Currently I’m…

It’s time for a little update on “currently I’m…” Here we go!

Currently I’m…

Enjoying hot water with lemon. I always think of Caroline now when I drink it! :smile: It’s such a comforting way to start the day.

water with lemon

Onto season three of Pretty Little Liars. This show just keeps getting better and better!

pretty-little-liars-8

 

source

Loving these oatmeal raisin cookie bites. Go make these! They taste like oatmeal raisin cookies but they are grain free and freaking amazing! Recipe: “Fauxtmeal” Raisin Cookie Bites.

oatmeal raisin cookie bites

 

Dreaming of eating another one of these egg sandwiches. Gluten-free waffle, pepperjack cheese, mustard and a fried egg. Ummm yea.

 

egg sandwich

 

Reminiscing about my amazing weekend with these ladies.

 

blends do chicago

 

Looking forward to a quiet weekend! It’s time to FINALLY take the Christmas lights down. Yikes!

 

Now it’s your turn. Currently I’m…

Favorite Food in London, Bruges, and Paris

I really want to begin my vacation recap posts, but am still slightly overwhelmed by the thought of it. So, I am going to ease my way into it by covering one of my most favorite topics…food.

Figure-friendly foods were not on my agenda for this trip. I was looking for macaroons, crepes, baguette, cheese, and hot chocolate, and that is exactly what I found.

Below are photos or some of my food highlights from the trip from London to Bruges to Paris.

London

The hot chocolate. It’s soooo much better in Europe (or maybe it’s just better on vacation?).

hot chocolate

Chicken Tikka Masala. OMG. I’ve had Indian food in the past but was never blown away by it, but this totally changed my mind. I couldn’t get enough of it! It was one of my favorite meals of the entire vacation. I can’t wait to find it at home now!

chicken tikka masala indian food tikka masala, naan

Butterbean burger at Happenstance. This picture does not do the burger justice. Have you ever thought of taking butterbeans and making them into a burger? I certainly have not but it is a brilliant idea. I devoured this burger. butterbean burger

Fish and chips. We had to; we were in London after all. Dana and I split a filet and we both really enjoyed our meal!

IMG_0288

Bruges

French Onion Soup (called onion soup in Europe). You all know I adore this stuff. I also had French onion soup on the plane ride out to London as well as two other times on the trip. Four times total. I love my onion soup!

french onion soup

Paris

This meal was actually from a day trip to Fontainebleau. We traveled out to go see a beautiful palace only to find out it was closed for construction when we got there. Not to mention, it was raining and cold. We found a cute little steakhouse and settled in for a burger and onion rings aka the best onion rings I’ve ever had.

IMG_0355 burger

Back to Paris…

Our favorite bread shop was called Coquelicot because look at it….

coquelicot bread paris

It’s perfection. It’s exactly how I would picture a Parisian bread shop. They make their bread and pastries in-house and everything is always so fresh and the place is always packed. Many days, we would buy a loaf of baguette for lunch along with some cheese and apples. I really looked forward to this lunch.

bread and cheese for lunches in paris

Crepes with nutella and banana. Need I say more?

nutella crepe

Crescents. Nearly every day. So buttery and flaky!

crescent rolls

Macaroons. I channeled my inner Blair Waldorf while eating these.

macaroons

This chocolate mousse. It tasted like the filling of a French silk pie. I was in heaven eating this. Ahhhhh so good.

chocolate mousse

More Indian food. We were actually planning on having Chinese food this night but the restaurant we walked to was closed so we had to find something else. I was once again so impressed with my meal. It was a rice and vegetable dish.

indian food vegetable rice

Check out the ambiance…

indian restaurant paris

In Paris, the boys had a couple of crocque monsiers. Ham and cheese sandwiches with an egg on top.

croque monsieurs

Oh yes, more baguette.

french baguette

And more onion soup. Don’t mind if I do!

french onion soup

My favorites: Indian food in London, the onion soup on our last night in Paris, the chocolate mousse, and the nutella crepe.

Needless to say we ate very well on vacation.

If you were in London or France, what food would be on your “must eat” list?

I’m linking up with Katie for Friday Favorites too! Thanks, Katie!

My Valentine’s Day Menu Inspiration

This year, Dana and I have decided to stay in for Valentine’s Day. Come to think of it, that is what we usually do. I prefer to make dinner especially when I know the restaurants will be swamped. I prefer the quiet comfort of home. Don’t get me wrong though because I enjoy going out to eat too!

Check out Valentine’s Day from last year: Valentine’s Day 2013. Last year we had grilled chicken with artichoke salsa and it was TASTY!

I have a tantalizing menu planned for tomorrow evening but I still have some final decisions to make. Maybe you all could help me decide?

Menu Inspiration

I know for sure that I am making some version of a gluten-free baked coconut shrimp. Skinny Taste’s photo is my inspiration! Num!!

coconut shrimp

source

I know for sure I will be making clean and simple steamed artichokes. We bought four at Costco and they look fab! I hope they taste as good as they look.

artichoke

source

I haven’t decided whether or not to make potatoes or cilantro lime brown rice. I realize the rice goes well with the shrimp, but I thought it might be fun to have the whole dinner be finger food friendly in which case I would go with the potatoes.

I could do baked potato wedges…

potato wedges

source

Or these oven-baked parmesan french fries (OMG!)!

potato fries

source

Or cilantro-lime brown rice which is always good.

cilantro lime rice

source

Dessert

Since I decided to steer clear of refined sugars for a little while, I searched for a couple of dessert recipes that would fit my needs.

The first one is a no-bake chocolate banana almond square that is sweetened using dates, bananas and honey.

valentine dessert

source

The second one is a clean eating brownie that is sweetened using maple syrup.

valentine dessert 2

source

I need your votes! 

Potatoes or rice?

Chocolate almond square or brownie?

Or maybe you have an even better recipe I should try? Let me know!

___________________

New Grocery Store Gift Card WINNER!

I only heard from one of my winners (Congrats, Laura!) from the grocery store gift card giveaway but never heard from winner #2, so I am selecting a new winner.

So…..Congrats to Laura and TANYA!! Please send me your addresses and I will get your $20 (originally I said $10 but it’s actually $20—whoop whoop!) in gift cards mailed to you asap!

Thanks!

Weekly Eats: Fruit and Veggie Love

Happy Hump Day!

I’m getting in on the WIAW action today and am linking up with Jenn! As always, I am recapping some of my eats from the whole week and looking back, I packed in lotsa fruits and veggies. Love it!

This colorful salad: mixed dark greens, broccoli, zucchini, pinto beans, shredded cheddar, red bell pepper, sliced almonds, and cottage cheese. SO GOOD! One of the best salads I’ve made in a while.

salad

Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers have been my go-to veggie this week. They are so crunchy and sweet and amazing.

Banana and peanut butter wrap in a brown rice tortilla with a sprinkle of cinnamon and drizzle of honey. Always a winner.

peanut butter banana wrap

Organic cottage cheese with blackberries and sliced almonds.  cottage cheese

Lots of smoothies as always.

smoothies

Gluten-free sweet potato pizza crust!

sweet potato pizza crust

Asian chicken slaw!

asian chicken slaw

My go-to fruit this week: Driscoll’s raspberries.

raspberries

My contribution to a work potluck: turkey bacon wrapped pineapple with a sprinkle of brown sugar on top!

bacon-wrapped pineapple

My potluck plate: roasted red pepper soup, pb and j, tuna noodle salad, red velvet cookie, and strawberries. We had a Valentine’s red and pink themed potluck! So many delicious treats. We don’t mess around with food at our work meetings.

work potluck

The sugar intake has gotten out of hand once again so I am planning to stay clear of refined sugar for two weeks starting now!

Have a happy day!

wiawloveyourveggiesmonthbutton2

Food Network’s Cupcake Wars & Asian Chicken Slaw

It’s time for Treat Yourself Tuesday hosted by the one and only Becky!

1. I’ve had one too many sweet treats this past week, and it all started last Thursday. I mentioned last Friday briefly that I went to a pastry shop called “Cupcake” to celebrate a co-worker’s retirement. The shop splits is split up into two areas: the Cupcake side and the restaurant side which is called “The Mason Jar.”

When we arrived to celebrate, my co-worker (and friend) Mary, had bought a bunch of cupcakes for each table to enjoy.  tyt cupcake

My table had the brilliant idea to split all of them into sevenths so that we could all get a taste of all of them!

tyt cupcake

There was lemon, raspberry, mocha, vanilla, peanut butter, german chocolate, red velvet, and some type of marshmallow one. After we tasted all of these, we actually got to try a few more still! Talk about sugar-load, but seriously how much fun to sit around eating cupcakes with your girlfriends?!

tyt cupcake

As we mowed chatted over our cupcakes, the owner and winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, Kevin VanDeraa came by our table and greeted us! He was incredibly humble and just wanted to see how we were enjoying our time at Cupcake. Very cool!

tyt cupcake Kevin VanDeraa

I didn’t love every single cupcake I tried but I did enjoy a lot of them! I especially liked the lemon-filled one which is definitely not like me. The peanut butter one was pretty awesome too (duh, right?)!

I think that Cupcake would be a perfect place to go for a date or to meet up with friends and I will more than likely be making my way back there at some point. The cupcakes range from about $2.75-$4.25 a piece (don’t quote me on that).

2. I’ve been treating myself to caramel coffee at home as well as lots of veggie and fruit loaded smoothies!

coffee and smoothie

3. On Sunday morning, I treated myself to a relaxing morning: reading the newspaper (and my new favorite section!), looking through weekly ads, watching Olympics and sipping on my café con crema!

newspaper relax

4. On Sunday I made an amazing dish I found on Pinterest for Asian Chicken Slaw. Link: Asian Chicken Slaw. I cut down on the peanut butter, omitted the basil, and only used 3/4 head of cabbage, but other than that I followed the recipe and holy cow…so good! Make this.

asian cabbage slaw asian cabbage slaw

5. The Valentine’s decor is finally up! I totally forgot about it until yesterday when I was organizing some crap gift bags in the basement and stumbled upon them! They make the house look so much more fun and festive! They may have to stay up past Valentine’s Day.
Side note: when you get married you get loads of gift bags. Keep all of them and you will never have to buy a gift bag again! Win!

valentine's day decor

 

I am really starting to feel the lovey in the air. How about you?

Questions of the day:

  • Any good Pinterest recipe finds lately that you’ve tried?
  • If you were to order any flavor of cupcake, what would you choose?

Treat-Yourself-Tuesday-Badge

Friday Favorites: Run, Eat, Live

Happy Friday! Today’s date is kind of neat: 2/7/14 because 2 x 7 = 14. #nerd

I’m linking up with my darling Katie for another episode of Friday Favorites! Heeeeeere we go.

1. Eggs. I go through ups and downs with eggs but always remember the considerable nutritional value of the golden beauts SO, I am bringing them back baby.

eggs

2. Van’s Cinnamon Heaven gluten-free cereal. I was looking for a gluten-free cereal that actually had some fiber, and this is my answer. Five grams of fiber per serving. It’s not an every night snack (the box was nearly $5), but it’s a treat from time to time.

van's cinnamon heaven

3. Moose. Moose earns a spot on Friday favorites because poor dog, he is just cooped up inside so often and he must be going crazy. Sure he drives me loco sometimes when he whines, but I know he’s bored so it’s okay. Dana takes him on some runs during the week but ideally he should be getting out every day of course.

moose

4. I registered for a 7k next month. I haven’t really been running due to some health stuff these past few months, and the last actual race I was a part of was on Thanksgiving, so running and getting back into some shorter races will feel GREAT!

Let’s hope the weather will be like how it was two years ago: in the 60′s! I ran in a tank top!

get lucky 2012

5. Cupcakes at Cupcake in Eagan. We were celebrating a retirement party for a co-worker of mine and she so graciously bought a bunch of the cupcakes for all of us.My table decided to split them all so I got to try a ton of different flavors.

My favorite was no surprise the peanut butter chocolate, but what did surprise me is I truly enjoyed a lemon cupcake. Lemon is not always on my radar and I definitely wouldn’t have gotten it for myself so I’m glad that Mary did, and I had a chance to try it! Some time I may have to go back and get a caramel cupcake. Those sounded really good, too!

cupcakes

6. This quote: “We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way.” -Gloria Gaither

inspirational quote

I actually saw a rainbow yesterday morning on the way to meet a girlfriend for coffee. I do believe in symbolism and so seeing the rainbow was an amazing way to start my day.

Have a great weekend my friends!

Thanks again, Katie for hosting!

Friday Favorites

Peanut Butter Popcorn Snack GIVEAWAY! {giveaway closed}

You all know I have a deep love for peanut butter, right? Peanut butter bananas, peanut butter toast, peanut chicken, peanut butter off a spoon, on a date, the list goes on. I love the stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, the kind folks at Smart Balance asked me if I’d like to sample a new product of theirs; one they were sure I would enjoy. One that involves peanut butter. I was totally game.

The product is: Smart Balance Peanut Butter Popcorn Nuggets

smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets

Popcorn rolled in peanut butter, crunchy peanuts, and oats. For real. The second this beautiful bag arrived at my door I tore into it.

smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets

Ahhhhhhhh….

smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets

My face lit up upon first bite. These little babies are spectacular! They’re crunchy, they’re sweet, and they have the perfect amount of peanut butter hugging each popcorn kernel. Holy cow.

smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets

 

These are dangerously good!

I learned quickly that portion control is a must as I kept going back for more and more nibbles out of the bag. Enter: the ramekin. I began to pour the perfect snacks into a small ramekin to keep my portions within reason. My waist line thanks me.

They are the perfect anytime snack! I have been enjoying them especially as my dessert after dinner.

These nuggets can be found at Costco stores around the U.S. but guess what?! You don’t have to go to Costco if you win a bag from me here! Well, you will probably want to go to Costco anyway and pick these up in the meantime while I select a winner. You won’t regret it.

Store locator: Where you can fin Smart Balance Popcorn Nuggets

But seriously, want to win a bag for yourself?! ENTER HERE!

To enter to win one bag of Smart Balance Peanut Butter Nuggets, simply leave a comment on my blog telling me your favorite snack. Receive an additional entry by tweeting “I entered to win @SmartBalance Peanut Butter Nuggets from @NuttyMelanie http://wp.me/p2J5VV-2BQ.” Just make sure you leave an extra comment telling me you tweeted.

Thanks and good luck! Giveaway ends on Sunday, February 2nd at midnight central time. One winner will be announced Monday, February 3rd!

Mmmmm snack time!

Disclaimer: Smart Balance provided me with one free bag of Smart Balance Peanut Butter Nuggets to sample and review. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions expressed on the product are solely my own.

Thirsty Thursday: Refreshing Mocktails

The first thing I did this morning upon waking was look at my Weather Channel app and guess what it told me? That it is -18°F and it feels like -39°F with the windchill.

Schools are closed but work is still open. The cold weather does make us tougher though I do have to admit. That is me trying to stay positive right there. When the above zero days shine their faces on us, it feels like a heat wave. Bring on the heat wave tomorrow!

Speaking of heat wave, let’s use our imaginations today. Imagine you are on a soft sandy beach in the Caribbean. You have a lounge chair set up on the beach so that the ocean hits at your feet just enough to cool off from the sizzling sun. In your right hand is your favorite book, and in your left hand is a refreshing cocktail or mocktail. :smile:

You lay there all day because you have nothing else to do (don’t forget the sunscreen!), just sipping away at your mojito and gazing out at the blue waters.

Are you there? Let that thought get you through your day. Dream a little dream!

Need some mocktail ideas? I have got you covered. I’m currently not drinking alcohol because it tends to wreak havoc on my digestive system, so I compiled a handful of non-alcoholic beverages that are refreshing and will help you to live in your imaginary moment whenever you want.

Crank up the heat and whip up one of these beverages! It’s what I plan to do this weekend!

Click on the links to view the recipe and source.

1. Strawberry Watermelon Spritzer 

thirsty thursday

2. Mint Limeade

thirsty thursday 2

3. Non-Alcoholic Sangria

thirsty thursday 3

4. Pomegranate Spritzer (Thanks, Sarah!)

thirsty thursday 4

5. Blueberry Spritzer

thirsty thursday 5

6. Blueberry Mojito

thirsty thursday 6

Who says you can’t have a taste of the tropics in your very own home? You can do whatever you want.

I’ll be here today…

mocktail

beach

In my mind.

Happy Thursday!

If you could travel ANYWHERE today, where would you travel?

Any good mocktail recipes?

Treat Yourself Tuesday: Snacks & Girl Time

Today I am linking up with my lovely blend Becky for Treat Yourself Tuesday.

“Do whatever feels best for you. Do something that will make you feel relaxed and loved and happy. Remember this is about treating YOURSELF – not your friends, not your family, not your spouse, not your dog – so make sure you really focus on you. Treat yourself well and treat yourself often so that you will become the best you possible and in turn be your best for others in your life!” source

Little treats, big treats…it doesn’t matter.

Little things like making homemade almond butter on a Sunday afternoon. This was made with raw almonds, unsweetened coconut, and a touch of stevia. It will never compare to my beloved peanut butter but I do enjoy it still.

homemade almond butter

Fruit strips from Target made with fruit juice; 45 calories a piece and 9 grams a sugar. It’s a nice little sweet treat.

fruit strip

A lunch date with my friend Kalley and homemade vegetable soup topped with parmesan cheese!

soup

Air-popped popcorn on #NationalPopcornDay seasoned with olive oil and salt.

popcorn

Girls day with my beautiful mama. Manicure, pedicure, shopping, coffee. Yes, it was glorious!

nails

Treat-Yourself-Tuesday-Badge

How did you treat yourself this week?!

The Christmas Recap

Did everyone survive Christmas? Is anyone else feeling the post-Christmas blues at all? I am a little bit. I am definitely going to keep the Christmas decorations up for a little while to help myself wean off of the holiday high.

Christmas was a blast. The majority of the celebrating started on Christmas eve morning.

Dana and I volunteer every year at the Children’s Hospital where we help wrap presents that have been donated to the children who have to be in the hospital at Christmastime.

Children's christmas eve gift wrapping dana and melanie

Children's christmas eve gift wrapping

I am always amazed at the amount of gifts that are donated. Each child gets 5-8 gifts and the bags with their gifts are all labeled so that we know the first name of the child and the age. It breaks my heart to think of anyone having to spend Christmas in the hospital, and I hope receiving some holiday cheer helps to lift their spirits.

This is about one-quarter of the amount of gifts that were wrapped.

Children's christmas eve gift wrapping

Once we were done being elves, we dashed home to get ready for Christmas Eve with Dana’s family. I threw together a fruit salad (recipe from Katie!), made myself some lunch, changed into my Christmas outfit, and headed out the door.

dana moose melanie christmas eve

We spent the afternoon and evening munching on delicious appetizers, sipping wine, opening gifts, and eating a nice Christmas eve dinner.

appetizers christmas eve

Beef tenderloin, asparagus, horseradish mashed potatoes, and my fruit salad…

christmas eve dinner

Later in the evening Dana and I met my family at church for 10:00 pm mass. They played my favorite song and mass was beautiful.

Christmas Day

On Christmas morning, we made our way to my mom and dad’s. Awaiting our arrival was this glorious loaf of monkey bread. I was amazed to learn that not everyone knows what monkey bread is. You have to try this stuff! It is caramelly and cinnamony and so darn good!

Monkey Bread

We all hung out, watched A Christmas Story, and waited for everyone else to arrive.

mom and melanie

Once the crew was there, we sat down to dinner.

christmas table mom and dads 2013

Ham, cheesy potatoes (!!!), asparagus, and strawberry spinach salad…So good!

christmas 2013

I filled my tummy to the perfect amount of satisfied, and then we all dove into the Christmas gifts. That was quite the lengthy ordeal! We must have been very good this year because there were LOTS of presents!

christmas 2013 mom and dads

After gifts we opened up our stockings and then reeeelaaxxeed. A major theme of these two days.

stocking

Eventually, it was time for dessert: Christmas cookies and ice cream, but not just any ice cream, Edy’s slow churned caramel delight ice cream. Oh my goodness, so good  ice cream dessert

We finished watching A Christmas Story, watched a home video, and then headed for home. It was such an incredible Christmas as always—we really missed Jeff and Ana though. Muchos xoxo’s to you!

I am so lucky to have such amazing families! I love you all.

So tell me about YOUR Christmas! What was your favorite treat? Your favorite gift? Most memorable moment?