Friday, May 15, 2015

Five Things Friday

Happy Friday! We survived another week.  Actually this week flew by for me! I have no big plans for this weekend so maybe that means my bathroom will actually get clean. Maybe.

Here is the five for Friday! 

1.   I've been following the Whole 30 diet for a little over 2 weeks now. It's.....meh. And I certainly haven't been perfect. It doesn't seem fair to have to give up chocolate AND bread AND alcohol. So I had some beer. The Whole 30 website says I am supposed to start over but screw that. I have eaten some really good salad including this one with spinach, tuna, avocado, tomatoes, and hearts of palm. I received a can of hearts of palm in my goodie bag from the Whole Foods class. I hadn't tried them previously but I really like them! #wholefoodies


2.   I went back to my hometown the other weekend to see my high school's musical.  I participated in drama every year of high school and always loved the spring musicals.  This year my cousin Shannon was in her first play -- Spamalot.  It was hilarious! And they did such a great job! 


She even got to wear some of the same outfits that I wore!


3.   The end of 2014 was so busy that I missed most of the book clubs! But I have been trying hard to make it to the meetings in 2015.  I made it to the April meeting at Jackie's house for "How to be Parisian" and many delicious French-inspired dishes.  The book wasn't my favorite but it was a really easy read and enjoyable.  I made these Carmelized Onion and Goat Cheese Crostinis which were a hit.  I think you can never go wrong with carmelized onions. 


Now if I could only get the May book from the library.  

4.  Matt has been working a lot...it's planting season. I kind of hate it. He's home tonight so I am happy  (yay for rain :) ) When he has been home he's been making good use of our tiny charcoal grill.  We don't have a gas grill at the new place so $35 at Home Depot got us this nice charcoal number.  I love the smell of charcoal and I really wish I wasn't on this stupid diet because it just makes me want to go out there and roast a marshmallow.  


5.   My grandpa celebrated his birthday on May 10!  We hoped to have a cookout at the park but it was just too chilly so we went to my grandparent's house instead.  I made him a card!

It says "A big birthday needs a big card".  ps my grandpa really likes squirrels. 
We couldn't quite fit 95 candles on his cake so instead we went with 14 because 9+5=14


I am so lucky to have this guy in my life. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Meal Prepping with Whole Foods

The other weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a blogger cooking class hosted by Katie and Whole Foods Northbrook. This class was focused on easy meal prepping and quick weeknight snacks.  So we received two recipes that were freezer-friendly and could be cooked up in a slow cooker. 

Amy and I partnered up and headed out into the store to collect our ingredients. First we hit up the produce section to grab some veggies for our stir-fry and veggie chili.  Then we moved over to the bulk section.  The bulk section at the Northbrook store is huge and puts the one at Kildeer--the Whole Foods that I shop most frequently--to shame. We picked out a grain for our stir fry and decided to try something new and went with wheat berries. I am really excited to try out a new grain. 



Plus we picked up a few spices to go with our chili. 


After weighing and labeling our ingredients we headed to the checkout. 


Before we got started with our prepping, Chef Sara showed us proper knife techniques and demonstrated the best way to cut an onion (by leaving the root on to hold your onion together)! I've been using the technique since and I love it!  


Then Amy and I got to work chopping our ingredients for our recipes.  I worked on the veggie chili while Amy prepped the stir fry.  


We made sure to save all our vegetable peels and scraps for the vegetable stock we would need for our stir fry recipe. 

Chili ingredients and veggie scraps
Once everything was chopped, we split each of our meals into two freezer bags.  Then we added the wet ingredients like canned tomatoes.


Before starting on our snack recipe, we dumped all our of veggie scraps into a big stock pot. Stock can basically cook and boil down all day long to get the most flavor in your stock.  Most times when I cook a chicken or a turkey, I will cook down the bones and skin and meat scraps into a broth with a few carrots, onions, and celery.  It is a great way to get more out of your food and broth can be used for just about anything! 

We didn't have all day to cook our veggie stock, so Sara just did a quick stock  by boiling for about 20 minutes.  All the liquid is then strained to get the flavorful broth. 

Veggie remnants
We did not leave empty-handed either.  Each participant left with a bag full of goodies; my bag included olive oil (perfect timing since I just used up an old bottle), hearts of palm, a can of salmon, and red lentils.  I have a killer salad recipe in mind for all these ingredients.


I'll make sure to share the recipes for the freezer meals when I cook them! 

Thanks so much to Katie for inviting me to this event and Chef Sara for a great class!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

27 facts

My 27th birthday was on Friday so as a fun post I am going to share 27 random facts.

1. I get great enjoyment out of using every lost drop of products especially toothpaste.  It's kind of an obsession.

2. I watched the whole first season of Girls this weekend because it was xfinity's watchathon week. It's hilarious.

3. For my birthday, Matt got me a gift he isn't giving to me until April 24. And the "event" isn't until June 4. This is greatly irritating.

4. I've already tried to google what is going on June 4.  I've had no luck.

5. My cousin and I share the same birthday, but he is 5 years older than me.

6. I was also born on the day of my cousin Jill's First Communion. She was upset that my dad, her uncle and godfather, couldn't stay for the whole day with her.

7. I finally signed up for The Skimm.  It's awesome and it's a great way to get the most important news in like 5 minutes. Plus it is there waiting for me when I get to work each day. You can sign up for it here.

8. I think recipe following is mostly optional.  Mostly because I don't have all the ingredients and I only like to go to the grocery store once a week.  So recipes get used for "inspiration" for whatever I have left in my fridge.

9. Measuring ingredients is overrated.  Of course, I measure important ingredients but most of the time I just dump things in.  It keeps the number of dishes I have to wash down.

10. In college, I slept in my jeans all the time. They are warm and I would come home from studying late at night and exhausted and not take them off. In the mornings, I sometimes would just get up and put on a new shirt and go back to classes.

11. I took my laundry home until I moved into my last apartment and got my own washer and dryer.  I hated paying a dollar every time I wanted to wash a load when it was free at my parent's.  Plus sometimes my mom would wash it for me.

12. When I got married, I dropped my old middle name and moved my maiden name to my middle name. Matt still calls me Alyssa Jo though.



13. I still sleep with a special blanket.  Matt rolls his eyes and I think he briefly tried to get me to get rid of it when he moved in but I still have it.

14. When I eat Lucky Charms (this reminds me, I haven't had any in a long time!), I save one of each marshmallow till the very end and then I eat them in order as I sing the song.  I know you know it--hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, and blue moons, pots of gold, rainbows, and me red balloons.

15. I hate maple syrup. I eat my pancakes with butter.  That's it.

16. Also jelly. It's gross. Peanut butter and bread.  Why do you need anything else on it?

17.  Matt calls me a condiment hater because of the above and because I also dislike mustard and don't eat ketchup on most things.

18. We finally got around to hanging up my medal rack this weekend.  I had to leave so Matt painstakingly hung up my medals in the same order that I had them by looking at my old instagram pictures.


19.  I am kind of particular if you hadn't picked up on that yet.

20. For a while I tried convincing myself that I liked almond milk and almond butter better than the original cow's milk and peanut butter.  I think it was because I read too many healthy living blogs.  I am back to the good stuff now.

21. My coworkers convinced me to try Birchbox.  I just got my first box on Friday.  Definitely a great idea. 

My hair smells really good right now.

22. I have not seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies.  Nor do I intend to. 

23. Ice cream is better than frozen yogurt.  Toppings are cool but so are blizzards.

24. We got a new washing machine in our apartment today.  I have a load of towels washing in it as I type.

25. I just asked Matt for a fact about me and he says "You are a closet gamer."  I'm going to pretend I don't know what he is talking about. 

26.  My 26th year was a really great year.  I finished an Ironman, got married, moved, and went on a honeymoon. But I hope 27 will be a little less busy than 26.

27.  This is really hard. Matt is 46 days older than me. 

Whew!

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