Archive | June, 2012

Strawberry Basil Margaritas

29 Jun

Ideal summer mornings look something like this:

This morning was spent out at Spooner Farm, collecting berries with happy, sticky children. Different, but still pretty ideal. Picking fresh berries on a warm summer morning? Think about it. Sweet.


Many were quickly eaten as-is.



Some of us (me) want more. Some of us (me) like to complicate simple things. This time, “more” worked out.


Strawberry-Basil Margaritas

Serves 2. Or 1.

  • 1c strawberries
  • 1/4c gold tequila
  • 2 Tbs Grand Marnier
  • 1Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 2Tbs granulated sugar
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves
  • 8 ice cubes

Blend it, pour it, call it fruit serving, and move on with life.

Now, what to do with the leftovers?



Caprese Pasta Salad

27 Jun

Remember that caprese pasta salad I promised? I did make it for lunch yesterday. And I ate it for lunch yesterday, even though I went to Meconi’s, at the husband’s request, for subs and chips for him and his friend while they did man/car things in our garage for 12 hours yesterday.

Light, summery, guilt-free fuel for a sore body. I wanted a sub. Desperately. But I have lunch plans there for Thursday. Self control, Jess. Self control. It’s a struggle for me. I cave a lot. Meconi’s get a lot of business from us.

Cold Caprese Pasta Salad

  • fresh basil (grow your own. If you eat as much basil as I do, you’ll save tons of $. I bought an already grown, healthy, and potted basil plant from Trader Joe’s for $2.99.)
  • Cherry tomatoes or (my fave) heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • whole wheat penne or fusilli
  • fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • balsamic vinaigrette (I use Garlic Gold’s. On everything, lately.)

Boil pasta just to al dente. This a cold salad. No mush, please. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again, spritz ever-so-lightly with olive oil to prevent stickiness while cooling. Cool completely. Add chopped basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella. I did not measure anything. Use as a much or as little of whatever as you like. But try to keep it light on the mozzarella 😉

Drizzle with a small amount of balsamic vinaigrette (2 Tbs?) and toss to coat.

Topped with about 1/2 cup of Monday’s leftover grilled chicken breast, shredded.

Eat while watching greasy men gorge on subs, chips, and cola in your now-filthy garage. Or don’t. I did. Only for entertainment purposes. It’s like lunching with another species. Fascinating.

Serious Eats for Serious Lifters

26 Jun

I’m sore. Like, having a hard time typing this sore. Day 1 of Jess getting re-serious about lifting is in the past. Thank goodness. Can only improve from here. Ouch everywhere. But in a good way.

Thankfully, I remembered to tweak my eating habits accordingly. Protein. Lean. Clean. Enough carbs and fat to carry me through. Okay, I went to Meconi’s and had a turkey sub on whole wheat. I can justify pretty much anything “on whole wheat.” Especially when I spend the morning with a barbell.

Not going to lie: I had trouble digesting so much. So good, though. A 5 mile walk with my neighbor helped. 5 miles goes fast when there’s much talking to be done.

By the time dinner rolled around, I was already feeling the tightness, soreness, and exhaustion setting in, protein was definitely on the menu.

Super Simple Grilled Chicken and Parmesan Roasted Zucchini



•3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
•Ken’s Light Northern Italian Dressing & Marinade, enough to cover chicken
•4 zucchini, sliced
•2 Tbs Parmesan
•1-2 tsp olive oil
•Salt and pepper

Step 1: Marinate chicken at least 2 hours. Grill on medium-high heat until juices run clear.

Step 2: Preheat oven to 375. Slice zucchini, lightly coat with the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and Parmesan. Put on baking rack or nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes.



Step 3: pass out for 12 straight hours, “cause you work hard and it’s time for a break, darn it,” says body.

See? Easy. You should do this today.

A Personal Post

25 Jun

I want to take a little break from food to talk about a major mental road-block that many, myself included, occasionally suffer from: anxiety.

For me, what started as an amazing weekend, ended up being a rough couple days. I have a lot on my plate right now (and I’m not talking food. Boo.) and the stress of it all came to a head suddenly and without warning at about 1AM Saturday morning. I mean full-blown panic attacks. One after another. Bam bam bam. 4AM rolled around and, still laying there, shaking like an overly-dramatic leaf, I began to have more anxiety about how on Earth I was going to get through the day on no sleep and being completely physically and emotionally drained. Coffee and a nice veggie sandwich helped, even though I did not get down more than a few bites/sips. Long story short: it was not a good day. And if you’ve ever experienced a panic attack (some, if not most of you probably have at one time or another, statistically), you know how embarrassing it can be. I’m lucky to have understanding friends who are used to me. And very glad they do not have to live with me, I assume.

Last night I slept decently for the first time in days and today I feel a little weak and tired, but the anxiety has subsided for now. However, in the past a panic-attack has triggered a response in me that lasted for months. Panic attacks about the possibility of another panic attack. I do not want to go down that road again. It’s a dark and sad and scary place that no person should ever have to experience, especially not more than once. Even writing this helps. Admitting weakness is a form of building strength. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

I have a plan this time.

My Plan

Physical strength has a way of carrying over into all other aspects of life. I know this. I’ve lived this. I have been slacking because anxiety wants me to sit and wallow and carry on like a ridiculous basket-case. So, I’m busting out the big guns:

1) Ignore the self-doubt, push through the waves of anxiety, risk more embarrassment. It is overwhelmingly hard, but not has hard as it could be if left to fester. Better jump in. All roads at this point are uncomfortable and/or incredibly stressful. Might as well feel my feelings while doing something good for myself.

Should be called “Saving You from Yourself Through Strength.” That’s my opinion, anyway.

2) Make a list. Of things. Notes. Write in a private journal. Study it. Clearly my life needs a major overhaul. I wish Extreme Life Makeover was a real thing. I need professionals.

3) Eat clean. Drink enough water. This blog will help because I have to make clean, healthy food in order to post. Can you imagine Today I cried in fetal position under my bed while sucking down Pepsi and Fritos? No, that will not happen. Not publicly, anyway. I am not at all dramatic or anything. (I just totally sensed your eyes rolling. Justified.)

4) Stay busy by making good, productive choices. Even when that is the last thing on the planet I want to do. Being an adult is hard.

Okay, I’m done whining now.

That’s all I’ve got so far. More of a plan than I had the last time around, years ago. Go me.

No time like the present. I’m outta here.

How are YOU gaining strength today?

Weekend Things

25 Jun





Very Grown Up Grilled Cheeses

22 Jun

There are very few words to describe how I’m feeling today. Scattered, maybe. It’s definitely summer out there and that’s a good thing, minus the fact that I really just want to be laying in the yard with a pretty drink and no responsibilities, when in actuality I have laundry to the ceiling and children demanding to be cared for.

Dinner, I want you to be fun. And chic. So I can pretend I’m at a fabulous garden party and ignore reality for a few (more) minutes.

Since I’m leaving for the weekend, fresh bread and produce needs to be considered.

I am a woman who sees bread + cheese and grills it. Every. Time.

Grilled Ciabatta Sandwiches

Makes 8 small sandwiches

1) nectarine, basil, fresh mozzarella, salt, pepper
2) fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, sautéed zucchini, pepperoncini, pickled red onions, salt, pepper
Lightly brush bread with olive oil. Grill on med-low heat until the cheese has melted and the bread is perfectly toasted.

Well, hello there.

Balsamic drizzle on the nectarine. Trust me.

Also, sautéed zucchini is my new most favorite snack. How have I not been eating this the last 29 years?


I’m hot. But I imagine that has a lot to do with the fact that I just happened to catch another Dark Knight Rises preview. Whew.

Thai Lettuce Wraps with Avocado

21 Jun

This is the last of the Thai posts. Promise. Mostly because the Thai food is now gone.

Easy lettuce wraps:
•Leftover Thai chicken breasts
•Large leaves of green leaf lettuce
•Tomato slices

Roll or fold like a taco.
Dip in leftover cilantro-lime crema.


Variety is the spice of life and now that every last crumb of Thai taco, piece of pizza, and bite of chicken is gone . . . . I must be moving on. Adios. (I know that’s Spanish. I don’t speak Thai.)