Monday, January 28, 2013

Roasted Chicken and Tomato Taco Soup

Have you ever had lunch at the Red Water Rustic Grille? They have a Fire Roasted Tomato and Corn Soup that is to die for. Tonight I wanted more, so I decided to try and cook some up myself. Here's how it went down.

 photo IMG-20130128-00388.jpg
  • 2TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • half spanish onion chopped up
  • 1TBSP minced garlic
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 roasted chicken breasts, pulled/shredded
  • 1 package low sodium taco mix
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup canned black beans
  • 1 can baby corn on the cob, chopped
In your pot, on medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in the EVOO until beginning to brown. Add in the can of tomato paste and cook while stirring for 5 min. Add in chicken stock, shredded chicken and taco seasoning, cook for 15 min.

Meanwhile, add the can of roasted tomatoes (if you can't find them, canned seasoned chunked tomatoes works too), the roasted red pepper and the cilatro to your blender. Puree until smooth. Add in to the pot, and continue cooking for the rest of the 15min.

Add in the corn, beans and more corn. Cook for another 10 min.

Serve  hot with some shredded tex mex cheese, and a dollop of light sour cream. Garnish with cilantro and crispy tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Life after college: all my friends have moved away.

This was a post I had originally submitted to but since it looks like they've recently closed up shop. I thought I'd share it with you all here.

Over the past Christmas holidays, I managed to get lucky. How so? I managed to, by purest chance, be in the same city as 5 of my best friends from university. For you to understand just how lucky this actually is, I need to tell you where we all currently live: Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Krakow (Poland) and Sydney (Australia). We met up in Burlington, Ontario; having travelled nearly 30,000km all told. To put that in perspective the circumference of the world is only 40,000km. What did we do, having travelled so far? We went bowling. It was awesome.

(Bowling ally scene Across the Universe -Image Source)
One of the best things about college/university life (and I think most people will agree with this) is being totally surrounded by your friends at all times. Most people’s social circles expand quite a bit in college, when unlike high school, you truly find yourself among peers. People interested in, and studying the same things you are. College is a highly social time of our lives. I, despite preferring an evening at home in sweats watching Netflix, found myself going out 3 and 4 times a week. Grades often suffer, but I’d argue at the valuable experience of building the friendships you will cherish for the rest of your life.

However college doesn’t last forever. When you throw your caps in the air at graduation, you can think of their scattered landing as symbolic of the scattering of your much cherished social circles. Some people will move back home (a shockingly high percentage back in with their parents, but that’s a topic for another day). Some people will pursue post graduate studies across the country, or with increasing frequency around the world. Many people will need to move to where the jobs are, some will choose to travel for a year or two.

As you enter the next big chapter of your life, you might find yourself doing so, like me, alone. To pursue grad school, I packed up my civic, moved half way across Canada, and set up in a new life, a new apartment; and set about making new friends. And without the alcohol fuelled social bedlam of college orientation/resident life/campus bar nights; it wasn’t as easy as I remembered it to be.
Of course things like skype, facebook, twitter and blogging make it much easier to maintain those long distance friendships. But they do certainly change, in ways I’m still beginning to understand. Some grow stronger, others slip away. You gain new friendships that grow to be stronger, more supportive than any you had before; you also have times where you feel very alone.  And the Christmas holidays take on a new meaning, rather than travelling home mainly to be with family, you also will go well out of your way to see those friends.

How do you keep in touch with friends spread across the country? the world?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sparked My Pinterest 04 :Going to Cuba!

Let's do another round of Sparked My Pinterest. Today's will be themed.

Going to Cuba!

That's right Kev and I just booked an all inclusive trip to Cuba for the end of March. Considering how tired of winter I am already, the sun and sand can't come close enough! So here are some of the things that have sparked my pinterest lately!

Places to See How about the breatiful sea cliffs in Varadero? If vacationing in cuba is known for one thing, it certainly is beautiful beaches.

Things to Wear With all my summer clothes packed away, it's hard to remember what bikini's look like. Here is some of the resort wear I'd love to be wearing while I walk down the shore.

Source: via Sara on Pinterest

So how am I getting ready for Cuba? Eating clean and training dirty! Joined an MMA style bootcamp, finally activated my passport to prana, and hitting the running track!

Going anywhere warm to escape winter? Happy Pinning!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Feeling in Balance

Yesterday morning I woke up with a general sense of balance in my life. It was a great feeling. This week has been incredibly busy, at work, at home, at the gym, but I don't feel that usual drag of Friday at 5:30 can't come fast enough.

Do you feel like you have balance in your life right now?

So how about a week recap?

Monday night and I went for dinner at Jamesons (Brentwood Location) and split 3 awesome pulled pork sliders and a chicken avocado ciabatta sandwich and side ceasar, just the right amount of food, and I got a beer... all for 24 bucks!

Tuesday was a long day at work, filled with seminars, meetings and class. The seminar was put on by My Grad Skills and dealt with preparing for the Candidacy exam. Expect a rundown of that over on my other blog some time this weekend. Oh and I went to sleep at 8:30, sooo cozy!

Wednesday was MMA bootcamp at 6:15AM, loving it! Then all day on the myograph struggling with a new bath. Afterwards @setulk and I ran buy the mall, and I went into lululemon and didn't buy a thing (self restraint FTW)!

Thursday again a long day at work, followed by a talk about 'Cafienating' health care in Canada (it came with free food!) and a trip to the gym with Kev. I set a new personal best and squatted 105lbs! Felt so strong and badass afterwards!

And that brings me to today, Kevin and I booked a March Break trip somewhere exciting, I'll talk about that in another post later.  My experiments are chugging along and I submitted my application to a conference in Toronto well on time!

So here's to a good week, and an even better weekend!

A pretty picture from my cousin's wedding in Oct. It's amazing what professional hair, makeup and photographers can do!

How did your week go? What's on the docket for this weekend?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Simple Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi

The other day I was really feeling like I'd like some Gnocchi. Rather than traditional, Nana style potato gnocchi, I thought I'd give ricotta and spinach gnocchi a try. Here's how it all went down.

I started the sauce first...although sauce may not be the best term.

In a pot I threw about 10 each halved yellow and red cherry tomatoes, and some chopped sweet onion, a little olive oil and minced garlic. I threw the lid on, and let this go on medium heat, stirring occasionally, the whole time I was cooking.

Now on to the gnocchi, this is a 'pasta' that should have a soft, dumpling like texture. Rolled out to finger thickness and cut into  small pieces.

I used 1 small container of light ricotta cheese. Wrapped it in cheese cloth and squeezed out as much moisture as I could. I then blanched a bag of baby spinach, and again wrapped it in cheese cloth and squeezed out the moisture. The more liquid you get out in this step, the less flour you will have to add.

In a bowl, I mixed the ricotta and spinach with 2 eggs, about a tsp of minced garlic, and a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese. The next bit will go by feel, you will need to add flour, I used half and half white/whole wheat; just until the dough comes together and is easy to handle. It will still pull apart sticky, but you should be able to work with it easily on a floured surface.

Roll it out to finger thickness and then cut into pieces (a little under an inch long). At this point you can either freeze for later or cook it fresh. To cook, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add in gnocchi in portions. (you should have a monolayer on the bottom of the pot, don't over crowd). When the gnocchi float to the top and stay there lift them out. I like to put mine right into a pan with some hot olive oil while I continue cooking the other batches. Tossing them occasionally this way will put a tasty crisp on some.

Serve it up with that tomato 'sauce' on top (hopefully you haven't forgotten about it and have been occasionally stirring), and a little parm!

Super tasty, recipe is good for a dinner for two with a little to spare! What have you been cooking up lately?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why I am doing the FitFluential January DietBet

If you saw my earlier post, you'll know I bought in to FitFluential's January Diet Bet. I posted my starting weight, along with a full body shot of me on a scale!

Today I want to talk about why I am participating.

You might notice, to look at me, I'm not particularly what you would call overweight. In fact, I've already received comments in that regard on the website. I am however, a little over what I would consider my ideal weight. Maybe something like 5%. To 'win' at diet bet, you need to lose 4% by the end of four weeks, so that's right in line with what I want.

 (Me on the last nice day before winter.)

I've never been particularly weight obsessed at any point in my life. In fact I very rarely weigh myself. This last year however, I have become more involved in having what I would call a healthy/active lifestyle. I began running more, actually working out at the gym (I can lift things up and put them down now!) and eating a much, much healthier diet. I'm glad to have made this change, because lets be honest, as you get older, the metabolism you took for granted in highschool begins to sloooow down.

So why am I DeitBetting?

  • To make up for a lazy December followed by Christmas Holidays spent eating everything I could.
  • I turn 25, 1 day before the weigh out. I want to be in my best physical condition before I enter the next quarter century of my life.
  • To get into a fitness routine that will hopefully carry on well past the end of this adventure.
  • I'm going to Mexico in March, and lets be honest, everyone wants to feel beach ready!
  • Finally, I want to play along with all the 300+ others who are making commitments to eat cleaner and train harder over the next 4 weeks.
To get to know me a little bit better, why not read about why I heart my body!  And if you are also doing a dietbet, or have set yourself a fitness related goal in 2013, I'd love to hear your reasons for doing so! Please leave me a comment!

My next post, I want to focus on how I feel about joining this DeitBet thing, which is totally different from why I am doing it!

Do You Diet Bet?

I just did something I've never done before! I took a photo of myself on a scale, along with my weight, and I put it on the internet!

Why would I do something so crazy?

How does to win money sound?

Well maybe not to win money, in a perfect world, I'd just get my buy in back. Let me tell you all about it!

(please ignore the closet spewing shoes across the room, I promise it'll be fixed ASAP!)

If you follow FitFluential at all (and I'm hoping you all do, its easily one of the most motivational online communities for people wanting to live healthier lifestyles) then you may have hear they are running a January DietBet.

DietBet is a website, through which you can gamble some money against reaching a weight loss goal. The process is dead simple. Taken from their 'how it works page':

"Lose Weight. Have Fun. Win Money. DietBet is a game where you've got 4 weeks to lose 4% of your starting weight. To begin, everyone puts money into the pot. After four weeks, whoever's hit their 4% goal is a winner and splits the pot."
For the FitFluential January Diet Bet, the buy in is only $25, and the pot is already over $7600. But I don't want to focus on the pot, because rather than being a competition, DietBet is a community of support, where you can cheer on fellow participants. In that light, I say lets see this pot split as many ways as possible between as many winners as possible! Lets get out there and for the next four weeks Eat Clean and Train Dirty!

(My Starting Weight. Please ignore my hobbit-like feet, gross!)

So there are two things I want to talk about to start things off. 1) My reasons for doing it. 2) How I feel about it. So you can expect those posts in the next few days. In the mean time

Its not too late to join in! You have until tomorrow night to join up and weigh in! So click on over. It only cost $25, but really its free, because you're going to kick butt and lose that 4%!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Leibster Award Again!

Today I was once again nominated for a Leibster Award. This time from a blogger I wasn't previously aware of, the spectacular lady behind Hella Quirky.

Since I've already received this award, I won't go through the whole rigmarole again, I'll simply link you on over to my original post, and answer the questions Hella Quirky Left for me.

5 more questions.

1. Why did you start blogging in the first place?
I started blogging years and years ago, for no particular reason: because I was reading other people's blogs, because it seemed fun, because it would be neat to look back on later, because I was bored. Only recently has blogging become a real media for me to share my stories, experiences, and ideas with a broader audience; all the while developing as a writer (something I otherwise would not consider myself to be).

2. When you're the most down, what in life causes you to keep going?

I have many important support systems, between my parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, friends both near and far, my boyfriend, my lab mates, my supervisor, and the wonderful people of the internet. When I'm most down, as long as I reach out to some of those people, I can keep going no problem.

3. What's your favourite ice cream flavor?
It's really sad but kind of vanilla, although one time at a yogurt land in hawaii they had red velvet cake frozen yogurt and that was heavenly.

4. Last day on earth, what would you do?

Spend it with the people I love the most, and cherish being with them.

5. What about YOU is quirky?
Most everything, although some people (Kevin) think I'm more squirrely than quirky.

Once again, thanks for the nomination Miss Hella Quirky!

Button Swaps!

Lots of blogs sell ad space. But that's not very fun.

I'd love to swap buttons with you instead. This way we can work together to grow our readership and make some bloggy connections.

If you are interested in being featured in my sidebar, to the right, then here's what you'd get.

I'll display a button of yours, 150X150 here on my blog.

I'll feature my favourite of your posts here once a month, in a bloggy round up.

I'll be your new friend!

And all I'd ask in return is that you include a button of mine on your blog page.

If your interested, please send me an email (click the email button to the top left) containing a link to your blog, as well as your button (150X150 pixels). For now I'm not going to limit the number of people I'd like to swap with, and they will stay up as long as you keep my button up on your blog.

I think blog swapping is a really great way to develop a stronger blogging network, as well as to drive readership for one blog to another.

Do you swap?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My all time favourit youtube video

Friday night, I was sitting at the boyfriend's computer watching Jenna Marbles videos while waiting to head out to the bar (this happens more frequently than you may think). One specific video, and my all time favourite thing on the internet, is the Landshark video.

Please enjoy it here:

I know, it's pretty stupid, but it so closely relates to my inner weirdo, I can't help but love it!

Why am I sharing my favourite YouTube video with you? Well 20sb is having a Blog Carnival, and we are all invited to link up our favourite YouTube video.

In fact, if we share this WIGS video, featuring their favourites, then we might get some goodies in the mail.

Lately, I've been watching a tonne of YouTube, and a wide variety of channels, from the VlogBrothers (and all their associated content) to Harto to MyDamnChannel and much much more. As someone who doesn't want to spend more than I have to on real TV (yeah 10 channels + the Foodnetwork) I think the ever growing amount of awesome content on YouTube is amazing (and free!). Maybe one day I'll be bold enough to add to it myself with a vlog or two, but in the mean time, I'll keep on watching.

Link to the above vid for the sake of the free stuff is here. And DFTBA!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

In the last 24 hours

In the last 24 hours I:

  • Did a leg workout at the gym (including squats with 85lbs-personal best)
  • Groceries
  • Cooked an awesomely tasty dinner including spinach and ricotta stuffed chicken, baked asparagus and quinoa salad
  • Drank most of a bottle of Bacardi Pina Colada
  • Played Euchre and lost
  • Woke up to some excellent news!

The lockout is over, they're bringing back hockey! (I adored that Nike hockey add over the holidays BTW)

 That's basically how I feel about it! I even threw on my Flames jersey for the day!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Google+ Who's with me?

If you're on blogger, like me, you may have been wondering about a) What's Google+ ? and b) should you upgrade to it? Or maybe, unlike me, you're up with the times and knew about this months and months ago.

Anyways, you can now follow me/friend me/circle me or whatever it is exactly that google+ does through my google+ page. And as an added 'plus' my old, outdated, blogger profile has been swapped out with my cooler looking google+.

On the other hand, I currently am all alone over there, so if you want to come be my friend (and really who wouldn't) then you totally should.

That's all I have to say about that. Are you on Google+?

40 questions about 2012

I can't help filling these things out when I see them on other people's blogs. This one came to me by way of Delightfully Awkward Brit. I took a break from graph making to fill it out.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Surfing, in Hawaii on the Fourth of July (also running over a small child with a surf board oops! Child was ok)

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make resolutions, instead I have a 25 before 25 list, which although I won’t complete them all by my birthday, it did lead me to a more awesome year than it may otherwise have been.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

5. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
The good sense to save my money. Also a better organized life.

6. What countries did you visit?
The states (including Hawaii) and Italy.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
March 3rd. Cause I met a boy, and he asked me for my number.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Running my first Spartan race!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not meeting my half marathon goal, but it’s not all a failure, because I did get into running this year, something that I have tried to do before and failed at.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing super serious, but I did see a doctor about the shin pains and had the worst cold/flu I’ve had in a while over Christmas.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new video camera.... so you can expect to see videos maybe on my blog in 2013.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Cousin’s Krista and Brian, who got married, and we celebrated. 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I hate people sometimes. 

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, tuition, travel.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to Italy with my family to see family.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Maybe anything by the Lumineers....or Gangnam Style.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner.
iii. richer or poorer?Credit Card, you sir are being paid off and staying that way this year.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Gone to the mountains... so close yet so far.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Procrastinating on things for no good reason.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With the family, like I do every year.

21. There was no #21. I don’t know why there was no 21.

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Modern Family really grew on me this year.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I hate people sometimes... but abstractly

26. What was the best book you read?

Love love loved Betty White’s newest book.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Lumineers by way of my boss (who has sometimes questionable taste in music.

28. What did you want and get.
A tattoo!

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
The Avenger’s Movie, Silver Linings Playbook, lots more I can’t think of right now.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Turned 24, went skating downtown, then drank in a basement pub downtown.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Winning the lottery... if only I had bought a ticket.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Hippy Dippy, sweaters my boyfriend hates, boots most of the time and Lululemon every other day.

34. What kept you sane?
Who says I have to be sane?

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hands down Jenna Marbles.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Believe it or not, all of the resurgence of abortion legislation, an issue I thought of as being long since settled.

37. Who did you miss?
My family, friends spread all over the world and my old doggy.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Obviously Kevin.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
Setting big goals, even if you don’t meet them on time, while drive smaller successes.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Sit Tight, Take Hold, Thunder Road.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday : Somewhere Sunny

This week I'll be flying back to Calgary. I'd much rather be headed somewhere sunny. Here are a few photos from my trip to Hawaii this summer (I'll sit here and reminisce about the warmth).