Easy 30 Minute Dinner Recipe: Mozzarella Stuffed Ground Turkey Meatballs, Wild rice, and Cucumber/Tomato Salad

This is very easy! But if you’ve never made meatballs before it could be intimidating…don’t fret. Just make sure that the ground turkey is well seasoned AND you don’t make the meatballs too big…you will be frying them and need them to cook through! Here’s what you’ll need:

1 pound of ground turkey
~5 Chunks of slices of mozzarella
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
1.5 cups of your favorite tomato soup
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
½ cup of bread crumbs (use your favorite)
1 cup (2 cups cooked) of your favorite rice – I use wild rice!
½ cup of cut up cucumbers
½ cup of cut up tomatoes
3 tablespoons of balsamic
olive oil

Okay, ready to tackle this? Go.

First, take the ground turkey and mix it up with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I use my hands…you’ll have to use your hands to make the meatballs anyways. You can add parsley or whatever other seasoning you want too…it won’t hurt! So get ready to get dirty. Then cut up the mozzarella chunks so there is about 10, you can do more based on how many meatballs you want to make (aka pending on their size).

Now, use your hands to make small balls with the meat (it fits in my palm and I have tiny hands) take a small chunk of mozzarella and put it in the middle of the meatball. You shouldn’t see the cheese at all. Now, roll this around LIGHTLY in breadcrumbs. Set aside on a plate and make the rest of the meat like this. It’ll make between 10-13 meatballs.

Now, set the rice to cook.

In your largest skillet, put the olive oil so that it covers the skillet BUT NOT TOO MUCH. This is important. You want to put the skillet and oil on high until it heats up then reduce to medium. Place 3-5 meatballs in the skillet, do not over crowd it. While they are cooking…

In another large skillet, or just a pan if that’s all you have, add the tomato soup and pasta sauce and put on low.

Mix this every so often.

Roll the meatballs once or twice in the skillet. When they are a DARK brown on all sides, move to the red sauce combination and let them rest in there while on low. Keep doing this until all of the meatballs are done. When the LAST meatball is put into this mixture, turn it on medium-low and leave on for about 5 minutes. It’ll boil, that’s okay.

Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, and balsamic; place this in a small salad bowl and set on table. The rice should be done by now, put your portion on plates.

When the meatballs are done, place as many as you’d like on the plate and add a little bit more sauce on top. I topped it off with some parmesan cheese and inhaled it! It’s really scrumptious and, if well seasoned, it’s full of flavor. Have fun with this quick dinner!



Easy 30 Minute Dinner Recipe: Smoked Salmon Sandwiches, Oven Roasted Asparagus, and Wild Rice

As a VERY busy grad student, I love quick and easy dinner recipes! Especially ones that don’t involve pasta and canned sauce or frying an egg for dinner. If you like smoked salmon you will love this. It was so easy to make and delicious. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 package or bundle of Asparagus
Your choice of bread- I did a French baguette because they are delicious to make sandwiches on
A package of smoked salmon
Your favorite (not sweet) cream cheese- I did a store brand chive and onion because I thought this flavor would compliment the smoked salmon
1 cup of your favorite rice (2 cups cooked)- I did wild rice because I think it’s delicious

First things first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees for the asparagus.

Cut off the ends (not tops- for the non-asparagus user) and drizzle olive oil, pepper, and salt on the asparagus.

Place in a pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Next, cook the rice. This should take about 15-20 minutes as well so the rice and asparagus should be done at about the same time.

When there is about 10 minutes left of the baking and cooking, cut your bread into sandwich slices (pending on the bread you are using, this could be different), the thicker the bread the yummier this will be. I imagine this would be delicious with ciabatta! Now toast the bread to your liking, I like a little burn :).

Get your plates ready because you will be plating as soon as the bread is toasted! As the bread is done toasting, add your cream cheese to it. Add as much or as little as you’d like. I don’t do much because the smoked salmon has a great flavor on its own in my opinion. Then add a folded over slice (or two!) of salmon to the toasted bread with cream cheese. Plate and set plates aside.

The asparagus should be done, pull it out of the oven and put your portion on your plate! Finally, add a little bit of rice!

This is a slightly carbier dinner than what I usually eat (with the bread and rice). However, it’s delicious and if you’re cooking for someone…they’ll think you slaved because it looks so fancy! It’s also fun to cook and fast paced!

Enjoy my friends!


Mango Fruit Leathers <3 Olivia

I love bringing dried fruit snacks with me to work because they are easy to eat on the go and pretty good for you. The bad thing with some of the store bought fruit leathers is 1. they are expensive 2. although they are fruit and often advertised as serving as a fruit serving, they are processed and often devoid of a lot of the nutrients that make fresh fruit so good for you. These mango leathers are simple to make (but you do need a food processor or blender) and full of natural goodness. It takes a long time to dry them out in the oven so you want to do this when you will be home for 3-6 hours. It is a sweet snack you can feel good about eating, and it is also pretty satisfying to make your own fruit leather! Mango is easy because no additives are needed. It is possible to make all sorts of fruit leathers but some fruits require honey, etc to be added in. I will experiment with those in the future. For now…

Mango Fruit Leathers

– 2-3 very ripe mangoes
– Parchment paper
That’s it!

You want to set your oven to the lowest possible temperature, or WARM, depending on the settings you have. My oven goes to 250 (too hot for this!) and then warm. For this recipe you want the oven to be approx. 150 degrees, so I used the WARM setting on my oven.

1. Start off by cutting your mango to cut the most fruit out of it as possible. Everyone cuts mangoes differently, I typically do this –> http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cut_a_mango/

2. Once your mango is cut into pieces throw it all into the food processor/blender. Process that until you reach a puree consistency (ok that reminds me of swallowing recommendations for dysphagia…) Anyway, once you have reached that consistency you are ready for the next step.

3. Line a baking pan with parchment and pour out the mango puree onto the parchment. The tough part here is to really smooth out the mango so it is even across the whole pan. You want the layer to be thin, approx. an 1/8 of an inch.
The puree is NOT smooth enough here, but just to give you a general idea of what you should be working with. It is ok to keep it slightly thicker on the edges because they will dry a tad bit faster.

4. Once the puree is all smoothed out you can carefully place the pan in the oven. Cooking time varies from about 3-6 hours so you will want to check the leathers every so often. When they are done they will smooth, solid, yet sort of soft and a little sticky. You will be able to easily peel up the edges. You want the leather to come off clean, if there is puree still coating the parchment your leathers probably are not done yet. Check often because these will not taste good burnt!

5. When they are done take them out of the oven and slice them up. I kept them rolled in parchment or wax paper so they did not stick to anything and were ready to go with me to work.

Enjoy ❤ Olivia

Pineapple Cupcakes with Coconut Sugar Glaze <3 Olivia

YUM! Biting into these Pina Colada flavored cupcakes is amazing! I love the sweet pineapple pieces. I kept the coconut in the frosting only but you could throw it into the batter if you wanted a more intense coconut flavor. I was very excited about making these because 1. pineapple in a cupcake sounds delicious and 2. it is a fun and unique twist on the cupcake. Making them is easy! If you are feeling lazy you could use boxed cake mix and add the extras but I recommend making it from scratch… here it goes.

Pineapple Cupcakes with Coconut Sugar Glaze
Makes 24 cupcakes

For the pineapple cake:
– 2 and 1/3 cup flour
– 3 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1 tsp. vanilla
– 3 eggs
– 1 and 2/3 cup sugar
– 1 cup milk (any type is ok–I used 1%, whole is ideal)
– 2/3 cup butter, softened
– 1 can diced pineapple (8 oz)
– 1 can crushed pineapple (8 oz)

For the sugar-coconut glaze:
– 2 cups confectioner sugar
– 2-3 tbs. milk (start with 2 and add more as needed)
– 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
– Shredded coconut for topping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
1. In a bowl stir together your flour, salt, and baking powder.

2. In another large bowl combine the softened butter and sugar. Stir (or use a hand mixer) to combine until fluffy and well mixed.

3. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract, combine well.

4. Now you can stir in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) into your butter sugar mixture.

5. Mix in the milk.

6. Now open up your pineapple cans and pour in the liquid and pineapple. Gently combine.

7. All your ingredients are now combined. Pour into lightly greased muffin tins (or use liners) and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes. I think mine were in there for about 33 minutes. TIP- when I make muffins and cupcakes I like to fill my tins pretty high in order to get that big cupcake shape. But with these cupcakes you only want to fill about 2/3 way up because the batter is very sticky due to the pineapple juice and will spread, it is a pain to clean off the top of the pan 🙂

For the icing:
1. Combine all ingredients and stir until it has reached the desired consistency. If you want the glaze thicker, use more flour and less milk. Add in the vanilla IF you want a vanilla hint to the glaze– I left mine as a sugar glaze.

2. Once the cupcakes are cooled you can spread the glaze on top and then sprinkle the top with your shredded coconut.

❤ Olivia


(image taken from Google Images)

I am someone who really enjoys going out to eat and experiencing new restaurants and environments. This past Friday I had friends visiting from Baltimore. Myself and my other friends in Arlington, who were going to join us on Friday night, spent a long time researching fun new places to go for dinner and drinks. Finally, we decided on EatBar after some debate. A few people I knew had gone there previously and had recommended it so we figured why not after looking into the menu.

I was apprehensive at first because the menu is small and I knew there was not a lot of parking available. But man oh man…was I wrong about everything!! I called earlier on in the day on Friday to make sure that they didn’t take reservations, since there was 5 of us, (they don’t) and just to ask about parking. A really helpful man informed me about their parking lot, street parking, AND that after 6 you can park across the street at the cleaners – who knew!! So my fear was erased.

We got to EatBar around 8pm and were worried about the wait. There was none (which after eating the food, drinking the drinks, and the overall environment we did not understand). This restaurant is nothing short of a scene out of Sex and the City or something you would expect in Manhattan. It is a lounge which is decorated fabulously and the whole environment is this trendy relaxed “take a load off” scene. There was a fake fire going on a huge flat screen TV in the front room, which houses the bar and some booths, nooks and crannies (very cozy). We sat in the back which was full on lounge style. U shaped couches all around, some bar tables and stools, and another bar area. We loved the ambiance.

Now onto the BEST part of the place (and this is saying a lot because the environment and feel of the whole place was great!)…the food and drinks!! We were all in a very relaxed mood, so everyone got wine and beer. The men got their pumpkin beer and they raved about how delicious it was. The ladies all got different types of wine, their selection is plentiful, and all the wines were delicious.

The menu is small…but do NOT let this fool you. Everything on the menu is amazing. It is tapas style so we decided to all get 2-3 plates and share. They have amazing “sliders” which are very very reasonably priced…they are bigger than your typical sliders and we tried all of them! Each slider was more amazing than the next. The lamb and pork ones were definitely the man favorites of the group. I tried the fried green tomato slider (first time trying a fried green tomato- been missing out!) and it was amazing. The batter was incredible…honestly my mouth is watering thinking about it. We also tried the chicken croquettes, corn bread, and the bang bang broccoli. Truthfully, each dish was better than the last. The broccoli was in a sweet and sour chili sauce and fried (I know…), it was different and savory. We all loved it. The corn bread was HUGE; we got 2 orders and could barely finish them. Every single plate was larger than your typical tapas plate and incredibly reasonably priced (might even say on the cheap side for the type of food they are offering).

I will ABSOLUTELY be going back to EatBar. I’ve already informed my friends and family that I will be taking them here when they come visit. The website link is below…if you are in the Arlington area you MUST swing by here. It is going to be our next girl’s night out and I cannot wait for more reasons to go here. What a hidden gem!!




Healthy Mexican Flavors, Turkey and Veggie Lasagna


One of the first things I ever attempted to make on my own is lasagna (for obviously delicious reasons). I have practically perfected the recipe but I change it up here and there. Sometimes, when I want a heartier version, I add in ricotta cheese. Today I wanted to make a healthy, veggie packed, and Mexican flavored lasagna. I make this in a small glass lasagna dish since I’m only cooking for one (and get plenty of leftovers!!). Here’s what you’ll need:

1 jar of your favorite pasta or tomato sauce
½ a pound of cooked and drained ground turkey (do this first and put it aside so you’re ready to add right away)
1.5 peppers diced up
1/2 can of corn (rinsed and drained)
1/2 can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 package of your favorite oven ready (no boiling required) lasagna noodles
4 slices of whatever cheese you like (I did pepper jack this time to play up the Mexican flavors)
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Mix everything but about 3/4 cup of the sauce and the cheese (set these aside) into a big bowl. Now you’re ready to start layering.

Start by covering the bottom of your lasagna pan with the red sauce; make sure you still have some left over. Then add a layer of the lasagna noodles. Pour in the mixture of the ingredients so you are covering the noodles. Keep rotating from noodles to the mixture until it is done, be heavy handed with the mixture…should be about 3 to 4 layers if you are adding enough in between. The last layer should be the mixture. Then add the extra left over sauce and layer the cheese slices next to each other.

Bake at 375 for about 45-50 minutes (longer if you’re doubling the recipe). You can tell it’s ready when the cheese starts to brown. It’ll be tasty and you’ll want seconds and thirds…trust me. This is also something you can freeze and reheat for later meals. You can add in any veggies or meats you want or take anything out, adding cheese inside makes it even more delicious. I just like the combination of beans/corn with the peppers and turkey! Make to your

Doubling the recipe will result in a full lasagna pan…like I said this one is just a small one. The dish is healthy too because the ONLY cheese is on top. So it is practically veggies upon veggies and turkey with red sauce and a few noodles!



Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage Brown Butter <3 Olivia

Soo good! This recipe is inspired by a dish at Founding Farmers in DC (if you live in DC and have not been there yet, you are doing something wrong–it is literally incredible). This recipe can be made into a ravioli dish which is great, but more time consuming. I will post that one at another time. This is healthy, flavorful, seasonal, and relatively easy to make.

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage Brown Butter:

– 1 box pasta (I used rigatoni, but it doesn’t matter)
– 1 butternut squash
– 1 package fresh sage leaves (a good handful)
– 1/2 onion (any color)
– 5 tbs. butter
– 1-2 tbs. olive oil
– 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
– 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
– salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Peel your squash until the orange color shows on the edges. I used a vegetable peeler. Once it is peeled you cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Then dice your squash into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. Place squash on a baking pan.


2. Cut up your onion into pieces that are about the same size as your squash pieces. Add those to the pan.

3. Toss onion and squash in olive oil to prevent sticking, season with salt and pepper. Bake until they begin to get soft and brown, approximately 35-40 minutes.

4. Once that is about halfway done you can start boiling your water for the pasta. Follow directions on box.

5. In a sauce pan heated to medium heat place the butter and sage (roughly chopped into large pieces- reserve a few leaves for later) and stir constantly. The mixture will begin to bubble and brown, continue stirring for about 4 minutes. Once the butter is browned you are ready for the next step.

6. Reduce heat slightly. Add the garlic to the brown butter and stir constantly for 45 sec- 1 minute. Remove from heat.

7. Once the vegetables are done remove them from the oven. You are now ready to combine the pasta, vegetables, and brown butter into one large pot/bowl. Stir in parmesan if desired or add to each individual serving as a topping. I like to add the remaining sage leaves to the top, finely chopped for extra flavor. Sage is so good but very intense, omit this step if you don’t want extra sage flavor.
Enjoy this delicious autumn meal!

❤ Olivia