“One of the smartest things you can do on ‘Chopped’ is to take one of those ingredients and make a pickle out of it, because almost every dish benefits from that. I’m feeling like those intuitions are becoming more natural.” – Ted Allen

Hey there – hope all is well!

I’ve definitely been enjoying my summer and I hope you have too!  Wedding plans are coming along well.  The ceremony is going to be at St. Thomas More Church where Siena Catholic Academy is located and where I used to go to school.  The reception will be at Oak Hill Country Club… A country club!  Not really me, I know, right?  Well, when we found a sponsor and able to see the inside of the place, I fell in love.  Oak Hill is gorgeous!  And it’s where the PGA is this year.  Also, the priest that baptized me and was with me throughout all my Catholic sacraments is presiding at my wedding!  It’s nice to have a priest that you actually know – the ceremony will feel more personal that way.

I got another job since my dietary consulting job is just part-time and I am not going back to school next semester.  I have to pay loans =(  Oh well, it’s not too bad.  I’m just so glad they’re from MCC and not from a four year school – would be a lot more.  And I’m very glad that Alex has no school loans… Oh the joys of being an A+ student… Which I am far from, haha!

I am extremely excited for my new job – assistant coaching for McQuaid Jesuit crew!!  I’ve missed crew so much.  I don’t care if I’m not rowing, at least I am involved with the team and back in that type of environment – I can’t wait to teach those boys.  It’s going to be so much fun!

McQuaid Alumni boat

McQuaid Alumni boat on the Genesee River

My arm workouts have definitely been paying off and I can really see a difference.  Now I just want to get my legs more toned and I have the perfect way of doing that – ergingMy wonderful fiance purchased an early birthday gift for me – Concept2 Model D!


What is an erg, you say?  An erg, or ergo-meter is an indoor rowing machine.  Yup!  I can row indoors.  Granted, it’s not like Pittsford crew where they basically have an indoor rowing pool, but it’s something!  I haven’t been on an erg in so long – it’s going to hurt, haha, but I’m still excited =)

My garden has been growing like crazy!  I’ve already had a couple zucchini, super-chili peppers, cucumbers and this weekend the eggplant and cherry tomatoes will probably be ready to harvest!  I’m so excited for my eggplant, it’s a Japanese type of eggplant that is skinny and has a thin skin – sounds tasty.

Growing Japanese eggplant

Growing Japanese eggplant

It's blurry because I was too excited to stay still - my first picks of my garden - cucumber and zucchini!

It’s blurry because I was too excited to stay still – my first picks of my garden – cucumber and zucchini!



Remember me talking about Back to the Roots and the mushroom kit and AquaFarm?  Well, I can’t remember either but they came and they’re awesome!  This mushroom kit grows so many freaking mushrooms it’s amazing.  It’s fast, easy and clean!  You also get quite a bit of mushrooms out of just that one box.  My AquaFarm is pretty cool too – it’s a self-cleaning fish tank.  The fish feed the plants with it’s poo and the plants clean the water. I have a few seeds sprouting and my beta, named Reuben, loves how big it is.  And it comes with 3 packets of free seeds from Seeds of Change.  I just can’t wait to have kids so I can show all this fun stuff to them!

Just a few days after opening!

Just a few days after opening!

In as little as 10 days, you could be harvesting you’re own Oyster mushrooms!  They grow FAST!

This is just ONE DAY after the previous picture. I told you, they grow really fast!!!

This is just ONE DAY after the previous picture. I told you, they grow really fast!!!

Saute them with some onions, chicken and wine and you have a delicious main course!

Anyway, that’s enough about me – I’ve got a delicious cucumber pickling recipe to share!

Anyone watch Portlandia?  Check out this video…

My cucumber plant has been producing so many and I never know what to do with them.  I asked Alex if he likes sweet pickles and I decided to make some of my own.  My Gramma used to make deliciously sweet pickles when I was little.  This is not the same recipe but it’s just as tasty.  All I did was look at a few recipes online and added some spices that I’ve had with other things that were pickled in restaurants (I recently had pickled peaches and they were DE-LICIOUS).  It’s really very simple – slice the cucumbers and pour everything else over it in a big jar.  Doesn’t get easier than that!

A messy jar of pickling things

A messy jar of pickling things

Refrigerated Quick-Pickle Cucumbers


1 – 32oz. mason jar

3 small-medium cucumbers, sliced thin

1 medium-large shallot

3 small garlic cloves, peeled & whole

10 small allspice berries, whole

6 cloves, whole

1/2 cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp. mustard seeds, whole

6 Tbsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. Kosher salt

4 1/2 shot glasses (~6-7oz.) of distilled vinegar

cold water


  1. Wash cucumber.  Take a fork and scrape long marks down the cucumber – all around it.  Slice thin, then toss in the mason jar.
  2. Slice shallot and add to jar along with the garlic cloves.
  3. Add spices, sugar and salt.
  4. Add the vinegar then add cold water until everything is submerged.
  5. Give it a good SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE until the sugar and salt dissolves.
  6. Store in fridge for 24 hours before eating.
  7. Check on it every once in a while.  If the cucumbers have absorbed some of the liquid you may need to add more vinegar (at least I had to).
Top left corner:Just spices. Center:Added sugar&salt. Bottom left:Finished product.

Top left corner:Just spices. Center:Added sugar&salt. Bottom left:Finished product.

I actually just made this yesterday so I haven’t tasted it yet.  But, I did try the brine and it tasted like sweet-salty-tangy-vinegar… YUM!  Also, I didn’t have a cinnamon stick on hand but if I did I would have added it.  Maybe I’ll get some today and add it to the jar.

Interesting fact – The phrase “in a pickle” was first introduced by Shakespeare in his play, The Tempest. The quotes read, “How cam’st thou in this pickle?” and “I have been in such a pickle.”

Pickles are seriously one of my favorite snacks ever.  My friend Kelly and I used to talk about how much we love pickles in high school, hahaha, weird, I know but that’s just how Mercy girls are.

Let me know what you think of these – and I’ll do the same!

What’s your favorite food to pickle?

What type of pickle do you prefer – dill or sweet?


Posted in 30 minutes or less, DIY, Fitfluential FOOD, Gardening, No-cook, Rowing, Seasonal, Snacks, Summer, Sustainable, Wedding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Strawberry swisha sweets with my aston flying, bumping, Slim Dunkin trying to live this life of mine.” – Rick Ross

Hey, everybody!  Long time, no see!

I guess I haven’t had an entry since January!  Wow, has it really been that long?  There’s just been a lot of stupid, unnecessary sh-t going on and I haven’t been able to muster up the concentration to sit down and write.  I am hoping now that this month is over everything will not be so stressful.  I swear one of the only things that really helps is that I eat healthy.  What you put inside your body affects you mentally, physically and emotionally.

I’ve also been doing my arm exercises so I don’t have any flabby flab come November 2, hahaha.  I started noticing a difference right away, I wish I took a before picture.  My arms are lookin’ gooooooooood and I’m likin’ it!  Hehe!

My best friend/matron of honor came in from SF, California last weekend and hosted the best bridal shower I could ask for last Sunday at her parents house – they have a gorgeous, historic house that is directly across the street from the George Eastman house.  She and the other bridesmaids really put a lot of thought and work into that day.  Small, intimate and delicious food.  They made my favorite drink – Gilded Rickey from (my favorite) restaurant Good Luck.  They even gave chocolate favors from Hedonist chocolates!  AAANNDD I was given a gift card to the DelMonte SpaThey really went above and beyond of what I expected.  I have the best bridesmaids and friends ever 🙂

My fiance’s Nonna passed away in May (RIP) and the house she lived in was left to Alex’s mother.  It turns out that we can live there!  Granted, the whole place needs to be remodeled but I am excited to modernize the inside of that house – it really needs some interior decorating.  The house is literally around the corner from his apartment now, I’ve already started a mini garden with beefsteak, cherry & San Marzano tomatoes, basil, chilies, bell peppers, zucchini, cucumber and a few herbs.  There are already onion, garlic, parsley, grapevines and pear trees in the backyard!  I cannot wait to move in…  I definitely have to start sprouting some seeds for a fall crop soon.

20130620-213003.jpgThe pear tree’s little cute buds!

(I’ve got to get more pictures of my garden… It’s getting huge!  So many blossoms, already have little baby peppers and tomatoes coming in.  I am so excited and can’t wait to eat everything!)

So… I started making my registry a few months ago and I keep finding more things that are just so freaking cool.  Did you know Williams-Sonoma has chicken coops for sale?!  I TOTALLY WANT CHICKENS!  Chickens are so funny.  My neighbors have 4 and sometimes they let them wander into our backyard.  They’ll come right up to you, look at you and make these funny noises…  The coops expensive though…  I put it on my registry anyway, HAHA!  I know no one is going to get it for me but hey, a girl can dream, right?  Maybe I’ll just build my own…

Personally, summer means gardening, grilling and fruit picking.  I have my plants in the ground, I’ve started grilling a long time ago, and I had my first (and second!) fruit picking of the season!


Alex and I went to Gro-Moore Farms to pick strawberries.  My parents always took me there when I was younger and it seems that they’re one of the few farms that has a consistently good crop every year AND they have 8 varieties of strawberries – we already went back again!  He’s such a slow picker (sorry, Al!) that I end up filling all the containers – it’s okay, I don’t mind.  He normally just picks and eats, hahaha, just like a little kid.  It’s cool, I still love him.  I probably act more like a child than he does…


My boyfriend likes to take candid photos of me and strawberries…


My favorite way of preparing fresh strawberries is extremely simple.  When in season, they are so freakin’ sweet no sugar needs to be added.  I love to dice them up, put ’em in a bowl and top it with a dollop of a mixture of 2 parts of part-skim ricotta and 1 part of Neufchâtel cheese Maybe a little drizzle of some aged balsamic vinegar if you’re feelin’ up to it, but it doesn’t even really need it, it’s so damn good!  Pair it with a few cinnamon sugar pita chips and you’ve got yourself a low-fat, sweet snack.


I absolutely love grilling.  There’s just something about cooking over coals and wood that makes it feel rustic.  Plus, with grilling, you can have a hot meal anywhere.  Many people think that grilling is unhealthy but depending on how you cook over the flame, it really isn’t.  Did you know that marinating your meat before grilling may reduce up to 50% of carcinogens?  My favorite ingredient to use as a base for a marinade is non-fat plain Greek yogurt.  I’ve also found that yogurt has been one of the best things for not scorching the outside of the meat.

Recently, I made some lamb kabobs and paired it with a delicious cucumber salad.  I’m not a huge fan of cucumber but if it’s in season I will eat it; just have to prepare it a tasty way.  If you can’t tell, when I cook lamb I love using Greek/Mediterranean flavors.  I feel that those types of seasonings compliment the lamb really well.

For the kabobs, look for cubed lamb chunks – or just ask the butcher to chop something up for you.  In all honesty, I can’t remember what cut of lamb I used, I just remember that I had to dice it up, and I cooked that just a few weeks ago (can you tell I’m stressed? Haha!).


These cook fast and stay nice and juicy on the inside… You don’t even need to add garlic cloves, you can just do meat – it’s so good. I mainly added the whole cloves of garlic because I like to save them and add them to dressings for other foods.

Marinated Lamb Kabobs


1 lb. lamb, cut in bite-size chunks

1/4 C. plain non-fat Greek yogurt

2 Tbs. EVOO

1/2 Tbs. fresh mint, minced

1 Tbs. dried oregano

1 Tbs. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

salt & pepper to taste


  1. If you’re using wooden skewers, make sure you soak them in water for at least a half hour before grilling otherwise they will burn.
  2. Put all ingredients except the lamb in a plastic bag (or bowl) – mix well.
  3. Add the lamb and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  4. Once done marinating, put them on your skewers – separating every few pieces of meat with garlic cloves (or onion, peppers, anything you want really) removing any extra marinade.
  5. Place on a hot grill and cook for a few minutes on each side, or until desired doneness.

The lamb kabobs came out so juicy and delicious… Make sure not to overcook them otherwise the meat will get tough.  I suggest cooking it to medium-rare/medium.

Now, the salad……


The cucumber salad was equally delicious!  I found this recipe by Chef Michael Symon for a cucumber salad and wanted to jazz it up a bit more.  The combination of the two compliments each other so well.  If you’re not a huge fan of cucumber like me, this is definitely an easy recipe for you to try!

Cucumber Salad


2 English cucumbers, washed

1 shallot

1 small garlic clove

2 lemons, zested

juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbs. fresh oregano, minced

1 Tbs. fresh mint, minced

1-2 Tbs. white wine vinegar

3-4 Tbs. EVOO

1/2-1 C. crumbled feta cheese

Kosher salt

pepper to taste


  1. Slice the cucumber as thin as you can, use a mandolin if needed.
  2. Put the sliced cucumber into a mesh strainer over the sink, sprinkle with a hefty couple pinches of salt, toss and let drain for about 15 minutes.
  3. In the mean time, slice the shallot very thin, grate the garlic clove and zest the lemons into a big bowl.
  4. Add the oregano, mint and juice of 1 lemon, mix.
  5. Once the cucumber is done draining, add to the bowl and mix well.
  6. Then add the feta cheese, pepper, vinegar and EVOO.
  7. Toss well.  Serve right away or refrigerate at least a half hour for better flavor.

I love the texture that the cucumber gets when you slice it real thin and let it sit with some salt.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!  It may seem like you’re adding a lot of salt but this helps draw some of the moisture out of the cucumber so it doesn’t water-down the salad.  Also, you probably won’t have to add any other salt to the salad, especially if you’re feta cheese is really salty…  I try to look for one that’s a bit more mild and not so salty that my lips pucker.  It may be an expensive purchase, but you really don’t need to add that much.  I didn’t add a cup of cheese to mine, I only used about a half of a cup.  But like I said, it depends on the cheese, so taste as  you go – make it to your preference 🙂

strawberries and gin

I’m not a big drinker… I actually have like 2 drinks a month and the only alcohol I like is gin.  When I do have a drink, it has to be a damn good one!  Fruit and gin is one of my favorite combinations and when I have an abundance of fruit, I try to make a bunch of different things and gin seems to always be included.

This drink was really good… I don’t use any actual measurements except for the gin.  Alcohol is SO strong to me that I normally put in less than a shot of gin.

All I did was…

  1. Muddle sliced strawberries, lemon wedge and chopped basil in the bottom of the glass.
  2. Add ice cubes.
  3. Add the gin and some lemon juice.
  4. Top it off with some club soda or sparkling water.
  5. Add a couple pieces of whole fruit – strawberries, raspberries… whatever you have on hand.
  6. Garnish with whatever you think is pretty!

I normally have two types of gin – Hendrick’s and Tanqueray.  These two are both made very different.  Hendrick’s is made with the traditional juniper infusion but also adds Bulgarian rose and cucumber for flavor.  Tanqueray’s key botanicals are juniper, coriander, angelica root and licorice.  So technically, Hendrick’s gin should be garnished with a cucumber, not a lime.

Shop around for what type of alcohol you want – like I said, it all personal preference 🙂

Sharing a recipe for delicious alcoholic drink is the perfect way to end this post.  I hope you enjoy everything!


Posted in Dinner, Farm Markets, Fitfluential ENJOY, Grilling, Picnic, Seasonal, Snacks, Stay active!, Summer | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Kevin McCallister: Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.” – from the movie Home Alone.

It’s been so long and my new years resolution is already broken… But don’t fret, I am here&healthy and have a delicious comfort food recipe – macaroni and cheese!  YES!  Who doesn’t love mac&cheese??  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love it.  I just don’t love how unhealthy it is.  Butter, whole milk, fatty (delicious) cheese and white pasta… not really up my alley.

So, since Alex has never had homemade baked macaroni and cheese I decided to finally make him some, just try my best to amp-up the healthy.  You know what?  It came out a lot more delicious than I thought it would.  I found this recipe by Paula Deen.  It’s her healthy version of macaroni and cheese and, well, I don’t see how sour cream is very healthy, whole grain pasta just makes me bloat and I wanted to add some more protein.

Now, the moment everyone has been asking for… my recipe for MAC AND CHEESE!!!

Macaroni and Cheese w/broccoli and turkeydogs

(makes 6 servings)


1 pkg. healthy elbow pasta

2 C. reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 C. low-fat evaporated milk

1 large egg, beaten well

1/4 C. plain Greek yogurt

1 large package frozen broccoli

4-6 turkey dogs, diced

1/3 C. parmesan cheese, grated

salt & pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13x9in. pan with cooking spray.
  2. Prepare pasta according to the directions on the box.  In the last few minutes of cooking, throw in the frozen broccoli.  When finished, drain & toss in the cheddar cheese and mix until well coated.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the egg, evaporated milk and yogurt.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the pasta and mix, then add the turkey franks.
  5. Add mixture to the baking pan and top with parmesan cheese & a slight drizzle of EVOO.
  6. Bake until the top is golden brown and slightly crispy, about 40 minutes.

mac and cheese with broccoli and turkey franks

I know you’re drooling……

This was pretty freakin’ delicious and it was a perfect version of the unhealthy fatty comfort food.  I don’t make comfort food that much so this was a real treat for me, and I hope it is for you!  It makes a lot, so there may be leftovers which are perfect to bring to work and heat up in the microwave.

As for the hot dogs, choose any healthy one you like – just make sure it has low sodium! =)


What do you like to add to your macaroni and cheese?

Any favorite vegetable or extra protein you like to throw in?


Posted in Comfort food, Dinner, Great for work!, Indulge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Lettuce is like conversation; it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.” – Charles Dudley Warner

Hey there!

It’s the new year.  My resolution?  To not get sick between now and November 2nd!

I believe the most important thing to do to prevent from getting sick is not only to wash your hands a lot, but it is so important to eat healthy foods!  In order to stay healthy, you should start from the inside out.  Which is why I always say that food is my medicine.

I definitely noticed my body reacting to all the holiday food these past couple weeks.  I felt very lethargic and well, was irregular, if you know what I mean.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I believe that the holidays are the time for this kind of food – it’s just how you handle everything after the holidays in the new year.

My fiance’s family always has a huge feast on New Years Day so I figured to have a healthy indulgence for dinner on New Years Eve.  Menu?  Lettuce soup and deviled eggs.  Please, don’t leave!

I found this recipe for lettuce soup and it just seemed it was lacking something – meat.  So, I decided to add two kinds, pancetta and prosciutto.

As for the plain old deviled eggs, I saw that Nadia G from Bitchin’ Kitchin’ had a truffle deviled egg recipe – she uses truffle salt and hot sauce – I used truffle oil and no hot sauce.  Also, instead of regular paprika I topped it with smoked paprika.

The lettuce soup came out so much better than I thought; even Alex thought the same!  It’s also great if you have lettuce that needs to be used but you just don’t want to eat it as a salad.  It was creamy, light, the addition of topping it with goat cheese and crispy prosciutto gives a nice salty tang.


Lettuce soup w/goat cheese and prosciutto


1 -5 oz. bag pre-washed baby arugula blend

1 -5 oz. bag pre-washed butter lettuce

1 Tbsp. EVOO

1 medium shallot

1/3 C. pancetta, diced small

~5 (3/4 lb.) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

5 C. chicken stock

1/2 C. light cream

1/3 C. prosciutto, diced small, cooked in a saute pan until crispy, set aside for garnish

salt & pepper to taste

3 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped small (optional)


  1. In a medium pot, heat the EVOO, add the shallots and pancetta, cook until lightly browned.
  2. Add potatoes, saute 3 minutes.
  3. Add stock and bring to a light boil.  Turn heat down and continue to simmer until potatoes are fork tender, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add arugula blend and butter lettuce and cook uncovered until greens are wilted and tender.
  5. Using a hand blender, puree the soup.
  6. Add the cream, salt & pepper, puree a bit more until everything is incorporated.
  7. Top with 1/2 oz. slice of fresh goat cheese, crispy prosciutto and fresh chopped chives.

lettuce soup

How gorgeous – looks like Christmas!!

Truffle Deviled Eggs


12 large, cage-free eggs.

1/3 C. low-fat mayonnaise

1/4 tsp. black truffle EVOO

dash of garlic powder

dash of onion powder

smoked paprika, for garnish

1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped small


  1. Fill a large pot with 8 C. of salted water, add the eggs and bring to a simmer.
  2. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 13 minutes.
  3. Remove eggs and let soak in ice cold water for about 30 minutes.
  4. Peel the eggs.
  5. Cut the eggs lengthwise and put the yolk in a bowl.
  6. Add the mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and truffle oil.
  7. Mix until well combined.
  8. Spoon the mixture into each egg-white half.
  9. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and the chives.

truffle deviled eggs


I have always considered deviled eggs somewhat on the gourmet side.  They’re so delicious.  The addition of black truffle gives it a wonderful earthy flavor and the paprika adds the perfect amount of smokiness.   Alex does not like hard boiled eggs and has never tried a deviled egg – this kid is so picky and he actually ate more eggs than me!

Well, I have to go buy some long underwear because I was invited to go skiing with Alex’s adviser and optics group tomorrow morning.  I’ve never been skiing before so this should be really fun!

How do you add a gourmet spin to a healthy dish?

What is your favorite flavor to add to deviled eggs?



Posted in Dinner, Lunch, Seasonal, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don’t quite know how to put our love into words.” – Harlan Miller, writer

Hi everyone!!!

How was your Christmas? Or Hanukkah? Or Kwanza? Whatever you celebrate this time of year, I hope it was wonderful!

I had a great Christmas. My brother, Andrew came in from Michigan and spent a week home – much longer than usual and my mother was very happy about that. We did secret Santa this year and I had to buy for Andrew. I bought him a couple things on his list but then I also decided to do a bunch of DIY gifts for Christmas this year. We also had a surprise visit from my Aunt and her fiancé and she gave me my Girl Scout cookies that I have been craving! I never saw any Girl Scouts this year 😦 but I still got some! 🙂

I believe that a handmade gift is much more thoughtful and a sign of love this time of year. Make gifts for your family – buy gifts for the homeless or the children up at Hillside.

I was getting way too excited looking at http://www.marthastewart.com and her section of DIY gifts so I figured to make my Christmas gifts this year.  My brother always calls me asking me “what spices do I use for this thing?” and “how long do I cook this?”  So, I made him a delicious gourmet hot cocoa mix and a couple spice mixes that I use myself.  I wish I had pictures of the cute little jars I put the spices in.  They were actually mini glass jars with a handle and a sprinkle top – perfect for spices – from Wal-Mart!

My favorite DIY gifts this year though are the bath scrubs, bath fizzies, and Savon de Marseille.  I can’t believe how incredibly easy everything was to make and it’s all so much freakin’ cheaper than the store bought stuff.  Like that new store in Eastview mall called Lush.  You could make at least half the crap in there with stuff in your pantry and spice cupboard for less than half the price and you get double the amount.  Not only was I able to make gifts for 8 people but I was also able to keep extra of everything for myself! Now that’s a perfect gift.

The bath scrubs were not hard to make.  I put 3 cups of Epsom salt with 1 cup or so of granulated sugar + 1 cup of olive oil, mix (add more sugar or oil depending in how you like the consistency) and then add a couple drops of soap or food coloring + 10 or so drops of pure oil essence – I used rose and lavender scents.  I was following Martha Stewarts formula for this but I felt that there was just way too much oil so I decided to add the sugar, which her recipe does not call for.  I actually really like the two different sizes of exfoliates in the scrub.  I packed these in mason jars and wrote on top in white-out what it’s called.  I don’t think there is a need for directions when it comes to a bath scrub, haha.

*Lavender-Vanilla Bath Scrub*


The bath fizzies were just as easy! I followed Martha Stewart’s recipe and they turned out perfect.  The only special equipment you need is a silicone ice cube mold and a bottle spray with a mist setting that you’re willing to put soap/food color and citric acid, which I purchased at my local hydroponic store.  I packed these the same way as the scrubs.

*Rose Scented Bath Fizzies*

*Lavender scrub and Rose fizzies*


The Savon de Marseille was even easier than the other two and I think less messy!  This soap is awesome.  I purchased a soap like this at an arts festival for way more than the cost per portion of the soap I made.  Plus, it gave me 8 bars of soap, I was able to make a one stop purchase to Michael’s, and I used part of a milk container for the mold – how’s that for recycling!  Hehe.
I followed Martha Stewart’s recipe again but I increased the amount of French clay (I had purchased this at Abundance Market a long time ago) because I had used bath oil from Bath and Body Works instead of essential oil of eucalyptus and spearmint. This soap is so good for your body, especially for your face.

**STEP 1**

**STEP 2**

**STEP 3**

I wrapped them in parchment paper then tissue paper and tied them with some hemp and slid in a little construction paper explaining what exactly is Savon de Marseille. Look how cute they are 🙂


I also babysat Anthea and Gavin, two little kiddies that live next door to me.  I decided to make them crayons.  I broke up pieces of old crayons and arranged them in a funky shaped silicone mold.  Bake them at 150-200 degrees; once melted, remove from oven and let cool overnight.  They’ll just pop out the next day!

They loved them!!

Have you given DIY projects as gifts?

What’s your favorite DIY project?

Have you ever made your own beauty products?

Posted in DIY, Fitfluential ENJOY | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The squid has the most sophisticated skin in the invertebrate world, if not the whole world.” – Roger Hanlon

Hey there!  How have you been?

I’m happy the semester is finally over!  My presentation went really well for my healthy cooking class, at least for me it did, Chef DiGaetano really liked my healthy version of creamy Caesar dressing!  I used fat-free plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and/or mayonnaise and I did not add any egg yolks.  But, we’ll see how some of my other group members have done…

Yesterday was “Iguandi Sunday” (Iguandi = Italian ribbon cookies) traditionally iguandi sunday was only for the ladies in my family – Boddie (my grandma), aunts & female cousins on the D’Arienzo side.  I actually had to teach my father how to make them a few years ago!  But, Dad and I made Iguandis; wanted to keep the tradition alive, especially since both of my grandparents passed away this year.  It’s actually pronounced wandee, and well, these are my favorite cookies on earth and the D’Arienzo’s only make them for Christmas… the old-fashioned way, of course!


So simple, yet so delicious.  I will admit, I am guilty of eating almost a whole bucket of iguandis – well, with Alex’s help.

iguandis - cooked

These cookies are actually a slightly different version of the traditional Iguandi you would find in Italy.  This recipe comes from my grandma’s side of Italy – Lippa, her maiden name.

Saturday, Alex and I made our trip to the Rochester Public Market for our Scott’s breakfast sandwich (voted best breakfast sandwich in Rochester) and I made my weekly trip to Irving the fish guy.  Chef Brinkman told me to go to him and that’s where I got the clams for my white clam sauce.  Last week, he had some amazing-looking squid, literally fresh from the water even Brinkman was so excited at how fresh the squid was he had to buy some.

Last Monday, Brinkman was bragging about how delicious it was and saying, “Why didn’t you get any?  You should’ve gotten some…” —- ‘Chef, I don’t know how to prepare it and I don’t have the utensils for it.’ —- “What are you talking about?  Yes you do.”

What the hell does he know what I have and what I don’t have?  LOL… whatever!  (Actually, he was 100% right…..)

But, Irving had that same amazingly-looking-fresh squid this past Saturday and Brinkman’s bragging really got me thinking.  I really do like squid, but I have never, ever prepared it before and I was really nervous.  (Honestly, preparing squid is so freaking easy!)  I asked Irving for 2 whole squid and instead, he gave me 2 whole and 1 body (which actually still had the ink sack, score!) for only $2.00!  Seriously people, a gourmet dinner cannot get any cheaper than that!

I also found these cute baby eggplant at the market and I just had to buy them… OMG, so freaking cute – you must agree!

baby eggplant - precooked

I did not want to do much to these cute purple babies, so I just cut them in half, leaving the green tips on (it’s too pretty to remove) and roasted them in the oven.

Roasted Baby Eggplant – no exact measurements


~8 baby eggplant, washed & sliced in half, green tips still intact.

EVOO, lightly drizzle

dashes of dried Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt & fresh ground black pepper.

2-3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, finely grated


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Lay eggplant, flesh side up on the sheet pan and sprinkle over the rest of the ingredients except the cheese.  Toss to coat – make sure you coat the skins, too.
  3. Roast in oven, flesh side up for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the eggplant and roast for 5 more minutes, or until soft.

I also figured that since I am purchasing whole squid, why not use the ink sack?  Okay, I know it sounds gross – who wants to eat ink?  But, did you know that black squid ink helps fight cancer and tumor cells and it – it has a mild flavor.  As I was cleaning the squid, I was able to reserve the ink from each of the 3 sacks and I was going to use it in a risotto.  Well, I did use it in the risotto but I didn’t have nearly enough to make the risotto look like it had squid ink in it.  But hey, I got some in there!

Squid doesn’t have much flavor to begin with so I decided to marinate before grilling it – it was absolutely delicious.  You just need to prepare the squid a few hours before grilling because it should rest in the fridge for about two hours.  I was so fortunate to take advantage of this wonderful weather we have been having – yes, in Rochester, NY you can grill during the winter … but might have a snowstorm the next day.

marinating squid

Grilled Squid + Marinade


2-3 fresh, whole squid

1/2 C. fresh parsley, chopped

1 Meyer lemon, zested & juiced

1 medium shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, grated

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

EVOO, enough to cover squid and herbs/spices

salt & pepper to taste


  1. Clean your squid – this was an extremely useful website for me and it’s actually really easy to clean, I am not exaggerating!
  2. Add all ingredients into a bowl then add the clean squid.
  3. Mix and let sit in fridge for at least two hours.
  4. Once ready, grill for 2 minutes on each side – squid cooks extremely quick.
  5. Ready to serve!

grilled squid

I made risotto by the box directions but I used 2 C. of rice, instead of white onion I used shallot and I also added 1/2 C. white wine (this was a really tasty wine to cook with – the Meyer lemon in the wine was great with the fresh Meyer lemon zest) before adding the chicken broth (remember, your broth should be hot when adding to the rice).  Once the rice was just about cooked, I added the little squid ink I had and the parsley/mint pesto.  When I served it, I topped the risotto with a small dollop of the pesto and a sprinkle of Meyer lemon zest.

I made a parsley/mint pesto thinking I would pair it with the grilled squid but the squid was delicious the way it was so I added the pesto to the risotto and it gave it a sharp delicious flavor.

Parsley/Mint Pesto


1/2 C. fresh Italian parsley

1/4 C. fresh mint leaves

1 shallot, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

1 Meyer lemon, zested & juiced

4 small anchovy fillets

1/2 C. – 1 C. EVOO


  1. Put everything except the EVOO into a blender and pulse until everything is chopped.
  2. Add the EVOO while the blender is still going and make a paste.  You may have to stop the blender and scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is completely blended.
  3. Once blended, pour in a bowl and let sit in fridge until usage.

parsley-mint pesto

I’m lucky enough to have free parsley and mint – my father has an amazing flat leaf Italian parsley bush in the backyard and a weed-like growing spearmint plants next to the house.  These plants really need little care to keep alive and prosperous.  Growing your own herbs greatly increases the quality/taste of your food!

grilled squid with roasted baby eggplant and risotto with parsley-mint pesto and a little squid ink

I am so proud of myself for making this simple, gourmet dinner for myself and Alex.  I was worried about Alex liking it but he loved it.  It was so incredibly easy and really, really simple – probably one of the simplest seafood dishes I have made.  Making use of the freshest, local, seasonal ingredients I believe automatically makes your meal a bit more gourmet without even trying because they are the best quality and best tasting ingredients.

It looks like I am going to have to make arancini tomorrow with all the leftover risotto I have.  I’m thinking of making them a bit smaller than the traditional because I feel that the traditional is just a bit too big… maybe bite-sized arancini popper thingy??  Hmmmm………

What’s your favorite type of risotto?

What about your favorite kind of pesto – traditional basil or something more unique?

How do you prepare a simple dinner with a gourmet twist?


Posted in Autumn, Dinner, Public Market, Seasonal, Sustainable, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I have more healthy cravings than my normal eating habits, like I crave fruit and cold things like smoothies.” – Kourtney Kardashian

Hi everybody!

I should be doing my recipe nutritional analysis for my healthy cooking class but I’ve already worked on it plenty this weekend and, well, I’m sick of it haha.  I have my baking lab practical tomorrow which I am not too worried about (actually, I am… it’s my nature… just trying not to show it), I have a final exam on Wednesday and Thursday, then my presentation for my healthy cooking class which, I was told, is not as professional as my menu planning presentation.  I had that last week and it actually went pretty well!  I would love to open up an actual healthy fast-food vendor called Sano outside Strong hospital in the future; I think it would be a huge hit!

I have one more week left of school then I am D-O-N-E!!!  I cannot wait because once school is over I am going to make Jane’s chocolate chip cookies for Christmas and also make these ginger cookies I made during lab last week – holy cow, these are THE best ginger cookies I have EVER had, no joke.  The only type of ginger cookie I grew up on were ginger snaps served with black tea and honey, and those are gross.  Once I tasted Chef’s recipe of ginger cookies my view on these cookies changed completely.  His cookies were moist, sweet, just a very slight hint of spiciness and best of all, soft! Seriously, so delicious.  I will put up the ginger cookie recipe around Christmas – it is just too good to keep to myself, I gotta share!

In my healthy cooking class, making smoothies seem to be a popular thing.  Chef D would let us make smoothies to have before making what we had to do for lab.  It’s your typical smoothie – frozen fruit, banana, vanilla yogurt…etc. sometimes I even add some plain silken tofu for a boost of protein.  But, I’ve been wanting a smoothie without all the added sugar from the yogurt because fruit just by itself is nature’s sugar.  My clients ask for smoothie recipes and I feel kind of guilty telling them to use vanilla yogurt because I know it won’t be sweet enough for them.  I knew if I used plain instead of vanilla yogurt it wouldn’t be sweet enough for my pallet either, so to fix that I used blue agave syrup and added a dash of pure vanilla extract.  Anyway, let’s just say that I am officially addicted to smoothies, that is, if you have a blender.  Having a blender makes it so easy and it gets really addicting!  I’ve been loving the peach smoothies because it kinda tastes like a creamsicle – just healthier.  I made a smoothie this week and I would have to say it’s the best smoothie I have ever had and I want to share it with all of you!  I now have a smoothie recipe that I am more than willing to share with my clients at 33 definitions!

Peach-Mango smoothie

makes two large servings


1 C. frozen peaches

1/2 C. frozen mango

1 C. plain Greek yogurt

2 oranges, juiced

1 lemon, juiced

1/3 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. blue agave nectar

1/4 C. skim milk

optional protein kick: 1/4 C. silken tofu

optional dessert-like smoothie: add a dash of cinnamon and two heaping Tbs. of Truwhip


  1. Pour all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Add more milk depending on the consistency and how you like it.
  2. Pour and serve – simple and delicious.

peach mango smoothie

Oh yeah, it looks delicious – it tastes even better!

Personally, I think smoothies that use frozen fruit taste much better without adding ice.

toby drinking smoothie

Even Toby likes it!

No, not really… I just thought this picture was funny because it looks like he’s really relaxed drinking from the straw.

Smoothies are pretty awesome and they can carry a huge vitamin and/or protein kick – it depends what you add to it, so many recipes out there on the internet to try or just make one up!  This will really satisfy that craving for out-of-season fruit; frozen fruit is more nutritious, tasty and fresh when that fruit is not in season… AND you really get your moneys worth.  What more could you ask for?

What’s your favorite type of smoothie?

What do you use for that extra protein kick?

Have any favorite vegetable smoothies?


Posted in 30 minutes or less, 33 Definitions Health and Wellness Education, Breakfast, Dessert, Just for two, On-the-go, Snacks | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“There’s an oatmeal cookie in there. I see no reason for the existence of oatmeal, particularly in cookies.” – J.D. Robb, Divided in Death


I am soooo tired… I’ve been doing stupid things all day due to my lack of sleep; half the time I don’t know what I’m doing… I don’t really know why I am telling you this, and I probably shouldn’t be blogging this late if I’m this tired – I have my presentation for my menu planning class tomorrow.  I designed a menu and created a healthy fast-food vendor called Sano, location, food costing of the recipes, etc. but I’ll let you know how it goes after my presentation tomorrow.

I HAD TO SHARE WITH YOU these delicious oatmeal cookies.  I guarantee they will be the best oatmeal cookies you’ve ever had.  If not, make sure you let me know!  Chef Brinkman prides himself on how delicious these cookies are and that they are the best in the world – although, his recipe calls for fresh cranberries and walnuts… it tasted good but personally, I like just an old-fashion oatmeal raisin cookie – no nuts or cranberries.  So, I made these cookies the way I wanted to (sorry I’m not sorry)!  Even lover-boy’s father said that it was the best oatmeal cookie he has ever had!!  Score!!

There’s a disclaimer: these cookies are not healthy!  Sure, there’s oats and raisins in the cookies but there’s also tons of butter and sugar which makes it taste OH SO DELICIOUS!  This is definitely a cookie to share with others, so this time of year would be perfect to make these cookies – they will be a hit!  I ate about 3 of them right when they came out of the oven; literally stuffed my face!  Ahhh!!  I cannot explain to you how good they are, I’ll just share the formula (baking = formula, cooking = recipe) – courtesy of Chef Gerry Brinkman.


World’s Best Oatmeal Cookies

Bowl #1

1 C. butter, softened

1 C. brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 C. white sugar

Bowl #2

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bowl #3

1 1/2 C. white flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

Bowl #4

3 C. rolled oats

3/4 C. raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream bowl #1 until light and fluffy.
  3. Add bowl #2, beat well.
  4. Add bowl #3 and mix until just combined.
  5. Dollop on a parchment-lined cookie tray and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden.
  6. Gently stir in bowl #4

A slightly different varation: in bowl #4, add 3/4 C. walnuts, 1 C. frozen fresh cranberries, 3/4 C. chocolate chips and follow directions as so.

Yield: 4 dozen

unhealthy oatmeal cookie 1

SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME – I’VE BEEN GETTING ANNOYED – WORDPRESS CHANGED THEIR PICTURE UPLOAD THINGY AND IT WON’T LET ME ROTATE THE PICTURE EVEN THOUGH I DIDN’T HAVE TO DO THAT BEFORE I UPLOADED IT! Haha, this has been so frustrating, it did it in my last post too!  I have a normal picture, I upload it, and wordpress turns it 180 degrees and I have no idea how to change it back anymore, it used to be really easy on wordpress.  HELP!!!! =(


On the other hand…. those cookies still look delicious, just tilt your head to the right, haha!

I should probably get to bed…

ENJOY THESE COOKIES!  I swear once you start, you will not be able to stop. =)


Do you have a favorite ingredient that you add to oatmeal cookies?

WordPress changed their media uploader and I cannot find the button to rotate the picture & wordpress rotates the picture 180 no matter what – who knows how to upload and rotate?  Help?  =)


Posted in Dessert, Indulge | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“How big are muffins before we all join hands across America? Have you seen them? They’re huge. ‘Yeah, I’ll take a coffee and… Oh, my God! Yeah, I’ll have that beanbag chair with raisins.'” – Kevin James

Hey there!

The commercial for 33 Definitions will be up on 13WHAM-TV website Monday, December 3rd and I can’t wait!  I’ll post it once it’s up =)

I CANNOT believe that there are only two more weeks of classes left – HOLY CRAP! Where did the semester go?  2 menu-type projects, 2 lab practicals, 2 presentations, 3 exams… uuggghhhh… crunch time!!!

The past couple weeks, I haven’t really had any time to cook dinner for myself except for Fridays.  This is one reason why I like culinary school – when I do not have the time to cook at home, I am always cooking at school – it’s a stress reliever for me.

O-M-G – I apologize but, before I continue, I have to tell you about my Tuscan kale plant.  Well, I have already told you about it but I finally ate some; it is the best kale I have ever had and Alex loved it too! The first frost had made it taste so sweetno bitterness at all. I purchased my delicious kale plant from The Tasteful Garden and re-planted it in (I think) an 8 gallon plastic pot with drainage.  Did you know that for some leafy green fall produce, after it is exposed to the first frost, the taste becomes much sweeter than if it were exposed to warmer weather?  What a perfect potted plant for Rochester, NY and growing your own food is, of course, sustainable!

In my healthy cooking class yesterday, each person was assigned a baked good to make into a healthier dessert and I was given the Blueberry-Lemon-Ginger Muffin recipe – excuse me – formula.  I really like this class because Chef D is a lot more lenient than Chef Brinkman when it comes to alternating recipes.  So, ultimately, each thing we make in class really is our own!

I have seen multiple recipes for lemon-blueberry-ginger muffins but I have always been unsure about the ginger.  Don’t get me wrong – I love ginger – but sometimes, especially in baked goods, it can be overpowering and sometimes spicy/hot.  I altered this recipe I was given; it called for ground ginger and crystallized ginger.  I omitted both and just added fresh ginger.  It looked like a lot of ginger, even one of my classmates said the same, but the outcome of the muffin was absolutely delicious and the ginger was not overpowering at all!  

Lemon-Blueberry-Ginger Muffins


1/2 C. butter or smart balance

1/4 C. Splenda

1/4 C. Truvia

2 large eggs

1 C. all-purpose flour

1/3 C. whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

zest of 2 lemons + juice of 1 lemon

1/2 C. plain non-fat Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp. fat-free milk

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced finely

3/4 C. frozen blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 12 cup muffin pan with Pam spray.
  2. In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat the butter, Splenda and Truvia.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and lemon zest.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour mixture and yogurt mixture to the butter bowl in batches, switching back and forth between the flour and yogurt, about 3x each – mix with a spatula until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  7. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes then remove the muffins from the pan and put them directly on the cooling rack.  Serve warm or store in a Zip-lock bag in the refrigerator.

lemon blueberry muffins 2


I cannot even tell you how surprisingly delicious these muffins are!  The ginger and lemon zest go so well together and really balance each other out.  If you can’t tell by now, I lovelemon zest – you can add it to almost anything and it will just brighten the whole dish; seriously, try it!

The lemon-blueberry-ginger blend together so well in these muffins; you will not be disappointed – easy and delicious, what more could you ask?

What is your favorite type of muffin?

How do you use ginger root?

Is Christmas really this month?  Oh boy………


Posted in 33 Definitions Health and Wellness Education, Breakfast, Dessert, Great for work!, On-the-go, Sustainable | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Everything in moderation… including moderation.” – Julia Child

HellooooO there!!!

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and took advantage of small business Saturday!  My brother, Andrew is in town (he lives in Michigan) and when he comes home, he always wants a homemade meal (besides the traditional Thanksgiving food and hey, who wouldn’t?).  So, that means that I am always the person that makes it – I don’t mind, seeing as though he likes to eat healthy.

Alex and I went to the market this morning, hoping to get fresh clams for clam sauce but the guy I like was not there =(  I still like to walk around and see what else is there and there seemed to be more winter hats, scarves, gloves, etc.  We saw one tent with boxes full of awesome warm winter hats – $5.00 each – definitely took advantage of that and decided to be a tacky couple and buy matching hats!  AWW, HOW CUTE!  HAHA Not really………….

Ladies, don’t you just love instagram filters when you are not wearing any make-up?  I do!!!  =D


The Thanksgiving feast – two families, one day – is finally over.  I can now get back to my usual fresh & healthy cooking.  But, since I was in charge of mashed potatoes this year there is a few cups of leftover heavy cream and there aren’t many healthy dishes that require cream.  I could make whipped cream, but I could eat a gigantic tub of that in one sitting because it’s like eating air (and tastes so good).  Also, I had way too much cream to whip it.

I really wanted to make something with the cream but at the same time I wanted to work out my arms.  Okay, this sounds really weird.  I know.  Just go along with it…

So, I figured… why not make butter?

When I think of making butter, I think of colonial day at FRES in 4th grade.  Having to take turns churning cream to make butter.  It was really boring making butter as a 4th grader dressed in colonial clothes.  I have no “churner” or whatever you call it – what they used back then.  I used an extremely well-sealed Tupperware container.

What exactly did I do?  SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE!!!

I told you I wanted to work out my arms, so I switched back and forth between arms – shaking in all different kinds of positions to work as many arm muscles as I could.

See that liquid left over?  Some call it buttermilk, but it’s actually non-fat milk!  Seriously, I took a spoonful right out of the container and it tasted just like skim milk.

If you use/eat butter, making fresh butter is extremely worth it the difference in taste and texture is amazing… it’s more like gourmet restaurant butter!  I know my reason for making butter sounds really, really weird, but you don’t have to work-out while making it.  If you have a hand or stand mixer, both will work great!

When making fresh butter……..

  • Use only full-fat cream.  If you prefer salted butter, add a nice pinch of salt before mixing.
  • Be mindful of the amount of cream and the size of your bowl/container – if you pour in too much, it will be very messy.
  • As you are whipping/shaking the cream, after a few minutes it will look exactly like cool-whip – don’t stop mixing there!  Keep going, the fat will eventually separate.
  • Mix until curdled, or whatever consistency you like your butter.
  • You will have liquid left over – skim milk – you need to drain this, you can get rid of this or save it for consumption.
  • You can add anything to your butter – cinnamon and stevia to make a dessert butter or fresh rosemary to pair it with dinner.  Add whatever!  Be creative!

There’s not really any step by step process for making butter.  Just shake/whip until you get butter!  You will know what it looks like =)

Well, I need my rest.  Like I said, gotta cook for the brother (tomorrow).  It looks like he wants some chicken francaise… ask nicely and you shall receive!


What do you do with leftovers from Thanksgiving?

If you’ve made butter before, is there a specific herb or seasoning you just love putting in there?

How do you get back into your healthy lifestyle after the holidays?


Posted in 30 minutes or less, Public Market, Stay active! | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment