Sunday’s Superbowl Snippets

Yesterday was a very sad day for Patriots football fans everwhere.

(but a very GOOD day for Giants fans… 😉 )

I think the poor men folk are still recovering.

At least there was plenty of good food around.

(and that’s just the appetizer table!)

Never mind the chili, meatballs, chicken, baked beans, etc.

And Nicole’s baked onion rings, which I am hopelessly addicted to!

I’m obsessed!

Seriously.  Nicole knows by now to just place the onion ring platter right in front of me.  It’s a little ridiculous how much I love these things.

As for the game?  Well.  I wish I could partake in all the superbowl excitement, but honestly, I’m more excited about seeing everyone, eating good food and playing with a certain cat named Stitch.

I did get into the game a little bit though.

I mean.

I didn’t end up pulling out the Real Simple magazines that I had toted along just in case the game got boring.  The game was so close, I didn’t even have a chance to get bored.  Maybe I have an inner football fan somewhere, trying to get out.  Maybe. 😉

Time for me to get to work after a long (fun) weekend!!!

QUESTION: Did you watch the superbowl last night?  Are you a sports fan?

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a (healthier) bowl of chicken soup.

This is Part 20 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

You want to know what I’m loving right now?

Morning light.

There’s just something about it.

If I wake up with the sun falling on my face, the day has already proven itself to be a very, very good day.

This morning, I woke up to 3 inches of freshly fallen snow on the ground.

It was glorious.

My inner 6 year old peeked her head out, and I immediately threw on my down jacket, pulled on my Uggs and set out to claim the ground as mine.

(Although it looks like someone–something?–else may have had the same idea.)

Morning light.

Isn’t it beautiful?

You want to know what else I’m loving?

Making a healthy bowl of chicken soup even healthier…

…slicing big hunks of homemade wheat bread…

…and then enjoying a delicious lunch with Pepere.

When it’s cold and snowy outside, all I want is chicken soup.

This recipe carries the traditional bites of chicken, potato and carrot.  But then some other ingredients come along for the ride.

Like zucchini.

And spinach.

And tomatoes.

Even barley and beans joined in on the fun.

I finished lunch off with a cozy cup of chocolate mint tea.

And then watched “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” in the den with Pepere.

With the morning sun still lingering on…

an ode to a lovely day.

   

Rustic Chicken Minestrone–modified from an original Martha Stewart Recipe

You could follow this recipe or you could just add plenty of extra veggies to your current favorite chicken soup recipe.  Adding vegetables to favorite dishes is one of the easiest ways to enhance your health on a daily basis.  Throw some steamed broccoli into your mac ‘n’ cheese.  Add some spinach to your omelette.  Keep things fresh, lively and fun!! 😀

Oh, and, as always, this soup will taste even more delicious the following day.  Enjoy!

  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, garlic (or regular)
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup barley
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch kale or spinach
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place cleaned chicken into a large dutch oven or kettle.  Add enough water to completely cover chicken and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer for 40-60 minutes or until chicken is registered at 165.  Remove chicken, strain and reserve liquid.  Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and place meat in a separate bowl for later.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat oil over medium high.  Add onion and cook until softened, 8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes with juice and cook until liquid is evaporated, 4 minutes.  Add reserved broth and bring to a boil.  Add potatoes, barley, carrots, and parmesan cheese, cooking for 5 minutes.  Add kale or spinach, zucchini and chickpeas, cooking until zucchini is crisp-tender, 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in chicken and cook until warmed through, 1-2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Beer Baked Beans.

This is Part XIV of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

You know, I’ve seen some people add beer to their baked beans,” I yelled to dad from where I was standing in the kitchen, stirring away at a pot of simmering beans.

I’m not entirely sure if I was just commenting on some random fact or if I was looking for approval from an outside source.  Or, maybe, I was just looking for someone else who I could put the blame on if things didn’t quite pan out. 😉

I waited.  Wondering.

“I’m up for trying it!” Dad shouted back from den.  

That’s just like Dad.  He’s always up for trying “it.”  A ridiculously hot chili pepper in (any) soup.  A pizza stone in a 500 degree oven.  Beer in baked beans.  He is quite often the convincing vote to my indecisive nature.

A while back, I posted one of my most favorite recipes from my Memere’s kitchen.

Baked Beans.

I could eat bowls and bowls of it, along with big hunks of homemade bread.  If you looked up comfort food in my own personal dictionary, this is what you’d find.

And then Samantha (aka, the author of Bikini Birthday) had the brilliant idea of adding whiskey to the recipe.

The idea was a brilliant one and I wanted to copy her creativity immediately.

Only I didn’t have whiskey, so I added a bottle of beer.  It added just the right touch of flavor and sweetness, and it totally complemented Memere’s recipe.  

Being Saturday and all, I wanted to keep this healthy living recipe simple and soulful.  And baked beans are one of the best things you can make on some lazy Saturday afternoon.  They do take a while to come together, but that’s all oven time.

Which means you are free to browse Pinterest or read or tag a friend on facebook.

Or browse through home good stores with your sistah…

…contemplating whether you have just enough money to purchase a new soup bowl or that jar of half-priced peanut butter…

..(the peanut butter almost always wins)

…or you could spend your afternoon at the ‘bucks, sipping on a hot soy mocha latte…

…(or you could be like me and do all of the above, since that’s what Saturdays are made for!)…

Well.  Whatever it is that you decide to do, I guarentee you that your house will smell amazing once you return.

And then you can indulge in a bowl of deliciously nutritious baked beans for dinner, making you feel as if your lazy Saturday afternoon was totally productive after all. 😉

Beer Baked Beans

I recommend doubling this recipe, as leftovers are great to have on hand.  They freeze well too!

I like to serve this with a side of hearty bread.  Or a side of buckwheat pancakes and a bowl of sauteed collard greens, which is equally delicious and fun.  Enjoy!

  • 2 c. navy beans
  • 1-2 onions, finely diced
  • 3 T. molasses
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 bottle of beer
  1. Soak beans overnight in cold water.  Simmer beans in same water until tender, approximately 1 to 2 hrs.  Drain and reserve liquid. (keep in mind that you don’t want the beans sooo tender that they’re falling apart on you…they should be a little firm)
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  3. Arrange the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish and top with onions.
  4. In a saucepan, combine rest of ingredients.  Bring mixture to a bowl and pour over beans.  Pour in 1/2 bottle of beer and just enough of the reserved bean water to cover the beans.  Stir gently with rubber spatula and cover dish with lid or aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 3 to 4 hrs in preheated oven.  Stir occasionally.
  6. ENJOY! :D
    QUESTION: Describe your perfect weekend…

Christmas Reflections (and a GIVEAWAY)

I didn’t take very many pictures this Christmas.

Mostly, I just ate a lot of good food.  I laughed a lot.  I took a bite or two (or three) of every single dessert (we have a family of wonderful bakers.)  I hugged, I remembered, I enjoyed.  And I savored every moment of food, family and faith.

Christmas embraces a lot of memories for me and I didn’t want to miss a second of anything.

I quite simply allowed myself to not be in charge of anything.  Instead, I jumped head first into savoring each delicious moment.

It felt absolutely wonderful.

(That would be me, my stocking, and a bag of Godiva Truffles on Christmas morning…I may have acted just a tad over-excited about this. 😉  )

I did, however, help prepare some things on Christmas Eve, when the family came over for dinner.  I also made some pecan bars and baked up some gluten-free/vegan cookies which turned out quite good, if I say so myself. 😉

Recipe here: Veganomicon’s Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

After one too many of those…

…and this French-Canadian meat pie (homemade by my cousin Melissa)…

…and Nicole’s lemon cake…

…and these…

…I’m feeling a little like an overstuffed French toast.

Thank goodness I have a fridge full of healthier snacks to get my digestive system back in working order. 😉

And thank goodness (for you!) there are some very generous people over at Chobani who want to share THREE tubs of their new 32-OZ containers (0%, 2% and vanilla) with one lucky reader.  Note: It’s only open to US readers and Canada readers (except for the vanilla, which isn’t yet offered there, but they’ll send you two big tubs of their plain…the 2% is by far my favorite!!!)

All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know what your favorite part about this weekend was and you’re in the running.  I’ll let you know who the winner is on Thursday morning. 😀

To Enter The Chobani Giveaway: Tell me what the best part of your weekend was…winner will be announced Thursday morning!

Road Trip (to Hartford, CT.)

Road Trip!

Destination?  Hartford, CT.

My grandparents lived there for a little over a decade and my mom was born there.

Personally, I’ve never been to this part of New England, but Pepere, my dad, my mom and I have been talking about reliving this part of history, ever since our summer’s road trip to Canada.

First Stop: the hospital where my mom was born.

(Pepere joked that he was going to demand a refund.  😉  )

We visited the capitol building.

We drove around downtown Hartford.

And did a little bit of walking here and there.

On the way home, we stopped at Cabela Outfitters, which is this huge hunting & fishing store.

The menfolk were drawn in by the guns.

And the very awesome cowboy hats. 😉

I was more interested in the ginormous “stuffed animal” display.

Truthfully, I can’t stand most zoos (although there are some good ones out there!!) and the sight of stuffed animals makes me a bit queasy.

But this was a really interesting display.  It was great to see the size comparisons and to learn a little bit more about each of the many different animals.

Oh.

And there was one live animal.

This massive fish.  But he didn’t seem at all happy to be having his picture taken. 😉

Four travelers.

One smart GPS.

Several destinations, six turkey finger roll sandwiches, one memory-filled family road trip.

The End.

QUESTION: Do you live close to where you grew up?  Did you move a lot?

Christmas Shopping.

As of this morning…

…Christmas shopping COMPLETE! :mrgreen:

I spent a very full day at the mall yesterday, with Nicole and Mom, but found absolutely nothing (except some basic essential stuff for me…how does this always happen?)

So, this morning I went online and finished the rest of my Christmas shopping within 5 minutes (I love modern technology!)

I’m not gonna lie.

I feel pretty darn proud of myself.

Especially considering the fact that I’m usually that last minute girl who’s scrambling around on Christmas Eve, trying to find the “perfect” gift.  It’s a sad state and I promised myself that this wouldn’t become me this year.

So I decided to just have fun during yesterday’s trip.

No big purchases.

No last minute scrambling.

All of a suddenly, I experienced the known joy of a non-procastinator.  Don’t smirk or laugh.  This a completely new feeling for me. 😉

So.

Yes.

I found myself in this happy non-procastinator state of mind and just enjoyed the day.  Shopping with two lovely ladies.  Walking around the mall.  Dining at the Cheesecake Factory (thanks, mom!)

I ordered the Mexican Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos off the Lunch Menu.

And helped myself to their deliciously hot and crispy sweet bread.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’d order the lettuce wraps again.  They were good but I would have doctored them a little.  They needed some cheese.  And rice.  And beans.  The avocado and spicy fresh salsa were nice touches, but not enough to make me swoon with delight. 😉

Still tasty though, and they still hit the spot.

Favorite dining companions.

Before heading home, we finished off the day at Red Mango.

I ordered a small vanilla with blueberries, pineapple and strawberries (amazing.)

(Thanks, Nicole!)

So.

I guess you could call it an unsuccessful shopping trip, since I didn’t buy anything.

Or.

You could call it very successful.  Because I spent the day with two lovely ladies, ate at the Cheesecake Factory, ate my fill of frozen yogurt (and a peppermint mocha latte at the ‘bucks) and then completed my Christmas shopping this morning.

Yep.

I’d call that successful.

QUESTION: Are you a last minute shopper for gifts or do you plan ahead?  This is totally new for me to plan ahead, but I’m liking it.  I was actually able to put some thought into each gift instead of freaking out at the very last minute. 😉