Monday, May 25, 2020

Easy & Delicious Meatless Spaghetti and Meatballs


Last month, I shared some of our favorite quarantine meals with you. Since then, we've been adding a few things to the rotating 'menu', and adding in take-out here and there. One of our new go-to's is this meatless spaghetti and meatball recipe. Yes, meatless. 

Beyond Meat has become a staple in our household for a while. Not only is it a great replacement for meat, but it literally tastes like the real deal (which for us is key). Their burger patties are probably my favorite, and they also make ground meat and sausage patties/links. Their products contain less sodium and calories then some of their meatless counterparts, and you can easily find it at HEB, Kroger, and Whole Foods. 

This recipe is so simple and is bursting with flavor. It literally rivals the best spaghetti I've had at a restaurant, if I do say so myself ;) What's nice about it is that majority of the ingredients are things you have on hand, which means no additional trips to the dreaded grocery store. 

Here's the recipe!

Ingredients:

-1 ½ TBSP bread crumb
-3 Garlic cloves, minced (less if you don't love garlic, like we do)
-1 TBSP Chopped onion
-1 tsp Chopped basil (chop extra to top your meal with)
-2 ½ tbsp Shredded Parmesan Cheese (I like to use fresh Parmesan vs the pre-shredded, it gives it much better flavor)
-½ tsp Italian Seasoning
-Pinch of Pepper, Salt, and crushed red pepper flakes 
-Rao's Tomato Basil Sauce (only use about 3/4 of the jar, or whatever amount is to your liking)
This sauce is a little on the pricey side (compared to Prego, etc.) but it is so worth it. It has the most amazing homemade taste, and is great for dipping and on pizzas, as well. 

Directions:

-In a large bowl, add Beyond Beef, bread crumb, parsley, basil, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese

-By hand, mix thoroughly and roll meatballs into golf-sized balls or make them larger if you'd like
(the 'meat' does leave a greasy coating on your hands, so definitely be sure to wash them once you're done assembling the meatballs)

-Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat

-Using tongs, add the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides, using tongs to turn them over. Once they've 'browned,' remove them from the skillet and place on a plate
I'd say to be fully brown on all sides, the process takes about ~10min. Sometimes I've had them get a little charred and honestly they were still delicious. 

-Clean the skillet to put it back on the stovetop over medium heat

-Pour marinara into the skillet and bring the marinara to a simmer 

-Place the meatballs back in the skillet and reduce the heat a little bit. Then, cover the skillet with a lid and simmer meatballs for up to an hour. We usually let them simmer around 40 minutes.

Serve with your favorite pasta & garlic bread. Be sure to top it with some fresh basil and Parmesan. 


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Book Review - Volume Four


I've been trying to use this time at home to read as much as I can. As we all know reading is a great way to escape, which is definitely needed right now! Plus, I have so many books I'm looking forward to reading that I want to cross them off my list, and there's no time like the present.

I've really enjoyed sharing my book reviews with you in the past. This review features a mix of genres, like usual. Below you'll find a memoir, two suspense thrillers, and two pieces of historical fiction (my favorite). As before, I've included a summary of the book, as well as my rating,1 through 5. 

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose of­fice she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients' lives -- a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can't stop hooking up with the wrong guys -- she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.

With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is rev­olutionary in its candor, offering a deeply per­sonal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly reveal­ing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.

Rating: 5/5. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought it was incredibly relatable. It not only had me laughing and crying, but after {almost} every chapter I felt like I had just gotten out of the best therapy session of my life. It also really made you realize that even though we think we're all so different, that we're so innately similar - we want to be accepted, we want to be loved, we want to be happy, we want to LIVE...a great read that you won't want to put down.


Cilka’s Journey

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was send to Auschwitz when she was still a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka's journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit―and the will we have to survive.

Rating: 5/5. This book is written by the author of, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, another book I absolutely loved. This is a sequel of sorts to the first book, but chronicles Cilka's journey. This woman suffered incredible hardship, and still overcame due to strength and relentless attitude. It also opened my eyes to the Siberian prison camps, something I didn't know much about. My only complaint was that I wish the ending would have been a bit longer. The author provided you with information to further your research, but I wanted more! The sign of a good book.  

Lost Roses

It is 1914, and the world has been on the brink of war so often, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the tsar’s Winter Palace, the famous ballet.

But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortune-teller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming, she fears the worst for her best friend. 

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic countryside estates to the avenues of Paris where a society of fallen Russian √©migr√©s live to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways. In her newest powerful tale told through female-driven perspectives, Martha Hall Kelly celebrates the unbreakable bonds of women’s friendship, especially during the darkest days of history.

Rating: 5/5. This book was beautifully written and made you feel like you were right there with the characters. As the synopsis says, it really does show how deep the bonds are that we make with others, and how some relationships will follow us for our entire life. Although each woman's story was uniquely different, they intertwined seamlessly. This book is the prequel to, Lilac Girls, which I haven't read yet, but have heard so much about. Interestingly enough, even though its the prequel to that novel, it was written after the other book was published. The story line sparked so much interest in the author, that she wanted to delve deeper! 

The Girl Who Lived

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be—her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor's guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister's killer—only to discover that she's the one being hunted.

How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone's a suspect—including herself?

Rating: 3/5. I just finished reading this book for my virtual book club. It was an easy, mindless, quick read, but left a lot of questions unanswered. I felt like for a shorter book (under 300 pages) that they introduced too many characters that I couldn't keep them straight. I think they also added a few too many twist and turns that at the end I was like "Really?" That being said, I got through this book in only a few days, so if you're looking for something easy check it out. I'm definitely curious to see what all the other women have to say when we discuss it! 

An Anonymous Girl

Looking to earn some easy cash, Jessica Farris agrees to be a test subject in a psychological study about ethics and morality. But as the study moves from the exam room to the real world, the line between what is real and what is one of Dr. Shields’s experiments blurs.

Dr. Shields seems to know what Jess is thinking… and what she’s hiding.

Jessica’s behavior will not only be monitored, but manipulated.

Caught in a web of attraction, deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Rating: 4/5. I read this book in one sitting. It read like a Lifetime movie, but in a good way! With lots of twists and turns, it was interesting and very suspenseful. A great physiological thriller. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Current Favorite Workout Outfits




Let's be honest, since quarantine began our wardrobe has changed drastically. Working from home means you can wear anything you want, so why not be comfortable? I mean who likes sitting around the house in jeans...

My 'outfits' currently range from pajamas, to mumu dresses, bathrobes, and workout clothes, in no particular order. I've always loved a good workout outfit, and since athleisure is all we'll be wearing for a while, I wanted to share some of my new favorite pieces with you. 

Majority of my workout sets are from a local brand called, DYI (I'm wearing their clothes in photo 1 & 3). I absolutely love the quality of their stuff, and they're always coming out with fun new patterns. Everything is made locally as well, so I like that, and like having the opportunity to support a small business. I've also been going crazy for tie dye lately, and basically bought the entire tie dye collection from Adidas. In addition to the fun biker shorts and sweatshirt, I also have two t-shirt dresses from them that have been in constant rotation.  


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

What We're Watching Now

I've been constantly asking for recommendations on good shows to watch, so I wanted to share some of mine with you.

Most of these networks or streaming services offer a 30 day free trial, so right now is a great time to squeeze in some of these shows! After the 30 days, you can cancel at no cost to you - win, win!


Netflix
Ozark
Bloodline
Messiah
Tiger King
Breaking Bad 
Narcos
Gossip Girl
The Crown
Dead to Me
You
Sinner
The Stranger
Mindhunter
Bodyguard

Amazon
Man in the High Castle
Hunters
Jack Ryan
Zero Zero Zero (what we're currently watching)
Goliath
I've heard Fleabag and the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel are good, but haven't watched either 

Showtime
Homeland
Billions
Ray Donovan

HBO
Boardwalk Empire
Big Little Lies
Sharper Objects
Game of Thrones 
True Detective
Chernobyl
Band of Brothers
Sopranos
Sex and the City
Rome

Hulu
Little Fires Everywhere
Killing Eve
The Act
I've heard great things about The Handmaid's Tale, but I haven't watched it  

If you have any shows you've been watching or re-watching, definitely share! 




Monday, May 11, 2020

Our 'Social Distance' Getaway to Hill Country















Can you believe these views? Last month we went on a little getaway to Canyon Lake in Texas Hill Country and had the most amazing time. 

We decided that a change of scenery would be good for us, which I know all of us are needing right now.  Since getting on a plane is out of the question for the time being, we figured it would be safe and OK to drive somewhere. We also wanted to pick somewhere that was close enough that we would't have to stop anywhere along the way unless we had to (Canyon Lake is about three hours away). 

When I came across this gorgeous property, I knew the deal was done - I needed to stay here. From the wrap around patios, to the stunning views, and gorgeous pool, SKYHOUSE Canyon Lake made the perfect retreat. The modern house has three bedrooms, and can accommodate up to 10 guests. It would be the perfect place to do a girl's trip once social distancing is over. Adam, Safari and I loved having the entire house to ourselves, and liked how isolated it was (as you can see from the pictures). 

It was a great place to just rest, recharge, reconnect and take a break from everything going on. We did a hike one day, but otherwise we just sat out by the pool, read, and grilled everyday. We had stocked the car with groceries before we left Houston, so the only thing we needed to worry about each day was what we were making for dinner. We stayed for a week, and my only complaint was that we didn't stay longer! 

The house had everything you could ask for, and we cannot wait to go back. The owner also has three other rental properties in Hill Country. To check out this property, and the other SKYHOUSE vacation rentals, click here




 

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