Yummy Stuffed Shells

I’m an Italian girl at heart so I love me some Italian food. I made ricotta cheese stuffed shells for one of the dinner meals for this week.

Here is all of the ingredients I used:

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Ingredients:

1 box of jumbo pasta shells

1 32 oz. container ricotta

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup shredded Parmesan

2 cups of fresh spinach, chopped

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Pinch of ground thyme

Pinch of garlic salt

1 26-oz. jar marinara sauce

1/2 cup of fresh parsley

1/2 cup of fresh basil

Next, cook pasta shells according to package label directions; drain and set aside to cool. While pasta cooks, in a large bowl, stir together ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, basil and garlic salt.

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Spread 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce over bottom of baking dish. Stuff shells with cheese-and-spinach mixture and place in dish.

At this point, you can freeze the meal for later or you can go ahead and cook for dinner. I decided to split the meal in half; I put half in the fridge for dinner during the week and I froze the other half for a meal later in the month.

If you decide to go ahead and cook the meal for dinner, you will want to pour the remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 10 minutes longer, until bubbly and cheese begins to brown.

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I served the shells with a Caesar salad and some garlic bread. The perfect combination!

I hope everyone is having a great Thursday aka Friday eve!

Motto of the day:

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
― Maya Angelou

 

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President’s Day Prep Day

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. My boyfriend and I decided to stay in and cook dinner together. We went to Jungle Jim’s on Saturday morning to pick up some Ahi Tuna steaks, brussel sprouts and risotto for our Valentine’s Day meal. Cincinnati ended up getting about 3 inches of snow so it was a good night to stay in, cook dinner and watch a movie.

Since I work for a bank, I had yesterday off! Got to love bank holidays. I decided to use my day off by going to the grocery and making some dinner meals for the week. Last night for meatless Monday dinner, we had 7 layer tostadas. Pretty simple and basic. I also made Chicken Pot Pie and Stuffed Shells for dinners during the week.

-Chicken Pot Pie Recipe-

INGREDIENTS

1.5 pounds of chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)

2 cups of chicken broth

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 onion, diced

4 carrots, diced

4 celery stocks, diced

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

4 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup of flour

1 cup of milk

1 cup of frozen peas

1 cup of frozen corn

2 frozen pie crust

Pillsbury pie topping

FILLING

Dice up your carrots, onion and celery and sauté in butter in a big skillet over medium heat until tender. Add flour; stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and milk; cook, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbles. Remove from heat and stir in chicken, peas, corn, salt, and pepper.

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Cool before pouring into pie crusts. VERY important! I put the filling in the fridge for about 45minutes. After, I scooped the filling into both of the pie crusts and topped with pie topping.

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1 with pie topping and 1 without 🙂

FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS:
Cover with foil, label and freeze.
TO PREPARE POT PIE FROM FROZEN
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake 30 more minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 16 (from two pies–if you’re just making one pie it will just serve 8).
Freezes very well separately or fully prepared in the crust. Try them both and see which way you prefer!

Tomorrow, I will post about my Stuffed Shells recipe; one of my favorite meals! 😛

Have a great night everyone!

Motto of the day:

“The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”

Birthday Festivities

It was my birthday yesterday… 2.11. It was a great day! I woke up to my boyfriend making me an egg and avocado sandwich (my fave) and went to bed with new memories and a lot to be grateful for.

My co-friends are so thoughtful! They got me a birthday cake to celebrate my special day. A co-worker of mine, Alecia, also picked up my lunch tab at Bru Burger Bar which is delicious by the way! If you have one nearby, I recommend checking it out. I ordered a Ground Turkey burger with carrot-ginger slaw, peach cambote and curry mayo and if course, onion rings. The burger and onion rings were out of this world. I do apologize for not snapping a photo of my delicious lunch meal. Next time I go for lunch, I will make sure to snap a photo to share!

After work, my boyfriend and I grabbed a quick bite before the terrarium class we signed up for, which started at 7pm. We learned that last nights class was the first terrarium class offered in the Cincinnati area. It turned out to be a lot of fun. It was at a bar in Mt.Adams, however, classes are offered all over the city. There were about 20 people in the class and everyone seemed to be having a blast. The class ended up being about 2 hours long and the instructor was very bubbly and outgoing. Since the class was at a bar,  we were able to drink while we made the terrariums; pretty cool,huh? 😎 The instructor also had a backdrop with some fun accessories to take some photos.

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The atmosphere was a lot of fun and the terrariums turned out great!

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I would recommend this experience  to anyone who enjoys plants! I will definitely be going back. If you are interested, checkout the website: Plant Nite website.

After we got home,  I opened a few gifts from Evan. He made this incredible necklace holder that I am absolutely in love with.

I couldn’t believe he made this all by himself. I had know idea he was such a handy man. Best present I have ever received! Bring it on 31. I am ready for ya!

Happy Friday everyone! I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.

Motto of the day:

“Go to the people and places that spark your soul.”

Meatless Monday

How exciting was that Super Bowl game last night? Ahhhh I was so happy for Peyton Manning. Thank goodness for Denver’s defense; Vaughn Miller is a beast. He definitely deserved MVP. And that halftime show?! I think Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars killed it! Lady Gaga also blew my mind with the National Anthem. Who knew her voice was so good?! Definitely a Super Bowl game that will always be remembered.

After all the chicken wings we devoured last night, I decided to go with a Meatless dish for dinner tonight. I’m making Moroccan Cauliflower Chickpea Pitas. Sounds healthy and delicious. I can never get enough veggies and look what tonight’s dinner entails of:

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I used garlic naan to stuff the above goodness in and topped with feta and a cucumber feta dill sauce. The recipe calls for taziki sauce (which I love!) but I took the lazy way out since I didn’t get home until almost 6pm. The Marzetti’s Cucumber Dill Feta sauce is a good substitute if you are pressed on time. The pitas turned out delicious; way better than I expected.

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Here’s the recipe that inspired me to make this delicious meal:

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Thanks #joyfulhealthyeats. I love her recipes.

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Monday!

Motto of the day:

“One kind word can change someone’s entire day.”

 

 

Super Bowl Sunday

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and you know what that means… Some delicious finger food to look forward to. We are just staying home this year and enjoying the game from the comfort of our own couch. Here’s what’s on the menu in our household:

-Honey Sriracha wings

-Garlic Parmesan wings

-Veggies with homemade ranch, blue cheese and hummus

-Homemade curly fries using the spiral vegetable slicer

First, a walk around the neighbor with Evan and a visit to my friend, Brigitte’s house before food prep begins!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone! Go Denver Broncos!

Motto of the day:

“Some things must be believed to be seen.”

Soap Making Time

I occasionally make my own soap from time to time. Tonight I thought I would share a quick lesson with you. Making bar soap is fairly easy but you need to make sure to follow the directions or else things could go horribly wrong.

First things first….Supplies

2/3 cup of olive oil

2/3 cup of coconut oil

2/3 cup of grape seed oil

1/4 cup of lye (sodium hydroxide)

3/4 cup of distilled water

stainless steel mixing bowl

Handheld blender

measuring cups

2 pint glasses

thermometer

any oil or color additives (I used lemongrass and lemon eucalyptus)

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Next, cover your work area with newspaper. Put your gloves on and lets get started! Measure your water into the mason jar. Have a spoon ready. Measure your lye, making sure you have exactly ¼ cup. Slowly pour the lye into the water, stirring as you go. Stand back while you stir to avoid the fumes as you stir the lye into the water. When the water starts to clear, you can allow it to sit while you move to the next step.
In the pint glass, add your three oils together. They should just make a pint. Heat in a microwave for about a minute, or place the jar of oils in a pan of water to heat. Check the temperature of your oils – it should be about 120° or so. Your lye should have come down by then to about 120°. Wait for both to cool somewhere between 95° and 105°. This is critical for soap making. Too low and it’ll come together quickly, but be coarse and crumbly.
When both the lye and oils are at the right temperature, pour the oils into a mixing bowl. Slowly add the lye, stirring until it’s all mixed. Stir by hand for a full 5 minutes. It’s very important to get as much of the lye in contact with as much of the soap as possible. After about 5 minutes, you can keep stirring or you can use an immersion blender (like this). The soap mixture will lighten in color and become thick. When it looks like vanilla pudding it’s at “trace” and you’re good to go. (Watch this video to see what trace looks like.)

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Add your herbs, essential oils or other additions at this point. Stir thoroughly to combine. Pour the mixture into mold(s) and cover with plastic wrap.

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Set in an old towel and wrap it up. This will keep the residual heat in and start the saponification process. Saponification is the process of the base ingredients becoming soap.
After 24 hours, check your soap. If it’s still warm or soft, allow it to sit another 12-24 hours. When it’s cold and firm, turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper or baking rack. If using a loaf pan as your mold, cut into bars at this point. Allow soap to cure for 4 weeks or so. Be sure to turn it over once a week to expose all the sides to air (which is not necessary if using a baking rack).

When your soap is fully cured, wrap it in wax paper or keep it in an airtight container. And that’s it! Not too difficult, huh? Here’s a picture of some soap I made a month or so ago.

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Love me some natural soap!

Happy Friday eve everyone!

Motto of the day:

“Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.”

Tiger Tuesday

Today was a pretty blah day so I’m going to share an exciting time my boyfriend and I had on January 2nd of this year. This experience was a Christmas gift from my boyfriend. We went to this place called Wildlife in Need. It’s located in Charlestown, In. What is this place you ask? Wildlife in Need, Inc. is a nonprofit organization in Charlestown, Indiana dedicated to the rehabilitation & release of indigenous wildlife & provision of permanent safe harbor to an array of exotic & endangered species. Run by Tim & Melisa Stark, and a handful of dedicated and hard working volunteers, WIN is supported 100% through public support, donations received through tours, fundraisers, public events, and presentations.

So what does all that information exactly mean? Well, we got to play with baby tigers, baby monkeys, a baby otter and a few baby Bulldogs. I was most excited about the baby tigers. They were so adorable! They were 14 weeks old and they were a decent size already. The volunteers explained that after the 15 week mark, the public can no longer play with the baby tigers due to safety reasons. I wanted to take one home with me!

Apparently this place has received a lot of bad press recently; however, once you visit this place you can tell how passionate Tom Stark is about his animals. He is a kind man who is trying to help these endangered species. I wouldn’t believe anything the media has negatively portrayed about this refuge. Look at a tiger the size of Simba giving kisses to Tom Stark. Too cute! 😊

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All in all, I would highly recommend visiting Wildlife in Need. I cannot wait to go back. If the refuge was closer, I would volunteer on the weekends. Last but not least… Price. It was $30 per person for tiger playtime. Playtime ended up being a little under an hour. A volunteer went over some informational stuff for the first 15 minutes or so but 45 min was dedicated to baby tiger time! At the end, you had the option to take a picture with the baby tiger for a $20 donation.

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All donations go to the animals and their homes. Tom Stark is currently doing a lot of renovations/additions to the outdoor area of the refuge. He’s hoping to reopen the outdoor area to the public in the spring. A perfect reason to go back!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday!

Motto of the day:

“We have more to learn from animals than animals have to learn from us.”