New Beginnings

September 30, 2012

There are several things that are new for me this year…

I graduated college.

I moved into a duplex with my wonderful man, Tyler.

I started my career.

So many wonderful responsibilities…and yet there are days that I find myself unhappy with where I am.  I finally narrowed it down to my health.  I have always tried to stay healthy.  I belong to a great gym and have taken on Title Boxing.  However, in the midst of all the wonderful new beginnings, I lost sight of the importance of my personal health.  I know that heart disease and diabetes are hereditary and I’ve always tried to keep on top of my own health because of it.  But lately, I’ve slipped away from healthy eating and regular exercise.

I started to get back into a routine of exercise with some of my coworkers through a class provided through my employer.  This happens to work very well for me because I can head to the class across the street right after work instead of driving 40 minutes to get home, change, then head to the gym (on top of cooking dinner and showering in the evening).  But this didn’t seem to be enough to help me.  I still found myself fitting uncomfortably in my clothes and not in the position to purchase a new (comfortable) wardrobe.  I knew I needed to start eating better, but what I really needed was a support system.

After contacting my good friend, Amber (http://almostveganchef.com/), she informed me that we could help each other follow Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “nutritarian” eating plan.  It was not long after that when I purchased his book and started reading it.

A week and a half later, I’m almost finished with the book and ready to start eating to live.  I have been astounded by what I have learned about what food contains and how many foods can lead to cancer.  I often found myself worrying more about those I love and wishing I could encourage them to read the book as well.  I am hoping that not only will I be uplifted by this wonderful new way of life, but that those whom I love will see the effects and want to start eating to live as well.

Tortellini Primavera

May 2, 2011

Tortellini Primavera is one of Tyler’s favorite meals that I make.  I must share it with you.  I found it in Eating Well magazine, but I modified it.  When I first made it, I modified it because I did not have all the ingredients.  Tyler and I like it so much, so this is how I always make it now!

Ingredients:

14-oz. can vegetable broth

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3+ cloves garlic, minced

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 Tbsp oregano

1/8 tsp salt

16-oz. bag frozen mixed veggies

16-0z. package frozen cheese tortellini

Boil a large pot of water.  Whisk broth and flour in a small bowl.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring until just beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the broth mixture to the pan, bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in cheese, oregano and salt.  Add the veggies and tortellini to the boiling water.  Return the water to a simmer and cook until the veggies and tortellini are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain.  Add to the pan with the sauce and stir to coat.

My mouth is watering just looking at this picture!  If you like, you can top your tortellini with some shredded mozzarella cheese.

This meal was made with frozen peas, since I was out of frozen mixed veggies.  I hope you try it!  It’s to die for!

So I did not get to share with you all of the delicious food we had at the Superbowl party!

This is the table of deliciousness…

And a close up of what we had…  😀

We had chips and a cheese dip with Rotelle (made by my lovely sister).  It was so amazing.  I had about 3 helpings of “nachos.”

We also had pita chips with leftover hummus, which you saw in an earlier post.

My mother brought leftover Dove candy she had.

My sister laid out some thin mints (who doesn’t love girl scout cookies?!)…

…and she found green and yellow Sixlets!!

We had a joint effort of making pigs in a blanket (my sister, her husband and I)…

…and we ran out of croissants, so we used layers of her layered rolls to finish up our pigs in a blanket.

The finished product went too quickly…(Did I mention that some of the “little piggies” had cheese in them?  It was always a surprise!)

I made a couple of delicious desserts.  The first are chewy peanut bars:  (They were leftovers – see “Snowed-in!” post for recipe.)

I also made delicious Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cupcakes:  (Don’t worry!  I’ll post the recipe soon!)

These cupcakes were quite the hit!

My sister and I put up decorations, too.

(A special thanks to my sister for providing the TV and home for our party.)

My love came, wearing his new hat that he knitted…doesn’t he look like a Pittsburgh fan who’s about to be beaten up?  😉
After the very enjoyable festivities of the game, we gave a cheers to our winning team!!

Yup, we had a cheers with champagne!!  Above you see those who were rooting for the Packers.  Below includes other friends, plus the one Steelers fan…clearly he knew better that to wear Steelers attire.  😉

GO PACK GO!!

Hello, all!!  I know I’ve been out of the blogging world for a couple months.  School takes me by the hand and runs.  Before I cue you back in on all the delicious treats you have missed out on, I want to wish everyone a Happy St. Patty’s Day!

My middle school is on Spring Break this week, so I was actually able to attend the parade in downtown Kansas City, Missouri!  I can’t even begin to explain how excited I was…

My friends from school, Hallie and Katie, and I were on a mission for food and green beer!

We eventually found some vendors that were selling BBQ and it was amazing!!

I had a pulled pork sandwich with baked beans.  I’m pretty sure the pork had BBQ sauce on it  (I do not like BBQ sauce.), but I still really enjoyed it!

And look what we found…

GREEN BEER!  We paid a bit to get it, since there was a cover to enter the bars, but it was a great experience.  I have to take advantage and enjoy these sort of things while I’m still young enough.  🙂

Katie, Hallie, and I enjoyed our green beer before we had to go on with our day.

It was a great year for St. Patty’s Day!  I hope you all had a fun and safe day!

Stay tuned for recipes…

I had an amazing couple of days at the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference at Tan-tar-a Resort in Osage Beach.  This was my third year attending the conference and I always have a blast.  It is a great opportunity to meet wonderful people in your field and to learn and share ideas and thoughts.  I stayed in a huge room with three wonderful friends of mine; Katie, Beth, and Hallie.  As soon as we arrived late Thursday morning, we were going non-stop until we left Saturday morning.  There were so many wonderful sessions to attend, as well as concerts.  If I had to pick just one session to be my favorite, I would have to say it was Christy Elsner’s reading session “Eat Your Veggies!:  Repertoire and Rehearsing to feed the brain and nourish the heart!”  Christy Elsner is the director of the Allegro Community Children’s Choir in Olathe, Kansas.  I had seen her present once before at school.  She is just an amazing women with great spirit!  I learned some great warm-up activities from her and received free choral music.  She is well-organized and gave me some great ideas on how to go about organizing my own choral library.

I bet you are waiting for me to get on about food.  🙂  We went to two wonderful restaurants; Domenico’s Italian Restaurant, and El Jimador Mexican Restaurant.  The were both spectacular!

On Thursday evening, Jessica, Hallie, Katie, Beth and I went to Domenico’s.  There was a wait, of course, because of all the MMEA attendees.  😉  When we were finally seated, we were served some amazing dinner rolls.  They went pretty fast!  And let me tell you how overwhelming the menu was!  I was having a very difficult time deciding what to eat.  I finally decided on the “Pasta and Broccoli in a White Cream Sauce with a touch of garlic.”  Doesn’t that just make your mouth water?!

The sauce was so creamy, it melted in my mouth.  And the broccoli was so fresh and firm.  The slight hint of garlic topped off each bite.

On Friday night, we got a group of 11 people from UMKC to go to dinner at El Jimador.

It was very busy as well, but they were able to seat us all together!  After browsing the menu, I decided on the chicken taco salad (minus the tomatoes, sour cream, and guacamole, of course).  It was one of the best taco salads I had ever had.  It was chicken on top of a cheese sauce with green peppers, topped with shredded lettuce and mozzarella cheese all encompassed in a large hard taco shell.  Mmmmm!!!

I ate almost the entire thing!  It was gone shortly after this picture was taken.  😉

If you are ever in Osage Beach, I highly recommend both of these restaurants.  I look forward to going to them again next year!

As for the conference, I acquired so many great ideas as well as material!

Above are the materials I received just from Christy Elsner’s seminar!  There are 10 choral pieces there!  I’m so excited to start my library!

Above are four more pieces I received from another seminar…

And below are choral pieces (plus a solo book) that I purchased.  Minus the piece “Awake,” which I received at yet another session run by Timothy Seelig (He is the author of a book I read for my Choral and Vocal Techniques class last semester, titled The Perfect Blend.)!

And below you will see the programs for the wonderful concerts I was able to attend.

I had a great time at the MMEA Conference and it was time well spent!

To polish off the weekend, I had a “Girl’s Night Out” with some great school friends of mine.  I tried a drink I had never had before that I absolutely loved.  It was named “Stinger” at McCoy’s Bar and Grill.

It was composed of Creme de menthe and Brandy.  The flavor was refreshingly minty with a sweet kick.  It was a great way to end the wonderful week.

That’s right!  My awesome Packers are going to the Superbowl!

I’m so excited!  The game last night was close, but we did it!  We will be playing the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, February 5th.  It’s going to be an interesting, yet good game.  Tyler’s second favorite team is the Pittsburgh Steelers (behind the Denver Broncos), so we will be “biting teeth” together.  My sister has even offered to have a Superbowl party at her house!  Do you sense new recipes in your future…?  Because you should!

The win last night made for a happy Monday, however, I’ve fallen out of my routine just a bit.  I decided to sleep in last Friday instead of hitting the gym and now I’m just ALL SORTS of out-of-wack!

So even though I did not get to the gym this morning, I packed myself a healthy, tasteful lunch and dinner.  Mondays are actually going to be my long days – usually at the gym by 5:30am; Conducting class from 10am-11am, followed by a break until 1pm, when I meet with my accompanist for 30 minutes; a 30 minute break before choir from 2pm-3:30pm; an hour break for dinner before my last class of the day, Education of the Exceptional Child from 4:30pm-7:15pm.

Well…everything except for the cat went into my backpack.  Although, she wishes she did!

This is what really goes into my backpack.

It’s a bit of a “back-breaker” day, but I manage.  🙂

Today I put together my usual weekday lunch, yogurt and a small baggie of smoked turkey.

But for dinner, I wanted something new.  I prepared a delightful salad for dinner.  I tore up some fresh, cleaned spinach and put it in a Tupperware container.  I then put about 6 spoonfuls of drained, rinsed black beans on top, along with about 4 spoonfuls of strained canned corn (I know, I know…frozen veggies are always better, but time was not on my side this morning).

I topped the beans and corn with 3 shakes of garlic salt, 3 shakes of onion powder, and 4 shakes of black pepper.  I put one more layer or spinach leaves on top…

…put the lid on the container, and gave it a shake!

YUM!  It was hard not to eat it for lunch instead of dinner.

This week will be interesting as I will be heading out to Tan-tar-a on Thursday morning for the Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) Convention.  I will keep you posted on delicious treats I plan to take with me as well as post pictures from Tan-tar-a!