January 27, 2014

A Very Wonderful and Gunner-full Weekend!

It's time for a weekend re-cap! I know I haven't done one in ages!
I will pre-warn you, if you don't like to hear people gush about their dog, you can stop reading this post now, because it's mostly about my furry child, Gunner. Other than Friday night, a majority of my weekend revolved around him (big surprise).
Friday night, as I had mentioned before, James and I celebrated our three year anniversary. We went out that night rather than trying to rush it on Tuesday, when it actually was. I had made reservations at one of our favorite places, Kyoto. It is a Japanese steakhouse where they cook your food in front of you. If you haven't experienced something like that GO. Go now! It's absolutely one of my favorite places to go and its different than your average night out. Perfect date night. 
(They lost our reservation and we had to wait 35 minutes, but it was STILL worth it)

 After dinner we went and hang out with some of my friends down town. It was extra special because I don't get to see or hang out with these girls often, and we had an absolute blast!
Saturday I had a hair appointment in the morning, and then relaxed most of the afternoon with James. Later that day I met up with some other friends for a doggie play date. Gunner and his friend Kodiak (husky puppy) played and played and played! Where do they get this kind of energy?!
Sunday revolved mostly around Gunner. Started off with a trip to the dog park. Kodiak and his parents met us there, and my dad even came with their dog Bailey. Dog party! It was really great, minus the cold. So ready for the inversion to be over! 
Here's a video of how the dog park usually is for me - repeated about 1,000 times.
Then it was bath time for Gunner. And he sure did need it. I take him to Emerald Street Kennels by our house to use their DIY doggie baths. Gunner is not a fan. But we made it through. 
Warn out from a busy morning!
Then it was time for my own pampering - I tried a coconut oil hair mask. I will do a post on it next time I do it, because my hair is SOOOO SOFT today, even after having it colored this weekend!
A couple down time hours at home and Gunner and I were off again, to my parents. Where he plays with Bailey every Sunday. It was a big day for him. Had to tuck him in early.
Since I'm on my own Sunday (James works), I am so glad I have my furry best friend to keep me company! 

TTFN Friends!
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January 23, 2014

Healthy loaded taco bake!

As part of my new job, I get government holidays now (WAHOO!!!). This means I had all MLK Day at home to be productive.

The result was a happy dog, a cleaner, more organized house and LOTS of pre-made meals!

(For some reason I couldn't get my photos to line up correctly for this, so bear with me...)

This loaded taco bake was one of them. I'll be honest, I completely made this up. I am thrilled with the result though! It is LOADED with veggies, sweet potatoes, quinoa and black beans. It does have some un-healthy parts (cheese and sauce), but to me the healthy goodies outweigh the not-so-good items.

You will need:

  • One cup un-cooked quinoa (I used organic red)
  • One can reduced sodium chicken broth (for cooking the quinoa)
  • One pound ground turkey (or ground beef)
  • Two sweet potatoes (here in Idaho they are called yams at the grocery store)
  • One green bell pepper
  • One red bell pepper
  • One medium onion
  • One can black beans rinsed and drained (I used the kind with jalapenos)
  • One can corn, drained
  • One package reduced fat shredded cheese
  • One package taco seasoning
  • One package chipotle seasoning
  • Coconut oil or other cooking spray

I made this dish as I prepped meals for the week. 

I started this process by cutting up veggies and sweet potatoes into bite size pieces and roasting them at 400* (note I cooked more than needed for the taco bake to use in lunches too.)

For the potatoes I tossed them with coconut oil and seasoning salt and pepper. I spread them on a aluminum foil lined cookie sheet for 40 minutes, tossing them half way through.
Wash and peel your sweet potatoes/yams
Toss in about 2 tbs of oil of your choice (I used coconut) and some seasonings
Spread evenly on cookie sheet to bake. (Cover in aluminum foil for easy clean up!)

Veggies were also roasted on a foil lined cookie sheet, I did not season them. They only need to cook about 15-20 minutes, tossing half way through.
Healthy foods are the prettiest!
My oven getting busy.
While I was in a chopping mood I cut up peppers for snack packs too
I also used the extra potatoes for lunch packs!

While my veggies were roasting I cooked the quinoa in the chicken broth (you can find how to cook quinoa online).

I also browned the turkey meat. Once cooked I drained the meat and added the taco seasoning according to the package  instructions.
Once everything is cooked you are ready to assemble!

Add cooked quinoa, turkey, about 2 cups of the roasted veggies and 2 cups of the roasted potatoes, and the corn and black beans to a large bowl. Mix well.
If you're lazy like me, just rinse the bowl you tossed your taters in and re-use it for this step.

Grease a 9x13" casserole dish. I used my coconut oil spray.
My attempt to be a little healthier, and slightly Paleo...

Spread half of the mixture in the dish.
Look at all those goodies!

Next we need to make the sauce. On the stove heat the can of cream of chicken soup in a sauce pan, using half a can's worth if water to thin it. Mix in half of a chipotle seasoning packet. You could probably use taco seasoning if you can't find the chipotle mix (about a tablespoon and a half's worth)
I found this at WINCO. You can probably sub taco seasoning or other Mexican seasoning of your choice.
Once smooth, slowly whisk in shredded cheese. I used half of the package.
Mmmmm I LOVE cheese!
Whisk in cheese till you have a smooth cheese sauce
Once cheese is melted and mixture is smooth, poor 2/3 of the cheese sauce over the quinoa-meat mixture in the casserole dish. I used a spoon to spread it evenly.

Add the rest of the quinoa mixture to the dish and spread. Pour the rest of the sauce over it and top with the remaining cheese.

At this point I put a lid on it and put it in the fridge for a later night. But you can pop it in the oven at this point.

To bake:

Preheat oven to 350*. Cover casserole with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake another 20 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

Then dish and enjoy!!!

We ate it just like a casserole with some veggies, but you could also use it as taco or burrito filling :)
James even liked this superfood dish! Although he did say he didn't like the sweet potatoes in it, I thought they were the best part!

Also during my day of meal-prep I cooked some chicken sausages for lunch packs. The sausages are AMAZING with the sweet potatoes, so I will need to come up with a dish to high-light that combo soon!

Oh AND I made orange chicken for dinner that night, that recipe to come too... Wow I was busy!

Whew - that seems like a lot. But it was done reasonably quick and I haven't had to think about lunches all week!

If you try this recipe let me know your thoughts!

TTFN Friends!

January 22, 2014

What I'm Loving Wednesday

This post should probably be titled "WHO I'm loving Wednesday" instead.

Today I am loving that yesterday marked the three year anniversary of James' and my first date.

I can't believe it was three whole years ago that I strolled up to him in front of Bardenay to meet for drinks. I remember thinking "wow!" 

House divided!
We proceeded to have to go from place to place down town to finally find somewhere with space for us. Ending up at (the not so classy) Fatty's seemed not ideal at the time but must have worked for us :)

For those of you who do not know, I met James online. Our first date was a blind date, other than photos on the online dating site.

I want to share this because I think a lot of people still have their doubts about online dating. However, we are yet another success story from putting yourself out there - even if it may be online. If you have been thinking about it, I encourage you to go for it. What is there to lose?!

I know I have three happy years to show for it! I am excited to celebrate the three year mark later this week with a nice dinner at our favorite spot, Kyoto!

So this week, as always, I am loving James. Oh and our favorite dog-child Gunner.

PS - if you have any questions about my online dating experience I would be happy to share! Leave me a comment or find me on Facebook.

TTFN Friends!
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January 9, 2014

Feeling Grateful

Do you ever have a day where you realize you were really lucky?

I had that day today. And I feel unbelievably blessed and grateful for it.

There was a major accident on the freeway in the Treasure Valley this morning. You can read about it at our local news site.

What does this have to do with me you ask? Well here's my story.

I had a dentist appointment this morning. So I didn't get on the freeway at the normal time of 7:35AM, I instead started my commute around 9 AM when I was done at the dentist. That was slightly later than I would have been, as my mom requested that I bring her the mitten she left in my car. Her office wasn't too out of the way so I obliged.

Twenty minutes later I found myself stuck in non-moving traffic. Waiting behind the multi-vehicle accident from the above story. At first I thought "man, I have the worst luck." But then I realized... I have the BEST luck, for if I had not dropped off that lost mitten to my mother, I would have been one of those cars. No doubt about it.

As I drove by the quarter mile of wreckage (final count was 46 vehicles) it hit me. I needed to take a second look at how the world works and be so thankful I was not part of that horrible accident.

I immediately called my mom and told her thank you for the mitten detour. It may have saved my life.

So today I just want to say thank you. I feel blessed and so grateful to NOT have been in that accident. Even if I had to wait an extra 30 minutes to get to work. It was not the worst thing that could have happened.

Do you have an event in your life that you were incredibly lucky about? I'd love to hear about it!

TTFN Friends,
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