Sunday, February 24, 2013

Baked Veggie Ziti

Italian food is by far my favorite of the foods genres.  This week I was loving some superb pasta dishes.  I should have been born in Italy.  But, since I wasn't I just try to cook Italian food as much as possible. Here is my awesome (and healthy-ish) baked ziti recipe.

12oz uncooked ziti pasta (or other pasta-i.e. I used rotini because it is what I had on hand) 
Amount of tomato and zucchini needed. 
3/4cup low fat ricotta 
3/4cup of cheese (preferably mozzarella) 
2tbs nutritional yeast (adjust if not using cheese) 
1/2 large zucchini
1/2 large tomato
1cup unsalted tomato sauce 
2 gloves of garlic (chopped finely) 
How the mixture should appear. 
Salt- to taste
Pepper- to taste
Onion Powder- to taste
Oregano- to taste 
Olive Oil- enough to sauté veggies 

Viola! The finished product. 
Directions: Preheat oven to 400F.  In a medium pan, boil pasta until it is almost al dente(do NOT overcook).  Then, drain pasta and rinse with cold water, set aside.  Fill the bottom of a small skillet with some olive oil.  Sauté veggies and garlic until lightly browned.  While doing this stir ricotta, mozzarella, tomato sauce, spices, and nutritional yeast together in a bowl.  Pour cheese mixture into a the original pasta pan and warm on low for 3-4 minutes.  Add small amount of unsweetened non-dairy milk to sauce mixture if it is not the desired creaminess.  Put pasta and cheese mixture into a baking dish and top with a little fresh parmesan (optional).  Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Serve warm!

**Awesome lunch leftovers!!

What is your favorite food genre?    

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: 02/21/2013

Hola Readers!!

I am sharing my Thursday Thoughts, aka whatever I am thinking, with you this week.  It isn't anything too terribly interesting.  But, it is the basics of my little adventure here on the last frontier.

1.)  Weather in Alaska RULES compared to what my friends back home are dealing with.  My parents (Northern IL) are enjoying arctic temperatures while my college friends (Southern IL) are getting pelted with a snowstorm (insert evil laughter here).  I love being able to laugh about our 40F days and occasionally perfect winter weather while everyone down south is buried in snow.

This is from 6am…they are now buried in snow! Muhahaha.

2.)  I am loving Italian food right now.  I made Baked Veggie Ziti for dinner last night and I couldn't get enough of it so I ended up taking it as leftovers for lunch today.  Recipe to come!  In the meantime, enjoy some of these other great Italian food links that contributed to my creation.

Vegan Baked Ziti from
Awesome Vegan Baked Ziti from
Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti from The"V"

3.) Is it Friday yet?? I am so ready for the weekend.  Cody and I are hoping to buy a new car this weekend and get in some good old fashioned hiking as well.  Enjoy this funny hiking picture from last weekend.

Cody "attempting" to climb this random ladder. 

4.) I got to play with Dudley the Dental Dinosaur today!! This beautiful dino-beast came to my school today to talk to my classes about good oral hygiene.  It was sooooo cute! The kids loved the dinosaur and the dental office that sponsored him brought free toothbrushes for all of the kiddos.  Fellow teachers, take advantage of local resources!

Dudley the Dino!
Enjoy the rest of your week friends! I shall return with recipes and weekend shenanigans this weekend!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Glacial Happenings

Cody and I spent the weekend enjoying the mild weather and playing outside.  We spent Sunday afternoon out at Mendenhall Glacier in the Tongass National Forest.  The glacier is about a twenty minute drive from our house and makes for a great weekend outing.  The views are spectacular, the wildlife sitings are plenty, and the hikes are a total workout.  We kept it leisurely this weekend and just spent a couple hours hiking out to the Glacier and Nugget Falls.

Mendenhall Glacier.

Cody-posing with some blue ice.

Me- posing with some blue ice.

Cody- relaxing on the edge of the falls.

Nugget Falls.

Me- base of the falls.
 We were pretty tired by the time we finished playing outside so we headed home.  On the way, we stopped for some coffee at our favorite local coffee shop and Cody stopped for some Subway.  We finally made it home and are tucked in for the evening enjoying Season One of Game of Thrones (S2 comes out this week so we are catching up!)  I am making some Bad A$$ Mac N' Cheese for dinner tonight.  I will post the recipe in the next day or two.  I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend!!

Did any of you have adventurous weekends?  If so, what did you do?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kale & Tomato Strata

This week I needed something delicious, healthy, and simple to eat after work (and to take in my lunch as leftovers!).  This dish was purrrfect.  I was full, happy, and healthy.  It makes your entire house smell amazing.  I ended up sharing it with our neighbors because I couldn't eat the entire pan.  It was super filling and kept me going for hours.  Definitely suggest trying it out-especially if you are an egg lover.

1/3 loaf of bread (I used honey wheat, but sourdough is ideal) 
1/2 tomato (large)
2-3 large kale leaves 
2 eggs
2cups of greek yogurt (plain) 
1/2cup of water 
Onions (optional-to taste) 
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Basil and/or rosemary 
Parmesan Cheese 
Nutritional Yeast 

Directions:  In a baking pan place bread, cubed.  Sprinkle with olive oil and broil (low) for five minutes.  Remove pan from the oven and change the temperature to 350F.  Spread tomatoes (cubed), kale (shredded), and onion slices evenly throughout the baking pan.  In a mixing bowl combine all other ingredients.  Mix well.  Pour mixture evenly throughout pan (soaking bread and veggies).  Top with nutritional yeast and cheese. Place in oven for 30minutes.  Serve hot! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Belated Valentines Day

Valentines Day is always a low-key affair in the Thompson-Middleton household.  Yes,  I love romance, being pampered, and all such goodies.  The truth is, Cody and I both work and every year we have been together the holiday has fallen during the workweek.  We just stick to a homemade supper, some little gifts, and spending quality time together.  This years holiday went a little something like this…..

Waking up and enjoying a little coffee with my love.  Digging some Heritage Coffee (Juneau local.)

Heading off to work on a dreary and rainy day.  Celebrating the holiday with forty kiddos all hopped up on sugar.  They made these cute-sy Valentine Monsters to collect their cards :)

Love Monsters 

Coming home to a deliciously cooked meal.  Bleu Cheese Fettucini Alfredo and some Buttermilk Biscuits (no healthy eating for this holiday!)  Cody made it so I don't know the exact recipe he used, it was UH-mazing though.

Perfect V-day meal! 

Flowers, a new cd, an incredibly romantic letter, and the promise that Game of Thrones Season Two will be safely in my hands in a few days time (when it comes out next week).

Loved this flower arrangement. 

The day ended with reading in bed with Cody and Specks, I am reading Game of Thrones again and Cody is reading one of the Batman Comics that I got him for Valentines Day (he got a couple of Batman graphic novels, The Dark Knight movies, and an origami rose from me!)   We finally called it a night around 10pm.

Pretty exciting, eh??

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Weekly Reader: On The Road

"The only people for me are the made ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles…" --Jack Kerouac

Recently, I began reading On The Road (the original scroll).  I must say, Kerouac is a madman.  The original scroll is completely unedited, as Kerouac sat writing, it was then published exactly as written.  Many of us have read the edited version of On The Road.  However, if you are a fan you should read the original scroll.  It is fabulous to read it without the editing, without name changes, and exactly as Kerouac intended it to be.  Read this if you are looking for something truly adventurous to read.

Also, there is a movie version of this book coming out this holiday season.  I, personally, am excited to see it.  There are some mixed reviews from fans of the book.  But, check out the trailer for yourself. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Weekend Eats

Here is a collection of my favorite eats this weekend.  It was a dreary weekend so I focused on hearty and healthy recipes to keep us warm, dry, and happy.

Breakfast led me to these guys all weekend.  Have any of you tried this brand of waffles? Best instant waffles I have ever had.  No guilt about eating them either.  All natural, gluten-free, no preservatives…woo!!  Just top with a little organic, low-sugar maple syrup and a little Earth Balance.  Enjoy!

Van's Waffles…Yummm! 

I also enjoyed this delicious quiche for breakfast this weekend.  I normally don't eat much in the way of eggs but our wonderful neighbors made these and dropped them by for Cody and I.  They are fans of making me vegetarian cuisine so I am always in heaven when they bring food by!

The one on the left is veggie and the one on the
right is for carnivores. 

Lunches were composed of some of these delicious options: pesto pasta, leftovers, PB&J's, and sauteed veggies with rice.

Pesto Pasta topped with a little bit of fresh Parmesan.  

Dinners were composed of delicious vegetarian chili and my old standby of Vegan Cheesy Rice & Broccoli casserole, which I posted the recipe for here.  Overall it was a tasty weekend!

Spicy Chilli
3cups water
2cups No-Chicken broth (sodium free)
1cup of salt-free tomato puree
1 1/2 cup of quinoa
2cups of black beans (uncooked-soaked)
1cup of corn (frozen)
1cup of green beans (frozen)
1tbs garlic
1/2cup peppers (jalepeno, green, red, etc.)
Red Pepper
Onion Powder
Seasoned Salt

What were your favorite weekend meals??

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Musings from Juneau

Random thoughts that I have right now…

*Cody's car is DEAD.  D-E-A-D=DEAD.  This is what buying a $1500 car right after moving to Juneau will get you….four months of driving.  Oh well, on to buying a new car.

*On a more positive note.  Cody got two job offers this week!! One offer was from JYS (Juneau Youth Services) working as a counselor of sorts with a local elementary school.  He got a second job offer from the Juneau PD as a dispatcher.  Still up in the air about what he is planning to do, but either way it will be better than lousy retail.

So proud of him! 

*The sun finally came out!! We had two days of mildly sunny weather.  The clouds definitely gathered by late afternoon each day but it was still beautiful.  I love sunny days in Juneau.  Sadly, it is back to rainy for the weekend.

Rain, rain go away! 

*Coffee is my best friend….no really, it is.


*Cody and I both started the Couch to 5K program, WOO!  Running up a storm here in the last frontier. Albeit, we are a little soggy.  Btw- I want this running vest.  The dark and rainy weather is cramping my style a bit and I need to been easier to see for motorists.

*It is impossible for our little family to take a normal picture.

Being total dorks back at our old apartment. 

*I should probably post a more cohesive blog at some point this weekend but at this exact moment I can't un-jumble my thoughts.  Don't worry, when I do you will all be the first to know :)

Happy Weekend!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Alaskan Fashion

Alaska and Fashion are two words that one does not often hear used in the same sentence.  For the most part Alaskans are flannel shirt, jeans, Xtratuff, and funny hat kind of people.  I used to think of myself as much more fashionable before we moved to the wonderful city of Juneau.  Now, most of my outfits have to center around practicality (i.e. will my shoes get soaked? )  So, I have come to adjust my fashion a bit.  Enjoy some of my favorite Alaskan outfits thus far.

Mustard sweater layered over a striped long-sleeve
Practicality level: WARM 

Chambray shirt, leggings, scarf, and Xtratuff's
Practicality level: DRY

Turtleneck/sweater dress
Practicality level: WARM 

Xtratuff Rain Boots & Sorel Winter Boots
Practicality level: DRY 

As you can see I am attempting to develop a balance.  Can you dress cute and practical?  I say yes.  But, it is taking some time for me to figure out and many of my favorite pieces are basically unwearable right now.  Oh well,  this is one big adventure, right??

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Healthy Lunches

Eating lunch at work (and packing a lunch every night) can be a real drag.  I almost envy those people who are totally ok with eating fast food/unhealthy snack food for lunch everyday.  I really do envy people who can go home for lunch every day.  Packing a lunch everyday is tedious and boring. Planning has to be done, preparations have to be made, and cooking has to be done.  And, who really has the energy to do EXTRA cooking in the evening after cooking dinner and possibly making breakfast preparations for the next day??  Certainly not this girl.  So, I have devised a lunch system that has started to be fairly successful. I just stick to it everyday and the packing and prep work tends to go pretty quickly. 

Morning Snack
Fruit (apple, orange, banana, grapes, etc) or Greek Yogurt  

Leftover soup, half of a cheese sandwich, one orange,
greek yogurt, and coffee (not pictured: nuts) 
Main meal:  Leftovers (if it is something easily re-heatable), sandwich, pasta salad (M-W when prepared on the weekend),  or microwavable organic soup.  

Secondary: Salad, veggies and dip,  half of a sandwich (PB&J or cheese), crackers, or veggie chips.  

Dessert: Whatever baked goods I currently have (i.e. cookies, brownies, muffins, etc) 

Afternoon Snack 
Nuts, Edamame, or another protein rich food.  

**I also always bring at least one packet of herbal tea for myself.  I typically drink coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.  

For lunch yesterday I packed some leftover Creamy Vegetable Soup.  SUPER easy and SUPER good for lunch leftovers.  Check out the recipe.  

Creamy Vegetable Soup
5tbs flour
5tbs olive oil
4cups water 
2cups organic vegetable broth (try one of these
6-7cups of chopped vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, broccoli, celery, onions, peppers, etc) 
1tbs chopped garlic
Seasoned Salt (to taste) 
Pepper (to taste)
Yummy :) 
Crushed red pepper (to taste) 
Onion powder (to taste) 

Directions:  In a large pan heat all ingredients except for flour and olive oil.  In a separate pan heat olive oil and flour.  Whisk the mixture until it is very smooth.  Heat on medium-high until the roux turns a reddish-brown color.  Slowly add roux to the soup mixture.  More roux and/or a "cream of"  soup can be added depending on your desired creaminess level and healthy eating level.  Let all ingredients heat until veggies are tender.  Serve! 

Finally,  I leave you with a random picture of Cody and I.  My mom has been begging me for more pictures of myself in the blog.  So, here you go mom!  

The ONLY way I could get Cody in a picture with me.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rainy Day Coffee and Snacks

This week the weather has been bad abysmal!  Mother nature is confusing.  It has been raining and thirty.  I normally don't mind the rain, but weeks of it without reprieve gets a little depressing.  Here is the one beautiful picture I was able to take this week (during our twenty minutes of somewhat-sun).  The rest of them were just icky and rainy.

View from my porch on our one sunny-ish day. 

To combat the rainy weather I needed something sweet and warm to drink this morning.  Regular coffee was NOT going to cut through my rainy day blues.  So I tried out something a little different with my coffee.  Future barista?  I think so.

Delicious Coffee Recipe
1 steaming cup of coffee
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1tsp of powdered sugar
Dash of cinnamon

Topping:  Whip heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar together until it thickens.  Pour (small amount) into steaming cup of delicious coffee.  Top with cinnamon.  Makes enough for the entire pot of coffee.

Mmmmm…..who doesn't love a steaming cup of coffee?

Another of my rainy day favorites is natural popped popcorn.  I just top it with some cracked pepper, a hint of salt, and a little melted Earth Balance.  Healthy, easy, and delicious.  It can also be done with some seasoned salt and/or red pepper for a little spicy treat.

What are your favorite rainy day meals??  Leave me a comment and let me know!