Adventures in the kitchen, in fitness and with glitter!

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Spaghetti Squash – A Fall Favorite

Growing up I remember eating a lot of spaghetti squash. That could be why in my adult life I rarely make it for myself. But I changed it up this week after impulse buying a great looking squash at the Farmers’ Market and decided to roast it up this week. I went for simple in the preparation, I started by slicing it in half, then removed all the guts and seeds, brushed on some olive oil, cracked some black pepper and garlic salt over the flesh and laid them flat on a baking sheet in the oven at 375 degrees.

Used some tinfoil on the baking sheet for less mess.

Used some tinfoil on the baking sheet for a little less mess.

While the squash was roasting, I whipped up some tomato sauce. I combined some crushed tomatoes along with a can of tomato paste and diced garlic tomatoes, and used my emersion blender to mix it all up, adding in fresh garlic, oregano, basil, black pepper, crushed red pepper and a sprinkle of sugar along the way.

Boiled the sauce and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

Boiled the sauce and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

After 45 minutes, we were ready to go! I removed the sheet and scooped the flesh out of the spaghetti squash onto plates and topped it with some tomato sauce. I am a huge fan of parmesan cheese, so I sprinkled some on top for some extra flavor. Now it was exactly like real spaghetti, but it was delicious and warm on another cold, rainy day we had in Charlottesville. Happy eating!

Good to go!

Good to go!


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Pushing into Fall

I eat a fairly vegetarian diet, not on purpose always but I don’t often cook meat just for myself. That being said, even though I am back in Charlottesville with the BF, I had to try out this new Sweet Potato Corn Cake recipe, which had been on my Pinterest board for months!

The Charlottesville farmers’ market is a downgrade from Madison, which isn’t surprising, and the cheese selection is sub-par, but it’s still awesome to stroll in downtown Charlottesville and pick-up fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and sometime a treat. We picked up a few sweet potatoes over the weekend at the market for this recipe, and a bunch of cilantro and some green onions. From there the recipe came together pretty easily. We roasted the potatoes, first in the oven and when they were being stubborn, we finished it in the microwave, as the recipe recommended. While it was cooking we chopped the green onions, cilantro, washed the corn and combined the spices. The BF likes a kick to his food, so I added some extra cayenne. I used panko breadcrumbs, cornmeal and mixed it all up. We were getting a little hungry at this point, so I tried to speed up the absorption process they described by putting it in the freezer. I don’t think it actually worked but because the mashed mixture was so cold forming the patties was easy, they weren’t sticky and held together well.

Pre-cooked Sweet Potato Corn Cakes. The only picture I managed to capture. We held out a little to late for dinner!

Pre-cooked Sweet Potato Corn Cakes. The only picture I managed to capture. We held out a little to late for dinner!

While the mashed mixture was in the freezer, I whipped up the garlic sauce. I added a scoop of garlic and handful of cilantro to a cup of plain Greek yogurt. In hindsight, I would have done the sauce the night before, it was lacking a little bit of flavor. We added a little extra garlic and a touch of salt to add flavor the first night. However, the next day, with leftovers, the garlic sauce definitely packed a bigger flavor.

We cooked the patties on the stove top in a touch of oil, drained them and served them over lettuce with the garlic sauce for a nice dinner. Definitely a recipe that will go in the recipe box for another night.

This was great fuel for my running plan. I’m back in my routine and hitting my stride during interval days and feeling good on the long runs. Happy Monday all, seize your week!

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Settling into the End of Summer

The end is near for my summer of travel and that means some much needed catching up with my other favorite past times – cooking and regular exercise!

The dwindling of summer also mean the return of students to Madison – our office interns have arrived and I used it as an excuse to whip up some cookies in the kitchen. I had salted carmel chocolate chip cookies on the brain but misplaced my favorite cookie recipe in the chaos of my moving/living situation, so I subbed in this one instead. I also used some spring time Nestle morsels to brighten up the cookies. They were soft and delicious but a bit on the too salty side. The interns didn’t seem to mind, they devoured the entire batch before I could snap a picture!

I returned from a weekend in Portland late last night, but in anticipation of spending the next three weeks in Madison I decide to spend some time in the kitchen tonight with an old trusty recipe – an adaptation of  Mexican Lasagna. I opted out of the lasagna/tortilla portion and instead just made a scramble with the inside mix for the lasagna. I added low sodium taco seasoning to the chicken, some red bell pepper I had in the fridge and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper while the mixture simmered.

All the ingredients simmering over the stove!

All the ingredients simmering over the stove!

I served the mixture over a bed of spinach and topped it with one of the many avocados that are rapidly softening in the fridge. It was delicious and now I have lots to eat throughout the week!

I’ve satisfied my itch somewhat in the kitchen, for now. Next item to tackle on my personal to-do list is refreshing my workout plan and finding the next running race and location. Onward and upward, happy Monday!



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The Pageantry…

Today was the Preakness in Baltimore, California Chrome won the second leg of the triple crowd and I reminisced about the first major horse race of the year – the Kentucky Derby! A fellow Southern friend (and co-worker) in Madison threw a Kentucky Derby party at her apartment complex and to quote my BF, I went a little “overboard”.

I was in charge of food and did my research to prepare some Derby classics!

Pimento Cheese, Benedictine Dip, Pulled Bourbon Chicken and Conrbread Crostini

Pimento Cheese, Benedictine Dip with veggies, Pulled Bourbon Chicken and Conrbread Crostini

Pimento cheese is one of my favorites but I don’t really follow a recipe when making it. I use a good cheddar cheese (about 8 oz.), about 3 oz. of pimentos from a jar, a light bit of light mayo to mix to the right consistency. Then add a few dashes of worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle of garlic salt and cayenne pepper to taste and mix together thoroughly. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving, or overnight if possible. I like to serve it with celery, carrots or crackers. It’s delicious!

Kentucky Derby Day isn’t complete without a great hat and this year I made my own fascinator! I used a tutorial from Polka Dot Chair with a few adjustments. You’ll need tissue paper, netting, wire or a pipe cleaner, a fake flower and a headband along with scissors and a glue gun.

Start with your own color combination of tissue paper, 5-8 pieces (20×20 makes a good, but still oversized flower for a fascinator).

Step 1: 5-8 pieces of tissue paper

Lay flat 5-8 pieces of tissue paper

Fold the tissue paper like an accordion and bind in the middle with wire or pipe cleaner.

Pipe cleaner can match your colors, or not. Wire will work too.

Pipe cleaner can match your colors, or not. Wire will work too.

Next, use scissors to round off the edges of the tissues paper to form the end of the petals.

Round the edges however you'd like your petals to look.

Round the edges however you’d like your petals to look.

Then fluff up the tissue paper layers one at a time, starting with the layer that you want at the middle of your flower.

Fold the tissue paper up and pull the edges of the paper towards each other.

Fold the tissue paper in towards the center and pull the edges of the paper into each other.

Next insert your fake flower through the middle of the tissue paper flower. Leave 4-6 inches of the wire on the flower steam to attach to the headband.

You can cut off the petals from your fake flower, or leave them on.

You can cut off the petals from your fake flower, or leave them on.

Attach the netting to the headband with a second pipe cleaner or wire and then twist the wire from the flower around the same spot on the headband. It’s best to attach the netting and tissue paper off-center.


Fluff up the tissue paper and adjust the netting so it peaks out beneath the tissue paper flower.


In this case I left the petals on the fake flower.

Then ta-da, you have your fascinator. Pair with a fun sundress and enjoy your Derby Day!

Live it up!

Live it up!