Monday, April 30, 2012

New Recipes 24 and 25 - Spinach Pie and Dirty Brown Rice with Shrimp

Wow.  Somehow last week got away from me!  Not sure how that happened, but oh well...

On Monday evening, we continued with the Meatless Monday "tradition".  I found a recipe for Spinach Pie on the Trader Joe's website and decided to give it a whirl.  It looked pretty yummy on their website, but I have to say that I wasn't terribly impressed...  Others would probably disagree, but there was just something about the texture that didn't work for me.  

We made a few slight modifications to the recipe, including:  added carrots and mushrooms, reduced the amount of cottage cheese slightly, and used a top pie crust.  I hadn't planned to use a top pie crust, but there was entirely too much filling and that was the only way I could think to hold it all in!  I am not sure why we didn't love it, but we just didn't.  We'll definitely be looking for something similar to have in the future, but I think this just had too much of a "mush" taste/feeling.  (Don't let this keep you from trying the recipe though!  It just wasn't our "style".)

On Thursday evening, we had a healthier version of one of my favorites!  I love dirty rice, red beans and rice, and jambalaya.  I am not sure if it is the "one pot" aspect or the Cajun-flavors.  I found a recipe for Dirty Brown Rice with Shrimp on Skinny Taste.  I was excited to try it as soon as I saw it!

We made a few slight modifications, including:  used more onion and bell pepper than the recipe called for, 1 pound of ground beef (Trader Joe's 96/4; too lazy to split it up and freeze extra), omitted the scallions (Ooops!  This wasn't on purpose).  To make things a little easier, I cooked the brown rice on Thursday morning before work.  I put it in the fridge and reheated it in the microwave with a little water when I was ready to use it.    I always try to do as much prep ahead of time as possible, and this definitely made things easier.  This was so delicious!  We had a lot leftover and I am looking forward to having it again soon!  Try it!

Friend Makin' Monday - Cooking Habits

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Feel free to add your links there too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Cooking Habits

1. What is your favorite meal to prepare at home?  That's a hard one... Breakfast - scrambled eggs, griddle toast, and hash browns.  Dinner - probably a toss up between sauteed shrimp and grilled chicken.
2. Do you like to experiment in the kitchen, or do you prefer to stick to the basics?  I kinda like to experiment.  I am not one to go hog-wild and not use a recipe as a base, but I will "doctor" recipes.
3. What is your favorite cookbook?  I used to have a ton of cookbooks and I never used them.  I get most of my recipes off blogs and websites.  Some of my favorites are:  Skinny Taste, Eating Well, Elly Says Opa, Healthy Slice of Life, and way too many more to name!
4. Do you have any tricks to share that help you reach your fruits and veggies goal for the day?  I have found that having things cut up and/or portioned before the work week helps a ton.  On Sunday afternoon, I cut up bell peppers, cucumber, etc. and put them in plastic containers in the fridge. I also go ahead and measure my hummus or dip.  A little "trick" for fruit is to make "fruit salad" - strawberries, blueberries, clementines, etc.  This helps the hubs and me from getting bored with choices!
5. What’s the most interesting thing you made last week?  Unfortunately, last week wasn't terribly interesting.  I guess our recipes aren't ever really that interesting.  We did fix a new recipe called Spicy Chicken Rigatoni that was supposed to be a Buca di Beppo knockoff.  It was delish!
6.  How often do you watch cooking shows on TV?  Occasionally...I am not one to sit and actually watch a show, so it is more on for the noise.
7. When you’re hungry, where are you most likely to look first? The refrigerator, or the pantry?   Fridge (or fruit bowl)
8. List a few healthy staples that can always be found in your kitchen.  We always have:  chicken breast, a few bags of frozen shrimp, apples, baby carrots, hummus, "natural" applesauce, Greek yogurt, almonds, and reduced fat cheese sticks.
9. Are you motivated to cook at home even when you’re eating alone?  Sometimes... If I am eating alone, I tend to just end up fixing a salad though.  It just isn't as fun to cook for one!
10.  How often do you try new recipes? I set a goal to try at least one new recipe per week this year (52 new recipes).  So far, we have had at least 1-2 new recipes per week.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Friend Makin' Monday - Q & A

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: so everyone see your FMM questions and answers. Feel free to add your links  too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Q & A

1. Share one thing that has changed about you since you began blogging.  I love that I have learned so much from "random" people I don't know.  I feel like their insight and advice has helped me transform even more.
2. If you were forced to give up chocolate or potato chips for an entire year which one would you choose to live without?  Potato chips
3. What’s more attractive?  A man in a suit, or a man in uniform?  I used to prefer a man in uniform, now my tastes lean toward a man in a suit.
4. If you could be a guest star on a reality show which one would it be? What Not to Wear or another one of those types of shows, but not in the totally embarrassing way - just to get the $5000 wardrobe!
5. What is the last meal that you prepared for yourself?  Last night's dinner - Spicy Chicken Penne
6. Is your hair colored, or is it natural?  Natural light brown/dirty blonde with some streaks of extra blonde color for texture
7. If you could leave town today and go anywhere, where would you go?  The beach - lounge chair, book, and a beer!
8. Do you prefer to exercise at the gym, at home or outside?  I prefer to be outside.  I do go to the gym several times a week out of sheer necessity.
9. Have you ever asked someone out on a date?  Ummm, no.  Totally not my style.
10. How many cups of coffee do you drink on an average day? Oh my - 4 or 5 cups?  I am always cold and that's my method to get warm at work.
11. Do you pack lightly, or do you over pack?  I am probably a "just right" packer.  I am very methodical (surprise, surprise) when I pack.  I tend to bring 1 extra set of clothing and that's it.
12. What color are your nails now?  Pink Flamenco (OPI)
13. If you could have lunch with one notable (living) person who inspires you who would it be?  Wow... I don't have a clue.  I would be interested in having a good discussion with Rachel Maddow.  
14. Who is your favorite professional athlete? I don't follow pro sports very well, but I would love to talk to Josh Hamilton about his journey to where he is now.
15. Gum or mints?  Mints
16. Have you ever eaten crawfish? Ewww...Heck no!
17. List one or more human characteristics that are a complete turn-off.  I cannot stand people that are arrogant!
18.  What is your favorite season?  Summer!!
19. Do you prefer to shake hands or hug?  Southern girls love hugs!
20. Can you quote lines from Saved by the Bell from memory?  If so, what’s your favorite?  Nope.  
Now it’s your turn!  Take a few moments to post your answers, then  link up in the comments at All The Weigh!
Happy Monday Friends!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Recipe 23 - Spicy Chicken Penne

A couple weeks ago, I came across Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour.  The first thing that drew me in was the ridiculous title of the blog.  I skimmed through her recipes and found several that I knew I had to try.  

This blogger shares a love of pasta with the hubs.  If it is pasta-related, he will surely love it!  Tonight, we tried the Spicy Chicken Rigatoni.  She labels it a Buca knockoff.  I have never been to Buca di Beppo (the closest one to us is near Charlotte), but I have heard my best friend mention going several times in Florida.

So, how'd it turn out?  Awesome!

We did make a few changes:

  • We used whole wheat penne, instead of rigatoni.  I didn't find whole wheat rigatoni at Trader Joe's or Harris Teeter this morning.
  • The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of green peas.  The blogger recommends using more if you like peas, so we used about 1 cup.  I would have been happy to have even more peas in it!
  • I left out the butter.  I didn't realize that I even left it out until I re-read the recipe a few minutes ago.
  • We reduced the amount of crushed red pepper flakes.  We used ~3/4 teaspoon, instead of 1/2 tablespoon (~1 1/2 teaspoons).  I think that the next time we make this, we'll have to up the crushed red pepper just a little.  It didn't have quite the "punch" I was looking for.
Anyway, the hubs said this dish needs to stay in our dinner rotation and I agree.  Hope you like it as much as we did!

Menu Planning for Two

Menu planning is a big thing for the hubs and me.  It saves time, money, energy, and keeps me from getting frustrated after a long day.  While the hubs and I don't have kids, we do have fairly crazy daily lives.  Early on in our marriage, I realized that no matter how crazy life got, I could maintain some amount of control through planning and cooking yummy meals.  

The hubs and I plan our menu from Friday through Thursday.  Why?  Well, it just happened that way and we have stuck with it for several years.  We do tend to eat out a lot of the time on the weekend, but planning from Friday to Thursday allows us some flexibility on when we actually go to the grocery store.

Keys to menu planning for us:

  • Take 15-20 minutes to plan it out and write it down.  Those few minutes and that piece of paper will save you a lot of annoyance later.  I usually do this during my lunch early in the week.
  • Make extra.  Since there are two of us, we have leftovers 80% of the time.  It works well for us.  If we don't plan to eat the leftover food in the same week, I freeze it for later.  We use the freezer meals for weeks when we are busy or nights when I am not "feeling" cooking.
  • Look for recipes in many places.  I find recipes everywhere.  I use cookbooks, websites, blogs, word of mouth, etc.  I love seeing recipe reviews on blogs because it helps me to see someone else's perspective - different ingredients, smaller amounts of spices, etc.
  • Keep it simple.  We only plan dinner most weeks.  We keep certain items on hand for breakfast (Trader Joe's bars, yogurt, oatmeal, smoothie ingredients, etc.), lunch (sandwiches, leftovers, salad fixins; etc.), and snacks (nuts, popcorn, fruit, cut veggies with hummus, etc.)
  • Stick to the list and the plan.  As much as possible, we stick with the grocery list and stay on the plan.  Yes, we do buy "pantry staples" but most items we buy are purchased for a specific recipe that week.  We rarely go off the menu plan.  
Some of our recent weekly menus:

March 2 to 8:
  • Friday:  World of Beer (aka, WOB); take-out at the bar or sandwiches when we get home
  • Saturday:  Dinner at Natalie and Chris' new apartment (order pizza)
  • Sunday:  Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms; Roasted Baby Red Potatoes; Steamed Broccoli
  • Monday:  Brunswick Stew
  • Tuesday:  Creamy Garlic Pasta with Shrimp and Vegetables
  • Wednesday:  Leftover Brunswick Stew
  • Thursday:  Grilled Pork; Roasted Red and Sweet Potatoes; Steamed Veggie
March 9 to 15:
March 30 to April 5: (Note:  Parents visiting for the weekend)
April 13 to 19:
  • Friday:  WOB (see above)
  • Saturday:  Grilled Chicken; Baked Potatoes; Steamed Veggie
  • Sunday:  ???
  • Monday:  Southwestern Sweet Potato Hash
  • Tuesday:  Lemon Pepper Linguine with Chicken (recipe from my mother-in-law); Steamed Veggies
  • Wednesday:  Honey Pork Fillets; Roasted Broccoli; Parmesan Orzo
  • Thursday:  Leftover Lemon Pepper Linguine with Chicken
April 20 to 26:
I hope this is helpful to others that are trying to figure out planning menus for your family.  I'd love to hear any suggestions you may have too!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Girls on the Run is a gift!

In late January, a friend posted on her Facebook that her Girls on the Run site was in need of at least one additional coach.  There was only one coach (her) and each site ideally has three.  I had been hemming and hawing about coaching Girls on the Run and after telling my friend, she encouraged me to sign up to coach.  She said that I would be a strong role model for the girls because the focus is being a strong woman with a healthy mind and body.  So, after thinking it over for a bit I said, “Why not!"  I immediately filled out the volunteer application and was on my way to volunteering!

Girls on theRun is a 12-week program for 8 to 12-year old girls (mostly 3rd to 6th graders).  During the program, the girls learn important life lessons and skills.  They learn about choosing healthy foods, how to stand up to bullies, how to express emotions, and much more – all while they train to run a 5K.  Each lesson helps the girls learn more about themselves, their potential, and the idea of “being me”.  At the end of the season the girls participate in a community race with all the other Girls on the Run teams in the area, friends, family, volunteers, etc. 

When Jenelle mentioned the need for a coach, I thought the program sounded fun.  At the same time, I had absolutely no clue what I was getting into.  I mean, I have baby-sat, been a Y counselor, etc.  Unfortunately, this didn’t really prepare me as well as I had hoped for staring into the eyes of 15 young girls that were expecting me to lead them through a lesson and workout.   Oh my…I was so nervous those first couple weeks!! 

As freaked out as I was, there was no need!  It went great!  GOTR quickly became my favorite part of the week.  Most weeks, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons could not get here fast enough.  I enjoyed coaching so much, even with a few bumps in the road, that I am coaching again in the fall!   

I learned that each girl hears things different.  I learned that each girl is motivated differently.  I learned that strips of paper to count laps can make an awesome paper chain that the girls want to see finished!  I learned all kinds of awesome lessons from these girls.  I also learned that if you enjoy something and are passionate about it, it isn’t work.  This experience transformed my view of myself, helped me understand communication with others, and so many more things.    

I am not gonna sugar-coat it…  Sometimes, I dreaded going to GOTR.  Sometimes I wasn’t in the mood to do a particular lesson.  Sometimes I was tired and just wanted to go home.  But, once I got there – it was great!  I always left with a smile on my face and a desire to tell more people about my experiences.

While I will miss our girls, I am looking forward to meeting another 15 spunky little girls in September! 

Want to get involved?  You don’t have to coach!  There are other ways to help!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Recipe 22 - Southwestern Sweet Potato and Black Bean Hash

The "Meatless Monday" selections continue to be awesome!  

I love that there are so many bloggers that follow the "Meatless Monday" mantra and/or are vegetarian.  It makes finding delicious and interesting recipes a lot easier.  

Last week, I looked through some of my menu/grocery list files from 2009 and 2010.  I saw a couple weeks where I prepared recipes that I found on EllySaysOpa.  I remembered enjoying many of the recipes, so I was on the hunt.

I came across her recipe for Southwestern Sweet Potato and Black Bean Hash.  It looked absolutely yummy!  

Elly's recipe was the ticket!  I realize now that I am looking at her picture compared to mine that mine was a little "juicier" than hers.  So, next time, the only change I think I will make will be less water.

Looking for a yummy Meatless Monday meal - try this!      

Monday, April 16, 2012

Race recap - RunRaleigh Half Marathon

Today was the inaugural RunRaleigh Half Marathon.  Simple as this...This race was amazingly different than the Raleigh Rocks Half.  The only "complaints" I have are:

  • More porta-potties...  I detest using a porta-potty, but sometimes you need to go "just once more" before the start of a race.
  • I wish there had been mile markers.  I wasn't expecting them for an inaugural race, but they would have been nice.
  • I wish there weren't hills.  Yes, I am being a diva.  I hate hills.  I know they are good for you, yada, yada, yada - doesn't mean I can't hate them.
  • The last part of the course is a relatively steep hill by Pullen Park.  That's so awful at the end.  I ended up just walking up the hill.   
From left:  Mary, Pam, Lisa, Debbie, and me
I set my clock for 4:45 a.m. and got up after hitting the snooze once.  I was so worried that I was gonna wake up Jason - he didn't come to bed until after 2 a.m.  I wasn't terribly hungry, but I knew I needed to eat.  I forced myself to eat half of an english muffin with peanut butter.  While I normally do well with this for a pre-race meal, I don't think it was enough food :-(

Debbie, Mary, Lisa, Pam, and I met in Cameron Village for the 7 a.m. start.  Debbie, Mary, Pam and I were all on the same page - run, have fun, but still try to keep a good pace.  Around the time we got to Pullen Park (mile 4?), Debbie and I started getting ahead of Mary and Pam.  Mary had already run 7 miles on the treadmill and was using the race as a training run - not nearly as concerned with her time, etc.

We kept trudging on and ended up on Western Boulevard/Martin Luther King Parkway.  We eventually got on the Walnut Creek greenway trail - what a relief!  I was so grateful for the bit of shade on the greenway, just wish it could have lasted longer.

We eventually ended back up at Pullen Park.  We had to go back up that awful hill at Ashe Avenue.  I know that I should have been prepared because we went down the hill on the way out.  Unfortunately, it was at this time that I became quite a whiny little turd.  I think I complained with every step - poor Debbie had to deal with that!

When Debbie and I reached Hillsborough Street, I told her to go ahead...I felt the entire run that I was kinda holding her back, even though she said I wasn't.  I also was just plain exhausted by that point - my thighs were killing me and my tummy was "off".  I was able to keep Debbie in my sight, but she finished about a minute before me.  Thank goodness she waited for me at the finish line! 

After we finished, I posted on Facebook that I was officially done with half marathons in Raleigh.  Of course, now that I am 1/2 a day past the race, I am reconsidering.  Like I told a friend that posted on my Facebook, I was just being a whiny diva!  However, I do agree somewhat with Sarah's sentiment of only doing races on the coast - it is so pretty at the beach and it is nice to not have the damn hills!  

After watching Mary and Pam cross the finish line, we took several pictures, and just spent some time talking, etc.  On the way home from the race, I was starving.  I guess I should have grabbed some post-race snacks, but I just didn't feel like walking over to the table - lazy, I know!  I got in my car and headed to the closest fast food restaurant.  I was hoping that McDonald's would be serving lunch items by this point and I could get a grilled chicken sandwich, but they don't serve lunch until 11 a.m. on weekends (I had no clue!).  I enjoyed an Egg McMuffin sandwich, a hashbrown, and a fountain coke (one of my favorite post long run treats!).  I can't tell you the last time I had any food from McDonald's, but the Egg McMuffin definitely hit the spot!    

The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying a nice, long lunch at Lynnwood Grill with Mary and Brian.  After lunch, Jason and I decided to go hang out at World of Beer since it was such a nice afternoon.  I think we ended up staying there almost 3 hours.  The weather was absolutely perfect for sitting outside and enjoying a nice cold beer!  When we finally got home, we were both pleased with our wonderful day.  

The rest of the evening was spent piddling around the house, laundry, packing lunches, etc.  I was so tired by 8 p.m., but forced myself to stay up until about 9:30 p.m.  I knew if I went to bed that early, I would be up at 3 a.m.

Love a good race and a great day to follow!

Love running with these ladies!
From left:  Mary, Pam, Lisa, Debbie and me

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Can't a girl get a break?

Well, after yesterday's falling incident, I figured I was done for a while...Not so...

See the sharp corner of the bookcase?
Yeah, that's where I hit my dang head.
I got to work a few minutes before 8 this morning.  Every single morning, I follow the same little routine. 

  • Put my things down on my desk or on the floor beside my desk.
  • Turn my computer on.
  • Go fill up my water bottle and get a piping hot cup of coffee.
  • Get back to office and put gym bag on floor between lateral file and small table (see it in the middle right of the picture, beside the door?)
Well, all was well until I went to put my gym bag on the floor...  I was standing up from being partially bent over.  I must have come up really hard or at a different angle than normal, because I smacked the hell out of my left temple on the corner of the shelving unit.  

I immediately sat down in my chair because I thought for certain that I was going to be sick and I was seeing serious stars.  I sat there a few minutes, just trying to get my bearings and figure out how big of a lump I was gonna have on my head.  I put my palm over the lump on my temple and when I removed my hand, it was covered in blood.  Lovely.  

As nonchalantly as possible, I went to the bathroom and got some damp paper towels.  I applied pressure for 10 minutes - it didn't stop bleeding.  I applied more pressure for a while longer and it slowed.  The HR Manager for my organization came by while I was holding the cloth to my head and was curious as to what was going on.  He insisted that I fill out an incident form, etc.  I kept telling him that I was fine and that I simply got my "bell rung".  He left a few minutes later and the bleeding finally stopped after about 25 minutes.  

Not long thereafter, our HR Generalist came by my office.  She sat down and said "...You have to go get checked out...  Please do not argue with me...  Don't make me toss you in my car and drive you there myself..."  Of course, anyone that works in a relatively large organization knows what that means...  I had to go to urgent care.  Good Lord, I love our HR staff, but she knew I didn't want to go to urgent care.  I was embarrassed that I had hit my head and the last thing I wanted to do was document my being an idiot.   Luckily, I was able to convince her that I could drive myself to urgent care.  I knew for certain that if I was gonna have to deal with urgent care, I was gonna drive myself.  I left the office a few minutes later.  

Going to urgent care normally means sitting in a waiting room for a long time and getting no resolution.  Not so today...  When I got to the urgent care, there was only one care in the lot (thank God!).  I quickly completed the required paperwork and was called into the back.  The PA didn't keep me waiting long.  We talked about what happened, my headache, and he did some "tests" to make sure that I didn't have indications of a concussion.  I passed the "tests" with flying colors!  He told me that my head bled a long time because heads, fingers, and toes bleed the most with any trauma - interesting...  The PA said that I would likely have a headache for several days and a good size lump.  He told me that I only needed to follow-up with a physician if I started getting sick on my stomach or acting different than normal.  I was in-and-out in 25 minutes.  

So, back to work I went...  I didn't do a ton today because my head just ached.  After work, I tried to go to Arrichion Hot Yoga.  I was in the room for the entire session, but it wasn't the most effective practice of hot yoga.  After dinner tonight, I am planning to stretch out in bed with an icepack on my poor little head.  

Let's hope I am over my being injury prone...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just call me "grace"

I am truly a klutz....

Many runners will tell you that one of the biggest fears associated with running is tripping or falling in the middle of their run.  I am no different...  We all picture ourselves falling, spraining an ankle (or worse) and being sidelined from the fitness activity we love.  

Yesterday, I was on my little mid-day run near my office and almost "ate it".  The most annoying part of me was that there was absolutely nothing on the sidewalk to hinder me.  Of course, I could blame the near-miss on the grumpy, old man in the white Ford Ranger that honked the horn and yelled at me.  After that little incident, my run was just "off".  It wasn't long thereafter that I almost fell.  All afternoon, I worried about the "what ifs" of the situation... Pointless I know, but I kept thinking that if I had fallen, I wouldn't be able to run my half this weekend.  No bueno.

Today, Audrey and I set out on our mid-day run.  When we got to the spot I almost fell yesterday, I told her about what happened with the man yelling out the window, almost falling, etc.  Audrey reminded me of a spill she took several weeks before and showed me the remaining bumps and scrapes.  We both went on-and-on about near misses and the stress it causes, etc.  It was glad to commiserate with someone else that has the same silly, slightly irrational fears!

Well, fast forward about 10 minutes... A coworker let me into our offices because I didn't have my badge.  I started walking down the hall and totally face planted.  I am not talking a slight trip and catching myself before I fell...  I fell all the way down, a la baseball player sliding into home plate with the game-winning run.  Except, there was no game to be won here...  It felt like the entire world was watching me, when in all actuality not one single person saw me (thank God!).  I got my fat ass butt up as quickly as I could and rushed around the corner to hide in my office.   

Right now my head hurts a little and I have pretty dang bad rug burn.  I don't want to get up from my desk because I am scared I will fall again, but I am hungry and my lunch is calling my name from the refrigerator in the back of the office.

If I had to fall, I am glad it happened inside.  However, I can't wait for my little hands to stop burning and my heart to stop racing!  

So, just call me "grace".
My poor little red palm (30 minutes after the fall!)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Friend Makin' Monday - Trigger Foods

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Add your links there too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Trigger Foods

  1. Are there foods in your life that always seem to trigger overeating?  Yep!  I don't know that I have ever met someone without trigger foods!
  2. If so, what are they?  Oreos, E.L. Fudge Cookies, York Peppermint Patties
  3. When are you most likely to give into strong cravings? Probably when I am in the car driving long-ish distances
  4. Are you more likely to be triggered by salty foods or sugary foods?  No doubt - sugar!
  5. How do you get back on track after overeating?  I just track it, make a plan and move on.  Most of the time, the plan involves eating as many whole foods as I can for as many days in a row as possible.  
  6. Are there any foods that you allow yourself to eat without limits?  Nope.  I have to measure everything or I will definitely go off the deep end.
  7. Do you notice a change in your emotions while eating trigger foods? I haven't ever really thought about it... I guess I would say that I am happy while I am eating it.  However, as soon as the last piece of cookie, etc. is gone I am terribly sad, upset, disappointed.
  8. Do you have a strategy to keep yourself from overeating trigger foods?  I do my best to avoid my trigger foods in general.  If I am in a situation where I feel like indulging, I purchase an individual pack of the item at a convenience store so that I have a set amount... No purchasing big packs of cookies or bags of Peppermint Patties!
Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions!  Don’t forget to link up in the comments at AllTheWeigh!  Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bedroom Makeover

For Christmas, we received an awesome gift from my mother-in-law...  A bedroom makeover...  Our bedroom was pretty "bachelor" and hadn't really changed much since Jason moved into the condo in July 2004.  I moved in just before we got married and the bedroom was never really a top priority.  We tend to spend most of our time in our "great room" and that's where we have made changes in the past few years.  

So...on Christmas morning, we got a neat little gift.  Emily, my mother-in-law, gave us a shoebox with little dollhouse furniture in it.  She explained that she wanted to help us purchase some new things for our bedroom, including a new headboard and dresser or chest of drawers. I was shocked, but very excited to "soften" our room a little bit.  

In January, I put our bookcase headboard and chest on CraigsList.  It was immediately snatched up by a mom purchasing furniture for her daughter's first apartment.  Several weeks later, we found a perfect headboard at Wayside Furniture.  We quickly got it installed and set out to find a dresser or chest of drawers.  We finally found a chest that we loved at Green Front Interiors.  The 6-drawer chest is from Artistica's Cape Collection.  We got the chest last weekend and I immediately filled it up!  (I had been living out of duffel bags since January!)

Without further ado...Here's some pics of our "old" and "new bedroom...

From little "hall" looking into bedroom
From door
Another from the little "hall"
Another view from the door

In progress...No headboard...  See that little box on the right side of
the bed?  Yeah, that's where some of my clothes were.
From little "hall"

From door, looking into room

Another from the door 
I love how everything has turned out so far!  Our room feels huge now!  The former bookcase headboard was about a foot deep - when we removed it, we gained a lot of space.

We will likely change the bedding at some point in the future, but I am not really sure what we'll do...  We have the gold-y upholstered headboard, with the sisal rug trimmed in black.  I love the black and gold, but feel like the duvet cover needs to change.  Any ideas?

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Recipe 21 - Buffalo Chicken Quinoa "Mac 'n Cheese"

Last week, while planning our weekly menu, I stumbled up IowaGirlEats.  During my quick scan of her blog, I was hooked!  She has so many different recipes - and they are healthy too!  

A few suggestions/changes from our experience:

  • Cook the quinoa the night before.  When you are read to use it, just warm it for about 2-3 minutes in the microwave
  • We used whole wheat flour, instead of all-purpose flour (that's all we had)
  • We used fat free milk - it was all we had and it cuts down on calories (I wonder if the cheese sauce mixture would have been richer with 2% milk?)
  • We didn't use green onions in it or goat cheese on top (I forgot to buy them at the store!)
  • Serve with some easy, peasy steam in the bag veggies like Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers or Birds Eye Steamfresh (We had the Birds Eye Baby Broccoli Blend.  It isn't the hubs favorite, but he eats it because I love it!)
So, here's the recipe for Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac 'N Cheese for those that don't want to go to IowaGirlEats:  (You should though!  She has great pictures!!)

  • 1-1/4 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 chicken breast
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% milk, divided
  • 2 green onions, sliced 
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chevre (goat cheese), crumbled

  1. Preheat broiler. Cook quinoa according to package directions and set aside. Season chicken breast on both sides with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and cook in a non-stick sprayed skillet over medium heat until cooked all the way through. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour and 1/2 cup milk in a separate saucepan over medium heat. Pour in remaining milk, and green onions. Switch to a spatula and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then cook for one minute while boiling.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat then add in buffalo sauce and cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is completely melted then add in cooked quinoa and chicken, and stir to combine.
  4. Pour into a non-stick sprayed casserole dish and top with chevre. Broil for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and sauce is bubbly.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Life is short

Today, I am attending a memorial service for one of nicest gentleman I believe that I have ever met.  As I mentioned before, I work for a membership organization that supports elected and appointed municipal officials.  In my work, I have the honor and privilege to work with many awesome municipal officials.  These officials pour their hearts out to serve the citizens of their communities.  

Last Wednesday, the life of those municipal officials dramatically changed....

The Immediate Past President of my organization and I spoke during the early afternoon on Wednesday.  We exchanged pleasantries, and then discussed a recent discussion with their family doctor regarding considering moving into a one-story home.  I was able to tell him about some of the house plans that my parents had been looking at, etc.  We talked for about 20 minutes - not terribly unusual for our frequent conversations. 

That evening, this gentleman was taking 2 bags of garbage from the main floor of his home down to the basement.  He missed one step and fell.  He sustained a significant head injury during the fall.  When he arrived at the hospital, he was immediately taken into surgery in an effort to stave off additional swelling of his brain.  He  survived surgery, but the fall was too much and the brain damage was just too great.  He passed away early Monday morning - entirely too early for a man with such a great heart and love for others.

I will never forget this uncanny sense of humor - it was sometimes quite wicked.  One of my favorite things to hear my boss say about Chris involved a "confrontation" at our General Assembly.  After being addressed rather unkindly and unnecessarily, Chris turned to my boss and said “I have the highest amount of low regard for that guy.” He was proud of his service to the Village of Clemmons, and often said when he was introducing himself to elected officials from other cities and states that he was “from D.C.—downtown Clemmons.”

I know that things will be fine, but this loss makes you think...  My parents live in a 2-story home and are not that much younger.  The bedrooms in their home are upstairs so they go up and down the stairs multiple times a day.  This could have easily been one of my parents.  I cannot imagine.      

While I will miss Chris at future Board of Directors meetings, annual conference, Town Hall Day and other events, he will be there in spirit.  I will always remember his kind, congenial nature and sense of humor.  I will do my best to embody his demeanor daily.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Recipe 20: Baked Penne With Roasted Vegetables

Last night, the hubs and I had another new recipe.  We fixed Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables, a la Giada/Food Network.  When I found the recipe online, I was somehow enough dumb enough to actually watch the video about the dish.  I have no clue what caused me to do this... Something about Giada drives me nuts, while I love her recipes!  

The hubs and I agreed that this recipe was a hit.  How can you go wrong with pasta, veggies, and cheese??!!

Changes from the Reynolds family:
  • Whole wheat penne (speaking of penne... I am the only one that goes crazy when she say "pin-ne"?)
  • Full 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms
  • "Fontiago" cheese instead of fontina
  • "Regular" 2% milk mozzarella instead of smoked mozzarella (I obviously didn't read the recipe close enough)
  • More pepper and less salt
  • Less olive oil
  • No Parmesan cheese (whoops!)
  • No butter (didn't need it)  
Here's how ours turned out.... (Giada's may have looked prettier, but she has food stylists and I don't!)