Free Day

*Warning: If you do not like pictures of babies, you will not like this post!*

Today was my day off this week, and I used it to cash in my birthday gift from my Aunt Dina–a free lunch! 🙂

After finding several places closed, we ended up at Nicolet Restaurant, a cafe in De Pere that I actually use to work at when I was in high school. Perusing the menu as a ‘humaneitarian’ was interesting–nearly everything had meat in it. No-meat options included a tuna salad sandwich, grilled cheese, or a Seaburger (as in, we have no idea what kind of fish or sea creature is in here). I opted for the Seaburger as the healthiest choice with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and onions.

Along with an unimpressive side salad.

I picked off most of the croutons and ate about 1/4 tsp of the bright pink ‘raspberry vinaigrette.’ If there was any actual vinegar in there, I’ll eat my hat. I really wish restaurants could get side salads right. They seem to make them for people who desire any vegetable they can choke down quickly to cancel out their impending calorie-laden dish. News flash: iceberg lettuce won’t do it. But to each his or her own. I just want a good side salad once in awhile.

Nicolet Restaurant does breakfast extremely well (delicious Belgian waffles!), but they have yet to master lunch and dinner. Nonetheless, my Seaburger was quite good, and beggars can’t be choosers. The company more than made up for it; it was fun to have lunch out for a change with Aunt Dina and my sister Moriah.

And….Baby A!

She is clearly into pickles. Good girl. I haven’t seen Aurelia in nearly a month, so I was so happy to see that she’s gotten even more adorable. Damn babies, being all cute and such.

Her interest in the world has increased tenfold as has her interest in grabbing everything near her: hair, earrings, crackers, iced tea, napkins, etc.

I also got to visit with my grandma today. She was clearly more interested in Aurelia, but  I can’t blame her. She thinks Aurelia is the cutest baby ever and doesn’t hesitate to let her grandchildren know.

The best part of my day was blowing raspberries on Aurelia’s stomach and listening to her laugh. My Uncle Howie took over afterwards.

Is there anything more adorable than the babbling-brook sound of a baby laughing?

Yes.

After my visit, I did some grocery shopping, then headed home to finally use the spring roll wrappers that I bought months and months ago.

Fillers included: romaine, cucumber, avocado, red cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and shrimp (not pictured because it was thawing and I forgot about it).

The spring roll wrappers were pretty easy to use. I filled a bowl with hot water (about dish water hot), then individually submerged each wrapper into the bowl for about thirty seconds.

The ‘cooked’ wrapper was a bit like saran wrap; it stuck to itself but with a little effort, wasn’t too difficult to straighten out.

Not bad for my first try! I had three of these dipped in my very favorite sauce, the one I use for my Thai Tofu Peanut Stir Fry.

The spring rolls were good. The spring rolls dipped in the peanut sauce were awesome.

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New Brussels Sprout Recipe

Well, I got my protein in at lunch in the form of peanut butter, some healthy carbs and whole grains in the form of a whole wheat English muffin and a bit of vegetable couscous salad, and my apple…in the form of an apple.

For dinner, I wanted to try out a new cooking method for brussels sprouts. I love them roasted and grilled, but I was interested to see if I would love them as much a little less crispy.  After a bit of searching, I was inspired by a recipe I found on Food Network.

  • 1 1/2 cups brussels sprouts
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Trim the bottom end of the brussels sprouts leaving the core intact, and pull off the outer dark leaves. Halve through the core.

Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water.

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add brussels sprouts and cook about 10 minutes, or until browned.

 

Stir in vinegar, salt, pepper, and bacon.

Unfortunately for me, I have not yet been able to find humane certified bacon, so I used Morning Star soy bacon.

 

No, it’s not as good as the real deal, but for hurting people like me, it does the trick. Happy pigs, where are you?!

For my protein, I baked a salmon filet at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.

In a desperate attempt to incorporate some sort of berry into my dinner, I almost considered a blueberry sauce for the salmon…but I just wasn’t feeling it. I thought an avocado sauce would make a much nicer accompaniment.

I felt bad for letting Bob down on the very first day until I had an epiphany–avocados are berries! Boy, did that save me from what could have been a very…interesting….dinner.

  • 1/4 avocado, mashed
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • dash of lime juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Whip together all ingredients, and heat before serving.

 

Sauteed brussels sprouts? Not as good as roasted, but still pretty delicious. With real bacon, I’m sure they would have been fantastic. The combination of sweet and tangy apple cider vinegar with the saltiness of the ‘bacon’ was really good.

 

And I’m not complaining about the salmon either. But I never do.

Shrooms

My initial plan for the oyster mushrooms I picked up from the farmer’s market was to make a mushroom pizza. But, having had pizza for dinner both Friday and Saturday night and pizza for breakfast this morning, my plans changed. I like pizza as much as the next red-blooded American, but four times in as many days seemed a bit excessive.

Savory Mushroom Frittata…..that’ll do nicely

  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium pan over medium heat, heat olive oil and butter. Add mushrooms and onions to pan and saute for about five minutes, or until onions become translucscent.

Add spinach and stir for two more minutes. Mix in spices.

 

(Great way to get veggies in–spinach turns to practically nothing when sauteed!)

Turn heat to medium low, pour in egg whites and let mixture sit for about three minutes or until puffy. Sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake uncovered at 375 for 5-7 minutes.

I feel bad that I haven’t taken advantage of our farmer’s markets as often as I could have this summer. Veggies at the farmer’s market are cheaper, more delicious, and their purchase supports local farmers while leaving a shorter carbon trail. Frankly, there’s no good reason not to shop local. (Those peaches spoke for themselves).

Part of the reason I started pondering this is because I finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver today. I can’t recommend this book enough. Barbara documents a year in food life as she and her family make an effort to consume only that which they can produce themselves or obtain locally. I am amazed at her family’s willingness to sacrifice their guilty pleasures as they voyage into a new dimension of food consumption: eating in season. (They didn’t even eat bananas)!

I think I have been doing well at making most most of my meals and using fresh, healthy ingredients, but something I need to work on is consuming less processed food. Frankly, processed food is a trigger food for me: I find it nearly impossible to eat just one serving of pretzels, pita chips, or even dried fruit. Don’t even get me started on trail mix.

And while I don’t think there is anything wrong with processed food once in awhile, I’m going to try to make more of an effort to consume less foods with added sugar or salt as an experiment to see if I have fewer cravings for them.

Fresh and healthy, all the way! Of course, popcorn won’t count in this experiment…:)

Peaches for Me

All right, Bob. Let’s do this.

 

I have to admit, it is refreshing to work out with a man for a change. Especially one that’s, as my grandma would say, “easy on the eyes.”

 

Bob’s ‘Cardio Coniditioning’ consists of a one hour long workout I killed myself with on Saturday and a 25 minute lower body workout that is fixated more on balance and toning. Since my body is still a bit sore from Saturday, I opted for the shorter workout this morning, adding crunches, push-ups, and jumping jacks before the cooldown for some added cardio.

The shorter workout went by in a flash and, although the balance poses were tough, there were very few intense cardio moves at all. Great for a low-energy day.

I had a craving for a French Vanilla Smoothie this morning, but something even more brilliant came to mind in using my last fresh peach.

Juicy Peach Pizza

  • 1 whole wheat flabread
  • 1/2 peach, thinly sliced
  • 1 oz mozzarella cheese
  • fresh basil
  • balsamic vinegar

 

Layer flatbread with mozzarella and peach slices. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the peaches, then top with fresh basil. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted.

 

I happen to have very good ideas once in awhile.

Shut Your Pie Hole and Start Baking!

I get really antsy when I don’t have plans on the weekend. Dave loves it when he’s trying to relax after a sixty-hour workweek, and I’m tugging on his shirt saying “What are we gonna dooooo today?”

I usually end up baking and/or cleaning, because I feel guilty watching TV when it’s sunny outside. (At times like these, I wish I lived in a house, so I could piddle around in my very own garden…) If I do watch TV, I shut the blinds, so I can pretend it’s nighttime, and I’m not being lazy.

So far today, I opted for baking and cleaning. Since this is a food blog, I will spare you photos of a Chel-hair covered sink counter, the blue ring around the inside of our toilet, and the orange spots on the tub ledge from leaving my wet Warrior arm guards sit on it after Warrior Dash last weekend.

Pictures of food are always better. Since I have almost devoured all my Farmer’s Market peaches, I decided to get to work on the rhubarb today with Rhubarb Streusel Muffins and Rhubarb Strawberry Pie.

Rhubarb Streusel Muffins

 

Streusel Mixture:

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp Stevia
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly

Muffin Mixture:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp Stevia
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup diced rhubarb

To make streusel: combine all ingredients, and stir until crumbly, but held together. Set aside.

 

To make muffin mixture: Whisk egg with both of the sugars. Stir in butter, then yogurt.

 

In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly incorporate flour mixture into wet mixture. Resist the urge to over-stir! 

Fold in diced rhubarb.

 

Mix in 1/3 of the streusel mixture. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups, and top with streusel mixture.

 

I used my silicone muffin cups, which are sometimes hard to clean, but they are eco-friendly and make cleaning the pan a cinch. A fair trade-off.

 

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until tops are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

Recipe adapted from: smittenkitchen.com

*****

I thought these muffins were fan-frickin’-tabulous: a perfect combination of sweet and tangy. Dave was not as impressed, but he is not a fan of rhubarb. So take my word for it.

I had plans to freeze the rest of the rhubarb to make rhubarb chili on a cold day….but I was still antsy.

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie

  • pie crust
  • streusel topping
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Stevia
  • 1/3 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 4 cups rhubarb, sliced

I did something completely different this time and made an oil pastry pie crust. Since I haven’t tried this yet, I’ll have to give you an update on my thoughts about it. In the meantime, use your favorite pie crust recipe!

Pie crust:

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Canola oil
  • 4 tbsp milk

In a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt. Add oil and milk to flour mixture. Stir lightly with a fork. Add more milk if necessary, then form pastry into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie crust into a 12 inch circle. Press into pie plate. Do not prick pastry.

 

 

In a separate bowl, combine sugars, flour, and cinnamon. Gently stir in strawberries and rhubarb until well coated. Fill pie crust with rhubarb-strawberry mixture.

 

I am a huge fan of crumb toppings for pies, as opposed to another pie crust. I like the extra crunch on top, as well as the fact that I don’t have to roll out two pie crusts.

For this pie, I made the same streusel topping I used for the muffins, then sprinkled it over the rhubarb-strawberry mixture.

I tend to bake a lot of pies around the holiday season, and every year, I fight with the aluminium foil when I try to wrap my beautiful, ceramic pie plates with slippery foil. Last year, after nearly breaking down in tears one day, I asked for a pie crust cover from Dave’s parents. They delivered a wonderful silicone pie crust to stop all my frustrated tears from October to December.

Since Dave isn’t really a fan of pies, and I have no business eating an entire pie myself, I haven’t used this since I received it in December. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to test it out today before the pie-baking extravaganza that will occur as soon as my parent’s apple trees produce until after New Year’s.

Bake pie at 375 degrees for 25 minutes with pie crust cover. Remove cover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

 

Smells delicious. Now I will stare at it until I decide where to bring it. Or go to the store for vanilla ice cream and plunk down with a fork. In front of the TV. With the blinds closed.

 

Happy Friday!

I’m in a good mood this morning.

I didn’t exercise. I didn’t eat breakfast. But I did have an early job interview that I think went well. I’m not getting my hopes up this time, but keep your fingers crossed for me, anyway!

Since I have no fun pictures of me sweating followed by pictures of food, it’s time for a survey! (You’re welcome, John).

Questions People Don’t Ask Survey

1. When is the last time you ran?

Last week Saturday, during Warrior Dash. This is probably the coolest picture you will ever find of me running.

2. Do you buys jeans with rips, tears, or holes in them?

I have one pair of jeans that I bought with rips and holes. For a span of several years, it seemed like the only kind of jeans you could buy had either rips, bleach spots, or were ‘mom’ jeans.

I opted for rips.

3. What are you dreading right now?

Not getting a phone call back about my interview…

4. How do most people spell your name?

Chelsey or Chelsie. I think Chelsea (the correct way) is much classier, though; don’t you?

5. What do you do on lazy days?

Wear yoga pants, read, and/or watch TV. All day long.

6. Do you own a pair of Converses?

Two pairs of real Chucks: one green and one clear. And one pair of knock-off black ones.

7. Do you eat raw cookie dough?

As a habit, no. But I did have a dollop when my sister and I made chocolate chip cookies the other day.

8. Have you ever kicked a vending machine?

No; I prefer to pound on the glass with my fist.

9. At what age did you find out Santa wasn’t real?

I don’t really remember…I think around 8 or 9. I was furious with my parents for lying to me and vowed I would never do that to my children. But I probably will.

10. What are you doing tomorrow?

If all goes as planned, I am going crabbing (crawfishing, really) at my friend’s parent’s house in the country.

11. Do you return your cart?

Yes! I hate when people leave shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot. Grr….

12. Do you know anyone with the same name as you?

I actually met another Chelsea Leahy on Facebook in college, and we became internet friends. She got married around the same time I did, and has a different last name now. but she seems like a pretty awesome person, so there must be something about the name…

13. What’s the last thing you purchased?

Francis Coppola Pinot Noir.

14. What brand are the pants you’re wearing right now?

I’m not wear—okay, New York & Company. But they’re from Goodwill. 🙂

15. Have you ever been to Georgia?

Nope; the furthest south I’ve been is Virginia.

16. Do you like sushi?

No.

I love sushi.

 

Thursday Snack Plate

My grand plans to make an sauteed oyster mushroom, spinach, and fresh mozzarella pizza were put on the back burner tonight.

When I got home, my Davy was still up, and after we finished talking, I was in no mood to cook, just a mood to eat. My stomach is on a schedule, and when it wants food, I can’t argue.

Snack plate, it is.

Fenugreek Jack goat cheese (purchased at the Farmer’s market earlier this summer), carrot sticks from yesterday’s market, grapes, whole wheat pita chips, spicy pickled green beans. And a glass of delicious Pinot Noir.

I love being able to afford good wine once in awhile now.

A perfectly satisfying and quick dinner.

Pizza is a Friday thing anyways, isn’t it?

Chel’s Addiction

When I first tried Extreme Shed and Shred on June 2nd, I said: “This workout was really fun! It was actually pretty easy, but I think it will be a great addition for mornings when I don’t feel like I have a lot of energy.”

Ha ha, Chel. Well played.

I did Level 1 again this morning, and while some parts I may have classified as ‘easy,’ I’m not sure why I would have used that adjective to describe shadow boxing with weights or lateral burpee jumps. Crazy girl.

Not as crazy as Bashira, though! That girl has the kind of determination I aim for.

I have an addiction to this ridiculously delicious French Vanilla Smoothie. I’m going to have to switch up my breakfast soon, though, or my pictures are all going to be repeats.

I also think I might have to change the name. I initially posted ‘French Vanilla’ because I used Intense French coffee and added vanilla extract, but I’m sure I won’t always use Intense French and there’s cocoa powder in it. Oh well; what’s in a name? A coffee smoothie by any other name would taste as sweet. 🙂

No need to worry about a repeat dinner tonight–I’m trying something new with a few of my Farmer’s Market finds.

 

 

 

Markets and Cookies

After bumming around at home this morning, I decided to go spend the day with my sister Moriah and visit my grandma. Unfortunately, Grandma wasn’t feeling too well and spent most of the time sleeping. She felt bad that she wasn’t up to visit, but I assured her I’d rather have her get better so we can have a good visit when she’s feeling well.

I brought lunch for Moriah and I to eat from Panera—Italian Combo with chips for her, Greek Salad with a multigrain baguette for me.

Dressing on the side, per usual. This salad is so flavorful, it really doesn’t need dressing, anyway. I forked a few dollops on and threw the rest away.

I haven’t had many of the other salads at Panera, but this one is top notch. Kalamata olives, hearty chunks of romatoes, red onions, feta, and pepperoncini–it’s pretty much perfect.

Afterwards, I dragged Moriah to the Farmer’s Market with me. Fortunately, she didn’t put up much resistance. 🙂

Tonight’s market was perfect; there weren’t as many people crowding the sidewalks as usual, so we had plenty of room to walk and shop. (Driving through rush hour traffic though? Not so much fun).

I snacked on a delicious peach as we walked around. It was fairly crisp but the flavor was amazing–I almost preferred it to an overly ripe and juicy peach. Not as messy!

Then Moriah and I shared a Savory Galette.

I was expecting the base to be like a focaccia, but it tasted more like pie crust. Unfortunately, I wasn’t overly impressed with the flavor–it needed a little more oomph. Moriah wasn’t overly impressed with the fact that she has to pose for pictures for her sister’s food blog.

I left the market with:

  • peaches
  • rhubarb
  • carrots
  • fresh mozzarella
  • brussels sprouts
  • oyster mushrooms
  • grape tomatoes
  • lamb
  • sirloin steak

I am more than ready for some good meat, and I’m lucky that the Farmer’s Market provides grass fed, pasture raised lamb and beef. Well worth the higher price tag, in my opinion. I’m thinking about using the lamb for shepherd’s pie and the steak for…grilled steak. Covered with caramelized onions and mushrooms.

When we got back, Moriah asked if I wanted to bake some cookies with her. Is that a real question? After heading to the store to pick up a missing ingredient (brown sugar), we started baking away. My sister Moriah has always baked the best chocolate chip cookies, so I was glad to have the opportunity to make them with her.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the recipe, but I may remember what went into it….

Cream together 3/4 cup melted butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup white sugar in a bowl. Mix in 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk (and herein lies the secret to extreme chewiness).

Mix in one teaspoon of vanilla.

Meanwhile, sift together 2 cups flour and 1 tsp baking soda. Slowly incorporate flour into wet mixture.

Mix until just combined, then stir in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.

Spoon onto an ungreased baking sheet.

And bake for 15-17 minutes at 325 degrees. (Mo, let me know if I screwed up the recipe!)

Eat one immediately.

Hanging out with Moriah = pretty fun time.

Exercise, Eat, Repeat

Some things are too good not to repeat.

Like the sweaty, riding-on-a-wave feeling after you’ve finished a workout.

When I don’t feel like exercising, I envision the feeling I have after I work out and remember it will be mine in less than an hour. That feeling is enough to make me lace on my shoes.

Some recipes are also too good not to repeat.

Especially ones that make you feel like you’re cheating breakfast. French Vanilla Smoothie, I’m so glad you came into my life.

This morning, I added a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt for an extra creamy consistency.

 

Then I imagined myself sitting in Ye Olde Soda Shoppe while a barbershop quartet sang Mister Sandman to me while I sipped my milkshake-like breakfast.

Imagination is something worth repeating.