Thursday, December 22, 2011

Florida Bound

Merry Christmas!

We are on our way to Florida, as I post. It is SOOO nice to be finished with work and school for THIS YEAR! Yay!

Looking forward to a great trip with our families, some time at the Theme Parks, Christmas celebrations and libations, marbles, shopping and of course, golf.

See you soon, Villagers.
xoxo

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Clean Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Who would have ever thought that cauliflower is so versatile! 

On my day off, I stumbled across this blog post about a cauliflower pizza crust. After a little more "research" I found this post. I was leery (though all the pictures looked delish) until I read ALL of the comments and saw how many people were raving about this crust.
So, Thursday night, I made my version of Clean Cauliflower Pizza Crust.

It surpassed my expectations- and my husbands.

Clean Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Serves 2 (each prepared crust makes about a 10" dough), Prep/Cook time: 35 minutes
149 (plus your toppings!) per serving; 297 calories per one crust
Ingredients:
1 cup organic cauliflower- "riced" (I used a cheese grater and shredded the cauliflower by hand)
1 large brown organic egg
A little less than 1/2 cup (about 6 tablespoons) fresh shredded Parmesan cheese (Whole Foods has it fresh shredded)
1 tsp (plus a little) dried oregano
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp finely chopped fennel
1/2 tsp garlic salt and or other pizza spices
Toppings:
1.5 tablespoons organic / Clean Pizza Sauce (I used an Bertolli Organic- Olive Oil, Basil & Garlic)
4 tablespoons part skim mozzarella cheese (2 oz)
All the fresh veggie toppings you want to add :o)

Remove leaves and stems and rinse cauliflower. Pat dry to remove excess moisture. Cut cauliflower head into fourths.  Grate each fourth with a cheese grater (or a food processor).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place 1 cup riced cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 1-2 minute intervals for 6-8 minutes. Um, this part stinks a little bit- don't get discouraged. The smell when the crust is baking is AMAZING and so is the taste!
Let cool for a few minutes. Cauliflower will dry out and shrink down a little and look like this:
In the mean time, combine cheese and spices in medium bowl. Beat egg in separate bowl. Once cauliflower has cooled, combine cauliflower with cheese and spice mix. Mix will look like this:
Add egg and stir until "dough" is formed. Spritz pizza stone (or baking sheet) with olive oil and spread mixture onto stone with a small silicone (flexible) spatula, like you would use for icing a cake.  I made our crust thin. Each 1 cup mix cauliflower makes one crust that is about 10".
Bake on middle rack at 425 for 8-10 minutes. Remove pizza and turn oven to 450. Use thin spatula and gently loosen crust edges from stone. 
Bake for 3 more minutes on bottom rack at 450 degrees. Remove again turn oven down to 350 degrees. Add sauce and toppings and bake until cheese is melted (about 3-5 more minutes.) Let cool for a couple of minutes, cut with a pizza cutter, plate and ENJOY!
This really is delicious.

I found (by reading all of the comments on the other blog posts) that the most common issue is the pizza crust getting soggy in the middle. 

My adaptation of the recipe incorporated some of the alterations that seemed to help with that issue, as I found the crust to be a good texture. When I held the piece horizontally, the crust and middle third stayed horizontal, the center portion drooped down a little but definitely stayed together. Considering all the toppings, I would expect any thin crust traditional pizza crust to do the same.

Overall, I love this recipe. So much healthier than white flour - yuck!

This version is clean and just a great way to get a few more veggies packed in to a delicious meal.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clean Garlic Mashed Cauliflower & White Beans

Another delicious clean dinner idea for you!

I was inspired to make this healthy alternative to traditional mashed potatoes as a trial in preparation for cooking Christmas dinner while in Florida this year. After deciding with the family that I would plan a clean menu for our Holiday dinner this year, I realized I need to get busy testing out recipes!

First up- my adapted and cleaned up version of Garlic Mashed Potatoes.... Garlic Mashed Cauliflower & White Beans

This recipe has 80 calories per 1 cup serving, compared to regular garlic mashed potatoes, which have upwards of 200 calories per 1 cup serving.

And they are delicious. Steve's comment was "Wow, these are really creamy!"
Garlic Mashed Cauliflower & White Beans
Serves 6, Prep/Cook time: 25 minutes
80 calories per one cup serving (can you believe that?)

Ingredients:
1 medium head organic cauliflower, chopped into smaller pieces
1 can organic cannellini white beans
1/3 cup organic low fat milk
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped chives, dash more for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 4 quart soup pot to medium heat. Add olive oil and garlic to pan. Saute garlic for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Once garlic is browned, remove it from pot and set aside.
Fill pot with water to boil cauliflower. Boil cauliflower for about 10 minutes, until soft.
Rinse beans thoroughly in colander. Place rinsed beans in food processor or blender.
Once softened, drain cauliflower and add to beans in food processor or blender.
Add milk, salt, pepper and chives. Cover food processor or blender and blend until creamy. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vintage Jewelry Display Frames: Part II

So, blogging wasn't the only thing that fell by the way-side during our busy summer.

I had a few projects that piled up as well. One of them being my vintage jewelry frames! Remember those?

Well, this weekend, I finished them and I am so happy with how they turned out.

First, I spray painted the frames white. For the hardware, I picked up some medium screw-in picture frame hooks to hang necklaces and small screw eye pieces with 20 gauge jewelry wire to hang earrings and bracelets. After the frames had completely dried I assembled the display frames.
 
And... tada! Here they are, all dressed up:
  
Before:
After:
 The entire project should have only taken an afternoon, but my project procrastination set me back a few months. No big deal, though, they turned out great- and the whole project cost less than $15.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

Is it weird that I just watched ABC Family's airing of Beauty and the Beast?

The entire thing. I stayed up past my bedtime and sat through the commercials to watch it "real time." I don't even watch The Bachelor like that!

I LOVED this Disney movie growing up. It was my favorite and I just couldn't pass it up.

Sweet and smart Belle- the strange girl in town who loves to read. All day. For pleasure.
Falls in love with a Beast- turned softy, turned hot, rich prince. With a kind heart and giant castle.
Adorable Household-Item-Servants doing what they love most- entertaining, cleaning, defending their castle and adding comedic relief.
Chip and Mrs. Potts. Cute and loveable. Always ready with a hot cup of tea. To help keep you comfy, while you're reading.
What is not to love? Who, in their right mind, wouldn't want to live in that world?
I know I wanted to, from ages 9 through- um, present?!

Such a nice little stroll down memory lane. Now off to sleep, so I can go to work tomorrow.

Back to my grown up life. :o(

Well, it's not tooooo bad. 
I do have my beast (hot pink life jacket) and my prince (sunglasses and handsome smile.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Hunger Games

I love this book series and am SO excited for the movie to come out March 23, 2012!

In preparation, I have re-read all three books for the second time.

They are completely addicting, so each is a quick read. Steve thinks I am crazy for reading them again, but I needed to read for detail this time. The first time through, I felt like I was speed reading, just to find out what happened next- they are that good.
I highly recommend. The trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, consists of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. I purchased the digital copies through the Kindle app for my iPad, but the books are surprisingly inexpensive and would make the perfect stocking stuffer.
Here is the official trailer, release last month.  May the odds be ever in your favor...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Clean Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Another delicious clean meal!  The other night I was in the mood for a wintery, hearty meal. I had seen a butternut squash pasta sauce at the grocery store the other day, and so, I decided to make my own.

The result was perfect! I used whole wheat organic dried gnocchi pasta and the sauce complemented it wonderfully.

Clean Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Serves 4, Prep/Cook time: 20 minutes
254 calories per serving
Ingredients:
5 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash with seeds removed
8 oz of whole wheat gnocchi pasta (or other whole wheat pasta if you prefer)
1/4 cup fresh rosemary
1/4 cup fresh sage
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tablespoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare butternut squash. I peel mine with a veggie peeler, chop off the ends and then cut into cubes. As seen here:
 
Next, add cubed butternut squash, 3/4 cup water, sage and rosemary to a large pan. Heat on medium high heat, covered, for 18-20 minutes, until butternut squash is very soft. Heat large pot of water for boiling pasta, while squash is cooking.
After squash is soft, remove from heat and drain off excess water.  Place squash, spices, garlic and tomatoes in food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain pasta, place in large bowl and top with sauce. Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bella Goes Swimming

Oh Bella, you are so funny with your love of wearing outfits.
(It's true, she actually helps me get clothes on her by putting her legs through the holes- she's a pro at it.)

Although you were not as big of a fan of actually swimming, you sure were cute before, during and after your lessons.  Thank you Mason and Jason for allowing our little crab dog to swim in your pool.
Here she is in action. I love it that she looks like a crab and keeps "swimming" when Steve is holding her out of the water.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Top of the Hops: Beer Festival Summer 2011

We had an amazing time (again!) at the beer festival, Top of the Hops this summer in Charlottesville. We were prepared this time, with our pretzel necklaces, and early arrival to beat the long line to get in. It pays to be a second-timer. :o)

Shortly after we arrived, Courtney met us at the event. After tasting as many beers as we could (and the event ended) we decided to go to the downtown mall for some dinner and more drinks at Siips wine bar. Our friends Melissa and Dave joined us with a few more of their friends. It was a nice group and a really fun evening.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Clean Tilapia with Pomegranate, Avocado, Red Onion, Tomato, Cilantro Salsa over Arugula

Recently, we have been trying to clean up our diet and make fresh and healthy dishes.  It has actually been a fun challenge to cook with new (to us) foods like organic kale, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, fresh cilantro, quinoa and pomegranates.

Surprisingly, the past few times that we have been out to eat, we have both commented how salty the food tasted and that we both felt like we could have made a tastier version at home. Interesting new spin on food for the Ryan's, let me tell you.

Lucky for Steve, he didn't know what an amazing kitchen nazi chef I would become when he married me! So lucky :o)

Here is a recent recipe that was amazing. So colorful and flavorful! And hard to believe that at only 317 calories per serving it was filling. Steve agrees.
Oh and did I mention fast and easy? Danielle agrees.

Tilapia with Pom, Avocado, Red Onion, Tomato, Cilantro Salsa over Arugula
Serves 4, Prep/Cook time: 25 minutes
317 calories per serving

Ingredients:
Tilapia:
4 tilapia loins (I used Costco's pre packaged frozen tilapia loins- 1 serving per person)
Spray olive oil (or drizzle)
Salt and pepper to taste

Salsa:
3/4 cup chopped cherry tomato
2 whole avocado, cut into small sections
1/2 of a fresh pomegranate (seeds removed)
1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup fresh cilantro stems removed and chopped
Dash salt and pepper
Juice from one lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
4 cup arugula

Rinse unopened packages of tilapia under room temperature water. Open and place each package of still frozen tilapia on a sheet of foil, spray with olive oil (or drizzle a little over tilapia) season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Wrap fish in foil to make a pack and place packs in oven at 425 degrees for 15-17 minutes until cooked.

While tilapia is baking, chop, dice and prep the ingredients for the salsa. Combine those ingredients in a medium sized bowl. In small bowl or cruet, mix lime juice, olive oil, rice vinegar and a little bit of finely chopped cilantro. Pour mix over avocado mix and gently stir until coated.

Remove fish packs from oven and drain excess liquid. Plate 1 cup arugula per guest, gently place fish loins on top of arugula and top with the fresh salsa mix. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bella Bean

Our little girl has had an eventful summer/fall, as well. 
She had her teeth cleaned, a suspicious lesion removed from her face (luckily the biopsy showed only inflammatory cells), meeting her new cousin, helping to put up the Christmas tree and (obviously) she's been sleeping a lot. 
 
 
Funny little dog.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Well, hello there!

Hi friends...

I have obviously gotten out of the routine of updating my blog. Time goes by and things happen and then... and then... I forget to write!

There have been a lot of things happening. We have had a wonderful summer filled with travel, family and friend visits, a couple of weddings, beer festivals, golf and a baby! Not ours.... but a brand new niece!

Brooksley Penn Walker was born on August 10, 2011- daughter of Amanda and Christian Walker. She is adorable and we are so happy to be Aunt Danielle and Uncle Steve.  It has been amazing to watch her grow and change over the last nearly four months.  She's doing her signature move, here. The "Finger's in Mouth." Adorable, right?

Sorry for the hiatus, it's hard to keep up sometimes!

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