Lazy Sunday Lasagna

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.

Hola!

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.  🙂 )

Ah-mazin Craisin Muffins

Could this title be any cornier?

…sorry I’m not sorry…I love puns and corny jokes…

Anywayssss, as you can tell by the title, today involved craisins.  And raisins.  I wanted to bake some raisin bran muffins and this morning was the perfect day to do so.  Usually I like to wake up early to get in a workout, but today I switched it up.  I slept in and baked all morning.  Booyaa.

As much as I love raisin bran muffins, they are usually loaded with fat and are approximately a zillion calories.  One muffin isn’t worth all those calories to me (froyo > muffins).  After much googling, I was able to find a recipe that looked pretty solid.  I mean, a recipe that has 5 stars and 829 reviews, and ingredients that aren’t completely terrible?  I think I’ll take it.  🙂

I used this recipe, but changed a few things around (like using whole wheat flour instead of regular, soy milk instead of buttermilk, etc).  Here’s my take:

Craisin Raisin Bran Muffins

hello, delicious

Ingredients
1 & 1/2 cups Cascadian Farm Organic Raisin Bran Cereal
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Trader Joe’s whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup craisins (I used some from Trader Joes)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease muffin pan.  Mix together cereal and soy milk.  Let stand for 10 minutes (or longer…I kinda ate breakfast and did other stuff while baking 0:) )

warning: if you make this recipe in the morning, it’s incredibly tempting to eat this as normal cereal instead of using it to make the muffins. good luck.

Beat oil, egg, sugar and vanilla together.  Add the oil/egg/sugar/vanilla to the soy milk/cereal.  Mix together whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Add craisins (yum!) and pour batter into muffin tins.

ready for bakin’

Bake 15-20 minutes (my oven took 15) or until toothpick comes out clean.  Enjoy!  And try to not eat the entire pan.

check out the inside of the muffin! omnomnom

These muffins were so incredibly moist and delicious.  Honestly, they are the best-textured muffins I’ve ever had.  And, not completely unhealthy.  Wanna know some facts?  186 calories. 7 grams fat.  1 gram sat fat.  2.5 grams fiber.  I think I’ll be making these pretty often…and before races!

I even got my Mom to eat a muffin (she pretty much never eats muffins) and she said she’d be eating some more this week.  Winninggggg (remember when everyone used to say this?)

Well I’m off to go camera hunting with Joe!  So many awesome cameras, so little money time.

Have a great night!

Question for you:
What’s your favorite type of muffin?

Is this heaven?

…no, it’s peanut butter.  But it tastes like heaven.

Butter Toffee Peanut Butter = ❤

 

On all of the blogs I read, I haven’t heard much about Naturally Nutty.  They have a variety of nut butters and even a seed butter!  The company also has a great story, which you can read about here.  Because I love them so much, I wanted to spread the word and let you guys know about how good this stuff is.  It also gave me an excuse to eat lots and lots of it for “experimenting”…so…

Anyways, ever since my trip to Traverse City, Michigan for The Bayshore Marathon, I’ve been putting this peanut butter on everything.  My Aunt Kathy introduced it to me a few years ago and I’ve been in love with it ever since.  It had been about a year or so since I last had some, so I knew I had to stock up on some once I made it to TC.  Of course, you can buy it online (which my fam has done in the past) but I decided to hold off until race weekend to make it that much more special.

Now that my love peanut butter and I are reunited, I’m taking advantage of it.  With delicious treats such as:

Peanut Butter Banana Waffles

Van Waffles + Naturally Nutty Butter Toffee + Banana

I used Van Waffles Wheat Free/Gluten Free Flax Waffles, along with 2 TB of Butter Toffee Peanut Butter (1 TB per waffle), and sliced up a small banana on top.  This breakfast was so sweet and tasty that I couldn’t help but make it a few times last week.  If only there were more waffles in a box…then I could have had it every day…

Butter Toffee PB Granola

can’t wait to put this on my yogurt…

This was my first attempt at making granola.  Did it turn out perfect?  Sure, if you don’t like your granola super crunchy.  Generally I do, buttttt I love the flavor so much that I’ll let it slide 😉  I used Peanut Butter Finger’s peanut butter granola recipe to get a general idea of oven temperature, cooking time, etc.  Here’s my version:

Ingredients
2 TB Naturally Nutty Butter Toffee Peanut Butter
2 TB Jif Natural Peanut Butter
1 Cup Oats

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 F.  Melt the Naturally Nutty and Jif peanut butters in microwave (note: Naturally Nutty Butter Toffee doesn’t melt too much, so don’t worry.  That’s why I used the Jif- to make up for it and be super melty).  Add oats to melted peanut butter and stir until coated.  Bake for 7 minutes.

Thoughts
Julie (Peanut Butter Fingers) had honey in her recipe, but I didn’t want to add it to mine because the Naturally Nutty Butter Toffee Peanut Butter is already sweet.  I think the honey may have helped add a crunch-factor to the granola, but the soft granola tastes delicious.  If you try this recipe, let me know if you added the honey- and if it added a good crunch/taste to the granola!

I plan on putting this granola on top of yogurt, adding it to nuts/craisins/etc for a trail mix…and just eating it straight out of the bag.

I also plan on googling many more peanut butter recipes and seeing how they turn out with Naturally Nutty’s Butter Toffee Peanut Butter.  Pretty sure I will be using their Peanut Butter Pancake recipe tomorrow 🙂

Alright, I’m off to go run some errands!  I’m looking to buy a new camera so tonight I’m starting the hunt. 🙂

Questions for you:
I’m thinking about buying a DSLR camera, do you have one that you would recommend?  I’m looking for one that (obviously) shoots great pictures, but also isn’t completely ginormous.

Back to peanut butter, what’s your favorite peanut butter recipe? 🙂

Have a great night!

Cravin’ (Chocolate) Chips

Sometimes you just need chocolate.

how you doin’?

Today was one of those days.   I really wanted a huge, crispy cookie from a bakery.  But what I didn’t want was the car drive to pick one up.  Or the bajillion grams of fat that come with it.  I’m not one to give up completely though… if I want a chocolate chip cookie, I’ll make it happen.

I checked out one of my favorite dessert blogs, Chocolate Covered Katie.  She has a lot of “single lady” (individual)-sized recipes, and other smaller portioned recipes.  Her recipes are also healthy and vegan.  Although I’m not vegan, the idea of baking a few healthy cookies (rather than dozens and dozens) is perfect.  Who has time to bake 48 cookies?  Psh.

I used Katie’s “Not Guilty” Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe, but modified it a little.  I left out the oil, picked a different amount of chocolate chips, and added a little extra milk.

Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup wheat flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 TB and 1 tsp chocolate chips
2 TB brown sugar (I didn’t pack it)
2 TB sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract – yummmm
3 TB skim milk plus 1 tsp skim milk (add more if necessary)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375.  Mix flour, salt, baking soda, brown sugar, and white sugar in medium-sized bowl.  Add chocolate chips, vanilla extract, and skim milk to the dry ingredients.  Stir until incorporated.  Bake for 6-7 minutes.  (Note: she said they’ll still cook once they’re out of the oven…mine took a while until the center didn’t have a slightly dough-y interior.  If you can wait about an hour after they’re out, they should be fully cooked.  If not, well…they’re a little doughy…but there’s no eggs, so it’s not really a concern 😉 ).  Made 11 small(ish) cookies.

chocolate chips ❤

Baking (and eating) cookies was the perfect end to my day.  After an hour long bike ride in hot, humid weather this morning,  I think these cookies were deserved. 🙂  Can’t believe the marathon is in FIVE days!  I also can’t believe I’m hardly running this week.  I know the tapering process is necessary blahblahblah and I survived my first marathon following this same schedule, but it’s still kinda crazy to me!  Oh well, I guess that means more time to bake? 😉

Question for you:
What do you do while tapering? 

I usually try to get out of the house and do something productive.  Whether it’s planning for an upcoming vacation, looking for a new book to read, or catching up with friends, I need to do something.  The idea of sitting around and doing nothing (when I’m used to days filled with running) is just too boring.

Egg Salad-less Sandwich

Hey there!

Hope your weekend is off to a great start!  My day began with the usual breakfast: toast with pb & bananas.  This is pretty much my standard pre-run breakfast.

Unfortunately my run today was “only” 8 miles because I’m tapering.  Since I’ve only been running for two years, it still strange for me to think that 8 miles isn’t a very hard run.  What’s even crazier?  The fact that today’s run is less than 1/3 of the distance of my run next Saturday.

One week ’til the Bayshore Marathon! 🙂

Anywaysssss, after my run (and chocolate milk) I decided to make my first “egg salad sandwich”.  Please note I’ve never had an egg salad sandwich before.  I’ve had my mom’s ham salad and her chicken salad before, but never egg salad or tuna salad.  Although I’ve been curious to try egg salad, the idea of all of they mayo grossed me out.  I’m definitely not a big mayo girl.  So I decided to do what every person would do- make their own copycat without any type of recipe, and without ever having the “real” thing.  Oh wait, that’s not normal?  Woops.

Well, this may or many not taste similar, but I can say it tastes delicious.

Egg Salad-less Sandwich

Ingredients:
1 Egg White
1 Egg with yolk
3 Gherkin Pickles
Dash Onion Powder
Dash Ground Mustard
Dash Black Pepper
Sandwich Thins

Directions: Scramble egg white, egg white with yolk, and seasonings in pan.  After it’s nearly cooked, add chopped gherkin pickles to the mix.  Once eggs are fully cooked, put eggs (& pickles) onto sandwich thins.  Then put eggs + sandwich thin into pan until sandwich thins get slightly crispy.

I made mine with sour gherkins (not really a fan) so next time I will definitely use my favorite sweet gherkins.  However, I absolutely loved the ground mustard in the eggs!  It added an unexpected flavor that I enjoyed in every bite.  I will probably incorporate ground mustard into my eggs on a regular basis.  Let me know what you think! 🙂

After my egg salad-less sandwich, I had Chobani Raspberry Greek Yogurt and some pretzels.

Best Enjoyed Poolside

Time to take a break from recipes, and give a yogurt review:

First of all, I’m in love with Chobani Greek Yogurt.  Are they paying me to say this?  No (I wish).  But seriously, it’s so good.  My favorite flavor is Pomegranate.  I love how it’s non-fat and has delicious pieces of pomegranate at the bottom.  Raspberry and Strawberry are other ones I enjoy, and Vanilla is pretty good too.  One I don’t love: Blood Orange.  I had blood orange froyo from a neighborhood place and thought Chobani’s would be a huge hit….but no.  It tasted like orange medicine (gross).

The fact that I love Chobani so much threw me, because I’ve never been a big fan of yogurt.  I also hate the taste of plain Greek yogurt (including Chobani’s plain yogurt).  But, I’ve always been a sucker for sweets… so maybe that’s why I love the fruity yogurt flavors?  Or maybe it’s because of the nutrition facts..

One package (like I had earlier) has 140 calories, no fat, 23 carbs, and 14 grams of protein.  Helloooo!  Lots of carbs = prime for me while I’m carbo loading.  My leg muscles are also a big fan of the protein content after long runs.  Basically, it’s perfect.

And now that I’ve written a small love story about Chobani, I think it’s time for me to go to bed.  And probably dream about yogurt.  ❤

I’m officially a real person!

Remember that one time when I didn’t write on here in forever?  Oh yeah, me too.  Things are finally settling down after a crazy week!

This past week has been extremely busy with packing up my apartment, GRADUATING!, and unpacking everythinggg.  It’s still strange for me to believe that I am no longer a student.  Goodbye books, helloooo office in the city.

 

Me after my last final (and realizing I’m done with school!)

After my last final on Tuesday, I spent the rest of the week packing, cleaning the apartment, and running.  Oh, and meeting up with my toga-wearingfriends.  It was great meeting up with my close friends – I’m going to miss seeing everyone!  In between all of these things, I also decorated my graduation cap:

running = ❤

Throughout this week, I ate very well.  Hanging out with friends, Joe and his family, and my family, meant lots and lots of going out to eat.  As much as I love going out though, I also love to cook and make my own meals.  Here is one meal I made during my last week as a college senior: my salmon salad.

i’m craving this so bad. if only i was still at school 😉

Salmon Salad
4 ounces salmon
1 Cup Chopped Romaine Lettuce
8 Cherry Tomatoes
1 TB Nordstrom’s Champagne Dressing

Cut salmon into small bite size pieces.  Add tomatoes and chopped lettuce.  Drizzle dressing over and ENJOY! 🙂  I wasn’t sure how the champagne dressing would mix with the salmon, but I absolutely loved it.  I enjoyed breadsticks on the side (from a nearby dorm cafeteria) for some carbs.

So delicious.

After writing this post, I am definitely craving salmon.  This recipe will definitely be re-created sometime this week.

Off to go do my run – only 6 miles today because I’m officially tapering!

 

21 Miler: Complete!

Hey there!

I have officially completed my hardest week of marathon training!  Yesterday was my 20 mile run, and…well… it was rough to say the least.  I started off running in 70-degree weather with 100% humidity.  I was feeling warm and strong, but Joe’s knees were acting up, so we decided to head back and I’d finish up on the treadmill.  Once on the treadmill, I realized I hadn’t been drinking enough.  Apparently trying to conserve water because it’s hot out isn’t a good idea?  I guess drinking water is necessary?  Ugh.  So the remaining 14 miles on the treadmill were painful, but I got through it!  I decided to go over 20 miles because of my start-and-stop (of moving indoors).  In total, I went about 21.34 miles.  Although it wasn’t my prettiest run, I was glad to have been able to finish it.  I feel slightly unprepared for the upcoming marathon because I don’t know how fast/slow I can run it, but I’m hoping come race day my body will know what to do.

Thankfully my body feels pretty good today.  I’m not too sore and considering I ran a little over 21 miles… I’ll consider that a success 🙂

After my run, I ate about a million things like always to re-fuel my body after a long run.  Immediately after my run, I had chocolate milk and a peanut butter Cliff Bar.  I’ve learned from other runners that it’s important to re-fuel quickly after a run.  They’ve said that chocolate milk is the “perfect” re-fueling choice.  Apparently, it has the best combination of protein and carbs.  Considering it has a bunch of both listed on the nutrition facts, and that my friends are pretty experienced, I’ll accept that.  I’ll also accept it because, well, it tastes so good 🙂

Later on, I ate a Subway Turkey Sandwich filled with veggies.  This was the best after having carbo-loaded the past few days and limiting my veggie intake.  I’m a veggie-aholic, so trying to cut down on fiber was hard.  I was so glad to finally get veggies in my life again (yes, “finally”, because 3 days really is that hard for me).

Usually after runs, I like to relax by watching some tv and laying out on the couch.  Of course I did that yesterday but I also wanted to do some baking.  I decided to make PB Finger’s Peanut Butter Energy Bites.  I made these a few weeks ago and loved them.  As did all of my friends, who keep asking me to bake them some more.  This time I decided to change the recipe slightly, and still received rave reviews.  Hopefully you enjoy them as well!

PB Energy Bites (adapted slightly from PB Finger’s recipe)
2 Cups Natural Peanut Butter
1 Cup Wheat Germ
2 Eggs
2/3 Cup Sugar
about 10 teaspoons mini chocolate chips (should have 1/4 tsp mini chocolate chips per cookie)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all of the ingredients together (dough will be thick and very different from traditional chocolate chip cookie dough).

See what I mean? Super thick

Roll tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough and place mini chocolate chips on top.

Uncooked PB Energy Bites

Place onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until bottom is slightly golden/browned.  Made approximately 43 cookies.  Share and enjoy!

Note: the original recipe contained 1 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup sugar to make approx 15 cookies.  I doubled this recipe so that I could share it, but I cut down on some sugar to make it slightly healthier.  I also added the chocolate chips for some fun and extra flavor 🙂

more cookies = more to share?

…maybe not

After baking, I enjoyed a delicious salmon dinner.  I purchased the salmon from a nearby restaurant and baked my own sweet potato fries.  I enjoyed this with my tomato-mozz creation 🙂  Ignore the broccoli…I managed to burn it during the steaming process.  Stupid broccoli.

salmon is my favorite

I ended the night with a double date with Joe, Antho, and Marta.  We saw The Avengers and it was great!  Such a fun night.  I also may have had some cereal, Goldfish, and another PB cookie before bed.  After the long run, I’m anything but sorry.  Food = fuel.

Questions for you:
– Do you ever do your runs half inside/half outside?
– How do you keep yourself motivated after having to pause a run?

My answers:
– Yes! Never really on purpose, but it happens.
– I keep myself motivated by thinking about everything I will eat after my run (which is everything).  I also like to distract myself by watching TV if I’m running inside.  Yesterday, I watched the Food Network for a bit and then Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Hope your next run goes well and has less starts-and-stops than mine!

Cal-za-dilla?

After the past few extremely busy days, I am so thankful and excited to finally sit down and relax for a little while.  Today was my last day of sitting through classes- ever!  Finals are next week, so school isn’t completely over for me, but I will be no longer attending classes on a regular basis!  Woohoo!  First plan of the day?  (Well, really, the second activity of the day after this…) NAPPING 🙂 woo!  Life is good.

Although the past few days have been really busy, I have made myself dinner every night.  I mean, we have to eat…might as well make this “obligation” a tasty treat and a relaxing break from studying!

On Sunday night, I attempted to make a pesto chicken & potato recipe, scaled down to one serving.  Unfortunately there were no pictures taken of the final product because… it was eaten too fast!   (Sorry I’m not sorry)  This recipe was modified from a Simply Potatoes recipe that my family has used for years.  Because I generally cook for one, I did not use the Simply Potatoes container (as it would be too much food for one person) or the suggested amount of chicken.  Instead, I used the following:

Ingredients:
1 Perdue Perfect Portion Chicken Breast
1 Cup Uncooked, Diced Potatoes
2 TB Pesto
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder (as desired)

Directions
Heat oven to 400F.  Spray 13×9 inch glass dish with Pam Cooking Spray.  In a small bowl, mix the pesto with the potatoes until well-coated.  Place pesto-potatoes in glass dish (making sure that none are on top of each other).  Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder on chicken breast. Place chicken breast on top of potatoes.  Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes until chicken juices run clear.  Until then, enjoy the aroma 🙂 and prepare a small side salad if desired.

This recipe was so good and reminded me of the delicious dinners I have with my family.  Because of this small cooking success, my desire to cook and create an entirely new recipe was sparked.  The next night, I made cal-za-dillas for dinner.  Cal-za-dilla?  Whaaa? Let me explain… 🙂

Sometimes I like to use common ingredients to make uncommon meals.  For example, when I eat at the dining hall I like to create unique meals.  Instead of eating the “sandwich of the day” they suggest, I make a “remix” and put my own spin on the foods they are serving.  Monday night proved to be a remix night because I used ingredients from the dining hall and from my apartment to create a delicious and different meal.  I was craving a calzone but didn’t want the associated grease.  A quesadilla also sounded good, but I generally get tired of the repetitive taste after about 5 bites.  I mean, c’mon, I like cheese and all but straight cheese and a tortilla is boringggg.  To change up this boring flavor, I imagined a meal with red sauce and vegetables added in.  Thus, the cal-za-dilla was born.
“Cal”: calzone
“za”: pizza (inspired by my meatball pizza recipe)
“dilla”: quesadilla

Cal-za-dilla

Hello, delicious.

Yeah, you’re right.  It was huge, delicious, and basically out-of-control.  And yes, that is only half of the cal-za-dilla.  Ready for a big meal?  Or, want to make one for someone who is?  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
1/4 diced green pepper
1/4 cup shredded mozz
1/2 mozz cheese stick
1/8 diced uncooked potato (uncooked leftovers from the night before, shh!)
1 cooked meatball (I used Anne Burrell’s recipe)
3/4 Cup Rao’s Arrabiata sauce (you can use whatever red sauce you like- but I like the spice in this one!)
1 Spinach Wrap

Directions:
Heat oven to 375.  While pre-heating, place 1/2 of the shredded cheese and diced green peppers on one side of the wrap.

mmm cheese

Chop the meatball into small slices, and place on top of wrap.  Add potatoes and Rao’s arrabiata sauce.  Peel the (1/2) cheese stick into small slices (your junior high self is totally loving this, don’t lie).  Place cheese stick slices around outside of wrap, and sprinkle rest of shredded mozz on top of sauce, like this:

*stomach growls*

Fold the wrap in half, and bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes (or until the wrap is as crunchy and warm as you would like).  Remember, the meatball is cooked so there is no raw meat involved in this dish.  You just need to bake it until it is as warm as your heart desires.

Note:
I tried putting yogurt butter on the outside of the wrap so that it would get a nice calzone crunch… and it didn’t really do anything.  If you decide to go this “crunchy” route and find something that truly gives it that extra-something, let me know what you did!  Even without the golden brown color, however, it still was a little crunchy (because the tortilla is so thin and cooked up quickly) and satisfied my overall cravings.

I mean, look at the stuffings in this guy…how could you not be satisfied?

Cal-za-dilla’s guts

Wondering how to pronounce this?  Well, it’s like kale-zah-dill-ah.  I know, I know, that’s not how you pronounce “dilla” in quesadilla.  But c’mon, I created this monster…and I watched Napoleon Dynamite too many times in high school. 😉

Dining Hall Remix

Hey there!  Hope you all had a great weekend!

This past weekend, I went home to attend a wedding, but had other fun throughout the weekend too!  Some of the highlights include:
– going to a new restaurant with the fam (they serve cavatelli- one of my favorite types of pasta!)
– successfully completing my 18-mile run
– attending the wedding!
– sleeping in

All weekends must come to an end, so I headed back to school today ready to attend my group project meetings.  And, as always, I headed back with a lot of food.  I will never turn down an offer for food.  Never.

Anyways, my mom gave me some sliced ham from The Honey Baked Ham Company.  If you haven’t had it, it’s delicious.  Sweet + Salty = YUM.  I haven’t gone grocery shopping for a while, so I decided to head over to a dining hall to “shop” for my sides. Unfortunately, they had run out of baked potatoes and baked sweet potatoes by the time I had gotten there.  With my starch ideas being gone, I had to look for a new side.  Rice with ham?  Nah.  Waffle fries with ham?  No.  Pasta with red sauce?  Nope (I’ve had pasta with red sauce the past four or five days).   I realized that in order to get a side dish filled with the carbs I wanted, I needed to start getting creative.  After a walk around of all the sections (Mexican, Asian, Healthy Options, Grill, Salad Station, Deli, and Pasta Bar), I decided to make my own pasta side.

Instead of using the pasta sauces given, I decided to make my own “mac & cheese” with: plain corkscrew pasta noodles, Parmesan cheese, and garlic powder.  Ingenious?  Not really.  A traditional option at the pasta bar? No.  Here’s my final dinner plate including: my “mac & cheese”, steamed broccoli (also from the dining hall), tomatoes (thanks again, dining hall), and my sliced ham from home.

"mac & cheese"

I’ve found that at dining halls, you really need to start getting creative.  No matter how many options your dining hall has, you will probably get tired of some meals and learn to avoid others.

Not sure of how to “re-mix” some dining hall options?  Here are some of my favorite ideas:

Refreshing Wrap:
-1 Spinach Wrap, 2 Slices Turkey, 3 Slices Cucumber, Small Handful of Fresh Spinach, 3 Slices Tomatoes, 2 TB Guacamole, 2 TB Ranch Dressing.
Spread guacamole on the wrap.  Then add turkey, cucumbers, spinach, and tomatoes.  Finally, drizzle ranch dressing and then wrap it up!  If you have a panini press, press it down until it’s nice and heated 🙂

Buffalo Wrap
-1 Spinach Wrap, 1 Chicken Breast, 1/4 Cup Lettuce, 3 Slices Tomatoes, 3 Slices Pickles, Hot Sauce , Ranch Dressing (optional).
Dice the chicken breast, then put that and all other ingredients into wrap, add hot sauce (make it as spicy as you want!) and dip it into ranch dressing.

Chili Cheese Dog
– Pretty self explanatory. Combine chili, shredded cheese, and a hot dog.  But, what if your dining hall already has this?
Add: Jalapenos, fresh tomatoes, and substitute Pepper-jack Cheese for cheddar cheese.

Ham & Pineapple Sandwich– similar to a sandwich I had while in Germany, so tasty!
– 2 Slices Wheat Bread, Slices of Pineapple, 3 Slices of Ham, Provolone Cheese.
-Place Provolone Cheese on one slice of bread, followed by the pineapple, and finally by the ham and other slice of bread.  (Avoid putting the pineapple directly on the bread, as this will make it soggy.)  Then, put it in a panini press and enjoy!

PB Waffle– I made this for breakfast the other day, and I’ll be having something similar to this tomorrow for my birthday breakfast!
-Belgian Waffle (we have waffle stations- so if you have this too, make it there! Otherwise, you can use whatever waffles they may be serving, or use french toast or pancakes instead), 2 TB Peanut Butter, 1 Banana
-Slice the banana.  Spread the peanut butter on the waffle/pancake/french toast and then add the banana on top.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Garlic & Oil Pasta
– Whole wheat pasta, 10 Cherry tomatoes, Garlic Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Olive Oil
-Super easy! Add the cherry tomatoes to the pasta, drizzle with olive oil (until the pasta has received a good drizzle-but it shouldn’t be floating!), and then finish with garlic powder and red pepper flakes to taste.  If you like cheese, add some Parmesan cheese as well!

Hope some of these recipes help you to change-up your normal dining hall meals!  (Or, give you ideas to make at home!)

Questions for you:
-How do you change your normal recipes to make them “new” again?