Friday, February 28, 2014

Easy Skillet Lasagna

As much as I like to cook, the classics are sometimes the things I never get around to making (I did finally make my first apple pie about a year and a half ago though!): things like pot roast, chicken noodle soup, and lasagna. To be fair, pot roast and chicken noodle soup are not my favorite foods in the world, but I do love lasagna. But let's be real: the last thing I feel like doing after work is diving into a lasagna recipe. This skillet lasagna, however? I'm all over it. It really only took 30 minutes to make, and it perfectly satisfied my Italian craving.

Skillet Lasagna
8 oz farfalle (bowtie) pasta, uncooked
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces Italian sausage
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic & oregano, undrained
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt. Meanwhile, combine ricotta cheese, water and pepper in small bowl; set aside.

Heart large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and onion; cook 3-5 minutes or until sausage is crumbled and onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Drain. Add undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and cooked pasta to skillet; stir to combine.

Dollop spoonfuls of ricotta mixture on top of pasta mixture. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 2-3 minutes or until ricotta mixture is hot and mozzarella cheese melts. Serves 6.

At Publix now through March 5, you can find extra savings on all the ingredients you need for great Italian meals. Find more Italian recipes + savings information here.

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided to me by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Amazing Bathtub

I came across this amazing bathtub in The New York Times. Isn't it incredible? It's made of sapele, a tree native to Africa. It would be such a treat to soak in this tub after a long day, don't you think? A relaxing evening in a tub that starts at $28,000...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Banana Bread with Chocolate & Cinnamon Sugar

I've shared so many banana bread recipes with you all, but banana bread is one of those baked treats that I will never get tired of. We always have overripe bananas, and we never get tired of slicing and eating warm banana bread right out of the oven. Most recently I stumbled across this recipe from Molly Wizenberg of Orangette (who also wrote one of my favorite books!). The curious thing about this recipe is that there's no butter or oil. The banana bread is still moist as can be, and it's best sliced into big squares and served while it's still warm. Happy Monday!

Banana Bread with Chocolate & Cinnamon Sugar
3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

for topping:
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter or spray an 8-inch square pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas well with a fork or potato masher. Add the eggs, and stir well to combine. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla, and stir to mix. Add the chocolate chips and stir briefly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

source: recipe barely adapted from orangette

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fiber One Fruit Snacks

Since I've never been one to eat many vegetables (a goal I'm still working at!), I'm always trying to find ways to get more fiber into my body. I recently started eating these fruit snacks, and they are really good! Of course it's not a replacement for real fruit or veggies, but it's a nice snack for me to grab mid-afternoon that's tasty but also gives me a few grams of fiber. 

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided to me by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Craft Room + Office Inspiration

We started painting our craft room/office last week, and I'm getting so excited about a fresh start for that room! It was blue before, which made the room feel small and dark. We still have more painting and lots of projects to do before the room is ready, but below are a few pieces of inspiration from my pinterest board.

image sources: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sour Cream Pancakes

We've had quite the weather this past week! We got snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving us stuck at home on Wednesday and Thursday! That's the first we've had snow days since we moved to South Carolina, since we are in South Carolina after all! We headed back to work on Friday, but Wednesday and Thursday were a wonderful treat. We got a few things done, but we mostly watched the snow come down, talked, read, stayed cozy, and ate these pancakes. It's not your typical buttermilk pancake recipe, as there's no milk and hardly any flour. But they were a delicious treat for something different, and a perfect breakfast on a snow day. We had an earthquake on Friday, and yesterday it was a balmy 60+ degrees. Whatever Mother Nature is sending your way, I hope you have a great Monday :)

Sour Cream Pancakes
1 cup sour cream
7 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Set aside.

In a separate small bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, stir together the sour cream with the dry ingredients until just barely combined (don't over-mix). Whisk in the egg mixture until just combined.

Heat a griddle over medium-low heat and melt some butter in the pan. Drop batter by1/4 cup servings onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles start to form on the surface and edges are starting to brown. Flip to the other side and cook for another minute. (Pancakes will be a little on the soft side.)

Serve with butter and syrup.

source: recipe from the pioneer woman

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Slow Mornings

Aren't slow mornings just the best? My typical weekday morning is a flurry of open drawers, my makeup bag spilling everywhere, rejected outfit options strew across the bed, and, if I'm lucky, a smoothie to sip on in the car on the way to work. Weekend mornings are my favorite: getting the luxury of slowly waking up + getting out of bed, slipping on my slippers, making my way downstairs for breakfast. Some mornings it's pancakes, some mornings I make muffins or scones. Some mornings it's simply yogurt + granola or a bowl of cereal. Most recently I was introduced to Multigrain Cheerios Dark Chocolate Crunch: a blend of dark chocolate + five whole grains.  A perfect way to start a weekend.

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided to me by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls

I pinned the below recipe over a year ago and was just waiting for the perfect excuse to make them. All that Superbowl means to me is an excuse to hang out with friends and try new recipes, so when we had a group over for the game I finally got my chance to try these egg rolls out. I have to say they were a hit, and they were surprisingly very easy to put together. The trickiest part was finding the egg roll wrappers! I couldn't find them at Publix, so I headed to the Chinese grocery store where they had only about 537 different kinds. The recipe below is vegetarian, but these would also be delicious with a little bit of shredded chicken or beef. 

Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles, drained
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 package egg roll wrappers (about 24 total)

In a large bowl, combine everything but the egg roll wrappers. Mix well to blend. Lay an egg roll wrapper out on a work surface so that one of the corners is pointing toward you and place 1/4 cup of the filling in the center. Fold the tip closest to you up over the filling, roll a bit, then take the points pointing outward and fold them in toward the center. Continue rolling into an egg roll shape until a small part of the remaining point is still free. Dip a finger in water or beaten egg and lightly brush on the edges of the free corner. Finish rolling and press to seal closed. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the sealed egg rolls on the baking sheet seam side down and spray the tops of the egg rolls with cooking spray. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until lightly brown, turning halfway through baking. Serve warm with salsa. Makes 24.

source: recipe slightly adapted from annie's eats, originally from ezra pound cake

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Birchbox Favorites

Do you get Birchbox? I've been subscribing for about six months now, and I really enjoy it. I frequently will purchase new beauty products to try, so I really like having them picked out for me and delivered to my door! There are a few products that I've received that I really, really like. You can't expect every item in every box to be a hit for your personal taste in beauty products, but the ones below are my favorites. 

1 // Toni & Guy Casual Sea Salt Texturising Spray // This spray really gives good texture and volume if you want wavy or curly hair, and it also smells so good! 

2 // Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips // Don't let "nipple balm" scare you off! This lip balm works so well and keeps your lips moisturized for a long time. I'm never without chapstick, and this is one that I have found actually works well.

3 // KMS California Freeshape Hot Flex Spray // I flatiron my hair most days, so I need something that will protect my hair from all of the heat. This smells good and does the trick.

4 // Folle de Joie Eau de Parfum // I have gotten quite a few perfume samples in my Birchbox, and this is by far my favorite. I actually wear this regularly and love it. 

5 // Tocca Crema da Mano Luxe in Cleopatra // My skin gets extremely dry in the winter, so I am always putting on hand cream. The grapefruit and cucumber so smell fresh, and it really keeps my hands well-hydrated.

6 // Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect // This leave-in conditioner is my other favorite hair product that I've gotten. It smells really good (clearly a must when it comes to my hair products!), detangles like a champ, and also protects from heat damage.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DIY Vanilla Salt

If you're looking for a little something to bring your baked goods up a notch, try making your own vanilla salt! It's super easy to make: just scrape the vanilla seeds out of a vanilla bean pod and mix it together with flaky sea salt. You can use it in place of sea salt in recipes, and it adds a nice touch of vanilla flavor on top of the sweet + salty combo. This past weekend I made break + bake cookies (just keepin' it real... not everything can be made from scratch), and I sprinkled a little vanilla salt on top of the dough before I put them in the oven. Added a nice little touch of fancy to those Nestlé cookies :) Here are a few more recipes that would be delicious with vanilla salt:

source: vanilla salt recipe from joy the baker

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Dipped Apple Slices

Breakfast can quickly turn into the most monotonous meal of the day, especially if you have a rushed morning trying to get out the door to work and dropping the kids off at school. As part of Target's Busy Family Event, I was sent a package of ingredients to transform into simple breakfast treats to switch up your family's breakfast routine. I sliced apples and dipped them into various toppings for a quick breakfast or snack that kids will love. I liked the combinations of vanilla yogurt + crushed Trix cereal, Jif Peanut Butter + Nature Valley Protein Granola, and Nutella + crushed almonds and flax seed. You can see more great breakfast ideas from Target's Busy Family Event below.

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Throw Pillows

We still have quite a bit of decorating to do in our house, and the main reason it's taking us so long is because I am incredibly picky and indecisive when it comes to decorating. I get overwhelmed when making decisions about what style of furniture, what color of paint, what type of curtains, etc. I always find myself drawn to the little, easier things: the objets d'art, the accent pieces, and the throw pillows. Below is a round-up of some of my most recent throw pillow finds.

7 // heart pillow 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Apple-Feta Salad with Chicken, Bacon & Pecans

Does anyone else find it difficult at times to cook for two? I hesitate to make recipes that serve 6-8, because that means we'll be having leftovers 3 and 4 times over. It's nice to have go-to recipes that are easy to throw together for just two people, like chili, pasta dishes, etc. I made this salad the other week, and it has now been added to my list of easy for 2 dinners :) The quantities below serve two, but you can easily customize it to serve however many you need, or switch any of the toppings for those of your choosing. I hope you have a great start to your week!

Apple-Feta Salad with Chicken, Bacon & Pecans
salad greens (I used baby spinach + romaine)
2 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cup craisins
2 oz crumbled feta
1/4 cup spiced nuts (recipe here)

Layer all salad ingredients on two plates. Serve with vinaigrette (I used raspberry, but you could also use balsamic or another of your favorites).

source: recipe adapted from here