Succulent Sundays: Wine & Lasagna (Hint: There’s a Recipe!)

It's An Ordinary Blog

As you may remember (reading back to this post), I’m not really into alcohol but when my husband and I saw a Groupon for a small group wine tasting in our home, we pounced on it. 8 bottles of wine, a relaxed atmosphere, and some time with our friends seemed too good to pass up. I learned something…I like wine! The glass pictured above was one that our consultant said would be good with lasagna and so that’s what I made for dinner last night.

It's An Ordinary Blog

I thought I’d take some time to share the recipe…

You’ll need:

1 pound lean ground beef (or ground turkey) browned and drained.

Lasagna noodles (you can either buy the oven ready noodles or cook them yourself).

8oz Pasta Sauce (I use unsalted)

8oz Stewed tomatoes drained and sliced.

2 cups mozzarella cheese.

16oz large curd cottage cheese.

2 eggs.

Combine the eggs and cottage cheese into a bowl and set aside.

Combine the meat, pasta sauce, and stewed tomatoes into a bowl and set aside.

Assembling the lasagna is very simple. Start with a layer of noodles and then add a layer of your cottage cheese/egg mix followed by a layer of your meat and sauce and then a layer of mozzarella. Repeat, repeat (typically you get two to three layers per recipe).

Bake in the oven, covered with aluminum foil, at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Serve and enjoy with a glass of your favorite wine.

It's An Ordinary Blog

 I suggest pairing your lasagna with fresh salad and homemade garlic bread. To make the garlic bread, I sliced a fresh made baguette from my local bakery, used my new Orblue garlic press that I purchased through Amazon (you can find it here). I combined the fresh garlic with melted butter and brushed it onto the bread before baking it at 400 degrees for about five minutes. It was delicious!

Bon Appetite!

 

 

Advertisements

EKoffee In Review (Plus A Small Gift For You!)

eKoffee

I recently had the opportunity to sample some products from eKoffee, an online coffee delivery shop, that offers the ability to purchase fresh coffee from a variety of artisan roasters from the convenience of your own home. When it comes to hot beverages, I am well documented as a creature of habit. So, while I love coffee, it’s not that often that I try out a new brand. I happened across eKoffee on Twitter when I “favorited” a picture of one of their mugs (I am a sucker for a cute mug). Jason, founder, coffee guru, and avid Tweeter (or is it Twitterer? I can never remember.) sent me a message asking if I would be interested in doing a product review. After taking a quick peek at their website, I knew my answer would be “yes”. In case you haven’t been yet, their site is really well laid out and easy to navigate, which is always a bonus when you plan to do a lot of ordering online. More than that, I was excited at the prospect of branching out from my usual name brand coffee and to support a small and growing business.

eKoffee, as any coffee aficionado should, places a great deal of emphasis on freshness.  They offer small-batch artisan coffee that’s roasted immediately before shipping in order to guarantee that the coffee you receive is fresh.  One of the bags that I received was roasted only four days before it arrived at my doorstep. I cannot imagine something bought in a store delivering that kind of freshness. The assortment that the site offers is also impressive. They have coffee from some of the best roasters all available in one location. The selection on the site are organized either by roast (light, medium, etc), country of origin, type (regular, decaf, expresso, flavored), or by individual roaster. So, whatever it is that drives your coffee purchasing decision, eKoffee will quickly navigate you to your perfect choice.

EKoffee

The first coffee that I tried was Organic Honduran Marcala from Golden Hills Coffee. I like that this was fair trade certified and it tasted great.  Their website mentions milk chocolate, honey and green tea notes and while they are there, they are subtle enough to not be distracting.  I do not generally take my coffee black (I know this likely discredits me with hardcore coffee enthusiasts) but I did have this coffee black with some Tiramasu and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was full-flavored, but smooth and mild enough (and without any of the burnt notes that plague so many national brand coffees) that I was not missing my cream and sugar.

Small-Batch Artisan Coffee

The second coffee that I tried was called Good ‘Ol French Vanilla.  A medium Brazilian roast, with a wonderful natural tasting vanilla flavor.  I had this with just a little bit of milk and sugar with breakfast and it was fantastic. The flavor was subtle, delicious, and a great morning beverage.

Ginger Mango Tea

I also received some Ginger Mango tea that I am really excited about, but have not yet tried as I am waiting on my tea infuser to come through Amazon. I am planning to write a follow up post with my thoughts on the Ginger Mango tea in the coming weeks. Overall, I really like eKoffee.com for their emphasis on freshness and value. It is important, as a consumer, to find a companies with priorities that mirror your own and eKoffee definitely hits the mark for me.

eKoffee Review

The company has graciously offered each of you a 10% discount on all orders placed before June 30th. Just use the code: ORDINARYBLOG during checkout and make sure to stop back by here and let me know what you thought.

Disclaimer: I received eKoffee products (coffee, tea, and a mug) for free in exchange for my review and am under no obligation to write a positive review. My expressed thoughts are uniquely my own.

Please feel free to email me anytime with questions. ItsAnOrdinaryBlog@gmail.com 

Eggs, Spinach, and Water (Oh, my!): Revolt Now Fitness

42 Hard Boiled Egg Whites  

36 Cups of Spinach 

6 Gallons of Water 

Revolt Now Fitness

So what do sweat, hard boiled eggs, and a kettle-bell have in common? Revolt Now Fitness. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by this new company with an opportunity to become one of their bloggers. Essentially I’ll be participating in the program for two cycles (each uprising is six weeks at a time) in exchange for sharing my experience, what I’ve learned, and my thoughts about the program every week with each of you. I’m excited to share this journey with my readers and to try something that I really believe, maybe for the first time in my adult life, will become a life changing thing for me. That said, I want to talk a little bit today about what I’ve learned this first week and the challenges I’ve faced.

I always assumed that I had a relatively healthy diet. We try to get in our fruits and vegetables, have whole grains more often than their counterparts, and limit the amount of sweets that we eat each week. It wasn’t until I looked at the foods that I’ll be eating for the next twelve weeks that I really got it: A healthy diet isn’t just about fruits and veggies. It isn’t just about limiting processed foods. It’s the whole package that matters. And even though my diet wasn’t horrible before, it definitely wasn’t as good as it’s going to be from here on out. I’ve learned (and will continue to learn) that it isn’t just about having a vegetable with your meal or a piece of fruit as a snack. The way we pair our foods together can actually impact how we feel throughout the day and how the foods impact our body.

That’s not to say that this first week has been easy breezy, because it hasn’t. When you start Revolt, it’s strongly recommended that you begin with a Detox week, just to get your body used to not having so much sugar (which is in a lot of the foods most people eat on a daily basis). It wasn’t the ‘detox’ that bothered me…it was the amount of food and the repetitive nature of it. Six cups of spinach a day, hard boiled egg whites every morning and evening, and small meals every two to three hours. In looking forward to the next five weeks of meals, I’m really excited. Real food! Lava cake for dessert every night next week (and it’s healthy, SCORE!), celery and peanut butter, and meals that I know I’ll enjoy. The hardest thing, for me, in doing this program is saying goodbye to one of my favorite foods: cheese. Which brings me to the next thing I want to talk about.

In order for any sort of program (diet, fitness, or otherwise) to work, you have to have balance. We have a ‘cheat day’ built into the Revolt program which I ended up having to spread out throughout the week (we had a birthday dinner on Tuesday, an event last night, and a movie night tonight). Since I usually track my meals on My Fitness Pal, I know what my calorie deficit is for the week and I’m okay with the balance I have. So many of us found ourselves ‘caving’ at one point or another this week and having a bite of something that we weren’t supposed to have. I learned that it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world and life goes on. Mistakes happen, not every meal is going to be perfect, and the only thing you can do is accept it and move on. Tomorrow is a new day and an opportunity to be better.

The program combines healthy, clean eating, with a mix of workouts throughout the week meant to target the whole body. Nichole (Owner, trainer, goddess extraordinaire) posts daily workouts for us to follow. Three to four days a week we do large cardio circuits. We have an upper body sculpt workout once a week, a lower body workout one day a week. In the past, I’ve done the 30 Day Shred workouts but I actually prefer the Revolt Now Fitness program because I feel a difference in how my body reacts to the workouts. I’m excited to see how this program impacts my overall fitness level and my body over the next couple of months.

Even more so, I’m excited to share it with all of you. Care to join me?! The Revolt website is under construction until May 6th. Until then, you can find out more by visiting their Facebook page. I will post information about how you can join next week (it will include an affiliate link so if you’re going to sign up, I would love for Nichole to know that I sent you) so be on the lookout for that. Until then…

Disclaimer: I am participating in the Revolt Now Fitness Program for the next twelve weeks for free in exchange for my weekly review of their program. I am under no obligation to write a positive review and the expressed thoughts are uniquely my own. Please feel free to contact me at ItsAnOrdinaryBlog@gmail.com with any questions. 

Succulent Sundays: Homemade Stuffed Peppers (Recipe!)

I will never forget the day I was accused of being obsessed with green peppers. A friend of ours, who was also moving to the area, lived with us when my husband and I relocated to Kansas City after college. I took on the responsibility of cooking for the three of us and made a lot with green peppers. What can I say?! They’re delicious. Every time I make something with them, I think of this friend. So, G.L., this one is for you! A crunchy, munchy, melt in your mouth recipe for stuffed green peppers. From start to finish, this should only take you about 30 minutes. You’ll want to pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees before you begin. Don’t forget to compost your green pepper scraps when you’re done!

Homemade Stuffed Peppers

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 3-4 Green Peppers
  • Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese (~1 cup)
  • 8oz Tomato Sauce
  • Mexican or Spanish Rice (I used Uncle Bens)
  • 1 lb Ground Beef

Stuffed Peppers Recipe Under 30 Minutes

You’ll want to “gut” the green peppers (cut off the tops and use a spoon to take out their insides) before washing them. Set them aside for later.

Stuffed Peppers Recipe

In a large skillet, brown your beef (then drain before adding it back into the skillet).

Once drained, combine cooked rice (per the directions), beef, and tomato sauce. Stir.

Oven Baked Stuffed Peppers

Place your hollowed out peppers onto a baking sheet, stuff them (what kind of ‘stuffed peppers’ would these be otherwise?!), and top with cheese.

Stuffed Pepper Recipe In The Oven

(yummm! Cheese!)

Crunchy Stuffed Pepper Recipe

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. The peppers will be softer than raw but still crisp (and delicious!).

Stuffed Pepper Recipe

Serve and enjoy!

Homemade Stuffed Pepper Recipe

 

 

 

Succulent Sundays: Pizza, Pizza! A Budget Friendly Recipe

If you love pizza as much as I do: This post is for you!

Farmer's Market Pizza

I love City Market. It’s a great way to find fresh, locally grown and seasonally appropriate produce and to connect with farmers in the area. Even though it’s not peak season yet, there are still a lot of great finds at the farmer’s market. I absolutely love Al Habashi Market. They’re my first choice when it comes to purchasing spices and my weekly indulgence of naan flat bread (which is what I used for the crust of the pizza). Last week I purchased some red bell peppers, spinach, cilantro, and cherry tomatoes from various vendors around the market all of which I incorporated into this delicious pizza. All in all this large, delicious pie came in at under $4.00.

To replicate this recipe you’ll need:

Farmer's Market Pizza

  • 1 1.5 c shredded cheese
  • Pasta sauce (to taste)
  • Handful of Spinach (chopped)
  • Cilantro (to taste)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • Naan flatbread

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Place the naan flatbread onto a baking sheet. If you’re using a thin piece of naan, I would suggest using two pieces with a little bit of cheese (which will act as glue) in between.

Spread the pasta sauce onto the crust.

Homemade Pizza Recipe

Chop cilantro and bell peppers and add them, along with a thin layer of cheese to pizza.

Homemade Pizza Recipe

Add another layer of cheese and then top with chopped spinach and sliced cherry tomatoes.

Homemade Pizza

Bake in oven for ~6 minutes or to your preference.

pizza

Serve & Enjoy with your favorite glass of red wine (or water, or milk, or your beverage of choice).

Homemade pizza recipe

Succulent Sundays: BBQ Chicken Nachos

Remember that time when I made BBQ chicken bakes?! Well…

I wanted to try something a little different for dinner last night and, let me tell you, these are not-ch-your ordinary nachos! I knew I wanted to make my pulled BBQ chicken in the crock pot since it had been a while but I really wasn’t in the mood for traditional BBQ. So instead I made BBQ chicken nachos. If you need my recipe for the pulled BBQ chicken follow this link. This twist is super easy. All you’ll need is chips, lettuce (either hearts of romaine or shredded iceberg), guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, and chicken.

Chips

Combine Chips and a layer of pulled BBQ chicken in a bowl (or on a plate) and a 1/4 cup of shredded cheese and microwave for 1 minute.

BBQ Chicken on ChipsLayer on lettuce (I used iceberg for my husband’s dinner and romaine lettuce for mine), guacamole, sour cream, and a pinch of cheese on top.

BBQ Chicken Nachos

Serve and enjoy! I paired mine with a cup of unsweetened iced tea and it was so good!

Barbeque Chicken Nachos

Homemade French Fries (With Pictures!)

Happy Succulent Sunday, everyone! Today I want to show you how to make easy homemade french fries.

I served these with Jenny-O turkey burgers and, instead of using a bun, I put it between two pieces of lettuce and added a little bit of cheese.

Market Pantry Corn Oil

I usually use grape seed oil, because of it’s very high smoke point, but I recently discovered that corn oil has a smoke point of 400 degrees so it’s definitely a more budget friendly way to fry foods at home. For this recipe you’ll need potatoes, oil, and any seasoning that you prefer.

Homemade Fries Recipe

I happened to have gold potatoes on hand so that’s what I used for this recipe.

Homemade French Fry Recipe

The potatoes fry really well when they’re frying in oil between 250-325 degrees.

Homemade french fry recipe

Once you’ve peeled and cut your potatoes (and your oil is arm enough), place them in a single layer in your oil. Whenever you’re frying something, you’ll want to make sure that you’re watching it carefully (heat + oil = fire). When your potatoes start to turn into a nice golden brown, they’re ready.

French Fry Recipe

When you’re ready, carefully take the potatoes out of the oil and place them in a single layer on paper towels (to soak up the oil).

Homemade french fries

french fries recipe

Season immediately (if you’re going to). I used taco seasoning for mine.

french fry seasoning

homemade french fries recipe

Serve & Enjoy!

Homemade French Fries

Succulent Sundays: A Perfect Day With Pooh (Baby Shower Photos)

I am so excited to share some pictures from a very special baby shower that took place last weekend. The theme was Classic Pooh. Enjoy!

Classic Pooh Baby Shower

The mason jars were filled with honey and served both as a table top decoration and a take home favor for guests.

Classic Pooh Diaper Cake

Classic Pooh Diaper Cake

Non Traditional Guest Book

In lieu of a traditional guest book, attendees signed a “Pooh’s Party” hardcover board book.

Baby Shower Balloons

Baby Shower Decorations

Classic Pooh Scrapbook Materials

Amazon has the most adorable Classic Pooh scrapbook materials that doubled as decorations during the shower.

Honey Jar Baby Shower Favors

These were so easy to make. All you need is honey, 4oz Mason Jars, tissue paper, and ribbon.

Diaper Cake

The scrapbook materials on the diaper cake were tucked into the ribbon so that they can be used later after baby arrives.

Tissue Paper Pom Pom Balls

Classic Pooh Baby Shower

There’s a story behind this book, which doubled as a decoration. This book belonged to the nephew of the mommy-to-be. He insisted that his new cousin get the book (and that it be placed on the food table) as a gift at the shower. Absolutely sweet.

Baby Shower Decor

Baby Shower Banner

Classic Pooh Baby Shower

The food was incredible, take a look:

Pooh Baby Shower Cake

Baby Shower Food

Fruit and Cheese Platter

Veggie Platter

Chips and Salsa Platter

Bowl of Nuts

Baby Shower

Green Punch

Nature Box In Review

 

It seems that subscription services for healthy snacks are the up and coming craze and so when Nature Box contacted me for review, I was elated to have the chance to try it out. Oh, you’ve never heard of Nature Box?! Hungry snack lover, meet Nature Box, a company dedicated to delivering you a box full of healthy, yummy goodness every month for just under $20 (shipping included). It gets better! This company donates one meal for every box you purchase to Feeding America. I got my review box in the mail a couple of weeks ago and just finished up my snacks this evening (I’ve been sharing with the husband, aren’t I nice?! ;)). Each box comes with a description of the snacks. Here’s what Nature Box had to say about my goodies:

“This month, we’re forgetting about the over-hyped New Year’s diet mentality and encouraging you to establish healthy habits that you can sustain all year-long. These snacks will keep you energized throughout the post-holiday slump so you can meet all of your New Year’s resolutions, health-related or not!”

You can find all of my pictures of Nature Box snacks on the sneak peek post from last week.

Wild Berry Bunch

“Say goodbye to fruit snacks and enjoy these chewy berries that will remind you of the far-off summer with every bite. Enjoy them on their own or mix into muffins and yogurt.”

Each serving is packed with delicious dried cranberries, golden raisins, dried cherries, and dried blueberries at only 70 calories. These are ideal for a mom on the go who has a toddler that enjoys snack sharing. I ate these on their own and loved every bite.

Lone Star Snack Mix

“Wake up your taste buds with a zesty mix of mesquite almonds, cashews, and peanuts. This snack is perfect if you’re making a conscious effort to pass on greasy potato chips this year.”

Ummmm….hello delicious! This was one snack I was not planning to share with my husband. At 160 calories (130 of which were from Fat) it’s definitely a snack you want to portion out before you start eating it. The chipotle seasoning gives it a nice kick that will keep you coming back for more. The bag they sent me yielded four one ounce servings, each of which offers 12% of your daily dietary fiber and no cholesterol.

Chocolate Ginger Bliss

“If the stress of the holidays has somehow carried over into your New Year, then grab a handful of this blissful mix to relax and stay focused.”

Watching my husband try this snack was hilarious because he grabbed a huge bite of ginger right off the bat and started snacking on it. So I will say that this snack is meant to be eaten as an actual mix (rather than one piece at a time). It’s a great afternoon treat that has chocolate chips, ginger, tamari almonds, cranberries, papaya, roasted cashews, raisins, pineapple, and apricots.

Orange Crush Granola

“If eating breakfast every day is one of your New Year’s goals, this Orange Crush Granola will have you looking forward to breakfast even before you go to bed at night.”

I’ll be honest, by itself I was not crazy about the granola (only because I’m not a marmalade fan) but on top of some yogurt, it’s actually pretty good. My husband LOVED it. The bag has about two and a half 1/3 cup servings at 190 calories each.

Cranberry Almond Bites

“These berry bites are one healthy habit you’ll be able to commit to all year-long! Tart cranberries and crispy rice combine to make a satisfying bite-size snack.”

If you’re reading this, Nature Box, feel free to send me whatever you have left of this snack because it was absolutely, positively my favorite snack of all time. I had a very hard time sticking to only one 8 piece serving of the cranberry almond bites. Each serving has 130 calories and a lot of yum.

Every month of a subscription with Nature Box is packed with nutritional snack items so you’ll get to try something new each time. Itching for more?! Head on over to my Facebook page (don’t forget to “like” it) for a discount code Nature Box has graciously given to my readers.

Where I’ve Been…

I went to bed last night with the promise that I would remind myself to write a post letting you all know where I’ve been the last couple of days…You may not have even noticed that I was gone or you may have wondered why I skipped out on Friday Fictioneers this week, either way I’m going to give you an update. A good friend of mine is having a baby (yay!) and is due in February. I had the privilege of co-hosting a small get together in her honor today and have been working on it during my free time the past few days. I’m planning to do a few tutorials but, in the meantime, I thought I’d share some pictures.

It's An Ordinary Blog

It's An Ordinary Blog

It's An Ordinary Blog

It's An Ordinary Blog

It's An Ordinary Blog

It's An Ordinary Blog

It's An Ordinary Blog

It's An Ordinary Blog

It's An Ordinary Blog

I’ll be back to my regular schedule tomorrow. In the meantime, how did you celebrate your Sunday?