Jalapeno Mac and Cheese {and Life Updates}

You have to know that I made this recipe super simple and totally skimped on the cheese (I went generic), and it still turned out extremely flavorful and fulfilling!

IMG_20170106_190625554

I feel like that is definitely saying something!!!

Last week, I got back to the cookbooks and back into the kitchen and it was glorious!

IMG_20170106_101500519_HDR

Let me tell you that life has been packed full and fun, but the BOY and I have also enjoyed our down time sitting in front of the fire.  Friday night, we watched an episode of Sherlock without doing anything else…no computers, no wine or popcorn, just lights off snuggled up with Cooper enjoying the quirky show’s start of the season.

Speaking of starts, how are you adjusting to the start of the new year???

We had the most incredible New Years Eve weekend in Wisconsin with a couple of couples, two dogs, and a baby.  We cooked meals, played games, went for walks, and rang in 2017 with tons of enthusiasm and joy. 

IMG_20170101_142702719

I can’t say that I could ask for a better way to start the year.  I have a bunch of goals/plans/ideas for 2017 but I feel like I am still wrapping my head around the quick finish to 2016 and all of the changes that came our way.

IMG_20170107_073252428_HDR

For the most part, we are settled.  We love our new place (that we are renting) and our neighborhood.  Like I said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a wine bar, yoga studio, and coffee shop directly across the street. I am working two newish jobs and both are going well along with treating some private clients and teaching private yoga sessions.  All in all, work is time consuming and fulfilling.

IMG_20161217_102039471_HDR

Since the weather got COLD COLD COLD, I have been taking the workouts indoors.  The BOY and I were doing some personal training at the end of last year, but taking a (hopefully quick) break from it right now.  I am exploring and growing on my yoga mat and meeting friends at the barre for a totally different workout.  With an evolving schedule, finding time for workouts and self care has been tough, but I think I found my stride.

IMG_20170107_074420007_HDR

I am teaching a bunch of kids yoga and working HARD to find some consistent adult classes in the city.  We are meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends.  For the most part, Cooper is settling in to his new home. I think he misses the stairs (we’ve caught him trying to sneak out our door for the stairs a few times), but loves finding new places to hide (ie his new Amazon box) and continues to try to eat everything.

IMG_20170114_124051691

The BOY won the commute lottery and living this close to work has been great for him. He also loves that any kind of food he wants can be delivered to our front door by Eat24, Amazon, or anyone else delivering Thai, Mediterranean, or Chicago style pizza.  A day doesn’t go by where he hasn’t found a new restaurant in the neighborhood that we HAVE to try.

IMG_20161223_182206557

Which brings us back to the food.  In attempt to be fiscally and waist line responsible, we have been cooking in a bunch this month and eating out less.  In an attempt to make this process less painful, I decided to make a feast last week.  This Mac N Cheese recipe seemed like the perfect hearty food for a cold Friday night and for protein, we whipped up a batch of Clean Meatballs.

IMG_20170106_190707945

This mac n cheese recipe was easy and low fuss but the flavor was fantastic!  And I promise it wasn’t too spicy!  The meatballs were random but pretty amazing!  Even the BOY was talking about how much he liked them. 

IMG_20170106_194959048

Friday night, I ate mine with a side of Mac N Cheese, but Saturday leftovers were all about the spaghetti squash.

IMG_20170107_150537074

This week, we made Clean Sloppy Joe’s and Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork!  Our meal plan is looking even better with a bottle of Cooper’s Hawk wine : )

IMG_20170116_193717617_HDR

What are your 2017 goals???  Any life updates???

Spicy Mac and Cheese

From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese
  • 1 lb penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (I used crusty bread in the food processor)
  • Vegetable oil or Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and add onion, garlic, cumin, and coriander.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, or until onion is soft.  Mix in the flour, and cook mixture over moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Using a wire whisk, slowly incorporate the milk into the onion mixture until the flour and milk are blended.  Bring this to a boil, lower the heat to simmer and stir in the jalapeno pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and tomatoes with their juice.  Simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mozzarella, cheddar, and Swiss cheese, blending until well mixed.  Combine the sauce and cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl.  Place the sauced pasta in a 9 inch greased baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix the parmesan cheese with the bread crumbs.  Sprinkle the cheese and bread crumb topping over the pasta. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.

 

Turkey Meatballs
The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey or chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 T. fresh basil, finely chopped
2 T. fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, place egg and breadcrumbs or oat bran.  Add spices and mix well.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Using an ice cream scoop make meatballs and place on prepared cookie sheet.  Place in hot oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

I Don’t Know the Last Time…

I spent time in my kitchen cooking, baking, and then cooking some more.

IMG_20170106_155614784

Bet you thought I was going to say blogging…

I guess you were right too!

IMG_20161231_083244513_HDR

So, where have I been? Well…it’s a pretty long list!

 

Champaign for Christmas

IMG_20161225_192735685_HDR

Yoga Six

Working

Mariano’s

Wisconsin for New Years

IMG_20161231_175921288

Attempting Barre

Reading

Drinking Bubbles

Doing yoga on the Sky Deck

IMG_20170107_080109554_HDR

Meeting Friends at Begyle Brewery

Baking Banana Bread

Teaching Kids Yoga

Taking Pics with the World Series Trophy

Rockclimbing

IMG_20170104_201841893

Cuddling with Cooper

Meal Planning

Traveling to DC

IMG_20161210_190801

 

Told you it was a long list : )  Did I mention that it was also a fun one!

So here I am back at the blogging with Cooper on my lap and I’ve got some recipes for you. 

IMG_20161120_153943497

Last Friday, after a busy morning, I decided to spend a bit of time in my kitchen.  Isn’t the whole point of having this awesome kitchen actually using it?

IMG_20170106_101500519_HDR

The more challenging problem has been coming up with some down time to sit, type, and share all the amazing recipes with you.  With some help from impromptu house guests (my mom and dad), I made meatballs, jalapeno mac n cheese, Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip, and the most incredible Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars.

IMG_20170106_160800830_HDR

I was a bit worried about the looks of these bars, but looks can be deceiving!

IMG_20170106_163354805

These bars are absolutely delicious!

IMG_20170106_170756861

And were met with rave reviews from everyone who tried them!

IMG_20170106_170804158

Of course, I went dessert first, but I should also share with you the recipe I found in the Whole Foods Market Cookbook for Jalapeno Mac N Cheese.  And I will…just not tonight because I have to run.  We’ve got Saturday night dinner plans with friends (and I am bringing these oldie but goodie salad…Mmm!)

IMG_20161230_150146039

What are you cooking and baking this winter???

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

From Mom Endeavors

Ingredients

  • ½ C butter
  • ½ C brown sugar
  • ⅓ C peanut butter
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 C oatmeal
  • ¼ tsp salt

Frosting

  • 1 C chocolate chips
  • ½ C powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tbsp milk
  • ½ C peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix sugars, egg, and butters.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and oatmeal.
  4. Spread mixture into a 9×13 pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. While that bakes, prepare the frosting (mix together the powdered sugar, milk, and peanut butter).
  6. Remove pan from oven and while hot, sprinkle with chocolate chips. When melted, swirl with the frosting.
  7. Enjoy!

I’ve Got a Good One For You…

But don’t’ be mad at me!

Although I am sharing a recipe, it is neither hearty nor healthy but instead a sinfully delicious dessert!  I probably should have stared with a confession…I LOVE cake batter and could binge on it all day long!  Okay, maybe not super surprising based on the amount of cake mix recipes this blog has on it, but still not easy to say type out loud.

Life for the BOY, Cooper, and I continues to be super busy and super amazing!!!

IMG_20161109_190436049

Cooper love all the city has to offer, especially the food.

IMG_20161113_091508108

Here he is attempting to hone in on our biscuits from Bang Bang!

IMG_20161113_091358785_HDR

The BOY is also adjusting well to city life.  Last weekend, we celebrating his birthday with dinner at Bavette’s followed by cocktails at Band of Bohemia.

IMG_20161112_195228998

This past week, the weather was incredible and I took full advantage by biking to work on Thursday.

IMG_20161117_075855240

It takes a lot of planning, but is totally worth it!  I am thankful to have a job where you can show up and work in your ‘active ware’ straight off your bike.  This Thursday, we did a work potluck.  Although I signed up for an ap, I was craving something sweet and happy.

IMG_20161116_210130078

Wednesday night, I walked over to Mariano’s and came back with the ingredients to make one of the many Cake Batter Dips on my Pinterest board.

IMG_20161116_212512259

First I threw a batch of 2 Ingredient Muffins (with chocolate cake mix) into the oven and then pulled out my handheld mixer for work on the dip.

IMG_20161116_212636251

If I told you this dip was good, you probably wouldn’t be surprised but downright bingeable, you might accuse me of exaggerations…

IMG_20161116_212654398_HDR

But trust me, the BOY, and my coworkers when I tell you that this recipe is nothing shy of divine!

IMG_20161116_212840897_HDR

I served it with graham sticks which were the perfect vehicle and compliment to this sweet dip!

IMG_20161116_213101464_HDR

This dip is great to make the night before and travels well (even in a backpack on a bike).

IMG_20161117_081420414

After work on Thursday, I met up with the BOY and my SIL for date night at Big Star.  We had the BEST night eating dinner outside appreciating the 70 degree evening (and the pitcher of margaritas)!

IMG_20161117_183620264

Overall, it was a day of delcioiusness!

Enjoy!

Cake Batter Dip

From Fresh April Flours

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • Half of a box of Funfetti Cake Mix (approximately 1 ½ cups dry)
  • 6 Tablespoons milk (any milk is fine…I happened to have whole in the house)
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ⅓ cup sprinkles plus more for decorating

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and no lumps remain.
  2. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the Funfetti mix. Add half of the milk and and mix until combined. Add remaining Funfetti mix and milk and increase mixer to medium speed to blend.
  3. Again, reduce mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar. Increase mixer to medium speed and blend until completely combined.
  4. Stir in sprinkles with a spatula. Serve with pretzels, graham crackers, cookies, or your favorite crunchy treat. Cake batter dip will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

OMG! Worst Blogger Ever Award!

Friends…old and new! How are you???  Where has the time gone???

I swear it was like yesterday that I was blogging up a storm and then I took a quick break to move in with my P’s, start a new job, get my yoga certificate, enjoy summer, then move again (this time to Chicago), start another new job, unpack…and…Yeah…I’m still not unpacked…and yeah, I seem to still be on a break.  But anyways, the point is it is mid September and I haven’t blogged in a month.  Which earns me the Worst Blogger Ever Award!

So just a quick update…the BOY, Cooper, and I moved into the city Labor Day Weekend and we haven’t slowed down since.

IMG_20160913_185809603

With help, we have been unpacking a million boxes (with many more to go)…

IMG_20160903_182840046

I started another new job, cut off all of my hair again, and haven’t cooked a thing.

IMG_20160909_164002175

Which might be why you haven’t heard from me.  I am working two part time jobs, learning the ropes, teaching a ton of yoga classes (last week, I taught 4 kids classes), exploring the city by bike, drinking wine, buying new furniture, and eating all of the Thai food my tummy can handle,

IMG_20160910_085311195

Check me out…I’m a bike commuter!

IMG_20160909_084158115

I bought a bubbie cart so I can walk to the HUGE Mariano’s down the block.

IMG_20160911_175447394

Which is what I did this afternoon.  Have I mentioned that I live across the street from a yoga studio?!  It is right in between a coffee shop and wine bar and it makes me happy every time I look out the window.

IMG_20160909_175952217_HDR

So this morning, I went to the most amazing yoga class, then came home to organize our bathroom.  Cooper had an afternoon vet appointment, which was very traumatic for both of us.  He wouldn’t go into his crate so we were super late.  When we got home, he ran and hid under the bed, so I took my bubbie cart to the grocery store.

IMG_20160914_203746822

I’m sure you guys missed me but I am guessing that you missed Cooper more so I threw in a few of his pics.  After a busy week, I was happy to make dinner and decided on this Island Pork Tenderloin.  I came back from the grocery store and got started on dessert first.  As I was pulling out all of the ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have sugar.  Luckily, the BOY passes the store on his walk home from the train so he swung by and picked up sugar.

IMG_20160916_184111578

Just some Friday night baking essentials.  My dessert came together easily except I couldn’t find sprinkles anywhere in our house. I tried all of my many kitchen cabinets and drawers (my new kitchen also makes me happy!) but there were no sprinkles.  I gave up and subbed in white chocolate chips for the sprinkles and threw some in the middle and on top.

IMG_20160916_185810916

Apparently I am also the worst baker ever…ha ha!  Although I thought I had everything timed out, it appears our oven is not so strong so everything took WAY TOO LONG!  That being said, the bars still turned out phenomenal and were devoured by the BOY and I after dinner. 

IMG_20160916_204232929_HDR

I just couldn’t decide if I like the crunchy sugary ends or the ooey gooey middle better!

IMG_20160916_204359695_HDR

I kept the recipe as written below but know that this is a very forgiving dessert so you can probably whip it together with whatever you have in your pantry!  Even if you haven’t even unpacked all your pantry boxes : )

I have no idea what my blogging future holds but hoping to check in with ya’ll more often!

What’d I miss with you guys???

 

Cake Batter Sugar Cookie Bars

From Today’s Creative Life

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons softened butter
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup of gluten free flour or regular flour
  • ¼ cup of Nonpareil or sprinkles to mix in
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Nonpareil or sprinkles for the top of the batter before baking

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease an 8" x 8" baking pan and set aside.
  3. Carefully melt white chocolate chips at 50% power in microwave, stirring often to make sure they don’t burn. Once they are just about melted, stir in softened butter and remaining ingredients (except sprinkles) which you will want to fold in gently at the very end. Spread dough into pan and cover the top of the dough with the remaining sprinkles.
  4. Bake for about 22 minutes or until the bars begin to turn golden around the edges of the pan.
  5. The bars will be a bit gooey when you remove them from the oven, they will continue to set as they cool for 30 minutes to an hour.
  6. Enjoy!!!

Lately I’ve Been XXX…

Terrible about blogging (as if you haven’t noticed)!!!

Making birthday plans

Drinking a ton of espresso

IMG_20160818_073236089_HDR

Watching non stop Olympics

Living out of my car

And on my yoga mat!

Reuniting with my running shoes

IMG_20160813_082739556_HDR

Scheduling my yearly doctor and dentist appointments

Eating chocolate

Doing Zumba and Bolly.X with my yoga squad

IMG_20160812_202803321

Drinking wine with my mom

Eating sushi with my brother and SIL

Hanging with my ex coworkers

Keeping my cat out of my dad’s chair (unsuccessfully)

IMG_20160820_194039087

Catching up with friends

Getting my Teacher Training Certificate (and teaching my first individual class today)

IMG_20160820_133503199

Battling a summer cold

Getting excited about football season

Planning for our move to Chicago in 2 weeks

Celebrating 10 years of dating with my hubbie!

IMG_20160814_135237936_HDR

And getting photo bombed by my dad…

IMG_20160814_135242410_HDR

 

What have you been up to lately???

What Olympic events are you loving???

I’ve Missed You Blog World!

Well   Hello   There   Everyone!!!

I am back and settled(ish)!  Cooper…is another story, but we will get to that! 

IMG_20160701_121219814

Let’s see…since last we chatted, life has been BUSY…

We packed up our entire house.  And by we, I mean myself and my parents.  The BOY did pack one full box but before you think he did nothing, he was in charge or organizing our last minute move on a holiday weekend. Not an easy job!

IMG_20160701_103524705_HDR

July 1st was a gorgeous day and our movers were amazing and efficient. Before we knew it, were standing in an empty home.  Full of emotion, of course, as the excitement of our next adventure begins with the nostalgia of having 10 years of memories in this house (including our first kiss!).

IMG_20160701_104515378

I was super grateful for the assistance of my P’s but even more thankful that they took us in to their home when we had none without question.  The three of us traded in our 3 bedroom home for a bedroom.  The first few nights were rough as we couldn’t find a thing and had Cooper crammed in with us.

IMG_20160710_213051549

But Saturday night we had a BBQ with my bestie and her family and it really did feel so good to be home!

IMG_20160702_212724064 

The rest of the weekend was catching up on life, unpacking, getting organized, laundry, and grocery shopping.  The 4 us had a meeting to meal plan out the week, which has been very successful.  My dad found a white board to keep track of everything and has also added a countdown until our move out date : )

IMG_20160706_192422794

Which brings me to the excitement of the week. We signed a lease for a Chicago apartment (and there was much rejoicing!) but it’s not available until September 2nd…

So we are living it up with my parents, appreciating the home cooked family meals (including my dad’s famous stir fry) and laundry service and hoping that Cooper can adjust to living with 4 adults as opposed to his usual 2. There has been a bit more hissing lately!

IMG_20160705_065840441_HDR

#trainselfie

The BOY and I are also commuting together which might be an even bigger challenge than moving in or planning a wedding : )

IMG_20160707_065204906

On the yoga front, I am LOVING my training.  We had some time off but are probably about half way done and I am already feeling sad for when it will be over.  I am reading a ton and learning a lot.

IMG_20160708_081229478

I am doing way more yoga than running and feeling really good about it.  Comfortable with myself as I am growing each day of this journey that I know (hope) is just beginning.  This past weekend we taught each other which was exciting and nerve wrecking!

IMG_20160711_172515871

And if that’s not enough excitement…the Tour de France started this week (more rejoicing!!).  I’ve got the entire family watching and cheering on my favorite riders.  Between that and the Olympic trials, our blooming social life, and trying to capture a few minutes of down time, life has been plugging along!

But I’ve miss you guys!  Tell me what’s going on with you…

Past, Present, and Future

This non-blogging thing is becoming quite the bad habit, but after you read this post, I am pretty sure you will forgive me!

IMG_20160614_071743302_HDR

I’ll start by filling you in on the PAST week (or so)…

IMG_20160614_215352

After maintaining some nice balance of work and play, water and wine, sleep and fun, our house went up on the market for rent last Friday.  The BOY and I got some instant attention and spent all of last Saturday out and about while people came by to check out the place.

IMG_20160618_183531

By Saturday night, we were happy to just be home enjoying a cheese plate and wine out back.  Even this guy liked chilling in the back yard…

IMG_20160618_185333653

And by Sunday, I realized that wine and warrior III don’t mix so well after a 75 minute hot class and a few hours of pose clinics during yoga teacher training : )  Sunday night, we had rental applications and a lot of good feedback on our house!  And by Monday night, we had renters…who needed to move in July 1st!

IMG_20160618_183126912

OMG!!!

This week was a mix of work, yoga, and apartment searching in hopes of finding a quick place to move in to!

IMG_20160623_215318

We spent Wednesday night and Thursday in the city, desperately searching for apartments and drinking and dining with my brother and sister in law (who were kind enough to house us!).  By this morning, it was pretty obvious that we did not have a place to live, despite one last attempt of walking through the 606 pleading my eyes to find a ‘For Rent’ sign.

IMG_20160624_085803116 IMG_20160624_090535716 

All while enjoying the most amazing Bucktown coffee…

IMG_20160624_090621580

Which brings us to the PRESENT

IMG_20160624_222124722

This picture is the EXACT present…

My Friday off was not nearly as bad as the one in which I scrubbed my grout, but was pretty busy.

IMG_20160624_101542797

With 1 week until our move, it was time to start packing!  I called in reinforcements to help make the most of the day…

IMG_20160624_141214659

My parents arrived with lunch around noon and because they were dog sitting, they brought Dancer along as well.  We packed what seemed like a million boxes and I was feeing accomplished until I realized all that was left to pack. 

IMG_20160624_151910650

Around 4pm (with physical and mental exhaustion), we went in different directions as I headed off to yoga training and my parents took a bunch of boxes home.  Which brings us to your next question, I am sure…

IMG_20160624_120834345_HDR

What’s Next?  For now, the FUTURE looks like this…

IMG_20160521_192055707_HDR

Meet our new roommates!!!  We are moving in with my parents…Cooper and all for a month while we continue our apartment search in Chicago.  The pros…we have a place to live and the location allows me easy access to work and yoga training.  The BOY and I may be commuting together on the train into the city.  The crazy…we are moving in with my  parents…Cooper and all!  In 1 week!!!

IMG_20160624_144017379

Which means tomorrow is day 2 of packing and because of yoga training Sunday, it needs to be SUPER productive.  After that, I fear you may not hear from me for a bit.  It will just be short break, I promise, but with all of these changes and responsibilities, I may not be able to prioritize the blog until things have settled.  Like I said, I knew you would understand : )

 

Tell me about your past, present, and future!

Anyone have a 2 bedroom apartment they want to rent me in Chicago?!