'/> Sharing My Joy: 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Shoe Roundup

Happy official spring! I find it very ironic that as I write this, there are 3 inches of snow on the ground. Welcome to spring in the Midwest, I guess! The weather did warm up for a little bit and it felt great to change out of the snow boots for once. It got me very excited for spring shoes and I am definitely ready to do some shopping! I'm happy to see lots of sneakers and cute flat sandals out there, because comfort has become more important to me :) Some top trends on my wish list:

 - D'Orsay flats
 - Slip on sneakers
 - Simple sandals
 - Open toe booties
 - Gladiator sandals
 - Fun New Balance sneakers

Tell me what you're loving! And which trends you are excited to try!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Recipe: Maple Cinnamon Granola


I never really thought to make my own granola at home, but after seeing a couple of recipes online, I realized I had all the ingredients already on hand. It's super simple, and totally beats store bought. I didn't have any almonds, but next time I would definitely add in some extras to mix it up (there are lots of great possible combinations)!  This was great on top of yogurt, but also great alone mixed in with blueberries and almond milk. Give it a try :)

Maple Cinnamon Granola

3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 T brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (vegatable oil is ok too)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional Add-Ins

1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit (mix in after granola has cooled)
1/2 cup coconut flakes (mix in after granola has cooled)
1/2 cup chocolate chip (mix in after granola has cooled)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with baking spray.
2. In large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
3. In medium bowl, whisk together syrup, coconut oil and vanilla extract.
4. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Spread out in even layer on baking sheet.
6. Bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Recipe: Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos with Yogurt Lime Dipping Sauce


I have another meatless recipe to share! Lately I've been cooking more vegetarian meals, plus I have never really enjoyed working with raw meat at home anyway. This recipe is inspired by the sweet potato and black bean burrito from Beans and Barley, an awesome, locally-owned market/deli/cafe in Milwaukee that I used to frequent when I lived there. It turned out to be just like the one from the cafe - very flavorful and delicious! I love the the combination of black beans and sweet potatoes, and the Mexican flavors complement them well. Don't skip out on the dipping sauce either- it really makes it!  I also love how toasting them in the pan makes the tortillas nice and crispy. These were very easy to make, and they are super easy to refrigerate or freeze for leftovers!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos (makes 6)

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1 package minute rice (I used Uncle Ben's brown rice- shameless shortcut!)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 avocado (or guacamole)
1 cup Mexican cheese
large flour tortillas

1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lime


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet, spray or toss in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.
2. After potatoes are done, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add in sweet potatoes, corn, black beans and rice (after rice is heated in the microwave).
2. Add in spices and salt, heat over stove for about 10 minutes.
3. Heat saute or grill pan over medium heat to toast the burritos.
4. Heat the plain tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm to make them easier to stretch. Spoon in rice mixture into tortilla, add avocado and a spoonful of cheese and wrap burrito.
5. Add burrito to grill pan, toast on each side for about 5 minutes.
6. Mix yogurt with lime juice as a dipping sauce.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Recipe: Hot and Spicy Cheesy Pull Apart Bread


Anyone who has spent time with me in Madison, Wisconsin knows that I have a deep (slightly unhealthy) obsession with Stella's Hot and Spicy Cheese Bread. Stella's is a bakery in Madison, but they sell their bread at the farmer's market on the Capitol square on Saturdays mornings - and if I'm there, I HAVE to pick some up (to share, of course - and preferably on the way to a Badger football game). Served warm, it's quote "the perfect buttery blend of red pepper, chives, provolone and monterey jack cheeses, and our secret sweet dough that melts in your mouth." Say no more. I had to attempt to recreate it at home, but instead of making the dough from scratch, I followed this pull-apart bread recipe and altered it a bit. It wasn't quite like getting a warm loaf from the farmer's market, but I will say it was a good stand-in when I can't be there! There is nothing not to love about warm, cheesy goodness. Perfect for a tailgate or football watching party!

1 large loaf Italian bread (or sourdough)
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 ounces provolone cheese, shredded or sliced (about a cup)
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about a cup)
2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more!)
1 Tb fresh chives, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a sheet of foil with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Cut a cross-hatch pattern into the top of the bread by slicing ½-inch grid lines into the bread, stopping about ¼-inch from the bottom of the bread so that it stays together. Place the bread on the piece of foil that has been sprayed.
3. Combine the cheese, chives and red pepper flakes in a bowl, set aside.
4. Gently separate the bread with your fingers, then spoon the butter mixture in all of the seams, making sure it is evenly distributed among the whole loaf. Wrap the loaf up in the foil and place on a baking stone or directly on the oven rack and bake for 10 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
6. Open the foil and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the bread. Push down as much as you can in between all of the crevices in the bread. Leave the foil open and return it to the oven. Bake until the cheese is completely melted, bubbling and starting to brown on top, about 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

If you're looking for a recipe for the loaf from scratch, try this!

Stella's Stand at the Dane County Farmers' Market on Capitol Square

Serving up the hot bread




Monday, February 9, 2015

Recipe: Eggplant Polenta Lasagna


I have a great recipe to share on this Meatless Monday! This one was introduced to me several years ago by one of my vegetarian friends. You will not miss the meat in this at all - and you don't even have to cook any pasta. Simply layer eggplant, polenta, sauce and cheese and then bake. Super simple and delicious! You could easily add additional veggies in, or even a layer of pesto would be good!

1 large eggplant
1 package (18 oz) pre cooked polenta
1 24 oz jar of tomato pasta sauce of your choice
16 oz fresh mozzarella (pre sliced package is easy!)

1. Slice eggplant and polenta into 1/4 inch slices.
2. Lightly panfry both eggplant and polenta slices in olive oil, set aside.
3. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan.
4. Arrange a layer of polenta on bottom of pan. Follow with eggplant, cheese and sauce, continuing to alternate layers.
5. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Let cool, top with fresh basil.

*Note: You can use shredded or block mozzarella instead of fresh.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Recipe: Hot Toddy


There is something I love about a warm drink in the winter spiked with a little booze - Irish coffee, hot chocolate, cider - they are all favorites by me. They warm you from the inside out! The calories can add up quickly in those though, that's why I love a good Hot Toddy. Lower in calories AND said to relieve the symptoms of a cold or flu! It has been so cold here in Chicago, and it seems like everyone is coming down with something.  It's traditionally made with a mixture of whiskey (bourbon, brandy or rum work too), boiling water, and honey or sugar. Lemon, cinnamon or other spices (cloves, allspice) can also be added. Tea can be used in place of water too. The lemon has vitamin C, the honey soothes and the alcohol numbs! I know it's worked for me before :)

January 11th was official "National Hot Toddy Day", but I will go ahead an unofficially declare the entire month of January as National Hot Toddy Month :) Healthy or not, enjoy a warm Hot Toddy this weekend! And if you are sick, let me know if it helps!

Classic Hot Toddy

1 Tb honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 oz whiskey or bourbon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
hot water

Put bourbon, honey, cinnamon stick and lemon juice in a mug. Top off with hot water and stir until honey is dissolved.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Recipe: Egg White Muffins with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes


I don't know about you, but the new year is always a reminder to get healthy eating back on track. I don't really do resolutions, but January is always a good month to get back into a healthy routine. Eggs are a great healthy breakfast that always keep me full all morning, but I don't always have time to cook them. Enter: egg muffins. This idea is not new, but it was my first time trying them. They are super easy, you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand, and they reheat really well! You could easily use whole eggs, but I chose to buy a carton of egg whites since it was so simple. I chopped up some spinach and broccoli, added some sun-dried tomatoes and of course, some cheese. You could add in meat if you want (bacon, ham, etc) or whatever other combo you'd like. It was great to have these on hand to heat up for breakfast for the whole week!

Egg Muffins (makes 9)

1 carton egg whites
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup chopped broccoli
4 Tb goat cheese (or whatever cheese you like)
4 Tb sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
any additional ingredients you have on hand!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pan with nonstick spray.
2. Distribute veggies and cheese into each muffin tin. Pour egg whites over ingredients so they fill to the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese



Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe and fun New Year's Eve celebrating with friends and family! I brought these little nuggets of delight to the party I went to and they were a hit :) You can't go wrong with these. They are so simple to assemble and a great last minute appetizer if you need one while watching football today!

1 package pitted dates (about 30)
1 package bacon (10 slices), sliced in thirds widthwise
4 oz goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. With a knife, stuff date with a small amount of cheese. Wrap bacon around date and secure with toothpick. Arrange on a shallow baking sheet.
2. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Turn dates over with tongs and bake an additional 10 minutes or until bacon is crisp.