We have the opportunity on the daily to make a positive impact on the world around us.
Whether one goes through their day searching for good deeds to be done,
or simply takes advantage of random opportunities to spread love,
every action (or inaction) has a resounding impact.
The question is: Is your impact today going to be positive, negative, or indifferent?
I have been told that one person can't make a difference.
I affectionately call these people "dummies"...
Those who actively try to hold the rest of us down,
those who would rather watch you drown than help you soar, those who can't grasp the power of positivity to create change.
Whether it's a great recipe found, or an uplifting story to share, you can be sure to find it here.
Let's start a Positivity Revolution, and drown out the dumb!

Thursday, February 28, 2013


I know I've mentioned both our Crockpot Sunday new tradition, and the amazing beef brisket that results...but I gotta show it in pictures! Last time we made this delicious dish (my mouth is watering just thinking about it!), we bought about 2.5 pounds of brisket from the market, and followed this recipe. The purchase weight of the brisket included all the fat that I trimmed off before we put it in the crockpot, so I bet it was more like 1.75 pounds of meat. We scarfed down nearly all of it in one sitting, and I used the remainder for delicious sandwiches the next day.

This Sunday, we have a 2-pound piece of brisket (with the fat already removed by the butcher--how easy!), and we plan on following the exact same recipe.

I started a bit later than I had hoped (got caught up cooking some other deliciousness for breakfast!), so when I put everything in the crockpot, it was already 11am. Recalling how last time we made brisket, we could barely wait the full cook time before tearing into this succulent meat, I set the timer to 5 hours on high, so it would be ready for an early dinner.
The meat turned out incredible, but way less saucy than the first time, presumably because of cooking at a high temperature as opposed to low like last time. Luckily, I had some spare bbq sauce, and while I was shredding the meat, my boyfriend couldn't help but steal some from the plate!
Next time we make brisket (this meal will be repeated over and over and over!), I will be sure to cook it for eight to ten hours on the low temperature, as this produces a more flavorful and moist brisket, with more of that deliciously sweet sauce. Do you have a fave crockpot bbq recipe? We wouldn't want to run out of ideas!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Sun-Dried" Tomatoes

My boyfriend isn't a pasta freak like me, but he never turns down Pasta Milano from Macaroni Grill. This creamy, mushroom-y, sun-dried tomato-y dish is just about the unhealthiest thing he'll eat (he usually snubs cream-based dishes, boo), and I have found a great copycat recipe that he loves.

The copycat Pasta Milano dish features Farfalle pasta, chicken breast, mushrooms, heavy cream, and sun-dried tomatoes. In an attempt to stick within my calories for this meal, I am going to substitute milk for the cream. Additionally, in an attempt to try something new and save a few bucks, I'm going to "sun-dry" my own tomatoes!

My boyfriend teased me when he heard I wanted to spend the time to try oven-drying tomatoes myself instead of just buying a jar of sun-dried tomatoes when we went grocery shopping yesterday. I'd just like to know that I can do it successfully, the same way I refuse to purchase bbq sauce since I learned to mix it up on my own. I love the challenge and the pride that goes along with making something completely from scratch (isn't that how all cooks feel?).

I picked up 4 large Roma tomatoes (since this is only for one recipe and it's my first attempt at oven-drying, I'm starting small, just in case it's a disaster), sliced them into sixes, removed the seeds, and placed them on my parchment-lined cookie sheet, sprinkling them with salt. The oven is set at 200 degrees, and I'm keeping the timer set at 2-hour intervals, so 1) they don't overcook and 2) I don't get distracted and leave them in there for two days.

After about six hours in the oven, I started checking my tomatoes and pulling any that were done. Right around the eight-hour mark, every tomato was shriveled up and ready to be tossed in EVOO! I also sprinkled these babies with some garlic powder, pepper, sugar, and italian seasoning, until I felt that they had that tangy sweetness you get from the ones sold in a jar.
The Pasta Milano I made with these tomatoes turned out better than ever, and I attribute it to the use of skim milk and my own oven-dried tomatoes! We both had seconds, and I couldn't have been happier that everything was healthier, and made from scratch. If you'd like to share your favorite "copycat" recipe, I'll try it out with my (small) healthy tweaks and feature it in a future post!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Valentine's Day in Pictures

My Valentine's Day was just perfect...I got to spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen, prepping our dinner of Cheese Fondue, Filet Mignon, and Blueberry Bread Pudding, plus other tidbits. I took pictures of nearly everything!! Here was my day and night...
Afternoon Surprise from my Love!

Homemade French Bread, getting ready for second rising

White Cheddar Mashers
 (I used my new KitchenAid hand Mixer,
these were beautiful and creamy!) 

All my ingredients for Bacon-Wrapped Filets

For cheese fondue, I've found that flouring the shredded cheese helps it to melt smoothly. I simmered some Reisling on the stovetop, and added to it dried mustard, garlic, Worcestershire, and pepper, then added in the cheese. We transferred it to our fondue pot and used French Bread, green apples, and baby carrots as dippers!

Filet Mignon cooked medium rare, Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus, White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, and Giant Cocktail Shrimp with spicy sauce...perfect V-Day dinner!

Blueberries are my boyfriend's favorite, so I made him these Blueberry Bread Puddings in a muffin tin, adding some lemon custard on top before they were served.
Obviously, my Valentine's Day revolved around our favorite foods...Is there anyone else who had a similar experience, or are we the only ones who stayed in and stuffed our faces?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crockpot Sundays

The weekends have become the best bonding time for me and my boyfriend...We sit around, watch movies, catch a college basketball game at our favorite sports bar, and just get to be absolutely lazy. Naturally, no one (me) feels like cooking anything fancy, and so the crockpot has become a crucial part of our weekend repertoire. We meander through the grocery store until we think of what we want to crockpot, Google the recipe, and bam! A perfect weekend is created.

Crockpot Sundays was born a few weeks ago with a brisket. It turned out juicy, the sauce was amazing, and we stuffed ourselves on about a pound of meat apiece! The next couple weeks involved ribs and then pulled pork, because barbeque turns out to be pretty darn addictive. This last week, one of my boyfriend's coworkers gave him a recipe for chili (he knows about our love of crockpotting). I have always only made green chile in the past, and so I was eager to try this recipe.
This chili recipe turned out incredible, we could barely wait until it was done cooking to dig in (just like every previous week)! There was SO MUCH, so I froze half and looked up some ideas for using up the rest in creative and fun recipes...

After some Google Images inspiration, I decided to use the little baby potatoes I had bought earlier in the week and make mini chili potatoes. I tossed the potatoes with EVOO, salt, and pepper, and baked for about 45 minutes on 375 degrees. When they were tender, I removed them from the oven and let them cool down. I then cut them in half and scooped out some of the insides, making sure there was substantial chili room.

I then added some chili to each potato and topped with a bit of shredded cheddar cheese. These little nuggets just needed to be heated through in my 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Such a good pre-dinner snack (another thing we love)!

What have you found to be the best thing to make with chili, I could use some suggestions since I have enough made for a small army!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Undecided Fan?

Spinach & Cauliflower Pizza Crust with Black Olives

Mini-Muffin Pizzas

After my workout today, I rushed home to create a new dish that I was super excited about: Spinach & Cauliflower Pizza. Discovering whether or not this low-calorie veggie substitute for one of my favorite foods ever could be as delicious as the real thing is a very exciting thought!

I made a few time-worthy changes to the recipe that I posted this morning, and it turned out!...I think. I blended everything in the food processor until it was a thick consistency (shown on right).

 I read on my research recipes that the crust is floppy, and I wanted to stiffen it up (hence the panko crumbs). It didn't work as I'd hoped on the round pizza, but with the mini "muffin pizzas", the chewiness was perfect and they held together wonderfully.

The flavor is decidedly cauliflower-y, and it's a flavor I wasn't too fond of on first bite, but having eaten half the pizza and all 4 of the mini pizzas, I guess it grows on ya. (Just the same, I think I'll try just spinach next time.)

Either way, I'm full and happy, and I definitely feel like my body can work better on a veggie pie than a Digiorno! Has anyone else tried this veggie-crust style of pizza? I'd love to hear about your success!

Baking Madness!

I've been bad. I've been on a baking-experimenting rampage for the past two weeks, and have failed to share any of my madness with the outside world. It's as if a "flip has been switched" (I know that's incorrect, but it makes me giggle 'cause I accidentally say it all the time), and I can't stop!

Everywhere I look there is inspiration to cook something wonderful, healthy (or not), and delicious, and I spend my mornings drooling over Google images and Pinterest ideas and then trying to recreate them in my own way. I have entered two recipe contests, because all this tinkering in the kitchen has resulted in some really terrific food. I feel energized and super creative, and I haven't been able to sit still (hence my absence from this blog). But, no more will I keep all this yummy food to myself!

Today, I ran across a recipe for Spinach-Crust Pizza, which led to another recipe for Cauliflower-Crust Pizza, and my mind started working overtime...My boyfriend and I eat entirely too much of this particular treat, and the calories involved are murdering any headway I've made with my midsection! Over the past weeks, I made a couple batches of homemade pizza dough (super easy!), but it still takes too long for our rumbling tummies, and we usually end up resorting to the frozen kind that dominates our freezer. Besides, unhealthy food tastes so much better when you are famished (my theory is because the hunger drowns out the thought of excess calories, haha).

So, to be able to make a crust from veggies would be more than ideal, and I am determined to try this recipe today (I'll post the pics later this afternoon). My boyfriend hates spinach and cauliflower, so the bonus is that I get this pie all to myself, and from what I've read about the calorie content (about 143 calories for the crust without toppings), I could eat an entire 12" pizza and it wouldn't come close to eating the frozen junk. I looked at 3 or 4 recipes and here's how they mesh together for my very own recipe:

Spinach&Cauliflower Pizza

  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1 cup cooked, grated cauliflower ("riced")
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian-style cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Dash Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt

  • Pizza sauce
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Pizza toppings
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Process spinach, garlic, and cauliflower in food processor.
Add egg and cheese, process until mixture reaches a baby food-like consistency.
Add in panko crumbs, give a twirl, then lemon juice, twirl, then spices, twirl. Adjust seasoning to your liking.
Spread mixture in a 12" or smaller pizza pan that has been lined w/parchment paper.
Spray dough with cooking spray lightly and cook for about 15 min.
Add sauce, cheese, and desired toppings, broil for a few more minutes until cheese just starts to melt.
YUM! Sounds delish! This experiment will hopefully turn out, I am going to try it as a medium-sized pie and then also in mini-muffin cups (my new obsession is making everything mini).