Another week, another ingredient

It’s another week and another Blogger Secret Ingredient. 🙂  Week 56 to be exact.

Thank you, Julie, for selecting me to host this weeks secret ingredient. As a reminder, here is how all the fun goes down:

Each week, a new host picks an ingredient and anyone (food blogger or not) can submit a recipe.

The rules:

  1. The host picks an ingredient, preferably one that is in season, readily available, and not too expensive.
  2. The host links back to all the other previous weekly hosts.
  3. Participants create a unique recipe using the BSI and e-mail the host with their recipes.
  4. You do not have to have a food blog to participate, and you do not have to submit a photograph (although it is preferred).
  5. If you don’t have a blog, you can submit your recipe to the host, and she will post your recipe for you on her blog.
  6. The host reviews the recipe submissions by Sunday night of each week.
  7. The hosts pick a recipe that is her favorite.
  8. The host posts the winner Monday morning and sends the winner a token prize of her choosing.

    Make sure you visit all of these fabulous bloggers that have hosted the secret ingredient week in the past.

    Week 55: Savvy Eats– Maple Syrup

    Week 54: Sound Eats – Dried Fruit

    Week 53: MegaNerdRuns – Acorn Squash

    Week 52: Healthy Tipping Point – Pancake Mix

    Week 51: Live, Laugh Eat – Almond Butter

    Week 50: Balance, Joy and Delicias! – Cauliflower

    Week 49: Healthy San Diego Living – Chickpeas

    Week 48: Thought 4 Food – Yogurt

    Week 47: London Foodie in New York – Chocolate

    Week 46: Johnstone’s Vin Blanc – Oats

    Week 45: Guilty Kitchen – Figs

    Week 44: Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet – Peanut Butter

    Week 43: The Sophisticated Gourmet – Brown Sugar

    Week 42: My Kitchen Addiction – Lime

    Week 41: Nutmeg Nanny – Coffee

    Week 40: Chaya’s Comfy Cook – Broccoli

    Week 39: Healthy Delicious – Plums

    Week 38: Zoe – Feta

    Week 37: ChezWhat– Potatoes

    Week 36: Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice – Blueberries

    Week 35: Girlichef -Greens

    Week 34: The Ungourmet – Watermelon

    Week 33: Bread + Butter – Bell Pepper

    Week 32: Burp and Slurp -Corn

    Week 31: Say Yes to Salad – Kabocha

    Week 31 1/2: Simply Fabulous Now– Cherries

    Week 30: Thinspired – Bananas

    Week 29: To Be The Whole Package – Almonds

    Week 28: Kristas Kravings – Lemon

    Week 27: From French Fries To Flax Seeds – Coconut

    Week 26: Plentiful Plants – Avocado

    Week 25: Training Fuel – Eggs

    Week 24: Dinner at Christina’s – Cabbage

    Week 23: Hey What’s for Dinner, Mom? – Strawberries

    Week 22: One Bite at a Time – Basil

    Week 21:  Just Sweet Enough – Black Beans

    Week 20: What I Ate Yesterday – Kale

    Week 19: What’s for Dinner – Orange

    Week 18: Bran Appetit!–Spinach

    Week 17: Tales of Expansion -Dates

    Week 16: Biggest Diabetic Loser – Zucchini

    Week 15: Sweet & Natural –Peppermint

    Week 14: bella eats [and runs] – Ginger

    Week 13: Coffee Talk – Walnuts

    Week 12: For the Love of Oats – Pumpkin

    Week 11: Trying to Heal – Sweet Potatoes

    Week 10: The Inner Workings of a College Graduate – Eggplant

    Week 9: Itzy’s Kitchen – Pears

    Week 8: The Fitnessista – Cranberries

    Week 7: Tri to Cook – Lentils

    Week 6: Rhodey Girl Tests – Polenta

    Week 5: Eating Bender – Butternut Squash

    Week 4: Care to Eat – Apples

    Week 3: On a Lobster Placemat – Mushrooms

    Week 2: Hangry Pants – Tomatoes

    Week 1: sportsnutritionliving – Quinoa


    My secret ingredient came to me right away.  So what is it you ask?  Ricotta cheese!

    Ricotta is such a versatile ingredient.  It can be used for sweet and savory.  My kind of ingredient.

    Remember when I used it a few weeks back for my Super Stuffed Buffalo Chicken?  I also have been meaning to make a stuffed french toast with the secret ingredient as well.

    How you are going to use it is the most important question, my friends. :mrgreen:

    How to win/things to note for this week’s BSI:

    • Get creative and get cooking and baking in your kitchen!
    • Please e-mail me when you post your BSI recipe on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, send me your recipe and picture to
    • The BSI winner will receive a small prize!
    • You have until Sunday, November 15th at 8 PM EST to enter
    • Recipes will be posted on Monday morning along with the winner.

    Have fun!


    Blonde Moment

    I just pulled a major blonde move. Wow.

    But prior to the blonde moment happening, I had some delicious eats today. It was mostly a ‘snack yourself throughout the day’ type of day today, which most days are for me, post long run.

    Here are a few things that I did capture though…

    Pumpkin Honey Wheat Psncakes with mixed in berries. And, syrup of course.



    Many, many thoughtless handfuls of this combo. Veggie Cheddar Goldfish and Baked Cheetos.


    And then, my blonde moment came when it was time for dinner. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until after dinner what had happened.

    I was snapping photos of my dinner without the memory stick in the camera. And we have no cord for our camera. Ummm, duh Jenna! What makes it even better is me asking Mike how there were pictures of dinner on the camera. Yep, I forgot that cameras have a limited memory to hold pictures on the camera itself. Wowza.

    I can describe my dinner though. 😉

    First up, a pumpkin beer on our rooftop deck. It was a lovely evening in Minneapolis.


    For our meal we made TJ’s Orange Chicken with rice. Also, cooked up some green bell peppers, snap peas and onion to mix into the dish to add some veggies.

    Our thought on the TJ’s Orange Chicken? Pretty nasty. We didn’t look at the package when buying it to see that is said ‘dark meat’. We both aren’t fans of dark meat. While it was edible, there were some pieces that looked very questionable to us. And for Mike to say he wasn’t a fan of anything Chinese, that is saying, A LOT.

    It was also my first experience not liking something from TJ’s. 😦

    On the side, some TJ’s potstickers with peanut sauce. You can’t go wrong there. Regardless of the not so great chicken, I am definitely full and content.

    And for dessert, the best part of any day, right?

    We bought a school bus yesterday. But not just any school bus, one from Appletown School District.


    I know, I’m so clever. 😉

    The bus turned into a lovely crisp, using this recipe for Maple-Walnut Apple Crisp.

    I made a few adaptations based on what I had on hand. I used agave instead of maple syrup, nixed the walnuts and made the crumble topping x1.5.


    I can’t wait to have a large portion of this crisp tonight, with whipped cream and Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream melted on top.

    What are you having for dessert tonight?

    Pre-run hello

    Happy Sunday morning.

    I am headed out the door here as soon as I finish this post to go on a run.  I always need to fuel up a bit before a run, so I have my combo that never fails me.  Half of an Arnold’s Thin with almond butter and banana.

    I gives me the carbs, the protein and fat and the sugars to fuel me through.



    I also always bring along some sort of candy or dried fruit to dig into later in my run if I feel a little low on sugar.   I need to stop at my neighborhood convenience store before I head out to get some Dots or Skittles.  😉

    I am outta here!  Do you have any routines/go to foods that you have before a workout and/or during a workout?

    Pie, oh my!

    Shephard’s Pie that is. :mrgreen:

    Evening y’all.  Today was quite the packed day in the end.

    The Gopher game was a lot of fun, what a beautiful stadium.  And the suite was sweeeet, thank you, corporate America.  You are great for some things.  Unfortunately the Gophers lost, however, we did snag some good food for FREE.  Brauts and sauerkraut, berries, cheese and crackers and some Chicago mix popcorn, my favorite.

    After the game, it was grocery store time.  Of course, we got a lot of food, way more than we probably need.  We need to go on a grocery budget over at this house.  No joke.  Oh, and I also got some goodies for one of my favorite bloggers too. 😉

    We walked in the door with our groceries and I immediately felt a wave of stress looking at our mess of an apartment.  So after putting away our groceries, we did a serious deep clean to our pad.  Wow, I feel a million times better.  Amazing what a clean environment can do for you, huh?

    I also worked on my self hosted page.  I think I am making progress people.  I ran into a bit of an issue with transferring my current blog over, it is a bit to big, whoops.  So I’m working with some people over at BlueHost to try and help me solve the issue.

    Packed day huh?  I really needed a comforting meal this evening after all that activity.

    While searching online today for recipe inspirations for this next week, I came across ‘Shepards Pie’.  While I have never had this dish myself, my friend Kim at work had brought in leftovers a few months back.  With one look at her leftovers and asking her what was in it, I knew Mike and I would love it.

    Until today, I had forgotten about Shepard’s Pie.  I made my own variation, but based my recipe off of this.

    Jenna’s Shepard’s Pie:


    • 2 lbs. baking potatoes, skin on
    • 1 cup mushrooms
    • 2 carrots, peeled (slice into small slivers)
    • 2 celery stalks, (slice into small slivers)
    • 1 small purple onion (chopped)
    • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
    • 1 jalapeno (minced)
    • 1 cup corn
    • 3/4 cup beef broth
    • 3 squirts of ketchup/tomato paste
    • Heaping half cup of your choice of cheese (we used Mexican)
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1 lb. lean hamburger
    • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

    Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

    Chop the potatoes into cubes and boil for 20 minutes until soft.

    While the potatoes are boiling, saute carrots for 5 minutes on medium high heat.  Add in additional veggies, cook on medium heat 8-10 minutes.

    While the veggies are cooking, brown hamburger.  Once cooked through, add in flour and stir in.  Add in ketchup, beef broth and veggies, cook 5 minutes.

    While the above mixture is cooking, stir in sour cream or yogurt and mash potatoes with a fork.  Add in cheese.

    Place the hamburger/veggie mixture into a 8×8 pan.  Top with the mashed potato mixture.  Bake for 16 minutes.  Enjoy!

    So totally not the prettiest, but out of the oven:



    With bbq and ranch for dipping.  And the butt of a sourdough loaf, of course.


    And I am now full and have a semi-stomach ache.  Totally worth it.I am off to cozy up on the couch and watch Management with Jennifer Aniston.  I love her.  Anybody seen it?

    I am contemplating baking apple crisp tonight, but I think I am just a tad bit too lazy this evening, so it will have to wait until tomorrow night.  There is always ice cream or cookies that could and will definitely be had tonight.

    Later, gators.  Enjoy your evening!

    Up and at em

    I’m ready to rock and roll this morning. I got a whopping 10 hours of sleep last night. How sweet is that?

    I wanted to thank all of my awesome readers for the great discussion on my question from yesterday. I love bringing up news stories and articles to share with you all and have a discussion around it.  I think I’ll do it more often.  Thoughts?

    I think we all agree that it is a double-edged sword, with the pros not outweighing the cons, and vice versa, very much. It is a subject matter that I will definitely be continuing to check into because I find it very interesting and very controversial.

    Sarah pointed out a major positive that I wasn’t aware of though.  I think we are all aware of the book/blog ‘Eat This, Not That’.  Apparently, most restaurants have pulled the ‘not that’ dishes from their menu’s. I think we can all agree that this is a positive action taken.  Some of those dishes are NASTY.  Not just the fat and calories, but the sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat, the additives, etc.   So, thank you Sarah, for sharing that info with us!

    If you haven’t had a chance to comment on the issue, please do.  I think we all would love to see more peoples opinions!

    But let’s back up to last night quick…

    Now, I don’t have any photographs, but I had a wonderful time at happy our with my buddies Jonathan, Brian and Angela. I enjoyed a few beers, but then my tiredness was really, really catching up with me. So home I went, absolutely starving.

    Exhibit A of why I never let myself get too hungry- I eat everything in sight. Well, just a lot. 🙂

    I had a bagel and cream cheese, some pita chips and hummus, some Dove chocolates, a white chocolate covered Oreo w/ pb smeared on top (I really wanted a few more, but everything in moderation, right?) and a banana. Yes folks, this is what happens to you when you haven’t eaten in about 6 hours. Well, at least for me!

    And I admit, I also had some Cheetos when Mike got home, lol. Hey, I had to catch up on my calorie intake, I had a long run yesterday. 😉

    But that was yesterday, and today is today.  Which is a new day with healthier eating habits.

    As you know, I am off to the Gopher game with some box tickets that I got from my company.  No idea how I landed these, but hey, I’ll take them!

    I’m not very hungry this morning.  I find that the mornings after I have even just two drinks, my body just isn’t craving food.  Does this happen to anybody else? This mornings probably has something to do with my back loading of calories last night too, but even when I don’t do that, this happens.  Very odd.

    But since I am leaving here in a bit, I knew I needed to eat.  And I don’t want to rely on stadium food, although I may have to share something with Mike….

    I made myself a PB + J on an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin.






    Love pb  + j, never lets me down.  And yes, the above photo was my attempt at an artistic photo this morning.  I totally failed, lol.  I think I am still half asleep.

    Well we are off.  After the game we’ll be hittin’ up the grocery store, my favorite thing ever.

    Also, Julie over at Savvy Eats has given me the spark once again to try to figure out my own domain.  My goal is to really try to have it figured out soon.  *Crossing my fingers*  Thanks for the kick in the booty Julie, I needed it!

    Okay, peace out.  What are you doing today?

    I <3 scones

    HAPPY FRIDAY!!! We’ve finally reached the end of the week my friends. Anybody have any fun plans this weekend?

    I am going to happy hour after work with some work friends. Then tomorrow, Mike and I got football tickets in my company’s box for the Gopher football game tomorrow morning. After that, it is going to be 100% relaxation. Whoohoo! 🙂

    Since I will be unable to workout tomorrow morning (at least without having to wake up at an ungodly hour, which I won’t be doing) and having the strict ‘I NEED to relax’ guideline for the rest of the day, I sucked it up and went to the gym this morning.

    I usually take it easy on Fridays and either don’t workout at all or do some form of yoga. Today however, I ran 7 miles in 70 minutes. A nice, slow and steady pace. Now I totally deserve my scone. :mrgreen:

    Last week when we went to get our scones they only had three left.  Thank goodness we had gotten there just in time. I mean, what would I have done if they were out? Lol. And lucky enough, there were three of us wanting scones.

    My friend Brian and I fought over who would get the cinnamon chip that was left, both our favorite flavor.  The other two flavors were blueberry (kind of lame) and toffee (sounded too intense for an a.m. ‘meal’).  I of course got the cinnamon chip. 😉  Thanks Brian!



    Totally lame of me for getting the same kind over and over.  Semi-boring for you too.  So, I’ve told myself that if they have a new flavor that I haven’t tried this morning, I will get it.  No ifs, ands or buts.

    On the lunch front…

    So I’ve decided that if I bring my breakfast and lunch Monday-Thursday, I will treat myself to a healthy lunch out on Friday’s.  So while I didn’t necessarily fulfill those requirements this week, I am going to pretend that they start next week.  Ok?  Ok. 🙂

    I have been having a serious Jimmy John’s craving this week.  There is one in our building and every single morning when I walk in I smell the scent of fresh-baked bread.  It kills me.  Literally everyday.  So I’ll crush my craving today!

    It is up in the air as to what I will be getting.  Many of their sandwiches nutritionals are pretty frightening.  So it will more than likely be between the Turkey Tom and the Vegetarian.

    While I won’t be getting the below sandwich, which I believe is the Vito, it sure looks rather tasty.

    jimmy johsn

    So while I was looking at nutritionals for the different sandwiches, the question of the day popped into my head.  **FYI, I do NOT count calories.  It just is interesting to me to see where different sandwiches at a major chain rank in terms of the value they provide to our bodies.

    What is your thought on the new regulations that enforce the calories to be listed next to the corresponding menu item? There are many, many articles relating to this topic.  But if you are unfamiliar with it, here is one article published in the NYT’s.

    I could really see it either way.

    On one end, it will bring a ‘sticker shock’ realization to many restaurant goers as to what they really are putting into their bodies.  I believe a large portion of our country’s population really have no clue what proper nutrition is.  What it would look like.  And just how many calories they can consume in one restaurant meal.  Hello, like a whole days worth!

    On the other side though, I believe it sends a negative message out to young girls and boys, even adults, that calories are the end all be all.  Which could encourage people to get so caught up in calorie counting and then spiral to behaviors unintended, for instance, eating disorders.  We are already bombarded with unrealistic body types, workout regiments, and menus everywhere we look.  Celebrities, Entertainment Tonight, gossip magazines, fitness magazines, all sources of, at times, negative energy.

    While you may not agree with my two cents, that is just fine. It just one persons opinion.  Please, feel free to share your own.

    Happy Friday, y’all!

    Indian Pizza

    I kind of had Indian pizza for dinner tonight.  Okay, well not really.  More like American pizza made on an Indian bread.  But half way there in my mind.

    We didn’t have any pizza dough, tortilla’s, or frozen pizza on hand tonight, but all we both wanted was some pizza.

    In an effort to make a health(ier) version of pizza, and more importantly save some dough before the holiday season, I pulled out some TJ’s naan from the freezer. 🙂

    On top of the basics, the naan and the pizza sauce, I started to pile on the veggies.

    • Basil
    • Mushrooms
    • Onion
    • Broccoli
    • Mushrooms
    • Jalapeño


    Then, I topped my pizza with not one, not two, not three, but four different cheeses!  I know, I’m going wild, lol.

    Can you guess the kinds?



    We’ve got: mexican, Monterey jack, parmesan, and cream cheese.  Yes, you heard that right.  Cream cheese.

    I got the idea to place blobs of cream cheese on my pizza from Mike’s old roommate.  He had pizza at a restaurant where they had gobs of cream cheese on top of the pizza.  Sounds very questionable, I know.  I felt the same way.  However, the first time I tried it a few months back, I fell in love. Give it a whirl, let me know what you think.

    Pippin’ hot out of the oven.



    I had some ranch on the side for dipping purposes.  As well as many, many pita chips + hummus while making dinner.

    I’m off to hang out with Mike before he jams tonight.  We’ve barely seen each other all week. 😦

    Oh, and for dessert, I am thinking a yogurt mess!

    What is a pizza topping that you like, or have tried, that may be a little questionable to some?