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!

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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!

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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

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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 : )

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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.

Sloppy Joe…Slop Sloppy Joes

Happy Hump Day!

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We’ve finally got some consistent sunshine in these parts.  Woo Hoo!  After my work day, I had to get out and enjoy it.  I walked for a bit while chatting with my SIL. 

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Truth, my workouts have been lacking this week due to my work schedule, so I figured any exercise will help my body and mind.  Our food this week, on the other hand, has been pretty on point!

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This week was a bit different because we started the week with a delicious meal at Wildfire.  My Monday was pretty fantastic, and I was able to whip up some Buffalo Chicken Chili and a new Sloppy Joe recipe.  Thank you Adam Sandler for inspiring my post title!

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Funny Story…the store was out of green peppers, but I remembered that I had a small can of diced green chili peppers in my pantry.  I figured that’d be perfect and dumped them into my turkey.  They looked a bit off and when I looked at the can on it’s way into the recycling, I realized that I just poured a ton of jalapeno peppers into my pan!

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Not surprising as I make mistakes a bunch in the kitchen!  To try to fix it, I pulled out about 75% of them and hoped that they’d add flavor and not be too spicy.

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Instead, when I did my initial taste test, I felt there was an overwhelming mustard flavor.  I am new to eating mustard so may have used the wrong kind.  I poured in more ketchup and BBQ sauce, and the end result was superb!

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So I should admit that growing up I was never that into sloppy joe’s while the BOY claims that he was a huge Manwich fan.  I had to ask him for his opinion of this recipe.  Was it good?  Yes!  Did it taste like sloppy joe’s?  Kind of!  So take that for what it’s worth…a tasty dinner (he made a sandwich while I did a quinoa bowl with avocado), but it may not replicate your childhood favorite meal : )

Would love to chat more about the intricate details of sloppy joe’s, but I’ve got a Blackhawks game to watch!

 

Do you like Sloppy Joe’s?

 

Meal Planning 4/11/16

Monday: Out to Eat

Tuesday: Sloppy Joe’s

Wednesday: Sausages and Veggies

Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Chili

 

Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes

From SkinnyMs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (454 grams) ground turkey breast (raw)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup natural ketchup
  • 1 8 oz can no-salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce

Note: I would recommend combing your sauce well before putting it into the crockpot.  I ended up adjusting my quantities.

Directions

Mist a skillet with oil and brown raw turkey, onions and green pepper over medium heat. (You could skip this step, but you will get a better flavor.)  Place turkey meat, onions & green pepper in the slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. (See Note Above!)  Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or HIGH for 2-3 hours. If you don’t brown the meat first, then cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.

If I Were Telling You About My Day…

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It would start with some yoga.  Not tropical paradise yoga as pictured above, but sweaty studio hot yoga.  I didn’t sleep so great last night, my monkey mind was running wild, and I struggled to stay focused throughout this morning’s challenging class as well.  In the end, I worked hard to stay present but left feeling grounded and empowered.  I love starting my day on my mat!

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I got to go into work a little later than usual and had planned to spend the extra hour enjoying a latte at Starbucks.  When I got home, I realized that I also had time to prep tonight’s dinner (meatloaf in my new meatloaf pan), so I would just have to bake it when I got home at night.  This meant that I wouldn’t have time to do my hair, so I sacrificed my hair for dinner.  I am in desperate need for a cut so I ended up with a ‘crazy hair…don’t care’ situation!

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I cut a few corners with the meatloaf recipe form SkinnyTaste, but kept it as written below. In case you are short on time, just know that you can use Oregano instead of Marjoram and you don’t NEED to sauté your onions (although it will be a bit different).

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With dinner ready to go in the fridge, I drove over to Starbucks with my book, brackets, and a gift card.  I ordered a ginormo latte while I picked a few teams and then dove into my book.  What a fun way to start the day!

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My work day was fairly typical…you know…just working!  However, on my way home I was chatting with my best friend when I changed my mind about parking in the garage.  I switched into reverse looked right, looked left, looked right, looked left and BAM! off went my right side mirror.  Oopps!  I was pretty bummed but what can you do?!

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Objects in mirror are sadder than they appear.  Cooper is just sad because he hadn’t eaten dinner yet : )  I should probably clean my mirror before reattaching it tonight.  The BOY arrived home not too much later with a treat to cheer me up.  It’s tradition to have at least one Shamrock Shake every March!

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Meanwhile, I put dinner in the oven with some roasted cauliflower and made another batch of energy bites.

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Yea, it was just that kind of day!  So my meatloaf turned out amazing!  Let’s just hope we can say the same for my bracket…ha ha!

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We ate dinner after our shakes and are currently debating if we should watch the play in basketball games or a movie.  My vote is Spy with Melissa McCarthy!

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Okay, now to end my day, I have to finish my bracket and find some duck tape to reattach my car mirror.  And maybe try to relax, just a bit.

Tell me about your day…

 

Turkey Meatloaf

From SkinnyTaste

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1.3 lb 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1/4-1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp marjoram (or oregano)
  • salt to taste

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl combine 2 tbsp ketchup with worcestershire sauce.
    Sauté olive oil and onion on low until translucent, remove from heat.  In a medium bowl mix turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, egg, 1/4 cup ketchup, salt and marjoram. Place mixture into a loaf pan or shape into a loaf and place on a baking pan. Spoon sauce on top.
    Bake uncovered for 55-60 minutes, remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

    Random Wordy Wednesday and a Recipe

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    1. THE BLOG

    So although I have blogged a bit less this year, I am still blogging.  Why does this matter?  It came time to renew my domain and despite the fact that blogging does not play as big of a role in my day to day life, I seem to like it enough to sign back up without thinking twice about it.  Speaking of blogging…I do need to update a few pages.  Perhaps that will be part of my 2016 goals.

     

    2. RECIPES

    Speaking of the year ahead…I took the easy way out last week with 2 Ingredient Chicken, but between the BOY and I and all our new kitchen toys, I think we will have more new and unique recipes on LWYD this year.  I am already loving this Cleansing Carrot Ginger Soup (topped with raisins…Mmm!).  This week, I also made turkey meatballs.  Believe it or not I didn’t use my crockpot (it was busy), so I used my other favorite kitchen tool.

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    I should admit that there are people who were made to make meatballs and then there is me.  Have you ever seen meatballs so not round?!  Thankfully, they tasted amazing (even though I left out the bread crumbs).

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    3. WORKOUTS

    Tuesday morning, I was running circles around the track again watching the cold, miserable snow through the windows.  Thank goodness for Serial to keep me company!  I am all caught up and already downloaded a bunch of podcasts for our trip.

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    4. WEATHER

    Brrr!  Baby…it’s cold outside!

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    5. TRAVEL

    Thankfully, it’s getting REALLY close to honeymoon time…

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    Sunshine, here we come!!!  I’ve ordered us TONS of sunscreen, water shoes, snorkels, and more in prep for the big trip which is less than a week away.

     

    6. COOPER

    He is just so darn cute!  Except when he lays on your face in the middle of the night : )

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    What’s on your mind today?

    Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

    From Sally’s Baking Addiction

    Ingredients

    • 1 large egg
    • 1 pound 97-98% lean ground turkey1
    • 1 pound 92-93% lean ground turkey1
    • 2/3 cup (40g) Panko (I omitted this)
    • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
    • 1/4 cup (22g) grated parmesan cheese
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 2 teaspoons dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 large onion sweet onion, sliced
    • two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

    Directions

    1. Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, Panko, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, parmesan, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Mix everything up just so the ingredients are combined – avoid overmixing. Roll into desired size balls – mine were slightly larger than a golfball. Place all rolled meatballs on a large baking sheet.
    2. Place onion slices in the bottom of the crockpot, topped with 1 can of crushed tomatoes.
    3. Coat a large skillet with remaining Tablespoon of olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Lightly brown the meatballs (only 6-8 meatballs at a time) for about 1 minute on each side. Do not skip this step – read above for why. Layer the meatballs into the crockpot as you’re browning each batch. Once all browned meatballs have been added to the crockpot, pour remaining can of tomatoes on top.
    4. Cover and cook on low for 6-6.5 hours. Serve with pasta, as meatball subs, plain, etc. No matter how I serve them, I always top with a little chopped fresh basil. Store leftovers covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

    Sally has a ton of notes, including how to make this without the crockpot like I did, so check them out!

    The First Meal Plan of 2016

    After eating a whole lotta fried food on January 1st, I knew the rest of this week needed to include some greens.  And I had bought some veggies to go with our aps on new years day and…umm…totally forgot about them while I was drinking mimosas and eating off the cheese plate.

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    So, I started my Monday at the gym and then swung by the grocery store on my way home. You will definitely see a theme to this week’s meal plan…lean meats and veggies!  Exactly what we need to start the year off feeling good and energized.

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    I had a busy Monday picking up the pieces of a fun filled 4 day weekend.  When I came home, I found my un used veggies and started making Buffalo Turkey Chili for lunch this week. 

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    It was fun to use our super sharp new knives to easily dice up the veggies.

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    And this is one of my favorite chilies!  Note: recipe is below!  You can make it with chicken or turkey.

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    I had company in the kitchen, who was less helpful and more sing whine for my dinner : )

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    I can’t blame him because I think he is still recovering from his cousin Roscoe’s visit.  On the exercise front, yesterday morning was a run around the track(and more Serial) and tomorrow morning, it’s treadmill intervals.  And I am planning to bring the BOY with me. 

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    Which means, that I will be heading to bed soon.  The goal…to rock the new sale bikini I just bought for under 30$ from Athleta that finally arrived in the mail today.  #Countdowntohoneymoon

     

    Meal Planning 1/04/15

    Monday: Turkey Burgers and Sprouts

    Tuesday: Chicken Tacos (made from 2 Ingredient Chicken)

    Wednesday: Fish and Veggies

    Thursday: Pork and Veggies

    Lunch: Buffalo Turkey Chili

    What I’ve Been Working On

    I meant to have this post out earlier this week, but better late than never!

    Checking In…

    I’ve been working on a few things lately.  You know in the pursuit of becoming and better me and all  : )

    Here is a taste of what’s been going through my mind this week…

    10 Minute Work Breaks

    I’ve initiated a 10 minute walk rule during my 4 long work days.  This means exactly what it sounds like.  Some time during the day, I make it a point to walk out the door into the sunshine for a 10 minute recharge walk. Sometimes I think about stuff I’ve been working on and other times I bring a friend to chat.  I’m wondering if it will catch on in my office.  If the weather disagrees with this plan, I’ve downloaded a bunch of 10 minute meditation podcasts.  Which brings us to the next point…

     

    Meditation

    Somewhere in the past few months, I’ve gotten more interested in this complex concept known as meditation.  Maybe it’s because I thought that it was challenging and cumbersome (especially for an energetic monkey mind like me).  But after a few experiences, I am discovering that there is no right way to meditate.  My thoughts can even join me as I sit.  And that there are countless benefits to a multitasking mover, much like myself.  So far… this just means that I have been exploring the idea with podcasts and books, attending a free meditation with my mom, and doing a 10 minute mindful meditation with my coworker one time.  I’d say I’m in the interested phase and interested to see where this all goes.

     

    My Blog

    I still like writing it…do people still read it?

     

    Cooking

    I’ve taken the easy route this spring and allowing the BOY to handle most dinner prep.  This is because he is home before me and LOVES to grill up tasty meats and delicious veggies.  Plus, our weekends have been so busy that I haven’t made time (between tennis and wedding stuff) to actually plan.  No problem…right?  Except that I miss my kitchen time, searching out new recipes and giving them a go.  So I am going to make an effort to cook and share more meals with you.  This week, it was an adaptation to everyone’s favorite Sloppy Joe’s.  See Recipe Below!

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    Eat Whole Foods

    And WAY more greens and veggies.  Getting greens into every meal takes more effort and more prep and as my life has gotten busier, there has been a little bit less and then a little bit less.  I’d like to rely less on convenience foods and get back to eating just the whole foods that I enjoy and make my body feel good.

     

    Getting Married

    Balancing the wants and needs, families, and ideas.   Trying to keep up with all that needs to be done.  Getting hitched is like a full time job with a lot more emotion.  Right now, I am working on invites.

     

    Prison

    Random…right?  The BOY and I started Orange is the New Black which got us debating about who would survive the best in prison.  I’m an obvious front runner.

     

    Goals and Running

    New month…new goals!  I am getting back into my running routine, but it has been challenging to get in AM runs because the path near my house has been so empty.  In an attempt to be more safe, I bought runner’s mace.   I want to start increasing distance for my 10 miler at the end of May and a triathlon this summer.  So I am hoping that traffic on the path picks up as the weather is picking up.

     

    April Goals

    Begin tri training (including swimming)- I did get to a spin class, but I haven’t yet submerged myself in the pool.  I need to set my tri schedule all set this weekend!

    Play tennis– Yay! We have been hitting the courts. So fun!

    Cook healthy and delicious meals-I haven’t been doing this consistently but I do have a fabulous recipe for you below.

    Spring Clean-We did a big spring cleaning and it felt great.

    Create powerful and fun kids yoga classes-I’m having fun and I think the kids are too. I’ve had a few kids swing by to try the class and every one has decided to come back.  Only one more class this session, so I’ll have to make it memorable!

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    May Goals

    Get into a tri training routine

    Eat whole foods (and lots of greens)

    Get outside…play tennis, go hiking!

    Keep up with my 10 minute daily mind break

     

     

    Clean Loaded Sloppy Joe with a Kick

    Adapted From 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth

    Ingredients
    1 pound lean ground turkey
    1 yellow onion, finely chopped
    6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
    1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
    1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
    1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
    1 can (14 ounces, or 392 g) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
    1 can (14 ounces, or 392 g) tomato sauce
    1 1⁄2 tablespoons (30 g) blackstrap molasses
    1 1⁄2 tablespoons (23 ml) apple cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice

    Directions
    In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the turkey and onion and cook until the meat is completely browned, no pink remaining, about 6
    minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute.
    Drain any excess oils and transfer the contents to a slow cooker.
    Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 5 to 6 hours, or until the vegetables
    are tender.

    Friendsgiving in April

    When I was in college, my roommates and I decided to do a Thanksgiving in March celebration.  Now mind you…only one of us (not me…the fact that I cook still surprises some of my college friends) knew how to cook a thing and the rest of us were easily able to provide some sort of prepackaged food which was enjoyed in our stretchiest pants.  I know that somewhere I have a picture of us all proud and enjoying this dinner but I can’t find it anywhere.  You’ll have to settle with this college Hanukkah celebration photo instead : )

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    Fast forward many, many years to the BOY and I hosting our first Thanksgiving.  When all was done and the BOY’s first turkey devoured and raved about, he looked at me and said ‘This is fun…why do we only do this one time every year?’.  Not wanting to wait, we decided to invite our friends over for a Friendsgiving in March celebration that due to busy spring schedules was rescheduled to last night.

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    The BOY made turkey and I did a simple cheese plate appetizer.  Everyone arrived with arms full of delicious Thanksgiving classics.

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    The weather was gorgeous and so we got to enjoy being outside for the first time in a long time!

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    When it came time for dinner, the BOY pulled his beautiful turkey off the grill, and everyone heated up their colorful sides.  We, of course, took a moment to say what we were thankful for before diving RIGHT in.

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    We had pie for dessert and the entire evening was really fun and a huge success!  I’d say a new tradition was born…