Archive | September, 2014

Trade It Up Tuesday: More Ups Than Downs

30 Sep

I would trade… the fact that it still doesn’t feel like fall outside. This is an absurd first world problem that most of you will not agree with but I wish it would finally get a little bit cooler outside. I enjoy the warmth a lot but I am SO wanting to put on my comfy sweaters and leggings and boots. I know I will regret saying this come the first snowfall but for now I just want to enjoy a crisp breeze and not be sweating allllllll the time.

I just bought these boots at Kohl's and they are so comfy and I can't wait to wear them! Source

I just bought these boots at Kohl’s and they are so comfy and I can’t wait to wear them! Source

I would not trade… a weekend filled with football and the farmers market! This past weekend we attended the UConn game Saturday afternoon (I’m going to refrain from commenting about the game itself) where we celebrated my Grandma’s 82nd birthday. It was a fun day and the 4:00 start time gave Dan and I enough of an excuse to come home and relax (aka. do nothing) for the rest of the evening. Sunday afternoon we headed over to the Coventry Regional Farmers Market again to stock up on some goodies and to sample some cocktails from the Farm-to-Shaker Bartender’s Challenge. The cocktails were all unique and delicious and I’m very glad we got to sample each of them. We finished up Sunday with some more of doing absolutely nothing.

We got her cake from our favorite bakery - Patty Cakes! Very yummy!

We got her cake from our favorite bakery – Patty Cakes! Very yummy!

They rolled out a huge American flag on the field for military appreciation day

They rolled out a huge American flag on the field for military appreciation day

It was so cool to watch the bartenders make their cocktails!

It was so cool to watch the bartenders make their cocktails!

I would not trade… my first taste of Bear’s Smokehouse ribs! My Grandma had mentioned getting ribs for the tailgate on Saturday and I knew just the place to go. I had only eaten food from Bear’s once when my coworkers ordered it for lunch one day so I was pumped to try more menu items! The ribs were an all-around hit with everyone and my family said they can’t wait to go to Bear’s for a meal. They were devoured so quickly that I only got one picture but I also wanted to mention that Dan and I sampled the mac and cheese and the pulled pork and both were absolutely to die for!

As you can see, there were about three ribs left standing from the two FULL racks that we bought

As you can see, there were about three ribs left standing from the two FULL racks that we bought

I would not trade… the fact that I was able to find time to work out on both Saturday and Sunday. I think that was the first time that I ever was able to fit in a productive workout on both weekend days. Saturday morning I did have a tad bit of a red wine headache but Jillian Michael’s kickboxing video cured that pretty quickly. On Sunday I did a quick 20 minutes of high incline treadmill walking followed by about 15 minutes of arms and abs.

I also climbed 103 floors last night, which is 50 more than I have ever done before

I also climbed 103 floors last night, which is 50 more than I have ever done before

I would not trade… the beautiful flowers that Dan gave me yesterday in celebration of our one year anniversary of our engagement. They look so pretty in our kitchen and tonight we are going to Barcelona Wine Bar in West Hartford for a happy hour tapas meal to celebrate. I am SO excited to finally get back to Barcelona after the amazing first meal I had there and I know Dan is excited too!

My favorite!

My favorite!

Well that’s all for today guys and I’m happy to see that I could only come up with one thing I would trade and it’s not even really about me which means that life is great right now 🙂 Have a happy Tuesday!

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Delicious Slow-Cooker Chili

25 Sep

I am very excited to share this post with you today because it is my first ever recipe that I came up with on my own. I have been craving chili for weeks but I was holding out for the weather to get a little bit more chilly since no one likes to eat chili when it’s hot outside (except maybe me). This wasn’t my first time making chili in the crock-pot but the recipes that I have made before just didn’t have exactly the flavor I was looking for, so I came up with my own! It took a while to come up with and I definitely browsed the internet for a while looking at different chili recipes to help piece together mine.

That is usually what happens. This time was a WIN!

That is usually what happens. This time was a WIN!

I started the prep the night before by chopping up a green bell pepper and half of a medium yellow onion (you can use more onion but I’m not a fan so I use less). I also mixed the spices together the night before so it was one less thing I had to do in the morning. Dan helped me out a lot by browning the ground beef the night before too. I am ALL about the preparation.

This was before I left for work

This was before I left for work

The meat I chose to use was ground beef because I had it in the freezer but you can certainly use ground turkey or even chicken and it would be amazing. Before I left for work in the morning, I just threw all of the ingredients in the crock pot and set it to low and I was on my way! It cooked for about 10 hours until I got home and it was all ready.

This is what I came home to.. SO much delicious

This is what I came home to.. SO much delicious

I topped my bowl with some diced avocado, shredded cheese, and plain Greek yogurt and it was scrumptious. It had the perfect level of spiciness and the exact flavor that I had been searching for. The “secret” ingredient was replacing the water that would normally go into chili with beer and that made ALL the difference. Dan absolutely loved it and after his first bite he stated “that was definitely a food-gasm right there”. I definitely recommend making this, particularly on a crisp fall night because it warms you right up!

The avocado was an excellent topping. We also enjoyed some cornbread on the side :)

The avocado was an excellent topping. We also enjoyed some cornbread on the side 🙂

Slow Cooker Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (or turkey or chicken)
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can whole corn kernels
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 8 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can of Rotel, with juice
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 cup of beer (any kind, I used Bud Light)

Directions:

  1. Cook the ground beef in a pan until browned.
  2. Dice the green bell pepper and the onion, and mince the garlic.
  3. Put the beef, pepper, onion, and garlic into the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Cover the slow cooker and cook, on low, for 8-10 hours.
  5. Serve sprinkled with shredded cheese, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), and avocado if desired.

I hope you guys enjoy this meal as much as I did!

Marvelous Monday: The Big E!

22 Sep

Happy Monday? Yes, that was a question because I’m definitely dragging a little bit today but a little bit of coffee will help with that I’m sure. I worked on Saturday and we spent Sunday at the Big E with a group of our friends so it was a jam-packed weekend.

I got out of work on Saturday and planned on getting our grocery shopping done and then heading up to Verizon to order my new iPhone 6 (YAY – ps. I have an upgrade and with my trade-in, it’s going to cost me practically nothing so double YAY!). We were able to get those things done except I’m going back to Verizon tonight after work since there was an hour wait when we went and I was able to make an actual appointment for tonight. After all of that we grabbed dinner at Moe’s for ourselves and Dan’s parents and headed up there to spend some time with them before they head off on vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. I devoured a Moe’s chicken burrito bowl with ALL the toppings and also enjoyed some yummy red wine with Dan’s mom.

Why hello there beautiful

Why hello there beautiful

On Sunday morning, a bunch of our friends met us at our place and we headed up to the Big E. We started the day by going through each of the New England buildings (each state has a different building showcasing their vendors, food, and such).

oh why thank you, I do every day :)

oh why thank you, I do every day 🙂

My highlight of the building was definitely the maple iced coffee in the Vermont building. I have no idea what they put in it but it was SO delicious.

He is enjoying my picture-taking oh so much

He is enjoying my picture-taking oh so much

I also enjoyed a baked potato from the Maine building which is always a must-have at the Big E. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that it’s probably one of the most popular food items of all of the food at the fair. I always get my potato loaded with everything (butter, sour cream, cheese, chives and bacon) because you only live once, right?

This was perfection

This was perfection

I washed down that potato greatness with a Shipyard Pumpkinhead beer which had the rim of the glass dipped in caramel sauce and cinnamon sugar. It was so perfect and refreshing on what was an extremely hot and humid day.

It's basically Fall in a sugar-coated cup :)

It’s basically Fall in a sugar-coated cup 🙂

Although it seems like we spent the entire day eating, we actually did quite a few other things as well. We browsed through many of the other buildings including the Farm-a-rama which had the most adorable baby pigs snuggling with their mom.

We all agreed that these were the cutest animals ever

We all agreed that these were the cutest animals ever

We also walked through the petting zoo and I took a particular liking to the camel because he was making the funniest faces the entire time we were in there 🙂

What day is it?! (Sorry I had to go there) ;)

What day is it?! (Sorry I had to go there) 😉

Dan, Kevin, and Robbie also enjoyed a ride on the swings and I obviously had to get a picture of that because it was SO adorable.

Those are some happy boys!

Those are some happy boys!

I ended the day with something that I had been talking about trying forever, a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This was INSANE and by insane, I mean entirely delicious and I wish I could have one every day of my life.

I wish I could eat fried everything all the time

I wish I could eat fried everything all the time

It was a wonderful day spent with great people 🙂 I hope you guys have a great start to the week!

Have you been to any fairs yet this year?

What is your favorite fair food?

WIAW: Unusual

17 Sep

Happy Wednesday! I haven’t posted a “normal” What I Ate Wednesday in quite a while so I figured I would recap everything that I ate yesterday on my day off. Although it definitely was not a normal day of eats since we headed up to the Big E (basically a HUGE state fair in Massachusetts) last night for a couple of hours as a date night for the two of us 🙂

Breakfast:

I slept in a little bit and then I did Jillian Michael’s Kickboxing Fastfix so I was definitely starving by 11:00 when that was all done. It had been a while since I made eggs so I decided to scramble up some eggs quickly since we actually had some skim milk in the house which is way better than using water to make them. I added some diced cherry tomatoes, honey ham, and Trader Joe’s Italian truffle cheese. I had an apple on the side and it was a yummy breakfast which held me over for quite a while.

I definitely added some ketchup after this pic was taken

I definitely added some ketchup after this pic was taken

Lunch:

I had a few errands to run so that everything was done before we headed out to our date night so I ate a late lunch at around 3:00 (which is actually when I normally eat at work). I had two leftover Skinny Sour Cream Enchiladas from Skinny Mom that we had made the night before. These were absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to make them again.

This pic was actually from dinner the night before but you get the idea ;)

This pic was actually from dinner the night before but you get the idea 😉

Dinner:

We arrived at the Big E at around 5:00 and I knew it would be a late dinner since we planned on walking around and sampling things as well as snacking before we had a big meal. I had been wanting to try a chicken gyro for a LONG time since I heard a bunch of my friends raving about them and saying they were way better than the lamb gyro which I did not like at all. At around 7:45, I got my gyro and Dan got some New England clam chowder from the Rhode Island building. Both we equally yummy and I would definitely order a chicken gyro again. He had his clam chowder in a bread bowl (of course, it’s Dan) and that was SO perfect. We ended the night with some fried oreos which I definitely regretted on the way home since my stomach did not love me for that but they were worth it. It was a great night and definitely something unusual for us to do during the week. We will actually be heading back up to the Big E on Sunday with our friends so I will definitely be recapping more delicious eats next week.

I loved the sauce

I loved the sauce

It doesn't get much more New England than this!

It doesn’t get much more New England than this!

Have a happy Wednesday!

 

Things I’m Loving Friday

12 Sep

Happy Friday! I figured that since I always do a “Five Things Friday” post, I would try something a little different this week and post about a few things that I am currently obsessing over. This week was pretty busy, hence why I didn’t post anything until today, but I’m very excited to share something different today.

Things I’m Loving:

  • Fall-related things

To be completely honest, I was never really a big “fall” person because I have always felt like it has gotten in between me and my favorite time of year aka. Christmas. This year has been different and I can’t wait to do things like go apple-picking and go to more fairs, and wear scarves, etc. Tonight, I am stopping at the mall after work to get a couple of birthday presents and I’m planning on stopping at Yankee Candle and Bath and Body Works to pick up some fall-scented candles since I have a few coupons and I’m obviously obsessed with candles. I am also loving the pumpkin beers, specifically the Traveler variety.

This is very yummy and I highly recommend it

This is very yummy and I highly recommend it

  • Home-cooked meals

I am ALL for going out to dinner but there is something to be said for a nice home-cooked meal. Every single meal I have enjoyed this week has been home-cooked and that gives me a sense of accomplishment since I have not only saved money but I feel that I have improved my cooking skills. I will say that two of my dinners were really just bowls filled with lentils, eggs, and whatever else I could find in my fridge but I did learn how to poach eggs which was not as hard as I thought it would be without actually having an egg poacher.

Poached eggs, Brussels, lentils, and goat cheese

Poached eggs, Brussels, lentils, and goat cheese

Two eggs on a salad with lentils, cucumbers, peppers, goat cheese and tossed in salsa and plain chobani

Two eggs on a salad with lentils, cucumbers, peppers, goat cheese and tossed in salsa and plain chobani

Chicken and cheese quesadilla (w/ guac, plain chobani, & salsa) and a side of Brussels

Chicken and cheese quesadilla (w/ guac, plain chobani, & salsa) and a side of Brussels

Now this isn’t a new realization for me but I did make a long awaited trip with Dan last night and picked up some goodies that I have been dying to try. I bought dark chocolate peanut butter cups (HOLY CRAP), baked green peas, rice crackers, frozen turkey burgers, and an Italian cheddar truffle cheese that literally has changed my life. But seriously, that cheese is my new favorite thing ever. I am very excited to try the turkey burgers because they were very affordable at $2.99 for 4 of them.

So much awesome in this picture

So much awesome in this picture

I know that I am late to this party but this show is AMAZING. I’m pretty sure that anything that Shonda Rhimes creates would be great but this show is a new favorite. I am desperately trying to catch up on Netflix before the new season premieres on Sept 25th. I just started the third season and all I can say is, Olivia Pope is one of the most frustrating characters ever to exist on any TV show that I have seen! Who agrees with me?!

There has been no truer statement.

There has been no truer statement.

That is all I have for this fabulous Friday and I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Natasha and Brian’s Wedding Weekend!

9 Sep

Happy Tuesday! I would have posted yesterday but I was SO incredibly exhausted on Sunday night that I went right to bed as soon as we got home. I was still tired this morning so I can’t imagine how tough it would have been yesterday morning if I had stayed up to blog. It was a crazy weekend but it was so worth it to be able to see two of my favorite people get married. Even I as type this, I have tears in my eyes thinking about how truly happy I am for Natasha and Brian. It was a perfect ceremony and such a fun reception. Enough of the sappiness though since I should probably get to the more detailed recap of the weekend.

I thought this was such a cute touch!

I thought this was such a cute touch!

On Friday night (and Thursday too) we went to the Hebron Harvest Fair to watch our good friend Dave in the demolition derby and in the figure eight demolition derby. It was fun as it always is and Dave did very well! We sat in traffic for over an hour leaving the fair but we eventually made it to the Diamond where we had drinks with my Dad and I tried a couple of pumpkin beers which made me very excited for fall!

All ready to start!

All ready to start!

The ladies :)

The ladies 🙂

We woke up pretty early Saturday morning and I got a haircut (finally) and then we ran a few errands since the rest of our weekend was booked solid with plans. We got all fancied up for the wedding and headed off to Corpus Christi church in Wethersfield, CT. The church was so beautiful (the chandeliers were my fave) and the ceremony was so special.

There may have been a snapchat to this effect sent during the ceremony ;)

There may have been a snapchat to this effect sent during the ceremony 😉

After the ceremony, there were about three hours between that and the reception so we grabbed a quick burger at Five Guys with Dan’s parents since we were SO hungry and then we checked into the hotel. Dan, myself, and Alex enjoyed a few pre-wedding cocktails with Dave and Melissa at the hotel before we took the shuttle to the reception.

He picked out that bow tie all by himself

He picked out that bow tie all by himself

Upon arriving at the reception, my hunger started to rear it’s head again so I definitely destroyed a plate full of ALL the cheese and some meats, and veggies that were waiting for us 🙂 We hit the bar after we found our table and the night began and boy what a great night it was! We drank and ate and danced the night away with some of the best people ever. It was a perfect night and I wish I could relive it a million times over.

We clean up pretty well!

We clean up pretty well!

I was obviously in tears during the father daughter dance

I was obviously in tears during the father daughter dance

Brian and Natasha with their beautiful flower girl Alyssa (photo credit: Christin Dimock Cofiell)

Brian and Natasha with their beautiful flower girl Alyssa (photo credit: Christin Dimock Cofiell)

We took the party bus back to the hotel and I went to sleep right away as I was SO exhausted (and the open bar definitely had something to do with it also).  First thing Sunday morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the hotel with Natasha and Brian and some of our other friends. We then headed off to the Hebron Harvest Fair for our third trip but this one was very special since we were able to spend the whole day and evening with Natasha and Brian. It was a beautiful day and we felt very lucky to spend time with the newlyweds the day after their wedding.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend that I will never forget. I hope you all have a great day! I will be back tomorrow with a more food/fitness type of post 🙂

Labor Day Weekend Recap

3 Sep

I am SO happy it’s already Wednesday! Today is one of my three days of work this week, due to having a four day weekend and then I have this coming Saturday off for Natasha and Brian’s wedding (YAY!!). This Labor Day weekend was truly one of the best and I spent so much fabulous time with Dan and our friends.

Friday night:

I left work early as planned and met up with Dan and my family to tailgate for the UConn vs. BYU game. We ordered pizza (and a salad for me) from Giovanni’s and it was so much fun to just hang out and relax. I definitely enjoyed some wine before and during the game (it was a terrible game) and we bounced around between our seats and visiting with my family and with Dan’s dad who was also in attendance. We left the game a little early and headed to the Diamond where more fun times were had 🙂

It was a perfect night!

It was a perfect night!

Saturday:

I made plans earlier in the week to go to a vineyard with Dan and Carlee (one of my bridesmaids and oldest friends). We decided on Bishop’s Orchard Winery in Guilford, CT which Dan and I had previously sampled wine from at the CT Wine Fest. It was about an hour long drive but it was our first mini road-trip in our new (used) Ford Explorer so we were excited to go. The wine was terrific and it was interesting to learn that none of their wines are made with grapes but rather other fruits like apples, pears, peaches, raspberries, etc. My favorite was the Apple Raspberry Blush, of which I obviously took a bottle of home for our collection.

They have won so many awards!

They have won so many awards!

Saturday evening:

Saturday night was Brian’s stag and all of the guys were attending so we decided to have a girls night. Natasha, Alex, Melissa, Jenna, Isabel, her son Levi, and I all went to Bricco Trattoria for dinner. It was so delicious and also great to have a night out with the ladies. After dinner, we hung out at my apartment and watched some TV and enjoyed quite a bit of wine (thanks Denise!).

Levi was definitely the best part of the night :)

Levi was definitely the best part of the night 🙂

My truffle pizza with an egg added (duh)

My truffle pizza with an egg added (duh)

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Anddd chocolate cake, because why not?

Anddd chocolate cake, because why not?

Sunday:

We didn’t really do too much on Sunday but I did finally get a dress for Brian and Natasha’s wedding. I’m going to keep it a surprise for now but I will definitely share pics from the wedding after this weekend. We also had a delicious lobster dinner complete with baked potatoes, stuffed clams, and corn on the cob at Dan’s parents house (boy are we spoiled!).

It isn't Labor day without lobster

It isn’t Labor day without lobster

Monday:

I woke up on Monday ready for a good workout since I had two rest days in a row. I did a quick kickboxing workout on the Xbox and then convinced Dan to finally go for that hike I’ve been thinking about forever. We completed a little over two miles and then we decided to hit up Dondero Orchards in South Glastonbury to do some blueberry picking. They were serving blueberry fritters which neither of us had tried before so we obviously got those also. They were AMAZING. We came home to shower and prepared dinner as we had two of our favorite people, Erica and Jon, coming over for dinner. We made homemade burrito bowls (similar to Chipotle/Moes style) filled to the brim with so many toppings. They were a big hit and Dan keeps asking why we haven’t made them sooner. Dan used the blueberries that we had picked earlier in the day and made a delicious blueberry crisp. It was a perfect dinner 🙂

We actually hiked out to the place where we got engaged!

We actually hiked out to the place where we got engaged!

I recommend that you try blueberry fritters immediately. They will complete your life.

I recommend that you try blueberry fritters immediately. They will complete your life.

My burrito bowl, topped with a heaping spoonful (or two) of plain chobani.

My burrito bowl, topped with a heaping spoonful (or two) of plain chobani.

It doesn't photograph very well but SO much yum!

It doesn’t photograph very well but SO much yum!

I had yesterday off too and I did absolutely nothing but run a few errands and relax so nothing too interesting there. I hope everyone has a great week!