Category Archives: Blogging
Gone Fishin’ + My First Blue Apron Meal
Good morning, coffee lovers! In case you missed it, yesterday was National Coffee Day. This is a serious holiday on my calendar which required careful calculation and strategy for hitting up the main coffee shops without over-caffeinating myself ;)
Dutch Bros. is a main coffee drive-thru in the PNW and as part of their National Coffee Day celebration, profit from every drink went to our local Boys and Girls Club charity. PLUS customers were given a full “punch card’ which can be redeemed for a free drink on your next visit. Another coffee hut was offering 4 drinks for $10, and my office even created their own coffee bar in the break room. There were flavored foam pumps (I did not even know that existed!), whip cream, fancy creamers, sprinkles, and coffee-flavored chocolates. My heart was very very happy yesterday.
The coffee love just KEPT ON COMING this morning because a brand new coffee shop literally right down the street from me had its Grand Opening today. They advertised free coffee all day, so of course I pulled in on my way to work. I expected the free drink to be black coffee. Nope! ANY drink, fancy as you want, all for free. They have Oreo Chillers and Rockstar Freezes and Pumpkin Spice Lattes and something called a “Caramel Blondie.” Creature of habit, I went with an iced nonfat vanilla americano but I just might go back after work for something a little more festive. Depends on if I feel like going for a run first or not ;)
Anyways, what I’m REALLY here for is to share the last bit of fun from my weekend that included a fishing trip and my very first Blue Apron meal. Last summer, my family vacationed in Mammoth Lakes, California and went fishing very early in the morning. I caught nothing. This trip, I caught so many fish that I had to take a break to let my dad fish without having to continually re-set my line! :)
We mostly caught trout, and threw them right back in the river (after snapping a picture first, duh. It’s 2016.) It was so peaceful to stand in the river, look out into the forest and just appreciate the autumn day.
That night, we got home feeling drained and lazy. Then I remembered that my first Blue Apron box had arrived on Friday and I had 3 different meals to choose from! I love that they come in refrigerated boxes with all of the ingredients pre-portioned. The recipe cards are so detailed and I really appreciate the photos of each step. I picked the “Summer Pepper Shakshuka” with eggs and za’atar. This was the first time I’ve ever cooked a Middle Eastern dish myself, and I think it turned out pretty dang close to the picture!
There was something relaxing about dicing up all of the fresh vegetables. I threw them into a large pan and added the seasonings that came with my delivery. The best part? PITA BREAD. You know how much I love my carbs. The actual pita was already cooked, but it came in a circle like pizza crust. I got to slice it into triangles, toast in the oven and add the za’atar seasoning. They came out flavorful and toasty, just like they should!
Fresh pea shoots brought some color into this dish! The protein came from farm-fresh eggs that were added to the pan at the last few minutes. It seemed like a savory breakfast-for-dinner meal, but breakfast is my favorite so I was completely onboard for that!
My favorite part of cooking Blue Apron meals is how aesthetic they are plated! I know I’m not the only one who’s always proud when I serve a dish that looks restaurant-worthy. Especially with the Instagram food porn that makes a bowl of oatmeal look like pure art. Taking an extra minute for the presentation is one of those simple little things that is so satisfying, and I think every Blue Apron meal includes a very beautiful presentation.
A little feta sprinkled on top and voila! I think the whole meal took between 30-40 minutes to create. It was bursting with flavors that were somewhat foreign to me. I’d never cooked with za’atar, shallots, or pea shoots before. Cost-wise, Blue Apron meals are considerably less expensive than eating at a restaurant. The meals are less than $10 each, but seasonal specials and discounts are always popping up in my inbox. Plus everything is delivered to your door and pre-measured. I’m at that weird transitional phase between an on-campus college student with a meal plan and dozens of campus dining options to living completely on my own and “fending for myself.” Since health and nutrition are so important to me, I hardly want to get into that bad habit of resorting to microwave meals for dinner every night.
I learned about Blue Apron through fellow bloggers PBFingers.com and HungryRunnerGirl.com & I think it is the perfect transition for me to start learning to cook whole nutritious meals!
There are two more new-to-me meals from my last delivery to create this weekend and I can’t wait to try the Summer Udon Salad! (I opted for the vegetarian meal plan.) After a whole week of 5:00am workouts, I want nothing more than a lazy Friday night at home with yoga pants, Grey’s Anatomy, decaf coffee, and some time in the kitchen with a new healthy recipe. Plus all those Udon noodles will serve as my carbo-loading for tomorrow’s long run! Shelby, my running teammate, and I are going to try to get in 13 miles before the weather turns dreary tomorrow morning.
Clean Broccoli Chicken Quinoa Bake Recipe
Sunrise and sunset in the country is something else. The golden hour lighting hits the barns and fields and ponds so perfectly, that I don’t think it will ever get old. This morning, my running buddy and I ran 8 miles around a golf course during a pink and purple sunrise. Waking up at 5am is rough BUT we got to see swans in the lake, ponies, and quail. It really beats the clunky treadmill with a view of myself in the mirror that I am used to.
Adjusting to life here is starting to get easier. For a few weeks, there was so many random errands and appointments and events. I really started to miss routine. When I had granola bars and trail mix for dinner multiple times a week, I started to crave simple nights with a home-cooked meal. Which is exactly what I did on Monday. But then I was back to the crazy jam-packed schedule the rest of the week and it’s taken me four days to finish this blog post.
Hence, why I’m bringing you a new clean recipe today!
It has a ton of flavor from seasonings, but it’s also made with clean whole ingredients.
This recipe is fairly quick to throw together, especially if you have a dad who knows how raw chicken repulses you and volunteers to prep the protein while you chop the veggies ;)
I tried out a tri-color quinoa from my friends at BetterBody Foods which makes the dish extra beautiful.
Quinoa Chicken Veggie Bake (<– real creative title, no?)
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 heads of broccoli, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 cup baby carrots, chopped
- 1 cup low-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- black pepper
- Mrs. Dash no-sodium seasoning
- optional: chicken broth to cook the quinoa in
(Everything is better with cheeeeeese.)
1.) In a non-stick skillet, cook the chicken over medium heat until they are cooked through.
2.) Add the broccoli, onion, carrot, garlic, and seasonings to the skillet. Heat on low for 10 minutes.
3.) Cook the quinoa in a separate saucepan; bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water or chicken broth to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
4.) Remove both pans from the stove top and combine in a baking dish. Stir in cheddar cheese.
5.) Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. **Optional: add panko bread crumbs and additional cheese for a crispy topping**
It felt good to get some nutritious whole ingredients back on my dinner plate!
Then the next night I totally cancelled it out with some zinfandel and flatbread….A couple girls that I’ve met in Idaho got together for “Wine Down Wednesday.”
When we sat down at an outdoor sushi bar for happy hour, the bartender informed us that it was half-off bottles of wine. Since we like the sweeter fruity wines, we went with white zinfandel. I love the color :)
We ended up hanging out at the restaurant for 3 hours, eventually ordering sushi and flatbreads. Then we saw the movie Bad Moms…oh my gosh. I wouldn’t quite put it on the same level as Bridesmaids but it was pretty hysterical and Kristin Bell is too much. It’s especially fun to watch after a couple glasses of wine in a theater full of giggly girls.
The late night out made the next morning’s run a little more difficult. I decided that my plan to do sprint intervals was overly optimistic and I hung out on the treadmill while watching the news instead. I still got in a solid 6 miles before I ran to Wal Mart – I was “snack lady” for my office meeting that day. (It still kills me to go to Wal Mart. I am a Target girl through-and-through and this is the first time I’ve ever lived more than 2 miles from a Target.) Any other day, I would’ve found a cutesy Pinterest crafty recipe. You know I’m busy when I have to resort to a store-bought bag of trail mix.
And that about catches us up. :) Let me know if you try the recipe!
Girls Night In + Healthy Veggie Dinner
Almost a year ago to the day, I took one of the best vacations of my life so far (what I justified as a “graduation present” to myself). As a country-lovin’ girl with a fascination for small town charm, rural areas, east coast beaches and southern accents, I excitedly planned a roadtrip through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. I still think about that trip at least once a week.
I’m bringing it up again because my mom and I finally started to save all of our pictures from the trip and put them into a scrapbook. We had started our day with a sprints/HIIT workout during sunrise, and after work I had a strength training/plyometrics workout with our trainer for Boise Elite Running. Suffice it to say, I earned my glass of Riesling, which I think heightened my sense of nostalgia over this trip. I may have ended the night by creating a new Pinterest board planning my next southern road-trip (now to decide: autumn or spring?!).
My mom and I planned a girls night to make dinner together, rent a redbox movie, and hang out together. The low-key girls night without workouts, errands, or social stuff was so refreshing since most nights here have been go-go-go. When the sun is out til 10pm, it’s hard to stay home. But then it makes the rare nights with movies and pajamas so much more appreciated! :)
We knew we wanted a healthy dinner so that we could splurge. The most difficult decision: wine or ice cream?!
One of my all-time favorite meals is roasted root vegetables, no matter what time of year. Chopping up the butternut squash is so time-consuming (and slightly dangerous for my fingers) but so worth it. The rest is just chopping up sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, onions, apples, brussels sprouts and whatever else you want to throw on the pan. We mix the veggies with a little bit of olive oil and some marjoram spice, garlic and pepper. Roasted at 425 degrees for 50-ish minutes and they come out so warm, caramelized and flavorful. My mouth is watering!
Have you seen Hello, My Name is Doris? We LOVE Sally Field, especially from the old show Brothers & Sisters. This wasn’t my favorite movie but it was still cute. Some parts were so awkward that it was painful to watch, where you just cringe for the main character. I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10 stars, so we had to add an episode of Friends before we went to bed to end the night on a funny note. :)
Nothing super special about our leisure girls night in but sometimes it’s just what you need. Especially when we’re balancing out such adventurous weekends…..cliff jumping and paddle-boarding are on the agenda for the upcoming weekends. We are living more in Idaho than we did in 20 years in California!
Tomorrow morning, I’ll be meeting a friend I made through the running club in a nearby town for a trail run before work. I love driving when it’s so quiet out and running through the sunrise. The first five minutes after the early alarm clock goes off are the worst but thankfully a pot of coffee is waiting for me. And the feeling after a good run through nature is indescribable; you just have to experience it for yourself.
Hope you have some fun plans this weekend & I’ll catch ya back here Monday!