New Accomplishment, New Gadgets, & A New Dinner

WOW! Well today was definitely an exciting day for Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life…

I was Freshly Pressed!

Just in case you’re wondering, “Courtney, what the heck are you talking about?” –

Each weekday, WordPress.com (which is where I host my blog) selects about ten new blog posts for the Freshly Pressed section of the WordPress.com homepage. These posts represent how WordPress can be used to entertain, enlighten, or inspire.

Pretty cool, right? Especially considering there’s well over 300,000 blogs on WordPress! 😯 Being “Freshly Pressed” has made my post on the Twinkie Diet rather interesting to read…I’ve had SO MANY great comments about it so far. Who would have thought it’d be such a hot topic! Have you weighed in yet?? 😉

Alright, let’s back it up here…

Breakfast

A couple lightly toasted pieces of my Farmer’s Market whole wheat bread,

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which I spread with some fabulous toppings: one half got a simple PB + banana treatment, but the OTHE got a little PB + a smear of pumpkin cream cheese + banana. It was phenomenal. This combo will be happening again. YUM! 😛

Also enjoyed was some wonderful Caramel Macchiato coffee…I’m only a few pots worth away from being OUT of this stuff. Then it’s on to the Christmas Blend!

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No photos ended up being taken of lunch today. It was a rather busy afternoon which consisted of about 10 minutes to shovel everything in. (Major bummer when that happens). But luckily, I was still able to taste at least a little of the delicious pumpkin oats that I packed up with me. Pumpkin oats are good at any time of day if you ask me. 😉

Workout

After work today, I headed home to test out the NEW TREADMILL! :mrgreen:

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This thing is pretty bad-ass. 😉

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For those of you who asked yesterday, Jay and I did a lot of researching before we finally decided on a winner. We bought the NordicTrack C 900 from Sears, which so far totally rocks.

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Some of my favorite features:

  • It has 20 built-in workout programs to choose from, (5 high intensity, 5 speed, 5 incline or 5 calorie-burn workouts)
  • 1-Touch Speed & Incline buttons (so no more wrestling with the up/down arrows!) 😀
  • It’s iFit Live compatible which seems REALLY awesome, but I have to look into it a little more…unfortunately, there’s an extra cost to it (I think around $200?) But hey, Christmas is right around the corner! 😉

My first encounter with this monster machine turned out to be fab-o: 4.2 miles in 43 minutes, with the last 10 minutes between a 4.5-3.5mph walking pace. WOOT WOOT!

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After finishing up my run, I headed upstairs to do a little yoga from Exercise on Demand. Today’s choice: ELLE Make Better Yoga. It was definitely a change of pace from the video I had been doing, but I actually really enjoyed it. I felt so long and lean after!

Dinner

My cravings were all over the place with dinner tonight, but I knew I was in need of some veggies and whole grains (I guess all that reading about Twinkies earlier did me in) 😉

I started by roasting up some zucchini & yellow squash…just a little spray of PAM, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Super easy!

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Then I ended up making a “Tuna & Rice” salad of sorts, which really came together rather nicely.IMG_6202

I cooked up 1 cup of rice, mixed it with 1 can of tuna, and then just started adding whatever I could get my hands on: diced tomatoes, pepper, onion, sweet vidalia onion relish, about 1-2 tbsp sour cream, salt, chili powder, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and cumin.

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A little random I suppose, but I really liked it! Better yet, I don’t think I ate even half of what this made, so I have leftovers all set for tomorrow. LOVE that.

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About halfway through eating this, I decided that the salad would be delicious if I scooped it up with some tortilla chips…

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So I got them. And it was delicious. I definitely did a little damage to this bag. 😉

Now it’s time to go get comfy on the couch and watch a little One Tree Hill!

Question for the Evening:

What’s the last “throw everything together” meal you made that was a hit (or miss!)?

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Packed & Prepped In Less Than 5

Alright folks, it’s Monday, so I’m sure you’re probably expecting to see a “Monday Usual” on the horizon, right?

Ahhh haaaaaa! Looks like I fool you today, because I decided to switch things up a bit! Mwahahaha.

Thanks to having some leftover roasted veggies, lunch was prepped and packed all in about five minutes…what’s not to love about that?!? 😉

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I started with a Spring Mix base, topped it with a BUNCH of leftover veggies, some roasted red peppers, and reduced-fat feta cheese.

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Simple, yet totally delicious! 😀

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I also packed up some Kashi Honey Sesame crackers (which I may or may not have a slight addiction to…)

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And a pretty gala apple. I think behind a golden delicious, galas are probably #2 on my list. 😛

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I’m definitely excited about this combo today!

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Question for the Afternoon:

What’s your favorite type of apple?? 😛

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!

The Customizable Dinner Bowl

Thank you to everyone who offered up some tips and advice on dealing with stress. I know things could absolutely be worse, so I’m trying my best to keep a positive attitude about it all. Besides, I am going to VEGAS…that is definitely something to be excited about!! 😀

But, that doesn’t mean I still didn’t need one of these while prepping dinner. 😉

Vino!

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I was also lucky enough to have some company in the kitchen tonight…

Don’t worry Mom, everything will be ok!…Alright, now where’s my treats?”

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A few minutes later, I turned around him to find him after none else than my SWAG BAG!! At least I know he’s got good taste!

C’mon Mom, just a little bite of the Glo Bar? No? How about some Pop Chips?”

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Dinner

Finally, a home cooked dinner! 😀 The main ingredient tonight was in the form of chicken sausage:

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I picked up a package of this Bilinski’s Spinach & Feta chicken sausage a couple weeks ago, and it’s been waiting very patiently in the freezer for me.

Yummmm!

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To make the main course, I simply cooked up some Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta, while roasting some zucchini, yellow squash, & cauliflower in the oven. I mixed it all up with the sliced chicken sausage, a little roasted red pepper vinaigrette, and some fat-free Athenos feta.

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It was amazingly delicious and super easy to make. The best part, is that’ it’s really totally customizable to what you like.

You need:

  • A pasta/grain choice (whole wheat pasta, veggie pasta, wheatberries, brown rice, etc.)
  • A protein choice (chicken sausage, chicken, tofu, shrimp, etc.)
  • Some veggie choices (roasted, grilled, sautéed, etc.)
  • A dressing/sauce (red sauce, vinaigrette, garlic & oil, creamy, etc.)
  • A cheese choice, if you want (feta, parmesan, goat, etc.)

The possibilities are virtually endless. No lengthy recipes required here…just go with what you’re craving!

Now if I could only figure out a way to make it with about half the amount of pots/pans/dishes I used… 😉

Question for the Night:

Do you have a favorite “go-to” dinner meal?

Are You “Jellin”?

As much as I enjoy weekends full of barbecues, treats, and other fun eats, it definitely puts me a little on the sluggish side.  It’s amazing how much of a difference I feel when I don’t get my typical veggie/fruit/healthy protein intake. 

Knowing in advance that tonight’s dinner is going to be similar to this weekend’s eats (more on that tonight 😉 ) I wanted to get in lots of the good stuff at lunch!

I started things off with a delicious roasted veggie salad!

I topped some romaine lettuce with grape tomatoes, and a big serving of the roasted veggies that I cooked up yesterday.  LOVE having them all ready to go!

I also added in a raspberry flavored Chobani, which I must say is right up there at the top of my favorites list!  This flavor was totally YUMMY all by itself  (I usually like some “mix-ins” in my yogurt…aka, “yogurt messes”) 🙂

I rounded things out with a new flavor of my Livin’ Spoonful Crackers: Coconut Curry!

Ok, so I’m not gonna lie…I’m a little bit of a wimp when it comes to any sort of spicy food.  Yup, mild salsa can sometimes leave me pining for a a big glass of water.  So when I tried this flavor on its own, it definitely had my grabbing for my water bottle!  However, when I crushed them up and mixed them into my veggie salad, it was a whole other story!  That was delish! 😉

Ok, so has anyone seen the “blast from the past” trend that’s making its way back???

See by Chloe jelly sandal

Who remembers Jellies?!?! 😉

My gosh, how I loved my jellies back in elementary school.  I longed for them, just HAD to have them!  I can remember my favorite pair was dark blue with sparkles.  I wore them with everything – dresses, mesh shorts, jeans, pajamas, you name it!  Oh yes, I was rockin’ the style!  I guess as the years passed, I had just forgotten about the jelly…but now they’re back and they’re all over!

Tons of stores and designers are now jumping on the bandwagon, creating their own unique styles with a wide range of price tags…

Gap – $12.50

Even Louis Vuitton has joined the trend…coming in with a hefty $340 price tag!!  Can you imagine?!?!

As for me, I’m not sure I’ll be jumping back on the recreated “Jelly” bandwagon.  While I adored them when I was 10, I’d say my styles have changed a bit from then.

But what do YOU think about the jelly shoes? 

Are they a “Do” or a “DON’T”??? 🙂

Sweet Potato Risotto

Well guys, after work today, I was WIPED, so I decided to skip the workout and just chill out on the couch.  I weighed the pros and cons of attempting a run, and I realized that it just wasn’t worth it today…no sense in pushing myself into a bigger headache, right?  Hopefully I’ll be back to my normal self tomorrow 😀

Luckily, this sinus headache couldn’t keep me out of the kitchen tonight 😉

I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for a couple weeks now, but it just kept getting “thrown to the back burner” (no pun intended!)  WARNING – DELICIOUS RECIPE AHEAD!! 😀

Sweet Potato Risotto!

I found this recipe last year from Real Simple (LOVE that site by the way!).  Click here if you want to see the whole recipe.

I started by sauteing up some onions in a little EVOO, salt & pepper.

Then, you add in your cubed sweet potatoes & minced garlic.

At this point, the aroma in this house was AMAZING.  I love the smell of sauteed onions & garlic…YUMM! 😛

Next, you add in your risotto.  I really like the brand I used, which is

Della Gourmet Rice.  It cooked up great and wasn’t too expensive either!

After adding the rice, I added in a little white wine, and then it was time to start adding the water.  It took about 25 minutes from starting to add the water, until the end.  Yes, it is a little more time consuming, but I actually find cooking the risotto very relaxing.  Standing there, stirring away, gave me some quiet time to just relax and take in the moment.  I wish I had more opportunities to cook like this with no distractions! 🙂

About halfway through, the risotto is startin’ to get puffy! 🙂

After I finished adding the water (3/4 cup at a time, waiting each time for the previous pour to fully absorb), it was time to stir in the CHEESE and some oregano!  Once things got cozy in the pot, it was time for dinner to be served! 😛

This batch turned out so nice and creamy!  I really ❤ risotto…especially when there’s some sweet ‘taters in there! 😉

I also quickly roasted up some yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli, and grape tomatoes to complement the main dish.

If you decide to make this DELISH dish, just be warned – you’re going to have a BUNCH of leftovers (which is A-OK with me!). 😀

Due to the rain, our softball game for tonight was canceled, so I’m off to catch up with my One Tree Hill that I have DVR’d from yesterday, then it’s early to bed for this girl!

What’s your favorite risotto dish?  I’d love to try some new recipes!! 😀

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bran Muffins

Woah, baby, am I gonna be SORE tomorrow!!  After work, I went to BodyPump, and apparently it decided it wanted to kick my butt.  I don’t know what the deal was?  I know it’s been almost a week since my last class, I didn’t up my weights, and all the tracks were the same.  But for some reason, my muscles were a-shakin’ during tonight’s class and I can already feel the muscle fatigue!  But that’s ok, it’ll be a good sore 😉  Before class, I ran for about 20 minutes on the treadmill – I would give you my actual distance BUT, I accidentally hit the STOP button 7 minutes in, so I had to restart. UGH!  I would have to guess maybe around 1.75 miles?

By the time I got home, I was absolutely ravenous and was like a tornado going through the kitchen.  I think I ended up eating about 5 kashi crackers, a fork full of leftover bbq pulled chicken, and a couple pretzels before even stopping to decide on an actual dinner.  YIKES!  Luckily, I had a quick option available for me…leftover bbq chicken, thrown together to make a delicious BBQ Chicken Wrap 🙂

Mmmm, and the rest of my leftover roasted veggies.  Looks like it’s time to get roastin’ again 😉

For my wrap, I started with a La Tortilla Factory whole wheat wrap (aka, DA BOMB), and filled ‘er up with a nice big ‘ol scoop of leftover BBQ Pulled Chicken, about 1/2 a wedge of the Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese, some romaine lettuce, and an extra drizzle of bbq sauce.  I popped it in the micro for about 20 seconds just to get things cookin, and then I chowed 😀

After dinner, I decided to so a little baking!  I’ve had this box of bran muffin mix from Hodgson Mill for a little while now, and decided to give it a whirl.

I wanted to “jazz up” my bran muffins a little bit, so I added in some chopped apple & golden raisins for my “fixins'” 🙂

(Cody was also helping me bake, as you can see…)

Sorry, this stuff was not going to photograph pretty! 😉


The recipe called for butter or vegetable oil, but I used canola.  And instead of 2% milk, I used my almond milk.  Here’s the final recipe!

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bran Muffins

-1 box Hodgson Mill Bran Muffin Mix

-1 tbsp. canola oil

-1/2 cup Silk Pure Vanilla Almond Milk

-1 egg

-1/2 cup chopped apples & raisins

-Sprinkle & a Shake of cinnamon 😉

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine muffin mix, canola oil, milk, egg, and cinnamon.  Stir in apple & raisin fix-ins.
  3. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Line 6-7 muffin tins with liners or spray with cooking spray.  Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.

These babies had my kitchen smellin’ YUMMY! 😀  I’m sure they’d be really yummy with chocolate chips or blueberries, which I may have to try next time.  I think I’m going to have to get my hands on one of these before I sit down to watch my fave Wednesday night shows – Modern Family & Cougar Town!


Does anyone else watch Cougar Town??

(I know I’ve asked this before, but I need to know I’m not the only one sitting laughing hysterically at this show!) 😀