Friday, September 19, 2014

Pizza Knots

Fridays were made for eating (homemade) pizza and whoever decided that this was a rule should be crowned. Most Fridays, our homemade pizza tradition continues and it's a meal we look forward to all week long. 

These sweet little pizza knots have joined the Friday night pizza party and we are obsessed. They are the perfect little pre-pizza bites and oh so decadent when dipped in our favorite olive oils. We set up a little dipping station and enjoy these while we wait for the giant pies to come out of the oven. 

If we are having company, I typically make one batch of my Neapolitan Pizza Dough plus an extra half batch. One batch makes two large pizzas and I use the half batch for the knots. If it's just Mark and I eating, I make one batch of dough, making one large pizza and a bunch of knots.

Pizza Knots

1/2 batch of my Neapolitan Pizza Dough 
Olive oil, for brushing
Coarse salt
Olive oil, for dipping
Marinara, for dipping

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees.

Once the dough has risen, divide accordingly. With the dough that has been set aside for knots, I cut in half, then those halves in half, etc., etc., yielding 16-24 smaller balls of dough. Roll each piece out to about 5-6" pieces and knot. 

When the oven has reached 500 degrees, pull out the pizza stone. Place the knots on the stone and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake for 7-8 minutes. 

Serve, dip and enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Zoodles with Sausage, Cannellini Bean + Roasted Eggplant Ragout

We are crazy for zoodles in this house! I absolutely love this healthy alternative to pasta dishes and as they have gained more popularity on many healthy eating blogs, it's been fun to gather new recipes to incorporate into our dinner rotation. 

I've been playing around with some of my favorite pasta recipes and subbing in zoodles. While zucchini noodles aren't quite as good as indulging in the real thing, they are still SO GOOD. With hearty, saucy dishes, you almost can't even tell that the noodles you're twirling on your fork are made from a vegetable.

This Rachel Ray recipe was a staple in the apartment I shared with my dear friend, Ashley. The sauce tastes even better the second day and last night, I added some roasted eggplant for a little bit of a different texture. Eggplant seems to scare some away, but it is one of my favorite vegetables to roast. I love the buttery texture and the simple flavors when it's roasted with a robust olive oil and salt and pepper. Cooking Light is featuring some great techniques this month to give you more inspiration for incorporating this purple vegetable into your menu. 

Sausage, White Bean and Roasted Eggplant Ragout + Zoodles
recipe adapted from Rachel Ray

1.5 lbs. sweet pork Italian sausage, removed from casing
1 can (14.5 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
Handful fresh basil, chiffonade
1 small eggplant, cut into large chunks
3-4 zucchinis, spiralized or cut using a mandoline slicer
Olive oil
Salt + pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl, toss the chopped eggplant with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (to help with sticking) and spread eggplant evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until eggplant is soft and roasted.

In a large, heavy bottom sauce pan on medium heat, cook sausage. Break up the meat as it browns. When the sausage is cooked, add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, beans, basil and season with salt and pepper, and turn heat down to low. Cover and let the sauce simmer. 

Once your zoodles have been cut, place in a large saute pan and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil. Saute for 3-5 minutes, using tongs to turn and toss, until zoodles are slightly soft.

When the eggplant is done cooking, mix in with the sauce and toss in zoodles! Garnish with freshly grated Romano and red pepper flakes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Roasted Balsamic Vegetables + Grilled Chicken Kale Bowl

 This kale bowl is everything. I like to think of it as my idea of a perfect healthy meal. I took the flavors from one of my favorite early recipes and revamped them into this healthy, one dish dinner. Kale bowls are one of our favorite go-to meals. It's a great way to use up any fresh vegetables that you have on hand, just finish it up with a piece of grilled protein and you have a complete meal! I finished this one off with some lightly toasted panko for extra crunch and it added the perfect bite! And if you really want to add some extra punch, roast a few garlic cloves to throw in. 

Use your judgement with the veggie amounts. I roast enough for each bowl plus a little extra for lunch the next day.  your week off to a healthy start with this hearty and healthy bowl of goodness!

Roasted Balsamic Vegetables + Grilled Chicken Kale Bowl

Roasted Vegetables:
Eggplant, diced
Cauliflower, cut into florets
4 carrots, cut into 1" pieces
Red onion, quartered
Plum tomatoes, quartered
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt + pepper, to taste

Grilled Chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt + pepper

Kale, washed and torn
1/4 cup panko, toasted

Mix olive oil, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Transfer to a large ziploc bag with the chicken breast. Marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper. 

Toss vegetables in a bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and light salt and pepper to season. Spread evenly on baking sheet or roasting pan and roast for 35-40 minutes. 

While the vegetables cook, grill the chicken either outside, or indoors on a grill pan. The chicken should be 170 degrees in the center at the thickest part.

To toast panko, spread evenly on a small skillet on medium heat, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss frequently, for 5-7 minutes, until panko is toasted.

Once vegetables are done, prep your bowls! Layer kale, vegetables and top with sliced chicken breast. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted panko. 

If you want more of a dressing to finish off your kale, try using this Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Pecorino as the your kale base.

Monday, September 8, 2014

#TeamLovie26: Weeks One & Two

Well, the first two weeks of half marathon training are complete! I've been in a steady groove for a few months now, but mentally, I like knowing that from here on out, all of my runs are preparing me for something. It's so much better when you have a goal to work towards. I am using Runkeeper to track my runs and for the most part, I really like it. I have it at my fingertips on my phone and can also log into the website to look at my logged activities as well.  

My runs are feeling great and Saturday's five miler was the first time I felt like I had to push myself a little bit harder. It was a great feeling! I have a feeling that seven and eight miles will feel like a huge accomplishment in a couple of weeks. The weather continues to be H-O-T here in Charlotte, and as the miles go up, I'm looking forward to come crisp air! I try not to pay attention to my pace too much while I'm running, but every mile or so, Runkeeper likes to let me know how I'm doing. Here's what the past two weeks looked like:

13 miles (3.22 miles, 9:54)Rest3 miles (3.28 miles, 9:38)Rest3 miles (4.00 miles, 9:38)4 miles (4 mile hike in Boone!)4 miles (3.26 miles, 9:36)13.76 miles
23 miles (3.23 miles, 9:57)Rest4 miles (4.17 miles, 9:49)Rest3 miles (3.11 miles, 9:08)5 miles (5.02 miles, 9:04)Rest15.71miles

We spent last weekend in Boone for a wedding, so I flip flopped my longer run and did it on Sunday when we got home. Speaking of our trip to Boone, Mark ran his first full half marathon while we were up there! It was a last minute decision, but it was so exciting. He had 12 miles on his training schedule for the weekend and was truly dreading a 12 mile run on Sunday evening when we got home. The Triple Crown High Country Half Marathon just happened to be last weekend and he decided to go for it. He signed up the morning of the race and finished in 1 hour and 57 minutes! I couldn't be more proud!

This week of running is off to a slow start. I woke up with a sniffly nose and a sore throat, so I am resting today with hopes that I can start week 3 tomorrow!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School/Back to Your Routine: Healthy Breakfast and Snack Prep!

I’m not quite sure where the summer went, but the kids are up bright and early, standing at the bus stop and the school buses are zooming by. Whether you have kids in school or not, the back to school season is always a great time of year to get back into a routine and add a little more organization to your life.

I’m not into freezer cooking, and rarely make batches of food ahead of time, but lately, I’m finding that having some healthy breakfast and snack options ready to go for the week is a great way to stay on track. It also saves time when my hungry little baby is trying to climb up into his high chair himself and is READY to eat!

As part of Cooking Light’s Bloggers’ Connection themed monthly linkup, I dug through my blog archives to pull out some of my favorite make ahead breakfast and snack staples. This month it’s Back to School/Back to Your Routine!

1. {Cinnamon Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins} One of my most recent posts, these muffins make a wonderful breakfast or even a mid-afternoon snack. They are a great pre or post workout snack as well! Use the recipe as a base and add your favorite muffin mix-ins!

2. {Paleo Snack Bites} Oh, how we love these! I make a batch or two weekly to keep on hand for snacking. These are my ideal pre-morning run snack when I go early. I eat one or two about 15 minutes before I leave. They also cure a sweet craving after dinner if you are trying to avoid the ice cream carton in the freezer.

3. {Paleo Waffles} Recently, I quadrupled the pancake recipe and poured it in my waffle maker. In five minutes, I had four days worth of breakfast for the little guy! I cook them in the waffle maker on the highest setting. Once they are cool, I cut into individual waffles, separate each one with wax paper, and place in a giant freezer bag to freeze. When we’re ready to eat them, I pop them in the toaster and serve with fresh fruit!

4. {Chia Pudding} Easily my favorite breakfast right now. This is another one that I will triple, even quadruple, and have a few days worth of breakfasts made for the week! I mix up individual servings in mason jars and shake, shake, shake! Lately, I’m finding that 1 Tbsp. per ¼ cup liquid yields the best consistency. I just use unsweetened almond milk, chia seeds, lots of cinnamon and top with fresh berries right before eating. This is a filling and nutritious breakfast. Chia pudding is also a great afternoon snack!

5. {Pumpkin Spice Granola} As sad as I am about the dwindling Summer days, I am excited that the pumpkin season is upon us! Although a bit time consuming, this pumpkin spice granola is worth every minute of prep work! Perfect for breakfast sprinkled on top of Greek yogurt, or a handful to hold you over until dinnertime.

6. {Hummus} The ultimate snack food! A big batch will last us a week or so in the fridge. I keep vegetable dippers on hand for snacking or enjoy some spread on Ezekial bread for a simple lunch. Lemon + Dill White Bean and Roasted Beet are our favorites.

For more healthy snacking ideas, check out this post from 2012.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Olive Oil + Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies

You guys. 


Every now and then, I find myself needing a cookie. The craving comes on fiercely and nothing else seems to do. I have always loved cookies, but it wasn't until I discovered the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies that I truly appreciated the art of cookie baking. Since my obsession with cookies blossomed, these Snickerdoodles stole my heart, and most recently, these chocolatey little loves right here. 

A dear friend of mine took a healthy helping of gelato and sandwiched it between two of these cookies. She's a genius.

Olive oil gives a richness that isn't always present in cookie batter and surprisingly, the taste isn't overpowering once the cookie is baked. And sea salt on top favorite component of a perfect cookie. A little chewy on the outside but soft and chocolatey on the inside. Basically, 50% cookie, 50% brownie and 100% impossible to just stop at one. 

I'm now wishing I had a batch of these already made so that I could sit down, Santa-style, and enjoy a few with an ice cold glass of milk. I don't even like milk

Olive Oil + Sea Salt Brownie Cookies
recipe from Butterlust

1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. hot water
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1.5 cups 60% cocoa dark chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is my favorite)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the olive and sugar and mix on medium until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well between each one. Add the cocoa powder, flour and salt and mix until a dough forms. 

In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda into the hot water. Add the dissolved baking soda and water mixture as well as the vanilla to the batter, and beat until just combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes or overnight. 

Using a tablespoon, scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough onto your cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are set. 11 minutes was the perfect amount of time in my oven. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I've written this post in my head over many, many miles of running but as November nears, and since my official training plan starts this week, it's time to put my thoughts into a post. On November 2, I will be running my first half marathon in Raleigh! I've been putting in a lot of miles lately and trying to get on a good running schedule in order to prepare myself for the many more miles ahead.

The decision to run this half marathon was not completely my own. My west coast sister is coaching my sister Andi to run her first FULL MARATHON through Saucony's 26 Strong program. My littlest sister and I decided it would be more fun to run with them halfway to the finish line so here we are. We have collected a few other lovies along the way to run 13.1 with us make things even better...Mark is also running the full 26.2! I can already feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins when I think about our big day in Raleigh at the City of Oaks Marathon/Half Marathon

When I started really working out in college, I remember feeling like I would never be able to run ten minutes on a treadmill. Shortly after I got into a good routine, paired with smarter eating, I ran my first 8k (The Charlotte Turkey Trot) and I felt the biggest sense of accomplishment. My body transformed in ways that I could have never imagined and I was better for it, both inside and out. Over the years, living a healthy and active lifestyle has been something I am passionate about. 

Most of my runs during the week are done pushing Will in the BOB and I honestly believe it has helped my running tremendously. I've decreased my average pace on my solo runs and overall I feel like I am able to push myself a bit harder. While I was pregnant, I ran up until about 30 weeks or so. Even after that, I did light jogging combined with lots of power walking. I remained active throughout my entire pregnancy and I thought that I would be back in the swing in no time, but with an unexpected c-section, my recovery took a little longer than planned. I got back in the groove slowly and really listened to my body. It was mentally hard knowing that I couldn't give my body that extra push I was used to, but giving myself the proper time to rest was so important. By the time Will was 6 months old and big enough to ride while I ran, I started out slow. My friend Julie introduced me to her interval training and it seriously was the best thing ever! Run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute. This was the greatest way for me to get back into a good running routine and kept me feeling strong. Slowly, I was able to lengthen my minutes of running and before long, I was back to solid 3 and 4 mile runs 4-5 times per week. 

I'm looking forward to pushing myself and having a goal to work towards. It's been so much fun having all of the running lovies to pump each other up on a daily basis! We check in often and encourage each other on the days that we are just not feeling it. I know that there will be great days and there will be days that I'll wonder how I will ever make it 13.1 miles, but I'm up for the challenge. Here's to pushing my limits, positive self talk and overcoming mental barriers. 

Get stoked. (that was for you, lovies)