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. 


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Take Time Tuesday

A month ago, Katie asked me if I would participate in her February Take Time Tuesday.  Then I flopped. Hard core. My list of excuses to not blog are like a mile long, but no one wants to hear those.

Matt and I went on our honeymoon in March.  One week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, at an all-inclusive resort.  This is our first time ever going to an all-inclusive and our first time taking a beach vacation.  I'm sure some people are against the all-inclusive resorts and we really didn't get to experience much of the culture in the Dominican Republic, but it was nice for a change. We never had to worry about where we were going to eat or what we were going to do for the day. I thought I might be bored, but it was amazing.  

We met so many great people too! And we have some tentative plans to meet up with them again!

Thanks to all the help from my parents and our friends, Matt and I moved into our new place (yes, we moved again).  We are now out in the "country" as I so lovingly refer to it.  I can see fields from my window so I think this term applies.  We are much closer to Matt's office (45 minutes compared to the 1 hour 10 minutes he was driving before) and that makes him much happier. It's a great place and we are getting settled in...slowly.  Some things are still sitting on the floor waiting to be hung on the walls, but we are getting there.

Matt and I were able to make it home for Easter this year and celebrate with our families. We had an egg hunt and brunch with Matt's family and enjoyed some afternoon kickball at my grandparent's house.  As everyone is growing up and getting busier and having families of their own, it can be harder and harder to get together with everyone.  But I always love hanging out with my family.

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