Food Friday: Inside the Box

I used to get a lot more creative in the kitchen. You know, when I ONLY worked 40 hours a week, wasn’t broke, and had a full kitchen. These days, it’s more of a school-day rut.

Breakfast:
smoothie
fruit + a granola bar
fruit + yogurt

Dinner:
fast food at work out now, I gave it up for Lent!
PBJ or ham sandwich + fruit +string cheese
microwave meal + fruit + string cheese
grilled chicken salad (very occasionally; usually when I only work a half day)
or, let’s be real, a bag of chips from the gas station :/

My lunch, however, is another story. It may be routine, but I have found the perfect recipe for lunch success. The uniform skirt of the meal-time world, if you will. It’s quick, easy, eliminates the need for decision making, andย  delicious. Ok, that doesn’t quite fit…

Either way, my lunches are perfection in a [lunch] bag!

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Lunch Box + Wonder Bread Sandwich Holder

Recipe for the Perfect Lunch

1. Ham, Spinach and Tomato sandwich

2. Any 3-4 of the following:
fruit (apple, orange or pear)
granola bar
applesauce
fiber one brownie
string cheese
yogurt
carrots
chips or jell-o pudding

3. Water, juice box or capri sun

4. Enjoy!

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Thursday selections (orange + brownie saved for snack)

I mix it up from day to day so lunch is always different. I don’t consistently buy chips or pudding, so those tend to be special treats, but everything else is in rotation. Like I said, I go through string cheese by the bagful; I also go through about a pound of spinach and a bag of oranges a week. The nice thing about this mix is most of them are in the 100-ish calorie range so its easy to keep track of what I’m eating. Usually I take 3-4 and then save 1 or 2 to eat for snack in the afternoon before I run.

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Meatless Friday not-quite-perfect meal (orange + applesauce saved for snack)

For Lent, I’ve been subbing in some microwave meals for the sandwich. Not quite perfection, but I highly recommend these Barilla meals… the sauce was fantastic and it cooked in 90 seconds! They have coupons on their website so check it out if you need a quick lunch option!

The usual sandwich is actually the same one I’ve been eating for lunch since college– no alterations: always dijon on the spinach half, Miracle Whip (mayo back in the day!) with the ham. Always. And never cheese. If I don’t have one of the ingredients, I take something else. Why mess with success?

Now that the week is over, I can get a little crazier! On the menu this weekend…

Tonight: Catfish Nuggets
Saturday: Eggs, Toast, Fruit; Buffalo Pepperoni Pizza with this easy crust from an awesome food blog. If you like to try new recipes, you should definitely check that site out [I see TONS of her recipes pop up on my pinterest]!
Sunday: Starbucks breakfast [soy latte + blueberry scone]; leftovers; Mexican food with the family

What’s on your menu? Do you have a go-to lunch every day?

Happy Weekend!

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ob.sessed.

So this post might as well have been brought to you by CVS… since I got several of these items off their ad the last week or two. Turns out, the best part about that is that they were all super cheap or even free, which makes them even better!

Carmex Strawberry Lip Balm and Carmex Lime Twist

I gave these two click sticks a try because of the sale, since I’m a huge Carmex fan. I’ve never tried their sticks or flavors before, just the classic tub and tube. I’m in love with these, though. The lime makes me thirsty for margaritas and the strawberry is really sweet. Both of them are really smooth and leave my lips super soft!

Carmex Healing Lotion and Mary Kay TimeWise Moisturizer

I work nights at a job where I sit in a concrete loading dock and under an industrial heater while I handle paper. Needless to say, my skin is kind of a hot mess this winter. I’ve been using the TimeWise for a while, but only recently noticed how soft/awesome it made my skin feel. The moisturizer is super lightweight and makes my skin feel so good I never forget to use it. I also just got the Carmex Lotion at CVS, and I can’t stop using it. My hands feel AMAZING and not greasy. Plus, a little bit goes a long way on both products, so they will last quite a while. I use my TimeWise every day and I think I’ve had this tube since Sept or Oct, and I’m just starting to notice that it’s getting low. I linked to my Mary Kay rep’s page if you are interested in checking it out!

Colgate 360 Optic White Toothbrush

I got two of these at CVS the other day for about 75 cents, after all the discounts. Normally I would never pay FIVE DOLLARS for a toothbrush, especially since my mom gets me them from work, but I think this one would be worth it. It has a tongue/lip scraper thing on the back which is like a little massage on the inside of your mouth while you brush. It was really weird the first time, but I quickly got used to it. The bristles are also really solid and make my teeth feel super clean. I am so glad I ended up getting two– this brush is awesome and I will definitely go back for more when they are on sale again.

Brooks PureCadence 2

So, I’m training for a half marathon with Nicole‘s awesome training plan. She mentioned that she loved these shoes, so I started looking into them. I’m a dedicated Asics girl for 10+ years, but lately I’ve been running barefoot inside and getting into the idea of a more minimalist shoe. I’m definitely not going to be strapping on the Vibrams tomorrow, but my old running shoes were not measuring up. I hit up Peak Performance a few weeks ago and tried these babies on.. it was love! They are definitely different than my old shoes, though! They kind of force me to roll forward onto the ball of my foot when I try to heel strike, and they are a LOT lighter. I also love the color, which is a lot more vibrant than in the picture, and it makes me want to wear them all the time. Unfortunately, since they are lightweight they get a lot fewer miles, so I am trying to wear them only for running. If you want to buy me a second pair for every day, I’ll definitely accept ๐Ÿ™‚

My morning smoothies

These have been my morning essential since I started my education program. They are a super easy, super filling breakfast– and at 18-24 ounces, it takes me almost until lunch to drink them! The kids at school are always staring at the drink and asking what’s in it. I always offer a taste, but no students ever take me up on it. Weird.. ๐Ÿ™‚ They are delicious, though. My standard recipe is a small banana or half a large one (it’s easy for it to be too banana-y), 4-6 oz of plain or flavored yogurt, 3/4-1 cup of frozen Cherry Berry Blend plus whatever fresh fruit I have. Last week I added some mango, and I’ll frequently do blueberry or peach. I actually really hate the taste of strawberries in my smoothies, so I never add more than what’s in the cherry blend. Then, I top it off with a pinch or two of flax meal and a serving of protein powder, fill the rest of the blender with spinach, and add milk, water, or juice as necessary to blend it smooth.

Since I use frozen fruit, I don’t typically add ice, though if I want it colder I will drop a few cubes into the cup. They take ages to melt so it barely waters it down. I really like the Cherry Berry Blend, since you get several fruits and a decent amount of cherries. Trader Joe’s has the best cherry-to-berry ratio, but Hy-Vee’s is pretty good. I particularly like cherries (especially in the summer when I can get them fresh) since it turns the drink purple instead of green. When there aren’t enough cherries, the drink is brown instead. It’s still delish, even if it doesn’t look like it!

via Relentless Preacher’s Wife… thanks Google!

String Cheese

Stay tuned for a look at my lunchbox on Friday, but I had to mention my favorite part of lunch each day. I’ve been buying string cheese by the 24 pack since the summer, and I usually eat it with my lunch (and sometimes dinner) every day. It’s the perfect mix of cheese, novelty, childhood, delicious, and nutritious! Just do yourself a favor and get the store brand– I’ve tried some of the name brands, and they were weirdly plastic-y. The store brands from ~4 different stores all string off perfectly.

So these are my current obsessions… what are you loving right now?

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Home Fish Fry

Growing up in a Catholic family means you always have something to look forward to on Fridays in the first part of the year– Fish Fry!

My parish had, naturally, the best fish around. I always got a #2, fried and fries. Baked was ok but too hit-or-miss for me, and I outgrew the Mac and Cheese at age 8.

Fast-forward to today, where I still crave fish and can’t fathom eating meat on Friday during Lent! Normally if I can’t make a fish fry, I stop for my favorite alternative, a BK Big Fish sandwich. I know, you are rolling your eyes right now… but I just love them!

This year, I gave up fast food for Lent, so no BK for me. PLUS I work nights so I can’t hit up a fish fry for a delish fried and fries. Enter…

Hand-Breaded Pan-Fried Catfish Nuggets and Baked White Potatoes!

Catfish and Potatoes

I start the potatoes first, since they take about 40 minutes at 400. They are super easy though– I quarter mine and then cut them into similar sized pieces. Then just toss them into a pan with some garlic, olive oil, s&p and spices (I prefer rosemary and lemon juice; but today I used basil, herbs de provence, and rosemary). They will be soft after about 25 minutes, but I like to get mine crispy. If you microwave them for a few minutes first, they will cook faster. However, with the longer time you get plenty of time to do the fish prep while they bake up nice and crispy!

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While those are cooking….

I get the nuggets frozen from my grocery store and cut them into one- or two-bite pieces so they are easier to dip … and eat! For the breading, I don’t measure anything out, just kind of shake it out on the plate until it looks good.. and tastes good. If it doesn’t taste good now, it won’t at the end either!

Breading

Breading

for the dunk: egg, touch of milk, hot sauce to taste {one egg is enough for about 2 servings of nuggets}

for the breading: cornmeal, flour, s&p, chili powder, garlic powder, seasoning salt, cayenne, or any other spices/spice mixes you like {I used about 3/4 to 1 cup total and had just a little left over for 2 servings}

for the pan: {oil, salt for sprinkling when you flip the fish}

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Pat the fish dry, heat the oil in the pan, dunk, breading, flip, toss in the pan. The nuggets cook for about 2 minutes in the oil, then flip, sprinkle with some salt and finish them off for another 2 mins. I keep a spoon handy so if they curl I can spoon oil into the basin to make sure it cooks. Since I;m cooking them in oil, I drain them on a paper towel.

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I test mine as I pull them out to make sure they are flaky. If not, I toss them into the oven for the last ~10 minutes to finish up while the potatoes finish.

The cornmeal makes these nice and crispy with great texture. The hot sauce and spices give them a nice kick, but definitely not overwhelming. If you don’t like spicy food, don’t be afraid to use it OR skip it!

I normally make my own tartar sauce, but I had a bottle so I just stirred in some plain yogurt, Worcestershire, and chili powder to spice it up and give the bottled stuff a little flavor boost.

Catfish and Potatoes

Add a little broccoli, and Fish Fryday is ON!

Best part, make extra potatoes and you can bake them again for even more delicious crispiness!

Seriously, making your own breaded fish (or chicken) could NOT be any easier. If you’re a fan of nuggets of any type, you’ve got to try making them yourself!

What are you cooking today?

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Let’s do this!

After 8 million attempts to start a blog, I’m trying again… and really hoping this one sticks! I read tons of blogs every day and am always subscribing to new ones (thank goodness for google reader!), so I have plenty of people who inspire me to do this. Now I just have to inspire myself.

Luckily,ย  I feel like today is a good day to start a new blog: I have the day off work, went grocery shopping, made lunch, got pampered AND have a big weekend coming up, aka lots of good stories and pictures!

So, first up: grocery shopping. I’m getting ready to move into a new house, so I’m excited to get back to making real food again. I always want to try the recipes from edible perspective and peas and thank you, but the last few weeks I’ve been in a rut. I’m trying to ease myself back into it and step one is grocery shopping instead of eating out every day!

Since I’m buying groceries, I want to keep track of what I’m spending to control things a little bit. Since this was the first trip in a while, I bought some booze AND I got a bottle of wine for a gift, it was higher than I expected. Hopefully I can keep it a bit lower than this. This is a pretty typical grocery load for me: apples, bananas, pears, spinach, broccoli, cucumber, asparagus, almond milk, skim milk, protein powder, ham. I wanted to try a few new things today, so I grabbed a couple of different types of yogurt, brie, multigrain slims, Berry mango bran muffins, coconut milk chocolate ice cream (dairy ice cream makes me sick so i’m always looking for alternatives) and egg whites. I’m already envisioning tomorrow’s breakfast, so stay tuned!

I got home stoked to try my new foods, and started with lunch: ChocoStrawNana Protein Smoothie and sampler platter!

I Usually make smoothies almost every day. I follow a pretty standard recipie and the only thing that changes is what fruits I use. Occacionally I toss in some additional mixins– today I wanted to try the ice cream so I decided to make it chocolate.

My recipie is

  • 1/2 cup Almond milk (+/- depending on how thick you like yours),
  • 1 serving of protein powder (I like this Aria Women’s Protein from Trader Joe’s),
  • 1.5-2 cups of fruit,
  • a splash of skim milk

Today I added 1/4 cup of the Chocolate Coconut Milk ice cream, and used 1 LARGE banana and about 12 small strawberries as the fruit. Since I go through fruit so quickly, I tend to prefer frozen or seasonal to keep costs down– but always unsweetened. I don’t need all that extra sugar!

As if all that wasn’t enough, I had myself a little sampler platter, peanut butter jenny-style!

On today’s menu:

  • wedge of French brie ($5 at Trader Joe’s!)
  • 1/2 TJs Berry-Mango Bran Muffin
  • carrot cut into sticks
  • spoonful Athenos roasted garlic hummus
  • 1/4 D’Anjou pear (My favorite!!)

And after… admiring my sweet new spray tan (first time ever, it was 20 bucks at my favorite spa with my wax today!) and my dress for the wedding next week. I’m so pretty!

I’ve decided to never be not tan again. Sadly I have yet to figure out a setup to get good full length pictures of me, but this is the dress:

I think it looks a lot better on than in the pic but you can get the idea. I’m bummed I have to wait a whole week to wear it– tomorrow’s wedding gets a different dress, but the same awesome spray tan, and a matching pedi!

What do you think– would you ever try a spray tan?