Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep!

I've realized recently that the stress in my daily life is really affecting my ability to sleep deeply. And anyone who has experienced Sleep Deprived Bethany knows to steer clear of her!
So, in an effort to improve my sleep habits, I have adopted a nightly (or most nights) "get ready for bed" ritual.
Now, my previous "get ready for bed" ritual was pretty straightforward: 
1. Lie in bed for hours watching You Tube videos
2. Groggily eye clock and realize it's time to remove makeup
3. Take out face wipe from bedside table and remove makeup
4. Slather on closest moisturizer and eye cream
5. Read a few pages from latest book
6. Fall asleep reading said book
7. Wake up a little while later completely unable to fall back to sleep!
8. Eventually fall into fitful sleep, only to awake the following morning even more tired!
It seems like it would be a fail safe routine, but alas, it is not! Apparently, it is wise to prepare your body and mind for sleep. Who knew???
Here's what I've been trying lately, and I am already enjoying more positive results!
1. Light candles in bedroom
My favorite candle right now is Marshmallow Fireside from Bath & Body Works
2. Take a long, hot, shower or bath (also with candles)
3. Slather on body cream
 (always a good option: Calm to Your Senses)
4. Slather on moisturizer and eye cream
(Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre & Nuance Anti-Aging Eye Cream)
5. Dress in PJ's and proceed to bedroom to practice a 30 minute yoga session
Love this candle too! Calming Lavender Vanilla

This is a great yoga DVD for beginners! Element: Hatha & Flow
6. Feel delightfully drowsy
7. Read a few pages from latest book
8. Fall into blissful slumber
9. Wake refreshed!
(Sometimes, I might also have some hot tea while reading)
I'm not a big fan of chamomile, so this one does the trick for me! Numi Pu-erh Chocolate Tea

And on that note, I'm feeling very sleeeepy!
 Namaste, peaceful dreams, and goodnight!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Yummy Mini-Meal/Snack

One evening recently, I had eaten a very early dinner and by 9pm was starving! I didn't want to eat too much right before bed, but I wanted a little something substantial too, ya know?
After a little root around the old pantry, this is what I came up with;
 PB & Spiced Banana Sandwich.
1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
Arnold Flax & Fiber Sandwich Thins
about 1/2 a banana
sprinkle with Pumpkin Pie Spice or just plain cinnamon
This is snack packs a decent amount of fiber into a small portion coming in at about 7 grams, and more is more when it comes to fiber! Plus it's filling and delicious! I've eaten it several more times since that first discovery. I think it will be my new go-to quickie meal!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cooking to Combat the Blues

A few things before I jump into the recipes:
  1. Last week was a bad, bad week, the kind you want to erase from the history of your life.
  2. I do not particularly enjoy cooking.
  3. I've decided I need to start limiting my intake of sodium.    
  4. I hate it when we Fall Back and the days become so dark and short. I need sunlight!
So, with those points in your mind, let me proceed...
Last night the time changed, and while most people are super excited about the prospect of gaining an extra hour of sleep, I always dread the time change because I personally would rather lose an hour of sleep and continue having long sunny days! Every year I go through what I call my "Hibernation Period". This morning I woke up already blue from the lingering effects of my awful last week and with the knowledge that the day would be so short. But as I was drinking my coffee, I decided that I would not allow myself to succumb to the winter blues! (Sometimes you just have to chant in your head "I will be happy, I will be happy, I will be happy" until you actually start to feel that way.) Therefore, I went from window to window opening all the blinds letting in as much light as possible, turned on my Sunday Mix and peered at the contents of my fridge. That's when I realized I had the ingredients to make not one but TWO fabulous meals that would most likely last me all week. Hooray! With a renewed sense of purpose I began to create the recipes. 
Now, last week when I was grocery shopping, I really didn't have any specific recipes in mind so I just threw a bunch of ingredients that looked enticing into the basket thinking I could figure out what to do with them later. And as I pulled everything out onto the counter, I knew a recipe wasn't really needed, I could just throw everything in and it would be tasty! That's the way I like to cook. I may be a planner in other areas of my life, but when it comes to cooking, I just can't be bothered to plan it all out!
First, I put together what I will call...
Chicken Curry and Vegetables
6 frozen chicken breast tenderloins
1 can lite coconut milk
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 12oz. bag vegetable medley
1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped into large chunks
1 heaping tsp. curry powder (or add to taste)
I threw all the ingredients into the Crock Pot, turned it on High and went on to recipe #2.
Beef with Broccoli Soup
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped into large chunks
6 new potatoes
about half of an 8 oz bag of Tyson Grilled & Ready Steak Strips (you could definitely use the whole bag, but I only had half left, or skip this entirely)
1 12oz bag of Broccoli & Cauliflower (you could chop your own but I got these bags BOGO!)
1 32oz box of reduced sodium beef broth
3 cups water
First, I sauteed the minced garlic with the onions in a little drizzle of olive oil.
Then I chopped the new potatoes in half. You could chop them into smaller pieces, but I do not like to chop! Plus, when they are cooked you can easily cut them up smaller with your spoon!
Add those to the pot, then add the beef broth and water. Finally, dump in the vegetables and give everything a stir.
It should look something like this:
Simmer at a soft boil for about 30 mintues. (You can let it simmer on low for as long as you want to let the flavors marry)
Finally at the end, I topped my individual bowl with a tiny dash of salt and pepper (see #3 above) and some bean sprouts. 
They give the soup a nice little crunch! 
(I will also add some of these to my Chicken Curry when that is ready!)
And here is the final result!
You can also add rice to the curry, but it tastes great without rice too!
I divided these up into one serving containers and put them in the fridge so that during the week I can just grab them and go! And since I am sure to be suffering from Seasonal Affected Disorder in the week ahead (NO! "I will be happy, I will be happy, I will be happy!"), those ready made meals are sure to come in handy!
Let me know if you try the recipes and how you like them!
Now, the sun has mostly gone and the day is growing dark, so I'm off to light some candles and eat some soup.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yummy Fall Food

Some friends of mine were kind enough to allow me to use their washer and dryer to do my laundry, so to repay them for their kindness I brought over some yummy Fall food while the laundry was going. Both recipes are super quick and easy and that's my kind of cooking! For dinner we had Taco Soup, a recipe that I've adapted from an old Kraft Foods magazine, and it's been a favorite for years. And for dessert I made another adaptation on an old favorite, Banana Bread (except my new version is named Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread!).
Since I put the Banana Bread in the oven first, I'll start with that recipe.
My sister Susie gave me this recipe a long time ago and it is yummyummyummalicious!

 But I have been trying to find ways to make old favorite recipes a little bit healthier so I made a few tweaks to her recipe. And then I fattened it up again with the chocolate chips! Ah well!
I substituted regular flour for whole wheat flour and applesauce for the oil. I used 3 full smashed, very ripe bananas, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, and then at the end added about 1/3 cup of chocolate chips. I don't like nuts in sweet foods so I left those out. But I followed all of the steps of the above recipe exactly and it came out very nicely!
This pic was taken before I decided to use the whole wheat flour and the bananas shown are not the actual bananas that were used as those were completely brown and unsightly!

All coming together!

Mmm, chocolate chips make everything better!

And then THIS happened, DOH! That fork jumped out of the bowl and FLEW to the ground! I definitely didn't drop it...

All ready to go!
I am not a very neat baker...

Let me pause this story to mention that most of the time, when I am baking/cooking, I like to have a little jazz on in the background. Somehow it makes me feel more productive in the kitchen, and I can also imagine that I speak fluent French and Italian. I don't know how jazz gives me those magical powers, but it DOES!
As I was putting the bread into the oven this song came on! Perfecto!
 After a quick tidy up of the counter, I assembled everything needed for the Taco Soup. I don't really have a printed recipe for this so here is the doubled recipe:
2 lbs. ground beef (i used lean beef)
1 can Mexicorn
2 small cans sliced black olives (i only ended up using one due can opener issues...)
2 cans diced tomatoes (i used organic)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can black beans
1 tsp minced garlic
one large handfull chopped cilantro
You can really adapt this however you like using whatever you enjoy or whatever you have on hand.
All you do is brown the meat, pour in the taco seasoning with a little water, add the garlic, and then dump all the cans in together. Stir and simmer!

I began to question my choice of a recipe that included so many canned items when I realized that I was in possession of the WORST CAN OPENER EVER! GRRR! I may as well have cut the cans open with a knife...Anyways...

Makes me hungry!

The soup tastes great by itself but these are the toppings I like to add to each individual bowl.

Right about that time, I had a little peek at the bread, it was almost ready!

There is nothing like the smell of a sweet baked bread in the Fall!

And just as everything was ready, this song came on and put the icing on the cake!

 It's always nice to share a meal with friends, and even better when you have leftovers! After several days in the fridge, the soup turns more into a chili as all the liquid gets absorbed into the ingredients and it makes a great base for a hearty salad. I warmed up a big scoop of the soup/chili and then added it to a big bowl of lettuce, threw a couple cherry tomatoes on top, drizzled a little bit of Light Ranch dressing and chowed down. It was sooo good!
From my kitchen to yours, Happy Fall!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hooray for Trader Joe's!

This past week I did a little grocery run to Trader Joe's. For about $30 I got several healthy microwave meals, a few various bags of frozen vegetables, some chicken burritos, a couple of $3 bottles of wine, and an extra dark chocolate bar, because I always need to have one of those on hand! The first meal I tried was a Vegetarian Pad Thai which I do not have a picture of because I inhaled it before I thought to capture it, but just trust me, it was delicious! Then last night when I got home from work I was really craving something healthy that I could throw together quickly and decided to give one of the bagged vegetable mixes a try. I also had some goat cheese medallions on hand that a friend had so thoughtfully given me (also from Trader Joe's) that I thought would be a nice little addition.
So here's how it came together:
First I defrosted some chicken breast tenderloins (this was the only part of the meal not from Trader Joe's, these were previously purchased at Publix) in the micro, then popped them in a skillet with some olive oil and a sprinkle of one of my favorite all purpose seasonings, Cavender's.
I cooked it covered with a little splash of water on medium heat for about 10 minutes on each side. Then took the lid off and let it get just a tad crispy for the last few minutes.
Meanwhile, I threw the frozen Fire Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Dressing into a glass bowl, covered and microwaved for  6 minutes.
Finally, I put it all on a plate and crumbled a little bit of goat cheese over the top of everything with a fork and poured myself a nice glass of Malbec.
The finished result was so delicious and I had the rest of it today for lunch!
So far, I'm loving everything I've tried from Trader Joe's! It's all quick and convenient but tastes like real food and not microwaved mush! So, hooray for Trader Joe's! I shall definitely be shopping there more often now!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Day Off Breakfast Food!

Today is a holiday and I love having a lazy morning on a holiday! Usually I stick to a pretty quick and easy breakfast, but when I have a day off with nowhere to go I indulge in this yummy breakfast that brings me back to my childhood! This isn't going to win any awards for being the healthiest breakfast, but it's not so bad and it does make me happy! You have to live a little sometimes! What's your favorite holiday morning breakfast?
  1. Make one packet of instant Butter Grits in a bowl in the microwave.
  2. Spray a small skillet with Olive Oil spray and heat.
  3. Crack one egg into skillet, turn heat to medium, add a splash of water to pan, and cover.
  4. Allow egg to cook according to how runny or firm you like your egg. (I like mine runny in the middle!)
  5. Meanwhile, add one Jimmy Dean fully cooked sausage link to the micro & cook for 30 seconds.
  6. Give Grits a good stir, add egg to the top, and then the sausage on the side.
  7. Devour with a second cup of coffee! (Optional) ;)


Monday, August 27, 2012

Easy Throw Together Dinner

Tonight I came home from work starving and dug through the kitchen cabinets looking for something quick and easy to make for dinner. I came up with this recipe and it turned out so well! It will definitely be a go-to recipe from now on, as I usually have most of the ingredients on hand at any given time. Hope you enjoy and let me know in the comments if you try the recipe out!
Pesto Chicken Orzo w/French Beans & Campari Tomatoes

Pesto Chicken Orzo w/French Beans & Campari Tomatoes
6 frozen chicken breast tenderloins
Cavender's Greek Seasoning (or sub your own favorite spices)
half of a 1 lb. box of Orzo
1 small pkg prepared reduced fat Pesto sauce (I used Buitoni)
1 small pkg French style green beans
1 tsp minced garlic
drizzle of olive oil
cracked pepper
parmesan cheese
campari tomatoes

Thaw chicken in micro for 3 min. Place on greased cookie sheet and sprinkle with Cavender's seasoning. Cook at 350 for 25 min.
Meanwhile, boil water and cook orzo for 11 min. Drizzle olive oil in a skillet with garlic and heat. Add green beans and a TBSP of water, cover and steam at medium heat for 3 min.
Drain orzo and add chicken to the pot, pour pesto sauce over top, and mix well. Allow to heat through.
Cut campari tomatoes into fourths on the plate. Add chicken orzo and green beans to plate and sprinkle all items with parmesan, salt, and cracked pepper. Enjoy!

Mojo was nearby to lick the plate!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Owl

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting for the first time, The Owl, an amazingly inventive dining experience (because the word restaurant just doesn't begin to describe it!).
If you're a foodie and in the mood to try something different with a twist, The Owl is for you! The staff was friendly and helpful while the food was an artfully displayed treat for the senses. My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed everything about our evening there and I can't wait to try it out again soon! I'll just be quiet now and let the pictures be the review!

My Sea Foam Margarita
Sea Foam Margarita Description
Our Menu
Menu Take II
Pulled Pork: peach, verjus, chili, cabbage slaw, toast
Pulled Pork Take II
Pea Soup: preserved lemon, popcorn, mint yogurt - chilled
Cheese: fresh ricotta, beans, basil, honey, crostini
Curry: pork, coconut vanilla foam, pineapple, basil gel
Belly: citrus glaze, green bean, black garlic, golden raisin
Door to the Ladies Room!
Inside the ladies b/r was the tiniest mirror with the caption above "Girl, you look GREAT!"
Panna Cotta


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