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Archive for November, 2011

I’ll Be Back…

Hello! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! We had a great time in Omaha. What’s not to love about 65 degree weather on Thanksgiving? Taking a run in shorts and a t-shirt and then eating tons of delicious food? Sounds just about perfect to me πŸ™‚

I know I promised you a post on the Thanksgiving we hosted a couple of weekends ago, but turns out being gone for five days and then preparing for surgery takes up a lot of time. But, I will post the recipes eventually.

Over the past month I’ve really gotten my workout fix in, doing tons of running interval workouts, Zumba, spinning and elliptical sessions. I’ve really come to love the interval workouts on the treadmill. They go by so fast, and I get a great workout every time! So, if you’re short on time between now and Christmas, an interval workout is a great way to burn calories and fat fast. Here is one I recently did with my sister at a 1% incline. She loved it πŸ˜‰

Minute Pace
0-2 4.0
2-5 6.3
5-7 6.7
7-8 7.0
8-11 6.3
11-13 6.7
13-14 7.0
14-17 6.3
17-19 6.7
19-20 7.0
20-23 6.3
23-25 6.7
25-26 7.0
26-33 6.3
33-40 4.0

Unfortunately, my workout sessions are officially over for at least the next month. Tomorrow I’m having surgery to repair the labral tear in my hip. And while it’s definitely not going to be an enjoyable experience, I have awesome friends and family to help me along the way!

Two of our friends, Matt and Maura, came over last night with some goodies to help me through recovery, including one of these!

A 24 oz. Tervis Tumbler cup! It keeps your liquids hot or cold and will be perfect to keep me hydrated while I’m on the couch!

Speaking of hydration, I was recently contacted by a representative of Crystal Light Pure to discuss the importance of hydration in the winter. Typically we pay more attention to chugging water and fluids in the sweaty summer months, but staying hydrated in the winter is just as important.

Here are a few tips from Crystal Light Pure spokesperson Molly Kimball, R.D.:

  • Keep a tally. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces of fluid per day, plus an extra 16 ounces for every pound of sweat lost during exercise.
  • Add some flavor! I’m a personal fan of Crystal Light, but there are lots of other ways to add flavor to your water. Think cucumbers, lemons or mint…mmmm.
  • Food counts! Fresh fruit, soups and vegetables contain liquid to help you stay hydrated.
  • Caffeine is okay! Research has proven that caffeine is not dehydrating, but it is still best not to overload on sugary sports drinks or soda.

So, drink up! And who says beer, wine and some fun holiday cocktails shouldn’t count toward your fluid intake? I’m all for it! Enjoy the holiday season, and I’ll be back in a few days with some surgery updates.

**I received a sample from Crystal Light Pure from Kraft Foods.

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Happy Thanksgiving week! We hosted our first Thanksgiving with my family last weekend. I don’t have my Thanksgiving post ready quite yet, it’ll probably go up sometime next week. But, overall it was a successful event!

Who watched the finale of Dancing with the Stars last night? I really only watched a few episodes this season, but I sat through the entire finale last night…2 hours…really ABC?! Seems a bit long. Anyway, I’m glad J.R. Martinez won. I saw a headline yesterday that read, “Reality star vs. War hero,” and when you put it like that, it’s pretty clear who the winner should be.

Now, I’d like to share the absolute best and easiest recipe in the history of the world with you. I know it sounds like I’m getting carried away…because I am. But, it really is that good.

Promise.

Since my sister was in town for a wedding last weekend, she came a couple of days early to hang out with me. Hooray for half days and afternoon shopping πŸ™‚ However, being gone all day doesn’t leave much time to cook dinner, as I’m sure you all know.

Enter the crock pot and two ingredients. TWO. Oh, and what we’re making? BBQ pulled pork. Yum.

I know what you’re thinking. “Root Beer? Who uses that stuff?” And I agree. I only use it in Root Beer Floats, which I have about once every decade. But, I’m telling you, this stuff keeps the pork so tender and moist in the crock pot.

So, pour in about 12 oz. of root beer into the crock pot with your pork tenderloin (or any cut of pork you like) and put just a bit of BBQ sauce on top.

I apologize for that gross looking picture. Moving on.

Set your crock pot on low for at least 6 hours. (I left mine on low for about 8, since I was at work). You’ll come home to a delicious smell and a pork tenderloin that looks like this.

Drain the Root Beer and shred the pork. Put it back in the crock pot with the rest of the bottle of BBQ sauce. Yes, that’s right. Dump a whole bottle of BBQ sauce in there and let it cook for another hour.

It’ll look like this, and you will want to devour it. At least I did.

Make a sandwich and a salad and you have got yourself a meal. Not a pretty little meal, but a hearty and filling meal. And, it’s actually fairly healthy, which is always a bonus…especially when it tastes oh, so good.

I didn’t think life could get any better after this meal. (I’ve really got to stop exaggerating…I just get so excited for easy and delicious recipes). But then John surprised us with cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop that were leftover from a work event. Yes!!!!!!!!!!

Cookies ‘n’ cream cupcake anyone? Holy moly, this was insanely good. And, I usually leave the “cake” part of a cupcake completely untouched, and I ate about half of this “cake” part. Crumbs is rising to the top of my cupcake list…and that’s saying something.

Recipe from Allrecipes

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 pounds pork tenderloin (or a different cut of pork if you prefer)

12 oz. Root Beer (or Diet Root Beer)

18 oz. bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce

Whole wheat hamburger buns

Instructions:

Place pork tenderloin in crock pot with Root Beer. Top pork with a bit of BBQ sauce. Cook on low for at least 6 hours.

Drain Root Beer, shred pork and pour in remaining BBQ sauce.

Cook on low for another hour.

Serve on hamburger buns.

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What are your Thanksgiving plans? We are heading to Omaha tonight to celebrate Round 2 with John’s family.

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Thanksgiving is one week away! We are celebrating Thanksgiving twice this year, once in Chicago and once in Omaha with John’s family. My family is coming to Chicago this weekend, so John and I will be hosting our first holiday!

This will be our gang!

I’ve been looking at recipes for days now and have a traditional and simple menu in place. I’m crossing my fingers it all turns out well! I’ll have a huge blog post on everything from our Thanksgiving sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Switching topics…I think my New Year’s Resolution should be to not waste food. I’m not a huge food waster, but if fruit and vegetables go bad, I usually don’t hesitate putting them in the trash. And that’s bad- a waste of food and money.

One thing that I know what to do with when it’s living out its final days in our fruit basket: bananas. I have found the best banana bread recipe from Cooking Light. I’ve made it a handful of times now, and the results are perfect every time.

Especially when you add chocolate chips on top.

I baked this for my family’s visit this weekend! That way if my Thanksgiving meal doesn’t turn out, at least there will be some delicious banana bread as a back up πŸ™‚

Just combine dry ingredients.

Mix butter and sugar (my favorite combination).

Make batter.

Pour into pan and add chocolate chips.

Eat chocolate chips and lick bowl. Wait patiently for banana bread to bake.

Let cool.

Take photos without eating any samples. (Ha! Yeah right.)

And there you have it! Delicious and healthier than most banana breads. Also, this freezes very well, so if you won’t eat the whole thing at once, put half in the freezer for another time!

Recipe, slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)

1/3 cup plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

Cooking spray

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350Β°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350Β° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Question:

What do you make when food is about to go bad?

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One of the most unique and most practical wedding gifts we received was a variety pack from Omaha Steaks. When I arrived home to a cooler packed with more than 30 food items, including steaks, burgers, fish, pork chops and loaded baked potatoes, I was a bit taken aback.

But seriously, how great it is to have 30 great meals in your freezer? And don’t you just love the slogan? It makes me happy to eat!

I’m a pretty basic cook (and I use the word “cook” lightly), so I decided to spice up our meals.

John was having steak and I was having fish. On top? Kristin’s caramelized onions…sort of. I’m not sure I got them quite right, but they definitely added some much needed flavor!

On the side? Fresh spinach with feta, tomato and Trader Joe’s Fat Free Balsamic dressing. This is my favorite balsamic dressing, so I definitely recommend trying it out if you have a Trader Joe’s near you!

Recipe

Ingredients

1 sweet onion, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil (plus more as the onions cook)

1-2 tsp of sugarΒ 

Instructions

Add olive oil to pan and heat on medium heat.

Add chopped onions to pan.

Every 2-3 minutes, add a bit more olive oil and turn the heat down. You will have to stir the onions for about 30 minutes. If they look like they are going to burn, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan and turn the heat down.

Obviously a few of my onions burned 😦 But it was my first time making them, and I think I’ll get the hang of it. They definitely added some flavor and texture to an otherwise plain dinner.

Question:

What do you add to a plain dinner to add some flavor?

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I know I’m a little late getting in on The Hunger Games book series, but it’s better now than never. They are addicting!

My friend Allison loaned the the first two books to me on my Kindle, and I seriously could not put them down. I even had a dream that I was a tribute in the Hunger Games and made a pact with a friend from college that we would be allies.

I’ve discussed the books with a couple of my friends, and we are split on which “team” we are on. “Team Gale” or “Team Peeta.” I’m definitely on “Team Gale,” and am so hoping that he and Katniss end up together at the end of the series.

I’ve forced myself to wait to start the third and final book until next week so that I have some good reading material over our Thanksgiving trip to Omaha to visit John’s family.

You know what else is addicting? Sweet potato fries. I feel like sweet potatoes are a vegetable that you either love or you hate. I’m a sweet potato lover, but for some reason I haven’t had them in a while. Probably because I just stopped buying them.

But, I was in the mood for greasy fries, so I picked up a couple of sweet potatoes to make a healthy version of french fries. Trust me, these do not disappoint, and they are so easy to make.

Recipe and instructions:

Wash your spud. Slice it and throw the ends away.

Mix olive oil, salt, pepper and other seasonings (I use Mrs. Dash) in a bowl. Add the potatoes to the bowl coat them with the oil and spices.

Spread out potatoes on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, flipping them over half way through.

With about 5 minutes left, add parmesan cheese and continue baking.

Serve with ketchup. Yum!

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Questions:

  • If you’ve read The Hunger Games, were you on “Team Gale” or “Team Peeta”? Why?
  • Are you a sweet potato lover or hater?

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Back Home Again, In Indiana

Happy Friday! I don’t know about you, but this week flew by for me! I love when that happens!

Last weekend I returned home for the first time in months. Much needed girl time with my mom πŸ™‚

One of my favorite things to do during my visits home is to eat lunch at our house. Exciting, right?!? Don’t get me wrong, I love going out to dinner and occasionally out to lunch, but there is something about eating lunch at home that makes me feel so relaxed.

I give you…

my standard lunch at home. Turkey on a whole wheat sandwich thin with spinach, cucumbers, colby jack cheese and miracle whip. Plain and simple, and oh so tasty.

Delicious red grapes. My favorite fruit for their simplicity. And, my mom taught me a great trick while I was home. Frozen grapes. Oh man, they are good! In fact, I had already taken my first bite of ice cream for dessert. Then, my mom pulled out frozen grapes. I tried one and put the ice cream back. Yes, frozen grapes for dessert.Β Unprecedented for me! So, that tells you something.

My visits at home are “relaxing busy.” Meaning, we are usually on-the-go, but with fun activities, like the Holiday Mart. Every holiday season, the Indianapolis Junior League puts on the Holiday Mart. I have only been a time or two and forgot what it was like. What a sight.

There are hundreds of booths filled with everything you can imagine. Food, clothing, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, holiday decorations, and more. It’s kind of overwhelming, so going in with a strategy is a must.

We purchased a few dip mixes from A Spice Above. The samples, oh the samples! The Stuffed Artichoke was my favorite πŸ™‚

Hats, anyone?

Or watches?

We also picked up some soup mixes from Cherchies Specialty Foods. I’m excited to have these post surgery for easy meals. I sampled the Mexican Tortilla and bought two bags. Delish!

And, I was lucky enough to go to the Colts game again on Sunday πŸ˜‰ Such a depressing season, but at least Notre Dame won.

Also, I’m starting to plan our Thanksgiving menu that we are hosting for my family next weekend! Our first holiday as a married couple and as hosts!

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What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? If you’ve hosted a holiday before, do you have any advice?

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Welcome to Nashville!

I love country music. John does not. Luckily, his brother and sister-in-law moved to Nashville a few months ago, so we planned a trip to visit them. My sister, Sallie, and her boyfriend traveled from Dallas to join in on the fun.

And fun it was!

We started Saturday morning with a two hour hike. We had a bit of trouble finding our car, but with this scenery, I could have stayed outside all day.

I’d never heard of “Tebowing” until this trip, but apparently it’s all the rage. Emily and Joe showed us how it’s done.

On our hike, I found a giant leaf and some pretty little berries.

And my dream home. Yes, I’d like that.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the delicious BBQ we had for lunch from Corky’s.

Or the mouth-watering margarita pizza from Cabana. And, I have to add, there was wine on sale at dinner. I love sales and rarely buy anything full price, but I had never heard of having wine on sale at a restaurant. This was definitely one of the most exciting parts of the trip! Sallie and I split a bottle at dinner, and well, let’s just say it got our evening off to a great start πŸ™‚

We made our way to a few honky tonks downtown and rode in style on our way back home at the end of the night. In a limo. Yes, that’s right. For $5 a person a limo took us home. Let me say, you don’t find that in Chicago, so it was five points for Nashville.

On Sunday we went to the Titans vs. Colts game. When we planned the trip, we thought the Colts would be good. Turns out, they’re not. So it wasn’t the most exciting game to watch, but we had a good time being outside on a beautiful day.

It was a weekend of BBQ, pizza and Chinese food, so I’m trying to fill my meals this week with lots of veggies and protein with fewer desserts than usual. I’m hoping to stay on this track until the holidays. And then, surgery on November 30. It’s creeping up on me!

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What’s your take on country music? Love it or hate it?

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