Spooky Pasta

Happy Halloween!!

photo 3 (1)

Isn’t my baby cousin the cutest!? She has multiple Halloween costumes today… such a princess already 🙂

Last night I made “Spooky Pasta” which used mainly healthy ingredients (minus the cheese!) and it was a big hit. It also includes Pumpkin and has a TON of protein… Good way to get your children to eat something different (or your husband).

photo 2 (1)

Spooky Pasta

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces pasta (I used mung bean pasta which is Gluten Free and has 20 grams of protein per serving)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup rice milk (or whatever milk you use)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Cook the pasta as directed on the package.
  • Melt the butter in pan over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  • Add the milk, broth, pumpkin puree, goat cheese, Parmesan and pumpkin pie spice and simmer until the cheese has melted.
  • Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  • Poor sauce over cooked pasta and serve on a plate.
  • Add 2 goat cheese circles for eyes. I had to use chocolate chips for the eyeball but an olive would work best!

Enjoy!

photo 2 (1)

Hope everyone has a fun Halloween! If you get a chance, watch this 2 minute video my brother sent me about giving children healthy candy.

Work Appropriate Halloween Costumes

I’ve always liked Halloween. It’s not my favorite holiday, but it’s not my least favorite either. I like dressing up, I LOVE handing out candy to the kids as they parade around in their cute costumes and I always enjoy an excuse to eat Reese’s peanut butter cups.

photo 3 (innocent days)

photo 1 (not so innocent days)

This was the first year I didn’t go to a Halloween party so I figured I’d dress up for work. As you can see, my recent costume choices are inappropriate for the workplace but I found plenty that weren’t!

 

Minnie Mouse

halloween 018

 

Dwight from The Office

9dd96d5423f375d8aebca50905213060

 

Pregnant Mummy

ae8eca622b1de50336ce8dd002f7f5a9

 

Popeye and Olive Oil

30da798e504d59b85b2ab656e6f897ad

 

Wonder Woman

c600x51221

 

Audrey Hepburn

cc33ce22f7574fcceb6ffa2f1d77c034

 

Astronaut

halloween 009

 

Dorothy

SONY DSC

Rosie the Riveter

258bb5815b7911abcb7d6d7631dbf9ae halloween-costume-party-easy-costumes-ideas-rosie-the-riveter-3

Leopard Kitty Cat

SONY DSC SONY DSC

Scarecrow

10320906624_aa61802367_o

Are you dressing up for Halloween? 

One Year Ago…

One year ago Hurricane Sandy (<— my first post) ripped through New Jersey ruining and wrecking a lot of peoples homes, businesses and lives. Included in the mess was our apartment, which was flooded with 4 feet of water. At the time, we lived in a studio on ground level and we were in an area that was hit pretty badly.

PicMonkey Collage

These are just a few pictures from our apartment during our clean-up. Adam and I cleaned the entire apartment ourselves (carrying a wet mattress is serious work!) and it took us almost 6 hours. Did i mention it was cold? No heat, no electricity.. Just us swishing around in our snow pants and snow boots. The smell was horrid. Think gasoline + sewage + a dirty Hudson river… Really foul.

At the time, I was angry… But, in retrospect, we got lucky…

We didn’t own this apartment so we only had to replace our belongings. Some people lost homes they built (or owned) PLUS everything inside.

We were safe… Some people lost their lives. The story of the woman who lost her 2 children still hurts my heart.

We had family nearby that welcomed us into their warm home… Some had to scrape up their money to stay in a hotel.

Others who were renting had landlords who were waiting for insurance money (which took about 8 months!)… Our landlord started demoing the next day.

In times like these, you also see that there is still good in the world. Restaurants offered free food, residents set up power charging stations outside of their house and people from near and far donated items that others needed.

charging-station

We’ve learned a lot from this disaster, but I would say the most important thing is… Don’t take anything in your life for granted. When you can’t use your cell phone, computer, lie on your couch, turn on your lights, take a hot shower, have heat in your home and make dinner in your kitchen you notice every small thing you take for granted. We are lucky that all we had was a destroyed apartment. It could have been much worse.

Click here to see “Then and Now” pictures courtesy of Steve Gebhardt from the Roosevelts. It’s amazing to see how far we have come!

Halloween Friday Favorites

Can this year slowwww dowwwwn? I didn’t realize Halloween was next week until my little brother texted me asking what he should dress up as. I used to go out on Halloween and buy 3 outfits for the “events”. But now I’m much more of a homebody so I think I’ll just be me this year. I do however, like any excuse to decorate – so here are my Halloween favorites!

Favorite way to store drinks at a Halloween Party

accf1e4b4c8ddc0871428b0de4d75585

Favorite Halloween nails

ad3d9520419a8087d9984d460343fbc3

Favorite Spooky Drink (add champagne)

dac43b664a89da8bceaac72d9e778c21

Favorite no mess pumpkin design

10b352e856e2a67f8e467ab07632d738

Favorite Halloween sweet treat

7e9379dbd118dd4bb9370f73bf99e601

Favorite creative couples costume (DIY)

016ed44023f866ade02bd8d898081e5c

Favorite tablescape

d1127b8e077e148771c6bdd26ff80609

Favorite non-sweet Halloween treat

6da6b7964ef05be9d409efa11d702b70

Favorite Halloween party decor

3b14d573d1cda5227bb03fd8320494f8

Favorite casual piece to wear to work on Halloween

e922490c63a1989ed6f3e057be1b773d

Favorite creative kids costume (DIY)

1503c83c557c49bcbeb6e73fe0e817af

Favorite Halloween centerpiece 

340f4f8843806ae2ee664002307fabc2

 

 

Quinoa Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

I saw these Quinoa cookies last week and thought “Hmmm, that sounds intriguing”. I’m a big fan of quinoa but have never tried it in a sweet dish. (PS: this Bud Light commercial cracks me up every single time) I decided I was going to give these a go but that they were missing a certain ingredient. A cookie isn’t a cookie without something sweet!

photo3

Quinoa Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup raw quinoa
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (vegan or regular)

Directions:

  • Add quinoa to a fine mesh stainer and rinse well before using in this recipe.
  • Add water and quinoa to a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Once complete, remove from the stove, remove lid and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Set aside.
  • Add flour, sugar, ground flax, pumpkin pie spice and salt to a large bowl. Then, measure 1½ cups of the cooked quinoa and add to the dry ingredients. Stir to coat, until all quinoa granules are covered in the mixture. Set aside.
  • Add pumpkin, oil, vanilla, egg white and honey to a small bowl and stir well.
  • Pour the wet mixture in with the dry mixture and stir to combine.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • One tablespoon at a time, scoop mixture onto prepared baking sheet, leaving a small space between each cookie. They will not spread out, so you can keep the cookies close. Lightly form each cookie, as you’d like them to come out. I flattened them slightly with a spoon.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until cooked through and golden.
  • Remove from the oven, let cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack and allowing them to cool for a couple of hours. Because cooked quinoa was used in this recipe, the longer you leave it to cool, the firmer your cookies will become. Leave them be and they will transform!
  • Cookies can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. (Will make about 30 cookies)

Enjoy!

 

Virtual Breakfast Date

I’ve seen bloggers write these beautiful posts straight from the heart every once in a while and simply calls them “coffee dates”. Like, what would I say to you if we were sitting at a little cafe enjoying our breakfast and catching up on life. I just love the idea so I decided to borrow it! But, I don’t drink coffee (GASP!) so we will catch up over breakfast. 🙂

photo

If we were having breakfast this morning I would tell you that today is my Dad’s 53rd birthday. As you know, my dad passed away exactly 11 months ago. Most days it’s easy to push the thought that he’s “really gone” out of my head. But, today was tough. I listened to this song he posted a few days before he passed away and this song he told me that was his song to me. I’m not usually an emotional person, but sometimes you gotta let it out.

photo (1)

If we were having breakfast this morning I’d tell you that I plan on doing this workout today. I can already feel the burn. Who wants to join me?

 

16f4987c2a0311e39bac22000a9f13d0_8

If we were having breakfast this morning I’d tell you that I am OBSESSED with these boots. They are so comfortable and fit perfectly.

photo (2)

If we were having breakfast this morning, I would show you this amazing gift my best friend Michelle gave me for our 1 year anniversary. I actually tried making one of these for Adam and failed miserably so this was perfect!

photo (3)

If we were having breakfast I would tell you that my Grandma has an AMAZING ice cream selection. Who needs Coldstone when you can go to Grandma’s? (PS: I taste “tested” every single one.)

photo (4)

If we were having breakfast, I’d tell you there is nothing like the view from my apartment in NJ… But, i sure do miss my family (and friends!) in Maryland.

photo

If we were having breakfast, I’d tell you that I hope god blesses me with at least one little girl. I took these two shopping last weekend and they had me laughing the entire day.

photo (6)

 

If we were having breakfast, I’d tell you that you HAVE to buy these pumpkin and cranberry crisps and then smother them in goat cheese. One of the best fall snacks to eat on your couch.

photo (7)

If we were having breakfast I’d tell you next time, we should catch up over a glass of wine.

photo (5)

Because who doesn’t love wine?

 

Tailgating Tips & Recipes

This past weekend I traveled to Maryland for the Redskins game. I’m a huge football fan so anytime I can watch a game live, I make the dreaded trip down the NJ Turnpike. Tailgating before a game is essential to having a good time. Seasoned tailgaters always come prepared (and so should you), so here is a list to make sure your tailgating party is a success.

1. Show up Early

1390714_874727194569_526342081_n

In order to get the full enjoyment out of tailgating, you need to make sure you leave yourself enough time before the game. We show up about 3 to 4 hours before the game to set up. That should give you plenty of time to cook the food, play some games and just hang out with your group.

2. Find a Good Parking Spot

parkinglot

 

We park in the same spot for every game. There is always someone playing music with their speakers, we’re close enough to the bathrooms and in a spot with easy leaving access to beat the traffic at the end.

3. Get decked out.

1040_874257001839_91576559_n 1378219_874727334289_784279859_n

Show your team spirit. This past week was particularly tricky in the dressing department. The parking lot was windy and chilly and the stadium was HOT. Bring layers so you can accommodate the weather change.

4.  Don’t forget the booze.

ff1c6243ab4033c609e10043e604eb73

Alcohol is expensive inside. We’re talking $12 for a beer and $14 for a liquor drink. Drink (responsibly) before the game to reduce the amount of purchases you will want to make inside.

5. Bring delicious food!

tailgate

Knowing what is on the menu for the day gets me excited. We like to make a variety of finger foods because food is also very expensive inside (not to mention,  unhealthy). Here are some of my favorite tailgating recipes.

Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip

Pizza Rolls

Touchdown Brownies

Avocado Egg Rolls

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Potato Rings with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Buffalo Chicken Dip

White Pizza Dip

Mini Pretzel Dogs

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Sloppy Joe Sliders

Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs

Beer Mac & Cheese

Bourbon Bacon Baked Beans

Apple Cider Margaritas

Grown Up Hot Chocolate

Peanut Butter Football Dip

Oreo Football Truffles

Fall Date Ideas

As much as I hate to see summer go, I don’t mind fall. It’s winter that I have no patience for! Fall means football, pumpkin and leather boots. That, I can do. In the summer we are always on the go, beach one weekend, wedding the next, bachelorette party after that… So when fall hits, we take time to ourselves to enjoy plenty of “date nights”.

Here are some of our favorites.

Visit a pumpkin/apple picking farm.

561886_751598734989_1149863643_n

These farms usually have warm apple cider doughnuts and fresh pumpkin ice cream available. I usually go for both.

photo (17) Tailgate at a football game

270496_751599403649_1801018062_n

There is nothing more enjoyable to a man than drinking beer at a football game. Round up some friends, bring your grill and make your husband happy. We can’t always expect them to do our girly dates!

Take a drive to see the fall foliage

314311_628892833599_866560803_n

 

We took a drive upstate New York one weekend and were in awe seeing how pretty life was out of the city. It’s pretty in the city too, but we don’t see views like this!

Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Albuquerque

I’ve never been but it’s definitely on my bucket list… Hint Hint Adam!

Bake a sweet treat with the items you picked at the farm

294447_628893397469_1959991532_n

Sometimes I like to enjoy “dessert only” dinners. Caramel Chocolate Dipped apples are approved!

Visit your local Renaissance Festival

69105_561466381749_2239355_n 33645_561466376759_475507_n

These festivals are known for beer garden’s, giant turkey legs and lots of fun. I’ve never dressed up, but love to see the people who do. They really get creative with their outfits.

Take a walk to your favorite Sunday Brunch spot

photo (18)

Whole Wheat pancakes for me and eggs benedict for Adam. We didn’t technically “walk” to this brunch spot because it is in NYC, but we did walk around the city after stuffing ourselves silly.

Wake up to watch an early morning sunrise

1383138_918420586047_1758725552_n

I watch a lot of sunrise and sunsets and I can tell you that the prettiest ones are during Autumn. It might be difficult to catch a sunset with work schedules so make an effort to wake up early and watch the sun rise.

Catch up over Hot Chocolate

photo (19)

Sometimes life gets crazy and you need to get rid of the distractions. Sit down at a quiet coffee shop, no tv, no computer, no phones and catch up with your spouse. It’s the little things that count…

 

What are your favorite fall date ideas?

 

Anniversary Weekend

10 days ago, we celebrated our 1 year Wedding Anniversary!

1756_770877984219_614571923_n

We went back and forth on how to celebrate. Did we want to spend a week on the beach? Should we put our passports to good use and travel overseas? Should we drive up the California Coast? Or maybe we should go somewhere a bit closer for a long weekend? In the end, our indecisiveness made our decision for us.  We were staying home for the weekend but would plan some fun “excursions”.

We had a semi-lazy day Saturday morning so we would be wide awake for our plans that night. Adam said he had an errand to run and came home with a bouquet – my wedding bouquet, to be exact! He had a local florist recreate them and they were just as beautiful as I remember.

photo (11)

We signed up for a couples cooking class at ICE with the theme “He said, She said”.  We originally thought we would be making 4 courses but we were surprised when we saw our menu for the night

1380396_581963385198459_510353569_n

Um, how will we cook and eat all of that? Somehow, we did it. There were 6 couples in the class so we split into groups of 2 (4 people). Our group was in charge of making the shrimp caesar salad, the roasted butternut squash salad and the bruleed banana tartlets. We immediately started prepping our food so we could get to eating.

photo (4)

So professional with the tucked fingers. The quicker we got to choppin, the sooner the wine came out. No drinking until knives are away… I thought that was a good rule.

photo (9)

I took charge of the dessert (duh) and everyone said it was their favorite. With nutella, puffed pastry and whipped cream, how could it be bad?

image

 

Once the groups were finished cooking we placed everything on the buffet table to make our plates.

photo

Food:

Butternut Squash Salad with Ricotta Insalata

Butternut Squash Salad with Ricotta Insalata

Ratatouille Crostini (with goat cheese!)

Ratatouille Crostini (with goat cheese!) 

photo (6)

Grille Steak Salad with Spicy Grilled Peaches

Grille Steak Salad with Spicy Grilled Peaches

Duck Meatballs in Creamy Polenta

Duck Meatballs in Creamy Polenta

Roasted Head-on Shrimp with Creamy Caesar Salad

Roasted Head-on Shrimp with Creamy Caesar Salad 

Peanut Butter Ice Box Cake with chocolate crust and warm berry compote

Peanut Butter Ice Box Cake with chocolate crust and warm berry compote

Bruleed Banana Tartlets with Nutella Cream

Bruleed Banana Tartlets with Nutella Cream 

My favorite dish was the steak and peach salad. We’ve already created this at home, it was that good. I went from not eating meat for 2 years, to picking steak as my favorite meal. Adam’s favorite was the Duck Meatballs (which were last on my list). Everything was amazing and we had such a great time. Our chefs were a married couple as well, so it was fun to hear how they cook together. We can’t wait to go again!

photo (2)

The next morning we dove into our year old cake! We were a bit nervous since it had been an entire year since it was made, but it was just as good as we remembered!

photo (14)

We headed to the spa for 4 hours of relaxation. It was a dreary day outside so it was almost perfect that we planned these couples treatments.

photo (13)

We had grand dinner plans but with all of the food from Saturday night, the cake for breakfast Sunday Morning and the mimosas during the day, we just felt like hanging around. We picked up some fro-yo (first pumpkin taste of the season!) and watched football for the rest of the night.

photo (12)

It was the perfect weekend to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. Looking forward to many many more!

379411_770878188809_1408222186_n

Crockpot Chicken Pho

Ah, remember that time I made Pho, posted it on my Facebook page and promised to post the recipe very soon? Well, time got away from me but I’m still making good on that promise.

558640_574947172566747_177550594_n

For those of you who have never had Pho, it is a type of Vietnamese soup, typically made from beef stock (chicken in this case) and spices to which noodles and thinly sliced beef or chicken are added. It’s a kind of soup that cures your sickness and heals your soul. Is that too deep for 9am on a Tuesday?

Crock-pot Chicken Pho

Ingredients 

  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (two 32-ounce boxes)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 10 whole star anise ( I used 10 — But I would maybe use 9 next time)
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 ounces rice noodles ( I used thin but I believe traditional is wide)
  • 6 cups chopped bok choy
  • Mung bean sprouts (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • Fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
  • Thai chile or serrano, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Lime wedges (optional)

Directions

  • Add chicken to bottom of crockpot (You can cook chicken before, but I put it in uncooked)
  • Combine broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, star anise, cloves, ginger and cinnamon stick in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on High for 4 hours (or on Low for 8 hours). (I did low FYI)
  • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Remove spices and discard.
  • Add noodles and bok choy to the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes.
  • Shred the chicken with two forks.
  • When the noodles are tender, stir in the shredded chicken.
  • Serve bowls of soup with bean sprouts, basil, mint, cilantro, sliced chile and lime wedges on the side so everyone can add their own toppings.

This is not one of those recipes that you make with items that are “just lying around”, but I promise it’s worth the effort!