August 14, 2014

Delicious Dairy Free Vegetable Lasagna

Hey everyone! I'm stopping in today to share a dairy free lasagna recipe with you that is absolutely delicious!  It's healthy and hearty and super flavorful.  Matthew and I love this recipe so much- probably one of our favorite recipes we have ever made! So incredibly delicious and really nutritious.  It's vegetable rich while still having the normal lasagna noodles and pasta sauce.  The kicker? The "cheese" is replaced with a lemon basil cashew spread that mimics the flavor and texture of real cheese.  You can't even tell a difference!

Dairy Free Vegetable Lasagna

Box of lasagna noodles (get the ready to bake ones for ease- you will only use 8-10 rectangles)
1.5 jars marinara sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
10 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 large handful chopped spinach
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, cooked & crumbled
lemon basil cashew spread -the "cheese" (recipe below) **

Lemon Basil Cashew Spread **
1 cup raw cashews (soak in water for 30 minutes)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup water
1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (this is what gives it the cheese flavor.  I use Bragg brand in the organic section)
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp pepper
Drain cashews. Add in all of the ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.

1. Make lemon basil cashew spread in small food processor first.
2. Cook sausage until crumbled and no longer pink. 
3. Chop veggies and saute in a large skillet for 10-15 minutes.
4. Put together layers in a 9x13 casserole dish in this order: 1/3 sauce, 4-5 lasagna noodles, 1/2 lemon basil cashew spread, 1/2 vegetables, 1/2 meat.  Repeat.  Top layer should be the remaining sauce.
5. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 400 F for 30-40 min.


Here is a little photo tutorial of how I made mine!

Start by chopping your veggies. Zuchini adds such great texture and flavor
Keep all the veggies in a bowl for organization.
Sautee the sweet Italian sausage.
Make your lemon basil cashew spread- this stuff is so delicious!
Nutritional Yeast gives the lasagna the "cheesy" flavor.  It's a great product!
Sautee all the vegetables.   PS: So in love with our new pots and pans from our wedding registry :)
Start the layering process with some sauce and some noodles.
Spread some "cheese".
Add some sweet Italian sausage.
Add some veggies.
Once all layers are complete (see recipe above), top it with remaining sauce. 
Cover tightly with foil and bake in oven.
Mmmm. Top with some fresh chives.  
 Yummy dairy free goodness!


August 12, 2014

Revamping Old Picture Frames with Rust-Oleum

Good morning everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and Monday.  It rained cats and dogs here in Raleigh this past weekend so I got a lot of little things done around the house and a bunch of blog related stuff as well.  I signed up to attend the Problogging MiniCon in September.  It's a local conference for bloggers who live here in North Carolina.  Looking forward to meeting new bloggers, gaining new perspectives and ideas, and networking like crazy.  I'm super excited about this opportunity and I look forward to sharing all aspects of it with you in September.  

Over the last decade I have been accumulating an insane amount of picture frames.  I think this happens to a lot of people.  I honestly don't know where I got most of them but I felt like they all had cool shapes and textures and really just needed a modern makeover.  Most of the frames were dingy, drab, and desperate for some love.  I went to Home Depot and purchased some ultra cover paint and primer Rust-Oleum spray paint to paint them with.  I chose white because it is simple and timeless and so trendy right now.  I think you can never go wrong picking anything white.  #lovewhite

In my future home I plan to put these against some type of light gray wall in our office or hallway.  I think that would look really pretty and elegant.  I got some of my latest favorite pictures developed at Wallgreens to go in the frames.  Matt and I take a lot of fine art and nature photos so I knew a few of those I wanted to print plus I really wanted to frame some pictures from our travels and engagement shoot.  From the start of painting the frames to letting them dry to picking up my photos, the entire process took no time at all.  A few hours really.  This was such an easy and fun little DIY.  And the best part? It only cost me $3 for spray paint!

love the texture of this gold frame

Rust-Oleum Spray Paint
lay frames on some type of plastic mat
apply two coats of spray paint and let dry for a few hours
develop your favorite pictures and insert in frames

engagement shoot love 
coffee :)


August 8, 2014

Weekend Link Love

Happy Friday!  I just want to stop in and share some of my weekend plans, some of my favorite finds from this week, and cool links I found on the internet.

This week was long and busy for me but it flew by.  I clocked in a bunch of running miles at the lake so I feel amazing!  Matt and I finally got our wedding pictures back yesterday (they were a month late getting back to us so you can only imagine how angry I have been about it) so I am very happy to finally have them.  Even when you pay top dollar, you don't always get top dollar service.  And that is all I will say about that.  I'm going to share some of them soon once Matthew and I sit down and go through them together.  I believe it is really special to view your wedding pictures together as a couple before you start posting them to social media for others to see.  Make it a fun experience for the two of you!  I really can't wait to pin a lot of them to Pinterest! Stay tuned.

It is supposed to rain again all weekend here in Raleigh which means it will be lazy and productive around our house.  Mr. Truck has perfected the art of being lazy...and cute.  I absolutely love the rain.  When it rains, all I want to do is stay inside, blog, cook food and try new recipes (I think the crockpot is calling my name this weekend), and watch some good movies of course!  But, in my opinion, it doesn't rain enough here in Raleigh.  I just love it!  It rained all last weekend too and I cooked 6 new recipes.  It felt like I was in the kitchen for 2 days straight.  It was fun and I learned a lot about some new food products I had never worked with before so I'm excited to share that with you soon as well.

One of my favorite little finds this week was this adorable gold camera necklace I found at Target.  I LOVE it!  I'm gold obsessed.  I think it goes perfect with almost everything.  Definitely pinning this to my style board on my Pinterest page. #lovephotography

Here are some of my absolute favorite links from around the internet this week.  I can't even explain how awesome they are.  Please check them out at some point this weekend when you have some down time. 

-I am really into haunted houses and anything abandoned and run down.  When I go on road trips I am always on the lookout for old rustic and run down barns and farm houses.  You know, old scary stuff.  If I see them I will pull over on the side of the road to get some cool shots.  It's a fun little thing Matthew and I have taken up in the last few years.  So when I saw this website I was so giddy.  I really love #16 and #18 the most! Check out these Disturbing and Incredibly Awesome Abandoned Places All Around the World!

-If you love nature, traveling, and just plain awesome photography like me then you will love this so much. They are 16 of the Most Magnificent Trees in the World. I've been to one of them: The Angel Oak tree in S.C.  Read about my trip here!

Have a great weekend!


August 7, 2014

Mango and Blackbean Jalapeno Summer Salad (+ Why I Couldn't Eat It)

Happy Thursday everyone! It's almost the weekend!  I'm stopping in this morning to bring you another summer salad dish.  I can't get enough of them this summer.  This will be the last of my summer salads for this year as I have a variety of other awesome recipes coming your way soon.

This healthy recipe has a funny story to tell.  Going into making this little summer salad, I KNEW it would be awesome.  It has ALL of the great ingredients that I love: mangoes, corn, tomatoes, black beans, peppers, and more.  What could go wrong? 

Jalapeno Peppers.

A big no no for me.  I'm allergic to jalapenos but I overlooked that and figured it would be okay.  A long time ago I went out to dinner and ordered a quesadilla which was plated with cheese, jalapenos, and guacamole.   A slice of fresh jalapeno got stuck to the bottom of my quesadilla and I ate the entire thing without knowing.  With in seconds my lips were on FIRE! It felt like someone took a match to my mouth.  For a week, my mouth was swollen, red, crusty, and itchy.  I was completely miserable.

When I made this recipe I figured I would be okay since it had been so long.  I was wrong.  An allergic reaction ensued on my hands when I began chopping the jalapenos with a knife.  The juices of the jalapenos got underneath my finger nails and my finger tips were on fire.  I threw down the knife and ran to the bathroom screaming.  I tried to scrub away the juice from under my nails but nothing was working.  My finger tips burned for almost 4 hours.  And then my lips started to itch and burn, from the juices and seeds being present near me, and my mouth swelled up for about 4 days. I was such a hot mess.  It was not cute.

I knew I wouldn't be able to taste any of the salad.  Bummer.  

Some people, like me, are extremely allergic to jalapeno peppers while some people have no issue with them at all.  It's very specific to each individual so make 100% sure that when you are making food with jalapenos for your family and friends, that they are not allergic either. 

But on a good note, Matt LOVED this dish so I can confidently say, this recipe is delicious!

Have you ever had anything like this happen to you or someone you know? I would love to hear!

Mango and Blackbean Jalapeno Summer Salad


1/2 cup mango, diced
1/2 cup each green and yellow peppers, diced
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup grilled corn
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
4 tsp jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp red onion chopped
juice of 1 fresh lime
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt


Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.  Serve the dish with corn chips, pita wedges, or as a topping for fish.  Refrigerate any leftovers. Only good for about 2-3 days. 



August 5, 2014

Tuna & Radish Summer Salad

Radishes are a very under appreciated vegetable in my opinion.  At parties, they are usually one of those vegetables that people just pick around and don't end up eating.  I believe this is partly because people just overlook radishes in general and don't think to buy them at the grocery store.  Many people may not even know how to incorporate them into their cooking.  If either one of them is true for you, make a positive health change this week and add some radishes into your meal plan.  It's simple!  See some of my tips for cooking radishes below.

Radishes are beautiful, inexpensive, healthy (high in Fiber, Vitamin C, folate, and potassium) and are actually pretty fun to cook with! They cut very easily, cook quickly, and give a that extra pop of flavor and color to various foods. 

Matthew and I eat radishes at least once a week as a side dish with our dinners.  Our favorite way to cook radishes is to slice them into thin circles and saute them in a little butter, olive oil, salt and pepper.  And sometimes if we want to change it up a tad, we will add mushrooms and sweet onions into the mix if we want more of a vegetable medley.  But they are also good solo. 

Tuna & Radish Summer Salad

This Tuna and Radish Salad recipe is a spin off of a regular tuna salad.  I'm obsessed with tuna salad and chicken salad types of dishes so this one is definitely a winner in my book.  It's much lighter and lower in calories than the traditional tuna salad.  Instead of being mayo based, it is olive oil based with a few additions throw into the mix.


(5 oz) can solid white tuna in water, drained
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 radishes, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1/3 cup chopped parsley
4 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix until well incorporated.  I like to chill mine before serving  Serve in lettuce cups or with crackers.

Refrigerate any leftovers.