Meal Planning with Tony’s and the Grill

It’s the BOY’s first real day off all semester and so no surprise he headed straight for the grill!

This afternoon, he made us a healthy lunch!  After which we drove off to check out the latest new grocery store in town.  We are so spoiled with a newish Whole Foods, the brand new Mariano’s, and now a Tony’s!

 

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I’ve heard only great things about this store which is located throughout the Chicago area, and we now have one of our own.

 

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Their produce is extensive and well priced.  The BOY found himself lost in the meat aisle and the seafood had my mouth watering.  Speaking of watering mouths, this expansive pastry counter was filled with rich, colorful, and decadent sweets.

 

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It didn’t take the BOY long to pick out a few of the 79 cent treats for dessert tonight.

 

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We left will a full cart for a more than fair price!  The BOY went straight to the back yard to prepare tonight’s pulled pork in his smoker.  I got comfortable in the sun with a new lighter book by one of my favorite chick lit authors.

 

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It was a successful start to the week, and meal planning is a cinch now that the BOY is doing most of the work on the grill!  Although sadly tonight, his smoker yielded smoked pork instead of pulled pork.  I had an easy substitute frozen veggie burger, but I could tell the BOY was disappointed at he at his smoked pork sandwich.  Next time, I will go back to this crockpot pulled pork recipe which was incredible!

 

This Week in Meal Planning…

Monday: Smoked Pork (made by the BOY) Veggie Burger

Tuesday: Stirfry at my parents

Wednesday: Grilled Seafood (that we picked up at Tony’s)

Thursday: Dinner out

Friday: TBD

 

 

Have you ever been to Tony’s?

What is your favorite grocery store?

Running Date, Leftovers, and a Smoothie

Sunday Funday began EARLY today with a running date.

 

Ya’ll know that I am a mostly solitary runner, so I get excited at the chance to run with other people, friends or strangers : )  Which is why despite staying up a late for dinner and drinks last night, I set my alarm for a Sunday morning run.  Ok, I woke up at 7:30 which isn’t that early, but I usually sleep in later on Sundays.

 

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Breakfast was a running staple…TJ’s oatmeal with banana and pecans.  I met up with the trainer and two other friends at my old gym for an outdoor run.  The weathermen were predicting snow, but we were about to get out and begin winding through the neighborhoods before any foul weather.  It was around 35 degrees and at one point, we had to stop to delayer.  We ran at a steady pace for about 50 minutes before taking a good 20 minutes to stretch and roll out.  After making plans to run again next Saturday, I made my way over to Whole Foods for a few groceries.

 

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I was back home in time for lunch, laundry, and a second straight day of college basketball.

 

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For lunch, I baked a small sweet potato, smothered it with leftover pulled pork, and some cubed avocado with a side of mushrooms.  I didn’t get any great pictures of the pork last night, so I was hoping today’s pics would get your mouth watering.

 

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Mine certainly was as I dug into this BBQ Pork Baked Sweet Potato!

 

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One thing that caught my eye at Whole Foods this morning was their new line of juices.  They are made with just fruits and veggies, no water or sugar added.  The Green-Aid reminded me of yesterday’s invigorating green smoothie.

 

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I tried a new to me smoothie ingredient that added tons of flavor.

 

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Cucumber!

 

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I made a total mess in my clean kitchen with this smoothie, but it was worth it.  This sweet smoothie was one of the most refreshing I’ve ever made.  Cucumber may be a new stable in my homemade smoothies!

 

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After swimming on Thursday, spinning on Saturday, and running today, my legs are pretty fried.  It’s a great day to put up my feet and watch some basketball.  I’ll probably make another one of these incredible green smoothies too!

 

 

How are you spending your Sunday?

 

This is the IronGirl triathlon that I have been thinking about this June.  Has anyone done an IronGirl event before???

 

Refreshing Green Smoothie

 

Ingredients

1 large handful of spinach (I fill the bottom third of my blender)

1 cup of coconut water (I used flavored)

1 apple, cored and diced

1/2 medium sized cucumber, chopped

Splash of fresh lemon juice

1 cup frozen mango

 

Directions

Place spinach, coconut water, apple, and cucumber in a blend.  Pulse or chop until veggies are broken down.  Then blend on low-medium.  Add lemon juice and frozen mango.  Blend on high for a few minutes until smooth.

Sip and Smile

Note: I am learning with my new blender that the longer I let things blend on high, the frothier and smoother my smoothies are!

Dinner Party

So the BOY and I didn’t actually host a dinner party (although that sounds like fun!), but we did have our close friends over for dinner tonight.  We love hosting our friends, especially in the summer time when we fire up the grill!  When the weather is too cold for grilling, I struggle with what to make for dinner.   Since my crockpot has been so helpful this winter, I thought maybe it should be in charge of Saturday night dinner.

 

The Menu

Crockpot Pulled Pork

Coleslaw

Mac n’ Cheese

Green Beans

Dessert Bars

 

The first challenge of dinner was finding pork shoulder or butt for the pulled pork.  Thankfully, the BOY is a meat consumer and knew exactly where to go.  A few minutes away, we found a little country store that sold a variety of meats. 

 

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The pork was precooked so we had to adjust our cooking time/plan a bit.

 

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There are so many pulled pork recipes that it is tough to know where to begin.  I ended up going with a variation of the Tex-Mex Pulled Pork from The Big book of Slow Cooker Recipes.

 

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I made a few changes to the sauce and because the pork was smoked and precooked, it added even more flavor!  The toughest part of making dinner (besides waiting to see if our pork turned out) was trying to get a picture while the BOY quickly filled his plate.

 

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Even a good picture can’t convey how unbelievably juicy and flavorful the pulled pork turned out!  You’ll definitely have to dig out your crockpot and try it for yourself.  We made sandwiches with toasted Hawaiian bread and coleslaw.  Because the quantity is so big, this would be perfect for a casual dinner party, and we sent our friends home with leftovers.  Our friend’s brought a delicious appetizer of crab dip on a tortilla topped with avocado…it was so yummy that I will have to find you the recipe.  For sides, we had streamed green beans and baked Mac n’ Cheese.

 

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The eating happened way too quickly to get more pictures of anything other than licked clean plates (certainly not literally).  We retreated back to the family room for the 15th basketball game of the night (there were some serious nail biters) and dessert.

 

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Wait until you see what I made for dessert!!!  I made two awesome new dessert recipes coming your way later today!

 

What do you like to serve at dinner parties?

 

Crockpot Pulled Pork

Adapted from The Big Book of Slow Cooker Recipes

 

Ingredients

3 pounds pork shoulder or butt

1 sweet onion, diced

8 ounces (or half a 15 ounce can) tomato sauce

1 1/2 – 2 cups BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)

1 4.5 ounce can of diced green chile peppers

1 tbsp chili powder

2 heaping tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

 

Directions

Coat a large crockpot with cooking spray.  In crockpot mix together tomato sauce, bbq sauce, onion, green chile peppers, chili powder, cumin, and oregano.

Place pork in slow cooker and spread sauce to coat pork.

Cook on low, according to crockpot directions, 8-10 hours.

About 1 hour before done, shred pork with two forks and stir well into sauce.  Cook remaining hour on low.

 

Note: The recipe above is written for uncooked pork.  Since our pork was cooked, we cooked it on low 10 hours for 6 hours.  We had to cheat and check often to decide when to shred.  You know your crockpot, so choose the settings that you think will work best!

 

 

Mac n’ Cheese

From the Weight Watchers Pure Comfort Cookbook

Ingredients

1/2 pound whole wheat macaroni, about 2 cups

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tbsp all purpose flour

2 cups fat free milk

2 cups shredded fat free cheddar cheese (I used light cheese with 2% milk)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 freshly ground black pepper

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained (ie Rotel)

1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray baking dish with nonstick spray. 

2. Cook macaroni according to directions, omitting salt if desired.

3. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Increase the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the cheeses melt, about 1 minute.

4. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the macaroni and tomatoes without their juice. Pour mixture into the baking dish. Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp butter in small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until they are evenly coated, about 1 minute. Sprinkle over the dish and bake until bubbly and the top is golden, about 25-30 minutes.