soul and body meet in faith, food, and fitness

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Pesto Pizza with Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts Pizza

One of my husband’s favorite meals is his mom’s pesto pizza. I don’t know if there is a real recipe for her version or not, but I dared not try to recreate it….mostly because I had few of the ingredients on hand. So I started from scratch with what I had, which was a pile of fresh basil, a flatbread pizza dough recipe, a ball of fresh mozzarella and went from there.  Upon opening the fridge to grab cheese I discovered leftover bacon from Sunday brunch and Brussels sprouts several days past their prime. So what’s a chef  pregnant lady to do? Pile them on the pizza. And you know what? It was a huge hit. Happy day! Continue reading


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A few of my favorite things…er recipes that is

A few favorite recipes

A few lovely women in my life recently asked for some “Jennspiration” in the kitchen and since it’s been too too long since I’ve shared a bit over here, I thought I’d pass some of it along to you too – in case you’re feeling a bit blasé about your recent kitchen creations.

In my current state of life – unmarried and childless – I have a lot of freedom in the kitchen. I find great joy spending time cooking and experimenting with ingredients I like or want to try out. Cooking (and eating) is a stress reliever for me, so spending time in the kitchen is not much of a chore.

I do hope as I embark on the adventure that is marriage with my best guy, I hope I will continue to find as much joy in feeding those I love once it’s more of a daily task. You see, right now, part of what keeps me interested, I think, is that I tend to cook a couple times a week and in large enough quantity that I eat leftovers for days.  It’s great, because then I have lunch ready for the work week or enough that I’m not cooking every night of the week. I fear cooking will lose some of it’s luster once I’m cooking to keep a family well fed.  Have any of you had that experience? 

Anywho, back to the matter at hand. Here are a collection of some of my favorite recipes and meals I return to over and over again. You know that scene in Julie and Julia where she takes her first bite of egg and simply says “yum” with a goofy grin? Yeah, well that’s me eating these recipes.  Ask Philip – he says he can handle my audible affection for food so long as the good stuff keeps coming.

Korean Spicy Noodles: Makes a large quantity! Great for taking to a new mom who might be tired of the bountiful pans of  lasagna lovingly prepared for her.


Spicy Asian Chicken with Brussel Sprouts: Amazing any time of year. I prepare with brown rice.


Zucchini Butter: perfection for the high zucchini months of summer. Great on toast, under an egg, on a flatbread and made into pizza.  And tasty on it’s own. Yum.


Grilled Spicy Salmon After a long hiatus, I made this again recently and it’s delicious over a salad!


Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese Fall perfection. Enough said.


Freezer Lamb Meatballs Recently I made these with ground beef instead of lamb and they were equally as wonderful as when I’ve made them with lamb! This time I served it over spiralized cucumber tossed with a bit of plain yogurt, lime juice, cumin, feta, salt & pepper. It was so delightful I could have eaten it for days!


Other things I tend to make over and over again that are easy:
  • Spaghetti squash with sausage, and  sauteed 3 pepper and onion starter blend  (freezer section of Kroger)
  • Pork Chops: thick cut, brined in salt water for a couple hours and then seasoned with some kind of spice blend like Penzy’s Barbeque of the America’s. Never brined a pork chop. It’s a revelation. Try it!
  • Hamburgers – my favorite is to add in cumin and some Worcestershire sauce for a bit of savory.
  • Ground beef with onions, peppers, zucchini and Italian spices. Sometimes I add in spinach if I have it.
If I’m really stuck I tend to return to the blogs I know I can trust for quality and not overly fussy recipes (generally speaking). I get super overwhelmed by all the opinions on site such as allrecipes or other large ones, so that’s why I turn to the blogs I read first and then move on from there if I can’t find what I’m looking for.
Smitten Kitchen (never made a bad recipe here, ok, maybe once)


Dinner A Love Story (great for feeding families with potentially quick and easy recipes or with fussy eaters)


Simply Recipes (a lot of basics on the site, but also some gems I’ve collected over the years).


My love of cooking comes from seeing the joy it brought my mom to feed us growing up and now learning on my own to take quality, flavorful ingredients and eek all the joy out of them that I can. Happy cooking!

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Flourless, sugarless chocolate chip cookies

Spent after hosting a 4th of July cookout last night, I didn’t much feel like being in the kitchen today and wanted to enjoy some of the leftovers relaxing in the sun. So I did. It was wonderful, but my meal felt unfinished after my sandwich stacked with veggies and leftover carrot salad from Smitten Kitchen.  I’m reticent to admit that meals generally feel unfinished without a smidge of sweet at the end.

Carrot Salad with Tahini and chickpeas

Have you made this salad yet? You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

I know I can’t eat dessert every day, let alone every meal, but being a holiday weekend and seeking the comfort of a handheld sweet, I turned to a recipe I’d pinned on Pinterest and adapted it to my ingredients and intuition.  It’s a recipe that meets at the intersection of comfort (a cookie!) and healthier eating (no sugar! no flour!).

If you are the kind to like classic chocolate chip cookies, you will be disappointed. But if you are the kind who likes a less sweet but still tasty cookie too – these are a good substitute on a day where you don’t want to ruin otherwise good eating.  On a whim today I whipped them together in about 7 minutes and used the 7-10 minutes baking time to clean up my lunch and cookie dishes before I returned to the porch to continue resting and recovering. Thankyouverymuch.

Flourless, sugarless choc chip cookie

Flourless, sugarless, chocolate chip cookies

2 ripe bananas

1 heaping Tbs of PB2

1 c quick oats, pulsed in food processor until fine

1/4 c old fashioned oats

scant 1/2 c chocolate chips*


Pulse bananas and PB2 in food processor. Mix in a bowl with the quick oats (finely processed) and old fashioned oats. Add chocolate chips. They will be a bit runny, but if it seems more like batter than dough, add more oats.  Drop in balls onto a greased cookiesheet. Sprinkle the top of each with a few flakes of salt.  Bake at 350 for 7-10 mins.

*I used dark chocolate chunks because that’s what I had.  I would recommend using semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips so the chocolate’s sweetness doesn’t overpower the cookie.


Strawberry Basil Shakeology Recipe

Strawberry Basil Shakeology Recipe
I’m a big fan of summer berries and I’ll tell you, one thing I discovered last summer was the deliciousness of a Strawberry Basil Shakeology! That was pre-blog days, so I didn’t have a good way to share my favorite way to drink Shakeology during the longest and warmest days of the year.

It’s a bit out of the box to make it this way, but the flavor combination will surprise you! What better way to use up your over abundance of basil from the windowsill or garden this summer?

Porch BasilStrawberries
Strawberry Basil Shakeology
Makes 1 shake

1 scoop of Vanilla Shakeology

1 handful of fresh basil

5-6 strawberries, frozen

1/2 or 1 banana, frozen

6 ice cubes

1 cup water*

Add ingredients to your blender. Blend and enjoy!

*I prefer to use water in my Shakeology most of the time, but sometimes I will use half water/half milk. Others prefer to use unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, etc.


Sriracha Maple Steak Marinade

I don’t know where this month has gone! It’s been three weeks since I’ve posted anything and I’ve wanted to share this recipe with you for nearly as long! I’m blessed to have lean, juicy steaks from my parent’s small farm in Indiana and with the recent acquisition of a grill, (cedar plank salmon! grilled pizza! kebobs! Oh, the possibilities!!) I think this marinade will add some nice variety into my normal recipe rotation.

A homemade teriyaki marinade is my favorite for chicken, steak, and all varieties of pork, but a month or two ago when I was pulling steak out of the freezer I decided I wanted a bit of variety. Using my old standby marinade as a jumping point, I created something delicious, but with an intriguing twist of flavors. It was even better the second go around, so with a head nod to the official start of summer, here is my new summer go to…

Sriracha Maple Marinade
Sriracha Maple Marinade

enough to marinate two steaks

1/2 c lite soy sauce

2 tsp Sriracha sauce

2 Tbs vegetable oil

2 tsp lemon juice

1-2 Tbs maple syrup*

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.  Pour into a ziploc bag or container with the steaks at least 12-24 hours ahead of cooking the steak. After a couple hours of marinating, flip the steaks so they flavor evenly.

*Note on maple syrup: It’s worth it to use the real stuff. I didn’t try it, but I imagine you would lose a lot of the complexity of the flavors by substituting pancake syrup that you have in the fridge. It’s worth using the real stuff if you have it! The sweetness cuts the spicy, so go more towards 2 Tbs if you wish.

Soba stir fry

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Salvaging a bad day

Pfff. Today was rough.  A 30 minute commute turned into 2 hours because of a road closure this morning and it seemed that all technology was boycotting its use.  After all, half the world (or at least Cincinnati) had a snow day – shouldn’t our file system as well? Frustration mounting, I snacked on some junk food, felt sorry for myself, and complaining internally.  Around the dreaded happy hour of 3pm I decided I needed to salvage the day somehow.  I still had a workout in front of me and my poor eating wasn’t going to give me the energy I needed to do it.  So I grabbed an orange and tried to pull myself out of my bad mood.

What my mood was like before my workout

pretty good representation of my mood before working out today

Contrasting the morning commute, I made it home and shoveled the drive in record time so I could hit play. I’m on the final week of T25 and grabbed the bonus Core Speed DVD  that I had yet to try.  Wanting a tough workout to get my aggression out, I shoved it into the DVD player and got to work.  And man! does Shaun T know how to push it. Twenty-five minutes later my mood – and seemingly my evening – was salvaged.  Like hitting the reset button, endorphins have the power to take a mostly horrible day and turn me around from the monster mood I was in make me feel normal again.  Continue reading