New toys

Today I’m pretty sure we used every new wedding gadget we’ve gotten.  Tim made delicious waffles in the waffle iron for breakfast, and I used the bread machine, crockpot and food processor with great success today. 

Meet Super Delicious Salsa Slow Cooker Chicken.

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Ugly, yes.  Delicious, yes.

I basically cobbled this together from various recipes I’d found online.  I dumped the following into the crockpot:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small bag frozen corn
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 brick reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 c. salsa (We used Pace Mild salsa, blended smooth in the Magic Bullet with a small container of Chipotle hot salsa—our favorite!  We are anti chunk.)

Then…you just let it peace out in the crockpot on low for about six hours, and serve over some brown rice.

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Southpaw was stalking Tim’s plate.  Super good and filling, and there’s enough leftovers for dinner tomorrow!

I also made this beauty today:

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We’ll call this…honey mixed nut butter.  Unless anyone else has a more creative idea.  Again, an easy recipe. 

Into the food processor went:

  • 1/4 c. salted peanuts
  • 1/4 c. macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 c. almonds
  • 1/4 c. pecans
  • 1/4 c. hazelnuts
  • 1 T. honey

Blend until smooth.  Easy peasy and delicious.

The nut butter will go on this:

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The loaf of honey wheat bread in the bread machine.  This will probably go in with Tim to work.  But I’m considering keeping it.  Hee.

Also today:  I did about 10 loads of laundry, vacuumed the entire house, cleaned the bathroom, and got the guest bedroom in a state where I WOULDN’T be embarrassed for people to see it.  Our house is finally starting to look like normal again.  I love it so.

And Tim did this!

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Wall mount wine rack!  (He also took my car for an oil change and returned a duplicate gift.  God bless him.)

I am currently decompressing with this.

0516 005 A glass of Gamay Rouge. 

Operation Break In Orthotics has not gone as well as I’d planned.  Mainly because it’s been POURING here.  I’ve tried.  I’m going to do my best to drag my lazy butt to the gym tomorrow after work and hopefully break them in with some run-walk intervals for awhile. 

Four days until we leave for the honeymoon!  I can’t wait!

Happy Easter!

Today started out with Tim telling me I was not allowed out of bed because I woke up feeling gross.  Post-nasal drip is foul—the sludge piles up overnight and I woke up with a raw throat and upset stomach.

BUT, I knew I’d feel better once I got up and moving, so I ignored him and quickly got ready for church.  I really love services on Easter Sunday—they’re so cheery and happy.

Since many of you liked my dress, I took a full-body shot.  Yes, I re-wore it.  That’s the beauty of an intentionally wrinkled dress—you can’t get it wrinkled!  I got it at Target last summer for $19.99 and I get complimented on it more than any other piece of clothing I owned.

Apologies for the awkwardface.  And our messy house.0404 001

Anyway, services were lovely, including the baptism of a chubby little baby with adorable sticking-up dark hair. 

I am so glad I went—the sermon was actually (kind of) about running!  Our pastor was talking about resurrection, and how when you think all hope is gone there are miracles and triumphs of the human spirit.  She started talking about Team Hoyt.  (You should definitely go read their full story.)  Basically, the son was born with severe brain damage as a quadriplegic, and the doctors told his parents to give up on him and put him in a home because he’d be a vegetable.   They didn’t give up hope, and their son went on to graduate college, and his father has pushed him in over 1,000 races—everything from 5Ks to Ironman Triathlons (and a 2:40 marathon!  Holy cow!).

It was exactly what I needed to hear.  I’m not intensely religious, though I do enjoy going to church, and obviously, in my “I don’t know if I can do this” state re: half marathon, this really spoke to me.  I won’t give up hope and I will keep fighting.

We stopped on the way home for a little sale Easter candy, since the Easter Bunny did not come to our house.  Yum!0404 002

Then I went home and baked peanutty banana chocolate chip muffins.  They are delicious and will be heading too work with Tim tomorrow.0404 008

Easter dinner?  Rachel at Shedding It’s Prosciutto-wrapped Pork Loin, Christmas rice, and steamed green beans.

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This recipe for pork was MAGICAL.  It was nice and moist.  I usually shy away from pork because it always comes out dry and tough, but this was awesome.  This will definitely be going in our rotation.

I overcooked the green beans, though.

For dessert, I made Cookie Dough Brownies.  They are chilling in the fridge as we speak.

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Someone requested the recipe for these bad boys earlier this week, so here you go!

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0404 007 I cut down on prep time by just using a brownie mix for the brownie part.  The cookie dough topping and glaze is really the important part!

Here are a few more recipes that people wanted to see!

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Pretzel Jello SOUNDS gross, but is secretly delicious.  I swear. 

I’ve never tried the make-your-own-cleaning wipes, either!

Anyway, I think we are going to take Milhouse for a nice long walk outside while it’s still light out.  I hope you enjoyed your Easter!

Recommend your favorite pump-you-up songs for my half marathon playlist.  I have an hour and a half on there now, so I need at least another 45 minutes to an hour (unless I suddenly become Speedy Gonzalez.)  Help!

My favorite shower gift

I was instructed at my shower that there was one box I had to open before all the others.  So, of course, I did, and I opened it to find this beautiful recipe box.

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(Gorgeous, no?)

My aunt asked my cousin, Jason, to make one for me, thinking he’d slap one together with plywood or similar, but he took the job really seriously and went out and bought some beautiful (and very expensive!) maple and cherry to make it.  It’s absolutely stunningly beautiful and well made.  I’ll have it forever.

The reason I had to open it first was because everyone had put a recipe on their package as a tag.  The first one was from Maddie the flower girl.

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I died.  SO FREAKING CUTE.

By the end of the day, I had quite the collection.

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Including some super vintage ones—my great-grandmother’s recipe for Baked Stuffed Tufoli, and my grandma’s aunt’s recipe for (super delicious) Raisin-Oatmeal Cookies.

My great-grandma’s recipe must be good, because it was in the newspaper.  They quoted her as saying, “Secret of a good sauce is to make it the day before.  And make plenty of it.”  Sounds like my kind of lady, even though I never met her!

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My mom also contributed several, though she’s much more of a baker than a cook.  (As you can probably tell by the recipe on top.)

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I need more to fill it with, but this is a great start!

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All in all, I got recipes for the following, many of which are my FAVORITES from my family members.  (If anyone wants any of them, leave a comment letting me know which ones you want to see!)

  • Great-grandma’s Baked Stuffed Tufoli
  • Fresh Apple Cake
  • Cookie Dough Brownies
  • Aunt Vi’s Raisin-Oatmeal Cookies
  • Strawberry Crepes
  • Cheesy Potato Soup
  • Chicken Vesuvio
  • Fettucine Alfredo (including 1 stick of butter and a pint of heavy cream!)
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Buster Bar Dessert
  • Baked Potato Salad
  • Pretzel Jello
  • Red Jello
  • Fruit Dip
  • Whipped Frosting
  • Christmas Rice
  • Chipmunk Pie
  • Caramel Corn
  • Banana Egg Rolls
  • Penne with Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce
  • Strawberry Pizza
  • Caramel Apple Pie
  • “Pat’s Crack” (a maple-flavored sweet snack mix)
  • Make-your-own Cleaning Wipes
  • Chocolate Eclair Cake
  • Hot Sausage Dip
  • Vanilla Raspberry Pudding Shots
  • Campbell Corn Bread (from Tim’s mom!)
  • Girl Scout Chicken (also from Tim’s mom!)
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • Taco Lasagna

Disclaimer: none of these recipes are healthy.  But they are all yummy and special to me!

Anyway, I love, love, love this and will definitely do this at any showers I host in the future.

What’s your favorite family recipe?

The best spaghetti sauce you will ever eat

So, this is a secret, treasured family recipe.  And I’m sharing it with you.  You should be honored, and then immediately proceed to your kitchen to make this.  My mother makes a double batch of this every year the day after Thanksgiving, and my whole extended family has a big pasta dinner after a tough day at the Black Friday sales.  It is incredible, and I’m pretty sure it’s also incredibly healthy–lots of veggies, and you can use very lean beef or ground turkey, and far less sodium than store-bought spaghetti sauce.

Once in awhile I make a batch for me and T and freeze it so we can have high quality spaghetti sauce.  We’re out, so it’s about that time again.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 -28 oz. can tomato puree
  • 21 oz. water
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 lb. ground beef (I’ve also used ground turkey with good results)
  • 1 onion, diced fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 – 1 green pepper diced fine
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

And my mom’s instructions: put tomato puree, water, tomato paste, mushrooms and spices in a pot.  Brown ground beef in a pan adding 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper per pound(this is in addition to the salt and pepper you put in your tomato puree and water).

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Drain and add to the tomato puree and water mixture.  Saute onion, green pepper and garlic.  (Brie note: we leave out the green pepper because we don’t like it.)  I add a little water so it doesn’t stick.  You can either add a little water and then drain it and add to your sauce OR you can use a couple of ounces from the 21 and then you don’t have to bother draining it.

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I usually taste it after everything is put together because the salt and sugar is crucial to the flavor.  You may have to add a little more salt and/or sugar to get the flavor just right.

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This stuff is seriously good.  It spoils me.  I don’t want to eat pasta sauce from a jar after this.  Make it.  Trust me.

In other news, tomorrow I’m going to my new gym for the first time.  I’m excited.  Also, (holy crap) I’m running an 8K in a week.  I don’t feel prepared at all, but I think it’s just my body being silly after a rest week.  I’ll be fine!

Crockpot Lentil Chipotle Chili

First, a quick note: I’m not going to do the “blog three meals a day” thing.  It’s been done, and far better than I could do it, by lots of other great bloggers.  If I did this, you would be very tired of looking at pictures of eggs, yogurt bowls, cereal, and turkey sandwiches, since I like eating basically the same breakfasts and lunches every day.  But I will, from time to time, feature a recipe I think is pretty healthy and delicious and interesting, and, well, not copyrighted, like the applesauce post I did last week.  This is one of those recipes.

Anyway, it’s late September.  This means that some of my favorites make it back into the bi-weekly food rotation: chili, soup, stew, and other various concoctions!   I will be honest.  I had never even eaten chili until last year, because, well, it looked kind of gross.  But T requested it, and I figured it would be worth a try if I could find a recipe I liked.

Well, I didn’t really find a recipe I liked, so I kind of fused elements I liked from a few recipes together to create something that looked good.  And so, I present to you, Crockpot Lentil Chipotle Chili!  You will need the following things:

  • 1 cup apple juice (I use Simply Apple, no added sugar)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups dry lentils (no need to soak)
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound ground meat of choice (sometimes we use turkey, sometimes extra lean ground beef)
  • garlic (to taste–I like a lot, about 5-6 cloves, chopped)
  • chili powder (about 2 T)
  • hot tomatillo salsa (again, to taste–our favorite is from Chipotle!)

The best part about this recipe is that the instructions are basically that you dump the juice, water, lentils, meat, garlic and tomatoes into the crockpot, and let it cook covered on low for 6-8 hours.  Right before you’re ready to eat, stir in the chili powder and salsa, taste and add and tweak until you’re ready, and voila! easy dinner.

Pre-cooking:

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Everything in the crock pot, ready to go:

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Chili powder and salsa at the end of the cooking process:

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I made corn muffins to go with it, and topped it with some cheese:

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Mmmm…lentils.

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What you don’t see (because my camera ate the picture) is that this makes about 8 servings, total.  There are 6 portions of this sitting in the freezer, ready to be thawed out for T’s lunch or another dinner for the two of us.  This recipe really couldn’t be easier, and is incredibly healthy and delicious!  I love using my crockpot–right now we have a 1970s model inherited from my mom, but we’ve registered for a nice new one that will be much easier to clean.  Even if you just have 1 or 2 people in your household, they’re great for freezing leftovers and totally easy meals.

Do you have a crockpot?  Any recipe suggestions?

Fall is here!

Well, almost.

I am generally not all that keen on fall.  I know a lot of people love pumpkin pie, and cinnamon, and Halloween, and falling leaves, and gourds and stuff, but I do not like any of those things.  No joke: I started crying once when my mom was pushing us to have a beautiful fall wedding, with dark reds and oranges and browns and pumpkins.  I believe I used the phrase, “I don’t want any bleeping pumpkins at our wedding!”

That said, I do generally like the mild fall weather.  T and I were ranking our favorite to least favorite seasons the other day, and summer was definitely my least favorite, with spring on top, and fall slighly ahead of winter.  And I do like the plethora of delicious apples and pears that show up in grocery stores.  So, I decided to make applesauce!

T is a big applesauce fan.  He packs it in his lunch several times a week and makes funny happy faces while eating it.  I like it fine.  Again, like with pizza…he likes his smooth and cinnamon-free, whereas I prefer mine chunky and cinnamony.

First, I bought a dozen Gala apples at the store (for about $4):

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Then, I peeled them:

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And cored them and cut them into small pieces.  And broke the garbage disposal.  Cores go in the trash can, friends!:

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I added half a cup of water, and let it simmer on medium heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until it reduced itself into applesauce!

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Since T wanted his smooth, and I wanted cinnamon in mine, I split the batch roughly in half.  I stirred some cinnamon into mine:

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And then I put his in our Magic Bullet, which made it smooth and almost creamy in texture:

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All in all, this is what my afternoon yielded!  T’s is in small cups, ready to take to work:

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And, wow, is this stuff good.  Apples, water, and cinnamon–that’s it.  No sugar added (or needed)!  I’ll definitely be making this again soon.

I rested from exercise yesterday and today.  My legs are quite sore from lifting on Friday, to the point where they’ve actually been cramping up–yuck!  Any suggestions?

How do you like your applesauce?  Chunky, smooth, cinnamon, no cinnamon?