Category Archives: Rachael Ray

Yay Mavs! + More Veggies

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Happy Monday to ya!  The Mavericks won last night, in case you hadn’t heard, and if that doesn’t make your Monday a happy one, I don’t know what will.  B is watching game highlights as we speak.  :)  He is thrilled- absolutely out of his mind ecstatic.  He said he re-watched the 4th quarter again last night after I fell asleep, and something tells me he has watched it a couple more times since then.  ;)  I told ya, he is the Dallas Mavericks’ biggest fan!

The pasta and salmon from last night’s dinner were absolutely insane.  If you make one thing from this blog, make this pasta.  Do it now!

***

Mediterranean Pasta with Artichokes, Olives and Tomatoes (adapted from a recipe on Whole Living.com)

Serves 4 as a main meal, 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat or multi-grain spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion , thinly sliced, lengthwise
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup mixed olives, any variety
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes , halved lengthwise
  • 1 4-ounce container crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Directions

 

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to pot. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

 

 

Add wine and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Stir in artichokes and cook until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

 

 

 

Add the olives and half of the tomatoes.

 

 

Cook until tomatoes start to break down, 1 to 2 minutes.

 

 

 

Add pasta to skillet. Stir in remaining tomatoes, oil, cheese, and basil.

 

 

 

Thin with reserved pasta water if necessary to coat the spaghetti (I used a couple of ladles full). Serve with additional cheese.

 

With the blackened salmon that B grilled, it was absolutely perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

Glorious!  Almost as glorious as watching the Mavs win.  ;)

 

***

 

This morning I had my first Medical Terminology test and did really well.  I am loving that class so far!  Beforehand I fueled up with an oatmeal breakfast:

 

 

Old-fashioned oatmeal with a chopped peach, small spoonful of natural peanut butter, blob of Greek yogurt, drizzle of agave nectar and chia seeds.  I really heart oatmeal.  :)

 

After the test I got my sweat on and then ran errands with B.  When my belly growled for lunch, I just had to have some of last night’s leftover pasta!  To lighten it up a little, I beefed up the pasta with veggies.  I added a couple handfuls of arugula and spinach, a chopped Roma tomato, and a chopped yellow bell pepper half before heating.  After warming through, I added a pouch o’ salmon for extra protein.  The result was a satisfying, flavorful, veggie-heavy, protein-packed lunch that took less than five minutes to prepare…

 

 

I am definitely having this again tomorrow.  Yay leftovers!   :)

 

Ah, and I finally pulled together this week’s menu!

 

Monday: Tonight my sis is coming over for steak, roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes, and our favorite brussels sprouts.  I mentioned before that I haven’t been wanting to eat meat and poultry much lately, so I’m going to have a little bit of steak and add some grilled portobello mushroom slices to beef up the meal without overdoing it on the meat.  I’m really liking the idea of using meat/fish/poultry as more of a garnish in a meal rather than having a huge portion take center stage.  I’m betting that this meal is going to rock!

 

Tuesday: I can hardly wait to make Emily @ Daily Garnish‘s Mexican Quinoa with Black Beans and Avocado.  This will be my first time cooking (and eating) quinoa, and I’m very excited.  Quinoa is a complete protein, so it’s great to include in meatless meals, from what I understand.

 

Wednesday: B cooks  :D

 

Thursday: Emily @ Daily Garnish‘s Vegan and Gluten-free Broccoli Pasta Salad with a side of grilled corn on the cob.  This dish sounds so deliciously incredible to me… and I bet it’ll make great leftovers.

 

Friday: INDIAN FOOD!  I’ll be making Angela @ Oh She GlowsChanna Masala with some whole-wheat naan.  I am stupid excited about this one, because A) I LOVE spicy food, B) I LOVE Indian Food, and C) it’s another meat-free meal.  Also, naan might be my favorite bread of all time- it is so freakin’ good!  I dig it.  :)

 

Saturday: Dinner out!  B and I have talked about going to either Fadi’s or Fuzzy’s.  We’ll see how we feel when the weekend rolls around.

 

I find it interesting that where I get my recipes for the week’s meals continues to change.  I used to be a Giada devotee, then I was all about Rachael Ray mag and her Look + Cook cookbook, then I discovered Food Network magazine and fell in love, and now I’m finding renewed healthy eating inspiration from a handful of awesome vegan and vegetarian blogs.

 

Do you know of any great vegan or vegetarian cookbooks that I should check out?

 

In our quest to eat healthier, today we added two new ingredients to our pantry: quinoa and coconut oil (I need both for tomorrow’s dinner).  B and I really want to perfect a vegan cheese sauce (or cheast, as Emily calls it), because we could not get enough of the stuff when we ate at Spiral Diner, so I have nutritional yeast on my grocery list for Wednesday’s shopping trip.  I never in a million years thought that I’d be buying things like chia seeds and nutritional yeast!  Times, they are a’changin’.  Definitely in a good way.  :)

 

See ya tomorrow!

 

xo,

 

Sara

More Lard, Less Meat

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It’s… Monday, right?  Yes, right.  I started one of my two summer classes today, Medical Terminology.  So far the class looks like it’s going to be really interesting and… fun?  Maybe fun isn’t the word, but I’m excited to get back into the school swing of things.  The textbook for this course looks rad, and I know that it’ll come in handy when I take Anatomy & Physiology in the fall.  My other class is an elective and doesn’t start until July.  I’ll be taking Stress Management, and I am going to take it very seriously.  I’m your classic high-strung Type A perfectionist personality, so I’m always looking for ways to chill the heck out that don’t include the use of illegal drugs and/or shots of absinthe. ;)

After going through the first day of class thang this morning, I fixed a non-traditional breakfast that was pretty freakin’ tasty.  For some reason I was craving guacamole and black beans, so I puttered around the kitchen for a few minutes and whipped up a black bean & guac pita:

A sprouted grain pita spread with guacamole and stuffed with a slice of cheddar cheese, Roma tomato, organic black beans and jalapeno rings.  It was really good and definitely satisfied my weird bean craving.

(Who craves beans?)

After my pita baby digested I rocked Intensity (premix #6).  I seriously love that workout!  It’s hardcore but actually fun, without the dread factor that comes with many of the other HiiT workouts I’ve tried.  For the last few weeks I’ve been doing higher rep total body weight workouts, so for the next two weeks I’m going to do Cathe’s Gym Style workouts. My workout schedule looks like this:

Monday: CARDIO
Tuesday: Gym Style Chest & Triceps
Wednesday: CARDIO
Thursday: Gym Style Legs
Friday: CARDIO
Saturday: Gym Style Back, Shoulders & Biceps
Sunday: Yoga

I really enjoyed the Gym Style rotation when I did it several months ago, and I’m stoked to be bringing it back for a couple of weeks.  :D

***

Last night my mom had everyone over for dinner.  She made a Rachael Ray chicken sandwich recipe that involved pepper jack cheese and guacamole plus a side of pasta salad.  I don’t know why, but riding in a car (in other words: sitting on my ass) for 8 hours makes me hungry.  I don’t understand it, but I was ravenous when we got home, so I helped myself to some appetizers, wine, a guacamole-and-cheese smothered chicken sandwich, and a hefty serving of pasta salad.

It definitely hit the spot.  Mom also made blackberry cake (not pictured), which everyone enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  My sis and her guy took a trip down to San Antonio this weekend, and they brought us back the Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe 3-pound Cinnamon Roll.

B and I had to try some before bed, of course.  :)

Also: LARD, anyone?  Blech.

What a BEAST!

I tend to think that anything made on a ginormous scale is probably going to be lacking taste-wise (I’m a quality over quantity kind of girl, which is why I’m not a huge fan of buffets), but this cinnamon roll was incredible!  The roll part of it was light, airy and fluffy (must be the LARD), with a not-too-sweet cinnamon swirl throughout, and the thick icing was perfect.  I really enjoyed it!  With an ice-cold glass of milk, it was crazy-good.

***

How about this week’s menu?  I finally managed to pull it together.  Now that I’m back in school, things are definitely more crazy than usual.  I kind of got used to that month-long break.  ;)

Monday: Since we didn’t have the reserved Spanakopita Burgers last night (and instead opted for my mom’s delicious cooking), we had them tonight!  This time I had mine on a sprouted grain English muffin with dijon mustard and horseradish mayo…

…plus a spinach side salad topped with cucumber moons, sun dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Glorious I say!  :D

Tuesday: Oh She Glow’s Cilantro-lime Chickpea Salad with basil pesto-topped baked fish (just top a whitefish filet with store-bought pesto and bake until flaky- so easy, so good!).

Wednesday: B cooks!  :)  I think he’s going to do a chicken dish of some sort.

Thursday: M is coming over for dinner, and we will make Grilled Vegetable Paninis (using grilled portobello caps, zucchini and eggplant) with basil pesto and fresh mozzarella cheese.  For dessert, I’m making a chocolate-hazelnut fondue and M is bringing over the dippers (banana chunks, berries, pound cake bites, etc.).  I can’t wait!  There’s a Mavs game on that night, so I thought this would be something we could enjoy while watching that.  (MAN I hope we win!  There’s one on tomorrow night, too. *crosses fingers*)

Friday: Whole Living’s Mediterranean Pasta with Artichokes, Olives and Tomatoes (topped with plenty o’ Parmesan cheese, of course!).  I think this looks so good!  Plus it’s easy and requires few ingredients.

Saturday: Game night here!  Same crowd as last time, though I’m not sure what kind of snacks I want to make.  Stay tuned for that.  :D

Sunday: ??? ‘TIS A MYSTERY

B and I have both decided that we want to cut our meat intake substantially.  We both just feel better not eating it so frequently, and after pursuing some vegetarian and vegan websites for recipes, I’m really excited to start experimenting with meat-free (and often animal product-free) cooking.  I don’t think I could ever go vegan, because I adore cheese and chocolate and… steak.  I feel like I eat quite healthfully already, but it’s good to be reminded that meat/poultry/seafood doesn’t always have to take center stage in a meal.  Sometimes it’s best to use meat as more of a garnish and focus on veggies and grains, and I know from growing up with a vegetarian mom that meat-free doesn’t have to be boring and bland!  You’ll notice that our menu this week doesn’t include any red meat.  Next week I’d like to try even less poultry and maybe swap in more seafood.

Do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe that I should know about?  Do you try to limit your consumption of animal products?

We both really want to see Forks Over Knives.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you’ve seen it!

Yeah, this was the perfect way to wrap up a post that started off with me talking about how delicious a giant lard-laden cinnamon roll was.  ;)

Oooh!  I also plan on making these amazing little muffins sometime this week.  The kids love them, and so do I.  I first found this recipe when I checked out Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook from the library a few years ago, and they quickly became one of my all-time favorite muffins.  Healthy, easy, and freakin’ delicious.  (Really, they are ridiculously good- try ‘em!  You will be surprised!)

I’m off to do a little more studying and then catch the latest episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey!  I am SHAMELESS:)

Have a good night.

S.

Double Post Thursday!

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(Note: I have no idea why that wanker WordPress is cramming all my pics together like that.  Also, I really like the word WANKER.  That is all.)

What up, what up.  I got my haircut.  I can just FEEL the sigh of relief from all of you.  I know, I know.  It was a definite hairmergency.  Not only did I get it cut, I got it straightened for a day, just for fun.  Tomorrow when a single spec of moisture comes into contact with my strands, I’ll be back to crazy-curly business as usual.

Man, we’re watching The Mavs game right now and I can hardly stand it.  We’re ahead, but I know better than to get all excited about a lead in a basketball game until at least the beginning of the last quarter, unless I particularly feel like getting my heart ripped out of my chest that day, in which case I’ll get emotionally involved from the start.

Anyway!  Since I’m watching the game through one eye and the mo’, I thought I’d post the pics from tonight’s dinner.  It’s Double Post Thursday!  We made Rachael Ray’s Spanakopita Burgers, which turned out to be so damn easy and so freakin’ delish that they’ve already won themselves a spot in our Easy Dinner Hall of Fame.  Technically we don’t actually have an Easy Dinner Hall of Fame, but if we did?  These would be in the top 5.  :)

Rachael Ray’s Spanakopita Burgers

Serves 4-5 (4 large burgers or 5 medium-size ones)

Prep: 10 mins

Total time: 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (I used 1 tsp. dried)
  • 1/4 lb feta, crumbles
  • 1 1/3 lbs ground chicken or 1 1/3 lbs ground turkey breast, 1 package
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
DIRECTIONS
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add a little extra-virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. When butter melts, add the chopped garlic and chopped red onion and cook 5 minutes.
Transfer the onions and garlic to a bowl to cool.
Return pan to heat.  Squeeze all the water out of the thawed spinach.
Separate the spinach as you add it to the bowl of onions and garlic and season with the oregano.
Add in feta crumbles, chicken/turkey, grill seasoning and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Mix and form into 4 (or 5) patties, 1-inch thick.
Raise heat on pan to medium-high.  Add patties and cook 6 minutes on each side.
***
These turned out to be fan-freaking-tastic.  :D  We made 4 large burgers, so we wrapped up two of them before cooking and stuck ‘em in the freezer to enjoy on Sunday night after our long drive home from Kansas City!  We’ll just throw them on the grill, sip some wine, and relax.  Forward-thinking FTW!  ;)
For tonight’s meal I nixed the bun*, topped my burger with horseradish mayo and dijon mustard, and went with a side of leftover Vegetable and Edamame Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce plus some chopped cucumber and grape tomatoes instead.
I already can’t wait to eat this again on Sunday!  There was a LOT of spinach and feta cheese in each burger, and the sautéed red onion and garlic really came through- I just loved it.  :)
B had his burger on a multi-grain ciabatta bun with bacon ranch dressing and horseradish mayo, also with a side of the veggie pasta:
*I often talk about balancing food choices in an effort to stay trim and not get too much of any one thing.  While this doesn’t always work out perfectly for me (see last night’s FIVE mini Banoffee Pies!), I practice it often enough that I do believe it makes a difference.  Tonight, for example, I could have had both a bun on my burger and the pasta salad, but did I really need all those carbs?  Intuitively I felt like that would be a whole lotta food, so I asked myself which I would enjoy the most: the soft, chewy, thick bun wrapped around my burger or the firm-to-the-bite, avocado and basil infused, vegetable-studded pasta salad.  My gut yelled PASTA, and so I rolled with it.  Honestly, I didn’t miss the bun at all!  There are a thousand ways to work this balancing thing- I could have had an open-face burger with only one half of a bun on the bottom plus a smaller portion of the pasta, for example.  In any case, I just wanted to point out that going without the bun wasn’t some kind of deprivation thing, but more of a balancing act that I incorporate into my health-conscious diet.  :)  Just an example!
I haven’t gotten the urge for dessert yet so I have no cheesecake pictures to share.  We are now approaching the end of the Mavs game, so it’s time to pay attention!  Have a wonderful Thursday night, a glorious Friday, and a Happy Weekend.  I’ll see ya Sunday night!  :D
Tell me: what are your plans for the weekend?
WISH US LUCK IN THE CAR WITH THE KIDS FOR 251567891232314567861302 hours.
(HALP!)
xoxo,
S.

Road Trippin’ & ch-ch-ch-CHIA!

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Hello, friends!  How’s it going?  We’re gearing up for our road trip to Kansas City tomorrow morning.  Both tots got haircuts this week, but my tresses are in bad, bad shape…

So bad, in fact, that I haven’t been able to wear my hair down for a few days now- I look like some kind of dreadlocked Brillo pad .  I put on a smile and pretend that everything is ok…

But deep down, I know it’s awful.

Fortunately, I have a haircut scheduled for this afternoon.  I don’t want to meet B’s extended family for the first time with that mess on my head.  I am the WORST about getting haircuts- it’s really very ungirly of me.  I’m fanatical about everything else, like having my toes nicely painted at all times (chipped nail polish reminds me of Britney Spears walking barefoot into a gas station bathroom- remember those pics?  I know that sounds horrible, but it’s true), shaving my legs daily and staying moisturized, but I always manage to go about 18 years between haircuts.

Ah well.  Maybe someday I’ll learn.  :)

***

Last night I had dinner with M, and it was crazy-fun, as usual.  :D  We made Oh She Glows 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta, sautéed some Market Street-made lemon pepper shrimp, and served it all with a green side salad topped with crispy onions and a Tuscan Italian vinaigrette.

The shrimp

The pasta

My plate

I’ve made that pasta probably 5 times now, and it never disappoints.  The shrimp was really good, too.  Market Street’s prepared seafood and meat dishes have always been really tasty, in my experience!

For dessert, M made Mini Banoffee Pies

They were so good I wanted to cry, but instead I ate 15 5.

It’s like having eaten a regular-sized slice of pie, right?

(RIGHT.)  ;)

We sipped Cabernet Sauvignon all night, listened to music, and just caught up on life.  A lifelong best friend + wine + mini pies = a very happy me.  :)

When I got home I prepped a bowl of Carob Banana Chia Vegan Overnight Oats!  I purchased the ingredients that I didn’t already have on hand yesterday afternoon (carob powder, chia seeds and almond milk), and luckily Market Street had everything!  I hate when I have to go to 15 different stores for grocery items, and so far Market Street has always had everything I’ve ever needed.  I followed the overnight oats recipe exactly, only I left out the walnuts and drizzled the mixture with agave nectar instead of maple syrup just before eating.

The concoction came together in about three minutes and smelled really good when I put it in the fridge before bed.  It just looked like a chocolate-y soup with banana chunks.

This is my first time cooking with chia seeds, and I’m betting that the majority of you don’t have any in your pantry.  Read up on the benefits of this wonder food here, here, and here!  I’m excited to be incorporating ch-ch-ch-CHIA seeds into my life.  :)

This morning I pulled the bowl from the fridge with slight nervousness, but when I pulled back the plastic wrap I was greeted with a thick, creamy bowl of chocolate-banana oatmeal goodness.

The chia seeds turn gelatinous when mixed with liquid, so they gave the oats an almost pudding-like consistency.  The ripe banana added a nice textural component and slight sweetness, and a drizzle of agave nectar on top was the perfect touch.  Next time I might add some walnuts for a little crunch, but otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing!  I will definitely add Vegan Overnight Oats to my regular breakfast rotation.  I also have stuff to make Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Vegan Overnight Oats, so stay tuned for that!

I’m becoming more and more interested in working superfoods into my diet.  Now that I’ve added chia seeds, I want to learn more about goji berries and cacao nibs.  B and I have also been talking about making vegan cheese sauce and experimenting with things like nutritional yeast in our cooking adventures.  We’re definitely going to hit up the Spiral Diner again before the summer is over!  Remember that “Meat”ball Sub that B had the last time we went?

Mmm, cheesy…

***

Can you believe it’s already June?  June is…

National Home Safety Month

June 1-7 is National Headache Awareness Month

Yesterday was Stand for Children Day

June 4 is National Trails Day

June 5 is World Environment Day and National Cancer Survivors Day

June 12 is National Children’s Day

June 13-19 is National Men’s Health Week

June 14 is World Blood Donor Day

and June 27 is National HIV Testing Day

Am I forgetting anything?  :)

I’m off to pump some iron, do some more packing, and get that mop on my head snipped into shape.  I’m betting that I won’t have access to a computer until Sunday night, but I’ll be back then with a wedding and road trip recap.   :)  Tonight we’re making Rachael Ray’s Spanakopita Burgers, and I’m very excited.  If I have time later I will post up the pics, along with some shots of the leftover mini chocolate-cappuccino cheesecake my sister made that I plan on devouring.

Also?

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Mavericks!

(Really.  Come on, guys!)

Have a good Thursday!

xo,

Sara

Wednesday

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G’mornin’!  I’ve got the Rachael Ray show on in the background and find myself alternately annoyed and engaged.  There is a certain cheese factor to her show that makes my skin crawl, but y’all know that I am a fan of Rachael’s food attitude and recipes, so I’ve been half-watching it most mornings this week. Maybe I should just stick with her magazine:)

Last night my sis came over for dinner.  B grilled some Baja Citrus marinated chicken breasts, and I made Oh She Glows Vegetable and Edamame Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce.  It was good.

Like, really good.  :D

B and I have decided that we want to become more sophisticated wine drinkers (instead of just plain ol’ cheap drunks), so we sought out an inexpensive bottle of wine that would compliment our dinner.  Up until now we’ve been strictly red wine consumers, but I’m really interested in learning about the different grapes and flavors of all wine, and since tonight’s meal was a lighter, vegetable-heavy pasta salad and grilled chicken, we rolled with white.  It was actually really, really good!

We didn’t open the bottle until it was time to start cooking, and I think that is my preferred way to drink wine- in the kitchen while preparing a yummy meal.  Drinking while cooking kind of forces me to slow down, because I get caught up with other things and almost forget about my glass of wine.  Then when I do take a sip, I tend to pay more attention to the way the wine smells and to the different components of its unique flavor.  I found this Chardonnay to be really refreshing, dry, crisp and fruity, though I’m not sure that those are even proper descriptive wine terms.  Hey, I’m learning!  In any case, I’m glad we decided to branch out and explore new wines.  It might be a hobby in the making.  ;)

Ok!  Right, dinner…

The chicken was easy- just mix the marinade, pour over the chicken, and grill when ready.  In the future I’d like to experiment with making my own marinade (I know it can’t be hard), but in the meantime, store-bought packets will do.

The Vegetable and Edamame Pasta with ridiculously easy as well.

Basically, you saute some onion and garlic in olive oil…

Add in chopped zucchini, bell pepper, and a cup of frozen shelled edamame…

And then make a simple basil “cream” sauce while the veggies cook using fresh basil leaves…

Freshly squeezed lemon juice…

And ripe avocado, plus a little water, olive oil, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.

Spin it until smooth in a food processor or blender (I always use my mini-food processor, which works nicely)…

This is a vegan recipe, and you would not believe how well the avocado stands in for the cream, butter and milk that would otherwise be involved in any kind of cream sauce.  Avocados are incredibly good for you- loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fat- and their rich, buttery consistency is ideal for pasta dishes.  Once I tried Angela’s 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta, I was hooked.

While you make the sauce, get some salted water boiling and cook your favorite pasta to your liking (I like mine al dente).  Add some roughly chopped tomatoes to the veggie mixture…

…and cook about five minutes more.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained and the veggies are tender, combine everything together with the basil cream sauce and mix well.

GA-lorious!  Lots of different textures going on- I especially loved the slight crunch from the edamame.  And all those colors!  :D

It was the perfect summer dinner.  I enjoyed the above plate with some more chilled Chardonnay, which really did compliment the flavors in the meal nicely.  I guess there is something to this food and wine pairing thing, after all.  ;)

My sister brought dessert as usual, and this time it was chocolate-and-peanut covered frozen bananas from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

(!!!)

It was incredible tasty- I LOVE frozen bananas!  These things were massive.  I ate about half and then wrapped the rest up for another day.  Now that I’m on this crazy breakfast kick, I can’t help but wonder how it would taste chopped up and stirred into hot oatmeal.  :)  I bet it would be freaking awesome.

Speaking of oatmeal, this morning’s breakfast was definitely note-worthy.  I got (somewhat) creative and invented what will now be known as Peach & Maple Cream Oatmeal.  :D  Took less than 10 minutes and was sooooo good.

First I cooked a serving of old-fashioned oats on the stove top…


…which only took about five minutes.  Then I mixed in a small, ripe, chopped peach:

I topped the peachy oatmeal with some of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter (which is absolutely divine- I LOVE THIS STUFF)…

+ a drizzle of agave nectar…

+ a spoonful of Greek yogurt.  The result was a thick, fruity, creamy, slightly sweet, hot bowl of healthy deliciousness!

This is definitely going into my regular breakfast rotation.  I loved it.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner breakfast :D

I’m off to do some cardio, shower, run to Market Street to pick up some stuff for tonight’s girl’s dinner with M (yay!) and then take my oldest tot to get a much-needed haircut.  Have a great Wednesday!!!

See ya tomorrow.

xo,

S.

Long Weekend

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Hellooooooooooooo!  How are you?  I always ask that at the beginning of my posts, and y’all never answer.  ;)  This weekend has been a lot of fun so far.  Friday night we cooked a thank-you dinner for my Mom and her husband to show how much we appreciated them caring for the kids for an entire week while we were off getting drunk vacationing in Washington.  We set out some smoked gouda, assorted crackers, mixed olives, and roasted peanuts for everyone to snack on while we cooked, and of course there was more red wine involved.  (You may have noticed that our wine consumption has remained quite high since school ended.  I start summer classes a week from Monday, and I’m going to enjoy this last week of time off, dammit!)  For dinner we made Portobello Medallions au Poivre, B marinated and grilled a couple of steaks, my favorite cheddar cheese risotto was the side dish, and we also pulled together a salad of mixed greens, red onion, avocado, and a few choices of dressing (blue cheese, ranch, or balsamic vinaigrette- I rolled with blue cheese on mine).  I strongly urge you to go make the sauce from the Portobello Medallions recipe- it would be incredible on steak or chicken, spooned over baby yellow potatoes, or scooped up with a good, crusty roll.  It is ADDICTING.

B’s steaks, pre-grill.  (He marinated them in his secret family recipe sauce.  TOP SECRET!)

The men ate the steaks, and my mom (who is a vegetarian) and I enjoyed the ‘shroom medallions.  I’ve made this recipe once before, and it is extremely easy to prepare but really, really tasty.

Portobello Medallions au Poivre by Rachael Ray

4 servings
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 large portobello mushroom caps (about 2 pounds total), stemmed and gills scraped out (I couldn’t find whole caps at the store, so I got pre-sliced portobello strips, which worked fine)
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cognac or brandy (I used cooking sherry, which turned out to be really good in the sauce!  If you have cognac or brandy on hand, use it.  Otherwise save yourself some cash and use cooking sherry- just taste before adding additional salt to the sauce, since cooking wines often contain extra salt.)
  • 1 tablespoon brine-packed green peppercorns, drained (I used these the last time I made this recipe but couldn’t find them at the store this week, and the sauce was just as good without them.)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard

Directions

In a large, resealable plastic bag, combine the flour and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. In an extra-large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Rinse half of the mushrooms quickly and shake in the bag of seasoned flour, then add to the pan and cook, turning once or twice, until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and 3 tablespoons olive oil.

Add the scallions to the pan, lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Carefully pour in the cognac, simmer until nearly evaporated, then stir in the peppercorns, bouillon base and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, then stir in the cream and mustard.

Return the mushrooms to the pan and simmer, turning the mushrooms occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the mushrooms to serving plates and continue to simmer the sauce until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the mushrooms.

Oooooh yeah.  Nice and thick!  This sauce is so good, I could have just grabbed a spoon and had that for dinner by itself.  It has a nice, rich flavor to it and I love the addition of the cooking sherry- it is the perfect cream sauce.  I had a heaping serving of the mushrooms smothered in it…

I think that this would be an excellent dish to serve to someone that thinks meat always has to be involved at dinner.  It is rich, meaty, hearty, flavorful and filling comfort food and 100% vegetarian.  :D

The risotto rocked as usual…

Risotto is also an easy yet impressive dish to prepare.  It takes a bit of babysitting (just lots of stirring so the rice doesn’t stick and occasionally adding hot broth in small quantities as it is absorbed), but it magically transforms from boring old rice into creamy, ridiculously rich, elegant side dish in less than 30 minutes.  The addition of shredded sharp cheddar cheese stirred in just before serving makes this one of my favorite comfort foods of all time.

Action shot!

And then there was the salad…

Glorious.  This meal was not a very balanced one, but it sure was delicious.  :)  My mom and her husband loved it, too.  I had a bite of B’s steak and he dominated the grill as usual.

***

Yesterday was me and B’s 1-year anniversary.  Actually, it was the 1-year anniversary of our very first date.  :D  Because B is the most amazing man on the planet, he made reservations at the same restaurant we went to on our first date, Café Malaga (it is now one of our favorite restaurants of all time!).  He managed to get us the exact same table that we sat at a year ago.  It was incredibly sweet.  *swoon*

Café Malaga is located in an old restored house in the historic downtown square of McKinney.  It is really pretty, and it’s always packed when we go there.  They have a beautiful outdoor patio and live music on the weekends.  Everyone was having a good ol’ time:

We sat inside at our little table of love for 2.  ;)

B started with their house-made sangria (he LOVES it!)…

And I went with a glass of Malbec…

Then it was the fun part- time to order!  I love dining tapas-style, where you get to taste everything.  It’s great for sharing, is kind of romantic, and allows you to try just a bite or two of many different amazing dishes.  I personally think ordering tapas is a great way to eat intuitively and mindfully, since getting only a couple bites of each item makes you pay attention to how the food looks, smells, and tastes.  It makes you want to really savor your food.  Plus, you eat more slowly, which gives you the opportunity to stop before you get too full.  If we lived closer to Cafe Malaga we would probably eat there every week- the food and atmosphere are awesome.  Check out the menu!

We ordered six different things:

Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, which came with a delightful balsamic and chive oil.

The Malaga Croquettes, which are little nuggets made with bacon, chicken and chorizo wrapped in a soft béchamel and panko bread crumbs.  SO DAMN GOOD.  They came with two different creamy sauces for dipping…

Next, we got the cheese fondue, which was a blend of manchego, brie, English cheddar, mozzarella and cream cheese…

And it came with FRIED PITA for dipping, which is now one of my favorite things in the whole world.

B especially liked the fondue…

Heh.  :)

We also got something called Don Piquillo- red piquillo peppers stuffed with a slow-cooked beef bolognaise and served in a creamy manchego sauce.

As you may have guessed, it was amazing.  Seriously, seriously good.

We had to get an order of the bacon-wrapped dates, because we got them last time and had been fantasizing about them ever since (in the most creepy way possible, of course):

We finished the meal with the chilled Tiger Shrimp Gomera, which was a plump, fresh shrimp atop avocado mole and a spicy Spanish relish…

Ridiculous.  (In a good way!)  :)

It was an amazing meal!  A great way to celebrate our first year together, for sure.  After dinner B took me to The Wine Therapist, where an awesome wine-fanatic friend of his works.  We sampled different reds, probably laughed a little too loudly, took blurry pictures and nibbled on crackers and a wedge of manchego cheese.

It was a good time.  :D

***

This morning I rocked some yoga and it felt incredible.  A good power yoga workout does wonders to relieve stress and tension for me, and doing it once each week really keeps me flexible!  I can’t imagine life without yoga.  Tonight we’re having game night here with my sis, her man, and B’s brother and his fiancé.  I’m ridiculously excited, because I loooooooooove games.  I put together a game-friendly menu of snacks: guacamole with tortilla chips, hummus and pita chips, Fritos to go with B’s famous homemade Onion Dip (ok, it’s really Alton Brown’s recipe- and it’s INSANELY good!  We’ve had onion haters rave about this dip!), four kinds of cheese (herbed goat cheese, manchego, smoked gouda, and dill havarti), an assortment of crackers, I whipped up some spiced mixed nuts (this recipe ROCKS, especially if you like sweet and spicy), a veggie tray, and I made the Pioneer Woman’s Hot Artichoke Dip (which is sitting in the fridge as we speak, ready to be baked and devoured!).  I think that’s a pretty killer spread and I’m hoping that everyone else enjoys it, too.

Hope your Sunday is a great one!  Any big plans for Memorial Day tomorrow?  We’re all going for an early dinner at my Gram’s house.  :)

xo,

Sara

Back to Reality

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Hey hey hey, how’s it goin’?  It’s… Wednesday?  Yes!  Wednesday.  Back to the real world here at FFLL HQ, back to reality.  I honestly feel like I’ve been home for days.  It’s funny how yesterday I was kind of smacked in the face with Mommy duties and piles of dirty laundry and a big stack of bills waiting for me on the counter, yet today just feels like another day.  Which is a good thing, really.  I have a week and a half before summer classes start, so I can sip my morning coffee as slooooowly as I’d like to, screw around on the computer for a couple of hours in my pajamas, take my time working out, and spend 198 hours roaming Market Street doing the grocery shopping, just like I did today.  Normally B comes with me to do the grocery shopping (because he is just plain awesome sauce) and we’re usually under some kind of time crunch, so I try to have the grocery list organized according to department and we’re in and out within 30(ish) minutes.  Today, however, B had some work to do on his Honda, so I took my sweet time and perused places I’d never been (hello Market Street gift department!), read the labels on some random items of interest, and even went and put some stuff back in its proper place on the shelf when I decided I didn’t want it.  Um, you know, rather than just quickly stuff it into whatever bin happens to be at cart level at that moment.  Don’t try and tell me you’ve never wedged a loaf of bread in between the aisle’s end display of crunchy peanut butter.  We’re all guilty, GUILTY I SAY!

Ahem.  Anyway, it has been a nice, relaxing day.  I started things off with a hefty dose of black coffee while catching up on some of my favorite blogs, then rocked Intensity (premix #6, step plus low-impact HiiT).  After a shower, I feasted on one of my favorite breakfasts in the whole world…

Mango chunks, Greek yogurt, crunchy almond butter and agave nectar.  Super simple and so, sooo good.

Oh, and I, uh… took a bicep pic for you.  Oh, well, YOU’RE WELCOME!  I wanted to try to capture the beefed up post-vacation muscle action.

So there ya go.  ;)

After that it was shopping time, where I somehow managed to spend less than I had anticipated.  (I’m telling you, it has been a good day!)  Speaking of groceries, here is this week’s menu:

Wednesday: Baked pesto-topped tilapia filets, roasted Brussels sprouts, and zucchini fries.  B and I tag-teamed it, and it turned out to be an easy, healthy, and incredibly satisfying meal!

(Naturally the pre-oven fish pic I took wouldn’t upload.  NATCH.)

Anyway, along with a little creamy horseradish sauce for dipping, this meal could not have been better.  :D

Glooooooooorious!

Thursday: Food Network’s Turkey-Vegetable Parmesan plus a spinach side salad (this looks so good and I’ve never really cooked with turkey cutlets before)

Friday: As a thank-you to my Mom and her husband for taking care of the boys for a week while we were on vacation, B and I are going to cook dinner for them.  The menu is steak for the manly men, Portobello Medallions au Poivre for the ladies (I made this back in February and it was sensational!), my favorite cheddar cheese risotto, and spinach salad.  I’m looking forward to it!

Saturday: Saturday is me and B’s 1-year anniversary.  *swoon*  He has something up his sleeve and won’t tell me what our plans are, but I’ll be happy no matter what we do, as long as we’re together.  I can’t tell you what an incredible year this has been for me, and B has been a major part of that.  I’m hoping that it’s the first of many, many happy years together.

Sunday: Game night with my sis and her man, T!  We’re going to find some fun finger foods to prep beforehand, and with a little wine and some board games, it should make for an awesome night.  :D  I love games!  In the most dorky way possible, of course.  ;)

Monday: Leftover Turkey-Vegetable Parmesan paninis!  Don’t you think that sounds amazing?  The tender turkey cutlets smothered in eggplant, zucchini, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, all piled on a garlic and basil pesto-rubbed multi-grain ciabatta bun, buttered, and then pressed to golden perfection.  Um, I think SO.

***

After the shopping and some tot-wrangling, B and I toasted to National Wine Day with some Cabernet Sauvignon, along with some of the oysters that he shucked in Sequim.  My Uncle smoked them for us and packed them in olive oil, and they were sooooooo good.  To quote B, “If I saw something like this in a toilet I’d flush it, but man, these things are good!”  Ah, I quite agree.  They have a nice, rich, smoky flavor, unlike the oogey raw ones you might order at a mediocre seafood restaurant.

Do you like oysters?  If so, how do you eat ‘em? 

The Mavs are playing right now and it’s pretty intense!  I’m off to say hello to Ben & Jerry and snuggle up with B.  Have a good night!

See ya later,

S.

Summertime Slackin’

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Dude.  I haven’t even been able to really wrap my head around the fact that school is OUT.  Not only that, but I rocked all my classes, and I leave for an amazing vacation in less than six days.  I still have that looming what projects do you need to work on? feeling going on, but I’m sure that will subside within another day or so.  B has his last exam tomorrow, and I can’t wait to watch him walk across the stage this Saturday to accept his well deserved degree.  I’ve been a smidge more relaxed about my wine drinking since wrapping the semester up yesterday, but OH FREAKING WELL.  It’s the summer, yo, and I’m gonna celebrateYeah?  Can I get a HELL YEAH?  *cups hand to ear*  I CAN’T HEAR YOU!  *cups hand to ear, pours another glass of red*  Fine.  Suit yourselves.  ;)

Dinner last night was delish.  I made Angela’s AMAZING 15-minute Creamy Avocado Pasta (if you haven’t made this yet and you like avocado even a teeny tiny bit, give this a whirl and I will personally come to your house and cook for you if you don’t like it- seriously, it is simply amazing!), citrus-marinated baked chicken (marinade from a packet, because I am an amazing chef du jour), and roasted brussels sprouts (cooked Barefoot Contessa-style, because there truly is no other proper way to prepare brussels sprouts)…

See that little bit of lemon zest there atop the pasta?  Gah, I love stuff like that.  It just makes a meal special.  :)  I’m kind of a nut, but you totally knew that already, so no news flash here.  Sometimes the best meals are the most simple ones- the put it in the oven and forget about it baked chicken, the toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until browned to your liking brussels sprouts, and the done in 15 minutes from start to finish pasta- you really can’t beat it. 

Ok, I take that back.  Tonight B made homemade fish & chips, and it was probably the best meal I’ve had in a long time.

I know!  I know!  I say that all the time!  Look, I am kind of a food loon.  I love looking through food magazines and cookbooks in the same manner that a 13-year-old boy looks through his dad’s Playboy, I enjoy shopping for fresh ingredients, I love hosting dinner parties, cooking has some crazy kind of therapeutic effect on me, and I absolutely love to EAT.  I look forward to my meals, and I put a lot of thought and effort into them.  When I say something is good, I definitely mean it.  Last night’s dinner rocked!  But tonight?  Tonight B’s fish & chips completely blew me away.  The “chips” were brown and crispy on the outside yet soft and tender on the inside, and the fish was perfectly moist and flaky on the inside with a crispy, crunchy, spectacularly seasoned golden crust on the outside.  Not only that, but I totally could have done shots of the simple mayonnaise-dijon mustard-lemon juice sauce that accompanied the fish.  B did everything, and I know they often say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but what about us chicks?  I’m pretty sure that the way to my heart is also through my stomach, and B is never getting rid of me now.  No way.  Not a chance;)

He adapted the recipe from Rachael Ray’s Fish & Chips recipe, page 94 of her latest magazine issue.

Panko breadcrumbs, ready for toasting…

Fresh tilapia filets…

Sweet potato “chips”, before…

…and after

A simple mayonnaise, dijon mustard, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper tartar sauce…

Toasted breadcrumbs!

Dredged and ready for baking…

Ready to eat! 

My plate:

Yeah, this meal was ridiculous.  I’m a lucky girl.  :)

Today, my first school-free day in what seems like forever, was spent working out (kickboxing!), having lunch with a good friend, giving myself a pedicure, drinking wine, celebrating B’s mom’s birthday, and eating this amazing dinner that he prepared.  I think it’s gonna be a really good summer.  :)  Tomorrow is B’s very last exam, so tomorrow night we’re having some family and friends over for drinks, steak, mushroom and onion paninis, and board games.  Yeah, I always think that board games sound lame, but they’re really fun!  My favorites include Apples to Apples, Tripoly, and Cranium.  I may be a total dork, but I know how to have fun, dammit!  Wine + board games = a damn good time.  :)

Until tomorrow!

xo,

Sara

Good Grades and a Pita Baby

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Well.  Three finals done, one more to go.  And it looks like I pulled off an A all-around in chemistry!  I managed to score an A on my final exam, which honestly really surprised me, because I missed the review session due to being in the hospital and didn’t study much on my own because of those smokin’ hot Dallas Mavericks.  :)  I did work hard this semester, and I’m so glad that things are finally wrapping up.  Unless I bomb tomorrow’s final, I’ll be finishing strong and getting As in all four classes.  :D  B has done well in his classes, too, and he will proudly walk the stage this Saturday to accept a well-deserved accounting degree.  I’m so excited for him! 

***

Mother’s Day was a lot of fun.  I did some yoga and just kind of lazed about for the first part of the day, and enjoyed some leftover Indian-style sweet potato salad, sautéed squash and a poached egg topped with hummus for lunch.  I’m obsessed with softly poaching an egg and slathering it in hummus, I tell ya.  It is my new favorite thang and I can’t get enough! 

I love when leftovers come together to create a delicious and easy meal!

Yesterday afternoon we trucked it to my sweet Gram’s house.  The entire family got sucked into the Mavs game, and it was awesome to see such an incredible sweep.  Jason Terry is my favorite player, not only for his mad ballin’ skills, but because of those damn socks that he pulls up to his knees.  For some reason that makes me like him more.  :)  We decided to keep the family shindig relatively hassle-free, so instead of sitting down to any kind of formal meal, we all just brought some kind of snack over to my Gram’s house, and we all drank wine and nibbled while hanging out and watching the game.  It was a lot of fun! 

My mom surprised me with Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants, which I wasn’t expecting at all.  (Thanks, Mom!)

My boys made me a key chain out of a domino!  I could not love it more!  It looks kind of vintage-y, which is awesome.  Best Mother’s Day gift ever… :D

So, so sweet.  They were really excited to give it to me, too, which is the cutest thing in the world.

***

For dinner last night, B and I made Chicken Tikka Paninis.  They were amazing.  We used our usual multigrain ciabatta rolls (toasted and garlic-rubbed, of course):

Topped them with mango chutney and yogurt sauce…

A giant handful of spinach…

And the gloriously tender and flavorful leftover Chicken Tikka from Friday night…

ANYTHING can be made into a panini.  Anything!  It is definitely my favorite way to use leftovers, if you haven’t noticed.  ;)

Good grief, this was so damn good.

***

Today was the first day that I didn’t have to wake up early and drive to campus.  We got to take our time in the morning, and after I dropped the tots at daycare I studied briefly and took my next to last exam.  Afterward I was in the mood for a butt-kicking cardio workout, so I opted for the step and low-impact HiiT premix from Intensity (premix #6).  I was sweating buckets and beet red in the face when it was over, and it felt great.  I’m really looking forward to starting STS at the end of the month!  Besides STS, I have two other workouts that are still in their wrappers: Low-impact Circuit and Body Max2.  I just didn’t have time during the end of this crazy-busy semester to watch these through so that I could actually do them.  I’ll have all the time in the world later this week and for the next few months!  :D

***

After my workout and a shower I was craving another poached egg- I know!  I know!  I really can’t get enough!  I decided to roll with a big salad that consisted of spinach, baby carrots, snap peas, sweet yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced green onion, chickpeas, a runny poached egg, roasted pine nut hummus and balsamic vinaigrette.

I love chickpeas.  So, so much.  This was the best salad I’ve thrown together in a long time.

***

Dinner tonight was something… what’s the word… epic?  Incredible?  Gloooooorious?  I need to expand my vocabulary, obv.  :)

We made “Steak ‘Em Up Pitas” from page 129 of Rachael Ray’s newest magazine issue, and they were so good that I wanted to cry.

Really.

We modified the recipe slightly and scaled it down for two.  We used:

  • Oat bran pitas
  • two 5-ounce (before cooking) filet mignon
  • baby spinach
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 T. mayonnaise
  • 4 T. prepared horseradish sauce (the recipe calls for 2 T. horseradish, drained, but we accidentally bought horseradish sauce.  So, I doubled the amount of this stuff to pack extra horseradish flavor)
  • 1/4 c. Greek yogurt (we used nonfat because that’s all I could find)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil

 

Slice the onion into rounds, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat and grill the onions until golden, around 10 minutes.

Remove to a plate or bowl and set aside.  In a small bowl, mix together the horseradish, mayonnaise, garlic, and Greek yogurt. 

Set aside.  Pat the filet mignon dry, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over a medium to medium-high flame until done to your liking- we like our steaks RARE.  :D 

Remove to a cutting board and let rest for five minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the pitas in the grill pan until warm (not crispy!).

Remove from heat and slice the top third off the top of the each pita.  Slice the filet mignon into thin strips.

Spread some of the horseradish-mayo on the inside of the pita pockets.  Stuff with the grilled onions, baby spinach, and sliced steak.  Top with more spinach, onions and a dollop of the horseradish-mayo.  Run to the table, because you can’t wait to dig into this bad Johnny…

OH MAH GAH are you kidding me?  Take a bite already!

If this meal sounds good to you, I promise it is even better than you could ever imagine: the soft, warm pita bread filled with sweet caramelized onions, the creamy tang and kick of heat from the horseradish-mayo, a slight crunch and burst of bright color from the spinach, and the tender, juicy, bacon-infused strips of steak… my GAWD, people.  This was simply amazing.  And easy.  And quick!  B and I both left the table smiling big goofy smiles from total and complete dinner satisfaction.  :D

***

We leave for Sequim, WA a week from tomorrow!  I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am.  We leave the 17th and come back the 23rd, and it is going to be the best vacation ever.  I can’t wait to see my Aunt and Uncle, to run in the snow-topped mountains of Sequim, to just relax and unwind and spend lots of time outdoors, to sleep in and linger over meals and not really have to worry about much else.  I’m really excited about vacation blogging, too!  I’m already making a mental list of the things I need to bring, and at the forefront of my exercise-obsessed mind are my Nike running shoes, my Travel Fit dvd and resistance band.  Back in my dieting days when I exercised for no other reason than to burn calories, a vacation away from my normal workout gear would send me into a fit of panic.  I’m so glad that isn’t the case anymore!  I really look at traveling as a chance to try new things, and I’m definitely going to take advantage of the cool outdoor temperatures of Washington and the breath-taking scenery.  I’m especially excited about getting outside and just letting my feet take me away.  I don’t usually run much anymore, but running in Texas and running in the gorgeous hills of green, cool, mountainous Sequim are definitely not the same thing.  That plus my Travel Fit dvd, some power yoga, hiking and whatever else we get into will definitely keep me moving.  I am STOKED.  :)

I’m going to go digest my pita baby and relax with my new book.  Have a fantastic night! 

xooxxoo,

Sara

The Light at the End of the (chemistry) Tunnel…

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Hi there!  How’s it going?  I’ve really missed blogging in the last week.  BUT!  The good news is that CHEMISTRY IS OVER.  :D  Also?  :D :D :D :D :D  My final exam was yesterday afternoon, and though I didn’t study nearly as much as I probably should have (because I was distracted by the incredibly intense Mavs game the night before) (also: boo for cumulative tests!), I feel like I did ok.  Final grades have already been posted up for chem lab, and somehow… somehow… I was one out of only three people who pulled off an A.  I must have slipped the professor a couple hundred-dollar bills at the start of the class, because chemistry- no, science in general- has never been my thang.  I’m just glad it’s over, and I’m even more glad that the feelings of self-doubt that have haunted me for much of my life- those skeptical, negative little voices that kept me from getting my degree earlier- are being squashed more and more with every class that I dominate.  It’s a damn good feeling.  :)

Anyway, summertime is coming fast, and I plan on spending a lot of my free time writing and giving this blog a bit of an overhaul.  :D  It’ll be glorious when my to-do list consists of: drink coffee, work out, blog.  I need a nice little break.

I’m happy to have my desire to cook back, along with my appetite.  No calls from the lab regarding the culture they did earlier in the week, but I’m feeling 100% normal today, thank goodness.  No news is good news, I freaking guess, even though I think that doctors should call you no matter what they find out, good or bad.  A brief, “Hi, this is Nancy from the lab.  Just calling to let you know that your test results came back normal” goes a long way, I think.  I hate waiting.

Back to food!  :D  Thursday night I hosted a girl’s dinner here.  The menu was light, meat-free and simple, but really delicious.

Grilled veggie salad with balsamic (my friend C made this, and it was incredible!), plus garlic bread in the background that my girl R brought.  (Shout out to R for bringing me some awesome wine as a hostess gift!  I drank some yesterday and really liked it.)

Angel hair pasta topped with this spicy tomato-zucchini sauce, red pepper flakes and grated parmesan cheese.  It was really easy to make and quite tasty, though next time I will quadruple the amount of red pepper flakes in the recipe, because it wasn’t very spicy at all.   (I love spicy!)

C also brought some lemon squares, which she glammed up with fresh blueberries.  (SO FLIPPIN’ GOOD.)

I love lemon anything.

Oh YES.  ;)

Friday during the Mavs game, B and I drank wine and made Rachael Ray’s Chicken Tikka with Indian-style Sweet Potato Salad.  Holy yum

(GO MAKE IT NOW!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (half of a small bunch) chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 6 tbsp. fruit chutney, such as mango
  • 3 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs.), each sliced lengthwise into 8 wedges

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, cilantro and scallions; season with salt and pepper. Measure out 1 cup and transfer to a small serving bowl; refrigerate. Measure out 1/4 cup of the mixture, transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; add to the large bowl with the remaining yogurt mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate for about 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, stir 2 tbsp. chutney, 1 tbsp. EVOO and the mustard into the medium bowl of yogurt mixture.

 
(Be sure to use a kiddie spoon.)
 
Preheat a large grill pan over medium heat. Toss the sweet potatoes on a plate with the remaining 2 tbsp. EVOO; season with salt and pepper.
 
 
Arrange on the grill pan and cook, turning once, until lightly charred, 10 to 15 minutes; transfer to a plate. Let cool before cutting into bite-size pieces; toss with the yogurt chutney.
 
 
 
 
Oil the grill pan and cook the chicken over medium to medium-high heat, turning once, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
 
 
Serve with the remaining 4 tbsp. chutney, the refrigerated yogurt sauce and the sweet potato salad, topped with the cilantro leaves.
 

This chicken rocked my face off!  It was so ridiculously tender from the yogurt marinade that it practically fell apart, and the contrast of slightly sweet and spicy from the chutney with the cool, onion-y richness of the yogurt sauce made for an incredible combination.

The sweet potato salad was really good, too.  Tip: cut all your sweet potato strips to equal thickness to ensure even cooking (we had a few crunchy bits, but I didn’t mind!).  The chutney glaze on the sweet potato chunks was surprisingly delicious.  I had some leftovers today for lunch!

Aaaaaaaaaaaand, we are going to make paninis using the leftover chicken tikka tonight.  :)  A little yogurt sauce, a dollop of mango chutney, and a handful of spinach on some ciabatta bread along with the tender, yogurt-marinated chicken is going to be EPIC.  I can feel it!

Last night B and I joined some good friends for an arena football game, where we enjoyed some severely over-priced wine and game food for dinner.

I opted for the grilled chicken sandwich basket, which I slathered with mayonnaise, mustard and jalapenos, and B went with the chicken tenders basket.  Both came with (man I hate to say this) some of the best french fries I have ever had.  (!)

Definitely could have been worse.  ;)

***

Have you heard the news?  Cathe is filming an entire series of dvds as we speak that are all about delivering a high-intensity, ass-kicking workout but with very low impact.  My joints are jumping for joy!  There are 10 new workouts total, which you can preorder now.  Check out the line-up:

Afterburn (low-impact HiiT cardio)

Cardio Supersets

Athletic Training (a bootcamp-style low-impact circuit workout)

Slide and Glide (soooo stoked about this one!  A low-impact cardio workout followed by total body strength training, using nothing but slide discs.)

Low-impact Challenge (step cardio)

Turbo Barre (stretch/strength workout inspired by pilates, yoga, and ballet- unlike anything I’ve ever done before, so I’m really excited to try this!)

Total Body Trisets (total body weight workout)

Yoga Max/Yoga Relax (two yoga workouts- one a more intense strength-focused routine, the other a more soothing, quiet workout that focuses on relaxation and flexibility)

Cycle Max (an indoor cycle cardio workout)

You can preorder the series with or without Cycle Max.  You know I preordered right away!  I’m addicted!  I went with the 9-workout set, since I don’t own an indoor spin bike…. yet.  ;)  Since each dvd will probably cost around $22 once they are released individually, the preorder price of $90 for 9 workouts is a freakin’ steal ($100 if you want the cycle workout).  You also get a pair of Cathe’s slide & glide discs with your preorder.  I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited.  It’s a sickness, really.  I truly, really, whole-heartedly enjoy working out, and I can’t wait to incorporate these rad-sounding workouts into my routine.

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I have a Mother’s Day celebration at my Gram’s to go to this afternoon, so I’ll leave you with this week’s menu.  :D

Sunday: Leftover Chicken Tikka paninis!

Monday: Rachael Ray’s “Steak ‘Em Up Pitas” (man, these look so good… filet mignon and grilled sweet onion-stuffed pitas with a tangy horseradish sauce- OH MY GAWD YES.  Page 129 of her latest mag issue!) 

Tuesday: Citrus-marinated grilled chicken, roasted brussels sprouts, and Angela’s INCREDIBLE 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta (I made this last week and really want B to try it.  He loves avocado!)

Wednesday: B cooks  (He’s going to make Fish & Chips from RR’s newest mag issue, page 94.  YUM!)

Thursday: Steak, Mushroom & Horseradish paninis using the leftover steak and horseradish sauce from Monday’s dinner  :D

Friday: Graduation dinner with B’s fam- B and his brother both graduate this weekend! 

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Ok, I’m out.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely ladies out there!  I hope your day is a great one and that you’re treated like royalty.  :)   My day has been awesome so far: I slept in, sipped coffee, did some Power Yoga and blogged.  Not too shabby!

See ya tomorrow!

xo,

S.

Mindfulness tip ‘o the day: Before you eat your next meal or snack, take one minute to think about how that food got from the earth to your plate.  Taking a minute to give thanks to the people/animals who were involved in growing/preparing your food is a simple yet powerful act.  It can help you to be more mindful when you eat, and may even help you to eat a little less.  Just a thought!  :)