned on breaking down my Spain trip into 3 sections…but the tapas tour we attended deserves its own section…so there will now be 4  :)

Today was a very fun day!  After my Cross Fit class on Monday, I’ve been dying to get in a good workout.  I was too sore on Tuesday and Wednesday to get in a good run, and unfortunately it was storming big-time here yesterday.  Such a bummer.  I decided to make up for it today though. I woke up early ready to run.

I ran 4.37 miles at 8:41 pace.  It wasn’t my best time, or my farthest run, but I’ll take it.  I’ve missed running after taking 2+ weeks off for vacation, and only running 3 miles at a time before vacation.  I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely prefer my cooler weather runs.  C’mon Mother Nature, throw just one 40-degree morning my way, please?  It can get hot later on, just give me a cool morning ;)

After my hot & humid run (80s and 50%+ humidity at 7AM), I got ready for the day.  My mom and I headed to Oak Brook where they have a beautiful outdoor mall.  They decorate it beautifully with flowers and some fountains – oh, and I guess the beautiful shoes & handbags don’t hurt the landscape, either ;)

We enjoyed our day shopping and talking, which was very similar to our trip to Spain.  Mom and I pretty much shopped every day while in Spain – tough work, but someone’s gotta do it, right?  Although Oak Brook has delicious restaurant options, they don’t quite have the tapas that Madrid does.  But that’s okay, I can live through my pictures tonight.

Before going to Spain, we booked a tour with Adventurous Appetites which had rave reviews on Trip Advisor.  Our tour guide was James, who was great and provided us with helpful tips about tapas, bars in Madrid, and Spain in general.

One tip about ordering tapas?  Always order your drinks first and wait before you order your tapas.  Some bars give you free tapas, but if you order your food when you order your drink, they may skip giving you the free tapas.  Thanks for the tip, James! :)

Without further adieu, here’s the tapas!

Bar 1

(Seriously) Blue Cheese

Cider, Cheese + Ham, and maybe a Tortilla in the back? So much food, so little time…

Sorry the picture above isn’t so hot!  I wasn’t going to include it, but I didn’t want to leave any of the food out!

Delicious Sausage + Potatoes (covered in paprika)

Cheesy Tortilla (get in my belly)

Walking to Bar 2

how cute is this chocolate shop?!

Bar 2

*NOT* Sangria! it’s red wine + soda.

I can’t remember what the above drink is called, but James made sure to tell us that it is not sangria.  It’s something that is less tourist-y than sangria, and what locals drink.

Sausage, Rolls, and Ham

Those little sausages were my favorite in Spain.  SOOO GOOD

Ham (from a pig that ate chestnuts, so the meat is fattier) and Cheese

Walking to Bar 3

Bar 3

mmm pouring Rioja

CHEERS! we had a fun group!

part of the tour group!

Mussels (with green and red peppers) and Toast (with olive oil)

Tripe and Beans

Beans, beans, the magical fruit..

Fried Pedron Peppers

Some are spicy, some are not…you don’t know until you bite in!  So much fun :)

Croquettas (filled with cheese and pieces of ham)

Black Pudding (Blood Sausage)
(Gross stuff that tastes good because it’s seasoned well)

Amazing Mushrooms and yummy meat (can’t remember what it was, exactly.. pork maybe?)

Cold Vegetable Salad topped with Cold Cod
(Mom and my favorite dish!)

Walking to Bar 4

Bar 4

Mushrooms with Garlic Mayo Spread on Toast

I didn’t have the tapas picture shown above, but past tour attendees described it as being so good and like “crack”.

Garlic and Oil Shrimp

Octopus covered in paprika

At this last bar, some drank white wine and others (like me) drank water.

I may have ended the night with some gelato, too.  My sweet tooth was callin’, and I couldn’t ignore it.  Luckily they have smaller portions in Spain (they’re small is a “baby” size in the US), so I could eat it without exploding.

Hope you enjoyed the tapas tour with me!  If you go to Spain, I highly recommend going with Adventurous Appetites like I did.  As you may or may not have noticed, I didn’t include the names of the bars.  This was done at the request of my tour guide, because they change the bars every time.  They try to switch up the bars and keep them unpublicized to help them from becoming tourist-y.  If you are extremely curious about one of the pictures and need to find out where exactly you can get it, let me know and I may be able to help you out.  :) But trust me when I say, you really can’t go wrong.  Especially with a tour guide like James helping you out!

Adios! :)

Questions for you:
Do you usually take tours while on vacation?  My family almost always does!  I love them because you get to ask a local tons of questions- some related to the tour, others just about food and life in that city!
Do you like to branch out and try new foods while vacationing?  I tried blue cheese, tripe, and black pudding during the tapas tour…some things that I’m either not a fan of (blue cheese) or never had (tripe and black pudding).  I’m so glad that I stepped outside my comfort zone to try these!  Even though I probably wouldn’t order them on my own in the future, I’m glad I had a bite! :)

Spain Part 1: Madrid

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Hola!

I hope your day is going well!  My morning began with a 6+ mile bike ride.  I had planned on going for a run, but after Monday’s CrossFit class (and the 2 mile run that night), my legs are still feelin’ it.  Apparently doing my first squat ever- and 199 more after that- in one day isn’t necessarily the smartest idea.  Who would’ve thought?

I love feelin’ a good workout though, so I can’t complain too much. :)

Okay, let’s get to the travel stuff.  There’s so much to say about Madrid, and not enough web space to hold it.  Instead, I’m going to share my trip mostly through pictures and include a few words.

Ready to head to Spain from your seat? :) Let’s go!

Ready for the flights (to NYC first and then Madrid!)

Spain from the sky!

Madrid Airport!

Seriously, how cool is the airport’s ceiling?

Okay, okay, I’ll stop with all the airport pictures. On to some real stuff! :)

Here’s Madrid architecture:

love this so much

check out that statue in the park ;)

Madrid is gorgeous at night

Madrid Cuisine:

Seafood and Chicken Paella

One of the richest, and most delicious things I ate.
Toasted bread with ham, drizzled with olive oil.

Rioja <3

Octopus and potatoes, cooked in olive oil and covered in paprika

From the hotel breakfast buffet:
Tortilla (basically, a Spanish frittata) with spinach
(and, of course, delicious grapefruit and oranges)
holy yum!

Okay, okay, I know this isn’t necessarily “food” but it’s a market that serves incredible tapas. Check out some of the tapas we tried there in the next few photos!

Cod + Tomatoes on Toast (from the market)

“Seafood Salad” – fish + peppers and other veggies, in an olive oil and vinegar dressing (from the market)

Shrimp with an avocado-mayo spread on toast
(from the market)

macaroons = <3
(from the market)

churros and “hot chocolate”

You dip the churros into the “hot chocolate” (which is really a chocolate sauce, because it’s thicker than regular hot chocolate).
You’re supposed to drink the hot chocolate after you finish the churros, but my mom and I found it too rich (and thick) to do that.  But don’t worry, we tried ;)

delicious chocolate = happy girl

amazing bean salad. one of the best things I ate.

Roast Chicken and Patatas (fries)

oh you know, just one of the sweetest waiters in Madrid. and my ice cream dessert. (vanilla, chocolate, and cream)

Are you hungry yet?  :) I’m definitely getting ready for dinner after looking at all of these.  These are most of the food pictures, but not all of them.  My mom and I also had dinner at the OLDEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD (Botin), but unfortunately the pictures didn’t turn out super well.  Apparently my camera didn’t want to make pretty pictures? what the heck.  My mom and I also attended a tapas tour, but that is worthy of it’s own post.  Plus, can anyone really handle any more pictures of food in this post? ;)

Hope these pictures made you feel like you were in Spain, too!  Or, maybe they gave you some inspiration for tonight’s dinner.  Let me know if you decide to make a Spanish-inspired meal after seeing these! :)

Okay, after all of those pictures, I think it’s time that the Madrid recap comes to a close.  Although the Tapas Tour photos are still to come, it’s time to say “adios” for now :)

Questions for you:
Have you had Spanish food before?  (Either in Spain, or at a Spanish restaurant somewhere)
What’s your favorite type of food? (Spanish, German, Italian, Mexican, American…)

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Hey everyone!

This past Friday, my mom and I came home from Spain.  We had a great time there – lots of great food, sight-seeing, shopping, and relaxing.  I’ve decided to break up my trip recap into three different posts based on the cities I visited: Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona.  I may have taken a million and a half pictures and I plan on sharing all of them a bunch!  My vaca recap will start tomorrow… today I’m sharing a recipe!

After having delicious food in Spain (they’re crazy about ham, mayo, fish, and anything deep-fried), I’ve been trying to go back to my “usual” routine: lots of fruit and veggies, whole grains, and lean meats.  Hello, delicious turkey-avocado-tomato sandwich, I’ve missed you.  You too, steamed broccoli.

I’ve been doing pretty well eating healthy, but after seeing a friend’s facebook status about eating chocolate chip pancakes and bacon (yes, I’m talking about you, Stace! :) ) I couldn’t help but to make some pancakes for myself.  I’m not a huge breakfast person, but last night just seemed perfect for breakfast-for-dinner.

The pancakes turned out amazing but unfortunately there are no pictures to capture their beauty.  But trust me when I say, you gotta make these.

Whole Wheat Pancakes (with a hint of chocolate) – note: I used Skinny Taste’s recipe to get a basic idea on how to make it, but modified it significantly.  See the bottom of this post for more info about my reasoning*)
Ingredients
2 Cups + 2 TB Nonfat Milk
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
4.5 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 scoop Chocolate Protein Powder
1.5 TB chocolate chips (all chopped up)

Mix dry ingredients together (except chocolate chips) in a medium-sized bowl.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Chop up chocolate chips so they’re smaller and chunkier (this way, more pancakes will get chocolate chips :) ).  Add chocolate chips to mixture.  Cook ‘em up on the stove top, and enjoy!

Makes 27 pancakes.  Nutrition facts (per pancake): 54 calories, .75g fat, 1.18g fiber, 3.2g protein.

I loved these pancakes because they were not overly-chocolatey at all.  I shared some with my dad and he said he could taste a hint of something, but couldn’t tell what it was.  Guess I must have eaten the chocolate chips in that pancake…woops ;) These will definitely be my new go-to pancake when I’m looking for some fiber & protein – and something slightly sweet!

Time to make something for lunch!  I went to CrossFit with my friend Jen today, and I am ready for some food!  Curious about CrossFit?  Definitely try it out.  Today was my first time ever doing it and I enjoyed it.  Best part?  A place nearby allows you to take your first class for free.  Will I pursue it in the future?  Probably, I just need to figure out how it will work in my schedule.  I loved how it was fast-paced -  you weren’t able to get “bored” with your routine.  You could also really feel your muscles working, which I loved.  Guess who’s gonna be sore tomorrow and Wednesday and Thusrday…this girl!  Love it- gotta love knowing you had a great workout! :)

Have a great day! :)

(*Reasons for Pancake Recipe Modifications: I cut out the sugar and vanilla she recommended because I used some chocolate chips and the chocolate protein powder, and thought it would be sweet enough.  It was, especially with maple syrup drizzled over the pancakes at the end ;)  I also left out the salt because I knew baking powder had sodium in it, and figured the pancakes wouldn’t miss it.  Finally, I omitted the cinnamon because…I’m not the biggest fan of that spice.  :) )

Españaaaa!

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Hey there!

Today’s post is going to be short, because I’m waking up bright and early tomorrow to begin my journey to Spain! :)  Cannot wait to explore Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona… and also try new foods and wines!  Hope you all have a good couple of weeks-

Adios!
Sarah

Questions for you:
Where’s your favorite vacation spot?
Do you workout on vacation?

I’m not planning on working out too much; unfortunately/fortunately? our hotels do not have treadmills or workout rooms, so I will be counting on lots of long walks!  And hopefully some little circuit style workouts in my room :)

Thirsty Thirty

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Hey everyone! Happy Thursday!

I can’t believe it’s already this far along in the week!  The past few days have been filled with shopping and running different errands because…

My mom and I are going to Spain on Sunday!

We both have never been there before, and don’t speak much Spanish, but we’re really excited for our trip together.  Have any of you been to Spain before?  We’re going to Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona…any good restaurants we need to try?  Any types of food we need to try/try to avoid?  :)

Except for food/restaurants, everything is pretty much planned.  Tours are booked, tickets are bought, and new cameras are ready for action.  As I mentioned in another post, I have been hunting for a DSLR camera.  After asking a million questions, I purchased the camera from my local Wolf Camera store.  I chose the Canon Rebel T3 and I can’t wait to play with it later! :)

my first legit camera! :)

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With all of this excitement going on over here, it’s been harder to have the longer workouts I love.  I won’t cut working out altogether though so I am making my shorter workouts count.  This is why my “thirsty thirty” elliptical workout was born! Next time you’re looking for a quick workout, try this one out:

guaranteed to make you thirsty/sweaty/challenged!

Although it doesn’t mention it in the picture, I would recommend a warm-up as well.  I usually do a five minute warm up and a five minute cool down (in addition to the actual workout).

Time to go run some errands, mess with my camera, and sneak in a workout!  Hope you all have a great day!

Questions for you:
Have you ever been to Spain?
What types of food should we try in Madrid/Seville/Barcelona?
Any restaurants we should try in these areas?