Could I actually like a Miley Cyrus Song?

Hi All!

It was another glorious day in Chicagoland, which means another awesome run! I ran a very fast 5 miler but felt like I could have run 6 or 7. I am attributing my energy to not only the weather, but also the LUNA bar I had about an hour before I ran…

11.8 prerun

I received a coupon via email from LUNA saying that I could buy two bars and get one free, but I had to download the “coupon printer”. It says it’s “safe” to download this software, but I’m always hesitant to download things on my work laptop for fear of it crashing. Has anyone downloaded the coupon printer before? What was your experience?

While I was running I heard this great song that actually made me want to sing along with it. I had heard the song before but had no idea who sang it. Come to find out – it’s MILEY CYRUS!! OMG, I can’t believe I actually like a Miley  Cyrus song, but her “Party in the USA” song is so fun. I don’t plan on turning into a Hannah Montana fan anytime soon, but I will definitely not turn this song off when it comes on the radio.

After my run, I enjoyed a quick yogurt bowl while getting ready for the day…

11.8 breakfast

I had Chobani’s vanilla Greek yogurt with a handful of walnuts for added MUFA and crunch – super filling and so YUM!

After breakfast, we spontaneously decided to head out to the zoo for the day. Although it was spontaneous, it seemed to take us forever to get out the door. We didn’t actually arrive at the zoo until noon! Of course on the way, we made a couple stops, including Barnes and Noble for my sweet indulgence on this “last day of summer”…

11.8 starbucks

Because we arrived at the zoo right at lunch, we plopped down at a picnic table and enjoyed some homemade salami/ham and cheese sandwiches…

11.8 lunch

Although we’ve been to this zoo many times, today was the first day I had ever seen the bats. Creepy but kind of cool. The giraffes and Meerkats are more my style.

Dinner was another Every Day With Rachel Ray recipe from this month’s issue. Tonight it was the BLT Creamy Mac & Cheese

11.8 dinner mag photo

The above picture is actually a photo I took right from the magazine, but check out how closely my creation resembles the real one…

11.8 dinner2

Woo Hoo – another recipe winner! This recipe was fantastic, although I’m guessing pretty high in calorie due to the cream cheese and bacon. Ok, did I mention that I like bacon? I was never really a fan of bacon until I was an adult and learned to make bacon the exact way I like it – crunchy! I try not to eat too much bacon, but when I do I buy/eat the uncured/all-natural kind. Bacon really kicked this dish up to a whole new level and the added spinach (substituted for arugula) gave the dish some much needed veggies. This dish is definitely going into my recipe book, not only for the flavor but also because it only took about 30 minutes to cook!

After dinner, we decided to celebrate my last evening before going back to work by heading to the ice cream shop – Maggie Moo’s, which is similar to Cold Stone, although I think they have better-tasting ice cream than Cold Stone. I was so torn between Red Velvet ice cream – because you all know I’ve been on this Red Velvet kick – but decided to go with the…

11.8 dessert

Blueberry Muffin ice cream! I just adore this specialty flavor – although it’s very rich so I don’t suggest making it a habit. I had mine with walnuts – I needed to make it healthy somehow! Sorry about the odd looking photo. I forgot the camera so I had to rely on Scott’s iphone.

Gotta head to bed. I want to make sure I’m fresh and ready to go for work tomorrow. Have a great night!

Outdoor Grilling in November – In Chicago!!

Hi All!

It felt awesome sleeping in this morning! I didn’t get up until 7 AM. I’m sure I’ll get a reality check on Monday when I go back to work.

Today started with a big bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch – I’m making up for lost Kashi from last week – he he!

11.7 breakfast

After a morning of more cleaning and shopping in 70 degree weather, Scott cooked up some burgers on the grill for us…

11.7 lunch

I can’t believe that it was 70 degrees out day!!! It’s like I never left San Diego!

In addition to the burger, I also made myself a small spinach salad with…

  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 tbs Mezzetta jarred red peppers
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • white cheddar cheese

And I topped it all with a little EVOO and balsamic vinegar.

Later in the day I ran to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things for dinner tonight. While in San Diego, I picked up the latest issue of Every Day With Ray. It has so many fabulous recipes, including the one I tried tonight…

11.7 dinner recipe

Sorry about the fuzzy photo. Scott thought it would be a good idea to at least show you what the recipe looked like but you can actually get the full recipe on Rachel Ray’s site.

The main ingredients of the recipe are chicken and store-bought gnocchi which I so conveniently purchased at TJ’s. Surprisingly, Trader Joe’s only had one type of gnocchi and it wasn’t even whole wheat. The actual recipe was super easy, although be very careful when simmering the sauce, my first attempt boiled over!

11.7 dinner2

My second try went much better, especially because I watched it much more closely. And now, the final product…

11.7 dinner4

This seriously looks just like the photo – which means I done good! And, not only did the photo turn out well, but the dish tasted awesome! However, I would NOT eat this dish on a regular basis. Between the gnocchi and the cream sauce, this dish was very heavy and I’m sure not very low in calories either!

11.7 dinner5

I just finished watching (or glancing at) the Fantastic Four on FX. This is the first time I’ve really seen Jessica Alba act. I’ve heard so many good things about her so was surprised that her acting skills in this movie were less than great.

We are in for another 70 degree day in Chicago tomorrow – can’t wait! We’re still debating on what we’ll do to enjoy the weather, but I guess you’ll all find out tomorrow!

Have a great night!

San Diego Recap

Woo Hoo! I am finally done with our big meeting and it went fantastic! For 4-6 months, the meeting pretty much consumes my life and the lives of everyone in my office. Now, after 7 days, it is finally finished. There is definitely a huge sense of accomplishment seeing the whole meeting come together. 

On that note, let me give you a recap of my week…

  • 4 days of running (about 15 miles)
  • 7 days of walking about 2 miles a day
  • 1 1/2 Starbucks consumed
  • 10 minutes of television watched
  • 4 glasses of sangria drunk
  • 3 visits with my brother
  • 3 Gourmet cupcakes eaten
  • 6 receptions attended

When I look at this list, I realize that …I’ve had one hectic and exciting week. And, to top things off in true RWC style, I grabbed a night cap with my brother and a little dessert…

11.4 dessert

This is a pomegranate mousse layer with chocolate crunch cake. This dessert looked mighty fancy, but quite honestly, it was just ok.

But now, onto bigger and better things, such as trying to remember how I got all of my clothes to fit into one suitcase!!

I’m outta here for the night. See you tomorrow evening!

A Salad Duet

So this morning started off very early, or what seemed to be really early. I didn’t end up going to bed until nearly midnight and then my alarm went off at 6 AM. I really wanted to just stay in bed but I knew I’d better run today because I did not run yesterday. 

It has not been getting light until 7 AM here in Chicago – yikes! That is way too late for me to start running during the work week. So I was on the treadmill again today. I’d better get used to it because winter weather will be here before I know it. However, with the time change this weekend, it will get light by 6 AM instead – bonus!

I literally had my breakfast in-hand this morning as I walked out the door…

10.28 breakfast

There’s nothing wrong with a little all-natural creamy peanut butter on Brownberry’s double fiber bread. Gotta love that it’s a very nonmessy and portable breakfast.

I was heads down at work from about 9 AM to 1 PM. I’m so glad I brought my lunch because I had no time to run out…10.28 lunch

Leftover taco salad saved the day! The protein in the meat and cheese was a huge help after a full morning of work. It kept me energized all the way to dinner too. 

Dinner ended up being a close replay of last night (and today’s lunch actually) – a salad duet if you will. Scott baked parmesan crusted chicken tonight, but I chose to have mine in a salad rather than eating it with potatoes and steamed carrots…

10.28 dinner

I’ve just been in the salad mood lately. This is the third one I’ve had in two days! Salads are so easy and healthy to make, especially when you have a salad spinner. I just chop all the lettuce up at once, rinse it off really well, spin it, and leave it in the fridge for a week. I take the lettuce out whenever I’m in the mood for a quick salad, or we use it for other things like tacos. Again – so easy!

After dinner I headed out to finally get my new running shoes! And that is exactly what I did. I’m so excited that I have new shoes to run in and I’m especially glad that I have new shoes for my trip – the old ones were getting pretty bad. I didn’t take a picture of them tonight because of the bad lighting, but I’ll post one tomorrow for you all to see. FYI – I am very picky about my running shoes. I have worn the same make and model (hmmm….sounds like a car) for most of the last 10 years.

On my way back from Dick’s Sporting Goods, I stopped at Cold Stone to pick up ice cream for Scott. I had a coupon to buy 2 ice creams for $5 so I ordered one too, just to save money really 😉

10.28 dessert

I’m not very fancy when it comes to my Cold Stone. I usually just get chocolate or dark chocolate and one mix-in. Tonight, it was chocolate and red velvet cake! Kudos to Cold Stone for venturing into the red velvet cake territory – it is a favorite of mine, especially when the cake is done right. I also tried a little taste of the pumpkin ice cream – hmm…not a fan – way too pumpkiny, but then what did I expect?

I am off tomorrow as is customary the day before I travel. Then, Friday is the big day – I’ll be off to sunny California. My brother and his wife live there and I’m so excited that I get to see them on Friday night for dinner!

OK, gotta run before I turn into a pumpkin. Have a great night.

Orzo Risotto Improv

Hey there!

Well my headache from last night has continued through today, although I have had intermittent headache-free spells. I did take over-the-counter sinus medication last night. It really helped me sleep, despite being the daytime kind.

Getting a good night sleep really helped me with my run this morning. It was a gorgeous morning for a run as well, so I ran about 5 miles and felt GREAT! Only problem was that it has rained the past few days so when I ran through the grass, my shoes were a completely soggy mess! No worries though because tomorrow I’m heading out to buy new running shoes – yeah!

I was nearly starving when I returned from my run, so I made an awesome breakfast…

10.25 breakfast

Nothing like a huge bowl of homemade oats to curb the appetite! I added a little brown sugar, sliced almonds, and of course, all-natural creamy peanut butter. I mixed it all together which promptly turned my oatmeal into a giant gooey, but very yummy, mess in a bowl.

I ran out to Target soon after breakfast to pick up more medicine and a few essentials for my upcoming trip. Then I stopped to take a walk in the park (rather a forest preserve) which was just lovely with all of the trees at their peak color.

Lunch was similar to yesterday…a simple and fairly small salami and ham sandwich, but this time I used the three-cheese bread that we bought yesterday.

10.25 lunch

Oh my, high quality bakery bread makes all the difference in a sandwich!

I spent the afternoon doing MORE shopping for my big meeting. I still haven’t found any new clothes to my liking, but my frustration was replaced with excitement as I purchased a few new pieces of jewelry! Bling, bling!

Scott and I decided to stay in for dinner tonight. I offered to make risotto to go with the mesquite chicken he was making. Come to find out, we had no aborio rice! Ugh! But, never fear, we had orzo, so I improvised.

10.25 dinner2

I boiled the orzo according to directions but added a cube of bouillon to the water. After it was cooked, I drained it and added sauteed red peppers, onions, shaved carrots, and baby spinach. Top this with parmesan cheese and it’s good to go!

Almost forgot to mention that, while we were cooking, Scott and I polished off a box of Trader Joe’s spinach and artichoke dip…

10.25 dinner1

This is fantastic dip, as I mentioned before, and way cheaper than anything you could buy in a restaurant.

I still have a bunch of things to get done tonight so I will say my goodbyes now!

Have a great Sunday evening!

Costco Blowout

Evening everyone!

Hope you all had a great Friday. Today is my typical day off, but I found myself working on and off from home. This is how it goes every year around this time. 

After a rousing 4 mile run on the treadmill (still raining – ugh!), I enjoyed a big cereal mix…

10.23 breakfast

I had Honeynut Cheerios, with Kashi Go Lean, and Kashi Go Lean Crunch. It tasted sooo good! I miss you Kashi Go Lean Crunch – so glad that you were on sale this week 😉

Scott was home today as well and he worked ALL day on a project he has coming up. I guess it’s just work, work, work for us. We did stop for some lunch and surprise, we actually stayed home for lunch today!

10.23 lunch

We really did consider going out to eat. However, Scott made so much chicken soup yesterday that we decided to save money and just eat at home.

After lunch, I ran up to Costco to get just a few things and wound up spending nearly $200!!! Oh my gosh, how can stores like Costco and Target cause me to spend that much money in one outing??? Of course, I had to get essentials, like chicken, Italian sausage, and ground turkey. But I also bought $80 640 ct. cotton sheets, and a few Christmas presents.

Later in the afternoon, I had a little snack to take the edge off of my shopping trip…

10.23 snack

Ahh, popcorn! I just love popcorn especially when it’s only 100 calories a bag.

Dinner was another Jennifer specialty – my Italian sausage and pasta dish

10.23 dinner

This dish is so incredibly yummy and super easy to make. It’s rather versatile too – you can change up the peppers, or add peas, mushrooms, or other veggies if you want.

After dinner, we popped out to the bookstore for a bit. I love checking out the new calendars and planners for the upcoming year. I saw at least 4 that I would love to buy. Only problem is that I’ll use them for a month and then never look at them again. Does anyone else have that problem? 

On our way back from Barnes and Noble, we stopped at the Cheesecake Factory to pick up a slice of Chocolate Black-out Cake. They actually used to sell this cake at Barnes and Noble, go figure, but in a smaller version (it was cheaper too). However, they stopped selling the cake last year and now we must go right to the source to get our fix. Mind you, we do NOT do this very often because the cake is more than $7 a slice!! But it is sooo worth every penny!

10.23 dessert1

Now, we’ve just settled down to watch Numbers on CBS. No more Psych until next year – sniff, sniff. But, very soon we will find out who killed Trudy on Monk.

Have a great Friday night!

Under New Management

Happy Monday everyone!

Well, we are officially under new management! Today was our first day with the new CEO. Quite honestly though, it was really no different than an ordinary day. The day included work, food, work, and more food – nothing new around the office for us! 

Prior to work, my morning started with a fast 4 mile run on the treadmill. I needed to get to work early today (gotta impress the Big Cheese ya know 😉 so I got up extra early – 5:45 AM yikes! – in order to get my run done and over with. However, getting up that early meant sacrificing an outside run for a run on the treadmill due to the utter darkness that still engulfed the morning.

Breakfast was a big bowl of peanut butter mousse…

10.19 breakfast1

…aka Trader Joe’s vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt with a dollop of all-natural creamy peanut butter. Plus, I add a few chopped walnuts to give it some CRUNCH! I haven’t had Trader Joe’s yogurt in nearly two weeks (come to think of it, it may even be longer than that).

10.19 breakfast2

I was so going through withdrawal. As you can imagine, I was super excited when Scott offered to pick up some yogurt last night when he ran out to get gas in the car. Yeah – now I’m all set with TJ’s yogurt for the week!

My morning at work consisted of finalizing a few projects for our big meeting (OMG – I can’t believe I leave next Friday for San Diego!) I also spent the day mingling with the new CEO, his wife, our president and his wife, and other staff members. It was actually quite fun because they are all very lovely people.

I know that we are working in a casual atmosphere these days because of preparing for the annual meeting. But, I am really surprised at what people at my work actually wear to the office – especially on the day that the new CEO starts!!! He’s in a suit and some of my coworkers are in sweatshirts and jeans (and worse than that too!) And frankly, I don’t know anyone who climbed the corporate ladder wearing a track suit – unless you count Richard Simmons. Pu-leeze people, think before you dress when you come to work!

I am very glad that I chose to dress up for the occasion, despite our implied casual day, because I felt so much better while I ate lunch with our new boss and his wife. I know I would have been very uncomfortable chatting with him in jeans. 

We had an all staff lunch to welcome our guests – 20 pizzas were on the menu! Now that’s a LOT of pizza! But then again, we never do anything small when it comes to food. However, I didn’t have any of the pizza – I’m just not crazy about the pizza that they buy at work. Everyone else raves about it, but I tend to just have the salad…

10.19 lunch1

Hmmm, a suspicious looking meatball also landed on my plate. I think it was a turkey meatball, but let’s just say that I can’t be sure and that I’m better off not knowing. The fruit was extra yummy…

10.19 lunch2

I have really been craving the summer fruits that are now out of season – watermelon, cantaloupe, etc – I took a couple of big spoonfuls. Don’t worry, I left plenty of fruit for all of the “dieters” in the office.

I arrived home feeling utterly exhausted after my long and eventful day. Scott managed to get home early from work and cooked up some turkey burgers for dinner. He made the burgers outside on the grill -that’s how NICE it was outside today! Too bad I didn’t see daylight from about 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

I did my share as far as making dinner – my job was assembling the zesty salad…

10.19 dinner

I may or may not have eaten a big old chocolate chunk cookie for dessert????

10.19 dessert

Ok, I did. But Scott commented that we needed to “get them out of the house”, so I thought I’d help make that wish come true a little faster.

Alright ladies (and gents – meaning Steve), time to call it a night. I’ve got another important day tomorrow – I’m leading another training session, this time for the executive staff so I really must be on my game tomorrow.

Have a great night!

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Evening everyone!

Well, it was rainy and cold again today, for like the 20th day in a row. I don’t really mind the rain, but it’s been so rainy and gloomy lately that I’m ready for a change. However, things may be turning up for Chicago, at least for a day or so. Tom Skilling – the famous Chicago meteorologist – is predicting high 60s/low 70s for Monday. If you are from Chicago, you know that good old Tommy Skilling is nearly always right, which is quite uncharacteristic of most meteorologists. I guess that’s why he’s famous.

I was so happy that I was able to get out for a run before the rain started this morning. Four and five-mile runs seem to go by so much faster when you’re actually looking at scenery and not staring at the television or the clock from the moveable perch of a treadmill.

Breakfast ended up being a huge (double my normal size) bowl of homemade oatmeal….

10.16 breakfast2

…made from whole oats and skim milk, mixed with all-natural creamy peanut butter and walnuts, then topped with fresh strawberries. My eyes were bigger than my stomach (I’m so becoming my mother by using that phrase) because this turned out to be way too much food for my stomach to handle.10.16 breakfast1

After browsing on the Internet and working a little, lunch was another super convenient meal…

10.16 lunch

…defrosted turkey chili over elbow noodles, topped with sharp cheddar cheese, plus a side of carrots.

This afternoon was spent running errands, including a stop at the doctor, and Starbucks – woo hoo! It was just the pick-me-up I needed on this grey day.

Tonight, Scott and I headed to the mall to do a little suit and shoe shopping. Actually, I did the shopping while Scott browsed his iphone. With my big meeting less than 2 weeks again, there are still a bunch of things I need to get in order to be ready for all of my events and receptions. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything to my liking tonight – not even at Nordstrom which usually has great shoes. Although my shopping efforts came up short, we did manage to have a nice dinner at The Cheesecake Factory..

10.16 dinner

I really wasn’t that hungry so we ended up splitting the chicken tacos. Although they were quite good, I could barely eat one whole taco – I’m just not having a good stomach day. We left with no cheesecake and no dessert of any kind. Some people ask how we can go to the Cheesecake Factory and not get cheesecake. Easy – neither of us cares for cheesecake so it’s never an issue with us.

I’m am barely awake as I write this, so I guess that’s a sign I need to get to bed. I am predicting that shopping will be on the agenda for tomorrow. I’m hoping to get an early start to beat the crowds.

See you all on the flip slide!

Take the Cake….Out of My House!

Evening chicas! I first want to give a shout out and a huge CONGRATULATIONS to all of our fellow female food bloggers who received FoodBuzz Blog Award nominations. Good luck to all the nominees!

Today was such a productive day! Really, I felt like I was flying through project after project and putting out fires along the way. 

This morning, I was on treadmill about 6:30 to run for about 15 minutes before heading outside. It had just rained about 2 hours before so the ground was still wet and the air had that wet Autumn leaf smell that I love. I only ran about 4 miles total – it was all I could do today because I was running late for work.

After my run, I grabbed a simple breakfast…

10.6 breakfast

A high fiber English muffin with all-natural creamy peanut butter.

Somehow, even after waking up at 6 AM I still didn’t get to work until after 9 AM. I really have to streamline my morning routine.

About mid-morning, I became a little hungry and went to my granola bar stash in my drawer. I tried the Market Pantry high fiber peanut butter and oats granola bar.

10.6 snack

I was excited to try this bar because I love “high fiber” foods. But, after one bite, I knew this bar was not for me. I did not like this bar at ALL. It’s hard to even tell you what I didn’t like about it because after just one bite, I grimaced and threw it away. I’m glad I didn’t waste 140 calories on that one!

So, it was on to lunch! I was so hungry by the time I stopped for lunch that I ate it so fast and I didn’t stop to take a photo (oops!). But rest assured, it was the same thing that I had for dinner last night – sausage and pasta with leeks. Nothing like leftovers!

Dinner ended up being more leftovers – turkey chili!

10.6 dinner1

I had it with a size of elbow noodles, topped with white cheddar cheese – yummy!

The chili was pretty filling, but I still went for another piece of chocolate cake to finish off the night…

10.6 dessert

This cake is sooo good! But, I would be extremely relieved if I came home tomorrow and it was all gone. Please take this cake out of the house!

Now, I’m watching reruns of The Office and contemplating whether or not I should do more work. I think not – I see my new Shape and Fitness magazines staring at me just begging to be read!

Take care all and see you tomorrow!

Nature Valley Goodies

Evening everyone! I was actually able to run this morning – yes! It was a little rough at first because of a some tightness in my chest. But I made it through 4 very strong miles!

Prior to my run, I grabbed a quick snack…

10.2 prerun1

I had 1/2 of my new Nature Valley granola bar. It was very chewy and had a great cranberry and pomegranate flavor.

10.2 prerun2

After my run, I made a cereal mix of Multi-grain Cheerios, Kashi Go Lean, and another NEW product…10.2 breakfast1

Nature Valley’s Nut Lovers granola clusters. These little clusters had such an awesome nut (cashew!!!) flavor that I could have eaten them straight out of the bag.

10.2 breakfast2

But instead, I smashed them up a bit and put them on top of my cereal.

10.2 breakfast3

10.2 breakfast4

Although the new granola clusters had a great flavor, they are very low in fiber (1 g) and high in calories – 150 calories for a very small bag. This would definitely deter me from actually buying them, although I wouldn’t turn down a sample!

This afternoon I attended a retirement lunch for our CEO at his country/golf club. The event started with an open bar and a few passed appetizers. I only one small piece of a chicken quesadilla, which honestly was NOT very good. But I did order one of these..

10.2 lunch1

An apple martini! Whoa – this is SO uncharacteristic for me in so many ways. First, I very rarely drink. Second, if I do drink, it is usually wine. And third, if I do drink, it is typically in the evening with dinner not at noon! But, when I saw another coworker order this electric green drink I couldn’t resist! I only drank a few sips of it though – it was way too sweet and had too much alcohol in it for my taste.

Lunch started with a strawberry and mandarin orange salad with sliced almonds topped with raspberry vinaigrette – very tangy and tasty! 

10.2 lunch2

Next came a family-style meal that included two of our CEO’s favorites – lamb chops and white fish. Unfortunately, I do not like either of these, so I went with the third option – eggplant parmesan.

10.2 lunch3

I also had some awesome red-skinned mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, and mixed veggies. The potatoes were, by far, the best thing that I ate. Dessert was a trio of ice creams (very small scoops), including chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. Sorry – no photo – people at my table were beginning to really stare at me taking photos of my food by this time so I thought it best not to push it.

The rest of the afternoon was spent around the house, working and lounging. It was pretty cold and rainy here the whole day. And, because I’ve been sick, I really didn’t feel like venturing out of the house after the party.

For dinner, my husband made turkey chili, another one of my favorite dishes…

10.2 dinner

It was a little spicier than normal, but that’s probably a good thing because of my cold.

After dinner, my husband and I ran a few errands, then he so nicely made me a homemade chocolate milkshake…

10.2 dessert

This is seriously nothing fancy – just Edy’s chocolate ice cream and milk blended together. But it tasted so incredibly good!

I’m debating whether or not I should do a little work before I go to bed or if I should just relax and watch NUMBERS with my husband. I’m leaving toward the latter 🙂