Category Archives: Real Life Stuff
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!
Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear “huckleberry” I think of a charming storybook. Being from Southern California, I’ve never had a huckleberry before and I’ve been dying to find them! Ever since moving to Idaho earlier this summer, I’ve been all about getting out to new places and finding new-to-me adventures to cross off my Idaho Bucket List. The Huckleberry Festival in a small mountain town a couple hours away was by far the most adorable small-town event we’ve been to. I have a feeling it will be an annual summer tradition.
Four years ago, my university track team traveled to Bozeman, Montana for the Track & Field Conference Championships. We flew to Spokane, and drove through Northern Idaho through the scenic Pacific Northwest and into Montana. (Little did I know this would be my new home 4 years later!)
After our race, my best friend Kerri and I walked through the tiny downtown in search of some huckleberries which are native to the area. We’d never had them before but it seemed like something we needed to try while in the PNW. The grocery stores failed us though, and the closest thing we got to huckleberries was a huckleberry-flavored chocolate bar. Okay, we weren’t too sad about that ;)
Since moving to Idaho, I’ve had huckleberry wine and huckleberry-flavored coffee, but no fresh berries. We’ve heard that you have to be careful picking them in the mountains though because you are literally competing with the bears for berries!
My parents and I woke up around 5am on Saturday to drive up into the mountains and be at the 5k race registration by 8am. The entire highway is lined with rivers and streams and farmland, which is even more picturesque during sunrise.
“Welcome to Donnelly. Population: 138”
We had no idea what to expect from this festival. But every event kept us pleasantly surprised and happy we made the trip!
The 8th annual Huckleberry Trot 5k race began at the community center, on a dirt road marking the course with white arrows. We got our t-shirts, purple flip-flops, and a goodie bag. The mayor of Donnelly kicked off the race, and about a hundred of us ran down the country road. The straight long road had some cows on either side….and that’s about it. It was literally in the middle of nowhere. There were a couple of boys a little younger than me who ran in a clump, and I just kept up with them for the first half. I had no expectations for my race time and I wasn’t really trying to hit a certain pace.
I crossed the finish line in 20:22, winning overall female. My grand prize? A Huckleberry Pie, of course! I was so excited to win the pie from one of the local Donnelly bakeries :) My mom raced the 5k as well and finished 3rd in her age group so we both brought home a medal! My dad said he’ll race it with us next year and we will not let him forget it ;)
We celebrated with post-race iced americano’s at the local bakery and split a huckleberry muffin that had just come out of the oven. The whole town spans one block, and it was festively decorated with purple streamers and huckleberry flavored specials everywhere.
This weekend was another reminder that I am extremely blessed to have found a new home in Idaho.
After years of gushing over movies and TV shows with a small-town setting, quaint and charming, I can finally experience it first-hand. We hung out on Main St. for the parade…..which lasted all of 7 minutes.
The day was so beautiful and a popular vacation destination, McCall, wasn’t too far away so we decided to head more north instead of heading back home. Look at how diverse Idaho is – mountains, lake, beachy sand, and a pine tree all in one spot :)
We had lunch on the balcony of a brewery looking out on the lake. I ordered the house salad with grilled chicken and raspberry dressing, which I’m now inspired to recreate at home. It was creamy, not like a regular raspberry vinaigrette. I’m thinking of trying out a greek yogurt raspberry puree type experiment to make my own healthy version of this bright pink dressing…
Everything in this area is blooming so most of the stores and restaurants have fresh flowers. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful! We were feeling like we were on vacation all day.
We skipped dinner and went straight to dessert that night with my fresh huckleberry pie while watching the Olympics :) I also made an AMAZING new healthy recipe with a friend last night, but I’ll save that for my next post.