Valentine’s Dinner Recap

Hello my friends and Happy Presidents day!

How was your weekend? Did you get your fill of Olympic viewing like we did? My hubs has a serious love for the Olympics and his enthusiasm is rubbing off on me. I am loving it!

So, the last time we touched base I was trying to decide on my Valentine’s Day menu. I had asked for your help in my decision-making process and after much consideration I decided on coconut shrimp, parmesan baked fries, artichokes, and banana almond chocolate squares!! The whole dinner prep process took us about an hour and a half, but it was so worth it!

Check it out…

Coconut shrimp with recipe inspiration from Skinny Taste.

My modifications to Coconut Shrimp

  • 3/4 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (weight after peeled)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flake
  • pinch of salt
  • olive oil to coat pan

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • a dash of cayenne pepper

We followed Skinny Taste’s recipe instructions here: Coconut Shrimp Instructions although we had to broil ours for a while towards the end because they weren’t crisping up. coconut shrimp coconut shrimp End product… coconut shrimp parmesan fries Baked parmesan fries: recipe from 101cookingfortwo. We didn’t change a darn thing except instead of mixing the fries with the oil and cheese in the bowl, I just coated the pan with olive oil, coated the top of the fries with olive oil, and sprinkled the parmesan cheese over the tops, along with some salt. parmesan fries parmesan fries Steamed artichokes! artichokes   valentine's dinner   artichoke Banana Chocolate Almond Squares from PopSugar almond banana bars almond banana bars

I am obsessed with these babies! They are gooey and chocolatey, banana-y, perfectly sweet and just so darn delicious! I keep them in the freezer and cut off a square or two everyday. So there you have it. Valentine’s dinner was a success!

Did you have any special treats on Valentine’s Day? 

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

Grilled Chicken with Artichoke Salsa & Valentine Surprises

Happy Friday! Do your happy dance!

So, I have pretty much weaned myself off coffee in the mornings and instead have been enjoying a cup of kombucha tea (which does also have a tiny bit of caffeine) but I was really wanting a cup of coffee this morning, so guess what? That’s what I had.

I’m going to cut right to the chase from yesterday. I don’t have much to share up until the afternoon. As you know, I am one of the lovey dovey people who celebrates Valentine’s Day. I do agree that “everyday should be Valentine’s Day,” and that we should share our love all of the time, and not just on one specific day, but I also like the idea of a super special day of love.

We don’t go super crazy celebrating but we usually cook up a nice dinner and have some sort of decadent dessert.  Gifts are usually optional or something small.

Valentine’s Dinner

I haven’t the slightest idea where I found this recipe, but it was tucked away in my recipe book and I was aching to try it. My guess is I had thought about making it last year for Vday?

Grilled Chicken with Artichoke Salsa.

We grilled two boneless skinless chicken breasts seasoned with lemon, salt, and pepper along with a bunch of asparagus stalks. Grilled asparagus is hands-down my favorite way to eat that veggie. It takes on a nice smoky flavor and is OH so good.

valentine's chicken dinner

While the chicken was grilling I got to work on the artichoke salsa (recipe below). This dish was extremely simple to prepare and turned out so amazingly well.

valentine's chicken dinner

 

And kind of fancy looking too. At least fancier than what we’re used to on a Thursday night.

Artichoke Salsa
Print
Ingredients
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped (I used jarred in olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, diced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • dash of dried oregano
  • dash of dried thyme
  • dash of italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients and serve on top of grilled boneless chicken breast and asparagus. NUM!

 

Dessert

I had some homemade gluten-free brownies leftover from Tuesday’s work meeting, so I warmed those up for dessert. They were almost paleo, but not quite, so it was a bit of a “treat.”

brownie gluten-free

I was originally planning on making a paleo molten chocolate lava cake, but after dinner I was first of all stuffed, and second of all just simply tired. These brownies were the perfect substitute though. Plus now they are out of the house!

The evening was full of surprises. When I first got home from work, I had a few cards waiting for me. Yes, actually legit cards that came in the mail. It always excites me to get actual “mail!” I was feeling very loved. Mooser even gave me a card. 😉

I sent Dana on a mini scavenger hunt for a few gifts that I had got for him. I love going on those scavenger hunts, so I thought I’d let him have some fun. I think he enjoyed it!

Dana surprised me with my very first Lululemon workout top. Actually my very first anything from Lululemon. That store is so outrageously expensive but holding that shirt I could feel the difference! So soft. I can’t wait to wear it!

lululemon

 

As if that wasn’t enough, Dana tells me that he has another surprise for me. He said that he changed a few things on my blog. To premise that, there is a huge list of details I want to change about the blog, but I haven’t figured out how to configure the changes yet, so this surprise actually sounded like something he would have done. I was still a little skeptical.

I sit down at my computer to look at the changes, and he tells me to use the pullout keyboard (which is just a little pull out sliding shelf attached to my desk which is meant for a keyboard for a desk top). I have no idea what he’s talking about but play along and pull out the shelf and guess what was sitting there…

MACBOOKAir

An Apple MacBook Air.

I couldn’t believe what was in front of my eyes. My computer has been on the fritz for a while now, and we talked about how my next computer will be a Mac, but I was thinking we would practically wait for my computer to start on fire before we replaced it. But no, no, I am now an official owner of a Mac.

Needless to say I feel more than a little spoiled. I spent the rest of the evening with my honey trying to figure out the ins and outs with my new toy and watching Modern Family from Wednesday (LOVE that show).

It will definitely take some getting used to but I already feel less stress while working on the blog. Uploading photos is faster because pictures taken from my iPhone are automatically synced onto my computer, there is no lag time due to overheating, it’s wonderful.

Dana outdid himself. Although he said the computer “isn’t a Valentine’s gift, because it was something you needed.” Either way, he spoiled me rotten.

I had a wonderful day as you can see. I hope you did too!

February Fitness Challenge 

Today we enter into our third week of the February Fitness Challenge. I am happy to say I once again met my goal of three strength training activities for the week. Check out my workout log page if you are interested in what I did!

Question: Did you make any February fitness goals? If so, what are they, and how are they going?

I am very thankful it’s Friday. I have a fairly low-key weekend planned and I’m hoping to get a good run in, do some vacation shopping, and RELAX.

Happy FRIDAY! Catch up with you later gators.

I Prefer Small Meals and Snacks

First and foremost, I want to wish you all a…. valentine's day

I am such a lover, so this Hallmark holiday really puts me into an EXTRA lovey dovey spirit. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s day or not, I hope you all have a wonderful day full of love and joy! I’ll be doing my best to spread the love today.

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Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which means it was a day to fast in between meals (it means a lot more than that but I’m not getting into that right now). Being that I am not one to eat big meals, I am more of a small meals and snacks throughout the day kind of gal, this is always a little challenging for me. It involves some planning to make sure I build significant meals to keep me energized throughout the work day and not hit any slumps. Like most of us, I need A LOT of energy to get through the day.

In the morning I unrolled the yoga mat and put on a Yoga/Pilates OnDemand. The workout was about 25 minutes and it felt GREAT. My body was pretty sore and tight before the workout, but once I was done with the session, I felt much more relaxed and less tense. After yoga, I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then finished with a plank.

Then it was time to get breakfast going. I cooked up a batch of quinoa, topped it with kale, a little bit of cheese, salt, pepper, avocado, and an egg.

quinoa and egg breakfast

quinoa and egg breakfast

How’s that for breakfast creativity? That was definitely a bit out of my breakfast comfort zone (aka banana and peanut butter). And as if that wasn’t enough, I gobbled up some lemon blueberry bread. Multiply this bite in my hand times about six.

blueberry lemon bread

I was set.

Breakfast held me over into lunch and then some. For lunch I made a Greek yogurt bowl with chia seeds, FAGE non-fat Greek yogurt, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries.

fruit and yogurt bowl

And last and maybe least (dinner isn’t too impressive), for dinner I made a salad with cabbage, lettuce, beans, peas, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and honey mustard dressing. I snacked on carrots while I threw the salad together. I was really hungry by the time dinner rolled around.

salad

Part two of dinner was trail mix with some raisins, peanuts, almonds, and dark chocolate chips.

trail mix

After a day of eating only three solid meals, versus my regular small meals and snacks, I am absolutely sure that I prefer the more frequent small meals and snacks. I felt pretty blech all day.

I am fully aware that some cultures fast all day long for different reasons, and I tip my hat to them. That takes incredible willpower and dedication which is why I refuse to complain about having to do this one day. Making any changes to a typical daily intake, also really makes me realize how fortunate I am to have food available to me at all times.

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Intelligent Nutrients Giveaway Winner

Switching gears here, once again. It’s time to announce the winner of the Intelligent Nutrients shampoo and conditioner!

The winner has been randomly chosen. Congratulations to…

Alicia @ The Wannabe Foodie!!

I’m very excited for you to try these products! Send me an email at beautifullynutty@gmail.com with your address information. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you to all who entered! If you follow me on Twitter, be on the lookout for another giveaway coming your way. My twitter handle is: @NuttyMelanie

Happy Valentine’s Day my friends! xoxo I hope your day is filled with love.

Question: Whether you are dating, married, or single…Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Anything fun planned for today?

A Test of My Willpower

Happy hump day! I hope everyone is having a good week so far. I’m kind of already ready for this week to be over. Total downer over here, but each day that goes by is one day closer to our vacation, so I am a bit antsy. Not that I usually wish time to go by fast, but in this situation, I sort of do. Wouldn’t you if this was awaiting your arrival?

turks

I think so.

I don’t have much to show for my day yesterday as far as pictures go but I still have a little sharing and confessing to do.

First, I started my day off with a banana with peanut butter, cinnamon and a light drizzle of honey along with another cup of green kombucha tea. I absolutely WILL not eat this breakfast again for breakfast today. I am challenging myself to something more creative today. Plus, we’re getting low on the pb.

Once I was fueled and did a couple of things around the house, I changed quickly into my workout clothes and completed this arm pyramid workout:

lean arms pyramid

 

Followed by a couple other arm exercises combined with squats and other glute action. I really only had about 25 minutes for a workout this morning so I was happy I at least got something in.

So, off to work I go. I had a lot of meetings yesterday and given that is so close to Valentine’s Day, there were LOTS of treats.

I did a pretty good job with the self-control at lunch. I plated myself up a few of the gluten-free options along with a big cup of homemade chicken chili.

potluck lunch chicken chili

When the desserts were passed around I passed up the cupcakes and the brownies, and had only two chocolate covered strawberries.

Not too bad all things considered. That was willpower test number one.

Fast-forward to our evening meeting. I had packed a bag of carrots to munch on and tide me over until I got home, but that clearly wasn’t enough (I know better than that) because when the nummy snacks started coming out, my hunger began to takeover my willpower.

I brought homemade gluten-free brownies to share with everyone, so I plated myself up one of those, a bunch of Angie’s White Cheddar popcorn, pistachios, a piece of dark chocolate, a few gummy hearts, and a Take 5 mini candy bar. I enjoyed every single treat on my plate without hesitation. Sugars: 1, Willpower: 0.

I have been really limiting my added sugars and having maybe one piece of dark chocolate about every other day or so, and my body has become accustomed to not a lot of added sugars. So last night was a bit of a shock to my body. I didn’t feel good after I did it either.  My body was not very happy with this surprise. But, I refuse to dwell on it. It was one day. Today is a new day and I can tell you this much, the sweets don’t stand a chance today.

That’s all I have for now. I just needed to “confess,” and I feel a lot better now.

I’m off to take on my day. I hope you have a positive Wednesday!

Do you have any treats that truly test your willpower?

Sweet Day & Fun Plans

Hello there! No monkey business I have lots to share as always.

Yesterday we had a potluck lunch at work. It was Valentine’s themed so everyone was supposed to bring food that was red, pink, or purple. My food-minded brain started thinking of tons of different options: pink quinoa with Craisins, nuts, and apples, cupcakes with pink frosting, apple nachos….had a hard time deciding on one. But I did decide to go with the Apple Nachos. I got the idea from Pinterest but changed it up a bit.

It included sliced apples, melted peanut butter drizzled over top, and was topped with almond slices, walnut pieces, Craisins, and chocolate chips. This was a huge hit and it was so simple to make! This would be a huge crowd pleaser with kids as well.

At the meeting there was everything from beet salad, to pb and j sandwiches on pink bread, strawberries, red bell peppers, heart shaped egg salad sandwiches, pink and red M & M’s (which I had WAY too many of), pink cupcakes (also had one of those), meatballs, etc. We go all out at our work meetings. Lunch held me over very well.

I had another meeting from 5:30-7 and didn’t get home until about 7:30. This was waiting for me at home upon my arrival.

My favorite gummy treats, three amazing cards which were all so sweet (from Moose, Dana, and one from my mom too), and the gift in the pink bag was a bathrobe from Target that I have literally been eyeing up for the past year!

On the menu: Lightly pan-fried scallops and fresh Mahi-Mahi that Dana caught earlier today. 🙂 Ha ha, that would be great! Alongside were oven-roasted fennel and artichoke hearts. Everything was unbelievable. I even liked the fennel! It didn’t have much of a licorice taste like I was expecting, it took on a “roasted” flavor and I actually really enjoyed it. I couldn’t finish everything on my plate because I was filling up way too fast and I knew there was some really great dessert yet to come.

Dessert started with these adorable chocolate covered strawberries.

Second course of dessert was cookie dough ice cream and warm, fresh brownies.

The combination of cold ice cream and warm brownies, and the way the ice cream melts into the brownie and creates a fudge like brownie….I can’t even believe how amazing it is. I don’t get this treat very often, but when I do, you better watch out, I will put myself into a brownie and ice cream coma.

This picture does not describe the magnitude of my love for this dish. Once I finished this deliciousness, I felt like I had a boulder sitting in my stomach. I ate enough sugar today to last me through the whole month.

After dinner, we watched a great Valentine’s episode of Glee, and before we knew it it was 9:30 which means time to get ready for bed! I promise I am only 26 years old. I really need my sleep though.

Dana really pulled off an amazing Valentine’s Day. I told him “he won” this year for sure. Not that I really mean it’s a competition but he just put so much time into it and made it so unbelievable. The couple hours that I did have with Dana made up for me having to work until 7 last night.

Now, I have some major gummies to eat before lent begins next week!

One last note. Valentine’s Day holds an extra special place in my heart, because I remember my Grandma K who passed away 8 years ago on this day. She was able to join her husband in heaven on this special day devoted to love. She was an amazing, caring, funny, spitfire of a woman who will always be remembered.

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I mentioned previously that I had exciting events planned for the upcoming year. It’s share time.

  1. Trip to California to visit friends–next week!
  2. Get Lucky7k run on St. Patty’s Day
  3. A weeklong vacation to the Dominican Republic—end of April! We just booked this two nights ago!
  4. Race for the Cure with mom on Mother’s Day
  5. Boundary waters weekend trip in May
  6. Two half marathons in June
  7. Warrior Dash at the end of June
  8. Long weekend trip to visit my brother in Bogota later summer, early fall

I’m probably forgetting a few things in there! In between those events are birthdays, baby showers, weddings, fun sun time, hopefully a garage sale….and more. It is going to be a great year! I am so pumped for it all! I’m off to get ready for work and maybe going to throw something in the crockpot? We will see. Have a great day! Happy Wednesday.

Lovey Dovey

Good morning! A quick recap from yesterday….

The verdict on the pb banana wrap with turkey bacon? It tastes better without the bacon. I have a feeling a lot of people out there would argue with me and say that EVERYTHING tastes better with bacon, but I would have to disagree. It was fun to give it a shot but I’ll stick with the B.L.A.T. option if I want to get my bacon fix.

After work I hit the gym for a 30 minute elliptical run followed by back and bicep strength training.

  • 3×10 bicep curls
  • 3×10 push-ups
  • 3×10 (back) flies—I’m going to be honest I don’t know if that’s the right termage, but I’m going to go with it.
  • I ended with a 1-minute plank
I am extremely tired today so I called it quits after that and headed home in the SNOW! It’s actually snowing here in Minnesota…finally. I didn’t mind un-MinneSNOWta myself but it is kind of pretty around here with the white fluff on the ground.

This isn’t my backyard but it’s a pretty photo, right?!

Dinner was an old go-to dinner for us that we actually haven’t “gone-to” in a while.
Kitchen Sink Hash. We basically throw whatever vegetables we have on hand in a pan with some garlic powder, salt, and pepper. We saute the vegetables until tender, in the meantime cooking an egg over-easy. Plate up the vegetables, then place the egg, and a little shredded cheese on top. Lastly poke the egg yolk (and quick take a picture) as it disperses over the vegetables. OH yea so good!

The rest of the night was spent relaxing with my men, watching the Bachelor, and finishing up the laundry that I didn’t get around to last night. Also, Dana and I booked a future vacation! We have lots of fun planned in the next year. I will be sharing it all with you very soon!

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This morning I started off with a walk/run on the treadmill. It got me moving and a little sweaty. Oh, by the way…

This is my first Valentine’s Day as a married woman! Unfortunately I have to work until 7 pm tonight but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to celebrate when I get home. Dana is going to make some sort of fresh fish for us (I had originally thought swordfish but now I am contemplating over something else like walleye or grouper), oven roasted fennel and artichoke hearts, and ice cream for dessert! I am excited to try roasted fennel. I have never cooked with it at home. I know it has a slight licorice taste which I generally don’t like, but I am thinking that roasting it might bring out a different flavor. We shall see!

Some people will say that Valentine’s Day is just a “Hallmark” holiday, and that you should tell those you love, that you love them EVERYDAY, not just on February 14th. I agree with this partially, but as a person who DOES tell the ones I love dearly that I love them (sorry this is getting confusing), I DO enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day. It falls at a great time of year when the big holiday rush has subsided, and the winter is getting a little long. It’s a fun day to express your love even more than you normally do. And to get a little sappy too. 🙂

I am thrilled that it is my first Valentine’s Day as a married woman! I won’t get too mushy on you but I just have to say that I feel like the luckiest woman in the whole world to have Dana as my husband.

He is such a thoughtful, unselfish person, who loves me unconditionally and can put up with me even when I’m having a “crisis”.

He makes me laugh, supports me endlessly, and encourages me to follow my heart.

Telling him I love him doesn’t even begin to explain the way I feel for him. I am so happy I get to spend every single Valentine’s Day with this man forever. I love you Dana. Happy Valentine’s Day.

And Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you as well! I hope that everyone has a great day and can enjoy a little piece of love whether it’s a smile from a friend, a piece of chocolate from a coworker, or even just sitting on the couch with people you enjoy, and watching your favorite show together.

I am a pretty mushy person, but I was able to give you the amended version of my lovey-dovey rant. I LOVE LOVE! What can I say!

How do you guys feel about Valentine’s Day? Overplayed, underplayed? Just another day? The best day of the year? I would love to read your comments!