Weekend: Piano Bar, Brunching & Running

What more does one need?

I guess an extra day in the weekend to recover from all the fun, but don’t we all wish that…

Matt and I started out the weekend by heading on an impromptu trip to Milwaukee on Friday night. First stop: Transfer Pizza for dinner. We’ve eaten there twice and both times loooved their pizza. My favorite so far is the “Katalina Pizza” — it has a garlic cream sauce, cheese, artichokes and salami. Definitely not a healthy option, but oh-so-delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I didn’t even take the time to snap a pic before devouring it…

After chowing down, we met up with my friend and then cabbed it to Lucille’s Piano Bar in downtown Milwaukee. This is our favorite place to go when we’re in Milwaukee. Dueling pianos are theeee best! If you have never been to a dueling piano bar, basically two people are playing at pianos/singing across from each other. The audience can take up their song requests (with some money to speed along their place in the queue). It’s popular for birthday parties, bachelorette parties, etc. because you can make the guest of honor sit up on stage while the piano players sing and play them a special song. You can imagine how this can be interesting (and hilarious) for the bachelor/bachelorette parties! Ha

Funny moment, off the bat, was when someone paid them $5 to play “Oh, Canada”—then someone brought up $10 to make them stop and play the US National Anthem instead. And because this is Milwaukee, you bet everyone stood up, put their hand over their hearts (with beer in their left hand) and sang along. Haha!

Singing the National Anthem at Lucille's Piano Bar

Singing the National Anthem at Lucille’s Piano Bar

We were out late, so Saturday morning had an equally late and slow start. Nursing some slight headaches, we headed out to brunch at a new (to us) place: Café Centraal.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Uhhh, amazing brunch! I mauled the Chile Rojo Corn Cakes: Cornmeal pancakes topped with fried eggs, chorizo, white cheddar cheese, chile rojo, salsa verde, housemade pico de gallo, and chipotle sour cream.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Sooo tasty. Kelsey got a yummy omelette, but Matt’s French Toast stole the show and we helped him eat it: Fresh berries on top of cinnamon coated challah French toast, layered with creamy mascarpone cheese and topped with basil.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Last vestiges of the best french toast ever…

OMG, best french toast any of us had ever had. Go. Try it.

After brunch, Matt and I headed home for some errands and grocery shopping. We made dinner (Matt’s specialty, beef stroganoff) and then watched American Hustle. WOW, what a funny and great movie! I know it’s gotten all sorts of acclamations but it really is all it’s cracked up to be.

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And I love J Law. And Bradley Cooper…

Ended the night reading some of my latest book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.

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Had to force myself to put it away to go to sleep!

Snoozed away until this morning, then I spent a little over 3 hours (!!) getting in my long run for the week. Rest of the day’s forecast: Eat, take a nap, and relax! I’ll just leave all that house cleaning for, uh, tomorrow I guess… Why can’t the weekend have three days in it?

– – –

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Favorite book/movie of the moment?

Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili

Let’s sum up this day in two words: Chilly. Chili.

The polar vortex is back, but this time I’m arming myself with a warm, hearty chili!

Healthy and Hearty Turkey Chili

This lightened-up turkey chili recipe is super easy and quick to make, and will only cost you 200 calories per cup—yes, really! It’s delicious, and of course, good for you, too: With the mix of lean protein from the ground turkey, and fiber from all the beans and veggies, you’re stomach won’t be growling for hours. It’s the perfect bowl of comfort food on a cold night—whether you’re watching what you eat or not.

Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili
Makes 10 cups
Per cup: 200 calories / 25g carbs / 4g fat / 16g protein

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 15oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 4oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 15oz. can chili beans
  • 1 15oz. can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 packet chili seasoning (we use McCormick Original Chili)
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
  • ½ tsp. oregano (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, sauté onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery for 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey; cook until crumbled and no longer pink.
  3. Stir in diced and crushed tomatoes, mushrooms, chili beans, and kidney beans. Bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in packet to chili seasoning. For a little extra heat and flavor, add in cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and oregano.
  5. Reduce chili to a simmer, leaving the lid off to boil away excess liquid.
  6. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes to meld flavors.
  7. Serve & enjoy!

healthy recipes - turkey chili - low calorie, low fat, high protein

Psst… Don’t let the toppings get the best of you:

healthy chili toppings: plain greek yogurt, low fat shredded cheese, green onion

Switch out the usual suspects with some healthier options, like a dollop of plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream (you won’t notice the difference), low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, hot sauce, or chopped green onion for some extra flavor.

– – –

What are your go-to comfort foods? 
What other kinds of healthy recipes would you like to see?

Wedding Planning + Good Eats {Weekend}

How was your weekend? Mine has been great!

I started my weekend early, on Friday morning. I decided earlier this week to take a random vaca day off work. I wanted to take it easy while I can, because two of my two co-workers are going on maternity leave soon. Good timing, because one of them ended up having her babies (yep, twins) early…ON Friday! They are too cute.

I spent the day relaxing until lunchtime, then did some chores and laundry, and worked on wedding stuff all afternoon. Almost ready to send out our Save the Dates. Yay! I am also an uber web design nerd and am pretty excited to start making our wedding website… 🙂

Friday night, one of our closest friends {and best man in our wedding} came up to visit. We went out to dinner for some burgers and beers. Not sure if that’s the best pre-long run fuel, but it seemed to work out okay. Must have been the curly fries. Early to home for a movie and bed for me, while the boys went out.

I watched “The Place Beyond the Pines.” I had heard it was a great movie, plus it has Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in it.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Yesss. Beyond the eye candy, it was a good story; not one that necessarily left you feeling all warm & fuzzy inside, but not depressed either—just thoughtful. I’d certainly recommend it if you like a good drama.

Saturday, I got up and ran my long run from hell. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but it was tough.

After I got home, I showered, ate, and laid around for a couple hours watching TV and reading my newest book, The Kite Runner. I was beat. I finally made myself just go take a nap so I could get some energy to do something fun for the day.

Matt and I ended up going out to dinner at a new {to us} place. I got an “Old Cuban” cocktail, made with rum, mint and champagne {think mojito, all grown up}. The food was delicious: We had crab wontons to start, then fish tacos and stuffed grouper as our mains.

Fish tacos with avocado, roasted red pepper and cabbage.

Fish tacos with avocado, roasted red pepper and cabbage.

The service was great, but it seemed a little over-priced for this area. On the plus side, I felt like I could probably make both dishes at home with some experimentation, so fish tacos is on the menu for sometime this week!

I had really wanted dessert all day {specifically, a bug fudgy brownie} so we stopped by the store on the way home and I got some mix to whip some brownies up. Matt wanted vanilla ice cream, which led me to discovering this thing of beauty:

Haagen Dazs Peanut Butter Pie ice cream

I’ve died and gone to heaven.

OMG. My favorite dessert ever, peanut butter pie, in ice cream form? Yes.

Favorite dessert: Brownie Sundae!

Favorite dessert: Brownie Sundae!

I combined that with my homemade brownies for the best desert in the history of the world. Or at least, this weekend.

And this is the point of the post where I tell you that I am going on a diet this week. Haha! But seriously. It’s happening.

A few more things to be excited about:
I’m only a couple posts away from my 100th blog post. Woo!
And only a few Twitter followers away from 200… Follow me!

– – –

What should I do to celebrate my 100th blog post?
What’s a good movie you’ve watched lately?
Fave ice cream flavor?

Cupcakes and Cosmos and Mexi – Oh my!

Let’s take a look at some food porn, aka, what I ate last week.

A post that will start out deceptively healthy…and then you see that, eh, perhaps not so much.

I started out the week well enough.

healthy banana oatmeal muffin

I made these banana oatmeal muffins on Sunday night, to eat for breakfast in the mornings. With bananas, oatmeal, and applesauce in place of oil, these little babies were guilt-free and tasty.

I also chowed down on coconut vanilla greek yogurt, which I’m obsessed with. It’s so freakin’ good.

coconut vanilla yogurt

I topped it with French vanilla granola and praline pumpkin seeds (from my NatureBox haul—the best snacks!).

I did takeout for lunch one day at work: Vietnamese food for the win.

shrimp bun

This Shrimp Bun (pronounced “boon”) is the best. I want to try to make this at home—rice noodles, cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine and tasty shrimp topped with a little sweet & sour sauce.

Okay, let’s get to the bad [good?] stuff.

Birthday dinner #2 last Tuesday at one of my favorite restaurants. Matt and I started with some duck wontons.

duck wontons

Delish! And yeah, a Cosmo on the side. Heh.

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For my main dish, I had chicken breasts [healthy!] wrapped in bacon […not healthy?], topped with pepper cheese and a deep fried jalapeno. I could totally recreate this dish at home, and I plan to!

Of course, no birthday dinner would be complete without…

chocolate raspberry cupcake

A birthday cupcake! Homemade by my friend Liz: Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream. Heavenly.

You can’t follow up a birthday dinner like that… Except with maybe a fiesta the next day!

Matt and I made homemade “lightened up” enchiladas (so, kinda healthy?) from the HowSweetEats blog.

homemade enchilada sauce

I was nervous about making a homemade sauce, but it was pretty easy.

We scarfed down taco dip while we waited for the main dish to cook.

taco dip

So very un-healthy but so very yum.

By the way, photographing enchiladas in a pretty way = impossible.

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And that is why I’ve lost no weight this past week.

But hey, for my first week as a 27-year-old, I think I’m livin’ the good [eats] life!

What good eats have you enjoyed lately? 
Any healthy recipes you recommend or can’t wait to try? 

Weekend: Birthday Dinner & Christmas Clean-up

Happy Monday! (?)

Who likes Mondays, anyway? Let’s look back at this past weekend instead!

Friday night was my favorite kind of Friday: A lazy night in, going to bed early to rest up for a long run Saturday morning.

…Which didn’t happen, thanks to lots of freezing rain overnight. I spent Saturday indoors, working on some blog stuff ‘til after lunchtime. I also downloaded lots of new tunes for a new workout playlist—keep an eye out, I’ll be posting it soon!

Matt and I settled in to watch more Boardwalk Empire for an hour or two, then I got myself prettied up and Matt took me out for an early birthday dinner! (Psst, it’s actually tomorrow.)

We went to a little old-fashioned supper club restaurant nearby. Youngest people there by a good 30 years, but that’s how we roll.

I happily indulged and got a filet + twice baked potato. Glass of vino on the side.

A lil birthday dinner!

Mmm, birthday dinner.

So yummy! Alas, too full for dessert.

When we got home, we popped some champagne and had a glass (or two).

Happy {early} birthday to me!

Happy {early} birthday to me!

Matt watched some hockey while I worked on our wedding Save the Date postcards, which I’d like to get sent out this month. They are turning out so well, I can’t wait to show them off! The perfect mix of fun/quasi-vintage/us. Now, to just settle on the image to use, we are so torn…

Sunday morning, I got up early to meet some running club friends to get my long run in. It was still pretty icy out in the roads, and we had to run carefully. The run was good, but I ended up falling on my butt (after we were done, just walking) but I must have enough extra padding there, because I feel fine today. 😉

Matt and I spent the rest of our Sunday doing TONS of laundry and finally taking down all of our Christmas decorations.

Note to self: Next year, take the Christmas tree down before it’s totally dead and drops all its needles everywhere.

Oh Christmas Tree... farewell.

Oh Christmas Tree… farewell.

I spent the rest of the evening curled up on the couch with another glass of champagne (couldn’t let the rest of the bottle go to waste!) and reading a book. It’s an easy read, and interesting to think about what would happen. Nice way to end the weekend!

– – –

How was your weekend?
Highlights?

Resting Up + Party Plans

YO, party people!
I am so looking forward to this week being over already. It’s been crazyhecticnutso around here, but in a good way. Plus, I have an exciting weekend coming up!

Last week flew by because work was so crazy. At my day job in web design world, we finished off our Black Friday + Cyber Monday sales, and kicked off our Christmas sales, so we’re in the home stretch for marketing land. It feels good to make it this far without losing my sanity (too much).

chateau st. michelle wine

delicio-so

Thank you, vino.

The week left me exhausted, and I was oh-so-happy when Friday rolled around. I had some web design training during the day (love going to “school”!), then returned home to some happy hour festivities with a buddy that will be leaving the hallowed work halls soon. Wah.

After that, I headed over to my company’s annual holiday party, where I got some yummy dinner and chatted it up with lots of co-workers. I stayed for a couple hours, then called it a night and headed home. I was ready for some sleep!

Saturday morning, I was supposed to run the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis 5K. I did this run last year. It was well-organized, fun and well worth facing the cold then. But, temps were under 5 degrees, with a wind chill well below zero… Based on how miserably cold my Turkey Trot run felt last month, and with the temps even warmer then, I decided to skip the race.

A lot of my running club still went to the race, and I felt a little guilty for not going myself. What am I, a pansy? How cold is too cold, when it comes to winter running? What do you think?

In the end, I was pretty glad I skipped the race—I was so exhausted from Thanksgiving and the work week, so I really needed some extra zzz’s. I finally felt well-rested and was able to get a head start on all the work I needed to do around the house.

Why so much work to do here? We’re finally having a housewarming party this coming weekend! I LOOOOVE Christmas, so what better excuse to throw a holiday + housewarming party (finally)? We’re trying to put the finishing touches on every room, make our place spic ‘n’ span, get our holiday decorations up, and plan out our yummy food menus for the party before Saturday arrives.

We are having a ton of people over, so we’re doing a heavy spread of appetizers instead of a real “dinner” or anything. So far on the list we have:

  • Cheese, crackers, olives & grapes
  • Veggies, dip, hummus
  • Swedish Meatballs
  • Taco dip + chips
  • Guacamole, salsa, chips
  • Salamis, green olives & mozzarella kabobs (festive!)
  • Spinach & artichoke bites (<– Thanks, Pinterest)
  • Brie, cranberry sauce & pistachio bites
  • Smoked salmon & chive cream cheese on cucumbers
  • Pepperoni rolls (<– Mom’s specialty)
  • Oreo truffles
  • Nutella brownies

Ahh, I’m already hungry just thinkin’ about it.

What are your favorite party foods?

Anything we should add to the spread? 

How cold is too cold when it comes to running?

Eats of the Week

Well my [rather unhealthy] eats post last week seemed to be pretty popular, so here are more pictures of my eats this week. Some healthy…some not so much.

Let’s start with the “not so much”:

caramelized bacon and chocolate chip pancakes
Caramelized bacon & chocolate chip pancakes. Ohhh, that perfect combo of salty & sweet!
With bacon and eggs on the side.
Oh yeah, and rounded out with a Horny Goat HornyCopia Pumpkin Ale.
(Does it make it any better if I say I could barely finish even one of those giant pancakes?)

bacon, tomato, guacamole and cheese sandwich
The best sandwich I ate all week: Bacon, tomato, guacamole & colby jack cheese on whole grain bread. Must recreate for dinner.

chicken fajitas and taco dip
Mexican fiesta dinner night: Chicken fajitas! At least I can feel good about all those veggies. But then there’s that taco dip. Another healthy “not so much.” But I looove taco dip. Ole!

Kind fruit & nut bars
Kind fruit & nut bars. These are so yummy. Healthy, wholesome & delish afternoon snack that actually keeps me full.

homemade spaghetti and meat sauce
Matt’s spaghetti & homemade meat sauce. Love when he cooks me dinner!

wollersheim winery
Wisconsin wine. My older sister’s favorite! She didn’t finish it while here last weekend, so I did the honors for her. 😉

There you go, top eats of the week. Good thing I started running again…?

What good stuff did you eat this week?