Tag Archive | pizza

Focusing on the firsts

Happy weekend, all! Can you believe it’s August? I for one sure can’t. But so far, I’m loving August, and especially loving our special visitors:
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They’ve only been here a few days, but we’re loving every second. It’s going to be a fun two weeks : –)

Anyway, I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for your comments on my last post. It was difficult for me to write and express what I was feeling, and I truly appreciate the heartfelt words.

After writing that post, I got to thinking and I must admit I was getting sad, too.  August is going to be full of ‘first and last’ experiences for me in Australia. What I mean by ‘firsts and lasts’ is: ‘first trip here, last meal there, last dinner here’, etc.  I realize it’s a pretty depressing way of thinking, so I know I need to change that. Instead of getting sad over this, I’m making it a goal of mine to embrace each and every experience I have left in my two weeks here and focus on the ‘firsts’, instead of the ‘lasts’. This week’s firsts included:

My first rugby games (Go Cowboys!):
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First meat pie (it was actually roasted vegetable, but it was deeeelicious!):
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First official ‘winter porridge’ in Australia:
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First run in my new sneakers (I am loving these Nike Free’s!):
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First trip with B’s parents to Hervey’s Range:
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First fancy coffee’s with Sue at Jam Corner (flat whites and cappuccinos, yes please):
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First attempt (and a successful one, at that!) cooking potatoes on pizza:
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First time wearing my ‘Boston Strong’ tee (love you Michelle!):

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First attempt cooking Cauliflower Rice (my new favorite side dish, I think!)
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First hat shopping experience in Australia:

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First time wearing my starfish scarf (I seriously have an accessory problem addiction):
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(Sidenote: I am REALLY going to miss wearing t-shirts in the winter!!)

Well, I’m off to enjoy this beautiful Sunday. Have a special rest of your weekend!

Did you have any ‘firsts’ this week?

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A tough week calls for chocolate

Hey friends, how was your Memorial Day weekend? Just think, you only have 3 work days left! I don’t know about you, but I used to love the feeling of 4-day weeks in my corporate job. Waking up on Wednesday thinking it’s Tuesday and finding out it’s mid-week is nothing short of FABULOUS. Anyway, my weekend wasn’t a long one, but it was still a good one nonetheless! We had a fun Saturday that consisted of:
A walk along the water:
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(Such a nice pose he did for me  LOL)

Homemade scones from Hervey’s Range Tea Rooms:
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(Cinnamon apple for her, blueberry for him)

Tourist activities:
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Laughing like crazy at the movies:
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Noshing on delicious pizza:
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(minus the olives!)

…and seeing the perfect sunset:
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Loving these unbelievable sunsets!

I loved everything about this day because it was just fun. I REALLY needed it before the crazy week I knew I was about to have/am having (last week of classes + exam preparation + work + studying =chaos).  Unfortunately, Saturday came and went too quickly and Monday began a tough week of craziness. In my opinion, tough weeks call for chocolate and this week is certainly no exception! When I’m stressed,  my favorite thing to do is bake (just like my Mom), so I figured a nutritious snack to get me through all of this studying wouldn’t hurt.  I loved the last protein bites I made but I’ve been wanting to experiment with a different kind, and I wanted to involve chocolate. So that’s just what I did, in the form of Chocolate Almond and  Coconut Energy Bites. My inspiration for these was this beauty:
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I was ecstatic when I read Kristy’s blog and found out that Almond Breeze Chocolate Almond Milk was available in Australia. I incorporated this into these bites, along with cocoa powder and chocolate chips to fulfill my sweet tooth. The protein in these bites comes in the form of oats, sunflower butter (or any nut butter) and quinoa flakes. Protein and chocolate? Yes please! These have been a perfect pick-me-up all week.  I’ve eaten them as pre-and-post work-out snacks, taken them to class and to work to eat on my breaks, and have thoroughly been enjoying a few for dessert each night. If you try them, I hope you like them!

Chocolate Almond and Coconut Energy Bites
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Ingredients:
1 cup oats (I used whole oats)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup slivered almonds (or your nut of choice)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey (I combined the two)
2/3 cup nut butter (I used sunflower butter)
1/4-1/2 cup Chocolate Almond Breeze Almond Milk

Directions:
1) Combine the oats, coconut, quinoa flakes,  cocoa powder, almonds, raisins, and chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl.
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2) In another mixing bowl, combine vanilla, syrup/honey, and nut butter. Pour this onto your dry ingredients and stir well, slowly adding-in the chocolate almond milk as you stir. (I needed a little under 1/2 cup of almond milk by the end to get the mixture to the right consistency).
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3) Cover and chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Then roll into ball formation.
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I rolled half of mine into shredded coconut for an extra garnish, but that is optional! 
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Store in an air-tight container in the fridge and enjoy!
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I think you could classify me as borderline obsessed with energy bites at this point, but I’m okay with that. Off to study and enjoy a couple of these gems on the side : –)
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What are your go-to de-stressing activities?
My top three are baking, shopping, and exercising!

What foods do you crave when you’re stressed?
For me, it’s chocolate and pizza!

Sinus saturday

Hello and happy weekend! This weekend hasn’t gone exactly how I’d planned thanks to a lovely sinus infection. When my parents were here, I came down with quite a bad cold that I pretty much ignored simply because I refused to be sick in bed while they were visiting. What first started as a sore throat slowly escalated to congestion and then turned into a stuffy nose…or so I thought. Anyway, fast-forward to this past Friday, and although I was still congested, I felt fine otherwise so I headed to spin class with a friend. When I got home my nose was terribly runny, along with other things that I’ll spare you the gross details of, but it wasn’t pretty.  I high-tailed it to the doctors, was told I had a sinus infection, and I’ve been on antibiotics ever since.  
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It’s been a real exciting weekend around here, full of tissues and medicine!

Thankfully Brandon has been away for work, otherwise I fear I would have passed this cold onto him, too! I’ve really learned my lesson this time, since it’s my own fault for getting sicker. I’ll admit I need to be better about listening to my body,  resting when I’m ill, and easing-up on workouts when I’m sick. Since I’m used to working out on a daily basis and I thoroughly enjoy being active,  I find it difficult to stop exercising even if I’m not feeling 100%. Sometimes it just feels good to sweat-it-out. Plus, living in Northern Australia has made this even harder for me because the nice weather is motivation enough to get outside and exercise! If I have the flu, that’s a different story, but with colds, I tend to keep exercising, which really made it worse this time around.

What about you? Do you work out when you have a cold? 

Despite this sickness, I still had a fun weekend with activities that were sinus-infection friendly, including:
The beach with girl-friends:
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Walking on the water:
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Making homemade salads and pizza:
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…And watching marathons of The Rachel Zoe Project:

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I have a serious addiction to this show, along with many other reality shows. I especially love Rachel because I walked by she, her husband, and their baby boy at LAX airport last year and said hello (to which she responded!!!), so I sort-of feel like I know her…sort-of. You might just call me celebrity crazy…

Anyway, I’m off to study, prepare for Monday, and hopefully kick this sinus infection to the curb!

What did you do this weekend? Do you watch Rachel Zoe? What’s your favorite reality show?

Pizza…A twist on traditional

As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed how much my love of pizza has grown, too. It’s not that I never liked it, but growing up, pizza was considered a “treat”, since it can be a not-so-healthy option at restaurants. Funny that during my four years at Bryant University, this treat became a twice-to-three times a week meal I’d choose to eat. I’d like to blame that on the fact that pizza is a fairly inexpensive option and when you’re a “starving college student” it seems like a smart choice, but it’s also due to the fact that it tastes 100 times better after a night of too many drinks!

Anyway, fast forward to five years later, and today my love of pizza is at an all-time-high. I tend to make and re-make my favorites, such as sautéed vegetables with tomato sauce and roasted corn, or white pizza with ricotta, feta, and mozzarella on a whole grain crust. And when I go out for pizza, I usually stick with those favorites. Also, the crust of pizza is my favorite part of all. I must admit, I’ve enjoyed a range of white, whole-grain, thin, and even the occasional deep-dish crust over the years, and it’s truly the part of the pizza I look forward to most.  So you can imagine I was quite skeptical when I began to read about “cauliflower pizza crust”.  No bread? I almost didn’t try it, but I’m so glad I did!

I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand last night, so I gave it a go. To my surprise, it was delicious. Chewy and cheesy, almost like pizza. I won’t say it tastes like your traditional pizza crust, because it doesn’t…it’s not bread. But as a no-carb, low-fat, healthy option, this will certainly please your waistline and trick your taste-buds.

Cauliflower Crusted  Pizza with Chicken and Veggies   (adapted from Paula Deen)

Ingredients (for crust)
Non-stick cooking spray
2 ½ cups grated cauliflower (about ½ a large head)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese 
salt and black pepper to taste(about 1/2 tsp each)

For pizza toppings(add any toppings you’d like, this is just what I did!)
1/4 cup  tomato sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Sautéed onions, mushrooms, and more cauliflower
Roasted shredded chicken breast (about 1/2 cup)

Directions
1) Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Grate the 1/2 head cauliflower using a box grater until you have 2.5 cups of cauliflower crumbles. Place in a large bowl and microwave for 7-8 minutes, or until softened. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.
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3) While the cauliflower is cooking, chop desired vegetables and/or other toppings, and sauté on stove in 1 tsp olive oil and/or cooking spray. Remove from heat once sautéed.
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4) Once the cauliflower has cooled off, mix in the egg, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Once combined, pat into a 10-inch round on the parchment-paper prepared pizza pan. Spray lightly with non-stick spray and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.
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5) Top the pizza crust with the sauce, mozzarella cheese, and in my case, the chicken and vegetables. Bake in the oven until melted and bubbly, about another 10 minutes. Cool, and serve.
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Looks like pizza, right? I was very surprised how much this tasted like pizza and Brandon was too, so I will certainly be making this again.  Serve yours with a side salad to round-out this healthy meal.  Hope you enjoy it!

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Things I’m Loving in australia…week 3

Hello again!  Is anyone else speechless that it’s nearly December? Brandon and I say to each other almost daily that it feels like July here, so this past weekend, we decided to kick off our holiday season by bringing American Thanksgiving to Australia. It definitely helped get me into the holiday spirit and besides, we really didn’t want to miss out on turkey, pie, and all the fun everyone was having back home! So together we shopped, chopped, baked, stayed up VERY late, and served up a “Friends-giving” for 14 of our friends. While turkey day was definitely the highlight of last week, here’s some other things I loved:

1) Mail from home…thank you Mom and Julia!
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2) Cadbury Crunchie Chocolate bars…or really any Cadbury bar, seeing’s how the average size chocolate bar here is the size of a water bottle. King-sized chocolate bars for a regular-sized price? Sign.me.up!
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3) Running to views like this ( so Beverly hills 90210-ish, don’t you think?!)
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4)  New friends
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5) Homemade pizza nights with my sweetie
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6) New furniture to hold the (way too many)clothes I brought.
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7) Witnessing Brandon make pumpkin AND apple pie from scratch. So proud, so proud.
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8) Palm trees and the beach.
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9) Late night cooking with my favorite.
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10) Friends-giving Success!
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What are you loving this week?

Summer-Inspired Veggie Pizza

I know it’s not technically summer yet, but I just have to share this recipe with you. Have you ever had corn on pizza? I hadn’t…and now I never want pizza without it!

As a vegetable-lover, if I make pizza at home, 9 times out of 10, I’ll make a veggie topped pie. And if I order pizza at a restaurant…9 times out of 10, you guessed it, I order veggie. So I didn’t think much of it when I was scouring an old issue of Cooking Light  for pizza recipes, and stumbled across a veggie pizza. However, the addition of corn in this recipe had me intrigued. So I went for it. I bought corn on the cob (already shucked was the only available…shameful, I know!), red peppers, zucchini, summer squash, and onion…and this summer-inspired pizza was born.

The hardest part of this recipe is chopping the vegetables. After that, it’s a piece of cake. Make this, you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

-8 ounces store-bought pizza dough ( I used whole wheat)
-Cooking spray
-Store bought tomato sauce (I used fire-roasted tomato, Classico brand)
-Olive oil to coat pan
-2 garlic cloves, crushed ( I used a Tbsp. of minced garlic)
-1 cup sliced onion
-1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
-1 cup chopped summer squash
-1 cup chopped zucchini
-2 ears corn
-1 tablespoon cornmeal
-3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese ( I combined this with 3-cheese Italian)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 425° (or temperature your dough specifies). Chop all vegetables.

2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat, spray with cooking spray. Add 2-3 teaspoons olive oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add garlic to pan. Then add onion, squash, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 5 minutes. (I always add I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Spray, too). Add salt and pepper to taste while sautéing. Cut corn from cob; add corn to vegetable mixture.

3. Scatter cornmeal over a lightly floured surface; roll dough into a circle on prepared surface. Transfer dough to a baking sheet; top with layer of tomato sauce ( I used about ¾ cup). Sprinkle with cheese, then top with vegetable mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cut into 8 slices.

Unfortunately, this was such a hit, there were no leftovers. So what did I do? I made it again less than a week later. It is so so addicting.  If you don’t feel like pizza, just make the vegetable sauté. I made it as a topping for my lunch salads last week, and it was fantastic!

What’s your favorite pizza recipe?