Tag Archives: cooking

This Week: Cooking with What’s on Hand


So, I didn’t get my usual Monday Food & Fitness post up that I link to Running with Racheal.


I guess that weekend out of town ended with a lack of planning for the week. Now it’s time get creative and use up what we have in fridge and  pantry!

What do I know?


  • I have bread in the freezer and peanut butter in the fridge. Looks like it’s going to be a week of PB Toast breakfasts!
  • I put together some Quick and Easy Bowls for lunch this week based on what I had on hand. The rest will be leftovers
  • I have three days to cook dinner this week.
  • One of those days is just for me – I was considering this Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad. Then I realized, we don’t have strawberries. So I may just make some Tilapia Topped with Tomatoes with this Zucchini and Onion Saute that always reminds me of Provence.
  • I have pork chops, green beans and ground beef in the freezer.
  • Worst case scenario, if I don’t get to the grocery store, we’ll be eating pork chops and green beans one night and Chocolate Chili another. Although, Rob has given me the go ahead on this One Pot Cheeseburger Skillet {I can’t call it a casserole or he won’t eat it!}

How’s that for last-minute planning?!


I had some trouble with my back this weekend. Sleeping and getting out of bed has not been easy. So I’ve decided to take the doc’s advice for the next couple of days.

  • Tuesday – PT Exercises & Walk
  • Wednesday – PT Exercises & Walk
  • Thursday – PT Exercises & Run (if feeling okay, otherwise, walk)
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – PT Exercises & Run
  • Sunday – PT Exercises & Walk

What are your favorite go-to meals when you don’t get to the store and can only use what you have on hand?

What’s the best and most creative dish you’ve come up with doing that?



Trying Something Gnudi


Gnudi (nyOO-dee) is a bit like gnocchi, only made with ricotta instead of potato. It’s like a “nude” piece of ravioli – just the filling. I learned about gnudi through Plated. With two free plates left, I put an order in to give it a try. Get your two free plates here.


Ricotta Gnudi with Asparagus, Peas & Mint
940 calories (30 – 40 minutes)

The gnudi was pretty easy to make, but I had trouble getting it to a non-sticky consistency. I had to add a little more of my own flour. They definitely reminded me of gnocchi!

photo 1

gnudi in the pan!

Other than that, making these from scratch was pretty darn easy. I just wished I could get a better sear on the little dumplings, like I like my gnocchi. Although, maybe potato just sears better than ricotta?

photo 2

Ricotta Gnudi with Asparagus, Peas & Mint

I liked the gnudi, but it just seemed like so. much. food. There was also a lot of green going on in this dish!

What we learned after our second Plated dish with mint: Keep the mint out of our food. I’d rather save it for a good mojito. I think basil would have done this dish better.


Thai Basil Beef Bowl with Quinoa Stir-Fry
710 calories (30 – 40 minutes)

I’d only made quinoa once before, but was all messed up with the rinsing. I had little pieces of quinoa everywhere. I decided to give it another go. And this quinoa didn’t require me to do any rinsing prior to cooking, so I thought that would make it easier. I still had quinoa everywhere.

photo 2(1)

And that was just the pot after my half-attempt to scrape everything out of it. I found much more on the stove and in crevices between the stove and counter. Why doesn’t anyone talk about this when they blog about all of their wonderful quinoa dishes? Is it just me?

I did like the idea, though, of using quinoa instead of rice as part of the stir-fry:

photo 1(1)

And the finished product with the marinated steak was beautiful:

photo 3

Thai Basil Beef Bowl with Quinoa Stir-Fry

Again, this was a ton of food. I loved the smell of the Thai basil when I was chopping it. But because there was so much food, it got lost in the shuffle. I actually forgot about it until I tasted it just once in the dish. Both of us bit on something hard and sandy. Was that the quinoa, perhaps because it was not rinsed?

The beef marinade was excellent and an easy one. To give the dish more flavor after tasting it, I squirted it with a healthy dose of extra sriracha and stirred it right in.

And now for next week:







I can’t believe we are on week 7 of the couch to 5k. I have to admit that week 6 was pretty rough for me.

  • Monday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 7, Day 1
  • Tuesday – Yoga
  • Wednesday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 7, Day 2
  • Thursday – REST
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 7, Day 3
  • Sunday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga

Do you cook with quinoa?

Got any tips for easy cooking or less mess?

Favorite quinoa recipes?




Plated – Have You Tried it?


Last week, I had the pleasure of trying Plated for half-off.

Plated is a service that delivers all of the necessary fresh, ingredients {except for a basic few that you should already have on hand} to your door along with the recipes. I’ve been watching it for months now, but wanted to make sure there were two meals that I could make for my husband before testing it out. I also got 50% off my first two dishes for two people. You can, too, by clicking here.

First, you pick your delivery date.

For my zip code, the choices are Wednesday and Saturday. You do not have to be home to receive the items. I chose Saturday because I’m more likely to cook Monday, Tuesday than I am on Thursday or Friday! All items are shipped same day or next day air.

Then you pick your Plates.

There are about seven choices each week and you can pick as many as you want {with a minimum of four, which can mean two dishes each for two people or one dish each for four people.} There are Land, Sea & Veggie options every week. Dishes are also marked with the following so that you can pick meals according to your dietary restrictions or preferences:

  • Dairy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Low Calorie
  • Low Cholesterol
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Spicy

They also indicate what minimal ingredients you’ll need at home for each dish. They are basic pantry ingredients or things they can’t ship like olive oil, salt and pepper or eggs. Each dish is also marked with the difficulty of prepartion as well as how long you should expect to make it. {However, I don’t think it’s ever taken me as long as they estimate. And I’m not exactly a swift chef in the kitchen!}


A la Carte cost is $15 for every two plates. You must order at least two plates of each dish. The minimum order is four plates total. Thus, minimum cost for those four plates is $60. This includes shipping.

Membership cost is $12 for every two plates, with the same minimum requirements per order. Your monthly membership cost is $10. If you plan to use Plated often, you can save some money with the membership option.

To test it out, you can get your first two plates free by clicking on my referral link here. At the time of this writing, this reduces your minimum four-plate order from $60 to $30.

Ingredient Arrival at My Doorstep

The box was bigger than I had anticipated:

photo 2(1)

But everything was packed well and insulated:

photo 4(1)

I took all of the ingredients out to examine them. Included are the recipe cards for each dish and a kool-it pack to keep the ingredients fresh. The ingredients are clearly marked and separated according to dish.

The Plates

Dijon Pork Tenderloin with Broccolini & Smashed Potatoes
560 calories (30 – 40 min)

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time or know me at all, you know that I detest broccoli. Just the smell of it cooking makes me gag. But I chose this dish because it was pork, which Rob can have, and because he likes broccoli and I never make it for him. Also, I adore potatoes. But Rob only likes them in chip or fry form. In my mind, this was a compromise.

The first thing I really loved about Plated is that all of the ingredients are pre-measured, so you only receive what you need for the dish. I often buy pork tenderloins that make several servings. Rob doesn’t really care for leftovers. So either some gets wasted or I end up eating dried up pork for lunch three days in a row.

The marinade for the pork was recommended for 10 minutes to 2 hours. When I got home from work, I put the marinade ingredients {fresh ingredients – not a mix!} in a bag and added the pork. I put on my workout clothes and hopped on the treadmill to complete my session of the Couch to 5k. After a little stretching and a shower, my marinated pork was ready!

The marinade made the pork look really dark, almost like beef!

photo 3(4)

I was thinking broccolini was just little broccoli or something. But it is actually a hybrid of Chinese kale and broccoli.

photo 2(4)

According to my Plated recipe card, “Its long slender stalks and small florets cook quickly, and have a delicious sweet flavor.”  The broccolini did cook quickly. All I had to do is toss it with a bit of olive oil, garlic (provided) and salt and pepper and toss it in a 425-degree oven for ten minutes. But as for the flavor, I’d be the judge of that.

photo 4(4)


As for the smashed potatoes, I used garlic-infused olive oil to give them a bit more flavor. Rob ate some of them, but not all. That was success enough for me. {And there were a lot of potatoes.} We both raved over the broccolini. Okay, so it’s not broccoli, but it’s a start! If I can find it in the supermarket, I’ll be making it again soon.

What I also loved, were the directions for this meal. With all of the components, the timing of getting everything done to bring the dish together at the same time was spot on!

photo 5(4)

I’d make this dish again in a heartbeat. And now I know not only the recipe, but how easy it is to throw together and that we both love it. Rob couldn’t stop raving about how tender and perfectly seasoned the pork was and we both were blown away by the simple broccolini.


Beef Bibimbap
730 calories (40-50 min)

I didn’t really know much about this dish except for the fact that it was beef and that the ingredients were all those that Rob could have.

According to my Plated recipe card, “Bibimbap, or ‘mixed rice’ in Korean, is a traditional dish usually meant to incorporate leftovers. Rice is served in a hot pot to create a crust, and topped with individually prepared meats and/or vegetables.”

For that reason, there were a lot of little bits of different ingredients for this dish!

photo 1(5)


My final dishes didn’t look nearly as good as the the photo on the recipe card:

photo 2(2)

But it tasted superb. Another dish I’d make again! I did learn quite a few things before, during and after making this dish.

  • It didn’t take quite as long to make as I had anticipated, so it was done before Rob got home.
  • The cremini mushrooms were absolutely sensational. Rob isn’t a fan of spinach, but he ate them with the mushrooms!
  • I never knew Rob was allergic to cucumbers. I thought he just didn’t like them. They jumped out of his bowl and into mine.
  • I only gave Rob a few sprouts because I thought he didn’t care for those either, but apparently he loves them!
  • Rob doesn’t like a runny egg as much as I do.
  • The steak ended up a bit more rare than I like. It was chewy, too. I put mine back in the pan after I cut it up and seared each of the sides a little bit. I was trying to trust the sear on each side for two minutes and rest for five technique. I’d need to cook a little longer next time.
  • I totally forgot the sriracha! That would make this dish even better next time.

The only bad part about this dish is that…

I totally charred my favorite pan!

My mother-in-law gave me us a set of cookware some time ago and this non-stick skillet is the one I use the most. I love it because I can put it in the oven, too, like when I make my San Marzano Pasta.

I know this happened while searing the steak. The recipe did not have me adding any oil to the pan when sauteing the mushrooms with the spinach, nor when using the pan afterward to sear the steak. I found that a little strange, but trusted the process. Besides, the steak marinade had oil in it, too.

I’ve tried everything to save my pan. Soaking it, baking soda, etc… Do you have any suggestions? It may be time for a new stainless steel baby or a cast iron skillet. Any recommendations on brands and where to buy? Still, if I can save my fave, I will!

Despite that, I’d definitely make this dish again. Next time, maybe with ground beef.


Final Thoughts

We absolutely loved our experience with Plated! The cost may seem a little high. $60 for two-night’s meals for two people did to us. I could certainly get many more groceries for $60.

But consider the experience…

  • Trying Something New – I would have never made these two dishes otherwise.
  • Improving Cooking Skills – I now know that we like these dishes and I have the confidence to make them again!
  • Quality – Everything you receive is fresh. You receive ingredients like protein, vegetables, rice, soy sauce, mustard, etc. You don’t receive seasoning packets or mixes. This is not Hamburger Helper!
  • Taste – Take it from a girl who wants you to Season It Already!, the dishes we had were flavorful and better than what we expected.
  • Portion Size – They are generous. Although I think the calorie counts are a little high (600-900 per serving), you aren’t going to go hungry. You won’t get as much as ridiculously-portioned American chain restaurants serve, but you aren’t going to get a Lean Cuisine-sized meal either. It’s somewhere in between. No one will walk away feeling hungry. I thought that each meal could have probably served about three instead of two.
  • Healthy – These ingredients are fresh and for the most part, non-processed. If you are following a program where you want to eat clean or real foods, this will suit you. Weight Watchers Simply Filling followers rejoice! If you are concerned about calorie intake, you can choose a “low-calorie” dish or split the dishes into three instead of two portions.
  • No Waste – Everything is sent to you pre-measured. Normally, if you find a recipe that includes an ingredient that you don’t normally use, you will either 1) skip the recipe, 2) pay for an entire container that you’ll only use a portion of once and waste the rest, or 3) buy a perishable item that you only use a portion of and have to figure out how to use the rest before it spoils.
  • Service – Groceries are delivered to you and you do no meal planning for the meals you order. You don’t even have to think until you read the directions to cook!

We definitely are going to use Plated again. Not every week, but when we are needing a little inspiration or the dishes look incredible. I seriously think I could eat one of every dish from the April 12th delivery!

Want to try it now?

At the time of this writing, Plated just appeared on Shark Tank and are offering a four-plates-for-free for the first 500 people who sign up. If you choose to go that route, you will pay $20 shipping and you will be signed up for the Membership for $10/month.

Your other option as a new customer is to get two plates for free (minimum four plates, shipping included) by clicking here. This is my referral link and good anytime!

*I received half-off of Plated through another customer’s referral program. Plated did not provide me with any product nor compensate me in any way to write this review. All opinions are my own.


Now it’s time for…





  • MondayLazy Girl’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole (with pork)
  • Tuesday – Blue Cheese & Bacon Mac & Cheese – I saw this and pictured my husband swooning! I hope it turns out. It’s a bit high-cal (but also high protein), so I’ll be serving myself a smaller portion, probably over spinach and topped with tomatoes!
  • Wednesday Zoodles with Meat Sauce. Or noodles. Depends if I can pick up some good zukes.
  • Thursday – Leftovers
  • Friday – Poker Night
  • Saturday – TBD
  • Sunday – TBD


  • Leftovers
  • Quick & Easy Bowls I didn’t actually make these last week because I was out of tomatoes – GASP! I did make one salad though with garbanzo beans and Caesar Dressing and it was to die for! Now that everything is right with the world and tomatoes are in the house, that Roasted Tomato Dressing will get made!
    1. Base – handful of spinach or other greens
    2. Grain/Starch – I was going to add 1/3 cup of pasta, but I’m thinking if I do a cold salad, I’m going to just double the protein
    3. Protein – 1/2 can garbanzo beans, drained
    4. Veggies – 1/3 can Italian diced tomatoes, drained and 1/3 onion sauteed with 1 zucchini
    5. FatFeta – using a light cheese because my sauce is made with lots of olive oil!
    6. SauceRoasted Tomato Dressing
  • Snacks – fruit, string cheese or nuts and dark chocolate



  • Monday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 4, Day 1
  • Tuesday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga
  • Wednesday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 4, Day 2
  • Thursday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 4, Day 3
  • Sunday – REST

Have you tried Plated yet? If so, what did you think?

Any suggestions to clean a charred non-stick skillet?


Running Again!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Did you see my {Shamrock} Saturday post revealing his breeds from the DNA kit we used? If not, check it out. He’s a-dog-able.


I have great news. My broken toe is pretty much healed! I walked on the treadmill this weekend a bit and decided I’m going to give the Couch to 5k another go. I’ll start slowly. I’m not going to worry about speed at all… I’ll go slow if I have to and back off if I have toe or back trouble. But I’m just going to do it!

I ran my first 5k about two years ago. Then last year, while recovering from back surgery, I participated in the same 5k. Only, I had to walk it. It was then that I decided that I’m going to be a part of the Challenge Obesity 5k every year as a re-commitment to health each spring.

The great news is…

The Challenge Obesity 5k normally takes place in April. However, it’s been scheduled about a month later this year – on May 17th. This gives me just enough time to complete the Couch to 5k program. And if for some reason I need to slow down and scale back… Well, then I can always walk it!

I want to incorporate some yoga to continue to build my core and some strength training, too. And I’m looking for recommendations. I did find this 5k training program, which includes links to stretches and yoga workouts, those of which I’m going to try to add to the Couch to 5k program. What do you think?

Do you have specific yoga moves you’d suggest? Also, does anyone have an easy, beginner strength training program that you’d recommend? How ’bout links to your favorite stretches or yoga poses post-workout?

Now it’s time for…




  • MondayOne Pot Ravioli Lasagna from Tiffany at Cute Dogs and Hugs. She had me at San Marzanos. This makes eight servings, so we’ll have plenty of leftovers for lunches and such this week!
  • Tuesday English Muffin Pizzas <– We finally had these this weekend! The recipe makes eight English muffin halves. I made the sauce for all eight, but only put four in the oven. We’ll have the other four (two halves for each of us) this week. They are so good!
  • WednesdayGarlic & Herb Pork Chops with Parmesan Asparagus
  • Thursday – Dinner at a friend’s place.
  • Friday – We are going to see the Sing-Off Live. I’m proposing dinner out beforehand at the Loon Cafe. I haven’t been there in years and even then it was only for drinks. They’ve won awards for Best Burger and Best Chili. We’ll be the judge of that. 😉
  • Saturday – TBD
  • Sunday – It’s my turn to choose for our girls’ dinner night out. Only… I chose breakfast at Victor’s 1959 Cafe. I’ve been there for dinner with my mom, but the breakfast menu looks even better! Can’t wait for more Cuban coffee! Oh wait. That’s breakfast. Dinner with Rob TBD.




  • Monday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Day 1
  • Tuesday – Cross train/Yoga
  • Wednesday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Day 2
  • Thursday – Cross train/Yoga
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Day 3
  • Sunday – REST

This week, I’m looking for some of your strength training and yoga links for runners!

Please share!


And the 2014 Olympics come to an end…


I just love the Olympics! I didn’t watch as much this year as I normally do. But I get excited every time it comes around. I’m sad that it has come to an end.

And please know that those twin toilet bathrooms that many found in Sochi can be found here in the states, too! Here’s a throwback photo from our visit to Michigan last summer:


O’Sullivan’s Pub – Gladwin, Michigan

In other news, yesterday was my two-year blogaversary. I don’t know what I really want to say about that. Time flies? 😉

Now it’s time for the usual…




Just an fyi – last week’s Zoodles with Meat Sauce were a hit! <<– Highly recommended. I followed this recipe, but used a julienne peeler like Jen did here. I made a meat sauce instead of meatballs.


  • Leftovers
  • I’m still loving these Quick & Easy Bowls! Last week’s bowls were heated. This week’s lunches will be leftovers of the Taco Salads I’m making for dinner. The layers will include:
    1. Base: romaine
    2. Grain/Starch: 1/2 cup rice {I might forego the rice this week if I don’t have time to make it and double the protein!}
    3. Protein: 1/2 cup beef & black bean mixture from above {I might put this in a separate bowl to re-heat and top on the salad at work before eating.}
    4. Veg: onion and grape tomatoes or drained canned tomatoes
    5. Fat: shredded cheese or Wholly Guacamole
    6. Sauce: Salsa-Ranch Dressing that Biz always recommends!
  • I have blackberries, bananas as well as nuts as snacks. And of course, my daily dose of dark chocolate.


  • I have a couple of options available and will make them depending on what I am in the mood/have time for each day:
    • Breakfast Quesadillas – I made a couple of these last week inspired by the Breakfast Quesadilla we had at Ike’s before our flight to St. Augustine. In my at-home version, I used:
      • Flour tortilla
      • Scrambled egg with diced onion
      • chopped tomato or salsa
      • Shredded cheddar
      • So easy and delicious! {I guess I’ve been in a Mexican/Tex-Mex mood lately!}
    • PB Toast
    • Granola with milk


  • Post-back surgery PT exercises until I get strong enough to move into more yoga.
  • Recumbent bike
  • I should be good to get back on the treadmill next week!

Do you prefer the winter or summer Olympics?

What your favorite thing to make when you are in a mood for Mexican or Tex-Mex?


So Good, So Easy…


Because we got back from vacation Monday night, I didn’t have any meals planned this week. Luckily, I came across this post for Quick & Healthy Weeknight Dinners because I was famished when I got home from work yesterday. Since I was cooking for just me, I gave it a go…

Anne’s formula is simple. Here are the ingredients I chose to use for one serving:

  1. Base – handful of spinach wilted in the microwave
  2. Grain/Starch – 1/3 cup leftover angel hair pasta
  3. Protein – 1/3 can navy beans, drained
  4. Veggies – 1/3 can Italian diced tomatoes, drained and 1/3 onion sauteed with 1/3 package sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  5. Fat – I didn’t add any cheese or avocado because I figured that I sauteed my veggies in a bit of olive oil already and my sauce was made of mayo.
  6. Sauce – I made a Creamy Italian Dressing from Homemade Mayo

After wilting the spinach, I heated the pasta, navy beans and tomatoes and topped with the sauteed onion and mushrooms. Then I drizzled the Creamy Italian Dressing on top and seasoned the entire dish with salt and pepper.

This dish was so good! I didn’t think of taking a picture because it really wasn’t that pretty all mixed up. But I loved the combo so much that I mixed the other two thirds of the other ingredients in two separate bowls for leftovers.

So good, so easy! I’ll definitely be using this recipe template in the future. Special thanks to Anne at Fannetastic Food.

Do you have any go-to formulas when you need to throw something to eat together quickly?



I wasn’t sure if my combo would turnout