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.

I Wasn’t Sore Until Warrior II

I woke up feeling surprisingly good this morning (considering yesterday’s 3 and a half hour workout) and not that sore at all.  I give credit to the fact that we didn’t go too fast and that I was well rested.  Early this morning, I drove into the city to meet a friend for coffee before going to yoga with my mom and our friends. 

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It is always a treat to attend one of these special classes with this exceptional teacher.  This morning’s class might have been my favorite.  Partially this is due to the company.  I love doing yoga with my mom and our friends!  Another part has to do with the unique and challenging class.  Today we worked to open our tightest areas and flowed countless times through chaturanga.  I discovered that my arms AND legs were tired the first time I entered Warrior II, but they held out for the entire class.  I ROCKED my handstand and dancer pose (if I do say so myself).  I felt flexible, strong, and confident.  It was a beautiful way to start the day.

Followed by an impromptu lunch attended by everyone including the newlyweds freshly back from their honeymoon.  Everyone except the BOY who was studying for the bar.  With T minus 2 days to go, this was totally understandable!  Together we watched the exciting sprint finale to the tour.  After 21 days, I’m not sure what I’m going to watch any more.  Oh yea…So You Think You Can Dance!  After lunch, the ladies headed off to do some shopping.  Athleta is having a HUGE sale with everything on sale ON SALE!  I had some saved up gift cards and walked out with a new gym bag, bathing suit top for my trip, and an awesome gift for my trainer.

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My mom did well too!  I made one more stop at the Starbucks with my treat receipt for a 2$ green tea latte before driving back to the suburbs to do dinner with the BOY.  I’m working on my meal plan for the week ahead and pulling together some of my new dresses and cute summer clothes for our trip to San Fran which is now only one week away!  I’ll leave you with today’s as seen on Instagram photo…

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Good Night!

SYTYCD Monday Marathon (and Other Stuff)

I finally had a few hours of down time today, so I spent them cuddled with Cooper catching up on this season of So You Think You Can Dance auditions.  Nothing says summer like my favorite reality show : )  And just in case you wanted to ask…yes, I do think I can dance!  And that Dad Dance Off had me laughing out loud.

 

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I think Cooper may have missed that one.  He curled right up on my lap and then when I got up to move around the laundry, he stole my spot, where he slept with little kitty dreams and twitchy ears through most of the show.

 

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Meanwhile, tomorrow’s dinner cooked in the crockpot as I delayed getting off the couch to make tonight’s dinner.

 

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Eventually, I hit pause and dragged myself into the kitchen.  Thankfully, I had picked an easy recipe for tonight’s dinner, Greek Flavored Turkey Burgers.

 

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Which were inspired by the pita and roasted red peppers hanging out in my pantry and expanded with some Costco favorites.

 

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The BOY arrived home and packed up his pita quickly running off to eat it, so I didn’t get a good sandwich shot.

 

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I did make it through most of the episodes on my DVR though, so that’s a win! 

So much got packed into June that I almost couldn’t find the post with my 4 small goals written on the bottom of it. 

June Goals

1. Stay healthy and active on vacation

2. Cook with farmer’s market produce

3. Do some ab exercise daily (I’m working on the LC challenge)

4. Keep strength training

 

But I did.  And I am thrilled to say that I rocked 3 out of 4 of them!  I had active and healthy vacations and came home and dove right back into my daily ab work (which was a little lax on vacation) and strength training.  Missing this month was trips to the farmer’s market, but that’s what July is for right?!  On a totally different note, I finally reached my goal of doing a pull up!!!  And…I’m heading into the second half of this year feeling centered and grounded after a month full of yoga!

 

July Goals

1. Get stronger & continue with daily ab work

2. Start half marathon training (I’m running a race in September)

3.  Cook farmer’s market meals

4. Do Yoga

 

 

Meal Planning 6/30/14

Monday: Greek Flavored Turkey Burgers

 

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

 

Wednesday: Pork Chops with Veggies

 

Thursday: Baked Potato Bar with Chicken

 

 

Greek Flavored Turkey Burgers

From Cooking Light JANUARY 2005

 

Ingredients

1 cup chopped red onion

3/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried dill (I ran out so I subbed in mystery Israeli spice)

1 pound ground turkey

Cooking spray

4  hamburger buns or pita

1 (7-ounce) bottle roasted red bell peppers, drained and cut into 1-inch strips

 

Directions

Place egg white in a large bowl; lightly beat with a whisk. Add onion and next 6 ingredients (through turkey); stir well to combine. Divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. *I made smaller patties to fit into our pita pockets.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties to pan; cook 6-8 minutes on each side or until done.

Place patties on bottom halves of hamburger buns or into pitas. Divide peppers evenly among burgers; cover with top halves of buns.

 

 

Are you setting summer goals?

What are they?

Do you watch SYTYCD?

Five For Friday X

1. September is National Breakfast Month!

 

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Hooray for Breakfast!  You can see my full list of blog breakfasts on my Breakfast Page!

 

 

2. We were promised fall like weather and this morning, it arrived.  It’s amazing how much better I run in cool weather.  I finished his mornings 8 miles just under race pace without evening pushing for it.

 

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3. I finally caught up on 4 episodes (read 8 hours…thanks goodness for the fast forward button) on So You think You Can Dance this week.  I’m a huge fan of Fik-Shun and his incredible journey!  Amy has been my favorite girl from the start, and I was thrilled to see the two of them win.  Counting down for season 11!

 

 

4. Nutrition Update:

As mentioned in the beginning of the month, September is supposed to be all about nutrition.  Some things have gone very well, while others involved more chocolate.  This week has lacked in the cooking and homemade healthy dinners, but I’m making two pledges for the weeks ahead.

1. There will be recipes on the blog next week.

2. I will not be eating candy corn until Halloween.

 

On that note, I passed on the candy corn at work this week, but ate crunchy M&M’s instead…oops! : )

 

 

5.  To end on a funny note, this week the BOY and I discovered that Cooper can climb to the top of our screen door.

 

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Never a dull moment!

 

 

Tell me something about your week!

 

Soup for Sick Days

Although yesterday I was feeling much better, storms rolled in last night wreaking their usual havoc on my sinuses. Ahhh!  Bummer!  My scheduled 8 mile run was out of the question, and Cooper and I became semi-permanent fixtures on my couch with hot tea and multiple old episodes of So You Think You Can Dance.  Some of us napped…

 

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While others tried to blog : )

 

On days like today…only soup will do!  As I debated whether or not I was going to make the drive to the grocery store, I started thinking about all of my favorite soup recipes.  This blog is FULL of them!

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

 

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CSA Soup

 

Curried Butternut Red Lentil Soup

 

Mushroom Barley Soup

 

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Crockpot Chickpea, Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew

 

Healthy New Year Soup

 

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Crockpot Vegetarian Chili

 

Jen’s Jumbo

 

African Peanut Stew

 

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Decisions…Decisions….

 

What is your favorite rainy sick day soup recipe???

 

I’m certainly glad I took advantage of sleeping Cooper because it wasn’t long before he was back up to his wild ways!

 

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This Week in Treats

Sunday was another grey day perfect for staying in.  I counted walking around the mall as my morning workout and quickly got comfortable upon returning home.  This is a bit of a transition week for me.  Last week was my last week of full time, but my new summer schedule doesn’t start until next week.  Yesterday, I did some orientation at a different clinic before working my full Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday schedules.  It’s only fitting for my last Tuesday of work that it is my turn for Treat Day!

 

In the past,  I have covered the table with dips and desserts.  This time I went a little more low key and since the BOY and I decided to be too lazy to go to the grocery store on Sunday, I got started baking with what I had available in the house.

 

First up…brownies!

 

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I found a box of Thin Mints in the freezer and always keep Baker’s chocolate on hand.  I followed the brownie recipe on the package, which is rich and tasty.

 

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I poured half of the batter into a greased 8 inch square pan.  Then layered on my somewhat frozen cookies, and dumped the rest of the batter over the top.

 

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I baked up up the brownies per the directions and then let them cool while I worked on some of my other sweets!

 

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Although the brownies smelled wonderful, they looked a little boring.

 

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Which was nothing that white chocolate drizzle couldn’t fix!

 

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After an afternoon in the kitchen, I was happy to retreat to the couch to catch up on this season of So You Think You Can Dance!  I missed last summer, and was laughing and crying my way though the auditions.  I swear I saw like 30 people who could win the entire show!

 

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You know how I love to taste test my baking, so I packed everything away for Treat Day and made sure to get up early Monday morning for a post baking day run!

 

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What is your favorite from scratch brownie recipe???

Link ‘em up!!!

 

 

Baker’s One Bowl Thin Mint Brownies

From Baker’s Chocolate

 

Ingredients

1pkg.  (4 oz.) BAKER’S Unsweetened Chocolate

3/4 cup  butter or margarine

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup flour

1 sleeve (16 cookies) Thin Mints (plus more for garnish if desired)

2 squares of BAKER’S white chocolate (optional)

 

 

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F.

Spray an 8×8 inch pan with cooking spray.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour; mix well.

Pour half of the batter into prepared pan.  Place cookies in single layer over batter.  Cover with remaining batter spreading evenly over the cookies.

Bake 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely.

Melt white chocolate and drizzle over brownies.  Sprinkle with crushed Thin Mints if desired. 

Serve warm or cold!

 

*NOTE: You could follow a similar process using a box mix if you prefer.

 

What else can you do with Thin Mints???

Thin Mint Brownies

Thin Mint Fudge

Thin Mint Truffles

Thin Mint Bark

(Run—>Swim) And CSA Week 2

Back to the training schedule…I had a run or bike AND a swim to get in today.  I was planning to meet my mom for lunch at Whole Foods, which is right by the pool.  So, I hit the pavement in my running shoes for a 60 minute run (a little over 7 miles).  It was a little chilly and PERFECT running weather.  I came home to rehydrate, refuel (sprouted raisin bread with Swiss and an apple), and then hit the pool.

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Everything seemed to take a little longer than expected (I was moving slowly after those 7 miles), so I only had time for 15 minutes in the pool.  About 3 laps in, the fire alarm went off…and it was LOUD!  I definitely considered calling it a day and heading to lunch, but the staff said we could stay in the pool.  And although I was tired and a little hungry, I stuck with it and finished my 15 minute swim, with time for 5 minutes to relax in the hot tub.

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Then, I met my mom for lunch and fun at Whole Foods.  By fun, I mean exploring, sampling, and buying.  For lunch, we split a 12 grain fresh crab sushi roll and we each grabbed some of our favorites from the salad bars.

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Check out some of the fun new snacks we found!  I’ll let you know what we think!!!

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After our adventures in the WF, we met in the parking lot for a food exchange.  I brought my mom some maple AB and vegan zucchini bread, and she had this week’s CSA greens and fresh strawberries.

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I don’t even know what this one is?!

With the afternoon ahead of me, I’m looking forward to a SYTYCD marathon (I am so far behind I’m still on auditions) and then a fresh green salad for dinner.  Happy Friday!