Tops is TOPS!

Today has definitely been one of those days that is just “GO GO GO” – from 5:30am this morning, until 9:00pm tonight, when we finally walked in the door.

Nonetheless, despite being super busy, it has been rather productive!

Workout

At 5:05am this morning, my alarm was definitely not on my good side. After the second round of “snoozing” I really debated on skipping my AM workout all together. However, I knew I’d be mad at myself if I didn’t get up (since I really didn’t have a good excuse), so I sucked it up and tumbled out of bed. I had already planned on doing the Rock Hard Total Body Workout on Exercise on Demand…I was wicked excited when I found out it was back on! I can already tell I’m going to be sore tomorrow…LOVE that. 😉

Breakfast

An exact repeat from yesterday…so I’m “recycling” yesterday’s photos. 🙂

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The only difference was that BOTH pieces got the pumpkin cream cheese + PB + banana treatment today. It was absolutely fantastic!

So was my Caramel Macchiato coffee. 😉

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Lunch

Thanks to my enormous “Tuna & Rice” salad from last night, I had plenty of leftovers to incorporate into today’s lunch:

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I took a big ‘ol scoop of leftover salad, along with some leftover roasted veggies, and added a little romaine base for some added bulk. It was just as good the second time around!

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I also enjoyed a nice crisp Gala. It was so sweet and juicy…yummmm. 😛

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After work began my afternoon of errands…one of which included a flu shot. BLECH. Needles really don’t bother me at all, so it’s not that; it’s more the fact that every year I get a flu shot, I always end up getting “sick” with cold-like symptoms from it a few days later. If it wasn’t for my darn asthma, I don’t know if I’d even get one…keeping my fingers crossed for this year! 😯

I started feeling a little sluggish this afternoon, so I decided to stop for a little caffeine pick-me-up. It did nothing for my energy, but it still tasted delish.

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After finishing up some more errands, Jay and I decided to stop for some dinner. We were out in the Schenectady area, which we aren’t usually near, but I was pretty excited because there’s a restaurant out there I’ve been dying to try: Tops American Grill, Bakery, & Bar.

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I thought the inside was so cute! It definitely had a fun, welcoming look to it. And how ‘bout those palm trees? 🙂

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For my dinner, I ended up choosing something totally random: Roast Beef. I can’t even tell you when the last time was that I ordered roast beef. Years, probably.

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What I can tell you though, is that I’m so glad I did. It was delicious! Roast beef, provolone, roasted red peppers, lettuce, & tomato in a garlic and herb wrap. It also came with horseradish mayo, which I got on the side.

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As good as the wrap was, the sweet potato fries were what stole the show on this plate…

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I’m tempted to say that these may be the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. As soon as I started eating them, I kept getting this weird taste of “doughnuts” – I mentioned it to Jay, who initially thought I was nuts.

A minute or two later though, and all of a sudden, hubby was on the same page with me! We both agreed that there was definitely a doughnut flavor coming from somewhere inside of these. Incredibly odd? Yes. Gross to some? Maybe. But they were right up my alley.

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As soon as you walk through the doors of Tops, you are face-to-face with a mouth-watering display case of homemade desserts. I had been thinking about that case from the second we sat down, so I knew I was not leaving there without some. I decided to save half of my wrap, so I could indulge in a little big slice of heaven:

Oh chocolate, you are so divine.

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Jay and I split a piece of their Chocolate Mousse Torte

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Which we obviously hated. 😉

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I’m so thankful for the fact that I have the day OFF tomorrow! (Thank you, Veterans!) I’m really in need of some extra zzzz’s tonight, and I have a good amount of housework to catch up on tomorrow too. But for now…it’s time to go start on those zzzz’s! 🙂

Question for the Night:

Have you ever eaten foods that remind you (either taste or smell) of a completely different food?

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Dinner at Lanie’s Cafe

It’s always nice to have something to look forward to after a long day of work…especially when it’s on a Monday!

Knowing that I had a nice dinner out planned for this evening definitely seemed to make my Monday go a whole heck of a lot smoother. I think I just may have to plan something like this every Monday. 😉

Before dinner, however, comes lunch…and today’s was simple but super yummy!

I started with a delicious fruit + cottage cheese bowl. Whatcha see there is about 3/4 cup of 1% cottage cheese, a delicious diced pear, and a hefty tablespoon of pumpkin butter. Note to Self: I’m really regretting not buying more of this at Trader Joes this weekend. It’s diminishing quickly. Crap. 😳

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Lunch also included one of my new Spooky S’mores Clif Z Bars. It was just as good as I had hoped, but I actually think Honey Graham is still tops on my list. 😯

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I also included some fresh carrots + grape tomatoes + hommus to round out today’s lunch. Like I said, simple yet satisfying!

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Dinner

Tonight’s special dinner plans brought us to one of my favorite restaurants, Lanie’s Cafe. Jay’s parents had a gift certificate and kindly asked us to join them. 🙂

So I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t distracted all day long trying to decide what I was going to get for dinner tonight. I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about the amazing meal of salad bar + veggie quesadillas from the last time Jay and I visited:

Absolutely delicious right there. So delicious, in fact that I was pretty positive that tonight was going to be a repeat order; however, last minute I totally changed my mind. I don’t know what happened?!?

I started off with a trip to the salad bar. LOVE their salad bar! They have some of the best homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Yummm. 😛

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Then for my dinner, I ordered the Shrimp Ryan: Fresh jumbo shrimp sautéed with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and baby spinach, served in homemade scampi sauce with diced roasted red peppers over pasta.

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It was good, but nothing too exciting. I ate all except for one of the shrimp, and most of the veggies. I left most of the pasta behind…looking at my “finished” plate was quite amusing since it appeared as if I hadn’t even made a dent! 😯

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After dinner, Jay and I made a quick stop at The Fresh Market to pick up some coffee since we were completely out this morning! We had planned on just picking up some Breakfast Blend…but that was before we tried one of their samples they were offering…and then we ended up buying this:

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I know, I know! Christmas Blend?!? Seriously Courtney??? I honestly debated the whole purchase for all of about 15 seconds, solely based on the fact that it said Christmas Blend (it’s still Pumpkin Season folks!). However, I absolutely fell in love with the sample I tried. I was hooked.

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And then I saw it packaged with some Caramel Macchiato…and there was no question. I’m psyched! Now I just need to figure out which one to brew for tomorrow morning. 😉

Time to go relax on the couch! Hope everyone had a Magnificent Monday!!

Question for the Evening:

When going out to eat, do you ever scope out menus before going to the restaurant?

Comfort Food Back Home

After a long hard day of work, (especially being a Monday), there are certain things that just totally appeal to my senses:

  • My big cozy couch
  • Changing into my sweats as quickly as possible
  • A nice chilled glass of wine
  • Or, depending on the day, a nice cold beer 😉
  • Coming home to my boys
  • Turning on the Food Network/Scrubs reruns/catching up on the DVR
  • Reading a magazine

As nice as these things you see above are, there’s one more thing that will totally take precedence over them all…going home for Mom’s Cooking!

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Tonight, Jay and I headed over to my parents’ house for a delicious home cooked meal. But it wasn’t just any meal. Oh no my friends…

Mom broke out her homemade sauce for a full chicken parm dinner! :mrgreen: My tummy had seriously been grumbling for it all.day.long.

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Seriously. Just look at all that cheese! Comfort food at its finest. 🙂

Before I continue, let me quickly take a moment to share with you exactly why this situation was so wonderful:

  • I went and ate dinner in my “cozies” because, hey, it’s my parents. They’re not ones to judge!
  • I got to spend time with my parents (who I haven’t gotten to see nearly as much as I’d like these days…)
  • I also got to see my fave brother and Meg!

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  • There are few foods on the face of this Earth I enjoy more than my mom’s homemade sauce.
  • I had a delicious, home cooked meal…and I didn’t have to do any of the cooking. 😉

Here’s my plate! I ate probably 2/3 of it?…Ok, maybe 3/4. 😉

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Believe it or not, I actually requested the tiny piece…yes, that’s the tiny piece! 😯

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And of course, with all that delicious sauce, you’re going to need a big fantastic side of pasta. No whole grain pasta in this house. Oh no…I’m almost positive that when I first moved out, that’s one of the first things they switched back to. 😉 Hey, sometimes, nothin’ beats some regular ‘ol ziti noodles, am I right?

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And at this point, when you still have loads of delicious sauce hanging out on your plate, what’s a few more carbs to soak it all up with. 😉

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I’ll tell ya it’s a good thing I don’t eat like this everyday…otherwise I’m not sure I’d fit through my front door. 😯 But for a once-in-a-while treat, there’s really nothing better than Mom’s homemade chicken parm. Yummmm. 😛

Question for the Evening:

Do you have a favorite meal from growing up that someone made/makes for you?

I’ve Reached My Quota…

Whew, today has been another long day! 🙄

After work, I rushed home, took care of a few things around the house, and then met Jay (in the driveway) so we could rush up to another place to check out the kitchen stuff. As much as I love trying to find the best deal, this “shopping around” stuff isn’t nearly as fun when you have nothing to show for your shopping! 😉

Either way, I think we’re making good progress, and we were both very happy with the people we met with today. Hopefully they’ll come back with some good numbers. Fingers crossed!

Eventually, it was time to stop for dinner, so we stopped at a local favorite, Grecian Gardens.

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Grecian Gardens has some great menu items, all for a great price, but my favorite dish from here is the pizza! It’s definitely in my Top 5 for local pizzas. 😛

I got a dinner salad to start, which was basically your typical side salad, but still tasty nonetheless. It came with their house, homemade Greek dressing, which is awesome.

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For my dinner, it was definitely pizza, all the way!

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I ordered a small 6-cut of my favorite, the Grecian’s Veggie Pizza, which is broccoli, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts. Just LOOK at all the veggies!! 😯

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I love when places load up on the veggies! Plus, they don’t use too much cheese here, which is totally right up my alley. This stuff is DA BOMB. 😀

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I was starving by the time we got our food, so I ended up eating 3 pieces. I tried to stop at 2, but it just kept staring back at me saying, “Eeeeeat Meeee!”

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So I obliged. 😉 And now I still have half a pizza of leftovers AND my stomach is thoroughly STUFFED with all the veggies from today. I’d say I definitely reached my quota PLUS made up for any lacking veggies yesterday. My tummy is definitely feelin’ it now. 😳

Time to get myself ready for tomorrow so I can get to bed at a decent hour…no excuses for this gal to not get up for a workout in the morning!

Question for the Night:

What’s your favorite type of pizza or pizza topping? Do you have a favorite restaurant?

Crockpots Rock My Socks

I just love having company over for dinner! 😀

Tonight, Joe & Kate made their way over for dinner to help us make a dent in one of my favorite recipes: Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken.

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This good stuff had been cookin’ away all day in the Crockpot, and was ready for the taking! Aren’t Crockpots the best?!? 🙂

Along with our chicken, we enjoyed some other yummy dishes:

Sweet Potato Fries

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Lemon Garlic & Herb Corn on the Cob (courtesy of Kate!) 🙂

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Suuuuuper Cheesy Mac & Cheese

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And the most amazing Corn Bread on the planet! 😯

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The corn bread + mac & cheese actually came from my local grocery store, Price Chopper. Every Wednesday, they offer a $10 “Meal Deal” and today was the first day I decided to go for it. Not only did we get these two side dishes (which I knew would be perfect for tonight) but we also got a 3-liter of water AND we have a whole roasters chicken waiting for us in the fridge! Talk about a bargain. 🙂

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My plate for tonight:

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You can also add another piece of cornbread to that mix…I probably could have eaten the entire tray of it. 😳

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And of course, what meal is complete without a little DEEEEEssert???

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Kate is the BOMB. She brought over a homemade Apple Gallette to share with us tonight. Does that not look fantastic??? Well let me tell you…not only does it LOOK fantastic, but it TASTED phenomenal!! I have to get the recipe from her. 😉

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Alrighty folks, my tummy is officially stuffed and it’s past my bedtime…see ya’ll in the morning! 🙂

Baked Pasta with Pumpkin, Roasted Veggies, & Chicken

So how’s everybody’s Saturday going??

My Saturday turned out to be pretty fantastic, despite a less-than-stellar turnout for our garage sale today. Even though we only ended up making $15.00 (a full $100 LESS than yesterday!), we still have a way to get rid of almost ALL of our leftovers, thanks to Jay’s mom. Thank GOODNESS…and good riddance!! 😀

After closing up shop at the sale, I decided to pop in our wedding video and watch that. I’ve been wanting to watch it for a while now, and boy I’ll tell ya…that video gets me every time. This resulted in a good hour and a half of my afternoon with me simultaneously laughing and balling my eyes out. Happy tears of course! 😀

After an unexpected afternoon nap (which I hardly ever do, but think I need to try it more often) it was time to start making some dinner.

And let me tell you…tonight’s dinner was, in one word: epic.

While getting things prepped in the kitchen, I sipped on a fab glass of vino. In my opinion, it’s the best way to cook. 😉

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And apparently, it also helps in the creation of one phenomenal meal…

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Had I anticipated this becoming such a great concoction, I probably would have taken some photos of my prep, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Here’s how things went down…

-Earlier in the day, I roasted up a big batch of veggies under the assumption they would probably be used tonight. I just wasn’t sure how.

-Then, I realized we had a big pack of chicken breasts in the fridge that needed to be separated and frozen, so I figured that I would incorporate some of that too.

-Then a commercial for Olive Garden came on television, and a huge hankering for pasta came swarming over me…

aaaaand the rest is history. 🙂

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I think one of my favorite parts about this meal is that it was created entirely without a recipe. I was a free woman in the kitchen, and I LOVED IT. I wish I had that confidence all the time!

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And do you want to know the best part of this meal?? It even incorporated my current food obsession: pumpkin!! 😯

(Jay still doesn’t know there was pumpkin in the recipe…mwaaahahaha!) 😉

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Check out the stringy cheese…mmmmm. 😛

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I really didn’t do too much measuring of anything, but I have a pretty good idea; so without further ado, let me share with you my fabulous creation for…

Baked Pasta with Pumpkin, Roasted Veggies, & Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 oz. Carba Nada pasta (I eyeballed it…any pasta would be fine)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large boneless & skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups roasted veggies (I used zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, & carrots)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1-1 1/2 cups part skim mozzarella, freshly shredded
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta al dente, drain & set aside. Heat olive oil in a pan. Saute chicken pieces a few minutes & then add onion & garlic. Cook for a few minutes until almost cooked through.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, cooked chicken mixture, marinara sauce, pumpkin, cheeses, peas, dried basil, salt, pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into an11x7 inch pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Top with a light sprinkling of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

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I served our baked pasta dish with some simple mixed greens, drizzled with a little Ken’s Light Balsamic Vinaigrette. It turned out to be the perfect accompaniment!

And better yet, my “wing-it” portions ended up leaving us with tons of leftovers…which is A-OK with me! 🙂

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Jay and I are planning on spending the rest of our evening low-key, on the couch, catching up with our DVR, and enjoying a little dessert that came our way today…

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Jay’s parents took a trip out to Vermont today, and on their way back, stopped by to drop off some goodies they picked up for us. Jay got a box of his favorites, chocolate-covered cherries, while I got an assortment of various caramel-filled chocolates. Ummm, could it get any better???

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Actually, it did…when I realized there was a whole bottom layer in the box. 😯

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Looks like a perfect way to end my Saturday!

Question for the Night:

Do you ever use pumpkin in savory dishes?

I need to try this more often!

Finger Lickin’ Good!

Today after work, Jay and I went to do a little more investigating of some kitchen renovation stuff. After talking to another company, we’re really hopeful for how things could turn out with them. We’re keeping our fingers crossed! I just want to have it done…NOW. I’m really not good with the waiting game thing. However, one thing that I’m NOT looking forward to is not having a working kitchen.

Oh the HORRORS!

It could certainly make for an interesting few weeks on the healthy living blog with no kitchen. Perhaps I’ll have to look at it as a challenge?!?!? 😀

Dinner

Jay and I decided to stop by a local pub that just opened up this summer down the road from us. The place was super neat inside, very old-school and rustic. I didn’t take many photos tonight, but we both definitely plan on returning, so I’ll have to do my full review then.

I ended up ordering the Roasted Turkey Wrap, which was oven-roasted turkey, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and cranberry mayo. Very rarely will I choose mayo for my condiment of choice (not because it doesn’t taste awesome, but because it’s an easy area to save some calories) – but when you tell me cranberry mayo, I’m game. 😉

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I ate half the wrap, and told Jay he could take the other half with him for his lunch tomorrow. Aren’t I sweet? 🙂 I also had a good portion of the fries (yup, I ate ‘em, and they tasted phenomenal…we all need a couple fries every now and then, right?) and ALL of that delicious pickle. I love pickles…maybe not as much as Snooki, but I still love ‘em. ;) 

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And for dessert?

A No Pudge Caramel Swirl BROWNIE!!

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Just look at these things! Mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm…finger lickin’ good. 😛

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Alrighty friends, it’s late, and I need some sleep! Hey, did ya hear…it’s FRIDAY tomorrow! WOOO HOOO!

G’Night!! 😀