25 September 2017

PinTest # 30: Zucchini Pizza Boats

I have committed to eating as little carbs, dairy and sugar as possible. It's a challenge, I don't especially like it but it's good for me and I'm going with it. This means a pretty much wholesale change in eating habits, even though I eat a lot of healthy foods already. But saying goodbye to bread, crackers and sweets is a toughy for me. So I'm collecting recipes and looking for new meal ideas. That brings me to Pin Test #30: Zucchini Pizza Boats.

via delish.com
I have been thinking about trying these for a while because I am a pizza fan and the crust is the killer. I realize I mentioned earlier that I'm limiting dairy and these obviously have cheese on them. I'm allowing a little dairy here and there and if a little cheese is going to help make saying goodbye to carbs and sugar less miserable I'm okay with that.

Now I'm not one of those people who says modified recipes taste just like the real thing. I've never said tofu tastes just like chicken, I don't like rice milk or almond milk and no they don't taste just like or better than dairy. So swapping out zucchini for delicious crusty bread dough is a bit of a stretch for me.

I followed this recipe from Delish.com and then made the following additions. In with the sauteing zucchini bits, I added a 1/2 teaspoon of minced fresh garlic, 1/8 tsp. of New Mexico green chili from a jar, 1/4 cup minced onion, a very small dash of red pepper flakes and a few shakes of Italian Seasoning. This really punched up the sauce I think and even gave it a tiny kick.

Oh! Forgot one thing. I didn't have any pepperoni in the house so I used finely diced cooked bacon and some left over  seasoned ground beef I had used for tacos earlier in the week. I definitely think pepperoni would be tasty on these and give it a lot of flavor -- but the bacon and seasoned ground beef worked great too. Mushrooms and green peppers would be a great addition too. One other note, I initially wished I had cut my zucchini up a little smaller but it cooks down very softly anyway. But if you're trying to hide it from your family, cutting it up in finely diced pieces would work. It will be hard to find when you get down below the cheese.

After we had everything assembled I added some fresh sliced garlic, freshly ground black pepper and another quick shake of Italian Seasoning on top. Then there's one other thing I did differently, I baked these at 350 for 15 minutes and they were cooked but we like our pizza a little crusty on top so I bumped up the temp to 400 for a few minutes and got the cheese a little browned and the tops a little bit crusty. A family preference thing.

To go along with these I cooked up some Trader Joe's breaded chicken breasts, which are super easy to heat in a pan with a little olive oil - and they take about the same time as it took to cook the boats so you can throw them in a pan after you put the boats in the oven. I didn't realize it at the time but together they make a Chicken Parmesan style dinner - and they taste great together. Now I bet you're wondering if this pizza replacement is going to get a thumbs up or a thumbs down from me and the family.

I am even a little bit surprised to say this, but I give Zucchini Pizza Boats a big thumbs up. I loved it. Kiddo gave it an 8 out of 10. Then man gave it a 7.5. I thought it was delicious and ate it for dinner last night was already looking forward to having it for lunch today. The one thing about these is that they are better when first cooked. Putting it in the fridge over night made the zucchini a little soggy. It was more crisp and fresh tasting last night. Today it was much softer. But still delicious and today I didn't add anything to it, just heated it up and it was as delicious.

So  big thumbs up for Zucchini Pizza Boats. Will be making these again. It may turn out that I'll still make homemade pizza for the family and make the boats for me but we'll see how it goes. I think an occasional boat dinner will work for the family too.

*A good friend recommended this Thyme-infused chickpea, vegan, gluten-free pizza crust option. I can't wait to try it out but wanted to share it with you now. h

11 September 2017

Make Time To Spend With Friends

It is so easy to get busy and find that weeks or months have gone by without checking in with your friends. I have some terrific friends here and in different parts of the country. I'm trying to do better staying in touch from a distance, thank goodness for social media which helps a lot, but can still be rather impersonal. I've been trying to shoot emails to friends more often to just say "Hi" and "How ya doin?"

Over the summer I have made it a priority to meet up with girlfriends for brunch or lunch every couple of weeks. We've had some great talks about schools, creative pursuits, home design and decor, about challenges we are facing and we've even read some personal development books that we've been sharing.

It is so nice to once a week or so be able to leave the grind of housekeeping and work at home and just get away somewhere different, to talk and think about other things and leave feeling renewed of soul. It's definitely a great when a friend can help inspire you and you can inspire them with your past experiences and dreams for the future. Plus it's giving me the chance to get to know friends' favorite cafes and eateries around our area.

While I've tried to do this as a habit over the years, this is really the first time where I've been able to maintain it regularly and it's been a joy. One of the best parts about our community here is that there are a lot of friends who have kids about the same age, are at the same school and often the same church. So we are able to do both family activities, fun kid things and parent get togethers with the families we know quite easily.

Because we live in an area where people have yards, backyard parties are easy to throw together and there is space for everyone to spread out and have fun playing or talking. That may sound weird to some people, but living in LA, most everyone lived in an apartment, so very few people had yards. We had to meet at parks or other places and it was not so easy. Not to mention we often had to pay for parking or entrance fees to many places. Things to be grateful for!

One of the things a girlfriend and I are doing is keeping a list of cool places in the city that we want to check out. Then when we decide to get together, we can choose something off the list. We've been to a cool book signing, a hip store grand opening and to some fun cafes. On the list we have added going to breakfast and to the farm shop at my favorite working farm/upscale hotel, happy hour at a favorite downtown historic hotel, a new french bakery, some local boutiques and museums we have yet to see. It's great to have a buddy to adventure to new places with and that helps me make it a priority to actually get to those places that I so often think I want to visit. This way it becomes a plan, rather than a wish that never happens. Having someone fun to go to those places with makes it even better. On our list are a few things we want to do with husbands too and families too.

Making time to spend with friends has been such a gift to us here and I think it's a great thing to do no matter where you live or what station in life you are in. It might be taking babies to the park with other mom friends or going to lunch with a bunch of empty nester friends but it's good for the soul no matter our age.

08 September 2017

Tourist In Our Own Town: Labor Day Weekend

Without realizing it, seems we've made a tradition of spending Labor Day Weekend as tourists in our own town. This year we slept in and then headed out for adventure time. We did some country and city this year and it was a perfect mix.

We started out at Wildlife West Animal Park. It's a small wild animal refuge. There are often fun events throughout the summer here and on Saturdays they have a chuck wagon dinner during the summer season. There are great birds and large beasts there. We came in the afternoon so at the end of our visit the animals were becoming more active after sleeping through the hot day. 

We really enjoyed seeing how the gray foxes dangle in the trees to sleep, watching the elk from just a couple of feet away rubbing and smacking his antlers into fencing and trees. It was very interesting to see that up close. That is one big rack!

We also saw two cougars up quite close and a black bear which we were glad to enjoy behind a fence instead of in our yard. I guess I haven't mentioned it here but we have had a lot of bear visiting our yard this summer. We had heard there had been no bear sightings in our neighborhood for a few years. Well this year there had been quite a bear problem on the east side of the city. We have seen at least three bears up close to our house, one even opening our back fence and coming very close to our back door just as my husband stepped out to see what had moved the gate. Scary. So we enjoyed watching this bear from a distance!

Our visit seem to last just the right amount of time and we were really pleased with all the animals we were able to enjoy. We had brought a nice little picnic with us which we enjoyed in a shaded shed/pavilion on the property. It was nicely cool in the shade and after being out in the sun for a couple of hours, having cold drinks, fruits, veggies and crackers and cheese were the perfect small meal to enjoy while we sat and relaxed for a while. By this point the park was just about to close, so we had the space all to ourselves which was nice.

We drove back to the city and then went to ABQ Uptown. Some of the shops were closed for the holiday but we had a nice time wandering around, made a few small purchases and then stopped in to try Frost Gelato. We were not disappointed. I tried Marbled Dark Cherry and Creme de Biscotti. The Man tried Avocado and caramel coconut something. Kiddo tried coconut and vanilla. We all tried each other's and had a peaceful time sitting outside as the sun set over the city.

We wandered a little while longer and then drove to Winrock Center, which is next door, and had dinner at Red Robin. By the time we got done with dinner it was 10 p.m. It was a fun day and we were all ready for bed by the time we headed home. It was fun to adventure around our city. We still have so many fun things to see and try. Days like this are great reminder for us to get out and learn fun things about our city and spend time in places that feel like us and that we enjoy.

07 September 2017

How To Grow Amazing, Beautiful Long Eyelashes

For years my sisters have been watching my eyelashes and giving me commentary on how to curl them, mascara them and make them a little more visible. I have very straight eyelashes and they weren't that long or full. This summer I finally took a step that got their attention when I started using Rodan + Fields Lash Boost. Now guess who both want Lash Boost for themselves!

I started using Lash Boost in mid-July and when I saw my sisters in late July they were already pretty amazed at how much my lashes had grown and that is with only using Lash Boost two to three times per week.  One tube will last a good long time, for me probably 4-5 months at the rate I am using it and the results are incredible.

My lashes have reached "as long as I want to go" with them, so I'm in a maintenance phase where I apply Lash Boost twice a week and even my husband has noticed how different my lashes look now. It's so easy to apply. The applicator looks like a brush for nail polish and you just swipe it across the tim of your top lashes at night and got to bed. While your eyes are closed your lower lashes get a dose too and you'll notice the growth pretty quickly. Check out these results.

Lash Boost is very well tested for safety and Rodan + Fields reputation is impeccable. At night when I'm taking off my makeup I sometimes think I haven't removed my mascara when I really already have. That is the power of Lash Boost, making those lashes look all thick, long and beautiful. I know so many people using Lash Boost that I have absolutely no question about how well it works. It's amazing.

As you probably know by now I am a consultant with Rodan + Fields. This is an amazing company created by the dermatologists who started ProActiv. These products aren't just skin care cleaning and moisturizing products - They are truly skin repair products . They can reverse the aging process in a way that I never thought would be possible.They will give you a complexion you thought you could never have again and make you feel like a different person.

Using these products truly gave me a new boost of life energy when I saw that I could grow amazing lashes and reverse the damage to my skin and feel better about the aging process that we simply can't avoid. The years may pass but we don't have to wear that on our faces. Feeling young on the inside goes fantastically with looking young on the outside!

I made the big decision to join this company when I saw the very real results of their products. I knew I would not be able to hold back telling everyone I knew about the availability of something so life changing. Active Hydration Serum has ended my battle with dry skin living here in the desert. I wake up with moist, dewy skin every day now.

The eye cream has repaired the skin around my eyes and they are much more open and the skin is much firmer and youthful looking. Took a few years off my looks there for sure. The Micro-dermabrasion Paste removes dead cells, softens dry patches and leaves my skin feeling ridiculously soft. My family absolutely loves the Lip Serum and it makes our lips amazingly smooth - and some people in our family traditionally have very crusty lips. The hand lotion makes my hands look younger and feel so soft.

I'm using the Redefine regimen and every day when I look in the mirror I'm amazed at how good my skin looks after a few years of just avoiding looking too closely and feeling like the passing years were winning the war. I'm back and I'm taking charge, feeling good and looking good.

Rodan + Fields products aren't miracle products. They continue to create improvement over time. So while you can grow crazy long lashes in a few weeks, you are also cultivating a lifetime of healthy skin care and results that will continue to improve over the weeks, months and years with the regimens and other products. I can't say enough good things about the products I've used. The Man really likes them too.

Lash Boost as a stand alone product has been unavailable since mid-July. That is how popular this stuff is. It's back and available for individual sale but you can also get some amazing deals when you bundle it with one of four skin care regimens, each which treat unique skin challenges. The bundle deals are such a huge savings!

My team is offering some special offers for anyone who buys Lash Boost before September 21, 2017. I'm giving away a free large toiletries bag that I make with any Lash Boost purchase. On top of that when you purchase through me you'll get special pricing and free shipping. This is a great time to grab some Lash Boost and grow the lashes you've always wanted.

Say goodbye to glue on falsies: the cost and all the maintenance. Lash Boost turns your own lashes into the lashes you've always dreamed of. Contact me today while this offer is available and we'll hook you up. You can also shop through my website: www.kcropper.myrandf.com. At check out sign up for Preferred Customer status to get great savings and free shipping. IF you have any questions let me know. I'm happy to help.
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