Sunday, August 25, 2013

Broken lasagna casserole with mushrooms, sausage, and kale

So I had a long, rough week at work. First of all, I ended up having only one day off. Then one of the kids I work with was REALLY physically aggressive towards me. I mean kicking, hitting me over the head with huge books, destroying my things- the works. And to top it all off most of my days started at 6 in the morning (and I don't mean waking up at 6, I mean arriving at a shift at 6am) and ended with me not getting home until 7 or 8pm. Don't get me wrong, I love being a Behavioral Health Professional, but jeeze it can be stressful! So I seriously needed some comfort food. Lasagna sounded good, but all of my noodles were broken! I decided to use them anyways and approach it more like a casserole, so this recipe was born late at night after a crazy day. And wow, did it make me feel better! Here's hoping it can give you the boost you need to keep going after a long, tough week. You will need...

- around 8 sheets of lasagna, broken into bite sized pieces
- 3/4 jar of the tomato sauce of your choice
- 1 lb hot italian turkey sausage
- 1.5 cups of part-skim ricotta
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 lb baby bella mushrooms, sliced

- 4 to 5 large kale leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced

1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Remove the casing from the turkey sausage and brown in a skillet over medium heat. I like to use a potato masher in order to quickly crumble the meat.

2. When the meat is brown, remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic to the pan that you used to brown the meat. Cook the mixture for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mushrooms are wilted and the onions are translucent. 


3. Add the kale to the skillet and cook until wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Turn off burner and set veggie mixture aside. 

4. Now it's time to make your cheese mixture. Combine the ricotta, parmesan, dried herbs, egg, and 1/4 cup of the mozzarella. Set cheese mixture aside. 


5. Now you can start building the casserole! Spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and add your broken noodles, veggie mixture, and browned sausage. The order doesn't matter, because you are going to mix everything together!





6. Now top that pile of delicious things with 3/4 of the jar of your favorite pasta sauce. Mix until everything is evenly distributed. Top with the cheese mixture and then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. 





7. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is melted and browned slightly. 



YUM! This is the perfect meal after a stressful day at work. Serves 4 very hungry people on its own, serves 6 if you have a nice side salad with it. Enjoy!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Vegan Superfood Smoothie + my favorite workout

This is one of my favorite smoothies! It is super healthy, keeps me full, and has tons of nutrients in it. Kale, berries, and bananas are full of cancer-fighting compounds, and the healthy fats in the coconut milk and avocado help your body absorb those compounds. On the plus side, avocado is considered to be a superfood as well! I know it sounds strange to put avocado in a smoothie, but I did it once when my avocado had ripened super fast and I didn't want it to go to waste. I tried it and now it is a staple in many of my morning smoothies- it adds this silky texture and a rich taste. I love to make this smoothie when I know I need a ton of energy for the day. Twice a week I support families with their morning routines, so this means being there at 6 am. I have to get up at 4:45 and leave my house at 5:30, and I go to the gym at 8am when my shift is done. Needless to say, I need something that really sticks with me until lunch time. This smoothie really fills me up, and it comes in at a mere 291 calories. You will need:

- 1 small banana, sliced
- 1/4 of an avocado, sliced
- 1 packed cup of kale
- 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup mixed frozen berries

If you have a decent blender... Pack the kale, banana, avocado, and berries into your blender. Pour the coconut milk over the mix. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

If you have an $11 blender like me... I would suggest blending the kale, banana, avocado, and milk together first so you can really break down the kale. Plus, I can't fit everything into mine all at once!

Here it is without the berries... so green! Then the finished product with the berries...

YUM! If it is too thick for you, just add another splash or so of milk.

I personally am not a huge fan of sweet things in the morning, so I really like this smoothie. If you think it isn't sweet enough, I would add more berries and/or some honey/agave nectar.

My favorite workout (for after you've powered up with this smoothie!)

30-20-10 workout
I have seen this workout in many variations on different sites. Basically you can tweak it to your liking! I do 30 minutes on the stepmill (the one that looks like a mini escalator) on the fat burner setting, level 14. This is a great interval workout. Just remember to not lean all over the handles- a lot of people do that, but it makes it so you burn about 30% less calories! I then head over to the treadmill and run for 20 minutes. I use an incline of 3, and I start out at a pace of 6.3. After that, I increase the pace by .1 every 5 minutes. For the last 2 minutes, I run at a pace of 7.0 and then 7.3. I cool down walking for about 5 minutes at a pace of 3.0. For my last 10 minutes, I do abs and arms at home (sit ups, push ups, planks...). I like this workout because it goes by fast due to the constantly changing levels, and if I am ever bored I just replace the stepmill with another low-impact machine such as the arc trainer or the elliptical.

Have a healthy day!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mainely Mondays #1

I hope everyone else had a fun weekend! My boyfriend Matt and I decided that now that we've moved back to Maine, we really want to get out there and see everything that makes Maine awesome. Right now we're planning a camping trip in Bar Harbor for our vacation the first week of September. I need a vacation so badly, and we've been wanting to go back to Bar Harbor since we went to a beautiful fall wedding there. This weekend we headed over to the Old Port in Portland, a part of the city I am very familiar with as I went to high school within walking distance of it. Unfortunately, my iphone decided to totally malfunction and I either couldn't take pictures or I lost the ones that I had taken. After a night of being turned off, it is totally fine but I am bummed about losing all of my pictures of our fun day! Anyways, we started off our day by walking around and going to several different shops...

1. Longfellow Books
This is an awesome little independent bookstore right in Monument square, across the street from the Portland Public Library. They even have a lot of books by local Maine authors, my dad included! Check out their site here and my dad's book here.

2. Z fabrics
This was my first time visiting this store, and let me tell you... it is awesome!!! It was a little bit hard to find, but it is an adorable store packed with amazing fabrics. I literally wanted to buy everything. I did walk away with some goodies for new projects for a craft fair that I have coming up in the fall. If you want unique fabrics and findings, definitely check this place out.

After some shopping we were feeling kind of hungry, so we stopped by our favorite bakery, Standard Bakery. Let me tell you, this place is awesome. I lived in Paris for 4 months during my Junior year in college, and this is the only place I have ever found that has croissants and baguettes that taste like they're just out of my favorite boulangerie. Check them out on Facebook.

So that was our day! Next time I will definitely have pictures to share, as Maine is beautiful and I love to share pictures of my home state.

Have a crafty Monday!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Coffe Table Organizer Tutorial

If you are like me, your coffee table often disappears under piles of books, mail, and coffee cups. I hated how it always seemed cluttered, and I thought that maybe a cute tray would be an easy solution. I searched for a cute one, but I didn't find anything I liked that much. I decided to do a little DIY project, and headed to AC Moore to grab some supplies. Here is what you need:

- an unfinished wooden tray
- primer (paint on or spray on)
- paint
- paint brushes/sponges
- sand paper
- finishing paint/spray

* a note on spray-on primer and finishers: I've heard that they are great and easy to use, but I must say I've never been impressed. They mostly come out streaky and tacky despite me following the directions on the bottle. Maybe it's the brand I'm using, but I would rather take the extra time and just paint it on! If anyone knows of a good brand or has some tips for using spray-on primers and such, please let me know!

So first, sand that baby down! Make sure it is super smooth, especially around the edges as those tend to be quite rough.

Then, apply 1-2 coats of primer so the wood doesn't soak up all of your paint. I would recommend doing this outside as it is pretty stinky. Let each coat dry completely before applying another.

Next, grab your paint and go to town! I chose a pretty turquoise. Make sure you let each coat dry completely before applying another. I did 3 coats to get the color that I wanted. 

After your tray is totally dry, apply 1-2 coats of finisher. Do this outside as it smells!! After it is dry, you have a lovely coffee table organizer!

Cluttered mess and trust me, this is my coffee table on a good day!


Hurrah, now your coffee table looks presentable and you can actually find things on it! There are so many other things you could do with this tray. Here are some ideas...

- don't just stop at the solid color of paint. Stencil it as well!
- cut out a piece of your favorite scrapbook paper and glue it on the inner bottom of the tray. Paint the rest of the tray, and make sure you an extra coat of the finishing spray on the paper. 
- use it to serve breakfast in bed
- use it on your dresser to hold perfumes, jewelry, etc

Have a crafty day!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What a year!

Jeeze, I can't believe that it has been a whole year since I posted anything! I got so caught up in the rush of life that I really let my time for crafting fall to the wayside. I feel like I start projects and then get so burnt out by work that I never finish them, which is a bummer because crafting has always been a way for me to de-stress. So I've decided to get back to blogging, as I think that blogs are such a great way to connect with others and share your creativity. I think it will give me the inspiration I need to get motivated and make sure that I always make time for myself to sit down and do something creative.

So many things have happened since the last time I posted! Just to name a few...
1. I graduated from college!!! WOOOOO!!!! I was so ready- I went to an extremely competitive liberal arts school so needless to say it was four years of blood, sweat, and tears. For my graduation gift my parents took me on an awesome vacation down to Tybee Island, GA to see my relatives. I spent a whole week laying on the beach reading trashy magazines. It was perfect.

2. We moved back to Maine! After working as a Catering Coordinator down in MA for 6 months, enough was enough for me. I needed to get back to my home state. I spent months scouring the internet for the perfect apartment, and I found it. We love our place, plenty of crafting space for me and plenty of windows for my kitties.

3. I found a career. It took a while but I stumbled upon Providence Service Corporation, the largest in-home Social Services program in the world. I was hired as a Behavioral Health Professional, and I do in-home work with kids that are in danger of being placed in residential programs due to unsafe behaviors. It is a tough job, I get beat up sometimes, but those moments when you see the kiddos getting better and forming a relationship with you are the best in the world.

4. I worked my butt off, literally... when I posted last year I was about 25-30 pounds heavier. I gained a lot of weight due to a back injury that I got while playing Rugby. I had a pinched nerve, and it was sooooo painful. Working at Panera didn't help, and my back would hurt so badly that working out didn't happen much. After I quit I noticed that the pain diminished, and soon I was back to a regular workout routine and feeling much better. I will be posting some of my go-to healthy meals and workouts!

5. We had some scary family stuff happen. My father's kidney cancer returned after years of being cancer free. While running preliminary tests to see if he would be a good fit for IL-2 treatments, they discovered a major blockage in his heart requiring and immediate quadruple bypass. Everything happened so fast, but he had amazing doctors and nurses, and has recovered with flying colors. He is now moving on to beating his cancer, which I know he will do. You can follow his journey at

So... I'm back and ready to go! I have some fun tutorials in the works, including quilting, home DIY projects, and some fun recipes. I am also going to be starting a "Mainely Mondays" post, in which I will share my weekend Maine adventures. I live in such a beautiful, fun state, and I want to share it! Stay tuned!