Friday, July 26, 2013

Random Friday Thoughts -- Spinach Ricotta Dumplings

Another impending weekend, another jam-packed couple of days. Tonight I'm having a "low key date night" with the boy as we look after some friends' kids. Tomorrow I'll be driving to New York to see two of my best friends from college, and then Sunday is my boyfriend's party for being one year smoke-free.


I am so beyond proud of him for going an entire year without cigarettes. I've never touched a cigarette to my lips but I've seen friends struggle with quitting. Especially if they've been smoking since they were teenagers. I feel lucky that I've never had to deal with a serious addiction, I cannot even imagine the self control it takes. It'll be good to celebrate such an accomplishment. It's very likely that I never would have hit the "message" button on the dating website we met on, had it said he was a smoker. So there are many many reasons why this is a very good thing.

So handsome.

Then onto Monday, another work week, another week closer to my trip to Austin (anyone have any restaurant suggestions for me??) to mark the end of the summer.

I feel like the summer is hardly started and already we're halfway though. With how brutal our winters are, it really is too bad that we don't get a few more days of summer. I've taken a challenge to not flat iron my hair until September, and I'm almost looking forward to it ending just so I can remember what it felt like to actually LIKE my hair... thinking of dropping the challenge early, but moreso I'm disappointed that I cannot keep to a freaking diet as well as I can commit to this silly thing. 



I've been hiding my thighs for most of the summer--I used to love short shorts, and crop tops, but not this year--because of my recent sizable weight gain. I'm hiding in longer skirts because it's cheaper than buying all new pants, since I don't have any I fit into anymore. Getting blood work done next week, to make sure it's not some medical reason. But I have a sinking suspicion it's just that I'm not doing it right. I have too many cheat days, I'm eating too many or too few calories, I'm not exercising right. Despite trying so hard for so long, I'm exhausted. I haven't been to the gym in two weeks and I have only been half paying attention to my diet. Trying to eat more veggies, avoid "bad" carbs, only let myself indulge once a week...

Sigh. Enough of that.

In other, lighter news, my cat finally posed for a Cat Beard picture. Excellent.


Also, in happier news, my dear friend and "bloggy bestie" Sarah from A Dash and a Pinch created this amazing header for me just because she was bored (and probably because she loves me). Isn't it darling? I'd been grumpy that I couldn't afford a blog redesign (they are thousands of dollars) and was getting distressed that I couldn't create a header that I liked. So, out of the goodness of her heart and simply being bored enough to do it, she designed me this amazing cartoonified version of myself. I am super in love with it! I keep looking at my blog and smiling :) She even got my heterochromia and my adorably clumsy cat into the mix. I'd love it if everyone would go check out her blog, to say thanks for me! And look at her romance novels she self-published, links on my sidebar. If you like steamy romances with either pirates or chefs, check them out!

Majestic.

And some housekeeping stuff--I updated my recipes, so it should be up-to-date now. Also, if you haven't already, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I made a goal of reaching 1000 Facebook likes and 500 Twitter followers by the end of the summer--help me reach my goal and I'll be forever grateful! Let me know you came from here and I'll follow you back :)


Finally, these dumplings were the best thing I've had in a while. I saw the recipe on a Weight Watcher's site, got all the stuff, and then Amuse Your Bouche posted an even BETTER recipe the day before I had planned to make them! So, using both recipes as a guide, I made a gluten-free version of the dumplings. Topped with homemade marinara sauce, they were surprisingly tasty. I typically get sick of a food after a day, but these ended up being my lunch all week. They are that good. And low calorie and gluten-free, too!

 Ricotta Dumplings
(combination of Weight Watchers and Amuse Your Bouche, with my own embellishments)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach (or one half package frozen, defrosted)
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup parmesean cheese, shredded or powdered, plus more for top
  • 4 tbs almond flour
  • 1 tbs coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (I used homemade, recipe in a future post)
  • pinch of nutmeg

-Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

-Wilt spinach either in the microwave (with a bit of water for a minute or two), or on stovetop with a bit of olive oil. Squeeze out excess water and let cool to room temp.

-Combine spinach, ricotta, eggs, parm, flours, nutmeg, and pepper in a large bowl and stir until well combined. With floured hands, form into balls and place on parchment.

-Bake for 30 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned. Serve immediately with marinara, topped with a bit more cheese.


33 comments:

  1. I love your new header. It's adorable. Blog redesigns are so expensive. I've been trying to figure out how to swing one too. The dumplings look delicious! Happy Friday!

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    1. I hope that someday my blog will make a little bit of money just to pay for things I want to do with it. Oh well. Until then I have wonderful friends :)

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  2. That's so amazing that your bf quit smoking-good for him! I hate cigarettes, blech.

    And I LOOOVE your new header! What a sweet friend!

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  3. These look SO good and I love that they're healthier - I have some weight to lose after having this baby! And I love the cat beard pic - HA! Also, congrats to your BF on a year smoke-free, that is fabulous!

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  4. These look really good and totally satisfying. And congrats to your boyfriend. My mom smoked until she was 40 and then stopped. It was such a good thing!

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    1. I make them when I reeeeally want pasta. They are good!

      His Dad is currently trying to quit. We're all rooting for him!

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  5. oh my goodness! these look AMAZING. and healthy! i love that they are baked too, because i tried to make boiled dumplings (or poached or something) once and they were a complete failure. definitely making 'em soon :)

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    1. The Weight Waters one said to boil, I took Amuse's advice and baked 'em!

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  6. The header is adorable! And congrats to your BF on the one year mark-such a huge milestone!!

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  7. Sadly, I know the weight problem too well :( I have an out of control thyroid that pretty much thwarts any attempts to tame it... I hope that's not what you have going on -- it's awful! Hair loss, fatigue, weird pain in my fingers, crazy 2-month long periods (TMI? Sorry). On a happier note, this is a healthy recipe that looks great! I also love, love, love your header and am crazy jealous of your cat beard. My furry babies do NOT cooperate.

    P.S. Added you on twitter :)

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    1. I ALMOST want it to be a thyroid, just so I have some sort of definite answer and something that CAN be treated... I'm scared nothing will show up and that the month of hell I put myself through going to the gym (I hate exercise) was just me doing it wrong. Urgh.

      Thanks for the add!

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  8. Congrats on his one year!!! The dumplings look perfect and your new header is so cute.

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  9. Yay your version looks so good! They're delicious aren't they!! Glad yours turned out as well as you'd hoped :) and thanks for the link back!

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    1. You're welcome! Thank you for posting your recipe, had I followed the weight watchers one exclusively, which says to BOIL them, I think I would have made a mess...

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  10. Ashley, what a wonderful recipe for summertime. I love ricotta and the combination of ricotta and tomatoes plus spinach is always delicious - this recipe sounds fabulous!
    I really like the "last picture" - the close up of your plate and your new header is quite catchy and very cute!
    Hope you are spending a wonderfully busy weekend!

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    1. Thank you! I love my new header :) And my pictures are slowly improving!

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  11. Those looks so delicious, perfect for date dinner. Congrats on one year!

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  12. My husband quit smoking after we started to date (I didn't even realize when he started quitting haha). It's one of the best decision he made, he said...and with the kids around now, yeah it's nice to be smoke free. :) Congrats! Ashley, I love your new header! So cute!! And love your delicious recipe too. :)

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    1. That's amazing, I hope Cory continues to be smoke-free.

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  13. Can't believe this is low calorie! Looks amazing!! Congrats on 1 year :)

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  14. I hope that you had a great weekend! Sounds like you had some fun things planned : ) These dumplings sound delicious - my sister would love them (she has to eat gluten-free). I'll have to make them for her sometime!

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  15. MAJOR congrats to your BF!! Quitting smoking is so hard (so I've heard) and staying off it is SUCH an achievement!! Try not to stress the weight too much. I've always found that the more i think/torture myself about it, the less likely I am to make any improvements.

    These dumplings look AMAZING! And they're healthy?! Love it.

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    1. His Dad is trying to quit right now, after 40 years of smoking--I can't even imagine!

      I haven't been to the gym or weighed myself in about two weeks. I was getting way too stressed about it. Trying to just make good decisions food-wise and then I'll ease myself back into exercising on my own time instead of getting up at the crack of dawn and hating life, hah.

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  16. Congrats to your boyfriend. That is something he should be proud about. I love the new site design, by the way. So cute!

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  17. Ashley, you are just amazing! The kiwi pops were so awesome! I even bought the Barefoot wine Moscato, you had in the pic. My company laughed at what dessert was, the pops, and everyone wanted the recipe ! I gave them your link! Thanks for making a great night, even nicer! Sheila K.

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