Weekly Recipes: Chicken and Risotto Casserole

10.10.14

For this “Weekly Recipes” post, we give you a chicken and risotto casserole, courtesy of Applegate.

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes Applegate Natural Chicken Patties
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 basil leaves minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth (reserve ½ cup)
  • 2 lbs fresh spinach or 10 oz. bag frozen spinach – thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • Tomato sauce – recipe follows
  • 1 Package Applegate Organic Provolone Cheese (rBGH-Free)
Fresh Tomato Sauce*

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion minced (approx 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28-oz. can chopped plum tomatoes
  • 12 basil leaves rough chopped
  • Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste
* SUBSTITUTE 16 oz. jar of tomato sauce

Directions

Rice:

  1. In a medium sauce pan, sauté onion, pepper, and garlic in olive oil until golden.
  2. Add basil, rice, salt and pepper and sauté until the rice starts to get translucent (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add half the stock and simmer while stirring until all the liquid is incorporated into the rice mixture.
  4. Repeat this step with the remaining stock, pull off the heat and add the parmesan cheese stirring as you go until it is evenly mixed.
  5. Set aside.

Spinach:

  1. In a medium pan sauté garlic in the oil until golden.
  2. Add spinach until wilted (approx 30 seconds).
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside

Assembly:Spread the rice into a heat proof casserole dish large enough to fit 8 chicken patties.

  1. Add stock and distribute evenly among the rice mixture.
  2. Spread out patties evenly over the rice mixture.
  3. Ladle one heaping tablespoon of sauce over each patty.
  4. Distribute the spinach on top of the 8 patties.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  6. Cut about 4 slices of provolone cheese in thin strips and crisscross over chicken for the last two minutes of baking.

posted by Jenna T. on 10/10/14  /   /  Leave a Comment

The Art of Juicing: Recipes for Regular Blenders

10.7.14

For this post of our juicing series, we bring you recipes for juicing with a regular blender. Fun story, even though I love juicing, I don’t have a juicer at home. I know, the horror! Living in NYC, I usually buy juices from my favorite juicing spots, or at my gym.

While at home, I use my regular blender and can still make some amazing juices. A few tips for juicing with a regular blender:

  • Add any liquids first.
  • Chop fruits and vegetables into small 1-inch chunks; the less powerful your blender is, the smaller you need to make the pieces.
  • Use the “pulse” function to further chop the ingredients before fully blending.
  • Alternate between low and high blend speeds to avoid clumping or having to scrape the sides too often.
  • Always strain the completed mixture before drinking!

 

Green Smoothie

3/4 cup/6 oz water

1/2 cup spinach

1/4 cup cucumber

1 celery stalk

1/2 small bunch parsley

1 apple (cored)

1/4 inch ginger

Juice 1/2 lime

3/4 cup ice

Directions: Add ingredients to blender in order listed. Pulse until ingredients are in small chunks. Alternate between low and high blending speeds until blended. Strain if necessary.

 

Carrot, Apple and Beet Juice

1 large beet

6 carrots

1-2 apples

2 celery slices

handful of collared greens

1/2 – 1 cup water

Directions: Add 1 ingredient at a time with a little bit of water. Pulse first, then alternate between low and high blending speeds until smooth. Strain juice and add extra water to thin if necessary.

 

Post-Workout Refueler (yields 2 servings) from Health.com

2 medium oranges (peeled and cut into chunks)

1/4 cup whole, raw almonds

1 small sweet potato (about 4 oz), scrubbed and coarsely chopped

1 medium apple, cored and cubed

1/2 cup water

Directions: In a blender, combine oranges, almonds, sweet potato, apple, and water; blend, scraping down sides occasionally, until smooth. Strain juice and, if desired, thin with additional water. Refrigerate up to 2 days (shake before serving).

 

Energy Upper from Health.com

1 can (20 oz) lychess in syrup, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen and thawed peaches

3/4 cup coconut water

Directions: In a blender, combine lychees, peaches, and coconut water; blend, scraping down sides occasionally, until smooth. Strain juice and, if desired, thin with water. Refrigerate up to 2 days (shake before serving).

posted by Jenna T. on 10/07/14  /  Tags: , ,  /  Leave a Comment

Weekly Recipes: Porcini Mushroom and Kale Buckwheat Risotto

10.3.14

We are always on the lookout for new and unique recipes. This one from The Holistic Ingredient caught our eye and we just had to try it. Let us tell you it did not disappoint!

Porcini Mushroom and Kale Buckwheat Risotto

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup raw buckwheat
  • 1 cup mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup kale, finely sliced
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour boiling water over the porcini mushrooms. Set aside.
  2. Pour chicken stock into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower heat to a gentle simmer.
  3. Heat large saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Add the coconut oil, onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add buckwheat and saute until well coated, stirring continuously.
  5. Pour in 1/2 cup stock and stir gently until liquid is absorbed.
  6. Drain porcini mushrooms and slice. Add to saucepan with other mushrooms and 1/2 cup stock. Stir gently until liquid is absorbed.
  7. Add kale and 1/2 cup stock until liquid is absorbed.
  8. Add last 1/2 cup of stock and sea salt.
  9. Once liquid is fully absorbed, add coconut milk and heat for 3 minutes or until thick and heated through.

Enjoy and let us know what you thought!

posted by Jenna T. on 10/03/14  /  Tags: , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

Waiting for the Squat Rack : vol 1

4.16.14

Waiting for the squat rack is annoying. Period, point blank.

If you’re a gym head, you’ll know what I mean. The squat rack is the place where my workouts always begin. I begin my workout with The Squat. The Squat is one of the most difficult and rewarding exercises to do.

So when I have to wait for a squat rack to be “available” … it means I’m off to a rough start.

Now that  I’ve been “back at it” for 4 weeks (back at the gym that is)  I see not many things have changed, since I first started lifting weights back in… nineteen ninety something (1997 or 1998)…

1) There are still lots of people who do not know how to properly lift free weights.
2) There are still lots of people who come to the gym to socialize and talk (A LOT), about things unrelated to working out.
3) There are still people who don’t have proper “gym etiquette”, and will occupy a squat rack for a LONG time…. and take 10+ minute breaks in between sets (this is far too long, and please don’t walk away from the squat rack as it looks like you’re done if you leave it unattended. Gym etiquette post to come soon).

So sadly not much has changed at the gym….

On the other hand, something HAS changed in the last umpteen years… Me :) I’ve changed.
I am older (in years, not in spirit). I am actually (surprisingly) stronger than I’ve been in awhile, and am on my way to lifting heavier weights than I did when I was in my early 20′s. {Go me!}

My best numbers back in my 20′s:
Squatting: 135lbs for high reps (15-20)
Deadlifting: 185lbs for high reps (15-20)
Deadlifting: 265 for low reps (3-5)

I was a beast in my 20′s!

It’s been more than 7 years since I went to the gym in any sort of consistent fashion. And now at my 4th week back, I am already squatting 135lbs at 10 reps, and Deadlifting 145lbs at 10 reps.
{Side note: the deadlift is tricky because it’s not just about your quads/glutes/lower back. Your forearms have to be able to hold the bar. At this point my quads/glutes/lower back could handle higher weight, but my forearms need some time to get stronger. So I will take it slowly to build up….}

I’m on my way to beating my 20+year old self!

Another thing that has changed, is my new love (which I started 4 weeks ago) of a daily intake of fresh green juice smoothies! In all my years of lifting weights, and eating meticulously (high protein/low carb), I never before encountered this phenomenon. “Back in the day” I knew how to eat for quick muscle recovery and sustained energy. And now these green smoothies have taken my eating habits to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL.

Simple put:

Greens will provide you with the protein that builds muscle
Fruit will provide you with the simple sugars that fuel muscle

Green smoothies have also obliterated my caffeine cravings. {what}. Yes, you read that correctly. I no longer crave coffee.

This is an entirely new lifestyle for me. One that has literally changed my life. And the best part is, there are so many recipe options, that it never gets boring!

Below is one of my favorite recipes:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) pineapple juice
  • 1  cup (262 g) green grapes
  • 1/4  Bartlett pear, ripe, seeded and halved
  • Tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (23 g) coarsely chopped broccoli
  • 1 large whole leaf of collards, washed
  • 1/4 cup beets
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) ice cubes

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into the blender in the order listed and secure lid. (I use a Vitamix 5200)

 

 

2. For those using a Vitamix, select Variable 1. With other blenders, start on low.

3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.

4. Blend for 35-40 seconds or until mixture is smooth.

 

 

Yum. Enjoy.

posted by Sojourner on 04/16/14  /   /  2 Comments

The Art of Juicing

3.19.14

Since the summer is fast approaching, and will be here before we know it (oh please, be here soon!) we decided to start a series with posts of all things juicing.

Who doesn’t like a refreshingly cold and delicious juice or smoothie in those brutal summer months? And let’s face it, with the crazy winter we just had, we will need to prepare ourselves for this summer. We are here to give you some healthy, but still delicious, juice recipes.

 

However, first things first, you need to know a few tips and tricks on how to juice.

What should I juice?

You can juice almost every fruit and vegetable out there. However, we suggest paying particular attention to the veggies because these create healthier juices. Fruits contain natural sugars that veggies do not, so all-fruit juices will be adding too much sugar to your diet. That being said, do add some fruit or lemon/lime to the mix to make your juice delicious!

When should I have my juice?

After you make your juice (especially green juices), don’t wait too long after making it. You may want to chill your recently made juice for a little longer, but we suggest waiting no longer than 15 minutes.

Don’t drink a juice immediately after a meal. Although you shouldn’t use juices as a substitute to meals (unless detoxing/fasting or as a snack), you should drink your juice on an empty stomach. This allows the vitamins and minerals to quickly absorb into your body. We suggest waiting 20 minutes after drinking to consume your meal, and waiting 2 hours after consuming a meal to drink a juice.

Also, don’t drink your juice too fast, you should take the time to enjoy your juice, i.e don’t chug it!

 

 

Recipes Round 1:

 

Road Runner from Just Juice

1 cup of alfalfa sprouts

1 whole red cabbage

2 cucumbers

5 grapes (optional for added sweetness)

 

Blackberry-Kiwi

1 cup blackberries

1 kiwi

1 medium pear

30 leaves of peppermint

pineapple (peeled, cored) 1/4 of fruit

 

Lemon Lime Green Juice (serves 2) from Food Babe

1 bunch of any green of your choice (collards, chard, spinach, kale, dandelion)

2 cucumbers

1/2 bunch herbs like parsley, cilantro or mint

1 lemon, peeled

1 lime, peeled

1 green apple (optional for added sweetness)

Directions: Juice (in order) greens, herbs, lemon, lime, cucumber. Stir mixture before serving.

 

“Creamsicle” (yields 30oz)

2 medium apples (3″ diameter)

3 large celery stalks (11 – 12″ long)

1 orange (peeled)

2 medium pears

1 sweet potato (5″ long)

 

“Breast Cancer Awareness Juice” (yields 32oz) from Juice Recipes

1/2 lemon

1 large tomato

1 large wedge of watermelon (1/8 of melon)

Directions: Add lemon, then tomato. Add pieces of watermelon until you make 32oz.

 

Pineapple, Blueberry and Ginger Juice (yields 12oz) from Stanford Medicine

1/4 pineapple

1 cup blueberries

1 piece fresh ginger (1/4 – 1/2 inch)

 

So get to juicing my friends and grab a lounge chair, drink umbrella, and sunglasses. Who knows, you may trick yourself into think it is already the summer!

posted by Jenna T. on 03/19/14  /  Tags: , , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

March Madness School registration

3.16.14

It’s that time of year again. March Madness School registration!

Its the time when parents hustle around to get medical forms in order, applications completed, all in the name of registering for the next school year.  From Pre-School to High School, the school application/registration process is a big deal.

The first BIG step for parents is enrollment into a Pre-K or Kindergarten school. What an exciting milestone for parents and tikes! Right?

Well… yes… sort of.

This exciting time, can often be met with anxiety and sometimes stress…

Enrollment into public schools has changed drastically over the years. Enrollment used to be done directly at the school of choice. A parent would simply walk into the schools office, fill out some papers, hand in some medical forms and possibly prior school records (in case of a transfer) and the child would be registered.

This is no longer the case in areas such as Long Island and New York City.

So let’s take a look at the process. We’ll start with Long Island, which is where my family lives.

On Long Island, we’ll be registering our 4yr old son into Kindergarten for Fall 2014. We are hugely excited about this, because our son will be enrolled into the same great public school, that his older brother currently attends. This means:

  • 1 drop off location each morning (versus the 2 drop offs we currently do).
  • No more private school tuition (pre-school and pre-K for both sons was a pretty penny).
  • Both of our sons will attend the same school (for the next 3 years), which we think is just plain cool!

The Process on Long Island:

There are (4) four elementary schools which we can select from. All within a fairly short distance from our home. On the registration papers, we are to select the school we would like for our son to attend, by rank ordering our preferences (#1, #2, etc). Although they can not guarantee the #1 selection for everyone, they do make it a point to keep siblings together. So we pretty much are guaranteed our son will attend the same school as his older brother. We receive a letter during the summer, which confirms our sons enrollment. From there are all we do is show up on the first day of school. Essentially, the application process is the registration/enrollment process.

For the most part, the process is the same all over Long Island. In each town there are multiple elementary schools, 1-2  middle schools, and then 1 main regional high school. Parents submit their choice of school for elementary level, and (from I am told of other Long Island parents) they pretty much get their selection. This same process continues with middle school and high school. There may be a few exceptions, but generally it’s a fairly simple process.

On the contrary, New York City  (which is about 25 miles from our home) is a different story.  Enrollment into public schools in New York City is a more delicate and challenging process.There will be many parents faced with the stressful and daunting process of paper shuffling, interviews, several required school tours, lotteries, phone calls, and more. All in the name of getting their kid into the Pre-K or Kindergarten school of choice.

 

The process for NYC schools

There are (2) two types of programs: Public School Programs and Community Based Programs.

Requirements: Children who live in NYC must be turning 4 in year of application (i.e 2014) by September of that year.

Options:
Full Day (6 hrs 20 min)
Half Day (2 hrs and 30 min) *Can take place in AM or PM

Parents will first “apply” to schools. Then wait {and wait} for decision letters. Then they’ll have an opportunity to register their kids for the school they were accepted in to, by a certain deadline. Essentially, the application process is: apply, then wait for decision letter, then register by a specified date. Although between “application” and “decision letters”  there may be a myriad of other factors and steps involved, including a lottery system.

**PUBLIC SCHOOL PROGRAMS**
-Application period begins on March 3
-Applications period ends April 23
-Decision Letters sent to Families in June {Some are acceptance letters, some are rejection letters}
-Pre-registration period June 9-20 (must complete by June 20th or you lose your child’s seat)

Notes:
-Admission is not first-come, first served, each application received by deadline is treated the same
-No guarantee of placement as number of applicants typically exceeds the number of seats available
-Free (no tuition)
-Must rank school programs in order of preference (12 lines)
-Must list siblings school, list school more than once if you are applying to more than one session

{So your kid may not get into the closest elementary school, nor your school of choice. You may have to travel out of your neighborhoods, bypassing several schools….}

Admissions Priorities for Public School Programs
-There are different levels of admissions based on zone of particular school {check here for details, although you’ll want to do more research to find other details about the levels of admission}
-Consideration is given to those who have a sibling who attends a particular school
-If there are more applicants than seats within a given priority group, seats will be assigned by random lottery to members of that group. {In some cases parents will sit in a large room, like a gymnasium, etc, and watch admissions personnel during the lottery process. They are literally waiting to find out what seat they get}

 

Full Description of Priority Group:
1 – Zoned w/ sibling: Zoned students with a sibling at the school*
2 – Zoned: Other zoned students *
3 – In-district w/sibling: In-district students with a sibling at the school who have no zoned school or whose zoned school has no pre-k program
4 – In-district w/ sibling: In-district students with a sibling at the school who are zoned to a different school which has a pre-k program
5 – In-borough w/ sibling: In-borough students with a sibling at the school
6 – Out-borough w/ sibling: Out-of-borough students with a sibling at the school
7 – In-district: In-district students with no zoned school or whose zoned school has no pre-k program
8 – In-district: In-district students applying to a school other than their zoned school
9 – In-borough: In-borough students
10 – Out-of-borough: Out-of-borough students

*Not applicable for non-zoned schools

**COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATION (CBO) PROGRAMS**
-Ongoing application process {no deadline}
-Admissions priorities vary by program, typically, first-come, first-served
-Some programs have individual eligibility requirements

-Must first speak directly to program you would like for your child
-Must submit a separate application for each program in person as there is no online system
-Free {no tuition}

*Community Based Programs are not offered in every neighborhood. Some parents opt to travel a bit to have their child attend a CBO program.

There are also GIFTED AND TALENTED school programs, and CHARTER schools. Each with their own distinct set of admissions/application policies. Be sure to check with your local enrollment office for details.

Good luck {and God speed} to all of the parents!

posted by Sojourner on 03/16/14  /  Tags: , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

Home Decor Book Nook

12.9.13

When thinking about my dream home (or from looking at the home decor page on Pinterest) one of the things I covet most is a book nook. That’s right, I dream of a book nook before my kitchen or bedroom. Sure, a state of the art oven is an amazing thing to have, but the true way to my heart is shelves of books and a comfy spot to read them in. I love curling up with a book and forgetting everything else in the world for a few hours. It’s my time to unwind and let my mind drift to ideas I didn’t know existed.

Below are a few pictures of my favorite designs for a book nook. Now, to only implement it in my future home…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although this isn’t a book nook, my OCD greatly appreciates the color coordination. Plus, the colors add something visually unique to these white bookshelves.

 

posted by Jenna T. on 12/09/13  /  Tags: , , , ,  /  1 Comment

What’s Fall without Pumpkin?

10.9.13

We think it’s safe to say that when October rolls around, we start to think about pumpkins. Whether it’s the pumpkin for your front porch for Halloween night, the Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks, or a Pumpkin Ale at your local bar, it isn’t fall until you’ve enjoyed the smell or taste of this versatile fruit!

We browsed the web for some of the most tempting pumpkin recipes we could find and had to share them with you. Let us know what you try and which ones are your favorites!

 

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

 

Pumpkin Oreo Cheesecake Bars

 

Nutella Swirled Pumpkin Bars

 

Pumpkin Soup

 

 

Pumpkin Muffins with Orange Glaze

 

 

 

 

 

posted by Jenna T. on 10/09/13  /  Tags: , , , , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

Original Knots

7.17.13
Tying a tie can be done in so many different ways. If you are bored of a generic tie, this article is for you!

Surprise your friends, family and colleagues by wearing a classy and unusual tie knot. In the following article, you can find two original knots.

 

The first one is the Trinity knot:

 

This is how to achieve the look:

The second one is the  Eldredge knot:

Check the following picture for the instructions:

 

 

posted by kevin on 07/17/13  /  Tags: , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

Gentleman Collars

3.17.13

To the guys,

We spend a lot time looking for a suit that fits perfectly. But this isn’t as simple as making sure you can button it up. A key element in any suit is the collar you choose. This seemingly minor piece to the larger outfit is important in framing the man’s face and accentuating the overall style of the suit.

The collar should be a play on your personal style. This may be a conservative, vintage, original, or a modern look.

To help you to find your perfect collar, here is a “guide” which I hope will transform you as a shirt expert.

- Collars can be categorized as:

  • Standing or stand-up, fitting up around the neck and not lying on the shoulders.
  • Turnover, standing around the neck and then folded or rolled over.
  • Flat or falling, lying flat on the shoulders
- Here are different collars, all the options are available to make sure that you find your look.

posted by kevin on 03/17/13  /  Tags: , , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

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