Game Time

Last night, I went to a Timberwolves vs. Clippers game at the Target Center. Although I originally wasn’t planning to attend, my appreciation for basketball combined with the availability of a free ticket left me no option but to head to the game. One warning if you’re going to a T-wolves game at the Target Center: they take their security really seriously! I was almost forced to check my draw-string shoe bag, and I wasn’t allowed to bring my Nalgene into the arena – even if I emptied it of water! To say this exchange with the security guard left me disgruntled would be an understatement. Luckily, my indignation passed soon enough.

Unfortunately, turns out that you get what you pay for when it comes to seats. This is what our $8 (or free, in my case) tickets got us:

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Are those even people down there?! The arena was far from full though, and we used halftime as an opportunity for some sneaky maneuvering that brought us here:

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Not bad, eh? My enjoyment of the game increased significantly once we were in the lower level near the court. In the balcony, there were very few people, no crowd excitement to speak of, and I could see the jumbotron screen better than the court. In contrast, the lower level was big time fun with lots of riled fans and a clear view of all the action. The game was close overall – especially for the last few minutes – but the T-Wolves ended up falling behind at the end and losing.

After the game is when the real adventure began as my life became a scene from this:

Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) Poster
[image source]

or this:


[image source]

Yep. No one in my group remembered to notice where we left the car in the parking garage. After wandering through the whole 4th floor, we went to the 5th, to return to the 4th…you get the idea. And did I mention that it was freezing?! After what felt like years (although I was assured it had been no more than 20 minutes), we spotted the most beautiful sight on earth:

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HALLELUJAH! Take away messages of the evening: 1) Buy good game seats or stay at home, 2) don’t lose your car.

Party Dinner

It’s simple arithmetic really:

good friends + good food = one lovely evening

Originally, there were two of us. Then three. Then four. And four’s a party. So, behold, what I now consider to be the best party dinner…

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MAKE YOUR OWN SPRING ROLLS!

Why, you ask, are spring rolls the best party dinner? Let me count the ways:

1. There are enough small tasks for everyone to be involved with the prep.
2. You get to assemble your meal gathered around the table together.
3. It’s healthy!
4. It’s fun!
5. It’s easy!
6. You are guaranteed to laugh at least once when someone accidentally gets the wrapper they are preparing ripped/mangled/stuck to itself/stuck to something else.

The only things you need for this fabulous, festive feast are:

– a bunch of your favorite vegetables chopped into strips (we used carrots, cucumbers, avocado, and green onions)
– protein of your choice (we used chicken)
– rice noodles (optional, if you want to bulk up your rolls)
– fresh herbs of your choosing (we used basil)
– spring roll wraps
– dipping sauce, if desired

First, cut all the veggies into strips:

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Cook the chicken in a skillet. Flavor with soy sauce, if desired.

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Making your own peanut sauce is really easy, so I would recommend giving it a try! This is a combo of soy sauce, fresh ginger, chunky peanut butter, and a little hot water (tip: it’s very important that the water be HOT!).

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You will need to stir vigorously to combine the sauce, so don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t look right at first.

Cook the rice noodles, if using, on the stove:

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Once all of the ingredients are ready, assemble everything on the table and prepare some hot water in a skillet for prepping the wrappers:

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The spring roll wrappers will be something like hard, thin, crackers to start with. You need to dip them in the hot water to soften. Once softened, the wrappers will also be sticky so you can fold up your roll after stuffing. You will probably master this step on the second try. 🙂

softened wrapper

softened wrapper

Finally, the best part, add all the ingredients you want, roll up, and enjoy!

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Yes, definitely a party. 🙂

Turkey Tacos

As promised, here is the turkey tacos recipe to accompany yesterday’s black bean salad. This recipe is fast, simple, and delicious. In fact, I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t make it. Unless you’re a vegetarian…but then you could make it with soy crumbles. So, yep, absolutely no reason why everyone shouldn’t make it. (full recipe below)

All you need are these ingredients:

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Plus ground turkey. Raw meat, as it turns out, is not photogenic.

Cook ground turkey with taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water in a skillet at medium-high heat:

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Chop tomatoes and add to the turkey once the meat has browned:

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Chop cilantro and add to skillet:

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Serve in tacos and enjoy!

Turkey Tacos
Serves 4
Ingredients
- 1.25 lbs extra lean ground turkey
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 taco seasoning packet
- 3 small tomatoes
- 1/4 cup cilantro
Method
Cook turkey, water, and seasoning in a skillet over medium-high heat 
until meat has browned.
Add chopped tomatoes and chopped cilantro.
Mix and cook until vegetables are warmed through and the meat is 
no longer pink.

Meal example:

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Last nights dinner was turkey tacos plus black bean salad, 1/2 avocado, and a few scoops salsa.

Inner Artist and Black Bean Salad

Tonight was the first meeting of my Minneapolis Community Ed. watercolor class. I took this same class in the fall and loved it. The teacher is fun, easy going, and supportive. Also, since I’ve accepted the fact that I am unlikely to paint on my own, having a class on my schedule is the only way to ensure that I will release my inner artist. This term’s painting focus is ‘birds.’ I worked on a swan and played around with a setting-sun landscape.

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The class has only 8 people, and it was fun to walk around and see some of their work as well.

In addition to learning, my day involved some cooking. I made a black bean salad to pair with turkey tacos.

For the black bean salad, drain and rinse one LARGE can of beans (I used one 25oz. can, but two 15oz. cans would work just fine):

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Chop 3 large sweet peppers:

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Chop 1/4 cup cilantro:

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Mix it all together and…

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…voila! Easy peasy. For dinner, I had turkey tacos with black bean salad and a half avocado:

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Turkey tacos recipe will be posted tomorrow, so check back soon!

Treadmill Run and DELISH Breakfast

Remember the snow yesterday? This is what it looked like this morning:

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I snapped that pick while heading to the gym for some NROLFW Stage 3. The area of focus for today’s workout was definitely the back, and I felt a little sore after. I also did a quick treadmill run. I did a variation of Fitness NYC’s 3s and 5s treadmill challenge. Since I’m trying not to run more than 3 miles at a time until my knee/IT band issue is fixed, I had to modify the workout a bit. Here is what I did:

set treadmill at 1% incline
time (mins)          speed
0-3                          6.0
3-6                          6.5
6-7                          7.5
7-8                          6.0
8-9                          7.5
9-12                        6.7
12-15                      6.1
15-18                      6.7
18-19                      7.5
19-20                     6.0
20-21                     7.5
21-22                     6.0
22-23                     7.5
23-26                     7.0
26-27                     6.5
27-28                     7.0
28-29                      6.5
29-30                     6.0

The run ended up being 3.3 miles. Whoops. 🙂

After the gym, I had THE MOST DELICIOUS BREAKFAST EVER. You absolutely must make these two recipes immediately:

1. caramelized bananas
2. couscous breakfast bake

Then you must combine them (and smear with nut butter, obviously) and enjoy this:

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Soooo good.

Couscous Breakfast Bake

My original plan was to make some sort of baked oatmeal that I would use for breakfasts throughout the week. Unfortunately, that plan was foiled by the fact that I only have about a half cup of oatmeal in my cupboard.

Wanted: a grain that I own in abundance. Found: couscous. Couscous for breakfast, you say? It can be done! (full recipe below)

It’s simple really. All you need are these basic ingredients…

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milk (or something like it) + allspice + cinnamon + raisins (or dried fruit of choice) + couscous

Mix it all together with the appropriate quantities and pour into sprayed baking dish:

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TIP: make sure to spray the dish the first time instead of pouring it in, realizing you forgot to spray, taking it out, cleaning the dish, drying the dish, actually spraying the dish, and repouring the mixture. Not that I did that or anything. 😉

Bake it at 450° for 25-30 minutes until browned:

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looks like breakfast!

This combined with caramelized bananas and nut butter, #SeeYouEveryMorningThisWeek

Couscous Breakfast Bakeserves 4
Ingredients
- 1 cup couscous
- heaping 1/4 cup raisins or dried fruit of choice
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 and 1/4 cup milk substitute of choice (or milk...if you're into that)
Method
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. 
Pour into a greased baking dish and bake for 
25-30 minutes at 450°

Yep. It’s that easy. 🙂

Snow + Warm Bananas

The weather here in Minneapolis took a dramatic turn towards ‘winter wonderland’ today. This was the view at 2:00pm after only about 20 minutes of snow:

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…and one hour later it looked like this:

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There is so much snow now! Maybe this will facilitate some cross-country skiing next weekend. 🙂

Obviously, a cold snowy day calls for something warm and delicious. Given how much I adore bananas, they were the ingredient of choice. I mixed two sliced bananas with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil:

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Arranged on a greased baking tray:

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Cooked in the oven at 375° for 30 minutes.

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mmmm, look at that caramelization! I will be including this in my breakfast tomorrow for sure.