Monday, March 18, 2013

Random Thoughts: 3/18/13

1. Weird and Wild Weather- Um, it's March, and we got 3 inches of slushy snow yesterday. What's up with that? Then, I'm jolted out of bed at 7:30 this morning by a rounding slap of thunder on the house. Those 3 inches of snow? Almost completely gone by now, obviously melted by the warmer temperatures that ushered in the thunderstorms. Last year at this time, I was sipping margaritas on the porch in capri pants, sunning myself on a +70 degree day. The hubby reminds me the bugs won't be as bad this summer with all the freezing weather. I'm pacified by this, because there isn't anything I hate more than insects. Not. A. Thing.

2. The NCAA tournament- Yay, it's bracket time! One of my most favorites times of the year, save for the beginning of football season and the first days of summer. The hubby is livid that Kentucky didn't make the tournament. It was a really bad, ugly season for UK, though. It was hard to watch them play, they looked so different from last year's smooth, professional play. Better luck next year, men. At least we still have Oregon to cheer for. Go Ducks!

3. Gizmo- Gizmo continues to make himself more at home everyday. I think he's finally beginning to feel like this is his house. He used to follow the hubby and I everywhere around the house, begging to be carried around. He's finally started exploring rooms on his own, and galloping from room to room. I love the sound of tiny feet pounding the floor. He's also started taking toys in the other rooms, and I can hear him growling at the squirrel or the hedgehog as he attacks them. He even sleeps more securely, belly up most of the time. Then, there's this howling thing he does when the hubby gets home from work, it never fails to make me laugh. Man, I love those pups.

4. McDonald's Shamrock Shakes- Yesterday was St. Paddy's Day! The hubby and I celebrated on Saturday night, when we went out for a family friend's birthday. We had a little too much fun, the kind of fun twenty-somethings are supposed to have. Not thirty-somethings. Anyhoo, the point is yesterday I saw this article on McDonald's Shamrock Shakes. Oh, ick! If you need another reason to not eat at McDonald's, read that article. Did you know there are 820 calories in that one milkshake? That's more than half of my daily calories. It's also made with 54 ingredients, the majority of which are preservatives and obscure additives. Gross.

5. The Movie "2012"- Ok, ok, I know this movie came out a couple of years ago. I just happened to catch some snippets of the movie whilst I was watching TV yesterday. What I saw was freakin' ridiculous. I'm 100% sure, after watching 5 minutes of the movie, that this film didn't have a single scientist consulting on the plot. I watched the scene where, apparently, California is sliding into the ocean. The Earth's crust is crumbling, and yet, John Cusak's plane is able to take off in the middle of this? Then, to add insult to injury, this plane is flying close to the ground, underneath crumbling buildings, and close to homes being sucked into the ground. I'm by no means a physicist, but I do understand simple concepts like gravity. And the fact that the huge amount force needed for something to be sucked into the Earth, is probably going to suck that plane up too. Needless to say, I turned the channel in disgust after a few minutes. #MovieFail.

6. Another Haircut! I'm really into short hair right now. It seems like everyone has long hair right now, and it's fun to do something different. I chopped off 7 inches in January, and last week, I chopped off another inch and a half. Even though I don't look impressed in this selfie, I'm loving the hair cut. I chose this picture because it makes me laugh. You have to be able to laugh at yourself, right?

Well, it's time to get off my duff now, lots to do today! I've got a workout on the books, some general house cleaning, baking Raspberry Banana Oat Muffins and Salted Caramel Cookies for my family (who start arriving tomorrow!!!), all kinds of laundry, and making dinner for the hubby. Oh my!

Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tomato, Spinach, and Tortellini Soup

I found this super-easy recipe over at Food Network. The recipe was so simple, in fact, that I almost passed on it. For me, soup is one of those things that has to be perfectly seasoned, lest it veer into "bland" territory. However, after reading the numerous positive reviews on this soup, I decided to go forth and experiment.

I'm glad I did!

For such a simple recipe, with so few ingredients, this soup is completely "un-bland". It has all the features of a perfect, cold-winter's-night comfort food: it's warm, a touch spicy, filled with cheese-stuffed pasta, and packed with vitamins (thank you, package of spinach!).

My recommendation to you is to ignore the fact this recipe is overly simple, and to go ahead and try it. Yum!


1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
9-oz package of tortellini
10-oz package of fresh spinach
parmesan cheese, for topping


1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When heated, add onions to pan. Saute  4-5 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic to pan, saute for 1 minute.
2. Add tomatoes through black pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil, lower temperature and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add tortellini to pan. Cook 9-10 minutes, or until tortellini are tender.
4. Add spinach to the pan, stir spinach to wilt. Remove from heat. Serve with grated parmesan cheese over top.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Garlic Shrimp in Coconut Milk, Tomatoes, and Cilantro

I'm not usually one to cook with coconut milk. I like coconut milk ok, but it's definitely not a flavor I seek out on a regular basis. I've been craving different flavors lately though that I usually don't like or gravitate towards. Like fruit and meat. Fruit and salad. Veggies that I normally shy away from (I made roasted cauliflower this week!). And coconut milk.

Which brings me back to this Thai-inspired dish. I'm loving the thick, creamy sauce that the coconut milk provides. There's a bit of heat from crushed red pepper. A touch of acidity from the tomatoes. And of course, the undeniably wonderful tenderness of shrimp. The original recipe also doesn't call for mushrooms (which I added for more veggie-power), but I think they make a wonderful addition.

If you are looking to step away from the hum-drum-ness of the same old, same old, do try this exotic dish. You won't regret it.


cooking spray
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts separated)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
14 oz of light coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice
Minced cilantro (topping)
Hot, cooked rice


1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, and in batches, sear shrimp 1-2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Remove from pan once browned. When finished searing shrimp, wipe pan out with a paper towel.
2. Heat olive oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms to pan, and cook 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, white parts of scallions, salt, and crushed red pepper to the pan. Cook 1 minute.
3. Add tomatoes and coconut milk to the pan. Cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until sauce has slightly thickened. Uncover. Add shrimp to the pan, cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice.
4. To serve, spoon shrimp mixture and broth over hot, cooked rice. Garnish with green parts of scallions and cilantro.

Recipe adapted from Skinnytaste

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Flowers I chose to put in the entryway. Major spring fever over here!
Stealing a page from Jenna over at Eat, Live, Run with this post!

I'm currently...

Watching... A "Sex and The City" marathon. Whaaaat? It's Sunday, the hubby's working, and I ate too much pizza last night. Everybody needs a lazy Sunday once in awhile!

Eating... Garlic Shrimp in Coconut Milk, Tomatoes, and Cilantro, tweaked minimally from this recipe over at SkinnyTaste. I don't usually cook with coconut milk, but this recipe peaked my interest when I saw it. Post on the recipe soon to follow!

Planning... My couponing haul for tomorrow, along with next week's meal plan. Meals next week include Spicy Bean and Rice Burritos, Chicken with Mushrooms and Asparagus, Asian Glazed Drumsticks, Pasta Fagoli, and more. Hmmm, getting hungry again...

Reading... Catching Fire. All right, so I'm a wee bit behind the times. Lately, it seems like I have so much other stuff to do that I don't find time for reading. I really need to work on that.

Inspired by... Pinterest. I've gotten so many ideas from Pinterest, from food to decorating ideas, fashion to makeup, cute animals to the latest manicure colors. I'm fully planning on wasting some time skulking around the site today.

Excited for... My family is coming to visit! My parents will be here in 9 days, and my aunt will be here in 10 days! I'm so excited for some great food, amazing cocktails, and (what I'm sure to be) abundant laughs.

-Headed to the great outdoors now. It's a beautiful, sunny, 72 degree day here in Kentucky, which means the dogs are constantly sitting by the door, trying to escape. Oh, fur-babies :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Top 10 List: Pasta

It's been a busy week. Doctor's appointments, vet appointments, the hubby had a couple of days off. There's just been no time to blog! Plus, we just got the Internet back after 24 hours without ANY. Gotta love livin' in the country :)

Thanks to Pinterest, I've been seeing a lot of pasta. Pasta makes my world go round. I could eat pasta morning, noon, and night. I love the texture, the way it tastes, its easy versatility, and the fact that almost anything could go with pasta. To that effect, here are my top 10 favorite pasta dishes. Tried and tested. Craved constantly. Delicious.

In no particular order:

Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein
1. Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein- Need I say more? I love Asian food, and this recipe tops the list. I frequently sub the beef for chicken, shrimp, or pork. The sauce is fantastic, and goes with almost any protein.

Bacon Mac
2. I love homemade macaroni and cheese. This is ironic, because when I was a child, I wouldn't touch homemade mac and cheese. I was a blue-box-of-Kraft kind of girl. My taste has pretty much flip-flopped, and now I turn up my nose at the boxed kind. What I like most about this recipe is the flavor that the small amount of bacon lends to the dish. I also love the peas thrown in for some extra color and veg.

Fettucine with Olive Oil and Red Pepper
3. This is one of the simplest recipes you'll find, but it's packed full of flavor. This is my go-to side dish for Chicken Parmigiana.

Gemelli with Broccoli, Bacon, and Chickpeas
4. Another crazy easy dish! Olive oil and pasta were made for each other. I actually prefer an olive oil based sauce, to a cream based sauce.

Shrimp Florentine
5. Umm, I'm sensing a theme here, and it's olive oil and pasta! Shrimp, spinach, and lemon are soooo good together.

Pad Thai
6. Pad thai is such a unique dish, and I love every aspect of it. Crunchy bean sprouts. Bits of fried egg. Salty peanuts. That sauce that is distinctly Pad Thai. Guarantee I will be making this soon, now that I've been thinking about it.

Spaghetti Carbonara
7. Well, I think I've made it crystal clear that I also love the combination of bacon and pasta. This is one of my hubby's favorites, and a go-to, fast, and easy recipe in our house.

Orecchiette with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, and Arugula
8. This is a perfect summer dish for when tomatoes, peppers, and arugula are at their peak of freshness. If you've never had orecchiette pasta before, I highly recommend it. The texture is amazing.

Chicken and Mushrooms in Garlic White Wine Sauce
9. Referred to as Chicken Stroganoff in our house, this recipe is tried and true. It's almost impossible to mess it up, and looks downright fancy. It also comes together in a snap.

Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini

10. What would a pasta list be like without some sort of cheese-filled pasta? Not a very good one, in my opinion :) You can make fresh raviolis if you like, or use a pre-made ravioli from the grocery store for a quicker meal.

Man, I'm wishing pasta was on the menu tonight :) 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Good Day To Save A Buck (Or Two)

Red Gold Canned Tomatoes, Dial Handsoap, Keebler Pretzel Bites, Crest White Strips, Rosarita Refried Beans, Olay Face Cleansers, Right Guard Deodorant
I just got done doing the math on this haul, and I couldn't believe the retail price. $119.03 to be exact. You wouldn't think it by looking at it, but it's true. The Crest White Strips alone retail for $42. Uh, that's cray-cray. I got a crazy deal on them, however. They were on sale for $10 off at CVS, I had a CVS store coupon for $10 off Crest White Strips, a $7 manufacturer coupon, plus they were part of a $15 rebate deal. That's my kind of price :) I wouldn't normally get the pretzel bites, but I had a coupon and I knew the hubby would like them. And let's face it, who doesn't like refried beans? Regular for the hubby, fat-free for me. I also skipped Rite Aid this week, I wasn't impressed with the sales. Here's the breakdown for the week:


*Olay and Crest part of CVS's P&G Beauty Rebate, "Buy $50 of Select Products, Get a $15 Rebate"

Crest Whitestrips, $31.99
-used a $7 manufacturer coupon, and a $10 off CVS store coupon
Olay Facial Cleansers, $4.99
-used (2) $3 off 2 Olay cleansers coupons
Right Guard Deodorants, $3 (Buy 2, Receive $1 in ECB's)
-used (2) $2 off 2 Right Guard deodorants coupons

*used a $10 off a $50 purchase CVS store coupon

-Used $16.49 in ECB's from last week, spent $10.46 out of pocket, made $2 in ECB's for next week, and earned a $15 rebate.


Dial Hand Soaps, $1
-used (4) $0.35 any Dial Hand Soap coupons (doubled to $0.70)
Rosarita Refried Beans, $1
-used (2) $0.55 off 2 Rosarita Refried Beans coupons
Red Gold Canned Tomatoes, $1
-used (4) $1 off 2 Red Gold Canned Tomatoes coupons
Keebler Pretzel Bites, $2.99
-used (2) $1 off Keebler Pretzel Bites coupons

-Paid $11.08

Total Spent- $21.59 for $119.03 worth of product. Savings of 82%.

I hope everyone had a great weekend! May you save long, and prosper :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sausage, Potato, and Pepper Skillet

This is the third time I've attempted this "recipe", and I feel like I've finally figured it out.

I've adapted this from a Skinnytaste recipe that I found over the summer that just looked too good to pass up. Sausage? Good. Potatoes? Good. Peppers? Gooooood. The only problem? I tried the recipe as is (as I always do on a trial-run), and it just didn't turn out. The original recipe calls for the potatoes to be cooked in the pan, browned, and then steamed with a lid on the pan. The sausage is then added to the pan, and browned as well, before adding the rest of the vegetables. You are then supposed to cover the pan, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. For me, this resulted in soggy potatoes and soggy sausage.

Second time at the pass, I broiled the potatoes in the oven until they were almost done so they were nice and crispy. I then added them back to the pan after the vegetables, but before the final cook with the lid on. My potatoes lost their crisp, and my sausage which I had also nicely browned, got soggy again. Grr.

I decided to do away with the final lid covering. It wasn't working for me. My new plan involved roasting the potatoes in the oven, making sure they were evenly browned, and cooked all the way. The next step is to brown the sausage in a hot skillet, and set it aside. Thirdly, I cooked all the vegetables until they were crisp-tender, and only then did I add the potatoes and sausage at the last minute for a quick toss. Delish! Crisp potatoes that were soft on the inside: mission complete. Sausage that wasn't soggy: mission complete. A delicious one pot meal: mission complete. A bonus- this was the hubby's favorite of the versions I've tried. A happy, full husband? Always a mission complete :)


cooking spray
3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 tsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 (12 oz) package of chicken sausage, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped cilantro (you could also use parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, etc. Basically whatever fresh herb you want.)


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with 2 tsp olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Spread potatoes in single layer over cookie sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown evenly. Remove from oven, set aside.
3. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat. When pan is heated, add sausage to skillet. Cook about 5 minutes, or until sausage is evenly browned. Remove from pan, and set aside.
4. Heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil in skillet. Add onion. Saute 1-2 minutes. Add garlic, peppers, and zucchini to pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Turn down heat, cover skillet and let cook for 4-5 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
5. Add sausage and potatoes to skillet. Toss until sausage and potatoes are heated through. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in fresh herbs. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Skinnytaste