Happy Halloween!

School was a lot of fun today. Remember the rush of Halloween as a kid? Barely able to sit in your seat because you were dreaming about your costume and the anticipation of all the candy you were about to receive? It was enough to make me burst.

Yeah, a lot of that going on today.

Instead of letting the impending sugar rush get to me, I planned some fun Halloween themed activities. We’re working on friendly letters in writing, so we wrote to monsters and described what we were going to be for Halloween. During Readers Workshop I read Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld, and we did a sensory image exercise (while listening to Seinfeld read it himself!).

My favorite is, “Wait, what is this? The orange marshmallow shaped like a peanut? Yeah, we’ve got enough of these already.” I hate those things!

Their homework tonight is to write down how many pieces of candy they receive. Tomorrow we’re going to practice median, mode and range with our data.

Tonight, however, I’m dressed up as a lazy witch, and I’m handing out candy to the neighborhood kidlets.

Lazy witch = hat, black sports bra, black t-shirt, black yoga pants and black socks. I got lots of compliments on my hat, however. And that is what I live for. Compliments from kids on my sense of style. Don’t be jealous. You know you do to.

I have a mask on too, however, as I live in the neighborhood I teach in and I’d prefer if my students don’t know where I live. I’ve had three kidlets from my school so far, including one from the class next door, and none of them recognized me.

In between dishing out the goods I’m working on our meal plan for this week. I barely have any of it written, so instead of Meal Plan Monday, I’m bringing you a recipe. In the words of Chelsey, I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

Chicken Burlattas

for the black bean version, click here

Yields 10 burlattas

Ingredients

1 cup dry short grain brown rice

3 cups shredded chicken (leftover rotisserie chicken from Costco works great! Or 2 chicken breasts)

2.5 cups shredded Mexican cheese, divided

2 14 oz cans red enchilada sauce

1/2 a medium yellow onion, diced

10 flour tortillas (We prefer Guerrero for this recipe)

Directions

If making your own chicken, (rather than using leftover rotisserie chicken), bring a large pot of water and place chicken breast inside. Cook 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and shred.

Meanwhile, bring brown rice and 2 cups water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Once rice is cooked and chicken is shredded, add both to a large bowl. Add 1 can of enchilada sauce, 2 cups cheese and the diced onion. Mix well. Split mixture evenly between 10 tortillas. Place in a 9×13 glass pan, sprayed with cooking spray, or split between two 8×8 glass pans. Top tortillas with the second can of enchilada sauce and remaining cheese.

Bake 30 minutes. Serve topped with plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Enjoy!

I split them between two pans, one lined with aluminum foil for freezing. I flash froze the whole pan for 1-2 hours. Then I removed the burlattas from the pan and wrapped them with more aluminum foil. They will keep up to 6 months.

How did you celebrate Halloween? Did you dress up?

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WIAW travel edition: Oregon

I’ve been a bad blogger. I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which means most of my pictures never make it to the desktop. This isn’t the end of the world, but it does mean I’ve had a lot of fun eating experiences that are sitting on my camera waiting to be unleashed. Until then, I have another traveling eats edition of WIAW for y’all. Get excited

Friday morning I hit the road with my friend, and co-worker, Rhonda. Our destination is one of my all time favorite towns: Hood River, Oregon.
(source)

Hood River, the windsurfing capitol of the world, is about an hour east of Portland, OR and is full of cute shops, eateries, wineries and breweries. We started the weekend off right at Full Sail Brewing Company.

We decided to split the artichoke dip app (with delicious whole wheat pita bread) and a sampler.


After enjoying all but the hoppy brews, Rhonda and I found a table at a Cancer fundraising event that happened to be going on up the street.

A hoola hooping contest started shortly after our arrival…
I didn’t enter, but I did enjoy a little hoola hoop action.
Impressive, no?

The next morning we found Doppio, a cute little coffee shop on the main downtown road. The line was very long, but it was worth it for a table in the sunshine and local organic ingredients.


After a little shopping, we headed to our next destination: Newberg, Oregon. The half-marathon was located in Dundee, Oregon, six miles down the road. Our dinner Saturday evening wasn’t the best, but we made up for it with a stop to Sweetest Thing, an adorable cupcake shop near our hotel.

I couldn’t decide on one flavor, so I wound up getting two! On the left is the s’mores, a chocolate cake with a ganach center and marshmellow buttercream frosting (omg, yum!) and on the right is the raspberry lemon drop.

They were heavenly, and helped us avoid our SMOKING room. Sigh. I waited too long to book a hotel room, and thought I was booking a non-smoking one, but after clicking back and forth between websites too many times, the non-smoking rooms had been booked and somehow I didn’t notice. We opened the window, put both fans on high blast and used half a bottle of fabreeze. The room smelt like clean smoke for about twenty minutes. It was a miserable experience (I’m allergic to smoke), and my run may or may not have been affected by the third-hand smoke conditions. But, luckily, we were able to check into a non-smoking room the next day.

After racing and showering, we ventured into Dundee, Oregon, a small winery driven town with one stoplight, and opted to have lunch at Dundee Bistro.

I ordered a side of truffle oil fries for the table,

and the fungi pizza for myself.spinach, oyster mushrooms, sweet onions & chevre

After lunch we decided to use some of our free tasting coupons from our race swag bag. First stop was Winter’s Hill. I wound up purchasing a case of their 2007 Pinot Blanc. Reese and Rhonda were slightly more economical and split a case. But it was a rockin’ deal at $99, and Oregon doesn’t have sales tax. Win, win!

Only after we had driven there did we notice you can go on a horseback wine tour!

The second stop was De Ponte.

We actually ran through the vinyards of Winter’s Hill and De Ponte had one of the water stations on their property. It was much more enjoyable to visit them AFTER the run then when we were actually on the course 😉

After wine tasting we decided to go to Panaderia y Taqueria, a cheap, hole in the wall Mexican restaurant, and it was a very good choice. The homemade chips and salsa excited our taste buds as we waited for our meals to arrive.

I also entertained the ladies with the contents of my purse while we waited.
What, you don’t need 8 lip gloss/stick/chapstick options? Two bottles of lotion aren’t in your bag? You don’t need a supply of bandaids, pepto bismol, advil, beano, pamprin, lactaid or other random pain relievers? Psh, you’re the weird one.

After lots of laughter, our meals arrived. I could barely eat half of my super burrito, but it was very delicious!

Rhonda left Oregon vowing to start a blog about me blogging, and I left Oregon with my camera full, my body sore and my belly stuffed 🙂

Have you been to Hood River or Dundee, Oregon?

Mexican(ish) Quinoa

Whle in Yakima, (my high school hometown, not to be confused with Walla Walla, where my heart to resides and I consider my true hometown), I attempted to post a few times, but my parents live out of town, to the point where the only Internet available is via satellite. And before you start humming yourself a little Dave Matthews,

I’ll have you know you cannot watch that youtube video at an acceptable speed out at my parents house.

So instead of boo hooing about the fact that I couldn’t update y’all on my super-exciting life, I took a blogging break. I didn’t even read blogs.

Ok, that isn’t entirely true. I did read some of my favorites, and got shamelessly addicted to a new one. My friend, Mandy, tipped me off to The Bloggess, via the now-viral Pick Your Battles post.

I laughed. I cried. I wanted to leave a giant chicken on my own front porch. And I know I’ll be purchasing the greeting card for a friend or two.

While in town, my mom asked me to show her how to make quinoa. She purchased a bag years ago, and let it sit on the shelf, assuming some day she would run across a recipe calling for quinoa. She never did, and eventually threw the bag out. Saturday was her lucky day. I whipped up some of my favorite sauce to marinade our chicken, and set to work on a Mexican(ish) quinoa salad. This recipe isn’t much different than any other quinoa salad I’ve made before, but it is very tasty, and therefore must be shared.

Mexican(ish) Quinoa Salad

Salad Ingredients
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups chicken broth  (or water)
1 can black beans, rinsed/drained
2 oz cojita cheese, crumbled
½ red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
½ sweet onion, diced
10 grape tomatoes, halved
½ bunch cilantro, stems removed
1 ½ avocado, diced

Dressing Ingredients
Juice of one lime
3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
2 TBS stone ground mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Bring chicken broth, or water, to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa and reduce to simmer, 15 minutes. Remove from heat, place lid on pot, and let sit for 5 minutes. Place cooked quinoa in a bowl and place in fridge to cool.

Meanwhile, mix black beans, cojita cheese, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and cilantro in a large bowl. In a small bowl, wisk together all sauce ingredients. When quinoa is cooled, add all ingredients together, mixing in diced avocado at the end (to prevent browning).

Enjoy as a side dish to chicken or fish, or as a vegetarian entree.

Traveling to Yakima, WIAW style

While in Yakima, I sun bathed,

and burned myself.

I also enjoyed lots of delicious food. I’m going rogue for WIAW this week, offering up a travel edition, yet again. Only this time I didn’t document everything I ate, as four and a half days of eats was way too much to put in one post. Would you continue reading? Yeah, I wouldn’t either.

When I was in high school there were only 4 options for dining out: Red Robin, Olive Garden, Zesta Cucina, and Mexican food, (including tons of taco trucks). Applebee’s didn’t show up to the dining scene until I was in college. It was insanely exciting.

I’m happy to report that Yakima now has a lot more to offer these days. When I arrived Friday evening, my family and I hit up the new(ish) restaurant Creekside West.
You know you’re in Yakima when the entry way is lined with wine and the wine booklet is so thick the grommets holding it together fall off…

We split an order of sweet potato fries to start, which were served with an amazing aioli concoction: garlic and saffron. Mmmmhmmmm

My dad and I both ordered the rock crab cakes, with both the garlic saffron aioli and a tomato relish. The relish was not up my alley, it was too sweet and to tomato-pasty.

I also had a few bites of my mom’s ahi. Mmmm, perfectly pink.

And maybe a few of Libb’s beer battered fries…

The next morning, and each morning that followed, I enjoyed deck dining, fresh fruit, and raw cold oats.

Fun fact: my mom is a potter, (and I keep trying to get her to sell her stuff on etsy, hint hint again mom). Her best friend, Trudy, is also a potter. Each Christmas and birthday they exchange unique, fun or pretty mugs or bowls. I wish I had the cupboard space to hold the massive amount of fun mugs my mom has. Trudy actually hangs hers from the exposed beams in her kitchen. If I had a low enough ceilings I might do something like that.

Saturday night I taught my mom how to make quinoa, as I whipped up a Mexican(ish) quinoa salad (recipe tomorrow) to pair with grilled chicken marinated in my favorite dressing/marinade.

Sunday night I had a craving for real Mexican food, so we decided to go to El Mirador for dinner. I was in heaven when my tortillas arrived.


mmmm, I’m drooling just looking at this picture…

I ordered something new: pollo a la parrilla. I ususally order fajitas or arroz con pollo. I was quite pleased with my choice, and will have the hubs re-create it for me on the grill sometime soon.

On my final night in town, Libb (I guess I should call him Jake now, hmm?), grilled up some burgers.

Bachelor and Zoe waited expectantly.

They were denied.

With my burger, I enjoyed some watermelon, corn on the cob, a salad and some Jones of Washington Viognier.

Dogs, again, drooled and begged,

but, again, were denied. I love Bachelor’s expression, he reminds me of the talking dog:

What is your must-eat while in your hometown?

Mine is Mexican food. Yakima has a very large Hispanic population, therefore we have real Mexican food. Spokane’s idea of Mexican food is Azteca. While I enjoyed the occasional Taco Tuesday in college, Azteca isn’t really Mexican food.

Fashion Friday: TFIG!

I’ve never been more TG’d for an IF than I have this week! It was a rough one, and I thought Friday would never come. But it’s here, and I am thrilled!

This morning also started out rough, and I hit snooze a good five times before I finally accepted my fate and arose from my slumber. I contemplated skipping my elliptical date with Erica, but since I skipped Wednesday and Thursday (and felt crappy both days as a result), I decided I should just get up and go. Even though I had to shave 15 minutes off my workout, I’m glad I went. I felt refreshed and energized afterward, which set me off for a better day than had I not gone.

Although I almost died. Well, not literally, but a gal’s CHI straightening iron caught on fire at the Y this morning! While in a state of undress I noticed sparks flying all over the place, and heard a few gasps mixed with shocked screams. She wasn’t hurt too badly, but jeebus, it was nerve wracking! I was a little afraid to blow dry my hair and use my CHI afterward!

Upon arriving to work I dipped into my emergency stash of Oatfit. I completely neglected packing my breakfast and lunch last night, so I had to spend the day eating whatever I could create from my desk drawer and mini-fridge.

Not amazing, or anything even close, but it did the trick. I used to really enjoy this cheap-o, easily portable breakfast. But now that I’ve cut splenda/aspertame from my diet I really notice when it is used in products. After I finish my ridiculously large collection of Oatfit boxes I am going to only purchase non-artificial sweetener packets for my emergency stash.

Lunch was slightly more satisfying, (and I finished my pre-Lent purchased deli meat).

Pacific Organics Butternut Squash soup, turkey sammie on Thomas multi-grain English muffin (with laughing cow wedge and dijon), plus the largest apple I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and some Pellegrino. Which did add some sparkle to my afternoon, (the only festivity I had planned).

After reading a snipit in The Inlander about Agave‘s wonderful happy hour, I decided we needed to partake. I guess I did have some fun festivities up my sleeve today.

It is the happiest hour.

Agave has a 4321 menu, which includes 12 food items, 3 at each price point, ($4, $3, $2, & $1). Their drinks are also at the same price points.

The hubs was very sad he could not partake in the ancho chicken or pork belly eats, as we’ve given up meat for Lent. But I don’t think he needs to worry, we’ll definitely be back in 38 days or so.

After our friends Erica and Nate arrived, we ordered a fun assortment of appetizers…

Sweet potato fries, which originally drew me in at their $1 price!

A cheese quesadilla, which wasn’t amazing, but the tortilla’s come from DeLeon’s, which is the closest you’ll get to authentic Mexican food in Spokane.

A prickly-pear salad (with blue cheese, pears, pepitas, jicama, tomatoes, and spring greens). I will definitely be recreating this at home.

And jalapeño*-tequila edemame, which was oh so tasty.

*which was spelled jolopeno and jalopeno in a few different spots on our first menu. Our waitress swapped our menu’s out with an “updated” menu. Upon inspecting the new menu we didn’t see any foodie differences, but after I uploaded my pictures I noticed the spelling mistakes must have been the issue.

While it looks like quite a bit of food, the portions were pretty small. Not that I am complaining, you can’t expect much from the $1-4 price range. I may be whipping up some butternut squash burritos in a while….

And without further ado, here is this weeks Fashion Friday:

Monday: totally forgot to take off my badge and I still need to shine my boots.

Tuesday: I really need a new (smaller) black belt.

Wednesday’s outfit was cuter in theory than in reality.

Thursday: rockin’ those red pumps!


Friday: school spirit polka dots!

We’re about to watch Toy Story 3 🙂

What is your favorite animated film?

For me, as a kid at least, it was The Little Mermaid.

Babies and burlattas.

It seems everyone around me is having babies. One thing you should know about me: I love babies. Baby smell, baby chub rolls, baby laugh, baby everything. I have pattened the Leila Swoop, a certain sway/bounce thing I do with babies. I love it because I get an awesome glute/hamstring workout. Moms love it because (generally) their baby stops crying.

The hubs loves that my friends keep having babies because that means I make burlattas. And whenever I make a batch of burlattas for someone else, I may as well make a batch for us. Tomorrow my co-worker is coming back after an eight week maternity leave. So tonight I whipped these up to bring her in the morning.

A burlatta is a delicious mix of a burrito and an enchilada, and it has taken on a life of its own since I first started making them back in 2003. The original mix (shredded chicken, rice, enchilada sauce and cheese) was pretty much the only thing I could make for dinner that wouldn’t send the kids I nannied running for the hills. This was not due to my poor cooking skills, they were just really picky eaters.

Now I make all sorts of burlattas. And I try to make them healthier too. The nice thing about burlattas is that you can throw pretty much any veggie you want in there and they will be forgiving. Below is the recipe for Black Bean Burlattas, but you can sub chicken for the black beans, brown rice for white rice, add cilantro, whatever. They will still taste great.

Black Bean Burlattas

chicken version found here

Yields 12 burlattas


Nutritionals: Cal: 331, Carb: 42, Fat: 13, Pro: 14

Ingredients

1 cup dry rice (cook according to package or bulk bin directions)


3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained

1 20oz can red enchilada sauce

1 small can diced green chiles

1/2 bell pepper, diced (red, yellow or orange)

1/2 sweet onion, diced

5 mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp cumin

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

12 flour tortillas (although my favorite are Tortillaland, they do not hold up well for this recipe because they are too soft. Guerrero or Mission work better)

Directions

Cook rice according to package directions.

While rice is cooking dice your veggies.

Heat large skillet pan with olive oil. Add bell pepper and onion. Saute 1 minute.

Add garlic, cumin and mushrooms. Heat an additional 7-9 minutes, or until veggies are tender.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

After rice has finished cooking combine rice, black beans, veggies, 2 cups shredded cheese and 1/2 can of enchilada sauce in large bowl. Spoon mixture evenly between 12 tortillas and place in glass baking dish (I used 1 9×13 and one 8×8). Cover with remaining enchilada cheese and rest of cheese.

Bake 30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream or plain greek yogurt.

Cheesy Taco Casserole

I really hate being lactose intolerant, because I really love cheese.

Last night I left Libb some post-it notes in The Best of Cooking Light Everyday Favorites cook book. I’ve made this recipe as is before, but it calls for fat-free cheese and that pretty much tastes like rubber. So I wrote comments about everything, subbing what we had in the fridge for what the recipe called for. Libb made more modifications than I wrote, but I’m glad he did because it turned out really tasty.

Not the healthiest, but not too bad either.

*Adapted from this recipe.

Makes 4 servings

Nutritionals: Cal: 459, Carb: 43, Fat: 22, Pro: 22

Ingredients

1  cup  shredded pepperjack cheese
1  cup  chopped tomato
1  cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/3  cup  diced sweet onion
2  tsp  chili powder
2  garlic cloves, minced
6 flour tortillas (we used Tortillaland bake yourself tortillas)

Cooking spray
1  cup  taco sauce
1/3  cup  shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl.

Arrange 2 tortillas in bottom of a baking dish coated with cooking spray. I had to tear the tortillas so they would fit, like so.

Spread 1/3 taco sauce over tortillas and top with half the cheese mixture.

Repeat procedure with 2 tortillas, 1/3 taco sauce and remaining cheese mixture

Top with remaining tortillas and rest of taco sauce. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until cheese melts.

Top with avocado, fage (or sour cream) and cilantro.

I have no idea why I despised avocados for the first 22 years of my life. Oh how I missed out!

I’m glad there are 4 servings…someone can’t wait for the next leftovers night.