Sweet Tempeh and Berry Salad

For months now a package of 3-grain tempeh has been sitting anxiously in my refrigerator. I had been saving it to make this recipe from 101 Cookbooks but I keep neglecting to purchase all of the ingredients. Luckily, today I concocted a new recipe for tempeh this afternoon that calls for less ingredients. Despite the horrible rainy and cold weather outside in Baltimore today, I put together a summer salad to lift my spirits. Last night, I made a much needed errand to the grocery store to pick up a Redbox along with ingredients for a fruit and Cool Whip pudding. My mind as been centered around warm weather, so I made an evening dessert with the strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, sugar-free vanilla pudding, light Cool Whip, and semi-sweet chocolate chips I set out for at the store. I know these fruits are not quite in season, but this girl needed some antioxidants. 🙂

Because I had these berries in the refrigerator this afternoon, I decided to marinate the tempeh with maple syrup, cinnamon, and agave nectar. I mixed the ingredients together and let the tempeh soak in the marinade while I went to the gym and got ready for classes. Before class all I had to do was cook the tempeh in the skillet, toast the walnuts and throw together the spinach, berries, and feta.

Sweet Tempeh Salad

Ingredients for Sweet Tempeh and Berry Salad

3-grain Tempeh


2 tbsp organic grade B maple syrup

2 tbsp organic blue agave nectar

¼ cup water

¼ tsp cinnamon

 Other Ingredients:

Organic Spinach



Organic blueberries

Feta Crumbles (vegetarian)

Toasted Walnuts

2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

This salad was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits and turn my thoughts to sunny weather. Although I burnt the tempeh a little on the skillet (whoops!) it tasted incredible! Even better than the soy sauce bases marinades I usually resort to. Definitely a keeper recipe, and so simple! Tonight’s dinner is looking like leftover eggplant and polenta, but the star of the evening will be this baby…

Carrot Cake!

This past Sunday, my roommate and I adventured to Georgetown Cupcakes in Bethesda and luckily I still have 2 cupcakes I froze (wishful thinking they would last in the freezer very long..). If you don’t know about DC Cupcakes on TLC, you should join in Friday night at 10 pm! These cupcakes are so cute and taste equally delicious. Last month my roomies and I made the trip to Georgetown and went to the original cupcake store. We are now HOOKED.

An hour wait for cupcakes? worth it!

Georgetown Cupcakes

Both Bethesda and Georgetown are cute towns that incorporate all of my favorite things.. shopping, eating, and cupcakes! Before the school year ends, we will be back to visit either town and score some more cupcakes before graduation!


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Birthday Dessert Table

After hibernating for the end of summer, fall, and winter.. Natural Happiness is back to bloom in the Spring! Senior year ends in less than 2 months and has been filled with new adventures. I have been exploring all that Baltimore has to offer and am happy to say I will be attending graduate school in Charm City for the next two years after graduation. 🙂 I plan to try and keep Natural Happiness updated as much as possible as I continue to finish out my senior year and move on to bigger and better things!
At the end of the summer, I decided to create a dessert table for my aunt’s surprise 50th birthday party. I spent HOURS deciding on recipes and decorating the table, but in the end it was well worth the effort and all the guests loved the tasty desserts. Each dessert was homemade (no boxes allowed!) as well as the decorations and picture streamers. My aunts favorite candies include jelly beans and Good & Plentys so each of these were included on the table. As well as the candy, desserts included:
  • Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Raspberry Buttercream
  • Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting and Coconut
  • Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Creme
  • Dark Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate Ganache
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Balls
  • Tandy Cakes
  • Chocolate Saltine Candy
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • Chocolate Chip Pillow Cookies (Brownie Center)
  • Margarita Sugar Cookies
It took me three entire days to make all the desserts, but with the help of lots of tupperwear I managed to keep everything fresh for the big day.

Dessert Table Layout

 The cupcakes were a huge hit, and everyone was surprised by the raspberry surprise filling!

Cheesecake Balls & Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (THE BEST!)

Saltine Candy and Peanutbutter Tandy Cakes


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Oh so hot hot hot

“Well the weather man says, “It’s gonna be a hot one.”
Heard it on the radio”

(Josh Turner anyone? :))

Fruit and greek yogurt parfait

 This mornings breakfast was a big bowl of fruit (watermelon, blueberries, blackberries, and banana) with Chobani yogurt, topped with bran flakes and almond butter. Perfect for a hot summer day, heat index of 108°! Sitting on the porch with my parents, it is almost too hot to have a cup of coffee! The thought of exercising outside today is out of the question, so hopefully I will muster up some energy to get my body moving in the AC at some point. Sunday laziness is currently at its fullest.

Last night, mom and I had to machete through her overgrown garden but managed to get some fresh summer veggies. It is the best feeling knowing that instead of buying tomatoes and zucchini at the supermarket, i have them FOR FREE in my backyard. Score!

Garden produce galore

With fresh zucchini, green peppers, and squash, mom and I created a dish with grilled scallops and brown rice. We used Annie Chun’s natural Pad Thai asian sauce and some cashews as well. We also picked up some alvocado and veggie suchi rolls to enjoy 🙂

Asian fusion!

Off to make a hair appointment and get my day started in this sauna weather 🙂

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Braided bread and pics galore

Finally home for the weekend and done dog sitting! This morning was a perfect Saturday to bake, and I surprised my parents with three baked goods to come home to after their week at the beach. The highlight was this baby. 

Whole Wheat Bread Braid


Filled with chocolate!


Walnuts & Chocolate Dreams


I make the dough in my mother’s bread machine before rolling it out, filling it with goodies, and popping it in the oven for 30 minutes. The recipe follows: 


  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 tbsp Promise Buttery Spread
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp organic brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast


  • Dark Chocolate Peanut butter Dreams
  • 6 Squares chopped Organic Dark Chocolate
  • The following brought to a boil and added to 1 cup toasted walnuts-
    •  -2 tbsp coconut butter
    •  -2 tbsp organic brown sugar
    •  -1 tbsp chia seeds
    •  -2 tbsp almond milk

It turned out delicious, however my blueberry banana bread…not so much. 

Too moist!


 This was a “healthy” bread and I added way to many wet ingredients. It turned out waaaaayyyy to moist, but didn’t actually taste half bad if you could get past the texture. I also made a zucchini bread that my parents loved, although it contained too much sugar and oil for my liking. 

Array of baked goods 🙂


 Anyways, this week was filled with some good eats 🙂 

Homemade whole wheat pizza!


Amy's split pea soup and sweet potato fries


Baked blueberry and banana oatmeal


Veggies and pita with hummus and homemade pesto


Late night watermelon with the best friend 🙂


Subway Veggie Sub and apples


Honest tea!


Cinnamon and raisen oats


Girls Night snacking




Off to spend some much needed family time. Man I love the summer.

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Crabs, Connecticut and Charlie

Baltimore crabs anyone? 🙂 



Although I don’t eat red meat or chicken, I do still eat crabs. Born and raised in Maryland, this girl can’t give up on these steamed critters. Sorry little guys! Topped with lots of crab seasoning and Old Bay, these babies were delicious and washed down smoothly with an ice old one. 

In a HOKIES mug of course!


Crabs and beer? Is this a health blog or what!? 😉 

I enjoyed a feast with Ry last Saturday to celebrate a new stepping stone in his life- moving to Connecticut and starting a  job in finance. I’m sad to see him leave, but after a long-distance relationship for 2 years I know we can make it work. 3 hour train ride? psshhh get at me. 

crab eating cuteness


Along with crabs, we enjoyed a pasta salad I made for the occasion. This creation included whole wheat pasta, homemade pesto, plain greek yogurt, peas, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, roasted pine nuts and seasonings. My pesto didn’t turn out as delicious as my Mom’s but hey, a girl has to start somewhere. 

Pesto Pasta


 Welp that was Saturday. Today is Tuesday? OH MAN where has the time gone. Well I’d say it all went to this big fella.. 



I have been sitting for Charlie and will be looking after him all week. He is such a good puppy and gives me no trouble (well besides eating my GRE book, 12 sugar cookies, and a tv remote!). With Ryan leaving I got into a “funk” and stopped taking pictures of my eats. In fact I lost my appetite on Sunday for the first time ever. (ME not want to eat? Miraculous!) But I think I’m over the two day hump and ready for some yum factor in my life again. I spent today with Abbie and we hit up Panera for lunch (Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad minus the chicken, plus coffee :)). Tonight she is coming over to the house to stay with me and ole Mr. Charlie. Excited for a whole night of just us. Ah thank the lord for best friends. 🙂 

Hopefully some yummy recipes soon!

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Post-dentist Shark Attack

What a gorgeous Saturday morning!  

Happy butterfly

The sun is out, along with some beautiful butterflies! Aren’t they amazing creatures? I am currently at yet another  dog-sitting job but luckily it is for Charlie, the dog of the kids I nanny. He is much less maintenance than the two Goldens I have been watching the past couple days.  

Dogs in an early morning embrace 😉

Charlie boy peeking through the screen!

Yesterday was a great Friday with the boys. My day started off with some Dunkin Donuts coffee, oatmeal and some internet browsing while the boys were still in bed. Ah relaxation.  

Friday morning chill time

The girl is in love

I woke the kids up for their dentist appointment…hehehe payback. They were not too exited. However, this was not just a regular dentist office. It was a dentist SPA. No fluoride smelling waiting room with an old love seat and 70’s music on the radio (cough my dentist). This place smelled of candles and displayed a porcelain Buddha along with water fountains. Meditation music played in the background, and the coffee table had sand and starfish in it! Man I am definitely going to the wrong dentist. 

Don't take my picture!

In a dentist's office? Really?

The boys were all cavity free which was amazing considering their daily sugar intake. Back at home it was sweltering and after a short bike ride the guys were ready to do something in the AC. They left for the beach today, so yesterday was the perfect opportunity to make these… 

Beach Cupcakes!

Just another day at the beach


Oh Jessie you really need to stop baking. Pshhh yeah right. After work I stopped at home and spent time with the family (I missed them!) before returning back to the house of the two Golden Retrievers. This lovely Saturday is not full of baking or dentist appointments but rather CRABS with Ry and his fam! 🙂 This afternoon we are having a little “going away” party at his house which is bitter-sweet. Until then it is dog-sitting for me and some GRE studying. 

Hmm decisions decisions

Too bad I have some great magazines on hand as well. 🙂 After an elliptical workout this morning and a full tummy of coffee and a big bowl of oats, chia, half-banana, strawberries, blueberries, cinnamon and almond butter I am ready to sit on my butt and soak up this sunny weather. Adios! 

Saturday started right

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At least there were Puffins

Puffins save the day! 🙂 

I love that puffin

Last night I ran to the Super Giant with mama bear to get a toothbrush for dog-sitting. How do I always forget to pack that thing? Fun Jessie Fact- I am obsessed with teeth. Some girls have a butt thing, some are attracted to big biceps. But me? TEETH. hehe. I brush my teeth at a minimum 3 times a day. In fact I go through toothbrushes like toilet paper (yes I went there). So even though it was around 10 pm I needed to make a supermarket trip. Which brings me back around to the PUFFINS. These new multi-grain puffins happened to catch my eye (as in I purposely took a slow stroll through the natural foods section) and they were a must-buy. I am a Puffins fanatic even though Ryan always jokes that they taste like a, and I quote, “dust fart”. haha I disagree and have them as snacks regularly. They are so convenient for the beach too! 🙂 I packed a bag of these multi-grain babies for our Despicable Me trip and crunched on them throughout the movie. 

Movie bag!

I thought the movie was cute but it didn’t knock my socks off! Ry fell asleep for about 10 minutes so I guess that’s saying something. The boys were disappointed in it as well but couldn’t fall asleep after the pound of sour skittles they each consumed! Overall, it wasn’t up to par with some of the other animated films I love like “Finding Nemo” and “Bolt”. Bummer. Well at least there were Puffins. The best part was Ry actually said he liked these kind! This, my friends, is a step in the right direction. Next step? Veggie burgers over Chipotle? Hm I may be pushing my luck 😉 After the movie and a quick mall stop I came back to the house and fixed up an egg creation for lunch. 

Eggs and pasta sauce

I made 2 egg whites in the skillet, and topped them with leftover asparagus, spinach and red peppers. Then instead of my go-to egg condiment (ketchup!!) I used my mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce. Side it with an apple and wa-la an easy lunch! 

Zoom it in

Tonight is Ry’s turn to come and keep me company while I dog-sit. He leaves for his new job in CT this weekend so I am trying to soak up maximum Jessie/Ryan time! Off to water the plants and crack out the two reading materials I brought until he gets here. I have to decide between reading the new Health magazine and studying for the GRE’s. Can you guess which is going to happen? Welp see you never grad school 😉 Later gators!

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