Recipe: No Pasta Zucchini Lasagna

My boyfriend and I are both on a health kick (with a couple of cheat days sprinkled in for Giordano’s deep dish pizza, because we do live in Chicago, after all), so I decided to try for a low carb version of lasagna.  I grew up eating a ton of Italian food, so anything with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese makes me feel homey and content.  With the weather actually behaving itself in Chicago before it zips to 100+ degrees, I decided to make my take on a light, springy (last day!), no pasta vegetarian lasagna.

The key to this dish is layering traditional veggie lasagna components between thin slices of zucchini.  Since zucchini has a mild flavor and slightly crunchy texture, it acts as a great substitute for pasta.

Ingredients (makes one 11×7″ pan):

2 medium-sized zucchini, cut into thin strips

1/2 package of organic spinach/arugula blend, chopped

1 medium-sized red onion, diced

1 tsp garlic, diced

1 15 oz. container of fat-free ricotta cheese

1 bottle of your favorite tomato sauce, (I used Trader Joe’s Arrabiata sauce)

3 tbsp Fat-free, low moisture Mozzarella cheese

Italian spices to taste, (I used Costco’s Tuscan Blend)

Crushed red pepper to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1) Salt the zucchini.  This step is KEY because it allows the zucchini to stay crunchy without releasing too much water and making the dish sloppy

Pre-salted zucchini

Pre-salted zucchini

– Cut the zucchini into thin, uniform slices as seen in the photo above

– Lightly salt the zucchini and place it in a colander, with something heavy placed atop paper towels to drain out the water. (Thanks college psych book!)

– Let this sit for a few hours, if possible.  If you don’t have the time, wring the zucchini slices in paper towels before layering

Salted zucchini

Salted zucchini

2) Chop onions, garlic, and spinach and set aside

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3) Sautee onions and garlic, adding spinach when onions turn slightly translucent

4) Add Italian seasoning and crushed pepper

5) When cooked, turn off heat and fold in ricotta cheese until the veggies, spices, and cheese are mixed through

Ricotta cheese mixture

Ricotta cheese mixture

6) Start layering ingredients!  (I started with a thin coat of sauce so the other ingredients didn’t stick to the pan)

– I layered sauce, zucchini, cheese mixture and repeated

7) Finish with a final layer of sauce and mozzarella cheese

No pasta zucchini lasagna

No pasta zucchini lasagna

That’s it!  If you try this, please let me know what you think.  What are your favorite spring/summer, low-carb recipes?


Review: Kate Young for Target

Target’s newest designer collaboration is with Kate Young, a Brooklyn-based, sought-after stylist for the stars.  She has actually styled for Target in the past, which is what makes this collaboration particularly interesting.

According to Refinery29, Kate says that the Target collaboration is her proudest career moment so far.

According to Refinery29, Kate says that the Target collaboration is her proudest career moment so far.

I missed out on the first designer collaboration with Missoni, which I am bitterly reminded of every time I see a woman carrying a Missoni for Target tote at the airport.  (This happens all the time, ugh).  Since then, I’ve shopped the three latest Target designer collaborations (Jason Wu, Neiman Marcus, and Prabal Gurung).  I love that these partnerships let non-super-rich-people shop designer looks at affordable prices.

Target Style’s Facebook page has a preview of all the looks in the Kate Young collection.  Overall, I’m not loving the collection as much as the Jason Wu or Prabal Gurung ones, but there are a few pieces that really stand out.  Below are my favorite pieces that I think represent Kate’s fun, tasteful aesthetic and are the most versatile, long-wearing looks.

Beaded Dress in Yellow, $59.99

Beaded Dress in Yellow, $59.99

This Betty Draper-esque, mod mini dress is perfect for a cheery spring day.  (It’s also perfect for a gloomy spring day, a.k.a. April in Chicago, to cheer yourself up!)  I’d dress it up with black heels to wear to work or make it more casual with wedges for a weekend look.

Fitted Dress in Black with Belt, $49.99

Fitted Dress in Black with Belt, $49.99

This LBD is perfect for work or a dinner meeting, since it’s not too short or low cut.  I could definitely see this in my closet for years to come, as the simple, tasteful look won’t go out of style.

Jumpsuit in Black, $79.99

Jumpsuit in Black, $79.99

I love this sleek, classy jumpsuit for date night or grabbing drinks with friends.  A perfect way to experiment with the menswear trend, it’s structured, polished, and elegant without being too stuffy.  I’d pair with loose waves and a pop of red lipstick to keep the look young and fresh.

Flame Pumps in Red, $39.99

Flame Pumps, $39.99

Finally, these pumps with a cool, jagged cutout are rocker-chic and ladylike at the same time.  Wear these to work, a night out, to the grocery store… Whatever, get it girl!  I like that the details are interesting enough to catch attention without being over-the-top and inappropriate for more formal occasions.

Those are my top picks from Kate Young for Target.  What are your favorites?  Share in the comments!

 


Recipe: 10 Ingredient Curried Broccoli & Greens Stir Fry

Eating healthy is not always (read: barely ever) easy.  By the time I’m on my way home from work, I’m usually exhausted and thinking about cheese fries with giardiniera or pizza or chocolate… The list goes on.  It doesn’t help that Chicago is home to some amazing grub food (lookin’ at you, Mr. Greek’s in the West Loop).  Sadly, neither my waistline nor general health would be positively affected if I ate what I wanted all the time, so I try to come up with tasty, healthy recipes at home.

Cooking is one of my favorite ways to de-stress.  Life makes sense in the kitchen and I walk away with a finished product that is (hopefully!) tasty and from the heart.  Tweaking recipes and creating something new is always fun.  I especially enjoy cooking for my boyfriend and family, but cooking for myself allows me to test out new recipes that I can eventually make for them.

I’ve had a new bottle of S&B Oriental curry powder in my pantry for awhile, bought on a tip from the great food blog Veggie Belly.  Tonight, I made a quick, healthy stir fry of curried broccoli and power greens.  I improvised, so it’s a sort of Indian/Asian fusion.  Leafy greens are a great source of fiber, minerals, and protein, while broccoli is high in antioxidants.  But more importantly, this stir fry is delicious and uses only ten ingredients!  You can whip it up in fifteen minutes.

Ingredients (serves 1):

– 1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

– 1 cup mixed power greens (baby kale, spinach, and red/green chard)

– 2 tsp S&B Oriental Curry Powder

– 2 tsp of peanut butter

– 4 tbsp of soy sauce

– 2 tsp of Sriracha sauce (omit if you don’t want this to be too spicy)

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– Small piece of ginger, minced

– Chili sesame oil to sautee

– 1 tsp honey

– Optional: 1-2 tbsp water

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Method:

1) Sautee the garlic and ginger in the chili oil until fragrant

2) Add the broccoli and greens, sauteeing until they start to heat up

3) Add the curry powder and mix

4) Add the soy sauce and mix

5) Add peanut butter, making sure to stir until veggies are coated

6) Add honey and mix

7) At this point, if the veggies are looking a bit too thick, add 1-2 tbsp of water to thin

I paired with brown rice for a simple, healthy dinner.  If you have extra, put the mixture in a pita bread pocket for lunch the next day.

Leave a comment letting me know what you think if you try this recipe!


Inspired by: Victorian Fashion

One of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day is to read historical fiction novels, specifically those set in Victorian Europe, which the second half of the 19th century.  I love how reading gives me the ability to slip into another world for a few hours.  I don’t think I would have actually been able to survive back then, because, well, I really love my Chi hair straightener and heated apartment.  BUT it’s amazing to imagine being an aristocratic woman during that time period: the grand balls, the waltzing, and, of course, the fashion!

Arguably, the most influential figure in Parisian fashion during the Victorian period was Charles Worth, known today by many as the Father of Haute couture.  Pieces from his label, House of Worth, were the most sought-after creations of fashion during the time.  Aristocratic ladies’ fashion during the late 1800s was all about impeccable tailoring and a perfect, meticulous fit.  Worth became so infamous that he was able to actually turn away customers and fit only the beautiful ladies whom he wished to dress.

Victorian Wedding Gown

Worth Tea Gown
Worth Tea Gown
Fashions of 1883

Fashions of 1883

It is hard not to be inspired by the beautiful fashion during this era.  Tragically, without a team of dedicated maids, it’s not quite possible to don a Worth-style creation today.  Here’s my take on how to make Victorian fashion wearable for spring and summer 2013!

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Though this maxi skirt from Akira is more reminiscent of a Victorian era petticoat, the elegant, ladylike work on the sheer bottom has a romantic, old-world feel.

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Add a pop of color with this flower print corset from Topshop, reminiscent of a lovely English garden and much more comfortable than a corset from the 1800s.

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Keep the look from becoming too girly by adding this chambray boyfriend shirt from Madewell.

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Finish off with a statement cameo necklace to invoke Victorian vibes, like this one from Etsy shop GayaDesigns.

If you are interested in historical fiction, check out authors Lauren Willig, Deanna Raybourn, and Tasha Alexander, all of whom have series featuring strong, smart ladies who happen to fight crime and/or solve mysteries while looking fabulous along the way.

What time period would you choose to visit if you could?  Share in the comments!


Review: Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder

I decided to try Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder because I have a major shine problem that starts in the middle of the day.  I don’t look glowy or youthful; I just look greasy.  The shine sadly plagues me throughout the year, but gets worse during the summer.  Before using this powder, my face would become an oil slick by noon.  Every day.  Without fail.  There is an oil spill joke in there somewhere, but yawn.

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Overall, this powder is absolutely worth the hefty price tag ($34 for the full-size version).  A little goes a long way, so you’ll be able to make the product last for awhile.

Pros:

– Natural and Matte: If you’re looking for dewy, glowy skin, then this is probably not the product for you.  If you are like me and need help controlling oil, then go for it!

– Conservative: Using a little goes a LONG way.  Don’t overdo application or your skin may start to look chalky.

– Long-wearing: This powder helps to control oil throughout the day.  I used to have to retouch my makeup every few hours.  Now, I can retouch once mid-day and I’m good to go.

– Invisible: Don’t be daunted by the ghost white, baby powder look.  This powder is invisible even on my olive skin.

Cons:

– Drying: I’d recommend using a heavier moisturizer once you start using this powder.  I love the Body Shop’s Wise Woman Regenerating Day Cream, which my cousin Jen gave to me to try a couple of months ago.  It’s packed with nutrients and makes your skin smooth and soft without being greasy

– Fineness: Since the powder is so fine, it goes all over the place unless you are super careful to contain it.  I recommend using a Kabuki brush, like this one from Sephora, and tapping off the excess into the lid of the container.

To combat the drying nature of this powder, I’ve been using it in combination with Smashbox BB Cream, which helps my skin to stay soft without being too oily or dry.

Overall, applying this powder is now a part of my daily makeup routine.  It’s the perfect spring and summer 2013 beauty product to add to your repertoire!

What products help you stay oil and shine-free?  Share in the comments!


Inspired by: Princess Jasmine

I’m almost positive that every olive-skinned girl born in the VHS-era says this, but I love Princess Jasmine.  Not only does she live in a palace, (which, granted, she tries to escape), but she has a pet tiger!  Cinderella?  Keep your glass slippers, girl.  Sleeping Beauty?  Drink a 5 Hour Energy, whatever.

When I was growing up, Jasmine was the only Disney Princess who looked a bit liked me.  I was sold from the minute I saw her sashaying across the palace courtyard in her harem pants (also known as the bottom half of a salvar kameez) and crop top (aka sari blouse).

The eyebrows, you guys!  Perfection.

Regardless of your preferred princess, it is undeniable that Jasmine has great style.  Here’s my take on a modern-day rendition of the Jaz’s outfit, with a few on-trend spring pieces that you can remix into your wardrobe.

A structured pleather skirt, like this one from Asos, is the basis of this look, which channels Jasmine’s signature blue.

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Add a tiger tee, like this one from Mango, to keep the look young and casual while channeling Raja the tiger.

Add gold cuffs like these from Etsy shop PointNoPointStudio as an homage to the genie.

Jasmine would go barefoot, but I’d add gold cap-toed flats like these Jeffrey Campbells on Free People to avoid running sans shoes around the streets of Chicago, (especially in March, brr).

Pair with wavy hair curled in uneven sections around a clipless curling iron, like this one from Remington that I love.  Flip hair over (whee!), tousle with fingers, and lightly mist with hairspray for good-Jaz-gone-wrong look.

Finish the look with BB Cream for dewy, glowy skin.  I’m currently loving Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream.  To top it off, add some thick, winged eyeliner, Lakme brand kajal, and black mascara for a Middle-Eastern feel.  Just keep the lip color to a natural, nude finish to avoid going too literal.

Who is your favorite Disney Princess?  What look should I cover next?  Tell me in the comments!