Category Archives: domesticated

Holiday Hostess

My cheeks and jaw are sore from laughing so hard last night. The can’t-breathe, eyes-are-watering kind of laughing. Those are good moments. :)

My parents are very good at hosting friends for meals and tend to go way overboard with the amount of food they prepare. Last night, they set up a build-your-own-pizza bar for some of their friends and mine while we played games like Taboo for about 6 hours.

I made a ‘fruits & veggies’ pizza – pineapple, tomato, artichokes, bell peppers, onions and spinach. It’s funny how differently everyone designs their pizzas! My best friend Kerri and I used to have a lot of homemade pizza nights in college and we had very strong opposing opinions on cheese placement. She argues that the cheese goes between the sauce and veggies like glue. I believe cheese goes on the very top like a seal. We agree to disagree.

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Seeing how my parents host parties and events with their friends makes me excited to do the same in my own place. Two years ago, I hosted Thanksgiving at my apartment in Flagstaff, AZ while I was a senior in college and I loved planning the drinks and decorations and place settings. Last year, I was in charge of appetizers and dessert.

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Obviously food is at the core of holiday celebrations. When you live that healthy lifestyle, a full day of feasting can be a little stressful. I don’t like to let my healthy values fall to the wayside on major holidays because overindulging typically results in feeling guilty and that is not a feeling to associate with a day of thankfulness.

Side dishes that are individually portioned are one way to avoid over-eating. One pre-sliced crostini with a tablespoon of toppings is a two-bite snack that won’t ruin your appetite for dinner.

Our Thanksgiving dishes aren’t extremely traditional. Basic recipes are typically heavy on the butter/salt/cheese ingredients and low in nutritional value. Plus, after decades of the same boring turkey and mashed potatoes, we are ready for something unique, spicy and creative! We’ve made curried sweet potatoes (try something besides marshmallows, I dare you) and bacon-roasted brussel sprouts. I do think these butternut squash and sage crostini’s were my favorite appetizer, probably in large part to how pretty they plate!

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Butternut Squash & Basil Crostini App: 

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch of fresh sage, rinsed
  • 4 Laughing Cow cheese wedges (I used the asiago flavor)
  • 1 baguette, cut into 12 slices

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir butternut squash cubes into the olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on a cookie sheet.

2.) Bake the squash for 45 minutes.

3.) Place the baguette slices in the oven for 4-5 minutes until warm. Top with a tablespoon of cheese, squash and some fresh sage.

Enjoy!

Another appetizer success last year was my spicy cranberry jalapeno relish and “stuffing sliders.” I’ll share this clean-eating recipe later this week.

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A week from today, my office is having a Friends-giving potluck lunch with the office and I signed up for a sweet potato dish. Sweet potatoes are one of my top 5 favorite foods ever and I’ll make a post about my favorite sweet potato recipes as well. If you’ve only ever eaten sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar, these will change your life. ;)

Feel free to share any of your favorite healthy or not-so-healthy holiday recipes!

XO Kenz.

 

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 ;)

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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! :)

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Happy Free-Coffee-Friday!

XO Kenz.

 

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Quesadillas

The new country lifestyle’s appeal has not worn off yet…last night I attended my first rodeo! People-watching is one of the best parts (the cow tie-down and roping just looked sad to me), and there were plenty of cowboys to watch. I don’t know what it is about the “western” style but something about a button-down and a good-fitting pair of jeans is so classic.

Idaho country rodeo Stronglikemycoffee.comI talked to one of my best friends from Arizona on the phone while driving to the rodeo and joked how it would be just like the Nicholas Sparks story “The Longest Ride.” It totally was! Well, it was just like the movie if you take out Clint Eastwood’s son, the romance plot line, the North Carolina setting, the southern accents, and the rich guy’s inheritance. Okay basically the only thing it had in common with the movie was the amount of beer. But it was the first time I’ve seen real live bull riding and a few hundred intoxicated rednecks shouting at livestock so it was equally entertaining.

Idaho Rodeo Dog Stronglikemycoffee.com

Idaho rodeo stronglikemycoffee.com

Anyways, a friend and I got together over the weekend and we made a “healthified” quesadilla recipe that I have to share! Quesadillas are always one of my guilty-pleasure cravings, but a bunch of cheese and a tortilla is hardly nutritious. It’s quite a calorie-heavy meal with out any beneficial vitamins or nutrients to offer. By filling up the quesadilla with fresh roasted veggies and lean white-meat chicken, we bring a little more balance and nutrients into the dish and make it a little less guilty :)

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Quesadillas Recipe Stronglikemycoffee.com Blog

We diced up half of a butternut squash, a red onion, some sweet potato and bell peppers. After tossing them in some olive oil, garlic and pepper, we roasted them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Then cut up some baked chicken into bite-sized chunks and rinsed some green chiles too.

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Quesadilla Recipe Stronglikemycoffee.com

I opted for a whole wheat tortilla. A layer of shredded cheese, some veggies, some chicken, and another layer of cheese before folding in half.

Roasted Veggie and Chicken Quesadilla Recipe Stronglikemycoffee.com

We cooked them in a skillet over medium heat, flipping once. It makes them SO crisp with the nice toast marks :)

Roasted Vegetable Chicken Quesdadillas Recipe Stronglikemycoffee.com

Obviously it’s not quite as quick n’ easy as microwaving some cheese in a tortilla but the little extra prep work is way worth it.

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Quesdadillas on Stronglikemycoffee.com

I realize that I’m a decade late to the party, but I am currently in the middle of watching the entire Harry Potter series for the first time. One of my new friends here just finished reading the novels and wanted to re-watch the movies. I invited myself to join her because I’ve never made it past movie #4 and I wanted to finally see what all the Harry Potter hype was about! Over the weekend, after the Huckleberry Festival and my morning long run, we knocked out movies #5 and #6. They are getting dark!

Tonight we’re having a back-to-back double feature to finish up the last couple of movies in the series and I made some festive HP-themed treats because my obsession with Pinterest crafts run deep. (This is my third cutesy Pinterest recipe of the summer – 4th of July flag pretzels, watermelon rice crispie treats, and now these owl cupcakes.) I have to share a picture before I sign off for the day because they are just too cute to eat!

Harry Potter Owl Cupcake Stronglikemycoffee.com Blog

Harry Potter Owl Cupcakes on Stronglikemycoffee.com Blog

XOXO Kenz.

 

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