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