Learning As I Go

Well heyyyyy there, strangers. Long time no chat!

As you may or may not have noticed, I stepped away a bit from the computer this weekend. Granted, I was still on it but the websites I was on consisted mainly of Babies ‘R’ Us, Target, Amazon, and Etsy. Ahh yes…trying to finish up baby registries and find some cute invitations for baby shower. Thankfully, I was pretty successful in both areas – I found invitations I love AND am about 95% done with completing our registries. Whew, what a task!

But anyways, yes. I decided to let the blog be and instead focused on some other things that needed to be taken care of. And honestly, I have a feeling most weekends will wind up being pretty similar. I don’t know what it is – maybe it was pregnancy that started it, maybe not – but I feel like I’m in the midst of some new perspectives on a lot of things in life. It’s an interesting process, and one that I’m learning a lot about as I go.

I know I’ve mentioned something similar to this before, in terms of my views on food and whatnot, but I really do feel like I just have so much to share with you guys. Life has been so busy these days (mostly in a good way), and I just haven’t had the chance to really sit down and pour my thoughts out like I used to. And you know, I’m excited to do it…not only to share with all of you, but also because I really just want to put it all together for myself. I promise…one of these days I’m going to get to it!

So as for the weekend? Well, it was great. A low-key Friday evening, a productive Saturday at home followed by dinner out with friends, and a VERY busy and productive Sunday. We are making a ton of progress on the nursery and I am just thrilled at how it’s turning out. We also had the rest of our furniture come in, so now it’s just a matter of finishing up the walls, some trim work, and finalizing some bedding. Eeeeek!

As far as food goes? Oh there was plenty of good stuff to be had. I didn’t bother snapping photos of everything, but there were a few highlights…

Sunday morning pancakes, courtesy of my wonderful husband.

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He made our favorite pancake recipe but also mixed some cinnamon chips into a few of them. SUCH a great idea.

Yesterday I also did a little baking, in the form of my Neapolitan cupcakes with ice cream frosting. The guys at Jay’s work have been bugging asking for cupcakes for weeks now, so since I had some time this weekend I figured I’d make them a little something special.

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They are crazy about cupcakes over there, I’ll tell ya!

In the middle of making cupcakes yesterday, I realized I had a couple of bananas that needed to be used, so I whipped up a batch of Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread…only with cinnamon chips instead.

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Apparently we were on a cinnamon chip kick this weekend, eh? ;)

For dinner, we had thawed out a whole wheat pizza dough from the freezer but weren’t quite sure what to do with it. Eventually, we decided on garbage bread.

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I made two mini loaves – one with garlic aioli, slices of deli ham, and cheese, and the other with pizza sauce, sliced chicken sausage, and mozzarella cheese.

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Both were good, but I think the chicken sausage one was my favorite.

So with all of the carbs and goodies that were enjoyed over the weekend, I figured I should probably make an attempt at adding some veggies in today…so I made myself a nice big salad for lunch.

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This is actually a salad that I had on Friday, but today’s salad looks just like it – lots of veggies, avocado, raspberry walnut dressing, and TJ’s roast turkey.

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YUM.

So how was everyone else’s weekend? Do anything fun and/or exciting?

And on a totally different note, how the heck are we already halfway through April? Seriously?!?!

A Sweet and Salty Salad You Must Try

Well, I went and got my camera back from my parents’ house this morning, so even though it’s old news, here’s a few pics from the day.

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Plenty of Jets fan gear all around, as if you didn’t already notice. Winking smile

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My mom put out a great spread of food…I contributed the beer bread you see up there in the corner, but she plenty of cheese and crackers, her taco dip, and cookie dough dip to snack on.

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I had a few nibbles from the snack table (mostly the beer bread), but I actually challenged myself to try and hold off on the cookie dough dip until the fourth quarter of the game. Surprisingly enough, I made it to the fourth quarter…but then I went cookie dough dip crazy and probably ate half the bowl.

Okayyy, slight exaggeration. But I had a lot. I promise.

Halfway through the game, I put together a small plate of some of the other hot appetizers – mom’s special meatballs and a couple slices of garbage bread.

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Also on the menu yesterday were some “Green Goblins.”

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My parents got this shooter recipe when they were in Jamaica earlier this year and it’s pretty good. Not sure exactly what’s in it, but I think I heard pineapple juice, orange juice, blue curacao, and vodka? But who cares…it tastes good. Winking smile

*****

Lunch

I had to take care of the grocery shopping late this morning too, and out of nowhere while walking down one of the aisles I got a craving for a very specific sort of salad. I was in the cereal aisle too, so honestly, I have no idea where this craving came from? But as soon as I got home, my little sweet and salty creation was made…and devoured.

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  • fresh spinach
  • chopped apple
  • dried cranberries
  • green grapes
  • warm turkey bacon
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • ~3 pecan halves, crumbled
  • raspberry walnut vinaigrette

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Oh. My. Goshhhhhhhh. The sweet and salty combo in this salad was insane. There’s really just no other way to describe it. I want another one, like, right now.

You just gotta love when a craving comes together and totally hits the spot, right?

Question for the Afternoon:

Fill in the blank: The last major food craving I had was ____________________ and it tasted ____________________.

Firing Up the Wii

Awesome stuff has been happening around here today.

Like this Cherry Almond Smoothie Bowl I had for lunch.

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Topped with plenty of Kashi Go Lean + Love Grown Foods granola.

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Then there this evening’s dinner…

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It sort of looks like pizzas, right? BUT…no pizzas today. Winking smile

Mine: mozz cheese, red peppers, onions, corn off the cob, zucchini, grilled chicken, feta, and spices.

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His: lots of mozz cheese, red peppers, onions, chicken, and spices.

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Once the doughs were covered, they got a nice ‘ol roll, a couple slits in the top…

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And voila…Garbage Bread!

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I ended up buying a thing of whole wheat pizza dough at the store yesterday, figuring that we’d have a pizza on the grill at some point this week. But tonight, we both ended up being in the mood for some garbage breads.

It had been WAY too long since I last had a good garbage bread.

I ended up cutting my bread in half, sliced it up, and served it along with some heated up marinara sauce.

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I love the end pieces for all of their doughy goodness…but I love the middle pieces for all the delicious innards.

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Two of each = one yummy plate!

After dinner, Jay and I decided to fire up our Wii. I honestly cannot even tell you the last time we used our Wii. Over a year…easily. So we took a few minutes shuffling through all of the games we had just so we could remember what was even there.

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We ended up playing Game Party 2, which is a mix of a bunch of games (beanbags, pong, skee ball, hoops, jarts, etc.)

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Originally, we were going to go through each of the games once but I think somebody got tired of losing…

And I’ll give ya a hint. It wasn’t me. 

I kick some butt with my games. Winking smile

It was nice to do something a little fun and different in the evening, rather than just hang out and watch TV like we usually do. We may have to fire it up more often…just as long as a certain somebody doesn’t mind another whoopin’. Bahaha.

Question for the Morning:

Were you ever/are you into any different kinds of video games?

Growing up, I had the original Nintendo and loved playing Mario Bros. 3, Contra, Life Force, Paperboy, Wheel of Fortune, Tetris, and I’m sure many, many more!

The Incredible Super Bowl Spread

Aaaaaand the Giants win!!!!! Who were YOU routing for last night??

I had a few of you asking who I’d be routing for, seeing as though my Jets were definitely NOT partaking in any victories, but I was definitely routing for the Giants all the way. I actually think the only thing better than seeing the Giants win was seeing the Patriots LOSE. Bahaha.

Either way, it was a great game, and Jay and I were in great company with a few of our good friends over at the house. Oh yeah…and did I mention the amount of delicious food? Oh my. It was pretty incredible. Here’s a look at the spread…

Fresh Homemade Salsa, courtesy of the hubby

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(not sure on a recipe, but if I find out, are you guys interested?)

Veggies with Nacho Cheese Beer Dip. Umm, yes, you read that correctly.

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I used Liz’s recipe for NaCHO Cheese Dip, but put my own little spin on it by adding in about 4-5 tablespoons of Sam Adams Octoberfest.

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I’m so glad we had a few of these left lying around in the fridge. Of course, I made sure to finish off the rest of it myself. Winking smile

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Alright, so what else did we have? Well, I cooked up Sarah’s recipe for Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip, but ended up making quite a few alterations of my own. If I get my act together, I’ll try to share it with you guys sometime soon.

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Let’s just say there was a lot of this that went into my belly last night.

The fun didn’t stop there though my friends. Oh no…

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Jay continued his handy work in the kitchen and baked up a couple batches of chicken wings: one honey barbecue, and one basted with some sort of Frank’s Red Hot glaze.

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The boys all said these were awesome, so I had to snag a bite of the honey barbecue one. They weren’t kidding…those bad boys were pretty tasty.

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As if there wasn’t already enough food, I also whipped up a batch of Lauren’s Loaded Potato Bites. One word…amazing.

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My friend Rachel made a couple of garbage breads – one with pepperoni and cheese, and one with sausage, peppers, and onions. I was definitely all over the one with peppers and onions. So so good.

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You’d think we’d not eaten for days with this spread, wouldn’t ya? Gosh almighty!

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But even still, there was one last item to add to the spread…

I mean, c’mon, you can’t have a party with SOME sort of dessert, right? Rachel also made a batch of festively decorated Funfetti cupcakes, which just so happen to be my favorite boxed cake mix EVER. I totally ended the night with one…

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…aaaand maybe the frosting off another. I really was doing fairly good up until that point, but then it went downhill.

Cody even gave me the evil eye.

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Woops. Sorry Code-man. I’m human…it happens.

This morning I am running on not nearly enough sleep, thanks to a late night and a super early morning (yes, I’ve been working since 5:00am) so the possibility of a nap upon my arrival at home is very, very possible.

So hey, I hope everyone had a great weekend and had a great time watching the game and/or doing whatever else you had going on instead. I’ve still got a few things I need to catch you guys up on from my weekend, but here’s some of what you may have missed…

I’ll catch up with you all a little later after I’m hopefully somehow able to get in a workout AND a nap. Now if I could juuuuust figure out how to do them at the same time… Winking smile

Full Of Tangents

I’ve read before that when one is constructing a blog post, that it should really be centered around one main topic or point of interest. Typically, my posts tend to talk about more than one topic, but I do try my best to somehow mesh things together.

Well today, my friends, I’ve got lots to talk about. Like, a lot. I am full of tangents, I’m feeling a little spunky, and I can think of no other way to share them other than just blurting them all out. I promise…I’m going to try my best to tie them all in together. We’ll see how I do…

Ok, let’s go!

-First, I’m shocked at how many of you have never heard of garbage bread before??

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I guess I thought that this was a pretty well-known thing?

Speaking of well-known things…

-Today is Coffee Friday! So this morning, I headed out to celebrate with an iced version from Dunkin Donuts. I also caved and asked for two blueberry cake munchkins.

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-Unfortunately, it appears as though my streak of good luck with free munchkins has died. I blame it on the fact that the cashier was a girl…I think you guys were onto something before!

-However I DID, once again, get hooked up with more than what I asked for. This makes me both happy and annoyed.

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I mean, if I wanted five I would have asked for five (actually, it’s more like I want twenty-five, but that would be bad for business). So far I’ve only had my two that I asked for.

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Speaking of asking for things…

-Last night, I asked Jay if he wanted me to mow the lawn for him today. As soon as the words passed my lips I immediately regretted them. But of course, it was too late by that point. So I put on my happy face, grabbed my iPod, and got down to business.

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-When I saw this photo, I didn’t have one negative thought creep into my head. Winking smile

-I need to wear gardening gloves when I mow the lawn because otherwise I get blisters.

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-I do pretty good work when I mow…but I really don’t enjoy mowing.

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Want to know what else I really don’t enjoy…?

-Weeding. And yet, despite my strong dislike for the activity, I still managed to spend almost an hour sweating my face off and cleaning out our front beds.

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-This meant that 1 hour weeding + 1 hour push mowing = my exercise for today. I’d say two hours of yard work is totally acceptable as exercise today, right?

But seriously, back to the weeds. Where the heck do all of these freakin’ things come from? And how the heck can I get rid of them?

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-I think I remember liking to look for four-leaf clovers a whole lot more than I do now. If there are any children out there who would like to completely weed out search for four-leaf clovers in the flower beds in the back of my house, please let me know. Because I’m done with it!

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Want to know what else I’m done with?

-Worrying about not crossing my legs because of spider veins. Because according to this morning’s episode of The Doctors, crossing your legs does not cause spider veins or varicose veins.

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Sure. NOW they tell me…after I’ve been paranoid about it since noticing my first spider vein in the gym locker room in 8th grade. I guess I’m just genetically predisposed? Boo.

Speaking of predisposed…

-I think I’m also genetically predisposed to feel the need to shop. Is that possible? If so, I blame it on my mom. And I’ll tell ya, it’s been REALLY hard to not purchase the pair of True Religion jeans that are 50% off and featured in my Shop It To me email today.

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But don’t worry. If you’re with me and are also trying to not to make purchases, then today is the perfect day to enter my Bendiful Watches Giveaway. Because I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather get something for free than pay for it!

Speaking of what I’d rather do…

That brings me to today’s “Would You Rather” Questions!

WOULD YOU RATHER…

  • Spend five hours weeding -OR- five hours push mowing?
  • Always get first dibs -OR- the last laugh?
  • Spend your Friday night at home -OR- out on the town?

Alright, how did I do?? Winking smile

BBQ Chicken Garbage Bread

This afternoon, I was totally ahead of the game and took care of putting together tonight’s dinner.

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Ohhhh yes. We’ll get to that in a second.

So because I was already ahead of the game with dinner, this meant that, rather then spend the evening in the kitchen, I was free to spend some QT out on the back porch with hubby…and my margarita.

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Remember the Sinless Margaritas that me and the girls enjoyed back on Cinco de Mayo? Well, the mix has been sitting in my fridge ever since, so I figured tonight would be as good a night as any to break it out and make a couple drinks for the two of us. They’re really pretty good…and umm, don’t take long to feel the effects either. Winking smile

But anyways…back to dinner!

Growing up, one of my absolute favorite “snack” foods that my mom made was garbage bread. Granted, although I really do not like pepperoni, she eventually ventured into trying different variations which all turned out great and regularly make an appearance at parties and other gatherings (if it is pepperoni, I usually pick out 99% of it).

Well for the past few days, I’ve had a pack of ground chicken and a pizza dough in my fridge that needed to be used. It is *very difficult* for me to convince hubby to eat any sort of ground meat that isn’t beef…he just isn’t a huge fan. So I knew that if I was going to be able to get him to eat the ground chicken, it’d have to be good…and smothered in bbq sauce!

So first, I started out by rolling the dough (which was a small victory in and of itself, and I only wish that someone was here to take a picture of me throwing the dough up in the air as if I were a professional pizza maker) and topped it with some minced garlic and sautéed onions.

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Next, I added the ground chicken, which I simply cooked over the stove with a little salt and pepper and covered in bbq sauce (~1/3 cup?).

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Next was the good stuff…the cheeeeese. Smile

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After another small drizzle of bbq sauce, it was time to start rolling. I roll my garbage breads like a jellyroll, since that’s what I’ve always seen my mom do. One very important note to mention is to be sure you continue to pinch the sides. You don’t want all of your handy work oozing out all over the place!

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Once it’s all rolled up, pinch the seams a bit more, place it on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

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Then, cut a few small slits along the top; this helps prevent your bread from exploding.

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I bake my bread in a 350 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes until it just starts to get golden brown. Then, once I’ve allowed it to cool for about 5-10 minutes, it’s time to slice ‘er open.

Ooooo baby! Open-mouthed smile

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For dinner, I enjoyed inhaled three delicious pieces, both from the middle (where all the goods are)

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and from the edge (because I really like the pieces that are almost all bread, too) Winking smile

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And even though I could’ve easily made a meal out of the garbage bread alone, I paired it with some sautéed zucchini and yellow squash, which I cooked up quickly with a little salt, pepper, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

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Easy peasy and super delicious.

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(PLUS, hubby even ate the ground chicken AND enjoyed it, so it was definitely a #winning dinner!)

Now I’m off to go hang out on the couch snack on the edges of the bread for the night.

Question for the Evening:

What would be your ideal add-ins for your own garbage bread?

Big + Mini Purchases = Combat the Sunday Blues

Another Sunday…

Another day of football and delicious snacks!

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Sometimes I wonder what it is that I do with myself on Sunday’s when it’s not football season? ;)

Today’s football festivities brought Jay and I over to my parents’ house for some good laughs and good eats. Of course, they had the Jets gear out and ready to go!

HOORAYYYY for a Jets win today!! :-D

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Mom made one of my favorite “snackies” of hers today…Garbage Bread!

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I go NUTS over the peppers + onions + sausage combo! She also makes a pretty mean pepperoni bread, but I’m pretty partial to my peppers and onions. I had to restrain myself from dominating the entire bread. :oops:

Luckily, I knew there was some delicious dessert waiting to be had…

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My Apple Crisp!! I’m still shocked that I never ended up breaking into it yesterday after baking it…but it was soooo well worth the wait!

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I topped off each of our portions with a little slow-churned french vanilla ice cream + a drizzling of caramel. My spoon may or may not have accidentally fallen back into the pan once or twice more after eating my portion…I cannot tell a lie. ;)

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I’m going to have the recipe coming your way tomorrow, I promise! :)

After enjoying a good few hours with my parents, Jay and I set out on a mission, which I must say, was accomplished rather smoothly and I am beyond excited…

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WE FINALLY BOUGHT A TREADMILL!!!

We’re going to pick it up tomorrow, and I can.not.wait. It will be so nice to be able to get a run in in the morning now (since, a- I don’t like to run outside when it’s cold, and b- I don’t like to run outside when it’s dark). WOO HOO!!

So I guess between our new big purchase, and my mini purchase here…

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I’d say I’ve done a pretty good job of battling the Sunday Blues.

Time to go relax with some Real Simple and my boys…hope you all had a GREAT weekend!!

Garbage For Dinner

Hello friends! We’ve made it through another Monday — let’s raise the roof, shall we?

WOOO HOOO! :-D

Earlier today, after posting my killer smoothie, I had many of you asking about the xanthan gum.

According to the packaging of my Bob’s Red Mill bag, “Xanthan is used by people who are allergic to gluten to add volume and viscosity to bread and other gluten-free baked goods. It is made from a tiny microorganism called Xanthomonas campestris and is a natural carbohydrate.”

I definitely did notice that it gave my smoothie a thicker, almost gel-like consistency. It also seemed to prevent the smoothie from getting too watery towards the end of the glass, which was much appreciated.

Before using “the gum,” I was able to get a fairly thick smoothie, but it was usually only when I incorporated frozen bananas. If I nixed the banana, the thickness went down. So for instances like today, when all the fruit was fresh, I was definitely impressed. I bought my bag for $10.99, but considering I’ll really only be using about 1/2 tsp. at a time, it’s definitely going to last me for a while. So if you’ve been thinking about it, I would say, “Go For It!” :) I’m excited to try it out in some other recipes, too!

Dinner

Tonight’s dinner had been planned since the weekend, when I realized a had bought some whole wheat pizza dough that needed to be used. Jay and I decided that we weren’t really in the mood for pizza again, so I decided to create one of my old, childhood (and still adulthood) favorites: Garbage Bread!!

I split the dough in half and created two mini garbage breads (a.k.a. – stromboli, pizza bread, “enter your own name for it here”…). One of them (which I forgot to photograph) was simply made with pepperoni, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkling of oregano & garlic powder. The hubby said he enjoyed that one, but it could have used more cheese. ;)

The other garbage bread got a generous helping of green & red peppers, red onion, 3 thin slices of black forest deli ham, & a combination of some reduced-fat mozzarella & fat free cheddar cheeses. I enjoyed 3 delicious slices with dinner – and then eventually went back for a fourth. They were small! ;)

If I had a recipe to give, I absolutely would, but it’s pretty easy and self-explanatory. The possibilities are endless when it comes to fillings – just go with what you like! My next challenge will be to come up with a dessert garbage bread.! :shock: When making the bread, just be careful that you don’t roll out your dough to thin — otherwise, your breads are going to explode (right Mom?) ;)

Since I knew it wouldn’t be super smart to fill up simply on “garbage” for dinner, I made some fresh salads to go along with our bread. My salad had a mix of romaine, cukes, pepper, grape tomatoes, baby carrots, & dried cranberries.

T’was a delicious and delightful meal! :-D

So I must say, I am quite excited this evening because I was offered the chance to review a product from CSN Stores! If you’ve never heard of CSN Stores, they are on online retailer that has over 200 different shopping sites under their main name. Crazy, right?!? They most likely have anything you’re looking for, from luggage, to shoes :mrgreen: , cookware – even twin beds! I was thinking about reviewing something that could be used in my favorite room of the house – the kitchen! ;) Does anyone have any recommendations on what I should go for?!?

It’s almost BACHELORETTE time!! I can’t wait to see what happens in the home town dates tonight. All I’ll say is…

Robertoooo!!! (right, Julie?!?) :-D

Question for the Night: (can’t remember if I’ve asked this one before, BUT…)

If given the chance, would you ever go on a reality show, such as The Bachelorette?