Weekending: Frank Pepe’s Pizza, Boxing, Brunching & More

And just like that- the weekend is over in the blink of an eye! Don’t get me wrong- we certainly made the most of the weekend, but it doesn’t mean it makes it any easier when it’s over.

Friday

After work on Friday I did some shopping for shoes to wear to various wedding-related events. I ended up finding a few pairs at Off Saks, including these fun pink heels. What do you think?

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They’ve got a snake skin-ish type of material, too. Once we both got home, we headed over to Chestnut Hill to check out Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria. While there was a long line, we ended up getting seated in just about 35 minutes which wasn’t bad. We opted for their famous clam pizza and a traditional cheese pizza. Both of us were “meh” about the clam pizza but totally loved the cheese pizza. It was light and thin so you could eat multiple slices without feeling too weighed down. Definitely worth a trip if you’ve been thinking about checking it out.

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Conveniently next door was a little Gelateria, so obviously we had to stop and get one. I opted for the baby sized Biscoff and Hazelnut and both were amazingly good. I haven’t had gelato that good since Italy!

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Saturday

Saturday morning started with an awesome Bags & Body class at The Club, followed by mitt practice with Nicole. I have never done that so it was really humbling, but it felt good to be out of my comfort zone and learning something new. The best part? Nicole sent me home with some awesome fighters swag so I can be outfitted for my first class (more details soon!).

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After class I met up with a few friends to celebrate Jessi’s engagement. We went to Worden Hall in Southie which was another place on my “want to try” list. We got a bottle of bubbly and I got spinach and goat cheese omelet which was really tasty.

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I love girls luncheon dates! Jess had to leave after lunch but my sister stopped in so she, Jessi and I had another drink at Stephi’s in Southie before heading home. On my way home I offered to pick up food at Whole Foods for dinner so I opted to get food shopping for the week out of the way, too. The rest of the night was spent hanging out, making wings, eating left over pizza and watching House of Cards.

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I love Saturday night’s where I’m in bed by 10:30… yes, I’m 30 going on 75 😉

Sunday

After breakfast, I went to church and then came home and worked on my taxes. While spending 2 hours on that sucked, I’m getting a good chunk of money back which will come in very handy for the wedding! Once I was done, we went for a quick walk and then I finished off with a quickie 5K since it was so gorgeous out. I needed Vitamin D in a bad way!

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We finished off the day with the most delicious eggplant parm and chicken cutlets at RM’s mother’s house. I opted to not do any real meal prep this week since it’s my birthday week which was a nice change.

Although my Sunday was not nearly as productive as I wanted to, it was perfect. I had wanted to get to the gym to film a few BoxFIIT videos and work on that certification, but I decided that I wanted to go for a walk and a run MORE, so that took precedent over that. Sometimes you just have to pick and choose what’s important to you on a particular day… and sometimes that’s not in line with what you “should” do or what’s on your to-do list…. and that is totally fine.

With that, here’s to a good week! It’ll be a busy one for me due to birthday celebrations, but it’s all fun things so I can’t wait!

Questions for you: How was your weekend? Have you ever been to Pepe’s Pizza? Did you get in any good workouts? Did you go out to eat at all? Did you get out to enjoy the sunshine throughout the weekend? What’s going on this week?

Quick and Easy Chicken & Veggie Pasta Bake (gluten free!)

A few weeks ago, my sister and I ended up both being home at the same time on a Sunday night. We had been texting earlier in the day with regards to what we should make for dinner. She had picked up some new-to-her pasta at Target, so I suggested that we use that and the veggies I had leftover in the fridge to make a pasta bake. She was bummed that she bought a gluten free pasta on accident, but we both agreed that you couldn’t tell the difference whatsoever!

The beauty about pasta bakes- similar to stuffed peppers– is that you really can’t go wrong. You use what you have in the fridge for veggies and go from there. If you don’t have meat, no biggie- make it a vegetarian dish! I happened to have half a pound of ground chicken in the freezer so I was able to defrost that and it was perfect.

gluten free chicken and veggie pasta bake

Ingredients

  • 1 package of gluten free pasta (regular, if you didn’t accidently by gluten free like my sister did 😉 )
  • veggies of your choice- we used onion, red pepper, zucchini and summer squash- probably 1/2 cup of each
  • Ground meat- we used 1/2 lb. of ground chicken, but you could use turkey or beef or none if you wanted to have a vegetarian dish
  • 1/2 jar of marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup of cheese (mozzarella was our choice)

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350*. Cook pasta according to the back of the package.

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2. While the water is heating and the pasta cooking, cut up and sauté your veggies. When the veggies are soft, remove from the pan and add in the ground meat. Sauté until completely browned.

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3. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to a big bowl. Add in the veggies, meat and sauce and mix so that everything is coated with sauce. Pour in a 8X8 or 9X9 casserole dish and bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has a golden brown appearance.

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We broiled ours a little and this was the end result:

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This meal hit the spot on a cool Sunday evening. It was also a dish that- surprisingly- reheated really well! I’m not a huge pasta person, but every once and a while I crave and enjoy a nice pasta dish.

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Questions for you: Do you ever make pasta bakes? What are the ingredients you like to add? Have you ever had gluten free pasta?

 

Weekending: Party, Party, Party!

Hi there! I know I say this often, but last weekend was SO MUCH FUN! Starting with a gym friends party on Friday night, continuing on to my party and then a Sunday full of errands, laughs and “Sunday Dinner” with RM, it was pretty awesome.

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy our “gym friend” get togethers. I’ve got a lot of friends from various groups, but my gym friends are a group of girls that get my intense workout mindset, love of trying out new classes, and can relate to my crazy schedule. After the week I had last week, the combination of those things, as well as some amazinggggg (healthy!) food and drinks helped relax me from the week and get me excited for the weekend. The cause for this gym friends party was to celebrate Jen’s birthday. Jen is a huge inspiration for working out and eating healthy- she has lost so much weight over the past couple of months and looks truly fantastic. She has been doing two-a-days and eating healthy and you know what? It’s paid off BIG TIME. I’m so proud of her!

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I made these and they were a big hit!
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I finally slept well on Friday night- I can’t tell you how happy that made me! Kickboxing was a blast- the crowds are back and I loved that I will be there for the next 2 weekends. Burning 531 calories in under an hour is a great way to start the day 🙂

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After my class, I went home and got into full party prep mode. Thankfully my sister was around to help! I made a crockpot chili, we made Stromboli’s and buffalo chicken dip and we had a bunch of veggies, crackers, hummus and some cookies. Oh… and a lot of wine 😉 We were SO LUCKY that the weather was warm and sunny because there certainly wouldn’t have been enough room in my apartment if we were all stuck in there! I loved that it was kind of a random group of people who came… well, random in that there were friends from multiple different groups: gym, college, home, RM’s family… the best part was everyone was having a great time mingling with each other, which makes “hosting” easier 😉 Big thanks to everyone who came- and thanks for the wine, too!

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Sunday was a busy day for RM and me. We woke up and had some healthy pumpkin protein “pancakes” before hitting the road to check out a health food store in Quincy. Good Health was amazing! If you’re in the hunt for a fully stocked healthy food store, you should definitely head to Quincy- they had everything!

From there, we did food shopping at Whole Foods, car shopping and then had Sunday dinner at his brother and sister-in-law’s. It was fun re-hashing the party with them 🙂

I finally got home and sat down to relax around 7:30- and I was definitely in bed before 9 and I loved every minute of it!

Questions for you: What was the best part of your weekend? Did you get outside to enjoy the beautiful weather on Saturday? Do you like hosting parties?

Spinach, Red Pepper & Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Whenever my sister and/or I go home, our parents always ask us what we’d like for a “special” meal. It’s not that I don’t cook nice meals on my own, it’s just that there’s something about cooking when I’m home (or having my parents cook for me) that makes a meal EXTRA good. Amiright?

Over Easter weekend, my sister and my parents (I sat at the kitchen table, drank wine and kept them company….) whipped up a delicious stuffed chicken meal and ever since then I’ve been thinking of different variations that I could make. I think the key to making stuffed chicken meals even more delicious is including cheese in them, right? Lately, I’ve been a big fan of using Laughing Cow Cheeses in my dishes (Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash and Chicken with a Laughing Cow Cheese Sauce and Creamy, Cheesy, Sauteed Veggies), so I decided to continue the streak and use them in my stuffed chicken recipe.

Spinach, Red Pepper & Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients (serves 2-3 people, depending on how big your chicken breasts are)

  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • thin slices of red pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2-3/4 cups marinara sauce

Directions

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350*. Cut up your red peppers and onion and gather your spinach.

2. Rinse the chicken and cut a big slit into each breast horizontally (just make sure not to cut them in half!) so that you can stuff it with your ingredients. Layer the spinach first, then cut each wedge into smaller pieces and place on top of the spinach. Lastly, place the red peppers on top. Close the chicken breast and put a toothpick on either end to hold everything together.

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3. Heat a pan with a few tablespoons of EVOO. Once it is warm, place the chicken breasts in the pan as well as the onions. Let everything cook for 5-7 minutes.

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Clearly I didn’t have toothpicks and had to cut up some extra long matches to do the trick. Hey- whatever works!

4. When the chicken has browned on the outside, spread a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and place the chicken breasts and onions on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink).

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While this recipe did take some time to assemble (and requires touching raw chicken…), it was absolutely worth it in the end. I served my stuffed chicken along side a bowl of spaghetti squash, sauce and a bunch of wine-sautéed veggies. Ending my weekend on a healthy meal is the best way for me to get back on track for the week ahead. Anyone else do this?

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I’ve loved enjoying these leftovers all week- having a healthy dinner ready to quickly reheat after a long day and tough workout is my life saver!

Questions for you: What are your favorite ingredients to stuff chicken with? Do you like to end your weekend with a healthy meal or do you prefer to start fresh on Monday morning?

 

Stepping out of the box: Fall Curry Chicken

I think curry dishes are one of those “love it or hate it” types of dishes, right? It’s a very strong flavor and not something that everyone enjoys. I’ve never really loved curry dishes, so I was shocked when I came across a “Fall Curry Chicken” recipe in the November Shape magazine that just looked like I had to make it. Perhaps it was because it included butternut squash and apples and pumpkin seeds that made it so desirable? Whatever it is, I decided that it was a recipe that I had to make.

Unfortunately, as I am still building my herbs/seasoning collection, making this recipe meant that I had to buy most of the ingredients… probably part of the reason why my groceries were so much higher than normal (that, and Halloween candy!). Once I took a bite of the dish, though, I realized my expensive grocery trip was wellll worth it. The dish was incredibly flavorful and I loved the textures of the chicken, butternut squash, apples and seeds.

Fall Curry Chicken- Recipe from Shape Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 pods cardamom – I couldn’t find these at the grocery store so I skipped it. I don’t think it made a huge difference
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1lb), peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins – I forgot to buy these so I didn’t add them. I think I liked it better without.

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Directions

1. Preheat a sauté pan over medium-high. Season chicken with salt. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable oil and chicken strips to pan and sear for 2 minutes per side of until golden brown and cooked through. Remove cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.

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2. Add onion and remaining vegetable oil to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes or until onions begin to soften. Add curry powder, cayenne pepper, cardamom, and tomato paste and mix. Deglaze pan with coconut milk, scraping up cooked-on bits with a wooden spoon and mixing them into the sauce.

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3. Add squash to sauce and cover. Let simmer for 15 minutes (I ended up having to sauté for almost 30 minutes… therefore, I kept adding more coconut milk to ensure it wouldn’t get dried out) or until squash has softened. Return chicken and juices to pan. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add raisins and apple. Stir to combine.

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Serve yourself (and your guests, if you have some) a nice heaping of this topped with some roasted pumpkin seeds.

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You guys. This was SO GOOD! If you like curry or are more adventurous with flavors when you eat/cook, I highly suggest trying this. One thing I might do if I made this again would be to cook up some brown rice to serve this atop. It didn’t need rice, but I felt like I would have liked it. Other than that, I wouldn’t change anything!

Questions for you: Curry- love it or hate it? What’s your favorite type of food (Italian, French, Indian, Asian, etc.)? Do you follow recipes to a T or do you leave things out if you don’t have them?

Happy Halloween, btw! I hope you all have a fun day and treat yourself to some candy. I’m a firm believer in “everything in moderation”, which means eating candy on a candy Halloween!