March 25, 2013


Yesterday (and I am including Saturday night in 'yesterday's' time frame) was busy!  In fact the weekend as a whole seemed go-go-go - but in a good way.  I will admit though that on this particular Monday morning I am feeling pretty tired and wishing for a three day weekend, oh well.  So anyway, Friday night we attended a high school production of Beauty and the Beast - for a HS production it was pretty decent.  Saturday morning was relaxing and followed by various errands to the bank, Target, LL Bean, Trader Joe's and ShopRite.  After a quick dinner we headed to The Egg in downtown Albany to see Sara Watkins!  Sara Watkins is 1/3 of the band Nickel Creek and is now touring solo.  The tickets were (very) reasonably priced for The Egg and while I have not listened to a ton of Nickel Creek I remember my best friend Dana being pretty obsessed with Nickel Creek growing up.  So it was off to The Egg, but not before a quick walk up the hill to Ben & Jerry's on Lark Street - I had a groupon that needed to be taken advantage of - perfect timing!

Sara Watkins was great - she performed with two others who played everything from the base guitar and piano to the banjo.  If you know nothing about Sara Watkins know that this girl is dynamite on the fiddle!  Her music is categorized as 'progressive bluegrass' and it pretty much sounded like the music I grew up with.  While Sara Watkins was awesome to me what made the show was the opening act - a group named Field Report - out of Milwaukee, WI.  They were touring with Sara Watkins for a couple of show and I was really happy that one of their shows happened to be in Albany.  I had never heard of the band or their music before Saturday night but they were great and I can without question that they are band I would see live over and over again.  During intermission I ended up buying their CD and got to meet the lead singer Chris Porterfield!  I said his music is awesome and I hope that they come perform in Albany again soon - he said they definitely would so let's hope they keep that promise!

Sara Watkins and company!
Sara Watkins and band + Field Report!
Field Report's CD
So after a late night at The Egg I was up bright and early the next morning to spin for 'Building Stronger Survivors - Pedaling Toward A Pink Cure'.  Every year all the VENT Fitnesses (formerly Gold's Gym) in the area bring their spin bikes into the gym at the College of St. Rose and hold a 5 hour spin-a-thon to raise money for breast cancer.  This is the second year I have participated in the event and each year my 5:45 AM spin class gets a team together to ride.  Afterwards we go out to breakfast and it is a ton of fun - this year was no exception.  We rode the 8 AM - 9 AM ride with our instructor John leading the group.  In total there were about 130 spin bikes in the gym and for our ride I bet 115 were filled!  It's a great event, tons of energy and of course raising money for a good cause.

Early shot of the gym before the 8 AM ride.

Later that afternoon I decided I wanted to make something healthy and delicious for dinner!  Saturday  morning I had watched Bobby Deen's show on the Cooking Channel 'Not My Momma's Meals' - not my favorite show but man he has some good recipes!  From the show I decided upon a twice baked sweet potato!  His original recipe called for shrimp and cheese but I amended it to exclude the cheese and used spicy andouille chicken sausage instead of shrimp.  The recipe takes a little bit of time because you have to bake the sweet potatoes twice but the in between the create the filling is super simple.  Here's the recipe.

Sweet & Spicy Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
3 medium sweet potatoes (may vary depending on servings - 3 medium sweet potatoes for two people yielded leftovers for lunch)
2 links Spicy Andouille Chicken Sausage (I used Trader Joe's)
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup spinach
Pre-heat oven to 350 and place forked sweet potatoes on a raise baking sheet ~ bake for about 1 hour or until tender ~ once cooked allow the potatoes to cool then slice in half and scoop out the insides, placing the sweet potato in a medium mixing bowl and the potato shells back on the baking sheet ~ if not already mashed, mash the sweet potatoes ~ in the meantime slice the sausage into half inch pieces and allow to cook over medium heat until browned ~ just before the sausage is finished add the garlic, salt and spinach ~ allow the spinach to cook down ~ once complete transfer the spinach/sausage mixture into the mashed sweet potato bowl and add the sour cream ~ mix everything together ~ once mixed transfer the mixture back into the sweet potato shells ~ if desired top with cheese and bake at 350 for an addition 20 - 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

Honestly - these were awesome!  Probably one of the best things I have made in a while.  I served the potatoes with a big chef's salad and that was dinner!  The potatoes were simple, healthy, filling and the perfect mix of sweet and spicy.   I can't wait to eat the leftovers for lunch today!

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