Tag Archives: pesto

To Shore or Not To Shore?

30 Aug

Today was a Summer Bank Holiday in the UK which apparently affected a huge portion of my work. It was completely slow today and I found myself with extra time to surf the web, read, talk walks, etc. This was nice but I can’t roll like this every day, I need some kind of work to keep me occupied.

I had leftover taco casserole from the other night. I added some extra cheese (since cheese makes everything better) and salsa to thin it up a bit. I am all for the spice but this had me fanning myself for a half hour afterwards. Not so much my mouth but just my body, I just wanted to cool down and be at a normal temperature again. I have one more left and froze another portion for a later date and am anxious to see how it froze. I love making batches of meals then having it a few times and freezing the rest. I don’t understand why more people don’t eat leftovers or take it for lunch, I think it’s usually better the second time around!

I was blissfully full but an ugh was about to hit. I had some dude from the past start IMing me at work. Really? We went our separate ways last year but he just started with my company last week and felt compelled to IM me. That’s a tad annoying. I mean, I understand why he would want to IM me but still, let it go. Plus, isn’t it a tad inappropriate and unprofessional to be doing that?

The lack of work today had me questioning things in life….what am I doing career wise? Am I going to stay in Charlotte? Why has this year gone by so quickly? Should I  start watching the Jersey Shore or not?

Unfortunately, I focused on the last question the most. I’ve never seen an episode however I know who all the key players are and know they like the GTL and like to get drunk. Besides that, I think they may work? I am just confused what they do all day and what the hype is. What also confuses me is how some of them make so much money when they seem like idiots who just get drunk and party? I will surely become an idiot if someone would pay me that much. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I can be very dramatic if the mood calls for it and if the money is talking. I love reality tv but think if I start watching, I will become hooked. I don’t want to be that girl who goes onto The Jersey Shore bulletin boards to read what the spoilers are and start following these people. Plus I have so many questions-Why is their hair so big? Why do they tan so much? Do they know the dangers of tanning?  Why are they all from places except Jersey? Why are they in Miami and what are they doing there? I never see them smile with their teeth, do they have any?  I am very intrigued but kind of believe The Jersey Shore is like Pringles-once you pop you can’t stop.

Perplexed by all things Jersey Shore, I made an Italian dish for dinner-Balsamic Chicken over pesto spaghetti with green onions and fresh tomatoes

Yay for the colors of Italy–represent!

Feeling uninspired from my strength training workouts lately, I did just a kettlebell and kettlebell only session

Kettlebell-20 lbs

Side Bends (20 reps, 2 sets)

Halos (13 reps, 3 sets)

Swings (13 reps, 3 sets)

Shrugs (13 reps, 2 sets)

Step Ups (25 reps, 3 sets)

Upright Deltoid Row (13 reps, 3 sets)

*Bentover Row  (13 reps, 3 sets)

Paired with a whole bunch of jumping jacks, planks and dancing in between sets, this workout kicked my butt. I was dripping by the end and felt like I was pushing myself more than my normal workouts when I incorporate a 10 and 15 lb dumbbell. I had an awesome calorie burn and my heart rate really got up there. It was interesting to see what a difference it brought from workout out along with my dumbbells and want to start incorporating kettlebell only workouts in my routine.

I refueled with a pomegranate smoothie with Chobani Pom Greek Yogurt, Pom Wonderful, Flax,Almond Milk and Vanilla Whey-delish

I am excited for tonight. I have absolutely no plans and the highlights will be washing my hair, doing the dishes and catching up on blogs. This past week was a bad one for me. I just felt off and not as happy as I usually am. I am going to blame it on coming back from Phoenix but I was really in a bum mood most of the week and just not feeling anything. I feel myself again and happy I am out of my funk!

Weekend Recap

9 Aug

 On Saturday, I was up and at em at 5A. WTF is that all about? Let’s just say I was not a happy camper about the situation but couldn’t go back to bed so I laced up my shoes and got to walking. Ok, well not quite…..it still a bit dark so I watched some infomercials then walking I went. It was so peaceful out and I only saw a couple other people out running and walking, I absolutely love desert early mornings.

Not bad for almost an hour of walking. I stopped at Starbucks on the way back and got a grande coffee and then made a breakfast smoothie with blueberries, half a packet of Spiru-Tein Banana Protein Powder, Almond Milk and Xanthan Gum

 As many of you know, I am not a nut butter fan at all. I will eat it every now and then (especially when covered in chocolate) and have read many rave reviews of Peanut Butter & Co. Bloom had it on special for $3 a jar this week and I bought a jar to see if I would like it.

Success! I haven’t had oats since it was cooler outside and decided to bring it back on Sunday morning. I sliced a banana then sprinkled the slices with cinnamon, laid rolled oats over that and then topped with a dollop of the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. Yummy. I think if I bought the White Chocolate Peanut Butter they had I would be done (thankfully they were sold out when I bought this jar)

 After seeing this recipe on Tamara’s site, I was in the mood to bake. I still have a supply of POM Wonderful on my hands and haven’t baked in a while so I bought the few ingredients I didn’t have on hand and got to baking! I don’t have a cake pan but have muffin pans on hand so I made cupcakes with this recipe and bought Fun-Fetti cake mix instead of vanilla cake mix.

I love playing with food dye

 These were great but I was expecting more pomegranate flavor so I would use more next time.

After seeing the cooking demonstration on pesto at Carrabba’s on Saturday, I decided to make my own.

 

Lincoln was even eating good. I had to either use or throw away the last turkey burger I gave the other night and knew he would appreciate it

I made home-made pizza with Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough topped with mushrooms, olives and fresh basil and scallions.

I met up with some girlfriends for lunch at Fox and Hound It was Sunday at noon and  hot outside. Why not have a drink? I tried the Fruit Loopy-Three Olives Grape and Cherry vodka, Triple Sec, hurricane and sour mix with a splash of Sprite.

OH

MY

GAWD

Can I just drink this forever? Ok, maybe not forever because I would go into sugar shock but I could seriously down this in a few sips since it was so good!

I kept flip-flopping between wings, a burger, sliders or a sandwich. I love bar food so much but everything else looked good. I finally had to just close the menu and decide on something because if I didn’t I would have never made a decision. I hate that. I wish more restaur ants would have Choose Two options because sometimes I want to try something new but then what if it disappoints?

Anywho, I got the Black Forest Sandwich—grilled turkey, applewood bacon, Monterrey jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and honey mustard on a Bavarian pretzel roll.

I stopped at Earth Fare after that to look around and ended up getting a Magenta Magic Smoothie

It was great but this alone reminded me that I can make my own smoothies at home and save $4 or $5 a pop. Damn you smoothie cravings!

I went to Ross and got some great deals—two dresses and a Nike Fit Dry shirt (for only $5—holla!!)

I went on a two-mile walk and then did some yoga poses when I got back home. I even ran a bit on my walk and it didn’t hurt too bad and my knee isn’t hurting any more from when I don’t run so I may start incorporate more running into my program again. Well, when it gets cooler at least, I am so not a hot weather runner.

I really had no clue what to make for dinner. I have lunch for the next couple of days courtesy of Carrabba’s but then I remember my beautiful white eggplant I bought the other day

Eggplant Parmesan it was!

I cut the eggplant and dipped in eggwash then in seasoned breadcrumbs and baked for 17 mins at 400 degrees. I flipped half way through and sprinkled with marinara sauce, mozzarella and gorgonzola cheese a few minutes before it was finished then placed on noodles. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out since I wasn’t frying it but it was delicious and the texture was similar to meat.

Oh, Lincoln got pretty! I almost forgot about his day of beauty.

Dirty Dog

Clean Dog

I am really confused where this weekend went. I feel like I just got off work on Friday and once again, back to the grind. This needs to change soon.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill

7 Aug

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I had the opportunity to attend the Carrabba’s Italian Grill Tastemaker Event on Saturday at the Carrabba’s in Huntersville, NC. As an Italian girl, I am very picky about Italian food. Rarely do I go out to eat Italian as I can make it at home and in my mind, get a better value. But that doesn’t apply to Carrabba’s. I tried Carrabba’s for the first time about five or six years ago and absolutely loved it. It was real Italian food and not the fake stuff like some other chain, Italian restaurants. Who knew an Italian chain restaurant could be so good and well, authentic?  Well as authentic as I can imagine as I haven’t been to Italy….yet but still, good Italian food.

I am the kind of person when I go to a restaurant, I will try something different each time until I find that one dish that makes me happy and warm on the inside. At Carrabba’s, that dish is the Chicken Bryan topped with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes with a basil lemon butter sauce (I am salivating just by typing it out the description)

 I never peruse the menu when I go there because I already know what I am going to get so when I arrived at the Tastemaker Event today, I was in for a world of schooling on the Carrabba’s way. We also got to bring a guest so I brought along one of my girl friends and we were ready for some Italian food!

 Marci, Proprietor

 

Mike, our host for the day with his wife Sarah-who also works for Carrabba’s. It was nice to hear that everyone who spoke today had been with the company for 10+ years. In my mind, they must be doing something right as a business for people to be there that long and be passionate about what they do.

The first thing he went over was their pesto sauce, which is surprisingly simple to make. Along with pine nuts, they use walnuts in their pesto sauce and use genevese basil as the base. Just watching him pour extra virgin olive oil for ten or eleven seconds proved to me that I have been making mind incorrectly all along. I haven’t been using that much extra virgin olive oil and always put the cheese in along with everything else while the cheese was the last thing he added. I also need a huge food processor like that, it is officially on my wish list!

The pesto was served with a Tomato Caprese Salad

Everything on the plate was completely fresh and the mozzarella had a mild yet rich taste. This salad didn’t need anything else to satisfy since it’s the perfect summer salad.  Did you know that mozzarella is made from milk of water buffalos?

The next dish we got to taste was the Linguine Pescatore with shrimp, sea scallops, mussels in a spicy marina.

This was excellent, the marinara had a bite to it and the seafood was fresh. I only ate half of it but boxed up the rest to take home with me 🙂

Next up was showing us how they made the Penne Franco -Penne with Mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and black olives, with ricotta salata

The key players

Thin strips of the ricotta salata to try. I am not a hufe fan of the ricotta mostly because of the texture but this was fantastic. It was salty and smooth and a complete 180 texture wise from the ricotta I’ve had in the past.

We had a choice of pastas to take home with us and I chose this one but here is a picture of the finished product

One last course to go after that and  that would be dessert. They made the Dessert Rosa-a simple dessert of butter cake, slices of strawberries and bananas, crushed pineapple, vanilla pudding topped with chocolate and Cool Whip served in a shot glass. These would be perfect for a summer get together!

The last thing we did was play with pizza dough. Mike asked if there were any volunteers to try it out so of course I volunteered along with one other.

Ok, so even though I worked at Papa John’s when I was in high school and my Italian background did not help one bit with this. I couldn’t the dough in a round shape at all and it was more oblong that anything. At least it didn’t look like a state or some other funky shape like in the past

I even got a $20 gift certificate for participating in the dough piece!

Our goodie bags to take home with us

I’ve never seen extra olive oil in a packet before, this made me smile!

Herbs and pine nuts

A huge bowl of olives. This right here is dangerous for me b/c I can’t keep olives at home without going through the entire jar. I am going to try to keep my paws away from these but will be seeing them in some meals in the near future!

Some things I learned about Carrabb’s today that made me love them even more:

*Carrabba’s along with Outback has been feeding troops in the Middle East for the past few years.

*They don’t advertise that they do this which is awesome since they aren’t doing it just for show, they are doing it for those who serve and protect our country

*Many of the dishes are those of Grandma Mandola and to this day, still true to the original recipe

*By watching them make their sauces and dishes, they use simple, fresh ingredients. When I go out to eat, I feel like I could never make that dish at home but that wasn’t the case today. I feel like I could make the stuff they make easily at home . Ok, it may not taste as good but it is possible and they don’t use ingredients or spices that I’ve never heard of.

*The first Carrabba’s was in Houston, TX. It’s nice to see a great, Italian restaurant from somewhere other than NY or NJ.

*The food is based on Sicilian recipes, which is probably why I enjoyed their food so much since my family hails from Sicily.

All in all, I had an excellent time at the Tastemaker Event. I loved learning about the Carrabba’s way and culture, their ingredients and processes and learning new fun facts.

Thanks Foodbuzz and Carrabba’s  for hosting this!!  The staff was more than knowledgeable and hospitable, welcomed us with open arms and was happy to answer questions. I truly enjoyed the experience and will be visiting Carrabba’s again for sure!

Two Dresses

20 May

What a day! I think I am on some kind of high from being off tomorrow so I have been running around non stop!

I mentioned last night how Lincoln was being a bad baby…barking his balls off (ironically he doesn’t have the boys anymore), not listening to me, etc. Well his behavior did a complete 180 and he was finally my sweet baby that I am used to.

I said I wasn’t going to have ice cream but I lied and cracked open a single portion of Skinny Cow Dulce De Leche-only 150 calories, we like that.

Holy crap-this was amazing. It was decadent with lots of caramel and perfect for my sweet tooth that always wants a lil something something. It’s Lincoln approved as well!

I went to bed at a decent hour and slept in until 630A so I could catch the late bus, which ended up working out because the bus I normally take never even showed up. Which the ride up was a crowded one since we had the amount of two busses of people in one. Side note, I really hate when people sit in the aisle seat so no one sits in the window and they can have the row to themselves. They are always the first ones I go to when I want to sit b/c I? Am obnoxious like that.

I had a Kashi Go Lean Crunch!, Strawberry and Yoplait Greek Yogurt Parfait for breakfast

The Yoplait Greek Yogurt is growing on me. I really like that it’s not too sweet nor sour and 12g of protein. My coffee buddy who I usually go to Starbucks with finally got back from his two wk trip in Hawaii and we have been meaning to catch up. We finally got to today and it was wonderful. He has a snarky sense of humor and has as much frustration with our work as I do. It was great to catch him up on all things—how I’m overloaded, Stinkalicious, Hawaii (which I asked him if he saw any Lost tours but had no clue) and such.

This morning was busy but nothing out of control. I got to take a 20 minute lunch break (woo hoo!) to stroll over to the library and get some cd’s and books for the wknd. I brought lunch—Farfalle Pesto Chicken Pasta with sautéed mushrooms, onions and zucchini.

I need to make more pesto-ASAP.

This afternoon was pretty much making sure everything was in order for tomorrow. Word got around at some banks that I will be out of the office for ONE day and everyone was freaking out. That made me feel good. I hate that I work my butt off and am efficient but the other people on my team don’t roll that way. What can I say, I’m competitive and want to be the best. I took a 20 minute break with one of my co-workers and we walked one mile, which was great to get out and get some fresh air.

 

I had no clue what to have for dinner so just threw some random stuff together. I broke into my Morningstar Grilllers Prime. I love Morningstar products but never tried this kind before so I was exciting!

I had half of a sweet potato and half pita with my Trader Joe’s Edamame Hummus that I love so.

Told you it was a random meal. I slathered some BBQ sauce on the patties and for the most part liked them. I liked the texture since it wasn’t rubber like and the taste was decent. I don’t know if I am crazy about it like their black bean patties but a good quick fix.

After that, I was on a mission…..and kinda wishing someone could cure my lonely condition. I am going to a wedding with a girlfriend of mine the first weekend of June (Hello Irish-Italian wedding with open bar!) and need a dress. I went to Ross which I love because it’s so cheap yet has in fashion stuff. I found not one but TWO dresses for the wedding.

The contenders

Dress One–I absolutely love the pink and black color combo

Dress Two-love purple because it is the color of royalty and just felt classy in this dress.

I couldn’t decide so I got both (two dresses for $34?? Yes please)

But now the important question: Dress One or Two??

Please let me know what you think, be honest (and keep in mind I didn’t have my gut sucking undies on 🙂 lol)

I stopped at the Dollar Tree afterwards to pick up some random stuff then off to the big event of the night-Harris Teeter. Right now, they have Double Coupons up to $1.98, which is a super happy time for me being the frugalista I am!

I got all of this:

*Mission Tortillas

*Real Simple Magazine

*Wholly Guacamole

*Two Cans of Mighty Dog food

*Beggin Strips

*Pedigree Good Bites

*Vanilla Frappaccino Four Pack

*Athenos Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

*Dove deodorant

*McCormick’s Cinnamon and Red Pepper Flakes

*Excedrin Migraine

*California Pizza Kitchen Personal Size Pizza

For $21!!!! I love my coupons so much 🙂

And Lincoln got a new baby to play with, he only has 38 babies so he needs some more. He was a bit excited!

The high is still going  and I’m just excited I don’t have to get up early. If I can sleep in until 730A I will be happy but we shall see. Happy almost Friday!