Tag Archives: meals

Weekly Wins

I started writing this post with the intention of finishing it next week, and calling it a February recap. Then I decided I wanted to come up with a more fun title, like February Wins. And then I realized that “week” and “win” both start with a “w”, so here we are, with a post called “Weekly Wins” (because alliteration) that’s getting published sooner than I anticipated. You probably didn’t need to know any of that!

Anyway…here are some “wins” I experienced in the last week. It’s been a bit frustrating because I haven’t had as much time to work out as I’d like to, but fun all the same.

Recipe Win

Oh man, we have a new favorite recipe in the house. I’ve made tons of different Mexican casseroles and “lasagnas”, but the Mexican Style Lasagna by Picky Palate is a clear winner. I think it’s the addition of Mexican-style rice (I used a box from Goya) that does it. It tastes fantastic both fresh and leftover and is an excellent pick for a meal to make at the beginning of the week and portion out for lunches.

Workout Win

I’m not a huge workout buddy person after work, but when it comes to weekends or early morning workouts, I’m all about it. ClassPass’ cancellation fee usually keeps me pretty accountable, but sometimes it feels worth paying $15 to stay in bed. That’s why I was psyched when my friend Matt agreed to join me for a Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, and Miley Cyrus ride at Turnstyle Back Bay this past Saturday morning. I knew that no matter how much I didn’t want to work out, the promise of a friend waiting for me would get me to class. Plus, how could I miss out on that theme!?

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4 Favorite Dinners (And What They Mean)

I have really enjoyed cooking dinners for Jeff and I to enjoy together at home, even before we moved in together (check out my Pinterest account to see almost every recipe I’ve ever made). This post first started as a sort of round-up of four favorite home-cooked meals that we both have loved. However, I realized after I picked out the four that they all had a common theme. They were all meals that I would not have made for myself at home (as-is, at least) a couple of years ago…or even a year ago.

I used to consider home-cooked meals my “chance” to have complete, 100% control over ingredients and cooking methods. That meant making everything as “clean” as possible (very little fats, if any…veggie based…carbs only if I had worked out that day). In my head, this off-set any meals that I had out or bites and drinks I enjoyed at events I attended. So when sharing these four favorite dinners, I’d also like to highlight what about each dish makes it a big step for me, and shows how far I have come in my search for letting go and just enjoying food.


To this day I still am not a HUGE fan of rice, but Jeff loves it. He had mentioned jambalaya to me several times, so I decided to try my hand at making it using an easy recipe from Cook, Craft, Love. I considered doing the rice on the side and having none or only a little, but what good is a deconstructed jambalaya? So I just made it all in one pot, just like the recipe asked, and actually ended up really enjoying it…rice (carb) and all.

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Tuttorosso Tomatoes Giveaway & Stew Recipe!

I received complimentary Tuttorosso Tomatoes to use for this post. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.

After doing my post for Redpack Tomatoes, I was approached by another brand from the Red Gold family – Tuttorosso Tomatoes, to do something similar. (That includes a GIVEAWAY at the end of this post by the way.)

Special delivery!

Special delivery!

That means I received another tomatoe-y gift pack – but this one with a nifty tote, which has since then obviously been used to tote around wine.

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Lightlife Lights Up Meals (Plus Giveaway!)

I received complimentary product coupons for review purposes. I received no monetary compensation for this post and opinions are my own.

Firstly, let me announce the winner of my Redpack Tomatoes giveaway…it’s Annie of Avocado Athlete! Congrats, girl!

annie giveaway

Now I know it seems a bit meh for me to do two product/giveaway posts in a row, but I’m keepin it real: both were due this week, and I do like to give you guys a chance to win products that I actually enjoy. And I seriously enjoyed (and am still enjoying, because there’s some Smart Dogs in my freezer right now waiting to be used) Lightlife veggie products! I have been a fan of cooking with vegetarian “meat” for awhile, and was excited for the chance to try a new brand.



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Redpack Dinners & Giveaway!

I received complimentary Redpack products in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own and I received no monetary compensation.


Redpack Tomatoes approached me about not only receiving a slow cooker gift pack, but also giving one away to a reader. I love reviewing products that I get to give to readers too so I was all on board! They sent me a can of Tomato Sauce and two cans of Crushed Tomatoes in Thick Puree. Plus a charming wooden spoon!

photo (4)


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Chicken Veggie Barley Bake

A few weeks ago, Brittany sent me this recipe from Layers of Happiness (she and I love sending each other recipes – especially those involving baby cabbages). I knew immediately I wanted to use some leftover uncooked barley I had to make my own version! So this past Sunday during my weekly meal prep, I did just that. Monday night dinner was the moment of truth. How would it turn out? The verdict was…GREAT! So I’m here to share my take…

Chicken Veggie Barley Bake

(Adapted from Layers of Happiness Pesto Chicken & Vegetable Quinoa Bake)

Makes 4 servings

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Thinking Out Loud: Back in Boston

I’m back in Boston after my Mexico vacation and brief birthday stint back home. Coming back from vacation to a place where I’ve only lived a month is lovely because though I miss the warmth of Cancun, I really didn’t mind returning! I’m still so excited to continue to explore Beantown and also felt anxious to get back to my job, which I’m still loving. It feels like forever since I thought out loud so I felt a link-up with Amanda was in order!

1. Getting out of the hotel gym and back to the BSC feels great! Without a Stairmaster or group fitness, it’s super hard for me to get motivated to work out. Thank goodness for Danielle Dee’s Monday night spin class! That hour was the cherry on top of my first day back in my routine. Especially when Danielle said, “Good job, sweetheart.” to me after class. Hearing that direct “go you” from a group fitness instructor makes SUCH a difference. And it made me feel motivated to follow up the class with some core work! Tuesday night I finally tried a class I’ve been meaning to check out, Burn. I’d taken Step a couple of times from the instructor and he is so funny! The class was a series of tons of different exercises – not a repeated circuit, but seriously just cardio and strength exercises that were never repeated. I liked that the material was kept fresh and though it wasn’t as cardio-heavy as spin, I still felt it was the perfect workout for what I was feeling that evening. Here’s an example of one of the moves we did – partner push-ups.

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WIAW: I Cooked!

Whenever I do a What I Ate Wednesday post (thanks Jenn!) that features at-home meals, it shows off my mom’s amazing healthy dishes. Truth (though I’ve never been secretive about this): pretty much every one of my recipes was created by her. Well today I’ve got something new cooking…two dishes THAT I MADE. They may not be recipes I created (I’ll be sharing one of those later!) but they are recipes I took from my Recipes I’d Actually Make Pinterest board. And now I’m able to take a cue from Sam and move those two recipes to a board titled I MADE THIS. Yes in all caps, because I”m that excited about it.

The reason I don’t have much experience with cooking is because I live at home to save money (I always feel the need to throw the reasoning in there…I’m not a 30 year old living it up in my parent’s basement – although my room IS in the basement). My mom is an awesome cook and she always makes super-healthy dinners for me. Believe me it’s come in handy especially given the fact that I do the gym after work, and when I get home I am just hungry and ready to chow down after my shower. But I won’t be living at home forever and I definitely have been fearing getting too content with my mom’s cooking and too dependent upon restaurants, take-out, and the Whole Foods salad bar. My parents have been spending more time than ever in our FL condo so I decided it was the perfect time to practice my cooking!

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Todd English’s Tuscany at Mohegan Sun

I’m so glad you guys liked my Sprigs Earbags giveaway! Thank you to all who participated. I’m excited to announce that the winner is…

…Ali of Miles With Style!

Thank you for entering Ali – now you can seriously get your style on while piling on those miles. I will contact you for shipping info!

I know that the big Thanksgiving holiday was this past weekend and everyone is back to work and “real life” today. I also know that the blog world is going to be flooded with Thanksgiving food (in fact, it already is). I love reading about what everyone else did for Thanksgiving, but I also still need to finish my Mohegan Sun weekend recap. So my Turkey Day talk will come, but for now, we have some catching up to do!

Shoe shot – but you probably noticed our room’s bathroom’s pretty tile floor.

Now let’s see…where were we? Oh right! Maria and I were in our hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mohegan Sun Casino hotel, pampering ourselves and prepping for an epic tasting dinner with other bloggers at Todd English’s Tuscany!

Got to wear a Forever 21 dress I hadn’t worn in forever!

I could not believe that my hair worked out on my first try!

We went downstairs a little early for craps and Christmas. Yes, Christmas.

Mohegan is already decked out for the holidays and Maria and I had to get a photo in front of the tree in our outfits.

We both planned outfits with a pop of color – love it! But I wish I’d taken off my purse for this photo.

I am a conservative craps player so I only ended up winning $10, but I also got a free Jack Daniel’s Manhattan while playing, so I consider this round of gambling a major win!

I love this glass structure in the center of the casino shops!

Our tasting dinner was set up in one of Tuscany’s private dining rooms. Maria and I both arrived hungry and ready to fill our bellies, but Tuscany was more ready than us. We were in for a seriously epic amount of food.

We bloggers also had the pleasure of dining with the woman who brought us all together for the weekend, PR Manager Michelle Williams. We have been working together on events and giveaways for more than half a year now and it was wonderful to finally get the chance to meet in person and talk food, marketing, family, romance…you know, the usual!

The epic menu!

We were first served crusty Italian bread with a seriously awe-inspiring white bean puree and olive tapenade. I’m not sure how I managed to hold off on having a piece until the first glass of wine was poured, but somehow I did.

Our first wine was a white blend of Riesling, Moscato, and Chardonnay. I normally am not a fan of anything Moscato-related but the Riesling and Chardonnay balanced it out. This glass sure went down easily.

The antipasto course of passed appetizers was easily enough food for my dinner. Maria and I looked at each other as the plates were being taken away and said, “How are we going to fit anything else?!”

Antipasta Della Casa

I legitimately would come back to Tuscany and just order this entire platter for myself. It was hard to save room and not kill it.

Calamari Fritti with a Chipotle Cream Sauce

Calamari is often all the same to me because it just all tastes fried. This calamari didn’t stand out too much (the best I’ve ever had is still at J. Gilbert’s because it includes the barely-fried octopus-looking calamari that I adore) but the chipotle sauce – man oh man! Pretty darn good.

Fig, prosciutto, and balsamic flatbread.

Though I prefer my flatbreads to be served on crispier, thinner crusts, the above flatbread’s flavor combo was hard not to love. I’m a prosciutto fanatic!

Tuscan Salad and Trefethen 2010 Chardonnay

I chose the Tuscan Salad of greens, roasted red peppers, artichokes, olives, onions, and lemon vinaigrette for my salad course. Very impressive! I like a restaurant starter salad that doesn’t slack on the ingredients. The Chardonnay went so well with the vinaigrette.

Double-fistin’ – it’s what I do.

Before I knew it I was being poured the next wine – Apothic Red – and hadn’t even finished my Chardonnay yet. Had to double up! The next course, pasta, featured choice of two dishes – clam linguine or ricotta gnocchi. The latter has been on my to-try list for eons, so it was a no-brainer.

Ummm…when can I eat gnocchi again?! The ricotta was to die for but those potato pillows, ahhh. Not surprised I loved this dish since I am a potato fanatic (as well as the previously mentioned prosciutto…me thinks I need to eat a pizza topped with both). That sauce was certainly fabulous and the homemade ricotta, don’t get me started. Wait, I already am.

Me and Anne!

My other seatmate Anne ordered the clam linguine, and she let me take a shot of her dish. I didn’t try any because I could barely fit my food as it was at this point (and we still had the entrees to come…) but I heard great things about it! I’m just not a plain pasta person – my palate craves too much excitement!

Major thanks to Tina for helping me learn more about my camera’s settings before I took this photo.

Then came the entrees. Yes, more food. I didn’t finish my gnocchi and knew I couldn’t finish this dish, but I want to come back to Tuscany so I can order it again and enjoy an entire portion during a normal-sized meal!

Crispy (seriously, so crispy) salmon with bacon Brussels sprouts, clams, and Parmesan polenta.

Maria and I couldn’t get over how crispy this fish was. I want to know Todd English’s secret! Yes obviously Maria and I ordered the same thing for the entire meal.

Insta-twins! Shared our meals one after the other.

The entree was served with DaVinci Chianti, which I’ve actually had before at Bertucci’s. I adore Chianti! It has such a robust flavor.

Maria, I, and the rest of the girls found our third/fourth/fifth stomachs the moment we caught glimpses of the desserts! First, each of us was served a mini fallen chocolate cake with a scoop of the most delicious, simple Tahitian vanilla ice cream and raspberry puree. It had been forever since I’d just enjoyed a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of a more “complex” flavor. Though I am all about the complex, it felt so nice to go back to the vanilla days of my childhood and mix the ice cream with the warm, molten syrup center of the chocolate cake. There was no way I wouldn’t finish every last bite.

Do you spy the green sprig below the ice cream? I am not sure what herb it was but it paired quite interestingly with this dish!

Did you really think we were done? NOT A CHANCE. I couldn’t pass up one each of the cannolis and another Italian pastry (I’d call it a croissant with cannoli filling – anyone know what that is called?) on the below tray. EDIT: Thanks to Sara for sharing that the pastry is called a “sfogliatelle”, which means many leaves in Italian. If you look at it you can see why it has that name! I packed up some more of both to bring home to the fam.

The sfogliatelle is next to the cannolis!

AND end meal. Finally, right?! Like I said before, I really want to go back to Tuscany now to enjoy a “normal” sized meal so that I can eat every last bite and not leave with a food baby. But believe me, this food baby was welcomed. I am honestly so proud of myself for enjoying every bite of this meal that I wanted to, knowing I don’t do it all the time, and sleeping quite peacefully that night.

A huge part of that was the fact that I felt so special, appreciated, and in my element during the meal and the entire weekend. I was in the company of good friends who are also bloggers I admire and have read for – in some cases – years! I was the guest of one of my favorite CT destinations and got the chance to try so many authentic Italian dishes at a new-to-me restaurant. And the best part? I didn’t have to do the 45 minute drive back home afterward! 😛

Julie, Me, Tina!

Some of the girls headed out for shopping after the meal wound down (and after we spent a bit more time sitting, digesting, and chatting), but Maria and I were so ready for bedtime.

Pretty sure about ten of these photos were taken.

When we got back to our room, Maria and I had a case of the wine sillies that was sparked by the donning of my matchy-matchy Victoria’s Secret flannel jammies.

Two thumbs up for fancy-pants pajamas!

We decided that the giant…things on our bed looked like foam rollers. Anyone know what they’re called?

What is this thing?!

Sadly, it didn’t function as a foam roller.


Alas, we cheered up and settled in for TV, girl talk, and not too long after, bed. We awoke the next morning like the early birds we are, checked out of the hotel, and checked back into reality. And while reality is always nice to return to, I have to admit that I was texting Maria later that night saying, “I miss Mohegan!”

Thank you to Mohegan Sun, Tuscany, and Michelle for an enchanting evening and Saturday in general!

Though I received accommodations and this meal free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

Which dish would you have most liked to try?

Have you ever dined with other bloggers?

Have you ever done any gambling?

Myth-Busting: I Eat At Home!

Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for a case of Barres: The Real Food Bar. I have never had this much participation (197 entries!) in a giveaway before – woo hoo! I used a random number generator to pick the winner:

Congratulations to the winner Daphne!

Please email me with your address so I can forward it along to Julia at Barre – thank you again to all who entered! Now let’s get to today’s post!

Burnt (on purpose) Digiorno pizza slice, broc, black beans, and some turkey burger and grilled chicken with spicy mustard.

I get a lot of comments on both the blog and Instagram, as well as tweets, about how often I dine out. I am always excited to share my drinks and eats from restaurants, whether via restaurant reviews or photos shared on social media. I definitely tend to write about restaurant meals more often than I write about meals at home. For that reason, I think there’s a bit of a misconception that’s developed (and I can see why). I feel like many of my readers think I eat out all the time.

Leftover vegan Wildflour sweet potato & black bean flatbread, purchased during my last visit with Heather, eaten at home after class on Friday.

And while I do dine at restaurants an average of 3 or 4 times a week, I eat at home as well! The truth is, the more nights I eat out, the more stressed I feel. There’s a guilt aspect to that unfortunately. I think there is a stigma our media’s projected about eating at restaurants: that no matter what you order, it’s bad…that if you finish your plate, even if you have room for it, you’ve eaten too much…a lot of all-or-nothing thinking is associated with restaurant meals. I’ve struggled with that for the last couple of years, and it’s especially hard to get over when I love restaurants so much, but I’m working on it.

Leftover vegan Wildflour raw lasagna, purchased during that same visit. Eaten during class on Friday night.

However I also get more stressed the more I dine out because there is really nothing like a relaxing night at home with a home-cooked meal, my family, and the DVR. I’m lucky to be living with parents that are grill maestros (my dad) and healthy dish mavens (my mom). I feel the most satisfied and content on a weeknight after I kill it at the gym, shower, and settle in on the couch in my PJs with my dinner plate. Just thinking about it right now is calming to me. No matter what fabulous tasting I have planned or which unique restaurant I’m headed to, there is no night better than a night in.

Takeout from my fave Mex place in CT, Loco Perro, of East Hampton. Salsa, black beans over sauteed veggies, and shredded chicken quesadilla with light cheese. Enjoyed while watching latest ep of “Newsroom” on the DVR.

I don’t want any of my readers to think that I’m always out eating crazy food and drinking weird martinis every night because that’s not who I am. I don’t have that much energy! The truth is, I’m a homebody. I’m a grandma. I crave routine and I crave calm. I’ve been working on staying home MORE nights each week, for my own mental health. Whether I’m out on a weeknight eating a salad or a four-course wine dinner, I get stressed. It doesn’t matter what I order; it’s just the fact that I’m not home. I want the couch. I want my family. I want the distance from the place I ate dinner to my bed to be nothing more than one flight of stairs.

Pinto beans, cornbread, turkey sausage, squash & zucchini, and Ore Ida frozen fries with spicy mustard. Thanks, parents!

I also wanted to bring this up because I really, really want to get more into the daily life posts that I see very often in the blog world. I want to be relate-able to my readers and also be able to share more about my musings, workouts, and eats each day. I feel like sometimes I put pressure on myself to review every meal I eat out. While I love putting them together, restaurant reviews are time consuming, especially when I get so excited and passionate that I feel like I could write forever and ever. Most of the time I have to STOP myself from including every last detail in a review.

Dinner’s accompaniments 😉 quite a pair.

It’s nice to just open up a new post and write about what’s on my mind at that moment – like I did here. And this is MY blog! My restaurant and tasting reviews aren’t going anywhere, but I’m thinking with daily life posts I can project a more accurate image of who I really am! 

What do you guys think? Would you like to see more daily eats/workouts/fashion posts from me?

Which do you enjoy more – eating out or eating in? Which is more relaxing to you?

What’s your favorite meal to make at home?

What are you opinions on the way our media skews the consequences of dining at restaurants?