Stuffed shells with pumpkin sauce

I found a recipe in Rachael Ray Everday magazine that sounded absolutely delicious.  It was Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with a ground beef mixture drenched in a pumpkin cheese sauce and baked.  I was dying to try it but decided that if I was going to make it I had to majorly reduce the fat content.  By substituting ground turkey for beef, adding extra vegetables and subtracting the cheese I concocted my own version that turned out perfectly tasty and just as satisfying.

15 Jumbo pasta shells (cook as directed on package)
1/2 large red or white onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 package frozen spinach (thawed, with excess water squeezed out)
1/2 lb lean ground turkey
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup pumpkin
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

1. Saute the onion over medium heat in the butter until soft and aromatic
2. Once the onions are soft add the turkey into the pan. Cook, breaking up the pieces until all the turkey is browned.
3. Add the spinach to the mixture and sprinkle the garlic powder and salt.  Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes stirring until all ingredients are combined.
4. Preheat the over to 400 degrees.
5. In a separate pot boil the chicken broth.  Once the broth is boiling stir in the pumpkin. When well combined sprinkle the flour into the mixture and stir until flour is well combined.
6. Use the spinach and turkey mixture to stuff the jumbo shells and place in a baking dish.
7. Sprinkle remaining turkey mixture over the shells and cover with the pumpkin sauce.

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Packed up for dinner at work :)


Shrimp and Grits

In honor of my upcoming trip south (heading to Nashville in 10 days) I decided a southern breakfast was in order.  It was a nice change up in my usual breakfast routine and filled me up with plenty of protein to fuel me through the day.

1 packet instant grits, butter flavored (follow directions on package)
1/2 cup small-medium shrimp
garlic powder
1/2 tsp olive oil
cooking spray
tabasco sauce

1. Heat a pan over medium heat.
2. Toss peeled, deveined shrimp in a bowl with sprinkle of salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil until well coated.
3. Place shrimp in pan and cook approximately 2 minutes in each side or until shrimp curl and turn pink.
4. Place grits in bowl and arrange shrimp on top of grits. Sprinkle with tabasco as desired.

Weight loss

As of today I have officially lost 12 pounds in 8 weeks!  Going strong.  Hopefully more outfit posts will come after I hit my goal!


Health kick

As of tomorrow I will have officially been following the online weight watchers plan for 8 weeks.  I've noticed myself getting more tired of the same old foods but am determined to prove that healthy food can be delicious and exciting.  Hence the turkey burgers and pumpkin orzo from a few entries prior.  I needed a snack this evening and in searching for what would fit with the plan and provide me some nutrition this is what I came up with.

A half cup of nonfat greek yogurt, raspberries and 1 tsp. of honey drizzled over it all.  Delicious.

Das Oktoberfest

The longstanding German tradition of Oktoberfest has manifested in the United States in the form of pop up beer festivals highlighting local brews all over the country.  D.C. is not short in the number of festivals to choose from.  This Saturday I attended "Das Best Oktoberfest" at the National Harbor with some friends and oh what a time was had. Between the tasty beers and food and live music a blast was had by all.

Marisa and I posing in front of the Oktoberfest sign

Traditional Oktoberfest cookies, which according to Marisa's boyfriend actually say nice things in Germany but here they say things like "DTF" and "Single and Ready to Mingle"

A bevy of brews to sample

Crispy Fried Pickles

Allison sporting an Oktoberfest flower crown

Sweet Fried Funnel Cake


Turkey burgers

My first few ventures into turkey burgers were not fruitful.  Homemade poultry burgers have always been a dry flavorless experience for me.  Enter food networks Anne Burrell who provided this recipe for juicy, savory turkey burgers that to date are the best turkey burgers I have ever had.

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • One 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1. Saute onions in olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat until tender and aromatic, approximately 5 minutes
2. Once onions are soft put garlic into pan and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with an additional 1/4 cup of water. Make sure that everything is well incorporated.
4. Add additional olive oil to the pan that was used to saute the onion and put over medium heat.
5. Form mixture into patties and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes per side.

Toast up a bun, top with whatever you like (cheese, tomato, lettuce, dressing, the possibilities are endless!)


Pumpkin orzo

This delicious autumn dish is super easy to make and incredibly rich and delicious.  I watched Paula Dean make it while I was drinking my morning coffee curled up on the couch and decided instantly I had to make it this week and post the recipe.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

1 1/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp fresh ground ginger (or substitute for a sprinkle of powdered ginger)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup uncooked orzo

1. Combine all ingredients, except orzo, in medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil

2. Add orzo and reduce heat to a simmer
3. Cook stirring often for approximately 15 minutes or until orzo is tender
4. Garnish with a basil or mint leaf if desired and serve


Who I am right now....

I am....

a grad student
a labor and delivery nurse
stressed out
on a diet
8 pounds lighter than a month ago
excited for the future
going to be a nurse practitioner (in 3 years)
looking forward to a casual movie with my best friend tonight
not cooking anything interesting
angry at my neighbor who can't control his aggressive dog
sweaty from the gym
going to take a shower
going to post something interesting soon I promise

in love with this picture of Eddie and my friends daughter Layla