Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

today was a busy day! luckily as i write this at 10pm, it's really kind of 9pm because it's daylight savings! i love fall back because we get an hour of sleep. yay!

so, E and i went to see EA and RJ and their costumes before they headed to yet another halloween party (those kids are busy!) EA was nancy drew (which i think is so awesome! thanks to emma roberts for making nancy drew cool again. i loved her books when i was younger). notice the magnifing glass and nancy drew's first book "the secret of the old clock."

RJ was a secret service agent. he looked so cool with his bluetooth, sunglasses, and gun!

he even had a badge

E also brought them glow in the dark alien t-shirts from roswell, nm.

while the kids were getting dressed, E played a star wars video game and drank a beer.
life is good, right E?

on the way out, K gave us a jack-o-lantern apple pie. thanks K, you rock!

E and i got home, fed the dogs and then went to hide out at my parents house. see, dignan is a barker, so we turn all the lights out at our house and go and hide out somewhere else for the evening to avoid trick-or-treaters. mom and dad live on a farm way up on top of a hill above a development and don't get any trick-or-treaters. we took dignan and roxy and hung out there.

roxy's mom molly and her sister lucy live at mom and dad's. here is molly sleeping under the table.

mom and i started to make dinner. but first we made drinks. the boys had beer . . .

while the girls had orange martinis (vodka, triple sec, and a cherry)

dad came home from spring meadow farms (he helps out there part time giving school tours to pre-school and elementary school kids as "farmer wayne") with his face painted with a tractor.

mom and i nibbled on some manchego cheese (one of my favs) while we made dinner.

dinner was mustard and tarragon chicken with roasted butternut squash risotto. i found it out was mom's first time having risotto. let's just say she realized what she's been missing.

i stirred the risotto while mom served as sous chef. she shredded cheese, made drinks, checked the chicken, and most importantly, kept me company:)

see dignan in the back keeping watch. he always keeps my company by "guarding" the kitchen.

he also "protects" the floor from any food threatening to drop on it. such a good boy. dad caught up on good clean fun eating posts while mom and i finished up dinner. he's one of my biggest fans:)

dinner was super yummy. very fall-like. it really hit the spot.
we served it on mom's autumnal corn plates.

after dinner, we played a little "last word" while we waited for dinner to settle and our tummy's to prepare for apple pie. fun game. (i won the game by the way. go me!)

finally we were ready - presenting apple pie a la mode

uh oh, dad's getting sleepy

so is roxy. it's time to go home.

i hope everyone had a wonderful halloween. thanks to K for the pie and mom and dad for harboring some trick-or-treater fugitives. love you all!

don't forget to turn back your clocks and enjoy your extra hour in bed. i know i will. sleep is on of my top five favorite things. seriously!

Mustard Tarragon Chicken
(serves 4)

4 chicken breasts
3 tbs butter
3 tbs dijon mustard
1 tsp dried tarragon

preheat oven to 350.

place chicken in greased baking dish. meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan. add mustard and tarragon and whisk till smooth. spoon half of mustard mixture over chicken.

bake for 20-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through. spoon more sauce over chicken just before serving.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
(makes 4 main course or 6 side dish servings)

5 cups chicken stock
4 tbs olive oil, divided
1 small 1-2 lb butternut squash
3 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups uncooked arborio rice
1/2 cups white wine
1/2 cups grated parmesan

bring broth to a boil over medium heat. reduce to med low and keep warm.

preheat oven to 375. peel and cube butternut squash. place in greased baking dish and toss with 1 tbs olive oil, salt, and pepper. roast for 15-20 minutes until fork tender and staring to brown in edges.

add remaining 2 tbs olive oil to pot and saute onions until transparent. add garlic and thyme and cook another minute. add rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly until completely coated in oil and starting to turn translucent.

add wine and stir until almost all liquid has been absorbed. add 1 cup of warm chicken stock and stir constantly until almost all liquid has been absorbed. continue adding 1 cup of liquid at a time and cooking (while stirring) until nearly absorbed. you may not need all of the chicken stock but it will take between 20-30 mins. test rice to see if it is finished. it should be firm but not crunchy.

finally add squash and any liquid back to the pot and stir in salt and pepper to taste and parmesan cheese.

serve immediately. garnish with additional parmesan cheese if desired.

Saturday Surprise

E went to fix something at his mom's house and when he returned, he came bearing presents! yay!

he got be a belated birthday gift. something i mentioned a while ago and he remembered. i love belated gifts, you aren't expecting them.

it's a reversible double burner griddle from crate and barrel. i have been making pancakes one at a time in a skillet. now i can make a bunch at once. plus, it's a grill on the other side!

griddle side

grill side

of course we had to try it out right away. E make some sausage and i made some masked potato pancakes. yum!

it worked perfectly, and the potato pancakes were yummy!
thanks baby:)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Comfort Food

after cooking all sorts of comfort foods today for a client (bbq baby back ribs, chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes, apple crisp, roasted chicken, among other things), i decided tonight would be a comfort food night for me and E.

i really never have mashed potatoes. it's just not something i crave or take the time to make usually, but after making them today, i decided i wanted some - with roasted garlic! i paired them with some rotisserie chicken and a salad. i know, it's weird, but salad with a nice balsamic vinaigrette dressing (ooh and feta cheese!) is comfort food to me.

finally, the most comforting thing, a heating pad on my back (for some reason i feel like i pulled something in my lower back:( and a glass of wine - okay, maybe 2;)

ahhh, it's friday and life is good!

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
(serves 4)

4 yukon gold potatoes
1 head of garlic
2% milk
butter (i used olivio spreadable butter with olive oil)

cut top off garlic, drizzle with oilve oil and wrap in aluminum foil. roast at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes into bite sized pieces. place in pot and add just enough water to cover potatoes. boil until fork tender. drain and use ricer or potato masher to mash (i use a ricer because it makes the potaotes so light and fluffy and wonderful). add roasted garlic to masher or ricer. add about a tbs of butter and a couple tbs of milk until you reach the right creamy consistency.


Skipping Lunch

i know a lot of people skip breakfast because they are short on time or just pain don't like it. i am not one of those people. i cannot function without breakfast. i usually have a green monster with some protein powder or cereal with fruit. i do, however, have trouble with lunch.

on days when i am cooking, i get so wrapped up in the orchestra of everything that i forget to eat. i usually pack a snack (like a granola bar or protein bar) to eat quickly if i get really hungry and a piece of fruit (like an apple or a banana) to eat in the car on my way home. this usually tides me over until i can eat some lunch around 1 or 2 pm. i do have to be careful though because i tend to get migraines if i go too long between meals.

today, i was cooking up a storm and became crazy hungry at 11am. i scarfed down a key lime yogurt, some natural tostillos chips and a huge glass of water. that worked to tide me over until now and i realize it's almost 4pm and i still haven't eaten lunch. oops. see what i mean? i forget to eat lunch sometimes. when i'm not cooking i seem to be hungry all the time. i guess it's weird that when i am around food and cooking delicious looking meals i'm not hungry.

oatmeal squares - i like lots of milk in my cereal

so, now it's 4pm and i don't want a big meal so it's some cereal for me and a green monster since i didn't have one for breakfast.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maryland Blue Crabs

today i was all over the place! i started out doing athletic yoga (also known as yoga with weights). this is my new favorite yoga class taught by my hands down favorite yoga instructor, KDubs. she is awesome and the class always challenges me. i get all the great flexibility and centering benefits of yoga with lots of strength benefits from using weight bars and holding poses longer. i love it! afterwords i had a stretch and mash session. it was awesome. KDubs has done mini demos in class before but this was better! she basically walks on you and massages you with her feet. she is supported with a walker so her whole weight isn't on you. it feels amazing! she mixes up dynamic stretching with the mashing massage and i felt so limber, relaxed, and energized all at the same time. it's great for those training hard for a marathon, triathlon, or just those of you who train hard. if you live in the baltimore area, set up a session with her - you will not be disappointed. i promise! then click on assisted athletic stretch.

after yoga, i had just enough time to dash home, make a smoothie (creamsicle - yum!) and head to the MAC for boxing. whew! after some kicking-centric boxing, i raced home, showered, threw together some lunch (leftover chicken coconut curry and salad with balsamic vinaigrette) and headed to spring meadow farms to work on their website.

everything looks so pretty there. they do fall festival activities every weekend in october. it's fun for kids of all ages.

plus there are tons of pumpkins, gourds, squash, apples, and halloween decorations.

the mums are in full bloom too

 after a long day, i had a wonderful surprise. a good deed if you will was done and E and i benefited from it. S, owner of the most fabulous farm stand/market/nursery/pumpkin patch/christmas tree place this side of the mississippi, gave me 2 huge steamed crabs. thank you, thank you, thank you!

i rushed home, E prepared the table,
 (you have to have newspaper)

i assembled some veggies and dip

E got a beer (essential with crabs)

and we went to work picking out lumps of fresh, fabulous, crabmeat

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Late Night Snack

i was still hungry around 8:30 after dinner,so i decided to have one of my favorite late night snacks.

whole wheat toast with nutella

no joke this is ridiculously good. it's obviously not super good for you but i feel a little better putting it on whole wheat no sugar-added bread. for some reason, i like using the heel of the bread with my nutella. not sure why. when you spread the chocolate-hazelnut goodness onto the warm toast, the nutella melts ever so slightly and make it even more heavenly. seriously, if you have never tried nutella, what is wrong with you? try it, try it as soon as humanly possible:)

this is good bread. i really like ezekiel bread but this is a close second. nature's own 100% whole grain sugar free bread. this bread doesn't have any sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, or any kind of fake sugar substitute either. yet, somehow it manages to be good. who knew, things can be good without sugar! hooray!

Quick Dinner

wendesdays E has class (he is getting his master's at hopkins - yeah, he's a smarty pants). so i always do something easy on wednesday nights for dinner. this week i got fancy, no cereal for me tonight!

i made a super easy tomato and feta halibut with tomato quinoa.

it doesn't look very pretty, but it was yummy. i just took a slice of halibut, put some tomato sauce on top and some crumbled feta on top of that. 10 mins in the toaster oven on 400 and it was done. i put it on top of some quinoa mixed with tomato sauce too. super fast, easy, and good.

in other news, my momma had her first green monster today. she liked it! so much so, she is going to try to get dad hooked too. ahh, spreading the green goodness one person at a time:)

my momma, brand new green monster consumer 
(note: this picture of her was not taken today but she is so 
pretty and wonderful, i had to post a pic of her) 

oh, i also had another glo bar. today it was chocolate peppy-mint. yum! i think i liked the chocolate brownie bomb better but this was still good. very similar but it had a hint of mint in it.

so now i'm snuggled on the couch waiting for E to get home in my comfy robe, a dark chocolate in hand and bones on the tv. i'm a happy girl. life is good!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Special Delivery

i was super excited to get home from the gym today to see a package at my front door. my oh she glows delivery arrived today! i have been following angela on her blog for a while now and finally ordered some of her bars to try.

of course i immediately tried one. i chose the coconut carob brownie bomb. YUM!

it was really good. chewy and sweet but not too sweet. i liked the subtle coconut flavor. usually coconut is very overwheling but this had just enough coconut flavor. i also liked the texture of the rice cereal in there and it had just enough chocolate taste too.

i seriously can't wait to try the other flavors. i got a group of 10 bars two of each of the following flavors: chunky peanut butter, dark chocolate chia seed, chocolate peppy-mint, chocolate carob brownie bomb, and chunky peanut butter n' chocolate. i'll keep you posted as to how they all taste.

tonight i felt like breakfast for dinner. i tried something new tonight and it turned out really well. it was a twist on eggs benedict (my favorite but not so good for you with all the hollindaise sauce). i layered a grilled portabello mushroom, topped it with some cheese, some canadian bacon and scrambled eggs. on the side i did an ina garten inspired fruit salad.

strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries tossed together with a mixture of fage greek yogurt, 1 tbs limoncello and 1 tsp agave. it looks kind of weird in the picture but it was so good. yum!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chicken Curry

it's been a long time since we have had curry and tonight, i felt in the mood for it. i looked around in my freezer and pantry for items i could put into a chicken curry. i like coconut curry so i pulled out reduced fat coconut milk and had some leftover curry paste in the fridge.

i found some edamame in the freezer and some garbanzo beans in the pantry. i threw in some onions and carrots and voila - chicken coconut curry. i used quinoa instead of rice to make it even healthier. it was supper yummy and just spicy enough.

the only thing annoying about quinoa is it needs to be rinsed well before cooking. something on it makes it bitter if you skip this step. so, don't forget, rinse your quinoa!

Chicken Coconut Curry
(serves 4)

1 c uncooked quinoa
1 tbs olive oil
6 chicken tenderloins (or 3 chicken breasts) cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c shredded carrots
14.5 oz can garbanzo beans
1 c edamame, shelled
1 c reduced fat coconut milk
5 tbs curry paste

rinse quinoa well and cook according to package.

heat olive oil in large skillet on medium heat. saute onions and carrots for 3 mins. add chicken to pan and brown 2 minutes on each side. add edamame and beans. in small bowl, whisk together coconut milk and curry paste. add to pan. reduce heat and simmer, covered until chicken is cooked though (approximately 5 minutes).

serve chicken curry on top of cooked quinoa.

Empty Fridge

the worst thing about traveling is coming home to an empty fridge.

how sad does that look?! i am always so tired of eating out and just want to stay home. i finally got to the grocery store today and already feel better knowing i have healthy choices in the fridge and pantry.

just look at this empty vegetable drawer before!

ah, much better:)

after grocery shopping, mom and i had wegmans take home for lunch. i got roasted cauliflower, lime edamame succotash (yum!) and a barbecue rotisserie chicken leg. its was delicious.

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