January 31, 2012

Simple & Delicious

Such.  A.  Long.  Day.  At.  Work.
Such.  A.  Long.  WEEK.  At.  Work
3 more days!

So anyway - tonight I made an incredibly simple yet super yummy dinner!
Broccoli florets sauteed in garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes over a mix of whole wheat and regular linguine topped with a little parmesan cheese!

January 30, 2012

New Beginnings?

I had a hands down fabulous weekend!  And in many ways I think that it may be the start of many good things to come.

Friday night was GREAT!  Saturday I went out to an Indian restaurant with some of my girlfriends and then we went out to one of my favorite bars in Troy - Footsy Magoos.  And then Sunday was also GREAT!

Here's a little snap shot of my Indian dinner 
(I do not normally like or eat Indian food but this place was actually pretty good)

This week is also my last week of work and it is SUPER busy!  I am going to a training all day Wednesday, I am putting on a speed interviewing event that I have been planning for months on Thursday, YouthBuild graduation rehearsal is also Thursday night and then YouthBuild graduation is Friday.  Luckily my boss will be hosting everyone at his house after graduation for some drinks and relaxation.

A few things that I have realized that I will miss when I leave NPCS (there are MANY but I took a picture of two today) ... 

John and Steve bringing me their coupon inserts every Monday morning.
  
And co-workers who think of things like this ...
(The 'ZING OF THE DAY' trophy is passed around the office to the person who has the best daily zinger - typically this occurs at lunch.)

January 22, 2012

Mexican Night

I have been craving Mexican lately and sadly Albany does not have a wide selection of good yet yet Mexican (another thing I miss about Virginia) - if you want good Mexican food in Albany you're going to have to pay - so I decided to make my own!

 Ingredients...
I cooked the brown rice with a packet of taco seasoning to make it more flavorful and mixed the re-fried and black beans together.

The end result - placed in my ubber cool split pyrex baking dish...

And ta-da!
(The rice and beans on a whole wheat tortilla with salsa, sour cream and cheese!)

 And on another note ... I also made cookies ... and peanut butter oat banana bread, see my theory is that after I tell my co-workers tomorrow that I am leaving I will make them feel better with my baked goods - we'll see how it goes.

January 21, 2012

Changes

 Pretty soon there will be some major changes in my life!  I'm excited and know that it is for the best but change is always hard (at least for me).  I have decided to leave my job at Northeast Parent & Child Society in order to take a position with the Albany Damien Center.  The position I've accepted is the Housing and Employment Coordinator for the Albany Damien Center!  There will be some major changes as I transition; I will be going from an organization of approximately 600 to an organization of about 10, the Center is located in Albany instead of Schenectady and while there will be some similarities in the clientele there is one major difference - all of the clients receiving services from the ADC are PLWA/H.  This is definitely a career move for me; I will be heading up a brand new national model grant (only 7 organizations in the country received this grant), I will be representing the ADC throughout the Capital Region as well as on the state level and the goal of the grant is that I become the point employment and benefits specialist for all agencies in the Capital Region serving PLWA/H.  I am very excited about the opportunity but I am also VERY sad to leave NPCS.  NPCS has been my home for nearly the past two years and over the years my supervisor has really taken the time to development my career development skills; I almost feel guilty for leaving but I know it is for the best.  I gave my two weeks notice to NPCS this past Friday and in my last two days with the agency I will make sure a speed interviewing event runs smoothly and I will graduate the last three cycles of students.  It will be a good albeit sad conclusion.

In other news - I have been sick for about the past two weeks.  At first I thought it was due to the stress of trying to decide whether or not to accept the job with the ADC but then it never went away.  Yesterday it got even worse and I ended the day at Urgent Care where I received a couple of prescriptions and was ordered to rest this weekend.  I definitely have a new appreciation for Redbox as I have watched 'The Debt', 'The Help' and 'Moneyball'.

I have also decided to try and take up cross country skiing or snow shoeing - I will report later on how either of these workout out! 

January 17, 2012

Weekend Eats

In order to de-stress this weekend (I will blog about what has been stressing me at some point) I (of course) decided to bake and cook!  This weekend it was carrot and zucchini cake with vanilla icing and a cheesy veggie chowder soup!

Cheesy Veggie Chowder 
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrot
2 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup milk
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 heaping cups shredded cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  
Add onions, carrots, and celery and sauté over medium heat until tender.  
Add garlic and cook 1 or 2 additional minutes.  
Add chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are tender.  
Mix flour with water, add, and simmer until soup is slightly thickened.  
Add milk and broccoli and cook until broccoli is just tender and soup is heated through.  Stir in cheese, allow to melt, and serve.


Carrot and Zucchini Bars 
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil 
1/4 cup honey 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot 
1 cup shredded zucchini 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp ground ginger 
1/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, honey, and vanilla.   
- Then fold in the carrot and zucchini
- In another bowl combine add the flour, baking powder, ginger, and baking soda and whisk to blend together. 
- Add to flour mixture to the wet mixture. Stir just until combined. 
- Spread batter into 9 x 12-inch baking pan. 
- Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

January 15, 2012

The Best Quiche Ever?

Possibly!  I discovered this recipe on Pinterest (where else) last week and decided to give it a try.  I had never made a quiche before so I was a little worried but it turned out even better than I could have imagined!

Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche with a Brown Rice Crust
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Mix the rice, finely grated cheese and one egg in a bowl. Press the rice mixture into a pie plate.
  2. Bake brown rice pie crust in a preheated 450 degrees oven until the edges and bottom just start turning golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Mix the remaining eggs, milk, broccoli, sharp cheddar cheese and green onions in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust.
  4. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven until golden brown and set in the center, about 30 to 35 minutes.
 
 

January 12, 2012

It's Finally Winter

It has finally snowed!  Mark it - January 12, 2012 - the first significant snow fall of the winter in Albany.  (It snowed maybe an inch or two over Halloween weekend which made everyone think that we were in for a brutal winter but it has been incredibly mild and lacking snowfall until this morning.)

Proof!
 
On another note ... this is what happens when B2H staff in my office get bored and there are leftover toys from the Holiday Hope Fund...
And lastly an ingenious idea (well - I think it is slightly ingenious) that I had this morning!  I always like to have some ibuprofen and what not in my purse just in case I happen to get a headache or something - BUT I hate that the pills always make noise when I carry them around, so this morning I did this ...

January 11, 2012

So I'm Training for a Half Marathon . . .

 I believe I mentioned a while ago that I wanted to run a half marathon - well it's happening.  March 24th in New York City!  I began my training at the end of November (2011) and I am on a 17 week training plan.  I know that may seem long and it is (typically training plans run about 12 weeks) but since I trained through the holidays I incorporated in some 'repeat' weeks and also repeated some weeks where the mileage was upped or when I knew I would be traveling.  This program is whipping me into shape, so apart of me wants to keep it going as long as possible!  Anyone to knows me knows that I work best with a schedule so between the half marathon training and keeping  track of my calorie intake through the 'My Fitness Pal' app on my iPhone I have been increasing my level of fitness and losing weight!

So for all of you who are/were wondering, here is my training plan!
 It's pretty self explanatory but I typically spin three mornings a week at my gym, run three days a week and take yoga at least two and sometimes three times a week.  (Many programs incorporate a 'strength' element or 'lifting' days into half marathon training but since my back is completely averse to lifting now-a-days I do hot yoga as my strength component!)  My yoga days may vary depending on work, grad school classes or if I have something to do that night, but everything else is pretty set in stone. 

And yes - if/when I complete this race I will be one of those people who has a '13.1' magnet on my car.  I mean come on - I used to be a power lifting hammer thrower who couldn't run a mile without passing out - this would be quite the accomplishment. 
Fingers crossed!! 

Pasta!

As much as I try to avoid it I do love pasta and sometimes I have to indulge; last night was one of those times.  The past two weeks have been ubber stressful, I haven't been sleeping very well but I am still working out like crazy - so last night I really wanted a good meal but was not in the mood to do any type of major cooking.   I discovered this recipe on Pinterest and it just so happened that I had all the ingredients in my pantry.  It was also SO simple!

Penne pasta
1 jar spaghetti/marinara sauce
1 jar alfredo sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 bag of frozen vegetables
Cook the pasta as directed then mix the sauces and the cheese together.

 Once the pasta is cooked and the sauces/cheese are mixed, toss the sauce, pasta and frozen vegetables together.  Place the mixture in a 9 x 13 pan (although I used and 8 x 8) and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  I also added a little parmesan cheese to the top!



The dish SUPER delicious, so simple and I also had a ton of leftovers for lunch (and dinner) the next day!

January 8, 2012

What did I make this weekend?

Lots of things!  Mainly to keep myself busy and keep my mind off of impending decisions but it certainly resulted in some deliciousness!

I LOVE stroganoff, mainly beef stroganoff but since I no longer really eat meat (especially when I am in Albany) I decided to make broccoli and cauliflower stroganoff!  


I placed the broccoli and cauliflower in the crock pot and covered the veggies with two cans of 'Healthy Request Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup'.  I added about a cup of white wine, some Worcestershire sauce and a couple beef (or vegetable) bouillon cubes.  I let it cook on high for about 3.5 - 4 hours and then served it over pasta!

It also made for some great left overs the next day!

Next up was some whole wheat challah!
(Notice the super cool silicon baking mat that Dana gave me for Christmas!)

Then some peanut butter cookies with Reese's peanut butter chips.
(Get excited co-workers because they are coming to you tomorrow!)


And lastly this morning I made another amazing pot of veggie chili - full of peppers, onions, zucchini and of course beans!


Off to attempt my 6 mile run for the day - yay for half marathon training!  
Happy Weekend!

January 5, 2012

Mixer Firsts and Whole Wheat Bread

As I mentioned in a previous post I received THE mixer for Christmas - a beautiful blue Kitchenaid Mixer - which also happens to be refurbished which makes it even more cool!  I had yet to use the mixer so last night I decided to make some whole wheat bread!  (Of course I found this bread recipe on 'Pinterest' a.k.a. my other addiction.)  Here are some pictures and then the full recipe to follow!  

Mixing the warm water, yeast and honey
Whole wheat flour!
Mixing the water/yeast/honey combination with half of the flour
Switched to the dough hook and mixed in the remaining flour
Yay dough rolls!
Placed the dough rolls in two greased loaf pans
Cover and let rise ... with a lemon towel!
Ta-da!

Recipe
3.5 cups warm water
1.5 tsp yeast
1/4 cup honey
7 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
2 heaping table spoons olive oil
(Yields two loaves)

- Mix the warm water, yeast and honey in the mixing bowel and allow the yeast to proof.
- Add half of the whole wheat flour - 3.5 cups, the salt and the olive oil and mix together still using the 'mixing' attachment - once complete let the it sit for 1 minute.
- Switch to the dough hook and add the second half of the flour - 3.5 cups and mix on high for 6 - 7 minutes then let the dough sit for about 15 minutes.
- Dump the dough onto a floured surface and cut in half - it will be very sticky!
- Shape the dough into loaves and place them in two greased loaf pans.  Allow the dough to rise until it's sticking over the top of the pan.
- Bake for 35 minutes on 350 degrees - although if you are baking both loaves at once they may take about 50 minutes to an hour.

Enjoy!
I plan on experimenting with more bread recipes this weekend!

(Also - the main reason I decided to make the bread last night is because I have new neighbors in the two apartments next and across the hall from me.  Being from Virginia and raised in the practice that you always go introduce yourself to your new neighbors and often times bring them something I decided this needed to be done.  Hours of bread baking later I knocked on the doors with warm homemade bread expecting to introduce myself.  But no one would come to the doors - either of them - and to make matters worse it was VERY clear that they were in their apartments.  Now they could have been otherwise engaged but my act of southern hospitality failed and now I have a ton of bread - thankfully my co-workers will get to enjoy it!)