Happy 30th to me (plus a celebratory virtual sweet for you!)

I’d like to think I’m pretty mature for my age and for the past few weeks I’ve been saying that I don’t feel like I’m a 20-something anyway so might as well make it official. Yet last night at 11:35pm when I realized that I was minutes away from turning THIRTY, all of a sudden it hit me. I’m going to be officially an adult. Twenty nine sounds kind of like 26, yet 30 sounds nothing like 29 and more like 35. It’s a huge difference. I guess I’m really a woman now, no longer a girl (does that sound like a Britney Spears song to anyone, or am I aging myself here? lol). Despite a mini freak-out in my head every time I think about being 30, I am rationally completely ok with this. I am an adult. I own my own business that I built from nothing for goodness sake; I have an amazing husband, a great condo and really a lot of accomplishments to be proud of. So I’m celebrating today by working (because I love my job and I made it happen!!!), working out (because taking care of my body = taking care of me) and then enjoying a crazy awesome chef’s tasting dinner at Craigie on Main that Adam is treating me too. Hey, can a twenty one year old do that? Probably not! Smile

strawberry lemon shortcake

Oh and remember that 30 by 30 list I made when I turned 29? It was one hefty list and I got through most of it (and I’m ok with whatever I didn’t get to – I’m sure in my thirties I’ll learn even more about prioritizing in life and letting go of perfection). Check the link to the original post for updates on my progress.

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Last but not least – what’s a birthday celebration without something sweet? It’s spring so I’m sharing this light strawberry lemon shortcake dessert. I made it a few weeks ago for a spring-themed dinner with Shannon and Kerstin. It was light and refreshing and everyone really enjoyed it (including myself). Strawberry shortcake is actually one of Adam’s favorites so I know I’ll be making it again this summer with local strawberries.

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Happy birthday to me!!

How have you guys been? Any fun desserts consumed lately? I need to know! Winking smile

Chicken sausage and veggie stuffed manicotti

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When it comes to losing weight, I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s rarely as easy as knowing what to do and just following through. Our lives get in the way, our emotions get the best of us, and then there are these cravings that seem to come out of no where (you haven’t had pizza in years and all of a sudden that’s all you can think of, now that it’s “off limits.” <– this is of course hypothetical because I eat pizza at least once a month ;) ) So yes, it’s a journey. Sometimes on a long and winding road. We, I,  may fall and backtrack but it’s important to get back up and keep moving forward. My favorite way to do that is by preparing something crazy delicious that tastes completely sinful but is actually quite good for you!  And of course I believe that no matter your health goals, it’s really important to satisfy cravings! Always and forever. No carrot sticks for dinner in this household (although I am having carrot fries with oven fried chicken tonight)!!

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This (chicken) sausage and veggie stuffed manicotti was Italian comfort food at its best without the artery clogging or calorie busting properties (by the way, I’m back to calorie counting to get into tip top summer… or 30th birthday… shape). I started following the above linked recipe from Cooking Light but decided to cut the amount of sausage down by 1/3, and then ramped up the veggies. Italian food is good like that – once you cover it in cheese and sauce, it will all be gobbled up in no time!

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So after browning the sausage for a few minutes, in went a whole container of chopped mushrooms, one yellow bell pepper and a few minutes later – 2 cups of baby spinach. The hardest part was not eating this whole mixture before stuffing it into manicotti! I persevered (even though it was a bit time consuming) and eventually dinner was on the table. Man, this was goooood!

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My changes created even lighter manicotti (220 cals/pop) full of delicious nutrients. Between the spicy sausage, loads of veggies, tangy tomato sauce, creamy bechamel (made with skim milk!) and cheese, it definitely felt like a treat. Adam said this was the best meal I’ve made in a while (although he says it often ;) ). This dish would be a great contender for my cooking parties because it would be fun to make as a team while chatting away (perhaps with a glass of red wine!). I’m thinking an easier and quicker version may be coming next though for those of us that don’t find an hour+ of hands-on cooking relaxing.

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Oh and did I mention this meal is freezer friendly and reheats beautifully? All that time paid off for sure! :)

How much time do you usually spend making a meal?

PS- There is just one day left of the thinkThin giveaway – make sure you enter it! :)

Quick and cheap: egg salad BLT

Hi friends, how’s life? Did you watch the Boston Marathon? I’m always so proud that this amazing race is in my city. And since I live very close to the finish line, I always get a little emotional seeing all the runners. I know how close they are to this incredible accomplishment and I’m so so excited for them!

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Anyways, the marathon was the highlight of my week so far but the rest of the week as always revolved around food.  Since I do a lot of recipe testing for my express lunch time lessons, I wanted to share one of my favorite quick and cheap recipes that’s perfect for lunch or a casual dinner – an egg salad BLT. This recipe was originally featured in Best of Cooking Light and it was love at first bite. I adore how light yet creamy the egg salad is, and the addition of lemon zest really brightens it up. Also, I’ve used nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on many occasions and it works wonderfully.

Side note: Martha Stewart’s method for hard-boiled eggs creates perfect eggs every time.

The best part? The contrast between creamy eggs, juicy tomatoes and crispy, salty, smoky bacon. Oh yes! :)

egg salad BLT

What are your favorite quick and cheap recipes? Please share with all of us in the comments!

 

 

 

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