Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Sunday : Week Ahead!

Sunday is easily my favorite day. Saturdays are filled with teaching, errands, chores, and friend commitments. But Sunday is the day where I find the most time for myself.

After taking Spinning and CXWorx this morning (hey, instructors should keep taking class, too!), I dashed over to my local Lush on Armitage to pick up some lotion. BUT THEY WERE CLOSED! :( Sad face. Lush on Armitage is closed up for some remodeling, and it doesn't like like they'll be back until March. I'll have to make a stop at one of the downtown locations, I suppose....

A little perusing at some great consignment stores in the area, and then home to bake. And now I'm deciding what to do next: taxes or Spinning continuing education...

Both are obvious obligations. Neither sounds fun right now. So maybe I'll procrastinate. A new issue of Bon Appetit made it into my mail box the other day. Don't you just get so excited over a new magazine?! It's the happiest day ever! And I still have my Anthology magazine to get at, PLUS I've got Anna Quindlen's Every Last One winking at me. If you haven't yet, add this one to your reading list!

Looking ahead this week:

Monday - Turkey and Pesto Paninis, simple and delish.
Tuesday - Hoisin glazed salmon burgers...I'm a little skeptical about this dish, but we'll see...
Wednesday - Moroccan Chicken with Kale
Thursday - Work Dinner
Friday - TBD
Saturday - TBD
Sunday - TBD

Monday - Teach Spinning 6AM
Tuesday - Teach Body Pump/CXWorx in evening
Wednesday - Yoga @ 7PM - I need to do yoga more regularly, I need to STRETCH!
Thursday - Possible Day Off
Friday - Teach Spinning
Saturday - Teach Body Pump
Sunday - TBD

Have a relaxing Sunday evening!

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Slow it down with coconut macaroons

Do you ever feel like your week was crazy but you're just not sure why? I feel like my schedule has been a little off, like I've been super busy, but I really haven't done much out of the ordinary this week, I don't think. Maybe I've been trying to cram too much in and it's starting to catch up with me? Who knows. But thank goodness it's Saturday!

I spent the better part of my morning cleaning up around the apartment, and snuggling in with my little Ellie, but I did have time for a nice, relaxing bath with this limited edition bath bomb! And it was just what I needed...relaxing with a hint of refreshing citrus to wake me up!

How cute is he?! He's called "The Ex-Factor," I guess because you get to watch him explode in the tub and feel vengeful? I just felt calm.

I taught my usual bodypump class this afternoon. And since I have to head to Florida this week for a demo shoot, I figured I needed a pedicure. I should totally feel relaxed, right?

But what really slows me down amidst the giant weekend to-do list is a nice spot of baking. And what could be more delicately calming than coconut macaroons?

My only past experience with macaroons was sneaking them from the kitchen of the country club I worked at in high school. Man were those good cookies!

And these ones from Real Simple's 2013 magazine came pretty darn close! Made with not much more than coconut, sugar, and egg whites, you probably have everything you need for this quick recipe already in your pantry.

Here's the game plan:


  • large egg whites
  • 1/2  cup  sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 14-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut (about 5 cups)


Heat oven to 325° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Vigorously whisk together the egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl until glossy, foamy, and the sugar is mostly almost dissolved. Fold in the coconut, stirring until evenly combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop, drop the batter in mounds (about 2 tablespoons each) 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes; let cool completely. The macaroons will keep for up to 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

I was impressed at how much body these cookies had without any flour in them. Slightly delicate and subtle taste, and all sorts of gooey in the middle. These ones were definitely a winner.

What do you do when you need to slow down? Is baking ever a go-to?
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Lentil Stew w/ Mustard Greens and Sausage

Hanging out in the kitchen, my typical Sunday around here. I'm waiting for my mushroom, leek, and fontina frittata and some coconut macaroons to finish up in the oven when I realized I hadn't posted this delicious recipe from a few weeks ago. 

I got the recipe for this lentil stew with mustard greens and sausage from Real Simple's February 2013 magazine. In my opinion, Real Simple recipes can be hit or miss, and this one was definitely a HIT! Boyfriend love it and asked for more.

Here's what you'll need:

1 T olive oil
**3/4 lb Italian sausage links, casings removed
2 med. onions chopped
**2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 C. low sodium chicken broth
6 C stemmed and torn mustard greens or kale
1 lb sweet potatoes (about 2) peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 C dried lentils
salt and pepper

**I used chicken sausage links from Trader Joe's and slipped them out of the casings with a little knife slide down the side.  I used Trader Joe's frozen chopped garlic cubes, a great way to save time if you know you'll be sauteing or heating the garlic up enough for the cube to melt.

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned, 8-10 minutes. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until more fragrant, about 1 more minute

Add broth, mustard greens, sweet potatoes, lentils, 1/2 ts; salt and 1/4 tsp pepper to the pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender, 30-35 minutes.

This recipe is a little high-calorie, so watch those serving sizes. And you can substitute a less fattening chicken or turkey sausage, like I did. You can also skim the fat (looks like foam) off the top of the stew as it cooks to remove some fat. And watch how much salt you add to the stew.  BUT you're getting a lot of fiber from those lentils!

Calories 508
Fat 17g
Sat Fat 5g
Cholesterol 32mg
Sodium 1,003mg 
Protein 33g
Carbohydrate 56g
Sugar 12g
Fiber 14g
Iron 8mg
Calcium 251mg

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Needed: Relaxation!

What a busy week!
With our new season of My Strange Addiction premiering on Wednesday,  Valentine's Day on Thursday,  a potential new job interview, and picking up a few extra classes this week, things have felt a little crazy!

Boyfriend surprised me with a delicious dinner and flowers on Thursday and a gorgeous homemade card...he's the crafty one!

I'm so thankful it's the weekend...sleeping in until 7:30 and catching up on cleaning and laundry...something feels so good about getting chores done, doesn't it? One step closer to peace and order on my home.

On board for today I've got some teaching BodyPump and drinks with a girlfriend. Hopefully in there some tax organizing will take place...hopefully.

So I'll leave you with a delicious, healthy recipe from Real Simple. Trying to eat more fish? Definitely try this one and make it a staple.



  1. Steam the potatoes in a large pot until very tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, thyme, crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the halibut with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
  4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a separate large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 2 to 4 minutes. To the skillet, add as much kale as will fit and ¼ cup water and cook, tossing frequently and adding more kale when there is room, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper.
  5. Serve the halibut with the potatoes and kale. Drizzle with the lemon-thyme vinaigrette.

Hopefully I'll have time to upload some more photos and get back to posting more regularly! Have a great weekend!

And no checking your work email until Monday!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Looking Ahead!

What a busy week it's been. On top of my 5 regular classes, I ended up subbing 2 extra Body Pump classes for an instructor who is out of town. So today after I taught, I needed an epsom salt bath like woah. I think I did the hardest lunge track ever, two days in a row!

I made some Valentine's Day cupcakes to bring to work, and I had so much left-over hot pink frosting that I made some heart-shaped sugar cookies with a new pack of cookie cutters I picked up at The Chopping Block in Lincoln Square. The set of 5 cookie cutters was just about $6, and they come in a great little tin to keep them together.

Looking forward to a new episode of "Once Upon A Time" tonight, I think! They've had a bit of a hiatus the past few weeks and I'm hitting withdrawal mode.

And guess what!? I JUST discovered Downton Abbey! Can you believe it's taken so long? I'm on season 1, and I'm hooked. I've been watching it in the kitchen while chopping veggies for the week. I need to get me some cute dainty gloves and a hat, STAT.

Did anyone check out the Prabal Gurung for Target line? It came out this morning, and from browsing online, there area quite a few great pieces.

I really love this dress on the left. Not sure if it'd work for me, but super cute. 

These shoes are only $29.99. Size 7, please!

And quite a few others worth a try-on. I didn't stop by today, trying to resist the urge to spend money. But if I'm not too busy tomorrow at work, maybe I'll take a little lunch-time walk and see what's left. 

On the menu this week: 
Monday - Spaghetti, simple, easy, cheap. I'm planning on a slightly hectic day at work. 

Tuesday - Chicken Coconut Curry from TJs - they were sampling a new frozen dinner, and this one was delish. I never feel bad about a frozen dish from Trader Joe's because they're usually not crazy with the sodium and on the healthier side. Not your typical frozen meal, for sure!

Wednesday - Turkey and Pesto Paninis - keeping it simple this week is key! PLUS, I have to keep dinner tonight quick because guess what premieres...Season 4 of "My Strange Addiction" on TLC. Outside of teaching group fitness, I work in documentary/reality television, and I did the casting for this series. It's weird, I wouldn't suggest it for your kids, but please tune in!

Thursday - Valentines Day, but because of boyfriend's class schedule, we're staying in with this mushroom, leek and fontina frittata

Friday - We'll see how we feel!

I hope you're all able to finish up your weekend with some time to relax



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Get Your Greens!

What a great week of cooking! Three easy, healthy recipes really hit it out of the park for me. I'll definitely be stealing a few of these techniques and flavors for more weeknight menus.

And I have to give the credit to Real Simple and their "Green is Good" Feb. 2013 feature. I had forgotten how much I LOVE sauteed spinach, kale, all those leafy greens! And if you're not usually a cauliflower fan, try roasting it for 20 minutes, it releases a meaty, slightly buttery flavor when toasted.

Here's what you'll need:
1/4 c. pine nuts
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets (you can also buy pre-cut florets, if you're really crunched on time)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 T olive oil
1/4 c tahini (sesame seed paste; I couldn't find tahini, so I actually used a teriyaki marinade in my dressing, and added less water)
3 T fresh lemon juice (I ended up using a bit more than 3T)
10 c. stemmed and chopped kale or torn escarole
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c raisins

Heat over to 350 and toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet until golden, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Increase heat to 450. On the baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with the cayenne, 2 T of oil, 1/2 t. salt, and 1/4 t. black pepper. Roast, tossing half way, until golden, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together tahini (or marinade of choice), lemon juice, 2 T oil, 1/2 c. water, and 1/4 t each salt and black pepper. You can add more water until you achieve a creamy consistency, if using thicker tahini. Add the kale, onions, raisins, pine nuts, and cauliflower and toss to combine.

This salad was super healthy and surprisingly filling. It also held up for lunch the next day. Boyfriend was a BIG fan, too. Always an important critique from him ;) Enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Phenom Giveaway!

I usually don't enter into blog giveaways because I never think I'll win anyways, but I was surfing through bloglovin' this morning and came across this:

$400 Giveaway to Zara!?

Say what?? Hellzz Yeah! This I can get behind. And I need a new work wardrobe. Plus some fun stuff. And whatever the heck else because it's $400 to Zara! What do you want/need? I bet this gift card would help. To enter, follow the link above and follow these amazing bloggers via Bloglovin', Instagram, Twitter, and wherever else you can follow them - and not just because of this awesome giveaway, but because these ladies have major style.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

MAC Archie Collection

I like makeup, but rarely do I ever get PUMPED about makeup...I'm not THAT high maintenance.

But for some reason, I'm super stoked for this new MAC Archie collection to come out. According to my closest MAC Pro store on Armitage, my favorite place to buy MAC (I won't go to Macys or Nordstrom for MAC anymore...), it's going on sale TODAY in their store!! I'm debating if I should sneak out on my lunch hour or wait until after work to stop by. I only want one thing, and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

This eyeshadow quad called "Caramel Sundae" contains Caramel Sundae, Cheryl Chic, Dreammaker and Showstopper. I love the pink and yellow, and light brown, and would definitely use that dark brown for an eye liner. I can easily see this being my go-to Spring eye palette. And $44 is a pretty decent deal for 4 eyeshadows. 

And because I'm crazy about this new collection, I just have this feeling that other people will be to. I don't want this palette to sell out before I can get to it tonight! I'm nervous! Who ever thought eyeshadow could make a person nervous!??? I think I have a problem...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Anthology Winter 2013 : Americana!

The best feeling in the world is coming home to a mailbox stuffed with my new Anthology magazine.

Haven't heard of Anthology? It's a quarterly (4 times per year) magazine that really focuses on interior design and style, which is told through interviews and personal stories of unique individuals. There are always a few recipes, a few cute outfits, maybe a DIY or two, and LOTS of gorgeous pictures. The photography in this magazine is beautiful. And a few of them look great stacked on my coffee table. And each issue has a theme: comedy (interviewed several people in that field), music, and now, Americana.

Just glancing through the contents, I'm looking forward to:

Seaside Sanctuary - A former sea captain's house on Cape Cod is the perfect getaway for a New Yorker and his friends
Collected Works - A Colonial-style home becomes the setting for its owners' eclectic objects and art
Well Cast - Comforting skillet dishes will hit the spot, even on the coldest winter days
Cabin Fever - A move to a woodsy enclave of Southern California proves to be life-changing

If you don't have a subscription, you should sign up for one now. Otherwise, you can pick up the issues individually at Anthropologie and a few other random stores throughout the US. You can check out what might be near your home here.

*All photos taken from Anthology's blog. Thanks!

PS. How delicious does this look!?!?

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Ballet Buns! (And abs and arms)

Yesterday, the athletic club I teach at offered a free training for "Ballet Burn," a new class we're bringing to our schedule that incorporates basic ballet moves with weights, equipment, and weight-bearing exercises.

I'm so excited!

I haven't practiced ballet in several years, but quickly the plies, tondus, and changements quickly came back to me.

Ballet Burn finds its origins in the New York City Ballet Workout, with the addition of light hand-held weights and any other fun equipment you can dream up, as long as the exercises are based on basic ballet positions and moves. It's NOT meant to be a ballet class. It's a FITNESS class :) Think 32 releves, hitting the calves, glutes, quads, even the arms and shoulders with all that port de bras.

Here's a great video to give a good idea of "Ballet Burn":

The great thing about possibly teaching this new ballet burn class for the instructor is that it really encourages creativity, modifying known exercises to incorporate the grace and fluidity of ballet, and creating combinations of plies, tondus, bat mas, etc. to challenge balance and strength. It's a much softer, almost pilates-like counterpart to the high-intensity Spinning and BodyPump classes that I'm used to teaching.

Does your gym have any ballet-inspired fitness classes? If so, do your instructors use any great combinations or exercises that you love? I need some inspiration in creating my first Ballet Burn class!

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dining Chair Do-Over

When boyfriend and I moved in together almost two years ago, we bought this great little kitchen table and chair set from KMart, exactly what a young 20-something couple needs in their first little apartment - inexpensive, basic, and not lopsided.

It worked just fine, despite the fact that we never sat at the kitchen table, but the seats, made of a microfiber material, were definitely NOT as easy to clean as advertised. They attracted dust, fuzz, everything, and quickly turned dingy and stained.

Covering seat cushins is an EASY and INEXPENSIVE way to update any space. 

Because in just one year, I became a fully grown adult with a sophisticated style and demanded that our chairs  match our quirky dining room decor (in a new, much larger apartment), I determined to recover these chairs and bring them up to the speed of my Anthropologie table cloth (which I happened to get on clearance for $30, what what!?)

One of the perks of having a wonderful boyfriend interior design student who happens to be interning at Scalamandre is that he gets first pick of the recycle bin - sounds glamorous, huh? It's actually quite amazing for any DIY-er. All discontinued fabrics, old samples, scraps, etc. get tossed into a giant bin, and he can sometimes nab a good 7 ft-long piece of Scalamandre fabric, that would retail for about $500.00. And to think, little me with curtains that may be discontinued, but technically cost $500? What a good, good boyfriend I have.... ;) Not to mention their gorgeous wallpapers, and sometimes even furniture from the other designers with showrooms in the Merchandise Mart, it's a pretty sweet deal.

My boyfriend found these gorgeous fabrics, not for Scalamandre this time, but from a textile designer down the hall, Highland Court. They were the perfect size to fit over our gunky microfiber seats.

Before: gunky microfiber

And recovering the chairs was so easy, anyone can do it with a little bit of fabric and a staple gun.

Position the fabric over the seat, fold over the edges, and staple away! You have to be a little particular with the corners, tucking the fabric just so. We were lucky to have assembled these chairs ourselves, so the cushions unscrewed easily from the legs.

After: pretty chairs

These chairs are just begging us to not eat dinner in front of the TV. We'll see if that happens. We may have nice chairs now, but we're still in our early twenties...

I'm so happy my boyfriend has introduced me to the world of luxury fabrics. I'm never going back to microfiber. Ever.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Floral Print

I can't wait for spring to hit, so that I can bust out a few of these extra feminine/glam floral prints.

 This clutch by Loeffler Randall is definitely being added to my wish list - tax refund, come quick! $295.00

And one more option by Loeffler Randall, for $395. I love the red/orange accent of the top and strap. 

 So I'd never actually wear this dress from Moschino, but how fun!?! Totally a fan of bringing retro back.

Trousers from Madewell, on sale now for $44.99. What are your thoughts on giant-print pants? Cool accent, or a bit too loud?  But they're on sale, if that's your thing..

Gorgeous J.Crew dress that would be perfect for spring wedding season, don't you think? $275.00, maybe this is your one investment dress for those 5 weddings you'll have to go to over a 3-week period. 

And slightly more budget-friendly, these adorable keds would look great with a pair of jeans, or a cute spring dress! And now on sale for $24.99!

What are your thoughts on flowers this spring? Little ones okay? Big prints too much? Or love 'em all??

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Bright, Fresh Coconut Key Lime Squares

So much baking this week, I love it!
I'm on to my last actual day of vacation, and I've been cooking up a storm, making all of those recipes that I just can't find the time to dig into during a typical work week.

These super citrus, fresh, bright coconut key lime bars are perfect for brunch, a quick morning treat with some hot coffee or just because! They make your typical lemon bar look a bit ho-hum.

I found this recipe via Martha Stewart Living Magazine a while ago, and have been holding on to it for far too long. Little bits of white chocolate make the crust a perfect sweet counterpart to the tart limes. I couldn't find key limes in the dead of winter, so I used regular limes, and the taste was perfect. The coconut didn't stand out too much, so if you're not a coconut fan, don't be discouraged. And if you love yourself some coconut, maybe sprinkle a bit on top of the bars, or add extra to the crust.

And my boyfriend said that these may be the best treat I've ever made...score!

Martha Stewart's Coconut Key Lime Squares
Takes about 1 1/2 hours to make, and you can make these a day ahead, too


  • Crust

    • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, plus more, softened, for pan
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
    • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 1/2 cup finely shredded desiccated unsweetened coconut
    • 3 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • Filling

    • 3 large eggs, room temperature
    • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice or regular lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Crust: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom and 2 sides of pan with parchment, leaving a 1-inch overhang; lightly butter the parchment.
  2. Combine flour, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor, and pulse a few times to combine. Add butter, and pulse until largest pieces are the size of peas. Add coconut and white chocolate, and pulse a few more times, just until mixture holds together.
    Transfer mixture to pan, and pack down firmly with the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake until crust is deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and reduce heat to 300 degrees.
  3. 3.  Filling: Whisk together eggs and granulated sugar in a bowl, then whisk in flour. Gently stir in lime juice (do not whisk or stir vigorously or batter will become foamy).\

  4. Pour filling over hot crust, and bake until filling is set, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Run the tip of a knife along the 2 sides of the pan not lined with parchment, then remove from pan by lifting with parchment overhang. Transfer to a cutting board, dust with confectioners' sugar, and cut into 1-inch squares.