Friday, April 11, 2014

.:cauliflower pizza:.

per usual, i started this blog post a few weeks ago, but a few things came up that prevented it from getting published (i.e. wedding planning, traveling)....either way, enjoy!

i am going to be completely honest, but as i am typing this healthy pizza recipe, i am eating a piece of greasy pizza from a hole-in-the-wall place here in St. Paul. drew has been busy with school all day and while i made a whole chicken and roasted veggies last night, i am not about to go to grocery shopping when i am gone for work all next week. so, pizza night it is. judge me. (p.s. if you haven't tried Checkerboard pizza, you are seriously missing out!).

ok, switching gears to healthy pizza - here we go!

>> 1 large cauliflower
>> 2 cloves garlic, minced
>> 2 eggs, lightly beaten
>> 4 oz mozzarella cheese (who actually measures out cheese when making pizza?!)
>> small can of pizza sauce (you can skip this or swap it for butter or spaghetti sauce)
>> 1/2 tsp onion powder (i used garlic salt, same diff, right?)
>> couple shakes of basil, oregano, salt and pepper
>> your favorite toppings - we chose sweet italian sausage (cooked via stovetop) mushrooms, tomatoes, feta cheese and more mozzarella cheese

chop cauliflower into chunks (removed most of the big stems) and microwave for 5 minutes to soften - i put the chunks in a pie dish with a little bit of water in the bottom to help steam. cool and put softened cauliflower in food processor or blender until it reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes - i added some EVOO to help! in medium bowl, stir mashed cauliflower with eggs, cheese and seasonings until well-mixed. spray a baking sheet and spread mixture on sheet, about 1/2 inch thick. bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. i baked the cauliflower crust alone for about 20 minutes and then added the toppings and bake for another 10 minutes (keep in mind, the sausage was already cooked). that's it!

i will be throwing this into the regular recipes because 1. i almost always have cauliflower (is that weird?) and 2. it is actually much easier than i expected! also, drew likes it and seriously, how often does one crave pizza? helpful tip - the crust should only be about 1/2 inch thick. i didn't have the right size pan so the mixture didn't cover my big pan, but was almost overflowing my small pan. of course, i went with the smaller pan and the crust turned out pretty mushy since it was about 1 1/2 inches thick - it still turned out great, we just ended up eating it with forks :)

before oven


after oven
 
 
always striving for more,
dee b. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

now that i am engaged....

now that i have been engaged for an entire weekend, i figured i would set some standards, ground rules, for the wedding planning process and beyond. i haven't even STARTED to think about planning a wedding and probably won't until early April because here has been our past few months...

december - searching for a new home and drew had knee surgery
january - bought our first home, closed and moved into our first home, drew's birthday, our anniversary, left for mexico
february - came back from mexico, 2 weeks of traveling along the west coast for work, got engaged the last day of february
march - 1 week at home and 3 weeks on the road to cover health fairs in TX, MA, SC, NJ and AZ

i am literally so tired, it still hasn't hit me that we bought a home and are engaged. all good things, so i can't complain too much, but i am really looking forward to the day that i can just absorb all the awesomeness going on!

anyway, back to my ground rules that i thought of while lying in bed, unable to sleep this weekend....consider it part 1 of vows, things i will NOT do....

my life will not entirely be wedding planning:. friends, i do not expect you to only talk to me about wedding planning, in fact, i may prefer it. i plan to maintain my balanced lifestyle of working, cooking, yoga and oh yea, sleeping! wedding planning will not define me!

tell my single friends 'you're next!' or 'when are you two going to finally take the plunge?!':. i cannot tell you how annoyed i was when i heard that.....for the past 3 years! as i can attest to, everyone is on their own timeline and go at their own speed. just because 'everyone else is doing it' or everyone thinks you've been together forever or that buying a house is for married people does not mean anyone should feel pressured - i know drew and i had a lot of other things to worry about other than getting engaged/married like build a career, a bank account, drink wine, watch Netflix, play Scrabble and workout - you know, lots of really important things. not everyone's end goal is to get married by a certain age, i dig that.

treat my single friends differently:. again, being engaged or planning a wedding will not define me. i will not put it above anyone or anything - my best friend and i have had a weekly date (for the past 7 years), to watch Teen Mom and i sure as hell am not about to change that! i have a lot of friends who are 'single', but they are doing some amazing things, like almost finishing law school or plowing through chiropractic school, about to graduate with their 4-year degree or landed a big job. i am still going to celebrate all of their successes! i also will not create a clique with my friends who are engaged or already married. i will not discriminate.

get offended by the "i am not engaged, or married or having kids, so i am basically doing nothing with my life but drinking a glass of wine or getting drunk" statuses, tweets or memes:. i wasn't into making a big deal about being 'single', but if that's your style rock on! i won't call dr. phil on you for trying to hide your deeply hidden sorrow and daddy-issues - i will cheers you my glass of wine because sometimes, all we need to care about is fricken glass of wine and i love where your head is at!

suddenly define myself as succesful:. my end goal is not to get married or be a housewife, so i did not suddenly become successful because drew sealed the deal. i am not better than anyone else. i have many things to strive to become, i am just getting my career underway and finding my place in this big, bad world. trust me, i know being married is going to be unicorns and butterflies, but not really going to totally cut it for me (cue 'Webbie - I N D E P E N D E N T' song).

create a countdown until i marry my 'best friend':. drew, you are so darn awesome and i am pretty fricken excited to hang out with you every single day of my life for as long as we live, but i will not say the whole 'marry my best friend' thing. i think you are da bomb, but i will spare everyone the mouth throw-up.

crash diet:. if you have seen me eat, you know i am serious about food and will be up until the 'big day'. i will certainly workout and watch what i eat, but if i am watching a spoonful of ice cream go into my mouth, i am not going to stress (p.s. isn't it ironic that stressed out brides crash diet?! i think they should just reach for a big bowl of ice cream and give themselves a brain freeze). side note to my photographer (whoever you are), we need to discuss how i should pose so my arms don't look so large and my shoulders don't look like you tried to photoshop a linebacker.

change my relationship with drew:. as a couple, we have not 'made it', in fact, i think we are far from 'making it'. i know marriage takes work. hell, our relationship before marriage has required work and i do not expect that to change. in the end, i know that the 'work' doesn't seem so bad with him, the payoff is totally worth it. i will not stop respecting or appreciating him. i will still hide post-it notes around our house for him to find and thank him for cleaning the liter or pouring me a glass of wine (do you see a wine theme here?). i will not 'let myself go' or turn into a bridezilla. i will not lose my independence or expect him to lose his. basically, we are going to keep doing our thing, but we'll just make it a little more official. damnit, i just love him so much!

maybe i wrote these rules to help with perspective when i am knee-deep in wedding planning, but after a weekend of being engaged, i realized that not too much has changed. yes, i have a shiny ring on, a wedding to plan, i get to change my last name, i get to quit saying boyfriend, but in the same breath, i still look forward to having my best friend over to paint nails and trash talk Teen Mom. i still rush home to see drew after work or make sure that having dinner together is a priority. i still plan yoga dates with my friends. i guess i realized that if the rest of my life consists of homemade dinners, Netflix, playing Scrabble and working out with my "best friend" than i am one lucky lady.


always striving for more,
dee b.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

i have a fiancé.

hmm....where do i start this post? it seems so surreal to be writing this!!! also, we got engaged about 5 hours ago (but who is counting) and i am already taking time to write this....bear with me, there is a reason for that!!!

SO, the past 2 weeks i have been traveling for work in CA and OR. while i have enjoyed the warmer weather and being able to see new places, i was very ready to get back and spend a week at our new house in MN before spending the last 3 weeks in March traveling to NJ, MA, SC, AZ, and TX, again for work! my flight was scheduled to leave this morning at 7:05 am which meant a 4:45 wake-up to return my rental car and get through security (i know, i am really bad at telling stories. i realize this is the boring part, i'm getting there). of course, there were maintenance issues so we were stuck on the run-way for about 20 minutes before we headed BACK to the gate. after an hour and a half of being stuck on the plane, we were finally cleared for take-off. fast forward 3 hours, i landed in MN, hadn't showered in 2 days, still wearing yesterday's make-up and SO ready to get home. once i turned on my phone, i had a text from drew saying that he made something for me to take along on my next bout of trips - pause - drew has had a few 'surprises' for me the past couple months and they always ended up being something like flowers, a pack of new workout socks or tickets to a play. don't get me wrong, i loved all of them (i wear the socks to the gym all the time), but it was no ring. i even texted my girlfriends about this new surprise and placed a bet that it was another pack of socks. while waiting for him to get home from work, i fell asleep on our couch - holding my laptop with a cat fast asleep on my chest, it was precious. he woke me up and said he wanted to give me my present. in my sleepy haze, i was looking around the kitchen for it and he was like, 'uhm, it's right here on the counter' (it was a notebook). the notebook was actually a scrapbook that he had put together with little trinkets from our 3 years together - our Hamline student IDs (where it all started), receipt from our first date, many tickets stubs from movies we have seen, a scorecard from a mini-golf game, my Hamline graduation tassel (when he met my family for the first time), plane tickets from trips together and much more! i was already tearing up thinking about how thoughtful he was to keep all of these things for the past 3+ years. but still clueless as to what was actually happening (i blame it on the lack of sleep). the last page was a note to me and at the bottom it said, turn around....of course, as i turned around, he was down on one knee with a ring - the PERFECT ring!

i didn't know how i was going to react when and if this moment happened (yes, i did realize it was heading in that direction, we just bought a house together) - there were, what i would like to call, classy tears (but no blubbering) and all i remember telling him is 'i am so happy to be home'. later, i asked him if i actually had said 'yes'...neither of us remember. after realizing what had happened and then remembering how horrible i looked, i called my parents! naturally, they didn't answer. p.s. there should be a guide on 'what to do in the first hour you get engaged'. after my parents didn't answer, i was clueless. when i got ahold of them, my mom put on speaker since her and my dad were driving to dinner. we talked to drew's parents and i sent a few texts. again, i wish i would have had a guide as what to do - do i call? do i text? do i snap chat? i certainly did not want anyone's day to stop on our account. plus, i had just gotten home from being gone all week and we were both spending time on our phones when i was really just wanted to be happy to be home with him, not even mentioning getting ENGAGED!

ok, don't die over how ridiculously romantic this next part is....part of what made the big surprise was i knew that drew had to study for his midterm (which is 8:00-11:00 am on Saturday morning), so since i was still tired and didn't want to shower and being the match-made-in-heaven that we are, we totally agreed to pick up Chipotle to go. on our way home from Chipotle, we stopped by Target so he could get notecards and a printer for studying. after eating Chipotle while watching an episode of Weeds, he is now studying and i am writing this - have i mentioned that we go by our own rules?! we are REALLY looking forward to celebrating our engagement tomorrow, after i get a good night's sleep and he kills his midterm exam.
 



please notice his mohawk and my chubby, freshman cheeks

i could NEVER find the card on the left - this was the line to call in sick when i worked at UCare, now i know where it has been all this time... 

2 years ago, we went to the MN state fair with his mom and sister, Lizzie  - she ended up winning a MASSIVE gorilla! i actually forgot about this! 
my ROSE GOLD ring - i feel bad that my hands are so incredibly ugly from traveling, my pretty ring looks horribly out of place.... 

holy shit, drew is my fiancé. i have a fiancé.


always striving for more,
dee b.

Friday, February 28, 2014

an honest man:.

first off, i feel kind of bad for not showing some gratitude in my last post - we REALLY received a lot of support from family and friends throughout this entire home-buying process. so, to drew's dad for checking out every house we fell in love with and making sure it wouldn't fall down on us and drew's mom and grandma for helping us clean, to my parents for their advice on negotiating and escrowing to get what we want, to everyone who offered help and well wishes and lastly, our realtor who battled with us until the end - THANK YOU!!! seriously, we are so endlessly grateful and you have helped make this experience.

ok, enough on the home stuff and onto MEXICO!!! naturally, i started this post as soon as we got back, but not having free internet on my recent work trip delayed things a bit. i have been looking forward to this trip since my brother, nic, and his now wife, traci, got engaged last spring. not only was it going to be a vacation (during the WORST month to be in MN), but it was also a celebration of love (corny, i know, hang in there). nic is what we the call the golden child of our family - think diamond studded jeans, shoes that are too expensive to get scuffed and a toiletry bag that costs more than my car payment. this is not to say that he hasn't earned every single thing he has because he is also the oldest and most career-driven child of the family. career-wise, nic has ALWAYS had tunnel vision of where he wants to go, who wants to be and is unapologetic if you couldn't keep up. secretly, we (mainly, my mom and i) were nervous that he would never slow down enough to find a sidekick, someone worth cutting his 12+ hour days just a little bit shorter. enter traci - a petite, genuinely sweet southern belle. we were basically all blown away and placing bets at how long she would last with nic (kidding....kinda). fast forward 6 years, 4 of which were long distance (either Charlotte to Cleveland or Cleveland to LA), to their wedding day - yea, i guess you could say she's that ride or die material.

to nic and traci: you truly are a beautiful couple - inside and out! i cannot tell you how excited i am for you to start this new journey together and LIVE IN THE SAME CITY! you have stood by each other's side through job changes, cross-country moves, several frequent flyer miles, and separate holidays - you are each other's biggest fans and i have faith that you will make it through anything! also, i cannot wait to come see you guys at the end of March :)

onto pictures - beware there are a lot!!!
the bride getting beautified and the mother-of-the bride taking it all in :)
how gorgeous does my new sister look?! please note, she was not wearing heels - i felt like Hulk. 



selfie with my date

seriously, the venue was unbelievable - that is the ocean, FYI

still the ocean and still, their WEDDING VENUE!

ok, had to share this one - they had a group of tourists (who may have been of asian descent) following them with cameras thinking they were celebrities. yes, they looked THAT good!

mr. and mrs barlage - told you they looked good (babies, cough, cough)
uhm, this was their reception - that was the bar area. notice EVERYONE at the bar...


first dance *swoon*

my date again, *swoon*

my dad who can beat ANYONE up! i look awkward, but i am pretty sure my feet were bleeding at this point...

precious moments captured between the groom and his loving parents

again, the reception - yes, it was a cave turned massive tiki hit and yes, that is river running around it. any questions? 

a (professional) painter doing a live painting of their reception - again, A-list celebrities here, people

The rest of these pictures are post-wedding 
dang, my parents are GOOOOOOOD looking!
my brother, who is married. yes, my biceps are bigger than his and yes, i can beat him up... 

me and 'justin bieber' hanging out at the market - drew was thrilled to pay $5 for this picture

date night!

i may have made a friend during date night and i may have shared my top sirloin with him

the OCEAN! 

another date night hibachi-style

loading up on espresso before heading to the airport :(


my main squeeze, i really need to work on a pose that doesn't make my arm look large and in charge


there you have it! traci and nic will be celebrating their 1-month of marriage tomorrow and i finally have this post done and already wishing we could rewind and do it one more time...

always striving for more, 
dee b.


**i realize that some of you may have been expecting a little bit different post, but stay tuned.... :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

what happens when you fall off the wagon? you just have to start somewhere....


  
oh boy, where do i begin? i have never been on a hiatus this long, but i swear it has been warranted and i truly have missed it. i literally do not even KNOW where to begin.....maybe, i will just rewind through my Instagram pictures and go from there....buckle up!

drew and i decided that we needed to start looking for a new place to live - we loved where we were, but we were kind of outgrowing it (no, no surprise announcements, we just buy a lot of stuff). with him back in school at Carlson, a space for him to hide away and study was important. we were also living in a duplex and we were (specifically, me) over sharing a front door and recyling with other people. when we were first discussing, i made it clear that there was no way i would buy a house right now, that is too big of a commitment and i wouldn't have money to pay for anxiety pills. fast forward a few weeks, many property searches and mortgage calculations, he had convinced me that buying would be more financial savvy than renting. being the fab people we are, we started our search with chic condos in DT St. Paul (disk scratching noise) which quickly resulted in looking for houses for several reasons such as association fees, less than 1,000 square feet and resale values. bless our realtor's heart (many times over, more to come on that), he was great about showing us properties all across the spectrum since we didn't even know what we wanted - if you have been 'lucky' enough to search for your first home, you know exactly what i mean. oh, how your mind and priorities change!

**plot twist**

just as we were heating up the search, drew tore his MCL playing in a late-night soccer league. i won't elaborate too much on this since he had already met his deductible for 2013 and injuries are nothing new around our house, but just to put your mind at ease, he has healed wonderfully (he is a freak at healing, think Hulk) and is well on the road to recovery. we are tied at 5 knee surgeries apiece and while i am competitive, i plan to stay in the yoga studio to avoid winning this one. thank the lord i had some help around the house while he was laid up....
"if you're not first, you're last"




 
 
the night before drew went into surgery and before he was really laid up, our realtor set up 4 showings, including one that we had cancelled previously. the last house for the night, past my bedtime at 9:30, we found our house! yes, it was the one that we had turned down before. what can we say? our realtor knew what he was doing! :) our house (i can call it ours now that we have moved in) was a flip house - prior to them flipping it, it was basically condemned, but they worked their magic and everything was brand new: carpet, furnace, plumbing, electrical, appliances, etc., basically a dream come true!

before (you needed a tetanus shot)

after
i don't even know where to connect the dots between putting in an offer and closing....

per usual, we counter-offered with the sellers several times before coming to an agreement. once an agreement had been reached, we found out that the house required an updated Certificate of Occupancy with the city of St. Paul before we could move in. after adjusting our offer and the contingencies, we set a closing date for January 17th. a week before closing, we received word that the city inspection had passed, the certificate had been issued and everything was in place to close on January 17th.

**plot twist**

we found out 2 days before closing that they did not show up to the inspection so an inspection had not been completed and we were so not good to close. thankfully, the city inspector was able to get out there the next day to sign everything off to ensure we could close on time.

**plot twist**

the city inspector was out there and signed everything off, but was out of the office the next 2 days and could not complete the appropriate paperwork for verification. oh yea, and the sellers didn't even show up to closing. awesome. so, this is where we were at - drew and i were leaving for Mexico in less than 2 weeks (more on that later) and needed to be out of our current place before we left. forget that drew was still healing and forget that we had that thing called work. to make a (really) long story, short, we spent the weekend sulking (and shopping) and the next week living out of the boxes we had already packed, but were able to close the following friday. we are now homeowners! and honestly, it was worth every sleepless night and headache - we absolutely love it! another amazing thing? as stressed and as tired as we were, we didn't argue once! we were in it together from the beginning and we just hunkered down (with a bottle of wine) and pushed through. maybe buying a house is for married people, but as i have mentioned before, drew and i tend to go by our own rules. plus, my kitchen is ALMOST as good as a ring :)

we were exhausted, but excited. the cats were just confused.
oh, the holidays? yea, we basically skipped those this year - like every year, we went our separate ways to continue family traditions (and we both had a blast, but can't wait to actually spend a holiday together).  mexico?! well, we literally just got back from mexico and i think that deserves  it's own post since MY BROTHER GOT MARRIED!!! did i forget to mention drew's birthday?! in the midst of the madness, drew turned 28 and he definitely feels older (must have been that 5th knee surgery). we spent the night out going to dinner at The Smack Shack (highly recommend it) followed by Acme Comedy club (even higher recommended). good food and lots of laughs, exactly what we needed! OH! i knew i was forgetting something - OUR ANNIVERSARY! with drew's surgery, the holidays, drew's birthday, going to mexico, buying a house and our anniversary, we had to pick and choose a few celebrations. we didn't plan anything for our anniversary this year (OMG, i didn't even do a Instagram collage) because we were supposed spend our anniversary with a magical weekend moving into our first home. well, as you now know, that fell through and whoever thought that moving was magical? moving sucks! anyway, we pushed back our celebration with the closing and after a day of moving, we exchanged cards, drank a glass of wine and rock, paper, scissored who was going to hang old curtains over our windows (we didn't get blinds hung as quickly as we expected) before collapsing into bed. before passing out, we promised our next anniversary would be more glamorous. again, we go by our own rules.  

i promise once i get caught up, i will return to the purpose of my blog - recipes and fitness (and cats)!

always striving for more,
dee b.

Monday, November 4, 2013

basil feta stuffed peppers with garlic tahini sauce

i am pretty proud of this recipe because instead of modifying this recipe, i created it from scratch. in the past, i have made stuffed peppers with a Mexican flair to it, because what goes better with peppers (and life) than Mexican food?

this recipe was inspired by my financial stress (remember this?) and forcing myself to put something together on what was in our kitchen versus finding a recipe and heading to the grocery store to put it together. thanks to Sam's Club, we had few ingredients, but in bulk....

basil feta stuffed peppers with garlic lemon tahini sauce:.

>> 4 peppers
>> 1 cup of quinoa (red or white), cooked
>> 1/2 cup mushrooms
>> 1/2 cup broccoli
>> 3 tomatoes (i used Roma, but obviously any kind would work), diced
>> 1 lb of ground beef
>> 1 cup feta cheese
>> basil (i used dried, but would prefer fresh)
>> 2 cloves of garlic, minced
>> salt and pepper
>> coconut oil (or olive oil)

preheat oven to 300. in a large pan, heat coconut oil and garlic. once the coconut oil is melted, sauté mushrooms, broccoli and tomatoes. in a separate pan, brown the ground beef. add the cooked quinoa and browned meat to the large pan of vegetables, remove from heat. stir until well mixed. add basil, salt and pepper (how much you prefer) and feta cheese. stir until well mixed. while everything is cooking, you will want to prepare the peppers - cut tops off (not too much, just enough to open it up) and 'gut' them. once the quinoa/meat mixture is cooked, stuff each pepper with the mixture and drizzle the top with olive oil to prevent the quinoa from drying out in the oven. place in a pan that allows the peppers to stand up (i used my infamous Pyrex cake pan). bake at 300 for about 30 minutes.

garlic lemon tahini sauce:.

>> 1 clove of garlic, minced
>> 2 tbsp lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
>> 1/3 cup tahini sauce
>> 1/3 cup water

mix well with a fork and put in the fridge to stiffen - should have a yogurt consistency. drizzle over the peppers once you pull them out of the oven. warning: you may want more than that, so you should probably keep extra on your plate.



                                     0.jpg

this recipe made plenty - you could either use it to stuff 6+ peppers or save the leftovers for something else. i used the leftovers to mix in with spaghetti squash a few days later.

i promise the recipes that i post are easy - do not let the 'different' ingredients trick you!

give it a try and let me know what you you think!

always striving for more,
dee b.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

picture perfect:.

how do you define the perfect picture? what you see on TV or in magazines? Facebook? Instagram?  in a world that is getting smaller and smaller thanks to technology and social media, its easy to lose perspective on what is in front of us. through social media, its easy for people to portray their life in a rose-colored lens making the rest of us feel like we should be keeping up - i know i am not the only one who struggles with this.

cleaning is often my time to decompress, to think and reflect. today, while i was cleaning, i reflected on the purpose behind all the things that i do. this week i stressed myself over money (like i frequently do). i had to get a new battery for my car which wasn't part of my 'planned' budget. this planned budget is extremely strict - i plan my budget about 5 paychecks ahead of time (yes, i do already have christmas spending marked in my datebook). i plan my budget with maybe $30 in my checkings to play with the day before payday. when this relatively inexpensive necessity came up, i was stressed, extremely annoyed and almost disappointed in myself when i had to move some money from my savings into my checkings to get me until friday (payday). drew, who is mr. finance (thank god!), often reminds me of the different, positive financial things that i have. that a savings is a safety net for emergencies, like a new car battery, and i am lucky to have one versus relying on a credit card for emergencies.

without divulging too much on my financial situation and frankly, boring you, i'll share a couple quotes with you that help me keep perspective.

if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

to walk in a place of contentment, there are 2 things you have to do:.
1. focus on the good aspects of what you already have
2. stop thinking about what you don't have

why do i care if my house is clean? why do i care if i get my butt out of bed for 6 am yoga? why do i care if i have a savings and that it grows each month? to be honest, i'm not sure. i know that i have big plans to travel, buy a house and have financial security for myself and family. i know that my health is important to me and working out keeps me sane. i know that i enjoy cooking and take pride in providing healthy, yet tasty meals for drew and i. i know that i am much more relaxed in a clean house. i also know that i add a lot of stress in my life trying to create the 'perfect picture'.

with this, i challenge you (and myself) - create your OWN perfect picture - don't let anyone or anything else, especially Facebook or Instagram, define it for you because in reality, you can't filter life.

always striving for more,
dee b.