Zucchini, Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Quiche

19 Apr

Ms. Lindsay and I have an early training run this morning so I resisted the many happy hour temptations last night and decided to stay in.  Ugh.  Since I had SO much time on my hands, seriously it was weird, I decided to make something a little more filling and fun for dinner – quiche.  I’ve been watching so many cooking shows that feature Easter recipes and that I have had a serious craving for quiche all week.  Plus, I got lunch with a coworker on Wednesday at my favorite french patisserie in the Loop – Toni Patisserie & Cafe – and she ordered a quiche that looked heavenly.

Thus, it needed to happen.  After looking up a bunch of different recipes, I figured that I could basically just throw whatever I had in my fridge into some pie crust, add some cheese, eggs and almond milk and call it a day.  And so on the fifth day Lindsay created a Zucchini, Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Quiche.

Serves: 4

Ingredients (filling):

  • 2 cups sliced zucchini
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 slices organic turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded

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Ingredients (crust):

  • Frozen whole wheat pie crust (YUP, I used a frozen pie crust)  I suppose I could have made a batch of my Farmor’s homemade pie crust but ugh, I gave up happy hour let me have one shortcut! ;)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Let the frozen pie crust thaw for 10 minutes and then pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork
  • Bake pie crust for 10 minutes and then pull out to rest
  • Reduce oven to 350 degrees
  • Prepare the filling, heat a large non-stick saute pan over medium high heat.  Add olive oil, zucchini and mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes.  Let the mixture cool slightly.

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  • Combine the almond milk, salt, pepper, turkey bacon, eggs and basil with a whisk.  Pour the squash mixture into the pie crust and spread evenly.  Top mixture with shredded cheddar cheese and then pour the egg mixture over the cheese.

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  • Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until the filling is set.
  • Let quiche cool for 10 minutes – dig in and ENJOY!

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Hopefully this meal serves me well on my long run! Bon Appetit!

Tips for Throwing a Dinner Party

18 Apr

Good Morning!

It’s a beautiful day here on the prairie and from what I can tell in weather forecast, it is going to be a very pleasant weekend.  Last night, Brian and I took full advantage of the sunshine and took Bailey for an extra long walk.  We made sure to stop by Doggie beach so that she could say hello to all her friends, but most of them were too busy playing in the water to notice her precious whine as we passed on by.

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I have to say that those dogs are mighty brave, I’m positive that the water in Lake Michigan is FREEZING considering it was one giant ice cube not too long ago.  While on our walk, Brian and I reflected on the week and started planning for the weekend.

I am hosting Easter dinner again this year and I have so much fun entertaining.  I finally decided on my menu:

Appetizers: Mom and Dad are bringing

Main Course:

  • Roasted Chicken
  • Grilled Petite Lamb Chomps

Sides:

  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Fresh Broccoli Salad
  • Herbed Quinoa

Dessert: Diane, Brian’s cousin, is bringing

LOTS OF VINO!  Now I am not hostess with the mostess expert, but I have learned some great tips on how to throw an awesome dinner party.

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  1. Music – Having a good dinner party playlist or station is a must.  Lately, I have been dining to a lot of Eric Clapton, the Avett Brothers and Buddy Guy.  I’m a Blues girl through and through – I am from Chicago for goodness sake.
  2. Use warm colors for your table setting – When I’m setting my table I like to have one pop or focus of warm colors.  Dining together is such a comforting and special experience and I really think that warm colors let’s people relax and not feel that it is such a stiff event

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  1. Set the mood with Lighting – We have a really obnoxious florescent light above our dining room table (#renterproblems), which I refuse to use.  A couple months ago I added a really inexpensive warm lamp to one of our bar tables so that it would give the room a better feeling.  It makes a world of difference – when I’m at the dinner table I don’t want to feel like I am at work surround by florescent lights, I want to feel like I’m dining under the stars.  Hahaha, I couldn’t even keep a straight face after saying that – but you get what I mean.
  2. Use fabric linens - I kind of feel like this is a no brainer, but paper and plastic is just not very inviting, not to mention it’s not eco-friendly.  You can find great deals on fabric linens at Target, Home Goods and even at the Crate and Barrel Outlet.
  3. Keep it simple – Get off that Martha Stewart website with table settings that are nearly impossible to replicate.  The more simple, the better.  No one is going to remember that you went out to Michael’s and bought five feet of burlap, a dozen different kinds of flowers for a DIY centerpiece and mercury candle holders galore.
  4. Go outside (if you can) – Al fresco dining is the best if you have the space.  Just be sure to have enough citronella candles to keep the pesky bugs away.

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  1. Go into it knowing everything won’t be perfect - If something gets overcooked, dropped or takes too long – just sit back, drink some wine and enjoy the company of those around you.  That’s what it is all about my friends.

Besides the dinner party that we are hosting, this weekend is going to be pretty low key, which I am THRILLED about.  I’m making a quiche tonight with Brian, watching a movie, probably going to be early, waking up to run 8-9 miles with the other Lindsay, cleaning, shopping, eating – Life is good.  I’m also really happy with how my meal planning and fitness planning went for the week.

This week’s meals:

  • Monday: Shrimp Fajitas
  • Tuesday: Grilled BBQ Chicken and Zucchini Corn Succotash
  • Wednesday: Tacos and Wine with my girlfriends
  • Thursday: Grilled Chicken Sausage and Salad
  • Friday: Mushroom Quiche with Salad
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Easter Dinner

This week’s workouts:

  • Monday: Stretch out the 8 Mile Run from Sunday
  • Tuesday: 4 Mile Dread, I mean Treadmill Run (gross)
  • Wednesday: 35 Min. Tempo Run + Below Circuit
  • Thursday: Long walk with Bailey + Abs & Arms
  • Friday: 4 Mile Jog
  • Saturday: 8 - 9 Mile Run Outside
  • Sunday: Arms & Abs Circuit

Have a great weekend!

Confession: I am a Sugar Addict

16 Apr


Hi, friends!  I think I’m fully recovered from Mother Nature’s mental breakdown on Monday - the snow and ice has melted and dare I say they are gone for good?  Nope, I won’t say it.

Wednesday Confession:

I’m addicted to sugar.  Yup.  Totally addicted.  And not in the form of cakes, brownies or ice cream.  Candy.  Specifically – sour candy.

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Zours (Oh, you don’t know what these are?  Sour Mike n’ Ikes)

Sour Punch Straws

Sour Skittles

Sour Starbursts

Sour Jellybeans

Sour Patch Kids

I could go on, but you get the picture.

I’m a firm believer in making small short term goals and adjusting those goals as necessary.  My goal for January was to drink more water, my goal for February was to be more cognitive of my posture, my goal for March was to include veggies in each meal, and I really dropped the ball on my April goal.  April is not a total bust, however, as I have been working really hard at a goal that has continued over the past two years – strive for a happy and healthy lifestyle.   Sure, sugar is not something you want to eat in excess, but as long as I’m staying true to my lifelong goal I will not feel guilty.

After some initial research, I’ve found some tips on how to curb sugar cravings.  Some of these include adding more of these foods into your daily diet:

  • Whole Grains
  • Dates
  • Squash
  • Eggs
  • Cinnamon
  • Apples
  • Avocado

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I’ve realized that the days I am craving sugar the most are days when I don’t eat very balanced meals or after a weekend of excessive drinking.

I’ve also read that associating healthy, more satisfying foods with sweet food also helps curb the craving.  For instance, drizzling chocolate almond butter over half a banana or eating plain yogurt with fruit.

So what are my next steps?

  1. Remove all candy from my apartment – gulp!
  2. Go cold turkey for one week and see how I feel after.

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  1. Plan alternate behaviors to divert my impending sugar cravings (This means to have back up plans when I know I’m most vulnerable – aka – at work)
  2. Do more research on the effect sugar has on the body so I can be well informed.

Are you a sugar addict?  Are you a ‘recovering addict’?  What has helped you?

Xmas Came Late & Running Mile 8

14 Apr

Good morning, friends!  I hope you all enjoyed the weekend!

I was very much looking forward to my Saturday all of last week as I finally got to use one of Brian’s Christmas gifts that he gave me – A wine tasting tour in Michigan!

He got a deal on the tour through Living Social, so I was not really sure what to expect going into the day.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, when we got downtown Saturday morning and saw a giant coach bus waiting for our arrival.  I will just say off the bat that everything about the tour, hosted by Cannonball Productions, was so well organized.  I was glad to see that having a bathroom on a bus full of winos was a top priority!

It took us two hours to get to our first winery – Lemon Creek.  We were immediately ushered into their tasting room where we got to sample five of their wines including their signature ‘ice wine’ for $3 extra.  Have you ever heard of ice wine?  I hadn’t either, but apparently it is a very popular staple in Michigan.  The grapes are picked during a chilly night – harvested at less that 17 degrees Fahrenheit.  Each of the grapes that are picked only create ONE drop of ice wine.  Since it is so concentrated, the wine is super sweet and is termed ‘The Nectar of the Gods’.  I’m not a huge fan of sweet wine, so this wasn’t really my thing, but Brian had no problem finishing off my pour :)

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We were able to spend 45 – 50 minutes at each winery and although that sounded like a long time initially, the day seemed to go by very fast!  Lemon Creek was good, we enjoyed their Chardonnay and Dry Rose, but their pours were the smallest of the bunch…

Next on the tour was Baroda Founders Winery.  We were able to get a tour of the production room before our tasting and lunch began.  The owner himself gave us a tour and showed us how they make their most popular wine – Luce Del Sole ( which means sunshine).  I very much enjoyed the tour and that specific wine that he poured for us himself, but unfortunately I did really care for anything else that I tried there.

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The final two wineries on the tour were my absolute favorite: St. Julian and Round Barn.  The woman who was assisting Brian and I with our tasting at St. Julian was phenomenal.  My favorite of our six tastings was their Syrah and I may or may not have taken home three bottles! Did I mention that their pours were over double the size of Lemon Creek?  Win!

My favorite part of Round Barn, however, was not their wine.  It was their signature bourbon and beer.  We also got six tastings there, as well as a souvenir tasting glass and the woman who took care of me could just tell that I was in need of a grand finale tasting.  She had a bourbon cocktail that literally knocked my socks off – psych! I wasn’t wearing any socks ;)  She had mixed their bourbon with one of their apple wines that had been mulled for hours and OMG it was like heaven in a glass – the perfect drink for a fall day.

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While I got my bourbon on in the main tasting room, Brian ended his tour at the brewery.  Their beers were equally as delicious and Brian got a growler for us to enjoy on the bus ride back to Chicago.

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Our Loot!

I would highly recommend this tour to everyone!  For $75 you get round trip transportation, copious amounts of wine, free lunch and a bunch of new friends.  I was also grateful that the tour got us back into the city by 6:00 p.m. as I had plenty of time to recover before my eight mile training run the next day!

I was surprisingly not too dehydrated when I woke up on Saturday, but I made sure to drink plenty of water and eat tons of protein to get my body up to par.

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Lindsay and I both knew that there was a possibility we would be running during a Thunderstorm, but Mother Nature was pretty good to us!  Since we knew it was windy along the lakeshore path, we routed ourselves through the Lakeview, Roscoe Village and Lincoln Park neighborhoods.  With Lindsay’s wedding coming up in the fall, we always have so much to talk about that the run goes by quickly.  I swear she is the best running buddy, I don’t even bother bringing headphones anymore.

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I felt pretty good after the run, my hamstrings and butt were super tight so I made sure to spend extra time stretching those out.

The rest of the night was spent on the couch eating DELICIOUS Thai food and watching Game of Thrones – EEEKKKKK!

Chicago Food/Drink Hot Spots

11 Apr

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!!

BAHHH.  I wish I was a millionaire for the sole reason that I want to frequent all of these restaurants every night of the week – without getting fat.  In honor of the spring/summer season approaching, here is my HOT SPOT list for Chicago restaurants/bars.  This may need to be a reoccurring post as my taste changes all the time and there are always new and exciting restaurants coming out each week!

I apologize in advance if this post makes your crave sushi, pizza, and slushies at 8:00 a.m. in the morning.

Chicago Restaurants I’m loving lately…

1. Kai Zan

I was first introduced to this amazing sushi place by one of my coworkers who lives in the area.  After my first bite of their famous ‘angry crab’, I was hooked.  Now, I stalk their Instagram feed daily to see what their newest creations are and when they have open tables available.

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Note: Double the points – this place is BYOB.

2. Coalfire Pizza

There is something about coal burning ovens that really speaks to me… oh yah and pizza!  This Neapolitan style pizza place has my hands-down favorite margherita pizza in all of Chicago.  It’s something about their thin crispy crust and unique toppings that really make me go weak in the knees.

3. Pastoral

This little artisan wine, cheese and bread shop is just a couple blocks away from my apartment.  I can’t help but stop in every time I pass by and pick up some good stinky cheese and a fresh loaf of bread.  Heaven.

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4. Kinmont

She had me at first oyster.  Have I mentioned that oysters are at the top of my list for favorite foods.  The collaborators behind Nellcote and Old Town Social have done it again – great addition to the Chicago restaurant scene.

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Chicago Restaurants that really speak to me in the summer

1. Piccolo Sogno

You’ve heard me say this before, but Piccolo Sogno is my FAVORITE restaurant of all time.  Especially in the summer.  When you sit on their patio you completely forget your are in a busy city with your first bite of their parpadelle with spiced wild boar ragu.

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It should be noted that I am referring to it’s original location on Halsted and Grand Ave.

2. Fish Bar

Another great restaurant that is just minutes from my apartment.  Their patio is in the perfect location for people watching and for dog mingling :)

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3. Three Aces

Although I have only been to Three Aces once, it is on my list of go-to places for the summer.  Their patio is amazing with a great view of the Sears Tower ( not the Wills Tower, okay!).

4. Parson’s Chicken & Fish

Negroni Slushie.  Outdoor Patio.  Fried Chicken.  Enough said.

 

Chicago Restaurants I NEED to try (speak up if you want to go with me!)

1. Honey Butter Fried Chicken

2. The Radler

3. Cicchetti

4. Fat Rice

 

I need a cocktail… STAT.

1. Billy Sunday

2. The Berkshire Room

3. Chicago Distilling Company

4. Sportsman’s Club

 

You know who to call/text/email if you need a dinner date ;)  Have a fabulous weekend.

How To Make My Favorite Baked Salmon

10 Apr

Since Brian and I went to the Cubs game after work on Tuesday, I didn’t have time to fit in my 4 mile run that was scheduled on my Half Marathon Training Plan.  It ended up being for the best because yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day to run outside.  It was the first time I have run outside in only a T-shirt and shorts since October!  I completed a really simple down and back along the lakeshore path… 2 miles south and 2 miles back north and it went by super quick because there were SO many people out on the path – Brian thinks it’s annoying, but I think it’s awesome.

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When I got home I stretched for a little while then got right to dinner.

Enter my favorite easy Salmon recipe:

Lemon Garlic Salmon

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb salmon filet
  • 1 tsp. garlic lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 lemon – half sliced
  • Tbs. butter – sliced
  • Tbs. minced garlic
  • Olive Oil Spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  2. Lightly spray a baking dish with olive oil and place filet skin side down in dish
  3. Sprinkle garlic lemon pepper, salt and minced garlic on top of filet
  4. Top with butter slices, juice from half the lemon and the lemon slices
  5. Once your oven is preheated, bake the salmon for 12 minutes until flaky with a fork
  6. Enjoy!

We served this salmon with some asparagus and a side of tri-colored quinoa.

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YUMM!

After all the clean up was done I had to go get ready for my soccer game that was at 9:30 p.m.  Sigh.  Maybe I’m just turning into an old geezer but there 9:30 p.m. games are really killing my sleep schedule.

What’s your favorite way to cook salmon?

A Night at Wrigley Field

9 Apr

Good Morning!

We have been having really beautiful days here in Chicago and last night I got to enjoy one of these days outside. GASP.  Yes, outside!

As I mentioned yesterday, one of my coworkers was giving away his Cubs tickets for free and I was the lucky person who snagged them :)

After work, I raced home where Brian and Bailey were waiting for me with big smiles.  We decided to make dinner and eat before the game so we wouldn’t overindulge too much at the stadium.  Originally we had salmon and asparagus on the menu, but that didn’t really seem like a good base to go with our beer and alcohol consumption, so we switched to turkey tacos instead.

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These hit the spot! All I did was Sautée the ground turkey with some taco seasoning and salsa and it was sooooo yummy.

With our bellies full we headed to Wrigley, which is just a 15 minute walk from my apartment.  My coworker has really good seats – aisle 17 row 9 – right behind home plate.  The sky/view was spectacular.

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Before we got settled we b-lined it to the beer tent where Brian got some cold refreshing brews and I opted for the white wine.  I know, who drinks wine at a ballpark, but hear me out.  My favorite ballpark treat is a big bag of salted peanuts and when you pair that with a cold glassd of Pinot Grigio you get the salty sweet effect.  It’s heavenly.

My second favorite ballpark treat is of course the chicago hot dog (off the grill not from the concession).  I was pretty full from my tacos at home and half a bag of peanuts, but it was still really hard to resist a hot dog with all the delicious smells surrounding me.  Cheers to my willpower for the night.

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Staying healthy at a ballpark is super difficult so I usually try to eat super clean the whole day leading up to the game so that I don’t go to bed at the end of the night feeling like crap.

That being said, there are definitely ‘better choice’ options that you can opt for.  For instance, choose a grilled brat with all the fixings sans bun over a giant helmet of nachos with neon orange processed cheese.  I saw a bison hot dog last night that looked mighty tasty as well as a pulled pork sandwich!  At Sheffield’s Grill inside Wrigley, the do have a gluten free bun option if you’re on that diet and there are gluten free beer options available at some of the beer tents.

Besides the food being awesome it was also a really fun night… even though the Cubs lost… surprise… surprise ;)

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