Monday, November 30, 2009
Because my head is still quite groggy, I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.
Just in the nick of time on Wednesday evening, our new tv showed up and my hubby could not have been more pleased!
Our Thanksgiving began with the Run to Feed the Hungry! It was fantastic! I successfully ran the 6.2 miles and Chris and my Mom ran the 5k! Although I must give my Mom a ton of credit because she said she wasn't feeling well, but we found out Friday she has Swine Flu! I can't believe she ran, cooked Thanksgiving dinner AND got up at 2:30 Friday morning to shop!
After a lovely meal with my parents and dessert with Chris' whole family, it was off to bed to wake up extra early!
As I said, my Mom was feeling really bad by Friday so we only made it until 6, when I took her home. But I was wide awake so I went home, made a pot of coffee and started decorating for Christmas! Chris and I even got our tree, but by Friday evening I started getting a cough...
By Saturday morning I felt awful! Unfortunately, it lasted the entire weekend. Thankfully we were able to get our Christmas stuff up on Friday and as always, my husband tended to my every need. He is the best husband and caretaker ever, despite my tendencey to be very whiny when I'm sick!
So today I am still sick, but I no longer have a fever and my cough and body ache are pretty much gone. I hope I can kick it today! And I am really hoping Chris can somehow resist getting sick too!
Have a very merry Monday!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Thursday ~ waking up at 5:30 to do the Run to Feed the Hungry 10k.
Friday ~ waking up at 3am to stand in line at Kohl's and several other stores where we will shop 'til we drop! Then, after a much needed nap, Chris and I will get our Christmas tree and begin decorating!!
I'm a little exhausted just thinking about it!
Not that I'm complaining because the rest of the weekend will be full of relaxing and movie watching on our new TV! We got confirmation that it will likely be delivered tomorrow! Yay!
Have a lovely day!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Tonight I made, for the third time, Clean Eating's Slow-Cooker Chicken Cassoulet. I will say, the actual dish looks nothing like the picture in the cookbook, but tastes quite lovely! This time I added an additional step of shredding the chicken just before I served it (made super simple with this!) and Chris and I agree it makes the dish ten times better. Mainly because it makes it more of a stew and you take advantage of every last drop since the chicken is combined with the veggies and beans!
I was thinking this morning that I wouldn't have any new recipes to post this week with it being Thanksgiving and my keeping our menu planner really simple. But as we were having dinner Chris asked if I had ever posted this recipe. He seemed to think it crazy not to share this one, so here you have it!
Slow Cooker Chicken Cassoulet
1 (15 oz) can navy beans, pinto beans or black-eyed peas, rinsed and well drained
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 2/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
4 garlic cloves passed trough a garlic press
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 T. thyme
2 Tbsp. fresh minced parsley
And just a side note, fresh herbs can be substituted for dried herbs, just make sure to use a bit less since they are more concentrated.
1. Spread half the beans in the bottom of the slow cooker.
2. Season chicken with pepper and sea salt. Heat oil over medium heat in a skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides (about 2-3 minutes each side). Place the browned chicken on top of the beans in the slow cooker. Top with remaining beans and chicken broth.
3. Saute the onion, celery, sun-dried tomatoes, carrots, garlic and herbs using the same skillet. Spread this mixture over the chicken. Cover and put on low heat for several hours.
I am so very thankful for a long weekend followed by a two day week! The past few days were very full, but with delightful things!
It began with Harvest Festival fun with my mom, mother-in-law, and Chris' step-grandma, Lupe. I found several Christmas gifts and even a few things for myself. An afternoon of shopping followed by Cheesecake Factory for lunch is my idea of a great day off!
If I have not already indulged the fact that my husband spoils me, you will know once I tell you how our date night began. Around 6pm I heard a knock on the door and found Chris holding a bunch of flowers, a skinny latte and Norah Jones' new CD!! Never underestimate the joy that comes from sweet surprises for no reason at all!
Saturday evening we attended a wedding. Chris works with both the bride and groom and he's been saying how he thinks I will really like them. Finally getting to meet them I would have to agree they are a very sweet couple! I am such a sap for weddings, and this was only enhanced as they played the song I walked down the isle to at our wedding (Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo Ole'). I may have shed a few happy tears!
There was a slight change of plans Sunday. Originally, Chris and I were going to the Raiders game with his Dad and Uncle, but realizing that I need to take my certification exam before the holidays hit, I decided to stay home and make sure I'm well prepared. I really would have enjoyed being at the game, but time is slipping away from me and I want to get this test out of the way! I am trying to schedule the exam for this Wednesday so it won't be a distraction during Thanksgiving. You should be proud, despite the temptation from our mothers to join them at the Mandarin Festival yesterday, I opted to get my workout out of the way and study, study, study. Although I still ended up with a 5lb bag of mandarines:) They take such good care of us!
And on a VERY exciting note, after a year of researching, planning for and finding the very best deal, Chris and I purchased this...
Our new Samsung 50in plasma will be at our door next Monday! I have to admit, I am more excited than I expected to be! Of course, Chris' excitement was no surprise at all!
And finally, last night I purchased Silk Nog! I buy one carton every season and savor it all month! Not being a fan of regular egg nog, I was delighted to find this lighter, less sweet substitute and now find myself looking forward to it every year!
Hope you have a very merry Monday!
Friday, November 20, 2009
It's the weekend come early for me and I am stoked! Today you can find me at the Harvest Festival in search of gifts and new Christmas decor! But the fun doesn't stop there! Saturday we will be at a wedding and Sunday at a Raiders game! And somewhere in between I'll need to fit in a 5 mile run, getting fitted for new running shoes, finding just the right boots for my Christmas list and lots and lots of laundry! Have a lovely weekend!
image via photobucket
Thursday, November 19, 2009
1. I went at it alone. As much of a self-starter as I am, it can still be really tough to keep it up when you get tired, busy and just plain unmotivated. So I have enlisted some friends and family members for encouragement and accountability. And I will hopefully have a few people running it with me!
2. I had no short term goals to get me to my long term goal. Everyone knows that in goal setting you have to create benchmarks in order to keep yourself focused. So I've planned various 5k's, 10k's and a half marathon along the way to keep me excited. My first 10k is next Thursday!
3. And finally, I was too hard on myself! I tend to have the 'all-or-nothing' mentality, so when I missed a run I got really bummed and felt like the week was a total failure. What I should have realized is that there will be times when I miss a run or I get sick and have to take a few days off, but the important thing is to bounce right back!
This Saturday will mark the end of my first month of training. I'm still full of that energy and vigor, but because I know it will start getting harder in the upcoming weeks as my runs get longer and more difficult, I can prepare myself.
During our visit to Indiana last month I was really inspired by my Aunt Lyn who just ran her first marathon. She said something to me that was so simple but has really stuck with me. She said, "Determination will take you places you may not even dare to venture otherwise. So if you set a goal for yourself there is only one thing to do...get there, whatever it takes.". I am the only person who can either get myself to the finish line or give up. It's my choice.
Wish me luck as I once again attempt to get here~
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I am feeling exceptionally good today for a few reasons. The first being that it rained last night and I am loving the chilly, gloomy weather that comes along with rain (at least for now)! And secondly, today is my Thursday since I am taking Friday off for the Harvest Festival! I requested the day off ages ago to be sure I would get it! I'm just a little excited!!
Today seemed like a perfect day for a crock pot dinner so I prepared Slow Cooker Chili Chicken Tacos this morning. Yum! And I've got to say, this blog has become a handy little reference for me when it comes to recipes we've really enjoyed. In fact, this week alone I have made Almond Stuffed Chicken, Adobo Rubbed Pork Tenderloin and Peanut Butter and Jam Cookies!
It has occured to me that we are right in the middle of the cold and flu season and somehow, Chris and I have managed to stay under the radar and remain healthy...knock on wood. I'm really hoping it stays that way because we have much planned for the upcoming weeks!
And finally, I just can't believe how quickly the holidays are approaching! It seems a little bittersweet because on one hand, I adore this time of year, but on the other, I am all too aware of how quickly it passes. So I am making a solid effort to sit back and enjoy every single moment, Christmas movie, cup of hot chocolate, family gathering and holiday decoration. I can't wait to spend my second holiday season as a Hansen!
Savor each moment!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
How much do you love the milky cream shade of this ruffled beauty? I can already picture a delectable chocolate cake on top of this!
The unique amber hue of this one was the first to catch my eye. It has a pretty feminine touch to it without being to old fashioned.
And finally, the simplicity of this clear stand is only enhanced by the lacy edges. A pretty twist on your basic cake stand.
Monday, November 16, 2009
We had a delightful few days off! Here's a funny story for you~
After finishing our dinner last night, Chris promptly asked, "What are we having for dessert, honey?". Quite comical that he has become accustomed to this, but I of course already had something in mind:) I responded that I was going to make our favorite Peanut Butter and Jam Cookies! And with that my husband began clearing our plates from the table and once everything was put away he asked what the first step was for the cookies! What?? That's right, instead of him checking football scores while I baked, we made them together! There were some very amusing moments though.
First of all, Chris read me the list of ingredients we needed because, as he noted, he doesn't know where anything is in our 'immaculate pantry'...wouldn't that make it easier to find things?? Anyway, he then combined all the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl and as they were blending he asks me if I had decided to move the mixer down from the pantry because I knew I would be doing a lot of baking during the holidays...I stared at him blankly for a moment and then, realizing what he had just asked me, I started laughing out loud. Understand that our mixer has been in the EXACT same spot on the counter since we moved in (18 months ago!). It became clear in that moment that our kitchen is pretty unfamiliar territory for him:)
I must say though, he did a fantastic job with the cookies! Impressive actually!!
The last hours of our weekend were spent enjoying these amazing cookies, milk and watching one of our favorite holiday movies, Elf!
Friday, November 13, 2009
It's Friday and I am definitely ready for the weekend! We have an engagement party on Saturday which should be fabulous because this family knows how to throw a party!! Other than that it's going to be pretty low-key so I should have no problem getting my 10 miles of running in and hopefully a yoga class or two along with a much needed pedicure! I may even try the Clean Eating Crockpot Porridge I've been wanting to make!
Have a lovely weekend!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I frequently talk about Clean Eating magazine, but what you may not know is how it all started. Tosca Reno, one of the colomnists for Oxygen magazine and a woman who overcame a huge battle of unhealthy behaviors at forty years old, wrote the book, The Eat Clean Diet. And along with that came the Cookbook and many other fantastic companions. I lived by this book when I first got it and it is still a constant reference. I just can't say enough good things about it! While reading my last issue of Oxygen, I came across an add for Tosca's new and enhanced version of The Eat Clean Cookbook and I am beside myself with excitment!! It has to be almost twice the size and full of new recipes. So, if you have not yet explored the world of Clean Eating, I would highly recommend you check this out! You won't be disapponted!
Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Cookbook: Delicious Recipes That Will Burn Fat and Re-Shape Your Body!
And on that note, I want to divulge the super simple soup I made last night.
Italian Wedding Soup
1 (15-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes with garlic, oregano and basil
6 cups vegetable broth
4 ounces pasta (fusilli, elbow or whatever you have on hand and preferably whole wheat)
1 (16-ounce) package chicken meatballs (I used Whole Foods, Brat Hans Gourmet Chicken Meatballs - Aged Parmesan & Fennel)
3 cups fresh organic spinach, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Sea salt and ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Bring the tomatoes and broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Simmer 10 minutes. Cook meatballs as instructed. Add pasta, spinach and Italian seasoning and cook until the pasta is tender, about 8 minutes. Add meatballs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.
Like I said, super simple and also super tasty!
Wishing you good health always!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Productive days off make me happy! I made absolutely no plans for the day and it went a little something like this~
We slept in until about 8am, then upon leisurely getting up we walked Abby to Starbucks. We sat and enjoyed the overcast morning while sipping our latte/peppermint hot chocolate. Since then I have basically been going though every drawer and closet looking for stuff to take to Goodwill. We also posted a ton of goods to Craig's list and have already gotten calls about two things! I love de-cluttering the house!
Now I can relax and enjoy some Italian Meatball Soup for dinner!
Happy Veterans Day!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
This is inspired by another blog and I just love it! List four everyday things that make you happy.
Here is my list~
1. silly emails from my husband
Just thinking about these things puts a huge smile on my face!
What about you?
Image via Anna Torborg at www.twelve22.org
These first two are from Inkandbutton. Aren't they absolutely adorable?!
The Martha Headband
The Emma Fascinator
Fingerless Gloves by FriendlyBrown. LOVE these and could so use them at work!!
Coffee Cozy by UptownAvenue. I seriously should have invented this! Probably my favorite new find!!
I am also loving this Amy Butler fabric.
Wouldn't that fabric look fab on this Birdie Sling Bag?!
Enjoy your Tuesday! I most certainly will as we have the day off tomorrow in honor of Veteran's Day! Quite a nice little treat in the middle of the week:) So it's sushi with my friend Parris tonight and sleeping in tomorrow!
Monday, November 9, 2009
I find myself smack dab in the middle of what I consider the 'cozy' season. Food, like the weather, becomes a bit heartier and therefore, is intended to warm the soul, which is why this meal stuck out to me. There are many dishes I still have to explore, but today I can cross one of them off my list. For our Sunday dinner, I cooked braised short ribs. And when I say cooked, I mean cooked, all day long! If you are familiar with the process, you know that my ribs were in the oven for hours getting themselves all nice and tender. Two of them literally fell of the bone before I even took them out of the dutch oven! I'd say the results made it worth every minute!
I was quite pleased with the turnout and may even venture to short rib territory again someday. The recipe came from the blog, pictures and pancakes and they recommended serving over creamy polenta. While I liked the variation of textures, Chris wasn't so sure about the polenta, although it definitely didn't stop him from polishing off the last of our main dish! I also served with a side of sauteed green beans. Yum!
Braised Short Ribs
3 lbs. beef short ribs
smoked sea salt & fresh ground pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
5 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbs honey
preheat oven to 300 degrees F. season short ribs generously with smoked salt & ground pepper and heat oil in a medium sized dutch oven. add short ribs, brown on all sides and remove. add apple, onion, celery, garlic and thyme and cook 6 minutes. add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes until it deepens in color. add wine, chicken stock, vinegar and honey and bring to a boil. add short ribs, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. cover and transfer to the oven, braising for 3 hours and turning halfway through cooking.
remove short ribs from the pot and set aside to cool slightly, meat should fall off the bone. strain the sauce into a large bowl and refrigerate to solidify the fat. when the meat is cool enough to handle, shred and discard the bones. skim fat off top of sauce and use just enough of the sauce to moisten the shredded meat - serve shredded meat warmed.
And you know I couldn't finish off our lovely Sunday meal without a sweet ending! One of my favorite food blogs, Pinch My Salt, posted this Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Cake about a week ago and simply could not stop raving about how fantastic it was. Since everything I have tried from her blog has been delightful, I've come to trust her when she says something is really good. Naturally, I have been looking for a good excuse to try this cake.
Do I even need to say how fantastic it turned out? What's that, you want to hear it anyways?? Alright, you twisted my arm! This recipe is jam packed with delicious fall flavors, from the tart apple bites, to the warm cinnamon and the moist base I could pretty much make this cake every weekend! An absolute must try!
Follow the link for this recipe: Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Cake.
On a side note, if you are looking for a great food log, Pinch My Salt is it! She even posted pumpkin doughnuts last week. A woman after my own heart!
This fabulous meal was only one of many great happenings this weekend!
*Friday night we celebrated my Aunt Judy's birthday with fajitas and margaritas:)
*Breakfast with my girlfriends Saturday morning was wonderful! Girl talk over poached eggs and coffee really can't be bad!
*We met the German exchange student Chris' parents will be hosting for the next 8 months. She's super sweet!
*I got to talk to my sweet friend Lael, who is currently living in New Zealand!
*I studied my little head off and am now just about ready to take the ACSM certification exam!
*Audrey Hepburn's Roman Holiday accompanied us while we made a homemade pizza Saturday night!
*And most importantly, I feel really rested, even though the extent of my sleeping in this weekend was 6am!
Hope your weekend was wonderful!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
These next few days I'll be catching up on some much needed beauty sleep, having breakfast with some girlfriends, getting ready to take my ACSM personal training certification exam and making these Braised Short Ribs and this Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Cake. Have a lovely weekend!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I found myself a bit more rushed than usual today. Mainly because I made a last minute hair appointment for this evening. Typically, I would schedule it right after work, but the late nature of my scheduling called for a 5:30 appointment. Not really a big deal as I planned on working out during the 2 hour gap between work and my appointment. What I failed to think about until this morning was getting my gym bag together since I would be going to the gym near my office. So this morning, while gathering my clothes and toiletries I realized I didn't have many options for a post-workout snack. As a last resort I poured a glass of skim chocolate milk (a great post run drink, btw!) in my travel cup and packed it, mildly unsecure, in my lunch bag.
And to demonstrate how uncharacteristically unprepared I am this week, we ran out of coffee yesterday. Totally unlike me to run out of something so basic and neccessary in the middle of the week! Anyway, that meant I needed to leave a few minutes earlier to stop for coffee.
With my hands very full, I walk out to my car, thinking that somehow getting in on the drivers side with all my stuff (big purse, lunch bag, gym bag, Starbucks cup full of water, sweater, keys in hand...) would be fine...until my gym bag got stuck on the steering wheel and I started to feel a cool sensation soaking through my jeans! I realized my lunch bag was tipped over and chocolate milk was spilling all over me and the rest of my things!
At this point I am so mad at myself for not taking the extra second to go to the passenger side and load my stuff because now I am running inside to change my clothes, making me even more late! Grr!
Needless to stay, I had a rough start to my morning. But within five minutes I was laughing at myself thinking, another lesson learned!
On another note, last night I fought my ever building urge to watch White Christmas and instead watched the next best thing, an Audrey Hepburn movie! Breakfast at Tiffany's just never gets old!
Holly Golightly, in reference to getting the "mean reds" ~
"Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!"
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Check these out on Etsy!
Last night I attempted, with heavenly results I might add, to create the 'Blessings Granola' that Lael's Mom has used in her family for years. You see, as long as I have known Lael, she's always had a well stocked supply of what she deems, "the ultimate comfort food".
So, when I decided to attempt my own granola, why would I think to go anywhere but straight to her recipe? Lael shared this recipe in one of her very first blog posts at One Hungry Soul and I am so very glad she did!
This granola is as easy as it is delicious and satisfying!
I have posted the recipe below, but please check out Lael's original post for some great tips that really helped me with the cooking time and variations to this basic recipe.
Lael's Blessings Granola
Makes 4 cups
¼ c. honey
¼ c. oil
2 T. frozen orange juice concentrate
2 T. brown sugar (I consider this optional-it increases the sweetness and chewiness only slightly)
¼ t. vanilla
½ c. pecans
1 ½ c. rolled oats
¼ c. slivered almonds
¼ c. pumpkin seeds
Mix both together. Thinly spread onto rimmed baking sheet. Bake until toasted in 325°oven.
Remove from oven. Stir in:
¼ c. coconut flakes
¼ c. golden raisins
7 dried apricots, chopped
¼ c. dried cranberries
Let cool before transferring to storage jar or container.