Archive | September 2011

Better Breakfast: Carrot Cake Pancakes

If I only could eat one meal a day, I would choose breakfast in a heartbeat. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have skipped breakfast. I go to bed at night already planning what I am going to have the next morning. I am, to put it lightly, breakfast obsessed.

Enter Janetha’s breakfast challenge. When I read her post, I think i squealed out loud. I was so excited to come up with a new spin on breakfast food.

So here’s the gist of the challenge (which is in honor of September being better breakfast month).

Make a better breakfast. Take a photo. Eat the breakfast.

Simple right?

When I think of my typical breakfast, there is often one key food group missing: vegetables. Unless I make a smoothie and sneak in some spinach, I normally don’t include veggies in the am.

The easiest way to add veggies to my breakfast would be to make an omlette and load it up. But I am a sweet breakfast fan so I decided to go the pancake route.

After debating between different veggies I settled on

20110929-092311.jpgCarrots!

The other star of my pancakes is…

20110929-092227.jpgAttune Food’s Uncle Sam Cereal! One serving of this cereal (3/4 of a cup) has 10 grams of fiber. Definitely better breakfast material.

Combining carrots, crushed cereal, and some other pancake-y ingredients…

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Carrot Cake pancakes!

They were slightly denser than your average pancake but they were sweet and kept me full for hours!

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Carrot Cake Pancakes

These pancakes take a bit more time to prepare, but the end result is worth it. I love the sweetness of the carrots and raisins contrasted with the crunch of the walnuts.

Serves: 3-4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup crushed Uncle Sam’s cereal*

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

3/4 cup almond milk

1 egg

1 Tb melted butter

2 Tb maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

2 carrots, grated*

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped*

1/4 cup raisins

Directions

Combine flour, crushed cereal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and cloves. In a separate bowl, combine almond milk, egg, melted butter, and maple syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Add in the walnuts and raisins. Cook in a frying pan for 2-3 minutes a side.

*Note: I prepared all of these ingredients in the food processor. It made for an easy clean up!

20110929-092240.jpgThese pancakes would be delicious with syrup, peanut butter, or maybe cream cheese icing? I topped mine with a combination of syrup and apple sauce. I love cutting the sweetness of the maple syrup with unsweetened applesauce.

Was this a better breakfast? You bet!

Thanks again for Janetha for setting up this awesome challenge. Check our Meals and Moves for all of the entries.

Questions: What is your idea of a better breakfast?

What is your favorite pancake topping?

Thanks for A cappella and Garlic Presses

It’s that time of the week folks… the weekend is in sight! This means its time for another Thankful Thursday! If you missed my last two Thankful Thursday posts, check out the links below.

Thankful on Thursday

National Ice Cream Day and Super Easy Salmon Packets

Now lets get to this week’s list.

1. Aidells Spicy Mango with jalapeno Chicken Sausage

They were giving away samples of Aidells sausages at the grocery store last week. One bite of the mango and jalapeno one and I was hooked. It was definitely this week’s impulse buy but it was worth every glorious bite. I try to avoid eating a lot of processed meats and sausages but these ones are relatively healthy with no MSG, nitrates, or added hormones.

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Served up with roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, I think its one of my new favorite week night meals! I can’t wait to try some of Aidells other flavors. Doesn’t hurt that I still have two more coupons:)

2. Newspaper wrapping paper

When I went to wrap Ryan’s present, all I had was Christmas paper… so newspaper it was!

20110929-071528.jpgHe didn’t even notice once he saw the sweet Ferrari Pumas.

3. The Deltones

Source

The Deltones were my favorite a cappella group while I was in school at University of Delaware. Avi, the guy on the right with the vest, lived in my dorm freshman year. My roommates and I went to every concert for 4 years! When I found out through Facebook and my college’s website that they were going to be on NBC’s Sing Off, I was psyched! They made it through this week. I hope they go all the way!

4. My garlic press

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I bought this 5 dollar beauty at IKEA. I feel like whenever I chop up garlic with a knife, half of it gets lost going from the cutting board into the pan. Enter the garlic press! You don’t even have to peel the cloves. Only downside is cleaning it.

5. Quick and easy “morphing” meals

20110929-071545.jpgOne filling… three dishes! I made a cottage cheese and spinach filling that I combined with macaroni (two left dishes) and put into a mini lasagna (right dish). The leftovers freeze perfectly! I promise the recipe is coming soon.

Question: Are you a fan of the garlic press?

WIAW: Ryan’s Birthday Edition

To some it may be just another Wednesday… but for me its a special one… Ryan’s 26th birthday! Even though he has to work tonight (boo), that doesn’t mean I can’t go to Jenn’s WIAW party!

Is it weird that this party is one of the highlights of my weed? Maybe I need to get out more:) Without further ado… WIAW: Ryan’s Birthday Edition!

Breakfast

Just because the sign as I left work today read 98 degrees (like the band:)), doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy some fall food. When I was little I used to listen to Christmas music in the summer. I told my mom it made me feel cooler.

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Creamy buckwheat bowl prepared a la Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. After chillin’ in the fridge overnight, I added:

1/2 cup pumpkin

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 heaping Tb sunflower butter

1 chopped Bartlett pear

All the delish flavors of fall in one bowl!

Lunch

Delicious leftovers.

20110928-083542.jpgI followed Katie’s recipe for Killer Tofu Curry. I added a bit more curry powder and a tb of fish sauce to the mix. It was incredible. Ryan, ultimate carnivore, had seconds! He did remark… this would be great with some chicken though.

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Dinner

Leftover hodogepodge.

20110928-083555.jpgTuna mashed with avocados and Dijon mustard sandwich served with a side of sauteed spinach and bell peppers topped with hot sauce and nutritional yeast. Water in my keepsake “glass” from the Houston Wine Fest. Guess it wouldn’t be smart to give out real glasses to a bunch of people drinking…

Snacks

20110928-083526.jpgSlightly wrinkled but still sweet and delicious.

20110928-083534.jpgThe grocery store sales were made for me this weekend. 1 dollar for Fage, Chobani, and Danon Oikos Greek yogurt and 74 cents for Peanut Butter Cookie Lara Bars. I hope this is a new trend:)

Dessert

I made Katie’s recipe for Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake for Ryan’s birthday.

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As I mentioned, he is working nights. So I presented him with a cake, with a missing slice. I couldn’t resist trying it. And a side note on the icing. I had big plans to write a birthday message, kinda like the cookie cakes they sell in the grocery store. I didn’t want to make a big batch of icing for three words of writing, so I opened up a can of icing I had lying around. I didn’t realize it had mini chocolate chips in it. Lets just say the chocolate chips and the icing tip were not friends. After a few botched letters I threw in the towel and iced the whole top.

Thanks to all of the bloggers who inspired me with their recipes today! And a big happy birthday to Ryan! You are officially an old man:)

Question: What was the best grocery store deal you found this week?

“What’s my age again?”

Last night Ryan’s birthday celebration continued with a concert. I had bought us tickets to see My Chemical Romance and Blink 182 back in June and it just so happened that the actual concert was two days before Ryan’s birthday! The concert didn’t start until 7 which gave us time to get some dinner first.

After reading Chelsey’s post about Sweet Tomatoes… I knew I had to go to this restaurant. A buffet of soups and salads… it was my dream come true! Chelsey was right… this restaurant was pretty amazing! I didn’t want to be a creeper and take photos in the buffet line… the sneeze guard probably would have gotten  in the way. Random fact… the sneeze guard is the clear plastic at eye level around buffets. I learned this while playing Outburst. The category was 10 items in a salad bar. I got 9 in about -5 seconds… but who would have guessed sneeze guard?! I digress…

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I had a hard time keeping my salad to one plate! In the mix: lettuce, spinach, carrots, mushrooms, grated squash (that looks like cheddar cheese!), pickles, three bean salad, and an orange poppy-seed dressing. On the side: buttermilk cornbread. I love the butternut squash… I never think to have it in salads.

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Roasted tomato and onion soup. Ehh… I’d probably give it a C. It wasn’t particularly flavorful. I went back from some meatball soup that was much tastier.

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After all those veggies, I was craving something sweet: Vanilla soft serve with peanuts and caramel and a side of tapioca pudding. I think tapioca pudding is my favorite pudding. I love the little gelatinous balls. A lot of people don’t like the texture, but I find it quite delicious. I also love the big tapioca balls in bubble tea.

Both Ryan and I loved Sweet Tomatoes and will definitely make it a point to go back whenever we are in the area. I love that the menu changes frequently. I want to go back when they have some of their Greek foods.

After dinner, it was concert time.  I used to be a concert junkie in high school. I would go to shows with my friends and my brother several times a year.

Flashback high school concert post. I think this was before seeing The Academy Is… I was so tan and my hair was short! Going to see Blink 182 was like going back to early high school. There were so many spiky belts and neon hair colors! I felt out-of-place in my Banana Republic tee and cowboy boots.

Ryan and I had fun goofing around on the lawn.

20110927-121336.jpgBlink 182 definitely brought out our immaturity:) It was hard to get any good pictures from our far away seats.

20110927-121347.jpgBlink sang all of my favorites including “What’s my age again?” and “Rock Show.” It was fun to sing along with old favorites, but once it hit 10 pm, we were both yawning and decided to call it a night. We were the first ones to leave. I felt so old!

20110927-121341.jpgI was exhausted today but it was worth it. I liked doing something out of the ordinary on a Monday night. Although we have already been celebrating for days… tomorrow is Ryan’s real birthday!

Question: What is the last concert you saw? Before Blink 182, the last concert I saw was Jason Aldean when he performed at the Houston Rodeo. I have such a random taste in music.

Sunday Fitness Lessons and Big Boy Birthday Party

Lets recap the key fitness lessons I learned yesterday.

1. There is a reason that most people get up early in the am to do long runs and bike rides. Waiting until 10:30 to attempt to do a 5 mile run = Bad idea. It was pushing 100 degrees and there was a strong wind. Lets just say I made it three miles… barely.

2. Don’t turn the air conditioning off while doing a run in the 100 degree heat. When you get home, you want to walk into a freezer, not a sauna.

3. Don’t do side planks you your elbows on a yoga mat on the wood floor. They are extremely painful.

4. While doing push ups after a super sweaty workout, choose a carpeted surface. This way your hands don’t slip and slide all over resulting in a face plant. Also, the pool of sweat will be absorbed by the carpet:)

5. Always wear a cool hat. They make even the most miserable workouts a little more fun.

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I think I picked up this “Mean, Tough, and Sexy” hat at a work conference. Ryan says it’s embarassing. I say its awesome:)

The best part of my workout was the abs portion.

– 50 crunches

– 20 Pilates roll ups (go nice and slow!)

– 30 second side plank

– 20 reverse crunches

– 30 second side plank (other side)

– 20 side crunches (each side)

– 20 scissor crunches (Lie flat on the floor with your legs slightly above the floor. Cross you right leg over the left and then the left over the right, like scissors. That is one repetition).

After my workout I headed to Ryan’s parents for a family birthday party. I was determined to embarrass Ryan at his birthday party. I really wanted to buy him a party hat (the paper kind with the chin strap) and write “Big Boy” on it, but I couldn’t find any! I settled for a super mature balloon. Next year maybe I’ll buy a pinata.

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Ryan’s mom prepared a feast! There were fajitas, nachos, and dips galore!

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My plate included a beef fajita, some grilled corn, taco salad, and several helpings of spinach artichoke dip. The spinach artichoke dip was amazing. I will have to get the recipe to share.

After dinner it was present time!

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Ryan was in heaven with his big bag of protein! Maybe now he will stop stealing my stash 🙂

Even though I was stuffed, I managed to save room for dessert!

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Triple chocolate cake.

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Red velvet cake.

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Assorted cupcake from Crave Cupcakes. Even though Crave makes my favorite cupcakes, I decided to try a small slice of the chocolate and red velvet cakes instead. The cream cheese frosting was my favorite part. I will definitely be visiting Crave soon for one of their seasonal pumpkin cupcakes!

I think I am officially “caked out” after this weekend. Tonight Ryan’s birthday celebration continues… we are going to see Blink 182! I have seen them one other time and they were amazing. I hope they sing all my middle school favorites like “All the Small Things” and What’s my Age Again?”

Question: What were your favorite middle school bands? I loved Everclear, Blink 182, Backstreet Boys, and yes… Hanson.

Wine Fest and Cupcakes

After our 45 mile ride we were starving! But first we had to pick up some cupcakes. I had a Groupon to Delesandri’s Gourmet Cupcakes which I had completely forgotten about. I seriously think that site should send out reminders when your coupons are about to expire. I always end up using them at the last possible minute. I had been to Delesandri’s once before and was excited to try out some more of their flavors.

20110925-070817.jpgI love the cute sign. Going into a cupcake shop before lunch is never a good idea. I wanted to try every flavor. I had only planned on getting a half-dozen but the cashier easily convinced me to get the whole dozen. Didn’t take much to twist my arm:)

After the cupcake run, it was time for lunch. We were on a coupon kick and decided to use a Subway gift card.

20110925-070812.jpgRyan and I split the September 5 dollar foot long: Turkey and Black Forest Ham, lettuce, banana peppers, olives, avocado, and honey mustard. I added some pickles when I got home. I love that Subway has avocado now. It takes the sandwiches to a whole new level.

After inhaling our subs, we headed downtown to meet friends at the Houston Wine Fest. I didn’t really know what to expect since none of us had ever been there before. Mallory and I had bought… you guessed it Groupons! It got us entrance to the festival, a commemorative (plastic) glass, and five wine tasting coupons.

It was quite crowded despite the heat. 95 degrees is a bit warm for summer don’t you think? We did a lap first to see what there was to offer before we started using out tickets. In addition to the wine, there were lots of craft, jewelry, and food vendors.

Ryan and I used our first tickets at the Red Road Vineyard tent. They were our favorite wines we tasted all day.

20110925-070822.jpgRyan liked a sweet white wine called “Honey I’m Home” and I was in love with the Muscat Canelli. If you ever find yourself in Naples, TX, I would highly recommend stopping by their vineyard! I used most of my tickets to taste other Texas wines. Another favorite was the sparkling wine from Landon Winery. It was the perfect light wine for the heat.

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We had a couple of unique tastings. First we tried a chocolate, espresso wine. It tasted good at first, kind of like alcoholic chocolate milk. But after a few sips it was too heavy and not one could finish it. I’ll stick to Bailys and Kahlua for my creamy drinks.

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It was fun browsing the art tents. I was tempted to buy so many things! Some favorites included the wire sculptures.

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The rock wine racks,

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the wine art

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and the super cute aprons.

20110925-070905.jpgSarah tried on a silk wrap dress. Apparently it can be worn in 30 different ways!

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We also tasted some delicious vinegar. My favorite was definitely the vanilla fig. It was a bit pricey but I am going to keep my eyes peeled for that flavor.

After a couple of hours we were hot, sweaty, and out of drink tickets so we headed back to Mallory’s for dinner. We were all starving and eagerly dug in.

20110925-070804.jpgPasta bake with homemade sauce, ricotta, turkey sausage, and mozzarella, warm bread, and salad with lemon vinaigrette. Everyone had seconds and thirds. Mallory really made a crowd pleaser.

Dessert were the cupcakes I had bought earlier (bet you were waiting for the pictures)!

20110925-070755.jpgWe cut them into quarters so everyone could sample different kinds. My favorite was the cookies and cream. There were Oreos in the icing and the cake! I also tried the strawberry, Reese’s, and Boston Creme Pie. The only disappointing one was the Reese’s. Besides the whole peanut butter cup inside, there wasn’t enough peanut butter flavor.

After dinner I headed home and Ryan went to a late night car show. It was a great Saturday with all my favorite things: friends, bikes, wine and cupcakes:)

Question: What activities would you do on a “perfect” Saturday?

Birthdays and biking

 

 

 

Last night Ryan and I went out to Red Fox, a restaurant in the town where Ryan lives. We had been excited to try it for a while, and a birthday celebration seemed like the perfect occasion.

There were very few diners by the time we got there at 8:30 but that didn’t matter to us… we just wanted food. We were both starving and everything on the menu looked incredible. The meal started out with warm cornbread drizzled with honey butter.

20110924-123817.jpgIt was very moist which was perfect. Dry cornbread is the worst. The honey butter was my favorite part. After two slices, it was time for the main event.

Ryan order the flounder stuffed with lump crab. It was served with rice pilaf, green beans, and a lemon butter sauce.

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I tasted a bite but it was a little too fishy for my taste. He loved it thought and polished it off in record time. Guess I shouldn’t have made him wait until 8:30 for dinner:) And then to top it off I made him pose for me before taking a bite. I think the good food made up for it.

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I order the shrimp and grits. I realized that I have lived in Texas for over a year and a half and have never had this traditional southern meal! I had only tried grits for breakfast and I have to admit I was not a fan. I guess I just like my breakfasts on the sweeter side. I was so excited when my food arrived.

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Wow is all I have to say. I loved this dish. The shrimp was perfectly seasoned and were topped with green onions and bacon. The grits were creamy and buttery and topped with gouda cheese. It was such a delicious combination.

20110924-123832.jpgI can’t wait to try to recreate this meal. I feel like the key will be getting very fresh shrimp since they are the star of the dish.

Ryan is not normally a dessert guy, but I convinced him to share one with me. We went with the peach cobbler.

While very tasty, it was not what I was expecting. It was more like an individual fruit pie. There was too much crust and not enough fruit for my taste.

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All in all it was a fantastic meal. Next time, we want to try the fried alligator appetizer.

This morning we were up bright and early for a bike ride with the local bike club. I was so excited because it was the first ride Ryan was coming on. He bought a bike a few months ago but due to his crazy work schedule he hasn’t been able to ride much.

He wasn’t crazy about the early start time on his day off, but he managed to roll out of bed without too much prodding.

A delicious pre-ride breakfast was a must!

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Fluffy apple pancakes with the Kerby Lane mix I picked up at the Metropolitan Cooking Show topped with protein fluff and raspberries. Check out Gina’s recipe for protein fluff. It’s seriously amazing. I used peanut butter and vanilla protein. Scrambled eggs and ketchup rounded out the mix.

We successfully completed 45 miles at a 15 mph pace. Pretty impressive for Ryan’s first ride!

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In the beginning, we wer going pretty slow. The group wasn’t going at a consistent pace and we seemed to hit every red light! For the last 10 miles we split off from the group and went with two other riders. I prefer to ride in smaller groups. We were really going quick for this part. We got up to 20 mph at one point! The morning was pleasant but we were glad to be done by 11 when it started to get quite hot.

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The rest of the day was spent at the Houston Wine festival with friends. More details to come!

Question: What is your favorite pre-workout breakfast? For biking I love pancakes or cereal and eggs. It’s a great mix of protein and carbs.