Tag Archives: food

I Made It! {And I need cooking advice.}

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Well, I made it through NaBloPoMo posting everyday for the entire month of November. It was a challenge, but I found that it wasn’t as difficult as I had thought. I have so many ideas popping around in my head and I was able to finally put some down in print.

I finally put up a bunch of Restaurant Impressions {which is my husband’s favorite part of the blog}, some of which we’d experienced quite awhile ago. Other times, I posted these impressions within a few days of dining there. {And I’ve found that is always the best when everything is fresh in my mind and I can still taste the food.}

But now I’m going back to posting about three to five times a week. If you are still following, you may have been getting sick of daily posts anyway, right? 😉

This week…

planning

Food

I have three days available to cook and then we’ll use the leftovers. Here is what I intend to make:

  • Mediterranean Risotto courtesy of my November Foodie Penpal {Thanks, Brandi!} along with flank steak. Anybody got a good recipe to make it flavorful and tender? I’ve never cooked flank steak before because it’s not Rob’s favorite cut. But it was on sale and is grass fed beef! I have about 3/4 pound. I would love it to be well-seasoned and tender. We usually eat filet mignon or sirloin and like medium rare. Suggestions welcome!
  • Pasta with this arrabbiata pesto. I found this jar in the store and bought it on a whim because we love spicy sauces! Any suggestions for a protein with this one? I think some sliced chicken breast would work well. But since Rob is allergic, do you think sliced pork chops will be okay?
  • Something easy with ground beef. What’s your favorite, easy go-to?

~

Fitness

Despite my attempts to plan fitness every Monday, it just hasn’t been happening. To get back in the groove, I’m in search of a core strengthening program for those who’ve had back surgery. I’m finding that even “easy” yoga and “basic” pilates are still difficult for me. And I want to have that core strong before I attempt to begin running again.

Until then, I need to do what’s best for the back and keep walking

Please, give me your best tips and recipe suggestions for the above!

Cheers~
Carrie

Return to Food & Fitness

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We are back from vacation and I’m ready for a detox. After a beautiful wedding in Pasadena, a night in Beverly Hills, and a few days tasting wine {& beer!} in Temecula Wine Country, my body is craving anything and everything healthy. Vegetables. Fruits. Protein. Exercise. Water.

So here goes for this week…

planning

Food:

  • Dinners
  • Breakfasts
    • Peanut Butter Toast
    • Protein Granola with Milk
  • Lunches
    • Buffalo Chicken Salad with crackers + pear or applesauce + Laughing Cow-stuffed mini peppers + Chobani yogurt
    • Caprese Salad + pear or applesauce + Laughing Cow-stuffed mini peppers + Chobani yogurt
    • Leftovers

Fitness:

  • Monday – Walk on Treadmill
  • Tuesday – Pilates
  • Wednesday – Walk/Run on Treadmill
  • Thursday – Elliptical in am
  • Friday – Elliptical in am
  • Saturday – Walk
  • Sunday – Pilates
  • 30-day Arm Challenge

So that is what’s in store this week. Don’t worry, you’ll get to hear about our trip and tips for L.A. / Temecula Wine Country over the next week and a half. It won’t exactly be in order, but that’s okay! 😉

What helps you “re-set” after vacation?

Cheers~

Mediterranean Pork Chops {Food & Fitness Link-Up}

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I made two blog-post worthy meals out of last week’s

Food & Fitness Linkup!

I’ll be showcasing one today.

Mediterranean Pork ChopsMy plan for Tuesday was to make some sort of pork chops with pesto green beans or zucchini and onions with herbes de Provence.

I decided on the zucchini and onions because I had three zucchini in the fridge that needed to be used and also found some fresh mozzarella which I no longer had tomatoes {gasp!} to make a Caprese salad.

So I improvised.

Yes. Me. Little Miss Follow-the-Recipe played the thing by ear. This always makes me nervous because I’m not sure what I’ll do if Rob doesn’t like what I make. We already go out to eat too much and I fear that if I don’t make something fabulous, he’ll want to eat out more. {I’m trying to push it in the other direction for both our health and pocketbook’s sake!}

In any case, I knew that Melissa d’Arabian’s Sweet Vegetable Saute side is always a hit with Rob, so I wasn’t too worried there. However, the last time I made pork chops with a Tuscan herb rub, I over-seasoned the meat, which made them nearly inedible. We had to scrape off much of the seasoning. It was also an herb rub I hadn’t used before, so I wasn’t very familiar with it.

Tip: When trying out new spices, use a little less than you think. You can always add more later.

This time, I decided to use my absolute favorite herb blend ever – the Rosemary Herb Seasoning Mix by Pampered Chef. Unfortunately, this blend has been discontinued. I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m out. It’s what I like to use when I make popcorn my favorite way. If anyone has the exact blend for this seasoning, please send it my way. I’ve tried to look it up online and there are so many different variations or guesses. But I don’t want any other Italian Seasoning mix, I want THAT blend!

In any case, for these Mediterranean Pork Chops, you can use any of your favorite Italian Seasoning Blends, Herbes de Provence or fresh herbs of your choice. You are just gong to have to play around to find the right mix for you.

Mediterranean Pork Chops with Sautéed Zucchini and Onions

  • olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil.)
  • onion
  • zucchini
  • Italian, Tuscan or Herbes de Provence seasoning (to taste)
  • 4 pork chops (approximately 1 lb)
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella (sliced)

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Start chopping and cooking the Sautéed Zucchini and Onions by following this recipe. If you don’t like onions, you can skip or use yellow squash or bell peppers. It doesn’t matter how much you use of each veggie, just season with Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper to taste. The dish can hang out and sauté on low for as long as you making the rest of this dish.
  • I like to pound the pork chops thin if they aren’t already. Then, brush one side of the pork chops with olive oil and rub with Italian seasoning mix to taste. Since my first over-seasoning debacle, I tend to under-season now because I know I can add more later. Don’t forget to add salt if your seasoning mix does not contain any.
  • Lightly spray a pan (I used a grill pan) with cooking spray or olive oil and heat to medium-high.
  • Once hot, put the chops in the pan, seasoned-side down.
  • Brush the remaining side with the olive oil and rub with more Italian seasoning.
  • Sear the chops for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  • Transfer the chops to a baking sheet or pan.
  • Top with slices of fresh mozzarella.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through and mozzarella has melted.
  • Drizzle with a little good quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a little kosher or sea salt to finish.

Enjoy!

So what’s up this week?

planningWe have a lot coming up this weekend, so I’m not planning my days out exactly. Instead, I know that we will be eating at home four of the days and will just cook one of the following on any given day.

Food:

  • Dinners:
  • Breakfasts – Peanut Butter Toast, Granola with Milk
  • Lunches – Leftovers and Snack Lunches (This week, Poorman’s Caprese, cantaloupe, a piece of dove dark chocolate, Chobani yogurt, and a Tbsp of cashews.)

Fitness:

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I stopped running because my back was starting to hurt again. I switched to walking. Last week, the plan was to increase my walking mileage by 10% of the previous week. So my goal last week was to walk just a total of 8 miles.

But I didn’t do it.

By the end of the week, I realized that I need a better plan. I need some more structure. A goal. Then I remembered that what I wanted to do is finish the LOST Virtual Races. Joe has added four more races to reflect the last Stations of the LOST Dharma Initiative. Originally, I wanted to do the Couch to 5k, get back to running those and then run the last 7k, 8.15k, 9k and 10k stations.

If I can’t run right now, it’s time to get back to fitness walking. So my plan is to finish these stations by walking them, but not at a leisurely pace. I need to push myself!

So on Sunday, I completed the LOST 7k – Staff Station!

LOST Station 7 – Staff 7K

Complete!

What is your favorite way to eat pork chops?

Cheers~
Carrie

I Took a Walk…

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It was 4pm on Sunday. We just suffered a Packer loss. It was a rough, close game that shouldn’t have been. We just returned from the Buffalo Tap. But it was an absolutely gorgeous day.

So I decided to go for a walk.

I posted last week that I had decided to stop running in hopes that would alleviate some back pain. I was right. However, I knew I had to keep moving somehow, even if it wasn’t at the same same intensity level. My plan was to walk just one mile every day. I figured that it was a start and I know that walking is the best thing I can do for my back.

I had some rough days. I had some days where that one mile was very challenging. I had a day where my legs hurt almost as bad as The Worst Day before my diagnosis and inevitable back surgery. And I most certainly didn’t keep up with walking just one mile every day.

But I did feel better as the week went on. And knowing that one mile per day equated to just seven miles for the entire week, I was determined on Sunday to finish what I had started.

Only, I walked just two miles the entire week.

Only, I can’t remember the time I walked five miles.

Only, my iPhone was dead.

But I went anyway. I stepped out the door with just a written route and water bottle in hand, along with my thoughts. I had no music, no podcosts, no iPhone to keep me company. Earlier, I had serious thoughts of walking on the treadmill and watching a movie to keep my mind occupied over the five miles.

However, there was no way I was giving up the last day of summer in Minnesota with it’s perfect sunshine and 78-degree and breezy weather. I stepped out with no time, no pace in mind. I had no electronic gadgets to gauge me, not even a watch. I was determined to walk for the pure enjoyment of it.

It was heavenly.

I enjoyed the scent of fresh air. The kind that you open the windows for, but then snuggle under the covers in the fall. In fact, the scents where my favorite part of the entire walk! Occasionally, I’d get the scent of burgers on the grill, or lighter fluid igniting charcoal, or someone cutting the grass or laying fresh mulch.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. Despite the beautiful weather, not many people were out. I like to count dogs to pass the time while I’m running or walking and during this walk, I only counted seven. Perhaps people were enjoying the last few weekends up at their cabins. Maybe they were napping the afternoon away. I saw and heard no televisions, so I couldn’t imagine that many were inside watching football. The Vikings had already suffered a loss that day as well.

I completed nearly five miles. And when I returned and looked a the clock, I Had been gone for an hour and twenty minutes, about ten minutes longer than my first five-mile race.

Boy does it feel good to walk.

~

Now it’s time for:

planning

This week was all about the audibles!

Food:

Fitness:

Seven miles total (over three days.)

What’s in store this week?

Food:

Fitness:

Increase my walking mileage by 10% (round to the nearest half mile.) Therefore, my goal is to walk 8 miles. Sounds simple, but I’ve got to listen to my body. I don’t want to get injured again!

So, in looking at my meals this week….

If you had to choose, would you go to Heidi’s or Louis Ristorante and what would you order?

Which of chili recipes over at My Bizzy Kitchen would you try?

Have a great week!

Cheers~
Carrie

Foodie Penpal from Colorado

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This month’s Foodie Penpal box came from Kelly from Colorado. She told me this was her first month with Foodie Penpals and asked me for some tips as well as my preferences.

She more than exceeded my expectations!

photo 1

Kelly is a cupcake blogger over at High Altitude Cupcakes. {Love that name!} As I drooled over the photos of her creations, I knew there was no way she could send me a cupcake without it flattening in transit. Or, if she had perfected cupcake shipment, she would more likely have to send only cupcakes, which could be a beautiful thing. But it also could be bad thing if all cupcakes were consumed {by me} in one sitting! But as I suspected, cupcake shipment still proves difficult. In fact, when I wanted to send last month’s Foodie Penpal some banana chocolate chip muffins, I opted to send her the dry ingredients along with the recipe instead.

photo 2

Her beautiful, hand-written card was fitting and adorable!

photo 3In this note, Kelly went into detail on each item she sent and why.  She carefully selected some items from her beloved home state as well as some of her own favorites.

photo 5Clockwise from the Cupcake note:

Doxy’s Smoky Chipotle Starter – Aurora, CO | This is the only item I have not yet tried. It’s a packet of natural herbs and spices that can be used to make salad dressing and dip or to season fajitas or pasta. It will not go to waste!

JJ Sweets Cocomels – Boulder, CO | Oh, Cocomels! Thank you for making another appearance in my life! I was first introduced to these when a sample arrived in my monthly Love with Food box. I once again adored these cream caramels made with coconut milk.

Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups – Boulder, CO | I’m familiar with Justin’s Nut Butters, but I wasn’t aware that the company also made peanut butter cups! And with dark chocolate? There was no way that this could go wrong. And it didn’t. Each cup made it into a day starring as my daily piece of chocolate. Mmm.

Chuao Chocolatier Chocolate Covered Potato Chip Bar | I adore this chocolatier! Kelly just discovered it and with my love of chocolate, knew that she had to share.

Homemade Peach Jam | This is the best jam I’ve ever had! I am dead serious about this one. It’s made from Colorado’s famous Palisade Peaches. What I adore most about this jam is that the beautiful peach flavor shines through. It is not overly sugared. In fact, I told my husband that it kind of tasted like mashed fresh, ripe peaches. Beautiful and refreshing.

Clark’s Wildflower Honey – Fort Lupton, CO | This honey is produced from wildflower and bees out of Fort Lupton. I had recently run out of honey and always like to replace it with a new one from a local producer often found at the Farmer’s Market. Getting some from a Foodie Penpal is even better! I love the Wildflower variety of honey, too.

Homemade Fig & Olive Tapenade | Kelly sent this to cater to my love of Mediterranean inspired food. She said that she also shares that love. Of course, I’ve had  tapenade before, but I’ve never had it made with figs, which are something else I really love, but rarely ever get to enjoy here in Minnesota. And let me tell you, this tapenade is divine! It’s so versatile, too.

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Kelly suggested that I spread the tapenade with goat cheese on sliced French bread.

Perfect suggestion. This was an excellent way to enjoy it. I truly believe that if you are not a fan of olives, combining it with the figs mellows those distinct olive flavors out a bit with just that hint of sweetness. It also went perfectly with the honey ale above, which you’ll hear more about at a later date.

But then I got some ideas and enjoyed this beautiful Fig & Olive Tapenade in other ways!

with sliced tomato!

I added sliced tomato!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Drizzled with the wildflower honey!

I drizzled it with the wildflower honey!

Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!

Tapenade (4)

I put it in a salad!

I made a simple salad for a work lunch one day which included fresh farmer’s market greens, tomato, goat cheese and the Fig & Olive Tapenade. At work, I drizzled a little lemon grapeseed oil over the top to dress it and topped it off with a few sliced almonds for some added crunch. Highly satisfying. It reminded me of sitting in the sun at a café in Provence. {I smile as I sigh here…}

Thank you, Kelly, so much for this beautiful box of lovely treats.

I can tell that you put a lot of thought and heart into it.

Everything has won me over!

I shipped a box of Foodie Penpal goodies this month to Maggie in Georgia, who is a big lover of Cheez-its. Let’s just say that she set me up to send her some of the cheddar variety of our local Pop’d Kerns. 😉

If you’d like to participate in Foodie Penpals, here’s the best part:

You don’t need to have a blog to participate!

Here’s how it works:

1. Sign up by the 4th of the month that you want to participate.

2. On the 5th of the month, you are assigned a Foodie Penpal.

3. You communicate with your penpal about any food allergies or preferences, as well as where to ship the package.

4. By the 15th of the month, send $15 worth of food to your penpal that may include homemade goodies, local treats or just some of your favorite discoveries that you want to share! The box must also contain something handwritten.

5. You’ll receive a package from another Foodie Penpal, who was assigned to you.

6. If you are like me, you squeal with delight when your package arrives.

7. You enjoy said goodies, which you may have never known about otherwise.

8. If you are a blogger, you post about the package you received on the last day of the month – Reveal Day! {If you are not a blogger, you do not need to do anything, but thank your Penpal, of course! However, if your Penpal does blog, you can choose to write a guest post, if you so wish.}

What is your favorite food from your neck of the woods?

Cheers~
Carrie

“Weird, Wild & Wonderful Foods”

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Subscription Box Saturday – Love with Food Edition

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Subscription Box: Love with Food

Premise:Sample the best gourmet food products delivered to your door!”

Cost: $10/month + $2 shipping. (Special deals if you purchase more than one month at a time)

Extra Benefits: Review products, share recipes and refer friends for points toward free products.

What’s Special: For each box shipped and each order placed, a meal is donated to a hungry child.

To Join: Click here.

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This month’s theme was Weird, Wild & Wonderful Foods with Andrew Zimmern. As a Minnesota resident, I know that I should be a Zimmern fan, but I’m not. I’ve read some of his articles in Mpls St. Paul Magazine and I’m often offended. It’s his condescending tone to the average diner. {However, now that I think of it, maybe I sound the same way with my views as a beer snob.} In addition, my husband often asks how someone who eats bugs can be looked up to and considered an expert on food. I guess that just means he is open-minded, so maybe I should be a little more open-minded about Zimmern himself, too.

The contents:

April Love With Food Box - Weird, Wild & Wonderful with Andrew Zimmern

April Love With Food Box – Weird, Wild & Wonderful with Andrew Zimmern

Fennel Pollen from Pollen Ranch – This is the only item that I have not yet sampled. I’m curious what this spice will taste like when incorporated into a dish. I can imagine it has an anise aroma or flavor. Attached to the packet is a recipe for a fennel polled-rubbed pork tenderloin. However, LWF is currently encouraging people to create their own recipes and upload pictures!

The Good Bean Smoky Chili & Lime Chickpea Snacks – I was really excited to try these because I love chickpeas. But surprisingly, they didn’t have much flavor. I only at half the bag.

Creamy Buffalo Ranch Dip from Bufflo Dip – The jar reads to check out their website online for ingredients and nutrition facts. It took me a while to find it. Please note the spelling: It’s Buff Lo Dip. I think that’s pretty easy to miss. In addition, their website is pretty basic, so they must be a start-up company. It was suggested to dip crackers or veggies in this dip, but I decided to mix it with a can of chicken to make my own Buff Lo Chicken Dip. It tasted fine, but I think I’ll stick to the concoction I discovered on Jen, a priorfatgirl’s site. It’s easy enough to make without having an open jar of something to worry about finishing.

Somersaults Salty Pepper Nuggets – What are these? Well, take a look!

I adored the flavor of these! But I also love it when fresh baked bakery or restaurant bread has a bunch of different unique seeds and grains in it. I would eat these as a snack anytime!

Mini Pops Air Popped Sorghum Grain – Itty  Bitty Butter – These were like mini pieces of popcorn only made with the sorghum grain instead! Again, they’d be good if there was more flavor, though. This was supposed to be butter-flavored, but all I tasted was salt.

Oloves Lemony Lover Olives – These didn’t taste any more different than regular olives to me. Were they supposed to be lemon-flavored? The packaging was very convenient to bring some olives to work with me, though! It gave me the idea that I really should pack olives in my lunch more. I should just use them more in general!

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Oloves Lemony Lover Olives – Ingredients & Nutrition Facts

However, there was another product hiding in the back of the box that was not pictured above:

cocmels

JJ’s Sweets Cocomels – Original & Sea Salt flavors

I absolutely love caramels, but these made with coconut milk made them even better! …love, Love, LOVE! They are vegan, dairy free and gluten free; thus, they are great for folks following those sorts of diets. I would totally recommend these to anyone, especially as a unique gift. I can’t imagine anyone NOT loving these!

These were all new foods to me, so they were great to try. In my opinion, the most weird, wild or unique food in the box was the fennel pollen. If I come up with a good recipe, I’ll be sure to post!

What food do you eat that may be totally weird, wild or unfamiliar to others?

Cheers~
Carrie

SBS: Love with Food – International Delights (Jan 2013)

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This Subscription Box Saturday is one of my favorites!

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January 2013 Love with Food box theme!

I love to travel and love trying new foods from around the world. It’s almost like this theme was made for me.

January 2013 Love with Food box contents

January 2013 Love with Food box contents

LWF

ITALY: I have never met a Biscotti I didn’t like, so that was a no-brainer Sunday morning coffee dunker!

COLOMBIA: Despite the “lightly salted” label, I expected the Plantain Chips to be sweet. Nothing too special there.

VENEZUELA: Do you know how excited I was to see this ChocoPod? I received one in a Birchbox of mine not too long ago. Then I used some Birchbox points to buy an assortment pack to share with my husband. My absolute favorite of the assortment pack was the Firecracker ChocoPod. I guess we were just meant to be together. 😉 You must try these Firecracker ones!

JAPAN: My husband swore these Tea Cookies were made of seaweed. Without the descriptions in the box, there was no way to know because the bag they came in was unmarked. When I received the list above in an email I forwarded it to him. His reply? “Common knowledge:  seaweed is composed of Black sesame & green tea.  *duh*”

FRANCE: The GoGo Squeez came in my October box, but I seriously didn’t mind getting it again. This is an excellent healthy snack on the go. And I had no idea they were made in France!

INDIA: I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Chai. One night this week, I made this to help stave off a binge while I was lounging around waiting for my back to heal.

BELGIUM: I love chocolate, so those New Tree Chocolates were a treat for me! They were perfect for work. {I usually bring one dark chocolate with me to work each day to have with my coffee.} The flavors were unique and something extra special.

I adore my Love with Food boxes and look forward to trying new snacks each month. I can earn points for reviewing the products and use them to order my favorites. In addition, for each box that ships out each month, LWF donates a meal to a hungry child. This is a win-win in my book.

Looking back, here are my Love with Food boxes from 2012:

December 2012 – Happy Holidays

November 2012 – Happy Thanksgiving

October 2012 – Jumpstart the School Year

September 2012 – Back in Skinny Jeans

August 2012 – Travelin’ Treats

July 2012 – United States of Summer: Americana Celebration – My First Box!

What snack did you fall in love with while traveling abroad?

OR

What is your favorite international snack?

Cheers~
Carrie