Weekly Menu 6.30.13 - 7.6.13 and Weekly Wrap-Up

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weekly Menu:  It' s a week full of grillin'!

Sunday: Buffalo Blue Bacon Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

Monday:  Grilled Chicken with Slatherin' Sauce (tried this stuff at Costco today and immediately grabbed a bottle  - no artificial anything or preservatives and locally made in Charleston, SC) with Grilled Green Beans

Tuesday:  Grilled Plank Fish with Pioneer Woman's Pineapple Mango Salsa (recipe here)  

Wednesday: Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops with Arugula Salad (recipe here)

Thursday: **Cook out with the Family for 4th of July**

Friday: Plank Grilled Filet Mignon Smothered with Pimento Cheese (recipe here and here)

Saturday:  Date Night

Weekly Wrap-Up:

Admiring my sister's green thumb on Sunday.

Grateful for a quick dinner on Monday.

Sharing the best salad I have ever made on Tuesday.

Lifting weights with this gym rat on Wednesday. 

Soaking up the beauty of this sunrise on Thursday.

 Lamenting over summer beach-town traffic on Friday. 

Finding out the hard way it's best to remain on dry land with water this rough on Saturday.  

It's the Freakin Weekend...

Friday, June 28, 2013

...baby I'm about to have me some fun.  Sorry for the 2003 reference, I couldn't resist.

Thank the Good Lawd it's Friday!  This week has been a hectic one at work - you know that 'ole "when it rains it pours" saying?  Well this week I experienced a monsoon.  

Luckily, I have weekend packed with some much needed QT with a few of my favorite people.  Tonight I'm grabbing sushi with my cousin Jillian to celebrate her engagement (YAY!), tomorrow I'll be lounging on the beach with Lauren, one of my best friends and college (and law school) roommate, and her adorable kids, tomorrow night Scott and I are meeting a few of our favorite couples at Frank's Outback for dinner and cocktails, and Sunday will be dedicated to a few chores and recovering from a whirlwind weekend!

Today's workout: 

1. Warm up

2. Ab Circuit:  2 sets, less than a minute rest between sets
      - Planks 60 second, lifting opposite arms and legs for 10 second spurts to increase intensity
      - L sit ups x 12
      - Hammer hits 8 lbs hammer x 12 per side

Plank (modified to increase intensity)
L Sit-up (Using the glute ham allows you to increase range of motion)

L Sit-up (the "up" part)
Hammer Hits

3. Dead lifts:
- Warm up: 95 lbs x 3, 3 sets
- Warm up: 115 lbs x 3, 2 sets
- 1st set: 135 lbs x 3
- 2nd set: 145 lbs x 3
- 3rd set: 155 lbs x 3
I admonished the photographer today for failing to capture good (i.e. I don't look like a troll) action shots of the dead lift.  Apparently, my constructive criticism didn't work. 

4.  Circuit:  Alternating between over head press and pull ups
     - Over head Press
          Warm up:  Bar x 3
          1st set: 50 lbs x 3
          2nd set:  55 lbs x 3
          3rd set:  60 lbs x 10 (PR!)
      - Pull up with resistance band 
         Warm up - 2nd set x 3
          3rd set: x 10

Overhead Press
5.  Prowler:  4 trips, 50 yards per trip, jogging
      - 1st trip:  no added weight
      - 2nd trip: 10 lbs on prowler
      - 3rd trip:  20 lbs on prowler
      - 4th trip:  30 lbs on prowler

Hope you all have a fun and relaxing weekend!

Happy Friday!!

Healthy(er) Banana Bread

Thursday, June 27, 2013

 I am not a baker. 

Which is very odd considering my mom and my grandmothers on both sides are excellent bakers. 

Every year at Christmas my Grandma will make 200+ dozen cookies from scratch with about 20+ varieties, all of which are over the top delicious and worth every pound they add to my hips.  My grandmother can make the absolute best biscuits to ever grace your taste buds; buttery, flaky and melt in your mouth deliciousness.  And don't even think about passing up the sausage gravy when it comes your way as a gesture of kindness to your waistline; that would be the biggest regret of your life.

Sadly enough, the baking gene must have skipped a generation.  

I just don't have the patience for it.  It takes to much precision, too much measuring, and I'd rather run a marathon (ha!) than to have to actually sift flour - what a complete waste of time (note the whisking trick below).

Baked goods that come from my kitchen are generally courtesy of our good friends over at Ghiradelli.  Scott isn't complaining; their brownie mixes are insanely delicious (in fact, I'm certain I couldn't do better even if I spent years developing a recipe).

There is one exception to this rule, and that's for banana bread.  I love banana bread.  It's the perfect quick breakfast, afternoon snack, or even dessert, and I typically have a few bananas left over at the end of the week that are a little too ripe to eat.   It would be sinful to let them go to waste.  

I made my first banana bread from a recipe that I am pretty sure I got from my mom.  It was a traditional banana bread complete with white flour, lots of white sugar and lots of butter.  In other words, it was pretty damn tasty. 

However, as I became more conscious of my health over the years, I began to tinker with the recipe to make it a bit healthier each time I made it.  First I used half white flour and half wheat flour, then I went with all wheat flour, then I replaced white sugar with brown sugar, and then with raw sugar, and then with a mix of raw sugar and honey. 

Recently I was trying to think of ways to reduce or possibly eliminate the butter all together.  I had seen a few recipes for banana bread incorporating Greek yogurt, so I decided to try adding it to my recipe.  It just so happened to be the perfect time to experiment with finding the right amount of yogurt for my banana bread because a couple of weeks back Chobani kindly sent me a large shipment of their Greek yogurt to use in my cooking.  Ah-mazing.  

After a couple of attempts, I discovered that a mixture of coconut oil and Greek yogurt in place of the butter produces an equally moist (if not more so) banana bread (I did add a pat of butter for the picture, but you really don't need it).  The Chobani worked like a charm.   My tinkering days are over; I have finally created by perfect healthy-ish banana bread.   

Healthy(er) Banana Bread:
Makes:  1 loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time:  1 hour 15 minutes

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Chobani 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
3 very ripe bananas 
2 eggs, beat
1/4 cup coconut oil, heated to liquid form (slightly warm but not hot!)
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup honey 
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
Pinch of Salt

Add ins:  Fresh or frozen fruit such as blueberries or strawberries, nuts such as pecans or walnuts or almond slivers, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, coconut flakes, or whatever your little heart desires.  I generally add a cup of fruit or nuts, but only about a half a cup of chocolate chips (really a preference thing).

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a wooden spoon.  Stir in eggs, yogurt, coconut oil, sugar, honey and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and whisk together (this will help aerate the flour much life a sifter would).  Stir flour mixture into banana mixture.  If you are adding fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, etc., stir them in now.  Pour batter into a greased (or parchment paper lined) 9 x 5 loaf pan.  Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.  

Disclaimer:  Chobani did not pay me to write this blog post; they were, however, kind enough to send me a large box of Greek yogurt. Notwithstanding, my opinions of the yogurt are my own. 

Jax's Visit

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I was not very happy with myself this morning.
Making it look easy

We went to bed a little too late last night, so I was a little groggy leaving the house this morning and headed to the gym sans camera.  Bad timing to be so forgetful on my part because my nephew, Jax, joined us at the gym this morning, and I really, really wanted to get some good pictures of his workout (please pardon the grainy iPhone shots).  I was so impressed with him! 

He started with sled drags; three trips of fifty yards with 50 lbs on the sled.

Afterwards, Scott put him through a circuit of reverse lunges, pushups, TRX rows and planks. Scott's goal was to try to show him some body weight movements that he can continue to do at home  - no equipment necessary.

Jax completed three rounds of the circuit, with King never more than a few feet away.   King adores Jax, who never fails to take him into the yard to fetch and tug when he visits our house (despite King's unfair size advantage and tendency to snarl like a rabbid animal whilst playing).  
King was thrilled to see that his friend had come to play with him so early this morning. 
Reunited and it feels so good!

After the workout, Jax completed one trip on the prowler.  One trip was all he needed to realize what a beast that contraption is.  You did great Jax!!

I also managed to get a workout in.   It looked like this:

1.  Warm up

2.  Ab Circuit:  2 sets, less than a minute rest between sets
       - Ab wheel x 10
       - Modified reverse hyper extension x 10
       - Leg raise with hip lift x 10
       - Side bend 50 lbs x 10

3.  Circuit:  Alternating between bench press and chest supported row
      - Bench Press
           Warm up:  Bar x 5
           Warm up:  55 lbs x 5
           Warm up:  65 lbs x 5
           1st set:  75 lbs x 3
           2nd set:  80 lbs x 3
           3rd set:  85 lbs x 3
       - Chest Supported Row:  20 lbs x 10 (between every bench press set)

4.  Circuit:  5 sets, alternating between exercises, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest
      - TRX rows
      - Resistance band push downs 
      - Push ups
      - Curls 20 lbs

5.  Prowler:  5 trips with high handles, 50 yards per trip,  20 lbs on the prowler

Just in case you wanted a close up of that face...

I'm not rabbid, I'm happy!

Seared Ahi Tuna Salad (with Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

There are not a lot of healthy places to eat lunch around my office.

And by not a lot, I mean one, Bay Naturals, a local health food store with a deli attached.  I'm pretty sure they know my order by heart and always remind me it would be smarter for me just to call in rather than waiting in a line for 15 to 30 minutes (it's a popular spot). 

Problem is, although I love Bay Naturals, I am always hopeful that I will discover a new, healthy option to enjoy for lunch.  You know, to spice my weekly routine up a bit. 

You know you're old when finding a new lunch spot is the highlight of your work week.

On a typical day that I actually leave the office for lunch, I will drive around town for a good thirty minutes trying to find something new to eat, only to end up back at Bay Naturals, in line for my Dill Chicken Salad with Green Goddess Dressing and a Black Tea. 

One day I got lucky.  I'd even go so far as to say I hit the jack pot for new lunch spots.  I found my way into Sobaya Japanese Restaurant by way of a recommendation from some of the lawyers at my old firm who gave it a glowing review.  It did not disappoint. 

The food is so fresh and delicious, not at all what you would expect to find at your typical Japanese lunch spot.  They do have the expected tepanyaki style dishes (albeit better, with fresher ingredients and the most amazing ginger sauce I have ever tasted), but they also offer sushi, udon, soba, and ramen noodle dishes, creative salads, and rice bowls.  Icing on the cake - the people that work there are so unbelievably friendly.  They always put a smile on my face.  

My favorite lunch dish is their seared ahi tuna served over mixed greens with seared asparagus, shaved cucumbers, and a mind blowing homemade yuzu (citrus) dressing.  It's truly unreal - words cannot describe my love for this salad. 

So the point of this long, round about story with the accidental review of two local restaurants is this - I freakin' love this salad so much, I was determined to recreate it at home.  Unfortunately I have not been able to get my hands on yuzu (a Asian citrus fruit), so I substituted the yuzu dressing with a spicy ginger vinaigrette.  It's pretty tasty, but only a close second to the yuzu. 

So if you live in the area, give Sobaya a try, if for no other reason than to tell me how I stack up.

Seared Ahi Tuna Salad (with Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette)
Serves: 2
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes
Total Time:  40 minutes

For Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sesame oil 
2 tablespoons of grape seed oil
2 tablespoons of mirin
2 tablespoons of orange juice
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
Sriracha (start with 1 tablespoon and keep adding until dressing reaches desired spiciness)

For Salad
1 pound of ahi tuna (halve if one whole piece)
2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (or other oil to cook with)
8 ounces of mixed greens, divided
1 bunch of asparagus (cut of tough ends)
1 cucumber (or four minis)
2 avocados, diced
Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette 

For Dressing:  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.

For Salad:  Thinly slice cucumbers using a vegetable peeler or mandoline.  Season tuna salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet and allow to heat.  Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and sear for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove asparagus and wipe pan clean (careful, its pretty darn hot).  Allow pan to reheat over high heat.  Add remaining tablespoon of oil and allow to heat.    Sear tuna for 2-3 minutes per side (for medium rare).  Slice tuna against the grain.  Assemble spring mix, sliced cucumber, asparagus, avocado and tuna on a plate.  Top with Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette.  Serve with extra Sriracha on side.  Store excess dressing in fridge for a week or so.

Inspired by Ahi Tuna Salad from Sobaya Japanese Bistro in Myrtle Beach.

It goes without saying my opinions are not important enough to get paid for.  I just really like these restaurants and they fit perfectly with today's post.  

New Weekend Haunts

Monday, June 24, 2013

A few things:

1.  We paid a visit to the gun range this weekend for a little target practice and so I could shoot my .380 for the first time.  Yes, I've had it for a few months, but bullets aren't exactly easy to come by these days (which wreaks havoc on my inner conspiracy theorist).  I learned the following:  (a) I haven't lost my touch with the 9mm, (b) my tiny, pocket size .380 kicks like a mule, (c) as a result of (b), I have only about a 60% chance of possibly maiming an intruder or attacker with the .380 (i.e. I need a bit of practice), and (d) gun ranges draw some very colorful and entertaining individuals.  It may just be my new weekend hang out; I think I'd fit right in.  

2.  It's truly embarrassing for me to run into people I know at the grocery store.  I ran into my friend Jenny and her family at the store this past weekend.  They had a normal grocery haul for a family of three in their cart.  Meanwhile, my cart is crammed to the brim with enough food to feed a football team plus six kinds of cheese, several bottles of wine, gourmet dog treats, and three bars of dark chocolate (you know, the essentials).  

3.  I had my car washed on Sunday for the first time in eons.  My rims were so black from brake grease that they almost matched the paint job.  Without fail, I walk out of work this afternoon  to find that the sprinklers had left a lovely coat of white spots all over my clean car.  #whydoibother

4. I'm kind of obsessed with the new Instagram video.  It's crazy to actually hear for the first time the voices of bloggers and Instagrammers I have been following for years.  Even better, it's one more method through which we can share bits of our lives with friends and family.   I'm a fan.  Start videoing people!

Today's workout:

1.  Warm up

2.  Ab Circuit:  1 set
      - Ab wheel x 12
      - Leg raises with hip lift x 12
      - Modified reverse hyperextension x 12
      - Turkish get up, 15 lbs x 2, 25 lbs x 2

Ab Wheel (and a challenging snarl from King)
Face Off (killing him with kindness)

Leg Raise with Hip Lift
Reverse Modified Hyper

Turkish Get-Up (and King continuing is tirade)
3.  Squats:
      - Warm up:  Bar x 5
      - Warm up:  65 lbs x 5
      - Warm up:  85 lbs x 5
      - Warm up:  100 lbs x 3
      - 1st set:  110 lbs x 3
      - 2nd set:  120 lbs x 3
      - 3rd set:  15 lbs x 3


4.  Circuit:  3 sets, alternating between exercises, less than a minute rest between sets
       - Split squats 15 lbs x 10 per leg
       - Back raise 15 lbs x 15

Split Squats

Weekly Menu 6.23.13 - 6.29.13 and Weekly Wrap-Up

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Weekly Menu:

Sunday: Spicy Yogurt Lime Marinated Chicken with Blueberry Guacamole

Monday:  Sesame Encrusted Tuna with Wasabi Ponzu from Cooking Light (recipe here)

Tuesday:  Grilled Pork Chops with Carolina BBQ Sauce from A Spicy Perspective (recipe here)

Wednesday:  Blackened Salmon with Mango Avocado Salad from Against All Grain (recipe here)

Thursday: Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs from Six Sisters Stuff (recipe here)

Friday:  Spicy Grilled Shrimp Caesar (recipe to come)

Saturday:  Date Night

Weekly Wrap-Up:

Snacking on Monday (this are so darn tasty!!)

Grilling some delicious fresh seafood courtesy of one of Scott's clients on Tuesday. 

Cooking with whiskey on Wednesday (don't worry, I added a little to the food too).

  Enjoying the beautiful weather and a Neck Red Ale with my honey on Thursday.

Spending a Friday night at home with these two.

Taking aim on Saturday.

My Best Friend's Wedding

Friday, June 21, 2013

You see this happy girl?

That's my cousin, Jillian.  My side kick.  My little sister from another mister.  My old roommate.  My partner in crime.  My best friend.  

This is us circa 1984.  That's me with the sweet hoodie and stylish bangs; Jill's the one in the killer footed pajamas trying to escape. 

She never did.  It was around this time I made the decision to take Jill under my wing; she had no say in the matter.    I am pretty certain that this one decision has led her into more trouble than good fortune in the last thirty years, but I'll be damned if we haven't had a good time in the process.  

Little did we know then that...

I would torment her with names like "cousin it", "mute" and "tattle tale" just because I could;

I would magnanimously open her Christmas and birthday presents for her because it looked like she needed a little help; 
We would have countless sleep overs together, inevitably cut short by a call to my aunt and uncle to pick her up in the middle of the night (the forever homebody);  
We would grow up in the same 'hood, riding bikes and rollerblading until long after the sun went down;

And when we finally got our licenses, we would ditch the bikes and cruise around town in the Granny, blasting the "Been Around the World" remix and smoking our contraband cigarettes (kids don't do it, we didn't know how stupid we were); 
We would attend the same college, making it our sole mission to keep the local watering holes, Salty Nut and Pav's, in business;
We would join the same sorority, and I would come very close to being ejected from said sorority for ensuring no one messed with my beloved cousin;

We would become roommates during my law school years and spend countless hours on our front porch drinking wine, blaring music, sharing stories, and laughing 'til our stomachs hurt into the wee hours of the morning; 
We would both move back to our hometown and into houses less than five minutes from each other, where girls night, though not as frequent, would still be the highlight of our days;

And, on the day she called me to tell me she was getting married, I would cry huge crocodile tears just thinking of how happy her future husband makes her and how beautiful she will be on her wedding day (still crying).
I love you Jeeg, and I am over the moon happy for you and Joey. 

Today's Workout: 

1.  Warm up

2.  Sled Drags:  2 trips, 90 lbs on sled, 50 yards per trip

3.  Core Circuit:  1 set
      - Plank x 60 seconds
      - Leg raises with hip lift x 20
      - Modified reverse hyper extension x 20
      - Clean/press/windmill combo 25 lbs x 10 per side

Leg Raise with Hip Lift
Modified Reverse Hyper extension

Clean/Press/Windmill Combo
4.  Dead lifts
     - Warm up:  Bar x 5
     - Warm up:  65 lbs x 5
     - Warm up:  95 lbs x 5
     - 1st set:  125 lbs x 5
     - 2nd set:  135 lbs x 5
     - 3rd set:  145 lbs x 5

Dead lifts
5.  Overhead Press: 
     - 1st set:  45 lbs x 5
     - 2nd set:  50 lbs x 5
     - 3rd set:  55 lbs x 5

Overhead Press
6.  Circuit:  3 sets, no rest between sets
     - Glute ham raise x 10
     - Band assisted pull ups x 10

Glute Ham Raises
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