September 1, 2014

I trust you are all enjoying this long Labor Day weekend in style. In my neck of the woods, it just happens to be a regular Monday in my routine. Poor Justin: he does not happen to be one of those people who have Labor Day off from work. So sad, I say! Anyway, in honor of a relaxing holiday, I thought it would be a good idea to share an easy and fun grilled pizza with spinach and bacon today.

Grilled pizza with spinach and bacon

Grilled pizza: yep – I’m still a big fan. We definitely end up creating homemade pizzas on the grill a few times a month. I don’t think you can blame us though – there is something so wonderful about pizza. I am pretty sure it is one of those dishes I could eat every day and never get sick of it. From the toppings to the dough, you can do so many different things. I keep saying I’m going to make my own pizza dough at some point, but when Publix makes such a yummy dough I just can’t help myself and end up buying it from the store. Their “plain” dough is awesome, but I’ve been having a ton of fun with their other options – they have a whole wheat dough, a 5 grain Italian, and even a sourdough option. Trouble. I’m trying them all one at a time.

Grilled pizza with spinach and bacon

When it came to putting this pizza together, my suggestion was to make a spinach and artichoke pie. Justin wasn’t having it – his portion of the pizza needed meat, he said. So, instead of a veggie portion for him, he picked up some bacon to fry up and crumble on top. The end result got a big thumbs up from the husband. I’m sure this ingredient combo will be seen again on our table. Or maybe not for a little while, since experimenting with new pizza toppings is oh so fun. But you get what I mean!

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend

We paired this pizza with a bottle of 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend, which is a blend of predominantly Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The flavors of cherry, ripe berries, and stone fruits made it an all around approachable choice; it was a nice complement to our dinner. Pizza and red wine – a match made in heaven, wouldn’t you say?

Grilled pizza with spinach and bacon

Grilled pizza with spinach and bacon

Ingredients

  • Pizza dough
  • 5-6 tbsp marinara or pizza sauce
  • 6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (more if desired)
  • 1 bag (9 ounces) fresh spinach leaves
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat grill to around 500° F. As the grill is heating up, heat a skillet over medium. Add the fresh spinach leaves and allow them to wilt, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. When the leaves have wilted, remove from heat and drain the leaves on a paper towel. When the leaves have cooled, wring them through another towel to remove any excess moisture. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, stretch/roll the pizza dough to about 1/4 inch thick. I like to roll my dough with a sprinkle of cornmeal on the working surface! Place on a baking sheet or other surface to transfer to the grill.
  3. When the pizza dough is rolled out, carefully slide it directly on to the grill grates (you can spray the grates with a bit of nonstick cooking spray if desired). Close the grill lid and let the dough cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the bottom of the crust is golden and some char lines can be seen.
  4. Transfer the crust back to your baking sheet, but flip the pizza crust so the bottom that was touching the grates is now facing up.
  5. On the turned over pizza crust, lightly spread the marinara sauce then top with the sliced mozzarella and spinach leaves. Sprinkle the cooked chopped bacon on top. When this is complete, transfer the pizza back on to the grill. Close the grill lid and cook for an additional 4 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden.
  6. Remove cooked pizza from the grill and on to a baking sheet. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, slice into pieces, and enjoy!
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August 29, 2014

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you are all gearing up for some fun for this long Labor Day weekend. Although I have to admit: our household isn’t getting a long weekend. Justin has to work on Labor Day – bummer! However, we’re still going to attempt to relax and enjoy the weekend anyway! But first, one of the tasks will probably be tending to our garden – I’ve let the weeds grow in a bit in my attempt to stay inside and out of the really hot weather. Now I’m going to pay for it. On a good note: our garden has been doing very well despite the heat of summer. We’ve been protecting the garden with a shade/screen that Justin constructed! What a crafty guy I’ve got…

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

Last year, we noticed that our plants could not handle the combination of heat, direct sunlight, and rain that we get here in Florida during the summer months. The spot our garden is in is GREAT during the fall, winter, and spring, but summer is a bit of a problem. Justin pondered it for a while; I could tell he was kind of sad that our garden was sitting there, vacant, for a month or so after our spring vegetables were pulled up in the early summer. I can tell when he gets an idea: he begins doing research online, he draws out diagrams, he is ON it. It’s best to let him just go with the idea when he has it, because once he sets his mind on a project, he intends to complete it.

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

Justin decided we should construct a shade/screen to protect the garden – it would diffuse the direct sunlight so the plants wouldn’t burn and would also prevent the rain from soaking the plants constantly so we can control the amount they are getting. Seemed pretty brilliant to me. So, he ventured to the store and came back with PVC pipe, a roll of plastic sheeting, and some rope. He measured our garden area and got cutting – he created a frame with the PVC pipe, along with support legs to prop it up.

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

The trickiest part was creating the screen. I was actually quite impressed when he figured out on his own that he could use our iron for this project. To attach the plastic sheeting to the frame, he wanted to create pockets/loops to slide the pipes through. We set our iron on medium heat, then looped the plastic sheeting around the PVC pipe to create the perfect sized “loop.” We placed parchment paper down on top of the plastic sheeting (so it wouldn’t melt onto the iron itself), and carefully ran the iron up and down the length of the sheeting/pipe. Justin also made a few extra small loops to make sure the plastic sheeting was secure in the middle of the structure as well as on the ends (so it wouldn’t flap up/balloon when wind hits it).

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

After the legs were attached, we stuck our structure over the garden and added a bit of extra security by tying rope around some points and securing them to our garden fence. We set the shade on an angle (angled down at the front edge of our garden) so rain water would run down and off onto the ground in front of the garden instead of pooling inside of our screen and weighing it down. Overall, I think it turned out pretty great!

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

The proof of our screen/shade’s success is now showing in the garden: the tomatoes and zucchini that would now be either drowned by the rain or burned by excessive sun are now thriving. Hooray for handy husbands, right?

Do you have plans to be productive around the house during Labor Day, or will you be taking advantage of extra relaxation time?

August 28, 2014

It’s been a while since I posted a style roundup of sorts. But I’m back today. I’ve mentioned before that because I am working from home now, my fashion budget is going a bit more toward my loungewear and activewear. I had a bit of a collection of outfits I would wear to the gym, but they don’t all translate to working out at my Pure Barre classes. So, I’ve been beefing up that part of my wardrobe with a few new items. Today, I’m rounding up a collection of items to give you a bit of barre beauty.

I’ve pretty much landed on the styles I prefer to wear during barre classes – I’m a sucker for a pair of long tights with a tunic/blousy tank. It’s even better if that tank happens to have a built in bra involved. I really like when the long tights are able to be pulled over my heels – it keeps my socks from being pulled off during parts of class. As for the tanks – I just can’t seem to wear sleeves when I am working out, and the blousy tops seem to give me a bit of air.

So now I’m building up my collection of tanks, interesting sports bras, and long leggings. And I have oh so many options for you to choose from today if you happen to be in the market for something new as well. Which to choose…which to choose?!?!

Barre Beauty tops

1. Cage Back Bra – Free People // 2. Fishnet Racer Back Bra – Free People //

3. All In One Tank – Free People // 4. Movement Bra Top – Free People //

5. Kyodan Colorblock Mesh Long Bra – T.J. Maxx //

6. Kyodan Open Back Long Bra – T.J. Maxx // 7. Kyodan Double Strap Long Bra – T.J. Maxx

Barre Beauty tops

8. Move by Alternative Be Graceful Tank Top – Urban Outfitters //

9. Purusha People Wrap Top – Urban Outfitters // 10. Alo Cascade Tank Top – Urban Outfitters

11. ‘Easy Over’ Stripe Racerback Tank – Nordstrom // 12. Dolman tee – Victoria’s Secret //

13. ‘Step It Up’ Tank – Free People // 14. ‘Hot’ Shelf Bra Tank – Nordstrom

Barre Beauty tops 15. Hidden Agenda Tank – Athleta // 16. Criss Cross Tunic – Athleta //

17. Odyssey Cami – Athleta // 18. Active Shelf Bra Tank – Old Navy //

19. Active Double Layer Mesh Tank – Old Navy

Barre Beauty tops

20. C9 by Champion Women’s Yoga Tank – Target // 21. Nevaeh Top – Athleta //

22. Alo Splice Tank – Zappos // 23. Kyodan Mesh Overlay Striped Long Bra – T.J. Maxx

Barre Beauty leggings 24. Printed Sport Tights – Victoria’s Secret // 25. Active Compression Leggings – Old Navy //

26. Metro High Waisted Legging – Athleta //

27. Pure Good Compression Boot Cut Leggings – Anthropologie //

28. Knockout Stirrup Tight – Victoria’s Secret //

29. Avert Performance Legging – Nordstrom Rack // 30. Shimmer tight – Athleta //

31. Beyond Yoga Ruched Legging – Nordstrom Rack //

Barre Beauty leggings

32. Zella ‘Work It’ Skirted Legging – Nordstrom //

33. Alo ‘Goddess’ Ribbed Leggings (I have these and LOVE them) – Nordstrom //

34. Beyond Yoga Lattice Trim Long Legging – Nordstrom //

35. Beyond Yoga High Waist Essential Long Legging – Zappos //

36. Beyond Yoga Stripe Essential Long Legging – Zappos //

37. Beyond Yoga Lattice Trim Long Legging – Zappos

Barre Beauty leggings

38. Pure Good Ruched Floral Leggings – Anthropologie //

39. Alo Volcano Lightning Goddess Ribbed Legging – Urban Outfitters //

40. Salt Gypsy Striped Pineapple Surf Legging – Urban Outfitters //

41. Nesh NYC Lace Up Legging – Urban Outfitters

 

August 26, 2014

Soooooooooo raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself a wee bit fixated on using a particular ingredient/dish in your kitchen. Is your hand raised? Because both of mine are. It’s funny: I have this strange tendency to latch on to an ingredient or dish and then find a bunch of different ways to prepare it. For a while it was everything caprese: simple caprese salad, caprese kabobs, caprese sandwich, a caprese style pizza. This past week or so it’s been all about the crazy good slaw I created and posted about on Sunday. Those deconstructed egg rolls were so tasty, I decided I needed to create another variation…which is how these baked vegetable egg rolls came to fruition.

baked vegetable egg rolls

It’s all so simple really. The ingredients are exactly the same. The process of making them is just slightly different. You could make a batch of these all on their own, or if you’re like me and have just a few scoops of slaw leftover from making the deconstructed egg rolls, you can simply wrap it up and bake them for a different taste experience without breaking out anything extra! Score.

baked vegetable egg rolls

I have to admit: I was a bit worried that the egg rolls themselves would come out of the oven and not be crispy. A fried egg roll is always a delicious treat, but it isn’t something I want to have on the menu regularly. I was so pleased to see that with a mist of olive oil cooking spray (or a brush of olive oil on the wrappers) and a high temperature on the oven, I was able to get the egg roll wrappers to crisp up and turn a golden brown color for me. You still get the satisfying crunch like you do with the fried version, but the reduced guilt is a very nice touch.

And now…I am officially obsessed with everything egg roll related. I’m dreaming of all the different variations I can create, from savory to sweet. Oh man. Which variety should I whip up next????

baked vegetable egg rolls

Baked Vegetable Egg Rolls

Ingredients

    For the egg rolls:
  • 10 - 15 egg roll wrappers
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use olive oil mayo)
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
  • For the slaw:
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (or coleslaw mix)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl until incorporated. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
  3. Next, add all of the ingredients for the slaw into a large bowl. Drizzle with prepared dressing and toss to coat fully.
  4. Putting it together:
  5. Set a small dish/ramekin filled with water near your working surface. Place an egg roll wrapper down on a cutting board/working surface with one of the points facing you. Scoop about 1/2 cup of the dressed slaw toward the middle of the wrapper. Use a pastry brush or your fingers to add a light amount of water around the outside edges of the egg roll wrapper.
  6. Next, fold the point facing you up and over the top of the slaw filling. Fold the two side points in toward the center as well, sealing up the sides. Then, continue rolling until the final point has sealed up on to the side.
  7. Place the roll seam side down on a baking sheet.
  8. Repeat the rolling process with the rest of the egg roll wrappers and filling.
  9. Gently spray the egg rolls with olive oil cooking spray (or use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer of olive oil to the wrappers) then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  10. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until wrappers have turned golden brown and crispy.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
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