Weekend Happenings

This weekend was a weekend for us.  Daniel and I said to each other all week “Just make it to the weekend”–we were just so excited to FINALLY have a weekend that didn’t include traveling, weddings (though we loved every one!!) or commitments.  Happy as we were to spend a summer filled with friends, family and love, it felt as though every weekend was filled to the brim with packing, driving, hotels and constant trips to the ATM.  Although we really did love every moment celebrating with loved ones, it exhausted us individually and as a couple.  It was nice to finally have breathing room.  To wake up on a Saturday morning and not *have* to get out of bed.

Friday night Dan and I had a date, which is a bit of an oddity since we live together (and have for over 2 years) and we’re over 4 years past the point of him picking me up for a date filled with nervous butterflies and sweaty palms.  Although I still get butterflies when I see him (bedhead, sweatpants and all) it’s nice to find time to rekindle the love that brought us together in the first place.  Our original plans were to go to an amazing sushi restaurant out of town, but the weather was just perfect, so we canceled our reservations and decided to spend a night hopping around town.  We hit up happy hour for a drink, and then mosied across the bridge for some appetizers.  What used to be late nights out on the town turned into conversations over candlelight and an evening spent cuddling on the couch.  It was exactly what we hoped for.

Saturday morning found us on the couch, sipping coffee with blankets as the cool weather continues to roll in.  We were also greeted by a CRAZY cat who looked like she had gotten into some nip.  We have no nip in the house (due to a prior unfortunate incident) so I’m not exactly sure who Pumpkin hung out with last night but whatever happened sure did a number on her.

Attack/Love The Bag

I’ve never seen her go so crazy for the camera bag before.  One minute she was rubbing up on it, and the next minute she was batting at it as though it had done something fiercely evil to her.

Too Much Energy Expended

And after that, she was done for the day.

Eventually we made our way over to a friend’s house to celebrate his 30th birthday.  It was a great time with wonderful friends and delicious food.

Although there was talk of hitting up the town to continue the celebration, Dan and I opted to head home, where we hosted the birthday boy and friends for a drink before they headed downtown.  Our evening was tame and we fell asleep before SNL’s Weekend Update.  Years ago that would have sounded like such a bore, but time spent just Dan and I has become my absolute favorite and I savor every uninterrupted moment we get together.

After a solid night sleep we celebrated FOOTBALL SUNDAY with a delicious breakfast (Whitefish and Lox on a bagel for me, Porkroll Egg and Cheese for Dan).

I ran a quick errand for a forgotten ingredient at the store and managed to hit the train running through town.  Always happens to me.

I returned home to get busy in the kitchen, making us snacks for game day and generally just enjoying the day.

Bread and Cheddar Braid, Spinach Dip and Wheat Thins, Cauliflower Hot “Wings”

Red Zone Overload

I made some soup for the week and let that simmer in the crockpot all day while I cooked, cleaned and napped on Dan’s shoulder.
Our night was capped off with Pizza Hut Pizza (you MUST make it) and wine.

Now we’re settling in to watch the Emmy’s and once again capture my coveted spot on Dan’s shoulder.

Although I always wish the weekends could go on forever, it’s times like these where I truly appreciate all I have and the time I get to spend doing absolutely nothing.

Advertisements

Meal Planning-What We’re Eating

IT’S FRIDAY!!!!!

Get Excited!

Tomorrow morning you get to do this.

Don’t Wake Me, It’s The Weekend.

Here’s our meal (mostly dinner) plans for the week:

Friday: SUSHI Date (At a fabulous restaurant.  We’re going to get all gussied up and bat our eyes at each other)

Saturday: BBQ

Sunday: Pizza Hut Pizza (found a recipe online–it has been the talk of the Harmony House all week), Broccoli Cheddar Bake, Cauliflower Poppers, Spinach Dip (repeat of last week’s menu)

Monday: Butternut Squash Lasagna with No Knead Bread and Lemon Parmesan Broccoli

Tuesday: Crockpot Taco Pasta

Wednesday: Red and White Cauliflower Bake

Thursday: Chicken Burger (for Dan) and Tilapia (for me) with veggies and potatoes

I only plan until Thursday because I send Daniel to the store on Friday since he works from home in the morning and has the afternoon to run all the errands I don’t feel like doing.

The nice thing about this menu is that Dan has leftovers (Pizza and Taco Pasta) to take for lunch during the week.  I’m going to spin up a new recipe on Sunday (tentatively: Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale) to enjoy during the week.

Have a Great Weekend!

PEACE OUT BITCHES!

Don’t Trust The Electronics

My camera is being just absolutely awful.  Like put it in timeout and ground it for the weekend bad.

My computer is being equally as fussy and not uploading pictures.  It’s also about 6 years old and I treat it horribly, so I can’t say I’m sitting here in shock that both are rebelling against me.

I wanted to post a recipe and a review of Trader Joe’s Green Curry Simmer Sauce, but that will have to wait until tomorrow until we’ve all calmed down.

So, here’s a picture from our wedding weekend:

Image

Dan was in the wedding party so I had a lovely lady (whose significant other was also in the wedding) to hang with all day and ride the party bus over with.  Lovely day, lovely friends.

Image
Chance is all snuggled in for the night and my computer just pulled a nasty little move, so for the sake of sanity I’ll be handing the laptop to Dan demanding he “fix it now”.

Have a great night and steer clear of anything with batteries.  Shifty things.  Not to be trusted.

Bravo, You Have a Problem

Obsessed.

That’s probably the one word Daniel would use to describe my love for anything Bravo tv related.  In fact, last year we cancelled our cable in an effort to save money.  At first Dan was all “We’ll be able to watch everything, just a day later.”  What I didn’t know was that didn’t extend to everything.

When I found out I couldn’t get Bravo re-runs via our Roku box I threw.a.fit. not fitting of a mature adult.

But how will I know Caroline’s feelings towards Theresa?????????

Pumpkin was disgusted.

You’re a stupid LIAR.

I stomped around for months, lamenting that there was NOTHING to watch on TV.

I’m in TV hell.

And all Dan wanted to do was spend quality time together, instead of me planting myself in front of RHO___ (fill in the blank).

I’m cute, just look at me and you will never need television again.

There’s only so much a man can take, and not so soon after we called Comcast and stuck it to them, I came groveling back.

I watched hours upon hours of On Demand RH marathons.  I watched it all..New Jersey, New York, Beverly Hills, Orange County, Atlanta.  I flipped for Flipping Out and declared Andy Cohen my new best friend.  You couldn’t pull me away from Top Chef and I was obsessed with James Lipton’s brand of serious/off beat humor.  Bethenny was my imaginary BFF while Jeff Lewis and Co. told us what was up.

I shhhhhhhhhhhhh’d Dan every time he talked.

And then I met Gallery Girls

Eeep.

Love hate tv.  That’s what they are.  But I just can’t walk away.

BRAVO TV…how bad will it get.

And will I ever stop watching?

NO.

What’s your favorite secret channel?  What’s a guilty pleasure show you would sadly (or gladly) shun your family to watch?

Also, WTFFFFFFFF is up with Aviva from RHONY?  Crazy be crazy.

 

 

Stuffed Serrano Peppers

This recipe came to pass because I was, for some strange reason considering the fact that I’ve never had them, craving Chili Relleno.  I must have seen a picture, which implanted in the back of my mind cheese stuffed deep fried peppers.  That’s the sort of stuff my subconscious holds on to.

Once I investigated, I had a hard time committing myself to stuffing chilies full of cheese, coating them in a whipped egg bath and then frying in oil.  There are loads of food I’m willing to deep fry or consume an unwordly amount of calories on, but I thought for the sake of no special occasion, maybe it would be best if I dialed back the glutton.

I present Stuffed Serrano Peppers.  There’s cheese, beans and spice–the holy trinity of dinner.

Stuffed Serrano Peppers

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side

Ingredients

4 Serrano Peppers

Olive Oil

1 cup Refried or Black Beans (I used a combination)**

6 oz Queso Fresco, crumbled

2 oz Pepperjack Cheese, shredded

Cilantro, to taste

1/4 cup chopped raw onions (if you do not like, they can be omitted)

Pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper

1 egg (or two egg whites)

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

**Dan believes these would be “unbelievable” with chorizo.  But I didn’t have any, so too bad for him.  Feel free to make them with chorizo and let me know how amazing they are.  I’ll pass the info on to Dan**

Directions

First things first: roast some peppers!  We don’t have a grill, so I roasted my peppers in the oven at 400 degrees.

I lightly coated (with my Misto) the peppers in olive oil, then slid them into a 400 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes, then flipped and roasted them for another 15 minutes.  When they’re done, they should look like this:

Nice and wrinkled

Place your pretty peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  This step is especially important if you chargrilled your peppers.  The heat contained in a bowl by wrapping them will make it easier to peel the skin off.

While the peppers set for 10 minutes, turn your oven down to 375 and prepare your stuffing.

Mix together your beans (or other cooked protein), queso fresco, pepperjack, cilantro, onions and chili pepper (if desired).  At this point you can taste the filling and decide if you want to add any extra spices (salt, pepper, cumin, garlic or onion powder).

Smash/mix them all together.

Your peppers should be steamed by now.  Pull your first victim out and begin to pull the skin away from the pepper.

Slice the pepper open down the center and across the top.  Be gentle, it’s the peppers first time.

Scoop the seeds out of the center, leaving some if you want to burn your dinner partner’s mouth (not that I did…).

Once you have defiled all 4 peppers, begin stuffing them.  I divided my filling into four (scoring it in the bowl) and picked up the filling with my hand and formed it to fit into the pepper.

When you stuff the peppers, it’s easiest to place the filling in the middle and carefully fold the sides of the pepper over the filling.

Once all your peppers have been stuffed, assemble your breading station.  Whisk your eggs in a bowl and pour the panko onto a shallow plate.

Dip each pepper in your egg wash and then cover in panko.

Finish your peppers and place on an oiled baking pan.  I always cover mine with tin foil as well because I’m lazy when it comes to clean up.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until the insides start to creep out.

Enjoy with Sour Cream and Salsa.

The best thing about this dish is that it looks (and sounds) harder than it actually is.

Enjoy!!

BEHIND THE SCENES:

Ugly creepy pepper that I fed to Dan.

Why even bother asking her for help?

Run Run Run as Fast as You Can

I started running, for fun, about 2.5  years ago.

Sweaty!

My main motivation behind beginning to run was to lose weight.  I had some lbs. to shed, and since running guaranteed maximum calorie burn, I was eager to begin.  I started slowly, just running until I felt tired, then turning around and running home.  Each run, I tried to challenge myself a little more.  Try to run a little faster, a little farther, try not to think about how much my lungs burned.  In the beginning I ran about 1.5-2 miles 4 times per week.  I looked forward to my runs because I felt that each time I went out there, even if it was just one step further or one second faster, I was improving.   As the pounds began to melt away, I realized that running gave me so much that tone legs and a whittled midsection.  So much to look forward to–a chance to make goals and achieve them, a new body I loved, and time to myself to clear my mind.  I wasn’t particularly fast, but none of that mattered.  Running was a solo sport that provided me with more than I ever could have imagined.

It was also a cheap sport, initially.  I needed sneakers and a sports bra, the rest I had laying around.  I didn’t have fancy gadgets, just me and the trails.  I found myself while my feet hit the gravel, my breath giving my stride rhythm, my head and heart clear and open.

I entered a race about 2 months after I started running, a local 5K.  Dan came and cheered me on, where I pushed myself farther and faster than I ever had before.  Something inside me knew I could do better, knew that I could run a little faster next time and so I decided to race a little more.  Just one or two here or there, challenging myself to go farther and faster, beaming each time I crossed the finish line.  Since I ran smaller races (or maybe I was faster than I give myself credit for), I was able to place first in my age group in both a 5K and 10K, and I was proud that I had committed myself to something that I challenged myself to get better at every single day.

I started to read about mile splits, subscribe to magazines devoted to running, talk about what sort of sport beans I preferred for my long runs, and purchased a Garmin so I could accurately measure my speed and distance.  I committed myself to everything running.  I checked blogs before I went to work and stared at pace calculators until my eyes got blurry.

In short, I became a slave to what I had once loved.  I began to dread my long runs, longing to just run with no pace in mind, no mileage that I had to achieve.  Still, I carried on, signing up for a half marathon with my sister.  I felt that I had to run a half.  It’s weird to write that, because no one ever told me that.  No one said “Hey Marcella, you’d be a real runner if you ran further.”   Yet there I was, with a watch that measured each stride, beating myself up if I wasn’t fast enough or efficient enough.  It was a love hate relationship that left me feeling empty inside.

I had no idea what I was doing, or why I was doing it.  I felt a sickening competition every time I read about running.  I felt like I would never live up to the marathon/triathalon/long run training I read about on runners blogs.  I envied their ice baths after 20 milers, but had no idea why.  I was obsessed and consumed with a desire to be someone I was not.

I persevered though, training for my half through a cold and dreary New Jersey winter.  I was proud that I stuck to training, and enjoyed most of my runs, but something about them felt so…empty.  I don’t know if it was the miles I didn’t like, or if I just felt like no matter what I ran, I would never be good enough.  It wasn’t one thing or another, but my heart was no longer with me.  I couldn’t find my joy.

After months of training, Sara and I ran our half together

and I vowed to never run again.

The race was everything my training and moods had predicted.  I cried, tried to quit several times, and ran with absolutely no ambition.  I wasn’t running for myself, I was running to fulfill some sort of vision of myself that didn’t have to exist, I just didn’t know it at the time.

After the race, I took a break.  I needed to “recover”, and recover I did.  Days turned into weeks into months as I let my body and spirit go soft.  Each time I wanted to run, felt the itch or urge, so many things held me back.  I was mainly afraid to fail.  I was afraid I wouldn’t have any of my stamina (an accurate belief) and I would feel the same things I felt during my race and training runs.  That no matter what I did, how fast I ran, how far I ran, I would never be a real runner.

As time went on, and the endorphins stopped flowing, I found myself slipping into a depression I had managed to control for many years.  My anxiety reared it’s ugly head but I just couldn’t get past my own mental battle.

It’s been some time since I regularly committed to running.  Since I woke up early, rubbed my eyes, splashed water on my face, brushed my teeth and stumbled out the door, waking up in my early miles, drinking in the cool crisp air and stillness of a morning untouched by anyone else.  The pride I would feel having logged miles before many people had their first cup of coffee.  It launched me into and through the day, that feeling, and touched every aspect of my life.

Yesterday morning, as I walked to grab coffee and eggs, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia.  The smell, the stillness, the ever so slight chill in the air with the promise of a sunny clear day still to be had.

So this morning, for the first time in too long, I slipped out of bed, rubbed my eyes, splashed water on my face and brushed my teeth.  I clumsily laced up my sneakers and found some running clothes that (thankfully) still fit, and hit the streets of town alone.

It wasn’t pretty.  It was huffy and puffy.  My legs strained and parts of me that never used to jiggle made themselves known.  I don’t know how far I went, or how fast, but for now that’s probably best.

I commend and envy people who train, challenge themselves, run half and full marathons, complete in triathalons and ironmans.  I think they are AMAZING.

But I’m not them.

And that’s ok.

Meal Planning-What We’re Eating

I’ll be brief and to the point.

Meal planning saves us money, calories and stress.  I also am a bit of a control freak, the kind of person who plans tomorrow before today is done.  (I’m actually trying to work on being more present.)  But, my crazy planning side comes in handy at times, and especially handy when it comes to planning our week.

I absolutely love meal planning because it allows me creativity and it feels like working a puzzle (which I hate, so that’s weird).  Fitting all the pieces together, maximizing our budget and no food left behind.

Here’s a peek into what we’re eating this week:

Sunday: FOOTBALL!!!!! So it’s a lot of snack type dishes.  Notably Nachos (with Slow Cooker Beans), Broccoli and Cheddar Braid, Baked Ham and Cheese Egg Rolls and anything else I feel like throwing together.

Monday: Stuffed Serrano Chilis with Side Salad

Tuesday: Butternut Squash Pasta

Wednesday: Malai Kofta

Thursday: Visiting the rents.  Dinner’s on Momma!

Friday: Rehearsal dinner for a friends wedding.

From there, Dan takes leftovers to work, and I generally have lunches based on salads with protein and whole grains.

We’re prepped and ready for the week, and I’m calling it an early night tonight.  Time to watch The League in bed and get a good night’s sleep.

Slow Cooker Black Beans

I love beans.

There, I said it.  I love them because I find them to be incredibly versatile, quick in a pinch, CHEAP, and just downright delicious.

A love affair with legumes.

This recipe can probably be found anywhere, but I’m fond of my version because-well-I’ve never tried any other.  This recipe results in unbelievably creamy rich beans that would be great tucked inside an Enchilada, stuffed inside a Burrito, or simply eaten with perfectly flavored rice and vegetables.  Best of all, it’s a slower cooker recipe (that does involve minimal prep) which means that you get to ignore it and have your crock pot do all the work.  I personally love coming home to anything that’s been simmering in the crock pot all day.  First, it means half my work for dinner (or all of it) is done, and second, it fills the house with wonderful smells and make me, if only for a second, believe that perhaps someone has decided to cook ME dinner.

In any event, I highly recommend these beans for comfort food that couldn’t really be easier.

Slow Cooker Black Beans

(Makes 2 cups of black beans)

Ingredients:

1 cup dried black beans

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 tbs. cumin

1 tsp salt (or more to taste)

1 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)

1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

Directions:

Beans require soaking-so put 1 cup of black beans in a bowl and fill up with water until covering the beans for about one inch.  Allow to soak on the counter overnight, or for 8 hours.

Black beans after soaking overnight.

Once your beans have soaked, drain them and throw them into your crockpot.  Add chopped onion, garlic, cumin, salt, basil and optional liquid smoke and/or smoked paprika.

Cover your beans with 2 cups of water and set your slow cooker on low for 8 hours.

In the end, you’ll have creamy dreamy delicious beans!

Beans do not photograph well.

Enjoy!

 

Creamy Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

I find Mexican food to be the most inexpensive and easy food to make (at least the Americanized version).  No matter what mood we’re in, at least we can agree on enchiladas.  It’s a really exciting part of our relationship.  I feel like our vows will read something like “We both love Mole sauce….and that’s when we knew we were meant to spend a lifetime together.”

Mole sauce aside (a restaurant in town makes a mole we diiiiiie for) Mexican food is our Switzerland.  No fighting happens when we agree to order in (or go out) to our favorite Mexican restaurant.  It’s the creamy beans, spicy rice and everything in between that make us not speak for at least 20 minutes.  Generally it’s followed with a “I’m so full, why did I eat so much, I’m so ashamed.”

This recipe pleased both our palates.  To boot it’s super simple, pretty cheap and vegetarian.  It filled us without leaving us with the feeling of wanting to fall asleep on the couch.

Creamy Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

*Just a quick note.  I made black beans in the crock pot during the day and had pre-cooked my sweet potatoes earlier in the week.  That makes this recipe a whole lot easier.

Ingredients:

(makes 4 Enchiladas)

* 1.5 cups of black beans (I made mine from dried beans in the crockpot and allowed them to cook all day.  I’ll post a recipe tomorrow, but if you want a quick fix, combine a can of drained black beans with garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and salt to taste)

* 1 medium sweet potato

* 2.5 Tbs. light cream cheese

* 2 oz low-fat cheddar cheese (grated)

* 4 flour tortillas

* 1.5 Tbs. light butter

* 1.5 Tbs. all-purpose flour

* 1 cup Vegetable Broth

* 1/3 cup 0% Greek Yogurt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 350.

Combine black beans (with spices), sweet potatoes, cream cheese and 1 oz. of cheddar cheese.  Mix and mash together.

Image

After combining those ingredients, divide the filling into four and spread over your tortillas, folding as you go.

Image

Fold it over like a fancy burrito.

Image

Place into a square baking dish or, if you’re me, bake in two separate dishes so there is on confusion about whose burritos and sauce belong to who.  (I hate sharing)

Image

Now it’s time to make the sauce.  This sauce is AMAZING so I would save it for that special someone you’re hoping to get a little something-something out of.  Use it to your advantage.

CREAM SAUCE

Melt 1.5 tbs. butter in a small saucepan.

Image

Add 1.5 tbs of flour and mix until it is a paste.

Image

Once you achieve a paste any toddler would be proud to eat, add 1 cup of broth and mix together until thickened.

Image

Add the remaining 1 oz of cheese.

Image

Once the cheese is melted and incorporated, add 1/3 cup of Greek Yogurt and stir until melted in.  Image

Pour your creamy sauce over the enchiladas.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Image

Eat them hot and burn your tongue.  Because they’re just that dang good.

Image

Dan rated these Enchiladas as: “Creamy Delicious Gooey, Savory, can’t wait to eat leftovers tomorrow.  8 out of 10 stars.”

BEHIND THE SCENES:

Image

Thank goodness I’m not in charge of cleanup tonight.

Also, do not hire these lazy bones as your Sous Chefs.

Image

I hope you enjoy these.  The nice part is that they can be low calorie (one satisfied me and I have a HEARTY appetite) as well as vegan (sub. earth balance for butter, Tofutti for cream cheese and Diaya for the cheese).  Easy, fast, cheap comfort food.