Monday, February 24, 2014

Taco Tuesday 101

I love a good taco.... I lived in San Antonio for 2 years, it is basically in my blood! I make tacos with anything, and love to include them in my meal plan.

I use the term "taco" very openly. I use all sorts of fillings and serve it on lettuce, rice, tortillas - anything. Here are some ideas for planning your own Taco Night:

1. Start with the base:
- Go traditional and serve it in a tortilla.
I recommend looking for whole wheat tortillas with only a few ingredients. If you live in TX, go to HEB. Their tortillas are amazing and so fresh. You can even make your own using this recipe. I have tried it a few times with great success, though rolling them thin enough is a major pain.

- Brown rice is an excellent base, making a taco bowl. I cook my rice on Sunday to have it ready for the week.

- Go light with shredded lettuce or serve your taco on whole leaves like a lettuce wrap.

2. Make a filling: 
- Chicken is my favorite filling.
I use boneless skinless chicken breasts and a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. I place these in the crock pot with a little broth and some chili powder on low. When I come home, I remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the tomatoes.

- Black or pinto beans.
You can cook these from dry or used can. I like to cook mine with green chilies, chili powder, sliced bell peppers, and even salsa. This makes a great meatless option which is great for the wallet and waistline.

- Ground turkey or beef.
I brown my ground turkey, add diced tomatoes, chili powder, garlic, onion, and raw kale or spinach for a really flavorful filling. This recipe has a black bean, turkey, and kale filling that is yummy.
Kale, Turkey and Black Bean Taco Filling -Plus 5 Ways to Use It!

3. Add Veggies:
- Saute onion and bell peppers.
- Roast mushrooms with garlic.
- Cook spinach, kale, or other leafy greens.
- Shredded lettuce 
- Cooked corn 
- Chopped tomatoes 

This one had shredded chicken, black beans, brown rice, salsa, bell peppers,
shredded cheese, tomatoes, and avocado.
4. Add some flavorful toppings!
- Diced avocado
- Black olives
- Salsa
- Shredded cheese
- low-fat sour cream

Do you make some form of a taco during the week? What is your favorite filling?


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Meals and Fitness for the week 2/23

Hello lovelies!

This week is a little rough - I am trying to finish assignments before heading to Mardi Gras and I have a final paper due right when I come back. Here are my meals and fitness plans for the week:

Weekly Workouts
M - Rest 
T - 3 miles, easy pace, and abs. 
W - 5 miles, 3 miles at pace
Th - 4 miles, abs, and legs 
F - Rest
S - 8 miles
S - Walking through parades in NOLA :)

Weekly Meals
Roasted Garlic Mushrooms with Parmesan Polenta
T - Slow cooked black eyed peas with turkey bacon, brown rice, and salad. 
Slow Cooked Black Eyed Peas
W - Baked potatoes with broccoli and grilled chicken. 
Th - Leftovers
F - In LA at AR's mom's house
S & S - NOLA

Notice 2 new recipes on my list? I am so excited to try the roasted mushrooms for meatless Monday and I always LOVE black eyed peas, but have never made them in my crock pot. I will let you know how they taste!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Five on Friday: Prepping for the Weekend & Confessions

Helloooooo Friday! I love a weekend and I love 5 on Friday, so we are in a good place. Thanks to Natasha and the other lovely ladies for hosting. 

I am also linking up with Blonde Ambition for a few confessions. I love this blog and am excited to be joining the link up this week :) 

1. As you read this... I am in an interview.
And I confess that I am so nervous! I have 3 interviews today for summer internships. Wish me LUCK!! I am hoping to have my internship settled by the end of the month and really excited about some of the people I am seeing today.

2. I confess... That I am as pale as they come. Like the color of printer paper.
I am heading to NOLA for mardi gras next week and I am so excited. I've never been to mardi gras, but I love New Orleans, so this is going to be so much fun.
I'm trying to decide between getting a spray tan or working the Jergens. Thoughts?

I need a little color before I go, and heaven knows I don't get near a real one. Besides, I usually have sad running tan lines (shorts and a sports bra, anyone?), so a fake tan helps even it out a bit. I just don't want it to go badly.

3. I confess that I have a nail polish addiction.
I love Essie polishes and colors, but I don't find that they last the best. I was picking a new light pink/neutral at Target the other day and got a L'Oreal polish. These seem to last the longest for me. Have you tried them? I have several and they haven't let me down yet. And it is $4.99 a bottle.
I do top my color with the Sally Hanson Diamond Flash top coat. It dries in like 2 seconds and it so shiny. It is a must!

4. I confess... that I have some strict standards for professional dress.
We have had several formal events at the law school this week, and I have some friendly advice to pass along.

You can be beautiful, your dress can be beautiful, but if it doesn't fit, it is not beautiful. I've seem way too much these last few days.

5. I confess... that my weekend is empty!
After a day of interviews, I am meeting a friend for drinks (it is me: this should be 1/2 a drink). AR and I have NO plans for the weekend, which I love. Do you get excited over that? I do. I've already come up with a top of things to do: new bread recipe, new coffee shop to visit, curtains to hang,... looks like we have something to do ;)

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's Day Weekend Cooking Class

Valentine's Day weekend has passed... *tear*. I have no more excuse to wear red and pink together and draw hearts on the calendar.

On Friday night, AR worked and I studies until around 7pm, then we headed to Whole Foods to pick out things to cook dinner with. I know, we are so romantic ;) But after the whole snow storm and AR being stranded in DC, a night in was perfect for us.

The menu: Sriracha glazed salmon, Roasted asparagus with lemon, and Baked potatoes. Served with a wonderful white wine, paired by the helpful staff at Whole Foods.

On Saturday morning, our actual celebration started. We went to a brunch making class, taught by Cynthia Graubart, author of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking. The class was taught at The Cook's Warehouse in midtown.

We learned to make Shrimp & Grits Custards with Green Sauce, Bacon & Onion Pie (mine was without the bacon), Sausage & Apple Casserole, Sweet Potato Ginger Tea Loaf, Cream Biscuits, and a Champagne Cocktail.

AR got his inner chef on to decorate the plates for us.

The class was 3 hours long and so much fun! They served coffee and appetizers at the beginning, then we all sipped cocktails and enjoyed tastes of the foods. The instructor was so good about explaining things and taking through why things may not have turned out correctly.

My grits. After the photo, I pulled all the shrimp off and gave then to AR. lol.

My favorite dish was the grits custards with green sauce. We eat a lot of grits, and i love the idea of doing something a little different with them. The green sauce also brightened up the flavor of the dish, which was filled with goat cheese and fresh herbs.

AR loved the bacon and onion pie. We tried two varieties and liked the kind with a milder onion over the one with a red onion. I am just not much for a strong onion flavor. I plan to remake this at home with a vidalia onion and turkey bacon.

This was such a fun way for us to celebrate and learn something new. Thanks to my older brother, who discovered this place all the way in London and sent me a giftcard for my birthday. We are already picking another class to take.

Sunday afternoon was full of studying, HGTV (Yay for House Hunters!), and a 7 mile run. I had to burn off some of those cocktails ;)


Friday, February 14, 2014

5 on Friday {LOVE}

I'm late. My coffee was just too good this morning and i lingered. I'm not apologizing for it ;)

Thanks to the lovely ladies for hosting 5 of Friday. As always, love them and YOU, so please comment so I can read your blog!

1. Team Teddy
So happy to raise awareness for this sweet family. Read more about Teddy here. Wishing this family the best Valentin'es Day and sending lots of love.

2. My Valentine.
AR made it home last night. One the ONLY flight from DC to ATL. Praise the lord.

He has been working in DC and his flight kept getting canceled. I thought he was never going to get back after this snow storm, but he made it and knocked on my door at 8pm last night. I was so excited.

3. These cookies are amazing and oh-so-perfect for today!
Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies by Easy, no-fuss and quick!
I made these yesterday with dark chocolate valentine's day colored M&Ms and they are adorable. I even brought some to friends at school today (don't you wish we were friends?)

If you are looking for something a little healthier, try my 3 ingredient PB cookies. AR said they were the best he has ever tasted. Yumm!

4. LOVE This lip product.

Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain in Lovesick 020
Yesterday I finally ventured out of my apartment and into the real world. Where did I go? Target, obviously.

I bought this lip stain and am IN LOVE. It doesn't feel dry, like most stains, and really seems to last. I also love the bright color. I'm probably going to buy 5 more in the next few weeks.

5. Valentine's Day Date
Tonight it is just dinner at home. Tomorrow we are taking a cooking class and I cannot wait. I even have a new apron for it. hashtag cooking obsessed.

NOLA Last year :)


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies.
All the peanut butter goodness I love. And only a half of a cup of sugar.

Fresh from the oven, these are a crisp on the outside, and creamy on the inside. They are incredibly rich, so I am satisfied with just one. With only a few simple ingredients, they are a perfect kitchen staple!

Gluten-free Peanut-Butter Cookies
Makes 2 dozen 

1 c. peanut butter (I don't recommend natural/homemade. Use something like Jiff)
1/2 c. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350*. Mix peanut butter and sugar until well blended. Add egg, baking soda, and vanilla, beating until well blended. The dough will be thick and slightly oily.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on greased baking sheet (or use non-stick). Cookies will spread slightly, so place 2 inches apart. Using a fork, make a marks across the top. Bake for 8 minutes, remove from over and let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet. Then transfer to a wire rack.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Weekend Recap: Studies, Shopping, and a Run

Monday has returned, but thanks to canceled classes on Friday, I don't feel as bad about it. 

I worked on an appellate brief assignment at school all day on Friday after waking up early to clean my apartment. Yes, I said I woke up early for that. After getting leaving the law library around 7, AR and I made pizza and stayed in. We both needed a lazy night. 
(Homemade pizza: TJ wheat pizza dough, homemade tomato sauce, ground turkey, bell pepper, mushrooms, olives, and spinach) 

Saturday morning was busy: errands, gym, and working on my brief, 20 pages of which were due at 6pm. 
First pink cup!!
AR went and got me coffee and made omelets while I worked. He is such a keeper

Saturday night, we took the train to the mall to avoid any traffic/parking issues and shopped for a couple hours. Afterwards, we grabbed dinner at a nearby Indian place that we love! I will share my shopping finds later this week ;)  

Sunday started with brunch at General Muir: I had grits with Gruyere, topped with roasted mushrooms and scrambled eggs. Served with rye toast sticks. And a cafe au lait. Y-um! The weather was so awesome, we even sat outside (under heat lamps, mind you). 

After out regular Whole Foods trip, we came home and put on our workout clothes. The weather in ATL was amazing and we couldn't wait for a warm run outside. 6 miles later, plus a few miles of walking through the park, we were grinning from ear to ear. Warm outdoor runs, I have missed you!

Dinner on Sunday was a new recipe that I will share tomorrow: Chicken lettuce wraps! And of course, we caught up on Nashville. 

Here's to an awesome week!


Friday, February 7, 2014

5 on Friday: Valentine's Day Activities

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and I've got ideas on how to celebrate! Whether you are in a new relationship, single, hanging with ladies for the night, or married with children, Valentine's Day can be fun

Now, before you tell me "Valentine's day is a Hallmark created holiday..." blah blah blah. Who cares? I, for one, don't need a reason to celebrate. I love a reason to plan an activity, make a special day/evening, and wear pink and red together. Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity. 

I'm linking up with the ladies of 5 on Friday to share some ideas. Read all of my suggestions and guess below which one I am doing!

1. Plan a brunch
For your honey, make it romantic, serve it in bed, and find a cute pair of holiday pj's. 
For your girlfriends, make it an event! Everyone can bring something, or you can cook together. I've shared some menu items to get you thinking.
Valentine's Day brunch

Easy menu items: 
- Heart shaped cinnamon rolls: Buy canned and shape into hearts before baking. Add food coloring to the frosting. 
- Strawberry yogurt, granola, and berry parfait: Buy all the ingredients, just assemble.  
Breakfast in bed...

Labor-intensive menu items
- Heart shaped biscuits served with raspberry or strawberry jam.
- Heart shaped french toast, topped with a pink powder-sugar glaze, cherry pie filling, or strawberries. 

2. Take a cooking class. 
You can find ones geared towards individuals, couples, or a group of ladies. I know in Houston and Atlanta there are several places that offer classes on evenings and weekends. Check cooking supplies stores and specialty grocery stores for some options. 
This is a great way to have dinner and an evening activity. Rekindle the romance a few weeks later by recreating the menu at home. 
a man cooking = hot. Cary Grant cooking = even hotter.

3. Try a new workout together. 
Pilates, kick boxing, body pump. Yoga class can be the sexiest thing ever. Try a new workout class with your man or friend(s). Get the blood flowing, learn a new activity, and feel energized. If you do this on Saturday morning, follow it with brunch. 

My friend Caroline is taking her man to Pure Barre, where her studio is having a date night special. Cannot wait to hear how that goes ;) 

4. Have a chick-flick/marathon. You know who this is geared towards, ladies
I recommend a Bachelor marathon (not this season. I'm not feeling the whole Juan Pablo season...), Dirty Dancing, You've Got Mail, Drop Dead Gorgeous, or Wicker Park

5. Take a day trip. 
It doesn't have to be expensive or amazingly well planning. Drive somewhere within an hour or two, grab lunch, window shop, tour some historic places. This is always a favorite of mine. Sometimes switching things up for the day can be as exciting and rejuvenating as a vacation. 
If you are stumped on a place to go, check out your library. I own several travel books and each has a chapter on good day trips. If you live in a big city, exploring a new neighborhood is also a fun option. 
oh my yes, so true.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? Who are you celebrating with? 
Can you guess what AR & I are doing?


Thursday, February 6, 2014

NY Resolutions: January Check-In

It is February. And technically still the first week of February, so I am checking in on my new year's resolutions 

If you read this post, you know I think life changes can happen at any time, but the new year is an opportunity to reflect, move forward, and set new goals. This year, I plan to:

Here is how I did in January

1. Call 2 friends a month: Done! I called my friends Jacki and Kathryn several times to chat about life. I felt like a better friend and it was awesome to see how much we chatted. Kathryn and I have been better about texting and keeping in touch, which I want to keep up. 

2. Try something distinct to Atlanta: AR and I almost didn't make it on this one, but on the last day of the month, we did it! We went to the SkyView in downtown Atlanta. This is a huge ferris wheel that gives a view of the whole city. It was fun to see the city lit up at night and we enjoyed finding landmarks that we recognize. 

3. New recipes. Yes! Here are some of the recipes I tried
Photo and recipe from SkinnyTaste
photo and recipe from SkinnyTaste

How are your goals coming? Making any changes?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ATL EATS: West Egg

Google Images

It is no secret that I love brunch.

I live for breakfast foods. Omelets, biscuits, scrambles, quiches, oatmeal, pancakes... I could go on and on.

Obviously, this means I learn the brunch places before I learn the dinner places of a city. My ATL brunch list is long, and I am slowly reviewing them all.

This weekend, I visited West Egg for about the 5th time. I tried much of their menu and it has earned top spots on the brunch list.

Quick & Easy: It is trendy, urban and vegetarian-friendly. There is always a long line, but they let you order coffee while you wait. The music is a little load and the vibe is more upbeat than your average laid-back breakfast spot.

Let's all drink more coffee from real cups... yes?

Coffee: Yum. Amazing. They brew XXX coffee, which is sold at the Peachtree Street Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. My drink of choice is a soy cafe au lait, but their lattes and chais are yummy. I keep meaning to try the honey vanilla latte on their menu!

Food: Breakfast has a wide variety of options and is served all day. Brunch is full of options as well. The Georgia Benedict is a favorite, with turkey sausage and gravy over fluffy biscuits with eggs. The garlic grits are a little strong for me, but AR loves them.

I tend to go for the build-your-own omelet and fill mine with veggies and get veggie sausage on the side. I always add a biscuit though!

I've also tried the black bean cakes and the roasted potatoes. The black bean cakes packed more flavor than I expected, which was more than I wanted at brunch. I might order this for a lunch instead. The potatoes are amazing and decadent, served with sauteed onions, but too heavy for my normal breakfast.

Atmosphere: Filled with a more trendy crowd, the music is usually Michael Jackson and the clientele diverse. While the line is sometimes around 45 minutes, I don't mind waiting in the chairs and drinking the yummy coffee. With lots of sunlight coming in all the windows, West Egg is a wonderful way to start the weekend :)

What do you love to order at brunch??

Monday, February 3, 2014

Weekend Recap & Alma Cocina!

Monday is baccckkk! Another week and this one doesn't look like it will include snow days. sad. 

This weekend was just what I needed. On Friday afternoon, I worked on school stuff until AR got home, and then we went to dinner at Alma Cocina downtown. 

AR and I kept saying that we never go out downtown. We always go to Midtown, Buckhead, of the Highlands area, so Friday we made reservation at this Latin food spot. We were absolutely NOT dissapointed, the food was amazing. 

Our server, Ryan, took the time to explain the menu options and the whole, organic ingrediants used in each dish. I love feeling like the server knows the menu and loves the food. 

We started with Sangria for me and a margarita for AR. We also split the queso fundido with grilled veggies. The homemade chips were amazing. 

We then shared the grilled chicken cazuela, which was a hot pot of grilled chicken, roasted veggies, and a spicy sauce. We enjoyed this with corn tortillas. On the side, I had the braised greens and white beans. 

Both dishes were excellent and full of flavor. I also appreciated that they didn't taste heavy or greasy. The veggies were cooked perfectly and the chicen was full of flavor, but the corn tortillas were the star of the show. There is something about perfect tortillas that makes my heart happy :)

Afterwards, we headed to to the Atlanta Skyview, which is a huge ferris wheel downtown. We walked there from the restaurant and there was no line. We received the tickets from AR's work in December, so it was a fun free date night event!

The little pods were heated and contained only us. Because the lines were short, they let us go around 8 times. We loved seeing the city from up high and taking in the sights. I absolutely recommend this as an awesome way to see ATL. 

On Saturday I attended an amazing conference where I got to meet Lilly Ledbetter. What an HONOR!! She was incredible and I enjoyed hearing her story in person. In between sessions I studied (i know, I am boring), and worked at school for a while in the afternoon. 

AR and I spent Saturday night at Target and West Elm looking at furniture. We are so exciting. We followed up the shopping with take-out greek food and catching up on Nashville. Love him for watching this with me. 

Sunday we bought a COUCH! I am so excited to have our new leather sofa from West Elm delivered in a few weeks. I cannot wait.  We also got new curtains and had brunch at West Egg, followed by a good workout and the Superbowl. 

Some weekends are just what you need!