Monthly Archives: April 2013

Kettlebell Love

Last night I went for a quick 2 miler sans stroller- usually running solo makes for a much faster pace, but last night that did not happen. My heels immediately hurt when I started my warm-up jog, but I kept going in hopes that I just needed to warm them up and then the rest of the run would be enjoyable.

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Wrong.

My feet hurt the entire time. Total bummer- and I’ve never had that kind of pain from running before. I thought maybe the stroller had changed the way I run, hence the soreness, but (lucky me) I have a friend in Physical Therapy grad school and so I asked her opinion. She said there’s a possibility that I over-worked my ligaments in my foot, which were more lax from pregnancy/childbirth. That is news that I don’t like to hear- and that I usually ignore in hopes that things will improve. This time though, I’m taking her advice to take it down a notch so that I can enjoy the Modesto Pregnancy Center 5k in two weeks. It is an amazing and life-changing organization that I want to support- and they can always be blessed by your donations if you are able!

So, for now its walking/elliptical for me, and my new favorite- KETTLEBELLS!

Normally kettlebells are between $30-$50 (!?!?) for ONE kettlebell at Target, or $60ish for a set of 3 on Amazon, but this cheapskate found 2 for $10 each at TJMaxx last week. Best score yet!

Here’s the workout I did this morning, before Gabs and I head out for a day of errands (gotta get fit-tested before I go back to work) boo.

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Killer.

~M

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Pesto Zucchini Lasagna with Goat Cheese

Hello Monday! We celebrate Monday’s over here with ruffle-butts. And coffee dates with sweet friends.

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This past week was packed- weddings, showers, my little sister’s prom, and Gabby’s first set of vaccines. Most of the activities were fun, the last one was not. But we made it through and somehow, the shots did not permanently scar my child. ūüôā

Friday morning, I was begging K to come with me to Gabby’s appointment, but K had promised to help set up for a wedding so she couldn’t come. My next desperate attempt was to get my mom to come with me last minute, but she also couldn’t come. I started to spiral downward into tears as I drove my happy daughter to her appointment- but then my mom unexpectedly told me over the phone, “Monica, you need to BUCK UP. You need to be tough for your daughter, she doesn’t need to see you cry.”

Sniffle. Didn’t expect that response. (*slightly surprised*) I stopped crying and remembered how I give these shots to babies everyday at work, and was always impressed by the moms who kept it together and took a matter-of-fact approach to the vaccines. I noticed that with the kindergarten age kids, if the moms were firm and didn’t over-stress how scary and awful the shots were, the kids generally responded better to the shots.

So, I bucked up, finished my last few whimpery tears, and held Gabby tight during and after the shots. She screamed, but within 10 minutes she was back to her happy self. Later that afternoon she was a little feverish and her little legs were swollen, but thankfully that only lasted for a few hours. We’ll be back for more in two months!

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That same night I did my little sister’s hair and make-up for her Junior-Senior Banquet, and it was so fun to have some girl time. My mom cuddled Gabs and soothed her tender legs while I got my sister all prettied up.

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I can’t believe how stinkin’ pretty my sister is!

The next day Gabs and I woke up early to sneak a quick morning run in and some kettlebell workouts. Thankfully we squeezed that in early because the rest of the day was devoted to some happy brides! I got to meet my cousin-in-law’s sweet fiance at her bridal shower, and then went to a good friend’s wedding later that night with my handsome husband.

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It was an awesome weekend, but we were pooped by Sunday and had a relaxing afternoon at home to recoop. Relaxing to Joey and Gabs = naptime. Relaxing to me? Lasagna!

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I had seen a few recipes for zucchini noodle lasagna floating around Pinterest and wanted to try them out- I ended up combining a few different recipes into my own idea of a yummy meal and was beyond pleased with the results!

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Now that summer is about here, and pool-side lounging in bathing suits draws near, it’s nice to have a few low-carb options for a hearty meal. I used zucchini in place of noodles, and lean-ground turkey (or drained and rinsed ground beef) for a protein kick. I swapped goat cheese for the typical overload of mozzarella cheese, and the flavor boost is phenomenal!

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Won’t be hard to make this my new go-to lasagna recipe. And a good hearty lasagna soothed this momma’s heart after watching Gabs endure those shots!

~M

Pesto Zucchini Lasagna with Goat Cheese

lightly adapted from SkinnyTaste

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 93% lean turkey (or beef) (I had browned and frozen my meat a while ago with bell peppers and onions for added taste)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 TBSP dried basil
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 4 oz. soft, unripened goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • splash of red wine

Directions

Brown the ground meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, wine, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8″ thick slices, add lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

On a gas grill or grill pan, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.

Preheat oven to 350¬į.

I like my lasagna with lots of layers, so I used a small baking dish- you can use an 8×8 or 6 1/2×8 1/2 size dish. Start the layering by spreading pesto on the bottom of the pan, then the zucchini, then the sauce/meat mixture, then parmesan & goat cheese, then zucchini, pesto, sauce & repeat. Top with remaining goat cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 for about 35-45 minutes, let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

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Bleu Cheese Crusted Steak

I do feel like I have to prove to everyone my love for steak now, after that bit about tofu.

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When I came home from college during the summers, I worked for one of the nicest restaurants in downtown Modesto- ‘Dewz’. My job was to be the ‘server assistant’ meaning I was trusted with the task of making sure that the guests’ water glasses were never more than half-empty, doing the bread and water presentations (yes,¬†presentations), and if lucky, I got to help bring out plates and clear them. I’m telling you, this place is high-class if a college-educated girl isn’t even allowed to clear the plates without supervision.

IMG_5607¬†Each month at Dewz, the servers are required to come to the restaurant in the morning to taste the new dishes and be tested on the ingredients and description of each dish. That’s why they are so knowledgeable, and what makes the restaurant so classy. The first time I heard one of the servers describe a dish to a customer, I almost started drooling right there.

In fact… I remember what he was describing. It was a monologue that will live in my mind forever, until the day I get to taste the dish. (Server assistants did NOT get to do monthly tastings) He was describing the ‘Bleu Cheese Encrusted Steak’ and I kid you not, I have been dying to taste it to this day.

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“Well, why hasn’t Joey taken you there??” you may wonder. It’s not his fault. He has offered to take me there countless times- but I always want to go somewhere else. See, we went there for dessert one time and it was amazing, BUT it wasn’t the ultimate fine-dining experience I dreamed about because¬†I knew everything about the restaurant.¬†Part of the magic of a fabulous dining experience is that you are clueless to the ‘behind the scenes’ action. Knowing the in’s and out’s of the restaurant just dulls the shine a bit.

But back to the steak.

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I remember watching those cheese crusted steaks going out to the dining room and thinking, SOMEDAY I am going to order that. I even remember clearing the plates and dabbling with the idea of inhaling someone’s leftovers. (Ew, that moment of insanity passed, Hep C no thank you) but people, I’m telling you it smelled THAT good.

So a few nights ago, I decided to try to make it myself. Joey is one of the best steak guys out there, and I figured he could help me recreate the magic.

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He totally did. Dewz, I still want to try your steak, but my husband does a pretty darn good job of spoiling me with fine dining right here at home.

Tofu, get outtttta heeere.

~M

Bleu Cheese Crusted Steak

serves 2

adapted from Food Network

Ingredients
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles

2 tsp fine herbs

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 tsp olive oil, plus 1 TBSP

salt & pepper for seasoning

2 steaks (filet mignon or ribeye is great!)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil; set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine bleu cheese, bread crumbs, herbs, and 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil; set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large saute pan and heat over medium-high heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper and to add pan, but do not crowd. Sear 1 to 2 minutes per side just to brown. Remove pan from heat and transfer steaks onto prepared baking sheet.

Top each steak with 1/4 of blue cheese mixture. Finish cooking steaks in preheated oven for 4 minutes for medium-rare, 6 minutes for medium, and 8 minutes for well done.

Enjoy with a glass of red wine, fresh green beans, and some crusty, buttery bread!

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It’s not cheating, ‘cuz I like steak.

Yep, I’m talking about TOFU.

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I am a proud wife of a dairyman, and¬†still¬†like tofu. Is that against the rules?? I hope not- I like to think that because I still eat my fair share of red meat and milk, loving tofu isn’t cheating. Tofu is one of those funky sounding things that people (like me) usually avoid eating solely because the word ‘tofu’ just sounds weird. Why have ‘ugh, tofu’ when you could have filet mignon?? Actually, that’s a bad example. I would hope that you would¬†always choose a filet over tofu. That being said, tofu can be quite good too.

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I bought a big tub of spinach last time I went grocery shopping, and challenged myself to use it all up before any of it could spoil. I used to go through spinach like a wildwoman! Spinach smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch, and another salad alongside dinner- then I must have hit ‘spinach overload’ because spinach didn’t make it into the grocery cart for quite some time. I think I’m back to loving spinach again- it’s a roller coaster, people.

Anyways, I was making myself a salad with this spinach last week and was looking for a protein to mix in for staying power. Deli meat, eh. Nah. Leftover chicken sausage? Possibly. Tofu… Ok, I’m feeling adventurous and Gabby is napping- I’ll try it.

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I just blackened the pressed tofu with a little cooking spray, and then tossed it with some teriyaki sauce to get that good flavor all soaked up- that’s what I love about tofu! It absorbs pretty much whatever flavor you choose to toss it with- making it deliciously versatile.

In my HUGE salad: teriyaki glazed tofu, spinach, fiber one cereal (for some crunch) cucumbers, sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, salsa yogurt ranch dressing. BOMB SALAD.

I won’t lie, though. Tofu is no replacement for a good steak.

Still, it’s not cheating!

~M

In the mood for some Gabby-lovin? I always am.

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Streeeetch!

Streeeetch!

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Chiles Rellenos

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Well, I think K has a darn good reason (or many darn good reasons) for being slightly more absent from the blog, don’t you? That girl is one of the most hard-working and positive people I know- I was surprised she wrote that post (even after I begged her to) because she hates to sound like she’s complaining about being busy. Bless her busy heart.

Well, while I get total control of the blog for now, (muhaha) I need to share with you a fantastically easy-but-hard-sounding dinner idea for you.

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It’s been a family tradition of my in-laws to go to a Mexican restaurant in town on Saturday nights. They are impressive- they even order their entrees in espanol! Not going to lie, I always get a little anxious ordering in a different language- one time I tried to order a salad (‘ensalada’) and they brought me ENCHILADAS. Eh, enchiladas were probably better than a salad anyway.

My own parents also love this restaurant and convinced Joey to start ordering the chile rellenos- I was surprised he agreed to try it because there’s no meat in this dish! Nevertheless, he tried it and gets it everytime now…which means…

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…it was only a matter of time before he asked me to attempt to recreate it at home.

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If I can’t even pronounce the simplest menu items from a restaurant, I’m not sure this is going to end well for anyone.

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One chill pill later, I found out that it’s super easy and has a surprisingly short ingredient list.

I used this method and recipe!¬†The only thing I would change would be to dip the entire chile into the batter and completely coat it first- not coat it one side at a time as their recipe suggests. I found that method to be quite frustrating. Also, I used Anaheim peppers- for those of you who don’t ‘do’ spicy food,¬†I am one of you!¬†Most mild salsas are all I can handle- but this pepper, after being roasted, skinned, stuffed with cheese and fried, is just right. ( after reading that list, what’s NOT to like??)

Bon Apetit! ¬†I mean… buen provecho!

~M

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Quick K Update

I have to extend a huge thank you to my co-blogger, M, for keeping this blog going lately. I have been absent far more than I want to be, and far busier than I want to be as well.

I just thought I’d give ya’ll a little run-down of what I’ve been up to lately and I’ll tell ya right now- cooking is not it. Haha, sorry, I wish it was, but our meals have been downright boring lately!

I am very nearly finished with my ‘Junior’ year of my major, which is social work in the Child Welfare department. I can hardly describe how much I am loving it! Finally discovering my passion in life and deciding what I want to do with that passion has been quite a journey for me. I mean, come on- I’m almost 26 years old and I’ll be starting my ‘senior’ year of college soon. All the ‘ thingies are because I have enough college credits to be a junior for the second time. And none of them add up to a major that I can graduate with!

Anyways.¬†Here’s what’s going on.

Senior year I only have to take 2 classes on campus and I am also doing an internship. All social work majors must do an internship, and for those of us who work and attend school, we now have to find a way to squeeze in 16 hours a week of an internship at a social services agency. I was extremely blessed to have been selected (after a rigorous application process,an interview by five social work professors and possible employers, and a two week waiting period) for a Title IV-E Stipend Program! What this program means is I will receive a $15,000 scholarship to pay for school and living expenses during my internship and then am required to work for Child Welfare Services for a year after I graduate. Basically, school is paid for, I don’t have to work quite¬†as much, I don’t need a second job, and I will most likely have a job when I graduate, because the rate of agencies hiring on Stipend interns is about 98%.¬†God is so good!!!! Seriously people, when I got my acceptance letter I literally jumped around the living room screaming and crying for like five minutes before curling up into a ball on the floor with my letter crumpled in my hand. I think there may have been some shock. And I think I scared poor Jasper.

Now that the shock has worn off a little, I have started an interview process with a few different agencies to see where I fit best for my internship next year! Along with this exciting and busy time of deciding internships there is the normal amount of homework still needing to be done for all my classes….let’s just say I’m pooped, and can’t wait for summer! So, for now, I am going to continue to rely on my wonderful sister to entertain you all and squeeze myself in whenever I can!!

~K

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“Yours is the Kingdom”

Yesterday around noon, Joey came in for his lunch break and immediately turned on the TV. He said he had heard on the radio that there were explosions at the finish line of the Boston marathon, but no one really knew anything yet because it happened about 15 minutes ago.

I watched the news all afternoon, and my heart is broken for the people whose lives are forever changed now after this cowardly act of terrorism. What was supposed to be a day of witnessing incredible feats of athleticism and the triumph of the human spirit turned into one filled with grief, sadness, and fear.

My heart is broken for the marathoners, for those who traveled from all over the world for this race only to be met by this awful act. For the people on the sidelines cheering on the runners who had come from all corners of the earth. For the families in Boston who no longer feel safe. For the victims’ families. For those who lost limbs, and are critically injured.

Being somewhat of a runner, I always look forward to hearing about the Boston marathon and what the finishing times are for the winners and watching the victorious faces of those who cross that finish line- I can only imagine what it must have been like for the Bostonians who celebrate Patriot’s Day every year and now will embrace this day with memories of sadness and heartbreak.

While there is anger, heartache, and that big question, “WHY?”- many have pointed out that we can be grateful for the spirit of America. Coming together when the going gets tough- banding together in the face of adversity. Many people, instead of running away from the explosions (completely natural response) ran¬†towards the chaos to help those in dire need. After running¬†26.2 miles,¬†there were marathon finishers who were helping the victims.¬†There were reports of runners finishing the race and running to the hospital to donate blood for the victims. First responders, firemen, police officers, medical personnel and bystanders rallied together to save many lives.

That kind of strength only comes from one place.

Isaiah 40:31¬†‘but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Today will be a hard day for many people- dealing with the aftermath of the attack and what it has done to many people, both physically and mentally.

I struggled with knowing what to even start praying for, and thankfully- Jesus gives us those words when we can’t come up with them ourselves.

Matthew 6:9-13

“Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. 
Thy will be done in earth, 
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
But deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen.”

Boston, our thoughts and prayers are with you…

~M

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