One Pot

My legs were definitely lecturing me this morning on the importance of proper training.  Although I was able to walk, from my first step, my hamstrings were screaming with every step.  They toughed it through my strength workout this morning because we focused only on arms and back.  Then, my body got the TLC that it needed with an incredible massage.

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On my way home, I swung by the grocery store.  Last week, I ran out of food before Thursday’s lunch, so I was hoping to come up with a better plan this week. Part of last week’s problem was that the BOY loved the Teriyaki Chicken so much that there weren’t as many leftovers as I expected.  Not the worst problem to have…

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So I’m sure you’ve already figured out that the title of this post is referring to my favorite kind of pot…the crockpot.  This afternoon, I tried an experiment. I took one of the best and easiest crockpot recipes that I know and combined it in a ziploc bag.  Since the BOY is home tomorrow and I work, he can easily throw everything into the crockpot in the afternoon and dinner will be ready when I get home.

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I know that there are a lot of people who freeze their crockpot recipes ahead of time and I am beginning to see the appeal.  It would be easy to double a recipe, throwing half in the crockpot and half in the freezer for a later date.  Once I had the peanut chicken stored in the fridge, I moved onto this week’s lunch.  A Pinterest find from the recipe geniuses over at Pinch of Yum.

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The weather is just chilly enough for me to start craving soups and stews.  What attracted me to this recipe was the spices and flavors.  When I walked in the door after my dinner date with a friend, the house smelled heavenly.  Sadly, I will have to wait tomorrow for my first taste, but I’m sure it will be wonderful.  A lot of goodness can come from ONE POT!

What are you excited to make this fall?

What is your favorite make ahead recipe?

 

Meal Planning 9/15/14

Monday: Sushi Date

Tuesday: Clean Peanutty Thai Chicken

Wednesday: Pork on the Grill

Thursday: Salmon and Veggies

Lunch: Slow Cooker Creole Chicken and Sausage

 

Slow Cooker Creole Chicken and Sausage

From Pinch of Yum

Ingredients

The essentials:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 ounces smoked Andouille sausage, cut into small rounds
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Optional extras: check out the website to see what else you can use!

*I would also consider adding in some okra…Yum!

Directions

  1. Place the essential ingredients in the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3 hours.
  2. Shred the chicken directly in the crockpot to your desired texture. Add the extras, if you want, and cover and cook for another 20-30 minutes. When everything is ready, taste the chicken mixture and season with salt. Serve the creole chicken over rice and topped with green onions.

13.1 is Done!

So I feel like there were points leading up to this race where I feared it would be my first DNF (did not finish).  My training was either non existent (ie weekend in Memphis) or poor.  I struggled to get through my long runs and my heart just wasn’t in it.  Yet when I woke up this morning, I was ready for whatever the day threw  my way.  It certainly helped that my my parents met me at my house so we could drive together to the race.  The BOY, who is still sick, got to sleep in.

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What made this well-organized race so fun was the ease of getting there, the lack of crazy crowds, and the laid back vibe.  It’s actually at the same location where I ran the Hot Cider Hustle last fall.  Even better…the weather was PERFECT for a run!

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I easily found my friend and was looking forward to catching up again.  We’ve done a bunch of bike rides and runs together this year, including the Soldier Field 10 Miler.  About 5 minutes before the start of the race, we found our way to the start line.  I didn’t have a set plan, which is so not like me, but figured I would find a steady pace and do the best I could.

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I was so disorganized that I almost didn’t start my watch at the start.  The course weaves through a beautiful forest preserve.  My friend and I found an easy pace of running and conversation.  I was surprised at how good I was feeling as I trudged along.  I barely looked at my watch so I had no idea what my pace was but I still felt decent as we passed the 9:10 pace group with about 3 miles to go.  In the end, I even found a little kick as we raced to the finish line where my parents were waiting with cameras finishing just under 2 hours.

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Although I didn’t train to PR this race, I also didn’t want it to be my slowest race ever.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to maintain a 9:05 pace and finish feeling pretty darn good.

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The reward was lunch at Naf Naf.  The BOY’s choice but since he couldn’t join us we sent pictures!

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I spent the rest of my afternoon walking around the mall with my mom, which was probably great for my legs and sipping on Starbucks chai tea.  Now I am planted on the couch watching the Bears game and beginning to feel all of my muscles talk to me.  Thankfully, I have a well timed massage scheduled tomorrow!

It’s a Good Thing We Don’t Have a Reality Show

Because then you would all see how crazy we are!

Excitedly, I pointed out to the BOY that I couldn’t even remember the last time we went to sleep without setting an alarm as we crawled into bed before 10pm last night.  I was exhausted from my work week and fully aware that a good night’s sleep would be necessary to propel me to the finish line at tomorrow’s 13.1 mile race.  I should also point out that the BOY is sick (which is why he went to bed so early).  He has a stuffed nose, kleenex everywhere, can’t leave the house and I’m drinking tea non stop kind of sick. Ugh!  Apparently this is also the kind of sick that according to the BOY does not require medical intervention (insert eye roll here…)

So this morning when he woke up around 5am because he is sick and couldn’t sleep and came downstairs to discover that his precious, most prized possession La-Z-boy was broken, things got a little out of hand.  There was some hammering, some flipping of the chair, and some more construction.  All of this drove Cooper into  tizzy causing him to come whining loudly and incessantly at my door.  Until I opened the door, where he jumped onto my pillow allowed me to pet him a few times before biting me.  Which got him immediately removed from the room by the BOY who was eager to come share the tales of his morning.  People…I couldn’t make this stuff up if  tried!

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I told the BOY that he needed to feed Cooper (‘but it’s only 6am’…’yes that’s what time I wake up every day and feed him’).  The BOY moved himself and all of his possessions taking over my couch and Cooper was able to scarf down breakfast in one bite.  Feeling calmer, he returned to my room.  After exploring the entire room twice, he finally curled up between my legs where we both fell back asleep.

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Around 8am, when I finally woke up for real, the BOY returned to bed stating that he needed to be woken up at 9:20 so that he could be the first one at the La-Z-boy store when it opened at 10.  I whipped up French Toast for breakfast and brewed a strong pot of tea!

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I don’t know about where you are, but we’ve had a cold spell.  It’s supposed to be 60 degrees this weekend but it’s been much more chilly than that the past few days making it the PERFECT morning to bake my #firstloafoftheseason of Pumpkin Bread.  I found this recipe on Pinterest (in between pinning wedding ideas).  With the BOY asleep and my eager assistant chef busy searching for hidden treats, I got to work.

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This recipe makes 3 big loaves which was perfect…one for us, one for my friend running with me tomorrow, and one for the birthday party I’m going to this afternoon.  I didn’t have enough oil, so I subbed in applesauce.  This recipe is really easy and has lots of spice (my favorite) so perfect for a Saturday morning breakfast.  I popped my bread in the oven, eagerly awaiting the smells of fall, and happily settled onto my couch for a a Law&Order marathon.

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When the BOY woke up, he decided to call the store instead (much smarter idea) but sadly discovered that someone cannot come out to fix his precious chair for another week or so.  It’s going to be an interesting few days.  But at least we’ve got warm tea and pumpkin bread to get us through…

 

Autumn Pumpkin Bread

From Hope in Every Season

Ingredients

1 29oz. can pumpkin puree

1 1/2 c. oil

3 c. sugar

6 eggs

4 3/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp. cloves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 and grease 3 loaf pans.  Mix the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs.  Combine the dry ingredients and then stir into the wet mixture.  Pour into pans and bake 45 min. or until done all the way through.

 

Have you made anything with pumpkin yet?

It Took Me Long Enough…

To get to my goals and all…

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I’ve been working hard during the week, getting fall yoga started with a camping themed class for the little ones, pinning wedding related stuff, crossing my fingers that we are close to finalizing a venue, and celebrating Girl’s Weekend in Memphis!  There’s only so much time in the day and some many days in the week and I’ve been spending it the good way…which means that I am late on my September goals.  If  you’ve hung out with me lately, then you’re probably not super surprised as I’ve been going non stop.  More surprising is that I even remembered that I made August goals : )

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I have also neglected to share a fantastic new crockpot recipe with you.  Just in time for the weather to cool and me to bust out my fussy socks.  What’s super funny is that one of my coworkers (who follows my Pinterest board) also made the same Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken this week.  The only bad thing about this recipe is that the BOY devoured a HUGE plate and I don’t have any leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

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So as you can see below, this wasn’t the most productive month is some ways, but it was definitely a memorable one in others!

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August Goals

1. Go to the farmer’s market and eat more greens-FAILED IT!

2. Throw a fiesta-ROCKED IT!

3. Progress half marathon training-TIED IT!

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September/October Goals

1. Really start eating more greens

2. Do weekly yoga

3. Go for long bike rides

4. Volunteer for the marathon

5. Move forward with wedding plans

 

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

From Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped white onion

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup soy sauce (use low-sodium if desired)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup cold water

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

(optional toppings: sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds)

Directions

Add the chicken breasts to the bottom of your slow cooker in a single layer.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the garlic, onion, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and black pepper until combined. Pour the mixture on top of the chicken breasts. Cover slow cooker, and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily with a fork. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a separate bowl and shred it using two forks. Transfer the remaining teriyaki sauce from the slow cooker to a medium saucepan.

Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved and no longer lumpy. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the teriyaki sauce mixture, and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and let it boil for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, and pour the sauce on top of the shredded chicken. Toss to combine.

Serve topped with scallions (green onions) and toasted sesame seeds if desired.

 

What are your fall goals?  Is anyone else a little behind this fall?

Monday After Memphis

My weekend in Memphis was nothing shy of spectacular!  Sunday Funday with mimosas and these girls was such a treat!

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This  morning, I was on the 5:50am plane out of Memphis and back in Chicago shortly after 7am.  My first stop after cuddling Cooper was a nap.  I had to catch up on a little bit of sleep before the busy day ahead.  I happily and intentionally overindulged this weekend…think wine flights, beer, and pizza! 

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Although I blew off my workout today, I had strong intentions of getting back into my healthy routine.  The BOY and I had our last venue appointment today (spoiler alert…we liked it a lot!), and then I ran off to Costco and the grocery store, making a quick stop for lunch along the way.

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When I got home, there was a bunch to do.  It’s amazing how messy one boy can make our little house…ha ha!  I had paperwork to accomplish, laundry to clean, Scandal to binge watch, and of course more Cooper to cuddle.  Since the BOY was in class, I knew I could whip up my go to ‘get back on track’ dinner.  Salmon and veggies.  I also found a delicious bagged  salad that completed the meal.

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It’s one week to go before my race, so I should be doing some sort of run tomorrow morning.  Which means…I’m off to bed!  But first, I’ll leave you with a funny picture of Cooper who backed himself (hind legs first) into the cabinet today.

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What is your get back on track meal?

What is on your meal plan this week?

Meal Planning 9/08/14

Monday: Teriyaki Salmon and Salad

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

Wednesday: BBQ Shrimp

Thursday: Leftovers

Tonight Instead of Pinning…

I am taking a break from pinning color schemes, flower arrangements, and unique wedding ideas tonight.  The BOY got started with dinner by making the turkey meat, which meant all I had to do was throw everything into the oven for our hearty Turkey Taco Casserole.  After kitten was loved and fed and dinner devoured, I got down to work.

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Yoga is back! 

Our fall yoga starts tomorrow at work. I have full little yogi and junior yogi classes and maybe some high schoolers too.  Because some of the kids are the same, I definitely need to work on a creative new plan for tomorrow…and update my music again.  It’s going to be a FUN Fall!  I’m thinking tomorrow’s theme will be camping…in honor of the end of summer and all.

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I also need to get packing.  I leave for Memphis on Saturday before the sun rises, and I’m not sure when I will have time to collect my sun dresses and Sperry’s for my girl’s weekend of BBQ and mimosas : )

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So as you can see…I kept myself busy with non wedding business.  I should confess (because I’d just feel bad if I didn’t) that even though I stayed away from my ‘Fall in Love’ wedding board ( I spent most of my time on the Yoga Kids board), I did contact a few photographers.  A bride-to-be never rests! 

Yet that is exactly what I need to do.  I’ve got plans for an early morning run!

Do you use Pinterest?  What is your favorite board/thing to pin?

Monday Weekend Wrap Up

Happy Labor Day!

I hope that everyone had a great weekend appreciating the last joys of summer and the ability to wear white : )

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We had a little bit of everything going on this weekend.  Starting with wedding planning Friday night, a Saturday AM hot yoga class and venue visits Saturday afternoon.  Followed by an early morning run with a buddy Sunday morning.  And then birthday celebrations in the city and shenanigans the rest of the weekend. 

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Now it’s Monday and I scheduled in some much needed downtime for us.  I feel like we have been running non stop with little time to catch our breaths.  Perhaps that is common of everybody trying to hold on to the last few moments of summer before it fades into fall.  And speaking of running, I have been preparing for the half marathon I am scheduled to do in 2 weeks.  I don’t know if it is this first taste of thick humid air, the fact that I am now 33, or all of the things going on in our lives right now, but I have not found my running groove.  Whereas I usually LOVE the 13.1 distance, I am not looking forward to this upcoming race.  Based on my recent runs (and lack of mileage), I’m sure that I will struggle a bit to finish…even without worrying about my time.

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It seems that there are many changes with age (which occurred to me as I was the oldest person at yesterday’s birthday party).  But I have to brag that I still got it when it comes to flip cup and can hang with the 20 somethings.  After sleeping in until 10am and spending the majority of the morning with my sister in law looking for a Thai place that was open to deliver us delicious fried rice (with no success), the only option I wanted for dinner was Thai!  We also did some wedding searching and pinning in between complaining about our lack of spicy peanut chicken.

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My favorite peanut butter in homemade Thai is homemade peanut butter!  We went to the grocery store on our way home from the city and picked up ingredients and I had fresh PB before the crockpot was heated up.

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I had dinner in the crockpot, laundry in the machine, and a few things picked up and was seated comfortably on my couch for an afternoon of quiet time.  Sad news…I may need to fire my wedding planner for sleeping on the job!

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Our Thai dinner turned out incredible (not that I am surprised as Erin has some mouth watering recipes) and totally hit the spot!

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What else hit the spot?  This weekend!  Spending time with friends and family, enjoying the outdoors, a much needed yoga class, and getting back to cooking and meal planning.  What more do you need?

 

MealPlanning 9/01/14

Monday: Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Tuesday: BBQ Pork/Lamb and Green Beans

Wednesday: Turkey Taco Casserole

Thursday: Grilled Chicken and Veggies

How did you spend your weekend?

 

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Slightly Adapted From The Law Student’s Wife

Ingredients

2, 14-ounce cans light coconut milk

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/4 cup peanut butter (homemade!)

3 tablespoons red curry paste

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 cups peeled and 1/2-inch cubed butternut squash pieces (about 1 pound) I didn’t use squash because the BOY doesn’t like it but I’m sure it would be awesome!

2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced

2 green bell peppers, cored and sliced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)

Directions

In a 5-quart or larger slow cooker, stir together the coconut milk, chicken stock, peanut butter, curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Place the chicken breast, squash, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and onion in the slow cooker and stir gently to coat with sauce. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Thirty minutes before you are ready to serve, add the peas. Immediately before serving, stir in lime juice. Serve garnished with cilantro, atop brown rice.