Cooking · reading · Summer

Heirloom tomatoes and Summer Reading

Now, we’re going to talk about a very serious subject now.

rustic tomato tart 005Heirloom tomatoes.  Seriously, my one true love – after cheese…and Pierogies…it’s becoming clear to me that I love food just a little too much.

Back to tomatoes.

I’m not a big fan of tomatoes in general unless they’re diced, cooked and in a chili or stew.

But Heirloom Tomatoes are different.

I love these babies raw, or in a salad, or baked in a galette or frittata.  There’s something about their fresh summery taste that I look forward to all year until I can taste it again.  If you’re into a spectacular tart I’d suggest you over to Recipe Girl’s Rustic Tomato and Zucchini Tart I subbed in Heirloom tomatoes and Havarti but this was divine.  The tart was unique and one of the first crusts I’ve ever made! Got my arm workout in that morning cutting the butter into the flour.  This morning I used the last of my little mini heirlooms in a summer frittata that also used up the rest of my zucchini.august 17 213

Word to the wise, When you make a frittata, don’t fuss around the try to make it healthy by using one egg and 8 egg whites.  Save that nonsense for a scramble.

I definitely want to try making that Galette crust with oat flour.

I’ve been reading a few books as well.  Between the Book Thief and The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane all my reading time seems to be filled up.  The Book Thief is nothing of what I initially thought it was, having never read any reviews or the back description I had no idea it was a World War II era novel.  From an incredibly unique point of view though.  The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harns has personality and sass.  I haven’t read much of it, but I’m already in love with one character and I’m sure on my way to the same status with the second.

What Books are you reading these days? Any new author recommendations?

Cooking · Fitness · Summer

3-Bean Turkey Chili, another LifeFit Recipe

For the past few days I’ve been enjoying a lazy visit with my Dad in North Carolina, Raleigh area.  This however will be saved for another post, as it deserves more of a focus than I can give right now. I can say though, working overnights has a great potential for ruining vacations for you, I tend to pass out around 7 and wake up at 1 in the morning, when my boyfriend and dad are already asleep, and then I spend the next 5 hours or so puttering around the house, doing quiet chores that my dad might not think to do – dust, clean the shower, run the dishwasher and self clean the oven.  But more on all that later!

Before my vacation I wanted a little bit of a change for my lunches – no turkey muffins or burgers, I wanted to focus on salads since Blueberries and Strawberries are local and in season, and see about having a soup or chili.  So, quite fittingly I went to LiveFit recipes and found Jamie Eason’s 3-Bean Turkey Chili – this is protein and fiber packed and Sooooo sosososososo delicious.

turkey-chili-recipe_bThe only thing you might not have in your normal clean pantry is the brown sugar blend of Ideal which, I have yet to get, so I used a very very small amount of regular brown sugar.  I was able to find organic versions of all the canned vegetables in the recipe between shopping at Wegmans and Wal-mart.  Pro-tip: Walmart is starting to go Organic and Green, mine started carrying Organic Bananas recently, but their canned goods are pretty numerous now too.  Muir Glen tomato products also come with No Salt Added which is perfect for me. The only thing I didn’t find organic versions of these at Walmart was the Chilies and the TriBean Blend which I couldn’t exactly find at Wegmans either.  I found Chili beans and that had 3 different types of beans in it so I assume it’s just as good.  This for me made about 10 cups, or 10 servings, but I added Tomato Sauce because I accidentally bought that instead of diced tomatoes and ended up adding a can of Non-organic No Salt Added diced tomatoes that I had on hand anyway.  From the comments I read it normally cooks down to around 8-9 cups.

No pictures from me for this, I might have one to add later when I get home, but my phone broke last week and I haven’t been home to resync the new one to my computer.  Here’s the picture from the LiveFit site though, for your yummy, mouth watering viewing pleasure.

3-Bean Turkey Chili!

Cooking · Fitness

Chocolate Protein Bars

protein bars 006One of the perks of being the daughter of a librarian who helps with collection materials for the library is that my mother is constantly getting uncorrected proofs.  Whenever I visit my mom at work I race into her office just to see if she’s had a shipment – not always books I’m interested – but you’d be surprised.  I’m currently reading a new Amy Tan book, as well as a book based on the TV show Homeland that my mother had gotten.  It has unfortunately created an unnatural need within me to own the Trade Paperback version of any book rather than the Hardcover. I’m waiting on The Kite Runner to be returned so I can read that and the books that follow – I know, I know, I’m super late to that party.  I’m also looking forward to reading the Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms, once my library gets it in and processed.  Sarah Addison Allen is probably my favorite author lately, her magical realism really hits the sweet spot in my literature cravings…is that even a phrase – it is now!  Primarily writing about North Carolina, it’s instilled this magical vision of the South in my mind.

So in my research in keeping and maintaining my clean eating lifestyle I’ve discovered that any kind of store bought protein bar, while packed with protein is also packed with sugar – this is not as healthy as you’d assume after buying something from the health section.  So here are Jamie Eason’s homemade Chocolate ones.  They resemble a Brownie.  Which is amazing for easing cravings for something sweet! 2 Bars is one serving so you kind of feel like you’re indulging yourself.

protein bars 001
Chocolate Protein Bar Brownies!

Cooking · Fitness · Self-reflection · Summer

A new mini chapter and Protein Pancakes

So, in my journey of weight loss and self improvement, I am starting a new chapter! Today marks the 8th day that I have been following Jamie Eason’s LiveFit program. 72 Days to go! This program is pretty great for me (and this coming from somebody who can’t even do a 30 day photo challenge) mostly because of the meal plans, and it gives me a guide to something I’ve already been thinking of getting into but completely lost on how to start. I shall explain:

iphone june 2013 backup 3921I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been going to the gym since January and changed my eating habits since last August. Since doing these things I’ve gone from 195lbs to 167lbs or so and I am so much happier – still have about 30-40lbs to go and lots of toning before I’m wear my height says I should be but I am so happy with the progress that I’ve made. There is only so much that a treadmill can do for you though. I’ve been looking longingly at the weight section in my Planet Fitness for a while now, but had no idea where to start! This program gives me specific exercises on specific days to target two muscles each day, and makes sure to have rest days each week. To read more on those you really should check it out, even if just for your own knowledge! I also have a meal plan to follow – which I normally cringe at! I’m in general the pickiest of eaters – usually a crucial spice or ingredient is something I’m not overly fond of (aka my mortal enemies: Pickles and Celery) But this meal plan is so easy and versatile! I LOVE her homemade protein bars – so far I’ve made the chocolate and carrot cake ones.

So far I’ve made: Turkey Meatloaf Muffins (not a muffin – more like a muffin shaped meatball), Chocolate Protein bars, Carrot Cake Protein bars, Peanut Butter Banana Ice cream, and Banana Protein Pancakes. I’m really looking forward to making more of these recipes! So far I really love clean eating! The only thing I’ve been missing is Raisin Bran muffins and breads. I love eating Turkey and Chicken though! I can’t wait to see where this new lifestyle leads me!

I am the first to admit I have cheated once, no twice. I ate two small squares of a sheet cheese pizza that somebody had left in the office, as well as a half a Russell Stover’s S’more. Those by the way are amazing. I really recommend them if you love s’mores. Which I do. I really really do.

I wonder if there’s a healthy version of salted Caramel gelato. No, that would be too good to be true. Much too good to be true!

I’ll be going to North Carolina soon to see my dad and I really can’t wait. I miss him so much since he moved down there and I am beyond excited to see him. Just need to make sure I stay on track that week and do some exercises while I’m with him.

iphone june 2013 backup 3879In completely other news I went to see Man of Steel at a prerelease showing with my friend Susan! It was awesome – not even a little bit disappointed and Henry Cavill being pleasing to the eye didn’t hurt one little bit! I’m not going to say another word as it’s a pretty new movie – and I hate when people spoil things for me – so I promise that you will love it – just embrace the changes that were made, and delight in the delicious man candy that’s in front of you. Amy Adams is also cute.

That’s all for now! I’ll include a recipe down below!

Protein Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce!

Cooking · Fun and Games · jarred · Long Distance · Self-reflection · Summer

Hello, Summer.

ImageI can’t believe it’s already June 1st! I feel like May went by way too fast.  Let’s see…to sum up the month: I got to see my love, went to Niagara Falls, and I turned 27.

Ah, 27. I don’t feel any different, but at the same time I don’t feel that old either.  Maybe I’ll never feel as old as I actually am.  Before you pounce – I’m not saying I’m old, just that however old I imagined 27 to feel like…I don’t feel it.  If that makes sense.  No? Moving on.
The picture you see to the left is the most delicious thing on this entire planet.  Not the healthiest but who cares about health when your taste buds are singing songs about Euphoria and delight.  Something about Salty Sweet foods calls to me.  I crave them and develop an  immediate fondness and addiction to them that I should probably seek further knowledge on what my body is lacking that I crave these foods so badly.

Niagara Falls, this is the fourth time I’ve been and it’s always magical to me. Something about completely natural water with that much power is awe-inspiring. Someday I’ll manage to cross the Rainbow Bridge to Canada and see what I’ve heard is the much better view of the Falls.  Or at least a most entertaining one.Image

Jarred and I went to a concert on my birthday.  It was a concert I’d been really looking forward to; Volbeat, Big Wreck, 10 Years, Eye Empire, Wayland and Surrender the Fall.  The crowd killed this concert though.  It was dead, drunk and less enthused than anything I’ve ever seen in my life.  The Bands were great, I just didn’t enjoy myself when they were not playing.

I’m currently sitting in my kitchen typing on my laptop because the house in unbearably hot and my room turns into a heat pod, where heat comes in and never leaves. It’s like a haunted house of heat.

I have never craved an Iced Chai more than I do at this exact moment.  I’m going to have to remedy this situation pronto.

So, as I sit, typing…sipping lemon water and smelling deliciousness from the oven (vegetable Lunas!) my little cat, Jack and my behemoth puppy, Sydney are both on opposite sides of the room collapsed on the floor.  These two are enemies you see.  More on Jack’s side than Sydney who probably doesn’t care about the irate kitten at all.

Upcoming recipes!

I made my own recipe for the first time for a yummy Corn Chowder that is super healthy and only about 160 calories per serving! I also made a creamy chicken and wild rice soup, that is less healthy. I’ve made some MuffinsImage from a recipe I found over at Ambitious Kitchen – Link is in the Blogroll.  They are delicious! and Guilt Free! I’ve been watching some food shows on Netflix and Hulu lately and I’ve been dying to try making Thai foods, maybe a Pad Thai, or a curry.  Tikka Masala sounds divine.  I’m always disappointed in the tofu though.  I can’t find the type of tofu in the grocery stores that I get when I order from a thai restaurant.  I wish I knew what the difference was or where to get it.  The texture is completely different – even from extra firm.  WHHHHHHHY can’t I find it? If you have any light to shed on this subject, I will pay you in diamonds and rubies.  Just kidding, I don’t have those types of riches.  But I would love you forever and promise to post pictures of the results of such advise!  That’s enough for now, until my room cools down enough for me to go through the pictures I took for those Muffins.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful June so far and look forward to the rest of the month.

Cooking

Taco Soup, and Welcoming Spring–maybe?

Finally! I have a Friday Morning free to type up a post. It seems as thought Spring has finally come to Central New York! I think farther upstate there is still some light snow, but it seems like the flowers can finally peek out from their hiding spots under the dead leaves.  I’ve seen quite a few robins over the past week, even with all the rain we’ve had over the past week.

Just before I went on vacation I was given a recipe for a delicious soup called Chicken Taco Soup – super healthy and full of protein! After coming home from vacation I remade the soup and left out of the chicken to see what the difference would be – I actually prefer it that way!

I’m a bit of an tea lover. An addict.  I could easily drink it constantly throughout the day.  I know I’ve discussed my addiction to Chai.  Be Proud readers! I’ve weaned myself to only ordering a small when I go to First Cup now! My other love is Green Tea, especially the SuperFruit one from Good Earth. My favorite tea however is usually from Loose Leaf tea.  I adore Teavana for their tea.  It’s been a while since I’ve ventured in so I was beyond ready to stock up today.  Peachberry Jasmine Green Tea, Superfruit Unity Green Tea, Pomegranate Cranberry Herbal Tea and I even got a free Jade Dragon Mao Feng blend because I’d bought so much.  Qualified for 10% off and had my lovely little $10 coupon and I got at least a years worth of tea for just under $45.

On to the recipe, I forgot to snap a picture of this.  But trust me, it’s better that way.  You might end up with your face plastered to the screen and hunger pangs in your tummy.
Taco Soup for the Crock Pot!

Cooking · Long Distance · Work

Minestrone Soup and “I-need-a-vacation-itis”

I woke up from a late night nap, looked out my window and was confronted with a vision of white. Actually getting out of my bed for closer inspection, I was delightfully surprised to see it was Fog. I’m not particularly a fan of fog, but I love it compared to snow. Bring on all the fog possible if it means the snow season is over this year.

That’s probably not the case.

But tomorrow it’s supposed to be a warm, no-jacket-needed fifty degrees, and that’s good enough news to make me wiggle my toes and do a little happy dance that has never been witnessed by another soul.

Requesting time off at my work is a not-so-complicated process, however actually getting the days is harder than you’d think.  This coming from a person who gets most of the days she requests – it’s still not easy.  I put my requests in six months ahead of time and usually schedule them around my days off so that I’m actually only requesting two days every other month instead of four or five.  It’s all put in through the computer at work, and then my Overnight Manager looks at it, and takes anywhere between a day or three weeks to Approve or Reject it.  I’m currently praying that I can manage to find somebody to fill my Easter shift that I requested in December and was denied for.  I’m hoping to meet Jarred’s family for the first time (sosososososososo incredibly nervous) and I’d like to not have to come home the day before Easter while everybody is on the highway doing the exact same thing.  I also just put in requests for July (Mayhem Fest 2013) and three days in August for a wedding.  I’m bracing myself for a long few weeks of “Bess, all these vacations, what am I going to do with you” followed by denying half of them.  All of this would easily be solved if they would give me Full Time (I work full time hours most weeks anyway) and allow  me to move out on my own.

Sigh.

On a brighter note, I broke out my trusty slow cooker yesterday and made soup! Vegetarian-Wheat Free- Minestrone to be exact.  I wasn’t able to completely follow the directions of the recipe as my Slow Cooker must be a different size than the one originally used.  A fact that I didn’t discover until after I’d already started the process of combining ingredients. It is delicious nonetheless though! Chock full of vegetables and that warm-you-all-the-way-to-your-bones comfort food flavor.
Minestrone Soup in the Slow Cooker!