dancing the night away.

What pulled me through yesterday’s 12 mile run:

  • Your comments!  Talk about some serious motivation.
  • Mind tricks.  I pretended that I had a rope tied around my waist and that my dad was pulling me.  This didn’t work so well when he disappeared from view, but the visual cue was still there.  It worked!
  • Bottling some energy for the last 2-mile stretch.  Another mind trick.  I didn’t “open” that bottle of energy until I needed it the most.
  • Praying!  Random people popped into my head during the run.  Twelve miles offers a lot of time to think and pray. :D
Everything ached by the end of the run, but I was incredibly ecstatic all at the same time.  I’ve never run this far before and I never thought I could do this.  THANK YOU for all of the motivation and inspiration! :D
And then I partied the night away at my cousin’s wedding. :D
AJ and Stacey’s Wedding: A Photo Montage

(p.s. The secret to wearing heels when you’ve never been a “heel wearer” is to invest in a pair of comfortable wedges.  The front of these shoes was a good 1 inch or so off the ground, so even though it was giving me height, there were no weird angles!)

There’s never a normal picture with my brother and I.  Somehow we always feel the need to make funny faces. ;)

Reusable place setting tags…LOVE it!

Love.

I. Heart. Wedding. Cake.  :mrgreen:

Congratulations, Stacey and AJ!!  The wedding was absolutely beautiful and everyone had such a blast!

QUESTION: What is your favorite thing about weddings (besides the food! ;) )

stuffed to the gills.

Sometimes—when I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed, tired, or downright cranky—it feels good to chop an onion.

A lot has been happening these past few weeks.  Nothing really, really bad.  And nothing too crazy either.  Just—a lot.  I’m realizing that the weekends aren’t enough to bring me back to normal, and so I’ve been relying on my sharpest kitchen knives and a few good recipes, as my greatest form of stress management. ;)

Tonight I felt like making stuffed vegetarian peppers.

I’ve been wanting to make stuffed peppers for some time now.  Hesitation is what has held me back for so long.  Thoughts of my mom’s famous hamburg stuffed peppers, lingering in the back of my mind.  Memories of a recipe that was handed down from my mom’s mom’s mom, to my mom’s mom, and then to my mom (and eventually to me.)  That’s kind of a lot of pressure to put on a girl.

But I decided, after all, that I still wanted a vegetarian stuffed pepper to call my own.  And if I found a recipe that was unique enough, it could become a new recipe to add to my collection.  Not a replacement.  Never a replacement.  I’m sure the long line of French Canadian women wouldn’t mind hearing that I experimented in the kitchen (although there may be a few eyebrows raised at the idea of having a meatless meal!)  ;)

To find a well deserving recipe, I pulled out my stack of magazines.  That’s when I stumbled across a Vegetarian Times Magazine, which proudly boasted pictures of stuffed peppers, smothered in a rich cheddar cheese.  I had all the ingredients on hand to make such a pepper.  It was obviously meant to be.

Recipe? Found.  Cooking utensils? Ready.  Apron? On.  Stress Management Class may now commence.

By this point in the recipe, you’ll have an onion and two stalks of celery simmering in a bit of olive oil on the stove.  For about 5 minutes or so.  The cumin and garlic are then added for a minute more of cooking (thanks to an informative reader for letting me know that this short duration of heat upon spice really does intensify the flavors…)

Moving on.  Drain the juice from 2 cans of diced tomatoes, but save it for later.  You’ll see why, later on in the recipe.

Add the diced tomatoes and 10-oz. of dethawed & drained frozen spinach to your onion mixture.

(I probably failed to mention this earlier, but you’ll also want to have a pot of brown rice going at this time, unless you’re taking the quinoa route (see recipe below for the details!) 

Meanwhile, grate 3 large carrots.  If you’re like me, you’ll want to peel an extra one for munching. ;)

Mix all ingredients together.

(All Ingredients = Cooked brown rice.  Spinach.  Tomatoes.  Black beans.  Carrots.  Cheese.)

Stir, Stir, Stir.

I’m pretty sure that any leftover filling (because this recipe does make extra filling) will find its way into a tortilla wrap or atop a salad.  The flavor is superb.

But a wrap or a salad was not meant for tonight.  Tonight, I forged ahead and decided to stick completely to the written recipe, halving and coring the freshest bell peppers that I could find, and stuffing them to the gills. 

After the procedure of stuffing the peppers was finished, I covered them with a tight seal of foil, popped them in a 350 degree oven, turned the timer to an hour and then I did something that I never do.

I left my mess behind.

Washing dishes is a little like brushing my teeth.  I can’t not do it immediately after a meal. 

But I came to the conclusion that the dishes could wait.  The sunshine could not.  So with an hours worth of time, I went for a walk.  And I’d recommend you do the same if you have a spare 30 minutes or so before your next meal.  It felt absolutely luxurious. :D

When I strolled back in, there was a good 15 minutes left on the timer. 

Just enough time to melt a bit of cheddar cheese on top of the peppers.  Just enough time to braise some brussels sprouts.  Just enough time to get those dishes done and out of the way. :D

The meal was fabulous and earned tablewide compliments.  The flavors were very complex and came together beautifully.  Next time I may try adding some salsa to the mix, or a jalapeno for some x-tra spice. 

Needless to say, I’ll be making these again. 

(Especially since they pack up nicely for next-day-lunches!)

Stuffed Peppers
Vegetarian Times, February 2009—plus some minor tweaking

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, finely choped
  • 1 T. cround cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 10-oz. package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2-15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1-15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 c. quinoa (OR, cook 1 c. dry rice as directed on package)
  • 3 large carrots, grated
  • 1-1/2 c. grated, reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 large red, green or yellow bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and celery, cook 5 minutes or until soft.  Add cumin and garlic, saute 1 minute.  Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes.  Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

2. If using quinoa: Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 c. water.  Cover, bring to a boil for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender.  Stir in 1 c. cheese.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
If using rice: Stir in black beans, cooked rice, and carrots.  Stir, reduce heat to low and stir in cheese.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Preheat oven to 350F.  Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa or rice mixture, and place in baking dish.  Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour.  Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 T. remaining cheese.  Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.

Today’s Challenge: Do something that you really love and enjoy, as a form of “stress management.”  Go for a walk.  Brush your cat.  Paint your nails.  Bake some muffins.  Look through old pictures.  Make a cup of tea and do absolutely nothing for 15 minutes…(what is your favorite stress buster?)

Weekend Highlights

SATURDAY

Some weekends are made for relaxing and doing absolutely nothing at all.

Some weekends are made for going out with friends and family and just having fun. 

Some weekends happen to include the best of both worlds. :D

Matthew and Kelsey came down for the weekend, so we (Nicole, Nate and I) went to meet up for drinks and appetizers on Saturday night.  

Nicole and I split the Mediterranean Hummus Plate.  It was filled with feta cheese, kalamata olives, and fresh veggies.  The grilled pita chips were so perfect; flaky on the surface but warm and doughy on first bite.  Perfect.

We ended up talking most of the night away.  I can’t remember the last time that I went to bed so late, but it actually felt really good.  Especially since I’ll have available catch-up time on Monday morning (not that our bodies can truly, honestly, ever “catch up” according to the sleep experts, but I gave a big *harumph* to that idea for this weekend! ;)

SUNDAY

I’m pretty sure God knew what He was doing when He decided to give us Sunday as a day of rest.  We all deserve the break, really, and it felt wonderful to have nothing on the ol’ to-do list.  

Nothing.

Nothing but a nice long walk with the family.  

Have I ever mentioned how in love I am with the fall?  I wish it would never end. :D

We ran across a big black cow on our walk, and he (she?) was the sweetest thing ever.  I was hoping it would follow us home, but to no avail.  I guess he must have decided that the grass was much greener on his own side of the fence. ;)

Dad treated us to dinner from our family favorite pizza shop, and we all crowded around the table to indulge in a veggie pizza.  The perfect ending for the weekend, if I do say so myself. :D

I love busy, fun-filled Saturdays.

I love, love, love lazy Sundays.

Love. :D

Question: What made you *smile* this weekend? 

‘3’ vs. ‘6’

My alarm clock seemed extra loud this morning.  Loud and extra, extra, extra obnoxious.

It woke me with a jolt, as I literally made a flying leap through the air in order to shut the alarm off.  Somehow I even managed to hit the off button while air-borne.  I thought this was pretty cool until I realized that I had flung myself further than I actually needed to, resulting in a loud thud as my head hit the wall.  Whomp.

Apparently, it’s Thursday, because after my initial daze, I simply laughed.  :mrgreen:  If it was Monday, there may have been (very) different consequences. ;)

Thursdays are usually my strength training slash yoga day.  But a walk sounded so appealing, that I just ate my breakfast and went.  I think it’s the unusual warm weather that’s making me want to spend extra time outdoors.  It is the official first full day of fall, after all.  The chilly weather will be permanently here before we know it.

Breakfast: whole wheat bagel with almond butter and a banana

A big ol’ fresh salad for lunch!  Complete with all my favorite mix-ins…

  • mesculin greens
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)
  • black olives, sliced
  • olive oil
  • feta cheese

Yogurt In A Jar!

I layered some orange slices on the bottom, plopped on some plain yogurt, and sandwiched the yogurt in with a sliced kiwi.  The fruit juices dispersed throughout the yogurt, creating a naturally sweetened morning snack.

There was also an apple and some whole wheat bunny crackers to accompany the salad. :D

There was a recent research article done, looking at whether “grazing” throughout the day (in this case, referring to 6 mini meals) or eating 3 square meals a day was more beneficial in controlling appetite.  The study revealed that the 3 square meals was actually more beneficial in the long run than the grazing method. 

However, that being said, I would have to look at more of the details in the study.  Personally, I find that having a morning and an afternoon snack keeps hunger at bay and prevents any gorging at the next meal.  Especially when the snacks involve a good source of protein and some fiber.  And flavor.  Which is equally important. ;)

But really, keeping blood sugar levels stable can make all the difference in how you feel by the end of the day.  Eating every 3-4 hrs. is an important aspect of any healthy diet.  

Afternoon Snack: Raisin bran with milk

I’ve been making a lot of appetizers these past few days.

There’s something about having a lil’ something to tease the palate before the main meal.

Tonight I had a ramekin filled with homemade Onion Soup (recipe to follow.)  The onions cook down, down, down.  Into a state of absolute, caramelized bliss.  It’s a beautiful thing.  It also makes the perfect appetizer soup.

But before you think I’m getting too snooty or that I might possibly have too much time on my hands, you should know that Onion Soup is possibly the easiest soup you will ever make.  You should also know that my main entree did not revolve around filet mignon or leg of lamb. ;)

Yes.  It is totally okay to precede your dinner with a bowl of Onion Soup, winning you looks of admiration across the table.  (Nobody has to know that it took you a mere 30 minutes from start to finish.)

And it’s totally okay to call a bowl of “un”overnight oats your dinner.   Absolutely a-okay.

“Un”overnight Oats:

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • cinnamon, nutmeg
  • mixed, lightly salted nuts

I added in a side of steamed broccoli to squeak in some greens as well. ;)

I can’t believe that I actually have a day off tomorrow!  It’s been go, go, go lately.  Constantly.  I am so looking forward to having a day to just catch up.  Especially since I have a busy (but fun!) weekend planned.

Question: Do you tend to eat 3 square meals a day or do you aim for more of a 6 meal a day approach?  What works better for you and why?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Onion Soup
taken from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbok (and tweaked just a lil’)

  • 2 T. butter
  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 4 c. hot water
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • black pepper
  1. Melt butter in a kettle or Dutch oven.  Add onions and salt and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add mustard and thyme; stir and cover.  Cook on low for about 15 more minutes.
  3. Add hot water, soy sauce and pepper.  Simmer at least 10 more minutes.
  4. ENJOY! :D

breakfast in a hurry

Sometimes I like to spend hours in the kitchen. 

Throwing together homemade samosas and carrot soup, all on a whim.  Just because I can.

And then there are times when I need short-cuts.

Let’s take steel cut oats as an example.

Steel cut oats take a good 30-40 minutes of your attention.  This is fine for lazy weekends, but not so much for a busy week day.  What’s a busy girl to do?

Well, duh.  There are rolled oats for people like us.

But, really, sometimes you want steel cut oats.  They impart a deliciously nutty bite, and may even keep you full longer since the digestion time is increased.  I like to think of it in this way: steel cut oats > rolled oats > instant oats.  In regards to the fullness factor, anyways.

I’ve discovered that there is indeed a short cut to having steel cut oats during the week.  And that is simply to prepare one heeping batch at the beginning of the week and pop it in the fridge.

Four servings worth of steel cut oats.  Just cut it, pop it in a microwave safe bowl, throw in your favorite fillings and heat to desired temperature.  In 3-4 minutes, you’ll have steel cut oats for a busy, week day breakfast!!

This morning I had to drive in early for a Food Service Director’s meeting, which meant that breakfast needed to be extra, extra quick to throw together.  Cha, cha, chilly oats became my breakfast of choice.

  • 1 serving of steel cut oats (about 1/4 c. uncooked)
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 2 T. craisins
  • toppings: granola and almond butter

Served with hot tea for a lil’ warmth on a chilly morning. :D

Another busy day tomorrow.  But hopefully by the end I will be ServSafe certified! :mrgreen:

Question: Do you have any “secret” shortcuts for meals/snacks/breakfasts that would normally take a long time to make?

orange you glad?

Prepare yourselves.  This post is about to explain to you why my hands are orange. ;)

Reason #1: It all started with a humble carrot.

Carrots never crossed my mind as a kid.  I ate them, yes.  But they were nothing special.  And then my tastebuds discovered carrot cake, which is when I realized that carrots were God’s gift to man.  And then—then!—a whole new world of flavor opened up, and I realized that carrots were not meant solely for cakes (although some might argue this fact.)  I ate them roasted.  Honey glazed.  Plain.  Raw.  With dip.  Grated in oatmeal.  Dunked in peanut butter. 

Yes.  I ate carrots.  Lots and lots of carrots.

Reason #2: After my newfound love for the carrot, I discovered canned pumpkin. 

I grew up hating pumpkin pie.  Absolute hatred!!  To this day, I can not eat it.  Which is such a shame, because I’m convinced that aside from a roasted turkey, pumpkin pie is the heart and sole of Thanksgiving. 

However, once I discovered that it was just pumpkin pie that I didn’t like, and not so much the actual pumpkin, a whole new world opened up.  Pumpkin bread.  Pumpkin lattes.  Pumpkin muffins.  And now that I’ve fully stocked up on Libby’s canned pumpkin, I’m including pumpkin in my breakfasts as well.

Breakfast Pumpkin Cookie—(the texture of this “cookie” most closely resembles that of “overnight oats”)

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 T. peanut butter
  • 2 T. cranberries (I use ‘Craisins’)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl, mashing well with a fork.
  2. Spread evenly across a plate.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. ENJOY! :D

Reason #4: Lastly, I am obsessed with the sweet potato, which destroys any hopes of my hands ever returning to normal.

Tonight I opened up my Moosewood Cookbook and pulled out a recipe for Samosas.  Sticking mostly to the recipe, I did make some substitutions.  Like using all whole wheat flour in place of the white.

I also turned up my nose to the white potatoes and subbed in 1 large sweet potato instead.  I’m sure you would agree that the sweet potato makes for a much more colorful, tasty filling.  :D

The dough to these Samosas was so fun to work with.  It was super stretchy and flexible.  I pulled it, smashed it, rolled it, and stretched it. 

And then I preceded to fill, fill, fill these babies up.

I may have overstuffed these guys just a little, but the dough was very forgiving.

The results were worth the 2 hours of prepping and baking time.  So, so, so worth it!

It was love, my friends.  Love at first bite.

Reason #5: Eaten with herbed carrot soup.  Of course. ;)

So there you have it.  I have an obsession with all things orange, and there’s just no stopping me.

Samosa Recipe—from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, as seen on the Food Network website

The Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups flour (used whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
  • Extra flour as needed

The Filling:

  • 2 large potatoes (the size of a large person’s fist)–used sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup finely minced onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander (if available)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked green peas (frozen, thawed=fine)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Cayenne, to taste

Directions

Dough 1) Place the flour in a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the salt. 2) Make a well in the center, and add the buttermilk or yogurt. Mix first with a spoon and then with your hand, to make a smooth dough. 3) Add extra flour, as needed, to keep the dough from being sticky. The dough will be quite soft. knead in the bowl for about 5 minutes. Cover tightly and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pastries.

Filling: 1) Peel the potatoes and chop them into 1-inch pieces. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil until very soft. Drain and transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Mash and set aside. 2)Melt the butter in a heavy skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, coriander, and salt. Saute over medium heat about 8 to 10 minutes, or until onions are quite soft. Add this to the mashed potatoes, along with the remaining ingredients. Mix well, but try not to smash the peas. Cool for at least 15 minutes before filling the pastries.

To Assemble and Bake: 1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Generously oil a baking sheet. 2) Keep a small container of flour, a fork, a small bowl of water, and a pastry brush close at hand. Flour a clean surface, and, one by one, roll 1-inch balls of dough into 5-inch circles, using a rolling pin. 3) Place approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons filling in the center of each circle, and fold over, just like a turnover. Brush the inside edges of each circle with a little water, and fold the edges together to make a small hem. Crimp the edges firmly with a fork. Note: If you are storing the samosas to bake later on, place them on a heavily floured plate or tray, dust the tops with more flour, and cover tightly. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until baking time. 4) To bake: Place the samosas on the oiled baking sheet. Brush the tops with oil. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F., then reduce heat to 375 degrees F. and bake for 10 minutes more. For maximum crispness, turn the samosas over when you turn the oven down. 5) Serve within 5 minutes of baking, with Dipping Sauce. A nice way to serve the sauce is in individual saucers or tiny bowls, so each person can hold both samosa and sauce directly under his or her face while eating, and the sauce bowl can catch the drips. (It does drip, but that’s one of the charms of this ritual.)

The Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1) Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves. 2) Heat to boiling, then let simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. it will reduce slightly. 3) Serve warm or at room temperature with hot samosas.

Question: If you turned the color of what you eat the most, what color would you be?

building menus

I slept in this morning!  And I loved every delicious minute. :mrgreen:

There are some times when it’s necessary to kick yourself out the door and into your regular workout routine.  And then there are other times—such as today—when the healthiest option is to just rest.

I’ve been playing limbo with a lingering cold this past week.  It’s like my immune system is playing tug-of-war with a stuffy head.  My bets are on my immune system.  It’s just taking a little longer than I would like. ;)  Needless to say, the extra sleep felt good.  Amazing, actually.  Sometimes you just have to listen to your body. 

My bowl of oat bran was exceptionally creamy this morning.  I think it’s due to the ripe banana and chia seeds.  So yummy!

  • 1 c. lowfat milk
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • cinnamon + nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. oat bran
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 T. dried cranberries
  1. Bring milk, banana, and spices to a boil.
  2. Add in oat bran, chia seeds and cranberries.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 6 minutes, whipping every so often.

Creamy.  Creamy.  Oh so creamy!

Today, my internship involved grocery shopping.  And I loved it. :mrgreen:

Yesterday involved a meeting with a mom whose son has celiac disease.  She’s concerned about what he can eat, his own personal self esteem issues related to this new diet, being able to still “fit in” with the other kids, etc.  It was awesome being there to listen in on the conversation between her and the food service director.  I can’t wait until it’s my turn to educate someday. 

At least I had the opportunity to create a brochure and a 2-week cycle menu for the boy with celiac.  I had to keep the school’s budget in mind, as well as making it as easy as possible on the food service workers.  Thankfully, there was a little wiggle room to be able to purchase special gluten-free products, which instantly helped with helping him still “fit in” with the other kids.  This is where the grocery shopping came in. 

I found a gluten-free pizza crust, along with some tortilla wraps for deli sandwiches.  Pastas, gluten free cereals, rice cakes, cheesesticks, sun-butter, and other such foods found their way into the menu too.  Fun!

On my own lunch menu for today: 2 slices Arnold German Dark Wheat Bread, 1/4 c. roasted red pepper hummus, grated carrot and thinly sliced green bell peppers

I always forget about bringing yogurt for snacks! 

Today I packed up some plain yogurt with a chopped orange and a sprinkle of pumpkin flax granola.  This kept me full between an early breakfast and a later lunch. :D

I also snagged an apple and some chopped carrots, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes for an afternoon snack.

My Food Service Preceptor told me that the Au Bon Pain chicken noodle soup from the school was delicious, and it sounded so perfect for my sore throat.  I grabbed a small dish to accompany my sandwich and it was absolutely perfect.  Not too salty tasting, like some other chicken noodle soups out there, and the carrots still had a nice firm bite to them.

Fun.  Lunch.

The rest of the afternoon zipped by in a flash. 

Menu planning, union meetings, and making brochures left me (a) ready for a walk and (b) ready for dinner.  I ate dinner first and went for a 3-mile walk afterwards.  Both were amazing. :D

Veggie Pizza Slice #1 (see recipe page)

Veggie Pizza Slice #2

Plus greenage! 

Mesculin greens, carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, olives.  Drizzled with EVOO.  I like my salads kept plain and simple these days. :D

I am now off to unwind a bit before another busy day begins tomorrow.  I have a seminar class with my fellow interns, and I’m excited to see what everyone’s been up to.  :D

Question: How do you treat a sore throat?  Ideas?  My mom is convinced that gargling with salt water is key, but I just can’t do it.  Usually I stick to teas and hot bowls of oats.  It’s a temporary fix, but it still makes me feel better. ;)

cha-cha-chillin’ out

How pretty are these roses from our flower garden??

The kitchen was intoxicated with the sweet, lingering smell of fresh roses this morning.  Mmm…

This morning, I decided to squeak in an early morning run since I had that extra hour before heading to work.

First I had a nice hot bowl of oatbran.  Same ol’, same ol’ as yesterday’s bowl.  The cranberries in the warm, creamy liquid are the star of the show.  They really plump up and add such a nice touch of sweet and tart. :D

I like to follow these guidelines with cold morning runs:

<30 degrees: Under Armour Tights with shorts + t-shirt + Under Armour long sleeved shirt
<50 degrees: Under Armour Tights with shorts + t-shirt
>50 degrees: Shorts + t-shirt or tank top

For the most part, these simple guidelines work like a charm.  The temperature is already dropping to 42 degrees in the early morning, which means I’ve been running in warmer running tights.  It’s not quite cold enough to switch to wearing long sleeves yet, but we’ll be there before you know it.  I even saw my breath this morning! 

New seasons make me so excited! :D 

My legs felt really fresh for my morning run.  I took the past few days off from running, sticking only with my regular walking routine.  The rest was was *so* worth it.  Three miles of running felt easy! :D

Lunch was kept fresh and simple today!

  • mixed greens
  • cucumbers
  • yellow and red garden tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • cheese stick
  • carrot
  • mushrooms
  • olive oil and sea salt

With some kashis, an apple, and a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar for snacks.

I’m sticking to my original thoughts on these “new” larabar flavors.  Fun, yummy, but a little too pricey for my liking.  Although this one might be worth buying now and again.  Soooo sweet and chocolatey. :D

Afternoon Snack: yogurt + natures path pumpkin flax granola + teddy peanut butter

My throat was feeling a little funky tonight.  Not really sore, not really scratchy, but kind of just…you know…funky.

A hot bowl of split pea soup felt oh so right. :D

(see recipe page for recipe!)

On the side, I had a melted sharp cheddar cheese quesadilla. 

Simply heat up a frying pan, spray with cooking spray, and toss on a whole wheat tortilla wrap.  Sprinkle with sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/4 c. per person) and fold in half.  Flip and toast to perfection!

+ steamed broccoli and mixed veggies for that little somethin’ extra

I finished the night off with a hunk of 88% dark chocolate. :D

I. Am. So. Tired. Tonight.

I think I’m running on chronic sleep deprivation, due to early mornings and late nights.  There’s no excuse for going to bed late last night.  Just that I stayed up a little too late watching the end of LOST.  I waited to see the end of the series until I caught up with all the reruns.  I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but…the ending?!?  Not a fan.

Off to relax for the night and hopefully go to bed early.  Happy Hump Day! :D

Question: Does your workout routine change at all once the cooler weather rolls around? 

workin’ hard in the kitchen

I woke up at 5:15 this morning. 

No alarms were needed to wake me up.  Just the warm and comforting thought of a hot shower and a hot bowl of oat bran.  Mmm…

Using my basic oatbran method in the recipe page, I also added in some dried cranberries and topped it all off with some lightly salted mixed nuts (ah-mazing!!)

Trail mix meets oat bran.  In one yummy, delicious bowl.  Worth.  Waking.  Up.  For. :mrgreen:

The kitchen of the High School was b-b-b-busy this morning!  I immediately threw on some gloves and got to work.  After pouring out 1/2 c. portions of peaches, I helped make pizza.

It was so much fun stretching out the dough and swirling on the red pizza sauce.  The olive oil and herb mixture that was placed around the crust smelled absolutely heavenly!  I also made some calzones, which was the “special” of the day.  Fun! 

All of this working in the kitchen immediately brought me back to my days of working at an assisted living facility.  It was hard work, and at the end of the day I would always be physically and mentally exhausted.  Completely.  But there is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing people enjoy the food that you worked hard to put together.  Especially when they actually enjoyed it…haha. ;) 

Four hours into working at the high school, and I was oh-so-ready to dig into my lunch bag!

First, a morning snack: an apple and a cheesestick

I like to use up leftovers.  This explains my lunch. :mrgreen:

  • 1 c. cooked brown rice (leftover!)
  • about 1 c. of sauteed summer squash & zucchini (leftover!)
  • about 1/2 c. roasted turnips (leftover!)
  • 1/2 c. kidney beans
  • salsa and parsley

Brown rice is so versatile and makes for an awesome lunch when mixed with veggies and a protein source.  I devoured every last, delicious bite.

Afternoon Snack: 6-oz. yogurt + 2 T. Pumpkin Flax Granola + Almond Butter

 Return Of The Tofu Press!!!

Wait.  That’s not tofu.  Oh, you’re right.

That would be frozen, dethawed spinach.  I’ve heard that the tofu press works well with those kinds of things, but I’ve never actually tried it.  Until tonight, that is, while making a spaghetti pie. 

This baby worked like a charm. :D

Mom and I both had the late afternoon off today, so we both got our hands dirty in the kitchen.  It was fun having a cooking companion. :D

On the menu: Vegetarian Spaghetti Pie (hint: call it Spaghetti Pie if you have family members who are still wary of eating vegetarian dishes ;) )

Vegetarian Spaghetti Piecourtesy of Eat Well, Live Well Cookbook…with some tweaking

  • 8-oz. whole wheat spaghetti noodles, uncooked
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded and separated
  • 1/2 c. onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. green pepper, chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 c. fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 can (6-oz) tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1-10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook spaghetti in boiling water according to package directions; drain.  Add oil, eggs and 1/4 c. of mozzarella cheese.
  3. Press mixture onto the bottom of a 14-inch pizza pan coated with nonstick spray.  Build the edges high to form a crust.  Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. In a nonstick skillet cook the onion, green pepper and garlic until tender.  Stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, basil oregano, and salt.  Set aside.
  5. Spread ricotta cheese over top of spaghetti crust.  Layer mozzarella cheese on top.  Layer the spinach on top of this and then the tomato mixture.
  6. Cover the pie with foil and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 2-3 minutes.

Makes about 6 servings.

Meanwhile, while the spaghetti pie was baking, I threw together a larger than life salad.

Complete with yellow & red tomatoes, EVOO, sea salt, black olives, ‘shrooms, carrots, cucumbers and celery.  Fresh, fresh, F-R-E-S-H!!!

About 20 minutes of baking time later, and this came out.

Melty.  Ooey-gooey.  Saucy.  Rich.  Fresh.

Not even being a pasta fan, I am in love with this recipe.  It very closely resembles a vegetarian lasagna, with the red sauce tasting much like a marinara.  So yummy.  I think the overall recipe could use some extra vegetables (mushrooms, summer squash, etc.) to reach perfection, but it’s well on its way.  Feel free to mess with this recipe and make it your own. :D

I get to go in an hour later tomorrow (8’oclock vs. 7’oclock!), so I have high hopes for a morning run.  I’m not at all looking forward to running in the winter, but I’m absolutely loving my chilly autumn runs. :D

Question: What was your favorite job that you have ever had?  For me, it was definitely working at a service dog training facility.  Playing with & training golden retriever puppies all day and getting paid for it?  Um…yeah.  It doesn’t get better.

(not) meant to be

Eight hours of sleep and feelin’ good! :mrgreen:

I forgot how deliciously creamy oat bran is, when cooked with chia seeds!!!

  • 1 c. lowfat milk
  • 3/4 c. water
  • seasonings: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla
  • 1/4 c. oatbran
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 c. wheat bran
  • toppings: FEED apple granola, walnuts, maple syrup
  1. Bring milk, water and seasonings to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add in oatbran, apple, and chia seeds.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Once beginning to thicken, add wheat bran and cook for one more minute.
  4. TOP as desired! :D

Morning Snack: Orange and mixed nuts

A morning headache converted my original plans of a 5-mile run into a 4-mile walk.  I welcomed the change in pace.  Despite taking yesterday off from running, I just wasn’t feeling it today.  A walk felt 10 times more refreshing for this morning’s workout.

That being said, I’m going to need to really do some schedule tweaking for this upcoming week’s workout routine.  I think I foresee many “night runs” in my not-so-distant future. ;)

My morning walk left me hungry, and I was completely ready to eat by noon.

Brown rice.

Roasted Turnips.

Leftover Bruschetta Chicken (from yesterday.)

The Bruschetta Chicken is my new favorite recipe.  I first tried it about a month ago, when Nicole had us over for dinner.  She served it alongside her homemade foccaccia bread, caesar salad and a zucchini stir fry.  Home cooking at its finest.  My Memere would have been proud. :D

This chicken dish is worthy of being served for company but quick enough to get on the table for any day of the week.  Best of all, it’s kept healthy with a few simple ingredients, including lycopene rich tomatoes.  Lycopene is an antioxidant known mostly for its effect in reducing cancer risks.

I followed the recipe—almost completely—but modified it just a bit by using real egg whites, whole wheat flour/breadcrumbs in place of white, and cutting back just a bit on the salt.  This meal turned out delicious and reheated well for the use of leftovers.  It makes for the perfect autumn meal. :D

Bruschetta Chickencourtesy of Taste of Home

  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. egg whites
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4-oz. each)
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. dry breadcrumbs (I made my own, toasting whole wheat bread in the oven until dried out and processing with basil & oregano for spices)
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 T. fresh minced basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Place flour and eggs in separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken in eggs, then in flour; place in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Combine the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over chicken.
  2. Loosely cover baking dish with foil. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 160-165.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Spoon over the chicken. Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes or until tomato mixture is heated through. Yield: 4 servings.

Can I just say how excited I am to see turnips in my kitchen again? :mrgreen:

Autumn, how I love you.

Post-lunch sweetness!

Afternoon Snack: cheesestick and whole grain pretzels

I’m telling you, it was not meant for me to go running today.

First, there was this morning’s headache that turned my intentional run into a walk.

And then there was tonight—before dinner—when I decided that a 3-mile run sounded like a good idea.  I was one mile in, feeling strong, and suddenly—out of nowhere—it began to rain.  You guys know me by now.  I love running in the rain.  It was completely lovely.  But then I saw a lightning flash and heard its companion (aka thunder) bark with an incredible fierceness that made my heart skip a beat, my hair stand on end, and my feet feel as numb as an icecube.  I sprinted through puddles and dirt, bolting towards home.  It was probably the quickest 2-miles I’ve done in a long time. :mrgreen:

I love rain.  I’m scared of thunder.  And that’s the truth. ;)

Time for dinner!

  • mixed greens
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 c. kidney beans
  • black olives
  • 1/2 c. whipped, 1% cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp olive oil

+ kashi crackers.

I love a fresh, crunchy salad for dinner! 

I also love dark chocolate for dessert.

I just bought a new binder and planner today!  I tried getting myself used to the Google Organizer features, but—honestly—I have to write it down with a pen to make it work.  There’s something about holding an actual notebook and crossing my To-Do list out with ink.  It feels so rewarding. 

Tomorrow is going to be an early morning!  My preceptor for Food Service wants me in at 7 o’clock.  Setting the alarm for 5:30 sharp!

Question: How do you keep yourself organized?