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I Heart Grillz!

April 25, 2010

No!  Not those grillz…snazzy, but just not practical for a girl like me.  This grill is more my style.

Grilling in the new roasting. All winter long I enjoy the comfort-food quality of roasted meats and veggies, but as the mercury rises, the grill heats up.  I was excited to get busy in the kitchen tonight.  I was a craving a healthy, veggie-packed meal and that’s exactly what we had!

Chicken Kebabs.

All skewered and ready for the fire!  To assemble these kebabs, I did a little prep work with chicken and vegetables.  I made a big batch for my hungry family, which included:

  • 1.5 lbs of chicken breast, cubed and marinated in Newman’s Own Teriyaki Marinade
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 summer squash
  • 2 small zucchini

I lined my skewers up on the grill, shut the cover, and let the fiery beast work its magic!

And that, my friends, is dinner!  I enjoyed one kebab along with some extra grilled veggies, asparagus (steamed in foil on the grill), and brown rice.  It was a perfectly well-rounded meal.  The grill really brought out the flavor of the veggies, especially the onions!  I love the charred edges best.  My dad’s still picking veggies off like candy…guess he liked ’em, too!

After dinner, I stayed in for a movie night.  I rarely watch movies due to a very short attention span.  Tonight was totally different.  I watched The Blind Side. Captivating!  My mom pretty much is Sandra Bullock’s character.  All my life we’ve had friends…and friends of friends…staying at our house.  My parents literally give everything to kids in need.  It was an amazing story, made even more powerful by my own life experiences.  I know I’m a little late to the party, but if you haven’t seen The Blind Side yet, you must.

Enjoy your Saturday night…there’s plenty more weekend left!

Ladies of Leisure

April 24, 2010

On vacation, I become a lady of leisure. My mom is my partner in crime.  We’re both teachers so we enjoy our school breaks together.  Today we set out to enjoy a patio lunch in the sun.  “Doing lunch” is always a good way to enjoy great restaurants. The prices and portions are usually more reasonable during the lunch hour.

PAPA RAZZI has a nice outdoor seating area, so that’s where we headed.  By the time we arrived the patio was beyond full and my mom had a hungry runner on her hands!  We compromised and ate at a nice table by a window.  Everything about lunch was fantastic.  We took our time and enjoyed ourselves as we ate.

Like any good trattoria, we started with yummy breads – crunchy breadsticks, and warm focaccia.

I tasted each as I waited for my entree to arrive.  The focaccia was my favorite!

For lunch, I ordered the Vegetariano Panini.

It had grilled eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella sandwiched between two doughy slices of bread.  This was a tasty sandwich, but it didn’t have the crunchy bread that’s typical of a panini.  It was good, though, and the side of mixed greens was the perfect addition to the plate.  I ate half of the sandwich and boxed up the rest for later.

The most exciting thing was dessert!  My mom and I decided to split the restaurants signature dessert, frutta al forno.

A warm fruit compote topped with creamy, vanilla gelato.

Even though I didn’t go away on my vacation, lunches like this make me feel like I savored my time off.  I bonded with family, had time for myself, and indulged a little along the way.  A perfect stay-cation!

I must say, I am excited to get back into the kitchen tonight and prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal.

The Final Countdown

April 24, 2010

The half-marathon is days away.  Days!  Can you believe it?  I can’t.  It seems I just ran my first 5K.  I feel ready though.  More than ready, actually.  I am really excited to run next week.  Really excited!

This morning I completed my final long training run.  I ate a stabilizing breakfast before the run.

Oatmeal is probably my favorite breakfast food, but peanut butter and banana sandwiches are by far the most functional meal I eat.  Oatmeal just doesn’t have the same effect before running.  These sandwiches keep me going without the heavy feeling you get from eating a big meal.

Since I was running alone, I pushed my pace a bit.  I kept thinking about this post by incredi-runner, Kelly.  She gives great information about running negative and even splits.  Ideally, I would like all my runs to end in negative or even splits.  I’ve trained for negative splits on the treadmill, but I have a tougher time on the road.  It’s something I’m working on.

My splits from todays run:

Total Distance: 10.0 miles

  • Mile 1 – 8:26/mi
  • Mile 2 – 9:04/mi
  • Mile 3 – 8:59/mi
  • Mile 4 – 9:11/mi
  • Mile 5 – 9:07/mi
  • Mile 6 – 9:10/mi
  • Mile 7 – 9:05/mi
  • Mile 8 – 9:26/mi
  • Mile 9 – 9:06/mi
  • Mile 10 – 9:23/mi

Average Pace: 9:06/mi

Total Time: 1:31:07

Negative splits? No way!  A good run? Yes, sir!  Even though I didn’t end the run with the splits I hoped for, I am happy about my average pace.  I am on track for a sub-2 hour half next week!

I wore a new running outfit today.  I think it helped!

These lulu shorts were so comfortable.  They were screaming my name.  Just look at the fun colors!  When I was in high school, I used to wear a shirt to field hockey practice that said, “Practice sucks, but I love the shoes!”  I’m a sucker for cute gear…a girly-girl at heart!

With the sun shining down on me, I enjoyed a post-run snack on the deck.

It’s time to unplug and get back outside on this gorgeous spring day!  I hope you are enjoying, too!

Family Night

April 24, 2010

For me, Friday night is family night.  They are always a low-key night to catch up with my gram and other relatives.  Last night was no exception.  It was extra special because my aunt and cousin joined us for dinner.  I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, so we had lots to chat about.

Gram and I decided to give them a taste of our favorite pizza at Bob and Timmy’s.  Our table started with salad.

Then we agreed to split the “Pizza III.”  It was the first pizza I tried at Bob and Timmy’s and it’s still my favorite – parmesan and romano chesse, garlic and olive oil, and sun-dried tomatoes. Last night we kicked it up a notch by ordering a side of pomodoro sauce.

I dipped my slices into the sauce and felt like I was eating cheesy, garlicky breadsticks.  Amazing!  I love sauce-less pizza, but a good sauce can really make a slice!  This was a good sauce.

On the way home from dinner, we drove by Sandy’s. Sandy’s is a tiny little ice cream stand on Main Street in my gram’s small town.  It’s within walking distance from her house, so it’s become a traditional to get a cone from Sandy’s on summer nights.  What? ! It’s not summer yet?! Well, it was for us!  In keeping with tradition, we stopped for a cold, creamy cone of…

…soft serve!  Soft-serve ice cream is completely under-rated.  Maybe it’s not hand-churned or homemade, but it’s damn good!  I get super excited about soft-serve in the summer.  I licked my kiddie twist with chocolate jimmies – yes, jimmies – until the last drop!  Then I licked my lips.  Then I licked my hands.  Then…it was just that enjoyable!  My obligatory cone at Sandy’s was a good one!

It was such a relaxing night.  I got a great eight hour snooze and now I’m gearing up for my last long run before the half!  A solo run…I’m on my way!

Trust In Hal

April 23, 2010

Today is my last real vacation day.  Boo.  I always think of Friday as the end of vacation because I have every weekend off.  Sometimes I dwell on it and ruin those last couple days.  Not this time!  I plan to maximize the vacation hours I have left and enjoy every second!

I woke up later than usual this morning and I was hungry!  I made a filling and delicious Friday breakfast.  Pancakes!

Blueberry Oat-Flax Cakes.

  • a little less than 1/3 c. quick-cooking oats
  • 1 T. ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 c. liquid egg whites
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. frozen blueberries

I just cooked these up on the griddle and voila! Breakfast was served.  I topped my ‘cakes with some Barney Butter and SF maple syrup.  They were so good.  Every time I make pancakes, I vow to do so more often…gotta get on that! The protein from the egg whites really amps up the nutritional value of this meal and powers me through ’til lunch.

And hold me it did!  I went out with momma to run some Friday morning errands and enjoy a nice little lunch.  We hit up Borders, Marshall’s, Old Navy…all the local hot spots!  Look what I scored a deal on at Marshall’s!

$4.99 each! Yep, I said $4.99!  I always check the gourmet food section in Home Goods, Marshall’s, or TJ Maxx.  I’ve discovered some great items at super low prices.  These jars normally go for $9 at Whole Foods.  I took of lick of each when I got home…just making sure they’re still good! Finger-lickin’ good!

Mom and I went for our traditional Panera lunch this afternoon.  I wanted to be more interesting, but I was just craving my favorite “you pick two” combo: classic cafe salad, tomato-basil panini, and an apple.

The apple made it’s way into my purse.  I think it’ll be the perfect match for my new almond butter this afternoon!

***

All week I’ve had marathon thoughts running through my brain.  I am super excited and nervous about running a marathon!  I’m so glad that training doesn’t begin until June.  I really need some time to digest and determine how I will properly train for this major event.  One thing I know for sure is this – I am in the hands of Hal.  Hal Higdon, that is!  I based my half-marathon training on his wisdom and plan to do the same for the marathon.  I really like his approach to running and can’t wait to learn more from this expert.

I’ve got my reading material for the next few months.  Can’t wait to dig in!

What’s your favorite thing to do on a day off? I love lunch dates and lazy afternoons…a mani/pedi doesn’t hurt either!

Taco Thursday

April 23, 2010

We had another family friendly meal tonight!  As the head chef, I’m always pleased when I can make a dish to satisfy a crowd.  It’s even better when that dish doesn’t require hours in the kitchen.

Enter Taco Thursday! Last week’s fajitas were a hit, so why mess with a good thing?!

I made chicken tacos tonight.  I didn’t take a picture of the meat.  It was a pretty standard pan of chicken breast in taco seasoning.  I used simple seasoning packets from the store.  These pre-made packets tend to have high sodium levels, so I opted for the “reduced sodium” version.  There was still plenty of flavor!

I also set up a spread of taco fixings and went with a “make your own” approach to the meal.

See those chips in the background?  Incredible! This bag was on fiyah! If you like a little heat, pick up a bag of these.  You won’t be sorry!

Go ahead and get a closer look.  Remember this bag next time you are at the store.

Tacos are good…taco salad is better!  I piled all of the taco goodness onto a big serving of veggies and called it dinner.

  • mixed greens
  • cukes
  • red peppers
  • green peppers
  • corn
  • chicken taco mix
  • crushed Red Hot Blue Corn Chips
  • salsa
  • shredded Mexican cheese

It was perfectly nutritious and delicious meal, if I do say so myself!  Looks like everyone else agreed…no leftovers! Guess I’ll be back in the kitchen before you know it…

In the meantime, relaxation!

Thrifty in the City

April 22, 2010

Mom and I went into Providence for lunch and browsing this afternoon.  It was the perfect afternoon for being outside in the city.  We made our way to the East Side to enjoy the cute boutiques and great people watching.

I was super excited to hunt for finds at Second Time Around.  I was in the mood for bargain shopping and this was just the spot.  They had a great selection of new spring and summer clothing.  I held myself back, but I managed to walk out with a couple of deals!

Fun colors for springtime!  I always feel like I hit the jackpot when I score deals like this.

The East Side had so many great lunch options, we had trouble deciding what to eat.  On the recommendation of a friend, we popped into Antonio’s Pizza.  They had pretty much every topping imaginable, sold by the slice.  I was in pizza paradise! The slices looked big and filling, so I ordered a single piece of Baked Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza.

Yum, yum!  I loved my topping selection, but the crispy crust made this slice.  It was like an upgraded version of Sbarro’s.  What can I say?  I like pizza!

The sun was still shining after lunch, so we took advantage.  We found a cute little table to sit and enjoy some afternoon snacks.  I sipped a large green tea, while mom savored some fruity frozen yogurt.

That guy is just jealous that he doesn’t have tea!

I snuck a taste of my mom’s snack…and it was tasty!  Now I’m kicking myself for not ordering my own.  I just wasn’t hungry at the time.  Instead, I nibbled on a snack mix at home.

It was perfect for a snack-y girl like me!  We had to hunker down for a bit as some thunderstorms rolled through, but the sun is shining again!  I’m off to enjoy!