recipe: baked pasta

You know, the original focus of this blog was healthy eating and living. You wouldn't know it by looking at today's recipe…gooey, cheesy baked pasta.

Baked gnocchi

Between work, school, and trying to keep myself sane, cooking has taken a major backseat in my life since the summer. It's just one of the ebbs and flows of life, but my lack of interest in cooking really limits what I eat. Anything that can be made with minimal effort and in under 20 minutes seems to be the level I'm reaching for lately.

Baked pasta has become a staple for us this semester. It feels like I took the time to do something and gives leftovers for the next day. That's a huge win-win situation right now.

baked pasta

1 package of pasta, your choice (I've been using penne lately)
1 jar tomato sauce
2ish cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cook the pasta according to direction and drain. Combine the pasta and sauce in an oven-proof dish and top with cheese. Bake for 5 minutes, then switch to broil for another 2-3 minutes.

Soooooo easy, soooooo good. It feels like I used a little more effort to bake something than to just do normal spaghetti. Sometimes I even use alfredo when I'm feeling indulgent.

book progress

Reading is power

I've finished three non-school books in October. I have read more for pleasure this month than I have since high school. Being able to escape school once in a while (or more) has really helped me manage my stress levels. This means that you great people will be getting bombarded with book reviews in the upcoming weeks. 

In September, I finished The Happiness of Pursuit, and you can find the review here.

October saw me finish Sophia Amoruso's #GIRLBOSS, Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl, and Christian Rudder's Dataclysm (a great use of OK Cupid outside of dating). Over the course of the month, I've purchased a number of urban planning/politics/economic books (my first academic love) and I have Amy Poehler's book coming sometime today.

Coming up on the November reading list, I have The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work, Who's Your City?, Amy Poehler's Yes Please, and (maybe) Rise of the Creative Class Revisited.

December will have a focus on urban issues, with For the Love of Cities, The New Geography of Jobs, The Jungle, Death and Life of Great American Cities, and The Great Reset (can you tell I'll be done with school and on vacation most of this month?).

What books do you recommend checking out in the new year? I'm huge on urban planning and economics, open data/big data (especially with social issues), and anything written by a famous power gal.

PS: Links galore through my Amazon Affiliates account.

10 things i would miss about the tampa bay area


I believe that you never really enjoy where you live if you can't name 10 things you would miss about it. After 20 years in this place, I think I can name 10.

1. Flip-flops year-round. There are maybe 10 days I year I can't wear flip flops here, and you can bet I at least try during those 10 days.

2. Palm trees everywhere. It's really all I know.

3. The 6th floor of the Crescent Hill Parking Garage at USF. After 20 semesters on campus, I could write a book about what I would miss about USF. I grew up on that campus. This is where I shed many tears and had many revelations.

4. The tesla coils at Lightning games. Because what other team creates actual lightning at their hockey games?

5. Morning drives on the REL portion of the Crosstown. This is the closest to the Autobahn you'll get around here. 80 mph every morning.

6. Publix. Specifically the Carollwood Village, Tampa Palms, and Winthrop Publixes.

7. USF football games. We're terrible, but I never regret going (even those deadly 3:30 games in September).

8. Florida Santa decorations. Santa and palm trees make perfect sense to me.

9. The fact that I can complain that $1000 rent is too much. Because this is Tampa, not NYC.

10. Summer afternoon downpours. As long as I'm not driving, I'm fine.

a rant about being a millenial


I'm an avid NPR reader/listener, and I was excited when NPR announced that they would be doing a "special look" at millenials, the generation I fall squarely into. Article and article, NPR has decided to feature millenials who are highly educated, yet seem to be struggling with life post-college. I finally had enough on Tuesday when they posted an article about why millenials and their parents allow them to move back home. Some people have legit reasons to be back home, but others sound like every sterotype I've seen: entitled and lazy.

You guys, I was upset enough to post a comment.

I'm just over all of this "All millenials are entitled and lazy" crap. Outlets like NPR are choosing to portray this giant group through people who do not represent our lives. There will always be people who are not willing to put in the effort needed to succeed, but for each one of those there are dozens of us who do put in the effort. I want us to be recognized. Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but if the hard work and successes get recognized that little sterotype might go away.

I can't believe an NPR article got me this upset, but I had to say something. I know I'm not a minority here, and we just want the outlets to write just one article about the millenials who followed the "rules" of life and are just fine today.

book review: The Happiness of Pursuit

The happiness of pursuit

Last month I devoured Chris Guillebeau's latest book, The Happiness of Pursuit, during a homework strike one weekend. I'm always looking for my next big project, so this was the perfect read for me. It also goes well with a pumpkin spice latte.

The subtitle for this book is "Finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life," and handily sums up the purpose of the book. Through many different interviews, Guillebeau is hoping that you find something to puruse that makes you happy. The book chronicles people who have visited every country in the world, people who set off to walk across the country, and someone who lives their life like a video game. The thread that ties all of these together is that certain people are at their happiest when chasing a (sometimes crazy) goal.

Each step of the quest-defining and completing process is touched on, including what happens after you reach your big goal. The Pursuit of Happiness is incredibly inspiring, and I found myself thinking up my next big quest to keep me occupied after graduation*. However big or small, Guillebeau sets out to show everyone that they, too, can complete a quest and find happiness along the way. 

This was a quick and easy read, and a book that I highly recommend to anyone who feels stuck in their current situation. You can tackle a huge, life-changing quest or choose to do something smaller to shake up your life. Either way, The Happiness of Pursuit can give you the inspiration to start and (hopefully) complete what you set out to do.

Rating: 4/5

*I'm planning on running/walking a mile day in 2015. More to come on that in December.