Category Archives: Recipes

What I Ate Wednesday (Roasted Veggie Salad Jar)

I like food. I like food a lot. And I like seeing what other people eat.  Here’s a peek into my Wednesday eats courtesy of my phone photos.

Breakfastphoto (13)
Steel cut oats (made in my handy rice cooker) with some blueberries and walnuts
Coffee.  I make my own half-caf mix from The Roasterie’s Betty’s Recipe.  The use Swiss Water Process to make their deccaf which makes me feel better about drinking decaf without lots of chemicals.


Lunchphoto (12)
Fabulous Jar Salad! The bottom is about 2 tablespoons of a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, followed by a layer of roasted brussels sprouts and roasted cauliflower.  Next layer is diced, roasted chicken.  Topped off with lots of yummy spinach and a sprinkling of grated sharp cheddar cheese.

I made a bunch of these up on Sunday and they are seriously great throughout the week.  To roast the veggies – preheat your oven to 400 and toss the veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 40 minutes – 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so.  And shredding your own cheese results in stickier cheese but is SO delicious!

Latte (honey and cinnamon at the bottom of the cup – my favorite!) in a research group meeting
A handful of trail mix at another meeting

Leftover Italian beef sandwiches on an onion roll, carrots and red pepper slices with hummus.
Followed by some herbal tea — Candycane Lane — my favorite!

Earlier in the week, Jack and I made some muffins.  He calls all muffins, “muffin man.” Kills me every time.  Although I didn’t have any today, I thought about this funny little boy and laughed to myself at my computer.  Jack Muffin Man

Delicious food today!  What was the best thing you ate today?

Two Things Tuesday

After a brief hiatus, I’m back to the blog.  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I got my act together and worked ahead on as many papers as possible so that my boys and I could go visit our families.  It was so worth it!

Two Things for this Tuesday after Thanksgiving:

#1-Matt and I went to Crossfit Effingham together on Saturday morning when we were visiting his parents.  Jack played with his grandparents while Matt and I did a partner tabata workout.  10am sweaty date (with 24 other people)?  Yes, please!photo (1)

If you’re ever in Effingham, they offer a free Saturday morning class.

#2 –I love roasted vegetables!  They take such little prep and are pretty hard to mess up.  And now that Jack eats almost everything we eat, I have even more incentive to roast a nice variety for us.  Last night was cauliflower, butternut squash and red onion.2013-12-02 18.24.01

Chop all veggies, drizzle with some olive oil, and sprinkle with a little pepper.  Then bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Viola!

Jack can now sign for “more” so I was sure he was a fan of these veggies when he would ask for more, then give me a cheesy grin.  2013-12-02 18.24.35What are your favorite vegetables to roast?  Have a great week!

Roasted Veggie Quinoa

Even though he is only 10 months old, I think Jack is a lot like me.  I went to a yoga class last weekend.  It was my first one since maternity leave (wowza!  How did that happen??)  and was a wonderful class…but there were a couple of funny little incidents.  About 20 minutes into class a lady with THE LOUDEST FLIP FLOPS EVER came trudging into class and threw down her mat.  She wiped out during a fairly normal pose, got up and yelled “I’m ok!”  At that point I was looking around the room for a camera because I figured her antics were a joke.  Sometimes loud, disruptive people in the middle of a yoga practice annoy me but I found this experience especially amusing.  I came home after class to have dinner with my guys and when I was telling Matt the story and laughing hard, Jack started laughing so hard he gave himself hiccups.  This guy likes a good joke, and had me laughing even harder.  This little funny guy is SO my kid.

In addition to appreciating my humor, he seems to appreciate my favorite foods too. I made two batches of this:  one to have for lunches throughout the week and one to puree to freeze in pouches for Jack to enjoy later.  I originally only made one batch but when he finished two baby bowls of this dinner I knew I had to make another for just him.

This is a great one to make over the weekend to enjoy leftovers all week.  The flavors meld together nicely and this can be served warm or cold.  I especially recommend crumbling a piece of manchego cheese over the top of it.

Roasted Veggie QuinoaIMG_2743
1 cup of quinoa
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 large bag of kale, roughly chopped
1 can of beets (sliced or chopped is fine.  Just get regular, not pickled)
1 can of black beans, rinsed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Balsamic vinegar



  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Place sweet potatoes and red onion in a dutch oven of oven save dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Stir.  Place in oven for 20 minutes.
  2. While veggies are roasting, cook quinoa according to directions.  (I highly recommend using a rice cooker).
  3. After veggies have been roasting for about 20 minutes, remove from the oven and stir in as much kale as you can start to wilt.
  4. Place the veggies back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
  5. When the veggies are done roasting, add the quinoa the veggie mixture.  Add the beets and the black beans.  Stir to combine.  (at this point I removed the amount I was going to puree for Jack)
  6. Add a healthy amount of balsamic vinegar and stir to combine.  Feel free to add additional salt and pepper to taste and then serve…or portion out individual servings into Mason Jars for lunch throughout the week.

Chicken Enchiladas

Hello!  Long time no see.  Life seems to have gotten busy, but when doesn’t life seem busy?  I made these enchiladas two weekends ago and was planning on sharing the recipe right away.  I made them on a day when Jack was really asserting his independence and I went to bed wondering how time went by so quickly.  The next day, when I planned to write up this recipe, he woke very early into his nap and seemed to want to be held.  Instead of doing anything “productive” that I always scurry along to do during nap time, I held him, rocked and sang as he slipped back to sleep.  When I looked at his beautiful sleeping face, and smelled in his sweet baby hair, I soaked in every minute of that hour…one of the best hours of my whole week.

Long intro to let you know that this recipe makes two batches.  Enjoy the first right away and freeze the other to enjoy on a weekend that you are busy living life to do much cooking.
Chicken EnchiladasIMG_2741
(Based on this recipe in the October 2013 Cooking Light)

2 chicken breast halves
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jar salsa verde (16 oz), divided
6 oz cream cheese (I used 1/3-less-fat)
20 (6-inch) corn tortillas
¼- ½ cup shredded sharp cheese
salt and pepper
garlic powder

  1. Pre-heat over to 400.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken breasts (both sides) with a good does of black pepper and garlic powder and some freshly ground salt.
  3. Pan sear the chicken breasts over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes per side.
  4. Put the chicken in a baking dish and bake in the oven for another 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
  5. While chicken is cooking, saute the onions, carrots, and peppers.
  6. When chicken is done cooking, shred the chicken and combine with sauteed veggies and cream cheese.
  7. Pour a small amount of the salsa verde on a plate and place a corn tortilla over the salsa to coat one side.IMG_2738
  8. Fill each tortilla with a heaping ¼ cup of chicken mixture.  Place the filled tortillas into two baking dishes (one to bake now and one to freeze for cooking later).IMG_2739
  9. Spoon the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and (optionally) sprinkle with cheese.
  10. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, if you’re planning on serving today.  Freeze remaining baking dish before baking if you plan to enjoy at a later date.

Greek Mason Jar Salad

Life has gotten very busy around here.  Having our house on the market has meant less time in the kitchen and more time ensuring the house is in showing shape every time we leave the door.  Spending less time at home hasn’t been all bad though.  Last weekend we were away from the house most of Saturday and Sunday.  We filled those days with 6 month pictures, lots of time at the park, and visiting with friends.  After feeling like Matt and I needed to be very productive during every second at home it was so nice to have an excuse to have to be out of the house and to have lots of family time together.

I skipped making salad jars last week.  I didn’t know that I would miss them as much as I did!  So this weekend I grabbed all of the supplies to re-do my favorite salad in a jar – Greek Salad!  If you’re looking for a salad with more of a cohesive feel this is a great one to try.

I’ve made these with chicken or vegetarian with chickpeas.  Both are excellent!

Greek Mason Jar Salad

IMG_1940It is really important to make sure your jar and all ingredients are dry before layering so you don’t end up with a soggy salad.  I used the wide mouth quart-sized jars.


IMG_1937Marinated, cooked and chopped chicken breast
Pitted green olives
Cucumber, chopped
Red onion, chopped
Pepperoncini peppers
Grape tomatoes
Greek salad dressing
Feta cheese


  1.  Place chicken breasts in a baking dish and cover with Greek Salad dressing.  Bake in an oven at 350 for 30 minutes or until cooked through.  Let cool before dicing into bite-sized pieces.
  2. After all vegetable are washed, cut, chopped and dried layer your salad in this order:
    1. Bottom layer – dressing (seriously – put it on in the jar)
    2. Second layer – all hearty veggies (olives, cucumber, red onion, peppers and tomatoes)
    3. Third layer – chicken (or chickpeas if you are omitting meat)
    4. Last layer – greens.  I typically use a combination of spinach and romaine.
    5. If not eating the salad that day, bring your feta in a separate contatiner to add to the salad before eating.  The first time I made these salads, I put the cheese at the top.  It was acceptable but the cheese had taken on too much moisture by the end of the week salads.

Jack was my helper this weekend.  He kept me company and practiced his percussion skills while I chopped and layered.IMG_2122

If you are meal planning for the upcoming week, make sure to add this to your menu.  What a perfect salad for summer!

Why I Love the Rain and Other Weekend Info

I hope your week is off to a great start and that you feel refreshed after the weekend.  Last week was a little draining and made me enjoy my weekend even more than usual.  Jack and I spent a lot of time outside on Friday.  It was his first time to play on a blanket in the yard and the first time to feel grass on his little tootsies.  He was one happy baby!IMG_1829

Saturday started with morning cuddles before heading off to teach spin class.  I had a woman stay after class to say she came to my last class before Jack was born and that the class changed her perspective on fitness.  She was viewing exercise as just another thing to check off the list, but got a kick out of seeing how much fun I seemed to be having even with a belly full of baby.  What a great feeling to be able to have a positive influence on someone!  It is easy to take our bodies and our abilities for granted.  There are plenty of people side-lined out there who would love to be able to have your capabilities.  Being able to move your body is a gift.  Get a smile on your face and get going!

The rest of our Saturday involved grocery shopping with my sidekick, HopFest with friends, plenty of laundry and a graduation party.  Sunday started with jogging with(out) Jack before Jack’s BFF, Meyer’s, baptism party.  What cute boys!IMG_1860

Sunday continued with more picture taking and lots of family time.IMG_1850




During his last nap of the day, Matt and I chatted, chopped and put together these salad jars for the week:

IMG_1883Quinoa/Lentil/Chickpeas Mason Jar Salads

Bottom layer: Italian dressing
Next layer:  chopped carrots, chopped celery, chopped bell peppers
Next layer:  lentils and quinoa mix
Next layer:  chickpeas
Next layer:  spinach and romaine lettuce
Final layer:  sharp cheddar cheese

This has been my favorite salad so far!  I love, love, love cold quinoa and lentils on my salad.  It is always my go-to at the salad bar at Whole Foods.  I cooked the lentils and quinoa together in my new rice cooker.  I think I’m in love with this appliance…after I experiment more I will give some details.

I saved the best for last (at least by my new standards).  I am making an effort to live in the moment and slow down to enjoy the little things.  Time is going by so quickly, and I am reminded of this fact every time I look at Jack.  Sunday was his first big rainstorm.  Matt, Jack and I stood in the door and let the wind hit us as we watched the rain together.   He kept turning around to look at us with his eyes and his mouth open as if to say, “Do you guys see this?!”  I think I was as thrilled to watch Jack’s reaction as he was to see the rain falling.

I hope your week brings many happy small moments and the ability to slow down and enjoy them!

Kale Chips

Jack apparently had a very hungry day.  His teacher called to ask if it would be ok to thaw some milk to give him in addition to his usual servings.  We all have hungry days, and I figure if Jack is having hungrier than normal day there is nothing better for him than an extra feed of the most complete food he can eat.  (And some fresh air on a walk)2013-05-07 18.27.01

Similarly, on my hungry days when I need quantity I try to go for a nutrient dense food like greens.  Greens that stand in for chips? Even better.  We are pretty big on kale chips around my house.  Preparing them is really easy and this is barely a recipe but is definitely worth sharing.

Kale Chips


  • A big bunch of kale.  Fresh kale really cooks up when baked so make sure you are generous and fill the baking sheet.
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wash kale and remove any of the tougher stalks.
  3. Dry kale thoroughly.
  4. Place kale on baking sheet with an edge.  Drizzle kale with olive oil.  Matt is more generous with his pours but make sure you aren’t too generous so that the kale gets soggy.
  5. Sprinkle kale with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  6. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until lightly crisped.  Keep an eye on them the first time you bake to get a gauge on your oven.  These chips can burn easily!



Mason Jar Salads (Again)

I am always a little amazed when Sunday night rolls around that the weekend is already over. I have always loved weekends but I appreciate my time with my family even more these days. Weekends this year don’t equate with sleeping in or half day crazy workout sessions, but they still include meal prep.

I mentioned how well Mason Jar Salads turned out. This weekend Matt said he would be game to try them too. His request was to include chicken breasts in his version.

Cobb Caesar Mason Jar Salad Directions:
Use a wide mouth quart-sized jar and layer, in this order:
1. Bottom layer – 2 Tbsp Caesar dressing
2. Second layer – ¼ cup chopped red peppers
3. Third layer – ¼ cup chickpeas
4. Fourth Layer – ½ chicken breast, chopped
5. Fifth Layer – 1 ½ boiled egg, chopped
6. Sixth Layer – Chopped Romaine lettuce
7. Seventh Layer – shredded mozzarella cheese

Make sure that the dressing is only at the bottom of the jar, and doesn’t get on the sides of the jar.
Matt said that it was one of the best lunches he has had in awhile. He is doing this again for lunch tomorrow, and said he would love to have a jar salad two or so lunches a week every week.
2013-05-06 19.40.01


I based my salads for the week on the Main Street Chop Chop from the Mixx

Main Street Chop Chop Mason Jar Salad Directions
Use a wide mouth quart-sized jar and layer, in this order:
1. Bottom layer – 2 Tbsp Stone Ground Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
2. Second layer – ¼ cup chopped red peppers
3. Third layer – ¼ cup chickpeas
4. Fourth Layer – ½ cup lentils
5. Fifth Layer – ¼ cup chopped chicken breast
6. Sixth Layer – Chopped Romaine lettuce
7. Seventh Layer – Thinly sliced cabbage
8. Seventh Layer – shredded mozzarella cheese

Mustard Vinaigrette
• 1 tps minced garlic
• ¼ cup red wine vinegar
• 5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a jar with lid, add all ingredients. Close jar lid and shake to combine ingredients. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Do yourself a favor and add jar salads to your meals next week and save some time for important things, like naps. 2013-05-06 18.44.22

Layered Mason Jar Salads

I might be a little late to the Mason Jar salad party (salad party…whaaat?) but I am happy that I finally tried it out this week. Isn’t this beautiful? (Well, not my photography skills. I have a lot to learn and need a lot of practice. )IMG_1693

I take a salad to work for about 80% of my lunches. This has meant cleaning and chopping veggies nearly every Sunday, and dividing those veggies into multiple separate containers. You see I don’t like to premix my salads. There is just something unappetizing to me to have all of the beautiful colored veggies and proteins at the bottom of a bowl of wilted lettuce. So I typically portion out a daily serving of protein in one container, and then all of the mixed veggies for the day in a separate container, and my greens in a third container. For 4 days of salad this meant 12 containers (Impressed with my math skills? Why, yes. I AM an engineer)hogging room in my fridge, not to mention the constant experiment of how to best bring salad dressing.

This week I did the same prep of cleaning and chopping but layered my ingredients nicely in a jar for my Monday-Thursday lunches. The lettuce was still crisp and the salads were very fresh. Here’s a quick how-to for Mason Jar Salads.IMG_1691

Mason Jar Salad Directions:
It is really important to make sure your jar and all ingredients are dry before layering so you don’t end up with a soggy salad. I used the wide mouth quart-sized jars. It might not look like a huge jar but it completely fills a restaurant size bowl. I also dump my jar into a bowl rather that eating directly from the jar. Seems easier to eat and I like having the layers mixed together.  After some research and planning this is what I have found to be the optimal layering method:
1. Bottom layer – dressing
2. Second layer – hearty vegetables (think cucumbers, peppers, beets, carrots, onions, etc.) These vegetables will marinate in the dressing so keep that in mind when picking your dressing and veggies.
3. Third layer – proteins (beans, eggs, or meat). You could also do a grain here if you wanted.
4. Last layer – greens.

For my first salad I used:
1. 2 Tbsp of a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2. Cucumbers, peppers, red onion, grape tomatoes
3. Chickpeas
4. Chopped romaine lettuce

I didn’t think cheese would be great in the jar so cheese is one of your favorite ingredients I would recommend brining it separately. I love avocado on my salads but it is definitely an ingredient that I like fresh so I will bring it separate when I decide to incorporate it.

Very easy way to get lots of fresh vegetables in your week and a very easy lunch to grab from the fridge on your way to work. Matt likes salads too but rarely takes one to work. He said I could sign him up for a couple next week. I think this will become a regular lunch in our house, so again I would love suggestions. What are your favorite salad combinations?

Homemade Lärabars

It’s funny – I had essentially no sweets cravings during pregnancy.  (But don’t even ask how many bags of frozen green beans I consumed or how many times I suggested some sort of beef dish for dinner)  But, unfortunately, my sweet tooth came back and I am trying to tame the beast.  I was trying to satisfy my sweet tooth with a piece of fruit after lunch but that really wasn’t cutting it.

After my friend, Megan, posted about her homemade Lärabars I thought they could be the perfect solution.  Lärabars are so yummy and have a very simple list of ingredients:  Dates, nuts, mix-ins, spices.  So last weekend I finally tried out a couple of variations.  These bars can last for about a month in the fridge so I made a couple of types so that Matt could take them for lunch too.

Apple Pie Homemade Lärabar

(adapted from this recipe at Rawified)


  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • ½ cup dried apple rings, diced
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon


  • Combine the nuts and dates in a food processor.  Process for about 2 minutes, or until the ingredients start to form a sticky “dough.”
  • Add the cinnamon to the dough and combine for another 30 seconds or until you can see the cinnamon throughout the dough.
  • Add the dried apples and raisins and pulse until combined, making sure not to overprocess or liquefy the dough.
  • Get six pieces of plastic cling wrap ready
  • Divide and shape the dough into six equal sized bars, and wrap in cling wrap.  Store wrapped bars in an airtight container.Food ProcessorApple Cinnamon

I love anything cinnamon so I knew that this would be a hit with me.  Matt likes chocolate so I made a chocolate chip version too.  Same basic directions as above but with these ingredients:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lärabar Ingredients:

  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • ¾ cup chocolate chipsCookie Doug

And because I had coconut on hand, I made these two as well:

Choco-Coco Lärabar Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mixed almonds and walnuts
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Key Lime Pie Lärabar Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup dates
  • Juice of 3 Key Limes
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

The verdict? Finished Products Matt loved the cookie dough bars and is working his way through the six.  I decided he liked those so well I wouldn’t try them and would leave all for him.  I love the apple pie bars and really liked the choco-coco.  I’m just so-so about the key lime pie.  Despite a good amount of lime juice, the almond flavor was overwhelming.


Do you have a favorite Lärabar flavor?  I’m looking for flavors to try out after this stash is gone.