Oooh, So Spicy!

Hello All and  Happy Monday! After my 4.5 mile interval run, I had an another awesome, and very French, breakfast..

I try not to eat a whole lot of bread, but when I do I want it to be good. This morning, I smeared some Bonne Maman raspberry preserves and all-natural peanut butter on a fresh French baguette. Hmmm…so good! I really think I should move to France just so I can have fresh French bread everyday and have it be normal. I also had a couple strawberries just ‘cuz they’re so good for you.

I am really looking forward to warmer weather when I can enjoy these types of breakfast out on my huge front porch. Spring/Summer can not come soon enough.

It was status quo at work today. Even lunch was a meager 1 1/2 cups of chicken soup and a couple Dr. Kracker flatbreads. But late in the afternoon, I enjoyed some purple yogurt!

If you have not tried Dannon’s Greek yogurt yet, I highly recommend the blueberry flavor -it’s fantastic! I think I may even like this better than Trader Joe’s vanilla Greek yogurt – I can’t believe it either!

Dinner was some very spicy chicken stir-fry a la my husband who can’t tell things are too spicy when he’s congested.

Oooh, so spicy!

After dinner, I headed out to the mall for another fruitless, 2-hour shopping trip. I think the retail gods are laughing right about now at how much time I’ve spent searching for new clothes.

I’m going to make one more attempt at shopping this week, before Fitbloggin. If I can’t find anything, just remember I tried!

See ya all tomorrow ­čÖé

Homemade Salad Bar

Hi All! 

What a day! It was a busy, busy Saturday for me. It started with a hearty bowl of cereal….

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Honeynut Cheerios topped with walnuts and fresh strawberries. Yes, that is my hand that you can barely see in the photo above. With it being so cold outside, I’ve been having to hold my food out our French doors because I’m too much of a marshmallow to take the picture outside! So, you may see part of my hand in pictures throughout the winter ;-).

Next on the agenda was a little lot of shopping ┬á– ┬ánearly 3 hours worth! Scott is such a trooper when it comes to shopping. He actually is a very keen shopper and is more than willing to spend money on clothes for himself and me. Well, after 3 hours of shopping – Jcrew, Ann Taylor, etc – I still could NOT find anything that I remotely liked – ugh!! Why is it that when you really need to buy something you can’t find a damn thing, but when you’re just browsing for the heck of it, you can buy out the store? On the other hand, Scott happened to find an awesome, “they call me Professor Scott”, brown blazer – and a sweater vest from JCrew. Hey, we’re shopping for me here!!┬á

Lunch was at Chili’s – mostly out of convenience. With all of the times I’ve been to Chili’s, you would think that I’ve tried just about everything on the menu. But today, I actually ordered something brand spankin new – the black bean burger…

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I don’t recall EVER having a black bean burger in my life. This one was good, but a bit soggy after a few minutes. It was also kind of freaky to see the actual black beans in the burger after I cut it in half. After one bite, little black beans were actually falling out of the burger. Not sure if that’s normal or not. Anyway, I only ended up eating 1/2 the burger but I had also filled up on chips and salsa ahead of time.

The afternoon included a fun trip to Costco – when is going to Costco not fun or expensive? We went there for water and other necessities but ended up looking at a bunch of holiday things. I don’t normally care to look at holiday items/decorations prior to Thanksgiving. But Costco puts out its decorations in JULY so it’s hard to avoid them.┬á

Dinner was an awesome and healthy treat…

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A Super Salad Bar right in our very own home! This was all Scott’s idea and preparation. He even suggested I take a picture of all of the ingredients…

  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green onion
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Red onion
  • Cucumbers
  • Bacon (nitrate-free)
  • Salami
  • Cheddar cheese

And all of these goodies topped with Scott’s homemade balsamic dressing.

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And I almost forgot, the salad also included grilled asparagus!

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And here is the main course….

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We also enjoyed some fresh bakery bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar – so yum!

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Such a fancy smancy dinner calls for a fancy drink…

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OK, it’s diet coke, but it’s in a real crystal wine glass ­čśë

Now I am finally watching the “wedding” episode of The Office and laughing out loud – Michael Scott is too funny!

I have another busy day planned for tomorrow so Good Night everyone!

Food and Football – A Perfect Sunday

Hello Girls! Wow – what a beautiful day it was here! It was about 72 degrees and sunny – just perfect!┬á

Well, in honor of my 8th wedding anniversary, I thought I’d give you a preview of the anniversary photos for tomorrow’s post….

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This is Scott and I while on a cruise a couple years ago. You might not be able to tell, but we were quite tipsy from all of the wine! Believe it or not, I ran 5 days on our 7 day cruise – even in choppy waters! As for my husband, I don’t think Scott saw the inside of the fitness center at all that week – he he! Ahh..good times! Stay tuned for more pics tomorrow….

Now, onto today…

I was out the door by 7:30 AM to go for a fast 6 mile run – it took me just over 48 minutes – yeah! I love when I have really good runs, they usually put me in a great mood for the rest of the day.

I did have a 1/2 Luna bar just prior to my run which I think helped with my endurance and speed immensely…

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This Luna bar was pretty tasty with a great peanut butter flavor. It only has 3 g of fiber though which is not terribly high for a power bar. After my workout, I was running late to make 9:30 Mass, so I ate the other 1/2 of my Luna bar in the car. I was so glad that I did because Mass ended up being nearly 25 minutes longer than expected. I think I would have passed out if I wouldn’t have eaten ahead of time!

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After church, we headed back home for an hour or so then it was back out to lunch at Go Roma. Between work and home, I eat at this place WAY too much – but it’s so good and convenient – not to mention relatively healthy.

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I had the vegetarian panini with spinach, red peppers, tomatoes, onions, and goat cheese. It was quite good, although I stopped eating about 3/4 of the way so I wouldn’t get too full.

The rest of the day consisted of cleaning (outside and inside) and watching the Chicago Bears beat the Seattle Seahawks! Scott was very happy of course.

For dinner, Scott made his awesome turkey tacos with all the fixins…

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I only had two soft tacos – full of lettuce, meat, salsa, cheese, and guacamole – and I was pretty full by the end.

Now, I’m off to do a little light reading and then to bed. I have another early and jam-packed Monday planned, that starts with a 5 mile run!

Night all!

Flavors of the Fall

Evening everyone! With the official start of fall just a day and a half away, I thought I’d do a little fall decorating this afternoon.

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This made me wonder – Fall is my favorite time of year, but what was my favorite thing about the Fall? Well, there are so many things that I love about the Fall that it’s hard to choose just one thing – so, I made a list!

Jen’s 10 Fall Faves:

  1. Watching the leaves changing colors
  2. Changing my signature Spring/Summer drink – a Starbucks Frap – to a Starbucks skinny vanilla latte
  3. Wearing my Fall sweaters and Gap jeans
  4. Listening to my Fall transition music – James Taylor’s Greatest Hits
  5. Cheering for Big Ten Football
  6. Running in much cooler weather
  7. Picking pumpkins and gourds
  8. Eating fresh cider donuts from the cider mill
  9. Watching Fall classics like It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
  10. Finally being able to put up Fall decorations!

So, my question to you is – what is your favorite thing about the Fall?

Scott’s parents came over this afternoon and stayed for dinner. And, an amazing dinner it was!

We started out with some multigrain crackers and white cheddar cheese…┬á

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And with it, we had some vino…

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I don’t drink very often, but when I do, it’s usually wine. Tonight, my father-in-law brought a new wine over from Trader Joe’s…

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This was a very different type of wine than I’d ever had. It was a mixture of several different kinds of wine…

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As you can see, it was such an unusual wine that I had to try a glass. It was pretty smooth and had a good flavor, especially for being on the less expensive side of wines.

For dinner, we had my husband’s famous minestrone soup! He makes a huge batch of the soup about once a season and it’s usually when we have people over for dinner. I have not received the ok from my husband on whether or not I can reveal his secret recipe, but I can tell you that it requires a ton of vegetables!

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Along with our very warm and tasty soup, we had fresh 12-grain bread for dipping…

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We dipped the bread in our soup and in olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar with added spices and parmesan cheese..

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The balsamic vinegar was actually from Gourm├Ę┬áMist. A few weeks ago, the company had sent me several samples of their olive oil and vinegar misters to try. I am happy to report that the balsamic vinegar mister was fantastic!

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It had a great flavor, was easy to use, and the mister was a very clever way of adding just a hint of balsamic taste to the dipping oil. Can’t wait to try this on a salad!

For dessert, my father-in-law made homemade “apple slices”, which is a cross between an apple pie and apple strudel…

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This was my first time having this dish and it was so yummy! We paired it with Breyer’s Vanilla Bean ice cream – ok, can this get any better?

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After that fabulous dessert, I am happy to report that dinner (and the food) had finally ended. I seriously don’t think I could eat anymore and I only had one bowl of soup!

I have an early day tomorrow, so I’m ready to turn in for the night.

Have a great night everyone!

Who Has the Best Veggie Burger?

Afternoon everyone! I didn’t get to bed until after midnight! I was sucked into watching V for Vendetta – one of Scott’s favorite movies. I’ve never had an interest in seeing it, but I caught the last half of it last night and decided to watch the rest of it. Pretty dark movie, but still entertaining and thought-provoking.

Because of my late night, I chose not to set my alarm for yoga. I wanted to see if I would wake up naturally, and early enough to make it there on time. Well, I didn’t get out of bed until 7:30 AM, which was probably plenty of time to make it to 8 AM yoga if I rushed out the door. But I really didn’t feel like rushing to yoga.

Instead, I opted for a nice leisurely breakfast. I have been eating so much cereal lately that I just had to have something different today. I’m out of Greek yogurt, so homemade oatmeal it was!

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And so yummy it was too! I used a 1/2 cup of raw oats, combined with 1 cup of skim milk, topped with 2 strawberries and a dollop of MaraNatha creamy peanut butter.

After breakfast, Scott and I took a long walk in a forest preserve – something we used to do quite a bit before our schedules got so crazy.

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The whole trail loop is about 2 miles long and we ended up doing 1 1/2 loops for a total of 45 minutes.┬áIt was an absolutely gorgeous morning outside, just cool enough for a brisk walk. I’m really looking forward to walking this route when the leaves are in full color.

After our walk, we headed home to get ready for our lunch date. I was in the mood for a chicken sandwich and french fries (a girl can’t always eat healthy!), so we headed to Red Robin. That place can be dangerous because of the bottomless french fries, but I do like their sandwiches. Today, instead of my usual chicken, I ordered the Garden Burger with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles…

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And, of course, it came with french fries.

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I’m usually a turkey burger or chicken sandwich kind of a girl. But, I’m really starting to like veggie/garden burgers more and more. However, I really haven’t eaten that many to really know which brand is best.┬á

So, my question to you all is this – what would you say is the best brand of veggie/garden burger out there?

Ideally, I’d like something that is not overly processed, all-natural, etc. as well as easy to make with a delicious taste. I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

After our very filling lunch, we’re relaxing until we head out to a late summer party tonight. One of our girlfriends is moving to Brazil on October 1 and her family is throwing her a going-away party. As of now, she only plans to be gone for a year – but you never know! I’m looking forward to the party because I know there will be a ton of fun people there, as well as great food and maybe a bonfire!

Must get back to relaxing, so I’ll see you all tonight!

How Should Bloggers Reject a Free Sample?

Hey all. I am really ready to crash right now. It was very challenging for me to concentrate all day with only five hours of sleep.

For lunch, I brought the last of my homemade turkey chili

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You probably can’t tell, but it has baby spinach in it. I love that you can put baby spinach in just about anything and have it blend so much that you don’t notice you’re eating it.

After lunch, I stepped outside for a 20 minute walk to wake me up. It was 85 degrees and sunny here today so the walk was quite warm. But, it was also well worth it. I love these last days of summer. The afternoon went by very fast, although I felt extremely tired around 3 PM so I popped open a diet coke. Ah…a cold diet coke on a hot day – love it!

I arrived home around 6 PM and was pretty beat. But, I still managed to pull off a fab dinner – a creation of my very own I am proud to say…

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I made, what has become, my signature dish. It’s my Italian sausage-pasta dish with tri-color peppers and leeks. This is such an awesome one pot recipe and it really makes a lot more than you think so it’s great for leftovers. For all of you vegetarians out there, you could probably substitute tofu or portobello for the sausage – just a thought.

After dinner, I scooted off to the library to return some books, then it was off to Party City to get a few supplies for my first staff training program I’m implementing on Thursday this week. Then, I headed to the local dairy/ice cream store for Scott. He loves mint chocolate chip ice cream and had a special request for it tonight.

I decided to save money and just eat the leftover Breyers vanilla bean ice cream at home. But, I added a few extras – like dark chocolate chips and watermelon, for all of those antioxidants you know!

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Question of the Day

Ok, now for the question of the day, what do you do when you keep getting emails from a company that is trying to give you a sample of a product you absolutely loathe? There is a company that is trying to send me samples of cigarette pack decals/decorations, I assume to make them trendy. But, I am against smoking in every way. Do I not answer their emails? Do I politely say no thank you, or do I really tell them that I think their product disgusts me? At the very least, they really need to get a better PR firm because they obviously did not check to see what I write about – health and wellness. And, since when do cigarettes promote health and wellness?

Ok, enough griping. I’m off to bed. Have a great night!

As American As Shopping and Apple Pie

Good evening everyone. Hope you had a great Sunday! Scott and I did a little house cleaning – OK, I did the cleaning while he made an apple pie – but that definitely counts as work.

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Scott comes from a long line of pie-bakers so I was highly anticipating the first apple pie of the season. Except for the crust, my husband made this pie from scratch – even peeling all of the apples himself. But, at the end, I had the important job of taking the pie out of the oven.

With the pie cooling at home, we headed for lunch at the local Italian eatery.

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I had a cup of minestrone soup and a veggie-goat cheese personal pizza. I was getting full after the soup and two slices of pie (pizza, not apple) so I saved two pieces of pizza for lunch later in the week.

After lunch, we headed to Williams Sonoma so that I could sign up for my first-ever cooking class! It’s not that I don’t know how to cook (although Scott may disagree), but I’ve always wanted to take a culture-specific cooking class. This one, which is next Wednesday, is all about French cooking. So cool! And anyone who reads my other alter-ego blog knows how much I love France and Europe in general.

The rest of the afternoon was full of more shopping with a trip to Barnes and Noble and a highly worthwhile trip to Ann Taylor Loft! They have these new very feminine t-shirts in all different colors. I may or may not have bought the shirt in a few different colors, as well as a few camis.

For dinner, I made homemade chicken soup with orzo soup (see I can cook!).

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The soup was really easy to make, full of flavor, and very low in calories. 

After soup, I got busy making homemade caramel sauce for the apple pie. I’ve made caramel sauce before but just couldn’t find the recipe anywhere. So, I found a simple recipe on the Internet and went to work. Well, the first batch I made burned so bad it turned back into hardened sugar. Not fun. The second batch turn out ok, although I did not let the sugar brown as much as I could have and the color looks more like dulce de leche, rather than caramel. But, it still tasted good over the apple pie…

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So messy, gooey, and yummy – all at the same time! The flavor of the caramel was fantastic! Along with sugar, water, and cream, I also used a very posh vanilla that was sent to me called Nielsen-Massey Mexican Vanilla. Oh my gosh, if you’ve never had high end vanilla, this is so worth it! Nielsen-Massey also sent me several other extracts – coffee, lemon, etc. – which I can’t wait to try this holiday season! FYI – you can get the extracts at Williams Sonoma but they are expensive!

Now, it’s off to bed for me. Monday mornings have been coming very early these days.

Night all!

My First Veggie Burger In Years

I absolutely love starting my day with a run. It’s always so energizing and makes me feel super strong – like I can do anything!

After my 4-mile interval run, I had a little breakfast…

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I had a cereal mix of Cheerios Multi-grain and Kashi Go Lean Crunch topped with some fresh blueberries. I also had my third shot of Zola’s Daily Wellness shot – in a crystal wine glass because I’m such a fancy girl!

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My work day started with immediate meetings and then some work on a super secret training project. But, that was actually pretty fun. Then, we had our annual staff appreciation luncheon, which was a picnic/BBQ theme…

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There was a TON of meat or meat-like products to choose from, including burgers, brats, hot dogs, ribs, and veggie burgers. I chose the veggie burger and topped it with all of the fixins’…

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I have not had a veggie burger in YEARS and this one was sooo goood. Makes me want to stop buying turkey burgers and get these. Although I don’t think my husband would like that too much – he he! I also had Mediterranean type salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, peppers, feta cheese, and the most onions I have ever seen in a salad. Seriously, this should have been called an onion salad.

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As you can see from my pretty full plate, I also had a cute fruit kebob. Fancy, fancy, even on a plastic plate!

There was also an ice cream bar but I am way to full to partake in that treat right now. I hope there’s some left this afternoon!

Now, it’s heads down for the rest of the afternoon. Because I’m off on Monday and Tuesday, I have a bunch of loose ends to tie up before I leave.

Enjoy your day everyone.