Thursday, June 27, 2013

Easy Bean and Cous Cous Salad

Sara came over for dinner last night and we had an amazing, healthy meal. Seriously, it was so simple, but we couldn't stop shoveling it in! I want to share the recipe with you, but bear with me because I kinda just threw stuff together last night.


1 5.8 oz pkg cous cous, cooked to package directions and cooled ( I used Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil. Feel free to buy in bulk and cook accordingly!)
1 can black beans
1 can garbanzo beans
2oz feta cheese
1/2 cucumber, quartered and sliced
fresh parsley

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all salad ingredients together. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients and pour 3/4 over the salad. Just before serving pour the rest of the vinaigrette on the salad (it gets absorbed and I like to have a bit of it coating the salad!).

This was awesome served alongside our grilled chicken, but I can see it going with just about anything! I think it would be great with a lot of other veggies thrown in (especially tomatoes).

 Excuse the blurry iPhone pic!

Since we ate such a healthy meal, we of course needed some dessert. Enter Sally's S'more Cookie Bars.  These were ah-maz-ing. Seriously. It took a lot of control not to eat half the pan last night.

When (notice I said when, not if?) I make these again, I think I will make more of the cookie dough part. Sally says there wont be enough to cover the top completely, but it was my favorite part of the cookies so I think I want a full layer. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pittsburgh in 27

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Sara and I went to Pittsburgh this weekend. The main motivation for our trip was shopping at IKEA (can you believe this is the closest one to us!?) but we also hit up a couple other fun places during our trip. I think the best way to share is to start at the top and run you through our crazy 27 hours! Beware, there are lots of photos in this post!

We left around 3pm and drove the 3 hours to Pittsburgh. It was a pretty easy drive, and the only part that got a little crazy was once we got into the city the traffic got heavy. We found our hotel after a confusing few minutes with the GPS (when streets are overtop one another the GPS gets confused!) and then we went off in search of somewhere to eat dinner.

Enter Rock Bottom! 

If you've never been to a Rock Bottom, its a restaurant/Brewery with lots of fun meal and appetizer options and lot of beers to compliment your meal.

I ended up settling on lobster and shrimp enchiladas, which came with a side of beans and rice. My favorite part was the blue corn tortillas- so good!

Sara had their Chicken Mac and Cheese, which was served with breadcrumbs on top and a side of crusty bread.

After that filling meal, we set about to walk around the mall/shopping plaza that the restaurant was in. Right next door was a small building that was painted black and said "Sing Sing" on the front. We had no idea what it was, so Sara went into find out. It turns out that Sing Sing is a dueling piano bar where different musicians take turns in pairs playing requests and sometimes hauling people from the audience up on stage. It is a really popular venue for Bachelorette parties and birthdays apparently. The show runs from 8pm-2am, but we only stayed until midnight as we were tired from the drive. 

While the show was a little vulgar at times, other than that we had a great time. The musicians were really talented, playing and singing dozens of songs from memory. If you are in the Pittsburgh area and enjoy music, I highly recommend this place!

Sunday morning we took our time getting ready and heading down for our continental breakfast. The first thing we planned to do was the Pittsburgh Public Market, which didn't open until 10am. We checked out of our hotel and drove to a different part of the city for the market, which ended up being a little confusing to find. After wandering around a bit we found a bunch of vendors outside a strip of shops, so we wandered through and checked out the displays. There were fresh fruit and vegetable vendors, a stand giving away free samples of hummus and pretzels, lots of new age stores, funky clothes and accessories, and lots of Pittsburgh pirates gear. 

We realized when we had hit all the places and walked back to my car that the ACTUAL market was in the loading docks/storage strip we had parked in front of. We felt a little silly, but all the garage like doors were closed and we had no idea it was inside the warehouse looking building. Oh well!

Next we hit up a little bookstore/cafe called The Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore and Cafe. It was a neat little place, but we didn't end up buying anything. 

We also stopped at a Yarn Store called Natural Stitches for a few minutes, and I bought some yarn for an upcoming Christmas gift.

Pittsburgh is a really interesting city with neat architecture. I didn't snap a lot of photos since I drove, but here is one I caught while we were sitting at a red light. 

The rest of our agenda took us out of the city, so before we left we drove up to two of the overlooks and got some great photos of the city.

After our little touristy stop at the overlooks we headed out of town toward IKEA. Our first stop however was sone lunch in the form of Coldstone ice cream :) 

I promise, Sara had ice cream too! It made a great lunch.

Then we headed to IKEA! Here were a couple of things that caught my eye:

I didn't end up buying much, but it was great to be able to go and see a lot of the items in person. I think either an online order or another trip to Pittsburgh is in order though!

After wandering around IKEA for a while (the building is huge!) we took our finds to the car, said goodbye to Pittsburgh, and headed home. All in all it was a great trip! Sara is an awesome person to road trip with, and even though it was short trip we packed a lot in. Yay for good friends and fun trips!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Menu Monday

This past weekend was a super busy whirlwind, but it was awesome! I'm hoping to do a post tomorrow with some pics to share the craziness! But for today, I have a menu to share :)

Monday: lunch- tuna salad with crackers, apple, and double stuff oreos
Dinner- I am going to my Dad's softball game right after work, so I'm grabbing McDonalds on the way. Trying to make healthier choices and going with a fruit parfait and chicken nuggets!

Tuesday: lunch- bacon and avocado salad
Dinner- Mom and I are shopping, so we will probably grab something while we are out

Wednesday: lunch- going to try avocado egg salad and a plum
Dinner- grilled chicken and garbanzo bean salad with Sara (I'm winging the salad, so if we like it I will share the recipe!)

Thursday: lunch- skinny poolside dip with crackers
Dinner- chicken quesadilla

Friday and Saturday are going to be pretty wishy washy. The hubs is coming home either Friday night or sometime Saturday, so it is hard to plan when he will be home and what we will eat once he is. I'm just not going to plan anything, and if he isn't home Friday night, it will be a cereal for dinner night! I'm also planning on heading to the Farmers market about 30 minutes from me Saturday morning, so if he isn't around I can always grab lunch there. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Random Tacos

Last night's meal really came together well even though we didn't have a hard and fast plan. We knew we wanted tacos, and we decided we would use chicken as our meat. After that, we figured we would have lots of veggies leftover from our salads, and since both Sara and I eat tacos/Mexican inspired food fairly often we figured we would have the rest on hand.

Sara threw the chicken in the crock pot with some salsa before going to work and it turned out awesome! Really juicy and full of flavor- though not terribly photogenic :)

We made an assembly line of toppings that included leftover avocado ranch dressing, avocados, lettuce, greek yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, tomato, green chili sauce, and black beans.

Sara is the food stylist of the two of us- look at how nice her tacos look!

Mine on the other hand look a bit more... rustic ;)

Both sets of tacos tasted awesome, despite their appearances. Just another great reminder that tacos are great for using up leftovers!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WIP Wednesday and Chopped Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing

I don't have a lot of knitting to share with you, mostly because the blanket it getting large enough that progress doesn't show well, and the only other thing I have worked on is this sweater for Diesel. 

It is hard to tell from this photo, but I just made the little holes for his front legs, so its coming along nicely. 

While this post is pretty light on the knitting content, I wanted to share my dinner with you, as promised. In case you missed my post on Monday, my friend Sara and I are making dinners and eating together this week since both our husbands are MIA. Last night's menu was chopped salad (loosely based on this recipe) and avocado ranch dressing. We also made mini fruit pizzas with cream cheese frosting.

Sara mixed up the dough for the cookies while I started chopping veggies for our salads.

Then she moved onto chopping the fruit for the pizzas while the cookies baked in the oven.


The dressing was super simple to make- just throw all the ingredients in the blender and let er rip! We ended up adding more avocado as the recipe only called for 1/2 of an avocado and we didn't want to waste the other half. Plus we really like avocado :)

The finished salads were amazing. Instead of making these a true chopped salad where everything, including the dressing, gets thrown into the bowl, we assembled on our plates so that we could keep leftovers easier. Here is my salad- SO yummy! We added goat cheese to our salads because 1. every salad needs cheese and 2. Sara had never had goat cheese before! It was a great addition.

After we had eaten our salads (and watched the beginning of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) we assembled our mini fruit pizzas. I think they turned out great!

We actually ended up taking dessert up to Sara's parents house because we were celebrating Sara's mom's birthday, so this big cookie is her birthday treat!

 After the birthday celebration Sara and I headed back to her house to finish watching Harry Potter (we didn't end up finishing it, but we will tonight!) and we picked up Diesel on the way. This is Ruger (Sara's dog) and Diesel sharing a water dish. They are best friends! Most of the time anyway ;)

The whole meal was a success, but the dressing definitely took the cake for me, with the cookies coming in a close second. Tonight's meal is shredded chicken tacos, so watch for a recap tomorrow!

This post is linked up with Ginny's Yarn Along

Monday, June 17, 2013

Special Menu Monday

As I hinted on Saturday, this week's menu is going to be a little different. The hubs is away for training, so I'm left to my own devices for menu planning and food making. Our good friends Kris and Sara are in a similar situation; Kris is working nights this week, and Sara is on her own for dinner. We decided instead of trying to feed ourselves healthy food (and not resorting to freezer pizza!) that Sara and I would combine forces and eat dinners together this week! With the exception of Monday (since I work late it wasn't practical for us to eat together) we will be making and eating our dinners together :)

Here is the run down for how the week will go:

Monday: lunch- crackers and cheese, leftover fried rice, apple
dinner- tater tots and roasted mushrooms and broccoli

Tuesday: lunch- tuna salad with crackers and peaches
dinner- Chopped salads loosely based on this recipe with creamy avocado dressing

Wednesday: lunch- trying a new Campbells soup (more on that when I try it!) with an apple and granola bar
dinner- shredded chicken tacos

Thursday: lunch- either leftovers from Wednesday or Subway

Friday: lunch- either leftovers or deli meat roll up with popcorn
dinner- Homemade Big Macs with curly fries 

It is hard to pick which meal I am most excited about! Most of these are Pinterest Finds or inspired from magazine recipes, so it will be really fun to try out new recipes. We are also planning to make mini fruit pizzas Tuesday, and eating them for desserts for the week (or as long as they last!)

Sara and I discovered it was relatively easy to have this come together. Last week we started pinning ideas, and Friday night we got together and banged out a menu and shopping list (ingredients minus things we had on hand). We shopped Saturday morning and put all the food for our combined meals together (and separate from our personal shopping) and just had the cashier split the bill in half for us. It was so easy! Since Sara works slightly longer hours than I do, and her dog is still a puppy, we decided to eat at her house so she could easily accomodate letting him out and such. I will definitely be reporting back on how it goes!

I went to a family wedding Saturday that was really beautiful! It was at the Avanti Mansion in Buffalo, which is a really nice facility for weddings. I took quite a few photos since the hubs couldn't attend, but I will only share a few here. 

The food at the wedding was impressive. From left to right is turkey stuffed with dressing, carrots and green beans, potatoes  and steak. I couldn't quite finish my plate, but it tasted pretty good! There was also cake, made by the mother of the bride (also the same person who made our wedding cake!) that was delicious, but I ate it too fast to take a photo :)

The table decorations were really pretty, and included these flowers in vases filled with water and a light at the bottom.

Toward the end of the night my photos didn't turn out well because they turned the lights down and had  special lighting for the dance floor. It was a nice evening even though I was my own date ;)

Can't wait to try our salad and fruit pizzas tomorrow!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pinterest Finds on a Saturday

Yesterday was a bit of a crazy day, with work, dinner, shipping the hubs off to Annual Training, and then menu planning with Sara, who is my dinner buddy for next week! Our husbands wont be around for dinners during the week, so we decided that instead of trying to cook for one (or having freezer meals all week) we would just make our meals together! I'll share our menu on Monday :)

Anyway, I have some great pins for you this week!

We are big fans of banana bread in our house, but sometimes I get bored of making loaf after loaf. Enter banana bread pancakes!

Cinnamon buns are a guilty pleasure of mine. If I am having a bad day, sometimes all I need is a Tim Hortons glazed cinnamon roll. I don't appreciate the calorie counts on those bad boys though! Which is why I'm glad I found this recipe for mini (no yeast) cinnamon buns!

Carrot cake isn't one of my favorites- actually cake in general is not high on my favorite desserts list. However, this recipe for Magic Carrot Cake Bars sounds so good I can't wait to have the occasion to try it!

Ok, so this next recipe is a sneak peak into my special menu for next week. I don't eat much McDonalds, but about once a year I get a Big Mac just for the sake of it. I was really excited to find this recipe for an at home version that is better for you!

This next pin is something that marries two of my favorite savory ingredients: mushrooms and pesto. This Four Mushroom Pesto Pizza looks like something that would jazz up the usual pizza night!

And that's it for this week! I'm off to a family wedding, then celebrating Father's Day tomorrow with my Dad (who else?)