Sunday, February 28, 2010

Amelia Earhart, Exotic Fruit, and a Chocolate Cake

This morning started out great!  I got up when I planned to and had some coffee and then I got my running clothes on.  I ran 4+ miles as I promised myself yesterday.


After the run, I showered and then prepared our Exotic Fruit plate for breakfast.

I think we all agreed the Mandarin oranges were really yummy (very sweet!) and the golden raspberries were good.  My personal favorite was the Strawberry Papaya.  In fact, just thinking about it now is making my mouth water!  

What I was REALLY looking forward to was this:


At about 2.5 miles this morning, I used this as incentive to get through the rest of the run.  I just kept thinking that I had a bowl of oatmeal waiting at home for me along with a hot cup of coffee!

I figured I needed to hydrate after the run, plus I needed to down some chia seeds this morning so I added them to a cup of Vita Coco.  I know it looks weird, but it was really good!  

Do you remember the "Bubble Tea" or "Boba Tea" that was popular a few years ago?  It had tapioca pearls in the bottom of a sweet tea or fruit beverage.  That's kind of what this reminded me of, with the chia seeds being a teeny tiny version of the tapioca pearls.

A trip to the grocery store was next up on the agenda and when we got home from the store, I was still right on schedule.  I had a To Do list for the day and had even planned the times when I needed to do things so I could be sure to get everything done, see...


It was about 2:00 and Matt's birthday cake was in the oven when my 8 year old broke the news to me that he had a research project due TOMORROW!  Luckily they did all of the research in class, but they were supposed to put the creative presentation together at home. 

As soon as the cake came out of the oven we headed to Office Max to get the supplies for his presentation.  His project was on Amelia Earhart.  It was actually kind of a fun presentation to do and we found the perfect poster board that was sky blue with clouds already printed on it!, I mean he...made kind of a 3 dimensional red airplane coming out of the page with propellers that spin!

The whole time this was going on, I was simultaneously trying to ice a cake and get dinner going.  I was stressed out to say the least!  

On the birthday dinner menu for tonight were Grilled Lamb Chops (for Matt only, the kids and I had steak), Grilled Lobster Tails, Roasted Asparagus, and Brown Rice. 

The cake was a Dark Chocolate Mocha Cake that was fabulous!  


The cake contained coffee liqueur and there was mocha cream in between the layers.  I served it with coffee ice cream...sinful!

...and painting the game room carries forward to the next to do list...


Saturday, February 27, 2010


We now have a new staple in our house and it's the Chia seed.  This little thing is a power house even though it's about the size of the seeds in a kiwi fruit.  I found a new blog a few weeks ago that I really love to read - it's called "Eat, Live, Run" - you really should check it out.  Anyway, I kept noticing that chia seeds were mentioned in a few of her posts (I think she normally puts them in her oatmeal) and wondered what in the heck they were.  See them below next to the penny as a size reference.

I did some research and learned that there's pretty much nothing bad about these tiny seeds that are considered a "Super Food".  I brought some home last night and we all tried them and decided we will incorporate chia seeds in our food.  Every so often throughout the evening my son would break into the chia song, "Ch-ch-ch-chia!" and Matt and I would just crack up!   

We woke up this morning and Matt and I were both craving eggs.  When I found out there were only two left, I let him have them and started digging in the fridge for my oatmeal.  Oh how disappointed I was when I realized I had eaten the last of it yesterday and didn't prepare a new batch last night.  I could have eaten rolled oats, but I'm telling you - they're like night and day, they don't even taste the same to me so I just didn't bother.  Instead, I fixed one of my multi grain bagels with almond butter and honey.


I took the kids with me to run some errands.  We had several places to go including buying a birthday present for Matt/Daddy.  Our first stop was the grocery store where we had fun picking out several exotic fruits to try. 


Here's our loot.  Watch tomorrow for our fruit tasting!


Our next stop was to get some supplies for a new project which will remain secret for a few days, but I'll give this picture below as a hint.

After our errands, we picked Matt up and went to our favorite local burger place.  


Everything there is fresh and made on site, they even form the patties and cut the fries behind a window for everyone to see.  It's so worth the thousand calories!!


This was a very late lunch, so it served as dinner too.  

I felt like I accomplished a lot today, but I didn't do everything I intended to do.  It was a jam packed day and a couple of the things that have been on my To Do list for a while now keep getting carried forward as time runs out.  I MUST get them done tomorrow!  I am making that commitment now "publicly" so it's harder to back out (forcing my motivation)...tomorrow I WILL run at least 4 miles and I WILL paint the game room!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Leftover Makeover

My day wasn't too exciting except for the fact that it's FRIDAY!!  It was a long hard week and I was ready for it to end.  So I guess I will say I was motivated to get the week over with. :D

When I get home on Fridays, usually the last thing I want to do is cook a full blown dinner.  We had some leftover pork tenderloin and veggies from last night so they got a makeover!


A Frittata is a wonderful thing!  You can put almost anything in it for a very satisfying meal.  I diced the pork, warmed it up the veggies, and then sprinkled parmesan cheese over the top.  I poured two beaten eggs over the top and cooked on medium low, covered, until done.  At the end I topped it with Monterrey Jack cheese.

I made a special trip to the liquor store tonight to get some sake, called Moonstone Raspberry Sake, that I recently tried at a restaurant.  It was SO good, like a really light and crisp white wine with just the essence of raspberry but not sweet at all.  They didn't have the raspberry but they had plum, so I gave it a try.


WAY too sweet for me!  Ugh!  But if you like really fruity and sweet drinks, then you should give this a try. 

I poured out the sake and settled for a Fat Tire - my beer of choice!

I've got some fun foodie things planned for the weekend, so stay tuned!  :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hello Motivation!

Even though I was REALLY tired today, I had more motivation than earlier in the week.  The weather was beautiful and I'm starting to plan for the weekend so maybe that had something to do with it.

I briefly talked about it only once so far, but coffee is a daily ritual for me.  I always have my coffee even though I don't mention it in the daily posts.  One of these days (soon) I'll dedicate a post to coffee "my way" because it is a wonderful thing! 

I was running late this morning, so took my breakfast with me to eat at work. 


I decided to try something new with my SCO so I added raspberries, almonds, 1/2 a banana, and some maple syrup.  Not bad!  

I went out to lunch with a friend from work and, as usual when I'm out at lunch, I forgot to snap a picture.  We often go to one of Austin's most popular local restaurants, Chuy's, and we always order the same thing.  I have Deluxe Chicken Enchiladas and my friend has the Chicken Fajita Burrito.  They also have awesome sopapillas, but we were trying to be good today so we restrained ourselves. 

I've been so hungry lately.  Even though I was stuffed after a big lunch, I was still ready for a snack around 3:00 this afternoon.  I had the other 1/2 of my banana and some greek yogurt with honey (I'm so hooked on this stuff!).

I rushed home around 6:00pm, did a quick change, and headed out for a short run.  Really short - I ran just under 2 miles before it started to get dark.  That's ok because I've been having some pain in my leg and I'm afraid I have a shin splint so I don't want to overdo it.

(FINALLY I got the screen capture to work on my iPhone!)

When I got home I fired up the grill and got to work on dinner.  I marinated broccoli, red pepper, red onion, grape tomatoes, and carrots in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  I grilled the veggies and a pork tenderloin that Matt started marinating in the afternoon in Wasabi Teriyaki sauce.  I cooked some couscous and voila!


Notice that I used the same "spinach trick" I tried the other day.  Because of the shape of the pork tenderloin, it didn't wilt the spinach quite as much but it was still good.  


Here's a close up of the grilled veggies:


It's late and I'm hungry again.  I think I've had plenty of calories today so I will skip the late night snack and go to bed. 

Red Pepper Hummus

Today was kind of blah and things didn't really go as planned.  I wanted to try to run after work, but it just wasn't in the cards today.  I've been really tired the past few days so I think that has brought my motivation down.  Hopefully it will come back soon!

Probably the high point of my day was this awesome hummus I made for dinner. 

I don't know if any pictures can do hummus justice, but this one certainly doesn't come close!  It was tasty!  I modified my original hummus recipe to incorporate a red bell pepper that I needed to use up.  Garbanzos, tahini, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, about 1/4 of a large red pepper, dash of Frank's Red Hot, and salt were all pulverized in the food processor.  As you can see, Matt couldn't even wait for me to take the picture before he dug in to it!  I served it with grilled chicken breast and flour tortillas. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Can See (The Snow) Clearly Now...

It really wasn't a "Terrific Tuesday" today, but it wasn't a "Terrible Tuesday" either.  It was Wacky and Weird (too bad it wasn't a Wednesday!) because today we received several inches of snow in Austin.  A very rare occurrence for south Texas!

It melted pretty fast as it hit the ground, but it caused a lot of excitement as everyone in the office had to go outside to take pictures and throw a few snowballs. 


Poor Roger couldn't even see the snow through all that overgrown hair, so he had a date with the groomer.
Mutt Makeover - Before

Mutt Makeover - After

I have to facilitate a structured meeting at work next week.  I have been trained to be a facilitator, but haven't done it for about 5 years so I'm very rusty.  I've been putting off the planning and preparation because I'm not too thrilled about it, but today I scheduled a few meetings with people that forced me to start the prep work.  That's another little trick I use to motivate me to do things I don't like.  I hate letting people down, so making a commitment to someone else that is time-bound adds a sense of urgency. 

The only noteworthy food item I have for today is the dinner I threw together tonight.  I tend to buy a lot of vegetables only to let them rot in the refrigerator because I forget they are in there.  Tonight I tried to incorporate as many veggies as I could with the frozen chicken breast that I always have on hand.  The result?  Lime Chicken Soft Tacos!


Not bad at all!  I diced and sauteed chicken breast, red bell pepper, red onion, and a jalapeno in a little bit of coconut oil and spices (chili powder, cumin, salt, and Mexican oregano).  Toward the end I added the juice of a lime.  The lime and spices that were used in this dish masked the flavor of the coconut oil so it was virtually undetectable.  

To assemble the tacos I piled a whole wheat tortilla with some spinach leaves, the chicken mixture, cheddar cheese, and some avacado slices.  

Top that off with some coffee ice cream and I'm ready to call it a night! 

I'll leave you with the image of Roger doing his happy (break)dance on the kitchen floor!  He's so happy to be able to see again!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Moody Monday

Today was a really yucky Monday for me.  Have you ever had a day where you wake up and wish you were sick so you could just stay in bed all day and not feel guilty about it?  That was me today...pretty sad, huh?  Well, I drug my behind out of bed and went to work, but was irritable and impatient all day.  I thought of several things I could do this evening to get out of the rut and end the day on a higher note - go for a run, do our taxes (wait, that might not have the desired effect!), or get started on a home project I've been meaning to do.  In the end, I decided that it's ok to be unmotivated once in a while so I did absolutely nothing!  And I'm ok with that. 

As far as food goes, it was a day of repeats.  Had my normal oatmeal and coffee for breakfast then some greek yogurt and a bagel with almond butter for lunch.  Luckily, no one was really hungry tonight so everyone was left to fend for themselves for dinner.

One thing I can share with you, however, is the bread I made last night.  It wasn't ready for dinner because of my poor planning, so it didn't make it into yesterday's post.  I came across a recipe for No-Knead Ciabatta Bread with a very helpful video.  I'm so glad I stumbled upon this recipe on the Food Wishes blog by Chef John and I can't wait to check out more of his great looking recipes! 


Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the dough before this stage, but you can see it in Chef John's video and mine looked just as he said it should.  This is a very easy recipe and would be great for people who may not be comfortable working with bread dough.  I LOVE to bake bread and do it often so I have gotten past the intimidation stage, but believe me it took some practice!

This made one BIG loaf of bread!  We're still eating it tonight dipped in some extra virgin olive oil and spices.  YUM!

Thank goodness "Moody Monday" is almost over.  Tomorrow I'm hoping for a "Terrific (not Terrible) Tuesday"!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Food Network Junkie

I do like to have one day a week to sleep in.  Today, I didn't get out of bed until just before 10:00am, although I enjoyed some coffee in bed before that.  I am happy that I didn't let the fact that we slept in ruin the rest of the day!  We hopped out of bed and started in on a big breakfast.


Let me explain the bacon...first of all you will find that although I like to eat healthy things, I rarely shy away from bacon.  Second of all don't you just hate cooking bacon on the stove?  It gets grease all over EVERYTHING!  I learned this trick from watching Tyler Florence on the Food Network - you cook the bacon in the oven on 375 for about 15 minutes.  I also made eggs and pancakes (chocolate chip pancakes for the kids and raspberry pancakes with powdered sugar for us!  YUM!).  

While I enjoyed my breakfast, I started in on my To Do list - I'm beginning to like this motivation strategy.  It helps me remember all of the things I would like to do, gives me a mission for the day, and I don't have to stop and rack my brain to remember what it was I needed to do next. 

It turned out to be a beautiful day!  It really felt like spring and I was glad that a few of the things on my list got me out of the house.  

After running a few errands, I was ready for a quick snack/lunch and then I put my running clothes on.


One of my errands was to go to the grocery store.  I bought these mini bagels in the bakery that are whole grain and topped with sesame and flax seeds.  One of those ended up being my lunch along with some fresh ground almond butter and honey.


The run felt great but I still don't feel up to running any long distances yet since my half marathon a week ago.  That said, I was certainly glad I didn't listen to the little voice inside telling me I should skip it - and thanks to Matt for giving me that extra encouragement to "just do it"!

I was a little thirsty when I started running, so by the time I was done I was dying for something to drink.  A bottle of water and a Vita Coco did the trick!  I discovered this drink a couple of months ago and it started my coconut obsession (coconut water led to coconut oil which led to coconut milk - you'll hear more about that later!).  Vita Coco is a great natural sports drink with tons of potassium and other electrolytes.  It also tastes great and comes in several flavors.  Pineapple and passion fruit are my favorites.
For dinner tonight, we had marinated flank steak, veggies, roasted potatoes and leftover brown rice.  I have to say, this dinner was AWESOME!  Matt was laughing at me because I kept patting myself on the back.


Sure, the recipe (one of our favorites) belonged to Rachel Ray, but do you see that green stuff poking out from under the meat?  Yeah, that was ALL me!  I loaded up the plate with some fresh spinach leaves, headed to the grill, took the meat off the burner and plopped it right down on top of that spinach.  I let the meat rest for about 10 minutes and meanwhile, the juices dripped down into the spinach and the heat from the meat "cooked" it just the perfect amount!  Oh my goodness was this good!  Even my 8 year old loved it!


It's pretty obvious by now that I spend a lot of time watching the Food Network.  I remember when the channel first started and I will likely be a loyal follower as long as they're around!


Saturday, February 20, 2010


It was a great Saturday!  I woke up at a decent hour (before 8:30) and we immediately started getting some chores out of the way.  Well...ok...after a cup of coffee and some SCO!
I have a secret about the coffee.  I've been sneaking coconut oil in it for a while now.  Matt doesn't seem to care for things cooked in coconut oil so I have to find some way to get that healthy goodness into him!  :)  If you've never heard about the benefits of coconut oil, you should really check it out.  There's a huge difference between the hydrogenated crap and extra virgin, unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil.

Getting out of bed and getting dressed at a decent time is a key motivator for me.  I got so many things done this morning instead plopping down on the couch in front of the TV. 

We ate a quick lunch, mostly leftovers, and then headed out to run a few errands.  I picked up these candle holders for the bedroom.
Not exactly what I want, but they were really cheap so they'll make due for now until I find something more sparkly!

After a quick stop at Whole Foods (LOVE that place!), we took the kids to the bookstore and just hung out for a while.  We browsed through some books and had some drinks - one of my favorite things to do with the family on the weekends!

By the time we got home it was time for dinner.  I have had this weird craving lately for vegetables of all kinds. 

In one corner we have acorn squash and beets roasted in that wonderful coconut oil and then glazed with honey.  In the other corner we have asparagus and mushrooms brushed with olive oil and spices and a pat of butter.

While I was cooking, I had a glass on Pinot Noir.  I love to have a nice glass of wine while I cook.  I really like this one...

 Dinner was yummy!  I grilled some chicken and made some short grain brown rice to serve with the overabundance of veggies.  :)