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Whole Wheat Pasta with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

This Italian girl has gotta have her pasta every once in a while. This recipe includes fresh basil, grape tomatoes, and pine nuts. These ingredients are light and fresh and allow you to have your pasta without feeling weight down.


Whole Wheat Pasta with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • One box of whole wheat fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 c pine nuts 
  • 1/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste 
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes for garnish

Instructions

  • In a bowl mix together olive oil, pine nuts, parmesan, basil and red pepper flakes 
  • Cover bowl with saran wrap and let stand 
  • Cook pasta according to package instructions 
  • Toss cooked pasta in the bowl with the olive oil mixture
  • Garnish with cherry tomatoes, use salt and pepper to taste 

We don't make this recipe often, but when we do it's a special treat. I love adding extra tomatoes, or chicken for protein if we're in the mood for a bit of a heartier dinner. You could always add cooked shrimp too!

September Date Night In: Love at Ease

Who else has a hard time taking it easy? Resting when you need to? Nate and I both struggle with this. We're both full-time teachers, Gabe keeps us on our toes, and we both have other jobs that we love (I'm an virtual health and wellness coach, and Nate directs two local community choirs). This leaves little time for relaxing, especially since we like to make the most of our weekends, and keep our house (somewhat) clean and orderly. There are many days that we hit the ground running and go, go, go until our heads hit pillow at night.

I know we aren't the only ones.

This is one of the many reasons why we LOVE our Date Night In Boxes each month. It gives us the chance to plug into each other, to take a time out, and enjoy ourselves. This month's theme was all about taking it easy. Nate and I both appreciated it so much. We purposely scheduled this date night at the end of a particularly busy week.

We started the night by making a yummy pancake recipe. All of the recipes we've tried so far have been a hit in our household and have gone into our family cookbook for safe keeping. Plus, who doesn't love breakfast for dinner every once in a while?! During dinner we talked about what prevents us from feeling like we can take a break, and how we can better support each other when we do need a rest.

After dinner we plugged into the game they provided for us in our kit! It was a game of chance, and it was a lot of fun! I'm such a nervous nelly when it comes to betting on things, but I killed it.. (I'm noticing a theme with these games...) As we played this game, and completed our crossword puzzle (also provided in the box) we used our new brew buddy to brew the herbal bedtime tea, and ate our salted caramel and chocolate biscotti. They were both DELISH. I'm a sucker for a good cup of tea at night to help me unwind.

To end our date night, we stretched and relaxed even more with some couples yoga. As most of you know our family loves health and wellness and we often work out together. This gave us a new challenge of attempting yoga poses that relied on each other. It made us laugh and stretched out our sore muscles at the same time.

We continue to enjoy our date night in boxes each month. If you ever find yourself needing a little extra time for you and your significant other--check them out! 


Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is here!! Well... almost. For me, as soon as September hits, I am ready for all things fall: cooler weather, pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon, soups, crunchy leaves, football, ALL THE THINGS.

Baking is my love and hobby all year round. I especially get the itch during fall and winter. Making my house smell like cinnamon, apple, and pumpkin takes me back to my childhood when my grandmas and mom would make all of the yummy desserts for the holidays. 

These pumpkin muffins were the first fall recipe of the season for me, and they were a hit in our family! They are made with oat flour and flax, and they include blueberries for a kick of vitamin c. 

Pumpkin Muffins (serves 12) 

Ingredients
  • 1/4 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk 
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 c pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil 
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup 
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 2 c rolled oats (ground finely in a food processor or blender to make oat flour) 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 c frozen blueberries (optional) 

Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Generously spray a muffin tin with cooking spray of choice
  • Ground rolled oats in a blender or food processor until fine 
  • In a medium bowl mix together the almond milk, apple cider vinegar, pumpkin puree, canola oil, syrup and extracts until the oil is well combined with the other ingredients
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together the oat flour, ground flax, baking soda, baking powder, salt, salt and cinnamon 
  • Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix only until combined
  • Gently fold in the frozen blueberries
  • Scoop mixture into greased muffin tin until 3/4 of the way full 
  • Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes lower the temperature to 350 and continue to bake for 15-20 more minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes

If you would like, you can forego adding the blueberries to keep this strictly a pumpkin recipe. We love them both ways! 

Island Adventure: August Date Night In

Date Night In Box knocked it out of the park this month with their island adventure theme. A tropical menu and fun games made it one of our favorite boxes yet!  (And you better believe I dressed up for the occasion in my tropical shirt.) 



We made dinner and cocktails and enjoyed the table talk portion of the date night outside (we want to make sure to soak up as many evenings outside as we can before the weather gets chilly!). I always think this part of the date is fun, because the table talk guide gives us questions and topics that we normally wouldn't talk about on any other date.

After the dinner we made our own seashell candle. DNI provided the seashell, the wick, and the wax to melt. It was super easy and a lot of fun. Plus now we have a little memento of this date night.

Next we played all the Island Games: think Olympics, but Date Night In style. Nate and I are both just a LIIIIITTTLE competitive. The games were categorized by a matter of the body, a matter of the mind, and a matter of relationship. First up, matter of the body. We took our empty date night in box, used the golf tees and ping pong balls provided, filled our little squirt guns, set our timer and tried to knock the ping pong balls off the top with the water. It was hilarious, and I may or may not have squirted Nate more than once. Overall, tons of fun--and I was the winner.

A matter of the mind was next. We received word challenge cards, which included an assortment of letters and we had to come up with as many words as possible using those letters within the allotted time. I love games like this. Scattergories, Scrabble.... anything with words and letters, and I'm in!

After the word challenge, we played a game similar to the newlywed game. We were given a set of questions that we had to answer AND write what we thought our partner would say. It was pretty funny. Although, we did well with our answers. Nate and I are usually on the same page, so it was nice to see that if we ever have to do a game like this in public, we'd be okay.

Last but not least, we played an island version of battleship. Who doesn't love a good game of battleship? It takes me back to elementary school. I loved that game! I guess I'm a sucker for a good strategic game. Nate won this one... I guess we're even. ;)

To end our night we wrote a message in a bottle. We described ourselves and wrote a note of encouragement for the finder. We're not quite sure where we're going to leave the bottle yet (obviously we will not be, nor does DNI condone us throwing this in the water). If you have any ideas let us know! Where would be a fun location to leave a message in a bottle? Maybe a local park?

This DNI box was so full of activities that it kept us busy and having fun. My favorite part may have been the ping pong ball game though. Also--Congratulations to Kara, who won our giveaway!

Tropical Mango, Chicken, and Avocado Salad Bowl

The flavor combo of this salad bowl will take your mouth on a vacation. It's delicious, fresh, and refreshing. Even Gabe likes this one, although... he mostly picks out the fruit. I don't blame him though. The best part about this bowl is that you can chop up all of your fruit and make multiple servings at once for a family dinner, or to take as lunches for the week. It's a great meal plan/prep recipe!

Ready to jet set to a tropical island....? Let's go!


Tropical Mango, Chicken, and Avocado Salad Bowl, Serves 1 

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 Tbsp 100% pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp EVOO 
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder 
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt 
  • 1/4 ground cumin 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper 
  • 3/4 cup cubed chicken breast 
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber 
  • 1/4 medium mango, peeled and chopped 
  • 1/4 medium avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional) 

Instructions
  • Combine vinegar, oil, pineapple juice and all spices in a small bowl, whisk to blend 
  • Place chopped chicken, cucumber, mango, avocado, and pineapple in a medium bowl, mix well to combine 
  • Drizzle with the pineapple juice dressing, toss to combine
  • Top with cilantro, if desired 

I honestly think this salad gets better as the dressing has a chance to sit. So, if you can wait---let the combined salad chill in the fridge for about an hour or so for better flavor. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll Muffins with Greek Yogurt Icing

Nate LOVES cinnamon rolls. He could eat probably six of them in a sitting. He grew up having them on Christmas morning while opening presents, so they have a special place in his heart. I love them too--I mean, who doesn't!? Cinnamon is a great thing, and if you put icing on anything--I'm game. But, we know that they're not the healthiest choice for us. As a treat every once in a while, sure! Something we can grab for a snack every day... ehh....

Enter these cinnamon roll muffins. Made with a combination of almond flour and all-purpose flour, sweetened with pure maple syrup and coconut sugar, and topped with a greek yogurt icing.. this is something you can for sure snack on every day if you'd like!


Cinnamon Roll Muffins, Serves 12 

Muffin Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar 
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup ghee, melted 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup almond flour 
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 

Greek Yogurt Icing

  • 3 heaping tbsp 0% plain greek yogurt 
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F 
  • Line muffin tin with liners and set aside 
  • Place sugar, coconut milk, maple syrup, ghee, egg, cinnamon and vanilla extract in a blender, cover and blend on medium until smooth. Set aside. 
  • Combine all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, mix well. 
  • Add dry ingredients to blender with wet ingredients. Blend until a smooth batter forms. 
  • Pour batter evenly among muffin liners. 
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
  • While muffins are cooling, make icing. Combine greek yogurt and powdered sugar in a small bowl, whisk to combine. 
  • When muffins are cool, top each with 1 tsp of icing. 

Try them and see! They're delicious and definitely hit the spot when you're craving a cinnamon roll.

Black Bean Burrito Bowl

When I was in college Chipotle and Qdoba were on our short list of places to go grab a quick dinner. A burrito with queso, pico, sour cream, guac, cilantro rice, chicken, and grilled veggies.... I was in heaven. However, I know that this wasn't the healthiest choice.

College was a long time ago, but my love for Mexican food has not gone away. I have just found a way to make my own, healthy version. Using fresh pico de gallo, grilled chicken, greek yogurt, and avocado this burrito bowl hits the spot and is EVEN better than the college take out that I craved weekly.

So if you love a good burrito bowl as much as me, let's dive in!


Black Bean Burrito Bowl, Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, warm 
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice 
  • 3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed, drained, and warm 
  • 1 1/2 cup grilled chicken breast, cubed 
  • 1/2 cup shredded mexican cheese 
  • 1 cup fresh pico de gallo (we love Trader Joe's mild pico) 
  • 1/2 medium avocado, diced 
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (0%-2%)

Instructions
  • Combine rice, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium bowl, mix well 
  • Evenly divide lettuce between serving bowls (4) 
  • Top lettuce with cilantro-lime rice, beans (1/4 cup), Cheese (2tbsp), Pico (1/4 cup), Avocado
  • Top each bowl with 1 Tbsp of Greek Yogurt
  • ENJOY!

Sometimes we like to crush up some plantain chips for a bit of a crunch on top, or some tortilla chips! We also like making four servings and getting at least 2 meals out of it. This is a great leftover meal to pack for a lunch or to save for dinner another day.