Farmers Market Finds

26 Aug

Today is my last official weekday off before school starts. (Although we have next Friday & the following Monday off for Labor Day, so I can’t complain!)

So on my last carefree day, I decided to do a little back-to-school clothing shopping, then hit up a local farmers market. I had been to the Shillington Farmers Market once before, but on that visit I was there strictly for cupcakes. Today, I wanted to stock up on fresh fruit!

I was able to purchase 6 oranges, 4 Fuji apples, strawberries, 2 lemons (to use in a dinner recipe next week) & 1 avocado for $15.00!

I was a little shocked to arrive home from my errands & find this:

That would be a rather well-stocked fruit drawer! Chris usually eats a ton of fruit during the week, so I was surprised to see that we were actually good to go for a while yet.

What to do, what to do? I had recently won a giveaway on Chelsey’s blog for Clearly Fresh produce storage bags. According to the website…

“Clearly Fresh® bags are large clear zip bags (12” X 14”), with a breathable 3 inch square membrane on one side. Each pack contains 10 bags. These bags enable you to keep your fruits and vegetables fresher longer for less waste and more savings. Its large size, allows you to store an entire bunch of bananas or a whole head of lettuce with room to spare. PLUS the bags are re-closeable and recyclable.”

I packed up 2 Clearly Fresh bags with my extra apples & oranges, & I guess we’ll see what happens! 😉

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Backtracking to last night, Chris & I enjoyed another crock pot chicken meal that I’d like to share.

I modeled this dinner off of Campbell’s Slow Cooker Chicken in Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce, but made quite a few changes (sun-dried tomatoes are kind of expensive, in case you didn’t know!).

Slow Cooker Tomato Artichoke Chicken

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can Campbell’s condensed cream of chicken soup
  • About 1 cup white wine (I just “eyeballed” the amount I added)
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts (drained & chopped)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Basil

Directions:

  • Combine the soup, wine, garlic powder, artichoke hearts, & tomatoes in a slow cooker.
  • Add the chicken, & turn to coat the chicken with the soup mixture.

  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours (I did 8, but 7 would be plenty).
  • Serve chicken on a bed of brown rice, & top with extra soup mixture & basil.

This was a delicious & very filling meal. I actually couldn’t finish my portion, even though I really wanted to! (Stew wanted in as well!)

And I can’t forget to make mention of dessert – a peanut butter cup Blizzard from Dairy Queen!!! Heavenly.

What’s your favorite ice cream “treat”? Blizzards are pretty high on my list, but I love a good sundae too!

Three Easy Meals

25 Aug

With back-to-school on the horizon (I go back Monday!) I’m trying to build up my arsenal of quick, easy meals. Actually, I prefer that every meal I make is quick & easy, but it’s of the utmost importance when time is limited! Here are three easy meals I’ve made throughout the last week!

Stromboli

I saw this recipe for “garbage bread” on Courtney’s blog & decided to try it out for myself!

The most difficult part of this recipe for me was tracking down frozen pizza dough! I have no idea why it was so difficult to find, but I ended up finding whole wheat pizza dough at Wegmans.

First, I cooked up some fresh mushrooms, then chopped up some green pepper & onions to go inside our stromboli.

Before rolling everything up, I topped the pizza dough with some sauce, then piled in the rest of the goods.

Rolling up the stromboli got sort of messy. I think next time, I’ll concentrate the ingredients closer to the center of the dough! Next, I baked everything in a 350* oven for about 30 minutes!

  This was simple, delicious, & could make you feel like you’re eating a fun, “weekend” dinner any night of the week!

Chicken Quesadillas

Quesadillas have always been one of my go-to’s! In fact, when I lived on my own, it was something I made quite frequently, but usually I stuck to cheese quesadillas. These days, I realize how important it is to make sure I incorporate protein into my meals, so I’m not ravenous 30 minutes after eating!

First, I fired up my Crate & Barrel griddle (which has a completely flat surface on the other side; love that it’s double-duty).

I used leftover pulled chicken from our BBQ chicken, & started creating my quesadillas with a Wrap-Itz whole grain tortilla.

I layered salsa, shredded chicken, peppers, onions, & cheese, then grilled up the quesadillas to get everything nice & gooey!

I topped the quesadilla with some plain Chobani instead of sour cream. I loved that I could faintly see the grill marks on the outside of each quesadilla! 🙂

Trader Joe’s Lobster Ravioli (For One!)

Once a week, Chris & his band mates work on their music in a studio outside of Philly, which means I’m on my own for dinner that night.

While I’ve been trying to stay away from frozen/pre-made meals, I love Trader Joe’s lobster ravioli!

The list of ingredients is long, but at least I can pronounce everything! 😉

These cook up quickly – in about five minutes – & I like to top mine with vodka sauce & some parmesan cheese.

Something to keep in mind about this product, however, is the serving size. There was plenty for me to enjoy for dinner (served with a side salad), but there would definitely not be enough to serve both Chris & myself.

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of the post, I’ll reward you with this gratuitous picture of Stewie, resting on his new “birthday” toy. 🙂

Do you ever eat frozen/pre-made meals?

The Honeymoon, Day 5

24 Aug

If you’ve missed any of the other honeymoon re-cap posts, you may find them here (day 1), here (day 2), here (day 3), & here (day 4)!

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For our last full day in Disney, we decided to take it easy & visit Downtown Disney for a little shopping. It was a nice way to end the vacation!

Display in front of the Lego store!Eventually, we stopped somewhere for lunch. I believe I got some sort of wrap (I can’t remember anymore), but I was really excited to try a cupcake from Babycakes NYC (they had a tiny bakery area set up in the place where we ate).

Babycakes NYC cupcakes are refined sugar-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, vegan cupcakes! While I’m not vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, I’ve still heard of these cupcakes before & was excited to give them a try! I went with the red velvet:

Babycakes Red velvet

It was good, but I could sort of taste that this was a “healthified” cupcake. That didn’t stop me from eating every last bite though! 😉

After our walk around Downtown Disney, we ended up returning to our hotel & lounging around & napping! (Napping is the best, isn’t it?) I did not want to get up, but our dinner reservation at California Grill was calling our names!

California Grill is located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort & has really awesome views of the Magic Kingdom. There was actually a storm rolling in the night of our reservation & we could actually watch it progress closer & closer as we were eating our dinner!

I went with the scallops for my entree:

ScallopsI ate every last scallop, but not too much of the vegetables underneath. They had absorbed a lot of oil & I just wasn’t feelin’ it!

For dessert, I ordered some sort of banana caramel deliciousness!

Dessert  Afterwards, Chris & I spent a few minutes on the observation deck, & snapped a few pictures of the Disney property below:

Magic Kingdom Space Mountain Disney

Ferry boat Cinderella's castle

The following morning, it was time to head back home to PA! We had a wonderful time & a great honeymoon!

Heading home   Lucky for me, as our plane was landing in Philly, I was able to snap a few pics of Citizens Bank Park (go Phils)! 🙂

Home sweet home!   Phillies!

Do you enjoy traveling? I enjoy getting away, but I’m always happy to come home again!

Fish out of Water

23 Aug

Yesterday, my friend/co-worker/gym pal Sara & I decided to try a new class our gym was offering – BodyFlow.

BodyFlow(source)

BodyFlow is a Les Mills class, just like BodyPump, BodyStep, BodyCombat, etc. The only other Les Mills class I’ve tried is BodyPump & I love it! I try to make 2-3 classes per week (just check the Workout Log).

From the Les Mills website…

“BODYFLOW™ is the Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates workout that builds flexibility and strength and leaves you feeling centered and calm. Controlled breathing, concentration and a carefully structured series of stretches, moves and poses to music create a holistic workout that brings the body into a state of harmony and balance. Like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new BODYFLOW™ class is released every three months with new music and choreography.”

Well my gym “launched” BodyFlow on August 6th, but you might remember I was a little busy that day, & only got around to trying it yesterday.

This was the first yoga-type class I had taken in years & I definitely felt like a fish out of water!

hehe :)(source)

At one point the instructor was talking about “sweeping the energy” & I was thinking “say what?!” This was around the same time I heard the BodyPump music blasting next door & found myself longing for my normal routine!

As the class progressed, I felt a little more at ease, but this is definitely a class you have to do more than once to truly feel like you’ve “got the hang of it.” We all know I’m a creature of habit so I can’t tell if my apathetic feelings towards the class are because I truly don’t care for it, or because I am just way too used to my routine. I’ll have to go back at least once or twice & give it a second try. Maybe next time I’ll figure out how to sweep the energy! 😉

Favorite part of the class: The 5+ minutes of meditation (AKA laying on the floor with my eyes closed… yes!)

Least favorite part of the class: When the instructor told us to do “bird pose.”

Exhibit A:

Bird pose?!

(source)

Oook then! 😉

What do you think – should BodyFlow be given another chance? What’s the last “new” class you tried at the gym? Did you enjoy it?

The Honeymoon, Day 4

22 Aug

Before we get into the honeymoon, I have to wish my little pug, Stewie, a happy adoptive birthday! I picked him up from the shelter 2 years ago today & he’s been my little buddy ever since. 🙂

SAMSUNG            The “Birthday” Boy!

You can read more about Stewie’s story here!

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If you’ve missed any of the other Honeymoon re-cap posts, you may find them below:

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Chris & I decided to double-up on the fourth day of our honeymoon, visiting both Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios.

Animal Kingdom Hollywood Studios

                   (source)                                                   (source)

The first thing we did upon arriving at Animal Kingdom was the safari ride!

Harambe Wildlife Reserve We saw tons of different animals & lots of pictures were taken. (Chris & I are big animal people, so we loved this!)

Zebra Rhino Hippos

Giraffes   Up close!

Really close! Elephants Elephant

Next, we headed to a part of the park where you could actually pet & interact with different animals. They advertised this to be more than it was; it was actually just a petting zoo!

Notice anything unusual about this guys coat? 😉

Mickey ears!

Chris

Eventually, we headed to Hollywood Studios in search of lunch!

It was so hot this day. I told Chris that at one point, I felt like if I didn’t get in some AC I was just going to start freaking out! He’s so patient with me; he works outside in the heat & humidity daily so I know he was thinking “Oh please…” but he humored me & we headed to an indoor dining option ASAP. I didn’t take any pictures, because I’m pretty sure I just got a sandwich & fries & do you really need to see that again? 😉

We walked around Hollywood Studios for the rest of the afternoon & checked out some of the scenery & rides.

Hollywood Studios Hollywood Studios Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios Hollywood Studios After a lot of walking (& sweating!) we headed to our dinner reservation at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano inside the park.

Of course, the meal started with bread (this time with some oil for dipping)!

Bread & oil For dinner, I chose a margherita pizza; it was delish!

Pizza I can’t remember exactly what this dessert was, but Chris & I both ordered it & I’m pretty sure I cleaned my plate; surprise, surprise.

Dessert Chris & I both really enjoyed this meal & the atmosphere of the restaurant. Most of the places we ate throughout the week were really loud (of course they were crowded) but this place was a little more quaint & “homey.”

Mama Melrose'sOnly one more re-cap to go!

What’s your favorite Italian meal?

Baked Mac n’ Cheese

21 Aug

One of my favorite “daily e-mail” subscriptions is to Campbell’s Kitchen! Every day, a delicious, simple recipe is delivered straight to my inbox.

If you would like to sign up for their daily e-mails, you can visit the Campbell’s Kitchen homepage & enter your e-mail address in the “What’s for Dinner?” box in the lower right-hand corner!

For a few months now, I have saved the recipes that looked particularly easy (& yummy) for when I became responsible for cooking meals that would satisfy both Chris & I. I saved this particular recipe for baked macaroni & cheese from all the way back in March!

You can click here to check out the recipe on the Campbell’s Kitchen website, or simply follow the directions below! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 can Campbell’s condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 soup can milk (I used a little less than this.)
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • About 1 & 1/2 cups pasta (cooked & drained) (I used double this amount!)
  • 1 tbsp. plain, dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. butter, melted

Directions

  • Stir the soup, milk, black pepper, & pasta in a 1-quart baking dish. (I think my baking dish was actually 2 quarts & it made no difference!)
  • Stir the bread crumbs & melted butter together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the pasta. (I also added additional bread crumbs.)
  • Bake at 400* for 20 minutes (or until the mixture is hot & bubbling).

Makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients This much pasta, x2!

The recipe turned out great! It was full of cheddar cheese taste, but not to the point where it was “too much.”

Baking away... Hot & bubbly!

My only complaint about this recipe, was that the baking dish was really, really difficult to get clean! I probably washed it about 4 times & it still has marks from the cheese, but I gave up! 😉

I served my portion of mac n’ cheese with a big salad & called it an easy Friday night!

Salad Pasta

Do you tend to go out to eat on the weekends? I’d say Chris & I go out to eat or order take-out (usually pizza!) at least once a week!

The Honeymoon, Day 3

20 Aug

If you’ve missed any of my other Honeymoon re-caps you can find day 1 here, & day 2 here!

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For our second full day, we decided to head to Epcot.

Epcot Yes, I actually took this picture; I was pretty pleased with myself. 😉

The weather had improved since the previous day, & instead of getting rained on, we got hit with intense humidity. We both decided we’d take that over the constant rain though! 🙂

We spent our morning hitting up a few rides, & taking a walk around the World Showcase.

Looking in to the World Showcase Eventually, we worked up an appetite for lunch. I went with a turkey sandwich on some delicious, toasty, bread, which came with potato salad. I ate most of the sandwich & only a little of the salad. The salad was good, but very oily.

SAMSUNG            That little piece of heaven in the corner was some sort of s’mores dessert; it was awesome!

We spent the majority of our afternoon waiting in line for a relatively-new ride called Soarin’. From the Disney website

“Soarin’ is a multi-sensory attraction for big kids, teens and adults in Epcot theme park that simulates a peaceful hang-gliding flight over the Golden State of California.

Fasten your seat belt on the multi-passenger glider and be lifted 40 feet into the air….

Special cameras on airplanes and helicopters captured many of the shots and the glider moves the same way the aircraft did, so you really feel like you’re flying as you glide over such awe-inspiring vistas and landmarks as :

  • San Francisco
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Redwood Creek
  • Napa Valley
  • Monterey
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Camarillo
  • Anaza-Borrego Desert State Park
  • San Diego
  • Malibu
  • Los Angeles

Feel the wind in your hair. The air fills with the scent of orange groves, evergreens and the sea breeze. Your feet dangle free. Dip down so close to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, you think your toes will get wet. Then return to the sky and continue on Soarin’ to a fantastic finale where fireworks burst into sensational colors around you.”

It was pretty cool, but it couldn’t have lasted more than 4 minutes & we waited for over an hour. Oh well, I guess that’s what we expected when we decided to go to Disney during the summer. 😉

Soon enough, dinner time rolled around & we headed to our reservation at the Coral Reef Restaurant. We were lucky enough to be seated right by the “tank” & we got to watch all sorts of aquatic life as we dined.

Turtle Shark Fish

For my entree, I ordered the lobster ravioli, which was pretty tasty!

Lobster ravioliDessert was a molten chocolate cake that came with raspberry sorbet.

Dessert  The waiter made sure to include special pieces of chocolate that said “Congratulations” on them! How fun!

Congratulations Another day was in the books, & it was time for us to head back to our hotel. Before turning in for the evening, we snapped a few pictures when we got back to the resort!

Port Orleans      Chris & I

What’s the best trip you’ve ever been on?

Sweet Potato Meatloaf

19 Aug

This past Sunday, before Chris & I headed off to the grocery store, I perused some of my favorite blogs looking for some recipe ideas. I came across this recipe for sweet potato meatloaf on Julie’s blog & it seemed simple to make & something that Chris would really enjoy.

I was excited because this recipe gave me the opportunity to use some of my new kitchen stuff! I received these mini loaf pans as part of a bakeware set from Crate and Barrel at my bridal shower back in June:

New bakeware     First, I got all of my ingredients ready.

The goodsI followed Julie’s original recipe closely, but omitted the honey mustard because we didn’t have any. Instead, I turned to my new spice rack, also from Crate & Barrel & also a bridal shower gift, & saw mustard seed. I added a few shakes of the mustard seed, along with the garlic salt the original recipe called for.

Spicy!       Spices     Side-view spices       Another (small) change I made to the recipe was substituting lean, ground turkey for ground beef.

I mixed all of the ingredients (again, following this original recipe), sprayed each loaf pan with cooking spray, & popped them in the oven to bake for about an hour.

All mixed up         Mini loafs!       Ready for baking      When the meatloaf was close to being finished, I boiled some more fresh corn on the cob for Chris & I to enjoy as our side dish (just like the other day). This time, however, I used a method I learned from Rachael Ray to remove the corn from the cob.

If you’ve never seen her do this on one of her shows before, all you do is take a small bowl & place it upside down inside of a larger bowl. Then, you can hold your corn cob on the small bowl to keep it stable, & use a knife to remove the corn. It worked like a charm!

Rachael Ray's trick      Soon, the meatloaf was finished cookin’!

Ready for eating!     Crispy tops!

I served up one of the mini meatloaves, plus some corn for myself, but I only ended up eating about half of the meatloaf! It was good, but hearty, & the portion was a bit too large for me. Chris, on the other hand, ate his serving plus the remainder of mine, so I knew he enjoyed it as well!

Dinner is served Meaty!      Chris enjoyed his dinner a little later than me, since he has been working late this week. As he was eating, he asked why I always take pictures as I’m making the food, but never pictures of him enjoying the food! So with that, please enjoy these pictures of Chris enjoying his dinner. Take note of our little “beggar boy” in the corner of the second picture. 😉

Good stuff Is there any left for the pug?!

What’s your most-used kitchen tool/gadget? I’m having fun trying out all of my new stuff! I can’t wait to start using my food processor!

The Honeymoon, Day 2

18 Aug

If you missed the re-cap of Day 1, you may find it —> here!

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Our first full day in Disney, we decided to visit Magic Kingdom. Well, our first full day there also happened to be the one day where it rained – the entire day! Oh, except for when we were leaving the park; then it cleared up! 😉

Anyway, because of the bad weather, I don’t have too many pictures. I had a small backpack on & the backpack was underneath a poncho, so getting my camera out to take pictures (in the pouring rain!) was certainly not an easy task!

Not too long after arriving in the park, we were on the hunt for lunch. (We headed into the parks in late-morning/early-afternoon to avoid the crowds!) We found somewhere that looked like it would provide good food & shelter from the rain, so we headed inside!

I got a BBQ pork sandwich, that came with a side of fries. Well actually, I could have chosen apple slices, but… I didn’t! Chris & I joked by the end of the week that we never ate so many fries & pieces of bread as we did on this vacation!

LunchLunch was good, but the real star of the show was dessert! That was another thing Chris & I consumed in copious amounts – dessert! Most times it came with our meals, & who were we to reject what was ours?

I went with the carrot cake & can honestly say that I wasn’t expecting much. This was a “cafeteria-type” place, so I figured it would just be so-so.

Carrot cakeWell, I was wrong! The cake was good, but the frosting was amazing! I am a frosting girl & like the really sugary stuff & this was just perfect. 🙂

We spent the afternoon waiting in line for a few rides, & we even rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in what proved to be the heaviest rain of the day!

big-thunder-mountain-railroad(source)  

It had actually cleared up for a little & as soon as we got in line for this ride it started raining. Then it proceeded to rain harder & harder the whole hour we were waiting. When it was finally our turn, the car that held the previous riders was soaked! I had to keep my eyes closed the entire time to make sure my contacts didn’t slip out, Chris & I both ended up with puddles in our poncho-covered laps, & my hair was so soaked it looked like I just got out of the shower! But, we had fun & were laughing the entire time! 🙂

Eventually, we dried off & headed to our dinner at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. I started with some bread:

Bread Followed up by my entree of chicken parm:

SAMSUNG            And ending with dessert, which was some sort of lemon cake:

CakeAll of the food was good, but nothing too out-of-this world! We ate at a lot of places, & while none of our meals were bad, this probably wasn’t at the top of my favorites.

After dinner, we checked out a couple of shops, finally rode Space Mountain (it had been down earlier in the day) & finally decided to take our water-logged selves back to the hotel!

If you’ve ever been to Disney/Magic Kingdom, what’s your favorite ride? I love Space Mountain (even though I usually am not a fan of roller-coasters). And how cute is Peter Pan’s Flight?! 

Simple Summer Supper

17 Aug

I have a new BFF – my slow cooker! 😉

Yesterday, I used my slow cooker to help my simple supper come together quickly! I turned to Julie’s many pulled pork & chicken recipes for reference as I got to work!

First things first – I lined the crock pot with a Reynolds Slow Cooker liner (another time saver that makes clean-up a breeze).

Time saver!    I placed 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crock pot, seasoned them with salt & pepper, & added enough chicken stock to cover the chicken.

Chicken     Ready to cook!        I set the cooker to “low” & let it do its thing from about 9:30AM to 5:30PM.

When it was time to put dinner together, I boiled some fresh corn on the cob for about 10 minutes to serve as a side dish!

Boilin' Cookin' up     Next, it was time to put the pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches together. I placed the 3 chicken breasts in a bowl, & using 2 forks, easily shredded them up!

Cooked chicken    Ready for shreddin'       Pulled chicken     Next up was adding the BBQ sauce. Chris chose Sweet Baby Ray’s at the grocery store this week, & I have to say, he picked a winner! I started by adding a small amount, then mixed everything together & continued to add more sauce!

BBQ sauce     Ready for mixin'

Just as the sandwiches were coming together, the corn was ready as well.

Cooked corn     I placed a heap of the shredded chicken on top of an Arnold Whole Wheat Sandwich Roll & added a side of corn on the cob, topped with a little butter & pepper.

Arnolds     Dinner is served!

Simple supper

I loved how easy this meal was to assemble & clean up. Meals like this will definitely become “staples” for me when the school years starts up soon!

What’s your favorite simple & quick meal?