Hey Dear Readers!
Remember to update your links with my new URL: http://thechiclife.com
and update your RSS and Google Reader feeds, too! :)
Hey Dear Readers!
Remember to update your links with my new URL: http://thechiclife.com
and update your RSS and Google Reader feeds, too! :)
Photography homework continues…even at breakfast.
Most importantly in the AM – Coffee!
We had a big spread at breakfast.
Scrambled eggs, bacon…
Fresh grated cheddar to top…
Breakfast potatoes with onion, red pepper, and fresh parsley.
Per the usual, I had a wee bit of everything. OJ to drink.
I had an almond twist my sister made with the leftover puff pastry and almond paste from our Galette des Rois from yesterday. It was quite tasty and a nice use of leftovers (though we do have about a half can of the almond paste left…hmm…maybe we’ll make cookies?)
I enjoyed some of these strangy, airy brown rice chips my fam got from Costco. This stuff is addicting! I noshed on these whilst researching charities for my Online Bake Sale for Haiti (we’re still looking for bakers and the attention of some potential bidders).
After getting some good work done on the bake sale, I was called downstairs to take some photos of the prep work for our Filipino feast – food to celebrate my mom and hubby’s b-days.
My sister rolled up some lumpia (Filipino spring/egg rolls)
Then she got started on dessert – sweet rice! A family favorite. This dish is basically made with a sticky dessert rice, brown sugar, and coconut milk. Mmm…
I just had to taste test. ;)
My mom was halfway done cooking some pancit (like a Filipino rice noodle stir fry) when my camera battery died.
Luckily, I had my ninja camera on backup!
Taste test for the chef (moi! ok mostly my mom…lol)
Cover and cook through.
Sauce for the lumpia
Pan frying the lumpia
And lunch is ready! (and my camera battery was charged up with enough juice to wrap up our eats).
Our mini Filipino celebration feast. These are some dishes served at Filipino parties.
Gotta have rice.
My family is experimenting with a sticky Japanese rice. I think I like the Jasmine better. I like sticky rice, but in my sushi and sweet rice.
Delicious Pancit with a medley of meats and veggies.
Golden brown lumpia.
Hubby and Dad decided to have leftover Galette des Rois for dessert. Dad found the bean and became king for the day! First order of business – order tea!
I had sweet rice for dessert. Nom-alicious!
Blueberry tea with honey whilst hanging out with my parents, fixing jewelry, talking, digesting…
Then, I headed upstairs to work on the Online Bake Sale for Haiti. I spent a few hours compiling names, updating my Excel (which I geekily used with concatenation formulas to create HTML for my blog post), and emailing.
After staring at my computer screen for probably too long, I headed downstairs for a snack-y dinner.
My Dad made some grilled cheese sammies with harvarti and whole grain mustard. I traded in half of my whole wheat version for half of Dad’s pumpernickel. Piece of pickle on the side…gotta love that tanginess!
It’s not every day you’ve got homemade pancit laying around, so I made sure to have a small serving of it, too.
What else but sweet rice for dessert? Served with a little skim milk on the side and heated just slightly in the micro.
Ok, so it’s not the most photogenic, but I assure you, it’s delicious! It’s vegan and gluten-free, too since it’s made with coconut milk and rice!
Online Bake Sale for Haiti Update
Just a quick note to say, Wow! How amazing is this community of bloggers?! As of tonight I have 29 bakers signed up and a few others who have indicated interest. I really think that by pulling our forces together, we’re going to be able to raise some great money for Haiti (via the Red Cross)!
I’m currently looking for any companies interested in matching our final donation total, if any are interested.
And, of course, we’re still looking for bakers and looking to gain interest from potential bidders. I’m posting the list of goodies that will be available for bidding on Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010 early (as I get them) so you can go ahead and start eyeing your selection. I already have a couple picked out I’d like to bid on!
Click here to learn more about the Online Bake Sale for Haiti. You can get code at the previous link if you’d like to add the Bake Sale banner image to your side bar.
Thanks to everyone for your support and for helping spread the word!
When I did my two exchanges to France in high school, both times I went in January. In January, it’s quite common to enjoy a Galette des Rois – at least a couple…or more, if you like. At least we ate a TON with the family I stayed with (perfect for my sweet tooth)!
Though it’s a bit late in January, I knew that I wanted to celebrate a Galette des Rois whilst visiting my family and decided tonight seemed like the best night to break it out.
I found this recipe online at All Recipes (click). I’ve used a couple others, but this is one of the best and easiest I’ve seen – try it out if you’d like – it’s a good one.
The key ingredient in the galette is almond paste…be still my heart! This stuff smells and tastes amazing.
The other key ingredient is obviously the puff pastry.
Roll the puff pastry, cut to size in a circle, add filling.
Add a dried bean. The person who gets the bean is the “king”!
Top with second piece of puff pastry, press seams, brush with egg wash.
Top with confectioner’s sugar.
Bake a wee bit more till the top is golden brown.
Serve…and maybe work on some photography homework:
If you can’t tell by the numerous photos…I simply ADORE this cake! I have so many fond memories of my time spent in France with my wonderful French families. Enjoying this cake is like taking a slice out of history and reliving it for just a moment.
I had my cake with a little milk (hubby helped me finish this giant mug)
Nom nom nom
Slice #2 – enjoyed whilst getting cozy on the couch.
I could have stopped after the first slice, but it’s not every day you have a homemade Galette des Rois in the house, so I decided to just enjoy it.
Everyone in my fam loved it but no one got the bean! Guess someone noshing on one of the remaining 3 slices will be the king tomorrow!
Since we skipped right over lunch (or did we skip dinner?), I decided to have a snack later in the evening. I tried Kefir for the first time since my dad was cracking open the one they had in the fridge. I’ve always been afraid to try this stuff because I thought it may taste weird. It tastes like a drinkable yogurt. It was actually quite nice. I’d definitely buy this now that I know it’s yummy.
I also dug into leftovers from breakfast – a healthy blueberry muffin and some mini broccoli/parm frittatas.
I wanted to sleep in this AM but I am apparently not as good at sleeping in as Bailey. Lucky little guy…he sleeps ALL the time!
I woke up earlier than I’d like but with some coffee my mom made.
It wasn’t long before we were getting started on breakfast.
My mom made some Dean Ornish Healthy Blueberry Muffins. I believe this (click) is the same recipe.
While her muffins baked away, I got started prepping some of Giada’s Mini Frittas, except I subbed out the 4 ounces of meat for about 3/4 cup of chopped broccoli.
I still kept the parmesan, though I did think about using cheddar instead.
I made a full batch this time since my mom has two pans and we have more eaters than the last time I made these frittatas (New Years Day).
They puffed up quite big in the oven.
And shrank back down quite quickly once removed from the oven. Hey, it’s the taste that counts, right?
I plated the frittatas on a long rectangular plate and put them in the oven (now off but still warm) to keep them warm – they cool off rather quickly.
Brunch is served….
Fresh orange arranged by my Sis.
Mini egg, parmesan, and broccoli frittatas.
Healthy Blueberry muffins.
Round 1 - a little bit of everything, plus some OJ to drink.
Same oranges, but seconds on frittatas (2 more) plus a half muffin.
I wanted a wee bit more, but I knew we’d be eating lunch not too far off, so I held back.
The muffins were a HIT! So were the frittatas…guess we’ll be seeing more of these later in leftover form.
Our cabinets are currently being painted WHITE! Ahh…I’m so excited to see them all painted up! Hubby and I still need to buy new hardware!
What are you up to today?
Anyone feel like baking something in the next week or two? I’m getting ready to post about a baking-related fundraiser…details to come. :)
Hot black tea with cream and sugar is quickly becoming my fave drink of the day! It's so good!
With the weather being so cold lately, I feel like I'm finally starting to succumb. I don't feel sick, but I have that tired, run-down, if you don't take care of yourself you're gonna get sick kinds of feelings going on. So, I grabbed an Emergen-C in a new flavor - Acai Berry. It's berrylicious! Seriously, I think this is my new Emergen-C flavor.
I had a fabulous frozen meal for lunch. I know I said I was reserving these frozen meals for emergencies, but we don't normally get lunch meat for sandwiches till Monday at the earlier and Great Harvest doesn't open till Tuesday, so I sometimes have a hard time making sandwiches early on in the week and those are my go-to work lunch staple!
I actually wasn't really too interested in planning food for lunch today because I really wanted to dig into one of these frozen meals!
Click here to read my review of my Savory Turkey frozen meal. I really enjoyed it!
I tried eating this TJ's Greek Style yogurt, but it tasted kind of funny. If you've ever had a bad case of food poisoning (which I have), you tend to not risk it with foods that taste "off."
I left work a bit early for a dentist appointment. I have a cavity! Ugh! I have to go back for drilling (waaaa!) in a couple weeks. But, you know what that means? Ice cream! My mom always got me milkshakes and ice cream after cavity fill-ins when I was growing up. I sort of associate the two now.
Post work, I normally head to workout with my zumba friends, but since my leg was bugging me all week, I decided that though it was feeling almost back to normal today it was best to not risk it pushing myself too hard too fast too soon.
Instead, hubby and I went faucet shopping! Did I mention we've ordered our granite countertops and tile for our floors? Well, we have! We're getting a new faucet, too...once we pick out one. We found a nice high-arc faucet tonight we think we're gonna get with one water lever, a spray nozzle (on a separate attachment) and a soap dispenser. It's pretty awesome.
Though I didn't get to go to zumba class tonight, my most-awesome zumba friends still came over for dinner so I still got my QT in with them!
One of my zumba friends is pescatarian, and I've been telling my other zumba friends how much I enjoy eating tofu, so I decided to whip up one of my personal faves - 3, 2, 1 Vegetarian Noodles (click for recipe)! It's so tasty and so simple takes only about 5-6 minutes of cooking time and is packed full of great foods. It was the perfect Meatless Monday meal!
Though our house is a bit of a wreck thanks to our kitchen reno, I attempted to make the dining room semi presentable.
My friend Kat played photographer while I cooked, so many of these photos are by her! Thanks girlie!
Nice motion blur!
Cooking away....tofu and onions
Big pot of soba noodles and veggies - kale, broccoli and green beans.
Cooking in my PJ's...oh yea!
Stacy and Kat brought some whole wheat baguettes and dessert!
I sliced one baguette, drizzled it with EVOO and broiled it till just toasty in the oven.
Megan brought some Moscato for us to enjoy with dinner (and Magic Shell to go with dessert).
Aww...aren't Bailey and Megan cute?! Bailey loves his zumba friends!
The girls :)
The girls loved the tofu...thank goodness because this meal was much harder to make in a larger batch! lol.
Seconds for me.
And let's not forget dessert! Breyer's All Natural Triple Chocolate Ice Cream with Smuckers Magic Shell.
Thanks to my zumba friends, Mondays are one of my favorite days of the week! I used to somewhat dread Mondays (the start of the work week!) but now I look forward to them! Thanks girls!
Check back tomorrow for a special GUEST POST by budget expert Fabulously Broke in the City!
After my most-delicious vegan Banana Cream Pancakes breakfast, I took a moment this afternoon to relax.
I brewed some hot tea and read my books.
I started in on All New Square Foot Gardening. I want to take my time reading this book, so I only started the first chapter. I can't wait to dig into the how-to's on getting the garden set-up and actually starting to plant!
I also read a new chapter on Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. I'm still planning to read about one chapter per week. Though the chapters are short - only about a page worth of content - I'd really take the time to digest each chapter. I intend to read and possibly re-read each chapter and take my time processing what I learned over the week.
I'm currently on Chapter 2 - Make Peace with Imperfection. This chapter seems especially fitting with all the work and incompleteness of the house. From the book - "Gently remind yourself that life is okay the way it is, right now." Though it's driving me crazy to not have furniture or all our curtains up or a finished kitchen, I still feel extremely blessed to even have a house.
Yogi tea quote - "Practice kindness, mercy and forgiveness."
Lunch was pretty random. I have some fresh produce that will be going bad soon and some deli cheese that was on its last legs.
So, I made cheesy toast in the broiler, a big romaine based salad with broccoli, carrots, and sunflower seeds, and a side of vegetarian baked beans.
Lunch dessert - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookie.
More fabric fun today. Still TOP SECRET....sorry!
I spent 3 lovely hours in our guest room (currently functioning as my sewing room) singing away to Tori Amos and sewing away with pretty fabrics. It was lovely!
I had plans to go to the grocery store to stock up the pantry some more, but I got so carried away sewing, it was time for dinner by the time I was done. Hubby was kind enough to go out to get some cheese so we could make PIZZA!
Now, you guys know hubby and I are BIG pizza fans. We are definitely missing not being able to visit our fave pizza shop, but we still plan to enjoy pizza, Eat in Month or not!
Our meal was nearly a $5 meal. The pepperonis put us over. But the meal was still super affordable. We got the pizza dough from TJ's for 99 cents and hubby got the cheese buy one get one free. Score!
I spread corn meal out on my Pampered Chef pizza stone (which I love btw) to get that pizza shop texture.
I used my rolling pin to first shape the dough, then move it.
Pizza toppings - sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni
Whole wheat crust
1/2 cheese and 1/2 pepperoni with pizza seasonings - just like we like it.
Not too shabby eh?
Check out our Valentine's themed kitchen towels. It's not too early for Valentine's Day...right?
Romaine salad with organic baby carrot, sunflower seeds, and Drew's Rosemary Balsamic dressing.
I started with a slice of pepperoni and a slice of cheese.
Followed by a second slice of pepperoni.
Overall the pizza was super easy to put together and pretty darn tasty too. I wish the crust would have risen some more. It was rather dense in the middle and the crust never popped up. Buuut, on the other hand for 99 cents, it was pretty darn good. The sauce was nice and simple.
Overall, pizza win!
I re-baked a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie in the oven to make it taste oven-fresh. It was pretty good, but I think I added too much flour when I baked these up...it tastes more like a mookie (muffin + cookie) than a cookie. lol
Ahh...secret fabric project and other top secret project starting Tuesday. SOOOOOOOO much to tell you guys! Can't wait!
Anyone doing anything interesting this week?
How are my Eat in Month participants doing? Post links to your eats in the comments - I'd love to see what creative eat-in foods you're concocting!
After staying up too late last night, I woke up groggy but HUNGRY! I had no idea what to make. I was kind of feeling like making something that didn't take much effort but I also wanted to make something I normally don't have time to make during the week.
Mornings like these, I also like to make a trip to a local bagel or coffee shop for a slow-paced breakfast with a latte and some of my fave mags. But, thanks to Eat in Month, I was determined to stay in.
After remembering all the fabulous Eat Drink and Be Vegan recipes I've been wanting to try, I decided to go for the ED&BV Banana Cream Pancakes.
Thanks to my well-stocked pantry, I had all of the ingredients on hand. Even the spelt flour (which is quickly becoming my favorite flour to use - tastes like regular but so much more nutritious!). I love how light and fluffy spelt flour is.
Thanks to the hand-blender I got at Christmas, whipping this up was a snap! I sort of wanted to use my pretty new Martha Stewart stand mixer, but the immersion blender is just so much easier to clean.
Not to mention since our kitchen is a bit of a disaster, I haven't opened my new small appliances since there's not really anywhere to put them yet!
We still don't have a griddle so it took awhile to cook all the pancakes in my tiny non-stick skillet. I kept them warm in the oven on 200 degrees F while I worked through the batter.
Real maple syrup on top.
Breakfast is served!
A sprinkling of organic unsweetened coconut on top staying in line with the tropical pancake theme.
My banana cream pancakes ended up a little on the thin side, but the flavor was great! Hubby said they tasted like gourmet pancakes.
The pancakes were nice and tender and I loved the subtle tropical tastes. And these were made with SPELT! Such a great flour! If you haven't tried it yet, you should!
Want a bite?
Coffee on the side - 1/2 Christmas Blend + 1/2 Peppermint Creme (Fresh Market).
Bailey sleeping on the chaise.
Sunlight streaming into my sunroom. Food TV on in the background. Perfect Sunday afternoon.
Me thinks I may brew up some hot tea to sip on whilst reading a new chapter of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and Square Foot Gardening.
How's your Sunday?
I took my first photo with my new camera last night. I couldn't think of anything better than my dear doggie Bailey.
I love my point and shoot, but it's so good to have my DSLR back!
It was supposed to snow today, but when I woke up...NO SNOW! For my winter weather-land friends, you're probably wondering why anyone would be excited about snow, right? I live in the South! We rarely get snow, so we get pretty excited about it! :)
I was determined to see flurries, so I made them appear in my breakfast in the form of organic unsweetened coconut flakes.
Today's secret ingredient - molasses! To give my oats a depth of flavor.
Cook stovetop about 5 minutes.
I worked from home today, which was nice. I had plenty of OT this week and got started early enough to take a couple breaks to photograph some work our contractor and team was doing on our kitchen today.
They started to rip up the floor that was under our old linoleum.
There was another layer!
They covered up our old kitchen cabinets with plastic wrap. They also covered the fridge and microwave and moved the stove out of the room.
As a result, I couldn't get to my FOOD!
(Oh and other frustration - one of our cabinets arrived but was BROKEN! Grr....we had to return it and I can only hope it doesn't take another 5 weeks for the replacement cabinet to get here.)
I would have just gotten a sandwich or something from a local deli, but not THIS month. Not while I'm doing the Eat in Month challenge!
Be forewarned...I do not recommend the following for lunch...I just couldn't get to anything else!
I had two slices of Great Harvest honey whole wheat bread. Plain. Straight outta the bag. Yup. I did. I love bread. I mean I LOVE bread! I like it any way I can get it...even just plain when it's fresh and tender. mmmm This bread is pretty nutritious, too!
I also had a Larabar in Peanut Butter Cookie to get some protein to go along with those carbs.
By the end of the day, we had a lovely new sub-floor. Our tiles will be going on top of this.
I had actually really been looking forward to leftover mac and cheese for lunch but moved those plans to dinner instead.
We had our veggies raw - salad form: organic romaine, broccoli, cauliflower, organic baby carrot, orange pepper, sunflower seeds, HEMP SEEDS, and balsamic dressing.
I wish I had some leftover bean salad to put on this!
Fo the rest of dinner, we just cooked up a frozen TJ's meatless corn dog and re-heated some mac and cheese in the oven.
Did I mention we had mac and cheese? Mmm...so good!
After dinner, I had a hankering for something sweet.
I did a play on Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip cookies, since I liked the recipe from earlier this week so much.
I decided to make my cookies with some of that organic canned pumpkin to make Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I also had to sub brown rice syrup for the maple syrup. This made the batter super sticky and a bit harder to work with, but the end result was still nice. Not quite as sweet...just as delicious.
I did two batches (well, I dropped 1/2 the cookies and then adjusted the remaining) - one with slightly more flour (because the batter wasn't as thick as when I made it the other day).
I tried one of each batch, mais oui. They actually tasted the same and had nearly the same texture. I think the batch with less flour just didn't poof up as much.
They were both delicious! I wish I woulda put more pumpkin in, though! Ahh...I know for next time.
I think I need to tweak the adapted recipe before I post it.
Man, I am quite the Cookie Monster lately, no?!
I enjoyed my cookies with wine...and hubby and I watched The Ugly Truth. I thought it was a tad vulgar but pretty funny overall.
I signed up for something super awesome starting up next week. So excited! Details next Tuesday! :)
What's your favorite comedy from 2009?
Eat in Month - Day #6
Slept in today...doh!
I talked hubby into eating some stove top oats with me this AM.
In my bowl: oats, skim milk, canned organic pumpkin, flaxseeds, pecans, HEMP SEEDS, unsweetened organic coconut, and I tossed in some ricotta leftover from our lasagna earlier this week (gotta get rid of it somehow!)
I stirred my bowl together to distribute the ricotta and make the oatmeal creamy, like how you can make a tomato sauce creamy with ricotta stirred in.
Eating in was pretty easy today thanks to early prep work with my salad last night and leftover lasagna.
Leftover veggie lasagna, toast, salad with organic romaine, broccoli, orange bell pepper, organic carrot and hemp seeds.
Afternoon snack: black tea with cream and sugar and Moravian cookies!
After work, hubby and I headed out to look at granite and tile (yes, again!). The meeting was much more productive than I thought it would be and we got some good quotes. I hope we can make some decision soon because I'm ready for this kitchen to be DONE!
I've spent quite a bit of money amping up our pantry, so hubby suggested we eat from our pantry/freezer for dinner. I kind of wanted to find a use for that leftover ricotta and parmesan before it goes bad, but I wasn't really in the mood for Italian (can you blame me after 4 back to back meals of lasagna! lol)
After a long day of work and then spending a couple hours with the granite/tile people, I really wasn't feeling much like cooking. In fact, all I could think about was pizza...pizza...pizza....let's go pick up pizza. lol
Buuut, knowing I had some food I could cook with little effort and wanting to stick to my Eat in Month Challenge kept me thinking about the yummy food I had at home.
We broke out our unopened tartar sauce to eat with...
TJ's Battered Cod...and TJ's sweet potato fries, steamed veggie medley and some syrah.
After dinner, I had a hankering for something SWEET! I decided to check out Dreena's Eat Drink and Be Vegan Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies (click for recipe). I used 1/2 TJ's white-wheat flour and 1/2 spelt flour with a bit extra spelt flour (around 1 tbsp). I also didn't quite have 1/3 cup of non-dairy chocolate chips, so I added some carob chips to make up the difference.
They came together SO easily and were done SO quickly! While my cookies baked, I cleaned up a bit in the ktichen...next thing I know, BING, they were ready!
My cookies went perfectly with my vino.
Holy wow, were these GOOD! Even hubby liked them! We both enjoyed them like they were regular chocolate chip cookies, but they were VEGAN!
I can't wait to try more of Dreena's vegan recipes!
Aaaaand, I may or may not have eaten a second cookie. Nom nom nom!
Remember this room? Here's what it looked like when we bought our house. Oh the wood paneling!
It went to this...missing walls, no wood paneling....no drywall.
It looked like this for a long time - drywall, kneewall, unpainted. Unfinished.
Well, after waiting several weeks on our new cabinets (ones we're adding, not replacing), we're finally ready to continue!
Today, our contractor stopped by while I was at work and removed the knee wall (turns out we don't need it), patched thew wall, and took out the icky linoleum.
Yup, no linoleum. I like linoleum...just not that one. It was a bit too busy for my style.
Now, in the kitchen, we just need to:
Not sure when any of this will be completed, but I'm really looking forward to getting some more cabinet space! I can't wait to get things organized!
Oh, still collecting ways to squash the "I'm too tired to work out" excuse to help motivate others to keep their resolutions and get to the gym. Click here to help out.
Sleepy time!Which do you like better on your kitchen floor - tile or linoleum/vinyl?
Sorry for not posting last night but I was entertaining having a blast till MIDNIGHT!
Monday morning I made a quick 3 bean salad using this recipe I found on Simply Recipes. I intended to make it Sunday but...well, I didn't. So Monday AM it was! No cooking required, so it was quite quick.
I've been enjoying my CinnaChip breakfast casserole but thought the last couple times it was just a tad too sweet. I love my sweets and all, but I don't like when my sweets are too sweet. So, I thought I'd try something new. Something like the Celestial Sauce from Eat Drink and Be Vegan!
It was PERFECT! Even hubby liked it! The sauce reminded me a lot of the sauce I enjoyed on Bread Pudding at Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.
I topped my bread pudding with sliced almonds for a little crunch.
I'm DEFINITELY making this again!
Then, it was back to work after my stay-cation. I was actually feeling really ready to be back.
I had lots of goodies to take to work: my frozen emergency lunch meals, emergency canned soup, meal bars, a bowl (for the canned soup), and lunch for Eat in Month.
I brought my new BPA-free Green Bottle to work too. Isn't it beautiful?! I LOVE it!
I also brought a Dilbert calendar - got this half off at Barnes & Nobles.
Lunch was really great: a toasted chicken sammie (Earthfare oven roasted chicken, Earthfare havarti cheese on Great Harvest Flax Oat Bran), my 3 bean salad, and some apples (leftover from the apple topping on that casserole).
For an afternoon pick-me-up, I made some Pomengranate White Tea with sugar (need to get some honey to keep at my desk at work!)
Let me take this moment to say that my zumba friends are the BEST! When I told them about the Eat in Month Challenge, I was worried we'd have to give up our Monday get togethers or that they'd have to go without (since I couldn't eat at restaurants). Buuuut, you know what? They joined in on the challenge! Oh yes, they ROCK! Thanks ladies! :)
Soo...what's a girl to do when you and your friends can't eat out together? Have them over for dinner!
Our house is a total wreck and I was terribly embarrassed that they had to see it in the state it was in, but our Mondays are too fun to give up because of a not-set-up house.
I decided to make lasagna! Here's a recipe you can use to re-create this beef and spinach lasagna.
Hubby helped me out by making some meat sauce while we were busy wrapping up zumba class so I'd just have to assemble the lasagna when I got home. Thanks babe!
I snuck some frozen spinach in the mix so we'd get some extra veggie serving.
We used our dining room for the FIRST time for our zumba dinner. What a great way to kick things off in there!
My friends brought yummy eats with them, including salad, which we topped with some of that 3-bean salad. It was a nice combo.
I lucked out while I was making our beef & spinach when I had a total "doh!" moment when I realized that one of my zumba friends was pescatarian!
The lucky part was that thanks to my well-stocked pantry, I was able to put together a last minute mini-veggie lasagna...yay!
Dinner is served!
Stacy + Kat!
Stacy + Kat also brought some yummy rosemary olive oil bread, which I toasted under the broiler and brushed with a garlic-y butter-y topping.
They even brought over a yummy dessert - tiramisu! (to stay in the Italian theme) It was the perfect ending to our Monday dinner together.
Thanks Stacy + Kat for coming over and bringing over some tasty eats!
Now...what to make next week???
But I knew it would be even better as FRENCH TOAST!
With nearly half a loaf left today, I decided to make french toast with a twist - French Toast casserole! I based my recipe on this one found on allrecipes.com (click) except I used agave for the custard and organic cane sugar for the topping (which I used only 1/2 of on my version).
I also made sure to press the bread into the custard.
I also used earth balance for the margarine.
While my casserole baked, I made an apple syrup topping. I thought about putting apple INTO my casserole but decided it would be better as a topping.
Apple Topping directions: chop half an apple. Pre-heat a small pan over medium heat. Add apple and 1/2-3/4 cup maple syrup. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Use as topping for french toast casserole, french toast, or pancakes.
The casserole made my house smell so amazing while it was baking! Ooh, that cinnamon! It looked perfectly puffed up after 45 minutes.
Breakfast is served.
I also added some sliced almonds on top for some crunch.
So so good! Quite sweet, though! I wish I would have made some bacon or soysage to cut the sweetness, but at least I got some good protein with the eggs!
Up next, grocery shopping for my Eat in Month pantry - First Swing!
Oh, and we got 4 more participants overnight! I need to go add them to the list now. It's not too late to join if you want to get in on the FUN!
A couple of days ago, one of my all-time favorite Everyday Italian shows came on - Breakfast. The one where she makes the Hazelnut Cinnamon Rolls, Mini Egg Frittatas, and Spiked Coffee drinks. I knew immediately that I wanted to make that meal on my vacay. I love from-scratch baked goods but don't typically allow myself the time to make such treats decided, but what better way to kick off 2010 than with a delicious brunch!
Hubby and I searched TWO grocery stores for frozen white bread dough, but found none. I figured any white-bread style dough would do, so we picked up a box of Pillsbury Hot Roll mix.
First thing this morning, I got started on brunch. I knew it would take awhile to make what with the "let the bread rise" steps, so there wasn't time to lounge around.
I used a combination of the box recipe and Giada's Hazelnut Cinnamon Rolls recipe.
For the Cinnamon Rolls: Follow box directions for cinnamon rolls. To sugar mixture, add toasted, chopped hazelnuts (about 1/3 cup - 2/3 cup) and 1/4 tsp cloves. Instead of using warm margarine, I used melted Earth Balance, which I brushed over the dough before sprinkling the sugar mixture down. I also made a double-batch of Giada's icing instead of the one on the box.
I wanted to have one cup of coffee and wanted that cup to be enjoyed with breakfast, so I sipped on organic yerba mate tea whilst working on the cinnamon rolls.
Hazelnuts! I had these stowed away in the freezer.
I cut the dough and placed the rolls in the baking dish. They rose for 30 minutes while I watched a DVRed Everyday Italian for more Eat in Month inspiration.
Soon enough, they were ready to be baked!
For the Mini Frittatas: While the cinnamon rolls baked, I got the mini egg frittatas ready. I used Giada's Mini Frittatas recipe except I cut the recipe in half and used turkey instead of ham.
parsley from my potted plant.
The eggs were a cinch - especially compared to those cinnamon rolls. I used turkey since we had it in the fridge.
While my frittatas cooked, I worked on the icing for the cinnamon rolls. I used Giada's recipe but doubled the batch of icing since the rolls made twice as many as Giada's version.
Before I knew it, the frittatas were done!
I drizzled the rolls with the icing and put the rolls in the off, but still warm oven to help the icing get nice and gooey.
And then, everything was ready!
Hubby and I were so excited to EAT!
Round #1 - I had 3 mini frittatas and a cinnamon roll with my coffee. As a side bonus, I read somewhere that some cultures consider it good luck to eat "round things" on New Year's day...not sure if the cinnamon rolls count, but those frittatas DEFINITELY do! Here's to good luck!
Yowsa - they were delish! What a great way to start the year - with delicious eats! I was in heaven!
All the work in the kitchen this morning must have made me ravenous because I went for a repeat of Round #1 with Round #2.
The roll was tender and the icing was nice and sweet. I'm glad we spent the extra money for the mascarpone - it was a wonderful treat! And the frittatas were pretty awesome. I'm definitely making those again. The fresh parsley really gave the eggs a nice pop of flavor.
I enjoyed my cinnamon rolls in true Diana-style. I like to my cinnamon rolls by peeling the ring apart and working my way to the middle.
Round and round we go!
This middle part is IMO the BEST part! The most tender and sugary and most icing-covered. Mmmmmmmmm
We let Bailey get in on the brunch celebration with a mini frittata.
I made him do some tricks before I gave him his New Year's treat and BOY did he LOVE it! He was all giddy after eating it.
We have special plans for New Year's Dinner, but more on that to come.
Are you eating anything special for New Year's?
Dad has really had to watch his health lately. He’s always been a healthy eater, but lately, he’s had to be extra careful. Just like Thanksgiving, we gave our Christmas dinner a healthy makeover.
Dad did a take on an Emeril recipe to healthify our turkey. He’s asleep so I can’t ask him exactly which one, but I bet he based it off this one, except with his homemade stuffing + cranberries in the filling.
The steamed potatoes are served on the main platter next to the turkey.
Healthified: no gravy, no skin, less fat (we used a boneless, skinless turkey breast) and steamed potatoes (no butter, no oil, just potato)
We also enjoyed a nice side of sauteed kale. Though I made the kale at Thanksgiving using my own recipe, Dad opted to use one out of Bon Appetit. He said it was basically the same as mine sans chicken broth.
Healthified: A superfood veggie side, light on oil and butter
Dad made another veggie medley side dish: squash, red onion, tomato, herbs
Healthified: An extra side of veggies with a nice mixture, light oil/butter
Canned cranberry sauce.
Healthified?: Probably not so much. One day we’ll make our own cranberry sauce, but the turkey was a big enough adventure for one day IMO.
Great Harvest Dakota toast – 2/3 with a light dappling of real butter 1/3 sans butter.
Healthified: a vast improvement over the standard white dinner roll. This bread features fresh-ground wheat, nuts, and seeds.
All together now.
My plate – a little bit of everything
Note my nearly full plate and hubby’s empty plate…lol. He’s such a fast eater. I like to think my slow eating helps me gauge my fullness nicely.
Christmas decor on the buffet.
I prepped up a healthy berry crisp for dessert, though I did add some butter to the top to help it brown.
Healtified: used whole wheat pastry flour, light on sweetener, subbed some sugar with honey, fruit serving, topped with sliced almonds.
Too good to not have seconds!
Anyone else having more than one Christmas dinner?
Hey friends, totally meant to blog last night, but I was zonked! I think I wear myself out every week and try to do all my catching up on the weekends. Not the right thing to do, but it happens.
Anywho, Dad had dinner under control last night. When I went downstairs, he had 4 burners going and the whole meal planned out.
We used some spinach penne I picked out earlier from our grocery shopping at Whole Foods. We almost got fresh spinach fettuccine but upon checking the ingredient lists, Dad said the dry was better because the fresh used egg yolks (which he’s trying to avoid for his health).
Bailey wanted to stay in the action in the kitchen while we cooked and prepped dinner.
Pasta and fire roasted tomato sauce
Roasted chicken tenders
Cooked pasta – isn’t it pretty? I love the green color! Fear not non-veggie eaters, this stuff tastes just like regular pasta.
I got ready to layer my dinner with all the various flavors:
Start with spinach penne pasta
Add mushrooms (yes, mushrooms! can you believe I willingly put those on my plate?)
Top with fresh-grated cheese…
Voila! Dinner is served!
Sis came home from dance classes with hot Krispy Kreme donuts.
I know these things are terrible for you, but I couldn’t resist having a couple.
A hot, fresh glazed donut and an Oatmeal Butterscotch cookie (brought some of these with us for the trip to share)
My sister was a scrapbooking machine all night.
I inevitably was sucked into helping her, but it was for a good cause and she needed to finish it Friday night in time to drop the scrapbook off Saturday. I only had to cut a few photo borders…no biggee.
I snipped photo borders and enjoyed a second donut whilst watching Enchanted. How cute was that movie? Guess I’m just a fan of all things Disney being a theme-park-baby and all.
The first half of the day was about as busy as normal, but we had so much to do after work.
I had plans to make an important trip just after work to visit an office that closed at 5:30pm. Of course, the meeting that was supposed to end at 5pm ended late, so I totally missed my visit! Grr…wouldn’t have been so upset if I hadn’t been putting the trip off all week because I couldn’t fit it into my work schedule.
I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up stuff for dinner. You should have seen my basket…I swear, if it weren’t for the sour cream I bought, you-da thought I was vegan (or at least vegetarian) ! lol I had soy creamer, veggie masala burgers, and other good stuff in my basket.
I was starving by the time I got home and started on dinner immediately – Beef Strogonaff! For the first time, instead of mincing my mushrooms, I sliced them up and even added more than usual. Perhaps I am starting to like them after all these years? ;)
I love how easy beef strongonaff is. I wish it cooked up faster, but at least the easy part is a score.
I normally serve my beef strogonaff over egg noodles, but we were out! Who knew?
I decided bowties were the next closest thing around. Paprika and parsley are the perfect garnish.
Round 2 – not as pretty, just as tasty
Bailey was sleepy all night…must be the weather
While I worked on a jewelry order post-dinner….
I snacked on some of our treats – an Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie…
…a piece of Cookies and Cream bark…
…and a handmade caramel.
Hubby and I are thinking of making chocolates for Christmas next year. I think that’s pretty awesome!
As if we hadn’t done enough in the day, we had plans to visit my fam this weekend. With reports that icy/snowy weather would hit town in the morning, we decided to take a late trip out of town.
After leaving work (later than expected), grocery shopping, cooking dinner, delivering gifts, and making a jewelry order, we still had to pack and hit the road.
It was 11pm by the time we got in the car, but we were worried about not being able to go at all if we didn’t leave when we did. We made it to my parent’s house safe and sound, though quite tired.
How many trips will you be making to visit friends and family for the holidays?
Change of Plans
Hubby got all dressed up in a suit for our celebratory dinner tonight, but we ended up deciding last minute to save our celebratory dinner for another night. We weren't feeling it and I really think if you're going to spend your precious time and money on a dinner, you should be ready to fully enjoy, savor, and appreciate it.
Instead, we ended up waiting 40 minutes for a table at PF Changs. I think we caught the end of the rush, because I swear we were the last people on the wait list the whole 40 minutes we were waiting. The room cleared out and we were still sitting there!
I left my point and shoot camera at home (my DSLR is still off being fixed) so I used my iPhone to take some blurry and dark photos.
The weather outside was absolutely frigid, so a BIG bowl of wonton soup was the perfect starter for hubby and I to share. I love how they add spinach and (dare I say it) mushrooms in their version.
I had two bowls of mostly broth and water chestnuts (hubby hates them and I love them) and one wonton.
For dinner we got the Mongolion beef with some chicken added. I love the sweet sauce on this dish - it reminds me a lot of teriyaki in style. We split this with brown rice and...
...a small side of spicy green beans (wow these beans are gooood!)
Great fortune tonight: "It is sometimes better to travel hopefully than to arrive." This fortune immediately reminded me of the quote, "Life's a journey, not a destination." So true! Sometimes I rush around so much trying to achieve a goal, I forget to enjoy the ride.
We have a pot luck in the office tomorrow, so I signed up for...you guessed it...COOKIES!
Remembering how easy they were the first time, I decided to make the Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies I made recently again. I know I'm supposed to be trying new recipes, but I really needed something easy considering we weren't even getting started baking until almost 10pm.
I made some changes to the recipe to help health-ify it: I used white wheat flour, 1/3 less butter, almost half the sugar, and added some vanilla soymilk.
While my first batch of cookies baked away, I cleaned off the counters and set up my coffee pot for tomorrow. I know I should do this more often, but I usually just forget. It truly is so nice to have hot coffee waiting for you when you stumble groggily out of bed, though, no?
Two batches of cookies later and our kitchen was overflowing with hot butterscotch goodness, making our entire house smell divine!
Nothing like the smell of fresh-baked cookies!
I wish you could smell these cookies...yum!
I of course had to taste test one...
...maaaaybe two cookies.
So glad I removed all that extra sugar! The cookies were perfectly fine the first time, don't get me wrong. But, I'm finding that with time, I prefer things less and less sweet. I still have the biggest sweet tooth of most people I know, but I don't think things have to be super-sweet to be delicious.
Just have to pack these babies up for the potluck tomorrow (and possibly some to give to friends/neighbors) and then I'm off to bed! So glad my coffee will be waiting in the AM!
It's turning into holiday crunch time. Before we know it, Christmas will be here...ready or not! I feel like I have a million things to do - making presents, buying presents, wrapping presents, plus a ton of holiday traveling, cooking, baking, eating and all that jazz.
Woke up later than I expected and rushed around getting to work.
I had an 8:30am meeting I couldn't be late for, so I grabbed Starbucks instead of making something at home. Starbucks two days in a row! Oh well, it's the holidays.
A lady at work made homemade chocolates. They looked so professional! I grabbed a couple to take home to enjoy later and share with hubby. Note to self: take chocolate lessons from co-worker...yum!
I got a spinach feta wrap and tall gingerbread latte.
I grabbed lunch with a co-worker at a new healthy spot near our office. I got a small vegan 3-bean chili soup and one of these homemade granola bars, in blueberry almond, the restaurant makes that I've been dying to try since reading about it on the menu.
Guess the meal, though on the light side, was more filling than I thought because I ended up not needing any more snacks, not even some pre-zumba fuel!
Worked the second half of the day from home and enjoyed a yerba mate tea.
I'll have to work some OT tomorrow because I took a break from work to bake some Vegan Chocolate Chip Blondies for Healthy Ashley's bake sale. I waited awhile to make them so I could send them early in the week (so they don't sit in a factory/warehouse somewhere going stale).
I've been holding off on going to zumba classes two days in a row thanks to my stupid injury, but decided tonight to go ahead and try it out. So far, so good...I'm glad I went. I felt pretty strong in class and even got in the front to help instructor Stacy lead some songs.
I'd really like to join a gym or possibly get a job teaching zumba at a gym so I can get a "free" membership. I'd like to do some cross training. Plus, it would be fun to put all my training to work.
I picked up these brussels sprouts yesterday from Trader Joe's. I've been craving brussels sprouts recently (I know that must sound weird), so I finally picked some up. They seemed to always be out at TJ's when I was looking for them.
Brussels Sprouts Directions: Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut rough end of sprouts and remove outer leaves then cut in half. Toss in drizzle of EVOO, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 15-20 minutes.
I used leftover tomato juice, an onion, and a garlic clove to turn leftover brown rice into a tomato-y rice pilaf.
Rice Directions: I sauteed onions in EVOO over medium heat till translucent. I added the garlic and cooked for 60 seconds. I added about 1 cup tomato juice and simmered for about 5-7 minutes till reduced by about 1/3. Just before serving, I added my leftover rice and cooked to warm through.
Shrimp Directions: I sauteed the shrimp in EVOO, seasoned with salt, pepper, and turmeric over medium for about 5 minutes, till shrimp were opaque and cooked through.
Dinner is served!
Simple and tasty. I have to have easy meals like this after long days like today and late nights out dancing my arse off in class.
I sampled one of my blondies for dessert. What? I HAD to make sure they were OK before shipping them off. What if I had accidentally used salt instead of sugar!? That would have been tragic.
Luckily the vegan chocolate chip blondie was reaaally good. Even hubby liked them! I didn't tell him they were vegan till after he said he liked them. ;)
The dark chocolate-caramel candy was really fab, too!
Two more days left in my work week and then I have more Christmas planning/shopping/creating to do. I can't wait! I'm hoping to plan out my vacay so I use it as efficiently as possibly. I'd like to balance some Christmas celebrating with some house-getting-ready-ing and some me-time!
Do you have all your holiday shopping done or do you have more to do?
Since I slept in so late, I decided to try to make today as efficient as possible.
I pressed tofu while I blogged away earlier.
I marinated my tofu while I went grocery shopping.
Marinade (a la Ellie Kreiger): 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp canola oil, 1 tbsp orange juice, sprinkle pepper
The dude at Earthfare managed to fit all my groceries in the reusable tote Stonyfield sent me (for free) awhile back.
Great fresh groceries: organic yellow onions, organic sweet potato, organic celery, organic garlic, organic bananas, red potatoes, organic baby carrots, organic tomato juice, grass fed eye of round (beef), organic lemongrass ginger tea, organic yerba mate tea
Before putting up my groceries, I wanted to get lunch cooking. I peeled a sweet potato, but I put the peelings into a pan in the sink so as to avoid another clog (don't think hubby would have been happy with me if I put the peels down the sink and he had to go rummaging in the pipes again).
Directions: I chopped the sweet potato pretty small so it would cook faster - about 1/2" cubes. I tossed them in a drizzle of olive oil and lightly sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. I baked them at 400 for about 25-30 minutes, till just browning lightly. Once removed from oven, drizzle a wee bit of maple syrup and toss to coat.
I put up the groceries and took the dog out before adding the tofu to the oven. I baked the tofu at the same temp for about 15-20 minutes.
While lunch cooked, I prepped dinner: slow cooker grass-fed beef pot roast.
I also cooked a side veggie: sauteed swiss chard.
Directions: I sliced the leaves lengthwise, and then into 1/2"-1" slices. I triple washed the leaves, then sauteed them in extra virgin olive oil for about 7-8 minutes. I added 1/4 cup chicken broth for the last minute, then a tiny dab of butter for flavor.
OH NO!! I noticed something was terribly wrong with my camera as I shot my afternoon photos. I kept getting an error message and had to pop my battery out and back in to get it to work! I decided to keep trucking along, popping my battery out and in while I wrapped up lunch.
I researched the error message while I ate lunch. The outlook was not good. I found some sites saying I could do some things to fix the camera and some sites saying to send the camera in immediately. Luckily hubby got me a Black Tie protection plan with the Best Buy Geek Squad, so I had a choice. I found our info from a box and thought about whether I should try to fix the problem myself or take it to the Geek Squad.
Yerba Mate with local honey to go with lunch.
I tried my camera with two different lens and got the same error message.
I knew things weren't good.
Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and take the camera to Best Buy. They said they couldn't fix the camera there and would have to send it off. The estimated repair time...2-4 weeks!
I wanted to CRY!
Basically, I am not going to have my DSLR for the next few weeks of every day photos, but worst of all...I won't have my Camera for Christmas or New Years! Waaaaaaaaaa!
Please hurry back camera...I miss you already!
Hubby and Bailey let me sleep in pretty late today.
I woke up pretty hungry and ready to do something with the ingredients I had leftover from the White Chocolate Chunkies cookies I made yesterday: candied cherries, white chocolate chips, macadamia nuts.
I chopped all the ingredients up to ensure I'd get a taste of each in every bite.
White Chocolate Cherry Macadamia Oats
(an informal recipe)
Hubby was itching to be productive and suggested we bake cookies for our new neighbors and friends. I had been planning to do this Sunday, but he wanted to get it done Saturday. Eventually, I caved and baking ensued. No time like the present to bake something up for the Holiday Cookie Challenge
We decided to make Paula Deen's White Chocolate Cherry Chunkies (click for recipe)
I heathified our cookies with Baker Josef's White Whole Wheat Flour. I really don't notice a difference between this flour and all purpose, so why not? :)
White chocolate chips and candied cherries. The recipe requested white chocolate "chunks" but it was either chips or a bar at the store and I figured using the chips would save me chopping time. Now the recipe didn't say anything about chopping the cherries, but they were pretty big and I like a bit of each flavor in every bite, so I chopped mine to more evenly distribute them.
Hubby had to help me stir the chips, nuts, and cherries into the batter, which was extra-stiff. I think the mix was 50% batter and 50% chips/nuts/cherries.
I used an ice cream scoop to distribute the batter, which helped make sure they were all equally sized.
With about 2 minutes left on the timer for the first batch, I smelled something burning. What the...
I checked the cookies and they were totally browned on top. Not burnt but way further cooked than I like my cookies.
For the second batch, I lowered the temp to 350 degrees F (it was 375) and figured that would do the trick, but I guess I really should have checked the cookies early because I left them in for 1 minute under the recommended cooking time and they were STILL BROWN! Grr...
If you try these cookies, I suggest lowering the temp to 325 and checking them 2-4 minutes early. I'm just sayin...
Hubby and I did taste-test one cookie each and we still liked the flavor, but I think they really would have been better if they were slightly chewy. I love chewy cookies.
Anywho, since they still tasted good, we packaged some up to share:
Breakfast in Bed
Boy am I a lucky duck or what?!
Hubby woke me up with another breakfast in bed. Isn't breakfast in bed the best?!
Gingerbread coffee with whipped cream.
Sampler plate: Morningstar "sausage", organic strawberries, apple, and donuts holes (from our fave local baker, of course).
Plus a whole donut. Ahh...fresh-baked goodness!
Bailey did a nice job begging to get up on the bed, but I resisted. Isn't he a good little beggar?
Hubby and I spent the morning being productive in the house.
I unpacked several boxes from the upstairs and basement area. I spotted a spider in the basement though, which really grossed me out. I did some research online and learned that spiders love cardboard. This is great since most of our unpacked stuff is currently stored in the basement in cardboard boxes. Ugh! I decided to continue my unpacking - with rubber gloves on. No spider bites for me, please!
Hubby was productive, too, and fixed our sink which has been clogged with butternut squash peel since a couple days ago. He thought he fixed it the first time, but didn't quite get everything out. Today he was successful, though! Go hubby!
Butternut Squash Soup
Speaking of butternut squash...
...I decided to turn my leftover organic roasted butternut squash into soup for lunch!
Rather than a formal recipe, I think it's easier to explain how I cooked this soup with photos. Here's what I did to make my soup:
Place leftover roasted butternut squash in a food processor.
Add a bit of chicken broth (I used Earthfare organic broth) and pulse.
Repeat until mixture reaches consistency you'd like for your soup. Remember to add a little at a time - you can always add more, but you can't take it back out.
Once mixture reaches consistency you want, add to a pot over medium/medium-low and cook until warmed through. Add about 1/4 cup milk to soup and stir in. Heat till warmed through.
Ta-dah! Butternut squash soup! So simple and easy but so good.
Serve with good hearty bread. I used Great Harvest Oat Bran oven-broiled with real organic butter.
What a great use for that leftover roasted butternut squash!
Hubby wants to take care of some Christmas-y things today:
I'm wrapping up watching Nutcracker on Ice, which I randomly found on TV. Then it's time for Christmas activities and then getting ready for a holiday party with friends!
With a late phone conference today, I decided to spend the last part of my work day working from home.
I rarely work from home or have the chance to run errands during the day, so I almost always take the opportunity to hit up a local bakery on my way home from work. I picked up a pretzel twist for hubby and a mini "texas donut" for moi. With decaf...mmm...nice and warm!
Hubby decided to not partake in dinner when he found out I was cooking (an organic) butternut squash. :(
That was too bad too because the squash was a PAIN to prep! Mostly it was difficult because of my measley peeler. I think I need one of those that is shaped more like a razor with the blade at the top instead of a long knife-like one like I had. I barely could get through the skin with mine! I finally figured out if I rubbed it back and forth quickly it came off easier, but I was TERRIFIED I'd end up cutting myself accidentally and proceeded as carefully as possible.
Since I was having dinner solo, I decided to go ahead and dig into some Trader Joe's Organic Firm tofu I had in the fridge.
I actually prepped my tofu before getting started on the squash since it needed to marinate.
Check out the heart in my tofu marinade! I'm seeing hearts everywhere lately!
Roasted butternut squash (with canola oil and maple syrup)
Peas. I used to hate peas, but now I LOVE them!
Yum! So fresh and so clean-clean...clean eats that is!
Two tiny Trader Joe's truffles with skim milk for dessert. Two desserts in ONE day...I know. I shouldn't have. But...I DID! ;)
The polyurethane smell in the house is driving me crazy! I found these Bath & Body works wallflowers replacement bottles in a box, but not the attachments. Not until tonight at least. I decided to figure out where the heck they were so I could get them plugged up.
I placed a "Fresh Linen" in the living room and a "Sea Island Cotton" in our bedroom.
I used to be completely obsessed with these wallflowers when I was in college. Cotton Blossom (the original, not the Sea Island) was my signature scent. I loved how fresh and clean it smelled...like a warm, sunny day. I didn't use them much in the apartment, but I see them becoming popular on the house-front once again.
I wish I had some more fall-like scents, though. Hmm...shopping to Bath & Body anyone?
More signs of Christmas in the house. (and yes, that's the Real Housewives of OC in the background)
I think I need some mini ornaments for my silver Christmas tree. This little reindeer needs no extra decoration - he's so cute!
Pumpkin Butterscotch Coconut Oats for breakfast:
I made time for stovetop oats this morning. I didn't time myself today, but I did manage to pick out an outfit for the day while my milk came to a boil. Stovetop oats may be slow, but at least you can kind of multi-task while you make them.
My bowl contained organic pumpkin and organic coconut. I basically made my oats like in this recipe but added coconut whilst cooking and as a topping.
A little protein to keep me fuller longer - Morningstar organic soysage.
I was supposed to be in AZ this week for work, but the meetings ended up being more for my core team than me. This meant a lighter day of conference calls for me! Hooray! I needed a light day (light on phone conferences, that is).
Post work, I had lots of mini errands to do:
I sauted some all natural chicken I got from Earthfare with some of this Richard's Delicious Seasoning in olive oil. I also made steamed broccoli, which I think is perfect topped with a drizzle of melted organic butter.
The mac and cheese wasn't quite as good as I remembered it to be. Think I'm gonna have to go "original" next time. Some things are just better non-"healthified"
A little extra mac and cheese.
*SYTYCD SPOILER* We sat down to dinner just as SYTYCD was ending. I can't believe they sent Mollee home! Waahh...she was my fave! I also really like Russel, though...I'm hoping he stays for a bit.
As I was taking my first bite of food, Glee came on! I love when one of my fave shows is on as I'm sitting down to dinner. I'm typically such a multi-tasker/workaholic, when I'm eating it's one of the few times you can catch me sitting still.
Lookie what I got! I found the pine cones I was itching to buy after seeing them at Kate + Nate's house.
My house reeks of polyurethane still (I can't believe it!), so I'm hoping these cinnamon-scented pine cones keep us distracted till the stinky smell goes away. So far so good!
Lookie what else I got - an oats upgrade by way of Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats.
I've had oats envy ever since helping my friend start up his own oatmeal kit this past March (click for post). He wanted to start eating oatmeal for breakfast so I suggested he go for one of the better oats - extra thick. Oh yes! I'm sort of weird about about food and money. Sometimes I can talk myself into buying the more expensive version of something and sometimes I'm really good at talking myself out of buying it. I've been able to talk myself out off the more expensive oats for nearly a year, but no more! After running out of oats yesterday and seeing this bag staring at me at Earthfare tonight (and no small sizes of Quaker available and the kind I buy at Trader Joe's priced way higher), I decided to go for it!
I can't wait to try these out...hopefully tomorrow morning depending on if I sleep in or snooze much...haha.
What's your favorite type of grain to eat for breakfast? If oatmeal, what kind?
I made a delicious concoction of oats this morning - Butterscotch Pumpkin Oats.
Sipping coffee whilst cooking stove top oats.
Organic "soysage" - some savory to balance the sweetness of the oats.
Butterscotch Pumpkin Oats
Bring to boil:
Once boiling, add:
Cook for 3-5 minutes till thick to your liking
Top with chopped butterscotch chips and pecans. Enjoy!
After our shopping trip, I made a quick and easy dinner of spaghetti and meatballs.
So easy! I was trying to conserve time so I could decorate our tree and we almost caved and got pizza, but decided to eat in instead. I was so glad we did!
After dinner, we got started on the tree.
We started with lights and tinsel.
My tree decorating strategy is
What are your traditions for Tree Decorating?
I got back from CPR/AED/First Aid Certification around 2pm and planned to head over to a friend's house later for a holiday movie marathon around 3:15pm. Unfortunately, we were out of butter, so a grocery store trip was a must.
Knowing I was short on time, I at least had the foresight to pick up some Chocolate Chip Cookie mix from Great Harvest, while I was there picking up bread for the week. I figured using a mix would help me make some cookies quickly. Hey, cookies don't have to be made from scratch to be good, and with great ingredients like the ones in this mix, they're pretty close! I read the ingredient list and it looked pretty darn clean.
I was attracted to the package because of the price ($4.95) and the whole grain goodness!
I also picked up some more Trader Joe's Organic Butter. So very good.
I almost picked up some Earth Balance while I was at Trader Joe's, but I'm very skeptical of margarine-type products. I read the ingredient list and it seemed decent, but does any one know for sure one way or the other?
It was 2:45 by the time I got back from the grocery store.
Luckily, hubby helped me out by lining the baking sheets with parchment paper while I got the oven pre-heating and the cookies mixed up.
Get in that oven...quick!
Guess this is what happens when you rush through baking - it's a uni-cookie!
After letting the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, I quickly transferred the cookie-covered-parchment paper to wire racks to attempt faster cooling.
By the time the cookies were cooling, we were already running past our anticipated arrival time of 3:15pm, so I was starting to feel anxious about getting on the road.
After letting the cookies cool some more, I finally loaded them up, slightly warm and all. I used parchment paper I baked with to do the lining between layers of cookies.
Hey, I know I like still-warm-from-the-oven-cookies, so other people must, too, right? Right!
I dunno, I was too busy rushing to get going that I didn't get to taste test.
Cookies ready, we set off for our holiday movie marathon. Time to spread more holiday cheer for my Christmas Cookie Challenge! Tally-ho!
With my company's Food Day happening on Friday, I knew I had to cook something (no matter how tired) Thursday night. What better to make than cookies for my Holiday Cookie Challenge?!
I didn't know what to make, so I just went to the grocery store and picked up semi-sweet chocolate chips and butterscotch chips and figured I'd surely be able to bake something with them.
The cookies mixed up quite nicely.
After reading some reviews, I decided to bake my cookies at 350 degrees F for 9 minutes.
I got quite the variance in my cookie doneness - must have been the different pans! Look how much darker the cookies are on the right!
The cookies smelled amazing! I had forgotten how yummy butterscotch smells and tastes!
Perfect with some skim milk!
Oh yea! I had to taste test a couple...you know...to make sure they were ok to give out to my co-workers and friends. They were faboo - nice and chewy! I may play with the recipe a bit...I think it could possibly use some more flour or something, but the flavor was quite nice.
I used the parchment paper I baked with to line a large tupperware and keep my layers of cookies separated.
Ahhh...all ready to go for Food Day!
Ever have one of those days where you come home exhausted from work starving but not in the mood to cook?
That was me yesterday. I had worked a long day and totally zonked. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the grocery store or COOK! I wanted to relax on the couch and watch SYTYCD and Glee.
Luckily, I was prepared. I had plenty of food in my freezer and pantry to throw something together. I decided to cook up the frozen tortellini I had in the freezer to make a yummy dinner:
No Fuss Tortellini Pasta Bake
Pre-heat broiler. Grease/butter a small casserole dish (broiler proof).
Cook tortellini according to package directions.
Heat sauce in separate pot (doesn't need to boil, just needs to be hot)
Once tortellini is cooked, add greens to pot with marinara sauce.
Add tortellini to sauce pot.
Add to casserole dish.
Top casserole with cheese (about 1/2 cup)
Place bread on top of cooling rack (helps bottom from getting soggy) and top bread with cheese (about 1/4 cup)
Place both in oven and broil until cheese is melted (careful - broilers burn food easily!)
Maybe even get seconds! (I saved some of my cheesy toast to enjoy with Round 2 - they pair so well together!)
If you're like me, you'll probably save room for dessert, too! Martha's Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread cookies! Yum-O!
I was later posting my blog about my Holiday Cookie Challenge than I expected, so my timing is poor. Buuut, I actually baked my first batch of cookies for the Holiday Cookie Challenge this past weekend. I baked up Martha Stewart's Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies.
Here are some photos from my baking fun:
Boy, did these babies make my whole house smell like Christmas or what?!
I love chewy cookies. I love gingerbread cookies. I love chocolate chip cookies. Therefore, I love chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies. Yummers!
What's a girl to do but take some of the yummy cookies to sushi night with my fave zumba girls!?
One for each of us (yea, one for me, too!)
I had intentions to give more of these away, but my plans didn't work out. I'm hoping to make up for my missed cheer-spreading with my next batch!
What kinds of holiday cookies are you baking?! Are you in for the Holiday Cookie Challenge?
I made a super yummy dinner last night - Spiced Shrimp Quinoa! So faboo...even hubby loved it!
It wasn't the fastest dinner, but it was easy. Here are some photos from the cooking:
Quinoa simmering away
Toss in frozen peas
Shrimp go on top
Top with toasted pine nuts
Note pretty yellow color. I added this with spices! I added cumin and chili powder for flavor...I added turmeric for nutritional benefits, color, and of course, flavor. You can read about my previous turmeric challenge with tidbits by clicking here.
Spiced Shrimp Quinoa
Here are the details:
- All baked goods will be vegan and some will be gluten-free.
- All funds will go directly to Team in Training/LLS- http://pages.teamintraining.org/cfl/dipihalf10/asickles
- Bidding for the bake sale will be held Wednesday (12/2) from 2:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. EST
- Anyone with a U.S. shipping address (blogger or not) can bid by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bids can be emailed to email@example.com early for those who can't make it to a computer during that time frame.
- Highest bids will be updated frequently on main bake sale page.
- The funds from winning bids must be posted to my TnT fundraising page (http://pages.teamintraining.org/cfl/dipihalf10/asickles) within 24 hours of winning confirmation email or next bidder automatically wins.
- Winning bidders can expect to have their product shipped out within three (3) days of the bake sale as long as shipping address is received promptly.
Oh, and did I mention...I'm baking Chocolate Chip Blondies for her fundraiser! So go bid on my item pretty please! ;)
Let the bidding begin!
Good luck Ashley!
PS I made the badge...woot woot! :)
Ahh...December is here and with this time of year, we find ourselves amidst a sea of holiday madness: gift searching, shopping, cooking, traveling, card sending, and all that other fun stuff we do around the holidays. If you're like me, you also look forward to another holiday pastime: baking!
When the holidays arrive, I love to experiment with new recipes so I can bake up a storm and give my friends and family sweet treats to spread the holiday cheer and let them know I'm thinking of them.
This year, I've decided to challenge myself to try at least one new cookie recipe per weekend through Christmas. I thought this would be a fun way to make sure I don't procrastinate and actually do the baking I want to and will also give me the opportunity to try out some new recipes.
Now, what happens when you bake? You create batches and batches of sweets that you (and your family/SOs/etc) don't need to be eating all by your lonesome. Sometimes you bake with the intention of giving all or a portion of your baked goods to someone. Sometimes, you bake for yourself and don't know what to do with all the sweets you've created (which sometimes, sadly, end up going bad if you can't finish them yourself).
Spread the Cheer
Well, this year, why not spread the holiday cheer by vowing to gift some of your sweet treats to someone deserving? Save all or a portion of one of your weekend batches to give to that co-worker who did you a favor, your family member who is always there for you, the nice clerk at the store who is always so helpful, your veterinarian who always takes such good care of your pets...the possibilities are ENDLESS!
Holiday Cookie Challenge 2009
Who can play in the Holiday Cookie Challenge? Anyone! YOU can!
How do you play in the Holiday Cookie Challenge? Bake a new cookie recipe every weekend through Christmas (or just one time this season). Gift all or some of your cookies to someone to spread the holiday cheer. Leave me a comment with what you baked and who you gave some (or all) of your cookies to (and why you chose the person you did if you'd like to share). Links to blog posts with the details and photos work too. And if you don't have a blog but want to share a photo, you can email that to me at thechiclife at gmail dot com. Photos of what you baked and/or who you gave them to (if they permit their photo being published of course) would be awesome!
Yup, it's that easy!
I've even created this nifty badge in case you'd like to use it on your blog template or posts.
You can get the code here:
Here are the entries (don't see yours? Then, leave a comment with a link to your post or a description of what you baked and who you shared it with - you can also tweet what you baked, but remember to add the #cookiechallenge tag):
Here are some recipes submitted for the challenge via twitter:
Who's In?! What's your favorite holiday cookie recipe? What's a recipe you'd like to try?
Ahh...the age old debate comes around again. What to make with all our Thanksgiving leftovers - especially the leftover turkey! My personal favorite use for leftover turkey is to make Turkey Tettrazini. I've tried a couple recipes over time but haven't really been 100% happy with any of them.
What's a girl to do but make up her own recipe? ;) I give you my take on Turkey Tettrazini - a healthified and from-scratch version.
I decided to add some extra veggies in addition to the norm mushrooms - celery and onion - two mild veggies.
Cooking up the mushrooms
Making the sauce.
Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Add lots of fresh parsley
Add the sauce.
Add ingredients to a prepped casserole dish.
Top with breadcrumbs and fresh-grated parmesan.
Enjoy with leftover Thanksgiving veggies...because you can never have enough veggies!
Maybe add a slice of leftover pumpkin pie to boot.
Day After Thanksgiving Turkey Tetrazzini (Healthified)
NOTE: I searched high and low for the perfect recipe, but didn't find any I loved. This recipe is healthified than others I've seen by using whole wheat flour and less cream than traditional recipes. Add more cream for a richer flavor. This is also a healthier version than recipes that use cans of cream of <something> soups since you can control the ingredients and sodium levels better. Extra veggies are added through mild onions and celery.
The perfect use for Thanksgiving leftovers!
Before I even thought of the Thanksgiving Challenge, I knew I wanted to do something on the healthy side this Thanksgiving. I decided that this year, we'd make Thanksgiving a "healthy indulgence." I knew I wanted to make over as many dishes as possible erring on the healthy side, for the health of me and my family. I even proposed my idea to Foodbuzz for 24, 24, 24, but alas...I did not win.
I told my family about my idea for a healthy Thanksgiving and they were very supportive. My dad is on a strict diet anyways, so in reality, a lighter Thanksgiving was really good for him. Not to mention thanks to my health-freak dad, my family already eats pretty healthily anyways. :)
The Prep Work
My whole family got together to cook. We had a great joint effort!
Sweet Potato Casserole - a healthy recipe my sister found online at eatingwell.com.
Dad's dressing. My dad actually shocked me by using white bread (he is the biggest anti-bleached-white-bread person I know!) in the dressing. Luckily, we used plenty of veggies and fresh herbs from my parent's garden.
After the turkey was done, the casserole and dressing cooked away.
My parents picked up some organic kale for me to cook.
I couldn't help but notice how pretty the water looked welled up in the back of the kale leaves as I washed them in the sink. So sparkly!
I blanched my kale before sauteing it with onion, garlic, and chicken broth
Pine nuts - toasting away to top the kale
Buttermilk mashed potatoes with a dab of real butter for flavor.
We used whole wheat pastry flour to make our gravy.
Tofu pumpkin pie! My sister used a flat blade to ensure the pumpkin pie was COMPLETELY flat. The pumpkin pies baked away while we enjoyed our dinner.
A little Beaujolais Nouveau to enjoy with dinner
Passing the torch
Bailey was very attentive, though we did make him sit to the side.
Makeover - Basted with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter
Makeover - as much fat skimmed away as possible and whole wheat pastry flour subbed for AP.
Makeover - got fresh-baked rolls from Great Harvest Bread Company in whole wheat (they grind their own wheat and don't use preservatives!)
Makeover - steamed green beans instead of creamy (and heavy) green bean casserole
Makeover - roasted with extra virgin olive oil instead of mashed potatoes with lots of cream and butter
Makeover - mashed potatoes made with healthier buttermilk and with small dab of butter instead of lots of cream and butter.
Makeover - made with veggies and fresh herbs to boost nutrition
Veggie Side #1
Makeover - used superfood kale sauteed with chicken broth and topped with toasted pine nuts, easy on the olive oil
Veggie Side #2
Makeover - steamed in microwave
Makeover - no makeover here...maybe next year?
Makeover - made with whole wheat flour, low-fat milk, heart-healthy canola oil and waaaaay-easy on the butter
Makeover - used tofu instead of eggs/milk/cream/cream cheese/etc.
I took a little bit of everything (as much as possible) for my Round #1 (see Easy Ways to Make Thanksgiving a Healthy Indulgence). Everything looked so good, I wanted to pile my plate with food! Instead, I forced myself to take tiny portions (look at the corn...that's like only 1 tbsp worth!) but I was hoping my tiny portions would pay me back with seconds.
Turns out I'm better at portioning than I thought because I was feeling pretty full after Round #1 and decided to hold off on Round #2 for awhile.
After relaxing at the table for a bit, I decided to go in for Round #2, but this time, I had one target in mind - that Sweet Potato Casserole. Yum!
After letting a couple hours go by, I was ready for dessert. Tofu Pumpkin Pie! I enjoyed dessert (with a bit of skim milk) while catching a movie (the new Star Trek) with the fam.
Holy wow is tofu pumpkin pie good or what?! It tastes just like regular pumpkin pie!
Hubby saw our recipe laying out and got freaked out by the pie.
I talked him into trying a tiny slice, doused with tons of whipped cream.
He actually got seconds (albeit another tiny piece with extra whipped cream, but still....a WIN IMO!)
I'm so pleased with Thanksgiving this year! The food was lighter and I still got to indulge without feeling horrible afterwards. The best part...my family got to enjoy the healthy indulgence, too!
What a wonderful thanksgiving with family and great food! So much to be thankful for!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Finally re-stocked some food staples in my house!
I've been missing my go-to breakfast Morningstar "soysages". I guess the ones I normally eat are actually not "soysages" but I think that's so much more fun to say. :)
Anywho, this time around, I truly do have the "soysages" made with organic soy. I think I actually prefer the regular veggie "sausages" - they seem to be more moist and I think I like their flavor more.
For breakfast, I also had coffee and oatmeal.
Microwave 2 minutes
Have I mentioned that I love my Great Harvest bread b/c they grind their own wheat. Yes...it's pretty bada$$ IMO.
I knew hubby was bringing me lunch so I brought this side of Carolina Slaw I picked up from Earthfare this weekend. I love how simple yet tasty all the Earthfare sides are. They're reasonably priced and easy to take to work. I especially like how the ingredients seem so nutritious and clean!
I didn't know he was bringing me this - a mini cinnamon roll. I find these little rolls irresistible whenever I hit up my local GHBC. Yum. Thanks hubby!
I was craving chocolate this afternoon and remembered I had this mini Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate Mini Bar in Dark Chocolate in my purse.
The chocolate was great but they only sell this size in an assorted bag and I'm trying to eat only dark chocolate since I like it about the same as milk and it's more nutritious.
Chipotle (Organic) Chicken Soup
I picked up groceries from Trader Joe's on the way home. The word "organic" is sneaking more and more onto the products I purchase. ;)
Besides the soup ingredients, I also stocked up on some other great pantry/freezer items. I'm hoping to reap the rewards of expensive shopping trips with cheap dinners later.
The soup cooked up quickly and easily - it was a Rachael Ray 30 minute meal recipe, and you can usually depend on them to be nice and easy that way.
It was a little splatter-y and messy, but definitely easy.
Taste test for the chef.
Starter - arugula salad with baby carrot and sunflower seeds - topped with my fave Drew's rosemary balsamic dressing.
Did you know sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E? Click here to read more about the nutrition of sunflower seeds.
Chipotle (organic) chicken soup with water and white wine.
Topped with some fresh-squeezed lime.
The soup was spicier than I thought it would be, but it was quite good and hubby REALLY loved it.
I based the soup off of this Rachael Ray recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup with Chipotle and Fire Roasted Tomato, except, I didn't add the tortilla chips at all (don't like soggy chips...ew!) and I put my cheese on top instead of topping my soup on the cheese. I also didn't add the red onion or the cilantro because I didn't want to spend more money on groceries.
I rebaked my cornbread in the oven while my soup cooked since I found out yesterday that the middle pieces weren't quite cooked through in the center. Turns out when I thought I set my oven for 375 degrees F (the first time I cooked the cornbread), I actually set it for 350 degrees F. Doh!
I topped my cornbread with more organic butter and a drizzle of local honey. Oh-so-good!
I had seconds on both the soup (about 1/2 the original portion size 2nd time around) and cornbread (same size).
I enjoyed dinner whilst watching So You Think You Can Dance. Wow, everyone looked so FAB! Some of those dresses were HOT. I kind of want to wear one to zumba...haha. Maybe for one of our "costume days" eh?
I decided that our wine, Trader Joe's Honey Moon Viognier, would be my dessert. I'm slooooowly sipping a mini glass as I blog. Yum yum!
Thanksgiving Challenge Ideas
Are you worried about over-indulging at Thanksgiving this year? Want some tips on how to eat healthy this Thanksgiving? Maybe you should play in my Thanksgiving Food Challenge? I'm giving away a free pair of earrings! Either way, check out the links below...
Ideas to inspire you to eat healthy this Thanksgiving:
How to Reduce Your Food Waste
And lastly, did you know the average American wastes more than half a pound of food each day? GOOD shares a video (click) to help you reduce your waste.Here's how I try to reduce my food waste and be green (I wrote these before watching the video ;) ):
How do you reduce your food waste?
Once hubby and I got home from his mother's house, we took a little time to relax and settle in. Soon enough, though, I was ready to get cooking.
We weren't sure what to make, but I decided the rainy day called for chili. Ellie Krieger's 3 Bean and Beef Chili (click recipe name for link), which I made with mostly organic ingredients and grass-fed beef.
After a quick trip to Earthfare (where I picked up more than just ingredients for dinner...per the usual...lol) and then to Harris Teeter (since Earthfare didn't have chiles in adobo), I had everything I needed to get started.
While the first phase of my chili cooked away on the stove....
I rinsed the 3 beans for the chili and got started on the cornbread.
I found this yummy Gluten Free Cornbread Mix by Bob's Red Mill at the store. I used to use Jiffy mix, but upon comparing ingredient labels (which I'm doing more and more these days), I determined this one seemed more nutritious. The first ingredient is whole grain cornmeal (the other options started with various flours).
I used Earthfare organic milk and cage-free, no anti-biotic brown eggs, with canola oil to make my cornbread.
The recipe called for a 9"x9" baking pan, which I didn't have, so I used an 8"x11". I set the cooking time for 5 minutes less than suggested, since the mix was more spread out in the slightly larger pan, but it ended up taking about the same time. I'd still check mine early if you try this size substitution.
I thought the cornbread would even out during baking, but it remained a bit lumpy. Guess I'll have to flatten it out better next time.
Kraft Natural Cheese in Mexican Style Cheddar Jack to top.
And, dinner is seeeeeerved....
This chili was so DELISH! Nice and smoky without being too hot.
The chili went perfectly with my Bob's Mill GF cornbread, topped with a tiny dab of organic butter and drizzle of local honey.
Wow, this cornbread was AMAZING! So thick yet tender and tasty. I think this is the BEST from the box cornbread I've ever had. Maybe best cornbread ever, who knows?
Seconds on chili
Seconds on cornbread too!
So impressed with both dishes from dinner tonight - they are both KEEPERS!
Post dinner, I had 2 TJ's Dark Chocolate Wedges with a wee bit of Earthfare Organic 2% milk. Yum yum!
What's the best chili recipe you've ever tried? How bout best cornbread (can be a mix)?
Last night, I cut up the rest of my homemade granola bars (after giving them their proper 2-3 hours of cooling time).
I cut the bars into individual portions and wrapped each in saran wrap.
Check out all those layers of goodness!
Wrapped and ready to go!
This morning, I woke up and decided to make another yummy breakfast - not because I wanted to (it made me late for work!), but because we were out of my Morningstar "sausage" (my quick AM protein)...doh!
Great breakfast though - another fried Earthfare cage-free brown egg with more Great Harvest Cinnamon Swirl bread warmed up in the microwave.
Today was CRAZY at work! I had 6 hours of meetings and conference calls! This whole week is going to be pretty out-of-control, actually. My whole team is flying in from all over the country for 2 days of on-site meetings. I've been working on preparing some deliverables - one I'll be presenting Wednesday! - and getting ready for them to show up. They put me in charge of food again...woot woot! The food was the EASY (and fun) part! lol I think I picked some great stuff.
After work, I headed home. No zumba today. *sad face* I stopped by long enough to give a couple of the girls some good zumba fuel - my homemade granola bars - and to say hello. Then I was off to do some work at the house.
When I got home, a package was waiting for me.
I can't wait to wear them to class! Too bad I'll probably have to wait a week before I can!
Knowing I had a busy night ahead of me, I decided to do an easy dinner using stuff from our pantry/freezer: TJ's meatless corn dogs, soycutash, and Annie's Shells & Cheese.
Dinner was quick, easy, and affordable.
I added a small dab of organic butter for flavor to the veggies - I think it really helped!
Dinner is served!
Easy + tasty.
Dessert - a piece of Great Harvest Cinnamon Swirl (gotta eat it while it's fresh!), a date, and some organic 2% milk from Earthfare.
Surprisingly enough, the date was sweeter than the bread! They were both delish and I enjoyed them, though.
I also enjoyed Gossip Girl - especially with Lady Gaga performing her new hit - Bad Romance!
Random Thought of the Day
Today, I got behind a small white hatchback that had a single window sticker on it. As I pulled closer behind the car at a stoplight, I read the sticker - it was a Nine Inch Nails sticker. I wondered - can we be defined by a single band? I mean, you have a huge window and bumper on your car that would fit numerous stickers, but you only chose ONE sticker to use as your statement to the world for when you drive around. Does NIN define the driver I saw today? Certainly, different people find and relate to meaning in the music and lyrics of particular bands. Perhaps our connection to music is deeper than we think (those who would and would not display a band sticker publicly)? Perhaps music and artists truly can express our personality and the many tangents existing.
What do you think? Could you pick a single band or artist that truly encompasses your personality? If yes, which one?
Have a great week everyone!
Oh, and I have something fun in the works for next week. Start picking out your fave clothes for next week! More to come....
I had plans with Kath and Matt to go hiking later in the day, so I decided an impromptu trip to the grocery store was in order to get the goodies I'd need to make the perfect trail snack - granola bars. I LOVE granola bars - especially when they're homemade.
Before starting on the granola bars, I got morning essentials out of the way - coffee - fresh ground Larry's Beans in Louie Supremo.
I love how their bags are compostable. How clever!
They also had me with the coffee description (from the bag) - "Bright, light & big-flavored. Sweet-n-smooth w/ a clean lip-smackin' finish." Perfect-o!
I got my dry ingredients toasting in the oven. I used a little less almonds and added in sunflower seeds in their place to make the bars have more diverse ingredients. I also added some flax seed.
Oh did that coconut smell yummy toasting away in the oven!
Sipped on my delish coffee.
I subbed organic brown rice syrup for both the honey and the brown sugar to make the bars healthier. The brown rice syrup bottle suggested I use 1/4 cup extra of the syrup and 1/4 cup less of something else in the recipe so I subbed brown rice syrup for the honey and the extra 1/4 cup matched up perfectly with the amount of brown sugar I was supposed to use. Ta-dah!
Wet ingredients - about to bubble on the stove.
Once the dry ingredients were done, I added the toasted wheat germ and something I thought would up the nutrition factor - chia seeds!
Next, I added the wet ingredients, mixed well...
...and then added the dried fruit ingredients - 2 x dried cranberries (instead of 1 part apricot) and 1 x dates.
I had to pit the dates myself, but they were easy-peesy. Just a bit sticky.
I read a lot of reviews saying the bars feel apart too easily, so after mounding the mixture in my parchment lined baking sheet, I made sure to press the granola mixture very well into the pan. I mean, I really made sure to add some pressure! Those bars were NOT going to fall apart on me!
All I had to do now was pop the bars into the oven.
While my homemade granola bars baked away in the oven, I enjoyed a late breakfast - a fried Earthfare (cage-free brown) egg and
1 and 1/2 slices of Great Harvest cinnamon swirl bread with the rest of my coffee. Sooo good!
I did mess up on one thing on my bars. I neglected to read the part where I was supposed to let my bars cool for 2-3 hours. Doh! I needed to be at Kath's place an hour after removing them from the oven!
I cooled them in the pan for 30 minutes and then on a cutting board for 20. I even tried sticking the bars in the fridge for 10 minutes to help speed up the cooling process.
They broke up a little when I cut them, but stayed together for the most part. I couldn't wait for them to cool more, I had a hiking date to make!
I cut 6 bars and wrapped each in saran wrap and then we were off for an outdoor adventure!
Adapted from Ina's Homemade Granola Bars
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, flaxseed and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ and chia seeds.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Place the butter, brown rice syrup, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates and cranberries and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.
Makes a great pre-workout snack - lots of good stuff to give you energy in there!
Let me know how you like the bars if you try them!
I actually remembered today that I had an early work meeting and got ready a little early for it.
I did make sure to have a nice mug of coffee (freshly ground Larry's beans from Earthfare). These mugs were such a good investment. They make me so happy. I love it when simple things can do that.
For breakfast, I celebrated Bagel Day Friday with a pumpkin bagel with pumpkin schmear. I don't think I'll be wanting that combo after Thanksgiving, so I have to get it while the getting's good!
I worked the second half of the day from today, which meant HOT FOOD! So hard to heat things up at work. I think it's a pain to carry a lot of things, i.e. laptops, bottled water, packed lunches, whatever, all day, too.
I had leftovers from last night's Organic Chicken and White-Wheat dumplings. I don't like the way things taste re-heated in the microwave, so we heated ours on the stove with a tad extra water and covered tightly with a lid.
I followed lunch with a mug of hot Celestial Seasonings tea in Lemon Zinger Green Tea. I tried to capture a picture of the lovely steam for you guys. Tough stuff to capture on camera!
This work week has been more difficult than normal resulting in a rather exhausted me. I felt like napping on the couch (and you guys know I don't like to nap) - NOT working out. But, I told myself I'd feel better if I went to zumba, and you know what...
...I went to zumba and I DID feel better! Here's me right after class with a lovely Aria protein shake. Love that stuff!
When I got home from class, I poked a spaghetti squash and got it cooking in the microwave while I showered up.
Careful when you are poking holes in your squash people! I found my knife often got a bit lodged in and my instinct was to whip the knife back out, which is dangerous. Instead, I patiently and carefully jimmied the knife out with as little pressure as possible. Safety first, please!
These guys are MUCH easier to cut into halves after being cooked. They're hot stuff, though, so you have to watch your fingers.
Seeds and pulp - this stuff's gotta go!
Ready to make "spaghetti".
Dig in with your fork - gently scrape the sides of the squash to get out your "spaghetti".
Mix squash "spaghetti" with marinara sauce.
Stuff squash with mixture.
Top with fresh mozzarella.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Broil to brown cheese once melted (I ran mine for about 2 minutes).
I also toasted our bread under the broiler since we don't have a toaster yet.
Dinner is served - easy stuffed spaghetti squash casserole with Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat toast and real organic butter.
It's not the fastest dinner in the world, but it is darn easy and only requires 3 ingredients! Not bad for a simple vegetarian dinner option.
That's RIGHT - I made the switch from regular butter to organic. Yippee! It was more expensive, but I think it's worth it.
I LOVED mine, but hubby didn't care for it. He prefers meat in his meals.
Dessert = Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie.
Easy Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Well, this week has been pretty crazy at work with every day full of 6 hours of conference calls and a big deliverable due tomorrow. Oh and I have to present said deliverable in front of 25 of our project's stakeholders. Yippee!
Anywho, I'm currently sipping a nice glass of Orvieto white wine, which I picked up on my way home from work at Trader Joe's. *sip, sip sip* time to blog!
Due to my blogastrophe last night with my publisher deleting my hours worth of posting last night, I woke up running a bit late. Seems to be the norm lately!
I toasted up some Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat bread in our broiler (still haven't gotten a new toaster!) and topped it with some Barney Butter. My chia seeds are, unfortunately, packed away soooomewhere, so I couldn't add them as per normal. I also enjoyed the last of our Dunkin Donuts coffee. I liked it ok, but MUCH prefer my fave - Fresh Market coffees. That Larry's coffee stuff is pretty good, too!
Early morning snack - Trader Joe's Chocolate Soy Milk...oh so good!
Lunch: toasted turkey sammie and edamame. SOOO GLAD that I made extra edamame yesterday so I had a veggie to take to work.
Moi sans makeup with an afternoon snack - Raw Organic Food Bar in Chocolate Coconut (won free on Twitter).
These bars are addicting!
I FINALLY took a nice re-stocking trip at Trader Joe's. I got all kinds of good stuff:
So glad to have some veggies and food back in the house! I got almost all the ingredients I needed to cook dinner: Rachael Ray's Chicken & Dumplings - perfect for the icky rainy weather we've been having lately.Trader Joe's didn't have any biscuit mix, so I swung by Harris Teeter but I couldn't find ANY biscuit mix that didn't have TRANS FATS. wth!
I was going to cave and grab one of the trans-fatty boxes when I decided NO! I will not give in! I will make my OWN biscuits FROM SCRATCH. Take THAT trans fats!
I used this recipe (click) to make from scratch biscuits using the white-wheat flour I had from a previous Trader Joe's trip.
Pictures from cooking:
I put my recipe on my phone so I wouldnt have to print it out. Go green!
While my dumplings simmered away, I got started on dessert...
Trader Joe's Truffle Brownies!
I made a bit of a mess when the bag of mix EXPLODED all over the counter!
I placed the brownies in the oven just before sitting down to enjoy dinner.
You likey my new bowls!? I do!
Candle lit dinner
Orvieto - VINO! Yum!
Up close and personal. Just before my first bite. I think this is my favorite photo from the post!
Hubby brought me a brownie while I was catching up on last week's Flash Forward on my computer. What a DOWNER last week's episode was! So sad! He didn't have to do that! (FF watchers, you know what I'm talking about - the Celia episode). This show is really getting good...I think I'm addicted! Oh and that last scene! Wow. I can't wait to see this week's episode!
In other randomness, I got an email saying a friend had tagged a photo of me on Facebook. I went to check it out and was pretty shocked by what I saw. It was a photo from when I was in college and I barely recognized myself. This is me back when I still had my Freshman-20...or was it 30? I can't remember, but here it is:
Now (Flaunting it for Flaunt It Week):
Thank goodness for zumba! So weird to see old pictures of yourself sometimes, no?
Flaunt It Week
Speaking of Flaunt It Week, we had some more most-awesome submissions on Twitter (use #flauntitwk):
(Please, ecto, I beg you...please don't delete my post tonight!)
After an EXTREMELY looooooooong day having a blast at the Zumba Basic 1 Workshop with Koh, the last thing I felt like doing was cook. We had already purchased groceries the day before, but I was totally not in the mood to actually cook the meal I had planned. Hubby suggested pizza but had just taken a tylenol PM and I didn't feel like driving anywhere and I knew he shouldn't be driving, so I decided to tackle a cooking project.
A little something I've been cooking up in my head - a recipe using those pretty pomegranate arils and only 5 key ingredients! I don't know about you, but I love recipes that don't require 10,000 ingredients!
I got my main ingredients out: thin cut chicken, pomegranate juice, and pomegranate arils (previously opened).
Fresh Market sells chicken already thin cut, but I didn't see any when we went grocery shopping at Earthfare. Lucky for me, upon inquiring, the nice man behind the counter offered to slice some some chicken breasts for me. Yay!
I also found this Lakewood Organic Pomegranate juice at Earthfare to use in my reduction.
I chose broccolini for our veggie side.
Reducing the pomegranate juice.
I served the chicken and broccolini with a side of toasted Great Harvest Tara's Dark Rye bread with real butter for my carb.
Dinner is served! Nom nom nom! I love the savory-sweet combo in the flavors of this dish. The pomegranate arils make the dish soooo pretty! I think this would be a great entree to serve at a dinner party for the looks alone!
All Natural Chicken with a Pomegranate Reduction and Steamed Broccolini
NOTE: Hey! This meal only requires 4 ingredients (besides olive oil, butter, salt and pepper)
Pretty to look at - delicious to eat! Five key ingredients or less!
Did you know November is National Pomegranate month? I didn't until I read about it at pomwonderful.com
My friend Megan recently requested I help her figure out how to open a pomegranate. Since I'm a big fan of the pomegranate, I was happy to help.
It turns out that pomegranates are quite easy to open! Not quick, but easy - yes!
I purchased a nice, organic pomegranate at Earthfare with some help from one of their employees. The nice man explained that although the organic version was much smaller, it had the same amount of seeds (the edible part), so I opted for the organic option.
The nice man also suggested I open my pomegranate over 2 paper bags since the pomegranate juice stains easily. I took his advice by using two Trader Joe's paper bags.
I found a nice How-To Guide from the most-awesome POM Wonderful peeps. I'll share their how-to (in italics) along with some of my photos from my morning adventure.
1 - Cut
With a sharp paring knife, cut off the top about a 1/2 inch below the crown.
2 - Score
Once the top is off, you'll see four to six sections. WIth your knife point, score the skin at each section. (Here's where things get juicy!)
3 - Open
Separate the pomegranate at each score, so that you have individual sections.
4 - Loosen
Over a bowl of water, use your fingers to loose the "arils" (the flesh-covered seeds) and drop them into the bowl. The arils will sink to the bottom. (Go slowly here or you'll flick pomegranate juice all over your countertop, walls, and possibly yourself! Note - I totally forgot to put water in my bowl. Doh! I just added some water to the bowl when I was done to get to the next step.)
5 - Scoop
Use a spoon to scoop out the pieces of white membrane that have floated to the top.
6 - Strain
Pour the remaining liquid through a strainer. Place the arils in your favorite dish and enjoy!
Thanks to POM Wonderful for the tutorial!
Pomegranates may not be the fastest thing to prepare, but they are easy and delicious.
I decided to put my pomegranate arils in my breakfast this morning. But not until after sipping on some Dunkin Donuts home-brewed coffee with vanilla-sugar.
I used some Earthfare Organic Pomegranate jelly to make my oatmeal extra pomegranate-y. I wanted to use some POM juice, but I forgot all week to pick some up! I'm hoping to make some this weekend.
All together on my new placemat from Pier One!
Coffee + Vanilla Sugar = Delicious
Microwave for 1 minute, stir, 1 more minute
I thought at first that crunchy pomegranate seeds may be odd with creamy, tender oatmeal, but then I figured that the arils would be as crunchy as the nuts I usually put on top. I thought the pomegranate arils on my oats were pretty darn tasty and i even liked the texture combo of the soft + crunchy.
I have some dinner plans with the rest of my arils (you'll see!), not to mention, I'd LOVE to toss some of the arils in salads and on top of yogurt.
I'm so bummed that I'm not going to make it for the first ever Foodbuzz festival in San Francisco! A#1, I totally meant to apply to their recipe contests. I'm not saying I thought I was going to win, but it would have been nice to have submitted something. I suppose there's always next year?
I hope all the festival participants have a fun time and safe travels!
Top Secret Saturday Project
Although I'm sad I won't make the Foodbuzz festival, I do have something pretty big in the works for tomorrow. I actually had my "project" already scheduled, so I would have had to do a lot of re-scheduling had I decided to go to Foodbuzz last minute. I'm pretty excited about tomorrow...it's gonna be AWESOME!
I have more to post for tonight, but not enough time! I gotta go get ready for tomorrow.
Any guesses as to what I'll be doing tomorrow? ;)
*Just realized that the following was supposed to post last night and did not...oops!*
I spent another busy day in and around the house and got lots of good stuff done:
We had another breakfast out - Hubby picked up Starbucks. I got a pumpkin spice latte...
...and a spinach feta wrap. I'm starting to become pretty impressed with the breakfast options at Starbucks. Where else can you get oatmeal and a latte as easily as Starbucks? Not to mention, they have such yummy sandwich treats. My fave is pretty healthy too, made with egg whites and a whole wheat tortilla.
The breakfast fueled me up for a long cleaning session in the master bathroom, as well as a couple other housework tasks.
Hubby and I swung by Earthfare for some...yay, finally...REAL FOOD!
After grocery shopping, hubby and I escaped to a local bar where we noshed on some nachos. We had to sit in an outdoor area that was covered with fabric and had heaters but was just too cold for me to last long. I left hubby at the bar and went home to do some more stuff around the house before picking him up shortly later.
Then, it was time for our first HOME COOKED MEAL! With only half our pots and pans clean, I decided to keep things simple with spaghetti.
I also used local grass fed ground beef.
Organic Roasted Garlic pasta sauce.
Sipping on Trentadue wine amid the chaos of boxes and what-not.
I got my sauce going and simmering and while my pasta cooked, I downed my Earthfare salad. Once home, I added some pepitas and my own salad dressing before chowing down.
Round #1 - soooo good! So nice to be able to cook and eat at home finally. We still have a lot of work to do before the kitchen is completely ready, but any cook-ability works for me.
Round #2...mmm! Topped with lots of fresh parm!
Dessert #2 - a mini Snickers with almonds
Dessert #3 - half my ginger molasses cookie...the whole wheat chocolate chip is still my fave, but this is great for the season.
What was the first home-cooked meal you made when you last moved?
After the suuuuper long Saturday I had yesterday, I definitely slept in again.
By the time I woke up, I was needing coffee and something good to eat for breakfast.
Hubby brewed this bag of Starbucks Africa Kitamu coffee he brought home from his trip to DC.
For breakfast, I decided to do French Toast with a TWIST!
I used some cage-free eggs to make my custard.
I used some Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat bread that we've had around for a few days.
I sipped on coffee and browsed my new Crate and Barrel catalog whilst cooking up breakfast.
Got a little crazy with the cinnamon.
My secret ingredient - Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter - this plus the cinnamon gave the French Toast a really great fall flavor.
French toast is MESSY!
Since I still only have my tiny non-stick pans (hope to remedy this once we're in the house), I could only cook 2 pieces of French Toast at a time. I kept the cooked pieces warm in the oven on 250 degrees F.
Breakfast is served! With the Pumpkin-Spiced French Toast, I also had some more Canadian bacon and some maple syrup warmed up with some real butter.
After brunch, I did some serious packing. We loaded up 1 1/2 cars worth of boxes and stuff and headed over to the house to check out our newly refinished hardwoods. We can't walk on them till Wednesday so until then...we wait.
I think they look GREAT, though!
After checking out the house, I headed over to my new favorite grocery store - Earthfare! I was hungry for a snack and lucked out by filling up on samples in the prepared food section. I really was picking out stuff to eat for the week, so I wasn't just eating their samples for nothing.
Earthfare had their organic pumpkin on sale - 3 for $5! I normally try to get rid of stuff in my pantry when I'm getting ready to move, but I couldn't pass on this deal. I got 3 cans. I'll just have to move them...it will be worth it.
We are also out of coffee. I didn't want to pick up a big bag only to turn around and have to move it, so I just filled a bag up with enough to get us through a couple days. I decided to try a fair trade coffee by Larry's Beans in Costa Little Ricky blend, which comes from Raleigh, NC. I wonder if they do tours? I'd love to check them out next time I'm visiting my MIL.
I tried a new Odwalla flavor - Pink Poetry - Earthfare had $1 off coupons in the refrigerated section. Looks like it's got some good stuff in it.
Hubby brought home some pizza from our fave local pizza place - I had some bruschetta, 1 slice of pepperoni and 1 slice of cheese with a wee bit of coke.
I picked up a couple treats for hubby and myself: 1 peanut butter chocolate chip cookie (for him) and a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie (for me). Look at that close-up!
Phew, this has been a whirlwind weekend, but a GREAT one! Guess I need to rest up for the big MOVE! G'night!
Stayed up late tonight packing...here are photos from tonight:
I got these organic yellow onions at Earthfare for under $3 - yea, the whole bag!
I decided to make a red sauce pasta dish to try to use up more of our pantry ingredients. I've had these cans of whole peeled tomatoes waiting for a rainy day, and though it didn't rain, they came in handy today.
I made Mario Batali's Basic Tomato Sauce which reminds me of cappellini pomodoro, a dish frequently found at Italian-style restaurants.
I added extra pepper to give my version a kick. We were going sans meat tonight so I figured the least I could do for hubby was make the dish spicy since he likes heat.
Unfortunately, I noticed a crack in my spice jar. Guess it's time to make a trip to Crate + Barrel. I'll probably be frequenting the place anyways now that we'll have a full-sized kitchen to hold all the fun plates and mugs I've been dreaming of for the last couple years.
We had a mache salad with cherry tomatoes and pine nuts and a balsamic-style dressing.
I read online that mache has natural anti-stress properties. Please pass the mache!
A little fresh grated parm on top.
Dinner is served.
Where the magic happens (that's for you Megan! lol)
We had some Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat toast with real butter on the side.
A lil vino and water to go with dinner.
Round #2 - seconds.
Round #3 - dessert!
Hubby picked up a treat for us while I was at work - cupcakes!
He got two cupcakes in tiramisu and vanilla with chocolate icing, the latter being my personal fave. I managed to talk hubby into halving each cupcake so I could enjoy both flavors. They were both delish, but the vanilla with chocolate icing is still my favorite.
Welcome to my life in boxes. I've spent a couple hours every day packing stuff up for the last week or so. Thanks to those efforts, we've already moved a lot of stuff into the house.
Unfortunately, we still have a TON more to do! Where did all this STUFF come from!? I think it's time for another purge. Too bad we'll probably move in before we have the opportunity to figure out what's staying and going.
On the positive side, progress is progress and we're off to a great start!
What are your tips for moving/packing?
On Tuesday, I picked up a beautiful kohlrabi at the local farmers market. I've never cooked kohlrabi, but I figured I'd be able to make something good out of it.
The vendor who sold me the kohlrabi also gave me a couple recipes and when I saw a pasta dish, I knew pasta it was!
Rather than following the recipe, I decided to wing it. I sauteed two organic chicken breasts (boneless), seasoned with salt and pepper.
I cooked the kohlrabi in the same pot with the pasta.
Onions, garlic, white wine (a pinot grigio I bought at Trader Joe's), and brown bits from the chicken helped make my sauce, along with pasta water.
From the pasta pot to the saute pan.
I think I misjudged how much pasta this small pan would hold. Oops!
Some fresh-grated parmesan cheese on top makes pasta better.
The finished product - light and delicious.
Kohlrabi White Wine Chicken Linguine
I couldn't wait to dig into my Navitas Naturals goodie-samples they gave me...
...so I promptly cooked up a small bowl of oatmeal this AM to serve as a base for my raw chocolate nibs.
I didn't really know what to expect from the Cacao Power. Would it be chewy? Soft? Sweet? They reminded me a lot of coffee beans in texture and slightly similar in taste, but with a more mocha-y flavor. I especially liked when the almost melted into my oatmeal and became ever-so-slightly tender. I thought they made for an awesome addition to my bowl of oats and hope to come up with some more creative concoctions.
I've been feeling slightly blah yet inspired after my "down time" yesterday.
To keep the positive vibes flowing, I decided to post some inspirational quotes in my cube at work.
I posted some from yesterday's blog post and a couple new ones:
"Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity." ~Louis Pasteur
"Some give up their designs when they have almost reach the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before." ~Herodotus
After a long day including 5 hours of conference calls, I decided to head over to our local farmers market.
I ended up buying almost everything for the trip from the first table. This guy had so many lovely greens, I had a hard time deciding on what to buy.
I almost got some of this beautiful bok choy.
I did end up getting some of this fresh basil - some of the last of the season. I've got to get my basil while the getting's good!
My goodies: spinach, kohlrabi, arugula (got this 1/4 bag for free from the vendor since he didn't have a full bag's worth to sell), basil, and a chocolate chip cookie to split with hubby.
Ahh...I love going to this farmer's market. It's so nice to meet the people who grow and create the food I'm eating, plus it's nice to support our local farmers.
I came home with my freshly picked veggies AND to a box at my front door with an Organic Food Bar label.
Inside - the box of Raw Organic Food Bars in Chocolate Coconut I won on Twitter!
I wanted to dig into one of these immediately, but I knew I needed to save room for dinner (and that cookie). I probably won't be able to resist tomorrow! I love these bars!
Check out @organicfoodbar on twitter
I decided to use my freshly picked basil and spinach to make a spinach-quasi-pesto-shrimp dish.
I didn't have most of the ingredients I needed to make a "true pesto" so I just used my basil, some organic garlic, some extra virgin olive oil, and cashews. Yup...I totally forgot to buy pine nuts at the grocery store, but I did have some cashews in the freezer, so I decided they'd do. If I had just had some hard parmesan cheese, I think I could call tonight's sauce "pesto", but instead, I'll call it "quasi pesto."
Great Harvest Bread Company Honey Whole Wheat toast with real butter (Hubby picked this freshly baked loaf up today) - so fresh, so good!
Round #1 (1/2 the toast is for hubby)
Round #2 (1/2 toast for hubby encore)
Hubby and I split the cookie for dessert, and I had some skim milk to go with my half.
Check out Mr. Happy Face!
Having a hard time lately with a goal or aspiration? Remember, when you feel defeated and like quitting, go harder than you went before! Never give up! I'm going to work on a post about dealing with "down times" and feeling defeated...hopefully the things that work for me will help you out, too!
I leave you with one last inspirational quote:
“Life's real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up.” ~Unknown
Need more inspiration? Dr Weil says playing outside will help you re-gain focus! Click for article. Hmm...maybe it's time I took a nature walk?
I was supposed to have today off for a work holiday, but since my client's office was open, I decided to save my day off for a day closer to the big move.
As usual for Mondays, I was running a bit on the late side, so I just toasted up some Great Harvest Dakota bread and slapped some Barney Butter on it.
I also added a light sprinkling of chia seeds and had some Fresh Market coffee to drink.
Work was long today. I forgot I had a 5:30-6:30pm conference call till halfway through the day.
Luckily, I came prepared with leftovers from last night's dinner (I LOVE the way tofu re-heats) and the last of my Stonyfield Organic OIkos Vanilla Greek Yogurt.
I topped the yogurt with some Bear Naked Fruit + Nut Granola and added a light drizzle of honey.
During my late conference call, I grabbed a Clif Kid Zbar in Blueberry to fuel up for Zumba.
After work, I made my way to class. My friend was teaching her very first class and I HAD to be there to support her. Of course, she did an AMAZING job and everyone had so much fun!
For some reason, I wasn't very hungry after class. Maybe it was because of the protein shake I downed just after class ended? I ended up making a late dinner around 10:30 pm! (I usually try to eat before 9pm when possible - I used to have a late night snacking problem).
I pressed and got some diced tofu marinating while I showered and got comfy.
I sauteed the tofu instead of baking (shorter cooking time)
I steamed some organic broccoli in the microwave. Add cut broccoli in a bowl, add a couple tbsp water, cover, zap for 2-21/2 minutes. Donzo!
I sauteed everything together with a tad extra soy sauce...
...and served it over some Kashi 7 Grain pilaf...
...like so. It was really good and I even have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
Never Accept Defeat
I think any time you have a lot of hopes and dreams and are always working towards them, you're going to hit some low points. While I'd like to keep this blog all rainbows and sunshine, I think being real is good, too. And guys, I'm feeling a low point today. Do you ever push and push and push yourself and work so hard towards a goal (or maybe a couple goals) but always seem to be just out of reach of it (them)? Lately, I've felt a bit like I'm treading water - swimming really hard but not getting anywhere. After today, I felt...simply...defeated. I may have even cried a little.
(I know...break out the finger-sized violins now)
And while low points stink, I think they are totally necessary for balance. When you experience low points in a quest for something, when you finally get it, you appreciate it so much more. I think you learn from your failures and defeats. I think if you have the right attitude, you can learn that you grow from them. And, I think in the big picture, they are a good thing.
I found some quotes online I'd like to share in case anyone else would like some inspiration. Great quotes always refresh my will to succeed.
“Defeat should never be a source of discouragement but rather a fresh stimulus” -Robert South
“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” -Wilma Rudolph
"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." -Thomas Alva Edison
"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get back up." -Vince Lombardi
Remember that everyone falls once in awhile. You just have to be ready to pick yourself up and keep going. Get back up! Never accept defeat - no matter how small or great!
I leave you with one of my favorite success quotes:
"I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and a devotion to the things you want to see happen." -Frank Lloyd Wright
After we got back from Charleston (and hubby watched the end of the Panthers game), we headed over to the house to try to tackle the wall paper in the dining room. Actually, firstly, we stopped at Lowes to pick up a steamer to help with the job...then, we headed to the house.
Welcome to my beautiful dining room. Oh yea!
While I waited for the steamer to heat up...
...I spotted my first roommate - a yucky spider. I really hope this house doesn't have too many bugs!
If you've never taken down wallpaper before, then you have no idea just how time-consuming and slow-moving it is.
We scraped and scraped and scraped.
Upon further digging, we discovered there were THREE layers of wallpaper in our dining room.
The blue-toned wall paper appears to be the original wall paper of the house. We think the trim, baseboards, and molding used to be a pretty baby blue. I kind of want to try to restore the original colors (sans wallpaper), but I really like the paint color I picked out, so I probably won't.
I had my work/hiking boots on. These are my Timberlands from high school. For some reason, they were really popular back when I was in high school. Anywho, I put these on so hubby knew I meant business!
I wish I could give you some tips, but I'm not sure I'd call us experts. I did notice the following:
After 4 hours, we called it quits so I could cook dinner and catch Drop Dead Diva and Cold Case. We got there 15 minutes too late to catch Drop Dead Diva, so we just paused the channel (thanks DVR) and recorded Cold Case (need to watch that this week sometime!).
I thought about asking hubby if he just wanted to pick up pizza because after 4 hours of wallpaper removal, I honestly didn't feel like cooking, but I was glad I came home to prepare something.
I somehow talked hubby into letting me cook tofu for him. I made Ellie's Marinated Tofu (baked at 450 degrees F for 20-25 minutes)
I used a single pot of water to cook both the organic udon noodles and organic broccoli.
The sauce was simple with garlic and soy sauce.
I thought dinner was pretty awesome. Hubby ate all the tofu and remarked that at least it didn't "make him ralph." Nice...lol. Hey, props to hubby for eating it!
My sweet tooth was calling so I made another mini-parfait with Stonyfield Organic Oikos Greek Vanilla Yogurt with some Bear Naked Fruit + Nut Granola with a sprinkling of unsweetened coconut flakes, chia seeds, and a drizzle of honey. Yum!
Does your SO eat tofu? Does he like it? Hate it?
Ahh...back to real time posting!
With the weather getting cooler, I crave nice, hot, cozy breakfasts like oatmeal more and more!
I prefer to mix my oatmeal breakfasts with fruits and thought I didn't have any since hubby and I haven't been making it to the grocery store as much as we usually do. However, I found 3 beautiful SC apples in the fridge - I forgot I brought those back from my Farmer's Market trip with my parents this past weekend.
I used the apples to make Apple Pie Oats.
Microwaved for 2 1/2 minutes
I was hoping to work through lunch so I could leave early and swing by our house, but hubby called wanting to look at cabinets. Now, I don't know what kind of work environment you work in, but mine is very fast-paced and pretty high-stress and very demanding of my schedule. I rarely get to take lunch - sometimes because I'm too busy, but usually because I have phone conferences from 11am-2, 3, 4, or even 5 or 6pm.
Anywho, I decided to take lunch to look at cabinets w/ hubby but would you know...we got to the cabinet shop and the place was closed with no signs for lunch! We even tried calling the shop's phone # and it was disconnected! Needless to say I was super irritated. I was irked by the waste of time and also by the fact that I wouldn't be able to make the zumba class I was hoping to go to after work since I ended up taking a lunch break instead of leaving "early".
See, I've been working super hard on trying to choreograph some songs to show my zumba instructors, but none have come through till recently. I think I've finally choreographed something worthy of showing them to Shakira's Te Aviso, Te Anuncio (hot song!) and even emailed our head instructor about possibly showing her the dance after class. I was so excited to show her! And nervous.
I did notice today that my leg seemed more tender than it was yesterday. I hear you'll feel a workout more 2 days after a workout than the very next day. Not sure if that's true. Anywho, either way, it was probably a good thing I didn't make class tonight. I am hoping to go tomorrow or Friday, though!
I ended up staying late at work to make up for the time I missed at lunch and was soooo tired by the time I left. I was excited about opening my package, though.
Inside - my new Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens that hubby got me for my b-day! I can't believe I already have 4 lens for my DSLR, but hey...guess I have to start building my stash of lens if I'm going to get into freelance photography! A girl's gotta have options!
As soon as I got home, I, of course, had to take out my new toy and play with some test photographs.
The lens shot a lot like my macro lens. Actually, a little too much like it. I was hoping for something that would take more "regular" photos instead of already being so zoomed in with no option to capture more of a scene in your lens other than backing up. Oh well...I'll keep playing with it.
I take such random photos when I play with new camera stuff. Here's the inside of my jacket.
After playing a bit with my new lens, hubby and I headed to see our house. The wall in the between the kitchen and formal living room is COMPLETELY gone! I have to say, I think it looks pretty darn good in there without that wall! I can't wait to see how this project morphs and moves into its final form!
I also took a moment to plant my Bay Laurel plant. That baby should provide me all the bay leaves I'll ever need for cooking! I hope the plant likes where I put it.
After our quick trip to the house, hubby and I headed to Lowes to research cabinets. We're going to be adding lower cabinets under the new bar area separating our formal living room and kitchen, but we still need to buy them...yikes! I think we're running out of time. Anywho, we had a really friendly guy helping us and we picked out some we think we like, but I still think we should shop around a bit. I don't like accepting a first offer.
Hubby decided it would be a good idea to hit up Olive Garden whilst looking over our cabinet catalogs.
We got salad and breadsticks.
We split the Cheese Fonduta appetizer.
We also split Chicken Parmesan with Fettuccine Alfredo. I couldn't even finish my half-portion! When are more restaurants going to start offering more reasonable portions?
As if we hadn't done enough today, we also went to the grocery store with fresh-cut coupons in hand to stock up on some essentials - plastic bags, laundry detergent, tooth paste...you know...the fun stuff. We saved $10 with all our coupons, though, so I was pretty happy about that! We gotta save every cent now that we're homeowners!
We did pick up some Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chunk cookies.
PS Leaving the cookies out while you pre-heat the oven = bad idea. They get all sticky and mushy and are much harder to work with.
Oh, and the cookies...not so much for hubby and I. I'm still full from my 1/4 dinner, cheese app, and salad & breadsticks! The smell of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies isn't doing anything for me right now, which is pretty weird. Perhaps I overate more than I thought?
Anywho, these cookies are for the guys working on our house. I thought it would be nice to make them a little something and hubby thought so too. My mom has always brought treats to car repair shops, doctor offices, vet offices....anywhere she goes almost! People really like the treats and it's nice to do small gestures that brighten peoples days just a little. I hope to keep up my mom's random acts of kindness going forward. Hopefully the guys like their cookies tomorrow!