Monday, August 23, 2010

Trader Joe's is my Happy Place

I shop at Trader Joe's when I feel like browsing, cooking, shopping, de-stressing, being inspired, really all the time. And if you've read my blog, you'll know I am constantly talking about the great products TJs features. The only drawback that I've been able to find is sometimes when I'm cooking from a recipe I'm not able to find all the needed ingredients at TJs and have to make an additional stop at a traditional grocery store. So today- when I got an email from a great website, that they were publishing a book full or TJs recipes & creations- with 100% Trader Joe's products, I was thrilled! And amazingly this "Unofficial Guide To Trader Joe's" is only $5.95 with free shipping! (if you use the promo code TRADERJOESFAN- at check out you'll get an additional $1 off). 

Their email stated "We took the collective knowledge and votes of thousands of shoppers and employees to select over 100 of the very best Trader Joe's products and paired them with 50 easy, delicious recipes to create a beautiful, glossy pocket guide and cookbook for Trader Joe's shoppers." UM YUM.  The book also includes fun things like the Best Cheeses list, Kid Friendly foods, Most Addictive Cookies (I don't need that one!) and more. I bought my copy immediately and am counting down till it arrives.
I'll write a review soon.  I think it's also a great potential holiday gift (it's never too early to start shopping) for any Trader Joe's lovers in your life!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My First Published (anonymous) Article!

Obviously writing and blogging is a hobby for me, but someday I'd love to be an author. I'm currently deciding between a cookbook, fiction, non-fiction... obviously I've really narrowed it down :). To keep motivated and gain experience for when I eventually figure it out,  I just started "content writing" for two health/fitness websites.
So... when I write an article for them, I'll provide the links on the blog so you can check them out as well.  Check out my first article!

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Broke 30!

From a 10k in March- but you get the idea
Yesterday Chris and I ran America's Finest City 5k.  This is our third year running it and I finally accomplished my goal of coming in under 30 minutes! Last year- I came VERY close- with a time of 30:01 (not a joke) but this year I finished the course in 29:44.  Yay! We celebrated by having a DECADENT breakfast at Hash House a Go Go. This place is no joke, when we arrived post race at the early early time of 8am, there was already a 20 minute wait.  Why? Becuase it's that good. They consider their cusine Twisted Farm Food with Indiana roots, and they do it well! Chris's breakfast was by far the winner- he had a Farm Benedict featuring sage fried chicken w/ fresh spinach, hardwood smoked bacon, market tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs. Um yum. 
Chris's Benedict
My favorite menu item was called O'Hare of the Dog and consisted of a 24 oz Budwiser (served in a brown paper bag) with a side of bacon. Classy :) I went with an egg white scramble that was big enough for about 4 people.  
Overall- it was a great weekend! AND I have an exciting week to look forward to, I'm heading up North for a long weekend at Lake Naciamento with my family and two best friends (Brooke is coming in from NY!) to celebrate my birthday! There will likely be nothing healthy about the trip... but lots of fun and great company.  Next week I plan to get back on track with good eating (food journaling) and Bar Method. Till then, be good without me! :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pizza Time!

Long time no blog! Brooke recently attributed the fact she hadn't been to the gym in a month on my lack of blogging. :) Hmm.... anyway I figured I better get back to the blog before everybody goes off the deep end! 
But in truth- what actually motivated me to blog today was to share a recipe I made last night for a homemade-ish pizza! Notice I'm not claiming this is fully homemade, or healthy- although I'm sure there are some great reduced calorie recipes out there, this was my first gourmet pizza making attempt and my priority was making it taste good!

Not my actual creation- but you get the idea
Quick note- I bought all supplies except the spices at Trader Joe's (shocking I know) Their pre-made pizza dough and sauce were outstanding and would work well with any toppings! 
Asparagus, Pancetta & Sun Dried Tomato Pizza-Let Pizza Dough sit out on a floured surface for 20 min.
While this is happening- do the following:
-Preheat oven to 450.
-Chop 4-5 stalks asparagus into bite size pieces.  (picture it being on top of your pizza- you don't really want big chunks) and then toss it into a pan with a little water and cover until it begins to soften. (at least 5 min) 
-Add 1/2 cup pre-diced pancetta to the pan.  This is SO good and adds so much flavor! Let it cook until slightly crispy, then remove the pan from heat.  
-Chop up 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes and set aside. 
-Roll out the pizza dough.  This is where things got tricky. I bought mine pre-made at TJs, BUT was unhappy with the way it stretched out, uneven and misshapen- so I rolled it all in a ball and tried again. BAD idea.  Just go wtih the first "stretch out" even if it's not perfectly shaped.  Chris found me in the kitchen covered in flour attempting to roll pizza dough with a wine bottle. Since at this point the lumpy creation seemed destined for the garbage, he tried his pizza tossing skills... and amazingly we pulled out some sort of stretched crust creation. Maybe not symmetrical- but it sure tasted great!
-Stretch out the pizza dough on a lightly oiled pan and then top with sauce.  I used a TJ's  pizza sauce that they sell in their premade fresh section, conveniently right next to the pizza dough.  I used the entire container and if you like your pizza saucy (sauce is healthier than cheese- just fyi) I'd even buy two containers.
-I topped the sauce with a blend of regular and light shredded mozzarella cheese. About a cup of each. I sometimes have trouble with getting the "light" version to melt properly, but the combo worked well.
-I then topped the pizza with the prepped asparagus, pancetta & sun dried tomatoes. 
-And then my FAVORITE part- which I will add to any pizza from now on- a spice blend! Mix the following:
2 tbs grated or shredded Asiago cheese
2 tbs sesame seed (I only had black sesame seed, which looked a little odd, but you couldn't taste a difference)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
After sprinkling the spice mix over the pizza I nervously put it in the oven and it cooked for about 12 minutes.  
The pizza came out piping hot, melty, spicy, saucy and DELICIOUS.  I ate two giant pieces and had to restrain myself from more.  Chris had a 3rd piece. It was THAT good.  I'm actually thinking I'll make it again for my upcoming Book Club meeting- so get excited if you're coming!
More health focused blogs to come- I promise.  But in the meantime... go make some pizza!
Ps.  Brooke- go to the gym. (If you want. No pressure. Just now you can't blame me anymore! )