Friday, April 29, 2011

Hodge Podge Chicken

Hi there, I hope you all are enjoying your freaky Friday night! :)

I'm back to share a new weekend night-in recipe with you guys tonight.

I have to admit, this one isn't all that creative, but it wasn't too shabby either! ;)

Last night, I knew it would be best for us to hunker down and stay in tonight with all of my studying this weekend and the moving-related expenses piling up.

I scratched my head a little, and knew a crock pot dinner would be the best option since I'd be tired from studying all day & probably not in the mood to cook up a storm in the kitchen once I got home.

You might have noticed I've been doing a LOT of crock pot stuff lately.  It's just so easy peasy and it really never fails me! :) Plus, who doesn't love coming home to that delicious smell??

I promise next week I will have an non-slow-cooker recipe for you all, but for now, let's get to it!

I search online and found some recipes for Crock Pot Chicken Alfredo. This sounded AH-mazing, because I feel like we've been doing so much tomato-based stuff lately, so I was ready to switch it up.

As they will, plans kinda changed once I got to the grocery store.  I mosied on over to the "Pasta Sauce" aisle at Whole Fizzle expecting to find a wide variety of deliciously over-priced Alfredo sauces.

Not so much.

Whole Foods had a HU-mungo selection of pasta sauces (this pic probably shows about 1/10th of the selection), but I was dumb-founded to find only ONE Alfredo sauce in the entire aisle.  That's right -- UNO.  Do you see that little guy there towards the middle?? It's like playing Where's Waldo trying to find a white sauce in this store!

I decided to roll with it, and picked up the one-and-only choice.  I had a mini heart attack.  That little sucker has like 5000 calories in it and 500 million grams of fat.

I don't expect Alfredo sauce to be made with lettuce, but seriously, this was not happening.  My thighs were screaming "don't dooo it!!"

I stared at the selection for about 10 minutes, and finally landed on this choice:

Lucini Savory Tomato Parmigiano Sauce

This stuff looked & sounded yummy -- and it bosted EVOO, 100% au naturale, and no sugar added.  Sign me up! 

After witnessing the fairy tale this morning, I got to cookin'. 

Jessica's Hodge Podge Crock Pot Chicken

3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cubed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, sliced up into 1/2 inch(ish) pieces
2 cups of broccoli florets (fresh or frozen works just fine!)
1 jar of your choice of pasta sauce (next time, I will try Alfredo)
1/2 to 1 full cup of dry white wine (I used some leftova sauvignon blanc)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 teaspoons of dried basil

Step #1: Pull out yurr Crock Pot, and get her plugged in.

Step #2: Layer the pepper slices on the bottom of the pot.

Step #3: Add broccoli florets on top of the peppers.

Step #4: Throw the onion, followed by the minced garlic, into the mix.

Step #5: Layer the cubed chicken on top of the mixture.

Step #6: (The best part, IMO) Pour the wine into the crock pot.

**Tip: I like to pour any added "liquids" down the sides of the pot, so that whatever is on the bottom stays moist.

Step #7: Pour the entire jar of pasta sauce on top of the chicken (spread evenly so it's all covered).

Step #8: Sprinkle the basil on top of the sauce.

Step #9: Cover the pot with the lid and turn it onto "low."

Step #10: You know the drill..."set it, and forget it!" Let your meal cook all day (mine cooked for about 8 or 9 hours, and was perfecto!).

Behave Potty! I'll eat you later! 

Step #11: Come home to the amazing smell of a delicious meal.

Serve this dish alone with some freshly grated Parmesan (if you want a stew-like dish), or with some whole wheat linguine for a little more substance.

This stuff hit the spot!

The chicken was juicy, the veggies were perfectly cooked, and the sauce was the j.a.m.

I even used REAL shredded Parmesan cheese, not the fakey stuff in the green plastic container.

I think the wine I used for this recipe would be great for sippin along side the meal.  It was a super inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc (right around $10), courtesy of Woodbridge.

Can't go wrong, it's very light & refreshing for Spring!

This one might have been a hodge podge, but I think it will be making the rounds in our house again in the near future.  Happy bellies.

I hope you all have a great night & weekend!

I'm off to try to convince Justin to watch Little Fockers. Heheh :)



Royal Indecision

Good afternoon friends!! :)

Happy fuhhh-reaky deaky Friday! We made it!!

So did any of you all give up some sleep last night to watch the royal wedding bright & early?! Justin asked me if I was going to get up to watch it live, and I said "h-e-double-hockey-sticks no." I needed my beauty sleep!

I did, however, rush to the TV & my computer first thing this AM to quickly find a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress!

I must say, it was breathtaking!

Very formal, and obviously not something that I, myself, would wear, but perfectly lovely & appropriate for a soon-to-be princess! :)

I think she is just classically beautiful.

So, my morning was full of indecision.

I have the whole day off today to study, but I really didn't have my day mapped out like I usually do.

I woke up in the mood to go to my gym for a Spin class, which I haven't done in foooorever, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to go to the morning class, or wait until after my studying to go at night.

I love to get my workout out of the way in the morning, whenever possible, but when I read who was teaching the class, my mind was made up.  It was my old psycho personal trainer!! (cue the horror music!).

Not gonna lie, psycho trainer knows how to teach a mean spin class (that's how I actually chose her to train me in the first place).  Unfortunately, after 3 months of training with her, I am now avoiding her like the plague.  She did a great job of whipping me into shape, but she kind of made me miserable throughout that time.

Psycho trainer made me keep track of every morsel of food I ate, and then proceeded to attack everything on the list.  God forbid I should have a carb after 5pm.

When I was going on vacation with my Mom for 3 days last spring (that's right, three days!), she gave me a stern warning not to indulge in any vacation food because "that's plenty of time to ruin things."  And to that, I said, "who are you crappin?!" ;)

The kicker was one morning when I came in to train with her at 6am before attending one of her spin classes, and she asked me if I was "feeling gassy?" I instantly started blushing, thinking I accidentally left "an odor," as my grandma would say.  When I asked her "why do you ask?" she said, "oh, your stomach just looks bloated."  That's right folks.

And that is why I broke up with said trainer.

I'm getting a little off topic now, so let's get back to it.  After several months of turning corners at the gym, I'm not about to voluntarily face her in a spin class just so she can look judging-ly at my semi-ghetto booty and kindly suggest that I stay on for the next class.

To my surprise & delight, one of my favorite teachers is teaching tonight's class: Mr. Russell.  This guy is soooo great.  He shows up in bright neon, head-to-toe workout gear, and plays the cheesiest techno/dance party music throughout the class.  As soon as I saw his name on the schedule, it was a done deal.

On to the next dilemma, where shall I lock myself inside to study today??

I usually prefer to study at coffee shops, but after my laptop got stolen right out from in front of me before my last finals period (coffee shop to remain unnamed, but they might just serve my favorite frothy skiiiivizzz...), I'm a little bit scurred.

Also, I really wanted to bring my own lunch today, and most places don't take kindly to you bringing in your own food.

So hear I am, cramming away, in my sad little cube at the library...

At least I got a window seat on this sunny day...

{Not the most pleasant view, but I'll take what I can get!}

And dark chocolate for some inspiration.

Ain't it the truth?! 

I'm gonna get back to the books, but stay tuned for a bran-spankin-new Friday weekend night-in recipe, which I plan to post tonight with our reviews! :)

This one was not without a little disaster...

Pasta sauce, meet hardwood floor, and my tootsies. 


**Something to talk about: Do you have an old trainer or exercise instructor who you're avoiding??



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keep Calm, and Carry On

Good morning everyone!

If you missed my post last night, you might be getting yourself a double-dose today. What fun! ;)

Hope you all are having a great week!

So you all know things have been a little hectic up in hurr. We've been out of town a lot recently, looking for a new apartment, and I am trying to get ready for my final exams, all while juggling lots of projects, and some pressure, at work.

I have to admit, all of this has been getting to me.  I have been a little sick both mentally and physically this past week, and haven't been feeling much like my cheery go-go self.

Everyone has these times where it seems like there should be 30+ hours in a day, and the last thing on your mind is giving your body good fuel through food and taking time out to exercise.

Trust me, I've been there, I've done that, I've bought the entire wardrobe.

I wanted to share with you all some "healthy living" advice that I try to live by when I'm burning the candle from 5 different ends (didn't even know you could do that, right?!).


1) Try to stick to eating meals/snacks prepared at home as much as possible. This can be VERY difficult when you are busy/stressed, because who has time to spend 1 hour at the grocery store and then deal with all of the meal prep?  What I try to do is get to the grocery store on Sunday, and plan for meals that make lots of leftovers, or quickie, no-brainer meals.

For example, the pasta with the peppers is pretty quick to make, and you can eat leftovers of it for almost 3 days.

Other good recipes are "set-it-and-forget it" meals, like shredded pork for sandwiches (you will also have food for days with this one), or italian sausage with peppers.

Another one that is easy as a (sloppy) pie, is the sloppy joe recipe over on peanut butter fingers.  A much better option that driving through Micky D's.

If I don't have these options on hand, I am very quick to revert back to my old ways of eating out for 2+ meals a day, and that will make your waistline, and your wallet, achy pretty fast.

2) Be prepared. If you know you are someone who tends to eat everything in site when you are stressed out, you better have some healthy options in that line of sight.

For example, yesterday, I was in the mood to drown myself in ice cream with chocolate sauce by the time the afternoon rolled around.  Luckily, I had one of my Vita Tops stashed in the fridge at work, so I was able to heat that baby up really quick and feel comforted without any guilt.

3) Drink EXTRA water. Another tip for stress eaters.  When you get the urge to get up and dive into that bag of Cheetos, take a minute to think about whether your really are hungry, or whether that stress monster is just nagging at you.

Try getting up to fill yourself a large bottle of water to switch gears.  This will also help you stay hydrated & healthy when your body is getting beaten down.  I like to add a few lemon slices to my CamelBak around finals time so that I feel extra pampered and excited about guzzling down the H20.

Sweating while stressing: 

1) Do your best.  Everyone knows that exercising is a great stress reliever, so do your best to get in a little work out even when your world is spinning.  Maybe it's just a heated walk to and from the train while jamming out to your favorite Britney song.  Or maybe it's just 15 minutes of a DVD, like Body by Bethenny!

This is the "awkward chair," but would be better titled as the "torture chair." Youuch! 

Do your best.  Any little bit helps!

2) Stay calm, your body remembers.  I've had to tell myself this little "proverb" about 20 times this week already.  Yesterday was the FIRST DAY I was able to get in a sweat since last THURSDAY.  Maybe it makes me a crazy person, but I was really bummed about missing so many days of my runs/barre classes.  When I'm feeling this way, I usually go back and re-read this article that I have shared with you all before, an I am instantly zened and drowning out the noise.

Overall wellness: 

1) Get as much sleep as possible. When your body is running at 100 mph all day, you need to get some sleep.  When I was younger, my mom once told me that "as long as I was resting," that was good enough -- i.e., even if you're just laying in bed with your eyes shut for hours on end, that is much better than staying up until 2am working or watching tv because you cannot quiet the noise.  I'm not sure if that is actually true, but it makes me feel better! ;)

2) Be honest with yourself.  I want to do everything, and I want to do it well.  I often have to remind myself that it is better to only focus on 2 things, and excel, than to focus on 10, and to fail at all of them.  Maybe you don't have time to put in 8 hours at work, 3 hours of studying, and then still meet your friends for dinner like you planned.  Try to be honest with yourself and adjust accordingly.  I always feel bad cancelling on friends, but I know that good friends will understand and we will catch up, after the craziness, like no time has passed.

3) Take a little "you" time.  This is a big one.  When you're go-go-go-ing and taking care of everyone else, don't you deserve 30 minutes to do something nice for yourself?  Maybe it's just 30 minutes of your favorite trashy reality tv show after a long day, or maybe you've got 30 minutes to get a quick manicure (with some seche vite for the fastest dry you've ever seen).  If that's too much, maybe you have 10 minutes to take a break and go get a warm, comforting skivizzle?

Don't forget to be good to yourself.  You deserve it!

4) Keep calm, and carry on. When I'm on the verge of a major mental breakdown, I try to take some deep breaths and remind myself to take it one day at a time, and that this too, shall pass.

So, there you have it.  I will be playing this post on repeat over the next week, and if you're feeling the stress, I hope you do too!

**Something to talk about: What are your tips for "healthy living" in times of stress? What is your #1 "downfall" when you're stressed out?

I hope you all have a great day! I'm off to tie some things up at work so I can go study my little tush off for the rest of the day.

See ya tomorrow for fuuhhhreaky Friday! :)



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Checkin In

Hi guys!

Hope you all had a great day!

Things are a little cuhhhrrayzee around here today, so I didn't get to the bloggage as early as I would have hoped.

As you all know, Justin & I were lucky enough to be at the Bulls game last night, and I must say, they were on FIYAH.  It was a classic booty whoopin.

Much better than the last game we went to, where the Bulls lost to the Kings after being up by 35 points!! Yikes!

The Bulls beat the Pacers last night to take the series, so now it's on to round 2! GOOOO Bulls! :)

Everyone at the game was in a celebratory mood, include myself & the birthday boy.

We made friends with our seat neighbors, shared lots of high fives and some ice cold refreshments, and had an absolute blast.  My dinner was a pulled pork sandwich, which was unfortunately a little disappointing.  It kinda just tasted fake, nowhere near as good as the shredded pork I make in the Crocky Potty.

The apartment hunting was very successful yesterday! Justin I had some tough decisions to make today, and FAST.

After much debate over 2 different places, we decided on our favorite, and put in our application & security deposit tonight.  We now just have to wait for our credit check to be run and to see if we are approved by the "condo board." The community we are hoping to rent in is mostly owned units, with a few large high rise condo buildings (where our place would be -- penthouse baybee) and lots of surrounding townhomes.  They actually only have 8 total units that are rentals in the entire community, so we would kinda be sneakin our way in there! ;)

The place is HUGE compared to what we have now (try 1500 square feet as compared to close to 900ish), it has 2 bedrooms and 2 full baths, a large balcony, all of the great amenities we want, closet space out the wazoo, a heated underground garage, and it's pretty much gorgeous! :) There are trees all around and a huge pond with a fountain that our balcony would face.

Can you tell I'm in love?? I literally heard that internal happy music when I walked in.  I'm huge on the gut feeling, and I definitely had that with this place.

We should find out if it's a done deal by this weekend.  Fingers crossed!! If we do get the place, I will most definitely post some pics to share with you all.

I'm off to get some much needed beauty sleep, but I'll be back in the morning for some tips for healthy living under stress -- something I am definitely battling with my upcoming finals period starting next week.  Ahhh!

Speaking of school, today I had my LAST law school class EVER! Woo to the hooooooo.  Only a little over 2 weeks until graduation. Unbelievable.

**Something to talk about: What do you guys think about house/apartment hunting? Super fun, or super stressful??

Sweet & happy dreams to you all!



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Birthday Breakfast

Hi friends! :)

I awoke this morning bright & early with a silly grin on my face because it is Justin's Birthday!!

I'm pretty sure I get more excited about this day than he does.  He is SO special to me and I love that there is a whole day designed to spoil him! ;)


From world champion Beer-Pong partners... 

To partners in every-day-I-wake-up-happier life

These last 4 years have been the happiest I've had because of you, 
and I can't wait to share birthdays upon birthdays to come together! I love you. 

Ok, enough of the mushy gushy... let's eat!! 

So yesterday, I told you all that I had some tricks up my sleeve for Justin's special day...

Last night, I put together one of his breakfast favorites, his Mom's famous hashbrown casserole!

Justin's Mom's recipes are the absolute BEST.  She was so sweet and typed me up a bunch of recipe cards with my favorites when we first moved to our new place.

This is one of those recipes I've been hoarding.  I feel like a kid before Christmas when I know Sherri is making her casseroles in the morning.  I'm a little selfish when it comes to her recipes, but, lucky for you guys, I am feeling particularly generous on this special day, so here goes...!

Sherri's Famous Hashbrown Casserole:

2 pound bag of hashbrowns (country style)
1/2 cup of margarine, melted
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use the healthy request, low fat & low sodium)
2 cups of grated cheddar cheese (go for the 2% for a healthy swap)
2 cups of sour cream (Daisy Light!)
salt & pepper to taste

Topping (optional): 1/4 cup of margarine, melted + 2 cups crushed corn flakes

Step #1: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Step #2: In a large bowl (you will need a big guy for this mix!) mix everything except the "topping" ingredients together until well blended.

Step #3: Pat mixture down into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish (I use a Pyrex dish).

Step #4: If you're doing the topping (you're crazy not too, it's the BEST part!!), crush up the cornflakes with the melted margarine, and spread evenly over the top of the hash brown mixture.

Eat your "I love playing with my food" heart out! :) 

Step #5: Place casserole uncovered into your oven for between 45 minutes to 1 hour.  I usually bake it for closer to an hour to make sure it's ooey gooey good.

This stuff is fork lickin', plate scrapin', I want fourths thirds, good.

Step #6: Let the casserole cool for about 10 minutes.

Step #7: Spoon the taters on plates along with your other favorite breakfast goodies!


Today, I served Justin up with some reduced fat, peppered bacon, scrambled egg whites, and toast.  I think he was a happy camper!

Didn't ya'll know the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach?! :)

I am also VERY proud of myself because I kept Justin's birthday present a surprise until this morning.

I am the world's worst surprise keeper. I always get way too excited and spill be beans, without even being pressed, days before a big celebration.

It was kind of easy to keep this gift a secret, though, because I didn't even know if it was going to happen until Saturday.

I purchased Game 5 Bulls vs. Pacers tickets over a week ago, HOPING they would play this 5th game tonight.  I hated to route against the Bulls, but I needed them to lose just one game to the Pacers so that the series would go until Game 5, which was conveniently scheduled for Justin's birthday here in Chicago!

I was seriously on the edge of my seat, gritting my teeth through the last 3 games! I couldn't even listen to the game on Saturday while we were in the car because I was so dang nervous.

Last night, I wrapped up a Rose (I wanna go highyaaa!) T-shirt with the tickets, and hid it away until this morning.

I think he was very surprised & excited!! :) Success!

I have a good feeling the Bulls are gonna pull of a big W for Justin's bday tonight to win the series.

Hopefully they have better luck than I did with my Corn Flakes box...

Could have used that kitchen makeover!! Does ANYONE seriously ever win these things? I have had my hopes up with the cereal boxes for about 20 years now, I think I'm due! Luckily, a new kitchen might still be in the cards...

Life News: I think many of you know that Justin & I have plans to move after our lease is up.  We are going to be moving out to the suburbs.  This news usually makes city lovers grumble at me and my suburban friends excited.

We are ready to make the change because, right now, Justin has a killer commute out to the suburbs (up to 2 hours some mornings & nights), and we are ready to slow down the pace a little and to have some more space!

Unfortunately, our lease is up July 1st, which is very inconvenient because I will be in the heat of my Bar Exam studying.

We looked at places this past weekend, hoping to sign a lease and move in by June 15th.  After looking, we did some serious thinking and decided it would be best to wait a couple of extra months to move.

We were under the impression that we would have no problem staying in our current apartment for the extra 2 months (until September), since we've lived here for 2 years now and have a good relationship with our landlord.

Armed with what we thought was a smart decision, I contacted our landlord yesterday to let him know, and, to my surprise, he wasn't havin' it! :(

So, it looks like we will be moving out either June 1st or July 1st, whether we like it or not!

I am hitting the trails today to look at about 6 more places while Justin is at work. Wish me luck -- I really want to get this nailed down so I can focus on more important things (errr...finals, law school graduation, enjoying my last moments of freedom before I become a prisoner to the Bar exam).

I better get to it! Gonna try to get in a little sweat before I'm off to see the first listing.

*cross your fingers for us*

I will see you guys back here tomorrow with some pictures from tonight's festivities and hopefully some good apartment hunting news!

Have a fantastic day,



Monday, April 25, 2011

Recipe for Happiness

Good Morning Everyone! :)

If you were celebrating, I hope you all had a very happy Easter!

We went back to Indiana on Saturday night, and met up with our very good friends, Dusten & Shelby.  We always have a blast hanging out with them and don't see them nearly enough!

We went to a bar in the area to enjoy some cocktails and lots of laughs.

Miller Lites were the drinks of choice! :) 

Justin & Dusten (try saying that 10 times fast)

One thing led to another and it turned into a pretty late night.  We headed home, I munched on some Cheetos (I know, gross, but marginally better than pizza, right?!) and went right to bed. 

Sunday we woke up and went over to Justin's Aunt Jackie's for a delicious Easter brunch.  There was tons of food, from ham to baked mastaccioli with meatballs, to some amazing baked goods made by Justin's Grandma.  I would have taken pictures of my plate, but I was a little bashful about whipping out the camera at our table. 

After brunch we all hung around for a while to talk and snap some pictures outside. 

My eyes were super squinty in every picture because, even though it doesn't look like it here, it was eye-piercingly bright out.

The "kids" (anyone under the age of 13, I'd say) went on an Easter egg hunt and had a ball.  Justin's little cousin Will found $2 and he was thrilled -- he told me "now I can even buy my own toys-es!" He named off a list of about 10 things he was going to buy, including "Batman, Superman, Spiderman..." Seeing a trend?!

We all sang Happy Birthday to Justin, with a lamb cake, of course!

Apparently Justin is only 13 in lamb years! Just missed the cut-off for the Easter egg hunt, dannnggg.  His big day is tomorrow, and I definitely have some tricks up my sleeve! ;) 

We were all so stuffed, so we went back to Justin's parent's house, changed into our stretchy pants, and took a legendary nap.  I said this nap ranked in the top 10 best naps of all times, right up there with the post-Thanksgiving feast nap.

I could have stayed there sleeping all night, but we got up in a groggy-haze and headed back to Chi-City. 

My allergies/lingering cold symptoms were in high gear last night, so I spent most of the night barreling through a box of tissues while we watched the Hawks pull out a big V! 

So today, I have a recipe for your daily dose of happiness, and, guess what?! It does not involve Cheetos!

So get out there and bake your day with some Sunshine! :)

Have a happy & healthy day,



Friday, April 22, 2011

The Other Monkey Bread

Hello all my friends!

Happy fuuuhhh-reaky Friday! It just wouldn't be Friday if I didn't say that, now would it?!

In college, I was SUPER spoiled enough to live in a beautiful sorority house on campus.  One of the many benefits of this lifestyle is that we had fantastic cooks who made all of our meals for us.

Breakfast was actually made to order.  I know. While I usually rolled with some scrambled egg whites or an egg white omelette with toast, I always looked forward to the days when our breakfast cook would put out "Monkey Bread."

If you are not familiar with Monkey Bread, that may not be such a bad thing. The #1 ingredient in this stuff is sugar & love handles.'s incredible.  It is this sticky, ooey, gooey, cinnamon baked bread that you actually pull off in chunks.

And now I'm craving it.

So, I'm not here today to tell you how to make a healthy(ish) version of my old college breakfast treat, because, quite frankly, I don't think that's possible.  The real monkey bread is a "treat" and it should stay that way, capiche?

I am here to show you how to make another baked good that would surely be approved of by my favorite zoo animals...

BaNaNa BrEaD! :) Woo hoo!

You all know I love to cook, but if it doesn't come out of a box, I'm not really a "baker." With that said, whenever finals time rolls around, I am always in the mood to whip out my apron and get my betty crocker on.

Last semester, I made up these chocolate chip chewy bars (another delicious treat), and the one before that I made about a trunk full of puppy chow.

Not the best use of my time, but a great way to make fast friends! ;)

This time around, I was craving something warm, wholesome, and fruity.  So, I adapted a recipe I found over on Cooking Light, and got to the kitchen!

Jessica's Blueberry Banana Bread

What you'll need:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (a tip -- pure > imitation, go for the splurge!)
1 cup mashed ripe banana (I used 3 bananas)
3/4 cup blueberries
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
cooking spray

What to do:

Step #1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Step #2: In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flours, grits, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon). Mix with a wooden spoon until combined.

Step #3: In a separate bowl, mash up your bananers. If you're one of those people who loves to play with your food (eehhmm...Ashley!), you will really enjoy this recipe.

I left mine a little on the chunky side.

Step #4: Make a "well" in the center of your dry mixture in the large bowl (aka just clear a space in the middle).  In the "well" add the eggs (previously lightly beaten), oil, vanilla, blueberries, and bananers.

You know you are doing this all right if your kitchen looks like it has been attacked by a small monkey! ;)

Step #5: Stir the mixture all up with your wooden spoon, just until moist. I was a little thrown off by the lack of liquid in this recipe. It really seemed like I should add some milk or something because it was SUPER hard to stir it all up. Do not be fooled, it will work out without any extra liquid.

Step #6: Spray an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray (the bottom and the sides) until well-coated.

Step #7: Pour your bread mixture into the pan and place it in the oven.  Bake for 1 hour or until you can stick a wooden toothpick in the bread and it comes out clean.

**Tip (I only left my bread in for 50 minutes, and it came out perfectly cooked and moist!)**

Step #8: Take the loaf out of the oven, and allow it to cool, in the pan, for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, carefully remove the loaf from the pan and allow it to cool for another 5 minutes on a wire rack (I turned mine upside down on the rack and it came right out without falling apart!).

Once it's cooled, you can slice it up, serve, and enjoy!

I had mine this morning with a little natural peanut butter, and a blueberry Chobani on the side. The bread was so filling, I could barely eat any of the yogurt! Mmm mmm good.

This recipe turned out AMAZING! It wasn't too sweet, you can really taste the fruit, and the grits made it very hearty. Definitely a new staple in my bag-o-recipe tricks.  I was even able to successfully double the recipe to make 2 loaves at once, which somehow manages to stump me usually (I haven't had an ounce of math in like 5 years, give me a break!)

Give this one a shot for a delcious breakfast treat, or maybe to impress your family and/or friends at an Easter brunch!

We are heading back to Indiana tomorrow afternoon to catch Justin's sister's softball game against their big rival (gooo Tayler!) and then hang out with his family and friends for Easter. I never enjoyed Easter so much in my "adult" years until I met Justin -- his family really knows how to make it a special day! :)

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, whether you are celebrating Easter, or just have plans to relax and unwind with some family & friends.

Have a happy & healthy day,



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Super Salty

Hi everybodddy!

Happy Thursday! :)

As I "tweeted" earlier (still can't believe I'm on the twitter-verse!), things went from busy to bonkers today.

I took on a full day at the office to get caught up on work, and it was definitely a full one.

With that said, ya'll know this is my favorite weekday, so it's been pretty pleasant up in here.

My day was off to a great start as soon as I saw this...

Have I mentioned that I love this city?!

I could just hear everyone letting out a collective sigh or relief this morning as they walked to work.  The sun has finally returned to Chi-City after some relentlessly gloomsville days. 

Wanna know what was not-so-pleasant? How super salty sweaty I was during & after last night's Barre Burn class.

We are talking this...

Times about 3! Yiiiiickkkk.

I usually consider the super sweats a victory, but last night got a little outa hand! We are talking dripping on the floor, dripping in my eyes (stinging!), and making it very difficult to grip the barre, which can be quite concerning considering some of the positions we get into.

I was looking around, once again, wondering, what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is goin' on here?! Why am I the sweatiest friggen person in this room?? I actually started to get a little self conscious about my drippage.

I know what you're all thinking, "NBD, Jess, it's 90+ degrees in that room, you're supposed to sweat." Well, touche, you are right.

The thing that has me all out of sorts is that I've never considered myself to be a big sweater.  I certainly have never been the sweatiest person in an exercise class. Why am I sweating like miss piggy all of a sudden when all of these other ladies have barely a glisten of moisture on their bodies?!

I decided it was time to crack the case.  So, I did what I always do -- I pulled out my webMD and tried to get to the bottom of this new personal phenomenon.

Along the "research" trail I learned an awful lot about the salty wetness.

1) We all have between 2 and 4 million sweat glands in our body. Woahhh. Everyone is born with a different amount of these glands -- the more ya have, the more ya sweat!

2) We actually don't have a lot of sweat glands in our armpits. Whhhaaaat?!? I guess we just tend to omit body oder more from the arm pit area because the sweat isn't able to evaporate as quickly from that area.

3) Us ladies tend to sweat less than men because have a better natural ability to regulate the amount of water we are losing. Yaaahooo.

Here's the kicker...

4) Fit people sweat more efficiently that "unfit" people.  People who are more fit actually start to sweat at a lower body temperature than others.  Innneresting!


5) A sedentary person (aka a couch potato) who does the same intensity workout as a fit person will get hot a lot faster, and will probably sweat more than the fit person. This is because fat acts as an insulator and raises that person's body core temperature faster.


So am I getting fitter? Or am I just getting fatter?

The jury may still be out on that one after last weekend's over consumption, but until I'm proved wrong with my next bi-weekly "weigh in," I'm going with the former.

The cray-zee thing is, I used to think it was a huge plus that I could walk out of the gym dry as the dessert while other girls were racing home to strip off their wet clothes and dive into a cold shower.

Seems I shouldn't have been so proud.  My dryness might have meant I just wasn't pushing my body hard enough to actually improve my fitness.

I guess I should pat myself on the back and take the extra gross-ness in stride.

And maybe pack a change of clothes next time... ;)

Something to talk about: Are you a sweaty betty? Or can you head straight to work after the gym without turning heads?

Hope you all have a great night! We will be enjoying some of my healthy(ish) pizza for dinner, and I'm cooking up an extra special recipe for tomorrow.  It's gonna be saaawweeeet, so stay tuned! :)



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Variety is the Spice of Life

Hi friends!

Happy happy hump day to ya! ;)

It's no secret that I've been 1 part sick, 1 part exhausted, and 1 part stressed this week.

I decided to do something cray-zee today since my earliest class was cancelled (cha-chinggg).

I went to bed last night without setting an alarm! In fact, I didn't even take my phone into the bedroom with me...on purpose. I just wanted to let my body rest, and I knew I'd wake up at a decent time on my own. {I apologize to those of you that had to wake up at the 5's or 6's in the AM today, I'm sure you're all grumbling at me right about now!}

I walked out to the kitchen this morning, and to my surprise and delight, it was only 7:53AM! I decided not to go back to sleep, because I felt refreshed enough to start my day.

It was time for breakfast, and I wanted to do something new(ish).  Don't freak out -- it was still going to be oats (I am a loyal member of the oat fan club), but I decided to mix-er-up a little!

I haven't been to Dominck's or Target lately, and those are the only stores that carry my go-to Quaker Maple & Brown Sugar Weight Control oats.  I've been a little stumped on what to substitute.  At my belated grocery store trip on Monday, I stumbled upon this number...

Better Oats Oat Fit Cinnamon Roll

This oatmeal has only 100 calories per pack and no sugar.  Sounds good in theory, but, I definitely wondered, is this really gonna fill me up?? 

Yesterday, I tried mixing 2 packets together, because I really didn't think 1 was going to carry me through to lunch.  It actually (and probably thankfully) ended up being too much. 

So today, I was determined to try 1 packet, and get a little creative with the add-ins. 

I decided to do 1 packet of the oatmeal + 1/3 cup organic skim milk + 1 tbsp of Jiff Natural Peanut butter  + 1/3 cup of...

 0% Blue-Baby Chobani!!! 

After heating it all up, I mixed in a few slices of bananer, and I was ready to chow down. 

Topped with an extra little splash-o-milk. 

The verdict: 

We have a...runner up! I'm not sold on the blueberry greek yogurt mixed in with these oats.  I think the blueberry flavor detracted from the cinnamon roll flavor, and left my taste buds a little confused. 

Truth be told, I originally planned to use some plain vanilla greek yogurt that had been hanging out in our fridge for a while, but I came to a disappointing realization...

Expiration date: 4/2/11

It was dunzo! :( Straight to the trashie. 

I still enjoyed the oats anyway with my morning pick-me-up in peace and quiet on the couch.

Two interesting realizations I came to this morning over breakfast:

1) I am OBSESSED with small spoons.  I refuse to use a bigger spoon to eat my breakfast, and will even pull one out of the dishwasher and wash it really quick if there are none in the silverware drawer.

What a nut, right?! I think this obsession stems back to when I was little and I would always want to eat with this miniature Peter Rabbit spoon I had.  That thing was TINY. We are talking the size of one of those little spoons they give you when you are sampling ice cream (I l.o.v.e. those too!).

2) I have become a snob about my coffee. Justin wakes up much earlier than I do, and by the time I get to the coffee pot, it is never fresh enough for me anymore (even though it is still super hot due to our amazing coffee maker).

I have no clue when I became such a stickler for fresh coffee. I think it might have been after our Seattle trip when my Aunt pointed out that she doesn't like coffee if it has been sitting for more than 30 minutes.

So, that cup you see above?  It ended up going right down the drain.  I made a fresh cup of my Cinnamon coffee to enjoy with my breakfast.

In other news, I have also switched up my packed lunches. Remember how obsessed I was with my pre-packed good greens? Well, I kinda jumped off that train -- or at least, I'm not riding it every day anymore.

I was recently turned on to the glory of the whole wheat Arnold sandwich thins. These things are great because they allow me to get my sandwich on without the carb-o-loading!

The past few days, I've been packing this meal:

Sandwich: Whole wheat Arnold sandwich thin + dijon mustard + swiss cheese (not today because I ate WAY too much cheese yesterday, whoops!) + 4 slices of turkey breast {I buy this really fancy brand...something like "Oskar Mieyar"}

On the side: Chopped yellow squash and zuchinni, grilled with some garlic + olive oil + Nature's Seasoning. 

I spy a little treat: A single dove promise chocolate (some things, like chocolate cravings, never change!). 

Another repeat non-offender: 

My favorite lemon lara, for some pre-workout afternoon snackage. 

Packed it all up, and now I'm ready to go! 

Look Mom! I'm ready for my LAST WEEK OF CLASSES EVER!! :) :) :)

That's right, next Wednesday marks my last law school class, so I am now on my last week of classes! Can you believe it?! 

I am super, cray-zee excited. Never mind the fact that I still have 2 papers, and a final to get through! ;) 

And on that note, I better get to it. 

Hope you all have a great day -- get out there and make it a good one! 

See ya tomorrow,