Thai Sweet Potato Noodles With Chicken

My obsession with veggie noodles is off the charts. You know what they say: Once you go veggie pasta…. ok, you’ll probably go back to regular pasta at some point, but for those bloated days when you want a lighter option – veggie pasta is totally the way to go! You get all the texture and flavor without the guilt.

A few weeks ago, I showed you how to turn zucchini into a Pesto Chicken “Pasta” dish. This week,  I’m using sweet potatoes for a twist on Thai takeout! I’m cheating with some store-bought sauce and pre-cooked chicken strips because I’m trying to squeeze the most out of my “me” time these days. I’m sure we can all relate.

If you haven’t been following along, I made my noodles with a Spiralife Spiralizer… $15 on Amazon, but a warning: the sweet potatoes take a lot more muscle to spiralize than the zucchini I used in the previous recipe. If you can muster the strength and hang with it for all 6 potatoes, I promise it will be totally worth it. Heck, you might even treat yourself to seconds!

INGREDIENTS
6 Sweet Potatoes
2 cups of pre-cooked chicken strips
4 oz. Kikkoman Thai Style Peanut Sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Scallions, optional
Sesame seeds, optional

PREP
1. Cut the ends off the sweet potatoes and peel.
2. Spiralize potatoes using your favorite spiralizer and setting.
3. Heat olive oil in large covered pan (with cover off).
4. Add sweet potato noodles to the pan and stir to coat and cook for about 5 minutes.
5. Add Thai peanut sauce and pre-cooked chicken to pan. Stir to completely coat and combine. Cover pan and cook 10 minutes, stirring once every few minutes.
6. You could top with scallions and/or sesame seeds, if desired.

Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Chicken

Hey curly-cues! Get ready to see a lot of recipes for spiralized veggies on my blog!

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My favorite, favorite Christmas present this year was my $15 SpiraLife spiralizer. Finally, I can make zoodles properly. I’ve tried to use graters and peelers and other makeshift methods, but the noodles just don’t come out right. So, if you really want to start making veggie noodles, I highly recommend getting a spiralizer. And like I said, they’re only $15 on Amazon. So worth it!

For my first recipe, I wanted to make a big batch of veggie pasta that I could portion out and take to work for lunches. This Pesto Zucchini with Chicken is super easy to put together. I’ve used this pesto sauce before in a Pesto Linguini With Tomato dish and decided to put it together with my zucchini noodles. I also bought a package of pre-cooked chicken to make the assembly even easier.

Now that i have my first spiralized meal in the can, I’m so excited to make more veggie pasta with sweet potatoes and carrots. If you have links to some fresh recipes, I’d love to see them.

INGREDIENTS
6-8 large zucchini (spiralized)
1/2 cup of pesto
1/4 cup condensed cream of celery soup
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups pre-cooked chicken strips
1 Tbsp olive oil

PREP

1. Spiralize zucchini and place on a baking sheet covered in paper towel. Sprinkle zucchini with light salt to draw out the liquid. Let sit for 20 minutes
2. While zucchini is sitting, prepare the sauce. In a small pan, combine pesto, cream of celery soup and milk. Stir and simmer until hot throughout.
3. Blot liquid off zucchini with more paper tower or a clean towel.
4. In a large pan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat, add zucchini and saute for 5-6 minutes. Add cooked chicken and pesto sauce to the pan and stir to combine. Cook for another 4-5 minutes until chicken is heated.
5. Serve hot or portion out for weekday lunches or dinners.

Upcycling Christmas Cards

Hey guys! Happy 2017. New year. Clean slate.

This is my first post of the year. I’ve been busy taking it easy and enjoying the season. I’m so sad to see the holidays go, but that’s what inspired this craft:

It may be a dying tradition in this digital age, but I still LOVE getting Christmas cards. I also can’t bear to part with them at the end of the year. The sparkles, the wintry scenes, the jolly characters. Each card is so warm and pretty… and someone took the time to write out a personal message, put a stamp on it, and send it in the mail. It’s a shame to just throw them away. As you might know, I’m all about reusing and recycling, so I decided a couple years back to start upcycling my Christmas cards. I save them in a special drawer and then turn them into gift tags the next year.

It’s so fun to pull out the old cards, reread them and give them new life on top of this year’s Christmas gifts. So, if you’re like me and you still have your Christmas cards laying around (or hung up)… here’s a fun and crafty way to be green.

1. SAVE OLD CHRISTMAS CARDS


2. CUT OUT SCENES FROM CHRISTMAS CARDS INTO CIRCLES, SQUARES AND RECTANGLES OF VARIOUS SIZES

3. WRITE OUT (TO: AND FROM:) LINES

4. USE TAPE TO ADHERE UPCYCLED GIFT TAGS ONTO CHRISTMAS PRESENTS


Sunday Beef Stew

It might be a November cliche, but my current weekend goals include wrapping up in a warm lumberjack flannel, lighting up a Christmas candle, getting underneath an electric blanket and binging holiday TV with my husband and my bulldog.

The holiday TV doesn’t normally fly with my guy, but I might be able to sway him with this totally man-friendly Sunday Beef Stew. Tender beef, vegetables, a rich gravy – and it’s super easy! Winter weekends… nailed it!

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I wasn’t joking about the flannel, electric blanket and my dog!

INGREDIENTS
1 pound of stew beef chunks
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups beef stock
1 cup water
1 packet of McCormick Beef Stew seasoning
1 onion, coarsely chopped
5 carrots, chopped
5 white potatoes, coarsely chopped

PREP
1. Dredge beef in flour to coat.
2. In a heavy pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil and brown beef on all sides.
3. Add beef stock, water and stew seasoning to pot. Heat to a boil then lower to a simmer for 45 minutes.
4. Add vegetables to the pot and let simmer for 1 hour. Stir a couple times while stew is simmering.
5. Remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Baked Acorn Squash

Can you believe Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away? I’m in denial, but I’m also super excited for the holidays. We could all use a little love a cheer right now, right?!

I love squash in all of its many forms – butternut, spaghetti, pumpkin, and acorn -but what I appreciate most about acorn squash is that it’s basically a self-contained Thanksgiving side dish. It doesn’t need a whole lot of fussing, pre-cooking, mixing, sauteing, and chopping. It’s just a simple, classic autumn side dish all by itself. It even comes in a stylish serving skin. Gosh, it really is the perfect fall food!

Slice the squash in half, hit it with a bit of butter, brown sugar, syrup and walnuts and you’re done. This is one of my favorite ways to eat acorn squash.
Wishing all of you a happy and healthy holiday season!

INGREDIENTS
1 acorn squash, halved
1 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp crushed walnuts

PREP
1. Preheat oven to 400
2. Cut acorn squash in half lengthwise. (I puncture the squash a few times and microwave for 1 minute to make it easier to slice)
3. Remove seeds and guts. Score the inside of the squash.
4. Rub the flesh of the squash with the butter.
5. Crumble brown sugar into the center of each half.
6. Drizzle squash with maple syrup.
7. Add crumbled walnuts to each half of squash.
8. Place squash in glass baking pan. Pour 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of the pan so squash doesn’t dry out.
9. Bake squash for 1 hour to 1:10 until flesh is tender and caramelized.

7 Days In Tokyo: Day 7 – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

A late flight home meant we could savor a few more hours touristing in Tokyo, but I wish we could’ve spent way more time exploring the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. This massive greenspace in the middle of Shinjuku features traditional Japanese, English and French style gardens. (I can only imagine how gorgeous this place is during cherry blossom season.) We only had enough time to view the Japanese gardens before it was time to end our incredible vacation. It was such a peaceful moment and a special place to stop and reflect on the week. I whispered a quiet “thank you” to the city for being such a gracious host.

7 Days In Tokyo: Day 6 – Pokemon Center Mega

This was our last full day in Tokyo. Tear! There are so many things we didn’t get a chance to see yet – the Tokyo Tower, the Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza, and on and on – but instead of seeing brand new parts of town, we decided to return to the Akihabara area, one of our favorite places on the trip. We wanted to pick up extra gifts and see a few things we didn’t have time for the first time around including a visit to the Pokemon Center in the Sunshine City Mall! 

The place was decked out for Halloween with loads of specialty items. This place is like Candyland for Pokemon fanatics, so of course I picked up a haul of plushies, socks, hats, cards and other gifts for my Pokemon-crazed family back home. Love this place!

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Pikachu’s Halloween costume!

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7 Days in Tokyo: Day 5 – Ueno Park

Ueno is home to  Tokyo’s cultural treasures. The Tokyo National Museum (pictured above), The National Museum of Nature and Science and Ueno Zoo are all located on the grounds of Ueno Park – a famous cherry blossom spot in the spring.

After four straight days of racing around the city, we decided to slow down the tempo in this massive and picturesque park, starting with a visit to the Tokyo National Museum. We admired the incredible collection of Samurai swords, Buddhist statues and Japanese antiquities. We’d heard that if there’s one museum you decide to visit in Tokyo, make it this one, and it did not disappoint.

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We spent the rest of the day meandering along the tree-line paths, stopping here and there to view the temples, people-watch on the benches, and take-in a random and rowdy baseball game at the sports fields.

Before heading home, we had to make a stop for eel in the business district just outside the park. Mandatory!

7 Days in Tokyo: Day 4 – Imperial Palace & Diver City

IMPERIAL PALACE

The grounds of the Imperial Palace are stately and vast. So vast, in fact, we actually got lost looking for the palace itself, and I’m not entirely sure that we ever found it. The grounds that we did see, however, were impressive and perfectly manicured. The Imperial Palace is the residence of Japan’s Imperial family. TOURIST TIP: The east grounds are open to the public, but a guided tour of the inner grounds require a reservation ahead of time, which we didn’t have.

After leaving the grounds, it’s worth taking a short walk to view the facade of Tokyo Station (if you haven’t passed through already). It’s one of Japan’s busiest railway stations. We walked through the business district and stopped for lunch at a yakitori restaurant  where we slipped into the culture by slipping off our shoes.  The restaurant catered to the working crowd and the staff spoke little English. We fumbled our way through as humbly, and politely, as we could, pointing at something on the menu and hoping for the best. Luckily, we were in Tokyo and every meal was amazing, this one included. We walked away completely happy and grateful for the experience of  being totally out of our element. It gave me a new perspective on the challenges facing foreigners to my country.

Imperial Palace Guardhouse
Imperial Palace Grounds

DIVER CITY

For the most part, Diver City is your run of the mill shopping center with one notable (and larger-than-life-size) difference: a giant-ass statue of the robot Gundam. The mall is located on the man-made island of Odaiba. If shopping and robots aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other tourist attractions including a ferris wheel, a statue of liberty replica, and a beach.

7 Days in Tokyo: Day 3 – Shibuya

This was one of my favorite days in Tokyo. Clothes, cosmetics and souvenir shopping in Shibuya! We walked across the district’s famous pedestrian scramble, which is known as one of the busiest crosswalks in the world (pictured above). It was a totally shameless,  grin-inducing tourist moment. I think we went back and fourth 2 or 3 times and then – just like they tell you to do in the travel books – we went up to the second floor of a nearby Starbucks to get a timelapse video of the insane, walking-every-which-way mob of people.

HACHIKO STATUE

Before the shopping spree began, we made a stop at the statue I have been so desperate to pay my respects to: the Akita Hachiko. He’s remembered for his steadfast loyalty, and the story goes that for nine years after his owner’s death, Hachiko would go to Shibuya station every day to wait for his beloved master, just as he had done when his owner was alive. It was an emotional moment for me, and I’m so grateful that I finally got the chance to see the statue in person.

SHIBUYA 109

If you’re into fashion or clothes, you have to make a stop at Shibuya 109 in Shibuya. It’s one of the trendiest places to shop in Tokyo. It’s like a mall for boutique shops. Makeup, shoes, clothing, and accessory stores spiral around inside the tower. It’s eye candy for the fashionista. There’s also a separate tower just for men’s clothing. Some other stores I’d recommend include Uniqlo (for clothing) and Loft (for beautiful stationary and souvenir home goods like  chopsticks and sake cups).

SUSHI NOVA

This was an awesome sushi spot for lunch. You can order on a touch screen at your table (in English) and, like magic, your sushi appears in front of you on a conveyor belt. It was our favorite sushi spot in all of Tokyo!