Getting Creative

This past weekend, I spent some time with my sister who is home from college for her winter break. She is extremely creative when it comes to cooking and crafts, so I knew I wanted to spend some time trying to be “crafty” with her. I’m confident (enough) in the kitchen, but when it comes to crafts, I’m completely clueless. I mean, I can’t even cut in a straight line! I see cute things on Pinterest, or think of ideas on my own, but I’m never able to translate the idea to a (decent) finished product. I have no problem admitting that she got most of the creativity genes and I wanted to try and benefit from them!

I had no idea what we’d make, but my sister wanted to go to the craft store to get more yarn, so I was hoping I’d find inspiration while we were there. I should note that when she was home for Thanksgiving she gave me a cute knitted headband, then for Christmas gave me another and a huge scarf! She also managed to knit herself two scarves, as well as a hat for my dad and her boyfriend. I always thought knitting was time consuming (and difficult), but she’s  quick and produces some pretty impressive pieces. Maybe when she’s home for spring break I can get her to teach me (ha!).

Kennedy modeling a scarf my sister made
Kennedy modeling a scarf my sister made

After wandering around the craft store for awhile, we had the idea to make headbands. We grabbed some elastic and went to look at ribbon and jewelry. Unfortunately they didn’t have a large ribbon selection, and the jewelry pieces weren’t exactly what we were looking for. So after standing in one of the aisles staring at each other for awhile, she remembered a print I had pinned to one of my Pinterest boards. She turned to me and said, “what’s that one print you have on your Pinterest board? We can make it.” I pulled up a few and realized it was this one. We grabbed a $12 canvas, a bottle of black and bottle of gold paint (they were $3 each), and a set of paintbrushes. Once we got home, my sister outlined the words free hand, and then we painted the words to match the print. We added a teal stripe at the top to make it “my own” and in a matter of two hours and $20 later, I had an awesome print to hang over my desk! I of course spent the rest of the night yelling “treat yo self!” to almost anything.

Oh, I will.
Oh, I will.

I decided to continue my creativity streak with breakfast the next morning. My mom and I got to work in the kitchen and made a breakfast bake that included onion, pepper, potato, tomato, black beans, cheese, eggs, and chili powder. It was super filling and really delicious – perfect for the (literally) frozen morning.

Who doesn't love a meal they can throw in the oven & forget about?!
Who doesn’t love a meal they can throw in the oven & forget about?!

After this weekend, I realized that I definitely want to try and be a little more DIY this year. More than that, though, I want to tap into my creative side. I know that I’m not super crafty and that’s okay, but there’s more to creativity than just crafts. I need to write more, and take risks in the kitchen.

Tell me…
Do you like crafting? Any easy starter crafts you can suggest for a newbie like me?
Do you consider yourself to be creative? 

Delicious Sticks

It’s no secret that I really like Pinterest. Anyone that follows me knows that there are only a few things I’m ever really interested in: food, clothes, and workouts. I suppose you could say my boards are a pretty good reflection of my personal interests. Hmm, I see some type of interesting psychological study here… But I’ll leave that to the professionals.

There are always recipes for ‘healthified’ versions of things that most of us love, but refuse to indulge in. I kept seeing recipes for baked avocado fries, baked eggplant fries, and baked zucchini fries, and eventually decided to try some myself. Last Friday’s fresh box came with two very large zucchinis, so I decided to try them first in my quest for baked-not-fried-sticks-of-deliciousness.

Plain and simple, I don’t know why I waited so long to try this. It wasn’t because there is required effort (because there really isn’t), or because I was afraid I wouldn’t like it (I knew I would), I really have no explanation as to why I neglected said sticks of deliciousness for so long. But, now that I’ve gotten my feet wet with the zucchini, you better believe I’m making the eggplant and avocado versions in the very near future.

So don’t wait as long as I did, and go make these – I promise you won’t regret it.

Spicy Baked Zucchini Sticks
– serves 2 for an appetizer –

1 large zucchini
1 egg
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes (these are SPICY, so adjust accordingly!)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut the zucchini in half, and then slice it into about 1-2 inch thick strips. Be sure to leave the skin on for a little crunch.
3. In a shallow bowl whisk the egg, set aside.
4. In a second shallow bowl combine the panko and spices.
5. Dip the zucchini first in the egg, followed by the panko mixture, and lay it on a greased baking sheet. Repeat for all of the zucchini sticks.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Serve with marinara or your favorite dipping sauce (or eat them as is!)

This Week in Yum

Seriously, how is July almost over already? I guess being away for two weeks at the beginning of the month helped make it fly by. I was finally able to get back into the swing of things this week, and despite a medical emergency close call, I made some delicious stuff in the kitchen!

First up was a vegetarian loaf – full of beans and flavor. I wasn’t sure if it would hold together enough to resemble meatloaf, but it did. I don’t even remember how I found this recipe, but I’m so glad I did. It made enough for both dinner and lunch the next day, and I had most of the ingredients already on hand. I definitely want to make this again, and I think it could be just as delicious if I play around with the spices.

On Tuesday I decided to make brussels sprouts, because they’re one of my favorite vegetables. Someone doesn’t like them, so I actually have never made them myself; I’ve only ever had them at my parent’s house. So after checking with my mom to see how she usually makes them, I got to work in the kitchen. It was so easy – I threw about 3 Tbsp of olive oil into a pan, chopped up three cloves of garlic, and tossed the brussels (I cut them in half) into the pan with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I sautéed them over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, and I had myself a delicious side dish. Since I wound up eating the entire carton myself, they actually wound up being my main dish! So easy. So delicious. I just don’t understand why people don’t like brussels sprouts!

Wednesday was quick & easy pizza after the Downtown Westfield 5k that I didn’t get to run (see above with the “medical close call”), but the hubs did. So even though I didn’t run, I got to enjoy the pizza!

Thursday’s dinner came from a recipe I found on Pinterest (of course) for Linguine with Smoky Avocado Sauce. I had grilled avocado for the first time a few months ago and loved it, and I’ve used avocado as a “cream sauce” before and loved it, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. The recipe itself doesn’t say how much pasta to use, so I wound up using enough for three servings, by just grabbing some handfuls of spaghetti. I really need to get myself one of those pasta measuring contraptions, because I never know how much I’m using when it comes to spaghetti.

In addition to dinner, there’s been no lack of dessert. Most nights of the week end with a little ice cream. Somehow, our cats know exactly when it’s ice cream time – no matter where they are in the house, they come bounding into the kitchen, and subsequently perch themselves on either arm of our couch, stalking our every bite. It may seem like a bit of an exaggeration, but I captured the below picture one night while we were trying to enjoy our dessert. It happens every single time. They’re lucky they are so darn cute.

I have next week’s meals all planned out already, but I’m thinking they may change. I’m picking up our very first CSA box today (and I’m so excited!!), so I’ll need to be sure to incorporate the goodies into our meals for the week. I can’t wait to see what we get!

Did you have anything noteworthy this week? 
Do you have pets that stalk your every move when you eat? 

Running and Cupcakes

On both of my runs this past weekend, I couldn’t help but think about my pace and how that should translate to race day. I usually find myself sneaking a peak at my watch and being concerned with not going fast enough. When it comes to marathon training, though, I need to have a different outlook on my training runs than I did when I was training for my last half marathon… slow and steady.

Most of the training plans I’ve come across suggest running your long runs about a minute or so slower per mile than your goal marathon pace. So far, this has been a big struggle for me. I finished my first marathon in November in 4:37, which was about a 10:30 pace. Since then, I think I can very easily run a 9:30 pace, bringing me to just over 4 hours. My husband, on the other hand, thinks I can easily run a sub 4-hour marathon considering my easy 1:47 half in April, which of course would be fantastic. Either way, that means I should be running my long runs at about a 9:30 to 10:30 per mile pace, depending on what I ultimately decide my race day goal to be. Well, I ran 10 miles last weekend with an average 8:20 pace, and today’s 8 as slow as I possibly could in 8:50. I realize that once I get to the higher mileage long runs I’ll slow down, but I’m wondering if I need to readjust my goals, or somehow figure out how to run slower. I suppose I’ll have to experiment over the next few weeks.

Even though most of my weekend revolved around running, I did make time for cupcakes and a BBQ. Some friends were celebrating their engagement with a relaxed backyard party, so I knew I had to bring cupcakes. I’ve become known for bringing cupcakes to parties, and when I show up with anything else everyone seems to be disappointed. Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest, I found a recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with a Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Frosting from Gimme Some Oven. They were a hit, and I had plenty of leftover frosting that is currently taunting me from the fridge. I’m thinking of turning into truffles (just shaping it into little balls and coating it in chocolate), but that’s if I can keep my spoon away.

Pinterest has really become a source for my meals and workouts in the past few weeks, and I’m really loving what I’ve found so far. It is a little dangerous at times (links to adorable clothes, and a serious time-waster), but I like to think the helpful things I’ve found outweigh the negatives of spending so much time on one website. I mean, I did find those cupcakes. Now if only I could find an answer to my marathon pace dilemma.

What did you do this weekend?
Any suggestions or words of advice for my marathon training pace dilemma? 

Easy Baked Chicken

When I found a recipe for cheesy slow cooker potatoes on Pinterest, I knew I wanted to pair it with chicken breast. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with it, but I eventually settled on baking it with a dry rub. This should be prefaced by me saying that cooking meat scares me, and this fear is nearly irrational when it comes to chicken. I’m always afraid I’ll undercook it, and somehow contaminate my entire kitchen in the process. Thankfully I haven’t had any real meat cooking blunders, but I’m always much more comfortable with non-meat meals.

Anyway, this is super easy, and aside from taking the chicken out of the package and putting the spices on it, there really isn’t anything else you need to do. The chicken breasts I picked up were a little on the thick side, so I pounded them out a bit (with my fist, since I don’t have a meat tenderizer – classy) before adding the spices. I think this would be perfect sliced and over a salad, or maybe with some Mexican rice. The possibilities are endless!

Easy Baked Chicken
– Serves 4 –

4 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp adobo
1 tsp paprika
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. If needed, pound out the chicken. Mix together all of the spices.
3. Take about a teaspoon of the spice mixture and rub it on each side of the chicken breast. If you have some left over at the end you can spread it across the chicken as you see fit. 
4. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray. Add the chicken to the sheet.
5. Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven), flipping at the half-way point.  

Pinning Away

For those of you that follow me on Pinterest, you know I pin a lot of recipes. So many, in fact, that the majority of the meals I’ve been making over the past few weeks have come from what I’ve found on the site.

My husband’s birthday was last Sunday, so I had to make some sweet treats for the little get together we had. First up was a batch of peanut butter and chocolate protein cookies from The Frugal Girls that were filling and good for you! I found the recipe Saturday morning, and just knew I wanted to make them.

So easy. So delicious.

Next up was a batch of brownie batter dip. Oh yes. I’ve seen plenty of recipes for cookie dough dip, but this was one of the first brownie batter dips I’ve seen, and I’m so glad I made it. It’s from Crumbs and Chaos and is super easy to make, and you can’t go wrong when it’s paired with some animal crackers. Everyone was impressed with the treat, and I had enough leftover to take a little spoonful here and there throughout the week.

You need to make this NOW.

Aside from desserts (which are the majority of pins I see), I’ve made some really delicious dinners as well. Since it was so hot the past few weeks, I wasn’t feeling anything too heavy or that required serious oven time, so I made this chipotle chopped salad from Nutmeg Notebook one night, which was SO good. I subbed the sour cream for plain Chobani, and served it alongside some “chicken” fingers to bulk it up a bit. I would absolutely eat this salad again, for either lunch or dinner.

Just like a Chipotle salad!

We also had some buffalo chicken chili since it got cooler as last week progressed, and I subbed out the shredded chicken for tempeh. It was really good, and I could definitely see it as a crowd pleaser during football season. You should really check out Closet Cooking’s blog – I want to make pretty much every single recipe.

After spending some time perusing Pinterest, I think I have some inspiration and ideas for some of my own recipes that I’d like to try. Hopefully I can make at least one a week, and share them with you!


Super Pie

Happy Pi day!

Every year, I celebrate the one thing about math I don’t completely loathe – piE. I remember growing up and struggling with math, crying to my mom and dad about how I just didn’t get it, while I’d fly through my language arts homework. My mom would try to make it “fun” by teaching percents in terms of shopping, and thinking about food when it came to fractions. But at the end of the day, I just didn’t (and still don’t) get math. But that’s okay, because I at least know that pi is 3.14… and all you need to do is add an “E” and you’ve got yourself dessert!

Since blogging I’ve made some type of pie every year, but this year we had pie for dinner AND dessert! Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest, I found both recipes. The first, spaghetti pie from A Kitchen Muse, caught my eye because it seemed impossible that it would all stick together in a pie dish. But, all you need to do is throw in an egg, and you’ve got yourself spaghetti that holds up enough to cut it and actually eat in pie shape. The recipe called for cottage cheese, which made me nervous since I’m not a CC fan. In the mix with the pasta sauce and cheese, though, it tasted great! The recipe was super easy, and provided enough food for my husband and I for two days.

The dessert pie, also found on Pinterest, is a play on the infamous pie from The Help. I should mention there is one very important ingredient missing from my pie that was in Minny’s pie, and I wouldn’t suggest adding it in – if you know what I mean. This pie is so incredibly easy to make – you probably have everything you need right in your pantry already! It’s from Food & Wine, and is actually the recipe that was used for the pies in the movie. It was great with some whipped cream, and came together quickly. I’ll definitely be making this pie again.

While I didn’t come up with my very own Pi Day recipes, I have been playing around in the kitchen making some other things that I’ll hopefully be posting soon! But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I enjoy finding and recreating recipes that are already created – sometimes at the end of the day I just don’t have enough energy to create something new in the kitchen. That’s why I’m thankful for cookbooks, blogs, and the wonders of Google searching. My meals would probably be very boring without those resources!

So, how did you celebrate Pi Day? Do you celebrate the E, or nerd out?