Crowdpleaser – Easy Summer Sangria

Guys – it’s coming. Summer is almost here in the Northeast! (Friends in the South, just keep your mouths shut and your Instagrams beach-free for a couple more weeks, ok?) Outdoor get-together season is just around the corner, and for me, nothing is better than a sweet glass of sangria on a warm afternoon.

It’s funny – as a 29 year old who spends most of her day surrounded by classmates in their early 20’s, I hear a lot about weekday afternoon drinking and Senior Spring stories that refer to 2017. Even though my Senior spring was in 2011, I still have such fond memories of all 4 years at Brown spending every afternoon on the Main Green and Lincoln Field with my friends.

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One of my favorite places on Earth, Lincoln Field at Brown University

Some of my favorite afternoons were spent grilling out with our larger group of friends, playing Beerbee and Cornhole, drinking Sangria out of a huge bucket on the lawn. Every time I drink Sangria I think of these carefree times and smile.

This Sangria recipe stayed with me through college and even into my early years in New York City to rooftop parties and to Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park. Now, I’m passing it on to you! It’s been honed and perfected throughout the years, and requires only as much effort as you want to put into cutting up fruit. I recommend oranges, apples, pears, and watermelon – and you can grill some of those pears too for a healthy snack!

Summer Sangria

Photo Credit Lincoln Field Photo Christopher Sewell, whose beautiful photo I found through a Google search.
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Frozen Peanut Butter Coconut Oil Treats Your Pup will Love

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Reese Witherspoon the Dog Princess-ing Out on the Beach

Who else in the Northeast is sick of this winter weather? It’s tough having a pup this time of year, especially one with so much energy.

In our house, we all find it hard to battle the dry skin that comes along with this bitter cold – even Reese! Once the weather started to deteriorate, Reese’s coat got less and less smooth and shiny.  I did some research and found that coconut oil was a healthy treat for pups with benefits that reached far beyond their skin. Then I found these delicious pupper treats that our girl loves. We feed her one every day from a standard ice cube tray — or a fun shape, larger sized treat if she’s been really good!

Frozen Peanut Butter Coconut Oil Treats
1 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup peanut butter (no xylithol!!)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Melt coconut oil and peanut butter over low heat – don’t let the mix boil. Stir well!

Mix in the cinnamon, and continue to stir.

While you pour the mixture into ice cube trays, make sure to keep the liquids well-mixed. Sometimes the peanut butter sinks to the bottom, causing some of the treats to be essentially all peanut butter and others to be mostly coconut oil.

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Freeze and feed to your favorite pup! Don’t forget to check around for the right amount of coconut oil to feed your dog based on size, and to ease them into a diet that includes coconut oil.

*I found this treat recipe on the Golden Barrel website, but I tweaked it a bit myself because I liked the consistency of the treat a bit better, and because our pup gets a lot of peanut butter other places.

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TB12 Method Seasonal Salads – My Take

Meal prepping as always been a part of my weekend – particularly since I moved into Mike’s. Now that I’m in grad school about 10 hours a day and Mike’s at work sometimes longer, meal prep has become absolutely necessary for us to continue eating healthy and not order pizza every night of the week!

Meal prep fell away this summer, with me being home most of the day, but now that fall is in full swing we are back in action every Sunday evening! As a big Pats fan, Mike has also recently discovered Tom Brady’s new healthy lifestyle book, The TB12 Method. I’m not usually a fan of these fad lifestyle books, but I will say the recipes are pretty great.

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Disclaimer: we are not and in no way want to eat vegan! So I’ve been taking his recipes and adjusting them to reflect our very omnivorous, meat-eating lifestyle.

Here’s my version of the TB12 Seasonal Salad with Savory Vinaigrette. I chop all the veggies on Sunday, so that morning assembly only takes a few minutes.

Mustard Caper Vinaigrette:
Recipe will fit in one standard sized mason jar for refrigerator storage.
1/4 c mustard seed
1/4 c capers, including juice
1 c lemon juice
1/8 c walnut oil
1/4 c olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend until smooth.

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Salad
Adjust servings up or down based on desired size.
1 c salad greens (I like spinach and kale mix)
1/2 c baby carrots, cut in half the long way
1/2 c radishes
1/2 c rice
1 handful of mixed microgreens (pea sprouts, fennel sprouts, etc)
1 handful alfalfa sprouts
1/8 c pistachios
1/8 c mixed seeds (I use flax, chia, and sunflower)
1/2 avocado
1/8 c Mustard Caper Vinaigrette

Has anyone tried the TB12 Method yet? What do you think?

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Stay tuned for my blog post on The Importance of Meal Prepping, and weekly meal prep menu posts.

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Homemade Italian: Meatball Mania

Growing up in an Italian family, meatballs were a constant staple at the dinner table. Everyone had their own recipe — some more dense, some sweeter, and some an entire meal in themselves!

When I started really getting into cooking, in high school, I would visit my aunt, my dad’s oldest half-sister, who was the hands down best cook in the bunch. I wanted to learn all of the traditional recipes – meatballs, red sauce, fried doughs (with a name so Italian I have no idea how to spell it), and morning pastries.

Over the years, I’ve adjusted the meatball recipe to become my own – added a few things, subtracted a few things, and adjusted amounts. Now I’ve decided to share it here with you!

I like to double the below recipe and freeze in bags of 9 or 10 – enough for 2-3 people to mix with pasta for dinner, plus leftovers. Please note the amounts are rough estimates — I usually do this by sight or feel, and you can tweak as necessary.

Meatball Recipe

Italian Style Meatballs
1 lb ground meatloaf mix (1/3 pork, 1/3 veal, 1/3 beef)
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 egg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian-Style Breadcrumbs
Plain Breadcrumbs (up to 1 cup)
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients except plain breadcrumbs by hand in a bowl. Add plain breadcrumbs until able to roll mixture into balls without large pieces sticking to hands.

Bake on 350 for 10-30 minutes, based on size of meatball, until both sizes are browned and the entire ball is cooked through.

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Gluten Free Homemade Granola

I first became obsessed with cooking and trying new recipes in high school. At the time, eating organic was becoming wildly popular, and I was becoming more health (and body) conscious.

In my house, we’d been eating fresh fruits and veggies from the garden since we were kids. Our dinners were well-balanced, and our breakfasts were well-rounded, but as an Italian household, everything was heavy in carbs. I still remember my breakfast every morning – an everything bagel with butter, plus 1/2 a grapefruit with sugar.

I became interested in cutting white carbs that year, and discovered granola. That same year, a local runner published a granola recipe in our town newspaper, The Westerly Sun, and I was immediately intrigued. My mom and I made it that weekend, and it was a hit. Over the years, I’ve edited and tweaked this recipe to granola perfection.

The long list of ingredients looks intimidating, but it’s a lot simpler than it looks. I usually try to reign in a helper to shell the pistachios with me, or knock out this task first, since it’s the longest step!

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This is my favorite mix, but you can add, subtract, and mix up as you see fit. Sometimes, I like to substitute chia seeds for flax seed, or add some walnuts or chocolate.

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Honestly, the bowl of nuts looks good enough to eat on its own. I like to mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the rest in a larger bowl, then add together. It makes the mixture much easier to mix.

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It’s important to stir the granola on the sheet every 5-7 minutes while it’s baking so that it doesn’t burn! I have 30-35 minutes listed in the recipe, but on a darker sheet or with a thinner layer of granola, it could be only 25. The granola will be crispy and golden when it’s done, and after cooling for 3-4 minutes, will form clumps.

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Look how much granola this recipe makes! This usually lasts me for a meal a day for 2 weeks – especially if I end up mixing it into yogurt for breakfast or lunch.

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Gluten Free Homemade Granola
Scroll down for a shareable recipe card!

6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flax seed (wheat germ if you’re not gluten free)
2/3 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups raisins
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup pistachio meats
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients except dried fruits in a large bowl until well coated.

Use cooking spray to coat 2 cookie sheets. Spread half the granola on each sheet.

Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees, lightly stirring every 5-7 minutes, until crispy. Switch the sheets from top to bottom rack and vice versa for even cooking. Let stand to cool.

Add raisins and dried cranberries, and store in airtight containers.

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Shareable gluten free granola recipe card

 

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