Well, It’s Tuesday

This afternoon, my parents, my sister Emily and I went to Evergreen Cemery in Manitowoc to celebrate the life of John Reininger. John himself wanted it to be called a ‘fun’eral!


It was a very small and casual memorial service where close friends and family had a wine toast around the plot in a beautiful cemetery. I know it’s somewhat strange to think of a cemetery as ‘beautiful’ but I always thought that cemeteries had a kind of haunting loveliness in that they hold so many stories of so many people’s lives.

Our friends, the Campbells, put on a lovely spread of food for lunch: potato leek soup, potato rolls, ham and chicken salad, veggies with dip, potato chips, and cheesecake. We spent the afternoon noshing and chatting. I picked up a few things at my parent’s house for the upcoming bridal shower for my friend Emily this weekend, then headed back into town.

Since it’s Tuesday and I had an avocado and tomato in the fridge, taco salad was a no brainer. Unfortunately, while washing dishes beforehand, I broke another martini glass! Good thing breaking glass applies to mirrors and not martini glasses or I would be in big trouble.

First I sauteed mushrooms, red onion, and a pepper stir fry mix in olive oil over medium high heat.

Then added minced garlic, oregano, cumin, red pepper flake, and a pinch of salt.

I piled the warm veggies on top of herb salad, which I topped with fresh diced tomatoes, avocado, salsa, and a dollop of plain greek yogurt. Delicioso!

I even had Dave’s company for a few hours since he received his new computer today and was too excited to go to sleep on time. I’m hoping to get to bed somewhat early tonight to catch up on sleep and go for a run tomorrow morning….





Earnest Effort

This morning seemed like as good of a time as ever to take a rest day, mostly because I stayed up late watching The Sons of Katie Elder (we couldn’t find The Cowboys).

The only effort I had to exert this morning was making breakfast. Last week I bought something I haven’t bought in ages–English muffins. As I pulled one out of the freezer to toast this morning, I couldn’t help but think of the scene in The Importance of Being Earnest where Jack and Algy are fighting over muffins.

Jack: Good heavens, I suppose a man may eat his own muffins in his own garden. 
Algy: But you have just said it was perfectly heartless to eat muffins! 
Jack: I said it was perfectly heartless of YOU under the circumstances. That is a very different thing. 
Algy: That may be, but the muffins are the same! 

I suppose I’ll always be an English lover at heart. And I did not find it heartless at all to enjoy my muffin holding an egg and Morning Star ‘Sausage’ patty with Sriracha.

Grapes on the side to balance the spicy.

And a lovely cup of hot coffee on this relatively cool morning (75 degrees).


Sunday, Sunday

Another fun albeit exhausting weekend!

My friend John was generous enough to bequeath an extra bike of his to my husband Dave, which I was just as excited about as Dave was–I never get to exercise with a friend! I took advantage of our double bike ownership this morning when we took a 4.5 mile trek down the East River Trail together.

Looks like Dave had even more fun than I did!

We invited my family to a cookout at our apartment today, so I got to work using up the huge bag of red potatoes we had in our pantry to make German-ish Potato-ish Salad, courtesy of Hungry Girl with only a few modifications.

German-ish Potato-ish Salad

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped
  • 10 oz baby red potatoes, chopped
  • 3 cups dry coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 4 strips crumbled bacon (I used Morning Star brand)
  • 1 tbsp Miracle Whip
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions

Place cauliflower and potatoes in a large microwave-safe bowl with 1/3 cup water. Cover and microwave for 6 minutes. Stir, re-cover, and microwave for 8 minutes, or until tender. Once cool enough to handle, drain excess water and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat on the stove. Add coleslaw mix and onion.

Stirring frequently, cook until soft and slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add contents of the skillet to the bowl with the cauliflower and potatoes. Set aside.

To make the dressing, combine all remaining ingredients except scallions in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tbsp. water, stir, and microwave for 1 minute, or until warm. Mix thoroughly.

Add dressing to the large bowl with veggies and potatoes, and toss to coat. Add scallions, gently mix, and serve! (P.S. If you’re making this ahead of time, refrigerate and then warm it up just before serving.)


Dave loves to stock the freezer when he finds great deals on meat, so today’s menu involved cleaning the freezer out and cooking ribs and duck.

The marinade for the duck was a favorite that we frequently use for chicken: low sugar marmalade, fresh rosemary, Z’atar, salt and pepper.

Dave made a dry rub for the ribs using a modified version of Alton Brown’s recipe.

I had put some local, free-range ground bison to thaw for our dinner on Friday…which we never used. Refreezing meat is a huge no-no so tonight was the perfect opportunity to use it up!

I mixed the pound of bison meat with 3 tbsp egg whites, 1/3 cup of plain breadcrumbs, fresh rosemary and Z’atar and cooked them on our mini flower pot grill while Dave used the large grill for the ribs and duck.

Wine, beer, good conversation, and laughter were had by all, especially by Baby A.

I had no complaints about my dinner tonight. Everything was so good.

I guess I’m more of a ‘flexitarian’ than a ‘humaneitarian’ now: I make exceptions for food I rarely get my mouth around, like ribs and duck. My bison burger was delicious, as was the German-ish Potato-ish Salad. Even Dave thought it was great, and he hates cauliflower. He grimaced when I put it in the cart this morning, but no complaints now. 🙂

I also had some of a great rice dish that my mom brought with strawberries and garbanzo beans–very inventive! I had another small plate with a bit more of the salads and made room for a Dave specialty: Banana Flambe!

Banans topped with granulated sugar, then fired until crispy.

My family has now left, and Dave and I have a few hours of the evening left since he has tomorrow off. I’ve been craving a John Wayne movie lately, so we’re going to snuggle up and watch The Cowboys. We’re so romantic.

Another week begins tomorrow!

Late Start

I find it hard to post on the weekends because, as a childless, married 25 year-old, I rarely follow the 8 hours of sleep, three square meals a day rule.

Last night, I was at a friend’s house until 3:00am enjoying a few cocktails and a few slices of pizza, followed by a late viewing of Fight Club in my own apartment with a bowl of popcorn mixed with Craisins and mint dark chocolate almonds.

I think I prefer the regular roasted chocolate almonds, but these are still amazing. And addicting. Iwas in bed just before 5:00am and woke up at 10:30 am this morning. That’s the life of your friendly “healthy” living blogger Chel from Designs on Dinner.

Err..wait…the healthy part is yet to come.

This morning, instead of sweating to the oldies, I sweated to Party Down with my own 30 minute 30 Day Shred, Jillian Michael style. Three circuits of 3 minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio, and 1 minute abs followed by ten minutes of weight lifting and some stretching. I don’t even need her anymore, I know the moves so well. Wait, I take it back!

My first meal of the day was consumed around 3:00pm.

Toasted sprouted honey wheat with raisins with 2 tbsp of just great stuff peanut butter and a sliced banana.

Nom nom nom.

My friends and I are planning to see The Dark Knight Rises tonight, but first Dave and I have got to do a bit of straightening up in our apartment–it’s amazing the amount of mess two people can make!

TLT–It’s Dynamite!

After a rubbish night’s sleep, I was up bright and early at 6:00am to exercise and, given the change in time, I thought I’d try a different workout that I found on Pinterest.

I used my computer to output this to the TV so I could watch it while listening to some new tunes from our CD exchange, courtesy of my friend Mariah (loved the mix!).

Was it effective?

Well, if sweat is any indication of effectiveness, then YES. This workout beat all of Jillian Michael’s 30 minute workouts in terms of difficulty. I actually had to stop to take water breaks for this one!

After showering, I spent 20 minutes blow drying, straightening, and gelling my hair for an interview today. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

No breakfast today, because I wasn’t feeling the greatest. For some reason, I just can’t stomach food whenever I wake up at 6:00am or before–does any one else have this problem?

I was told the interview was going to take two hours, but I was done in thirty-five minutes, which gave me time to come home, unwind, and marinate some tempeh for dinner tonight. This is my first time trying tempeh, so I decided to do a TLT sandwich inspired by one of Heidi Swanson’s recipes but done my own way.

  • 2.5 oz tempeh, sliced
  • scant 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Cover tempeh with marinade mixture and let sit, refrigerated, for at least 20 minutes (I let mine sit all day, for about 8 hours).

Marinade adapted from: A Hungry Spoon

After work, my dinner was as simple as sauteing the tempeh over medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side.

I must admit, I was skeptical based on the appearance of the tempeh–it was kind of strange and lumpy, and definitely did not strike a fantastic pose for the camera.


The best way to cover up the weird appearance? Hide it inside bread!

Done. Topped with tomato, lettuce, and savory mushroom hummus.

With crunchy kale chips on the side. I fought with my oven a little bit tonight and ended up with slightly too-crunchy kale chips, but they were still a good side.

And the TLT? It was dynamite. The combination of the marinade and texture turned it into a sublime sandwich. I may just let tempeh into my life.




♪ Mambo Italiano ♪

Have I been craving spaghetti since I’ve been drinking red wine, or have I been drinking red wine in an attempt to quell my cravings for spaghetti?

Either way, I can’t get enough of this Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir that Dave bought for me. Merlot used to be my favorite kind of wine, but I think this Pinot has overtaken it. I’ve had 1-2 glasses every night this week. I’m not worried because red wine, in moderation, is heart healthy! Hey, if the Mayo Clinic says it, it must be true.

Regardless, I decided tonight once and for all to get rid of my spaghetti craving. For some reason, every time I make pasta, I have Dean Martin’s version of Mambo Italiano running through my head. But I grew up in a household where every word was the start of a song, so can you blame me?

First, I julienned a medium zucchini to make zucsketti as my base.

I still haven’t quite got a feel for the mandolin yet, but I’m working on it. After I julienned the zucchini, I put it in a colander and tossed it with a sprinkling of salt and let it sit to extract excess water. After about 20 minutes, I blotted the zucchini to remove the water and some of the salt.

Meanwhile, I worked on my tomato sauce. Pasta sauce is so easy to make at home, albeit a bit time consuming.

First, I heated one tbsp of olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat, then sauteed one small chopped onion, two minced garlic cloves, and two chopped portabella caps for about ten minutes. Afterwards, I added a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes and an 8 oz can of tomato sauce. (I like my pasta sauces on the chunky side).

Halfway through my wine, the tomato sauce started to get blurry….I added a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, marjoram and reduced the heat to medium low to let it simmer.

I also cooked up a few ounces of whole grain spaghetti and used half an ounce myself to mix in with my zucsketti. The rest for Dave’s lunch tomorrow, because he’s not a fan of zucchini.

My pile of spaghetti topped with a bit of shredded Parmesan. It’s amazing how I don’t even miss the noodles–most of the ‘spaghetti’ flavor is in the tomato sauce and cheese for me. Those who are used to meaty sauces might feel differently.

I had two tiny pieces of sprouted grain toast on the side to sop up my delicious tomato sauce. I guess I prefer my carbs in bread form to noodle form.

Off to finish my Pinot Noir–♪ It’s a like a vino! ♪


Brussels for Chel

It’s been ages since I’ve had spaghetti, zucchini noodles or otherwise, and I’ve been craving it for a few days now.

However, one look in the fridge after work told me I needed to use up the rest of the brussels sprouts, stat. Luckily, I can deal with that kind of delicious.

This may have been the hugest pile of vegetables I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. I sliced 17 large brussels sprouts in half, tossed them in 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, 1 1/2 tbsp of fresh rosemary, and a smattering of garlic salt, onion powder, and pepper. Then I stuck them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

To make use of the oven’s heat, I also cooked up a Morning Star Turkey Burger and topped it with spinach and some Tribe brand Savory Mushroom Hummus on a whole wheat bun.

My burger needed no addition besides the hummus. Tribe knows what they’re doing; the hummus was extremely flavorful and a perfect burger topper. And my brussels sprouts were splendid as well, although I’m uber full after eating them all.

I plan to do some leg stretches post dinner while I watch some Modern Family (one of my new favorite shows), because I refuse to run in pain!

I don’t know if I can fit any more in my stomach after all those brussels sprouts, but I may have to have a handful of mint & dark chocolate roasted almonds tonight. You know, just to make sure they taste good.

All Shook Up

Last New Years Eve, my friends and I made a pact that this would be ‘our year.’

In some ways, it has been. But this is also the year that I broke my arm, had all four wisdom teeth removed, and had a tire blow out while driving down the highway. And it’s only July.

There are few things as terrifying as sitting in a stopped vehicle just waiting for a car going 80 miles an hour to hit the corner of your car and spin you into a deadly oblivion. Luckily, I kept most of my wits about me and managed to call 911, a tow truck, and Dave while I melted slowly in the heat listening to the music of blaring car horns.

But I left the house on a mission: to get groceries to make dinner tonight. And I did.

Falafel Crumble Wraps (Serves 6)

  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg white
  • Tzatiki sauce, chopped tomatoes, spinach, feta cheese, and tortillas for serving

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini. Blend well and move to a medium sized bowl.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium pan over medium high eat. Add onions and saute about 5-6 minutes.

Add the garlic and saute one more minute. Remove from heat and stir in turmeric, coriander, and cumin.

Add onion mixture along with sea salt, egg white, and breadcrumbs to the chickpea mixture.

Stir well until combined.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in pan. Add falafel mixture, and cook about 5-6minutes. Flip and cook an additional 5-6 minutes, breaking the mixture up.

When falafel mixture is golden and crunchy, remove from heat.

Crisp tortillas in a pan, then top with spinach, tomatoes, falafel mixture, feta, and tzatiki sauce.

Adapted from: Healthy with Heather

I served mine with a side of crunchy and delicious kale chips, tossed in olive oil, garlic salt, and cumin, and baked at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.

When do meals taste the best? When you’ve had a near-death experience, that’s when.

Moonrise Peppers

One of my birthday gifts this year was a gift card to Marcus Theatres, and I decided to use it today to see a movie I’d only heard about from my sister–Moonrise Kingdom.

Since Moriah was the one excited about the newest Wes Anderson film, it was only right I take her with me.


I loved it.

Funny, whimsical, and visually intriguing, I especially enjoyed the casting with favorites such as Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, and the brilliant Edward Norton as Scout Master Ward.

You have to be the right kind of person to enjoy a Wes Anderson film, but this one was right up my alley.

Since I got home early, I was able to make a slow-cooked dish that has slipped out of my menu as of late: stuffed peppers.

Stuffed peppers are a favorite, because they sky is the limit when it comes to fillings. Today I chose wild rice, portabella mushrooms, and onions. They did not disappoint.

  • 2 ginormous green peppers
  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked in vegetable broth
  • 3 portabella caps, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced green onions
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 oz feta, crumbled
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Since I had such a lovely experience freezing rice last time, I cooked a big batch of wild rice and froze about three cups of it, separating them into individual snack size bags to freeze. An easy addition for future dinners.

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat, then add the olive oil. Allow the oil to heat slightly, then sautee the portabellas and onions for about eight minutes before stirring in the minced garlic, basil, salt, and pepper.

Dave said it smelled like ravioli. I have no problem with that.

Although I generally have a heap of ‘stuffing’ left over, tonight’s mixture fit perfectly inside the stuffed peppers. Just like magic!


Bake, covered at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Top with cheese and bake uncovered for about 10 more minutes.

It’s like a present! I wonder what’s inside?

Oh yeah, food. I’m up for that.

I took a poll on Facebook for my next show to watch, and Breaking Bad ruled. Here I go!







Weekend of Indulgence

There’s a fine line between ‘indulgence’ and ‘overindulgence,’ and last weekend certainly bordered on the latter. Good food, drinks, and sweets were consumed in excess and with no exercise despite a brief stint of lawn dancing to Solace, I was definitely ready to go back to my regular routine.

My internet was down yesterday, which gave me time to relax after the fun and exhausting festivities of the weekend which started Friday after work.

Dave picked up sushi for a quick dinner. Grocery store sushi is getting better and better! These rolls were all delicious.

We drove out to the Illgen family farm soon after. I had a beer in hand in preparation for the blessing of the kegs.

Bill read an old blessing while we all linked arms, then toasted each other.

Moriah and I took a quick picture by the light of the silvery moon before Dave and I headed back home.

Saturday morning I finished burning my CDs for our Music Exchange. My list was kind of a quirky mix including artists like Fiona Apple, Flogging Molly, and Less than Jake.

After labeling the CDs, I mixed up my couscous salad, and we headed to the country again mid-afternoon for the fun to begin. And so it did.


Bill made a delicious vegetarian option of roasted eggplant and tomatoes, which I stuck inside a hamburger bun to get the picnic-style feel with my salads.


I think this is Dave’s fourth Illgenstock! He seems to enjoy it. 🙂

My sister Emily brought my niece Aurelia decked out in sunglasses and classy pink chucks. She was definitely ready to rock and roll.

Time for music! The first guy, Kevin, played his guitar behind his head for one song. Crazy.

I had a great time talking to old high school friends, my favorite usual gang, and some new friends! It was Tiffany’s first year at Illgenstock, and I’m pretty sure she had as much fun as the rest of us.

Sadly, the third band, Solace, had their performance cut short by the rain. That didn’t stop us from having a bonfire, though!

Nor did it stop us from jumping in the pool. My count this year was three times.

After a quick change of clothes for me, my friends met in the shed to complete our CD exchange–I received nine cds with new music I’m eager to listen to. In fact, I’m listening to one as I type this.

One of the last pictures of the night. We’re all blurry, which is how most of us felt at this point. As usual, Illgenstock was over too quickly, but I had a great time. I slept on the floor in my parent’s tea room for about six hours, then had a delicious breakfast including a veggie omelet topped with salsa, potatoes, and a piece of multigrain toast with nutella. Nom nom nom.

Then it was back to the city to celebrate my Aunt Dina’s birthday!

My brother Tyler grilled hamburgers, veggie burgers, and portabella caps.

Me with the birthday girl! Both of us look okay considering the lack of sleep from the night before….

I had a portabella cap with cheese, sauteed onions, tomato, and lettuce on a whole wheat bun. Couscous salad and pasta salad. And a big ‘ol hunk of watermelon.

My sisters made a beautiful and delicious lemon poppyseed Croc cake! (My Aunt Dina loves to wear Crocs)!

The last two days I have biked, done Ripped in 30, had a second phone interview, and am going to see Moonrise Kingdom with my sister Moriah, all while I remember how to write a cohesive blog post again.

It has certainly been too long.