Recipe of the Month – Spinach Artichoke Pasta

I love Spinach Artichoke dip. One of our local restaurants serves a Spinach Artichoke pasta which is basically pasta mixed with that delicious dip. Wanting to make my own, I searched the internet and found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman website. Delicious! (This recipe makes a lot so I half it.)

 

 

 

Ingredients

6 T. Butter

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 bags baby spinach

2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and halved

3 T. flour

3 cups milk

1/4 t. cayenne pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

1 1/2 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese, grated

salt and pepper to taste

12 oz (weight) Penne Pasta, cooked

crushed red pepper, to taste

Directions

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot or skillet. Add garlic and throw in the spinach. Stir it around until it’s wilted, about 1 minute. Remove spinach from heat and set aside. 

Add 2 tablespoons butter to the same pot and raise the heat to high. Throw in the halved artichokes and stir it around until they get a little color, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the artichokes from the pot and set them aside.

Reduce the heat to low. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the pot. When melted, sprinkle in flour and whisk until it’s combined. Pour in milk and whisk to combine. Let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until starting to thicken. Add Parmesan, Monterey Jack, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir to melt, and if it’s overly thick, splash in some chicken broth.

Add artichokes and pasta, tossing gently to combine. Gently fold in spinach, then pour the pasta into a serving bowl. Sprinkle the top with crushed red pepper flakes.

Serves 10

Trying Noom to lose weight

I set out today to write an update on my experience with Noom, the health app designed by behavioral psychologists to help you lose weight for the long run. Then as I was looking back at my posts, I realized I have never written about my decision to try Noom.

Between 2013 and 2016, I have lost weight by counting calories. This method does work. I am proof of that. But it never failed that I would gain the weight back as soon as I resumed eating normally and not watching my calorie intake.

This is where Noom comes into play. Yes, Noom has you reducing and counting calories, but they focus on making tangible, sustainable lifestyle shifts. On this diet, there is no food that you cannot eat. You are not cutting carbs or fats or anything.

Instead, you learn about portion control, calorie dense foods, and your eating triggers (boredom, stress eating, clock-based meals). The hope is that you learn to CHANGE your behavior so that when you reach your goal weight, you maintain the new behaviors and keep the weight off.

In January of this year, I weighed myself and was not happy with the number. I had slowly been noticing my mid-section getting pudgy. Really, that wasn’t surprising. I am in my forties, and my metabolism is slowing down. (Not to mention I have had 2 kids.)

So through April, I did nothing. I wanted to start exercising but didn’t. I dreaded counting calories as I enjoyed eating the way I was. I mean doesn’t everyone want to lose weight with no work and no food restrictions?

Finally, in May, I decided to do something. I had seen ads for Noom and was intrigued with the promise to change your behaviors so that you didn’t gain the weight back.

On the site, you enter in your information (weight, age, activity level) and your goal weight. A custom plan is developed. You can try out the plan for $1 for the first two weeks. After that they will charge you a fee on a regular basis. For my plan, after I entered a coupon code (always look for a coupon code before purchasing anything online), it was $62 for a two-month membership. And two months is all they said it would take to meet my goal of losing 18 lbs. Before the trial date, you can cancel. And if you don’t want to continue after the first two months, you just cancel before the renewal date by sending a message to your coach.

I did the daily weigh-ins and counted my calories. But it goes beyond cutting calories. They care where the calories come from. You are encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables while restricting processed foods, red meats, high-calorie condiments and snacks. The app even counts your steps as they encourage you to aim for 10,000 steps a day. Of course, it only works if I carry my phone everywhere with me.

In the first 2 weeks, I lost 2 1/2 lbs. I found the app easy to use, and the daily articles were interesting. I am not too thrilled with my personal coach or with the support group I was assigned. But I decided to stick with it. And now after 12 weeks, I finally received my goal weight.

I will continue using the app for the rest of my paid subscription, and then I’ll cancel it. Now will this time be different? Will I maintain my weight and not gain it all back as I’ve done in the past? Well, only time will tell, but I feel pretty good about it.

Celebrating seven years of blogging

Seven years ago, on July 30, 2012, I began this blog. And now 1,678 posts later, I am still here blogging away.

Oh yes, things have changed. I use to try and blog Monday thru Friday. I used to host authors every week. As I’ve gotten busier, the number of posts per week/month have dropped, but I still try to blog three days a week.

I began this blog to discuss a few things that are important to me – parenting, writing and publishing. And those things are still important to me. If you are new here, please feel free to click on the topics on the left and scroll through some of the posts. I hope you find something of interest.

For those of you who want to know why my blog is called “Into Another World,” click here to read my very first post.

Image result for champagne toastHere is to many more years of blogging. If you have a suggestion for topics related to writing fiction, publishing or marketing a novel, please suggest away in the comments below.

And now a quick recap of the types of posts, I have written in the past seven years…

General posts – 100

Parenting posts – 365

Quotes of the Week – 361

Recipes on the Months- 83

Writing posts – 262

Publishing/Marketing posts – 144

Number of Authors Hosted – 325

This post count doesn’t include my promotional post for my own books, recaps, holiday messages or calls for authors to be on my featured author spot.

Wow!

An Arcade-themed breakroom

Last week, I wrote about my husband’s new office and covered some of the decorations that are not found in a typical law firm. The one area that I didn’t cover was the break room.

If you read last week’s post, you know that we tend to decorate with things we like – Batman, Avengers, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones. We even put photos of roller coasters in one of the spare offices. So, what to do with the break room…

We went with an 80s arcade theme.

The main attraction of the room is an arcade machine we bought that has 400 arcade games from the 80s. We needed something to put it on and planned to build a simple shelf. But on a trip to Home Depot, we saw these glass bricks on clearance and that simple shelf turned into this.

Surrounding our arcade machine is 3 metal posters from Displate. It is pretty cool that they are put up with magnets so no additional holes in the wall.

My husband also wanted a dart board. I bought this electronic version with safety darts on Amazon. We did have to have electrical outlets run for both the arcade game and the dart board. Next to the dart board is a pinball print I found on Etsy.

Also from Etsy, I found these metal signs of old video games and these Rubik Cube/Pacman creations. They were quite delicate as my husband broke one the first time he tried to pick it up, but luckily the vendor sent a few extra Rubik Cubes, so we were able to repair it. He then put a clear coat on them to hopefully secure them together better, but I am betting if they ever fall off the wall they will be in a million pieces.

Leading into the break room, we hung this lighted arcade sign that I found on Amazon. It runs on batteries.

For the counter, we have this Space Invaders canvas container to hold snacks, and I decorated an apothecary jar for their Sweet&Low.

The employees love the room. Now the only issue is making sure they don’t spend too much time playing in the break room rather than working.