Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm so Awesome, I'm Jealous of Myself...

This weekend I checked another item off my list in true 'Diva' style.  I enjoyed a two day getaway with just my mom while we got pampered.  During our retreat we took full advantage of everything that the 'Safety Harbor Resort and Spa' had to offer, as well as enjoyed the town.  We did it up right.  So to describe the weekend, it will sound very much like you are reading the brochure for the property....

Nothing says Diva Weekend like Red Solo Cups
You will begin your weekend escape by checking in at one of America's oldest and finest spa resorts, and will be greeted by one of our friendly associates.  You will then follow the hall to the Olympia Tower to your spacious guest room complete with French Doors leading out to a private patio overlooking the Tranquility Gardens.  (It helps if you are reading this in a very soothing woman's voice where English is not her first language.)  After getting settled in, make your way to our quaint town for the 3rd Friday street festival.  Here you will taken in local culture with live music, local art exhibits and amazing food and beverage vendors.  (Translated - mom and I drank beer at a dive bar while people watching.)

The next morning, start your day off with breaking a sweat in the cardio room followed by some strength training in the state of the art weight room.  You can cool down with the healing mineral waters that can only be found in Safety Harbor.  (aka - they give you free water.  How nice of them!)

Enjoy an early lunch at the Fountain Grille Restaurant.  The contemporary inspired cuisine is complete with an innovative selection of delicious dishes that feature fresh ingredients and flavors of the Mediterranean.  After a light lunch, head back down the spa and fitness center to take advantage of all the amenities before indulging in your spa treatments.  Relax your mind and rejuvenate your spirit in the spa sanctuaries.  Here you can release all the stress of your life in the Turkish Steam Room and Finnish Hot Sauna.  Cool off with a plunge in the healing waters of the mineral springs pool.  (Or like I describe it - I sweat my butt off until I couldn't take it any more)

Now that you are relaxed, mom and daughter can enjoy more bonding time with a glass of wine in our private pedicure room.  You can sit and chat during the deluxe pedicure that features a sugar scrub for exfoliation, moisturizing lotion and hydrating masque that will relieve and refresh your feet.  Once your feet feel renewed, head to the meditation room to relax your mind before heading to your facial.  (aka - I took a nap!)

After you calm your mind, you will receive a 50 minute European Deep Cleansing facial.  This facial is a purifying treatment for any skin type that includes gentle exfoliation to remove dull surface skin cells, a luxurious massage and a heated hand treatment with scalp massage to complete the experience.  (Gentle is a large exaggeration - I must have some busted skin right now because she was digging all over my face with her needle during the 'extraction' segment of the facial.  I will give her some credit.  After the torture chamber segment of poking and prodding to bring to the surface all the bacteria I pretend isn't there, she did give me an awesome massage.)  

Now that the euphoric day of blissful spa treatments are complete, you can prepare for an evening of exploring the local downtown community.  With so many flavor profiles to choose from, Safety Harbor has a meal for whatever your craving is.  (Mom and I were craving BBQ so we had ribs, collards and a bottle of wine... because we are classy.)

Bonding over Martinis
After a nice, quiet evening, enjoy the comfortable spacious queen sized beds for a great night sleep followed by a filling breakfast at one of the local eateries before checking out.  When you check out of Safety Harbor, be sure to take the inner peace and calm mind that you gained during your stay.  (In other words, when you get home to 4 construction workers in your house and all your furniture in disarray, remind yourself that it is for the greater good of your home and shouldn't ruin your chi!)  

Well, you might think differently, but if my career selling cheeseburgers doesn't pan out, maybe I can be a hotel copy writer.  All jokes aside, I had an amazing weekend with my mom celebrating her birthday while crossing something off of my list.  She is such an amazing woman and I enjoy times when we get quality alone time like this.  We like to stretch our birthdays out as much as possible, so maybe we can start an annual tradition that during our 'birth month' we take at least one night a side to get a little Diva treatment and mom and daughter time.  One weekend of great one liners (such as the one this post is titled after,) story swapping, pampering and bonding over wine is never enough.  So, cheers to crossing another item off my list and celebrating a birthday, but more importantly, realizing that this shouldn't be a one time thing!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bruises Fade. Wounds Heal. Winners last forever.

The Battle Field
Silence crept across the barren battle field while we took our positions.  The air was cool and crisp but all I could feel was the warmth of my breath against my mask.  Heart racing while I prepped my weapon.  Then it came - the sound that the war has begun.  Quickly I darted for cover while I staked out the enemy.  The popping sound of guns were ringing in my ear.  One by one soldiers hit the floor.  It came down to two of us.  Only one could make it out alive.  I wasn't ready to give up the fight.  Slowly, I picked out the right timing to make my move into the enemy territory.  I gazed around the field and saw my target.  It was time to take him out.  The shootout began.  Rapid fire exploded across the field because neither of us are going to surrender.  Then it happened.  POP!  The enemy has been hit.  I was victorious.  

Team Barile AKA The Assassins
Yes, I am being quite dramatic with this bucket list item.  But this week, I crossed paint balling from my list.  My sweet friend Betty has been very encouraging of me during my 30 before 30 experiment.  She found a living social deal for paint balling at a place in Lutz.   We gathered up some other soldiers and the 8 of us headed out on Sunday to take the field.  Most of us were playing for the first time, but we had a few veterans as well.  We split our group up into two teams of 4 and played various rounds on 3 different courses.  I was pretty stoked when I finished the first round as the last man standing.  Everyone was in complete shock.  I did take a little offense to the fact that everyone expected me to be one of the first guys out, until we played our second round when I was instantly taken down.  I was quickly humbled.  

You Don't Want to Mess with Me

The Face of a Warrior
Team Victorious!

All the Soldiers Ready to take the Field
Honestly, I haven't had that much fun in a long time.  We are talking about making it an annual event.  Paint balling was a great rush and also a reminder of how out of shape I am.  I was getting killed by a group of 10 year old punks so badly it was comical.  But a great time nonetheless.  

Even after an epic battle, we can still be friends.

I will make one suggestion to anyone who is thinking of taking the field, especially to the ladies.  You will bruise.  The paint balls did not hurt when they hit, but they did leave some serious marks.  If you are going to try paint balling, go in the winter when long pants are a daily fashion choice.  Thanks to the beautiful marks on my legs, I will not be wearing shorts in public for a LONG time!

But, you can't go to war without a few scars, so in the words of Betty 'the fighter' Veinger - 

Bruises Fade.
Wounds Heal.
Winners Last Forever...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Livin the Florida Lifestyle

Last weekend I was able to cross two more items off my list in an awesome way.  My dad and I traveled down to the Florida Keys for a mini dad/daughter vacation where I was able to see the sunrise and set in the same day.

I took off after work and headed down to Ft. Lauderdale to meet up with my dad.  I threw my bag in his truck and we were on our way down to my uncle's place in the keys.  The car ride was perfect.  We caught up on everything.  I have been looking forward to this trip for a long time because it was the first time in 10 years that I spent time with just him.  We stopped at a little local joint for a fish sandwich and continued on our way to Sunshine Key.  We sat on the patio and discussed everything and nothing over a couple of cocktails.  It was exactly what I hoped it would be.

The next morning we grabbed some breakfast and headed to the marina to rent a boat for the next couple of days.  We spent the whole afternoon snorkeling and lobstering.  We were only able to come back with one bug but it was a great size.  We found a couple of great holes for the next trip down there. When the sun started to set we headed in for the day.  It was a little overcast, but feeling the cool breeze while smelling the salty air on our way back to shore was the prefect end to a day on the beach.

That night we grabbed some pizza at No Name Pub, then headed to a local bar to shoot some pool.  I felt like I was hanging out with an old friend that I haven't seen in a while.  We headed home and I quickly passed out.  It had been a long (fun) day and I was exhausted.  The following morning we woke up nice and early to head to the marina.  I was getting my sunrise!  Just as we started to pull away from the dock and headed through the channel, shades of pink and gold started to fill up the sky.  The water was glass and the only sound that could be heard was the soft hum of the motors.  It was so peaceful.  We took in the morning sky as we headed back out to the spot we were the day before. While lobstering we saw some nice snapper and wanted to see if we could do a little fishing.  Unfortunately, the only thing biting were little grunts.

The rest of the day was spent snorkeling and lobstering.  I discovered, I am awful at lobstering.  I cannot hold my breath long at all so when I get down there I end up poking them with a stick until they go so deep in the whole I can't reach them.  Luckily, my dad has a little more experience then I do.  We were able to add only two more tails, but found some great spots for the next visit.  We hung out on the boat until around 4 when we got cleaned up and headed down to Key West for the night.  We grabbed some great seafood on Duval followed by beers at Irish Kevin's.  I was terrible company on the drive back because the numerous hours we spent on the water the past two days caught up to me and I passed out on the way home.

We woke up early and headed back home.  It was just the right amount of time that we needed with each other.  I have a new appreciation for where our relationship has evolved to.  It is always a strange transition when you stop looking at your parents as the 'authority figures' of your life and see them as friends.  The truth is that the mutual respect that we have always had for each other has not changed, even though our circumstances have.  I am looking forward to the next time that Logan and I can get together with him and Lily, and am thankful we both are able to get away like that once in a while.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Bird's Eye View

After our failed attempt at seeing a great white shark, Logan and I were determined to cross something off my bucket list.  We left the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and slowed down for an afternoon in wine country.  The drive out of the city is amazing.  The views of the rolling hills approaching make you feel like you are thousands of miles away rather then just an hour outside of the city.

View from the car driving into wine country.
First stop was not for a glass of vino like you might expect, but rather some of the best fried chicken I've ever had.  There is a little spot called Ad Hoc, owned by the same chef of world famous French Laundry.  Instead of putting our name on a 3 year waiting list and spending $500 on a meal that would be memorable but also destructive to our bank account, we went the lunch route.  Ad Hoc does weeknight dinners and a Sunday Brunch indoors, but outback at 'addendum' you can get an amazing gourmet lunch box.  It was a great 'picnic style' menu which was enjoyed in their vegetable garden.  The chicken was worth every calorie consumed.  I haven't had fried chicken that good since my great-grandmother's, who made hers in the same traditional southern fashion soaking in buttermilk overnight.  If you are ever in the area I highly recommend making the stop.

With our bellies full of chicken and sweet tea, we continued our way to get a taste of some great California wine.  We were greeted for a private wine tour in Sonoma County.  (I love the perks of working in hospitality.)  We came at a great time of year because all the grapes on the vines were bursting with color and flavor, waiting to be picked during harvest, which starts this week.  Logan and I relaxed that evening with a couple of great glasses of wine and some much needed R&R.

The next morning we woke up nice and early ready for the day's adventure.  Today I would be crossing off 'ziplining' from my bucket list.  Not just zip lining, but zip lining through one of California's most beautiful places, the redwood forest.  We had a relaxing morning and took our time getting ready.  We then heading down to Bodega Bay after getting a tip from a local to go to 'the boathouse' for the best fish and chips we would ever taste.  Every morning the fishermen would go out to get their catch of the day and when they ran out, they closed up shop.  It doesn't get more fresh than that.  

The locals were right - this was darn good fish!

We took the coastal drive to see some northern California beaches and stopped in a cute little beach town.  When I say little, I mean one convenience store, a bar and a surf wear shop.  We stopped because Logan saw a huge sign that said casino.  Casino in their eyes is one video poker machine in the back of a dive bar.  However, we still go out and looked around so I could take a few photos.  There was something a little eerie about this place and I wanted to have a few shots for when I described it.  Then we found out why it felt so eerie.  This was the spot Alfred Hitchcock filmed the movie 'The Birds.'  I put my photos together... and now it makes a little more sense.

Killer Seagulls ready to make me their pray.
We left the twilight zone and headed to the woods.  I am ready for more adventure in my day!  We got a quick lesson on how to zip line properly and put on our very fashionable gear.  I felt bad for the guys in the group since the leg straps had to be very snug and gave them a nice codpiece for the day.  After we were all pro-zip liners from our practice we made our way to the 'bunny slope.'  The first zip line was short to ease our way into the day.  We would have a total of 5.  Logan was brave and went first out of our group.  He made it look so easy, so I went next.  

What a rush!  We cruised over the treetops with an amazing view hundreds of feet below.  The feeling is a mixture of exhilaration from cruising at high speeds at a pretty high point in the woods, while also peaceful and serene.  It was quite and the views were breath taking.  The longest zip line track we did was 800 feet.  It lasted about 30 seconds, but looking down from a height of 200 ft. was unreal.

The tour took a total of 2.5 hours and I got to experience the redwoods in an amazing way.  These trees are hundreds of years old and the tallest in the country.  We were able to look down on them from a bird's eye view - how many people can say that?  Our tour guides were incredible. They were so knowledgeable on all the species of trees we were looking at, constantly kept the afternoon's mood lighthearted with jokes and puns, while always giving us confidence that we were safe.  We had an amazing experience and I would definitely go back again.  I have to give a special thank you to Logan for making this happen.  He was monumental in helping me cross another item off my bucket list, but was overcoming one of his own fears of heights.  This might not be his first choice of how to spend the day, but he made sure that we both had as much fun as possible!  One more reason why I love him.  (Sorry for the moment of sappy, but it had to be said.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fog and Jelly Fish

So this was it.  Yesterday was the big day.  The biggest bucket list challenge on my list and I was going to complete it.  Excited doesn't even begin to describe the feeling I had.  Not to mention, every person who has crossed my path over the past year has been greeted with, 'Hi my name is Casey, I'm going to swim with a great white in (insert number of days.)'

We landed in the San Francisco airport on Monday morning and took a very expensive cab ride out to Berkeley.  Apparently we were the only ones who didn't get the 'rent a car' memo.  Oh well, poor travel planning.  We got to our hotel and it was too early to check in, so we left our bags and headed over to the dive shop to grab my gear.  The transaction was quick and smooth so we headed to grab some lunch to give the hotel enough time to get our room ready.  By the time we got back, all we wanted to do was eat a little dinner and watch Monday night football before going to bed early.  I keep forgetting how different the time is over here vs. East coast because Monday night football started at 5:30 here.  When you are like a kid on Christmas eve, this is a good thing since I wanted to go to bed super early.  Our boat was leaving at 6:00 a.m. with or without us.

That night was the worst sleep I've ever had.  I woke up every hour and looked at the clock to see if it was time yet.  Finally, I rolled over, looked at the clock and saw 5:00 a.m.  It was time!  I already showered the night before and laid out my clothes so it took a whole 10 minutes to get ready.  We grabbed our gear and headed downstairs to catch a ride to the docks.

We were greeted by our captain for the day James.  We headed over to the 'Superfish' and made our way on board.  The first thing I saw was the cage and the seal decoys.  It was really happening.

James did a quick safety overview with us and told us about where we were heading.  Our dive would take place at Farallon Island.  It is a natural sanctuary full of rare birds, elephant seals, whales, but most importantly, Great Whites.  According to their shark tracker, there have been about 13 great whites hanging around the island over the past few weeks.  Because of dense fog, they have not had any luck seeing sharks yet, so today had to be the day!

We took a 2.5 hour hike out to the Island.  The fog was thick and it was freezing cold.  Unfortunately for about half of the passengers on the boat, the rough waves were a little too much for them and they spent the 2.5 hours chumming the waters for us.  To give you an idea of the view - here are the BEST photos we took on our way out.

Going under the golden gate bridge

Our view of Farallon Island

We got to the island and anchored the boat.  The cage was lowered and in the distance, I could see a seal swimming.  I am still encouraged that we are going to see some action today.  The first group of divers suited up to get in the cage.  Go ahead and judge but I didn't want to be the first one in the water.  I couldn't feel my fingers or toes on the boat so I wasn't very excited to get into frigid water unless I knew there was going to be some things worth looking at down there.  I would be part of group two after the first set of people came out and told us about all the amazing sea life they saw.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the tale they told.  There was no sea life, except for a couple of jelly fish.  None of them were able to see a foot past the cage bars.  They ended up using their video cameras to just take footage of themselves underwater.

So that is how the rest of the day went.  A couple of people kept going in the cage and had the same story.  Jellyfish and sediment.  The fog didn't lift until we were getting ready to leave and the only seal we saw all day was the one when we first arrived.  I guess the great whites weren't hungry today and were hanging out towards the bottom.  Maybe they were on the other side of the island, but the water was too rough that we wouldn't have been able to lower the cage.  All and all, it was a day of fog and jellyfish... and trying not to get sick.  But, on the bright side, the crew was very friendly, food was good (for what I could manage eating,) and we did get to see some sea life.  As we were leaving we saw some Grey Whales which were cool.  People pay good money to go whale watching right?

The 'Jellyfish' cage
The decoy that didn't fool any sharks  this trip

Where I hung out most of the day 'looking' for any sign of sharks

The best shot of the Island we got all day called 'the devil's teeth'

It doesn't look like I will be crossing this off my 30 before 30 list, but it wasn't without effort!  It looks like I will just need to put this at the top of my 40 before 40 list that will come next and I will save up my pennies to go to Guadalupe Island.  After talking to many shark enthusiast yesterday, that is where the majority of shark sightings are, the water is crystal clear, and it is WARM outside.  Not freezing cold!  Logan and I do have a lot of great memories from this trip so far - seeing a great white just isn't one of them.

Even though I didn't see a shark - I still wanted to get my money's worth from the wetsuit.  If I can't cage dive with a great white, I can watch a movie about one while wearing a wetsuit and drinking a beer.  Cheers to a great vacation!

It's kind of the same thing...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth...

Okay, so maybe the Yuengling Brewery isn't the 'happiest place on earth' but anywhere you get a history lesson about the country's oldest brewery followed by free beer is pretty amazing in my book!  

The day started in one of the best ways possible.  My husband and I were celebrating 10 years since we started dating and I was woken up with a sweet kiss and breakfast waiting for me.  Pretty great start to my Saturday.  Logan had planned an afternoon of activities for us.  He started off by telling me how much I inspire him and this 30 before 30 challenge was an example of that, so he wanted to help me cross something off my list.  (I really did marry one of the good ones.)  We enjoyed our breakfast, got dressed and were on our way.

The brewery had a decent crowd of people.  We had a cute little tour guide who was studying history at USF.  Not a bad gig for a college job!  She showed us around the facilities and we learned all about the process of how beer is brewed from start to finish, including the bottling line.  The coolest thing we saw was the canning process.  It is pretty cool to see how they get that cold delicious beer into the aluminum cans.  

The tour took about an hour and took us back to the hospitality house where we were treated to two free beers.  They had their special Oktoberfest beer available, which of course I had to try.  I followed that up with their Porter which has a very creamy silky finish that was delicious.  

As we finished our beers and picked out some goodies from the gift shop, Logan shared the next stop on our agenda.  He explained that one of his favorite things about me is how much I value traditions and creating memories.  One of the stories that I have told him over and over again was how my dad would sneak us into Busch Garden's through the maintenance entry so we could spend the afternoon riding roller coasters, followed by a hot dog at Mel's Hot Dogs.  So of course, while we were in the area, Logan had to treat me to a Chicago Dog and a Yuengling Lager.  If you have never been, it is a Tampa staple and you truly are missing out on an experience!

The rest of the day was spent the way most of our Saturdays end up, just hanging out, laughing with each other and enjoying each other's company.  It was a great reminder why we have shared 10 years together and an awesome way to cross another item off my list.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Living in the Moment

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend about priorities and balance in life.  We were discussing our jobs and the amount of stress, worry, and hours of the day we put into our careers.  Why do we do that to ourselves?  Sure, we want to have a good job so that we can pay our bills every month.  Is the only way to be successful by working 60 hours a week, and constantly thinking of what else can I be doing for my company?  That was how I lived my life for years.  I always wanted to get ahead.  I was always looking for that next challenge at work, and I definitely ranked my job as the number one priority in my life.  It paid off.  I was awarded employee of the year for my company in 2010.  All my hard work was noticed.  Then I thought about what I sacrificed to get there.  I had no hobbies, no time to spend with friends, and while I am blessed to have a very supportive husband, my marriage was suffering.  

It was around the time that I made this list that I decided to make a personal change.  I would still work hard when I was at the office and have no problem putting in late hours when I need to, but work will no longer come first.  Life will come first.  Relationships will come first.  I was reminded of a quote from Abraham Lincoln:  “And in the end it is not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years.”  Spending all my time worrying about work is not 'life in my years.'  (Just to stay honest, I had to look up who said that quote.  I remember statements that I like, but am terrible at remembering their authors.)  

So I made new promises to myself.  I will work hard and be passionate about my job, but when I leave work, I will actually leave work.  I will discover hobbies and new passions in my life that are completely my own, for me, and no one else.  I will dedicate time to growing myself as a child of Christ.  I will make an effort everyday to develop my relationships with my friends, family and husband.  I will be the woman God made me to be.

Last night I was enjoying a night of keeping promises.  I was at a concert spending time with my two wonderful aunts and loving husband.  My work email was off, and I was doing two of my favorite things (listening to live music and spending time with family.)  During the concert, a song came on that I thought was a perfect summary for this year in my life.  I thought it was a great fit for this blog and my intentions with creating it.

 "Living In The Moment"

If this life is one act

Why do we lay all these traps?
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days

Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go of what I know I don't know

And I know I'll only do this by
Living in the moment
Living our life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home
Living in the moment

I'm letting myself off the hook for things I've done

I let my past go past
And now I'm having more fun
I'm letting go of the thoughts
That do not make me strong
And I believe this way can be the same for everyone

And if I fall asleep

I know you'll be the one who'll always remind me
To live in the moment
To live my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home

I can't walk through life facing backwards

I have tried
I tried more than once to just make sure
And I was denied the future I'd been searching for
But I spun around and hurt no more
By living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

She's a vegetarian (Mary Moon, Mary Moon)

Starting on Monday, July 9th, I dedicated 30 days to living the meatless lifestyle.  Because of this change, I know there were a few more Wilburs running free.  

One of my hopes/goals of my herbivorous diet for a month was to discover more entrees using vegetables as the star.  I've always been a huge veggie lover, but have limited them to strictly side dishes.  Also, it seems that many websites I looked at limited 'non-meat' entrees to pasta dishes which are heavy carbs.  I discovered new and fun ways to prepare my greens and have shared the best recipes below.

Biggest challenge:  Dining out!  It is so easy to make fun, filling, flavorful meals at home, but dining out makes it very limited.  I ate a lot of veggie burgers, ordered side dishes as my main meal, salads without protein (not filling at all) and pasta dishes.  This does not help you lose weight if anyone is considering a vegetarian diet for weight loss purposes.  I feel like I have been carbing up which was the opposite of my plan!

Because I love a little food porn, here are some of my favorite recipes and some photos to make you nice and hungry and ready to binge eat without the guilt.

Veggie Sandwich:
This sandwich is very filling and delicious!  I layer tomato, avocado, red onion, cheese and sprouts on honey wheat bread.  I made a horseradish herb mayo that I spread a thin layer of on one side and the other side was stone ground mustard.  The small hint it adds to the sandwich is the perfect final touch.  To make the horseradish herb mayo, simply mix mayo with horseradish and your favorite herbs - I used fresh chives and dill.

Bang Bang Cauliflower -   RECIPE HERE 
Here is how mine turned out:
So Yummy!

Portobello Mushroom Burger:
We had a ton of left overs from 4th of July so while Logan ate regular burgers, I made my own portobello mushroom burgers that were amazing.  Here is what I topped it with:  herb mayo (same one I used on my sandwiches), sliced avocado, melted mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions, sauteed spinach and tomato. 
I served them with zucchini fries with an onion dip on the side. RECIPE HERE

Go to snack/appetizer:
Caprice Salad:  Juicy tomato stacked with fresh basil and mozzarella cheese then drizzled with balsamic.  Yummo!

Go To Pasta Dish:  I chopped up and sauteed spinach, mushrooms, scallions, garlic, fresh basil and zucchini then tossed in a red sauce. All the veggies gave it the texture of a meat sauce that I love.  The first time it was served over pasta.  I also served it over spaghetti squash for less carbs and topped it with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  I was able to get 4 meals out of the sauce.  

Cheesy Brussels Casserole.  RECIPE HERE.
I used fat free cheddar cheese and brown rice to keep this dish as healthy as possible.  Turned out very tasty and filling.  It says it is enough for 2 portions, but I was able to get 4 out of it with no problem.  I just added more Brussels and kidney beans, but left the other portions the same.

 The most amazing Eggplant Parm recipe ever.  RECIPE HERE.  Fried Eggplant wrapped around a basil, ricotta and Parmesan mixture topped with a red sauce and mozzarella cheese then baked.  Served with a side of spaghetti squash.  I will be making this again and again.

This meal was very indulgent.  Avocado Fries with a basil and ricotta aioli dipping sauce served on the side of my 'grown-up' grilled cheese.  The grilled cheese consisted of a sun-dried tomato spread, goat cheese, roasted peppers and sauteed spinach with shallots.  Oh My was it amazing!  Avocado Fries RECIPE HERE

Oven-Fried Okra
Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Baked Tomatoes topped with sauteed spinach,
mozzarella cheese and a balsamic drizzle

Peppers stuffed with Chickpeas and Couscous