A blog about happiness and healthy living...

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year!

I have never set a formal “resolution” before which is odd because I am always one for setting focused personal goals. But hey, there’s a first time for everything right?

This year I will cook at home. Yep. That’s right. From-scratch cooking as much as possible.

The past few months I have gone through phases of regularly cooking meals, but I want to be more consistent with it. Mind you, I dine in most every day of the week already, but I have a hard time considering my phases of cooking waffle mix and cheese quesadillas “cooking.”
For Christmas I got this awesome meal planner that I have loving which has been the biggest help in getting me started.

But I also got some new mixing bowls, a recipe box and recipe cards, cook books, and an adorable set of measuring spoons. So I am pretty much set to go!

Wish me luck!

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Use Up Your Cold Cuts!: Creamy Turkey Pasta

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I haven’t posted in a while beacause I have been having my own great holiday and finishing up my finals for school. Phew.

But I am back.

Michael and I got a bunch of new cook books for Christmas which I spent some time flipping through, getting inspiration, this morning to plan the week’s meals. And tonight’s dish was a creamy turkey pasta!

This recipe turned out delicious and uses cold cut turkey (you can use whatever type you prefer, however) which is really great for if you have some meat from the deli that is about to go bad. The cream sauce also tasted deceptively fatty, but was actually made with all skim milk and a small amount of margarine.

Start cooking up your pasta first thing. I used bow ties because it was what I had in my cabinet, but use whatever you want. I always like fettuccini with cream sauces because it holds on to just the right amount of sauce in my opinion. The rest of this recipe is cooking the sauce for half a box of bowtie pasta.

I will preface the rest of this by saying I did not use precise measuring at all, but I have guestimates of about how much I used. You’ll be able to “feel” when you have enough of everything.

I melted 1.5-2 tablespoons of margarine into a large sauce pan on low heat and then tossed in about the same amount of jarred minced garlic. Fresh garlic would also work but if you use fresh you won't need as much for the same punch of flavor. Melt the two until they are evenly mixed.

I added my flour 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture in the saucepan took on a paste-like texture.

Add about a half cup of milk to that and slowly stir until everything melts together. The mixture will once again return to a paste consistency as the milk heats up. Make sure the heat is nice and low and keep adding milk until you get a creamy consistency that is to your liking.

I sliced up about five slices of cold cut turkey roughly into strips.

 I dumped the turkey right into the sauce pan along with some dried basil and parsley.

Strain the pasta really well and dump it into the sauce pan and stir it in with the sauce.

And then it is ready to go!

This recipe went over very well so I will definitely make again.
I love the idea of using cold cuts in this because it is such a simple way of incorporating some protein in with a pasta dish. Also, how many times do you find yourself tossing away expensive deli meat because you didn’t finish it quickly enough. Uhm, me. All the time. I will for sure think of this dish if I have some lunch meat approaching its expiration date.

 (PS The Christmas Pig had a very nice holiday as well. She has been LOVING the snow here in New England.)
Have a fantastic New Year everyone :)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Night for Myself and the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

I designated last night as a “me night.” Yep, a big night in for me, myself, and I.
I painted my nails and then curled up with my Anthropologie catalogue and a snack while I waited for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to start.

I love Anthropologie to death, and any chance I get to gawk, be it in the store itself or just a catalogue, I happily take.

Those! Those right there at the top of the tree shape! I want those measuring spoons! They really do have the cutest kitchen items.......
Now, my biggest healthy eating weakness is late night snacking. I have no problem eating healthy during the day, but for some reason once it gets dark outside I have no problem taking down half a bag of chips and chowing down on candy.

Lately I have been trying my hardest to break this habit. Last night I had some fresh fruit (always a good substitute for junk food in my book because it tastes better anyway) and a cup of hot coco, which is not TOO bad, to satisfy my need for chocolate. This successfully kept me from attacking the junk food hiding in the cabinet in the kitchen.  

And as for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, I had never actually watched the thing before but got curious this year. I’m not quite sure my opinion on it. While it was a bit absurd and nothing more than a blatantly massive advertisement, I was quite entertained with it. There were Cirque performers, TONS of glitter, musical performances, and the crazy outfits were actually pretty fun.
In any case, I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t taken a night to themselves lately to do it. I woke up this morning well rested and ready to go, and I have been virtually stress-free all day. There is something about taking the time to focus on just myself and silly girly things that makes me almost giggly.
So, curl up with your favorite chick flick, give yourself an at home pedicure and face mask, or read your favorite book; whatever YOUR favorite things are, and have yourself a “me night.”
Also, what do you do to keep yourself from late night snacking?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fondue Tuesday

Who doesn’t love fondue?
I happen to highly recommend anyone who does not yet own a fondue pot to get one because they are just too much stinking fun.

But before I get to that…
For lunch today I had Subway. My favorite of the moment is turkey with provolone toasted with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and the red wine vinegar sauce.

On my way home at the end of the day I decided to treat myself to some of my favorite things: nail polish and lip stick! The nail polish is Essie’s Marathin. I LOVE the color and the name only makes it even cuter. The lipstick is by L’oreal in Fairest Nude.

I justified my purchases by limiting myself to neutral colors that I will theoretically get the most use out of. Hey, it is always good to treat yourself.

And now onto the fondue…

You can put in whatever you want as far as spices and cheeses go, but the base stays pretty much the same: One bag of cheese per ¾ cups white wine. First boil the wine, and then slowly add the cheese until it is the desired thickness.

Then add the flavoring. This has about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a heaping tablespoon of garlic, and three or four shakes of nutmeg. (this is for 1 ¼ cups of wine and two bags of cheese. Mike and I made more than we could possibly eat… oops)

Chop up some veggies and bread to dip in and enjoy! (My favorite is broccoli)

Fondue is a great and fun dinner option. Plus, it is really easy to make reasonably healthy if you use low fat cheese and pick healthy options for dipping like whole grain breads, apples, and vegetables.

AND I think that a fondue pot is a great holiday gift idea for that person on your list who has everything.

I hope you had a good Tuesday!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Getting in the Spirit

Tis the Season! Michael and I got ready for the holidays this weekend! But first, our tree decorating fuel was some awesome burritos from this burrito bar we found. You heard me right. Burrito bar. I got pulled chicken with spinach and mango salsa.
And it did not disappoint.
Michael is ready to go!

Happy Holidays Everyone :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Party?!

The holidays are here. Thanksgiving has passed, snow has fallen, trees are up. Yep. There’s no denying it. I have been trying to calm myself down and enjoy the mood a little bit but holy cow has it been a crazy few days.

I may have mentioned before that Michael, my boyfriend, owns a gallery and artisan store. In any case, last night (Saturday) he was throwing a massive Christmas Party at his place and we were both working our tails off to get ready.

I will take a moment to say, I am not the best at parties. I get so nervous in big groups of people that I usually end up leaving early, not because the host did a bad job, but because I get overwhelmed. That being said, the idea of being the actual host (of sorts) was making me even more freaked out.


We were at the store until late late late Friday night getting everything all set so we didn’t have to deal with it the day of, and ended up getting takeout Mexican food from this really authentic a place down the street that we like. We had a feast of sorts because the food is really good there. We shared nachos and then I tried my first ever chicken tamale and then also had a delicious enchilada which had some sort of tasty lime sauce all over it.

If you have never tried non-americanized Mexican food, I highly suggest trying some. Honestly, I find it tastes a lot like comfort food in that it is easy to enjoy and fills you right up.

Saturday morning there was SNOW! I was quite excited, and so was Petunia the Christmas Pig. The perfect setting for a Christmas Party J
The store was open all day so Mike and I had to run back and forth to make sure we both had time to get dressed, while still keeping one of us at the store for customers etc. Phew. I ended up getting all ready in about 20 minutes and was really proud of my speed, but then ended up allllmmmoooost wiping out on the ice getting back into my car.

In any case, the party went great! There was a banjo/ mandolin player, really delicious food, and tons and TONS of people.

The downtown lit up its Christmas lights the same night so there were plenty of people on the streets to begin with, but Michael estimated that there were around 500 people through the door.

We were hoping for a good turnout, but my goodness… we didn’t expect THAT many. Luckily food didn’t run out... I was getting kind of worried about that but the food BARELY made it. Phew.

It was a really great night. My feet hurt so bad from being in heels for so long, but other than that it was a success!

I hope everyone is having a nice start to their holiday seasons. If you are hosting your own holiday party any time soon, best of luck to you!



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Things that have been making me happy...

Life is all about the little happy things that make your days brighter. So without further ado, here are a few things that have been making my days brighter recently…

The Half Way Café
This little restaurant is in downtown Maynard, MA (if anyone is familiar with the area?) and I cannot get over how delicious every single thing on the menu is. I honestly don’t feel the need to ever go to any other restaurant so long as this place is open. Every month they rotate the menu and an entre is only 8 bucks. Seriously? Seriously. And its all made fresh. Here are my three favorites, all on one plate of deliciousness: Apple Smoked Wings, Nachos, and Fried Pickles.

Christmas Pig
I cannot stand how much I love this pig. It always puts a smile on my face when I see her all lit up at night time outside.
This Guy
For assembling my Christmas pig (amongst other things)
Italian Soda
Michael and I drink these things constantly. I always try the crazy flavors… he just gets cherry every time. My most recent favorite is peppermint.
Wooden iPhone Case
Is this not the classiest iPhone case you have ever seen? It’s all inlaid wood and lined with get this… velvet. I picked this up at HomeGoods for only ten bucks and have been loving it.

Being done with my Business Plan!
I had to write up a business plan for school and finally finished that thing… phew… I have been working on it since September so it is a big relief to see all 23 pages neatly clipped together under the nice pretty cover page. I am passing it in this afternoon and can’t wait to get it off my hands.

Hope everyone is having their own happy end-of-November

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Inside-out Turkey Burgers

Gosh. I have been so bad with my eating and working out since Thanksgiving. I ate out far more than I’d care to admit and abandoned the gym for about five days.
Last night I decided it was time to get back to being better again so I cooked up some inside out turkey sliders (inspired by a similar recipe in the cook book The Best of Clean Eating 2. These cook books are a great gift idea. There are lots of great ideas in them for EASY healthy meals.) and then I went for a solid work out at the gym.  
But first, meet my new favorite thing, my Christmas pig! Pigs might just be my favorite thing in the world and when I saw this thing at Kmart, I needed to get it. I couldn’t stop laughing while Michael set it up. Just figured I’d share J
Laughing SO hard. It even has its own little red scarf

Now… onto turkey burgers.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Cut some cheddar cheese into cubes.
I used one pound of lean ground turkey and added some salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Divide the turkey into eight pieces and then make a divot in each ball to put in a cube of cheese. Don’t do too much cheese or it will spill out of the burger while it cooks. Then ball them up like the one in the bottom right corner.
Cook them for about 6 minutes and then flip them over and cook for another five minutes or so.
Now this is where my dinner turns into kind of a fail. I had wanted to make a honey mustard sauce, but realized there was no mustard in the fridge. Instead I mixed some BBQ sauce and raw honey to make honey BBQ instead.
I would have put on a tomato and a leaf of lettuce or spinach but oops… don’t have any of that in my fridge either…
So these went with just a drizzle of sauce on a potato roll. And I am now planning my next trip to the grocery store.
Since I had no vegetables to speak of I ultimately served this with some fresh fruit instead.
Thanksgiving seriously put me in a funk didn’t it…
The burgers were delicious though. Cooking them with the cheese inside made them incredibly moist.
At the end of the night I hit the gym. I was really energetic which surprised me. I ran faster than I can remember ever running in a while which thrilled me. I also did some weight machines and I must have worked myself hard because I have a nice sore bum this morning. I was thrilled to see fresh rasperries in the fridge when I got home. Those made for a perfect night time snack.
I hope everyone is doing well and getting back into the groove of things after Thanksgiving J
And I also hope you are excited about it being the holiday season now!