Friday Favorites #8: Week of May 30, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 8th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

It’s been several weeks since I’ve participated in Friday Favorites, and it’s good to be back.

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. Organic Black Bean Dip from Wegmans

My obsession with black beans continues. This black bean dip was an impulse buy on Monday — I saw a sign for it when I was passing through the aisle — but I don’t have any regrets about purchasing it!

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There’s a good mix of tomato and black bean flavors, and I do detect the lime. The consistency is alittle thicker than standard salsa. The best part: it’s only 10 calories per tablespoon — making 1/4 cup, the perfect amount to accompany 1 serving of tortilla chips, only 40 calories.

2. “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (Will Smith)

Nothing says summer like this song. I will always love it!

3. Post on Jesus from James J. Martin, SJ

I discovered Jesuit priest, author, and commentator James J. Martin several years ago when I started reading one of his books, My Life with the Saints. He’s exploded in recognition lately, which is likely related to his appearances on The Colbert Report as the “resident chaplain” and his cultural and religious commentary in major media outlets.

I follow Father Martin on Facebook and Twitter, and last Sunday he posted about how we can know what God is like through the words and deeds of Jesus:

Now it’s true that God is a mystery. Beyond us. Beyond our complete comprehension. St. Thomas Aquinas said that if you can define it, or you think you know it, it’s not God. Because God is always bigger and more beautiful than what we can imagine.

But, by the same token, Jesus tells us quite clearly if you want to know who God is or how God is just look at him. That’s often helpful for people are struggling with their relationship with God. Because often you’re not relating to God, but to a creation of your own. Often, for example, people who have had parents or teachers who were harsh and judgmental project those images onto God. And that becomes their God. And then they have a hard time relating to that. People often need to be invited to let go of those images of God for God’s God.

Jesus shows us quite clearly who God is and how God is. So what is God like? Just look at Jesus. Always merciful, always forgiving, always loving. Yes, Jesus says God will be judging us at the end of our lives, but that make[s] sense. A God who doesn’t judge is basically a God who doesn’t really care what we do. But much more than the judging God, Jesus shows us a loving and merciful and welcoming God in Jesus.

Jesus is always welcoming people. The movement for Jesus is always from the outside in; he’s always bringing people inside. Including. Welcoming.

And most of all what is God like? Love.

I love everything about this.

4. Magnum Mini Classic ice cream bars

I am so obsessed with these Magnum Mini Classic ice cream bars!

My small group leader gave one to me a few weeks ago for the first time, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The chocolate is rich, and you can even see the vanilla bean specks in the ice cream. They are divine and only 150 calories each!

5. #KimyeWedding

I have a confession to make: the Kardashians are my guilty pleasure. I like reality TV in general, but I’ve really tried to cut down on my consumption in the last year. I’ve succeeded, with one exception: the Kardashians. I’ve probably seen 90% of the episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and all of its spinoffs, like Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. This obsession really doesn’t make sense, because their lifestyle often contradicts my values, but I can’t help it . . .

. . . Which is why I spent way too much time last weekend searching for details about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding!

The couple finally released some official photos — posted by E!, on Kim’s Instagram account, and on Kanye’s Twitter — on Tuesday morning.

I’m completely in love with Kim’s dress. She looked flawless.

The above photo has become the most “liked” photo ever on Instagram.

Who knows how long the marriage will actually last — I really hope that it does, and they do seem genuinely happy — but the wedding sounded incredible, from all that I’ve read.  (It should, for the rumored $2.8 to $4 million that they spent on it.)

I’m looking forward to when Keeping Up with the Kardashians returns with new episodes on June 8th!

What are you loving this week?

Do you have a guilty TV pleasure?

WIAW #9

Hello friends, and welcome to another edition of What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW)!

Here is a look at what I ate today — Wednesday, May 28, 2014.

Breakfast: Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt with Peach and 1/3 cup maple and cinnamon granola

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No surprises here. (I raved about this combo at length on WIAW #1.)

Lunch: Beef loin roast with red wine sauce (about 5 ounces), baked salmon (about 4 ounces), 2 small slices of French bread with 1 butter ball, and steamed carrots

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Can you believe that this amazing meal was completely free?

I attended a lecture over lunch today with a friend from work at the same organization that I went to a few weeks ago, and the complementary catered meal was just as fantastic as last time. The presentation on the necessity of establishing the rule of law and ending violence against the poor in order to effectively combat poverty in developing countries was excellent, too.

Dinner: Chicken parmesan sandwich with a potato roll, 1 slice Sargento Ultra Thin Provolone, 2 homemade chicken tenders, and about 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce, accompanied by homemade shoestring fries with ketchup

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Over the lazy Memorial Day weekend, my hubby and I watched quite a bit of television. One of the shows we enjoy is Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network, and I think we watched two or three episodes during the weekend.

One episode that we watched on Saturday featured a woman who owns a Jamaican restaurant in Nashville, and on the show, she showcased her homemade fried chicken tenders. My hubby, who is brilliant at putting together awesome meals without using a recipe or measurements, jotted down the ingredients that the woman used and the general preparation process. We actually already had all of the ingredients in our freezer and pantry that she used, including boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, so I did not even need to go to the grocery store for us to make them for dinner on Sunday night.

I served as the official assistant in the cooking process, and of course my hubby improvised even further. No complaints here, though — the chicken tenders turned out incredibly! It’s been a long time since I’ve had chicken tenders that were that crispy and good, even from a restaurant. The only conceivable downside was that we made way too many. Enough tenders were left over for a complete second meal, even after we both had more than enough. (I’m still not sure how we got so many out of two chicken breasts!)

That’s where tonight’s dinner comes in! I mentioned to my hubby yesterday that I wanted to heat the leftover chicken tenders for dinner tonight, and when I got home from work today, he was already in the process of preparing chicken parmesan sandwiches with them. Even as leftovers and in sandwich form, these chicken tenders were fantastic. They even retained their crispness by reheating them in our mini counter-top convection oven.

My hubby paired the sandwiches with homemade shoestring fries that he cut by hand and cooked in our mini deep fryer. (Out of all of our wedding gifts, I think the mini deep fryer is the one thing that we use the most!)

I was seriously craving something sweet tonight, but I was able to successfully resist! I want to go back to eating fewer sweets, and I knew that abstaining was the right thing to do tonight, especially because I actually ate 2 to 3 times the amount of fries pictured on my plate above! (Note to self: serving fries table side is not a good idea.)

Can you believe that we still have more leftover chicken fingers? I think I’m going to be making another chicken parmesan sandwich for lunch sometime in the next few days!

***

It was definitely another good day of eats!

Thank you for hosting the WIAW link-up, Jenn!

***

Do you enjoy watching the Food Network? If so, what is your favorite show? We also really enjoy Chopped.

Do you have a deep fryer at home? Our mini version makes frying so easy . . . which is a problem.

WIAW #8

I’m sorry for the unexpected blogging hiatus, friends. Last week was kind of rough, so I decided to just take a little break from writing. But I am back and happy to be here!

And now it’s my favorite day of the blogging week — What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW)! Here is a look at what I ate today — Wednesday, May 21, 2014.

Breakfast: Thomas’ Bagel Thin sandwich with 1 egg seasoned with Goya Adobo, 1/2 medium avocado, and 1 slice Sargento Ultra Thin Sliced Cheddar, with 1 cup Tropicana Orange Juice

I had yogurt and granola on Monday and Tuesday morning, so I decided that it was time to break out my favorite breakfast sandwich today.

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My avocado was definitely on the verge — it was in the fridge for several days — but it worked. I definitely need to buy some fresh ones this weekend, though!

Lunch: Spaghetti Bolognese with Parmesan Cheese, 1 slice of ciabatta bread with unsalted butter, and a handful of gummy bears from Vapiano

I went out for lunch today with a co-worker (who happens to be a very good friend) to a fantastic lunch spot near my office — Vapiano. In addition to a variety of pasta dishes, Vapiano offers salads and (very delicious) pizza. I’m completely obsessed with spaghetti and meat sauce (also known as spaghetti bolognese), and my hubby just doesn’t care for it (eliminating it as a dinner option at home), so I order it almost every time I go.

At Vapiano, which originated in Germany (even though it specializes in Italian-style dishes), every meal is made to order in front of you. I love watching my chef make my lunch, because I can see exactly what goes into it. I can customize it while she is cooking, too. I requested onions and garlic in my tomato sauce today.

When you order a pasta dish, your chef starts the sauce while your pasta boils separately. (Even the pasta is made and dried in-house.)

Starting the meat sauce

Starting the meat sauce

Once the pasta is al dente, it is added to the pan with the sauce and thoroughly incorporated.

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Incorporating the spaghetti

The made-to-order meal is complete in about 8 minutes.

The final result is beautiful — and delicious!

My chef definitely came through when I said lots of cheese!

My chef definitely came through when I said lots of cheese!

Another thing I love — the basil garnish on my spaghetti came right off the basil plant shown in the photos above.

I gave one of the pieces of ciabatta bread to my friend, moderated my butter usage, and set aside the basil, but other than that, I cleaned the plate! I was really full when I was finished, but it was worth it. I satisfied my spaghetti craving (for now). I had to have some of the complementary gummy bears upon leaving, though.

Dinner: About 4 ounces of chicken breast with worcestershire sauce and Adobo, about 3/4 cup rice, 1/2 cup red beans, and 5 tostones

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I had two chicken breasts in the refrigerator that needed to be used, so my hubby us made some simple but delicious chicken in a skillet tonight using worcestershire sauce and Adobo for seasoning. He paired it with rice and beans at my request, along with tostones. It had been at least a week since we had any kind of Puerto Rican food, and it was great!

***

It was definitely another good day of eats! Nothing beats spaghetti!

Thank you for hosting the WIAW link-up, Jenn!

***

Have you been to Vapiano? They currently have U.S. locations in the D.C. area, Miami, Chicago, and New York City.

What is your favorite pasta dish? I could subsist on almost any type of pasta, but spaghetti and meat sauce takes the cake for me. Pasta with vodka sauce might be second, and then anything with alfredo (which is hard to make part of a healthy living plan).

Friday Favorites #7: Week of May 9, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 7th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. Grumpy Cat Notecards

One of my friends from work surprised me on Monday morning with this fantastic box of Grumpy Cat notecards. I can’t wait to use them!

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My co-workers know me and my love for Grumpy Cat so well! I work with some really great people.

2. My small group

I was extremely fortunate to find a small group through my church that has strengthened and enriched my faith immensely. I am so blessed by all of the young women in the group and especially by our leader, who serves as a mentor. It’s crazy to think that I didn’t know any of them before I joined the group last fall. On Monday night, we had what will likely be our last regular meeting for the summer, and it reminded me again how much I value our group and how much it has impacted me.

3. Lunch at Heritage India‘s buffet

There were a number of people out of the office this week working at a conference we hosted in Boston, so 6 of us that were left behind trekked to a fantastic Indian buffet for lunch on Wednesday. I seriously can’t get enough of Indian food!

4. Italian Meatball Sliders from Cooking Light

I was finally able to make this recipe from Cooking Light on Wednesday night, and it was worth the wait! These sliders turned out awesome and are a great way to satisfy a craving for Italian flavors. My hubby even gave them his seal of approval! Definitely a win for me.

5. “Birthday” by Katy Perry

I admit it: I love Katy Perry. And this song is just super fun.

What are you loving this week?

WIAW #7

Happy What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW), friends!

Here is a look at what I ate yesterday — Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

Breakfast: Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt with Peach and 1/3 cup maple and cinnamon granola

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A weekday breakfast staple! (I raved about this combo at length on WIAW #1.)

Lunch: Leftover Chicken Fajitas from Lauriol Plaza and 1/2 cup blueberries

Until about 5 years ago, I was convinced that I didn’t like Mexican food. Then along came Chipotle — we had it catered for work the first time I tried it — and my life was changed forever! Now I can’t get enough of Mexican food, especially fajitas! Lauriol Plaza, in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of D.C. — one of my absolute favorite Mexican restaurants and one of the best in the city — is within walking distance of my office, and I enjoyed Cinco de Mayo lunch there on Monday.

One of the greatest things about cutting my portions is having more restaurant leftovers! Before I started consciously watching my intake, I would often eat an entire restaurant meal in one sitting. But since I paid attention to my hunger signals and kept my portions in check on Monday, I was able to take some of the deliciousness back to the office for lunch yesterday!

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Although only one is pictured, I had two leftover fajitas with flour tortillas, about 2 ounces of chicken, about 1/3 cup of cheddar cheese, and a few fajita vegetables. On the side, I had about 1/2 cup each of refried black beans and Mexican rice. (I put some of the black beans in my fajitas, too.)

I think the chicken is one of the things that I like the best about Lauriol Plaza’s fajitas. Unlike when I make them at home, using marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts, Lauriol Plaza uses pieces of skin-on rotisseried whole chicken for their fajitas. You can definitely tell the difference! (My homemade fajitas are a close and inexpensive second, though.)

My other favorite thing at Lauriol Plaza is the refried black beans! I could eat bowls and bowls full of them. While I’ll usually eat any form of refried beans, refried black beans are definitely my favorite — but also much harder to come by for some reason.

To top off my leftover Mexican lunch, I had about 1/2 cup of blueberries:

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These were so much better than the ones I bought a few weeks ago!

Dinner: 1 pouch Campbell’s Spicy Chorizo and Pulled Chicken with Black Beans Go Soup and a Pepperidge Farm Artisan French Roll with 1 Tbsp. Land O Lakes Butter with Canola Oil

I wasn’t in the mood to cook a big meal last night (which has been happening more than it should lately), so my hubby and I each selected our own easy-to-prepare items from the fridge or pantry. He heated up some leftover Chinese food that he had ordered on Monday night when I was out of the house, and I decided to heat some soup and a dinner roll.

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I’m a huge fan of both of these items, and you can typically find them in our house at any given time.

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This soup also feeds my black bean addiction!

On a side note, I read in a Forbes article a few years ago that Campbell’s started making these soups in a pouch in order to appeal to my demographic. (It seems that their efforts are working, because I am consistently buying them…) Apparently millennials don’t think that canned soup is cool.

I also need to give a shout-out to this butter:

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I’m a butter addict, and I’m not sure what exactly it is about this particular kind, but it is fantastic. I’ve actually started measuring out my butter before I eat a dinner roll at home in order to make sure that I’m not using too much. That is how much I love it.

Dessert: Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg

I was definitely craving sweets after dinner — especially cookies and milk — but I knew that I didn’t actually need that much. I settled on one of these 90 calorie mini peanut butter eggs from my Easter basket instead.

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It fed the need without the guilt!

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It was definitely another good day of eats!

Thank you for hosting the WIAW link-up, Jenn!

***

Do you prefer flour tortillas or corn tortillas? Flour tortillas all the way for me! I know that corn tortillas are supposed to be the healthier choice, but I just can’t do them (unless they are in chip form).

Have you tried any of the Campbell’s Go Soups? So far I’ve only eaten the chicken and chorizo variety, but I have a Thai curry one in the pantry to try, too.

Friday Favorites #6: Week of May 2, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 6th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

Housewife Glamour

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. My city girls umbrella

It rained like crazy for the better part of the week here in D.C., to the point of setting records. This fun umbrella by Nicole Miller, which I’ve had for 8 or 9 years now, made these dreary days a little bit better.

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2. Seth Godin’s Blog

Seth Godin is a marketing guru, and I’m a huge fan of his blog posts, which I receive daily via e-mail. This post from Wednesday has been making me think since I read it:

“I didn’t have time”

This actually means, “it wasn’t important enough.” It wasn’t a high priority, fun, distracting, profitable or urgent enough to make it to the top of the list.

Every few days, Twitter and Facebook soak up a billion hours of ‘spare’ time. Where did that time come from? What did we do before social media was here? Weren’t we busy five years ago?

Running out of time is mostly a euphemism, and the smart analyst realizes that it’s a message about something else. Time is finite, but, unlike money, time is also replenished every second.

The people you’re trying to reach are always recalibrating which meetings they go to, which shows they watch, which books they don’t read. The solution has nothing to do with giving people more time (you can’t) and everything to do with creating more urgency, more of an itch, more desire.

If you work in marketing, fundraising (like me), or sales — or if you just want some good insight from Seth every day — I recommend signing up for his blog!

3. Fantastic free lunch for attending a lecture

I will occasionally attend lectures over my lunch break — one of the perks of working in a city filled with so many interesting organizations. The organization where I go most often always assembles thought-provoking panelists speaking on great topics — I even heard Bill Gates speak a few weeks ago — but one huge incentive is the incredible free lunch!

Complementary lunch is often provided at these events across the city, but usually that means sandwiches and chips — which are good, don’t get me wrong. However, this particular organization that I went to on Tuesday has an in-house caterer and provides a full spread, free of charge! On Tuesday, I had top round roast, baked chicken, steamed asparagus, and slices of French baguette. On top of all of that, the discussion on Biblical solutions to poverty was excellent and challenging. Definitely a great way to spend my lunchtime!

4. Cajun cheese and sea salt crackers

As we were exploring the town during our day trip to Culpepper a few weeks ago, we came across the Culpepper Cheese Company and decided to look around. A woman near the front of the store was offering free samples of several cheeses, and of course I had to have a taste. One of the samples was of this incredible Big John’s Cajun Cheddar from the Beehive Cheese Co. in Utah. My hubby tried it, too, and there was no way we were leaving the store without it! We also bought some sea salt flatbread crackers to go with it.

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Yummy cheddar inside, delicious cajun spices outside!

The piece was pretty big, and we’ve been snacking on it since we got it. (We even served it as an appetizer to our feast on Easter Sunday.) I’m definitely going to buy it again! I know of several artisan cheese shops closer to the city, but if all else fails, I discovered that I can order it on the Beehive Cheese website — hooray!

5. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

After one of my best friends told me last week how much she loved the movie Heaven is for Real, which is an adaptation of a bestselling book by the same name, I had to see for myself what it was all about. I decided to read the book before seeing the movie, and I couldn’t put it down! I’ve been having trouble focusing on reading lately, but I read this in 3 days!

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I love the instant gratification of my Kindle, but it can be dangerous…

The story about a 4-year-old boy and his near-death/out-of-body experience during surgery is beautiful but also thought-provoking. I plan on posting more about it and my thoughts next week.

What are you loving this week?

Weigh-In Wednesday and Weekly Goals: April 30, 2014

Hi friends! I’m a bit off of my normal posting schedule this week, and I unfortunately ran out of time to write my weekly “Weigh-In Wednesday” update last night. So, here it is one day late. Better late than never, right?

I was shocked and thrilled when I stepped on the scale yesterday morning! I’m down another 2.2 pounds, for a total loss of 14.8 pounds since I started in February!

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Even if I don’t always make the best food choices, I think my body is happy with the portion sizes that I’m eating. (I’m still totally hooked on tracking everything in MyFitnessPal!) I think that building some muscle has something to do with these successes, too, since muscle burns more calories than fat when at rest!

***

Progress toward last week’s goals:

  • Goal: Lose 1 pound. Status: Totally achieved!  Hooray!
  • Goal: Try 1 new recipe. Status: Unfortunately, I did not achieve this goal this week. I really wanted to make these Italian Meatball Sliders from Cooking Light — I put them on my weekly “menu” and bought all of the ingredients on Saturday — but we went to a family party on Sunday and — you guessed it — had meatball sandwiches. (They totally hit the spot, though!) For that reason, I decided to hold off on these until late next week. I’m happy that I already have everything I need to make them!
  • Goal: Work out 4 times and continue with the C25k plan. Status: Sadly, I only worked out once last week. I’m still stuck in a rut. I’m think that what I did for my goal below will help…
  • Goal: Finalize a weekly exercise schedule and stick to it. Status: I finally sat down to finalize a revised version of the weekly schedule that I made in the fall. (I apologize for not posting about it this past weekend like I promised.) I feel like this weekly schedule incorporates our existing routines more realistically than the one that I made before.

MASTER 24 Hour Schedule

I’m so schedule-oriented most of the time that I’m really hoping this will motivate me to stick to a routine. (I have heard that a routine is what is going to keep you going when motivation inevitably fades, as it seems to be happening with working out for me.) I think it will be best for me if I update this on Sunday nights and tailor it for each coming week — which I will do for the first time this weekend.

Probably the day that I am most apprehensive about is Thursday… I really want to get in two BodyPump classes per week, but going on Wednesday night is just not feasible with our existing dinner routine. The next best solution is going to Sport&Health for the 5 a.m. class on Thursday morning, in addition to Saturday at 9:30 a.m. I may find that I actually like going to classes that early… I guess I won’t know until I try! There is something about the thought of getting up at 4:45 that makes me want to cry, though.

***

Goals for the next week:

  • Goal: Lose 1 pound.
  • Goal: Stick with my new daily routine, including exercise! I need to get back to training for the Fit Foodie 5k in June!

I’m not going to make a recipe goal for this week because most of our dinners until next weigh-in are already accounted for.

***

Overall, I’m thrilled with my progress and the lasting changes that I have made in regard to my eating habits. Now I just have to get back on the exercise wagon!

Do you find that you are schedule-oriented? My family all makes fun of me, because I’m the keeper of the calendar. I’m basically the master scheduler for my husband and me.