Spring Weekend in Photos

Spring has frickin’ sprung, people!

In true Sacramento fashion, we went from 2 straight weeks of rain and chilly winter-like weather…to pretty much SUMMER overnight.

You won’t hear (m)any complaints from me, because I’m a sun-lover through and through. I had a nice mix of relaxation and exertion this weekend, and lots of it was spent outside. Perfection!

On Friday evening, I decided to grab a glass of wine (thus ending my 5-day alcohol “cleanse” lol) with colleagues at a wine bar right by our office. I can’t think of a more perfect way to cap off a tiring week: with a nice glass of Sangiovese and hilarious conversation!

spring1

I headed home soon after to have dinner and wind down from the week. It was still breezy and a little chilly at this point, so I spent the evening in fuzzy slippers doing things aroudn the house.. My brother FaceTimed me later on in the evening and I played him a few ditties on my keyboard. “Hold on Andrew, don’t hang up yet! I have the sheet music to Let it Go too!!!”  — his annoyed face says it all 😛

spring2

After a few weeks of frequenting the giant Sunday Farmers Market, I revisited my favorite (smaller, more close by) Midtown Farmers Market on Saturday morning. I bought some gorgeous rainbow chard, carrots, and beets, and then splurged on a mason jar of kombucha. The kombucha stand that originally got me hooked on the delicious rotten tea drink was selling re-purposed mason jars from Discarded Designs…I couldn’t resist.

spring3

I hurried home and stashed the ‘buch in the fridge for later, because I had a long run planned! I very quickly regretted having waited until 11:30am to start my 8.5 mile run, because it was H-O-T. It only reached about 70 degrees on Saturday, but I was feeling it by the end. Check out the before and (sweaty) after! It was a beautiful day on the river as you can see, so I can’t really complain too much!

spring4

I lounged around for the rest of the day. I painted my nails and needed something to “watch” AKA listen to in the background, so I threw on RENT. Classic! After a quick grocery trip, I caught a Lyft over to my friend Fresh’s house where we played games and celebrated Yvette’s birthday a few days early! We played King’s Cup, Mad Gab, and Taboo…such good times!

spring5

To cancel out all the lounging I did on Saturday (minus the 8.5 mile run 😛 ) I had a seriously active day on Sunday. I corralled a few friends together to join up with other XOSO players and play Ultimate Frisbee for the cameras- we were on Good Day Sacramento! You can check out video #1 and video #2 online.

As soon as we finished, I saw a text from Chris saying he saw me on TV dropping the frisbee. D’OH! Of course of all the moments they could have captured…

Next up, we went to Pour House for brunch. No mimosas for me (shocker, I know) but I did taste Stone Brewing’s EnjoyBy 4/20 IPA. They come out with a new “Enjoy By” every few months and I’ve loved all the ones I’ve tasted!

Next on the schedule was another Ultimate Frisbee session with my team. CJ, Matt and I were pooped from playing earlier, so we were a pretty sad sight scrimmaging against Mikhail, Landai and Chris. Plus the temps had risen to almost 80 degrees by the afternoon!

photo (2)

We cooled off afterward on the patio at Beach Hut Deli while I killed some time before my dodgeball game.

We won our game 7-2 (the usual!) and I was POOPED by the end of it. My Fitbit said I only logged 12,000 steps, which seems low… Regardless, it was an action-packed day! And the best part was…no sunburns! Woo hoo! #palepersonproblems

Have a fantastic week!

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Team sports- love em or hate em? What’s your favorite?

Mother’s Day Weekend in Photos

Happy Monday! Hope you all enjoyed your weekend, and to all you mothers out there, I hope you had a special Mother’s Day yesterday. We kept it pretty low key for my mom this year, but I hope she knows how loved and appreciated she is!

My goal for this week is to get back on track with my workouts. I was having tummy issues last week so I went easy on the workouts {A quick jog home and dodgeball on Thursday, an easy elliptical workout on Friday, kickball on Sunday}. I want to be in fighting shape for Blend next weekend…there are a couple of Boot Camps and a hike planned and I anticipate that I’ll probably get knocked out quickly by the elevation in Park City!

Because of the aforementioned stomachache, the doc has ordered me to eliminate a few things from my diet for a few weeks: spicy food, acidic food {tear! my beloved lemons!}, dairy, caffeine and alcohol…I have mostly been good, but as you’ll see in the photos below, I definitely needed some liquid courage to get me through Saturday night, and then I had a few indulgences on Sunday… 🙂 Definitely worth the belly ache!

20130513-100514.jpg

Weirdest workday ever on Friday: neither of my bosses were in, and my big task for the day was to pack up our 30lb postage machine and send it down to our Santa Barbara office. Half a roll of bubble wrap later, I got it 🙂 {oh, the small victories of an administrative assistant!} To celebrate the weekend, I made a really random, but delicious! dinner: Coconut quinoa, roasted brussels sprouts & broccoli, Italian sausage, and T-Man brought some “Gorgonzola gems”, which are basically glorified Jalapeno Poppers. Yum.

20130513-100526.jpg

We then proceeded to our friend Danny’s housewarming pub crawl, which was themed Bros vs Hipsters. Landai & I were definitely hipster’ed out; Cedric’s shirt was a bit of an anomaly…memes are pretty hipster, but the outfit was pretty broish; and T-Man had to get in on the fun by stealing my {lens-free} glasses for a bit 🙂

20130513-100532.jpg

On Saturday night, I did solo karaoke for the first time ever at Danielle’s birthday party. After submitting my 2 song requests, I was surprisingly really nervous, even despite the fact that I am always singing. If I know the words to a song that is playing, you bet your ass I’ll be singing! After the first singers took their turns and everyone was singing along, I was much more at ease!

Top photo: Richard and I singing “A Whole New World”.. except that the roles were reversed and he sang Jasmine’s part 😉 Left: Danielle the birthday girl! Right: my song selection {kind of a lame song to choose cause it is slow and no one knows it, but I still rocked it!} and Reggie being serenaded by our whole group to “My Heart Will Go On. Don’t you see all the hands emotionally thrusting towards him?

20130513-100544.jpg

Sunday was rough. It was forecast to be 94 degrees around the time my kickball game was scheduled. So I hacked off the sleeves of my shirt, packed up my water bottle in a bag of ice {that I later poured over my head, haha}, and slathered on the sunscreen. I only missed one spot on the back of my neck! Pale person victory.

20130513-100618.jpg

While I was playing kickball, my family was off seeing the Jackie Robinson movie as part 1 of Mother’s Day festivities. Part 2 was my contribution: homemade pizza! I made the dough in the morning and told my mom to pick all her favorite toppings. She chose bacon, mushrooms, onions, and olives. I used some of her homemade tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella, and it turned out awesome! My brother bought the ice cream cake. We all clearly loved it.

{side note: that mother’s day card is the most perfect card of all cards that I could have given my mom. Fits our relationship to a T!}

20130513-100627.jpg

I also made a side salad using a few of my dad’s fresh garden veggies! He has lots of beets and chard at the moment, so they both made an appearance. But now I’m pretty sure my insides are dyed/stained red. It’s okay…all in the name of healthy eating right? Can’t wait to steal corn, tomatoes, and bell peppers from him this summer.

Have you ever done karaoke? What is your go-to song?

What did you do for Mother’s Day?

Lemony Brown Rice with Spring Veggies

Seems like every season, I make some kind of rice pilaf (or quinoa, couscous, etc) with the season’s veggies. It started in the SUMMER which included zucchini, bell pepper and tomatoes.. then continued into an AUTUMN version which featured an amazing mix of walnuts, dried cranberries, caramelized onions, and rosemary. Ohhh man both were so good.

I think, however, I may have topped it.

DSC_0501title

I am lemon-obsessed, as you all know. Braided Lemon Bread, Skinny Lemon Poppyseed Muffins…it is definitely lemon season around here. Plussssss, spring produce is finally here! Color me excited. I went to my first seasonal Farmers Market last week and zeroed in on two things: peas and asparagus. It’s green central up in my fridge, folks.

So what better vehicle is there to transport those fresh, green veggies into my mouth than my favorite brown rice?

DSC_0488

Of course if I were really to be following tradition here, I’d be using Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend. I really wanted to make this into a quinoa salad, but thought I didn’t have any… Of course right after I finished cooking this dish, I found a box of quinoa that I bought on Saturday and completely forgot about in a mostly-empty grocery bag in my living room. D’oh. Regardless, I really do like TJ’s Brown Jasmine Rice. I buy a 3 pound bag every six months or so and make it all the time.

The other players:

DSC_0489

Farmer’s Market asparagus is really funny lookin’. Duly noted.

DSC_0490

DSC_0492

Green!

This dish gets its lemony kick from a vinaigrette I added at the end. A little bit of honey balances out the zingy lemon, and it’s so easy to make; all you need to do is add ingredients to a jar and give it a shake!

DSC_0493

This is my one snobbish foodie thing – I don’t use any store-bought dressings or marinades. If you have oil, vinegar, and mustard/honey in your kitchen, you will always have the makings of a delicious and cheap homemade dressing.

Mix mix mix.

DSC_0495
DSC_0496
DSC_0498LEMON!

I split this batch into two tupperwares for lunch. It is about 300 calories, lots of fiber, and nearly 10 grams of protein thanks to the peas (that apparently have lots of it!).

DSC_0503I didn’t get a chance to food prep this weekend (being that I was too busy drinking tequila and playing kickball and whatnot), but luckily (unluckily?) I was feeling ill Monday and Tuesday and didn’t have an appetite for much beyond avocado toast or almond butter + toast. I made this on Tuesday night hoping I’d regain my appetite in time to eat it for lunch on Wednesday and Thursday……wish granted!

Except that my stomachache promptly got worse after eating it, so I went to the doctor and the reason my stomach was acting up was because of acid indigestion-related issues. So yesterday morning I got a strict “no caffeine-alcohol-dairy-spicy-or-acidic-foods” order from the doc. Which means one of these is still sitting in my fridge at work, waiting to be eaten.

Any takers?

Lemony Brown Rice with Spring Veggies
serves 2, or 3-4 as a side dish

1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 cup chicken broth, veggie broth, or water (for cooking rice)
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
~10 asparagus spears (this was about 1/2 my bunch)
1/2 medium zucchini, about 1 cup when sliced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp oil, or as needed for sauteing

FOR DRESSING
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp oil (I used sunflower oil)
pinch of dried basil
pinch of dried thyme

Prepare brown rice according to package instructions using your choice of broth or water.

While rice is cooking, prepare veggies. Dice the onions and mince the garlic. Snap or cut off the woody ends of the asparagus then cut each spear into 3-4 bite sized pieces, shuck the peas (if using fresh ones still in the pod), and slice the zucchini into bite-sized slices.

Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Next, add asparagus, stirring to coat. Let asparagus cook for about 4 minutes. Once the asparagus starts to get tender, add zucchini slices and garlic, stirring again to combine. Cook for another couple of minutes. Add cooked rice and peas all at once, mixing everything thoroughly.

While waiting for the veggies to cook, combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

After peas and rice are added, let cook until everything is heated through and then add dressing, stirring well. Turn heat down to low and let everything simmer until ready to serve, being sure to not let the veggies overcook.

Would be great served with fresh crusty bread, or with chicken!

.

What is your favorite season for produce?

.

Chicken with Spicy Peanut Sauce

So I think I’ve said this a few times before, but spring has definitely sprung in Northern California. Aside from a couple of rainy days here and there, and some crazy wind, I think spring is here to stay. It’s forecast to reach 85 degrees today! Anyway, the moral of all of this weather talk is that I’d like to thank the lawd for springtime and Daylight Savings because by the time I finished making this dinner last night, it was still light enough to get some semi-naturally lit pictures.

I wasn’t actually planning on dinner last night being a recipe I shared with the blogosphere. I was just jazzed that I’d had the foresight to put a chicken breast in the fridge the night before to defrost. {MAJOR win in my book}

Luckily, I was keeping track of the ingredients as I added them, since I record most of my recipes in my calorie counting app so I have the nutritional stats!

So I got out the chicken breast and my new trusty iPad, and pulled up the Pinterest app. I saw a recipe for spicy peanut sauce that I pinned 50 weeks ago. 50! It pops into my head from time to time, but for most of the past year I was trying to keep a low fat-ish diet. Not anymore! Now that I’m working out 3+ days per week, and trying to maintain my weight {not lose}, I think I can splurge on a little peanut butter here and there 😉

DSC_0456

I must have had faith in these trusty ingredients, ’cause I at least thought to take a picture of them! {not pictured are lime juice and sesame oil}

So I started to make the sauce, and had the chicken marinating…then, I started adding my own ingredients and subbing a couple of things here and there. Last time I made peanut sauce “with a few substitutions”, I went too heavy handed on the soy sauce and it basically tasted like salt. So I started eying the pizza my roommate and her boyfriend were making, and thinking to myself, “Welllll, if this doesn’t turn out, maybe I can at least steal a slice of their pizza…..”

DSC_0458

The dish turned out juuuust fine. MORE than fine, even. So fine, that I ran to get my camera after one bite to take pictures and texted my boyfriend, “HOLY S#@&!!” {and kind of freaked him out for a minute when I was too busy chowing down to explain my random outburst}.

DSC_0459

Suffice it to say, it was GOOD. And quick! This is a true 30-minute meal, depending on how long your rice takes to cook. The sauce is out of this world – salty from the soy sauce, spicy from just a hint {ok, a lot} of sriracha, and creamy from the peanut butter. Now how bad can that be?

DSC_0460

Chicken with Spicy Peanut Sauce
serves one…but is easily doubled, tripled or quadrupled 😉
sauce based on Naturally Ella’s Spicy Peanut Sauce with Rice Noodles & Veggies

For Sauce
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar (or just do 1 full tablespoon of soy sauce)
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp garlic, minced (or 1 clove)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup warm water

For Chicken + Marinade
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp lime juice
oil, for sauteing

Optional (but you should totally add these things)
1/4-1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 bunch asparagus
1 tsp sriracha, chile garlic sauce, or sambal oelek

Begin by cutting your chicken into bite sized pieces, and combine the chicken and marinade ingredients in a bowl or plastic bag. Mix until everything’s incorporated and all the chicken pieces are coated in marinade. Set aside. This would also be a good time to get your pot of rice simmering on the stove or in your rice cooker.

While that’s happenin’, combine all the ingredients for your sauce, mixing after each addition. Give it a taste! It should be perfect, but if it needs a lil somethin somethin, go ahead and add whatever your little heart desires. If you want it to be spicy, you can add the sriracha here (I waited until it was all bubblin away on the stove). It may seem really liquidy at this point, but it will thicken when it cooks. Prep whatever veggies you’re using…I used asparagus, so I trimmed the tough edges and cut the spears into 3rds/4ths.

Heat ~1 tsp of oil on a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces, draining them of their marinade. If the veggies you’re using take a longer time to cook (like asparagus) add them in at the same time. If not…just wait a few minutes before adding them. No biggie. Cook chicken for about 3 minutes on each side, then add your sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Let it simmer away until it has thickened to your desired consistency, about 5-7 minutes.

Spoon chicken, veggies, and sauce over rice and enjoy!

Notes: This recipe makes aboout twice as much as is on that plate. Other good veggies to use would be broccoli/cauliflower, a frozen stir fry mix, or other in-season veggies right now like peas or string beans.