Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Asian Beef & Veggie Bowls

Howdy! :)

How is your evening going?! 3 posts from me in one day, this is definitely a first!

This afternoon, I had a few errands to run, and I was super excited to find out that all 3 places I needed to go were within a 2-block radius. Score!

Or so I thought...

Things were going pretty well until I got completely lost (within 2 blocks, I know!) and what should have been a 1 hour trip turned into a 2 & a half hour trip.


Desperate times call for desperate measures...

Hey, I walked around the grocery store hungry as a heeiiipo without so much as breaking into a bag of chips, so I think I deserved a jolt of caffeine & some chocolate on the way home.

I was instantly disappointed when I got into the box of Fiber One Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies because, although the picture might not depict it, they were friggin' tiny!

I don't know why I continue to fall for this trick. It needs to finally sink in that if they advertise it as being "100 calories (or less)," it will, in fact, be made for Tiny Tim.

But, it seems I turned my nose up at this product a little too soon, because once I took a bite, it was a whole different ball game, folks.

These things are AMAZING.  We are talking almost better-than-a-chocolate-Vita-Top amazing.

Even though it is small, the brownie is super thick and it actually has peanut butter chocolate chips inside the baked goodness.

I'm sold.

After my errands fiasco, I came home on a caffeine and sugar high feeling re-charged and ready to make us a nice dinner.

I've had my eye on this recipe over on Peanut Butter Fingers for "Asian Beef & Cucumber Bowls," for a while, and tonight was the night!

For some reason I wasn't feeling the whole cucumber thing, so I decided to put my own twist on the recipe with the cucumber's first cousin, the zucchini!

My, oh my.  If you're a beef lover, you've gotta give this one a try!

It is super creative, super easy, and super de-to-the-licious.

Here's what went into the mix: 

1.2 pounds of lean (97/3) ground beef
1 zucchini, chopped into large(ish) chunks
1 can of sliced water chestnuts, strained
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp lite soy sauce
2 tsp chili sauce with garlic (find it where the Thai foods are!)

Here's what you do: 

Step #1: In a large frying pan or skillet (sprayed with PAM or with a little EVOO), add the minced garlic and onion, and let them brown up for about 2 minutes at medium-high heat.

Step #2: Add the ground beef and let it brown about 75 percent of the way.

Step #3: Add the zucchini, followed by the water chestnuts.  Let the mixture cook on medium for about another 5 minutes.

Step #4: Add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili sauce.  Stir everything up until the beef & veggies are well-coated.  Reduce the heat and let everything simmer for about 2 minutes.

You can serve up your beef & veggie bowl by itself, or stirred up with some brown rice to round it out with some carbs.

Let me know if you give it a try! :)

It's getting darn near my bed time, so I better hit the road.

Sweet dreams!



Listening to the Heart

Good afternoon, folks! :)

Lets keep the WIAW rolling, shall we?!

In the middle of my lecture this morning, I was craving something sweet, yet salty.

Smart Pop Kettlecorn to the rescue!

Oh yeah, I have totally jumped on this train.  Perfect study snack!

Get in mah belly, but stay the heck outa my teeth! 

Lunch was a tough decision today.  My heart was saying "sandwich," but my head was saying "eat the darn salad" (since I had lots-o-carbs this morning).

Not one to deprive myself of what I really want, I went for the sandwich (on a sandwich thin, so it only kinda counts, right?), and will be minimizing the carbs at dinner.

Lunch included:

1) leftover crock pot BBQ chicken from last night  (with a couple of squirts of BBQ sauce) and a little bit of shredded cheese (I am really trying to minimize my cheese intake) on a honey wheat sandwich thin

2) leftover broccoli + cauliflower + s & p

3) green grapes :)

4) {not pictured} dark chocolate Dove Promise, which read "Don't settle for a spark...light a fire instead."

You know you are studying for the Bar exam when all you can think about after reading that tidbit is the crime of arson.  Higher levels of learning going on here, folks!

Want to come over for dinner? It's gonna be a good one! :)



Leggo My Eggo

Happy humpty dumpty day guys!

So, here's the dealio with yesterday's bloggage.  I tried, tried, and tried again to get up a post last night with my latest dinner recipe (Salmon with Raspberry-Glaze), and I was super excited to share it with you guys because it is de-to-the-licious, but Blogger was NOT cooperating.

The spacing was all off on the post and things kept getting magically moved around. It was a mess! It was up for about 2.5 seconds, but ended up dropping offline, which was probably for the best because I think you all might have gotten a headache.

I was about ready to pull my hair out by the time I went to bed! :)

Anyway, I could put up the post now, but I really don't appreciate unappetizing pictures in the morning, and I doubt many of you do either (unless it's smoked salmon + cream cheese on a bagel, fish + morning coffee do not go together, IMO).

So, I will post the salmon recipe up at a more appropriate time (maybe tomorrow night?).

For now, lets talk WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday).

Before my morning workout today, I was really not hungry (we had a later dinner last night), so I opted for a small handful of fresh strawberries + 1/2 cup of coffee on the way out the door.

Maybe I'm just lazy, but I find that strawberries are really annoying to cut up all at once.  With that said, it makes things SO much easier to have them pre-cut when you eat them almost every day! We buy about 2 cartons a week, and I *try* to slice them up and throw them in Tupperware or a big Ziploc on Sundays, otherwise I was too much time slicing each day.

At the gym this morning, I knocked out a modified version of my Easy Breezie Workout, and then did Fitnessista's Spring Arms workout.  It was short & kind of mild, but sweaty sweet! :)

After my workout, I was pretty darn ravenous, so I decided to go with one of my new favorite breakies, Van's waffles!

These babies are delicious AND nutritious.

I topped 2 toasted whole-grain Van's waffles with some peanut butter, strawberries, 1/2 tsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp lite syrup, and a dash of cinnamon.

Big glass of water and a cup of coffee on the side, of course!

Something about the smell of syrup really reminds me of my childhood.

I remember my family would sometimes make alphabet-shaped pancakes (mine would obviously be J's).

It always brings a smile to my face to look back on those fun mornings, and I get excited to *hopefully* make some alphabet pancakers with my own kiddos some day! :)

I am now pleasantly full and ready to tackle another big day of cramming!

**Something to talk about: Are there any smells that distinctly remind you of your childhood? Did your family have any breakfast "traditions"? 

Have a wonderful morning everyone, and I'll see you later today to wrap up the rest of WIAW.



P.S. I just added a "workout log" to the Sweat Seshes page, to share my daily workouts.  I think this is a great way to share with you all what I have been doing, and it will also, in a way, help me hold myself accountable for keeping my mind & body healthy with exercise! :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Good Wine, Good Times

Hi friends! :)

Happy Monday, right?!

If you're having a case of the Mondays, you might want to scroll down to the bottom of this post, and get your dose of happiness first, then come back and learn about my weekend.  Ok, go!!

{Welcome back if you're just joining me again, and I hope you are now feeling very heart-warmed and a little bit happier!}

Anyway, I wish I could say that I have lots of fun pictures from this weekend, but I only have a couple for you (2 is better than none, right??).

So, Friday night, Justin & I had a little date night again, which included a trip to one of my new favorite places - Lynfred Winery.

I became a "member" at the Roselle Lynfred location when I went there with my wine club last month.

We figured out that the Wheeling location is actually closer to our new apartment, so we headed up there to enjoy a tasting and pick up my monthly bottle of wine.

We sampled 7 different wines, and picked up a bottle of the Chardonnay and the Tempranillo, which were our favorites of the bunch.

If you live in the Chicago area and haven't checked out Lynfred yet, I'd highly recommend.

They are *very* generous with their tasting samples (a tasting is only $7 for members/$9 for non-members), and it makes for a great date night or girls night out! :)

In keeping with the wine theme, Saturday night I met up with some of the girls from wine club for an "around the world" party at my friend Christina's brand new home.

This was not like the "around the world parties" I remember from college, where you'd go from room to room trying a different drink or shot.  There was really nothing international about the whole business, other than maybe your speech when it was all done.

Our wine club "around the world" party was a really cool idea -- we each brought an appetizer or a dessert from a country of our choice, and then brought a bottle of wine from that country.

Some of you might remember from Friday that I planned to bring baked brie & lemon bars (France, duhhh) along with my wine.

I did get all of the stuff together for the brie, but for some reason, when it came down to it, I was really not in the mood to bake the lemon bars.

In true lazy form...I went down to a bakery in Skokie, Sweetie Pies, to pick up some french-esque desserts (thank you again, Yelp!, you never fail me!).

I ended up with some of these cute little cake balls, which I'm going to refer to as "bon bons," because it sounds more French.

The cakes were all either vanilla or chocolate, covered with white chocolate or dark chocolate, and I'm pretty sure there was a little cream involved.  They were literally melt in your mouth good.

I will definitely be heading back to Sweetie Pies, because their desserts were a hit, and they had free samples.

{In case you haven't caught on, it really doesn't take much more than some free samples to gain my loyalty.}

Since I have been so scatter-brained lately, I was a terrible blogger, and I forgot to take pictures of the food before the festivities started.

I did, however, capture the aftermath:

The spread included: Mini-quiches, crab salad + cucumbers, pita bread + vodka sauce with feta, poutine, bacon-wrapped dates, baked brie (remnants on the bottom right), the "bon bons" (pictured just to the left of the water bottle, haha), and lots of wine!

The baked brie I make is SUPER easy.

Jessica's Easy Baked Brie: 

The ingredients involve: 

1 cricular wheel of brie (I like alouette double creme baby brie)
1 roll of crescent roll dough (8 rolls)
1/3 cup apple butter (or you can use jam)

To make the cheesy goodness: 

Step #1: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Step #2: Take an ungreased cookie sheet and mold together the edges of 4 crescent rolls (so 4 triangles) to form a rectangle-type shape.

Step #3: Place the wheel of brie on top (in the middle, roughly) of the crescent-roll base.

Step #4: Spoon your topping (either apple butter or jam) on top of the brie top.  {You can always add a couple more spoonfulls, if you're feeling really jammy!}.

Step #5: Mold together the edges of 2 more of the crescent rolls, and place on top of the brie + apple butter.

Step #6: Pull up the edges of the bottom dough, and form the pastry all together around the brie so that it is well-covered (you will still have 2 more crescent rolls left to use if you see any brie peaking out!).

Step #7: Bake the brie in the oven for 11 to 13 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Step #8: Remove from oven, let it cool for just a few minutes, and serve it up! You can eat the cheese with any kind of crackers served on the side, or, if you're like me, all by itself! :)

I had an absolute blast enjoying all of the goodies and trying the various wines on Saturday night!

It is always great to spend some time with my wine club girls, and I was so happy to finally be able to see my friend Christina and her fiance Matt's new home -- it is so beautiful and really makes me look forward to owning my own home someday! :)

Before I get back to my studying for the day, I wanted to give you all a quick heads up that I have a guest post up today over at my friend Jenny's blog - Fitness Health & Food.  I'm talking a little bit about myself (always fun), and giving you another great treadmill set & my newest playlist.  Ch-ch-check it out! :)

Also, for your Monday dose of happiness, you should check out this new blog I found, based on a book called "The Happiness Project." The author, Gretchen Rubin, embarked on a year-long project studying various theories on how to be happier.

The site and book offer a lot of great insights, including this video I stumbled upon today, which brought tears (happy tears!) to my eyes.

I'm not sure if it was the sentimental message, or some friendly female hormones, but this one really got me choked up.

The video was a great message for me to hear, especially right now as I have been wishing away the days of bar exam studying h-e-double-hockey-sticks.  What a wonderful reminder that every day is a gift - that is why it is called the PRESENT! :)

Have a great afternoon & evening, everyone.

I'm serving up some brain food tonight, and I might try to throw a little Bachelorette action in there somewhere! :)



Friday, June 24, 2011

Stud Muffins

Why hello there!

Happy freak to the deak to the FRIDAY.

I am super excited about Friday today, because I don't have a Barbri lecture tomorrow, and I have WINE CLUB!!

There are very few things that I get more excited about than wine club.

Good food? Check. Good wine? Check. Good friends? Check. Good times? A heck of a check.

I woke up in a great mood this morning and headed to the gym to knock out another rise & shine workout.  After about 20 minutes with an old friend (StairMaster), I completed this workout from the Barre Bee Fit YouTube Channel.

{Look who finally learned how to embed a video in a post! So techy.}

It felt so great to do some of these moves again.

I miss Barre Bee Fit more than I miss new episodes of Friends.

I think I may drive all the way back to the city on Sunday to go to Barre Burn if studying goes well (*fingers crossed*).

Lets move on to some more fun stuff...FOOD!! :)

I will be bringing along a couple of goodies to wine club tomorrow (baked brie & lemon bars).  I will post some pics + the recipes for those treats sometime this weekend, but for now, it's time for another great weekend night-in recipe!

Today I have an "outside the box" recipe for anyone who is in the mood to get a little creative with a classic.

After spending way too much time trying to figure out what to make for dinner the other night, I pulled out my recipe toolbox and discovered that you can actually make meatloaf muffins.

Yes, seriously.

This seemed like a recipe made in leftover heaven (although I was foiled by the Power Outage), so I put a spin on what I found, pulled together some ingredients, and got to cookin'!

Jessica's Meatloaf Stud Muffins

Here's what you'll need: 

12-cup muffin tin (not for those cute baby muffins, we're makin' beef cakes here, mmkay??)
1 tsp EVOO
1 cup chopped onion (I used the chopped onion from my spice cabinet to save the tears)
1 cup of chopped carrot (I used 1 can of no-salt-added sliced carrots, drained)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp grill seasoning (I used Montreal Steak seasoning -- it's McCormick's)
2 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
15 crushed crackers (I used whole wheat Ritz crackers)
1.5 pounds of lean ground beef (I always opt for ground sirloin, which has about a 97/3 ratio)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
PAM (or other no-stick cooking spray)

Here's what you do: 

Step #1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Step #2: (Unless you are lazy like I was) Chop up your onion & carrots, and set aside.

Step #3: In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the ketchup & the drained diced tomatoes until combined.  Pour 1/2 of the mixture into a larger-sized bowl, and set the remaining sauce aside.

Step #4: In the large bowl with 1/2 of the tomato mixture, add all of the remaining ingredients listed above, except for the other 1/2 of the ketchup & tomatoes (and the PAM...), until combined.

Step #5: Spray the muffin tin with a good amount of PAM, so that the bottoms & the sides of the cups are coated.

Step #6: Spoon an equal amount of the meat mixture into each cup, so that the 12 cups end up relatively even (I had to go back and add and subtract from a few, no biggy!).

Step #7: Spoon about 2 spoonfuls of the remaining tomato mixture on top of each of the muffins (it's the icing on the cake!).

Step #8: Put the muffins in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees.

Step #9: Take the muffins out of the oven.  Remove the muffins from the pan, carefully, with your (ehhmm clean) fingers & a fork, and transfer each muffin to a cooling rack (or a plate), with some wax paper or paper towel to catch any unwanted grease.

Step #10: Serve 'em up with your favorite sides, like broccoli or green beans, and maybe even a piece of my easy garlic bread!

These stud muffins turned to delicious, and the recipe was just plain fun!

While my food baby last night might have suggested otherwise I do not have kids and do not plan to have any in the near future, I think this would be a super kid-friendly recipe for those of you that do have kiddos! :)

Those muffins are just so stinkin cute, aren't they?!

This recipe also makes great leftovers -- some of you might remember that I had one with my salad on Wednesday, and I also thew a couple in Justin's lunch that day! If it weren't for the 24 hours we were without power, we probably would have had these for days.

If you're looking for an adult beverage to have with your muffins (obvi leave the kids out of this part), I can suggest a new wine I tried at the recommendation of my friend Ashley....

Red Bicyclette's Pino Noir: 

You can find this wine at almost any grocery store.  I picked mine up @ Jewel for a cool $9.


I'm off to study away for a while so I can relax with my main squeeze tonight, then it's time to shake & bake & wine club it up tomorrow night.

Have a fantastic night and I will see you sometime this weekend for some more fun!



P.S. I found one of those words that fails that "i before e, except after c" rule today...SEIZE...I really hope they stop teaching that rule in schools before I have kids, because this is just plain mean!! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ask & You Shall Receive

Hi friends!

Do any of you question yourself whenever you write the word receive?

I am pretty sure the whole "i before e, except after c" is not a no-fail rule, so I get really anxious about "receive." But, according to my blog spell check, the rule does work with this word.  Don't say I don't teach you anything! ;)

I just wanted to pop in and say hi! Happy Thursday to you all! It is almost the weekend! Woo to the hoo.

It has been a very long day of Bar prep over here...and I am finally relaxing on the couch with a mayjah food ba-by ba-by, ba-baby ba-by (sung to Salt-n-Pepa, obvi!).

I'm not sure what it is about my make-up, but I can make an award-winning food baby, and I always have lots of fun jokes to go along with it that probably wouldn't be appropriate to mention on here since I know family reads this (sorry guys!!).

So, Justin got his wish tonight...


This occasion has its own theme song in our household, but the tune doesn't quite translate via blog (maybe I could vlog it sometime).

Yesterday, Justin tweeted me that he wanted to have taco night soon.  Yes, that's right, my boyfriend tweeted me.  We are so 2011.

Since we all know the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and Justin rarely makes specific meal requests, I happily obliged!

I put together some lean ground beef, hard & soft tortillas, cheese, shredded lettuce, Mexican rice, salsa, and grilled red/yellow peppers & onions.

{Voila! It's a taco bar!}

Holy moly!

Why is it that taco night always ends up being so much more work than I think it's going to be?  By the end of this prep, our kitchen was a disaster, and I needed a draaaank.

Thankfully, taco night is so darn delicious and so darn worth it.

I would have taken a picture of my plate, but somehow my food managed to eat itself before I could get my camera.  Oops.

I now have a very full belly, a happy boyfriend, and I am about to relax with some RHONY! :) Really, does it get much better?

Have a nice evening & I'll see you all on fuuuhhreaksie deaksie Friday!



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Let There Be Light

Majorly good news over here tonight -- we have power!! :) Party time.  Excellent.

Just before Justin left to come get me from Starbucks to go out to dinner, he called to tell me the power came back on!

I was SO relieved.

When he talked to the energy company a little earlier, the said they might not be out to fix it until tomorrow @ 10PM.  Mannn that would have stunk!

Since I now knew we had a working stove, I figured I should make my way back home to see what might still be good to cook for dinner.

The one and only option besides PB&J (a worthy choice) was this baby:

I don't buy frozen pizzas that often, but I figured it would be good to have one on hand for emergency situations.

Who am I kidding?! It looked darn good and was only $5.00.  Not too shabby!

When I pulled the box out of our halfway-frozen freezer (I figured the pizza was safe since it can actually be refrigerated and the chicken is already cooked), I notice something kinda innneresting:

Pizza on the grill? Who knew?! I guess we could have had this dinner without power after all.

This whole cooking crazy things on the grill is starting to really intrigue me.  I just recently learned from Clean Eating Chelsey that you can make muffins on the grill, and I'm not talking about stud muffins.

Innneresting, indeed.

Back to the meal...

I was skeptical because I feel like specialty pizzas never live up to the picture on the box, but this one impressed me.

I served up a few slices with some broccoli, like so:

I loved the super thin & crispy crust, but I wasn't too crazy about the spinach.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some spinach, but this stuff just didn't taste fresh (maybe that's because it was frozen, duh!).

I'd definitely get this boxed number again in the future if I'm in a pinch! It saved dinner tonight.

**Something to talk about: What's your favorite frozen pizza?? Have you ever grilled anything out of the ordinary??

Have a great night, everyone! I'll be sleeping with the AC on and my phone getting a good chargin', so I'm a happy camper! :)



What I Ate Wednesday

Happy hump day folks!

I hope you are enjoying your day! :)

We are without power after an insane thunderstorm last night, so, as you can imagine, things have been a little off-the-rocker today.

Since today is Wednesday, I thought I'd do my first WIAW --> aka "What I Ate Wednesday."

Let's start with my pre-workout snack.

On the way to the gym this morning, I scarfed down half of a chocolate peanut butter Zone bar:

I find that just 1/2 of one of these bars really fuels me up for a good workout.

A whole one would definitely be too much pre-sweat -- nothing is worse than running with a rock in the tummy.

Today's workout was a quick one, but it was power-packed and satisfying!

First, I tackled a pyramid workout I found over @ I'm an Okie.

The set went like this (on the treadmill, obvi):

A very sweaty 20 minutes! I did last week's Summer Shape Up circuit from Fitnessista, since I only got through it once last week.

So far it was all so good, until it was time to shower.

{I have never been so happy to have a gym membership.  Justin & I were both able to shower with the lights on @ our gym this morning following our workouts.}

I had put together a separate bag of my shampoo/conditioner/body wash/lotion, and I also had full intention to grab my flip flops to wear in the shower, but I forgot BOTH at home!

AHHHH!!! Foot fungaassss!!!

Thankfully, Justin gave me his shampoo, and I was able to hop in the shower right after one of the cleaning ladies threw down a bunch of cleaner on the floor.

I was probably high off of the chemicals, but at least I'm not growing anything funky on my tootsies.

For breakfast, I had a little bowl of Cascadian Farms dark chocolate almond granola + almond milk + fresh mango:

I ate this on the way to class, which was pretty difficult considering I drove downtown today.

It miraculously all ended up in my mouth and not down my shirt.

Mid-way through class, my stomach was growling, and since I didn't have my morning cup of Joe yet, I figured it was time for an emergency Starbuck's run.

I picked up an americano + soy milk topper, and some delicious nuts (I'm not even going to go there!!):

I am really loving these individually packaged nut combos from the bux.

They're much more interesting than a ziplock baggie of plain-ole-almonds.

After class, I was stuck in traffic fooreeeevvvvvveerrrrr.


All of the stop lights are out because of the storm, so cars are backed up all over. My stomach was more than ready for lunch, so I munched on the remaining half of my Zone bar to tie me over.

I got home, hoping to see the light, but no such luck.  At least the no-power situation forced me to eat my lunch without distraction, something I don't think I've done in a long time.

I packed up a salad last night, with spring mix + corn + broccoli (leftover from last nights dinner) + chopped red pepper + light balsamic.

To add a little protein, I called in a stud muffin to help...

Oh wait, not that stud muffin!

One of these guys:

I made these interesting meatloaf "muffins" for dinner last night, and, I have to say, they were really really good! I will post the recipe for you guys soon!

I crumbled up one of the "muffins" on top of my salad, and paired it up with a side of hummus + Stacy's chips.

Yum to the eeeee.

I'm telling you, whenever I see Stacy's chips in our cabinet, I just can't pass them up.

That Stacy is a real witch!

That's been it so far today, but I'm starting to crave either dinner or a snack, so who knows what I'll get into! :) I think we may be eating out seeing how we don't have a working stove and I'm pretty sure everything in our fridge may now be on it's way out.

If the power gods love us, I will see you guys back later tonight to finish my first WIAW.

**Something to talk about: Your turn!! Give me a mini-WIAW! What did you eat today?? Do you like the idea of a WIAW, or is it more like TMI?? I'd love to hear from you! :) 



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Recipe Toolbox

Good afternoon, bloggie friends! :)

How are you all doing on this Tuesday??

Let me start out by saying I'm so sorry I didn't catch you guys here yesterday.  It was a little cray cray, and I didn't have anything inspired to share with you all.

I missed my morning workout, didn't make my evening one that I had planned because I was bogged down in the books, and guess what I had for dinner...

Cheese & crackers & chips & salsa.

Now there is some delicious nutrition for ya!

I went to bed with a "tomorrow's another day" attitude, and woke up feeling refreshed and ready for a more active and nutritious day.

So far so good!

I knocked out one of my favorite booty burners this morning at the gym, and have plans to make a more wholesome dinner tonight.

Only problem is: I'm still not so sure what I'm going to make!!

While I usually plan out my meals on Sunday so that I don't waste time googling for hours wracking my brain as to what the dickens I am going to make for dinner that night, this week I just picked up a bunch of staples I knew I could throw together for some meals (chicken, ground beef, sandwich thins, vegetables, you get the gist!).

As I was searching for the perfect dinner this afternoon, I got to thinking about my "go to" recipe sources, which single-handedly keep me from ordering pizza every night multiple times a week.

Here is the "toolbox" I call on if I find that my inner chef is taking a nap on a particular day:

1) Cooking Light: This site is like an encyclopedia of lighter recipes.  Usually I head straight to the recipe page and do some browsing.  On that page, you can even access the "recipe index" from the recent magazines.  Pretty saweeet.

2) My favorite healthy living blogs: This is a no-brainer.  Often, when I'm stumped, I'll call on the amazing recipe pages over on Sweet Tooth Sweet Life or Peanut Butter Fingers.  These two blogs are my favorite for recipes because these bloggers and I seem to have similar taste in food, they both cook meals for themselves + a significant other daily, and their recipes call for simple, healthy ingredients that I usually have on hand.

3) Blogs devoted specifically to recipes: Duh! :) My favorites are Gina's Skinny Recipes (the Chicken Taco Chili might not be seasonal right now, but I swear it will change your life) and CrockPot 365, since I'm obsessed with slow cooking.

4) Betty Crocker: This is the site I basically started cooking with, searching and searching, then molding the recipes to be more waistline-friendly.  My favorite thing about this website is that it is very navigable. You can choose recipes by "main ingredient," or by "meal type," so it's virtually dummy proof. Be creative with substituting ingredients, or check out the health & diet page, and you'll make it out alive.

5) Dinner Spinner: My friend Ashley introduced me to this iPhone app, from, which randomly selects matching recipes for you after you enter in "dish type," a main ingredient, and prep time.  I use this when I am really feeling indecisive, and I just need someone else to tell me what to do!! If you have an iPhone, get to downloading, it's free! :)

6) My own recipe box!: A few years ago, I received this adorable recipe box.  I started filling out the cards with recipes gifted from friends & family, magazine clippings, and my own special creations.

With this little treasure chest & my own recipe blog posts, I always have my own "go tos" to rely on in a moment of crisis.

{My box is by Gina B Designs if you are interested in picking one up for yourself or as a gift!}

**Something to talk about: Now that I've revealed my recipe "toolbox," time for you to share yours!! What are your go-to sources for recipes when you get stumped?? 

I've gotta get back to studying, and I still have to figure out what's for dinner?!?!?

Make sure to check back tomorrow, because I will be participating in my first ever WIAW {What I Ate Wednesday}!

I will be posting 2 to 3 times tomorrow to share with you all my breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks throughout the day.  Endless fun, especially for my fellow curious Georges! :)



Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Different Kind of Lunch

Hi again!

I bet you didn't think you'd hear from me again today, now did you?! ;) 

I just wanted to stop in and share with you all a breakthrough discovery I had today:

Smoothies are the

Well, maybe not always, but definitely after a schweaty run! 

I was studying away and getting really antsy, so I decided it was time for my workout.  I had honestly started to think that maybe it wasn't going to happen today, so I patted myself on the back and headed out the door for a 4-miler. 

Holy bageeze it was HOT out there!! The weather in Chicago has been so up & down lately, you never really can tell what you are walking (running?) into.  

My face is still hour later!  I don't know why on earth I think I don't need sunscreen when I run -- I must have a theory that I can outrun the sun or something (there's some common sense for ya). 

When I got home, it was time for a cold shower, followed by some lunch. 

I went over a few in my head -- sandwich...nahhh...salad...double nahhh.  And then, it hit me like a ton of ice cubes!!! I should try to make a smoothie. 

I say "try" because I honestly don't think I've ever made a smoothie on my own.  

Justin makes a smoothie almost daily now, and it just never sounds appetizing.

I've also never fully understood why Julie over on peanut butter fingers so often goes for a big cold glass of nutrients over a more substantial-seeming breakfast or lunch.  

That was...until today.

As usual, that girl really knows what she's talking about! 

I gifted myself some of Justin's Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder (straawwwberry flavor!), and got to mixing. 

Into the mix went: 

1 scoop protein powder
1 bananer
5-ish fresh strawberries
1 cup of ice
1 cup of almond milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

By the way, I discovered that our blender actually has a "smoothie" button. Genius. 

I filled up my newly purchased tumbler, almost to the point where it was overflowing, and dug in with a spoon: 

Unlike that cookie dough monster I tackled, this thing dominated ME!  

I couldn't finish more than half of it, so now it's just chillin' until I go back for more. 

If you haven't jumped on the smoothie train yet, there's no time better than now, I'll even share a seat with ya! ;) 

Have a great night! 



Date Night

Hi friends!

How are you all doing this Sunday morning? Happy Father's Day to all of you daddios out there!

I let myself sleep in a little bit, so I am finally feeling rested and ready for a big day of studying. Woo hoo party time! :)

Justin & I had date night on Friday.  We haven't been able to spend a ton of quality time together lately, usually just our morning work outs and a quick dinner each night, so date night was definitely seeming in order.

We wanted to go out to dinner in the area, but since we are still newbies, we really weren't sure where we'd end up! I pulled out my Yelper hat and found some things, but nothing was really sticking out.

I figured I'd better shower and throw on some heels since my boyfriend has only seen me in sweaty workout clothes and pajamas lately:

Colorful Top: Charlotte Russe
White Shorts: Ann Taylor LOFT
White Wedges: Steve Madden
Earrings you can't really see -- Indigo (boutique I used to work @ in Indiana!)

As my outfit kinda suggests, I did have a secret craving for Mexican.  So, when we drove by the first south-of-the boarder looking place, I was all in.  Chips & salsa here I come! :)

We ended up at Don Juan's, which is in the suburb just a little south east-ish of us.  We were both skeptical about this place.  The restaurant got very mixed reviews on Yelp, which is kind of my bible when it comes to restaurant reviews.

I'd say our experience @ this restaurant was...well...mixed.  The service was less than stellar, but the food was delicious.

We got chips & salsa to start, of course!

The salsa was very smooth & had a smoky flavor that almost reminded me of BBQ sauce.  I tried not to inhale.

Justin stayed true to form and ordered the ground beef tacos (this guys LOOVES his tacos!):

{I snapped a picture really quick before he could give me the stank eye, heheh}

While the little devil on one shoulder was begging me to get the enchiladas, the angel's voice was louder, and she said "faahhhittaaasss."  {I am trying to not eat SO much cheese (although I did have cheese + crackers for dinner last night, whooooops!)}. 

Boy was I ever glad I listed to her!! These were hands down the best "fajitas" I've ever had.  As you can see, the dish was heavy on the chicken + grilled veggies, and light on the tortillas. AND, it came with a side of fresh guacamole.  Hollllaaa.  

My meal kind of reminded me of Mexican stir fry!  If I do ever go back to this place, it will probalby only be to get this dish again. 

After dinner, I casually blurted out "ice cream" under my breath.  

I thought Justin tuned me out (usually ice cream is not his thang), but the next thing I new, he was pulling up to Oberweiss! :) :) 

I've never had Oberweiss before, but we keep driving by it and I have been dying to stop to get one of those milkshakes that apparently brings everyone to the yard. 

When we walked in, I actually wasn't really feeling ice cream, so I was glad to see they had froyo on the menu, and cookie dough

Do I look excited, or what?!?!

I got a kid's size (yes, that is a kid's size, wowzers) frozen yogurt + cookie dough.

I dominated that thing.  Heaven in a cup! 

Yesterday I had my Bar prep class, so I sadly missed Justin's sister's graduation party.  I was super bummed I couldn't make it, especially because there were cupcakes and puppies involved! :(  

Thankfully, I got a lot done yesterday, and I am now settling in for another day of work. 

There should be a workout involved today...and I'm thinking a casual run outside might be it! 

I'm also hoping the weather cooperates so we can grill up some turkey burgers on our patio tonight, followed by the Miss U.S.A. pageant if I can convince Justin to sit through it! ;) 

Speaking of Miss U.S.A., did you guys see this story on GMA about one of the contestants?? This totally brought on the tears, and now I just have to watch the show tonight.  Go Miss Alabamaaa!!!

Have a fantastic Sunday, everyone! :) 



Friday, June 17, 2011


Hi everyone,

Happy fuh-reak-ily deak-ily FRIDAY! :)

At this point, I hope you are all ending your work day and gearing up for an exciting weekend.

Concentration has been hard to come by for me this afternoon.  I think Friday afternoons are studying's worst enemy.

Is it bad that the only thing I can do to coax myself to cram in any more info today is candy and coffee??

I'm not sure what has me more wired, the caffiene:

Or the sugar kids:

I mean, if this picture doesn't scream "I'm going to pass the Bar exam," I reeeeally don't know what does.

{I may not have learned much about civil procedure today, but I sure did determine that red & green are by far the BEST flavors of SPKs.}

So really --> the madness has got to stop.  I've eaten all the baby carrots & my Dove promises are telling me things like "take a moment for yourself."

Code red.

I need to get some healthy study snacks, and beverages for that matter, in my life ASAP.

Tomorrow's mission is to get better options up in hurr.

Do you have any suggestions??

I was hoping to have time for a *different* kind of post today, but you know, one thing led to another i.e. I took a nap and spent way too long on twitter , so I'll save that one for later.

I've gotta go get a little more done, because I have a hot date tonight with this really cute guy I know...

That's him setting up my "office" earlier this week, what a nice guy! :)

I'm not sure where we are off to, but as long as it involves food, preferably something other than sour candy, I'm there.

I'll see you guys back here sometime this weekend.

**Something to talk about: Can you recommend any good study snacks/beverages?? I'm kinda stumped on this one.

Hope you all have a fantastically fun & relaxing night!



P.S. The weekend night-in recipe I had for you guys kinda stunk up a storm, so I decided to spare you (trust me, it tasted like yick in a bowl).  But hey, it's all about the trial & error! Better luck next week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Easy Breezie Workout

Hi everyone!

Wouldya look at that! It's almost fuuhhreakie Friday already!

Or, if you're studying for the Bar exam, it could be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or probably even Saturday or Sunday for that matter.

Hey, at least it's training me treat all days equally, with just as much love, right? Good way to look at it, if ya ask me.

So, how is everyone who has been participating in the challenge been doing with your morning workouts?!

Or, if you're just keeping with your normal exericse routine, how has your week been?

If you've been hitting the gym hard all week, chances are you are probably starting to feel pretty sore and maybe a little burnt out by now.

I know I am, my hammies are tighter than ba-geezus!

I wanted to share with you an easy breezie workout I do days when I'm not necessarily in the mood for a day off from the gym or for weights, but want to do something a little less cardio-intense.

This is very similar to a workout psycho trainer created for me last year, and at the price I was paying for her sessions, you know it better be good!

I'm going to be doing this one in the morning, who is with me?? :)

Incline Interval Walking Workout

0 to 3
3 to 6
6 to 8
8 to 11
11 to 14
14 to 17
17 to 19
19 to 22
22 to 25
25 to 28
28 to 30
30 to 33
33 to 35
(or longer)

{Remember to always check with your doc before taking on any new fitness routine!}

You can always take a little longer to cool down, and make sure to stretch it out really well and eat a bananer to ease any sorenss from the week when you're done!

If you need a great stretching song, check out "Liar Liar" by Christina Grimmie.  I just found this girl's music on iTunes, and I am loving her voice, so so pretty.

{Don't forget to check out my new playlist from this week if you're in the need for some more tunes.}

Sweet dreams!