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!

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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.

Kicking It Off

If I were a Disney princess, I probably would have woken up singing Saturday morning.  There were even animals present as Cooper climbed into our bed for an adorable 15 minute cuddle.  I was in a great mood and the sun was shining on a promising day ahead for our first wedding shower.  After months and months of planning, it is actually starting to feel REAL.  Disney princess or not, the singing came later.

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I was up super early so took time to enjoy my black tea and breakfast.  Then, I walked out the door for the 8am yoga class.  My intention was to have toned arms to sport with my new shower dress and a zen heart to enjoy and appreciate the special day.  I accomplished both and with my #postyoga glow, I found myself rocking along out loud to the radio on the way home…I told you there’d be singing.

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An hour later, I was back in the car, this time all dressed up, heading to Chicago for our shower.  We were both super excited to ‘kick off’ the wedding season and to meet chef Stephanie Goldfarb who would be leading us in chopping lessons and along with her pastry chef preparing the most amazing meal!

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Appetizers were ready and bubbles poured before we started the demo.  These are the watermelon gazpacho shooters, tea infused quail eggs, and shrimp toasts.  Mmm!

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Our chefs Stephanie and Lucie Ann!

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We got an important lesson in chopping and then got to work making the most delicious pot stickers…learning all the tricks of the trade!

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The peanut sauce was possibly the best I’ve ever had, and I’m hoping to have recipes to make and share soon.  Everything we ate was amazing and I was full before lunch was over!  Everyone felt the same way, but we did save room for dessert!  Mexican hot chocolate mousse and shortbread custard fruit tarts…

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The guys arrived and presents were opened.  Our friends know us soo well as every gift was kitchen related.  The BOY got a gorgeous decanter and his smile was enormous when he opened up the deep fryer.

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The shower was so unique and personalized to us, which made the entire day extremely special!  We are super lucky to have the most amazing friends and family who are just as excited as we are to celebrate our upcoming wedding.  Including my bestie of almost 30 years (who is also the Matron of Honor)!

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The celebrations continued after the guests left as we cozied into the porch furniture for more bubbles and a cheese plate reminiscent of last weekend’s Happy Hour on the dock.  Same great crowd…same blue shirts : )

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Around 7pm, we made our way back to the kitchen for pot stickers part II.  This time, the ladies showed of their new cooking skills to the guys.

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We left around 9pm and taxied a few miles down the road to my brother and sister in laws new house. I wish I could tell you that we went straight to bed after the busy day, but instead we sat out back for drinks and cigars.  Despite my lack of sleep, I was up again early this morning, still excited from the previous day’s festivities.

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It was another beautiful day and I walked the 2 miles to the yoga studio where up I met up again with this crew…

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I was feeling pretty amazing until my first forward fold revealed that I had perhaps a few too many bubbles the night day before.  That feeling quickly passed as I got into the groove of one of the best yoga classes I’ve every taken in my life.  I’m not sure if it was the high of the weekend, being surrounded by my family and friends, the skill of the teacher, or the energy of the room.  I’m guessing that it was all of the above!

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Throughout class, I felt light, strong, and flexible and that feeling continued off the mat as walked down Southport appreciating the energy of the city.  I swung into Teavanna for an incredible tri colored drink and picked up empanadas for brunch.

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I arrived back at my brothers as everyone else was walking in.  Our hosts cooked eggs, bacon, and potatoes and my parents arms were filled with bagels and coffee.  It was the perfect ending to a spectacular weekend!  The BOY and I packed up all our new kitchen gadgets and goodies and drove back home to the suburbs.  Cooper was thrilled to see us, but perhaps more excited to explore all of the boxes and bags!

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The BOY and I did a much needed kitchen cleaning making room for all of our new toys!  And then lack of sleep caught up with us as we collapsed in the living room with a movie and Thai food delivery.  Wait until you see what we (almost) had for dessert…

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Our wedding will be here soon…let the countdown begin!!!

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Back

Heelllooo! 

We are BACK from our weekend in Wisconsin (aka #WisonsinWeekend Part 2).  This time, we had friends and family to share the time with, and it was the most wonderful getaway.

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I had plans to post and share a whole bunch late last week, but instead…well, I went out to dinner last Thursday night to celebrate.  What?  I’m sure you will ask!  Well, remember that BIG test that took over my life this past winter?  I passed it!  I was beyond thrilled to find out Thursday at lunch, and the BOY and I decided that a celebration was in order. 

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Friday, I made it through the work day and then my dad, the BOY and I drove up to Green Lake.  Everyone arrived around 10pm Friday night and bubbles were popped and discussions begun.  The rest of the weekend proceeded with the perfect mix of rest, laughter, real conversations, naps, water fun, and snacks.

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I had planned to bake a few things to take to the lake, like these peanut butter cookies, then my oven broke. I did blend up a double batch of my favorite travel treat…Cookie Dough Balls.

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Sunday, we got home late and Monday was one of those GO GO GO days.  I had a haircut, eye doctor appointment, wedding stuff, grocery shopping, and of course a trip to the gym to accomplish….you know that kind of day.  I did have time to stop for lunch at one of my favorite places…Mmm!

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The good news is that we did get our oven fixed that day, so baking will be BACK.  I do need to get BACK to reading blogs and catch up on what’s going on in your lives too!  And speaking of BACK…we got our engagement pics BACK this weekend!

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And I almost forgot to mention!  Kids yoga is BACK in action this Friday.  Woo Hoo!!!

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On a totally different note…remember back when I said I was in the city doing something secret?

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Well Alex and Brittany, from Dig Primal and Sparkle Kitchen respectively, invited me to speak on their Podcast.  I am big fans of their honesty and ideas and was thrilled to preach about discuss natural movement in babies and of course my kids yoga classes!  I haven’t listened to it yet, but had such a fun time meeting Alex and chatting about kids and nerdy stuff.  I hope you’ll take a listen and let me know what you think?!

 

What are you getting back to this week?

The List

For as long as I can remember, I’ve used lists to keep track of my life.

Currently, I am working through a never ending to do list of work, wedding, and home stuff.  Including that darn oil change I keep putting off!  Sometimes it feels like my Monday is a chaotic mix of doing the stuff I didn’t do all weekend and prepping for the week ahead.

Yesterday was supposed to be a ‘To Do List’ kind of day but instead it was a spend a fun day shopping with your mom kind of day.  As we were trying on outfits in the Loft dressing room, we decided that shopping was a much better way to spend the afternoon than wedding planning.

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Shopping with post yoga hair : )

Sunday morning, my mom came by to grab me and play with Cooper before heading out for an amazing and sweaty yoga class.  After yoga, she had a quick return at Crate and Barrel which is right next door to Whole Foods.  We chatted, sampled, and shopped before sitting down with a hodge podge picnic style lunch of WF goodies.

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We came back to my house for a quick shower and a little more Cooper love.  Plus, we brought lunch to the BOY.  Then we headed back out for more shopping.  I found some adorable dresses at the Loft and some hot new shoes to go with them.  By the time we arrived back at my house, we were both tired.  But had enough energy for me to give a little fashion show of newly purchased dresses (and the above modeled romper).  We decided that making a list of things that need to get done for the wedding was good enough planning for this weekend.  The BOY ordered pizza for dinner, and I made a colorful salad with smoked salmon.

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I slept 10 hours through the first set of huge storms that rolled in and then met my trainer for a super tough and sweaty workout Monday morning.  On my way home, I stopped by Target and struggled to lift my arms to reach the top shelves : )  I also went to the grocery store to fill our fridge.  When I got back home, I ate lunch and got going with dinner in the crockpot.

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First step…homemade peanut butter!  I couldn’t remember if I shared this recipe with you guys, so this may be a repeat, but I have learned that any Thai peanut dinners are better with the homemade stuff!

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Once my crockpot was up and running, I was back out the door for more errands (yes, I finally got my oil changed) and a bit more shopping.  Time flew by so quickly that at 5pm, I realized my stomach was growling and grabbed a snack from one of my fave places!

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I arrived back home, preheated the oven and started to pull together lunch for the week before the Hawks game. I also wanted to make some cookies with my leftover peanut butter.  My oven didn’t heat up real quick, and I tried to make the cookies anyways. 

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Needless to say, it took forever and I’m now convinced that my oven is broken…bummer!  Just another thing to add to my list.  Luckily, this week’s meal plan involves a lot of grilling.  I stuck with the cookies and they eventually got baked enough to eat…soft and tasty…the perfect kind of cookie!

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Dinner also turned out amazing and was a huge success!  And I realized that I did share the recipe with ya’ll…it’s HERE

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Last night ended with excitement watching the Blackhawks bring home the Stanley Cup in Chicago!  Note: add find awesome Stanley Cup shirt to To Do list!

 

Meal Planning 6/15/15

Monday: Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken

Tuesday: Sausages with Pasta/Zoodles

Wednesday: Ribs and Veggies

Thursday: Pork and Veggies

 

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

From Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy), preferable homemade
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (and cross your fingers that it actually heats up). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

Using an electric mixer, mix together the peanut butter, white sugar and egg until smooth.

Form dough into round tablespoons. Then roll in an extra bowl of sugar, if desired, to coat the outside of the dough ball. Place on the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, and then use a fork to flatten and form a cross pattern.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cookies are just slightly browned on the bottom, being careful not to over-bake. Remove and let cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Eat immediately or freeze!

Almost Summer Saturday

Hey There!  Happy Saturday! 

It is feeling more and more like summer, which always puts me in a GREAT mood!  And although I haven’t blogged about it, I’ve been busy!

Exercise Updates:

I had a highly successful week of exercise, including a Tuesday morning walk with the BOY and Thursday morning ab work after my run.  You’ll notice I had some competition for my yoga mat.

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This morning, I was psyched to go to (instead of teach) yoga!  It was a super humid class and we worked our way into birds of paradise.  Note: using a block is helpful but you will not master this pose with wicked tight hips.  Also note…you can still have a lot of fun with it.

 

Almost Summer Stuff

With the warm (almost) summer temps, brings crisp and delicious white wines.  I indulged twice this week (two more times than my typical work week).  Once during Wednesday night’s Hawks game with an awesome Cooper’s Hawk blend.  And then again Thursday during sushi night!

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Summer is also accompanied by No Bake summer recipes and So You Think You Can Dance!  Woo hoo!  After  yoga, I brought in Mediterranean for lunch and began watching the new season of SYTYCD as I worked my way through my never ending to do list. 

 

Recipes

We are having friends over for a BBQ tonight and keeping our fingers crossed that the weather stays nice.  The BOY is grilling up shrimp and calamari…Mmm!  I decided I wanted to make a tasty no bake dessert.

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I settled on a Twix Caramel Apple Salad (from Pinterest)!

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I adjusted the recipe a bit because I had almond milk instead of dairy milk, but I think it is just as tasty. 

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Cooper kept watch from his perch in the cabinet!

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Once dessert was settled in the fridge, I decided to make a banana bread with my brown bananas.  As always, I went searching for a new recipe to try.

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I made a slight mistake…adding in lemon extract thinking it was almond.  Oops! I was able to scoop the majority of it out.  But although the plan was to freeze this bread for next weekend, I wanted to sneak a taste to make sure it wasn’t too lemony.

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The lemon flavor was non existent and this bread was absolutely amazing!!!  It took a whole bunch of will power not to dig into the entire loaf : )

 

Saturday Night

Our BBQ was really fun! Our friends brought their almost 2 year old daughter and we were able to blow bubbles and draw with chalk outside before sitting down for some fantastic grilled seafood, roasted potatoes and savory salad.  Dessert was a big hit too!

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And now it’s time to settle in and watch the Blackhawk’s game.  The neighborhood is alive with energy, but unfortunately, I have a splitting headache, so I am missing out on the rest of the festivities.

 

What do you like about summer Saturdays?

 

Twix Caramel Apple Salad

Adapted Slightly From iSave AtoZ

Ingredients

  • 1 small package of instant Vanilla Pudding
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 small tub of whipping cream (I used TruWhip)
  • 1 package of TWIX Bites
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples
  • Optional: Caramel or Chocolate sauce

Directions

  1. Whisk together milk and pudding and then immediately add the tub of whipping cream in it before it sets. Don’t use the full amount of milk as the box says.
  2. Dice the TWIX Bites into halves.  Dice the Granny Smith apples.  Stir them into the pudding mixture, and mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Allow it to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Optional: Drizzle with Caramel or Chocolate sauce before serving it.

 

Best Banana Bread

From An Edible Mosaic

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • ⅓ cup plain low-fat yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract (NOT lemon!)
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  3. Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the banana, yogurt, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, and almond extract; beat until blended. Add the flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.
  4. Spoon batter into an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Not Enough Hours

I ran out of hours yesterday…not just to write a blog post but to do a few other important things, like get my oil changed.  Ugh! I dread car maintenance and more because of the time than the price.

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Monday morning’s breakfast was another variation of 2 Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes (this time I added in flax and pumpkin pie spice).  They were delicious!

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Then I hit the gym for a seriously intense strength session.  After Sunday’s double workout, I was feeling pretty good and proud of myself…that was until my trainer suggested jump squats: )

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I drove back home, windows down and blasting the Governor’s Ball on Alt Nation, where I scooped up the BOY for our weekly grocery store run.  Before we left, I whipped up a smoothie.

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Into the Blender

1 cup almond milk

1 apple

~1/2 cup beet juice

Handful of Spinach

Few ice cubes

 

I drank my refreshing smoothie as we wound our ways through the aisle of Mariano’s figuring out our meals for the week.  I planned to make curry for Monday night’s dinner using my new French curry powder.

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And planned to let the BOY grill up the rest of this week’s meals.  He ended up doing a lot of the work for the curry, for which I was grateful, as I scrambled around unpacking groceries, prepping lunch, and switching laundry.

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I planned to make a few adjustments to this recipe, but misread the instructions and added in the coconut milk right away.  I will leave the recipe as intended below but note that if you want to make it ahead or are feeling lazy, it works this way too.  I had about a million things running through my head but needed to shower and get out the door.  Meanwhile, my printer wasn’t working and the BOY required my assistance on a cover letter…leaving me to feel that there are just never enough hours in the day.

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I drove into Chicago, battling rush hour and Hawks traffic, for a neat opportunity that you will have to wait to hear about…Sorry Friends!  But there were clear streets and clear skies ahead when I flew back home to suburbia.

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The BOY had just dug into the curry and I was excited to try it.  I have to tell you that this veggie combo is awesome…I’ve never done cauliflower in the crockpot before, but I am a fan.  I think that the recipe could use a bit more spice, but I’m not exactly sure which one.  I had leftovers for lunch today with a a sweet potato and it totally hit the spot.

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I did stay up to watch the Hawks game but was pretty tired by that point, so most of my to do list didn’t get done (and might not until next weekend).  Because today was an extra long work day, which left me thinking…there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

 

What spice do you use in your curry?  Do you run out of hours?

 

Meal Planning 6/08/15

Monday: Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken Curry

Tuesday: Turkey Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Scallops (chef’s decision)

Thursday: Pork and Veggies

 

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken Curry

Adapted from Le Creme De La Crumb

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped

SAUCE

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or one 14-ounce can + ½ cup chicken broth)
  • 3 tablespoons yellow curry powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • optional: corn starch slurry (see note)

Directions

  1. Add chicken pieces, peppers, cauliflower, and onions to the slow cooker.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together chicken broth, curry powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper if using. Pour mixture into slow cooker and stir to coat chicken and veggies. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low 4-5 hours.
  3. About 10-15 minutes before serving, stir in coconut milk. Stir just before serving and top with cashews and freshly chopped cilantro.