Sunday, September 30, 2012

in the kitchen: no-noodle lasagna

well hello there! Sorry for the radio silence these past few days-the end of the week and then the weekend just got away from me and here we are, already back at Monday. 
Let's start the week out right and make some good eats! I was able to try out a recipe that I saw on Say Yes to Hoboken for a Zucchini  lasagna that I knew I would have to try out. I love traditional lasagna and have also tried out different kinds like this AHmazing butternut squash version, but this was my first time ditching the noodles entirely for a 100% veggie lasagna. I pretty much followed the original recipe, but we happened to have some egg plant from the farmer's market, so we decided to add that in as well...definitely made the dish! If you are looking for a pretty simple Monday night meal, I would suggest giving this one a go...fresh, healthy and deelicious leftovers! 

No-noodle Lasagna adapted from Say Yes to Hoboken

3-4 zucchinis, sliced lengthwise about 1/4-inch thick or less
1 medium eggplant, sliced lengthwise same as the zucchini
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (we used a spicy mushroom red sauce)
fresh spinach, roughly chopped
16oz. container of cottage cheese
2-3 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
about 1/2 tsp dried basil
ground pepper

-Mix together cottage cheese, egg, basil and pepper. 
-Slice zucchini and eggplant about 1/4-inch thick or less. 
-Cover bottom of glass baking dish with sauce, and then layer the following: zucchini, spinach, sauce, cottage cheese mixture, mozzarella. Repeat, using the eggplant for one layer in the middle (or use it for every other layer-whatever you are in the mood for!)
-Top with fresh parm, sprinkle with dried basil. 
-Cover with foil and bake at 350-degrees for 1 hour, removing foil for the last 15 minutes of baking.

*Note: the zucchini and the eggplant definitely create a lot of moisture in the dish, so try not to fill your layers all the way to the top. It's also helpful to salt the zucchini & eggplant to help take out some of the moisture before putting the dish all together! Either way, make sure you let it sit for a few minutes before digging in! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

oktoberfest fun

celebrating our German heritage is always a good idea :)
We had a lot of fun listening (and dancing) to the polka music, playing cards and eating tasty German fare! As far as my own German heritage goes, I've been told that my grandmother's maiden name, Bocker, means "beer maker" which is pretty great!

Hope your weekend was fun & the week has started off well...Provst!

Friday, September 21, 2012

happy international peace day!

I must have missed the memo or maybe there wasn't ever a lot going on where I was, but since 2001 September 21st has been declared International Peace Day! While there wasn't anything notable going on in my world to thoughtfully celebrate this day, organizations like peaceoneday have been on top of their game, promoting activities that "contribute towards building world peace, and development and aid" throughout the globe.
There is one particular program that they have partnered with that I think is just an awesome and really interesting idea and it's called Recipeace. Recipeace takes on the same task of promoting world peace BUT they incorporate the power of food and sharing meals with one another as one way peace can be accomplished. 
World peace...bringing people can't go wrong, right?!

Along with promoting local restaurants, specifically in the Chicago area, they also share "Peace Stories" explaining personal and historical moments of people coming together over food AND they share some of those recipes-one of my favorite parts :) So take a look at this sweet treat and in the midst of so much violence & chaos that defines too many people's daily lives, take a minute-whether it's sharing a meal or just a walk, to be a little more kind to others and spread peace in your own little corner of the world...

German Chocolate Bombs
visit for the accompanying story and visuals! 

  • 1 14 oz package of caramel
  • 1 package German chocolate cake mix
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use butter or cooking spray to grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch pan.
Melt caramel with 1/3 cup of the sweetened condensed milk.
Combine cake mix with melted butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk in a separate bowl. Stir until smooth.
Spread 1/2 of the cake mix mixture evenly in the pan. Bake 6-8 minutes.
Remove from oven. Cover with caramel, chocolate chips, and coconut & walnuts (if using). Add remaining cake mix on top. Bake 10 additional minutes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

a must read!

If you are looking for a book to read and possibly a good cry, then I recommend picking up John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars."

I had been warned that the story was sad, but I was surprised with how much & how quickly I got attached to the characters (Hazel & Augustus). There is just something kind of profound about their story, but I don't want to go into too much detail-I'd probably end up giving something away! So if you haven't already read it, go get a copy today!

One of my favorite quotes:
"For some reason I decided to feel really hopeful...I felt that feeling of excitement & gratitude about just being able to marvel at it all."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

in the kitchen: cioppino

A little later than I intended, but as promised here is the recipe that I would love to make for my friends the next time I visit Chicago! It is a tradition in my family to make this stew as a part of our Christmas Eve dinner, along with my mom's homemade French bread (I'll share that one soon!) and usually one other soup. 

So what exactly is Cioppino you say? Cioppino is considered an Italian-American dish, first made in good ol' San Francisco and was traditionally made with whatever was the "catch-of-the-day" i.e. clams, crabs, mussels, shrimp, scallops, etc. They would take the seafood and use fresh tomatoes and white wine as the broth. Eventually it became popular at local Italian restaurants as they spread throughout the city. 
There are lots of different types of seafood you can include depending on your preference, but here is the way my family has been making it for as long as I can remember! According to my parents it was actually part of one of my Aunt's traditions to serve seven fishes on Christmas Eve! 

Ciopinno (Seafood Stew)
serves 5-6 with a small chance of leftovers!

- 1/4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 4 tsp dry oregano
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 2 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
- 1 bottle clam juice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 cans chopped clams
- 1 1/2 lbs large fresh shrimp (peeled & deveined)
- 1 6oz. can of crabmeat
- 1/2 cup basil
-2 punches cayenne pepper

1. Heat olive oil in large, heavy pot until it is ready to smoke.
2. Add onion, fennel seeds. Saute for 5 minutes and then add crushed garlic, cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes, white wine, clam juice and increase heat to a gentle boil for about 15 minutes. The stew should begin to thicken. 
4. Add seafood. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
5. Mix in basil and cook for 2 more minutes; add cayenne pepper to taste.

Serve with fresh bread (french/sourdough)...enjoy! 

(belated) weekend recap

somehow I didn't manage to take many pictures this past weekend while I was in Chicago. I'll chalk it up to just living in the moment & not behind a camera/iPhone :)
I can't wait til the next visit AND I'm already planning in a special meal I want to share with my friends (can't always go out to eat). I'll share with you later-until then, a few shots I managed to capture (thanks to Jules for the 2nd to last one!)....

Friday, September 14, 2012

Making my way to the windy city!

I'm coming at ya live from the Amtrak on my way to Chicago!
One of the things I had been looking forward to with our move to Milwaukee was the much easier AND faster way of getting to Chicago to see my good friends from college! No more airport shuttles-light rail-airplane traveling, just a quick an hour and a half and, viola! I'm in the Windy City!
Since it's still feeling like summer here, I'm hoping to take advantage and just be out and about, exploring one of my favorite cities! Have you ever been to Chicago? Any favorite spots? Can't wait to a pay a visit to some of mine!

Almost time to head off this train & have some fun...have a beautiful weekend :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

in the kitchen: fall inspired breakfast oats

Apparently fall is here. Not so much in Milwaukee (today it was 85 degrees), but I hear it's starting to show signs elsewhere and that is enough for me to hop right on the bandwagon with everyone else and start consuming all things fall related. 

Exhibit A: Pumpkin Overnight Oats brought to you by Skinny Taste.

This showed up in my inbox the other morning and I knew that I would have to add it to my ever-growing list of tasty treats to make AND the fact that this is pretty healthy for you is an added plus :) So if you are looking for a pumpkin fix and already have had a dozen pumpkin lattes from Starbucks,  join me in trying this one out! 

Skinny Pumpkin Overnight Oats via Skinny Taste
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin butter
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 sliced banana
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 tbsp raw hulled pepitas (or any nut...I would vote pecans!)

Combine the oats and 1/2 cup of the milk in a jar. Stir in the pumpkin butter, chia seeds and spices. Add banana, cover jar, shake and refrigerate overnight. 
The next morning remove from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter 30 minutes to take out the chill (or you can microwave a few seconds if you wish). Stir in the remaining milk, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and pumpkin spice and top with pepitas

you got moves!

Have any of you been watching or ever have watched So You Think You Can Dance?? 

My mom and my sister totally got me hooked on this show a few years ago and each season I am blown away by the amazingly talented and unique dancers that are on it. Last night I was catching up on last week's episode and there was one routine that I couldn't resist sharing with you...I dare you to not smile the whole time and just get plain excited! So check out this season's Cyrus and all-star Comfort perform a kick-butt dub step routine....

Pretty awesome, right?! I still have the finale to check out, so lips sealed if you know who the winners are! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

have a great weekend!

These past few weekends have been jam-packed & this weekend is proving to be the same!
I am en route to the Twin Cities for a mini-reunion with some of our Duluth "family" (Hannah you will be missed!) and for some other fun too:
-Twins game
-Brewfest with a show from Doomtree!
-checking out our friend's new house (when did we all become adults?!)
-quality time with some of my favorites!
-exploring good ol' Minneapolis

Looks like its going to be another great weekend...hope you & yours have some fun activities planned too!

in the kitchen: roasted beet & carrot salad

Beets. I can't honestly say that I have always loved these veggies, but in my "adult life" their earthiness and interesting flavor, especially when roasted! So when my cousin shared how much she enjoyed this salad, I knew I needed to add it to my cooking "to do" list ASAP! Lucky for me, my parents get a farmer's market basket each week and their is usually a beet in there, so I might even be able to use something right off the farm. How do you feel about veggies of the beet variety? Tasty? Not so tasty? Worth giving another try? 

If you're willing to try them out, I think this roasted beet and carrot salad (with goat cheese dressing!!!) just might win you over!

  • 1 1/2 pounds golden beets with tops
  • 1 1/2 pounds red beets with tops
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 ounce soft goat cheese, crumbled
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Peel the beets and cut them into 1-inch wedges. Discard the tough stems from the beet tops and coarsely chop the leaves
2. In a bowl, toss the golden beets with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and 2 garlic clove halves and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in one-third of a large ovenproof skillet. Repeat with the red beets and then the carrots, using 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 2 garlic halves for each vegetable. Set the skillet over high heat and cook without stirring until sizzling. Cover the skillet and roast in the oven for about 35 minutes, until tender. Transfer the vegetables to a platter
3. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and half of the shallot. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in the goat cheese
4. In the skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the remaining shallot and cook over moderately high heat until softened, about 1 minute. Add the chopped beet greens and cook until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper 
5.Add half of the goat cheese dressing to the beet greens and toss. Add the roasted vegetables and toss once or twice. Transfer the salad to a platter and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Serve right away.

*Note: recipe author, Grace Parisi says you can prepare the roasted veggies up to three days in advance-just reheat veggies when preparing the salad! Check out more recipes from her here!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

the conversation: zoe saldana

So much truth is in this brief snippit of Zoe Saldana on The Conversation with Amanda de Cadanet about the gender divide that exists in her career....and let's face it, a majority of women's careers.

I recommend also taking a peek at The Conversation's website for more interviews and to learn more about this project. Amanda de Cadanet clearly believes in the power of the conversation as a foundation for how we learn about others " we learn, grow and inform ourselves with information to take the next step forward..." This project specifically brings the focus to conversations about what it means to be a woman in 2012 and provides an array of different view points to consider. I'm looking forward to catching up on some of the other videos I have yet to see! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

labor day weekend

sunshine, the lake, family, birthday celebrations, and even fireworks...all in all, a pretty solid weekend!