Sunday, April 28, 2013

A great new blog!

Hi Friends,

I'm sorry I've been behind.  Kyle and I have been house hunting, and it's consumed every spare second I have aside from teaching.  Luckily for us, we have a fantastic realtor, who is so supportive, however it does not make this process any easier!  Like something? put in an offer? sorry there was a better one! Like something? want to go see eat? Gone after 3 hours on the market.  I'm glad to hear the market is picking back up, however, not so glad for us right seeing as it's making this process very emotionally, mentally and physically taxing.

What I'm trying to say, is that I blame house hunting for my lack of blogging.  I am still making healthy recipes, but a lot of repeats.  OR we have a great recipe planned that has to get scrapped so that we can quick go see a house.  However, I'm glad that I have not managed to put a lb on (yet).  Here's to hoping my 15 lost STAY OFF and I can get back into good habits.


I am going to start something new - a friend the other day said that he should be a guest blogger sometime on my site.  At first I laughed, but he was serious, and I thought what an awesome idea!!  He's very into healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, running, yoga, and frankly a lot of other things, he's the jack-of-all-trades type (not to mention he does hilarious impersonations).  I would love for him to share some ideas, so Kevin, get thinking!


Also - another friend, Steph, makes FABULOUS mojitos from scratch that I will be including a recipe to up here in the near future.  Who wouldn't want a refreshing, cool, delish mojito on a spring or summer day?

I have a few new ideas for the music classroom- thank you pinterest and end of the year/almost-summer inspiration!  That will be posted soon, I just need to gather my thoughts on them and put it all together.

I promise to get my act together.  I really believe that this blog is propelled me into weight loss (something I couldn't get into for about 3 years).  I used to blame it on a pill I was taking, but I honestly think it was my lack of healthy eating.

LASTLY - I have a great recommendation. Another friend sent me this website, and it's great!  She has a lot of great recipe ideas, plus fitness ideas and awesome things for motivation.  I highly recommend visiting - (even if you're not a mom!!).

HAPPY RAINY SUNDAY! (love those)
-Jack =)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tough Mudder

I know lately I've JUST been posting about Food, and lacking on the teaching, but I feel obligated to make a post about tough mudder.  I was thinking about it last night, and this ridiculous, rigorous, stupid mud-run has become a big part of my life.  As a tough mudder Alumni (frederick '12), I can wear my orange headband proud, and say that I survived one of these runs.
Kyle barreling through the Electric Shocks @ the Finish Line 
Back in the fall of 2010, Kyle and a bunch of his track teammates went to NJ to do a tough mudder.  No clue what it was, just hoped he came back alive!! He did, and had an awesome time. He told me how much fun it was, and he already wanted to do another one.  I couldn't believe it!  He ended up running another one in the Spring of 2011 up in Allentown PA at a Ski resort (yikes) where I spectated with one of my friends.  As crazy as everything looked, and as scary as everything looked, I couldn't help but find it exhilarating.

Wyatt & Mike going into the Ice Enema
Sure enough, last spring, Kyle started to get the itch again, and he and some of our friends were going to create a team for the Tri-State mudder in Frederick MD.  Stacey and I for some crazy reason agreed. I did train hard, but not hard enough.  Thank god I had an amazing team to help me through the whole way.  It was something I'll never forget!  It was muddy, and disgusting, and I had bruises in places I didn't think I could bruise, I had scrapes in places I should NOT have scrapes, and I couldn't move for about 5 days.  But I did.  11 Miles and 20+ obstacles. We did it.

Phil also barreling through the ElectricShock
Kyle beasting over the Fire
Yesterday my cousin & I went and spectated Tough Mudder in West Virginia, and it was one of the craziest and toughest courses I've seen so far in Mudder.  I would consider this (aside from the 24 hour time frame) a more difficult course than World's Toughest Mudder.  This was also a tough spectator course as well because Stacey and I had to climb up and down hills in order to try to keep up with our friends participating. Needless to say I was glad I did not run that course yesterday.

However, we both took yesterday as a motivator, and want to complete another Tough Mudder and train our butts off.  I am aiming for New Jersey in October.  Will it be cold? yes. But will it be worth it? Yes. Let's do this.
Going up and over out of the water

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Creamy Shrimp Blush Sauce

Here is another winner that Kyle and I have been making for about 2 1/2 years.  For my 23 birthday, Kyle decided to try to cook me dinner, and he found this great recipe for a Shrimp Cream-Blush Sauce I have adapted and changed over the years.  Honestly, I think it is rarely exactly the same, but it never ceases to be every bit creamy, shrimp-y and yummy!

This is a great comfort food blush sauce, and still tastes great minus the shrimp.  This is DEFINITELY a divulge kind-of sauce, but it is sooo worth it!

What you need:
1 lb raw shrimp (I used farm raised)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 tsp onion powder (makes up for chopped onion)
1/2 cup white wine
10 oz plain tomato sauce
16 oz Crushed Tomatoes in italian herbs
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup Fat Free Sour Cream
2 tbsp Fresh Basil
2 tsp parsley (dried or fresh)
salt and pepper to taste
13 1/4 oz Barilla Whole Wheat Linguine

How to:
Cook pasta according to box directions.

Peel shrimp.  In a large skillet over medium heat combine olive oil, garlic & onion powder.
I prefer to Chop my raw shrimp!  We like the smaller pieces.
After about 2 minutes add white wine and let simmer for about a minute.  Add tomato sauce and stir well.  Let sit about 2 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes and stir well.  Simmer for approx. 5 minutes on medium-low heat.
tomato sauce & crushed tomatoes added
Stir in heavy cream, greek yogurt & sour cream.  Stir well and let simmer on medium-low heat for approx 5 minutes.  Return heat to medium, Add raw shrimp and let simmer stirring every few minutes.  Let cook on Medium for about 5 minutes, then turn down to medium-low heat.
After cream, with raw shrimp.
Finished creamy yummy product!
 Stir in basil, parsley & salt and pepper.

Serve over Barilla Whole Wheat Linguine and enjoy!!
It's okay, you can drool. I am!
WW Friends: this yields 9 points plus per serving - 1/2 cup of sauce & 1cup of whole wheat linguine.  YUMMMMM!!!

**I measured this recipe according to Whole Wheat Pasta - however when pictures were taken, we had this with the PinWheel Pasta but the measurements for WW are correct!**

Enjoy! - Jack

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Salsa Chicken

Last weekend Kyle ran the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler (1 hr 5 min.! go kyle!) so what better way to treat him in his recovery week than rewarding him with his favorite salsa chicken?!
photo credit Kevin Bowman!
Yay congrats!
Salsa Chicken is one of our "original" recipes that we have been making for about two years.  Kyle came home from student teaching and said that a few teachers gave him this idea, so we took it and made it our own!  This is one of the best sweet, spicy, creamy, hot & delish comfort foods. PLUS what I love about it, is that it's fairly WW friendly!  I was so surprised and happy when I put this into the recipe builder and it came up as only 4 pts per serving WOO HOO!
What you need:
-1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
-1 24 oz can Medium Salsa (if you want it spicier, use Hot!)
-1 can black beans (do not drain)
-2 cups frozen corn
-2 tsp garlic powder
-2 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp salt

How to:
Heat crockpot to Low.

Add salsa, black beans, corn, garlic powder, onion powder & salt.  Mix together in crock pot.  Submerge raw chicken.

Cook on low for approx. 8 hours.  Season with any additional salt, pepper, onion powder or garlic powder to taste! 
You may keep the chicken whole OR if you prefer you can shred the chicken using two forks (this is what we prefer!) then return to the crock on Warm for approx. 10 minutes.

This yields approximately 8, 1 cup servings.
We served this meal with Goya Arroz Amarillo (Spanish yellow rice).  For WW it is only 4 pts per 1/4 cup (vs. rice a roni that are about 8 pts per 1/4 C.. yikes!).  As well as a tbsp of Fat free sour cream (1 pt) or 1 tbsp Plain Greek Yogurt (1 pt), lastly reduced fat 4 cheese Mexican Cheese (1 pt for 1 tbsp).

WW Friends: Just the Salsa Chicken yields 4 pts per 1 cup serving (yay!) and it is very filling.  As I said, I had the rice with it (up to 8 points now) and the cheese & sour cream - this made it a total of a 10 point fulfilling dinner! GO WW!

-Jack =) 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Pantry

Thanks to a best friends suggestion, I decided to create a post with items I most recommend to have in your pantry at all times. At first I didn't think that I could create this list, because I'm always so frazzled and running to and from the store during the week. However, after creating this croissant casserole with bananas and chobani (inspired by FOOD magazines croissant casserole), I realized that I do have a lot of great ingredients that I buy every week just to have around the house!

Since starting weight watchers, I have noticed a significant change in our pantry and the items that we buy on a daily basis.  It actually makes me very proud, and excited to know that we've planned out a healthy lifestyle for ourselves in the future.

If I use any of these items in a week - then I will just replace them next week at the store. If I don't use it and its non-perishable? Then save it in the pantry for later.  These items are ones that I love to have 'laying around' for when I'm feeling creative & our weeknight meals/lunches!

QuarterNoteCafe's, Pantry Must-Haves!
Fruits & Veggies
-Fresh Bananas (if they start to brown, toss them in the freezer - and voila! Frozen bananas!)
-Salad Mix/Lettuce Mix
-Brussel Sprouts (mmmmm...)
-Green Beans
*From week to week I always have more produce BUT again, this is the must haves that I guaranteed have in my fridge every week*

-Skim Milk
-Chobani plain fat free Yogurt
-Chobani flavored yogurt (new fave is their minis with fig & orange zest)
-Fat free sour cream
-Fat free/reduced fat cheeses - either cheddar/mozz/swiss
-WW Ice Cream Varieties OR Skinny Cow (why deny the sweet tooth?)

-JELLO sugar free pudding (only 1 pt per 1/2 cup serving)
-Reduced Sugar Apple Sauce
-Canned Black Beans
-Canned White Beans
-Crushed tomatoes with Italian Seasonings (great to have around for homemade sauce!)
-Tomato Sauce (can)
-Wegman's Jarred Marinara Sauce
-Whole Grain/Wheat Pasta Variety
-Brown Rice
-Special K Chocolatey Pretzel Breakfast Bars *NEW FAVE ALERT! Only 2 WW Points! Great for snacks as well - there is a huge variety of Special K bars that are only a few points!
-Personal sized tuna fish cans
-Fat Free balsamic dressing
-Vanilla extract
-Truvia - natural sweetener
-White sugar & Brown sugar
-Cooking Spray with Olive Oil
-OLIVE OIL! (I use this 10,000,000,000 times a week)
-Whole wheat/grain bread

-Ground Chicken or Ground Turkey
-Chicken Breasts (always have in the freezer)
-Tilapia or Salmon (depending on sales!)
-Pork Loin (often I buy these when they are on sale & freeze them for later use!)

*herbs & spices
-basil (dried - prefer fresh, but hey that can be pricey)
-parsley (dried - or fresh! if my plant isn't dead that week)
-Sea Salt Grinder
-Black pepper Grinder
-Oregano dried
-Ground cumin
-Red pepper flakes (MUST HAVE)
-Chili powder

A typical Lunch-Day for me:
-3 medium sized carrots chopped up into sticks
-1/2 a cucumber cut into slices
-1 Chobani mini (less points - about 3)
-Banana (hits the sweet tooth)
-Leftovers (maybe) - sometimes I will throw in 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup of leftovers of whatever we had the night before as long as it was a WW friendly meal.  Some days you just want something hot or something savory & veggies just don't do the trick.

I know this sounds like a strange accumulation of food for a lunch - and it sounds boring, but since I have so many different things: yogurt, cucumber,carrot, banana etc. it fills me up quickly because I feel like I'm eating a lot.  And with the fiber from the fruits & veggies it fills me up fast! And like I said, sometimes I just want a bit more - so the other day I took a 1 point serving of the Broccoli slaw leftover from my Fish Tacos, and it was satisfying!  Or a bit of pasta, to satisfy that hot comfort food on a cold dreary day.

I hope this post either a. helped you, b. inspired you or c. was just an informative read!  The more I think about how my habits have changed, the more proud of myself I am.  WW is a slow, but steady process.  So far my weight loss is approx. 12 lbs.  I did gain 2 over Easter, but I talked myself through it, it's just a Holiday, it's not every weekend, and its okay because I'll kick my butt into high gear this week and shed those 2 lbs again. Either way, it's working, and I plan on sticking to it!

Enjoy! - Jack

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hot & Sweet Tilapia Soft Tacos

Summer to me means: margaritas, and SEAFOOD
I know I said my next post would be pasta, but I am too excited about this one to NOT blog about it tonight.  If you say that you aren't dreaming of summer right now, you're a liar.  Time off, beach time, beautiful weather, bright clothes, nice wedges, MARGARITAS and deliciously light food!  Nothing says summer more to me than seafood (hence the CoupeFam Seafood Fest), so put together some hot & spicy yet sweet & savory fish tacos? I'm in heaven!
I pulled from a WW mahi mahi fish taco recipe, Madrone's fish tacos, as well as my own imagination!  I'm not trying to brag and talk about how great and creative I am, but I just love experimenting and coming up with new and successful ideas - so, likewise, I am very excited about these fish tacos!  Fish tacos are my new found love as of January (random, I know - thank you Brewer's Alley), so to create my own is very exciting at this very moment!

Broccoli Slaw
What you need:
2 cups Broccoli Slaw mix (I used Wegmans Organic)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white sugar
1 tbsp mayo (I just used regular)
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro

How to:
Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir well.  Refrigerate for approx. 20 minutes prior to serving. Serve on Fish Tacos (see below).

Fish Tacos
What you need:
1 lb Tilapia Filets (approx 2 large filets cut in half)
2 tbsp chopped Ginger Root
1/3 cup fresh Lime juice
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar

2 cups Broccoli Slaw (see above)
1 cup Shredded Lettuce (I just used shredded 'berg)
8 tsp Mango Sauce (to be divided amongst each taco)
4 tsp Hot Wing Sauce (to be divided amongst each taco)
1 lime cut into 4 wedges
8 white corn tortillas

How to:
Set the oven to Broil and put the rack either in the middle or second from the top (do not put it right up against the broiler).

Combine ginger, lime juice, brown sugar & cilantro in a large ziploc bag. Shake well to combine ingredients. Add tilapia and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Place tilapia filets ideally on a broiler pan (I don't have a pan so I just used a baking sheet and did not place right under broiler).  Cover with remaining marinade.
Broil on each side for approx. 5 minutes or until the middle of the fish is opaque.

Lay out tortillas and divide fish equally amongst all 8 tortillas.  Divide broccoli slaw into 1/4 cup servings on each taco.  Next Divide lettuce among tortillas.  Drizzle with mango sauce (1 tsp per taco).  And drizzle with Hot Wing Sauce (approx. 1/2 tsp per taco unless you are feeling feisty!).  Drizzle each taco with lime juice & leave the lime as garnish.
The base - tilapia on the tortilla
completed Tacos - DROOL
WW Friends: This meal yields 2 fish tacos per serving coming in at 5 points plus points - then the broccoli slaw adds 1 point - making a 6 point FILLING dinner!
I served my tacos with 1/2 cup of hot Black Beans yielding 3 more points. (Yum!!)
Enjoy!! Jack =)

WW Meat Sauce & Whole Wheat Pasta

I love pasta, can you tell?  This post, and probably my next post (Shrimp Blush Sauce.. YUM), will revolved around pasta.  Am I italian? at all? NOPE!  German, Irish, Swedish, Native American (yup), Dutch and some others thrown in there as well.. I am a mut in every way, and proud of every heritage, but no Italian!  Doesn't mean I can't enjoy the food though.  When I went to Italy, way back in 2005, with some of my best friends by the way, and a choir(yep choir geek), I had some of the BEST food of my life. Venice had my favorite pizza, as well as an incredible bolognese sauce.  Sorrento - the cutest little town in the southern part of Italy with lots of gorgeous cliffs - introduced me to Gnocchi - my now favorite Italian dish.  Mmmmm go back now?  Let's go win the lottery & take a trip to Sorrento and Capri, I'd be content.

ANYWAY - to the post.  Kyle and I were in the mood for some pasta, as per usual, and I found this great recipe for a really delicious meat sauce.  I tried something new too .. the sauce has carrots in it.  I have no clue what the point of the carrots is, but I like to think of it adding a sweet factor, as well as another way to add some vegetables to the sauce.  It was really delicious & I liked it a lot!  We will definitely be making this dish again.

What you need:
1 tbsp Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves finely chopped
1 medium uncooked carrot, finely chopped
1 tsp onion powder
1 lb 93% lean ground beef
28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes in Italian Seasonings (keep tomato puree)
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp basil
2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 package Barilla whole wheat Angel Hair Pasta

How to:
Cook pasta according to package directions.
In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat.  Add garlic, carrot & onion powder.  Sautee for approx 1 minute (do not let it brown).  Add the ground beef and cook until brown.
Stir in the whole can of crushed tomatoes & let simmer for approx 2 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes.  Turn heat to medium low & cover.  Let sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes so that all flavors can combine.
Serve over pasta.
WW Friends: A serving is 2/3 cup of sauce of 1/2 cup of pasta which yields 6 Points plus points (yes, for the pasta AND sauce!).  Enjoy!

*I sprinkled some Pecorino-Romano cheese over mine, probably only a small tsp - so as not to drastically affect points =).

I do want to take just a second to say, thank you to WW for providing SO MANY recipes to their customers.  Anything I could want to make, I find on WW, and find healthier alternatives.  So many of these recipes are pure to the WW recipe, aside from a few seasonings here and there.  I know in the commercials it seems cheesy (mm cheese) and says that you learn how to eat, and it really is true!  I've found that on days if I splurge & have a bunch of pizza, I feel so sick because I have changed my habits so drastically, and make better choices now.  However, I do NOT feel that I am being denied anything that I love.  I highly recommend weight watchers to anyone looking for a lifestyle change!!

enjoy! - Jack