What’s Under Your Desk?

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Between the after Easter candy that was on sale this month and the slow progression of warm weather this month, my pants were getting tight.  I’ve been reading reviews on under the desk exercise bikes for the past few weeks and making notes.  They range in price from 20.00 up to 200.00.  (Obviously way less expensive than a bunch of new pants.)  When I started my search for one of these, I was first considering one for around 100.00.  The more reviews that I read, I found that there wasn’t a huge difference between all of the options.  The 20.00 one was clearly not going to handle the work load I intended to give it, but the 100.00 one seemed to have the same cons as the lesser expensive models.  I was looking for a really low profile to accommodate the height of my desk, but not looking for any fancy electronics that might fail.  I ended up purchasing the Stamina Instride Cycle on Amazon for a little over 35.00.  It came in today and I love it.  I’ve finally stopped biking due to the fact that my knee was starting to hurt and my dress kept riding up too far.  I’ll have to rethink my work attire-Maybe I’ll just bring a throw blanket.  In fact, that will most likely work best.  The guys I work with pump the air conditioner in the summer and I’m always freezing.

So my thoughts thus far on just 2 hours of use:

     Even the lowest profile version still doesn’t allow me to sit with my chair pulled all the way up to my desk-slight bummer

     My chair doesn’t have locking casters, so I have to keep at least one hand solid on my desk to keep stationary-dang

     I’m amazed that I was able to do this easily for two hours while being productive at my job

    The resistance can be adjusted, but I didn’t make it too hard-I’m going for more repetition

     Even with the rubber feet, I had to make sure they were on the carpet so it would not slide-Not a problem

All in all, I’m excited to have a way to do a little more during the sedentary part of my day.  I’m pretty thrilled that I only spent 35.00 for this much happiness.  This is the link to the one that I purchased:

http://www.amazon.com/Stamina-15-0120-InStride-Cycle-XL/dp/B000PEM63K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430423233&sr=8-1&keywords=stamina+instride+XL

So what’s under your desk?  Sassy answers welcome.  🙂

Pecan Crusted Chicken over Parmesan Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach, Mushrooms & Pecans

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My excuse for making this yesterday was the monsoon like weather.  I couldn’t fathom leaving my house to shop or dine anywhere, but at the same time the rain made me feel the need for comfort food.  I racked my brain looking for inspiration.  I thought about the lonely pecans in my freezer, the potatoes on the verge of sprouting scary things, the ridiculous amount of fresh parmesan cheese that I had purchased with the hopes of making alfredo sauce, the fresh spinach wilting in the produce drawer of the fridge and lastly, the atrocity of what was happening to the mushrooms in there.  So in great hopes of being frugal and brilliant at the same time, I pulled it all out on the counter and thought about some of my favorite things;  mashed potatoes, pecan crusted chicken, balsamic glaze…and this happened.

Ingredients:

For the Pecan Crusted Chicken

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
3 small Chicken breasts-de-boned and skin removed
2 eggs
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix the flour, salt, pepper and pecans in one dish and whisk the egg in another dish.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture and then one more time in the flour mixture.  Place chicken on a greased baking pan or a silicone baking mat.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Make sure that these are cooked through-it will depend on the size of the chicken breast as to the baking time. Remove and set aside until you’re ready to serve.

For the Parmesan Mashed Potatoes:

3 large Yukon potatoes-peeled and cubed
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup fresh Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup half and half

Boil potatoes on high until tender.  Drain and add all of the ingredients together back into the pan.  I use a hand-mixer, but a potato masher works just as great.  Mix until lumps are gone and set aside.  You may want to add some salt and pepper.  Again, it depends on the size of your potatoes.

For the sautéed Spinach, Mushrooms and Pecans:

8 ounces mushrooms cleaned and sliced
1/2 lemon
4 large garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup Parmesan
4 cups Fresh spinach-clean and de-stemmed
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp chopped green onions
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil

Add butter, olive oil and pecans to a skillet on medium high heat.  Make sure the pecans are thoroughly coated with the butter and oil.  Add mushrooms and spinach and cover the pan and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.  Be mindful not to burn the pecans.  Stir often.  Once the spinach is wilted, add the green onions and garlic cloves and stir.  Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  You may need to add a tablespoon of water if the pan gets to dry.  At this point, uncover and squeeze lemon into the pan and stir.  Add the cheese and stir.  The cheese will stick to the pan, so be ready to serve before adding the cheese.

To serve:

Drizzle balsamic glaze onto your dish first.  Place one large spoonful of potatoes in the center.  Top potatoes with spinach mixture and top with chicken.  Sprinkle top with green onions and serve.

Tip:  Make extra potatoes.  You’re going to want them.  🙂

Sour Cream, Blueberry & Lemon Pancakes

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Have any of you been to homelovestories.com?  It’s a collaboration with theinpiredroom.com that I love and follow.   Their Instagram account is @homelovestories.  Yesterday they posted a fun idea. Their idea was to have a virtual block party where everyone posts their breakfast this weekend to the same account. The idea is for people to share their breakfast recipes and pictures with the hashtag #whatsforbreakfast.  Of course, I wanted to be a part of the block party.  I’m not one to miss a party. 
I’m still terrible with my food pictures.  (Mostly because I’m hungry and just want to eat whatever I make as soon as it’s ready).  One day I’ll figure that part out-maybe.  Anyway, this is what I made for the virtual block party this morning.  I hope you like them!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. sour cream

Sift and mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Make a well or hole in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in the center and then gently stir together.  You don’t want to over-mix.  By just incorporating and not over-mixing, you will keep your pancakes light and fluffy.  Heat a large skillet to medium high heat and ladle into pan 3-4 pancakes at a time.  It usually takes about 1-2 minutes per side.  You will know it’s time to flip when the center starts to bubble.  I coat the pan with coconut oil to cook them in, but canola and vegetable oil work fine, too.  Serve immediately with your choice of syrup.  I always heat my syrup up first.  These would be really nice and much prettier if you sifted powdered sugar on top and added some fresh blueberries.  In my dream world, I did that.  Enjoy! I hope you enjoyed the block party.  🙂

Roasted Garlic & Blue Cheese Potato Salad

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Stages of my life as a cook have been interesting.  Just like the food trends that seem to change each season, so does my interest in what I like to cook.  When I first started cooking there were a few things that were staple in my kitchen. Fresh garlic and a garlic press were a part of almost every meal preparation.  I remember desiring a garlic baker, but somehow never purchased one.  Many years later I find myself still enamored with garlic, but it’s been a long time since I used a garlic press.  Today I decided to roast some baby, red potatoes and throw in some garlic cloves, unpeeled.  Inspiration coming from the numerous potato salads being featured on almost every newsstand and food show.  Tis’ the season for potato salad.  This recipe is spicy.  If you like blue cheese and potato salad, I think you’ll find this to be yummy.  I did.  I’m grilling chicken tonight to go with it and I put together a fruit salad, too.  Happy Saturday!

Ingredients:

2.5 pounds of washed, peeled and cubed baby red potatoes
3 large cloves of garlic unpeeled
1/4 cup of Mayo
2 1/2 ounces of blue cheese
2 celery stalks washed and finely chopped
1 tbsp. chopped green onion
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 tbsp.  Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Toss potatoes and oil together in a bowl.  Sprinkle in a generous amount of salt and pepper and stir.  Pour potatoes onto a baking sheet.  Add the garlic cloves to the pan and bake for 30 minutes.

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Squeeze garlic meat into a bowl and mix with the mayo.  Add chopped celery and most of the green onions.  Save a teaspoon of the green onions for garnish.  Add potatoes to mixture and fold it all together.  Crumble the blue cheese into the potatoes and stir.  Sprinkle the green onions that are left on top and either serve warm or chill for later.

4 servings

Avocado, Corn, Cherry Tomato & Black Bean Salad

imageHello Friday night.  I didn’t work today and spent most of the day re-painting the media room.  I was tired, but I wanted to make a good meal, worthy of a Friday night at home. A good burger can really do the trick at my house, but I couldn’t handle the normal side of sweet potato fries, or any other potato side I would normally do.  I mean, what is it with the potato and burger combo?  If it’s not a potato chip, its french fries, or sweet potato fries or potato salad?  And don’t get me wrong, they are all worthy combinations.  I just wanted something different tonight, maybe a little more nutrition to go with my burger.  I’m no nutritionist, so I’m not sure of how one would react to my substitute or even that I was having a burger.  Oh well.  I chose to make one of my favorite summer sides and I hope you’ll try it this spring as one of your side dishes.

Avocado, Corn, Cherry Tomato & Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:

9 ounces fresh cherry tomatoes-washed and cut in half
1-15 ounce can black beans-rinsed and drained
1-15 ounce can corn-rinsed and drained

1 avocado peeled and cubed

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro or 1 teaspoon dry cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together and refrigerate for ten minutes before serving.  Bon Appetit!

Vanilla Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate Shavings and Sherry

icecreamI rarely buy ice cream.  If it is in my freezer I will undoubtedly scoop it into a bowl every night until the container is empty.  Tonight I had an excuse to pick up ice cream at the store.  One of the blogs that I follow, http://www.pleasebringmemywine.com  wrote a post on some incredible wine and dessert pairings.  To be honest, it is somewhat my fault that he wrote this great post.  He harmlessly tweeted the prior day about all of the half-price candy that would be everywhere after the Easter holiday.  Of course, I had to ask what his pairing suggestions would be for the abundance of candy, and he did not disappoint.  My taste buds spent most of today imagining the combinations that he had suggested.  The one that I could not resist was the simple pairing of vanilla ice cream with chocolate shavings and sherry.  Upon leaving work tonight my taste buds commandeered the direction my vehicle was taking.  Without memory of how I had arrived there, I found myself at the local grocery store staring at different brands of vanilla ice cream. Without any self-control I found myself paying for a carton of vanilla ice cream. Not too long after this I was in my kitchen scooping ice cream into a small sundae glass that was my mother’s and topping it with dark chocolate shavings.  The final step was drizzling the sherry on top.  Moments later I was savoring the decadence of this lovely treat.  Now I’m faced with the knowledge that I have a container of ice cream in my freezer, and more so, that I can put together this concoction again tomorrow.  I’m not sad, although my hips might be.  🙂

What To Drink With The Cut Price Easter Eggs?

So I couldn’t resist asking for suggestions…You had to suggest icecream and chocolate shavings. I’m in so much trouble. 🙂

PLEASE BRING ME MY WINE

easter eggs

It’s that most dangerous of weeks of the year, it’s the week after Easter. All the Easter Eggs are on at bargain prices in the supermarkets to get rid of the stock. I try, god help me I try, to keep my chocoholic ways at bay all year, but I’m only human. Easter Eggs for 50p a pop? I’m not made of stone!

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Peachy Keen Quesadillas

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My sous chef tonight was my nephew Jeremiah.  We had so much fun creating these quesadillas.  We omitted the jalapeno’s on his dinner.  He’s not so much into the “spicy” stuff like his aunt Shanny.  These were really fast and simple and not so bad for you.  I hope you’ll try them out.

Peachy Keen Quesadillas
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 medium-sized rotisserie chicken, roughly chopped (I only used the white meat and removed the skin)
1 lime
1 small jalapeno finely chopped
4 flour tortillas (corn tortillas are a nice substitute if you have gluten allergies)
4 tsp honey
8 ounce shredded pepper jack cheese
4 tsp peach preserves +
2 heaping tbsp. peach preserves (for sauce)
1/4 cup light sour cream
4 tsp canola oil or coconut oil
1 avocado

Blend sour cream, 2 tbsp. of peach preserves and jalapeno together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet to medium high heat with 1 tsp of oil for each tortilla.  While heating pan, spread 1 teaspoon of peach preserves on each flour tortilla.  Top preserves with 1 tsp of honey each.  Divide chicken among the flour tortillas.  Divide the cheese evenly on top of the chicken and squeeze a little lime juice on each one.  Fold tortilla over and cook for about 1 minute on each side.  You are only trying to melt the cheese through.  Chicken is already cooked.  Once you have heated all 4, cut into triangles and serve with dipping sauce and a slice of avocado.

I served Spanish rice and black beans on the side and added a dollop of the sour cream sauce on top of the beans.

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After a long Monday at work today, it was fun to cook with my nephew. Luckily, he seemed to agree. 🙂

My Spirit Breathes

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Overwhelmed.  Stressed.  Heavy.  We all have our personal struggles.  Finding time to replenish our souls and our bodies isn’t always at the top of our “to-do” lists.

My sister Kelly and I are both planners.  We make a lot of lists.  We make a lot of plans.  We get this from our mom.  She is the queen of the Post-it notes. Kelly is way better at her time management than I am.  She is also better with her coping skills.  Mine usually requires the help of some type of vice, i.e;  wine, exercise, food.

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This past weekend, I celebrated Easter with my parents, my husband, Kelly and her husband and kids.  It’s our family tradition to celebrate at the beach.  Friday night my mom offered to watch our dogs and Kelly’s children.  This allowed my husband and I to go out for a nice dinner with my sister and her husband.  It was yummy.  Our favorite dinner spot is The Icehouse.  We’ve been going for years.  It never disappoints.

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Easter weekend is traditionally the start of our beach time.  It’s normally still too cold to get in the water, but it has become a weekend to enjoy time together and prep the cottage for the coming months of fun.  My husband and I were scheduled to pick up our boat.  After twenty-five years, our boat motor took its last breath and we had to replace it.  I’m hoping we have at least as long with the new one.

Some of our good friends from home were staying in the same quaint beach town and my sister and I  met up with them late morning.  Their kids had been given a new sailboat and my sister had offered to instruct them on how to rig the new boat.  I was just there to enjoy the company.  Kelly is a great teacher.  She was a sailing instructor in her late teens.  She’s cool like that.  I love sailing.

Saturday afternoon we played Bocce ball by the water with everyone.  My nephew Jeremiah was on my team and his four-year old skills were impressive. My dad finally joined us late in the afternoon and my sister and I cooked a big dinner.  We had picked up shrimp from Clyde’s Seafood, our local fish monger and a few steaks for the guys.  We kept it simple.  A shrimp boil is always great.  We had salad and bread on the side.

After dinner our parents offered to watch the dogs and the kids again!  Our lack of cable TV at the cottage is rarely a problem, except when there’s a big game on.  My sister and brother-in-law offered to drive, too.  Score!  My husband and I always love going out with them.  We went to the local Irish pub downtown so we could watch the game.  To our delight, they had a band playing, too.  It was a perfect combo.  There was a large flat screen with the game playing and the music and beer were great!

While enjoying our libations, my sister and I decided that we wanted to go to the Easter sunrise service the following morning.  I don’t think our husbands believed us as we continued drinking and giggling.  The next morning when my alarm went off, I had a brief moment when I thought better of going, but quickly rallied.  I brushed my teeth and hair and put on some flip-flops and a jacket.  I met my sister downstairs and we both gave each other high fives for getting up.  We quietly exited the house with a soft drink to share.  (We were in need of a little fast caffeine).  Moments later we were parking across the street from the downtown park.  It’s on the water.  The park was packed with people of all ages.  There was an unusual quiet for such a large gathering.

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The sun peeked over the horizon and the pastor began his service.  The service started with a prayer and then instructions for us to hug our neighbors.  Songs were sung and prayers were said as the sun kept rising.  At the close of the service, the pastor invited everyone to join them at their local church for a free breakfast.  We couldn’t make it to that, but the offer was appreciated.

We were back at the cottage by 7:30 and the Easter bunny had visited already.  The kiddos were happily indulging in candy and my mother was cooking breakfast.

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I felt renewed as I looked around at my family.  The dogs were happily playing with each other and everyone seemed content.  I breathed in deeply and allowed myself to let things go.  This is the stuff that makes life amazing.  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  My spirit breathes.

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The Brick House

imageLast night as I walked out of work, I was overwhelmed with a sense of relief as the warm air and sunlight hit me.  It was such a powerful moment.  I couldn’t help but speed a little to get home.  The windows were down and all I could think of was getting home and taking a walk to enjoy more of it.  I didn’t even bother to put on sneakers, my ballet flats would be sufficient.  Mr. Sugarbears and I set out on our walk and we both seemed lighter and happier.  Although we didn’t see our usual neighborhood friends, we did see a lot of squirrels and birds enjoying the park.  There were children playing on the rocks in the park’s stream and everyone seemed genuinely happy.  Ahhhhhh-Thank you spring for showing your face a little more.  In celebration of the weather, I decided to make a drink after my walk.  If this drink exists already, I’m unaware of it.  It’s similar to a Woo Woo.  It was delicious and I hope you’ll make one for yourself.  I’m naming it after my sweet friend Maria.  She first commented on my blog a couple of years ago because I had posted a red drink and she loves them. Here’s to you Maria.

The Brick House

2 parts Vodka-I used Tito’s

1 part Triple Sec

2 parts fresh OJ

3 parts Cranberry-Pomegranate Juice

1 Lime

1 tsp. Sugar

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Slice a wedge of lime and run it around the edge of your glass.  Pour a little sugar on a plate and turn your glass upside down and place it on the sugared plate to make a sugar rim. Pour cocktail into glass. I used a stemless wine glass so I could drink all of this.  I would suggest pouring this into two martini glasses.  I didn’t realize how strong this was going to be as one cocktail. (Not that I’m complaining).  It made my time sitting in the backyard even better.  Enjoy!

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And here is a link to the marvelous Maria’s site: brickhousechick.com

And for the original red drink recipe that enticed Maria to check out my blog:  https://mrsugarbears.com/2013/04/30/the-red-vixen/