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.

Meet Me at the Barre

I should start by confessing that I have been moving and thinking non stop for 12 hour and am thrilled to sit down, unwind, and blog a bit.  That being said, hang in there with me if I sound a bit loopy as I collect my thoughts : )

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This morning started with a wake up from Cooper, breakfast, and paperwork.  My abs were talking to me a bit after yesterday’s yoga class, which is always a good feeling.  Then I braved the cold to get my car emissions checked before my training session at the gym.  I was ready to go after missing last week’s session to work.   Afterwards, I grabbed my yoga mat and attended the 11am barre class.  Although I don’t typically double up on workouts, I have been wanting to try a barre class for a year or so.  My yoga studio just added them to their schedule…hooray!

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The class times don’t work great with my work schedule except for this one, so I had to check it out.  The class got started and we never stopped.  I was expecting a bit of warm up…maybe a stretch or two, but no.  We did lunges, plies, releves, and arm work.  And that was just the first 10 minutes.  After my strength session, I could barely lift my arms without the weights, but I hung in there.  And then we got to our glutes.  The glute series was brutal and my new friend next to me (who came from the yoga class) and I were laughing by the end because if not, I think I might have cried…ha ha!  And then we finished with core, which was phenomenal and 1 hour later, I was nothing shy of exhausted…but also exhilarated.  The class was REALLY fun!

By the time I arrived home, I was starving.  I had some leftover chicken for lunch on a salad, showered quickly, and then the BOY and I headed out to Costco and the grocery store.  I must say that we have fallen into an easy rhythm of meal planning, and I have fallen into the habit of letting him make dinners during the week.  A habit I could get used to!

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When we got home, we had enough time to unpack our groceries, love on Cooper, and pack up our bags for the library.  The BOY has been a trooper about coming with me while I study, and I find I am way more efficient outside of the house.  The other exciting thing (after 3 straight days at the library) is that I discovered that it has TONS of CD’s.  I have been borrowing some new age and kids music to update my yoga playlists.

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We came back home around 6:30pm and noshed on cheese, crackers, and apples while we started cooking dinner.  The BOY made some delicious shrimp to top our pasta and zoodles.

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I call this photo #couplesthatcooktogether.  Dinner turned out wonderful!  And I even have leftover shrimp for lunch tomorrow.

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Which brings me to now…finally a moment to sit and relax (in between folding laundry) and complain about my sore and tired muscles…ahh!  I had plans to bake these bars tonight, but crashed with some dark chocolate instead.  Life has been exhausting and busy lately.  It has occurred to me that for the next two months that is probably just how it will be…moving from one place to the next, cramming in study sessions where I can.  I’ll  definitely try to sneak in some good workouts (more barre please) and baking too!

 

Have you tried a barre class?  Any tips for beginners?

 

Meal Planning 1/26/15

Monday: Pasta/Zoodles and Shrimp

Tuesday: BBQ Pulled Pork

Wednesday: Chili Night

Thursday: Pork and Veggies

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

I Still Like Running

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Although you haven’t heard much about it, I am still running (finally outside now) and still just as in love with the sport as ever!  Yesterday morning, I ran outside along the path before work.  It was a little chilly (especially for May), but gorgeous and peaceful.  I ran a little over 2 miles and then turned around to come home.  Less than a mile in, I saw a deer grazing along the side of the path.  As I got closer, I expected her to dart, but instead she stopped eating and looked up and I stopped too.  We stared at each other for a while (I said ‘good morning’) before I crept along trying not to startle her for fear she’d run in my direction across the path.  Instead, she went back to eating grass and I started kicking myself for not having a camera.  What a lovely way to begin the day and how fun to be back along my path saying ‘good morning’ to the deer.

 

My first race of the season is a little late this year at the end of May.  For a few reasons, mostly schedule and weather, I have adjusted any expectations.  I typically like to try to beat my best time from previous years, but I haven’t trained at that level.  Also, the last two years, I did a half marathon in early May making 10 miles look easy.  This year, my longest run was 6 miles and it was pretty slow and rather steady.

 

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Cooper hunting his dinner…

 

Tonight, I would have loved to have gone for another run.  But the BOY and I had dinner making plans.  I had a slow day at work and walked in the door just as he was wrapping up his studying for the day.  He fired up the grill and I got started making the marinade for our shrimp and mango.  We didn’t have any spiced rum, so instead of buying a new bottle, I used Bacardi.

 

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I cut the recipe in half (because reheated shrimp isn’t my favorite and I have plenty of Crockpot Orange Chicken for lunch this week).

 

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This dinner made the perfect week night dinner because it really came together start to finish in about 40 minutes.  We struggled a little bit keeping the mango on the skewers, but in the end, the grilled mango was fantastic.

 

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The shrimp, too, was flavorful and fun!  Definitely tasty enough to serve at your next gathering but easy enough to become a weeknight summer staple. 

 

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I’m so excited that I made the first of my cookbook recipes this week.  I found this one in Great Food Fast by Everyday Food.  Grilled mango may be our new summer dessert!

 

 

Rum Glazed Shrimp and Mango

From Martha Stewart

Everyday Food July/August 2005

 

Ingredients

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice plus 1 tablespoon (3 limes)

1/4 cup dark rum

3 tablespoons dark-brown sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated, peeled fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

32 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tail on)

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 ripe but firm mango, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 8 slivers, each about 1 inch thick

2 tablespoons vegetable oil for grates

 

Directions

Make glaze: In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup lime juice, rum, sugar, and ginger; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water; stir into lime-juice mixture. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat; let cool.

Thread shrimp onto 8 skewers, using 4 shrimp per skewer. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Thread mango slivers onto 4 skewers, using 2 pieces per skewer. Brush shrimp and mango all over with glaze.

Heat grill to medium-high; oil grates. Place shrimp and mango skewers on grill; cook, turning once, until blackened in spots and shrimp are opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes.

Serve with rice or green veggies.

Pinterest Planning

So I am getting the hang of Pinterest (you may have seen me poking around on your sites) and although I still have some questions (which if I bump into you I will ask you…just ask Tracey who went running with me yesterday!), I was able to pull together this week’s meal plan based on some of my new recipe finds.  Despite being highly distracted by all of the mouth watering desserts, I managed to pin some healthy and tasty looking dinner options as well.  All of my hard work last weekend paid off with easy week night meals, so I was motivated to do it again during the Bear’s game today.

 

Meal Plan 10/06/13

Sunday: Coconut Crusted Tilapia with homemade mashed potatoes

 

Monday: Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken

 

Tuesday: Leftovers

 

Wednesday: The BOY’s Grill Night

 

Thursday: Greek Turkey Meatballs 

 

And Because it is National Cookie Month

And I am yet to bake anything pumpkin flavored…

I am also making…

Soft and Puffy Pumpkin Spice Honey Cookies

from Averie Cooks

 

This afternoon, I lit a pumpkin spice candle, opened up all of our doors and windows, and split my time between the kitchen making food for the week and the couch watching the Bears game.

 

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Our dinner was really simple and turned out fantastic!

 

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I made mashed potatoes for the BOY and a mashed sweet potato and parsnip mix for myself.  Since I did all of the cooking, the BOY is in charge of clean up and I can sit down with my feet up and relax a bit…with a cookie of course!

Hope you had a nice weekend!

What are you planning to eat for the week ahead?

 

 

Coconut Crusted Tilapia

Adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff

Ingredients

3 Pieces of Tilapia (about 1 pound)

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup Sea Salt and Pepper Triscuits, crushed

2 egg whites, whisked lightly

olive oil spray

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place foil baking sheet and spray with non stick spray.

Combine coconut flakes and crushed crackers in a bowl. Put egg whites in another bowl.  Whisk gently.

Dip the Tilapia in the egg, then in the coconut crumb mixture. Then place them on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until Tilapia is done.

And I Made Dinner!

With a busy last week, the BOY stepped up having dinner ready most nights.

Now that he starts school tomorrow, it’s my turn to make some dinners.  We had a wonderful weekend with our close friend’s in town, but I was left Sunday with a bad cold/cough.  I knew it was coming as I’ve been pretty healthy ALL year.  I dosed myself with some Musinex (a personal favorite) and tried to drink as much water as possible.  I also needed some naps with Cooper.

 

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I dragged myself out of the house for a walk (I haven’t exercised since Friday’s long run) and a trip to the grocery store.  I found an easy and healthy recipe for dinner that looked promising.  I put Tuesday’s dinner into the crockpot and got started on the jambalaya.

 

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Since we are having chicken later in the week, I left that out of the original recipe and used a little more turkey sausage and shrimp.

 

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Confession: I have no idea how to make foil packets and ended up with two very different configurations.

 

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Which made this meal seem a whole lot more difficult than I expected.  When it came time to check my rice, I was nervous, but it was done.  But not all of my sausage pieces were cooked through.  I put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes, which did the trick.

 

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The spices in this dish are super, and the BOY told me that he definitely wants me to make the recipe again!

 

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We devoured it quickly, and I have some leftover for lunch tomorrow!

 

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This is a great easy week day meal to add to your list.

 

 

Meal Plan 8/18/13

 

Sunday: Cajun Jambalaya

 

Monday: Clean Peanutty Thai Chicken

 

Tuesday: Leftovers

 

Wednesday: Out

 

Thursday: Mediterranean Grilled Chicken

 

 

Cajun Jambalaya

From Clean Eating Magazine

Makes 6 Servings

 

Ingredients

1/2 lb raw shrimp, 26/30 size, peeled and deveined, tail on

4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1-inch pieces

1 all-natural low-sodium turkey sausage, sliced

1/2 medium white onion, diced

1 medium green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed and discarded, diced

1 rib celery, diced

1 handful of cherry tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp salt-free Cajun seasoning

1 cup all-natural instant brown rice

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Olive oil cooking spray

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large mixing bowl, toss together all ingredients except cooking spray, mixing well until combined.

Prepare 2 foil pouches. Spray each piece of foil with cooking spray. Divide mixture evenly among both pieces of foil and seal.

Place pouches on a baking tray and slide onto middle rack of preheated oven for 25 minutes or until rice and proteins are fully cooked. (NOTE: When cooked, rice will be soft and proteins will be firm and opaque.) To test for doneness, carefully open 1 pouch and taste a few grains of rice from the center of the pouch. If necessary, close pouch and return to oven for 5 more minutes.

Carefully open pouch and pour mixture into a large serving bowl; serve immediately.

DC Part 2: …And Sucked as a Marathoner

If you missed Door County Part 1, you can catch up HERE!

 

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So obviously marathoners are supposed to run, which I did very little of, but I must also admit that although beer and cheese aren’t normally a big part of my diet, they were this weekend!  It started early on our way up to Door County with a stop at Kopp’s in Milwaukee.

 

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I’m not usually a big fan of frozen custard, but everyone raves around Kopp’s, so I had to try it.  And it was every bit more amazing than I could have imagined!  I finished half of the turtle custard before the BOY was done with his burger.

 

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With full and happy tummies, we got back on the road for Door County.  We checked into our hotel and then drove up north to Sister Bay for Friday Night Fish Fry.  This is a common theme in Wisconsin and one worth participating in!  In the past, the BOY and I have not been up in DC on Fridays, so this was exciting.

 

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I remembered from years past that the Sister Bay Bowl has the best fish fry in the county.  By 5:30, there was already a 45 minute wait, so we walked across the street to Husby’s for a Happy Hour beer.

 

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For dinner, we both agreed on the fried perch, which came with fries and a slaw.

 

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The breading was light and the perch every bit as wonderful as I remember!  We even considered ordering another plate to share but instead made our way back to Fish Creek.  On the way, we caught a beautiful sunset, which I tried to photo from the moving car.

 

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The night was young, so our next stop was the tavern for some New Glarus on tap.  What a treat!

 

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I’m talking specifically about the beer, but the entire day was full of them!  Day 2 started with a bike ride and then it was off to the winery for a tasting.

 

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It’s 5:00 somewhere!!!

 

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After our tasting, we decided to sit out back listening to live music with some wine.

 

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And an antipasto plate!  Everything on the plate was local, fresh, and incredible!  The BOY and I devoured the entire thing!

 

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Then went back home for a nap.  When we woke up, it had rained and there was a full rainbow that we could see from our porch.  It was soo cool!

 

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The next day involved a run and some hiking, which was followed by a an amazing meal at our favorite restaurant, Wild Tomato!

 

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You might remember it from last year’s post Will Hike For Pizza!

 

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I should also tell you that Wild Tomato has a fantastic beer list,  including a new local brew from Door County Brewing Company called Little Sister that is my new favorite beer!  I brought home a trunk full : )

 

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I should probably also confess that we returned to Wild Tomato for a second meal of pizza and beer on our last day. 

 

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Embarrassing, but true!

 

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So as you can see…my weekend was a little more beer, biking, and cheese than marathon prep (oh and did I mention the dark chocolate covered cherries?!), but totally worth it! 

 

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Between the food, relaxation, outdoor activities, and sunsets, the BOY and I always have the BEST vacation up in Door County!

Which is why I’ve decided to title Door County Part 3: Why I Heart Door County…although it probably should be called,”How I returned to reality, stopped drinking beer, woke up early, and became a marathoner again!”    LOL : )