Zoodles of Fun!

Just like last year, the BOY and I joined my parents at my sister in laws family a few hours south for the weekend celebrating Christmas and an exciting 2014!  There were drinks and dinner, music, laugher and games, flappy bird and football, and of course presents!

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The BOY and I had so much fun!  We did this week’s mini meal plan (I am working Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday) on the way home swinging by the grocery store before finally unloading our car.  For dinner tonight, I was really excited to give my new veggie slicer a try.

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I made my first batch of zoodles (zucchini noodles) with the help of Cooper and the BOY.

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Then topped them with some premade chicken meatballs, sauce, and a sprinkle of cheese.

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My dinner was delicious and I have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

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I know that there will be zoodles of more fun to come (next year and with my cool new peeler).

Do you have a veggie peeler? How do you use it?

What fun gifts did you get for the holidays?

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It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas

The BOY made this statement last night and I couldn’t help but agree.  There’s no snow, it isn’t particularly cold, and I can’t say there was much pomp and circumstance to my day.  I worked Christmas Eve morning to afternoon and then met my trainer at the gym.  After a few days of indulging in holiday treats, I knew a serious strength session was what I needed before the long weekend.  He agreed with a tabata style workout…ugh!  I had a few errands to run and so I got them done before arriving home at 5pm to a sleeping BOY and excited kitten.

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Our big Christmas eve plans involved dinner and a movie.  Since we had no food at home and I knew it was too late for a dinner reservation, we thought a movie at the fancy theater was the perfect solution.  We arrived early for a drink and then grabbed turkey sliders to go into the theater to watch MockingJay Part I.

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To be completely honest, MockingJay was my least favorite of the 3 Hunger Gamess books, so I wasn’t sure how the movie would go.  Curled up with my blanket on a recliner with popcorn and red wine, the movie kept my attention and didn’t disappoint!  The BOY and I returned home to an adorable Cooper ready to play while flipping through TV and sipping on green tea.

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It’s that exciting time when Trader Joe’s has my favorite holiday night cap!

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I was looking forward to sleeping in Christmas morning, but the BOY had other plans to meet his family.  My family’s plans…meeting my mom at the yoga studio for a 10am class.  All great days don’t go as planned. My mom skipped yoga (I still went and loved the fun, yet challenging class under the Christmas lights) and the BOY’s mom wasn’t feeling well.  My mom, the BOY, and his dad all ended up meeting for lunch at the deli.

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After lunch, we all went our separate ways.  The sun was shining and it felt like a glorious fall day.  I found an open grocery store before a planned ME day.  Well, actually a me and Cooper day.  I had tons of laundry to do and was looking forward to finally doing some holiday baking.  With a Lifetime movie in the background, I had the most wonderful day!

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I was most excited to make a loaf of fresh baked gingerbread!

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Which looks FANTASTIC!

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Meanwhile, I also made a gluten free Christmas favorite White Chocolate Puppy Chow.  Then I retreated to the couch to fold laundry and catch up on the DVR.

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Even though the lack of blistery cold and laid back vibe made the day seem less Christmas like, it made it all WONDERFUL!

Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases!

 

Gingerbread Loaf

From Tastes of Lizzy T’s

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1½ teaspoons ginger

¾ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup sugar

½ cup molasses

½ cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

powdered sugar for dusting the top, if desired

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, molasses, butter, eggs and vanilla until well mixed.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, stirring just until blended after each addition.

Spoon the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool.

Celebrating Hanukkah (in 3 words per picture)

As of Sunday night, our household state of affairs was a bit chaotic!

The sink was over flowing, our fridge empty, Christmas cards barely mailed, and the BOY and I exhausted!  Last week, was a busy work week and my entire body was sore and tired by Friday night.  Saturday morning, I met my mom at an invigorating hot yoga class.  She came by to play with Cooper as the BOY and I got ready for our weekend in the city.  We drove down Saturday afternoon to spend some time with my brother and sister in law.  My sister in law and I started by doing some returns and last minute holiday shopping on Southport.  We returned to a house with two happy boys having just watched two Big Ten basketball victories.   The rest of our evening was food and fun filled followed by a fantastic Sunday morning Hanukkah Party.  I got see a close friend in town from New York and spend time with some of my favorite people.  Oh and did I mention there were presents?

In 3 words per photo, I’ll fill you in…

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Best New Combo!

 

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Can’t Get Enough

 

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Cheese Plate Obsession

 

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We LOVE Bubbles!

 

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Go to Sunda

 

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It’s Too Dark

 

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Time For Hanukkah

 

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Awake Too Late

 

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Huge Hanukkah Celebration

 

How was your weekend (in 3 words)?

Gingerbread Rice Krispy Treats

During a ‘ quick’ trip to Target (does such a thing really even exist?), I walked out with an arm full of random stuff including Gingerbread flavored mallows.  I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with them (I seem to remember buying them in the past dipping them in chocolate, and loving them), but along with a bottle of red wine and some allergy meds, they landed in my arms, cart, and shopping bag.

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Sunday morning, I had plans to meet a good friend for a Core Power Yoga class.  Beforehand, I had just enough time to whip up a batch of Rice Krispy Treats.

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A quick Google search revealed that not much has been documented about making treats with the gingerbread mallows, so I followed the basic recipe adding in a bit of extra spice.

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The result was delicious!  A hint of spice lingering after each bite!

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Of course, I brought a few to my yoga going friend and then packed up the rest to bring holiday cheer to my coworkers!

The yoga class was hot, sweaty, and intense.  My favorite part…the quote the teacher shared with us as we set our pre practice intention.

After my previous post about life and balance, this hit home, and I have been thinking about it and sharing it with others during this busy holiday season.  With this in mind, it was around 8:30pm that I climbed into bed with my book last night.  Slowing down was a great idea yesterday…especially since today was jam packed!

 

Meal Planning 12/15/14

Monday: Mediterranean Turkey Meatloaf with Roasted Veggies

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Tuesday: Crockpot Orange Chicken (make ahead)

Wednesday: Grilled Pork and Veggies

Thursday: Homemade Pizza Night (a BOY favorite)

 

Gingerbread Rice Krispy Treats

Based off of the Original Rice Krispy recipe

Ingredients

3 tbsp butter

1 package KRAFT gingerbread marshmallows

1 big heap of cinnamon

1/2 tsp clove

6 cups Rice Krispy cereal

Directions

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in spices
Add cereal, stirring until well coated.
Using buttered spatula or hands sprayed with Pam, press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool.  Store in air tight container.  Best served the same day.

‘I Got Wild at the Library’

I casually mentioned this to my mom last weekend, who made the funniest face and said ‘How?’ before I realized what I had actually said.  What I meant was that I had picked up the book Wild at the library, and 2 chapters in, I was a big fan!  Yesterday, the BOY and I were back at the library with huge cokes in hand, snacks packed, and laptops buzzing.  We spent about 4 hours there which seems to be enough sitting and studying time for me : )

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It is helpful to have the BOY right in the heart of his last set of finals because it motivates me to hit the books too.  Although he will be done with finals in one week, and I have 2 months until test time, so soon I may have to go it alone.  I have high hopes of bribing him with cokes and snacks to the library on future weekends, but we shall see how that goes.

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I’ve read some incredible books this year and Wild seems like the perfect way to round out a year full of alluring and intriguing (mostly female) characters.  I’ve only started one book that I just didn’t get into fast enough to finish and everything else has been thought provoking, strong reads.  I may have even read more books this year, but here is what I remember (aka my favorites) from 2014.

2014 Reading List

Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Sharp Objects* by Gillian Flynn

(*Dare I say that I liked this better than Gone Girl…it’s by the same author)

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I have two book shelves overflowing with books along with a ‘to read next’ pile on my night stand that seems to grow with every amazon purchase I make.  Looking forward to getting lost in more amazing true and fictional stories next year!

 

What was your favorite book of the year?

More Than Okay

I have a long list of things that I want to do before the end of the year.  They include writing my usual ‘end of year’ blog posts about the best recipes, photos and memories wrapping up 2014 in the blogosphere. 

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There’s also my annual Baking Bonanza that involves my mom and I, packages of softened butter, new cookie recipes, an over heated kitchen, more bags of chips than we know what to do with, and perhaps some mulled wine.

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I have holiday cards I want to send, taking time to write a personal note to each of our friends and family wishing them a special season ahead.  A menorah and Hanukkah candles to find (before Tuesday, I believe).  There are recipes I hope to make, and workouts that I want to run.  I have Christmas gifts, ideas running through my head, that I need to buy.

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I have returns to make and bills to pay.  Pages to read and outlines to write.  Countless more hours to log at the library while sipping on ginormous cups of caffeinated soda.

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There is a constant to do list (did I make that dentist appointment?) running through my head with an upcoming deadline of December 31st.  How did we get to December already?  Clearly I was not prepared : )

Meanwhile, I really want to spend time cuddled with my kitten cruising through my latest book.

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And stay up late watching IU basketball while drinking bubbles with the BOY.  Then waking up really late, enjoying tea and brunch in my PJ’s.

I want to make our New Years Eve plans and host a party for our friends in January. 

I’d like to get in as many outdoor runs as I can before the impending and feared Polar Vortex, and bask in the awesome energy of a daily yoga practice.

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It occurred to me as I was spewing out a constant stream of thought to the BOY before bed last night that I will not be able to fit it all in to the next 19 days. 

Sigh…

And then I decided that that was okay!

Cookies can be baked and shared in January and hand written holiday cards are appreciated no matter when they arrive.  Amazon has 2 day shipping for a reason, and I’m not so sure you guys even care about the Most Popular LWYD Recipes or Search Terms of 2014.

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Books will get read…

Bubbles will pop open…

Blog posts will get written (or they won’t)…

Naps will be taken…

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Weights will be lifted…

Cookies will be baked…

Kids yoga will be taught…

Life will be lived…

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And time will be spent with family and friends!

And that is more than okay…that is fantastic!

So please excuse me if I don’t fit something important into these next few weeks.  I might just be a little busy…

His and Hers Dinner

Post gong sleep is nothing shy of GLORIOUS!  Although I had an alarm set this morning, I  reset it and snoozed an incredible 10 straight hours.  I considered calling my trainer to cancel in order to stay in bed, but when I realized I had to get out of bed to make the call, it seemed pointless.

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As I walked out the door, the sky started spitting huge globs of snow.  It looked like someone was splatter painting across our front yard.  The snow stopped by the  time I got to the gym, where I got on a serious sweat with some heavy weights.  After the gym, I did a Costco and grocery store run.  I packed a few post workout snacks to fuel  my shopping.  This dark chocolate almond/honey roasted peanut mix tasted like a peanut butter cup!

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The BOY did  most of the cooking last week, so I decided to get involved with some new recipes this week.  When I got back from the grocery store, I changed right into my PJ’s for the rest of the day.  Man, I LOVE Mondays!

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For dinner tonight. I decided to make pulled chicken with cider.  I was pleasantly surprised to find StrongBow at Mariano’s.  I discovered this cider 13 years ago when my friends and I did a mini mester in London.  Being young and inexperienced with quality beer, we hated the warm Guinness so spent most of our time drinking StrongBow and Snake Bites.

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Ahh!  The memories!  So of course, I chose StrongBow to make dinner and drank some with my lunch : )

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The BOY has been asking for Crabby Mac for a few weeks now, typically on week nights when I work late.  So I told him that since I had the time, I would make him a super creamy Mac and Cheese for dinner.

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My chicken turned out wonderful and I ate it atop a salad.

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With plenty of leftovers for lunch this week.

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Check out our his and hers dinners : )

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Meal Planning 12/07/14

Monday: Crabby Classic Mac and Cheese (for him) and Apple Cider Pulled Chicken (for her)

Tuesday: Honey Sesame Chicken (make ahead crockpot version)

Wednesday: Salmon and Veggies

Thursday: BBQ Pork and Veggies

 

Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Chicken

From Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 t paprika
  • 2 t dry mustard
  • one 12 oz bottle hard cider

Directions

Place the onion and apple slices on the bottom of your slow cooker.  Lay the chicken breasts on top of the apples and onions, and sprinkle on the salt, pepper, paprika, and mustard. Pour the hard cider over the top.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and shreds easily.   Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, shred with two forks, and return to the slow cooker.  Using tongs, toss together the chicken, apples, onions and cooking liquid until evenly distributed.

Use to make sandwiches, top salads, or top potatoes.  Anything is possible!