Cowboy Caviar Mini Bell Peppers

What a great weekend that went by all too fast as always. How about catching you up a bit from the last time we touched base which would be Saturday around lunch time.

In my belly…a harvest pear salad with romaine lettuce, pears, walnuts, feta cheese, and poppy-seed dressing. Complete with fall leaves in the background of the photo.

After lunch I got to work preparing an appetizer for a Halloween party we were going to that evening.

Cowboy Caviar Mini Bell Peppers

I combined tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper to make a cowboy caviar. I then halved orange and yellow mini bell peppers, took out the seeds and the stem, and filled each boat with cowboy caviar. Delicious, healthy and beautiful to boot!

To the Halloween part-ay we went. We were greeted by this beautiful witch brewing up a secret potion and making snarky remarks at us.

Before I reveal what Dana and I dressed up as, let’s have a little fun and let me give you some hints and see if you can guess.

  1. I am holding our newest child Penelope.
  2. Our son Mason is at auntie Kimmy’s for the night.

Any Kardashian fans out there? I was Kourtney Kardashian and Dana was her boyfriend Scott Disick. That’s alright if you didn’t get it, most of our friends didn’t know either.

Our lovely hosts for the evening were Freddie Mercury (Adam) and Katniss (Stacy). It made me feel better that I didn’t know who either of them were dressed up as either. It was a general theme for the night—no one knew who anyone was supposed to be.

Except for the egg. I knew that Amanda was an egg. 😉

We had a great time as always being with our friends, munching on some great chow, and  laughing at everyone’s ridiculous costumes. We were home and into bed by midnight and I was wide awake at 8:00 am Sunday morning.

Sunday

I made myself a chopped banana with Parkers Farm peanut butter and cinnamon.

I also drank a cup of coffee while we flipped through the Sunday paper. Next, we hit the road for our grocery shopping extravaganza. We will be leaving for our vacation to Colombia in just a few days, but we needed to stock up the fridge for a very special guest who will be staying at our house with the pup.

We got a late start on running our errands so by the time we got home it was 1:00 pm and we were both very hungry. I notice that’s a common theme around our house. I was excited that I had leftover cowboy caviar from the appetizer on Saturday, so we cooked up a few over easy eggs, topped them on top the leftover cowboy caviar with some cheese, and had a protein packed and super tasty meal within minutes.

In the afternoon I made myself change into workout clothes and took the dog out for 2.6 mile run around the neighborhood. I could tell I was tired and dehydrated because it was a pretty difficult run for me.

A very good friend of mine was in town for the weekend so I got to see him and his beautiful girlfriend for a little while, then mom and dad stopped over too! After that we did a little packing and got ourselves ready for the week ahead.

Oh and we ate dinner too…a turkey burger served on top of a salad with onion, tomato, cheese, and green olives.

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Yoga Challenge

Since it’s Monday that means it’s time to check in on the last October Yoga Challenge for the month! I can’t believe the month is over in a couple of days. I kind of feel like October didn’t happen it flew by so fast, but IT DID. Don’t let me fool you.

This past week I got in not one, but two yoga sessions. The first one was a full body session and the second was a session geared towards athletes. I completed the whole month’s challenge using OnDemand yoga sessions. Once again, I loved every second of this challenge.

Yoga is about connecting the body and the mind, and it is good for all of us to take the time to practice that. Whether or not you are lying on a yoga mat, or sitting in your office, take 30 seconds periodically to become aware of your mind and body. Focus on your breathing if you are feeling overwhelmed. Remind yourself to live in the moment.

I said this before but I do truly mean it again, I really hope to continue to include yoga in my life even though this challenge comes to an end. I feel better after every session and it reminds me to stay calm and helps me to control stress. Thanks to Courtney for hosting this challenge once again!

Namaste.

*****Thinking of all of my friends and family on the east coast. Stay safe!*****

What has gotten into me lately?

Happy Saturday!

I’m backin’ up the train to Thursday night.

After work Dana and I headed out to run a couple of errands. It was a super gloomy cold day, oh and did I mention it snowed on Thursday?! All I really wanted to do was stay snuggled up in our warm house, but life does go on even when the cold weather strikes…so off we went to get a few things done.

By the time we got home we were both extremely hungry but neither of us were any mood to cook, so I cheated. I opened up a can of fat-free refried beans, heated them up and topped them on a romaine salad along with corn, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cilantro, onions, and salsa.

A burrito salad. So simple. So delicious. The only thing missing was avocado which we HAD but wasn’t quite ripe. Womp womp…Aw well, next time.

Now to Friday (yesterday)…

I had the day off and started the day with a little experiment. I wanted to see how my body would react to Greek yogurt for breakfast. This used to be a breakfast staple for me back in the day but this colitis business has been throwing me off a bit.

I dished up a bowl of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, banana and FAGE Non-Fat Greek Yogurt sweetened with a touch of stevia.

It tasted glorious ANNND my body seemed to accept it just fine. It’s nice to have this as another breakfast option again.

After breakfast and a cup of coffee, I vacuumed the living room to get ready for some yoga. I found yet another OnDemand yoga session that was geared towards athletes. Not to say that I’m an athlete by any means, but I like to be active, so I thought I would give it a go. It turned out to be one of my favorites so far. The instructor explained the moves very well and I really enjoyed how he kept the session flowing with lots of different poses.

After yoga I set out to run a few errands including trying to find the last piece of my Halloween costume for a party we are going to tonight. The store I wanted to go to didn’t open until 10 and I arrived ready to go at 9:40. I’m not one to sit around so I decided to head on over to the local natural food store and see how much money I could spent in 20 minutes. Kidding.

When I walked in the door I was immediately greeted with this sample set up. Angie’s White Chocolatier Peppermint Holidrizzle Kettle Corn. Are you serious?! I sampled two delectable kernels and they rocked my socks off. I have plans to try to recreate this in the future for the holidays, or else just go buy a bag. One or the other.

There were some more errands run…and now we are on to dinner (I skipped ahead a bit).

Earlier in the week I had prepped a spaghetti squash by cooking it, scraping out the spaghetti strands, draining some of the liquids, and freezing it in a Ziploc bag. All I had to do last night was defrost it in the microwave, drain off excess liquid and do whatever I pleased with it.

I sautéed some onion, mushroom, and kale in some olive oil. I seasoned the veggies with oregano and basil. Once the veggies were cooked down, I hollowed out a spot in the pan for the squash. I placed the squash in the center and spread it out like a pancake. I cooked each side for about 1-2 minutes. It “toasts” the spaghetti and I really like it better that way. Plus it helps to rid of any excess liquid.

Next, I plated up the squash with the veggies, topped it with spaghetti sauce and parmesan cheese.

Dinner was finished in less than 15 minutes. How about that?

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Now it’s Saturday morning and Dana, Moose and I just got back from a 4-mile run. It felt AMAZING! It was 27 ° F when we headed out this morning so I broke out the long underwear, ear-warmers, and gloves. The sun was out so that helped to keep us warm. I felt like I could keep running and running and running. What has gotten into me lately? I am loving it.

Off to tackle a few projects including appetizer prep for the Halloween party tonight, and finding the last piece of my costume. I always thought I wasn’t a procrastinator, but now I’m starting to wonder. I think I’m just really picky or have something envisioned in my head, so it takes me a long time to find the perfect piece that fits that vision. Yea, we’re going to go with that.

Have a splendid Saturday! Excited to catch up with you all again!

Birthday Surprises, Pot Roast, and a Pinch of Yoga

Hello there friends! You’re going to have to bear with me on this one, judging by the post title, you can maybe tell this is going to be a jam-packed post.

Last time I checked in with you all, I mentioned that we were going to be hosting a very special birthday celebration for my mom’s 60th on Saturday. I left you all dangling in anticipation about the secret menu I had planned for the party. 😉

You may have figured it out with this sneak peek photo I gave you on Saturday

That’s right…savory, warm and comforting pot roast; in the slow cooker of course. But I didn’t do just one roast, oh no. I did two. Who doesn’t love leftover pot roast? Also, I’d rather have too much food than not enough food for company any day.

I began by lightly searing all sides of the roast over medium-high heat on the stove top. I then transferred the meat to the slow cookers, added in the rest of the goodies, and set those bad boys on low for 8 hours. Check out the recipe at the bottom of this post!

An hour or so before company arrived, I got to work on the potatoes. I made simple boiled and smashed red potatoes. First I rinsed and scrubbed off any dirt on the potatoes. Don’t you love my apron BTW?! Thanks to Stacy for her creative sewing work. The other side has ladies on it so that if Dana wants to cook in it he can reverse it. How cute, right?!

Next, I halved the potatoes and placed them into a large pot, covered them with water and boiled for 15 minutes or until fork tender. I drained the water, added 1 tablespoon of butter, and some salt and pepper, and got to mashing.

Ta da! I also made a small batch of cheater beef gravy to go on top for those who were interested.

For some green love to go around I made a salad I found on Pinterest from Espresso and Cream’s website. I gotta give this girl major credit. This salad was amazing. I made just a few minor tweaks. You can check out her recipe here, but below is my modified version.

Pear Poppy Seed Salad
Ingredients

  • 8-9 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 medium pears, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 slices turkey bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • Ken’s Lite Poppy Seed Dressing
Directions
  1. Add all ingredients into bowl except dressing. Allow guests to dress their own salads.

Once the food was all ready to go, we got a fire going in the fireplace, set the table, and relaxed while waiting for our guests to arrive.

Once my family arrived, we munched on a tasty shrimp appetizer that Kevi brought to share. Then I told everyone to move to the table. It was time for dinner. We gave the birthday girl the head seat at the table, right next to the fire. She’s the freeze baby of the family. Dad, Kevin, and Scott were our other lovely guests.

This photo below is pretty much the best food photo shot I got all night. I must have been so caught up in the excitement of the party and some surprises to come that I wasn’t really into snapping.

For example, these next two photos do not justify the awesomeness of dinner and dessert. The pot roast came out so tender and flavorful. We also had the baby red potatoes, the pear side salad, sunflower whole grain bread, and apple crisp for dessert.

Mom and dad even made me a special gluten-free apple crisp with almond flour. Bless their hearts. It was delicious too! Talk about an all around comforting meal.

After dinner, we moved on to gifts. My brothers and Dana and I bought mom a Cuisinart 7-cup Food Processor. She has been needing a new one for one for quite some time so I thought it would be the perfect birthday gift. I have the same exact food processor at home that ironically enough, my mom and dad gave Dana and I as a shower gift. I really like mine so I decided to get them the same one!

Next came the big surprises. First, dad started off by giving mom a few gifts: a sweater, a shower liner(!), and some golf balls. Mom’s reaction was so genuine after receiving just these few simple gifts being that it was a big birthday for her. She was just happy to have (almost) everyone together—gifts don’t matter to her. But really, a shower liner??

A short while later, dad grabs another gift and gives it to her confessing that he has one more gift for her, and that it’s for their anniversary which is in November. Mom goes right along with it all and opens her gift which is an iPad.

Her laptop has been on the fritz for a very long time, but he has been planning on getting her this iPad for months, so needed to keep making excuses as to why they should wait to buy one. The line that had worked best lately was, “let’s wait until Black Friday, then we’ll go get you a laptop or an iPad.” She was fine with that idea since it at least gave her a time frame and gave her hope. Haha. This all cracks me up.

So, anyway. She doesn’t believe it’s really an iPad, or really her iPad. As she’s still trying to grasp the fact, dad wants to show her something on YouTube. He opens up the application and there is a video clip of one of my mom’s best friends singing a special song she wrote to my mom to the tune of “Give My Regards to Broadway.” In this clip, she divulges to mom that my dad will be taking her to New York for her birthday, and her friend and her husband would be joining them. 

At this point mom is completely floored and practically unsure of what to believe. Her reactions to all of these surprises were absolutely priceless and so sincere.

The last surprise that dad pulled out was tickets to see Jersey Boys on Broadway, and that at the latter end of the trip, they are going to travel to New Jersey to visit my mom’s aunt and uncle that live out there. 

The whole series of surprises left everyone very emotional. Mom deserves every single bit of every one of these gifts. She is so giving, faithful, compassionate, and a rock for all of us. She always knows what to say to make me feel better and to put things into perspective. I hope someday I will have the wisdom that she has.

It was such a fun birthday celebration. I’ve said it a million times but I’ll say it again, HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY MAMA! You are the most incredible woman and I love you to infinity!

The rest of the evening was spent playing with the iPad and watching these two lovers play. Scotty’s dog Tuner is a husky and black lab mix, and she is beautiful. Mooser and Tuner get a long very well. Moose and Tuner sitting in a tree…

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This post is getting real lengthy, and I apologize but real quickly I just want to check in on the October Yoga Challenge.

On Thursday I whipped out an Ab Strengthening Yoga session OnDemand. I thought it was a 20 some minute session, but when I looked back at it, I realized it was a 30 some minute session. Score! 

I am still loving every bit of this yoga challenge. I would like to work more of it into my schedule!

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Now, finally here is that Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe for all ya’ll. Have a great day and thanks for sticking with me through this novel of a post! Muah!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Print
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • beef pot roast
  • 2 medium onions, chopped in thick wedges
  • 5 carrots, chopped in 1 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Brown all sides of roast in pan over medium high heat. Place into slow cooker.
  2. Add remaining ingredients into slow cooker.
  3. Set on low for 8 hours.

 

Curry Squash & Lentil Stew

Guess what I did again on Wednesday night? I got my dance on at my old dance studio! For anyone who may have missed it, you can catch a little blurb about my dance journey if you click right here. Since I was sick last week I didn’t make it to class, but was able to go this week and it felt GREAT. I am really feeling the aftermath of it. My body is screaming. I love it.

Onto Thursday…

Lately I have been making myself a breakfast smoothie to enjoy on the ride to work. Yesterday I threw together what was sure to be a delicious smoothie. In the mix: cherries, blueberries, banana, coconut almond milk, and hemp protein powder.I gave it the standard whirl in the blender, poured it into my to-go cup, and made my way to work.

I was so looking forward to this smoothie but to my dismay there was some crunchy bits that kept coming through my straw. I thought it was just a fluke and maybe it was a bit of cherry skin that hadn’t quite pureed completely, so I kept sipping. More and more hard little bits. I came to the conclusion that it had to have been a cherry pit that was accidentally missed. So much for my breakfast smoothie.

I made a pit stop at the gas station for an impromptu banana and string cheese. Carbs and protein. I did my best given my time constraint and options available.

Enough of the smoothie rant. Lunch was great. I made myself a bowl of shredded chicken (crock pot style), peas, and avocado. I seasoned it all with salt and pepper and called it a protein packed bowl of goodness. Alongside the chicken I had an apple and carrot sticks and some chocolate chips and peanut butter for dessert.

After work my body was seriously sore. Dance really kicked my rear. I wanted to get some type of physical activity so I opted for yoga. The particular OnDemand yoga session was about 25 minutes long and focused on ab strengthening. It was a doozy and I mean that in a good kind of way. It was a “beginner” level but I would not have categorized it as such. Intermediate would be more appropriate. I’m not that out of shape.

Dinner

We still had a few varieties of squash lying around from our last trip to the farmer’s market. Actually, that’s not true. The squash on the left is now gone. I ate half of it a couple of weeks ago. It was okay but nothing to write home about. 😉 So that means I still had a spaghetti squash and a buttercup squash to work with.

I made a quick scan of the cupboards and then got creative in the crock pot. I threw together brown lentils, chickpeas, cooked and cubed buttercup squash, chicken broth, and other spices (recipe below). I let this simmer on low for 6 hours, covered; stirring occasionally.

After it was done mingling, I ladled it into my pretty blue ceramic bowl from our wedding, and topped the stew with fresh chopped cilantro and chopped unsalted peanuts.

The stew turned out so great! The flavors all worked together so nicely and the dish was hearty, warm, and comforting. I’m pretty sure this was my first time ever cooking with lentils and it was my first time working with buttercup squash. Double score! I have lots of lentils leftover and will definitely be using more of them in my future. I am thinking lentil sloppy joes.

Here is the recipe for ya and my inspiration came from Eating Well.

Curry Squash & Lentil Stew
Print
Cuisine: NOTE: To make SCD legal, remove chickpeas and add in your favorite SCD legal white bean instead
4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups buttercup squash, cooked, and cubed
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ¾ cup chickpeas
  • ¾ cup brown lentils
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup no added sugar spaghetti sauce*
  • 2 cups chicken broth**
  • 1 tsp. dried ginger
  • ¾ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • *Tomato paste can be substituted; you would need about 1 Tbsp.
  • **Vegetable broth can be used if cooking vegetarian.
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients except peanuts and cilantro into slow cooker.
  2. Cover and set on low for 6 hours; stirring occasionally.
  3. Ladle stew into bowls and top with peanuts and cilantro.

 Exciting News

I mentioned in my last post that I would be traveling out of the country in less than two weeks. It’s reveal time. The destination….

Bogota, Colombia!

Dana and I are going to visit my brother Jeff who lives and works out there. I am so insanely excited and can’t believe it’s so soon! I can’t wait to spend time with him, meet his friends, see where he lives, and learn more about Colombia (and hopefully drink some really great coffee and eat delicious chocolate). That is my fun news! I will be snapping lots of photos to share with you all when I get back.

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Anyone else thrilled that it’s Friday? I can’t hide my enthusiasm. Apparently it’s strong coffee Friday too. Usually it’s me that accidentally  makes the coffee a little too strong, but this week the finger points elsewhere. Maybe that’s why I’m extra enthusiastic this morning.

We have plans to celebrate mom’s birthday this weekend. It’s a special year for her. We will be hosting dinner over at our house on Saturday night. I have a great menu planned and am excited to have some of the family over. More on that later gators.

Have a super Friday friends! xoxo. I hope this enthusiasm rides out all day.

Turkey Meatloaf, Veggie Loaded

I had such a productive weekend I feel like a new woman today. I need to do some catching up from Saturday’s dinner, but I am going to start with Sunday morning first. Excuse me as I jump around throughout the post. Jump, jump everybody jump!

Sunday Morning

It was my last chance for the week to get my yoga on in order to meet my October Yoga Challenge, so first thing in the morning I headed to the living room to set up. The routine before a yoga session is to push all of the furniture aside, get Moose’s toys off of the carpet, and vacuum the area. I love our pup but he sheds like a maniac so vacuuming often is necessary in our house.

I turned the heat up in the house to create a “hot yoga” atmosphere, and got moving to yoga OnDemand. This particular session focused on jump kick-backs aka burpees.

It was a 22-minute session and it really got me sweating! I guess that could have been because I cranked the heat up too. Either way, I was still sweating. I got in my weekly session and it felt SUPER once again.

After yoga, Dana and I took a trip to Caribou Coffee to get our BOGO on. First, yoga, then BOGO. I am still trying to be careful with dairy in my diet so I ordered a french roast with sugar-free hazelnut. I did put a touch of cream in my coffee when I got home. I love the creamy smoothness that cream adds to the coffee. As much as I’ve tried to switch to almond milk, or no milk, or no cream, I just don’t enjoy it as much as I do with the cream. So, I’m sticking with it. It’s my special treat in the morning.

To go along with my coffee I made myself some breakfast: a smoothie with blueberry, strawberry, banana, almond milk, crushed ice, and a tablespoon of hemp protein powder. Fabulous.

Now to recap the weekend’s events…

Saturday was an incredibly productive day. After getting organized at work on Thursday, then seeing a guest on Rachael Ray’s Show demonstrating how to organize your home in no time, I was inspired to tackle my own home.

Throughout the weekend, Dana and I organized: the front closet, the kitchen cabinets, my desk, my closet, the guest room closet, and the dining room cabinets. Not bad right? We also went crazy on the backyard and cut down all of the plants for the winter. Sort of bittersweet.

It’s amazing how good you feel after getting your house reorganized. Now, to keep it that way.

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Now, reverse back to Saturday evening. Let’s talk about dinner. After spending the day cleaning and organizing, I was in the mood for a hearty meal. I took the inspiration from my cute little turkey meatloaves to create this bomb of a dinner, and I mean bomb in a good way.

Turkey Veggie Meatloaf and Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

I included carrots, zucchini, onions, and olives in this meatloaf and it turned out great! Parents, if you have a picky eater and are looking for a way to camouflage some veggies into their diets, this just may be the way to go. The veggies add a bit of a light crunch to the loaf, and all of the flavors from the veggies, seasonings, and meat all meld together to form a perfect combo. Plus there’s ketchup in meatloaf, kids love ketchup. 🙂 As do adults (right, Kev?).

Last weekend, Dana and I stopped at the farmer’s market in our area. We bought a few squash (that I still need to use) and a carton of brussels sprouts. Since I was set back this past week with the stomach bug, we didn’t get around to cooking up those sprouts, so we pulled them out on Saturday.

I washed and trimmed the ends and let them drain. I then sauteéd them in a small amount of coconut oil and simply seasoned with salt and pepper. I only used about half of the brussels sprouts in this side dish, so I froze the unprepared ones for a later time. They freeze perfectly.

Such a cozy comforting meal on a cool fall evening, and so very tasty too. I’m all about that lately. Did you check out my soup from Friday night? NUM!


Turkey Meatloaf, Veggie Loaded
Print
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Loaf:
  • 1¼ lbs lean ground turkey
  • ½ cup carrots, grated
  • ¼ cup zucchini, grated and drained
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup green olives, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • dash of cumin
  • 2 tsp. worcestershire
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • Topping:
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp. mustard
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease standard bread loaf pan; set aside.
  2. Combine all "loaf" ingredients; do not over-mix.
  3. Press into prepared pan.
  4. Mix together topping ingredients. Spread over loaf.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, then place under broil for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes before slicing.

I am off to take on this Monday once and for all. I hope you have an enjoyable day. Check in with you all soon!