It Feels Like Friday…

The combination of no swim practice and the husband being home throws my week off.  I have to remind myself that it’s Tuesday!

I spent most of the day with my dear aunt.  I took her to the dentist and ran a few errands with her.  For lunch, we met the husband at a local family restaurant.  I had a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich with some soup.  Not terrible.  The problem lies with the stuff that my aunt sent me home with!  Holy Greek sweets!  Lots of cookies, baklava and other treats.  I’m trying to stay out of them and make sure they actually get to some Christmas festivities.  🙂

After I got home, it was off to get the husband’s Christmas present.  I decided that he needed to come with me, so he actually got it a few days early.  He got the stereo he’s been eyeing up for a few weeks.  Yes, it’s really expensive, but it’s what he wanted.  He knows what he wants and won’t settle for anything less – which can be good and bad.  I was going to get him a smaller one, but I knew he would just take it back and put the money towards the bigger one.  I thought I would save myself a trip.  🙂

He’s very excited and started setting it up right away.  (He’s playing with it as I type)  In fairness, I was able to open one of my gifts – he got me a Wii!  I wanted one for the exercise games – and just to kick my husband’s butt in something electronic!  (I’m terrible at regular video games)

For dinner, we wanted to go light – which means soup.  I played around with Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Puree.

(The containers in the background are just *some* of the baked goods my aunt gave us!)

They had a recipe on the can and I used it as a base and made it my own.  Here’s what I came up with:

Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 large onion, diced

1 T olive oil

4-6 cups chicken/vegetable broth (enough to cover the veggies)

2-4 small Yukon Gold potatoes (depends on how much potato flavor you want), peeled and diced

1 can (15 oz) TJ’s butternut squash puree

1/4 t nutmeg

1/8 t sugar

3/4 – 1 cup milk (I used skim)

1/4 t allspice

1/4 t cloves

1/4 t white pepper (Careful with this – it sneaks up on you)

1/4 t garlic powder (I didn’t have any fresh cloves)

Salt

Dice the onions and cook with olive oil until soft in a large pot.  Add the broth, potatoes, puree, nutmeg and sugar.  (The broth should just come about an inch above the veggies)  Cook on medium-high heat until the potatoes are tender (approximately 25 minutes). After the potatoes are tender, take the pot off the heat.  Puree the mixture with an immersion blender or in a blender/food processor.  Place the pot back on medium heat.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Cook for approximately 5 more minutes.

Overall it was very good – very filling.  I think I’ll cut back on the potatoes next time and let the squash shine through a little more.  (I used four small potatoes)  That white pepper is really sneaky!  You can’t really taste it, but it will heat up the back of your throat when you’re not expecting it.  I love it.  🙂

I added a little parmesan cheese on top and served it with some bread.  Yum!

I think it might be time to play some Wii!  🙂

What a Week!

I still can’t believe I’ve gone so long without posting.  I apologize for my absence.  The good news is that finals are over – and I think they went as well as they could.  Honestly, I wasn’t really in the correct frame of mind for my last one on Friday, but I did what I could.  I have about a month off – I don’t start teaching until January 26th.  What will I do with my time??

For one thing, I’m going to start getting back in to my *regular* workout routine.  This fall was so busy – it gave me too many excuses not to work out.  That’s going to stop.  Not only is the triathlon a motivating factor, but it sounds like we’re taking our family trip to Key West in June.  That’s not that far off.  Time to get a nice jump start on the weight loss/training. 🙂

And boy, did I jump right back into it today!  After swim practice (my last one at my old club!  *tear*), and a nice breakfast of some Multigrain Cheerios (a very underrated cereal in my book!), it was off to the gym to meet my sisters.  When they’re home, it is like boot camp.  And, I mean that in the kindest way possible.  They have a way of motivating me.  They’re awesome athletes and I can only hope to be as athletic as they are.  (I wanted to beat one of my sisters in the triathlon – but she still kicked my butt.  Next year!)

Today, we did 55 minutes of kickboxing and 45 minutes of spinning.  I am already sore – I’m sure tomorrow will be even worse.  My foot held up pretty well.  It still hurts right now, but I can walk without limping.  That’s a good start.

After our workout, it was time for lunch.  The husband is off of work for two whole weeks, so we decided to make something.  We decided on some Greek chicken, cous-cous and some veggies.  It was delicious and very filling.

For the Greek chicken, we just used some chicken breasts.  For the marinade use one part olive oil, one part lemon juice with Greek seasoning (I use Cavender’s), a little garlic powder, some black pepper and oregano.

I actually cook the chicken breasts in the marinade – in a pie dish.  I make enough marinade so it covers the chicken halfway.  I feel like this really infuses the flavor.  The same method works well with dark meat – which I’ve done in the past as well.  After the chicken is finished cooking,  I’ve used the leftover marinade to flavor rice or, in today’s case, the cous-cous.  I bake the chicken at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked).

We served it with some whole-wheat cous-cous from Trader Joe’s and Green Giant’s “Heathy Vision” blend.

I could’ve used some feta cheese, but we were all out (which is rare!).  Oh well, it was tasty just as it was.  🙂

For dinner, my sisters, the husband and I went to visit my grandparents.  We took my grandmother out for some Applebee’s.  They have this new thing on their menu – a symbol that indicates the meal has under 550 calories.  Now, 550 calories is a little high for a meal, but not terrible in terms of a restaurant meal.  What’s scary is knowing that most of the meals are OVER 550 calories!  Yikes!  I chose the Asiago-Peppercorn Sirloin with garlic red-skinned potatoes (only about 4 of them!) and some veggies.  It was pretty good – and reasonable in terms of calories and in size.  Right?  🙂  We did have some dessert at Culver’s, but I shared with the husband.

Overall, it was a good day.  A good start to the training!  In closing, here’s Jackson curled up with my snuggie (Yes, I have a snuggie – and I love it).  Here’s hoping you’re nice and warm – just like him.

Off to watch “The Sing-Off”.  I haven’t watched it until today.  But, I figured I had to because Boyz II Men were going to be on!  I love them – I was even in their fan club!  Don’t judge me.  🙂

I’ll be back with you shortly…

If you don’t hear from me over the next few days – don’t worry. I’m still alive. 🙂 It’s finals week and we’re heading to Chicago on Saturday for a mini-break. I’ll post when I can. I hope your week is going well! 🙂

Review: The (Short) Weekend

Where has the time gone?  I can’t believe it’s Sunday already!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

On Friday, I was able to visit my grandparents.  I helped decorate their apartment for Christmas.  🙂  After that, it was off to my first meeting and practice with the new swim club.  Now, I’m not officially gone from my old swim club, but they wanted me at the coach’s meeting.  It went well.  It looks like there will be a few challenges ahead, but nothing I can’t handle.  🙂

For dinner, the husband and I decided to go out to one of our favorite Mexican places – Mi Cocina.  I got home pretty late from practice and the last thing in my mind was finding something for dinner.  I did pretty well nutrition-wise.  I didn’t eat my entire meal.  I did have a small margarita, but I deserved it, dang it!

Saturday was busy.  My family attended the ALS Christmas party.  I was a little nervous – there was a buffet.  But, thankfully, it was sandwiches.  It was easy to make good choices.  After lunch, it was time for a little shopping.  I was able to stop at Penzy’s.  I was out of vanilla sugar, and we needed to get some dried ancho chilies for some soup later in the week.  In addition to those items, I also picked up some white pepper and sea salt.  I could do a lot of damage in that store.  It’s a good thing the husband came with me!

We decided to have soup again for dinner.  I asked the husband what kind he wanted, and he said “Leek-Potato”.  I was surprised – I thought he would be sick of it.  It sounded good, so we went with it.  It was delicious, and the white pepper added a little more heat.  I did use fat-free half-and half as a bit of a change, but I think it made it sweet.  Does that make sense?  I’m assuming they added some sugar to take the place of the fat.  Definitely not worth it.

We used turkey bacon and sharp cheddar cheese as accompaniments.  Although it tasted a bit off, it was still good.

For dessert, I made some molasses cookies.  They are my favorite kind of cookie.  I found the recipe on allrecipes.com.  They are nice and chewy – just the way I like them.

With the soup and the cookies, the husband and I had some Virginia wine.  I love the stuff.

I didn’t know anything about wine until I went out there for a summer.  I still don’t know much about wine, but I know a little bit more now – thanks to a few wine tastings and winery tours.

It was a good night.

I spent most of the day working on some statistics for a professor.  It was tedious and took a lot of time.  I’m still not done – but I have the majority completed.

For dinner, we went with an old standby – chicken parmesan.  We had leftover sauce and cheese.  We served it with some green beans and low-carb pasta.  It was delicious.

Now, we’re enjoying “Home Alone” and settling in.  I think I have to wait for the husband to go to bed in order to watch the season finale of “Dexter”.  He doesn’t like it – Booooo!

Tomorrow is a busy day.  I have to finish the statistics and start inputing them into the computer down on campus.  And, I actually get to meet my cooperating teacher for next semester.  I’m really looking forward to student teaching now.  Two sections of civics (juniors/seniors) and two sections of 20th century U.S. history.  I love it!  And, it’s at the school that I coach for.  So, I already know a few of the kids.  I really lucked out!  🙂

Have a great week, everyone!

Brrr…. it’s cold in here!

See… I told you….

And, I think it was even colder this morning.  Yuck.  I don’t mind winter – I just hate it when it’s *this* cold.  You can’t do much of anything outside.  Oh well.

Today was definitely a soup day.  After class, I decided that I would seek some out  (after all, I did go outside and brave the cold)  I was craving a good hearty veggie soup so I stopped by Atlanta Bread Company hoping that they would have their butternut squash soup.  And, I was lucky!  They had it.  It’s sooooo delicious and filling.  It’s a little sweet, but also savory.  I get a bit of a curry taste – but the description doesn’t say anything about curry.  Who knows.  Maybe my tasters are off.

I do love my pureed soups.  I need to find a recipe that just as good.  I do have a can of butternut squash puree in the cupboard from Trader Joe’s.  There is a recipe on the side for soup.  I might have to give it a try.

The rest of the day was just the usual.  For dinner I stopped at a local custard shop for a grilled chicken sandwich.  Okay, okay.  I also had some tiramisu custard.  I only get custard if it’s a really, really good flavor of the day.  Maybe once a month.  Which isn’t bad for living in the Milwaukee area…   We love our custard!  🙂

I leave you with a cute picture of Jackson.  He tends to sleep with his paws stretched in the air.  It’s a dark picture, but you get the idea.  🙂

G’night!  🙂

Ugly Sweaters!

I have to share a fun link – it’s been the husband’s pet project at work for a few weeks now.  Instead of a boring Christmas card being sent out to clients, his company decided to put together a fun website filled with pictures of the staff in ugly Christmas sweaters.  You can poke around the website and view all the fun pictures and upload your own.  Feel free to vote for the hubby and Jackson!

Yup… those are my boys.  🙂  (I still don’t know how they got Jackson to stay still)

Here’s the link – have some fun!  Hanson Dodge Bedazzeled Christmas

I kinda like the sweater.  It’s fun.  🙂

As I blog, I’m watching an episode of “My Boys” from last season.  It’s the episode that takes place in Arizona for spring training.  Ugh.  I can’t wait until baseball season starts.  Almost two months until pitchers and catchers report to spring training….  *sigh*  Not soon enough.  🙂

I Declare A Snow Day!

I didn’t have much to do today.  I was supposed to go down to school to do some work for a professor, but I decided to stay in because of the slick roads.  My professor understood.

The end of the semester is close to an end.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s so close!  Only one quiz and two finals stand in my way.  Not bad – not bad at all.  🙂  (Too bad one of them isn’t until next Friday at 3:30!!)

I didn’t even have to coach today because of the weather.  I had the entire day to myself.  It was strange.  It was a good thing I picked up season 2 of “Dexter” at the library yesterday.  Otherwise I would’ve been lost and had nothing to do.  🙂

Dinner was a new experiment.  I’ve been wanting to try making ravioli with won-ton wrappers ever since I saw Giada do it on the Food Network.  I really want to try her Nutella-filled raviolis, but that might have to wait.  (Hello, my name is Jackie and I am addicted to Nutella.)

So, this what I came up with.  I’ll have to do a few tweaks, but it was fairly successful and husband approved.

Chicken & Spinach “Ravioli”

1 package won-ton wrappers (I found mine by the salad greens at the grocery store)

1 clove garlic (chopped very finely, grated or pressed)

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked a cut into small pieces

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese

1/2 package frozen spinach – thawed and strained

1/2 T dried oregano

1/2 T dried basil

1 t black pepper

Other ingredients: 1 egg, dash of water

Add all of the ingredients (except for the wonton wrappers) into a food processor.

Pulse the ingredients in the food processor until well-combined and relatively smooth.  Take 1 T of the mixture and place it in the middle of a won-ton wrapper.  Mix together one egg and a splash of water in another bowl.  Take a pastry brush (or your finger) and place the egg mixture along two sides of the won-ton skin.  Fold over – and be sure to seal the edges well.

When you’re ready to cook, place the ravioli in salted, boiling water for approximately 5 minutes (or when the ravioli floats to the water’s surface).  Serve immediately with your favorite sauce – we chose our standard tomato sauce.

Freeze the leftovers individually and then bag them when they’re completely frozen.

Overall, they tasted pretty good especially for my first crack at it.  I think it would a lot better with actual pasta, but that’s a challenge for another day.  🙂  For a won-ton wrapper, they’re pretty good.  I’m sure I can modify this recipe a lot.  Maybe create a mushroom mixture with a burned butter sauce?  Mmmm….  I’m loving the possibilities already.

If you try this recipe, let me know if you made any modifications!  I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

Alright – time to watch “Glee” and the “Top Chef” finale.  I just found out today that Idina Menzel is going to make an appearance on “Glee”.  I think the role is Lea Michele’s character’s biological Mom – which would be perfect because they look A LOT alike!

Idina Menzel - Courtesy of http://www.keithprowse.co.uk

Lea Michele - Image Courtesy of Broadway World

I love both of them.  🙂

I’m excited for “Top Chef”!!  Go Kevin!  I guess he’ll actually be tweeting live during the finale.  G’night everyone!!