Monday, April 29, 2013

roasted spaghetti squash with homemade marinara sauce

Let me start by apologizing for the lack of posts recently.

Things have been so crazy over here!

Between cleaning, shopping, preparing for the big move {this Friday!!}, and being really busy at work, it's been tough for me to find the time to share what I've been cooking up lately.
But I haven't forgotten about you.
And I do have a few things up my sleeve that I've been saving for when the time came.

Like our experiment with spaghetti squash.

Which, by the way, I'm considering a success because Joe doesn't like squash and he ate a whole bowl of it!
I was one proud lady that night.

Way to be a good sport, my love.

Things you'll need:

1 medium sized spaghetti squash
dash of sea salt
dash of black pepper

For sauce:
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large cans of whole, peeled, organic tomatoes
2-3 tbsp oregano
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
splash of almond milk {or any other milk/cream you prefer}
1/8 cup reduced fat Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice squash in half lengthwise.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake {rind side up} for 30-40 minutes, until tender.

Run a fork through the flesh of the squash from one end to the other, separating it into strands.
{like spaghetti!}

For sauce:
Saute garlic in olive oil until slightly golden brown.
Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and oregano.
Using a hand blender, puree tomatoes.
Be sure not to blend too long! You want them to be a little chunky for some texture.
Add Parmesan cheese, a splash of milk, and simmer as long as you like.
I simmered for about 20 minutes.

And there you have it.
A healthy "spaghetti" dinner in 30 minutes!

According to MyFitnessPal:

Serving size: 1 cup spaghetti squash
Cals/serving: 42
Fat/serving: 0.4g
Protein/serving: 1g
Carbs/serving: 10g

Serving size: 1/2 cup sauce
Cals/serving: 28
Fat/serving: 0.1g
Protein/serving: 1.1g
Carbs/serving: 6.3g

The sauce recipe makes a pretty good bit.
We jarred ours up and used it to make pizzas last weekend, which turned out delicious!
I also gave a jar away.
Who doesn't like getting homemade sauce as a gift?

That's right.
No one.

Also, for those of you who are intimated by the spaghetti squash...
So was I.
But I promise it was surprisingly easy to make and was actually really tasty!
I had my reservations about it, and I really was pleasantly surprised.
And to save 150-180 calories per cup by making the switch from regular noodles?
No question.

Other things we've been up to...

Finally got those succulents at Ikea I had my eye on.

Celebrated a wedding at one of the most beautiful venues.

Lots of fun lunch dates with Joe, which led to the discovery of the best cheesecake/mousse dessert ever.
Did I mention it was only $5?
$5 people!

Visited Joe's parents.  AJ followed around Joe's dad the entire weekend, of course.

Teaching pup how to be more hip.

Now that we're all caught up, you can expect to see more of me around these parts.
Tune in tomorrow for the big Foodie Penpals reveal for this month!

Happy Monday friends!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

fresh strawberry lime margaritas + a bonus recipe!

Last weekend was what I like to call "The Weekend of the Strawberry."

I'm calling it that and not "The Weekend of the Strawberry Margarita" because, in my defense, I have been making a ton of salads with strawberries too.

You know, to balance out the copious amount of margs.

Remember back when I said I was going to try these?
Well, I finally got around to it.
Only took two months.

And now I wish I did it sooner because oh my gosh.
The glory.

recipe adapted via

Things you'll need:
{recipe for a pitcher}

1 cup silver Tequila
1/2 cup Triple Sec {optional}
1 cup strawberry simple syrup {recipe below}
3/4 cup lime juice
lime and strawberries for garnish
salt/sugar for rim

Strawberry simple syrup:

Bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Let cool completely.
Combine 1-1.5 cups sliced strawberries with simple syrup in a blender, and blend until combined.


Combine tequila, triple sec, strawberry simple syrup, and lime juice in blender and pulse three or four times to combine.
*Optional: For frozen margaritas, add 1-2 cups of ice and blend until it's the consistency you like.
{We tried them on the rocks and frozen...obviously both are amazing.}
Run a lime wedge along the rim of your glass and dip in salt, sugar, or salt/sugar mixture.
I didn't have actual limes so I wet the rim with margarita, which turned my sugar a nice shade of pink.
Add a couple sliced strawberries and a lime wedge for garnish, and enjoy!

This was the perfect addition to girls' night in Athens last weekend.
I mean is there really anything better than homemade cocktails and vampire movie night?

Obviously the answer is no.

Hope you're all having a great week so far!
We're almost to the weekend already, can you believe it?!

Oh, and if you're wishing I shared something non-boozy today, then you're in luck.

I'm over at Fitness & Feta today sharing a recipe for my No-Bake Dessert Balls!

If you have a sweet tooth but want to be calorie conscious, these little buddies are for you.
{84 cals each!}

Happy Thursday!

Friday, April 12, 2013

friday things + DIY lip scrub


Is three times enough to say that?

I am super excited about this weekend.
Particularly because it starts at 5:00 today with an overnight trip to Athens!

I don't think I'll ever stop getting that giddy feeling when I make trips to Athens.
Home away from home.

The trip came about because I have a lingerie shower to go to tomorrow for my dear friend, Steph, who's wedding I'm in this June.
So tonight, Ashley, Steph, and I are going to do what any girls in their mid-20s would do on a Friday night.
Make margaritas and watch Breaking Dawn.


This week I honestly didn't cook too much...mostly out of laziness, I suppose.
However, I did make my first actual shopping trip to Whole Foods and got some fun stuff to experiment with next week!
One of which is spaghetti squash, which I am totally pumped about trying and Joe is...let's say...less than thrilled about.
I'm determined to get him on board though.
Stay tuned.

Other things I've been up to...

Playing with my new Mason jars and juicing up a storm.
Pictured above: an apple, carrot, celery concoction.

In the last two weeks I've had approximately seven hazlenut macchiatos.

Wrote my first guest post for a fellow blogger!
You will see the recipe for these babies coming soon over at Fitness & Feta.
Don't worry, I'll be sure to let you know what day so you can check them out!

And lastly, I made a lip scrub that I've fallen in love with so much that I decided it had to be shared.
Why people buy $20 lip scrubs when you can make one yourself with things already in your kitchen is beyond me.

Things you'll need:

1 small glass container, like these 
2 tsp honey
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice


Add honey to jar and heat in microwave for 5-7 seconds.
Add coconut oil {stir until melted if you use the solid kind like I did}.
Add lemon juice.
Slowly at sugar a few tablespoons at a time until you get the consistency you want.
You want it to be like a body scrub would be...not liquidy, but coarse and easy to spread.
Don't worry about messing up though, because you can always add more liquid or more sugar to compensate!

To use:

Put a little on your finger and rub on lips for 20-30 seconds in a circular motion to exfoliate.
Rinse with warm water.
Apply chapstick or lip balm.

I've done this twice a day {when I wake up and before I go to bed} all week, and my lips 100% stopped peeling after day two.
It's amazing!

So get to scrubbing, lovelies.

And enjoy the beautiful weekend that's ahead!

Monday, April 8, 2013

pork medallions with sweet and spicy sauce

I swear I had every intention of posting this recipe on Friday, but somehow time got away from me.

If you live anywhere near Atlanta, you know time flew by this weekend because there were approximately one million things going on.
Enter Final Four festivities, free concerts at Centennial, multiple Braves games, G-day, and {my personal fave} the Color Run!

Granted we only participated one of the fun things I listed, but time still went by crazy quick because we were out enjoying the beautiful weather and watching a ridiculous amount of sports with friends.

I really wanted to throw a trip to Ikea into that list of activities, but it just wasn't happening with the outrageous amount of traffic everywhere.
I am determined to pick up some succulents for our new apartment soon, though.
Yeah, we're not moving for a month.
I'm impatient.

Let's get to the food.

These pork medallions were an idea that was inspired by Clean Eating mag and turned out totally amazing.
Especially considering I dressed them in a sauce totally different from anything I've ever made before.

Needless to say, I was nervous.
If there's anything I know my man loves, it's meat and potatoes.
So pouring an experimental sauce all over his meat before he even had a chance to taste it was quite terrifying.

It went swimmingly though, thank goodness!

Things you'll need:

1 pork loin, sliced into 12 medallions
sea salt
black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (or 1/2 cup apple butter)
dash of cinnamon
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Sriracha {optional}
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tsp honey

Let's talk about the sauce really quick.
First off, the original recipe calls for apple butter.
However, I didn't have that, so I mixed unsweetened applesauce with a pinch of cinnamon and microwaved it for 2 minutes to create my own apple butter substitute.
After that, I mixed my faux-apple butter with ginger, soy sauce, lemon juice, Sriracha, and honey.
Bring to a boil on medium heat, then cover and simmer on low for 4-5 minutes.
Be sure to taste it!
If it's not sweet enough, add a tad more honey.
If it's too sweet, add a tad more soy sauce or Sriracha.
You get the point.

Trim your tenderloin as needed and slice your medallions.
Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat, and add medallions.

Cook on each side for 5-6 minutes, until cooked thoroughly.
I did six medallions at a time for six minutes on each side, and they turned out beautifully.
Thoroughly cooked and not tough whatsoever.

Drizzle with sauce and serve with your favorite side!

These would be great with asparagus or a pretty spring salad.
I served them with my spicy roasted red potatoes because we've had a 10 pound bag sitting on our counter for a week now begging to be used.

According to MyFitnessPal:

Serving size: 3 medallions
Cals/serving: 120
Carbs/serving: 6g
Fat/serving: 15g
Protein/serving: 57g

Also, FYI, the entire sauce recipe is only 112 calories.
For the entire pot.
So per serving it's anywhere between 5-10 calories.
Not bad for a sauce, if I do say so myself.

What did you guys do this weekend?
Anything exciting?

I know I'm not alone when I say I absolutely hate Mondays.

But at least it's a pretty one!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

light alfredo sauce, aka i'll never buy ready-made sauce again

BREAKING NEWS: You can have Fettuccine Alfredo for dinner and still be healthy!

I know.
You probably don't believe me.
Since we all know Alfredo sauce is hands down one of the dieter's worst nightmares.

I know it's one of mine.

Mostly because it tastes so good.
Undoubtedly because it's full of butter and cream.
Again, dieter's worst nightmares.

Let me just throw these numbers at you real quick.
Did you know that one serving of Alfredo sauce at Olive Garden is 380 calories?

And that's on top of all the pasta.
Which brings the dinner portion of an order of Fettuccine Alfredo to a whopping 1,220 calories!
With 75 grams of fat!!!

FYI, just to put that in perspective, my entire daily calorie intake is between 1,200 and 1,400.

No wonder America has weight problems!

So, now that I'm done ranting about that, I'll get to the point.
Remember that basil fettuccine I received from my penpal?

image via

When I saw this I immediately had a vision in my head of shrimp and broccoli Alfredo.
But, I was determined to make a sauce that wouldn't ruin all the hard work I've put in the last few months correcting my diet and exercising.

{I'll go ahead and apologize for advance about having no pictures of this delicious dinner...honestly I didn't expect it to turn out as amazing as it did, so it didn't even cross my mind to photograph the steps!}

There's been a lot of hype in the food blog world lately about making your own sauces and salad dressings, and I think I'm finally jumping on that train after this major success.

Things you'll need:
{recipe adapted from here}

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
2 cups 1% organic milk
1 cup 99% fat free chicken broth
3-4 tbsp flour
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup reduced fat grated Parmesan cheese

Saute minced garlic in olive oil on medium heat until golden brown.
Add milk, chicken broth, flour, salt, and pepper.
Whisk until thick.
Stir in Parmesan cheese and whisk until melted.

Serve over your favorite pasta dish!
Mine at the moment just so happened to include medium-sized shrimp, organic broccoli florets, and that amazing basil fettuccine, which you can buy here on Amazon or at a store near you.

According to MyFitnessPal:

Serving size: little less than 1/2 cup
Cals/serving: 73
Fat/serving: 3
Carbs/serving: 8
Protein/serving: 4

Seriously, 73 calories versus 380?
3 grams of fat versus 75?!

We will eat Fettuccine Alfredo and still have our summer bodies, yet.
Just you watch.

Monday, April 1, 2013

foodie penpal reveal day!

This month I participated in my first activity as a wannabe food blogger, Foodie Penpals.

My penpal this month was Leah MacKenzie over at MacKenzie Memories, and let me just tell you.
She nailed my taste down to a tee!
Here's what she sent {all the way from Minnesota!}:

  • Basil Fettuccini noodles - As suggested, we'll be trying this sometime this week with chicken, broccoli, and alfredo sauce.  They look delicious!
  • Granola from 3 Tiers Bakery Bistro - This stuff is amazing.  I've hidden it in my desk at work and have been having it for breakfast everyday for the last week.  True story.
  • Midwest Spice Rub - I am looking forward to trying this on chicken {and maybe fish?} at our new apartment, where we are allowed to have our very own grill! This couldn't have been sent at a better time, obviously.
  • Chile Limon Chocolate Bar - This I am loving.  It's so different...unlike any chocolate I've ever tried before.  It combines my love of dark chocolate with my absolute favorite food quality - spice.  This stuff hints that it will be spicy and it is.  So interesting!  {This is also being hoarded in my desk at work...sorry, boyfriend.}
  • Lemonades - Who doesn't love Girl Scout cookies?  Now spring can officially start.
  • PROBAR Fruition bars - Monday and Tuesday last week, before I started stuffing my face with granola everyday, I tried these for breakfast.  So good!  Finding a breakfast bar made with ingredients that I can recognize and pronounce is tough, so these were perfect!  I liked them both, but I think the blueberry was my favorite out of the two...just by a shmidge.
  • A cute little postcard with facts about Minnesota!

Thank you so much for my package, Leah!
I loved everything and have signed up for another month since this was such a success.
You're awesome!


Are you interested in joining us for Foodie Penpals next month? Here are some more details:
  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
  • Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 
If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for April, please CLICK HERE  to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.
You must submit your information by April 4th as pairings will be emailed on April 5th!
*If you’re from Europe, please CLICK HERE to signup.
Have a great Monday, everyone!