Tag Archives: Healthy Living

Friday the 13th

29 Oct

Last week I saw a recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala over on Eat Live Run.

I’m a huge fan of Indian food, but our homemade varieties have only turned out OK.  While we are able to hit the flavors, we somehow always end up with a much more soupy sauce then we want.  This Tikka Masala looked so good and simple compared to other recipes that I knew I had to give it a shot.  Plus, it uses the slow cooker, which means I’d get 5 whole hours of the house smelling divine!

*On a side note, I wasn’t always comfortable with the slow cooker.  I tend to freak out a little bit about fires and such when I leave the house.  I triple check my hair straightener, and even came back up from my car last week to check that I hadn’t left the burner on when I was making tea.  As you can imagine, leaving something cooking for an entire day when I’m gone kind of unsettled me.  Yes, I know they are designed for this purpose – I still didn’t like it.  Until Nick convinced me to let him make a slow cooker pulled pork last year.  When I came home and smelled the deliciousness in the hallway, I got over my slow cooker aversion.  Now I’m semi-obsessed with slow cooked meals 🙂

Anyway, back to my Tikka Masala.  I got to work prepping yesterday afternoon so Nick and I could have a delicious Friday night dinner.  You may find the full ingredient list and recipe here, on the Tasty Kitchen Blog.

First, I assembled all the ingredients.

Then I chopped up the chicken into small pieces, sprinkled it with cumin & coriander, and coated it in yogurt.

The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but I didn’t have enough so I used a combination of thighs and breasts.  Trust me, though.  Use the thighs.  They were so tender and flavorful!

Moving on…I let this mixture sit, covered, for 10 minutes while I chopped up the onions and garlic, and grated the ginger.

After the chicken had soaked up the yogurt spice mixture, I got to work browning it.

In melted butter.  I never said this was a healthy recipe!

After the chicken was browned and placed in the slow cooker, I got to work on the onions and garlic.

Onions and garlic frying in butter is one of my all time favorite kitchen smells.

That is, until I added garam masala and ginger to the mix.

Now that is one of my all time favorite kitchen smells.  Amazing!

To this mixture, I added a can of crushed tomatoes and brought to a boil.  The whole thing was then poured over the chicken, with two pierced jalapenos.  The chicken cooked on low for 5 hours.

After 5 hours, I added cream to the mixture and let it cook for another 10 minutes.  And then, we dug in!

This tikka masala was amazing.  The smell was ridiculous, the texture was perfect, and the taste was spot on.  This will definitely be making its way into our weekend recipe rotation!  The only change I would make is to spice it up a bit more – Nick and I like things hot!

We enjoyed the chicken with store-bought naan and some buttered Jasmine rice.  Paired with a bottle of wine and Friday the 13th, this was the perfect kick off to Halloween weekend!

We were in the mood for a scary movie, and I had never seen Friday the 13th before, so we decided to give it a go.  I thought it was good, but the questionable acting made it a little more humorous than scary to me.  That’s the 80’s for ya!

This Morning

I had to work today, so I was up and at ’em early this morning.  I headed over to the gym and rode the bike for 25 minutes.  I rode at a steady pace, but didn’t push myself too hard.  I didn’t want to exhaust my legs, since I’m planning a run tomorrow.  After the bike, I completed the following upper body workout.

15 reps, 3 sets each (all on gym machines) of:

Chest Press

Pectoral Fly



Shoulder Press

Tricep Push Down

Then I was out the door for my meeting.  And now that I’m done, I’m just getting to work enjoying my weekend!


Fire and Ice

28 Oct


Last night, Nick and I had a hot date…to watch one of his friends torture himself.

Let me explain.  As fans of spicy food, Nick and I started watching the Food Network show “heat seekers” a few weeks ago.  On one of the recent episodes, a pizza place here in Chicago called Bricks was featured.  Nick and I have ordered from Bricks several times, so we were intrigued to see the “Super Painful Challenge” that was highlighted.

The challenge involves eating a 10-inch pizza, topped with spicy pepperoni, jalapeno peppers, several layers of scotch bonnets, and ghost pepper sauce in 10 minutes.  Eating a 10-inch pizza alone in 10 minutes sounds tough – but scotch bonnets and ghost peppers are no joke.  

Well, Nick has a friend who loves spicy food and also can’t turn down a challenge.  Since he is in town for a while, Nick proposed the Super Painful Challenge to him and he accepted.  I couldn’t turn down spectating this event, so off we went in the freezing cold rain last night to watch Howard torture himself.

The evening started with a huge mug of Oktoberfest beer.

Nick and I ordered our usual – the Sweet Heat pizza, which includes BBQ sauce, jalapenos, bacon and chicken.

While Howard and his friend, John, got to work signing their waivers:

“Let it be known that I have undertaken this ridiculous challenge of my own free will.”

Oh, we were in for a treat!  After a few suspenseful minutes, the Super Painful pizzas arrived – from across the table you could feel the burn of the peppers.


The nice people at Bricks provided the challengers with gloves, so their hands wouldn’t fall off from touching the crazy-hot peppers.

Once they were all gloved up and ready to go, the timers were started and they were off!

Let me just make it known that I in no way understand wanting to eat something that will hurt and not taste good.  But, I did enjoy watching.

Neither Howard nor John completed the challenge, but Howard put in a valiant effort – he finished 3/4 of the pizza in the 10-minute period!  Insane.

Nick took one bite when they were done…

…and immediately started sweating and hiccupping.  It was pretty funny.

All in all, this was a very entertaining night.  What can I say?  I guess I take pleasure in other people’s pain (at least, when they actively sign up for it).

The Next Morning

This morning, thanks to the two mugs of Oktoberfest that I enjoyed, I was feeling a bitt groggy.  I just can’t hang the way I used to.

I took solace in the fact that Howard and John were most definitely feeling worse than I was, and I eventually peeled myself out of bed and took Izzie for a run.

I took a quick peek at the weather on my phone and saw temperatures in the low 40’s.  Yikes!  I bundled myself up, but was still pretty cold throughout the run.  Being outside definitely helped my cause, though, and I was feeling great as we wrapped up our 3-miler.

When I got home, I also completed the 10-lb. Slimdown XTreme Abs video.  I really enjoy this series, and my abs were burning when I was done!

As I got ready for my morning meeting, I enjoyed a bowl of oats with brown sugar and raisins, and a mug of tea.

Now I’m just powering my way through my Friday  Thursday (I have to work tomorrow morning).  See ya later!

Breaking Out of My Rut

27 Oct

The past few weeks, I have been in a lunch rut.  I never really know what I want and almost always end up settling on some sort of sandwich.  Well, today I decided to switch things up a bit – in the form of a Greek Quinoa Bowl!

To make my bowl, I cooked up a batch of quinoa according to the instructions on the package.  I then cut up one vine-ripened tomato and about 1/4 cucumber into small chunks.  I got out my favorite olive oil  and some feta and I was in business!

Once the quinoa was finished cooking, I mixed ’em all together and enjoyed a lovely new lunch!

This was a delicious bowl…although, pretty much anything with olive oil and feta is a winner in my book!

I wrapped up my lunch with a candy corn pumpkin…

I used to like these even more than regular candy corn, but this year they’re proving to be a bit sweet for my liking.  This is not a bad thing as I am now able to stick to just one 😉

Now to power through the rest of my Thursday!


27 Oct

It is rainy, rainy, rainy here in Chicago today.  Yuck!  I guess I’ll just count my blessings that it’s not snow yet…

Anyway, this morning I focused on strength training and completed the following workout (15 reps, 3 sets each):

Superset 1: side shoulder raises, bicep curls

Superset 2: upright rows, tricep dips

Superset 3: deadlifts, front shoulder raises

Superset 4: squats, resistance band side steps

Superset 5: calf lifts, lunges

Superset 6: weighted bridges, 1-minute plank holds

I broke a bit of a sweat and felt good at the end of this workout!  I kept breakfast nice and simple.

A bowl of raisin bran crunch with chia seeds and almond milk.

I love how the chia seeds soak up the milk in a bowl of cereal and give it some extra “bulk”.  I especially love that texture change when raisins are in the mix, so this is one of my favorite simple breakfasts!

After breakfast I headed straight into my new home office and got to work.  One of my two coworkers decided to join me right away.

This guy loves sitting on my hand when I’m working.  You wouldn’t get this in an office!


27 Oct

As I mentioned previously, I had two late appointments tonight.  One was at a client’s house, and one is a phone call that I am currently awaiting.  Since I knew I wasn’t going to have time to eat until around 9:00, I decided to make a to-go dinner.  I’ve never been a huge fan of late night meals, so even though my dinner was enjoyed in the car, it worked better for me.

My go-to to-go meal is a sandwich of some sort.  Today I took it back to breakfast and decided to bookend my day with a peanut butter and banana sandwich on a cinnamon raisin bagel thin.

I also had a sweet and salty bar.

The dinner of champions!  Honestly, I don’t really enjoy these on-the-go dinners.  It doesn’t suit me.  But it doesn’t happen too often and it’s better than the alternative, so I’ll deal.  Luckily for me, Nick and I have a fun dinner planned for tomorrow night, and a delicious one planned for Friday!  I already can’t wait 🙂

On to other topics…

When I returned home this evening, Izzie was nowhere to be found.  Normally she stays on the couch, but I had forgotten (purposely) to put up the gate to our bedroom and figured she was probably making herself right at home on our bed.  But she wasn’t there either.  No – she was on her bed in our bedroom (the princess has two beds; one for the living room and one for the bedroom).  This is really strange for her, and it was even more srtange that she barely moved when I came in…

Anyway, earlier in the day I washed our sheets, so our comforter was on the floor in the bedroom.  I decided that, since I had a few minutes, I’d get that into the wash as well so I pulled the duvet out of the cover and picked it up.  And…out popped a shoe.

This shoe was by the front door when I left earlier.  Immediately as it hit the floor, Izzie assumed “caught dog” pose.  I found my culprit.

Anyone who says dogs don’t think has never seen a preemptively guilty dog.  Her strange behavior now makes perfect sense.  She pulled my shoe into the bedroom, presumably chewed on it for a while, realized she’d get in trouble and buried it, and assumed an innocent position on her bed.  Gotta love her!

Now I’m off to have my final call of the day – phew!  Thankfully I’ve got a Modern Family to look forward to afterward!

It’s 5 O’clock in the Morning…

26 Oct

This morning was an early one due to another morning appointment.  My weeks pretty much flip flop, with one week being chock full of early mornings and the next being all late nights.

As I was thinking up a title for this early morning post, the new T-Pain/Lily Allen song popped into my head…and now it’s stuck there.  Great!

Anywho, I had a much easier time getting out of bed this morning than I did yesterday, and got my butt over to the gym by 6.  I hopped on the treadmill and completed the following workout.

Can you tell I was starting to get a little antsy by the end there?!  Normally I really like this workout, but today it was a little less engaging than usual…hopefully that’s just a fluke since I’ve got many months of treadmill runs ahead of me!  Once I was done, I hurried home to take out Izzie and get some breakfast in me.  Today’s breakfast was nice and simple.

A bowl of Honey Sunshine with sliced bananas and almond milk.

Since I had some banana leftover (I had more leftover than you see here, but I snacked on it while I was slicing), I spread some peanut butter on top.  I love the combination of peanut butter and banana.  It’s one of the best pb combos, in my opinion.

I did not reserve the knife for its beauty in the above photo.  I kept it on hand so I could share some nut butter with this little lady.

How can I say no to those eyes?  I’ll tell you how.  I can’t.

Actually, I really do need to get better about this.  Izzie’s begging has been out of control recently.  A few months ago we put her on a new diet, and though it may not appear this way from my blog posts, part of the change involved cutting way back on the people-food-sharing.

As a behavior analyst, I am constantly preaching that behaviors that are intermittently reinforced are the hardest to reduce.  It’s always worth a shot!  So, since I am basically setting Izzie up to be the most annoying dog ever by intermittently reinforcing her begging, I came up with a plan.

My plan is to give Izzie scraps on the weekends, as a special treat.  I will use a training clicker prior to weekend meals to signal to her that her “reinforcement” will be available.  Clicker = mom will give you food; No Clicker = no food.  Got it, Iz?

If I can stick to it, I think this will be an interesting and fun experiment!

Kind of like Jim Halpert’s:


Today I’ve actually got two evening meetings as well so I’m off to get some stuff done before heading back out the door!


26 Oct

Today was a particularly beautiful day here in Chicago.  It reached the mid-70s and the sun was bright!  The only problem with this sudden increase in temperature is that I’m pretty sure there was also some sort of atmospheric pressure change.  I woke up today to a pounding head and could not drag myself out of bed for an early morning gym trip.

I opted to sleep in a bit and ate a homemade chia bar on my way out to my first appointment.  I had a full day today, and lunch was enjoyed at Panera.  I hade a cup of french onion soup that was delicious!


I did not take this photo, but given the consistency at Panera, you get the drift.

When I got home I walked Izzie and did the 40-minute yoga video that is part of the XTreme Slimdown Challenge.  I really enjoyed this video – it was difficult, but not overly so, and focused a lot on stretching and breathing – which my head appreciated!  I had the window wide open while I was working out which felt great.  I’m pretending it’s going to stay like this forever…

For dinner tonight, I whipped up some crispy chicken with butternut squash risotto.  Nick and I have had a lone butternut squash sitting around for a while, and haven’t come up with a good way to use it.  I saw a recipe for a mock risotto on  Peanut Butter Fingers the other day and was inspired!

I opted to use a basic risotto recipe from Giada’s Everyday Italian cookbook and added in the butternut squash.

The Recipe

Heat 2 cups vegetable broth to simmer, and set aside – keeping warm.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter and toss in 1/2 white onion, chopped.  Saute until onion is soft.

Toss in 3/4 cup arborio rice and coat with butter.

Pour in 1/4 cup dry white whine and stir until absorbed.

Dump in peeled and cubed butternut squash.

Pour in the simmering broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until absorbed – about 20 minutes total.

When done, grate parmesan cheese over the top and stir.

The verdict?  Fabulous!

Giada’s recipe for basic risotto is a winner anyway, and the addition of the butternut squash really added a nice fall flavor.  We’ll definitley keep this one in the recipe rotation.

On another note – every single time I make, or even think of making, risotto I immediately think of Billy Madison – and I laugh.


I am well aware that risotto and Phil Rizzuto are two very different things.  But, seriously?  I love me some rirroto.  😉