Thursday, May 30, 2013

Embrace the Chaos

I haven't been posting as much as I did in the beginning of the Healthy Home Revolution.  The revolution is still in full force, especially with summer here and trips to the beach in the near future.  I'm still exercising everyday, (or most days), and cooking healthy meals for my family.  But the chaos has been at a record level here for quite sometime now...

As my baby girl gets bigger (now 15 months), she is sleeping less during the day, (and sometimes less at night with new tooth popping through), learning many new things, and requiring more of my attention.   Some of these new things are not things you want her to learn, such as climbing up on the kitchen table.  Some of these things are dangerous and require constant monitoring.   As I direct more attention her way, I am unable to give as much attention to my boy (now 3 1/2).  I see him act out a little more and ask more of me at nap time than before.  Although we have tried transitioning him away from a nap, he isn't quite ready for it and frankly, neither am I!  And now, he is trying all sorts of tricks to get out of nap even if that means waking his sister up.  UGH!

Today he was great (great being a relative term, meaning he wasn't running around or yelling while I was trying to put the baby down) - he quietly read a book in bed waiting for me to finish nursing the baby to sleep.  Then he whispered, "Mommy, will you lay down with me?".  How can I say "No" to that????  As much as I need some down time to do household chores, take a shower, finish a workout, post on this blog, or just pee alone, HE NEEDS ME MORE.  My children are only small for so long.

A friend recently told me that the days are long but the years are short.  That has become my new mantra.  There are days that he goes to sleep on his own just fine and there are days like today.  There are sleepless nights with a teething baby, much like last night, when I wake up feeling as if I didn't get a moments rest.  And there are mornings you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world.  I'm doing the best I can, as WE ALL ARE.  And I choose to be present in the moment for my kids and to make those memories that will be with us forever.

He fell asleep today in less than 2 minutes, after I was able to lay next to him and rub his back as he requested.  He's snoring now and in dreamland.  I'm thankful for these past 15 minutes to myself to type out what I'm thinking and be grateful for my beautiful family - chaos and all.

So I'm done blabbing now -  I'm sure you didn't need all those details.  But I wanted my readers to know that I have lots of yummy recipes and pictures of food to share.  And when life allows me to share them with you, I most certainly will.  Until then, I will embrace the chaos and live in the moment.

Happy Cooking,
My sweet boy

Monday, May 27, 2013

Week 21 - Summer is Coming

Happy Memorial Day!  I hope that you all filled your weekend with fun, family, friends, and good food.  I apologize for such a late post, but my family was in town for the weekend so my priorities were with them. 

Now that the long weekend is coming to a close, I am forced to plan for this coming week.  In Boston, our weather forcast for this week looks beautiful!  But there appears to be a heat wave of close to 90 coming in toward the end of the week.  I hate cooking inside on hot weather days, so I'm trying to plan a menu around grilling out on those warmer days.

Below you will find my meal plan for this week along with any corresponding links to the recipes that inspired my menu.   Again, please forgive me for any last minute changes due to the needs of my family, but they always come first! 

Happy Cooking!

Week 21 - May 27, 2013

Sunday - memorial day cookout: nitrate free brats, chorizo, and hot dogs with a fresh spinach & tomato pasta salad, and vegetables & dip

Monday - leftovers

Tuesday- hard shell turkey tacos (hubby worked late last week, so I froze the turkey for this week instead) with mexican chopped salad and roasted broccoli (salad recipe from Food Network magazine, but I can't seem to find a link online)

Wednesday - crockpot ribs (finished on grill), coleslaw with a cumin-lime vinaigrette, sauteed greens, baked sweet potatoes

Thursday - grilled greek yogurt marinated chicken breasts with a watermelon, arugula, and feta salad

Friday - pizza night

Saturday - balsamic marinated skirt steak with bistro salad

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Change Up Your Fitness Routine Today

I've discussed the importance of varying your fitness routines in past posts.  Your muscles need to be challenged and cross training (or doing different routines on different days) is exactly what the fitness gurus order! 

Today I'm going to offer you three NEW 10-15 minute workouts that you can do alone or combine to create a longer routine.  I did all 3 today (in the order I placed them below) for a total of about 40 minutes.  They are a great combination of strength and cardio.  Again, I do not recommend doing the same workout each day, or even the same workout 2 days in a row.  You should at least alternate days.   For example: run on Monday, strength/cardio on Tuesday (such as a combination or all of those listed below), walk or run Wednesday, strength/cardio Thursday, kickboxing Friday, family walk Saturday, rest Sunday. 

As always, please warm up, cool down, drink plenty of water, and stretch at the end of your workout.  Please consult a doctor before beginning any new fitness routine.

Happy Fitness!

10 minute interval workout - focuses mostly on legs, combining strength with cardio.  Honestly, its one of the easier 10 minute cardio routines I've done.  Definitely give it a try!

Abs and Love-Handles - focuses on just that, the mid-section.  I did these as described, although I substituted side planks (30 seconds on each side) for the last exercise, the muffin top melter, because I found it to be awkward.  That substitution is optional, but I thought I would throw it out there.

The Arm Challenge - this workout is advertised as the "tone your arms in 7 days" - PLEASE DO NOT do these arm exercises 7 days in a row!!!  Any trainer will tell you that you break up your muscle groups on different days, such as doing biceps and triceps one day, shoulders and traps another.  This routine works all arm/shoulder/upper back muscles.  To keep it simple, it is safe to do this routine every other day, but I would not recommend doing it daily.  I plan to do it 3 days a week, such as Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  And besides, don't expect anything in 7 days.|workout|tonearms|11-06-12   

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kale, Pea, and Mozzarella Frittata

A quick, healthy, and delicious any-time-of-day treat!  Don't limit this to just breakfast.  This would make an excellent lunch or dinner paired with a side salad or fresh fruit.  This recipe serves 1-2 people (depending if you are eating it alone or with some other food) and it is made in a small oven-proof frying pan.  If you have a larger oven proof pan, you could easily double or triple the recipe.   Leftovers heat up nicely in the microwave. It I love this because of its simplicity in using things right out of the freezer.  No prepping or chopping.  Just throw it together and bake! 

Happy Cooking!

Kale, Pea, and Mozzarella Frittata
3 eggs 
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup frozen chopped kale
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
cooking spray for the pan

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium-small bowl, add the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
Whisk together with a fork to combine evenly.
In a small oven proof frying pan sprayed cooking spray (or you could use 1 T olive oil or butter), add the eggs, kale, peas, and mozzarella. 
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cooked all the way through.  You may need to increase your cooking time if doubling or tripling the recipe.   Slice and enjoy!  Yummy!!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Linguine with Sundried Tomato, Olive, and Basil Pesto

Another great simple pasta dish that comes together in less than 20 minutes.  My husband went back for seconds and even the baby liked it!   The sauce is delicious and extremely flavorful.  I didn't even use salt or pepper.  So yummy!  Plus it is very versatile.  It would make a great picnic pasta salad for the summer - no need to keep cold.  Just toss with rotini or some type of short curly pasta that will catch the sauce and serve!  For added flare, add fresh veggies such as chopped arugula, blanched and cut asparagus, or fresh peas.  For a Mediterranean twist, add some feta cheese.  The possibilities are endless. 

Tonight I made a simple baked chicken breast and a side salad to go with it, (drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder.  Bake chicken at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until 165 degrees in the thickest part).  Plus, it was an easy meal to adapt for my sometimes picky toddler.  He ate the chicken as is and I put aside some of the pasta before I poured the sauce on. 

Definitely an easy dish to entertain with or a quick and easy weeknight meal.  Enjoy!!!

Happy Cooking!

Linguine with Sundried Tomato, Olive, and Basil Pesto
based on
1 lb linguine pasta
1 cup (6 ounces) chopped or julienned sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 cup (4 ounces) pitted medium green olives
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, basil, garlic, oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  (I have a mini food professor that attaches to the base of my blender - everything fit just fine).  Pulse until evenly combined and all is chopped into a tapenade consistency.
Once the pasta is done, drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. 

Add the Parmesan cheese, tomato/olive mixture, and pasta water. 

Toss until the pasta is coated.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

I sliced my chicken breast and fanned it across the top of the pasta for serving.  Definitely an easy dish to entertain with or a quick and easy weeknight meal.  Enjoy!!!

Week 20?!?!

That's crazy!!! I can't believe that we are about to celebrate Memorial Day! I am so glad I started blogging more regularly again. It's been a great outlet for me. Plus it's also given me permission to explore my other two favorite outlets: cooking and fitness. I hope you've been able to try a few recipes from the site and I hope you continue to enjoy the new posts.

Although I am not cooking much this week, I am still catching up with recipes I've made and haven't had the time to post. Life ebbs and flows with highs and lows, busy times and peaceful times. The last few weeks have been NUTS. We have a lot of events this week and my family will be in town for the holiday weekend. Yay!!! So we will probably be taking in the city and eating at the many fine restaurants Boston has to offer.

Have a great week and enjoy your holiday weekend!


Week 20- May 20, 2013

Sunday- leftovers

Monday- cookout with the neighbors

Tuesday- turkey tacos (just your average hard shell tacos made with ground turkey and homemade taco seasoning), green salad

Wednesday- moms night out book club dinner

Thursday - end of year school picnic

Friday - pizza night

Saturday- night on the town

Friday, May 17, 2013

A New Parent's Care Package
With Mother's Day celebrations this past weekend, Father's day on the way, and a friend in my neighborhood giving birth to her 2nd baby girl, let's talk about what to give new parents to celebrate in the birth of their baby or an adoption.

As a new mom, I remember feeling totally overwhelmed with the thought of what to eat, let alone find the time to actually eat anything.  Between the large piles of baby laundry (they go through a lot in the beginning, especially if you have one that spits up a lot), the lack of sleep, housework, and day to day personal hygiene, cooking dinner is the last thing on your mind.

After my first child was born, a colleague sent over a large pan of lasagna and baked chicken from a local restaurant.  We had so much we froze some of it and I was able to eat it for lunch in those following weeks.  Another friend delivered two fully prepared dinners:  ribs, vegetables, salmon with mango salsa, and brown rice.  And yet another friend delivered some pre-made goodies from Whole Foods grocery store.  I appreciated each so much!  To be able to go and grab food when I had a moment to eat was AMAZING!   So if you are thinking about what you can get a new mom AFTER the birth of her baby, bring her food!

Here are some great ideas for feeding new parents along with a link to the recipe for anything I may have already posted.  But if you are too busy yourself to make something homemade, then order from a local restaurant or grocery store.  It is the thought that counts, not whether or not you made it yourself.
Whatever you have time for,  to purchase pre-made or to make at home, your friend will be so THRILLED to have anything to eat in the house.  And when you stop by to drop off the food, don't forget to ask if there is anything you can do to help out while you are there.  I know I will never forget those who took time out of their day to help me out after the birth of each of my children.  It is such a special time, but can be stressful too.  A friendly face and food to fuel your body can be just what a new parent needs!

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guacamole Salad

I love avocado and anything with avocado.  This recipe is no exception...delicious!  Super easy, a great salad on its own, or as a side dish, I highly recommend trying it out!  I cut the original recipe in 1/4 since I knew we couldn't eat 4 avocados worth and the any leftover would turn brown.  This was the perfect amount for my husband and I to share.  Feel free to multiple the recipe as appropriate for the crowd you are feeding.  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!

Guacamole Salad
based on
1/2 cup of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup of diced red onion
2 T of chopped fresh cilantro 
1 avocado, diced
the juice of 1/4 of a lime
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized bowl, add the chopped tomato and onion.
Then add the rest of the ingredients.
Gently stir to combine, being careful to not break the avocado apart too much.  Serve immediately!  Yummy!!!

Chicken & Brown Rice Taco Bake

Yummy!  Love this dish and so did the whole family!  Best part is that most of it can be made ahead and the recipe was so easy that my toddler made it...and he was so proud of himself.  Plus, he was willing to try something he otherwise might have turned down.  If you want to save yourself time, make the chicken and rice ahead of time so all you have to do is mix things together and bake.  you can cook the chicken and rice on the weekend or the night before, whatever works for your lifestyle and hectic weekday schedule. This is another dish that I will be adding to the rotation.  I served it with a simple guacamole salad (recipe found here: and roasted cauliflower.  Delicious!!!

Happy Cooking!

Chicken & Brown Rice Taco Bake
based on  

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked and cut up into bite size pieces (my recipe below) 
4 cups cooked brown rice (I used my rice cooker, but follow the package directions) 
¾ cup frozen corn 
15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed 
1 cup plain greek yogurt 
1/2 tsp each of onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder
4 ounces can of diced mild chilies 
½ cup salsa 
1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese, plus 1/2 cup more for topping

Make your rice and chicken ahead of time (this might be 1-2 hours before you plan to put this dish together, or days in advance - read the directions on the brown rice or for your rice cooker). 
2 cups of uncooked rice yields a little more than 4 cups of cooked rice
I baked my own chicken, but you could use rotisserie chicken.  I took my chicken breasts and cut them into equal pieces (this meant that I cut the two large breasts into 2 smaller pieces that would cook more evenly to the smaller breast).  I sprayed a cooking dish with non-stick spray, drizzled the chicken with olive oil, and sprinkled it with salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder.  I baked it at 350 for 30 minutes or until my thermometer read 165 degrees in the thickest part of the biggest piece. 
My children loved this chicken just is, so this is another "go to" quick and healthy chicken for the family.
Now its time to assemble the taco bake. 
This is the yogurt I used because it was on sale at the grocery store.  I just used one container, which was approximately 1 cup.
In a large bowl, add the spices.
Then the yogurt and the salsa, stirring to combine thoroughly before adding any other ingredients. 
Then start to add the other tasty ingredients, diced chilies...
the corn and beans...
the chicken, rice, and 1 cup of cheese.
Stir to combine...looks yummy and tastes yummy just as is!
Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray and spread the taco bake evenly.   Top with 1/2-1 cup more cheese (totally up to you, but it is reduced fat and a great source of calcium if you are cooking for kiddos!). 
Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.  So yummy!  Enjoy!!!

I went back for seconds!  And I highly recommend the guacamole salad!!! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baked Potatoes with Sausage & Arugula Sauce

Looking for another quick, less than 10 minute, weeknight meal???  Then look no further!  This is another "go to" dish that comes together in minutes.  You can even "bake" the potatoes in the microwave if you are in a pinch (5-10 minutes on high - don't forget to wash and prick them with a fork).  My husband was skeptical of this meal, but he was pleasantly surprised saying, "Oh, this is really good!".   Plus you can make it a one dish meal and serve it with a simple side salad.  Can't get any easier!

Happy Cooking!
Baked Potatoes with Sausage and Arugula Sauce
Recipe based on:
3 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (I always use my garlic press)
4 sweet Italian-style turkey sausage, casings removed (I had two extra links that I cooked in a separate pan for the kiddos - they LOVE turkey sausage!)
1 1/2 cups tomato-basil or marinara sauce (I used a jar but you can use homemade also)
3 cups baby arugula
2 T whipped cream cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
4 baked russet potatoes
In a large skillet, cook the sausage and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.
 In the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the sausage back in, along with the marinara and the arugula. 
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the arugula has wilted, about 2 minutes. 
Adding the sausage and sauce
Then the arugula...cooked down.
Add the cream cheese and stir until the mixture forms a creamy sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
The cream cheese adds a richness, but feel free to leave it out if you want to cut some calories.

Cut a slit in the top of each baked potato and spoon the sausage sauce into each potato.  Enjoy!


Pasta with Spinach, Pepper, and Pecorino Romano

A creamy pasta with spinach and pizazz...This is a tried and true10 minute meal! Super fast, simple, and so very delicious!   It might not be the lightest thing I've made in these past few weeks, but I'm sure I could play around with it to create a lighter version.  My version had too much pepper and not enough spinach, so the recipe below reflects how I would make it NEXT time.  Either way, this is so yummy!!! Plus, you can make it as mild or as spicy as you would like.  This is most definitely going on my regular rotation as a quick "go to" meal.  I hope you all like it as much as we did!!!

Happy Cooking!

Pasta with Spinach, Pepper, and Pecorino Romano
based on
1 lb fusilli (I used rotini) pasta
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
2 pkgs baby spinach leaves (10 ounces), chopped
1-3 tsp ground pepper, depending on how spicy you like things (remember you can always add more, but can never take the spice away)
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese (6 ounces)
1 cup mascarpone cheese (8 ounces), at room temperature

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta.  I did this while making the sauce so that everything was ready in 10 minutes or less...the sauce takes less than that really.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes.  Be very careful during this step - do not allow the garlic to burn or it will leave a bitter taste in the oil.  Once lightly browned, remove the garlic and discard. Add the chopped spinach and 1 teaspoon pepper, and cook until the spinach has wilted, about 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat and add the pasta. Add the Pecorino Romano cheese, 1/2 tsp salt and toss until coated.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the reserved cooking liquid and the mascarpone cheese until smooth. 
Pour over the pasta and toss until coated. Season with salt and any additional pepper to taste.  Again, be careful with the pepper.  You can always add more.  This is so simple and delicious!  Enjoy!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Week 19

Today is Mother's Day, so obviously I'm taking a liason from the kitchen.   However, I still want to do what I enjoy which is to talk about food!!!  So without further ado, below are the recipes I'll be cooking this week.  I've been slightly obsessed with Giada DeLaurentiis' recipes lately.  I'm just going to go with it and continue to cook those favorites of mine and try a few new ones, including some of Giada's.  They are not all "healthy" but they are all recipes I LOVE to eat!  And as I always say, everything in moderation.  You can have those deliciously decadent treats as long as you continue to use portion control, and even it out with healthier meals throughout the week.

Happy Cooking!

 Week 19 - May 12, 2013

Sunday - who knows?  I wonder if my husband will cook himself, or order money is on the latter

Monday - roasted shrimp with penne, arugula, pine nuts and grape tomatoes

Tuesday- cheesy light & easy mexican chicken and rice bake, roasted broccoli, guacamole salad

Wednesday - pasta with sundried tomato and olive sauce, grilled chicken, arugula salad

Thursday - crockpot north african pulled beef sandwiches with yogurt-mint sauce, greek salad

Friday - pizza night

Saturday -  leftovers

Balsamic Glazed Roasted Salmon with Snap Peas & Edamame

This meal can be put together in less than 20 minutes, from start to finish!  And its so yummy!!!  I wish I made extra to have for lunch a few times this week.  Eating it twice just wasn't enough!  The kids love the bright green vegetables, and even if they didn't eat them all, I was able to get my oldest to try new things.  I also made two kinds of fish, both on sale this week.  I made salmon for me and my husband, but chose to make cod for the kids since its much more mild in flavor.  It was a hit and if I had a regular meal rotation, this would definitely make the cut!

Happy Cooking!

Balsamic Glazed Roasted Salmon with Snap Peas & Edamame
recipe from Giada DeLaurentis 
For the Glaze:
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T maple syrup
1T dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

For the Salmon:
Four 6-ounce center-cut salmon fillets, skinned  (I used about 3/4 of a pound each of salmon and cod.  I had to skin the salmon myself...yuck.  Next time I'll remember to ask at the grocery store)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
For the Vegetables:
2 T olive oil
1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame
2 cups sugar snap peas (I used one 8 oz package), halved

For the glaze: In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and garlic to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thick, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

For the salmon: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a small baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray (or use parchment paper). Arrange the salmon (and/or cod) on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Roast until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
And after!
Close up of the roasted salmon - it was so good and easy that I would make it this way anytime I wanted a piece of salmon!
And the kids LOVED the cod!  So buttery, flaky, and light.  Perfect for people who want a mild fish.

For the vegetables: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and cook until the shallots are softened, about 3 minutes. 
Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the edamame and snap peas and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes.

You still want them to have a crunch and be yummy!  Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the vegetable mixture among 4 serving plates. Top with a piece of salmon and drizzle with the glaze.

Before I added the glaze.
Ready to serve!  Seriously so delicious!  Better than some I've had at a restaurant. Enjoy!