Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunny Sunday

Yesterday was such a perfect winter day; the sun was shining and it was warm enough to be outside without your eyes watering and nose running. I bought a set of cross country skis with my birthday money and because the weather was so perfect, Brandon and I headed out to hit the ski trails. The park was pretty quiet- very few people, and incredibly gorgeous in the winter sun. I had forgotten how much I loved to cross country ski; I can't wait for the next sunny day to head out again!

Lovely View....

Snot-sicle Weather

Class has been clipping right along so far this semester; it's already the start of week four, but it feels like we just started back. I can't say that I'm surprised; our program added two classes to our total for the semester so we are currently taking 10 classes. Yep, that's 30 graduate credits. Time management is going to be an art form, that's for sure. Currently, my schedule consists of getting up at 6-630am to go to the gym, class till about 6pm and then studying until bed. It sure makes the day go by quickly! Thankfully, the semester doesn't seem to horrible because I enjoy most of my classes; somebody please remind me of this when it comes time for my 10 exam midterm week.

With my schedule being so nutty, I really have to plan ahead if I want to have free time during the weekends. This last weekend was one such occasion; Mom invited Brandon and I to "double date" with them at Zehnder's Snowfest in Frankenmuth. We arrived in Frankenmuth around 1pm, but it took us over a half an hour to get to the parking area; the area was absolutely packed with traffic and crowds. When we finally parked the car, we were able to catch a shuttle back to the main part of downtown where the majority of the festivities were being held. We wandered with the crowds admiring the snow and ice sculptures.

After a couple of hours, we had seen pretty much everything and had had enough of the crazy crowd and the cold. We hopped back on the shuttle and headed back to our parking lot at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. We then spent about an hours shopping at Bronner's...such an incredible and HUGE store! It was a nice ending to our afternoon in Frankenmuth. We all enjoyed the festival, but doubt we would go again simply because of the amount of people that were there; I think the best part of the trip was spending the time together.

On our way out of Bronner's, we happened to notice the lovely manger scene in front of the store...

 It was cold, definitely booger freezing cold, but these are some serious snot-sicles.

For Pete's Sake, Somebody Let the Cat Out of the Bag Already

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Favorite Quote.

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways,chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body throughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "woo what a ride!!"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Indy Update

 He loves new places to hide...this day, a shoe box.

 "What you lookin' at?"

Snuggled up in my covers...

Such a  handsome boy!

Things That Make Me Really Happy.....

 BOOKS! Oh, how I love me a packed bookshelf....I think it may be getting to the time to purchase another to hold more lovely books!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Double Date

  A few days before Christmas, Brandon and I met Mom and Dad and headed to Dow Gardens. Every year they put up lights and light luminaries in the gardens for a lighted night walk. It was beautiful! We stopped in to the greenhouse to warm up a bit, check out the beautiful Poinsettias, and snap a quick picture.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Dinner for Three...

I got a Kitchenaid Professional 600 Series stand mixer for Christmas from Brandon and OMG, is it GORGEOUS! I have been wanting one of those bad boys forever. It is a color called Meringue....a lovely pearlescent huge! It can make 13 dozen cookies or 8 loaves of bread at a time; Now, I seriously doubt I will EVER be making that many baked goods, but it's nice to know it will definitely be big enough to make anything I could ever want to mix up.
I have been dying to try the mixer since I got it, but haven't had the time nor the recipe to try. Today seemed like a good day to try out the beauty and do some serious cooking.....and cooking isn't fun unless you share the results, so I invited Mom and Dad for dinner tonight. I made apricot almond chicken with snow peas for the main course and espresso chocolate chip brownies for dessert...all low carb, and all pretty dang good!!

I made up the recipe for the chicken and was really happy with the result...makes 4 servings at 6.5 carbs per serving.

Apricot Almond Chicken
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1tbs lime juice
2tbs sugar free apricot preserves
1tsp red pepper flakes
1/2tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ginger
8 chicken breast tenders
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 cup snow peas

In a large bowl, whisk together apricot preserves, water, soy sauce and lime juice. Add  red pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir well. No salt is needed for this recipe because the soy sauce with add more than enough; however, if you are using low sodium soy sauce, you might want to add a little salt, but it really isn't necessary. Place thawed chicken in the bowl and cover. Allow to marinate for 2+ hours. While the chicken is marinating, place the slivered almonds in a small skillet. Using medium high heat, toast the almonds, stirring often, until they are a golden brown. Set aside.
 Pour the chicken and all of the marinade into a large skillet. Cook, covered, on medium high until the chicken is cooked through.
Cube the chicken. Add the snow peas and cook, covered, for another 3 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the almonds. Turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking until the water cooks off and the sauce gets thick. This can be served with rice, but rice is definitely not low carb and actually isn't even necessary....this chicken is filling and tasty all on its own! I would have a picture to show you of the finished product, but we were so hungry I forgot to snap a pic before we gobbled it all down.

I have not done nearly enough baking in the low carb world to be able to wing it on my own baked goods recipes, so I used a recipe from a book called 1001 Low Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender....she is a low carb genius!

Espresso Chocolate Chip Brownies
1 cup Splenda
1/2 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1tbs instant coffee crystals (decaf or regular)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
1/4 cup water
6 ounces sugar free chocolate chips or sugar free chocolate bars chopped to chip size in the food processor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix splenda, protein powder, almond meal, cocoa powder, coffee and salt. Cut in butter until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add water and mix thoroughly. Stir in chocolate chips. Spray an 8x8 glass dish with cooking spray and spoon in the batter evenly. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

The brownies can be cut into 25 pieces at 2 carbs per brownie, or 16 pieces at 3 carbs per brownie. I cut mine into 16 pieces; 25 pieces make for some small brownies! The brownies are not as sweet as normal brownies (duh) and taste more like dark chocolate than milk chocolate. I like the coffee flavor, but I think the full tablespoon was too strong; for me personally, I would like them better with about half the amount of coffee. I served it with a tablespoon of whipped cream (1 carb) for a pretty tasty dessert with total of 4 carbs.
The sweetness of the cream helps the flavor a lot, so I would definitely suggest using it. All in all, I don't think you will find a much better brownie for that low of a carb count....yum!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy 2011!

Happy New Year! and Merry Christmas too...seems I have been out of the blogosphere for a while. Let's see, where to begin....

I met a guy named Brandon at the beginning of November and we have been dating since. We really enjoy spending time together and he seems to fit in pretty well with the family. We're taking time to get to know one another and see where things go; I'm really happy. We have been quite busy during the last few weeks traveling and doing fun winter things. We went snowboarding a couple weeks ago- fun, but I literally bruised my butt. We also went to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland a week or so before Christmas and I got a few things to decorate my apartment....That place is awesome and has a lot of gorgeous stuff, but holy land of ticky-tacky Christmas crap.

Christmas was really nice. I went home Christmas Eve day and hung out with Michael for a while. Mom and Dad were visiting my grandparents and when the arrived home, we had pizza and wine...yummy. We finished the evening with some games of Scattergories and Pass the Pigs. The next morning, Aunt Joie came over and we all opened gifts. Santa got me an automatic car starter...wahoo! It will be soooo nice to be able to hit the button when I get up and have the car be warm when I am ready to go to class. I also got some great books and some dishes from Michael. We all sat down for breakfast and then Aunt Joie headed home. We spent the day watching movies and hanging out. Mom made a really yummy traditional dinner of turkey and all the fixings. The next day, Brandon and I headed to my Uncle Jim's house to meet up with the rest of the extended family. Uncle Jim prepared a great buffet lunch and then it was time for gifts; the younger kids all opened gifts from the rest of the family and then the rest of us did our traditional White Elephant gift game. It was a lot of fun and was really nice to be able to have everyone all together.

New Year's Eve this year was very low key and relaxing. Brandon and I decided not to fight crowds, so we went to Meijer and bought all the ingredients to make dinner. We made a Meatza....a pizza with a meat "crust", toppings, sauce and cheese...more carb friendly than regular pizza. We watched the first season of Glee- well, I watched and he kinda pretended to, while he played on his laptop and then we watched the ball drop at midnight....exactly what I was looking for....enjoyable, fun and relaxing and no stupid, drunk crowds. Perfect.

Today was a nesting kind of day. I cleaned my apartment, took down Christmas decorations and did some laundry. I also made dinner and holy cow, was it delicious! It was so good, I think I should probably share it with it a late Christmas gift ;)

Crunchy Cabbage, Snow Pea and Chicken Lettuce Wraps
8 chicken breast tenders, thawed
garlic powder
sea salt
cracked pepper
1/2 cup snow peas, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup red cabbage, chopped small
2 medium celery sticks, chopped small
1tbs finely chopped onion
1/4 cup pecans, cut into large pieces
1/4 mayo
1/4 cream cheese, softened
1/8tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp lemon juice
Romaine lettuce leaves

Using a large a skillet, cook the chicken in olive oil on medium heat. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Allow the chicken to brown and then remove from heat. Place the cut beans in a microwave dish with 1tbs water and cook for 1 minute. Remove and drain. In a large bowl, combine the mayo and cream cheese with a whisk. Add the lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Place the cooled chicken on a cutting board and cut the chicken into small cubes. Add the chicken and remaining ingredients to the sauce and stir well. Spoon enough of the chicken mixture to fill each lettuce leaf. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

 The above recipe is so yummy and so's a beautiful color and it is only 3 carbs..fabulous! I am starting the low carb eating plan again as my New Year's resolution. Happy 2011 everyone!