The Perfect Monday!

So I’ve alluded to some excitement in our household, and now I will share the news….the BOY started a new job on Monday!!!  We are super excited and last minute got to celebrate the day together!

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I mentioned that I had to work on Monday.  My morning was busy, but my afternoon empty (the kids are all on spring break!).  So last minute, I took a half day and decided to spend the afternoon in the sunshine with my hubby.

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He arrived home right after I did and I made him pose for a ‘First Day of Work’ picture, which he forbid me to post!

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We went for a walk as I heard all of the details of his first half day of orientation.

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Then we drove over to the DQ for blizzards.  He got the new Grasshopper blizzard, which he described as Dairy Queen’s way of showing how a Shamrock Shake should be done…ouch!  I agreed!  It was amazing! And I got a peanut butter cookie blizzard which I easily inhaled.  We returned back home to snuggle up and watch the Mockingjay Part II.  No computers or housework, just sitting and watching a movie.  It was such a treat!  Cooper wasn’t exactly sure what to do with us home for the day, but he enjoyed all of the love and attention that he could get!

 

Sharing my passion for yoga with kids

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Celebrating the excitement of my husband’s first day of work with him

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Dairy Queen with two lactaid pills

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The Perfect Monday!

Savasana Then Easter Bunny

Holla!

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Meant to have this post to you last night, but after two non stop days, I crashed Sunday night with a mild tension headache.  Would have much rather been watching basketball and blogging, but had to get ready for the day ahead (I worked today!) which included a 6am yoga class and then I taught a 90 minute spring break yoga workshop for kids.

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Had a super busy weekend. Spent Saturday running from here to there putting on a good 100 miles on my car, but all totally worth it for a facial, refreshing new haircut, lunch with my P’s, and dinner with two of my favorite girls!

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Sunday morning, I was up before my alarm and the BOY made us a tasty Easter breakfast.  I met my mom for a hot yoga class (realizing that short hair means creative yoga hair).  The class was inspiring, one of my favorite teachers talked about shedding our winter self, the past, and pieces no longer needed and opening to the beautiful opportunities ahead.  It was also REALLY tough and REALLY hot!  Hence our pink, pink cheeks!

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Afterwards, we definitely deserved a Starbucks, so we scooped up the BOY and made our way to the new store by our house.  I had a free drink which meant a ginormous drink…Mmm!  Afterwards the 3 of us did our weekly grocery store run.  My mom dropped us off at home where we made lunch and spent the afternoon cleaning and getting organized.

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For me, this meant a weeknight dinner in the crockpot and busting out the rice cooker.  I planned to also do another crockpot recipe but didn’t get my timing right before we had to run out the door for dinner with the BOY’s family.  Instead, I put all the ingredients into a ziploc and figured one of us could get it into the crockpot when we get home this week.

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Which is exactly what we did today!  The pictures aren’t anything glamorous, but the recipe is so amazing that it is worth sharing!  I didn’t eat a huge dinner because I had BIG DQ blizzard instead…more to come about that…but the BOY dug right in and said that it might be the best peanut chicken I’ve made!

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Everything this week is turning up yoga…This morning, I did a 6am class before work and then taught an enthusiastic group of kids a spring break workshop.  And later this week, I am attending a yoga event in the city!

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How was your Easter?

Whatcha eating this week?

Meal Planning 3/28/16

Monday: Slow Cooker Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken Bowls

Wednesday: Tilapia and Veggies

Thursday: Dinner in the City (for me!)

 

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce

From Five Heart Home

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste)
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts, for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • Rice, rice noodles, or lettuce leaves, for serving

Directions

  1. Arrange chicken breasts in the bottom of a large slow cooker. In a medium bowl, stir together coconut milk, peanut butter, garlic, honey, soy sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, and red pepper flakes; mix until (mostly) smooth. Pour over chicken.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours, or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours (or until chicken is tender but not overcooked, depending on the strength of your slow cooker). Reduce slow cooker temperature to WARM. Remove chicken from slow cooker, cut into chunks, and shred. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker to allow it to absorb sauce and heat through.
  3. Serve chicken and sauce over cooked white or brown rice, cooked rice noodles, or stuffed inside large lettuce leaves, as wraps. Garnish with chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, and additional red pepper flakes, if desired.

NOTE: You can mix chicken and sauce ahead of time in a bag to place in your crockpot at a later time.

Brackets and Bars

It has been a bit of an odd week!  The time change, full moon, and impending spring break have had the kids (my patients) in a mood!  In our house, Cooper has been falling asleep in my arms each night, and the BOY has been super busy at work.

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Basketball has returned (my bracket has my cortisol levels rising!) and so have the energy bites.  Except this week, we are leaving the world of bites and bringing on the bars!

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A healthier option than the amazing Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies, I made earlier this week, both the BOY and I have been chowing down on these bars!  Ok, we have been devouring the brownies too : )

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With the ingredients as written, my bars didn’t come together into a dough.  Luckily, I am no rookie when it comes to these things, and so I knew that I could add honey, agave, or maple syrup.  I went the syrup route and my bars pulled together quickly.

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I tell you this in case you have the same problem when you make them, and I highly recommend that you do!

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I love the mixture of coconut and almond butter, and they will power you through even the craziest of days…don’t ask me how I know this!  Thankfully, I got out of work early on Wednesday and instead of going home to clean my house and do responsible adult stuff, I went to a hot yoga class.

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It was a new-to-me instructor, and the class was absolutely incredible!  None of my bracket teams are winning by enough tonight for me to sleep sound, but I might as well give it a try since I have an early morning of work tomorrow.  Looking for more ‘raw’ recipes, check out my very busy Pinterest board!

Do you have a favorite raw recipe?

Who are you cheering for in the NCAA tournament?

Almond Coconut Energy Bars

From My Sequined Life

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of whole pitted dates (approx. 12 dates)
  • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter 
  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • Maple Syrup (if needed)

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend for one to two minutes, or until everything is evenly combined and just about smooth. You may still have little crunchy pieces of almonds remaining.   If a dough does not form, then add in maple syrup (or another sticky ingredient like honey) and continue to process.
  2. Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan (or a small dish) with parchment paper or cooking spray and press bar mixture evenly into about half of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes so the mixture sets. Once chilled, cut into bars and store in the fridge

I Cheated {But Only a Little!}

So…since I got that confession out of the way, I can dive right into this recipe!

A dessert recipe on Monday…what a treat!

Along with my weekly meal plan, I was in the mood to do a bit of baking today.  However, I had a super busy day of car maintenance (no my sideview mirror is still not attached) and phone calls (still finishing off that name change).  After an incredible 5 mile run along the path this morning, of course!

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I did an afternoon run to the grocery store and returned home to get ready for the week ahead.  I feel like I need a new hashtag…meal planning Monday!  And as my Insta friends saw…this week included a glass of spring inspired white wine.

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So back to the cheating part, I wanted to make these amazing brownies, but I didn’t have the time to make the brownies from scratch, so I just bought a box of rich and delicious brownies. 

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I followed the instructions on the box and with the brownie batter done (and sampled), I got to work on the peanut butter cookies.

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There was way more peanut butter dough than I expected, so I tried to use as much as possible knowing that I would devour anything left over.  Which is exactly what I did!

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Sadly, my oven seems to be a bit sluggish, so I had to bake the brownies longer than written.  I am hoping the middle is set, but if not, I do still love some gooey, under cooked, brownie dough!

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This brownie is a guilty pleasure, which I devoured while catching up on my other guilty pleasure, Scandal.

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The BOY is working late tonight, and I’m confident that he will be thrilled to return home to one of his favorite (and truly everybody’s favorite) combos…chocolate and peanut butter!

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I probably don’t even need to tell him that I cheated…right?!  Shh…you won’t tell!

 

What is your favorite box mix recipe?

 

Meal Planning 3/21/16

Monday: Island Pork Tenderloin

Tuesday: Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Wednesday: Turkey Tacos

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Out to Eat

 

Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies

From Lovely Little Kitchen

Ingredients

FOR THE BROWNIES (if you don’t want to use a box)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

FOR THE COOKIE

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a 9 by 9 inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper, leaving excess hanging over the sides for easy removal later.

BROWNIE BATTER

  1. In a small pan over medium heat, melt butter and stir in sugar.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Stir the butter, sugar and eggs into the dry ingredients until just mixed. A few lumps are okay.
  4. Pour the brownie batter into the pan and set aside.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE DOUGH

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable oil and sugar. Then add the egg, vanilla extract, and peanut butter and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt and then add to the wet ingredients to form a dough.
  3. Drop tablespoon sized scoops of peanut butter cookie dough onto the brownie batter.
  4. Bake for 27-30 minutes, then cool completely before cutting into bars.

Welcome Spring!!!

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I finally got around to making these protein balls last week, but never got around to sharing the awesome recipe. 

Note: You will want to make a double batch of this recipe because it is awesome but the servings are NOT plentiful enough!

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Saturday morning, I was up again early and at the gym.  I had another kick butt workout, making it my 5th of the week (way to go on that March goal!).  Then it was a quick change and off to my last yoga class of the session.  The kids were really energetic and fun and dove right into all of the partner work and poses.

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I stayed a little after to fill in our life size bracket hanging on the wall in the gym.  From there, it was back home where the BOY scooped me up for lunch and shopping.  Believe me when I say that I was MORE surprised when the BOY wanted to go to the mall for updated work clothes than I was last weekend when he wanted to clean : )

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We had a successful trip to Nordstrom and arrived back home minutes after the Indiana/Kentucky game started.  We watched on the edge of our seats as Indiana pulled away to make it to the Sweet Sixteen.  Saturday night, we had dinner with my bestie, her hubs, and two amazing kids!  I dove right into the play dough while the BOY initiated a pre-bed time sword fight.

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Sunday morning was a unique treat!  We set no alarm and I didn’t have anything on my schedule until 2:30pm!!  I woke up around 8:30am feeling refreshed.  I ate a bite of breakfast (with my espresso) and drove off in the sunshine to the yoga studio for a hot flow class. 

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On the way, I realized I forgot my water bottle.  Luckily, there is a Walgreens in the parking lot of the studio, so I was able to quickly grab a Smartwater.  When I arrived, the room was PACKED!  I was able to find a small piece of real estate in the front row (not my favorite).  It occurred to me as I transitioned to my mat that this was a PERFECT example of finding peace in the present moment.  The front row is tough because it is up against the wall. I find it harder to balance that close to the wall, and I am more self conscious about my movement with other bodies close by.

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But the benefit of being that close to the wall is easily transitioning from standing splits to handstand with the support and confidence boost of the wall, which is exactly what I did a few times this morning.  Slowly working off the wall as I practiced my strength and balance on two hands.  Our teacher continued to remind us to embrace the awakening of spring as we moved through tough transitions in the hot room.  The morning class was a sweaty one and no one (including me) moved quickly out of savasana, like we usually do, taking the time to cool down before arising from our mats and refilling our water bottles.

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I changed out of my wet clothes for a lunch time trip to Whole Foods.  The BOY requested a sandwich and I ended up with a Whole Foods Hodge Podge (basically what happens at the whole foods salad bar when you are starving after hot yoga!).  I had big plans to glue my side view mirror on, but realized that it was going to take an hour, which I didn’t have.  Instead, I drove my car into the city, carefully merging at all times, to hang out with a friend/old coworker of mine.  We walked throughout the city, making a special stop at the Family Matters house, which she just discovered was in her neighborhood (and I just learned was in Chicago).

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We had coffee and walked some more, swinging by Athleta to scope our the scale items.  On our walk, we caught up on life while appreciating the sunshine on this first day of spring!  I left the city a little before 6pm with plans to swing by the grocery store to pick up my dinner (which I forgot that morning at WF) since the BOY had dinner plans with a friend.  I was also hoping to be home before dark since along with a busted mirror, I also seem to have a head light out on my car.  Ugh!  I will definitely be doing some car maintenance tomorrow!

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I made salmon and brussel sprouts for dinner with a glass of crisp white wine, while watching tonight’s March Madness games.  I was feeling torn between cheering on the Big Ten (out of support for the conference) and Xavier, out of support for my ailing bracket and loved all the close games and over times!

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And that’s a wrap for my weekend (and start to spring), which means that I really should tell you more about these protein balls.  The original recipe calls for cranberries, so feel free to go that route.  I actually had cherries in the house, so decided to use those along with a scoop of protein powder for some added flavor and muscle building goodness.

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Like I mentioned way back at the start of this post, these energy balls are fantastic and well worth doubling the recipe.  They make the perfect afternoon pick me up and even the BOY has enjoyed taking these energy balls as a snack to the office.

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How did you start spring?

Any famous TV landmarks in your town?

 

Cherry Vanilla Protein Bites

Adapted From Recipe Runner (makes 9 large energy balls***)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup chopped medjool dates, about 6-7 dates
  • 2 tbsp vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt (optional)

***I would recommend doubling if you have the room in your food processor!

Directions

  1. In a high speed blender or food processor add the cashews and almonds and pulse until they are finely ground, careful not to turn them into nut butter.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and blend or pulse until everything starts to come together.
  3. Scrape down the sides several times and add up to 2 tablespoons of water.
  4. Form into balls, rolling between your hands.
  5. Store the energy bites in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Peace in the Present

I didn’t take any pictures of my Friday night Yin and Mediation class, so you’ll have to deal with some old recycled yoga pics in this post.

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We have had a lot of changes and excitement in our household (and no we’re not expecting…because I know that’s what you were thinking.  We did consider adopting a new kitty, but realized that might not work for our spoiled ‘only child’ Cooper).  So now that we got that off the table…ha ha!  Change is always tough but from it comes growth. In our case, there has been a lot of good change…a marriage, new name, and big opportunities.  Exciting!!!

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But change, even exciting change, requires patience as all of the pieces slowly (and often in terrible order) come together.  Enter, my sleepless not as full of sleep nights.  Thursday was another one and interestingly all of my dreams were work related.  Friday morning, I was awake early for a group class.  I figured since I wasn’t working and my continuing ed course started later, I should take advantage of the 6am Friday strength class.

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The class was fun and a good way to start the day which was spent sitting (and sneaking peaks at basketball scores).  I was learning too!  After class, I met my SIL for dinner down the street from the yoga studio.

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We ate tasty Mediterranean and then drove down to the studio for a 2 hour yin yoga and singing bowl meditation class.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but knew I needed help quieting my mind and finding relaxation.  As the instructor guided us through setting our intention, I struggled to put into words what I was looking for.  And then it came to me.  We are in the center of a time of change surrounded by chaos and unknown.  And we will probably be here for a little bit as all of the details of this next chapter get sorted out.  So what I need, right now, is to be able to be comfortable with our present situation.  I need to find peace (and the positive) in the present!

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The teacher had me hooked from the start when she rubbed lavender oil on my ears leaving a drop on my forehead.  For the next 90 minutes, I struggled to keep my mind from wandering into the future, but brought myself back to my mat with the mantra ‘Peace in the Present’.  I kept reminding myself that I can be flexible on and off my mat (neither of which comes easy for me…unless of course I’m floating in a pool during happy hour).

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We moved through multiple restorative positions guided by the principles of yin, minimal muscle activation, long holds, and stillness.  After 90 minutes, we relaxed into our final savasana with the vibrations of the singing bowls (which I LOVE).  By this point, I was so relaxed that I fell asleep (and according to my SIL snored gently).

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The class was amazing and exactly what I needed to tune into the numerous positives in my life and a reminder to find the fun amongst the current chaos.  I can do that!  I slept beautifully last night and awoke ready for a super busy Saturday ahead!

 

How do you find peace in the midst of change?

Have you tried yin yoga?

If I Were Telling You About My Day…

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It would start with some yoga.  Not tropical paradise yoga as pictured above, but sweaty studio hot yoga.  I didn’t sleep so great last night, my monkey mind was running wild, and I struggled to stay focused throughout this morning’s challenging class as well.  In the end, I worked hard to stay present but left feeling grounded and empowered.  I love starting my day on my mat!

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I got to go into work a little later than usual and had planned to spend the extra hour enjoying a latte at Starbucks.  When I got home, I realized that I also had time to prep tonight’s dinner (meatloaf in my new meatloaf pan), so I would just have to bake it when I got home at night.  This meant that I wouldn’t have time to do my hair, so I sacrificed my hair for dinner.  I am in desperate need for a cut so I ended up with a ‘crazy hair…don’t care’ situation!

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I cut a few corners with the meatloaf recipe form SkinnyTaste, but kept it as written below. In case you are short on time, just know that you can use Oregano instead of Marjoram and you don’t NEED to sauté your onions (although it will be a bit different).

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With dinner ready to go in the fridge, I drove over to Starbucks with my book, brackets, and a gift card.  I ordered a ginormo latte while I picked a few teams and then dove into my book.  What a fun way to start the day!

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My work day was fairly typical…you know…just working!  However, on my way home I was chatting with my best friend when I changed my mind about parking in the garage.  I switched into reverse looked right, looked left, looked right, looked left and BAM! off went my right side mirror.  Oopps!  I was pretty bummed but what can you do?!

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Objects in mirror are sadder than they appear.  Cooper is just sad because he hadn’t eaten dinner yet : )  I should probably clean my mirror before reattaching it tonight.  The BOY arrived home not too much later with a treat to cheer me up.  It’s tradition to have at least one Shamrock Shake every March!

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Meanwhile, I put dinner in the oven with some roasted cauliflower and made another batch of energy bites.

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Yea, it was just that kind of day!  So my meatloaf turned out amazing!  Let’s just hope we can say the same for my bracket…ha ha!

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We ate dinner after our shakes and are currently debating if we should watch the play in basketball games or a movie.  My vote is Spy with Melissa McCarthy!

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Okay, now to end my day, I have to finish my bracket and find some duck tape to reattach my car mirror.  And maybe try to relax, just a bit.

Tell me about your day…

 

Turkey Meatloaf

From SkinnyTaste

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1.3 lb 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1/4-1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp marjoram (or oregano)
  • salt to taste

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl combine 2 tbsp ketchup with worcestershire sauce.
    Sauté olive oil and onion on low until translucent, remove from heat.  In a medium bowl mix turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, egg, 1/4 cup ketchup, salt and marjoram. Place mixture into a loaf pan or shape into a loaf and place on a baking pan. Spoon sauce on top.
    Bake uncovered for 55-60 minutes, remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing.