Monthly Archives: July 2014

Confession…

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Excuse me readers, for I have not penned.

It’s been almost a month since my last Impression…

Restaurant Impression that is…

There are several restaurants we’ve tried over the past few months; but I haven’t written a single word. I’d like to say that’s because I’m busy enjoying summer. But, truthfully, I think I’ve had a case of the summertime blues. And because I was feeling that way, I was angry because I wasn’t appreciating summer like I told myself to this past winter. Being angry about being sad was a vicious cycle!

But I think I’ve discovered the root roots from which these feelings have stemmed. And I have plans in place to turn them around… Because I have nothing really serious to be sad about when I’ve got beautiful summer weather, day lilies smiling back and me…

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… not to mention a trip to Australia to look forward to this fall!

The #100HappyDays Challenge has helped me with this, too.

Part of the downer, is my running progress. I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating it is to have so much trouble getting back to the point where I was pre-back surgery a year and a half ago. I was slow then. I’m even slower now. Urgh.

Rob and I did the Bacon Chase 5k this weekend.

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It was a cool theme, but far too many people for Rob (2200). And while it was a fun, casual event and the course was pretty easy and flat, I couldn’t run the entire thing. I know most of it was in my head. Because the crowd was so huge, Rob stayed back to run it with me. He could have injured himself running so much more slowly than his ability. And while I appreciated his gesture, I just felt guilty holding him back. And there were times I felt he was crowding me. It wasn’t his fault. It was all inside my own head.

This was an untimed race and we left our iPhones behind. I learned that part of the reward of finishing a race is learning your time.

Then there’s the re-occuring back pain. I’m in the process of taking my doctor’s 3x3x3 approach.

Get over it, Carrie. Better days are ahead!

And now it’s time for…

planning

Food

Dinners:

  • MondayGrilled Pork Chops with Mushrooms and side salad
  • Tuesday – Cooking for the girls. I think I’m going to make this Ground Turkey Zucchini Skillet, based on what I have on hand. But it sounds a little boring. Any other ideas out there?
  • Wednesday Angel Hair Pasta with San Marzano Meat Sauce
  • Thursday – leftovers
  • Friday – TBD
  • Saturday – Dinner out with the Girls
  • Sunday – TBD

Lunch:

Breakfasts:

Fitness

Rob and I are starting a Run Streak! Starting Wednesday, we are going to run 1-mile per day, no matter what,every day up until we leave for Australia this fall. It’s how we decided to make ourselves accountable to continue to run when we don’t have a race scheduled! We may increase the amount on some days or add other cardio or strength training, but we have to do at least one mile and keep improving on our individual times. There’s no way we can’t fit a mile in!

  • Monday – REST
  • Tuesday REST
  • Wednesday – 1-mile run
  • Thursday – 1-mile run
  • Friday – 1-mile run
  • Saturday – 1-mile run
  • Sunday – 1-mile run

Cheers to moving forward!
Carrie

 

How to Choose a Restaurant for Restaurant Week

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Restaurant Week is happening soon in the Twin Cities! 

July 20th – 25th

And while passing through my hometown this weekend, we learned that Green Bay is hosting a Restaurant Week soon as well: July 10th – 17th. Check it out at GBRestaurantWeek.com.

Restaurant Week is offered a few times per year in many cities throughout the U.S. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy three-course lunches or dinners at $15 – $30 per person.

We’ve taken advantage of  Restaurant Week a time or two, sometimes multiple times in one week! In the Twin Cities, there are so many options. How do you choose!? Here are some tips on how to narrow them down. Most of us can only afford to take advantage of one or two. So, let’s make the most of it!

How to Choose a Restaurant for Restaurant Week:

Dates and Locations

What dates are you available? Do you want to have lunch or dinner? Restaurants all over the Twin Cities Metro area participate in Restaurant Week. Living South of the River, I’m not going to want to dine in the northern suburbs and fight rush hour traffic on a weeknight. Are you available for lunch during the week? This is a time for a real deal!

Try Something New (or stick with a favorite!)

One of our rules when choosing a restaurant for Restaurant Week is that it must be a place where we’ve never dined before. This is a restaurant’s opportunity to showcase its signature dishes and win you over! On the other hand, if your favorite restaurant is participating in Restaurant Week and offering your favorite dish, by all means, take advantage.

Menu

This is by the far the biggest determinant for us when choosing where to dine. It is important that you look at the Restaurant Week Menu online before deciding. Many chefs choose their most popular dishes or items that represent them the best to introduce you to their cuisine and give you a true taste of what makes them unique.

However, for some reason, other restaurants seem to offer boring selections. For example:

Appetizer: Caesar Salad or French Onion Soup

Entrée: Sirloin or Spaghetti & Meatballs

Dessert: Chocolate Cake or Strawberry Cheesecake

Really? That’s all you’ve got?

While these menu items certainly can be made really well, I want to taste the creativity and the character of the restaurant. When it comes to showcasing your menu, spice it up. In fact, SEASON IT ALREADY!

We don’t even bother with the restaurants who don’t list their menus. And of course, if you have any dietary restrictions, make sure that you can eat what is offered. Most restaurants won’t deviate from the three-course menu during Restaurant Week, but it doesn’t hurt to call and ask for substitutions if it’s a place you really want to try.

Make Reservations

Due to the extreme value and the popularity of Restaurant Week, it’s highly recommended that you make reservations. Not all restaurants will accept them, though. In those cases, call ahead, arrive during “off” hours or prepare to wait.

Then, enjoy a truly memorable experience dining out that you may not have otherwise!

Which restaurant would you try during Twin Cities Restaurant Week?

Which restaurant do you think we are going to try? 😉

Cheers~
Carrie

Chicken Thighs – What’s Your Best Recipe?

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It’s always difficult coming back from a week long summer getaway. Especially when you are busy at work catching up, you didn’t exactly follow do any of the the running program you had planned, and your dining options and choices weren’t very healthy.

On second thought, maybe it doesmake it easier. I feel gross. I want fresh vegetables. I am sick of sugar. I want to get moving again. I don’t want to feel so sluggish.

When we got back to Minnesota, I knew that I had to formulate a plan for the week quickly. I had to pick some easy dishes that I could put together quickly to make that first hectic week back go smoothly. It’s time to take a look at that Recipe Arsenal!  Rob and I have also decided to try our own thing this week and only eat together once this week. This gives me the opportunity to make myself some fish and chicken. I’m so out of practice and may need your help…

planning

Food

Dinners:

  • MondayGrilled Kielbasa with Sauerkraut and side salad
  • Tuesday – Shrimp with Zucchini & Tomatoes
  • Wednesday Angel Hair Pasta with San Marzano Meat Sauce
  • Thursday – Chicken Thighs with Grilled Asparagus – What’s your favorite easy recipe using chicken thighs? I have about 2 lbs. I could make 1 lb, or cook them all up for leftovers for salads, etc.
  • Friday – TBD
  • Saturday – St. Paul Farmer’s Market & Unplug Day!
  • Sunday – TBD

Lunch:

  • Poorman’s Caprese
  • Leftovers
  • Snacks – fruit, nuts or string cheese and dark chocolate

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Monday – 2-mile run
  • Tuesday walk/yoga
  • Wednesday – 2.5-mile run
  • Thursday – REST
  • Friday – 1.5-mile race-pace run
  • Saturday – Unplug Day and Long Walk!
  • Sunday – 3-mile run

What is your favorite way to make chicken thighs?

Looking for an easy, no fail tasty recipe!

I am hoping to round up a bunch of favorites into one simple post.

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Wine & Cheese – An Education

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

I’m still alive! I’m just enjoying summer and only blogging when it feels right, ya know?

You may have realized by now that I am a huge fan of Thrillist. I love their candid accounts on things I really want to know… or even things I didn’t know that I wanted to know.

Still with me?

Having conducted in-home wine tastings for 10 years, I know a thing or two about wine and cheese. You can get a simple list of cheese and wine pairings here.

One of the things that I found that stressed some hosts out was how to cut the cheese to go with the wine. To be honest, as much as I love it, I’m no expert on cheese. The point of the wine tastings was to keep it simple and to focus on the wine and education. I’d tell my host to cut into bite-size pieces. It’ll be easy to serve and just the right size for tasting.

But if you want to know the “proper” way to cut and serve cheese, check out this article from Thrillist:

How to Cut the Cheese Like a Frenchman

Overwhelmed? I am. I may have to have a cheese-tasting party just to practice. (Or to try all of those delectable cheeses!) Maybe have everyone bring one type of cheese and I’ll supply the bread and wine? Sound like a plan? Who’s in?

Want to learn more about wine? This is a fun and direct approach, also from Thrillist:

This is How You Talk About Wine

(Or How Not to Embarrass Yourself When Talking about Wine)

I love it. ALL good advice.

Enjoy!

Cheers~
Carrie