Jump In + Greek Yogurt with Warm Black and Blueberry Sauce

I wanted to mix up my cardio a little bit today(don’t worry – I did my 5k+ run), and ventured into the gym to jump rope.

I broke out my Crossfit timer app for this one. I was foolish enough to leave it on the setting I used in a previous workout. 12 rounds of 50 seconds of work + 10 seconds of rest. That was a brutal jump rope workout. Let me advise you that 50 seconds is a really long time to go maximum effort with a jump rope. I’m a pretty good jumper, but the time was just crawling. I’d suggest 30 or 45 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest. The beeper on the app was nice and loud so I could hear it in the gym. I’m sure everyone in the near vicinity appreciated that! :)

Next time I want to jump rope, I’m going to plan to wear pigtails!!!

By the way, I totally have a goal to learn to do double unders. Predictably, I just finished watching several You Tube video tutorials - here’s the best one!

I had a student try to teach how to do them last year when I taught high school P.E., but I never quite got it!! They did teach me to do the criss-crossy jump thing. You can’t say I’m not teachable!!! By the way, I could school them all in an endurance jumping competition… and the mile run. ;)

I had kind of a small lunch today so I made a smoothie for dessert/afternoon snack. Do you like my funky office refrigerator smell blocker? Haha. Unfortunately, this TOTALLY upset my stomach while I was working out today. Should have just drunk it right away when I made it. I was rewarding myself for surviving the office till 3PM, and I got punished for it!! Haha.

You were just waiting for the zucchini to show up, right? I had planned to make it into noodle-less lasagna, but I had to downsize to a ramekin since my zucchinis were so mini. I used the same recipe as the Turkey Spinach Mini Lasagnas with exception of swapping noodles for thinly sliced zucchini.

I really didn’t slice it thinly enough. I’m not too handy with a knife. I think it would’ve been a lot better if I had done it correctly because the result was some pretty crunchy zucchini. I really enjoyed this dish even with the zucchini substitute, but I’m not going to lie – I missed the noodles. I love you, carbalicious pasta!! Kevin got the normal one. I pick and choose when to torture him with nutrition.

Greek Yogurt with Warm Black and Blueberry Sauce (adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 2/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2/3 cup frozen blackberries (we had fresh – yay!)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Truvia or sweetener of your choice to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt

Preparation

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; gently boil 10 minutes or until sauce thickens.

2. Spoon 1/2 cup yogurt into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1/4 cup sauce. Serve immediately.

Can you do double unders? I’m so jealous. I learned a lot of tips from that video so I’m eager to try again.

What’s your favorite kind of berry? Blackberries are my fave.

Thanks for all the well wishing on the interview tomorrow. I’ve put myself in the mindset that it’s a warm-up, but maybe I’ll surprise myself and really want the job after seeing the little school. :)

Jailbreak & Skinny Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

I don’t know about you, but I am really struggling with getting back into the swing after my awesome best first married Christmas vacation!!! Today particularly was not looking too bright since it’s the first real full week back at work. You’ll never believe how I made the best of it. Actually, you will because you read my blog.

To add insult to injury, I didn’t get to go home for lunch today because Kevin had a meeting over lunch. Boo. But then…. a plan formed in my mind to jailbreak out of that place and get some exercise in!

And the weather cooperated!! I power walked/jogged it in half work/half workout attire. I can’t quite bring myself to be like the real business power walkers who wear running shoes with their regular outfit. I did a quick change into yoga pants!

I picked up the little rascal along the way.

My lunchtime quickie workout: 2.67 miles power walked/jogged + 12 flights of stairs.

I was okay until I hit the stairs. Those left me a little sweaty!! Of course, I had to run into my boss’s boss in the break room right after I changed into my work clothes. He was trying to make small talk with me and my face was just sweating profusely. I know it had to have looked like I was afraid to make eye contact, but I was just trying to angle my sweaty face away from him!! And I am just so bad at small talk anyways. Why talk when you could both just stand there and wait for the microwaves to beep? Haha.

Gym workout: 4.31 miles @ 9:31 pace while watching Jeopardy! (the cute Dan won again!!) and 1.69 miles @ 7:29 pace. I ate a tiny little piece of toast before the gym. That was a mistake. I thought the blandest of foods wouldn’t bother my stomach. Wrong. I need to eat at least an hour before the gym.

Dinner was repeat!

Shepherd’s Pie from Clean Eating magazine

I think it tasted more delicious because I prepared the whole thing last night, and all I had to do tonight after the gym was stick in the oven. That was awesome.

Just so you can see all the layers. This time I didn’t have any green beans, but I just used all the vegetables in the crisper.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake is one of those desserts you can generally make from what you have in your pantry! Of course, I had to try to make a lighter version… in ramekins. Hello, portion control!

I even had maraschino cherries leftover from the White Chocolate Cherry Almond  Cookies!

Skinny Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes (adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny)

1 egg
1/4 cup skim milk
3 Tbsp butter, melted (I used Melt)
Dash of vanilla
1/2 cup flour
Your choice of sweetener (I used agave nectar)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 can of crushed pineapple
Pinch of salt
**Confectioners’ sugar and cherries optional as garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brush cupcake pan with butter and sprinkle brown sugar in the bottom of each cup along with a bit of crushed pineapple.  Whisk egg, buttermilk, melted butter and a dash of vanilla in a bowl.  Stir in flour, sweetener, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt.  Divide mixture into each of the cups.  Bake for 20 minutes and let cool.  Unmold the mini cakes and top with additional pineapple, cherries and a bit of confectioners’ sugar.  Enjoy!

Do you ever squeeze in workouts over lunch? I would’ve been happier full out running because the weather was so glorious, but I was trying to keep my sweating under control. I saw a LOT of walkers in the park.

What food have you found that doesn’t bother your stomach before exercise? I really try to plan ahead, I really do. But what’s a girl to do if she is STARVING and about to hit the gym for an hour +?

A bonus: What Friends episode does the shepherd’s pie remind you of?

It tastes like feet!

 

 

 

The Endless Uphill + Blackberries & Cream Mini Desserts

My abs were tingly today after yesterday’s Sports Training class! I love to feel it the next day, but tomorrow morning is my meeting with the gym’s personal trainer. I want to be fresh as a daisy so I don’t look like a slacker so I decided I should take it easy on today’s workout.

That all went out the window when I read this article: How Real Runners Train on Treadmills. I wanted to do the Kara Goucher workout featured, but I didn’t have time for 6 miles. So I went ahead and selected the Endless Uphill for today’s fun & games!

I somehow managed to convince Kevin James that I needed another item of pink Nike apparel. I loved this top, but after my workout the shoulder band things were kind of rubbing me the wrong way. I hope that doesn’t continue.

Back to today’s workout: 3.40 miles in 30 minutes @ 4.0 incline – 8:49 pace. That was tough!! Now I’m afraid I’m going to be really sore tomorrow!! I thought this was fascinating:

Sorry, but this workout isn’t only for those prepping for grinds like Mount Washington. Kenyan Moses Tanui included a 22K constant climb during his training for his two Boston Marathon wins. By swapping some speed for incline, you increase the number and type of muscle fibers recruited and, therefore, improve more over the same effort on the flat.

Dinner tonight was boring spaghetti. Kevin James loves the boring meals the most. I thought we had agreed on this sweet potato gnocchi recipe I found (will appear later – I’m sure!), but when I picked up a sweet potato in Sooper’s, Kevin about had a heart attack. Ahhh.. miscommunication. I had offered spaghetti as a totally flippant suggestion since I never really carry through on making the boring three: pizza, tacos, and spaghetti. I do love them. They’re just not that fun to cook. Of course, it tasted delicious. I made it with lean turkey and a bunch of fresh spinach! I can’t even tell you how much spinach we have been going through lately ever since I decided to put it in EVERYTHING. It’s like the best way ever to sneak in vegetables!

I made something similar to this last summer with blueberries so when I saw a few extra blackberries in the fridge, I came up with this stellar idea.

  • Fill ramekin with nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Stir in some Truvia (or sweetener of your choice)
  • Add 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • Top with your favorite berries  — or peaches!
  • Sprinkle brown sugar on top
  • Broil for a few minutes!

I actually had time to whip these beauties up during our little lunch break!!

Can I tell you something heartbreaking? So I’m really not a Lululemon convert (too poor!), but this afternoon I noticed they had some new arrivals. They finally made something it BEAUTIFUL HOT PINK instead of their usual yucky purple. These pants were not there last night, but they have already sold out in every single size. Seriously! I was on their site last night, and they weren’t out yet! So disappointing. Those would be the perfect pants for all the group workout classes we’re doing these days. I can be the Girl in the Pink Pants. Probably the Crazy Girl in the Pink Pants.

What’s your favorite color to wear working out (or for life)? I really like to wear pink. Although black is a lot more flattering. For life, I like pink, leopard, and orange. Leopard counts as a color right now, right???

What your favorite of the Boring Three: Pizza, tacos, or spaghetti? Gotta say pizza. I love pizza. More than anything except french fries. Just keeping it real. Tomorrow is a huge day for me. Personal trainer @ 5:30, work, work, work, and then date night!!! We’re going shoppppppping! I’m so excited.

Tortellin with Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomatoes + One Sweet Saturday

Oh man! it’s totally been one of those weekends where I’ve been having way too much fun and way too little time to blog about it! :)

My Saturday started out with a little of THIS:

We are so hard core! We went to a Group Power class at our new gym. Similar to Body Pump. I called i the generic version of Body Pump. I’m only assuming that Body Pump is the original because that’s what all my favorite bloggers love. It was super fun! We really enjoyed it. All the equipment was definitely intimidating for me. I’m sooo not a weights person. In fact, I did end up changing my weights during the entire workout. You were supposed to add/take away for different songs working different body parts, but I just stuck with my 10’s! We’re excited because it’s a class that we can both enjoy and really grow into. I can’t wait to be the tough girl over by the left mirror!!!!! :)

Immediately after our class, the Zumba people started invading. It was like this colorful flock descending upon us! We couldn’t get our weights out of the way fast enough for them to start their cha-cha-chas! I couldn’t resist joining in for a song or two. It was super easy for me to pick up on beause it’s honestly so similar to the Dominican aerobicos! It’s just white people who can’t shake it quite as well! :)

Simplest recipe ever! My runny buddy, Brooke came over and we hit the streets covering 4.0 miles together. It was so fun because we talked our little heads of. Brooke has this theory that if you talk a lot during training, you’ll do really well during a race because you won’t be talking and using up your lung power that way. It’s GENIUS. I love it. Plus we didn’t even notice the first 2.5 miles!! Amazing!

After we cleaned up, we headed to the kitchen to make dinner for our men who were both hitting the books all day (Kevin for his MBA, while her husband is in med school).

Tortellini with Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 packages (9 ounces each) BUITONI Refrigerated Three Cheese Tortellini
1/2 cup BUITONI Refrigerated All Natural Pesto with Basil
1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) BUITONI Refrigerated Freshly Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 bunch basil, chopped

Directions

PREPARE pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta. Toss with pesto, cheese, tomatoes and basil. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Told you it was easy! Almost ridiculously so! I usually never buy tortellini because it seems so expensive, but when Brooke mentioned it, I was all for it! Now I’m curious if I could make it homemade! Of course I am! :)

Our cute little table. We served broccoli & super buttery/garlicky/delicious bread on the side!

For dessert, I was dying to try this recipe for mini chocolate cakes baked in ramekins & stacked in towers. ours didn’t turn out as gorgeous as they were on Pinterest, but they sure tasted good.

We had such a sweet time with our friends. We both told our “how we met” stories, and I grilled her husband about his marathons. I can’t resist. He recently ran a 3:16. Of course, I’m impressed! Brooke & I have plans to run a half together in the spring, and then maybeeeeee…. just maybeeee….. we’ll seeeee! :)

I had such a long week with Kevin gone & a sick Boyd that I (totally accidentally) did this allllll afternoon:

Totally missed my gym time, but I squeezed in 3.60 miles in 32 minutes after our Marriage + class. My body was so sore from all the upper body work in Group Power that it hurt to like pump my arms. Such a weird feeling!

Ready to dive into the big 2-day work week??? Wooohoo!!! I’m off to go Google more Thanksgiving recipes for both sides. I’m sooo excited! For the food AND the family! :)

 

Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding in Ramekins + Pinhole Press

How I missed my ramekins!! I came up with the perfect compromise last night! My favorite dessert is my madre’s bread pudding. Kevin loves apple crisp. A lot. That’s right, I remixed them together.

I diced up one Honeycrisp apple (that’s where the awesome Honeybear sticker came from!) and divided it among four ramekins. On top of that I put the oldest, nastiest bread I had. I just ripped it up and stuffed it on top. A quick Google of my blog reveals that bread was from SEPTEMBER 21, the day I made some super gross French toast, but there was no mold!! However, I didn’t even have to toast the bread. It was that hard.

Next, I mixed in some raisins. I whisked together two eggs and approximately a quarter cup of skim milk and poured it over apple/bread combo. We finish by drenching the whole thing in cinnamon & brown sugar. Yum.

Ahhh… I was so happy to be in the elevator ALONE! I hate riding in elevators crowded with strangers. I’m far from claustrophobic… I’m just shy. And why don’t people have the decency to look distracted by their smartphones? Instead they make idle chatter about the weather or stopping at every floor. Blah, blah, blah! :)

Snacking at my desk wasn’t so simple. I’ve told you guys before that my desk is in an EXTREMELY VISIBLE area. In fact, someone visiting the building the other day was championing for me that they need to give me an actual cube. Being a hallway dweller is actually worse than being a cube dweller. I promise! I just needed a snack! But it was so noticeably crunchy that I had to eat it super slow. Maybe I should’ve just licked out my garlic Sabra hummus. You know I wanted to! :)

Speaking of salty snacks…

This article from Fit Sugar broke my little heart… What 100 Calories Really Looks Like: Salty Snacks

I always feel so well-behaved because I rarely give in to sweets, but salts have their consequences too! I could fit more chips than that it my little fist! Haha.

I got some VERY EXCITING MAIL. My wedding thank yous from Pinhole Press! They are stunning. I love them so much I want to thank myself. Lol. I want to show you, but 10 out of my 12 readers were at our wedding so they’ll be getting one in the mail. Later!

Last day without internet! I’ve been hanging out in the clubhouse again so I can plan recipes for all the baking I have to do this weekend. It’s LOADS of baking. Very festive fall baking. Be excited.

Also, I bought Kevin’s first gift for the Advent mini-gift chain!  Only 3 left to find! So fun!

More Ramekins

*Mini Apple Crisps

*Healthy Greek Yogurt + Blueberries Broiled Dessert

*I want to try this —> Carrot Cake Minis. Her colorful ramekins rock! I think I’m going to start collecting them! I need some bigger ones too!

 

 

Cakes Made With Love: Our DIY Wedding Cake Table

Cake, I love you! I never once considered buying a cake from a bakery! Even if it was in our budget (which it totally wasn’t), we considered it to be just another way we included family and community in our celebration. Every cake was made my someone special (or me), and most of the cakes & candy choices were inspired by family and friends.


One of my best friends, Deidre, contributed two of her famous chocolate cakes! I believe she first made this cake for her husband’s birthday party, and we all raved about it for days. (You can find the recipe for Chocolate Cavity Maker Cake on AllRecipes.)

The cake platters and candy dishes were all borrowed and inherited from family members. We served angel food cake in honor of my parents’ wedding cake, and my Aunt Toni baked our favorite carrot cake ever! It was the first birthday cake I ever made for Kevin, and we are crazy about it!

My goal was to have tons and tons of cake and candy, enough to last into the dance hour! My pet peeve is running out of cake at weddings or offering only a tiny sliver at birthday parties. I wanted people to have a chance to try a few flavors and go back for seconds! Kevin and I even took a whole box of cake on our honeymoon!

We also had funfetti, chocolate, strawberry, white, and another special kind of chocolate made by my friend (and bridesmaid, Amy).

The mini cake bunting was all crafted by my sister-in-law, Lisa.

Orange slices for my BRE!

Gummies for my cutie nephews! I also had circus peanuts because it’s a little inside joke with my dad! :) I wanted to have Jelly Bellies for Joe, but at the last second I didn’t find them at the store. I’m sure he was okay with the 50 other choices!

Our moms stepped in to help us serve the cake to our guests. I was inspired by a post on A Practical Wedding to use serving the wedding cake as our first act of hospitality as a couple. It also served as our receiving line, giving us another chance to interact with our family and friends. I am thrilled that we totally achieved our goal of spending time with everyone at our wedding – one of the reasons we stayed firm to our 100-person guest list.

It was so much fun! I hated having to encourage our guests to move along, but people were waiting for cake!!!  :) And I know how I feel when I’m waiting for cake!

Hugging it out with our fabulous host & hostess! (I set them up, by the way. Seriously, I did.)

Cinderella had to step away for a moment to sneak in the photo booth with Grandma Alice! I can even run in my wedding dress!


Kevin and I did not cut the cake (or throw the bouquet or do wedding toasts), but we did share a Little Debbies Valentine treat! Kevin had been saving a few boxes in his freezer since February! Trust me, they still tasted amazing!


Looking back, I’m so happy we chose to do the wedding cake this way. We had a few stressful moments, and a ton of help (thankyouthankyouthankyou!), but it was totally worth it!

Tips for other DIY Brides:

  1. Remember, if you don’t like something, you don’t have to do it. I think cake cutting is a lose-lose situation. Either you look prissy & boring by not doing a little face smash or… you have cake on your face. And maybe your dress! Lol. It really just wasn’t our thing, and I don’t think our guests missed it at all. They were too busy coming up with for their second and third pieces of cake!
  2. Ask your friends to help. It’s hard. I still feel a little guilty about how much work I made other people do, but I know if someone asked me I’d be honored. So deal with it!
  3. Consider serving the cake with your husband and/or your mothers. It was so much fun, and it was a great receiving line option!
  4. There can NEVER be too much cake! I cannot emphasize that enough.  Yeah. I was in my kitchen making a few more cakes the day before the wedding just to be on the safe side! I just know that Kevin and I could down one cake ourselves! :)

My last wedding recap covered the wedding music we chose, and you can find all the other wedding recaps on the wedding page!

Wedding photography provided by Melissa Laska.

Caramel Apple Squares + How I Got Habanera In My Head

Caramel Apple Bars (via my baking addiction)

Ingredients
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped apple
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup of white sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture until just combined, then stir in the apples and walnuts.
3. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. In a cup or small bowl, stir together the remaining cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle over the top of the bars.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes in preheated oven; finished bars should spring back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan, and cut into squares.
5. After these cooled I drizzled them with melted Kraft Caramel Bits! Enjoy!

I promise you that my husband could live on three foods: apple crisp, chocolate chip cookies, and pizza! Tonight he wanted pizza and apple crisp, but I was able to persuade him to try them with a twist. I get bored of cooking the same things all the time! Kevin is always very suspicious of twists on his favorite foods, but they usually win him over. He admitted that he enjoyed these, that they were “amazing”, and “right up there with apple crisp.” And I quote: “I can’t take apple crisp off its pedestal.” Nerd.

While I was out on my sweet but snowy 7 miler, Kevin seriously depleted our Diet Coke supply. And the cold weather was a good excuse for a Skinny Vanilla Latte. He also finished of all the Reese’s Pieces Cookies! There about 20, I just made them yesterday, and I didn’t eat any!!!

And yeah, my husband is wearing North Face. I think he looks hott in that fleece, or trust me, it would’ve gotten shrunk in the drier by now. ;)

We also picked up some dinner and baking supplies to keep me busy in the kitchen while Kevin slaved away on his homework. I am an infamously slow walker. I have no idea why because that’s totally not my personality, and I’m not really a rose-smeller. I just kind of meander along, especially in trips from the parking garage to our apartment. This literally may be the one thing that Kevin is faster at than me so he likes to rub it in.

My husband was apparently in the mood to antagonize me today! He’s probably just bored silly from all the homework so he has to find a girl to torture. I know these things. I’m deathly afraid of the Pillsbury poppy tubes. I always make someone else open them. I hate that little pop! It’s like popping a balloon. Yuck! Kevin thought it would be cool to put me in a headlock and do it in front of my face. But I wriggled out of his grasp!

I immediately set to work on dinner & dessert. As you can see my bloody toe is now properly bandaged.

I spotted this cheese in the grocery store and knew we’d love it our little pizza. Ever since I can’t stop annoyingly humming Carmen’s Habanera. (Here’s an adorable video of a little girl playing a transcription for piano!) I’m probably going to have to listen to it 20+ times before I get it out of my head!

I got lazy with dinner. I had something totally cute in mind, but I started complaining aloud to myself that I didn’t want to make it. So Kevin James got his way with the pizza. We used the cheater Pillsbury crust and topped it with turkey pepperonis, green peppers, and the habanero cheese. My side had pineapple tidbits. It still breaks my heart that Kevin doesn’t like pineapple on pizza. I think he just can’t get over mixing things that are sweet & savory. I’ll trick him into it slowly, don’t worry. He barely even knows how to open the refrigerator after three short months of marriage! The only reason he remembers is because he has to get out the milk for our cereal in the morning because my eyes aren’t opened yet!

Favorite Starbucks drink? I’ve been totally won over by the Skinny Vanilla Latte. Otherwise it’s just a black coffee as bold as possible. I always just drink coffee at home. Yes, I’m continuing to brag about that. I’m just so proud that I trained myself to drink coffee black!! Kevin doesn’t really like anything, but he sometimes drinks my same drink. Copycat. Today he ordered a Tall, and I got his leftovers!

Slow walker or fast walker? I basically only walk quickly when I’m shopping. Clothes shopping. Not grocery shopping. I have a super slow supermercado walk!

Any ideas for entertaining me on a road trip? I am nervous about our drive to Minnesota next weekend. I like to read in cars, but I get restless unless I’m really hooked. I want to stop every hour and run a mile. That sounds fun, right?