Bloom Everyday

Inspiration for Healthy Living.

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Vegetarian Loves ME: Stuffed Shells Edition

Last night was one of those nights where I was tired, had an evergrowing to do list, was short on time, and still hadn’t thought of what to make for dinner. I had a chat with my Nana and she gave me the great idea to make Stuffed Shells.

I still needed to exercise for the day, so I went on a run to our favorite grocery store and picked up some large shells and ricotta cheese.

You’ll need:

> Large Pasta Shells, 1 box
> Your favorite red sauce (like our recipe), as needed
> red pepper flakes, as desired
> Fresh herbs (I used oregano, tarragon, basil), 3 tbsp
> Italian Seasoning, dried, 1 tsp
> Garlic powder, 2 tsp
> frozen broccoli, small dice, 1 1/2 cups
> ricotta cheese, part-skim, small container
> parmesean, shredded, 1/4 cups
> chicken tenders, three
> milk
> bread crumbs
> egg
> flour
> oil

1. In a medium size bowl, mix together the  ricotta, herbs, seasoning, broccoli, parmesean, garlic powder, and salt & pepper.

And get this!

2. Cook shells as directed, drain, and then coat with thin layer of pasta sauce to prevent them from sticking together.

3. Place red pepper flakes in the bottom of two baking dishes. Put a thin layer of red sauce on the bottom of the dishes.

4. Fill the shells with the cheese fillings and arrange in baking dishes. Cover the tops with sauce.

5. Place in a 375 degree oven while you prepare the chicken. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces, dip the chicken in a milk and egg mixture. Then coat in the bread crumbs and flour. Cook in oil until golden brown.

6. Pull one of the dishes with the shells out and place the chicken around the dish.

7. Sprinkle some parmesean cheese on cook until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Yum!

– Katie @ BloomEveryday

What is your favorite go-to meal when you cannot think of what to make?

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Caprese Salad


I love the end of summer when everyone’s garden is producing! It is that time of year for some wonderful, fresh dishes – simple flavors with satisfying taste bud rewards. It also means, cooking frenzies to use up the bountiful harvest before it goes bad. We were invited to a friend’s house this weekend for dinner, so I thought a simple Caprese salad would be a great accompaniment to the meal. Plus, it looks so beautiful on the plate. You won’t believe the oohhs and ahhhs you will get over the beauty and simplicity of this dish. But you will smile and say, “Why thank you!” knowing deep down, it didn’t take any time to prepare.

What you will need:

Fresh tomatoes (About 2 large)
Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Truly, this salad is all about getting creative! Arrange the sliced tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, and basil in whatever pattern looks great to you.

Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. Garnish with a sprig of basil. Deep down, I feel Italian. Amazing what a few ingredients will do.

I love to eat this for lunch during the workweek. Make some extra Caprese Salad to keep in the fridge for the week to come; gourmet lunch, ready in minutes!

– Heather @ BloomEveryday

What are your favorite tomato recipes, during tomato season?

Homemade Fresh and Easy Tomato Sauce

It is tomato season. The harvest is ripe, as evidenced by my over-flowing counter, and each day brings a new crop. I can barely keep up with all the tomatoes (as I am sure any of you out there growing your
own tomato plants can testify to as well).

Even if you aren’t growing your own tomatoes this year, you can snag up some great deals at your local grocer since tomatoes are in season.

I am all about simple, easy, one-pot meals. My favorite meals are crock-pot meals. Set it and forget it!

So in an attempt to use all of my beautiful fresh tomatoes, I wanted to create a simple, fresh tomato sauce that didn’t take any time to prepare.

Here is the result:


6-8 fresh large tomatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped (I used this from my garden too!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp fresh basil (this came from the garden too, but if you don’t have access to fresh basil, substitute
with 3 teaspoons dried)
1 tsp dried oregano
½ cup of your favorite dry white wine
Salt and Pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in your crock-pot. Set on 8 hours low heat. Half way through cooking, use an immersion blender to blend ingredients (blend until desired consistency; I like my sauce slightly chunky).

Place sauce back in crock-pot and continue cooking for another 2-4 hours or until sauce is thick. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week or place in airtight containers and put in the freezer to use later.

Serving Suggestions:

Use this sauce to top your favorite pasta or polenta. Use in lasagna or eggplant parmesan. Or better yet, make some homemade pizza! Delish!

-Heather @ BloomEveryday

Mediterranean Pasta Dinner for Two

Happy Sunday!

It’s a gloomy day here, but today is a beautiful day. 🙂

If you lead a busy life like Heather and I, sometimes you need to plan a date night with that special someone! That’s exactly what I did last night with my sweetie. We took a trip to the Mediterranean. Here is my recipe for a yummy, easy, healthy dinner and an easy side dish.

I picked some fresh tomatoes and basil from our garden to use in this recipe. But you can use fresh ingredients from your local store or farmer’s market. This is a fresh dish that will be pleasing to even the biggest vegetable loather (my husband doesn’t like tomatoes but loves this dish!).

Here’s what you will need:

2 cups cherry (or similar) tomatoes, halved
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
2/3 cup basil, chiffonade
1/4 cup good oil
red pepper flakes, as hot as you like
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1) In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, oil, pepper flakes, salt,  and pepper. Cover and let stand at room temperature for a minimum of 5 hours – to marinate (or can be stored in the fridge during the day if you are planning to make it later than 5 hours).

Chop…

Add basil…


Add oil…

And mix…

2) When you are ready for dinner, boil water and cook the angel hair pasta as directed (should only take 4 to 5 minutes). Drain the pasta and put back in the pot. Add the marinated tomatoes. Mix in the cheese.

Cooked pasta…
Add marinated tomatoes…


Add the parm…


Viola! Dinner is served…

For a super simple side dish…here’s what you can do. At your local bakery or at the supermarket, pick out your favorite loaf of bread. We love ciabatta! It’s light and airy, but chewy and crisp on the outside.

I took half the load, wrapped it in foil, and put in the oven to warm it through.

Then stop by your local olive bar and pick out a few goodies…we chose olive tapenade, roasted garlic, and feta and olives. We dipped the bread in some oil and put some of our picks on top. So tasty! And a really easy, no fuss side dish (this is a perfect idea too if you are going to entertain). Less work for you!


This is a great meal for a little getaway! Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

– Katie @ BloomEveryday

What’s your favorite meal that transports you?

Peanut Butter Cup of Coffee

If you’ve read our “BE Loved” post from Friday, TGICoffee, you know Peanut Butter Iced Coffee is what I love this week. What’s a girl to do then to get her fix? I raced off to the restaurant supply store in town and found Torani Peanut Butter syrup…only for $4.75 (a full 750 ml bottle!). That was $0.50 shy of what my coffee on Thursday cost, not including tip. Here is my recipe for making this delicious creation at home on the cheap!

What You Will Need:

> Prepared coffee, cold
> Peanut Butter Syrup, as sweet as you like it
> Ice cubes
> Soy milk, or dairy of your choosing

I make my coffee the night before, such as Heather wrote about when simplifying her mornings. I added the syrup last night when the coffee was hot to help dissolve the syrup, but you can add it the next day too. Now it’s ready to grab the next day.

Pop a few ice cubes in.

Pour in some soy milk.

Viola! A Peanut Butter Soy Iced Coffee ready to wake you up in the morning. Perfect to take to work or just enjoy on a Saturday morning.

Try it hot too, or with some chocolate syrup as well. Can I get a Peanut Butter Cup Latte, anyone?

Katie @ BloomEveryday

What is your favorite coffee creation?

Red Lentil and Vegetable Tacos

Since I work full-time, sometimes dinner during the week becomes more of a chore than an enjoyable experience. However, I am all about one pot meals – quick, easy, no fuss clean-up. So this recipe has my name all over it. I usually mix up the vegetables I put in the tacos depending on what is in season (and is often dictated by what I have in fridge that night).

Some fun facts about Lentils:

♦ Lentils are high in protein and fiber
♦ Lentils are low in fat
♦ Lentils are quick cooking (Sign me up!)

What you will need:

♦ 1 ¾ cups water
♦ ¾ cup Red Lentils
♦ 1 small onion chopped
♦ 1 clove garlic (or substitute ¼ tsp garlic powder)
♦ ½ tsp salt
♦ ½ tsp cumin
♦ Pepper to taste
♦ Corn taco shells
♦ Assorted Vegetables (I used red pepper, carrots, radishes, olives, and lettuce)
♦ Blended cheese (reduced fat) and sour cream (light)

In a medium saucepan combine water, lentils, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin. Bring mixture to a boil, and reduce heat to low.

Cook for 15 minutes covered. Most of liquid should absorb and the lentils will cook down.


Take a fork and mash the lentil mixture.

Spoon lentils into the taco shells and top with vegetables, cheese, and sour cream. Bon Appetite! Good for you Mexican food! Skip the take-out – dinner is served in less than 20 minutes. Oh, yeah, and did I mention only one pot to clean; my favorite part!

– Heather @ BloomEveryday

What is your favorite go-to weeknight meal?

Morning Madness – How to Simplify your Mornings

Integrate these (6) tips into your chaotic mornings to start the day off right.

We all have those mornings. Or in my case, everyone morning has turned into one of those mornings. You know what I am talking about – you push the snooze button one time too many (or in my case 5 times too many). I somehow manage to trick myself every morning, “You can sleep for five more minutes and still have enough time to get ready.” Yeah, uh-huh, that’s a lie. But for some reason I believe it. Maybe it is because I think that I am super-women, and I only need 20 minutes to get ready in the morning.  Yeah, that’s another lie.

I rush to hop in the shower, do my make-up, pick out my clothes and jewelry, cram something into a plastic bag for lunch, and run out to the car. I say a little prayer as I start the engine, “God, please make all of the lights green, and please don’t have the 7:45AM school bus pull out in front of me.” (Fun fact: who knew buses couldn’t make a right on red?). This just had to end; if nothing else, for my sanity.

Recently, I had an epiphany and decided to get real with myself. I have never been a proverbial “morning person” (as my husband can testify, I don’t think that I form actual words until at least an hour into the day). But in an attempt to simplify my life, and start the day on the right foot, I vowed to implement some changes.

If your mornings sound anything like the above – whether you’re a single women, married women, or stay-at home mom – here are some tips that have worked for me:

Set your alarm for 15 minutes before you want to get up: I wasn’t leaving enough “margin” in my mornings. I needed to give myself more wiggle room, in case I was moving slowly (I think that I have the speed of a sloth first thing in the morning).  It was difficult to get up earlier, especially for someone who is a self-proclaimed non-morning person. But it is all about training your body. It will eventually adjust to your new morning wake-up time (of course, as long as you are not burning the midnight oil and at least getting 7 hours of sleep each night). By giving myself an extra half an hour, I am able to get ready at a more relaxing pace. 

Pack your lunch the night before: I love to buy in bulk. When it comes to packing lunch for the next work day, I love to pack portioned out snacks. This lets me have the freedom to enjoy my favorite snacks, knowing that I can control my calorie intake. When I get home from the grocery store, I immediately measure out my snacks into individual snack bags that I can just grab. I love to pack some kind of nut (peanuts or cashews in 1 oz. servings) or baby carrots.  Also see our favorite low calorie snack mixes for other snack packing ideas! To avoid soggy sandwich messes, make your sandwich with the cheese and meat on each side of the bread, and put the condiments in the middle. This will keep your bread fresh overnight. PB&J’s are great too. By placing peanut butter on each side of the bread and jelly in the middle, you save the bread from a soggy mess. Just grab and go in the morning!

Layout your clothes the night before (including jewelry and any accessories): I know that it seems so elementary, a flashback to the days when mom would lay out your clothes. But this is a huge time saver in the morning! If you are anything like me, my indecisiveness is multiplied first thing in the morning. I would stand in the closet for at least ten minutes deciding which outfit to wear for the day (and of course change my mind at least two times).  By having everything laid out the night before, all I have to do is put it on! 

Two words: Iced Coffee:  Katie actually got me hooked onto this novel idea. Make your coffee the night before, and place it in the refrigerator in your to-go cup. The only thing needed is some ice and viola, instant iced coffee! Not only does this save me ten minutes since I don’t have to fuss with the coffee maker in the morning. But on the days when  I didn’t have time to make coffee, I ended up at our local Starbucks, where $5 later, I drove away with my iced skinny vanilla latte. Sweet, $5 in savings!

Eat breakfast at home: My old routine didn’t leave enough time to eat breakfast at home. Instead, I would eat my breakfast (usually instant oatmeal) at my desk at work, while I checked work email. Definitely not as relaxing as making a bowl of cereal, and sitting at the kitchen table reading the morning paper or watching my favorite morning show. By getting up 15 minutes earlier, I am able to take advantage of this time, and just breathe and relax before the day gets rolling.

Spend 15 minutes doing something you want to do: Whether this be sitting on the couch staring into oblivion, or reading a chapter in a book, or putting away the dishes in the dishwasher – take this time to set your mental attitude for the day. It sounds cheesy, but it has definitely allowed me to start the day with the right mind-set. Not frantic and stressed, wondering if the 7:45AM school bus was going to pull out in front of me during my commute.  

 
The day is stressful enough; my mornings don’t need to be.  

Heather @ BloomEveryday
         “Let’s do life together.”

Let us know how you simplify your mornings. What tips and routines get you or your family started on the right foot?

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