Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dancing Through Life!

 I absolutely love music!  I have a friend who is just about to graduate with a music composition degree, and every time I hear one of his pieces, I'm awestruck.  Some people feel God in nature, or in art, but I feel him through music---for sure! I realize that "musicals" are not necessary an outlet of God's glory, however, I feel like they have a lot of soul! I'm amazed by the talents shown in musicals: the instruments, the song-writing, the VOICES!! I had never been to a legit Broadway show, until last night.

Nick surprised me with Wicked tickets about a month ago! I have been overcoming some life issues, and he wanted to reward my progress and hard work.  I was SO excited! I've been on cloud 9 ever since.  

We got all dressed up and had a fabulous night planned! It was almost like the world was out to get us at first.  We forgot the camera (had to use my phone), didn't bring cash for parking, got lost, were the ONLY ones not wearing a hoodie and/or crocs (seriously Illinois? You're not even trying to improve my view of you), Bdubs had an hour wait (my restaurant of choice... over the steakhouse... I love me some wings),  and the Russian-looking man in front of me blocked a lot of the performance with his head. All of those things seemed trivial to the joy that came when the curtain was raised! I was GLOWING! I felt like a little kid again.  I smiled most of the show, cried the rest of the time.  It was so wonderful! The orchestra blew my mind, the voices sounded spot-on to the original actors, and the quality time with the hubby was priceless.  :)

I have a feel this will not be the last Broadway show for the Georges. :)

Even though it was after 1am when we got home... we managed to get a shot of the residual excitement! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Recipes

I was a nanny for a family for 3 years for a family who had my dream kitchen!  They had all the latest gadgets and cookware that made for fun, easy cooking! This, however, spoiled me greatly.  The newlywed lifestyle is far from this extravagant way of living.  They had one piece of cookware that I put on my mental wishlist---a Le Creuset dutch oven! You can sear things (without it sticking), and throw the whole thing in the oven due to its cast iron core! They are beautiful, functional, and SO easy to clean (I value cleanliness above all things).

I had been having some rough days after moving away from my friends and family, so Nick surprised me with a day of shopping at the outlet malls an hour away (smart man..).  Our excursion was so exciting! We walked around and I spotted a Le Creuset store.  I asked Nick if we could go in and just dream.  I was in heaven. Everything was so pretty and colorful! I had my little 10 minutes of dreaming when I suggested we go to a different store.  Without any manipulation on my part, Nick said "We should get one, Adi!"..the persuasive sales lady chimed in with a "that one is 40% off if you're interested. Nick picked it up and moved it to the register! ....I was glowing! :) I held it in my lap the whole way home, thinking of recipes to try!

Isn't she a 'beaut! I can almost hear the jeers of my friends back home! Who gets THIS excited about a pot? ...I do!

So far I've made lettuce wraps, pork roast, jambalaya, and a whole slew of fall soups and stews! I'll share some of our favorites!

Chickpea and Chard Stew

3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
3 sprigs of thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1 bunch of chard, chopped (can use collard greens too!)
2 c baby spinach
1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 15-oz cans chickpeas,rinsed
1 15-oz can great northern beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
1-1 1/2 vegetable stock (low sodium preferred)
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 T chili pepper
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 c water

With the great northern beans:  serving size: 1 cup  cal: 400 fiber: 23 g (holy cow!) protein 22 g
Without the great northern beans:  serving size 1 cup  cal 283  fiber: 13.4  protein: 14 g

We served it with bruschetta! YUM!!! we used whole wheat bread, diced tomatoes, garlic, thyme (i didnt have basil), white onion, and olive oil.  it was incredible!

Turkey Chili 

2 lb lean ground turkey (make sure the ratio is close to 93/7, the less fat, the better!)
1/2 onion (red or white), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 box 2-Alarm Kit Chili Mix (google it! Its a great spice kit)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 11.5-oz bottle of beer, lager makes the best flavor (look away my fellow Nazarenes)
1 c tomato juice
1 cup water
1 jalapeno pepper, diced

serving size:  1 1/3 c. cal: 275 fiber .62 g  protein: 29.8 g
We serve it with green onion, sour cream, cheese, and mutligrain tortilla chips!

Red Chicken Chili

1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, with juices
1 15-oz can great northern beans, (rinsed)
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6-oz can tomato paste
2 jalapenos, diced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
2 tsp chili pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
2 cups water

serving size: 1 cup  cal: 331 fiber 14.8 protein 28.6
we like it with tortilla chips, a grilled cheese, saltines, salsa, etc!

Well, there ya have it! Money did buy happiness in this case.  :) I'm very thankful for such a wonderful husband who gives me gifts when I don't deserve them.  Whining about moving hardly merits rewards- but I'm thankful, nonetheless. He loves to eat, and I love to cook---we're a match made in heaven. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin lovin'

I was texting Nick the other day and called him "pumpkin", and then pitched the idea of "seasonal pet names".  I thought it was clever and could get interesting.  He responded with "I'm gonna be late for work, witch-face".  I retracted my request shortly thereafter.

Anyway, I just love the Fall! Its such a gorgeous time of year--probably my favorite! Its still warm enough outside to go running, but breezy enough to wear a closet full of trendy boots.  I love the deep colors of orange, red and brown-it all just makes me so happy! I got into the Fall spirit a few weeks ago at the grocery store and purchased a very small, pathetic-looking pumpkin.  It looked quite funny in our bare apartment, but it did spark the desire to make pumpkin-flavored goodies! Here's a few of our pumpkin creations:

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 T Truvia (if you dont want it low-cal, add 1/2 c. sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup craisins

directions: add flour, sugar, truvia, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl.  In large bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, oil, and milk.  Add the dry to the wet ingredients by folding it together. (if you over-mix, the muffins will be dense), carefully fold in craisins.

For cup cake pans: 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes
For mini muffin cake pan: 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes

We used a mini muffin pan so they would be less calories for 1.  1 serving is 55 calories with 1 g protein and 1.5 g of fat! :) pretty tasty!

I told Nick to grease the pan... he took his job very seriously. :)

Pumpkin "Ice Cream" 

I must give props to Amber for this one.  She developed this little treat a while back and I tweaked it a little. Its delicious.

1 container vanilla chobani yogurt
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
dash of cinnamon
dash of pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 little packet of truvia (i just added that because i have a serious sweet tooth)

combine all the ingredients, and put in the freezer for 1.5 hours and it gets really smooth and cold--it tastes just like ice cream!

It makes 1 serving.  and its 166 calories, 4 g of fiber, 17.5 g of protein (wow!), and .4 g of fat! and its PACKED with vitamin A.

Toasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

This recipe is NOT good for you. lol...but its delicious!

1 c. fresh pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional...but fantastic!)
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)

Mix everything together in a large bowl and then spread it out on a baking sheet covered in foil (otherwise they will stick to the pan).  375 degrees for 15 minutes on one side, remove to stir, and then bake 15 more minutes.  Keep an eye on them.. it may not take that long depending on the oven.. and they burn quickly.

Here's pictures of us carving the pumpkin! :)

Say hello to Nicks little friend.  He created this guy when I was working hard to get the guts out of our tiny pumpkin!

My husband is not a hillbilly.  I warned him his nudity would be blogged. He was indifferent as always.

Not the most flattering of pictures after going to the gym... It looks like a "first day of school" photo. It was the only photo Nick agreed to take of our sad pumpkin.  I thought the "G" would be cute...we just ended up looking like die-hard Packers fans (this one's for you Bekah!). It was still a fun experience!