Fitness, Food and Photography

Follow me on my road to fitness… Because it's all about the journey, not the destination.

Weekend Recap: Ice Storm and Warm Weather

We woke up to an ice storm on Friday morning.  The freezing rain produced icy conditions which prevented us from leaving the house.  Schools were closed and with my hill of a driveway, there was no way I could get to work  (Yay!!)

the grill

Doesn’t the 4Runner look mean with icicles hanging off it?

icicles

So we stayed in our pajamas most of the day!!  The kids had fun playing with play doh ….  (why does that stuff have to make such a MESS!?!)

playdoh

While I made a crockpot of White Chicken Chili for dinner.

Yum!

My recipe is adapted from a local restaurant.  But I apparently can’t ever leave an original recipe alone.  All my recipes look like this …  marked up.

chili recipe

And the end result ….  YUM!!!

bowl of chili

I also took the day off as an opportunity to get in a really good treadmill workout while watching The Biggest Loser.

treadmill

 

fog

Hubby made me eggs for breakfast ….

eggs

Breakfast

The temperature rose quickly and melted all the ice so we were no longer stuck inside.  Which was great since we had plans to go out for my Aunt’s birthday.

L with Gregg

We went to Aubrey’s, which is a great local restaurant.  In fact, the same people own Aubrey’s that own Sunspot, which is another one of my favorites.  So when I saw Salmon BLT on the menu, I sure hoped it was exactly like the one at Sunspot.  If you’ll remember, Hubby and I ate there on New Years Eve before our concert.

salmon blt

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same.  While the salmon was tasty, I was disappointed in the bread.  If I pay $12 for a sandwich at a restaurant, I expect it to not be on the same bread I can buy at the grocery store.

But the sweet potato fries were really good.  (That’s something they don’t have at the Sunspot)!

salmon 2

The kids had fun, and we discovered how much my daughter LOVES honey mustard.  She was dipping fries in honey mustard and sucking it off.  LOL  She may as well have just drank it from the ramekin.

laughing

To celebrate my Aunt’s birthday, I made Magic Cookie Bars.

Nothing special about them, really.  I just went through a cookbook til I found a recipe with ingredients I had on hand.

Magic Cookie Bars

Butter, graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.  That’s all.  Nothing healthy about it.

playing together 1

My kids were so good to play together all weekend.  Makes for a happy Mommy!!  🙂

kids 2

I’ll leave you with a picture of my lunch on Sunday.

wrap1

Egg Wrap.  Kinda like an egg salad but without the mayo!  YUM!!

egg wrap 2

Sunday was a super lazy day.  But that’s how I like them!!

What a wonderful, unexpected 3-day weekend.  I could seriously get used to those!  Back to the grind on Monday.  😦

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Weekend Recap: Sleepover and Meatloaf

Why do weekends always seem to go by so quickly???  Too quickly.

I discovered something yummy this weekend.  Probably something I shouldn’t have discovered.  But I’ll share it with you anyways.  Well, it’s more like a confession of sorts.  I dunked these Anna’s Thins into my coffee and it was really yummy!  When I was a kid, I used to dunk cookies in milk.  But I don’t drink milk anymore.  So I really haven’t dunked anything in a long time.  I don’t know what possessed me to dunk the cookie in my coffee, but oh what a treat it was!!  Now I can’t buy those Anna’s cookies anymore.  🙂

coffee and cookies

On Saturday night, one of Luke’s friends was spending the night.  Normally we do a pizza for a sleepover, but instead I decided to do Meatloaf.  But this special meatloaf tastes like a pizza!!

Here’s a picture of the 12-year old recipe.  When we worked at First Union Securities together back in the day, my friend Chris wrote down this recipe for me.  When I got it out on Saturday night, I realized it had been a long time since I spoke to her.  So I texted her just to say hi.  We worked side by side for 11 years up til last year. And I’ve hardly talked to her this past year. It’s sad when close friends drift apart.

recipe

In case you can’t read that, here’s the recipe:

Pizza Meatloaf

Ingredients:
1 pkg Lipton Onion Soup Mix  (optional) – I didn’t have this on hand so instead I used about 2 tsps each of Oregano, Basil and Garlic Powder.
2 pounds ground beef  (I used Laura’s Lean – 94% lean)
1 -1/2 cups of bread crumbs (mine were Italian flavored by Kroger brand)
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped peppers (combination of green and red)
1 cup pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Combine all ingredients except 1/2 the sauce and 1/2 the cheese
Shape into loaf pan.  Top with remaining sauce.  Then bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake another 10 minutes.  Then let it stand for 10 minutes after you take it out.
You almost can’t mess it up.  I think it would be good with olives or mushrooms in there too (or anything else you might put on top of a pizza).

dinner

Thankfully my daughter was feeling a bit better this weekend.  She loved her some comfort food – meatloaf, mashed potatoes and cornbread!!

There were veggies too …. broccoli and cauliflower, just none made it onto her plate.

family plus one

The boys LOVED it!!!!  They cleaned their plates, even the broccoli and cauliflower.

So remember all those home remedies I told you about in my last post?  Well, they didn’t work on Saturday night.  She woke up crying about 5 times between midnight and 3:30am.  Finally at 3:30am, I took her downstairs and stayed up with her.  It was the perfect opportunity to catch up on Revenge.  I’d heard a lot of people talking about this show, but I didn’t start it last year when it came out and now it’s in the Second season.  But guess what?!?  Season One is on Netflix!!  If you have Netflix, I highly recommend you start from Episode 1.  It is SUCH a good show!!  I am totally hooked!  I’m almost done with the first season.  Now I need to figure out how to catch up on Season 2.

salmon salad

Salmon Spinach Salad

So Sunday was more or less a rest day.  I still managed to get some cleaning done.  And some laundry.  Nothing too crazy.  Bathrooms require more energy than I had yesterday so those did not get done.

I did enjoy a yummy lunch with my leftover salmon.  I threw it on a bed of spinach with some mushrooms, carrots, grape tomatoes, red peppers, feta cheese and jalapenos, topped with sriracha sauce (of course).  It was delicious!

After a nice nap, I bundled up the babe and took her for a walk in the neighborhood.

bundled up for walk

Yeah, she doesn’t look sick, does she???

And when we got back, we all enjoyed some warm beverages.  Hot chocolate for the kids and hot tea for me.  With marshmallows of course!  🙂

warm drinks

Questions of the Day:  1) What food do you serve at sleepovers??   2) Have you watched Revenge?   3) And what is your favorite hot beverage??

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Healthy Brownies with Zucchini

These were a huge hit at my party on Saturday.  And an even bigger hit with my kids!!  I’m thrilled, of course, that I found a way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies to my unsuspecting children.

 

Healthy Brownies with Zucchini

Adapted from Spark People

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 small bananas, mashed

1 cup brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1-1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups finely shredded zucchini

2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 pan.

In large bowl, mix together the applesauce, bananas, sugar, vanilla and cocoa.  Mix well.  Then add baking soda, salt, and zucchini.  Turn mixer on high to make sure it is thoroughly combined.  Slowly add flour.  Spread evenly into pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

made with love

 

YUM!!  Makes 24 servings.  Kid-approved.  And at only 122 calories per serving, it’s free of guilt.

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Weekend Recap: Shopping and Pumpkin Carving

How is it the last weekend in October and I haven’t bought a pumpkin yet?!?!?  October totally got away from me.  I can’t believe Halloween is a few short days away.

The hubs was out of town on Saturday so it was just me and the kids.  We had such a fun day!!  First, we went to pick out a pumpkin.

My 7-year old wanted the biggest one he could find.  And then he insisted on carrying it himself.

After the pumpkin patch, we went to Party City to buy him a Halloween costume.  That place was crazy.  (Hence no pics).  Thankfully he knew exactly what he wanted so we walked in, got it and left.

From there, we went to World Market.  I hardly ever shop here, so I forget how cool this store is.  Check out this display they had:

shipyard pumpkin head

How many should I buy??

If you are looking for Shipyard Pumpkinhead, World Market has it!!  I was slightly afraid I wouldn’t see anymore of it after checking the local craft beer store on Friday.  They were out.  The Shipyard website says the closest place for me to find it is 90 miles away.  So I was really surprised when I happened upon this huge display.  I am proud to say – I only bought ONE 6-pack!  I don’t need to stock up on beer.  If it’s in the house, I’ll drink it.

The kids had fun looking at all the toys and candy in the store.

my purchases

I love anything pumpkin, so I couldn’t resist buying this pumpkin gnocchi and pasta sauce.  (I haven’t tried it yet, though.  I’ll let you know if it’s any good.)  And normally, I like to wait til after Thanksgiving for anything Christmas-related, but I simply had to have the red velvet cake coffee!!  Mmmmm.

Not sure what that move is … apparently Spiderman knows karate??

As soon as we got home, he had to try on his costume!  In fact, he’s worn it pretty much the whole weekend.  He’s already run two holes in the mask.  And then we had to have an entire discussion about why I won’t buy him another one.

HIIT Workout of the Day

While the little one was napping, I made the 7-year old do my workout with me.  I scaled it down a little for him.  While I was doing box jumps, he was doing high knee jumps.  While I was doing ball slams, he was doing jumping jacks.  He did awesome.  I was impressed.

Sunday was a total ‘blah’ day.  It was cold and dreary out, which pretty much screwed up our original plans.  So we stayed in.  The 7-year old’s favorite game is Sorry.  We played multiple rounds, all of which I lost.

The highlight of the day was cutting up the pumpkin we bought!  (And, if I’m cutting a pumpkin, it only seems appropriate to enjoy some pumpkin beer while doing so).

I purchased one of those pumpkin carving kits.  You know, the kind with the stickers and you just cut around them.  Made it so easy.

Confession time:  This is the first pumpkin I’ve ever carved!  I know – that’s crazy.  I’ve just never been really into it because of the gutting that has to happen first.  It’s all slimy in there.  And I really don’t like getting crap under my fingernails.  But this year, I sucked it up.  Why?  Because I wanted roasted pumpkin seeds!!!  Yum!!!  (Pictures and recipe coming later).

Before

The pictures are a bit deceiving … makes it look like they actually helped.  lol

After

Sorry for the poor quality pics – these were all taken on my phone.

Nothing better than a big pot of soup on a cold rainy day!

This soup was so easy to throw together.  I’ll give you the recipe, but it’s different every time.  On Friday night we grilled extra chicken so there was left over cooked chicken, which made it even easier!  I found a leftover corn on the cob in the fridge too, so I cut off the corn and threw it in there.

KT’s DUMP SOUP

1 can chicken broth

1 can great northern beans

1 can black beans

1 can corn

2 cans diced tomatoes with jalapenos

1 lb chicken, cooked and choppped

diced carrots (optional)

2 large handfuls of kale

2 cloves of fresh garlic

about 2 Tbsp of chili powder

That’s it.  Just dump it all in a big pot (hence the name, dump soup).  Simmer on medium for about 30 minutes, then turn in on low until you are ready to serve.  Top with cheese and sour cream, and jalapenos if you want!  🙂

There’s so much leftover, we’ll be eating on it for days.  (which is fine – usually tastes better the second day anyways).

 

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Quick and Easy Turkey Chili

The fridge was bare, I had no idea what to make for dinner.  I was perusing Pinterest for some inspiration.  It was drizzly outside so Chili caught my eye.

I just happened to have all the ingredients.  Score!  It turned out beautifully.  So quick.  So easy.  And very yummy!  Slam dunk!!

turkey chili

quick turkey chili

simmering on the stove

turkey chili topped with turkey pepperoni, cheese and sprouts

 

Quick and Easy Turkey Chili,  adapted from this recipe.  (I didn’t use any oil, I used slightly different spices, and I added tomato paste to thicken it up)

1 lb ground turkey

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 can chicken broth

1 can black beans, drained

1 can light red kidney beans, drained

1 can diced tomatoes with jalapenos

1 can yellow corn

1 small can tomato paste

Instructions:

1) In skillet, brown the turkey til it’s done, adding spices and fresh garlic.

2) In large pot on the stove, pour in the chicken broth, beans, tomatoes and corn.  Simmer on med-high heat while the turkey is cooking.  Once the turkey is done, pour into pot, stir, and simmer for 5-10 more mintues.  Add in the tomato paste if you like your chili a bit thicker.

This was so easy, it was done in less than 20 minutes!

Enjoy!!

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Cucumber Salad

cucumber salad

I was in the mood for a good summery salad.  Nothing says ‘summer’ like cucumbers and tomatoes.  Mmmmm.

cucumber salad

Ingredients

cucumber salad

Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers, chopped

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup olives

1/3 cup feta cheese

3 tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette

Toss all ingredients together.  Chill and serve.

cucumber salad

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Nutella Cookie Bites

While browsing my favorite site, Pinterest, I came across a quick and easy recipe for 4-ingredient cookies here.  My son absolutely loves the taste of Nutella.  I try to use it sparingly since it really doesn’t have much nutritional value.  But after having a stellar week at school, I thought he deserved some homemade cookies.  Time to break out a new recipe!!

Nutella Cookie Bites

1 cup Nutella (or Kroger brand hazelnut spread like I used)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup AP flour

1 egg

Blend all ingredients til smooth.  Shape 1″ balls.  Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

Doesn’t get much easier than that.

nutella cookies

In an effort to keep them bite-size, I used a mini-muffin pan.

nutella cookies

nutella cookie bites

YUM!!

nutella cookie bites

Serve and enjoy!!!   They were really good warm.  (Even better with a spoonful of peanut butter on top!)  🙂

Two-year old approved, too!

Silly girl

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Kale Protein Shake Recipe

 

kale protein shake

My hubby and I have been making protein shakes for breakfast for about the last 6 months.  We started out putting Spinach in them, which is great.  I love spinach.  But have you heard about the health benefits of kale?  It is the most nutrient dense of all the veggies!!  It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.  Why wouldn’t you want to start your day with that?

One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 180% of your recommended daily requirement of Vitamin A, 200% of Vitamin C, and 1,020% of Vitamin K, according to WebMD .

Carotenoids and flavonoids are the antioxidants that have been are touted with reducing your risk of cancer.  There are over 45 different flavonoids in kale.  In addition to the antioxidants and the anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates, there are also anti-inflammatory nutrients.  It will turn the ordinary protein shake into a powerhouse breakfast!!

So enough about kale, let’s get to the recipe ….

2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I prefer the cookies and cream flavor)

1 Tbsp ground flax seeds

1 Tbsp PB2 (optional)

1/2 banana (optional)

1 cup frozen blueberries (or other fruit of your choice)

2 cups kale  (YES!)

about 1 cup water

about 1 cup ice, or enough to get it to your desired consistency

Throw all the ingredients in the blender and blend til smooth.

Makes 2 servings.

ingredients

I think frozen blueberries are best because they change the color of the shake to a brown-ish purple.  Especially, if you are trying to sneak the kale in on your unsuspecting spouse.  If you don’t mind the green color, frozen strawberries work well too.  Probably any frozen fruit would be good, but I try to stay away from those that are high on the glycemic index such as mangoes or pineapples.  Don’t get me wrong, I love mangoes and pineapples.  I have them occassionally.

frozen bananas

Quick tip on bananas —  If you have some on your counter that are about to get brown, just peel them and throw them in the freezer.  Being frozen actually helps the consistency of the shake.

Bananas are also high on the glycemic index, meaning they create a spike in your blood sugar levels.  We don’t do bananas every day, but if we do, we limit it to 1/2 a banana per 2-shake recipe.

Two secret ingredients.  PB2 adds that PB flavor without all the fat and calories.  And flaxseeds give you the Omega-3s you need.  I could probably write a whole post on Flaxseeds too.  Love these things!

kale protein shake

You could probably throw in any veggie.  Once it gets blended, you don’t even know it’s there.  In fact, my hubby slipped eggplant in there and I didn’t even know it.

Blend and enjoy!!  🙂

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Eggplant and Kale Lasagna

I’ve actually never bought an eggplant before.  I don’t know why not. They are such pretty vegetables.

eggplant

I found a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan, but I was lacking a few of the ingredients and I also wanted to add some kale.  I always take recipes as suggestions anyways.  And you can take this as a suggestion too.  In fact, if you don’t have kale, fresh spinach would work great!!  And if you wanted to make it more like a normal lasagna, you can add the usual layer of cottage cheese mixture.  I personally don’t care for cottage cheese so that’s why it’s absent in this dish.

You’ll notice there aren’t any measurements in my recipe.  That’s because it’s totally up to you.  If you want more cheese, add more cheese.  If you don’t like kale as much as I do, then don’t add as much.

Eggplant and Kale Lasagna

2 large eggplants

kale

tomato sauce (I used Prego Heart Smart traditional)

parmesan cheese

mozzarella cheese

garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  We’re going to roast the eggplant first.  After skinning it, cut in 1/4″ slices and lay on sprayed cookie sheet.  (They will stick if not properly sprayed).  Should take about 15 minutes, but keep an eye on them.

roasted eggplant on a pan

When you get the roasted eggplant out of the oven, turn the oven down to 350 degrees.  Now we’re going to start assembling the lasagna.  First, pour about a cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Then arrange a layer of eggplant over it, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and garlic powder.

how to make eggplant lasagna

Then top with kale and mozzarella cheese.

how to make eggplant lasagna

Repeat the layers again until you’ve used all the ingredients and filled up the casserole dish.  (I had 3 layers of eggplant and 2 layers of kale).  Top with more cheese.

how to make eggplant lasagna

Bake in 350 degree oven for around 30 minutes.  But watch it, I overdid it just a little.

eggplant and kale lasagna

eggplant and kale lasagna

Serve with white wine.

And as you can see on my last WIAW post, it makes great leftovers!!  Enjoy!!

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Energy Bites

Looking for a pre-workout snack?  This is one of our favorites….

image

A few simple ingredients.  You can easily substitute the PB for almond butter or sunbutter. You could even substitute the butterscotch chips for peanut butter chips, craisins or other dried fruit.  There are so many options with this recipe.  I don’t think you could screw them up.

image

Mix all the dry ingredients first before adding the peanut butter and honey.

image

An ice cream scooper works really well, but makes it more of a ‘dome’ shape than a ball.  But you can make it any way you like.

image

To give credit where credit is due, I adapted my recipe from Gimme Some Oven and Smashed Peas and Carrots.  (Their pictures are prettier than mine too.  My pics were from my phone).

And to give even more credit, it’s usually my hubby that makes these neat little creations for us.  They are so yummy!!

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