Spaghetti Squash Bake

Happy Tuesday! How was everyone’s weekend?  Ours started out really good and then ended kind of a low note…my strep throat returned and a busted tail light :-/ Womp womp!  Hubs accidentally backed my car into his…the worst kind of accident. But luckily, everyone is okay.  Easy (but pricey) fix.
fenderbenderI started feeling kind of crappy on Sunday when I woke up, but pressed forward with baking cookies with my little darling.
IMG_2530After that adventure and cleaning up the kitchen, I was exhausted and could feel my throat starting to swell up.  I called my doc to call in another round of antibiotics, so hopefully this round will do the trick.  I have a half marathon to run this weekend and I want to go into it feeling 100%.
To continue on with celebrating National Nutrition Month, I want to share an amazing recipe using spaghetti squash in place of pasta.
Both pasta and spaghetti squash have their own nutritional benefits.  For example, pasta is a better source of folate, where as eating spaghetti squash will provide you with more antioxidants.  Both are low in fat, but if you’re watching your carbs, spaghetti squash would be the better choice.  There are 7 grams of carbs in spaghetti squash compared to pasta’s 31 grams of carbs.  And calories? 1 serving of pasta (and let’s face it, most of us are consuming more than the recommended amount) packs in 158 calories, while spaghetti squash contains 27 calories. (source)   Overall,l if you’re trying to eat low (complex) carbs, low-fat, gluten-free or whole, unprocessed foods, I would say that spaghetti squash is the way to go.
Last week I made this delicious number.
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I cut 1 spaghetti squash in half (lengthwise), brushed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it in the oven at 400 for about 45 minutes.  While that was baking in the oven, I cooked up some italian chicken sausage, spinach, and pasta sauce.  Once the spaghetti squash was out of the oven, I took a fork and “fluffed” up the “noodles”.
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Then spooned the chicken sausage mixture over top and then added a sprinkle of goat cheese crumbles.  And voilà! Dinner :-)
What’s your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash? I used to scoop it out onto a plate and eat it like spaghetti, but I found this way to be much more appetizing and EASY!

Asian Chicken Salad

Happy Tuesday!  How was everyone’s weekend?  Ours was pretty busy over here, with drill and the last of our work holiday parties plus taking care of a sick kiddo.  Let’s just say, I’m looking forward to the weekend.

Last week, I was on a mission to use up some of the pantry items I’ve had on hand for awhile.  There were a lot of random meals being made and at one point, I said to hubs as we sat down to dinner, “I have no idea how this is going to taste, but all these things sounded like a really good idea.”  And it was.  I did, however, make one meal that I knew would be a for sure winner.

Every time we have a big family gathering, my grandma makes this Oriental Salad and it’s always a hit.  The salad is made with a pack of ramen noodles and you use the flavor packet as part of the dressing.  It’s amazing.  I would like to experiment with making the dressing completely from scratch one of these days just because I know how much sodium is in that little flavor packet.  If anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears!  To serve as a main meal, I cut up two chicken breasts into bite size pieces and sautéed them in sesame oil and black pepper.  The chicken definitely added some staying power to the salad.

IMG_2488Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb bag angel fine cole slaw
  • 1 pack oriental flavored ramen noodle
  • 1/2 c diced sweet onion
  • 1/2 c honey roasted sesame sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c roasted almonds sliced

Dressing

  • 1 flavor pack that comes with noodles
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 c oil

In a large bowl, mix up all of the salad ingredients.  Crush the ramen noodles up for garnish if you want to.  It adds a nice crunch to the salad.  In a separate smaller bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and stir.  Mix well into the salad.  Add in the chicken.  There you have it!  A salad packed with flavor that has some staying power.  Win win!

This week, my meals are well-planned out but my workouts are kind of all over the place, but I’m getting it done!  Here’s what’s on the agenda for this week:

Monday: PF Chang’s Asian Lettuce Wraps (thumbs up!) + Interval Barre & Running 3 miles

Tuesday: Runner’s World Meatloaf  (sooo good!) + foam rolling & stretching

Wednesday: leftovers + barre bee

Thursday: Jerk shrimp stir-fry + my Air Force PT Test!! (I’m anxious to see how all the push-ups in barre have helped me!)

Friday: Mexi night + Barre & running maybe?

I’ve been putting my Runner’s World cookbook to use!  I have yet to make a disappointing recipe from it and can’t wait to try out some of the desserts.  It was one of the most useful birthday presents that I received last year.

Question of the night:  What’s your favorite recipe book?  I could always add more to my collection!  My favorite would have to be a gift from my grandma.  One year for Christmas, she made up books for all of the women in my family of all of her best recipes.  It’s a cookbook I will keep forever!

A Working Mom’s BFF

Hey guys! How’s your week going so far? Last night, I bundled myself up and headed to Barre Bee Fit’s Barre Interval class. My cousin met me there and we had our butts
handed to us. This class had two cardio intervals sandwiched between a strength segment.

I almost died…but in a good way. I love being put through the ringer when it comes to a HIIT workout. Proof of a tough cardio session:

BBF burnSo tonight, for dinner, the chefs of Whole Foods in Milwaukee prepared our meal for us. While I was bopping around WF’s on Sunday after drill, I came across a life-changing dish.  A pre-prepared slow cooker meal for 4.  They had an assortment to choose from.  I ended up going with the Verde Stew.

verde stew

Verdict?  Not too bad.  It wasn’t out of this world, but it was good.  I felt like it was missing something but I couldn’t pinpoint what.  Everyone in our house ate it so I consider it a win.  I think if I go this route next time, I will try another variety.  I love my crockpot and plan on using it more now that it’s freezing cold here.  I have another crockpot meal planned for later this week.  I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to have dinner all ready to eat after you’ve worked a 10 hour day.  I’m gone about 12 hours and when I come home I like to spend as much time with Madelyn as I can, so I don’t like to cook too many “Involved” meals during the week.  We like to keep things simple over here :-)

I’m off to work on a Pinterest IRL project!  Don’t forget to enter the Erin Condren $25 giftcard giveaway!  It ends this Friday!     

5 Things Friday 12/6

The weekend is here!!! Any fun plans? I have some fun fitness things planned, dinner with friends and of course it’s drill weekend!!!

So, I’m jumping on the 5 things Friday bandwagon.  I’ve actually discovered some great new products this way from other bloggers so I thought I’d play along :-) I won’t always feature new to me products…mostly 5 random things I’d like to share with you from my week. Continue reading

Leftover Turkey Soup

Hi guys!  I’m so so grateful that I have Mondays off.  Our weekend was so jam-packed, it was nice to play catch up today-a day full of running errands, working out and cleaning.  This morning, I met up with a friend for a gym date.  I got there a little early and did 30 minutes of light cardio on the elliptical.  She met me afterward and we did a killer lower body workout.  It’s so much better doing resistance training workouts with friends!

Continue reading

Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s that time of year.  Cold salads are out and soup and comfort food is in.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it really hard to get my daily serving of vegetables when the temps start to drop.  The last thing I want when it’s 20 degrees is a salad.  Enter soup.    This last week, I wanted to try my hand at making chicken noodle soup from scratch-broth and all.  I found a few recipes, pieced together a few things and learned some cost-saving tips along the way :-)
The first thing that all the recipes called for was a whole chicken.  I ventured to the butcher section of Whole Foods to pick myself up a chicken and was stumped? Fryer chicken or roasting chicken? Where was the soup chicken??  So I asked the butcher which one to use.  He said that if I wanted more of a meaty soup to get the roaster chicken.  As I sat there and pondered if I wanted meaty soup or not, a nice lady over heard me talking to the butcher about my plans for this chicken and she offered another alternative: chicken backs.  She told me that she normally gets chicken backs and then will buy chicken breasts (bone-in and with the skin) to add in some more meat.  You can get some meat off of the chicken back but you’re buying them mostly for their bone.  The cost of the chicken backs and breast was about $8 as opposed to $15 for a whole chicken that I didn’t even need.  We had plenty of meat for the soup.
After you’ve decided what kind of chicken you want for your soup, next up is the broth: the heart of a good soup.  Place your chicken in an 8qt stock pot and fill with enough water to cover the chicken.  Then, add in onion, garlic, the leafy part of the celery, salt and pepper.  Boil for about 2 hours. The meat should be tender and falling off the bone by then.
IMG_2294After the two hours is up, remove the chicken from pot, place on a cutting board, and remove all the meat from the bones.
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Place the meat in a separate pot (I used a 6qt pot) and throw the bones and skin away.  Strain the broth with a fine mesh strainer into the new pot (the 6qt).  Add in egg noodles, carrots, celery, parsnips, salt, pepper, and any other desired vegetables.  Cook until the vegetables are tender and the noodles are done :-)   Serve and enjoy!!
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Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken or chicken parts with bone and skin
  • 1 large white onion sliced up
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 3 stalks of celery plus the leafy parts for broth
  • 2 parsnips chopped up
  • 4 carrots peeled and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • egg noodles broken up into smaller pieces
  • chopped parsley
  • water

I’m off to bundle up for a 5k that Larry and I are doing this afternoon.  It’s going to be a fast one since it’s 20 degrees out!  Motivation to hurry up and get inside :-)

What fun plans do you have this weekend? 

Running Game

What. A. Week.  Is it Friday yet?  Little miss Madelyn has been waking up the past few nights because of teething and it’s making for very long days for her mama.  She spoiled us as a newborn and is making up for it this week.  Thankfully there’s coffee and yogi tea with friendly reminders.
yogiteaThis past weekend we were super busy with lots of fun stuff.  Larry had a friend come in from Chicago, so we took him to a local watering hole down the block from us then out to eat at Sobelman’s (a first for everyone).  They were voted Milwaukee’s Best Burgers (winning a 2010 food wars challenge against AJ Bombers) and they’re also well known for their gigantic bloody marys.  Both were amazing.  I want to go back.  Like today.
baconatorWe ended the night at World of Beer-where they have over 500 types of beer to try.  The boys were in heaven.  It was nice being a DD for them.  Yes, it was a late night but it felt great the next morning, waking up, hitting the gym early and then heading off to a hair appointment.  I didn’t spend the day feeling useless after too many drinks, besides caring for a toddler when hungover is no bueno.  It never fails: when mommy and daddy want a late night out, Madelyn decides to wake up at 5:30am…it’s like she knows!
On Sunday, I woke up and met my mom and her friend at Greenfield Park for the GOTR 5k.  Girls on the Run is an organization that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running (source).  I first heard about Girls on the Run while I was living in Chicago while I was at the Chicago Rock n Roll expo.  It caught my attention and I was so happy that I was finally able to participate in one of their events.  It’s a wonderful organization and I hope that one day, Madelyn can participate in it.  I think it’s so important to raise a daughter who has a lot self-confidence and a healthy image of herself.
GOTRmadelynThe course started out a little crowded, as most races do.  When I was about a 1/4 into the run, it started to rain pretty steadily and I didn’t want my headphones (or phone) to get ruined with water, so I slowed down to put them in my vest pocket and ran the rest of the race without music-and I’m so glad that I did.  I got to hear the little girls cheer each other on and listen to one dad encourage his daughter to keep going when she wanted to stop by saying, “Come on, GIRL POWER!”.  It was pretty heartwarming and brought a smile to my face.  We finished just before the tornado sirens started going off…in November…in Wisconsin.  (Note to self: make sure to wear waterproof eye makeup when there’s a potential of rain)
GOTR
This race was my first event post marathon and I can confidently say that I’m ready to get back into my running game :-)   It was nice taking a much needed break-my body, mind, and feet thank me, but I missed running longer distances.  A few things I want to focus on as I build my mileage back up are strength training, stretching and foam rolling.  I foam rolled tonight for the first time in what seems like forever and it was pure torture.  Even though it hurt while I was doing it, I heard my calve muscles breath a sigh of relief after it was all over.
After I logged 4 miles on the treadmill today (38:41/9:41 pace), I came home to dinner being cooked in the oven :-)
wfsdinner
Thank you Whole Foods for providing my family with crab stuffed salmon with brie and asparagus.  While that was baking, I sautéed some sweet potatoes in truffle olive oil and sea salt.  I added the spinach at the end and it was delicious :-) Lucky for me there’s leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
I’ll be back to post a soup recipe later this week!!

Bison: It’s What’s for Dinner

Happy Veteran’s Day to all of my fellow Airmen and Soldiers out there :-) For those serving and for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, thank you!

We spent the weekend with friends, catching up on much needed rest, cooking and taking advantage of the Jo-Ann Fabrics Veteran’s Day sales.

On Friday, I had off of work, so Larry & spent the day cleaning and doing some serious yard work and then later that night, I met up with some girlfriends from high school at a bar in the city where we grew up.  It was nice to have some drinks, catch up and secure our plans for our annual girls Christmas Soirée!

girlscl

Saturday I headed to the gym to test out and calibrate my Garmin foot pod.  It took a dump on me right after the marathon, so my lovely friend, Kristine, sent me a new one.  I “googled” the heck out of how to trouble shoot it but then was told sometimes these things just don’t last very long.  My first foot pod lasted about a year before it died on me (Just to give those of you who have one a heads up).  I’ve become so reliant on having one now, especially with the colder weather now upon us.  It’s nice to be able to use your Garmin in doors :-) What did I ever do without that thing??

Saturday night, we had a date night in.  Larry and I like to start doing these when the weather gets cool and the days get short.  I pretty much create a really good dinner with quality ingredients from either Whole Foods or Outpost.  He helps chop stuff up and we drink wine or beer and listen to music in the kitchen.  Since having Madelyn, our date nights in don’t usually allow us to eat until about 8:30 or 9, but it’s something we both really enjoy doing and it’s a nice change of pace from the fast, week day meals that get consumed.

wine

This past weekend, we made Bison burgers, french fries with truffle cream sauce and a beet salad.  The bison burgers were inspired from a whole foods recipe, the truffle cream sauce fries came from me wanting to relive our DMK burger experience and the beet salad was a recipe from the Runner’s World Cookbook that I was gifted for my birthday :-)  Just a note with the truffle cream sauce…it’s the same consistency as mayo and I cannot express the importance of adding the canola in VERY SLOWLY!! The first batch did not turn out and I had to send Larry to the store for more eggs and oil.  The second batch, turned out wonderfully and I can proudly say that this weekend I learned how to make my own mayonnaise.  This opens up a whole new level of cooking :-)

So why Bison as opposed to beef?  According to the USDA, a grass-fed 3 ounce bison patty 152 calories and 7 grams of fat.  That’s less than a broiled, 90 percent lean beef burger, which averages 184 calories and 10 grams of fat.  It’s even less than a broiled, 93 percent lean turkey burger, which averages 176 calories and 10 grams of fat (source).  It’s a lot more costly than beef, but I think it’s worth it because it tastes better too.

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Goat Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomato Bison Burgers

  • 4 ounces of goat cheese crumbles
  • 3 Tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • sea-salt and black pepper to season
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 1.5 lb ground bison meat.

Directions.  Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  You might need to wet your hands with water to keep the meat from sticking.  Form into 6 patties of even thickness.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Preheat grill or stove.  I added a little bit of Earth’s Balance to grease up the grill pan we have and to keep the burgers from drying out since Bison is so lean.  Cook about 4 minutes on both sides or until desired temperature is achieved.  Top with your favorite burger fixin’s and enjoy!

I’m off to drink some tea, cuddle up on the couch and start reading this for fun! I hear it’s a good one!

gonegirl

What’s the last book that you’ve read?  I’m always looking for good recommendations!

Birthday Extravaganza

Wow! What a busy weekend and work week (even though it was only a 2 day work week).  There’s so much to write about, I’m not even sure on where to begin.  I’ll start by telling you all that I celebrated my birthday on Saturday, but because we had drill this past weekend, I pretty much celebrated the whole week leading up to it.
Friday, I stopped at Francesca’s after work and picked up something to wear for date night.  Since I spend the majority of my days in a uniform or workout clothes, I always buy myself something new when it comes to special occaisions.  My birthday dinner/date night definitely qualifies :-)
purpledressWe went to Parkside 23 for dinner, since I’ve been wanting to go there since it pretty much opened.  PS23 is Wisconsin’s only restaurant with an on-site farm.  Their meats are from local, organic farmers so that no hormones or antibiotics are ever used.  All of their vegetables and herbs are grown in their garden and their menu changes seasonally.  Their Motto: There is a simple way to bring food to the table.  It starts with a respect for the land we cultivate.
PS23′s menu is broken into pricing tiers: $7-$12, $13-18, $19+ and sides.  The $7-$12 is where you can find your starters, small places and some side vegetables.  Larry and I shared the roasted beets: scarlet & gold beets with Wisconsin chevre, maple-glazed walnuts, apple cider vinaigrette and leafy greens.  The beets were diced up really small and made the perfect main vegetable for this salad.  It was a great way to start out our meal.  For my main meal I went with the Scallop & Lobster which was served over fresh linguini, newberg cream and sarvecchio parmesan.  There were also some other fresh vegetables mixed in there.  It was one of the best seafood pasta dishes I’ve ever had and the portion size was just perfect, not too much and not too little.  Their pasta isn’t gluten-free, but they do offer a gluten-free menu.  Larry enjoyed the lamb chops, which were also very good.
ps23pastaOverall, we had a fantastic dining experience and will definitely be back again!  Since we were childless for the night and didn’t have to be at drill until later in the morning, we decided to check out a wine bar in the Tosa Village, Ruby Tap.  I cannot begin to express to you how much I love this place and their concept.  They have featured wine on tap that customers can choose from, but if you’re not feeling that you can also opt to check out the WINE VENDING MACHINE!
winevending
You open a tab at the bar which is connected to a card they give you.  You take the wine card and go over to the machine and pick out the wine of your choice and then decide if you want a taste, a 3 oz pour or a 6 oz pour.  Genius!  They have a Thanksgiving day wine pairing event a few days before turkey day that I plan on going back for :-)
rubytapAfter drill on Saturday, I went out for pizza with 3 of my favorite gals: My mom, sister and Madelyn.  My mom bought me the Runner’s World cookbook I have been lusting over and graciously paid for our dinner and my sister got me a very cool Wisconsin necklace I had pinned on one of my boards MONTHS ago!  I love that girl and the way she thinks outside the box.
 onwi
On Monday, I did something crazy:  I auditioned to be an instructor at the Barre Bee Fit opening in Milwaukee early December.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get it BUT she did say that I had a very solid audition and that my form and my familiarity with barre was a plus.  She could only take on so many instructors this first round and strongly encouraged me to audition again in a few months when they have more openings.  Either way, I’m just thrilled to see Barre finally coming to Milwaukee.  After my audition, Larry and I ventured up to Lambeau Field for The Packers vs. Bears game.  It was our first time going to a game together.  We had a lot of fun!  I just wish for my sake, that the game would’ve ended differently :-)
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There’s #12-the second man of my dreams, right before he got sacked and taken out of the game :-/
Thanks for letting me play catch up!  I’m off to go work on some art projects for Madelyn’s class :-) Have a great night!

Ravin’

Hi Friends!  We made it Wednesday :-)
So last night, I ventured outside my comfort zone and decided to try out another cardio class at my gym, besides Zumba.
where-the-magic-happensMagic Indeed.  I looked at the schedule, and found that Body Combat would be the best fit for my night.  Les Mills Body pump is actually one of my favorite strength training workouts so I was really excited to try out this workout of theirs.  When I got to the gym to sign up for class, I found that it had been replaced with Turbo Kick and that Body Combat was being offered on Wednesdays instead.  I debated on whether or not I should sign up for Turbo kick or just do some cardio and weights on my own.  Since I was already there and had left my headphones at home, I decided to just take the class.
As I walked through the door, the teacher grabbed my attendance slip and said, “grab a set of lights.”  I had assumed she meant light weights.  Oh no.  I completely heard her correctly.  Lights.  Finger lights to be exact.
fingerlights
As soon as I put these lights on my fingers, I knew I was in for a real treat :-) She welcomed everyone to class and told us what to expect.  Since it was a newer class, she told us that she wouldn’t be adding in any “turbo drills”.  Something clicked in my head and I knew that this class was going to be like my Turbo Fire DVDs.  The teacher said that if we came to the Saturday class, we could expect some turbo drills by them ;-)
She turned the lights off and we used what light came in through the windows from the gym and our fun finger lights.  The class was AWESOME!  A lot of the moves/combinations were similar to what I had done with Turbo Fire, so I wasn’t completely lost, but if you are new to this class, I suggest moving up to the front in order to see better.  When I did manage to get completely lost, I just kept moving-jumping, doing kicks and punches etc.  The music kept me going and kept my energy way up.  After 45 minutes of some serious cardio, we ended with a cool down and an amazing core session.  My stomach hurts today-in a good way of course :-)  If your gym offers a turbo kick class, I highly recommend trying it out.
Turbo Eats!
Tonight was a “let’s eat out” kind of night.  I’m proud to say that these are very rare in our house during the week.  I usually do a good job of meal planning & prep for the week.  If I don’t end up making dinner, hubs usually takes over.  But tonight we both threw in the towel.  I had to make a pit stop at target and scrounge up some things for Madelyn’s Halloween costume for school tomorrow.  We completely skipped the whole lets get dressed up for Halloween thing this year and I got a reminder at daycare on Tuesday that Thursday kids are allowed to wear costumes.  I couldn’t let her be the only kid at school without a costume, so I came up with kind of something.  Stay tuned for that.
So dinner.  I made a stop at Chipotle on my way back home because I heard rumors that they were now serving Sofritas (tofu) and I really wanted to try it.
sofritas
Ahhh-mazing!  Seriously ate every single last bite of that bowl.  It has a little bit more of a kick to it than the chicken and is the most flavorful tofu I’ve ever had.  I had no idea tofu could taste like this.  I could see this becoming a regular choice for my burrito bowls :-)
sofritasbowl
Yum!  I’m off to catch up on some reading!  I hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween!  Our neighborhood is doing trick-or-treat tomorrow, but I think we got exempt from it because we live on a semi-busy street with no sidewalks. We’ll find out tomorrow!  The little things you have to find out when moving into a new house :-)
What’s your favorite halloween candy? I’m a Reece’s pumpkin shape girl all the way!