A PR Attempt

Sunday morning I found myself rested and wide awake at 7am, thanks to the magnesium I’ve been taking every night before bed – holy deep sleep! After catching up on blogs and Twitter, I decided to take advantage of an early start on the day. On Saturday I had given the house a deep clean and came across a Starbucks card with some money still on it so I made trip out to grab us some iced coffees.

We’ve cut way back on coffee, as in we don’t even keep it in the house anymore, but it’s nice to have every once in awhile. I’ve been loving this So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer lately.

Coconut Milk Creamer

The consistency is nearly identical to that of regular flavored coffee creamer but with less fat, calories and sugar. A small splash of it in iced coffee is delicious.

Once back at the house I got to work on our meals for the week:

It was just after 8am when the pots and pans hit the stove. I had a secret {lofty} goal to be finished with cooking and cleanup before noon. Whipping up breakfast would need to happen at some point too, adding another obstacle in my way. But the thought of breaking my, ahem, Sunday Cooking PR time was very appealing.

I’ve made the chili countless times but this time added more beans (garbanzo rather than cannellini), used fat-free sour cream and fat-free half & half.

White Turkey Chili

The Green Chile Corn Muffins are simply a box of cornbread mix

Honey Cornbread

with one cup of reduced-fat cheddar cheese and one can of fire-roasted diced green chiles added in.

Green Chile Corn Muffins

The crock-pot pulled pork is another Eat Live Run recipe and honestly one of the easiest recipes ever. Season pork, brown in a pan, and then add to a crock-pot with diced onions and BBQ sauce. After 6-8 hours of simmering, the pork is so tender it falls apart on its own. Perfect and amazing.

Crockpot Pulled Pork

This macaroni salad from Skinnytaste far exceeded my expectations! I didn’t think it would be very creamy but it tasted every bit as good as any full-fat mayo-laden macaroni salad you’d find at a 4th of July BBQ. The recipe yields 16 cups so unless you’re bringing it to share with a party, I’d recommending halving it.

Macaroni Salad

The egg salad recipe was made up on the fly: hard-boiled eggs (shocking ingredient, no?) less than a tablespoon of reduced-fat olive oil mayo, a few teaspoons of Dijon mustard, cayenne pepper and S&P to taste.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering if I nailed that PR:

Cooking PR

Now I need to work on a goal for next week…

Suncakes

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Last week I whipped up a batch of these for a quick dinner and it was love at first bite. Imagine what would happen if you combined corn muffins and pancakes. With only a few ingredients they were super simple to throw together and knew I’d be making them again soon.

Rather than go the normal muffin route we’ve been taking lately, I decided to double the recipe so we could have them for breakfast throughout the week.

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I came across the recipe from a reader in this month’s issue of Clean Eating Magazine.

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Substitutions I made:

  • maple syrup –> SF syrup
  • soy milk –> almond milk
  • fresh corn –> canned
  • Earth Balance –> Smart Balance
  • omitted the oil

Whisk milk & vinegar until frothy. Let sit for 5 minutes.

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Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder & salt.

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Whisk buttery spread & syrup into the milk mixture.

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Fold in cornmeal mixture.

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Add in corn, and then pop into the fridge for 5 minutes.

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After the batter is chilled, cook them the same as you would pancakes, using a griddle or skillet.

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I doubled the ingredients to make two batches so they would last us through the week. One batch is definitely enough for breakfast for two people (with leftovers!) or an easy mid-week dinner.

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Serve topped with berries and greek yogurt or SF syrup.

Hits & Misses

An obscene amount of food has been coming out of my kitchen as of late. There’s been quite a few of “need to make this again” meals, some “ehh, it’s definitely missing something” items, and a “let’s not repeat this” breakfast.

Among the winners were the Banana Walnut Muffins

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Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (same recipe as the muffins, with chocolate chips instead of walnuts)

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Grilled Pesto Chicken with Tomato & Mozz

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Potato Leek Soup

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Sweet & Fiery Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa

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Then there were the recipes that were just missing something: Baby Red Potato Salad and Creamy Cilantro Tomatillo Dressing.

And then there were the muffins that we didn’t even finish, Mixed Berry Whole Wheat Muffins.

mixed berry muffins

I had high hopes for them but they refused to separate themselves from the muffin cups. The batter was really thick and baked up incredibly dense. I ate three or four but ended up tossing them mid-week.

Up this week:


Gazpacho

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2 red bell peppers
1 large red onion
4 tomatoes (on the vine, plum, campari – your choice)
1 large cucumber, seeded
1 jalapeno, seeded
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 cups of tomato juice
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

I’d recommend making this recipe with a larger food processor than I have. It’s definitely doable, but you’ll be able to finish in less batches with a 7 or 9-cup rather than the Mini-Prep.

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Roughly chop each of the vegetables separately, combining in a large bowl. Then add the garlic, olive oil, vinegar, tomato juice and S&P. If you like your food with a little extra kick, swap out the tomato juice for my secret ingredient:

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Yup, bloody mary mix. Same consistency as tomato juice but MUCH more flavor.

Mix all ingredients together, adding additional S&P if needed.

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Garnish with a dollop of fat free greek yogurt and a few slices of avocado.

Back on track

A couple months ago Brad and I decided that after our wounds healed from the Spartan Sprint we would allow P90X to kick our ass for, well, 90 days starting May 28th.

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Days of picking up Sonic on the way home or ordering a pizza for dinner are over. Our eating habits have been completely revamped. Saturday mornings are now spent meal planning and making a detailed grocery list.

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The combination of list-making and shopping only the perimeter of the store allows us to knock our grocery shopping out in less than 30 minutes, even on a busy Saturday morning.

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Sunday mornings are spent cooking for the week, which allows me to avoid picking up a single pot or pan on a weekday. (HUGE fan of this!)

I’ll get into meal planning in another post, but for now here’s what’s set to come out of my kitchen today:

It’s a bit of work for a Sunday morning, but you know what? If it grants me a cooking-free week, I will gladly slave away in the kitchen for a few hours on the last day of the weekend with the CMT Top 20 Countdown blaring in the background. Also, our one cheat meal for the week is on Sunday so after I’m done playing chef I am rewarded with a crisp glass of wine and someone else cooking for me.

Last week our cheat meal was at the Alamo Drafthouse while seeing Snow White & the Huntsmen. Delicious food was consumed, including fried pickles, fresh baked-to-order chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream, and multiple adult beverages. Cheat meal, INDEED!

Snow White and the Huntsman

Alamo Drafthouse

PBR - Prosecco

Todays destination?

Brick House Tavern and Tap

And I have my heart set on some delicious carbs:

Brick House Pretzels

Brick House Tavern + Tap

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The Brick House Tavern + Tap is quickly turning into our favorite restaurant. It’s located right next to the local Mexican hot-spot Chuy’s, which means the parking lot is always SLAMMED. Luckily when Chuy’s is on a 35-45 minute wait, Brick House is still pretty empty. We’ve been a few times now around 6pm on Friday night and had no problem sitting down at a table right away.

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The wine list is a little sparse for my liking but their beer selection more than makes up for it:

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AND they have beer bongs. Yes, I’m not kidding.

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We contemplate trying a new appetizer every time (there’s so many!) …

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… but somehow always default back to their buttery soft pretzels with a trio of dipping sauces:

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Oh look at that, I still ordered a glass of wine anyway. Shocking.

Anyway, back to those phenomenal pretzels

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So. Damn. Tasty. I’m a sucker for a good soft pretzel.

This particular time I ordered the Steak + Eggs: filet mignon, two eggs any style (I went over-easy), crispy potatoes (sub french fries) & buttered texas toast

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I was thoroughly enjoying my dinner, until I took a bite of Brad’s Drunken Chops:

drunken chops

Wow. Incredible. And HUGE!

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Once I sampled his dinner, I quickly lost interest in my own. The pork chops were perfectly cooked and the whiskey glaze went extremely well with them. Tip: ask for an extra side of glaze for dipping – you won’t regret it!

Unless I was in the mood for steak I probably wouldn’t order the Steak + Eggs again. There are SO many other options worth checking out.

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I’d also highly recommend the kobe, one of the best burgers I’ve ever had:

the kobe

source

and their Chicken + Waffles, simple yet delicious

chicken and waffles

source

And for the Happy Hour lover, you can get your drink on early or late – with the added bonus of discounted apps!

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It’s definitely a restaurant worth checking out. Don’t be discouraged by the parking lot situation – Chuy’s takes most of the business. The food at Brick House is fantastic and the service always excellent.

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Eleven Things

11 random things about myself:

1. I don’t like lasagna. I like each of the ingredients individually, but together? No thank you.

2. I hated dogs my entire life, until I moved in with my boyfriend and fell in love with his. Now, ours 🙂

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3. I don’t like flowers.

4. I despised country music up until last year. Now? I add it to running playlists.

3M-Half-Marathon-Playlist

5. I’m obsessed with pens. Sharpie Pens are my #1, closely followed by Pentel EnerGels and Pilot G-2s. And I keep these in my purse at all times. Yes, all of them. Nerd alert.

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6. I keep a bottle of Sriracha, chili infused olive oil, and container of crushed red pepper flakes in my desk at work.

7. I’m TERRIBLE at public speaking.

8. I once ate an entire extra, extra large pizza at Pete & Elda’s to get a free t-shirt.

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9. I don’t drink milk. If it would be acceptable to put water on my cereal, I would.

10. I’m obsessed with scarves.

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11. I think Valentine’s Day is the dumbest holiday ever. To quote my Facebook status from last year: Flowers? Candy? Waste of money. Valentines Day? Not a real holiday. Suckers. We don’t celebrate fake holidays in this house.

someecards valentines day

 

Candice’s Questions

1. What is your biggest and/or hardest goal for 2012? 5:15 marathon. Um, that’s ONE HOUR off my previous marathon time. Lofty goal I’d say.

2. Vegetarian or Meat-eater? Baconlover. Carbivore. Okay fine, meat-eater. Although I did go vegetarian from 2009-2010.

3. Would you rather write something down with pen/paper or on a computer/cell phone, etc? I do both because I’m an organizational freak. One note goes in my planner, one in GCal or GTasks.

4. Dog or cat person? dog.

5. What is your favorite season and why? Fall. That’s when all the good races are 🙂 AND it’s not 100 degrees everyday here in Texas

6. If you could live anywhere other than the place you currently live, where would you live? San Diego

7. Do you prefer Facebook over Twitter or vice versa? Twitter over Facebook. 140 characters really forces people to keep it short & sweet. I like.

8. What is the longest run/race/workout you have ever done? 26.2 miles

9. If you could only read one book over and over, which one would it be? Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

10. What is the biggest risk you have ever taken? I left my job and all of my friends in Florida behind to move to Austin for a BOY. I’m a silly girl…

11. What motivated you to start blogging? running. It began as a way for my best friend and I to document race recaps & review wines, and slowly grew from there.

Thanks for tagging me, Candice! I’m not going to follow the rules because generally I prefer to break them. Therefore, I won’t be tagging anyone. BUT! I do have a question for all of you…

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Scenes from the Weekend

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Friday

We whipped up breakfast tacos for dinner, as well as a full pot of coffee.

Best laid plans.

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The handle decided it despised the pot and removed itself from the situation. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen mid-wash or while it was empty. Noooo, it happened with a piping hot pot of coffee. Handle snapped off and the pot smashed against the countertop, sending shards of glass to the floor to swim in a pool of coffee.

So sad.

RIP Mr. Coffee, it was a glorious two years.

Saturday

The Christmas decorations finally made their way down from the attic. Once I got to unpacking them, it was clear the coffee pot wasn’t the only casualty of the weekend.

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For those keeping score: Austin Extreme Summer Heatwave 1, Melissa’s Entire Collection of Christmas Candles 0

Again, so sad.

An emergency trip to the mall was necessary.

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Brad cleaned up the old candle holders so I could add the tealights

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Crisis averted!

Saturday Night

I decided it would be a brilliant idea to peel forty (no exaggeration) cloves of garlic to make this recipe, a variation of Ina Garten’s. The dish was 100% without a doubt worth the effort.

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The chicken was served with creamy polenta, based off of this gem I found from the Pioneer Woman. Rather than goat cheese I stirred in a couple tablespoons of Philly Italian Cheese & Herb Cooking Crème.

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Heavenly.

Sunday

I had one more fire to put out.

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You see that? That’s what Target looks like before all of the crazies come out to play. Shop early in the morning and you will add years to your life!

Wanna take a guess what I went for?

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No, not a new coffeemaker…

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Just a new pot! Thank you Target (and Mom!), you just saved our Sunday.

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All is right in the world again.

What’s your favorite coffee (or tea) flavor?

Finishing Strong

Oh hey December, where did you come from? Seriously, this year FLEW by!

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With the end of 2011 looming on the horizon, I need to set some goals to finish out the year on a high note.

1. MOVE 5x per week. Run 3x, Spin/Elliptical 2x – NO EXCUSES!

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2. Attend Thursday night yoga. I used to take this class every week. It was the perfect way to unwind from the work week. Savasana clears my mind and relaxes me.

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3. Drink more H2O. In the summer I have no problem drinking 72 ounces of water per day. Once the temperature dips in the fall/winter, I struggle to stay hydrated. I’d much rather drink a hot cup of {dehydrating caffeine} coffee.

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4. Limit caffeine consumption. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to quit coffee but I certainly would like to decrease the amount I drink. I’m going to start swapping out my weekday morning cup of joe for a chamomile or green tea. Coffee will be reserved for a weekend treat.

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5. Get adequate sleep This goes hand in hand with number 3. The more coffee I consume, the worse off I am when it comes time to hit the hay. Tossing and turning for over an hour before falling asleep just isn’t working for me. Less caffeine = better sleep quality.

6. Eat breakfast regularly I easily lose track of time in the morning at work and before I know it lunch is rolling around. I need to make a habit of walking into work and eating right away. I’m going to set a recurring appointment in Outlook as a reminder.

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7. Take my vitamins. Need I say more?

8. Set aside more time for writing. I’ve been working on my novel quite a bit lately and would like to keep that up. In the month of November I hit publish on fifteen blog posts, and would like to hit at least that many in December as well.

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9. Surround myself with POSITIVE people.

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10. Enjoy the holiday season. This will be the first Christmas Brad and I actually spend together. Crazy, right? Unfortunately neither of us will be able to see our families this year, but at least we will have each other 🙂

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All photos via Pinterest

Have you set any goals for the month of December?