A WALK TO REMEMBER…

We had a great time while Albi’s mom was in town. She was a big help and Liv finally got to meet her Nani! Since the sun was out on her last day in Cali. We decided to show Miza where Albi and I got married. 

Three years ago we had a small wedding on the bluffs in Malibu. A few members of our family and close friends were able to join us in celebrating our relationship. It was a beautiful ceremony that I will always remember. We hadn’t been back since and this time we got to bring our newest addition in the family. 

Afterwards, we went to one of our favorite Japanese BBQ restaurants called Gyu-Kaku. Miza loved the food! My favorite are the garlic noodles. There are multiple locations in Los Angelss, but if you’re in the valley. I’d recommend the Burbank location. We normally would go to the one in Sherman Oaks, but the parking and the restaurant can get a bit cramped…

The day turned out to be one for the books. The weather was perfect, the food was delicious, the company was enjoyable and Liviana was a good girl! 

If you’re looking for a breathtaking wedding location. I highly recommmend Malibu Bluffs Park. We found the spot hiking and fell in love. Plus, it was free and you can’t beat that! 

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH + TURKEY STUFFED SHELLS

I try to find recipes that aren’t only delicious and healthy, but can feed us for at least two days. And this recipe happens to meet those needs. Butternut squash is a versatile vegetable and it’s even in season right now! It’s always best to try and eat what’s in season. Just like ordering food at a restaurant. You wouldn’t eat tacos at the best burger joint in town, would you? Eating according to what’s in season is better for your body. Here’s a great post on Mind Body Green about the 10 Reasons to Eat What’s in Season.

Now if you’re a fan of pasta, healthy eating and simple recipes like me. I highly recommend this recipe. Plus, it’s husband approved! If you don’t have the extra time to cut the butternut squash. I would suggest buying the pre-packaged cubed squash. Let’s get started, shall we?  🙂

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes | Servings: 4 

Ingredients: 

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed

Half an Onion, sliced

¾ cup Milk

¾ cup Vegetable Broth

1 lb. Turkey, ground

2 cups Spinach

3 cloves Garlic

1 lb. Jumbo Shells, cooked al dente

15 ounces Ricotta

1 egg

¼ cup Parmesan, shredded

Additional parmesan, shredded

Olive oil or Coconut Oil

Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Arrange onion and butternut squash in an even layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil and season with salt & pepper. Roast for 50-60 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook ground turkey over medium heat. When turkey is mostly browned, add the spinach and garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat.
  4. Place roasted butternut squash and onion in a food processor or blender
  5. Pulse until a smooth puree forms. Allow to cool. Stir in milk and vegetable broth.
  6. Pour butternut squash sauce into base of a 9×13 baking dish.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, parmesan, and egg.
  8. Add turkey and spinach into ricotta and stir until evenly distributed.
  9. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling. Arrange shells in butternut squash sauce in the 9×13 baking dish.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil followed by 15 minutes uncovered. Top with additional parmesan.
  11. Dig in!

GARLIC SPINACH PARMESAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH

I had not heard of a spaghetti squash until my older sister mentioned it to me a few weeks ago. Whenever I call my sisters I always ask them,” what are you cooking for dinner?” It helps me get inspired and share recipes with them. Thanks to our parents, we always enjoyed home cooked meals growing up. And we ate as a family at the dinner table every night. I am very grateful for those memories with my family. I also remember our Dad was strict when it came to eating as a family. We couldn’t even touch our food until everyone was seated at the table and we said grace. I miss my Dad every single day, especially even more now that I’m expecting a baby. But, I know they’ve already met and he most likely taught Liviana all his jokes and crazy little sayings. I’m literally tearing up as I type, I can’t believe it’s been 8 years since he past away…

So yes, my love for food came from my parents. And I have to admit it took me a good while to get the hang of cooking. I was not the best, but I did try and try some more and now I think that I’m a pretty good cook. It wasn’t until I moved away from home and lived with my boyfriend (now husband) where I really had to roll up my sleeves and learn.

Let’s get cooking shall we? My husband and I were both surprised at how a spaghetti squash can look like pasta once it’s cooked. We think the texture and taste is wayyy better than zucchini squash. So, we will definitely be cooking this meal again!

Total Time: 1 hour | Servings: 4

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter or Coconut Oil

5 ounces Fresh Spinach

3 Cloves Garlic, Minced

  • I buy the minced garlic in a jar because I was tired of my hands smelling like garlic every-time I’d cook. My husband doesn’t like garlic to over power his food. So, I probably use half a spoonful in this recipe. But, if you love garlic use as much as your heart desires!

1/4 Cup of Cream

  • I use half and half instead of heavy cream because (1) it’s cheaper and (2) it’s healthier I think…

1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan

1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella

For the Spaghetti Squash:

1 (2 to 3 pound) Spaghetti Squash

2 Tbsp. of Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise from stem to tail and scrape out the seeds. Drizzle the cut side with olive oil (or rub with coconut oil) and season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the squash is too hard to cut, you can place it in the microwave for 2 to 5 minutes to soften.
  3. Place the squash face-down and roast for 40 minutes or until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. The squash can be roasted and stored in the fridge for a few days if you like to meal prep and plan for a speedier dinner.
  4. While the squash roasts, start on the sauce.
  5. In a medium pot or skillet, bring a drizzle of olive oil or coconut oil to medium-high heat and sauté garlic until fragrant.
  6. Next add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add your cream (half and half) and parmesan cheese and stir well.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
  8. Once squash is done roasting, allow to cool until easily handled and use a fork to separate and fluff the strands of spaghetti squash.
  9. Pour your sauce over each squash boat, stir to mix and top with mozzarella cheese and additional parmesan cheese, if desired.
  10. Back at 350 degrees F for around 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  11. For a golden cheesy topping, flip your oven to broil on high for just a minutes or two until lightly browned.
  12. Enjoy!

WEEKLY GROCERY BUDGET + MENU

My husband and I do our best to stick within our $100 weekly grocery budget. By doing this I create a list of meals to cook for the week. If I’m stumped for ideas I’ll ask Albi if he has any requests. The day we grocery shop varies each week because a couple of meals will provide leftovers for the next day. This allows us to stretch our budget into the next week. And since we bring our lunch to work and prefer not using a microwave it will consist of the following: cheese, yogurt, a boiled egg, nuts, some sort of fruit, hummus, carrots or celery.

I had mentioned to my older sister that we create a menu each each (which is something our younger sister does) and try to stick with $100. But at times we might go over budget $25-$50 because of those household necessity items that need replenishing such as: toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, body wash, contact solution, toothpaste, floss, etc. Not too much longer and we will be adding diapers to that list…

Anyways, I figured that I’d start sharing our menu and the amount I spend on groceries each week. So, for this week I went grocery shopping on Saturday, October 29th at Walmart. They just opened a new one in Burbank and we are so excited! We normally shop at Trader Joe’s, but it can be a bit more expensive. I still prefer certain items from Traders and will make a quick trip when needed, especially for their seasonal items!

On the Menu:

Saturday, Oct. 29thChicken + Dumplings

Sunday, Oct. 30thLeftovers

Monday, Oct. 31st  – Garlic Parmesan + Spinach Spaghetti Squash

Tuesday, Nov. 1st Leftovers

Wednesday, Nov. 2nd – Turkey Tacos with Sweet Peppers + Corn Tortillas

Thursday, Nov. 3rdBrown Butter Scallops with Polenta

Friday, Nov. 4thEggplant Parmesan with Orzo

Saturday, Nov. 5thChickpea Curry with Rice

Sunday, Nov. 6thMushroom, Basil, Cheese + Turkey Bacon Polenta Pizza

I also purchased the following: eggs, fruit, snacks, Kleenex, juice, contact solution, medication, body wash, coconut oil, sponges, flour, floss, honey and a pair of leggings for this pregnant mama which were only $3.78!

Total – $163.75

After cooking the Spaghetti Squash last night (which was a hit) I realized that I need to buy more Parmesan Cheese. And I plan to use the string cheese on hand for the meals that call for Mozzarella, gotta improvise!

I hope you enjoyed this post. I look forward to sharing more of our weekly menus with you!

Also, I’m curious what are your weekly or monthly grocery budgets and where do you like to shop? And what are some ways you save on groceries?

ONE OF THE BEST PIZZAS IN LOS ANGELES

While my husband was out of town on business. My brother-in-law was kind enough to check-in on me by asking if I needed anything or if I was hungry (knowing I’m pregnant and all). Plus, his wife is also expecting, so he understands. Anyways, he suggested pizza, which made me crave our favorite place nearby located in Burbank called Dino’s.

Their pizza dough has great texture and they have quality toppings. I love when you can eat the entire slice because the crust is even delicious! If you’re ever in Burbank, I highly recommend you stop by Dino’s. They are a local pizza joint that isn’t like those commercial places that stay open late. They are top-notch and make a great pizza, which is something that should be hard to mess up. But, with some of the other places we’ve tried in the past you’d be surprised… Stick with the best kid, you can’t go wrong.

I ordered a medium pizza, but my BIL went with a large instead…I chose to top it with mushrooms, applewood bacon, basil and ricotta cheese. It was so delicious, the ricotta was my favorite part!

Also, cheers to a caring family members!