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Monday, January 30, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

On Friday night, my boyfriend and I decided to try something new and make "Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Ricotta and Spinach" courtesy of Real Simple magazine. I felt like it deserved to be blogged about because spaghetti squash was something I had never eaten, or even seen, before.


[You can find the original recipe from Real Simple here.]


I was a little nervous about finding a spaghetti squash in the first place, and when we went to the grocery store to buy ingredients, they didn't even have it. . We found it in another store, but it wasn't even labeled and they had only TWO! Phew, close call.

First, we mixed the ricotta, egg, spinach, garlic, nutmeg, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. It calls for 4 cups of chopped spinach. FOUR CUPS! Do you know how long it takes to chop FOUR CUPS of spinach? Forever, that's how long.


 We mixed until it looked like this:


 Next, the recipe says to cook the squash in the oven for 50 minutes. But really, who has that much time? So we nuked it in the microwave (don't worry, Real Simple said it was okay) for about 15 minutes.

The (halved) squash
 After the spaghetti squash was nice and tender, we scraped the guts into the bowl with the spinach and ricotta mixture very gently. Brenden was a stickler for preserving the strings, and it turned out alright.

Now I know why it's called spaghetti squash...
 Once it was all combined, we plopped it in a casserole dish. The recipe says to use an 8-inch square, but the closest to that I had was an 11 x 7 and it filled it nicely. (Don't bother with the traditional 9 x 13, that's way too big).


 We sprinkled mozzarella over it and baked it at 400 for 20-ish minutes, and let it cool so the cheese could solidify.


It turned out to be delicious, even though Brenden was worried about a meatless meal (psh, men.) And we even had enough for leftovers! I'll definitely be making this one again.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Coldest I've Ever Been While Also Being Indoors.


In case you were wondering, yes, I had an awesome weekend. I got to go home and visit my family AND  go ice skating! Not something us Southerners do very often, so it's always a blast. 

What was the occasion, you ask? It just so happened to be my littlest sisters' birthday and when the baby of the family wants an ice skating party, she gets it. She sure does a great job of making me feel old. 

Dad and the Birthday girl 
After I finished getting on my skates, I was texting (of course) and I heard someone call my name. Naturally, I assumed it was one of Abigail's friends wanting money or something, but I looked up and it was my friend Ashton I've known since birth, but hadn't seen in like TEN YEARS because I moved away. And we happened to be at the same ice rink in the same city (not where either of us are currently living) and ran into each other! What a crazy random happenstance! 

Here's us, reunited. 
 When we eventually got around to skating, I have to say I did a fine job. I'd like to attribute it to my natural athleticism and coordination, but it's probably because I got some good practice in over the summer. And by practice I mean I went once. But when you live in the south and ice skating is like a "once every 5 years" kind of thing, I'm ahead of the crowd. 


** Side note: Ice skating in the summer is GREAT. It's hot outside, but you can cool off and get a good work out! The rink I went to in DC wasn't crowded at all and it was so fun. So fun. But that's a story for another day. 


By the way, I did not even fall once. Proof: 


 
















I just had to add this because this is what she gets for stealing my camera. 

Also had to add this one just because of Dad in the background.


 Unfortunately, Mom was behind the camera most of the day, but we'll get some pictures next time I go home.  Although she can been seen in the background of this shot. And if you'll notice the caption on my cup...
The cup says "Amanda aka Coolest Person Ever". 

I really want to go ice skating again. Any takers? 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adventure to Miami- Orange Bowl Style


Yes, it's true. I was one of the lucky thousands to attend the ORANGE BOWL! Some friends and I took a road trip down to Miami, Florida and it was great! Except for the score of the game, but we won't talk about that.

We left super early the day before, all piled into my boyfriend's mom's minivan, and made the 11-ish hour trip down to South Florida. We managed to keep ourselves entertained, and all six of us made it there alive.

Because we are poor college students**, we stayed at  Oleta River State Park in the cutest little cabins!  Unfortunately, it was one of the coldest weeks in Miami ever...probably. And there was no heat in the cabin. I slept in at least three layers of pajamas every night. In the spring it would be great though!

See? Super cute. Super tiny. 
Outside one of the cabins
The park was beautiful.  It was right in the middle of the city, which was really weird. You could be walking through the woods to get to the beach and look up and see huge high rises! It was pretty cool. 
A view from the park
Palm tree on the nature trail to the beach
Because the Orange Bowl wasn't until 8 that night, we had pretty much all day to do as we pleased.  Brenden and I went on an adventure to try to find the beach in the park and we stumbled upon this:

Cool, huh?
Our Clemson Converses on the beach

And then we kept walking a little farther and found THIS gem: 

The most beautiful deserted beach I've ever been on. 

Is that not fantastic? We could see the sailboats out on the water, palm trees behind us, white sand and clear water all around.


Also, while we were basking in the joy of a quite beach, we noticed off to the side there was a film crew apparently shooting a Spanish soap opera.  Brenden noticed that we were lucky enough to be in the background of one of the shots! I do think this was our big break. I'm not sure which soap it was, but I'll just have to watch all of them now to see how famous we really are.

The soap opera film crew!



Someone made a TV and chair. We took a minute to relax... Being on TV is tiring.
After we got tired of the beach (hey, it was too cold for swimming!) our group went to the BEST little Cuban restaurant I've ever visited. It's called Little Havana (not actually in Little Havana, that's just the name), and I recommend it to anyone visiting Miami.


After lunch we decided to explore downtown Miami:

The city from the interstate

Sarah being a tourist
A truck blocking a "Do Not Block" intersection. Fool. 

We eventually made our way over to a little park ( I have no idea what it's called) and had some fun walking around there too. We enjoyed the art (especially Brenden. See below for evidence) and found an awesome view of the bay.

It's art. No, it's a slide. No, it's art. No, it's both! 










Standing around


Brenden and Ross, supposedly imitating the animals in the sculpture. ...I don't see it.
These next few pictures are why I love Miami: 

I will never get tired of this picture. 




Justin enjoying the view
After a little more walking around and hanging out, it was FINALLY time to go to the game! 

Clemson University (the best school ever, in case you were unsure) and West Virginia were facing off at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.  This was Clemson's first major bowl appearance since 1981, and we only got there because it was our first ACC Championship win in 20 years! Woo! I really did love cheering on my Tigers. Even though it was a frigid 45 degrees out. 

Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins
Sarah's ready for the game!
Brenden was all decked out for the game. Coolest person I know, not even kidding.
Brenden's Game Day outfit. 

Everyone except Justin (oops) waiting on the game to start. 
The band spelled "Tigers" in traditional script- always a crowd pleaser.
Go Tigers!
One of my favorite parts was when guys from the Air Force Academy parachuted into the game. This had no purpose except for the fact that it was cool. And yeah, it was really cool. 



The team made a valiant effort (at first) and put up a fight. Things didn't turn out so well, but next year I think we'll come back swinging. 

The grand entrance
Sammy Watkins, star wide receiver!
Cutest mascot ever!
Also, Train was the half time show. I was going to put a picture, but it was hardly exciting enough. At least there were fireworks to distract from the fact that they did two, yes TWO covers. 


Brenden's awesome Clemson shoes! 
My shoes were almost as cool as Brenden's. 
So, despite the disappointing loss, the trip was awesome.  I got to spend some quality time with friends and go to an actual important bowl game! Maybe next year we'll be on to bigger and better things.


**Donations can be made to Amanda Rollo, Clemson University, South Carolina, USA.