Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monday Mood Booster

I think most of us know that an outfit you feel fabulous in can make you walk a little taller, boost your confidence, and generally make your day a little better.  Do you ever do this on purpose??  I did. 

My office doesn’t have a strict dress code at all, but even still everyone pretty much dresses business/business casual most days and more casual on Friday (although if I felt like wearing jeans tomorrow no one would care...)

I also LIKE dressing up and usually always prefer dresses and skirts over pants, but I tend to mix it up depending on my mood and the weather.  This past Monday wasn’t anything special, but it was sunny out and I just felt like putting a little more effort in and it really did make me happier throughout the day!

I don’t know what it was exactly, but I just really liked this outfit!

(the lighting + iphone didn’t make for the best photo) 

  • Navy blazer – Banana Republic outlet
  • fitted white T-shirt
  • light pink skirt – Banana Republic (recently!)
  • grey tights – Nordstrom (DKNY)
  • navy belt – was my grandmothers
  • necklace – Forever 21
  • T-strap heels – Nordstrom (Seychelles)

Close up of the shoes! (Grey, gold, and yellow)IMG_0814

  These were one of those pairs of shoes that were on the sale rack and I loved, but of course was wondering what I’d wear them with.  I’m telling you, those are ALWAYS the shoes I end up loving most!!  Once you stop worrying about “matching” them to your outfit, they become  an awesome accessory that will add a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to a “normal” outfit!

Dinner Ideas: Quick and SUPER fast!

First, the quick.

Remember that incredible Mac and cheese I had at my aunts house??  The one that used “low carb” pasta??  Well I bought some.  I’m not trying to go low-carb or anything but it was actually really good pasta!

It’s Dreamfield’s brand pasta, and bonus points for having more fiber and less carbs :)


I like my pasta al dente and this had a superb chew to it!  LOVE it!

I had some asparagus on it’s last legs, and a handful of green beans to work with.

I was also in the mood for lemon and sun-dried tomatoes…but not just any sun-dried tomatoes!  The Santorini sun-dried tomatoes we brought back from our Honeymoon!


It’s crazy how different they are than the regular sun-dried tomatoes you buy!  The color is much darker and they have a much more rich, sweet, deep flavor.

Lemon + Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2-3 T chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • splash (approx 1/4 cup) white wine
  • juice and zest from 1 lemon (add less if you prefer…this was VERY lemony!!)
  • pasta of choice – about 1/2 box ( I used penne)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, hard ends removed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 2-3T ricotta (optional)

1. get water on the stove for your pasta
2. add olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat on medium
3. Add garlic and shallots, stir and sauté for 2-3 min
4. add sun-dried tomatoes, cook another 1-2 minutes
5. pour in wine, lemon juice, and zest and stir while scraping the bottom of the pan.
6. simmer on low
7. Meanwhile – cook pasta according to instructions on the box, while adding in the asparagus (or other veggies) for the last 1 min.
8. Strain pasta/veggies and add to sauté pan with the sauce.
9. Salt and Pepper to taste.

At this point I thought it was actually TOO lemony!!  Which is crazy coming from me, but this is when I stirred in a big heaping spoonful of part-skim ricotta and stirred that in.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese! (I used the Romano and it was fantastic)



BIG fan of this meal and this pasta!  Try it out!!


Now for something SUPER fast!!

I call this: Burrito (or tamale) Salad!

I suppose you have to like frozen burritos for this one, but I don’t think that’s a stretch for most people.  I love to cook, but having a couple savior items in the freezer is always good especially when you get home late and just want something super fast!

My current favorite product for this meal are Trader Joe’s tamale’s

(I actually like the beef version better than this chicken and cheese one)


  • Fill a bowl with your favorite salad items: baby spinach, lettuce, onions, peppers, carrots… 
  • Heat burrito or tamale according to instructions
  • Cut cooked tamale into pieces, and place on bed of salad
  • Top with salsa and sour cream
  • maybe even a squirt of fresh lime juice!



5 minutes later I had dinner.  I just used some baby romaine lettuce and chopped red bell pepper.


Sure you can use Greek yogurt for the sour cream (and I’m all for that substitution in baking or cooking), but for me, nothing beats real (light!)sour cream…mmm.

IMG_8489 Lovely.

About that salsa…  Homemade is the best, but we usually end up buying our salsa.  So what’s your favorite brand???  I can’t seem to find one I love.  This is Newman’s Own brand and so far I really like it, but I like trying out new ones!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dinner by Mom

Sunday night we meet again.  It was nice relaxing weekend, but I’m still not ready to go back to work tomorrow!  I’m getting that vacation itch, but unfortunately nothing’s on the schedule until June!! 

Like I said, relaxing weekend!  Friday was actually a night out at a charity even with lots of delicious wines and beers to taste.  Of course then all that wine led to a Saturday morning craving!


Bagel sandwiches and iced coffee!


This bad boy is from Bagel World, and is a whole wheat bagel with lite veggie cream cheese, egg, and tomato slices! 


With an iced snicker doodle coffee with milk.

Totally hit the spot!  Bagel World bagels are the best I’ve ever had around here (and by here I mean Massachusetts :).  

We’ll just call the rest of the day as “recovery” ;)  But we did a good amount of cleaning/organizing at the house and the obligatory weekend grocery shop!

Sunday was Long Run Day!  My foot has been feeling better which I am very happy about, but unfortunately these Sunday morning long dog training walks aren’t what my feet need the same day as a long run. 

My foot pain started to come back slightly from doing so much walking, and I was nervous about the run.  However, we set out for 6 miles and luckily it was a good one!

We drove over to the bike path in Lexington as we’re both getting tired of running near our house.  We did it as 3 miles out and 3 miles back with a short stretching break before the last 3.  Took us just under 1:03, which was a good pace for me :) 

The best part of this whole weekend though…??

Coming home from our run to find my mom at our house with a DELICIOUS meal ready to be eaten in no time at all!

She had her sisters over for a dinner party Saturday evening and luckily saved the leftovers for us.  I need to get these recipes and will be sure to share…she found the recipes in old cooking magazines she saved from the early 90’s haha!

Here we have…


Salmon filets, seared in rice paper with a vinaigrette topping which had soy sauce, ginger, pink peppercorns, lemon, orange, grapefruit, cilantro…and I’m sure more but that’s all I can remember. 

All she had to do was cook the salmon and re-heat the sides.



Roasted spring veggies!!  Baby fingerling potatoes, garlic cloves, leeks, onion, fennel, baby zucchinis (!!!), and baby artichokes. 


These veggies were served with a simple sauce consisting of cream and chives. 


SOOOOO Good!  Seems like it would be overwhelming with all the aromatics but roasting really mellowed them and it was delicious.

A rice salad made by one of my aunts.  It had slivered almonds and cranberries.  Again, must get recipe!


I was most MOST excited for dessert.

Snow Pudding.  In a fancy glass ;)


This is one of those “Family Recipes'”, but not really because if you Google it you’ll find it, but I’ve yet to meet anyone outside my family who’s ever had it!

Its best on a hot summer day, as it’s so refreshing, but it was a perfect ending to this meal.


The “pudding” is an egg white, lemony, gelatin mixture that has to set in the fridge.  It reminds me of a cool, lemony meringue! 

As the pudding uses egg whites, the sauce uses the yolks.  This is a simple, light, creamy, slightly sweet custard and is served on top. 


The combination is so light and refreshing…just amazing.  I haven’t had this in AGES!  But I definitely plan to make this myself once the temps start to rise!

Sitting down to this meal shortly after our run was such a treat.

Thanks Mom!!!!

After dinner I made a batch of Ellie’s Cherry Walnut bars to have for the week!  Forgot how much I love those bars!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend…only 5 more days til the next one ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mini Monkey Muffins

I really shouldn’t be surprised, but it gets me every time…we have GORGEOUS weather Friday and then snow on Monday :(  SO not cute Mother Nature!!

The weekend wasn’t quite as nice as Friday, but I’ll take it!  Plus it was still great weather to be outside.  Thankfully the snow fell on my rest day…and boy did I need a rest day!

My schedule won’t always fall this way (luckily), but this weekend I had TWO dance rehearsals and had to fit in a run! 

Friday I had rehearsal from 6pm-9pm – once again, kicked my patootie!  Seriously though, this dance performance is going to be way harder than that half-marathon.  It’s like sprinting for 5 minutes straight and that’s only one of the pieces.

Needless to say my legs weren’t exactly “fresh” for a long run Saturday, but my foot is just starting to feel back to normal so I didn’t want to push it.  We only did 3.5 miles, but honestly I think that’s all I could take at the time. 

On Sunday I had dance rehearsal again from 6pm-8pm, and to make matters worse we had an off-leash group dog walk that morning.  Typically these walks are very leisurely, but of course the location on Sunday was VERY hilly!  Normally I love hills, but it was just one more thing my legs did NOT need.   He loved it though :)


Oh well, like I said, my schedule will not be like this often.  However my legs are screaming at me now. I think it’s high time I schedule a real massage :)

Somewhere in the middle of all this activity I got around to baking!!

Brian has been pestering asking me lately to make him Monkey Bread.  I’ve actually never had it, but I know what it is and it does sound delicious!! 

Then I remembered coming across this recipe from Joy the Baker!

So I got to work.


She described the dough as basically a pizza dough, and so I knew it would be a relatively simple process which worked best with my schedule that day.  I made the dough in the morning, and let it rise while we were out with the dog.

NOTE: I used half whole wheat flour and half white whole wheat flour.  I think if I did these again I would use half all purpose flour/half white whole wheat.  I really like them, but they might be a bit too “whole wheat” tasting for some…but truthfully I only had about 1/2 cup APF left so I had no choice!!

Mini Monkey Muffins 
adapted from Joy The Baker

1.5 cups Whole Wheat Flour (see note above about flours)
1.5 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 T olive oil
1 T honey

2 T flour
1/2 cup granulated flour, divided
1 tsp ground cinnamon

4 T butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup 1% milk (I used skim and it was fine)
Raisins (about a handful, optional)

IMG_8349 Dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook attachment, add flours, salt, and instant yeast.  Mix with a spoon.  Measure out warm water and add honey to warm water, stir until mostly dissolved.  Place bowl in mixer and turn on low.  Slowly add water/honey, and olive oil.  Mix with dough hook on low/med-low for about 1 min. 
Transfer to a bowl that has been sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.  Flip dough once so all sides are coated with the oil and cover bowl with plastic wrap. 

Leave dough for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.

**refer to original recipe for non-stand mixer instructions

Once dough has risen, dump out onto a floured counter or board and gently pat the air out (be nice to your dough!).  Fold into a ball and let sit for 20-30 more minutes. 
Preheat your oven to 350

In a small bowl mix together 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.
IMG_8357 Now take out your dough, and gently work it out until it is about 3/4” thick.

Then I took a pizza cutter and sliced long thin strands of dough.  Then cut each strand into little bite size pieces.  Like so:
Keep going until it’s all cut up…but DON’T DO THIS!

Putting all your freshly cut dough bites in a pile results in STICKAGE!  I had to then re-separate a lot of the pieces.  So just give them some room :)

I then tossed 2T of flour over the dough, then my cinnamon sugar mixture and tossed to coat.

Meanwhile I made the “sauce”.  In a small saucepan over med-low heat I combined: the other 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, butter, and milk.  I heated this mixture for about 5 minutes until smooth.  You don’t want this to boil. 

This is when you add your raisins.  I added some to the sauce. 

Now grease your muffin tin.  I sprayed mine with canola oil spray. 
I tried to do a layer of dough balls, then sauce, then repeat but I think the best is to just fill up your muffin tins equally with dough chunks, and then spoon sauce over each pile.


Next I would recommend placing muffin tin on a larger cookie sheet incase of spillage…
Gooey caramely spillage!  (not quite as pretty on the bottom of my oven)

Let cool in pan for about 10min and transfer to cooling rack.  Then enjoy :)


Mini Monkey!IMG_8385
That caramel sauce is pretty addicting…I was using my finger to get the excess out of the emptied muffin tin :) 

Warm, doughy, cinnamon, raisin, sticky, caramel.  Yes please. 

Now if only that warm weather would return…

What’s your favorite stretch!???  I’ve been getting better with stretching, but now I need it for running AND dance…I have new flexibility goals more associated with dance but I’m wondering what some of your favorite stretches are so I can get some new ideas!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Wow.  I am just a ball of creativity when it comes to blog post titles.

That would stand for 5K + Cake!  Clearly.

First off… Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!  Are you wearing green??  I totally get this from my mom…always wearing Green on St Patty’s day, pink or red on Valentines Day…etc.  Cheesy, but it also does help me pick out my clothes a little easier by narrowing down my choices ;)  I am also noticing a lot of green around the office so clearly I’m not alone here!

Here’s my glamour shot for today…complete with background bathroom accessories!


Green sweater dress – Banana Republic
Scarf – Old Navy
Brown Tights – Nordstrom (DKNY….BEST tights!!)
Over-the-knee brown suede boots – Chinese Laundry (via Macy’s like 3 years ago when I saw them on Gossip Girl hehe)


I’ve always wanted to do some “fashion” on the blog, but just never got around to it…too much good food to photograph apparently.  I also really need to find a better way to get these pictures done!


Plans today??  Beer? Potatoes?  Corned beef and cabbage?? 

In some ways I wish I could head into Boston and go to a pub or two, but I’ve always had a love-HATE relationship with “going out” on this day.  Sounds like its going to be nice out, but usually it’s COLD, and unless you can take the day off work and go in EARLY, you wait in line for at least an hour at any of the bars in Boston, only to be crammed in, pay extra in cover charges, and other than that it’s no different than any other night out at the bar.  One year it was so cold, and after waiting in line for about 1.5 hours to get into a not-so-special bar near Faneuil Hall, my feet were numb and I was too annoyed with the whole situation to even have a good time.  So yeah, I’m not a huge fan anymore. 

Enough of that…onto my cakes and 5K haha!

I hope you all took advantage of a free petite treat from Starbucks last weekend??  I sure did…twice. 

Back Camera

That would be one of their new Cake Pops!  This was the Birthday Cake flavor, and I am officially in LOVE! 

They first reeled me in with the work PETITE!  I am a lover of all food items that come in miniature sizes.  Sometimes all I need is a taste to satisfy a craving.  

I ordered a small iced non-fat latte, and picked out a free Cake Pop in the Birthday Cake flavor. 

**Bonus points for being pink and with sprinkles!"**

Back Camera

It’s like funfetti on a stick.  I mean, yeah, it tastes like your standard boxed cake/canned frosting combo…but don’t you ever just crave that canned vanilla frosting?!  I never make it, but if there is funfetti cake around, I am PSYCHED!  

Back Camera

I remember seeing cake pops from Bakerella years ago and thought they were adorable and sounded awesome.  I think I am going to have to try my hand at these soon! 

The mixture of cake and frosting, makes like a cake-truffle consistency.

I even managed to save a small bite for Brian who was equally enamored by this little pink ball of joy. 

So, of course, the next day we plan a long walk with the dog to…Starbucks!

You’d think I’d try one of the other petite treats, but no, Birthday Cake Pop was on my mind.  With a half Passion-half Black iced tea!

Back Camera

Back Camera 
When I opened the paper bag, Bromley decided he wanted some…  Sorry dude, water only for you!

Back Camera

Enough cake…for now.

Sunday was the Ras ne hEireann in Davis Square.  Luckily this year the weather was 10 times better than last year!  Even though last year was still my best time…probably didn’t help that there were probably 3000 MORE people than last year. 

Pre-Race Breakfast:


TJ’s Sprouted Wheat bread toast, with PB and a little raspberry preserves, a banana on the side, and an iced latte


We arrived with just enough time to meet up with my friend who had our numbers, get my gear on, and get to the start! 

Unfortunately, on our walk from the car to the race my foot started bothering me.  Hmmmm, why now?!  It wasn’t bad, just a slight pain, and this was the first I’ve felt any foot pain in over a year! 

So then we race! 

I had a momentary panic about 30 seconds before it started when my iPod wasn’t working!!!!  Thankfully a re-boot fixed things…phew!  My Garmin was also dead…woops, lesson learned. 

I felt good and Brian and I stayed together the whole time.  There was a good amount of weaving in and out of people, and it was SOOO frustrating at the end when I was trying to speed to the finish…the last segment is on a bike path and this caused MAJOR bottlenecking.  Basically I had to slow down a bit, try and run on the mud to get around people, and then there was no choice but to slam on the breaks when you reached within 30’ of the finish line.  So I had to walk, SLOWLY WALK, the last 30-40 seconds…grrrr.  

Officially, my time was 31:01, but I’d like to think I would of finished a lot sooner if it weren’t for the MASS amount of people squeezing down the bike path.  Oh well. 

Of course once we finished (and I had to buy water because they ran out!) the foot pain came back.  Dammit!  This was different than the plantar fasciitis pain I had last year, this is more on the outside/bottom of the foot.  Hurts more wearing flats/sneakers…pain goes away in high heels surprisingly!  So I’ve rested it since then, aside from Hot Yoga Tuesday night, and it’s going away but it’s still not gone completely.  :( 

On the bright side, I had a delicious post race lunch at Cambridge 1 in Harvard Sq with Brian and my bff Jocy!


We started with an arugula salad with parmesan, olive oil, and lemon juice.

 Back Camera

Then split 2 pizzas:

spinach, artichoke hearts, chevre, slow roasted tomatoes:

Back Camera

and Italian sausage, ricotta, tomato, fontina: Back Camera

They were both incredible!!  Super thin crisp crust and all the toppings were so fresh.  I was lucky enough to save some leftovers to have for lunch the next day.

Cambridge, 1. on Urbanspoon

We also grabbed a few cupcakes after the race from Kickass Cupcakes in Davis Sq. 

Brian got a Red Velvet


I opted for the “Lucky” - luscious lemon cupcake with white chocolate buttercream and candied ginger, comes with a fortune


I found the cupcakes to be good, not great, but the “fortune” was hilarious:IMG_8280That says: “If life is a garden, you don’t want to be a hoe” 

So true, so true.

Had to get a PupCake for the Bromster…


He devoured itIMG_8281

Any fun Green plans today??  Green beer?? 
I have a “normal” Thursday…work, gym, and dog training class!  I’m hoping to get some cardio in so I think I’ll stick to the elliptical today…thank god I brought a magazine!!