Valentine’s Day 2014

Valentine’s Day was full of good food and love for us this year.  My mom gave us a heart-shaped egg cooker, so Friday morning Andrew fried us some heart eggs to go with our banana muffins from earlier in the week:

IMG_4124

I met my good friend Kate for lunch at The Daily (the restaurant where Andrew and I had our awesome date night last week).  Kate and I realized that, for various reasons, we’ve had lunch together on Valentine’s Day for the last three years.  New tradition 🙂  We went to The Daily because I really needed some more of those Brussels sprouts:

IMG_4128

Mmm 🙂

After work I went for a 30-minute run–the first in my new running shoes that I bought last week!  I’m not usually a pink girl, but these are the best shoes for me, and this is the current color.  It’s tough sometimes, but I never pick running shoes based on the look!  It was festive for a Valentine’s Day run, anyway.

IMG_4157  IMG_4147 IMG_4151

Friday was a beautiful day here–I’m pretty sure the temperature was in the upper 50’s when I ran, but not all the snow had melted yet.  It feels a little funny to run in shorts with snow on the ground, but I’m not complaining!

After my run I took a quick shower and was getting ready for our Valentine’s date when Andrew arrived home with these goodies:

IMG_4202 IMG_4203 IMG_4204

Beautiful flowers and all-natural chocolate:  he knows the way to my heart 🙂

We turned to the Frank Sinatra station on Pandora and began prepping dinner.  While cooking, we enjoyed some festive pink cocktails that were quite delicious: cranberry-pomegranate juice, passion fruit rum, and lime (plus tonic water for Andrew).  Amazing.

IMG_4175

 IMG_4182   IMG_4176 

We tag-teamed the cooking and ended up with this very tasty dinner: steak, garlic green beans, and baked sweet potatoes.

IMG_4188

(I only ate about half of that giant steak :)) 

IMG_4190

After taking our time and really enjoying dinner and good conversation, we started watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Netflix.  Neither of us had seen it, and it was so good!  Midway through the movie, once our food had digested some, we brought dessert to the living room:

IMG_4196 IMG_4199

Dark chocolate fondue with strawberries, marshmallows, bananas, and rice crispie treats

We made the fondue in our Crock-pot “Little Dipper”– chocolate chips + almond milk + vanilla.  We plugged it in while we were making dinner, and it was ready to go by the dessert course!

Overall it was a fantastic Valentine’s Day.  Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the day before V-day we did fulfill #4 on this list:

IMG_4104We built a very lovely snow woman in our neighbors’ driveway. 😀

Have a great Monday!

-How did you spend Valentine’s Day?
-What was the highlight of your weekend?

-When buying running shoes, how much does appearance affect your choice?

Advertisements

Snowmageddon Chicken Stew and Other Snow Adventures

We have another snow day here in Richmond!  In anticipation of the snow, which started yesterday around 4 PM, I felt compelled to cook a lot of food.  (If that sounds familiar, yes, I did the same thing a few weeks ago.  It must be a primal survival instinct.)

IMG_4096

For dinner–and what will be dinner for at least two more days–I made a big pot of Snowmageddon Chicken & Rice Stew.  What makes it Snowmageddon stew rather than regular chicken stew?  The chicken is only from drumsticks because when I went to the grocery store in all the storm preparation craziness yesterday, there was no chicken remaining except drumsticks.  I am not exaggerating.  The poultry case was empty except for a few packages of chicken legs.  Chicken legs it is. 🙂

IMG_4053

Snowmageddon Chicken & Rice Stew
10 drumsticks (~3 lb)
8 whole carrots
4 large celery sticks
8 oz green beans
8 oz mushrooms
5 large kale leaves
2 cloves garlic
1.5 c brown rice
2 qts chicken broth
Salt, pepper, thyme, smoked paprika, rosemary, onion powder
Olive oil

1.  Chop all veggies into bite-sized pieces.  2. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and brown; add garlic and saute for about a minute.  3.  Add all remaining ingredients, including whole, raw chicken legs.  Stir.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer.  4. Check chicken in about 15 minutes.  When it’s cooked through, take all drumsticks out of pot.  Remove chicken from each leg (yes, this is very tedious), discarding the bones and putting meat back in the pot.  5.  Continue to let simmer, partially covered, until rice is cooked through (or longer).

IMG_4061

Best if eaten while sitting under blankets on the couch 🙂

The legs definitely give the stew more flavor than we would have gotten using breasts, so that’s a plus!

While the stew was simmering, Andrew and I tag-teamed a batch of banana muffins.  We used a recipe from a gluten-free, dairy-free cookbook we have, and they turned out pretty great:

IMG_4066

We added a cinnamon-brown sugar crumble on top…not the prettiest, but they taste wonderful!

After dinner and dessert, we suited-up and played in the still-falling snow.  We took our sleds and found the best sledding hills in the neighborhood, threw a few snowballs, and give our inner-children free reign for an hour or so. 😀

IMG_4085 IMG_4080

Eating snow + Snyoga

We warmed up and capped the night with two mugs of green chai tea:

IMG_4092

Andrew and I are both home from work today and have one snow adventure planned so far: making an igloo.  🙂  Have a great snow day, everyone!  Stay safe and warm!

-Do you have a snow day today?
-When was the last time you went sledding?
Do you cook way more food than you actually need when it’s about to snow?

Snow Day Cookin’

Greetings on this beautiful, snowy morning!  Is anyone snowed-in, legitimately or otherwise?  Richmond is notorious for shutting down at the first suggestion of flurries.  I was thrilled this morning to see that my office is closed today; sure, we only have about two inches of snow, but I gladly rolled over and fell back asleep!

IMG_3814

Yesterday was my day off, and I don’t know if it was the cold temperatures, anticipation of the snow, or procrastination of the cleaning projects I’d planned to do, but all I wanted to do was cook delicious food!  And cook delicious food, I did. 🙂

First up was a batch of Raspberry Orange Muffins:

 IMG_3822 IMG_3824

I started with this basic muffin recipe from 100 Days of Real Food, but used gluten-free flour rather than whole wheat.  I used a cup of chopped, previously-frozen raspberries and mango-orange juice in place of the regular OJ.  Delicious.  They aren’t super sweet, but they are healthier than your average muffin.  Each one of these guys contains roughly:

-150 calories
-5g fat
-3g protein
-2g fiber
-5.5g sugar

Not bad!

Next up was dinner, and I was feeling ambitious.  For the first time in my life, I cooked a whole chicken.  You culinary pros are probably thinking, Yeah, so?, and my vegetarian friends probably just closed out this window (sorry, guys :)), but this was a big deal!  As someone who regularly reevaluates her stance on eating meat (you can expect a post about that in the near future), this was huge.  Aaand it was delicious.  I mean, seriously… how beautiful is this? :

IMG_3799

I basically used this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  Inside the chicken I put a lemon (quartered) and about four cloves of garlic (crushed).  After looking at a few other recipes I decided to cook it at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400 degrees.  I took the chicken out of the oven after it had been on 400 for an hour just to check it, thinking it would need more time, and the internal temperature was slightly above where it was supposed to be, so I just let it rest!

With the chicken we had roasted beets, carrots, and red potatoes with rosemary

IMG_3788 IMG_3789

When Andrew came home from work, the chicken was in the oven, and I was prepping the veggies.  He peeked in the oven, and was clearly surprised/impressed.  Because we still had about an hour to go until everything would be ready, Andrew decided to go to the gym for a quick workout.  When he walked back in the door, he was holding these:

IMG_3819 IMG_3817

Me:  Flowers?? And wine??  What are these for?

Andrew: You made such a fancy dinner, and I wanted you to know that I appreciate it.

Me: I don’t know if it’s that fancy; I just felt like cooking!

Andrew:YOU COOKED A WHOLE CHICKEN!  That’s FANCY!

Love that guy. 🙂

So we ate our fancy chicken and roasted vegetables, and we drank our fancy wine, and we watched our fancy show, The Biggest Loser.  (Okay, I may be overreaching with my use of “fancy” ;-)).

IMG_3805

Andrew’s taste-test of the chicken went something like this:  “That’s good.  Whoa.  That’s like really good.”  I must say, I was not at all disappointed by how it turned out either!

Now that we have enough food to last us a few days, I’m afraid I actually have to use this snow day to do some house-cleaning…after I go to the gym, perhaps. 🙂

-Any snow outside your window today?
Have you ever cooked a whole chicken?

Weekend Highlights

We had a very full weekend here, and while I know this post is a little late, I wanted to write about some of the highlights.

Thursday Night–(I know, not technically the weekend… but close enough.)  Andrew’s church league basketball team progressed to the championships last week, and the final game was Thursday night.  The guys played well…and won!

bball champs

Our good friend Kevin, who lives in Dallas, was in town for a meeting that day, and he was able to make it to the game and cheer on the guys.  We enjoyed visiting with him for a while after the game!

Friday–My alma mater, James Madison University, played their first and only game in the NCAA tournament.   They got their butts whooped, as expected, but I was still excited that they made it to the tournament.  There was a small part of me that held onto hope that maybe, just maybe, they’d be the first #16 seed to beat a #1 seed 😉

JMU

I was really excited, okay?

On Friday night we took a youth group trip to Jumpology–a new indoor trampoline gym in town.  It.  Was.  Awesome.

jump4 jump5 jump jump2

The room was essentially wall-to-wall trampolines, plus areas for basketball, dodgeball, and a foam pit.  It was quite a workout!

Saturday– Yesterday I recapped the 5k I ran with my brother; you can check it out here. The short version:  we kicked butt.

Rebel Run

In the afternoon, our friend Andrew came over to watch the VCU basketball game.  Unfortunately, no havoc was wreaked.

Later in the afternoon I helped with a youth group service project.  Once a month we help wheelchair-bound adults with disabilities (residents of the Virginia Home) enjoy an afternoon of bowling.

bowling2bowling

Everyone–youth and bowlers–had a great time!  I love to see how excited they are, not only when they do well, but simply to be there bowling.

When I arrived home, I found that Andrew had been hard at work in the yard and made some awesome progress on the garden:

DSCN7578 DSCN7575

Doesn’t it look great??  We cannot wait to start planting.

Saturday night our friends Amanda and Diron came over to watch some more basketball.  With JMU out of the tournament and VT not in the tournament to begin with, we were not particularly interested in any one game other than for the sake of our brackets, but we had a great time hanging out!  Amanda and I have been friends since college, and for a long time would say, “We need to go on a double date!”  When the four of us finally hung out a couple of months ago, we realized just how similar we are, and now we get together often.  We laugh a lot, although I think it often centers on how neurotic Amanda and I are 😉  Regardless, we are very thankful for these “new” friends in our lives!

When Amanda and Diron left, we continued watching TV, and I fell asleep on the couch, as often happens (I think I inherited this ability from my grandmother.)  It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or how interested I am in what’s on TV–the couch + the sound of the television are my personal recipe for sleep.  Andrew finally turned off the TV, and the instant the sound was gone, I sat up straight, opened my eyes wide, and said, “We should go to sleep!”  Andrew started laughing and said, “Oh you think we should?  You think we should go to sleep now?”  😀

Sunday– We had a pretty typical spring Sunday until the evening when…it snowed?

DSCN7583 DSCN7584

It started sticking to the ground in the middle of youth group, so I decided to send everyone home early just to be safe.   I know everyone is saying this, but I am very ready for spring to actually be spring.  Snow is great–in January–but I am so ready for warmer weather.

Even so, a blanket of white was not a bad way to end a great weekend!

 

Shenanigans in the Shnow

Last night something wonderful happened that reduced us to 12-year-old versions of ourselves: snow.  What is it about snow that makes us so happy?  I am no less excited at the prospect of the fluffy white stuff at age 26 than I was in elementary school, waking up in the middle of the night when snow was in the forecast, and peeking through the blinds to see if maybe, just maybe, school would be canceled.

DSCN7165

This particular snow was even more thrilling because it brought with it thunder snow. Thunder snow has been on Andrew’s bucket list of “cool types of weather to experience,” (really, how long is that list? I think it ends with thunder snow, as I feel confident he doesn’t want to witness a tornado…) and when we heard it last night, he was GIDDY.  Jumping up and down. Spinning me in circles.  Fist pumping.  “YES!! THUNDER SNOW!! YESS!!”  I couldn’t help feeling so happy for the guy.

DSCN7169This just about captures it.

Giving a nod to our 12-year-old selves, we played outside… way past our bedtime.  We had a snow fight.  We threw snowballs on the roof and tried to make them roll back down.  We even made a snowman.  In our awesome neighbors’ driveway…

DSCN7170Hi!  Sorry you live next to two kids with no parental supervision… 😉

When we woke up this morning, the melting process had already begun, but everything still looked beautiful.

DSCN7183   DSCN7186 DSCN7178   DSCN7195

DSCN7180Our humble abode.  In desperate need of a wreath and a pair of hedge clippers.

(Please note the roof over the garage- you can see the impact of last night’s snowball game :))

Until next time, snow!