Tuesday, July 28, 2015

4 Cheese Baked Pasta - Lightened Up

Last night, Bri and I met up with some friends for dinner and trivia.  I had never done trivia before and I was pretty pumped.  We were terrible!  However, the restaurant/bar was great and we had a ton of fun.  I will def be trying this out again.  I feel like if I continue to go to trivia, I should learn more and more so that I can be better at trivia...right?  

I wanted to share this recipe today because it just felt like an easy, pasta sort of day.  You know what I mean?  This is the kind of dish that I make ahead of time on a Saturday or Sunday and then eat the leftovers for like the whole week.  It was super yummy and those BBQ chips on top were one of my finer ideas.  You can also vary this dish greatly.  Try out different types of cheese, different toppings, different pasta! 

Four Cheese Baked Pasta

(adapted from How Sweet It Is)

1 lb. whole wheat pasta
1/2 tsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
1 shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups skim milk
1/3 cup marscapone
5 oz gruyere, shredded
8 oz light mozzarella, shredded
8 oz sharp white cheddar, shredded
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
BBQ chips

1. Make pasta according to directions, but drain 2-3 minutes before al dente.
2. In a large, oven-proof skillet, heat over medium.  Once hot, add in olive oil and butter.  Once butter has melted, add in the shallot and cook for 1 minute.  Then add in garlic and let cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk constantly for about 2 minutes.  Pour in the milk while continuing to whisk and let cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Stir in the marscapone until well combined and then add in most of the cheese.  Save about 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese.  Stir until melted.  Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
3. Preheat oven to 375.  Pour the drained pasta into the cheese skillet and toss until coated.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.  Crush the BBQ chips over the top of the pasta and let bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy :)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Marathon Training Monday

So this Saturday was a 12 mile run followed by an amazing breakfast at Whole Foods with my some people from my running group.  It was one of the most fun runs I've had in a while.  Now, for all you people out there who think I am crazy to run 12 miles, I sort of agree with you.  I mean, I just said I had fun running 12 miles.  But, the crazy thing is I totally did and it is mostly because I run with a group.  I love meeting new people and we all run at a pace where we are comfortable talking so it ends up being super social.  This was the first time I went to the breakfast after and that made the whole experience even more fun!

I felt great after the 12 miles and I think that was due to the fact that I didn't complete all the mileage during the week before.  Because of the half marathon I ran last weekend, I decided to "taper" the runs during the week so that I would feel better by the weekend.  It worked!

This week the mileage is 3, 6, 3, 13.  My goal is to complete all the miles.

In other running news, I am considering getting one of those cool Garmin watches.  Does anyone have any advice when it comes to running watches?  I can't decide if it is worth spending the money on! I really like this guy:

Also, I am almost at my goal of $1,500 for my charity, Have Dreams.  To learn more about this amazing charity please check out my page: Jodie B Team Have Dreams. It is a great organization and if you know anyone who might be interested in donating please share!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

BBQ Onion and Gouda Quesadilla

My birthday celebration was a ton of fun and it was yet another reminder of all the amazing people in my life.  I couldn't be more grateful.  Dinner at RPM Italian didn't disappoint.  They brought us a complimentary Prosecco Toast to celebrate Bri's and my engagement, dinner was fantastic, and then they also brought out complimentary gelato to celebrate my birthday.  OH! And, we also so Coach Quenneville from the Chicago Blackhawks eating dinner with his family! It was so cool!

So now it's back to the daily grind.  Last night when I got home, I wanted to make something for dinner, but I didn't want to spend a ton of time on it.  I stopped by the grocery store and they happened to have samples of this spicy 3 Pepper Gouda.  It was creamy with just a bit of a kick and it was super good.  I had also recently seen a recipe for a quesadilla with bbq onions in it so I figured I would combine these two.  I also used these great "healthy" veggie quesadillas.  Put together, this was one amazing quesadilla that is good for you too!

BBQ Onion and Gouda Quesadilla
(makes 4)

1/2 onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp bbq sauce
1/3-1/2 lb of gouda cheese
4 quesadilla tortillas

1. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium and add the sliced onions.  Cook until onions soften and start to brown.  This will take a bit of time and you should toss the onions frequently.  Season with salt and pepper and add in the bbq sauce.  Toss to combine.  Turn off heat.
2. Shred the gouda cheese into a bowl and set aside.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Place tortilla in the skillet and sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese over 1/2 of the tortilla.  Top with 1/4 of the onions.  Use a spatula to flip the other half of the tortilla on top and then cook until both sides brown a bit and cheese melts.  Repeat with the rest.

I had mine with some veggies and a wheatberry salad on the side.  Is that healthy or what???

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Red Velvet Cookie Dough and Brownie Parfait

It's my birthday! I decided to share this treat today because it is one of my favorite treats that I have made! But first, let me tell you all about the fun birthday events I have been up to!

First, on Saturday, my family and Bri went to dinner at Due Lire.  I had the Tortelli and it was quite delicious.  Then, on Sunday, I ran the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon and afterwards, went to lunch at D4.  Yesterday, Bri and I went for a little picnic for dinner in the park and now today is the big day!  Today, my family is coming downtown and we have reservations at RPM Italian.  I have never been, but I have heard phenomenal things.  I am pretty excited.  I also baked some of my famous Inception Cookies to bring to my staff at camp today.  I sorta feel like I'm in elementary school again; I'm bringing treats for my class :)

So this dessert basically combines all of my favorite things.  It has brownies, red velvet cookie dough dip, and homemade whipped cream.  I LOVE whipping cream.  I think it is just so cool,  Plus the brownies were the beer brownies that Bri and I made with spent grain from brewing.  This dessert was just outrageously delicious.  

Red Velvet Cookie Dough and Brownie Parfait

(this fills one large mason jar)
2-3 brownies (I used my Beer Brownies)
Red Velvet Cookie Dough Dip:
8 oz low-fat cream cheese
1 cup non-fat, greek yogurt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2-3 tsp red food coloring
Whipped Cream:
4 oz low-fat cream cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

1. Bake the brownies or use your favorite store bought brand.
2. Make the red velvet cookie dough dip: In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese with the greek yogurt.  Beat in both sugars until well combined and then add in the cocoa powder and red food color.  Mix until well combined.
3. Make the whipped cream: In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar.  Add in the cream and beat on high until peaks begin to form.  Continue to beat until you have stiff peaks.  
4. Use a mason jar or other container to layer your dessert.  Start with some crumbled brownies, then red velvet dip, and then whipped cream and repeat. 
Enjoy :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Marathon Training Monday: Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran the Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.  It was probably the worst race I have ever run.  It was incredibly hot and humid and that is why I am incredibly proud of finishing in 2 hours and 17 minutes with a 10:29 pace.  I can't believe I did that considering how awful I felt for a lot of the race.

Working a half marathon into your marathon training is a great way to stay motivated and stay excited.  Races are so much fun!  While this one was hot, it was still fun to run with friends and get all the cool race gear including a new medal to add to my collection!

FIVE of my friends up there ran their first half and I was so proud of them and excited for them.  The race was a really difficult one.  Miles 1-4 weren't so bad and we were in the shade.  However, the humidity made it a really high effort portion.  By mike 5 I was tired and I was worried.  There is nothing worse than thinking you might not finish.  I did my best to power through and distract myself.  Miles 5-10 were just really difficult and the sun started to come out.  I needed to take a little breather.  So, I walked for a few minutes.  Then, from 10-13 there was music and I knew I was close enough that I could do it and I found new strength and motivation. It also helped that someone threw a cold and wet sponge at me! Finishing felt amazing and after some chocolate milk and lots of water. I felt great.

This week, the mileage for training is 3, 6, 3, and 12.  I am going to give myself a break by skipping the 6 and running 4 and 4.  Then, I'll be ready for 12 miles on Saturday!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Happy Saturday everyone! Today is one of my besties birthdays so I gotta give her a shout-out: Happy Birthday Tamara! Tamara, is also one amazing chef and we became really good friends after discovering our mutual love and appreciation for cupcakes :).  She is pretty awesome and she is one of my bridesmaids!  I hope you have a great day, Tamara!

Today is also pretty exciting in that I am picking up my race day swag for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  I am going to be running that tomorrow and I am keeping my fingers crossed for a cool morning and no thunderstorms...Even though the weather is pretty awful right now, I am still very excited!  

Today, Bri and I are also going to see the new movie, Trainwreck.  After that is when we are gonna head over to the half marathon expo, and then we have to scurry back to get ready for dinner at Due Lire with my parents.  My birthday is coming up, so we are starting the celebration tonight with dinner.  I have never been to this restaurant, but I have heard amazing things and I will for sure report back.  

I figured that today was a great day to share this Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake.  I made this a while back, but I was in a coffee cake mood this morning.  I mean, it's Saturday, I'm running 13.1 miles tomorrow, and my birthday is this week.  Is there a better way to celebrate than with a good, ol' coffee cake? 

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

(adapted from Barbara Bakes)
Note: Please go check out her blog for some amazing photos and the recipe.  I changed a few things, so I will tell you about that, but she did a really lovely job with the dough and has some amazing photos of it! 

2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 package of yeast (I used regular as opposed to quick rise)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 eggs
Apple Filling
4 large apples (I used Granny Smith)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp unsalted butter
Streusel Topping
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp skim milk

1. In a large bowl, beat 1 cup flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and cinnamon.
2. Place butter and milk into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute.  Add warm milk to the flour mixture and mix until combined.
3. Lightly flour a clean surface and remove dough from the bowl to knead.  Knead for about 8-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.  Place into a lightly greased bowl and place bowl in a warm location.  I turn on my oven to 100 degrees and then leave the bowl in there with the door open.  Let the dough rise until doubled in size.  This took a little over 1 hour.
4. While the dough is rising, peel and chop apples.  Place apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice in a bowl and toss to combine.  Pour mixture into a pan and add the butter.  Saute the mixture for about 10 minutes so that the apples start to soften.  Let cool.
5. To make the streusel topping, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.  Add the melted butter and combine until your mixture forms small clumps.  Set aside.
6. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans.  Place parchment paper in the bottoms of the pans and generously spray with non-stick spray.
7. Once the dough is ready, divide in half.  Take one half and divide that into two pieces.  One piece should be about 2/3 of the dough and the other should be about 1/3 of the dough.  Take the large piece and roll it out so that it fits into the bottom of a cake pan.  With the small piece, roll it out so that it looks like a long rope.  Use this to wrap around the edge of the pan.  You are basically creating a wall to go around the bottom of the pan.  Repeat this with the other half of the dough for the second pan.
8.  Divide the apple filling into each of the pans and then sprinkle the streusel over the tops.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.  This took about 1 hour.
9.  Preheat the oven to 350 and once the cakes are ready, bake for about 20 minutes.
10.  When you are ready to serve, mix the powdered sugar with the milk to create your icing and drizzle over the tops of the cakes.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One Pot Caprese Pasta

Today I have a pretty crazy day, but I still wanted to make sure that I shared this amazing recipe with everyone!  I have to go to high school, then to camp, then back to the city for my zumba class.  I think it's going to be slightly hectic, but that's ok!  I have 3 different outfits in my backpack right now...typical?  

I am a big Caprese Pasta fan.  I am also a big "one-pot" recipe fan.  This pasta was so easy and so delicious it will definitely become a staple for our home.  All you do is throw all the ingredients into a pot and then you are done! I love this recipe and I would even add some balsamic to drizzle over the top in the future. 

I recently made another Caprese Pasta Salad recipe that I found on pinterest.  It was not a one-pot deal, but it came out really good so you all should try it!  Here is the recipe!

Ok so back to the one-pot recipe.  Here is what I did:

One Pot Caprese Pasta

16 oz whole wheat pasta
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup basil, chopped
3 cups water
1 cup vegetable stock
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded 
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1. In a large pot, place pasta, tomatoes, basil, water, vegetable stock. and garlic.  Season with the salt and pepper.
2. Bring the mixture to boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Let simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is done. 
3. Stir in the mozzarella and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Enjoy :)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Marathon Training Monday

Woah it is humid out there.  If you are ever training for a run or simply running in the summertime, watch out for the humidity.  I always thought it was crazy that it could be 80 degrees, but feel great because the humidity is low and then it could be 60 degrees, but feel horrible in high humidity.  They say you are not supposed to lose more than a couple pounds of water weight when you run.  So, if you notice you are sweating up a storm (like I was this morning), make sure you drink lots of water to replenish.

I guess this awful humidity and heat at 5 in the morning is a sign of a rainy day to come.  This summer has been so weird!  First, it was COLD.  Like no more than 60 degrees on a Chicago summer day.  Now, it is stormy.  Basically, my training runs have been a bit of a roller coaster and I never know what to wear.  Also, camp has been weird because of the weather.  I hope that we get a few weeks down the road of just true Chicago summer!

This week's mileage is 3, 5, 3, 7.  It is a taper week! However, I signed up to run the Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  So, instead of 7, I will be running 13.1.  Because I am missing out on the taper run and it is important to have those so that your body can recover, I am going to skip one of the longer mid-week runs next week.  That way, I can get a little more rest in.  I can't wait to tell you about my half marathon next week! Also, don't forget to check out my Marathon Webpage!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Roasted Summer Squash

Is it summer?  Because this is Chicago and it's 60 degrees! What is that about?  Yesterday, I went to a water park with one of my camps and it was only 65!  The kids, of course, still loved it and the water was warm, but it just felt weird.  I mean, I was standing at a water park in a sweatshirt...

Anyways, at least I can celebrate summer with food!  The Taste of Chicago has arrived so that is a HUGE food event that is currently happening.  Plus, I made this Summer Squash dish in honor of the "season."  

This squash dish is incredibly simple and you can even incorporate other veggies if you want.  Here's the gist: Place a bunch of veggies in an oven-safe dish.  Sprinkle some salt, and pepper over the top.  Then, sprinkle breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.  You can use other veggies, you can use other types of cheese, you can even use something other than breadcrumbs.  I am going to try this out with BBQ potato chips for a different kind of flavor!  Have fun with it! 

Roasted Summer Squash

2 yellow squash, sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Placed sliced veggies in a 9 inch cake pan
3. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top and then sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
4. Drizzle olive oil over the top and then cover with foil.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes or until your breadcrumbs start to brown a little.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Baked Spinach Pesto Avocado with an Egg

So, I took a little vacation for the 4th because I was so busy! But, I'm back! And I have a great recipe for a baked avocado with an egg.  

Two of my best friends from the school of education at Wisconsin were in town for the 4th and we had a blast.  We visited the Bean in Millennium Park, went to the top of the John Hancock building, walked around Water Tower Place, brought in burgers to the Half Acre Tap Room, relaxed on North Avenue Beach, BBQ'd for the 4th and saw fireworks from North Avenue, and generally, had so much fun! 

After this crazy weekend, I am ready to settle down and relax.  I decided that since my first trip to a bridal salon for dress shopping is about 2 months away, I really want to kick my eating healthy trend into high gear.  This recipe today is totally going to help me with my plan.  It is crazy delicious, super quick to put together, and healthy!  I love avocados and they are full of good nutrients.  Then, the pesto is homemade where I controlled the amount of oil and used a ton of spinach!  Finally, the egg provides some good protein.  It's a great, well-rounded, meal idea.

Baked Spinach Pesto Avocado with an Egg

1/2 avocado
1 egg
2 tbsp pesto (I used my Homemade Spinach Pesto)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
optional: dash of hot sauce

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Cut an avocado in half and scoop out enough of the center so that there is room to hold the egg.  
3. Place the avocado in an oven-safe dish and crack the egg into the center.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top and then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.   The time depends on how well done you like your eggs.
4. Spread some pesto over the top of the avocado and egg.  Sprinkle a dash of hot sauce over the creation if you are using it.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesday Part 7

We have a website!!! It is in the very beginning stages and there is not a ton on it yet, but it is up and running!  We will be adding to it as we go and I am pretty excited about this next big step!

I created our wedding website on The Knot.  It is totally free and they have a ton of great templates for you to get started with.  The other super cool thing is that a lot of the templates are based on invitations.  So, if you want to stick to a common theme, you can create your invitations to look like your site!

As we continue to make plans, we will continue to update our site so that guests can get all the information they might need about our big day!

If you want to see what our site looks like here it is: Jodie and Brian