Food, family, and fitness... all with a bit of style.

Weekend Wrap Up.....Last Weekend in January

I needed this weekend so bad! After being gone last weekend and fighting a cold all week I was so ready for some downtime and catching up! E&L had big plans for a sleepover at my parents on Friday night and they went to see Disney on Ice on Saturday with my Mom & sister.
They had a great time!!
We had plans to go cross country skiing on Friday night with some friends, but we did not have enough snow and the trails were closed. It's not something you think is January! So Paul & I settled on a much needed night in. I made dinner....filet with sauteed beet noodles with goat cheese and roasted asparagus. AH-Mazing if I do say so myself! Wegmans, our local grocery store and quite possibly my favorite place in the world has these beet noodles that I have wanted to try forever and now I am hooked. You know that craze with the "zoodles"...zucchini  noodles? Well, Wegmans has noodled everything! Zucchini, beets, butternut squash. sweet potatoes....if it can become noodle-like...they are on it!

I just sauteed these over medium high heat with a little Tuscan herb infused olive oil until they were softened. I topped them with some goat cheese and scallions. I will probably make these every week!

We had our dinner and finally got to see Girl on the Train (on demand of course). I read the book last about 2 days... and was really looking forward to seeing the movie. However I had set my expectations low, because I loved reading Gone Girl and then the movie just did not do it for me!  This happens to me all the time.....I never like the movie nearly as much as the book. The one exception is The Help. I loved that book and I loved that movie. If you have not read it... you should! I  know it's not recent, but I really loved this book & movie!
Anyway... Girl on the Train (movie) was....not great. It switches back and forth between characters a lot in the beginning and if you don't know the story line it can be really confusing.. Paul was lost. The book was so suspenseful, I couldn't wait to turn the page, but the movie didn't feel as exciting. Book-1 Movie-0

Saturday I had 8 miles to run according to my marathon training calendar. It was 26 degrees and snowing. This meant I had to hop on the treadmill.... I was dreading it.
But I got it done and couldn't get off fast enough when I saw that 8 mile mark!
Paul and I had a lunch date on Saturday at one of our favorite local restaurants. His parents get us a gift certificate for there every year and we had such a great lunch!

Sunday felt like a Sunday!! Lazy... laundry....meal kind of Sunday! We had a big breakfast, went to church, and that was about it!
Did you catch our meal ideas yesterday?? I shared some of my favorites with you! I can't believe the Super Bowl is on Sunday! I will share some ideas on parties and healthier snacks this week!
See you soon...there's always room for one more at our family table.
ps...had to chuckle at Paul... snowblowing in shorts!

5 Meals for your Family Table... Week 4

It's our 4th week of sharing meals for your family table! 

This week I am sharing my kids' most requested meal.... Almond Crusted Chicken. We also have a better for you Mexican casserole and an easy pizza bar for this week! If you missed the first few, you can catch up here.

Cauliflower Fried Rice Bowls with Roasted Shrimp. This is such a great (and much healthier) alternative to Chinese take out! With a little chopping on your prep day, you can have this meal on the table in no time! Find the recipe here.

Almond Crusted Chicken with Smashed Baby Potatoes & Brussel Sprouts. This is my kids' all time favorite meal. This is the one they request for any occasion... yes my kiddos LOVE brussel sprouts. You can grab the recipe for the sides here. And this chicken?? Oh my gosh... so good! Now I will tell you...I have only made this recipe with organic chicken breasts. It's not in our grocery budget to buy everything organic, but I make a dent where I can. Organic chicken tastes so much better.... I will never go back!
For the chicken, use 1 lb of boneless chicken breasts and pound each until they are about 1/4" thick. (I also cut each in halflengthwise before I pound, so I have 6 pieces). Set up two large, shallow bowls or pie plates work well too. In one place 3 egg whites & 2 TBSP of water and whisk. In the other place 1 cup almond flour, zest of 1 lemon and 1 TSP salt and 1/2 TSP pepper. Heat a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan over medium- high heat. Dip each piece in the egg, then the flour and put in the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, transfer to a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. I top mine with a very simple lemon dijon sauce , that I have shared before . Take 6oz plain Greek yogurt, 1-2 TBSP dijon mustard, juice of half a lemon and salt & pepper to taste. Mix together and add a little water to thin it out. It's a perfect topping for seafood or chicken and without all the additives of a pre-made sauce.
Mexican quinoa pasta bake. I told you I was trying to make some comfort casseroles a little better for you. This is like a taco bake and my crew loved it! Top it with a little Greek yogurt, salsa and avocado and scoop it up with some chips! You can grab the recipe here.

How about a twist on a traditional comfort meal like meatloaf? This Sundried Tomato & Feta Meatloaf with Greek Salad is so good. I use this recipe from Giada, except I substitute oats for the breadcrumbs. We make a quick salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives & feta to go along with it.

It's the end of the week and we all need something easy!  How about a make your own pizza & salad bar?? I mentioned before, kiddos love to build their own dinner! Grab some whole wheat or whole grain naan or flatbreads for your crust. Lay out lots of topping options and bake at 425 for about 5-7 minutes. While the pizzas are cooking, build your salads. Be sure to put out veggies in lots of great colors! I really like Mid's pizza sauce & shred my own mozarella from a block. It melts so much better and doesn't have the caking agent that the pre- shredded cheese has.
What to prep to make these meals easier....
Chop the veggies for your stir fry & rice your cauliflower.
Chop your brussel sprouts, you can prepare the potatoes up until the step of putting them in the oven. You can do the same for the chicken.
The Mexican Quiona Bake can be made a few days ahead... just bake it the night you are eating.
Have your veggies chopped & ready for your salad nights.
The turkey meatloaf can be made a few days ahead too & just bake the night you are eating.
I know the meal prepping task can seem daunting, but it makes life so much easier! I take about 30-60 minutes on my prep day and it saves so much stress during the week. This is pretty much what I do each week...
One hour or less of chopping, prepping and bagging goes a long way! As a mom working full time, I can't tell you how much this helps! You can check out my meal planning tips here.

I hope some of these meals make it to your family's table this week! See you tomorrow for our weekend wrap up.....there's always room for one more at our family table!
ps- coming up next month we will be doing a "Cook once, Eat twice" concept. Using the meat you cook for one dinner and turning it into a yummy salad another night! 

Two Family Favorite Side Dishes

Sometimes it's hard to come up with new ideas for the same old sides. We always have at least one veggie with our dinner each night and often our side is a salad. These are two ideas for sides that are full of flavor... my kids love them....and they don't require any crazy ingredients!

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts
Now I know what you're thinking.... really, Gen... your kids love brussel spouts? I kid you not...they are soooo good!
1/2 cup of diced pancetta
1 small onion diced
1.5 lb thinly shaved brussel sprouts
1 cup chicken broth

In a large saute pan, swirl EVOO around your pan once and heat over medium-high heat. Add both the pancetta and the onion and lower the head to medium. Cook for a few minutes, until the pancetta has browned, stirring often. Add the brussel sprouts, sti to mix the onion mixture with the sprouts and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of the broth and season with salt & pepper. Continue to cook until the sprouts are softened, adding additional broth if needed. Taste again for seasoning.

Roasted Smashed Potatoes
1 lb baby potatoes (red, purple, white)
EVOO- I use an herb infused oil

Wash your potatoes and place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for about 20 minutes or until fork tender.

Drain the potatoes well and dump onto a foil lined baking sheet. With potato masher (or fork), gently push down on each potato to "smash" them. Be careful, as they will be hot to the touch.
Drizzle them with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and bake for 20-25 minutes at 425.
These are also make a great addition to brunch!
Hoping these ideas jazz up your everyday dinners!!!

Better For You Casseroles #2.....Mexican Quinoa Bake

The second recipe in our "Better For You Casserole" series is this Mexican Quinoa Bake. Now this one is good for lots of reasons... you can make it a few days ahead,'s like a taco can scoop it up with chips... did I mention it tastes like tacos???
1 small onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
1lb ground chicken (can also use turkey)
2 cups dry quinoa (rinsed & cooked to package instructions)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup of corn (I use frozen & defrosted it)
1 15oz can of black beans (rinsed)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 package of enchilada sauce
2 TBSP cilantro (optional)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Start by cooking your quinoa according to package instructions. While the quinoa is cooking, swirl some EVOO once around a large saute pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium, move your onion mixture off to one side of the pan and add your ground chicken. 
Cook until browned, breaking it up as it cooks. Mix the meat with the onion mixture, and add the cumin, salt & pepper. Add the corn, beans, lime juice, sauce, cilantro, and cooked quinoa and mix to combine. Transfer to a glass 13*9 dish and top with the cheese.
 Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. 

Friday Favorites...Short & Sweet

Oh Friday... I have been waiting for you! After being gone on our little getaway last weekend and fighting a cold... I feel like I have been one step behind all week! Looking forward to catching up this weekend! I am linking up with  AndreaNarci, and Erika to share a few of my favorites from this week.
Reminiscing about our getaway last weekend! We all had so much fun at the waterpark.... riding the slides and floating in the lazy river. It was the perfect little trip to break up the winter! You can check out all fun from our trip here.
Speaking of our trip, we passed a Krispy Kreme after dinner and the red light was on. Yes...that red light that tells you the donuts are hot and fresh. Well, we do not have a Krispy Kreme near us, so my kids have never had one. We felt it was our parental duty to stop for one! I mean... it was totally for the kids! #omgtheyaresogood
They thought they were amazing... Luke ate 2!
And he was completely mesmerized watching the whole process! He would call out to me when he saw one that didn't look right.

Running!!! So I have officially started training for my first full marathon!!! #whatamithinking  I have run a bunch of half marathons and have always wanted to complete a full one before I turned 40. Well, I will be 40 in December, so it's now or never! Week one of training is almost done, after my 8 miles tomorrow...15 more weeks to go! This week has not been the best weather to run in, so I had to run on the treadmill. Not a fan of treadmill running, except for the fact that I can watch bad Bravo reality TV! Going to brave the elements tomorrow morning for my long run, as there is no way I can stay on a treadmill for 8 miles! My girlfriend...who is also training, sent me a pic of this book...
It looks like such a fun read! That brings me to my last favorite from this week....
Reading! This year I am determined to start reading more and I have read 4 books this month, and started another this week. I shared my book review yesterday....if you missed it you can catch up here. Every night at 7:45 the kids and I head up to my bed to read for 30 minutes before bed. It has become such a nice routine with them.

E&L are having a sleepover at my parents this weekend and they are going to see Disney on Ice! Paul and I have both been battling a cold this week, so probably won't do anything too exciting...maybe catch a movie on demand! Hope you enjoy your last weekend in January! See you Monday with 5 meal ideas....there's always room for one more at our family table.
ps...if you missed the last few weeks of meal plans, you can catch up here.

January Book Review

Welcome to my first ever book review post!! Let me start by saying I am by no means a literary genius... I just enjoy a good read... something to take my mind to another place. One thing I committed to doing this year is reading more consistently. I am happy to say that I read 4 books in January.. a pretty good start to the year! I set a goal for myself of 20 pages per day. That works really well for me on weeknights. The kids both log their daily reading for school, so we have all been getting our reading in together!

I decided to do a book review, mostly because that is how I have found some great recommended reads! I also linked each book to Amazon, so you can just click and add to your cart!
So I was all ready to do my book review, when I found out Narci over at Grace and Love Blog was starting a monthly book review link up. So I am linking up with her! Be sure to check out her blog for all her picks too!!

Book one...
This book came as the favorite book of 2016 from Shay at Mix & Match Mama. I have liked other books she has read too, so I kicked off my year with this one, Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman.
It took me about 75 pages to really get into it.. but stay with it.. it's a really great story! This one is about a woman, Olivia, that is engaged to be married and loses her mother. Her mother had left instructions to scatter her ashes in the small town she was born. Olivia sets off to see this town and unearths lots of secrets from her mother's tragic past. The book got so interesting about 2/3 through that I really could not put it down!! A little love story... suspense...tragedy... I would see this as a movie in a heartbeat!
Book two....
Now this book I picked for a totally random reason. I had seen it numerous times on the book endcap at  Target. So one day I picked it up & read the back cover and in the cart it went!  Gosh I am so glad I picked it! This was the story of Cecilia Fitzpatrick... a typical suburban mom who seemingly had her life put together perfectly, until she accidentally discovers a note that she was not meant to see. It was a letter addressed to her from her husband, to be opened in the event of his death. Well, she opened it, even though he was alive and well and the secret told in the letter rocked her world. It was a secret that tied her to others in her circle and the ending was just so good. Really enjoyed this book! I am definitely going to read another book by her!

Book three...
Please note the cutest bookmark ever!
So this book got me for three reasons....
1. The dog on the cover is adorable!
2. We got our first dog about a year and half ago and I could not imagine our life without her.
3. There is a new movie coming out based on the book and I always like to read the book before I see the movie. I am usually disappointed with the movie...but nonetheless I still read before I see! **since I originally wrote this, some disturbing things have come out about the making of this film. So I don't think I am going to see it....
Well if you are a dog lover... read this with a box of tissues nearby. If you are not a dog lover and still aren't after reading this book....I'm not sure we can be friends! Seriously though... this book!  Just go get it. It is the sweetest story sharing what a dog's purpose is in this life. And gosh they do have such purpose.. you will be an even prouder dog owner after reading.... you'll go in for extra snuggles... and look at each dog you see in a different light.
Book Four...
 Now this one I stumbled on by accident. I read a review from a fellow blogger that raved about  A Hundred Summers by the same author. I looked for it at our local library,but it was checked out. So I grabbed another one by her. I read it in 2 days! It was such an interesting story and a quick read. This book was set in the 1960's and told the story of  Tiny, a girl who did all the right things and married the right man. Her husband, Frank was from a wealthy family with strong political ties who was himself running for office. The story is about Tiny trying to find her voice, while keeping a secret and discovering her husband had a secret of his own. I loved it and can't wait to read more by this author!

So there you have it... my first monthly book review! Any suggestions for February?? We will be at the beach for a beach read recommendations are appreciated! I am starting with this one..
My girlfriend suggested it... and since I am in week one of marathon training, it seemed appropriate!

Thanks for stopping by! I'll be sharing my reviews next month too... with a vacation in there, I am hoping to read lots! 
See you tomorrow for Friday favorites... there's always room for one more at our family table.

What's Up Wednesday....January 2017 Edition

Once a month, I link up with ShayMel and Sheaffer for What's Up Wednesday.

 A fun monthly post where we share what's happening in life lately.

Let's get started!
What we're eating this week.... 
This week we shared some quick and easy meal ideas on Monday. Every Monday we share 5 Meals for your Family Table to help take the guesswork out of mealplanning. A few pics of what we are eating this week....
Salmon with Citrus Quinoa
Butternut Squash Ravioli
And a make your own Taco Bar

What I'm reminiscing about.....
Oh.... Christmas! It is my most favorite time of the year and sometimes I feel like it comes and goes so fast! We had such a magical month!

What I'm loving.....
My new Clarisonic. I have been eyeing one of these for a while and finally broke down and got one. It is AMAZING.
My skin feels so much cleaner and softer, I just wish I would have gotten one sooner in life!
What we've been up to....
This has been a really low key month for us and I have been loving it! We have been enjoying some winter stuff...
Ice skating

Playing in the snow
And we took a little weekend getaway to an indoor water park!
During the evenings we have been playing basketball in our basement and we all have done a lot of reading!

What I'm dreading.....
The mud for the next few months.  We have had an unusually warm and rainy January, after an initial burst of snow. Between the 2 feet of snow that has melted and the nearly everyday rain drizzle our backyard is like a swampland. Did I mention we have a 1 year old golden retriever?? Who just so happens to love mud and digging??
I mean, she's cute... but do you see those paws???
I dread my floors for the next few months....
This was last Spring... we have a better paw wiping routine down now....but ugh!
What I'm working on......
Lots of great new recipes and meal planning ideas. This month we kicked off our weekly series "Five Meals for your Family Table".
Each Monday we share 5 healthy meal ideas (and recipes) to help make life a little easier. If you need some inspiration for your meal planning... you can check out our last couple weeks of ideas. We share 5 meal ideas every Monday!
In February, each week will have a "cook once, eat twice" concept. Sharing how to use the meat portion you make for dinner one night and work it into a delicious salad later in the week! Can't wait to share them with you!
What I'm excited about.......
Some of our adventures we have planned this year. Paul and I have made a list of some things we want to do and places to take the kids. I'm excited that we have made some plans and put things on our calendar! First up is an airboat ride with the gators down in Florida and hopefully a stop in Hilton Head to go horseback riding!
What I'm watching/reading.....
Homeland came back this month! I fell in love with this show in season 1. I loved the next 3 seasons, but the last 2 I have felt kind of meh... but I still love watching Claire Danes as Carrie. She plays such a good role!
I just wrapped up my fourth book this month!!! I set a goal to read more this year and am so happy I did! I am working on a little book review of those I have read this month. I will be sharing that with you tomorrow. Be sure to check it out!
What I'm listening to..... this is another one that is always hard for me.  I like music, but am not obsessed with listening to it. I feel like between work, kids, and home there is always someone talking or some sort of background noise!  So honestly, most times you will find me in the car with the radio off. There is just something about that quiet time that my mind craves.
 Am I alone on this? Anyone else out there enjoy driving in silence? #maybeitsjustme

What I'm wearing.....
These two Stella & Dot pieces are pretty much on repeat. The Renegade Cluster Bracelet in Gold and the Riad Layering Necklace. The bracelet mixes so well with other bracelets & you can also get in silver and rose gold!

This necklace is amazing...the mix of silver and gold and the option to wear it 7 different ways... it's a favorite of mine for sure! Click here to check out these great pieces! And bonus... a huge sale starts today... 25% off some of the most coveted pieces! What's better mid-week than a little retail therapy??
What I'm doing this weekend.....
We are going cross country skiing with some friends. Now the last time I went, I may have ended up in a compromising position... hugging a tree.... with my skis crossed behind me! Paul and I still crack up about it all the time. He came to help and took one look at me and said "I don't even know how to help you?" Soooo I am hoping to stay on the path this time around!

What I'm looking forward to next month...
VACATION!! We are heading down to Florida next month. We go every year around this time to visit my in-laws. It is such nice break from our Northeast winters!
We are all ready for a little sand and sun!
What else is new.....
Ella started playing the violin this year. I am so proud of her and her determination to lean how to play. I never really learned to play an instrument, so watching her read the notes and play is pretty neat to see!
So that's a a little bit of what's up with us! Anything new and exciting with you?? Excited to share my book review with you tomorrow!  Hope you stop by... there's always room for one more at our family table.

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