What’s for dinner: Pulled Pork a la Crock

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You all know about the love affair I am having with my Crock Pot.  Breaking it was heart-wrenching for me.  So when I got a new one, (a mere two days later)  I decided to Christen it with my all-time FAVORITE crock-pot recipe:  pulled-pork.

First, brown the pork (I use butt or shoulder-if you chose a less fatty cut, you will just need to cook it longer in order for the pork to break apart easily) in frying pan with a little beat of heated oil.  Browning it holds/seals the flavor in.  This will take about 8 min.  I usually do about 2 min. a side.

Then, pour some bbq sauce (I like the brand Stubb’s, bought at Whole Foods, you use two so sometimes I like to mix flavors like honey smoked and hickory bbq) in the bottom of the crock.

I DEFINITELY use the crock pot liners (Reynolds brand) for this recipe that can be messy.   Then, add the pork.

Then, add the rest of the bbq sauce.  You don’t need to mix here if you used two sauces; it will all blend together eventually.

Then, cook for 8 hours.  I cook on high generally (sometimes I will turn it down for a bit and then back up).

I like to have mine on a kaiser roll.

…with tater tots, or parnsip fries, or homemade cole slaw, or a salad…

Enjoy!

What’s For Dinner: Baked Manicotti

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So, I forwent (?) Slow Cooker Sunday to create a meal I have been craving for ages now: Baked Manicotti.  It all started a few weeks ago when we went to dinner for my Dad’s birthday at an amazing little spot in the Italian Market, Villa Di Roma (unreal authentic Italian fare).  I saw manicotti on the menu and immediately knew I HAD to have it…and immediately was informed that they were out.  OUT?! Argh.  Anyway, I attempted a re-creation last night for dinner.  Give it a try.  I will list some modifications I’d do next time after tasting it (this one is tricky because you can’t taste the filling due to the raw egg so you have to wait until cooked).

Ingredients used (minus a jar of sauce; was too lazy to make my own)

Modifications I’d make next time:

-If I had the time, I’d make my own sauce (duh)

-Get grater parmesan rather than the powdery stuff

-Mince my own onions, although the recipes I sorted through on-line kept saying “minced onion” I thought pertaining to the spice?  But the onion flavor could have been stronger.

Directions:

1.  Mix a container of ricotta, one egg, one package of frozen chopped spinach (cooked and cooled), a quarter cup of parmesan and a cup of shredded mozzarella in a bowl.

2.  Pour about a cup of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.  Add water to the rest of the jar, shaking violently (ha) until blended.  The extra water will be needed to cook the pasta.  Don’t think twice like- whaaa watered down gravy!!??  Trust it.

3.  Stuff the uncooked manicotti shells with the spinach/cheese mixture.  Try not to get too frustrated. It is SUPER annoying.  I used a tool like the one below to “slide and stuff.”  It took foreeeeever.

4.  Admire your work.  Seriously, after all the stuffing, you WILL be thinking “these better be good.”

5.  Dump the rest of the sauce mixed with the water into/onto the baking dish, fully covering the manicotti.

6.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top (about a cup) along with “some” parmesan (use your discretion).

7.  Bake for 50 minutes on 375.  This will give you al dente noodles (how I like).  If you want them more tender, cook and extra 5 minutes.

8.  Make your garlic bread while waiting.  Here is the way I make it:  Slice the bread, melt butter, spread butter on bread, spread minced (fresh is better) garlic on bread.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Throw in oven for last 5 minutes of baking time of whatever dish you are baking. Easy peasy lemon squeezy..(?)

9.  Enjoy!

Secrets of the Water Workout

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OK, so as I was doing my water workout today, I was thinking of some secrets I’d share with you 😉 Ha- they’re not that interesting…but noteworthy:

1.  If you “shuffle” your ipod (which if you are running in the water you can do so using my tip from this post) you will get a CRAZY random mix of music.  For instance, here are the first five songs that I listened to on my workout today:

Allman Brothers-Please Call Home (from “Relaxing on a Sunday” mix)

Jay Z- Empire State (from “5k Play” mix)

Bruce Springsteen- Born to Run (from “old stuff” mix)

Bob Dylan- Forever Young (from “Relaxing on a Sunday” mix)

Kid Cudi- Up Up and Away (from “Chill” music mix”)

OK so as you can see, it can get SUPER random!  Just enjoy!  That leads me to # 2:

2. SING!  For Heaven’s sake, no one can hear you!  They are all under water!

3.  Bargain with yourself.  For instance, today I did NOT feel like doing kicks with the kickboard, so I bargained with myself and said I’d run in the pool for 15 minutes longer, so instead of an hour, I did 1:15. Done and done. Everyone bargains with themselves while working out and in life in general, I believe!

4. Do NOT look at the clock. Kind of obvious, but it will inevitably go slower.  I promise.  Again, bargain with yourself and say, “Ill look at the clock after 5 more laps, etc.

5.  BRING FOOD.  Something about the pool has always made me famished!  I even remember as a little kid being starving immediately upon exiting the pool at summer camp.  Anywhooo whatever the reason, have food for post-workout.  I have my routine down to a science so I don’t end up eating my arm:  when I get out of the pool, I shower off (chorine is not good chemical-wise for your skin) and take my bathing suit off.  Then, I get dressed immediately, grab and apple, and throw my bathing suit into the gym’s awesome suit dryer.  While I sit on the dryer, I eat my apple.  It is times perfectly:  one apple and it is dry!  I then go home and have a real meal because the apple could hardly fill a cavity 😉

6.  USE YOUR ARMS.  Even when I’m jogging in the pool, I pump my arms in the water. The resistance is giving me some amazing guns (haha right) but no seriously, the resistance helps build the muscle.  This brings me though to number 7:

7.  STRETCH.  Seriously.  I usually wimp out on stretching and feel like it is a waste of time (I see those scowls through my computer) but the pool has made it absolutely necessary.  Because the water makes you feel so weightless (definitely a plus with water workouts) you don’t realize how hard your muscles are working and if you do not stretch, you WILL feel it later.  Some of my pool favorites are as follows:

– Put one foot on the wall of the pool, holding on to the side of the pool for support.  Then put your other foot over your knee crossing it like a four.  Bend into it getting your hip and hammies.  Then stretch your leg out getting your calves.

-Put BOTH feet on the wall of the pool holding on to the side of the pool for support.  Fully stretch your legs out, flexing your feet to get into your calf muscles.  Round and flex your back (think cat/cow yoga poses) to get your spine and arm muscles.

8.  Make mental lists.  A great cure for boredom, but don’t assume you will remember them when back on land.  ha!  Today I did meal planing for the week and tried to plan a grocery list- unfortunately I forgot most items by the time I got to a paper and pen situation, but it worked to pass time.  And since I did remember my meal planning I was able to make a grocery list off of that.  Curious?

Sunday: Baked Manicotti (been craving for ages!) and salad

Monday:  Sloppy Joes and homemade cole slaw

Tuesday: Breaded Chicken with potatoes and sauteed zuchinni

Wednesday: Meatball Sliders with tater tots

Thursday: Spaghetti and Clams (white wine sauce), garlic bread and salad

PS:  Sorry this post was picture-less; when I’m in the water I don’t risk bringing my phone because I’m too busy trying to save my ipod from being drowned and don’t want to press my luck. Ha!  Do you have any good water workout tips?

Exercising While Pregnant

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while…on Monday I will be seven months pregnant.  As you know, exercise was an enormous part of my life prior to “getting knocked up” (classy) and I was hoping it would remain so throughout.  For the first four months, I spend my days with face in the can.  The only exercising was pertaining to my gag reflux. Sweet.  But, post four months, I’ve fallen into a different, but good routine.  Overall I try to work out 4-5 times a week, with these past couple months mainly consisting of 5 times per week-ers.  At the beginning I did attempt a few runs while the weather was nice, and this was fine for a while.

But then, it got super uncomfortable (probably around 4.5 months) and those runs progressed to loooong walks…

Then when the weather started to not cooperate, I moved my workouts indoor.  I mix it up weekly between a mix of the following:

45 minute spin class (definitely still comfortable but I chill with jumps)

40 minute Cybex or Elliptical with 10-20 minutes recumbent bike combo

And my new favorite…the POOL!

Sometimes I will do a brick-type workout with the pool (25 minutes Cardio machine then 25 minutes pool) but mostly I will do about an hour in the pool.  My favorites for the pool are running laps (to keep my form and because I truly miss running) and swimming with the kickboard- just doing kicks, usually frog kicks.  I typical hour long “swim” for me looks like this:  25 minutes jogging, 10 minutes kicking, 15 more minutes jogging, 10 more kicking.  I usually only do about 14 laps (lengths) of kicks.

So the funny thing is that I really LOVE to do this while listening to my ipod. SO, I have come up with a (hopefully) foolproof way of doing so.  Although I have a waterproof mp3 player that I got on the cheap from amazon, I have yet to figure out how to use it, so I do THIS with my ipod:

I wrap it in my bun then secure with another hair elastic.  Then, I click SHUFFLE!  It has worked everytime and I hope I didn’t jinx myself.  But to be safe, I wrap it until one a bit of it hangs so that if it does fall out of my bun, it won’t fall far enough to hit the water.  DERP~!

And let’s be honest.  it isn’t always easy to motivate myself to work out, but once I get started I am SO appreciative I did.  I NEED these workouts for mental sanity! So when I do get it together to work out, I do try to make it around 50 min-an hour.  It is like motivating any other time. What about you?!  What have your workouts looked like recently?!

What’s For Dinner: Beef Stroganoff a la Crock REDUX (holy yum)

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OK, guys…THIS is the recipe.  I know I have touted a beef stroganoff (a la crock pot) recipe on this blog before, but I wanted a redo.  The other one was OK, but I felt a bit heavy.

INGREDIENTS USED LAST TIME:

So this time, instead of using cream of mushroom soup, I used golden mushroom soup.  I also used 2 containers of mushrooms this time to add a bit more veg-factor, and substituted the plain Philadelphia cooking cream for the garlic/herb variety (which they did not have at the store last time).

INGREDIENTS USED THIS TIME

Anyway this recipe turned out VERY well.  It was deeeeellliiiish!  I also changed the carb I served the stroganoff with.  Last time I did spiral pasta and this time I went with traditional egg noodles.  YUM!