Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Easiest Lasagna you will EVER Make

This past Saturday Alyssa and I successfully fulfilled our goal of running the 5K downtown!  It was so exciting being in the atmosphere of it all (even though the marathon and half marathon were on Sunday and we were on the same day as the kids race...) But we fulfilled our goal, so onto the next one!  I'm looking into half marathons--Lyss you in??
Alyssa and I after the race!


I have received so many suggestions for delicious meals from everyone!  I appreciate all the feedback and wonderful suggestions.  They will definitely find their way into the blog :)

So in between working, selling our house, working out, and just the everyday tasks of life, I have been crunched for time in making dinners.  Especially on those nights when no one is going to be home at the same time!  So I have found a few easy (yet delicious) recipes that will save you time that you can now spend doing other things.  Now first things first.  If you do not own a crockpot stop everything you are doing get in your car and buy one. They are God's gift to easy cooking! You can find them for about 30 dollars at target so there is no excuse to not have one.

OK, so everyone has a crockpot now right? PERFECT!  We can now start making the easiest recipes for those days you just don't have time!

Crockpot Lasagna:

**side note**
This is a fantastic blog to follow!  This is what essentially gave me the idea to start my own blog, and I wanted to name my blog "The Girl who ate the World" but my sister Jane made fun of me for it so I decided against it. (I still think its catchy)


-1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
-1/2 cup diced white onion
-1 teaspoon minced garlic
-1 jar spaghetti sauce
-1/2 cup of water
-1 (15 oz) container of ricotta cheese
-2 cups mozzarella cheese
- Fresh spinach
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 egg
-2 tablespoons fresh (or dried) parsley
-2 teaspoons basil
-Salt and pepper to taste
-garlic powder
-8 uncooked lasagna noodles

This is seriously so easy to make, I usually go home and make it during my lunch hour....and still have time to spare!  I like to use ground turkey and choose the cheese's that are low in fat.  Every little bit counts!

To start, brown your ground beef or turkey and onion.  Add in your garlic as well.  Season with salt, pepper, and a little bit of garlic powder.

While this is cooking I start making my cheese mixture.  Mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, parsely, and basil.

When your meat is cooked through, drain the excess water.  Add in the jar of sauce and water.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Start the first layer in the crockpot with about a cup of the sauce, followed by a layer of noodles.  Then add half of your cheese mixture on top.  Add a layer of spinach.

Cover with two cups of the sauce, the remainder of the noodles, the remainder of the cheese, and another layer of spinach.  Top with the rest of the meat sauce.

Cook on LOW for about 4 hours (noodles will be soft) top with the remaining mozzarella cheese, and let that melt.

I recommend adding a bit more sauce heated on the side, to make it saucier!

<3 Lizzie

Monday, April 9, 2012

Healthy Meals, Happy Bodies

This past Sunday I successfully accomplished my goal of the 2 hour spinning class!  I even won a prize (this is very rare because I am not a lucky person) I was so happy with my accomplishment that I decided I need more long term goals to keep me motivated.  I decided to start training for a marathon!  Now before we all get ahead of ourselves (seriously liz...a marathon?)  I'm going to start small.  My first will be a 5k, then 10k, half, and hopefully full!  I have looked up a few ones in Cleveland coming up and there is the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on May 19 and 20.  Here is the site to register!

If anyone wants to do it with me (Alyssa Putich I am talking to you)  let me know!  Remember those fantastic new running kicks I bought a few weeks ago?  I owe Fleet Feet for giving me the opportunity to actually be a runner.  (I know that sounds corny but I'm serious!)  I truly never knew how to buy a pair running shoes, and I thought pain was just a part of running.  For the first time (probably in my life) I ran 5 miles without stopping.  I always used to have to stop because my ankles and shins would hurt so bad.  I now have the confidence to go ahead and start training for different marathons!

I have been getting a lot better and more knowledgeable about healthy decisions.  One of my favorite breakfasts is oatmeal.  It's loaded with fiber, protein, and whole grains that give you energy for the day.  As a time saver I was eating the Quaker instant oatmeal that comes in a variety of flavors.  I still think this is a great quick breakfast loaded with healthy benefits.  However, Quaker Oats regular oatmeal is not much harder to make and has less artificial flavoring and sugar than the instant packets.  Compare the nutrition facts below.


I have circled the things to pay close attention to when comparing the two.  The thing that surprised me the most was the difference in both sodium and sugar.  There are 0mg of sodium in the Old Fashioned Oats, while the instant oatmeal has 170 mg of sodium.  Look at the sugar.  1g compared to 12g.  12g of sugar in the instant oatmeal!! (that's a lot) Keep this in mind for any processed or preserved foods you eat.  There is a reason those things can stay on the shelves for...ever. (ew)

My advice is to make the real oatmeal, and add in the goodies that make it so delicious!  Use brown sugar and cinnamon to sweeten it up.  Throw in fresh strawberries, blueberries, or apples.  I will even put my own sugar in.  This way I can control how much I am putting in....and at least I know it is pure fresh sugar.  I always use milk for mine because 1. it tastes better, and 2. I need all my calcium I can get! (I am not a big milk drinker)

Since I am on a healthy meal kick, my mom and I went to The Courtyard (Brecksville's finest dining spot) for dinner last night and we decided to order healthy meals off the menu. (I skipped out on my usual breaded chicken caesar salad with extra ceasar dressing and a french bread roll...I wish that was good for you).  Well let me tell you...the meals we ordered were not only nutritious...but delicious!  Mom got a spinach and strawberry salad with chicken, and I thought to myself...I can make this at home!  So we headed over to Heinen's (another Brecksville hot-spot) and picked up the ingredients.  

Stawberry Spinach Salad with Chicken
Source: The Courtyard

Fresh Spinach
Crumbled feta cheese (I bought the fat free and tasted no difference)
Fresh strawberries
Glazed walnuts
Red onion
Raspberry vinaigrette dressing (fat free)
Grilled chicken

Ingredients...we used crispy onions, but I recommend a fresh red onion.

I always marinate my chicken in Italian dressing over night, so I used that and grilled it on my George Forman.  Then simply arrange all your ingredients into a salad.  In order to consume less calories, dip your salad into the dressing, rather than pouring it all over.  This should be a rule for any salad you eat.  Dipping can save you upwards of 100 calories per salad. (100 calories=1 mile of running...remember that)  The strawberries add so much fresh flavor that there really is no need for much dressing.  Enjoy!!

Now this is a salad I could eat everyday!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Don't Quit Now...You Can Recover Later

Last week...I was in a bit of a slump (I'll be the first to admit it) I slacked on my exercising.  Now...I hate excuses (like I said previously, people can see through excuses).  So, I thought long and hard about why I went 4 days without working out, and how I can keep myself motivated

Excuse 1. I bought a bad pair of running shoes: About 3 weeks ago I realized it was about time to invest in a new pair of tennies.  It is good to get a new pair of running shoes every 6 months or 300 miles (whichever comes first).  I'll be honest...I haven't always lived up to this standard (I was a poor college students for 4 years, cut me some slack) so I knew it was about time when the traction at the bottom of my shoe was coming off.  I don't really know all that much about buying running shoes, so I went to Dick's Sporting Goods without doing much research (mistake number 1) and a budget of $50 (mistake number 2).   I told the nice man at the shoe department all my running issues such as my shin splints, arch pain, and weak ankles...he didn't seem to care.  He was nice, just didn't really know how to help me find an appropriate shoe.  He didn't even try to get me to buy a more expensive shoe! his loss, I'm a sucker while shopping. So after trying on about 10 pairs (their selection was awful) I found a pair of Aasics that were just OK.

Long story short I tried wearing these shoes for about 2 weeks until finally on a run last week, my pain was so bad, I literally could not run anymore.  My shins were throbbing all week,  I felt like I got duped by the Dick's guy (I could put a humorous play on words there but I'll keep it family friendly).  Without a receipt or the box, I felt I was out of luck for getting my money back...however, I'm not the kind of girl to give up with out a fight.  To my surprise Dick's gave me a full refund no questions asked!  I will not buy my shoes from Dick's anymore, but I will definitely stay a customer. I am shoeless.  So I went to Fleet Feet, a specialty running store in Macedonia, to look for a pair of decent running shoes.  This was the best decision I made yet.  The employee there took time to measure my foot, watch me walk, run, and even just stand to understand what kind of shoe I require.  (She even brought out a skeleton foot to show me how the bones work.  I didn't know what she was talking about...but I was impressed.)  Now these shoes were a bit pricier (all of their shoes start at around $100) but in my opinion if you will be running a lot, and have any kind of issue like I's worth the investment.   I did a quick run in them and a spinning class and so far so good!  I'll keep you all posted on how I like them down the road.

My New Kicks!  Brooks Ghost 4 

Excuse 2. I got the Flu:  I think this is a pretty legitimate excuses for missing a workout don't you?  I could hardly walk let alone run.  But the good news with this one was the stomach flu, so I lost 7 pounds.  So that cancels out not working out right?  (I know that's wrong...but it was still nice to look at the scale!)

Now what's the opposite of Excuses?  Incentives! and Goals! (Ok, I know that's not right but just go with it.)

Incentives : Buy new workout gear: I was back in action today at my noon spinning class!  I felt great in my new kicks, and new gear.  Oh did I mention I bought some new spinning clothes while at Dicks?  Like I said...I'm a sucker for shopping.  My first piece of advice for everyone out there...Go buy a pair of spinning shorts.  I just bought my first pair, and they make your legs look so skinny.  Seriously! I am wearing these things everywhere, my legs looked great!  I got a pair for $30 at Dicks, which in my opinion is not too bad.  I also bought a few new Nike dry and fit tops that were about $25 I was ready to go in all my new things!  

This is also another great motivation technique.  Whenever I buy new workout gear, I can't wait to go and try it out.  So if you are feeling in a slump, or not excited to work out, try buying yourself something new.  It doesn't have to be a whole outfit like mine was (I did go a little overboard)  even a new ipod armband, a pair of shorts, tank-top, headband, whatever it takes to make you excited to workout and use that new product!

Buy new workout gear to keep the excitement!
Goals: I am doing a 2-hour spinning "marathon" this Sunday, followed by an outdoor challenge (I have no idea what this outdoor challenge is but I'm scared).  So I have been trying to work up my endurance and skill set for this coming Sunday.  This is a short term goal of mine that I will be so proud of myself when I complete.  I also have long term goals of my ideal weight, size, and running distance.  A great resource to use is the My Fitness Pal App.  It tells you how many calories you need to burn to hit your goals, tracks your nutrition for you, and even allows you to follow friends so it can be a group motivator.  I love it.  I also set small, obtainable goals.  If I run 3 miles one day...the next I will strive for 3.5.  Or strive to go 5 miles in a week.  And then you can reward yourself with the incentives we talked about earlier!! (see how this all comes together?)
My Fitness Pal tracks your food and nutrition.  You can also add in your exercises to add more calories to your diet!

Even little things like downloading new music will make me excited to go running.

When I am really not in the mood to work out, I like to go on the eliptical, or walk on an incline and put on an episode of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix.  At least I am entertained and exercising right??

You gotta put your mind to it go for it, you gotta break a sweat...hmm where have I heard that before.  The Bayside girls know how to stay in shape, have fun, and dress the part!

Here are a few good meals and snacks to eat that will keep you energized and burning fat!

Pre-Workout Snack: Before I workout I like to eat an apple with 1-2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter.  I eat this about an hour before I workout and I always feel energized for my workout.  (One time I tried yogurt as a pre-workout snack...don't do that)

Lunch:  So I really like quesodillas...and I really like I thought what if I made a tuna quesodilla? (I know it sounds weird but go with it)  If you don't like tuna you can substitute for shredded chicken

Source: My head :)
2 mini whole wheat tortillas
1 can of albacore tuna (or cooked and shredded chicken)
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup spinach
shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

Mix your tuna (or chicken) with your 1/2 of an avocado.  Put this on your wheat tortilla, and cover with spinach and cheddar cheese (I used less than 1/4 of a cup) top with your other tortilla.  Bake on 350 for about 10 minutes (I just watched it until the sides were crispy)  This was so good and great source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.  Even with the mini tortillas it was a big serving and very filling...I could only eat half!

Evening Snack: Carrots and Hummus.  So good.
Sabre hummus with carrots

Something my spin instructor says when we are all starting to look tired is "Why quit now?  You can recover later!"  I love that, it's so true.  Give it your all, sweat, and push the have all day to chill out and eat those yummy snacks I told you about! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Creamy Shrimp and Spinach Alfredo

First and foremost I think I am well overdue to say...OU OH YEAH!!  March Madness Sweet Sixteen baby!  Who had OU advancing in their brackets??  I know I sure did...I was criticized for having Ohio University advancing so far...hmm looks like people should have listened to me when creating their brackets!
The Bobcats played a GREAT game against UNC last night.  Seriously...we took the number one seeded team to over time.  It was such a fun game to watch...I know my adrenaline was through the roof!  At one point I claimed "if OU wins I'm taking 8 shots!" That part of me was glad they did not win...seriously 8 shots Liz? What was I thinking...

This was the first year I created a March Madness bracket, (we have a pool going at the office).  I don't religiously follow college basketball (and by that I mean I don't follow college basketball at all) but it's a lot of fun!  My teams are all doing so well!  Here is how I created my bracket.  First I looked at the ranking (seemed like the best place to start) but if I haven't ever heard of the team I did not choose them (made that mistake with Murray State).  Then it all had to do with color, mascot, and desirable places.  Naturally I chose University of North Carolina to win it all because I like blue...North Carolina is pretty, but honestly I don't know what a Tar Heel is...

Brian and I met some friends at 3-spot in North Royalton to watch the game.  We ordered a few beverages and split appetizers.  We ordered fried calamari, mussels, and fried zucchini.  All I can say least our drinks were good.  It was Friday, so we were limited to what we could eat (no meat!) but I guess that's what we get for ordering seafood at a sports bar (the fact that the appetizers were $5.99 should have been a clue).  But of course this got me thinking about my blog...I am always thinking about my blog...How I want to learn how to appropriately cook seafood.  I already mastered tilapia (ok maybe I didn's master it) So I started thinking about shrimp...then I started thinking about alfredo...and then I realized I was thinking too much about food.

Nonetheless, I made this for Jane and I and it turned out so well!

Creamy Shrimp and Spinach Alfredo
Source: I put my own spin on this recipe though

Alfredo is definitely my go to meal.  It is my all time favorite pasta dish (good thing its so healthy)  My Aunt Donna gave me this little hint of putting some cheddar cheese in it to give it an extra kick of flavor (Thanks Aunt Donna!)  When I did my Alfredo turned out tastier than it ever has before!

  • 1 pound fettuccini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp - peeled and deveined
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt to taste

This recipe is simple, yet you must keep an eye on your sauce.

Bring your salted water to a boil (I always add a little EVO to my water, it helps keep the noodles from sticking).  Add your pasta and cook thoroughly.

Saute your shrimp and garlic in your butter for about 1-2 minutes.  Add in your spinach.  The spinach will take up the whole skillet and you may think "woah this is too much"  It's not...spinach shrinks like you wouldn't believe.  Saute and medium heat until spinach is tender and shrimp is pink.

Pour in half and half and stir.  Make sure your heat is medium-med/low.  You don't want the sauce to boil.  Add in the parmesan cheese one tablespoon at a time stirring constantly.  Throw in your 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and continue to stir. Sauce will take a little bit of time to thicken

Combine your sauce with your noodles and you are done! Yum!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spinning on St. Patrick's Day...Seriously?

Friday was the longest day of my life (ok...a little dramatic).  I was so ready for the up-coming weekend!  We had a planned family gathering Friday evening, Brian was coming home, and of course Saturday was St. Patrick's Day!  As an Irish girl, I love St. Patty's day. Corned beef, potatoes, parades, beer, what's there not to love?  As work finally ended on Friday I quickly drove home to pick up my sister and meet my family out for some family fun.  It was the weekend, so I allowed myself to indulge in a piece of pizza and some Yuengling (or a few).  I mean, it was a weekend to celebrate after all!  Excited to see my boyfriend (It's been a month!) and family members, we all enjoyed each others company with some good laughs and a few cocktails.  Before I knew it it was midnight...and I had a few too many drinks than planned (not my fault I was not buying or driving). A reminder popped up on my phone "Reminder: Spinning at 6:30 am.  DO NOT MISS LIZ" (I talk to myself in the 3rd person with my phone).  Well crap.  I had to get home.

The Saturday morning spinning class is in high demand.  You must sign up at least a week in advance...and skipping is not an option. As my alarm went off at 5:45 am (dear lord) I knew there was no turning back.  I had to spin.  I got myself together and went.  Of course this wasn't the hour long class...oh no, it had to be the 80 minute class (I wanted to cry).  There was no use in complaining so I just spun....and spun and spun and spun.  I'm pretty sure I sweated out all the Yuengling from the night before (The gentleman next to me said I looked rough...thank you sir.)  And then as the class came to an end, the instructor ended the class to a song called "Hangover" I'm pretty sure it was directed to me.

Note to self:
do not mix (for future reference)

Moral of the story:  No excuses.  For exercise or anything in life.  People can see right through excuses, so just keep it simple and always be truthful.  If I didn't go spinning, the only person I would have been hurting was myself.  The fact that I got up and moving even (when I didn't want to) was a personal victory in its self!  I was so proud that I made it to the class (and didn't pass out) I felt great after the workout! And it definitely is the best cure after a night of a few too many drinks.  Plus I knew St. Patty's Day was going to be filled with beer, food, and some more beer.  The more calories I burned this morning...the more I could indulge! 
The other moral of the story is don't drink so much the night before your spinning class.

I headed downtown with Brian and his family.  (Brian is my boyfriend if you haven't figured that out by now)  We got there around 11 am (we had a late start to the day) and headed straight for The House of Blues.  We enjoyed the sounds of  live bands while savoring every sip of my $10.25 beer. (no that's not a typo I paid $10.25 for a Budlight)  The streets of Cleveland were lined with Cleveland-ers celebrating St. Patty's day and enjoying the wonderful weather (It was in the mid 70's!)  There were over 500,000 people downtown dressed in green and wishing they were Irish (everyone loves an Irish girl!)  We were surrounded with friends and family, and it was definitely a day to remember!
Brian and I outside the House of Blues
The crowd lines the street of East 4th
Tracey and I found Buddy! (my  brother)
Beautiful weather for the patio of The Clevelander
Brian and I at The Clevelander...broken sunglasses :(
I started my day with a hearty healthy breakfast that filled me up and gave me energy.  I love breakfast (its the best meal of the day!) so I always enjoy finding new recipes that are healthy and yummy!  These scrambled egg whites were easy to make and are filled with protein!

Scrambled Egg Whites
3 egg whites
chopped peppers and onions
1/4 cup skim milk
1/8 teaspoon no salt seasoning

This was so easy, that you can really mix it up and do a lot with it.  These just happened to be the ingredients I had in my house.  I found the best way to get the egg whites with no yolk is to carefully crack the egg half way down the center and split the egg in two.  (make sure you hold the egg in one side of the the cracked egg) Here is a video that shows how to separate the egg (it reminds me of "how to separate an egg for dummies" haha)

Once you have your egg whites add in your 1/4 cup milk, and chopped veggies. I used onion, and green and red peppers, but you can get creative with it. Whisk this until fluffy and everything is mixed.

Spray your pan and pour in your eggs.  You can easily make this an omelet, I chose to do scrambled.  Add in your no salt seasoning (I like McCormick, but there are a lot of different kinds)
Scramble your eggs until fluffy.  I served with 9 grain whole wheat toast (It's from Heninen's and is the best bread ever) and a banana.  This was a great meal loaded with protein and potassium!

I got hungry and ate the banana before the pic...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jane is home! And I'm making Parmesan Tilapia

While I was closing my eyes to go to sleep last night, all I could think about was what my next blog was going to be about.  As I was thinking of that perfect recipe that would make this blog world renowned (gotta think big!) it quickly came to my mind that Jane (my little sister) was going to be home this week for spring break.  Now, why did that come to mind as I was thinking of what to cook for the next day you ask?  Because Jane is a vegetarian and I have nothing to feed her!  I quickly ran down stairs to see what we had in the kitchen that would suite her vegetarian needs (and as a family of carnivores....there wasn't much).  Now, mind you this was at midnight that I am thinking of my poor, starving baby sister.  You may be thinking...Lizzie, why are you so concerned about your sister's eating at midnight??  I thought the same exact thing and went back to bed.  Sorry Jane...we're having chicken.

Jane and me at Sibs Weekend February 17, 2012 Ohio University

Jane is a freshman at my alma mater Ohio University (that's weird to say), which is great because it gives me a reason to visit for the next four years!  We have many things in common (or should I say everything)...people say we are one in the same!  This is great because we share clothes (except when she takes my things), go to concerts, you name it we do it together.  Poor Jane lives in a family that idolizes meat.  Seriously...we stress out on Fridays during lent when meat is not allowed.  Jane has been a vegetarian for over 2 years now, and I am truly impressed with how quickly she adapted to the lifestyle (sometimes she worries me with lack of protein). But I am thrilled to have her home this week!  It's times like these I wish I had no responsibilities in life and could sit home with her all week and watch movies while eating Honey Hut (the best ice cream ever).  But reality is...I DO have responsibilities, so we must enjoy the time we do have together.  Since I love my sister oh so much, I have been searching for vegetarian friendly recipes the whole family will enjoy.

I decided to head straight for seafood recipes.  Seafood is my absolute favorite.  My mom on the other hand....not so much.  So this put me on a mission....I must convince Ging (my mom) to eat seafood!  I was up for the challenge.  How was I going to do this? The woman has gone 40 years claiming she doesn't like fish. (she would not be so happy if I put her real for the sake of my mom we'll say she is 40)  Here's the thing has never tried tilapia.  I know she will like it once she tries's the difficult task of getting her to actually eat it!  Well...I could trick her and say its not fish (hmmm, lying to your mom....that's frowned upon right?)  So I searched until I found the most perfect tilapia recipe out there. And let me tell you, this turned out fabulous.  I was told this was the best meal I have made yet!  And here it is. caught me that's not the one I made.  That's the picture from the website.  This is just presented so nicely!!  Mine definitely tasted better though....

Note to on presentation next time. Presentation is not as important as delicious taste though!

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan


    1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
    2 tablespoons butter, softened 
    1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise 
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1/8 teaspoon dried basil 
    1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper 
    1/8 teaspoon onion powder 
    1/8 teaspoon celery salt 
    1 pound tilapia fillets

Pre-heat your ovens's broiler (I cooked it on high, however low may be the better choice the fish will cook fast)

Grease broiling pan (or line with aluminum foil)

In a mixing bowl, mix together all your ingredients (not the tilapia).  Mix well and set to the side.

Arrange your tilapia filet's on your broiling pan.  Broil a few inches from heat for 2-3 minutes.  (Watch this carefully because it will cook fast and oven temperatures vary)  Flip your filets and cook a few more minutes.  Remove filet's from the oven and cover them with your mixture.  Broil two more minutes or until the topping is brownish and fish flakes easily with a fork.  Be careful not to over cook the fish.

I served this with wild rice and steamed broccoli which paired very nicely with the fish.

Makes 4 servings

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 4
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 177.2
  • Total Fat: 10.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 63.7 mg
  • Sodium: 226.0 mg
  • Total Carbs: 1.8 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
  • Protein: 18.7 g

Now I know what you're all DYING to know.  Did Ging eat the tilapia??  She ate her entire plate! (mission complete)

Until next time... Bon App├ętit!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Introduction....and some stuffed shells!

As an introduction to myself and this blog, my name is Lizzie and I am 23 years old and just started my career in Cleveland, Ohio.  I recently graduated from Ohio University (Go Bobcats!) with my BA in marketing and sales.  I miss college from time to time, but have been embracing this new chapter in my life.  I live at home with my parents ( I have to save up!) and let me tell parents (or roommates as I like to call them)  LOVE my new found passion for cooking.  It's as if they have their own live-in chef!  They are my guinea pigs for all of my experimental recipes...some good...some not so good.  I knew I was doing something right when I convinced my mom (the pickiest eater I know) to try (and LIKE) tilapia.  That's what inspired me to start this blog!

Those who know me (and my former cooking habits) may be thinking it's a bit bizarre that I have started a cooking blog (I think the same thing).  I was the girl in college who ate pasta for dinner every night (pasta still is my favorite!) and ate the same thing for every meal.  I once had a friend over for breakfast, and I told him that I cooked him a delicious meal.  To his disappointment I made bagels (a little burnt) and coffee.  THAT was my idea of cooking. (I still haven't lived that one down).

I graduated this past fall, which was a bittersweet experience.  I was sad to leave that carefree college life I had know for 4....ok... 4 and a half (I milked it all I could!) years.  It was time to say goodbye to friends, classmates, and that college atmosphere, and move on to bigger and better things.  I can still remember driving away from the beautiful college town in Athens, Ohio with my sunglasses on, music blaring, and that feeling of uncertainty in my stomach.  I was ready for the next chapter of my life, however there was a big cloud hanging over my head...what is the next chapter?

As I figured that big question out (I'm still not so sure I know the answer) I had the opportunity to do a lot of self discovery.  After the holidays, my boyfriend and my sister (I'll talk much more about them later) moved back to college, while many of my close friends moved away to start their careers or go to grad school.  I had accepted a recruiting position here in Cleveland, so living at home with my parents was the smartest thing I could do at this point (hey not the most glamorous but it works).  For the first time in a long time I could focus on me.  I indulged myself into my first new big girl job! (hey I got a job a month after graduating...not so shabby).  I enjoy the working world and making a name for myself.  But now...I have all this spare time on the weekends and after what do I do with it?

Welp, eating has always been a favorite hobby of mine, so I could definitely fill my time doing that! (haha...but seriously)  So I started experimenting with things.  I got very involved with  (love that site) which is where I found so many different recipes with pictures that made my mouth water.  I started following various cooking blogs, and talking to people about cooking.  And the more dishes I made...the more I realized, hey I'm pretty good at this...AND I ENJOY DOING  IT.  

Well of course with all this eating I'm doing....I have to balance it out with exercise (or else I would be 500 lbs).    Which brings me to my next self discovered interest, maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  I started spinning about 3 times a week, and running the other 4 days.  Hey did you guys know this...if you eat right and lose weight?  Yeah, I didnt know that either.  You also feel better mentally and physically...huh who knew!? Weird how I gained weight in college...I thought the pizza and beer diet was great, I mean I walked to class everyday, that counted as exercise...right?  I thought so. Haha! But once again, Pinterest pointed me in the right direction for fitness plans and workouts that I enjoy doing!

In a nutshell, that's what I'm all about!  I will explore more of my cooking inspirations, healthy lifestyle tips, and more of my self discovery along the way.  But first...we need a recipe to start with!   I made this stuffed shells recipe a few nights ago, unsure of what to expect (I had never made it before....let alone stuffed a shell)  but these were fabulous!  My family and I ate them all up.  They were small enough to be served as finger food, which made me think these would be great as an appetizer for a party!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

12-16 jumbo pasta shells
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons pesto
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese + 1/4 for topping
2 cups of shredded cooked chicken
2 cloves minced garlic
6-8 cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Boil your water and cook your shells until al dente.  Drain and put to the side

In a mixing bowl combine all your other ingredients (minus the 1/4 cup parmesan cheese for the topping).  Season to taste,  (I used a bit less tomatoes)  

Stuff your mixture into your shells and arrange on a foiled baking sheet.  Sprinkle remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes.  (You may want to use a shredded cheese for a cheesier effect)

**Like I said these would be great as an appetizer, or to make it more of a "meal" I will make a creamier sauce to go along with them next time.  Also I think sun dried tomatoes would taste great in this!  Let me know what you think!