A Great Way to Start the Week – Ice Cream, Nature Walk, and Zombies! Oh My!

Variety is the soul of pleasure.
– Aphra Behn

This just about sums up my life. I NEED variety in my life…I don’t like to eat the same foods everyday, I prefer to run different routes every week, I like to rotate clothes so I don’t have to wear the same outfits all the time, etc., etc.  Are you this way too? Please tell me I’m not the only one 🙂

For a Monday, today was a pretty darn good day.

Started the day off with some tasty yogurt and fruit – half an apple diced, vanilla Greek yogurt, a few walnuts and pecans chopped, a few raisins, some flax seed, cinnamon, and top it all off with some shredded coconut.

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After work, came home and whipped up some tasty Italian Sausage Fried Rice – recipe coming soon.  Someone wanted to be in the food shot!

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After dinner we went for ice cream! Dairy Queen on the south side of Lansing is open again for the season so we swung by so I could get the oh so fabulous, Pecan Mudslide – my favorite!

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It was such a nice day – got all the way up to 62 degrees! Spring is on its way here in MI so we couldn’t let it pass us by and we decided to go to Fenner Nature Center in Lansing for a walk.

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And so Noah could snap some photos – he’s been itching to get out lately and we just haven’t been able to make it happen.

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A lot of the trails were still icy and a bit snow covered, but it was nice to be in the out of doors anyway.

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And we made a cool discovery – a totem pole that I had never seen before.

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On our way out we did get surprised by 4 deer just hanging out.  It was a short walk, but so worth it after we saw these guys.

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And finally to top off a great day – we watched the season finale of The Walking Dead. Crazy!  Does anyone else watch this show?!? I’m not big on horror movies/shows, but this show is awesome! Can’t wait to see what will happen next season!

Have a great night!

The Long Run and Avocados

Sunday afternoon already! Sometimes I wonder where the weekend goes?!? It seems like on weekends where we don’t do much, don’t go many places, and have no real plans, the time just flies right by.  I do enjoy these weekends, but wish they lasted longer!

This afternoon B1 and I had a friend join us for our long run of 8.5 miles.  Becca came along and it was super fun to see her on the weekend (I usually only get to see her at work!) and have another runner join Noah and I! So glad you came, Becca!  Overall the run felt good, but I’m sure I’ll be feeling it tomorrow.  I’ll try to head that off with some good stretching, foam rolling, and hydration (I’m generally pretty bad at hydrating properly – something I’m trying to work on!).

Becca and me post-run.  Yes, there is still a LOT of snow on the ground everywhere.  But the sun is out today and it’s in the 40s so I’ll take it!

Don't let that all that snow fool you - it's up to 44 degrees outside!
Don’t let all that snow fool you – it’s up to 44 degrees outside!

Post-run snack? Mashed avocado with red and black pepper and Happy Salt on rice cakes (and string cheese – not pictured).  What is Happy Salt, you ask? Only one of the most delicious seasonings I’ve come across.  Originally my Aunt Sharon introduced me to it, then I went to Shipshewana on the Road (a traveling flea market) and bought about 8 bottles of the stuff…this is my last one which means I’ll either have to make a trip to the real Shipshewana in Indiana or keep my eye out for the traveling market coming to MI sometime soon. It’s salt, pepper, garlic powder (?), oregano (?)…not really sure as the exact spices are not listed. It’s a delicious secret!

Avocado rice cakes!
Avocado rice cakes!

I’m kind of obsessed with avocados and would eat them every day if I could…I love them smashed up like the photo above on rice cakes, made into guacamole, sliced with eggs, on Cobb Salad, etc., etc.  A recent discovery is that you can use a pastry cutter to smash up the avocado (also works well for mashing bananas) and it works beautifully! If you have a pastry cutter, try it!

Use a pastry cutter to mash avocados or bananas - works beautifully!
Use a pastry cutter to mash avocados or bananas – works beautifully!

Gotta run (not literally, thankfully!) – trying a new recipe for dinner – Cheesy Broccoli, Chicken and Rice Casserole.

What’s on the menu for you tonight?

Do you like (love) avocados as much as I do? How do you like to eat them?

Have a lovely week, folks!

Chorizo Mac and Cheese

Saturday turned out to be a pretty relaxing day…did some chores around the apartment, went to the grocery store, went running, cooked dinner, and did some reading.

We ended up going grocery shopping around 2 pm – along with everyone else in the Lansing area it seemed.  What a zoo!  I should know better, but at least it’s done and I don’t have to go today.

One thing I was excited about yesterday – new socks! Does anyone else get excited about such simple things? 🙂

Fun, new socks!
Fun, new socks!

 

We were supposed to run 4-5 miles according to the training plan we are “following” but ended up just over 3.5 miles. Average pace was 9:13 though so that’s good considering how extremely windy it was.  Today’s 8-9 mile run should be better – it’s pretty sunny outside and supposed to a little bit warmer today than yesterday – though not much.  But the winds are lighter today so that should make a difference.

After the afternoon run yesterday, we came home and got started on dinner.  A delicious dinner at that! Macaroni and Cheese with Chorizo – yummy! I adapted the Amateur Gourmet’s recipe which was pretty easy – though def not a one pot meal; I used about 4 different pots/pans to make all the components!

Here’s the finished product:

Chorizo Mac & Cheese
Chorizo Mac & Cheese

You’ll want to make sure you add enough salt to the cheese sauce as our finished product was a little bland – the cotija cheese is salty, yes, so I was cautious with the salt, but it needed more.  However, at the table, instead of adding salt I added this:

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One of my favorite hot sauces – a little smoky and not too vinegary.  It’s pretty much good on anything, so why wouldn’t you douse your mac and cheese with it?

This morning I made more fresh squeezed OJ! The oranges this time were much juicier than last week as I got over 2 cups of juice from just 4 oranges.

Fresh Squeezed OJ
Fresh Squeezed OJ

Along with the OJ – in the coolest glasses (thanks Emily!)….

Sugar Skull Glasses - super cool
Sugar Skull Glasses – super cool

We had pancakes for breakfast – if you didn’t know, Noah B. is the resident Pancake Master in our household.  He mixes them up the best and I’m a little scared of the flipping so he’s always in charge of the p-cakes!  We’ve recently discovered this baking mix from King Arthur (though the grocery store price is about a dollar less than what you can get it for on the website):

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So far, we’ve used it for pancakes, waffles, and the streusel coffee cake recipe on the side of the box.  That was delicious! We were using Bisquick Gluten Free mix for pancakes and that was good, but we think this mix makes pancakes that taste more like regular (non-gluten free) pancakes.

Enjoy your Sunday!

 

Chorizo Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 6 – 8 oz fresh Mexican chorizo
  • 12 oz penne rigate pasta (I used gluten-free)
  • 4 oz Cotija cheese, grated (I used pre-packaged, grated as I could not find a block of it)
  • 1 1/2 C milk (I used skim as that’s what I had on hand)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika (I used smoked)
  • 1/2 tsp. season salt
  • 1 1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 scallions, minced

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly butter a 9-inch-square or similar-sized baking dish.
  2. Cook the chorizo in a medium sized frying pan for about 10 minutes until well-browned..  Break into bite sized pieces while cooking. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess grease.
  3. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until just al dente – do not overcook; you’ll want the pasta to have a bite to it still as it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain through a colander and pour into prepared baking dish and set aside.
  4. Mix the cooked chorizo and Cotija cheese in the baking dish with the pasta.
  5. Prepare the cheese sauce.
    • Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the milk starts to steam and tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat.
    • Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the flour and stir with a flat-edge wooden paddle or whisk just until the roux begins to take on a light brown color, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, about 3 minutes.
    • Slowly add the milk, chili powder, cumin, and paprika stirring/whisking constantly until the sauce thickens enough to evenly coat the back of a spoon.
    • Remove from heat and add most of the cheddar cheese to the sauce–reserve a handful or so for topping–and stir until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir all around to coat. Top with scallions and reserved cheddar cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until crispy brown around edges. Allow the dish to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

If you want to double the recipe you can bake in a 9 X 13 pan.

Preparation time: 45 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Adapted from Amateur Gourmet’s recipe

Starting the Weekend Off Right

Good morning and welcome to the weekend!

I started coming down with a cold yesterday morning and it just got worse as the day went on.  Congested sinuses, difficulty breathing, etc…still went to work, but felt pretty crummy the whole day.  Still had a nice lunch with work peeps and Stephanie who was headed out of town since she has a few weeks off before she starts her new job.  We ate at R Club, a local restaurant across the street from our building. They have a delicious Greek salad with grilled chicken, and the house made Greek dressing is so good! No photo as I just dug right in.

There was some talk on the FB page on Tuesday of tacos so I was inspired to have tacos for dinner last night, but since coming down with a cold was not feeling super motivated and kind of just wanted to rest. So the hubs and I went to Qdoba for dinner instead. I had a Naked Burrito (though I prefer the term burrito bowl) with brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies (peppers and onions), pico de gallo, corn salsa, salsa verde, and hot salsa – it sure hit the spot and I was full after eating the entire bowl!  We also shared some of their delicious chips and guacamole.  The rest of the evening was spent at home catching up on the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, watching a couple episodes of Sons of Anarchy, and listening to part of the Michigan State basketball game (we don’t have cable).  We’re on season 3 of Sons and LOVE that show – brilliant!  Still have 4 more seasons to get all caught up!

Burrito Bowl!
Burrito Bowl!

This morning I woke up feeling okay (as far as my sinus cold goes), but with the most terrible pain in my back – must’ve slept on it weird.  Hoping some stretching, foam rolling, and maybe a short run later will take care of that.  I was feeling the need to eat some veggies, so I scavenged the minimal ingredients we had around for a super yummy breakfast – Sweet Potato Hash with a Turkey and Greens Scramble.

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Sweet Potato Hash (with carrots and bell pepper)

I diced the sweet potato in about 1/2 in. cubes, and sauteed in about a 1/2 Tbs. butter for about 5 minutes with some season salt and black pepper.  Added 1 diced carrot and cooked for about 5-10 minutes more.  Added diced green bell pepper and cooked for about 5 more minutes.

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Scrambled Eggs with Turkey and Power Greens

While the Sweet Potato Hash was finishing (after I added the peppers); I added a 1/2 Tbs. of butter to another pan and sauteed some diced turkey breast and cooked for about 3 minutes on medium-high.  Then I added Power Greens – about 1/2 – 1 C, torn up into smaller pieces.  Once those were slightly wilted (only takes about 1 minute or so), we (Noah was helping at this point) added 5 beaten eggs and scrambled together.

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Saturday morning breakfast – delicious!

This finished breakfast was so yummy!

What about you, do you like to cook breakfast at home on the weekends? Or do you prefer going out?

Noah and I love both, but usually end up cooking at home.  Sometimes if we go out for an early morning long run we’ll go out to breakfast afterwards.  We also enjoy random days off during the week and going out to breakfast.

What’re your plans for the weekend? 

We have nothing planned, per se. Probably going for a short run (3-5 miles) today at some point.  We also need to take recycling back (starting to pile up in our garage – yikes!). Also, must go grocery shopping today.  Then tomorrow is our long run – 8-9 miles. It’s supposed to be in the high 50s – 60 degrees tomorrow – a regular heat wave!

Have a fabulous Saturday!

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday and Good Morning!

Yesterday was a crazy day!  Work was weird since one of my friends quit yesterday to go work for another company 3 hours away. Stephanie’s boyfriend lives in Traverse City so they’ve been doing the long distance thing since she moved to Lansing a year and half ago.  She will be very happy not to have to only see him on the weekends and she’ll be closer to her family who will now only be 5 hours away instead of 8 like they were when she lived in Lansing!  We’ll miss Stephanie, but wish her all the best and know that this will be the best thing for her.  Plus, Noah and I will have someone to go visit in Traverse City now!

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Stephanie, me, and Noah before the Lansing 1/2 Marathon last year

Last night after work we met up with some friends in downtown Lansing for happy hour and dinner at Edmund’s.  I like this place okay – their food is usually pretty good, but the service is always really weird.  Sometimes it’s just bad service – even if they’re not busy.  Last night the service was okay, but our waitress was new and said this was her first job (ever?) so she didn’t really know about any types of beer, cider, liquor or drinks in general.  It was kind of rough, but comical none the less. She was really sweet though so that made up for it, I guess.  It was great catching up with Matt & Cassie (who are getting married in September! So excited!), Kate and Dan, and Pat and Kayla.  And my meal was delicious! I had the barbecue chicken hash which was super yummy and a new menu item since I’d last been to Edmund’s. It was their breakfast potatoes, cheese, grilled peppers and onions, topped with barbecue chicken! Yum!

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Today a group of us are going out to lunch to wish Stephanie well before she moves from Lansing. Then after work Noah and I have a 4 mile run planned.  Probably will be a quiet Friday night, but that’s okay 🙂 After all the taco talk on the FB page on Tuesday, I’m thinking tacos are on the menu for dinner tonight.

What about you, what do you have planned for Friday and the weekend?

 

Spring, Is That You?

What did you eat today?  This was my breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the work day:

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Breakfast was a green berry smoothie, mid-morning snack: a cheese stick (not pictured), lunch was so good – frozen veggies: edamame, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, and red peppers mixed with brown rice, also had the carrot sticks and the Chobani Bite yogurt. OMG that yogurt was super tasty – love the dark chocolate bits in the coffee flavored yogurt! Afternoon/pre-run snack was the celery sticks with PB (not pictured) and the banana.

The smoothie started like this:

 

Shake Beginnings

It was a variation on my Very Berry Shake.  This time I added about a 1/3 cup of oats and 2 generous handfuls of Power Greens (kale, spinach, chard), and only used strawberries and blueberries.  It was yummy! Made 2 12 oz. servings.

A couple shots from our run this evening…gorgeous!  I’m convinced that spring wants to make a permanent – at least until summer – appearance; and is giving it a valiant effort. It was 35 and sunny on our run – we’re getting there!

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We were supposed to do 4-5 miles per the half-marathon training plan, but ended up with 2.91. Those less than 3 miles were all a decent pace (about 9:25) so I was okay with that.

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And what about that guy? Can you see him? Way up there? Noah B. left me in his dust! I was riding the struggle bus for sure, but not Noah! Good work!

Next run scheduled for Friday…on tap for tomorrow – happy hour with some friends! Super excited!

Do you pack your lunch? Eat out?

I normally (90% of the time) pack my lunch.

 

More Houses and Pizza

Just another day in paradise…after work Noah and I met with our real estate agent to see 3 more houses. One of them was a second look and we’re probably going to make an offer. However, until we get our inspection and everything checks out okay I’m not holding out too much hope. I am however remaining cautiously optimistic.

Because we got home late and there was no time to make dinner and no leftovers to eat, we had pizza! The only piece of mail we received was a coupon from Marco’s Pizza. So it just seemed like the right thing to do (and probably better than our other option – McDonald’s). Not the best – certainly not as good as Hungry Howie’s as far as chain pizza goes – but tasty none the less. And what were our two toppings? Olives, of course! And pepperoni too.  We enjoyed our pizza while watching Monday’s The Blacklist episode. Liz finally found out the truth about Tom! Yay!

What’re your favorite pizza toppings? Does anyone else watch The Blacklist?

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Dinner Fail

No good photos of tonight’s dinner to share as it was a semi-fail…grilled smoked sausage with onions and peppers – that was tasty, but the roasted broccoli? Meh. It seems like everyone in the food blogging world, Pinterest, and Facebook is raving about roasted broccoli. My roasted broccoli – seasoned with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper – was way undercooked and just kind of blah. The recipe I “followed” called for it to roast for 15-20 minutes…mine would’ve needed about 30 minutes to be right. Oh well, it was still edible and even Noah B. (who is not a broccoli super fan) ate it. I sprinkled a few {read – many} drops of red wine vinegar on it and that was a slight improvement…

The house hunting on Sunday was another fail. But hey, there’re other houses out there, right? The right one for the B Team will reveal itself when the time is right I suppose. Tomorrow we are going to see a house we liked for a 2nd time – maybe we’ll decide it’s the one? I woke up this morning very frustrated about the house hunt, but in my Daily Quote email from Real Simple was this:
Patience and the passing of time do more than strength or fury.
– Jean de la Fontaine

Something I should keep in mind always 🙂

;

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Saturday and the Very Berry Shake

All in all yesterday was a nice little Saturday: hung out in the morning lounging about; then early afternoon went out for a 7.62 mile run with B1 aka Noah B aka The Hubs (half marathon in 5 weeks!).  After the delicious apple spice baked oatmeal for breakfast I only had a half a banana and a couple graham crackers before the run.  When we got home I was hungry for something, but didn’t really know what so I made a protein shake. Yum yum!

Pre-run pic….no pics afterward, but we didn’t look quite this perky. B1 and I will be running in the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo, OH on April 27.  This winter has really kicked my running butt.  The last 2 years that I’ve been running outside in the winter it’s been fairly mild and we haven’t had to contend with too much snow and ice.  Not this year.  It’s been rough, really rough.  Spring is finally starting to show it’s face in that the pavement’s mostly dry and I don’t feel like I’m going to break my ankle every time I go out for a run.

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I generally buy berries when they’re on sale, but that usually means I end up buying too many and can’t eat them all fresh before they go bad.  So, instead of wasting them, I throw them in a baggie and put them in the freezer – then I have frozen berries on hand when I need to make a delicious smoothie or shake.  See the Very Berry Shake recipe below!  Buying the berries fresh and then freezing themprobably saves some money as well since those bags of frozen berries/fruit can be pretty pricey if they’re not on sale.

Very Berry Shake

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1 C Frozen Berries (I used combo of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries)

½ Banana (I used frozen)

1 C Almond Milk (I used Unsweetened Vanilla – you could use regular milk, coconut water, regular water)

½ scoop Vanilla Protein Powder

1 dollop Almond Butter (approx. 2 Tbs)

1 tsp Flax Seed

Blend and enjoy!

(Makes about 20 oz – 2 small servings or 1 healthy serving)

* The almond butter in this shake makes it creamy and gives it a delicious richness. This was pretty thick and super tasty!

Today we are:

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(drawing by B1)

This afternoon we’re meeting with our real estate agent to look at more houses. We’ve already found 2 that we liked enough to put offers in on, but they both had water issues so alas, no house for us yet. Onward and upward! Maybe 3rd time’s the charm, right? Happy Sunday!

First Post….Whoo!

Hello!

Finally taking the leap and starting my own blog.  Slightly scary and very exciting!

I love food, cooking, baking, having fun, and {mostly} healthy living.  I also have a passion for nutrition and eating right.  I look forward to sharing recipes, tips and tricks for good nutrition and healthy living, and my life adventures.

Without further ado – let’s get the party started with a recipe!  This morning’s breakfast of baked oatmeal came together quickly and was the result of having no breakfast meats in the apartment (so sad, I know).  This was one of the best versions of baked oatmeal I’ve had/made thus far. Super yummy – and hubby approved! Thanks for the recipe inspiration Eat.Drink.Love.

Apple Spice Baked Oatmeal

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Ingredients

  • 2 C. old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 C. dried fruit – I used half dried cranberries and raisins
  • 1/3 C. chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Gala apple, cored and chopped into cubes
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2 C. milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 3-qt (approx) baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the oats, dried fruit, walnuts, sugar, spices, salt, and apple together in a bowl.
  3. Mix the vanilla and honey with the melted butter.  Pour in the butter mixture over the oats and stir until well-combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
  5. Pour the milk over the oat mixture so that it’s evenly distributed.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the milk is mostly absorbed.
  7. Serve with additional milk and syrup if desired.

Enjoy!

And please come back to The Nourished Olive for more food, fun, and adventures!