Down Day Dinner

Monday I needed a bit of a physical and emotional break.  I didn’t set an alarm and slept almost 12 hours.  Mind you, there were a few interruptions as Cooper kept wiggling his body into my arms for some love, but I didn’t mind.  I missed my little kitty while I was gone!  And he missed us and his pink blanket which we took for the car ride.

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The BOY and I did a grocery store run to fill up our empty fridge.  Then, I put dinner in the crockpot, took a shower, and planned to dive back into the studying I didn’t do this past week.  Instead, I got comfy on the couch (next to Cooper and the pink blanket) and worked my way through the DVR while folding laundry and snacking on apples and dark chocolate almonds.

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You see…on top of being exhausted, I have a cold and a random rash on my neck.  I was in need of a little down time…and so I took some!  I’m sure I’ll regret it later as there is much to catch up on.

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I chose an easy dinner recipe (to go along with my day of relaxation), and it turned out wonderful!

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So here’s a tasty recipe for the next time you need a down day.

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Meal Planning 2/16/15

Monday: Crockpot Pork (recipe below)

Tuesday: Fajita Night

Wednesday: Chicken and Salad

Thursday: Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Super Easy Slow Cooker Pork

From Pinch of Yum

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. pork shoulder
  • 1 cup soda (I used diet gingerale)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup Marzetti Simply Dressed Balsamic dressing

Directions

  1. Place the pork, soda, garlic, chili powder, oregano, and Worcestershire sauce in the crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
  2. When the meat falls apart easily, shred it directly in the crockpot with two forks. Add the balsamic dressing and stir with the liquid in the crockpot. The meat should be saucy and moist.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (or use the broil setting if you have that) and transfer the mixture to a baking sheet lined with foil. Spread it in an even, thin layer (drain some juice if it appears that there is too much) and cook in the preheated oven until the juices are bubbling and the edges are crispy, 10-15 minutes (less time if you have a broil setting).
  4. Transfer to a serving platter and enjoy on salad, tacos, or potatoes!

Autumn Chopped Salad

It was an interesting week here as we moved from 80 degree summer weather straight to talks of snow.  Ugh!  I was home sick on Thursday with a stomach bug and spent much of the day like this…

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Except for when I was drinking ginger ale and eating soup. Cooper didn’t seem to mind and was more than happy to soak up the extra love and attention.  Friday it was back to work and then straight home for Friday night services.  The BOY and I spent Saturday together with his family celebrating the end of the high holidays.  I slept a good 10 hours Friday night and the BOY and I took a 90 minute nap on Saturday.  The extra sleep helped and I felt better each day.  I woke up this morning ready for Sunday Funday with our friends.

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One thing is for sure, autumn is in the air!  When I offered to bring a salad to our friends house, I searched Pinterest for some fall salad inspiration.  I came across a few simple recipes, which always remind me how easy it is to throw together a unique and tasty salad.  I decided on one and since I was going to the grocery store, I had my entire week long meal plan and grocery list figured out before 9am.

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When I returned from the store, I got to chopping…

All of the fruits for this gorgeous salad and veggies for Buffalo Turkey Chili.  Which went into the crockpot for tonight’s dinner!

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The Bear’s game ended in a bad last minute loss, but our lunch complete with this salad was fantastic!  I shared the leftovers with my friend for her lunch tomorrow and I have plenty of ingredients left to make another salad later in the week.  It was a super Sunday Funday catching up with our friends, talking wedding and reading stories to their adorable 1 year old daughter.  Better luck next week Bears…

What is your favorite fall salad?

Autumn Chopped Salad

Adapted Slightly From Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 pear, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (or more or less)
2 Tablespoons (fig) balsamic vinegar (or more or less)

Directions

Add romaine lettuce, pear, apple, almonds, dried cranberries, and feta cheese into a very large bowl, then add salad dressing and balsamic vinegar to taste. Toss well then serve immediately.

A True Sunday

I am so lucky to have a three day weekend every weekend and rely on the extra time on Monday to get myself prepped for the week ahead.  I often wonder how other people are able to fit in all of their fun, shopping, and household chores into only 2 days?!  After having this schedule for over 5 years, I am spoiled and set in my ways.  The other benefit of a schedule like this is that it allows me some flexibility for time off.  Over the next few months, there are a handful of weeks where I am working Monday and then taking another day during the week (usually Friday) off.  This upcoming week is one of them.  Although I am actually taking Wednesday off and have it jam packed with professional responsibilities followed by dinner with my old coworkers.

 

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I made sure that we had an easy Sunday so that I would have plenty of time to work through my to do list before the start of the week.  The BOY and I slept in until 9am and then I went for a run.  Prior to leaving, the BOY started putzing around out back and to my surprise and excitement decided to clean off his grill. I think seeing all of our neighbors outback grilling last night really motivated him.

 

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Cooper watched on with excitement and I hit the trail for a 5 mile run.  I was slow today (more sore from last night’s yoga than I expected), but loved getting in my first medium distance run of the year.  When I got back, the BOY had run off to Home Depot for grill stuff.  Immediately, I knew that we would be grilling tonight and that from here on out, our meal planning would shift in the direction of the grill.  Hooray!

 

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We spent the afternoon running some errands (man I hate Costco on the weekends!) and came back and got started on meal prep.  For me, this meant throwing this week’s lunch in the crockpot and chopping up fruits and veggies.

 

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For the BOY, this meant marinating tomorrow’s steak and prepping tonight’s dinner, which consisted of grilled feta (photo above) for an appetizer, grilled romaine salad, and seafood medley.  I did find a cookbook recipe that I was planning to make, but we changed our minds while we were grocery shopping.  I’ll be saving it for next week!

 

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Grilled salad became one of our favorite appetizers last summer, but we’ve never made it at home. I picked up a huge bag of lettuce at Costco knowing I could have leftovers for lunch.  We washed the lettuce and the BOY prepped it with olive oil and seasonings.

 

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We’ve also used parmesan cheese in the past which is AMAZING!

 

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Typically, I don’t use dressing with my lettuce…I think that the olive oil and grill add more than enough flavor! 

 

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Especially when you add shaved parmesan cheese!  But you could make your own balsamic or use a store bought dressing.

 

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This salad makes a beautiful appetizer or can be topped with meat (in this case seafood medley) for a delicious and satisfying main course.

 

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In true Sunday night form, we are all tucked into our cozy spots enjoying a movie.  Look who is exhausted from his birthday celebrations : )  I’ve got to go to bed early since tomorrow is an early work day.  Have a great week!

 

 

What is your favorite thing to make on the grill?

How do you spend your Sundays?

 

 

Meal Planning 4/06/14

Sunday: Grilled Romaine (recipe below) with Seafood

 

Monday: MEAT!  Steak for the BOY and Salmon for Me!

 

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken and Veggies

 

Wednesday: Out to Dinner

 

Thursday: Who Knows?

 

Lunch: Crockpot Green Curry Chicken (recipe to come)

 

 

Grilled Romaine with Parmesan Cheese

 

Ingredients

4 long romaine lettuce heads

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Graded parmesan cheese

Shaved fresh parmesan cheese

 

Directions

Heat grill to 450 degrees.

Wash lettuce and dry it well.  Cover lettuce with olive oil, using your hands to spread it throughout the leaves.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese (or any other seasonings that you like…you can get creative with this).

Grill for 8 minutes total, turning every 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with shaved parmesan and top with tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, or dressing.

Suddenly Summer BBQ

It’s summer! 

And with the thick, muggy weather, it finally feels like it!

I kept this weekend pretty low key on purpose and Saturday was saved for packing and a BBQ!

Around 1:30pm, I felt like I had a good handle on the packing portion of things and decided to go for a walk along the path.  I haven’t done much of anything in terms of exercise this week, so it was nice to get out and moving.

 

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Meanwhile, the BOY was hard at work seasoning and smoking ribs.

 

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My BFF and her adorable family were coming over for a BBQ.  She brought some delicious appetizers (including grilled salami).  I threw together a summer salad inspired by this mouth watering post on Pinch of Yum.

 

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I cheated and went with the store bought salad dressing, but maybe next time I will make my own!

 

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The toughest part of making this salad was searching the fruit section at the grocery store for the ripest nectarines in the bin.

 

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Luckily, I choose well and they sliced up perfectly for the salad.

 

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The gang was excited about their flavorful, smoky ribs, and the BOY threw some chicken on the grill for me.  We had a side of roasted broccoli, and everyone dug into dinner.

 

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I almost didn’t have room for dessert, but I never say ‘No’ to angel food cake, cool whip, and berries.  It’s the perfect finish to a summer evening spent with friends!

 

What are you most excited for this summer?

 

 

Blueberry Nectarine Summer Salad

Inspired by Pinch of Yum

 

Ingredients

6 cups baby spinach

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1 cup blueberries

2 ripe nectarines, sliced

Grilled chicken (optional)

Poppyseed dressing

 

Directions

Place spinach in large salad bowl.  Sprinkle with almonds, blueberries, and then top with nectarines.

Serve with salad dressing and chicken.

Weird Week Ahead

Good Afternoon!

 

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It’s been an odd start to the week as I have to go in to work for a few hours this afternoon/evening.  Then tomorrow, I have the morning off before spending my afternoon as a teaching assistant.  After a few weekends of work/travel, I was looking forward to getting back into my meal planning groove.  However, between my schedule change, the BOY’s late night finals, and a sushi date with my girl friends on Thursday, there’s not much planning to do.

 

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I did finally make it to the grocery store this morning in order to restock our house with food…specifically fresh fruits and veggies!  We were in a sad state as evidenced above by the lone garlic.

 

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With the start of May, I am excited to detox my diet.  I mentioned this in my May goals, but didn’t have the energy to elaborate.  My plan is to return to a cleaner way of eating that includes no processed foods and tons of fresh produce.  I know that spring weather, farmer’s markets, and the BOY’s love of BBQing make this a much easier task.  I also know that I have exciting races and a fun trip abroad (details coming soon) planned where I will want to look and feel my best.  Now, that’s what I call motivation!

 

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I kicked off the week with a colorful salad with tuna.  I picked up some fish for dinner tomorrow night and decided on simple and easy to prep turkey tacos for dinner on Wednesday.  That’s about as far as I got with this week’s meal plans.  I know the BOY is excited to work through his last few finals so that he can get back to the grill and his new smoker.

 

This morning I treated my tired body to a much needed day off.  After yesterday’s PR, it deserved some rest, but I am looking forward to getting back into my tri training groove later in the week.  My official race results from yesterday were posted, and I was spot on with my own self timing…

30-34 Female Jennifer 1:49:46.54 Streamwood, IL

 

What’s fun is that I placed 11/40 in my age and division and 205/850 in the entire race!  Combined with a PR, I am proud of my early season effort! 

 

Quick question for ya’ll before I head off to work…I am looking for some healthy and easy to prepare ideas for lunch…maybe even salads that can be made ahead.

 

Any suggestions?  Please post your links!!

Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers

The BOY and I came back from our grocery shopping trip today with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, lean meat, and healthy snacks.  As always, Monday is prep day for the week ahead.  For this week’s meal plan, I had to simplify things a bit.  Last week was way too busy and crazy for me to be making dinner each night, so I made things a little easier with some store bought stuff.  And I know that I can always eat leftovers for lunch.

 

Monday: Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers (recipe below)

 

Tuesday: Orange Ginger Salmon

 

Wednesday: Almond Butter Stirfry

 

Thursday: Store Bought Chicken Sausages with Roasted Mushrooms

 

Lunch: Leftovers and Carrot, Chickpea, and Barley Soup*

Snacks: Coconut Balls

 

*Do you ever make soup and it tastes great but doesn’t picture well???  Well that’s what happened with this orange creation.  I was planning on dedicating an entire post to this soup, but since my photos didn’t turn out, I scrapped that idea.

 

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But you can find the recipe for this wonderful soup at Shape Magazine.  This is an old recipe that I have been making for years, and I just discovered that you can find fresh carrot juice at Mariano’s.  Enjoy!

 

Moving on to tonight’s dinner…

The Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers were the BOY’s suggestion.

 

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He found them in the Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast cookbook.

 

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I modified the recipe a bit to make it easier and quicker, and it turned out just as good!

 

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The BOY tucked his burgers into a toasted pita with sour cream cumin sauce (sour cream, cumin, lemon juice, salt, and pepper).  As always, he rapidly began assembling his sandwich, so I had to snap my photos quickly to keep up with him.

 

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One bite into dinner and a big smile spread across his lips.  For those who know him, the BOY has a VERY picky palate, so his rave reviews of this dinner were great to hear!

 

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Instead of a sandwich, I decided to eat my burgers with a huge salad and a side of roasted broccoli.

 

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I couldn’t agree with the BOY more!  These chicken burgers are full of flavor, and I can’t wait until this summer when we can cook them up on the grill!  Warning: you might see these at our next BBQ!

 

And with that…I’ve gotta run and catch the second half of the Biggest Loser Finale!

 

 

Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers

From Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (or ground ginger)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste

 

For Sandwich:
4 pitas (6 inch)
1 cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, place the chicken, scallions, ginger, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, cardamon, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper; mix well with your hands to combine. Set aside to marinate for at least 10 and up to 30 minutes.

Gently form the mixture into sixteen 3/4 inch patties (about 3 tablespoons each).  Season the patties with salt and pepper (if desired) and place on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake for ~15 minutes, turning once mid way until chicken is fully cooked.

For sandwiches…halve the pitas crosswise (toast on the grill, if you like). Into each pocket, place 2 chicken patties, cucumber slices, and cilantro sprigs. Serve with cumin yogurt sauce (1/2 cup plain yogurt + 1/2 tsp cumin).

 

Note: I made some changes to the original recipe for ease and time.  Read the Recipe as Written

Dealing with Dreary

The weather might be dark and dreary, but that didn’t keep the BOY and I indoors.  Sunday Funday was SUPER fun yesterday because we went into the city to hang with my family!

 

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And had lunch at Revolution Brewery, where the BOY and I have never been, and my Mom has now declared her favorite place to go.

 

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Historically, spring day light savings can be rough, but not this year.  This could be because after losing 3 hours coming home from Las Vegas last year, one hour doesn’t seem so bad.  The good food, brew, and company didn’t hurt either.

 

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We had an awesome day and I was in bed early Sunday night with my book after an eventful weekend.  I had no difficulty falling asleep and only woke up this morning when my alarm started beeping 10 hours later.  This morning’s breakfast was a variation of this recipe smothered in almond butter before CrossFit.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this morning’s workout, but the Harlem shake picture definitely had me laughing.  And I was excited to wear the new headband that I picked up at Athleta yesterday!

 

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This morning’s workout was 7 reps max weight of snatches with rest in between.  We started off by breaking down the motion and then practicing on some light bars.  I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I would be able to do, but I ended up in a group of three girls lifting weight, giving feedback on form, and working together to safely add more weight. I was able to lift 55-65-75-75-75-75-75.  Not to shabby for my first attempt at snatches.

 

After CrossFit, I picked up the BOY for this week’s grocery store run and meal planning.  I was starving and actually craving some protein with lunch on the brain.  Let me tell you…if you are ever shopping at Mariano’s and hungry for lunch, swing by the meat counter and have them grill you up a chicken breast.  I finished my shopping and on the way to check out, scooped up my lunch.  The BOY did the same with a white arugula pizza.

 

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On the way home, I remembered that I had leftover salad from Saturday night (that my friend made and sent home with me).  You can’t see it in the picture, but this salad also has goat cheese, cranberries, pine nuts, and I added chopped chicken and avocado.

 

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The BOY was right when he said that this is a restaurant quality lunch.  I totally agree!  Thanks to Mariano’s and Dana this is one of the best salads I’ve had in awhile!  I only had a short amount of time to eat lunch before it was time to leave again.  Although I didn’t know when I made the appointment that today would be rainy, a massage really is the BEST thing to do on a day like today.  I had a $20 off coupon to use before the end of the month, and I basked in the 60 minutes of relaxation while hands firmly worked out the tension and knots in my back and neck.  It was pure bliss and only afterwards did I return home to camp out indoors for the rest of the day.  With such a busy weekend, I had a lot to do.

 

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Some of which included getting my food prepared for the week ahead.  Nothing says rainy days like chili.  One of the things that I love about this new slow cooker book is that it has separate chapters on soup, stew, and chili.  They are plenty of recipes to choose from!

 

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I used the Mushroom Chili recipe but added in some eggplant since the beautiful purple veggies was on sale.  I ended up with a thick batch of chili, so I decided to stir in a cup of vegetable broth before cooking.

 

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I’m looking forward to digging into this thick and hearty chili soon!

 

 

This Week’s Meal Plan…

 

Monday: Breakfast for Dinner (the BOY’s request)

Featuring Challah French Toast, Eggs, and Potatoes

 

Tuesday: BBQ Turkey Meatballs

 

Wednesday: Chicken or Salmon with Veggies

 

Thursday: Leftovers

 

Friday: Trip to St. Louis!!!

 

Lunch: Portobello and Eggplant Chili (recipe below)

 

 

 

Portobello and Eggplant Chili

Adapted from The Big Book of Slow Cooker Recipes

 

Ingredients

3 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned well and cubed

1 small eggplant, cubed

1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 28 ounce and 1 15 ounce canned tomatoes, drained lightly (or you can use chopped fresh tomatoes)

1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined, and minced

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup low sodium vegetable broth

 

Directions

Place all ingredients into a slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray.

Stir well and cook on low for 8 hours.

 

 

How do you deal with dreary?

Me? I dream of SPRING!