Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

It’s Monday and my 4 day weekend continues…woo hoo!  I think that I really needed a little time off to take care of some business and catch up on sleep.  Today isn’t as relaxing as I’d like.  I mean, ideally I would just nap on the couch with Cooper and watch hours of the tour.  But, it’s still a no work Monday!  I woke up around 8am, brewed a cup of black tea, and took my shopping list to the grocery store for a week of meals.

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When I got back, I made 2 Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes for breakfast and changed for the gym.  After another tough arm workout (this seems to becoming a pattern), I drove back home.  I did a quick, but effective Ab Blaster (while watching the tour), showered and ate lunch.  My plan was to get dinner set in the crockpot, but I ran out of time before I needed to head back out the door.

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This time, I drove to the train station and settled in with a book for the hour journey into Chicago.  I was probably only in the city for 90 minutes, and got caught unprepared in a wicked rain storm, before grabbing a tea and settled back in with my book for the ride home.  BUT, it was totally worthwhile though because my fiancé and I got to pick out our wedding bands!

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There was plenty of time to make dinner and binge watch today’s stage of the tour when I got back home!  I was already pretty tired and I have a busy week ahead. I am trialing some new strength classes at a boutique gym by my house in the mornings.  Plus, work is busy with patients and yoga.  The BOY had to work late tonight, so I had a quiet afternoon…secretly jealous of Cooper who can nap all day and sleep all night.

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Sadly, the BOY missed out on this delicious dinner!

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This recipe is super easy and really, REALLY good!  Since he missed out, I promised that I would make it again real soon.

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I added some extra veggies to the original recipe and the combo of taste and textures makes this my new favorite crockpot recipe!  I also left out the rice that’s in the original recipe, and I can’t say that I missed it.  Ok then, I’m going to call it an early night, tonight! 

 

What are you eating this week?

 

Meal Planning 7/05/15

Monday: Slow Cooker Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Tuesday: Turkey Taco Meatoaf

Wednesday: Pork Chops and Veggies

Thursday: Leftovers

 

Slow Cooker Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from Cooking Classy

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped (I used half red and half yellow)
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (8 oz) can diced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 heads iceberg lettuce

Directions

Place chicken and garlic in pan, sprayed with cooking spray.  Cook until no longer pink.   Drain off liquid and pour mixture into a 5 – 7 quart slow cooker. Add bell peppers, celery, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and toss mixture. Cover and cook on low heat 2 – 3 hours until chicken is tender.

Stir in water chestnuts, cook until heated through 3 – 5 minutes. Separate iceberg lettuce leaves and serve with chicken filling.

New Month…New Goals!

The BOY and I had an ‘Us’ weekend!  We spent Saturday morning hiking, picnicing, and napping (in that order) and then relaxed a bit as I soaked in the start of the Tour de France time trials.  The BOY grilled dinner and we sat out back enjoying the gorgeous summer evening with one of our favorite wines.

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And then we crashed the neighbors party for a couple more cocktails.  We did the responsible ‘go to bed around midnight’ thing, and I was happy because I had biking plans with a friend Sunday morning.

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I woke up feeling a little more tired than I would have wanted (perhaps I had too many drinks with our neighbors).  I packed up my car and pulled my bike stuff together.  It’s been too long since I’ve gone for a bike, ride and I am way out of practice.  I had to turn around twice because I forgot my helmet and bike lock.

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I met my friend at a forest preserve to do a BRICK. She is doing a triathlon and has an interesting training program that involves intervals of biking and running.  Which is what we did for about an hour and then continued to bike for another 45 minutes.  It was a gorgeous day for a bike ride and my head cleared up quickly.  Afterwards, we went for coffee and supplements at the Starbucks/Whole Foods.

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I returned home feeling super tired, but dove into my never ending house and wedding to do list.  I also noticed that my bike chain is rusted and needed to make an appointment to bring it in.  It felt amazing to start crossing things off, and I was reminded about why it was so important to have some down time this weekend.  I also used my time to watch more of the tour, loving the views of the Netherlands and the thrill of the sprint.

I did a big Bucket List post yesterday, but then remember that I had more short term goals to think about…so here we go!

 

June Goals

Eat Clean, Train Dirty– I cleaned up my diet this month and have been exercising often and hard.  The benefits…my clothes fit better, I have more energy, and my stomach has calmed down.

Cook and Bake– I got myself back into the kitchen after a bit of a ‘lack of time’ induced hiatus.  This month, I shared some new dinner recipes and of course some incredible ice cream recipes!

Drink More Water– My water bottle has been with me all day every day.

Slow Down and Enjoy Every Moment!- I had a great talk about this with my friend during our morning bike ride.  It’s always a challenge, but well worth the effort.  There were some great moments to enjoy this month!

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July Goals

Strength Train 2x Each Week

Keep it Clean, Add in Green

Stay the Course with Wedding Planning (and Stay Calm!)

Have the Best Bachelorette Weekend!

Beginnings…

The Tour de France began today!  If you follow my blog then you know that this brings lots of excitement to our house…and by our house, I mean me! (Insert eye roll from BOY who claims that the tour is boring but seems to know a lot about the peloton).  For the second year in a row, I was up before my alarm on the 4th of July.  I came straight downstairs to turn on the TV and dive into the tour.  I only caught the pre race updates on teams and the ‘Big Four’ while I sipped tea and whipped up eggs.  The BOY and I planned to go to Starved Rock today, but flooding led to parking lot closures and we didn’t want to drive almost 2 hours and not get to hike.

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Instead, we drove 45 minutes to Waterfall Glen.  This area is more of a path than a state park and from where we parked, the waterfall was quite a ‘hike’…especially since we started off in the wrong direction.  The path was well used but not crowded as we passed bikers, dogs, and runners.  There was a good amount of shade as we made our way towards the waterfall.

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We were tired when we arrived and stopped to rest our feet a bit and sip some water.

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I must say that the waterfall was cool, but I was hoping that there was more than one!  The bugs made it tough to stay still, so after a quick break we hiked back to our car.

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By the time we reached our car, which was packed with a picnic lunch, we had walked over 6 miles.  There wasn’t a great place to pop a squat, so we decided to drive back towards home.  There is a great park, where I run in the mornings, a few blocks away from our house.  We pass it almost every day and always talk about picnicing, but never do.  We settled under a shady tree by the lake on this perfect day.

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With a full tummy, I could have fallen asleep on our blanket!

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Instead, we waited until we were back home to cuddle in (with Cooper, of course) for an afternoon nap!  Then, woke back up to watch the beginning of the Tour!

I can’t believe that it’s July and the beginning of the second half of the year (like my glass half full attitude?).  It occurred to me yesterday that meant I needed to check in with my bucket list!  This year has been so busy (work, wedding, life) that I barely remember what’s on my bucket list!

2015 Bucket List

LIFE

Set and follow a budget (for real!)- Oh man!  I swear I am super organized, but have totally struggled with this!  Something to focus the next 6 months on…saving up for a honeymoon!

Pass my test– Woo hoo!  All of that library time paid off.  I am know a Pediatric Clinical Specialist (PCS), which has me smiling from ear to ear!

Have a fun stress free wedding day– Yea, so some days are easy and some days my heart beats a little faster.  We’ve had more drama with planning than I would have liked (just found out the planner at the hotel we have been working with since October quit)…BUT, above all the marriage is the most important thing and the BOY and I are in this together!

Stay healthy– Other than those two weeks where I was REALLY sick, I have been feeling pretty energetic and healthy this  year. I’m hoping that continues through the end of the year.

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BODY

Do a triathlonThe decision has been made that this won’t be a big racing year…so no triathlon.  And I am A-okay with that!  I am broadening my horizons a bit with exercise and doing tons of yoga!  This decision is helping me feel more balanced and less stressed, and we’ll just have to see what 2016 holds for races and tri’s.

Feel confident in a bikini- Work in progress!

Continue to build muscle strength– I think that my arms are definitely getting stronger and I am able to do 1-2 pull ups!  I’m hoping to continue to build my strength with the goal of adding in a consistent second strength day each week.

Keep my skin healthy– Success!  My focus on eating clean and drinking water, plus regular facials has paid off!

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MIND

Be present– I have been soaking in every moment, big or small!  Case and point, feeling the wind in my hair as I drove the boat along the lake in the picture above.  I know that more excitement awaits around the corner, and I look forward to experiencing it all!

Teach more yoga/take yoga trainings- I think this may end up being more of a 2016 goal. I’d love to do a yoga retreat AND my adult yoga certification.  I was able to talk about kids yoga on a Podcast, which is something I never would have even dreamed of in January.  It’s fun to see where the year takes you…

Read good books– Check!  I started the year as a reading machine.  With work getting busier, I have been staying up later and reading less, but plan to devour a few more books from my ‘to read’ pile before the year is done.

Give back and volunteer- Ugh! Major Fail here!  I have been donating food, money, and clothes, but not as much of my time as I would like.

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I know I say it every year, but this year has FLOWN by!  There have been some unexpected highs and a huge loss to our family as we said goodbye to our patriarch, Grandpa Al.  I know that there are more celebrations to come as we are less than 100 days from starting our life as husband and wife!  There is also a lot of non wedding excitement, vacations, and moments, and I am planning to breathe deep and appreciate all of the joy and gifts in the year ahead.   Stay tuned for June goals (and Tour de France updates) as this post is already way too long!

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2015 First Half Highlights

Lots of Kids Yoga

Bounding with my SIL

Taking engagement photos

Friendsgiving in April

Playing tennis with the BOY and my family

Wisconsin Weekends

Our first wedding shower

 

How’s your 2015 bucket list coming along?

What’s your ‘first half highlight’ of 2015?

You Scream!

The biggest problem with our ice cream maker (besides the fact that it may prevent me from fitting into my wedding dress) is that Cooper has discovered it.  And by discovered it, I mean he can conveniently place his nose in the top while it churns, soaking in all of the dairy deliciousness!

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Our ice cream making has been working all week!  The recipe that started all it all is a Vegan ice cream that I found on pinterest. I was interested because it uses coconut milk and dates. 

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Typically dairy and I don’t get along, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying a good cheese or frozen yogurt run.   The idea of making dairy free ice cream sounded VERY appealing this summer.  I followed the recipe as written, but I think I have a different sized maker because it didn’t seem to churn well and stuck along the edges. I wonder if I would have been better off doubling the recipe?!

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Even with that, the consistency was just like fro yo as promised!  Mmmm!  Of course, I decided to stir in some dark chocolate chunks!

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It took all of my will power not to dig in and eat the entire container!  This looks to me like Fro Yo for one : )

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Also from the ice cream maker this week…the BOY made a custard and we used the easy vanilla recipe to make Oreo/M&M and Heath flavored ice cream for our 4th of July celebration on July 3rd!

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We had a beautiful day to celebrate the holiday with good friends, awesome food, and of course a dance party in the bounce house!

 

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

From ifoodreal

Ingredients

1 can (14 oz) full fat coconut milk

10 medjool dates, pitted

3 tbsp cacoa powder

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Chocolate chunks (optional)

Directions

Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker overnight.

Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a high speed blender.  Process until smooth.  Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to directions.  Add chocolate chips if desired and allow ice cream maker to mix.

Consistency will be that of soft serve…Mmm!

Sponsored by the Letter Zee

Good Evening Friends!  How goes this short week? 

OVER! Woo hoo!

I left you with a cliff hanger which means that I owe you a recipe.  I actually have a few as this post was sponsored by the letter Zee for Zucchini!  I had 3 zucchini’s hanging in the fridge and now that my oven is fixed, it was time to bake up a quick bread.  I stuck with the cookbook theme of Monday and whipped up this simple bread from Better Homes.

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It was super easy and low fuss!  Since it makes two loaves, I made one plain one and one with dark chocolate chunks. Dark chocolate makes everything better : )

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Even after two loaves of bread, I had some leftover shredded zucchini that I thought would be perfect to add to one of my favorite breakfasts, the quinoa cake.  I kept mine pretty plain and unsweetened, but you could definitely sweeten it up for a more decadent breakfast.

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The only thing I was missing that I wanted to add was walnuts.  Then it would be a zuchhini bread bake : )  Zucchini also made an appearance in my most recent smoothie from the Detoxinista book!

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It’s got cashews, banana, zucchini, cinnamon, and flax…filling and fantastic!

Other Recipes Sponsored by Zee(cchini)

Zucchini Pineapple Bread *Blogger FAVE!

Healthy New Year Soup

Coconut Ginger Zucchini Bread

Turkey and Vegetable Chili

Paleo Zucchini Almond Butter Muffins

Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomato Tian

 

What is your favorite Zucchini recipe?  Link ‘em up!

Zucchini Bread

From Better Homes Baking

2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2 1/2 cups finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (or dark chocolate chunks)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of 2 loaf pans; set aside. In a large bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl combine egg, sugar, shredded zucchini, oil, and vanilla. Add zucchini mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts. Spoon batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

 

Zucchini Breakfast Quinoa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 tbsp flax (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (more to taste)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • Optional: sugar, stevia, banana, maple syrup, or your favorite sweetener!

Directions

Combine all ingredients in microwave safe bowl, sprayed with cooking spray.  Stir to combine. Microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Remove from bowl and top with nut butter, fruit, or maple syrup.

By the Books…

This week, I busted out the cookbooks.  Not intentionally, but it started with one and then another, and then a third followed.  And the next thing you know, I had a pile of cookbooks, dinner in the crockpot, and a smoothie in hand.  Success!

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It helped to have all of our new kitchen gear!  For dinner, I went with a new recipe from a tried and true cookbook 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth.  I used some of my new knife skills to dice the onion.

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Then topped it with chicken thighs and sauce.  I don’t typically cook with thighs but figured I would give it a chance.  Costco has some deals on organic chicken, so I picked up the thighs instead of breasts.

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Once the chicken was ready to go, I was eager for a snack.  Enter cookbook number 2!  The new Everyday Detox book from Detoxinista.  I recently purchased this one in an attempt to aid my digestion and IBS.  I find the concept of food combining very interesting and like that the recipes are simple and clean.

Everyday Detox : 100 Easy Recipes to Remove Toxins, Promote Gut Health, and...

My first recipe was the Blended Apple Pie a la Mode.  I subbed in almond butter for the avocado which kept the filling fat and kind of went against the food combing, but it turned out delicious!  Sadly, I lost the picture on my phone along with a few others…total bummer!  I did capture dinner, which turned out flavorful and delicious!

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The last cookbook I used was the BetterHomes Baking book.  I’ve had a zucchini bread recipe tagged in there and a few zucchini’s ripe and ready for peeling in the fridge.  But you’ll have to wait on that recipe!

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Until then…sweet ice cream dreams : )

Do you use cookbooks or the internet for your recipes?

 

Lower Sugar BBQ Pulled Chicken Thighs

From The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar free ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Sucanat
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the ketchup, tomato paste, cider vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Sucanat, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  2. Make a layer of onion on the bottom of the slow cooker, sprayed with cooking spray.  Lay chicken thighs over the onion and pour the sauce evenly over everything.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours, until chicken is cooked but juicy.  Using two large forks, pull apart the chicken and finely shred the meat and stir well to mix with the sauce.
  4. Can serve in taco’s, with a potato, or over slaw.

 

Blended Apple Pie a la Mode

From Everyday Detox

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 raw avocado or 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced
  • 3 soft medjool dates
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Handful of ice cubes

Directions

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy!  Enjoy immediately!

I Scream!

As I mentioned yesterday, we had a fantastic weekend kicking off our wedding with a chef inspired shower!  The BOY and I were thrilled to open our gifts and before we even arrived back home, we had swung into Target for ice cream ingredients.

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It was after an evening of wine and pinning that I decided we needed an ice cream maker.  We started with the simplest recipe…just a few ingredients.  The BOY whipped everything together using some of our brand new measuring cups!

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He placed the bowl in the fridge for 2 hours while we finished cleaning and unpacking and then sat down for Thai.  After dinner, the BOY started looking up ice cream information and discovered that you have to freeze the bowl over night before you can make anything.  What? That should be in big bright letters on the front of the box.  Sadly, we realized that ice cream would have to wait until the next day.

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Luckily, there were other toys to play with, like a deep fryer and rice cooker!  This morning, I was only awake a few minutes before the BOY whipped out the bowl of ice cream and placed it in the ice cream maker.

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Who doesn’t want ice cream for breakfast?!

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By this afternoon, the BOY decided that he wanted to make another batch.  Before I knew what was going on, he had out pots and egg separators, whipping together a custard. 

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Which waiting in the fridge now to become ice cream batch number two.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!  But so far…the verdict is…homemade ice cream is the BEST!

Do you make your own ice cream?

What’s your favorite recipe?

 

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

From Cuisinart

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight. Turn on the Cuisinart® ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.