Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Only in New England..

Yesterday's Workout
5 miles
Stretch, stretch, and more stretch!

On Monday, it was a gorgeous 75 degree day. Tuesday, I got home to see my magnolia tree blooming its beautiful white flowers, suggesting that spring had officially arrived and was here to stay.


...This morning, I wake up to this.



I don't want to talk about it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Our Easter Menu

Yesterday's Workout:
3 mile run with Jasper
Biceps/triceps 


Let's talk food. Brent and I will be hosting our first holiday in our new home this weekend, and we're super excited about it! Our family is pitching in with some delicious dishes, and together we've come up with a pretty fantastic menu for Easter.

Appetizers
Antipasto - It's an Italian staple...salad topped with olives, cured meats, cheeses, and lots of peperoncini (it's Brent's fav!)
Deviled Eggs - We're coloring 4 dozen eggs on Saturday (yikes!) so we'll have plenty to eat after. I'll be keeping them pretty simple - can't go wrong with a classic deviled egg filling, but I like to add some crumbled bacon and chopped chives as garnish.
Chips and Dip - Nothing fancy, but it's always on the table at my mom's house before our Easter meal....Cape Cod chips and Heluva Good French Onion dip...no substitutions.

Dinner
Ham -  Luckily, my mom is bringing her famous ham. I have no idea how she does it, but I need to get the recipe. Ham is one thing I've never attempted cooking before, and it's a little intimidating.
Pineapple Bake - I have to confess, this is my ultimate favorite dish on the table at Easter. This is the recipe my aunt uses. It's by no means diet food, but it's friggen delicious. I usually take a tupperware full for leftovers to have as dessert for the week after Easter. It's my happy place.
Baked Ziti - Ally learned this recipe from her mom, and it's the best I've ever had. Ziti smothered in layers of marinara, ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella? Count me in.
Grilled Vegetable Medley - Don't get me wrong, I'm a veggie lover, but on holidays, it tends to be dish that people forego in order to save room for the good stuff. We're keeping it easy this year and just sticking to a few grilled vegetables: zucchini, summer squash, carrots, red bell peppers, onions.
Corn on the Cob - Because why not?

Dessert
Brownies - My brother is actually a really great cook/baker. I kindly demanded requested that he make his brownies for dessert. I see a brownie sundae in my future.
Coconut Cream Pie - I'll be honest, as much as I love coconut, I'm not the biggest fan of coconut cream pie. It's a little *GASP* too sweet for my liking. But the ladies in my family love it, so my uncle is bringing it along.
Easter-themed Cupcakes - I'm more excited about these than I probably should be, but it's not every day I get to decorate cupcakes. I'm sticking with a simple confetti cupcake with buttercream frosting. The fun isn't in the batter though, it's in the creativity. I found a super cute idea on Pinterest...there's a decent chance this could turn into the biggest Pinterest fail ever, but I promise to post a picture regardless.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Recipe Recommendation: Key Lime Pie Bars

Yesterday's Workout: 5 miles
*in between every 10-minute segment of the run, I completed an upper body strength circuit with drop-sets
1.5 mile walk with Jasper


Don't get me wrong, I am TOTALLY loving the weather we are being handed lately, but I can't help make note of how weird this time of year is. I drive into work with my winter coat, scarf, gloves, and heat on because it's 29 degrees out, and by the time I'm on my way home from work, I have all the windows rolled down, jacket off, sunglasses on, blasting country music, cruising in the gorgeous 65 degree sun. Like I said, weird.

On a totally unrelated note, I made these amazing key lime pie bars the other day and have to do everything in my power to stop myself from opening the fridge more than once a night to steal a "quick bite" after dinner - it's a messy cycle, my friends. Also, I have no idea how Averie was able to cut these bars so nicely for her photography. I let mine sit overnight in the fridge to better set, and I struggled to get a knife cleanly through the crust. So after my failed attempt at cutting them into bite-sized bars, I left the entire dessert intact and just have at it with a fork. Probably not the best decision I've ever made because the pan is now half gone and it's only Thursday. They're too damn good to resist though. Plus, they have lime in them; limes are green; salad is green; so basically these bars are salad. There, I said it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Grilled Maple Mustard Chicken

Yesterday's Workout:
2.5 mile walk with Jasper

Many recipes out there are now using maple syrup, honey, or agave as a sweetener instead of sugar, and I'm totally on board with this swap. Any excuse to use the big ol' jug of delicious NH maple syrup we got last month is a-okay with me.

Last night, I was craving honey mustard chicken on the grill, but I only had about 2 Tbsp left of honey, sooo I was in a little bit of a predicament. What I did have was about 6 cups of maple syrup. Can you really substitute maple syrup for honey in this kind of recipe though? I don't want my chicken to turn out tasting like pancakes. Or do I? Nah, no pancake-flavored chicken for me, thanks.

The only way I was going to know for sure is if I tried it. I mixed together 1:1 the maple syrup with dijon mustard, took a deep breath, and gave it a taste. It was perfection. Surprisingly, I couldn't even taste the maple at all - it tasted like true honey mustard, which I thought was a little weird, but I rolled with it. I threw in a little additional spices for flavoring, and I ended up with my new favorite marinade for grilled chicken: maple mustard. Do it.


Grilled Maple Mustard Chicken
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp dijon mustard
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Dash of each: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Preparation:

  • In a small bow, whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside.
  • Slice each chicken breast in half cross-wise to create 4 thinner chicken breasts.
  • Rub the oil over the chicken in a bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch over the chicken and spread to evenly coat the outside.
  • Pour 3/4 of the maple mustard sauce over the chicken and marinade for 30 minutes. 
  • Grill the coated chicken breasts until fully cooked (about 4 minutes per side, or bake at 350° for 20 minutes)
  • Pour the remaining sauce over chicken before serving.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

5 o'clock somewhere

Yesterday's Workout: 5 miles
1.5 mile walk with Jasper
Abs on stability ball


If only it were 5 o'clock on Friday...it's only Tuesday, and this week is already dragging. Gah!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekend Recap

Yesterday's Workout:
2 mile walk with Jasper
1.5 mile run
Hours and hours of yard work!

You know those weekends you never want to end? Ok, so maybe that's every weekend, but this one was one of the best ones we've had in awhile. It's amazing how quickly the weather here in New England can turn around. Just when you're sitting there at your kitchen table, cozied up in three layers of clothing, staring out at the foot of snow that has covered your lawn since the holidays and wondering why the hell you ever decided to buy a house in a state where it can snow 6 months out of the year...Mother Nature decides it's finally spring and delivers some amazing weather.

On Saturday morning, it was a little overcast from having rained overnight, so we took advantage of getting the indoor to-do's done, including the installation of our wood accent wall in our half bathroom downstairs! We used Stikwood in the color "plum" for this project. A couple hours later and a lot of "crap, what did we get ourselves into?"...we finished!


Now I can finish decorating in there. I'm going with rustic, obviously. It's a really small room, so I just plan to add some things on the wall to brighten it up and give it some character. It's the one bathroom all guests will use so I want to make it nice. Thank god for Pinterest!

On Saturday night, I went out with the ladies to dinner and paint night. We ate at Vine Brook Tavern (amazing as always)...I went with something totally out of the norm for me and ordered the meatloaf. Holy wow, it was delicious. It came with mashed potatoes, haricot vert, crispy onions, and a light gravy. I ate about half and took the rest home for Brent to try - I knew he wouldn't have wanted to miss out on that!


After dinner, we headed over to Pinot's Palette for Paint Night. We bought a Groupon deal for 50% off - Paint Nights have gotten crazy expensive, so it's worth it to buy it off Groupon or Living Social when they become available. We had a blast! Here was my finished product:


Yesterday, we spent the entire day outside finishing the yard clean-up. We removed all the dead leaves, raked out the mulch beds, pruned some of the plant life, swept out the garage, seeded herbs, and planned out our soon-to-be garden bed. I think we can safely say the yard is now ready for spring! Next on the list will be to spread new mulch, plant some flowers (tulips, daylilies, and peonies!), build our garden, and begin sowing next month. It seems like a lot, but it's actually super fun. Maybe I'm just saying that since this is my first spring as a homeowner and it's all still new to me. Ask me again next year, and I might be singing a different tune :-)





Jasper was our trusty side-kick all day, guarding the yard as always. We went for a nice long walk once we finished our yard work. Brent grilled some steak tips for dinner, and we served it with a nice big salad. Perfect way to end the weekend.  My two guys were pretty exhausted after all that!




Friday, April 4, 2014

Loving this weather!

Yesterday's Workout: 5 miles
2 mile warm-up run with Jasper
2.5 mile "me-time" run
1/2 mile cool-down walk
2 hours of yard work


Some people might be freaked out about living diagonally across from a huge cemetery, but I happen to love it. It's the perfect place to run - quiet, shaded, no traffic, and plenty of paths to try out. The one downside is that dogs are not allowed, so when I run with Jasper, I run him in the neighborhood behind my house. It's a very low traffic zone and besides one huge hill, it's pretty flat. The cemetery is full of rolling hills, so my workout yesterday was a little tougher than I expected, especially since I've been running on a treadmill since November. The treadmill is a great alternative and all, but it's nothing compared to the workout you get when you run outdoors - so many more muscles are engaged this way.

After my light 2 mile warm-up with Jasper, I headed out to the cemetery for my own workout. I measured the largest loop in the cemetery to be 1/2 mile, so I completed 5 loops running, and the final loop was a cool-down walk, for a total of 3 miles.

The weather has been absolutely perfect lately for getting things done outside, so I headed home to do some more yard work. For two hours, I raked leaves and needles, cleaned out some of the mulch beds in the back yard, picked up sticks, and filled 3 more huge lawn bags with yard waste. By the end, my back was started to feel it, so I figured it was a good place to stop. I came back inside and couldn't believe it was after 6 o'clock already!

It's supposed to be a pretty nice weekend here in the northeast, so we're hoping to get the rest of the yard clean-up done so that we can anxiously await the spring bloom! Enjoy your weekend!!