Archive | March, 2011

The Bumpy Trail Workout

31 Mar

It’s been a rough week for me.  The weather has been blistery cold and is now rather damp.  My sleep has been unfortunately erratic.  Work has been busy and somewhat stressful.  Wedding planning has been non-existent.

But with the lows, come some high points as well; a fun concert, some yummy recipes (coming soon!), and this rewarding workout.

I call it the Bumpy Trail workout because if you were to graph the speed (<– nerd alert x10) then you’d have a nice graph of rolling hills.  Can you see it?  It also seemed appropriate considering the week I’ve had.

Even a bumpy trail has to smooth itself out at some point right?  Until then, enjoy this workout 🙂

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The Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group Concert

30 Mar

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Omar Rodriguez Lopez is one of Alex’s favorite musicians.  He’s best known for his work as a composer, guitarist and producer of The Mars Volta, a progressive rock band.  According to wikipedia, “he has cited Crimson’s Robert Fripp as an influence, as well as jazz fusion guitarists John McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix.”  In addition to his work with The Mars Volta, he’s released several solo albums as the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group.

We were lucky enough to get tickets to their show last night at the Highline Ballroom.

Highline ballroom is on the westside of Manhattan, in Chelsea.  It is a small, intimate space without being too crowded or loud.  They also have several tables along each side of the stage and in the balcony.  We got there with plenty of time to snag a table right at the end of the balcony. 

Please forgive my photos.  I only had my iPhone with me and as you can imagine, the lighting was very low.  At least the shot above gives you an idea of our view for the night.

Since we got inside almost an hour before the show started, we had time to order some dinner.

I went with a classic; grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Perfect comfort food for this spring weather bitter cold that New York hasn’t been able to shake (ps… for all you New Yorkers out there, they’re calling for snow on Friday.  Yes, snow!).

This meal really hit the spot!  The tomato soup was so rich and creamy.  It was so much more satisfying than regular old Campbells.  And the grilled cheese was perfect.  The bread was lightly buttered and toasted just right.  The melty cheese and toasted bread paired nicely with the rich tomato sauce.  I definitely dunked my sandwich in the soup more than once!

And done!

Alex had the Kobe skirt steak.  He was also very happy with his dish.

Around the time we finished our entrees, the opener, Zechs Marquise, started.  Omar’s brother is the bassist of Zechs Marquise.  You can check out their music here.  Their set had a great beat.  Alex put it best when he said that their music is very “accessible”, meaning it is appealing even to those who don’t know it.  I certainly fall in that category as last night was the first time I’d heard them. 

As the show went on, we decided to get a few small bites to share. 

We choose the assorted cheese plate, the spring rolls, and fried mozzarella sticks.  I only nibbled on a each since I had my eye on the ultimate prize; flourless dark chocolate cake with cappuccino crunch ice cream.

Wow, this cake was decadent!  It was so moist and instantly melted in your mouth.  The cool cappuccino crunch ice cream was a great compliment to the warm, velvety chocolate cake.  The flavors came together so well!  Needless to say, between the two of us, this lasted less than five minutes 🙂

After we demolished dessert, the group came on!  The show focused mainly on the latest work of the group along with the accompaniment of Cedric Bixler-Zavala, also from The Mars Volta.

 

We had such a good time.  I love going to concerts because it’s nice to be exposed to new music and I LOVE to people watch.  The crowd at a concert is like no else!   Last night was no exception.  Not only was the music enjoyable but the food was delicious and the Highline Ballroom was the perfect venue.  If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend you do.

What was the last concert you went to? 

Banana Bread Remix!

27 Mar

Hi there!  How’s your weekend been?  Mine has been so nice.  Yesterday I got to try on some beautiful wedding dresses for the first time!  I left the salon with two very good options.  I don’t know if either is “the one” but it’s great to have two very promising options and both are so reasonably priced.  All in all, it was a successful shopping trip.

After shopping I met up with Alex at… as a semi-New Yorker, I’m ashamed to admit this… the Olive Garden.  Their breadsticks just can’t be beat!  But while we were there I remembered why we don’t go very often.  It gets so crowded!!!  Ah well, it was a nice meal regardless, I just doubt we’ll be heading back any time soon.

Moving onto a different type of bread entirely.  Banana Bread.  I love banana bread and as soon as I have overly ripe bananas I know exactly what I’m going to do with them.  With that being said, I have a hard time making the same type of banana bread each time.  It’s just so much fun to experiment with new recipes!

Lately I’ve been enjoying coconut a lot so it only seemed natural that I’d incorporate it into this recipe.  And it turned out great.  Even if you’re not a fan of coconut, you’ll enjoy this recipe.  The coconut flavor is not overwhelming but I’d suggest leaving out the coconut flakes.

Coconut Banana Bread
(adapted  from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 overly ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • flax seed “egg” (1 TBSP flax meal + 2.5 TBSP warm water)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp pure cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash bananas until they are wet.
  3. Mix in remaining wet ingredients; pumpkin, applesauce, coconut oil, vanilla, “flax egg”, and sugar.
  4. Add whole wheat flour, coconut flour, protein powder, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt to the wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Once mixed, add in unsweetened coconut flakes.
  5. Line a 9×5 loaf pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Pour the batter into the pan.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with 1 Tbsp of sugar.
  7. Bake the bread for about 45 minutes.  To check that it’s done, insert a knife in the middle of the loaf.  The knife should be clean when removed.  If it isn’t, bake the bread on five minute intervals, until it’s done.

Do you have a go-to banana bread recipe or do you like to improvise?

Rise It Up HIIT Workout

26 Mar

This morning I had such a stellar workout that I had to share.

It involved 35 hot minutes spent with this guy.

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I’m calling it the Rise It Up HIIT Workout.

“Rise It Up” because the incline increases with each repetition.

And HIIT (high intensity interval training) because it’s intense and you’ll have a runners high when you’re done.

I sure did.

You can thank me later.

Five Favorites Friday – 3/25/11

25 Mar

I’m very happy it’s Friday!  This weekend I’m going wedding dress shopping for the very first time.  Needless to say, I’m excited!  I’ve been scouring the internet for ideas.  I found a lot of promising ones but I can’t wait to get into the bridal salon and actually try on a dress.  I might have trouble sleeping tonight because I’m so excited, haha.

Anyway, since today is Friday, I have five great recipes to share with you.  However, before I get to the good stuff I want to share something really fun.  Yesterday Teri, at A Foodie Stays Fit, posted her five favorite iPhone apps.  She’s got a great list so you should check out the post!  My favorite from her list is ShakeItPhoto.  I had a lot of fun playing around with this app today so I’m going to show you some of the pics from my ShakeItPhoto photo shoot.

Yep, I was at work.

Aren’t these new shoes great?  Love. them.

Fun, right?  If you have an iPhone, go download it for yourself!

Moving on… here are my five favorites for Friday, March 25, 2011:

  1. Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites (from Crepes of Wrath)
    Soft pretzels are one of those foods that I love but never really crave… until I smell them!  You know what I’m talking about.  Picture this; you’re innocently walking through the mall (could be any old mall) when you happen to pass the food court.  All of a sudden, you are overwhelmed by the rich, buttery, cinnamon-sugary scent of Auntie Anne’s.  Mmmm.  Yeah, I want that scent wafting through my apartment 🙂
  2. Cinnamon Sugar Pull-apart Bread (from Annie’s Eats)
    Clearly I have cinnamon sugar on the brain this week.  But take one look at Annie’s bread and tell me that you don’t want to reach through the screen to peel-apart a piece for yourself!
  3. Double Chocolate Power Muffins (from All Day I Dream About Food)
    I love that these muffins have two types of chocolate, I love that they have protein powder for staying power, and I love that they’re naturally low in sugar.
  4. Homemade Granola (from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen)
    Granola is a such a great snack!  I prefer to make it at home because I can control how much sugar gets added and what type of nuts or dried fruit gets mixed in.  This recipe sounds like it has a ton of flavor and Christina’s pictures showcase just how crispy and crunchy it is.  I can’t wait to whip up a batch!
  5. Zipper Ruffle Ballet Flats Tutorial (from Craftaholics Anonymous)
    These shoes may not be edible but they may be something you want to feast your eyes on (har har har).  But seriously, I love the zipper detail.  It turns a plain flat into something incredibly cute and fashionable.  And the tutorial makes it look soooo easy.

Tell me one thing you’re excited for this weekend!

Lettuce Talk About Lunch

24 Mar

More often than not I eat salad for lunch.  It’s convenient, nutritious, and delicious!  More importantly, by making salad my go-to lunch option I know I’m doing something good for myself by eating a variety of vitamins and minerals.

With all that said, I want to make it clear that I’m not eating some wimpy salad with only lettuce, carrots and a couple tomatoes.  Oh no.  That certainly isn’t going to last me as I number crunch the afternoon away.  (Note the calculator in the picture above <– nerd alert!)

Here are the basics to building a salad that has staying power:

  • Protein – this is a must!  It doesn’t have to be meat, you can easily add grilled tofu or beans for vegetarian or vegan options.
  • Healthy fats – I usually go with avocado because it adds creaminess which means you can use less dressing and it tastes amazing, so why not?  Other good options are nuts.  They add great crunch!
  • Fiber – without getting into too much detail, I think it’s common knowledge as to what fiber does.  But aside from that, fiber helps you feel full longer.  Most vegetables are a great source of fiber but some of the best are avocado, beans, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

Aside from the above, I love to incorporate lots of color.  By including a variety of colors, I know I’m getting a variety of nutrients, flavors, and textures.

One of my favorite places is Chop’t, the Creative Salad Company.  The selection at Chop’t can’t be beat.  In addition to their classic salads that are always on the menu, they rotate three seasonal salads that incorporate ingredients that are currently in season.  You can also create your own salad if none of their pre-designed salads float your boat.

The Chop’t founders have a great vision for their restaurant.

“We’ve always been focused on it’s freshness and quality and made it our mission that only premium, ultra-fresh ingredients would be served at Chop’t.  Nothing processed.  No trans-fat.  No pre-cut or pre-shredded anything.  Just wholesome, delicious, farm-fresh food that would delight, inspire, and nourish.”

I definitely recommend checking out Chop’t if your ever in midtown and looking for a fresh, quick lunch option!  And, no, I wasn’t paid for my review, I just think it’s a great company that I’m happy to support 🙂

What do you usually eat for lunch?  Do you like salads?

Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna

23 Mar

As much as it pains me to say this, it snowed today.  I know, I know, spring offically started two days ago and it reached nearly 76 degrees last Friday.  Alas, the warm weather was not here to stay.

In a way, this could be a good thing.  It’ll give me the chance to make some warm and cozy meals that I’ve been meaning to make all winter but haven’t quite gotten to.

Speaking of warm and cozy meals, I’ve got a great one for you.  This lasagna is so tasty!  There are so many flavors and textures going on that it’s hard not to be satisfied.  The firm al dente noodles give way to rich tomato sauce, melted cheese, and crispy breaded eggplant.  And finally, the pesto hidden underneath the top layer of warm, gooey cheese brings this dish to another level.  So stay in from the cold and treat yourself to some delicious comfort food… and maybe a glass of wine 😉

Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 of 16oz jar of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend of cheeses.)
  • 6 “no boil” lasagna noodles
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp basil pesto

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice eggplant until 1/2 inch thick pieces.
  3. In a small bowl, beat eggs and set up an assembly line of sorts.  First up, eggs, second Italian bread crumbs, and lastly a plate for your breaded eggplant.
  4. Coat each slice of eggplant with egg and then dip into breadcrumbs.  Place breaded eggplant aside.
  5. Once the eggplant is breaded, cook each slice in a lightly oiled skillet, over medium high heat, until the breadcrumbs begin to brown.  That’s about 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  6. Meanwhile, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish.  Place two lasagna noodles on top of tomato sauce.  Layer more tomato sauce on top of the noodles.
  7. Once your eggplant is cooked, place a layer of eggplant on top of lasagna noodles.  Layer more sauce on top of the eggplant and add a 1/4 cup of cheese.
  8. Repeat layering one more time and end with a layer of noodles on top.  Top the noodles with pesto, remaining tomato sauce, and 1/2 cup of cheese.
  9. Cover the dish with foil and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove foil and cook for another 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and begins to brown.

What’s your favorite comfort food?