Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Double Whammy

Now I'm really on a spontaneous high! Either that or it's the 2nd glass of wine talking. We just booked a trip to New Orleans over Memorial Day! YIPPIE! NOLA is my FAVORITE place in the states!! Mike and I went last year around the same time and had a blast! This has been an annual trip for me forever!!

Tonight I am thankful for tax refunds and spontaneity. I better get off the internet for now!

I'm a compulsive over planner

There I said it out loud. I'd love, more than anything in the world, to be a free-spirited, spontanous woman, but that fact is I agonize over the details of everything!

Mike and I have been planning a weekend in Chi for the past month or so, but he got sick, my bff from chi was here, mike had a fundraiser... all these things kept postponing our plans. So, we decided this is the weekend! No excuses! We plan to leave on Thursday so I can dance the night away at my all time FAV club. NEO!!! I am so flippin excited!!! I spent many a Thursday in my 20's at Neo, this was ESPECIALLY nice when I worked at Spiegel and my flex time schedule allowed me every other Friday off!! Sigh, those were the days.

Friday I will be seeing my fav dentist in the entire world, Dr. Simeoni and then getting my hair colored by my fav colorist in the entire world, Amalia. Next on the agenda Mike and I are going to hit Trader Joe's, my fav grocery store in the entire world and head over to Julie's condo to hang with a few of my greatest friends in the entire world.. Ok, so see... overplanning at work here.

I am happy to say though, that I made a little progress this evening. Mike and I wanted to stay in a hotel Thursday night for fun. I started obsessive compulsively scouring the internet for the best rates, location ect. Then I said, SCREW THIS and went to Price Line! Yep that's right, I put in my bid and let fate, or William Shatner, pick our hotel! After a few tweaks we ended up with the Double Tree Magnificant Mile for just $60. Score!

The plans are made! Brace yourself Chicago, I am reclaiming you for my own!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ravioli Vegetable Stack

Another recipe from Better Homes and Gardens this month that I made for Mike and myself this evening. I am posting my modified version, which is basically the original halved with a few tweaks

Ravioli Vegetable Stack

9oz package of Buitoni Spicy Beef Ravioli, found in the refrigerator section
1 zucchini
4 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup small fresh basil leaves torn into pieces (optional, but I LOVE fresh basil so this makes the recipe for me)
1/2 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cook ravioli according to package directions. Trim and slice lengthwise zucchini. Add zucchini to ravioli during the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain, but do not rinse.

2. Thinly slice tomatoes. In 1.5 quart square baking dish layer half the tomato slices. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle half the basil. Using tongs, layer half the ravioli and sprinkle half the cheese. Layer zucchini slices; drizzle 1 tablespoon oil. Layer remaining ravioli, basil, cheese, and tomato. Season with salt and ground black pepper.

3. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and begins to brown. To serve, cut in squares. Makes 2-3 servings.

I was so hungry, the picture was an afterthought,obviously. The dish was light, fresh and healthy! Another one for the books.

Another Friday Night Recipe

While grocery shopping Friday evening, I had on my list to pick up a soup I saw on yummydietfood.com I love Thai Kitchen products and since reading this post I've been craving Tom Kha Soup. After searching the pretty sad ethnic section at HyVee and then heading over the to organic/health market section, I was bummed to learn that they didn't carry it. I decided to take a stab at it myself.

Here's what I did:

1 can lite coconut milk
1 can of chicken broth
1 can of sliced water chestnuts
1 can of bamboo shoots
1 can of sliced baby corns
1/2 package of fresh sliced mushrooms
A few tablespoons of fresh cilantro chopped
1 package Thai Kitchen Bangkok Curry Noodle Soup
Lemon juice to taste(would have preferred lime, but did not have it)
Garlic Powder taste
1 tablespoon of soy sauce

I mixed all the of the ingredients minus the noodles in the soup, brought to a boil to make sure the shrooms cooked, stirred regularly, and reduced to low heat. I then broke up the noodles that I previously left out, threw them in and let cook for another 5 minutes or so.

All in all this was GREAT! It really hit the spot for me, I ate it for lunch both Saturday and Sunday. I already bought the ingredients to make this again in the next week or two. I'll keep mixing up the seasonings until I get it just right. I bought the Thai Kitchen Lemongrass Garlic noodle soup for next time.

O, and while writing this blog I visited the Thai Kitchen website and noticed they have homemade soup recipe suggestions! Maybe I'll borrow some of their ideas.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

An Early Start This Saturday

This morning Mike and I woke up around 8:45. Not so early...but usually on Saturday we lay around until 12,1,2,3 and then force ourselves to go to the gym. This is different when the weather is nice, but in the winter, I have little motivation to get up on the weekends.

This morning we were up and out of bed by 9:30. We decided to go grab a coffee and some breakfast. We ended up at Cafe Fresh in Moline. When we walked in I thought ok, this place is cute, but polished and shiny looking. I know, you are probably sick of hearing me say "In Chicago" but I miss the worn in places with tattered wood floors and paint chipping off the walls. I miss the character, sigh...but Cafe Fresh was almost there.

First things first, we ordered our coffees. I switched to green tea during the week, so coffee on the weekends is a special treat for me. I chose a skim latte and Mike a large coffee. I was a little dissappointed when our coffees came, I was looking forward a big comfy mug, but instead our drinks were served in white paper cups with a sleeve to keep from burning our hands. I removed the lid and thought, O well.

Next we ordered our breakfast. After looking over the menu of breakfast wraps, egg sandwiches, muffins, I chose a veggie breakfast wrap in a wheat tortilla and Mike a bagel sandwich with ham. Both of our selections were good, although Mike's bagel was pretty messy. The eggs were fried and when he bit down it squirted in his face. hahah. Mine was good, and I saved half my wrap for tomorrow.

Overall this place was cute and good. I don't know that I'll rush to go back anytime soon, but if you live in the area it's worth checking out.

O, then afterwards we shopped around a little and went to the gym. I got three miles and some weight lifting in!! Now, it's time for a nap!! How I love the weekend!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Black Bean Cakes

I was inspired to try a few recipes over the weekend. Friday evening I made black bean cakes that I found in the lastest issue of Better Homes and Gardens. These were good, and a refreshing change! I have already filed these in the mental recipe box for future making!

I even had a helper!

Ingredients ( I halfed this recipe. it made 2 servings, 2 cakes each)
1-1/2 cups prepared salsa
1 jalapeño pepper
2 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 8.5-oz. pkg. corn muffin mix
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. olive oil (I only used one)
1/2 cup dairy sour cream (I used fat free)
1/2 tsp. chili powder

1. In colander, drain 1/2 cup of the salsa. Seed and finely chop half of the jalapeño; thinly slice remaining half. In large bowl mash beans with vegetable masher or fork. Stir in muffin mix, drained salsa, 2-1/2 teaspoons chili powder, and chopped jalapeño.

2. In 12-inch skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add four 1/2-cup mounds bean mixture to skillet. Flatten mounds with spatula to 3-1/2-inch-round cakes. Cook 3 minutes each side until browned. Remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining oil and bean mixture.

3. In bowl combine sour cream and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Top cakes with remaining salsa, sliced jalapeño, and seasoned sour cream. Makes 4 (2-cake) servings.

I want to try some variations of this in the future, perhaps using a wheat flour instead of the corm muffin mix...and maybe incorporating a mango sauce!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What Kind Of A Blogger Am I?

I love surveys and questionnaires. I love filling them out and wondering what each of my answers means to the person on the other end, must be the marketer in me. This evening while reading the daily posts on one of the blogs I follow afterellen.com the post on Typealyzer had me eagerly clicking the link to their site. Typelizer will analyze the writing in ones blog or twitter and provide some insight on the bloggers personality, writing style ect. Imagine my excitment! It's as easy as 1.2.3 literally. Simply go to the site, enter your blog or any blog and there you have it, your analysis.

Here's what Typelyzer had to say about my blog:

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

Interesting huh! Even more interesting, I entered some of my fav blogs and several of them are also performers, hmmm, maybe we seek each other out!

At any rate, I don't know if this is how I am in the real world, but I like who I am in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our Big Buddy

Mike was able to capture Finn's nightly ritual on camera. I bought this bed for Dixie, but needless to say he's claimed it. He really underestimates his size!

O, and he had his bi-annual trip to the groomer yesterday where he got his spring shave. He looks so funny minus all the hair!

A few thoughts for the day

A blogger friend of mine posted these questions on her page. I figured I would post them on mine too, I love a quick survey!

Now you answer them!

1. Thought for the day: It's hump day!

2. Song of the moment: Everyone's At It - Lily Allen

3. Drink of the moment: Mint Green Tea with honey

4. Next thing you want to buy: Tickets to Vegas

5. Word of the week: Determined

6. Currently annoyed by: AIG

7. Currently reading? The New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

8. Last movie you watched? The Black Dahlia - and I feel asleep

Monday, March 23, 2009

Some Tasty New Treats

Yesterday while doing my regular grocery shopping I kept my eyes open for a special treat. When I got to the freezer section I stumbled upon a new line of light treats by Blue Bunny.

First to catch my eye were the Double Strawberry Aspen Frozen Yogurt Granola Bars

Creamy strawberry low fat frozen yogurt with a layer of strawberry fruit filling topped with crunchy granola crumbles covered in a vanilla yogurt coating.

Sounds good to me! They are fairly low in sugar, have a little bit of fiber and about 8 grams of fat, not bad! I almost went for these until I saw the Double Chocolate Sedona Frozen Yogurt Granola Sandwiches.

These are made with creamy chocolate low fat frozen yogurt with thick swirls of fudge sandwiched between two chewy honey oat granola wafers. These yummy treats are 5 grams of fat and 190 calories. A bonus, they also provide a little extra fiber(3 grams) and calcium.

Anything granola/graham cracker tasting with chocolate works for me! Mike and I both enjoyed these last night, and will be again shortly!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bomb Turkey Burgers and My BFF

This weekend my BFF Julie is in the QC visiting her family. She was able to clear her schedule this evening and come over for dinner, pina coladas and a screening of Twilight.

Mike and I knew we were going to make Turkey Burgers but wanted to spice them up a bit. I found this recipe online and it was awesome!! I omitted the onion powder and next time I would half the season salt but overall the burgers were fresh tasting with just the right kick!!

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 slices mozzarella cheese
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted

** Edited 3.24.09 - We made these again tonight. This time I omitted the onion powder again, just put a few pinches of season salt and garlic powder, and a little pepper. I enjoyed them even more this time. A little less seasoning brought out the other fresh ingrediants more.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil grate. Place the ground turkey, onion, cilantro, chipotle chile pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, and black pepper in a mixing bowl; mix well. Form into 4 patties.
Cook the hamburgers on the preheated grill until the turkey is no longer pink in the center, about 4 minutes per side. Place the mozzarella slices on the patties 2 minutes before they are ready. Serve on the toasted buns.

We had fries and a yummy twist on coleslaw that I, again, found in the Kraft food and amily mag.

The coleslaw was light and crispy with the apples. Also, the honey provides just the right amount of sweetness, much better than sugar in my opinion, and super easy to make!

What You Need!
3/4 cup MIRACLE WHIP Light Dressing (I used Hellmann's Light)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 bag (16 oz.) coleslaw blend
2 medium apples (preferably 1 red and 1 green), chopped.

MIX dressing and honey in large bowl.
ADD remaining ingredients; mix lightly.
REFRIGERATE at least 1 hour.

After dinner we indulged, and actually, I am still indulging as we speak, on yummy pina colodas. Mike and I brought some ingredients back from Mexico to recreate the fantastic drink we had while vacationing. We have been waiting for the right opportunity to make them! Tomorrow I will definitely be running this night off!

You can thank me later for sharing this recipe!!

2oz Calahua Creme de Coco

4 oz pineapple juice
3 oz rum
2 cups of ice

Blend and serve!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Flexitarianism and easy pleasing meatloaf

I'm not sure why I found the Spring Kraft Food and Family magazine so inspiring this round, but tonight I made not one, but two dishes featured in the mag.

Easy, Pleasing Meatloaf..what kind of a quasi vegetarian am I? I guess I need to re-classify myself. I think this means I am now a flexitarian or a vegetarian who sometimes eats meat. hahahah The recipe was super easy and as a new flexitarian I was excited to try a new twist on a dish I have not had since I was a kid.

easy pleasing meatloaf - i halfed this recipe and have plenty of leftovers

2lb lean ground beef (i used 96%)
1 pkg (6 oz.) Stove Top Stuffing for Chicken
1 cup water
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Kraft original BBQ sauce

Heat Oven to 375
Mix all ingrediants except 1/4 cup BBQ sauce

Shape meat mixture into a loaf in a 13x9 baking dish, top with remaining BBQ sauce
(I did not shape, too much meat touching, i cooked my loaf in a baking dish since I halfed the recipe I used what I would guess to be a 9x5" dish and cooked uncovered.)

Bake one hour until done.

Side Dish:
I planned on making red potatoes as a side but while flipping through the mag again, I realized I had the ingrediants to make Creamy Parmesan Mashed Potatoes. I figured what the hell, I ran a mile, did the stair-stepper for 30 minutes, lifted some weights AND walked the dog today... I'll give it a shot.

creamy parmesan mashed potatoes - again, i halfed this receipe

2lbs red potatoes cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
4 oz cream cheese ( i used light)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream (i used fat free)
3 tbsp Kraft grated parmesan cheese (i used fresh)
I added in some garlic powder

Place potatoes in large saucepan. Add broth;cover. Bring to a boil on high heat.
Simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes stirring after 8.
Uncover potatoes, simmer 5-6 minutes or until potatoes are tender and most of the broth is absorbed.

Add cream cheese, reduce heat to low. Mash potatoes slightly until cream cheese is melted. Add sour cream and parmesan, mash until potatoes are smooth or desired consistency and heated thoroughly.

I had seconds, and was pleasantly full afterwards which felt really good since I have not felt full in over a week. Mike is still under the weather. I'm hoping this meal will give him some energy, we are now on Day 6 of the plague.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Go Green!

This year me and my lovely sister, Mel celebrated St. Patty's Day by going to the parade and then a mini pub crawl. We laughed, we cried, we drank green beer, or rather, she did. I stuck to Guiness all day! Here are a few pictures from our day! Hopefully tomorrow I can squeeze a little more St Patty's fun in :) Don't forget to wear your green!

O, and I even got Dixie's hair done for the occasion.

Dinner For One Orange Chicken Bowl

Tonight while force-feeding Mike gatorade and popcicles I made dinner for myself. I found the recipe in the Spring issue of Kraft Food and Family that just came out.

I enjoyed my dinner and the beer I had with it...and even better my view of my hubby layed out on the couch day 4.

Orange Chicken Bowl

1lb boneless skinnless chicken breast cut into strips (I used organic and cubed it)
1/4 cup Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups frozen stir fry veggies
3 cups of cooked rice( I used minute brown rice)
1/4 cup of Planters cocktail peanuts

Heat large skillet on med/high heat. Add chicken and stir fry 5-7 minutes, or until done.

Stir in dressing and oj, bring to a boil. Add in veggies, cook an additional 5-7 minutes or until heated through, stir occassionally.

Serve over rice.

Simple, healthy and tasty!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's tough being two people

My poor sweetie was infected with the plague Friday after we worked out. We came home, had some dinner and within about a hour Mike was out. His tempeture sky-rocketed, body aches kicked in, headache, chest and cough. We went to bed pretty early and I hoped that he'd kick it by morning so we could enjoy the beautiful weather and our St. Patty's day celebration we'd planned all week. Well, I realize how wishful thinking that was now on Day 3 of the plague. Mike is pretty delirious, his fever is fluctuating from 100 - 102 and he's been talking to himself a bit today.

I keep disinfecting but I'm pretty sure that I infected myself today when I chugged a bottle of water...only to discover it was the bottle he'd been refilling since Friday...ugh.

Anyways, it's Sunday night and I am beat. Mike does so much around the house that it's been hard keeping up with it all myself. Mike does the dishes, takes care of the dogs for the most part, helps out with Kira's feedings, takes out the trash, gets me stuff (LOL) It's just been a lot for me to do all by myself.

I'm going to round up all the animals, tidy up a bit and get everyone to bed, hopefully catch up on some sleep and hope I get my sweetie back tomorrow.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Body For Life

My friend Julie has been using Body For Life as a base for her workouts and meals for some time now. She's sent me some info in the past, mostly about the workouts and I've picked up a few tips.

I've been tracking my daily food and exercise on My Daily Plate for the past couple of weeks and I have been trying to get my protein up and carbs down which is actually quite a challenge. I went to the Body For Life website to get some meal ideas and made one this morning for me and the hubs. We used spray butter and sugar free syrup to add a little kick. I thought they were really good! If you're looking for IHOP, well, then, go to IHOP but if you want a pancake that's not overly sweet and wholesome tasting you will enjoy these!


1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites
2 Tbs applesauce
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbs brown sugar (i used splenda brown sugar)
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
cinnamon to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
Blend all ingredients together. Use batter to make about 3 pancakes.
Topping: @ 2 large strawberries, 6-8 red grapes, 2 Tbs applesauce and puree in a blender. Serve over pancakes. Use other fruits for variety.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Let Love Rule

The gay marriage ban has made it to the supreme court, oral arguments ended yesterday in California. It looks like the 18,000 marriages that took place during the brief time gay marriage was legal will be upheld. As far as overturning proposition 8, I have my fingers crossed.

I heard about this video while listening to Democracy Now this morning. A California group who heads the Courage Campaign asked people to send in personal images along with the message "Don't Divorce Us" and created this video.

In my opinion, I wonder why people are so concerned with how one chooses to live their life? If you don't like gay marriage, fine, whatever, then don't marry someone of the same sex. Why does it have to go any further than that?

Sometimes I wish I lived in Canada, eh?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A couple of cute pics taken over the weekend

I find her here every morning.

I found this picture on my camera, Mike must have brushed the beast and thought this was impressive. GROSS!

But he is cute....

we both gasped a little

Tonight, my sister Mel and I decided to try out Graze for dinner. Graze specializes in martinis and serves a variety of appetizers or small plates to share.

First things first, we selected our martinis. There were so many to choose from but I'd been craving a Pomegranate martini. The mix master used Three Olives Pomegranate Vodka, PAMA pomegranate liquor, sweet and sour and cranberry juice. Mel had to incorporate a little bit of Captain into hers so she order the Honeymoon in Vegas. Her concoction consisted of Captain Morgan, orange curacao, orange juice, sweet and sour with a Cinnamon sugar rim.

Mel and I browsed the menu for a bit and decided to keep things simple. We ordered the Grazing 101 option. All of our small plates were brought out to us about 15 minutes later. Grazing 101 looks like this:

Food Guru’s Chicken Lips
Grilled Pepperoni & Portobello Pizza
Mediterranean Salad
Big Island Burgers

Everything, except the pizza, was served on a stacked appetizer tower.

All the dishes were very good and then the waitress brought out dessert. I had to bust out the camera. They don't call it Big Ass Ice Cream Pie for nothing!